Sunday, August 02, 2015
Baltimore killings soar to a level unseen in 43 years
That Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a black leftist who is anti-police is just a coincidence, of course. Her claim that young blacks must be given "space to destroy" tells you all you need to know. She has tried to row back that comment but young blacks in Baltimore have in fact been given exactly that -- and the death-rate among blacks reflects that. But black deaths only matter when whites inflict them, of course
Baltimore reached a grim milestone on Friday, three months after riots erupted in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody: With 45 homicides in July, the city has seen more bloodshed in a single month than it has in 43 years.
Police reported three deaths — two men shot Thursday and one on Friday. The men died at local hospitals.
With their deaths, this year's homicides reached 189, far outpacing the 119 killings by July's end in 2014. Nonfatal shootings have soared to 366, compared to 200 by the same date last year. July's total was the worst since the city recorded 45 killings in August 1972, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The seemingly Sisyphean task of containing the city's violence prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire her police commissioner, Anthony Batts, on July 8.
"Too many continue to die on our streets," Rawlings-Blake said then. "Families are tired of dealing with this pain, and so am I. Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime."
But the killings have not abated under Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis since then.
But while the city's police are closing cases— Davis announced arrests in three recent murders several days ago — the violence is outpacing their efforts. Davis said Tuesday the "clearance rate" is at 36.6 percent, far lower than the department's mid-40s average.
Crime experts and residents of Baltimore's most dangerous neighborhoods cite a confluence of factors: mistrust of the police; generalized anger and hopelessness over a lack of opportunities for young black men; and competition among dealers of illegal drugs, bolstered by the looting of prescription pills from pharmacies during the riot.
Federal drug enforcement agents said gangs targeted 32 pharmacies in the city, taking roughly 300,000 doses of opiates, as the riots caused $9 million in property damage in the city.
Perched on a friend's stoop, Sherry Moore, 55, said she knew "mostly all" of the young men killed recently in West Baltimore, including an 18-year-old fatally shot a half-block away. Moore said many more pills are on the street since the riot, making people wilder than usual.
"The ones doing the violence, the shootings, they're eating Percocet like candy and they're not thinking about consequences. They have no discipline, they have no respect — they think this is a game. How many can I put down on the East side? How many can I put down on the West side?"
The tally of 42 homicides in May included Gray, who died in April after his neck was broken in police custody. The July tally likewise includes a previous death — a baby whose death in June was ruled a homicide in July.
Shawn Ellerman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said May's homicide spike was probably related to the stolen prescription drugs, a supply that is likely exhausted by now. But the drug trade is inherently violent, and turf wars tend to prompt retaliatory killings.
"You can't attribute every murder to narcotics, but I would think a good number" of them are, he said. "You could say it's retaliation from drug trafficking, it's retaliation from gangs moving in from other territories. But there have been drug markets in Baltimore for years."
Across West Baltimore, residents complain that drug addiction and crime are part of a cycle that begins with despair among children who lack educational and recreational opportunities, and extends when people can't find work.
"We need jobs! We need jobs!" a man riding around on a bicycle shouted to anyone who'd listen after four people were shot, three of them fatally, on a street corner in July.
More community engagement, progressive policing policies and opportunities for young people in poverty could help, community activist Munir Bahar said.
"People are focusing on enforcement, not preventing violence. Police enforce a code, a law. Our job as the community is to prevent the violence, and we've failed," said Bahar, who leads the annual 300 Men March against violence in West Baltimore.
"We need anti-violence organizations, we need mentorship programs, we need a long-term solution. But we also need immediate relief," Bahar added. "When we're in something so deep, we have to stop it before you can analyze what the root is."
Strained relationships between police and the public also play a role, according to Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Arrests plummeted and violence soared after six officers were indicted in Gray's death. Residents accused police of abandoning their posts for fear of facing criminal charges for making arrests, and said emboldened criminals were settling scores with little risk of being caught.
The department denied these claims, and police cars have been evident patrolling West Baltimore's central thoroughfares recently.
But O'Donnell said the perception of lawlessness is just as powerful than the reality.
"We have a national issue where the police feel they are the Public Enemy No. 1," he said, making some officers stand down and criminals become more brazen.
"There's a rhythm to the streets," he added. "And when people get away with gun violence, it has a long-term emboldening effect. And the good people in the neighborhood think, 'Who has the upper hand?'"
One Jew takes his scriptures seriously
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" -- Leviticus 20:13
Six marchers were stabbed at Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade — allegedly by the man who stabbed three people at the parade in 2005.
One victim in Thursday’s stabbings was in critical condition and two were in serious condition.
The alleged assailant — Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox man from Modiin Ilit in the West Bank — is in custody. He reportedly used a kitchen knife.
Schlissel was released from prison two weeks ago for the previous attack, according to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. Upon his release, he reportedly distributed pamphlets that called on “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” in order to stop the parade, according to Haaretz.
The injured were treated on the scene before being evacuated to local hospitals.
Thousands participated in the 14th annual Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, which went through the center of the city. The parade continued after the violence, with hundreds of police and Border Police officers placed along the route to protect the marchers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the Israeli leaders to condemn the attack. He was joined by President Reuven Rivlin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Israel’s chief rabbis and the head of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party also condemned the attack.
Huckabee's 'Oven' Remark Taken Out of Context
It’s been a hard time for politicians not named “Trump” to get any attention, but Mike Huckabee managed it. He did it by comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.
At least that’s what I gathered from headlines like this one from Gawker: “Mike Huckabee Compares Obama to Hitler”
I don’t put huge amounts of stock in Gawker headlines (or really any headlines on the Internet), but then I saw that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said Huckabee had “essentially likened [Barack Obama] to Adolf Hitler.” National Journal’s Ron Fournier went on a tear on Twitter, insisting that Huckabee apologize for comparing Obama to Hitler. And of course, Hillary Clinton and Obama himself denounced Huckabee for making a Hitler comparison. Clinton even said she was “really offended personally,” as if her feelings are what really matters.
Here is what Huckabee said in full during an interview with Breitbart News:
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.”
Now, I’ve never been a big fan of Huckabee’s style of politics — or policy. But a remotely fair reading of the statement strongly suggests that Huckabee was comparing Obama to Neville Chamberlain or some other member of the “Hitler is a man we can do business with” school. That’s the point of calling Obama “naive” for trusting the Iranians — the Hitler in Huckabee’s analogy.
We can parse more deeply if we must. Hitler didn’t march Jews to the doors of the ovens, but into them. The Iranians are the ones with sinister intentions in Huckabee’s description, not Obama, who, again, is described as naive and feckless, not sinister and evil. Huckabee probably shouldn’t have used the word “march” because it muddies his point. “Delivered to” or “abandoned at” would have worked better.
I think, as a general rule, one should pretty much always avoid talking about Jews and ovens unless discussing the actual Holocaust. And one could argue that Huckabee, who insists he never compared Obama to Hitler, was cynically hoping to be misconstrued in order to get some media attention — which he got.
But on the merits, Huckabee isn’t saying anything that lots of serious people haven’t said, albeit more eloquently. In countless speeches, Bibi Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have stressed that the legacy of the Holocaust is such that Israel cannot take a chance on Iran having a nuclear weapon.
In his address to Congress in March, Netanyahu movingly singled out Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel from the audience. “Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, ‘never again,’” Netanyahu said to bipartisan applause. “And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
What mistakes? Precisely the mistakes Huckabee says Obama is making. It’s the same argument.
And it’s not a dumb argument. At least it’s not a dumb argument if you listen to the Iranians. As my National Review colleague David French recently catalogued, Iranian civil, military and religious leaders have for years vowed to “wipe Israel off the map,” deliver a new Holocaust (while denying the first one happened), etc.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran’s pet terrorist group, Hezbollah, has said, “If all the Jews gathered in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide. … It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.” Until that time, Hezbollah has had to make do with killing Jews where they find them.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry don’t take the Iranians at their word when they say they want to kill Jews, no matter how clearly and consistently they say it. But they trust the Iranians to stick to their word on this nuclear agreement (which would be a bad agreement even if Iran could be trusted).
George W. Bush was routinely compared to Hitler with a fraction of the outcry Huckabee has received. Perhaps that’s because Huckabee’s real sin has nothing to do with Hitler analogies and everything to do with Iranian reality.
A California Judge Needs a Lesson in the First Amendment
Late Wednesday, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) banning the Center for Medical Progress from releasing video of a meeting with three StemExpress employees at a restaurant last May, potentially violating fundamental First Amendment precedents that bar prior restraints on speech.
The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a group of “citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances,” has released four undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s program of selling aborted babies’ body parts—and they promise that more videos are on the way. According to the Associated Press, StemExpress is a “Placerville-based company started in 2010 that provides human tissue, blood and other specimens to researchers.” Planned Parenthood is one of StemExpress’s main suppliers.
In one of the videos already released, Holly O’Donnell, a former StemExpress employee, said, “We were asked to procure certain tissues like brain, livers, thymus, pancreas, heart, lungs and pretty much anything on the fetus. It’s basically a huge trafficking of fetal tissues … StemExpress is a company that hires procurement techs to draw blood and dissect dead fetuses and sell the parts to researchers.”
It is clear from the video that O’Donnell was not filmed undercover—she voluntarily related her experiences because of how terrible she felt about what she had done. “I could feel death and pain shoot up my body,” O’Donnell said about seeing and touching the aborted baby parts.
No one can credibly argue that these videos are not news or that the First Amendment does not apply to the vital and important work that CMP is doing to expose potentially illegal and certainly sickening behavior by Planned Parenthood and StemExpress.
Clearly concerned about what other horrendous details may come out in the yet to be released videos, StemExpress filed a complaint this week alleging receipt of stolen property as well as a number of other claims.
Its main claim is invasion of privacy under California Penal Code § 632(a), which prohibits “intentionally and without the consent of all parties … record[ing] [a] confidential communication.” A confidential communication is defined as a communication made:
"… in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party … desires it to be confined to the parties thereto, but excludes a communication made in … any other circumstance in which the parties … may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard."
One of the undercover videos that StemExpress has temporarily stopped from being publicly released is one in May in which StemExpress executives Catherine Dyer, Megan Barr and Kevin Cooksy met with CMP at a restaurant in El Dorado Hills, Calif.
That poses quite a problem for StemExpress and throws doubt onto the legitimacy of its legal claim and the court’s granting of a temporary restraining order. It is unreasonable to expect that communications made in a public restaurant will not be overheard, which would put CMP squarely within the exception in §632(a).
In fact, the Los Angeles-based appeals court confirmed this in Wilkins v. National Broadcasting Company (1999) when it ruled in favor of undercover reporters from NBC’s Dateline who pretended to be potential investors in a company that sold “toll-free” 800 phone lines that fraudulently billed people for the services.
The reporters videotaped a lunch meeting with company executives, and the court concluded that the executives had “no objective expectation of privacy in their business lunch meeting” or that the conversation “would not be divulged to anyone else.”
StemExpress obviously realized that this was a problem because its lawyers, McDermott Will & Emery, say in the complaint that StemExpress chose this restaurant “because of the private nature of its seating.” That is a pretty weak way of trying to get around this statutory exemption, although it apparently worked with the state judge in this case.
Undercover Videos and Censorship
StemExpress also claims that the videos that have been released were “purposely edited in a way to paint the doctors in a negative and factually-misleading light,” subjecting the company to harassment and harming its business. Of course, the problem with this claim is that in each case, CMP has also released the full, unedited video.
The temporary restraining order issued by Judge Joanne B. O’Donnell is limited, enjoining CMP from releasing the video from last May. The court rejected StemExpress’ demand that CMP take down documents the group received from StemExpress including a supply agreement and price list for “fetal liver and material blood specimens.” The order will be in place until August 19, when the court holds a hearing on the matter.
Whether or not StemExpress succeeds on the merits of its claims against CMP for invasion of privacy, the appropriate remedy is not the suppression of speech. What CMP has done is not at all different from the undercover videos that other media sources like CBS’ “60 Minutes” are famous for.
Prior restraint—censorship of speech by the government—is one of the chief harms the First Amendment was meant to prevent. As the influential English legal scholar William Blackstone wrote:
"The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications… Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press…"
The Supreme Court and Free Speech
The Supreme Court has routinely ruled against attempts to censor free speech. The Court noted in Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart (1931) that such prior restraints are the “most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.”
In that case, a trial judge barred the local papers from reporting on certain aspects of a murder trial to ensure the defendant received a fair trial, but the Supreme Court reversed, writing that “a whole community cannot be restrained from discussing a subject intimately affecting life within it.”
In Near v. Minnesota, the Court overturned a state nuisance law allowing for the suppression of newspapers that published “malicious, scandalous, or defamatory” material, noting that a free press is “especially cherished for the immunity it afforded from prior restraint.” The fact that these videos are proving to be “scandalous” for Planned Parenthood and StemExpress is not a valid reason to restrain their publication.
In New York Times v. United States (1971), the Court ruled in favor of the New York Times in its bid to publish the classified (and stolen) Pentagon Papers and determined that civil or criminal proceedings after the fact would be the appropriate sanction for any misdeeds, rather than prior restraints on speech and publication.
In a concurring opinion, Justice William O. Douglass wrote, “These disclosures may have a serious impact. But that is no basis for sanctioning a previous restraint on the press.” Another concurring opinion written by Justice Hugo Black observes, “Both the history and the language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be free to publish news, whatever the source.”
Privacy Claims vs. First Amendment
Further, parties like StemExpress asserting privacy claims in order to prevent publication of unfavorable information generally have not fared well in court.
For example, in CBS Inc. v. Davis (1994), Justice Harry Blackmun stayed an injunction that would have stopped CBS’ “48 Hours” from broadcasting surreptitiously recorded footage of a South Dakota meat-packing company’s unsanitary facilities, finding that “indefinite delay of the broadcast will cause irreparable harm to the news media that is intolerable under the First Amendment.” He wrote that while the “prohibition against prior restraints is by no means absolute, the gagging of publication has been considered acceptable only in ‘exceptional cases.’”
Further, Blackmun pointed out that even “where questions of allegedly urgent national security…or competing constitutional interests…are concerned,” prior restraint is appropriate only when “the evil that would result from the reportage is both great and certain and cannot be mitigated by less intrusive measures.”
Thus, StemExpress’ desire to avoid further ridicule, criticism or scandal for its nefarious involvement in the gruesome harvesting and sale of aborted babies’ body parts does not outweigh the public interest in seeing these videos. No one can credibly argue that these videos are not news or that the First Amendment does not apply to the vital and important work that CMP is doing to expose potentially illegal and certainly sickening behavior by Planned Parenthood and StemExpress.
Though the California court halted the Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos from the meeting in May for now, this won’t (and shouldn’t) be the last word.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.