Major developments today in the Ferguson, Missouri civil rights incident

Originally posted on The Secular Jurist:

By Robert A. Vella

Here are the major developments that have occurred over the past day regarding the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent violent confrontations between local law enforcement and civilian protesters in that beleaguered town:

Yesterday, after a phone conversation with President Obama, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ordered the state highway patrol – headed by Captain Ron Johnson – to assume law enforcement duties in Ferguson (see:  Missouri Gov. Puts Highway Patrol in Charge in Ferguson).

Afterwards Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney who would be responsible for bringing the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown to trial, responded to the Governor’s move.  From the St. Louis Post-DispatchMcCulloch blasts Nixon for replacing St. Louis County Police control:

“It’s shameful what he did today, he had no legal authority to do that,” McCulloch said…

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Big step: “A Human Rights Crisis”: In Unprecedented Move, Amnesty International Sends Monitors to Ferguson

Originally posted on Later On:

The video report and transcript are at Democracy Now! The core of the statement:

STEVENHAWKINS: Well, Amnesty saw a human rights crisis in Ferguson, and it’s a human rights crisis that is escalating. We sent observers down because there was a need for human rights observers. Clearly there are violations of international human rights law and standards, in terms of how the policing is being done on protests. So, for example, we’ve issued reports on, for example, Israel and the Occupied Territories, how tear gas is supposed to be administered—never in an indiscriminate way where children and the elderly could be subject to very harmful effects, even death, from tear gas. So, we sent down observers to be on the ground. We have been thwarted in our efforts to be able to go out on curfew with the police, which would be a clear standard in these circumstances…

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Ten things about Ferguson to keep in mind

Originally posted on Later On:

This seems important. Don Hazen, Terrell Starr, Steven Rosenfeld, and Tana Ganeva of AlterNet report at AlteNet:

Ten days after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by officer Darren Wilson, police and protestors continue to face off in the city of Ferguson. Last night’s protests broke into chaos[3] as riot police descended on the streets of the city in an attempt to disperse protestors.

On Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon deployed the National Guard, allegedly without alerting[4] the White House. The first Humvees have left the National Guard base, according to reports from the scene highlighted in the Guardian. [5]

As the tense situation on the ground quickly evolves, here are 10 things you should know:

1. National Guard trained in fighting protesters

The Missouri National Guard troops being sent into Ferguson are military police, which, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), have studied the Occupy…

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As Droughts Persist, Treated Sewage Water May Be The New Tap Water

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


How would you like to drink water so clean and clear that it practically sparkles with the brilliance of a well-cut diamond? What if that water was from a sewer? Would you drink it then? The scientists over at the Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF) are hoping you will. An article on the subject by says:

Tests have shown that purified sewage from residential buildings is not only cleaner than existing drinking water, it can be produced at less cost than other options for creating freshwater, such as desalination.

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How Some Conservatives Are Reacting to Michelle Obama’s “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act”

A few days ago, I came across an article called, “Students in Full-Scale Revolt Against Michelle Obama.” Naturally, I was intrigued, and clicked on the link.

Upon arriving at the site, I quickly realized from its title, “” with the curious sub-heading, “In Defense of Western Civilization,” that anything written in this article would probably be heavily biased against Michelle Obama. And it was.

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Right-Wing Extremist groups dominate new Homeland Security report on U.S. Terrorism Threats


Tanya’s Comments: So who are the Sovereign Citizens? They are “a loosely-organized collection of groups and individuals who believe they are both above the law and ‘true defenders of the Constitution.’ They follow their own set of rules and many refuse to pay taxes. The movement’s followers believe, in large part, that the existing government in the United States is illegitimate and needs to be ‘restored.’ Driver’s licenses, license plates, and insurance are not required, many sovereign believe, going as far as making their own identification badges and gun permits. Some members are known to turn violent against law enforcement and are notoriously hostile towards the media,”

Amazing- white American groups are just as dangerous (and in the case of Sovereign Citizens, more dangerous) than Islamic terrorists. Does it still make sense for us to see Muslims as being horrible monsters and Christians as incapable of mass violence, hatred, and rigid thinking? Or does this force us to rethink the word “terrorist?”


Originally posted on The Secular Jurist:

By Robert A. Vella

Perceived Threat of Extremist Groups by Type of Group

A new Department of Homeland Security report lists 9 right-wing extremist groups out of the top 17 terrorist threats to the U.S. for the years 2013-2014.  The Sovereign Citizens movement jumped to the top of the list from 2006-2007 when Islamic Extremists were identified as the greatest terrorist threat to America.

4 leftist groups were included, as were 3 others.

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The Right and the Very Wrong about Wall Street report on Income Inequality

Originally posted on The Secular Jurist:

By Robert A. Vella

Since the 2008 financial crisis, which has hurt middle class prosperity so profoundly, Wall Street has been slowly coming to the conclusion that wealth and income inequality is retarding economic growth and recovery from the Great Recession.  Most objectively-minded economists not only realized this specific result years ago, but have been studying the macroeconomic phenomenon of aggregate demand for many decades.  Simply put, the larger economy suffers when the bulk of ordinary workers and consumers have reduced buying potential.

New analysis from the rating agency Standard & Poor’s is giving Wall Street further information on this serious problem:

Economic disparities appear to be reaching extremes that “need to be watched because they’re damaging to growth,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P.

The rising concentration of income among the top 1 percent of earners has contributed to S&P’s cutting its growth estimates for…

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Major Progress on the Fight Against Genetically Engineered Crops and Bee-Toxic Pesticides

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I just received an email from an organization called Center for Food Safety with some good news (and the usual donation request!):

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Sooner or later, Republicans will have to confront their Tea Party extremists

Originally posted on The Secular Jurist:

By Robert A. Vella

Late last night, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives once again cowered before the radical extremists in their party.  After the firebrand Tea Party senator from Texas – Ted Cruz – had brazenly scuttled House Speaker John Boehner’s border remediation plan the day before, Republican leaders acquiesced to the rabid right-wing pressure and passed an even more draconian pair of bills in the media shadow of a Friday evening (see:  House passes $694 million border bill).

Sooner or later, Republicans will have no other choice but to directly confront this insurgency within their political party.  Otherwise, the Tea Party will inevitably win this escalating GOP civil war.  Why?  Because what drives the Tea Party is unrelenting zealotry for an irrational ideology based on hostility:  hatred of democratic governance, hatred of ethnic, racial, religious, and sexual equality, and a profound resentment over losing the…

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