Friday, December 5, 2014

Video Music - Avril Lavigne - Rock N Roll

Video - Word association with Hillary Clinton

Video - Eric Garner's sister and daughter talk to CNN

How effective are police body cameras?

Video - Calls for "Justice" as protesters return to Washington streets

Protests against police violence flare for third night in New York

Protesters in New York and other cities staged a third night of rallies on Friday, denouncing the use of deadly force by police against minorities, even as prosecutors said they would consider charges against an officer in the fatal shooting of a unarmed black man in November.
The slaying of Akai Gurley, 28, gunned down in a dimly lit stairwell in the New York borough of Brooklyn, was the latest in a string of lethal police actions feeding U.S. public outrage over what many perceive as racially based violence by law enforcement.
This week's wave of angry but largely peaceful protests began Wednesday when a New York grand jury declined to bring charges against white police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black 43-year-old father of six.
Garner, who had no weapon, was being arrested on suspicion of selling cigarettes illegally in a videotaped confrontation with police on Staten Island in July. The video shows Pantaleo's arm across Garner's neck as he is subdued by four officers, then Garner pinned face down to the pavement as he repeatedly gasps, "I can't breathe" - a phrase protesters have adopted as a rallying cry.
The decision sparing Pantaleo from prosecution was announced nine days after a Missouri grand jury chose not to indict a white policeman for the shooting death in August of an unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, spurring two nights of arson and unrest there.
Then on Thursday in Phoenix, Arizona, another unarmed black man was shot dead by a white police officer during a scuffle, leading to protests in that city.
"The government has created a monster and the monster is now loose," said Soraya Soi Free, 45, a nurse from the Bronx who has been protesting in New York.
After two nights that saw thousands of demonstrators pouring into the streets and blocking traffic in Manhattan, the turnout for Friday's rallies was considerably smaller, numbering in the hundreds, as a cold, steady rain fell.
In a surprising departure from previous nights, however, more than a hundred people stormed into an Apple Store on Central Park South and Fifth Avenue to stage a brief "die-in," sprawling on the floor of the crowded showroom as shoppers and employees watched. The group left without incident after about five minutes.
Similar demonstrations were staged at Macy's flagship department store in Herald Square and at Grand Central Terminal, one of the city's two main rail stations. As they did at the Apple store, police stood by but allowed the protesters to briefly occupy both locations.
While most businesses in midtown Manhattan have remained open throughout the week, some stores have curtailed their hours in response to the recent unrest. Representatives of Best Buy Co Inc and Target Corp said the companies had temporarily closed stores early as a precaution.
Meanwhile, nearly 100 people, including local civic leaders, huddled under umbrellas near the site of Garner's death for a candlelight vigil on Staten Island.
"This is a movement, a rainbow of people," the Rev. Demetrius Carolina of the First Central Baptist Church told the racially mixed crowd.
In Chicago, protesters paused for a moment of silence, as a siren could be heard wailing nearby.
Renee Alexander, 44, a nurse from Woodbridge, Virginia, who joined about 200 protesters in downtown Washington, expressed outrage over the images of Garner's death, captured in the video widely shown on television and the Internet.
"It's heartbreaking for me to watch, over and over on TV, how his life was cut short on the street, just like a dog,” she said. "They had no respect for him. No human being should die in the street like that - choked to death.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said on Friday he will convene a grand jury to consider charges against the New York City officer who shot Gurley. Police there have said the officer, Peter Liang, may have accidentally discharged his gun.
At a news conference with Gurley's relatives on Friday, Kevin Powell, the president of the advocacy group BK Nation, called the shooting part of a "series of modern-day lynchings."
Gurley's mother, Sylvia Palmer, tearfully demanded justice for her son. A wake for Gurley was scheduled for Friday night, with his funeral to follow on Saturday.
In Cleveland on Friday, the family of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police filed a lawsuit against the city, a day after the federal government found the police department systematically uses excessive force.
New York police have taken a soft approach to crowd control during this week's protests, generally allowing marchers to proceed unhindered as long as they remained peaceful.
Halfway across the country, activists on Friday concluded a 120-mile (190 km) protest march to the Missouri governor's mansion from Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death in August by a policeman who initially stopped the teenager for walking in the street.
Some witnesses to the confrontation told a grand jury that Brown had raised his hands in the air before he was killed, though others contradicted that testimony.
More than 100 protesters shouted, "hands up, don't shoot" and other slogans as they rallied in the rotunda of the state capitol in Jefferson City.
Unlike the Aug. 9 slaying of Brown, Garner's encounter was captured on video. Pantaleo could still face disciplinary action from an internal police investigation, his lawyer said. Chokeholds are banned by police department regulations.
Pantaleo told the grand jury he used a proper takedown technique and denied putting pressure on Garner's neck, according to his lawyer, Stuart London. The city's medical examiner has said Garner's death was caused by compressing his neck and chest, with his asthma and obesity contributing.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department will pursue civil rights investigations into both the Missouri shooting and the New York case, though legal experts have said federal charges for the two officers are unlikely.

Turkey 'guilty of religious discrimination'

Rights court rules Alevi minority is discriminated against as MP says their places of worship will soon be recognised.

Turkey has been discriminating against its Alevi Muslim religious minority by failing to recognise their places of worship and pay the electricity bill of their premises, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.
Turkey was taken to the top human rights court in 2010 by the Republican Education and Cultural Center Foundation, an Alevi organisation also known as Cem Foundation. The group objected to the state practice of not paying the electricity bills for an Istanbul cemevi - where Alevis hold rituals - while doing so for mosques, churches and synagogues.
According to Turkish law, the electricity bills for places of worship are paid from a fund administered by the Directorate of Religious Affairs, a state institution dealing with religious issues.
Tuesday's landmark ruling comes after the conservative Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's announcement of planned reforms to meet Alevis' demands. 

However, these reforms were criticised by Alevi groups, as they did not change the main position of the government, failing to recognise cemevis (literally translated as gathering houses) as official places of worship.
"In the recent proposed reforms, the government offered Alevis funds without offering their sites official recognition. Alevis want cemevis and their faith to be recognised, so the proposal did not satisfy them," Riza Turmen, a former ECHR judge and MP of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told Al Jazeera.
'Alevism not a religion'
Ankara has long refused to offer Alevi sites official recognition. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at various times said that Alevism was not a religion and mosques were the only places of worship in the religion of Islam.  
Another Alevi complaint is that mandatory religious school courses are focused on Sunni Islam. Followers of the sect also claim that they are kept from state institution jobs.
Ahmet Iyimaya, the chairman of the parliament's justice commission and an AK Party MP, told Al Jazeera that the government would act in line with the ruling and make the necessary steps.
"Recognition of cemevis as places of worship is already on our agenda," he said.
"The ECHR judgment is good news. However, Alevis, who are an ancient part of this nation, wished their rights were given by Turkey's democracy, rather than Europe," Cengiz Hortoglu, the chairman of Anatolia Alevi Bektashi Federation, said. 
Izzettin Dogan, the chairman of Cem Foundation, the organisation that sued Turkey, called the verdict "historic".
An estimated 10 to 15 million people in Turkey, a country of 76 million, belong to the Alevi sect. A 2012 research report by Sabaht Akkiraz, an MP of the CHP, estimated that there were 12.5 million Alevis in Turkey.
Alevis - no relation to the Alawites of Syria - mix Islam, Sufi and Anatolian folk traditions in their practices and philosophy. However, like Alawites, they are followers of Ali, a caliph in Islamic history and a relative of Prophet Muhammad.
The Cem Foundation argued that as a result of Ankara's non-recognition, the Yenibosna Centre, the cemevi in question, raked up unpaid bills amounting to more than 668,000 Turkish liras (close to $300,000).
In the verdict, a panel of seven judges at the Strasbourg-based court established that the Yenibosna Centre included a room for ceremonies and rituals, a basic part of the practice of  Alevism.
The ECHR also concluded that the cemevi provided funeral services and its activities were of non-profit nature.
"[The Court] noted that Turkish law reserved the exemption from payment of electricity bills to recognised places of worship and that by excluding cemevis from the benefit of that status, it introduced a difference in treatment on the ground of religion," the ECHR said.
In the ruling, the EHCR invited Ankara to send a proposal regarding the cemevi in question.
The verdict is not final as there is an appeal process. In case of no appeal, the verdict will be final in three months.
'Change does not happen overnight'
AK Party MP Iyimaya told Al Jazeera that since Alevis recognised cemevis as their sites of worship, it was unquestionable that the state has to recognise these places and grant them the same concessions it does to other places of worship.
"Speaking in terms of democratic practices, religious groups in a country should decide if a premise is a place of worship, not the state and laws," he said.
"This has not happened up until today, because cultural divides in a country do not transform overnight. The codes of democracy have recently been penetrated into the society. We are trying to walk in a path that is not in conflict with the perceptions of the society,” he added
However, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's first response to the ruling was brief. "This is not a situation that will have impact on our efforts. We will move on our own path," he said.
Davutoglu gathered Alevi representatives at his office on Tuesday only hours after the verdict was announced.
In a recent visit to Tunceli, an Alevi-majority city, he promised to stand strongly with Alevis and "personally follow" all acts of discrimination, but he fell short of promising official recognition for their faith.
Former ECHR judge Turmen told Al Jazeera that it was the fifth decision by the ECHR on the Alevi issue and Turkey could not settle this problem without implementing them, adding that acts for show would not resolve the issue.
Turmen said: "Visiting cemevis or meeting the seniors of the faith would not do the government any benefit. Alevis want these verdicts, which are binding according to the European Convention of Human Rights, to be implemented. If the government has the will to solve this issue, these verdicts should be implemented."

Syria - ‘Terrorism exported to Middle East from Europe’ – Assad

Terrorism is being exported to the Middle East from Europe, especially from France, said Syria’s President Bashar Assad in an interview to French media. He also criticized Western states for politically supporting terrorists in the region.
In the ongoing civil war in Syria government forces have been fighting terrorists since the very beginning of the conflict in its third year, said Assad in an interview with Paris Match news magazine given in late November and published on Wednesday.
“Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism,” he said answering a question whether the conflict could have been managed differently with the appearance of the first signs of the March 2011 revolution.
The civil war was preceded by violent anti-government protests and unrest, considered to be an extension of the Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East and North Africa supported by radical Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda.
Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes,” Assad said.
He explained that currently Syria is fighting against “not only gangs”, but also states that support them with “billions of dollars.”
This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that. We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village,” he elaborated.
He refuted claims that the Syrian government supports Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) militants, which are on the rampage in parts of Syria and Iraq, calling them absurd.
Reuters / Hosam Katan
Reuters / Hosam Katan

The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [IS leader] was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?”
Terrorism is an ideology which twenty years ago was exported to the West from Sunni Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Assad stated. He believes that the process has reversed with terrorists coming to the Middle East from Europe and “especially France”.
“The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria is French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.”
The Syrian president also jokingly noted that the competitor of the President Francois Hollande in France is now ISIS “because Holland’s popularity is close to that of ISIS.”
‘Syria will not be a Western puppet state’
The Syrian Opposition Coalition, formed in 2012 in Qatar and supported by the US, has been calling for Assad to resign. President Barack Obama’s administration repeatedly said conflict in Syria can only be solved if Assad steps down as president.
In turn, Assad said that “no president can be installed or deposed through chaos”, citing the devastating results of Libya – when in 2011 the civil war and ousting of Muammar Gaddafi led to the increase of insurgency and a new wave of strife ongoing on the country.
Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy?” he questioned.
He added that remaining president had never been his objective but he will not allow Syria to fall and become a “Western puppet state”. Assad compared the country to a ship and the president to its captain, which cannot abandon the vessel if it’s sinking.
Reuters / Hosam Katan
Reuters / Hosam Katan

The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first.”
Syria’s president criticized the air strikes conducted by the US-led coalition targeting the militants in Syria saying that there strikes are “merely cosmetic” and “terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air.”
That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction,” he said. “And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true.”
Assad reiterated that strikes are an illegal intervention because they have not been authorized by a UN Security Council resolution and do not respect the sovereignty of Syria.
He stressed that the Syrian army has been conducting ground operations as well as airstrikes against terrorists which are larger than that those launched by the alliance.
We are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions,” he said.

Bahraini activist Zainab al-Khawaja sentenced over king's photo

Bahraini pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja has been sentenced to three years in prison for tearing up a picture of King Hamad.
A court gave her the option of paying a fine to remain at liberty until her appeal.
Ms Khawaja, who comes from Bahrain's most prominent dissident family, faces other cases next week.
Amnesty International said it would consider Ms Khawaja "a prisoner of conscience" if she were jailed.
"Tearing up a photo of the head of state should not be a criminal offence," Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said.
"Amnesty International is calling for this and all of Zainab Al-Khawaja's other convictions to be quashed and all outstanding charges to be dropped."
The dual Bahraini and Danish national has been detained several times since pro-democracy protests erupted in the Gulf island nation in 2011.
Ms Khawaja was released from prison in February, after spending nearly a year behind the bars for participating in an illegal gathering and insulting police.
She reportedly refused to appeal before higher courts because she believed that Bahrain's judiciary was controlled by the government. She also refused to pay bail.
Earlier this week, her younger sister, Mariam, received a one-year sentence in absentia on charges of assaulting police officers.
Ms Khawaja's father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence for his part in anti-government protests in 2011.

West's action in Libya in 2011 was a 'mistake' - Italy's foreign ministry

Western countries made a 'mistake' three years ago, when they intervened in Libya to overthrow the Gaddafi regime, according to Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The statement came amid reports of the US discussing airstrikes on Libya's territory.
"Three years ago we might have made a mistake, when international forces interfered without thinking through the scenario, what will happen afterwards. Italian voice was too weak," Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni said in a TV interview with national broadcaster RAI, as quoted by Tass news agency.
While meeting international journalists on Friday, the minister said that stabilizing the situation in Libya - which at the moment is an uncontrollable land of "chaos" - and in the whole Mediterranean region was a key priority of Italy's foreign policy.
French Rafale fighter jet from the Istres military air base approaching an airborne Boeing C-135 refuelling tanker aircraft (not pictured) during a refuelling operation above the Mediterranean sea as part of military actions over Libya. (AFP Photo / Gerard Julien)
French Rafale fighter jet from the Istres military air base approaching an airborne Boeing C-135 refuelling tanker aircraft (not pictured) during a refuelling operation above the Mediterranean sea as part of military actions over Libya. (AFP Photo / Gerard Julien)

Meanwhile, the US has plans to expand its anti Islamic State military campaign to Libya, The Timesreported on Friday. Amid western countries' concerns over Libya's political instability, that could possibly be used by the IS terrorists in their favor, a top US general has confirmed the Islamic State runs jihadist training camps in eastern Libya.
Now "an American commander has acknowledged that discussions are under way in Washington about broadening the anti-Isis campaign to Libya," The Times wrote.
The fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime back in 2011 and the turmoil that followed it has provided a fertile ground for extremism. Since August, Libya’s capital of Tripoli has been in the hands of Libya Dawn - a coalition of Islamist-backed militias who appointed their own administration, while the internationally-recognized government and parliament have been pushed a thousand kilometers away to Tobruk.
AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia
AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia

The UN has condemned the recent fighting - the worst since 2011. An international contact group, which gathered in Addis Ababa earlier this week to discuss the Libyan crisis, has rejected the use of force to solve it. But the country's officials have ruled out peace talks after Libya Dawn allied itself with jihadi groups.
"We cannot continue with two governments, two parliaments, so Libya Dawn should end or we are going to arrest them all," Libya's military commander, General Khalifa Hiftar told RT.
Moscow has said only neighboring countries in the region should participate in stabilizing the situation in Libya, while others stay put. When meeting his Sudanese counterpart earlier in the week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "interference from overseas assuming a leading role in settling sovereignty issues" that has been witnessed in Iraq and Libya, and now is being attempted in Syria, leads to tragedy and a state's breakup.

Video - Eric Garner Protests Grip NYC | msnbc

The Obamacare paradox: the law looks terrible but is doing great

Politically, Obamacare has had a terrible past few weeks. First there was inaccurate enrollment data (the administration wrongly included dental plans). Then there were Jon Gruber's comments on "the stupidity of American voters." And it was capped off with Sen. Chuck Schumer saying that passing the law was a mistake. That led to headlines like: "Dark days ahead for Obamacare," "The Obamacare controversy grows" and my own "Obamacare's terrible, horrible, no good very bad month."
But if you look beyond the political fights, the picture looks very different. Obamacare is, policy-wise, having a great month — maybe even the law's best month ever.
Jonathan Chait wrote a piece in New York magazine detailing four recent studies that show Obamacare is working. Some of it has to do with the part of the law that we all know the best — the coverage expansion to millions of Americans. Study after study shows that the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of Americans with health insurance. And this wasn't actually taken as a given at this point last year: there was some speculation that coverage rates might actually drop in 2014, as Obamacare's regulations cancelled millions of individual policies.
Then there are the parts of Obamacare that are about improving the health care system not just for the uninsured, but for everyone who goes to the doctor. And here, too, the law seems to be working.
Health care costs grew at their slowest rate ever in 2013 — in part due to Obamacare's spending cuts — according to a recent study in Health Affairs. And hospitals have been making fewer deadly medical errors since the Affordable Care Act began cutting Medicare reimbursements for institutions with lots of errors.
Chait's piece is worth reading in full, and I'd only add to it a few other tidbits of good Obamacare news that have come out in recent days. One has to do with enrollment: 765, shoppers selected health insurance plans during the first three weeks of open enrollment this fall.
To put that in perspective: during the first two months of open enrollment in 2013, just 470,000 people enrolled in coverage — and those numbers included both and the 14 state-based exchanges. This time around, and only counting the Healthcare.govshoppers, enrollment has easily surpassed that total in half the time. Much of this likely boils down to the fact that the Obama administration (and states) built health shopping websites that actually work this time.
Enrollment is moving faster, and shoppers have more options when they turn up to buy. Health and Human Services put out a report this afternoon finding that the number of options has increased 25 percent over the past year.
More insurers want to sell on the marketplace, and that seems to be restraining the growth of insurance premiums. The average benchmark insurance premium (the mid-level plan that the government uses to figure out how big subsidies will be) went up 2 percent between 2013 and 2014. In the years before the health insurance expansion, premiums in the individual market typically went up by at least 10 percent annually.
Obamacare, despite one political disaster after another, is delivering on some of the key things the law meant to change about the health care system. The health care system covers more people than it did a year ago. Costs are growing at a slower pace than ever before and hospitals are killing fewer patients. That's a lot of good news that's happened quickly. There's a lot of good happening with the law that, if you're just looking at the politics Obamacare, you'd never know was happening.

Video - Ashton Carter - physicist, Rhodes scholar, Defense Secretary

Video - President Obama nominates Ashton Carter as new US defence chief

Video - Arrests made in New York protests

Video - Police Brutality - Massive Protests Erupt Across America: Boston, New York, D.C., Chicago, St. Loius Dec 4, 2014

Video - New York City Protest - Eric Garner Protest throughout NYC after Eric Garner Ruling

U.S. - We Must Stop Police Abuse of Black Men

I CAN recall it as if it were yesterday: looking into the toilet and seeing blood instead of urine. That was the aftermath of my first police encounter.
As a 15-year-old, living in South Jamaica, Queens, I was arrested on a criminal trespass charge after unlawfully entering and remaining in the home of an acquaintance. Officers took me to the 103rd Precinct — the same precinct where an unarmed Sean Bell was later shot and killed by the police — and brought me into a room in the basement. They kicked me in the groin repeatedly. Out of every part of my body, that’s what they targeted. Then I spent the night in Spofford juvenile detention center.
For seven days after that, I stared into the toilet bowl in my house at the blood I was urinating. I kept telling myself that if it didn’t clear up by the next day, I would share this shame and embarrassment with my mother, although I could never bring myself to start that conversation. When clear urine returned, I thought I was leaving that moment behind me. I never told anyone this, not even my mother, until I was an adult.
As I attempted to put that shame and attack on my manhood away, new horror stories kept compelling me to relive those memories: the nightmare experiences of Randolph Evans, Patrick Dorismond, Abner Louima and countless other young men have reminded me of my own secret. Think of all the secrets that young men of color are hiding. How many are concealing some dark truth of the abuse they endured, and what is that darkness doing to them?
In order to finally bring this darkness into the light of day, our nation must address the foundation of this crisis. That starts with acknowledging that the training taught in police academies across the country is not being applied in communities of color. After six months in the police academy, that instruction is effectively wiped out by six days of being taught by veteran cops on the streets.
I learned this myself firsthand. I didn’t want any more children to go through what I endured, so I sought to make change from the inside by joining the police department.
Hours after coming out of the police academy, I was told something as a new rookie officer: You’d rather be tried by 12 jurors than carried by six pallbearers. In my impressionable first days, I saw officers leave the precinct every day touching the lockers of their fallen brothers. They started their shift on the defensive, thinking about protecting themselves, as opposed to the communities they served, regardless of the complexion of those communities. One of my white fellow officers once told me that if he saw a white individual with a gun, he took extra care for himself and the individual. When he saw a black individual with a gun, he took care only for himself.
These are the lessons to which I was exposed, and the reality of what policing communities of color has been, not just in New York City but across America. There is a legacy of inequity that did not just appear overnight, but was carved into the culture of law enforcement over decades.
There is reluctance on the part of police leadership, which has long believed in the nightstick and quick-trigger-finger justice, to effectively deal with officers who have documented and substantiated records of abuse. These individuals need to be removed from the force. That is an essential component of the larger response we must have to address this history of abuse.
We cannot continue to approach policing in an antiquated fashion, and that certainly includes technology. Technology has been used as a crime-fighting tactic, but not as a tool to determine what happens during a police action. New York City has taken the right step in putting body cameras on police officers, but what about cameras on guns themselves? While I was a state senator, I introduced a proposal to allow such devices, which would not interfere with the function of the weapon; this proposal deserves to be revisited. In fact, we can go further, with cameras on police vehicles as well. Not only will technology shine a light on the darkness of these police encounters, it will be significant in advancing community trust that accountability does in fact apply.
Equally important, especially in the wake of what has taken place after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, is reform to our grand jury system. Grand juries were established in England in the 12th and 13th centuries, a vestige of a time when people needed to be protected from unfair prosecution from the king and others. There was a necessary element of secrecy — one that need not apply in cases involving police misconduct.
Open, preliminary hearings in court can and should determine if a case should be stepped up to a trial. Additionally, the handling of police shootings should be wholly separated from local grand juries. These bodies cannot handle cases involving local police officers on whom they rely every day.
Special grand juries should be convened for police-related incidents, and independent agencies must gather evidence even before they convene, at the time of police encounters where a death has occurred; the evidence gathered at that moment is the evidence that will shape whether there is an indictment, as well as whether there will be a fair trial based on the facts.
All of these ideas need to be moved forward under the leadership of our president, our governors, the mayors of our major cities and our law enforcement leadership. If we fail to take advantage of this moment that history has laid on our doorstep, we are doomed to more abuse, more division and more chaos.
When my son was 15, he was stopped by the police in a movie theater for no apparent reason. He showed his ID and explained that his father was a retired police captain and a state senator. The response was “So what?” It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter who he is. He shouldn’t have had that experience at all. And until that changes, for all men of color, real reform will never come.

U.S: - It Wasn’t Just the Chokehold

One route to justice for Eric Garner was blocked on Wednesday, by a Staten Island grand jury’s confounding refusal to see anything potentially criminal in the police assault that killed him.
But the quest will continue. The fury that has prompted thousands to protest peacefully across New York City, and the swift promise by the Justice Department of a thorough investigation, may help ensure a just resolution to this tragedy. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton, too, have vowed that necessary changes will come from Mr. Garner’s death, promising that the Police Department will respond and improve itself, and redouble efforts to patrol communities in fairness and safety.
But among the many needed reforms, there is one simple area that risks being overlooked. Besides the banned chokehold used by Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who brought Mr. Garner down, throwing a beefy arm around his neck, there was lethal danger in the way Mr. Garner was subdued — on his stomach, with a pile of cops on his back.
This breaks a basic rule of safe arrests, especially for people who, like Mr. Garner, are overweight and have medical problems like asthma. When the New York medical examiner’s office ruled Mr. Garner’s death a homicide, it cited “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
As early as 1995, a Department of Justice bulletin on “positional asphyxia” quoted the New York Police Department’s guidelines on preventing deaths in custody. “As soon as the subject is handcuffed, get him off his stomach. Turn him on his side or place him in a seated position.”
As Michael Baden, a former chief medical examiner of New York City, told The Times: “Obese people especially, lying face down, prone, are unable to breathe when enough pressure is put on their back. The pressure prevents the diaphragm from going up and down, and he can’t inhale and exhale.”
Which is exactly what Mr. Garner was trying to tell the officers who were on top of him.
Mr. Garner’s death recalls a similar tragedy involving a less familiar name: Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome who was killed last year in a struggle with three off-duty county sheriff’s deputies at a movie theater in Frederick County, Md. Mr. Saylor was overweight. The officers who killed him were just as inept as Officer Pantaleo and his gang, though with one key difference: When they realized that Mr. Saylor was in distress, they tried to save him. Still, their efforts came too late, because mere moments in a facedown arrest can be deadly.
The Garner killing must lead to major changes in policy, particularly in the use of “broken windows” policing — a strategy in which Officer Pantaleo specialized, according to a report in September by WNYC, which found that he had made hundreds of arrests since joining the force in 2007, leading to at least 259 criminal cases, all but a fraction of those involving petty offenses. The department must find a better way to keep communities safe than aggressively hounding the sellers of loose cigarettes.
And while defenders of the police like to point to thousands of nonfatal misdemeanor arrests as evidence that officers are acting in a way that is reasonable and safe, there can never be a justification for any lethal assault on an unarmed man, no justification for brutality.
The outrage in New York, echoed by anguished protesters in Ferguson, Mo., and in Cleveland, where the Justice Department has found a pattern of excessive force by the police, is based on a genuine fear of aggressive, abusive cops.
The results of such abuse can be seen in the final, quiet minutes of the horrifying video of the Garner assault. This is well after the chokehold, when Mr. Garner lies on the ground as officers and paramedics — who were later disciplined for their behavior — ignore him and bystanders ask: Why is no one giving him CPR?
This was the point where Mr. Garner was dying, the victim of Officer Pantaleo, but also of bad policy, poor training and heedlessness of the basics of anatomy and breathing.

U.S. - Sit-ins, die-ins and blockades - Chokehold death protests spread across U.S.

If the color were removed from the boundless images of protests on America's streets over the last two days, they might be mistaken for black-and-white photos of the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s.
Marchers with signs in Dallas, Boston, Chicago and Manhattan, screamed for justice. And not only for one African-American man, Eric Garner, who died after a white police officer wrestled him to the ground with a chokehold.
The grand jury decision to not prosecute Officer Daniel Pantaleo may have unleashed the dam burst of protests, but the anger of a multitude marching deep into the night has encompassed more than Garner's death in Staten Island, New York.
The demand for change in how law enforcement deals with minorities has been broad. "It's happening in every city, every town. It's happening here in Pittsburgh," Julia Johnson told CNN affiliate WPXI.
"The whole damn system is guilty as hell," some signs glowing under street lights read. It treats some Americans less equally than others base on their race, protesters alleged.
"I'm out here because the system has failed us too many times," Courtney Wicker, a New York protester, told CNN affiliate NY1. "It makes me feel like there's no justice."
'Black lives matter'
"Racism kills," read a sign held over the heads of a crowd. It summed up the sentiment in a filled New York City square framed by office high-rises speckled with lighted windows late Thursday.
Put the color back into the protest images from around the country, and it would be impossible to describe the diverse crowds flowing together through the streets in any racial terms -- other than human race -- with every hue of complexion that lives in America marching side by side.
But, together, they all stuck up for one: "Black lives matter" was the refrain of the chorus of protest slogans.
"The criminalization of black youth in America needs to end," a young white marcher said. "It's time that we say we're fed up and this needs to change."
The show of solidarity has touched Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, who is African-American. He was feeling down after the Staten Island grand jury declined to press charges.
"After the decision, I think some of us were so fallen," he said, making a gesture of his chest caving in. "But then, when you see this diverse group of people sort of gathering together and saying this is fundamentally unfair and taking to the streets, it sort of reconfirms our faith in our society, in our values," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper late Thursday.
1960s style methods
One Asian-American protester felt inspired by the 1960s marches, but she believes that struggle shows change will take a long time.
"If you think about the civil rights movement, it took 10 years for anything to happen between the protests and the boycotts of the buses to the actual Civil Rights Act," she said.
In the vein of their 1960's predecessors, protesters in various cities held sit-ins, die-ins, preached through megaphones and chanted in unison. In New York, dozens sat down in an intersection, blocking traffic. Others patiently waited as police almost gently put them in plastic handcuffs and walked them off the streets.
Under the ambient brightness of Times Square's colossal kaleidoscope of video billboards, a crowd of young protesters lay down in Garner's name on the concrete overnight Thursday.
But their symbolic deaths also commemorated other unarmed black men who have been killed.
Mock coffins, names written on them, lay interspersed with the stripes of crosswalks, as living protesters stretched out next to them in morbid solidarity.
A similar scene sprawled across a downtown St. Louis traffic island a night earlier, as a few dozen protesters played dead.
A police detective said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wanted officers to go a little easy on those obstructing streets, as many did.
Making gridlock
Protesters filed down avenues between lines of cars backed up for blocks.
They stopped traffic on the broad thoroughfare West Side Highway in Manhattan near 10th Street, CNN affiliate WABC reported. And they stranded drivers on Broadway. And they blocked the entrance to the Holland Tunnel leading to New Jersey.
The New York Police Department said at least 200 people were arrested Thursday night. The NYPD had been on the lookout for people obstructing traffic for extended periods.
Author and CNN commentator Michaela Angela Davis was marching in a mixed crowd of mostly white students chanting "black lives matter."
The blocked streets didn't bother her so much. It's democracy, she said. "I feel like we are seeing the American project at work. It is messy; it is difficult."

Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, Oakland
In Boston, a diverse crowd turned the annual downtown Christmas tree lighting into its protest late Thursday. "Black lives matter!" "We can't breathe!" chanted men and women of all colors.
A white man pumped his fist in the air.
Protestors stopped a line of train service, and they blocked the Mass Pike and Interstate 93. State troopers went in to escort them out. Authorities detained several people, CNN affiliate WCVB reported.
In Chicago, a small group of protesters stood in tense stalemate with police, who tried to keep them from blocking a street.
Some were wearing the Guy Fawkes masks popular during Occupy Wall Street protests -- eerily smiling, pale white plastic faces with curved, black pointy mustaches and pointy chin beards.
In Washington, on Wednesday night, protesters marched between glaring automotive headlights with their hands up. Video from Dallas showed a few dozen protesters blocking an interstate late Thursday. They were quickly surrounded by squad cars, and police made arrests.
As an officer loaded a Latina woman into the back seat of the patrol car, demonstrators yelled at the top their lungs over blaring sirens, "Let her go! Let her go!" Protesters took turns giving speeches through a bullhorn in Oakland, California, as others stood with their hands up across from police officers late Wednesday.
A night later, they marched to the Fruitvale rail station, where on New Year's Day 2009, a white officer shot dead Oscar Grant, an unarmed black male, 22 years of age.

Abused women face lonely struggle for justice in Pakistan

When Ruqayya Parveen’s husband dumped a jug of acid on her and her children as they slept, she awoke to a life of pain and disfigurement — one that many in conservative Pakistan believe she brought upon herself.
The police have shown little interest in tracking down her husband in the 18 months since the attack, and she says many in her community shun her, not only because of her appearance but because they assume she did something to provoke the attack.
Last year, at least 1,000 Pakistani women were murdered in so-called “honour killings” carried out by husbands or male relatives over suspicions of adultery or other illicit sexual behaviour, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private organization. It said another 7,000 survived similar assaults, including acid attacks, amputations, and immolation.
The commission only compiles reported cases, meaning the true statistics are likely much higher, as cases are often covered up by families.
Last month, a Pakistani court sentenced to death four men who had beaten a pregnant woman to death in front of a Lahore courthouse for marrying against the family’s wishes. One of the men was her father; the others were male relatives.
That verdict came after the killing sparked widespread outrage. But women’s rights groups say justice in such cases is often elusive, with police and prosecutors having little interest in getting involved in what many in the conservative, Muslim-majority Pakistan see as private family matters.
Parveen, 26, said her husband, an “alcoholic gambler,” threw acid on her as she slept with three of their four children.
“I lost my senses. I was shivering with pain,” she said. She was hospitalized for six months with severe burns on her face, torso, back and arms. She lost vision in her left eyeball, which hangs from the socket, and hearing in her left ear.
When she went to the police she was told they could only apprehend her husband if she told them where he was. “Is this a joke?” she asked.
Police investigator Mahmood Khan told The Associated Press that he did not have the intelligence resources to track the husband down. “We’re ready to spend the money. We’re ready to travel,” he said, but only if she tells them where to look.
“In our country, domestic violence is still considered a private matter,” said Zoia Tariq, a women’s rights activist. “Try telling a police officer or a government official that someone is hitting his wife, sister, daughter, you will get a response ... ‘What have you got to do with it? It is their personal matter.“’
Parveen says it is the lack of justice, more than the disfigurement, which has “robbed me of the will to live.”
She is still in pain from the attack, and stays at home most days to avoid the stares. Her mother works as a housekeeper and her eldest son, an 11-year-old, quit school to work as a gravedigger.
There are shelters in Karachi where she and other abused women can learn skills in order to earn a livelihood.
“It is important that these women consider themselves survivors and not victims. It is essential for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society,” said Uzma Noorani, who runs one such shelter.
But it’s hard to see yourself as a survivor when you are treated like a pariah.
“Acid attack victims are avoided like the plague, like AIDS,” Tariq, the women’s rights activist, said. “They’re considered someone punished for doing something wrong. People would ask their kids to stay away from such victims, stay away from their influence.”
Rubina Qaimkhani, a Pakistani minister in charge of women’s affairs in Sindh province, acknowledged that the government could do more, but said there was a need to change the mindset of the entire society. “We are making laws and trying to create awareness among women of how they can fight for their rights,” she said.
Laws already on the books bar sexual harassment in the workplace and criminalize acid-throwing. But a bill specifically addressing domestic violence failed to make it out of Pakistan’s upper house because of opposition from hard-line religious parties.
Zohra Yusuf, the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission, says the legal system does little to protect the rights of people like Parveen, but that society is slowly changing.
“You hear of a lot of cases of women marrying of their own will,” she said. “You are seeing a bit of change that, you know, they will not accept patriarchy all their lives.”