The police have declared war in Ferguson. Once again this week, military-suited cops from the suburbs of St. Louis fired tear gas into residential neighborhoods and wooden pellets and rubber bullets and piercing sound cannons at peacefully assembled protesters seeking something like a humane response to the highly dubious police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African American man.
And then, for good measure, they fired gas at Al Jazeera reporters and swept a McDonalds (during daylight business hours) known to be a gathering spot for reporters. Two of those reporters—Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post—were arrested on the spot just because they dared to film what was happening and because they took a few seconds too long to gather up their belongings. Reilly says one cop bashed his head against the window and sarcastically apologized. Lowery, who's African American, wrote a searing first-person account, talking about how he was thrown against a soda machine and how afraid he was when he was told he was resisting arrest even as he pointedly made sure he was not.
Racial justice issues have long haunted Ferguson, even before the death of Michael Brown—the gist of a story Lowery was filing before he was roughed up and then summarily freed after another reporter called the chief of police to spring him.
Ferguson's police chief is repeating claims countered by several witnesses that Brown and his still officially unidentified officer had been scuffling in a police car when Brown was shot and that the officer was injured. (witnesses all say the officer got out of his car and shot Brown several times even though Brown had his hands up). There have been several different reports in various places that hacker group Anonymous has unearthed the shooting cop's name—but also reports that the information isn't correct.
In Portland, activists are planning a solidarity protest on NE MLK, across from the Portland Police Bureau's North Precinct, this evening—the goal being to get Police Chief Mike Reese and Mayor Charlie Hales to publicly denounce the conduct of the cops in Ferguson.
OH AND LOOK AT THAT... While I was writing this, reports surfaced—from the office of previously invisible Governor Jay Nixon—that the local police officers will be pulled out of Ferguson. What that might mean? Still unclear.
Meanwhile, in other news of war... It's looking like the United States and Britain won't have to stage the rescue a tribe of Iraqis, the Yazidis, who'd been stuck on a mountain after fleeing the advancing, crusading militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Airstrikes seem to have relieved just enough of the pressure.
Rocketfire from Gaza just hours before the end of the most recent 72-day cease fire wasn't enough to derail deeper peace talks in Egypt between Israel and Hamas. The pause in combat has been extended five more days.
Oh, and remember how the US military was sending munitions to Israel at the same time the White House was condemning Israeli airstrikes? That's because the munitions were being sent directly by the Pentagon, without the knowledge or consent of the White House.
That mysterious Russian truck convoy is now just a few miles from the Ukraine border, waiting. Ukraine has said it won't let the trucks over... but it's the separatists, and not the government, who control key border crossings in eastern part of the country.
Another government insider has filed a whistle-blower complaint about the National Security Agency's spying tactics. The complainant, formerly a State Department bigshot, says the NSA has circumvented limits on domestic surveillance—still gathering Americans' records in bulk—by tapping into foreign fiber optic cables instead.
Things are not going so well, these days, between President Obama and his presumptive would-be successor as Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.
The street fee! The new (presumably more politically palatable) lay of the land is starting to look like so: businesses would have their costs capped, to well below the thousands some might have paid—and regular citizens, like you and me, would pay some kind of progressive income tax. Final details won't be out for several more weeks, however.
Legal marijuana! One of the Portland City Club panels studying the initiatives that qualified for this fall's ballot has written a report singing the praises of legalization. The O notes, however, that the committee's was not unanimous.
Two rules about guerrilla pornography: Don't do it in a recognizable church. Don't do it if you have apparently memorable body parts. An Austrian performer named Babsi ran afoul of both. "Local Catholics debated whether the church needed to be reconsecrated, but ultimately decided not to, 'as the woman's sins had not been enough to drive out God.'"