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Member since: Sat Jun 23, 2012, 06:03 PM
Number of posts: 3,183

Journal Archives

Is Ebola the real ‘World War Z?’ (Spoiler alert: It’s not)

In 2006, I released a novel about a global zombie plague that drives humanity to the brink of extinction. While the zombies may have been fake, I tried to anchor the human response (political-military-economic-cultural) in reality. I studied the history of pandemics, natural disasters and industrialized warfare. I interviewed doctors, soldiers, journalists and someone who “has never gotten a check from the CIA” in an attempt to illustrate the fragile global systems that shield our species from the abyss. As a result, I’ve been repeatedly asked if the current outbreak of Ebola is the real-life incarnation of my novel. As much as any author would love to crow about how “I predicted this!”, this time, I’m happy to say, my fictional plague could not be more different from the truth."

*However, roughly one month ago, when the world reached its collective-conscious tipping point, the response deviated sharply from both World War Z’s plot and from responses to AIDS and SARS, which inspired the book. For starters, media coverage of the Ebola virus has been both loud and consistent. Try opening a newspaper, or your laptop, or flipping on either the television or radio without hearing something about Ebola. You can’t"

*Just to put Ebola in perspective, since the initial reported cases 10 months ago, more than 4,500 people have died of the disease. While those are genuine tragedies, so are the roughly 600,000 Africans who died of malaria last year and the 1,000,000-plus Africans who died of AIDS. As an American, and as a parent, I’m not nearly as worried about Ebola as I am about the polio-reminiscent threat of Enterovirus D68.

Yes, it will be a long hard fight and, yes, there will be more heartbreaking death and suffering, but if I was writing World War Z today and I had decided to base it on our planet’s response to Ebola, it would have been much shorter and with a much happier ending."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu Oct 16, 2014, 08:39 PM (1 replies)

US calls for swift probe into Hong Kong police brutality

The United States has called for a "swift, transparent and complete" investigation into the beating of a handcuffed Hong Kong democracy protester by plainclothes police, as fresh street clashes broke out early Thursday."

* The United States said it was "deeply concerned" by the police brutality reports."


That's fine but what about here at home?
Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu Oct 16, 2014, 01:19 AM (19 replies)

Police Militarization Must Be Halted

Last month, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives finally took a stand against the growing militarization of our police forces and our main streets. Shortly after Congressmen Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act last month in the House of Representatives, a bill that has over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced a bill by the same name in the Senate. Congress is waking up to the rapidly changing face of American law enforcement, and it is ready to do something about it.

The Senate and House bills target the Pentagon’s transfer to police forces of free military-grade equipment coming back from U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. This program has gifted over $5 billion-worth of recently used and unused war equipment – armored personnel carriers, tanks, Humvees, and Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles, grenade launchers, armed drones, and assault weapons – to U.S. police since the late 1990s when the program first started. The bicameral legislation would prohibit the transfer of these military weapons. Given that the Pentagon has 13,000 MRAPs to give away, this comes at a critical time."

*Stopping violent extremist groups or individuals, whether in America or overseas, doesn’t require a militarized approach. As Rand Corporation showed in studying nearly 300 terrorist groups between 1968 and 2006, over 83 percent of them were ended or dismantled by negotiations, integration into the political process, intelligence or policing. Only 7 percent were ended by military force.

The lesson for America law enforcement, then, is to ensure that police represent the community’s demographics (a political issue), live in and integrate with the community (a trust-building and intelligence gathering issue). Anything that increases the distance and distrust makes deterrent and de-escalation much more difficult. Former police chiefs – such as Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who once used military tactics on protestors in Seattle’s infamous 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization – are saying the same thing. We should take note.

The time is now to change the way we police America before hundreds of thousands of more pieces of military gear go to main streets across America. The face of America is changing quickly. Let’s make sure it’s not for the worse."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Oct 13, 2014, 03:52 PM (13 replies)

Chicagoans join protests against police brutality post-Ferguson

ST. LOUIS Paris Jackson shuffled onto the bus in Bronzeville before dawn Saturday, pulled her denim jacket tight around her and then slept most of the 300-mile trip to St. Louis.

As her fellow passengers chatted about the planned anti-police brutality rally at their destination, Jackson, 23, stayed quiet—until she began to share her own experiences with Chicago police.

They target her and her friends because they are black, she said, like the bouncers at Boystown clubs who won’t let them in. She and her friends tell story after story of police targeting them on sidewalks late at night while ignoring groups of white loiterers; police roughing them up for nothing but a dirty look, police slamming one girl so hard against the ground that, years later, she still has back problems. Among friends, they call police the “CPDK”—Chicago Police Department Killers.

“They expect you to fall at their feet,” said Lonzo Ward, 25. “You’re just an officer. You’re not God.”

And so, on the spur of the moment, Jackson got on the bus to St. Louis to send a message: “Y’all not going to kill me. I’m not going to be the next Michael Brown.”

*Perhaps it’s because incidences of police violence in Chicago are underreported, said Olivia Perlow, an assistant professor of sociology at Northeastern Illinois University who marched Saturday."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Oct 13, 2014, 12:33 PM (11 replies)

A Jewish call to action against police brutality

ariq Abu Khdeir, 15 was beaten senselessly by two Israeli police officers in July. Now, he’s back in his Tampa home, safe after making his rounds in Washington DC. "

In the last six or seven decades, many of our families have risen from their humble origins to positions of privilege. This rise obscures our historical perspective and scrambles our moral GPS. While there will always be a world of crises competing for our energy, focusing on the rash of police brutality, present in Baltimore as it is elsewhere, by joining the fight against police brutality makes sense; we are most able to affect change where we live. As Jews, we must remember when police came for us and refuse to tolerate even one more killing by police. By acting on our Jewish historical memory, we can work with our neighbors to build real justice in the new year."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Sun Oct 12, 2014, 01:31 PM (2 replies)

Poll: 47% Say Cases of Excessive Force by the Police Are on the Rise

When it comes to the use of lethal force, only 49 percent of Americans are confident the police only use it when necessary. Another 45 percent believe the police are too quick to pull the trigger. Some may find it quite troubling that on such an important issue, only half are confident in police officers’ decisions.

There are significant differences in perception across race and ethnicity, as well as income and age. Younger, lower-income, and nonwhite Americans are considerably more likely than older, high-income, and white Americans to perceive injustice in the police force."

*There are also regional differences in perception of police abuse. Fifty-four percent of those in urban areas say the police are too quick to use lethal force, compared to 35 percent of those in rural areas. Southerners are also more likely to say abuse is on the rise—52%—compared to only 38 percent of those in the Midwest.
Republicans don’t think excessive force is increasing: 54 percent say it hasn’t changed much, and fully 70 percent say the police only use lethal force when necessary. Democrats see things differently; 57 percent say cases of excessive force is on the rise and 61 percent say the police are too quick to use lethal force. Independents agree with Democrats’ perception that cases of excessive force are on the rise—52 percent. However, 50 percent believe the police only use lethal force when necessary while 40 percent think the police are too quick to use it."


Posted by damnedifIknow | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 07:53 AM (0 replies)

Ex-councilman alleges officer brutality during traffic stop

Former Houston Councilman Jarvis Johnson says he was slapped, robbed and held at gunpoint during a traffic stop last month by a Harris County Precinct 1 deputy constable and at least one other officer who responded to the scene."

Johnson, who owns Aunt Bea's Restaurant on Houston's north side, said he was headed to get gas around 10:15 p.m. after closing his business on Sept. 13, when he noticed flashing lights behind him and turned into a Gulf station on North Shepherd.

"The officer approached me with his gun drawn and pointed at my head. He then yelled expletives at me, asking me: 'What was I was doing?' He then went on to tell me that if I had turned down my (expletive) music, I would have heard his siren."

Johnson said he told the officer he was listening to his usual talk radio.

The deputy constable asked him to step out of the car and Johnson said he complied. As he turned to put his hands against the car, Johnson alleges that another officer slapped him in the face before he was handcuffed. The former councilman said he asked the arresting officer if the cruiser's dash cam was capturing footage and never received an answer."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri Oct 10, 2014, 12:20 PM (2 replies)

Use of deadly force by police disappears on Richmond streets

A spate of high-profile police shootings nationwide, most notably the killing of a black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, has stoked intense scrutiny of deadly force by officers and driven a series of demonstrations across the nation and the Bay Area. But in Richmond, historically one of the most violent cities in the Bay Area, the Police Department has averaged fewer than one officer-involved shooting per year since 2008, and no one has been killed by a cop since 2007."

Magnus has done something in Richmond that he believes is not done enough in other departments: He's been willing to second-guess the deadly force used by other cops.

"We use a case study approach to different incidents that happen in different places. When there is a questionable use-of-force incident somewhere else, we study it and have a lot of dialogue," Magnus said. "It's a model that is used in a range of other professions, but in some police circles, it's seen as judging in hindsight and frowned on. In my mind, that attitude is counterproductive."

*Richmond police Lt. Shawn Pickett says Magnus changed the department from one that focused on "impact teams" of officers who roamed rough neighborhoods looking to make arrests to one that required all officers to adopt a "community policing" model, which emphasizes relationship building.

"We had generations of families raised to hate and fear the Richmond police, and a lot of that was the result of our style of policing in the past," Pickett said. "It took us a long time to turn that around, and we're seeing the fruits of that now. There is a mutual respect now, and some mutual compassion."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri Oct 10, 2014, 08:37 AM (26 replies)

White woman defends black man from police

Two Washington Metro Police officers - both black - were responding to a household burglary alarm in a posh District of Columbia neighbourhood and encountered a 64-year-old black man carrying two bags. When they questioned him, they say he became "loud and boisterous". They ordered him to the ground.

Just because he's black, doesn't mean he's here to rob a house”

At that point, a local resident - a middle-aged white woman named Jody Westby - came out from her house and confronted the police.

She instructed her housekeeper to record the events. She said she knew the man - a local worker - and that the police had no right to detain him. She told the officers that she was a lawyer and, upon learning the address of the burglary report, that they weren't even on the right street.

She grabbed the detained man's hand and said she was leaving, telling the police to "please leave our neighbourhood".

The officer reluctantly let Ms Westby and the man go.

As she walked away, Ms Westby said: "Just because he's black doesn't mean he's here to rob a house. He works for us. He's been in this neighbourhood for 30 years."

*As for the original burglary report, the Post says that the alarm was due to a wrong code entered by the home's occupant. "

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Oct 8, 2014, 01:17 PM (85 replies)

The awful people are right about climate change

n October 2006, The New Yorker magazine, the repository sooner or later of all human wit and knowledge, printed a prophetic cartoon on the subject of climate change.

By the veteran cartoonist Gahan Wilson, it showed an older couple sitting on their porch. The man is reading his newspaper, and although little is shown of him, his bald head and furrowed brow make him appear grumpy, as if he were reading without the help of a sense of humor. (There’s a lot of that going around.)

The woman, presumably his wife, is looking out on the landscape, which is utterly parched and barren — a climate-change apocalypse. “It’s a pity those awful people were right about the environment,” she says.

Those awful people, yes, and we all know their identity. In the estimation of climate change deniers, they are not only the scientists and environmentalists, but also ordinary people like myself — and with luck, yourself — who like a nice tree even if the urge to hug it is usually repressed."

*How strange this is. Many deniers go to church and honor the creator God but they cannot see their personal responsibility in cleaning up the mess humanity is made of His creation. They cannot see it even when Mother Nature comes down as if bearing the wrath of the Almighty.

When does the lobster figure out what’s going on with the boiling water and the pot? When does the hard-shelled denier look up from his newspaper or TV and see what others see?

The politics of denial is writing the obituary of the planet. Cause of death? Stupidity. What a pity. How awful that it won’t seem like a funny cartoon when it happens."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Oct 8, 2014, 12:26 AM (7 replies)
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