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  US police killings undercounted by half study

Submitter: [anonymous]
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2017-10-21 04:02:22
Views: 67
Score: (not yet rated)
 
Over half of all police killings in 2015 were wrongly classified as not having been the result of interactions with officers, a new Harvard study based on Guardian data has found.

The finding is just the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police.

“Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable,” said lead researcher Justin Feldman. “To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.”

Young black men again faced highest rate of US police killings in 2016
The Counted project points to continuing racial disparities, with black males aged 15-34 nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed
Read more
Feldman used data from the Guardian’s 2015 investigation into police killings, The Counted, and compared it with data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). That dataset, which is kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was found to have misclassified 55.2% of all police killings, with the errors occurring disproportionately in low-income jurisdictions.

“As with any public health outcome or exposure, the only way to understand the magnitude of the problem, and whether it is getting better or worse, requires that data be uniformly, validly, and reliably obtained throughout the US,” said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the study. “Our results show our country is falling short of accurately monitoring deaths due to law enforcement and work is needed to remedy this problem.”

     
  Florida Resident Faces False Drug Charges

Submitter: Limitless
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2017-02-16 15:22:36
Views: 223
Score: (not yet rated)
 
Florida Resident Facing False Drug Charges & Possible Loss of Right to Bear Arms After Getting Mistakenly Arrested When Assault Victim.

     
  Drug Decriminalization in Portugal CATO Institute

Submitter: [anonymous]
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2016-07-16 06:10:31
Last Update: 2016-07-16 06:11:10
Views: 321
Score: 5.00 / 5.00 (Based on 1 votes.)
 
On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were “decriminalized,” not “legalized.” Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.

While other states in the European Union have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization — whereby substances perceived to be less serious (such as cannabis) rarely lead to criminal prosecution — Portugal remains the only EU member state with a law explicitly declaring drugs to be “decriminalized.” Because more than seven years have now elapsed since enactment of Portugal’s decriminalization system, there are ample data enabling its effects to be assessed.

     
  The Truth About M855 5.56 NATO Ammunition

Submitter: [anonymous]
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2015-09-15 11:18:18
Views: 526
Score: (not yet rated)
 
The Truth About M855 5.56 NATO Ammunition
By Nick Leghorn on March 3, 2015

The White House has said recently that banning “armor piercing” ammunition like the wildly popular M855 round is “common sense” and would make our police officers safer, which is a bold claim. Given the quality of journalism on display among the major networks these days, its no surprise that the facts of the matter have been muddled and obfuscated to the point where the details being presented bear little to no resemblance to the actual facts. Some hyperbole is expected, but in an age when the talking heads on TV start claiming that common rifles can shoot down airplanes and blow up railroads you know that fact checking isn’t high on the priority list. I wanted to take a minute and discuss the truth about the M855 round, what it is, what it does, and why it is being targeted.

When the M-16 was first fielded by the U.S. military, the ammunition that accompanied it was designated the M193 cartridge — a standard “ball” 5.56 round. The 55 grain projectile was of the same construction that had been used in similar projectiles for close to a century, namely a solid lead core surrounded by a copper jacket.

The original specifications for the M-16 rifle were that it needed to penetrate the steel helmet of an enemy soldier at a given distance, and while the lighter overall weight of the projectile reduced the penetration power of the projectile at long distance the designers of the ammunition compensated with increased velocity. Increased velocity meant increased muzzle energy, and provided the power to meet the specifications. That faster yet lighter bullet meant that the cartridges were lighter, and therefore the soldier on the field could carry more ammunition into battle than ever before. Even with the lighter projectile, that “armor piercing” capability was still maintained throughout the design process.

After the Vietnam war, there were some deficiencies that needed to be addressed. Soldiers in the field reported issues with the projectile when it penetrated glass or other intermediate barriers, and wanted a heavier projectile to aid in energy transfer to targets downrange (putting down enemy soldiers more efficiently). While the military did adopt a 77 grain lead projectile for long range shooting, they developed the M855 projectile specifically for hitting targets behind light barriers (like glass and tin and heavy clothing).

m855

The internal construction of an M855 round differs from the standard “ball” M193 cartridge in one very important way: there’s a steel core at the tip of the projectile. The solid steel tip added much needed stability to the projectile when traveling through barriers since there was no longer any soft lead to deform upon impact, and increased the stability and accuracy of the round when traveling over long distances due to the increased mass of the projectile.

There were still some major issues, though. As the barrel length of commonly used firearms continued to decrease, the velocity of the round when it exited the barrel decreased as well. The 5.56 NATO cartridge is highly dependent on velocity to generate the energy it transfers to targets, and lower velocity means a much lower muzzle energy. Some of the most recent studies indicate that with a common 16″ barrel, M855 ammunition has severely degraded performance past 150 yards and is only effective to about 500 meters (versus the 600 meters at which it was designed to penetrate a steel helmet with a standard M-16).

Another issue was the lack of expansion. The lead core in normal “ball” ammunition expands upon impact, which increases the diameter of the projectile and aids in transferring energy from the moving projectile to the target. The more energy is transferred, the greater the wound in the target and the more likely it is to stop that target. Using a steel tip meant that the bullets no longer deformed, and therefore the energy transferred to the target was less than with “ball” 5.56. In other words, the M855 ammunition is actually considered to be less effective against living targets than “ball” 55 grain 5.56 ammo. Or, put another way, standard lead ammunition is considered more deadly than M855.

Wile the Army has moved on to an improved version of the M855 projectile, the cartridge has become popular with long range shooters and hunters. Especially for those hunting hogs in the thick brush of the American south, the M855 cartridge has proven to be capable of accurately and effectively hitting a target even after passing through a couple layers of leaves and underbrush. Its also popular among helicopter hog depredation expeditions for the same reason: it punches through the trees and hits the target. And since the cartridge was developed and produced for the military, a massive quantity of the ammunition is produced every year which leads to low prices for recreational shooters looking for a cheap way to feed their firearms. In short, what was once a “military” round has transitioned very well to civilian life.

In recent days, the projectile has come under increased scrutiny as the ATF prepares to ban it based on the existing prohibition on “Armor Piercing” ammunition. As for what exactly constitutes “armor piercing” ammunition, there is a very specific legal definition that is being used. The following is directly from 18 U.S. Code § 921:

(17)
(A) The term “ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellent powder designed for use in any firearm.
(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—
(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.
(C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.

What is important to note is that the defining feature of “armor piercing” ammunition is not the actual function of the projectile, but instead the construction. It is possible to construct a cartridge using an “armor piercing” projectile that can’t even pierce skin, but if the construction meets the above criteria then it is illegal.

SIG_SAUER_SIGTac_SB15_Pistol_Stabilizing_Brace_on_SIG_MCX_Tactical_Piston_AR_Carbine_SBR_Nick_Leghorn_The_Truth_About_Guns_TTAG_at_SIG_SAUER_Headquarters_New_Media_Writers_Event_2014_David_Crane_DefenseReview.com_DR_1

What has made this change in regulation possible is the prevalence of the AR-15 pistol. Brought to astounding levels of popularity in recent years by the pistol stabilizing brace, the AR-15 pistol is legally a handgun as far as the U.S. government is concerned, and therefore 5.56 ammunition has become by default “projectile […] which may be used in a handgun.” As such, 5.56 NATO ammunition is now subject to regulation under 18 U.S. Code § 921(17)(B).

Technically, M855 ammunition fails to meet the criteria for an “armor piercing” projectile. The requirement of the law is that the projectile be comprised entirely of steel (with trace elements allowed) in order to be classified as “armor piercing,” but as you can see nearly 80% of the mass of the M855 projectile is comprised of standard lead — not steel. However, due to the imprecise wording of the statute it is possible for the ATF and the Attorney General to interpret the law in such a way that M855 meets the required criteria.

This kind of move has been made before. The government classified cheap and commonly available steel core 7.62×39 ammunition as “armor piercing” and banned it from the United States in 1992, as well as 7N6 5.45×39 ammunition only last year. The reasons were the same: with the increase in pistol versions of the AK-47 and AK-74 rifle being produced, the ammunition was now technically a handgun caliber and the broad interpretation of the statute allowed them to take action against those specific projectiles.



The current claim by the White House that M855 ammunition is especially and specifically dangerous due to its “armor piercing” capabilities is, in a word, laughable. The fact is that standard 5.56 ammunition — “ball” ammunition with a traditional lead core — can pierce a “bullet proof” vest just as easily as M855, a fact we have conclusively proven through our own testing. So can commonly available .308 Winchester ammunition, one of the most popular “hunting” cartridges in the world. So can .30-06 Springfield, the “traditional” hunting cartridge in the United States. In fact, almost every full-size and even every intermediate rifle caliber is perfectly capable of piercing the bullet proof vest worn by police officers. The idea that removing this one single projectile from circulation will reduce the lethality of firearms in the United States is quite literally insane.

Let’s look at this from another perspective. According to commonly accepted research, fewer than 2% of crimes are committed with “assault weapons,” including the AR-15 rifle (and pistol variants) that accept this caliber. Note that the most commonly available 5.56 ammunition is 55 grain “ball” ammo and not M855, so even if every single one of those crimes was committed with an AR-15 (which they were not) the probability of M855 ammunition being used in the gun is even smaller than 2%. Even if M855 ammunition was banned, standard “ball” M193 ammunition fails to meet the definition of an “armor piercing” round and therefore is exempt from any possible ban. M193 is plentiful, and available at almost every Wal-Mart in America. Removing M855 ammunition would require a vast amount of effort on the part of the government to implement the ban, impact less than 2% of crimes, and do exactly nothing to remove ammunition that is capable of piercing a “bullet proof” vest from the market. In short, you might as well call whoever is championing this ban “Sisyphus.”

The truth is that, despite the composition of the projectile, M855 ammunition is no greater a threat than any other standard “ball” projectile — traditional hunting rounds included. The 5.56 cartridge has been implicated in far fewer than 2% of crimes in the United States (and M855 in fewer still), and even if it were removed from circulation the remaining millions upon millions of 100% legal projectiles would be able to perform the same function nearly as well. In addition, the projectile has found a legitimate sporting purpose among hunters and sportsmen that the Attorney General has refused to acknowledge. However, due to the lack of any movement on any other front on the issue of gun control, it appears that M855 ammunition has become an unfortunate casualty of a political agenda hell-bent on doing as much damage to American gun owners as possible before leaving office.

     
  Terms and Conditions May Apply

Submitter: [anonymous]
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2015-05-16 13:35:02
Last Update: 2015-05-16 14:24:17
Views: 502
Score: (not yet rated)
 
2015

     
  The Hacker Wars - Anonymous Documentary 2015

Submitter: [anonymous]
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2015-05-16 08:54:32
Last Update: 2015-06-16 08:04:06
Views: 486
Score: (not yet rated)
 
Published on Apr 22, 2015
Ripped from international headlines, The Hacker Wars takes you to the front lines of the high-stakes battle over the fate of the Internet, freedom and privacy. The Hacker Wars tells the tales of the anarchic troll provocateur Andrew “weev” Aurenheimer, prodigy hacker hero Jeremy Hammond, and incendiary watchdog journalist Barrett Brown — three larger than life characters whose separate quests to expose the secrets of empire hurled them into a fateful collision course with shadowy corporations, the FBI, and ultimate betrayal by one of their own.

Featuring interviews with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, The Hacker Wars traces the steps that led from the Internet’s murkiest corners to the heavy shadow of censorship and a century’s worth of prison time.

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Vivien Lesnik Weisman melds her distinctively subversively bent style with the real life stories of the cyberpunk vanguards who blur the line between hacking and activism. Locked in a murky conflict against world governments, these so-called hacktivists are waging a life-or-death struggle for the freedom of public information and the defense of privacy under siege.

     
  US Police Have Killed 5,000+ Civilians Since 9/11

Submitter: [anonymous]
Category: News / Articles - Government / Politics
Submission Date: 2014-08-17 16:40:52
Last Update: 2014-08-17 16:42:17
Views: 714
Score: 5.00 / 5.00 (Based on 1 votes.)
 
US Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11
Statistically speaking, Americans should be more fearful of the local cops than “terrorists.”
By Katie Rucke @katierucke | November 6, 2013

Though Americans commonly believe law enforcements role in society is to protect them and ensure peace and stability within the community, the sad reality is that police departments are often more focused on enforcing laws, making arrests and issuing citations. As a result of this as well as an increase in militarized policing techniques, Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist, estimates a Washington’s Blog report based on official statistical data.

Though the U.S. government does not have a database collecting information about the total number of police involved shootings each year, it’s estimated that between 500 and 1,000 Americans are killed by police officers each year. Since 9/11, about 5,000 Americans have been killed by U.S. police officers, which is almost equivalent to the number of U.S. soldiers who have been killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

Because individual police departments are not required to submit information regarding the use of deadly force by its officers, some bloggers have taken it upon themselves to aggregate that data. Wikipedia also has a list of “justifiable homicides” in the U.S., which was created by documenting publicized deaths.

Mike Prysner, one of the local directors of the Los Angeles chapter for ANSWER — an advocacy group that asks the public to Act Now to Stop War and End Racism — told Mint Press News earlier this year that the “epidemic” of police harassment and violence is a nationwide issue.

He said groups like ANSWER are trying to hold officers accountable for abuse of power. “[Police brutality] has been an issue for a very long time,” Prysner said, explaining that in May, 13 people were killed in Southern California by police.

As Mint Press News previously reported, each year there are thousands of claims of police misconduct. According to the CATO Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, in 2010 there were 4,861 unique reports of police misconduct involving 6,613 sworn officers and 6,826 alleged victims.

Most of those allegations of police brutality involved officers who punched or hit victims with batons, but about one-quarter of the reported cases involved firearms or stun guns.

Racist policing
A big element in the police killings, Prysner says, is racism. “A big majority of those killed are Latinos and Black people,” while the police officers are mostly White, he said. “It’s a badge of honor to shoot gang members so [the police] go out and shoot people who look like gang members,” Prysner argued, giving the example of 34-year-old Rigoberto Arceo, who was killed by police on May 11.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, Arceo, who was a biomedical technician at St. Francis Medical Center, was shot and killed after getting out of his sister’s van. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says Arceo “advanced on the deputy and attempted to take the deputy’s gun.” However, Arceo’s sister and 53-year-old Armando Garcia — who was barbecuing in his yard when the incident happened — say that Arceo had his hands above his head the entire time.

Prysner is not alone in his assertion that race is a major factor in officer-related violence. This past May, a study from the the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an anti-racist activist organization, found that police officers, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes killed at least 313 Black people in 2012 — meaning one Black person was killed in the U.S. by law enforcement roughly every 28 hours.

Prysner said the relationship between police departments and community members needs to change and that when police shoot an unarmed person with their arms in the air over their head, the officer should be punished.

Culture of misconduct
“You cannot have a police force that is investigating and punishing itself,” Prysner said, adding that taxpayer money should be invested into the community instead of given to police to buy more guns, assault rifles and body armor.

Dissatisfied with police departments’ internal review policies, some citizens have formed volunteer police watch groups to prevent the so-called “Blue Code of Silence” effect and encourage police officers to speak out against misconduct occurring within their department.

As Mint Press News previously reported, a report released earlier this year found that of the 439 cases of police misconduct that then had been brought before the Minneapolis’s year-old misconduct review board, not one of the police officers involved has been disciplined.

Although the city of Minneapolis spent $14 million in payouts for alleged police misconduct between 2006 and 2012, despite the fact that the Minneapolis Police Department often concluded that the officers involved in those cases did nothing wrong.

Other departments have begun banning equipment such as Tasers, but those decisions were likely more about protecting the individual departments from lawsuits than ensuring that officers are not equipped with weapons that cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries when used.

To ensure officers are properly educated on how to use their weapons and are aware of police ethics, conflict resolution and varying cultures within a community, police departments have historically held training programs for all officers. But due to tighter budgets and a shift in priorities, many departments have not provided the proper continuing education training programs for their officers.

Charles Ramsey, president of both the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum, called that a big mistake, explaining that it is essential officers are trained and prepared for high-stress situations:

“Not everybody is going to be able to make those kinds of good decisions under pressure, but I do think that the more reality-based training that we provide, the more we put people in stressful situations to make them respond and make them react.”



GI Joe replaces Carl Winslow
In order to help local police officers protect themselves while fighting the largely unsuccessful War on Drugs, the federal government passed legislation in 1994 allowing the Pentagon to donate surplus military equipment from the Cold War to local police departments. Meaning that “weaponry designed for use on a foreign battlefield has been handed over for use on American streets … against American citizens.”

So while the U.S. military fights the War on Terror abroad, local police departments are fighting another war at home with some of the same equipment as U.S. troops, and protocol that largely favors officers in such tactics as no-knock raids.

Radley Balko, author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal in August:

“Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier.

“Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

As Mint Press News previously reported, statistics from an FBI report released in September reveal that a person is arrested on marijuana-related charges in the U.S. every 48 seconds, on average — most were for simple possession charges.

According to the FBI’s report, there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for the violent crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — 658,231 compared with 521,196 arrests.

While groups that advocate against police brutality recognize and believe that law enforcement officials should be protected while on duty, many say that local police officers do not need to wear body armor, Kevlar helmets and tactical equipment vests — all while carrying assault weapons.

“We want the police to keep up with the latest technology. That’s critical,” American Civil Liberties Union senior counsel Kara Dansky said. “But policing should be about protection, not combat.”

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. In 2012, 120 officers were killed in the line of duty. The deadliest day in law enforcement history was reportedly Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers were killed.

Despite far fewer officers dying in the line of duty compared with American citizens, police departments are not only increasing their use of protective and highly volatile gear, but are increasingly setting aside a portion of their budget to invest in new technology such as drones, night vision goggles, remote robots, surveillance cameras, license plate readers and armored vehicles that amount to unarmed tanks.

Though some officers are on board with the increased militarization and attend conferences such as the annual Urban Shield event, others have expressed concern with the direction the profession is heading.

For example, former Arizona police officer Jon W. McBride said police concerns about being “outgunned” were likely a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” He added that “if not expressly prohibited, police managers will continually push the arms race,” because “their professional literature is predominately [sic] based on the acquiring and use of newer weapons and more aggressive techniques to physically overwhelm the public. In many cases, however, this is the opposite of smart policing.”

“Coupled with the paramilitary design of the police bureaucracy itself, the police give in to what is already a serious problem in the ranks: the belief that the increasing use of power against a citizen is always justified no matter the violation. The police don’t understand that in many instances they are the cause of the escalation and bear more responsibility during an adverse outcome.

“The suspects I encountered as a former police officer and federal agent in nearly all cases granted permission for me to search their property when asked, often despite unconcealed contraband. Now, instead of making a simple request of a violator, many in law enforcement seem to take a more difficult and confrontational path, fearing personal risk. In many circumstances they inflame the citizens they are engaging, thereby needlessly putting themselves in real and increased jeopardy.”

Another former police officer who wished to remain anonymous agreed with McBride and told Balko,

“American policing really needs to return to a more traditional role of cops keeping the peace; getting out of police cars, talking to people, and not being prone to overreaction with the use of firearms, tasers, or pepper spray. … Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in more than my share tussles and certainly appreciate the dangers of police work, but as Joseph Wambaugh famously said, the real danger is psychological, not physical.”