Thursday, October 24, 2013

progressing to sensible gun control in Chicago

Three things Chicago could do about guns.

  1. Publish chain of ownership of firearms used in homicides and illegal public shootings where lives are put at risk. 
  2. Fine people who sell firearms but report them stolen. 
  3. Apply an annual registration fee on some firearms.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Using elections to end the perpetual war

The American people have become weary of the open-ended, blank-check war initiated in response the 9/11 attacks over twelve years ago.

My sense is that people vaguely suspect three things about the conflict:
  1.       The actual perpetrators have either been caught or killed;
  2.       The war has become a self-perpetuating bureaucratic entity that has made itself immune from accountability;
  3.       The national security state has taken power granted in response to the 9/11 attacks and used these powers against the American people or reserves the right to use them against political dissenters, like the Occupy movement.

I propose forming a coalition to end the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after the 9/11 attacks.

Friday, September 6, 2013

preventing chemical weapons from being used in Syria by Carl Nyberg

Even if you accept the one-sided version of the Syria conflict that Bashar al-Assad is evil incarnate and the rebels are heroically struggling against an oppressive regime...

President Barack Obama has failed to persuasively explain how bombing Syria prevents chemical weapons from being used again. Obama has attempted to get diplomatic cover for attacking Syria at the G-20, from the Arab League, at UN Security Council and from NATO. So far, Obama has failed to get a majority to even censure Assad.

Apparently, other countries noticed how UN Security Council resolutions criticizing Iraq got misinterpreted by the United States during the Bush administration.

If the goal is to keep poison gas from being used in Syria's civil war, I have a plan that I'm pretty sure will work. Of course, if the goal is to put the might of the U.S. military on the side of the rebels... well, that's a different project.

Friday, August 30, 2013

empower UN Security Council to freeze war crimes charges when peace settlement reached

Today during MoveOn's online “SyriaTown Hall”, Phyllis Bennis made an important point about seeking indictments for war crimes in ongoing conflicts. Once a party is indicted, his incentive to negotiate an end to the conflict decreases.

I personally favor handling the allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria as war crimes. The UNSecurity Council should refer the matter to the InternationalCriminal Court (ICC).

But if the Obama administration is correct—the U.S. government has lied about these things in the past—and the Assad government did order chemical weapons attacks, sending the matter to the ICC could be an impediment to negotiating a settlement.

I propose the concept of freezing charges at the ICC. In cases where the allegations are referred to the ICC, the allegations could have a rider attached to the referral.

The rider would say, if the conflict in Syria reaches a negotiated settlement approved by the UN Security Council the ICC's mandate to investigate and prosecute these war crimes allegations would be frozen. As long as the agreement holds, the prosecutions would not proceed.

This is an imperfect justice. But it also provides the UN Security Council more of a stick to prod parties to the negotiating table.

Friday, August 23, 2013

top four films from Black Harvest Film Festival

For the last few weeks I have been attending the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Destination: Planet Negro

Tonight I saw Destination: Planet Negro written/directed/starring Kevin Willmott. All of the independent feature-length films I've attended at BHFF have been good; Destination: Planet Negro was the best. D:PN was funny, thoughtful and endearing.

The premise is that in the 1930s, Black intellectual leadership bands together to devise a way to escape the BS in America. The inner circle takes the resources for the project and builds a rocket designed to take Blacks to Mars. George Washington Carver synthesizes a particularly potent fuel from peanuts and sweat potatoes.

Monday, July 15, 2013

a conceal carry pledge for Illinois

There have been a variety of responses to the "not guilty" verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. The comfortable middle ground is that verdict was a correct rendering of Florida law. Zimmerman and Martin both made regrettable decisions in hindsight.

I think there are things that the State of Illinois could do to prevent bad outcomes. I want to propose an idea that should not be controversial.

If you are going to carry a firearm in public, you have to live up to higher expectations than the basic person on the street.

Getting a conceal carry permit should require the individual to sign a statement with provisions enforceable in the law. (continued below)

Jason Lee Eaton on Trayvon Martin

Sam Snow posted this video on Facebook without comment approximately 11 AM EDT, Monday, July 15. The comments below are the complete transcript of the Facebook discussion between Jason Lee Eaton (personal blog), Sam Snow and me (Carl Nyberg).

Jason Lee Eaton lists his residency as Cocoa Beach, Florida as of July, 2013 and he's from Homestead, Florida.

 JLE (shortly after the video was posted):
His second point is pure conjecture, and is the crux of the whole issue. 
Whoever initiated the fight is to blame, and that's the one thing we don't know for certain.
SS (about an hour later):
Depends on when you want to call the starting point of the conflict.
For me, it was the instant the neighborhood watch hero decided to follow the kid walking home. You take that away, and you have no conflict, no adult shooting a minor in the chest, no trial.
It isn't that I think Martin was a saint; no 17-year old kid is. I wasn't. But I know damn well that if I were walking home and some stranger came up to me apropos of nothing, you bet your ass I would get anxious. You ever been mugged? That fight or flight adrenaline rush you get? It's like that.
I'm pretty sure that Martin did not engage Zimmerman. In fact, I'm pretty sure that when Zimmerman got the idea to start following this kid, Martin was oblivious. I'm also pretty sure that Zimmerman ignored the 911 dispatcher's advice to not continue pursuit. If you remove Zimmerman from the equation, the story ends like this: Kid walks home from convenience store, then wakes up the next morning.
Now, if this sort of thing is okay, if I am suddenly allowed to pass judgment on any random passersby, confront them, and expect them to respect my assumed authority without punching me in the face and trying to get away, then why bother having a police department at all? We can all be stupid versions of Batman, now. Who needs police training when it turns out a hunch and a CC license is all we ever needed to keep the peace? Hell, Zimmerman is like Oprah for vigilantes.
Never mind that Zimmerman discharged a weapon in his own neighborhood, thereby proving himself to be a greater actual threat to the safety of the people he claimed to be looking out for.
Maybe we don't know for sure who started the actual pushing and shoving, but at the same time Zimmerman had no idea what Martin was up to, and yet he followed and shot the kid anyway. Circumstantial conjecture with a touch of stereotyping thrown in for good measure. That much is true.
Zimmerman, whatever the verdict, still has a kid's blood on his hands. And thought the courts may have absolved him from any wrongdoing, he knows what happened and he will see that dead boy for the rest of his life.
The below transcript shows the instruction by the dispatcher to not follow the kid. We've seen the result. My observation stands, especially with regards to the woman who was given 20 years for firing warning shots with no actual death involved.
This was a high-profile case, and high-profile lawyers and dipshit pundits have been having a field day shaping the way we're supposed to think about this narrative, mostly by giving us partial information or fragmented reports, but none of it would have mattered if Zimmerman had just minded his own business, or, at the very least, had just waited for the actual cops to show up.
SS also included a link to the transcript.

JLE responded:
Following someone is not illegal. Assaulting someone is. The warning shots were into a wall on the other side of which were sleeping children. Thank mandatory minimum sentencing for the result. Warning shots are illegal.
CN responded:
Why would you assume that Trayvon Martin assaulted Zimmerman? Who came to the table looking for a conflict?
Why would you assume Zimmerman assaulted Martin? If he wanted to initiate a confrontation, he could have done so while Trayvon was walking towards his truck.
There is no way to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who initiated the assault. The evidence backs up Zimmerman's story 100%, but still, there isn't enough to prove it conclusively.
Lacking evidence to the contrary, why would I believe differently?
If Zimmerman wanted to avoid a confrontation, he could have, y'know, avoided the confrontation.
CN added:
The thing about hardcore bigots is that they are so invested in their prejudices, they can't evaluate information objectively.
CN more:
Who had the history of being in similar situations? Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman?
And so could trayvon. According to both Zimmerman and his friend Jeanelle, Trayvon initiated the confrontation.
Who initiated the encounter?
I'm not a hardcore racist by any stretch of the imagination.
Yes, in my opinion, Trayvon Martin, motivated by his own racist attitude, felt that he could get away with beating down this cracker, who happened to have a gun.
Zimmerman committed no crime by following him, or calling the police to let them know about the situation. If Trayvon had called the police to report the "creepy ass cracka" instead of thinking with his fists, it would have been a different situation. And if Zimmerman had simply ignored the kid, it would have been a different situation.
And if the kid would have went home, it would have been a different situation.
Instead, I believe he decided to break the law by assaulting Zimmerman, and there is no evidence to prove otherwise.
Hell, when the police told Zimmerman that the whole thing was captured on video he said "Thank God"
Does that sound like the reaction of a man who is lying about what happened? If that video existed there would be no question, so we have to rely on physical evidence (trayvon's knuckle abraisions and lack of defensive wounds, zimmerman's injuries and the grass stains on the back of his jacket) and eyewitness testimony (Trayvon was sitting on Zimmerman's chest pounding his face into the sidewalk).
Even though the defense wasn't allowed to present evidence of Trayvon's predilection for violence, the prosecution didn't have enough to prove Zimmerman started it.
Zimmerman's suspicion didn't harm Trayvon. Zimmerman's observation didn't harm Trayvon. Trayvon's choice to commit felonious assault on a cracka harmed Trayvon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

making elections fair and inclusive in Illinois (amending Illinois Constitution)

Below is a brainstorm amendment to the Illinois Constitution.

It is an attempt to make elections significantly more fair and inclusive.

Elections shall be fair to individuals as well as political, religious, ideological and ethnic minorities. 
All Illinois citizens shall have the right to vote except for individuals convicted of attempting to influence elections through fraud or other criminal acts. 
The State of Illinois shall make voting as accessible as possible through implementing best practices, including those used in other states, countries, jurisdictions or in the past.
How individual citizens vote shall be secret. 
Efforts to prevent election fraud shall be as effective as possible without reducing participation in elections. 
A citizen shall vote from his/her primary residence. 
The definition of "primary residence" shall be established in law by the General Assembly.
Any citizen who does not have a primary residence shall explain under oath why the address s/he is voting from is more appropriate than any other address. 
Illinois shall use voting and tabulation systems and technology secure from tampering, fraud and failure. 
Election results shall be audited for accuracy in accordance with best practices. 
All elections won by less than one quarter of one percent of the votes cast shall be recounted. All campaigns within one percent of victory shall be allowed to witness the count. The General Assembly shall pass law governing the rules for citizens and media to observe the count. 
The General Assembly shall determine when the right to vote is returned to those who have lost the right to vote through criminal acts. 
The citizenry shall have the power to compel the General Assembly to vote on best practices when 100,000 citizens petition the General Assembly to vote on a proposal. If the proposal fails to become law, the petitioners shall be able to challenge existing law in court. If the court determines the proposal is an improvement to existing law, the proposal shall become law.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

increasing accountability on sexual assault in U.S. military

Because I was a whistleblower about misconduct at Navy Recruiting District Chicago and in Navy Recruiting Command I have significant experience of the limitation of the inspector general system.

On July 3, 1996, I contacted the Department of Defense Inspector General who gave my complaints to the Navy Inspector General. It was passed down the chain of command to Navy Recruiting Command. Since part of my allegation was misconduct/negligence by the Navy Recruiting Command Inspector General, a separate O-6 was assigned to investigate the misconduct by three other O-6s and an E-9 (among others) within Navy Recruiting Command.

There is an approach to sexual assault in the military that will provide ongoing pressure for the system to improve and maintain commander discretion for the military. Democracy Now:
Top military leaders appeared before the Senate on Tuesday to refuse calls for independent oversight of sexual assault in the armed forces. The military has faced renewed calls to remove oversight from the chain of command following a report showing around 26,000 sex crimes within the ranks last year.
The military considers commander discretion on disciplinary matters essential to military culture.

Call the approach "oversight and accountability for sexual assault".

  1. If an individual reports sexual assault or sexual harassment to the command, the default will be to be report the incident to an office within DOD IG. This is not a big change in policy since Admiral Mike Boorda enacted mandatory reporting when he was Chief of Naval Operations.
  2. DOD IG will track the resolution the cases.
  3. DOD IG will survey the complainants to see if they are satisfied with the resolution.
  4. When servicemembers and officers are transferred they will be surveyed anonymously about sexual assault and sexual harassment at the commands they are leaving.
  5. DOD will report to Congress annually on the data collected.
  6. When officers are submitted to Congress for promotion to flag ranks, Congress will have access to the data on commands where the officers were either commanders, chief of staff or executive officer.

The military is going to complain about anonymous surveys, but the fallback could be to make the surveys not anonymous and have them submitted three months after transfer. The former admin officer in me makes me think this would be a headache for the gaining command admin/personnel officer.

Friday, May 31, 2013

two things I want regarding gay marriage in Illinois

1. A list of Democratic representatives who refused to publicly commit to supporting gay marriage.

2. Polling data on each one of these representatives.

With these two things, the people can begin to organize themselves.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

BGA should create and enforce a no hate speech policy for its Facebook page

On its Facebook page, the Better Government Association asked me to file a complaint by email about a post on the BGA page that crossed the line to hate speech. BGA's initial reaction was to say that because Daniel Cannucci's statement that Michelle Obama should go back to Kenya wasn't "profane", it didn't violate BGA's standards.

My critique of BGA has two major points.

1. BGA should have a zero-tolerance approach to racism and hate speech. People who engage in racism and hate speech may be part of the "Conservative" political coalition, but they are not part of the good government movement.

2. BGA increasingly seems to be a home for people who hate government. Hating government is not the same as making government less corrupt or more efficient.

Below the fold for more details.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Firearm Owner Funded Buyback Program

The is a correlation between firearm ownership homicide. See Harvard School of Public Health.

Illinois could reduce homicide and gun violence by reducing the number of firearms in circulation. Below is a simple proposal.

Firearm Owner Funded Buyback Program

  1. There would be an annual registration fee per firearm of $10-45.
  2. At least 80% of this money would go to buying-up firearms.
  3. There would be a reward program for tips about people and households keeping unregistered firearms.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Judge Rules Bradley Manning Mistreated; Orders Goofy Remedy

With the caveat that I am not a lawyer...

Judge Lind's response to the government mistreating Bradley Manning seems flawed. Background:
After two weeks of intense litigation by Bradley Manning's defense, and hearing how Quantico brig staff blatantly disregarded Navy Rules in their mistreatment of Bradley, military Judge Denise Lind acknowledged that Bradley was punished unlawfully before trial and she has awarded him 118 days sentencing credit.
This isn't a remedy at all if Manning is found "not guilty".

So, Judge Lind's remedy to the unlawful actions by the government pretty much tells that the trial is a sham. Manning is going to be found guilty.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

IVI-IPO needs more members to be credible

I am the secretary for the South Chapter of IVI-IPO. In the case of the special election to fill the vacancy caused by Jesse Jackson, Jr's(*) resignation, the South Chapter is currently organizing both and endorsement session (January 20th, Regent's Club, 51st & East End) and a candidate forum before January 20th.

The South Chapter is closely aligned with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's Fourth Ward Democratic organization.

One of the things that is frustrating about the instructions I'm getting is the emphasis that the forums and endorsement session are supposed to appear objective.

It's an insult to the intelligence of everyone to pretend that this endorsement is going to be objectively decided.

Ivory Mitchell, the chair of the South Chapter, will make sure that the endorsement session is filled with Preckwinkle loyalists. And these loyalists with endorse the candidate preferred by Preckwinkle.

There are two scenarios where this doesn't happen. 1. If Preckwinkle stays truly neutral. I would be astounded if this happens. 2. If Clerk of the Courts Dorothy Brown decides she wants to order her employees who are members of IVI-IPO to show up and vote for one of the other candidates.

The problem is that IVI-IPO is weak and has willing allowed itself to be taken over by ward organizations.

IVI-IPO needs to get its act together. It needs to accomplish two major things.

1. IVI-IPO needs to have a system of recruiting members beyond relying on politicians to get their employees and loyalists to buy membership dues.

2. IVI-IPO needs to take seriously the organization's credibility problems in the larger Chicago progressive community. (Outside Chicago, few know what IVI-IPO is.)

* When IVI-IPO voted to endorse Jackson in 2012, I was the only person in the room who did not vote to endorsed Jackson.