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      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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Friday Night Cocktails


Mellow out with John Abercrombie and Andy LaVerne:

Also, Rico is offering up the Special:  Martinis and Cuban Cigars  (shhhhhh!!!!)


Check Out the Vanity Plate on This Cambridge Policeman’s SUV

WHY-TEE (photo by Harvard student Seth Bannon, posted on Twitpic)

WHY-TEE (photo by Harvard student Seth Bannon, posted on Twitpic)

Original Tweet

Photo at Twitpic

From Gawker:

At around noon today, the same time Sgt. Dennis O’Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, gave his press conference trying to push back against perceptions that the Cambridge cops aren’t exactly racially enlightened, Harvard student Seth Bannon spotted this cop pull up to a deli on Massachussetts Ave. in what appears to be his personal SUV with a hilarious license plate: WHY-TEE.

We asked Bannon, who first Twittered the picture, to tell us more:

I was eating breakfast at the Gourmet Express Market and Deli (1868 Mass Ave, Cambridge), when around NOON the black SUV pictured backed into that space and parked illegally. The police officer pictured exited the SUV, walked into the Deli, ordered a sub, got back into the SUV, and drove off. I took the picture as the officer was getting back into the SUV.

This Cambridge police officer apparently needs to attend a sensitivity class. He’s also parked illegally.

Health care for everyone costs half as much

The facts of the cost control debate are crystal clear: Countries with universal, accessible health care (note that I didn’t say “health insurance”) have per capita costs that are about half those of the US. ( e.g. Klein, Krugman, Somerby also has links to original data.) Should I repeat that? Our system of health care for people who pay costs twice as much as health care for everybody.

It’s that simple. The data are out there. So why are they invisible? Why doesn’t Obama point that out in his many TV appearances? He talks about cost control, but makes it seem it’s so complicated we need a 1000-page bill for it and over four years to implement. Why isn’t the simple fact a small enough sound bite for the chattering classes?

I think we’re up against more than interests vested in obfuscation. All the vested interests in the world aren’t enough to explain why people are so willing to believe it when the facts are so blazingly simple.

I think we’re up against a fundamental sense, a lizard brain thing, that says you can’t possibly get something unless someone else loses it. Win-win is counterintuitive. Lose-lose is even more counterintuitive. If my money is not being spent on those no-goods, then I must have more left at the end, right? And when that falls flat, when the whole damn economy is suffering because we refuse to have universal health care, then the problem is, obviously!, that too much money is still somehow being spent on no-goods.

The facts are eclipsed by the inability to understand them.

That has a practical application. It means that in this health reform debate we’re having nationally, the point to hammer home is not only that compassion and cost control go together, as Krugman has pointed out. The corollary is even more important. Lack of compassion does not lead to savings. Lack of compassion leads to trillions in wasted money.

The ads we should be running should show fiscal “conservatives” clutching a single dollar bill while setting fire to a sea of burning hundreds.

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Can Honour Killing In Muslim Communities Be Ended Through Islam?

Recent events in the United States and Canada, in which fathers and families treat their daughters in an inexcusable manner, compel me to release this draft of an incompletely distilled paper. I apologize for its length, but the topic is not amenable to a series of posts, and it may offer some understanding as to why these practise exist and what might be done to change them.

Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death in her Mississauga home, Peel police said today.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death as “neck compression.” The 16-year-old was taken to hospital Monday morning after a man called police and said he killed his daughter. She died later that night. Friends told reporters that Aqsa fought with her Muslim family over whether or not to wear the hijab. She often stayed overnight with friends, afraid to go home, they said. Her father, Muhammad Parvez, 57, appeared in court today and will face either a first- or second-degree murder charge. He was denied bail and remanded into custody until a hearing via video link on Jan. 29.

Why did Aqsa Parvez’s father strangle her to death? Why is the honour killing of women, over perceived or actual improprietous conduct, a feature of practice among some Muslim communities? Why do these communities enforce such rigourous and strict regulation of women’s conduct? Given that many of these killings violate both the word and the spirit of the Koran and the prophet, why does the practice persist? In this brief essay, I sketch the physical and social conditions that lead to the emergence of the structures that control women’s conduct within the Muslim communities that practice honour killing. I show that the more stringent control structures are artifacts from pre-Islamic Bedouin communities. Furthermore, I demonstrate that the gender-based honour killings that are features of these structures violate Islamic principles and law. In fact, much of the structure of social control goes against the principle that the practice of Islam is a matter of internal conviction. Continue reading

Cambridge Police May Release Tapes of 911 Call and Police Transmissions During Prof. Henry Louis Gates’ Arrest

From The Boston Herald:

Mounting pressure to get to the bottom of the controversial arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is centering on recorded police tapes that may offer a dose of reality amid all the media and political noise.

Cambridge police brass and lawyers are weighing making the tapes public, which could include the 911 call reporting a break-in at Gates’ home and radio transmissions by the cop who busted him July 16 for disorderly conduct.

“It’s powerful evidence because the (people involved) have not had a chance to reflect and you are getting their state of mind captured on tape,” said former prosecutor and New York City police officer Eugene O’Donnell, who is now a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said last night he has asked City Solicitor Donald Drisdell to review the 911 tape, which has the potential to either bolster or impugn Gates’ stance that he is a blameless victim of racial profiling at his own home.

Further, Sgt. James Crowley noted in his report that he radioed police headquarters to let them know he was with the person who appeared to be the home’s lawful resident, but who was “very uncooperative.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’d love to hear opinions from Myiq2xi and MABlue though. I hate to see this situation continue to escalate, but at the same time I don’t blame the Cambridge police for wanting to defend themselves. It could be helpful to the public discussion if we knew more about what really happened. Would the transmissions have caught the interaction inside Gates’ house though.

I’ll post more information if and when I get it.

UPDATE: From WMCB in comments: quotes from a witness

Witness: Gates ‘Agitated’ When Arrested At Home

Bill Carter, the man who snapped a photograph of Gates being led away in handcuffs, said police officers were calm and that Gates was “slightly out of control” and “agitated” when he was arrested.

“The officers around kind of calmed him down,” Carter said. “I heard him yelling — Mr. Gates yelling. I didn’t hear anything that he was saying so I couldn’t say that he was belligerent.”

UPDATE 2: Statement from President of Harvard University

“I am gratified that the charges against Professor Gates have been dropped and that all parties involved have recognized and reaffirmed his strong reputation and character. I feel privileged to consider Skip not just an esteemed colleague, but a friend. I have been in regular communication with him since Thursday and I was profoundly saddened to hear him describe what he experienced. I continue to be deeply troubled by the incident.

Legacies of racial injustice remain an unfortunate and painful part of the American experience, and inform our views, our actions, and their consequences. As President Obama has remarked, ours is an imperfect union, and while perfect justice may always elude us, we can and must do better.”

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Friday Morning at The Confluence

Is it just me or does it seem like the Professor and the Policeman story is getting more airplay than the Michael Jackson story did? Obama and Axelrod must be giggling and snickering right now. Talk about astroturf! The topic of the weekend was supposed to be health care, but just one planted question and now health care is on the back burner. It appears the vote that was so important to the President, is now off, and it’s no biggie.

“As long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable,” Obama told a crowd gathered in a high school gym for a town-hall styled meeting here today. “But I don’t want to delay just because of politics.”

Um…isn’t politics precisely the reason for the delay?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says there will be a vote in September. But will it happen? The New York Times reports that the White House has been negotiating madly with blue dog Dems to keep the bill alive.

The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, led a hastily called three-hour negotiating session at the Capitol with conservative Blue Dog Democrats, the group of fiscal hawks who have stalled action on the health care bill in the House.

But the wrangling over health care is pushing back other items on Obama’s agenda.

While Congress can resume its efforts in the fall, other major items on the president’s agenda, like climate change and rewriting financial regulation, have also been postponed, and are likely to be further delayed until the health care debate is resolved.


Democratic leaders fended off suggestions that health care legislation could lose momentum if there is no action until the fall. But the delay will give Republican opponents ample time to highlight what they say are the bill’s flaws, and will subject moderate lawmakers, many of whom are on the fence, to a barrage of questions, including whether the nation can afford the $1 trillion, 10-year price tag.

Oh well…who cares if thousands of Americans die for lack of health care? Now we have another media circus to distract us–the Prof. Skip Gates vs. Sgt. James Crowley road show. Both the cop and the prof. are milking this thing for all it’s worth–talking about the incident on every available media outlet. In a few months will these two guys be starring on a reality TV show?

I don’t mean to make light of a very serious issue–racial profiling–but I really thought this story morphed into an embarrassing spectacle today. Here are just two of the dueling media appearances made by Crowley and Gates.

Radio interview on WEEI, Boston Sports Radio with Sgt. James Crowley (both hosts are right-wingers)

Crowley sounds very reasonable, but I noted two interesting things. When talking about what happened inside the home, Crowley speaks in the passive voice. The rest of the description is in the active voice. That strikes me as odd. Crowley also says he told Gates to “calm down” and “lower his voice.” Saying “calm down” is almost never useful, and I wonder why such an experienced policeman wouldn’t know that.

There is an interesting blog post on Dissenting Justice about the notion that Crowley’s attempt to save Reggie Lewis’ life proves he harbors no racial bias at all.

CNN interview with Henry Louis Gates:

To me Gates comes off as more than a little over the top–calling Crowley a “rogue” police officer and mind-reading–claiming to know for sure that Crowley had a profile in his mind when he arrived at Gates’ house and then tried to fit Gates into that profile. I’d like to get MABlue’s take on this interview.

Later in the day Crowley was refusing to talk to the media. Was he told by his superiors to clam up?

NPR’s Talk of the Nation covered this story today. I found the show very interesting. You can listen to the broadcast here.

A few more stories on the prof.-cop story:

Cop who arrested black scholar is profiling expert

Bias, Racism, Being a Jerk, and Abuse of Power

Sergeant Who Arrested Professor Defends Actions

Obama stokes racial passions, police anger

GOP siezes on Obama cops remark

Other Stories of Interest (to me anyway)

Nation’s ENT Surgeons Respond to President Obama’s Press Briefing Remarks on Tonsillectomy Procedures

White House Response to CREW Suit for Health Care Execs Visitor Records Insufficient

New Yorker says he would have been suicide bomber

Michael Vick Could Be Reinstated by NFL

New Scientist: Enigma of the 23-year-old baby (Highly Recommended!)

Surgery ends the tale of the five-legged dog

When Legislators Attack: 10 Political Brawls Caught on Tape

Why does the soda taste different in a bottle than a can?

Please feel free to post links to stories you found interesting and/or important–or funny, we could use funny! It’s Friday, after all. TGIF!!

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Overnight Open Thread: Professor vs. Policeman

The latest on the Prof. vs. Cop story:

The Police Side
The Boston Globe:

The Cambridge police commissioner, breaking his public silence yesterday amid an increasingly vitriolic debate, strongly defended the actions of the sergeant who arrested Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. At the same time, Commissioner Robert C. Haas announced that an independent panel will review the confrontation between the black professor and the white officer, an incident President Obama criticized for a second straight day.

Haas described Sergeant James M. Crowley as a “stellar member’’ of the department who had “tried to deescalate the situation’’ before he arrested Gates last week on the porch of Gates’s Cambridge house. Haas emphatically said that Gates’s arrest was not racially tinged.

“He [Crowley] tried to move away from the situation, and, when he wasn’t successful, he used arrest as a last resort,’’ Haas said at a packed news conference at police headquarters. “I do not believe his actions were in any way racially motivated.’’

Nonetheless, Haas said he will appoint a panel of law enforcement experts in the next few days to analyze how his department handled the incident and to receive comments from the community.

“I have long held the view that every interaction has the potential to teach us lessons in how we conduct ourselves both professionally and personally,’’ he said. “I certainly feel that way now.’’


CBS News: Responses from Cambridge police commissioner and Sgt. James Crowley

The Professor’s Side

Prof. Henry Louis Gates on the Gayle King Radio Show on the XM Oprah Channel (h/t Huffington Post)

Transcript from Huffpo

GAYLE KING: …did you happen to be watching the news conference when he said that?

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: …I was having dinner with a friend on the upper east side in a little private Italian restaurant and all of a sudden I thought my blackberry was going to explode. And the first call…it was from Angela…Angela DeLeon…[saying] Barack Obama just mentioned you in his news conference…

I said oh my goodness what did he say… ‘I have to wait for the facts…?’…and he said no he said ‘the Cambridge Police were stupid and that you were friends’…I went..my god. And then the emails…it was like a slot machine. I got 500 emails last night.

GAYLE KING: I was surprised by his choice of words..that he said the Cambridge Police acted ‘stupidly.’ I agree with him, but I was surprised that the President of the United States would use that particular phrase.

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: I think that the circumstances are so egregious…that…it was the adjective that…logically popped into his head. I haven’t listened to a lot of the commentary but the people who want to protect the police and who are afraid of criminals like I’m afraid of criminals…are looking for something that I could have done to justify Sergeant Crowley’s actions. There’s nothing that I could have done to justify Sergeant Crowley’s action.


Some successful blacks find Gates episode all too familiar

A financial adviser at a leading wealth-management firm, Dan Rivers often identifies himself proudly but simply: “I’m a Dartmouth guy.’’ But thinking about the times he was scrutinized by security coming in and out of corporate events, about the less-than-welcoming glances he has received at a venerable men’s clothier, Rivers said he is sometimes seen by others in an entirely different way: as a black guy.

Likewise, Colette A.M. Phillips, chief executive of a Boston marketing firm, recalled the fellow business traveler in the American Airlines Admirals Club at Logan International Airport who presumed she was the help and asked for coffee.

There are legions of others who can share similar stories, affluent, accomplished, and academically distinguished African-Americans in Greater Boston who have suffered indignities that they doubt would befall their similarly successful white peers. It demonstrates, they said, that racism cannot be escaped by climbing the ladder.

Sometimes the slights are stark, other times subtle, and occasionally they fall into a gray area that leaves them wondering whether they are real or perceived. Rarely do they make local headlines, much less global news, or end with them in handcuffs on the doorstep of their homes, as was the case with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the renowned Harvard scholar, in Cambridge last week.

Use this thread to continue discussing the Gates-Crowley battle or talk about other topics.

UPDATE: Here’s a bonus for any late-night readers/commenters. It’s from a right-wing source, but it’s funny, so shoot me.

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