The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

September 19, 2014
by terrance
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Wingnut Week In Review: Return To the “Appalachian Trail”

With one bizarre Facebook post Rep. Mark Sanford (R, SC) dis-engaged his “Appalachian Trail” “soulmate,” and went from comeback kid to punchline. And that’s not even the crazy part.

Dumping someone via Facebook isn’t new. Countless teenagers do it every day. It’s just not something you’d expect from a grown man. Then again, Mark Sanford doesn’t do the expected. Back in 2009, nobody expected then South Carolina governor Mark Sanford to go MIA for more than four days over Father’s Day weekend, leaving his hapless staff to tell the media that Sanford was “hiking the Appalachian Trail.” Continue Reading →

September 18, 2014
by terrance
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Beyond Ferguson: Ending Racial Profiling In America

America must stop “following tragedy with embarrassment,” and pass the End Racial Profiling Act, before the next city that’s “one dead black teenager away from burning to the ground” catches fire.

“How many more Michael Browns will we have?”, Sen. Ben Cardin (D, Maryland) asked, at the “Ferguson and Beyond – Profiling in America” briefing on Tuesday morning. “How many more Trayvon Martins? We all know racial profiling is un-American and wrong. We also know that it is a waste of time and resources. We know it turns communities against law enforcement. But we also know it can be deadly, and therefore has to end,” Cardin said. (Full video of the briefing is available on YouTube.) Continue Reading →

September 17, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 17th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 17th from 15:18 to 15:25:

September 16, 2014
by terrance
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Young, Black, And Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The New York Times informed us that Michael Brown was “no angel.” When to be young and black is to be guilty until proven innocent, black children must be “angelic” just to be worthy of living.

The Times initially defended its “no angel” assessment of Michael Brown’s young life, which ran on the day of Brown’s funeral. National Editor Allison Mitchell said the description connected to the lead paragraph about a moment when Brown thought he saw an angel, and that the article would have been written the same way if it had been about a young white man in the same situation.

The Times eventually apologized, but the article is typical of a media pattern of treating white suspects and killers better than black victims. The pattern was so evident in the media narratives around Brown’s death, that black Twitter users responded by posting side-by-side pictures of themselves under the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, to underscore the power of the images media uses to portray black victims.

The ritual now follows every police killing — or extra-legal killing — of an unarmed black male. It starts with the formation of a narrative against the victim, as when rumors that Trayvon Martin stole the candy and iced tea found near his body spread across social media. Even video footage of Martin making his final purchase couldn’t quell rumors of his criminality. Martin’s suspension from school, marijuana use, and social media profiles became fodder to “prove” that he must have deserved to die as he did.

In Michael Brown’s case, the ritual began when Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson named Darren Wilson as the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, while simultaneously releasing video of Brown’s alleged “strong-arm robbery” at a local store moments before his death.

The construction of the narrative against Michael Brown was laid bare when the store’s owners disputed Jackson’s claims. Their attorney stated that neither the owners nor any store employee reported a robbery. (A customer inside the store called 911.) The attorney also said that any alleged theft had nothing to do with Wilson shooting and killing Michael Brown. After a barrage of criticism, Chief Jackson admitted that the alleged robbery was “not related to the initial contact” between Brown and Wilson.

Jackson said he released the video because “the press asked for it” and couldn’t withhold it indefinitely. Police came looking for the store’s surveillance video almost a week after Brown’s death, and withheld at least part of it.

Much later, the unedited surveillance video surfaced, which showed Brown appearing to pay for some items. At the register, Brown seems to realize that he doesn’t have enough money, and appears to put some items back. This prompts the cashier to step from behind the counter, apparently with Brown’s cash in hand, leading to the shoving confrontation in the video clip and still photos that Chief Jackson did release.

More recent revelations cast doubt on a narrative designed to frame Brown as a violent “thug.”

The ritual begins robbing black children of their innocence in early childhood. Research shows that people — including police officers — see black children as less innocent and less young than white children. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed that black boys as young as 10 are more likely than white boys to be mistaken as older, perceived as guilty, and face police violence if accused of a crime.

The school-to-prison pipeline begins in preschool, where black students are disciplined more harshly than their white classmates.

  • Though they make up 18 percent of students, black children account for 35 percent of one-time suspensions, 46 percent of multiple suspensions, and 39 percent of expulsions.
  • One in five black boys, and more than one in ten black girls have received out-of-school suspension.
  • Overall, black students are 3.5 times more likely to be expelled than white students.
  • In districts with “zero tolerance” policies, black and Hispanic students make up 45 percent of students, but 56 percent of expulsions.

Research identifies discrimination as the source of disparity in punishments, and shows that “[e]ven when they commit the exact same offense as white students, black students suffer more severe consequences.”

Michael Brown’s 98-percent-black high school seems to reflect these dismal statistics, with a suspension rate nearly 4 times the national rate of 11 percent. In 2011, nearly 45 percent of students were suspended. Against these odds, Michael Brown managed to graduate, and would have started college in a few days.

Instead, Michael Brown became just one more young black man killed by police, and posthumously judged guilty until proven “angelic.”

September 15, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 15th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 15th from 13:34 to 13:37:

September 11, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 11th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 11th from 10:33 to 12:13:

September 11, 2014
by terrance
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Repost: Gay Americans & 9/11: On A Queer Day

This is, of course, a day of remembrances. There are a handful of historic events so far-reaching that they touch just about every living person old enough to have even the vaguest understanding of their significance, and qualify as a universally shared experience — like the attacks on September 11, 2001.

If you were alive then, you probably know where you were and what you were doing when the you heard the first news reports. You probably remember the moment it dawned on you what was really happening. You remember the moment when you realized that nothing would ever be the same; when you realized that things would never be quite the same as they were when you woke up that morning. For all of us, in the span of a few minutes, life crossed over some invisible boundary that would divide our lives and our shared history into “before” and “after.” That was the moment everything became “post-9/11.”

Continue Reading →

September 10, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 10th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 10th from 15:28 to 16:52:

September 10, 2014
by terrance
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“Put A Ring On It” Is Not An Anti-Poverty Program.

Conservatives say marriage is the “ultimate anti-poverty program,” and claim that most of our economic woes would vanish if more people got hitched. A new study suggests marriage barely makes a dent in poverty.

Golden bond
Photo via Abhishek Jacob
@ Flickr.

Rubio and Ryan are two sides of the same counterfeit coin on poverty. One is “a classic exercise of confusing correlation with causation,” that generalizes a relationship between marriage and poverty from a single statistic. The other uses that generalization to moralize about “culture” and “character,” and blame the poor for their condition.

A new analysis, by Kimberly Howard and Richard V. Reeves at the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, suggests that conservatives are wrong about how much marriage actually impacts poverty. Howard and Reeves peer far deeper into the “marriage gap” than Rubio or Ryan, and come up with much more thoughtful answers.

Starting with data showing that children raised by married parents tend to do better all around, Howard and Reeves ask further questions where conservatives rely on magical thinking.

But it is important to try and understand why the children of married parents do better. Is it simply because they have, on average, higher family incomes? (Two earners are better than one, and one household is cheaper to run than two.) Or are two committed spouses better able to provide consistent parenting? Is it marriage itself that matters, or is marriage the visible expression of other factors, that are the true cause of different outcomes? And if so, which ones?

The reasons why children of married parents are more successful are complicated, but it Howard and Reeves find those benefits come from two principal sources.

The Income Effect

Howard and Reeves note that people with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to get married and stay married — and tend to earn more — than those with less education.

How important is income? Assuming that both parents work, marriage means more household income. Thus, conservatives conclude, marriage makes poverty less likely.

Children who grow up with married parents rank about 14 percent higher on income distribution as adults than those who don’t. Howard and Reeves controlled for family income throughout childhood and discovered that taking income out of the equation shrinks that “marriage gap” from 14 to 9 percent. Factoring in “parenting behavior, maternal education, race, and maternal age,” shrinks the gap even further — to just 4.5 percent.

The “marriage effect” is more of an income effect, Howard and Reeves write, “reflecting the benefits of having more money for children’s development, such as better nutrition, better schools, and safer neighborhoods.”

The Parent Effect

The parent effect is harder to measure. Howard and Reeves note that the same traits and characteristics that support marriage are likely to support the “emotional support and cognitive stimulation” children receive from their parents. Thus, people who commit to each other in marriage are more likely to be committed to raising their children. When parenting behavior is factored in, the “marriage gap” shrinks from 14 percent to 7.5 percent.

The parent effect is also probably an extension of the income effect. Not only do educated parents earn more, but they’re likely to have more time to be engaged with their children. They’re more likely than less educated, lower income parents to have jobs with regular hours and weekends off.

Promote Parenting, Not Marriage

Marriage licenses and wedding bands are not a magic “cure” for poverty. As I wrote earlier, conservatives like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio get it backwards on families and poverty. It’s poverty that causes the “breakdown” of many families, not the other way around.

There’s a reason why educated people with higher incomes are more likely to get married and stay married. A 2012 Brookings Institute report revealed a strong correlation between income and marriage. Labor market changes — unemployment, wage stagnation, etc. — have led to a steep decline in marriage rates for low-income Americans. To borrow from 80s R&B singer Gwen Guthrie and reigning pop goddess Beyonce, “you’ve got to have a j-o-b” before you can “put a ring on it.”

Howard and Reeves recommend a public policy shift towards promoting parenting. They stop short of offering specific proposals beyond “policies to increase the incomes of unmarried parents, especially single parents, and to help parents to improve their parenting skills.”

Those are good places to start, and there are a number of policy proposals that can help us get there.

  • Livable Wages. More than seven million American children have parents who earn minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage would further narrow the income gap.
  • Equal Pay. In four out of ten households, the primary breadwinner is a woman. Paycheck fairness would further narrow the income gap.
  • Subsidized Childcare. Assisting parents with childcare costs would make it easier for parents to work, and fewer low-income parents would go to jail for being too poor to afford childcare.
  • Paid Sick Leave. About forty million workers lack paid sick leave. Guaranteeing paid sick leave would increase both family engagement and productivity — because sick workers who stay at home don’t infect their co-workers.
  • Paid Family Leave. No American workers are guaranteed paid maternal or paternal leave. Guaranteeing parents paid leave to care for and bond with their new additions promotes engaged parenting.

Marriage itself doesn’t do much to alleviate poverty, Creating a family-friendly economy can do that, plus a whole lot more.

September 8, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 3rd through September 8th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 3rd through September 8th:

September 5, 2014
by terrance
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Beyond Ferguson: Sanders To Propose Youth Jobs Bill

At Michael Brown’s funeral, Rev. Al Sharpton lamented that America has “money to give military equipment to police forces,” but not to train and employ young people. Sen. Bernie Sanders is making good on a promise to remedy that.

While eulogizing Brown, Sharpton issued a warning: “America is going to have to come to terms when there’s something wrong, that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, when we don’t have money for training, and money for public education and … our children.”

Sharpton was referring to police use of paramilitary force in response to protests and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following Brown’s death. The Ferguson police department is one of many to obtain paramilitary equipment via a Pentagon program that has dispensed “excess” military gear worth $4.3 billion to law enforcement agencies since 1992 — $450 million in 2013 alone.

Meanwhile, unemployment among black men ages 16 to 19 is over 33 percent, compared to 18.9 percent among white youth. As I wrote in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death and the ensuing unrest in Ferguson.

Young blacks and Latinos will play an important role in our economic future. Yet most contend with segregated, poorly funded schools, while America spends $4.3 billion on “surplus” paramilitary gear, and then gives it away. If we had invested even a fraction of that $4.3 billion in education, job training, etc., how great a difference might it have made by now?

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) was among the first to recognize the economic story behind events in Ferguson. In a letter to the New York times, Sanders wrote of the employment gap between black and white youth, and proposed a shift in America’s priorities.

If there is anything that we can learn from the Ferguson tragedy, it should be a recognition that we need to address the extraordinary crises facing black youths. That means, among other things, a major jobs program, job training and vastly improved educational opportunities.

When the Senate returns, Sanders will introduce a bill to address the national crisis of black youth unemployment. The Employ Young Americans Now Act will:

  • provide $5.5 billion in immediate funding to states and localities to employ 1 million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24, and provide job training to hundreds of thousands of young Americans.
  • provide summer and year round employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth, with direct links to academic and occupational learning.
  • provide important services such as transportation or child care, necessary to enable young Americans to participate in job opportunities
  • award $1.5 billion in competitive grants to local areas to provide work-based training to low and moderate income youth and disadvantaged young adults

In a letter to his Senate colleagues, Sanders made a direct connection between the unrest in Ferguson and the lack of investment in job training and employment for black youth.

“”If we are going to address the issue of crime in low-income areas and in African-American communities, it might be a good idea that instead of putting military style equipment into police departments in those areas, we start investing in jobs for the young people there who desperately need them.”

If American can spend $4.3 billion on unneeded military weapons and gear that ends up getting handed out to police departments, shouldn’t we should invest just as much “in jobs for the young people … who desperately need them”?

September 4, 2014
by terrance
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What’s In A Name? Joe Can Get A Job, But José Can’t.

That old nursery rhyme we learned as children isn’t quite true anymore. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but your name can hurt your chances of getting a job.

If you want to know why African-Americans and Latinos have higher unemployment rates than whites, just ask Joe Zamora and Yolanda Spivey.

The black unemployment rate is consistently twice that of whites, and the Latino unemployment rate is about half again as high as whites. Unemployed African-Americans are likely to go without work longer, There’s no consensus as to why, but discrimination has a lot to do with it.

Meet Joe. He used to be José. No matter how many resumes José sent out, he never got a job interview. When José became Joe, potential employers started calling.

Joe’s story is shocking, but it’s happened before.

Meet Yolanda Spivey. Yolanda had 10 years of experience in the insurance industry. She applied for over 300 jobs, but never got an interview. Yolanda thought returning to college and finishing her degree would help. It didn’t.
Yolanda’s phone didn’t start ringing until she pretended to be a white woman when applying for jobs.

The story has been repeated in various forms during the recession. Applicants with “black sounding” or “foreign sounding” names are less likely to get interviews, let alone job offers.

What’s a “black sounding” name? Why does it matter?

Some job-seekers have turned to “whitening” their resumes — dropping “black sounding” names, or using initials instead, and even omitting degrees from historically black universities — in hopes of getting an interview. Spivey simply took the practice one step further.

What’s going on here? James Weldon Johnson summed it up in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.

So far as racial differences go, the United States puts a greater premium on color, or, better, lack of color, than upon anything else in the world. To paraphrase, “Have a white skin, and all things else may be added unto you.” I have seen advertisements in newspapers for waiters, bell-boys, or elevator men, which read: “Light-colored man wanted.” It is this tremendous pressure which the sentiment of the country exerts that is operating on the race. There is involved not only the question of higher opportunity, but often the question of earning a livelihood; and so I say it is not strange, but a natural tendency. Nor is it any more a sacrifice of self-respect that a black man should give to his children every advantage he can which complexion of the skin carries than that the new or vulgar rich should purchase for their children the advantages which ancestry, aristocracy, and social position carry. I once heard a colored man sum it up in these words: “It’s no disgrace to be black, but it’s often very inconvenient.

It’s called “becoming white.” In How The Irish Became White, Noel Ignatiev wrote that Irish immigrants were not considered “white on arrival.” They were considered “Negroes turned inside out,” until they exchanged their “greenness” — their cultural heritage, and experience of oppression and discrimination back home — for American whiteness.

Every group of non-Western European immigrants that was the wrong shade of white when they got here — Irish, Italian, Polish, Slavs, Jews of every European extraction, etc. — when through the process of “working towards whiteness,”, as David R. Roediger titled his book on the subject. Within a few generations they were considered “white,” while those categorized as racially different — Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, and Native Americans — were denied equal status.

Will “becoming white,” on paper at least, help Joe and Yolanda get jobs? Joe may have a better chance. A number of Hispanics identified as white in the last census; 1.2 million changed their status from “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” to “white” between 2000 and 2010. They can, because “Hispanic” encompasses a range of ethnic backgrounds from dark-skinned Puerto Ricans to lighter-skinned Latinos of mostly European descent. Yolanda Spivey, on the other hand, can only pass as white until she shows up for a job interview.

September 3, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for September 3rd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for September 3rd from 16:25 to 21:49:

  • Confessions of a recovering Libertarian: How I escaped a world of Ron Paul hero worship – In the right hands, libertarianism could be a middle-of-the-road philosophy. Instead, here's what turned me away
  • Temper Tantrums in the Air May Be Good For All Of Us – If this continues, perhaps airlines will start disabling the recline mechanisms in their seats once and for all. Just not worth the trouble. And once they've done that, some bright spark will figure out that they can reduce legroom even more. And then we'll all be worse off than before. No one will be able to recline and everybody will have their knees jammed into the seat in front of them. Something to look forward to.
  • Images of Darren Wilson Surface Online – Media have reported that images of Wilson are hard, if not impossible, to come by. The Washington Post and the St. Louis Post Dispatch have speculated that Wilson deleted any social media accounts that he may have had. If that’s the case, the Ferguson police department’s decision to wait nearly an entire week before releasing Wilson’s name may have helped him remove his online presence. It’s unclear what internal protocols may have been in place, but Ferguson’s police department hasn’t been forthcoming with details about Wilson or the shooting itself.
  • The newest triumph of anti-vaxxers: Measles is at a 20 year high – How many ways do we have to say it? Get your kid vaccinated.
  • It’s time to destroy the trolls: Orange-fanged morons are choking the Internet – A brutally violent, hateful and sexist comment culture just keeps getting more out of hand. Time to say enough
  • What Grover Norquist Got Wrong About Burning Man – Grover, if you agree, I promise to meet you outside the convention hall at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland at dusk on the last day of the event whereupon we will play some sick beats, get naked as possible (thongs?) and dance until sunrise. I’ll talk to Robot Heart about DJing. You talk to the Republican National Committee about making sure everyone packs out all their moop and travels only by foot, bicycle or mermaid/butterfly/church/etc. car.

September 2, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for August 27th through September 2nd

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for August 27th through September 2nd:

  • 6 Habits of Highly Empathic People – Are you a HEP (highly empathic person)? Well, even if you're not, it's possible to cultivate these highly pro-social traits.
  • The terrifying lesson of Ferguson: America really is a war zone – Our toxic mix of militarized police, gun culture and anti-governmentalism is a serious problem.
  • Michael Sam and the NFL’s Virulent Homophobia – The NFL is a league that tolerates homophobia, the lofty words of its officials notwithstanding. San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver saw no suspension for saying gays shouldn't even think about coming out — sent to sensitive training, the feeble penalty we've seen in similar instances with players. Special team coordinator Mike Priefer of the Vikings said all gays should be put on an island and "nuked," and got a three-game suspension — two if he goes to sensitivity training. Just imagine if he'd said that about Jews or any other group. Would he still be on that team?
  • Taking Note: Facts & Figures: Guns for Tots – In 30 states, it’s legal for a child to possess a rifle or shotgun.
  • Black LGBT Activist Arrested For Distributing Voting Rights Information – Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, arrested a black LGBT activist and former state Senate candidate Monday, saying that he violated a city ordinance by distributing literature about voting rights and candidates on parked cars.
  • Three Myths About Police Body Cams – In the wake of the tragic police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, there has been much speculation and debate about what actually transpired. Lots of news commentators seem to believe that the Brown case would be resolved sooner—and there would be less civil unrest—had the officer who shot him been equipped with a body-worn camera. In fact, the Ferguson Police Department has now begun to implement this technology.
  • “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” author: “Everyone is at risk, from powerful celebrities to ordinary people” – Author and law professor Danielle Citron on the hacked nude photos and the thin line between trolls and criminals
  • “I Question America”: Fannie Lou Hamer and the Battle for Full Citizenship – “I question America ” — the famous words spoken by civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer 50 years ago this week at the tumultuous Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City — is a fitting reflection of the soul-searching that the country is once again going through in the wake of the turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri.

August 29, 2014
by terrance
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Beyond Ferguson: Tell The President To Take Action

Michael Brown has been laid to rest. The National Guard has begun “systematically withdrawing,” and calm has returned to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. With no more dramatic scenes, and no major news to cover unless or until investigations lead to litigation, media will pack up and leave until Ferguson offers a new story to cover. Continue Reading →

August 26, 2014
by terrance
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Digest for August 20th through August 26th

Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for August 20th through August 26th:

  • Rage in Ferguson Offers Important Lesson – The rage in Ferguson goes beyond the death of Michael Brown. It's about what African Americans in Ferguson and elsewhere experience every day.
  • Michael Brown’s Unremarkable Humanity – The Atlantic – A large number of American teenagers live exactly like Michael Brown. Very few of them are shot in the head and left to bake on the pavement.
  • Fox News objects to calling Michael Brown an ‘unarmed teen’ – So this is where we are. We've got Steve Doocy and company arguing that calling the unarmed teen an "unarmed teen" is misleading, because unarmed American black teenagers are their own dangerous weapons. You shouldn't call him "unarmed" because the unarmed black teen walking down the street is armed with himself.
  • Gun assault injuries alone cost taxpayers almost half a billion dollars a year – It turns out that gun violence isn't just a public safety issue—it's also extremely expensive for taxpayers.

    The total national hospital costs associated with firearm assault injuries ballooned to almost $700 million in 2010, according to a new analysis by The Urban Institute. And the bulk of those costs—almost three-quarters of them, to be more precise—aren't being paid for by the perpetrators, victims, or insurance companies, but rather by the American public.

  • Poll: White people a lot more likely than black people to think police treat racial groups equally – Go figure: White and black Americans have very different levels of confidence that their local police forces treat racial groups equally, use the right amount of force for each situation, and hold officers accountable for misconduct.
  • Opinion: It doesn’t happen to whites – The data in Ferguson are an example of the larger picture in the St. Louis County area. Police stop, search and arrest black people at a disproportionate rate, even though they are less likely to possess contraband than white people.
  • “Shoot, Shoot!” – There is a hyper-aggressive segment of reactionary authoritarians driven by race resentment in America, and it's a bigger group than most people realize or want to admit.
  • Holder Has a Compelling Case in the Brown Killing – Attorney General Eric Holder has a compelling federal case in the Michael Brown killing if he decides to bring civil rights charges against Ferguson, Missouri cop Darren Wilson.