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Militarization of U.S. Police: Ferguson, Mo.

By Peter Kraska

Even though I was the first academic to identify, research, and write about these trends — even I would not have predicted the extent to which the Military Model would overtake the Community Policing reform movement so rapidly. Community policing reforms came about as a corrective to the 1950-60s professional police model which created a large gulf between police and citizens. Few noticed that underlying all the CP rhetoric was a little noticed yet foretelling trend of para-militarism as found in SWAT teams. What we’re witnessing today, though, with the influence of the Dept. of Homeland Security since 9/11 — along with growing emphasis on military hardware and tactics — is the expansion of police militarization throughout entire police departments — and indeed, the entire police institution.

This expansion is having a dramatic impact on how the police perceive the public (more as enemy combatants than citizens of the community they are serving) as well as how the public perceives the police (more as an occupying force that cares only about maintaining law and order through military style tactics, hardware, and appearance). This dynamic can readily lend itself to the police using deadly force inappropriately, and to the public reacting to these incidents with outrage and complete distrust of what they perceive as an occupying force that does not have their best interest in mind. In short, the police lose all legitimacy in the eyes of the people they are serving — which only reinforces a we vs. they mentality among the police. This has been the danger inherent in this well-documented trend toward police militarization; this is the ugly reality that is playing out in Ferguson, Missouri.

Unconstitutional acts of war in Iraq

by Paul Findley

President Obama ignored the wise direction of President George Washington when he casually told the nation — and Congress — that U.S. military forces will engage in acts of war in Iraq for an extended period of weeks and maybe months. Bombing, he said in a brief statement last week, is needed here and there, but he promised there will be no U.S. boots on the ground.

Although not mentioned publicly, his close partners in this risky adventure are Britain and France, whose diplomats carved up the Middle East at the end of World War I to suit their empire interests, plus Israel, the world’s latest colonial power.

The announcement seemed almost an afterthought as the president headed for vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. He neglected to seek approval of Congress before authorizing bombardment of the military forces of ISIS, the new marauding power that suddenly gained control of much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.

A former instructor in constitutional law, Obama ignored plain evidence that framers of the Constitution feared presidential abuse of instruments of war. They vested the power to declare war, that is, to make war, exclusively in Congress. They viewed war-making the most oppressive burden government can impose on its citizens and, in effect, declared it too important to entrust to a single person, the president.

Obama had ample time to seek congressional approval before the Capitol Hill vacation began. He chose to usurp congressional authority with U.S. bombs dropped in Iraq and thereby is guilty of impeachable offense.

It is shameful that congressional leaders failed to insist on strict compliance with the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
Once more, America’s government attempts nation-building in Iraq. It will be costly, and the people of Iraq have little reason to expect it will be better than our recent decade-long folly that left Iraq broken in almost every respect and its citizens outraged at the U.S. government and its Iraqi employees. This fury left many of the former employees assassinated and others sought survival by fleeing their homeland.

Findley served as a member of United States House of Representatives for 22 years. He was a key author of the War Powers Resolution and a leader in securing its enactment by overriding the veto of President Richard Nixon. He is also the author of six books. The federal building in Springfield, Ill. is named for him.

News Conference: Edward Snowden’s Passport, Political Asylum and Related Issues

March 25, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley and Norman Solomon spoke at this news conference, sponsored by RootsAction.org and hosted by the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was one of four American whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, who met with Snowden in Russia on October 9 to present him with an award for integrity in intelligence.

Coleen Rowley — a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq.

Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, a U.S. organization sponsoring a pair of petitions about Snowden. The petitions, with a combined total of 100,000 signers, were scheduled for presentation at the State Department and the Justice Department the morning after the news conference.

The petitions in support of Edward Snowden can be signed at RootsAction.org.

See: “Snowden Speaks on Obama Reforms As Supporters Call for End of His Persecution

What We Should be Talking About: Romney’s Foreign Policy Advisers

John Kennedy used to say, “Domestic policy can hurt us; foreign policy can kill us.”

But despite the fact that lives (American, allied, and civilian) continue to be lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel is blustering about attacking Iran before the US election (in order to drag in a reluctant Obama administration), much more time will be given to domestic policy rantings then foreign policy. In the 2000 election, there was very little debate about foreign policy, though anyone who looked closely might have guessed that Bush’s foreign policy advisors (who called themselves “the vulcans,” and had complex and long-standing links to groups and think tanks pressing for war on Iraq, would undertake that project at the slightest provocation.

This year, with less excuse (given the large deficit and two ongoing military operations), we have had very little discussion in the media about Romney’s foreign policy advisors. Yet, they are a far more coherent group of militarists than the Bush team.

[Read more...]

Dying to Live in Mexico

Cuernavaca, Mexico — In 2011, some 12,000 people were murdered in situations presumably related to the drug trafficking industry in Mexico. In 2010, the number was more than 15,000 killed. Between December 2006, when Felipe Calderón of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) took office and declared a “war on drug traffickers” and January 2012, depending on the source, some 47,000 to 60,000 people have been slain, and some 5,000 disappeared. This grim fact has become the centerpiece of Mexican politics and an inescapable force in daily life throughout much of the country.

But neither the number of people killed nor the cruelty of the killings can be understood without simultaneously taking account of another pair of figures. First, Calderón has repeatedly said that more than 90 percent of those killed were involved in “the struggle of some cartels against others.” Calderón does not cite a source for this estimate. The underlying logic, however, is clear: if you’re dead, you’re guilty. The perennial official refrain is “en algo andaba,” or, they were up to something; they were in the game. [Read more...]

THE PAYROLL TAX CUT: Talk about a Ponzi Scheme!

By Gwendolyn Mink

Is President Obama trying to kill Social Security without explicitly saying so? He put Social Security “on the table” for consideration by his Deficit Commission — even though Social Security has not contributed to creating or sustaining the deficit/debt in the first place. He kept Social Security on the table when he made a deal to delegate deficit reduction authority over entitlements to an undemocratic Super Committee. Now, in a speech reportedly about jobs, he proposed to extend and increase the ill-considered FICA tax cut he embraced last December — a tax cut that directly undermines the financial integrity of Social Security.

According to the White House Fact Sheet on “The American Jobs Act” the FICA tax holiday for workers will be increased to a 50% reduction, lowering it to 3.1%. Under the 2010 tax deal, the payroll tax for workers was reduced from 6.2% to 4.2%. In addition to expanding the tax cut for workers, the President proposes to extend the FICA tax holiday to employers by cutting in half the employer’s share of the payroll tax through the first $5 million in payroll. [Read more...]

Stop the Cuts to the Social Safety Net!

Medicaid cuts will injure communities of color disproportionately. 11 percent of Asian Americans, 14 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, 27 percent of Latinos, and 27 percent of African Americans gain access to health care through Medicaid.

Medicaid cuts will injure women disproportionately. Women account for 70 percent of Medicaid participants.

Social Security is survival income for many older women, especially older single women. Fifty percent of women over age 65 rely on Social Security for 80 percent or more of their income. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: Unmarried women living alone aged 65 and older are three times more likely to be living in poverty than married women aged 65 and older (16.6 percent compared with 4.8 percent). Without Social Security benefits, more than two-thirds of these unmarried women would live in poverty. [Read more...]

Fires Near Los Alamos Nuclear Facility

The forests surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory have burned and are certain to burn again with some regularity, whether from lightning or human causes.  If too many trees are allowed to remain near laboratory facilities, those too will sooner or later burn, despite everyone’s best efforts.

We are not as yet very concerned about radioactive or toxic materials being caught up in the present fire because we do not see, at present, much possibility of uncontrollable fire reaching any of those hazards.  There are not many trees near some of the most conspicuous hazards, such as the main nuclear waste storage site, and these wastes are not highly combustible in their present form.  The same considerations apply to buildings that contain nuclear materials — they are not very combustible.  We assume a reasonable degree of competence on the part of highly-trained firefighters involved, and sufficiency of equipment.

The reappearance of very high winds could complicate matters, however, as could the potential presence of unadmitted hazards in unknown locations.  A few laboratory areas do contain volatile soil contamination.

Much about Los Alamos is a de facto secret even whether or not the subject is classified.  This information deficit — the trust deficit that goes with it — create problems for firefighters as well as for the rest of us. [Read more...]

Case Against Cutting Social Security

The case against cutting Social Security is strong.

· Social Security benefits are modest by any measure and are already being cut – by raising the age of eligibility for full benefits and by deducting ever-rising Medicare premiums from benefit checks.

· The cuts already in law add up to a19 percent reduction for people born in 1960 and later, see the National Academy of Social Insurance report, “Social Security Beneficiaries Face 19 Percent Cut; New Revenue Can Restore Balance.”

· Cutting benefits further could undermine much of what Social Security has achieved and expose millions of vulnerable people – elderly and disabled – to unnecessary hardship.

· Benefits are vital to nearly all recipients: about a third of elderly recipients reply on benefits for 90 percent  or more of their income; two-thirds count on it to supply at least half their income. The program lifts nearly 20 million Americans out of poverty, including 1 million children. [Read more...]

Samantha Power, Libya, and Selective Memory of Genocide

Edward HermanIt might seem a bit surprising to see Samantha Power on the National Security Council and working with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who Power famously called a “monster” during the 2008 presidential campaign. But this was a heat-of-battle bit of name-calling, not a designation based on any difference in outlook. Both women are hardliners, along with their colleague Susan Rice, and the three together have constituted a regrettable women’s caucus in favor of a military solution to the conflict in Libya.

In her 2002 book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Power called for greater U.S. intervention to prevent major human rights violations and genocide. She never suggests that this might require LESS intervention (e.g., Vietnam; the “sanctions of mass destruction” in Iraq) or reduced support for killers (e.g., Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Israel). She also finds that we inappropriately “just stood by” and failed to intervene in cases where we actually gave positive support to the mass murderers (e.g., Indonesia in East Timor; Kagame and Musaveni in Rwanda and the Congo)

But while ignoring U.S. and client state bloodbaths Power did focus with great passion on genocides or alleged genocides carried out by U.S. targets. This huge bias carried her to the Carr Center for Human Rights and a professorship at Harvard, a Pulitzer Prize, generous media access, and now to a high level position in the administration of the Nobel Peace Prize president. It all fits!

For more information see the following piece, an excerpt of an article which originally appeared  ZNET [Read more...]