Archive for shooting

Bullets & Burgers... and Brains Blown to Bits


Nicole Sandler


And after you witness an instructor get his brains blown out by a 9-year old shooting an Uzi sub machine gun, you can eat a giant, juicy burger. Mmmmm.

This is what we've apparently come to. Welcome to America.

 The website for Bullets & Burgers was down this morning. I expected either to see an apology and notice that children would no longer be able to shoot these lethal weapons - or a memorial to the now-dead instructor, Charles Vacca. Sadly, the website is now back up - with pictures of all the weapons that you can go there to shoot, but not a mention of the tragic and preventable shooting death that took place there less than 48 hours ago.  Interestingly, there is no phone number on their site either.

This is only the latest sickening gun story to emerge in a country that offers multiple similar stories each day. If you're looking for that kind of blood lust, just follow David Waldman's #gunfail blog over at Daily Kos. 

I had already invited my friend Cliff Schecter to join me on the show today to talk about Bill & Melinda Gates getting into the gun fight 

[They] have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

I also wanted to speak with Cliff about the NRA's continued hypocrisy, this time in the wake of Ferguson and their failure to defend the African American community there. 

But, of course, we talked at length about this tragedy that killed a 39-year old man, and will forever haunt a 9-year old little girl.

Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined me in the first hour of today's show. She pointed out that accidents preventable shooting deaths like this have happened before. 

We also spoke about the racial divide, not only in Ferguson, MO but all over this nation, that's been amplified since the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Susie has a piece up at C&L , "In Ferguson, Black Drivers Are Profitable Cash Cows For Town's Coffers," about the racial makeup of traffic stops in that town, something that's echoed in small towns across the USA.  We also discussed the plight of TV & film producer Charles Belk, in LA for the Emmys, who was detained by Beverly Hill police for being a tall, bald, black man. He posted his first hand account of what was done to him  on Facebook. It's a travesty.

Then there's the shooting death of John Crawford III in Ohio, killed by police in Walmart for carrying a toy gun he got off a shelf in the toy department.

These stories are all too plentiful, and they must stop.

I've been asking what the spark that'll light the fuse to get Americans off our asses to make sure things change. I think Mike Brown's death was the spark, but it's a very, very long fuse.

Anonymous is trying to take the lead. Operation Ferguson is calling for a General Strike this Friday in the state of Missouri. They've set up a website at with all the info. But here's a taste:

A Message From The Protesters In Ferguson To Anonymous - READ HERE

Press Release READ HERE

Communique READ HERE

Operational Information CLICK HERE

 ACTION ALERT 1: White House Petition To Enact "Mike Brown's Law" - SIGN HERE

ACTION ALERT 2: White House Petition To Remove Governor Nixon From Office - SIGN HERE

Missouri Statewide "Hands Up & Walk Out" General Strike - READ HERE

Real-Time Updated List Of Solidarity Protests - CLICK HERE


I hope the people of Missouri join in. If they don't and this goes nationwide, count me in!

I'll be back tomorrow for the Thursday show. I'll speak with journalist Steven Thrasher and The Brad Blog's Brad Friedman, Radio or Not!


It’s the Economy, Stupid (and the Military Industrial Complex too)




There's no doubt that the spark that lit the fuse in Ferguson was the police shooting of Michael Brown. But you have to wonder how much anger was simmering, how much people were already hurting from decades of building racial tensions and the fact that so many of them are hurting financially.

I don't often agree with Chris Matthews, but he hit the nail on the head last night

The disturbing cell phone video of the other killing of a black man in Missouri by police bullets, this one on Tuesday, was released yesterday. We were told that this one was unquestionably justified (which I believe the video disproves- judge for yourself, but we warned, the video is graphic and very disturbing).

But  the reaction to that shooting was very different from the still-in-progress uproar and massive protests in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown some 9 days earlier, just two miles away.

Perhaps the way the authorities handled the moments following the shooting, when St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson crossed the police tape line to speak directly with the people in the crowd that gathered.

But the mayor did something unusual, as he recounted to Chris Hayes last night on All In (pertinent part comes in at 4:49)

St. Louis Mayor Slay (yes, that really is his ironic name) said

I sent some staff members out there to get a sense of what's going on in the crowd, talk to some of the people there, listen to their concerns. And one message that kept coming, over and over again by a number of those out there was "hey, we're out here protesting, but we could use a job. We need to be employed, we need to be able to support ourselves and our families." So, I had my workforce development director and his team out there. We signed up at least 85-90 people into programs that help them learn how to look for a job, and for job training programs as well.

Maybe the peace was kept in St. Louis because the people who turned out in dismay and disbelief after yet another young,black male was shot and killed by police thought that, this time, perhaps someone might be able to help them.

I don't know, and know that the video of that shooting is out, things might not be so peaceful tonight.

But one thing is apparent, people are hurting and need help.

Sasha Abramsky was on the show last year when his book The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives was first released. He joined me again today as the paperback is being released, and we discussed how the events in Ferguson have likely been exacerbated by the poor economic condition of so many of that town's citizens.

And finally, Congressman Alan Grayson joined me to talk about his efforts to prevent the type of militarized police situation we witnessed in Ferguson from becoming a reality.

On June 8, 2014, The New York Times published  "War Gear Flows to Police Departments," an article detailing the transfer of  thousands of pieces of "surplus military gear and equipment" to local police departments under the Department of Defense Excess Personal Property 1033 Program.

That article, in part, prompted the congressman to introduce an amendment to the DOD authorization act on June 19:

H.AMDT.918 (A052)
Amends: H.R.4870
Sponsor: Rep GraysonAlan [FL-9] (offered 6/19/2014)

An amendment to prohibit use of funds to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons through the DOD Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.

Although Congressman Grayson had secured 19 Republican votes, assuring its passage if the Democrats stood with him and voted for the amendment, it failed by a vote of 62-355 in what he described on the show this morning as the worst any of his amendments has ever fared!

To hear the story of how this amendment was brought down by a so-called Democrat, just watch my conversation about it with Howie Klein from Monday's show:

It's enough to make you sick.

Just a few days after the amendment failed, the ACLU issued this excellent report that everyone should read, titled, "The War Comes Home."

Keep in mind that when "boys with toys" get overwhelmed, they often do really stupid things... like St. Ann Detective Corporal Ray Albers, aka Officer "Go Fuck Yourself" who should never be allowed near such weapons, let alone carry one on the streets of Ferguson, MO, where this video was shot.

Scary stuff...

I'll be back tomorrow to wrap up the week with Stephen Goldstein's "No More Bullshit Minute" and, from my musical archives, an interview with performance form Tori Amos... Radio or Not.


What's the Matter with America?


Nicole Sandler


As evidenced by the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO over the past 10 days, there's a lot wrong with America. Some of the problems are within the president's authority to fix. Thomas Frank  joined me in the last half-hour of today's show to talk about the three he outlined in his latest piece at Salon, "How to Wreck the GOP in 3 Easy Steps."

Of course, his suggestions would only wreck the GOP's chances of taking over the Senate in November, and bolster the Democrats', and make the country better for those of us struggling to get through each month.

This action by President Obama would also probably help to quell the unrest in Ferguson, MO and fend off similar future demonstrations of frustration and anger that will undoubtedly pop up around the nation. But as long as the needs of hurting citizens are ignored, the more we'll see people taking to the streets.

Attorney General Eric Holder is headed to Ferguson today. This morning, his open letter to the citizens of that town appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Although he sounded some of the right notes, he also proved to be as tone-deaf as MO Gov. Jay Nixon with proclamations like this:

In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson.

There's a reason the chant "No Justice, No Peace" has resonated so clearly with so many. He's got it backwards..

I began the show today by reading that letter, then recounting my own horrible experience with law enforcement both recently and a few years ago when I was not only arrested for trying to ask my then-congressman a question at an event that was supposed to be a "town hall meeting," then being sprayed with pepper foam while in the custody of the Broward County jail.

I told that story again because of an Op-Ed published in yesterday's Washington Post, written by Sunil Dutta, identified as "a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, has been an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years."

Aside from the sickening realizion that "homeland security" is a course of study at at least one American university, the content of Mr. Dutta's editorial underscored the need to revisit the "authority" granted to those who wear badges and carry guns.

It begins benignly enough

A teenager is fatally shot by a police officer; the police are accused of being bloodthirsty, trigger-happy murderers; riots erupt. This, we are led to believe, is the way of things in America. It is also a terrible calumny (a false and slanderous statement.) ; cops are not murderers. No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed. And while they’re unlikely to defend it quite as loudly during a time of national angst like this one, people who work in law enforcement know they are legally vested with the authority to detain suspects — an authority that must sometimes be enforced. Regardless of what happened with Mike Brown, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.

But then descends into a state of power crazed madness

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?


But if you believe (or know) that the cop stopping you is violating your rights or is acting like a bully, I guarantee that the situation will not become easier if you show your anger and resentment. Worse, initiating a physical confrontation is a sure recipe for getting hurt. Police are legally permitted to use deadly force when they assess a serious threat to their or someone else’s life. Save your anger for later, and channel it appropriately. Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you. We have a justice system in which you are presumed innocent; if a cop can do his or her job unmolested, that system can run its course. Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.

As I learned the hard way, innocent citizens who are brutalized by power drunk megalomaniacs often have no recourse. I didn't.

Susie Madrak, managing editor of Crooks & Liars, joins me every Wednesday morning. Today, she sent along a video that every manly man should watch. It's a great lesson to authority figures everywhere who might wield some modicum of power to show how to use it in a positive way.

And finally, a big "You Go Girl" to Mo'ne Davis, the first girl ever to pitch a shut out in the Little League World Series. She takes the mound again tonight.

I'll be drinking lots of fluids and downing some chicken soup today in a quest to rid myself of this summer cold and will be back tomorrow with author Sasha Abramsky and Congressman Alan Grayson, Radio or Not!


Peace & Palast


Nicole Sandler

What a difference a day makes!

The protests last night in Ferguson, MO were of a much different tone - because the police that were present actually joined with the people of the community, marching with them, listening to them.

In the photo above, the uniformed man marching next to a woman carrying a sign is Captain Ron Johnson, the head of the Missouri State Troopers, now charged with heading up the law enforcement effort in Ferguson. The day began with more of what the people were asking for: the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown: Darren Wilson.

Apparently Officer Wilson has been with the department for six years, with no disciplinary record. Unfortunately, the other thing they did at the presser in which Wilson's name was divulged was to blame the victim.

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson then distributed a 19-page incident report about a "strong arm robbery" that happened moments before Brown was killed, in which Brown is alleged to have stolen some cigars from a convenience store.

Ferguson Incident Report

The report was accompanied by this page of still photos from the convenience store surveillance video, identifying someone alleged to be Michael Brown, as tweeted by Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly

Even if Michael Brown did commit a robbery, that's no justification for a police officer to shoot him dead.

Stay tuned... and let's hope the calm holds tonight...

Today on the show

It's always great to hear from Greg Palast, but especially great to hear him so fired up not long after he had quadruple bypass surgery!

As he's been doing for a while now, he's got his sites set on Paul "the vulture" singer, a truly evil hedge fund billionaire/crook who brought down the nation of Argentina!  Follow the link and read the story, and listen to our conversation on today's show. Learn more by reading Greg's New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the must-read story about Singer's criminal activities that reads like a crime novel, Vultures’ Picnic.

Flashback Friday

We end each week with a blast from my music radio past. Today, we ventured back to June 19, 2000 for a session with Shivaree, a great band fronted by Ambrosia Parsley- years before she sang the news on Air America Radio's Unfiltered with Rachel Maddow and Lizz Winstead.

And from July 20, 1999, my conversation with -and performance by Chrissie Hynde and Adam Seymour of Pretenders.

And with that, it's the weekend. We'll be back Monday with Howie Klein and another installment of The Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie. Plus Nicole Belle returns to talk about the end of the David Gregory era at Meet The Press.

Keep the peace... radio or not!