U.S. Mayors Say Ferguson Could Happen To Us – By BEN WOFFORD July 28, 2015

City leaders worried about race in policing and schools, POLITICO Magazine survey finds.

Getty Images/Politico Magazine illustration.

Getty Images/Politico Magazine illustration.

The leaders of America’s cities have serious concerns about race relations, minority communities and policing issues as the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of last year’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a POLITICO Magazine survey finds. And urban public schools—widely identified by experts as the key to improvement of neighborhood conditions, racial equity and social mobility—won’t offer a solution anytime soon, according to large majorities of mayors who also expressed deep dissatisfaction with the state of their city’s public education systems, citing lack of funding, high drop-out rates and racial segregation as their leading causes of concern.

Fully nine out of 10 mayors surveyed expressed concern about the state of race relations and police in their city, according to the survey, with nearly a third describing themselves as “deeply concerned” about race and policing in their cities. The revelation illustrates the intensity and seriousness with which mayors have taken up the issue, as cities from Baltimore to New York City to Ferguson have dealt with public unrest over the last year.

The findings were part of POLITICO Magazine’s second quarterly national Mayors’ Survey, conducted over the course of July as part of the magazine’s award-winning “What Works” series, which heard from 31 mayors spanning the country from Philadelphia to Tampa to San Francisco to New Orleans to Anchorage. While not scientific—the large majority of respondents were Democrats, 77 percent, as well as three independents and four Republicans—the survey represented a diverse range of cities from across the nation and showed clear trends across cities of varying sizes, political traditions and geographic regions.

Debates and flare-ups around alleged police misconduct have seized cities as disparate as PhiladelphiaMadison and Houston—each governed by mayors who participated in the POLITICO Magazine survey—and across the nation, mayors have begun to lead efforts to repair community trust and broach policy discussions about department conduct.

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Inside a Bujumbura Opposition Stronghold: Burundi on the Brink (Dispatch 2) – Published on Jul 10, 2015

The Buterere neighborhood of Burundi’s capital city Bujumbura is a stronghold of support for the National Forces of Liberation, one of the main opposition parties currently campaigning against President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Buterere is also the site of many demonstrations and clashes between protesters and police since Nkurunziza announced his candidacy for a highly contested third term in April.

On the morning of Thursday July 9, VICE News arrived at the entrance of Buterere to find sporadic but consistent gunfire and a roadblock built by protesters. After the gunfire settled, police officers forced the demonstrators to tear down the barricade.

Once clear of the police, VICE News entered Buterere to hear testimony from residents about what it’s like inside one of Bujumbura’s opposition strongholds.

Watch “Fleeing to Rwanda: Burundi On The Brink (Dispatch 1)” – http://bit.ly/1HRDpOQ

Many in Nation Tired of Explaining Things to Idiots – Borowitz Report Jun 23 2015

Credit Photograph by Toshi Sasaki/Getty

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question are so painfully obvious, a new poll indicates.

According to the poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, while millions have been vexed for some time by their failure to explain incredibly basic information to dolts, that frustration has now reached a breaking point.

Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of stupid people, the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions tops the list, with a majority saying that they will no longer bother trying to explain this to cretins.

Coming in a close second, statistical proof that gun control has reduced gun deaths in countries around the world is something that a significant number of those polled have given up attempting to break down for morons.

Finally, a majority said that trying to make idiots understand why a flag that symbolizes bigotry and hatred has no business flying over a state capitol only makes the person attempting to explain this want to put his or her fist through a wall.

In a result that suggests a dismal future for the practice of explaining things to idiots, an overwhelming number of those polled said that they were considering abandoning such attempts altogether, with a broad majority agreeing with the statement, “This country is exhausting.”


The end of casual Christianity – By Michael Gerson Opinion writer May 25 at 7:49 PM

The Roman historian Tacitus described Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians: “In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and torn to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights.”

Pope Francis leads the Pentecostal Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Sunday. (Alessandro Di Meo/european pressphoto agency)

In spite of what you may have read or heard, the recent Pew Research Center report “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” was better news for Christians than this. “Is Christianity in America Doomed?” asked one headline, about a faith with which 71 percent of Americans still identify.

Most of the actual decline in believers from 2007 to 2014 was concentrated among Roman Catholics and the Protestant mainline, and among those most loosely tethered to religious faith. Evangelical Christians held pretty steady, which set up an odd chain of reactions. Secularists were pleased about the decline of Christianity. Some conservative Christians were pleased about the decline of theological liberalism. The latter is evidence of an old grudge.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Protestant mainline decisively won the battle for cultural preeminence — triumphing in public battles such as the Scopes Trial and leaving fundamentalists to retreat into a subculture. So the mainline’s comeuppance is met with uncharitable satisfaction in some conservative circles — call it William Jennings Bryan’s revenge. The language of “decline,” however, is imprecise. The mainline has not so much declined as faded into the broader culture. “Liberals have learned that it’s difficult for the church to survive,” says historian George Marsden, “if there’s nothing that makes the church distinct from culture.”

And this is what the Pew study is describing: the advance, particularly among the young, of an appealing, powerful culture that has its own standards and values (expressive individualism, moral relativism, lifestyle liberalism) but no longer presupposes religious belief and finds traditionalism to be repressive. For much of the post-World War II period, saying you were a Christian was another way of saying you weren’t a Jew (those being the two available options). This left a large number of Americans identifying with a religious tradition they did not practice. The assumption of faith has gradually — now more rapidly — fallen away. There may or may not be a decline in Christian practice. But we are certainly seeing the collapse of casual Christianity and of religious belief as a civic assumption.

The media are focused on the implications of these changes for family structure and sexual mores. Many reporters and commentators seem pleased and surprised that the values they absorbed at Sarah Lawrence College or Brown University have gained sudden cultural traction.

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Report: 6 months later, investigators haven’t questioned cop who killed Tamir Rice – Updated by German Lopez on May 15, 2015, 2:50 p.m. ET

It’s been nearly six months since a Cleveland police officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice as he played in a park — and county investigators have yet to question the two cops involved in the shooting, according to a report from Mother Jones’s Jaeah Lee.

On November 22, Rice was throwing snowballs and playing with an airsoft gun when a man called 911 because he thought Rice was behaving suspiciously, although he noted the boy’s gun was “probably fake.” Within two seconds of arriving on the scene and getting out of his squad car, officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice, who died in the hospital the next day. The entire encounter was caught on video, which shows Rice lying on the ground for four minutes before he got any medical care — and that care only came from an FBI agent who happened to be in the area.

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office took over the investigation into the shooting in January. But the investigation has dragged on, now taking longer than the queries into the police killings of Eric GarnerMichael BrownFreddie Gray, and Walter Scott.

But in all that time, Mother Jones reported, the sheriff’s office hasn’t questioned Loehmann, who shot the young black boy, or Frank Garmback, the officer who drove the squad car.

As they wait for answers, the Rice family has suffered. Rice’s mom, Samaria Rice, reportedly lived in a homeless shelter for some time because “she could no longer live next door to the killing field of her son.” The family also couldn’t bury Rice’s body for more than five months — in case it was needed for the investigation — but over the past week the family announced that he was recently cremated.

The sheriff’s office has said that a majority of its work is complete and a resolution should come in the coming weeks. Investigators will turn over the evidence to a grand jury, which will decide whether to press charges. Depending on the decision, local officials are preparing for protests on the scale of those in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after Freddie Gray and Michael Brown’s deaths.


Baltimore Killed Freddie Gray – By EMILY LIEB May 04, 2015

Everywhere you look in the city you can see the not-so-distant shadow of Jim Crow.

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 03:  A mural dedicated to Freddie Gray is seen on a wall of the Gilmor Home in the Sandtown neighborhood where he was arrested on May 3, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray later died in custody; the Maryland state attorney announced on Friday that charges would be brought against the six police officers who arrested Gray.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD – MAY 03: A mural dedicated to Freddie Gray is seen on a wall of the Gilmor Home in the Sandtown neighborhood where he was arrested on May 3, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray later died in custody; the Maryland state attorney announced on Friday that charges would be brought against the six police officers who arrested Gray. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The past isn’t past. William Faulkner said it, and Freddie Gray’s death proves it. For the past 100 years, the people who had the power in Baltimore built a city in which white property was more important than black citizenship—they created a city, you might say, that killed Freddie Gray.

“The coming of violence to Baltimore’s ghetto,” began the American Friends Service Committee’s report on the Baltimore uprising in April 1968, “was no surprise.” Those 1968 riots, sparked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., were fueled by the abuses and indignities that had set-off riots in other American cities: in Baltimore, just as in Watts and Harlem and Newark and Louisville and Detroit, white children went to better schools than black children, played in cleaner parks and community centers and rarely had to watch as police officers harassed their parents for no good reason.

As they do today, many of Baltimore’s African-Americans lived in overcrowded, run-down apartments in neighborhoods where zoning and housing ordinances were barely enforced, good jobs didn’t exist, white merchants exploited their customers without restraint and the real-estate market bled them of every penny they had. “When one accumulates a list of the complaints of Baltimoreans,” the Quakers concluded, “one tends to wonder why the retaliation was not worse.”

One still tends to wonder.

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Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/05/baltimore-freddie-gray-117614.html#ixzz3ZGG1KVY

What Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton told us with their responses to Baltimore – Updated by Jonathan Allen on May 3, 2015, 7:10 a.m. ET

Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida governor Jeb Bush participates in a discussion with the Editor of the National Review, Rich Lowry, April 30. — Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton each took a crack at addressing the most pressing of policy issues in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death and the ensuing riots in Baltimore: How to break cycles of poverty and violence in America’s cities.

They both looked back to the 1990s and came to some very different conclusions.

Bush, in remarks at the National Review Institute, emphasized reforming the nation’s education and welfare systems — ideas he espoused in his campaigns for, and time in, the Florida governor’s office. It was a bout of now-more-than-ever-ism firmly rooted in the era of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Clinton, on the other hand, called for an end to “mass incarceration,” implicitly rejecting the tough-on-crime policies her husband signed into law and then campaigned on in 1996. The words “welfare reform,” which she supported when her husband was president, didn’t escape her lips. Instead, she proposed providing body cameras for police forces nationwide.

Their divergent prescriptions are revelatory about the opposite political needs of Bush and Clinton at the moment. He needs white conservatives. She needs black liberals.

What Bush needs

With fellow conservatives angry over Bush’s support for Common Core education standards and immigration reform, he’s using his record as Florida’s governor to show that he’s conservative enough to carry the party’s banner in 2016.

The retro kick presents a little bit of a danger to Bush because fellow Republican hopeful Marco Rubio is painting him — along with Clinton — as yesterday’s news.

But it’s far better for Bush to talk with Republican voters about a shared appreciation for ideas taken off the GOP shelf than spend more time debating the policies on which they disagree. Besides, talking about his time as Florida’s governor creates a contrast he really wants to hammer: His executive experience against the lack thereof among the three first-term senators — Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — who are running for the GOP nomination.

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