Opinion: Get the police out of Ferguson

Nobody talks much about the 3rd Amendment. Everyone knows the 1st. There’s entirely too much hubbub about the 2nd. Most people know there used to be a 4th and a 5th. But what about the 3rd ?

For any non-constitutional scholars or anyone who’s forgotten middle school civics, the 3rd Amendment reads: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Most casual observers don’t consider the statement especially relevant. There are no soldiers stationed in America against anyone’s consent. Or are there? Continue reading

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If Ferguson police want an end to violence, they should stop acting violently

What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri is not unprecedented. Police violence in the US has been escalating for years. Given the context of Nixon’s war on drugs, crack’s urban proliferation following the CIA’s funding of cocaine-dealing Contras, and the post-9/11 world of heavily-armed storm troopers kicking ass on Main Street, it’s not difficult to understand how tensions explode between a population and its police force. Continue reading

Robin Williams’s death brings out our basic humanity

I wish I could say something meaningful about the death of Robin Williams. But I never knew him, of course, and though I always respected and admired his unique expressive gift, I didn’t even have that close a relationship with his output – at least, I didn’t think I did. Yet when I heard, I immediately felt like I had to say something. As I processed those feelings, I came to realize: this is a pretty singular moment in art and society. Continue reading

Toledo algae bloom forces a reset of priorities; challenges definition of “safe”

Last week, the nearly half-million residents of Toledo, Ohio were given a grim warning: “Don’t drink the water.” Due to an enormous toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie, dangerous levels of the poisonous bacterial product microcystin entered Toledo’s water supply, prompting Governor John Kasich to declare a state of emergency.

I don’t mind telling you I’m from that area. I live in Texas now, but regularly entertain thoughts of moving home, partly because of the water. The Great Lakes region – the world’s most plentiful freshwater source – may one day be a mecca amid widespread desertification. But if the water is poisoned, it’ll hardly remain attractive for long. Continue reading