Skip to main content

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar


 photo hoover-mlk_zpskhjxpob2.jpg

Surveillance of oppressed groups and so-called undesirables has been a tenet of America's heritage. Slave patrols and infiltration made sure the smallest hints of rebellion were brutally repressed. As early as the 1860's, police were spying on labor organizers. J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was compiling dossiers on anyone perceived to be a threat, including the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

The '80s saw the Drug War used to extend the monitoring of people of color - with massive phone data collection, public cameras, and individual randomized targeting, best known as 'Stop & Frisk.' After 9/11, many such practices extended to Muslim faith communities.

Today, new technologies are allowing police to deploy surveillance on an unprecedented scale. Unsurprisingly, the weight of this is being brought to bear most heavily on minorities and the impoverished.


Continue Reading
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Police pull up suddenly on some young black men. One of them runs. A cops gives chase. "Shots fired." One more dead. "I feared for my life."

This is a script that is running on loopback in cities large and small across America. But it's a script that some say might become less popular if there was an unimpeachable witness to the play - video as it happened.

The Oakland Police have had body video cameras for some years now. Three years ago to this day, late into the night of May 5th, 2012, Oakland Police Officer Miguel Masso was wearing his camera as he and his partner cruised East Oakland. Spotting 18 year old Alan Blueford and his two companions "walking while black," the script played itself out.

photo vigil-dove-release_zpsc87ardsd.jpg

As officer Masso approached the young men he turned on his body camera. But when Alan took off running and he began a footchase he TURNED IT OFF. Alan ran into the midst of a street party and the event was witnessed by a number of people, but despite the gathering no video was recorded.

Alan Blueford's parents will never know for sure what happened just minutes after midnight. They do know that Alan died then in the street with three bullets to his chest. Witness testimony is conflicted and Masso's testimony - in which he admits to essentially having a PTSD episode before firing his weapon(1) - is riddled with inconsistencies and is contradicted by the evidence. The fact that Miguel Masso took one of the four shots he fired in his own foot further compounds the fog. A camera might have shown what Masso should have seen, rather than what he says he thought he saw.

Continue Reading

Mon Apr 27, 2015 at 04:15 PM PDT

I'm Now Pro-TPP and Heart Surgery

by Softlanded

Reposted from Softlanded by PhilJD Editor's Note: DKos snark that's actually clever! I thought this was a particularly witty comment, lol: -- PhilJD

I'm Thinking of having me some good ol' open heart surgery.

A Sunday New York Times article by Gregory Mankiw, Economists Actually Agree on This: The Wisdom of Free Trade presents such a magnificent argument that trade agreements are all exactly the same and always good, that I can't help but conclude by the same logic that it would be a great idea for me to have open heart surgery. After all, medical researchers and cardiac specialists are almost unanimous in saying that the surgery is statically beneficial to the patients who get it done. Since I'm a big believer in science, say no more, I don't have any need to get down in the weeds with all the 'why' questions. I'm in excellent health now and can't wait to experience how fantastic I'll feel afterwards.

cartoon illustration of surgical scene, with trays of instruments and exposed skin of a patient marked with an
We're fast-tracking my surgery to the OR, where I'm told I will be given ample time to study the details of the procedure and make a final decision on whether or not to go forward with it, once I'm on the table, strapped down, and ready for the gas.

No worries. Mostly, . . .


Free Trade Is:

2%5 votes
6%13 votes
5%10 votes
85%163 votes

| 191 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

It wasn't the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day. Or even the Eleventh Month. It was, though, the 14th Day of Fourth Month of the Fourth Year in the War to Save the Berkeley Post Office and Fight Postal Privatization.

On that day, April 14th, 2015, Federal District Court Judge William Alsup proclaimed a stalemate. He declared that the lawsuit, City of Berkeley v United States Postal Service, which sought to enjoin the Postal Service from selling the Post Office building at 2000 Allston Way, was moot - for lack of there being a buyer. (The prospective buyer, a local developer, had backed out from the purchase in December, 2014.)

But in conjunction with declaring the sale moot, he forced the Postal Service to admit that they were rescinding their decision to relocate Postal Services elsewhere, out of the building. More importantly, he made it clear that should the Postal Service attempt to sell the building at any point in the next five years they must provide 42 days notice and, should the City of Berkeley refile the suit at that point, the case would end up back in court before him.

Two days later, eight god-warrior enemies of privatization sat on the (still public!) steps of the Post Office, relieved yet still wary.

 photo peeps-after-dismissal-4-16-15_zpsgujuwfsx.jpg

From left to right, back to front: Thor, Ares, Indra, Pakhet, Athena, Ku, Kali, Tumatauenga.
(appearing in mortal guise all)

Continue Reading
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

In Oakland, California, every McDonald's in the city but one was shut down beginning at 8:00 AM for an hour in a coordinated  show of force to demand $15 and a union.

All the actions then converged on the remaining McDonald's - at 45th & Telegraph - for a final shutdown action.  Robert Reich, UC Professor and former Secretary of Labor, visited the action and may have spoken.

This afternoon at 1:00 PM there will be a march from Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland to Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley Campus, where the largest rally ever in the East Bay for the Fight for $15 will be being held.  Thousands are expected, converging from all over Northern California.

Below are tweetpics from actions around the globe on this International Day of Action in the fight for a living wage.

Continue Reading
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

 photo berkeley-homeless-3-27-15_zpslcmcmrkm.jpg

There are those who call Berkeley's streets home. And then there is the Berkeley Downtown Association. Those on Berkeley's streets probably don't think much at all about the BDA per se  - they just want a safe place to keep their stuff and to sleep. The BDA, on the other hand, thinks about the homeless all the time. The BDA wants development. It does not want the homeless in downtown Berkeley, and while it will go to great lengths to sound compassionate and reasonable about their plight, it has gone to even greater lengths to eject the homeless from Berkeley's downtown.

 photo berkeley-homeless-sleep-not-crime_zpsbxjxme2o.jpg

Two years ago the BDA sponsored and financed a sit-and-lie ballot initiative to criminalize homelessness. It narrowly failed.

Around that time the BDA also created its own army of "hospitality ambassadors" who patrol downtown Berkeley cleaning up trash (good), assisting tourists (good) and harassing the homeless (bad). They had been restrained in how much harassment they could get away with without raising the hackles of Berkeley's civil libertarians until... the number of homeless began to increase. And increase some more. And "Something had to be done." Then...

Just weeks ago the BDA exerted its political muscle and convinced six of the nine members of Berkeley's City Council (they didn't need much convincing) to put into motion the process for passage of criminalizing ordinances that would push the homeless away and effectively into Alameda County's jails - to Declare War on the Homeless (Part I).

Although nothing has yet been enacted, in beginning the process the BDA and the City Council sent a loud and clear message to the Berkeley police, BDA's ambassadors, and the online trolls who have no other purpose in life but to write nasty and subtly threatening comments about the homeless: it was open season on people in the streets.

And so this came to pass:

Berkeley 'Hospitality Ambassador' Punches Homeless Man in Face, Continues the Beating. Homeless Man Arrested.

We watch as one of BDA's ambassadors and a man face off, just inches apart and screaming at each other (obvious no-nos to begin with on the part of the so-called ambassador). Then the BDA employee delivers a hard right to the man's jaw, and commences pummelling him. Mayhem ensues.

All this would have been bad enough, if not for what happened afterwards. The ambassadors reported the incident to their supervisors but blatently lied about what happened.

"((The)) report did not represent the extent and severity of the altercation, describing the event as an act of self-defense by the ambassador"
Why not lie, after all, for who would believe homeless people over them? (Not unlike a number of instances of police reports describing beatings for which video was later revealed)

Hours after the confrontation, on Friday evening, March 20th, the police came and arrested the homeless duo, taking them off to jail for the weekend. On Monday, they were arraigned and for whatever reasons copped to various misdemeanors in a plea deal.

... both already had entered no contest pleas Monday for misdemeanor battery, and were sentenced to two years of probation. According to the district attorney's office, they received credit for time served, will have to pay into a restitution fund, and will be subject to law enforcement searches and prohibited from possessing weapons. They also were ordered to stay away from the downtown Berkeley CVS.
Unbeknownst to almost everyone the above video had been recorded, and it was posted sometime on Sunday. Not 'til Thursday, however, did it get any attention when a local newspaper, Berkelyside, wrote up the story and embedded the video on their website.

 photo berkeley-homeless-flyer-dba_zps08sjwnrq.jpg

As you might imagine, then the shit hit the fan. The BDA ambassador who threw the first punch was fired and the other one suspended. The story got picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and The UK's Guardian in Friday's editions. The youtube video has been viewed almost 35,000 times (as this is being published). BDA officials profusely apologized (mostly for being caught on video, we assume). Of course it was too late - the two victims were now injected (or re-injected) into the criminal injustice system.

The City Councilor who sponsored the new legislation stated during the debate on it (to guffaws) that she did not wish to criminalize the homeless. And yet even before the proposals are implemented we have prima facie evidence that, unlike Dorothy, her wishes are not coming true (or maybe they are).

 photo berkeley-homeless-keys-not-handcuffs_zpscddp7ov2.jpg

Let's be clear: by the very act of proposing such legislation, let alone enacting it, something similar to what happened here was bound to happen, if not sooner, then later.  And it may in fact have already happened more than once - just not caught on video.

We've soon enough seen the result of effective carte blanche given to the DBA and the Berkeley Police to "deal" with the homeless and "enforce our laws." Do we need to wait until someone is much more seriously injured, or even killed, before realizing and effecting what study after study has shown - criminalizing the homeless is not the answer.



These pictures were first published on the First They Came for the Homeless Facebook, credited to 'Menefee.'  

FTCftH also posted the following statement:

The war on the poor is happening now in Berkeley. The Downtown Business Association represents the money. The people who don't have any don't count. Get the homeless away from the businesses. Make it so they can't be on the sidewalk. This is the plan. Unfortunately for them, we know it's our sidewalk too. And we aren't giving up our rights because of a few greedy people.
Statement from an East Bay Community Law Center legal activist:
Osha Neumann, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, said, "Multiple times in the past couple months, private citizens have recorded Berkeley Police arresting homeless people with disabilities in ways that resulted in injuries. This incident differs only in that the shirt is yellow rather than blue.

Just last week, the DBA brought to Berkeley's City Council a slate of six new anti-homeless laws that criminalize everyday activities. This isn't a coincidence. When the DBA pushes for criminalization, police and ambassadors feel pressured to use force to push homeless citizens out of public spaces. We don't want to see just the one guy who got caught fired: We want the DBA to end its campaign of criminalization and brutality against homeless people. If they want to address homelessness, then they need to be good faith members of the community, and participate in public processes like the Homeless Taskforce."

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar


 photo berkeley-post-office-generic_zpsa20d581c.jpg

For at least two and half years The City of Berkeley and its residents have been fighting the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way. They even went so far as to rezone land in the Historic District the Post Office is a part of to preclude commercial use of the properties within it. (This would theoretically make it less attractive for the United States Postal Service (USPS) to sell the property.)  The saga of this fight, the ensuing Occupation of the downtown Post Office, and the national fight against the privatization of Postal Services has been documented in numerous diaries here at Daily Kos by yours truly. (references herein and at the bottom).

In early November, 2014, the City of Berkeley and the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed suits in tandem to stop the sale of the downtown Post Office, immediately after USPS announced that they had a buyer under contract for the property. The suit claims that USPS has failed to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA), bypassing proper procedures (such as an environmental review and proper protection mechanisms for New Deal artwork inside the building) in its haste to sell.

 photo polb-stop-the-sale_zps0e6df9c3.jpg

Several weeks later the buyer backed out of the sale, and, to make a long story short, the Post Office then filed a "Motion to Dismiss" on, among other grounds, the claim that since the Allston Way Post Office was no longer under contract to be sold, there was no case. Berkeley countered with the assertion that the Post Office still intended to sell the building, as evidenced by its April 19th, 2013 "Final Determination" to relocate services out of the building and ultimately sell it, the USPS's July 18th, 2014 decision on appeal to uphold its April 19th decision, and the fact that the property was still listed for sale on the USPS's website of available-for-purchase buildings.

On March 26th, after submission of written arguments and rebuttals, Judge William Alsup of the United States District Court, Northern California heard oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss.

Continue Reading
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

 photo death-penalty-button_zps8nghdi9i.jpg

Yes, he was convicted of first degree murder some 20 years ago. But no, both on general principles and in this specific circumstance, he shouldn't be executed.  As Mother Jones reports

Cecil Clayton, 74, who had parts of his brain removed after an accident 40 years ago, is scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday. He was convicted of first-degree murder after killing a cop in 1996...

In 1972... a piece of wood... pierced his skull and entered his brain. Doctors eventually had to remove nearly one-fifth of his frontal lobe - the part of the brain that is crucial to decision making, mood, and impulse control. Clayton was completely transformed: His IQ dropped to 76, and he developed serious depression, hallucinations, confusion, paranoia, and thoughts of suicide...

Missouri law states that a person cannot be executed if, as a result of mental disease or defect, he or she is unable to "understand the nature and purpose of the punishment about to be imposed upon him." ...

What is the evidence that he cannot understand his impending execution?  It spans decades...
Clayton was officially diagnosed with chronic brain syndrome in 1983, which includes psychosis, paranoia, depression, schizophrenia, and decreased mental function...

In 2008, Dr. William Logan, commissioned by the defense to examine Clayton... argued - unsuccessfully- that Clayton was unfit for execution:

While Mr. Clayton knows the State plans to execute him for killing Deputy Castetter, he believes his legal situation is instead a test of his faith and that God will not allow the punishment to occur as God has chosen him for another mission. Hence, he has no concept of a need for clemency, or capacity to understand matters in extenuation, arguments for executive clemency or rational reasons why the sentence should not be carried out.
By 2012, Clayton's mental state further declined because of his advancing age... "His dementia has worsened secondary to aging and to his long term cardiovascular disease. His insight and judgment are further impaired..."

As recently as February of this year, Clayton's cellmate said that Clayton was unable to operate the telephone on his own and could not understand how to order from the prison canteen...

Nonetheless, on St. Patrick's Day...
On February 6, the state set an execution date of March 17 for Clayton.
I tweeted the other day that

To the not guilty we can add in the tally of those who commit homicides but should not have been convicted of 1st degree murder because they were incapable of premeditation (as it seems perhaps this person might not have been, despite the jury verdict).  Then, like Clayton, there are those who may have deliberately committed the crime but in the ten, twenty or thirty years it takes to carry out the execution sentence, no longer have the capacity to understand what is happening.

And let's not even discuss the costs of death row and our death penalty legal system.

At least 18 states do not have an enforceable death penalty statute and others, such as California, haven't executed anyone in a fairly long time.

153 countries have either abolished the death penalty or not used it in at least 10 years.

Let's not execute Mr. Clayton... or, into the future, anyone else.

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Not sure whether to be happy or depressed.

Prosecutors are dropping the case against a US woman who spent more than 30 years in prison for a 1976 murder...

The FBI say DNA found on a cigarette butt at the Reno crime scene suggests the real killer is a former Oregon prison inmate, Rodney Halbower...

Woods, now 64, was convicted in 1980 and again 5 yrs later. The convictions were based largely on the confession she made in 1979 at the psychiatric hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana...

Woods doesn't remember acknowledging the killing while hospitalised... "I'm told it was a product of wanting to get a private room," public defender Maizie Pusich said. "She was being told she wasn't sufficiently dangerous to qualify, and within a short period she was claiming she had killed a woman in Reno."

Maybe I have to be both.
"She is delighted," Pusich told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "She is having probably the best day of her life because she knows that this is all over."
So many are convicted on the basis of false, coerced confessions by police and DAs with no accountability. So many are essentially forced to plead guilty to something to get out of the hell of the justice system. So many are gunned down in the street by police, never getting a chance to be convicted or found innocent.  So many who do survive and make it into prison are mentally ill. So many - 80,000 - are caged in solitary confinement.

The Criminal Injustice System.  It is aptly named.

Continue Reading
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Yup. Today is the day.  The minimum wage hike to $12.25/hr, with accruing paid sick leave, passing as it did with more than 80% (!!) support in November, is now in effect in Oakland, CA. It began 3/2/15, at 12:00 midnight.

As of today, it's the highest generally applicable minimum wage in the country.

 photo Fight15sq1-150x150_zps590e0318.jpg

Politicians didn't have the courage to pass it. Hell, even after it was obvious and inevitable that it would be on the ballot and that it would pass, not one member of the Oakland City Council or the Mayor had the guts to even introduce equivalent legislation. It took a grassroots campaign, led by community orgs, non-profits and labor unions, gathering more than 30,000 signatures over the course of three months, to make it happen.

California's minimum wage is $9 now. Neighboring Berkeley has a $10/hr minimum wage right now, going up to $11/hr in Occtober and then to $12.53/hr a year later. Emeryville, tucked between Oakland and Berkeley, is contemplating a $14.13/hr minimum wage. San Francisco will match Oakland's $12.25/hr in May, and then continue on up gradually to $15/hr by 2018. Oakland's minimum wage will rise with the Consumer Price Index yearly beginning in January.

Even Walmart now thinks a $7.25/hr minimum wage is not enough, and even the majority of Republicans believe that raising it to $12.50/hr by 2020 is a good idea. Yet most of the nation's minimum wage workers still struggle at the Federal minimum wage or a pittance above it. It's time for the rest of the country to follow Oakland's, San Francisco's and Seattle's example.

People say that this is an experiment - never before has a minimum wage risen so steeply in one shot. If so it is the best kind of human experimentation, a science that will leave a lot of people better off.

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

 photo rolling-jubilee-flyer_zpsbjb4iz3p.jpg

It began with a crazy idea more than two years ago. A bunch of Occupy Wall Streeter's decided to try to raise $50K and then try to buy some defaulted-on medical debt at pennies on the dollar on the shady debt-trading exchanges, then forgive it. They called the scheme the Rolling Jubilee. They failed miserably. So badly, in fact, that they ended up raising more than $700K, got worldwide attention and, over the next two years had to buy up and forgive over $14,000,000 in both medical and student loan debt.

Now a spinoff group called the Debt Collective, an offshoot of the Rolling Jubilee (which is itself an offshoot of Strike Debt, which is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street) has come up with another hairbrained scheme:






 photo never-pay-off-my-debt_zpsd9orhxeg.png

From today's press release by the Debt Collective:

Today, Rolling Jubilee erased oveer $13 million ($13,384,642.14) of student debt owed by 9,438 people across the United States, while former students of Corinthian Colleges Inc. declared a debt strike by refusing to pay their federal loans.

These former students - who call themselves the Corinthian 15 - are the first ever to take such an unprecedented stand against the current student debt crisis. With nearly 40 million student loan borrowers carrying outstanding balances today, and with default rates rising, the strike by the Corinthian 15 is a manifestation of a deeply flawed system.


The Corinthian strike is the first act of the Debt Collective, a pilot debtor's union that evolved out of the Rolling Jubilee campaign. The Debt Collective is a platform for organization, advocacy, and resistance by debtors. "Just as the labor movement demands jobs, higher pay, a safe work environment, and time off, the Debt Collective will challenge the 1% creditor class by empowering members to renegotiate, resist, and refuse unfair debts while advocating for real solutions including free education and universal health care," said Thomas Gokey, a Debt Collective organizer. "Alone, our debts overwhelm us. Together, they make us powerful," says member Laura Hanna. "We invite everyone to join us at and become a part of this unprecedented effort to unite debtors. You are not a loan."

Continue Reading
Reposted from PhilJD by PhilJD

The murders in Copenhagen, coming so soon after the Charlie Hebdo horror, have made it crystal-clear--if clarity was needed--that European anti-Semitism hardly ended with the defeat of the Third Reich. Condemnation of the murders has of course been universal or very nearly so, but many have nonetheless followed their condemnation and condolences with a clearly stated (or tentatively whispered) "but."

But Israel...

as though the policies of the Israeli state somehow "explain," in whole or in part, the mindset of the killers. The "explanations" are always carefully coupled with outrage at the methods used in Copenhagen and Paris, but the linkage between killing in Europe and killing in Gaza is often simply assumed. On DKos, this has led in turn to multiple diaries decrying any such linkage.

The problem is real, even if those diaries are in various ways flawed expositions of it. I absolutely agree with their underlying theme, that any linkage between the murder of Jews in Europe and Israeli war crimes in Gaza is a kind of victim-blaming. It draws on pervasive and longstanding undercurrents in Christian and Muslim societies about "Jewish conspiracies" and international Jewish solidarity that transcends the nationality of individual Jews. Targeting Jews in Europe for the crimes of the Israeli state only makes "sense" at all if Jews are a supra-national group concerned first with the fate of other Jews. Are those who link Europe and Israel this way necessarily anti-Semites? Obviously not; some are themselves Jews (and I'm not interested--here or ever--in discussing specious canards about "self-hating Jews,") and gentile Kossacks who hold that view are mostly people of goodwill. Many are friends of mine. This diary isn't any sort of a veiled j'accuse.

And yet...

A poster here aptly noted that the IRA didn't kill Americans of English descent, nor did Basque separatists target victims in Uruguay. This surprises no one. Why then is the linkage between Jews in Europe and the existence and policies of the Israeli state taken for granted by so many otherwise thoughtful progressives? Why... unless Jews are "different" from other people? Something disturbing is going on here.

I want to briefly discuss one aspect of this. If one accepts--as I do--that gay people have primary standing in defining homophobia, and AAs have primary standing in pointing out what is or isn't racism, and women are uniquely qualified to understand sexism, then surely Jews have primary standing in defining and pointing out anti-Semitism. To argue otherwise is to place Jews in a "special" category among historically oppressed groups. That's a very slippery slope. If a white Kossack defends another white user here against a charge of racism made by an AA Kossack, they are--properly--told that black Americans know racism when they see it. Do Jews know anti-Semitism when we see it?

The slope gets more slippery, very quickly. I agree with those who argue that some Jews are far too quick to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. If we accept however that some Jews, some of the time, cry wolf about anti-Semitism, in fact use Jew-hatred in an appallingly cynical way, as a rhetorical weapon to defuse criticism of Israel, it follows that some AAs, some of the time, use racism in a similar way. To argue otherwise is to once again put Jews in a separate category and deny us the primacy given other oppressed groups in defining our own oppression. I'm not at all comfortable taking either side of that argument.

Where does that leave the notion of "primacy?" Who decides when someone is crying wolf? I have no easy answers. I haven't even asked all the questions.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.


Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site