What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White
Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.
This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Sources: Russians discussed 'derogatory' information about Trump and associates during campaign - CNNPolitics.com
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump's inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information."
Sources: Russians discussed 'derogatory' information about Trump and associates during campaign - CNNPolitics.com
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
"The special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is the first major test of the Democratic resistance to President Trump. In one sense, the results of the first round in April were promising for the party. Thanks to an impressive Democratic turnout, Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who advanced to this month’s runoff, almost cracked 50 percent of the vote in a district that’s nearly 10 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole.1
The result, moreover, was a reversal of some turnout trends we saw in 2016, when President Trump outperformed the polls on the back of higher turnout in Republican-leaning areas. And if the runoff election on June 20 features a similar electorate, the race will be too close to call.
But the Georgia 6 April primary was a continuation of some 2016 turnout trends too — trends that should worry Democrats. In 2016, turnout among whites was up across the country, and in highly educated areas like the 6th District in the suburbs of Atlanta. This redounded to Democrats’ advantage. At the same time, black turnout was down precipitously, from 66 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016. This black-white turnout gap continued in the first round of Georgia’s special election, where the Democrats got impressive turnout levels from all races and ethnicities — except African-Americans.
Lower black turnout in 2016 might be explained as a reversion to the mean after that group’s historic turnout for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It’s possible that Clinton could never inspire black turnout the way the first African-American president could. But even if this shift is more of a return to the old status quo, Democrats will still have to grapple with these turnout levels going forward, and there are powerful lessons we can learn from the party’s failure to raise or maintain previous black turnout levels in 2016. Painting Trump as a bigot did not motivate more African-Americans to vote, in 2016 or in the Georgia 6th. Hope and shared identity seem to be much more effective turnout motivators than fear.
Elections are decided by two chief factors: Who turns out and which candidate they vote for. It’s been pointed out that turnout alone did not decide the 2016 election — and that the key factor in Trump’s success with groups like the white working class was not that he got way more of them to the polls than Mitt Romney did, but simply that he won a much higher share of their votes."
Black Voters Aren’t Turning Out For The Post-Obama Democratic Party | FiveThirtyEight
I first learned of him in 1972, reading one of his books in a political science class; "Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era". He was an architect of the Israeli Egyptian peace agreement.
Portland Republican says party should use militia groups after racial attack | US news | The Guardian
"As tensions continue in Portland following the racially charged murder of two men on Friday, the top Republican in the city said he is considering using militia groups as security for public events.
Portland knife attack: tension high as 'free speech rally' set for weekend Read more Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were stabbed to death and 21-year-old student Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured when they came to the aid of two women being subjected to hate speech on public transport. The suspect, Jeremy Christian, 35, was found to hold white supremacist views and to have attended an ‘alt-right’ rally in the city.
On Monday, Donald Trump issued a belated message of condolence. Asked about the president’s tweet, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler told the Guardian: ‘Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry. Violent words can lead to violent acts.
‘All elected leaders in America, all people of good conscience, must work deliberately change our political dialogue.’
Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal, however, told the Guardian that recent street protests had prompted Portland Republicans to consider alternatives to ‘abandoning the public square’.
‘I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,’ he said. ‘And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.’
Asked if this meant Republicans making their own security arrangements rather than relying on city or state police, Buchal said: ‘Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.’
Asked if he was considering such groups as security providers, Buchal said: ‘Yeah. We’re thinking about that. Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.’
"Manuel Antonio Noriega, the brash former dictator of Panama and sometime ally of the United States whose ties to drug trafficking led to his ouster in 1989 in what was then the largest American military action since the Vietnam War, has died. He was 83.
President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama announced Mr. Noriega’s death on Twitter early Tuesday morning.
Mr. Varela’s post read, ‘The death of Manuel A. Noriega closes a chapter in our history; his daughters and his relatives deserve to bury him in peace.’
Mr. Noriega died around 11 p.m. Monday at Santo Tomás Hospital in Panama City, a hospital employee confirmed. An official cause of death was not immediately available.
Mr. Noriega had been in intensive care since March 7 after complications developed from surgery to remove what his lawyer described as a benign brain tumor. His daughters told reporters at the hospital in March that he had had a brain hemorrhage after the procedure. He had been granted house arrest in January to prepare for the operation.
Manuel Antonio Noriega in 1989, the year the United States invaded Panama to depose him. Credit Associated Press His medical problems came on the heels of a legal odyssey that had begun with the invasion and led to prison terms in the United States, France and finally Panama. While imprisoned abroad he suffered strokes, hypertension and other ailments, his lawyers said.
After returning to Panama on Dec. 11, 2011, he began serving long sentences for murder, embezzlement and corruption in connection with his rule during the 1980s.
It was an inglorious homecoming for a man who had been known for brandishing a machete while making defiant nationalist speeches and living a lavish, libertine life off drug-trade riches, complete with luxurious mansions, cocaine-fueled parties and voluminous collections of antique guns. It was a quirky life as well: He liked to display his teddy bears dressed as paratroopers.
Playing Both Sides
Mr. Noriega, who became the de facto leader of the country by promoting himself to full general of the armed forces in 1983, had a decades-long, head-spinning relationship with the United States, shifting from cooperative ally and informant for American drug and intelligence agencies to shady adversary, selling secrets to political enemies of the United States in the Western Hemisphere and tipping off drug cartels. Whose side he was on was often hard to tell."
"WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was looking for a direct line to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — a search that in mid-December found him in a room with a Russian banker whose financial institution was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States.
Federal and congressional investigators are now examining what exactly Mr. Kushner and the Russian banker, Sergey N. Gorkov, wanted from each other. The banker is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition, according to current and former officials familiar with the investigations."
Monday, May 29, 2017
Sunday, May 28, 2017
"Any doubts about the senseless cruelty underlying the health care agenda put forward by President Trump and Congress were put to rest last week by two government documents. The fantasy that Mr. Trump intends to fight for the health of long-suffering working people should be similarly interred.
One document was the administration’s budget. The other was the Congressional Budget Office’s detailed analysis of the Trumpcare bill passed by the House earlier this month. The budget proposes billions of dollars in cuts to programs that fund research into new cures, protect the country from infectious diseases and provide care to the poor, the elderly and people with disabilities. The analysis said that Trumpcare — formally the American Health Care Act — would rob 23 million people of health insurance while leaving millions of others with policies that offer little protection from major medical conditions. All of this would be done in service of huge tax cuts for the richest Americans.
Consider the fate of Medicaid, a program that provides health insurance to more than 74 million people, among them 60 percent of nursing home residents and millions of people with disabilities. Trumpcare would slash Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years, according to the C.B.O. The president’s budget would take a further $610 billion from the program under the pretext of reforming it. Taken together, this amounts to an estimated 45 percent reduction by 2026 compared with current law, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says.
Trumpcare, the C.B.O. says, would make it impossible for millions of people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or diabetes to buy health insurance. That’s because the law would let states waive many of the requirements in the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law known as Obamacare. It would also greatly increase the cost of insurance policies for older and poorer people, no matter where they live. By way of illustration, a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year and living in a state not seeking waivers would have to pay $16,100 a year for coverage, nearly 10 times as much as she would under Obamacare.
The House speaker, Paul Ryan, would argue that Trumpcare is an improvement over the A.C.A. because it would lower premiums for many people, especially the young and healthy. The C.B.O. says he’s right, noting that plans would include fewer benefits. In effect, Mr. Ryan and his colleagues are patting themselves on the back for lowering health insurance premiums by taking away people’s access to medical services.
Apart from inflicting hardship, what would Trumpcare and the president’s budget achieve? Mainly a windfall for wealthy families. The administration has not provided enough information to make good estimates, so it’s hard to say how much the rich would gain from the budget, although it would be a lot. We know more about Trumpcare. The Tax Policy Center estimates that almost all of the tax cuts in that legislation would flow to the rich: The top 1 percent would take home an average of $37,200 a year, while people with middle-class incomes would get a measly $300.
The White House and Republicans in the House of Representatives agree on Trumpcare and are aligned on many parts of the president’s budget. The Senate, however, is still up for grabs. A handful of more moderate senators like Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Rob Portman of Ohio are all that stand in the way of this retrograde assault on American health care."
Trumpcare’s Cruelty, Reaffirmed - The New York Times
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Jon Ossoff - The Congressional Budget Office reported yesterday... The Congressional Budget Office reported yesterday that the House’s health care bill will make insurance unaffordable for 23 million Americans. It will raise premiums on older and low-income Americans. And those with preexisting conditions could be priced out of insurance altogether. John Armwood is a Brookhaven resident diagnosed with prostate cancer after losing his insurance. He was able to get covered thanks to the ACA. The current plan in Congress would be devastating for many Americans like Mr. Armwood. Jon Ossoff will fight to make affordable insurance and quality care available to all Americans.
"Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.
His death, at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, was announced on Friday by his daughter, Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of the MSNBC program ‘Morning Joe.’
Like his predecessor Henry A. Kissinger, Mr. Brzezinski was a foreign-born scholar (he in Poland, Mr. Kissinger in Germany) with considerable influence in global affairs, both before and long after his official tour of duty in the White House. In essays, interviews and television appearances over the decades, he cast a sharp eye on six successive administrations, including that of Donald J. Trump, whose election he did not support and whose foreign policy, he found, lacked coherence.
Mr. Brzezinski was nominally a Democrat, with views that led him to speak out, for example, against the ‘greed,’ as he put it, of an American system that compounded inequality. He was one of the few foreign policy experts to warn against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE
Op-Ed: ‘Why the World Needs a Trump Doctrine’ by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Paul Wasserman (Feb. 20, 2017) Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Writings in The New York Times"
Friday, May 26, 2017
Accused of underpaying women, Google says it's too expensive to get wage data | Technology | The Guardian
"Google argued that it was too financially burdensome and logistically challenging to compile and hand over salary records that the government has requested, sparking a strong rebuke from the US Department of Labor (DoL), which has accused the Silicon Valley firm of underpaying women.
Google officials testified in federal court on Friday that it would have to spend up to 500 hours of work and $100,000 to comply with investigators’ ongoing demands for wage data that the DoL believes will help explain why the technology corporation appears to be systematically discriminating against women.
Noting Google’s nearly $28bn annual income as one of the most profitable companies in the US, DoL attorney Ian Eliasoph scoffed at the company’s defense, saying, “Google would be able to absorb the cost as easy as a dry kitchen sponge could absorb a single drop of water.”
The tense exchanges in a small San Francisco courtroom emerged in the final day of testimony in the most high-profile government trial to date surrounding the intensifying debate about the wage gap and gender discrimination in the tech industry."
Accused of underpaying women, Google says it's too expensive to get wage data | Technology | The Guardian
Federal judge tosses life sentences for convicted beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo - The Washington Post
"...The life sentences that Lee Boyd Malvo received for his role in the 2002 sniper shootings which occurred in Virginia were thrown out Friday by a federal judge, because Malvo was 17 at the time of the attacks.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were unconstitutional for juveniles, and in 2016 the court decided that ruling should be applied retroactively. And so even though Malvo entered pleas in Spotsylvania County, Va., and agreed to serve two life sentences without parole, in addition to being convicted by a jury and sentenced to two life sentences in Chesapeake, Va., U.S. District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson vacated all four sentences and ordered resentencings.
The ruling does not apply to the six life sentences Malvo received in Maryland after he pleaded guilty to six murder charges there. His Maryland lawyers are appealing in both state and federal court on the same grounds, and a hearing is set for next month..."
Federal judge tosses life sentences for convicted beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo - The Washington Post
Jared Kushner trying to secretly talk to the Russians is the biggest billow of smoke yet - The Washington Post
"Well before any of this was public, Team Trump's meetings with Russians raised eyebrows for former CIA director John Brennan, who told Congress recently:
"[B] the time I left office on January 20, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion. And so, therefore, I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues."
Jared Kushner trying to secretly talk to the Russians is the biggest billow of smoke yet - The Washington Post
"The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked President Trump’s political organization to gather and produce all documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015, according to two people briefed on the request.
The letter from the Senate arrived at Trump’s campaign committee last week and was addressed to the group’s treasurer. Since then, some former staffers have been notified and asked to cooperate, the people said. They were not authorized to speak publicly.
Dozens of former staffers are expected to be contacted in the coming days to make sure they are aware of the request, the people added.
The letter was signed by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the Senate committee’s chairman, and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. Warner’s spokesperson declined to comment."
Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents - The Washington Post
Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin - The Washington Post
"This was blatantly illegal! "Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.
Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, then President-elect Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.
The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.
The White House disclosed the fact of the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.
Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team."
18 U.S. Code § 953 - Private correspondence with foreign governments
Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin - The Washington Post
"Much like the original version of the AHCA, which was pulled in March after it failed to get enough support, the bill penalizes elderly, poor, and sick Americans in exchange for lower premiums for the young and healthy, and a large tax cut for the wealthy. Some 23 million fewer people would be insured over the next decade, more than half of those because of an $800 billion gouge to Medicaid. Some low-income elderly people could see their premiums go up by 800 percent. Treatment for substance abuse and maternity care could cost thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket costs. An estimated one-sixth of the population would face increasingly unstable insurance markets.
The most significant impact of Trumpcare 2.0, when compared to the original version, is that it makes insurance markets even less predictable. The amended version of the AHCA allows states to do away with some of the consumer protections established by Obamacare—including the rule preventing insurers from charging more to people with preexisting conditions, and standards for “Essential Health Benefits” that all insurance plans must cover. As a result of these changes, the CBO predicts, “Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding that would be available…to help reduce premiums.” Millions of people would be priced out of the insurance market, while “a few million” more might end up with policies so skimpy that they “would not provide enough financial protection in the event of a serious and costly illness to be considered insurance.”
Republicans cannot feign surprise at this analysis, as it essentially conforms to previous projections. It suggests that when Paul Ryan claimed in April that “people will be better off with preexisting conditions under our plan,” he was, quite simply, lying. So was Trump when he said just weeks ago this month that the legislation “will be every bit as good on preexisting conditions as Obamacare.” It’s telling that even before the CBO score came out many of Ryan’s colleagues all but given up any idea of selling their bill to the public. Only a handful of House members who voted for the AHCA held town-hall meetings during the recess immediately following the vote. Senate Republicans have expressed ambivalence about the House legislation as they work on their own version.
Ryan tried to put a positive spin on the CBO’s figures, claiming they confirm that the AHCA will lower premiums and reduce the deficit. Technically, that’s true—but premiums will be lower because they’ll cover fewer services, and because older, sicker people will get priced out of the market, lowering costs for everyone who remains. And only about 10 percent of the savings go towards deficit reduction; the rest finances $874 billion in tax cuts. Ryan might still make a case for the AHCA on these dubious merits. He could even argue that pulling the rug out from sick and elderly people is really a worthwhile trade for letting the rich keep more of their tax dollars. But that’s not the health-care plan GOP leaders repeatedly promised to deliver."
More Proof Republicans Are Just Lying About Trumpcare | The Nation
"How bad is the Republican rewrite of Obamacare? So bad, apparently, that the GOP candidate for Montana’s lone congressional seat allegedly assaulted a reporter rather than answer a question about it...
... With the CBO score out now, it’s harder for Republicans to evade questions about the impact of their plan. (Though body slamming a reporter is an… interesting way to try.) The picture painted by the new analysis is ugly: Much like the original version of the AHCA, which was pulled in March after it failed to get enough support, the bill penalizes elderly, poor, and sick Americans in exchange for lower premiums for the young and healthy, and a large tax cut for the wealthy. Some 23 million fewer people would be insured over the next decade, more than half of those because of an $800 billion gouge to Medicaid. Some low-income elderly people could see their premiums go up by 800 percent. Treatment for substance abuse and maternity care could cost thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket costs. An estimated one-sixth of the population would face increasingly unstable insurance markets.The most significant impact of Trumpcare 2.0, when compared to the original version, is that it makes insurance markets even less predictable. The amended version of the AHCA allows states to do away with some of the consumer protections established by Obamacare—including the rule preventing insurers from charging more to people with preexisting conditions, and standards for “Essential Health Benefits” that all insurance plans must cover. As a result of these changes, the CBO predicts, “Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding that would be available…to help reduce premiums.” Millions of people would be priced out of the insurance market, while “a few million” more might end up with policies so skimpy that they “would not provide enough financial protection in the event of a serious and costly illness to be considered insurance.”
Barack Obama on food and climate change: ‘We can still act and it won’t be too late’ | Global development | The Guardian
“During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority, because I believe that, for all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century more dramatically perhaps than the others. No nation, whether it’s large or small, rich or poor, will be immune from the impacts of climate change. We are already experiencing it in America, where some cities are seeing floods on sunny days, where wildfire seasons are longer and more dangerous, where in our arctic state, Alaska, we’re seeing rapidly eroding shorelines, and glaciers receding at a pace unseen in modern times.
Over my eight years in office, we dramatically increased our generation of clean energy, we acted to curtail our use of dirty energy, and we invested in energy efficiency across the board. At the 2015 climate change summit in Paris, we helped lead the world to the first significant global agreement for a low-carbon future.
But here’s the thing: even if every country somehow puts the brakes on emissions, climate change would still have an impact on our world for years to come. Our changing climate is already making it more difficult to produce food, and we’ve already seen shrinking yields and spiking food prices that, in some cases, are leading to political instability. And when most of the world’s poor work in agriculture, the stark imbalances that we’ve worked so hard to close between developed and developing countries will be even tougher to close. The cost will be borne by people in poor nations that are least equipped to handle it. In fact, some of the refugee flows into Europe originate not only from conflict, but also from places where there are food shortages, which will get far worse as climate change continues. So if we don’t take the action necessary to slow and ultimately stop these trends, the migration that has put such a burden on Europe already will just continue to get worse.
Now, the good news is that there are steps we can take that will make a difference: in the United States, we have been able to bring our emissions down even as we grow our economy. The same is true in many parts of Europe. Take food production, for instance. It’s the second leading driver of greenhouse gas emissions, second only to energy production. But we have already identified ways in which we can address this challenge. The path to a sustainable food future will require unleashing the creative power of our best scientists, and engineers and entrepreneurs, backed by public and private investment, to deploy new innovations in climate-smart agriculture. Better seeds, better storage, crops that grow with less water, crops that grow in harsher climates, mobile technologies that put more agricultural data – including satellite imagery and weather forecasting and market prices – into the hands of farmers, so that they know when to plant and where to plant, what to plant and how it will sell.
All these things can help to make sure that food security exists in poor countries, but it can also help us ensure that, in producing the food that we need to feed the billions of people on this planet, we’re not destroying the planet in the process.
Play VideoPlay Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 1:58 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% FullscreenMute Facebook Twitter Pinterest Barack Obama: ‘I made climate change a top priority’ A part of this is also going to be wasting less food. We have to create a food culture that encourages a demand for healthier, more sustainable food. In fact, making sure people have healthy food to eat alleviates a lot of the medical cost that we’re seeing increasing in the advanced world, and if we’re able to reduce our healthcare costs, that in turn will allow us to divert those resources into further relieving poverty in many parts of the world. When families get the nourishment they need, we see education outcomes rise, we see healthcare costs fall, and we see economic activity improve; and when, in the United States, the number one disqualifier for military service is obesity, we might even be able to strengthen our security as well.
So the good news is that we’re starting to see a better way to feed a growing planet, combat hunger and malnutrition, put healthy food on the table and save our environment. And none of this is impossible. We can look at the successes we’ve already made: in just the past decade, the number of undernourished people in the world is down by more than 160 million.
I do not believe that any part of the world has to be condemned to perpetual poverty and hunger. And I do not believe that this planet is condemned to ever-rising temperatures. I believe these are problems that were caused by man, and they can be solved by man.
I’m fond of quoting the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who believed that there is such a thing as being too late. When it comes to climate change, the hour is almost upon us. If we act boldly and swiftly, if we set aside our political interests in favour of the air that our young people will breathe, and the food they will eat, and the water they will drink; if we think about them and their hopes and dreams, then we will act, and it won’t be too late. And we can leave behind a world that is worthy of our children, where there’s reduced conflict and greater cooperation – a world marked not by human suffering, but by human progress.
Food has not been the focus of climate change discussions as much as it should have been. Part of the problem is that we haven’t publicised the impact of food production on greenhouse gas emissions. People naturally understand that big smokestacks have pollution in them – they understand air pollution, so they can easily make the connection between energy production and greenhouse gases. Most people aren’t as familiar with the impact of cows and methane. So part of the problem that we need to address is just lack of knowledge in the general public. Keep in mind how long it took to educate people around climate change, and we still have a lot of work to do.
Part of it is that food is a very emotional issue. Because food is so close to us, and it’s part of our families, and it’s part of what we do every single day, people are more resistant to the idea of government or bureaucrats telling us how to eat, what to eat, how to grow it. The truth is that agriculture communities in every country are very strong, politically. Historically, in the United States, the one area where Democrats and Republicans agree is on the agriculture committee, because they usually come from agricultural states, and they are very good at joining across party lines to protect the interest of food producers.
If you combine all those things with the fact that the system is so uneven – there are countries that just need more food, and there are countries where there is a glut of food – it makes for a difficult political dynamic in which to shape rational policy. Now, having said that, this is an area where we are starting to see some progress. In the United States, one of the things that we tried to do is to work with farmers to think about how they could produce the same amounts of food more efficiently, with fewer greenhouse gas emissions. And what I’ve always said is that if you want to make progress in this area, you have to take into account the interests of the producers themselves. Farmers work hard, and especially with small farms, or family farms, they feel that they are always just a step away from losing everything.
Obviously, a large portion of agriculture is dominated by agribusiness, but to the extent that you can show small- and medium-sized farmers ways to do things better that will save them money – or at least doesn’t cost them money – they’re happy to adopt some of these new processes. But if what they see is that you are putting the environmental issues as a priority over their economic interest, then they’ll resist.
Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass (in green) digging for sweet potatoes in the White House kitchen garden in 2010. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty That’s true in advanced countries, and it’s also true in poor countries. My father is from Kenya. The first time I visited, I was speaking to some conservationists who were very upset because some of the game parks were being encroached upon by farmers – either the Maasai with their cattle, or subsistence farmers who were slashing and cutting down the ecosystem. And my sister – who’s from Kenya and has a less romantic view about animals and game parks – said: ‘Well, if all the money from the game parks is going to the tour agencies in Nairobi and not going to the farmers next door, then of course they are not going to care. But if they see some economic interest in helping to conserve this land, they’ll participate.’ And that, in fact, has been the case. Where you’ve seen success in conservation, it’s because you’ve brought in the local farmers and you’ve taught them how this is better for them. So that has to be a top priority. If we’re going to be successful, we have to engage producers.
We also have to engage consumers. My good friend Sam Kass cooked for us at the White House, and helped to shape America’s nutrition policy. He worked with my wife to promote healthy eating, and most of the impact he had was not legislation, it was raising awareness with parents about what unhealthy eating was doing to their children, and showing how millions of young children could eat healthier meals. The key is giving people good information. We can make progress in educating the advanced world about the need to reduce, just for dietary reasons, the amount of meat that people consume at any given meal, particularly if it’s wasted. When you have fresh food, you are less likely to waste it, because it doesn’t last as long – you buy it on the day that you are going to eat it and you use it. We’re seeing businesses in the United States trying to come up with efficient, smart ways in which people can have the convenience of fast food, but with the food being healthier, and as a consequence, less is wasted.
If people feel as if they don’t have control over their lives, or that their children don’t have a good future, then they will resist efforts to deal with climate change because right now they’re concerned about feeding their child. It’s a luxury to worry about climate change; you have to have enough to eat before you start worrying about what’s going to happen to the planet 30 years from now. If we do not pay attention to increasing inequality – and the fact that technology and globalisation are accelerating – there will be a backlash.
Technology is making many sectors of the economy far more capital-intensive and far less labour-intensive. We saw it in manufacturing, but it is now moving through large portions of the service and managerial sectors as well. This is going to be a major problem in the advanced world, and over the long term, in the developing world as well. It’s one of the things I worry about most, because work does not just provide income – it also provides people with a sense of dignity and status in their society. I am certain that in many countries in the Middle East, for example, or in south Asia, part of the problem that leads to radicalisation and conflict is having large numbers of unemployed young men who don’t have anything to do – that lack of meaning and purpose will channel itself in unhealthy ways.
The road ahead: self-driving cars on the brink of a revolution in California Read more The best example of the kinds of issues that we’re going to face comes from driverless cars. Driverless cars are coming. The technologies are here and eventually the regulatory barriers are going to break down. The truth is that we can create a system of driverless cars that are safer, more fuel-efficient, and more convenient. But in the United States alone, there are 3 or 4 million people who make good livings just driving. And where are they going to work, if suddenly trucking and buses no longer need drivers? We have to anticipate those things now.
My guess is that, ultimately, what is going to happen is that everybody is going to have to work a little bit less, and we’re going to have to spread work around more. But that’s going to require a reorganisation of the social compact. That requires that we change our mindset about the link between work, income and the value of people in the teaching profession, or healthcare, or certain things that cannot be done by AI or a robot. And one of my goals as president – one of the goals of every leader of every country right now – was thinking about that time 20 years from now, or 30 years from now, when technology will have eliminated entire sectors of the economy.
How do we prepare for that? How do we start creating, or at least having a conversation in our society about making sure that work and opportunities are spread, and that everybody has the chance to live a good and fulfilling life, rather than having a few people who are working 80 or 90 hours a week, and making enormous incomes, and then a large portion of redundant workers that increasingly have a difficult time supporting families. That’s not a sustainable mechanism for democracy and a healthy society.
The people who know me best would say I have not changed much since I became president. And I’m happy about that. One of the dangers of being in the public eye, being in the spotlight, being in positions of power, is how it will change your soul. There is an expression: you start ‘believing your own hype’ – you start believing that you deserve all the attention. I actually found that I became more humble the longer I was in office. But I also think that I became less fearful. When you are young, you feel like you have something to prove, and sometimes you worry about making mistakes. Once you’ve been president of the United States, then a) you’ve made a mistake every day; b) everybody has seen you fail, and large portions of the country think you’re an idiot – but it’s a liberating feeling when you realise, ‘OK, I’m still here, I still wake up every day, and I still have the opportunity to do some good’, so that as time went on, I got rid of some of the anxieties that come with youth.
When I was president, wherever I’d go, I would always meet with young people. And it would always give me energy and inspiration to see how much talent and sophistication and optimism and idealism existed among young people in the United States, all across Europe, all across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The problem is that so often, young people’s voices aren’t heard, and when they want to get involved in issues, they don’t know how, and they don’t have the tools.
So I and others have been talking about how we can create an effective network of global activists – some of whom are in politics, some of whom are in business, some of whom are in journalism or working for NGOs – and provide them with the tools, the training, the networks, the relationships, the funding, so that they can be even more effective. That’s probably what I’m going to be spending most of the next 10 years on. I have a lot of grey hair now. People always ask me, ‘Oh, Mr President, you know, we need you, we want you to get involved’, and I’m happy to get involved, but the greatest thing I think I can give is to make sure that somebody who is 20 years old, or 21, or 25 – who is ready to make their mark on the world – I can help them, so that they can take it to the next level.
From methane emissions to deforestation, many of the impacts of food production are still not widely enough understood. Photograph: Alamy When I was young, I gave my mother a lot of headaches. I wasn’t always the best student, and I wasn’t always the most responsible young person. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to think about many of the broader issues that the world was facing, but the moment for me in which I started to understand leadership was when I moved to Chicago. I had been inspired by the civil rights movement, and I wanted to be involved in some way in bringing about change. I got a job working with low-income communities, and what I learned was that the mark of a good leader is somebody who is able to empower other people. So often we think of leadership as somebody at the top who is ordering other people around. But it turns out that – for me, at least – what made me understand leadership was when I could see somebody who thought they didn’t have a voice, or that they didn’t have influence or power, and teach them how they could speak up about the things that were affecting their lives.
When we think about issues like food security or climate change, ultimately politicians can help guide policy. But the energy to bring about change is going to come from what people do every day. It’s going to come from parents who are concerned about the kind of impact climate change may have on their children, or from enlightened business people who say: ‘How can we use less energy in producing the products that we are making?’ It’s millions of decisions that are being made individually that end up having as much impact as anything, and that’s certainly true in our democracies.
People have a tendency to blame politicians when things don’t work. But, as I always tell people, you get the politicians you deserve. And if you don’t vote and you don’t participate and you don’t pay attention, then you’ll get policies that don’t reflect your interests.
We have an expression in the United States: ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil.’ It’s certainly true that politicians and governments respond to people making noise and making demands, and sometimes, if certain groups have not been heard before, they have to get the attention of those in power.
But the biggest mistake sometimes made by activists – when I was an activist, sometimes I made this mistake – is forgetting that once you’ve got the attention of the people in power, then you have to engage them. So you have to do your homework and you have to have facts, and you have to be willing to compromise and not expect that you’re going to get 100% of what you want, because – at least if you’re in a democracy – your demands may clash with the demands of someone else. It’s very important to be willing to put pressure on government but it’s also important to propose concrete solutions, to take what you can get and then try to make more progress after that.
The second thing that is increasingly important is how to shape public opinion. It is very important for people who are interested in issues like climate change or inequality, or whatever it is that you care about, to find effective ways to speak to the public and to change public opinion. Abraham Lincoln used to say: ‘With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done.’ And I’ve learned that first-hand myself.
Play VideoPlay Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 1:44 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% FullscreenMute Facebook Twitter Pinterest Michelle Obama attacks Donald Trump for gutting her legacy We need to find ways to speak to young people who are getting all their information off a phone, and will not sit down and read a 50-page report. You may have two minutes to get your message across, or five minutes, and they may be more interested in a video than they are in reading a text. You’ll need to create a strong, truthful, powerful message that leads them to action – that’s something I’m going to be spending a lot of time thinking about.
Young people are more conscious today, they are more innovative, they are more entrepreneurial. Because they are more sceptical of government and politics, it seems as if a lot of people think: ‘That’s a dirty business, I don’t want to go into it, who wants to be criticised and attacked all the time?’ So you’re seeing a lot of people who want to change the world thinking that maybe the best way to do it is by going into business or non-profit organizations.
If I were an entrepreneur today, trying to make money and sell my products or services, I would want to understand this youth market. They want to do the right thing, too. If they find out that what you’re selling isn’t good for the environment, or what you’re selling is not good for people, or if they hear that you do not treat your workers well, and do not pay them a decent wage, and don’t provide decent benefits, that can affect your brand. And so part of what has changed is the nature of the entrepreneurs themselves, who may be more socially conscious, coming into their business. Even if you don’t care about these issues, your customers care. And you’ve got to be paying attention to that.
Adapted from a talk given by Barack Obama at the Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit. Seeds & Chips is one of the world’s foremost food innovation events, a showcase for cutting-edge solutions and outstanding talent. Details: seedsandchips.com"
Thursday, May 25, 2017
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation has declined for now to give the House Oversight Committee documents it had requested regarding communications between former FBI chief James Comey and President Donald Trump, the head of the panel said on Thursday.
The FBI said it was still evaluating the request, which had a committee-set deadline of Wednesday, in light of the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the possibility of collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian officials seeking to influence the 2016 election, according to a letter released by committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz."
UPDATE 2-House panel chairman says FBI declines for now to meet request for Comey-linked documents
A majority of judges on the appeals court, in a 10-3 decision, said they were "unconvinced" the travel order had more to do with national security concerns than a "Muslim ban."
The court also found the challengers were likely to suffer "irreparable harm" if the ban were implemented and that it might violate the U.S. Constitution.
The appeals court maintained the injunction against the travel ban in full. The appeals court was reviewing a March ruling by a Maryland-based federal judge that blocked part of Trump's March 6 executive order barring travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the government put in place stricter visa screening.
A similar ruling against Trump's policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place and the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals court is reviewing that decision."
U.S. appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump's travel ban
"One of the greatest political mysteries of our time is why President Trump has clung — and continues to cling — so steadfastly to the perfidious Michael Flynn.
Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, is at the nexus of Trump’s problems. There was Flynn’s lobbying on behalf of Turkey and his contacts with Russia. There was Trump’s dismissal of all warnings to steer clear of Flynn; his refusal to fire Flynn as soon as he was alerted to the fact that Flynn posed a security risk; his efforts to impede or even terminate the investigations of Flynn.
Not only has Trump staunchly defended Flynn — even after firing him — he is apparently still in contact with him, sending him encouraging messages. As Michael Isikoff reported last week for Yahoo News about a dinner Flynn convened with ‘a small group of loyalists’:
Not only did he remain loyal to President Trump; he indicated that he and the president were still in communication. ‘I just got a message from the president to stay strong,’ Flynn said after the meal was over, according to two sources who are close to Flynn and are familiar with the conversation, which took place on April 25.
This level of extreme fealty is puzzling. It extends beyond basic loyalty to an early supporter. It seems to me that there is something else at play here, something as yet unknown. Trump’s attachment to Flynn strikes me less as an act of fidelity and more as an exercise in fear. What does Flynn know that Trump doesn’t want the world to know?
What are the dirty details of what could only be called The Flynn Affair?
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who served as head of the Trump transition team before being brushed aside for Vice President Mike Pence, said he warned Trump about Flynn. As Christie said earlier this week: ‘I didn’t think that he was someone who would bring benefit to the president or to the administration, and I made that very clear to candidate Trump, and I made it very clear to President-elect Trump.’
Charles M. Blow Politics, public opinion and social justice. Blood in the Water MAY 22 Trump’s Madness Invites Mutiny MAY 15 Trump Is Insulting Our Intelligence MAY 10 Republican Death Wish MAY 8 Senators Save the Empire MAY 4 See More »
Christie continued: ‘If I were president-elect of the United States, I wouldn’t let General Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job.’
Trump apparently ignored the warning.
Barack Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn. As The New York Times reported earlier this month:
Mr. Obama, who had fired Mr. Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Mr. Trump that he would have profound concerns about Mr. Flynn becoming a top national security aide, said the administration officials, who were briefed on the Oval Office conversation. Mr. Trump later ignored the advice, naming Mr. Flynn to be his national security adviser.
Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general, warned Trump about Flynn. As The Times reported earlier this month, when she delivered mesmerizing testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Yates informed the White House, less than a week into the Trump administration, that Flynn had lied to Pence about his Russian contacts and was vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.
As Yates put it, ‘To state the obvious: You don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.’
Trump again ignored the warning.
Eighteen days passed. Then, on Monday, Feb. 13, The Washington Post reported that Yates had warned Trump about Flynn, a warning the White House had kept secret.
That night, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Trump requested Flynn’s resignation, with Spicer saying the following day:
‘The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation in a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.’
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As White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on television that Tuesday morning, ‘It was misleading the vice president that made the situation unsustainable.’
In fact, it appeared that it was Trump being embarrassed by press reports that he had been warned of Flynn’s treachery and had done nothing with the information that led to Flynn’s ultimate resignation.
In Trump’s mind, this was all the fault of the press, not Flynn’s double-dealing or the president’s own faulty vetting and subsequent inaction. In a news conference the day after Spicer described Flynn’s departure, Trump said of Flynn, ‘I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media — as I call it, the fake media, in many cases.’ Trump continued, ‘I think it’s really a sad thing he was treated so badly.’
The day after Flynn was forced out his job, Trump told the former F.B.I. director, James Comey, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,’ according to contemporaneous notes written by Comey, referring to a meeting in which Trump asked Comey to lay off the federal investigation of Flynn.
Comey wouldn’t let it go, and Trump would later fire him and reportedly brag about it to Russians in the Oval Office a day later: ‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job.’ Trump continued, ‘I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.’
Now, all the hoops Trump has jumped through to hire, keep and protect Flynn may lead to Trump’s undoing. The question of whether Trump’s actions amount to obstruction of justice is very real. The White House Counsel’s Office is researching impeachment. This week Trump retained Marc Kasowitz as outside counsel for his impending legal problems. This is going to get ugly.
So the question not only remains, but is amplified in this light: What about Flynn is worth all this? Why continue to stick by someone who seems to have so clearly been in the wrong and is causing you such woes?
1 COMMENT Does Flynn have knowledge of something so damaging that it keeps Trump crouched in his defense? This is the question that ongoing investigations must answer, particularly the investigation now led by the Justice Department’s newly appointed special counsel, Robert Mueller.
It’s time to lay bare this fishy bromance and come to know the full breadth of Flynn’s furtive activities and whether Trump was aware or complicit, before, during or after. Kick back America; it’s Mueller time."
Fox News crew ‘watched in disbelief’ as Montana’s Greg Gianforte ‘slammed’ and ‘began punching’ reporter - The Washington Post
"A Fox News reporter provided a vivid eyewitness account late Wednesday of an attack on a reporter by Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte that led to him being cited for assault by the county sheriff and to lose his endorsements from two Montana newspapers ahead of the special election set for Thursday.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Republican candidate 'body-slams' Guardian reporter in Montana Audio obtained of Greg Gianforte attacking a reporter on the eve of a special election to fill a congressional seat vacated by a member of the Trump administration. Greg Gianforte Assaults Reporter- video
"WASHINGTON — American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.
The conversations focused on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at the time, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired general who was advising Mr. Trump, the officials said. Both men had indirect ties to Russian officials, who appeared confident that each could be used to help shape Mr. Trump’s opinions on Russia.
Some Russians boasted about how well they knew Mr. Flynn. Others discussed leveraging their ties to Viktor F. Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine living in exile in Russia, who at one time had worked closely with Mr. Manafort.
The intelligence was among the clues — which also included information about direct communications between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Russian officials — that American officials received last year as they began investigating Russian attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates were assisting Moscow in the effort. Details of the conversations, some of which have not been previously reported, add to an increasing understanding of the alarm inside the American government last year about the Russian disruption campaign.
The information collected last summer was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass to the F.B.I., which during that period opened a counterintelligence investigation that is continuing. It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn. Both have denied any collusion with the Russian government on the campaign to disrupt the election.
John O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., testified Tuesday about a tense period last year when he came to believe that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was trying to steer the outcome of the election. He said he saw intelligence suggesting that Russia wanted to use Trump campaign officials, wittingly or not, to help in that effort. He spoke vaguely about contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials, without giving names, saying they “raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”
Whether the Russians worked directly with any Trump advisers is one of the central questions that federal investigators, now led by Robert S. Mueller III, the newly appointed special counsel, are seeking to answer. President Trump, for his part, has dismissed talk of Russian interference in the election as “fake news,” insisting there was no contact between his campaign and Russian officials.
The White House, F.B.I. and C.I.A. declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Mr. Manafort. Mr. Flynn’s lawyer did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The current and former officials agreed to discuss the intelligence only on the condition of anonymity because much of it remains highly classified, and they could be prosecuted for disclosing it."
Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer - The New York Times
Here is the legal analysis. Congress and the independent prosecutor need to work together.
"...Mr. Flynn’s lawyer earlier sought a grant of immunity in exchange for his client’s testimony, but that request has been refused so far. Congress learned a hard lesson when Oliver North received immunity to testify at the Iran-contra hearings, which eventually led to the dismissal of his convictions because the immunized testimony poisoned the government’s case against him.
Unlike his declining to testify, Mr. Flynn’s refusal to provide the documents involves a more obscure protection afforded to individuals by the Fifth Amendment subpoenaed for personal records.
The privilege against self-incrimination does not independently protect the content of documents, so one cannot refuse to turn them over just because they might be incriminating. The Supreme Court’s decision in 1976 in Fisher v. United States explained that it was “clear that the Fifth Amendment does not independently proscribe the compelled production of every sort of incriminating evidence, but applies only when the accused is compelled to make a testimonial communication that is incriminating.”
But that does not mean records must always be provided in response to a subpoena. The court went on to explain that while the records themselves do not come within the protection of the Fifth Amendment, the act of turning them over may communicate information about their existence, possession and the authenticity of the documents. Known as the “act of production,” the Fisher case permits a defendant to refuse to turn over records if doing so would communicate information to the government that it did not already have.
In Mr. Flynn’s case, acknowledging that he has records related to contacts with the Russian government may be incriminating because his response to the subpoena could be used to establish his knowledge of their contents and prevent him from denying his connection to the transactions described in them. Thus, his act of producing documents could incriminate him, so he can refuse to turn them over to the Intelligence Committee.
That is not the end of the analysis, however, because there are three ways in which the government could still obtain the records — but none are particularly appealing.
First, the Fisher decision contains an important caveat to the availability of the Fifth Amendment to avoid producing documents. If the government can show their existence, possession and authenticity is a “foregone conclusion” so that investigators will not learn anything valuable from the act of production, then the privilege against self-incrimination dissipates and the records must be produced.
This is often a difficult standard to meet and the burden would be on the government to show it knew what records Mr. Flynn had in his possession and that they were authentic. Absent that proof when the subpoena was issued, he can then assert the Fifth Amendment to refuse to turn them over.
A second means to obtain records would be for Congress to ask the Justice Department to authorize immunity for the act of production, which would overcome the privilege against self-incrimination and require Mr. Flynn to turn the records over.
But that is perilous, as the prosecution of Webb Hubbell, the former associate attorney general, showed. Immunity covers not just actual use of the records produced pursuant to a subpoena, but also any “derivative” information gained from them.
After Mr. Hubbell pleaded guilty in 1994 to mail fraud and tax charges for overbilling clients in his private practice, the independent counsel investigating President Clinton subpoenaed additional records from him to see if he was being paid to remain silent about possible misconduct in the Whitewater matter.
When he asserted the Fifth Amendment in response, the independent counsel granted him immunity from prosecution so that he would have to turn over about 13,000 pages of records. He was subsequently charged a second time with mail fraud and tax violations.
The Supreme Court determined in United States v. Hubbell that any evidence traceable to those documents violated the protections afforded by the grant of immunity, which puts a witness in the same position as if the person refused to provide any information. The court upheld the dismissal of tax and fraud charges against Mr. Hubbell, finding that “the documents did not magically appear in the prosecutor’s office like manna from heaven.”
Mr. Mueller is sure to oppose any request to grant immunity to Mr. Flynn to compel him to produce his records because it may effectively insulate him from any criminal charge, depriving his investigation of any leverage it might have to get him to cooperate.
A third way to get the records would be for the Justice Department to obtain a search warrant, because the Fifth Amendment does not apply when the government seizes records pursuant to a warrant. But that is not an easy avenue; prosecutors would have to show there is probable cause the evidence relates to a crime and they have a reasonable basis about where the records are kept.
Congress cannot obtain a search warrant, only the Justice Department can. Mr. Mueller’s investigation is just beginning, so seeking a search warrant for Mr. Flynn’s records is unlikely at this early stage.
Congress could threaten to seek a contempt order for Mr. Flynn for his failure to comply with the subpoena, but that is unlikely to result in the production of any records. Moreover, that threat may be hollow because it would require the Justice Department to take the case before a Federal District Court judge, something prosecutors have been reluctant to do when the refusal is based on the Fifth Amendment..."
Fifth Amendment Makes it Hard to Build a Case Against Flynn - The New York Times
Brookhaven Monument To Memorialize 'Comfort Women' - Brookhaven, GA Patch. Yes, my progressive city will memorialize these victims of sex slavery during WWII. The cowardice of City of Atlanta officials who backed down in face of opposition from the Japanese consulate is disgusting. I love living in Brookhaven.
"BROOKHAVEN, GA -- A monument that draws attention to one of the ugliest chapters of colonial rule in the Pacific is being erected in Brookhaven, the city announced Tuesday.
From 1910 to 1945, the systematic raping of South Korean women by Japanese soldiers in wartime brothels was commonplace, representing the longest and most painful saga of sex trafficking in modern times.
The plight of the former sex slaves, dubbed 'Comfort Women' by the soldiers back then, has been a point of contention between Japan and South Korea for decades as a a dwindling number of the women (a little more than three dozen are still alive) continue to agitate the Japanese government for appropriate recognition and reparations.
In a unanimous vote, the Brookhaven City Council approved plans to build a memorial for the 'Comfort Women' to raise awareness of the injustice and depravity of the global human sex trade. Brookhaven's statue, named Young Girl’s Statue for Peace, will show that the city, a quarter of whose residents are foreign-born, is in solidarity with the women and against sex trafficking across the world.
‘We are grateful for the courage, passion and commitment of the city officials of Brookhaven,’ Baik Kyu Kim, the Chair of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, said in a news release. ‘It is our hope that this beautiful statue will bring much healing, peace and hope.’
Brookhaven is the first city in Georgia and the Deep South to publicly commemorate the cause of the comfort women."
Joe: ‘This is a whole lot of dumb’ Joe connects the dots on the Russia investigation, saying while some people see the President as evil, he just sees someone who’s clueless; ‘he’s like Mr. Magoo trying to shred the U.S. constitution.’ I think Trump is both evil and dumb. Morning Joe - Joe Scarbor
"Trump Budget Proposes Cuts From Safety Net He Promised to Protect 1:34
Yet deep cuts to many aspects of the American safety net indicate otherwise.
Here's where the president's proposal breaks his promises — and at times his own self-proposed contract — to voters.
#1: Trump vowed not to cut Medicaid
Trump's budget would cut Medicaid by a lot, despite the president telling the Daily Signal days before launching his White House bid, "I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid."
The administration proposes reducing spending on Medicaid programs by more than $600 billion over the next decade, a massive cut that appears to go on top of $839 billion in Medicaid cuts included in the House health care bill Trump is supporting.
Mulvaney insists that the proposed reduction in spending isn't a cut — it's simply growing less than the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects the needs of the program to be.
"There are no Medicaid cuts in terms of what normal human beings would call cuts, we are not spending less money than we did the year before," Mulvaney said.
#2: Trump said he wouldn't cut Social Security
Trump's budget proposes slashing the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a $31.4 billion change to the program that pays monthly benefits to over 10 million disabled individuals under the retirement age.
Mulvaney argued that SSDI isn't "what most people would consider to be Social Security" and said he would "hope" less people receive the program once they remove individuals who "should not" be getting it. It's unclear how the administration determined there is that much fraud in the system.
#3: Trump said he'd fully fund the border wall
The president promised to fully fund a border wall, with plans to make Mexico pay for it later, in his "Contract With the American Voter." The president's budget would allocate $2.6 billion for planning, designing, and constructing the border wall and its surrounding securities, but Republican leaders estimate the wall could cost as much as $15 billion.
"While we did not get as much money as we wanted for 2017 omnibus we did get a lot," Mulvaney said. "We are going to continue to press on."
#4: Trump promised to cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities
This is another contract promise. Trump's administration has tried to restrict funding to so-called "sanctuary" cities — jurisdiction that don't enforce federal immigration priorities and cooperate fully with federal authorities — but their efforts were halted by the courts.
This budget doesn't include any kind of limit on federal funding, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions narrowed the scope of Trump's executive order on the issue in a memo Monday.
#5: Trump said he would increase funding for treatment of PTSD
Trump's budget would increase funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the budget proposal doesn't appear to focus money on PTSD or mental health issues.
It would, however, slash $3.2 billion from the "individual unemployability" benefit, which the budget says will be "modernized." The program allows the VA to more fully compensate disabled veterans, including those with PTSD, whose disability renders them unemployable.
#6: Trump told police union leaders he'd find more funding for training
Trump promised resources for training in his voter contract, as well. This budget aims to increase funding for more border agents and immigration judges, increased immigrant detentions, and fighting the opioid crisis, but it does not earmark additional funds for training police.
#7: Trump promised to bring down the debt "fairly quickly"
Barring the kind of hyperbolic growth Trump has promised and economists have disputed, Trump's budget would do little to combat the national debt. Rather, it would potentially increase it.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Donald Trump's Budget Breaks These 7 Campaign Promises - NBC News
Watergate prosecutor: Trump actions are illegal Jill Wine-Banks says President Trump has showed the corrupt intent necessary to prove obstruction of justice - just like Richard Nixon. All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Racism as American as Sweet Potato pie. My elementary school teachers used to describe me, in front of my face, as the "Negro school who reads so well".
"A trove of documents created during a federal investigation into Princeton University offers an unprecedented glimpse at how elite college admissions officers talk about race.
Outsiders have long debated how the secretive Ivy League admissions system considers the race of its applicants. Within the schools, such discussions form one of the most closely guarded elements of a process that has remained remarkably opaque for decades.
But documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show Princeton’s admissions officers repeatedly wrote of Asian-American applicants as being difficult to differentiate, referring to them dismissively as having “very familiar profiles,” calling them “standard premeds,” or “difficult to pluck out.” The comments were noted by civil rights investigators at the Education Department as they probed allegations of racial bias in the school’s admissions system.
Of a Hispanic applicant, an admissions officer wrote, “Tough to see putting her ahead of others. No cultural flavor in app.” Of a black student, another said, “Very few African Americans with verbal scores like this.
The documents highlight the tricky, perhaps impossible, legal tightrope that elite colleges must walk as they choose the lucky few they will accept each year. The schools want to select a racially diverse student body, but they cannot accept or reject applicants based primarily on their race. And they cannot set quotas for the number of students from a particular race who are admitted, even as the goal of a diverse student body essentially requires it.
At times, the documents show, admissions officers twist themselves into bizarre knots as they consider — and dance around — the issue of applicants’ race. “Were there a touch more cultural flavor I'd be more enthusiastic,” one officer wrote of a native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
The comments were unearthed by government investigators after two Asian-American students who had been rejected by the school complained of racial discrimination. In 2008, the Education Department began an investigation into the matter, collecting reams of detailed information on 539 individual applicants, probing how and why admissions officers decided who to admit.
In interviews with the Education Department, Princeton admissions officers who wrote the comments denied that they were comparing groups of applicants by race. Remarks that Asian-Americans fit a “familiar profile,” officers repeatedly told investigators, were not related to racial stereotypes, but résumés that were similar to other students.
An admissions officer who wrote “Not many Native Americans with scores like this” of one candidate told investigators they had been speaking only of broad, national trends, not comparing Native American applicants among one another.
The department's investigation ultimately backed this up, concluding that “at no point in time during the admissions process were ... applicants of any other racial group separated out to be compared specifically to other applicants of their same racial group." The investigators concluded that Princeton did not discriminate based on race or judge candidates solely by their race, instead using it as one piece in a broader picture of applicants.
Admissions officers had made comments "associated with Asian stereotypes," the investigators wrote, but they made similar comments about white and other minority applicants.
An investigator questioned an admissions officer after an Asian-American student was described eagerly by a another officer as a “first-generation Chinese student whose own life has not been easy, trying to make the lives of others better through service. One of the best we’ll ever see from [high school].”
The second officer was less enthusiastic. “Perfectly able and appealing,” the officer wrote. “Very familiar profile.”
"Bright premed, but like many others," another admissions officer wrote of an Asian-American applicant.
BuzzFeed News obtained a number of documents from the investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request. Princeton has sued the Education Department to prevent the release of many more, in a suit that involves an anti-affirmative action group, Students for Fair Admissions.
The files released show that in brief summaries meant to present applicants to a committee, officers candidly discussed the race of black, Latino, and Native American applicants, often seemingly searching for those who highlighted their racial backgrounds rather than checking off boxes on their Common Applications.
"Nice essays, sweet personality," one admissions officer said of a multiracial applicant. "Bi-racial but not [National Hispanic Recognition Program] and no recognition of her [background] in app by anyone." The National Hispanic Recognition Program recognizes high-performing students who are "at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino.”
When one reader called an applicant's Native American heritage "appealing," the other noted that the only place the boy had mentioned the heritage was in a checkbox on his Common Application. He called himself "a white boy," the admissions officer noted.
The interviews do not show the same pattern with Princeton's Asian-American applicants. Admissions officers were only asked once about a time when they explicitly mentioned an applicant's Asian background as a positive — a half-Korean, half-Hispanic applicant that the officer called a "neat blend."
Asians With “Very Familiar Profiles”: How Princeton’s Admissions Officers Talk About Race
"Army Major Danny Sjursen, who grew up in Midland Beach, shares his research and reflections in a report that's intended to get Staten Islanders talking. Read Advance editor Brian J. Laline's introduction here. And comment on this report when you're done reading. (Sjursen will will engage in the comments Monday at 2:30 p.m.) Sjursen wishes to make it clear that the views expressed here are his alone, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
By Major Danny Sjursen, U.S. Army
November 2014. I watch with my students -- 16 West Point cadets -- as Eric Garner chokes to death in a grainy YouTube video. It all rushes back. See, I grew up in it -- a lower-middle-class white kid on the borderlands of Staten Island's East Shore. Wedged between, yet wholly apart from, the affluent, hyper-Caucasian South Shore and denser African-American enclaves to the northeast, Mid-Island kids gained some unique perspective.
We learned the ropes fast: Stick with your buddies and beware of the "other" (read: Puerto Rican) side of Midland Avenue.
The irony, of course, is we had plenty of problems on "our" side of the avenue. South Shore residents considered Midland Beach a "white trash" haven -- drugs marred the neighborhood and robbed my mother of two brothers. But on "our" side of town, see, we labeled petty offenders or addicts as characters, not criminals like the neighborhood Hispanics and North Shore blacks. Language is a peculiar, powerful device, delineating boundaries and partitioning the populace.
High school meant new lessons: Take heed of black teens riding the train in red hoodies -- probably Bloods gang members.
Purchasing one's first car brought a warning: Stay off Jersey Street and blow through the traffic light at Targee and Vanderbilt Avenue.
The message was clear. Play it safe and look out for minority communities in New Brighton and Park Hill. Subtle rules shaped our generational paradox. We were proud of the Island's own Wu-Tang Clan, yet wary of minorities in our midst -- blacks and Hispanics lost in segregated corners of a forgotten borough.
East Shore neighborhoods reflected the whole -- a radicalized geography in microcosm. And nothing so starkly polarizes the city like allegations of police brutality.
Tragedy strikes and we often race to familiar battle stations. North Shore minorities (and most of the city) rally to the victim, while the vast majority of South Shore whites vehemently defend the police and some, taking it a step further, attack African-Americans, activists writ large.
Consider the coded (and not-so-coded) language posted in Staten Island Advance online comments during a protest of the Garner grand jury decision held on the Staten Island Expressway.
"Let the people who pay for your government cheese and welfare checks get through so they can get to work -- so in turn you can continue to protest and not work." Or: "It's over! Law & order won. Now go home and start being respectful if the police ever stop you. Better yet, don't do anything that would give them reason to stop you."
Multiply these by a few thousand to get a sense of the intense backlash so pervasive in many corners of the borough.
THE BACKSTORY MATTERS
Lost in these seemingly age-old disputes, as in most political conversation, is even the barest sense of historical context. A few unanswered questions linger. Why did the police choke Garner on that North Shore street corner? Why were blacks incensed and whites unmoved?
The backstory matters.
Consider this: If slavery is America's original sin and wrought contemporary social strife, perhaps Staten Island's lengthy and determined history of racial segregation set the stage for Eric Garner's death.
The borough's relative lack of integration is hardly deniable: Though the Island remains about 60 percent white, more than 61 percent of African-Americans live in districts where blacks and Hispanics make up a hefty majority.
Over 65 percent of blacks also live in neighborhoods with greater than 50 percent of the population classified as low-to-moderate income. Minorities cluster in several hypersegregated census tracts in West Brighton (53 percent black, 5 percent white), Mariners Harbor (54 percent black, 7 percent white) and Stapleton (47 percent black, 7 percent white).
Driving 15 minutes south reveals a contrasting community fabric. You can hardly find an African-American in Annadale (0.2 percent), Prince's Bay (0.2 percent) or Eltingville (0.1 percent) -- where, incidentally, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who choked Garner, resided.
Segregation does not -- and never did -- reflect mere personal preference. A confluence of individual, community and government decisions deliberately shaped an explicit racial housing pattern for Staten Island.
This isn't ancient history, either. Most of the story unfolded in the decades following the 1964 opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Despite boasting the United States' oldest free-black settlement, few minorities (about 4 percent) called Staten Island home by 1960.
That suited most residents just fine. Lacking a physical connection to the rest of New York City, the borough remained a curious hybrid -- at once rural, suburban and urban -- well into the 20th century.
"Native" Islanders crafted, and still propagate, the myth of a bucolic pre-Verrazano utopia, but in actuality 220,000 people lived here in 1960. That was more than Nashville, Tenn.; Charlotte, N.C.; or San Jose, Calif.
Nonetheless, for years Staten Islanders fretfully lived in the shadow of the Verrazano's looming construction. Many feared the impending change, afraid of crowds, apartment houses, crime and ... "Negroes."
Hundreds of local newspaper articles in the 1960s and '70s decried the influx of migrants from the "other" boroughs.
Naturally, many natives condemned black and white newcomers alike, but only African-Americans faced a multifaceted, systemic process of residential discrimination.
During debates over the comprehensive rezoning resolution from 1960 to 1961, South Shore community organizations doggedly battled the city planning commission to exclusively zone their neighborhoods for detached homes on 40- to 60-foot lots.
Nearly every civic organization fought, successfully, to prohibit attached structures, apartment buildings or any low-cost housing on the vast vacant tracts of -- largely city-owned -- land. With few in positions of power willing to lobby on behalf of impoverished minority communities, tedious and seemingly innocuous zoning maps converted Staten Island's oldest and densest North Shore districts into segregated prisons.
Blacks received no aid from fellow -- mostly Italian and Irish -- migrants, since many whites left other boroughs seeking refuge from minorities.
WHITE FAMILIES FILL SOUTH SHORE
Meanwhile, middle- and lower-middle-class white families filled up and enjoyed the immense expanse of the suburban South Shore.
Every public housing project completed after 1960 stood north of the expressway, even though the first three of four complexes (constructed from 1950 to 1954) were to the south.
In 1967, when city officials proposed a planned low- to medium-priced apartment community in the seemingly limitless acres of the Annadale neighborhood, the natives quickly balked. One builder bluntly summed up the locals' obstinacy: "Let's be honest. To them (apartments) means Negroes."
Thus, thousands of blacks and Hispanics seeking tranquility were instead corralled in duplicate ghettos -- Bronx facsimiles in neglected corners of Staten Island.
Should the rare family attempt to buy (and could afford) a Staten Island home, real estate agents regularly steered blacks to the older, densely populated and economically depressed northern sections.
Numerous federal and city housing audits confirmed this pervasive pattern of real estate bias throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Agents showed African-Americans only the houses in existing (North Shore) minority enclaves -- and even then, often jacked up down payments by 15 to 20 percent.
Unsurprisingly, these neighborhoods were situated adjacent to the recently padlocked factories and idle piers of one-time manufacturing centers in Stapleton and Mariners Harbor.
A perfect storm of inherited poverty, de-industrialization, plus pervasive housing and employment bias burdened blacks across the United States, but hit particularly hard on Staten Island. Relegated to the least desirable -- and economically destitute -- communities, most newcomers lacked the requisite education or skill set to transition into an increasingly professional, service-oriented economy.
The very industrial jobs -- of which there were once 12,200, or one-sixth, of the borough's workforce -- that had served as a catalyst for the upward mobility of white native Islanders moved south, to New Jersey or overseas, in the intervening decades.
Thus, reliable, blue-collar jobs were unavailable or denied (last hired, first fired) to blacks. African-Americans stagnated in impoverished districts of overcrowded, subpar schools and consequently social mobility opportunities dissipated.
NO ISOLATED INCIDENTS
White citizens' frequent violent outbursts -- which drew far more attention than black-on-white attacks -- enforced the boundaries of Staten Island's racial geography. Whether perpetrated by police officers or private citizens, such skirmishes reflected twin features of borough society -- a casual culture of prejudice and strict separation of racial spheres.
In April 1972, unknown assailants set fire to a New Dorp home the day before the new black family's scheduled move-in date, an attack the City Commission on Human Rights labeled "arson and terrorism."
August of the same year brought more tragedy when a police officer shot in the back and killed an unarmed, black 11-year-old in New Brighton as the boy allegedly fled in a stolen car. Although unclear exactly how many shots the officer fired, the body count was unmistakable -- one dead 11-year-old and both his companions wounded along with two bystanders on a nearby stoop.
That's five gunshot victims on account of a nonviolent crime. Months later, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the officers involved. Sound familiar?
The '80s ushered in a wave of racial incidents at New Dorp High School. In 1980, on the heels of a limited integration effort -- 85 percent of the student body remained white -- a "race riot" broke out so severe that outnumbered black students hastily evacuated in buses. White teens gave chase, hurling stones and racial slurs. Administrators temporarily shuttered the school and it was several days before black students could return.
Three years later, 15 white teenagers confronted Brooklyn students at a middle school picnic on nearby Miller Field.
"This park's for whites only," someone yelled.
"Go back where you belong," another cried.
With bottles tossed and punches thrown, a lone teacher waved a bat, desperately attempting to shield his students. Ultimately, police escorted the students out of the area in new school buses (theirs were littered with broken glass).
Interviewed later, one New Dorp store owner proudly defended the attack.
"We've got a neighborhood to protect," he declared. A teen outside the store chimed in: "You let in one colored, and you gotta let in a thousand!"
In 1985, 30 white teenagers stashed bats and tire irons in bushes near the bus route of black students headed south to New Dorp High. Although the targeted teen was not, in fact, on board, the frenzied youths smashed the bus windows and struggled to pry open the bus door, screaming, "Open the door so we can get that nigger!"
Check the archives. These were no isolated incidents, but rather a systemic and familiar pattern of racial violence spanning several decades. Nor are such attacks relics of a cruel, distant past.
On Labor Day 2003, white teens attacked a young black woman from New Jersey in a Great Kills park. Neighborhood kids yelled racial epithets, a verbal confrontation ensued and a white girl punched the black college student in the jaw. Two of the woman's friends were seriously injured by the Great Kills crew -- one cut with a sickle and another slashed with a knife (requiring 17 stitches).
Later, the NYPD suspended two officers who were found to have discouraged the victims from filing a complaint.
Or, think back to Election Night 2008, during which four white teens viciously beat a random Liberian immigrant with a steel pipe, landing the victim in a coma for several weeks.
Or just a year earlier when four white men screamed racial epithets as they brutally thrashed a young black man for allegedly jumping on their parked car.
THE INNOCENT CHILDREN
Tragically, innocent children bear the brunt of racial and class segregation. Take the awkward, yet formative, middle school years. Blacks and Hispanics comprise 70 percent of the student body at Intermediate School 51 (Port Richmond), 75 percent at I.S. 49 (Clifton) and 77 percent at I.S. 61 (New Brighton).
Drive half a dozen miles south -- or less -- and blacks are 2 percent at I.S. 75 (Huguenot) and an astonishing 0 percent at both I.S. 7 (Huguenot) and I.S. 34 (Tottenville). It should come as little surprise that students at I.S. 7 performed fully 30 percentage points over the city average on state math and English assessments while children at I.S. 49 scored 15 percentage points below the city average.
Separation matters. Sixty years later, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education still resonates:
"Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. ... A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. ... (It), therefore, has a tendency to (retard) the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system."
Why should it matter whether segregation is "official" -- written in law -- or "de facto" -- caused by injudicious policy and apathy -- when the effects on blameless children are the same?
A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS
Why, then, was it Eric Garner the detectives approached on that day? To broaden the point a bit, why did police stop a black man in the northeast corner of the Island?
Furthermore, why all the alarm -- and repeated police encounters -- regarding Garner's alleged sale of loose cigarettes?
Check the research: Whites and blacks use and distribute drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact, Staten Island is quite representative. Though still the whitest borough, it has led the city in opioid (including heroin) overdoses over the past several years.
Probably owing to irresponsible minorities in North Shore housing projects, right? Hardly: In 2013, 32 of 34 heroin overdose victims were white.
The Island's south and whitest shore faces a veritable heroin pandemic. The Great Kills neighborhood (90 percent white, 0.3 percent black) is particularly hard-hit. The South Shore actually leads the newest borough drug crisis, but you wouldn't know it from the way the NYPD polices the Island.
Annually, from 2000 to 2009, the North Shore's 120th Precinct made an average of 775 felony drug arrests -- 14 times the average in the South Shore's 123rd Precinct -- and higher than the notorious 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn's Brownsville section.
Such disparate arrest statistics derive from outrageously uneven -- and recently discarded -- "stop and frisk" procedures in Staten Island's communities. "Stop and frisk" required little to no probable cause and left much to the discretion (and biases) of individual officers.
In the second quarter of 2013, the North Shore's 120th Precinct clocked in at an astounding 1,245 stops. That's four times the rate of the South Shore's 123rd Precinct (despite comparable populations), and way more than Brownsville's historically violent 73rd Precinct.
Among those stopped on the North Shore, 64 percent were black, 22 percent Hispanic and just 13 percent white -- this within a precinct population that is 40 percent white and just 22 percent black overall.
Lest one conclude that Staten Island blacks are disproportionately predisposed to crime, of the 75 suspects arrested -- just 6 percent of those frisked -- 23 percent were white.
Additionally, even with a highly white (85 percent) and token black (1 percent) population that they serve, police in the 123rd Precinct stopped African-Americans at four times the statistically appropriate rate. Worse still, the top two reasons for North Shore stops included "furtive movements" (50 percent) and "fits a relevant description" (24 percent) -- hardly explicit justifications.
Beyond the aggravating inconvenience of repeated stops, racial disparity in neighborhood policing has real, often tragic, consequences. More stops mean more arrests, usually for minor drug-possession offenses, which translates to disproportional incarceration rates.
Things spiral downward from there. A felony conviction translates to fewer employment opportunities, eviction from public housing, disqualification from government benefits and a lasting social stigma.
The stats astound. On the Northwest Shore, in the Mariners Harbor section, 77 percent of the population is black or Hispanic. In this remote corner of the Island, the prison admissions rate is 13 times higher than in Great Kills -- the very neighborhood most plagued by the South Shore heroin epidemic.
If the South Shore is battling heroin use and abuse, then why the utter lack of street-level stop-and-frisk in those neighborhoods? Easy. Most Island police live down there. So do their friends, neighbors, relatives and other "respectable" middle-class white people.
Imagine the public outcry in Great Kills or Annadale if police officers used the same aggressive, war-on-drugs, "stop-and-frisk tactics" against a few thousand white teenagers.
Most of the Island's wealth is in the South. So is political power (two-thirds of City Council districts are south of the expressway). And the North Shore selected its first-ever black elected official in 2009!
It's simple: Different policing produces different, usually inequitable, outcomes. This, in turn, creates powerful, lasting cultural stigmas that many Island residents still live with.
THE TRUTH DISCOMFITS
We are all, in a sense, prisoners of the borough's very old and quite deliberate racial geography.
Staten Island's spatial inequality triggers a stark racial mapping in the imagination. Perhaps this explains the offhand, if veiled, racial language we all learned while growing up.
Where did most blacks live on the Island? North of the "Mason-Dixon line" (the Staten Island Expressway).
Which housing projects were most dangerous? "Crack Hill," of course (the Park Hill Apartments).
What's the "bad" side of Midland Avenue? Easy: the Puerto Rican side.
It's but a short walk from these potent cultural constructs to biased, unjust public policy. In 2011, a Staten Island police officer pleaded guilty to charges of falsely arresting a black Stapleton man and bragged to a female friend about how he'd "fried another nigger."
In a leniency plea addressed to his federal district judge, the officer claimed that he "did not use that word out of a racist motivation, but, instead, as part of the culture that I was accustomed to." Language reflects culture, exudes meaning and exerts power.
The enforcement of racial hierarchy, contrary to popular imagination, does not require overt, Jim Crow-era decrees. The absence of "whites only" signs on public drinking fountains did not preclude construction of a complex, subtle and highly pervasive system of racial -- and spatial -- caste in Staten Island.
Notably, this mostly occurred after the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Most citizens (even in my own family) fervently deny the very existence of such arrangements and, quite frankly, get anxious at the very suggestion.
But the truth discomfits -- perhaps it is well that it does -- and requires this admission: There's nothing accidental or inevitable about pervasive racial segregation.
The present was not preordained. Neither is our future. Human beings -- grass-roots citizens' councils, local power brokers, city bureaucrats and cranky curmudgeons -- made millions of decisions that erected a system of racial geography on Staten Island.
Like it or not, we avoid the historical context of local -- and national -- problems at our peril.
"Blissful" ignorance satisfies our natural desire for clear, simple solutions and obviates collective responsibility for an untidy past, but we'll find no wisdom in expediency.
Erecting a structure of systemic repression demands a subtraction of context. Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance. Rejecting one-dimensional analyses and considering the long game leads to an unnerving conclusion:
Eric Garner died because he was the wrong color, standing on the wrong corner, on the wrong side of Staten Island.
Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. A native of Staten Island, he graduated from West Point and served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned his master's degree in history from the University of Kansas and is working on his Ph.D. in civil rights in New York City. His recent book, a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War titled "Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge," was released by University Press of New England in October 2015. He lives with his wife and three sons in Fort Leavenworth, Kan."
Disturbing, deep-rooted patterns in Staten Island's racial geography