U.S. Politics

Cop Charged With Elder Abuse After Slamming 69-Year-Old’s Head Into Cement (VIDEO)


A Georgia cop is in hot water after cell phone video revealed that he lied about what happened between him and an elderly man.

Former Clayton County police officer Ryan Hall was indicted by a grand jury on one count of simple battery, stemming from his treatment of 69-year-old Dhoruba Bin-Wahad. The incident occurred as police responded to a call about a possible burglary. The property had previously been abandoned, and Bin-Wahad, who had just rented it, was in the process of moving in.

Police reports say that officers tried to arrest Bin-Wahad after he told them that there was nobody inside the house, and they believed that they had seen somebody. The person they saw turned out to be another police officer. Hall wrote in his arrest report that Bin-Wahad was “uncooperative and verbally argumentative.”

Hall was released from the police force after internal affairs investigators examined the cell phone video. They determined that Hall’s version of what happened did not match what they saw.

The unedited video shows Bin-Wahad seated on the front porch, when suddenly, Hall grabs his left arm and lifts him up, turning him around and throwing him into the brick wall of the house. Bin-Wahad said that he suffered head and neck injuries in the encounter.

Bin-Wahad filed a complaint with the police department following the incident. He told reporters at a press conference,

“I was humiliated. At first, I didn’t want to move into my home. I didn’t want neighbors thinking I was some kind of criminal moving into the neighborhood.”

According to WSB, following the indictment, Bin-Wahad’s lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis, said he wants felony charges brought against Hall. While he said he was happy that a black man assaulted by the police could win a decision like this in Georgia, Davis said that this indictment was “the beginning of what we believe is a larger battle for justice.” WSB reports that the grand jury found enough evidence to bring two felony charges up to another grand jury.

It’s good that police officers who abuse their power are finally being held accountable for incidents like this. But would it be too much to ask police departments to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent these encounters between innocent black men and police from happening in the first place?

Here’s a report, from WSB>>>

U.S. Politics


Erick Erickson (Credit: Fox News)


Republicans know how bad a government shutdown over abortion would be, but Ted Cruz and Erick Erickson DGAF

The big news in conservative media land over the past couple of weeks has been a series of undercover “sting” videos released by a shady antiabortion rights activist group claiming to show that Planned Parenthood sells tissues procured from aborted fetuses. As is nearly always the case with videos such as these, they’re edited to make them look far worse than they actually are. Planned Parenthood maintains that any money it receives for procuring those tissues – which have long been used in medical research – is just reimbursement for the costs associated with the procedures. None of the videos that have been released actually show Planned Parenthood doing anything illegal, but they do show representatives of the organization speaking somewhat cavalierly about a grim topic. Many of the people promoting these videos are hoping that the emotional reaction they elicit will stoke a public and political backlash against the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health services.

Conservatives in the media and some hard-line Republicans in Congress believe they’ve come up with a plan for dealing with Planned Parenthood: shut down the government again.

“Shut down the government. Now,” demands Erick Erickson. “The budget and appropriations fights are forthcoming,” he writes. “If Barack Obama is willing to risk a government shutdown because he demands our tax dollars continue funding an organization that kills our children and sells their organs, we should have that fight.” This line of reasoning appeals to legislators like Sen. Ted Cruz – auteur of the last shutdown crisis – who is agitating for Planned Parenthood funding to be stripped as part of the upcoming appropriations battle. “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood,” Cruz says. He has sympathetic ears among some of the more conservative members of the House.

This plan isn’t quite so appealing to the Republican leadership in Congress. Republicans went into the 2014 elections promising voters that they’d be effective stewards of power and competent agents of governance. They haven’t lived up to those promises yet (a partial shutdown was narrowly averted just two months into their reign) and picking a fight over government funding, even when it’s related to a controversial issue like abortion, promises to make them look even worse. They shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act – which was quite unpopular at the time – and they paid for it in the polls. So while the GOP leadership is certainly sympathetic to the complaints of the base over Planned Parenthood, they’re not willing to resort to extreme measures and risk serious political blowback.

This is now a familiar dynamic of the relationship between Republicans in Congress and activist conservatives. When it comes time to make new appropriations and keep the government’s lights on, hard-line conservatives in the media and elsewhere insist that Republicans go nuclear and threaten a government shutdown in pursuit of their preferred policy outcome, whether it be defunding Obamacare, defunding President Obama’s executive actions on deportations, or stripping Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. And they make these demands even though the chances winning these fights are slim to nonexistent – Democrats still retain filibuster authority in the Senate, and even if legislation were to get through, Obama would veto it.

Twice now, on Obamacare and immigration, the Republicans have either completely caved or partially caved to these demands. Both times it blew up in their faces. At this point they are painfully aware that government shutdowns don’t work as a matter of policy or politics. So if they believe they have a political advantage when it comes to Planned Parenthood, then really it makes more sense to not pursue a shutdown strategy that would strip that advantage away.

But once again the Republicans in Congress find themselves in a position in which the simple act of governing is made difficult by the extreme positions of their influential hard-right flank. The Republican leadership opposes abortions rights and does not support Planned Parenthood, but if they’re not willing to drive off the edge of the political cliff to cut funding to the group, then in the eyes of people like Erick Erickson they’re no better than pro-choice Democrats. “Friends,” he writes, “if Republicans in Congress will not stop giving tax payer dollars to the American Joseph Mengele, we should show the party violence in the polling booth.” Reactions like these scare Republicans in Congress. The question is whether they will (once again) be pressured into another shutdown fight they won’t win.

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: July 31, 2015

Olivia Harris-Pool/Getty Images


1. Beijing picked to host 2022 Winter Olympics
The International Olympic Committee on Friday selected Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Chinese President Xi Jinping made a last-minute promise that the Games would be “fantastic, extraordinary, and excellent.” The Chinese capital, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, beat out runner-up Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a secret ballot held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Beijing will be the first city to ever host both a Winter and Summer Olympics.

Source: The Guardian

2. Police say repeat attacker stabbed 6 at Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man named Yishai Schlissel was arrestedThursday for allegedly stabbing six marchers in Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade. Schlissel was released from prison three weeks ago after serving 10 years for stabbing and wounding three marchers in the 2005 Gay Pride Parade. After that attack, he reportedly told police he had tried to “kill in the name of God.” The parade has faced longtime opposition from Orthodox groups. One ultra-Orthodox news website called it “the Parade of Abomination.”

Source: The New York Times

3. University of Cincinnati cop pleads not guilty in fatal shooting 
Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing pleaded not guilty on Thursday in the July 19 fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man. Tensing, 25, was released on a $1 million bond. He was indicted on murder and involuntary manslaughter charges a day earlier. County prosecutor Joe Deters said Tensing shot DuBose in the head after stopping him for a missing license plate and “losing his temper.” Two other officers were placed on administrative leave.

Source: Reuters, Cincinnati Enquirer

4. U.S. investigates lion’s death as Zimbabwe requests hunter’s extradition
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it was investigating the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. That country’s wildlife minister, Oppah Muchinguri, said Friday his government was requesting the extradition of Minnesota dentist and hunter Walter James Palmer to face poaching charges. Palmer left Zimbabwe after the hunt, and said he relied on his local guides to ensure that he did everything legally. Some locals were puzzled by the “fuss” over the lion’s death.

Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press

5. Taliban confirms Mullah Omar’s death
The Afghan Taliban confirmed Thursday that its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had died. The group said Omar had died “a while ago” from an unspecified illness. Afghan officials said he died two or three years ago. A source in Pakistan said the cause of death was tuberculosis. The Taliban said its No. 2 leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was taking over as leader of the Islamist group, which sheltered Osama bin Laden and was toppled by a U.S.-led coalition following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

6. Indiana clears Planned Parenthood after uproar
Indiana’s investigation of Planned Parenthood cleared the family planning organization of any wrongdoing in its handling of fetal tissue from abortions. Gov. Mike Pence (R) two weeks ago ordered a review of practices at three Planned Parenthood facilities — in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Merrillville — after an anti-abortion group released secretly recorded videos suggesting illegal sales of fetal tissue for research. Planned Parenthood says it follows all laws and never profits from fetal tissue donations.

Source: The Associated Press

7. Economy grew by 2.3 percent in second quarter
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the U.S. economy gained strength in the second quarter, growing at a 2.3 percent rate. The government also upgraded its estimate of first quarter GDP, saying it grew at a 0.6 percent rate instead of shrinking at a 0.2 percent rate as initially reported. Second quarter growth was slightly below economists’ expectations of a 2.6 percent rate, but it was strong enough to support Federal Reserve indications that the recovery is picking up steam.

Source: Reuters, Bloomberg

8. Palestinian toddler dies in arson attack blamed on Jewish extremists
A Palestinian toddler was killed when arsonists believed to be Jewish extremists torched two homes in a Palestinian village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank early Friday. Four other people were injured. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack an act of terrorism. So did Palestinian leaders, but they blamed the Israeli government for creating an atmosphere of hate and incitement, saying it encouraged anti-Palestinian violence.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Judge rules chimps are not “legal persons”
A New York judge ruled Thursday that two research chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, are not “legal persons,” as claimed by an animal rights group that asked the court to set them free. The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit in March arguing that the 8-year-old chimps were intelligent creatures, so keeping them at the State University of New York at Stony Brook amounted to illegal imprisonment. The Florida nonprofit group said it would appeal the ruling.

Source: NBC News

10. Nigerian troops free dozens held by Boko Haram
Nigerian soldiers rescued 71 girls and women from Boko Haram militants, the country’s military said Thursday. Many Boko Haram fighters reportedly were killed as troops fought their way into two of the Islamist extremist group’s camps. Some of the women said they had been held for a year. Many complained they were never given enough to eat. “I was waiting for death,” a woman in her 20s, Yagana Kyari, said. “They often threatened to kill us.”

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Harold Maass

U.S. Politics

Report: Fox Debate Rules “Generating Controversy” Among Network’s Staffers

Roger Ailes | Fox News


New York magazine reports that Fox News’ rules for the upcoming Republican presidential debate are generating considerable controversy among staffers at the network.

Fox News has previously announced that the top 10 performers in national polls will qualify for the first debate, but the network has yet to provide clarity on which polls will be included in its tally.

Fox has described their debate as the “Cleveland Primary.” Supporters of candidates near the cutoff have been buying ad time on the network to reportedly increase their likelihood of qualifying for the debate.

Gabriel Sherman writes in New York that “inside Fox, the debate is generating controversy among Ailes’s senior ranks. “A Fox personality told the reporter that there is “total confusion” about the debate process, and accused Ailes and other executives of “making it up as they go along.” Another personality described it as “crazy stuff” where “you have a TV executive deciding who is in — and out — of a debate.”

According to Sherman, advisers for Gov. John Kasich and Gov. Rick Perry “have taken to lobbying Ailes and Fox executives to use polls that put their guy over the line.” A source close to the Perry campaign said that “GOP fund-raiser and Ailes friend Georgette Mosbacher recently called Ailes” on his behalf. Sherman notes that “Ailes is certainly hoping to produce the best television, which would give the unpredictable Perry the advantage.”

In recent days, Perry has been attacking current front-runner Donald Trump, who has benefited from Fox News promoting him. On-air personalities like Eric Bolling have reportedly been instructed by Ailes to defend the reality TV star despite the misgivings of network owner Rupert Murdoch.

A Kasich adviser told Sherman, “We don’t know what methodology they’re going to use. We’ve been asking the question and they haven’t shared.”

A “Fox insider” told him that “Roger likes Kasich,” who used to host a show on the network, and “knows it’ll look awful if the sitting governor isn’t on that stage.”

U.S. Politics

Star Of Bloomberg’s Trump Supporter Vid: Wait, I’m No Trump Supporter!

Bloomberg Politics


Jessica DeBurro was prominently featured in a video of the focus group posted to Bloomberg Politics’ website that showed 12 Granite State residents fawning over Trump’s everyman appeal and vast wealth. Bloomberg Politics described the focus group participants as “12 Republican and independent voters who are supportive of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy,” while co-managing editor John Heilemann, who led the focus group, further stated that the participants were Trump supporters whose “second choices in the Republican field ran the gamut from Jeb Bush and John Kasich to Ben Carson and Ted Cruz.”

But DeBurro, a data analyst, told TPM Thursday in a phone interview that she is actually a supporter of Carson’s and not Trump’s. She added that while all the participants in the focus group had listed Trump among their top three favored Republican presidential candidates, just one person was “100 percent a Trump supporter.”

It was not immediately clear why “With All Due Respect,” which has a troubled history of controversy and pratfalls, could not assemble 12 actual Trump supporters out of the entire state of New Hampshire or why Bloomberg Politics claimed it was a group of Trump supporters when, according to DeBurro, only one of the 12 is currently supporting the boisterous mogul.

While most controversy tied to the show has focused on Bloomberg Politics impresario Mark Halperin, DeBurro further alleged that interviewer Heilemann, Halperin’s co-host, pumped them to think of positive things to say about Trump which could then be edited together into a Trump fawn-a-thon. “What they’re taking is these snippets of us saying positive things to answer questions where they asked us to state a positive thing and then representing it as if we’re all his staunchest supporters,” she explained. “And we’re not.”

A Bloomberg Politics spokeswoman told TPM late Thursday that the focus group participants all identified as supporters of the billionaire, or at least as leaning toward supporting him.

“As part of our screening process, New Hampshire voters were asked who they would support if the primary were held today,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “Every person in our focus group answered saying they would either support Donald Trump, or lean towards supporting Trump.”

DeBurro is the first participant shown in the Bloomberg Politics video, offering that Trump “speaks the truth.” When Heilemann asked her to elaborate, she said: “when he talks about especially immigration control and the border, he really — he doesn’t care what people think.”

Later, she recalled being impressed by Trump’s business empire as a child.

“I knew that he was a wealthy, successful man and I remember asking my mother if I could write him a letter to ask him how he made his money so that I could do it too,” she said.

DeBurro told TPM that she believed the video was selectively edited and that the questions Heilemann asked were engineered to get the focus group participants to speak positively about the real estate mogul.

“The questions were geared mostly toward the positive,” she said. “They were all ‘tell me something you like about him’ or ‘what makes him appealing to voters.’ It was all positive-focused, not ‘what do you not like’ or ‘why do you like this other candidate better.'”

DeBurro said that focus group participants did voice concerns that Trump was a “hothead” and may “say something really stupid.” She added that she had the impression that the focus group would be talking about all the Republican presidential candidates until the focus group settled into the studio.

“They were looking specifically for conservative voters and they asked us for our three choices,” DeBurro recalled. “So I didn’t realize it was entirely about Trump until we got there and [Heilemann] said ‘Oh we’re going to talk about him, mostly.'”


U.S. Politics

Police Misconduct Needs ‘Broken Windows’ Approach


On the same day a female Los Angeles Police officer was sentenced to 36 months for delivering hard kicks to the groin of a handcuffed woman who later died, a homeless woman with mental illness was facing 25 years to life for merely picking up a police baton. How do we account for this disparity? How do we reconcile local prosecutors giving police officers the benefit of every real or imagined mitigating circumstance while civilians are routinely overcharged with crimes carrying the most severe penalties?

The woman with mental illness was at the scene of a fatal police shooting March 1 on Los Angeles’ Skid Row when a bystander’s video recorded her picking up the baton an officer had dropped shortly before the fatal shooting. She held the baton in the air but never advanced on any officers or threatened them with it. She could well have been adrift in a psychosis, not fully realizing what was taking place in front of her eyes. In any event, for picking up that baton, she was facing a 25-years-to-life sentence under California’s Three Strikes Law.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has announced a plan to keep mentally ill people out of jail by getting them treatment, and she has directed her staff to review the charges against this woman. We can only wait to see what, if anything, that review will change. But we already know that the charge she still faces is outrageously excessive.

Police departments have adopted a zero tolerance, broken windows approach to combating crime. The theory is that preventing small or low-level crimes such as vandalism creates an atmosphere of order and vigilance that discourages more serious crimes. The theory and its benefits certainly have been questioned.

But what’s clear is the broken windows has never been brought to policing itself. As video proliferates, often disputing officers’ accounts of incidents, there is a growing sense of a police culture that is out of control and that has escaped meaningful scrutiny. If preventing low-level offenses sends the message that more serious offenses will not be tolerated, what’s the message when officers are virtually never charged let alone convicted for their misconduct?

We need look no farther than the case of Gabriel Carrillo who was handcuffed and beaten to a pulp when he went to visit his brother in Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail. County prosecutors charged Carrillo with assaulting the deputies who had lied about the beating. He faced prison time had he been convicted, but a photograph of his bruised wrists convinced prosecutors that he had been handcuffed while being beaten. They dropped those charges on the eve of trial.

But it took federal — not local — prosecutors to get justice for Carrillo. Two deputies and a sergeant were charged with using unreasonable force and falsifying records, and two of them were charged with violating Carrillo’s civil rights. A federal court jury looked at those same photos of Carrillo’s wrists, concluded the deputies were lying and needed only four hours to convict all three.

In that case, photos tipped the balance against the deputies. Now video footage promises to be a game changer. Video from cell phones, police dash cameras and body cameras has become an important tool for assessing the truthfulness of officers’ reports, especially when their actions result in injury or death. That footage crucially also gives the public a look at what prosecutors saw before giving officers a pass.

A fatal police shooting in Gardena is a graphic, tragic example. City officials fought tooth and nail against releasing the video and agreed to pay a $4.7 million settlement with the understanding that the footage would be kept from the public. But a federal judge released it. And what a story it had to tell.

The video shows Gardena Police officers shooting an unarmed man who posed no visible threat. And it raises questions, serious questions–not just about the officers’ actions, but about the district attorney’s office so emphatically finding the shooting justified.

The images have the look of a cold-blooded execution. And the prosecutors’ exoneration has all the elements of farce.

In the past year, there have been 585 police shootings, but only four officers have been charged.
In all four cases there was video, whether from body or dash cams or civilian witnesses. To be sure, video does not ensure that there will be charges whenever there is misconduct. But even when prosecutors fail to bring charges, their decisions can be subjected to better scrutiny with the help of video.

Ultimately, we must wonder about the system we’ve set up, the incentives it creates, and the messages it sends when the “punishment” that is meted out against wrongdoers is in the form of civil damages awards that are paid for not by the officers but by their departments and in the end taxpayers.

U.S. Politics

U.S. Government To Lion-Killing Dentist: Hey, Can You Give Us A Call?

Cecil the lion in happier days in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.
Cecil the lion in happier days in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. | Credit: Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/Associated Press


Hey, Walter Palmer, the Obama administration wants to talk to you.

The severed head of Cecil the lion has now been located in Zimbabwe and turned over to officials there. However, the Minnesota dentist said to be responsible for Cecil’s killing is still unaccounted for, according to a U.S. government agency, which issued a statement on Thursday asking him to please, please give them a call.

“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of ‘Cecil the lion.’ That investigation will take us wherever the facts lead,” said Edward Grace, the agency’s deputy chief of law enforcement, in the statement.

“At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Dr. Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful. We ask that Dr. Palmer or his representative contact us immediately,” Grace added.

Reuters reports that the Fish and Wildlife Service is looking into whether Palmer violated theLacey Act, which, among other things, makes it a federal crime to trade in wildlife killed in violation of foreign law.

So, if you see Palmer, please make sure he gets the message?

Walter Palmer in an undated photo with a leopard in Zimbabwe.
Walter Palmer in an undated photo with a leopard in Zimbabwe. | Credit: brentsinclair.blogspot.com

Arin Greenwood – HuffPost’s animal welfare editor.

U.S. Politics

Ted Cruz Hands Democrats 2016 Victory With Government Shut Down Threat Over Planned Parenthood

Ted Cruz CNN State Of The Union | ABC News screenshot

As nice as this headline sounds, I’m certain cooler heads will prevail within the GOP thus averting such a shut-down threat so close to an election year.


Ted Cruz and House Republicans are teaming up to hand the White House to Democrats in 2016 by threatening to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood.

Politico reported:

In a Wednesday interview, Cruz said the GOP should go as hard as it can to block funding for Planned Parenthood, including the same strategy he tried to use to defund Obamacare in 2013: force the issue by blocking funding in a government spending bill that must pass by Sept. 30.

Asked whether he would support such a maneuver again, Cruz replied: “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. We do not need a legislative show-vote.”….

On the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said dozens of House Republicans will back his effort to oppose any spending bill — whether a continuing resolution stopgap or longer-term funding package — that includes any money for Planned Parenthood.

“This is one of those line-in-the-sand type of issues,” Mulvaney said Wednesday. “Every time we say we don’t want to spend money on something, the answer is it will provoke a shutdown.”

The crew of Republican ideologues that caused the last government shutdown is prepared to do the same thing with the same result. Defunding Planned Parenthood is not a winning issue for Republicans. In fact, if Cruz takes the Republican Party down this path they can kiss the 2016 election goodbye.

Cruz has taken the wrong lesson from the 2013 shutdown. Republicans have deluded themselves into believing that there will be no consequences for the shutting down the government again. The electorate will be exponentially bigger in 2016, and it will be more Democratic. Republicans are already suffering from a huge gender gap with women voters, but if Cruz and Republicans shut down the government, they will be sending a message to women that their health does not matter.

Republicans are preparing to pander to a tiny segment of extremists in a party base that is already too small to win a presidential election on its own. Cruz is leading the Republican Party off the cliff and down a path to defeat in a desperate attempt to boost his flatlining presidential campaign.

In other words, Ted Cruz is willing to shut down the government if that is what it will take to get publicity for his presidential campaign.

Jason Easley

U.S. Politics

UN Report Card Gives US ‘Failing Grade’ on Human Rights

(Photo: amboo who?/flickr/cc
“These low grades suggest the U.S. has a long way to go before it is in compliance with international law,” said Faiza Patel of the Brennan Center for Justice. (Photo: amboo who?/flickr/cc)


Citing torture, detentions without trial, and police violence, the UN Human Rights Committee’s catalogs dismal performance by world power

A United Nations committee of independent monitors this week released a damning assessment of human rights in the United States, showing an overall dismal performance on issues from Guantanamo Bay detentions to mass surveillance to accountability for past atrocities—earning what the U.S. Human Rights Network called a “failing grade.”

The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s investigation was one of a handful of periodic reviews aimed at evaluating countries that have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights established in 1976. In particular, the assessment measured U.S. implementation of the committee’s recommendations for improving the country’s human rights record.

The experts determined that the U.S. performance in 2014 was “relatively poor,” Vincent Ploton, head of external relations for the Geneva-based Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), told Common Dreams.

The agency delivers grades that range from “A” the “E.” The U.S. score for 2014 was summarized in the following graphic, compiled by CCPR. Ploton explained: “There is only one B1 grade, which means substantial action was taken.  C1 means that there was no implementation, and C2 is worse, as it means the information provided by the U.S. was not relevant to the recommendations. D1 means there was no response.”


The U.S. had no A grades, and “the fact that the CIA report was only partially published was likely the reason for the B1 grade,” noted Ploton, referring to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of post-9/11 CIA torture.

“These low grades suggest the U.S. has a long way to go before it is in compliance with international law,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, in a statement. The Brennan Center and Amnesty International previously raised concerns to the Committee about mass surveillance in the United States. “The Administration and Congress must take immediate steps to address the lack of intelligence oversight and restore the right to privacy in the digital age.”

The findings prompted immediate condemnation from human rights and social justice organizations based in the U.S., including the Dream Defenders, who joined a civil society delegation to Geneva last year to urge the repeal of “Stand Your Ground” laws.

“It is shocking that after being given an entire year to address Stand Your Ground’s ‘incompatibility with the right to life,’ the United States has failed to act with a sense of urgency,” said Ciara Taylor, director of political consciousness for the Dream Defenders. “We see utter disregard for the lives of people of color in policies like Stand Your Ground, and in the daily actions of local law enforcement officials, who are positioned within the system to uphold these policies and the State’s many systems of oppression.”

“The Committee is right: the US is pressing forward with military commissions which violate international human rights standards,” declared James G. Connell III, an attorney for Guantanamo detainee Ammar al Baluchi. “Torture corrupts everything it touches, and these military commissions are no exception.”

And as journalist Kevin Gosztola wrote in his assessment of the UN report on Wednesday, “Detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay remain in prison cells without charge or trial. There is no plan to abandon the dysfunctional and second-class legal system known as military commissions. Not only do those detainees lack rights to a fair trial, but they continue to endure torture and abuse as the political class in America ignores the fact that most never committed any crimes against the United States.”

Sarah Lazare

U.S. Politics

‘Just Ban Minorities’: Conservatives React To Los Angeles’ High Capacity Magazine Ban (SCREENSHOTS)


On Tuesday, Los Angeles, California’s city council voted unanimously to ban firearm magazines that can cold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The city joins New York State in taking sensible measures to curb mass shooting violence in the United States.

The new ordinance, which Mayor Eric Garcetti has promised to sign, closes a loophole in a state law that already bans the sale and manufacture of high-capacity magazines. Residents will have 60 days to remove all high-capacity magazines from the city, or to turn them over to police who will destroy, transfer, or sell them.

“Mass shootings have become so endemic that we can all recite a litany of places where they have occurred: Columbine, Isla Vista, Chattanooga — they’ve become part of lexicon,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who wrote the measure. “We’ve become desperate to find some solution to the destabilizing effect of the fact that we have to fear these sorts of mass killings.”

According to the New York Times, “The law exempts on-duty police officers, members of the military who are issued such magazines, firearms dealers and people who more than 15 years ago obtained guns that can be used only with high-capacity magazines” — in other words, there are still many exemptions that will allow right-wing psychopaths to loophole their way to happiness.

Naturally, conservatives suggested an alternative: Get rid of “minorities” instead. On Fox News’ web site, the Right offered a number of objections to the law — with many revealing that the true problem is that they’re just scared of black people:


Krekorian also wrote an ordinance requiring that guns be securely stored in a lockbox or disabled with trigger locks — another common-sense measure that will surely be decried as an “attack on white people.” The measure is expected to come to a vote next week with a possible amendment to both ordinances that exempts retired police officers.

Herein lies the truth of why the Right clings to its guns. It’s not a need to fight against a tyrannical government — Let’s face it, with modern military technology, Billy Bob is not going to have much success against a drone or a tank, no matter how many bullets he can load into his artificial penis.

Gun deaths increase with gun ownership, and the states with the largest number of guns have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with lowest ownership rates, and for every time a gun is used in self-defense, there are “7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home” — so they certainly can’t reasonably expect that buying a gun will make them safer.

The real problem is that they need to protect against the hordes of “Mexican rapists” and “feral thugs” — at least in their woefully limited minds and hateful hearts.