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Number of posts: 21,376
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(last year in which the Kraska study, cited below, collected information)
-- up from a "few hundred" a year in 1970s (when the militarized police units were first introduced and given a big propaganda roll-out on TV in the form of a "S.W.A.T." series).
-- up from 3,000 in early 1980s
All started in the late 1960s with Daryl Gates and the Nixonian war on drugs, and panic over the rise of black push-back.
The country's first official SWAT team started in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. By 1975, there were approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by the criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80%. The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids. Some federal agencies also now have their own SWAT teams, including NASA and the Department of the Interior.
The idea for the first SWAT team in Los Angeles arose during the domestic strife and civil unrest of the mid-1960s. Daryl Gates, then an inspector with the Los Angeles Police Department, had grown frustrated with his department's inability to respond effectively to incidents like the 1965 Watts riots. So his thoughts turned to the military. He was drawn in particular to Marine Special Forces and began to envision an elite group of police officers who could respond in a similar manner to dangerous domestic disturbances. Mr. Gates initially had difficulty getting his idea accepted. Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker thought the concept risked a breach in the divide between the military and law enforcement. But with the arrival of a new chief, Thomas Reddin, in 1966, Mr. Gates got the green light to start training a unit. By 1969, his SWAT team was ready for its maiden raid against a holdout cell of the Black Panthers.
At about the same time, President Richard Nixon was declaring war on drugs. Among the new, tough-minded law-enforcement measures included in this campaign was the no-knock raid—a policy that allowed drug cops to break into homes without the traditional knock and announcement. After fierce debate, Congress passed a bill authorizing no-knock raids for federal narcotics agents in 1970. Over the next several years, stories emerged of federal agents breaking down the doors of private homes (often without a warrant) and terrorizing innocent citizens and families. Congress repealed the no-knock law in 1974, but the policy would soon make a comeback (without congressional authorization).
During the Reagan administration, SWAT-team methods converged with the drug war. By the end of the 1980s, joint task forces brought together police officers and soldiers for drug interdiction. National Guard helicopters and U-2 spy planes flew the California skies in search of marijuana plants. When suspects were identified, battle-clad troops from the National Guard, the DEA and other federal and local law enforcement agencies would swoop in to eradicate the plants and capture the people growing them. Advocates of these tactics said that drug dealers were acquiring ever bigger weapons and the police needed to stay a step ahead in the arms race. There were indeed a few high-profile incidents in which police were outgunned, but no data exist suggesting that it was a widespread problem. A study done in 1991 by the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute found that less than one-eighth of 1% of homicides in the U.S. were committed with a military-grade weapon. Subsequent studies by the Justice Department in 1995 and the National Institute for Justice in 2004 came to similar conclusions: The overwhelming majority of serious crimes are committed with handguns, and not particularly powerful ones.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Jul 5, 2014, 11:30 AM (0 replies)
"I write songs about Jesus" is not the same as "Buy me because I do Christian music as part of a product line marketed to audiences who want reinforcement of their Christian identity," etc., in a context where the rest of rock music is suspect.
But there's no should here.
And the real dividing line perhaps is between good and crap.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sun Jun 22, 2014, 09:52 AM (0 replies)
The Chavistas have learned the lesson of history, and this is why they aren't living under a dictatorship of death squads.
"That failed coup," in 2002,
which was justified by the same sorts of violent street clashes we see today, gave us a good picture of what the Venezuelan opposition would look like in power: all legitimate branches of government abolished, the constitution scrapped, state and grassroots media shut down by force, popular organizations under military attack, and dozens dead in the streets.
George Ciccariello-Maher describes how the organization and consciousness of the Venezuelan people was able to reverse the oligarchs' coup.
Or imagine if Castro had not been ruthless in his own defense. He'd be a footnote, someone the CIA would have overthrown and murdered more than 50 years ago.
If the U.S. wants to promote openness and bourgeois rights in these countries, its most effective move would be to STOP ATTACKING THEM!!!
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Jun 21, 2014, 04:00 PM (0 replies)
Most of you are aware that since 1998 democracy in Venezuela has been under heavy and near-continuous attack by that country's wealthy oligarchy, with ample overt and covert backing from the U.S. government.
It is a great tragedy of our time that our government still does not support the struggles of the people in Latin America, but continues to align with their ruling classes and in many cases the worst of their oppressors. In one of the greatest positive moments of the 21st century, however, the attempted CIA-backed military coup d'etat in 2002 was turned back by a massive uprising of the people.
More recently, the death of Chavez has encouraged the pro-oligarchic minority to renew their attempts at permanent social sabotage. As the oligarchs continue to lose elections, these violent outbreaks have had the sole aim of bringing down the elected government and reversing the achievements of the Bolivarian reform movement, which continues to be backed by the majority.
The lies of the oligarchs (who still control most of Venezuela's mass media) and related disinformation campaigns receive privileged treatment in the Western media. At times they have also been exposed. One example was when an "opposition" Twitter feed took famous pictures of protest and police brutality from around the world and falsely captioned these as being from Venezuela!
Though almost as clumsy, other lies persist, however, and are repeated on a frequent basis by New York Times and Reuters. They are also echoed by a small but very persistent grouping of left-liberal anti-communist ideologists who always seem to toe the State Department line, as is also evident on this site.
Here's an excellent rundown from Jacobin on one of the most pathological oligarchic myths, specifically the panic about the self-organization of the Venezuelan working class (also known as the colectivos).
"The dangers of this myth should not be understated," George Ciccariello-Maher writes. "By dehumanizing all those it broadly describes, the term colectivos legitimizes violence against them (just as the bizarre, racist rumor that the National Guard is infiltrated by Cubans no doubt serves to legitimize sniper attacks)."
It should also recall for you the Tea Party rhetoric against "collectivists" in the States. The "opposition" in Venezuela occupies much the same politics as the Tea Party, but they have grown far more extreme and more prone to use the organized violence that they project on to their opponents.
An Empty Signifier
On the surface, colectivos refers to the grassroots revolutionary collectives that make up the most organized element of chavismo. Beyond this, the term loses all clarity. On February 12, for example, it was widely claimed on Twitter that the student Bassil da Costa was shot by armed collectives. On February 19, videos were circulated claiming that colectivos were rampaging through the wealthy zone of Altamira in Caracas firing hundreds of live rounds. And when the young beauty queen Génesis Carmona was killed, her death was immediately blamed on the colectivos.
As it turns out, da Costa was almost certainly killed by uniformed and plainclothes Sebin (intelligence) officials who have since been arrested and charged.
(How often do you see that with police killings in the United States, by the way?)
Those present were not colectivos, even according to Altamira’s opposition mayor Ramón Muchacho and were not firing live rounds. According to both ballistics evidence and her own friends, Génesis Carmona was shot from behind, while the only Chavistas nearby seem to have been at least several blocks in the opposite direction. And yet these claims and many like them circulated instantly and tirelessly throughout social media, feeding a gullible mainstream and foreign media, often mediated by English-language blogs like Caracas Chronicles.
We could add to these examples both the many nonexistent, imagined aggressions as well as the overall death count from the protests. According to one detailed account, of those killed by “unidentified gunmen” — the category we would expect to correlate most directly to the fear of the colectivos — less than one-third were actually opposition protesters.
So how can we make sense of the spread of this shadowy concept? The label was certainly not taken on voluntarily. Like many similar terms — notably that of “Tupamaros” (created by the Metropolitan Police in the 1980s to describe urban militants) — colectivos emerged and gained its recent force as a denunciation invented by its enemies. In what Frantz Fanon would call “overdetermination from without,” individuals are identified as collective members prior to choosing that identity themselves. The term’s aspiration to reductive homogenization can be seen in how it is most often rendered with the definite article — the collectives. The colectivos are armed by the opposition’s definition. But only a small sector of revolutionary organizations are in fact armed, while most tarred with the term are not, making the choice of the term peculiar indeed. All of which leaves us with a well-worn set of markers that are simultaneously economic, political, and racial: being poor, dark-skinned, and wearing a red shirt is enough to be deemed a collective member these days.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Jun 21, 2014, 03:37 PM (24 replies)
The point about him being "atheist" is that he was a scam artist pretending to be a Christian for money, not that "atheists are bad."
Posted by JackRiddler | Fri Jun 20, 2014, 10:43 AM (1 replies)
There is no one who has reported on "the Family" more than Jeff Sharlet, who spent months living at their DC house and who wrote a book, The Family. Any reporting from Maddow and everyone else ultimately is thanks to Sharlet breaking the story in the first place.
Second, people should decide how they will vote based on their own conscience and perception. Maddow is an employee of a commercial TV network owned jointly by Microsoft and the Comcast corporation (the main culprit behind the push to end net neutrality). Despite this, she manages to be one of many good reporters and commentators in the world. She is allowed this because MS-NBC in part caters to a "liberal" market. Maddow is not therefore god, a guru or a dictator. Her possible endorsements in American elections should compel no one's decision.
Posted by JackRiddler | Tue Jun 17, 2014, 08:32 AM (1 replies)
Language is a convention for communication, not a set of immutable laws like computer programming. Certain prohibitions on clear common usage are merely neuroses for the middlebrow. You may end a sentence with a preposition, split an infinitive, use hopefully to describe your attitude in speaking, and choose whether to use the Oxford comma on the basis of clarity rather than literality.
Also, you may use the edit function to fix your mistakes.
Posted by JackRiddler | Tue Jun 17, 2014, 07:52 AM (0 replies)
when I see "welfare recipients" with consumer electronics?
(How do I know they're on welfare?! Because I have the magic radar that comes with being a white guy? Anyway...)
I think that it's 2014.
Capitalism has gotten pretty good at over-producing formerly exclusive consumer junk and getting it into the hands of many millions of people at discount prices. Sometimes it even comes for free. Surplus junk has to be unloaded to clear the shelves for the next generations of junk, and these tend to arrive at shorter intervals.
At least, that's how it usually works in the rich countries.
I also think that most everyone nowadays, whether poor or less poor, needs this technology if they're going to work and get by.
And at the same time, I think production of this technology doesn't do jack shit to lower the exorbitant and soul-crushing rents and debts to which most everyone is subject.
It also doesn't magically conjure up jobs that can consistently pay the rent and the debt and the food and the health care and generate savings, not when there is a constant reduction in the labor required for increasing levels of overproduction. The time has come therefore to raise the question of working hours and the central role of "the job" in defining every single person.
Of course, I could always just forget all of this self-evident stuff, and instead reduce myself to an asshole and an idiot and take petty pleasure in passing judgement on people I don't even know, in a fashion that makes me feel superior.
Posted by JackRiddler | Mon Jun 16, 2014, 10:37 PM (0 replies)
All of the world's "intelligence communities" agreed? Really?
Saddam wanted to pretend he had some nasty gear? That's a real surprise -- you'd think he had a legitimate fear that some insane country on the other side of the globe would come and bomb Iraq. If only he'd had some nukes and delivery systems, the foreign aggression might have been deterred, and the half-million or more people murdered in the war and its aftermaths might still be alive.
Problem is, the actual inspectors on the ground, the most credible ones, made clear that Iraq didn't have this machinery. (And again, if Iraq did, that was no justification for an aggressive invasion!)
Every state that can afford it maintains big agencies (or several) that specialize in lies, propaganda, deception, covert warfare, surveillance of their own populations, political policing, espionage, collaboration with criminal elements and the breaking of laws (their own and those of other countries). You can call these self-perpetuating criminal cultures "intelligence communities," if you like. Anything that comes out of them is going to be self-interested. Sometimes it's in their self-interest to be truthful.
No "conspiracy" (a concept you injected here) is required to expect that some of them might not want to directly contradict their American counterparts (like the NATO partners), or might want to see the Americans invade Iraq (like Saudi and Israel did, for example). Nevertheless, I'll take what Schroeder and Chirac did a lot more seriously than what their spook shops said.
As for the FBI, it is a political police. Like any political police, it extracts the confessions it desires. And what does it matter if Saddam genuinely believes he was successful in fooling the other countries. That doesn't mean they believed it.
Again, if the US and UK had believed their own bullshit, they might have hesitated before striking. They struck KNOWING the target would be helpless.
Anyway, if Democrats had not voted to authorize the aggression, we presumably wouldn't be having this discussion, because you wouldn't need to come up with excuses.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sun Jun 15, 2014, 11:20 PM (0 replies)
and all those imagined to be "good" billionaires and foundations
more fundamentally, so are Wall Street and the military industrial complex and the media conglomerates.
This escapes many DU, who want to believe in the myth of there being a good side to capital, and think the cash flowing into Democrats is okay, and accept the standard of "viability" being related to how much money a candidate raises.
More broadly, oligarchy is the necessary outcome of capitalism. A violent oligarchy, necessarily, since crisis is also a necessary outcome.
A system must be overthrown, not just the group that owns it but that was also produced by it.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sun Jun 15, 2014, 09:42 AM (0 replies)