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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Ferguson Watch Thread Overnight For 8/19/14: Tense Evening Produces Gun Shots, Multiple Arrests

Tear gas, flash grenades, arrests.

Those three elements have been a constant the last few nights in the Ferguson protests for the death of Michael Brown. But Monday evening added its own dramatic characteristic, as gun shots were fired towards several protestors. The only difference however was the source of were those shots arise, as other members of the public allegedly fired bullets amongst a relatively peaceful crowd.

Two people were wounded as tense times surfaced again in the small town outside of St. Louis, hours after President Obama made a second public statement on Ferguson. It appeared that it would be a relatively calm evening in wake of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifting Sunday's midnight curfew. Most protestors marched through their community from late afternoon into sunset without any major controversy, trying to avoid being arrested at the hands of a police's edict barring marchers from stopping in the middle of the street. But as the hours passed, certain individuals within the large crowd began to challenge police rules and prompt more aggressive action from authorities.

Water bottles were among the items allegedly thrown at police, as well as Molotov cocktails. However, multiple gun shots prompted intense police action as flash grenades and tear gas bombarded the street. Some protestors and media members were struck by those items, including one photojournalist from New Mexico whose injury was documented on CNN. "Thank you people of Ferguson," he said, indicating that local citizens poured water & magnesium into his eyes to halt his distress. "You have been great to me the whole time."

31 people were arrested, including Intercept journalist Ryan Devereaux. When asked if any journalists were in police custody, Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson inaccurately stated that was not the case.  Johnson also indicated that some journalists not from a major media outlet could be handcuffed due to police being unable to distinguish "who is a journalist or not."

"In the midst of chaos and trying to move people on, we have to be safe," he said. "And we are providing protection for journalists. We had a journalist who was trapped in the midst of that gunfire, in the midst of that chaos.  And we're providing protection for them. We took journalists back to their trucks."

Earlier in the day, Getty photojournalist Scott Olson was wrongly arrested by authorities and released during the evening.

President Obama said in his press conference Monday afternoon that Attorney General Eric Holder would travel to Ferguson on Wednesday, as some rumors have noted that St.Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch could bring charges on Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown to death on August 9, this week.

Update: NBC News reported that over double the number of people from the police's total were arrested last night. 78 people were taken into custody based on a list at the St. Louis County jail, with all but three arrested for refusing to disperse. Two people were arrested for use of an unlawful weapon, while the other was arrested for interfering with an officer. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Ferguson Watch Thread #1 For 8/18/14: The Consistent Ways of The Status Quo Centrist (Final Version)

Recap: Those Hoping For Firm Criticism of Ferguson Police Forget The Middle Road Ways of Obama

From from CBS's Mark Knoller 

As is often the case when it comes to Obama's actions or speeches, the latest installment just now on   Ferguson (and Iraq) followed the usual centrist philosophy that maintains status quo elements and prevents the reform those institutions require. 

Unsurprisingly many in the liberal world, especially in the black community, are disappointed by that. There was never going to be a full castigation of the insane Ferguson police's actions, just a nibble at making sure the nation's "First Amendment" rights were protected. And there was always going to be a reprimand of any looters to make certain the authorities had comfort in their general jobs. 

It did a disservice to both Ferguson and Iraq to have both of them share the focus when each required their own special time. To say that Ferguson is not on his radar is obviously foolish, as he wouldn't have spoken about it for a second time nor send Eric Holder there later this week. But adjoining "the fight against ISIL" with the plight of this Missouri town's black people was completely clumsy and unnecessary. 

There wouldn't have been a problem with this press conference for Ferguson's distress population if his "My Brother's Keeper" pronouncements and finger waging at those alleged "Molotov cocktail" throwers was offset with a gentle version of how much of a moron Thomas Jackson and his authorities are. At least that element of condemining continued police racial bias (and/or racism) would be included. It was the bare minimum, however, mentioned. "No excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully," he said. He wasn't going to touch the dispersion of the store video or the fact that Darren Wilson may have even watched his press conference at his house.  

It's the consistent ways of the centrist: Not do anything but never go above the minimum. 

Original Version

Soon forthcoming will be President Obama's second public statement on the disheartening but expected instability going on in Ferguson.

There was of course the audience who felt that it was a waste for Obama to do anything, and couldn't comprehend the other side demanding any action other than his initial statement last week. Those constant "Obama is truly powerless" sentiments are always myopic, and no one rational was demanding he magically change everything by himself.

The decision by Gov. Jay Nixon to bring in the National Guard without, reportedly, informing the White House of that move further enhances how shambolic his judgement has been in this ordeal. Sunday night officially ended any progress made on Friday evening, making it a requirement to not stand idle behind the scenes.

It's another topic altogether on what type of response is required from Obama on this, whether to have Nixon pull the national guard or see Holder release a statement expressing his concern about Bob McColloch being the one to determine Darren Wilson's fate.

But it would have been just silly without even a whisker of public optical significance from the President on this. And anyone slamming people for demanding that need to look into themselves to see if they are making any sense in what they're saying. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Thread For 8/14/14: How Ferguson's Racial Disaster Is The Real "Leading From Behind"

Screenshot from MSNBC

In modern day neoconservative and centrist talk, the phrase constantly used for their perspective of President Obama's foreign policy is "leading from behind." Anyone with any barring of facts, common sense and general rationality knows how unhinged the usage of that phrase is. It speaks more to how unstable those people are and how that phrase surely needs a proper example to represent it accurately.

That example has arrived in emphatic and unfortunate fashion with the latest American racial horror show in Ferguson, Missouri, thanks to its mayor exhibiting traits that would make Waldo look visible and a police chief whose behavior gives Clancy Wiggum of The Simpsons a sense of competence.

Mayor James Knowles hopefully isn't harboring any ideas on running for higher positions in the future, as he has acted like he doesn't know where his town is located on the map since the early aftermath of Michael Brown joining a list of murdered black American men.

Knowles doesn't have a Twitter account, looks to not even have a public Facebook page, and features a town website ill-equipped to handle even the slightest bumps in traffic. It's the combination of all the elements that give small towns and their mayors the terrible labels given to them from the big cities. And Knowles has played right into that image with his late public appearances days after his town's force brought in military tanks on protestors, reporters and the occasional looters like they were some American chapter of ISIS.

"That's why we have to be vigilant and I can't second-guess these officers," Ferguson said earlier on Thursday to defend the wannabe Army/Marines nature of his cops and how his police chief Thomas Jackson thinks his unit is doing a swell job.

With no leadership from Knowles, it has allowed Jackson to persist in "Operation: Protestor Unfreedom" and have the gumption to label the protest as town outsiders "causing unrest." He chose to make those comments on Hannity Wednesday night, picking the perfect outlet that would fully agree with that idiotic logic.

Jackson further showed how out of control he is of the situation, with mixed messages on his department enforcing a curfew surfacing and his unawareness that St. Louis police would be pulled out of the area today. How a police chief in a local town such as this not be cognizant of those details shows the unflappable mess that he has been placed in thanks to Knowles lack of sagacity (Oh, and did I forget to mention that Knowles posted on his private Facebook page last year that he didn't believe white flight existed in Ferguson's history, which it has).

If neither of these men in their local area can't provide a sense of direction for this aggrieved town, then where was Governor Jay Nixon or Senators Claire McCaskill or Roy Blunt before today? Rep. Lacy Clay can't be the only prominent elected official to speak out before reporters get arrested for being in a McDonalds. The minute Attorney General Eric Holder announced that an investigation would be placed on Brown's death, it should have been full carte blanche for these figures to be active instead of the dormancy they displayed, from local to state wide.

Real modern leaders would have daily press conferences from the inception of this tragedy. Real modern leaders would be active on social media in offering ways to facilitate and ameliorate the tense situation. Real modern leaders wouldn't be as invisible as carbon dioxide to the place it is suppose to serve in major moments like this.

How can the people of Ferguson, Missouri have any confidence in their leaders (if there was any to begin with in the first place) after this week? And how can those same people, especially Mayor Knowles and his clueless police chief Jackson, look themselves in the mirror and think that they can still be leaders for Ferguson, Missouri?

The real "leading from behind" tactic isn't having the sensible idea to not invade another country. The real "leading from behind" is when you leave your town in its most distress behind.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Music Midday Energy Boost For 8/12/14: Rich Homie Quan ft. Problem - Walk Thru (2014)

(Viewer and Reader Discretion is Advised, especially if you aren't black)

Another one of those rising upstars whose has the production outshine his words. Nevertheless, Rich Homie Quan has been taking stepping stones to prominence since "Some Type of Way" last summer.

Noted fact about this video is what happened when Quan shot it in early May. He reportedly was taken to the hospital, falling victim to two seizures and cracking his head open. Considering that he was locked up before, that latest alarming incident added on to the many bouts with adversity he has dealt with.

Despite all of that, the production work by Dupri and Shadow, well, overshadows Quan.

Anyway, return of the Music Midday Energy Boost, it's RHQ with the smooth "Walk Thru."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Thread For 8/6/14: Missouri Votes To Ban Warrantless Seizures of Electrical Devices

Missouri voters resoundingly ensured Tuesday evening that they would not be subjected to warrantless seizures and searches of their electronic devices by their state authorities, based on a primary ballot amendment inspired by the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. 

Seventy-five percent of voters (almost 729,000 people) in the Show Me State chose “Yes” to add Amendment 9 to Missouri’s Constitution, with only 25% casting for the other way. Amendment 9’s passing, which would ensure cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices receive the same Fourth Amendment protections granted to people, their homes, and their other personal belongings, had gain steady bipartisan momentum in the state for months. Although the amendment  does not affect the federal level, it does place a block on Missouri state departments from obtaining digital data without a warrant.  

The amendment was sponsored by State Senator Rob Schaaf (R) and co-sponsored by State Senator Bob Dixon (R), and passed in the Missouri House and Senate earlier this year with little to no contention. The ACLU of Missouri and the controversial conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council were among the main supporters of the bill.

“The overwhelming support for Amendment 9 simply reflects the emotion that Missourians have for their privacy rights,” Schaaf told me on Wednesday. “People are upset and they spoke very loudly. They want the government’s snooping to stop.” 

Tuesday’s vote comes weeks after a Supreme Court case in June, Riley v California, that said police cannot search a cell phone without a warrantSen. Schaaf felt that his bill would go one step beyond the Roberts Court’s ruling. “Amendment 9 would cover things other than cellphones, laptops, and communications,” he said after that ruling.  “It (the high court ruling) only covers cellphones.” 

When asked Wednesday by me if he thought the Court would revisit the issue one day, Schaaf added that “The United States needs to incorporate this into its own constitution, and that will eventually happen.” 

Amendment 9 could serve as a concerning sign for the Information Sharing Environment (ISE), a national group created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in 2004. ISE has allowed local and state officials to collaborate and trade information with authorities ranging from departments such as homeland security, foreign affairs, and intelligence, including the NSA. Some of that information, however, has been revealed to not have anything to do with combating terrorism.   Amendment 9 in Missouri could prevent any meaningful impact from those gatherings with other states’ possibly taking similar actions. 

Minnesota and New Hampshire have been doing just that, trying to ban warrantless data collection like Missouri has now accomplished. Utah and Minnesota earlier this year saw their governors signed laws banning cell phones tracking in their states. 

“I think that other states will follow Missouri’s lead,” Schaaf said. “And hopefully Missouri voters will set a nation trend.”  

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