September 4, 2014
"Here’s your Week 1 insight: Beware of running backs playing in hot weather. When the temperature is above 80 degrees, the top 32 RBs from 2013 average 26% fewer fantasy points than their historical weekly average. Check your weather reports and plan accordingly!"

— And this is why I love fantasy football.  Who the hell even keeps *track* of this stuff?

September 2, 2014
Another Journalist Dies, But Military Intervention Is No Solution

With the apparent death of another journalist at the hands of ISIS, it seems like a good time to reflect on what these executions are actually intended to achieve, and how world governments should respond to it.

Sensational violence is a tool used by extremist groups to draw large countries into guerrilla-style conflicts that they historically cannot win. Asymmetrical warfare is the bailiwick of non-state actors.  It is why the U.S. lost in Vietnam, Russia lost in Afghanistan, and why despite spending billions of dollars and over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither peace nor political stability have been achieved in either country.  It is the same reason why rockets continue to rain down on Israel despite decades of military attempts to route militants out of Gaza, and also why the British government was unable to bring the IRA to heel through its military might alone.  

There is no military solution to ISIS.  If you want to understand why, I encourage you to read Matthew Hoh’s remarkable and well-informed take on the issue:

American military involvement will serve as an accelerant to and a prolonger of this Iraqi civil war. American bombs, bullets and dollars will further strengthen the bond between Sunnis and extremist groups like ISIS, increasing Sunni desperation by intensifying their backs to the wall dilemma and justifying the propaganda and rhetoric of ISIS: a narrative of a Western campaign of international subjugation enacted through Shia, Kurdish and Iraqi ethnic minority puppets. Further, such American support will strengthen the resolve of the al-Maliki government not to reform and not to address Sunni grievances. With the renewed backing of American might and money, al-Maliki’s government will feel no need to restore a balance of power in Iraq and will continue a policy of disenfranchisement and marginalization of the Sunni population and leadership. Only by withholding support to al-Maliki’s government, and not by sending advisers, tomahawk missiles or cash, will there be a reason for al-Maliki’s government to negotiate and seek peace.

The Iraqi and Kurdish militaries are fighting ISIS, but peace will only be achieved in Iraq when Sunnis are given a meaningful opportunity to participate in Iraq’s Democratic institutions.  Until that happens, groups like ISIS will always be able to take advantage of the resentment of oppressed political minorities in order to create an atmosphere of instability and violence.  Extremism breeds in places where political oppression and poverty are rampant.  Give people access to public institutions, and lift them up economically, and groups like ISIS begin to atrophy and die for lack of a receptive audience.  Extremists still exist in wealthy countries, but they don’t have enough resources or influence to conquer and lord over an entire jurisdiction.  That alone is sufficient to show the effectiveness of economic prosperity and political enfranchisement over military solutions, which can never succeed at stamping out extremist movements without a political solution that enfranchises people and lifts them out of the desperate economic conditions that so often serve as a breeding ground for radical violent movements.

August 30, 2014
What if Hamas fired rockets at Britain? | +972 Magazine

Israeli officials and advocates often ask critics of their foreign policy “what would you do if you had rockets raining down on you?”  This question has a tendency to stump people who aren’t prepared for it.  John Jackson at  +972, however, has provided an excellent response by drawing a parallel to the conduct of the British Government during the worst years of IRA violence:

During the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, civilian deaths were caused by the British Army, the Loyalists and Republican paramilitaries. But for the purpose of answering the Israeli question it is useful to look at the major bombing campaigns by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that took place across England. These campaigns were far more destructive than anything coming out of Gaza. There were approximately 10,000 bomb attacks during the conflict – about 16,000 if you include failed attempts. A significant proportion of them were on English soil.

A time bomb was detonated at Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were staying for the Conservative Party conference. Thatcher narrowly escaped death, five people were killed (including an MP) and 31 injured. The Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and three others were blown up while fishing off the coast of Ireland. In Manchester city center a 3,300-pound bomb caused £1.1 billion (today’s value) in damage and injured 212 people. The Bishopsgate bombing in the city of London cost £350 million to repair and injured 44 people. And, as those of us who lived through those times will remember, there were numerous bombs in pubs and shops, on high streets and shopping centers, in train stations and on the London underground. The thousands of rockets fired by Hamas over the last month have killed six civilians in Israel, along with 64 soldiers, while the IDF has killed 2,104 Palestinians, including at least 500 children.

Despite the effectiveness of the IRA campaign, it would have been politically inconceivable and morally unjustifiable for the Royal Air Force to bomb the streets and homes of the republican communities in North or West Belfast – the communities from which the IRA came and amongst which it lived. It would have been unacceptable in Britain and, indeed, to the U.S. government at the time. The British army and intelligence services did terrible things in Northern Ireland, but such a wholesale massacre of civilians would have been unconscionable. The answer to the question of what would you do? In Britain’s case at least, faced with a destructive bombing campaign, it did not respond by sending in warplanes to bomb schools, hospitals or terraced houses.

Read More

August 29, 2014
hipsterlibertarian:

setbabiesonfire:

cyclivist:

Deputy who killed former Napster COO after drifting into the bike lane while distracted by his laptop will not face charges because he was answering a work-related email.

OH OKAY.

I accidentally killed someone, you guys, but I was just doing research for an article I’m writing, so that makes it ok. That’s how it works, right?

LTMC: Meanwhile, 16-year olds get prosecuted for manslaughter for texting while driving.  But don’t worry, police don’t get special treatment.

hipsterlibertarian:

setbabiesonfire:

cyclivist:

Deputy who killed former Napster COO after drifting into the bike lane while distracted by his laptop will not face charges because he was answering a work-related email.

OH OKAY.

I accidentally killed someone, you guys, but I was just doing research for an article I’m writing, so that makes it ok. That’s how it works, right?

LTMC: Meanwhile, 16-year olds get prosecuted for manslaughter for texting while driving.  But don’t worry, police don’t get special treatment.

10:18pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx1PY7OCL
  
Filed under: politics police 
August 29, 2014
Philly cop files brutality suit against police department

From the article:

Scores of brutality lawsuits are filed against the Philadelphia Police Department every year. But it’s unusual for an officer, a sergeant no less, to make those charges.

In a suit filed Monday, Sgt. Brandon Ruff did just that.

Ruff claims he was roughed up by seven officers from the 35th District when he attempted to anonymously turn in three handguns at the precinct. Ruff, who says he suffered two sprained wrists and two sprained shoulders in the fracas, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

Ruff, an eight-year veteran assigned to the 16th precinct, said the acts of the 35th District officers “were committed willfully, wantonly, maliciously, intentionally, outrageously, deliberately and/or by conduct so egregious as to shock the conscience.”

The City of Philadelphia, he said in his civil suit, encourages and is deliberately indifferent to the abuse of police powers. Among other accusations, Ruff claims the city tolerates officers who misrepresent facts in order to establish probable cause, and allows officers to have persons falsely arrested or maliciously prosecuted. He also asserts the city permits the continued employment of officers who are psychologically or emotionally unfit to serve.

Another officer turns against the Blue Wall.

August 28, 2014
"An incredible paper came out this year [which was] the largest empirical study of policy decisions made by our government in the history of political science. What they found was when the preferences of economic elites, and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact on public policy…Madison in Federalist 52 said we would be given a government that would be “dependent on the people alone,” which he explained in Federalist 57 would be “not the rich more than the poor.” That promise has been broken in our tradition."

Lawrence Lessig

August 28, 2014
The Economic Viability Of Palestine

Another blogger asks:

With regard to the one state solution post, do you think the areas under Palestinian control would be economically viable as part of a two state solution?

The primary factor for economic viability in a two-state solution involves Israeli control over airspace, water, and land borders of the Palestinian state.  If Palestinians were allowed to (1) trade freely amongst themselves and their neighbors, and (2) develop their land without it repeatedly being destroyed by the Israeli government, then Palestinian territories would be very economically viable.  But so long as we have a situation where the Israeli government gets to decide who or what is allowed into the Palestinian territories, and is also allowed virtually unrestricted authority to destroy Palestinian infrastructure in the name of national security, then a Palestinian state will never be independently economically viable.

I’m not trying to suggest that Israel doesn’t have valid security concerns about what crosses the border with Palestinian territories, or militant operations within them.  However, restricting access to consumer goods and repeatedly destroying Palestinian infrastructure is counterproductive from a security standpoint for Israel: people living in the Palestinian territories feel oppressed because Israel is denying them access to the consumer goods necessary for them to thrive, and also destroying their livelihood.  This creates political resentment towards Israel, which breeds support for militancy and extremism.  So in order for any long-term peace to ever be established, Israel has to be willing to lift trade restrictions, stop blowing up Palestinian infrastructure in a counterproductive effort to fight militants, and give Palestinians complete and unexceptional sovereignty over their putative state.  Anything less will simply be the same emperor in new clothes.

August 28, 2014
Israeli right-wing politician: ‘Annex territories, grant Palestinians citizenship’ | +972 Magazine

A one-state solution from the Israeli right:

The State of Israel should annex Judea and Samaria and grant full citizenship to all Palestinians. Demography is not a numerical predestination, it is an expression of the joie de vivre of the nation. When a nation is happy, its number of children grows, that’s why I’m not scared of demography. Whoever can’t live with Arabs is not a partner of mine.

I trust the Arab public in Israel, it has proved itself. I have no fear of a bi-national state, the solution is not B-class citizens nor high fences. It is a simple and humane solution, Palestinians must be granted full rights and should vote for the Knesset. Whoever truly wants peace, should agree to accept more Arab citizens to his state, and whoever is part of the State of Israel whose borders need to be between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea for many reasons, needs to be a citizen with full rights and obligations.

There is no question that this solution would be a more peaceful resolution if the majority of Palestinians were willing to go along with it.  This is also refreshing to hear from an Israeli nationalist who no doubt wants Israel to maintain its character as a Jewish nation.  In the past, this has meant nothing less than discrimination against Arabs and outright refusal of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.  Annexing both the West Bank and Gaza would create a sort of de facto Right of Return, and quite possibly create the dreaded demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority, which many feel is necessary to maintaining Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

The problem with this particular one-state solution, however, is that it forces millions of people to accept the sovereignty of a nation that has been oppressing them for decades.  Politically speaking, it’s not very feasible.  In order for a one-state solution to have any chance of working, in my opinion, the new bi-national state would have to be a new state built from the ground up with a bi-national identity.  Everybody will have to feel like they are on equal footing.  It can’t merely be a state for Jews that tolerates non-Jews, but a state built for everyone that lives there.  Simply annexing the West Bank and Gaza, and granting Palestinians full citizenship (whether they want it or not) would probably lead to an open revolt.  Palestinians have to feel that they are not being ruled or conquered, but being given a genuine right to self-determination in the new state.  Without accounting for this reality, a one-state solution will never work.

August 27, 2014
Lawsuits against allegedly dirty narcs could mean millions in city payouts

Another example of how the failure to hold police accountable for misconduct robs taxpayers of millions of dollars:

Seven Philadelphia police narcotics officers at the center of a federal corruption probe are also named in scores of civil lawsuits that add more claims of thievery, intimidation and brutality to those described in their criminal indictments, according to court records.

The potential financial impact of these suits, along with any others that may be filed, could expose the City of Philadelphia to millions of dollars in damages or settlements.

Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, John Speiser, Michael Spicer, Linwood Norman and Perry Betts allegedly formed an out-of-control band of rogue officers who conducted illegal stops and searches as pretext to rob people, particularly those they believed to be drug dealers, according to the indictment filed last month. Jeffrey Walker, who is named in the indictment but charged separately, has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his role.

Money quote:

Those same officers are the subjects of at least 81 pending federal lawsuits filed between November 2011 and this month, according to a search of court records. At least 78 of the suits also name the City of Philadelphia as a defendant, claiming the police department’s alleged failure to properly train, supervise or discipline officers fostered a culture of indifference to constitutional rights.

78 different federal lawsuits naming the city.  The taxpayers of the city stand to lose millions as a result of police misconduct.

I know so many people who think they’re taxes are too high, but always seem to give police the benefit of the doubt when they come under scrutiny in the media.  What they don’t realize is that the cost of bad policing comes directly out of their pocket.  If they really care about their tax burden, they should also care about holding police accountable when they screw up.  Bad policing is costing them money.

August 27, 2014
Georgia cops fired Taser 13 times ‘as a cattle prod’ to make tired man walk before he died

From the article:

A Georgia man died after police shocked him with a Taser as many as 13 times because he said he was too tired to walk due to a foot chase, his attorney said this week.

At a press conference on Tuesday, attorney Chris Stewart said that police records showed that East Point officers had discharged their Tasers 13 times to make Gregory Towns, who was handcuffed, get up and walk.

“This is a direct violation of their own rules,” Stewart explained, according to WSB-TV. “You cannot use a Taser to escort or prod a subject.”

“They used their Tasers as a cattle prod on Mr. Towns.”

Stewart said that he pieced together what led up to Towns’ April 11 death using official city records and eyewitness accounts.

“He wasn’t cursing. He wasn’t being abusive. He was saying, ‘I’m tired,’” the attorney pointed out.

Taser logs showed that Sgt. Marcus Eberhart fired his Taser 10 times, and officer Howard Weems pulled the trigger three times. However, the logs did not indicate how many times the Taser made contact with Towns.

In all, records indicated a total shock time of 47 seconds. Stewart called the situation “indefensible.”

Autopsy results obtained by WSB-TV showed that Towns’ death was ruled a homicide because the Taser shocks — combined with physical activity and heart disease — contributed to his death.

But Police Benevolent Association lawyers representing Weems continued to insist that the officer’s actions did not cause Towns to die.

Attorney Dale Preiser issued a statement saying that the “use of drive stun to gain compliance is permitted under federal and Georgia law.”

Stewart said that he would file a lawsuit against the city this week.

7:59pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx1PNGxq6
  
Filed under: politics police georgia 
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