Aug
21

The Race You Can’t See

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“The race we don’t see is our own,” writes Anat Shenker-Osorio as she reflects on the situation in Ferguson, MO and the reflexive trope, “I don’t see race.”

In a recent series of focus groups on perceptions of race and gender, we showed different groups an all white image and asked them to discuss it. None of the white folks remarked upon the lack of people of color but for the African American, Latino and API groups it was the first thing they said.

Consider, as another example, how we label people of color “minorities” regardless of the proportion they make up in a group. “Majority-minority country”, far from being oxymoronic, is a very clear indicator of just how whites think of ourselves when we’re alone. No matter how many of us there are, we’re the majority.

As the demographics of this country shift away from a white, European default, some unsettling of contents will occur among those who have always assumed the United States is by heritage and by rights a white-run country — the way they insist this is a Christian one.

Hang on tight. This could be a rough ride.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
– Frederick Douglass


Categories : News, Race
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on what Ferguson, MO is really about. Not race, but class.

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.

The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. Fifty million voters is a powerful block if they ever organized in an effort to pursue their common economic goals. So, it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor fractured by distracting them with emotional issues like immigration, abortion and gun control so they never stop to wonder how they got so screwed over for so long.

Still. I’ve written about this in various ways lately. Everybody’s got their own agenda, their own political itch to scratch: race, sex, religion, money, freedom, country, class. But in the end, they’re all surrogates for one thing: Power. Who has it. Who doesn’t. The Haves. The Have Nots.

Despite all the camouflaging patriotic rhetoric about freedom and opportunity, for many power is a zero-sum game. More for you means less for them. And those in control won’t stand for that. Deep Throat said follow the money. But if you want to keep from getting screwed, don’t be distracted by the chaff thrown into the air to keep neighbors the elite consider lessers from becoming their equals. Follow the power.


Categories : Action, National, News, Poverty, Race
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Meanwhile, in Chicago:

32 Shot in Spate of Weekend Chicago Violence

This is nuts:

At least 19 people were wounded in shootings Saturday and Sunday.

  • Authorities said a juvenile boy was shot in the chest just before 5 p.m. Sunday in the 700 block of East 50th Place. The boy was taken in serious condition to Stroger Hospital. Details surrounding the shooting were not immediately available.
  • Just before 4:30 p.m., a 21-year-old man was shot in a park in the 10400 block of South Union, police said. The man was in a park when someone walked up and fired at him, shooting him in the abdomen, according to authorities. The man was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition.
  • Around 10:40 a.m., a 24-year-old man walked into Metro South Hospital with a gunshot wound to the foot. The man was listed in good condition. Police said the man was shot in the 12200 block of South Emerald Avenue but did not have any details on how he was shot.
  • Around 4:35 a.m., police said a 23-year-old man was shot in the foot during a possible drive-by in the 2900 block of North Kimball Avenue. The man was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in good condition but was not cooperating with police.
  • Four people were shot around 2 a.m. in the South Chicago neighborhood. Police said the group was standing on the sidewalk in the 7900 block of South Merrill Avenue when three men approached on foot and fired shots at them. A 15-year-old boy with a graze wound to the leg, a 20-year-old man who was shot in the side and a 27-year-old man who was shot in the hand took themselves to South Shore Hospital for treatment. Both the teen and the 20-year-old man were listed in stable condition and the 27-year-old man refused treatment after arriving at the hospital. A 30-year-old man was also shot in the arm and toe and was transported by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
  • A 24-year-old man was shot multiple times just before 2 a.m. in the 8700 block of South Union Avenue. The man suffered multiple wounds to both legs and his buttocks and was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Just before 1 a.m., police said a 20-year-old man was shot in the leg in the 6300 block of South Albany Avenue. The man told police he was walking when he “heard shots and felt pain.” He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Around 11:10 p.m. Saturday, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the leg in a possible drive-by shooting in the Washington Park neighborhood. The teen was walking near 51st Street and Wabash Avenue when shots were fired from an occupant in a passing light-colored vehicle, police said. The vehicle fled southbound and the teen was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in stable condition.
  • A few minutes after 11 p.m. two women were shot in the 2400 block of West Adams Street. The women were at an outdoor party when they “heard shots and felt pain.” A 41-year-old woman was shot in the lower back and a 45-year-old woman was shot in the leg. Both women took themselves to Stroger Hospital in stable condition.
  • About 15 minutes earlier, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the 1300 block of South Avers Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood. The teen boy and his brother were involved in an argument with three other people when one of them pulled out a gun and opened fire. The boy was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with a wound to the arm. He was listed in stable condition.
  • Around 9 p.m. Saturday an 18-year-old man was shot in the 0-100 block of East 37th street. The teen was shot in the buttocks during a possible drive-by and was transported in stable condition to Stroger Hospital.
  • Just after 5 p.m. Saturday, a 17-year-old boy was shot in the side while standing outside in the 500 block of North Hamlin Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital for treatment.
  • Just before 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a 33-year-old man was shot in the 9800 block of Avenue L. The man was outside when a dark-colored vehicle drove past and someone inside the vehicle fired shots. The man was shot in the chest and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
  • About 15 minutes earlier, a 15-year-old boy was shot in a possible drive-by shooting the 8500 block of South Exchange Avenue. The teen was taken to Trinity Hospital in good condition with gunshot wounds to the arm and back.

At least eight others were shot overnight Friday into Saturday.

 


Categories : National, News, Race
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(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

A report from the Guttmacher Institute shows how cutbacks to reproductive health services have particularly hurt poorer women. Even as the need has increased over the last decade-plus, the number of women actually receiving publicly funded assistance has fallen by 9 percent.

While public support for contraceptive services for poorer women dates back to 1970, that portion of the safety net has been failing, particularly in states that refuse to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and with increasing attacks on women’s health services, writes Tara Culp-Ressler.

The issue has recently been getting worse. In the period between 2010 and 2012 alone — when attacks on publicly-funded clinics intensified — the number of poor adult women in need of contraceptive services increased by 12 percent. In Texas, where lawmakers’ crusade against abortion has undermined the entire family planning landscape over the past two years, this health care crisis is coming into sharp focus. Advocates are holding up the state as a negative example of what happens without Title X.

Michael Hiltzik points out the folly in attacking Title X reproductive health services.

In more recent years, however, congressional conservatives have had their knives out for Title X. The program was openly made a target of the right wing’s attack on Planned Parenthood, for example. The religion-based attack on ACA-mandated contraceptive services–the Hobby Lobby effect–is more of the same.

Let’s be blunt here: There is no more witless public-health position than one that targets women’s reproductive health. Preventing unwanted pregnancies pays off in multiples by reducing the burden on healthcare institutions and improving women’s work and career prospects and the health of their families.

Yet ultimately these policies are neither about economics nor religion. Which makes it even more annoying when religious business people argue that it is their rights being infringed by being required to pay for employee health care plans that include coverage for contraception.

Employment is a form of contract in which employers agree to compensate employees for their labor with a package of cash and benefits. Once those services have been rendered, the employer has incurred an enforceable debt. The money passing through the employer’s account to purchase health insurance he had contracted to pay as compensation is no longer his, but the employee’s to spend as she/he chooses. But framing it that way treats employees as equal economic partners in the employer/employee relationship. And in the new neo-feudalism, “job creators” can’t have that.

In the end, the attacks on women’s reproductive health services — as well as on labor — are not just about religion or economics, but about power. About reaffirming who’s in charge and who isn’t. As I observed at my home blog,

In every economic argument these days, notice the unstated assumption, how among both top Republicans and Democrats that the concerns of the employer, the entrepreneur — his needs, his convenience, his profitability, his confidence, his incentives — are always front and center, the primary topic of debate and of legislation. And the needs and concerns of workers without whom nothing gets done are a secondary, even tertiary concern. Because all Americans are equal, but some are more equal than others. Once you tune your ear to listen for it, you hear it everywhere.

Welcome to Orwell’s Farm.


Categories : Labor, Women's Issues
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Aug
17

Sunday Morning Music

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(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Dave Neiwert linked the other day to this Doug Muder piece that traces the origins of some of our current rhetoric. He begins, “Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think.” Muder contends that while the North won the Civil War, the planter aristocrats won Reconstruction, effectively nullifying the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, thereby preserving the social order and power structures God himself intended — to make and keep the planter aristocrats wealthy.

“[I]n the Confederate mind, no democratic process could legitimate such a change in the social order. It simply could not be allowed to stand, and it did not stand,” writes Muder. So, perhaps, it is with obstructionism in Congress today.

When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

Read More→


Categories : History, National, Race
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Aug
16

Quiet car trips home

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The following is a crosspost from nevernesters.com

On the Sunday Arielle and I got back from Texas we stayed over at her sister and brother-in-law’s house in Charlotte, grilled out, had beers and played with their pair of boys, who are four and two. They’ve got a great guest set-up, do my Charlotte in-laws, with a big private room downstairs. When we sleep over, we invariably awaken to the commotion upstairs: a Battle of Britain-level bombardment enacted by stampeding toddler feet.

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Categories : Uncategorized
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Aug
16

Tom Cruise in a jetpack

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(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

IMDB describes Minority Report thusly:

In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad “Precrime”. They use three gifted humans (called “Pre-Cogs”) with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand.

Meanwhile, here in the past an elite research team at N.C. State University is at work on a top secret project, Future States Processing (announced a year ago yesterday):

RALEIGH — As the field of “big data” continues to grow in importance, N.C. State University has landed a big coup – a major lab for the study of data analysis, funded by the National Security Agency.

This is from the project’s Executive Summary [emphasis mine]:

Broadly, Future States Processing (FSP) is “a mechanism that conceives of the state of an entity (e.g., person, place, or thing) at some point in the future based on a current collection of information.” One challenge is to decompose the broad aim of FSP into a set of key research areas. The group has identified five areas: narrative processing (addressed in another research theme), which allows the identification of emerging topics and narratives from structured and unstructured data; state description, which includes entity, feature, and attribute identification; state modeling, which identifies relationships and dependencies and creates a formal representation; process and prediction models, which infers subsequent states given the current description and a context; and uncertainty quantification, which addresses the precision with which the predictions can be made. Predictions must be made within a context, and an unaddressed issue is context generation. As the group identifies example problems, the preference is to focus on people as entities and to predict behavior or motivation.

Some people are paid to lose sleep over those unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know. For that, there’s “big data.” And now that No Such Agency has a place to store it(Bluffdale, UT), N.C. State just needs to develop the right set of algorithms to predict people’s future behaviors.

But there’s still the unaddressed problem of “context generation.”

Describe your most paranoid fantasy and — with the right data “corpus” — No Such Agency will tell you who’s most likely working on turning that threat into a reality.

So you can arrest or kill them.

What could go worng?

What could go worng?


Categories : National, North Carolina
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(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

For a good bit of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I commuted home on Fridays on I-26 in South Carolina and North Carolina. I could kind of gauge the wars’ progress by how many low-boys carrying Humvees, up-armored Humvees, and MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored troop carriers) passed me on my commute as they headed from their Midwest factories to Joint Base Charleston to be airlifted to the war zones.

Plenty never made it home, I’m sure. But after this week’s events in Ferguson MO, I have to wonder where the rest wound up. Chase Madar explains how one MRAP ended up at Ohio State University in case a frat party got out of hand.

That MRAP came, like so much other equipment police departments are stocking up on — from tactical military vests, assault rifles, and grenade launchers to actual tanks and helicopters – as a freebie via a Pentagon-organized surplus military equipment program.  As it happens, police departments across the country are getting MRAPs like OSU’s, including the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota.  It’s received one of 18 such decommissioned military vehicles already being distributed around that state.  So has Warren County which, like a number of counties in New York state, some quite rural, is now deploying Afghan War-grade vehicles.  (Nationwide, rural counties have received a disproportionate percentage of the billions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment that has gone to the police in these years.)

So lots of that deficit-funded hardware deployed to fight ‘em over there so we wouldn’t have to fight ‘em over here has come home to fight — for lack of terrorists in places like Ferguson, MO — whatever “threats” are lying around. Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Ga has proposed legislation to restrict the militarization of neighborhood policing.

It was just typical “cop equipment hanging around the police officer station” that rural Massachusetts police couldn’t wait to use up against the notorious litterer, Arlo Guthrie. Now it’s state-of-the-art war-fighting machinery. If that’s meant to make Americans feel safer, it ain’t working.


Categories : National
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Aug
15

Friday Open Thread

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Dana Milbank: Republicans embrace their phoniness

As Shane Goldmacher reported, “The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources.”

These two dozen sites, with names such as “North County Update” and “Central Valley Update” look like political fact-checking sites; the NRCC’s spokeswoman, Andrea Bozek, called it “a new and effective way to disseminate information.”

Ya mean like The Raleigh Digest?

What else this week in fake news?


Categories : Open Thread
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