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In the garden: Come ON!

OK, spring is here. Because look! I've got an entire forsythia bush with four (4) blossoms on it! (To be fair, this is in the sunniest spot.) Come on!

And then there's the clover seed: Read more about In the garden: Come ON!

Ratios and the rational

The Marshall Project, an excellent site on what we are pleased to call criminal justice, has a great interview with The Wire's David Simon on current events in Baltimore. These vivid paragraphs on Martin O'Malley ("Marty") caught my eye:

The second thing Marty did, in order to be governor, involves the stats themselves. In the beginning, under Norris, he did get a better brand of police work and we can credit a legitimate 12 to 15 percent decline in homicides. Again, that was a restoration of an investigative deterrent in the early years of that administration. But it wasn’t enough to declare a Baltimore Miracle, by any means.

What can you do? You can’t artificially lower the murder rate – how do you hide the bodies when it’s the state health department that controls the medical examiner’s office? But the other felony categories? Robbery, aggravated assault, rape? Christ, what they did with that stuff was jaw-dropping.

So they cooked the books.

Oh yeah. If you hit somebody with a bullet, that had to count. If they went to the hospital with a bullet in them, it probably had to count as an aggravated assault. But if someone just took a gun out and emptied the clip and didn't hit anything or they didn't know if you hit anything, suddenly that was a common assault or even an unfounded report. Armed robberies became larcenies if you only had a victim’s description of a gun, but not a recovered weapon. And it only gets worse as some district commanders began to curry favor with the mayoral aides who were sitting on the Comstat data. In the Southwest District, a victim would try to make an armed robbery complaint, saying , ‘I just got robbed, somebody pointed a gun at me,’ and what they would do is tell him, well, okay, we can take the report but the first thing we have to do is run you through the computer to see if there's any paper on you. Wait, you're doing a warrant check on me before I can report a robbery? Oh yeah, we gotta know who you are before we take a complaint. You and everyone you’re living with? What’s your address again? You still want to report that robbery?

They cooked their own books in remarkable ways. Guns disappeared from reports and armed robberies became larcenies. Deadly weapons were omitted from reports and aggravated assaults became common assaults. The Baltimore Sun did a fine job looking into the dramatic drop in rapes in the city. Turned out that regardless of how insistent the victims were that they had been raped, the incidents were being quietly unfounded. That tip of the iceberg was reported, but the rest of it, no. And yet there were many veteran commanders and supervisors who were disgusted, who would privately complain about what was happening. If you weren’t a journalist obliged to quote sources and instead, say, someone writing a fictional television drama, they’d share a beer and let you fill cocktail napkins with all the ways in which felonies disappeared in those years. Read more about Ratios and the rational

Getting a new account workaround

A few months ago, Drupal revealed a horrible bug, which at Corrente made itself visible by people (or bots) being able to set up new accounts and log in without my approving them. The same bug also enabled people (or bots) of ill intent to actually corrupt or destroy the server itself. So far as I know, no actual damage was ever done, but the bug was scary enough that I took the site down, fixed the bug, and had the ISP roll the server back to the point in time where the bug actually appeared.

Now, fallout from that bug is that I turned off the New Accounts function -- and have not been able to turn it back on, for reasons I don't understand! In the near future, I'll upgrade the site again, and I'm hoping this glitch goes away then.

So, if you want a new account, here's the work-around: Read more about Getting a new account workaround

In the garden: Emergence

letsgetitdone's picture

Ridiculing Concerns About TPP Tyranny: A Reply

People who support the Administration's efforts on the TPP have been known to reply to my posts on this subject by attempting to ridicule the scenarios I've presented as possible under the TPP Agreement as “out there” speculation of the tin foil variety that will never actually happen. For those who think that my examples of what is possible under the TPP are just this kind of speculation, please keep in mind that I don't have the proposed draft agreements to work from.

This is due to the President's decision to classify the drafts and seek Fast Track Authority before disclosing them more freely even to Congress for an up or down vote. However, there is no indication from anyone that the actual drafts of the agreement contain rules that would definitively prevent the possible very damaging consequences I've mentioned here for example. Read more about Ridiculing Concerns About TPP Tyranny: A Reply

metamars's picture

Why I’m Sure the Pew Research Poll re: TPP Approval in the US is a Fraudulent POS

I was intending to write about my "poll" of Princeton, NJ residents that I conducted yesterday, under a decidedly different title, but when I got home, last night, stumbled across the following: Read more about Why I’m Sure the Pew Research Poll re: TPP Approval in the US is a Fraudulent POS

In the garden: Not quite there

The forsythia is trying...

Looking at the 10-day... Read more about In the garden: Not quite there

In the garden: Spring is here

I had intended to write something more elaborate, but then Baltimore happened. Here is my front garden, a few days ago. It's improved now!

See how discouraging mud season can be? My whole front garden is covered by what the passing plows throw up: That ginormous chunk of tar in the foreground, and then sand all over everything. Fortunately, the town does not use salt, or else the soil would be destroyed! And that box at top right? Read more about In the garden: Spring is here

Baltimore

NOTE Meditating changing the headline to "Baltimore: Day One." Nah. Let's be optimistic.

I'd hoped to re-introduce myself a bit more gracefully, but needs must. My Twitter list exploded, so a quick sitrep. Times are when I posted the info, not when the event described occurred. I'll go back and link in a bit after I survey matters:

UPDATE on Baltimore. From various sources I read:

1) Very heavy police presence today, including county police in addition to Baltimore’s. (This is often a very bad sign, since poor coordination between different forces leads to violence, certainly during Occupy Oakland.)

2) Incident where high schoolers pepper-sprayed tear-gassed on leaving school.

3) Clash between police and protesters after Freddie Gray funeral.

4) Hotels in Baltimore area being booked (implication: Those who can getting out/and or influx of protesters).

5) Family members tweeting advice on how to get out.

6) Tactical vehicles said to have been spotted.

7) Maryland governor [Hogan] declares state of emergency [[8:06PM]. This might not end well. Will be interesting to find out what people see from the windows of the Acela — which passes through Baltimore — tomorrow.

"This afternoon, a group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers. Right now, we have seven officers that have serious injuries, including broken bones, and one officer who is unconscious," Capt. Eric Kowalczyk told reporters.

Maybe. We'll have to see.

"This is not OK," Kowalczyk said. "You're going to see tear gas. You're going to see pepper balls. We're going to use appropriate methods to ensure that we're able to preserve the safety of that community."

Rocks, bricks. Pray god that's all.

* * *

Just to declare my priors, I'm an advocate of strategic non-violence. I'm not a Ghandian; I want to win, and I think that's the best way to get 80% of the population on "our side," without creating the conditions for "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." I'm also not a "worse is better" guy, i.e., I don't think "sharpening the contradictions" is always all to the good; I think worse is worse.

All that said, I liked what the son of the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, John Angelos (!) had to say in USA Today (!!), though in my book the first paragraph is a bit dogmatic:

Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Now to round up some sourcing... My views evolve as I go, so cum grano salis.. . Read more about Baltimore

letsgetitdone's picture

Indicting the Trans – Pacific Partnership: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!

To really appreciate what a travesty the TPP is, and the scandal of the failure of our Congress to reject it, and the “Fast Track Authority“ sought for it, out of hand, I'm going to list 23 negative consequences that would likely follow from it. Any one of these, would, by itself be sufficient for any representative of the people, Senator or Congressperson, to vote to kill it. I'll offer this list in the form of stanzas appropriate for a chant, except for the starting point in the list.

The tune of the chant that might be used is the tune used for Dayenu, the passover seder chant in which Dayenu means “It would have been sufficient,” where the reference is to all the things the almighty is purported to have done for the Israelites on their way out of Egypt and during their wanderings in the Sinai. I'm sure the President is familiar with this chant since he has had seders at the White House more than once. I'm also sure that he never envisioned using Dayenu to highlight the horrors of one of his favorite projects, the passage of “Fast Track Authority,” the TPP, and other “free trade” agreements such as the TTIP, and the TISA, all of which would get “Fast Track Authority” if the present bill passes. Read more about Indicting the Trans – Pacific Partnership: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!

letsgetitdone's picture

How Can Our Senators and Representatives Vote for Giving Away Our Monetary Sovereignty?

Right now the US fulfills the three essential conditions for monetary sovereignty: 1) it issues its own non-convertible currency, 2) which it allows to float on international currency markets; and 3) it owes no debts in any currency other than dollars. Because it is monetarily sovereign, and can always meet its obligations the US can never be forced into insolvency.

It can become insolvent due to Congressional decisions such as failing to raise or repeal the debt ceiling, or Executive decisions such as failing to use its platinum coin minting authority to fill the public purse and then pay its bills once it has reached the debt ceiling. But again, it cannot be forced into solvency by external financial or economic factors that are beyond the control of the Federal Government (including the Congress). Read more about How Can Our Senators and Representatives Vote for Giving Away Our Monetary Sovereignty?

letsgetitdone's picture

Consent of the Governed: Stop the Emerging TPP Tyranny!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . .

This, of course, is from the Declaration of Independence, one of the sacred texts of American politics and political theory. When the consent of the governed is superceded, or is not given due to force or manipulation, then that is tyranny and illegitimate, because no powers of such a government are or can be just.

So, let's ask, based on what we know about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement from leaks of current drafts, and also based on the proposed procedures for enacting it, and those for exiting the agreement, is it true that the TPP, if passed, would have the consent of the governed and hence be legitimate? Or would it be an instance of imposition of tyranny on the American people and also on the people of other signatory nations? Read more about Consent of the Governed: Stop the Emerging TPP Tyranny!

DCblogger's picture

Bernie Sanders to speak to South Carolina Democrats

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