Via Charles Johnson: Cops in paramilitary gear are now pointing sniper rifles at peaceful black protesters in Ferguson, MO.
Tear gas and rubber bullets. Jeebus. (h/t)
Science: this is why we keep you around:
Nine days before the World Health Organization announced the African Ebola outbreak now making headlines, an algorithm had already spotted it. HealthMap, a data-driven mapping tool developed out of Boston Children’s Hospital, detected a “mystery hemorrhagic fever” after mining thousands of web-based data sources for clues.
“We’ve been operating HealthMap for over eight years now,” says cofounder Clark Freifeld. “One of the main things that has allowed it to flourish is the availability of large amounts of public event data being accessible on the Internet.”
As anyone who’s ever looked at the Internet knows, any bulk consumption of web content is bound to scoop up tons of noise, especially when sources like Twitter and blogs are involved. To cope with this, HealthMap applies a machine learning algorithm to filter out irrelevant information like posts about “Bieber fever” or uses of terms like “infection” and “outbreak” that don’t pertain to actual public health events.
“The algorithm actually looks at hundreds of thousands of example articles that have been labeled by our analysts and uses the examples to pick up on key words and phrases that tend to be associated with actual outbreak reports,” explains Freifeld. “The algorithm is continually improving, learning from our analysts through a feedback loop.”
In Afghanistan, we patrolled in big, armored trucks. We wore uniforms that conveyed the message, “We are a military force, and we are in control right now.” Many Afghans saw us as occupiers.
And now we see some of our police officers in this same way. “The militarization of law enforcement is counter-productive to domestic policing and needs to stop,” tweeted Andrew Exum, a former Army infantry officer.
If there’s one thing I learned in Afghanistan, it’s this: You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest.
Pretty much sums up my adolescence/early adulthood/current state of existence (I’m so old I remember when being black and playing rock/punk/metal was a radical, disruptive act, etc):
Bonus: Interview w/ James Spooner, director of Afro-Punk: The Movie:
Also, too: Live performances (because AGGRO):
MSNBC, quoting Dorian Johnson, eyewitness to the shooting by Ferguson, MO police of Michael Brown:
“There are two crowds. An older crowd that wants justice but there’s anger. Then it’s the younger crowd that wants revenge but there’s anger there, too… . What do you expect when something is steadily occurring and its hurting the community and nobody is speaking out or doing anything about it. I feel their anger, I feel their disgust.”
Mike Brown is dead. He is dead for no reason. He is dead because a police officer saw a 6-foot-4, 300-plus-pound black kid, and miscalculated the level of threat. To be black in this country is to be subject to routine forms of miscalculated risk each and every day. Black people have every right to be angry as hell about being mistaken for predators when really we are prey. The idea that we would show no rage as we accrete body upon body – Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown (and those are just our summer season casualties) — is the height of delusion. It betrays a stunning lack of empathy, a stunning refusal of people to grant the fact of black humanity, and in granting our humanity, granting us the right to the full range of emotions that come with being human. Rage must be expressed. If not it will tear you up from the inside out or make you tear other people up. Usually the targets are those in closest proximity. The disproportionate amount of heart disease, cancers, hypertension, obesity, violence and other maladies that plague black people is as much a product of internalized, unrecognized, unaddressed rage as it is anything else.
Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in overpolicing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us. They are a compass pointing us to a raging fire just beneath the surface of our national consciousness. We feel it. We hear it. Our nostrils flare with the smell of it.
James Baldwin called it “the fire next time.” A fire shut up in our bones. A sentient knowledge, a kind of black epistemology, honed for just such a time as this. And with this knowledge, a clarity that says if “we live by the sword, we will die by it.”
For these acts and images to do more than express the release of anger over one more senseless killing — fueled by the invisible crisis in America of a two-tiered economic system, the rage over institutional racism and the persistent harassment of black youth on town and city sidewalks by increasingly militarized police departments — is still another textbook example of America’s racial and class polarization. The looting photos should not be fodder for finger wagging or utterances of “what do you expect?” Rather, as transient reactions to the same impoverished and marginalizing conditions that spawn these meager “convenience” franchises in the first place, acts of violence — sensationalized as they are — are little more than one more (albeit shocking) expression in a constellation of of cause-and-effect.
I wish I didn’t have to tell some of you that victim-blaming when a Black person is murdered by police is a huge no. That it doesn’t matter if they were on the honor roll, or smoked weed sometimes, or were going to college, or what brand of hoodie they wore, or even if they spent time in jail at some point. That the right to walk down the street without being a target for murder by the police isn’t a right one should have to prove themselves worthy of. That we should all just have that right by virtue of being human beings.
When you’re Black, you don’t always get the benefit of being seen as a human being, though. Black people are seen as ‘up to no good’ by default. The truth is that our lives, like anyone else’s, are filled with good choices as well as mistakes, achievements we’re proud of as well as missed opportunities. Successes. Failures. Just like everyone else. But what’s also true is that we, as marginalized people, get fewer do-overs. The system is rigged to punish us at every possible opportunity. Longer prison sentences compared to whites who commit the same crimes and disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion for even Blackpre-schoolers attests to this.
If we were to talk about a victim’s past, we would have to talk about it in a context of oppression. But, you know what? We don’t need to talk about it at all. Because it is irrelevant to issue of their victimization. Just like bringing up a victim’s past to justify her rape is wrong, bringing up a victim’s past to justify his murder by police is also wrong. Yes, even when those people are Black.
Man. The smallest gesture can mean the world to you. Robin Williams made such an impact on me and didn’t even know it. He named checked all of us in the elevator during the 2001 Grammys. I know y’all think I do this false modesty/T Swift “gee shucks” thing to the hilt. But yeah sometimes when you put 20 hour days in you do think it’s for naught and that it goes thankless. Grammy time is somewhat of a dark time simply because you just walk around asking yourself is it worth it or not: all the sweat and blood. I just felt like (despite winning grammy the year before) no one really cares all that much for us except for a select few. Especially in that environment I’m which people treat you like minions until they discover what you can do for them…if you’re not a strong character you run the risk of letting it get to you. This particular Sunday we were walking backstage and had to ride the elevator to the backstage area and we piled inside when suddenly this voice just said “questlove…..black thought….rahzel….the roots from Philadelphia!!!! That’s right you walked on this elevator saying to yourself “ain’t no way this old white dude knows my entire history and discography”….we laughed so hard. That NEVER happened to is before. Someone a legend acknowledged us and really knew who we were (his son put him on to us) man it was a small 2 min moment in real life but that meant the world to me at the time. Everytime I saw him afterwards he tried to top his trivia knowledge on all things Roots associated. Simply because he knew that meant everything to me. May his family find peace at this sad time. I will miss Robin Williams. #RIP.
Sad news via CBC News:
“Father Raymond Gravel, a well-known Catholic priest, an advocate for Quebec sovereignty and a social activist, has died.
“He served one term as the Bloc Québécois MP for Repentigny, before he was ordered by church authorities to choose between his priesthood or politics and returned to the pulpit.
“He was a progressive force in the Catholic Church and an outspoken supporter of gay and women’s rights.
“At one point Gravel called the Vatican’s opposition to same-sex marriages “discriminatory, hurtful and offensive.”
“Gravel challenged the Catholic Church to adopt a more compassionate tone and get in touch with the beliefs of its adherents.
“”The Church must evolve beyond the language of interdiction and condemnations,” he wrote in an open letter dated April 23, 1999. “Such language only proves, once again, to the entire world just how disconnected the Church is from reality.”
“Gravel personally opposed abortion except in cases of rape, but he said he also opposed rules and regulations that “infantilized” women.”
Listen to an interview with one of Father Gravel’s parishoners, Gregory Baum, a retired professor of religious studies at McGill University, after the fold: Continue reading