Militarization is profitable

Retired Philly police Captain Ray Lewis

Philly retired police captain Ray Lewis in Ferguson was interviewed by VICE:

In 2011, when Middle American thought of the Occupy Movement as a smorgasbord of drum circles, a photo emerged of a former police captain being arrested by the NYPD. That was Ray Lewis, 23-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department. The Occupy Movement turned him into some sort of legitimized and uniformed social advocate. He’s since traveled to various protests across the US, including the recent unrest in Ferguson. I caught up with him across the street from the QuikTrip where Mike Brown was killed.

VICE: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen in Ferguson?
Ray Lewis: Last night I saw officers not wearing name tags or badges. It’s unfathomable to me that officers, while being investigated, and with international attention, are still breaking the law. I can’t believe it. Officers on site are allowing it. That’s unheard of. If I ever saw that, the officer would be off the street in a second.

You’ve never seen anything like that before?
My officers knew better. They’d never think of doing something like that. The thing is, there’s no accountability. They get away with it here. That shows me one thing—it shows that nothing gets done to them.

Who did you see doing that?
It was the dark blue uniforms—either Ferguson or highway patrol. Speaking of which, I’ve got the St. Louis police right over my shoulder here. I don’t know what they’re doing, but I’m standing right next to CNN.

What do you think the solution in Ferguson is?
Well, Police Chief Jackson has got to go. He will go. That’s one of the ways they’ll persuade the citizens. They’re going to have to get rid of his top commanders and get new guys to come in. They’ll know that they have to do the job right. But [these officers] are going to say, “Now nobody is going to cover for me.” They’re going to try and undermine the new command. It takes time to get around that.

The new commanders need to designate an officer as a community-relations officer. He’s got to interact. The people get to know the officer, and the officer gets to know the people. Right now there is no interaction.

At Chief Jackson’s press conference where he announced the name of the officer [who shot Mike Brown], there were around 12 officers behind him—all white. If he had intermingled with the community in his four years, he’d have had 12 black people back there.

Go read the whole thing.

They don’t even pretend

To be logical. They just make up a cover story, and stick to it:

A coroner’s report obtained exclusively by NBC News directly contradicts the police version of how a 22-year-old black man died in the back seat of a Louisiana police cruiser earlier this year — but still says the man, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, shot himself.

In a press release issued March 3, the day he died, the Louisiana State Police said Victor White III apparently shot himself in an Iberia Parish police car. According to the police statement, White had his hands cuffed behind his back when he shot himself in the back.

But according to the full final report of the Iberia Parish coroner, which was released nearly six months later and obtained exclusively by NBC News, White was shot in the front, not the back. The bullet entered his right chest and exited under his left armpit. White was left-handed, according to family members. According to the report, the forensic pathologist found gunshot residue in the wound, but not the sort of stippling that a close-range shot can sometimes produce. He also found abrasions on White’s face.

And yet, despite the contradictions – and even though White’s hands were never tested for gunpowder residue – the Iberia Parish coroner still supported the central contention of the initial police statement issued back in March. Dr. Carl Ditch ruled that White shot himself, and declared his death a suicide.

Here comes that deferred mortgage crisis

David Dayen warns that Big Shitpile was never really fixed and that all the “extend and pretend” programs propping it up are about to run out. Wheee!

Go read the whole thing, of course:

We are nearly eight years removed from the beginnings of the foreclosure crisis, with over five million homes lost. So it would be natural to believe that the crisis has receded. Statistics point in that direction. Financial analyst CoreLogic reports that the national foreclosure rate fell to 1.7 percent in June, down from 2.5 percent a year ago. Sales of foreclosed properties are at their lowest levels since 2008, and the rate of foreclosure startsthe beginning of the foreclosure processisat 2006 levels. At the peak, 2.9 million homes suffered foreclosure filings in 2010; last year, the number was 1.4 million.

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Tidal power!

tidal array

These are the kinds of things you can get done, once you’ve acknowledged there’s an actual problem:

Scotland is building what it calls the world’s biggest tidal array in the Pentland Firth in northern Scotland, the country’s government announced last week.

Once built, the tidal array is projected to provide enough electricity to power 175,000 homes, and will also create up to 100 jobs. Construction is slated to begin later this year, and the first phase will install four 1.5-megawatt turbines that will start supplying power to the grid in 2016. Overall, the project will involve installing up to 269 turbines on the seafloor, which will capture the energy of ocean tides.

“This innovative and exciting project puts Scotland and the U.K. on the map as a global leader in marine technology – meaning jobs, better energy security and the potential to export this technology to the world,” U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said in a statement. “The project also shows what can be done when the U.K. and Scottish Governments work together to provide a lasting benefit for the people of Scotland.”

The U.K. is hoping to replace a fifth of its aging coal and gas plants with renewable energy by 2020. According to the government, the U.K. has about 50 percent of Europe’s energy tidal energy resources, and if developed fully, wave and tidal stream energy could meet 20 percent of the U.K.’s demand for power. Already, Scotland is home to the world’s firstcommercial wave power generator, and the government estimates that marine-based renewable energy like tidal arrays could one day power 750,000 homes in Scotland.

Federal law on excessive force ignored for 20 years

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So the “Just Us” Department is really, really good at going after medical marijuana users, but not so good at enforcing laws that might upset powerful special interest groups — and not just Wall Street!

One of the reasons we don’t have data on police use of excessive force is because compiling this information relies on law enforcement agencies being forthcoming about these incidents. Generally speaking, it takes FOIA requests and lawsuits to obtain any data gathered by individual police departments. This shouldn’t be the case. In fact, as AllGov reports, this lack of data violates a federal law.

In 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Among its provisions was the order that “the Attorney General shall, through appropriate means, acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.” The Justice Department was also required to publish an annual report on the data collected.
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If you can’t think of any good reason to vote

Here’s one. Putting Democrats in control gives us a chance to fix things like this:

Joshua Cohen works with troubled student loan borrowers.

What’s surprised Cohen lately is the increasing number of gray-haired people walking in his doors with a problem: A portion of their meager Social Security benefits are being taken by the government to pay for old student loans they had mostly forgotten about.

It’s a growing national trend. Last year, 156,000 Americans had their Social Security checks garnished because of student loans they had defaulted on. It’s tripled in number from 47,500 in 2006, before the Great Recession. That’s according to analysis done by the U.S. Treasury for CNNMoney.

This is one of the things Liz Warren is trying to fix. A Democratic majority in both houses would help.

No perfect candidates

See? This is why personality-based politics is a dead end. Here’s Bernie Sanders, confronted over his vote to support Israel:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) got into a heated confrontation with constituents during a town hall in his home state this past weekend. After a woman in the crowd asked Sanders about a Senate resolution that condemned Hamas but “said nothing” about Israel’s “massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza, the senator became defensive, fighting off angry residents with shouts of “Excuse me! Shut up!”

Sanders began by saying he thinks he believes Israel “overreacted” in its offensive against Hamas and was “terribly, terribly wrong” in its bombing of UN facilities. “On the other hand,” Sanders said, “you have situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel,” adding that those rockets are often originating from populated areas.

As members of his audience began to shout out their opposition to his statements, Sanders responded, “Excuse me! Shut up! You don’t have the microphone.”

“This is called democracy!” Sanders said shortly after, insisting that he was just trying to answer questions from his constituents. Things calmed down for just a few seconds before another woman in the crowd called out “Bullshit!” on Sanders’ assertion that Hamas does not want Israel to exist.

Better late than never

VIDEO: Atlantic Ocean Might Be To Blame For Global Warming 'Pause'

Author Robert Jay Lifton says people are starting to acknowledge global warming:

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

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