Handcuffs, Leg Shackles and Tasers: The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools

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“In many parts of the country, teachers are viewed as beyond reproach, much like doctors, police officers, or clergy … and, therefore, are rarely challenged about their classroom conduct. In some cases, this means that actions that would be considered criminal if committed by a parent remain unchallenged by law enforcement if they occur in a school setting.”—Senator Tom Harkin, “Dangerous Use of Seclusion and Restraints in Schools Remains Widespread …continue…

The Dire State of Our Nation

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“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” ― Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas No matter what the politicians say about how great America is …continue…

A Leading Man, John Cho, and Selfie

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GQ Qi (Jack Yang) is a talented and handsome actor who can’t seem to get a break. That is until he lands a coveted role on a television sitcom. The only problem—the role is for a character named Kung Pao, a Chinese foreign exchange student. Not only is his name offensive but also the lines and mannerisms assigned to him. Fed up with the blatant stereotyping, GQ foils a plan to expose the executive producer of the show, Mitch Lebowitz (Bruno Oliver). He enlists the help of a production assistant, Kelvin Kim (Raymond Lee), but once again GQ can’t catch a break because the role is so coveted that Kim turns against GQ for an opportunity to replace him as the star.

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From Neighborhood Cops to Robocops: The Changing Face of American Police

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“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” ― Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means If 2014 was the year of militarized police, armored tanks, and stop-and-frisk searches, 2015 may well be the year of technologized police, surveillance blimps and scan-and-frisk searches. Just as we witnessed neighborhood cops being transformed into soldier cops, we’re about to see them shapeshift once again, this time into robocops, complete …continue…

A Little Rant About News Broadcasting

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Here in Israel we do not get to see American commercials on cable TV. On the American news networks, what we get instead of the commercials are fillers. These are naturally as superficial as the actual broadcasts. Fox, for example, gives us “extras,” very often focusing on health, though, not surprisingly, not a word is said about how the American food industry is destroying it. MSNBC, on the other hand, gives us its Lean Forward promos, where its anchor people and other superstars make “statements,” that is, deliver something in the way of personal credos. These are meant to be trenchant but are in fact ludicrous.

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‘You’re Either a Cop or Little People’: The American Police State in 2014

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“You’re either a cop or little people.”—Police captain Harry Bryant in Blade Runner For those of us who have managed to survive 2014 with our lives intact and our freedoms hanging by a thread, it has been a year of crackdowns, clampdowns, shutdowns, showdowns, shootdowns, standdowns, knockdowns, putdowns, breakdowns, lockdowns, takedowns, slowdowns, meltdowns, and never-ending letdowns. We’ve been held up, stripped down, faked out, photographed, frisked, fracked, hacked, tracked, cracked, …continue…

The Game Is Rigged: Why Americans Keep Losing to the Police State

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“The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens.”—Leo Tolstoy My 7-year-old granddaughter has suddenly developed a keen interest in card games: Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, Blackjack, and War. We’ve fallen into a set pattern now: every time we play, she deals the cards, and I pretend not to see her stacking the deck in her …continue…

America’s Children: The Trials of Growing Up in a Police State

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“It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns. There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any. …continue…

We Are the Enemy: Is This the Lesson of Ferguson?

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If you dress police officers up as soldiers and you put them in military vehicles and you give them military weapons, they adopt a warrior mentality. We fight wars against enemies, and the enemies are the people who live in our cities—particularly in communities of color.—Thomas Nolan, criminology professor and former police officer Should police officer Darren Wilson be held accountable for the shooting death of unarmed citizen Michael Brown …continue…

Are ‘We the People’ Useful Idiots in the Digital Age?

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Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was “useful idiots” and it applied to a good many people who should have known better. I now propose a new, analogous term more appropriate for the age in which we live: …continue…