Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Justice for Nate Wilks

Police shoot and kill someone every single day.  So far in 2015 there have only been nine days where that was not the case. Every day we have to learn about a new name, and details of what happened.  One recent name I heard was Nate Wilks. Police say he was an armed robbery suspect and during a chase turned towards cops and refused orders to drop gun. According to the family, eyewitnesses at the scene disagree and say he was simply running away from police.  Oakland police showed the video to reporters on the condition that they don't release it to the public (because that's how to regain our trust!)
Although some witnesses said Wilks raised the gun at the officers, the videos do not show him making such a move.
“Remember, a gun can be fired from any position,” [Lt. Roland] Holmgren said.
East Bay Express discusses California transparency laws with regards to when footage is shown
Oakland Police Department officials came under fire last week for showing police body-camera videos to a group of select journalists, while refusing to release the footage to the general public. First Amendment experts widely agreed that OPD's actions likely violated the California Public Records Act, and that, at minimum, the department should now show the videos, which involved the two recent deaths of local citizens, to anyone who wants to see them. And while those criticisms are valid, last week's video disclosures also raise numerous questions about how and when police departments will reveal video footage at a time when law enforcement agencies around the state are increasingly mandating that all cops use body cameras.
Rapid News Network adds
Body cameras also captured the deaths of two other men, Demouria Hogg and Antonio Clements, who have been shot and killed by police since June. Hogg was killed during a confrontation near Lake Merritt after police said he was found asleep in his auto with a loaded gun on the passenger seat.
The deadly shooting of 24-year-old Nate Wilks led to protests in the streets of Oakland. It also drew criticism from prominent civil rights attorneys upset that the department limited the viewing to select media members and refused to show footage of other men recently shot and killed by police. “They should not just be released when the shootings from a police point of view are justifiable”.
I was glad that the fundraiser for an independent autopsy reached it's goal.  I am also reaching out for more information on the case, since I have had trouble finding information after the fundraiser.  I am also trying unsuccessfully to find more information on Tyronne Harris, shot on the anniversary of the killing of Mike Brown

A second look at the autopsy of Mansur Ball-Bey shows why we need independent autopsies conducted in police shootings.

Mansur Ball-Bey, shot last week by police, suffered a severed spinal cord, officials disclosed Wednesday, leading to questions of whether such a wound would have permitted him to run a short distance, as officers have said.
Dr. Michael Graham, the medical examiner, arranged a re-examination of the body Wednesday and told a reporter that Ball-Bey’s spinal cord may have survived the impact but unraveled as he ran. In any event, the bullet also pierced his heart, which still would have been fatal.
Attorney Jermaine Wooten, who is representing Ball-Bey’s family, said the second examination at Graham’s office is “suspicious.”
“That’s a clear indication to me that given the initial results they learned from the initial autopsy, it doesn’t support the position the police laid out at first as it relates to Bey being shot and running, so they want to take a second look to modify those findings,” Wooten said. “These things should have been addressed early on and I don’t see why they are taking a second look when it should have been thorough and complete the first time.
Ball-Bey's family attorneys have said that he wasn't even in the house when it was raided.
Police have said Ball-Bey and a 14-year-old ran out the back door of the residence and encountered two officers in the alley. They say Ball-Bey pointed a stolen handgun with an extended magazine at one of them.
The second-story flat at 1243 Walton Avenue has a long, steep rear staircase that leads to a door secured with a board. From there, attorneys showed how Ball-Bey would have had to run across the backyard, hop a fence into the alley, then run through another nearby backyard to the south and down a gangway before collapsing from a single gunshot wound to the back.
“The police narration isn’t plausible at all,” Jermaine Wooten, an attorney for Ball-Bey’s family, said at the scene. “That’s a lot of running he would have had to do to get to this point.”
Ball-Bey’s cousins live at the residence, but they told attorneys he wasn’t at the home when police arrived. They said he was coming there from work at FedEx shortly before the shooting.

I was very excited to see that the goal was reached with 21 hours left to raise more funds

I also noticed that a Scott Olsen had donated $100.  I later confirmed that it was in fact Iraq War vet Scott Olsen injured by police at the Occupy Oakland protest

A Character Letter on Jason Flannery, cop who killed VonDerrit Myers

I am posting this here because I don't like Scribd.  The original is here.  I tried to do the formatting the same as well as I could.  Any errors are mine.

A Character Letter on Jason Flannery

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fewer Israelis killed in 22 years of terrorism than Palestinians killed in 51 days

Terrorism is usually described as violence with a political goal, and it is meant to be a cheap form of fighting, for example set off one bomb and make society spend lots more preventing next attack. Before 9/11, I would say that two societies, Israel and Ireland, were the best known examples. It is generally acknowledged that terrorism is not really about killing people, but more about striking fear into the rest of the population.

I just found this on the website of the Jewish Virtual Library, a list of every victim of terrorism in Israel since 1993 when the Oslo peace agreement was signed.

Here are the total number of victims for the last 22 years.
From the Oslo Accords (Sept. 1993) until September 2000 - nearly 300 Israelis were killed in attacks.
During the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Intifada (Sept. 2000 - Dec. 2005) another 1,100 Israelis were killed.
Since December 2005, Palestinian terrorist attacks have claimed at least another 154 Israeli lives.
300 + 1,100 + 154 = 1,554 Israelis killed by terrorism in 22 years.  

2,310 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza in 51 days of 2014 war

Compare that to the number of people, mainly civilians and more than 500 children killed in last years 51 day war in Gaza.

Governments focus on terrorism, but rarely acknowledge how few people it actually kills.
Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Unfortunate choice of words for Jon Stewart day before final show

I love Jon Stewart as host of the Daily Show.  His criticism of politicians and the media is great, and he will mention issues and policies in 10 minutes that you cannot hear in the 24 hour Mainstream media, as Democracy Now! summed up as Jon left the show
Jon Stewart, known as "the most trusted name in fake news," bid farewell to "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central Thursday night after 16 years. The satirical news show transformed the media landscape, revealing and reveling in the hypocrisies of politicians and their media bedfellows. Thursday night, Stewart said goodbye to his viewers, warning the audience not to believe misinformation.
There is some criticism of his show as Luke Rudkowski examined a few of them here

He also praised NAFTA recently as good for Mexico when interviewing Bill Clinton.

Look up the Zapatistas.  Nettie Wild, a filmmaker from Canada noted that "in Canada we debated NAFTA, but in Mexico they went to war over it."

Zapatista National Army of Liberation
The group takes its name from Emiliano Zapata, the agrarian reformer[2] and commander of the Liberation Army of the Southduring the Mexican Revolution, and sees itself as his ideological heir.
Democracy Now! 20 year anniversary of Zapatista uprising
On the same day the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, the Zapatista National Liberation Army and people of Chiapas declared war on the Mexican government, saying that NAFTAmeant death to indigenous peoples. They took over five major towns in Chiapas with fully armed women and men. The uprising was a shock, even for those who for years worked in the very communities where the rebel army had been secretly organizing.
NAFTA at 20 with Lori Wallach on Democracy Now!
The North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada went into effect 20 years ago this week on January 1, 1994. The massive trade pact was signed into law by President Bill Clinton amidst great promise that it would raise wages, create jobs and even improve health and environmental safety standards. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs have vanished as companies sought lower-wage workers in Mexico. Meanwhile, NAFTA has generated more poverty in Mexico, forcing millions of citizens to migrate to the United States in search of work.
VICE News video 20 years of Zapatista

Film on Zapatistas

The conversation starts talking about Mexico almost from the start as they discuss Donald Trump running for President and his remarks on immigrants as criminals

Clinton's quotes and statistics that he is famous for start at 2:24

"between 2010 and 2014 there was no net in migration from Mexico"

"all we read about is the violence of the drug war"

"the previous President built 140 tuition-free universities"

"2 years ago the Mexicans produced 113,000 engineers we produced 120,000"

"they've had very brisk growth and except in the narco centers the crime rate the murder rate has gone down"

Jon says

"so here we're going to talk about trade.  So NAFTA has been very beneficial I think for Mexico I think you would agree it brought a lot of jobs to Mexico it changed the political climate down there it brought them.  NAFTA is being used as an example of why we shouldn't do the TPP.  So tell me why are these trade agreements these free trade agreements good for American workers?

Clinton well let's first of all explain what happened with Mexico.

Stewart OK. how far back are we going?

[audience laughs]

Clinton just to NAFTA.

so what happened after NAFTA was they had almost a total collapse of their currency

Stewart right peso collapse

Clinton so I gave them a loan back in 1995 which they paid back 3 years early and taxpayers earned $570 million in interest.  $560 million.

Stewart it was 562.  go ahead.

[audience laughs]

Clinton they earned the money.  but as a result of that their economy was weak.  plus they were one of our biggest oil suppliers before we were self sufficient in oil.  so we did have a trade deficit there.  and the analysis of all of our trade agreements with countries with lower per capita income then we have shows that on balance the countries we have trade agreements with we tend to have balanced trade much more then let's say with China with whom we have no trade agreement with and we have a humongous deficit.

Stewart but that was well some would say that the larger problem was not NAFTA but China joining the WTO.

Clinton well the larger problem whether they joined or not we had a huge trade deficit with them before they joined WTO and at least when they got into WTO they has to agree to rules and if we vigorously enforced trade deals we had a forum to enforce it.

There is more that I cannot type right now

anyone want to help me with transcripts? LOL

Stewart goes to commercial break and says when the show returns they will discuss "what that sensible economic policy looks like."

How about Marxism as a sensible economic policy? Turns out Jon Stewart is no Jon Stewart.  (I was confused at first seeing his name here)

I'm in favor of Marxism, or more specifically, Democracy at work.  shared profits among all workers.  Not an end to private property and 5 year plans, just real fairness in who gets what from the economy.

I wrote a little about that here discussing the fight for $15 an hour minimum wage.

So while Jon Stewart and the Daily Show can be a news source for college kids and a source of satire and an excellent resource on hypocrisy, there are issues with Jon and his political stance and mainstream liberal ideas.

Counterpunch points out some problems Jon has with the Left in a piece on his "Rally to Restore Sanity" which talks about Stewart's criticism of the Left and his "non-ideological" positions.

There is also his friendship not only with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama but also Bill O'Reilley.

And now that there is some background, the main point of this post, a simple bad choice of words, unless it turns out Jon knew what he was saying all along, the day before his final show and the day before the 70th anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima, a war crime bombing a civilian population in order to scare off Russia.

Jon poked fun at the media calling his monologues "eviscerations" of his targets.  He called the segment "The Daily Show: Destroyer of Worlds"

Embedded image permalink

Which was J. Robert Oppenheimer's comment on nuclear weapons.

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another.

You can watch the full documentary from 1965 here

Just one more thing I won't miss about Jon Stewart

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lifting Iran Sanctions may be threatened by bill compensating American Hostages

Posting this from April in draft form right far it has only been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations 

CRS Report from July 30, 2015 The Iran Hostages:Efforts to Obtain Compensation

Many might be unaware that the 52 American mostly military and diplomatic personnel held hostage in Tehran for 444 days continue to strive for significant compensation for their ordeal. The former hostages and their families did receive a number of benefits under various civil service laws, and each hostage received from the U.S. government a cash payment of $50 for each day held hostage. The hostages have never received any compensation from Iran through court actions, all efforts having failed due to foreign sovereign immunity and an executive agreement known as the Algiers Accords, which bars such lawsuits. Congress took action to abrogate Iran’s sovereign immunity in the case Roeder v. Islamic Republic of Iran, but never successfully abrogated the executive agreement, leaving the plaintiffs with jurisdiction to pursue their case but without a judicial cause of action. Having lost their bids in the courts to obtain recompense, the former hostages have turned to Congress for relief. This report outlines the history of various efforts, including legislative efforts and court cases, and describes one bill currently before Congress, the Justice for Former American Hostages in Iran Act of 2015 (S. 868). 

Kristina Dei told me this is "not gonna happen."  But here we go anyway.

One day after President Obama had threatened to veto a new bill in Congress that would prevent the White House from lifting Congressional economic sanctions on Iran, Obama has now said he would sign the new law.  Obama can still veto the vote that opposes the Iran deal.  Yesterday (April 14th) on NPR's All Things Considered David Welna explained the changes to host Robert Siegel.
SIEGEL: David, as recently as yesterday, the White House said that President Obama would veto any bill that put constraints on his freedom to negotiate with Iran. Now the White House indicates that the president can support this bill. What changed?
WELNA: The bill changed. The period for a congressional review of the final deal, during which sanctions could not be lifted was shrunk from 60 days to 30 days in a bipartisan deal that was worked out last night. And the bill was also stripped of language that was a deal-breaker for the White House, which would have required that the president certify every 90 days to Congress that Iran had not been involved in any terrorist activities against the United States.
Now the bill simply requires that the president report to Congress any terrorist activities Iran may have been involved in. And with those changes, the White House was no longer wielding a veto threat today.
The deal could also be threatened by Iran if they continue to insist that sanctions be lifted at once and negotiators don't agree to that condition.
"The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran," said Rouhani
There are in place many sanctions against Iran.

State Dept

CRS Iran Sanctions March 2015

BBC Iran sanctions

But this bill could pose a threat to any lifting of sanctions later down the road.
Attached to the larger Iran negotiations bill is a bill (S. 868) that would seek compensation and justice for the hostages—most of whom endured torture-- by imposing a 30 percent surcharge on the fines of any entity such as a business that violates economic sanctions against Iran.

TIME Joe Klein Iran
“The question is,” Ramin went on, “how can America remain the Great Satan if you’re making deals with them?” That’s why people were dancing in the streets of Tehran. “It was the prospect of a better economy, for sure, but it was also the hope that this was the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic.”
Last December, it appeared justice might be served. Funds for hostage compensation were put in the U.S. budget. The money would come from fines collected from violators of sanctions against Iran—money not covered by the Algiers Accords. But that compensation was yanked from the budget at the last minute.
Now, with the Obama administration and Iran on the verge of a deal aiming to curb the Iranian nuclear program, Congress may act. A bill introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) would provide compensation. How much? In recent years, a consensus among federal judges has been reached on the amount a hostage, if injured, should receive. Each of the 39 hostages still living—all of whom endured physical or mental injury—would get $10,000 for each day in captivity, and spouses and children would get half that figure.