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Another horror story

There are far too many of these stories. Maybe now, thanks to the Trayvon Martin case, internal affairs investigators will actually do their jobs and reporters won’t be quite so eager to accept the official version of events. This case in November, featured on Democracy Now!, involved a 68-year-old man who accidentally pressed his medical alarm and ended up shot to death by police:

JUAN GONZALEZ: As the shooting death of Trayvon Martin continues to draw national attention, today we look at another controversial shooting of an African-American male that has received far less scrutiny. On the morning of November 19th, a 68-year-old former marine named Kenneth Chamberlain with a heart condition accidentally pressed the button on his medical alert system while sleeping. Responding to the alert, police officers from the city of White Plains, New York, arrived at Chamberlain’s apartment in a public housing complex shortly after 5 a.m. By the time the police left the apartment, Kenneth Chamberlain was dead, shot twice in the chest by a police officer inside his home. Police gained entry to Chamberlain’s apartment only after they took his front door off its hinges. Officers first shot him with a taser, then a beanbag shotgun, and then with live ammunition.

AMY GOODMAN: Police have insisted the use of force was warranted. They said Kenneth Chamberlain was emotionally disturbed and had pulled a knife on the officers. This is David Chong, public safety commissioner in White Plains.

DAVID CHONG: The officers first used an electronic taser, which was discharged, hit the victim, and had no effect. While the officers were retreating, the officers then used a shotgun, a beanbag shotgun.

AMY GOODMAN: Relatives of Kenneth Chamberlain have questioned the police portrayal of events that led to his death, and they say audio and video recorded at the scene back up their case. According to the family, Kenneth Chamberlain can be heard on an audio recording of his call to the medical alert system operator saying, quote, “Please leave me alone. I’m 68 with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me? Can you please leave me alone?” Officers allegedly responded by calling Chamberlain a racial slur while urging him to open the door. The audio recording of the incident has not been made public and remains in the possession of the Westchester District Attorney’s office.

In early December, Kenneth Chamberlain, a retired marine, was buried with military honors. The family posted video of part of the ceremony.

Several months after his death, the name of the officer who killed Kenneth Chamberlain has yet to be released. The DA has vowed to convene a grand jury to determine if any of the officers should face charges.

We invited the White Plains Police Department and the Westchester DA’s office on to the program, but they declined to join us or issue a comment. But we are joined by Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., the son of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., the victim, and by two of the family’s attorneys. Mayo Bartlett is the former chief of the Bias Crimes Unit of the Westchester County District Attorney’s office and the former chair of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission. Randolph McLaughlin is a longtime civil rights attorney. He teaches at Pace Law School.
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We grew apart

Daily Kos:

Bully

A review of the powerful new movie.

Until you come back to me

Aretha:

Removing options makes Tom a happy fellow

I can only imagine what PA Gov. Corbett would say: “Hey, work on your uppercut! Don’t be such a girl!” Because he’s so good at that tough-love thing:

Philadelphia already doesn’t have enough beds in domestic abuse shelters to serve a glut of demand, andGov. Tom Corbett‘s proposed 20 percent cut to state social services funding will make matters worse still, likely requiring shelters to reduce their services. Then, there’s General Assistance, the $205-per-month, nine-month cash payout that abused women can use to help them get back on their feet after leaving their abusers. As CP’s Daniel Denvir reported, the loss of GA to recovering addicts could make thousands homeless. The impact on abused women is just as terrifying: It could discourage them from leaving their abusers.

Elise Scioscia, strategic initiatives assistant at Women Against Abuse, which operates Philly’s only emergency shelter, says GA is “a source of last resort for a lot of citizens, but especially women and children that are fleeing their homes and don’t have the ability to take resources with them, or have the luxury of time to wait out other resources so they can start rebuilding their lives.”

“[GA is] obviously not enough to live on to provide housing, but it may deter people from leaving. Resources are a big reason people stay with domestic violence perpetrators, so this could prohibit a person from being able to leave a very dangerous situation.” Scioscia says given that their shelter is a 90-day program, and waiting lists for transitional housing are much longer than that, women and children are already vulnerable.

Another Corbett move — rolling human services funding into a single block grant before slashing it by a fifth — has introduced yet another level of uncertainty for organizations that serve women in crisis. “We’ve already trimmed our staff,” Scioscia says. “We’re operating on such a skeletal level that what we’re going to have to cut are services.”

Dream

I was hanging out with Russell Brand for a couple of days and I asked him what was the real reason his marriage with Katy Perry broke up. He tells me, but I don’t remember. Something to do with him preferring groupies, I think.

Also: climbing up some steep hill next to a house that’s been landscaped with what look like cobblestones. When I get to the top, I’m surprised to see that there’s no wall on one side and I can see right into the bedroom where the owners are sleeping. “We better get out of here,” I tell my friend.

Yep

What Digby says.

Republican ‘bleedership’ in PA

The Republican relationship with economic health is akin to that of a parasite and its host:

While many panelists at this weekend’s Pennsylvania Leadership Conference complained about the Pennsylvania government being too big, a new study shows Pennsylvania may be the poster-child for a stagnant unemployment rate due to state level cuts under Republican leadership.

Bryce Covert and Mike Konczai illustrate a painfully obvious point in The Nation regarding the Commonwealth’s cutting of public jobs and enacting partisan social legislation. And while Pennsylvania may be the most obvious example used by the authors, we’re one of many states undergoing a conservative transformation to the dark side.

Republican state legislators, empowered by new control of the governorship and the state house, proposed one of the most stringent mandatory ultrasound bills in the country. The House passed a voter identification law that could block 700,000 Pennsylvanians from voting, most of them young, of color, and poor. Meanwhile, the same state legislators led a successful charge to shrink public employment. The number of government employees fell over 3 percent that year, one of the sharpest declines in any state.

The piece goes onto to explain that “Pennsylvania isn’t alone.” In fact, as we’re all likely aware, 2010 was a blood red electoral year, and happened because those Republicans promised massive job growth if they only got the chance to rule over us. Lots of swing and oft-blue states went red. The result: the economic and social equivalent of a tire iron to the face. In those 11 states where Republicans have taken control since January 2011, “public sector layoffs are disproportionately concentrated, leading to one of the biggest rounds of job losses for the public workforce since record keeping began.” And with that has come a massive increase in conservative bills meant to limit voting by minorities and the poor, and limiting abortion rights.

In 2011, Pennsylvania state and local employment by the state legislature dropped by more than 3 percent, according to the article. Corbett’s lowering of the corporate tax rate and imposition of a low effective tax rate on drilling the Marcellus Shale have “made the deficit even worse.”

“There could have been fewer layoffs than there were,” said Mark Price, an economist based in Pennsylvania. “They could have avoided this.” As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has found, many of these newly GOP-dominated states, including North Carolina, cut corporate taxes, or cut taxes on high-income earners, including Maine and Ohio. Wisconsin did both.

I don’t they wanted to avoid this. Repeat after me, class: Cheap, disposable labor with no legal protections! It’s the Holy Grail of the Grand Old Party.

Fun with fracking

I love what the frackers do to my state:

An explosion at a natural gas compressor station in Susquehanna County this morning blew a hole in the roof of the complex holding the engines, causing a black cloud to billow from the building.

The incident in the Lathrop compressor station off Route 29 in Springville Twp. drew emergency responders from nearby counties and shook homes as far as a half-mile from the compressor complex.

Helen Humphreys, a spokeswoman for Williams, the company that operates the Lathrop station, said all employees and contractors on the site have been accounted for and no one was injured.

The damage was confined to the Lathrop station and did not impact the high-pressure pipeline the company operates between Springville and Dallas Twp. in Luzerne County, she said. Williams will do a full evaluation and investigation as soon as it is safe to go back into the building, she added.

“The emergency shutdown equipment did work properly to isolate and minimize the incident,” she said. “Emergency procedures were immediately activated. That included notifying local authorities and first responders, and evacuating all personnel.”

The Lathrop station pressurizes gas from Marcellus Shale wells in the county for transport through pipelines. It was sold to Williams by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. as part of a deal announced in 2010 that also included a second compressor station and 75 miles of the natural gas drilling company’s gathering pipelines.

Making whoopee

Dr. John and Rickie Lee:

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