The police are never wrong

This would seem cut and dried to me:

Here is my best distillation (based on detailed findings made by the district judge after a five-day bench trial):

In October 2010, officers were searching for a “parolee-at-large” who allegedly had been spotted bicycling in front of a suspected drug-trafficking house in suburban Los Angeles. Officers, who had no warrant to search or arrest, went to the house, announced themselves to the owner, and gained entry by threatening to force their way in. (The parolee was not there.)

Meanwhile, officers Christopher Conley and Jennifer Pederson went to “clear the backyard.” After entering the yard and checking some small metal storage boxes, the two officers came to a dilapidated wooden “shack” that (as the district court found) they could not “reasonably” have believed to be unoccupied. The shack had various signs of occupancy, and a lead officer testified that he had advised the deputies that a man named Angel lived in a shed in the yard with his pregnant girlfriend. (The district judge found that both deputies had heard this advisement, and that if they had not then they had “unreasonably failed to pay attention.”) With his gun drawn, Conley pulled open the door of the shack.

The Mendezes were resting on a futon; Angel kept a BB gun next to his bed to shoot pests. When he heard the deputies’ entry, he picked up the BB gun to move it so he could get up. (Whether the gun was “pointed at” the deputies remains disputed, but the trial judge found Mendez was moving it innocently, merely “to help him sit up.”) Conley shouted “gun,” and the deputies fired 15 bullets at the two occupants. Mendez, severely injured, exclaimed, “I didn’t know it was you guys. It was a BB gun….”

No criminal case was filed against the officers, but the courts did award the Mendezes $4 million in damages in a civil suit. The case is now at the Supreme Court to review that award. I wonder what would have happened if Angel had had a real gun and killed one of the officers?

Crime in New York City

The crime rate in New York City is lower than it’s been in generations:

New York City finished 2016 tied for its second lowest number of homicides in the modern era of record keeping, driving the city’s rate for each 100,000 residents to the lowest level among major U.S. cities except San Diego.

NYPD figures show 335 killings last year, down from 352 in 2015. The fewest killings were in 2014, with 333; 2013 also recorded 335 homicides. The 2016 number is preliminary and might be adjusted upward if certain cases are reclassified as homicides.

Total shootings, defined as discharge of a gun in which someone is injured, totaled 998, down from more than 1,100 in the prior year.

Since hitting a record high of 2,245 homicides in 1989, New York City killings have declined markedly and are comparable to what the city experienced in the 1960s, when record keeping differed from the CompStat method initiated in 1994 by then-commissioner William Bratton.

And it could be even lower if other states had stronger gun laws:

A gun-trafficking ring in Virginia brought more than 200 legally purchased guns up the I-95 corridor to New York, where they unwittingly sold them to an undercover detective, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

The indictment of 627 counts charged 24 people, some of whom have violent criminal records and ties to the Bloods street gang, with conspiracy and illegal weapons sale and possession. In all, the authorities recovered 217 guns, including 41 assault weapons like AK-47s, AR-15s and a Thompson submachine gun.

In a phone call in September, Antwan Walker, of Highland Springs, Va., said it was to buy guns in Virginia.

“There is no limits to how many guns I can go buy from the store, you know what I mean?” he said.

But we have to allow such people to buy an almost unlimited number of guns because FREEDOM.

Jeff Sessions shows his critics were right

Jeff Sessions isn’t a racist it’s just that his policies seem to be … or something. Let’s see what Jeff did the last two days of Black History Month:

  • He dropped an objection to a voter ID law in Texas:

The Republican-led Texas Legislature passed one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country in 2011, requiring voters to show a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

The Obama administration’s Justice Department sued Texas to block the law in 2013 and scored a major victory last year after a federal appeals court ruled that the law needed to be softened because it discriminated against minority voters who lacked the required IDs.

Opponents of the law said Republican lawmakers selected IDs that were most advantageous for Republican-leaning white voters and discarded IDs that were beneficial to Democratic-leaning minority voters. For example, legislators included licenses to carry concealed handguns, which are predominantly carried by whites, and excluded government employee IDs and public university IDs, which are more likely to be used by blacks, Hispanics and Democratic-leaning younger voters.

But the Justice Department under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a judge on Monday that it was withdrawing its claim that Texas enacted the law with a discriminatory intent.

Just ignore this

So we get a racist shooting in Kansas:

A 51-year-old man faces first-degree murder charges after shooting three men in an Olathe, Kan., bar Wednesday night, police say, reportedly telling two of them, local Garmin engineers from India, to “get out of my country.”

One of the Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, died in the hospital later from his wounds.

Adam W. Purinton, 51, of Olathe, was also charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting two other patrons at Austin’s Bar and Grill: Alok Madasani, 32, of Overland Park, Kan., and 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene.

The shooter  doesn’t seem to be Muslim so obviously this isn’t terrorism and there’s no need for Donald Trump to tweet about it. After all, Donald Trump knows that we don’t have to worry about right-wing terrorists.

Corruption, Donald Trump style

This past week has been a showcase for how Donald Trump does business. He settled in the suit against Trump University:

Phony is right; one pillar of Schneiderman’s lawsuit was that Trump had not even bothered to get his “university” licensed by New York state as a bona fide educational institution.

Trump University, it will be recalled, was pitched to the unwary as an opportunity to learn “the Trump process for investing in today’s once-in-a-lifetime real estate market” from a cadre of Trump’s “hand-picked” instructors. Schneiderman alleged that this was false. Of the instructors, “not a single one was ‘handpicked’ by Donald Trump.” Some had little real-estate experience at all, and some actually had gone bankrupt in the business.

We also find that his ‘charity’ broke the law:

President-elect Donald Trump’s charity has admitted that it violated IRS regulations barring it from using its money or assets to benefit Trump, his family, his companies, or substantial contributors to the foundation.

The admissions by the Donald J. Trump Foundation were made in a 2015 tax filing made public after a presidential election in which it was revealed that Trump has used the charity to settle lawsuits, make a $25,000 political contribution and purchase items such as a painting of himself that was displayed at one of his properties.

We also find the Donald thinks that Presidents are allowed to be corrupt:

He declared that “the law’s totally on my side” when it comes to questions about conflict of interest and ethics laws. “The president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

He said it would be extremely difficult to sell off his businesses because they are real estate holdings. He said that he would “like to do something” to address ethics concerns, and he noted that he had turned over the management of the businesses to his children.

But he insisted that he could still have business partners into the White House for grip-and-grin photographs. He said that critics were pressuring him to go beyond what he was willing to do, including distancing himself from his children while they run his businesses.

“If it were up to some people,” he said, “I would never, ever see my daughter Ivanka again.”

Trump rejected the idea that he was bound by federal anti-nepotism laws against installing his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in a White House job.

And it seems that the people with him are following his lead:

Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon accepted $376,000 in pay over four years for working 30 hours a week at a tiny tax-exempt charity in Tallahassee while also serving as the hands-on executive chairman of Breitbart News Network.

During the same four-year period, the charity paid about $1.3 million in salaries to two other journalists who said they put in 40 hours a week there while also working for the politically conservative news outlet, according to publicly available documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

Donald Trump does corruption bigly.

Trump’s lips move, which means he lying

So, Donald Trump gave a speech in Portland, Maine:

In his remarks on terrorism, Trump paid particular attention to Maine’s Somali refugees.

“We’ve just seen many, many crimes getting worse all the time, and as Maine knows — a major destination for Somali refugees — right, am I right? Well, they’re all talking about it. Maine. Somali refugees. We admit hundreds of thousands — you admit, into Maine, and to other places in the United States — hundreds of thousands of refugees,” Trump said.

Let’s see how things really are:

In Lewiston, where an estimated 7,000 Somalis live, police said Friday that crime is going down, not up.

“The Somalis have not caused any increase in crime. They’re integrated here in our city,” the acting police chief, Brian O’Malley, said Friday. “The Somalis come here because they want somewhere safe and good schools to raise their kids, and that’s what Lewiston has.”

Crime in the city fell 17 percent in 2015 compared with the year before, continuing a steady, downward trend, O’Malley said.

So an ignorant lie, typical of Trump. You might notice another lie in that short bit by Trump: crime in general is going down. He also through this in:

“If we keep going the way it is, our whole country is becoming different,” he said. “They’re shooting our police at record levels.”

The article doesn’t even bother to note that police are not being shot at record levels. Trump lies so often, it’s impossible to correct all his lies.

Some good news

Given the dystopia that Donald Trump paints for the current state of the US, it’s good to look at actual statistics to see what’s really happening:

  • Violence is way down from its peak in the 1990’s (although there is some sign that it might have increased a bit in the last year or so):

From 1993 to 2014, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 20.1 per 1,000.

Since 1993, the rate of property crime declined from 351.8 to 118.1 victimizations per 1,000 households.

The number of murders in New York City really drives this home: there were 2262 murders in 1990 and 352 in 2015. That is an astonishing drop.

The national teen pregnancy rate has declined almost continuously over the last two decades. The teen pregnancy rate includes pregnancies that end in a live birth, as well as those that end in abortion or miscarriage (fetal loss).* Between 1990 and 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), the teen pregnancy rate declined by 51 percent—from 116.9 to 57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teen girls.

For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

  • The private sector has been adding jobs for the longest stretch ever:

The White House is right about the numbers. The “longest streak” claim was true in 2014, as the Washington Post’s Fact Checker found back then, and the streak has only grown. This was the 73rd straight recorded month of private sector job growth (barring revisions).

  • Drug use is down among teens (this is from June 2016):

This year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of drug use and attitudes among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders continues to show encouraging news, with decreasing use of alcohol, cigarettes, and many illicit drugs over the last 5 years—many to their lowest levels since this survey’s inception; no increase in use of marijuana among teens; decreasing use of synthetic drugs; and decreasing misuse of prescription drugs. However, the survey highlighted continuing concerns over the high rate of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use and softening of attitudes around some types of drug use, particularly a continued decrease in perceived harm of marijuana use.

For many substances, past-year use has declined to the lowest levels since the MTF survey began. This includes heroin, synthetic cannabinoids, Vicodin®, methamphetamine, amphetamines, inhalants, Ecstasy, alcohol, and cigarettes, among all ages surveyed; hallucinogens, Ritalin®, OxyContin®, bath salts, and over-the-counter cough medicines among 8th and 10th graders; cocaine among 8th and 12th graders; and prescription pain relievers (narcotics other than heroin), sedatives, and crystal methamphetamine in 12th graders (the only grade sampled for these substances). Past-year use of illicit drugs was reported by 23.6 percent of 12th graders.

There are still large problems in the US, but, in many ways, the US is in better shape than ever.

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