The real story in Ukraine is what happens when somebody doesn’t play by the rules. It is one of the great examples of conflict resolution unresolved. It is frothed with personalities and political interests, historic sleights and economic targets, military force, diplomacy and big money rolled into a global storm. It’s also an old-fashioned tale. So far, without terrorism.
The old Cold War, which the Ukraine conflict resembles, was always about resources and territory—hegemony—never about markets and state collapse or ideological goals. The old Cold War displayed raw, unvarnished power. The annual military parades in Moscow with the latest Soviet hardware and massed troops in lockstep were designed to reassure its citizens at home and the world abroad of its power and fierceness and its absolute domination within its sphere.
The Soviets’ largest Cold War failure came in Afghanistan. Attempting to prop up a puppet regime, the Soviets were dragged into a long-term fight that proved unwinnable for the same reasons the Americans later discovered.
The December 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, surprisingly, was swift and without violence or troop movements—unlike what we see in Ukraine. Its most notable feature was the orderly transfer of power to new national entities. In less than a month, new governments were in place in the 12 republics that were its former satellites.
The Soviet flag had been taken down, the Russian flag hoisted. Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned and handed power to Boris Yeltsin.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine represent a backward step from the rule of law, the recognition of the democratic rights of people to pursue self-determination, and the right of state sovereignty and inviolate national borders.
The Russians made their move too soon. They showed up in unmarked uniforms like thugs. But I’m getting ahead of the story. It begins with the moral and political failure of the elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Soviet puppet whose gift was greed and a taste for big ticket extravagance, especially palatial residences. His weakness was an utter forfeit of skills for leadership and leveraging Ukraine’s national interests in its courtship by West and East.
To both sides, Ukraine is a vital interest.
He only had eyes for Russia.
The people of the Ukraine saw their future differently. Why be linked to a country whose economy was backwards, mired in the 1930s, without modern manufacturing, no thriving tech sector, no robust consumer sector, and failing infrastructure—and no plans for modernization?
Ukraine, on the other hand, with roughly 30% of Russia’s population, is in the top five global grain producers. With broad plains of fertile farmland, it is attractive to a Russia that still has trouble feeding itself. With modern market reforms, including financing credits, risk insurance, land reform, mechanized farming, this sector could increase its production and economic returns dramatically.
Ukraine also has well established industries in machine goods and aerospace.
But energy is Ukraine’s sweetest spot. And many of its energy projects and facilities are located in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, the areas with the largest numbers of ethnic Russians, areas showing support for Russia’s intrusion. Ukraine is a scatterwork of gas and oil pipelines, many leading to Europe, mostly supplied by Russian production in gas and oil. Ukraine is a big buyer of Russian oil and gas, and also a big reshipper through its critical pipelines.
These pipelines are what Putin eyes as the prize. In offering $15 billion to Ukraine before the president turned chicken, left the country while claiming the powers of office, holding press conferences on Russian soil, Russia planned on leveraging its economic assistance for hegemony over Ukraine’s energy sector, especially its pipeline rates. Moreover, Ukraine oil reserves rank it 50th in the world. Yet it imports all of its natural gas supplies from Russia. Already, Putin has ended Ukraine’s pricing discount. Continue reading Ukraine: No Rules, No Foul
Rape. Sexual violence. Guns. Denial of health care. Food stamps. Religious liberty. Gays. Immigrants. Jobs. Deficits. Defense. Is Arizona the new Mississippi?
Do you really practice your religious beliefs in business? Is there a religious doctrine that prohibits a believer, of any faith, from doing business—selling goods and services—with others who believe or live by different tenets? Is there a commandment from God that prohibits trade and business interactions with groups outside of your faith, or those whose behavior is interpreted as anathema to your faith and personal beliefs?
Did Moses miss a tablet?
Does your faith practice apply equally to giving and receiving? How far does your practice of rejection go? Will you reject a sentence or fine from a gay judge? Will you refuse treatment by a married gay doctor? Or not get your hair done by a married gay beautician? Will you send back a meal brought by a gay server? Will your gay radar constantly ping the world around you, causing you to be the flippered ball in the machine?
Does your personally decided prohibition of faith include members of your family, as it does in Dick Cheney’s household, where love had nothing to do with it and his and his daughter’s stance against gay marriage left him with a house divided.
Is this article of religious faith—no business interaction with gays—a personal inconvenience that challenges you and makes you uncomfortable, so you blame the victims of your prejudice, rather than acknowledge the inadequacy of your faith and the paucity of your good will?
Who passes these laws?
Not even the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Gnostic Gospels said shun the gays; do not sell to them. For faith is not affected or demonstrated by interactions, but by actions: the way I act with those with whom I interact is the real witness of my faith and belief!
This latest Arizona law seems a little creepy and paranoid. It substitutes personal preference for faith principle. Under the law’s hallelujah principle, it allows each believer to set the tenets of their own belief. If some Christians will sell me flowers if I marry or have a same-sex partner, other Christians may refuse. And if they do, I should make the sign of blessing and rejoice that I have not put their faith to the test or impinged on their freedom.
We are back in the looking glass zone.
In that bright tunnel, my elaborated personal beliefs are the source of my freedom and faith. Freedom is no longer a social promise that we mutually defend, lifting it higher. It is personal only. By law. There is no mutual trust. No common ground.
Society’s claim on freedom actually lifts freedom to its highest level: it allows me to believe while I help others who do me no harm. But if my freedom results in injury to you by debasement, missed economic opportunity, the denial of services and goods, I have not paid freedom forward. I have discriminated. I have sinned. Continue reading Is Arizona the New Mississippi?
Is it a delusion or a lie? A mistaken identity under stress and unreliable circumstances, or a catch-all fix, a safety outlet for violence and murder? The “I-thought-I-saw” defense?
Is ordering a pizza and not calling the police after shooting at a parked and then moving car filled with black male teenagers, striking one of them three times inside the car fleeing in self-defense, a reckless disregard and depraved indifference to human life—the legal text book definition of manslaughter? Or is it the vivid derangement of a mind and soulless heart that knows its own privilege to murder will be protected on a chain of unfounded, unsupported claims (I was in fear; I heard threats; I saw a gun; I fired to kill)?
That privilege tied to the new code, the “I-thought-I-saw” defense, was upheld with the same dispatch as the pizza was ordered. In Florida prosecutor Angela Corey’s office, justice is served as a custom order to defendants who have one thing in common: inflict death by shooting upon black male youth and acquittals and hung juries will result, letting defendants walk away from a justice blind to its own faults. Black life—and sympathy for its death—finds no justice in mercy.
Each killing enters a subterranean chamber of horrors. Each act of murder flogs moral courage and truth until they are unrecognizable. Then courage and truth are released to wander, broken and voiceless, though communities where they are eyewitnesses to their demolition as virtues, smashed over and over by a pall of evil that appears normal, that feints to want what we want—love, security, protection, joy, an inner peace, an outward happiness, the unspeakable treasures of a life. Yet that evil turns to strike with its stake, to destroy virtue and abandon love, and fill every empty heart with fear and hate, the passions of evil.
Killing and death are evil’s rewards. This subterranean chamber knows nothing of self-defense—as an act born of love, whose grief is forgiven by our mercy.
Instead, we have hate and make-believe.
The cry of the earth in pain has never been so great. Massacres reign after church in Northern Nigeria, killing hundreds. Conflict violence abounds throughout Africa, raping thousands. The brutality of bombs across the globe kills innocents by tens. For a century now, the great genocides against humanity have become political metaphors for attack politicians who blame the victims and dead. With impunity.
Military assaults against women rise steadily, in and out of the service, also by athletes from high school to professionals, by members of Congress who enable death and sexual violence by their silence and their words, by a politics whose ideology is more important than the statesmanship of an old fashioned, stand-up morality. The Republicans have no Abraham Lincolns. No Everett Dirksens. Continue reading Self-Defense: An Outlet for Violence and Murder?
Rand Paul is a political predator with a double standard.
In talking about a prospective Hillary Clinton candidacy, he mentioned the incident with Bill. The incident Newt Gingrich tried to impeach Bill for, Rand Paul reframed and called Bill’s involvement an act of “violence.” “Violence”? “The kind we should all be opposed to,” Rand Paul said.
So how did Rand Paul, who said “we should all oppose” sexual “violence” vote on the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the Senate last year? He voted “no”.
It seems some violence he doesn’t oppose. Here’s why, in his own words: “The legislation would increase benefits available under VAWA to specifically include victims of stalking and ‘cyber-stalking,’ as well as same-sex couples, and illegal immigrants who are victims of any sort of violence.”
It seems he doesn’t oppose the “violence” of GOP elected members of Congress, which, if framed from the same time period as President Clinton, includes inappropriate activities with pages and staffers’ wives, and more.
In 2004, Rep. Robert Sherman (PA) admitted a five-year affair with a staff member who had locked herself in the bathroom of his apartment and called 911 saying he tried to choke her. No charges were filed, but she later sued and won a non-disclosed settlement. The GOP leadership supported Sherman for re-election and so did Rick Santorum, who made a robo-call on his behalf.
2007 brought us Larry Craig (ID) and the bathroom toe tapping at the airport (considered a sign of solicitation for anonymous same-sex encounters) and Joseph McDade (PA), accused of flashing two women on a Florida beach in front of several eye witnesses. He reportedly fondled himself as he followed one.
In 2010, Congress member Mark Jackson (IN) admitted to having an extra-marital affair with a married woman hired to prepare weekly audio tapes of Rep. Jackson’s views on family values. When he resigned from Congress, he said in his statement, “I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.”
An earlier post I wrote on Rep. Scott Desjarlais (TN) covers Congress’ biggest stud: a doctor who had multiple affairs with hospital staff and even patients. An anti-abortion politician whose wife had an abortion as a result of his affairs.
Rand Paul is silent against the long-trending epidemic of inappropriate forms of sexual contact that plague his party. At the state and local levels, it often involves children. For safety’s sake, I omitted the stories and facts.
In fact, the Speaker, John Boehner, first won his seat after he beat Rep. Buz Lukens in a Republican primary. Lukens had been found guilty of paying a 16-year-old $40 for sex, and refused to resign from his Congress.
And of course, by Rand Paul’s own words, he’s open to cyber-stalking and sexual violence against gays and undocumented residents; this violence is okay—since it caused him to vote “no”.
But Rand Paul, who offers Hillary fake concern that doesn’t jibe with his politics or actions, gives a second reason for opposing VAWA and bringing his policy bona fides into question. Again, in his own words: “mandatory arrest laws can actually aggravate further domestic violence.” Continue reading Rand Paul’s Vicarious Politics
In last night’s State of the Union speech, Machiavelli and modern video would both have embraced the hope and pain, and the courage, in the eyes of a mother and wife desperate to save her new family home after working all her life and losing her job; her clap tapped out a determination of her resolute strength. The video framed the misty-eyed look of thankfulness of a mother whose surgery was insured just days before her emergency, and the proud shoulders of a business owner who stood because he raised his employee’s wages. It captured the deer-in-the-headlights group grimace of the Republican Caucus, embarrassed and sullen, when called out for “stale arguments” and 47 votes to repeal health care.
These images deeply touched hearts and souls—and revealed our political divide. Large and small, the pictures were unvarnished snapshots of our republic, its pain and promise.
Among this tangle of images, the President’s words found the ridge line, the high ground on either side of the valleys, that long, undulating strip that unites and traverses both; the difficult terrain that any hiker of ridge lines knows, though politicians often seem to miss its trail markers.
The President’s lofty words weren’t the cause of the applause. The noisy agreement came from his presentation of irrefutable examples and facts and the vision of his ideas—his presentation of the solid record of his successes we so rarely hear from him. His speech connected how policy and politics touch the lives of our neighbors and friends. He triumphantly defied Republicans to show how eliminating “big government” would save the small things that government provides that aid in bringing about success.
The alteration of small and large has led to higher graduation rates, 8 million new jobs, ending war, and moving the country toward self-sufficiency in energy.
The mention of a key three—a barkeep’s son, a factory worker’s daughter, a single mother’s son—offered another set of personal stories to show the length and breath of American opportunity. The inclusion of the barkeep’s son reminded us of the President’s graciousness—and Machiavelli’s axiom. Continue reading The Strength of the Union
We often forget the world is a dynamic place. Instead of embracing its splendor, our senses are blunted by our own inventions and appetites. We have forgotten how to think deeply and make change. We abandon beauty for bad taste. A recent television episode for families featured a child who had lost his tooth. The kid remarked, now he could “suck his own blood.”
Despite the political bloodsucking, it is the time of the year when we celebrate our best and brightest, those whose youth or age has allowed them to bring opportunity to society, and to be recognized for their special gifts. Did these gifts make a difference? Or did they gain the attention of the public eye because we were told they should? In this category belong pre-scandal Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and any guest on Fox.
Unemployment by State. FRED.
So ignore the national trends. Take a private inventory. Over the last year, who made a difference in your life? Why? How? In that same period, who did you make a difference to? How? Why?
The Tea Party hoped for a difference, but went into a rage of despair when they discovered that in the period between shutting down the government and passing the federal budget their influence had waned, and they still don’t understand why. They are busy making noises and plans to run against those members of Congress who abandoned their ideals. It seems more retribution than strategy.
I have never been sure what those ideals were, but apparently the Tea Party stood for closing the government. That action seemed their pinnacle of success. I remember the smiles and general glee, the joy of their words celebrating an achievement the rest of the world found unthinkable and stupid.
That act alone is a reason to “dig deep.” The Tea Party never seemed to understand that government is the legal structure that supports local business and global commerce, and maintains the social order, and aids the orderly transitions of generations. Their obsession with the balance sheet turns a blind eye to government’s real functions—the safety and security of our economy and our society, an expensive undertaking, but functions which create real long- and short-term benefits for all.
I think the Tea Party doesn’t like the “for all.” Definitely, it doesn’t like how we provide for the “all.” As best as I can tell, it plays favorites. It favors the wealthy who receive government help in greater dollar amounts than the poor, but the Tea Party seems to want to protect that part of the government balance sheet. Government helps the wealthy by removing its numbers from the balance sheet, so the transfer is not transparent and is also invisible. But big numbers posted in the budget before they go out seem to drive the Tea Party crazy.
But big numbers off the government balance sheet have no impact on their attention. Not one Congress member who proudly wears the Tea Party label apologized or was contrite that their action to shutter the federal government cost 120,000 jobs, and cost the economy $24 billion.
Will the mainstream alliance of big business, cronies, and Republican loyalists carry the day in the next Presidential cycle? Will the Tea Party, gaining skill at raising money and still popular as an assembly of anarchist-reactionaries, protect their turf?
Heritage Action, and the dark money the Koch brothers organizations provides, may make the difference. But will their support be enough to help the Tea Party hold its seats against a turning tide?
Democrats can point to a growing list of skilled politicians of exceptional merit. Going into 2016, really smart Democrats are focused on the state level and are building out grassroots organizations. New York State, with Gov. Cuomo and Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and New York City, with new Mayor de Blasio, are the ones to watch. Experienced, key operatives are coming into the state to put a progressive agenda in place, including expanding public education and higher taxes on the wealthy.
Sen. Gillibrand has been a real surprise among Senate Democrats. She deserves greater recognition for her no-holds-barred approach to arm twisting and her willingness to put principles first. She may be New York’s best Democratic female candidate for President. Continue reading Political Dynamics for 2014
“Pushing back on the direction of the political economy is vital to preserving government, whose costs and services can not be sustained by taxes alone.”
On a tenth of a cent over the course of four years, the New York Times estimated Goldman Sachs made $5 billion. Not in the market. Not in private accounts. Not in mergers, acquisitions, stock offerings, proprietary trading. Neither did that tenth of a cent or the $5 billion directly create new jobs. No.
This bizarre capital expansion took place in commodities. Aluminum. Its center wasn’t the bauxite mines of Guyana, Guinea, Vietnam or Australia. The main source of this mind-boggling wealth scheme lay in 27 long storage sheds along the Detroit River. Except for occasional barges and trains, it’s an abandoned, gritty area, an industrial wasteland with cheap rents, where aluminum ingots are stored. Behind near empty parking lots, a few giant forklifts unload and move the ingots back and forth with a skeleton crew.
The London Metal Exchange (LME) controls the spot price for aluminum, administering the market where buyers and sellers met to arrange contracts for supply and demand. These contracts have a premium added that is not a part of the market auction. It is always added to the market price. It’s small, very small. It’s the cost of storing refined aluminum in ingots, billets, wire rod, or other forms in LME-approved warehouses. The premium is time-sensitive; it increases the longer aluminum is stored. It doesn’t differ for each transaction, warehouse, or different storage times; the longest times determine the premium. It applies to every contract.
The story of how a tenth of a cent becomes $5 billion in three years begins when Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks, bought a global warehouse and logistics company, Metro International Trade Company, for an undisclosed price. An old rule of thumb says Goldman’s secrecy involved more than just being discreet, but Goldman’s purchase didn’t attract much attention.
You ask: what’s an investment bank filled with ambitious MBA traders doing buying a warehouse company with sheds filled with aluminum ingots on the Detroit waterfront? Isn’t there more profit in buying aluminum, the commodity itself? Trading, after all, is Goldman’s specialty. The firm can exploit the differences in global prices in micro-seconds, can analyze long- and short-term trends, can churn profits using its enormous cash resources. Why invest—in warehouses?
More: at the time, the LME was owned and operated by a consortium of banks that included Goldman; Goldman belonged to the elite group that set the market’s rules and regulated its trading! Why invest—in warehouses?
After purchasing Metro International, Goldman’s expenses were low; the business didn’t tie up capital or demand big cash flow—and only Goldman saw its hidden potential.
Goldman’s purchase of Metro International stemmed from a 2003 rule change by the Federal Reserve Bank that approved “certain commodity activities as complementary to financial activities and thus permissible for bank holding companies.” This landmark Federal Reserve decision permitted banks to range far afield from financial activities and trade in physical commodities, even electric utilities. It broke down the firewall between banking and commerce.
But Goldman didn’t trade aluminum; it stored it. Its warehouses were a part of an approved LME network of storage facilities.
After Goldman purchased Metro International, the average storage time for the processed aluminum in its warehouses rapidly increased from 6 weeks to 16 months. Metro International, the New York Times reported, stored 1.5 million tons in its Detroit facilities. The LME requires at least 3,000 tons be moved daily. For Goldman-owned Metro International that meant moving ingots between facilities, shuttling truckloads back and forth in round trips, taking an exorbitant amount of time to locate ingots already arranged and stacked in sections by ownership. Storage time increased tenfold, but that increase to 16 months only represented an additional tenth of a cent per can, in the retail market. Continue reading How a Tenth of a Cent Becomes $5 Billion
I never knew so many bad things would happen if I asked for and got a raise on the job. First, I would be told by everybody from HR (human resources) to our highest politicians in the Congress that I can’t be singled out for special treatment. If I get a raise everybody will want one, and fairness will demand everybody’s pay be increased!
That would cut into profits—bad for the stockholders and executives whose bonuses are tied to higher profits; bad for the economy because lowered profits would reduce company growth and therefore national economic growth. My raise would slow down the economic recovery and reduce exports since other countries have a wage advantage. Finally, since wages are tied to the job—and I am doing the same job—why should I warrant an increase for doing the same work?
Thinking about it, maybe I am greedy and self-serving for refusing to accept how my demand for more cash inflicts pain and deficits on important items on the balance sheet—profits, earnings, exports, GDP, the rate of growth.
Maybe I should consider a cut in pay. That way jobs would be created rather than lost! And America would be competitive!
Aah, even Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners, who, in television’s worst case of serial misogyny, continuously threatened to punch out his wife: “one of these days”) and Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O’Connor, who later played a Southern sheriff who romanced, married, and kissed a black woman) the television bastions of America’s iconic conservative confusion, never presented these arguments for the current wage status quo.
What they did present and what the arguments above lay out is another fact-free paradox. The form, and its suspension of reality, was once a favorite of advertisers.
Remember the 1967 Colt 45 malt liquor commercial whose drinker watched a series of short action adventure scenarios unfold right under his (never her!) eyes while being bored, even turned off, by their frivolous intrusions? Women, danger, action simply didn’t measure up to the hidden thrill and experience of the elixir poured professionally into the glass!
Believe it? You see it! You watch each step and desire every temptation.
It’s a great story! It creates an anti-hero to admire and emulate. Indifferent to everything except his special brand of joy; fully confident and unconcerned with the distractions and buzz that are the meaningless noise attempting to intrude on his power and space, his satisfactions are divorced from the reality around him.
The great thing about the fact-free paradox is it involves three strategies in one.
The first is follow-the-liar. This strategy involves an ontological assumption that money is God, despite the Pope being a Marxist (says Glenn Beck).
For questioning the intrinsic nature of wealth as all virtuous, Beck declared the Holy Man to be a hater. Beck, a former alcoholic, now a “dry drunk” (someone who exhibits the attitudes and behavior of a wet drunk), with severely damaged brain cells and weird voices, reduced one of the world largest faiths (and collection plates!) to a closet ideology in which the Bible makes no mention of social justice (or by Beck’s logic, divine justice) and poverty is no longer God’s problem.
Holidays have traditions of food where somehow the sun, rain and soil provide a harvest of many of our favorites, to which we mix in other ingredients, add heat or cold, and share. Many of our gifts originate far beyond our reach–as food begins with sun and rain. (Yes, I know about grow lights, and drip irrigation, and the goodies in Denver!) And much of what we grasp tightly, maybe we should let go.
My case in point begins with Mrs. Lucy Washington, the head cook at the black, segregated elementary and high school I attended. I love food, and Mrs. Lucy Washington cooked food that I loved. Her school lunches were better than anybody’s cooking that I knew in the whole world.
My mother, never jealous or put off by my praise and devotion to Mrs. Washington’s school lunch, was eager to hear as I got off the school bus the epicurean delight of the day. My mother took an active interest in this high point because she, too, loved food, loved me, and believed in my judgment and taste. So empowered, together we shared, revered and celebrated the gifts of Mrs. Lucy as I described her daily triumphs in the school cafeteria.
Mrs. Lucy Washington was a cook who could cook. She brought something special to the process that magically transformed the outcome.
Spiritual connections were rooted in what Mrs. Lucy did with food. Cooking was Mrs. Lucy’s gift, an irrevocable talent assigned to her fiber, as natural as breathing, as commonplace as sunshine, and every meal was Christmas Day.
Daily, for ten years the cafeteria had the excited buzz of the New York Stock Exchange. We students joyful entered into trades of tuna salad, Johnny Marzetti, meatloaf, chicken a la king, and fish sticks, but our favorite institutional currency was Mrs. Lucy’s breads–her fresh, hot corn biscuits (with fresh whole corn!), cheese biscuits, peanut butter and blueberry muffins, and cherry upside cake. Our trades had real value: two biscuits for an entrée was a common measure. Sometimes we organized complicated, three way swaps.
As we celebrated and traded, we established a community around her food. We also found something special in each other. We shared a bond, enriched by our differences, a circle of common values, a community that held differences, but built a common mission from those differences and shared its rewards.
The African proverb about the whole village helping to raise the child does not do justice to Mrs. Lucy’s single-handed work. Daily she brought us under her teachings. Through her extraordinary fare, she taught us lessons about pride, love, faith and sharing. Through her food we learned about caring, preparation, respect, thanksgiving and gifts.
What happened to the beloved community who gathered at Mrs. Lucy’s welcome table?
Gerald, later student council president, spent time in Guam as a federal personnel specialist and his son became the starting point guard at William and Mary. The Faust twins played for a state football championship; later, one of the twins died in a New York shoot-out. Danny, Mrs. Lucy’s son, studied voice and lived in Germany. He is a professional baritone and directs the voice program at the University of Michigan. He sings on all the world’s great stages, including Carnegie Hall. Charlie coached little league, became a social studies teacher, married Chris, had three children (Korona and the twins, Keith and Kenneth), and is still my best friend.
Back then, none of us knew that two hundred years before, colonial cookbooks treasured African dishes. Dishes like groundnut (peanut) or bennie (sesame) soup, or baked guinea squash (eggplant). Or a classic French preparation of a Charleston favorite of African origin, “okra a la daube” (braised okra!).
We had never heard of Oscar, the Gullah body servant for Francis Marion, who, “for liberty,” cooked a legendary sweet potato dinner at a secret camp in the South Carolina swamps for a meeting between the American patriot (the “Swamp Fox,” as Marion was known) and a British officer during the American Revolution–a scene captured in a painting that hangs in the US Capitol. We had never heard of Gullah Jack’s parched corn or crab claws, which, if eaten, promised invincibility to the enslaved who were to participate in a foiled 1822 Charleston rebellion organized by Gullah Jack’s compatriot, the freed carpenter, Denmark Vesey.
And in a different time, we didn’t know barbequed oxen, cooked all day, was served at midnight on December 1, 1863 to newly freed slaves in the nation’s very first Emancipation Proclamation celebration at Hilton Head, SC, on January 1, 1863. Continue reading Food for Thought
It begins with the massive abuse of police powers. The old guidelines are being gamed to permit greater use of firearms. Police are spraying shots at routine traffic stops, on sidewalks with unsuspecting innocents, inside of homes with elderly residents, for the tiniest of things.
The justice crisis has infiltrated the streets and the courts. It is acted out and often ruled justified. It can kill your kids. And maim you. Or leave everybody stumped at the reasons for your death. It can give your killers a pass.
Last week, a drug task force with the Ross County sheriff’s department executed a search warrant on a trailer in Chillicothe, Ohio. They expected to find a large cache of weapons and drugs.
But after detonating a flash grenade and entering the trailer, they found 35-year-old Krystal Barrows dying of a gunshot wound to the head. Weapons and heroin were also found, and six suspects arrested, according to The Chillicothe Gazette. Barrows later died from the wound.
A police investigation determined that the fatal shot had come from the weapon of Sgt. Brett McKnight. According to a police press release, the news came as a surprise to McKnight, who was allegedly unaware that he had even fired.
Then this comment, about a women shot dead by deputies, November 16th, in San Jose, CA:
It is ludicrous to assert that a 5’2″, 61 year old woman with a knife, disabled with MS, could have killed three trained law enforcement officers – they didn’t take ANY time to talk to her, based on the timeline of 2 minutes from the 911 call to her death.
Liberty University, a conservative Christian college with strong emphasis on religious values, is one of the few colleges that permits students to carry concealed weapons on campus. But this Liberty University student died for concealing a hammer:
In November, Joshua Hathaway, a freshman transfer with a 3.9 GPA and no disciplinary record, approached a security officer, claiming that “he had been robbed and someone stole his vehicle,” but then “pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer.” The security guard shot and killed Hathaway during the struggle.
And from Milwaukee, a teen who came into the possession of a gun was gunned down:
Milwaukee police say 17-year-old Shawn M. Rieves tried to carjack a vehicle, then fired a shot at it, before officers found and killed him.
Almost anyone holding a gun was fired upon by police, after initial, rapid commands.
But then police offer no explanation for a series of mystery deaths.
One, in Durham, in October:
A Durham resident, teenager and local Riverside High School student, Jesus Huerta, has died in a controversial encounter with the Durham Police Department. Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez claims the 17-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while under arrest in the back seat of a police squad car.
After Durham police officer Samuel Duncan arrested Huerta, reports state that Officer Duncan heard a loud noise from the vehicle’s rear seat and jumped out of his moving patrol cruiser. Duncan’s squad car then slammed into a parked van, leaving Huerta shot and killed. This incident occurred outside of the Durham Police Department headquarters parking lot.
The crisis extends equally in the other direction: the release of criminals charged and acquitted or charged and convicted with lenient, supervisory sentences when the mitigating circumstances are invented from whole cloth, reflecting delusions rather than facts. Even Martha Stewart wasn’t allowed to pick the country club of her choice! The wide disparity of adjudication is part of the crisis. Continue reading The Justice Crisis