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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Obstructing Justice: Cult Trophy Hunting and Ferguson

Let's take a look at some of the metaphorical implications of the Michael Brown execution and examine the likelihood of co-incidence to the possibility that a new cult may have systematically infiltrated the Missouri government and local political offices.

Here we'll examine whether or not the actions that have yet to be cross-examined in any court of law constitute clues to the migration and popularization of a new Christian Death cult that has foreign tentacles.

Let's examine the foreign version of this cult. Carrie Gracie of the BBC issued a news story called The Chinese Cult That kills 'Demons'. That story describes (bolded text my emphasis) -

"The cult in question is called the Church of the Almighty God and claims to have millions of members.
It was an ordinary evening in a small town McDonald's in east China until a family of six arrived trying to recruit new members to their Christian cult.
They moved between the tables asking for phone numbers and when one diner refused they beat her to death, screaming at other diners to keep away or they would face the same fate.
The savage murder was filmed on closed circuit TV and on mobile phones.
It shocked China. Who were these people prepared to kill over a telephone number?
Interviewed in prison later, one of the murderers, Zhang Lidong, showed no remorse and no fear.
He said: "I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her.""
-and-
"The public face of the Church of the Almighty God is a website full of uplifting hymns and homilies. But its core belief is that God has returned to earth as a Chinese woman to wreak the apocalypse.
The only person who claims direct contact with this god is a former physics teacher, Zhao Weishan, who founded the cult 25 years ago and has since fled to the United States.
No one knows exactly where he is, but much of the website's message of outright hostility to the Chinese government is delivered in English as well as Chinese. "
-and-
"In an east China cemetery on a hill above vineyards and orchards, Wang Jiannan picks his way carefully between the headstones.
He lost his mother and his sister to the cult nearly 20 years ago. But now he's lost his father too.
On 1 October last year, his sister beat their father to death in a grim forerunner of the McDonald's killing. Like those killers, she saw her victim as a demon who must be destroyed."
The references must seem self-evident to most readers but let's compare Officer Wilson's description to the vernacular of the Church of the Almighty.  The combination of stealth pseudo-Christian organization and the reference to ridding the world of "demons" seems to ring a bell.

And as we list the litany of co-incidental anomalies about the killing and the absence of investigation of this case, we must ask ourselves whether or not Wilson could have possibly acted alone or in concert with others and then, whether those others have a deeper and darker relationship that this killing alludes to.  And let's not be coy here.  Both the Klan and the Extreme Christian Death cults who shoot abortion doctors and cult members who stray may have reincarnated themselves something along the lines of the Church of the Almighty God.

The following are facts as we know them.  Are they "in plain sight" clues to something else,

  • By law, American Police now have a near immune power over life and death. Death cults share the same belief.
  • What does the dropping of shell casings at the scene of the crime mean? Does it have numerological significance?  Does it accurately reflect the number of bullets fired in this case or is Wilson fulfilling a symbolic ritual?
  • Most of the casings are manually dropped by the body as if this were a trophy or gladiator killing - Wilson standing over the vanquished demon emptying his casings rather than feeling sick or saying a prayer for the man he killed (after all this was his first deadly encounter that we know of)
  • Wilson needed to "wash his hands of blood".  Where did he get so much blood on his hands that they needed washing? Two bullets were fired in the SUV - one hit the door, one grazed Brown's thumb. Was the blood on his hands soaked at the dead body?  Is there a Christian equivalent to the washing of hands? Could this have been a signal to the prosecutor?
  • "The St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, did not recommend a charge or charges against Officer Wilson."
  •  The police handing of the death is odd and almost ritualistic.  Review the section of this article that lists what's different about the Ferguson Grand Jury.  The differences are so extraordinary that they are stunning.  Notice the numerology - a three month mock trial, 25 days of deliberation (nothing significant about those numbers is there), what could the testimony of investigators mean if they had not done due diligence?, why was Wilson allowed to testify - was he instructing cult members within the Jury?, McCulloch claims to have released "all" the evidence - but evidence is not a commodity but a process of discovery - what would discovery reveal?

  •  The body was left lying in the street for four and one half hours.  Wilson was treated as if he was directing the cleanup team. He was allowed to move about freely, do whatever he wanted to with his gun and cartridges before turning them in.  No measurements were taken of the crime scene - would the numerological introduction of standard police practice interfere with the ritual being played out or would treating the crime scene like a crime scene interfere with a cult ritual?
  • Why did Wilson have a redness on the side of his face away from where Brown is alleged to have hit him.  Cult-ritual?, botched cover-up attempt?, what? 
  • Wilson is married shortly after the killing of the demon.  Cult ritual? Cult reward?
  • Funds are publicly raised for a non-existent defense - cult reward?
  • Wilson resigns, "hoping to stay in law enforcement" - cult promotion within the system?
  • Wilson calls for healing with in the community.  Given his contempt for Ferguson, what community is he referring to?  A cult community? A network of government infiltrators?

In Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut, a film detailing cult behavior there is a scene in which a ritualistic killing of a woman is explained as (bolded tet my emphasis),
"Ziegler therefore admits that people attending the ritual were high-level, well-known and powerful people. Kubrick is therefore making clear that the richest, most powerful deciders of the “real world” meet in these types of rituals … and that these rituals are off-limits for the profane.
When Bill mentions Amanda, Ziegler gets more defensive and replies: “She was a hooker” – meaning that she was an Beta slave that could be easily disposed of. Then Ziegler tells Bill that everything that happened at the ritual was a charade to scare him, Bill answers:
“You called it a fake, a charade. Do you mind telling me what kind of f—-cking charade ends with someone turning up dead?”
This highlights the fundamental difference between the public’s perception of occult rituals and what actually happens. Regular people are lead to believe that these elite rituals are nothing more than goofy meetings of people with too much time on their hands. In reality, these elaborate rituals often incorporate real attempts at Black Magick and include real blood sacrifices and other terrible acts.
If the demise of the old cults and hate organizations has given rise to a new, more sophisticated version of the old then we are in trouble in this country because absolute power corrupts and it corrupts absolutely.  Why bother with lynch mobs when joining the local police department allows you and other members of any hate group to determine life and death?

While Wilson is probably not a cult member, the peculiar patterns that are in plain sight suggest otherwise.  Whether Death cult, gamification of ultra-violence, or profound incompetence, the volume of such killing in the past year alone is an alarming wake-up call for us to take a closer look.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recipes for Obstructing Justice: Common Core Arithmetic for Grand Juries

Update: The initial narrative of this post is corrected based on the fact that some of the preliminary information it was based on has been clarified and given greater detail


We're back with yet another lesson we learned from the Ferguson execution of Michael Brown. you won't see this one on Sesame Street but you should and every urban school in America should be learning this because, well, *you* could be the next victim.

Let's start with a map that showed up in the New York Times that gives us some baseline numbers and proportions to work with;



Click this link that will bring up the NYTimes page that properly labels everything on the diagram.

Update: Here's the Washington Post's version;

Let's examine the text that accompanies the diagrams.

"Mr. Brown’s body was about 153 feet east of Officer Wilson’s car. Mr. Brown’s blood was about 25 feet east of his body. This evidence supports statements that Mr. Brown continued to move closer to the officer after being hit by an initial string of bullets."
Exercise #1) Brown's body is 6'4" long.  His feet  are closest to the farthest blood stains found at the scene of the shooting (at about 180' based on the WaPo diagram tho this distance seems on the high side and 171 feet or so based on the NYTimes diagram). How far are his feet from the farthest drip of blood? (the WaPo diagram measures his head at about 153', Brown was  6'4).

You would be correct to question the textual assertion that states it's 25' in the NYTimes diagram.

Exercise #2) Brown's body is 6'4" long.  His stride is approximately 3 feet long when he's walking? Using the distance of 21' (based on WaPo diagram) feet between where his feet fall and the most distant blood drop.  How many strides walking could Mr. Brown have walked?

If his running stride is 4 feet and he's getting ready to charge like a football linebacker, how many strides could he have taken?

Exercise #3) The length between Officer Wilson's SUV and the middle of Michael Brown's body is 153 feet. what is the total distance between the start of the measurement at the SUV and the farthest trace of blood using the 21' foot estimate and including 3 feet for half of Brown's body.

Now divide 180 feet by three to calculate the total number of yards involved.

Exercise #4) Draw a bee line between the farthest bloodstain and the hat by the SUV.  Let's call that the longest distance between Brown and the Officer.  Now draw a line across the middle of Michael Brown's back and extend it past the SUV. Let's call this direction the "Final Resting Trajectory".

Do these two lines tell you that Michael Brown was moving in a straight line along the bee line or would you say he would have been zig-zagging to fall forward along the "Final Resting Trajectory"?
Could he have been charging anyone along the beeline that way?  Where would the officer have needed to be standing along the Final Resting Trajectory to have been facing Mr. Brown?

The Washington Post diagram shows the dispersion of bullet casings but gives us no sense of distance between Wilson and Brown although it certainly looks as if Wilson waits until he has caught up with Brown sufficiently to claim that he was in danger based on the legal guideline that would give him plausible deniability.

Exercise #5) Since the majority of bullets were at Mr Brown's head where would the bullets on his arms have been hit if his arms were raised close to his head?

Exercise #6) Calculate the time it takes a 240 lb classmate to grab a banana from the  console section of a mid-sized SUV by climbing through the window and using his right hand.  Try punching the person in the van with the left fist oh the person's right cheek. Now try it again with a 210 lb security guard from your school protecting the banana. Can the classmate climbing through the window throw a punch in that position?


Recipes for Obstructing Justice: Deconstructing the Split-Second Decision

There is hardly a case when a Law Officer is involved in a shooting of a suspect that the ubiquitous defense used to justify the shooting is the Split-Second Decision.  This terminology is so popular and romanticized that it qualifies as a popular culture meme. Just about everyone who shoots another person claims both self-defense and the necessity to make a split-second decision.

The importance of understanding what this terminology means is critical for the general public because in cases such as the #Ferguson shooting , the Cleveland shooting of a 12-year old boy playing with a B-B gun, the shooting of a Black man in Ohio at a Walmart and more, the excuse for a deadly shooting of the suspect is that the officer has made a split-second decision.

Even more troubling is that this defense is exercised by Bounty Hunters (this one shooting a vehicle), citizens who feel threatened, and for all kinds of other violent person to person activity. For the sake of our discussion we'll stick to understanding what a split-second decision means to the police, what reasonable cause to shoot someone means, how a jury should understand the limits of applying split-second arguments, and how the split-second decision argument can be abused to subvert fact and justice.

And just to be sure none of this is misconstrued, we are not speaking about encounters in which officers are in hand to hand combat or being ambushed, situations in which shooting is already being exchanged, or when an officer otherwise find themselves in compromised or disadvantaged situations.   While split-second decisions may come into play, officers need do little more than act in self-defense.

What Does Split-second Mean in a Violent Police Encounter?

First let's disassociate the split-second decision from terms like quick-thinking or making snap-decision.  When the term split-second decision is used by law enforcement or legal defenses to explain the reason a police officer has shot a subject a number of very specific conditions must exist.  The most important of these conditions involved is what is the time the police officer has to decide to shoot-to-kill before the officer themselves are in danger of being shot?

Shooting to Kill Metrics

The following video explains the research that has been done over decades to inform police, courts, and juries of the arithmetic of a face-to-face, gun-to-gun, police to suspect standoff with both facing each other.

Disclaimer, at the end of this video there's some blue language and the narrator gets one detail wrong.  When he says the word liberal, the studies actually refer to anyone (liberal or conservative) who is educated. The more educated the slower the reaction time.  Even more specifically, anyone who sees life in absolute black and white terms is likely faster to make a decision one way or another.


What this fellow is describing is the scientific framework used to understand the last reasonable responsible moment to make a decision to shoot a suspect with the intention to immediately and conclusively incapacitate a subject.  This is almost always a shoot-to-kill decision.

The framework itself is called Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA).  It is based on studies such as Reasonableness and Reaction Time. This study refers to an experiment that tested the reaction time of trained SWAT team officers who were past peak in reaction time to suspects in peak reaction  time condition holding a gun in a number of variations in a face-to-face confrontation 10 feet apart.

In other words, the study attempted to establish a baseline for the last responsible moment a police officer should wait before shooting and this baseline already builds in an edge condition that gives the Officer the benefit of the doubt when pulling the trigger.  The experiment involved 24 year old suspects who were modeled after the worst-case suspect who had already decided to shoot whoever they confronted, the officer was modeled after a 34-year old middle-aged, trained SWAT officers whose reaction times would be slower, and confrontation was close, direct, and unequivocal.  The study concluded (statements bolded are my embellishments);
"When the average reaction times of the police officers and suspects in our study were compared, they showed that police officers and suspects were taking about the same amount of time to fire. When the individual exchanges were examined, police officers fired at the same time or later than the suspect 61% of the time. Additionally, even in the situations where the officer was faster, there was less than a .2 s difference, suggesting that the suspect would still get a shot off in most of these encounters. The process of perceiving the suspect’s movement, interpreting the action, deciding on a response, and executing the response for the officer generally took longer than it took the suspect to execute the action of shooting, even though the officer already had his gun aimed at the suspect. Although our sample size is not large, our results are consistent with previous research and our general understanding of the reaction process (Brebner & Welford, 1980; Grossman & Christensen, 2004; Honig & Lewinski, 2008; Luce; 1986; Welchman et al., 2010). Completing all of the steps necessary to interpret a situation, select, and then execute a response simply tends to take longer than it takes to execute an already decided-upon action.
We did not find a significant difference in firing times or reaction times by gun position. Suspects with their guns down by their sides fired as quickly as suspects with their guns pointed at their heads, and officers reacted in the same amount of time in both situations. It would seem then, that from a mechanical point of view, both types of suspect are about equally dangerous."
The time that this mock worst case OODA encounter took is less than half a second. These results are not only accepted by the Policing community they are baselines for defining the reasonableness of Police incapacitating a suspect with a gun in a face-to-face situation.  There's no reason to quibble about the accuracy of studies like these.  They define a rule of thumb by which we (citizens, jurors, police) can agree provide a rule of thumb definition for further discussion.BBgun

The Rule of Thumb Criteria for a Reasonable Split-Second Decision to Lethally Incapacitate a Suspect

1. The suspect must be observably armed with a gun in hand.

2. A sole officer must have his gun drawn, ready to shoot at the body mass of the suspect.

3. The officer complies with laws and policies regarding fair warning to the suspect to drop the gun immediately, to freeze, or whatever other command the officer has issued AND the suspect does not comply.

4. While the distance between officer and suspect may vary it is irrelevant to making the split-second decision. The officer must anticipate the possibility that gunfire will be exchanged and the officer is right to shoot first and to shoot to incapacitate.

This criteria is an absolute minimum to establish reasonableness.  The officer shoots to incapacitate without needing to second guess the action. A suspect who is observed to have a gun in hand and changes position even with back to officer to obscure what is being done with the weapon remains an imminent threat to the sole officer.

As an aside, a suspect who is leaning on a rifle in a Walmart store with his back to a team of SWAT officers constitutes no imminent threat to engage the officers and justifying a split-second decision to use fatal force is not reasonable (here is where legal loopholes and fatal force creep contribute to obstruction of justice for the suspect and it is also where the local police policies and guidelines kick in). We'll discuss this in more detail below.

5. The age, gender, race, mental capacity, handicap status, or other distinguishing feature of the suspect is also irrelevant.  An officer observing a suspect with a gun who is not responding to immediate direct commands from the officer can and should be incapacitated to protect the officer and the ecosystem of people, property, and integrity of infrastructure.

As an aside, the shooting of the young boy (Tamir Rice) possessing a BB gun at a recreation center in Cleveland by the police officer in the drive-by confrontation is almost precisely a textbook example of the split-second decision reference model that the Reasonableness and Reaction Time experiments made their conclusions on.  The officer is put in a situation where he and his partner are face-to-face with a boy who is brandishing a gun.

In the case of Tamir Rice, the question that has to be asked is why was the confrontation at such close range necessary in the first place.  While this played out as a split-second decision, it was initiated by the officers themselves and not by the suspect. What possible good reason could there have been to engage the suspect at such close quarters?

The first part of the OOCA framework is to observe.  The boy is in the Gazebo with no one around him and he hasn't harmed a passerby.  The Police Chief when addressing the press spoke about the tactic of the drive-by as if the only concern was that the officers could have more safely killed the boy from a distance rather than putting themselves in danger. this is not atypical of the indifference to the rights and welfare of suspects authorities everywhere express.

The Police Officer's "Fear for My Life" Consideration

The Reasonableness and Reaction Time study that Police use as their source reference material for [rightfully] justifying the Benefit of the Doubt in shooting first when encountering a suspect with a gun also informs us of the danger that an officer can expect in such a face-to-face encounter (p. 355);

"Hits
Suspects successfully shot the officer in 77 (50.3%) of the 153 coded exchanges. The suspects’ shots hit the officers in 34 of the 65 (52%) of the gun low scenarios and in 43 of the 88 (48.8%) gun high scenarios. This difference was not significant 
(χ2(1) = .177, p = .67).
The police officers successfully shot the suspect in 138 (88.5%) of the 156 coded trials. The officers hit in 75 of the 88 (85.2%) gun high trials and 63 of the 68 (92.6%) gun low trials. This difference was not significant (χ2(1) = 2.07, p = .15)."
This is important to note because the sole officer making the split-second decision in the worst case scenario has a 50/50 (rounded) chance of being shot while the suspect will likely be lethally shot 85% of the time  And when the suspect is making a move toward a weapon in this edge scenario the officer's hit rate moves into the nineties percentage-wise.

As we move away from that edge case, to add more observation time, more officers, and better police advantage we not only move away from split-second decision categorization of the encounter, we also must acknowledge that the suspect's chances of hitting an officer diminishes as the chances of the suspect holding a gun and being lethally incapacitated approach near certainty.

Officers who understand these statistical probabilities have an upper-hand even in highly stressful and split-second decision encounters. assuming personal recklessness for being overconfident doesn't kick in, fear of the suspect out in the open such as the boy in the Gazebo, the man in the WalMart, or the teen in Ferguson should be a minor consideration unless the encounter is far more complex situation.

Fear on the part of a police officer becomes even more incredulous when the suspect doesn't have a gun.  Officers often claim that "the suspect had a knife (or something that looked like a knife)".  Unless the suspect is in very close proximity it is hard to understand pleading a split-second decision or the use of lethal force needed to be made.

These fear arguments become more absurd in the public's mind as the alleged weapons turn out to be a bottle of cola as in the case of a mentally disabled man named Otto Zehm or in the case of a banana being pointed at an officer.

The Reasonableness and Reaction Time study also addresses this issue (bolded text my emphasis).

"Our findings have two implications for the reasonableness standard. First, the reasonableness standard is based on what a well-trained, prudent officer would do in a given situation. The current study informs the reasonableness standard by providing parameters for police officer performance when responding to armed suspects. Our results show that even well-trained officers, who are operating in nearly ideal circumstances, with their guns aimed at a suspect, cannot reasonably be expected to shoot before the suspect raises his or her gun and fires.
Second, the reasonableness standard considers the danger perceived by the officer at the time of the use of force. The current findings serve to illustrate the extreme danger that armed suspects present to police officers. Our findings show that even when a police officer has his or her gun aimed at a suspect and the suspect is not aiming at the police officer, the police officer is still in extreme danger.
The results reported here have two primary policy/training implications. First, the results highlight the extreme danger that armed suspects pose to police officers. Because officer involved shootings can be traumatic to both the officer and the public, training should focus on helping officers avoid the type of situation presented here.
Training should also teach officers how to mitigate the dangers posed by armed suspects. Distance and cover are generally considered to be an officer’s friend when dealing with armed suspects. More distance and/or cover reduce the ability of the suspect to fire accurately at the officer and thus the danger to the officer is reduced. This gives the officer more flexibility in his or her response.
Second, several of the officers who participated in the study indicated their intent to have new recruits in their agencies participate in scenarios similar to the one presented here. These officers indicated that participation in this type of scenario would give the new recruits a better understanding of the dynamics involved in this type of situation and help correct inaccurate beliefs about shooting ability. The officer–participants indicated that this improved understanding of deadly-force encounter dynamics could help save officer lives. We, therefore, suggest that police departments consider implementing the type of scenario presented here in their training programs."
-snip-
"We do not believe that the findings presented in this article support the position of: “shoot everyone with a gun” or “shoot everyone with a gun who does not comply.” "

Indeed in researching this material, a recent incident concerning another boy playing with a toy gun and being shot by an officer was found.  In this case the officer, shot but did not kill the boy. Citizens and juries should expect this outcome more often than fatal shots being taken when there is a sole officer who has more time to react and when multiple officers have established a strategic advantage over a subject.

But if we are going to expect fewer accidental and mistaken suspect deaths, there needs to be a strategy built into the police training regimen.  In fact, it needs to be incorporated into the OODA framework itself.

The Marines ironically have succeeded in incorporating a more responsible behavioral modification that reduces the chances of accidental or emotionally fatal actions on the part of Marines.  In a LinkedIn article called "'Marines Don't Do That': Mastering The Split-Second Decision", Michael Wheeler describes a strategy;
"Imagine that you’re a British Marine commando in Afghanistan. Your unit comes  across an insurgent, badly wounded but unarmed. One of your fellow soldiers seething with rage, points his pistol at him and is poised to shoot. “Shuffle off this mortal coil,” he says. “It’s nothing you wouldn't do to us.”
You have mere seconds to act. You’re not close enough to restrain him. What would you say? 
If you weighed your options for more than an instant, time’s up. It’s too late. As it was for the others at the scene. Before they could act or speak, the angry soldier shot the defenseless captive at close range, then turned to his fellow commandos and said, “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
But word did get out in the following days. The whole incident had been videoed by helmet cameras. (The grainy picture posted here is from that film.) The soldier was recently found guilty of murder, the first such conviction in Britain since World War II.
Handing down a life sentence, the judge said, “You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By doing so you have betrayed your corps . . . [and] potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel.”
It was a tragedy all the way around. For the victim, most certainly. Also for the convicted soldier who had an otherwise unblemished service record. And likewise for the troops who witnessed the killing and anguish over what they might have done to prevent it.
There is no simple answer that would guarantee a different outcome, but some military experts believe that the murder might have been prevented if just one other person in that unit had the presence of mind to say four words: “Marines don’t do that.” Replay that short sentence in your head as if it were directed to you. Note that it does not include the words stop, order, or wrong. That omission makes the statement all the stronger. Its aim is to put the spotlight on the person, not the act.
“Marines” is the most important word. It comes first and works on two levels. It tells the soldier, “Remember who you are. Don’t renounce your identity.” Uttered by a fellow marine, it also says, “Your brothers are here with you.”
 
You may think I’m reading too much meaning into that sentence. When I came across an analysis of the incident by an ethicist, Paul Valley, I forwarded it to a former student of mine, Major David Dixon, recently retired from the US Marine Corps. David kindly gave me permission to quote his reply:
“Wow, this is extremely apropos. A few months ago I spoke at the University of Washington about how the Marine Corps teaches ethical decision making in situations exactly like this. . .. This is exactly what we teach: ‘Marines don't do that.’ Verbatim, it is in my PowerPoint slides.”
According to David, every US Marine received this training in 2012, from senior personnel to the most the most junior enlisted troops. It’s more than a technique or a tactic. Instead it’s an expression of a deep sense of values and responsibilities."
If Marines are taught an ethical basis for their split-second decision making then is it asking too much that American police officers incorporate similar standards of conduct?  Codes of conduct can supercede fear by instilling a much clearer sense of responsibility, proper conduct, and desired consequence in the individuals "doing their job."

A Police Officer's Racial Considerations; Weapons Bias

Unsurprisingly, Police Officers have been  studied to determine the effect a subject's race may play in an officer's exercise of duty.  In a study called Weapon Bias - Split-Second Decisions and Unintended Stereotyping by B. Keith Payne, we discover that racial bias does exist and it exists on a hierarchical basis.

The study first defines a concept called Weapons Bias (bolded text my emphasis);

"...we developed a laboratory task in which participants made visual discriminations between guns and harmless objects (hand tools). A human face flashed just before each object appeared: a black face on some trials, a white face on others (see Fig. 1). The task for participants was to ignore the faces and respond only to the objects (Payne, 2001).
There were two versions of the experiment. In one version, participants responded at their own pace. In the other version they had to respond within half a second on each trial. In the self-paced condition, accuracy was very high regardless of race. However, participants detected guns faster in the presence of a black face. This suggested that the black face readied people to detect a gun but did not distort their decisions.
In the snap-judgment condition, race shaped people’s mistakes. They falsely claimed to see a gun more often when the face was black than when it was white (Fig. 2). Under the pressure of a split-second decision, the readiness to see a weapon became an actual false claim of seeing a weapon.
These effects are not bound to the details of a particular experimental paradigm. Several independent lab groups have reported strikingly similar results using a variety of different procedures."
What is important here should be obvious. In split-second decision situations in which police officers are already trained to shoot first if a gun or imminent physical harm is present , race introduces a wildcard.  It is politically incorrect to admit that race is a factor and quite frankly such an admission opens the officers and their interests to legal entanglements and socially uncomfortable alibis.

This brings us back to our previous topic of why a law enforcement officer would claim they feared for their lives when so often in split-second decisions the advantage is overwhelmingly in their favor and there is no mistake about the job description before the job is taken - your life may be in danger.  But if we factor in this racial wildcard it is easier to make sense of such claims.  'Fear' is a code word for racial dissonance under pressure.

When an officer "sees" a gun in the hands of a suspect, uses lethal force to kill the suspect, and then realizes the suspect has no gun or was holding a banana or cellphone or some other silly item, the defense of such a fatal act is often rationalized as a mistake out of fear.  But from this study, we know that mistakes such as these are more often made when a black man is the suspect.

In fact, another study concludes;

"Police officers and students exhibit an apparent “hierarchy of bias” in making a split-second decision whether to shoot suspects who appear to be wielding a gun or, alternatively, a benign object like a cell phone, research conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder and San Diego State University has found.
Both the police and student subjects were most likely to shoot at blacks, then Hispanics, then whites and finally, in a case of what might be called a positive bias, Asians, researchers found.
In the first study of its kind, Joshua Correll, Bernadette Park and Charles M. Judd of CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Melody Sadler of San Diego State University examined how police and a group of undergraduate subjects decide whether to shoot or not to shoot “suspects” in a multi-ethnic environment."
It is worth mentioning that these studies find law enforcement personnel to be less biased than the general American public when making such split-second judgements.  This means legal cases that involve Bounty Hunters or property owners or home invasion victims may be even more likely to feel threatened by racial differences than police would have been.

Again, the split-second decision defense that is so ubiquitously applied to police shooting suspect cases becomes all the more complex and worthy of deeper understanding by law enforcement and trial jurors.

Even more interestingly, the Weapons Bias study that's cited previously recommends a behavioral modification to the OODA framework (bolded text my own emphasis);

"...the officers with the most firearms training showed the least race bias. This finding suggests that the routine training that officers receive may effectively reduce weapon bias. There is evidence that practice in identifying weapons may have beneficial effects on both controlled and automatic components of responses and that these benefits extend to police officer volunteers (Plant & Peruche, 2005; Plant, Peruche, & Butz, 2005).
Finally, a recent study shows that although people cannot simply will the weapon bias away, certain specific strategies may be able to eliminate the automatic component of the bias. Stewart and Payne (2006) had participants form simple plans that linked racial categories to specific counterstereotypic thoughts (Gollwitzer, 1999). For example, participants made the plan, ‘‘when I see a black face I will think ‘safe.’’’ Unlike participants who simply tried to avoid bias, those who formed specific plans showed no automatic race bias. Together, these studies offer clues to how and why specific strategies may succeed or fail."
In cases of wrongful death, the question of malfeasance on the part of Police Departments regarding weapons recognition training is obvious. An officer making a split-second decision will only be as responsible for his actions as the Department itself enables the officer to be.

The second recommendation should sound familiar. when officers introduce counterstereotypic thoughts into the OODA model to observe the weapon more carefully when black and Hispanic faces are the first thing they see, they become better law enforcement officers and less likely to make a mistake.  The fact that this exercise is practiced by the Marines as described earlier reinforces the integrity of the suggestion.

Third, there is something important here to learn about 911 calls.  In the case of Tamir Rice, the boy playing with a BB gun, the 911 agent who took the call very quickly asked the race of the person being reported.  Given what we just learned about Weapons Bias and the Hierarchy of Racial Bias it seems prudent that the 911 procedures and best practices come under new scrutiny to help clarify rather than exacerbate potential police encounters with suspects.


Obstructing Justice by Subverting the OODA Model



In examining the defense of using lethal force when confronting suspects, it is obvious that the split-second decision defense is often used for a number of reasons.


  1. It's imprinted through mass-media as a legal meme for officers to be given the benefit of the doubt in the shooting of suspects and taken for granted as such.
  2. It implies in personal terms that the immediate shooting involved almost no time to think.
  3. It dampens or obfuscates the broader issue of why a split-second decision was necessary almost by self-definition.
Yet within the framework of split-second decisions is the recognizable framework of OODA.  The integrity of the framework assumes that an officer will at least Observe the situation, Orient themselves to strategic advantage based on the observation, Decide whether or not to use lethal force, and then Act accordingly.

In many of the split-second decision cases in which suspects die there appears to be a short-circuiting of the OODA cycle.  Police officers often appear no to bother Observing and Orienting. A 911 call that involves firearms seems to trigger an a priori automatic decision that lethal force will be necessary and once on the scene perfunctory and obligatory legal necessities are performed hastily and an Act of violence is administered.

This short-circuit is resulting in suspects who are attempting to make sense of what is going on around them, maybe attempting to surrender or tell the officer they are not a threat, and as they do so, the officer who has not observed or oriented themselves either is shooting.

This is not an administration of Justice but an execution in which officers hide behind the rhetoric of justified action when the suspect in fact had no chance of being recognized as an innocent.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Recipes for Obstructing Justice: Overloading the Grand Jury

The Grand Jury process used to secure a trial for Michael Brown in Ferguson failed.  A recent Slate article written by Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West entitled Shadow Trial details the consequences of this failure. In it they write,
"St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s decision to “open up” the grand jury proceedings by including massive amounts of testimony and evidence has been decried as “highly unusual,” “deeply unfair,” and evidence that police officer Darren Wilson received “special treatment.” McCulloch’s move to include a good deal of exculpatory evidence and testimony led to a three-month, closed-door proceeding that included 70 hours of testimony, including 60 witnesses and three medical examiners. The breadth of the evidence presented to the grand jury has led many to declare that it turned the entire proceeding into something that walks and quacks an awful lot like a trial, but without many of the procedural rules that would make a trial truly fair.
This move to morph a grand jury inquiry, which is typically a short rundown of the case for the prosecution, into a trial-like parade of mountains of evidence raises serious issues about the rights of Michael Brown’s family to have a fair process for their dead son, as well as highlighting concerns about unequal treatment of different kinds of criminal defendants. But seemingly lost in this jumble of legal concerns is the fact that McCulloch’s decision to shift the truth-seeking function of a criminal trial into the secret realm of the grand jury room violated another set of constitutional rights—ours. It violated our collective public right to an open criminal justice system. And if ever there was a trial to which Americans deserved a meaningful right of access, Wilson’s trial was it. Instead, we have a post-hoc document dump."
It should be noted also that Officer Wilson was allowed to present his narrative for four hours as to what happened without cross-examination of the evidence, claims, nor he, himself. That accounts for at least 6 percent of the time to assimilate the information at face value.

But more importantly, the Grand Jury had other business to attend to as well.  So although three months sounds like a long time to deliberate but the Grand Jury met 23 times. Dividing the 70 reported hours by the 23 meetings, we get an average of 23 (more or less) 3 hour meetings.

Of the 66 remaining hours (not counting Wilson's four hours), 32 other witnesses were interviewed and their information processed at face value.  It's unclear how long any given witness testified but using simple arithmetic let's assume an hour per such witness just to gather what they had to say. That leaves 34 hours to read 22 other artefacts of information.  It should also be noted that the witness numbers go up to 64 or so meaning that some information was either discarded or remains undisclosed.

Regardless, that leaves about 12 hours for analysis of all of that to come to an important conclusion.

And let us not forget the effect that often opinionated media reports may have made outside the meeting venues.

Let's express to this ratio of face value information consumption (I) to be processed within a timeframe (T) as I divided by T.  And based on the flat arithmetic we just performed let's call the saturation of time to process this amount of information as  "overload" because the amount of information that the Grand Jury had to consider consumes nearly all of the time that was dedicated to the processing AND analysis.  The sheer complexity of cross-referencing the details of this tsunami of data precludes the possibility that the jurors who were busy with multiple other issues could fairly and accurately make any decision that could be recognised as credible.

The Shadow Trial article elaborates as to the effect of their decision based on a processing of information that daunting.

"While jurors can function as surrogates for the public and a check on government misfeasance, the court affirmed in Richmond Newspapers that by impaneling a jury, the community did “not surrender its right to observe the conduct of trials” or its ability “to satisfy themselves that justice was in fact being done.” Disclosing results alone, the court declared, will not “satiate the natural community desire for ‘satisfaction,’ ” and “an unexpected outcome can cause a reaction that the system at best has failed and at worst has been corrupted.” 
While the Supreme Court has never declared a right of access to grand jury proceedings, it has held that closure of pretrial proceedings that function like trials is unconstitutional. In Press Enterprise, for example, a 41-day probable-cause hearing was closed to the press and the public. Under California law, the probable-cause hearing was designed to determine whether the defendant could stand trial for the charges, much like in a grand jury proceeding. But, the court noted, the state process allowed broad introduction of evidence, meaning that it was “often the final and most important step in the criminal proceeding” and “the sole occasion for public observation of the criminal justice system.” 
Closed trials have serious costs. Brennan told us that they “breed suspicion of prejudice and arbitrariness, which in turn spawns disrespect for law.” And Burger explained that “people in an open society do not demand infallibility from their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing.” Furthermore, according to Burger, the “crucial prophylactic aspects of the administration of justice cannot function in the dark; no community catharsis can occur if justice is ‘done in a corner [or] in any covert manner.’ ” Yet that is precisely what this strange shadow trial from Ferguson became. It may as well have been “done in a corner.”
That secrecy was not cured in any way by the after-the-fact document dump with which the prosecutors’ office released the materials considered by the grand jury. Certainly giving all of us access to the materials created the appearance of a wholly transparent and open process. But it seems to have had largely the effect of reinforcing people’s beliefs. Michael Brown’s supporters insist he was an unarmed kid, killed by a trigger happy white cop, and Wilson’s supporters insist he was justifiably defending himself from an animal who was poised to kill him. By dumping all of the evidence and allowing us to arrive at our own conclusions, absent any context or process or ability to judge the credibility of witnesses, we have been handed the criminal equivalent of one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, in which we can all find an interpretation that conforms to our pre-existing ideas.
In the end, we all got to bear witness not to a fair and open trial, but to parts of it that do not add up to openness, fairness, or justice. We cannot believe in the fairness of a process we cannot see, and we should not be led to believe in the fairness of a process because a prosecutor’s office asserts that we have seen all we need to."

In an article called "Justice Scalia Explains What Was Wrong with the Ferguson Grand Jury" our suspicions that something is awry gain traction,

"Justice Antonin Scalia, in the 1992 Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, explained what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years.
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.
This passage was first highlighted by attorney Ian Samuel, a former clerk to Justice Scalia.
In contrast, McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify for hours before the grand jury and presented them with every scrap of exculpatory evidence available. In his press conference, McCulloch said that the grand jury did not indict because eyewitness testimony that established Wilson was acting in self-defense was contradicted by other exculpatory evidence. What McCulloch didn’t say is that he was under no obligation to present such evidence to the grand jury. The only reason one would present such evidence is to reduce the chances that the grand jury would indict Darren Wilson.
Compare Justice Scalia’s description of the role of the grand jury to what the prosecutors told the Ferguson grand jury before they started their deliberations:
And you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not act in lawful self-defense and you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not use lawful force in making an arrest. If you find those things, which is kind of like finding a negative, you cannot return an indictment on anything or true bill unless you find both of those things. Because both are complete defenses to any offense and they both have been raised in his, in the evidence.
As Justice Scalia explained the evidence to support these “complete defenses,” including Wilson’s testimony, was only included by McCulloch by ignoring how grand juries historically work.
There were several eyewitness accounts that strongly suggested Wilson did not act in self-defense. McCulloch could have, and his critics say should have, presented that evidence to the grand jury and likely returned an indictment in days, not months. It’s a low bar, which is why virtually all grand juries return indictments.

It becomes obvious that the responsibility for advocating for a trial is McCullough's  responsibility. But McCullough does not perform his role as a prosecutor.  His behavior and action is to functionally overload the Grand Jury in two ways.  First, by drowning them in the sheer volume of information and second by his own apathetic inaction as prosecutor.

In essence this represents a passive obstruction of justice whose plausible deniability is that he, as prosecutor, did not withhold any information from the Grand Jury (though even that is presumptive on our part).  What is more disturbing is whether or not this kind of pseudo-legal tactic represents a threat to all such police violence cases.  McCullough is either very individually clever in a way that subverts the Justice System from working or he represents one instance of a broader dismantling of the Justice System by special interests.

The fact that this tactic is a repeatable pattern for police violence cases across the country should be of deep concern far beyond the borders of Ferguson, MO.

#Ferguson #GrandJuryOverloadTactic #GrandJury

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Government Sanctioned Murder of Children and Innocents, the Gamification of Police Violence

The past year has been a violent one and the most disturbing source of violence has been the seeming indiscriminate execution of individuals whose life was taken by police who choose the option of execution rather than anything else.  The fact that this impulse to execute is so strong and so predictably inevitable is becoming imprinted in the minds of the American people.

For police, police unions, police apologists, and advocates of instant execution of presumed criminals this is good news.  For them police can kill any suspect with impunity and there's a get-out-of-responsibility-for-killing alibi and public expectation that's built into the system.  Civilian Police in America enjoy fewer constraints in pulling a trigger to kill than most of the armed forces do.

Police can kill in America more frequently and without adverse repercussion than troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In Ferguson, Officer Wilson's lawyers make the following assertion with the intent of making this sound like an incontrovertible fact,  "Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions," the lawyers wrote. "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law."

But is this something that is in fact a sufficient argument to presume that an officer "make a split-second and difficult decision".  If the reflex is so automatic to kill without accountability how difficult a decision need this be?  And in case after case where a black boy, a black teen, and a black man are doing nothing more than playing with a toy gun, surrendering to an officer, or leaning on an air rifle to buy it the police clearly succeed at executing suspects.  The execution instinct need not involve guns.  Choking, kicking, assaulting, pummeling suspects is common news on a daily basis. Usually, it does involve blacks but not always.

What's important to this discussion is simply the fact that in more than a few cases these deaths were predicated by a third party who call in 911 calls reporting what appears to be a responsible sighting of unusual activity.

Here's the call that was made about the boy at a recreation center (source; http://filmingcops.com/its-probably-fake-911-caller-warns-that-12-yr-old-childs-toy-gun-is-fake-cops-shoot-and-kill-child-anyway/ ).

http://media.cleveland.com/plain_dealer_metro/audio/CUDELL.mp3

The 911 call did not come from anyone at the recreation center.  The call itself is quite disingenuous.  There is no mention that the person being reported is a young boy until late in the conversation.  Prior to that the 12 year old is described as a man wearing a camouflage hat like from the "Desert Storm".  The conversation has plenty of disclaimers, "probably a juvenile", "probably a fake gun" but the psychological profile that's being painted is of a combat veteran pulling a gun in and out of his pants and scaring people.

Now once the police get to the recreation center, the "difficult decision" should come into play - is this a combat veteran scaring people or is it a juvenile playing with a fake gun - is anyone aside from the police truly more scared of the boy than them?

IMO, the execution instinct eliminates decision-making - the decision is made long before a split second.  Sociopathic killers who want someone dead can count on using police as a proxy to kill their victim at a safe distance.  Like fire-starters who enjoy watching fires and firemen, killing has now become gamified.

The previous Ohio incident in which a black man was purchasing an air rifle, using it as a crutch and when realizing he was going to get shot in the back yelled , "It's not real",  was a similar type of "difficult decision".  In other words the man was dead the minute the 911 call was relayed to police.  The SWAT teams too are imprinted with the execution-first instinct.  The degree of threat is academic.  Shoot. Shoot often. There is no consequence.  Dead suspects can't argue.

So what can teachers teach about these things?  They'd get fired to say the truth - that Michael Brown was executed as the result of years of American indifference to the lives of suspects, blacks, and people of color, and a code of justice that has groomed a generation  of cold-blooded killers and future killers?

They will likely teach that "we all need to get along", "racism is bad", "fix the system", and the litany of platitudes that no one believes or has a hint of faith in.

The system is not broken.  It is corrupt and corrupting.  It corrupts our souls, it corrupts our society, and it corrupts the schools.  When America allows the prosecutor in the Michael Brown Grand jury trial to have the ingrown police entanglements he has (see: http://m.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/st-louis-prosecutor-has-faced-controversy-for-decades/article_cdd4c104-6086-506e-9ee8-aa957a31fee5.html ) we have a system that is not broken but rotting from within. A system in which checks and balances are selectively applied.

Will schools teach that that when systems are as corrupt as those in Missouri, there's a chance that violence will beget violence such as it was documented in The Battle of Algiers ( http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-battle-of-algiers-1967 ).  We've already seen evidence of this kind of violence that brokeout in Pennsylvania see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/10/31/pennsylvania-manhunt-ends-quietly-after-seven-weeks-of-tension/).  Eric Frein, a white man who killed two State Police officers in an ambush and was captured alive unlike the children and innocents we've seen slaughtered who were black.

We know education and wrist-slapping of racist and ultra-violent police and paramilitary units is a failed policy.  Will we lead yet another generation of children into the killing field with a pocket full of platitudes and a snowball's chance in hell of staying alive?  And will a national police force who operate on automatic pilot to kill on sight like trained dogs be used as proxy killers of civilians either by sociopaths who can manipulate 911 situations or by enemies of the State who can set up American civilians in situations that appear sufficiently illegitimate to police to perform the execution.

Romantic as a "license to kill" may feel to authorities who use and abuse it, local police are becoming willing pawns in a cycle of violence that cannot continue without unexpected consequences.

Thankfully the National Bar  Association  is calling for Federal charges to be filed ( http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b493e6c4d31beda32fdaf8e2d&id=73514e334b ).  The Rule of Law must be restored and confidence that local insider corruption cannot impede justice may be the best lesson that can be taught.  This presumes that corruption doesn't win.




Friday, November 21, 2014

The "new" Social Studies Core Curriculum -cough- Framework

Today I received a copy of the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Framework. You can get a copy here.  It came with the following letter of explanation;

"Request for Public Comment
Working with a broad and diverse group of stakeholders, including teachers and content experts, Connecticut has developed a statewide framework for social studies across the elementary and secondary education continuum. This set of grade-level expectations is intended to provide an engaging roadmap for teaching history, civics, economics, and geography. 
The Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks is not intended to be a state social studies curriculum, but rather a model districts can use. These frameworks represent a substantial shift in the way that social studies was most commonly taught in the past, and present a new way of teaching social studies in the Information Age. Rooted in an inquiry-based approach, the frameworks advocate that students “take informed action” and that they become active and engaged citizens.
The frameworks also recognize the important role that teachers play in helping students develop into informed, thoughtful, and active citizens and encourage teachers to provide, and help students develop, tangible opportunities to take informed action.
The Department has been actively soliciting and welcoming feedback from teachers, educational stakeholders and the general public regarding the new frameworks. Please note that the deadline for submission is 5 p.m. on December 1, 2014. We kindly ask that you provide any written comments to Stephen.Armstrong@ct.gov before the deadline.
The complete draft of the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks can be found here: 
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/board/ssframeworks.pdf. 
Thank you, in advance, for sharing your thoughts and comments regarding Connecticut’s proposed social studies frameworks."
 I sent the following response;

I have taken a brief look at the Framework being proposed by the CONNECTICUT SOCIAL STUDIES FRAMEWORKS WRITING TEAM.

The Connecticut State Department of Education never surprises me in their exercises in advocating exactly the opposite of what needs to be done to improve public education and in this case Social Studies in particular is jaw-dropping.

I am going to make every attempt to restrain myself from calling this steaming pile of mediocrity what it truly is and instead concentrate on some specifics.

First, there is nothing 'new' about this framework.  This is last century's idea about Social Studies regurgitated and repositioned as something innovative. It not only pedagogically toxic but is devoid of any intellectual rigor or merit as a framework that any child should be exposed to.  While the framework "connects" itself to Common Core Standards (page 3) there is little evidence that either the Common Core Standard or the Framework is connected to social reality.

Also on page 3, the Framework offers the platitude that it advocates "the Inquiry Process" - something the authors of the framework have yet to exercise themselves.  I say this because the framework goes on to constrain the teaching of Social Studies to a number of subject categories that allow social studies teachers to continue teaching last century's curriculum by sleep-walking to retirement.  Frameworks such as these are the best advertisement for privatization of public schools one can find.

On page 4 of the Framework, we expect our students to get excited by exercises like; Students investigate the history of Columbus’s exploration and write editorials to their local newspaper or attend a Board of Education meeting to discuss whether the town and school should celebrate Columbus Day."" as if writing a letter to the editor about the celebration of Columbus Day is a monumentally important civic responsibility.  It's not the only such empty exercise implied. We are living through what is being labeled as The Technological Singularity in which we are pioneering the transformation of humans into cyborgs, experimenting with the modification of human design with DNA therapies, and witnessing an information revolution that shakes the very foundations of capitalism, science, and governance in a interplanetary context and the Framework thinks writing a letter to the editor about Columbus Day is a Social Studies exercise.  Where will they find a newspaper to do that with?

Wait.  the Framework has absolutely no intellectual shame.  On page five, "An introduction to all four disciplines of the C3 framework should be introduced in the primary grades. This would include, but is not limited to, the use of maps, globes, the rights and responsibilities of groups, perspectives on the past, local history, and economic decision-making."

Not limited to globes.  Globes.

Does anyone read this stuff?

There's more, in Kindergarten - "Me and My Community: Home, Class, School, and Town communities are studied (ex. class and school rules, maps of neighborhoods and town)".  How about some recognition of who kids are and what their questions about life and themselves are?  As a Joseph Campbell fan whose essential message is, "Follow your bliss", how about treating young children to an understanding of which directions to grow.  Rather than school rules, how about teaching them about social behavior and how to exercise themselves at home, in school, with their friends, in society as a whole?  The best way to send a message that a prison is a school intolerant of individual differences is by practicing the "new (twas always thus)" framework.

As we bear witness on a near daily basis of student motivated shootings of classmates, doesn't the study of social studies bear some, however remote, responsibility for designing a framework that builds good citizenship by emphasizing how to exercise self-control, social -control, social manners, how-to-get-help when one is in trouble, how to communicate and remediate social frustrations, how to build trust, how to navigate one's life in a no-longer-geographic-centric world?

Which raises another non-trivial issue, Why is the technological Singularity wholly absent from this framework?  It is absent in a number of ways.

First where is the advocacy of using Google Maps, create-a-society gaming, search engines, alternative historical, ahistorical, and death of history resources?

Second, why is the study of social studies mired in a presumptive names, places, dates, social-conformity-to-rules-through pointless exercises model when we are now realizing that it is the trajectory of ideas, memes, and social will that drives a better understanding of history as humankind's journey to optional death, transformation to augmented and customizable self-identity, and interplanetary citizen (soon to be inter-galactic)?

Third, when does social studies grow up to promote global citizenship and responsibility rather than a citizenship model that by all empirical evidence (voting metrics) has failed miserably?  Why not encourage the experimentation with alternative modes of teaching citizenship?

To continue to teach social studies as an intellectual dead-end of frustration with the system, schools and government (go write a letter to an editor) is malpractice on the part of the Department of Education and those who would approve of this Framework.  It needs an entire rewrite, it needs a collaborative set of authors who are not ingrown special interests who can exercise some courage and Yankee Ingenuity?

Cartoons (click to site of ownership):