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User Journal

Journal: Can Capitalism and Democracy Co-Exist? 1

Journal by PopeRatzo

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/can-capitalism-democracy-co-exist.html

I'm going to say that no, finance-driven capitalism like we see in the US and UK cannot exist is inherently anti-democratic. Industrial driven capitalism has a better chance.

Crime

Journal: How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US? 15

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US?

I saw a posting on Facebook (which I can no longer find, because Facebook posts are ephemeral and the algorithm used to put things on your timeline is apparently unstable) talking about the cost/person of police departments in major cities throughout the US. In the comments was the question "how much do you pay someone to risk getting shot every day?" with the implication that your average police officer in the US faces a substantial risk of death by gunfire daily, and therefore whatever the costs were, they were a good value.

And that got me thinking. Always a dangerous place for me to go.

How dangerous is it to be a police officer in the US? Is there significant risk of dying by gunfire? How does it compare with other occupations?

So let's go.


How many police officers are there in the US? How is that number changing annually?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 780,000 "Police and Detectives" in the US in 2012. That's our baseline. That number, BTW, is expected to grow by 5% by 2022, totaling about 821,000 by then. I'd love more data about this, but it's all I could find in a quick search, so we'll consider 780K as our baseline number of police in the US.


How many police officers died in the line of duty in 2012? Was that number "typical" for the years around it?
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 122 officers died in the line of duty in 2012. That number is low compared to 2010 (161) and 2011 (171), but high compared to 2013 (100), so let's dig a little deeper with a graph:

Police Deaths by Year 1990-2013

Graph by Evan Robinson

Frankly, I think I see a slight downward trend in the data, but the math says otherwise. There's virtually no correlation between passage of time and number of police deaths. I note that 2001 (241) is quite an outlier. You have to go back to 1981 to get another year where more than 200 police died, but in the 70s, only 1977 (192) had fewer than 200 police deaths. The 70s were far worse than the 60s, which were worse than the 50s.


What's the chance of death in the line of duty for a police officer in the US? What's the chance of death by gunfire?
If there are 780,000 police officers in the US and 159.4 die annually (the mean from 1990 and 2013 inclusive), the chance of dying is 159.4 in 780,000 or 1 in 4892.8 or .0002. That's about 2 hundredths of a percent. Specifically taking 2012 numbers, it's 122 in 780,000 or 1 in 6393 or .00016, or about 16 thousandths of a percent. But let's take the higher number of 1 in about 4890, again .0002. Expressed as a death rate per 100,000, that is 20.4 -- that is, 20.4 of every 100,000 police officers in the US die annually from line-of-duty causes.

The overall annual death rate in the US for 2010 (the most recent final value I can find according to the Department of Health and Human Services, at the CDC website) was 747.0, with a preliminary value of 740.6 for 2011. So police line-of-duty death rates are about 3% of total mean death rates.

Police line-of-duty deaths, while tragic, are not a significant risk compared to mean death rates in the US.

But wait, we want to talk about gun-related police deaths, right? Again according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in 2012 50/122 officers killed died from gunfire. Over the past decade, the mean percentage of officer deaths from gunfire was 36%. So the gun-related death rate is 20.4*.36 = 7.4 per 100,000.


How do these death rates compare with other ages, causes, and professions?
In 2008 (the most recent year for which data in a complete Statistical Abstract of the United States is available), the only age range to have a death rate anywhere near that low is 5-14, where the male death rate was 24 and the female death rate was 12. Police officer line-of-duty deaths are therefore less common (statistically) than any death of 5-14 year old boys, although more common than 5-14 year old girls. Line-of-duty gun deaths are about one-third as common as all deaths of 5-14 year old boys and about half as common as all deaths of 5-14 year old girls. In 2008, the mean death rate for males 25-35 (in which age range I imagine many police officers fall) was 225. For males 35-44 it was 348. So depending upon their age range, police officers are between 10x and 17x more likely to die from non-work-related causes than line-of-duty causes. And 30x to 47x more likely to die from non-work-related causes than line-of-duty gunfire.

In 2006, comparable causes of death to all line-of-duty deaths include: Heart Failure (excluding ischemic heart disease aka "a heart attack") at 20.2; NonTransport Accidents (including falls, drowning, smoke inhalation, fire/flames, and poisoning) at 24.4; Diabetes at 24.2; Alzheimer's disease at 24.2; Drug and Alcohol induced deaths (combined) at 20.2.

Also in 2006, comparable causes of death to gun-related line-of-duty deaths include: prostate cancer at 9.5; Leukemia at 7.3; Falls at 7.0; Alcohol induced deaths at 7.4.

According to preliminary data for 2013 (see page 14), the rate of "fatal occupational injuries" in Construction is 9.4 per 100,000; Transportation and Warehousing is 13.1; Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is 22.2; Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction is 12.3.

In other words, it's as dangerous to be a police officer as it is to be a farmer (3 million people), forester or logger (1.7 million people), commercial fisherman (1 million people) or hunter (about 14,000 people). So there are over 5.7 million jobs in the US more dangerous than being a police officer. And another 6 million in construction, which has a higher death rate than police gun-related deaths.


What's it all mean?
So yeah, being a police officer is a dangerous job, but the job-related danger is much less than your basic life-related danger (health problems, general accidents, etc.). And there are about 7 times more people doing Ag-related jobs which are more dangerous than being a police officer.

So what do we have to pay these people to risk being shot every day? I'd say a mean of about $57K per year, which is what they get. Maybe we need to raise the pay of the people in Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, who get mean annual wages in the $18K - $41K range for more dangerous jobs.


TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
I realize that putting the TL;DR way down here kind of defeats the purpose, but it allows me to put the conclusion after the work, which I like.

Being a police officer is a dangerous occupation. But there are plenty of people in the US who do more dangerous jobs for far less pay. Police line of duty death rates are comparable to death rates from Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease or the combination of drug and alcohol induced deaths. Police line of duty shooting death rates are comparable to alcohol induced deaths, Leukemia, or death by falling. A male police officer between 25 and 44 is many times (10x - 17x) more likely to die from a non-work-related cause than to die in the line of duty. And only about one-third of those line-of-duty deaths are gun-related.

And here's something else to think about
On average a police officer dies in the line of duty in the US about every 55 hours (everything you need for this calculation is above so I'm not going to insult your intelligence by including it). On average a police officer kills a civilian (about 400 annually) about every 22 hours. So I think we have more to worry about from them than they do from us.

The Matrix

Journal: The Matrix is Mimetic 13

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

As Yuval Harari points out, "What is so special about us that allows for such cooperation? Unflatteringly, it is our talent for deluding ourselves. If you examine any large-scale human cooperation (or co-option), you will always find some imaginary story at its base. As long as many people believe in the same stories about gods, nations, money or human rights (memes and antitropes) - they follow the same laws and rules (of conduct)."

https://www.coursera.org/course/humankind

United States

Journal: FDL Nails It: Superpower Performance Art

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

'The Cause Of Empire Leads To The Graveyard'

"This is a vision of the world in which might makes right - a world in which one nation's borders can be redrawn by another, and civilized people are not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones because of the truth that might be revealed. America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might - that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones; that people should be able to choose their own future...

America is and will continue to be a Pacific power, promoting peace, stability, and the free flow of commerce among nations. But we will insist that all nations abide by the rules of the road, and resolve their territorial disputes peacefully, consistent with international law. That's how the Asia-Pacific has grown. And that's the only way to protect this progress going forward."

User Journal

Journal: Not a Racist Country? Really? 23

Journal by PopeRatzo

A black man is gunned down by police for handling a toy gun in a Walmart. A gun that Walmart was selling.

http://www.vox.com/2014/9/24/6839953/video-john-crawford-walmart-police-beavercreek-ohio-toy-gun

But this white guy can carry a real, loaded rifle (and body armor) in front of a school, refuses to show ID to police and nothing happens.

http://politix.topix.com/story/14304-was-this-man-wrong-to-demonstrate-open-carry-in-front-of-a-high-school

Open Carry laws are clearly meant just for white people. Laws that only apply to one race are the definition of racist.

The Military

Journal: James Foley Is Not a War Ad 11

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

by David Swanson / September 13th, 2014

                               

To the extent that the U.S. public is newly, and probably momentarily, accepting of war -- an extent that is wildly exaggerated, but still real -- it is because of videos of beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

When 9-11 victims were used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9-11, some of the victims' relatives pushed back.

Now James Foley is pushing back from the grave.

Here is video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley's killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.

The video shows Foley in Chicago helping Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago -- a film about the last NATO protest before the recent one in Wales. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO and war. And I've met Wexler who has tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie .

Watch Foley in the video discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage -- watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley cheering like a weapons-maker or a Congress member for President Obama's announcement of more war. Try to imagine Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.

You can't do it. He's not an ad for war any more than the WMDs were a justification for war. His absence as a war justification has been exposed even faster than the absence of the WMDs was.

While ISIS may have purchased Sotloff, if not Foley, from another group, when Foley's mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley's mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we're going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.

The Coalition of the Willing is already crumbling. What if people in the United States were to watch the video of Foley when he was alive and speaking and laughing, not the one when he was a prop in a piece of propaganda almost certainly aimed at provoking the violence that Obama has just obligingly announced?

Foley said he believed his responsibility was to the truth. It didn't set him free. Is it perhaps not too late for the rest of us?

User Journal

Journal: More Than Enough - Comcast declares war on Tor 31

Journal by PopeRatzo

If you haven't dumped Comcast yet, you better hurry:

http://www.deepdotweb.com/2014/09/13/comcast-declares-war-tor/

Reports have surfaced (Via /r/darknetmarkets and another one submitted to us) that Comcast agents have contacted customers using Tor and instructed them to stop using the browser or risk termination of service. A Comcast agent named Jeremy allegedly called Tor an âoeillegal service.â The Comcast agent told its customer that such activity is against usage policies.
The Comcast agent then repeatedly asked the customer to tell him what sites he was accessing on the Tor browser. The customer refused to answer.
The next day the customer called Comcast and spoke to another agent named Kelly who reiterated that Comcast does not want its customers using Tor. The Comcast agent then allegedly told the customer:

"Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that arenâ(TM)t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules. Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast, have a great day."

United States

Journal: Illustration of Press Function Under Fascist State

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

How much will this cost? What are possible unintended consequences? How long will it take? How will we know when it is over? No one seems to ask these questions. Instead this is considered to be journalism and reporting on the issue:

Over a dinner of D'Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass, Obama, Vice President Biden and the outside experts engaged in a deep discussion of the options to combat the Islamic State, those who participated said.

"D'Anjou pear salad" - how interesting. But what are the options discussed, what are their up- and downsides and what are their costs? There is nothing about that in the Washington Post. The fourth estate is gone, nowhere to be found.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/09/the-stampede-towards-war-on-isis.html

Such access! So... embedded!

United States

Journal: Sleepwalkers 19

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
"The problem is that too many cooks in Washington are spoiling its Mideast soup. In his magnificent new book, "The Sleepwalkers," Prof. Christopher Clark of Cambridge describes how World War I was in part ignited by small numbers of anti-German officials in France, Russia, Serbia and Britain who often undermined their own government's moderate policies.
The same process occurred under President George W. Bush when cabals of neocon officials in the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and media drove the US into a calamitous war whose negative effects are still being felt.

Today, other pro-war cliques in official Washington are at it again, each trying to dominate policy. Add a bunch of pro-Israel billionaires who have bought both the Republican and Democratic parties, apparently including Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president."

Journal: The Myth of Russian Aggression 6

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
http://journal-neo.org/2014/08/03/the-myth-of-russian-aggression/

The term "Russian aggression" has been inundating headlines across the Western media and even graces the title of a US Senate bill introduce this year - S.2277 - Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014. But what "aggression" is the West referring to? A cursory look at Russian history over the past 500 years compared to say, Britain, France, or even America and its "Manifest Destiny," portrays Russia as a nation preoccupied within and along its borders, not in hegemonic, global expansion. The idea of far-flung former colonies is one unique to the British, French, Dutch, and Spanish. Even today geopolitical, socioeconomic, and even outright military intervention in these former colonies is exclusively the pursuit of the United States and Europe.

The United States alone has hundreds of military bases around the world, has been permanently occupying Germany and Japan for a half century, Afghanistan for over a decade, and had invaded and occupied Iraq for nearly as long.

"Russian Aggression" is a Marketing Gimmick

Canadian PM Stephan Harper's "op-ed" in the Globe and Mail titled, "Our duty is to stand firm in the face of Russian aggression," fallaciously states:

The world is saddened and rightfully outraged by images of the charred remnants of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and by the loss of almost 300 people from 11 countries, strewn across fields in eastern Ukraine. While the grim work of identifying victims' remains and tracking down the perpetrators of this appalling crime is just beginning, the world can be certain of one thing: There can be no weakening of our resolve to punish the Putin regime for threatening the peace and security of eastern and central Europe.

Harper's disingenuous attempt to link Russia to the MH17 disaster reveals the truth behind "Russian aggression," a marketing campaign implemented by the West to undermine an obstruction to its very real, very demonstrable global aggression. The fact that Harper presides over the nation of Canada, which is in no way threatened by "Russian aggression" real or imagined, further exposes the disingenuous nature of the narrative peddled by the West.

Aggressors Playing the Victim - From Hitler to NATO

From Libya, to Mali, to Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, and beyond - the West has engaged in direct and indirect geopolitical meddling and manipulation through various forms of force including covert military and intelligence operations to proxy terrorism, and even outright direct military intervention. As the West nears the boundaries of nations capable of defending themselves and a defense is in fact mounted, pundits and politicians have begun framing it as "aggression." The impediment of Western expansion across Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America is framed as "aggression" just as Adolf Hitler did in regards to nations chaffing against expanding Nazism during the 1930âs.

Ultimately, legitimate claims of "aggression" and "expansionism" could easily be enumerated. A map for instance, of Europe over the past several decades showing the expansion of Russian territory would be such an indicator. However, such a map instead shows precisely the opposite - with NATO visibly encroaching upon Russia's very borders behind the overt pretense of "a Europe whole and free."

For pundits and politicians who respond that NATO's expansion was not executed through "aggression," but rather through the voluntary will and aspirations of the people within these new NATO members, the US itself admits this isn't the case. So-called "color revolutions" from Serbia, to Georgia, to Ukraine itself have been engineered, funded, and executed by the US and other members of NATO to overthrow political orders and opposition fronts that oppose NATO, and to install political orders that embrace it - nothing less than what any empire throughout human history has done through viceroys and other forms of proxy imperial administration.

In fact, the Guardian would admit in its 2004 article, "US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev," that (emphasis added):

...while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.

Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

That one failed. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.

But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.

The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections.

In other words, from Belarus, to Georgia, to Ukraine, and Serbia, the US has been insidiously overthrowing governments not through outright military aggression, but through covert military, political, and intelligence operations aimed at manipulating elections and overrunning regimes that refuse to accept the subsequently skewed results. Surely, then, regimes resulting from such a practice are not then "voluntarily" joining NATO - and NATO is surely expanding itself through a campaign of insidious, violent, lawless subversion of sovereign nations, one at a time with Ukraine once again in its sights.

Nazis At the Gates (Again)

The parallels between NATO and Nazi Germany are unfortunately more than merely academic. In Ukraine, the current regime in Kiev backed by NATO and the European Union are quite literally Nazis. From the "Fatherland Party" to the overtly Neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and their various militant wings including the now notorious Right Sector front, ultra-right fascism is once again the leading edge of expansionism into, not out of, Russian territory.

Current attempts by the West to portray Russia's concern over Ukraine and the Nazi menace festering on their doorstep to Soviet leader Josef Stalin's invasion of Poland aim to stir up anti-Communist, anti-Soviet fears and hysteria long programmed into the psyches of Western audiences - but incidentally provide a valuable historical parallel. While the invasion of Poland was a violation of Polish national sovereignty and an act of war - it was done to create a barrier between the Soviet Union and the rise of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Such a barrier was arguably one of several factors that allowed the Soviets to mobilize a counteroffensive to Hitler's Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia, a counteroffensive that ultimately turned the tide against Hitler and led to the downfall of fascism in Europe.

Besides cause and effect, there are few other similarities between Stalin's invasion of Poland and the modern day Russian Federation's political support of eastern Ukrainians who have been fighting the regime in Kiev for months with increasing success. Besides the same variety of dubious accounts the West fabricated against nations like Iraq, Libya, and Syria as a pretext for war, little in terms of evidence has been produced by Washington, London, or Brussels to affirm accusations that Russia is "invading" eastern Ukraine. Russia has instead chosen restraint despite multiple attempts by the West to bait it into overt military intervention in Ukraine - and in this restraint, has secured a growing global consensus long driven weary by the West's attempts to dress up its own global aggression and expansionism as "democracy promotion" and "humanitarian interventions."

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine " New Eastern Outlook".

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