Sunday, February 28, 2016

Last Call For Slept Away

I've been asked by a reader to take a look at another Black Lives Matter story, this time in Inglewood, CA where two are dead in a police shooting that seems tremendously suspicious to me.

Both the man and woman who were mortally wounded during an officer involved shooting were unconscious when Inglewood police first responded to where they were sitting in a car, said Inglewood Mayor James Butts Tuesday in response to questions about the incident. 
For at least 45 minutes, police attempted "to rouse" them in an effort "to de-escalate the situation," said Butts. It is the first public explanation for what transpired early Sunday morning during the time between the initial call and the shooting. Police previously had stated responding officers saw the woman had a gun, retreated to behind cover, and then gave orders for the couple to exit the vehicle.

"Obviously at some point they were conscious because somebody felt threatened," said Butts, a retired law enforcement officer who previously had served as police chief in other cities. He said it is important for police to finish their investigation, and verify facts, before commenting further.

During his comments, Mayor Butts made a point of extending his condolences to the families of those who died.

"It's more tragic because they had children," Butts said. 
The deceased have been identified by family members as Kisha Michael, 31, a single mother of three sons, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, a single father of four daughters.  
Michael's twin sister Trisha has said it is possible that returning home after a night out, Kisha may have passed out in the car.  
Police have made no comment on what specific threat officers perceived.  
The families have demanded explanations and expressed frustration. 
"The police ain't telling us nothing," said Trisha Michael.

Nor has experience told me that the police ever will tell the family anything, other than a load of crap.  Are you seriously telling me that some Inglewood cops gunned down people asleep in their car?  Somehow they were a threat?  The cops opened up with rifles on the car because they "thought" they saw a gun?

This is depressing and stupid, even for police killing of black lives.  Now we hear that the police involved have changed their story?

This one is rotten as hell, guys.

Hillary The Hawk

As Hillary Clinton rolled to an easy victory in South Carolina last night, NY Times writers Jo Becker and Scott Shane apparently have little time to waste ahead of Super Tuesday pinning the Obama administration's regime change in Libya and its less-than-successful outcome squarely on Hillary's "smart power" doctrine.

BY THE TIME Mahmoud Jibril cleared customs at Le Bourget airport and sped into Paris, the American secretary of state had been waiting for hours. But this was not a meeting Hillary Clinton could cancel. Their encounter could decide whether America was again going to war.

In the throes of the Arab Spring, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was facing a furious revolt by Libyans determined to end his quixotic 42-year rule. The dictator’s forces were approaching Benghazi, the crucible of the rebellion, and threatening a blood bath. France and Britain were urging the United States to join them in a military campaign to halt Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, and now the Arab League, too, was calling for action.

President Obama was deeply wary of another military venture in a Muslim country. Most of his senior advisers were telling him to stay out. Still, he dispatched Mrs. Clinton to sound out Mr. Jibril, a leader of the Libyan opposition. Their late-night meeting on March 14, 2011, would be the first chance for a top American official to get a sense of whom, exactly, the United States was being asked to support.

In her suite at the Westin, she and Mr. Jibril, a political scientist with a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, spoke at length about the fast-moving military situation in Libya. But Mrs. Clinton was clearly also thinking about Iraq, and its hard lessons for American intervention.

Did the opposition’s Transitional National Council really represent the whole of a deeply divided country, or just one region? What if Colonel Qaddafi quit, fled or was killed — did they have a plan for what came next?

“She was asking every question you could imagine,” Mr. Jibril recalled.

Mrs. Clinton was won over. Opposition leaders “said all the right things about supporting democracy and inclusivity and building Libyan institutions, providing some hope that we might be able to pull this off,” said Philip H. Gordon, one of her assistant secretaries. “They gave us what we wanted to hear. And you do want to believe.”

 And then we get into the brutal truth.

Her conviction would be critical in persuading Mr. Obama to join allies in bombing Colonel Qaddafi’s forces. In fact, Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, would later say that in a “51-49” decision, it was Mrs. Clinton’s support that put the ambivalent president over the line.

The consequences would be more far-reaching than anyone imagined, leaving Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven, a place where the direst answers to Mrs. Clinton’s questions have come to pass.

This is the story of how a woman whose Senate vote for the Iraq war may have doomed her first presidential campaign nonetheless doubled down and pushed for military action in another Muslim country. As she once again seeks the White House, campaigning in part on her experience as the nation’s chief diplomat, an examination of the intervention she championed shows her at what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state. It is a working portrait rich with evidence of what kind of president she might be, and especially of her expansive approach to the signal foreign-policy conundrum of today: whether, when and how the United States should wield its military power in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

There is a reason I didn't vote for Clinton in 2008, even living in Kentucky where I knew Barack Obama had no electoral chance.  As much as I think Bernie Sanders really doesn't have a grasp of foreign policy issues, and Donald Trump's grasp of them is that of a six-year-old with a shiny red button marked "Blow shit up!", Hillary Clinton has extensive foreign policy experience, and that more than anything else makes me wish for an Obama third term.

I will settle for Sanders or Clinton.  Trump will have started WW III by this time next year.  But yes, let us not forget Hillary is a hawk, and Libya is a mess that we rarely hear about because Syria is so much worse right now.

I'd dare say that the Libya mess made us so hesitant on Syria that we under-reacted to Assad.  If we had not gone after Qaddafi, would Assad still be an issue?  Probably, but it's worth mulling over when you go to the primary polls.

Yes, I would still vote for Hillary or Bernie over any Republican.  But I'm still not sure which one I want, and there are things I like and dislike about both.

It's the timing of the article I question, especially given this.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in his bid to become President of the United States this morning on "Meet the Press." She also resigned as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Just last month, she said she couldn't take sides due to her position with the DNC.

Gabbard specifically pointed to Sanders' position on military intervention as part of her endorsement reasoning.

"As a veteran, as a soldier, I've seen firsthand the true cost of war. … As we look at our choices as to who our next Commander-in-chief will be is to recognize the necessity to have a Commander-in-chief who has foresight. Who exercises good judgment. Who looks beyond the consequences -- who looks at the consequences of the actions that they are willing to take before they take those actions. So that we don't continue to find ourselves in these failures that have resulted in chaos in the Middle East and so much loss of life," Gabbard said.

So the same time this article drops,  Rep. Gabbard resigns from the DNC to back Bernie over Hillary's hawk positions, both dropping the day after Bernie gets cremated in SC by 45 points.

That's not a coincidence, considering Super Tuesday is in less than 72 hours.  Taken collectively, that bothers me.

We'll see.

Sunday Long Read: Thrown Away

Detroit Metro Times reporter Allie Gross covers the murders of seven trans women over five years, and the stories these women left behind are terrifying examples of brutal violence, crushing poverty, and bigotry that turns deadly.

AT 10:21 A.M. On a smotheringly humid July morning this past summer, a woman on Detroit's west side dialed 9-1-1.

Six minutes later, a second call came through. The message was more or less the same: A lady, who appeared to be naked, was lying in the intersection of McGraw and 25th Street. She was possibly moving. Maybe hit by a car.

When first responder Officer Michelle Jones arrived at the scene she found a 25-year-old transgender woman, who would later be identified as Ashton O'Hara, lying in a pool of her own blood. Dressed in nothing but a black tank top, red bra, and black footies, Ashton was naked from the waist down. A wig lay 50 feet away from her body. She had been discarded and left behind, like the cracked hubcaps and plastic soda bottles littering the rest of the street.

Shallow breaths puffed Ashton's sternum skyward, an indication to Officer Jones that the victim was still alive. But barely. Ashton had been run over by a car not once but twice and both of her shins were severely fractured, causing tremendous blood loss. The leg injuries were just the beginning. Ashton's body was riddled with stab wounds. Medical examiner Jeffrey Hudson would later testify that many of the cuts were on Ashton's outer wrists. Crossing his arms like a shield and holding them in front of his face, Hudson would explain that the location of the gashes are typically suggestive of self-defense.

At 11:17 a.m., upon arrival at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, Ashton was pronounced dead. While she didn't have an ID on her, rumors of the murder skittered across town. Within the hour, Ashton's mom, Rebecca O'Hara, was at the hospital. She identified her child's body and buried Ashton the following Monday.

"It was just overwhelming," O'Hara says, dabbing away tears as she sits in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in downtown Detroit, waiting for the jury to deliberate in the trial of Larry Gaulding, the man who killed her "Woogie" — a nickname Ashton was given as a toddler because of the way she used to laugh when being tickled — just five months earlier.

Since Ashton was a little kid playing with Barbie dolls and testing out different shades of nail polish, O'Hara wrestled with anxiety about her child's interests and identity. Not because of who Ashton was, but because of what the world was.

The anxiety calcified as Ashton grew into an adult.

While O'Hara was aware of America's seeming progression toward gay rights and equality — as well as the uptick in trans-visibility in mainstream media, including the 16.9 million people who tuned in to watch Caitlyn Jenner's 20/20 special — she was also clued in to the less appetizing facts.

Facts like: One in four transgender people lives in extreme poverty, with an income of less than $10,000 a year. Nearly 25 percent of trans people in Michigan who took part in the last comprehensive survey of the population said they became homeless because of their gender identity and/or expression. Ten percent of trans people drop out of school because of bullying — something Ashton decided to do after the ninth grade.

O'Hara knew these facts and she knew how they translated to real life. She knew that because of job discrimination and a lack of opportunities and education, many trans women, specifically trans women of color like Ashton, turn to survival economies, like sex work, to get by. And she also knew how dangerous this could be, hearing stories of trans women coming up missing, being shot, or found in dumpsters after nights on the "stroll" — a stretch of Woodward between Six Mile and Seven Mile, where Johns look for transgender women for dates.

O'Hara knew that while the LGBTQ community had PRIDE and other celebratory festivities, the trans community had Trans Remembrance Day, a day to honor those who lost their lives to violence and hate. A day defined by grief and mourning, not progress and hope.

These were the realities that were on her mind. She feared that the world, despite all its real and apparent headway, wasn't truly ready for biological boys who liked to wear mascara and mini-skirts.

So when the call summoned O'Hara to DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, when she learned of her child's death and the circumstances behind it, the news was harrowing but also — and her whole body tightens up as she says this — anticipated.

"It was something I was scared of," she says, "for a very long time."

It's sobering even by standards of Sunday Long Reads.  America has come far, but the journey is by no means complete.
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