Sunday, January 31, 2016
Misery is the word which comes to mind when trying to describe the reality of more than one point eight million people. In one of the most highly concentrated areas in the world, GAZA, continues to be a place where dreams are NOT made of. After being devastated in Israeli onslaughts on the region which has left thousands dead, tens of thousands wounded and at least one hundred thousand homeless, Gaza is in a critical state. All of this at the same time while the Israeli siege on the area continues to control everything coming in and out of the area.
During the Civil War authorities in Natchez, Mississippi forced tens of thousands of freed slaves into camps built in what’s known as “The Devil’s Punchbowl”…Historians estimate that in one year following Union troops’ arrivals in Natchez, up to 20,000 freed slaves died in ‘contraband camps’ below steep bluffs.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Along the southern border of the United States is a graveyard, where hundreds upon hundreds of human remains are waiting to be found in the sand. They are teenagers, mothers and spouses walking the only path available to them—away from poverty and violence: towards their families, the only place safer and easier to eat.
Join The Empire Files on-location to learn how Border Patrol has turned land into a weapon, to take the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors in Part 1 of this two-part series. http://multimedia.telesurtv.net/v/the...
On the behalf of New Era Detroit we ask that you not purchase Nestle's Bottle or Ice Mountain bottle water which is owned by Nestle. Governor Synder chief of staff Dennis Muchmore wife Deb Muchmore is the spokesman's for Nestle Bottle water. Dennis Muchmore was instrumental part of the decision making in Flint's water switch. As you know Nestle also was sued for stealing 500 gallons of water from Lake Huron per minute. DO NOT PURCHASE ICE MOUNTAIN OR NESTLE BOTTLED WATER.#NEWERADETROIT #FLINTWATERCRISIS
Friday, January 29, 2016
“They’re killing me!” Unbearable Body Cam Shows Cops Suffocate Innocent & Cuffed Man to Death
Oakland, CA — That now-familiar refrain represents the last spoken words by 51-year-old Oakland resident Hernan Jaramillo, an emotionally troubled man as his breath and life were crushed out of him by several police officers who had responded to his sister’s 911 call about a suspected intruder. Jaramillo was not a suspect and was supposedly not under arrest at the time of his death at the hands — and beneath the knees — of the officers. Just days ago the Oakland City Council hit up taxpayers to fund a $450,000 settlement in a lawsuit brought by the family of the victim.
The Contra Costa Times newspaper, which obtained bodycam video documenting the last five minutes before Jaramillo lost consciousness, reports that “The police department did not respond to questions about the incident, including whether an internal investigation was conducted and if the department has policies on restraint and medical treatment.”
Jaramillo’s sister Ana Biocini called the police at about 1:30 a.m. to report a disturbance that she thought might have been an intruder. When several officers arrived, they found Biocini barricaded in her bedroom. She tossed the house keys to one of them through her bedroom window. After they entered the home, Biocini told them that the noise apparently had come from her brother’s bedroom.
From the beginning of the incident, the police were aware that Jaramillo had been identified as a victim, not as an intruder. This is admitted by the City’s reply to the lawsuit, which claims that Biocini “frantically pleaded for police to `come quickly’ because intruders were viciously attacking her brother and were going to kill her next.”
After the officers knocked, Jaramillo tentatively opened his door. When he refused to admit the officers into his bedroom, he was seized and handcuffed and forced from the home. The lawsuit recounts that Biocini and several neighbors — who had been drawn by the commotion — repeatedly urged the officers to leave Jaramillo alone, since he was not the suspected intruder. Claiming that the puzzled (and, apparently, intoxicated) man was impeding the investigation, the officers tried to force him to sit in the back of a patrol car while insisting — implausibly — that he was “not under arrest.”
Wearying of Jaramillo’s legally justified intransigence, several officers threw him face-down on the ground. At about the same time, one of his hands slipped free from the cuffs. The lawsuit, citing multiple eyewitnesses, asserts that “One officer pressed his knee into Mr. Jaramillo’s back while other officers used their weight to hold him down.”
Once again cuffed behind his back, his face ground into the pavement, Jaramillo cried out repeatedly to his sister that he was having difficulty breathing and that the officers were “killing” him. At one point in the video, Biocini, speaking in Spanish, apparently asked that her brother be permitted to sit up.
Eventually, “Jaramillo became unresponsive,” narrates the lawsuit. He was “visibly limp,””seemingly lifeless,” and “covered in blood” when he was rolled over. Paramedics summoned to the scene attempted to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital shortly thereafter.
In its reply to the lawsuit, the City of Oakland invoked the all-sufficient justification for lethal police misconduct: “Because the officers acted reasonably under the circumstances in choosing to detain Jaramillo, they are entitled to qualified immunity.”
Could private security officers who behaved in the same “reasonable” fashion likewise claim “qualified immunity” if their actions led to the death of a similarly situated victim? There is no reason to believe that they could, unless they were government-licensed police officers moonlighting as private security.
In a 2014 case from Dayton, Ohio, two security guards at an apartment complex fatally shot a man who was considered a trespasser and disobeyed their “orders” not to leave. On occasions too numerous to recount, actions of this kind by police officers have been ruled “justified.” In this case, however, the Montgomery County District Attorney insisted that “The shooters were employed as private security guards through Ranger Security – they were not police officers. They did not have any special arrest powers, authority or privileges beyond what a private citizen would have…. [T]hese private security guards had no legal authority to detain or attempt to detain the victim, and had no legal authority to use or threaten to use deadly force in order to make the victim comply with their orders.”
The needless death of Hernan Jaramillo — who, once again, was regarded as the victim, not the perpetrator, of a break-in and possible assault — underscores the fatal consequences of combining “qualified immunity” with a license to employ discretionary violence. When “helping” can take the form of cuffing, a leg-sweep, grinding the victim’s head in the pavement, and then dog-piling on him until his heart gives out — and those who perform that “service” cannot be held individually liable — a culture of lethal impunity will take root and flourish.
The Oakland PD has “an entrenched culture … of promoting, tolerating, and/or ratifying with deliberate indifference the making of improper detentions and arrests,” asserts the lawsuit. “The City of Oakland’s failure to discipline or retrain any of the involved police officers is evidence of an official policy, entrenched culture and posture of deliberate indifference toward protecting citizen’s rights and the resulting false and arrests and injuries [are] a proximate result of the City of Oakland’s failure to properly supervise its officers.”
Had the case gone to trial, rather than being disposed of in familiar fashion — a settlement underwritten by those supposedly served by the Oakland PD — the case of Officer Robert Roche might have been cited as evidence of the department’s entrenched culture of corrupt impunity, and its institutional indifference regarding critical injuries to citizens.
After Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was struck in the head by a lead-lined beanbag round during an October 25, 2011 protest in Oakland, Officer Robert Roche fired a CS tear-gas canister into a crowd of people who had gathered to help him. This act of self-indulgent sadism is hardly out of what passes for Roche’s character: As a SWAT operative, Roche was involved in three fatal shootings, and has posted a photograph boasting of his accomplishments as a killer.
“That’s the last thing many of the more observant people I’ve `met’ have ever seen,” gloated a caption Roche composed for a photograph of himself in a prone sniper’s position. “Consider yourself fortunate.”
In response to public outrage over Roche’s criminal actions, the Oakland PD fired the officer, who had been placed on paid vacation (aka “administrative leave”) for two years. In March 2013, Oakland residents were soaked to underwrite a $4.5 million settlement with Olsen. The following month, Roche filed for arbitration to get his job back — and in late 2014 he was reinstated to the force and awarded two years’ back pay.
There was no substantive dispute as to whether Roche’s assault was “unreasonable” and illegal. However, in arbitration proceedings Roche successfully used the “Nuremberg Defense,” insisting (in the words of a report from PoliceOne.com) that his actions were “justified because he was following a superior officer’s orders.”
Roche’s on-site commander, Captain Paul Figueroa, is now the Oakland PD’s assistant chief. Apparently, he wasn’t held liable for Roche’s criminal actions because no specific order to fire was clearly given.
This is a case of self-reinforcing police impunity: Roche is exonerated because he was just following orders; Figueroa, for his part, isn’t responsible for Roche’s crime because he was just ordering followers. In his new position, Figueroa helps define the policies and disciplinary standards governing officers like those who “helped” Hernan Jaramillo by assaulting and fatally suffocating him.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/i-breathe-again-unbearable-video/#C3EahIb4MqkQ5u7f.99
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Cable rules are changing after months of pressure from liberal senators.
WASHINGTON -- Cable customers who are tired of paying through the nose to rent set-top boxes are about to see some serious savings, thanks to a new proposal from the Federal Communications Commission.
The new regulation would open up the set-top box market to consumer choice so that customers could rent or buy devices from providers other than their cable companies. About 99 percent of cable customers currently rent set-top boxes from their cable company. According to a survey commissioned by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), cable customers pay an average of $232 a year for those rentals -- a $20 billion market annually, just for set-top box rentals.
Set-top box fees have soared, even as prices for newer technology have plummeted. Consumer payments for set-top boxes are up 185 percent over the past two decades, according to FCC estimates, even as prices for laptops and cell phones have fallen.
Up to $14 billion of the total market is economically pointless profit for cable companies, according to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America and Public Knowledge, a nonprofit Internet freedom group. Big cable companies including Comcast and Verizon have leveraged their market power to charge prices far higher than what would be permitted in a competitive industry.
Cable companies and their lobbyists are furious about the plan, which the commission is set to vote on Feb. 18. But the proposal didn't emerge from a vacuum. Liberal senators have been pressuring the FCC to act on cable "monopolies" for months. In July, current Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) organized a letter calling on the agency to collect a host of consumer pricing information from cable companies -- a move designed to show that in many regions of the country, households pay arbitrarily high prices due to a lack of other cable options. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Markey and Blumenthal all signed on to the letter.
After Markey and Blumenthal did their own pricing survey in July, they organized another letter to the FCC in November, specifically targeting set-top boxes. Sanders, Warren and Franken all signed on, as did Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
A lot of congressional work doesn't involve voting on legislation. Simply writing a letter to a regulatory agency can often influence policy. That pressure can both help and hurt big firms, even in a Democratic administration ostensibly committed to helping consumers. In recent years, financial regulators have repeatedly watered down key banking rules after being pressured by members of Congress. The Senate campaign against the FCC, however, had the opposite function -- pushing the FCC to move on a policy that helps consumers save money by cutting into big corporate profits.
The FCC, of course, wouldn't have introduced its rule if it didn't want to. And other expert consumer groups -- the Consumer Federation of America and Public Knowledge, for instance -- clearly played a role. But the rulemaking still serves as a concrete example of successful policymaking by a handful of liberal senators in an era of almost total congressional gridlock.
Samuel Wilson/The Flint Journal/AP
According to newly discovered emails, Michigan officials were trucking clean water to a state building in Flint in January 2015, long before they acknowledged to residents that the city had a contamination problem.
One of the emails, which were obtained by the group Progress Michigan, was sent from the state Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. It reads, "While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements."
The email was sent just days after the city sent out an advisory about high levels of trihalomethanes in its water but maintained that, for healthy individuals, the water was safe to drink. Residents had been reporting smelly, tainted water and adverse health conditions related to it since shortly after Flint switched water sources in April 2014.
Until October 2015, the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder maintained that it was unaware of high levels of lead in Flint's water. Progress Michigan's Lonnie Scott says the emails "blow a hole in the governor's timeline for when they knew or started to have concerns about Flint water. They were helping state employees while telling everyone else that there was nothing to worry about."
An administration representative was not immediately available for comment.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. Having gone far beyond an internal political struggle, the war is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and more.
To simplify this web of enemies and friends in the regional war, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books including “The Poorer Nations", "A People’s History of the Third World” and "Arab Spring, Libyan Winter".
Chuck Rocha, Solidarity Strategies & Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange/CODEPINK/Drone Warfare, joins Thom. So - Is Bernie right - would he win in a match-up against two multibillionaires? And who could really get excited about a presidential campaign for another New York billionaire whose name is synonymous with Wall Street and big business in America? The Billionaires just don’t get it.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Marley Dias is an 11-year-old New Jersey resident who’s spent more time giving back to her community in her brief time on this planet than most of us will spend in a lifetime. She’s received a grant from Disney, traveled to Ghana to help feed orphans, and now—in her latest act of altruism—she’s rounding up children’s books that feature black female leads so that she and her peers have more fictional characters to look up to.
The project, titled #1000BlackGirlBooks, started when Marley complained to her mother about reading too many books about white male protagonists in school.
From the Philly Voice:
“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.”
Marley is looking to collect 1000 books featuring black female protagonists by February 1. She is nearly halfway to her goal.
“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Marley says. “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects—and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”
“For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them—to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have,” Marley’s mother, Janice Johnson Dias, tells the Philly Voice.
Marley, who hopes to one day edit her own magazine and “continue social action” for the rest of her life, will catalog the donated books and transport them to a children’s book drive in Jamaica. She and her mother are also trying to start a small library in Philadelphia.
A fundraising website describes Marley’s project thusly:
She is currently taking both cash and book donations. Books can be sent to the following address:Frustrated by the lack of books about black girls in her school curriculum, Marley Dias launched this campaign to collect 1000 books where black girls are the main characters. The #1000blackgirlbooks project is her BAM social action project for 2016. Books will be donated to Retreat Primary and Junior School and Library in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica where her mother and GrassROOTS’ President, Dr. Johnson Dias, was raised as a child.
GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street, Suite 323, West Orange, NJ 07052
59 Main Street, Suite 323, West Orange, NJ 07052
Keep up the good work, young shero.
U.S. Senator Says The President Will Be Granted Unlimited War Powers With No Expiration Date!? "It Is A Declaration Of International Martial Law"
The U.S. Senate is poised to give the President and the next president unprecedented war powers that amount to declaring martial law upon the entire world. “This resolution is a total rewrite of the War Powers Clause in the U.S. Constitution,” said Sen. Chris Murphy. “It is essentially a declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will allow him or her to send U.S. troops almost anywhere in the world, for almost any reason, with absolutely no limitations.” The resolution is a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) for declaring war on ISIS. It would give the president even more power than the AUMF granted to Bush after 9/11, which is still in place today.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
By Andrew Tilghman
January 22, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Military Times" - U.S. special operations troops have reportedly taken over an airfield in northeastern Syria, potentially clearing the way to flow more American military support to friendly militias fighting the Islamic State group.
A small team of U.S. troops is setting up a base camp at Rmeilan Air Base in the Syrian Kurdish region near Syria's Iraqi and Turkish borders, according to local reports.
American helicopters operated at the base over the past couple of weeks as local workers expanded the runway, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The airfield was until recently under control of the Syrian Kurdish forces, known as the YPG, but was turned over to the U.S. to help expand American support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the loose-knit coalition of American-backed militants fighting the Islamic State group.
"Under a deal with the YPG, the U.S. was given control of the airport. The purpose of this deal is to back up the SDF, by providing weapons and an air base for U.S. warplanes," an SDF spokesperson, Taj Kordsh, told Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based international news network, in a report publishedWednesday.
In December, a team of fewer than 50 U.S. special operations troops entered Syria for the first time and made face-to-face contact with the friendly Syrian militants, defense official said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, Army Col. Steve Warren, declined to comment on the reports of Americans using the base.
"That operation is ongoing. But because of the special nature of these forces, it's very important that we not discuss specifically where they're located," Warren told reporters Wednesday.
Rmeilan is near some of Syria's major oil production facilities.
The airfield is in the Hasakah region, where American-backed militias have been mounting offensive operations against Islamic State-held territory northeast of the extremist group's stronghold in Raqqa.
It is also near a key supply line connecting Raqqa to the Islamic State group's second major city, Mosul, Iraq. Cutting that supply line is a key piece of the current American strategy for defeating the group.
Control of the airfield would help U.S. troops expedite delivery of weapons and ammunition to the region as well as operate more aircraft such as medevac helicopters, armed drones or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
Imagery Supports Claims of U.S. Military Activity in Syria
January 22, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Stratfor " - As Syria's rebel coalition expands its fight against the Islamic State, so too does it appear that the United States is expanding its support of the rebels. Low-resolution satellite imagery taken Dec. 28 shows construction underway to extend the runway at an airfield in Rmeilan, al-Hasaka province, which would prepare the site to accommodate larger aircraft. (Similar images captured over the course of the last few weeks had been obscured by cloud cover, making it difficult to discern more recent ground activity.) Rumors of the U.S. arrival at Rmeilan originally surfaced in early January; the images confirm that at least some of those rumors are true.
Before the war, the airfield was an agricultural airstrip used by the Syrian government. As such, its runway was only 2,300 feet (700 meters) long, a length that appears to be doubling. The airfield has since been captured by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which has controlled the airport for more than two years.
The new and improved infrastructure could help the Syrian Democratic Forces conduct offensive operations against the Islamic State. The United States has already carried out two weapons airdrops to the rebel Syrian Arab Coalition, a faction of the Syrian Democratic Forces. But additional assistance in the Syrian Democratic Forces' fight against the Islamic State, including efforts to drive the extremist group from its self-declared capital in Raqqa, would require a broader logistical effort than is currently underway. Expanding the Rmeilan runway could expedite this process by allowing U.S. airplanes to land and drop off supplies instead of continuing to rely on airdrops.
The U.S. involvement in al-Hasaka province would not be so unusual; the United States nearly always attempts to establish an air bridge to support the semi-permanent positions of the conflicts in which it operates. But it comes at a time when Russia similarly builds up its own military presence there. A Russian detachment composed of logistics personnel and military intelligence officers has reportedly arrived in Qamishli airport, an airfield in al-Hasaka controlled by forces loyal to the Syrian government. While the Russians will likely try to improve the logistical capability of the airfield, they have reportedly already sought to enhance their influence with the various rebel militia groups operating in the province.
Friday, January 22, 2016
"Is It Ok To Snitch to Police On The Police???"
It’s fairly common for New Yorkers who are stopped and frisked by the police to claim that they have been targeted, or profiled. But this time, a lot more people are listening to this claim than usual.
A Caucasian police officer has in fact been punished and pulled off active duty after he was proven to have have harassed NYPD Deputy Chief Douglas Zeigler.
Zeigler is the highest-ranking African American officer in the NYPD. He says point blank that he was the victim of racial profiling.
He explains that he was parked in a department-issued SUV, but was wearing plainclothes. That’s when two lower-ranking NYPD officers approached him, according to the New York Daily News.
“In his briefing to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Zeigler said the two cops, who are white, had no legitimate reason to approach his SUV, ranking sources said.
“After they ordered him to get out, one officer did not believe the NYPD identification Zeigler gave him.”
“When one officer spotted Zeigler’s service weapon through the rolled-down window, he yelled “Gun!” according to sources who have spoken with the officers, the New York Daily News reports.
Both cops raised their weapons and ordered the driver out of the car, sources said.
Instead of saying he was an armed member of the NYPD, Zeigler shouted, “Don’t you know who I am?” the sources said.”
The two officers have been reprimanded, with the department acknowledging that this was a clear instance of racial profiling.
WCBS reports the following:
The incident was reported as police are being criticized for stopping and frisking record numbers of pedestrians — about 145,000 in the first quarter of this year. The majority of them were black or Hispanic.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been leading demonstrations in the city to protest the acquittals of three police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed man as he left his bachelor party, took note of the Zeigler incident while speaking at his weekly rally in Harlem.
“You can’t make this stuff up!” he said. “The problem isn’t that they didn’t recognize him. It is that they don’t recognize our rights!”
State Senator Eric Adams commented, “something is wrong with our Police Department and their interactions with people of color.”
Do you agree that there is a systemic problem with racial profiling amongst police officers? Or was this just an isolated incident?