Ohio grand jury indicts university police officer for murder

July 29, 2015

The New York Times is reporting,

A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month.

In the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19. At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joe Deters, said that Officer Tensing “purposely killed” Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper.

According to the officer’s video above, which was recorded by the officer’s body cam, Tensing stopped DuBose because he was driving a vehicle without a front license plate, which is a traffic violation. The initial observation and the stop took place off campus. Although University of Cincinnati police officers have authority to stop and cite people off campus for traffic violations, they rarely do so. The county prosecutor, Joe Deters, characterized the stop as “what we call in the vernacular a pretty chicken-crap stop.” In my opinion, this is also an apt description of Texas State Trooper Brian Encina’s stop of Sandra Bland on July 10th for failing to signal a lane change.

When Samuel DuBose was unable to produce a driver’s license, Officer Tensing started opening the driver’s side door and ordered him to get out of the car. Instead of complying, Sam DuBose pulled the door shut and attempted to drive away. Tensing drew his gun and shot him in the head at point-blank range killing him.

This is similar to what happened in South Carolina last April when Patrolman Michael Slager, who is white, shot Walter Scott, who is black, four times in the back killing him as Scott attempted to run away after a traffic stop.

Another similarity is Tensing lied to his fellow officers about what happened. He said DuBose struggled with him. The video disproves that.

The legal rule in both cases is the same: A police officer may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect unless he reasonably believes the suspect is armed and presents a danger to himself or to the public. Patrolman Slager and now Officer Tensing have been indicted for murder because the people they killed were not armed and there was no reason to believe they were dangerous to others.

Mr. DuBose was 43-years-old. He was the father of 10 children.

Officer Tensing was 25-years-old. He had been a police officer for four years. He was fired today by the campus police.

He turned himself in.


The Republican Party has nothing to offer except clowns, fear and hate

July 28, 2015

The Republican Party is destroying itself. A recent Pew Research Center poll conducted July 14-20 surveying 2002 adults found,

The Republican Party’s image has grown more negative over the first half of this year. Currently, 32% have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60% have an unfavorable view. Favorable views of the GOP have fallen nine percentage points since January. The Democratic Party continues to have mixed ratings (48% favorable, 47% unfavorable).

The Democratic Party has often held an edge over the GOP in favorability in recent years, but its advantage had narrowed following the Republicans’ midterm victory last fall. Today, the gap is as wide as it has been in more than two years.

Republicans, in particular, are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago. About two-thirds (68%) express a favorable opinion of their party, the lowest share in more than two years. Six months ago, 86% of Republicans viewed the GOP positively.<em>[P]ositive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%. Independents also view the Republican Party less favorably; 29% today, compared with 37% six months ago.</em> Democrats, by contrast, continue to express highly positive opinions of their party: 86% view the party favorably, little changed from 84% in January.

/snip/

As has been the case over the past four years, the Republican Party is viewed as more extreme in its positions than the Democratic Party. Currently, 52% say the GOP is more extreme, compared with 35% who say this better describes the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party continues to hold wide advantages over the Republicans on empathy and honesty. By 53% to 31%, the Democratic Party is viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me.” And the Democrats hold a 16-point lead on governing in an honest and ethical way (45% to 29%).

A Gallup poll conducted July 8-12 concluded,

The Democratic Party has regained its edge over the Republican Party in terms of favorability, another sign that it is recovering from its poor 2014 showing. But both parties remain unpopular relative to their historical performance, which suggests neither has the wind at its back going into the 2016 presidential contest.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting,

Consumer confidence slumped in July by the most in almost four years as households became less upbeat about the outlook for the economy, employment and their finances, figures from the New York-based Conference Board showed Tuesday.

Swings in stock prices stemming from the Greek financial crisis and weakness in China took a toll, according to the group, showing why Federal Reserve policy makers may want to consider international events in determining when to raise interest rates. Outsized moves in confidence have been common this year, underscoring erratic consumer temperament that poses a risk to already uneven household spending.

“It’s a bit of a surprise and may prove a little erratic,” said David Sloan, senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York. “If the stock market weakness recently extends further, a turnaround might be harder. But energy prices have slipped and that could give some support to consumers.”

The Conference Board’s index retreated to 90.9 this month from a revised 99.8 in June. The July reading, the weakest in 10 months, was lower than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The 8.9 point drop also marked the biggest negative surprise since February 2003. The median forecast was 100, with estimates ranging from 97 to 103 after a previously reported 101.4 in June. The gauge has moved at least five points in five of the first seven months of the year.

The Republicans have nothing to offer to reverse the trend except clowns, fear and hate.

Clowns, fear and hate do not create jobs that pay a living wage.

____________________________

For additional reading, see my article titled, Big Ideas Poll Shows Republicans are Clueless


Brain-eating amoeba is eating Republican brains

July 27, 2015

Mike Huckabee told Breitbart News that President Obama is “naive” and that by doing the deal with Iran, “he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Politico reports,

The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Semitism, immediately denounced Huckabee’s language.

“Whatever one’s views of the nuclear agreement with Iran — and we have been critical of it, noting that there are serious unanswered questions that need to be addressed — comments such as those by Mike Huckabee suggesting the president is leading Israel to another Holocaust are completely out of line and unacceptable,” ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening.”

Huckabee refuses to back down from his insanely stupid and offensive statement.

Then along comes Jeb Bush: After criticizing US workers for not working hard enough, even though their productivity has increased as their incomes have fallen while the rich, including Bush, have gotten richer without working, he stepped in it again saying he wants to get rid of Medicare and replace it with vouchers, a remarkably bad idea pushed by Paul Ryan. A Bush spokesperson tried to clean up his mess by saying Bush only meant to say he wanted to raise the age of eligibility. Paul Krugman figuratively slammed him up against a wall today by noting,

There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.

And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.

The Washington Post reports today,

On July 9, just a few days after swimming in Minnesota’s Lake Minnewaska, 14-year-old Hunter Boutain was dead. Doctors believe the culprit was the water-dwelling amoeba Naegleria fowleri. Some people know it by another name: the brain-eating amoeba.

It’s the stuff of horror films: The tiny amoeba crawls up the nose to the brain, where it wreaks havoc, killing 97 percent of its victims. But while the amoeba is certainly devastating for the small number of people it infects, calling it a brain-eater may not be quite right. The immune system’s response to infection — not the amoeba itself — is the real killer, some scientists suspect.

Regardless, the damn thing has been detected in the public water supply in Louisiana.

My sources on the street tell me that both men have been seen in Louisiana recently. Therefore, I can confidently report that Naegleria fowleri is eating silly widdle Republican brains.


Marijuana in Sandra Bland’s blood is irrelevant

July 26, 2015

Excuse me while I go on a rant.

People need to stop demonizing Sandra Bland because marijuana was detected in her blood sample taken at the autopsy.

So what?

The presence of a drug in a person’s blood does not mean anything unless they were impaired by the drug and they weren’t impaired unless a toxic level of the drug was detected. Even if they had a toxic level, it would not cause a person to react violently or to commit suicide. They would probably eat something and go to sleep.

I am sick and tired of the demonization of black victims killed by police. Oh my God! Right wing heads explode at the very thought that a victim of violence might have had a detectable amount of marijuana in their blood. All of a sudden. the victim deserved to die, according to their thought process.

Were these turkeys home schooled?

(apologies to turkeys who are actually smarter than these right wing freaks)

No peer reviewed scientific study supports their irrational fears.

Millions of people smoke pot and have no trouble functioning. Get over it, Deal with it.

Let’s put the focus back where it belongs:

1) On the cop who arrested Sandra Bland in violation of his department’s rules and regulations; and

2) On the jail that did not comply with its own rules regarding observation of potentially suicidal inmates.

The media needs to ignore the racist right wing hate machine instead of pandering to their ridiculous concerns.

_______________________________

Notice to Readers: I am posting five days per week at Firedoglake, which is why you haven’t seen much of me lately. I’ve been so busy that I’ve neglected to cross post here and when I remember, my article is stale news and I don’t post it. Mea culpa. I’ll try to do better.

 

Here’s my Friday post on Sandra Bland.

 

Fred


Eurozone summit meeting regarding Greece is underway

July 12, 2015

The European finance ministers have agreed to punt the Greek question to the Eurozone leaders who began their meeting in Brussels a little over 30 minutes ago. By Greek question, I am referring to whether they decide to loan Greece as much as 74 billion euros ($82.6 billion) or show them to the Grexit. France and Italy oppose a Grexit; Germany favors it.

The dispute is not so much about the money as it is about resolving two competing considerations: (1) whether Greek officials will make a good faith effort to comply with the terms of the loan and (2) whether the eurozone will begin unraveling and eventually collapse if the leaders of the eurozone decide not to loan the money. There is no easy answer.

Paul Krugman said Friday in the New York Times, the unitary currency and hard money loans (i.e., austerity) constitute a major structural impediment to an improving economy.

What turned Greek debt troubles into catastrophe was Greece’s inability, thanks to the euro, to do what countries with large debts usually do: impose fiscal austerity, yes, but offset it with easy money.

/snip/

The main point, however, is that the ratio of debt to G.D.P. is up because G.D.P. is down by more than 20 percent. And why is GDP down? Largely because of the austerity measures Greece’s creditors forced it to impose.

/snip/

Greece, unfortunately, no longer had its own currency when it was forced into drastic fiscal retrenchment. The result was an economic implosion that ended up making the debt problem even worse. Greece’s formula for disaster, in other words, didn’t just involve austerity; it involved the toxic combination of austerity with hard money.

As I’ve said before, I think Greece would be better off in the long run, if it were to print its own currency and reject the austerity measures.

The Guardian is providing live coverage of the summit meeting of the leaders of the Eurozone. You can follow it here.

___________________

For Background: Articles I have written about the Greek debt crisis at Firedoglake:

Greeks vote to reject Eurozone bailouts conditioned on austerity measures

Loss of democracy is the real cost of membership in the Eurozone


James Holmes death penalty trial is a colossal waste of time and money

July 11, 2015

James Eagan Holmes was arrested on July 20, 2012 shortly after killing 12 and wounding 70 people at the midnight premier of a new Batman film in the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, CO. He was eventually charged with 152 crimes, including 12 counts of premeditated murder, 12 counts of depraved heart murder (charged in the alternative) and 70 counts of attempted murder. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty even though there is no question that Holmes was mentally ill but legally sane at the time of the shootings — one psychiatrist diagnosed him as suffering from schizotypal disorder while a second psychiatrist diagnosed him as suffering from shizoaffective disorder — and he offered to plead guilty to a life-without-parole sentence. After the prosecution rejected the defense offer, Holmes changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. The trial began with jury selection on January 20, 2015. Both sides rested yesterday. Closing arguments for the guilt phase are scheduled to start on Tuesday.

We who have experience representing clients in death penalty cases* refer to the guilt phase in a slam dunk case like this as a slow-motion guilty plea. That is, when we lack a defense, instead of pleading guilty, we use the guilt phase to introduce evidence that mitigates the seriousness of the offense. Holmes’s insanity defense is doomed because he admitted to police that he knew killing was wrong. But there is no dispute that he was mentally ill. While not a defense, mental illness is a powerful mitigating factor and, as I’ve said previously, I think the jury will likely vote for a life-without-parole sentence after the penalty phase for the simple reason that killing somebody who was mentally ill through no fault of their own is morally and ethically repugnant to most people.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, this trial has been a colossal waste of taxpayer time and money.

*I was a death penalty lawyer until I retired in 2005.


The confederate flag will no longer fly over the South Carolina Capitol

July 9, 2015

Behold the power of speech!

The hour was late, long after midnight in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Looked like the defenders of the confederate flag were going to win another battle to keep it flying at the State Capitol. In just four minutes, Representative Jenny Horne, a descendant of Jefferson Davis, changed the outcome.


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