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Political reverberations from the police shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Missouri police continued to build this week, with a White House announcement that it supports requiring police to wear body cameras and the introduction, the very next day, of a House bill that would limit the transfer of military technology to police.

According to a 9/15/14 report in The Hill, a White House adviser responded to a petition on the White House web site that had acquired 155,000 signatures, stating White House support for requiring police to wear body mounted cameras.

The Hill quoted Roy Austin, a White House adviser on Justice and Urban Affairs, as saying “We support the use of cameras and video technology by law enforcement officers.” Austin explained the Department of Justice was continuing to research the best practices for implementation of the technology following a recent Justice Department report that concluded that police wearing body-worn cameras interacted “in a more positive manner” with civilians, and that the video captured by the cameras was also useful for training police officers.

The next day The Hill reported that bipartisan legislation sponsored by Tea Party republican Raul Labrador of Idaho and Representative Hank Johnson (D. Ga.) would curtail the Pentagons 1033 program, which arms U.S. police departments with surplus military equipment.

The proposal would bar the transfer of certain military equipment, including high caliber weapons, sound cannons, grenades, grenade launchers and some armored vehicles, and would include reporting requirements to ensure the equipment is not lost, stolen or misappropriated. In what looks to be a promising beginning 17 representatives immediately signed as cosponsors.


On July 17, 2014 NYPD cops used an illegal choke hold on Eric Gardner resulting in a homicide. On February 4, 1999 NYPD cops pumped 41 bullets into Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black male who had just returned home and was entering the apartment building where he lived, and on November 25, 2006 NYPD cops unleashed a barrage of over fifty bullets on Sean Bell, an unarmed black man who was leaving a night club after celebrating his upcoming wedding.

In each of these cases people demanded justice through peaceful protest and lawful means. Time will tell with Eric Gardner, but in other cases where NYPD cops murdered unarmed black men the cops got away with it, and little was done to address NYPD’s systemic problems of brutality and murder.

Within days of the police shooting of Michael Brown some 40 FBI agents launched an investigation, the Ferguson Police were relieved of authority to police the protesters and Democrats and Republicans in congress began efforts to curtail the militarization of police.

Rioting seems counter productive, but, if one objectively looks at the results, one is forced to acknowledge that the rioting in Ferguson did more in days, than years of peaceful activity to curtail NYPD violence have ever accomplished.

Why is it that the NYPD continues to get away with brutality and murder?
One is forced to wonder if riots are the only way to get the federal government to pay attention when police murder and brutalize whole communities. If riots had occurred in New York would 40 FBI agents be investigating that homicide of Eric Gardner?

Deaths at the hands of police are not rare incidents or aberrations, but a national issue. The project has documented over 2000 murders by police since 1990 alone. Yet police brutality and murder continues to escalate. What can be done about it?

Those in Ferguson seeking peaceful solutions turned to political organizing. They have marched peacefully, discouraged violence, and set up voter registration tables urging people to “register to vote, get on juries and choose your leaders.” Channeling energy into peaceful efforts like voter registration is something we hope everyone would prefer to violence.

Well, perhaps not everyone. According to a report on when Matt Wills, the Executive Director of the Missouri Republican National Committee learned that voter registration tables were being set up in Ferguson he replied ” I think it’s not only disgusting, but completely inappropriate.”

So what, Mr. Wills, is an appropriate response? Do nothing while unarmed black people are shot to death? Riot? Carry firearms to protect ones self from the police? Actually, a Texas group, calling itself “The Huey P. Newton Gun Club” thinks that is precisely what is needed. So, in Texas, about thirty mostly black protesters, marched with shot guns, rifles and signs demanding justice for Michael Brown. Such offers a frightening reminder of Malcom X’s prediction that racial injustice would be resolved by “the ballot or the bullet.”

Why, under these circumstances, does Matt Wills, a high level Missouri Republican National Committee member so oppose the very idea of voter registration that he calls it disgusting and inappropriate? Does he speak for the Republican Party? If not why has he not been fired? Does the Republican Party actually prefer the bullet to the ballot?

If Republican leaders oppose peaceful methods like voter registration and the ballot, what is left? Riots and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club.


With just days to go before the August recess Republican House members still haven’t come to an agreement on a bill to address the crisis created by the surge of Central American immigrant children entering the country. House Republicans remain divided on what to do, with conservatives opposing any bill that would send Obama money for immigration purposes other the deportation, while other House Republicans recommended amending the 2008 human trafficking law to speed up deportations of Central American immigrant children as part of a $1.5 billion spending package. House Republicans are scheduled to hold a meeting Friday morning to discuss how to proceed.

Because Conservative House members may oppose any bill that gives Obama funding for anything other than deportations House Speaker Boehner will need the support of House Democrats to pass a measure. But regardless of what House Republicans decide it appears House Democrats may not provide the votes needed to speed deportations, despite the fact quicker deportation is something that both Republicans and President Obama agree on.

According to a report in The Hill, a newspaper that covers congress, Democrats are largely in agreement with the due process protections in the 2008 human trafficking law that both Republicans and Obama would like to change.

According to Luis Gutierrez (D. Ill.) “Almost every Democrat I talk to says we should hold the line on laws passed to protect children from sex-trafficking and smugglers.”

According to The Hill, Gutierrez said President Obama was wrong to seek changes in the law. “I understand that people here are used to saying, ‘Oh, but you’re a Democrat, aren’t you going to follow the president? No, if the president’s wrong , the president’s wrong. I don’t think we should change the law.” Gutierrez concluded.

Republicans denounce Palin as irrelevant following anti-immigration rant

On ABC’s “This Week” several Republicans commented on Palins’ statement that the unsecured border crisis was  the last straw, and that it’s now time for impeachment.

But the Republicans interviewed all seemed dismissive of Palin and seemed determined disassociate the GOP from their former Vice Presidential candidate.

Ana Navarro, a GOP strategist pointed out that the Central American children were not sneaking across the border as Palin implied, but were instead seeking out border patrol agents and turning themselves in. A statement that exposed Palin’s claim that an “unsecured border” as the source of the current crisis was false with regard to most of the Central American children arriving in the U.S.

Navarros’ comment followed a segment on the same program by House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R. Virginia). Goodlatte, a conservative Republican, ridiculed Palin’s call for impeachment saying impeachment was not being considered because Obama had committed no criminal act that could justify impeachment.

Even Bill Kristol, whose conservative publication “The Weekly Standard,” had once run a glowing profile of Palin to bolster her reputation as a Vice Presidential candidate during the 2008 election campaign, stated that “no responsible Republican official has called for impeachment,” agreeing, in essence, that the Democrats would welcome an effort to impeach because it would be likely to enhance prospects for Democratic candidates in the 2014 congressional races.

Republican strategist Ana Navarro best summed up the mood of Republicans toward Palin saying “Nobody of responsibility, nobody in leadership, nobody of relevance has
talked about impeachment.”

With Palin now declared irrelevant by members of her own party the only question that remains is whether or not tea party types still have enough clout to force GOP to impeach. My guess is they do not.

Obama's call for nuclear power will not protect risky nuclear investments

Despite President Obama’s call for the development of nuclear power in the State of the Union address, events in Florida, Vermont and as far away Abu Dhabi make clear that the Obama administration can not protect nuclear investors. Even with federal government support, other factors, such as cost overruns, state regulation, nuclear waste storage, decommissioning cost, and the hit portfolios would take in the event of a nuclear accident, combine to make nuclear an awful investment.

Despite the green energy rhetoric the Obama seems to prefer the two most environmentally harmful sources of energy — nuclear and coal.

The Obama administration seems uninterested in the cleanest fossil fuel alternative — natural gas, and are doing only token projects with regard to solar and wind energy. But despite Obama’s  call for building more nuclear power plants those considering investing should be wary.

As recent events summarized below make clear, nuclear power continues to be plagued by problems, and remains a bad investment idea.

Advisory downgrades Florida Power and Light to “sell” after cancellation of nuclear project

The Florida Public Utility Commission rejected Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) request for a major electricity rate increase, which would have paid for the construction of two Toshiba-Westinghouse nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Miami. FPL responded by halting plans to build the two nuclear reactors.

Although state law authorized the Public Utility Commission to bill ratepayers in advance to build nuclear reactors, years before any electricity is actually delivered the Utility Commission decided to refuse FPL’s effort to burden ratepayers with the financial risks. of building new reactors, while offering little to none of the projected profits in return.

Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor facing problems

Radiation levels at least 40 times higher than that permitted for drinking water were found in a monitoring well at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Although no drinking water samples have shown contamination the evidence that radiation has escaped into ground water have endangered not only the health and environment, but efforts to obtain an extension of the plants operating license. The extension may be denied because rising radiation levels indicate radioactive water is leaking and contaminating the soil. The rising radiation levels have so spooked state residents that the state’s health department have been posting updates almost daily on the monitoring efforts.

If Vermont Yankee is denied the extension it will be the first such denial since 1989, when residents of Sacramento voted to close the Rancho Seco nuclear plant owned by a municipal utility in California. Although such decisions are usually decided by the federal government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission, state agencies have played an increasing role in recent years.

Since Entergy bought Vermont Yankee in 2002, it has shown itself to be incompetent at running nuclear facilities. In 2007 a cooling tower at Vermont Yankee literally collapsed. A vice president for Entergy lied to state officials, telling them the Vermont Yankee plant did not have underground piping that carried radioactive water, when in fact it did. And the likelihood of further yet to be disclosed problems are believed to be the motivating factor in Entergy’s efforts to obtain permission to spin off Vermont Yankee and five other nuclear plants, and thus limit Entergy’s legal liability.

Areva loses an investor and a reactor deal with Abu Dhabi

The French oil company, Total, has canceled plans to invest in Areva after the French nuclear company lost a bid to build two new reactors in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Total’s director general also questioned if EPR – Areva’s flagship new reactor – could be built less expensively without compromising safety following a joint statement by the Finnish, British and French nuclear safety bodies, stating the EPR’s control and safety systems should be changed to avoid both failing at once. Areva has been struggling financially because the EPR nuclear design has been subject to postponement and cancellations in major markets like the U.S. and China because of unsafe design.

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