BREAKING: Ferguson Police Drove Over Michael Brown Memorial, Let Dog Piss on It


Between withheld information, unnecessary use of force, and aggression toward journalists, it should be clear by now that police in Ferguson colossally mishandled the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death. new Mother Jones report, however, paints an even bleaker picture than we’ve already seen.

After Brown was shot on August 9, mourners including Brown’s mother created an impromptu memorial on the spot where his body fell and was left for hours. Then, according to several sources told Mother Jones’s Mark Follman, a police officer let his dog piss on it:

The incident was related to me separately by three state and local officials who worked with the community in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. One confirmed that he interviewed an eyewitness, a young woman, and pressed her on what exactly she saw. “She said that the officer just let the dog pee on it,” that official told me. “She was very distraught about it.” The identity of the officer who handled the dog and the agency he was with remain unclear.

Not long after that, police blocked off the area and proceeded to drive a car over candles and rose petals that had been placed there.

By then, police had prohibited all vehicles from entering Canfield Drive except for their own. Soon the candles and flowers had been smashed, after police drove over them.

"That made people in the crowd mad," [Missouri state Rep. Sharon] Pace said, "and it made me mad." Some residents began walking in front of police vehicles at the end of the block to prevent them from driving in.

St. Louis alderman Antonio French, who was later arrested during a protest and released without charges, documented the scene at the time.

Tommie Pierson, a Missouri state representative, told Follman a state police officer nearly maced him when he stood with a group of peaceful protesters August 19:

There was a strong police presence but the atmosphere remained peaceful, Pace told me, and their goal was to mediate between their constituents and law enforcement. Police officers approached and ordered the crowd to keep moving. A female Missouri Highway Patrol officer confronted Pierson, reaching for her mace.

"Are you getting ready to mace me?" Pierson asked in disbelief. The officer backed off after Pace explained to another cop who they were.

"It’s bad when you don’t have any respect for anybody," Pierson told me last week. "Even now that’s still going on: ‘You do what I tell you, or I’ll mace you, I’ll shoot you, no questions asked.’"

If one has any doubt about whether stories like Pierson’s are true, one only need look at the video evidence.

Source: Andy Cush for Gawker

Obama vows protracted military campaign in Iraq, Syria - World Socialist Web Site

Obama vows protracted military campaign in Iraq, Syria
By Bill Van Auken
27 August 2014

President Barack Obama delivered a militarist speech Tuesday to the annual convention of the American Legion in Charlotte, North Carolina amid reports that US spy drones are already operating over Syria and air strikes could begin there by the end of this week.

Obama told the veterans’ organization that “the United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world,” a boast that is belied by the bloody debacle unleashed throughout North Africa and the Middle East by a string of US military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Turning to the present intervention in Iraq following the overrunning of much of the country by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a split-off from Al Qaeda, the US president reiterated the formal pretexts for US military action: protecting “our diplomats and military advisors who are there,” and humanitarian assistance.

He vowed that “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,” and declared that the “answer is not to send in large-scale military deployments.” Both formulations leave open the deployment of thousands of US “advisors” and Special Operations troops, which are not defined in military terminology as “combat troops,” a term reserved for full regular Army brigades and Marine expeditionary units.

Since launching the first US air strikes in Iraq last month, the Obama administration has already rushed another 1,000 US troops into the country. The US Central Command reported two more air strikes on Tuesday near the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil. The targets were reported to be ISIS armored vehicles, likely captured from the US-supplied Iraqi Army stockpile. Thus far, the US has carried out roughly 100 air strikes in Iraq.

Obama spoke Tuesday of “a broader strategy” that would supposedly include arming local forces, including the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Kurdish militia and the “moderate opposition in Syria,” and forging an “international coalition.” But he vowed that his administration “will continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people and defend our homeland.” He invoked the barbaric execution of American photojournalist James Foley as a pretext for American military action, declaring that “justice will be done.”

Obama went on to warn that “rooting out a cancer like ISIL [an alternate name for ISIS] won’t be easy and it won’t be quick,” indicating that Washington is preparing for an expanding and protracted military intervention in the region.

The US president provided no specifics on the escalating US operations, but government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Tuesday that US spy planes were already deployed over Syria in preparation for US air strikes.

NBC news reported Tuesday that the spy flights involved both manned aircraft and unmanned drones. It cited US officials as saying that, while no decision had yet been made, Obama could authorize air strikes by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters onboard a military plane en route to Afghanistan that, while he believes at present ISIS represents a “regional threat” and not a direct threat to the US, he is prepared to shift this assessment. Once the general “determines that the Islamic militants in Iraq have become a direct threat to the US homeland,” the Associated Press reported, “he will recommend that the US military move directly against the group in Syria.”

The clear implication is that the United States is just one purported “terrorist plot” away from a direct military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern country.

The evident political complication confronting the US administration as it prepares to extend its military action in Iraq into neighboring Syria is that it is proposing to bomb forces it previously supported as “rebels” against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Just one year ago, Obama was seeking congressional approval to bomb Syrian government forces on the fabricated pretext that the Assad regime had crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons in the civil war with ISIS and other Sunni Islamist forces. He was compelled to back down from this threat in the face of massive popular opposition as well as the failure of either the US Congress or the British Parliament to back direct military intervention.

Now, utilizing the atrocities committed by ISIS, including the beheading of Foley, the administration does not expect to encounter significant opposition in Washington or London or even demands that it seek congressional authorization for a bombing campaign.

There were reports Tuesday that the US is already collaborating indirectly with the Assad regime by providing intelligence from US spy flights to the Syrian military, which conducted dozens of bombing raids on ISIS strongholds in eastern Syria on Tuesday. According to the AFP news agency, “The cooperation has already begun and the United States is giving Damascus information via Baghdad and Moscow.”

The only direct official response to the report was a tweet from State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf asserting that “the claims in that story are false.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem declared on Monday that the Syrian government was prepared “to cooperate and coordinate” with other countries in combating ISIS, but warned that any unilateral air strikes carried out without the approval of Damascus would be “considered aggression.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday, “There are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime” on any military action within Syria.

The clear implication is that, while Washington is preparing to intervene in Syria on the pretense of defeating ISIS, its goal remains regime-change—the toppling of what would be a third secular Arab head of state, following the overthrow and killing of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

Behind the rhetoric about protecting Americans and combating terror, US imperialism is prepared to unleash an even more catastrophic regional war to further its drive to break up the current state structures and assert its hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East.

So how many more people are we willing to murder for oil? I’m just asking because the millions that have already suffered and died seems like too many already. But what do I know? No one else seems to be the least bit concerned by this bullshit and so it goes on and on and on.

Federal Appeals Court Judge: Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Is ‘Based On Hate’


There’s no subtle way to describe a federal appeals court’s reaction to an attorney for the state of Wisconsin’s effort to defend marriage discrimination on Tuesday. It was a bloodbath. Judge Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, peppered Wisconsin attorney Timothy Samuelson with questions asking him to offer a constitutionally sufficient justification for why his state denies equal marriage rights to gay couples. At one point, when the yellow light signaling that Samuelson was running out of time to make his argument turned out, Judge Ann Claire Williams warned him that approaching end of his scheduled time at the podium “won’t save you” from a continuing onslaught of questions.

In a particularly tense exchange, Samuelson attempted to defend Wisconsin’s law on the theory that it is rooted in tradition. That tactic did not turn out well for him:

Posner: What concrete factual arguments do you have against homosexual marriage?

Samuelson: Well, we have, uh, the Burkean argument, that it’s reasonable and rational to proceed slowly.

Posner: That’s the tradition argument. It’s feeble! Look, they could have trotted out Edmund Burke in the Loving case. What’s the difference? [Note: Loving v. Virginia was a 1967 decision striking down bans on interracial marriage] … There was a tradition of not allowing black and whites, and, actually, other interracial couples from marrying. It was a tradition. It got swept aside. Why is this tradition better?

Samuelson: The tradition is based on experience. And it’s the tradition of western culture.

Posner: What experience! It’s based on hate, isn’t it?

Samuelson: No, not at all, your honor.

Posner: You don’t think there’s a history of rather savage discrimination against homosexuals?

The Supreme Court, it should be noted, has long maintained that appeals to tradition are not sufficient reason to sustain a law absent some other justification. As the Court explained in 1970, “neither the antiquity of a practice nor the fact of steadfast legislative and judicial adherence to it through the centuries insulates it from constitutional attack.”

The third judge on the panel, Judge David Hamilton, also appeared skeptical of Samuelson’s arguments, at one point saying that the attorney was trying to justify discrimination based on a “reverse engineered theory.”

You can listen to the full oral argument here and the arguments in a companion case here.

Source: Ian Millhiser for ThinkProgress

Man Says He Was Detained For 6 Hours Because Police Wouldn’t Watch The Video Proving Him Innocent [TW: Racism, Ethnocentrism, White Privilege, Racial Profiling]


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Man Says He Was Detained For 6 Hours Because Police Wouldn’t Watch The Video Proving Him Innocent


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Charles Belk

Charles Belk

CREDIT: Posted by Belk on Twitter

Police were looking for a bank robber when they arrested Charles Belk on Friday night. The profile of the suspect was tall, black, and bald. And so is Belk. They were both wearing green shirts. That’s all the information they had. And that’s all the information they deemed necessary to hold Belk for six hours late Friday night, according to the accounts of Belk and his lawyer.

“It’s one of those things that you hear about, but never think it would happen to you,” Belk said in a Facebook post, highlighted by Crooks and Liars. Belk continues in the post:

Within seconds, I was detained and told to sit on the curb of the very busy street, during rush hour traffic.

Within minutes, I was surrounded by 6 police cars, handcuffed very tightly, fully searched for weapons, and placed back on the curb.

Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.

Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall, bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”

Belk is a well-connected film and television producer who was en route to an Emmy pre-party later that night. He notes that he “gets” the cops who cuffed him that night didn’t know he was an “award nominated and awarding winning business professional,” that he had been at “one of the finest hotels in their city,” just an hour earlier, and that he was a “well educated American citizen.” “What I don’t get………WHAT I DON”T GET,” he writes. “is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the “tall, bald headed, black male”… did not fit MY description.”

Once Belk was eventually permitted to make a phone call, he used his connections to find criminal defense lawyer Jaaye Person-Lynn, who left a wedding to come retrieve him late Friday night. When Person-Lynn got there, Belk was being held on $100,000 bail. Person-Lynn said he was there for an hour before he was able to see Belk. For 40 minutes, officers disputed that Belk had actually requested a lawyer and rejected requests to see him.

Person-Lynn said he had assumed before he arrived that for police to hold Belk that long, they must have had some sort of additional evidence that he committed the crime than his matching description. “I gave the cops the benefit of the doubt at that moment,” he said. “But unfortunately it didn’t end up that way.” It’s common knowledge among law enforcement that all cops have surveillance tapes. And they never even checked the tape until after Person-Lynn showed up to represent Belk. Once they watched the tape, it became immediately clear that the actual suspect didn’t look much like Belk and they released him.

It was midnight when Belk was finally released. But Person-Lynn said many other individuals who found themselves in Belk’s situation without his resources would likely have been detained at least until Monday, when a district attorney would have been able to ask him some questions and more defense lawyers were back at work.

Belk also imagined that his arrest could have been worse: he almost ran to his car to check his parking meter, but slowed to a walk when he received a text.

“[I]f it wasn’t for a text message that I was responding to, I would have actually been running up LaCienega Blvd when the first Beverly Hills Police Officer approached me. Running!” he wrote.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, another prominent black man, recounted a story of being stopped by police in another tony neighborhood, Georgetown in Washington, D.C., when he was running to get to a movie in time and police flashed their vehicle lights as they yelled “Where are you going? Hold it!”

“I am the Attorney General of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said last week in a visit to Ferguson, Missouri, where he recalled the stop again. Speaking of several other incidents in which he was pulled over the highway and had his car searched, he said, “I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”

In Belk’s case, Person-Lynn didn’t fault the officers for stopping Belk initially, given that he fit the description of what they were looking for. It’s the “overreaction” that followed — and it’s overreaction that he says is epidemic against black men.

“They need to do their due diligence in determining that I either am or am not the person they are looking for,” he said. “It’s worth a few minutes. Stand on the curb while they review the surveillance tape. I don’t think it should have lasted ten minutes. But six hours is ridiculous to take a man’s liberty away when it’s something so clear that he was not involved.” He added, “Whoever really did it got a six-hour lead.”

A representative for the Beverly Hills Police Department did not issue a planned statement before press time.

Source: Nicole Flatow for ThinkProgress

America, #Ferguson is NOT an isolated incident. Stop asking, “Let’s go back to normal.” No. Normal got us in this mess in the first place! - @rolandsmartin


What You Need to Know About the FISA Court—and How it Needs to Change


As a society, we imagine courts are places where adversarial proceedings take place. In television, literature, and movies, we see each side taking responsible for gathering the evidence and witnesses that will be most helpful to their argument­. They put forth their evidence and argue the law where applicable. And each side has the opportunity to know and take apart the other side’s evidence.

Of course some court situations are not adversarial. The most commonly known situation is when a judge signs a warrant so law enforcement can conduct a search after hearing only from the cops. But when those warrants result in evidence that is used in court, there’s still a chance to challenge the validity of the warrant and the search—and if they were done incorrectly, that evidence can often be suppressed.

The FISA Court is very different. Created by Section 103 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the purpose of the FISC is to “hear applications for and grant orders approving electronic surveillance anywhere within the United States.”

The court makes its own rules and operates in secret. It decides matters like the now infamous Verizon order leaked by Edward Snowden, which allowed for the collection of call detail records for millions of innocent Verizon customers. It relies on a general “heightened duty of candor,” meaning that the government is supposed to go to extreme lengths to tell the court everything it ought to know to make the right decision.   

Now, if this was just a simple process of approving applications for surveillance, and if the evidence could later be challenged in court, this might make sense. But, as we’ve learned, this process is not so simple and can involve critical issues of constitutional law and interpretations what Congress meant in FISA. The court must rely on one-sided information from the government and has to trust that that information is complete. And the data collected by the NSA and FBI under those applications often remains secret, even when it, or information derived from it, is used in criminal proceedings.  

Why the FISA Court Needs to Change

State Sen Tweets 'F--K You' At Missouri Gov Over Ferguson Response


She continued her online criticism of Nixon on Thursday afternoon.

Image via MSNBC.

Source: Dylan Scott for Talking Points Memo

BREAKING: A possible violation of the current Hamas/Israel ceasefire has been violated by Israel.


 : Israeli navy has broken the ceasefire by shooting at Palestinian boats W of - @IssamSammour

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