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The End of Childhood in the Era of the Emerging American Police State PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:23

It wouldn’t be a week in America without another slew of children being punished for childish behavior under the regime of zero tolerance that plagues our nation’s schools. Here are some of the latest incidents.

In Pennsylvania, a 10-year-old boy was suspended for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate, using nothing more than his hands and his imagination. Johnny Jones, a fifth-grader at South Eastern Middle School, was suspended for a day and threatened with expulsion under the school’s weapons policy after playfully using his hands to draw the bowstrings on a pretend “bow” and “shoot” an arrow at a classmate who had held his folder like a gun and “shot” at Johnny. Principal John Horton characterized Johnny’s transgression as “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm” through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow.

 
Iran: It’s Not About Nuclear Weapons PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Monday, 02 December 2013 11:24

If you want to understand the U.S.-Iran controversy, know this: It is not about nuclear weapons.

You’re thinking: Of course it’s about nuclear weapons. Everyone says so.

Well, not everyone does. But it isn’t a numbers game. As William O. Beeman points out in the Huffington Post:

“There is a strange irony in President Obama’s announcement of the temporary agreement. He mentioned the term ‘nuclear weapon’ multiple times in his announcement, implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon. One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line critics.

“The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran has or ever had a nuclear-weapons program. Every relevant intelligence agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade. U.S. National Intelligence Estimates that were made public in 2007 and 2011 underscored this. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also consistently asserted that Iran has not diverted any nuclear material for any military purpose.

“Even Israeli intelligence analysts agree that Iran is ‘not a danger’ to Israel.”

 
Rand Paul’s NSA War and the Invisible Liberals PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Ted Rall   
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 09:45

Way back when, Democrats such as George McGovern opposed wars of choice. And Democrats such as Frank Church exposed the CIA. It later led to an executive order – by President Ronald Reagan, of all people – that banned political assassinations.

A Democratic Congress held impeachment hearings against U.S. President Richard Nixon – partly because he tapped the phones of a few hundred Americans and, in so doing, violated their privacy rights. Back then, millions of liberals marched against the Vietnam War without blinking. It didn’t matter a bit that the president at the time was a Democrat.

But look what’s going on now.

As I write, we have a so-called liberal president in the White House. Yet he and his Democratic congressional allies aren’t fighting the good fight. They’re committing the worst crimes of anyone.

 
Why Rodney Blackwell Thinks He Has a Play in the Davenport Casino Game PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 16:28

Local developer Rodney Blackwell clearly got the Davenport City Council’s attention with a $250-million casino-development proposal on September 7. But from the outset it didn’t appear there was any path forward for it.

The Isle of Capri (IOC) has, through October 15, an exclusive negotiating agreement with Dan Kehl’s Scott County Casino company to sell its Rhythm City property. And, as Blackwell readily admits, even if it didn’t, the Isle wouldn’t want to negotiate with him and his partner, the Canadian company Clairvest Group.

So the city council’s 9-1 vote on September 11 to table a development agreement with Kehl appeared to be little more than a delay. Kehl has said he’ll complete the sale by the October 15 deadline. And the Riverboat Development Authority (RDA) – which holds the Rhythm City gaming license – on September 16 approved an operating agreement with Kehl’s company. (All these agreements are steps toward actually building the casino, and beyond them is approval from the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.)

The message of Kehl’s comments and the RDA’s action is that the train has left the station, and Blackwell isn’t on it. As RDA Chair Gary Mohr told the Quad-City Times: “The RDA will keep its commitments. I don’t know if people don’t understand it or they just don’t like it.”

But Blackwell thinks he has a play. He said in an interview last week that he believes the city council can kill the Kehl deal, and that it further has the leverage to force the Isle of Capri to negotiate with him and Clairvest. Alternatively, the city could use its power to push Kehl to make a larger investment than the $110 million he has pledged to spend on a new casino and hotel complex. (Kehl said the three-phase development will total $200 million.)

 
Licensed to Kill: The Growing Phenomenon of Police Shooting Unarmed Citizens PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 16:25

Here’s a recipe for disaster: Take a young man (or woman), raise him on a diet of violence, hype him up on the power of the gun in his holster and the superiority of his uniform, render him woefully ignorant of how to handle a situation without resorting to violence, train him well in military tactics but allow him to be illiterate about the Constitution, and never stress to him that he is to be a peacemaker and a peace-keeper, respectful of and subservient to the taxpayers, who are in fact his masters and employers.

Once you have fully indoctrinated this young man (or woman) on the idea that the police belong to a brotherhood of sorts, with its own honor code and rule of law, then place this person in situations where he will encounter individuals who knowingly or unknowingly challenge his authority, where he may, justifiably or not, feel threatened, and where he will have to decide between firing a weapon or – the more difficult option – adequately investigating a situation to better assess the danger and risk posed to himself and others, and then act on it by defusing the tension or de-escalating the violence.

I’m not talking about a situation so obviously fraught with risk that there is no other option but to shoot, although I am hard-pressed to consider what that might be outside of the sensationalized Hollywood hostage-crisis scenario. I’m talking about the run-of-the mill encounters between police and citizens that occur daily. In an age when police are increasingly militarized, weaponized, and protected by the courts, these once-routine encounters are now inherently dangerous for any civilian unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 
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