Originally Published: 9/5/2015
Police Killings: The Guardian has been tracking the people killed by police. As of this morning, 787 people have been killed, and here’s the list. [Note: On Monday the number was 779.] Naturally, blacks were much more likely to be killed than whites or Hispanics. You can move your curser over your state and see the names of those killed and how your state ranks. Then there’s this great map showing where the people have been killed and, moving your curser over the squares, you can get the names. You may want to bookmark this and check on it from time to time to watch the numbers grow.
Moving Targets: The Guardian has also done an in-depth piece on the shooting of people in moving vehicles - 30 killings so far this year. More than 25% of those killed were black men but, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, black men make up just 6% of the driving-age American population. In all cases the officers claimed the vehicle posed a threat either to themselves, to other officers, or to bystanders. But in almost all incidents, “their decisions to shoot appeared to run counter to federal guidance instructing officers to open fire only if a driver presents a separate deadly threat, such as a gun. None of those killed were accused of pointing firearms at police, and in only 3 cases did police appear to be aware of a gun being inside the vehicle.” The Guardian also obtained rule books from 20 of the departments involved in those 30 killings. A majority had lax rules like that of Alexander City, Alabama, which says that officers may fire into moving vehicles “as the ultimate measure of self-defense” when “the suspect is using deadly force.” The report details many of those killings and it is clear, at least to me, that police are out of control. And just in case you need more proof of cops on a power trip, please watch this short video of a black man stopped by a white police office for the offense of have an air freshener. (AlterNet)
NSA: The case by Larry Klayman that was rejected last week by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (TWW, NSA, 8/29/15) has been sent back to Judge Richard Leon. (TWW, NSA, 12/21/13) Leon is the judge that called the collection of metadata of U.S. phone calls “almost Orwellian.” (District Sentinel)
Stingray: It appears that the Stingray surveillance system (TWW, Police Surveillance, 8/29/15) is going to get more scrutiny. The Justice Department, now headed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, is going to require that federal agents get court warrants “before using secretive equipment that can locate and track cellphones.” The new policy forbids the collection of emails or text messages from the Stingray and “all information collected would be deleted daily.” The rules also outline “new management practices, reporting requirements, and a standardized approval process for requesting a warrant to use the technology.” But here’s the sticky part. The policy only covers federal agencies - the FBI, the Marshals Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. “It does not cover state or local law enforcement agencies, however, unless they are engaged in a joint task force with the federal authorities.” (NY Times) Please remember, that these are rules, policies, and are not law.
South America: 33 lions rescued from “miserable lives” in circuses in South America are being sent back to Africa. It’s being called “the largest ever airlift of its kind.” According to Global Post, “Many of the felines spent years in Peru and Colombia being mistreated, underfed, and forced to perform tricks for the public.” The rescue is being organized by Animal Defenders International, a British group, that has rescued the animals for the last couple of years. The animals wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild since most were born in captivity and “have never learned basic survival skills, including hunting.” They will go to a “pristine African bush at the 12,000-acre Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Limpopo province.”
Colorado: The city of Aspen is now running 100% on renewable energy. It’s the third U.S. city to do so. Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas are also running 100% on renewable energy. (EcoWatch)
Kentucky: I told you last week about Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk who is refusing to issue any marriage licenses so as to avoid issuing them to same sex couples. The U.S. Court of Appeals ordered her to start issuing licenses while her appeal was pending. (TWW, Kentucky, 8/29/15) She continued refusing to issue licenses but on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected her request to be excused from issuing the licenses. “2 counties in Texas and about a dozen in Alabama are also refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to gay rights groups.” Davis was facing a contempt charge which could mean fines or jail time. (Washington Post) On Tuesday 2 couples came in first thing in the morning but a deputy clerk refused them licenses and, eventually, Davis presented herself and “declared that she was not issuing any licenses.” She was asked, “Under whose authority?” She responded, “Under God’s authority.” (Washington Post) The problem is that she is not a Rowan County employee. She was elected and cannot be fired. On Thursday U.S. District Judge David Bunning found Davis in contempt and she was taken into custody. He said: “The idea of natural law superceding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed.” Bunning offered Davis a “chance to stay out of jail if she ‘purged her contempt’ by allowing one of her deputies to sign marriage licenses in her place. But through an attorney, Davis told the judge that ‘she does not grant her authority nor would allow any employee to issue those licenses.’” (Washington Post) On Thursday she was jailed and Bunning “secured commitments from 5 of Ms. Davis’s deputies to begin providing the licenses.” (NY Times) And indeed they did. “When Rowan County Courthouse opened for business Friday, a clerk was seated at the counter behind a sign that read: “Marriage License Deputy.” A couple who had been refused a license 5 times was the first to obtain a license. (Washington Post) I have a strange feeling this ain’t over yet.
Gun Deaths: According to analyses conducted by the National Journal, the states with the most gun laws have the fewest gun-related deaths. They analyzed the data and display it in 2 charts: one shows only gun-related homicides, the other uses all data - homicides, suicides, accidental deaths, and legal interventions involving firearms. Also, states with “stand your ground” laws (TWW, Stand Your Ground, 8/16/14; Zimmerman, 7/20/13; Shoot First Laws, 6/16/12; Shoot First Laws, 3/24/12) have a higher homicide rate. Other data that was analyzed found the following. States where background checks have been extended to private gun sales have a lower homicide rate but states that have strict regulations on obtaining a concealed carry permit have about the same rate as states with lax laws. Pretty interesting stuff.
Jakobshavn Glacier: Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier, which is the size of Manhattan, broke off and fell into the Arctic Ocean, becoming a 7.8 square mile iceberg. This is “the most significant calving” event on record. (European Space Agency)
Wildfires: According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 8 million acres have burned in U.S. wildfires in 2015. “That’s an area larger than the state of Maryland. And the numbers are still growing: 65 large fires are currently raging across the country.” There are only 6 other years where more than 8 million acres has burned: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2012. But 2015 is on track to beat out all other years. (Washington Post)
Deadliest Jobs: Bloomberg compiled a list of the deadliest jobs. The worst is commercial fishers, with a death rate of 131 per 100,000. Next is loggers, with a rate of 97 per 100,000. Then there’s aircraft pilots, miscellaneous extraction workers, iron and steel workers, roofers, garbage collectors, and the list goes on. Police officers are way down the list with 15 deaths per 100,000. It’s more dangerous to be a taxi driver than a cop.
Employment: We added 173,000 jobs in August, less than was expected, but the unemployment rate still dropped to 5.1%. (Guardian)
Interest Rates: According to the Guardian article above, the new employment numbers “are likely to complicate matters for the Federal Reserve, which meets later this month and will discuss raising interest rates for the first time since the recession.” But according to Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post, “People used to say the Federal Reserve had to raise rates to fight nonexistent inflation. Then they said the Federal Reserve had to raise rates to fight nonexistent bubbles. And now they say the Federal Reserve has to raise rates for nonexistent reasons. Just, you know, to show that it can.” I would add that it’s important to remember that the Federal Reserve Banks are owned by the major banks which, with the exception of the Board Chair, appoint the Board members. So the Fed is, essentially, run by the major banks. Don’t you think they’d want to raise interest rates?