The War on Quentin Tarantino, Arby’s, and the Cleveland Browns – —By Jaeah Lee | Thu Nov. 5, 2015 6:00 AM EST

Welcome to the crazy world of police union PR.

Patrick Sison/AP

A boycott against filmmaker Quentin Tarantino launched in late October by the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has been gaining steam with police unions across the country, with groups from Philadelphia to Los Angeles urging the public to reject the Hollywood director’s movies. “New Yorkers need to send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy that he has no business coming to our city to peddle his slanderous ‘Cop Fiction,'” PBA president Patrick Lynch said at the outset. The campaign is a response to remarks that Tarantino made while participating in a peaceful march against police brutality in New York City on October 24. “When I see murder I cannot stand by,” Tarantino told reporters. “I have to call the murdered the murdered and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”

As of November 2, the national chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police is onboardwith the boycott, and the National Association of Police Organizations, which represents more than 1,000 unions, has also joined in. On Tuesday, Tarantino responded in the Los Angeles Times: “All cops are not murderers. I never said that. I never even implied that,” he said, adding, “What they’re doing is pretty obvious. Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out.”

He’s just the latest. Ever since officer-involved killings became a major national issue, police union leaders have gone on the warpath, using odd boycotts and over-the-top incendiary statements to defend the ranks and push back on rising pressure for reforms. Tarantino joins a colorful list of people and places under fire from the unions. Here are six others:

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Caught Between the Islamic State and the Kurds: Exiled From Tal Abyad – Vice News Published on Oct 22, 2015

In June 2015, Kurdish forces — supported by the Free Syrian Army and US-led coalition airstrikes — drove out the Islamic State (IS) from the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad — a strategically important gain in the battle against the jihadists. Yet the fighting also forced waves of refugees to cross the border into the Turkish town of Akcakale.
The advance on Tal Abyad, containing a diverse population of Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds, provoked the Turkish government and a coalition of rebel groups to accuse Kurdish forces of “ethnic cleansing” and displacing Arabs and Turkmen — an accusation strongly denied by the Kurdish forces.

Yet allegations of forcible displacement persist among refugees, with some telling VICE News that their hometown is now under another hostile occupation, and others stating that life under IS rule was better.

Many refugees in Akcakale have had to set up camp in parks, or rent overcrowded housing. There is a lack of food and a number of children require immediate medical attention.

VICE News meets the refugees and activists of Tal Abyad, where they describe their new life in Turkey, as well as their fears for the future.

Watch “Inside the Battle: Al Nusra-Al Qaeda in Syria (Trailer)” –

Tamir Rice: What we know about the Cleveland police shooting of a 12-year-old boy – Updated by German Lopez on October 11, 2015, 6:45 p.m. ET

 Two outside reviews suggested the Cleveland police shooting of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy, was justified, the New York Times reported.

Rice was throwing snowballs and playing with a toy pellet gun in a Cleveland park on November 22, 2014, when a police car rolled into the snowy field. Within two seconds of getting out of his squad car, officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the 12-year-old. The officer has claimed he thought the pellet gun was a real firearm.

Nearly a year later, on October 10, officials released two independent investigations from a Colorado prosecutor and an FBI supervisory agent that concluded that the shooting was justified, arguing that any reasonable officer placed in the same scenario could have concluded deadly force was necessary. But this is based on a very loose legal standard: The question is not whether the situation could have been avoided, but rather if it was reasonable for Loehmann to perceive a threat once the squad car parked right in front of Rice and saw the boy with a gun that officers thought was an actual firearm.

But critics, including Rice’s family, have blasted the reports, arguing that it’s absurd that an officer would have to resort to force within two seconds of detecting someone with a toy gun — especially in a state where it’s legal to openly carry real guns. They argue the situation could have been handled more calmly and carefully — perhaps by parking the car in another location and approaching Rice more slowly. From this point of view, the argument isn’t so much whether Loehmann’s actions were legally justified once he was right in front of Rice, but whether the scenario could have been avoided with better tactics, training, and protocol.

Whether Loehmann was in the right will be a matter of legal and public debate in the next few months and perhaps years. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty will present evidence on the case to a grand jury. The jurors will then decide whether to file charges against Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, who drove the squad car during the shooting.

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Why Ticket Brokers Hate the Miami Dolphins – By SHARON TERLEP Oct. 1, 2015 2:20 p.m. ET

In bid to control the resale market, team owner Stephen Ross is investing in one brokerage—while cutting off others

A general view of Sun Life Stadium during a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 27.

A general view of Sun Life Stadium during a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 27. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Miami Dolphins haven’t had much luck on the football field this season. But the team’s owner has vaulted to the top of the NFL in another respect: rewriting the rules of ticket scalping. 

In September, the Dolphins went public with a plan to significantly curtail the number of tickets it sells to independent brokers. The goal, the team said, was to make sure fewer tickets ended up being sold to fans of visiting teams. But according to one broker who was cut off, the Dolphins gave a big chunk of these tickets to one firm in particular: Atlanta-based PrimeSport Inc., which was acquired in February by an investor group that includes Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

In some cases, PrimeSport is selling Dolphins tickets for well more than their face value. For a Jan. 3 matchup with the New England Patriots, the Dolphins’ official website has offered a pair of lower-bowl seats for $421 apiece. On PrimeSport’s site, seats one row behind in the same section cost $636—a 51% markup. For Miami’s Nov. 2 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, PrimeSport has listed more than 480 tickets at prices of up to $1,200 each. It is not clear whether these tickets came from the Dolphins or another source.

Miami ticket broker Gus Rodriguez said he used to buy about $1 million of Dolphins tickets every year. The team cut his supply back last season, he said, and wouldn’t sell to him at all this year. Rodriguez said that when he pressed the team to explain, he got a call from Nick Forro, the Dolphins’ vice president of ticket sales. “He said, ‘We have a company that our owner owns and we have to do business with them,’” Rodriguez said. “It’s the first time I ever head an executive from a team say, ‘We can’t sell you tickets because we have our own secondary ticket business.”

‘It’s the first time I ever head an executive from a team say, “We can’t sell you tickets because we have our own secondary ticket business.”’

—Miami ticket broker Gus Rodriguez

A team spokesman denied that Forro at any time asserted that the team would only do business with PrimeSport. The Dolphins declined to make Forro available for comment.

In an interview, Ross, the Dolphins owner, said the Dolphins decided to give so much business to PrimeSport because it is a good broker that focuses primarily on packages that include travel and hospitality. “It’s the best one of all of them,” he said. Ross said his stake in PrimeSport, which is held by RSE Ventures, a firm he co-founded, is “very, very small.” People familiar with the deal said it is less than 2%. Ross said he does not believe that the arrangement, in which he earns a small piece of the profits from a company that scalps his team’s tickets, raises any conflict-of-interest issues.

An NFL spokesman said the league office was aware of the investment and had no issues with it.

True Grit – By Megan H. MacKenzie August 12, 2015

The Myths and Realities of Women in Combat

By January 1, 2016, all positions in the U.S. military, including frontline combat roles, will become open to women—that is, unless the services seek exceptions before October 1. Whether they do will drastically shape the future of the U.S. military.

The exclusion of women from combat in the United States and elsewhere has persisted primarily because of myths and stereotypes associated with female and male capabilities and the military’s “band of brothers” culture. The most persistent of these myths—that women are physically unfit for the demands of war, that the public cannot tolerate female casualties, and that female soldiers limit the cohesion of troops in combat—have been rigorously dismantled by scholars and female soldiers alike in recent years. Today, most Americans support the inclusion of women in combat.

David Hernandez / DOD photo / Handout / REUTERS U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sienna De Santis and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Heidi Dean on a patrol in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, October 2010.

But as the services prepare for female integration, a new myth has come to dominate the debate around the subject: that women who have already served in combat situations—including those who were part of frontline, female-only teams in Afghanistan and Iraq—were in fact deployed primarily to build relationships with local communities and to add a “soft touch” to counterinsurgency operations. Women in the U.S. military, this line of thinking holds, serve as “lady soldiers,” not as true combatants.

In discussions of this myth, the cultural support teams (CSTs), the small female-only units attached to Special Forces and Ranger teams in Afghanistan and tasked with both combat and civilian engagement, have attracted particular attention. Although CSTs were assigned to units on some of the most dangerous combat missions in Afghanistan, claims from public figures that these women took part in the war to “soften” the presence of U.S. troops have contributed to false perceptions that female soldiers remained far from hostile action and that their primary contributions to war relate to their gender, not their capabilities.

Media and military characterizations of CSTs tend to focus on their supposed deescalating effect in hostile areas, their roles in winning “hearts and minds,” and their capacity, to use one common trope, to employ “tea as a weapon” to improve ties with Afghan civilians. Even Eric Olson, a former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and one of the architects of the CST program, claimed that the CSTs’ role “was to be women, not to be combat soldiers.” “The first thing they did when they fast roped out of the first helicopter,” Olson said at the 2015 Aspen Security Forum, “was to take their helmet off, let their hair down, and corral the women and children.”

Women in the U.S. military, this line of thinking holds, serve as “lady soldiers,” not as true combatants. Such “lady soldier” arguments serve an important purpose for policymakers resisting the further integration of female soldiers. Yet as Olson’s statement demonstrates, this position is empirically weak. To claim that women fast roped out of helicopters only to let their hair down is akin to arguing that women took part in night raids so that they could help tuck Afghan children into their beds.


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The GOP civil war has quietly exploded back into the open — and it could get nastier than ever – BRETT LOGIURATO Aug. 2, 2015, 3:26 PM

John BoehnerAP

For a 56th birthday present to himself, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) took perhaps the most aggressive step yet against the Republican Party’s establishment.

It marked perhaps the most bombastic challenge to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) leadership, and another point at which long-simmering tensions within the Republican caucus have exploded out into the open.

Meadows introduced a resolution on Tuesday that aims to force Boehner from his post. The resolution will now be referred to a powerful House committee full of members loyal to Boehner, and has no chance of succeeding. But the message he had attempted to send was clear.

“The House of Representatives, to function effectively, in the service of all citizens of this country, requires the service of a Speaker who will endeavor to follow an orderly and inclusive process without imposing his or her will upon any Member thereof,” Meadows wrote in the resolution.

When Republicans took back control of the Senate and gained a bigger majority in the House of Representatives last year, their leaders promised an era of more responsible governance. But as Congress lurches toward a jam-packed legislative schedule this fall, infighting in both the House of Representatives and the Senate threatens that vow.

Republicans will come back to Washington in September with just 10 days to figure out how to avoid a second potential government shutdown in three years, as the right flank of the party is beginning to push to attach conservative priorities to the bill that keeps the government funded. The ramifications could extend all the way to the presidential campaign trail.

“The tension isn’t new and will continue until someone on the right has a ‘Sister [Souljah]’ moment,” one veteran Republican strategist told Business Insider, referring to the famous moment in American politics when then presidential candidate Bill Clinton repudiated the activist’s comments about race.


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