Friday, July 25, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Don't let anyone tell you the police just need better training or better tools.
Don't let anyone convince you that those people shouldn't have done the crime and they wouldn't have had a bad day with the police.
It takes an organized effort to be this corrupt.
Hat Tip AAPP for this story from Howard Witt. Once again Bro. Witt is all over one.
Taser death ignites racial tensions
In a town not far from Jena, La., fears of a cover-up mount
By Howard Witt <http://www.chicagotribune.
7:24 PM CDT, July 18, 2008
WINNFIELD, La.-- At 1:28 p.m. last Jan. 17, Baron "Scooter" Pikes was
a healthy 21-year-old man. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead.
What happened in the 39 minutes in between--during which Pikes was
handcuffed by local police and shocked nine times with a Taser device,
while reportedly pleading for mercy--is now spawning fears of a
political cover-up in this backwoods Louisiana lumber town infamous
for backroom dealings.
Even more ominously, because Pikes was black and the officer who
repeatedly Tasered him is white, racial tensions over the case are
mounting in a place that's just 40 miles from Jena, La. Jena is the
site of the racially explosive prosecution of six black teenagers
charged with beating a white youth that last year triggered one of the
largest American civil rights demonstrations in decades. And in a
bizarre coincidence, Pikes turns out to have been a first cousin of
Mychal Bell, the lead defendant in the Jena 6 case.
No novelist could have invented Winnfield, a place so steeped in
corruption that they built a local museum to try to sanitize it all.
Here in the birthplace of two of Louisiana's most colorful and
notorious governors-Huey and Earl Long-the police chief committed
suicide three years ago after losing a close election marred by
allegations of fraud and vote-buying.
Just four months later, the district attorney killed himself after
allegedly skimming $200,000 from his office budget and extorting
payments from criminal defendants to make their cases go away.
The current police chief is a convicted drug offender who got a pardon
from Edwin Edwards, the former Louisiana governor who is serving time
in federal prison for corruption convictions.
All of that tangled history is now wrapped up in the Pikes case,
because Scott Nugent, the officer who Tasered him, is the well-
connected son of the former police chief who killed himself-and the
protégé of the current chief, who hired him onto the force.
"A lot happens in this town and it just gets swept under the rug,"
said Kayshon Collins, Pikes' stepmother, who has participated in
several local protests over the case. "What the police did to Scooter
just isn't right. They would never have Tasered a white kid like
that." The official police version of what happened to Pikes on that
brisk January afternoon reads like a sad but familiar story in
Winnfield's local newspaper.
Nugent spotted Pikes walking along the street and attempted to arrest
him on an outstanding warrant for drug possession, according to Police
Chief Johnny Ray Carpenter. Pikes took off running, but another
officer cornered him outside a nearby grocery store. Pikes resisted
arrest and Nugent subdued him with a shock from a Taser.
Then on the way to the police station, Carpenter related to the
newspaper, Pikes fell ill and told the officers he suffered from
asthma and was high on crack cocaine and PCP. The officers called for
an ambulance, but Pikes later died at the hospital.
Six months later, the Winnfield police are standing by that story.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana State Police are investigating the case, and
no charges have been filed against Nugent or two other Winnfield
police officers who assisted him in arresting Pikes, although the City
Council did decide to fire Nugent from the force in May.
Winn Parish District Atty. Chris Nevils says he expects to present the
case to a grand jury after he receives the results of the state police
But there is already abundant evidence contradicting the official
police version of the incident.
An autopsy determined there were no drugs in Pikes' system and that he
did not have asthma, according to Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn
Moreover, Pikes did not resist arrest, and he was handcuffed while
lying on the ground, according to Nugent's police report of the
incident. It was only after Pikes refused Nugent's command to stand up
that the officer applied the first Taser shock in the middle of his
back, Nugent wrote.
Several more Taser shocks followed quickly, Nugent stated, because
Pikes kept falling down and refusing to get back up. Grocery shoppers
who witnessed the incident later told Pikes' family that he had
pleaded with Nugent: "Please, you all got me. Please don't Tase me
Williams said police records showed Nugent administered nine Taser
shocks to Pikes over a 14-minute period. The last two jolts, delivered
as police pulled Pikes from a patrol car at the police station,
elicited no physical reaction because the suspect was unconscious,
Only after Pikes was carried into the police station and slumped into
a chair did police call for an ambulance. He was pronounced dead soon
afterward at the local hospital.
After consulting about the case with Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally
prominent forensic pathologist, Williams ruled last month that Pikes'
death was a homicide. On the death certificate, he listed the cause of
death as "cardiac arrest following nine 50,000-volt electroshock
applications from a conductive electrical weapon."
Baden said the case "could be considered to be torture."
"God did not just call this young man home," said Williams, who has
served as parish coroner for the past 33 years. "Fourteen minutes
elapsed between the first shock and the last. If somebody can tell me
anything else that killed this otherwise perfectly healthy young man
in 14 minutes, I'd like to know it."
Williams is no stranger to controversy in Winnfield. Back in 2004, his
garage was firebombed-he suspects the attack was ordered by the former
district attorney-and he says he's been shot at 19 times by people
upset with the independence of his investigations. He wears a gun
holstered at his waist even while sitting safely at his desk.
"This case may be the most unnecessary death I have ever had to
investigate," Williams said. "[Pikes] put up no fuss, no fighting, no
physical aggression. The Taser was not used to take him into custody.
He just didn't respond quickly enough to the officer's commands."
Nugent, 21, declined to be interviewed for this story. But his
attorney, Phillip Terrell, said that Nugent "acted within the ambit of
his training and Winnfield Police Department policies"-an opinion
seconded by police spokesman Lt. Charles Curry.
Yet the official Winnfield Police Department Taser policy appears to
prohibit the weapon's use against a nonviolent suspect who has already
"The Taser shall only be deployed in circumstances where it is deemed
reasonably necessary to control a dangerous or violent subject," the
policy states. It also requires that a suspect who has been Tasered
should immediately be checked out at a hospital, which did not happen
in Pikes' case.
What's more, safety guidelines issued by Taser International Inc., the
manufacturer of the device that is now used by more than 12,700 law
enforcement and military agencies worldwide, warn officers to
"minimize repeated, continuous, and/or simultaneous exposures."
Company officials, citing dozens of medical studies, insist Tasers are
safe when used properly. But few of those studies examined the effect
of multiple Taser applications over a short period of time. The U.S.
Department of Justice, in a study released in June, concluded that
"the medical risks of repeated or continuous [Taser] exposure are
In less than two years on Winnfield's 20-officer police force, police
records show, Nugent ranked as the department's most aggressive Taser
user. Among the recipients were a 15-year-old African-American runaway
who was not charged with any crime and Pikes' father, currently
serving a prison sentence for a drug offense, who was Tasered by
Nugent last year, according to Kayshon Collins.
Joe Heard said his 15-year-old son was Tasered twice by Nugent last
August, after Heard reported the youth as a runaway and asked the
police to help find him.
"He snuck out of the house to be with a girl," Heard said. "I asked
the police to bring him home, and they did, but in pieces-he was all
scraped up and bruised. They told me the next time he runs, 'You know
we're going to shoot him.' "
This, my dear friends, is not a Taser case. As much as you (and I) may want to see this particular storm trooper strung up by his balls and beaten daily, it's not even really about his sorry ass. This is yet another case of a corrupted justice system, where the police department, the prosecutors, the judges, and the city officials are all equally responsible for allowing the administration of justice to be so thoroughly perverted.
If we allow this case to become about tasers or about one criminal cop, we do ourselves a grave disservice. This appears to be an excellent test case where the actions and actors are so evident and so egregious they literally scream for fundamental changes. Obviously it doesn't work to just changes the faces in this place. Something must be done so that this kind of situation cannot possibly exist in the criminal justice system. Either this entire community is engaged or at least aware that the police and courts are being used to oppress the town's African American residents or they should be primed to make some changes so they don't look like the 2008 version of Rosewood.
We certainly should do everything possible to keep this story out front and make sure this doesn't get swept back under the rug. But calling for this cop to face criminal charges should be the footnote to our coverage. Getting the right system in place will ensure that this dirty cop and all the other dirty ones face the justice they deserve. If all we work for is getting this one nazi locked down or getting a couple of departments to stop using the taser as the torture tool of the day, we'll be right back to square one tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
He announced that the Bush administration would seek congressional approval to bail out Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, the government created, but privately owned, profit-making housing finance companies that hold or guarantee nearly half of the US mortgage market -- some $5 trillion in debt.
That's right. If the guarantees work, private speculators, having driven the stock down, will clean up on the upside. And the bank's CEO's will continue to pocket the multi-million dollar salaries that are de rigueur on Wall Street. Call it Wall Street socialism. Their losses are socialized; their profits are pocketed. You and I will pay for their failures. And if conservatives have their way, their families will pocket their successes
Monday, July 14, 2008
"There is little public policymakers can, or should, do to compensate for untenable financial decisions."
Some of you rabid capitalist out there may be nodding your heads in agreement right now. There's no helping you. The rest of you have to see the blatant and ridiculous hypocrisy of the Secretary of the Treasury making this statement, while out of the other side of his mouth promising to bail out the PRIVATE INVESTORS who evidently made untenable financial decisions when they bought Freddie and Fannie stock.
These people have absolutely no shame and no longer make any attempt to pretend like they care about you.
Don't pretend like it's some huge government entity that is being bailed out here. These are mostly rich people who are heavily vested in Freddie and Fannie stock, in large part due to the safety net of promised Federal financial coverage.
Basically, if you work and save to be able to barely afford your crumb of the American pie, and the larger economic considerations around you cause you financial hardship, then public policy, aka your government, doesn't feel any obligation to help you out.
However, if you are a rich fat cat, who can afford to invest heavily in government backed securities, then you can rest assured that it will always be in the best interest of "public policy" to make sure your investment is always financially secure.
This is your government, Rethuglican and Dumocrat, at work. This is the institution, of, by, and for the people, that you stake your hope for a better future on.
the word insane just doesn't seem to cover it...
MarketWatch via NewsEdge :
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- No one believes that efforts underway in Washington are a panacea for the housing market and the disappointing lack of a "silver bullet" to alleviate homeowner woes has been noted by a variety of officials.
Still, two years after the housing market turned sour, Washington is finally moving forward with plans to provide some relief. Congress is getting closer to completing a far-reaching housing package, the administration is expanding an FHA refinancing program and the Federal Reserve is issuing new rules on mortgage lending.
Observers worry, though, that the plans may aid too few troubled borrowers and other consumers crushed by wave after wave of bad economic news.
Just how bad are the housing market's problems?
Economists estimate that about 2.5 million foreclosures will be started this year, up from 1.5 million last year. And many of "today's unusually high number of foreclosures are not preventable," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said earlier this week.
"Public policy cannot be expected to prevent these foreclosures," Paulson said. "Due to the lax credit and underwriting standards of the past years, some people took out mortgages they can't possibly afford and they will lose their homes. There is little public policymakers can, or should, do to compensate for untenable financial decisions."
Other forecasts are also grim. An April report from the Pew Charitable Trusts projected that one of every 33 homeowners would be in foreclosure, primarily in the next two years, because of subprime loans made in 2005 and 2006.
On Thursday, RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure properties marketplace that tracks data, said foreclosure filings in June were reported on 252,363 U.S. properties -- a gain of 53% from the prior year, but down 3% from the prior month. The year-over-year gain "indicates we have not yet reached the top of this foreclosure cycle," said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive.
For all those who won't be helped directly by any of the official proposals, it's important to find a way to improve the asset quality of mortgage-related securities, said James Carr, chief operating officer of fair-lending advocate National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
"We believe that those people will be assisted by simply helping to stabilize the housing market," Carr said. "A number of investors who didn't speculate per se, but nevertheless did buy investment properties, they are also at risk. No one benefits by having market conditions continue to deteriorate."
While snags remain, Congress could send a final housing package to the president in coming weeks.
"My biggest criticism is that it was a much better idea six months ago," said Nicolas Retsinas, director of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "A long time ago the market reached a point where some kind of government action was appropriate. At this point, it's still appropriate, but its effects will be limited because the negative momentum is so substantial."
On Thursday, the Senate moved forward on the legislation with a final procedural vote. House lawmakers can approve or amend the package and the Senate would then have to accept any House changes.
A focal point of the legislation would authorize the Federal Housing Administration to back $300 billion in refinanced mortgages for at-risk borrowers. Industry and borrower participation is voluntary. To qualify, loans must be for owner-occupied principal residences. In the Senate version, about 400,000 loans could be guaranteed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The legislation would also raise the ceiling for loans that FHA could insure and that Fannie Mae
One potential stumbling block for the overall bill is that the administration opposes a Senate provision that would bar risk-based premiums for FHA, under which less-creditworthy borrowers are charged higher fees.
"That would be a big mistake," said Steve Preston, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, earlier this week. "FHA will have to increase premiums across the board on all borrowers or, alternatively, seek taxpayer funds in October to cover potential losses, or cut back on the program at the very time we are an island of hope for hundreds of thousands of Americans."
Preston also criticized a proposal to allow FHA to accept mortgage insurance loans with seller-funded down-payment assistance. FHA loans for borrowers relying on this assistance go to foreclosure at three times the rate of loans for borrowers who make their own down payments, according to HUD.
"We remain solvent and in good shape today," Preston said. "But no insurance company can continue to absorb losses of this magnitude."
Starting Monday, FHASecure, a program introduced last year by the president, will relax eligibility standards for homeowners to refinance with FHA. The administration sees a total of 500,000 families being helped by the end of the year.
"Our monthly refinancings this fiscal year are already more than five times the level of 2006," HUD's Preston said. "It is clear people are coming to us as their solution for the future."
While some are worried about FHA's capacity to take on substantial new responsibilities -- many proposals in Washington rely on the agency gaining market share -- expanding its reach makes sense from a historical perspective. FHA was established during the Great Depression to create more housing opportunities and helps many first-time home buyers, or those with low or moderate incomes or flawed credit histories, to obtain housing through its insured loans.
There's also concern that FHASecure, along with the FHA expansion proposed by Congress, rely on voluntary efforts by industry.
"The voluntary approach isn't keeping pace with the level of foreclosures," said Allen Fishbein, director of credit and housing policy with the Consumer Federation of America. "What we don't know about this FHA measure is how widespread it will be used. The unknown is whether it will have a significant impact on the market."
And then there's the Federal Reserve, which has come under criticism for so swiftly managing the rescue of Bear Stearns even as the residential housing market languished. Months after the Bear event, the Fed is still defending the move, with a speech from Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier this week in which he explained that allowing Bear Stearns to fail "would likely have had extremely adverse implications for the financial system and for the broader economy."
On Monday, the Fed is voting on new rules that aim to prevent shady mortgage marketing practices. The board has been considering rules for higher-priced mortgage loans such as prohibiting creditors from "engaging in a pattern or practice" of giving credit without considering a borrower's ability to repay.
But those rules only apply to future mortgages and won't help those in trouble now. The effective date for the rules has yet to be announced.
There is also substantial worry about the spillover effect from foreclosures onto neighborhood property values that could harm homeowners in good standing.
"Part of the problem with vacant properties is the local government bears the burden of no longer having a tax basis," said Ali Solis, public policy vice president with Enterprise Community Partners Inc., an advocate for neighborhood stabilization efforts. "The real losers in this crisis are communities and residents who have been playing by the rules and are rapidly seeing their assets decline. To suggest that you can just not pay attention to the communities destabilized from foreclosed properties is sort of a farce."
A January report from the Center for Responsible Lending projected that foreclosures on subprime home loans originated in 2005 and 2006 will lead to 40.6 million neighboring homes experiencing devaluation, with homeowners near foreclosed properties seeing an average decrease of $5,000 on their property values.
Congress is proposing funds to buy foreclosed properties. However, the administration has issued a veto threat over this provision, criticizing the plan as a bailout for lenders and speculators.
A group of 15 governors wrote to leaders in Congress earlier this week, urging them to pass the housing legislation, with special emphasis on the $4 billion neighborhood stabilization funds.
"As governors, we have experienced firsthand the devastating effects of foreclosure on our residents and communities," the governors wrote. "Blight has increased along with the number of vacant properties. Emergency funds for the acquisition and rehabilitation of foreclosed and abandoned properties will help communities to eliminate blight, control crime, and stabilize property values."
There's ample evidence that the distressed housing market is damaging consumers on many levels as readings on consumer sentiment reach record lows.
"You have people who didn't have funny loans and who are experiencing economic problems because of problems that can be exacerbated by the housing market," said Barbara Sard, housing policy director with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "There are many waves, and people are getting pounded."
Sunday, July 13, 2008
But back to this particular video, and Field if you happen to see this post, forgive me for appearing to contradict you, is this really a hatchet job on Blacks? I mean, they just gave a brother a lot of very good press. Yes they showed a few Black folks who don't have a good grasp of the king's English, but they also showed several other races with the same affliction. Besides wasn't the focus of the story about what a brother was doing for kids who look like him? Seems to be rationally related to me.
Maybe you don't agree that our children should be taught to speak in a fashion the larger society would deem as proper. Here's an amusing anecdote. My daughter, when she was about 7 or 8, told me that she could always tell whether I was on the phone with a client or one of my friends. i asked her how she could tell, and she replied, "because you talk that talk when you're on the phone with your friends." My wife and I require good grammar, and we try to set a good example. But I can go ebonic with the best of them, and a country ebonic at that, so there are times and places when to hear me speak would certainly give you the impression that I had no clue about proper speaking. Even at that early age, my daughter, who has friends and cousins who butcher the language on a regular basis, realized that there were certain places and times where one thing is more appropriate than another. People who know more than one way to do something often find it easier to adapt to different situations.
I'm not sure what the Field Negro found so offensive about this Fox news story because he didn't post about it, it was just in the sidebar. I'm not sure if it was the bad talking Negroes who were put on front street, or if he felt there was an implied animus against Blacks who speak "improperly".
What about you? Do you think this is another example of Fox hates Black people?
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Old boy in Texas, told 911 he was about to bust some caps in some burglars, goes right out and done done it, and his community says, that's OK with us. No prosecutor depicts him as an ignorant hillbilly vigilante blasting unarmed petty crooks. Nope, in this case, the prosecutor left the decision on how to deal with this man to his neighbors on the Grand Jury.
Funny thing about all this is that both prosecutors were completely within their job descriptions with these seemingly diametrically opposed approaches to determining what constitutes criminal behavior.
So what is the issue here? Should the old guy in Texas have shot the burglars? Would you shoot somebody coming in or out of your house or your neighbors house if you knew it would be considered justified? Will it keep the other burglars away? Are women allowed to defend themselves against obnoxious men? Does that count for Black women as well as white women? Does that count for gay Black women? How far can this self-defense go? Who gets to decide?
How do we get to the point where we don't have a justice system with such rampant and obvious disparate treatment?
From the AJC
Texas man cleared of shooting suspected burglarsBy JUAN A. LOZANO
Associated Press Writer
HOUSTON — Ever since he fatally shot two men he suspected of burglarizing his next-door neighbor's home, 62-year-old Joe Horn has been both praised and vilified for his actions.
Horn called 911 and told the dispatcher he had a shotgun and was going to kill the intruders. The dispatcher pleaded with him not to go outside, but a defiant Horn confronted the men with a 12-gauge shotgun and shot both in the back.
Some community activists wanted Horn to face charges for the deaths. Supporters of the retired grandfather said what he did was justified under the law.
After listening to evidence in the case, including testimony from Horn himself, a grand jury on Monday cleared him of the shootings.
"He wasn't acting like a vigilante. He didn't want to do it," said Tom Lambright, Horn's attorney.
Lambright said Horn was not a "wild cowboy" who took the law into his own hands after he saw the two suspected burglars, with bags in hand, crawling out of windows from his neighbor's home on Nov. 14 in the Houston suburb of Pasadena. The neighbor was out of town at the time.
Instead, Horn was a frightened retiree who tried to defend his neighbor's property and when the two men came onto his yard and threatened him, Horn defended himself, Lambright said.
"He was scared. He was in fear of his life," he said.
Grand jurors had to consider two issues in the case: the intentional killing of another person and whether the killing was justified either by self-defense or the defense of property, Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson told reporters.