Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ferguson Trajectory

There will be other Darren Wilsons very soon. His resignation arrives even as we struggle to make sense of the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a young boy playing with a BB gun in a public park, who was mistaken for a threatening grown man. Security video shows the small boy walking aimlessly in circles – bored and playing outside by himself, until a police cruiser races right alongside him. Within seconds – before the car even came to a stop – Rice was gunned down.


The challenge, right now, is to refuse to accept the retirement of Darren Wilson, to insist that we keep talking about him. That we keep pulling him back into the spotlight, and that we study him – as an object of scrutiny, as an exemplar of American racism.


WEB Du Bois, in his 1890 Harvard Commencement address, titled “Jefferson Davis as a Representative of Civilization”, issued a vigorous critique of the former President of the Confederacy. […] In those days, Davis’s reputation was being gradually repaired, as the North “buried the bloody shirt”, and the south labored to build monuments to the man once branded a traitor and held in confinement at the war’s end in Fort Monroe.

Like Jefferson Davis, Darren Wilson’s reputation is about to undergo a similar repair.

In the blink of an eye, Darren Wilson could become the next Mark Fuhrman, slouching into his new role as a handsomely paid Fox News “expert”, deployed whenever circumstances require a defense of some other white police officer accused of racism. Michael Brown, Fuhrman said just a few days ago, was “the suspect from the very beginning to the very end”, a rather candid expression of racial profiling – invoking, as it does, the criminalization of the black male body from the cradle to the grave. As Wilson slides into the conservative commentariat, we, in turn, could become focused on simple, easy solutions – like vest cameras, community policing strategies, and diversity training initiatives.


If we truly wanted to resolve this problem, though, we’d do something bigger and bolder. We’d acknowledge that what we see on the proverbial “street” is just a phantasm, just a trick of the eye. We’d study the policeman’s gaze with a much greater degree of seriousness, and treat racial sight as an endemic, disturbing feature of American history and culture. We’d launch major studies of what cops see when they look for race and class, gender and sex, so that we’d have more to talk about than Dave Chappelle’s famous skit about police sketch artists. We would illuminate the illogic of racial sight, and, in doing so, we’d acknowledge that we cannot police what we invariably see through the lens of the terrible and the fantastic. We have many serious structural problems to address – most especially, the widening, color-coded gaps between rich and poor – but these are historically and politically linked to things as simple as sight. We cannot emphasize the structural solutions and leave intact the racial sightline that led to Michael Brown’s transfiguration into a “demon” [as described by Darren Wilson in his grand jury testimony].

  The Guardian

Ferguson Picks Up Speed

You might be hard pressed to find a table where the word ‘Ferguson’ wasn’t uttered at least once over carved turkey, and pumpkin pie.


Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, was similarly appropriated under the banner ‘Black Lives Matter Friday.’ Malls were shut down. The arrests continue to pile up. For now, the burgeoning social justice movement appears to be gathering steam.


With just over a week before TIME names its person of the year, the Ferguson protesters have surged ahead to first place in the magazine’s symbolic annual reader’s poll.


Slipping to second place is India’s newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The tallies were aggregated from votes on Twitter, Facebook and’s voting hub.


The magazine has always stressed that it’s not an endorsement, but rather an acknowledgement of the world as it is.

And FYI:
[Ferguson police officer Darren] Wilson will not receive a severance package as a result of his resignation, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said.

He’s already been off work with pay for nearly four months.

Wilson says he is resigning because it would be too hard on his fellow officers for him to stay on the force. Well, tht may be true, but practically speaking, he surely realizes, as the rest of us do, that there is no way he could go back to police work, unless maybe behind a desk.
A separate civil rights investigation into Brown’s shooting is being conducted by the US Justice Department. Police department practices are also being examined.
At least 10 activists, including one teenager, were arrested overnight in Portland, Oregon, amid on-going protests against a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black teen.


According to the police, a larger group of people “was briefly detained” during the demonstration, but then they were “released and told to leave the area.”

Earlier, social media users shared a video in which police officials use flash bangs, a device designed to stun its target with a blinding flash of light and intense noise. Also Twitter users said police reportedly used rubber bullets to disperse the activists.

Police departments the world over are probably cursing the St. Louis prosecutor, Bob McCullough, and the grand jury.

But now…for a little emo…
On Tuesday a 12-year old African-American boy Devonte Hart was standing in Portland downtown holding signs "You Matter" and "Free Hugs." He was trembling, tears were rolling down his cheeks, his mother told the local media.

Police Sgt. Bret Barnum who was standing a few meters away from the boy, noticed that the teen was crying and came to him. A father of two teenage sons, the officer saw the sign “Free Hugs” and asked Devonte if he might get a hug as well.

And one more thing....

Isn't that like admitting he's guilty.  Otherwise, how could they deny him his pension or other benefits an officer might get when he resigns from the force?

Plus, today:  St. Louis Rams enter the stadium hands up.  Kudos.

"Liberal" Presidents

Looks like the civil rights protesters were lucky to have Lyndon Johnson. The "Ferguson" protesters aren't so lucky.
“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law,” President Barack Obama said in his address to the nation following the Nov. 24 grand jury decision. Never mind that the legal proceedings in question had forestalled the most basic protections that safeguard such rule — the opportunity to mount a public inquiry into a police officer’s grave trespass against a private citizen. Instead it produced something of a parody of due process, via a highly irregular grand-jury proceeding relying mainly on the contradictory and implausible testimony of the would-be defendant.

Nevertheless, the president pressed on with his alternate-universe version of events. “We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make,” he announced — even though no one protesting was challenging the panel’s formal authority, any more than abolitionists or civil-rights activists had denied that the Supreme Court’s rulings in Dred Scott v. Sanford or Plessy v. Ferguson were the law of the land. What was in question, rather, was the actions of the grand jury, after its members had been prodded by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, a notoriously cop-friendly DA, to contort the basic purpose of a grand-jury hearing out of all recognition.


Since they’re formal path-clearing inquiries, grand juries typically don’t hear the testimony of more than a handful of witnesses. McCulloch, by contrast, called 60 witnesses, who testified for more than 70 hours. Wilson alone testified without cross-examination for four hours — an unheard-of span of time for a prospective defendant, even in a police murder inquiry. Likewise, grand-jury proceedings in any criminal case rarely go beyond a day or two — but McCulloch kept this body empaneled for more than 100 days.


Most obviously, these maneuvers gave McCulloch the opportunity to shape the direction of the inquiry, and to elevate Wilson’s testimony over that of the many civilian witnesses who contradicted his account. Just as important, the protracted inquiry permitted a steady stream of leaks to reach the press during the proceedings — leaks that shored up Wilson’s version of the shooting, and put the lie to McCulloch’s whining complaint that media coverage had made the grand jury’s job much harder than it should have been.


What’s more, the totemic invocation of “rule of law” channels public attention into the reassuringly sanctimonious civic sport of deploring the genuinely deplorable outbreaks of rioting and vandalism that greeted the grand-jury announcement in Ferguson. “As [the police] do their work in the coming days,” Obama said in his statement, “they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence — distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how their communities and law enforcement interact.”


Protestors in Ferguson and elsewhere aren’t exercised over getting their “voices heard around legitimate issues”; they’re exasperated over the dodges and double-standards of a justice system that increasingly seems weighted against the value of black lives.


Hillary Clinton, the consensus Democratic frontrunner for the presidency in 2016, has outdone Obama’s diffident rhetorical performance by maintaining a complete silence about the shameful events in Ferguson.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

Black Friday (repeat)

The ‘No Justice, No Profit’ campaign – led by a movement of celebrities and activists – is calling for a nationwide boycott of retail outlets to protest the recent grand jury decision not to indict a white officer for killing an unarmed black teenager.

Not an issue for me since I have never bought anything on Black Friday.  But, count me in anyway.

Warning:  the following video is graphic.

No Matter Bridge- and Ebola-gates: Christie Is Going for It

Black Friday

al Turkee

No One Figured This Out BEFORE They Put 'Em on the Market?

A team of researchers from the Japanese Health Ministry examined the vapor [from e-cigarettes], finding carcinogens like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The former was found in quantities exceeding traditional cigarettes by 10 times.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Just a Few More Holes

1. Wilson washed away blood evidence.


2. The first officer to interview Wilson failed to take any notes.


3. Investigators failed to measure the likely distance between Brown and Wilson.


4. Investigators did not test Wilson’s gun for fingerprints.


5. Wilson did not immediately turn his weapon over to investigators after killing Brown.


6. An initial interview with investigators was delayed while Wilson traveled to the hospital with his superiors.


7. Wilson’s initial interview with the detective conflicts with information given in later testimony.

Number 1 alone is enough to create a need for a trial. Why did a trained police officer wash blood evidence off himself after shooting and killing someone?

Pardon the Turkey

Seriously, UCLA? Worth It?

The Washington Post used a Freedom of Information Act request to get an inside look at just what it takes to get Hillary Clinton to come speak at your university. First of all, there’s the matter of cash: a cool $300,000, which is apparently the “special university rate.” That is the answer UCLA received when it asked whether the public university could get some sort of discount. Undeterred by the price tag, the university moved forward with booking the former secretary of state. Yet the cash was hardly all the university had to put forward as booking the presidential hopeful involved a string of requests that kept organizers busy until she delivered he Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership speech on March 5, 2014.

The university had decided to award the former secretary of state the UCLA medal. But in a clear example of how carefully Clinton’s people stage-manage her appearances, they asked that the medal be presented in a box rather than draped around her neck. Other demands included:


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Blackout Black Friday

The ‘No Justice, No Profit’ campaign – led by a movement of celebrities and activists – is calling for a nationwide boycott of retail outlets to protest the recent grand jury decision not to indict a white officer for killing an unarmed black teenager.

Not an issue for me since I have never bought anything on Black Friday.  But, count me in anyway.

Warning:  the following video is graphic.

Ferguson International

At least 400 protesters have been arrested over the past three days across the US, as they rallied against the grand jury decision on the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, and police violence in general.

Some 200 activists were detained in Los Angeles. At 7:30pm local time on Wednesday, police told the demonstrators to leave within four minutes. Those who stayed were taken to police stations, with a possible bail of $500. If the bail isn’t paid, the detainees are to stay in prison until at least December 1.


In Oakland, California, hundreds of protesters marched through the city, spraying walls, billboards and bus stops with graffiti and smashing storefront windows. It all led to clashes with police in a public plaza adjacent to City Hall.


San Diego saw a peaceful march, with around 300 people chanting “Ferguson, we’ve got your back!”


In Dallas, Texas, three members of a group called ‘Come and Take It’ marched alongside demonstrators, saying they were prepared to step in and protect private property if things turned ugly.

Heavily armed.  What are they going to do if "things turn ugly"?  Shoot civilian protesters?  "Come and Take It'" - they're talking about their guns.

What a great time to have so many open carry communities.

Oathkeepers...aren't they the "Christian" army?

And even London joined in...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Protest That Works

Financial protest for race relations. Indeed, that's the best way to be heard.


This will only bring down punishment....

There were also large protests in Boston and L.A., in Times Square, on Wall Street and the UN, and across the country.

This much national protest support will surely put pressure on the federal investigation.

Meanwhile, in Ferguson last night, protesters were pepper sprayed, tear-gassed and arrested.  There was some looting and it looks like one police car was set on fire, and it's reported that a protester with a fire extinguisher put it out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grand Jury Farce

 Lisa Bloom is an attorney who does analyses for NBC. Check out her analysis of the Darren Wilson Grand Jury testimony.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Pay Any Price

It is difficult to recognize the limits a society places on accepted thought at the time it is doing it. When everyone accepts basic assumptions, there don’t seem to be constraints on ideas. That truth often only reveals itself in hindsight. Today, the basic prerequisite to being taken seriously in American politics is to accept the legitimacy of the new national security state. The new basic American assumption is that there really is a need for a global war on terror. Anyone who doesn’t accept that basic assumption is considered dangerous and maybe even a traitor. The crackdown on leaks by the Obama administration has been designed to suppress the truth about the war on terror. Stay on the interstate highway of conventional wisdom with your journalism, and you will have no problems. Try to get off and challenge basic assumptions, and you will face punishment.

  James Risen via Glenn Greenwald
James Risen interviewed by Glenn Greenwald about Risen’s new book: Pay Any Price.

And Right on Cue...There Goes Syria

US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.

Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action.


Abu Zeid, the commander of an FSA brigade near Idlib and a defector from President Bashar al-Assad’s army, said: “All the locals here wonder why the US coalition never came to rescue them from Assad’s machine guns, but run to fight Isis when it took a few pieces of land.

  The Guardian
Apparently, gullible rebels still think the US cares about them. Well, they did until now.

St. Louis This Afternoon

Feds Still on the Case

Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday night that a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown will continue despite a St. Louis County grand jury's decision to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.

Holder noted that federal civil rights cases have a "high legal bar," but said federal investigators have "resisted forming premature conclusions."


He added that the Justice Department is also still investigating allegations of misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department


Tuesday Morning Mystery in Ferguson

Police found the body of a man inside a parked car in Ferguson early Tuesday, after a night of looting and unrest ravaged parts of that city.

A St. Louis County police spokesman would only say that the death is being classified for now as "suspicious" and wouldn't divulge any more details or circumstances.

The body was discovered inside a sedan near Glen Owen Drive and Windward Court at about 9 a.m. Monday. That's just east of the Canfield Apartments and down the street from Canfield Drive, where Michael Brown was fatally shot Aug. 9 by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.


A woman who was crying and pacing nearby said: "They killed my baby." Officers tried to hold her back, but she got close enough to the car to see who was inside.

Ferguson resident Richard Taylor, who lives nearby on Samana Drive, said he saw four people with guns outside of his apartment Monday night who were talking about looting and saying they wanted to kill someone.


Taylor said he called police after he overheard those people talking, but they never showed up.

  St Louis Today
UPDATE: DeAndre Joshua, age 20

Mississippi Burned

It took 44 days after their murders for FBI agents to find the bodies of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney buried 15 feet beneath an earthen dam in Neshoba County, Mississippi, where the three civil rights workers were spending the summer of 1964 registering black voters. It took 41 years for the man who orchestrated and carried out the killings, Ku Klux Klan organizer Edgar Ray Killen, to be prosecuted on murder charges.

A half-century after their disappearance, Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were posthumously awarded on Monday the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor that can be bestowed on civilians — for their contributions to civil rights.

An award they did indeed deserve, but one which has been besmirched by having been given to the likes of Alan Greenspan, George Tenet, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, Strom Thurmond, Henry Kissinger, George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan.

It is an overbroad award.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded by the President of the United States "for especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors"

It is also a conflicted award, numbers (1) and (2) being mutually exclusive.
Schwerner was a 24-year-old white New Yorker and Freedom Summer volunteer who had earned the ire of Klansmen because of his role in organizing a boycott of a store in Meridian, Mississippi, that had a large black clientele but employed no black workers. Chaney, 21, was an African-American Meridian native affiliated with the Congress for Racial Equality who was Schwerner’s friend and associate. The two recruited Goodman, a 20-year-old white student from Queens College in Manhattan, to accompany them to investigate the burning of a black church in Neshoba County.

As the three men left the church on June 21, 1964, police stopped their car and, citing them for speeding, took Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner to jail. Officers were then believed to have tipped off Klansmen about their whereabouts so that when they were released late at night, they were ambushed, chased to an isolated country road and shot. Chaney’s body was badly beaten and mutilated beyond recognition.


In 1967, seven men were convicted on federal civil rights charges in the conspiracy to murder Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman by an all-white jury, but none served prison sentences more than six years. In 2005, largely thanks to the unearthing of new evidence by investigative journalist Jerry Mitchell, the state re-opened the investigation, ultimately trying and convicting [Ku Klux Klan organizer Edgar Ray] Killen as the lead perpetrator. The former Baptist preacher is serving three consecutive 20-year prison terms.

Collateral Damage in Graphic Detail

The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur.

Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.



Clayton ( – About three dozen demonstrators took to the streets on Tuesday morning to protest the grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer for the shooting death of a teenager.


The demonstration took place just a block or two from the St. Louis County Justice Center where on Monday a grand jury opted not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in August.

"About three dozen." You count ‘em.

By a rough estimate, I’d say there were about 100. Nice downplaying there KMOV.

I wonder how many they reported looting and setting fires last night.

Helpful Notice to TV Media

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Pre-Sunday Sermon


Obama said that it's "an understandable reaction" for some to be angry with the decision, but he urged people to respect the wishes of Michael Brown's family and refrain from violence.

"Michael Brown's parents have lost more than anyone, we should be honoring their wishes," he said.

Michael Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden addressed the crowd as McCullough was speaking, apparently already informed of what the decision was going to be. She broke down sobbing in tears and agony saying, “they took my baby,” and “we’re sick of this.” After that, the stepfather of Michael Brown, Louis Head, shouted through tears, “burn this shit down.”

  The Interecept

Joke of the Night

Monday, November 24, 2014

Add L.A.

Ferguson in Oakland & DC

Ferguson Burning

Alderman Antonio French is reporting on Twitter that there has been looting, and confirming that a Walgreens and the Beauty Town building (where his group #HealSTL is housed) are burning, along with "several other buildings."

They Closed Down the Airport??

Isn't that a bit of an overreaction?


Were they expecting the protesters to march on the airport?  Or were they expecting terrorists to be coming to join the protesters?

More Reaction in Other Cities


Takin' It to the Streets (1978 - Quincy Jones)

Back in Ferguson

9:39 Well, I was about to pull away.... Shouts of "tear gas", smoke bombs, large explosions (flash bombs?). A line of police in riot gear. Police car in blazes.


Somebody in the press group says, "Hey get back.  There's gunshot coming down through there.  Turn that light off!  Turn that light off!  Jesus, fucking Christ."  In the distance is a horn blaring.

Small group of police in riot gear are looking a bit disorganized.  Conflicting orders?

 People just kind of milling about.

Another voice in the press group:  "Haven't had this much fun in quite a while."

And ow that group of riot-geared officers is on the move. has a camera amongst the protesters, not the police,but coverage is unreliable.  Showing a man who got hit in the head by what they are saying was a teargas canister.

10:00 - cameraman says they are getting reports of the Walgreen's on South Florissant being on fire.

Nobody at this junction looks to be organized.  People milling around.  Military issue trucks and riot cops are gathered together.  A black woman with a bullhorn has been going non-stop ranting at the police.  But people are on the sidewalk.  Protesters are shouting, "Go fight ISIS."

10:40:  Bassem Masri (at and at UStream) was live streaming video and commentary on what seems to be a group of protesters trapped in an area by police, when all of a sudden he stopped talking and started running.  Turns out someone stole his phone.

Live in Ferguson

Watching live video on MSNBC.

Police on loudspeakers are telling people in the street in Ferguson they are "unlawfully assembled.  You need to get of the street immediately or you will be subject to arrest.  Do it now."  A white woma is lying in the street saying "You're not taking me out.  People have a right to be in the street."

Some people are beating on a police car.

Police bullhorn: "You need to stop throwing objects at the police."  Various cries of "Fuck you!"  Sounds of breaking glass.

A black man shouts, "Don't bring your punk-ass out here.  Don't be throwing stuff while I'm out here."  Crowd is gathering and marching with hands in the air, chanting, "Hands up.  Don't shoot."

They're really going at the police car now.  Smoke bombs are going off.  People are screaming.

St.Louis County armored trucks with men on top wearing gas masks are pulling into the street, police on foot with gas masks, sields and guns are going alongside.

MSNBC reporters seem to be sticking close to the police.

Christmas lights are strung up on the buildings.

The reporters are now well behind police lines.

Long shot shows a small crowd gathered in the street with police armored trucks very slowly approaching.    Suddenly the crowd begins to break up as smoke bombs are thrown at them.  Now they're running to get away.

And that's it for me watching live.  At the moment, it's calmer.  We shall see what the morning will bring.