Category: Justice

Ground Zero — Ferguson

Ferguson Ground Zero
Click photo for the original articleBuzzfeed/Joel Anderson

In the wake of the news that Ferguson, Missouri, police Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing Michael Brown, you’ve probably seen lots of reports of destruction and anger, and far fewer about the despair of black men as they contemplate the message the grand jury’s decision sends about the value of their lives.

Here’s a great corrective. BuzzFeed’s Joel Anderson captured this image, and Twitter user @HeyMyNameIsWill contrasted it with the images of the protests offered by cable TV.

Rest assured white Republican America. If you live in a state where it’s perfectly legal for coppers to shoot an unarmed suspect fleeing the scene of a crime [or suspected of fleeing a crime – or suspected of anything] – you already know you or your kids aren’t likely to be the victims of murder-by-cop. if you’re Black or Brown or some other non-white tint of human being, that’s different. But, you also know that doesn’t matter.

The city of Albuquerque, down the road from here, has a police force that is just coming out from under a Department of Justice investigation, new rules, new oversight – because of the number of civilians killed by coppers. Watching the local news on any day, we call it “watching the local murders”. And like most Americans, we don’t mind a whole lot if it’s one drug gang killing members of another drug gang – or cops killing crooks with a lifetime record of violence and theft.

Albuquerque got in trouble because their cops killed too many white guys, too many veterans.

Ferguson, St. Louis, Middle America ain’t going to change anything if cops stick to killing Black men or Hispanics. The despair in this photo is only a reflection of that fact. And the politicians charged with aiding oversight, peace and prosperity couldn’t care less. Which is a much better reason to throw them out of office than Keynesian fiscal policy or not strictly adhering to orders received directly from your God and your bible.

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Jay Leno cancels appearance at gun show

gunviolence
Thanks, Ursarodinia

Comedian Jay Leno cancelled his participation in hosting a gun event next year, less than 24 hours after three reform groups created a petition asking the former “Tonight Show” host to think twice about associating himself with the organization.

Leno was scheduled to moderate the 2015 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, an annual event backed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The trade association is a pro-gun lobbying group based in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

“When it came to his attention that this was actually a pro-gun lobby show, he immediately cancelled his appearance,” Bruce Bobbins, spokesman for Leno, told msnbc. The gig was presented to the comedian as a sportsman show, which he assumed focused on hunting, Bobbins added…

Members of the Newtown Action Alliance said Leno called the chairman of their group Wednesday night to inform her of his decision and to reveal that he wasn’t aware NSSF is based about three miles from the site of the shooting rampage.

NSSF publicly opposes gun-reform legislation, including bills that would close the loophole in the federal background checks system. Under the law, buyers can purchase firearms at gun shows and on the Internet without passing background checks.

Leno doesn’t consider himself a conservative. I do. I consider him an old-fashioned American conservative which means he still cares for people and human rights – and doesn’t let his political life be governed by the elitist ideology of today’s Republican Party. He certainly doesn’t care to be seen as a flunky for one of the most reactionary segments of our nation’s corporate hierarchy.

Bravo!

Examining public perceptions of privacy and security in the post-Snowden era

Summary of Findings

Privacy evokes a constellation of concepts for Americans—some of them tied to traditional notions of civil liberties and some of them driven by concerns about the surveillance of digital communications and the coming era of “big data.” While Americans’ associations with the topic of privacy are varied, the majority of adults in a new survey by the Pew Research Center feel that their privacy is being challenged along such core dimensions as the security of their personal information and their ability to retain confidentiality.

When Americans are asked what comes to mind when they hear the word “privacy,” there are patterns to their answers. As the above word cloud illustrates, they give important weight to the idea that privacy applies to personal material—their space, their “stuff,” their solitude, and, importantly, their “rights.” Beyond the frequency of individual words, when responses are grouped into themes, the largest block of answers ties to concepts of security, safety, and protection. For many others, notions of secrecy and keeping things “hidden” are top of mind when thinking about privacy.

More than a year after contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents about widespread government surveillance by the NSA, the cascade of news stories about the revelations continue to register widely among the public. Some 43% of adults have heard “a lot” about “the government collecting information about telephone calls, emails, and other online communications as part of efforts to monitor terrorist activity,” and another 44% have heard “a little.” Just 5% of adults in our panel said they have heard “nothing at all” about these programs.

Perhaps most striking is Americans’ lack of confidence that they have control over their personal information. That pervasive concern applies to everyday communications channels and to the collectors of their information—both in the government and in corporations.

RTFA for details and conclusions.

The folks at Pew recently asked me why I use their studies, surveys and analysis. Prime – from my perspective – is integrity. They consider the standards inherent in our Constitution inviolable. A group of ideals advanced not only for their time; but, for today. And they would wish, I believe, to carry the standards forward into the future we must all fight for.

I admit to being blasé about the questions we confront in this study. I haven’t had the privacy Pew strives to address as a standard since the very first days I stood up against oppression and racism in this the land of my birth.

On the way to my first sit-in in the civil rights movement, crammed into a VW Kombi owned by the college student driving our very mixed bag of black and white, town and gown, to Virginia – hoping to survive sharing a Coke at some drugstore soda fountain – we were spotted and tailed by the Virginia State Police the instant we crossed their border. Which meant local coppers, FBI, had recorded our departure from New Haven and passed the word along.

Before the 1950’s were out I had my first confrontation with FBI agents who waited outside the factory where I worked. I was the chairman of the union’s COPE committee. The Committee On Political Education – which mostly concentrated on issues and platform questions in local and national elections.

Nothing much to say about it. A standard intimidation tactic back then. It never matters what they say they want to talk to you about. They usually try to sound like they’re really concerned about helping you. Which is a crock. The point they’re making is that they know who you are and what you say.

I told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine and walked away. That all happened before I made it to 1963. Ain’t much changed since as far as privacy in my life is concerned. Laws change. Politicians change a very little. Establishment, government lies about protecting the people haven’t changed a jot.

Oliver Stone film about Edward Snowden vs NSA starts production January

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play Edward Snowden in a movie directed by Oliver Stone about the former National Security Agency contractor who blew the whistle on the US government’s mass surveillance programs, the film’s backers said on Monday.

Stone, who won best director Oscars for Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, has written the screenplay based on two books – The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

The still untitled film goes into production in Munich in January, said independent studio Open Road Films and production and financing company Endgame Entertainment.

Producer Moritz Borman said in a statement that he and Stone chose Open Road and Endgame because “this film needs an independent in the true sense, where political pressures will not come into play…”

Snowden leaked tens of thousands of classified intelligence documents to the media in 2013 and sparked a firestorm over the NSA’s gathering of data from the Internet activities and phones of millions of ordinary Americans and dozens of world leaders.

He is wanted by the United States on charges including theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and wilful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person…and believing in the US Constitution.

Thanks, Mike

Feds using fake cellphone towers on planes — gathering everyone’s data

An agency of the U.S. Justice Department is gathering data from thousands of cell phones, including both criminal suspects and innocent Americans, by using fake communications towers on airplanes, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The program run by the U.S. Marshals Service began operations in 2007 and uses Cessna planes flying from at least five major airports and covering most of the U.S. population, the newspaper said…

The planes use devices made by Boeing Co that mimic the cell phone towers used by major telecommunications companies and trick mobile phones into revealing their unique registration data, the report said.

The devices, nicknamed “dirtboxes,” can collect information from tens of thousands of cell phones in a single flight, which occur on a regular basis…

The program is similar to one used by the National Security Agency which collects the phone records of millions of Americans in order to find a single person or a handful of people.

It smells just as bad.

The Journal cited the people familiar with the program as saying that the device used in the program decides which phones belong to suspects and “lets go” of non-suspect phones…

It also bypasses telephone companies, allowing authorities to locate suspects directly, people with knowledge of the program said.

The Journal quoted Christopher Soghoian, chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, as calling it “a dragnet surveillance program. It’s inexcusable and it’s likely, to the extent judges are authorizing it, they have no idea of the scale of it.”

The program stinks on ice.

Even if tame judges authorize fishing expeditions involving everyone’s phones – that doesn’t make the procedure any less of an invasion of privacy. Whether authorizing the NSA or US Marshals Service it is simply one more instance of our government corrupting the constitutional standing of our individual rights.

The excuses are the same as ever. Still invalid. Still contemptible.

Thanks, Mike

Heart donated from 5-year-old — shot while sitting in grandpa’s lap

The heart that belonged to Laylah Petersen, the 5-year-old Wisconsin girl shot in the head in her living room last week, will go on beating for another child.

Laylah was killed Thursday as she sat in her grandfather’s lap when an unknown gunman sprayed their Milwaukee home with about a dozen bullets…

“Quite frankly, at this point we’re befuddled as to motive for this crime,” said Capt. Aaron Raap, commander of the Metropolitan Investigations Division. “Normally when we respond to shootings of individuals in most circumstances that victim is the intended target of that shooting.”

“In this case, at this point, we believe that this bullet read ‘to whom it may concern.’ And that concerns all of us and it should concern everybody in our community.”

Still, investigators believe the shooting was targeted because all 12 bullets they believe were fired hit just one house. Police say it’s possible the shooters had the wrong house.

The Milwaukee branch of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said there was a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

No word, yet, on a statement from the NRA. We expect something like their usual…”if she was only carrying a Smith & Wesson handgun this never would have happened.”

It’s especially important to mention one of the brands they pimp for.

Poorest president in the world gets $1 million offer for his 1987 VW Beetle

vw_beetle_jose_mujica-

The Uruguayan president Jose Mujica says he has received a million-dollar offer to buy his blue 1987 Volkswagen Beetle, which has become a symbol of his austere lifestyle.

The man once nicknamed “the poorest president in the world” told the Uruguayan weekly Busqueda that an Arab sheik offered $1m for the humble car.

When asked about the reported offer at a news conference, Mujica, who is standing down as president, said: “That’s what they said to me, but I didn’t give it any importance.”

In an informal chat, Mexico’s ambassador to Uruguay recently suggested to Mujica that he auction the Beetle in Mexico and predicted he could get 10 four-wheel-drive trucks for it…

Mujica, a former leftist Tupamaro guerrilla leader, said that if he got $1m for the car, he would donate the money to a scheme for the homeless. If he got trucks for it, he said, they could go to Uruguay’s public health office or his campaign workers.

The president said he would gladly auction the Beetle because he has “no commitment to cars” and he joked that he did not sell it because of his dog Manuela, famous for only having three legs.

Manuela

My kind of president. Not that I ever expect to get to vote for one.

And if someone like Mujica wanted to contest for president of the United States it would have to be as an independent. Neither Establishment party would let him into a primary – and I’m not certain many Americans would vote for someone who wasn’t safely respectable.

There are times when I think we’re working hard at becoming a stuffy, small-minded nation.

Feel better about your healthcare provider – the number of serial killers is down!


I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why – I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

The number of serial killings committed by healthcare providers has leveled off in the U.S. in recent decades, although it is rising internationally, Eindra Khin Khin, MD, said here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

According to the literature, the number of cases of healthcare serial killings overall rose from 10 in the 1970s to 21 in the 1980s, 23 in the 1990s, and then to 40 in the years 2000 to 2006, said Khin Khin, who along with her colleagues presented a poster on the topic.

One reason the rates of healthcare serial murders are rising internationally, but not in the U.S., is electronic medical records (EMR), Khin Khin, of George Washington University in Washington, told MedPage Today in a phone interview. She noted that several serial killers, including physician Michael Swango, first got into trouble in the U.S. and then went overseas…

“At least in the [United] States, because of incidents in 1990s and 2000s, we’ve really beefed up on the credentialing system, and institutions have started to communicate with each other better,” she continued. “People are not shedding enough light on the international phenomenon, and the global community has a little bit to catch up on in implementing guidelines and regulatory measures.”

In terms of the site, the vast majority of killings (72%) occurred in a hospital, with the remainder occurring in nursing homes (20%), patients’ homes (6%) and outpatient settings (2%)…

As to the method used, the majority of killings — 52% — were done via lethal injection, followed by unknown methods (25%), suffocation (11%), and water in the lungs (4%). Air embolus and oral medications were each used in another 3%, while equipment tampering and poisoning accounted for 1% each.

Followed by an entertaining segment describing motivation and telltale signs you may have a serial killer onboard.

The researchers recommended several steps for preventing healthcare serial killings, such as educating staff members on the issue, designating a national or international regulation and monitoring body, routine institutional monitoring of high-alert medication use and monthly mortality/cardiac arrest rates, and consensus guidelines for managing suspicious situations.

I imagine that the Feds can data mine the ACA digital record-keeping protocols for serial killers just as they now do for rip-off artists hustling Medicare. Every little bit helps, eh?

Baltimore Police CCTV catches cop beating a civilian

A Baltimore police officer faces misdemeanor assault and perjury charges after an incident with a suspect was caught on video.

Officer Vincent Cosum Jr. was captured on a city surveillance camera on June 15, repeatedly punching Kollin Truss in the face with other officers present. He faces perjury because in his police report he said Truss assaulted him first, a claim not supported by the video evidence.

Truss is now represented by attorneys, who say charging Cosum alone is not adequate.

“The other officers participated,” Truss attorney Tony Garcia told CBS Baltimore. “They held his arms back. Our client was knocked unconscious on his feet.”

Truss’s attorneys have filed a $70 million lawsuit against the city.

The beating prompted a call from city officials and the public to look into complaints against the city’s police department. The mayor has asked the Department of Justice to investigate.

I hope he gets every penny. Corrupt cops only exist with the collaboration of corrupt government. And vice versa. The DOJ is reaching the point where they may as well ask for a separate seat in the Presidential cabinet to deal with the range of corruption from tickets issued as police fundraisers, police brutalization of minorities and young people in general, theft and collaboration with gangs and gangsters.

I’m more and more impressed with CCTV when it’s used to catch cops as well as civilian miscreants.