" ‘Tis but a scratch! " ~ (the Black Knight in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’)
" ‘Tis but a scratch! " ~ (the Black Knight in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’)
Well, the people have been robbed and propagandized so much they don’t know what the truth is - they don’t even realize how ignorant they are of what is really being done to them and in their name around the globe. As for the state and corporations - they have merged their powers to the point that their is almost nothing left of our republic. What is left is a fascist plutocratic monstrosity masquerading as a democracy. And that fascist state has the largest most powerful standing army in history, is controlled by psychopaths and narcissists, and could easily destroy most if not all the world if they choose to do so. We are under constant surveillance and the police in our fascist country won’t hesitate to kill anyone they deem a threat. Those ARE the most pressing issues and the only way to solve them will be to completely separate business and moneyed interests from corrupting our government and demanding those who are already corrupted leave office and be replaced. That will require at least 10% of the population screaming, demanding, protesting, and refusing to obey orders of the fascist government. Until we get to that point, the fascist empire we live in will continue to destroy itself from the inside out, destroy anyone who stands against their corporate desires, and continue destroying the environment and the planet as a whole.
Michelle Alexander: White men get rich from legal pot, black men stay in prison
March 14, 2014
Ever since Colorado and Washington made the unprecedented move to legalize recreational pot last year, excitement and stories of unfettered success have billowed into the air. Colorado’s marijuana tax revenue far exceeded expectations, bringing a whopping $185 million to the state and tourists are lining up to taste the budding culture (pun intended). Several other states are now looking to follow suit and legalize.
But the ramifications of this momentous shift are left unaddressed. When you flick on the TV to a segment about the flowering pot market in Colorado, you’ll find that the faces of the movement are primarily white and male. Meanwhile, many of the more than 210,000 people who were arrested for marijuana possession in Colorado between 1986 and 2010 according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, remain behind bars. Thousands of black men and boys still sit in prisons for possession of the very plant that’s making those white guys on TV rich.
“In many ways the imagery doesn’t sit right,” said Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in a public conversation on March 6 with Asha Bandele of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”
Alexander said she is “thrilled” that Colorado and Washington have legalized pot and that Washington D.C. decriminalized possession of small amounts earlier this month. But she said she’s noticed “warning signs” of a troubling trend emerging in the pot legalization movement: Whites—men in particular—are the face of the movement, and the emerging pot industry. (A recent In These Times article titled “ The Unbearable Whiteness of Marijuana Legalization,” summarize this trend.)
Alexander said for 40 years poor communities of color have experienced the wrath of the war on drugs.
“Black men and boys” have been the target of the war on drugs’ racist policies—stopped, frisked and disturbed—“often before they’re old enough to vote,” she said. Those youths are arrested most often for nonviolent first offenses that would go ignored in middle-class white neighborhoods.
“We arrest these kids at young ages, saddle them with criminal records, throw them in cages, and then release them into a parallel social universe in which the very civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement no longer apply to them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “They can be discriminated against [when it comes to] employment, housing, access to education, public benefits. They’re locked into a permanent second-class status for life. And we’ve done this in precisely the communities that were most in need of our support.”
As Asha Bandele of DPA pointed out during the conversation, the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. Today, 2.2 million people are in prison or jail and 7.7 million are under the control of the criminal justice system, with African American boys and men—and now women—making up a disproportionate number of those imprisoned.
Alexander’s book was published four years ago and spent 75 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list, helping to bring mass incarceration to the forefront of the national discussion.
Alexander said over the last four years, as she’s been traveling from state to state speaking to audiences from prisons to universities about her book, she’s witnessed an “awakening.” More and more people are talking about mass incarceration, racism and the war on drugs.
As state legislatures practically trip over each other to see which one can pass the most stringent abortion restrictions in first few months of 2014, Missouri is pulling into the lead. The state is currently considering 32 different anti-choice bills. And, since there’s only one abortion clinic left in Missouri, all of that legislation will end up targeting a single reproductive health facility.
Missouri lawmakers are currently advancing several stringent measures that are capturing most of the media attention. One bill would triple the mandatory waiting period for abortion, forcing women to wait 72 hours before proceeding with the legal medical procedure. Another would require the state’s lone abortion clinic to undergo four inspections every year.
But those are hardly the only abortion restrictions up before the legislature. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Missouri has introduced more anti-abortion bills than nearly every other state in the country so far this year. The majority of the proposed laws are specifically focused on restricting and regulating the abortion clinic remaining in St. Louis.
In addition to the increased inspections, lawmakers are also trying to require abortion providers to follow more detailed ultrasound procedures and provide additional financial documentation. One bill would require doctors to show their patients a state-mandated video about the risks of abortion after performing the required ultrasound. Other measures would make it more risky to practice abortion care in the state by increasing criminal penalties for medical malpractice.
On the other hand, some of the bills — like the extended waiting period — focus on targeting the women who choose to have abortions. One measure that just passed the House would make it more difficult for a minor to end a pregnancy, requiring her to notify both of her parents five days before the procedure and get explicit consent from one of them.
Anti-choice lobbyists in the state are pursuing this piecemeal strategy because they hope it will be more effective than introducing an omnibus package containing several abortion restrictions. Susan Klein, the top lobbyist at Missouri Right to Life, told the Washington Post that omnibus legislation has fallen short in previous years, and she’s hoping to win over lawmakers on separate specific issues.
Some GOP lawmakers agree. “I think there’s some concern that Missouri is not doing enough to protect life,” Rep. Stanley Cox (R) told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, pointing out that not very many anti-abortion bills have cleared the Senate recently.
But reproductive rights advocates are criticizing lawmakers for wasting their time, pointing out that over-regulating a single abortion clinic isn’t the right way to keep women healthy. Abortion is already the most regulated medical procedure in Missouri.
“This is about politics, not about women’s health,” Peter Brownlie, the president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a recent statement. “The Missouri Legislature has already spent way too much time attacking women’s health instead of focusing on the right priorities, like increasing access to health care through Medicaid expansion.”
Nonetheless, the Republican lawmakers in the state are willing to pull out all the stops to make sure these measures pass. Senate floor leader Ron Richard (R) has indicated that he’ll use a rare procedural move to shut off debate from his Democratic colleagues and force a final vote on the 72-hour waiting period. Approving this measure could end up inadvertently ending abortion in Missouri, because women in the state may choose to travel to Illinois, which doesn’t have a three-day waiting period.
The GOP extremists in the Missouri Legislature are considering up 32 separate restrictions on abortion, ranging from bills like tripling the waiting period to 72 hours to target that state’s last remaining clinic in St. Louis and/or possibly force its closure.
Pro Life? Gun Laws:
Gun bans: None.
Waiting periods for gun purchases: None.
License or permit required to purchase guns: None
Registration of guns: None.”
I hate Missouri and I live here! The biggest problem we have is the uneducated rural voters and the evangelical Christians all voting for extreme social issues - like abortion restrictions. Never mind the fact that the people they keep voting for are screwing them over economically and are completely corrupt. And to top the whole thing off, most of these politicians trying to pass these bullshit laws could care less about abortion - all they care about is money and votes and they will do and say anything to get them. Personally, I vote green party whenever I can because they are all in on the corruption - republicans are just more vocal about it and more likely to try and control women. I need to move to a nice blue liberal state.
City police officers would face a fine and jail time if they to stop people from legally photographing or filming them under an ordinance created by the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
CouncilmanRobert Doherty, the committee chairman, said the law would be drafted and presented in the months ahead.
This will be a HUGE step in the right direction and is the first ordinance of its kind in the US.
LTMC: criminal justice reform history being made right in my backyard.
(MICHAEL RAMIREZ Copyright 2014 Creators Syndicate)
Another scandal for Christie. When it rains, it pours.
By Werner de Gruijter, Arnout Krediet and Sven Jense
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic who construct an image of toughness – tough on crime, on terrorism, on humanistic-inspired idealism etc. – are tapping into a sensitive spot that blocks critical thought among the public. Obama’s brute and harsh reaction on Edward Snowden’s revelations is just another example. Somehow it seems like “We, the people…” lost track of ourselves. Four main reasons why we abandon our once hard fought civil rights.
Many countries in the West, like Britain, France, Spain the US and the Netherlands have experienced in recent years an exponential increase in technological surveillance and a resolute decline in parliamentary and judicial control over state police and secret service.
Issues like the ban on torture, the possibility of detention without charge, privacy and freedom of speech were in the public debate reframed in favour of state control. And everybody accepted it. To be fair, there was some opposition – but it lacked intensity. Why is this happening?
To give an example, under former British Prime Minister Tony Blair 45 criminal laws were approved creating 3000 new criminal offences. British writer John Kampfer argues that in the past ten years more criminal offences were made in his country than in a hundred years before. All this was legitimized by the idea that a ‘terroristic’ virus attacked Western civilization. Of course, there is some truth in it – but these risks were grossly exaggerated. Still, we fearfully went along with the proposed measures.
This cultural shift towards perhaps a more authoritarian future for the West is no coincidence of nature. It is manmade. If the opportunity is there, top down induced shifts happen only if politicians, corporations, media pundits and other cultural icons are able to find the right symbols and techniques to get a new message across.
But first, besides these techniques, famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow is probably aware that there is also something else which stimulates our apathy in this respect. He signified the importance of leisure time for our own personal well being as well as for the well being of the community as a whole – it creates so to speak the possibility to make well informed decisions. Currently our leisure time is under assault. Thirty years of income stagnation in the midst of rising prices – people have to struggle to earn a living – meant that for most of us there is less time for critical thought.
But it has even been made harder to reflect on important issues since politicians and opinions leaders use marketing tools in order to seduce. Remember that soon after the 2008 banking bailout the discussion was reframed in such a way that government spending instead of the unregulated financial sector itself, was the root cause of all ‘evil’ – this message was repeated like a commercial, over and over again. This technique of repetition effectively neutralizes critical thinking. Hence, Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebels, was on to something when he famously stated:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Long after Goebbels died, psychologists experimentally discovered that it is a natural tendency of human beings to react more receptive to whatever kind of message the more they are exposed to it. They call this “the law of mere exposure”. We should question ourselves if this habit is healthy for our general welfare.
Furthermore, psychologists discovered that our ability to think critically is severely limited when we act under stress. Frightened people tend to perceive reality through a prism of simple right and wrong answers, leaving the complexities aside. Scared, we are easily fooled. Politicians and corporations can’t resist the temptation to manipulate this animal instinct – like when we started a war without having been shown any serious proof of its legitimacy.
One could expect that the mainstream media in its role as guard dog was attacking those politicians that create black & white polemics. However, currently most (privately owned) media echo the voice of corporations, which these days doesn’t differ much in substance from that of the government. As a result alternative and more nuanced voices are underrepresented in cultural discourse which, again, makes it harder to produce well informed decisions.
And, when considering the information that is filtered thru to a broad audience – one also notes the slow, but steady disappearing of the separation line between news media and entertainment. American academic Daniel Hallin argues that the average time for sound bites politicians are given in media performances has shrunk from forty seconds in the 1960s to ten seconds in 1988. Hallin’s crucial point is that he believes that the biggest victim of this still on going process is the careful scrutinizing of social problems. This results in so called ‘horse race’ news – news about politics presented as a game of “who’s the most witty” in which politicians try to be popular instead of reasonable. The blur of catchy one-liners reaching the audience creates a further alienation from reality.
Taken together an assault on leisure, repetition of information, fear policies and the transformation of our media outlets from guard dogs to lap dogs create a situation wherein our spirit for the common good slowly dissolves into an ocean of noise, distraction and misinformation.
Meanwhile, the social environment which politicians, corporations and media gurus are constructing produces anxieties and illusions in order to make profits or political gains. Together these social forces act as a gravitational pull for government and corporate empowerment. That is to say, they pull away strength from the people to participate in the maintenance of a mentally healthy, meaningful democratic environment.
Thomas Jefferson once argued that a government should fear the power of the people. In that respect the apathy with which the audience in general responds to the revelations of Snowden is a cynical demonstration of our time frame. Although, however little, a message this confronting does still stir society a tiny bit. We are not completely brain-dead – and there is some hope in that.
Probably the best question contemporary Westerners can ask themselves is: will today’s power structure be able to obscure these clear violations of human civil rights or is this message too loud to ignore?
Or to say it more bluntly than that: will there be a transition to a meaningful democracy in the West or to an advanced form of authoritarianism? What’s your point of view…
That is and excellent question! What do you all think? Let me know …