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This evening's music features r&b and soul singer Joe Tex. Enjoy!
Joe Tex - Show Me
"The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder."
-- Richard J. Daley
News and Opinion
Michael Brown protests in Ferguson met with rubber bullets and teargas
A heavily armed, militarised police force fired teargas and rubber bullets to force hundreds of protesters out of the centre of a small Missouri town on Wednesday, as a crackdown on demonstrations over the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old intensified.
Dozens of officers, some carrying assault rifles, advanced with a pair of armoured trucks on the young and predominantly African American crowd in Fergsuon, after two glass bottles were thrown at their lines from a largely peaceful protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, who was black, by an officer from the city's overwhelmingly white police department.
>For hours, police snipers trained their weapons on demonstrators who protested with their hands up as an emblem of peaceful protest. When events escalated on a fourth night of tension in this city of just 21,000 people, protesters described being subjected to military-style tactics as they fled through gas-filled residential side-streets.
Police clearing the main drag of Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, also arrested two reporters, including one from the Washington Post. Marty Baron, its editor, condemned the arrest as "an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news". The Huffington Post, whose reporter was also detained, said the journalists were subjected to "militant aggression" and treated as "enemy combatants". A camera crew from al-Jazeera America said they were shot by rubber bullets.
The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson
The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarzation” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”
The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.
It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.
As is true for most issues of excessive and abusive policing, police militarization is overwhelmingly and disproportionately directed at minorities and poor communities, ensuring that the problem largely festers in the dark. Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized. But those who bear the brunt of this transformation are those who lack loud megaphones; their complaints of the inevitable and severe abuse that results have largely been met with indifference.
If anything positive can come from the Ferguson travesties, it is that the completely out-of-control orgy of domestic police militarization receives long-overdue attention and reining in.
Ferguson is what happens when white suburban cops get weapons of war
You can argue about the looting and the brick-throwing. You can argue about what constitutes a race “riot” these days – and why the hell we are seeing teargas every other evening in the suburbs, or Jim Crow-reminiscent police dogs in the year 2014. There are a lot of things worth arguing about now that the world’s eyes are focused on Ferguson, Missouri, a town where two-thirds of the population is black and 50 of the 53 police officers are white, where one of those officers gunned down an unarmed black kid in broad daylight.
But here is something that makes no sense, that is inarguable: Ferguson (population: 21,135) has about 40 robberies per year, a couple of homicides, almost no arson cases and a crime rate only a bit higher than the national average. Indeed, the town’s crime rate was going down as of two years ago, when the last major data is available. Ditto in neighboring St Louis. ...
On Saturday night, as people took to the streets to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the Ferguson Police Department, the chief of which reportedly displays a confederate flag in his home, had this at his disposal:
What is happening in Ferguson is exactly what opponents of the rise in military-style policing across America have long feared: when the feds arm white local cops with weapons of war and their superiors encourage them not to just play dress-up but to use their new war toys, it is inevitable that ordinary citizens – especially citizens of color – will get treated as the enemy. As we’ve seen in Ferguson, when military might comes to Main Street, “hands-up, don’t shoot” quickly turns into a quasi-declaration of war on a grieving community.
Washington Post reporter arrested in Ferguson
Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post who has been reporting on the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., was detained Wednesday evening by police in Ferguson.
He and other reporters were working in a McDonald’s in Ferguson when about half a dozen police officers came into the restaurant, Lowery said. Some officers were in regular uniforms, while others were dressed in riot gear and carrying assault weapons. ...
Lowery was directed to leave through one door, and then told to go through another, at which point his bag fell off of his shoulder.
“‘Okay, let’s take him,’” one of the officers said, according to Lowery.
Lowery said that at this point, he was slammed against a soda machine and plastic cuffs were placed on his wrists. He was trying to make it clear he was not resisting arrest, but it did not appear the officers believed him.
“That is probably the single point at which I’ve been more afraid than at any point.” Lowery said after. “More afraid than the tear gas and rubber bullets, more afraid during the riot police. I know of too many instances where someone who was not resisting arrest was assaulted or killed.”
Released without any charges, no paperwork whatsoever— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014
Got no explaination at any point why in custody other than "trespassing" - at a mcdonalds where we were customers— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014
Refusing to give us any names of the officers— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014
Anonymous Releases Identity of Ferguson Officer Who Killed Michael Brown
Officer's name is Bryan P. Willman
Hacker collective Anonymous broke into Ferguson, Missouri police department computers on Thursday and released the name of the officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last weekend: Bryan P. Willman.
US and Britain call off rescue of Yazidis on Mount Sinjar
The US and Britain are stepping back from launching a risky military mission to rescue thousands of Iraqis stranded on Mount Sinjar after claiming that special forces on the ground found their condition was better than expected.
Declaring that the US bombing has succeeded in beating back forces from the Islamic State (Isis), the Pentagon said the planned rescue mission had been ruled out for the moment.
A small complement of special forces and US aid workers landed on Mount Sinjar to assess the situation of the Iraqi Yazidis – who for days have received air drops of food, water and medicine.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said late on Wednesday: "An evacuation mission is far less likely."
US 'rejects' Maliki's bid to keep power in Iraq in favour of new prime minister
The Obama administration signaled on Wednesday it will ignore Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to cling to the premiership of Iraq.
Maliki, defiant after Shiite politician Haider al-Abadi was named Iraq’s prime minister-designate on Monday, said in a televised speech that Abadi’s impending appointment “had no value”. It was a rejection of his two major foreign patrons, the United States and Iran, both of whom have moved on to focus on Abadi.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf said the administration “firmly rejects any efforts to achieve outcomes via coercion or manipulation”, a warning to Maliki, whose armed loyalists moved to secure key Baghdad infrastructure on Sunday before Maliki told them to stand down.
Harf was dismissive in referring to Maliki – a dramatic reversal, considering that the US was instrumental in installing him in power in 2006.
“Prime minister-designate al-Abadi is moving forward as part of this process, and that’s what we’ll be focused on in the coming days,” Harf said.
Israel and Hamas agree to extend ceasefire by five days
Hamas and Israel have agreed five more days' truce to allow further talks after a tense final countdown to the end of the current 72-hour ceasefire on Wednesday night.
The current truce, which is the eighth bid to end the five-week long war, had been due to expire at midnight, and rocket fire on Israel two hours before its end prompted fears of fresh violence.
There was confusion immediately after the extension of the ceasefire was supposed to come into effect as well, with a series of rockets targeting southern Israel and Israeli military launching air strikes in Gaza in retaliation.
Hamas, the Islamist organisation in power in Gaza, had earlier denied they had launched rockets.
There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.
Gamal Shobky, the Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, told the Guardian shortly before midnight there would be a five-day ceasefire to give more opportunity for negotiation. "We are very close but there are still some things to resolve." ...
The two sides, talking through Egyptian mediators, appeared to have made progress during the three days of talks, although significant gaps remain between their positions, Palestinian officials in Gaza and Cairo said earlier in the day.
Following Israel's Assault on Gaza, 'Freedom Flotilla' to Sail Against Siege
Following Israel's latest military assault on Gaza, civil society groups from around the world say they are moving forward with plans to break the blockade on this besieged strip by sailing a "freedom flotilla" into Gaza Port.
At a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey this week, the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and numerous other groups came to the conclusion that "it is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza," according to a press statement. They committed to making the voyage during 2014, which has been coined by the United Nations as the "International Year of Solidarity With the Palestinian People."
While the group did not publicly disclose a launch location or date, they announced that they expect participation from civil society organizations across the globe — from Greece to South Africa to Jordan to Malaysia—as a counter to "the complicity of world governments" in the blockade on Gaza.
"Calls to end the blockade of Gaza need to move from words to actions," said Ann Ighe, chairperson of Ship to Gaza and member of the FFC. "We invite all interested citizens worldwide to participate in this initiative in any way you can." ...
Previous attempts to sail against the siege have been met with violent attacks, including a 2010 Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara ship sailing from Turkey that killed nine people and injured dozens, sparking global condemnation.
Netanyahu indicates Israel won’t cooperate with UN probe
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC), which this week appointed a commission to investigate Israel’s conduct during the month-long Operation Protective Edge, lends legitimacy to such terror groups as the Islamic State and Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.
Netanyahu said the commission should look elsewhere, not Israel, for war crimes, and intimated that Israel would not cooperate with its members, although he did not explicitly rule out such cooperation.
Most ministers oppose any dealings with the UN team, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said earlier Wednesday that Israel should not cooperate with the probe.
Israel’s State Comptroller Yosef Shapira announced he would launch an investigation into the military and political leadership’s handling of Operation Protective Edge. Analysts have noted that the holding of a credible Israeli investigation into war crimes allegations could have weight in any international legal battle.
Over Arab objections, Israel to vice-chair UN panel on Palestinian refugees
Israel overcame a coordinated effort by Arab states on Wednesday to thwart its appointment as vice chair of a UN committee dealing with issues such as Palestinian refugees and human rights, and will serve in that capacity at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.
Mordehai Amihai won the appointment to represent the Western European and Other Groups voting bloc on the 4th (Decolonization) Committee with 74 votes, while candidates from Belgium and Norway each garnered one vote. He received staunch backing from Britain, Canada and the US, all of which expressed disappointment with the decision to call the vote.
Of the 193 member states, 68 abstained, while 15 other votes were declared invalid. The threshold for Amihai’s appointment was 39 votes. ...
The secret vote had initially been called for last week by Qatar, which said that Israel was unfit to serve as vice chair of a committee dealing with Palestinian refugees and investigations of its own practices because “its track record was rife with murder and its occupation had lasted more than 66 years.”
Saudi Arabia argued that Israel’s appointment was the “moral equivalent of placing the apartheid regime of South Africa in charge of a committee to end racism.”
Russian convoy stops close to Ukraine border
A large Russian convoy reportedly carrying humanitarian aid has arrived close to the border with eastern Ukraine, near a crossing point controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
The route of the 280-truck convoy, which set off from the Moscow region on Tuesday, has been closely followed by journalists, observers and the international community amid fears it is a Trojan horse-style military invasion.
Ukraine has said it will not allow the trucks, escorted by Russian soldiers, to enter its territory. But Moscow-backed rebels are in charge of the Izvarino crossing point, near where the convoy has stopped.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was informed by Moscow last week of the shipment, said it still had no details of where the convoy was heading. Its destination appears to be Luhansk, one of two major cities still controlled by rebels, and the scene of fierce fighting between the Ukrainian army and separatist forces.
The convoy appears to have halted 25 miles (40km) away from the international border.
Convoy about here, some 40 mins driving from separatist-controlled border, according to journos following pic.twitter.com/rvkHNjDGE3— Glenn Kates (@gkates) August 14, 2014
UN identifies escalation of violence in Ukraine as death toll doubles
The death toll from conflict in eastern Ukraine has doubled in the past fortnight, the UN's human rights office said on Wednesday, as international wrangling continued over a controversial Russian aid convoy to the region.
The UN office said its "very conservative estimates" suggested the death toll has risen to 2,086 by the beginning of this week, up from 1129 on 26 July. About 5,000 people had been injured, it said, in figures that represented "a clear escalating trend" of violence in the east.
The Ukrainian army and Kiev-backed volunteer battalions have been on the offensive against pro-Russia rebels in the east, pushing them back into the regional capitals of Donetsk and Luhansk and clearing them from smaller towns en route. But the tactics from both sides have been controversial, with shelling of residential areas leading to daily civilian casualties. The UN figures included civilians, Ukrainian soldiers and armed rebels.
There were reports on Wednesday that Igor Strelkov, the self-proclaimed defence minister of the rebel Donetsk People's Republic, had been badly wounded in fighting. Strelkov, a Russian citizen, has led the separatists' military operation against Ukrainian government troops. Ukraine says Strelkov is a senior officer with the Kremlin's GRU military spy agency.
Snowden: NSA accidentally caused Syria's internet blackout in 2012
The surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden has alleged that a 2012 incident that took Syria’s internet offline was caused by a National Security Agency blunder.
In an interview with Wired magazine, Snowden said the elite NSA hacking unit, called Tailored Access Operations, accidentally cut off Syria’s internet while attempting to infiltrate it.
The unit allegedly attempted to install an exploit in the hardware of Syria’s main internet service provider that would have provided NSA with mass access to internet usage, communications and patterns in Syria, where a civil war was developing into an Islamist insurgency, destabilising the Middle East.
Instead of gaining mass visibility into the internet habits of Syrians, Snowden alleged, a glitch took Syria offline.
On 29 November 2012, the analysis firm Renesys reported that 92% of the routed networks providing internet connectivity for Syria, 77 of them, had gone dark.
At the time, the outage was widely reported, including by the Guardian, to have been at the instigation of the Syrian government, in order to destabilise opposition groups.
ACLU Threatens Lawsuit Over Violations of Chelsea Manning's Rights
The medical needs and therefore constitutional rights of Chelsea Manning continue to be ignored during her incarceration, a fact that has prompted the threat of a lawsuit by her lawyer and the American Civil Liberties Union. ...
"Despite having received at least four diagnoses of Gender Dysphoria, Ms. Manning has received no treatment," the ACLU and Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, write in a letter dated Monday and sent to officials at Ft. Leavenworth as well as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. "Specifically, Ms. Manning's requests for hormone therapy and clothing and grooming standards consistent with her female gender, have all been ignored," the letter continues.
"The Army's failure to comply with the treatment recommendations and protocols for Ms. Manning's Gender Dypshoria violates her well-established constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment."
In the letter, the ACLU and Coombs issue a Sept. 4 deadline for a response indicating that Manning's treatment would be addressed; otherwise, her lawyers write that they will "pursue litigation to vindicate her constitutional rights."
Reid schedules vote in September on amending the Constitution
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set up a procedural vote for September on a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics.
Before adjourning for a five-week recess on Friday, Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 19, which is designed to overturn two recent Supreme Court decisions that allowed corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals to spend more money on federal elections.
The procedural vote on the constitutional amendment is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 8.
The amendment from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) would authorize Congress and the states to regulate and limit fundraising and spending on federal candidates.
It would also prohibit the Supreme Court from reversing any future campaign finance legislation passed by Congress.
The amendment would need to be passed by two-thirds of the Senate and the House and then be ratified by three quarters of the states.
McConnell said the vote is a political stunt by Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
The Evening Greens
Mount Polley mine spill: a hazard of Canada's industry-friendly attitude?
A dam at a waste pond on the site of a British Columbia mine burst last week, releasing 4.5m cubic meters of potentially toxic slurry into virtually untouched forest
The scale of the devastation only became apparent from the air. A dam at a waste pond on the site of a British Columbia open-pit mine had burst, releasing 10m cubic meters of water and 4.5m cubic meters of potentially toxic slurry into virtually untouched forest, lakes and rivers into an area of Canada populated mostly by the indigenous First Nations peoples. Soda Creek First Nations chief Bev Sellars took a helicopter tour to assess the scale of the disaster. “It looked like an avalanche, but avalanches don’t have toxic waste in them,” she said.
Government reports about the incident at the Mount Polley mine on 4 August have been cautiously optimistic, saying the surrounding water is likely safe to drink, and that wildlife will not be significantly impacted by the spill.
But the industry-friendly attitude that has become a hallmark of both the British Columbia and federal governments in Canada over the past decade has led to scepticism. Local activists and residents say they are waiting for data of their own to determine the safety of the surrounding environment. In the meantime, just over a week on from the spill, they are working to determine why it happened in the first place.
“This is a huge operation that breached because the government was negligent and the company was negligent,” said Cayoose Creek First Nations chief Michelle Edwards. “People don’t understand what this is going to do to us up here.” ...
[A]ccording to experts, the full extent of the damage may remain unknown for years or even decades, as toxins from the mine slowly build up in the environment.
“Water will continue to run through literally tons of this sediment and grass will grow through the sediment,” said Brian Olding, an environmental consultant who authored a report on the Mount Polley Mine in 2011. “Imagine if a moose eats that grass, and then an aboriginal person comes and shoots that moose. Then we have a food contamination issue on our hands.”
Mount Polley: Mining is disaster
The Mount Polley mining disaster in B.C. has barely been sustained in national news, let alone break in international news. This is despite the fact that mining experts are cautioning that the incident is the largest mining disaster in Canadian, possibly even global, history. Where it has made news, the incident is exceptionalized as a single accident, a failure, or the incompetence of one company. The notorious Canadian mining industry, actively supported by provincial and federal governments, has largely escaped public and media scrutiny. ...
Imperial Metals operates the Mount Polley gold and copper mine. An environmental engineering firm, the Shushwap Nation Tribal Council, a former foreman, and the Ministry of the Environment have all confirmed that Imperial Metals was warned during previous site inspections. Yet Imperial Metals was allowed to keep operating, perhaps due to its $233,710 in donations to the B.C. Liberal Party. Imperial Metal's largest shareholder is billionaire N. Murray Edwards, who is on the board of directors for Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (who were under fire last year for four oil spills in Northeast Alberta). Six companies that Edwards has a major interest in donated $482, 857 to the B.C. Liberals. ...
There are 20 operating mines with similar tailings pond dams in B.C. Yet The Tyee reports that since the B.C. Liberals took office in 2001, mine inspections have reduced by nearly half while environmental orders have decreased by over 90 per cent. Furthermore, there is no requirement in B.C. that mining companies have emergency response plans including insurance for such spills. ...
Within Canada, Stephen Harper has changed key environmental regulations. Though not previously used, since 2006 the Conservative government has been approving mining projects under Schedule 2. Introduced by the Liberal government, Schedule 2 is a loophole in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation of the federal Fisheries Act that allows metal mining corporations to use lakes and rivers as toxic dump sites. Mining companies have applied to reclassify at least 13 natural water bodies across the country as "tailings impoundment areas" to get around the anti-dumping prohibition.
This loophole is in addition to the long list of environmental changes and Indigenous treaty rights in the two federal omnibus bills, Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, that are designed to ensure easy access to resources on Indigenous lands. In true colonial fashion that perpetuates the racist myth of terra nullius, Canada is one of the few countries with a free-entry (a.k.a. Wild West) model of mineral tenure, where the mining industry is given free and virtually unlimited entry, access, and tenure to "stake a claim" on a first-come, first-serve basis without public consultation, environmental assessment, or Indigenous consent.
'Remarkable' warming reported in Central California coastal waters
Ocean temperatures along the Central California coast experienced a "remarkable" warming period during the first three weeks of July, leading to unusual encounters with some fish species, scientists reported.
The warmer ocean correlated with weaker winds, which reduced coastal upwelling, allowing warmer water to move inshore, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ...
The upper ocean within 50 to 100 miles of the coast has been 3.6 to about 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than what’s typical for this time of year, mostly south of the Golden Gate, he said. ...
The warm water reached depths of 20 to 40 meters, allowing "unusual encounters" with ocean sunfish and jellyfish called “sea nettles,” scientists with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center reported during a survey on the Tomales Bay and Pigeon Point.
The jellyfish were also spotted farther north than they are typically seen.
If the warming continues this summer, he said more subtropical species like ocean sunfish, albacore, dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin or bluefin tuna, or humboldt squid could move into water near the shore. The species typically avoid those waters when it is colder.
Tibet's glaciers at their warmest in 2,000 years, report says
The Tibetan plateau, whose glaciers supply water to hundreds of millions of people in Asia, were warmer over the past 50 years than at any stage in the past two millennia, a Chinese newspaper said, citing an academic report.
Temperatures and humidity are likely to continue to rise throughout this century, causing glaciers to retreat and desertification to spread, according to the report published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research.
“Over the past 50 years, the rate of temperature rise has been double the average global level,” it said, according to the report on the website of Science and Technology Daily, a state-run newspaper.
Glacier retreat could disrupt water supply to several of Asia’s main rivers that originate from the plateau, including China’s Yellow and Yangtze, India’s Brahmaputra, and the Mekong and Salween in southeast Asia.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
bobswern's diary didn't get the attention it deserves, check it out:
BOHICA's diary features a really well-crafted, moving song about Michael Brown:
A Little Night Music
Joe Tex - The Love You Save
Joe Tex - One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
Joe Tex - You Got What It Takes
Joe Tex - Pneumonia
Joe Tex - I Want To (Do Everything For You)
Joe Tex - I Wanna Be Free
Joe Tex - Fresh Out Of Tears
Joe Tex - Skinny Legs And All
Joe Tex - Hold What You Got
Joe Tex - Meet Me in Church
Joe Tex - Rain Go Away
Joe Tex - I Gotcha
Joe Tex - You better believe it baby
Joe Tex - Come In My House
Joe Tex - Papa Was Too
Joe Tex - You're right Ray Charles
Joe Tex - Aint Gonna Bump No More
Joe Tex - Loose Caboose
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