Monday, January 16, 2017

PROGRESS IN RACE RELATION IN THE U.S.


In spite of many examples to the contrary, (e.g. Dylan Roof, the white nationalist movement)  the nation, including the South, has made progress improving race relations and rejecting white supremacy. How many would have thought we would have a black president in 2008?
"For now, history will not be made in Washington with America's first female president. But, here in Texas, we have quietly made history this month swearing in the state's first African American female sheriff.
Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens took her oath in front of a packed audience in Beaumont, where she promised to get back to the basics of law enforcement with greater transparency and community engagement. Stephens spoke of being humbled by all the support, describing her November win as a team effort. "Our community made history," she said."

However, it was not always smooth.
"In February, Stephens' campaign headquarters were sprayed with gunfire by a man shouting racial slurs. Fortunately, none of the volunteers inside were hit or injured. Stephens never missed a beat, demonstrating why good cops deserve respect and more police departments could use womanpower.   
In 2015, only 11 percent of licensed police officers in Texas were women. Of the 254 counties in Texas, more than 50 do not employ any female deputies. Stephens is now one of only two black women in America to hold the job of sheriff. Yet, she does not concern herself much with the record books or her admission into a very impressive brotherhood of peace officers. (That includes Walter Moses Burton, who, in 1869, was elected the first black sheriff in Texas by the voters of Fort Bend County.)"
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/01/13/first-african-american-female-sheriff-woman-enough-fill-big-boots

FEDERAL REFORM OF POLICE


When the media talk about federal intervention to deal with police abuses, they are almost always, if not always, talking about settlements of federal pattern and practice lawsuits or actual implementations following a ruling against the police (see below).
“Looking to the federal government to rein in police excesses can be an exercise in managed expectations. . . On Friday, Chicago agreed to revamp its police department after the Justice Department found routine use of excessive force, and the mayor said he would negotiate a court-enforced settlement, known as a consent decree. But that is no guarantee of results — and not just because the man most likely to be the next attorney general has said he is skeptical of such endeavors.
Attempts to force change in police departments have met with mixed success even under the Obama administration, which made police reform a signature issue. It has opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies over issues like excessive force, racial bias and poor supervision, issuing reports choking with outrage.
Although there were successes in L.A. and elsewhere, ”. .  Pittsburgh, the target of the first consent decree based on a Justice Department finding of a “pattern and practice” of misconduct, later backslid after changes in leadership, said Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha [Walker is probably the nation’s top expert on police abuses and possible remedies.  I highly recommend his work]. And while Miami reduced police shootings to zero for 20 months after a federal investigation in 2002 that was later closed with no settlement, the Justice Department in 2013 reinvestigated and found a pattern of excessive force with firearms, underscoring some experts’ view that consent decrees or other settlements are needed for enduring improvements. Last year, Miami settled the 2013 inquiry by agreeing to improve supervision, training and internal investigations.
The “pattern and practice” approach developed after the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles in 1991 forced a period of national introspection over how to curb misconduct if individual officers could not be held accountable. A jury’s decision not to convict the four officers charged in the attack on Mr. King incited deadly riots.

Since the early attempts, Mr. Walker said, consent decrees have evolved to be more sophisticated and comprehensive. “The general pattern is that there is some backsliding on some issues,” he said, “but I don’t think there’s a case where a department has completely collapsed back to where it was before.” . . .
Still, Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and the nominee for attorney general under President-elect Donald J. Trump, called them “dangerous,” writing in 2008 that they “constitute an end run around the democratic process.” At his confirmation hearing this past week, he softened that critique, saying there were some circumstances that legitimately demanded consent decrees and that those already in place would be enforced."
Some reform advocates have expressed fears that the Trump administration will fail to investigate police departments or enforce consent decrees, robbing them of what they view as a crucial lever to compel change.”
Continue reading the main story
Even some police chiefs might mourn a retreat from consent decrees. Baltimore’s police commissioner, Kevin Davis, has said that a consent decree would aid community relations. Charles H. Ramsey, who as Washington’s police chief invited the Justice Department to review his department, said, “The DOJ gives legitimacy to the changes that you’re making.”
Chiefs may want consent decrees in order to insulate them from political and union opposition to change, as well as make it easier to demand money to pay for reforms.
Mr. Sessions wrote in his critique of consent decrees in 2008 that he is aware of that strategy.
“Such decrees are particularly offensive when certain governmental agencies secretly delight in being sued because they hope a settlement will be reached resulting in the agency receiving more money,” he wrote. “Thus, the taxpayers ultimately fund the settlement enacted through this undemocratic process.” [This is slightly misleading as the mayor, and city council, elected officials, also have to agree]
But, Mr. Sessions said, lawsuits could unfairly target whole police departments for the misdeeds of a few bad actors. “These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness,” he said.
His critique did not extend to how well consent decrees actually work. But experts say that even systemic changes, like greater oversight of officers’ use of force, can be slow to yield results."
Quite frankly, such lawsuits are just about the only effective remedy available.  Self-reform rarely works. To limit or abolish them will have negative effects of many, including black communities.  Opposition to such suits, in my opinion could be a latent seal of approval for what these agencies are doing.  Many people want the police to crack down violently on the dangerous classes.  White supremacists are opposed to the suits because they will benefit blacks disproportionately and pose a threat to white supremacy.  Opposition is especially strong in the South.  Many local politicians who overtly or covertly support white supremacy don’t want to lose control of their police, even temporarily, to the feds.

 

TRUMP'S IGNORANCE SHOWING AGAIN, NOW RE NATO

The President-elect continues to draw criticism because of his stupid/uninformed statements,  like ''NATO is obsolete" because it doesn't prevent terrorism.  NATO was not created to prevent terrorism,  it was created to counter the Soviet (now Russian) threat to Europe.  Its purpose is to deter and respond to Russian aggression.   Anyone who knows or cares about American or European history should know this.  Anyone who thinks it's not a threat apparently knows nothing about what has happened in the Ukraine, and the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.  I'm sure Putin was pleased to hear the President elect say it was obsolete.  Trump had to respond to European criticism by later saying it was "important." See
http://hotair.com/archives/2017/01/16/kremlin-agrees-germany-worries-after-trump-again-says-nato-is-obsolete/

Given Trump and Putin's mutual admiration,  and Russian hacking of the Dems to benefit Trump, if I were a resident of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia or any eastern European country who valued their nation and its independence, I'd feel a little uneasy now.
'

Saturday, January 14, 2017

MAN WITH GUN SAVES LIFE OF AZ STATE TROOPER


A man who shot and wounded an Arizona state trooper Thursday along a remote highway and then started slamming the helpless officer's head into the pavement as the two struggled was shot to death by a passing driver, authorities said.

Trooper Edward Andersson, a 27-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety, was shot in the right shoulder and chest in what authorities called an ambush and was in serious but stable condition after surgery at a Goodyear hospital.

"My trooper would not be alive without his assistance," DPS Director Frank Milstead said of the driver who stopped.

Arizona has a "defense of third person" law [like all states] that allows someone to use deadly force against another who is threatening or injuring a third person. It was not unusual that the passing driver was armed in this gun-friendly state with loose regulations.”

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/passing-driver-kills-man-shot-arizona-officer-ambush-44739139

 

It will be interesting to see whether the NY Times carries this story, and if they do, how they will spin it.  I did a quick search but  could not find anything on it at the NYT.  It may be there.  Media bias is not so much reflected in what stories they carry, its more reflected by what stories they don't cover.

2,000 unfilled border protection jobs and lie detectors.

According to the AP at
http://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/7e5bc0d98dd849a88043d8c40a74e56f


David Kirk was a career Marine pilot with a top-secret security clearance and a record of flying classified missions. He was in the cockpit when President George W. Bush and Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden traveled around the nation's capital by helicopter.

With credentials like that, Kirk was stunned to fail a lie detector when he applied for a pilot's job with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which guards 6,000 miles of border with Mexico and Canada. After two contentious polygraph sessions that lasted a combined eight hours, Kirk said, he drove home "with my tail between my legs," wondering how things had gone so wrong.

Two out of three applicants to the CBP fail its polygraph, according to the agency — more than double the average rate of eight law enforcement agencies that provided data to The Associated Press under open-records requests.

It's a big reason approximately 2,000 jobs at the nation's largest law enforcement agency are empty, with the Border Patrol, a part of CBP, recently slipping below 20,000 agents for the first time since 2009. And it has raised questions of whether the lie detector tests are being properly administered."  [lots of experts and courts are extremely wary of the validity of lie detector tests]

No need to worry about all the unfilled jobs.  We'll soon have a wall along the border the cost for which Mexico will reimburse.  Further, after we spend millions, if not billions, on the wall, there won't be any money to pay more Border Patrol agents. 

2 POLICE DEPARTMENTS HEADED IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS

"-- The Chicago police have systematically violated the civil rights of residents by routinely using excessive force, especially against black and Latino people, the Justice Department said in a scathing report released Friday.
Federal investigators excoriated the department and city officials alike for what they called "systemic deficiencies." They said their inquiry found that the Chicago police force did not provide officers with proper guidance for using force, did not properly investigate improper uses of force, and did not hold officers accountable for such incidents.
"The systems and policies that fail ordinary citizens also fail the vast majority of Chicago Police Department officers, who risk their lives every day to serve and protect the people of Chicago," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference.




The report culminates a 13-month federal investigation launched amid the fallout over the shooting of a black teenager by a white officer."
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2017/01/13/us-chastises-chicago-police-use-force

This sounds like many police departments.

On the other hand, here's Philadelphia's PD, now headed in the right direction after federal  intervention.  They couldn't do it by themselves.  Most problem agencies can't.  Ameond the reasons are the culture within the department and strong police unions which protect even the bad cops.

Philadelphia Police Department has made a "substantial effort" to implement reforms in its use of deadly force and is an example for the country amid the current climate of community and police tensions, federal officials said Friday.
The city's police department had been part of a collaborative effort with the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services Office to make changes to its culture and policy since 2013.
The Justice Department found a troubled agency it said was motivated by fear and a use of force that disproportionately affected black people. But by December 2015, the Justice Department praised Philadelphia for making a remarkable turnaround on 91 recommendations for improvement.
In an interim report Friday, the federal office's director, Ronald Davis, said the Philadelphia police have completed 61 of the recommendations — up from 21 about a year ago — and has made "demonstrable progress" on 22.
"We will never get comfortable," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross. "This does not mean we're at the finish line. This is the path we need to take, and we're willing to do that. We do realize there are issues in policing."
Officer-involved shootings have steadily declined in Philadelphia over the past decade. In 2007, there were more than 60. In 2015, there were 23."

However, it will take constant effort and monitoring to keep the agency from falling back to its former self.  The culture dies hard, unions will still protect even bad cops and public and politicians will lose interest.  Look at he long term history of NYPD--scandal, commission investigation, reforms then a few years later, another scandal.  The cycle goes on and on.

ANOTHER POL PUTS HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH

Texas seems to have more than its share of politicians who can't seem to be get  their brain in gear before they engage their mouth. E.g.,
https://www.buzzfeed.com/parentwin/34-deliciously-ridiculous-rick-perry-quotes-c8nl?utm_term=.eaQnzMm3Y#.dyr7M2rzn

"A Texas lawmaker on the House intelligence committee says it wasn't just the Russians who interfered in last year's election.
"Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, is comparing the use of Mexican entertainers to energize Democratic voters to the email hacking that officials say was orchestrated by Vladimir Putin's government.
Harry Reid and the Democrats brought in Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities. into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth,” Conaway told The Dallas Morning News this week. “Those are foreign actors, foreign people, influencing the vote in Nevada. You don’t hear the Democrats screaming and saying one word about that.”
Asked whether he considers that on par with Russian cyber-intrusions that aimed to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Conaway said: “Sure it is, it’s foreign influence. If we’re worried about foreign influence, let’s have the whole story.”
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/01/12/texas-rep-mike-conawayrussian-hacking-like-mexican-singers-campaigning-clinton

Sorry, but there is at least one significant difference.  There is no evidence that the musicians or those who hired them did anything illegal.  Hacking computers and servers is a crime.  Getting out the vote is  also legal.    Further, this is like comparing a mountain and a mole hill.  Where do they find these people?

Here's more outrageous quotes by both Dems and Republicans from around the country.  Where do the find these people.
https://www.google.com/search?q=outrageous+quotes+by+Texas+politicians&biw=1093&bih=421&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjO-eDX0MLRAhUD9GMKHWsnA3UQsAQIGQ

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FIRST U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION IN 2017

The Court strengthens the protection of qualified immunity, and sends a cautionary message to U.S. Courts of Appeal.  (P.S.   qualified immunity allows public officials and officers to avoid money damage liability when sued under Title 42 U.S. Code sec. 1983, the main federal civil rights statutes.  Suits under the statute can also be brought in state courts.)
http://blogs.findlaw.com/supreme_court/2017/01/supreme-court-warns-circuits-on-qualified-immunity.html?DCMP=NWL-pro_top

POST-TRUTH WHITE HOUSE COMING UP

One of the President-elect's Monday morning tweets "claimed that the allegation that he mocked disableD reporter was "more very dishonest media."  http://www.dfw.com/2017/01/09/1166035_overrated-or-not-streeps-speech.html

Take a look at the linked video below and make up your own minds.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/11/26/donald-trump-mocks-reporter-with-disability-berman-sot-ac.cnn
(Sorry you'll have to tolerate a 30 second ad)

See also
http://www.factcheck.org/2017/01/trump-errs-reply-streep/



A Trump look-alike was apparently hired by the media to make Trump look bad.   Our first post-truth President apparently also sometimes loses contact with reality.  I suspect the Trump White House will eventually adopt the paranoid,  siege mentality adopted by the Nixon White House late during Nixon's tenure.

Every once in a great while, Trump admits he was wrong, e.g., finally conceded that Russians hacked the Democrats and gave the info. to WikiLeaks.  We need more of this.

Trump apparently will continue tweeting after he takes office.  Let's hope it doesn't get in the way of his more important duties.

"If you made the assumption that a PR team is handling Donald Trump’s Twitter assaults, you’d be wrong. The incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said that the President-elect’s tweets are his own, and the team never knows when or what he’ll tweet next. He also said that it’s likely that President Trump will continue to tweet while in office, as this offers him a direct way to address the public."

Here comes the scary part parts [by Blogger] from Spicer who apparently doesn't know the difference between statements of fact (e.g.,whether something did or did not happen, and statements of opinion (e.g., "Meryl Street is overrated").

"Spicer also dismissed the idea that Trump tweets randomly, labeling such thinking as misconception. 'He is a very strategic thinker," Spicer said. “He thinks about where things are going to end up.”  [Does it take strategic thinking to  mock a disable reports call Meryl Streep "overated"]
Spicer also said that Trump’s doesn’t have to fact check what he says, and there’s a distinction between Trump’s “right to express his opinion,” and journalists’ duty to the truth.
“It’s one thing to make a statement, but if you’re a journalist, your job is to get that right,” he said, according to The Chicago Tribune.
[Apparently people running for or holding office have no obligation to be truthful]

Looks like we will have our first "post-truth" Presidential press secretary.

I know what Trump defenders are thinking:  all politicians lie and Hillary told lots of lies. Hillary pales in comparison Trump.  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/lists/people/comparing-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-truth-o-met/

It's pathetic that we tolerate this, and vote for these people. What ever happened to person integrity and ethics?  I guess it's OK to murder two people because other people have murdered more than two.  Trumps win sends the signal that honest is no longer important for a candidate. This is a pathetic situation. 

Trump doesn't just lie, he loses contact with reality. See also

http://crimelawandjustice.blogspot.com/2016/12/post-truth-america.html

http://crimelawandjustice.blogspot.com/2016/12/false-news-post-truth-and-false.html

Trump is an embarrassment to our great nation and people who really care about honesty and ethics.




Saturday, January 07, 2017

TEXAS CONTINUES BATHROOM WARS


"Less than a year after the sports and entertainment industries turned their backs on North Carolina for passing its so-called bathroom bill, Texas’ lieutenant governor on Thursday helped unveil a legislative proposal that has much of the same intent as North Carolina’s law but appears to include the potential for exceptions for special events.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a conservative Republican and president of the Texas Senate, has been pushing for legislation he said would protect women and children by ensuring that transgender people would have to use public restrooms and locker rooms assigned to their "biological sex" on their birth certificate.
The Texas bill (SB6) contains language that would appear to make it possible for a private organization to determine the bathroom-usage rules at public facilities they rent — the situation that occurs when, for instance, the NCAA signs an agreement to hold the Final Four at a facility such as the Alamodome, which is owned and operated by the City of San Antonio.
Specifically, the bill states that a “private entity that leases or contracts to use a building owned or leased by" a public entity “is not subject to a policy developed under” the bill. In addition, the bill says that the state and various localities “may not require or prohibit a private entity that leases or contracts to use a building owned or leased by” a public entity “from adopting a policy on the designation or use of bathroom or changing facilities located in the building.”
http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college/2017/01/05/ncaa-response-texas-transgender-bathroom-bill-sb-6-hb-2-strike-lgbtq/96196940/

A number of Texas business organizations and state economic development groups are afraid the bill could cost the state millions of dollars.  I don't know if the bills exception will make a difference.  Companies that want to invest in Texas are irrelevant to the exception.  The issue is the big picture of LGBT rights. Stay tuned.

10 U.S. SUPREME COURT CASES TO WATCH IN 2017

Here's some of the most interesting Supreme Court cases to be decided  in 2017 by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Here's 2 of the most interesting ones.

1.  Transgender bathroom fight at public school
Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.  (to be scheduled)
The Court for the first time takes on the question of transgender rights in the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.
The Justices will consider the appeal of a county school board in Virginia, challenging a federal appeals court ruling that gave a 17-year-old transgender boy a right to use the school restroom that conforms to his gender identity.
Specifically, the order grants review of two questions. One of those is the legality of the federal government’s view that the federal law banning sex bias in federally funded education programs also forbids discrimination based on gender identity. If the final decision does settle that issue, it could be the court’s first major ruling on the transgender rights controversy – the latest dispute over civil rights.
But the second question to be reviewed, if the decision goes against the government position, could make it unlikely the question about transgender rights will be decided. That other question tests whether the government announced its policy on transgender rights in the procedurally proper way. A ruling against the policy declaration would send this case back to the federal appeals court, which had relied on the declaration in ruling in favor of the transgender boy’s rights.

2.  Cross-border killing
Hernández v. Mesa (scheduled for February 21)
The United States Supreme Court said in October it would accept an appeal from the family of a boy from Mexico who was fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol officer. Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, 15, died in 2010 as he stood on Mexican soil by a border officer who fired his gun while on United States soil in Texas. The agent claimed Hernandez and others were throwing rocks at him.
Hernandez’s family sued the agent for damages, but in 2015 the Fifth Circuit appeals court said the family had no standing to sue because the teen was a Mexican citizen and not protected by the Fifth Amendment under its Due Process clause or by the Fourth Amendment.  The full appeals court had unanimously ruled in favor of the agent.
The Supreme Court took the appeal and also added a question about determining if the parents had a constitutional right to sue a Border Patrol officer.


http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2017/01/supreme-court-cases-to-watch-in-2017/

GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF BUSINESS NECESSARY FOR PUBLIC PROTECTION

Anarchists, anarcho-capitalists and many libertarians have a knee jerk reaction against regulations limiting businesses.  I suspect most of these folks don't know much about economics and apparently have not followed the news which shows harm to the public.   They seem to be unaware that almost all economists accept the reality of negative externalities.
"A negative externality (also called "external cost" or "external diseconomy") is an economic activity that imposes a negative effect on an unrelated third party. It can arise either during the production or the consumption of a good or service.[7] Pollution is termed an externality because it imposes costs on people who are "external" to the producer and consumer of the polluting product.[8] Barry Commoner commented on the costs of externalities:
Clearly, we have compiled a record of serious failures in recent technological encounters with the environment. In each case, the new technology was brought into use before the ultimate hazards were known. We have been quick to reap the benefits and slow to comprehend the costs.[9]
Many negative externalities are related to the environmental consequences of production and use. The article on environmental economics also addresses externalities and how they may be addressed in the context of environmental issues.
Examples for negative production externalities include:
  • Air pollution from burning fossil fuels. This activity causes damages to crops, (historic) buildings and public health.[10][11]
  • Anthropogenic climate change as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, gas, and coal. The Stern Review on the Economics Of Climate Change says "Climate change presents a unique challenge for economics: it is the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen."[12]
  • Water pollution by industries that adds effluent, which harms plants, animals, and humans.
  • Noise pollution during the production process, which may be mentally and psychologically disruptive.
  • Systemic risk: the risks to the overall economy arising from the risks that the banking system takes. A condition of moral hazard can occur in the absence of well-designed banking regulation,[13] or in the presence of badly designed regulation.[14]
  • Negative effects of Industrial farm animal production, including "the increase in the pool of antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the overuse of antibiotics; air quality problems; the contamination of rivers, streams, and coastal waters with concentrated animal waste; animal welfare problems, mainly as a result of the extremely close quarters in which the animals are housed."[15][16]
  • The depletion of the stock of fish in the ocean due to overfishing. This is an example of a common property resource, which is vulnerable to the Tragedy of the commons in the absence of appropriate environmental governance.
  • In the United States, the cost of storing nuclear waste from nuclear plants for more than 1,000 years (over 100,000 for some types of nuclear waste) is, in principle, included in the cost of the electricity the plant produces in the form of a fee paid to the government and held in the nuclear waste superfund, although much of that fund was spent on Yucca Mountain without producing a solution. Conversely, the costs of managing the long term risks of disposal of chemicals, which may remain hazardous on similar time scales, is not commonly internalized in prices. The USEPA regulates chemicals for periods ranging from 100 years to a maximum of 10,000 years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality#Negative

The list of business frauds against consumers grows longer every day as does the list of dangerous products, etc. (e.g. dangerous air bags, Wells Fargo Bank scam, dangerous ignition locks, Bhopal.)  Short-term profits and covering up are the primary pursuits of most large businesses.  Other values fall by the wayside.  Criminal prosecution or civil suit after the fact cannot really remedy the damage. 

Check out any of the links here.
https://www.google.com/#q=business+scandals or

https://www.google.com/#q=business+corruption

TRUMP CHANGES PLANS, MEXICO WILL NOW REIMBURSE U.S. FOR BORDER WALL



“WASHINGTON — Shifting on a longtime campaign promise to compel Mexico to pay for a wall along the southern border, President-elect Donald Trump now plans instead to get Congress to fund the project with Mexico reimbursing later.

Trump’s transition team has reached out to congressional leaders about using the federal budget process to pay for the oft-touted wall, CNN reported late Thursday.

Trump defended the move in a tweet Friday morning, explaining that the new plan is to ensure that the project can begin quickly, and insisting that Mexico will pay the U.S. back at an undetermined future date.

http://c14.zedo.com/jsc/images/inReadcloseicon.png

Trump never mentioned during the campaign that U.S. taxpayers would have to front the cost of a wall, which could be as high as $25 billion. Spokesman Sean Spicer hit back at any inference that a down payment approach means that Trump is backing away from his pledge to have Mexico pay for the wall, however. 

"The idea that we're going through the appropriations process and figuring out how to pay for it shouldn't be news. Just to make sure that we're all clear on that," he told reporters Friday morning on a briefing call.  [Pathetic attempt to spin the change.  This an dozens of other staff statements make it clear the Trump people are also in the post-truth mode.]

On Capitol Hill, Trump allies appeared open to the idea.

"We'll start it and Mexico can pay us back," Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Tyler Republican, told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday evening. He argued that there may be unused funds available from a 2006 bill directing $4 billion to border security.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said Friday that he was confident Trump would be able to force the Mexican government to ultimately bear the costs of the project.

“When you understand that Mexico’s economy is dependent upon U.S. consumers, Donald Trump has all the cards he needs to play,” Collins, who is serving as Trump’s congressional liaison, told CNN.

But former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a frequent Trump critic, reasserted Thursday that Mexico will play no role in paying for the president-elect’s “racist monument."
 
 
Donald J. Trump
 
@realDonaldTrump
The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!
Any Mexican President who appeared to be cow-towing to the U.S. would never be re-elected.  Trumps delusion that Mexico would pay for the wall has been replaced with a delusion that Mexico will reimburse us.
I think it is becoming obvious that Trump will become our 1st post-truth President.
 
 

TRUMP CONCEDES THAT RUSSIANS DID THE HACKING OF DEM. COMPUTERS



"WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” [A number of Republican senators supported the U.S. Intelligence agencies' conclusions]
Those conclusions were part of a declassified intelligence report that was released Friday. 
Its main conclusions were described to President-elect Donald Trump by intelligence officials earlier in the day. Mr. Trump acknowledged, for the first time, that Russia had sought to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems. He insisted the effort had no effect on the election and said nothing about the conclusion that Mr. Putin, at some point last year, decided to aid the Trump candidacy.  [Prior to this Trump denied that Russians were behind the hacking and, in post-truth mode, asserted that any 14-year old could have done the hacking]

The report, a detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the U.S. electoral system, went on to assess that Mr. Putin had “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

The report described a broad campaign that included covert operations, including cyberactivities and the “trolling” on the Internet of people who were viewed as opponents of Russia’s effort. 

While it accused Russian intelligence agencies of obtaining and maintaining “access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,” it concluded — as officials have publicly — that there was no evidence of tampering with the Nov. 8 tally.

The report, reflecting the assessments of the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency, stopped short of backing Mr. Trump on his declaration that the hacking activity had no effect on the election. 

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” the report concluded, saying it was beyond its responsibility to analyze U.S. “political processes” or public opinion.  [We probably never will be able to determine if the leaks changed the course of the election.]

The report makes clear that Mr. Putin favored Mr. Trump in part because he had previous success dealing with “Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia” and in part because he viewed Mr. Trump as a more likely ally in forming Russia’s version of a coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

The report also stated that Russia collected data “on some Republican-affiliated targets,” but did not disclose the contents of whatever it harvested.

The key to the report’s assessment is that Russia’s motives “evolved over the course of the campaign.” 

When it appeared Mrs. Clinton was more likely to win, the report concluded, the Russian effort focused “on undermining her future presidency.” 

It noted that Mr. Putin had a particular animus for Mrs. Clinton because he believed she had incited protests against him in late 2011.

Yet the attacks, the report said, began long before anyone could have known that Mr. Trump, considered a dark horse, would win the Republican nomination. 

It said the attacks began as early as July, 2015, when Russian intelligence operatives first gained access to the DNC’s networks."
Prior to this time, it appeared that Trump was going to buddy-up with Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Both are hard-core, right-wing authoritarian politicians. Is Trump a wannabe? The buddying up with Putin may cool.
P.S.  I didn't vote for either Trump or Clinton.
 


 

U.S. DEPT OF JUSTICE CLEARS 4 DELAWARE COPS IN KILLING CASE


"Four Delaware police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black man in a wheelchair will not face criminal civil rights charges, U.S. Justice Department officials said Friday.

Jeremy McDole, 28, was shot by Wilmington police in September 2015 after they responded to a 911 call about an armed man who had fired a gun.

A bystander's cell phone video shows officers repeatedly telling McDole, a career criminal who was paralyzed in a 2005 shooting, to drop his weapon and raise his hands. McDole can be seen reaching for his waist area before shots erupt. . . .

"They said they left no stone unturned.... There simply wasn't enough evidence there to sustain a criminal charge," said attorney Thomas Neuberger.

Neuberger said he's satisfied that the federal investigation was thorough, but the family is "very disappointed."

City of Wilmington officials agreed last month to a $1.5 million settlement with McDole's family and acknowledged that reviews of police policies will include training on de-escalation techniques. A federal judge will hold a hearing Tuesday to consider whether to approve the settlement. . . .

Witnesses corroborated the officers' claim that McDole failed to respond to commands and continued moving his hands around his waistband when the shots were fired, authorities said in a news release. The investigation also revealed that McDole's DNA was on the grip of a handgun recovered from his waistband, and that there was gunshot residue was on his right palm and shirt sleeve, they added. . . .

The Delaware attorney general's office concluded in a May report that criminal charges could not be brought against the four officers. The agency's investigation found that six officers at the scene all reported seeing a gun in McDole's pants after he was shot. Investigators determined that the same gun had been reported stolen.

A detective said in a court affidavit that officers found a .38 caliber revolver with four spent casings and two live rounds in McDole's underwear. Officials also have said toxicology tests found evidence of marijuana and PCP, or "angel dust," in McDole's bloodstream.

The attorney general's report cited an unnamed individual who told investigators that on the morning of the shooting, he had wheeled McDole to the "Browntown" section of Wilmington so that McDole could get a gun and PCP-laced cigarettes."
 
 
Let's try not to fall into the presumption of guilt habit whenever a white cop or individual kills an black male.     If Obama's DOJ didn't find enough evidence to charge the cops, the evidence wasn't there.

 

Friday, January 06, 2017

DISCRIMNATION IN PROVIDING POLICE SERVICES


"The New York City public advocate, the City Council speaker and other elected officials called on the Police Department on Wednesday to fix inequities in how it deploys investigative resources in poor, predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
Elected leaders were also working on measures seeking information from the department about how it assigns detectives and about the precinct-by-precinct rate at which it solves violent crimes. That would represent a sharp break from years of secrecy around how the department investigates serious crime in different parts of New York.
The calls for transparency followed the publication of an article last weekend in The New York Times that analyzed confidential deployment data and found that precinct detective squads and homicide squads in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens were sharply understaffed compared with those in Manhattan.
Precinct detectives in the Bronx, the borough with the highest violent crime rate, carried an average of 20 more violent felonies last year than detectives in Brooklyn and Queens, and 30 more than detectives in Manhattan and Staten Island. Overall violent crime in the Bronx — murders, rapes, robberies and felony assaults — rose last year through late December, even as the city on Wednesday touted citywide declines in crime.
The 40th Precinct in the South Bronx, where overall crime climbed by 13 percent last year, had the city’s highest murder rate through November, but the fewest detectives per violent crime. The precinct covers some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, including Mott Haven and Melrose, and the population is largely black and Hispanic."
 
This problem is not unique to NYC.  Polticians respond to those with $, connections and political clout.  Too bad for the rest of us.  They pretend to careabout poor and minorities, but for many, it's just an other example of "let's pretend." "The affluent wheel gets the grease."
 
See http://ftp.iza.org/dp9290.pdf

NIXON SABOTAGED VIET NAM PEACE TALKS.

If you are an American history buff, and/or interested in the Viet Nam war, this article is for you.
"Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.
Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative."
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/opinion/sunday/nixons-vietnam-treachery.html?_r=0

CARTOON ON POST-TRUTH AMERICA





Post truth America.  Applies to a lot of issues, e.g. Trump says that global warming is a hoax.  Gun controllers think they have the answer to violence.
Simple minds are always looking for simple answers to complex problems. And, of course, they are looking for simple answers that confirm their ideological and personal values and interests (echo chamber)
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-truth_politics

Thursday, January 05, 2017

REVIEW OF RESEARCH

Good review of the literature re research on guns, gun control, etc. and Second Amendment.
http://www.law.howard.edu/dictator/media/229/how_58_3.pdf

Scroll down to p. 13 to "Criminology . . ." article by David T. Hardy.   Among other things, he points out the fallacies of the public health case control methodology.  Basically, it's junk when use to study gun homicides.

THE 3-D PRINTED GUN

You've probably heard about the 3-D Printed Gun. I could never figure it out.  Here's the lowdown on this topic.  The machines needed to make the gun are way too expensive to make the gun economically viable.
https://3dprint.com/139537/3d-printed-guns/

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

REPUBLICANS TRY TO GUT INDEPENDENT ETHICS UNIT OF U.S. HOUSE OF REP.


Fresh off their Nov. victories, some house Republicans wanted to increase their ability to engage in unethical/criminal acts by gutting the House's independent ethics watchdog.  Apparently they thought the result were a mandate to increase  their spoils.  Given Republican domination of the House, one shudders to think what might go on once the dogs of corruption are unleashed even further.   According to USA Today:
"WASHINGTON — After public denunciations from watchdogs and criticism from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans on Tuesday reversed course and dropped plans to gut an independent agency that polices potential ethical wrongdoing by lawmakers.
The controversy over GOP plans to sharply curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics overshadowed the opening day of Congress, where Republicans control both chambers and soon will welcome a Republican president for the first time in eight years.
The about-face came a day after House Republicans met behind closed doors and moved to rein in the office, approved by Congress in 2008 as an independent arm to investigate lawmakers after scandals sent three lawmakers and high-flying lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison."  [The old House Ethics Committee, composed of House members, had an uninspiring record.  They stalled on the 3 cases that led to convictions]
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/2017/01/03/trump-slams-house-move-ethics-watchdog/96103514/

The leader of this a anti-ethics  movement. was Dallas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, House Rules Committee Chairman.   The Dallas Morning News editorialized against the movement but conveniently neglected to mention Sessions.  [link not available at this time]. Is this an example of editors attempting to protect a local politico?
Kudos to House Leader Republican  Paul Ryan, and the President-elect, for opposing the move.  To paraphrase a famous saying, 'eternal vigilance is the price of controlling corruption."

Friday, December 30, 2016

POLICE KILLINGS AND AMBUSHES UP IN 2016

Although the figures are up over last year, this is not a record.  The record for police officer deaths was set in 1974. Since then, the overall trend has been down.
 "The Dallas ambush was the deadliest day for law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. That bloodshed, coupled with another attack days later in Baton Rouge, helped fuel an increase this year in the number of police officers slain in the line of duty, a tally pushed upward by a surge in ambush attacks and other shootings."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/12/29/ambushes-and-fatal-shootings-fuel-increase-in-police-death-toll-this-year/?utm_term=.a1927c7534cf

See also
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/27/number-of-law-enforcement-officers-fatally-shot-this-year-up-significantly-after-ambush-attacks-report-says/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.d385d62e0fcb

Thursday, December 29, 2016

ISREALI SETTLEMENTS CONTROVERSY--CONT.



From an article by Thomas L. Friedman.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/opinion/bibi-netanyahu-makes-trump-his-chump.html
“But they  [Kerry and Obama] are convinced — rightly — that Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.. . . . The settlers’ goal is very clear, as Kerry put it on Wednesday: to strategically place settlements “in locations that make two states impossible,” so that Israel will eventually annex all of the West Bank. Netanyahu knows this will bring huge problems, but his heart is with the settlers, and his passion is with holding power — at any cost. So in any crunch, he sides with the settlers, and they keep pushing.”
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960s South Africa, where Israel has to systematically deprive large elements of its population of democratic rights to preserve the state’s Jewish character.


 

Israel is clearly now on a path toward absorbing the West Bank’s 2.8 million Palestinians. There are already 1.7 million Arabs living in Israel, so putting these two Arab populations together would constitute a significant minority with a higher birthrate than that of Israeli Jews — who number 6.3 million — posing a demographic and democratic challenge.
Continue reading the main story

I greatly sympathize with Israel’s security problems. If I were Israel, I would not relinquish control of the West Bank borders — for now. The Arab world is far too unstable, and Hamas, which controls another 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, would likely take over the West Bank.

My criticism of Netanyahu is not that he won’t simply quit all the West Bank; it is that he refuses to show any imagination or desire to build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support, such as radical political and economic autonomy for Palestinians in the majority of the West Bank, free of settlements, while Israel still controls the borders and the settlements close to it.
More worrisome is the fact that President-elect Donald Trump — who could be a fresh change agent — is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists, and I mean extreme. His ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, has compared Jews who favor a two-state solution to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. I’ve never heard such a vile slur from one Jew to another.

Trump also has no idea how much he is being manipulated into helping Iran and ISIS. What is Iran’s top goal when it comes to Israel? That Israel never leaves the West Bank and that it implants Jewish settlers everywhere there."

Trump is not always right or always wrong. (For instance, I support his call for putting billions into repairing infrastructure). Blindly following him and automatically accepting his position without independent research or thinking is intellectual sloth.  Blindly following the leader no matter what is a recipe for fascism.
 

 

MORE ON THE ISRAELI SETTLEMENT CONTROVERSY



More on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  From a NYT editorial.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/opinion/is-israel-abandoning-a-two-state-solution.html?_r=0
The Times has never been known to be anti-semitic or anti-Israel. Scoff if you want, but there are serious issues to be faced if one has an open mind and looks at the facts.  Yes, Israel has serious security issues, but the current path is not he solution.

“Inconveniently for Mr. Netanyahu’s claim that the Security Council resolution was the result of perfidy by Mr. Obama, the measure was adopted 14 to 0, with support from Russia, China and Egypt, among others. It declared that the settlements, in territory that Israel captured from Jordan during the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, have no legal validity; affirming longstanding United Nations and American policy, it cited the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits any occupying power from transferring its own people to conquered territory.

Under Mr. Obama, the United States continues to subscribe to the position enshrined in the 1993 Oslo accords that the future of Jerusalem, like that of the West Bank, should be decided through negotiation — not by diktat by either side.  Settlements represent such a diktat. Anyone who doesn’t think so hasn’t looked at the map or studied the history of the settlement movement. Right-wing Israeli settlers have been quite open for decades about their patient approach to claiming Jerusalem and the West Bank by strategically placing settlements to prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Since 2009, when Mr. Obama took office, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has grown to around 400,000, a gain of more than 100,000, and the number of settlers in East Jerusalem has grown to roughly 208,000, from 193,000, according to Americans for Peace Now. During the same period, construction has begun on over 12,700 settlement units on the West Bank. . ..

When the world is silent, Israel can build settlements; when the world objects, Israel must build settlements. Under any scenario, settlements will grow, and the possibility of a two-state solution will recede.

Settlements are certainly not the only impediment, or even the principal one, to negotiations today. The Palestinians remain divided and their leadership malicious or hapless, with Hamas, which advocates terrorism, reigning in the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority, rife with corruption, governs ineptly in the West Bank. But the settlements are an obstacle to any eventual deal, and they are Israel’s responsibility.

For a long time, Mr. Netanyahu gave lip service to a Palestinian state. But there is no longer any room for illusion. Mr. Netanyahu recently described his government as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history,” and Naftali Bennett, one of his coalition partners, declared that “the era of the two-state solution is over.” Mr. Netanyahu’s own United Nations ambassador, as Mr. Kerry noted on Wednesday, rejects that solution, too.

What could be the endgame, if it does not include a Palestinian state? Mr. Kerry warned that without a two-state solution, Israel faces a choice between being a Jewish state and a democracy. If Israel annexes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this logic goes, Palestinians, many of whom are Muslims, would become the majority in the resulting state of Israel. At that point, Israelis could give these Palestinians full rights as citizens, thus diluting the Jewish character of their nation, or deny them rights and forsake democracy.

But the Israeli far right has long imagined a different scenario: Egypt would be somehow induced to take control of the Gaza Strip, while Israel would hold most of the West Bank and somehow offload the bulk of its Palestinian residents into Jordan. Jerusalem, presumably, would be entirely under Israeli control.


This one-state solution may remain a fantasy, but it’s gathering adherents. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, John Bolton, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former American ambassador to the United Nations, advanced just this scenario. Mr. Bolton is said to be on President-elect Donald Trump’s list as a possible deputy secretary of state.

Mr. Obama has stayed true to the values and policy aims that American administrations have held across the decades for the Middle East, but Mr. Trump has signaled that a major change is coming. He has already appointed to the post of ambassador to Israel a settlement advocate who is, if anything, to Mr. Netanyahu’s right.

[Nethanyahu is a close-minded bully and blowhard.  He will get along splendidly with Trump.] If Mr. Trump envisions working with Israel’s extreme right to foreclose the dream of a Palestinian state, he envisions a tragic future indeed, one in which Israel is likely to never have the peace and security that it deserves.”

With Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress, I would not want to be a Palestinian living in Jerusalem or the West Bank.  Expect illegal settlements and coerced/authoritarian confiscation of Palestinian land to speed up.  What is to become of the Palestinians?  They will be sold out and abandoned while the U.S. continues to send billions to Israel. The injustice will only continue to feed violent Islamic radicals.  Eventually, the U.S. will suffer another  major terrorist attack.  Why can’t we face up to where this going?