The Dish: The Torture Defenders Fan Out.
“The US did torture many many people with techniques devised by Nazis and Communists, sometimes in former KGB facilities. The CIA itself admits in its internal documents that none of it worked or gave us any actionable intelligence that wasn’t discovered through legal means. The torture techniques were not implemented by highly-trained professionals, but by goonish amateurs who concealed what they were doing and lied about it to superiors.” It’s going to be a tough few days, once this report disseminates and the opinionators opine.
NY Times: Bush and C.I.A. Ex-Officials Rebut Torture Report.
“Delaying release of the Senate report because of possible negative repercussions for national security is a red herring. [snip] Maintaining secrecy around a defunct torture program is the real liability as doing so denies us the right to debate what happened and make sure it is never repeated.”
WSJ: Republican Victory in Senate Sets Stage for Antiabortion Push in 2015.
Ah, lovely. They can’t help shooting themselves in the foot; they will end up being the Democrat’s best friends for 2016, if they push this kind of thing over the next two years.
NY Times: Rolling Stone Cites Doubts on Its Story of Gang Rape.
“We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.” Oh, that’s not going to help now. Lawsuits will fly. Previously here.
Later: Apparently WaPo is spearheading looking into the details.
Guardian.UK: Lorca mystery may soon be solved but much of Spain’s past remains buried.
begins its weeping.
It is useless
to hush it.
to hush it.
NY Times: Is Our Art Equal to the Challenges of Our Times?
Later: Sorry about the overdramatic quotes (removed). Triple-tasking today. But y’all knew that.
Youtube: Random Acts of Pasta.
Some nice news, for once.
NY Times: Pace of Health Care Cost Increases Falls to a 54-Year Low.
Why? “... and the proliferation of high-deductible health insurance plans, which tend to discourage the use of care by requiring consumers to pay more of the cost.” That, that’s what I’m hearing quite a bit about. And it will affect voters for ‘16.
Open Culture: Chrissie Hynde’s 10 Pieces of Advice for “Chick Rockers” (1994).
Slate: Why didn’t a Rolling Stone writer talk to the alleged perpetrators of a gang rape?
Of note. The authors of this piece don’t say it straight out, but they seem to smell something wrong.
Diane Ravitch Blog: How to Analyze False Claims about Charter Schools.
“An op-ed by Congressman Danny Davis noted that the Noble Network suspends 51% of its students at least once during a school year. This includes suspending 88% of the African American students who attend its schools. It might be hard to understand why a school would want to suspend so many of its students … until you realize that this encourages students to leave. And it specifically encourages the more challenging students, the ones most likely to bring down test scores and college graduation rates, to depart.” Flagged as an important read. Go. Now.
Youtube: A RED thank you.
Bono was out, of course, Chris Martin stepped in (7 minutes in) ... but fast-forward to Springsteen at 38 minutes in.
Guardian.UK: How a ruby-red Texas town turned against fracking.
“The fracking ban that comes into effect on Tuesday in the heart of Texas may never have happened at all, if industry had not insisted on fracking beside a local hospital, a children’s playground, and the 100-year-old farmhouse that was Cathy McMullen’s retirement dream. That brought fracking a step too far.” This is how they operate, take note. And nary a penny for infrastructure improvements. YOU pay for that, as a taxpayer.
NY Times: Bill Cosby Resigns From Temple University Board.
Wow. That’s major, knowing how he cares for his alma mater.
The Dish: Why Doesn’t Ferguson Happen Abroad?
Some of the media is getting closer to reality ...
NY Daily News: Worker dies at LI Wal-Mart after stampede.
If you’re going to break property, trample and kill a human ... why stop there? Why bother to pay for those purchases?
“Civilization” is a very thin thread indeed.
The Nation: Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop.
“Wanton overpolicing had poisoned relations between the people and their government well before Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown. Less mediagenic than police militarization and far more insidious is law enforcement’s daily harassment of citizens for petty offenses. The local government in Ferguson has been treating its residents and neighbors less like free people with rights than like revenue milk-cows to be exploited to the max.” So, I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Good.
HyperAllergic: German Media Corroborates $36M Islamic State Antiquities Trafficking.
Loot and sell. So, not just oil. The antiquities trade is shady enough; shining some light in there will be tres difficult.
Vox: Ferguson, explained in 7 sentences.
Hmmm. We in NM have a different view.
Do you remember James Boyd? No? Shame on you. March of this year. He was shot because he was ... wait for it ... illegally camping. Officers flash-banged him as he turned his back to pack his things, shot him three times in the back at close range with rifles (not handguns) ... and while he was lying incapacitated, tasered him, pummelled him with beanbags shot from shotguns, let a police dog chew on him a bit, then handcuffed him while he gasped for breath from a bullet-induced pneumothorax [one lung was perforated]. He died the next day after having his arm amputated from the bullet damage. This man was cornered and killed like an animal in its lair.
Albuquerque had protests, too. With militarized equipment. No indictments. Why no great national outcry for him? No multi-city demonstrations?
He was just a homeless mentally-incapacitated white man. A troublesome nutjob noone really cared for anyway. Dime a dozen. Done away with like a stray cur.
Turns out now, a harbinger. The ‘canary in the coal mine’ that noone paid attention to. Which is why I largely agree with John McWhorter.
My intention is not to minimize the issue of race relations or cultural issues in Ferguson. Brown certainly didn’t deserve to die. My point is, neither did Boyd. You can hang ‘race’ on Brown, ‘lack of mental heath care services’ on Boyd, and let the righteous indignation flow long. I feel those well-worn and little-cured serious issues are obscuring the most dangerous aspect of these events:
The problem of disproportionate police response.
Ask yourself: How much greater would the outrage be, if Brown had been treated as Boyd was? How many would be screaming about race and how this kind of treatment ‘only happens to minorities’? If this had been publicized about Brown’s shooting and not Boyd’s?
Everyone would be livid, urban areas would be burning, and nothing positive would ever come of it. Righteous indignation would translate to violence, and more would die. Police procedure would be militarized further.
[Which, I honestly wonder if that isn’t the point of fanning the flames of ‘race’ alone. Further militarization. Escalating to where such materiel is necessary. There’s a very nefarious feel to how this is all playing out.]
The irony is, Boyd *was* a minority. A minority noone really gives a flying flip about. The mentally-ill don’t have the ability to organize. They have no great orators to capture the 24/7 news cycle. Which makes the fact that Boyd’s needless death is largely forgotten even more chilling. Most minorities have voice, and wide support. But some don’t. Who defends them?
So my contention is, filtering the shooting of Brown through race alone is obscuring most of the real problem here; missing the forest for the tree.
These two men, Brown and Boyd, are victims of police procedures that increasingly see the binary of life/death as the only solution to each and every problem. You don’t need race or mental status to clearly see what happened in both places. The range of possible responses has narrowed ridiculously, inhumanely. Wilson could have let Brown walk away, even after the alleged exchange, and waited for backup. Boyd could have been neutralized by simply waiting him out - crazy as he was, he’d have to sleep sometime.
But no, it seems once you’ve engaged, you must push an incident to an immediate solution - lethal or not. The officer has the legal right to play God - to choose life and death for others. It’s a mighty responsibility that is little appreciated. A responsibility that demands recognition of the fact there are not two responses, a lethal one for minorities, nonlethal for others. All lives should be equal, without regard for skin color, mental or economic status.
Change is necessary, before another such tragedy occurs. Police procedure needs to be looked at from the Federal level, and the use of lethal response needs to be spelled out in unequivocal language. Police need a range of responses with logical escalation steps that are clearly understood. We as citizens should be educated on what to expect in certain encounters, and how to respond. What our rights are, and how existing rights will not be impinged. We, the public, have to be able to stick our noses into police training procedures and judge for ourselves.
Will it happen? Doubtful. But it needs to. Doing so will help more than just one minority - many are at risk - and that’s the bigger picture here that everyone’s missing. Clear procedures would protect law enforcement too. Everyone would benefit.
Four brief tangents:
One. I myself got pulled over the other day. The officer unclipped their holster, and tapped on my driver window with hand on .40 automatic. I’m white ... the problem was an obscured license plate. This is considered a proper traffic stop now? Guilty until proven innocent? That’s military thinking. Wasn’t that way, last time I was pulled over. I can’t really ignore what that automatic was telling me, inches from my left ear. If I’d tried anything even close to what Michael Brown allegedly did? I’d be taking a dirt nap - no minority required. All I’d have had to do is make some sort of fast movement with an arm, and no grand jury in the US would ever say that the officer didn’t need to self-defend. “I felt threatened” is the armor of the officer, and has been for decades. [Side note: Anyone you read who was surprised by the Ferguson verdict - erase them from your feed. They’re either dangerously ignorant of jurisprudence in America, or trying to manipulate your opinion.]
Two. The Brown family has been remarkably level headed, graceful in the face of devastating loss ... and I completely agree with their plea for body-cameras on officers. Note, however, that body cameras did not save James Boyd. Nor did it trigger any indictments. But it’s a step. Even if symbolic, it’s a step that needs to be taken. It will have a calming effect on encounters.
Three. It is worth learning about the MRAP vehicles that are being practically given away to forces across the country. Originally designed for the bush war in Rhodesia, they found a purpose in Iraq. We built thousands of them, only to find the center of gravity was too high (among many other weaknesses). Now our police get to play ‘army man’ with flawed military cast-offs. The reason for giving them to police forces? Best I can find in Google, some feel that with veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, these vets understand how to build and use IED’s. In other words ... the reason these are being given to domestic police forces is because we’re afraid of our own ‘patriots’. I kid you not.
Four. During the first Gulf War, I think it was President Bush (I) who made the differentiation between military and police work very clear. He did not wish to take Baghdad because soldiers are trained to kill, and police are trained to arrest. It would have been a disaster to have soldiers operating in an urban environment. One guess why I brought up that differentation, underneath a tangent about military vehicles being sold to domestic police. [My memory’s hazy on this attribution, but the ethic remains no matter the sourcing.]
Later: Dear God. Not even a warning, it seems.
Even later: I give up.
Guardian.UK: Ursula K Le Guin’s speech at National Book Awards - ‘Books aren’t just commodities’.
Winter is coming? “... we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.”
PS Mag: They Steal Babies, Don’t They?
“Children were being shipped quickly into international adoption, being made available as young as a few days or months — which meant that there had been no effort whatsoever to help out the birth family, and no effort to place the child with extended family or community. Money, in other words, was distorting the system, vacuuming children out of Ethiopia for profit.” My italic emphasis. I call that kidnapping, at the very least.
NY Daily News: Bill Cosby paid off women says ex-NBC employee.
He’s finished. The handlers have started talking. I was going to post yesterday that this was too large of an operation to be a one-person deal. It needed coordination ... booking flights, renting cars, maintaining security. Many are complicit.
BBC: Pilgrims flock to Goa to see Saint Francis Xavier remains.
CJR: Texas reporters fight for access to fracking facts.
Let some sun shine in. To me, this policy bespeaks a great deal of fear.
the interpreter: ISIS beheadings are a grotesque media strategy
“None of these actions are designed to dissuade Western military intervention in Iraq or Syria, or even to goad the West into becoming decisively committed on the ground, because ISIS understands this is unlikely to occur. Rather, it has a much more short-term aim: to get ISIS’s military and political setbacks out of the media cycle and replace them with bloody imagery that demonstrates ISIS is still a force.” It is very unsettling to see social media and personal branding strategies used for these purposes.