Closing Thought–10Jun20

For two weeks the protests have taken over the news cycle and we are hearing words like tear gas, pepper spray (it is a chemical agent) and rubber bullets used as crowd control.

Rubber bullets is where this post is traveling….

Actually the term “rubber bullets” is far more lethal than the benign term would show…

As protests have taken over the U.S., police officers in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Kansas City, Chicago, and more have opened fire on crowds—bruising, maiming, and even permanently blinding peaceful demonstrators and members of the press. The shots fired have primarily been with what are colloquially called rubber bullets.

The name is a bit of a misnomer. These kinetic energy (KE) rounds are rarely made of rubber these days, and some even have metal components, just like conventional bullets. Most are actually shot from grenade launchers, though shotgun rounds are also popular, and rounds are even made for rifles and pistols. Instead of piercing the skin, the rounds are meant to strike someone with blunt force, incapacitating them like the swing of a baton but from afar.

More than a century in the making, rubber bullets can cause serious injury, and even kill, and it’s taken time for the semantics to catch up. Once called nonlethal weapons, research has demonstrated their dangers, like that up to 15% of people struck with KE rounds are left with a permanent disability. They were renamed “less-than-lethal” for a while in the early aughts, and now much of the world, including the UN, calls them by a more suitable title: “less lethal” rounds.

What about tear gas?

An Ohio county coroner’s office is investigating whether the death of a 22-year-old was the result of police firing tear gas at her during a protest in Columbus, according to preliminary autopsy records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

The records indicate Sarah Grossman’s father told the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office that she had been “exposed to tear gas and pepper spray” used by police at a May 28 protest. Family members had found Grossman unresponsive May 30. She arrived at a hospital in Miamisburg, Ohio, in cardiac arrest and died shortly after arrival, according to the preliminary records.

But that is an isolated case, right?

Of the studies that have been done, doctors note that most cases of tear gas exposure result in only temporary side effects, though some cases can result in severe complications, including death.

“The most overwhelming aspect of the pain was an intense tightness in my chest. It felt like my heart might burst or collapse into itself and it was so bad I thought I might be having a serious medical issue,” he wrote.

When tear gas and smoke is fired from canisters, there’s also a risk of serious injury if protestors are hit with the canisters.

Just yet another attempt to put a civilized face on brutality.

Work for a more inclusive society and they would not have these problems or need such barbarous tactics.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

2020 VP News

Let’s take a short break from the protest news and that of the pandemic…..bring to the reader news of the Dem nominee’s search for a running mate.

There were couple of stories in the news last week about the Veep sweepstakes in possibly both parties.

First the GOP……

While I do not support Trump I have less love for the theocrat Pence….then there was some whispering about a possible change in the 2020 GOP ticket….

If you think about it — the most important moments in your life — were you alone?” Ryan Bingham, George Clooney’s traveling termination officer, asks in Up in the Air— a film about the last recession. “Life’s better with company. Everyone needs a co-pilot.”

Whatever his ultimate preference, on this question, President Donald Trump doesn’t have a choice. Constitutionally, he must run with a lieutenant.

While the famous brandmaster has undoubtedly toyed with more egotistical arrangements —a Twitter account called “The Ticket” recently spat out “Donald Trump (R) / Donald Trump (R)” —the fact is his options are rather narrow.

VP Pence Could Be the Victim of a Trump Campaign Swap Out

I think TAC is just wishful thinking…..Trump will stay with Pence because he is a milquetoast choice that will not outshine the president.

Now few words about the Dems and Biden’s search for a VP candidate to help him to win the White House.

Biden’s short list is getting shorter by the day…..a couple of possible candidates have trouble in the vetting and one has withdrawn her name from the competition…..

Joe Biden has let it be known that he’s in no rush to choose a running mate, despite the endless veep speculation swirling around him. This week he publicly said he hoped to announce his decision by August 1. That’s less than three weeks before the opening date of the Democratic National Convention on August 17 (which will likely be virtual), indicating a fairly conventional timetable.

And so, as my colleague Gabriel Debenedetti recently explained, Biden has been willing to hold what amounts to an “open audition” for the vice-president gig, not doing much to help people guess which way he is leaning:

Klobuchar, who is most like Biden in policies, is having her problems in Minnesota…..she will be out….because Biden needs the black vote and she will not help there at all….

Biden is never one to let a chaos go unused to his advantage…..of course he is NOT alone….voters should always question their motives.

The George Floyd protests are quickly changing the calculus of Joe Biden’s VP pick. Politico reports that two black women once seen as longshots are now serious contenders: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Florida Rep. Val Demings. Both have taken on large public roles during the protests. Demings, 63, has previously been vetted and Bottoms, 50, is undergoing the process now. An analysis at the Washington Post by Aaron Blake agrees. He’s got Bottoms at No. 7 on a list of 11 (she didn’t previously make the list), while Demings moved up from No. 7 to No. 6. In Blake’s reckoning, another black woman, Sen. Kamala Harris, remains in the No. 1 position.

In both stories, the rise of Demings and Bottoms has corresponded with the fall of Sen. Amy Klobuchar. While nobody is definitively ruling her out, Klobuchar’s stock has fallen because of her record as a prosecutor in the area where a Minneapolis police officer has been charged with murder in Floyd’s death. Axios, meanwhile, interviewed Demings and asked her if she would accept the running mate position. “If he asks me, I will say yes,” she responded. Biden has said he hopes to make his pick by early August.

Speaking of the black vote……

Former Vice President Joe Biden is facing fresh calls to choose a black woman as his running mate amid rising racial tensions after this week’s videotaped death of an unarmed black man as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

Some African-American leaders and activists said a black woman on the ticket would help demonstrate to black voters, a crucial component of the Democratic base, that Biden is committed to addressing issues like criminal justice reform and police misconduct.

What makes black activists think that anything will change with a black woman on the ticket?  Little changed with a black president for 8 years….all this will do is make the optics looking inclusive.

Biden will use this situation to his advantage for that is the politically astute thing to do…..”never waste a bad situation to gain the upper hand”….but hopefully black voters will see him for what he is….another do-nothing Dem.

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Did The Police Do That?

I could not let the day go without a post on the protests and the following violence.

Well this post is not about the violence of some police towards protesters but rather the police that are sneaking into the protests and inciting them to do vandalism.

The United States is on fire. Since the police killing of George Floyd on May 26, millions have taken to the streets in protest, clashing with police. At least 11 people have died, and thousands have been arrested. 15 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have called in the National Guard to quash protests raging in over 100 cities. Violence has been widespread, particularly in the epicenter Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, with buildings engulfed in flames, stores looted and vehicles destroyed.

While protestors are undoubtedly responsible for some share of the destruction, the country’s law enforcement officials have also been caught multiple times sabotaging and destroying property as well, presumably in an attempt to escalate the situation or to defame the protests.

In Seattle, police were caught on camera smashing through the door of a local Target, seemingly far away from any conflict or commotion.

Agent Provocateurs: Police at Protests All Over the Country Caught Destroying Property

This is nothing new…..back in my younger days protests were infiltrated by FBI and the police and they would try to get the crowd fired up to commit other acts other than the protests….so there is a history there…..

It is a historical fact, as this episode illustrates, that law enforcement frequently infiltrates progressive political movements using agent provocateurs who urge others to engage in violence. It is also a historical fact that, more rarely, such provocateurs commit acts of violence themselves.

The media pays little attention to such infiltrators, for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, corporate media has never taken much enthusiasm in questioning government action in the midst of riots or major demonstrations, unless that action goes wildly over the line or targets members of the media. The subject of provocateurs is also fraught  from the perspective of protesters and movement organizers, as it can lead to paranoia that undermines solidarity and movement building. It is often conflated with the trope of “outside agitators” and used by authorities or other opponents of the protesters to delegitimize the anger on display, giving some protesters or their supporters an incentive to downplay the reality of the provocations.

Tactics by the police have gotten more deadly but some of them are still stuck in the 1960s.

But not to worry…there is NOTHING the president will do to change things….he wants protest leaders tagged as “terrorists”…..

Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray held a press conference Thursday afternoon to voice lying claims that left-wing groups bent on violence had “hijacked” the protests, in an effort to manufacture a pretext for repression.

Barr advocated the use of anti-terrorism units to apprehend the “agitators.” The branding of domestic political opposition as terrorism is aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing all opposition to police violence and the policies of the oligarchy.

The level of lying in the Barr press conference would be admired by Nazi spokesman Josef Goebbels, the head of Hitler’s “Big Lie” propaganda machine. Barr conjured up an invented world in which demonstrations involving millions of people in hundreds of cities, large, medium and small, are being manipulated by Antifa, an “organization” that has not a single identified member. He also claimed that “foreign actors” were intervening in the protests, adding the specter of a Russian, Chinese, Iranian or Al Qaeda role.

Let’s not forget that the police/FBI/others all work for the American public and yet they are being used to inflict pain and violence against them…..even to having “secret” officers used…..

June 3, protesters gathered near the White House in Washington, D.C., were confronted by mysterious personnel equipped in tactical riot gear, including shields and “non-lethal” weaponry. These paramilitary units, which appeared alongside National Guard troops, were virtually absent of any identifying badge or insignia.

In a fascistic rant on Monday, June 1, delivered only minutes after a violent attack by police against protesters exercising their democratic right to peaceful assembly, Trump made clear that his administration is preparing to trample on the Constitution and establish a presidential dictatorship. The appearance of these unmarked paramilitary units must be seen as a significant step in that direction.

When asked by protesters and reporters to identify themselves, the personnel either remained silent, or simply stated, “Department of Justice [DOJ].”

To be fair…there have been some great moments that the news did not cover as much….like in Louisville….

Learn Stuff!  Be Informed!

Be Well….Be Safe….Be Cautious…..Be Heard

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Is This The ‘American Spring’?

Once again the minorities of the US have had to take to the streets to make their case that is mostly ignored when tried to handle in a civilized method.

We all remember the ‘Arab Spring’ from a decade ago when people took to the streets to protest the injustice and corruption of their leaders.

And now the US has joined the movement.

Today, the George Floyd protests could become the spark of an “American Spring” of justice and equality. Interestingly, the Arab Spring was every bit about social justice in the MENA region as the George Floyd protests and the Black Lives Matter movement is in the U.S. As diasporic scholars who lived under the dictatorship and through an uprising that led to substantial changes during the 2011 Tunisian Revolution, we acquired a critical understanding of the complexities and layers of social movements. Thus, we posit that the similarities are truly manifold.

Towards an ‘American Spring’ of Justice and Equality?

We watched as the thugs sent wave after wave of military and police to beat and maim protesters  trying to get them to disperse…..and they fought on…….Trump in true dictator fashion wanted to send in tanks to disperse protesters.

President Donald Trump pressed his advisers and Pentagon officials about sending tanks and military equipment as part of a show of force against protests over the death of George Floyd, according to a new report.

While pushing governors in a conference call to “dominate” the protests that have lasted eight days, and threatening to “put down” violent riots by deploying the US military, Mr Trump reportedly sought specific information on the sort of armoured vehicles and weaponry his administration could send to states across the country.

A senior administration official told the Daily Beast the president was enquiring about “the kind of hardware” that could be deployed amid protests when he mentioned “tanks” and other military units, including aircraft.

Does the militarization of the police lend to the brutality that we are witnessing?

The US police force is heavily militarised, thanks to the transfer of surplus military goods to law enforcement departments across the US for decades.

The scenes playing out across the US today have renewed worries that the militarisation of police has created a climate among law enforcement that encourages excessive force.

“In city after city, we are witnessing actions that could be considered unnecessary or excessive force,” said Rachel Ward, national director of research at Amnesty International USA.

“Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable,” Ward said in a statement on Saturday.

I wrote about this militarization back in 2017…..

Looks like it is not coming at all….it is here now and getting worse.

Of course we want to blame Donald the Orange for the problems we have today but we need to look at the actions of the elected GOP in the past…..

Some Republicans in Congress expressed outrage this week over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died of asphyxiation when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his throat for more than 8 minutes, prompting days of protests and unrest across the country. But an examination of the voting records of Republicans from the last Congress finds that a huge number lawmakers voted against civil rights at almost every chance.

“I fully understand the anger that so many people feel. I felt that anger when I watched that video. I still feel that anger, and I fully support the right of people to peacefully protest and register their concerns,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said Monday, referring to footage of the white former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee onto the neck of Floyd. “Americans have the right to peacefully protest, no one has a right to violently riot.”

However, the NAACP publishes a legislative scorecard each Congress, indicating which lawmakers voted for the organization’s civil rights priorities and which lawmakers voted against them. And in the 115th Congress, Toomey received an “F” rating from the group after voting with the NAACP just 6% of the time. This included votes to confirm Jeff Sessions to be attorney general of the United States despite his history of racism, to roll back nondiscrimination rules for federal contractors, and to make it easier for automobile lenders to discriminate.

You read that right…..114 GOPers voted against civil rights legislation 90% of the time… to hear them spout crap now is just pathetic.

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

US v China

The pandemic and now the protests have sucked all the oxygen on our foreign policy…..especially with China.

Donald the Orange strutted out to mikes in the Rose Garden and spouted his diatribes against China…..

He is punishing China for their heavy handed treatment of Hong Kong protesters…..

In a news conference directed at China on Friday, President Trump issued a series of accusations against the Chinese government, accusing them of destroying American industry, of stealing important industrial secrets. He also announced the US pullout from the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing China of controlling it. This is leading to banning some foreign nationals, and restrictions on Chinese students.

The big topic though was China’s recent crackdown in Hong Kong, which Trump and other US officials say meant that Hong Kong is no longer to be considered autonomous for the sake of US law, and will lose also of its special status treatments related to autonomy. This is also going to mean the US limiting Hong Kong’s access to US technologies.

Threats of US tariffs on Hong Kong were panned by many, as the US doesn’t import much from Hong Kong in the first place. By contrast, the US exports a fair bit to the area, so retaliatory Chinese measures could hit harder.

This is mostly just a continuation of US acrimony against China, which is leading to their worst relationship in decades, and warnings of a new Cold War. Experts are predicting that China will impose some retaliatory measures against the US over this.

While some of this is likely to be reflected in more trade disputes, the US naval operations in the South China Sea continue to risk military confrontations. Trump accused China of illegally claiming parts of the Pacific Ocean. More US ships approaching China-claimed islands is almost certain to lead to China confronting them. What that leads to remains to be seen.


Trump’s remarks were prodded on by that Neocon warmonger Pompeo……

Trump’s remarks followed the passage of national security legislation covering Hong Kong by the National People’s Congress in China on Thursday that provoked fresh protests in Hong Kong. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set the stage for Trump’s announcement by formally declaring earlier this week that Hong Kong no longer had “a high degree of autonomy,” paving the way for punitive measures.

The Chinese legislation is undoubtedly anti-democratic and will be used to intimidate and arrest critics and political opponents in Hong Kong under sweeping subversion, terrorist and foreign influence provisions. The US intervention, however, has nothing to do with defending the democratic rights of the Hong Kong people, but is part of the intensifying US campaign to undermine China which Washington regards as a threat to US global dominance.

Trump hailed Hong Kong as a “free society” and “a bastion of liberty,” but the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997. Democratic rights in Hong Kong have always been limited. China took over the colonial forms of rule from the British—the unelected British colonial governor became the chief executive appointed by a pro-Beijing committee and the limited elections for the legislative council remained in place.

I find his comments a bit hypocritical after his bold statements about the protests in this country being met with “vicious dogs” and “awesome weapons”…..

But that silliness aside let get back to the mention of naval vessels in the South China Sea……

One of the most dangerous divides is on territorial claims, where the US has been challenging Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea, usually doing so with deliberate naval confrontation by sending warships close to China-claimed islands.

The maritime challenges usually resulted in harsh rhetoric in the past. As ties worsen, there is a growing risk of matters getting out of hand. On Thursday, the USS Mustin, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed near two Chinese-claimed Paracel Islands, Woody Island and Pyramid Rock.

There was no direct confrontation, but Chinese officials say their warships and planes followed the US ship, and issued warnings advising them to leave the area, which China views as part of its territorial waters.

US Naval spokesmen are claiming victory on that, saying the ship “demonstrated that these waters are beyond what China can lawfully claim.” The legal question is a complicated one, as the US rejects claims to both the islands and the sea itself, even though valid Chinese ownership of islands does not automatically confer maritime rights to the surrounding sea.

The US wants to take a hardline position on China, even without international support, and in the South China Sea that has meant backing all nations who have conflicting claims with China’s in the area, even though some of these nations openly reject the US position on the grounds that they don’t want to be dragged into a US conflict.


Is Donald the Orange serious about all this confrontation?

Or could it just be his idea of political jockeying?

Any Thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”