On average, U.S. public schools are more than 50 years old – and by and large they are not being properly maintained, updated or replaced. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s public K-12 infrastructure a D+ in their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the same abysmal grade as in their prior 2017 report.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her Circuit Court confirmation hearing. Screenshot: C-SPAN
Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett—confirmed just ahead of President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in November—is being called to recuse herself from an upcoming decision regarding a potentially landmark climate case now pending.
“Barrett posing as an impartial judge in this hearing for climate accountability is about as safe as the Big Bad Wolf giving Little Red Riding Hood directions to Grandma’s house,” said Lindsay Meiman, U.S. communications manager at the climate action group 350.org. “We demand Barrett immediately recuse herself of any and all cases concerning climate and the fossil fuel industry, starting with the upcoming Baltimore vs. Big Oil hearing.” Continue reading →
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the city of Baltimore from rolling out a disturbing aerial surveillance program.
The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of a group of Baltimore community activists who have raised concerns about the introduction of a controversial technology known as wide-area aerial surveillance which involves stationing an aircraft equipped with ultra-high-resolution cameras over a city to track all visible pedestrians and vehicles within that city. Continue reading →
Many U.S. military members publicly disavowed President Trump’s decision to pardon Edward Gallagher, the former SEAL commando convicted of killing a teenage detainee in Iraq in 2017.
Gallagher’s alleged war crimes were nearly universally condemned up the chain of command, from enlisted men to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. Indeed, it was Gallagher’s SEAL colleagues who reported the former commando’s actions.
This insistence on holding fellow service members accountable for bad behavior sharply differentiates the military from the police. Continue reading →
One tragic example: Extreme dehumanizing language was a strong contributor to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. As I have written, the Hutu majority used a popular radio station to continually refer to Tutsi tribal members, a minority in Rwanda, as “cockroaches.”
A video screenshot of a woman who was discharged from University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Imamu Baraka/Facebook video screenshot)
Described as a horrifying depiction of “the reality of U.S. for-profit healthcare,” a Baltimore-based psychotherapist this week caught on video University of Maryland Medical Center staff “dumping” a clearly incapacitated young woman into the freezing Maryland weather wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks.
“Is this what healthcare in Baltimore City has come to?” asked Imamu Baraka, who captured the “disturbing” scene on his cell phone. The video has since garnered more than two million views.
Baraka’s video soon sparked national headlines and widespread outrage, with many noting that “patient dumping” is a pervasive and under-discussed product of a system that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to all.
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, concluded that the only solution is to “implement single-payer, Medicare for All or Americans continue to suffer/die.”
Others echoed DeMoro’s call, arguing that the medical center’s behavior is essentially “attempted murder.”
The hospital issued an apology following the flood of outrage, taking “full responsibility for this failure” to provide “basic humanity and compassion.”
“We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action,” hospital spokeswoman Lisa Clough said in a statement.
Officers planting evidence appear to be growing a tree of corruption at the Baltimore Police Department, as the second release of suspicious body camera footage in two weeks has led to more dropped drug charges.
On Tuesday evening, Baltimore defense attorney Josh Insley released BPD body camera footage showing officers apparently faking the recovery of drugs from a woman’s vehicle. The three videos led the Baltimore state attorney’s office to drop charges against Insley’s client, Shamere Collins, on Monday, the Baltimore Sunreported.
Insley plans to sue the police department to seek justice for Collins, 35, who was pulled over on November 29, 2016, when police say they observed what looked like a drug deal involving the passenger of her vehicle, according to the Sun.
None of the names of the seven officers who responded to the traffic stop have been released by the BPD. Two of those officers, however, have been suspended pending an internal affairs investigation, and other cases involving those two officers are also being delayed, the Sun reported.
The city’s public defender office described the video as showing “multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence,” according to the newspaper.
At one point in the recordings, after officers found nothing around the driver’s seat or in the rest of the vehicle, body cameras were turned off.
A half hour later when they were turned back on, a different officer appeared at the driver’s side of the car and passively asked, “Did anybody check this compartment?” while simultaneously leaning down and soon standing back up with a black plastic bag in hand.
The move was quick, but it’s unclear whether that was why none of the officers standing by responded to his question. Police also claimed that the officer who picked out the plastic bag had been conducting surveillance before the traffic stop and therefore knew better where to look.
“Oh here you go,” the officer then stated. “Oh yeah. That’s the weed smell right there.”
Body cam footage from earlier in the traffic stop showed a man who appeared to be the passenger being handcuffed as he told the officers, “You crooked. You set motherf***ers up. That’s what you do.”
What a generalization. Not all cops are crooked. But just in case, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis sent a reminder memo this week to all officers regarding body camera policy.
“In the event your body worn camera is not activated during the recovery of evidence, under no circumstances shall you attempt to recreate the recovery of evidence,” Davis wrote, according to the Sun.
Tampering with or planting evidence isn’t specifically mentioned in the letter, but so-called recreating the recovery of evidence is. The fact remains, however, that there are now multiple ongoing internal affairs investigations into multiple officers over body camera footage of evidence mishandling while other officers were nearby.
Two weeks ago, body camera video of a January incident was released. Officer Richard Pinheiro inadvertently filmed himself placing a baggy of pills in an alleyway as Officers Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson stood some distance away on a sidewalk. Pinheiro was suspended and the other two are on administrative duty as the investigation continues.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby has confirmed to multiple news outlets that she dropped 41 felony drug and gun cases that would depend on those three officers’ testimonies. The Baltimore Sun reported that an additional 55 cases are under review, 27 of which will not be interrupted as they reportedly contain strong evidence that is independent and corroborative.
Each day, Catherine Caldwell hauls three gallons of bottled water to her bathroom and two to her kitchen. She and her family use the water for flushing the toilet, washing hands, and— after heating it on the stove—cleaning dishes and cooking. For bathing, they head to her mother-in-law’s house a few blocks away.
The 44-year-old Caldwell, her husband, and two young grandchildren have been living without running water in their Detroit home for over four months. Every two weeks, they receive a delivery of water from a local nonprofit, We the People of Detroit. It’s the second time they’ve been without water services in the three years they’ve lived at the current residence. The short of it is this: They can’t afford to pay the bill, and the water company shut off their water. Continue reading →
A Maryland Army National Guard Soldier keeps watch in front of City Hall in Baltimore, April 28, 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On Thursday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple called on the state’s National Guard to contain contentious protests against the Keystone pipeline, which threatens Native lands and water supplies. The decision comes after private security guards unleashed attack dogs on protesters this weekend, sparking further violence authorities predictably blamed on demonstrators.
A summons of National Guard services usually indicates a growing tide of opposition to government policies and the established order. It is almost always accompanied by inordinate numbers of police officers.
Governors often activate National Guard when violence erupts amid tense societal and political rifts. But while calling in troops may be effective at stopping superficial violence (by threatening or using violence), doing so provides a reliable excuse for the authorities to ignore the original reasons for that “unrest.” Continue reading →
We, along with many others, have been watching the events in Baltimore over the last couple weeks. They followed a pattern that’s become all too common; a black man dies during a confrontation with the police. A cellphone video of events draws national attention.
Freddie Gray. Photo by the Gray family.
Baltimore looked as if it were going to follow the path set forth in Ferguson. At the same time that the police investigation’s findings were sent to the state attorney’s office, we saw attempts to paint Freddie Gray as the person at fault. Conservative media began hyping his arrest record (which has nothing to do with the case). The police said that he had been arrested for possessing a switchblade. The Washington Postreported that another person who had been arrested and was in the same police van as Freddie Gray said that Freddie might have been trying to injure himself.