The Summer's Solstice Signals The Beginning of Dark Dreams

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Digger deeper means looking around the edges, going within, and focusing on the obvious denials and lies that inform politics, searching out why and its meanings for all. . . . → Read More: The Summer’s Solstice Signals The Beginning of Dark Dreams

Exploring Our Paradoxes

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

DDThere is a convergence of paradoxes no one seems to understand. There is an outward motion that is taking unusual turns and twists, and politicians are using these unique circumstances and unfamiliar challenges to offer and project blame.

But blame obscures our paradoxes. It’s a pretense to an easy answer that misses the real point. One main point is itself a paradox: the point that paradoxes are often missed. They are confusing and confounding. Paradoxes challenge not only our identity and legacy, the missions we have “accomplished,” the “hope” at the center of our faith and courage—and our voting—they challenge the zeitgeist we cherish—paradoxes challenge the spirit of the age. All around us, paradoxes are redefining our times. Our response is we fuss, surrender, complain or turn mean.

One major American institution, driven by greed and ego, has been taken over by its own self-created paradox: the media that is to inform us often conceals and shades from us the most important facts it purports are its reason to exist. Too often, its reporting offers no analysis. Its experts spend too much time on politics and prophecy—answering the unanswerable, “what happens next?” Seldom does it answer what happened before.

The news, intended to inform us, is a tabula rasa (an erased tablet) and instead is shaped by its thrill factor, be it warmth or fear. Warmth: YouTube pets parade through the networks; cute, cuddly, silly; American. Fear, horror: any GOP sound bite, any battlefield; any natural disaster or crime scene or courtroom.

How many networks invited or interviewed any of the 51 African heads of state who attended the historic first US-African Leaders summit, held in Washington, DC less than 3 weeks ago? How many Americans know what agreements were signed? What commitments were made for future plans? Or what these continental leaders see as their most important needs?

How many media companies have focused on the obvious in the story of ISIS (or ISIL, as the administration terms the terrorist group): who is providing its well organized and funded supply chain? Capturing battlefield weapons from fleeing regulars doesn’t supply spare parts. Nor does the mass killing of civilians provide the bullets and other armaments that continue to be readily available in abundant supply to ISIS as it fights on multiple fronts. Who keeps its trucks filled with gas, feeds its mob of killers—who trained them in military discipline and tactics—when none of these skills, experiences and capacities are a part of its leadership’s resume?

Don’t jump to the easy answer; don’t be quick to blame.

The smooth operation and steady funding points to more than Arab benefactors; to my mind, only the Russians have the ability to organize a clandestine supply chain of the size and variety ISIS requires, especially in the middle of multiple conflicts surrounded by hostile states. But how? The media appears to have no interest in knowing the “how” of this important hidden story.

And American media absolutely refuses to work its way through the paradox of race and violence, especially violence as state actions driven by group and individual attitudes, supported by law and court decisions, backed by paranoid, local communities.

Not once has the media pointed out that police brutality was an assumed routine in black communities nationwide well into the 1970s. Suspects were beaten into confessions. Police killings went unquestioned. And white youth also suffered death. In May 1970, the Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds, killing 4 unarmed college students at Kent State. At one point in the 1970s, in Detroit, the city with the highest incidence of police killings in the 1970s, 40 fatal police shootings resulted in only 4 misdemeanor charges.

Police killings are not only committed against black male teenagers. The elderly and mentally ill often are killed by officers sworn to protect the lives of those they serve. Yet police investigators often focus on justifying shootings by officers, rather than determining what really took place. Investigators routinely aid officers in changing stories to protect themselves. Investigators also regularly fail to interview eyewitnesses and gather evidence against the police.

America has increased the numbers of police, from 602,000 in 1992 to 794,000 in 2012; decreased the likelihood of police dying in service by 33%, as crime rates have fallen; yet, civilians killed by police were estimated at 587 for 2012. More than 5,000 civilians killed in the decade between 2002 and 2012, according to the Justice Policy Institute. That 5,000 greatly exceeds the numbers of Americans killed by terrorists in the same period.

The police have created the paradox of brute force: its very use is justified by its use. And its use is quickly becoming overuse, changing the law by attitudes to accommodate actions at the margins of law and beyond the line of justice. Unlike sports, over the line isn’t a win; it’s a loss of American freedom. It targets communities and individuals, robs segments of the population of the right to live without fear.

The paradox of those who are to protect us using their power to create a tyranny that micromanages behavior by confrontational deadly force points to the most bewildering paradox we confront. Continue reading Exploring Our Paradoxes

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

The Justice Crisis

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

DDWe have a justice crisis. It is growing.

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

The Price of Injustice

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

What’s the price of injustice? What’s its costs to the human soul?

There is a lot of buzz in the world, from the Zimmerman trial’s 100-city rallies this weekend to Brazil’s millions-month-long protests of transportation costs and inadequate health care; from Edward Snowden’s search for asylum to the military’s intervention in Egypt to the ongoing insurgent fighting in the Sudan and the New York city council debate over Stop-and-Frisk that has made 4 million warrantless personal searches in a decade. In these times of massive scale events, little real change seems to be breaking through.

Why are we stuck? Not just politically, on budgets, rights, jobs, debt, the recovery, the environment, safety nets, and districts across the country drawn like fiefs, controlled by political overlords. Why are we stuck, inside our heads and hearts, in views and reasons that seem to accept or impose the intolerable? How did our spirits come to be divided?

Why are so many campaigns being conducted against basic freedoms, when we take a wide-angle view?

The main reason is wealth, its illusion, displacement and disenchantment—the way it historically fuses a reactionary penchant for violence into a society rather than the lazy idleness that the political bokors claim. A bokor is a leader of the zombies, one who can summon them at will—the mindless whom Marx once called the lumpen. Fanon called them “the Damned of the World,” (translated into English, “The Wretched of the Earth”).

As it does to the earth and the environment, wealth causes in society a violent dislocation and instability—we have seen the results of conquistadors and the Latin drug cartels; we have forgotten the lessons of the African slave trade, whose generation of wealth disrupted Africa and fueled the industrial revolution. America’s plantation slavery saved Sweden from bankruptcy by increasing the demand for its iron ore for hoe culture.

Real divisions created by the enormous tide of wealth—which the Koch brothers celebrated recently in ads reminding us, in America, we are still the 1% globally—the ad offered as a penitential source of pride—while utterly missing how much more grotesque that makes the contrast between “our” 1 %, their 1 %, and the rest of the world!

Real divisions of violence and conflict reside in culture; a maze of meanings, conversations and choices; the collective will and individual expressions that dial in who we are outside legislation, policy and Wall Street greed.

In politics, this culture divide is spoken of in images framed as stereotypes; straw figures offered as shrills and shells in debates over the balance sheet and safety nets. Politics cites issues and ignores real elements of the divide or exploits them. It clouds culture’s massive fissures and commonalities, and culture’s usefulness as a tactical guide. Continue reading The Price of Injustice

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Just Another Day of Injustice in the USA

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

The George Zimmerman trial ended with his acquittal. He is now a free man, and a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, is dead. The defense portrayed Zimmerman as a victim of a young black thug. The fact that he ignored the directions of the police dispatcher not to follow Martin, and his rather limited list of injuries, do not match the lethal force used by Zimmerman.

Just another day in the US injustice system.

There are plenty of cases where black defendants are found guilty and punished more severely than white defendants. Powder versus crack cocaine is an example, but the examples are legion; a Google search will show them. In the presence of a racist caste society, the darker-skinned members of the lower caste are considered criminals and not really citizens, or even people. The laws and rules do not matter because those protections are not extended to them, only the penalties. In the famed segment of the ABC program What Would You Do? that shows three different people dealing with a locked bicycle, a black man, a white man and a white woman, the black man was immediately interrogated by passersby and had the police called on him; the white man was looked at, but no action taken by passersby; the white woman said that she was trying to steal the bike and assistance was offered. If there were any question that race matters, it does. Innocent until proven guilty does not apply to everyone.

Supposedly, we’re a nation of laws. However, the laws have always been ignored when it is convenient, not to mention that the laws do not apply to everyone. Roger Taney, Chief Justice in the Dred Scott decision, summed it up when he said that the Negro had no rights that the white man need respect. See the Medgar Evers and Emmitt Till cases, and the concept of jury nullification. In jury nullification, the jury has the option of ignoring the charges of the accused and declaring the accused not guilty, regardless of the evidence presented. That’s why cases in the pre-Civil Rights Era with white defendants and black victims rarely ended in the conviction of the accused. The federal government had to pass civil rights laws so that they could prosecute when the states would not.

Self-defense and legal protections are not for black people. The law and juries failed Marissa Alexander, John McNeil and John White; all black defendants with self-defense claims. Alexander used a gun to defend herself from an abusive husband; McNeil and White defended themselves against white attackers. Their claims were rejected and all were convicted and sentenced.

OJ Simpson, Zimmerman, and Rodney King

A lot of people cite the result of the OJ Simpson trial as a great injustice, but it is noted for the wrong reasons. It is not that OJ Simpson was acquitted, but the fact that a black man, with enough money, got away with killing white people. That is never supposed to happen, period only the other way around. Note that the corrupted and poorly done LAPD investigation is never mentioned. Continue reading Just Another Day of Injustice in the USA

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Digging Deeper: Are Government Fines a Firewall?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Who thinks fines work? Large fines, in the millions and billions of dollars, do they really change the corporate culture of open corruption, criminal behavior, the rule-breaking practices, the willingness to cheat that they are supposed to punish and deter?  Or are they  the cost of doing business for many businesses, especially large, multi-national corporations, whose continued violations damage US security and policy and are a major theft of taxpayers’ money?

In May 2011, the Department of State levied its largest civil penalty ever, $79 million, against a subsidiary of a British firm, BAE Systems, for illegal arms trafficking, after the firm was convicted of conspiracy to violate two international laws an estimated 2,591 times. 2,600 arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Hungry, Tanzania and Sweden, among other countries, were a part of the violations. The State Department settlement was the civil case. BAE Systems paid a $400 million criminal fine.

The Department of State’s Office of Defense Trade Controls addresses civil violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the two acts most frequently violated.

After it was all over, BAE Systems issued a statement thanking the State Department for its help in bringing the company’s inventory, record keeping, and sales program into international compliance. Of course, it has “initiated the appropriate steps.” BAE System is one of the Defense Department’s Top 10 contractors.

Penalties and fines–paid to the Department of State? By military procurers? Yes, State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs investigates, charges and negotiates civil settlements of US and international violations of arms trade agreements and regulations. This March (2012) it settled nine violations by New Jersey’s Alpine Aerospace Corporation acts for $30,000.

In late June (2012), DDTC landed a bigger fish, a major Connecticut defense contractor, the bellwether United Technologies (UTC). According to a State Department announcement, UTC was fined $75 million “global settlement” for violations of ITAR with China, dating back to 2002, some involving military software. Its stock price rose 3.5% last Friday on the news. State said, “UTC’s numerous violations demonstrated a systemic, corporate-wide failure to maintain effective ITAR controls.” The investigation and fine addressed “arms export violations to China, false and belated disclosures to the U.S. Government about these illegal exports, and many other compliance failures.” But $20 million of the fine was suspended and returned to UTC to be used for remedial compliance!

What court or legal authority gives you money back? Especially after you have potentially damaged foreign policy and arms trade agreements involving software with a major power with whom we have major differences? This is not an intervention with a certificate of completion. These fines were not for acts that were inadvertent, causal or occasional. They were multiple, sustained, and intentional.

In many cases, they were corruption in plain sight, a complete failure of oversight.

Since 2007, the Justice Department has a 44 page list that summarizes its major indictments and arrests for defense exports. These include:

  1. ~A January 2011 arrest for possession of 300 automatic assault rifles, 150 grenades and other remote detonated explosive devices.
  2. ~A January 2011 $15.5 million fine and prison terms for providing China with restricted electronics including military phased array radar, guidance systems and satellite communication systems.
  3. ~A January 2011 attempted sale of an F-5 fighter plane to Iran.
  4. ~October 2010, 58 tons of weapons and ammunition to Sri Lanka.
  5. ~A $4 million arms ship to the Ivory Coast.

Are fines closing the gates on the commerce that daily seems to compromise US security? Are the variety of violators operating without fear, taking advantage of lax regulation and oversight to direct arms and technology worldwide while reaping spectacular profits? Media covers the financial markets and their stumbles are front page news. Defense is an ongoing market that represents a bigger and more deadly threat that accumulates daily violations as a matter of course, but is ignored and off the radar of public consciousness. Why? Continue reading Digging Deeper: Are Government Fines a Firewall?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+