You are hereFeed aggregator

Feed aggregator

Excessive Force

Huffington Post News - 34 min 6 sec ago

Public order and justice require police who reflect and respect those they serve.

When civil disorder followed the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, it was fueled by police aggression that exacerbated existing community mistrust.

Ferguson police, overwhelmingly white in a community that's two-thirds black, offered a case study in how not to handle lawful protests. While failing to release a proper incident report and initially withholding Wilson's name, they put out information to imply that Brown deserved his fate. Never mind the double standard whereby, say, gun-waving white radicals like Cliven Bundy in Nevada are spared deadly force.

As police innovated daily escalations (infringing on First Amendment freedoms, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at reporters and peaceful protesters), community leaders, including Alderman Antonio French, urged restraint, blocked looters, and transmitted events on social media. Capt. Ron Johnson of the state highway patrol showed maturity by replacing riot gear with respectful community engagement, though events (and some headstrong officers) outflanked him.

Live tweets and subsequent reports reveal belligerent officers with a history of abuse. While demonstrators chanted, "Hands up, don't shoot," alleged outsiders instigated violence that gave police an excuse to "drop the hammer," as SiriusXM radio host Mark Thompson put it. A Missouri GOP official called on-scene voter-registration efforts "disgusting." So pointing guns at protesters is not a provocation, but registering voters is?

A campaign on raised nearly $250,000 for Officer Wilson. Donor comments included, "I am so sick of the blacks using every excuse in the book to loot and riot," and references to "protecting normal Americans from aggressive and entitled primitive savages" and rejecting "the failed experiment called diversity."

Hatred aside, no criticism of lawlessness is sincere if it excuses police brutality and overreaction. No criticism of entitlement is coherent if it ignores white privilege. Diversity is no experiment but a social fact that cannot be dispelled with military equipment and bounty payments.

Despite crime being down, fear mongering inflates police budgets. A week after the unarmed, mentally ill Ezell Ford was killed by LAPD officers, their colleague Sunil Dutta, writing in The Washington Post, essentially blamed excessive force on victims' failure to grovel sufficiently. Staring at Dutta's words, I see the faces of Ford, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, and many other unarmed black men who died before they could hire a lawyer.

In the 1990s, as president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, I worked with the NAACP, the ACLU, and others to establish independent review of police in the District of Columbia. Civilian oversight is essential to hold accountable those we entrust with badges and guns. Public safety is not served by routine use of methods and equipment designed to confront terrorists. And something is awry when police call a video "exculpatory" that shows them emptying their clips on Kajieme Powell, a man with a knife who likely suffered from mental illness, as if deadly force were their only option.

Those who deny the role of racial bias are confronted not only by data (including a racial profiling report from the Missouri attorney general) but by the indelible photo of a young man with braided hair, hands up, facing a phalanx of officers pointing high-powered guns.

On Aug. 15 Mark Thompson got choked up on the air when a 7-year-old who was protesting with his father said he was there because Michael Brown had been shot. The sacrifices of the generation before ours were supposed to keep such ugliness from clouding our children's spirits.

More work lies ahead. Only by participating in the political process, building trust and cooperation with people unlike us, and using our smartphone cameras to expose official misconduct can we make America -- to borrow Dr. King's words -- be true to what we said on paper.

This piece originally appeared in Bay Windows and Metro Weekly.

Copyright © 2014 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

FEMA Denies Hawaii's Post-Storm Disaster Request

Huffington Post News - 45 min 51 sec ago

HONOLULU (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday denied Hawaii's request for a major disaster declaration after Tropical Storm Iselle.

Iselle made landfall over the Big Island's isolated and rural Puna region nearly three weeks ago, knocking down trees and power lines. FEMA denied the request because "it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to go beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies," the agency wrote to the state Thursday.

Officials who toured the area about a week after the storm hit identified 28 homes with major damage and 11 that were destroyed, FEMA spokesman Casey De Shong said. About 20 percent of those homes had insurance, he said.

"The two factors combined ... really don't suggest the state of Hawaii was overwhelmed," De Shong said. "It just didn't constitute a declaration."

Approving Hawaii's request would have provided residents with help for uninsured damage such as home repair funds, low-interest loans and rental assistance.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has 30 days to appeal FEMA's decision.

"Storm surge and wind-driven waves flooded homes and moved them off their foundations in Kapoho, Hawaii County," Abercrombie wrote in his application to FEMA. "High winds downed hundreds of albizia trees, destroying and damaging hundreds of homes and causing extensive damage to the electrical infrastructure."

The storm "impacted the most impoverished district in the state," he wrote, noting that 27.8 percent of residents live below the poverty rate.

The state is disappointed, but it's still possible FEMA will approve help with public infrastructure damage, said Shelly Kunishige, spokeswoman for State Civil Defense/Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

"It would be nice, but I think there are a lot of volunteer groups on the ground, a lot of grassroots efforts to help the affected people out," Kunishige said, adding that the denial reinforces the need for the public to make donations to those groups.

The last time Hawaii received a FEMA major disaster declaration, Kunishige said, was for severe storms and high winds that caused extensive flooding on Oahu in December 2008.


Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at .

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Leading From Behind, and Proud of It

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 16 min ago

Egypt and the UAE went forward with air strikes against Islamists in Libya without informing the United States. They did this presumably because they are concerned with the growing influence of Islamist extremists in their region of the world. No doubt their concerns don't exist in a vacuum; the whole world is watching as Islamists garner more control in Iraq and Syria. Apparently America is supposed to be upset about the move because we should have been informed. The thought is that we've provided some of the weaponry, so we should have a say. There's also the uncomfortable truth that America may just need to get over its own sense of paternalism if we really want to stay out of conflict.

Poll after poll shows an American populace that does not favor intervention overseas. It's become quite clear since the downturn of the economy that we have enough to work on here at home without getting into multibillion-dollar conflicts. So we don't want to intervene, but we don't want to be left out either. The favorite saying of what I would call war hawks is that this is what happens when America "leads from behind."

Well, here's my question: Why do we have to lead at all?

I would argue that at this point and time we are in no position to lead anyone. We have record -low unemployment, the middle class that once defined the American dream is dissipating, and we have social issues bubbling under the surface that we should probably start to address. We have serious infrastructure needs that need to be met, and plenty of ingrown homeland-security challenges I'm positive our military could focus on (not to mention millions of families who would be grateful not to send off their loved ones into dubious wars).

I understand that America has serious political interests in the Middle East beyond oil. I understand that leaving the area completely is a pipe dream, largely because leaving Israel to its own devices at this point would be like leaving a kid in the desert to fend for herself. That said, isn't that kind of what Americans did when we declared independence? Or when we fought our incredibly deadly civil war? What if the superpower of the time got involved in our own now-infamous civil conflict? What if we were not allowed to fight it out but were forced to form ourselves under the influence of a foreign culture that no one understood?

That is what we have been doing in the Middle East, and it is time to stop. It is time to let regional powers figure out their own regional conflicts, and it is time for America to begin addressing our own. We have thousands of people trying to get into our country because the situation below our border is so dire, partially for reasons that are well within our control (e.g., the drug war). Maybe we don't see that problem as just as much of a threat as those in the Middle East, but we should. As we have seen with the latest incident at the Texas border, we can only ignore our neighbors for so long as we toil along overseas.

The interests are strong, and the history is thick, but I, for one, am happy that Egypt and the UAE made a unilateral decision without us. I am happy that Egypt orchestrated the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire. I am glad that we are starting to "lead from behind" in the rest of the world, because maybe that means we can lead our own country.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

California Legislature Passes 'Yes Means Yes' Standard For College Sexual Assault Policies

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 31 min ago

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State lawmakers have passed a bill that would make California the first state to define when "yes means yes" while investigating sexual assaults on college campuses.

The Senate unanimously passed SB967 on Thursday as states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles says his bill would begin a paradigm shift in how California campuses prevent and investigate sexual assault.

Rather than using the refrain "no means no," the definition of consent under the bill requires "an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision" by each party to engage in sexual activity.

It applies to all colleges and universities accepting state financial aid.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Wife Of Maryland Congressman Andy Harris Dies

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 51 min ago

BALTIMORE (AP) — The wife of a Maryland congressman has died unexpectedly.

Erin Montgomery is a spokeswoman for Republican Rep. Andy Harris. She said that Sylvia Harris died Thursday after being taken to a hospital. She did not have any other details immediately on the cause of death.

According to Andy Harris' biography on his congressional web page, he and Sylvia Harris had been married for more than 30 years. They have five children.

Harris is a physician. He represents Maryland's 1st District, which includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore County. He is the state's lone Republican congressman.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Florida Democrats Launch 'Unity Tour' To Rally Around Charlie Crist

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 5 min ago

ORLANDO, Fla., Aug 28 (Reuters) - Florida Democrats launched a "unity tour" on Thursday to close ranks around Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor of the state who is running as the Democratic candidate in this year's election.

Crist shared hugs and a kiss with the opponent that he resoundingly defeated in Tuesday's primaries, former state legislator Nan Rich, who introduced him as "the man who will lead the Democratic ticket to victory in November."

"This kind of unity doesn't ordinarily happen in the Democratic Party. Well, it's a new day," Crist said at an event in Orlando. Crist is running against Republican Governor Rick Scott, who easily cruised to primary victory

Calling themselves the "people's team," the tour made stops in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, where Crist was joined on stage by a bevy of big-name Democrats, including Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Crist's running mate, Annette Taddeo, among others.

Wasserman Schultz tweeted enthusiastically: "Floridians can agree that there's only one candidate for Gov that shares their interest and that's @CharlieCrist!"

For Crist, who governed Florida as a Republican from 2007 to 2011 and now wants the job back under a different party label, the display was designed to quell any lingering doubts about whether he would be embraced by Democrats.

His resounding primary victory was accompanied by dismal voter turnout, with voters in the Democratic stronghold in south Florida showing particularly little enthusiasm for the election.

Democrats say they are now rallying around a race that polls show to be in a virtual tie. Crist urged Democrats to join him in winning back the governor's mansion.

"In 68 days you, me, and Florida are going to be - Scott free." (Writing by Letitia Stein, editing by David Adams and Cynthia Osterman)

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Michael Brown Shooting Audio Accurate, Company Says

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 8 min ago

Audio that purportedly captured the moment of Michael Brown's death is accurate, according to the company whose app recorded it.

Earlier this week, CNN aired the unverified recording. In it, six shots can be heard, followed by a pause and least five more shots. The audio was allegedly recorded by accident on a video chat service called Glide by a man who lives near the scene of Michael Brown's death.

The pause in the audio may also complicate the police account of the shooting. Police have said that Brown was shot during a scuffle with Darren Wilson, the officer who killed him. Multiple witnesses have denied that a fight took place and said that Brown had his hands up when he was shot.

"I was very concerned about that pause," the attorney for the man who recorded the audio said, "because it's not just the number of gunshots, it's how they're fired and that has a huge relevance on how this case might finally end up." Glide confirmed that the audio was recorded at 12:02:14 p.m, which lines up with the police timeline of Brown's shooting.

The audio also may clarify how many shots were fired. An earlier autopsy found that Brown was shot 6 times.

The FBI is reportedly investigating the recording. Neither CNN nor NBC could independently confirm its veracity.

Brown, a black teenager, was shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. His death sparked weeks of protest.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Elizabeth Warren Defends Israeli Shelling of Gaza Schools, Hospitals

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 9 min ago

The Israeli military has the right to attack Palestinian hospitals and schools in self defense if Hamas has put rocket launchers next to them, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said last week at a local town hall, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Warren, in defending her vote to send funds to Israel in the middle of its war with Hamas, said she thinks civilian casualties are the "last thing Israel wants."

"But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they're using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself," she said.

Israeli tanks shelled schools and hospitals during the most recent conflict in Gaza. The Israeli government claimed at the time that rockets and militants had been located nearby. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency condemned Hamas for hiding rockets in two schools, and also sharply criticized Israeli attacks on other schools.

The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War prohibits attacks on hospitals, "unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy." Even under those circumstances, civilian hospitals can only be attacked "after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded."

Warren argued that Israel's use of force was justified by the violence in the region. "America has a very special relationship with Israel," she said. "Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren't many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world."

She also questioned whether to condition future U.S. funding for Israel on the halting of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. "I think there's a question of whether we should go that far," Warren said.

Israel is indeed a democracy. The nation's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a member of the Likud Party, whose founding charter calls for the destruction of any Palestinian state; Hamas' founding document calls for the same for Israel, though it recently joined a unity government which recognizes Israel's right to exist.

Warren has been on the receiving end of sporadic criticism over the years from progressives for a hawkish if hesitant approach to foreign policy, which she appears to prefer to avoid in favor of domestic economic policy.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another favorite of progressives, has also come under fire from his base for his defense of Israel. A recent town hall got testy, with constituents and the senator exchanging harsh words, and Sanders ending on a note of resignation. "This is a very depressing and difficult issue. This has gone on for 60 bloody years," he said. "If you're asking me, do I have a magical solution? I don't. And you know what, I doubt very much that you do."

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Saving Native American Languages

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 40 min ago

Language and Native Americans are in the news as media outlets around the nation announce that they will no longer use the "R" word in conjunction with Washington's NFL franchise.

They join a groundswell of public opinion against the current mascot, ranging from #NotYourMascot activism on Twitter to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceling the team's trademarks for being "disparaging to Native Americans."

But this isn't the only fight out there with Native American languages at the forefront. Two bipartisan bills are under consideration in Congress: the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act (H.R.4214/S.1948) and the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R.726/S.2299). If passed, the bills will profoundly impact on the revitalization of Native American languages and the education of Native American youth.

Urgent action is needed. These two bills provide key financial and legislative support for Native American language revitalization. Not a single Native American language is deemed "safe" for survival according to UNESCO's Atlas of World Languages in Danger.

President Obama has joined the chorus supporting Native American languages. On his recent trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, Lakota Language Nest immersion students sang the Lakota Flag Song to him. Lakota is one of 11 Native American languages in the best possible category for continuance -- UNESCO puts it in the "vulnerable" category. The remaining 180 languages are in even greater states of endangerment.

Language is essential to our humanity, fundamental for expressing culture and encoding traditional knowledge.

In a July town hall meeting, President Obama noted that:

[W]hat happens when you start losing your language and you start losing your culture and you don't have a sense of connections to ancestors and those memories that date back generations is you start feeling adrift. And if you're living in a society that devalues that, then you start maybe devaluing yourself and internalizing some of those doubts.

That both Native American Languages bills have bipartisan support is impressive. Co-sponsors come from states where Native languages are spoken, taught, promoted, and most especially, valued, such as Alaska, Montana, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, among others. House Resolution 4214 is sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, a tribe actively engaged on behalf of their language, but one that is severely endangered with 70 or fewer fluent speakers.

In truth, the vitality of all U.S. Native American languages is a dicey proposition. A number of languages already have lost their last fluent speaker. For other languages, only a handful of elderly speakers remain. In many Native American communities, these elderly speakers contribute their expertise to tribal language programs that cherish them as their greatest resource and treasure.

The Sauk Language Department in Oklahoma recently mourned the passing of Maxine Cobb, one of the three fluent speakers remaining of Sauk. As a 'Master' teacher in their Master-Apprentice Program, she passed her language on to young adult apprentices, who now in turn learn and teach the language at high schools and in the community. Only two Sauk elderly speakers are left.

Learning a language in the home as an infant and toddler is the easiest route to fluency. Daily activities and interactions centered on that language help children learn to conjugate verbs, to build complex sentences and eventually to converse in that language. The ideal teachers are not really teachers at all, but parents and people of a child-rearing age who use the language in their home to sing lullabies, play games and tell bedtime stories.

The Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act and the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014 would provide critical funding necessary to pay for immersion schools and other programs to help keep the languages vital and to ground education in tribal language and culture. Native American languages are unique, distinct, and spoken nowhere else on earth, part of this nation's heritage. Surely their survival is worth our support.

To learn more about the congressional legislation and how you can support Native American Languages and their use in immersion schools, visit the Linguistic Society of America webpage.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

HUFFPOLLSTER: Recession Leaves Americans Pessimistic About Jobs

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 58 min ago

Americans are deeply pessimistic about the state of the economy. A Republican poll is deeply pessimistic about the GOP's outreach toward women. And opinions on foreign interventionism may be shifting. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, August 28, 2014.

MOST AMERICANS THINK THE ECONOMY IS PERMANENTLY DAMAGED - Arthur Delaney: "Seven out of ten Americans say the U.S. economy has been permanently damaged by the Great Recession that started at the end of 2007, according to a new poll. When the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University asked people about the recession in 2009, only 49 percent said the economy had settled into a crappy new normal. The percentage has increased each year since then, hitting 71 percent this summer….Curiously, while only 12 percent of respondents said workers in general were happy with their jobs, 63 percent said they were satisfied with their own jobs. That result is in line with a recent Gallup survey, which found Americans' satisfaction with their job security had reached historic highs." [HuffPost]

And believe next generation will have it worse - Lauren Weber, on the same survey: "Perhaps most strikingly, 16% of respondents agree that job and career opportunities will be better for the next generation than for their own – a drop from the 56% who were optimistic about this measure in 1999 and down even from the 40% who agreed in November 2009, well into the recession." [WSJ]

AMERICANS MORE OPEN TO FOREIGN INTERVENTION - Susan Page: "After years of retrenchment in the wake of two costly wars, a new USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds that Americans increasingly are open to a larger U.S. role in trying to solve problems around the world. The public remains conflicted over just how much the United States can and should do to address global challenges. But the initial shifts in public opinion could make it easier for President Obama to order more muscular options in striking Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq…In the survey, 39% say the United States does too much in helping solve world problems; 31% say the U.S. does too little. That reflects a significant change from less than a year ago, when in a previous Pew Research Center poll Americans by an overwhelming 51%-17% said the U.S. did too much. A 34-percentage-point gap in November 2013 has narrowed to 8 points now." [USA Today]

But don't see an obligation to act against Russia - Emily Swanson: "Amid increasingly hostile Russian actions, less than one-third of Americans think the United States should defend Ukraine against actual Russian troops, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. According to the survey, only 29 percent of Americans think the U.S. has a responsibility to defend Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion, while 38 percent think it does not. Another 33 percent said they're not sure." [HuffPost]

REPUBLICAN POLL FINDS WOMEN VIEW GOP AS OUT OF TOUCH - Marina Fang: "A new internal Republican report confirmed that women are not fans of the GOP, and Republicans have more work to do if they want the female vote. The report, which was obtained by Politico, found that although Republicans have tried to improve outreach to female voters, women still believe the party is 'stuck in the past' and 'intolerant.' Forty-nine percent of women polled for the report looked on the GOP unfavorably. Only 39 percent felt that way about the Democratic Party. The study was commissioned by two conservative groups: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network….The report drew its conclusions from focus group discussions and a poll of 800 registered women voters. " [HuffPost]

Does it matter for midterms? Margie Omero (D): "[H]ere's a tough question for the left. Can Republicans still be successful even as they continue to alienate a majority of the electorate? In midterms, the answer is undoubtedly yes. Examining official midterm exit polls since 1982 shows women alone have never determined a Democratic wave or prevented a Republican one. Women voted Democratic in the 1994 Gingrich-fueled wave. Both men and women voted Democratic in 2006 and then Republican in 2010. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a midterm election in which women and men voted for different parties (just two in the last 30 years: 1994 and 1998). Now, this pattern may not matter much this cycle, since these are national House race exit polls, and the biggest battles in 2014 are a handful of Senate contests. But these results suggest women are not controlling our national political dialogue, despite their majority status." [HuffPost]

WHY SCOTT WALKER MIGHT NOT BE TRAILING IN WISCONSIN - Harry Enten: "Republican candidates typically poll better among likely voters, particularly in midterm elections when Democratic-leaning constituencies are less likely to turn out. This fact of Americans politics is why a poll released in Wisconsin on Wednesday was so weird. According to the latest Marquette University Law School poll, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, is losing his re-election bid against Democrat Mary Burke by 2 percentage points among likely voters but winning by 3 points among registered voters. Which is right? Chances are, the results from the registered voter sample are closer to the truth — Walker is probably slightly ahead...It’s important to remember there is nothing magical about a likely voter screen. Marquette chooses a simple screen: Those who say they are absolutely certain to vote in November. Marquette could just as easily choose to include participants who say they are very likely to vote." [538]

HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this daily update every weekday via email! Just click here, enter your email address, and and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).

THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Sean Trende says it's too early to know if 2014 will be a Republican wave year. [RCP]

-Amy Walter asks why we're waiting for a wave. [Cook Political]

-Sam Wang argues Senate Democrats are outperforming expectations. [Princeton Election Consortium]

-Franklin & Marshall finds Tom Wolf (D) with a wide lead over Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R). [Franklin & Marshall]

-Americans think health insurance subsidies should be available on federal exchanges. [YouGov]

-Americans narrowly support unions, but overwhelmingly approve of right-to-work laws. [Gallup]

-Americans are twice as likely to say they "strongly disapprove" of Obama as they are to say they "strongly approve." [Gallup]

-Derek Willis finds the two senators most willing to vote against their party. [NYT]

-Alan Abramowitz argues nominating libertarians won't help Republicans win more of the youth vote. [Sabato's Crystal Ball]

-Amelia Thomson-Deveaux looks into why it's so hard to measure the effect of legislation on abortion rates in Texas. [538]

-Brian Arbour outlines his research into why candidates spend so much time talking about what they've already done instead of what they plan to do. [WashPost]

-Jason Linkins is unimpressed by the 2016 polling featuring Mitt Romney. [HuffPost]

-Daniel W. Drezner kicks off the American Political Science Association's annual meeting with 10 ways to troll political scientists. [WashPost]

Categories: Political News and Opinion

In Ferguson, A Sense Of Normalcy Returns To A City Still On Edge

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 2 min ago

FERGUSON, Mo. — They’re still here: a small group of protesters, across from the police department, in what passes for a downtown in this small suburb of St. Louis.

Sitting on overturned milk crates and portable folding chairs in the parking lot of Andy Wurm’s Tire & Wheel shop Wednesday night, they talked about what life has been like for them since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. As they speak, cars occasionally honk their horns in support, and a man on roller blades whizzes by in the shared car-bike lane.

Jermell Hasson, 27, says he lives right down the street. He’s usually taken the night shift of the protests, showing up around 6 p.m. and sometimes staying until 6 a.m. He says at one point he was out here for three days straight. Supporters supply them with a constant stream of food: they’ve had Subway, Little Caesars, Popeye’s, McDonald’s and sometimes apples and oranges. “We eat too much out here,” Hasson joked. “We stay full.”

The rain started falling. Hasson and a couple others had ponchos, but they’d still get soaked if the sky really opened up. The fold-up canopy tent they’d used earlier in the protests was nowhere to be seen.

Soon, two firefighters emerged from the firehouse across the street, right next to the Ferguson Police Department. They talked to the protesters, went back inside the firehouse, and emerged a few minutes later to give them blue tarps to help them stay dry. “Thank you, fellas,” one of the protesters said.

“I just don't want the guys out here to get fucking rained on if it gets crazy,” said one firefighter, who declined to give his name because, as a city employee, he didn’t want to be seen as taking sides on the issue of Brown’s death.

A calm has returned to Ferguson since the most intense protests hit the city earlier this month. Things have been quiet since Monday, when Brown was laid to rest.

The change is most distinct, eerie even, near where Brown was gunned down, which is quite literally on the other side of the tracks. West Florissant Avenue is where you’ll find payday loan stores, fast-food joints and the burned-down QuikTrip, instead of the wine bar, bike shop, brewery and coffee shop over on South Florissant Road. South Florissant is also where you’ll find the city's public resources: the police department, the public library and the privately contracted equivalent of a DMV, which is run by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles.

Earlier in the day, Knowles stopped into the Corner Coffee House on South Florissant before heading to work and chatted with some elderly former residents. Knowles, who faced criticism for claiming that there was “not a racial divide in Ferguson,” struck a different tone on Wednesday, saying that the problems highlighted in the wake of Brown’s shooting were not unique to his city.

Mayor James Knowles visited the Corner Coffee House in Ferguson on Wednesday.

“At least the city of Ferguson will be moving forward on these things, and we’re hoping that the greater St. Louis region will as well, because there’s two million people that live in this area,” Knowles told The Huffington Post. “Ferguson is only 22,000 people, and clearly I think you’ve seen here the problems, the frustrations really come from all across the region, not just Ferguson.”

Knowles described being in regular communication with Minister Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, and said he was working to accommodate a planned protest in Ferguson on Saturday. But many of the issues raised, he said, “are so much bigger than Ferguson," and he said he sees a need to broaden the focus of the debate.

“There needs to be a broader focus if we’re going to make a real change for the people who have been frustrated,” Knowles said. “We’re six square miles, so you can drive through Ferguson and feel better about it, but they’ve got to go through the rest of the world, the rest of the country.”

Nearby, former Ferguson Mayor Brian Fletcher and Chris Shanahan, spokesman for a group called Friends of the City of Ferguson, sold “I <3 FERG” t-shirts and “I <3 FERGUSON” lawn signs. Fletcher vented to a reporter about how the media portrayed the city as a “suburban ghetto” and the reaction to his comments acknowledging that Ferguson, like a lot of the country, is still pretty segregated. When a woman asked if they were selling shirts in support of Darren Wilson, volunteers told her that’s not what their campaign was about.

Things, of course, aren’t completely back to the way they used to be. M.C. Hammer doesn’t typically hang out in Ferguson, for example. But most reporters have moved on, and a sense of normalcy is beginning to return.

Ferguson officers have been spotted patrolling the West Florissant corridor, though they reportedly were accompanied by Missouri Highway Patrol officers when responding to calls in the area where Brown was killed. The law enforcement command center, located in a nearby strip mall parking lot, has been dismantled. Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who led the police response, held what he said would be his last press conference at St. Louis County Police headquarters. At the press conference, Johnson praised the community for coming together, while Chief Jon Belmar defended his department's response to the initial protests two weeks ago.

Hours before that news conference, Johnson sat down for lunch at Ferguson Burger Bar, one of the few businesses that stayed open at night throughout most of the protests. The restaurant has been packed with journalists and protesters over the past several weeks, but by 8 p.m. Wednesday, only the owners and a couple of employees were inside. Instead of CNN’s coverage of the protests happening just outside, the television was showing Dr. Drew. The door swung open, and a customer walked in. He said he was there because he'd seen the restaurant on TV.

Across the street at the McDonald’s, two veteran police officers from nearby Kinloch — which has a total police force of just six — milled around and discussed how the neighborhood had changed. Both officers were on McDonald’s' payroll for the night, brought in to protect the store, which was staying open into the evening hours for the first time in weeks.

“It’s kind of sad what they’ve done to our towns,” said the female officer, who grew up in the area and lives in the small city of Jennings. She pointed to the Family Dollar and said it used to be a Walgreens, the Ferguson Market & Liquor — the store where Michael Brown stole cigars before he was shot — which she said used to be a 7-Eleven. “A lot of these places are not coming back,” she said.

Back near the Ferguson police station, Hasson described occasionally getting yelled at by people who didn’t support their cause. Occasionally, someone would yell, “Go home,” or “Fuck you,” or “You don’t know why you’re out here.”

Many of the protesters described their frustrations with a system that locks people up for unpaid parking tickets. Despite having just over 21,000 residents, Ferguson issued over 32,000 arrest warrants for non-violent offenses — most of them driving violations — in 2013.

These concerns were shared by Keith Lloyd, 28, and Shay Taylor, 34, who joined the protest outside the police station.

“This has been going on for a long time, but now we tired,” Taylor said, holding her one-year-old son. “Enough is enough.”

Keith Lloyd and Shay Taylor joined a protest in Ferguson Wednesday night.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

US Says Oklahoma Schools Not Meeting Standards

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 5 min ago

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma is losing its independence to decide the best way to spend about $29 million in federal dollars to improve how students perform in its public schools, education officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to the state saying that Oklahoma's public school standards aren't sufficiently preparing students for college or careers and will no longer grant a waiver to let the state bypass some provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. That waiver gave the state flexibility on how to spend the money.

Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle said Oklahoma had promised to carry out plans to improve education for all students. But Oklahoma's Republican-dominated Legislature voted earlier this year to dump the so-called Common Core, saying the national standards were a federal intrusion in state jurisdiction over education. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed the law, which calls for Oklahoma to revert to the state standards in place in 2010.

Delisle told state officials they "can no longer demonstrate that the state's standards are college-and career-ready standards." Common Core standards are a national benchmark for what students should learn in such subjects as math and English that have been adopted in more than 40 states.

The decisions will leave Oklahoma with no say in how the $29 million of funding from the federal government is spent.

"The change means schools will have to re-examine their budgets and employment contracts to comply with the No Child Left Behind requirements," said a statement issued Thursday by Oklahoma's associations representing school board members, school administrators and suburban school districts.

The revocation of the waiver is immediate - save for a few provisions giving Oklahoma time to make some changes to its programs to comply with federal law the start of the 2015-2016 school year, the federal government said.

Indiana and Kansas were granted one-year waivers under the education law Thursday, allowing them to continue state-developed programs.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Few Americans Think The U.S. Has An Obligation To Defend Ukraine

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 18 min ago

Amid increasingly hostile Russian actions, less than one-third of Americans think the United States should defend Ukraine against actual Russian troops, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows.

According to the survey, only 29 percent of Americans think the U.S. has a responsibility to defend Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion, while 38 percent think it does not. Another 33 percent said they're not sure.

From the Ukrainian president's perspective, a Russian invasion has already occurred, although Russia has denied that its actions constitute an invasion. U.S. officials have appeared to studiously avoid using that term to describe what's happening there.

In the new poll, Democrats (by 38 percent to 21 percent) and independents (40 percent to 28 percent) were more likely to say that the U.S. does not have an obligation to defend Ukraine than that it does. A narrow plurality of Republicans (39 percent to 35 percent) said the U.S. does bear that responsibility.

The view that the U.S. has any obligation to help Ukraine has risen in recent months. In another HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in March, only 18 percent said the U.S. has a responsibility to defend that country, while 46 percent said it does not.

Although the latest poll shows relatively small support for an active defense of Ukraine, that doesn't mean most Americans want to back out of the conflict entirely. Fifty-eight percent said they support additional economic sanctions against Russia, while only 16 percent said they do not. Sixty-four percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans said they support strengthening sanctions.

Thirty-six percent of Americans said they think the U.S. reaction to Russia's actions so far has not been tough enough, while 27 percent said it has been about right and 5 percent said it has been too tough.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Aug. 23-25 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

'Anti-Immigrant' Jeff Sessions and Alabama's Racist Voter ID Law

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 18 min ago

Precious Memories, Part IV [Final].

I never expected to miss the Southland. Going north to Harvard and then west to law school, I returned South only once to law clerk for a federal judge in Mobile, Alabama. Then, it was directly back north to Manhattan.

As relayed in Part I of this series, the South has been increasingly on my mind and in my heart. After learning that Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions would face neither primary nor general election opposition, my Southern focus turned political.

Sessions is the Senate's most extreme anti-immigration, anti-environment, anti-women, anti-veteran, anti-health care ideologue. How could Alabama Democrats have failed to field an opponent to Sessions? The answer: Republicans have total control of Alabama state government. Alabama Democrats were demoralized by partisan ballot deadline shenanigans, a racist Voter ID law, and discriminatory legislative redistricting.

This brought strong memories of my years' clerking for U.S. District Judge Brevard Hand of the Southern District of Alabama. That is when I first met Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III. He was then U.S. Attorney in Mobile.

Now I return to Alabama federal court to demand ballot access to run against Jeff Sessions and to invalidate Alabama's Voter ID law. (Williams v. Bennett, No. Civ. 14: 890). As relayed in Part III of Precious Memories, however, it is in humble answer to a Macedonian call that I launch an "outside agitator" campaign.

Holding Court in Mobile and Selma (during deer season); "Moderate" U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions?

In hiring me from San Francisco (Hastings, J.D.), Judge Hand sought to annoy the good ole' boys surrounding him. I accepted the job with the understanding that I had an obligation to disagree with the unusual jurist. I was an in-chambers, "outside agitator."

John Grisham could not conjure more colorful and conflictive characters than those practicing law in the district's courthouses in Mobile. Judge Hand also presided at the Selma Courthouse, however, only during Alabama's deer hunting season. In a purposeful slight to Selma's historic place in Alabama's legal history, Judge Hand and all (male) chambers and court staff relocated for two weeks of rough communal living in a hunting camp in the woods outside the city during deer season. We went into Selma only for court. All per diem was pocketed rather than going to a Selma hotel.

After enduring a traditional hazing and finding my domestic refuge in the utopia-experiment of Fairhope across Mobile Bay, I gamely undertook my "outside-agitator" role for two years. Alabama became home.

In refreshing contrast to the many reactionary jesters in Hand's immediate court, I found U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions to be a relative moderate. Then, he betrayed none of the bias with which he was charged during his 1986 failed Senate confirmation hearings for a judgeship. I now confess error in that earlier assessment.

Sessions Turns Conservative, then Hard-Right; now Hard-Hearted

Jeff Sessions turned very conservative for his 1998 Senate victory and even more so for his two reelections. Beginning in 2011, he went reactionary, playing to the national Tea Party fringe. Fast forward to 2014 to find a hard-right and hard-hearted Jeff Sessions. With increasingly harsh rhetoric, he advances mean-spirited public policy initiatives against the weakest in our society - even against veterans' health care.

Sen. Sessions reserves his most caustic, reactionary rhetoric for damning hard-working immigrants and President Barack Obama's rational immigration efforts. Sessions' anti-immigrant passion seems more fetish than public policy.

Jim Crow Re-Dux: Alabama's Voter ID Violates Section 2 of Voting Rights Act and Fourteenth Amendment

I filed my federal lawsuit on August 25, 2014. Unless my ballot access litigation is successful, Jeff Sessions will essentially be "appointed" to the U.S. Senate for six years by state party bosses who gave him the GOP nomination. At stake is nothing less than the Seventeenth Amendment right of Alabamians to vote for their next U.S. Senator.

In future posts, I will share progress in the more complicated and challenging ballot access portion of the litigation. However, the litigation's additional challenge to Alabama's racially discriminatory Voter ID law is easier to explain and to win.

Alabama's photographic voter identification law places an unjustified burden on the right of racial minority citizens to vote. It is a facial violation of both the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The statute has a disproportionate impact on Blacks and Latinos and produces a "discriminatory result" that works to disenfranchise a wide-range of minority voters.

Renowned Auburn University Historian Wayne Flint has well-described the Alabama Voter ID regime in practice as "marginalizing black voters and Hispanic voters by challenging citizenship, by challenging residence, by challenging who they are."

Professor Flint details why the Voter ID law discriminates against racial minorities, ethnic groups, and those individuals on the outside of our economic/social majority system:

For an African American with no education, for an African American who has dropped out of every visible kind of system - worked in an underground economy, not paid taxes, got paid in cash - to get a photo ID is to get inside that system, which you do not trust and do not understand. It's even worse for Hispanics.

Worse than any Jim Crow poll tax, the Voter ID law attacks social and economically vulnerable citizens' very identity as they consider exercising their most precious freedom. It intimidates and threatens long before election day.

The Alabama GOP's widely-advertised "ransom" of $1000 for proof of Voter ID violations provides clear evidence of the statute's invidious discriminatory intent and effect.

As the NYU's Brennan Center reports, Alabama is not alone in this ugly effort.

The U.S. Department of Justice has recently brought Section 2 challenges
against Voter ID laws in various jurisdictions. State courts in Arkansas and Pennsylvania recently invalidated Voter ID laws.

Most recently, in Wisconsin, a federal trial court struck down a Voter ID statute similar to Alabama's law, finding that "plaintiffs have shown that the disproportionate impact of the photo ID requirement results from the interaction of the requirement with the effects of past or present discrimination." The opinion elegantly connected the socio-economic and race dots of Voter ID intimidation:
Blacks and Latinos in Wisconsin are disproportionately likely to live in poverty. Individuals who live in poverty are less likely to drive or participate in other activities for which a photo ID may be required (such as banking, air travel, and international travel) and so they obtain fewer benefits from possession of a photo ID than do individuals who can afford to participate in these activities.

Jim Crow has been at-large in the nation but has now returned home to Alabama. Through federal litigation and my continued campaign for the U.S. Senate (, I humbly answer the Macedonian call. In his LETTER FROM A BIRMINGHAM JAIL, Martin Luther King, Jr. explains why I must.

Earnestly, I ask others to join in this "outside-agitator" campaign to win back the Heart of Dixie.
Victor Williams is an attorney in Washington D.C. and clinical assistant professor at Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. Victor Williams founded the American Institute for Disruptive Innovation in Law and Politics -- Prof Williams is formally a candidate for the U.S. Senate for Alabama.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

'Everything Must Go' Pentagon Ad Spoofs Local Police Who Look Like They're Going Into Battle

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 31 min ago

We've already seen why putting an abundance of military-grade equipment in the hands of local police officers isn't the best idea in the world, but how and why is all this extra weaponry being passed out like candy?

While President Obama looks into that, perhaps this commercial parody poking fun at the Department of Defense's 1033 Program, which provides military equipment to local law enforcement, can explain why your local PD has been armed to the teeth lately.

If only things really were that simple. Watch the video, created by Reason TV, above.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

What Does It Feel Like to Be Racially Profiled?

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 36 min ago

This question originally appeared on Quora:What does it feel like to be racially profiled?

Answer by Raj Ramanan, Co-Founder, Loku

I am an American of Indian (sub-continental) descent, and I have been racially profiled. I can understand why this happens, but it can be frustrating at times, and occasionally humorous. Specific examples:

1) Airport security: As was mentioned several times on this thread, I have definitely been profiled in line. I was a consultant and traveled every week for 3 years. I started my career in 2000 and experienced a big change in how I was treated right after 9/11. For one project, I flew in and out of Wichita, KS for 9 months and my manager (middle aged, white) and I would bet on whether I'd be stopped for additional screening. I was stopped 75% of the time walking through the airport while he was stopped under 10% of the time. Since we flew out on the exact same flight every week (Thursday evening), we actually knew the security guards and TSA agents by name. Yet I was routinely stopped for a "random" screening. I saw the humor in it, but it was pretty ridiculous. On a different project, I was flying back from Portland, OR and was stopped for 3 separate screenings -- in the security line, upon entering our terminal, and a "random" screening at the gate. I was with older colleagues and laughed it off, but it was not fun to have my bags opened and be patted down in front of every one. Nowadays, I just "price in" the risk of extra time through the line.

2) Dating: Between set ups, blind dates, and approaching someone new in person, I have definitely been profiled. Women I ended up dating told me that they expected someone completely different (Indian stereotypes of being small in stature, socially awkward, having an accent, smelling like curry, etc.) before meeting and getting to know me. I've usually just treated this as funny and fodder for a good story, but it gets old.

3) Service: I've occasionally been mistaken for being of Hispanic descent, and there is a big difference in how I've been treated based on this assumption. Servers were initially rude or just spoke to me in Spanish before realizing their mistake, at which point they were more formal, polite, and spoke English.

At the end of the day, I get it; the human mind is absorbing so much information, it needs heuristics to make meaning quickly. We all make huge assumptions based on readily available data, such as gender, height, weight/build, and attractiveness. My co-founder at Loku, a white, male, 6'6" former athlete, gets treated like a dumb jock even though he was an opera major who ended up at Bain and KKR before founding a tech company.

Race is a charged topic in the US, but is just another readily available marker. I had just started my career and 9/11 was a very real, very painful tragedy. I lost a friend who worked at the World Trade Center. My colleagues were scared to fly. The world did not make sense as we understood it. Bad things didn't happen to us, they didn't happen in America. In that time, I can empathize with people looking for ways to feel safe. No matter how irrational, in the few seconds you have to evaluate a passenger boarding a flight, race is a quick way to profile. But so is age (20-30), gender (male), and other characteristics (one way flights, which we ended up booking often), all of which I also fit at the time.

All in all, yes I've been the target of racial profiling and yes I find it frustrating at times. But I'm human and have also been guilty of all kinds of stereotyping, including race based. I understand the mechanics behind it and can occasionally see the humor in it as well.


Answer by Jon Mixon, Tool and Die Machinist

Some thoughts (From experience):

1) If something criminal happens, guess who gets looked at first?- Regardless of what it is, the minority or racially profiled person get the first (and sometimes the only) "nod" when it comes to blame.

2) When you are walking, police vehicles slow down around you - While this makes most people nervous, it makes you (the racially profiled guy) VERY nervous as the police officer invariably follows you or will stop you and see what you are doing. Even if you have a dog on a leash and a bag for their mess, you'll be asked "What are you doing?"

3) You get plenty of attention in stores - Not much actual assistance, but plenty of attention. To the point it becomes ridiculous. Even a person who has no knowledge of store security has to realize that if they are all shadowing you, then they aren't watching other potential shoppers not of your ethnicity.

4) If you don't "sound" like you look, you can expect questions from the prejudiced so that they can "confirm your identity- My accent (do I have an accent?) would lend itself to make others believe that I'm not African American. Almost daily, I experience a scenario when someone who I talked with on the phone is "surprised" to see that I'm "Jon.". This invariably leads to questions to confirm my identity. At 47 years of age, I'll tolerate this briefly. But if your personal prejudice starts to become annoying or if I'm having a bad day, you can bet you, me and your manager will all be having "bad days."

5) I don't know every Black person at a particular location- We are all different, so if you ask me about someone who is Black that you know, there's a very good chances that I don't know them. If you aren't certain, assume that I don't.

6) I'm not African, Afro-Caribbean,Afro-European,Afro- Hispanic or some type of Negrito- I'm an American. I often have very little in common (other than skin color) with a person who is not an American. I'm not your "interpreter" and I have no way of knowing what they are "thinking" or what they are "feeling." Getting angry or upset about that really is going to improve the situation.

7) I'm not a criminal- If you suspect a thief, or a drug dealer, or a fugitive (see one of my postings about this) or a deadbeat dad, then it's not me - This is part of the reason that I often have had serious issues with law enforcement officers who I don't know. Out laziness or incompetence (or both) I have been stopped walking, riding a bike, driving my car (the times when I wasn't breaking the law), walking a dog even going into a bar because I "matched" a description of a person who the police were searching for at the time. I wasn't the person and the police didn't bother to apologize when they did this. The attitude I received is that I was in the wrong or out of place and that my presence (and lack of guilt) had somehow "inconvenienced" them.
I'm not an idiot - If I don't ask you about something, it might be a safe assumption to believe that I know something about it. I ask, then I don't know or I'm not certain. Numerous times, I have had people who barely understood concepts attempt to explain to me. When they are in positions of authority, it can be frustrating, and even embarrassing, as listening in silence is usually the only way to quickly end the situation.

8) Affirmative action probably isn't the reason that I got my job- Especially since now I primarily work contract around the US, people don't see me when they hire me. I'm being hired off of my resume, by a personal recommendation or after the results of a phone interview. Assuming that I somehow got my job because I'm African American is insulting to everyone and your assuming that is sign that you aren't engaging in critical thinking.

It is difficult to untangle stereotypes from racial profiling as they both often result in the same or similar behaviors. Both are frankly useless as they demonstrate that your own confirmation biases are the foundation for your thought processes, rather than critical thinking.


Answer by Kat Li, Stripe Growth Team

I'm pretty mixed without having any telltale signs of a particular lineage. As such, as a friend remarked, people tend to project onto me, deciding for themselves what my background is. Probably because I'm a small, dark-haired female who seems to pose no threat, this racial ambiguity usually leads to more humorous situations than not (I can't tell you how many times people have tried speaking me to in a language that I don't understand or at least don't speak natively because they think I'm "one of them"). However, I can clearly remember one instance that wasn't funny and was downright scary.

Several years ago I was studying abroad in Japan and living in a homestay in Kyoto. My host family was wonderful and even provided me with a bike left by a previous exchange student to use around the city. I didn't often bike to school because I didn't have a death wish but I did use it to go to the grocery store and run small errands near the house.

One day, I biked to the post office nearby to send a Mother's Day package. I locked my bike outside and it took me about 10 minutes to finish my task. When I came back outside, in the process of unlocking my bike, I was approached by two police officers. At this point, I was still in my first year of learning Japanese and pretty terrible at both speaking and understanding keigo (honorific speech). They kept asking me questions in keigo and I struggled not only to respond but to even figure out what they were saying to me. I did understand that they were asking for my alien card and passport, both of which I luckily had on me. They were also asking me a lot of questions about the bicycle which I didn't really understand. I tried to explain that it wasn't mine, it was my host family's but they let me use it. I called my host mother in hopes that she could corroborate my story but she didn't pick up.

Eventually I came to understand that they weren't detaining me but wanted to speak to her. So, at this point, with their permission, I walked home, shaking too much to be able to be able to mount and ride my bike. They didn't come in but they followed me home and parked right outside the house. It was completely unnerving -- my room was at the front of the house and I could see them just sitting out there, watching the house. Did they think I was going to run? Were they just waiting to talk to my host mom? What were the neighbors thinking? Why was this happening? What did they even think I had done wrong? I had no idea.

After about thirty minutes, they left without saying anything. I found out later from my host mom, whom they had managed to contact, that they had thought I was stealing the bicycle when they saw me. When they questioned me about its registration, I hadn't understood but even if I had, it wasn't properly registered under my name. It was still registered under the last exchange student in some sort of process that I didn't really understand.

The real problem was that they had thought I was Brazilian and had experienced a streak of Brazilian bicycle thefts at some point. Once that was explained to me, a lot of things made sense -- now I understood why they became so nice, friendly, and apologetic upon seeing my American passport. Even though it had been an act of racial profiling, once they were convinced I was no threat, they only continued out of a feeling of duty.

So, how did it feel? It felt incredibly scary, like the world had turned upside down. Here was a situation in which I, goody-two-shoes little old me, was being suspected of a crime that I didn't do. It felt surreal -- like I was in a familiar play in which the protagonist is being convicted of a crime in a language that they don't understand. I had no way of defending myself, the little Japanese I did know was lost in the flood of fear.

It was the first time anything of that level had happened to me personally. It made me question the world, and, Japan. I think that if I hadn't had so many positive memories before and after this experience, I would have felt much more bitter and suspicious of Japan in general. I'm well aware that I was lucky -- like I said, I pose no physical threat, had an American passport, and was approached by very polite officers. But now I have a glimpse into what it might be like for those who had no such defense or comforts. The entire experience left me shaken and more empathetic to all of those who've dealt with far, far worse and more serious of situations of racial profiling.

More questions on Quora:

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Michigan Medicaid expansion works

Daily Kos Michigan Feed - 3 hours 37 min ago

But how will it play in Peoria? Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) needs some good news as he's upside down in polling for the first time this year against Democrat Mark Schauer. This might not be the good news he's needing.

Michigan's Medicaid expansion how now reached 75 percent of the total eligible, to 373,171 people. For those Michigan citizens, that's fantastic. For Snyder's reelection campaign, it might help. For his possible presidential ambitions, a disaster.

It's the same old story for swing state Republicans. If they want to keep their current political hopes alive, they've got to acknowledge reality and do the things that people want them to do, like expand Medicaid (see Gov. Tom Corbett [R-PA]). But doing the right thing is the last thing that's going to enamor them with the Republican base.

Categories: Local and Michigan Blogs

5 Reasons Why Black Lives Matter

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 39 min ago

Stacia L. Brown wears a lot of hats. The Baltimore-based single mother of a 4-year-old serves as Colorlines’ Community Engagement Fellow, teaches writing at a local college, runs Beyond Baby Mamas and Bellow, and still finds the time and energy to write—beautifully. Over the past couple of weeks, sparked by the police killing of Michael Brown, she has been writing essays about the slain teen, police brutality, parenting and black vulnerability. Brown posted what became a five-essay series on her personal website,

Here, we share excerpts with you:

Categories: Political News and Opinion

A Growing Minority Of Americans Think We're Too Isolationist

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 44 min ago

Rising concern about international threats has caused some Americans to reassess how active the U.S. should be abroad, a new Pew/USA Today poll

While the wide majority of Americans still think the U.S. does too much or the right amount to help solve the world's problems, the number who say the U.S. should be doing more has nearly doubled since last fall, while the faction who say it should do less has diminished.

Members of both parties, as well as independents, are now more likely to say the U.S. should be doing more, but the change is especially pronounced among the GOP. Forty-six percent of Republicans now say the U.S. does too little, up from only 18 percent last November.

President Barack Obama wins few plaudits on international relations. A 54-percent majority of Americans say he isn't tough enough on national security, up from his first term but little changed since last fall. Barely more than a third of Americans approve of his handling of situations in Russia, Israel and Iraq. Other surveys show his overall foreign policy rating at the worst it's been during his presidency.

Recent polling has also demonstrated the U.S.'s strong, if slightly muddled, isolationist streak, with Americans looking for their country to be less active in international affairs, while still projecting an image of strength.

The Pew/USA Today results, however, suggest some level of recalibration on what role the U.S. should play in a world that 65 percent say is more dangerous than it was several years ago. While concern about al Qaeda has remained steady, worries about Russia have also risen, and two-thirds now also view the Islamic State as a major threat.

The shift in opinions isn't only at an abstract level. Support for U.S. air strikes in Iraq grew significantly after they went from a hypothetical possibility to a policy announced by President Barack Obama. A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in June found just 44 percent in favor of air strikes; by late August, that figure rose to 66 percent, although most remained adamantly opposed to any U.S. ground presence.

The Pew/USA Today poll used live calls to landlines and cell phones to survey 1,501 Americans between Aug. 20 and Aug. 24.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Lawsuit Claims Police Brutality At Ferguson Protests

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 46 min ago

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal lawsuit alleges that police in Ferguson and St. Louis County used excessive force and falsely arrested innocent bystanders amid attempts to quell widespread unrest after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The five plaintiffs in the suit filed Thursday include a clinical social worker who says she and her 17-year-old son were roughed up and arrested after not evacuating a McDonald's quickly enough. A 23-year-old man says he was shot multiple times with rubber bullets and called racial slurs while walking through the protest zone to his mother's home. And one man says he was arrested for filming the disturbances.

The lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages. Attorney Malik Shabazz said it could be broadened to include additional plaintiffs. Official in Ferguson and Clayton declined comment.

Categories: Political News and Opinion