Washington Post, By Christopher Ingraham, November 23
Here’s an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.
Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.
Armstrong claims that “the police are now taking more assets than the criminals,” but this isn’t exactly right: The FBI also tracks property losses from larceny and theft, in addition to plain ol’ burglary. If you add up all the property stolen in 2014, from burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and other means, you arrive at roughly $12.3 billion, according to the FBI. That’s more than double the federal asset forfeiture haul.
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
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.
GQ, By Jeff Sharlet, July 30
Five months after the March 1 Los Angeles police killing of an unarmed black man named Charly “Africa” Keunang—a story I reported in-depth for the July issue of GQ—the Los Angeles coroner has finally released the results of its autopsy. They are profoundly disturbing. Two of the six bullets that killed Charly entered his body through what are called “contact gunshot wounds”—which means the muzzle of the officer’s gun was pressed directly against Charly’s body. Like a slaughterhouse killing.
I’d already reviewed a less-detailed autopsy report commissioned privately by Keunang’s family and had access to leaked body-cam videos and recordings of internal police interviews with several of the officers involved. Even so, the autopsy report is startling.
There’s a moment in the body-cam video when it appears to me that Officer Francisco Martinez has his hand on Charly’s torso—Charly is on his back after having been wrestled down and tased—with his gun pointed at the body. I didn’t include that detail in my story because I couldn’t be absolutely certain. We still can’t be sure Officer Martinez’s hand is holding Charly down, but now we can be certain: He pressed his gun into the chest of an unarmed man who was lying on his back and pulled the trigger.
Washington Post, By Kimberly Kindy, May 30
In an alley in Denver, police gunned down a 17-year-old girl joyriding in a stolen car. In the backwoods of North Carolina, police opened fire on a gun-wielding moonshiner. And in a high-rise apartment in Birmingham, Ala., police shot an elderly man after his son asked them to make sure he was okay. Douglas Harris, 77, answered the door with a gun.
The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.
“These shootings are grossly underreported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”
Al Jazeera, by Tom Kutsch, January 14
“Banks are under assault.”
That was the resounding message from Jamie Dimon, CEO and President of JPMorgan Chase, in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, announcing a fourth quarter decline in profits for the nation’s largest bank.
“We have five or six regulators coming at us on every issue,” he said, adding that this spoke of a general wrong directed at his industry: “You all should ask the question, ‘How American that is? How fair that is?”
Zero Hedge: Bank Of America Misses Revenue By $2 Billion As Trading Revenue Collapses; Fires Thousands
Zero Hedge: “It’s Carnage” – Swiss Franc Soars Most Ever After SNB Abandons EURCHF Floor; Macro Hedge Funds Crushed
Zero Hedge: UBS’ Take On The Swiss Shocker: “The SNB’s Standing Is Undermined… There Could Be A Significant Deflationary Shock”
Zero Hedge: Market Wrap: “It’s Turmoil” – Overnight Gains Wiped Out, Futures Trade Below 2000 On SNB “Shock And Awe”
This past year has been one of so many developments in American culture that it would be hard to pick any one thing as a signal event in the course of our nation.
From the full implementation of the surprisingly effective Obamacare to the grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, MO, with stopovers at the broad expansion of marriage equality and Ebola outbreaks both in Africa and here, there’s a lot to mull over, a lot that will move forward with us into the new year and beyond.
Mayor Bill de Blasio had requested a protest moratorium after two NYPD officers were murdered in their squad car
Al Jazeera, December 23
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to soothe a New York City dismayed by the slaying of two officers were further rebuffed on Tuesday as protesters defied his call to suspend demonstrations over excessive police force.
De Blasio led a moment of silence at City Hall in the afternoon three days after the attack on the officers before asking his staff to hug those nearby “as a symbol of our belief that we will move forward together.”
Hours later, about 200 protesters began marching through the drizzle and traffic in the center of Manhattan, ignoring the mayor’s demand that they suspend what have become regular rallies until after the funerals of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
The Answer Coalition, organizers of the 5th Avenue march in midtown Manhattan, called the mayor’s demand to suspend protests an attempt to “chill” their speech.
AP: Key developments in case of 2 slain NYPD officers
US police have clashed with protesters in Missouri after an officer shot dead a black teenager close to where another black youth, Michael Brown, was killed in August sparking national protests.
BBC, December 24
A crowd of about 100 gathered at the scene in St Louis early on Wednesday after scuffles the night before.
St Louis County police said the man who was shot had pulled a gun at a petrol station and pointed it at the officer.
For weeks there have been widespread protests over alleged police brutality.
Berkeley is about two miles from the suburb of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by a white officer.
Police say teen shot dead near Ferguson had pointed a gun
Protests broke out after fatal shooting they said another example of young black men being targeted by white officers
Al Jazeera, December 24
Violent protests broke out again in suburban St. Louis after another fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.
The shooting happened around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday at a convenience store in Berkeley, Missouri, just a few miles from Ferguson, where Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was killed by a white officer in August.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says the Berkeley shooting victim was black and the officer white. Police say video evidence will show that the teenager had drawn a gun on officers before he was shot.
“I had the opportunity last evening to review the video of the incident, and what I saw is not what people portray,” Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said in a presser Wednesday, referring to claims by protesters that the incident was another in a series of racially-charged shootings of black men by white police officers. “This is not a policeman half-cocked, you know black lives matter — this was not the case (that) you could even compare this with the Ferguson or Garner case.”