Tag Archives: how we live now

Police Killing Citizens

Police in the United States are breaking records in 2017 by killing a record number of the same people they claim to serve and protect, and there is no change in sight under the current administration.

In 2017 alone, police have killed 746 people in the U.S., according to the Killed By Police database, which puts this year on pace to become the deadliest year on record. In contrast, in the first seven months of 2016, police killed 714 people; the number was slightly higher in 2015 with 725 killed; and it was noticeably lower in 2014 with 663 killed and in 2013 with 353 killed.

One case from this year that received a host of media attention occurred on July 15 when Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian woman was shot and killed by police in Minneapolis, after she called 911 to report a disturbance in her neighborhood. As The Free Thought Project reported, while audio was released from the shooting, neither one of the two officers on the scene chose to turn on their body cameras, and the Somali officer who shot and killed Damond had several complaints on his record…

…President Trump shared his thoughts on the topic of police brutality during a speech at the Suffolk County Police Department in New York on July 28. He encouraged officers to be “rough” on suspects, and those surrounding him responded by clapping and cheering.

Police Killing Citizens

The Ministry of Truth

Shades of Operation Legacy 1

Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently asked the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain records, to approve its timetable for retaining or destroying records related to its detention operations. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill government request for record-keeping efficiency. It isn’t. An entire paper trail for a system rife with human rights and constitutional abuses is at stake.

ICE has asked for permission to begin routinely destroying 11 kinds of records, including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody. Other records subject to destruction include alternatives to detention programs; regular detention monitoring reports, logs about the people detained in ICE facilities and communications from the public reporting detention abuses. ICE proposed various timelines for the destruction of these records ranging from 20 years for sexual assault and death records to three years for reports about solitary confinement.

The Ministry of Truth

Show 1 footnote

  1. The cousins invented almost everything.

Confederate

So, once again: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.1

HBO’s motives aside, the plea to wait supposes that a problem of conception can be fixed in execution. We do not need to wait to observe that this supposition is, at best, dicey. For over a century, Hollywood has churned out well-executed, slickly produced epics which advanced the Lost Cause myth of the Civil War. These are true “alternative histories,” built on “alternative facts,” assembled to depict the Confederacy as a wonderland of virtuous damsels and gallant knights, instead of the sprawling kleptocratic police state it actually was. From last century’s The Birth of a Nation to this century’s Gods and Generals, Hollywood has likely done more than any other American institution to obstruct a truthful apprehension of the Civil War, and thus modern America’s very origins. So one need not wait to observe that any foray by HBO into the Civil War must be met with a spirit of pointed inquiry and a withholding of all benefit of the doubt.”

Confederate

“After all, this show’s premise proposes to create a “fictionalized” plot about the continuation of slavery, as if thousands of American farmers and corporations didn’t continue to practice slavery well into the 1940s. The show acts as if the latter half of the twentieth century didn’t see America’s prison population swell with millions of Black bodies. It pretends that today’s prisons and venerable corporations don’t exploit the 13th amendment to profit from forced prison labor. HBO’s Confederate imagines that there aren’t more people under state control today than there were in chains at the peak of American slavery.”

Confederate

Confederate, the sci-fi, alt-history drama of what the United States would look like if the North had lost the Civil War, had been announced by HBO in late July. The brainchild of Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the series is a four-part collaboration between Weiss and Benioff, who are white, and Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman, a married writer and producer couple, who are black. The Spellmans are behind hit television shows The Good Wife and Empire.

The show, in early stages of development, has received major backlash. April Reign, creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, mobilized the Twittersphere on Sunday night with #NoConfederate, a joint effort between Reign and activists Rebecca Theodore, Jamie Broadnax, Shanelle Little, and Lauren Warren. And they were not alone in their concerns — earlier, critic Roxane Gay had condemned the series in the New York Times, calling it “slavery fan fiction.”

The message? Do not run this show.

Reign posits that the subject alone is reason enough to cancel the show, pointing out that the effects of slavery are still felt today. Responding to someone suggesting that the show might illustrate what living with racism is like, Reign tweeted: “You mean white people. People of color are well aware of this. We don’t need a TV show. We have, you know, our daily existence and stuff.”

Confederate

Show 1 footnote

  1. Or, if one is cynical enough, perhaps HBO knows exactly what its doing: broadening the blood thirsty audience brought in by GoT to include the drooling knuckle-dragging, paste-eating tRump supporters who would normally eschew HBO as being too “cosmopolitan.”

Fuck Steve Scalise

Rep. Steve Scalise was shot just a while ago; at this writing it is unclear how serious his injuries may be.

We extend our sincere sympathies toward his family.

Having said that, fuck Rep. Steve Scalise.

The Congressman, who is so dim as to have once “accidentally” attended a Klan rally, receives an A+ rating from the NRA. He most certainly will be [could have been] counted on to help pass the latest Congressional piece of shit, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, which –despite your first and obvious thought– is NOT about hearing aids, but rather will relax restrictions on firearm silencers.

That’s right, Scalise has consistently enabled legislation making it easier for whatever asshole shot (and possibly killed 1) him today to go out and purchase whatever weapon tickled his fancy. We would say that Eiron is chortling even now, but the sad truth is that America has long ago moved past irony regarding its lunatic love affair with guns.

Again, we feel for Scalise’s family but can not help but wonder if his wife is having a Clytemnestra moment.

“By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die.”

Yep – fuck Steve Scalise.

Fuck Steve Scalise

Show 1 footnote

  1. Even should the representative survive, his life –not to mention his family’s– will be forever altered in ways he can not yet imagine.

Way Worse Videos

This put me in mind of certain political considerations and how a largish cohort of individuals can not name check Archibald Cox, much less the still unraveling implications of Watergate. If we allow the continued dumbing down of America’s education system, it won’t be but another generation before the idea of democracy is but a wistful dream…

I mentioned Rodney King in an Intro to American Government class. I got the blank “Is that a thing we are supposed to know?” look that I have come to recognize when students hear about something that happened more than six months ago. “Rodney King?” More blinking. “Can someone tell why the name Rodney King is important?”

One student, god bless her, raised her hand. I paraphrase: “He was killed by the police and it caused the LA Riots.” I noted that, no, he did not die, but the second part of the statement was indirectly true. God bless technology in the classroom — I pulled up the grainy VHS-camcorder version of the video, as well as a transcript of the audio analysis presented at trial. We watched, and then talked a bit about the rioting following the acquittal of the LAPD officers at trial. They kept doing the blinking thing. I struggled to figure out what part of this relatively straightforward explanation had managed to confuse them.

“Are there questions? You guys look confused.”

Hand. “So he was OK?”

“He was beaten up pretty badly, but, ultimately he was. He died a few years ago from unrelated causes (note: in 2012).”

Hand. “It’s kind of weird that everybody rioted over that. I mean, there’s way worse videos.” General murmurs of agreement…

…This is a generation of kids so numb to seeing videos of police beating, tasering, shooting, and otherwise applying the power of the state to unarmed and almost inevitably black or Hispanic men that they legitimately could not understand why a video of cops beating up a black guy (who didn’t even die for pete’s sake!) was shocking enough to cause a widespread breakdown of public order…

…These kids have grown up in a world where this is background noise. It is part of the static of life in the United States. Whether these incidents outrage them or are met with the usual excuses (Comply faster, dress differently, be less Scary) the fact is that they happen so regularly that retaining even one of them in long term memory is unlikely. To think about Rodney King is to imagine a reality in which it was actually kind of shocking to see a video of four cops kicking and night-sticking an unarmed black man over the head repeatedly. Now videos of police violence are about as surprising and rare as weather reports, and forgotten almost as quickly once passed.

Way Worse Videos

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

banana-pancakesI was making banana pancakes.

NPR was going on about Bannon’s OMP‘s budget proposal, a blueprint for a societal counterrevolution if I’ve ever seen one; massive increases in spending on both military operations and domestic repression, while pulling a Ripper on domestic social programs (some as much as 30 percent) while eliminating outright dozens of agencies and programs.

I dance into the dining room, a platter of pancakes at the ready, doing my best Vincent Price 1: “A screaming comes across the sky…”

Silence.

Asta finally shakes her head and mutters “Dad, you’re soooo weird.”

Ima gonna have speaks with that child’s school; this unconscionable. 2

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

Show 2 footnotes

  1. An excellent imitation, if I say so myself. Had Michael ever heard it he would have had ME doing the voice-over for Thriller.
  2. Speaking of unconscionable, my March Madness bracket is all but bust. And if Kentucky doesn’t win the whole thang, I’m dead in the water. 36 points, people. 36! Freaking ouch.

Radioactive Boars Redux

Just when we thought the radioactive boars were confined to northern Japan, comes now the Czech Republic with uplifting news:

The Czech Republic has an unusual problem this winter with its wild boar meat, a local delicacy. The boars are radioactive.

Actually, it’s not the boars themselves, but what they’re eating. A cold and snowy winter is forcing them to feed on false truffles, an underground mushroom common in the Sumava mountain region shared by Czechs, Austrians, Germans – and wild boars.

The mushrooms can absorb high levels of the radioactive isotope Caesium 137. And three decades ago the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl released a fair amount of Caesium 137 that eventually drifted down on the Sumava mountains.

Now the boars are eating the mushrooms, and ingesting the Caesium 137 along with them. That’s making their meat radioactive, Jiri Drapal at the State Veterinary Administration told Reuters.

“It is more or less a seasonal issue,” Drapal said.

But it’s a long season. The half life of Caesium 137 is 30 years – that is, it takes 30 years for the radioactivity of the isotope to fall to half its original value. Then another 30 to fall to half again, and so on. The boars could be glowing for quite a while.
“We can expect to find (affected) food for a number of years from now,” Drapal said.

And that could cause some problems with the supply of boar meat, which is popular in the Czech Republic. It often shows up on restaurant menus in goulash, a thick stew of meat, sauce and dumplings.

If at this point you’re thinking “Hey, Missouri has a nuclear facility…as does Kansas. And oh! WTF! Illinois has a shit-pile of them, both Iowa and Nebraska have one, as well as Tennessee and Arkansas! Fuck! Wait a minute…the only question now is: Are there boars around!?” 1, you can’t rightly be blamed.

The more important question though is – where are the nuclear waste storage facilities? 2

It turns out there are more nuclear waste disposal sites in the above states than actual plants. So that stuff is everywhere.

Who knows what the boars in the Midwest are ingesting? Perhaps soon we’ll have our own radioactive boars. 3

Monica Redux

Show 3 footnotes

  1. The qualified answer is Yes! Missouri has a wild boar “issue.” And Arkansas has more than their share and, like those danged armadillos creeping up from Texas, the boars are no respecters of state lines, border walls or no.
  2. And, no, Yucca Mountain does NOT count.
  3. Which, again, is bad: being bitten by feral, radioactive animals is the leading cause of zombification.