Shorter Question Everything
• On the Stop-and-Frisk Decision: Floyd v. City of New York: [PDF] Memoranda and orders filed by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, following a two-month nonjury trial over the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics. The judge ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing.
• Racial profiling: On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the NYPD violated the constitutional rights of those it targeted, overwhelmingly blacks and Latinos. Judge Shira Scheidnlin found the department “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling” and called for a federal monitor to oversee sweeping reforms to the police department’s policy. While she did not order the program halted, Scheidnlin blasted city leaders, writing in her decision that “the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”
• Judge Rejects New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy: A federal judge ruled on Monday that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city, repudiating a major element in the Bloomberg administration’s crime-fighting legacy. The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, found that the Police Department resorted to a “policy of indirect racial profiling” as it increased the number of stops in minority communities. That has led to officers’ routinely stopping “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” The judge called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms, including the use of body-worn cameras for some patrol officers, though she was “not ordering an end to the practice of stop-and-frisk.” Concluded that the stops, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg angrily accused the judge of deliberately denying the city “a fair trial” and said the city would file an appeal.
• Judge in ‘stop-and-frisk’ case cites Trayvon Martin’s death: The judge who ruled that New York’s “stop-and-frisk” practice violated the Constitutional rights of the city’s citizens seemed to have had Trayvon Martin on her mind. Judge Shira Scheindlin references his death four times in her ruling in which she found the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy amounted to racial profiling. Scheindlin refers to Martin as “a black teenager” in the body of the opinion, but then cites his name in the footnotes as she quotes directly from three sources, including President Obama’s remarks following the verdict. She references Martin as a touchstone for the pain and frustration experienced by black men facing constant suspicion by the authorities. Scheindlin quotes two op-eds and Obama’s remarks in her opinion.
• Holder to rewrite rules in ‘war on drugs’: Attorney General Eric Holder called for overhauling the way in which the Justice Department prosecutes minor drug cases, announcing Monday that federal prosecutors will stop charging low-level drug offenders with crimes carrying strict mandatory minimum sentences. The new policy affects federal prisoners and low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no connection to cartels, gangs, or other organizations. Judges will now be allowed to decide sentence length based on the individual and his or her history. Incarceration should be used to “punish deter and rehabilitate, not merely to convict, warehouse and forget,” Holder said in unveiling the new policy shift. He said mandatory minimum sentencing has cost the government $80 billion in 2010 alone.
Racist clown car rides again
• GOP’s rodeo of racism blows up: Anti-Obama ugliness resurges as birther-in-chief Donald Trump joins top Republicans in Iowa. Coincidence? It’s been quite a week for anti-Obama racism. At the Missouri State Fair Sunday, rodeo fans cheered to see a “clown” in an Obama mask get run down by a bull. On Friday in Florida the president faced a gaggle of protesters on the way to address a disabled veterans’ group; one carried a sign reading “Kenyan Go Home.” Three days earlier, Arizonans protested Obama’s visit by singing “Bye Bye Black Sheep.” One man mocked him by calling him “47 percent Negro;” another held a sign that read, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!” Also on Sunday, the same day as the Missouri State Fair incident, ABC’s “This Week” hosted the birther-in-chief, Donald Trump, who was fresh from a visit to the right-wing Family Leadership Summit in Iowa and a golf outing with GOP House Speaker John Boehner. I should note that the Missouri State Fair rodeo was so sickening that Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder had to denounce it as “disrespectful” to the president, adding, “We are better than this.” Fairgoer Perry Beam told the Associated Press that “everybody screamed” and “just went wild” when an announcer asked if they’d like to see “Obama run down by a bull.” “It was at that point I began to feel a sense of fear. It was that level of enthusiasm,” the 48-year-old white musician said. Another clown approached and began to play with the lips of the Obama mask. “There would have been no reason to play with his lips if he were a white president,” Beam said. “They mentioned the president’s name, I don’t know, 100 times. It was sickening. It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you’d see on TV. I’ve never seen anything so blatantly racist in my life,” he added. “If an old country boy picks up on something like that, imagine what a person of color would think.”
• Birtherism bites Ted Cruz: Trump says he’s ‘perhaps not’ eligible to run for president: The country’s most prominent Republican birther says that one of his party’s early frontrunners for the 2016 presidential nomination may “perhaps not” be eligible to run if he was born in Canada. Karl pointed out that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had been born in Canada and asked if that made him ineligible to be president of the United States. “If he was born in Canada, perhaps not,” Trump admitted. “But I’m not sure where he was born.” “Oh, he was definitely born in Canada,” Karl noted. “Okay, well, then you’ll have to ask him that question, but perhaps not,” Trump said. “Look, that will be ironed out. I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada. That’s really his thing.”
• Impeach for what exactly?: Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) answered questions from a fervent anti-Obama constituent at a town hall this weekend, telling a woman that he would take a closer look at her birther conspiracy document before claiming there were enough House Republican votes to impeach the president, albeit for an unstated reason.
• North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill Monday requiring photo identification at the polls and eliminating a slew of voting measures designed to protect against voter disenfranchisement. The governor, eschewing a more traditional signing ceremony, announced by way of a YouTube video that he had signed House Bill 589. The bill will require voters to show photo identification — a driver’s license, passport, veteran’s ID, tribal card — beginning in the 2016 elections. Student IDs are not an acceptable form of identification. The bill also reduces early voting by a week, eliminates same-day registration, ends pre-registration for 16-and-17 year-olds and a student civics program, kills an annual state-sponsored voter registration drive and lessens the amount of public reporting required for so-called dark money groups, also known as 501(c)(4)s.
• A black teen in Atlanta who needs a life-saving transplant is being denied due to his low grades, according to the 15-year-old boy’s family and friends. Doctors say Anthony Stokes only has 6 months to live because of an enlarged heart. But Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where he is receiving treatment, has said he doesn’t qualify for a life-saving heart transplant because he failed his pre-transplant evaluation.
• Eighteen of the 19 U.S. embassies and consulates closed this month due to worries about potential terrorist attacks will reopen on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said on Friday. “Our embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The United States will also keep its consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, shuttered, Psaki said, adding it closed on Thursday due to a “separate credible threat.”
• Embassies Open, but Yemen Stays on Terror Watch: But the one embassy that remained closed — in Sana, the capital of Yemen — underscored the challenges President Obama faces in trying to wind down the nation’s decade-long campaign against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and reshape the nation’s counterterrorism strategy. In response to the latest threat, the United States has unleashed a barrage of drone strikes in that impoverished country, but it is unclear to what extent it has reduced the persistent and deadly threat from an increasingly decentralized Qaeda organization. The United States has carried out nine strikes in Yemen since July 28, broadening its target list beyond the high-level leaders it has always said are the main objective of the attacks.
• Police Put Off Dispersal of Pro-Morsi Sit-Ins: The Egyptian police appeared on Monday to have postponed once again their threat to begin choking off two Cairo sit-ins where tens of thousands have gathered to protest the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, leaving in place a tense six-week-old standoff. The new military-appointed government has promised for more than a week to use all necessary force to clear out the sit-ins, which were established by Mr. Morsi’s Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood upon his ouster on July 3. But so far, a combination of external pressure from Western powers and internal dissent from liberal cabinet ministers appears to have persuaded Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the officer who ordered the takeover, to hold off decisive action.
• Phosphoric acid sickens 2 JFK Airport workers: The workers quickly recovered. At first, it was believed the package from China might have contained nerve gas, but according to CNN, it contained what appears to be a skin cleanser. The two postal inspectors quickly recovered after becoming ill about 9:30 a.m., a source said. They were taken to Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, L.I., for observation.
• VX nerve agent scare at JFK Airport in New York: Two customs inspectors became sick after inhaling fumes from a package at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday morning, according to local media reports. FBI HAZMAT and Port Authority police are investigating the incident at the U.S. Postal Service facility. The item initially tested positive for VX, one of the most potent chemical weapon known to man. Law enforcement officials, however, said the test result appeared to be a false positive. Authorities believe package contained a solvent or degreaser that shouldn’t have been in the mail. Both victims suffered respiratory distress and received emergency treatment. They quickly recovered and declined further medical care. Authorities said the package may have arrived from China.
• Mystery of paralyzed birds deepens: The mystery surrounding dozens of paralyzed birds that were discovered in B.C.’s northeast has deepened after veterinarians ruled out West Nile virus but found wing and leg fractures.
In other news
• Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the release of Rafael Caro Quintero: We are deeply concerned by the release of Rafael Caro Quintero from prison in Mexico. He had been serving a 40-year prison term for the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. We have seen reports that another individual connected to Camarena’s killing could also be released. We remain as committed today in seeing Quintero and others involved in this crime face justice in the United States as we were in the immediate aftermath of Kiki Camarena’s murder and will work closely with the Mexican authorities on this.
• Toronto police Chief Bill Blair says he has appointed retired justice Dennis O’Connor to assist the force in its review of all police practices, including use of force. O’Connor presided over the inquiries into Ontario’s Walkerton water tragedy and the rendition and torture of Maher Arar, a Canadian of Syrian descent.
• CNN host corners Priebus over Fox TV producing Hillary Clinton miniseries: CNN host Candy Crowley on Sunday confronted Republican National Committee Chairman (RNC) Reince Priebus and asked him why he was not pulling GOP debates off of the Fox News Channel after it was revealed that Fox Television studios may be producing a Hillary Clinton miniseries. In letters to NBC Entertainment and CNN last week, Priebus had threatened to not allow the networks to host any Republican presidential primary debates unless plans to air shows about Clinton were scrapped. Priebus later explained to Fox News host Sean Hannity that he as attempting to “control the referees” because CNN and NBC were “not in the business of promoting our party.” But The New York Times reported on Friday that Fox Television Studios, the sister company of Fox News, was in talks to produce the miniseries for NBC.