Tagged: murder

U.N. torture watchdog urges crackdown on U.S. police brutality

Conservatives definition of freedom

The U.N. Committee against Torture urged the United States…to fully investigate and prosecute police brutality and shootings of unarmed black youth and ensure that taser weapons are used sparingly.

The panel’s first review of the U.S. record on preventing torture since 2006 followed racially-tinged unrest in cities across the country this week sparked by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury’s decision not to charge a white police officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

The committee decried “excruciating pain and prolonged suffering” for prisoners during “botched executions” as well as frequent rapes of inmates, shackling of pregnant women in some prisons and extensive use of solitary confinement.

Its findings cited deep concern about “numerous reports” of police brutality and excessive use of force against people from minority groups, immigrants, homosexuals and racial profiling.

The panel referred to the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”

“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism,” said panel member Alessio Bruni…

“We have certain concerns about whether investigations are thoroughly completed and whether punishment of law enforcement (officers) when they have crossed the line are effectively put in place,” committee member Jens Modvig told reporters.

Activists welcomed the findings and called for reforms.

“This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who attended the review.

Of course, we could elect a solid Republican federal administration in 2016 to match the Koch Bros/Heritage Foundation anschluss of state legislatures. Then, police brutality would take place with an absolute guarantee of impunity.

The Confederacy could be recognized as a federalist partner of our government and the US National Guard would give partner status to Oathers and other crypto-fascist militias. Woo-hoo!

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The New Yorker illustrates the racial divide in Ferguson, Missouri and the USA

Cover-Story-Ferguson-Arch
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The NewYorker has long had the courage to take sides against bigotry and racism. Especially important in a nation that rationalizes away lynching-by-cop with sophistry about “two sides to every question”.

Vox has a short note about the magazine and Bob Stake who did this cover for next week’s edition.

Natural born killers – starting with chimpanzees – leading to us

“Chimp leader assassinated by gang of underlings,” read the headline last year in New Scientist. It told the story of Pimu, who led his cohort of chimpanzees until a violent day in March last year when Pimu picked the wrong fight. Four chimpanzees appeared out of nowhere, according to New Scientist, and beat Pimu to death with their hands and feet. It was a grisly end for a species that, along with humans, are among the only animals to coordinate attacks on their own kind.

But such a murder was a natural action, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature. The paper, which analyzed data from 426 combined years of observation and 18 separate chimp sites, argues chimps are not driven to violence by their contacts with humans, which some scientists have previously contended. Chimps, rather, are natural born killers.

“Variation in killing rates was unrelated to measures of human impacts,” said the paper, which was researched by an international team of 30 scientists. “… The adaptive strategies hypothesis views killing as an evolved tactic by which killers tend to increase their fitness through increased access to territory, food, mates and other benefits…”

The rate of killing…seems more dependent on how many males were in each band of chimps as well as population density. It’s inter-community tension — not outer-community tension.

Just as chimps appear to reflect some humanity’s better traits, they also reflect the bad…anthropologist Joan Silk wrote in an accompanying article.

“The behavior of non-human primates, particularly chimpanzees, are often distorted by ideology and anthropomorphism, which produce a predisposition to believe that morally desirable features, such as empathy and altruism, have deep evolutionary roots, whereas undesirable features, such as group-level violence and sexual coercion, do not,” she wrote. “This reflects a naive form of biological determinism.”

Steps in the evolutionary ladder are not as far apart as some would presume. That is, those members of human society whose understanding of life on this planet extends beyond the 14th Century.

The rest, sad to say, still rely on wee winged creatures sitting on either shoulder whispering in their ears.

Thanks, Mike

Man walks free of death row after 26 years in Louisiana pen


Glenn Ford – a long time ago

A man who spent nearly 26 years on death row in Louisiana walked free Tuesday, hours after a judge approved the state’s motion to vacate the man’s murder conviction in the 1983 killing of a jeweler.

Glenn Ford, 64, had been on death row since August 1988 in connection with the death of 56-year-old Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker for whom Ford had done occasional yard work. Convicted of first-degree murder by an all-white jury, Ford, who is African-American, had always denied killing Rozeman.

Ford walked out the maximum security prison at Angola on Tuesday afternoon, said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

Asked about his release, Ford told WAFB-TV, “It feels good; my mind is going in all kind of directions. It feels good.”

Ford told the outlet he harbors some resentment at being wrongly jailed: “Yeah, cause I’ve been locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do…I can’t go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40, stuff like that,” he added…

Gary Clements, one of Ford’s lawyers, told Al Jazeera that the new information was a confession from another suspect in Rozeman’s murder.

“We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free,” read a statement from Clements and Aaron Novod, another attorney for Ford from the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.

They said Ford’s trial had been “profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence, including information from an informant.” They also cited what they said was a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime and evidence involving the murder weapon.

I hope Mr. Ford lives long enough to sue the crap out of the state of Louisiana. They’ve been caught in corrupt and crooked incarceration enough times that they actually passed a law limiting compensation to innocent prisoners after their release to $25K for each year wrongfully imprisoned.

Anyone think that the Sportsman’s Paradise will do anything about the sleazy coppers and prosecutors who railroaded Glenn Ford into prison?

I don’t think so, either.

Memorials to emptiness, loss, massacre on the island of Utøya


Click to enlargeKORO/Public Art Norway/Jonas Dahlberg Studio

A memorial for the victims of Norway’s July 22 terror attack will see a slice of land removed from the Sørbråten headland

The terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 that resulted in 77 people being killed left the country with a sense of abrupt loss. That feeling will be echoed in a memorial designed by artist Jonas Dahlberg, which will see a slice of land removed from the landscape at Sørbråten.

Dahlberg was selected by a panel as the winner of a contest to design memorials at the two sites of the terror attack, the Government Administration Complex in Oslo and Sørbråten, which is opposite Utøya on the mainland. His design will see a 3.5 meter wide excavation running from from one side of the headland at the Sørbråten site to the other, and extending below the waterline. It will appear as though the landscape simply stops and then restarts, and will make it impossible to reach the end of the headland…

…His suggestion for the Sørbråten site is to make a physical incision into the landscape, which can be seen as a symbolic wound. Part of the headland will be removed and visitors will not be able to touch the names of those killed, as these will be engraved into the wall on the other side of the slice out of nature. The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished.”

The earth removed from the excavation at Sørbråten will be transported to Oslo and used to build the foundation of the temporary and subsequent permanent memorials at the Government Administration Complex. The temporary memorial will feature the names of the victims inscribed along the side of a pathway linking the Grubbegata and the Deichmanske Library. The use of excavated land from Sørbråten will provide a poetic link between the two sites. An amphitheater will ultimately be built as the permanent memorial, with trees taken from Sørbråten and replanted as a means of maintaining the link between the memorial sites.

Mass killings and the fascist mindset aren’t sufficiently memorialized. In general, Western culture would rather remember heroes and wars than criminal behavior still rationalized away by the Right Wing of most nations. Even the 9-11 memorials are treated as part of a “War” on Terror.

I wonder if politicians and their sycophants will ever stop treating society as a child’s game?

Dispute over chess move ends with murder and cannibalism

Hemisphere-Chess
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An Italian man was arrested in Dublin on Sunday and charged with killing his Irish landlord and attempting to eat his heart after an argument about a game of chess.

Police said that 34-year-old Saverio Bellante admitted to killing Tom O’Gorman, 39.

O’Gormans body had been stabbed dozens of times and his chest cavity was opened up. Although the heart was still in his body, a lung was missing…

“The victim’s heart was intact but the post-mortem confirms that a lung was removed from the body and has not been located,” the source said. “The investigation is following a definite line of inquiry.”

At his arraignment on Monday, Bellante requested to represent himself and offered no plea. According to Det. Patrick Traynor, when Bellante was charged with murder, he replied: “I am guilty.”

The argument allegedly occurred over a move in a chess game that Bellante and O’Gorman had been playing for a year.

This blog and those involved with its production are all friendly to the discipline, skill and history of chess. At least one of us is damned good. It ain’t me.

We all understand that things like this can happen. They also happen between people watching telenovellas. We don’t approve of either circumstance allowed to descend into violence. :)

Gun dealer convicted in drug cartel smuggling case released from prison — Judge felt 5 year sentence was too harsh!

Garland dealt guns from home
The kind of small businessman the NRA loves

The Chaparral gun dealer who sold nearly 200 firearms to a Columbus gun-smuggling ring walked free Friday after a federal judge reduced his prison term.

During a re-hearing, Judge Robert Brack reduced Ian Garland’s 60-month sentence to 37 months, after the defense argued that a more lenient sentencing guideline should have been applied in the case…

Brack also said that the 60-month sentence “was more than I felt comfortable with” and agreed with the shift to a different sentencing guideline.

More than a dozen people were arrested in connection with the smuggling ring more than two years ago, including a former Columbus mayor, village trustee and police chief. The ring trafficked weapons to Mexico, where criminal organizations continue to fight over lucrative smuggling routes. Gun sales and ownership are largely prohibited in Mexico, yet criminal gangs are often heavily armed.

Garland pleaded guilty in July 2011 to conspiracy and six counts of assisting others in making false statements in the acquisition of firearms. He admitted to selling 193 firearms to straw buyers, or intermediaries who purchase weapons on behalf of others who legally cannot buy them or want to hide their identity.

Choking back tears, Garland told the judge Friday that he wants to “become a productive member of society”…

Combined with time earned for good conduct and more than 33 months already spent in prison since his arrest, the court determined his sentence had been served. Brack ordered three years’ probation, and Garland is expected to report to a Las Cruces halfway house.

Yup. American justice as applied to a gun dealer supplying weapons to Mexican drug cartels – which they use for killing cops and civilians in Mexico and the US as well as each other. Tears fell from his eyes and his crime is punished according to NRA sentencing guidelines.

BTW – the mayor of Columbus, NM, who also was part of the gun smuggling ring had his sentence reduced and was set free the day before. He served one year of his four year sentence.

The Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church – 50 years ago


Click on photo to reach a slide show of photos from the bombing

Sarah Jean Collins, 12, lies in a hospital bed after being blinded by dynamite set off in basement of the church. The explosion killed her sister and three other girls just as her Sunday school class was ending.

On September 15, 1963, two and a half weeks after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a dynamite bomb set by members of the Ku Klux Klan erupted, just as twenty six children walked into the basement assembly room of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, were killed, and 22 others were injured. Photographs of the bombing’s aftermath–including the iconic image of blinded Sarah Jean Collins in her hospital bed–shocked the nation and helped give an emotional push for the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

I was co-chairman of a local civil rights organization in my home town back in southern New England, then. We mobilized to demonstrate against the violence of the racists who committed crimes like this one. More to the point, we had already planned a jobs campaign we started the next week which opened up jobs for Blacks and Puerto Ricans in previously White-only companies. Some locally-owned. Some were part of national chains.

Every crisis is an opportunity.Don’t mourn – Organize!