On The Monitor this week:
- D. Brian Burghart on creating an impartial, comprehensive and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement
- Jeff Cohen on why presidential debates should be opened up to all candidates
More about this week’s guests:
D. Brian Burghart is the creator of Fatal Encounters. He is a former editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, a master’s student and often, although not at this moment, a journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He lives in Reno, Nevada and created Fatal Encounters because, as he says: “I believe in a democracy, citizens should be able to figure out how many people are killed by law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths.”
Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.
He recently wrote the piece “TV Networks Should Open Up the Presidential Debates,” which states: “If ten major TV networks got together and decided to nationally televise a presidential debate restricted to Republican nominee Donald Trump and right-leaning Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, while barring other candidates including Democrat Hillary Clinton, it would be recognized as an act of media bias or exclusion. But what if the televised debates this fall are restricted to just Trump and Clinton? That, too, needs to be recognized as an intentional act of media exclusion.
Beginning in 1988, major TV networks granted journalistic control over the debates to a private organization with no official status: the Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD is often called ‘nonpartisan.’ That’s absurdly inaccurate. ‘Bipartisan’ is the right adjective, as it has always carried out the joint will of the Republican and Democratic parties. The commission grew out of a deal cut in the 1980s by GOP and Democratic leaders. Today, even though the U.S. public largely distrusts the presidential candidates of the two major parties, TV networks seem willing to allow them to again dictate the terms of debate, including who gets to participate.”
On The Monitor this week:
- The cyclical cries for Police “reforms”and the ongoing Militarization of the Police, with Pete Kraska
The Freak out over Brexit in the context of Interventions and Austerity, with Robin Hahnel
More about this week’s guest
Dr. Pete Kraska is Professor and chair of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Justice Studies Eastern Kentucky University. He has distinguished himself as a leading scholar in the areas of police and criminal justice militarization, criminal justice theory, and mixed methods research. He has published seven books including Criminal Justice and Criminology Research Methods, Theorizing Criminal Justice: Eight Essential Orientations, and Militarizing The American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and Police. Dr. Kraska’s research has also been published in a number of leading journals, including the British Journal of Criminology, Social Problems, Justice Quarterly, and Policing and Society. Dr. Kraska’s work has received national and international recognition. He is frequently asked to present his research and findings to academic and policy audiences, including most recently testifying for the U.S. Senate on police militarization. His work has also been featured in media outlets such as 60 Minutes, The Economist, Washington Post, BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, National Public Radio, and PBS News Hour. Follow him on Twitter here @Peterkraska and read an interview on this topic from 2014 here: “White House Commission May End Up Training More Cops to Use Military Weapons.”
Robin Hahnel is professor emeritus at the American University. He is best known as a radical economist and co-creator of a post-capitalist economic model known as “participatory economics.” His ten books include The Political Economy of Participatory Economics (Princeton University Press). He just wrote the piece “Brexit: Establishment Freak Out,” which states: “It is comical to watch the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic panic over short-run economic damage due to market ‘over reaction,’ because any danger of this is due to their own negligence. Only because the establishment has hitched our economic destinies to the whims of financial markets is there any need to worry that Brexit might trigger yet another global meltdown. Only because the establishment failed to implement prudent, financial regulation in the seven years since the last financial crisis crashed the global economy is there any danger today. Only because the Cameron government and the European Commission responded to the Great Recession with counterproductive fiscal austerity is a return to deeper recession in Europe quite probable. But we can be sure of one thing: All negative economic trends will now be blamed on Brexit and the populist ‘mob’ who brought it on, rather than on the establishment’s neoliberal policies which are actually responsible.” You can follow him on Twitter here: @RobinHahnel and you can read more examples of his work here:
On The Monitor this week:
- What can the experience of the Iraq war teach us about the Iranian nuclear program? We talk with former Iraqi nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri
- National news is increasingly covering the deaths of people, many/most of them minorities, while in police custody. The case of Sandra Bland in Texas is only one such case. Increasingly, these cases are gaining exposure because of citizen video documentation. We talk with Miami multimedia journalist Carlos Miller, the founder of Photography is Not a Crime
More about this week’s guests
Imad Khadduri has an MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network administrator in Toronto, Canada. He has been interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, CBC, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, BBC, CTV, the Toronto Star, Reuters, Democracy Now, Dubai Business TV Channel, al-Jazeera satellite channel and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. Khadduri is author of the books Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now runs the “Free Iraq” blog.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled since the 1991 attack on Iraq. In a November 21, 2002 article, a few months before the occupation, “Iraq’s nuclear non-capability,” he wrote: “Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the two parading emperors have no clothes.”
Max Fisher claimed in Vox recently that if “Iran tried to block inspectors…that would blow up the deal. … This was something that so infuriated the world when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein tried it in 1998 that it ended with his country getting bombed shortly thereafter.” Khadduri’s response: “This doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The U.S. used inspectors as a method of espionage, not for legitimate arms inspections purposes. Scott Ritter notes in a recent article titled ‘We ain’t found shit‘ why the Iranians shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites. The ‘no notice’ inspection on Iraq didn’t help with the disarmament process, but they were a gold mine for illegitimate espionage. The Iranians learned from our mistakes and they were much better negotiators.” The New York Times earlier this year published a piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 and now with the American Enterprise Institute. In the piece, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,’ he claims: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq.” It’s a claim that’s long been made by war hawks, for example, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has claimed: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.” Again Khadduri responds: “This is nonsense. I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn’t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it.” Khadduri added: “The Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. Their nuclear program started in the 1950s under the U.S. government’s Atoms for Peace project, which sent Iraq, Iran and other counties nuclear plans. In the case of Iraq, it was a gift from the U.S. for joining the Baghdad Pact. After the revolution in Iraq ended the monarchy, the U.S. built for Iran the plant they were going to build for us. …The Iranian nuclear program really took off in the 1970s after the U.S. convinced the Shah that he could be a regional power only if he embraced the atom. But the U.S. was trying to gouge the Shah, so he had the Germans build his reactors. A main component of the Iranian program is a research reactor used for medical purposes — even Iranian Americans frequently go back to Tehran for chemo because it’s provided for free. …When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he stopped work on Iranian nuclear facilities. He had already come to the position that having nuclear weapons was religiously prohibited and the financial costs were enormous. But he eventually allowed it to be restarted for peaceful purposes since the costs of cancelling the contracts were high. During the war with Iran, Iraq attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities more than 12 times, but they were minor attacks. But after the Iranians bombed Iraqi oil refineries, Saddam ordered the destruction of two Iranian reactors in 1987, killing 14 people including one German and the Germans withdrew. Since then, the Iranians have been struggling to have a serious nuclear program for civilian purposes, and the U.S. has continuously put up road blocks. The recent deal compromises Iran’s notion of nuclear sovereignty, but gets the Iranians what they really wanted.”
Carlos Miller was arrested for taking photos of Miami police during a journalistic assignment in order to document his trial in 2007. Shortly afterwards he founded Photography is Not a Crime. He quickly learned that citizens from all over the country were being harassed, threatened and arrested for recording in public, so he began documenting these incidents on his blog as he waited for his trial to begin.
By the time he went to trial more than a year later, the blog had developed a significant following who not only began learning about their rights, but also exercising those rights, many of them equipped with newly introduced smartphones which allowed them to record and upload videos instantly, something that had never been possible before.
Photography is Not a Crime, which became known as PINAC, inspired many new blogs, Youtube channels and Facebook pages that became dedicated to documenting police abuses throughout the country, sparking the movement that continues to grow today that is holding police accountable better than the mainstream media, politicians or the police themselves.
Today, PINAC is an evolving multi-staffed news site of writers, researchers and correspondents in almost every state.
For more background on the growth of PINAC, click on this story by the Columbia Journalism Review. Also, check out the above video by We Are Change where Miller talks about the birth of the blog. And here is a nice piece from the Florida Times-Union that provides good background.
On The Monitor this week:
- The Confederacy and the Confederate Flag – a short history lesson with Jim Loewen
- Race Class and Violence in America – The South Carolina shootings in a wider context with Kevin Alexander Gray
More about this week’s guests:
Jim Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. He is the author of many books, including The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” about the “Lost Cause”; Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. We will talk with him about the impact of myths of the Confederate past on the present and how those myths are part of the environment of places like South Carolina.
Selected quotes from The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: “At its best, history embodies the triumph of evidence over ideology. Textbooks do not embody history at its best.”
“There is a reciprocal relationship between truth about the past and justice in the present.”
“Gradually, four key elements of neo-Confederate mythology emerged during the Nadir. First, slavery was good, and slaves liked it. (This was a throwback to arguments made in 1850.) Nevertheless, ending slavery was also good, because slavery was a burden on white planters. Second, the South seceded for states’ rights, or perhaps over tariffs and taxes, not for slavery. Third, during the “War Between the States,” Confederates displayed bravery and stainless conduct. They only lost owing to the brute size of the North. Conversely, slaves displayed loyalty to their “masters” during the war. Finally, and most important, during Reconstruction, vindictive Northern congressmen, childlike African Americans, and corrupt carpetbaggers and scalawags ravaged the prostrate South.”
Also read: Five myths about why the South seceded
Kevin Alexander Gray is based in South Carolina.His books include co-editing Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence. and The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama. He posted the following on his Facebook page: “Some tried to chide me on issuing a call of sorts to white people about the environment that creates a Dylann Roof. Well, the Confederate flag, a flag of white supremacy flies on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds along with a statute of white supremacist ‘Pitchfolk’ Ben Tillman. Countless streets and buildings are named after Confederate heroes. The president of the College of Charleston routinely dresses up as a Confederate general and fights mock battles. And this is the same man who blocked putting a statute of Denmark Vesey on the Statehouse grounds calling him a murderer of white people. This is where we live and what is ingrained everyday in our psyche without apology. I’m against white supremacy and I apologize to nobody for being against it.”
Gray and his younger sister Valerie were among the first blacks to attend the local all-white elementary school in 1968. Since then he has been involved in community organizing working on a variety of issues ranging from racial politics, police violence, third-world politics, race relations, union organizing, workers’ rights, grassroots political campaigns, marches, actions, political events. Gray is currently organizing the Harriet Tubman Freedom House Project which focuses on community based political and cultural education.
On The Monitor this week:
- The Saudi attack on Yemen is using Billions of dollars worth of US-supplied weapons. Is the US-Saudi relationship contributing to instability in the region? We talk with William Hartung
- The White House Military proposes a ban on the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and a restriction on the availability of others. How does this impact the problem of police-community relations? We talk with Justin Hansford
More about this week’s guests:
William Hartung is a senior advisor to the Security Assistance Monitor and the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He just wrote the piece “It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair,” about the White House “summit” with leaders from Arabian Peninsula monarchies which states: “In its first five years in office, the Obama administration entered into formal agreements to transfer over $64 billion in arms and defense services to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, with about three-quarters of that total going to Saudi Arabia. And new offers worth nearly $15 billion have been made to Riyadh in 2014 and 2015. Items on offer to GCC states have included fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, radar planes, refueling aircraft, air-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, artillery, small arms and ammunition, cluster bombs, and missile defense systems.”
Hartung is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011) and the co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton, of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations. From July 2007 through March 2011, Mr. Hartung was the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. Prior to that, he served as the director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute. He also worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams. Bill Hartung’s articles on security issues have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and the World Policy Journal. He has been a featured expert on national security issues on CBS 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, the Lehrer Newshour, CNN, Fox News, and scores of local, regional, and international radio outlets. He blogs for the Huffington Post and TPM Café.
Recent news coverage: A representative of Doctors Without Boarders has a piece in the Washington Post on Thursday: “The Saudi-led blockade is devastating Yemen.” Earlier this week, AP reported: “Iran’s navy said Tuesday it will protect an aid ship traveling to Yemen.”
Justin Hansford is an Assistant Professor at the University of St. Louis School of Law. Professor Hansford’s research incorporates legal history, legal ethics, critical race theory, human rights, and the Global Justice Movement in a broader attempt to interrogate injustice in society. He has a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a founder of The Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives. He joined the law faculty after clerking for Judge Damon Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and he has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to study the legal career of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Living just 10 minutes from Ferguson, Hansford has been at the forefront of legal organizing and advocacy in the aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown. He co-authored the Ferguson to Geneva human rights shadow report, accessible at http://fergusontogeneva.org/(link is external), and accompanied the Ferguson Protesters and Mike Brown’s family to Geneva, Switzerland to testify at the United Nations. He has served as a policy advisor for proposed post-Ferguson reforms at the local, state, and federal level, testifying before the Ferguson Commission, the Missouri Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission, and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
As a result of his work in Ferguson, Hansford has been featured in the USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Ebony, and the Globe and Mail, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, National Public Radio other national and local news outlets. He has been honored by the National Bar Association as one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40, selected as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar by the Aspen Institute, and recently was named by Revolt TV as one of the 25 New Leaders of Social Justice.
Here is Hansford’s testimony before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Background: The New York Times reports: “President Obama on Monday will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others, administration officials said.”
Guest Quote: “This seems like a step in the right direction. But remember, neither Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, nor Eric Garner were killed with grenade launders or tanks. Racial targeting and anti-black police violence can survive demilitarization. At the base, the danger is that this is a way to ‘deracialize’ the debate, and make it about anything other than race. But even so, militarization plays a role in the eagerness police have to use force in black communities, and the use of militarized tactics in SWAT raids of the type that killed Ayanna Jones in Detroit. It limits police officers’ ability to relate to people as individuals, or to find ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Currently, many American police see minority communities not as citizens but as enemies and targets. Militarization makes it worse.”