Agrégateur de flux

Remind Me Why We're Rubbing Elbows with the States Sponsoring ISIS.

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 5 heures 37 min
Kinsella reminds us today to be very afraid of ISIS, that we're all in the terrorists' gunsights, and he's even got a link to the New York Times to prove it.

Pardon me if I'm somewhat underwhelmed by this imminent danger. Our governments, current and past, didn't and don't much care so why should I worry?

How can I say that? Easy, because while they're always at the ready to slap sanctions on outfits like Iran, branding them as state sponsors of terrorism, they turn a blind eye to the countries that are actually supporting Islamist terrorism - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the rest of the Gulf States, and Turkey for starters.

Now the New York Times has its tits in the wringer over the presence of ISIS in the now failed state of Libya. OMG, how did that happen? It happened in part because we allowed it.

In February, 2011, I did an analysis of Libya's deteriorating civil war against Gaddafi. I argued that the US needed to tell Egypt to invade Libya and oust the tyrant, pointing out it would be an easy week's work for the Egyptians with their divisions of modern M-1A1 Abrams tanks and squadrons of late model F-16s. The reason I advocated a quick, decisive invasion was that Sunni Islamists had quite openly announced they intended to move into Libya to establish a toe hold in North Africa. They even blamed themselves for missing the opportunity to get in when Egyptian crowds forced out Mubarak but insisted that was a mistake they wouldn't repeat.

A few weeks later Gwynne Dyer came to the same conclusion, arguing that Egypt was Libya's last chance to avoid becoming a failed state.

So, what did we do? Bugger all or close enough to it. We decided to send the now ubiquitous sixpack of CF-18s to join an allied bombing campaign against Gaddafi forces, an effort that dragged on for eight months and one day before Gaddafi was finally toppled and butchered. By the time the civil war was over, Libya was a true failed state. Islamist forces were deeply entrenched, able to challenge the Libyan opposition forces, and that's where it remains today. The Islamists were even skilful enough to have killed off the one rebel leader who might have formed a post-Gaddafi government.

Today this might not sound too surprising. None of the Sunni states that could have brought the Libyan civil war to a quick end and sealed off the place before Islamist radicals could become entrenched saw fit to intervene. Sounds a bit like Syria, doesn't it? Or Iraq or even, more recently, Afghanistan.

What it comes down to is that it's not ISIS that scares me but Western governments that still coddle the Sunni states that are the lifeline to the Islamist terrorists. They scare me because they're perpetuating this madness by continuing to prop up these ISIS-friendly generals, sheikhs, emirs and princes.

Our Liberal friend recently wrote about his first trip to Israel. It began with this:

So, flying el Al into Israel for the first time, two miles up, I could literally see where Israel started, and where it ended. Israel, from the air, is green and lush. It is an oasis. All the countries arrayed around it mostly aren’t: they are a vastness of parched and barren dirt. They are landfill disguised as countries. Looking down at it all, I said to my traveling companion: “Well, that explains a thing or two.”
I would have left a comment but I'm not welcome on his site so I'll address it here. From the air you don't know where Israel starts and where it ends. Chances are the first lush territory you identify as Israeli is actually part of the West Bank now overrun by illegal settlements.
The Palestinian territory sites atop one of the three largest aquifers in the region, one that Netanyahu has already said is so vital to the future of Israel that it can never be returned. The Israeli army generously pipes water to the settlers. Palestinians have to apply for permission to access their own water resources, permission that isn't approved.  "Landfill disguised as countries." That's no accident. It's anything but. However our Liberal colleague is welcome to take a peek at this pictorial from The Guardian showing how Palestinians get access to water.

Here are a few other links he might be well served to check out:

When the Hole Exceeds the Scum of its Parts

Dawg's Blawg - il y a 7 heures 10 min
Number of episodes of “The EZRA LEVANT SHOW!!” posted during the week of November 22-29: 5. Number of episodes of “The BEST OF THE EZRA LEVANT SHOW!!” posted during the week of November 22-29: 7.... Balbulican

U.S Federal Elections

LeDaro - il y a 7 heures 55 min
Poor Obama feels ignored as all the media attention is on elections.

Putin orders sanctions against Turkey

LeDaro - il y a 8 heures 53 min

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Tur1key of a Russian warplane.The decree published on the Kremlin's website Saturday came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced regret over the incident, saying his country was "truly sadden.

This is Dark, Very Dark.

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 10 heures 46 min
One of the few, powerful weapons Palestinians have against Israel are video clips of Israeli military abuses posted to YouTube and Facebook. You don't have to see many of them to know they're pretty gut-wrenching.

Israel has now gone after Google and YouTube asking them to censor the "inflammatory" videos.

Deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotoveley, will be working with Google and YouTube officials in a joint mechanism that will be in charge of “monitoring and preventing” any publication of materials deemed by Tel Aviv to be “inflammatory.”

Hotovely announced in a Hebrew-only press release that she met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Google’s Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Oztzistzki, at Google’s Silicon Valley Offices.

Hotovely said that she received a comprehensive review mechanism for companies to monitor the films that allegedly incite violence, claiming that the supposed ‘incitement videos’ drive young children to go out and stab: "The attacks daily in Israel are the result of youths and children incited by the education system and the social networks, this is a daily war of incitement."

She said that Google agreed to strengthen the bilateral relations with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and build a mechanism of “collaborative work” that would make both parties partners in monitoring the published materials and censoring them.

All foreign journalists who report in the Occupied Territories are required to register with the Israeli military, and any footage that they film is required to go through the Israeli Military Censor’s office before it can be released.

With the recent advances in technology, many Palestinians and other civilians have been able to post videos uncensored online.

The Israeli government has frequently voiced its discontent with this development, and have worked to find ways to continue to censor videos coming out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Here's the thing. Israel isn't out to blind the Palestinians. It's you they're worried about. They don't want anybody seeing what really goes on in the Gaza Ghetto. There's a reason for that.

I Wonder What He's Asking For The Bike?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 10 heures 59 min
Sausalito, California man, Henry Wolf, has a dandy 1993 BMW motorcycle complete with custom Corbin seat that he's probably looking to unload.

Wolf just walked out of a California court house empty handed after unsuccessfully suing BMW and Corbin, claiming that a 2-hour ride on the bike left him with priapism, "a painfully prolonged erection."

On Tuesday -- in a 14-page decision laced with medical language about Doppler ultrasounds, tumescence and aspiration of the corposa cavernosa -- a three-judge 1st District Court of Appeal panel affirmed a San Francisco Superior Court decision to dismiss the case.

The judges found that Wolf's appeal "fails to comply with the rules of appellate procedure" by failing to cite the relevant cases or statutes, and it "contains no intelligible argument." The panel ordered Wolf to pay the defendants' costs on appeal, a sum likely to be many tens of thousands of dollars.

Henry ought to look into marketing that bike. I rode my 2006 beemer from Lethbridge, Alberta to Kenora, Ontario in one day and all I got was a sore ass.

Climate Change Playbook Online

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 11 heures 12 min
Would that there were more signs of life in the upcoming COP 21 climate summit in Paris.

As it is, next week may be the most important week in the future of your children and grandchildren in the decades to come. The nations of the world will gather to decide if we're really to have any realistic chance of averting runaway global warming.

We'll hear a lot of talk about two degrees Celsius, 2 C - the bastard child of politics and science, but what really matters is how extensively and rapidly our community of nations is prepared to decarbonize. We've got to abandon fossil fuels and rather quickly. We're choosing whether our civilization shall survive and nothing less than that.

Make no mistake, all the rhetoric boils down to truly revolutionary change. There's no one who experienced the pre-fossil fuel era. We're all children of fossil energy. By extracting and burning the organic residue of hundreds of millions of years of solar energy we've been able to enjoy seemingly boundless prosperity and we've grown our population more than seven-fold. It's damned hard to give all that up. Kicking heroin might be easier.

The writing is one the wall. It's right there in front of our eyes. There's no point trying to pretend we can maintain a "business as usual" approach to our societies and our economies. The status quo is over. It's already gone. It's not coming back. Finis. The thing is, it doesn't matter whether we act decisively or not. We ditch the status quo or nature will do it for us - the hard way.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the tell tale signs.  The ice caps are melting, glaciers retreating, sea levels are rising, the tundra is drying out and burning, the permafrost is being exposed, methane is bubbling out of lake and sea beds, the hydrological cycle is genuinely broken visiting heavy floods here and sustained droughts over there, species are migrating ever further from the equator, the impacts are everywhere and we're just getting started.

Those of us of an elegant age remember a gentler environment and, on reflection, have a stronger sense of what once was and now is no more. We grew up in the relatively stable and human-friendly Holocene, the geological epoch that allowed human civilization to take hold and flourish in a very nurturing environment. We, mankind, you and me, brought the Holocene to a very abrupt and truncated end as we created our own geological epoch, aptly named the Anthropocene. It's already not very nice and it's set to get a whole lot less nice in the coming decades. Goodbye Holocene. You will be missed.

Because of the only very recent passing of our previous government, Canadians haven't had much opportunity for a truly national discussion about climate change and what we ought to do about it. We have reason to hope that the new bunch will take it a lot more seriously than the fossil fuelers dispatched less than two months ago. However it's all still very vague and intents are ambiguous.

In lieu of that national discussion you might wish to explore the climate change playbook prepared by the UN for the crowd gathering for next week's summit entitled, "Climate Action Now."  It identifies "good practice policies, initiatives and actions that could be scaled up and replicated by Parties to realize significant mitigation potential in the pre-2020 period."

"Pre-2020" refers to what we can do, should do and must do within the next four years. Four years. Not very long even in politics. Here's a big part of the problem facing us.

The fact is we have to reverse most of this greenhouse gas loading and we don't have a lot of time to make that happen. The nations that are gathering in Paris next week have already submitted their reduction proposals to the UN. They're woefully short of what is needed even to keep within the 2C mark and that's if, a big IF, the parties come through on their promises. The UN figures if those pledges are met, we're still looking at 3.7C of warming, far into runaway global warming territory.

Now, here's the thing. To have any hope of meeting that 2C target we know that upwards of 80% of already known fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground. We can't dig it up. We can't sell it. We can't burn it. It has to stay in the ground, untouched. If you're only going to use 20% you're going to go for the low-cost, low-carbon fuels. Coal is low cost but it's very high carbon. It has to go. Bitumen is high cost and relatively high carbon. It, too, has to go. These ideas will not get a warm reception among petro-states, including at least some provinces of Canada.

They can ink any deal they like in Paris but ink won't fix what ails our planet. The deal has to be approved by all the signatories' legislatures and then it has to be implemented against the will of a lot of powerful individuals and their corporate clout. These people are seasoned professionals at beating back action on climate change and they're expert at sowing doubt and confusion. Expect them to bring their A- game on this one. That could just seal the demise of one side of the other. Let's just hope it's them, not us.

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 11 heures 20 min
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Rosemary Barton reports on the Libs' announcement of increased funding to help developing countries fight climate change - which does represent a noteworthy improvement on the Cons' comparative stinginess. But as I've noted, it doesn't much help to deal with only one aspect of the issue - making it an especially serious problem that the business lobby looks to be setting the agenda for the Paris conference while citizen voices are silenced.

- Meanwhile, Nicholas Confessore writes that Illinois is serving as the prime example of the corporate takeover of U.S. politics - with a single ultra-rich candidate and his financial-sector buddies combining to buy his way into the governor's mansion to impose policies despised by the majority of the public. And as I've written before, there's a real possibility of the same happening in Saskatchewan due to our lack of appropriate checks on political donations.

- Jenny Wittner points out that workers end up bearing the brunt of the corporate push for holiday profits - and that our choices can shape whether businesses keep pushing the envelope.

- Duncan Cameron offers some musings on what Canada's left needs to do in light of this fall's federal election. And Andrew Jackson points out that there's ample room for advocacy in calling for central bank financing of stimulus measures.

- Finally, Claire McIlveen highlights the fact that the Libs' decision to turn away male refugees reflects exactly the politics of fear they were elected to end. And Jeremy Nuttall collects the appropriate responses to five of the most common anti-refugee excuses.

Well, What Did She Expect, a Tip?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 11 heures 22 min
From the "Only In America" file.

Scene: A waffle house in Biloxi, Mississippi. It's 1 a.m. A waitress is working the graveyard shift. 45-year old Johnny Mount is scarfing something, probably waffles, looking to soak up a gutload of cheap booze.

That's when Johnny decides he'd like to finish off his repast with a soothing cigarette. The waitress asks Mount to either put out the cigarette or at least smoke outside.

Johnny doesn't like his options or her tone of voice so he pulls the ever-popular, 9 mm. handgun concealed beneath his shirt and fires one round right into the woman's head, ending her final graveyard shift at the all-night diner.

The accused was arrested as he tried to leave the eatery and is now charged with first degree murder.

Johnny is probably en route to a lethal injection unless it turns out the waitress was black or something. In that case maybe the "stand your ground" defence might work. "Hell, Bubba - er, judge - she had a coffee pot. I thought she was going to pour it all over me. Had to put her down, no choice."

Stephen Harper and the Portrait of a Tyrant

Montreal Simon - il y a 14 heures 49 min

As you know Stephen Harper hasn't been seen in public since he was crushed and humiliated by the Son of Trudeau. 

And nobody knows where and in what closet he might be hiding in, until the Duffy trial is over.

But no doubt he must be wondering about his legacy, and hoping that Ezra Levant sells enough of these.

And that this portrait of him doesn't become the one that history will remember...
Read more »

A Not So Brave New World

Northern Reflections - il y a 16 heures 31 min


The world is being overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. And it's easy to lose sight of what's really happening in the Middle East. Rouba Al-Fattal writes:

Most world leaders and analysts have argued that a common Western strategy is needed to end the crisis. In the quest for that common strategy, Western policy-makers deliberated for months and came up with a beautiful road map for Syria. Russia came up with a road map of its own. The gist of both proposals is to seize fire, come together at the negotiation table, set up a committee to draft a new constitution, reform some political and economic elements, run a referendum, call for presidential and parliamentary elections and — hopefully — live happily ever after.

It’s such a nice fantasy — but it’s a laughable effort on both sides. How often can we forget our history? Did the road map for the Israeli-Palestinian peace-process lead to a two-state-solution? Did the road map for postwar Iraq lead to peace and stability? Why should this experiment be any different? How many road maps can we draw for people who don’t want to go anywhere? Let’s get real — unless this plan belongs to the people directly affected by the war, it’s not worth the paper it is printed on.
We're in a new world, Al Fattal writes, where old alliances have dissolved and new ones are being forged:

From a European perspective, Russia can provide the needed stability in Syria — which is why French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have recently been seen cozying up to each other. We shouldn’t be surprised to see the European leaders softening their stance on Russia and giving some concessions on Ukraine in exchange for a deal on Syria.

The U.S., fearing a Russian beachhead in Syria that could translate into a stronger presence in the Middle East and new alliances with Europe, had no choice but to intensify its military efforts by sending “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS in Syria — something President Barack Obama had vowed not to do.

But that’s not the only strategic shift the U.S. has attempted. Despite the outcry from traditional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. recently reached a nuclear deal with Iran. This landmark agreement turns the tables on the existing actors and gives a seat to a new player. The wisdom here is that the United States gains a new ally which should help in maintaining a balance of power against Russian dominance in the Middle East. This new U.S. strategy, which reads like a page from a beginner’s primer on international relations, only helps to widen the rift between the U.S. and Western Europe.
Stability will only be restored to the Middle East after these strategic shifts have been accomplished. Until then, many will die and many will flee. And those numbers will grow the longer the players seek military advantage.

It's a new world -- but not a brave new world.

Stephen Harper and the Torture of Omar Khadr

Montreal Simon - il y a 18 heures 23 min

In a country full of Stephen Harper's victims, Omar Khadr is without a doubt the one who suffered the most.

The one he went after like a bully in heat, or a rabid animal. The one he allowed to be tortured in a place like Guantanamo, even though he was a child soldier.

The one he demonized to please his bloodthirsty bigot base, suck up their sucker dollars, and pleasure his inner demons. While muzzling that young Canadian for almost ten years, and never letting us hear his story.

So I'm glad to see that the Liberal government may finally be preparing to end this monstrous travesty of justice. 
Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 11/28/2015 - 12:43
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Kaylie Tiessen offers some important lessons from Ontario's child poverty strategy - with the most important one being the importance of following through. And Christian Ledwell encourages Prince Edward Island's MPs to lead a push toward a basic income, while PressProgress calls out the Fraser Institute for trying to badger the new federal government into ignoring inequality and poverty altogether.

- Lisa Sachs and Lise Johnson write that the TPP is designed to entrench rules which favour wealthy investors while ruling out the public interest altogether in most government decision-making. Christopher Smillie notes that Canadian trades workers in particular look to lose out as a result of the TPP's open door to temporary foreign workers. Mark Dearn writes that the latest round of agreements involving Europe is designed to give disproportionate power to the oil sector in particular. And David Dayen points to a case where even dolphin-safe labelling was held to violate WTO rules as an example of the corporate intrusion into basic regulations.

- Meanwhile, Rick Salutin writes that ill-advised trade deals which undermine the livelihood of citizens only play into the hands of xenophobes and the politicians who encourage them. And Omer Aziz questions Justin Trudeau's decision to discriminate arbitrarily against male Syrian refugees.

- Michael Harris points out the RCMP's demand for unlimited online surveillance and makes the case for wariness in response.

- Finally, Lana Payne discusses the potentially dangerous effect of polls, with particular reference to Newfoundland and Labrador's election where policy seems to have been thoroughly wiped off the map.

call me lucky: a hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring movie

we move to canada - sam, 11/28/2015 - 11:00
Barry Crimmins might be the most famous person you've never heard of.

In "Call Me Lucky," a documentary tribute to Crimmins created by Bobcat Goldthwait, an A-list of comics talk about the influence Crimmins had on them and their community: Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Steven Wright, among others. Crimmins toured with Billy Bragg. He won a peace award, handed to him by Howard Zinn; the other recipient sharing the stage: Maya Angelou.

In his younger and wilder days, Crimmins was hugely influential in the rising stand-up comedy scene, although the word influential doesn't quite describe it. In Boston, he was comedy's midwife, and his club was its incubator.

Allan and I met Barry through a baseball discussion list in the 90s, quickly bonding over our politics and, for me, a shared identity as survivors of sexual abuse or assault. We stayed at Barry's place on the Cleveland stop of our 1999 rust-belt baseball tour, and went to a few games together in New York. We lost touch until re-connecting on Facebook. Barry is the master of the political one-liner, and his feed keeps me laughing about the things that anger me the most.

Call Me Lucky is a tribute to Crimmins, and a revelation of his personal journey, a glimpse at where his anger comes from, and how he has used his righteous anger to help others. For many people, Crimmins may seem like a paradox, raging at injustice - raging at almost anything! - but simultaneously overflowing with empathy and compassion. But Barry and I are kindred spirits, so I know there's nothing paradoxical about it. Barry is angry in a way I wish more people - especially more Americans - were.

At one point in Call Me Lucky, Barry says:
I feel like there's entire nations that feel like I do. There's entire nations. And you know what? That's why I don't give a shit about American dreams. That's who I am. That's the country I am. I'm of the country of the raped little kids. I'm of the country of the heartbroken. And the screwed over. And the desperate with no chance to be heard. That's what country I'm from. This made me weep with recognition. A similar idea had been at the heart of my personal development, a key understanding of my self and my values. I realized that I had no patriotism, and I didn't want any. I realized "my people" were not others who happened to be born on the same land mass as I happened to be born on, or who people whose mothers had been born into the same religion as my mother. My people were the people fighting for justice. In the fields, in the mines, in the malls, in the factories, in the streets, in the prisons. People working with others to advance the cause of justice, if only the tiniest bit. That is my country. I'm lucky to have found Barry Crimmins living there, too.

There's a lot of humour in this film. And there's a lot of pain, too. Don't be afraid of the pain. As Barry says, to paraphrase, if people can survive this, surely you can hear about it. You can witness.

It's a great film. Don't miss it. Call Me Lucky: website, Facebooktrailer, Netflix.


LeDaro - sam, 11/28/2015 - 09:18

It is great to see Canada playing a productive role on the World stage.
The Trudeau government’s pledge of $2.65 billion dollars to help developing countries with sustainability is important. It shows Canada takes climate change seriously. It is important for these countries to build a green economy and take advantage of the opportunities therein. Thus it is important for wealthier countries to provide assistance to this goal. It is an important step to helping the poor and vulnerable most affected by climate change.

As quoted in this Huffington Post article, As quoted in this Huffington Post article, UNICEF Canada’s president states that:" We know that children, particularly the poorest, are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, a fundamental threat to their most basic rights, including access to food, water, education and survival.”
Great to see Canada playing a productive role here.

Burning questions

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 11/28/2015 - 09:02
Does anybody actually believe for a second that a Republican-dominated Congress will be more willing to ratify a climate change treaty simply because it doesn't contain binding targets?

And if not, doesn't a deliberate failure to include binding targets mean primarily that even if countries can agree on a treaty which could be ratified in a different political environment, it will never have any meaningful effect?

Silicon Valley's Acid Trip

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 11/28/2015 - 08:33
To some of Silicon Valley's best and brightest, micro-dose LSD has become a popular, performance enhancing drug.

Young professionals in the technological hub are microdosing on lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and magic mushrooms to help them to concentrate, increase productivity and enhance creativity, according to Rolling Stone.

By routinely taking a minuscule amount – about 10 micrograms of LSD, or 0.2-0.5 grams of mushrooms, a tenth of a normal dose – users are said to benefit from the illegal drugs' "subperceptual" effects.

Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies told the magazine that the dose, usually taken in the morning before starting work, is enough "to feel a little bit of energy lift, a little bit of insight, but not so much that you are tripping."

"It's like the coffee to wake up the mind-body connection. When I notice it is working, depending on the dosage, time seems to be slowing down a bit, everything seems covered with a layer of extra significance," said Amsterdam-based Martijn Schirp, adding that the experience gave him the positives of using hallucinogens (magic mushrooms are legal to purchase in Amsterdam) without feeling overwhelmed.

Erdogan in the Limelight. He Doesn't Like It.

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 11/28/2015 - 08:23
Just a day after boasting that he personally gave the order for Turkish fighter jets to down a Russian bomber, Turkish president Recep Erdogan seems to be having the political equivalent of "buyer's remorse."

Erdogan has dropped the bellicose rhetoric a good couple of octaves and now says he regrets the shootdown. He's also put out word that he's hoping for a one on one, "kiss and make up" with Putin at the Paris climate summit.

Putin, meanwhile, isn't showing any inclination to let bygones be bygones. If anything he seems intent on ratcheting up the pressure on his Turkish counterpart. Putin aides are again raising the claim that Erdogan's son is running a conduit to get ISIS oil out of Syria and onto world markets.

Putin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, says Putin is busy grinding his axe.

Peskov said the crisis had prompted Putin, whose ministers are preparing retaliatory economic measures against Turkey, to “mobilize” in the way an army does in tense times.

“The president is mobilized, fully mobilized, mobilized to the extent that circumstances demand,” said Peskov.

“The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat.”

Peskov, according to the TASS news agency, also spoke of how Erdogan’s son had a “certain interest” in the oil industry. Putin has said oil from Syrian territory controlled by Islamic State militants is finding its way to Turkey.

Erdogan has spoken of slander and asked anyone making such accusations to back up their words with evidence.

Peskov said he “noted” that Turkey’s newly-appointed energy minister, Berat Albayrak, was Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Perhaps to demonstrate Moscow's fist in a velvet glove, Peskov reminded reporters that there are currently about 200,000 Turkish citizens on Russian soil.

Erdogan seems to be squirming. He's been told by NATO leaders that, if Turkey does decide to ring the Article 5 doorbell, it shouldn't expect NATO countries to be coming to the door.

what i'm reading: ghettoside: a true story of murder in america

we move to canada - sam, 11/28/2015 - 08:00
When we think of gun violence in the United States, chances are we think of mass shootings. These horrific events which occur with such regularity seem, to much of the world, mostly preventable. The public nature of the shootings, and the often tragically young age of the victims, capture headlines and a good portion of the 24-hour news cycle.

Yet murders occur every day in the US, and no one hears about them, except the grief-stricken loved ones and those who fear they may be next. Jill Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America is about those murders - both one specific tragedy and what Leovy calls "the plague" itself.

Part sociology and part detective story, Ghettoside is a triumph of reporting, of analysis, and of compassion. This book is disturbing and extremely compelling, and it may change forever how you view both violence and the criminal justice system's response to it.

Leovy is a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and the plague she investigates is the murder of mostly African-American men mostly by African American men. It is this "black on black" violence that the media ignores, that the public never hears about, and of which thousands of people live in fear. It's a subject that's difficult to talk about, ignored for reasons both admirable (not wanting to be racist) and abhorrent (actual racism). The racism that often underlies any discussion of this epidemic draws two conclusions: one, that black people are inherently violent and cannot be controlled, and two, that the victims are not important. Leovy demonstrates how this pattern has been repeated throughout American history.

The murder of African American men is justly called an epidemic. African Americans make up just 6% of the US population, but are nearly 40% of all homicide victims. Homicide is the number one cause of death of African-­American males ages 15 to 34. And that statistic doesn't count the victims left paralyzed, or with traumatic brain injury, the cases known in this world as "almocides".

In a time when attention is finally being focused on police violence against African Americans, Leovy makes a bold assertion: African Americans suffer from too little criminal-justice resources. And what resources are devoted to their homicides are the wrong kind, with the wrong focus.
This is a book about a very simple idea: where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death, homicide becomes endemic.

African Americans have suffered from just such a lack of effective criminal justice, and this, more than anything, is the reason for the nation's long-standing plague of black homicides. . . . The failure of the law to stand up for black people when they are hurt or killed by others has been masked by a whole universe of ruthless, relatively cheap and easy 'preventive' strategies. . . . This is not an easy argument to make in these times. Many critics today complain that the criminal justice system is heavy-handed and unfair to minorities. . . . So to assert that black Americans suffer from too little application of the law, not too much, seems at odds with common perception. But the perceived harshness of American criminal justice and its fundamental weakness are in reality two sides of a coin. Like the schoolyard bully, our criminal justice system harasses people on small pretexts but is exposed as a coward before murder. It hauls masses of black men through its machinery but fails to protect them from bodily injury and death. It is at once oppressive and inadequate.Leovy guides the reader on a journey through a culture sure to be foreign to most readers, by following the solving and prosecuting of one murder, a murder that struck the heart of the L.A. police community: a homicide detective's son.

Along the way we witness the unending and almost unbearable grief of families who have lost loved ones to the plague. Their pain is compounded by the near-total absence of media attention, the reflexive victim-blaming that labels these deaths "gang-related violence", and the useless platitudes that surround this epidemic.
People often assert that the solution to homicide is for the so-called community to "step up". It is a pernicious distortion. People like [a key witness] cannot be expected to stand up to killers. They need safety, not stronger moral conviction. They need some powerful outside force to sweep in and take their tormentors away. That's what the criminal justice system is for.In Ghettoside, the potential of this "powerful outside force" is personified by a few homicide detectives for whom the words dedicated and hard working are grossly inadequate. They are obsessive and heroic. The book's central hero is a detective named John Skaggs.
Skaggs bucked an age-old injustice. Forty years after the civil rights movement, impunity for the murder of black men remained America's great, though mostly invisible, race problem. The institutions of criminal justice, so remorseless in other ways in an era of get-tough sentencing and "preventive" policing, remained feeble when it came to answering for the lives of black murder victims. [Detective Skaggs'] whole working life was devoted to one end: making black lives expensive. Expensive, and worth answering for, with all the force and persistence the state could muster. Skaggs had treated the murder of [one young black man] like the hottest celebrity crime in town. Seeing these men at work, it becomes obvious that if their vigor and determination were replicated at all levels of the criminal justice system, the plague would wither and die. Yet so few resources are devoted to this endeavour that the detectives are forced to buy their own office equipment.

One persistent and eye-opening theme of Ghettoside is how many homicides cannot be solved because of widespread witness intimidation. Witnesses fear for their own lives, and very rightly so, but fear more for the lives of their parents and children. Retaliation killings are commonplace. Again, the lack of resources devoted to African American homicides, as the legal/judicial system utterly fails the courageous witnesses who do testify. So unsolved murders give rise to more unsolved murders, and on it goes.

Another poignant theme are the scores of young men who desperately want out of the gangs, but who - literally - cannot get out alive. Many of them never wanted to join gangs in the first place, but were forced to choose an identity for survival. This way, Leovy shows us that every murder victim is an innocent victim - every single one. As a detective, standing over the body of a murdered sex worker, says: "She ain't a whore no more. She's some daddy's baby."


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