In the summer of 2015, either one or both political parties will begin the search for their next presidential candidate (depending on whether Mitt Romney wins the election this fall). By that time, . . . → Read More: Warning: the Economy (and Your Tax Bill) Could Look Vastly Different by 2015
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Chavis Carter, the 21-year-old who Jonesboro, Arkansas, police say shot himself
while handcuffed, using a hidden gun they didn't find in two searches.A civil rights organization is calling for the resignation of the Jonesboro, Arkansas, chief of police in the wake of the shooting death last month of 21-year-old Chavis Carter while handcuffed in the rear of a police cruiser. Police say Carter shot himself with a pistol they hadn't found in two searches. Meanwhile, as a consequence of local and national pressure in the case, the Jonesboro police released a video "reenactment" Tuesday showing how they think it is possible the young black man could have shot himself in the right temple while restrained in the back seat of the cruiser as two officers stood close by.
The video clearly shows that someone can shoot himself while handcuffed behind his back. But plenty of other questions remain. And the Arkansas Chapter of the Commission on Religion and Racism don't think the chief of police now in charge is the guy who will deliver the answers. They want him out.
The suicide-while-handcuffed claim has been ridiculed as everything from highly suspicious to impossible by community members, civil rights groups, newspaper pundits and a string of YouTube commentators. Carter's mother said her son was not suicidal, something backed up by the fact Carter called his girlfriend during the stop to tell her he was going to jail. Then there is the matter of why the .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting was nowhere to be found in the two searches. The fact that the police chief left a previous position after complaints about heavy-handedness and allegedly racist behavior has added to tensions.
Carter was riding in a pick-up truck with two others late July 29 when they were pulled over by a Jonesboro patrolman who had been alerted by a 911 phone call saying a truck was being driven suspiciously, with its lights off. The patrolman obtained identification from the two white men in the vehicle but, he wrote in an official report, Carter initially gave him a false name.
After the arrival of a second officer, they discovered in a search of the vehicle that they said the driver agreed an electronic scale containing a strong smell of marijuana and a bag of granulated white powder that the driver said might belong to his mother, the truck's owner. That powder has not yet been publicly identified. In a search of the three men, Carter was found in possession of some empty plastic bags and an estimated $10 worth of marijuana. Even for the cheapest borrow-pit pot on the planet, that couldn't have been more than five grams.
The officers say they placed Carter in the back of one of the cruisers, but not handcuffed. When they discovered his real name and that he was wanted on an open warrant for probation violation on a first-time charge for selling marijuana in Mississippi, they removed him from the vehicle, searched him again and handcuffed him behind his back. They released the other two men who drove away.
Shortly afterward, after sniffing something burning that they thought to be "gunsmoke" (the distinctive smell of cordite), they discovered Carter slumped over, covered in blood, wounded in the temple, with an expended cartridge and the pistol in the locked back seat of the cruiser. Carter was still breathing then, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The police reported the shooting as death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and they have stuck with that ever since, belligerently so, according to some critics. The two officers are on paid administrative leave.
The unwillingness of the police chief, Michael Yates, to deal with the sense of alarm in black community in Jonesboro has been a cause of increasing criticism and tension.
Yates was already unpopular among Jonesboro residents for his resistance to increasing the diversity of the police force. Of 149 officers, only three are African American even though 12 percent of the city's population is black. They also criticized him for the way he handled a celebration of the election of Barack Obama in 2008 by some college students. One student was allegedly knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked by officers. Yates was previously chief of police in Americus, Georgia, but left that post under a cloud that included complaints of racism.
The FBI says it is investigating the case.
Among the critics have been Charles Blow, columnist for The New York Times, who wrote on August 3:
How do police officers search a man twice and find a small amount of marijuana but miss a handgun? And how does that man, who had been handcuffed, use that gun to shoot himself in the head?
We may have a possible answer to the second question. It can be done. But there's still that first question. There is also a third question. Even if he had managed to hide a gun from officers, why would Carter shoot himself?
This is a fascinating piece about Paul Ryan from the Daily Beast's DC bureau chief Howie Kurtz, who is also CNN's media critic.What's particularly interesting is that Howie is no left-wing sap. If anything, I think folks in the liberal blogosphere feel that Howie might even lean a bit right at times (I know he'd deny that he is, I'm simply reporting what the sometime perception is on my side...
Click here to view this media
The chairman of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney?s national steering committee on Tuesday angrily shouted for a CNN anchor to "put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead" after she tried to fact check Republican claims about Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plan to overhaul Medicare.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien pointed out to Romney surrogate John Sununu that the candidate's plan would turn Medicare into a voucher system much like the budget proposal offered by his vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan.
"It's sounds awfully like the Paul Ryan Medicare plan," O'Brien noted after reading details from Romney's website.
"But it's very different," Sununu insisted. "For example when [President Barack] Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package, the Romney plan does not. That's a big difference."
"I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again," O'Brien observed. "These numbers have been debunked, as you know, by the Congressional Budget Office. ... I can tell you what it says. [Obama's plan] cuts a reduction in the expect rate of growth, which you know, not cutting budgets to the elderly. Benefits will be improved."
"Soledad, stop this!" Sununu shouted. "All you're doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there."
"I'm telling you what Factcheck.com tells you, I'm telling you what the CBO tells you, I'm telling you what CNN's independent analysis says," the CNN host explained.
"Put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this!" the frustrated surrogate shot back.
"You know, let me tell you something," O'Brien said. "There is independent analysis that details what this is about. ... And name calling to me and somehow by you repeating a number of $716 billion, that you can make that stick when [you say] that figure is being 'stolen' from Medicare, that's not true. You can't just repeat it and make it true, sir."
After Romney on Saturday announced that he had selected Ryan as the vice presidential nominee, a campaign memo sought to distance the presidential candidate's plan from Ryan?s budget proposal, insisting that "as president he will be putting together his own plan."
But on Monday, Romney refused to say where his plan differed from Ryan's vision of turning Medicare into a voucher system.
"My plan for Medicare is very similar to his plan for Medicare," the former Massachusetts governor told reporters in Miami. "My plan, like his, really expands Medicare Advantage. It says, let's give people more opportunity to take advantage of not just the standard Medicare, but also the [private insurance] policies that are available in the market place."
Following the rise of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the vice-presidential slot on the Republican ticket, most of the discussion has focused on the content and consequences of the budgets he engineered for the House GOP. But Ryan has also been a vociferous critique of the Federal Reserve and its Chairman Ben Bernanke. Given the Fed’s considerable power to effect the health of the economy and the level of employment — and its ongoing reticence to sufficiently act on that power — it’s worth calling more attention Ryan’s views on monetary policy, which are every bit as radical as his views on government taxation and spending.
Ryan has repeatedly (and wrongly) predicted inflation. Throughout the recession Ryan reacted to monetary stimulus by repeatedly warning that inflation is just around the corner. That inflation remains at near-historic lows while unemployment has hit near-historic highs has apparently left the vice-presidential nominee undeterred. Ryan even called on the Fed to raise interest rates to combat this predicted inflation, even though increased rates would add one more drag on the already struggling economy.
Ryan wants to end the dual mandate. In 1978, Congress passed the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, which directed the Fed to concern itself equally with keeping prices stable and unemployment low. Ryan sponsored a bill to repeal Humphrey-Hawkins and direct the Fed to concern itself solely with inflation. This reinforces the point that Ryan wants to put a thumb on the scales in favor of price stability and ignoring the need to lower unemployment. But Ryan’s argument is also based on bad history: As The Atlantic’s Matthew O’Brien notes, the period since the passage of Humphrey-Hawkins has been one of both unusually low inflation and unusually low fluctuations in the level of inflation.
Ryan is a hard-money crank. In 2009, Ryan called for the U.S. dollar to be benchmarked to a commodity standard. This is essentially a gold standard, except the gold is replaced by an alternative basket of commodities. It would also carry all of the same problems. It would shackle the Fed’s ability to assist the economy in a recession or depression. It would also drive interest rates up or down depending on how prices of those benchmarked commodities behave, regardless of whether such rate changes make sense in the context of the overall economy.
Ryan’s monetary policy hails from Ayn Rand. ThinkProgress has already reported on Ryan’s professed infatuation with the radical right-wing novelist, and how her stances have influenced his budget policy — an infatuation he has since tried to disavow. Yesterday, Slate’s Dave Weigel caught a linkage between Rand’s writings and Ryan’s monetary views as well. In 2005, Ryan told the Atlas Society, “I always go back to, you know, Francisco d?Anconia?s speech, at Bill Taggart?s wedding, on money when I think about monetary policy.” That speech is from Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, and features one of her protagonists praising gold as “objective value,” and condemning paper money as the destruction of value and the tool of “looters.”
As economist Mark Thoma wrote, “I don’t understand why someone with such a clownish views is lauded as a policy wonk.” But the Republicans’ presidential candidiate, Mitt Romney, has also shown a good deal of sympathy with Ryan’s views — views which, as O’Brien dryly notes, basically boil down to worrying that “the Federal Reserve will try to bring unemployment down.”
VH1 has yanked Ev and Ocho, a spinoff from its Basketball Wives franchise, that would have followed Dolphins wide receiver Chad Johnson and Evelyn Lozada in the early stages of their marriage, after Johnson was arrested over the weekend on battery charges. It’s one thing to pretend that people who don’t actually like each other are friends, or that people who are friends are fighting, or that celebrities are in danger of fake explosions. It’s to give a guy whose wife ended up at the hospital with a cut forehead while he got dragged off to jail a chance to sell himself to audiences as an appealing newlywed.
Entertainment companies have choices about what kind of people they want to be in business and what kinds of fantasies they want to sell. Johnson is hardly a money machine like Charlie Sheen, so the decision to drop him isn’t as painful to the network as it would be for the networks of the world to collectively and permanently turn their backs on that particular member of the Estevez clan. But still, it costs money to shoot a show and then shelve it. I’m glad that for now, VH1 isn’t interested in peddling that fantasy, and is willing to take the hit on the show.
A deadly riot in a privately-run Mississippi detention center was sparked in protest of poor food and medical care, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. The riot, which killed one guard in May, was at the time chalked up to gang violence. But the group of Mexican immigrants leading the riot, called the Paisas, had no ties to gangs and reportedly ordered other inmates to disobey orders from prison staff until their list of grievances had been addressed.
The protest soon got out of control, with inmates taking hostages and inflicting more than $1.3 million worth of damage on the prison. Correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death, while 20 others were injured.
The prison, Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi, is run by Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), one of the biggest for-profit incarceration companies in the nation. CCA is notorious for cutting corners by understaffing facilities, charging inmates $5 a minute for phone calls, and using prison labor as a maintenance staff for $1 a day. The Adams County detention center, according to its inmates, was no different.
On the day of the riot, an inmate called the local news channel, explaining:
They always beat us and hit us. We just pay them back. … We’re trying to get better food, medical [care], programs, clothes, and we’re trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants.
Another inmate emailed the Jackson Free Press with the same message:
The guard that died yesterday was a sad tragedy, but the situation is simple: If you treat a human as an animal for over two years, the response will be as an animal. … Most of the correctional officers were not harmed. … Most of them that were taken hostage were shaken and afraid, but none of them was harmed.
Meanwhile, the Adams County Sheriff told reporters the riot stemmed from a gang fight. But the FBI affidavit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Jackson, confirms the inmates’ motive was their alleged mistreatment in the prison.
This was hardly the first riot in a CCA prison. Inmates at a different CCA prison in Mississippi started a fire in 2004. In Tennessee, CCA inmates were hit with chemical grenades after refusing to return to their cells.
Unlike a state-run prison, CCA and other private prisons have an incentive to cut corners in order to pad their profit margins. The private prison industry also invested millions in lobbying for policies that increase sentences and incarcerate more people. And it’s paid off; CCA, which lawsuits pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in 2000, reported $37.3 million in second quarter profits last week.
The hacking group Anonymous hacked two websites of the Ugandan government today, objecting to its anti-gay policies, including continued consideration of a “Kill The Gays” bill that would elevate the punishment for homosexuality to the death penalty. Attacking the website of the prime minister and Justice Law and Order Sector, the hackers issued the following statement about their motivations:
Today’s hack and deface of the Ugandan Prime Minister’s site was the latest in a long list of actions against the government and infrastructure of Uganda for crimes against LGBT people. [...]
We will not stand by while LGBT Ugandans are victimized, abused and murdered by a ruthless and corrupt government. #TheEliteSociety and #Anonymous will continue to target Ugandan government sites and communications until the government of Uganda treats all people including LGBT equally and with respect, dignity and immediately ends the arrest and harassment of LGBT.[...]
The government of Uganda will not stop us or LGBT people from standing up to their hatred and fighting against their abuses. To: Uganda ? Equal treatment for ALL people, or you can expect us again.
Another message appeared on the Office of the Prime Minister, including an image from Uganda’s recent celebration of Pride:
You have been warned, repeatedly to expect us.
Your violations of the rights of LGBT people have disgusted us. ALL people have the right to live in dignity free from the repression of someone else’s political and religious beliefs. You should be PROUD of your LGBT citizens, because they clearly have more balls than you will ever have.
Real Ugandan Pride is demonstrated in standing up to oppression despite fearing the abuse, torture and murder inflicted on LGBT at the hands of the corrupt government.
Standard Chartered Bank avoided a contentious Wednesday hearing that could have led to the revocation of their ability to do business in the state of New York, by reaching a settlement with the state Department of Financial Services for $340 million over[...]
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