In Ferguson, DOJ Probe Only Confirms What Community Has Long Known

‘What the DOJ has memorialized on paper, we will memorialize in action.’
—Tory Russell, Hands Up United

"Hands up!" sign displayed at a Ferguson protest. (Photo:  Jamelle Bouie/flickr/cc)
“Hands up!” sign displayed at a Ferguson protest. (Photo:  Jamelle Bouie/flickr/cc)

 

— by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

A Department of Justice probe into the now-notorious Ferguson Police Department confirmed Wednesday what residents of this majority-black city in Missouri have long charged: racism is endemic throughout the local “justice” system—manifesting in everything from traffic stops to predatory court fines to physical attacks.

Now, the activists whose sustained protests put Ferguson in the global spotlight are responding to the revelations with observations of their own. They say the abuses documented in the DOJ’s 102-page review are not new information to municipal residents; they are not unique to Ferguson; and, ultimately, they constitute a call-to-action.

“What the DOJ has memorialized on paper, we will memorialize in action,” said Tory Russell, cofounder of Hands Up United, which was formed shortly after the August fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Russell continued in a public statement:

Ferguson is just a symptom of an international problem, one that is fueled by social, economic, and racial inequality, by a lack of access to education, resources, employment, and one that wont go away until we take an introspective look at ourselves as a nation and as a global community facing daily flashpoints between the privileged and the repressed.

“Ferguson is a microcosm of how marginalized communities interact with the state, but also a spark that inevitably stokes that flames of justice in the hearts and minds of people of all creeds peppered throughout this country.” —Tory Russell, Hands Up United

The DOJ, is an organ in these systems of inequality.  The same CS gas that police used to disperse our assemblies in Ferguson, is the same CS gas, manufactured here in the US with support from US taxpayers, that is used to disperse assemblies in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  For those of us on the receiving end of this gas our struggles are intertwined.

Moreover, our socio-economic systems appear to thrive in (or at the very least, understand) the chaos of flashpoints between the haves and have-nots.  What is harder, for everyone to understand to and address, is how to challenge the predicate series of systemic injustices that fuel and fertilize these flashpoints.

Ferguson is a microcosm of how marginalized communities interact with the state, but also a spark that inevitably stokes that flames of justice in the hearts and minds of people of all creeds peppered throughout this country.

Additionally included in the press statement were remarks by Tef Poe, also a cofounder of Hands Up United, who said:

While we should not diminish the significance of the DOJ’s findings, and the prospect of subsequent attempts to reform policing in Ferguson and St. Louis, we also need to remain cognizant to the fact that Ferguson is but a microcosm of repressive and violent community-police interactions nation-wide.

Today the DOJ’s report has validated that traffic stops in Ferguson disproportionately target people of color and Ferguson courts have become sources of revenue – straying away from their purpose of protecting our communities. We who live this, every day, having been slapped with exhaustive series of tickets, or bench warrants, for our minor infractions, or due to simple mistakes, already knew this.

“This is not news for those of us who have felt a baton in our back or a boot on our neck— moreover, the incidents Ferguson Police choose not to document are perhaps the most frightening and hardest for us to forget.” —Tef Poe, Hands Up United

In incident reports filed by Ferguson Police, detailed in the DOJ report, nearly all of the situations wherein police used force were against people of color. This is not news for those of us who have felt a baton in our back or a boot on our neck— moreover, the incidents Ferguson Police choose not to document are perhaps the most frightening and hardest for us to forget.

To see what we have been saying and living for decades validated by the Department of Justice is not insignificant, but these problems are like a cancer—whether the symptoms spread through a body or a whole community, they cannot be addressed piecemeal. To isolate and exemplify Ferguson, is to infatuate over the finger while the organs of our State and the soul of our Country continue to metastasize.

To begin to address this cancer we must first begin by viewing it as such.  This cancer is one that saturates everything—like smoke lingering on your clothes after a night out—and it is not reserved for a specific demographic.  This smoke lingers on our clothes inasmuch as it lingers on Darren Wilson’s blood stained uniform —the only difference is that we’re ready to change that. ”

Organizers with Millennial Activists United, a youth-led, grassroots coalition in the St. Louis area, put it succinctly:

The DOJ’s release of the report, which coincided with its announcement that it will not prosecute Wilson for shooting Brown, prompted protests on Wednesday against racial disparities. Numerous eye witnesses say that police arrested those who gathered to demonstrate, sparking renewed outrage among local organizers, including the network Ferguson Action:

Raven Rakia pointed out in The Nation on Thursday that police practices in Ferguson, and local resistance, have nation-wide implications.

“The flames of Ferguson following Michael Brown’s death captured the country’s attention, and brought the Justice Department to town,” wrote Rakia. “But what of all the other small and big cities across the United States engaging in the same practices? If we are to look towards Ferguson as a lesson, changes may come only following a sustained grassroots movement from those directly affected.”


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Netanyahu Speaks, Money Talks

— by Bill Moyers, Michael Winship

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

 

Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson.

The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right. The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam (whose purse achieved metaphoric glory Tuesday when it fell from the gallery and hit a Democratic congressman) contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends, including $93 million to such plutocracy-friendly super PACs as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC) and Restore Our Future (the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC).

Yet there’s no knowing for sure about all of the “dark money” contributed by the Adelsons– so called because it doesn’t have to be reported. Like those high-rise, multi-million dollar apartments in New York City purchased by oligarchs whose identity is hidden within perfectly legal shell organizations, dark money lets our politicians conveniently erase fingerprints left by their ink-stained (from signing all those checks) billionaire benefactors.

But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries – not to mention an ideological soulmate. Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls “uniquely pernicious” influence.

Adelson owns the daily Israel Hayom, a leading newspaper, as well as Makor Roshon, the daily newspaper of Israel’s Zionist religious right and NRG, a news website. He gives Israel Hayom away for free in order to promote his hardline views – the headline in the paper the day after Obama’s re-election was “The US Voted [for] Socialism.”

More important, he uses the paper to bang the drum incessantly for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party, under the reign of which Israel has edged closer and closer to theocracy. As Hebrew University economist Momi Dahan put it: “De facto, the existence of a newspaper like Israel Hayom egregiously violates the law, because [Adelson] actually is providing a candidate with nearly unlimited resources.”

Sheldon, meet Rupert.

In fact, as Israel’s March 17 election approaches, Adelson has increased the press run of Israel Hayom’s weekend edition by 70 percent. The paper says it’s to increase circulation and advertising, but rival newspaper Ha’aretz  reports, “Political sources are convinced the extra copies are less part of a business plan and more one to help Netanyahu’s re-election bid.” Just like the timing of Netanyahu’s “State of the Union” address to Congress this week was merely a coincidence, right? “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political,” Netanyahu told Congress. “That was never my intention.” Of course.

In Gershom Gorenberg’s words, the prime minister “enjoys the advantage of having a major newspaper in his camp that portrays the world as seen from his office: a world in which Israel is surrounded by enemies, including the president of the United States; in which peace negotiations are aimed at destroying Israel; in which Israel’s left is aligned with all the hostile forces, and even rightists who oppose Netanyahu want to carry out a coup through the instrument of elections.”

So Netanyahu gets the best of both of Adelson’s worlds – his powerful propaganda machine in Israel and his campaign cash here in the United States. Combined, they allow Netanyahu to usurp American foreign policy as he manipulates an obliging US Congress enamored of Adelson’s millions, pushing it further to the right on Israel and the Middle East.

There you have it: Not only is this casino mogul the unofficial head of the Republican Party in America (“he with the gold rules”), he is the uncrowned King of Israel — David with a printing press and checkbook instead of a slingshot and a stone. All of this came to the fore in Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday: the US cannot determine its own policy in the Middle East and the majority in Congress are under the thumb of a foreign power.

Like a King Midas colossus, Sheldon Adelson bestrides the cause of war and peace in the most volatile region of the world. And this is the man who — at Yeshiva University in New York in 2013 — denounced President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran and proposed instead that the United States drop an atomic bomb in the Iranian desert and then declare: “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

Everything you need to know about Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of that man. We are hostage to his fortune.


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Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason.He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers’ Journal and is senior writer of BillMoyers.com.

Getting Stuff Done

vickielrock:

Here’s a great post from Rick Cooley ….

Originally posted on Rcooley123's Blog:

The GOP fought long and hard to retake control over Congress. In the 2010 midterm elections, they took control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats, vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act – calling it Obamacare. Since then, they have voted over 50 times to repeal the law, only to have it die in a Senate controlled by the Democrats. Since the Republicans took control of the House, Congress has lurched from one deadline to the next, basically accomplishing less than any Congress in modern times. They barely avoided a debt ceiling crisis, limped along with continuing budget resolutions rather than a budget and even culminated in a two-week government shutdown in 2013 before agreeing to short-term funding.

In 2014, the GOP finally retook control of the Senate with another dominating midterm election performance. The House is now more thoroughly dominated by the GOP than it has been…

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Bio Fuels and Jobs in Your Community

biofuels___09_by_ademcFrom farmers to small business owners, the renewable fuel industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in wages in rural communities across the United States. These are homegrown jobs that can’t be outsourced and that’s good news for our rural economies

While other industries have been shipping jobs overseas, the biofuels sector has been creating jobs and spurring investment right here at home. That’s thanks to the Renewable Fuel Standard.  And, as long as we have a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, America’s rural economies will continue to grow and thrive.

But, there’s a catch.  Right now, the EPA is finalizing a multi-year version of the Renewable Fuel Standard that will determine how much renewable fuel must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. This will have long-term implications for renewable fuel, and in turn for America’s rural communities. The EPA has to get this right.

Fuels America just released some key facts about the impact of renewable fuel on America’s rural economies. It’s all there: jobs, wages, and economic impact. We need policymakers to understand just how important the Renewable Fuel Standard is to this growing industry, and our economy.

From North Carolina to California, renewable fuel is driving economic growth in rural communities across the country. Since the passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, the renewable fuel industry has grown by leaps and bounds — and along with it the communities that rely on this rapidly growing sector. As the EPA finalizes the 2014 renewable fuel targets, it’s important to remember that:

  • The RFS supports more than 852,000 jobs across the United States.
  • The workers of the renewable fuel sector take home $46.2 billion in wages every year.
  • The direct output of the renewable fuel industry is greater than the economic activity generated by the beef cattle sector.
  • There are over 840 facilities supporting renewable fuel production and distribution; research and development; and other activities throughout the country.
  • Iowa is the top state for biofuels jobs. The renewable fuel sector supports more than 73,000 jobs and $5 billion in wages for Iowa farmers, workers, and small business owners.

With so much on the line, Americans need to know that the President, Congress, and the EPA will stand up for these homegrown jobs — and strong, vibrant rural economies.  Your voice is powerful as well. Use it to help your friends, neighbors, and family members understand how renewable fuel powers rural America.

Not from Nevada? Go here to find out how the Renewable Fuel Standard has impacted your community. Click on your state and then the district in which you live in that state.

Meet the Funders Gunning to Kill Obamacare

obamacare03— by Kiersten Marek

On November 14, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case King v. Burwell, which challenges health premium subsidies at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. While that case has received loads of attention, what’s been unexamined is private foundations helping to pay for this and other lawsuits against Obamacare. Philanthropic support for the legal attack on Obamacare is just one way that funders are channeling money into nonprofits to attack a law that has extended health coverage to millions of low-income Americans.

Who are the funders gunning to destroy Obamacare?  Read more ….

TAG to present “Transgender 101″

transgender-symbolTransgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. That sometimes arbitrary “assignment” can involve challenges, not just for the individual, but for those with whom they regularly interface. Transgender Allies Group (TAG) President Brock Maylath and Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus President Kimi Cole have been scheduled to present “Transgender 101,” a popular talk that explains the basics of what being transgender is … and what it’s not.

“TAG” is a network of allies providing education, resources, counseling, advocacy and support of transgender individuals and families in order to ensure equality, integration, and an exceptional quality of life for all transgender people in Northern Nevada.

Where:
Washoe Democrats Headquarters
1465 Terminal Way
Reno, NV 89502

When:
Tuesday, February 17
Social time begins at 5:30 pm
Presentation begins at 6:00 pm
For more info, contact Kimi Cole:

KimiMCole@gmail.com
info@transgenderalliesgroup.org

If you’re unable to attend this session, check out this posting by GLAAD

Young Democrats Membership Drive

NV-YDYoung Democrats of Nevada have vibrant new leadership and are looking for members!

As you may know, Young Democrats age range is from 14-36 years old.

If you know someone in this age range who would like to become more involved, or if YOU are in this age range, please consider sharing or completing the form.

The younger generation IS the future- let’s show our support!

The signup form may be located t the following web address: http://tinyurl.com/m4eq7pk

Please let me know any questions you may have- it’s an exciting time to be Democrats!

Heller and the Keystone Amendments: Taxpayers on the Hook

Originally posted on Desert Beacon:

Heller 3 Before the Keystone Pipeline bill made it to a vote in the U.S. Senate there were some amendments which shed light on the mindset of the proponents of the construction. Remember, this pipeline is for the transportation of foreign oil (Canadian) through (not to) the United States to foreign markets. S.Amdt 155 came up for a vote, its sponsor Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) spoke in favor saying,

“Mr. President, I want to say that amendment No. 155 is a very important amendment. It is common sense. It is practical. The National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA as it is known, is one of the most emulated statutes in the world. It is something that many people see as valuable in other countries because NEPA, in fact, by many is referred to as the modern-day environmental Magna Carta. NEPA regulations require agencies to supplement already-issued environmental impact statements when significant new…

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The Rural Factor

— by Rich Dunn, RNDC 2nd Vice Chair

The ‘Rural Factor’ and the cooperative extension are prime examples of what’s at stake for the 15 rural counties in the 78th legislative session. If there’s a way for Clark and Washoe to zero out budget lines that fund the rurals’ unique needs, no one – most notably the governor – seems to give a thought to the consequences. The metro counties just take what they want because they can.

Rural Nevada is represented exclusively by Republicans, who now control both sides of the legislature. These have never been partisan issues, and our legislative representatives need to use their intra-party clout to restore these budget cuts.

All this is just a warmup for the water wars still to come. All 17 counties have less than 10 inches of precip a year, but only the rurals have any ground water left, water needed for AG, mining and environmental protection. But it looks very different from the state’s population centers. As Harry Reid said on his last stop in the rurals, if it comes down to a choice between growing alfalfa in White Pine and flushing toilets in Clark, he knows which side he would come down on. As do we.

WNC and GBC is receiving a lump of coal

Lahontan Valley News editorial published Jan 28, 2015

In the governor’s State of the State speech that outlined his education spending, two stepchildren of Nevada’s education funding received a lump of coal.

Because of a revision in the funding formula, the rural factor for community colleges in Fallon, Minden and Elko, for example, was eliminated. Local officials and some — not all — regents worked unsuccessfully to restore the Rural Factor, a formula based on lower enrollment to teacher ratios based on part-time faculty.

Not only were lawmakers asleep at their desks when the Rural Factor was eliminated years ago, but a majority of regents allowed the factor, which was created by former Fallon state Sens. Carl Dodge and Virgil Getto in the 1970s, to disappear without fanfare.

In 2013, Gov. Brian Sandoval and the legislature permitted “bridge funding” to help the community colleges transition to the new formula proposed more than two years ago.

Regents received $4.95 million over the biennium — $1.95 million for WNC (Western Nevada College) and $3 million for GBC (Great Basin College).

Chancellor Dan Klaich asked for another “bridge funding” measure of the same amount to help WNC and GBC during the next biennium, but the governor cut the request.

“We have requested you give these colleges two more years to get to the level of funding fully implied by the formula simply because the drop off is too steep for them to make that jump in two years,” Klaich told Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees last week.

And let’s examine funding for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), which had its budget and programs whacked more than 30 percent during the dark years of the Great Recession from 2009-2013. It would be important to see funding restored to UNCE’s budget since the governor has highly touted agriculture, the third largest industry in the state.

As we discussed in a prior editorial, the governor proposes money for a medical program at UNLV and $13 million for the Desert Research Institute, proposals that could either be delayed or reduced to provide bridge funding to WNC and GBC.

For example, during the next five years, we see more technical, advanced types of jobs coming into the state than those coming into the medical field. One economic development authority predicts as many as 51,000 jobs could be coming to Nevada within the decade.

Since additional money for WNC and GBC has been removed, then the Assembly and Senate must add bridge funding to ensure WNC and GBC have a major role in shaping Nevada’s economic future, not being pushed to the back of the room like some illegitimate, red-headed stepchildren.