The circus of the Zimmerman Trial

July 16, 2013

The whole Zimmerman trial is a prime example of why our Mainstream Media is broke.  First of all there has been around the clock coverage of a simple murder/manslaughter trial of one person.  Normally such an incident would garner little more than the local news.  However, the media saw a racial angle to the story and became obsessed with it.  This shows how our politically correct elites are obsessed with race and perceived racism everywhere.  They have internalized an emotional narrative in which blacks are noble victims and whites are hateful racists.   If the Zimmerman case were a typical black on black, or white on white crime, no one would care.  But suddenly because the shooter is partially white, and the shootee is black, then suddenly it transforms into a narrative morality tale of racism.  There is a huge disconnect between what the average person thinks of the trial, and what the elites generally think of it.  Average people generally think the whole thing is overblown.  The elites generally do not.  Below is a link to comments from yahoo news.

Aside from that, the MSM has a tradition of obscessing over trivial things, such as the Ana Nicole Smith death.  We have more important news to worry about like the NSA scandal and what our leaders are doing.  Maybe the MSM likes to push trivial stories to keep people distracted from the real news going on?  Bread and circus.


The Consequences of the Massive Debt that we are in

July 16, 2013

Here is an interesting interview talking about the fact that once debt has been accumulated over decades there is no easy solution solution to get rid of it.  The debt has to be confronted and the pain has to be worked thru.  Currently politicians want the easy magical solutions.  Central banks the last few years have been loading on debt and keeping interest rates historically low in a desperate attempt to revive the economy all without effect.



The beginning of the end for Cannabis prohibition

July 16, 2013

I agree with The Young Turks, this is the beginning of the end for Cannabis prohibition.  Two states have recently legalized the plant, and many others have permitted it for medical use.  A few years this would have been unthinkable, but times change.  When Bill Clinton proposed ending discrimination against homosexuals in the military in the early 90s, there was a huge backlash, the measure was withdrawn and the whole controversy hurt his presidency.  Just a few months ago Obama did the same thing, and won praise from his own party.  The measure was successful.  A few years ago Spain tried to ban smoking in public buildings, and the law failed.  A few years after that the government tried again and the law was respected.

I think the same thing is happening in America, probably because most of population are baby boomers or younger, and most of them have at least tried pot and generally come out none the worse for wear.  In the end the hysteria against cannabis does not match the reality, and people know it.  And time is only proving to reenforce the point.  As states legalize cannabis and find that the world does not end, acceptance will grow.

The only party which is holding things up is surprisingly the Obama Administration, which continues to raid cannabis dispensaries.  Why they are doing it I find bizarre.  Obama himself has a long history of drugs in his youth, and seems to have done all right.  I would find it difficult and hypocritical that Obama personally is against Cannabis.  Obama´s base and the Democratic Party is hardly baying for the Federal Government to go against the wishes of voters in states, and conduct raids on sellers of cannabis.  Even the Republican Party is generally muted on the issue.

So who is driving this unpopular crusade against cannabis?  I suspect it is people like the DEA, who have a lot to lose if Cannabis is legalized.  All those jobs and fiefdoms are at stake.  With less illegal drugs and less drug lords there is less work for the DEA.  Big Pharma may also want Cannabis to be kept illegal, since pot sometimes competes with prescription drugs.

The next few years should be interesting.  As acceptance grows eventually the president will stop opposing Cannabis.

Adrenal Fatigue

July 16, 2013

Adrenal fatigue is a problem what affects a lot of us in our hectic stressful world, and yet it is not very well known among the general population, and even among a lot of physicians.  Many people are suffering from adrenal fatigue but do not know why they are so tired, and are unable to diagnose it.

Dr Mercola has an interesting interview with a man who has done a lot of research in to this area.  The interview is interesting.

Story at-a-glance

  • When your adrenal glands are overtaxed, a condition known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion sets in, which in turn can set a cascade of disease processes into motion. One tell-tale sign of adrenal burnout is feeling chronically fatigued
  • Four most common reasons for adrenal fatigue and dysfunction are intense emotional stress, poor diet, chronic inflammation, and underactive thyroid
  • The Kalish Method normalizes dysfunctional adrenals and restores normal adrenal function. It’s a clinically validated method that’s been used for a long time, yet most physicians are still not aware of it
  • The adrenal protocol calls for carefully replacing just a small portion of the exact level of the missing adrenal hormones including DHEA and the precursor to cortisol called pregnenolone, which instigates your body to begin producing it more naturally


Studies are corrupted

July 16, 2013

Natural News has an informative article on how Vitamin studies are often rigged.  For most of our elites (especially those on the left) Science is like some kind of perfect entity, and we should never question it.  Thus the unquestioning stance towards the Global Warming Theory.  Once the high priests of Climate Science has proclaimed it thus, we cannot doubt or question it.  To do so would be to doubt science, and therefore sacrilege.  The uniform hysteria in many elite circles about Global Warming is really closer to a fundamentalist doctrine based on faith, than real science.

While science, when done right, is very good and one of the best ways to discover truth, today´s science is riddled with conflicts of interest.  In the hustle to get grant money scientists sell out to those who will pay them, and also exaggerate problems and promise solutions that they cannot deliver.  Whether it is trying to get a company to pay or the government to pay, the whole system has so often become compromised. printable article

Originally published July 11 2013

Quackity quack: Eight evil genius ways to fake a vitamin study (and scare consumers into being afraid of fish oils)

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) Quackity quack, the quacks are back, and this time they’re targeting fish oil supplements, claiming that taking fish oils raises your risk of prostate cancer.

Hogwash. This is just another case of pure fearmongering quackery by the anti-vitamin crowd. Remember: All these people attacking vitamins are the very same people who are on the take from Big Pharma. Remember, too, that companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have already been convicted of multiple felony crimes by the U.S. Department of Justice. And today in China, GSK was caught yet again engaging in widespread bribery and criminal fraud.

See the Natural News story: GlaxoSmithKline admits to criminal pharma fraud in 3 billion dollar case

Do you honestly think these companies wouldn’t fake a bunch of studies (and pay off a bunch of researchers) in order to try to discredit vitamins, superfoods and fish oils?

So here’s how they do the quackity quack dance: Seven ways they fake vitamin studies to scare people into being afraid of lifesaving nutrition:

Quack science trick #1) Run the vitamin study on people who are already diseased

I’ve seen this numerous times, with vitamin studies being done on people who are in critical care situations with heart attacks, for example. On their death beds, they’re given things like vitamin E, so that when an alarmingly high percentage of them die, the quacksters can blame the vitamins!

If you really dig deep into many of these fearmongering studies that try to discredit vitamins, you’ll find they were conducted on people who were already about to croak. …or quack.

Quack science trick #2) Run the vitamin study using synthetic, low-quality vitamins made by pharmaceutical companies

Here’s another favorite tactic: Instead of using high-quality fish oils or vitamin E, researchers source the most low-grade, synthetic chemical crap they can find. Then they call it vitamin E, or fish oils, or whatever they want.

It turns out there are no rules whatsoever regarding the vitamin labels researchers can use to describe substances. They can literally take human sewage sludge, dry it into a powder, encapsulate it into a pill, then call it a “vitamin B-12 supplement.”

And then — OMG! — vitamin B-12 has been “scientifically” found to make people sick! See how easy it is?

Quack science trick #3) Kick everybody out of the study whose health improves

When real vitamins are used for these studies (which is rare), they tend to make people experience improved health outcomes. So what quack researchers do to make sure their study results look really scary is to kick all the healthy people out of the study, thereby “shaping the data” into whatever results they want.

How do you kick healthy people out of a study? You simply find their record in the study spreadsheet or database and then hit delete. It’s that simple. And it happens every day in the quacked-up, fraud-infested “science” being paid for by Big Pharma in order to try to discredit vitamins (and thereby make people default to prescription medications instead).

Quack science trick #4) Just fabricate all the data

Why bother even recruiting people into a study? As Big Pharma researchers have already been caught doing over and over again, all you really have to do is fabricate the entire study by inventing all the data.

Take the case of Dr. Scott Reuben as a prime example. This “superstar” Big Pharma researcher took a bundle of money from Pfizer and other drug companies ($420,000 in all), then proceeded to fabricate dozens of studies which were then published in “peer-reviewed” medical journals. The Wall Street Journal even reported on all this, along with hundreds of other media outlets.

Dr. Reuben was ultimately found to have been faking pro-pharma research data for 13 years. Quackity quack! And he’s not alone. In fact, the faking of research to discredit vitamins while downplaying the serious health risks of pharmaceuticals is routine across the industry.

And the medical journals are all in on the scam, too, because they’re all financially supported by drug company ads! Quackery has never been so profitable…

Quack science trick #5) Combine vitamins with pharmaceuticals, then blame the vitamins

Here’s another popular ploy used by researchers to discredit vitamins: In addition to giving study subjects a vitamin pill, also give ’em something really toxic such as a statin drug.

But don’t mention the statin drug in the study; just focus on how many people were “harmed by the vitamin.” Sure, the subjects got sick, but no one is ever told the real reason why.

Are there researchers who will LIE like this in “scientific” studies? Umm… do politicians break campaign promises? Of course they do. Anything to get money or power.

Quack science trick #6) Find a source of cheap vitamins contaminated with heavy metals

Heavy metals like arsenic can also be readily found in some low-grade, cheap sources of nutritional supplements (often made by drug companies, it turns out).

For example, cheap sources of calcium are often contaminated with lead. Cheap sources of seaweeds are often contaminated with arsenic. Cadmium is also easy to find in certain low-grade supplements. Somehow, apparently as if by magic, researchers always manage to find the most heavily-contaminated made-in-China supplements to use in their quack smear studies (which are really engineered smear campaigns).

Notice, by the way, that they never disclose the actual metals content of their supplements. Rarely do they ever disclose the country of origin, either. That’s because they’re sourcing these “poison pills” from China, and actually searching for the most toxic pills they can find.

Quack science trick #7) Play mind games with study subjects

Many studies that are claimed to be “double-blind” really aren’t. The researchers secretly know exactly which study subjects are receiving the pills vs. placebo.

And in the case of these vitamin researchers — who actually set out from the start to discredit vitamins and fish oils — they can then proceed to influence the results by playing mind games with the patients.

For example, they can tell the people who receive placebo that they’re actually receiving “the good stuff” and should expect to get better. Their minds make it real, and they get better, thereby discrediting the vitamin itself which looks overshadowed by placebo.

Or they can tell the people receiving the vitamin that they are actually “receiving a placebo,” so they shouldn’t expect to get any better. Their minds make it real, downplaying the biochemical benefits of the vitamin, thereby making the vitamin look useless.

They use the same mind games all the time to show positive results from prescription medications. In fact, the placebo effect is the only thing really going for many prescription drugs such as antidepressants.

Quack science trick #8) Package the pills in a toxic capsule, or use toxic excipients or fillers

Here’s how the recent study bashing fish oils was probably pulled off: the fish oil CAPSULE can be specially formulated to contain highly-toxic hormone-disrupting cancer-causing chemicals such as BPA.

You can actually formulate fish oil capsules to contain “plasticizers” by sourcing them from a factory in China. They will be glad to manufacture fish oil capsules with 10,000 times more BPA than they might normally have, thereby slamming the prostate gland with a cancer-causing, tumor-growing hormone chemical that’s well known to cause cancer.

This will never be detected because nobody working at the medical journals (nor in the mainstream media) actually conducts any quality control tests on the substances used in the study. They just assume the researchers are acting with integrity… and that’s often not the case.

Formulating fish oil pills to cause cancer is a no-brainer, especially if you’ve got financial connections to the same global drug cartels that are running bribery schemes in countries like China — and this was just confirmed yet again by the Chinese Government.

Read more and see for yourself:

China says GSK executives have confessed to bribing doctors…

GlaxoSmithKline staff ‘confess’ to China bribery charges…

GlaxoSmithKline executives face China bribery probe

Big Pharma criminality no longer a conspiracy theory: Bribery, fraud, price fixing now a matter of public record

The Militarization of the Police

July 7, 2013

I have noticed over the last decades an increasing use of excessive force and the militarization of the police.  We have seen casual use of pepper spray such as against non dangerous sitting students and Tasers against non dangerous and non threatening people.  Tasers were originally designed to be an alternative to having to use a gun against a dangerous attacker.  In the last few years, however, Tasers have increasingly been used punish/hurt/torture those who irritate the police by not being sufficiently cooperative.  A person can easily be tasered after he is handcuffed because the police want to make him suffer for not making their job easier.  This is of course a complete misuse of Tasers.

On top of that we too often have a complete lack of independent oversight with the police, who have enormous discretionary powers, weapons, a code of silence among the police, and police departments that are too often unwilling to impose discipline of their cops, and hold them accountable when they abuse their power.  Too often when cops act badly, they get away with it, again and again.  This only encourages rogue cops to act badly without consequences.

On top of that we have a militarization of the police.  Paramilitary SWAT teams have grown from their original use aginst heavily armed dangerous drug gangs.  From there the use of armed, military style nighttime home invasions has increased.  I saw a documentary about the California Wildlife Service do one of these Rambo type pre dawn raids against a family suspected of having an illegal Piranha pet.  They found the Piranha and a mother and two teenage boys.  No one was armed and not one was dangerous.  It was a complete overkill and overdone.  A daytime knock on the door with a search warrant would have been much more appropriate.  I have heard of similar SWAT style raids against food stores, and other unarmed, non-dangerous people committing minor crimes, if any at all. I think that too many cops grew up watching movies like Rambo, and they get to play out their fantasies of exciting combat, even against unarmed and non-dangerous civilians.  To me it is a growing lack of maturity in our society.  Curiously these raids are never done against bankers, who appear to have immunity against going to jail.  Once again the police go after the little guy.  New York police do stop and frisk against people without probable cause, in violation of the 4th amendment.

To add insult to injury our favorite agency the Department of Homeland Security (what a fascist sounding name) has been busily supplying police departments with military hardware.  This, along with military type training, and an increasing military type mentality is changing the way the police interact with citizens, and it is not for the better.  We saw a taste of this with the Boston bomber shutdown of Watertown.  The police were like an occupying army.  They looked and acted like one.  It was like Latin America in the 1970s under military dictatorship.  People were screamed at, guns were pointed, warrant-less searches at gun point were conducted.  The citizens of Watertown had lost all their rights.  In the end the whole overdone show was a complete failure.  It was a civilian later who noticed that someone might be under a canvas tarp and called the police.  And what did the citizens of Watertown do?  The hailed and praised the police.

Things are not going to get better until the people stop applauding these abuses.  People need to stand up and say “Enough is enough!”  I find Americans far too complacent about the militarization of the police, the TSA and its abuses, the loss of Habeus Corpus, NSA spying, etc.  A minority of Americans recognize the danger, but I get the feeling that large parts of the masses are utterly indifferent to what is going on.

Where is the passivity coming from?  Too many medications addling their brain?  Fluoride in the water making them passive?  Overworked?  Distracted and dumbed down by the emptiness and stupidity of so much of mass pop culture?  To think that we once took and the greatest power at the time (Britain) and won.  Today we can hardly even seem to care about what is going on.  I assume that if Watergate were to happen today Nixon would be able to shut down any independent investigation of the Watergate bombing, the press and the public would shrug, Nixon would stay in power and the whole thing would blow over quickly.  In the early 70s our society was able to throw out a corrupt president who abused his power.  Today I don´t think that many people really care or are prepared to do anything about it.  People need to wake up.  Maybe we have had it for too long.

Here is an article detailing the militarization of the police.

How Cops Became Soldiers: An Interview with Police Militarization Expert Radley Balko

What happened to friendly neighborhood cops? The drug and terror wars happened. Via Oregon DOT/Flickr

In 2007, journalist Radley Balko told a House subcommittee that one criminologist detected a 1,500% increase in the use of SWAT teams over the last two decades. That’s reflective of a larger trend, fueled by the wars on drugs and terror, of police forces becoming heavily militarized.

Balko, an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and author of the definitive report on paramilitary policing in the United States, has a forthcoming book on the topic, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police ForcesHe was kind enough to answer some questions about how our police turned into soldiers as well as the challenges of large-scale reform.

Motherboard: When did the shift towards militarized police forces begin in America? Is it as simple as saying it began with the War on Drugs or can we detect gradual signs of change when we look back at previous policies?

There’s certainly a lot of overlap between the war on drugs and police militarization. But if we go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two trends developing simultaneously. The first was the development and spread of SWAT teams. Darryl Gates started the first SWAT team in L.A. in 1969. By 1975, there were 500 of them across the country. They were largely a reaction to riots, violent protest groups like the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army, and a couple mass shooting incidents, like the Texas clock tower massacre in 1966.

At the same time, Nixon was declaring an “all-out war on drugs.” He was pushing policies like the no-knock raid, dehumanizing drug users and dealers, and sending federal agents to storm private homes on raids that were really more about headlines and photo-ops than diminishing the supply of illicit drugs.

But for the first decade or so after Gates invented them, SWAT teams were largely only used in emergency situations. There usually needed to be an immediate, deadly threat to send the SWAT guys. It wasn’t until the early 1980s under Reagan that the two trends converged, and we started to see SWAT teams used on an almost daily basis — mostly to serve drug warrants.

Balko, via the Cato Institute

During the police clashes with Occupy protestors, there seemed to be a focus on isolated incidents of violence, as opposed to an overall examination of how this kind of policing exacerbates situations. What conclusions did your research lead you to on this topic?

I actually think that the Occupy protests gave the broader militarization issue more attention than it’s had in a very long time. For 25 years, the primary “beneficiaries” of police militarization have been poor people in high-crime areas — people who generally haven’t had the power or platform to speak up. The Occupy protesters were largely affluent, white, and deft at using cell phones and social media to document and publicize incidents of excessive force.

We’re also seeing interest in this issue from new quarters as SWAT teams have fallen victim to mission creep in recent years and begun raiding poker games, bars, and even people suspected of white collar crimes. So far, the only state that has passed any meaningful reform legislation in reaction to a SWAT raid gone wrong is Maryland, which passed a transparency bill after the mistaken raid on Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo.

I suppose that may be the “it needs to get worse before it will get better” good news, here. As governments at all levels continue to expand the list of crimes for which they’re willing to send the SWAT team, we’ll inevitably see these tactics used against more people with more clout and stature to push for reform. It’s an unfortunate bit of realpolitik, but it’s undoubtedly true.

Deborah Blum has written that we refer to oleoresin capsicum as “pepper spray” because “that makes it sound so much more benign than it really is, like something just a grade or so above what we might mix up in a home kitchen.” How did the use of these kinds of weapons become so commonplace? 

I think part of the reason is that it has happened gradually. We got here by way of a number of political decisions and policies passed over 40 years. There was never a single law or policy that militarized our police departments — so there was never really a public debate over whether this was a good or bad thing.

But there were other contributors. For about a generation, politicians from both parties were tripping over themselves to see who could come up with the tougher anti-crime policies. We’re finally seeing some push-back on issues like incarceration, the drug war, and over-criminalization. But not on police. No politician wants to look anti-cop. Conservatives want to look tough on crime. Liberals love to throw money at police departments. So for now, rolling back police militarization is still a non-starter in Congress and state legislatures.

It won’t be long before we see pro-militarization lobbying and pressure groups. Say hello to the police-industrial complex.

The other problem is that political factions decry police militarization when it’s used against them, but tend to fall somewhere between indifferent and gleeful when it’s used against people they don’t like. Conservatives, remember, were furious over Waco, Ruby Ridge, and a host of BATF abuses against gun owners in the 1990s — and rightly so. Liberals mocked them for it.

Liberals were furious at the aggressive response to the occupy protests — and rightly so. And conservatives mocked them. Liberals are rightly angry about militarized immigration raids — conservatives don’t much care. Conservatives were mad about the heavy-handed raid on the Gibson Guitar factory. Liberals blew it off. Just a few weeks ago, Rachel Maddow resurrected the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents in a segment about gun control — and was dismissive of people who thought the government’s actions were excessive. Of course, Maddow was also fuming about the treatment of Occupy protesters.

Until partisans are willing to denounce excessive force when it’s used against people whose politics offend them — or at least refrain from endorsing it — it’s hard to see how there will ever be a consensus for reform.

The powers that be love to have Americans fighting each other over partisan issues, instead of uniting to fight the corruption and abuse of power.  Divide and conquer: a successful strategy.

How did 9/11 alter the domestic relationship between the military and police?

It really just accelerated a process that had already been in motion for 20 years. The main effect of 9/11 on domestic policing is the DHS grant program, which writes huge checks to local police departments across the country to purchase machine guns, helicopters, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. The Pentagon had already been giving away the same weapons and equipment for about a decade, but the DHS grants make that program look tiny.

But probably of more concern is the ancillary effect of those grants. DHS grants are lucrative enough that many defense contractors are now turning their attention to police agencies — and some companies have sprung up solely to sell military-grade weaponry to police agencies who get those grants. That means we’re now building a new industry whose sole function is to militarize domestic police departments. Which means it won’t be long before we see pro-militarization lobbying and pressure groups with lots of (taxpayer) money to spend to fight reform. That’s a corner it will be difficult to un-turn. We’re probably there already. Say hello to the police-industrial complex.

This is very worrying.  We know how politicians will do anything when they are paid off.  The people don´t count.

Is police reform a battle that will have to be won legally? From the outside looking in, much of this seems to violate The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. Are there other ways to change these policies? Can you envision a blueprint?

It won’t be won legally. The Supreme Court has been gutting the Fourth Amendment in the name of the drug war since the early 1980s, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think the current Court will change any of that. The Posse Comitatus Act is often misunderstood. Technically, it only prohibits federal marshals (and, arguably, local sheriffs and police chiefs) from enlisting active-duty soldiers for domestic law enforcement. The president or Congress could still pass a law or executive order tomorrow ordering U.S. troops to, say, begin enforcing the drug laws, and it wouldn’t violate the Constitution or the Posse Comitatus Act. The only barrier would be selling the idea to the public.

That said, I think the current state of police militarization probably violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act, and probably more pertinent, the spirit and sentiment behind the Third Amendment. (Yes — the one no one ever talks about.) When the country was founded, there were no organized police departments, and wouldn’t be for another 50 to60 years. Public order was maintained through private means, in worst cases by calling up the militia.

The Founders were quite wary of standing armies and the threat they pose to liberty. They ultimately concluded — reluctantly — that the country needed an army for national defense. But they most feared the idea of troops patrolling city streets — a fear colored by much of human history, and more immediately by the the antagonism between British troops and residents of Boston in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The Founders could never have envisioned police as they exist today. And I think it’s safe to say they’d have been absolutely appalled at the idea of a team of police, dressed and armed like soldiers, breaking into private homes in the middle of the night for the purpose of preventing the use of mind-altering drugs.

The Founders would have been appalled at the idea of a team of police, dressed and armed like soldiers, breaking into private homes in the middle of the night.

I totally agree.  We are slowly turned into that against which we originally rebelled.  Why do we need a paramilitary police force?  Are we expecting a war?  What war?

As for change, the good news is that I think the public is finally waking up to this problem. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed more skepticism, for example, in the comment sections to stories about SWAT raids. I’ve also noticed more skepticism in much of the media coverage of these raids. And again, I think the fact that these tactics are now being used against people who have the means and status to speak out is drawing new attention to police militarization, and causing more people to question the wisdom of all of this. But again, there are some major political hurdles in the way of reform.

The gear and weapons and tanks are a problem. But I think a much deeper problem is the effect all of this war talk and battle rhetoric has had on policing as a profession. In much of the country today, police officers are psychologically isolated from the communities they serve. It’s all about us vs. them. There are lots of reasons for that, which I describe in the book but are too involved to get into here. But it’s really destructive.

I make a number of specific suggestions in the book about how to change that mindset — most of which came from interviews with long-time cops and former police chiefs. But generally speaking, cops should be a part of the communities in which they work. They should walk beats. They should know the names of the school principals, 7-11 managers, and Boys and Girls Club and community center staffers. When your only interaction with the community is antagonistic — responding to calls, conducting stop & frisks, questioning people — your relationship with the community will be antagonistic. Cops are public servants. Their job is to keep the peace while protecting and observing our constitutional rights. Somewhere in the process constantly declaring war on things, we’ve lost sight of that.

For 30 years, politicians and public officials have been arming, training, and dressing cops as if they’re fighting a war. They’ve been dehumanizing drug offenders and criminal suspects as the enemy. And of course they’ve explicitly and repeatedly told them they’re fighting a war. It shouldn’t be all that surprising that a lot of cops have started to believe it.

Read more:
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Sections of this article detail a lack of independent oversight when cops abuse their power.  Too often police departments will overlook abuse out of a desire to “help their own.”

…Police officials always depict their officers as reluctant warriors who rarely, if ever, use or even brandish their weapons. But this is a fiction from the past. Officers tell me the old-school guys are mostly gone and that the new breed of cop has a military mentality and often a military background. The SWAT-team members are the ones who do the training and get promoted to top positions in the departments.

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that police are far from reluctant to pull their weapons or feel much remorse when they do. After Riverside police gunned down a sleeping girl named Tyisha Miller in a car in 1998 (she had a gun in her lap, was unconscious, and after police smashed her window, she moved and they immediately opened fire), the officers involved in the shooting stood around, joked, and animatedly reenacted the shooting, according to Los Angeles Times reports. One of the officers commented, “This is going to ruin their Kwanzaa,” after upset family members showed up at the scene. One local man arrived at the scene of another officer-involved shooting and reported that the police were high-fiving each other.

In another recent local case, a Costa Mesa police officer admitted pulling a gun on a teenager after the officer noticed that the boy and his friends were riding their bikes without helmets. He chased the boy into the boy’s backyard and drew his gun. After the boy’s dog came to defend him, the officer shot the dog 15 times. The city paid the family a large sum of money, but the police department insists the officer’s behavior was correct police policy. That’s perhaps the scariest part of this whole disreputable incident.

Former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara, now a scholar at the Hoover Institution, captured the essence of the problem in a November 29, 2006, column he wrote for the Wall Street Journal. McNamara focused on an incident a few days earlier in New York, when several plainclothes police officers fired 50 shots at a car, wounding two men and killing a third, Sean Bell, who was to be married later that day.

How did this and other cases like it happen?

“Simply put,” wrote McNamara, “the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on ‘officer safety’ and paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed.”

According to McNamara, “Reasonable people accept that a cop’s job is difficult and dangerous, and most people understand that sometimes an officer will have to shoot someone. But the police are not and should never be allowed to think of themselves as soldiers or to believe they face the same level of danger.”

That’s exactly right. Even worse, there is virtually no public oversight or accountability, not only for police who follow these new policies and kill or hurt citizens, but for police who act outside proper authority and abuse their power. In Orange County, deputies spend about seven years patrolling the jail before being sent out onto the streets of our cities. Some critics wonder whether the experience dealing with prisoners leads at least some officers to treat members of the public with a high level of disdain. While police militarization is a problem on city streets, it is even worse for anyone under police custody.

Beaten by Inmates

In March of 2006, John Derek Chamberlain, who was stopped by an officer for public urination then arrested after he was found to possess child pornography, was savagely beaten to death for 20 minutes by fellow inmates. The Register reported that “[w]hile inmates beat John Derek Chamberlain to death, the senior deputy at the minimum-security barracks sat in the guard station, watching television. . . . The deputies’ failure to prevent the torture and killing of a man thought by jail inmates to be a child molester is at the center of an ongoing criminal inquiry.”

An inmate claims the deputy, who was several feet from the beating, actually instigated it after falsely outing Chamberlain as a child molester. Before any investigation was done, the county sheriff declared that his deputies did nothing wrong. Although other agencies typically investigate these killings, the sheriff’s department took charge of the investigation itself and even “cleaned up” the scene before the county supervisors’ staff arrived. The department refused to give the inmate a lie-detector test to corroborate his accusations. According to many solid sources, a group of deputies that calls itself “The Psycho Crew” routinely inflicts rough justice on inmates, picking particularly on minorities and drunks. The department denies this, but county taxpayers end up paying civil settlements to abused victims.

The Chamberlain case led to enough of a public outcry that the county board of supervisors voted to take the first steps toward creating an independent oversight panel. The sheriff, DA, and deputies’ union have tried to derail the proposal. It has been approved but the current plan, although useful, would create only a few advisory responsibilities. And, under current state law, almost all information regarding the disciplinary records of deputies and police are off-limits to civilian oversight panels, the public, and the media. As the American Civil Liberties Union explained, “On August 29, 2006, the California Supreme Court in Copley Press v. Superior Court held that records of an administrative appeal of sustained misconduct charges are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public. The decision prevents the public from learning the extent to which police officers have been disciplined as a result of misconduct.”

Police supporters claim the public already has plenty of oversight. But observers always find the same pattern: The internal investigations are not public, and the deputies stay on the force with no obvious punishment. The DA exonerates the deputies. The grand jury only gets involved in the most highly publicized cases, and such juries are controlled by the DA and represent a narrow, conservative demographic. (Around here, it’s mostly retired government workers who can afford to spend half their day working at the court for virtually no pay.) When a member of the public files a complaint with a police or sheriff’s department, it typically takes months to hear anything back. Then the only legal requirement is for the agency to say whether the complaint was “sustained” or “not sustained.” Such complaints are rarely sustained.

Code of Silence

Even when police engage in obvious misbehavior, fellow officers stand by the miscreants. There’s a well-known “code of silence.” Many people have watched the videotape of the savage beating of a barmaid by an off-duty Chicago police officer. The department had to be shamed into filing serious charges, and fellow officers showed up in force in solidarity when their compatriot had his court date. Juries in suburban communities are notoriously conservative, so when a case gets to trial, it’s difficult to convict an ill-behaving cop. In February former Irvine Police Officer David Alex Park went to court for pulling over a woman motorist, threatening to arrest her, but letting her off after she performed a sex act. Park argued that he pulled the victim over for her own safety and that the sex was consensual—as if sex could ever be consensual when an armed police officer has pulled a woman over and threatens to take her to jail.

The jury, however, bought the argument, and Park went free. He did lose his job, however, and the woman received a civil settlement from the city. Indeed, the only real oversight and justice in police-abuse cases comes from trial attorneys who sue police departments. It’s better than nothing, and such actions often dislodge police documents, but it’s a sad day when the only serious oversight of the most powerful government agents most people will encounter comes in the tort system. In many cases when police are caught abusing their power, their union defends them and keeps them on the force.

No wonder police officers behave as if they can do as they please. The Los Angeles Times reported last October 4 that Los Angeles County deputies play a game on the job called “Operation Any Booking,” in which the winner is the deputy who makes the most arrests or most car seizures in a 24-hour period. “It’s just a friendly competition to have a little fun out here,” said the department spokesman. Never mind that such “games” encourage officers to make unnecessary arrests and seizures.

Officers at times behave like they are part of an occupying army, and there are many stories of excessive force that don’t rise to the level of investigations and lawsuits, but are indicative of what’s going on out there. One of the Register’s independent contractors who services newspaper racks in the wee hours of the morning tells about the time recently when he was emptying money from a rack while wearing his newspaper apron and he saw an officer looking at him. Rather than approach and ask him what he was doing, several police cars surrounded him and officers came at him with weapons drawn; he was shoved to the ground, his arms painfully wrenched behind his back, and he was even taunted by an officer. He was let go after a short time, but is this really the way we want our communities policed?

Police officers in California in particular are well paid, so this is not a case of insufficient funds to hire quality candidates, as some people argue. In Orange County the average deputy earns a total salary and benefit package of $111,000 a year. They are eligible to retire at age 50 with 90 percent of their final pay after 30 years of service, guaranteed forever, courtesy of taxpayers. Police agencies in California complain about a hiring shortage. The reason for the shortage is simple: a) rapid increases in retirement benefits have encouraged a large portion of local forces to retire; and b) unions are always lobbying cities to provide more police positions, and politicians often comply for political reasons. Who can say no? Police and deputies, after all, have been afforded near-hero status following the 9/11 attacks. And the media often provide photo ops for their anti-terrorism training exercises, so the public knows about the importance of their work. In a recent political battle police organizations made direct references to 9/11 as a reason to oppose any rollback of benefits. Politicians who go against the blue tide pay a heavy political price.

There’s no apparent limit to the political gains that can be made by pandering to the “law and order” crowd. Last June the Assembly Public Safety Committee considered a bill that would have overturned the Copley decision and restored some public oversight to police misbehavior. The room was filled with police officers speaking out against it. The cops told emotional stories about police officers being killed in the line of duty—even though news reports later revealed that none of the examples had anything to do with the release of public records. The committee could not muster a single Democratic or Republican vote for the bill. In the state legislature Democrats mostly oppose such reforms because of their ties to the unions, and Republicans mostly oppose such bills because of their commitment to “law and order.” It’s the perfect scenario for law enforcement, and a troubling one for the public.

Yet something needs to be done. While I was writing this article, the Santa Ana police gunned down an apparently unarmed man in a stolen car, and then shut down the freeway for five hours. The department would say nothing, according to the Los Angeles Times: the police spokesman “referred questions to the district attorney’s office, which investigates officer-related shootings. A spokeswoman declined to discuss the probe, citing district attorney policy.” And so it goes.

Police use deadly force at their discretion. Police agencies then investigate themselves. They release only the information they choose to release. Few politicians are willing to discuss police procedures, and the courts and legislatures uphold the “right” of police agencies to hide information about misbehaving officers. In California, police have a special officer’s “bill of rights.” America may not be a police state—that is, a political system characterized “by an arbitrary exercise of power by police”—but it’s getting too close for comfort.

As a final thought I am not a person that traditionally is anti-police, and yet they do keep crime down and the job is often stressful and even dangerous at times.  So I can appreciate what they go thru, and the service that they provide to their communities.  Having said that I also know that power corrupts, and if people are not held accountable for their actions, at least some will abuse that power.  The lack of independent oversight concerning police abuses is disturbing.  When the police can do whatever they want, they often will.  The police are supposed to arrest criminals and only use force when it is necessary and appropriate.  Some cops these days see themselves as prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner also, and they also become abusive when law abiding citizen dare to record the abuse.
Teachers in inner city high schools also have to have lots of stress, with rude and sometimes even violent and dangerous students.  And yet teachers do not hit students-let alone kill them- because they know that if they do there will be consequences.   The police behave badly today because in too many cases they can get away with it.  It is human nature.
If the police are losing the hearts and minds of people like me then they have a growing problem.  When the average law abiding citizen is upset this is not good for departments.  The problem is not just in the US.  France also has abuses with its police.
A further problems is that police departments make bruit squads and brute policies to deal with the worst cases, and then inevitably apply such severity to everyone in the interests of equality and laziness.  But trying to treat a thug like a normal civilized person is not the recipe for success.  Modulating behavior according to circumstances is one of the keys to being successful.

How BedZed “zero carbon” turned out

July 6, 2013

BedZed is an ambitious mixed use development created in England in 2003 that was intended to have zero carbon emissions.  To some degree it has achieved its goals.  Energy and water use are down considerably compared to a conventional house, but no where near its initial goal of being resource neutral (not needing any outside water or electricity).  Despite is accomplishments, a lot of features have not worked out as planned, and should send a cautionary note to those who want to experiment with bleeding edge designs.

As to its downsides I find the architecture to be cold and impersonal, like a giant factory.  People want to live in buildings that are attractive and cozy, and Bedzed is no that.  This is a very common problem with architecture these days where ugly designs predominate.  Aside from that, the on site independent biomass generator, waste water treatment system and rain collection system have all been abandoned because they were too difficult and costly to maintain.  The roof can leak and having plants growing on top makes it much harder to fix.  The solar heating system generally is not strong enough in winter and tends to over heat in summer.  People complain about insufficient parking.  A scheme to get residents on electric vehicles has totally failed. The solar panels are largely a failure due to the climate and angle they are located on.  Some people complain about a lack of privacy.

Despite some of its successes BezZed has a long list of failures.  In fact the only thing that really has worked is the insulation and the passive heating, which brings with it its own problems.  These projects are announced with great fanfare and triumph, and then reality sets in.  Of course, I suppose that we should appreciate that they are willing to take risks and try new things.  They could have done BedZed bit by bit learning as they went on, but they wanted to do it all at once.  Unfortunately when it goes wrong it is the resident who really suffer, not the architect.  The lesson is that those who take the leap on new visionary but untried systems are likely to end up as Guinea Pigs.

Here is a link to an assessment of the good and bad of BedZed.