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Flint water, DPS, A Case for Democracy

by Robert Bennett                                                                                                                                                   retired Detroit Public School teacher After twenty years of teaching Social Studies in Detroit’s Public Schools and teaching the children that democracy is messy at times but by far the best form of government, I have finally come across an example that illustrates the point beyond any doubt. It is Michigan’s failed experiment with government by dictatorship i.e. by emergency managers. Exhibit Number One: Detroit Public Schools. After years of raucous school board meetings at which every move the board tried to make was scrutinized and criticized by members of the public some of whom were at every board meeting and made it their job to analyze every proposal, then Governor Engler decided to put an end to the mess by taking the first step toward dictatorship by appointing a board and superintendent. This evolved into the present emergency manager system that doesn’t even pretend to be democratic. The State took a system that had rising test scores and a one hundred million dollar surplus and turned into a system with falling scores and a deficit running into the hundreds of millions. Nobody knows how many hundreds of millions because they are too embarrassed to say. Ironically, they want the students and teachers of Detroit to pay for the years of mismanagement that they were denied the right to participate in. Somehow it is Detroit’s mess to clean up. There’s a lot more dirt under this rug but we can’t air it all here. Enough said to make point number one. Exhibit Two: Flint water. I thought destroying the Detroit Public Schools was the worst that... read more

Disproportionate number of black victims in fatal traffic stops

  By Wesley Lowery December 24 2015   Henry Williams, surrounded by his attorneys, attends a news conference after a grand jury declined to indict Memphis Police Officer Connor Schilling in the shooting death of his son Darrius Stewart in November. (Mark Weber/AP) By Wesley Lowery December 24 Darrius Stewart was riding around with friends one night in July, sitting in the back seat of their faded blue Chevy Malibu, when a Memphis police officer noticed a missing headlight and signaled for them to stop. The officer, Connor Schilling, asked everyone for identification, found two out-of-state warrants for Stewart, 19, and pulled him out of the car. A half-hour later, Stewart was dead. Stewart was one of more than 100 people shot and killed by police after a traffic stop this year, according to a Washington Post database tracking deadly police shootings. Like Stewart, 1 in 3 of them was black, making the roadside interaction one of the most common precursors to a fatal police shooting of a black person in 2015. The shootings of blacks, whites and Hispanics were about equally likely to result from a traffic stop; across all races, getting pulled over was the precursor to about 11 percent of fatal police shootings, the Post database shows. However, blacks accounted for a disproportionate share of ­traffic-stop deaths, a finding that experts on policing said provides fresh evidence that blacks are pulled over more frequently than other drivers. Darrius Stewart was shot and killed by Memphis police officer Connor Schilling on July 17, 2015. (Memphis Commercial Appeal) Justice Department investigations of local and state police agencies have... read more

2016 Election and the Death of White Male Power

The Election and the Death Throes of White Male Power By Rebecca Traister 3.2k Shares Share 2.8k Tweet 355 Share 10 Pin It 4 Email 80 Print Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images On Monday night, protesters interrupted a Donald Trump rally, shouting about gun control and proclaiming that black lives matter. The large crowd of Trump supporters shouted back at them. MSNBC News reporter Benjy Sarlin described how, “as one man was dragged away, people in the crowd variously yelled, ‘Shoot him!’ ‘Kick his ass’ … ‘Light the motherfucker on fire!’” One man yelled, “Sieg Heil!” It has been a violent, sad year marked by mass shootings and police violence and acts of terror and a seemingly endless supply of vitriol and anxiety. But while that series of events may have felt like a random, scary blur as we lived through it, it’s coming into stark and horrifying relief at year’s end thanks to the blaring optics of our presidential-election cycle. Our first black president sits in the White House, entering his eighth and final year; in his party, a woman who would become the first female commander-in-chief is building a substantial lead. Meanwhile, the dominant front-runner of the opposing party plays untroubled host to white-power revivalist meetings, suggests that “deportation forces” should “round up” immigrants, and proposes identification badges for Muslims. Donald Trump’s competitors for the Republican nomination — men who agree with him that women who have been raped or suffered incest should be forced to carry resulting pregnancies to term — somehow look rational and moderate by comparison. But Ted Cruz is no moderate: He touts his endorsement... read more

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