You might not know it from watching TV news, but FBI statistics show that crime in the U.S.—including violent crime—has been trending steadily downward for years, falling 19% between 1987 and 2011. The job of being a police officer has become safer too, as the number of police killed by gunfire plunged to 33 last year, down 50% from 2012, to its lowest level since, wait for it, 1887, a time when the population was 75% lower than it is today.
So why are we seeing an ever increasing militarization of policing across the country?
This new trend is chilling, frankly. From Jamaica to France to Russia, and many map stops in between, a who’s who of American anti-LGBT activists, feeling defeated and increasingly marginalized here at home, are seizing the chance to stir the pot in any nation that might be willing to see them as soothsayers. It is, to the letter, the strategy we saw in Uganda a handful of years ago, when Scott Lively and other Americans started dropping into the nation and telling locals how downright awful we LGBT Americans are. We all know how that one played out.
Perhaps these exporters of animus get a free trip and a little feeling of importance out of these gigs. But in booking these trips, they are selling out their country and the majority of citizens who support equality for LGBT people, quite literally portraying America as some sort of fallen embarrassment for which we should apologize. They also have been inciting harsh violence against the existing LGBT population. They need to be held accountable for their words, whether spoken in the United States, Peru, or elsewhere around the world.
*UPDATE: Our friends at Right Wing Watch remind us that Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver was also in Peru last fall, where he was treated like a visiting hero: Staver Awarded By Peruvian Government For Helping To Fight Obama’s Godless Colonialism [RWW]
Not many people know, but many Americans crossed the border and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before Dec 7, 1941. More than 840 died.
They’re finally being recognized for their contribution.
Requiescat in Pace, guys. We’ll keep the faith.
Much has been made of the fact that nearly half of Americans paid no federal income tax in 2010. Some people interpret that statistic as saying that we are a nation of makers and takers, with the makers paying the taxes that support the takers. But the story is not that simple. This video explains who doesn’t pay income taxes and why, and notes that the share of non-payers is headed down to just a third a decade from now. Learn more: urbn.is
Top 10 UK Cities (Outside London) According to 1000 Americans
Anyway, here are the top 10 answers:
Liverpool (15% of respondents answered ‘Liverpool’ - or a misspelt variant)
Paris (1.9%) - Yes, Paris
The new republic started advancing life and liberty by keeping a substantial part of its population enslaved. (This, at least, proves the frequent British put-down that Americans don’t have a sense of irony.) … .And if, as some scholars argue, the Civil War was the unfinished business of the American Revolution, then Americans — like the Russians — paid a very high human cost for their revolutions.
On to liberty. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that more than 2 million people were incarcerated in 2011; that includes federal, state and local prisoners, as well as those awaiting trial. To put that total into perspective, the International Centre for Prison Studies ranks the United States ranks first in the world in the number of prisoners per 100,000 residents. That’s well ahead of Canada (which ranks 136th) and even Russia. The U.S. incarceration rate for African American men, which is about six times higher than that of white men, according to 2010 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, points to yet more unfinished business.
As for the pursuit of happiness, Americans are free to do just that — provided that they aren’t rotting in jail. But are they likely to find it? Most Americans work longer hours and have fewer paid vacations and benefits — including health care — than their counterparts in most advanced countries. Consider also that in the CIA World Factbook, the United States ranks 51st in life expectancy at birth. Working oneself into an early grave does not do much for one’s happiness quotient. This year the United States tied for 14th in “life satisfaction” on an annual quality-of-life study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Last Fourth of July, while I visited sweltering-but-beautiful Washington, I came across an inscription in the Jefferson Memorial in which the third president warned against allowing institutions to calcify: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. . . . [W]ith the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”
At the March Senate hearing, Mr. Wyden asked Mr. Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” Mr. Clapper replied. “Not wittingly.”
Mr. Wyden said on Tuesday that he had sent his question to Mr. Clapper’s office a day before the hearing, and had given his office a chance to correct the misstatement after the hearing, but to no avail.
In an interview on Sunday with NBC News, Mr. Clapper acknowledged that his answer had been problematic, calling it “the least untruthful” answer he could give.
WASHINGTON — For years, intelligence officials have tried to debunk what they called a popular myth about the National Security Agency: that its electronic net routinely sweeps up information about millions of Americans. In speeches and Congressional testimony, they have suggested that the agency’s immense power is focused exclusively on terrorists and other foreign targets, and that it does not invade Americans’ privacy.
But since the disclosures last week showing that the agency does indeed routinely collect data on the phone calls of millions of Americans, Obama administration officials have struggled to explain what now appear to have been misleading past statements. Much of the attention has been focused on testimony by James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to the Senate in March that the N.S.A. was not gathering data on millions of Americans.
So lets summarize the situation so far:
- The US Federal Government has been collecting HUGE amounts of (once assumed) private information on US citizens for years.
- The Constitutionality of this in doubt but could only be tested if it was known that it was happening.
- The laws passed to allow this data gathering make it unlawful to even admit that it is occurring and for Congressional and Judicial oversight.
- Congressmen are in disagreement as to what this law authorizes and if they have been allowed oversight.
- The findings in the Judicial oversight are classified.
- And all that we publicly know about this program comes from Snowden, a liar, Greenwald / Guardian, Liars and Jake ‘the least untruthful” answer I could give.’ Clapper, liar and a bunch of our representatives in the legislature that can’t even get their friggin’ story straight! Not to mention a president who ran against this sort of thing and transparency who is obviously not comfortable with it.
What I find amusing, ironic and concerning all at once is that after the lies forced upon our government officials by laws passed by elected officials and opened up by lies from a once government contractor first published in a article by a lying journalist - WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT DOES WITH OUR PERSONAL INFORMATION and because of those doubts, WE NO LONGER HAVE ANY PRIVACY.
This could not be written any better by a collaboration between Heller, Orwell and Kafka!
The Irrationality of Giving Up This Much Liberty to Fight Terror - Conor Friedersdorf - the Atlantic
But we are told that is is, “For our own security”.
The U.S. should certainly try to prevent terrorist attacks, and there is a lot that government can and has done since 9/11 to improve security in ways that are totally unobjectionable. But it is not rational to give up massive amounts of privacy and liberty to stay marginally safer from a threat that, however scary, endangers the average American far less than his or her daily commute. In 2011*, 32,367 Americans died in traffic fatalities. Terrorism killed 17 U.S. civilians that year. How many Americans feared dying in their vehicles more than dying in a terrorist attack?
It’s a lonely vigil that the activists from No More Names keep outside the Houston Convention Center. They read the names of Americans killed by gunfire in the U.S. since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Heather Ross doesn’t seem fazed by being ignored. What does faze her is how long it can take her to read all the names of those killed in one day. Ross says some days can take 20 to 30 minutes.
“You would just look at the whole list and it kept going and going and going and going. … It just doesn’t end,” she says.
There are some victims who are not quite 1 year old, and others have no name or age at all, Ross says. For them, she reads, “No name, no age.”
“You just know where they died. That’s horrible,” she says. “Can you imagine if you died and no one knew who you were — they have no identity for you? They pull people in to identify you and they can’t because your face is gone and there’s nothing?”
As the young woman, raw with emotion, stands in the wind, thousands of people stream by without noticing her, eager to get inside to the NRA convention.