Category: Culture

What if Ferguson was in a province named Missouri in a foreign country?

Chinese and Russian officials are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis in the restive American province of Missouri, where ancient communal tensions have boiled over into full-blown violence.

“We must use all means at our disposal to end the violence and restore calm to the region,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments to an emergency United Nations Security Council session on the America crisis.

The crisis began a week ago in Ferguson, a remote Missouri village that has been a hotbed of sectarian tension. State security forces shot and killed an unarmed man, which regional analysts say has angered the local population by surfacing deep-seated sectarian grievances. Regime security forces cracked down brutally on largely peaceful protests, worsening the crisis…

America has been roiled by political instability and protests in recent years, which analysts warn can create fertile ground for extremists.

Missouri, far-removed from the glistening capital city of Washington, is ostensibly ruled by a charismatic but troubled official named Jay Nixon, who has appeared unable to successfully intervene and has resisted efforts at mediation from central government officials. Complicating matters, President Obama is himself a member of the minority sect protesting in Ferguson, which is ruled overwhelmingly by members of America’s majority “white people” sect.

Analysts who study the opaque American political system, in which all provinces are granted semi-autonomous self-rule, warned that Nixon may seize the opportunity to move against weakened municipal rulers in Ferguson. Missouri’s provincial legislature, a traditional “shura council,” is dominated by the opposition faction. Though fears of a military coup remain low, it is still unknown how Nixon’s allies within the capital will respond should the crisis continue.

“The only lasting solution is reconciliation among American communities and stronger Missouri security forces,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech from his vacation home in Hainan. “However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to America. So we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Americans to confront this crisis.”

That’s the first half of Max Fisher’s satirical posting at VOX, this morning. Click the link to read the rest and enjoy the chuckle.

Reflect upon the mediocrity our tame Fourth Estate has become.

Mirroring press releases from the White House or the Koch Brothers phony public interest groups is not how you revive the independence of the American press.

About these ads

Dumb crook of the day


Stylin’ ride for young crooks

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, man is facing charges after police say he drove a stolen electric shopping cart to meet with his probation officer.

KOAT-TV reports that court papers say 18-year-old Michael Johnson rode the electric shopping cart this week to make his scheduled visit. When the probation officer asked Johnson where he got the cart, court documents say Johnson admitted taking it from an Albuquerque Wal-Mart.

Johnson was arrested and charged with larceny and receiving stolen property. He also violated his probation when he was arrested and was ordered held on a $500 bond.

Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier says the cart is worth more than $1,800.

It was not known if Johnson had an attorney…

…or a brain!

Thanks, Mike

378 in a row – Starbucks drive-through customers pay for next person’s drink

A random act of kindness at a Tampa-area Starbucks set into motion a chain of giving that lasted for nearly 400 customers…Around 7 a.m. a woman ordering from the coffee house’s drive-through paid for her own drink and said she’d like to pay for the customer behind her. Moved by the stranger’s generosity, that customer returned the favor for the next, who did the same.

The chain grew so big that employees began keeping a tally of consecutive customers who chose to “pay it forward.” The tally was over 250 by 1:30…

As the afternoon rush hour came and more and more customers kept the streak going, the baristas entertained hopes of it continuing until closing and perhaps using a gift card to extend it to the following day.

But around 6:00 p.m., customer number 379 crushed their hopes of a fairy-tale ending. An unknown woman driving a white Jeep Commander refused to pay for anything but her own drink — even though it had already been paid for. Starbucks employee Vu Nguyen explained the special circumstances but the woman was unmoved and, in Nguyen’s opinion, visibly unable to understand the concept of paying it forward.

Oh, it would be so easy to identify the politics, personal philosophy of someone who doesn’t comprehend good works. Tempting. But, not enough data.

Now, imagine trying to get the same thing started at a corner liquor store or cigarette shop! Phew.

Not-so-incidentally, this really is a Starbucks tradition. The record was set last December’s holiday season with 1468 customers in Newington, Connecticut…and ran from Tuesday morning the 24th through Saturday evening the 28th.

CNN ignoranuses think Captain Ron Johnson is flashing gang signs

I just can’t even deal with this crap anymore, and I encourage everyone else to not be able to deal with this crap anymore either.

Today in Ferguson, Mo., news, The Washington POST takes on the assertion that Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson has been photographed flashing gang signs with members of the community. [...]

Capt. Johnson is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, a black fraternity that was formed in 1911 at Indiana University in Bloomington, and the hand sign you see in the pictures…is a Kappa greeting.

Black police captain “flashes hand sign,” and it’s immediately presumed that he is a Secret Gang Thug indicating his sympathies in a very public way that only the cleverest of white racist bastards will catch on to. Just as when a black president and his wife bump fists, the standard greeting of the American “bro” movement becomes a terrorist fist bump, and when a black child walks home with Skittles and iced tea the press summons people to describe what sort of drug paraphernalia might be constructed with Skittles and an iced tea.

A frat sign. Well, that is a gang sign of sorts, I suppose. And if you are the sort of person who immediately suspected that Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson is a secret gang member seeking to reassure his secret gang members that their secret plan to do … something … is alive and well, we do not need to be hearing from you right now. You need to go sit in a corner, any corner will do, and let the grown-ups talk without being interrupted by your constant little hissy fits.

You can’t make this crap up. In a nation with a modicum of education you would hope to find a journalist, an editor, who will know enough about the realities of policing, of Black society, to look further than a tweet from some stupid iReporter before publishing this crap.

It wasn’t until the POST pushed the Stupid Button on CNN’s digital office door that the post was removed. Of course, FAUX NEWS will probably run with it for a week.

Ferguson: Black Town, White Power


Click to enlargeScott Olson/Getty

Back in 1876, the city of St. Louis made a fateful decision. Tired of providing services to the outlying areas, the city cordoned itself off, separating from St. Louis County. It’s a decision the city came to regret. Most Rust Belt cities have bled population since the 1960s, but few have been as badly damaged as St. Louis City, which since 1970 has lost almost as much of its population as Detroit.

This exodus has left a ring of mostly middle-class suburbs around an urban core plagued by entrenched poverty. White flight from the city mostly ended in the 1980s; since then, blacks have left the inner city for suburbs such as Ferguson in the area of St. Louis County known as North County.

Ferguson’s demographics have shifted rapidly: in 1990, it was 74 percent white and 25 percent black; in 2000, 52 percent black and 45 percent white; by 2010, 67 percent black and 29 percent white.

By contrast, consider the city: After decades of methodically building political power, blacks in St. Louis City elected a black mayor in 1993 and black aldermen or alderwomen in nearly half the city’s wards, and hold two of three seats on the powerful Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which must approve all city contracts. Well-established churches, Democratic ward organizations and other civic institutions mobilize voters in black wards. But because blacks have reached the suburbs in significant numbers only over the past 15 years or so, fewer suburban black communities have deeply ingrained civic organizations.

That helps explain why majority-black Ferguson has a virtually all-white power structure: a white mayor; a school board with six white members and one Hispanic, which recently suspended a highly regarded young black superintendent who then resigned; a City Council with just one black member; and a 6 percent black police force.

Jeff Smith begins and ends the article as published pushing for consolidation of these artificial suburbs. He believes this will benefits residents economically as well as politically. White power over Black workingclass transforms into Green Power for everyone.

I lived through that whole discussion middling days in the civil rights movement and all it produced was a few Black bureaucrats, damned little Green for everyone else.

Meanwhile, Mike suggested the Washington POST analysis of the same topic – where a troika of authors found the realpolitik included unintended consequences in a tag team with racism. A solid piece of research, sound data.

Neither article explained the perceived role of the Democratic Party, differences between St, Louis City and North County suburbs like Ferguson – but, since Smith’s article points out the racist history of municipal and local craft unions, continued exclusion of Black workers, white-dominated political campaigns they sponsor, it seems as likely to me that outside of the city of St. Louis the Democrat Party functions like Reagan populists. Perfectly willing to accept the racist status quo.

Voters in Ferguson have two alternatives. They can go the route apparently embraced by Black voters in St. Louis and fight for a decade or so for a grassroots effort which ends up with a Democratic Party organization mirroring the population – or they can organize an independent party that reaches out to Progressives to unite in bringing grassroots representation to Ferguson.

Both highways have the same tough obstacles to overcome – starting with the inevitable unsophisticated American voters. Both strategies risk demagogues who never can pass up a populist chance to be The Leader. But, over these past fifteen years, ain’t anyone else getting off their rusty dusty to change the white power structure in Ferguson. At least, not so’s you’d notice.

Thanks, Mike

Anti-vaccination nutballs now refusing Vitamin K for their children, as well

Over a single 8-month period, seven infants were admitted to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for treatment of either cranial or intestinal hemorrhaging due to vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB)…

That report prompted researchers in Canada to investigate local vitamin K refusal rates and predictors.

Of the 214,061 children born in Alberta, Canada, from 2006 to 2011, 0.3% had parents who declined the vitamin K injection after birth, Shannon E. MacDonald, PhD…and colleagues wrote in Pediatrics.

In 2006, the vitamin K refusal rate was 0.21%, but by 2012, that rate increased to 0.39% (P<0.001) of live births.

The highest rates of vitamin K refusal occurred in parents who also refused recommended vaccines throughout the first 15 months of life…

The vitamin K refusal rate for parents who delivered in a hospital was very low, 0.2%, compared with parents who had planned home deliveries, 14.5%…and parents who delivered at a birthing center, 10.7%…

The study authors suggested parental decisions to refuse vitamin K were linked to lack of education and misinformation based on two studies from the 1990s (Golding et al.), which suggested vitamin K injections could increase the chances of developing childhood cancer. Those study results, the Canadians said, were since found to be inaccurate…

Refusal rates have increased in Texas, too. At Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, Tiffany McKee-Garrett said that when parents refuse, they team up with the parents’ primary care provider to counsel the family extensively and provide the parents with written materials to educate them about vitamin K.

RTFA for details of other regional studies.

I know I get too cranky for some folks; but, what kind of parent is so dedicated to 14th Century dogma that they’re ready and willing to accept the prattle from long-discredited studies – generally from some 3rd or 4th-hand source – instead of taking the time to read a little science about disease prevention, proven health maintenance.

Rather, they risk the lives of their newborn in pursuit of purity of their soul. No sense or balance IMHO.

Is your local government ready for a dragon attack?

How a council might protect a town from a dragon attack is among the most unusual requests for information received by England and Wales councils.

One council was asked how many children were micro-chipped, while another was quizzed on whether it had paid for exorcisms on possessed pets.

They are among the Local Government Association’s top 10 most unusual Freedom of Information requests…

The top 10 include:

What plans are in place to protect the town from a dragon attack? (Wigan Council)…

How many times has the council paid for the services of an exorcist, psychic or religious healer? Were the services performed on an adult, child, pet or building? (Rossendale Council)…

What precautions, preparations, planning and costings have been undertaken in the case an asteroid crashes into Worthing, a meteorite landing in Worthing or solar activity disrupting electromagnetic fields? (Worthing Borough Council)…

How many requests were made to council-run historic public-access buildings (e.g. museums) requesting to bring a team of “ghost investigators” into the building? (Birmingham Council)

How many children in the care of the council have been micro-chipped? (Southend Council)

No doubt the majority of requests are more mainstream than defending against dragons. At least I hope so.

There is a longstanding tradition in the UK investing casual time in tongue-in-cheek inquiries…and answers. I recall a leading census answer from some first responders one year being that their church membership was Jedi.

Art rises from blitzkrieg


Click to enlarge

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The images of so many houses destroyed, so many bomb blasts, even so many bodies wrapped in burial shrouds can begin to blur together, indistinguishable. But Belal Khaled, a young photojournalist and painter in this southern Gaza town, saw symbols and stories in the smoke all around him.

First, in a black cloud staining the bright blue sky above a beach, he saw hints of a prominent nose, thick mustache and wild hair, “like an old man contemplating the situation of Gaza,” Mr. Khaled said. Then, in a friend’s photograph of a taller, thinner plume, he saw a fist with the index finger extended, a gesture Muslims make when saying, “No God but Allah.” Using Photoshop, Mr. Khaled added a few simple lines to emphasize these hidden icons, and uploaded the artwork to Facebook, where it was shared and “liked” thousands of times.

Artists may see things others can’t see,” said Mr. Khaled, 23, who works for a Turkish news agency. “Even at the very tense times and very hard moments, we still draw…”

Mr. Khaled said he learned Arabic calligraphy in the seventh grade and painted Quranic verses on the walls of his family home. He started taking photographs at 18 and dropped out of college, where he was studying interior design, to take a job at Anadolu, a Turkish news agency. Three years ago, he began painting — haunting portraits, mostly, of the forlorn old men and impoverished youths in his neighborhood. At the office one night, he used the coffee left in his cup to paint a child screaming.

RTFA. Details and description of work by other artists in Gaza. Yes, even simple things like paints and other graphic materials are limited and regulated by the Israeli government. As you would expect.

Hemp homecoming in Kentucky

Kentucky Hemp Field

Call it a homecoming for hemp: Marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin is undergoing a rebirth in a state at the forefront of efforts to reclaim it as a mainstream crop.

Researchers and farmers are producing the first legal hemp crop in generations in Kentucky, where hemp has turned into a political cause decades after it was banned by the federal government. Republican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul advocate for it, as does state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a Republican who is running for governor next year.

The comeback is strictly small scale. Experimental hemp plots more closely resemble the size of large family gardens.

Statewide plantings totaled about 15 acres from the Appalachian foothills in eastern Kentucky to the broad stretches of farmland in the far west, said Adam Watson, the Kentucky Agriculture Department’s hemp program coordinator.

The crop’s reintroduction was delayed in the spring when imported hemp seeds were detained by U.S. customs officials. The state’s Agriculture Department sued the federal government, but dropped the case Friday after reaching an agreement on importing the seeds into Kentucky. The seeds were released after federal drug officials approved a permit.

Since then, test plots have shown the crop to be hardy and fast growing – and a potential moneymaker with a remarkable range of traditional uses including clothing, mulch, hemp milk, cooking oil, soap and lotions.

“What we’ve learned is it will grow well in Kentucky,” Comer said. “It yields a lot per acre. All the things that we predicted.”

Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned in 1970 due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

For now, growing hemp is strictly limited. The federal farm bill enacted this year restricts hemp production to research projects designated by agriculture departments in states that allow the crop to be grown. But commercial uses are also emerging.

Which goes to prove for the umpteenth time, our government is managed by cowards, fools and idjits.

RTFA for the measured sign of progress back from a half-century of stupid regulation. All based on fear and an absolute rejection of scientific knowledge.

Cripes, people wonder why I’m so “intolerant”. Why should anyone with a modicum of sense and education have to put up with the range of incompetence – from bigotry and racism to abusive laws regulating vegetables – embraced so thoroughly by the lawgivers of this supposed Land of Liberty.