Sam Seder discusses the fact that Rachel Dolezal – an “African-American impersonator” – had a life – including an interracial marriage and upbringing – that people generally don’t know about.
According to The Seattle Times, the Spokane NAACP chapter president reportedly resigned from that position on June 15th, and she was fired from her job as a freelance newspaper columnist. She is being investigated by the city Ethics Commission over whether she lied about her race on her application when she landed an appointment to Spokane’s police-oversight board.
It’s unclear whether her contract as a part-time Africana Studies instructor at Eastern Washington University will be renewed. Dolezal’s career as a civil-rights activist in the Pacific Northwest crumbled in the past weeks since her parents told the media that she doesn’t have any black ancestry, according to the Seattle Times.
The Spokane chapter of the NAACP is asking police to continue the investigation into hate mail sent to Dolezal. The civil-rights organization had received threatening letters and packages in its post office box starting in February, writes USA Today.
The Seattle Times wrote that Dolezal said that she started identifying as black around age 5, when she drew self-portraits with a brown crayon, and she “takes exception” to the contention she tried to deceive people.
She said on NBC’s “Today” that some of the discussion about her has been “viciously inhumane.”
Asked by Matt Lauer if she is “an African-American woman,” Dolezal said: “I identify as black.” The furor has touched off national debate over racial identity and divided the NAACP itself.
However, the NAACP has said leadership jobs don’t require a person to be black. Were whites involved with the formation of the NAACP?
According to the Glendale (California) News-Press:
“The NAACP was founded Feb. 12, 1909, on Lincoln’s birthday. It is the oldest, largest and most recognized grass-roots civil rights organization, with more than half a million members around the world, partly formed in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching, and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Ill.
“Appalled at the violence committed against blacks, a group of 60 white liberals, including Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both descendants of abolitionists, along with William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz, called seven blacks to a meeting to discuss racial justice. Among the seven blacks were W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune and Mary Church Terrell.”
A mentally ill woman died after a stun gun was used on her at the Fairfax County jail in Virginia last February. Fairfax County sits next to Washington, D.C.
Natasha McKenna was restrained with handcuffs behind her back, leg shackles and a mask when a sheriff’s deputy shocked her four times, according to incident reports, states The Washington Post.
McKenna initially cooperated with deputies, placed her hands through her cell door food slot and agreed to be handcuffed, the reports show.
But McKenna, whose deteriorating mental state had caused Fairfax to seek help for her, then began trying to fight her way out of the cuffs, repeatedly screaming, “You promised you wouldn’t hurt me!” the reports show, states The Washington Post.
Six members of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team – including two supervisors – were dressed in white full-body biohazard suits and gas masks, and placed a struggling 130-pound McKenna into full restraints, states Patch.com.
“But when McKenna wouldn’t bend her knees so she could be placed into a wheeled restraint chair, a lieutenant delivered four 50,000-volt shocks from the Taser, enabling the other deputies to strap her into the chair, the reports show,” stated the Washington Post.
Attorney Harvey J. Volzer said doctors have told the family that the 37-year-old woman was stunned as many as five times during an encounter with sheriff’s deputies as they prepared to transfer her to Alexandria to face a charge stemming from a fight with police there, states The Washington Post.
According to Patch.com, the Fairfax County Police Department, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, released the following details Thursday regarding the current in-custody death investigation of Alexandria resident Natasha McKenna:
“On Tuesday, Jan. 20, the Alexandria City Police Department obtained a felony warrant against Natasha McKenna for assaulting a law enforcement officer(Code of Virginia §18.2-57). The assault occurred during an encounter they had with her on Thursday, Jan. 15.
On Sunday, Jan. 25, McKenna called the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications Center reporting that she had been assaulted. The arriving Fairfax County police officer then assisted her with making the report and she agreed to be examined at a local hospital for her alleged injuries. Detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes Division and Crime Scene Section also responded to conduct a follow-up investigation.
While at the hospital with McKenna, detectives and a victim services specialist assisted with the investigative efforts. During the course of the investigative efforts, McKenna elected to no longer pursue the investigation and declined further police services. During the course of the investigation, a record check revealed McKenna had the outstanding arrest warrant for assaulting a law enforcement officer in Alexandria City.
On Monday, Jan. 26, shortly after 1 a.m., McKenna was transported from the hospital to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center (ADC), where the warrant was served and she was remanded to the custody of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, as directed by a Fairfax County magistrate. The Sheriff’s Office made contact with Alexandria at approximately 7:40 a.m. to inform them that they were holding an inmate with an Alexandria City charge.
On Saturday, Jan. 31, McKenna physically assaulted a Fairfax County deputy sheriff while incarcerated at the ADC.
On Tuesday, Feb. 3, the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, pursuant to its protocols for managing combative inmates, made a decision to have the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) remove McKenna from her cell for transport to the detention center in the City of Alexandria as related to her charge that originated in the City of Alexandria. As the SERT attempted to secure McKenna in her cell and restrain her for transport, she physically resisted the deputies and refused their commands. The SERT consisted of six deputy sheriffs, which included two supervisors.
During the struggle to restrain McKenna, a member of the SERT deployed a conducted energy weapon (Taser) on McKenna. While being restrained, deputies placed a spit net (which is designed to restrict and prevent spitting) on McKenna. A nurse from the ADC medical staff was present at that time to check on her prior to transport and cleared her for transport. Deputies attempted to put her in a medical transport chair, but McKenna continued to be combative and was moved to a restraint chair for transport to a vehicle transfer area, commonly known as a sally port.
A Fairfax County deputy sheriff was assigned to record the deployment of the SERT and the video is currently retained as evidence by detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department and will not be released at this time.
Deputies escorted McKenna from the cell area to the sally port where the transport vehicle was waiting. Once at the sally port, medical personnel from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office checked McKenna and determined she was experiencing a medical emergency. The spit net and restraints were removed and medical staff and deputies from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office administered CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) while awaiting rescue personnel from the Fairfax City Fire Department. McKenna was then transported to the hospital by ambulance and after life support was removed, died on Sunday, Feb. 8.
There were reports from outside sources that alluded to McKenna suffering an amputated finger. However, the investigation by detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department affirmed that McKenna had a pre-existing injury (missing the tip of her ring finger on her left hand), which was noted during the arrest booking on Monday, Jan. 26.
To date, detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department have conducted an extensive number of comprehensive interviews, and the in-custody death investigation is active and on-going. When complete, detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes Division will present their entire investigation, which will include any video and data from the conducted energy weapon, along with the findings of the Office of the Medical Examiner (still awaiting report), to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for an independent review to determine if there is any criminal liability under the Code of Virginia.
All information provided in this release is based on the ongoing investigation and may be subject to revision as the investigation continues. The Fairfax County Police Department and the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office continue to work together to release information and complete a swift, thorough investigation. The Fairfax County Police Department will provide further updates within the next 30 days or as soon as additional information becomes available.”
There is a new play out by John Strand called “The Originalist,” about the Supreme Court. It takes a look at one of its real-life stars – Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Drama, suspense, monologues, arguments – what could be more theatrical than the U.S. Supreme Court?” asks NPR.
According to Wikipedia, Antonin Gregory Scalia (born March 11, 1936) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice currently on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice. He was appointed to the Court by PresidentRonald Reagan in 1986, and has been described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court’s conservative wing.
Scalia is also known for his acerbic dissents.
He is, as the play’s title suggests, an “originalist” – He believes that the court should follow the original meaning or intent of the framers of the Constitution, which we see time and again in his decisions.
The Supreme Court justice is also a devout Catholic, a lover of opera and a man who likes a good debate.
The play shows the jurist both in and out of the courtroom.
It will premiere at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., this week.
The new mayor of the nation’s capital was hoping to get along with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Instead, they’ve threatened her with prison and she has accused them of acting like bullies in a showdown over legal pot that could end up costing District of Columbia residents.
Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser defied threats from Congress by implementing a voter-approved marijuana initiative on Thursday, making the city the only place east of the Mississippi River where people can legally grow and share marijuana in private.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says she’ll defy congressional Republicans and implement D.C.’s new local law allowing its residents to smoke marijuana starting on Thursday, according to CNN.
In implementing the new pot laws, Bowser is rebuffing two influential House Republicans who’d warned her that she’d be breaking federal law — and risking retribution.
“We would encourage the Congress to not be so concerned with overturning what seven out of 10 voters said should be the law in the District of Columbia,” Bowser said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, called the new legal framework “depenalization” since sales were still barred, and said it was unlikely to unseat a thriving black market, according to Yahoo News.
Bowser and Washington police are implementing a measure approved by D.C. voters in November allowing Washington residents to possess up to two ounces of pot. The allowance applies only to those over 21. In addition, D.C. residents could grow up to six pot plants in their own yards. Buying and selling pot would still be illegal, as would smoking in public places. People could transfer up to one ounce to another person — just not for money.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said in a letter Tuesday that the city would be violating federal laws if it went forward with Bowser’s plan to implement the new measure Thursday.
“We strongly suggest you reconsider your position,” the two wrote to Bowser in a thinly-veiled suggestion that there would be consequences for ignoring them. They pointed to House rules that give Chaffetz’s panel broad investigative authority.
Bowser brushed Chaffetz and Meadows back on Wednesday, saying they should worry about bigger problems — like funding the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to shut down at week’s end if Congress doesn’t act.
She took a shot at Republicans who have suggested she could wind up in jail for breaking federal law — and claimed that Congress has no powers to prosecute her.
The family of an unarmed Mexican man who was fatally shot by the Washington State Police say they are seeking justice — with the help of Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented Michael Brown’s family in Ferguson, Mo., according to The New York Daily News. Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Marton in Florida.
Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was killed by police officers in Pasco, WA on February 10th, and the incident was captured on video and has caused regional protests.
The victim’s family hired high-profile attorney Benjamin Crump to represent them, a week after a different attorney filed a $25 million claim against the city on their behalf.
“The family wants the truth out,” Crump told the Tri-City Herald. “That’s one of the things they called me for.”
Crump — who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager killed by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman in 2012 — said he planned to review video of Zambrano-Montes’ death to see if the shooting was “appropriate.”
A video recording by Dario Infante Zuniga, 21, captures the moments after police say Zambrano-Montes began hurling rocks at officers.
The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism opened in the United States capital on Tuesday, February 17th. A group of 40 participants were at the beginning of the three-day event.
The summit was not just about the Islamic State, it also had a focus on American domestic issues.
“We all understand that in dealing with violent extremism, we need answers that go beyond a military answer,” said US Vice President Joe Biden. “We need answers that go beyond force. Countries, all of us including the United States, we have to work this from the ground up.
He added: “We have to work from the ground up and engage our communities and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized.
Biden said societies need to provide immigrant communities with a sense of opportunity and a sense of belonging to counter radicalization.
“Societies have to provide an affirmative alternative for immigrant communities with a sense of opportunity, a sense of belonging – and that will discredit the terrorist appeal to fear, isolation, hatred and resentment.”
An important issue at the summit is how to stop lone-wolf attacks, which is usually violence plotted by a single person who may not share their plans with anyone.
Attention was also paid to social media.
U.S. intelligence and officials from Homeland Security have said that social media campaigns by extremist groups have fueled recruitment and inspired lone wolves in cities including Paris, Copenhagen, Ottawa and Boston.
To counter the messages by ISIS and al-Qaeda, the US State Department will expand its Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications to amplify its own messages.
President Barack Obama is set to address the meetings twice with an emphasis on how civil society and the private sector have roles to play in countering violent extremism.
The meeting – which features speakers and participants from the US and abroad – has been in the works for months as part of a program the Obama administration began in 2011.
It comes just as a new report warns of a rise in violence by “lone wolves” or “leaderless resistance” groups composed of no more than two people.
It comes at a time when recent events seem connected to Islam: The shooting deaths last week of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., by a suspect who may have been motivated by religious hatred as well as other issues, and the shooting attacks that killed two and wounded five at a free speech event and synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the weekend, believed to have been inspired by Islamic radicalism.
The vice president upheld as examples the work of Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, where the Justice Department has launched a series of pilot programs involving local religious leaders, law enforcement and advocacy groups. Administration officials said one goal of the conference was for leaders from those cities to share best practices with others.
Overcoming distrust has been a challenge for federal officials. Some critics say the apprehension of young men – such as Christopher Lee Cornell, recently charged with plotting an attack on the US Capitol – amounts to legally questionable entrapment.
The Los Angeles program has drawn criticism from civil rights groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is worried that the program will infringe on Muslims’ freedom of speech and religion, and might hurt their public image.
The council’s national office issued a statement ahead of the summit questioning the effectiveness of programs closely tied to a government that many Muslims don’t trust.
“Credible community voices who are not viewed as ‘being in the government’s pocket’ are necessary,” it said.
More than 22 Somali men from Minnesota have gone to Somalia to fight for the radical group al-Shabab. Several others have gone or tried to go to Syria to fight for the Islamic State group.
“The most important lesson we’ve learned, and we don’t always practice it, but it’s that inclusion counts,” Biden said of the need to effectively integrate minority immigrant groups into American society, particularly Muslims. “Let me say it again: Inclusion counts. Inclusion counts.”
The Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington has taken what it calls “a proactive approach to identifying and intervening individuals who may be susceptible to violent extremism.”
Authorities are studying whether the killing of the three Muslim students in Chapel Hill – allegedly by Craig Hicks – was a hate crime. On his Facebook page, he had written: “I hate Islam just as much as (C)hristianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do.”
Though Hicks apparently acted alone (possibly set off by a dispute with the victims over parking spaces), it’s unclear whether he can be thought of as a violent extremist “lone wolf” in the usual sense.
In a report last week – “Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism” – the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) examined more than 60 domestic terror incidents. Almost three-quarters of these were carried out or planned by a lone wolf, a single person acting without accomplices. Ninety percent of the incidents were the work of no more than two persons, according to the report.
The study, which included violence from both the radical right and homegrown jihadists from April 1, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2015, also found that a domestic terrorist attack or foiled attack occurred, on average, every 34 days.
“It’s important to recognize the trend away from organized groups committing acts of domestic terror,” said Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow and editor of the report. “As Timothy McVeigh demonstrated with the Oklahoma City bombing, lone wolves and small cells of domestic terrorists can create massive carnage.”
“It is imperative that authorities, including those gathering at the White House next week, take this threat seriously. Anything less would be an invitation to disaster,” said Potok.
Some European publications found that not enough attention was paid to America’s own right-wing extremism, whereas some American news sources felt that not enough attention was paid to ISIS or religious-related terms like “Muslim” extremism.
The Guardian: “On Tuesday, the White House will convene a national summit on combatting violent extremism – but, despite a plethora of attacks by domestic right-wing extremists and the increase in white supremacist hate groups, no one expects that to be on the agenda.”
Washington Times: “From Afghanistan and borderlands of Pakistan to Iraq and North Africa, radical Islamists eager to spread their strict interpretation of the Muslim faith and topple Western values have bombed, beheaded and slaughtered — undermining the White House narrative and raising questions about its strategy.”
Bloomberg claimed that the term “Muslim extremism” won’t be used much: “President Barack Obama and his staff have gone to lengths to avoid characterizing the ideology driving Islamic State and other terrorist groups as religious extremism. The semantic exercise is intended to avoid legitimizing acts of terror as expressions of religious belief. It’s also part of a strategy to draw in the domestic Muslim leaders who Obama is leaning on…”
Hillary Rodham Clinton held a private, one-on-one meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren in December at Mrs. Clinton’s Washington home. It was a move by the Democrats’ leading 2016 contender to cultivate the increasingly influential senator and leader of the party’s left-wing economic populist movement.
The two met at Whitehaven, the Clintons’ Northwest Washington home, without aides and at Mrs. Clinton’s invitation, according to the New York Times.
Mrs. Clinton reportedly asked for policy ideas and suggestions from Ms. Warren, according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting. Mrs. Clinton, who has been seeking advice from a range of scholars, advocates and officials, did not ask Ms. Warren to consider endorsing her likely presidential candidacy.
Aides to Mrs. Clinton did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and aides to Ms. Warren could not be reached, according to the NYT.
The conversation occurred at a moment when Ms. Warren’s clout has become increasingly evident. After the November election, Senator Harry Reid, then still the Majority Leader, appointed Ms. Warren, a to a leadership role in the Senate.
She led a high-profile effort to strip a spending bill of rules sought by large banks. Also, a patchwork of liberal groups began a movement to draft her into the presidential race.
On January 5th, the Washington Post published an article titled “Democrats Lose The Torture Debate,” which was written by Marc A. Thiessen.
Thiessen writes, “As we begin 2015, we can take solace that the ‘torture’ debate is finally behind us. But before we close the book on six sordid years of Democratic demagoguery and investigations, let the record show that the opponents of the CIA interrogation program were completely and utterly defeated.
“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, launched a six-year, 6,000-page, $40 million investigation into the CIA interrogation program, with the goal of convincing Americans that a) the program did not work and that b) enhanced interrogations were wrong and should never again be permitted.
Thiessen then claims: “She failed on all counts.”
The Post then justifies it’s stance on torture with its own internal poll.
He states that the poll shows that “The vast majority agree with the CIA that these techniques were necessary and justified. A majority think that Feinstein should never have released her report. And — most importantly — 76 percent said they would do it again to protect the country.”
Thiessen explains that Americans were asked, “Looking ahead, do you feel that torture of suspected terrorists can often be justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?”
He then claims that the word “torture” is a “loaded word” and therefore claims that such techniques as waterboarding, “rectal feeding,” and “rectal rehydration” do not constitute torture. Thiessen would likely prefer the CIA-sanctioned term “EIT,” or “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.”
According to the WaPo poll, 17 percent replied they would support using the techniques “often,” 40 percent “sometimes” and 19 percent “rarely.” Only 20 percent said the techniques should “never” be justified.