Category - USA: Domestic Issues

St. Louis police use tear gas on demonstrators protesting fatal shooting

CNN, By Ben Brumfield & Dana Ford, August 19

Police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators and made nine arrests Wednesday night in north St. Louis as protests continued over an officer-involved fatal shooting of a young African-American man earlier in the day.

Police said Mansur Ball-Bey, 18, pointed a gun at them before officers opened fire.

Relations have been tense between police and some residents in St. Louis for some time now. And protesters did not appear ready to give police the benefit of a doubt a year after Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

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Washington Post: St. Louis police fatally shoot black man — on anniversary of another deadly officer-involved shooting

On the anniversary of another officer-involved deadly shooting, St. Louis city police shot and killed an armed black man while executing a search warrant on Wednesday, Police Chief Sam Dotson said at a news conference, according to KMOV.

The shooting occurred exactly one year after the shooting death of another black man by police, also on the city’s north side: Kajieme Powell, 25, was shot to death by police officers on Aug. 19, 2014, just 10 days after Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb.

There was a police killing incident on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing, too.

AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale

AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale

The New York Times, By Julia Angwin, Charlie Savage, Jeff Larson, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras & James Risen, August 15

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents. The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.

One document reminds N.S.A. officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting, “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.”

With ProPublica: NSA Spying Relies on AT&T’s ‘Extreme Willingness to Help’
Informed Consent: New Proof: AT&T and NSA’s Long Surveillance Partnership shredded 4th Amendment, By Mark Rumold, EFF
Wired: What We Know About the NSA and AT&T’s Spying Pact

Woman accuses officer of going too far during traffic stop

KTRK, By Kevin Quinn, August 5

Houston, TX – A Spring woman says she was sexually assaulted by a deputy during a traffic stop earlier this summer.

It happened around 10:30 pm on June 21 near Ella Blvd and Barren Springs Drive, according to Charnesia Corley. The 21-year-old says she was just going to the store to get something for her sick mother when she was pulled over by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy.

“I feel like they sexually assaulted me! I really do. I feel disgusted, downgraded, humiliated,” Corley said.

Via Boing Boing

Larry Lessig Believes Democracy Is Screwed. So He’s Running For President To Save It.

Huffington Post, By Sam Stein, August 10

Washington – Larry Lessig, a well-known legal theorist and political activist, is taking the plunge into electoral politics, announcing on Tuesday that he will formally explore a run for the presidency in 2016 as a Democrat.

Lessig, a Harvard law professor, will be a distinctly unconventional White House aspirant. In an interview, he said he will run on a singular platform: the Citizen Equality Act, which includes campaign finance reform, an end to partisan gerrymandering, and a vast expansion of voting access that would make Election Day a national holiday. Should he win and lead the passage of that agenda, Lessig said he’ll promptly quit, handing the office to his vice president, whoever that may be.

“This is not a ‘Rent Is Too Damn High’ campaign,” Lessig said, referencing the infamous 2010 gubernatorial run of Jimmy McMillan in New York. “This is a campaign about how we need to intervene to make democracy possible again. Raising the salience of that issue is enormously important. I think there is more of a chance that we do more than just raise the salience. … It is a shot worth taking regardless of the criticism that will come.”

NYT: Lawrence Lessig to Explore a Run for President as a Democrat

Man Is Shot in Ferguson After Police Say He Fired at Officers

New York Times, By John Eligon & Mitch Smith, August 10

Ferguson, MO — St. Louis County police officers shot and critically injured a man who fired at them here late Sunday night, the authorities said, setting this region on another tense and uncertain course on the same day that hundreds gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white officer.

The shooting came after rival groups began shooting at each other on the west side of West Florissant Avenue, the center of the Ferguson protests, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department said. Chief Belmar said that there had been two more shootings in the area, and that the police had used smoke canisters.

The injured man, who was not publicly identified, was part of one of the rival groups, the chief said, and four plainclothes officers saw him running across a parking lot on the opposite side of the avenue.

The officers drove their unmarked sport utility vehicle, with its interior lights flashing, toward him, and he opened fire on the car, Chief Belmar said. The police returned fire from inside the car and then chased the man on foot, he said. Dozens of gunshots were fired, and all four officers shot back and hit the man, who fell to the ground, he said.

New York Times: Emergency Declared in Ferguson After Shooting , August 10


‘It was off the wall’: FL police laundered millions in drug money overseas and enjoyed lavish lifestyle

Raw Story, By Bethania Palma Markus, August 1

An investigative report by the Miami Herald published today reveals that two local Florida police agencies engaged in a slick money laundering scheme ripped from a Hollywood movie, reaping a whopping $2.4 million for themselves in drug money.

The Tri-County Task Force, which consisted of officers from two small police agencies, the Glade County Sheriff’s Office and Bal Harbour Police Department, laundered millions of dollars via SunTrust Bank through countries including Panama and China, the Herald found.

Per the Herald:

The Tri-County Task Force turned a money-laundering investigation into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, spending lavishly on travel and dining while picking up suitcases stuffed with drug cash from as far away as Los Angeles and San Juan.

The officers used fake names to set up seven accounts, starting in 2009, with the help of SunTrust official Ivan Morales, laundering millions each month.

The so-called sting operation laundered a total of $71.5 million — but did not result in any arrests. The illegal cash was moved overseas despite U.S. policy that forbids it.

Here It Comes: Puerto Rico Is Headed for a Debt Default

Slate MoneyBox, By Jordan Weissmann, July 31

So it looks like Puerto Rico has some fun weekend plans. After months of staggering under its $72 billion debt load, the island is expected to miss a bond payment due Saturday, which—despite what some government officials have claimed—means the island is probably heading for default. (We won’t know for sure whether it happens until Monday, according to Reuters, since the cash isn’t due until the next business day).

Think of this as a gentle warmup for a much bigger confrontation over Puerto Rico’s debt that’s still to come. The government is set to skip a relatively small $58 million payment on a set of bonds largely owned by Puerto Rican credit union members, who—unlike the many hedge funds among the island’s creditors—aren’t especially likely to sue for their money. Even if they did, not much would come of it, since the debts in question are “moral obligation” bonds—so-called because issuers only have a moral (ha), but not legal, obligation to pay them back.

Still, as Bloomberg puts it, this is basically Puerto Rico’s “warning shot to investors that officials aren’t afraid to default.” The island says it simply doesn’t have the cash flow to cover its obligations (which may well be true), and is working on a debt-restructuring plan it should have done by Sept. 1. But by skipping this weekend’s payment, it’s signaling to creditors that they should really consider making a deal or risk getting stiffed. Whether the act of defaulting on a group of credit-union members who lack much in the way of legal recourse will intimidate some steely hedge funders remains to be seen.

Mission Accomplished: Planned Parenthood Attacks Coordinated by High-Ranking Republican Operatives

RH Reality Check, By Karoli Kuns, July 31

To understand exactly how the most recent Planned Parenthood sting was planned and coordinated, you must go back to 2013. In July of 2013, Washington, D.C. reporter David Corn revealed the existence of a high-powered group of people who viewed themselves as a conservative army fighting a war on multiple fronts. From the wife of a Supreme Court justice to the chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz, members of this group were determined to stop all progress before it could even begin.

Just after Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, disappointed conservative thought leaders came together at the annual CPAC conference in Washington, D.C. to strategize. Demoralized but determined, they formed a plan to fight a “30-front war to fundamentally transform the nation.”

In early 2013, they formed an email group to begin the process of organizing for action and messaging coordination. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ key aide Danielle Cutrona was part of the group, as was Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Breitbart News Editor John Nolte, Family Research Council officials Jerry Boykin and Ken Blackwell, Tea Party Patriots Founder Jenny Beth Martin, Washington, D.C. attorney and public relations expert Diana Banister, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, former Congressman Allen West, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, Frank Gaffney, and Ted Cruz staffer Max Pappas rounded out the top-tier of group participants, according to David Corn’s report.

Democracy Now!: Exposed: The Faces and Fake Names of the People Behind Planned Parenthood Attack Videos

University of Cincinnati Officer Indicted in Shooting Death of Samuel Dubose

New York Times, By Richard Pérez-Peña, July 29

A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge in what a prosecutor called “a senseless, asinine shooting” of an unarmed man during a minor traffic stop. Officials say it was the first time such a charge had been leveled against an officer in the county.

The Hamilton County prosecuting attorney, Joseph T. Deters, released a much anticipated video of the shooting of Samuel Dubose taken by the officer’s body camera that he described as crucial evidence that Mr. Dubose did not act aggressively or pose a threat to Officer Ray Tensing, and that Officer Tensing had lied about being dragged by Mr. Dubose’s car. A grand jury, Mr. Deters announced, indicted the officer on a murder charge, punishable by life in prison, and a voluntary manslaughter charge.

“It was a senseless, asinine shooting,” Mr. Deters said at a news conference, using stark terms to denounce the July 19 killing, the officer’s claims and the officer himself. “This doesn’t happen in the United States, OK?” he said. “This might happen in Afghanistan. People don’t get shot for a traffic stop.”

NYT Opinion; Charles Blow: The Shooting of Samuel Dubose

The Guardian: Officers at Sam DuBose scene involved in death of another unarmed black man

Flag dispute triggers clash at South Carolina capitol

Reuters, By Greg Lacour, July 18

Columbia, SC – At least five people were arrested on Saturday as white-supremacist and African-American groups clashed outside the South Carolina State House, where the Confederate battle flag was removed last week after a half-century, authorities said.

Beginning at noon, a Florida-based group called Black Educators for Justice demonstrated on the north side of the capitol. Tensions rose quickly when a column of about 50 white supremacists, many carrying Confederate flags and one a Nazi flag, marched toward the south steps of the capitol at 3:15 p.m.

Lines of state police separated them from a large crowd that jeered and booed. When the group reached the State House lawn, a scuffle broke out, and police moved in quickly to keep the fight from spreading.

While no further violence broke out, the atmosphere, on a day when temperatures neared 100 degrees, remained tense. Several times, police had to separate people shouting obscenities at one another.

RT: KKK face off against Black Panthers at Confederate flag protest in S. Carolina

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