It's a little ironic that the Electoral College—the very institution that got us into this mess—now holds the only hope of getting us out. It's admittedly a very faint glimmer of hope, but not an impossibility: Trump's electors could refuse to vote for him, and effectively nullify the election. The fact that Hillary won the popular vote gives the idea a moral and political credence. Yes, a general revolt of the Electoral College is utterly unprecedented in American history—but then, so is the election of a balls-out fascist as president. And there have been decisive outbursts before in American history of Mugwumpery—sensible Republicans so aghast at their party's own candidate that they defect to the Democrats. A New York Times primer on the Electoral College explores the question:
A federal judge on Oct. 25 ordered (PDF) Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be tried on a charge of criminal contempt. Judge Susan Bolton of the US District Court for the District of Arizona made the order after determining that Arpaio disobeyed a court order in a racial profiling case. This comes after Judge G Murray Snow requested that the US Attorney's Office file criminal contempt charges against Arpaio. The criminal contempt charges are a result of a 2007 lawsuit claiming that Arpaio discriminated against Latinos in his enforcement of his immigration patrols. Bolton found that Snow had prohibited Arpaio from enforcing his immigration patrols, in which persons were detained without state charges, but that Arpaio continued to detain such persons and deliver them to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement when there were no charges to bring. Bolton ordered Arpaio's trial for Dec. 6 in Phoenix. The charges against Arpaio could result in fines or prison time if he is convicted.
Amid a shameful paucity of media coverage, inmates at facilities in several states have organized work stoppages following a call for a nationwide prison strike to begin on Sept. 9—the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Organizers say inmates in at least 29 prisons in 12 states have launched strikes, with an unprecedented more than 24,000 prisoners participating. "This is a call to end slavery," reads the official call for the strike, issued by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. "They cannot run these facilities without us." While there have been prison strikes before—two earlier this year, in Texas and Alabama—this marks the first one to be nationally coordinated. Prisoners are using social media and smuggled cell phones to organize the national strike.
The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Oct. 3 affirmed (PDF) an Indiana district court ruling that blocked the state government's effort to prevent resettlement of Syrian refugee families in the state. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration. The complaint (PDF) alleged that Indiana Governor Mike Pence violated the Constitution and federal law, specifically the Refugee Act, by attempts to interfere with resettlement of Syrian refugees. In an opinion by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit agreed:
The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued a report Sept. 26 concluding that African Americans are owed reparations for historical and ongoing "racial terrorism." The report to the UN Human Rights Council (PDF) emphasized that this legcy continues in the recent spate of police killings of Black youth: "In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching." The panel warned of "impunity for state violence" creating a "human rights crisis" that "must be addressed as a matter of urgency... The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population." (Atlanta Daily World, Sept. 29; Washington Post, Sept. 27)
A new report compiled by California State University, San Bernardino finds a dramatic increase in hate crimes in 2015, particularly those targeting Muslims and Arab-Americans. The study compiled data from 20 states, representing over 53% of the national population. Overall hate crimes across the 20 states increased by about five percent. However, hate crimes against Muslims increased by 78%. The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes committed in these 20 states alone (196) is so high that even if no other hate crimes were reported in any other states, it would still signal the highest increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes since shortly after the 9-11 attacks in 2001. Hate crimes against Arab-Americans increased by over 200%, while attacks against transgender individuals increased about 40%, although the researchers warn this could be affected by improvements in data collection. The director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the university believes the rise may be caused in part by the political discourse in the country, and slight increases are noticed after a candidate makes incendiary comments about the Muslim population. Official statistics for 2015 from the FBI are due to be released in November.
Well, isn't this cute. Talking Points Memo notes that when Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein supped with Putin at a Moscow confab sponsored by Kremlin state media mouthpiece RT in December, also on hand was Donald Trump's military advisor, retired General Mike Flynn. The same Mike Flynn who has called for the "destruction of Raqqa" to defeat ISIS, and boasts that he is "at war with Islam," The Intercept informs us. Yet Stein, in her viral YouTube statement from Red Square during the trip, filled with predictable "anti-war" rhetoric, had not a syllable of criticism either for Flynn or for her Kremlin hosts—who were then (as now) busy bombing the crap out of Syria.
The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has engaged in tactics that violate the First and Fourth Amendments and numerous anti-discrimination laws, according to a report released by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) on Aug. 10. The report is centered on the use of excessive force and illegal stops, seizures and searches, especially within the African American community. Most at fault for the systemic discrimination, the DoJ said, are "deficient policies, training and accountability systems," including the "zero-tolerance" street enforcement. A variety of statistics were used to highlight the problem within the Baltimore force, including a finding that African Americans accounted for over 80% of all BPD vehicle stops, despite white individuals being found with contraband twice as often.