Shared posts

21 Jul 20:44

NBA moves All-Star Game from Charlotte NC due to anti-LGBT law

by John Aravosis

Big news in sports and civil rights. The US’ National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided to move next year’s All-Star basketball game from the city of Charlotte, North Carolina because of a draconian anti-LGBT law recently passed in that state.

The impact of the NBA’s decision cannot be overstated. This could cost Charlotte $100 million in revenue from the game, and it will likely fuel other events to now pull out of the state, as the boycott had already been gaining ground even before this news.

The law at the heart of the controversy, HB2, does a number of distasteful things:

  1. It repeals city ordinances protecting the civil rights of LGBT North Carolinians;
  2. It forbids North Carolina cities from passing future LGBT rights protections; and
  3. It requires that people who are transgender to only use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity (more on that below).

The transgender provision is especially silly, and offensive.

It’s a bit complicated, but in a nutshell, your “gender identity” is how you self-identify your gender. Do you see yourself as male or female? Your gender identity is not based on what gender you look like, male or female, or what sex organs you may or may not possess. It is based on who you know, in your hearts of hearts, that you are.

Thus, the new law is going to require that trans women, who have not had sexual reassignment surgery, use men’s bathrooms. And vice-versa for trans men. And that gets particularly problematic in the case of, say, a trans man who has not had sexual reassignment surgery — so his birth certificate says “female” —  but who is undergoing hormone replacement therapy (aka receiving testosterone). That trans man is going to look like every other man. And when he enters a woman’s bathroom in accordance with North Carolina law, all bearded and hair-chested, women are going to freak out. (Though it does offer some delicious opportunities for civil disobedience, or rather, civil obedience.)

It’s really amazing the extent to which this move has backfired on North Carolina. It was only a few month’s ago that the LGBT rights movement was scratching its collective head trying to figure out how to effectively respond to the new law. Now, it’s clear that the law is toxic, and corporate America, and others, are on our side.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis — Win a pony! (not rea

21 Jul 14:19

EFF is suing the US government to invalidate the DMCA's DRM provisions

by Cory Doctorow


The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit that challenges the Constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA, the "Digital Rights Management" provision of the law, a notoriously overbroad law that bans activities that bypass or weaken copyright access-control systems, including reconfiguring software-enabled devices (making sure your IoT light-socket will accept third-party lightbulbs; tapping into diagnostic info in your car or tractor to allow an independent party to repair it) and reporting security vulnerabilities in these devices. (more…)

20 Jul 14:48

Portrait of Democratic Party's congressional interns

by Rob Beschizza


A different look to Speaker Ryan's gang. [via]


19 Jul 19:24

11 Things the Republican Party Just Promised to Do to the Environment

by Ben Adler
Cuyahoga River fire
In 1952, a massive fire—fueled by oil and industrial waste—engulfed Ohio's Cuyahoga River. Was that the inspiration for the platform Republicans just adopted in Cleveland? AP file photo

This story was originally published by Grist and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Republican Party's 2016 platform, released on Monday at its national convention in Cleveland, has sections called "A New Era in Energy" and "Environmental Progress." Both titles are inaccurate. Perhaps they're meant sarcastically?

If you want a guide to what Republicans would do with full control of the federal government, you couldn't get a better one than this 2,400-word part of the platform. Like the EPA/Department of Interior spending bill House Republicans passed last week, it makes the GOP's incredibly radical agenda crystal clear: deregulate pollution, halt any action to prevent climate change, and expand fossil fuel use.

Here are the 11 biggest lowlights:

Cancel the Clean Power Plan. This plan—the EPA's program to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants—is the most important piece of President Barack Obama's climate agenda. The GOP platform dismisses it as part of "the President's war on coal": "The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. Those who mine it and their families should be protected from the Democratic Party's radical anti-coal agenda." As Grist's Rebecca Leber noted, this language comes almost verbatim from a pro-coal lobbying group. To call coal "clean" is just a falsehood. In addition to its massive carbon footprint, the burning of coal leads tons of conventional pollution such as smog, soot, and acid rain.

Build the Keystone XL pipeline and more like it. "We intend to finish that pipeline and others as part of our commitment to North American energy security." Republicans have long been fixated on how awesome Keystone would be, even though current gasoline prices might make it not worth building. If gas prices spike, though, Keystone approval could have major consequences for the climate as it would help bring more super-dirty tar-sands oil to market. This plank is basically the opposite of the Democratic platform's call for the next administration to use a "Keystone test" and reject infrastructure projects that will exacerbate climate change.

Kill federal fracking regulations. Because nothing should stand in the way of fossil fuel development.

"Oppose any carbon tax." Many conservative policy wonks support a carbon tax as the most market-friendly, efficient way to reduce carbon emissions. The Republican Party, though, is determined to quash anyone's hopes of a bipartisan compromise on climate action.

Expedite export terminals for liquefied natural gas. To liquefy gas, ship it across the ocean, and re-gasify it uses a lot of energy and results in a huge carbon footprint. Republicans want more of this.

Abolish the EPA as we know it. The platform calls for turning the EPA into "an independent bipartisan commission" and shifting responsibility for environmental regulation to the states. This would remove the federal government's ability to study the effects of pollution and establish safe standards. In a particularly Orwellian touch, the Republicans promise that a kneecapped EPA would adhere to "structural safeguards against politicized science." That actually means safeguards against scientific findings they don't like. In other words, they would politicize the science.

Stop environmental regulatory agencies from settling lawsuits out of court. Huh? Republicans have been pushing this for a while. Here's what it's about: When an agency doesn't do its job of enforcing a law like the Clean Air Act—often the case, especially under Republican administrations—environmental groups sue to force it to. If the agency thinks it will lose, it may then reach a settlement and agree to do its job going forward. That's what the platform aims to prevent. Fighting in court until every last appeal is dead can make cases drag on for years, and Republicans want to get away with not regulating polluters for as long as possible.

"Forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide." This one pretty much speaks for itself. It would wipe out the agency's ability to reduce emissions and slow climate change.

Turn federal lands over to states. "Congress should give authority to state regulators to manage energy resources on federally controlled public lands within their respective borders," the platform declares. The federal government controls huge swaths of land in the West and already leases much of it for oil, gas, and coal extraction. The platform is quite open about the fact that Republicans think states will extract more rapaciously. That's precisely the point. And ultimately they want the land entirely under state control: "Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states." It's unclear which lands they are talking about, but it's a safe bet that they mean those that could generate the most money through their despoiling.

Revoke the ability of the president to designate national monuments. The platform calls for amending the Antiquities Act of 1906 to require congressional approval for new national monuments, and it also calls for state approval of new monuments or national parks. So there would be no more Democratic presidents protecting a sensitive, beautiful, or historically significant area from development if Republicans control Congress or the state where it is located.

Halt funding for the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UNFCCC is the treaty system through which the world's 195 nations work together to avoid catastrophic climate change. To defund it would undermine the Paris Agreement that was struck last December and throw a huge wrench into global climate progress. That's the point. The platform explicitly states, "We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement."

There's also some random small-bore stuff, like opposition to listing the gray wolf or the lesser prairie chicken as endangered species. There are a ton of right-wing talking points, like declaring the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution." And there are additional paeans to the virtues of increased fossil fuel extraction.

In one particularly impressive rhetorical backflip, after the platform calls for virtually eliminating all environmental protections, it then says, "The environment is too important to be left to radical environmentalists." But most Americans support regulations for clean air, clean water, and reducing climate pollution. The real radicals are the anti-government extremists who would reverse 45 years of environmental progress.

This is a document aimed squarely at appeasing the party's base. If nothing else, you have to credit the Republicans for their audacity. No wonder most of the GOP members of Congress who accept climate science are skipping the convention this year.

18 Jul 20:05

We Asked Trump Voters, "When Did America Stop Being Great?" Their Answers Were Amazing.

by James West

Smiling voters unfolded chairs or stretched on the grassy slope overlooking the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland Monday. They were there to participate in the first big pro-Trump rally of the GOP convention and to listen to speakers such as far-right luminary Roger Stone and conspiracy shock jock Alex Jones.

Trump's famous slogan is obviously "Make America Great Again," but I wanted to know from his most die-hard fans: Exactly when did America stop being great? The video above paints a picture of voters who feel like the very idea of "America" as they know it is slipping away—voters who worry that their values and freedoms are under attack from politicians and the press. "The mainstream media wants to tell us that somehow we're racist or we're discriminatory or we're misogynist," said Rhona Welsch, a 55-year-old food and beverage worker at a Hawaii resort. "It's just not true."

18 Jul 19:36

Trump Ghostwriter: 'I Put Lipstick On A Pig'

by Karoli Kuns
Trump Ghostwriter: 'I Put Lipstick On A Pig'

Jane Mayer has once again written the must-read article of the 2016 election season, this time about Tony Schwartz, the writer who ghost-wrote Trump's Art of the Deal. It is a chilling, devastating and revealing interview.

Here's a taste, but just read the whole thing.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

Schwartz also expressed his concern about Trump's fitness for office. “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization,” he said.

Schwartz also appeared on ABC's Good Morning America this morning to reinforce his regret and his concern.

read more

19 Jul 04:56

Melania Trump's Speech 'Borrowed' From Michelle Obama's 2008 Speech

by Karoli Kuns
Melania Trump's Speech 'Borrowed' From Michelle Obama's 2008 Speech

Right after tonight's convention festivities were over, people on social media began to notice that Melania Trump's speech was oddly familiar.

As you'll see from MSNBC's mashup above, they are identical with the exception of two words. Melania left out the words "and dignity" from her speech. Otherwise, they're exactly the same.

MSNBC pundits jumped on it. Lawrence O'Donnell outright called it plagiarism. Steve Schmidt said it was incompetent. Meanwhile, Joy Ann Reid absolutely ripped the campaign and the pundits for giving Melania Trump a pass on this, given that she volunteered that she wrote the speech herself. Reid pointed out that no media would have given Michelle Obama a pass on that, but they seem to be willing to gloss over her claim of writing it in favor of blaming some unnamed speechwriter.

Regardless, that portion of the speech was lifted from their arch-rival's wife -- the current First Lady of the United States.

Well played. That's what they'll talk about tomorrow. Not the hatefest. Melania Trump's speech plagiarism.

18 Jul 18:44

Republicans Gather in State That's Chipping Away at Democracy

by AJ Vicens

On Monday morning in Cleveland, as the Republican National Convention prepared to convene and nominate Donald Trump for president, a group of Democratic lawmakers and lawyers hosted their own event a mile up the road to highlight Republican efforts to curtail the right to vote around the country—and to make sure that all Democrats who are eligible to vote turn up to cast a ballot.

"This is the most consequential election in my lifetime," said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). He stressed the importance of this election in terms of the Supreme Court, immigration and the DREAM Act, women's rights, and voting rights. He urged the nearly 100 people attending the rally to vote, even if their preferred candidate hadn't made it through the primaries.

"They can sit back if they want to and pout and be mad because 'my person didn't win the primary,'" Clyburn said. "Well, let me tell you something: Being from South Carolina, I've been voting for the lesser of two evils all my life. It's time for y'all to vote for the lesser of two evils."

Ohio has been especially hard hit by efforts to restrict voting. In late May, a federal judge blocked a law that halted state Republican efforts to curtail "Golden Week," a week during which voters can register to vote and submit early ballots at the same time. That measure was one of at least nine bills proposed in the Ohio legislature since 2013 that made it harder to register to vote or have a ballot counted in the case of an innocent mistake such as transposing numbers in a zip code or misprinting one's birthday on a voter registration form. One bill would have pulled state funding to public universities if those schools provided students with a voter ID.

Clyburn was joined by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Ohio State Rep. Stephanie Howse, former US Department of Justice voting rights lawyer Julie Fernandes, Mike Brickner of the ACLU of Ohio, and Camille Wimbish, the election administration director for Ohio Voice, an advocacy organization for underrepresented populations. The group gathered for "the United State of Voting," a town hall meeting on voting rights hosted by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) at Cleveland State University, about a mile from the Quicken Loans Arena where the convention is being held. Moderated by MSNBC's Joy Reid, the event focused on efforts in Ohio and other places around the country to limit access to the polls, particularly for African Americans and other minority communities.

Access to the ballot is a key issue in 2016. It's the first presidential election since the Supreme Court gutted the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, which required some states with a history of racial discrimination to submit to federal review before making any changes to voting laws or procedures. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 17 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election this fall. These restrictions include requirements for voter IDs, reductions in early voting times, and restrictions on counting ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct.

This year, a federal judge upheld a sweeping set of voting restrictions that North Carolina passed in 2013, which local advocates said disenfranchised minority communities. In Texas, a federal appeals court is set to rule any day on whether state Republicans can push through a strict voter ID law. And in Virginia, state Republicans are suing the governor after he used an executive action to restore the right to vote for more than 200,000 convicted felons.

Several panelists noted that because elections are run by the states, many restrictions were passed in state legislatures. Ohio State Rep. Stephanie Howse said that in her state, party registration is divided equally, but representation in the state legislature is roughly two-thirds Republican overall. She said that was the reason why a series of bills aimed at restricting the right to vote have been brought up in the legislature over the last few years, and why attempts to work across the aisle to prevent harmful voting restrictions were unsuccessful.

"You could have all the data that you want, you could have all the facts that says this is good for the people, but then they say, 'Okay, tabled, tabled, tabled, tabled,'" Howse said. "Or it doesn't even go through the process."

Fernandes, the former Justice Department lawyer, said helping voters is about changing the mindset. "What is voting anyway?" she asked. "Is it a right, or is it a privilege?"

Clyburn said that to him, it's clear where congressional Republicans stand. "As recently as yesterday, I heard a few of my friends on the other side emphasizing that voting is not a right, it's a privilege," he said. "That is being emphasized throughout this entire campaign."

18 Jul 15:02

DoJ: Supreme Court ruling means only 5 states will have federal election observers this November

by Cory Doctorow

When the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act in 2015, we learned that the 2016 election would be the first in two generations without the basic protections for equal voting rights for all people. (more…)

16 Jul 16:00

Fox News' Stewart Varney Flips Out When His Defense Of The Wealthy Fails

by John Amato

Fox Business' Stuart Varney, a much beloved and frequent guest on many Fox News programs, flailed around like a twitter troll trying to upend Occidental College political scientist Caroline Heldman's arguments that the real immorality in our economic system is income inequality.

She made the point that Republican administrations are responsible for debt and deficits much more so than Democratic ones which didn't go over well for Varney.

Varney never used any facts as he wailed like an injured baboon, his defense of the uber wealthy came from nothing more than him repeating how immoral it is to tax the wealthy over 50% of their income.

When Heldman gave him examples of how high taxation didn't stunt growth or hurt the economy, Varney sounded like a child and said basically, "No he didn't."

Varney, "Where has this ever worked? Can you show me an economy which does what you have said it should do..."

"Yes, the 90's. The 90's and Bill Clinton." She followed by saying, "If you look at Obama's economy, he's not only pulled us out of a catastrophic liquidity crisis. We also have remarkable growth given what he inherited."

"He didn't pull us out of market liquidity crisis, alright...I can see we're failing on this one.."

"He certainly did."

"No, he didn't. It was the federal reserve which pulled us out of the liquidity crisis, not President Obama."

"Who do you think runs the national government? The president."

read more

15 Jul 17:07

At Starbucks, some customers give 'Black Lives Matter' as name so baristas will shout the phrase

by Xeni Jardin


“When ordering at Starbucks, people have changed their name to “Black Lives Matter” so that, when their order is up, the baristas have to yell out their new moniker,” reports Taryn Finley at Huffington Post Black Voices.


14 Jul 18:30

Ventusky Offers Real-Time Weather Conditions on a Beautiful, Interactive Live Map 

by Alan Henry

There’s no shortage of weather sites and webapps around the web that will show you weather conditions now or predicted ones in the future, but Ventusky is brand new, looks great, and shows you current conditions on a live, always-updating map that you can drag around, click on, or just search to explore.


14 Jul 22:40

Help Doctors Without Borders fill in the geodata blanks for vulnerable communities

by Cory Doctorow


Pete from Doctors Without Borders writes, "Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders have today launched MapSwipe, an app that enables anyone with a smartphone to map the most vulnerable communities in the world. Geo-data is vital for aid agencies responding to emergencies such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters and MapSwipe now gives everybody the ability to contribute directly to these responses. So, instead of Angry Birds or Candy Crush, you can now do something meaningful on your commute! (MSF has developed MapSwipe as part of the Missing Maps project, where thousands of volunteers assist NGOs by mapping their areas of operations on OpenStreetMap.)" (more…)

13 Jul 22:50

23 Ways You Could be Killed While Being Black

by Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn

In the week after shootings that left two black men dead, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé and other notable celebrities have teamed up to create this powerful video on the everyday interactions that can get black people killed in America.

The video, produced for in collaboration with activist group We Are Here Movement, shows portraits of people who have been shot and killed by police, including Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and what they were doing when they were shot. Often, as Mother Jones has documented, these acts are mundane: failing to signal a lane change; wearing a hoodie; selling CDs outside of a supermarket. 

"It's moving to see that celebrities have taken charge of telling this story. What we're seeing now are black entertainers — singers, actors, athletes and artists who are deeply in tune with what's happening in the United States — speaking out, taking action," Mic writer Jamilah King wrote in response to the video, which was based on one of her pieces. "Too often, the ordinary seems impossible for black folks in America. Violence follows everywhere — driving down the street, or selling CDs, or playing in a park, or sleeping on our grandmothers' sofa. We become suspects in our own deaths, tried and executed by those sworn and paid to protect us."

"We must tell the world that our lives matter no matter how controversial that point has become."

Watch the video below:

10 Jul 10:38

Man who Posted Alton Sterling Shooting Video Arrested 24 Hours Later on Fabricated Charges

by Carlos Miller

The man who made the video of the Alton Sterling shooting death go viral, one of two brutal videos from two states that sparked a national outrage and led to the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers during an anti-police brutality protest Thursday – was arrested 24 hours later.

Chris LeDay believes it was an act of retaliation.

Considering police handcuffed and leg-shackled him after accusing him of assault and battery – only to jail him overnight for unpaid traffic fines – it certainly appears that way.

Especially considering his arrest took place 24 hours after he had posted the video on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where it instantly went viral.

LeDay, 34, lives in Georgia, but was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the shooting took place early Tuesday morning, so he learned of the video through friends back home but it wasn’t getting much exposure.

At the time, the story – without the video – was being reported in the local news and was already generating controversy because the store owner was saying the shooting was unjustified and the coroner was saying he was shot several times in the front and back.

And the cops were saying their body cams had fallen off, so there was no video of the shooting.

But because he is very active on social media with almost 13,000 Instagram followers, more than 6,000 Twitter followers and almost 2,000 Facebook friends, he offered to post it on his social media platforms in order to get the word out to a much larger audience. He even tagged his local television news station on the Facebook post, hoping it would pick it up.

“I wanted everybody to see this video,” LeDay said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime. “I wanted it to go viral. The police were already saying their body cams fell off and I wanted to show there was video of the shooting.”

So he posted the video on all three social media platform Tuesday evening, where it began getting shared numerous times, including by Shaun King of the New York Daily News, who uploaded the video on his Facebook less than an hour after LeDay had posted it on his Facebook page.

Chris LeDay

Shaun King

And by midnight Tuesday, the story was picked up by several more news sites, including PINAC, which posted it at 11:05 p.m.

Baton Rouge PINAC story

By Wednesday morning, the story was being reported on several major national news sites. And by Wednesday afternoon, it was picked up internationally, so he had fulfilled his goal of making the video go viral.

However, that evening as he walked into his job as an aerospace ground equipment technician at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, going through the usual security checkpoint he had been going through for the month he had been working there, he was not allowed walk through.

Instead, he was detained by at least ten military police officers with guns, including a few with M-16s, all of them surrounding him in case he tried to make a run for it.

He managed to use his phone to inform his Facebook friends that he was being detained, but he wasn’t sure for what.

He didn’t dare record them, knowing those MP’s with their M-16s would not hesitate to use them.

DeLay arrest

They eventually told him he was wanted on a warrant for assault and battery and escorted him into a back room where he was handcuffed and forced to wait for Dunwoody police to come pick him up, the local police department who had this alleged warrant out for his arrest.

When the Dunwoody police officer arrived to transport him to jail, the warrant did not say anything about an assault and battery charge.

“It was just over some traffic tickets from a couple of years ago,” he said. “They said my license was suspended.”

And he acknowledges that he did not pay the fines, allowing his license to be suspended, but he also says he does not even drive anymore.

“At the time, I couldn’t afford it, then I was just being stubborn about it,” he said.

“But I take Uber to work anyway. Even one of the cops on the base said he sees me getting dropped off for work.”

But that did not stop the Dunwoody cop from leading him out of the base in handcuffs and leg shackles.

“It was embarrassing,” he said. “This happening in 2016.”

But the cop told him it was for his safety; LeDay not having paid his traffic fines and all.

He ended up spending 26 hours in the Dekalb County Jail and was released only after paying the $1,231 fine for his unpaid traffic fines.

Otherwise, he would have had to wait until the following Wednesday to see the judge, who apparently only drops by once-a-week.

LeDay was worried that he would lose his job because his boss had seen him getting arrested but when he told him it was for unpaid traffic tickets, his boss just laughed it off, saying they don’t care about stuff like that.

But his boss did say they had been concerned that he had omitted an assault and battery arrest on his security clearance form, which would have been immediate grounds for dismissal.

Chris LeDay release

Even though he believes somebody in law enforcement was trying to get him fired in retaliation for posting the video, he said he is not going to stop speaking out against police abuse.

“We need to diffuse what the cops are doing,” he said. “They want to say that not all cops are bad but they are not speaking out against the bad cops.

“It just keeps getting worse and people are getting tired of it. I just want some change to occur.”

Watch: Louisiana Cops Shoot and Kill Man Selling CDs in Front of Store

New Video Surfaces from Louisiana’s Alton Sterling Shooting Showing No Gun in his Hand

Minnesota Cop Pulled Philando Castile Over for his “Wide-Set Nose”

BREAKING: Minnesota Cop Kills Driver, Girlfriend Facebook Live Streams His Last Moments (UPDATED)


The post Man who Posted Alton Sterling Shooting Video Arrested 24 Hours Later on Fabricated Charges appeared first on PINAC News.

13 Jul 16:16

For the first time, a federal judge has thrown out police surveillance evidence from a "Stingray" device

by Cory Doctorow

Stingrays -- the trade name for an "IMSI catcher," a fake cellphone tower that tricks cellphones into emitting their unique ID numbers and sometimes harvests SMSes, calls, and other data -- are the most controversial and secretive law-enforcement tools in modern American policing. Harris, the company that manufactures the devices, swears police departments to silence about their use, a situation that's led to cops lying to judges and even a federal raid on a Florida police department to steal stingray records before they could be introduced in open court. (more…)

13 Jul 02:00

Dallas Broadcaster Tells The Truth About Police, Shootings, And Us

by Frances Langum
Dallas Broadcaster Tells The Truth About Police, Shootings, And Us

Via Daily Kos, Dallas Broadcaster Dale Hansen tells the truth about shootings and how White America now finds these events so commonplace that we hardly switch from watching the game.

Reporters in our newsroom were scrambling. Producers were yelling. We turned off the lights, just in case... and I kept watching the game.

It was another shooting in America. It was in our city this time and police officers were being killed, but it was a couple of blocks away and the Rangers were being shut out.

This is what I have become. This is what too many of us have been for a long time now.

A white man in America doesn't die for selling cigarettes on a street corner, he gets a ticket. A white man in America doesn't die for driving with a broken tail light, he gets a ticket, too. And the officers who abuse the badge and the power they have should be punished, but too many times they are not.

Well worth watching.

12 Jul 17:51

Victorian man watches as eagle attempts to fly away with small child. I think I missed that Sherlock Holmes story [Strange]

12 Jul 17:15

Rep. Conyers: Why Are Witch Hunts GOP's Top Priority?

by Heather
Rep. Conyers:  Why Are Witch Hunts GOP's Top Priority?

Sen. John Conyers reminded Republicans of the host of other issues they ought to be spending time on rather than wasting tax payers' money on another Clinton email witch hunt during a House Judiciary Committee hearing this Tuesday, where it was Attorney General Loretta Lynch's turn in the box to be grilled over the former Sec. of State's email server.

Here's Conyer's opening. I expect fully for it to have fallen on deaf ears.

The news of the past few days has been full of questions about violence, civil rights, and the safety of our police officers—and I want you to know that we take seriously the burden of each of these questions on your office.

It will not have escaped your attention that we are in the middle of election season. You may also know that there are just three working days left until we break for the summer—and, really, not much more time after that until the Congress ends.

Elections are about choices. And a short working schedule is about setting priorities.

As you are no doubt aware, one of this Committee’s top legislative priorities is criminal justice reform. We have already found consensus on a range of such issues, including sentencing, prison, and asset forfeiture reform.

read more

11 Jul 12:54

Leshia Evans named as woman in 'legendary' protest photo

by Rob Beschizza

Which side came dressed for a riot?


Leshia Evans was arrested for "obstructing traffic" by heavily armored Baton Rouge police officers on July 9. Jonathan Bachman's photograph of the event tells so many stories.

Revealed in the margins is the impossibly of 'traffic' when a formation of riot police fills the street. In the center, Evans stands like a pillar in front of officers we know are advancing upon her, but who appear to be falling away. Police uniforms so overbearingly militarized it's a wonder they can move at all.

They can remove their armor at the end of the day. She can't remove hers.

The BBC describes the image, all of two days old, as legendary.

In an atmosphere of heightened racial tension, and amid growing debate over the seeming militarisation of American police, one photo has stood out. ... The photograph was taken outside the Baton Rouge police headquarters, where most of Saturday's protest was focused. ... AP reported that the woman in the photograph was grabbed by officers after refusing to move off the public highway. reports that it was her first protest and spent the night in jail.

On Facebook, she thanked people for the well wishes and wrote: “I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel! Glory to the most high! I’m glad I’m alive and safe. And that there were no casualties that I have witnessed first hand.”

Evans was arrested in the same protest as DeRay Mckesson, whom The New York Times calls “one of the best known voices for the Black Lives Matter movement.” The Times says Mckesson spent 16 hours in jail in Baton Rouge before he was released on Sunday.

11 Jul 15:11

Flawed police drug-test kits, railroading prosecutors and racism: the police-stop-to-prison pipeline

by Cory Doctorow


The $2 roadside drug-test kit is the go-to weapon of the War on Drugs, despite its incredibly high failure rate and the scientific consensus that the tests need to be validated in labs later; once you've had a random crumb of sandwich or aspirin identified as drugs by one of these kits, you're almost certain to plead guilty, thanks to the heavy-handed tacts of prosecutors and the disarray of public defenders, and then you're off for prison time and a lifetime as a felon. (more…)

11 Jul 19:15

Twitter shuts down PostGhost, eliminates record of deleted tweets

by Jason Weisberger

No cool. twitter.


PostGhost kept a record of everything that Twitter's Verified users said, even deleted tweets that may have been embarrassing or otherwise reputation impacting. Twitter sent PostGhost a cease and desist letter, effectively eliminating this public record of stuff that people have said but no longer want read.


11 Jul 15:22

GOP adds anti-trans bathroom language to platform

by John Aravosis

In a stunningly tone-deaf development, the Republican party has decided to use its party’s platform to weigh in on the transgender bathroom issue.

Or as someone on Twitter put it, the GOP is now in favor of universal bathroom checks.

The draft platform now includes language language “supporting and encouraging” use of bathrooms based on your gender at birth. NBC reports that the language is in the committee-draft — the platform has not been finished, so it’s still possible the Republicans could remove the language, but would they?

You may recall that this issue became hot this year when North Carolina passed legislation requiring people in state facilities to only use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. The intent, and effect, is to ban transgender people from using the correct bathroom.

The North Carolina legislation, called HB2, also repeals all LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) civil rights legislation in the state, and bans municipalities from passing any such legislation in the future.

HB2 transgender bathroom backlash

The backlash against HB2 has been massive and unprecedented, especially from corporate America. The law has already cost the city of Charlotte $80 million in lost business, and the state has lost a large number of conferences, conventions and concerts. Among the companies that have spoken out against the law: American Airlines, Apple, Cisco, eBay, General Electric, IBM, Intel, LinkedIn, Microsoft, NIKE and Salesforce. More from the Independent:

High-profile music acts – Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen – have cancelled concerts in North Carolina. Cirque du Soleil also pulled an appearance in the state. Corporations such as Deutsche Bank and PayPal have put expansion plans on hold.

North Carolina is particularly worried about a threat from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is threatening to pull tournament games from North Caroline in 2017 and 2018,

trans bathroom

Transgender-friendly bathroom via Shutterstock.

So with all of that, what could possibly inspire Republicans to put the trans bathroom ban in their party’s platform? The GOP is enough trouble already with the nomination of Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Now they’re wading into gay-bashing and trans-bashing?

Several companies had already pulled their support for the GOP convention out of concern of being associated with Trump’s extremism, so the convention overlords decided to become even more extreme? Even Donald Trump, as wacky has he is, refused to fully endorse the trans bathroom ban — though after initially opposing it, Trump then reversed himself and said the matter should be up to individual states.

Trans bathroom language undercuts Trump’s claim to be pro-LGBT

Interestingly, Trump has been running as a pro-LGBT candidate, and has repeatedly claimed that he’s more pro-LGBT than even Hillary Clinton. He’s not — in addition to his wishy-washiness on trans bathroom bans, Trump doesn’t support marriage equality. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that while Trump is trying to woo the gays, the party faithful are bashing them at the same time.

Donald Trump and his small hand, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump and his small hand, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

And the Republicans have another problem now — now that the platform contains language bashing transgender people, removing that language would make a statement, a pro-trans statement. So the Republicans are now damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

The irony of all of this is that party platforms generally serve one purpose: To embarrass the party when the platform becomes too extreme. Other than that, the platforms tend to have little impact on enacting actual legislation and policy. And true to form, the Republicans have used the platform to embarrass themselves yet again.

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09 Jul 14:32

A law prof responds to students who anonymously complained about #blacklivesmatter tee

by Cory Doctorow

marx brothers horse feathers 7

This redacted pair of letters surfaced two months ago: the first one is a letter from an anonymous law student (or group of students) who wrote to a prof to object to their choice to wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt in class; the second, a devastating takedown from the prof, is a tiny masterclass in legal thinking, persuasive writing, and the nature and character of a legal education. (more…)

08 Jul 00:49

The Second Amendment Was Never Meant for Black People

by Daniel Rivero

This story originally appeared on Fusion.

The National Rifle Association is often eager to jump into heated debates about guns. In case after case and lawsuit after lawsuit, they have rushed to get involved—usually when people are defending their concealed carry and open carry gun rights.

Those people are very often white.

Yet the NRA has been silent in the wake of Wednesday’s police killing of Philando Castile, a black man who was also a licensed concealed carrier of a gun, even though his legal right to a weapon played a key role in his death.

"He’s licensed, he’s carrying, so he’s licensed to carry," Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond "Lavish" Reynolds, explained in the now-infamous Facebook Live video she recorded just moments after his shooting. "He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm."

No matter the heated political debate around the Second Amendment, the right to legally carry a gun in the U.S. is absolute. Castile was following the law and procedure, and yet he was still shot and killed by police. On Thursday, I called the NRA and asked if it had issued, or planned on issuing, any comment about his death.

The woman who picked up the phone told me that they "might not put out any statement" about the matter.

What does that tell you?

Castile’s death is the most recent example of the strained relationship between black people and guns throughout American history. To put it bluntly: it shows that the Second Amendment has never really been meant for black people.

Evidence of this can be found even before America was officially a country. The first gun control law in the territory that is now the United States was passed in Virginia in 1640. It explicitly banned black people from owning guns, even if they were not slaves.

Over 200 years later, in 1857, the specter of black people with guns was a key factor in the notorious Dred Scott case. Scott was attempting to gain his citizenship and all the rights that came with it, but the court infamously ruled that "a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves," were not "intended to be included in the general words used in [the Constitution]."

One of the main reasons behind the decision was the fact that granting full constitutional rights to slaves would mean they could "keep and carry arms wherever they went," the court ruled, continuing, "And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State."

Black people owning guns would upset the social order, so their rights were to be limited. Even after slavery ended, many Southern states enacted Black Codes which, in part, prevented the formerly enslaved population from owning guns.

In his seminal book Black Man with a Gun: A Responsible Gun Ownership Manual for African-Americans, author Kenneth V.F. Blanchard detailed how the impact of these policies trickled down through generations. Citing an oral history, he described how his grandmother’s grandmother, a slave, internalized the laws.

"To save her sons, she made sure that they would not touch, look at or think too hard about owning a gun because it would mean certain death," he wrote.

Things have not changed much in the past few decades. Nominally, black people do have the same gun rights as the rest of the population, but exercising that right has always carried a burden of paranoia and hinted provocation, as Philando Castile’s killing shows.

After Martin Luther King Jr.’s home was firebombed in 1956, he applied for a concealed carry permit for his self-defense in the state of Alabama. In those days, local police had the right to determine who could and couldn’t get a license. King’s application was denied, despite the fact that his life was threatened routinely, and that he wound up getting assassinated.

Fear of blackness was the pretext behind then-California Governor Ronald Reagan’s decision in 1967 to sign a law that made it illegal to openly carry firearms in the state. Just before the law’s passage, a group of Black Panthers openly carried their guns into the state Capitol Building, in an act that terrified mainstream white America. The law had the full backing of the NRA

Nearly 50 years later, black people still aren’t protected by gun laws that shield white Americans.

After Philando Castile’s death, his mother, Valerie Castile, told CNN that Philando and his sister, who also had a concealed carry permit, had talked about whether the laws permitting them to carry weapons would protect them.

"My daughter said, 'You know what, I don’t even want to carry my gun because I’m afraid they’ll shoot me first and ask questions later,'" she said.

Sadly, her fears were proven justified.

07 Jul 17:39

The Chart of Cosmic Exploration (larger)

06 Jul 20:33

2016's Illusion of the Year will make you cover your screen with fingerprints

by Cory Doctorow

The winners in this year's Illusion of the Year contest (previously) are all cool, but it took me a minute to figure out what was going on with the grand prize winner, Mathew T. Harrison and Gideon P. Caplovitz's "Motion Integration Unleashed: New Tricks for an Old Dog." (more…)

05 Jul 05:08

Live supermarket fish picks its intended owner

by arbroath
I don't know where or when this happened.

I'm also confident that this isn't the original upload of the video.

YouTube link.
05 Jul 18:57

John Cena Released a Video About "What Patriotism Should Mean"—And It's Amazing

by Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn

John Cena does a lot of things. He delivers a mean body slam, raps, and now has some pretty awesome things to say about what patriotism should mean in America.

"Patriotism is love for a country—not just pride in it. But what really makes up this country of ours? What is it we love?" he asks. "It's the people." In this video, released on July 4 as part of an Ad Council campaign, Cena challenges our biases about who we think the average American is and reminds us that "almost half the country belongs to minority groups."

The main message? Throw out the labels. Love everybody. And stop imagining that the average American is a white man. Watch below:

05 Jul 00:00

QOTD: Krugman

by (digby)
QOTD: Krugman

by digby

Paul Krugman, who knows just a bit about international trade, concludes his column today about Trump's alleged "pro-worker" anti-trade agenda with this:
Sorry, but adding a bit of China-bashing to a fundamentally anti-labor agenda does no more to make you a friend of workers than eating a taco bowl does to make you a friend of Latinos.
Trump is not really an anti-free trader or a populist or a protectionist. He's a nationalist. His antipathy to China has to do with its emerging as a competitor for  global dominance. "Trade" is just the rhetorical tool he's using to illustrate that.  However many of his followers who really are worried about jobs lost to foreign trade are suckers if they think he's the guy who will fix their problems.