Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore’

The passing scene – October 9, 2015

October 9, 2015

Welcome to a New Planet: Climate Change, “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth by Michael T. Klare for TomDispatch.

How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens America’s Recent Manufacturing Resurgence by Alana Semuels for The Atlantic.

Harvard’s prestigious debate team loses to New York prison inmates by Laura Gambino for The Guardian.

10 Stories About Donald Trump You Won’t Believe Are True by Luke McKinney for  Donald Trump is notable not as a business success, but as a promoter with the ability to distract attention from failure.

Can Community Land Trusts Solve Baltimore’s Homelessness Problem? by Michelle Chen for The Nation.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

The Second Amendment’s Fake History by Robert Parry for Consortium News.  (Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack.)

The Afghan hospital massacre: Snowden makes a brilliant suggestion by Joseph Cannon for Cannonfire.  Why does the United States not release the gunner’s video and audio?

Ask Well: Canned vs. Fresh Fish by Karen Weintraub for the New York Times.  Canned fish is probably better.  (Hat tip to Jack)

Shell Game: There Is No Such Thing as California ‘Native’ Oysters, a book excerpt by Summer Brennan in Scientific American.   The true story behind Jack London and the oyster wars.  (Hat tip to Jack)

Police killings and no-account black people

May 8, 2015

Conservatives such as David Brooks claim that the real problem of poor black people in cities such as Baltimore is not poverty, unemployment or police abuse, but bad moral character.

Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray

It is too bad that Freddie Gray died in custody of Baltimore police, but he would have been a loser no matter what, Brooks argued in a recent New York Times column.

Now it is true that there are Americans who are so completely demoralized that they couldn’t thrive even in a high-wage, full-employment economy.  I don’t know how many such people there are.  The way to find out is to create a high-wage, full-employment economy and see what happens.

My concern is with the obstacles faced by poor people who are doing everything humanly possible to get out of poverty.

I’m thinking of people who work full-time at minimum wage, some at multiple jobs, and still are in poverty.  I’m thinking of working people who don’t get paid sick days, can’t afford child care and have no transportation to work.

Not all are black and not all are in big cities, although black people in poor city neighborhoods are targets of abuse by virtue of living where they do.


Black-on-black police brutality

May 8, 2015

Six Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death

Source: KTLA | CNN Wire

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore is black.  Anthony W. Botts, Baltimore’s police commissioner is black.  Three of the six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray are black, including Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van in which Gray suffered his fatal injuries.

How, then, is it possible to say that Freddie Gray’s death was a result of racism?

I think the issue is not whether we white people have more malice in our hearts than black people.  I think the issue is that whenever there is a group of people that it is safe to abuse, that group of people is going to be abused—by somebody.

Recall the Stanford prison experiment.  Experimental psychologists assigned a group of randomly-selected students to role-play prison guards and prison inmates.  Within a few days, the prison guard role-players had become so abusive that the experiment had to be shut down.  It is a dramatic example of the results of power without accountability.

Until the recent protests, this has been the situation in regard to police and poor black people who live in slum neighborhoods.  Police (of whatever race) could get away with doing things to such people that you might not get away with doing to people who were middle class or white or both.

Another factor is that many local governments have started to use fines for petty crimes as a source of revenue.  I don’t say this is the case in Baltimore, but it most certainly is true in many places, including  poor communities in St. Louis County such as Ferguson.


Baltimore begins 25,000 water shutoffs

April 13, 2015

The City of Baltimore is in the process of cutting off water to some 25,000 residents with unpaid water bills of $250 or more.

They will be unable to bathe their children, wash their hands or flush their toilers.  Evidently the city government has forgotten the reason to have a public water supply in the first place, which is to prevent the spread of disease.

PRTHUMB_WaterAccessStreet1City officials like Department of Public Works director Rudy Chow claim that residents using water without paying are to blame for the $40 million in overdue water bills.

In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million.

One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself.

via ThinkProgress.

The City of Detroit started similar water shutoffs, but backed down after an international outcry.

People are obligated to pay their bills if they are able.  But there should be better ways to collect than depriving people of a necessity of life or, for that matter, creating a public health hazard.


Baltimore collects $1 million in unpaid water bills by Yvonne Wenger for the Baltimore Sun.

Don’t shut off our drinking water, a Baltimore Sun editorial.

This City Could Become the Next Detroit by Carl Gibson for ThinkProgress.  (Hat tip to Avedon’s Sideshow)

The Inequality of Water by Sam Ross-Brown for The American Prospect.

What happened to the labor movement?

May 1, 2014

Hat tip to Bill Harvey.


Baltimore: casualty of a failed drug war

August 28, 2012

Watch this documentary if you want to see an example of the failure and futility of the war on drugs.

The rise of poverty, crime and drug-dealing in Baltimore is related to the decline of high-wage manufacturing industry, such as the big U.S. Steel plant at Sparrows Point.   Black people had a narrow window of opportunity between the time that good-paying union jobs in industry were open to them, and the time that U.S. manufacturing industry started to decline.  A high-wage, full-employment economy is the best thing that could happen for poor people in cities such as Baltimore.

The talk that the so-called war on drugs is actually a war on black people may seem exaggerated, but statistics indicate that there is little difference in rates of drug abuse or use of illegal drugs among white and black Americans, and yet blacks are incarcerated for drug crimes 10 times as frequently as whites.  I think this probably is more a result of indifference to the plight of poor black people in urban slums rather than a deliberate policy.

I see little immediate hope of change.  President Obama is committed to the war on drugs on many fronts, from waging low-level war in Colombia to overriding California’s medical marijuana laws, and I don’t see Gov. Romney changing anything if elected.  The most important national figures criticizing the war on drugs are ex-Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, the Libertarian Party candidate for President, and Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican gadfly.

Click on Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco Use Broken Down By Race, Ethnicity for statistics from the U.S. government’s latest National Study on Drug Use and Health.

Click on Race, Drugs and Law Enforcement for a report on U.S. drug enforcement by Human Rights Watch.