Thursday, November 30, 2006

Capitalism at its Finest: Ford Dumps Half of its Blue-Collar Workforce

Originally posted by Nadir on Reformed Leftist & Friends

The tone of this Detroit News article is so upbeat! This is wonderful news!

38,000 hourly Ford workers see the writing on the wall and are deserting the sinking ship. Of course Ford is more than happy to see them go. Now they can hire temporary and part-time workers at just over half the salary and pay no benefits or pensions!

This move promises to boost the company's bottomline as rapidly as it destroys Ford's already legendary poor vehicle quality (F-O-R-D = Fixed Or Repaired Daily or Found On the Road Dead), and will bolster rising Japanese automakers in their quest to dominate the North American market.

Many overpaid autoworkers will now look for work in a dismal domestic labor market while others who took the 4-year tuition option will go to college and exit four years from now with even fewer domestic jobs available.

Wall Street is thrilled! Ford is ecstatic! Workers are overjoyed! Japanese automakers are celebrating!

Hopefully some of these newly freed blue collar workers will become entrepreneurs. Here is a hot idea for a new business: relocating laid-off US workers to India. The US jobs are going there and to China anyway, and unlike China, Indians already speak English. Workers should go where the jobs are, right? I offer this advice to any enterprising former Ford employees free of charge.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Changing Snout of Excessive Force

pig brutalityOriginally posted by Nadir at

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in October 1966 - 40 years ago - largely in response to police brutality, oppression and poverty in urban communities.

The battle for civil rights and civil liberties was at a turning point. American soldiers were fighting an unpopular war of aggression against people of color in a far away land. The nation’s Texas-bred president was under great pressure from citizens to end the war and from business leaders to keep the war on track. Government agencies were cracking down on dissent by spying on anti-war protestors and other American citizens.

But Huey P. Newton isn’t around anymore, and any sense of deja vu that you have is misplaced. Comparing Iraq to Vietnam is like equating a quagmire in the middle of the desert to a swamp in the heart of the jungle.

This is the message of police advocates like Darrell Ross and David Klinger, who claim that despite the recent rash of violent police incidents that have been reported in the media (and showing up on YouTube), police brutality and the use of excessive force are much better than they used to be.

Ross cites statistics that show the annual average of lethal police shootings are down by 33% since 1968, and non-lethal shootings by 20-22%. “He credits a drop in violent crime, more restrictive court rulings, better training and decision-making by officers and the availability of more less-lethal force options, including OC [pepper spray], Taser and beanbag ammunition.”

So what that Ross dances around the fact that the use of force by the police has remained steady, at about 1% of the thousands of police/civilian encounters which have increased with population growth. The police are killing a smaller percentage of people.

I would NEVER compare Al Sharpton to the BPP or even to MLK, and it is certain that Oakland police and Bull Connor used much more colorful language in the late 60s than Klinger’s labelling of today’s civil rights leaders as “the racial grievance industry”. But Ross observes that race is becoming less of a factor in police use of deadly force. He admits,

Given their representation in the general population (about 15%), blacks are disproportionately shot by police. But that figure is changing. In 1978, 49% of suspects shot by officers were black. By 2003 that had fallen to 34%.

And check out this sign of progress and racial harmony:

The incidence of white officers killing black suspects has dropped since 1978, while the incidence of white officers killing white suspects is increasing. Most often black suspects are killed by black officers.

It should make us all happier that racism isn’t a problem with the police anymore. Today’s color-blind cops are killing their own kind more than they are killing other ethnic groups. Indeed the five undercover cops who shot up a bachelor party, killing bridegroom Sean Bell, were a virtual United Nations of brutality - two blacks, two whites and a latino.

And we can’t leave out Detroit’s Booty Boys. Nope. They aren’t a gangsta rap group. They’re a pair of cops who have been performing illegal cavity searches (essentially rape) on Black men in broad daylight in front of witnesses. Many of the victims didn’t report the incidents because it happened so often, they thought it must be legal. Perhaps this explains the reason non-lethal violent encounters with police are down. How many police brutality victims were “resisting arrest” while they were handcuffed? One also wonders how many police shootings are unreported or blamed on an “unknown assailant”.

Where both lethal force and nonlethal force are concerned, Ross’ research confirms that the measure of force officers decide to employ is “highly associated” with the degree of suspect resistance. In other words, force is not just arbitrarily and unjustly delivered. Indeed, he found that officers “routinely use lower forms of force than what could have been justified” (deploying OC, for example, when a baton or a neck restraint could have been employed). A significant indication of the move toward lower levels of force is a decline in the use of impact weapons and a corresponding rise in the use of pepper spray, Ross says.

So the police may actually be using lower levels of force more often since those options are now available. Former cop, now criminologist Klinger stated in an interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation that force is not ruled excessive until after a “suspect” is subdued. Often the use of excessive force is deemed to be justified by prosecutors. If it takes 50 shots for the “suspect” to be “subdued” or to stop moving, then that may not be considered excessive after police departments finish their internal reviews.

Yes, gentlemen. It is a new day.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's Official: Rumsfeld Authorized Torture

From Reuters:
Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

So it's official. Rumsfeld authorized torture. These techniques, which are violations of the Geneva Convention and US law, are grounds for his indictment for war crimes. However, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 pardons this crime retroactively.

Are you angry enough to demand Bush and Cheney's impeachment and the prosecution of Rumsfeld yet? Do the Democrats have the backbone to stand up for the rule of law and order investigations? Time will tell...

Read More HERE

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Michael “Kramer” Richards’ Racist Rant: “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass.”

Kramer loses itOriginally posted by Nadir on

It is clear when you watch the racist rant by Michael “Kramer from Seinfeld” Richards at LA’s Laugh Factory that he “went into a rage” at “Afro-American” heckler Kyle Doss and lost his ever-lovin’ mind. What isn’t clear from the cellphone video is what Doss said to provoke his tirade.

Still there is no excuse. As a public figure and performer, Richards can’t lose control like that in a public setting. Was he drunk? Was he coked up? Or was he just having a bad night that turned into a nightmare after what Doss calls “good-natured heckling”?

This could be a career ender for Richards who has been struggling with the so-called “Seinfeld curse” since that show was cancelled years ago. If he had turned the whole thing into a joke, as most comedians do with hecklers, this would be a non-story. Instead he let the jibes get the best of him, lost his sense of humor and perhaps ruined his life in the span of three minutes.

Watch Richards’ apology on David Letterman
(Notice how quickly the machine got golden boy Jerry Seinfeld out to do damage control. We must save those DVD sales and syndication dollars!)

Richards banned from The Laugh Factory
Paul Rodriguez: “The audience came expecting to see Kramer, and they got Mark Furman!”

Michael Richards' Apology Rejected by African American spokesmen:

Najee Ali, Executive Director of Project Islamic HOPE & a coalition of African American community leaders:

“Comedian Jerry Seinfeld orchestrated Michael Richards apology on The David Letterman show which we feel was insincere and self serving. The DVD of Seinfelds 7th season was released today, it's obvious the pair have a financial investment to protect. If Richards is sincere in putting his racist tirade to rest he need to agree to meet with Black leaders and agree to mediation to put this matter to rest.”

Reverend Al Sharpton Challenges Michael Richards to Face Black America ; Apology on David Letterman Show Unacceptable and Wrong Venue; Sharpton says, 'Come on MY show to apologize to Black folks!'

Sharpton states: “Before any apology should even be considered, Michael Richards should apologize to the people to whom his remarks were directed and most offended. In all due respect to David Letterman it seems strange that one would insult African Americans in a long tirade and then go on a white television show with a mostly white studio and viewing audience to make a statement of apology. If Mr. Richards has something to say he should say it to us, and let us respond to him. Mr. Letterman, who is a fine gentleman, is in no position to discuss whether his apology should be accepted or rejected.”

Sharpton says he will make his own syndicated radio talk show that broadcasts live daily throughout most of black America available if Mr. Richards is sincerely seeking a dialogue with those he offended. An African American member of the audience who was present at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles when the remarks were made, was on Sharpton’s radio show to describe the incident in detail.