Notable articles, op-eds and news from the United States – summarized in one blog-post, updated daily (mostly) – latest posts on top.

 

September 8th, 2014


 

We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture | Salon

A beautiful late April day, seventy-two years after slavery ended in the United States. Claude Anderson parks his car on the side of Holbrook Street in Danville. On the porch of number 513, he rearranges the notepads under his arm. Releasing his breath in a rush of decision, he steps up to the door of the handmade house and knocks.

Danville is on the western edge of the Virginia Piedmont. Back in 1865, it had been the last capital of the Confederacy. Or so Jefferson Davis had proclaimed on April 3, after he fled Richmond. Davis stayed a week, but then he had to keep running. The blue-coated soldiers of the Army of the Potomac were hot on his trail. When they got to Danville, they didn’t find the fugitive rebel. But they did discover hundreds of Union prisoners of war locked in the tobacco warehouses downtown. The bluecoats, rescuers and rescued, formed up and paraded through town. Pouring into the streets around them, dancing and singing, came thousands of African Americans. They had been prisoners for far longer.

In the decades after the jubilee year of 1865, Danville, like many other southern villages, had become a cotton factory town. Anderson, an African-American master’s student from Hampton University, would not have been able to work at the segregated mill. But the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a bureau of the federal government created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, would hire him. To put people back to work after they had lost their jobs in the Great Depression, the WPA organized thousands of projects, hiring construction workers to build schools and artists to paint murals. And many writers and students were hired to interview older Americans—like Lorenzo Ivy, the man painfully shuffling across the pine board floor to answer Anderson’s knock. [Read more]

Christian Group ‘Derecognized’ at State’s Colleges Because It Requires Leaders to Hold Christian Beliefs — and Writer Wonders What’s Next | Blaze

After an international Christian group for college students, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, was “derecognized” by all 23 California State University schools because IVCF wouldn’t stop requiring its leaders to hold Christian beliefs, a writer for Christianity Today wondered what might be coming next.

“It’s not just InterVarsity that will be impacted,” Ed Stetzer wrote. “Following the same logic, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (irony intended) at California’s state universities. This will impact many other faith-based organizations with actual, well, faith-based beliefs. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.” [Read more]

Why a U.S. “Southern Initiative” on Climate Justice is Needed | OpEdNews

Climate-related disasters in the southern United States have outnumbered those in other regions of the U.S. annually in both scale and magnitude by a ratio of almost 4:1 during the past decade. The Southeast U.S. for the period 1980-2012 had more billion-dollar disasters than the rest of the country combined. The southern region is vulnerable because of its physical location. The region is also vulnerable because of its high prevalence of concentrated poverty, uninsured households, income and wealth inequality, health care disparities, and food insecurity–combined create a perfect storm of vulnerability if and when natural and human-made disasters strike. [Read more]

St. Louis Police Shot 16 Before Michael Brown in 2014 | truthout

By the time of Michael Brown’s murder, St. Louis area police had already shot at least 16 people in 2014, the vast majority of whom were black.

Truthout obtained this figure by examining news reports from January 1 to August 6 of 2014. On August 10, protests opposing the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown began. You can view the data Truthout compiled here. [Read more]

The Rise of the SWAT Team in American Policing | New York Times

Posse comitatus is not a phrase that trips lightly off every tongue. It is typically translated from Latin as “force of the county.” Anyone who has ever watched an old Western movie will instantly recognize the first word as referring to men deputized by the sheriff to chase down some varmints who went thataway. (Rappers and their tag-alongs later gave “posse” a different context.) The full phrase is more obscure, but the concept that it embraces is enshrined in American law. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 at the end of Reconstruction and amended but slightly over the decades, prohibits the nation’s armed forces from being used as a police force within the United States. Soldiers, the reasoning goes, exist to fight wars. Chasing local wrongdoers is a job for cops.

But many police departments today are so heavily armed with Pentagon-supplied hand-me-downs — tools of war like M-16 rifles, armored trucks, grenade launchers and more — that the principle underlying the Posse Comitatus Act can seem as if it, too, has gone thataway. Questions about whether police forces are overly militarized have been around for years. They are now being asked with new urgency because of the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., where unarmed demonstrators protesting the fatal police shooting of a teenager faced off for a while against mightily armed officers in battle dress and gas masks. What the world saw were lawmen looking more like combat troops in the Mideast than peacekeepers in the Midwest. [Read more]

NYPD officers take turns beating Bronx man after search turns up nothing | Raw Story

A Bronx man has accused a half-dozen NYPD officers of taking turns beating and kicking him after he asked an officer why he had been searched when she was responding to a noise complaint, according to ABC7.

According to Santiago Hernandez, 23, he was standing in front of a home in the Melrose section of the Bronx on August 18th when a uniformed NYPD officer stopped and asked to frisk him. [Read more]

Guardian Reports Damning New Facts Re: White Cop’s Murder of Black Wal-Mart Shopper Crawford | Daily Kos

Sunday’s Guardian story on the Beavercreek, Ohio police murder killing of 22-year-old Wal-Mart shopper John Crawford, on August 5th, brings to light new facts about the case which should make any reader’s blood curdle.

Here’s the excerpt of the opening of the story… [Read more]

An Energy Boom Lifts the Heartland | New York Times

Waist-high weeds and a crumbling old Chevy mark the entrance to a rust-colored factory complex on the edge of town here, seemingly another monument to the passing of the golden age of American industry.

But deep inside the 14-acre site, the thwack-thwack-thwack sound of metal on metal tells a different story.

“We’re holding our own,” said Greg Hess, who is looking to hire draftsmen and machine operators at the company he runs, Youngstown Bending and Rolling. “I feel good that we saved this place from the wrecking ball.” [Read more]

Driving American Politics Underground | truthdig

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared—“democratic despotism.”

The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act. [Read more]

Fleshing Out Nixon’s Vietnam ‘Treason’ | Consortium News

One of America’s great political mysteries continues to come into sharper focus: Did Richard Nixon sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 to win that election and did Nixon’s fear of exposure lead him to create the burglary team that got caught at Watergate in 1972?

Pieces of this puzzle began to fall into place even in real time as Beverly Deepe, the Christian Science Monitor’s Saigon reporter, got wind of Nixon’s treachery before the 1968 election although her editors spiked her article when they couldn’t get confirmation in Washington. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Almost Scoop on Nixon’s ‘Treason.’”]
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States.

In the ensuing years, other journalists and historians began assembling the outlines of Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage with the story getting its first big splash of attention when Seymour Hersh made reference to it in his 1983 biography of Henry Kissinger, The Price of Power. [Read more]

Why Are Cops Shooting So Many Mentally Ill People? | Alternet

Kajieme Powell, 25, was known to have suffered from mental health issues. But the cops who responded to the disturbance call on August 21 didn’t know this. They ended up shooting him dead in a corner store parking lot moments after they arrived.

Powell was the fourth mentally ill person killed by police officers in a two-week time span in the U.S. The number of men and women being shot by cops recently has sparked conversations—and sharp criticsm—about law enforcement, especially how police are trained to deal with suspects who may have mental health issues. [Read more]

The NRA’s Multimillion-Dollar New Ad Campaign Is Despicable | The Daily Beast

When the gunman announced a stick-up, 51-year-old McDaniel Watson Jr. likely worried less about his wallet than about the small King James Bible he always carried in his front pocket.

Watson said something the wife beside him could not make out. The gunman’s response to Watson’s slight hesitation rang out through the park in Birmingham, Alabama, where the couple had been taking an evening walk a week ago Friday.

The Navy veteran and father of three fell with a fatal bullet wound to the head and became the country’s latest gun victim. He still had the Bible that he not only carried but also lived by. [Read more]

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