MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Gun-Pointing Cop Who Threatened to Kill Ferguson Protesters Is Suspended <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, were relatively calm yesterday, especially compared to <a href="" target="_blank">previous nights</a> where heavily armed police have responded to protests with tear gas and arrests. But there was at least one police officer who took things a little too far. In this video, an unidentified officer points a rifle at journalists and others walking in the street and warns, "I'll fucking kill you." (NSFW language in the clip.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe><br> Somebody off-camera asks for his name and the officer replies, "Go fuck yourself." Soon afterward, a county police sergeant comes and ushers the officer away. Earlier today the <a href="" target="_blank">ACLU asked for the officer to be removed</a> from Ferguson. The St. Louis County Police Department has announced that the <a href="" target="_blank">officer has been suspended</a>, according to the <em>Washington Post</em>:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Update from <a href="">@stlcountypd</a> re: police officer's "inappropriate" actions overnight in <a href="">#Ferguson</a> <a href="">@kmov</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Laura Hettiger KMOV (@LauraKHettiger) <a href="">August 20, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Wed, 20 Aug 2014 23:13:06 +0000 AJ Vicens 258801 at Meet the Locals Trying to Keep the Peace in Ferguson <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Peace prevailed last night in Ferguson, Missouri&mdash;for the most part. There were a few bottles hurled at the cops, and dozens of arrests, but no gunshots, looting, teargas plumes, or fusillades of rubber bullets. Largely to thank for this turn of events are the Peacekeepers, a group comprised of mostly of Ferguson and St. Louis locals who've been physically inserting themselves between police and rowdy protesters over the past few days in an effort to diffuse tensions.</p> <p>The Peacekeepers' unofficial leader is Paul Muhammad, a linebacker-sized guy from St. Louis who favors fatigues but reportedly speaks in the soft tones of a therapist. Little is known about Muhammad, who did not immediately return a call from <em>Mother Jones</em>. "If you are going to be out here all night, I will be out here all night. Let's just go home," he told a teenager with a red bandanna over his face last night, <a href="" target="_blank">according</a> to <em>Newsweek</em>'s Robert Klemko. A few minutes later, someone from a fringe group of onlookers hurled a water bottle and police moved in to disperse the crowd.</p> <p>Members of the Peacekeepers have been active during the late-night protests since at least Wednesday, when Renita Lamkin, an African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor, <a href="" target="_blank">was shot with a rubber bullet</a> while attempting to mediate between police and protesters:</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>Over the next few days, Lamkin helped form the ad-hoc Peacekeepers group. Many volunteers turned out in response <a href="" target="_blank">to a call</a> during an August 12 church service by Rev. Al Sharpton for 100 men to step forward to be "Disciples of Justice" to keep the peace in the area.</p> <p>The idea to make "Peacekeepers" shirts to help differentiate the group from other protestors was Muhammad's, Lamkin told me. He posted a request on his Facebook page and the next day the shirts arrived. They're now worn by about 10 to 12 people who conduct the nightly patrols. Here's Lamkin in hers last night:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Lamkin-web.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Pastor Renita Lamkin </strong></div> </div> <p>Lamkin sees the Peacekeepers as a critical way to protect both police and protesters. "We don't want police officers injured and we don't want our young people's lives altered," she told me. "I often tell young people: "Don't make permanent decisions in a temporary place. In this one moment, don't do something that is going to result in a permanent decision for your life."</p> <p>The Peacekeepers have learned a few important lessons since last week. Since Sunday night, when Lamkin got pushed into side streets by police and cut off from her car, the group now keeps someone "on the outside" who can pick up people who've been cordoned off from the action. On Tuesday night, she ferried several loads of people back to their own cars.</p> <p>When people ask Lamkin whose side she's on, she replies that she's "on the side of life." Her goal, she clarifies, is "preserving life" so that "everybody goes home."</p> <p>"The people trust us and they know that we care about them," she says. "So there's the difference: It's the difference love brings to a situation."</p> <p>"I ain't expecting the police to love on folks; they're there to do a job," she adds. "Our job is to bring the love."</p></body></html> Politics Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Ferguson Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:58:18 +0000 Josh Harkinson 258791 at Remembering James Foley, and the Awful Calculus of a Hostage's Family <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When I first saw the image of James Foley kneeling before a masked Islamic State member gripping a knife, I wanted to look away, forget, and go for a walk outside. I know the dragging uncertainty of living years and months in the power of someone who sees you as a lever against their enemy. I have a hint of the hot, tingling numbness one feels&nbsp;realizing this could be one's&nbsp;last hour alive.</p> <p>People who have lived through hostage situations know who the survivors are. We don't like to think about the ones who didn't make it while we are here, alive, free and moving on.</p> <p>People who once were in these situations are almost always connected in some way to those who are in them now. I never knew James, but I'd been asked to weigh in on his case more than once. This happens with some regularity: Americans seem to be kidnapped more and more around the world, used as leverage against the US government. When someone like James goes missing, people scramble to do something&mdash;anything&mdash;they think will help. Many will have the sensible idea to contact others who have been in a similar situation. At the time, people thought James was being held by the Syrian government, and people thought a statement from myself, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">held as hostages</a> by the Iranian government for two years&mdash;might grab the attention of someone in a position to put pressure on his captors.</p> <p>I declined these requests, because I was afraid it could hurt rather than help; after all, Josh and I were convicted of espionage by Assad's allies in Iran.</p> <p>James' family has had to endure many calculations like these. Like my family, they probably sometimes thought they should do more to try and convince&nbsp;his captors to let him go. Other times they likely reasoned they should stay quiet, hoping that silence would give the hostage takers the opportunity to quietly release him. It's a hideous position&nbsp;to be in.</p> <p>James was kidnapped twice. The first time was in Libya, in 2011. Two weeks after he was released, <a href="" target="_blank">he told an interviewer</a>, "If reporters, if we don't try to get really close to what these guys&mdash;men, women, Americans&mdash;and now, with this Arab revolution, young Arab men&mdash;are experiencing, we don't understand the world, essentially." This is true. Without people like James on the ground, it is impossible to understand what is happening in places like Syria. And without understanding, how do we decide what to do (or not to do)?</p> <p>James went to Syria to report on the most deadly war in the world. More than 9 million people have been driven out of their homes. The country is also the most dangerous place to be a journalist&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">at least 66 have been killed</a> there since 2010. Most of these were Syrian. Countless journalists are still missing. In the video claiming to show James being beheaded, ISIS showed another kidnapped American journalist, Stephen Sotloff. It warned that he, too, would be executed if the United States did not end its intervention in Iraq.</p> <p>After the video of his execution was released, James' parents posted a comment on Facebook: "We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people." Like the deaths of more than 100,000 Syrians, it's hard to find anything in James' death but tragedy. But in life he was braver than most of us, and committed to something much bigger than himself. That's what I want to remember.</p></body></html> Politics Human Rights Iraq Military Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:51:01 +0000 Shane Bauer 258756 at Housekeeping Note <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>That's it for the day. I'm off to the hospital for yet another test that will undoubtedly show nothing wrong with me. But you don't know until you look, do you? See you tomorrow.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:28:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 258781 at Do Liberals Rely Too Much on Guilt? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Tim F. makes an observation:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Spend some time following internet conversations about your liberal cause of the day (global warming, racial injustice, etc) and eventually someone will get to the nut of why the issue pisses many people off: they think activists want them to feel guilty and they don&rsquo;t want to feel guilty. That&rsquo;s pretty much it. A huge part of our failure to do anything about the climate disaster or racist asshole cops comes from people protecting their delicate ego.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. But I'd take this a little more seriously, because it's probably something that genuinely hurts lefty causes. It's human nature to get defensive when you feel guilty, and it's hard to recruit defensive folks to your cause. If this were only an occasional problem, that would be one thing. But let's be honest: We really do rely on guilt a lot. You should feel guilty about using plastic bags. About liking college football. About driving an SUV. About eating factory-farmed beef. About using the wrong word to refer to a transgender person. About sending your kids to a private school. And on and on and on.</p> <p>We all contribute to this, even when we don't mean to. And maybe guilt is inevitable when you're trying to change people's behavior. But it adds up, and over time lefties can get to seem a little unbearable. You have to be so damn careful around us!</p> <p>I don't really have any useful advice about this. Maybe there's nothing much to be done about it. But egos, delicate or otherwise, are just a part of the human condition. We ignore them at our peril.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:05:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 258771 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 20, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>After a training mission, F-15 Eagles of the US Air Force fly over wildland fires in Southern Oregon. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1408556087628_1472">(High-G Productions photo by Jim "Hazy" Hazeltine.)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:40:20 +0000 258766 at From Anarchists to Tibetan Monks, Here Are Some of the Outsiders Joining Protests in Ferguson <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>"Crisis is the leading edge where change is possible," Lisa Fithian, an itinerant protest organizer, <a href="" target="_blank">once told me</a>. Nowhere does that seem more true right now than in Ferguson, Missouri, where ongoing protests have drawn attention to a deep national vein of racial animus. It's not surprising, then, that national figures have begun parachuting into town: the Reverends <a href="" target="_blank">Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton</a>, actress <a href="" target="_blank">Keke Palmer</a>, Twitter cofounder <a href="" target="_blank">Jack Dorsey</a><a href="" target="_blank">&mdash;and the list goes on</a>. The threat of "outside agitators" is a meme that has accompanied protests dating back to the civil rights era and beyond. But in Ferguson, there are indeed complaints from local organizers that some outsiders are making the situation worse.</p> <p>On Monday, when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed an order to bring in the National Guard, he <a href="" target="_blank">cited</a> "violent and criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state." On Tuesday, US Sen. Claire McCaskill <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> on MSNBC that the protesters "have now been invaded&hellip;by a group of instigators, some coming from other states, that want a confrontation with police." An officer told the <em>Washington Post</em> that visitors to Ferguson are engaging in "looting tourism."</p> <p>Arrest statistics appear to bear them out, up to a point. Of the 78 people arrested Monday night, police <a href="" target="_blank">told reporters</a>, 68 percent were from the St. Louis metro area, but 18&mdash;or 23 percent&mdash;had come from out of state, some from as far away as New York and California.</p> <p>So who are these outsiders, and what do they want? I went looking for every nonlocal organization claiming to have members protesting in Ferguson, from fringe to mainstream. Here are some I found:</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/08/outside-groups-protests-ferguson"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Ferguson Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Josh Harkinson 258701 at Let Us Now Psychoanalyze Famous Men (And Their Photographs) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_holder_ferguson.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Bob Somerby calls my attention to the following bit of psychobabble from Peter Baker and Matt Apuzzo of the <em>New York Times</em>. The subject is a <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">photo released by the White House:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Mr. Holder, 63, is the one leaning forward,</strong> both in the photograph released by the White House and on the issues underlying the crisis in Ferguson, Mo. A child of the civil rights era, he grew up shaped by the images of violence in Selma, Ala., and joined sit-ins at Columbia University where protesters renamed an office after Malcolm X. Now in high office, he pushes for policy changes and is to fly on Wednesday to Ferguson to personally promise justice in the case of a black teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer.</p> <p><strong>Mr. Obama, 53, is the one seemingly holding back in the White House photograph,</strong> contemplative, even brooding, as if seeking to understand how events could get so out of hand. He was too young and removed to experience the turmoil of the 1960s, growing up in a multiracial household in Hawaii and Indonesia. As he now seeks balance in an unbalanced time, he wrestles with the ghosts of history that his landmark election, however heady, failed to exorcise.</p> </blockquote> <p>Seriously? Take a look at other photographs of Obama when he's conferring with someone. Take a look at other photographs of <em>any</em> powerful person when they're conferring with an underling. The boss is the one who's free to lounge back and relax. The underling is the one who has to lean forward and make his case. This is standard body language. Obama uses it so often that in just the August "Photo of the Day" gallery alone, I count it in three out of four photos where Obama is conferring with other people.</p> <p>Look, I've been there. You want to say something interesting. You need a hook. But come on. If you want to make the case that racial issues are more immediate for Holder than for Obama, go ahead. But don't pretend that a bog ordinary White House photograph tells you anything. That's just embarrassing. Before long you'll be hiring body language "experts" and handwriting "analysts" to help you with your leads. Here be dragons.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Obama Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:12:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 258751 at US Sent Thousands of Sailors to Help With Fukushima. Did Radiation Make Them Sick? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> was originally published by the&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank">Guardian</a> <em>and is reproduced here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration. The article was reported by the&nbsp;</em>Guardian<em>'s Suzanne Goldenberg, and the video was produced by Climate Desk's James West.</em></p> <p>The first time it occurred to James Jackson that there could be lasting damage from his US Navy service during Japan's tsunami and nuclear disaster came when his eldest son, Darius, was diagnosed with leukemia.</p> <p>Darius, now 15, spent a month in hospital in early 2013, soon after his diagnosis. "I thought I was going to have to bury him," Jackson recalled. The teenager who aspired to play college basketball now has a catheter in his chest and is too frail to run the length of the court.</p> <p>Jackson, a Navy information technologist, was stationed with his family at Yokosuka, Japan, when&nbsp;<a href="">an earthquake and tsunami</a>&nbsp;knocked out the cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011, causing a triple meltdown.</p> <p>He acknowledges he can't know for sure why Darius got leukemia&mdash;but Jackson remains convinced there is a connection to the radiation escape from the Fukushima disaster, and he blames the Japanese electric company, Tepco.</p> <p>On August 25, a district court judge in San Diego will decide whether the Jacksons&mdash;and around 110 other US Navy sailors and Marines&mdash;can proceed with a $1 billion lawsuit that accuses Tepco of failing to avoid the accident and of lying about the levels of radiation from the stricken reactors, putting US personnel at risk.</p> <p>"I don't think the Navy or the United States government would have let us stay there in the region. They would have gotten us out of there probably within the first 48 or 72 hours if they knew then what they know now," Jackson said. "The issue is that we have this large company, this large enterprise, feeding the Japanese government and the rest of the world bad information. They could have come to the forefront and said, 'Hey we need help,' instead of trying to put a blanket over it."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/08/fukushima-radiation-us-sailors-navy"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Video Climate Desk International Top Stories Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:37:11 +0000 Suzanne Goldenberg and James West 258741 at Barack Obama Loathes Congress as Much as You Do <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ezra Klein responds to a <em>New York Times</em> article about President Obama's <a href="" target="_blank">chilly relationship with his fellow Democrats:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama <em>does</em> see socializing with Hill Democrats as a chore. But there's a lot that Obama sees as a chore and commits to anyway. The presidency, for all its power, is full of drudgery; there are ambassadors to swear in and fundraisers to attend and endless briefings on issues that the briefers don't even really care about. <strong>The reason Obama doesn't put more effort into stroking congressional Democrats is he sees it as a <em>useless</em> chore.</strong></p> <p>The <em>Times</em> article...never names a bill that didn't pass or a nominee who wasn't confirmed because Obama's doesn't spend more time on the golf course with members of Congress. The closest it comes is...not very close. "In interviews, nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers and senior congressional aides suggested that Mr. Obama's approach has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office."</p> <p>This is ridiculous. There are no issues erupting at home or abroad where the problem is that House or Senate Democrats won't vote with the president. There's no legislation of importance to President Obama's legacy that would pass if only House Democrats had spent more time at the White House. I've listened to a lot of Democratic members of Congress complain about Obama's poor relationships on the Hill. Each time, my follow-up question is the same: "what would have passed if Obama had better relationships on the Hill?" Each time, the answer is the same: a shake of the head, and then, "nothing."</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd probably give a little more credit to schmoozing than this. But only a very little. At the margins, there are probably times when having a good relationship with a committee chair will speed up action or provide a valuable extra vote or two on a bill or a nominee. And Obama has the perfect vehicle for doing this regularly since he loves to play golf. But for the most part Klein is right. There's very little evidence that congressional schmoozing has more than a tiny effect on things. Members of Congress vote the way they want or need to vote, and if they respond to anyone, it's to party leaders, interest groups, and fellow ideologues. In days gone by, presidents could coerce votes by working to withhold money from a district, or by agreeing to name a crony as the local postmaster, but those days are long gone. There's really very little leverage that presidents have over members of Congress these days, regardless of party.</p> <p>Obama is an odd duck. It's not just that he doesn't schmooze. As near as I can tell, he has a barely concealed contempt for Congress. He doesn't really enjoy playing the political game, and not just because it's gotten so rancid in recent years. Even if Republicans were acting like a normal political party these days, I still don't think he'd enjoy it much. And yet, he spent years campaigning for the top political job in the United States. It's a little bit of a mystery, frankly.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Obama Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:56:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 258746 at