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Giuliani’s claim: 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks

Giuliani’s claim: 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks

Giuliani faced major backlash by critics for his comments during a “Meet the Press” segment on the anticipated grand jury decision on whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Giuliani’s comment sparked a heated exchange with Georgetown Professor and MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson over policing and crime in black communities.

Referencing a Washington Post analysis, host Chuck Todd asked Giuliani about ways to address discrepancies between the racial makeup of cities’ police forces and the communities they serve. Giuliani pivoted to discuss intraracial homicide in the black community.

After noting how he diversified the New York City police force, Giuliani said it was very disappointing that “we are not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks.” The implication was that the so-called black-on-black crime was far more common than white-on-black crime, so the attention should be paid on the former.

It quickly became personal. Giuliani and Dyson talked over each other for most of the 2-minute banter. Eventually, Giuliani uttered the line that went viral almost immediately (“White police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other.”) and Dyson fired back at the “defensive mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind, sir.” (That comment also was picked up widely by Dyson’s critics.)


Showing a map of cities with the greatest discrepancy between the police racial makeup and the community they serve, Todd asked: “All of those could be future Fergusons. How do you make a police force that looks like the community they serve?”

Giuliani responded by citing a statistic from a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report which did, indeed, conclude that 93 percent of black homicide victims from 1980 through 2008 were killed by black offenders. The statement implied that intraracial violence in black communities is uniquely bad. Giuliani later repeated this statistic in a FOX News interview.

The statement lacks significant context.

As our colleague Philip Bump at The Fix noted, Giuliani omitted the comparable statistic in the report for white homicide victims: 84 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders.

The rate of intraracial homicide in the black community is the reason for the heavy police presence, Giuliani said, and it should be the subject of discussion because it’s so much more prevalent than the shooting of a black victim by a white police officer.

Dyson fired back, calling Giuliani’s explanation “false equivalency” and that police should be held to a higher standard, as they are acting as agents of the state.

In an interview with The Fact Checker, Giuliani agreed that most murders, black or white, are intraracial. Asked why he didn’t note the other half of the statistic in his interview, Giuliani said there “are very few” white intraracial murders compared to black intraracial murders.

It is true that the rate of black homicide victims and offenders were disproportionately represented compared to the general population, the 2011 BJS report found. The black victimization rate (27.8 per 100,000) was six times higher than the white victimization rate (4.5 per 100,000). Black offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was almost eight times higher than whites (4.5 per 100,000), according to the report.


“The danger to a black child in America is not a white police officer. That’s going to happen less than 1 percent of the time. The danger to a black child … is another black,” Giuliani said. “If my child was shot by a police officer, I would be very, very frustrated. I’d also be frustrated if my son was shot by a gangster in the street. But if the chances were — that my son would be shot by the gangster in the street — nine times out of 10, I’d spend an awful lot of time on the nine times out of 10.”

ESPN: Family demands for money threatened to ruin Cowboys' Tyron Smith

Tyron Smith

Family demands for money threatened to ruin Cowboys' Tyron Smith

By Tim Keown |

HERE'S A CHALLENGE: Imagine what it feels like to be 21 years old, extremely successful, famously wealthy, wildly stressed and unbearably miserable. How, you might wonder, can all those conditions exist simultaneously?

Start here, with Cowboys All-Pro offensive tackle Tyron Smith, talking to his mother on the phone one day in 2012, his second year in the NFL, during a time of growing tension between him and his family over money issues.

"We've found a house," Frankie Pinkney told her son.

By this stage, wariness had become as intrinsic to Smith's identity as his brown eyes and bookcase shoulders. Silently, he awaited details. He had agreed to purchase a home in Southern California for his mother and stepfather. They would live in it; he would own it as an investment. The agreed-upon budget was roughly $300,000, but over the course of the conversation, Frankie dropped the bomb. List price: more like $800,000.

Smith, now 23, is sitting at a polished wood table in the conference room of his lawyer's Dallas office. Surrounded by his girlfriend, accountant and lawyer, he fixes his eyes on a spot somewhere high on the floor-to-ceiling window. "Yeah, my parents wanted a house," Smith says. "But it was way bigger than mine and cost way more than mine."

"That call," he says. "That was the point where I said, 'That's enough.'"


Smith spent much of his elementary school years working for the family business. Pinkney's Cleaning Service specialized in cleaning new buildings after construction was complete but before tenants moved in. Family members would often climb into that van, drive from their home in Moreno Valley, California, to Phoenix or Sacramento or anywhere in between, clean a building and then pile back into the van for a return drive that could last seven hours. They'd pull into the driveway at 4 or 5 a.m., and Tyron and his five siblings -- a mixture of half brothers, half sisters, stepbrothers and step­sisters -- would be at school by 8.

When he was chosen No. 9 in the draft, he was 20, the youngest player in the NFL. He signed a four-year, $12.5 million contract, bought his mom a Range Rover and vowed to pay off his parents' mortgage and retire the family's debts. "I didn't think I owed them anything," Smith says. "I just really wanted to help out. I know how hard the struggle is, and growing up we always had to worry about debt. That was my thing: Use this money to pay off your house, pay your debt and be free of all that stuff."

Later, Smith discovered the money he provided wasn't used for those purposes. Asked how it was spent, Smith shrugs, betraying no emotion. "We don't know," he says. A direct line could be drawn connecting that moment to the moment he hung up the phone because it marked the beginning of a gradual erosion of trust and control. His humanity vanished beneath a barrage of requests. He was no longer son or brother or friend. He began to feel like a human Santa list, robbed of his capacity to be generous.

"The things that were asked for as gifts shocked me," he says. "All I could think to say was, 'Hey, that sounds really expensive.'"

He paid for airline tickets so strangers and near strangers could accompany his parents to games in Dallas. He paid for game tickets (players get only two comps), parking and food. He paid for hotel rooms or let the guests stay in his home.

"Tyron deferred to the mom, who deferred to the stepdad, who had his own mindset on what he deserved and what he should get," says a family associate with knowledge of the situation. "Tyron's a great kid. He was young and overwhelmed."

And so he relented. The myth, after all, demanded he remember where he came from, and a sort of achiever's guilt took over. His family was still back in Moreno Valley, still doing the job he had worked so hard to avoid. He started to think: Maybe I don't deserve all this money. When his financial adviser would call for authorization to transfer funds to his family, he'd say, "Yeah, just transfer it over." They wore him down. Inside, it tore him up.

Studies indicate that 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt within two years of retirement. How many of those bankruptcies can be attributed to the gradual erosion of control, the constant drip of family and friends asking for money and the unwillingness to confront it? John Schorsch, Smith's lawyer, estimates that the family received roughly $1 million from Tyron's accounts over one year.

"I'm not trying to be hurtful, but I'm not making this money so other people can live off it," Smith says. "You have to understand: This game doesn't last long at all."

Tyron Smith, Leigh Costa

After his mother's request for the $800,000 home, Smith made a last-ditch effort. He placed a call to Moreno Valley, saying, "I love you all, and you mean the world to me, but all this money stuff is stressing me out. Can we just have a great relationship?"

But the lines had been drawn. "We kept getting voice mails and emails threatening all kinds of things," Costa says. Smith and Costa enlisted Schorsch to handle the legal affairs. They cut ties with Smith's financial adviser and made the myth-defying move of hiring Bill Saplicki, a Dallas accountant who was recommended to Costa and who works primarily with doctors and dentists and precisely one professional athlete.

In the summer of 2012, Schorsch filed to have a protective order placed against Smith's parents and siblings, prohibiting them from having contact with him. The event that precipitated the protective order occurred on June 16 when Smith's mother and stepfather confronted him publicly while he was working at a youth football camp at his alma mater, Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley. "We did as little as possible to accomplish as much as possible," Schorsch says. And yet on the night of Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, with Smith at the team hotel on the eve of a home game against the Giants, two of his sisters arrived unannounced at the home Smith shared with Costa in North Dallas.

The doorbell rang, and Costa looked through the glass in the door and froze.

"You need to let us in this house," one of them said.


Smith is mellow, with the voice of a late-night DJ on a smooth-jazz station. He is almost allergic to attention; rather than speak to reporters, he sometimes stays in the training room after practice or games while a team employee delivers his clothes. He plays with a composed, almost detached air, like a man at peace with the violence of his profession. (During a game in late October, however, he did trade punches with Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.) His ability is unquestioned: He is widely considered one of the top three offensive tackles in the game, and for his play against the Seahawks in Week 6, he became the first offensive lineman in 10 years to be named offensive player of the week.

He treats money the way most people treat a gym membership: It's there, and he'll use it if he needs it. In July, he signed an eight-year extension, making his contract now worth a potential $109 million, with $22.1 million of that guaranteed. Many in the business felt the deal was too team-friendly -- Pro Football Talk called it "nuts" -- because it leaves one of the league's brightest young stars with no bargaining power for an entire decade. But the criticism fails to account for Smith's loyalty to Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, whose security team has assisted Smith and Costa and was once called on to remove one of Smith's brothers from the team's training camp in Oxnard, California.

Smith, who drives a Jeep he gets as part of an endorsement deal, values stability 
and craves normalcy. When he goes out to a four-star restaurant for a weekly dinner with Cowboys offensive linemen, they tease him for wearing clothes Leigh has chosen. "I have no style whatsoever," he says, holding his hands out to show off his workout shirt, sweats and shower shoes. "The guys know I don't dress myself. I wish it was like the early '90s, when you could wear jumpsuits."


Studies indicate that 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt within two years of retirement. How many of those bankruptcies can be attributed to the gradual erosion of control, the constant drip of family and friends asking for money and the unwillingness to confront it? John Schorsch, Smith's lawyer, estimates that the family received roughly $1 million from Tyron's accounts over one year.

Michael Brown: ''You are too much of a pussy to shoot me''

Shooting scene: Brown is pictured lying on the ground after being shot dead by Wilson on August 9 this year

''You are too much of a pussy to shoot me''

Wilson told the grand jury that he initially encountered Brown and a friend walking in a street and told them to move to the sidewalk, drawing an expletive from Brown.

Wilson said he noticed that Brown had a handful of cigars, 'and that's when it clicked for me' that the men were suspects in the theft of a convenience store reported minutes earlier.

Wilson said he asked a dispatcher to send additional officers, then backed his vehicle in front of Brown and his friend.

As he tried to open the door, Wilson said, Brown slammed it back shut. Wilson said he pushed Brown with the door and Brown hit him in the face. Wilson told grand jurors he was thinking: 'What do I do not to get beaten inside my car?'

Wilson said he drew his gun and threatened to shoot if Brown didn't move back, fearing another punch to the face could 'knock me out or worse'.

'He immediately grabs my gun and says, ''You are too much of a p***y to shoot me'',' Wilson said, saying he thought he would be shot when Brown dug the gun into the officer's hip.

Michael Brown’s Stepfather Tells Crowd, ‘Burn This Bitch Down’

Michael Brown’s Stepfather Tells Crowd, ‘Burn This Bitch Down’

After mom cries out in anguish and frustration on hearing the verdict, the ugly side of the protests rears its head.

In the wake of the St. Louis County grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the central tragedy of the case—the death of a young man—has often gone overlooked as the violence and the unrest and the politics have taken center stage. 

For a while, this video bucks the trend, as the focus is on the teen’s death and a mother’s grief as she addresses a crowd of protesters near the Ferguson police station. Soon, though, voices from off camera begin shouting for retribution, not justice, chanting “Burn this b**** down.” 

Where Brown’s father had called for peaceful protest in the days leading up to the decision, his stepfather, the man in green and white who eventually steps into the frame, clearly does not. He leads the calls for violence and begins building anger in the crowd. 

In the moments before Brown’s mother is led away through the chaos, we may just be witnessing this demonstration’s turn from peaceful to destructive.

Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake

Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake

By Sarah Mimms

The Senate’s No. 3 Democrat says that his party misused its mandate.

Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.

"After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."

The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense."

The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said.

The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued, after Democrats had passed legislation to help the middle class weather the recession. Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law.

Schumer said he told fellow Democrats in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that it was the wrong time to pass the law.

"People thought—and I understand this—lots of people thought this was the only time to do this, it's very important to do. And we should have done it. We just shouldn't have done it first," he said. "We were in the middle of a recession. People were hurting and saying, 'What about me? I'm losing my job. It's not health care that bothers me. What about me?' … About 85 percent of all Americans were fine with their health care in 2009, mainly because it was paid for by either the government or their employer, private sector. So they weren't clamoring. The average middle-class voter, they weren't opposed to doing health care when it started out, but it wasn't at the top of the agenda."

Schumer blamed the push for the Affordable Care Act so early in Obama's first term for the rise of the tea-party movement, which destroyed the Democratic majority in the House in 2010 and went on to—long with a number of other missteps by the federal government, including implementation of the law—oust the Democratic majority in the Senate as well in 2014.

Is Harvard Unfair to Asian-Americans?


In a true meritocracy, whites would be a minority of the student body. That worries some people.

NEARLY a century ago, Harvard had a big problem: Too many Jews. By 1922, Jews accounted for 21.5 percent of freshmen, up from 7 percent in 1900 and vastly more than at Yale or Princeton. In the Ivy League, only Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania had a greater proportion of Jews.

Harvard’s president, A. Lawrence Lowell, warned that the “Jewish invasion” would “ruin the college.” He wanted a cap: 15 percent. When faculty members balked, he stacked the admissions process to achieve the same result. Bolstered by the nativism of the time, which led to sharp immigration restrictions, Harvard’s admissions committee began using the euphemistic criteria of “character and fitness” to limit Jewish enrollment. As the sociologist Jerome Karabel has documented, these practices worked for the next three decades to suppress the number of Jewish students.

A similar injustice is at work today, against Asian-Americans. To get into the top schools, they need SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers. In 2008, over half of all applicants to Harvard with exceptionally high SAT scores were Asian, yet they made up only 17 percent of the entering class (now 20 percent). Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in America, but their proportion of Harvard undergraduates has been flat for two decades.

A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Asian-American applicants offers strong evidence that Harvard engages in racial “balancing.” Admissions numbers for each racial and ethnic group have remained strikingly similar, year to year. Damningly, those rare years in which an unusually high number of Asians were admitted were followed by years in which especially few made the cut.

The most common defense of the status quo is that many Asian-American applicants do well on tests but lack intangible qualities like originality or leadership. As early as 1988, William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of admissions, said that they were “slightly less strong on extracurricular criteria.”

Even leaving aside the disturbing parallel with how Jews were characterized, there is little evidence that this is true. A new study of over 100,000 applicants to the University of California, Los Angeles, found no significant correlation between race and extracurricular achievements.

The truth is not that Asians have fewer distinguishing qualities than whites; it’s that — because of a longstanding depiction of Asians as featureless or even interchangeable — they are more likely to be perceived as lacking in individuality. (As one Harvard admissions officer noted on the file of an Asian-American applicant, “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor.”)

The contribution Jews made to American life in the decades after they were maligned as unoriginal, grasping careerists speaks for itself. There is no reason to believe that today’s Asian-Americans will leave less of a mark.

For all the historical parallels, there’s one big difference. In the days of Lowell, Harvard was a bastion of white Protestant elites. Anti-Semitism was rampant. Today, Harvard is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions; 15 percent of students are the first in their families to attend college. In seven years as a student and teacher at Harvard, I have never heard anyone demean Asian-Americans.

So why is the new discrimination tolerated? For one thing, many academics assume that higher rates of admission for Asian-Americans would come at the price of lower rates of admission for African-Americans. Opponents of affirmative action — including the Project on Fair Representation, which helped bring the new suit — like to link the two issues, but they are unrelated.

As recognized by the Supreme Court, schools have an interest in recruiting a “critical mass” of minority students to obtain “the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” This justifies, in my view, admissions standards that look favorably on underrepresented groups, like African-Americans and Latinos. But it can neither explain nor justify why a student of Chinese, Korean or Indian descent is so much less likely to be admitted than a white one.

Conservatives point to Harvard’s emphasis on enrolling African-Americans (currently 12 percent of freshmen) and Hispanics (13 percent) but overlook preferences for children of alumni (about 12 percent of students) and recruited athletes (around 13 percent). The real problem is that, in a meritocratic system, whites would be a minority — and Harvard just isn’t comfortable with that.

Admission to elite colleges is a scarce good. Deciding who gets an offer inescapably involves trade-offs among competing values. Do we make excellence the only criterion — and, if so, excellence in what? Should we allocate places to those students who will profit most from them? Or to those who are most likely to give back to the community?

There isn’t one right answer. But that does not mean that there aren’t some answers that are unambiguously wrong.

It’s perfectly fair to consider extracurriculars as an important factor in admissions. But the current system is so opaque that it is easy to conceal discrimination behind vague criteria like “intangible qualities” or the desire for a “well-rounded class.” These criteria were used to exclude an overachieving minority in the days of Lowell, and they serve the same purpose today. For reasons both legal and moral, the onus is on the schools to make their admissions criteria more transparent — not to use them as fig leaves for excluding some students simply because they happen to be Asian.

What Darren Wilson Told the Grand Jury About Shooting Michael Brown

What Darren Wilson Told the Grand Jury About Shooting Michael Brown

By Jaeah Lee and AJ Vicens

Read the full testimony and other evidence just released by the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office

The Liberal Case Against Illegal Immigration

The Liberal Case Against Illegal Immigration

Yes, we need to do something to help the undocumented immigrants already here—but not in a way that drives down workers’ wages.

Since the passage of Ted Kennedy’s Immigration Reform Act of 1965, America has wrestled with a massive influx of illegal immigrants principally, but not exclusively, from Mexico and Central America. The South West felt it first. Now it’s everyone’s problem.

Last week President Obama made good on his long-anticipated threat to “act if Congress won’t.”

Fresh off a Midterm Election disaster, President Obama got off the mat and threw a haymaker at his political enemies and the American public who overwhelmingly rejected his policies and brand of leadership.

By issuing an Executive Order expanding the concept of “prosecutorial discretion” to allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay and work in this country, the President has thrown down the gauntlet to opponents of amnesty. 

“Pass a bill,” said the President. And that’s just what the Republicans should do.

The first order of business for the new Congress in January should be a border security bill that hits the ball back over the net and forces the President and his pro-amnesty party to put up or shut up; Either they believe in a secure border or they don’t.

By insisting on “comprehensive immigration reform”, a euphemism for amnesty, both Democrats and the corporatist wing of the GOP have offered bills that create the illusion of border security while simply replicating the same un-kept promises of the infamous Reagan Amnesty of 1986.

The Simpson-Mazzoli Act promised a “one time only” amnesty for 3 million people. Along with amnesty, our borders were to be secured once and for all. The undocumented got their documents and we got at least 11 million more illegal immigrants. The number could be much higher.

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson-- the Simpson half of Simpson-Mazzoli-- blames the Right along with the Left.

“Grover Norquist killed the National ID Card provision and the Democrats killed the border fence”, said Simpson in a phone interview this week.

The Chamber-of-Commerce Wing of the GOP is still willing to punt away America’s sovereignty to ensure the steady supply of cheap labor their corporate string-pullers demand.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders blubber about racism while cynically scheming for a permanent demographic majority. They apparently don’t care how much damage they’re doing to the poor and working class of this country by insisting on the very policies that hurt the poor the most.

According to the non-partisan Public Policy Institute, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. California also has the largest illegal population.


In 2006 then-Senator Barack Obama understood how damaging illegal immigration is for the working people of this country.

“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole… it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

Barack Obama was not the first Liberal to make this observation. Legendary Texas Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Jordan understood how millions of cheap laborers pouring across our southern border lowered the wages of all working men and women, especially African-Americans. Sxities icon Eugene McCarthy spent his final years warning about the negative impact of unfettered immigration. Perhaps the greatest irony remains that civil rights titan Caesar Chavez was a lifelong opponent of illegal immigration.

On August 4th, 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential paper on immigration saying, among other things:

“In the last several years, millions of undocumented aliens have illegally immigrated to the United States. They have breached our nation’s immigration laws, displaced many American citizens from jobs, and placed an increased financial burden on many states and local governments.”

Carter went on to propose a series of reforms, focusing first on enforcement of our laws and establishing penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.

The Democratic-held Congress did nothing.

In 1979, then Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates issued “Special Order 40”, an internal police directive, prohibiting LAPD officers from initiating a stop based on the suspicion a suspect may be in the country illegally. Special Order 40 is the granddaddy of sanctuary city policies that have been replicated in nearly every major city in America, encouraging millions to move north of the border.

The result has been catastrophic for the poor and working poor.

I learned the ugly side of illegal immigration from Black construction workers who, for whatever local anomaly, once dominated the drywall trade in Los Angeles. They complained their $18 dollar an hour jobs had fallen to $13 an hour before vanishing entirely as the industry was taken over by a largely illegal workforce.

Congressional Black Caucus denounces Ferguson grand jury

Marcia Fudge is shown. | AP Photo

Congressional Black Caucus denounces Ferguson grand jury

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Monday called the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson a “slap in the face” for those seeking justice for the death of Michael Brown.

“The Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown is a miscarriage of justice,” CBC Chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in a statement released after the decision was announced late Monday evening in Missouri. “It is a slap in the face to Americans nationwide who continue to hope and believe that justice will prevail.”

“This decision seems to underscore an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value; that you may kill Black men in this country without consequences or repercussions,” Fudge’s statement continued. “This is a frightening narrative for every parent and guardian of Black and brown children, and another setback for race relations in America.”

Todd Purdum: Protests won civil rights. Riots set them back.

No Justice, No Peace?

Protests won civil rights. Riots set them back.


In the wake of the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, Mo., it’s worth remembering an ambivalent reality of American history: demonstrations – even those that turned violent – have generally advanced the legislative and political cause of civil rights, while riots have more typically resulted in a backlash that retarded it.

Not quite 50 years ago, after a California highway patrolman arrested a 21-year-old unemployed black man suspected of drunken driving, and his mother rushed into the street in protest, the Watts section of Los Angeles exploded in six days of violence that killed 34 people, injured more than 1,000 and caused more than $40 million in property damage.

Just five days earlier, Lyndon Johnson had signed the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the bookend to the previous year’s Civil Rights Act and intended to be the feel-good linchpin in the nation’s long delayed effort to live up to its founding creed. Instead, the riots revealed the depth of enduring economic and social despair in black communities across the country, prompting national soul-searching but also a withering retort from outraged whites.

L.A.’s take-no-prisoners police chief, William Parker, declared that violence was to be expected, “When you keep telling people they are unfairly treated and teach them disrespect for the law.”

Just a year earlier, reacting to Barry Goldwater’s resounding defeat in the presidential election (after he voted against the Civil Rights Act), the New York Times ran a headline, “White Backlash Doesn’t Develop.”

But Watts – and the subsequent race riots that swept urban American through Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968 – did indeed pave the way for Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” to tap white resentment, and his law-and-order victory over Hubert Humphrey, which arguably led to the Republican Party’s dominance of the White House for 28 of the last 46 years.

No one can predict the outcome in Ferguson, but state and local officials in the St. Louis suburb have braced for the worst. The nights of sometimes violent protests there in August – undoubtedly exacerbated by an aggressive paramilitary police response – have already prompted a sharp divide in the national political debate.

Pope, in France, Urges Europe to Open Its Arms to Refugees

Pope, in France, Urges Europe to Open Its Arms to Refugees

In a major address to the European Parliament on Tuesday, Pope Francis warned that Europe had become too “fearful and self-absorbed,” and that it needed to recover its confidence and give “acceptance and assistance” to people fleeing war and poverty.

Asserting that Europe had lost its vitality and often seemed “elderly and haggard,” the pope took a swipe at technocrats who seek to draw together Europe through rigid rules and regulations, warning that “the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.”

But the pope also embraced one of the favorite themes of populist politicians who are hostile to the European Union. He warned that the 28-nation bloc faced “growing mistrust on the part of citizens toward institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful.”

Public discontent with the European Union’s bureaucracy, widely seen as wasteful, elitist and self-serving, helped propel France’s far-right National Front party and several other once-fringe nationalist groups to strong gains in May elections for the European Parliament. In France, the National Front came ahead of all other parties.

The European Parliament, which meets both here in this city near the German border and in the Belgian capital, Brussels, has become an emblem of the waste and detachment from ordinary people’s concerns. Those worries have drained support from the so-called European project, a half-century-long push for greater integration.


In his speech on Tuesday, Francis received particularly loud applause for remarks that seemed to challenge a largely German-scripted economic policy rooted in austerity as the cure to Europe’s economic ills.

“The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all, there is a need to restore dignity to labor by ensuring proper working conditions,” the pope said.

After his selection as pope last year, Francis signaled his interest in the plight of the dispossessed by making his first trip outside Rome to the Italian island of Lampedusa, near where scores of immigrants have drowned while trying to reach Europe from Africa in flimsy boats. He denounced what he called the “globalization of indifference” to the suffering of immigrants, and he returned to the theme in Strasbourg.

“We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery,” he said. “The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance.”

Ferguson prosecutor blames the media

Ferguson prosecutor blames the media


The first thing St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch did at Monday night's news conference announcing the Ferguson grand jury decision was blame the media.

"The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about," McCulloch said, well before announcing that Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, would not be indicted. "Following closely behind were the non-stop rumors on social media."

On Twitter, the 24-hour-news-cycle industry -- reporters, editors, producers, etc. -- circled the wagons. "That opening statement sounds like, 'None of this would be a problem except the Internet,'" Time magazine columnist James Poniewozik wrote on Twitter. "Guns don't kill people. The 24 hour news cycle kills people," tweeted Binyamin Appelbaum, Washington correspondent for The New York Times. And from Mic News Editor Scott Bixby: "McCulloch has decided to indict the American public."

Is No Indictment Unusual After a Police Shooting?

Is No Indictment Unusual After a Police Shooting?

A grand jury in Ferguson, Mo. chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for Michael Brown's death. WSJ's Glenn Hall discusses the announcement on the News Hub.

Self-Segregation: Why It's So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson

Self-Segregation: Why It's So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson

For one: White Americans tend to talk mostly to other white people.

By Robert P. Jones

The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the anger poured out in response by Ferguson’s mostly black population, has snapped the issue of race into national focus. The incident has precipitated a much larger conversation, causing many Americans to question just how far racial equality and race relations have come, even in an era of a black president and a black attorney general.

Polls since the incident demonstrate that black and white Americans see this incident very differently. A Huffington Post/YouGov poll finds that while Americans overall are divided over whether Brown's shooting was an isolated incident (35 percent) or part of a broader pattern in the way police treat black men (39 percent), this balance of opinion dissipates when broken down by race. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of black respondents say that the shooting is part of a broader pattern, nearly double the number of whites who agree (40 percent). Similarly, a Pew Research Center poll found that overall the country is divided over whether Brown’s shooting “raises important issues about race that need to be discussed” (44 percent) or whether “the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves” (40 percent). However, black Americans favor the former statement by a four-to-one margin (80 percent vs. 18 percent) and at more than twice the level of whites (37 percent); among whites, nearly half (47 percent) believe the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Clearly white Americans see the broader significance of Michael Brown’s death through radically different lenses than black Americans. There are myriad reasons for this divergence, from political ideologies—which, for example, place different emphases on law and order versus citizens’ rights—to fears based in racist stereotypes of young black men. But the chief obstacle to having an intelligent, or even intelligible, conversation across the racial divide is that on average white Americans live in communities that face far fewer problems and talk mostly to other white people.

Why Ferguson Went Up In Flames

Why Ferguson Went Up In Flames

Three months of despair were ignited in suburban Missouri when officer Darren Wilson was told he would walk free.

It’s nearly impossible to capture the pain, frustration, and sadness in Ferguson following the announcement that a white cop will not be charged for shooting an unarmed black teen three months ago. But if the faces partially hidden by gas masks and bandanas are any indication, last night's events can be summed up by one simple word: rage.

“I guess it’s legal for police to kill unarmed black men now,” said one woman, defiant but in despair. 

For many of those gathered, the grand jury’s verdict didn’t even really matter—it was the expected outcome of a system that works against them. “We already know what they’ve decided,” said one man outside the Ferguson Police headquarters before St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch had approached the microphone.

A few optimistic souls had not yet given up hope. “It’s never happened, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen,” said one. But when the announcement came, there was no surprise: Officer Darren Wilson will not stand trial for killing a teenager.

The reaction of the crowd wasn’t a surprise either. It started with chants. Then taunts. A few water bottles tossed at police. Tear gas. Smoke. Random gunfire. Arson and looting.

They flipped a cop car and torched it not far from the police station; flames reflected in the glass of storefronts that hadn’t been boarded up in the downtown shopping district, which is dotted with “Welcome to Historic Ferguson” signs. They fled from tear-gas canisters hissing through the air underneath the words “Seasons Greetings” that joined white lights and garlands on street lamps.

The crowd began to chant: “We gonna burn the shit down.”

More Troops Sent to Ferguson After Night of Chaos

More Troops Sent to Ferguson After Night of Chaos

After a chaotic night of demonstrations that erupted in many fires, frequent bursts of gunshots, looting and waves of tear gas, Gov. Jay Nixon said early Tuesday that he would send additional National Guard troops to help quell the worst violence this battered St. Louis suburb has seen since a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August.

The hours of unrest followed the announcement on Monday evening that a grand jury had chosen not to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, for the death of Michael Brown. St. Louis County reported that 61 people had been arrested.

“I really don’t have any hesitation in telling you that I didn’t see a lot of peaceful protest out there tonight, and I’m disappointed about that,” Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County police chief, said early Tuesday at a news conference. “I’m not saying there weren’t folks out there that were out there for the right reason — I’m not saying that wasn’t the case — but I am saying that, unfortunately, this spun out of control.”

Chief Belmar said demonstrators had set fire to at least a dozen buildings in and around Ferguson, and estimated that he had heard about 150 gunshots. The police, he said, did not fire any live ammunition.

Asked whether he would call the unrest that unfolded in Ferguson a riot, the chief replied, “Oh yeah, this fits.”

Fires continued to burn into Tuesday, and some of the flames and smoke on West Florissant Avenue, a main thoroughfare that was an epicenter of violence in August, lapped over the fence lines behind the storefronts, swooping perilously close to homes.

“It’s horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible,” said Tammy Ruffin, 54, standing in stinging smoke that swept over her house Tuesday morning. “I knew this was going to happen.”

Although she said that she, too, was upset that Officer Wilson had not been indicted, “It’s the wrong reaction,” she said.

Chuck Hagel and the end of the ‘Team of Rivals’ theory

How Chuck Hagel’s dismissal is another nail in the coffin of the ‘Team of Rivals’ theory

One of the enduring narratives of the Obama administration is that of a so-called Team of Rivals presidential Cabinet -- the idea that the best and brightest would be brought in (and listened to) whether or not they were part of Obama's campaign inner circle. But Chuck Hagel's "resignation" as defense secretary is the latest sign that the Team of Rivals idea is effectively over -- if it ever really existed in the first place.

While Obama got huge amounts of praise for persuading his former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton to serve as Secretary of State in his first term, her heavily political memoir of that time nonetheless made clear the times she differed with him and his inner circle on policy. And, as Obama's presidency wore on -- and he won a second term -- he almost abandoned the idea of surrounding himself with people who actively disagreed with him. In fact, the decisions to nominate Hagel at the Pentagon, John Brennan at the CIA, John Kerry at the State Department and Jack Lew at Treasury at the start of his second term were widely considered evidence of the president's belief that he needed loyalists around him as he sought to build a second-term legacy.


That consolidation of power into a select few top aides -- and the related powering-down of the Cabinet -- wasn't unique to Obama. Bush had his "Iron Triangle" of advisers -- Joe Allbaugh, Karen Hughes and Karl Rove -- who were considered the final voices on many policy decisions.

But, remember that one of the key arguments Obama made when campaigning in 2008 was that he represented a break from the sort of buddy-buddy government management style that Bush symbolized for many Americans. The very idea of the Team of Rivals concept grew out of Obama's campaign promises to run a meritocracy in direct contrast to how he saw the Bush White House run.

Ferguson: What to Know About Grand Juries

Ferguson: What to Know About Grand Juries

A grand jury decision on the case against Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., is expected soon. WSJ's law bureau deputy chief Ashby Jones explains how grand juries work.

How Clausewitz Invented Modern War

How Clausewitz Invented Modern War

Inspired by his combat experience in the Napoleonic wars, Carl von Clausewitz developed theories of warfare so effective that he is still the most quoted man on the battlefield.

Clausewitz’s magnum opus was begun in 1816 after he’d survived the rigors of more than 30 combat engagements in the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of Europe, more or less physically intact. The manuscript for On War was left unfinished at the time of his death from a cholera epidemic in 1831, and first published in German in three volumes a few years later by his wife, the former Countess Marie von Bruhl, who possessed a fine, discriminating intelligence, and a passionate devotion to her husband and his life’s work.

What makes Clausewitz’s now longstanding domination of his subject so remarkable is that since his death in 1831, warfare as a field of study has continuously occupied the professional attention of thousands of very smart, thoughtful human beings. A fair number of these men, and a few women, soldiers and civilians alike, have made important contributions to a steadily growing canon of classic works on warfare that began some 2,500 years with Thucydides and Sun Tzu. Yet, when it comes to understanding the nature of war and strategy today, none of the works in that canon is spoken of so often, or with such reverence and respect, as Clausewitz’s On War. 

 Moreover, since his passing, literally hundreds of wars have been fought, and soldiers and historians have proclaimed uncontroversially that warfare has been transformed and revolutionized not once, but a handful of times. 

The American Civil War is generally recognized to be the first industrial war, in which railroads and mass production played a key role. Then came the horrors of World War I, with the advent of tanks and airplanes and poison gas. After that terrible slaughter, the professional military establishments in all the industrialized countries threw out their field manuals, and began again. But they didn’t throw out On War.


Today the official fighting doctrines of the U.S. armed services all draw heavily on Clausewitz unapologetically, and it is next to impossible to find essays in serious defense and military history journals without substantial references to the most famous Prussian officer in history.

Why? The short answer: this brilliant Prussian saw a great deal of combat up close and personal, read military as well as political history and philosophy voraciously, and then wrote, and rewrote, about his subject compulsively for 30 years—often drawing on disciplines far afield from war studies to make his points. He was as much a student of the human soul as he was about war, which lends his writing about the latter a certain breadth and depth that is hard to capture in short essay like this.


The author of On War, we learn, established his initial reputation in European military circles by exposing the illusions of the pre-eminent strategists of his own time, men who believed that the scientific method and the rationalistic forces of the Enlightenment could be harnessed to make war a science, in which success on the battlefield could be guaranteed merely by working out a series of equations and ratios relating to firepower, terrain, route marches, and supply trains.

The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world.

Herlinde Koelbl has been photographing Merkel since 1991. Koelbl says that Merkel has always been “a bit awkward,” but “you could feel her strength at the beginning.”

The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world.

By George Packer

Merkel was born in Hamburg, West Germany, in 1954. Her father, Horst Kasner, was an official in the Lutheran Church, one of the few institutions that continued operating in both Germanys after the postwar division of the country. Serious and demanding, he moved the family across the frontier just a few weeks after Angela’s birth—and against his wife’s wishes—to take up ecclesiastical duties in the German Democratic Republic. That year, almost two hundred thousand East Germans fled in the other direction. Kasner’s unusual decision led West German Church officials to call him “the red minister.” Joachim Gauck, a former East German pastor and dissident, who, in 2012, was elected Germany’s largely ceremonial President, once told a colleague that people in the Lutheran Church under Communism knew to stay away from Kasner, a member of the state-controlled Federation of Evangelical Pastors. By most accounts, Kasner’s motives were as much careerist as ideological.

Angela, the oldest of three children, was raised on the outskirts of Templin, a cobblestoned town in the pine forests of Brandenburg, north of Berlin. The Kasners lived in the seminary at Waldhof, a complex of around thirty buildings, many from the nineteenth century, belonging to the Lutheran Church. Waldhof was—and remains—home to several hundred physically and mentally disabled people, who learned trades and grew crops. Ulrich Schoeneich, who managed the estate in the eighties and knew the Kasners, described Waldhof under the East Germans as a grim place, with up to sixty men crammed into a single room, and no furniture except cots. Merkel once recalled seeing some residents strapped to benches, but she also said, “To grow up in the neighborhood of handicapped people was an important experience for me. I learned back then to treat them in a very normal way.”

Merkel’s upbringing in a Communist state was as normal as she could make it. “I never felt that the G.D.R. was my home country,” she told the German photographer Herlinde Koelbl, in 1991. “I have a relatively sunny spirit, and I always had the expectation that my path through life would be relatively sunny, no matter what happened. I have never allowed myself to be bitter. I always used the free room that the G.D.R. allowed me. . . . There was no shadow over my childhood. And later I acted in such a way that I would not have to live in constant conflict with the state.” During her first campaign for Chancellor, in 2005, she described her calculations more bluntly: “I decided that if the system became too terrible, I would have to try to escape. But if it wasn’t too bad then I wouldn’t lead my life in opposition to the system, because I was scared of the damage that would do to me.”

Being the daughter of a Protestant minister from the West carried both privileges and liabilities. The Kasners had two cars: the standard East German Trabant, an underpowered little box that has become the subject of kitschy Ostalgia, and a more luxurious Wartburg, their official church car. The family received clothes and food from relatives in Hamburg, as well as money in the form of “Forum checks,” convertible from Deutsche marks and valid in shops in large East Berlin hotels that sold Western consumer items. “They were élite,” Erika Benn, Merkel’s Russian teacher in Templin, said. But the Church retained enough independence from the state that the Kasners lived under constant suspicion, and during Angela’s childhood religious organizations came to be seen as agents of Western intelligence. In 1994, an official report on repression in East Germany concluded, “The country of Martin Luther was de-Christianized by the end of the G.D.R.”

Among German leaders, Merkel is a triple anomaly: a woman (divorced, remarried, no children), a scientist (quantum chemistry), and an Ossi (a product of East Germany). These qualities, though making her an outsider in German politics, also helped to propel her extraordinary rise. Yet some observers, attempting to explain her success, look everywhere but to Merkel herself. “There are some who say what should not be can’t really exist—that a woman from East Germany, who doesn’t have the typical qualities a politician should have, shouldn’t be in this position,” Göring-Eckardt, another woman from East Germany, said. “They don’t want to say she’s just a very good politician.” Throughout her career, Merkel has made older and more powerful politicians, almost all of them men, pay a high price for underestimating her.


Merkel studied physics at Leipzig University and earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry in Berlin. She was allowed to pursue graduate studies, in no small part because she never ran afoul of the ruling party. Ulrich Schoeneich, who became Templin’s mayor after reunification, expressed bitterness to me that Merkel hasn’t been challenged much on her accommodation with the East German system. Schoeneich’s father, Harro, was also a Protestant minister, but, unlike Kasner, he openly dissented from the state. Ulrich Schoeneich refused to join the Free German Youth, the blue-shirted “fighting reserve” of the ruling party which the vast majority of East German teen-agers joined, including Angela Kasner, who participated well into adulthood. “Not just as a dead person in the files but as the officer responsible for agitation and propaganda,” Schoeneich told me, referring to a revelation in a controversial recent biography, “The First Life of Angela M.” He added, “I’m convinced that she could get her doctorate only because she was active in the Free German Youth, even in her postgraduate days. Most people say it was forced, but I demonstrated that you didn’t have to join it.” Merkel herself once admitted that her participation in the Free German Youth was “seventy per cent opportunism.”

How to Get Back in the Game After Job Loss

How to Get Back in the Game After Job Loss

Getting your head back in the game after losing a job can be a challenge. Here are 14 simple strategies to help you pick yourself up and move on ... and up!

1. Hunker down. Do a quick assessment of where you stand financially, and if necessary, start to cut out some of the fat in your spending habits. Although you're likely spinning in a whirlwind of emotion right after you get the pink slip, it's important to think rationally and realistically (or if you can't do it, ask a trusted person for help). You may need to temporarily replace that daily $5 Starbucks Frappucino with a home-made cup of coffee. If your children buy lunch at school, think about packing lunches from home at least until things get back to status quo (or better). If your family was dependent on your income, everyone is going to have to make some modifications to get the family through the job hunting period.

Rand Paul Declares War on ISIS

Rand Paul Declares War on ISIS—and Allows Boots on the Ground

The Kentucky senator, seeking to define himself as a foreign-policy heavyweight ahead of 2016, will introduce a measure in the Senate next month declaring war on the terror group.

“The most important” part of Rand Paul’s assessment of “questions of war,” the Kentucky senator told The Daily Beast this fall, is “how you go to war.” Now he’s putting that assessment into action with a plan to introduce a declaration of war against ISIS in the Senate next month.

The move is part of Paul’s ongoing campaign to position himself as a foreign-policy heavyweight ahead of the Republican presidential primaries, when he is expected to mount a campaign for the nomination. But it may simply be dismissed as a tit-for-tat gesture as Republicans complain of executive overreach in the aftermath of President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

As Obama is hit with charges of overstepping his power, Paul’s resolution could be perceived as an attempt to strike back in another conflict: the now 200-year-old war between the executive and legislative branches of government. The senator’s resolution would turn on its head the traditional process by which presidents lead the United States into conflict and Congress says, “Sure, why not?”

In a draft of the resolution obtained by The Daily Beast, Paul states that “the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State has declared war on the United States and its allies” and that ISIS “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region, including our embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and consulate in Erbil, Iraq."

Obama Dissatisfied, Officials Say, Amid Global Crises

Obama Dissatisfied, Officials Say, Amid Global Crises

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was asked to resign his post, officials said, as President Obama’s national security team has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation on Monday, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team to respond to an onslaught of global crises.

In announcing Mr. Hagel’s resignation from the State Dining Room on Monday, the president, flanked by Mr. Hagel and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., called Mr. Hagel critical to ushering the military “through a significant period of transition” and lauded “a young Army sergeant from Vietnam who rose to serve as America’s 24th secretary of defense.”

Mr. Obama called Mr. Hagel “no ordinary secretary of defense,” adding that he had “been in the dirt” of combat like no other defense chief. He said that Mr. Hagel would remain in the job until his successor is confirmed by the Senate.

The officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel, who often struggled to articulate a clear viewpoint and was widely viewed as a passive defense secretary, was brought in to employ.

How Election 2014 humbled the high priests of American politics

How Election 2014 humbled the high priests of American politics

By Gail Russell Chaddock

Washington's political class – armed with tons of big data – took a beating in the midterm elections. In several ways, that could be a good thing for American democracy.
The big losers in this month’s midterm elections weren’t only Democrats. The permanent political class – bristling with big money and big data – also failed to deliver. And that may be good for democracy.

When a politician loses, it’s personal: Aides get fired, offices change hands, often so do houses, apartments, or condos. But the pollsters, publicists, media gurus, and political handicappers that people the permanent campaign don’t decamp, even if their advice and projections turn out badly.  A candidate that commits a gaffe, especially one that’s weaponized over the Internet, lives with it forever. But memory runs short for the actual record of the political class that advises them – and is wooing (or vetting) clients for the next election while the recounts and runoffs for the last one are still underway.

Well, the political class bet big on big data this fall, and it didn't turn out so hot. Big data – the capacity to collect vast amounts of data on voter preferences – has increasingly directed how candidates raise money, get voters to the polls, and even settle on campaign themes and slogans. The “disciplined candidate” so often sought by political kingmakers embraces big data and rigorously follows its dictates.

The Strand’s Stand: How It Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon

The Strand’s Stand: How It Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon

By Christopher Bonanos

Walk into the Strand Book Store, at East 12th and Broadway, and the retail experience you’ll have is unexpectedly contemporary. The walls are white, the lighting bright; crisp red signage is visible at every turn. The main floor is bustling, and the store now employs merchandising experts to refine its traffic flow and make sure that prime display space goes to stuff that’s selling. Whereas you can leave a Barnes & Noble feeling numbed, particularly if a clerk directs you to Gardening when you ask for Leaves of Grass, the Strand is simply a warmer place for readers.

In the middle of the room, though, is a big concrete column holding up the building, and it looks … wrong. It’s painted gray, and not a soft designer gray but some dead color like you’d see on a basement floor. Crudely stenciled signs reading BOOKS SHIPPED ANYWHERE are tacked to it. Bookcases surround the column, and they’re beat to hell, their finish nearly black with age.

This tableau was left intact when the store was renovated in 2003. Until then, the Strand had been a beloved, indispensable, and physically grim place. Like a lot of businesses that had hung on through the FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD years, it looked broken-down and patched-up. The bathroom was even dirtier than the one in the Astor Place subway. You got the feeling that a lot of books had been on the shelves for years. The ceiling was dark with the exhalations from a million Chesterfields. There were mice. People arriving with review copies to sell received an escort to the basement after a guard’s bellow: “Books to go down!” It was an experience that, once you adjusted to its sourness, you might appreciate and even enjoy. Maybe.

That New York is mostly gone, replaced by a cleaner and more efficient city—not to mention a cleaner and more efficient Strand. “Books to go down!” is extinct. So is Book Row, the Fourth Avenue strip that fortified the readers and writers of Greenwich Village. Though there are signs of life in the independent-bookseller business — consider the success of McNally-Jackson — few secondhand-book stores are left in Manhattan. Only two survive in midtown, and the necrology is long. Skyline on West 18th Street, New York Bound Bookshop in Rockefeller Center, the Gotham Book Mart on West 47th — closed. Academy Books is now Academy Records & CDs.

So, then: Why is there still a Strand Book Store?

In large part because of Fred Bass. He’s pretty much the human analogue for the store’s gray column. His father, Ben, founded the Strand around the corner in 1927, and he was born in 1928. Ask him about his childhood, and he recalls going on buying trips on the subway with his father, hauling back bundles of books tied with rope that cut into his hands. (“Along the line, we got some handles.”) Ask him about the 1970s, and he’ll tell you about hiding cash in the store because it was too dangerous to go to the bank after dark. He’s 86, and he still makes buying trips, though mostly not by subway. “Part of my job is going out to look at estates — it’s a treasure hunt.” New York, to him, “is an incredible source — a highly educated group of people in a concentrated area, with universities and Wall Street wealth. The libraries are here.” Printed and bound ore, ready to be mined. 

Four days a week, he’s on the main floor, working the book-buying desk in back. Stand there, and you’ll see the full gamut of New York readers. Critics and junior editors, selling recent releases. Academics. Weirdos. “Book scouts,” who pan for first-edition gold at yard sales and on Goodwill shelves. They walk in with heavy shopping bags and leave with a few $20s. Usually fewer than they’d hoped: The Strand rejects a lot, because unsalable books are deadweight. Whatever arrives has to go out quickly. “Our stock isn’t stale,” Bass says. “You come in, and there’ll be new stuff continually.” Slow sellers are culled, then marked down, then moved to the bargain racks outside, then finally sold in bulk for stage sets and the like.

Secondhand books have to be judged individually as they come in, a process that requires time and experience. (A couple of buyers have been on the job upwards of 40 years.) Though it takes less experience than it once did: Arriving books now have their UPCs scanned, and the database “gives us information where it used to be guesswork,” says Bass. “The guesswork was so great then, I filled up an 11,000-square-foot warehouse with unsold books.” He pauses, deadpan. “Using my expertise.

All of this suggests that the Strand is a used-book store. It isn’t, not exactly. Over the past decade or so, new books have come to represent about 40 percent of sales. They constitute, Bass explains, a more predictable business: “New books, we can sell 50, 100, 200 copies of. I make less money, but it’s a little bit more scientific. The used-book business, we have a bigger market — of course, we have to carry a bigger inventory.”

Those new books are also profitable because of a source almost unique to the Strand: broke editorial assistants. When the Strand buys their review copies, it pays about a quarter of the cover price, sometimes less. They’re indistinguishable from new, and the Strand sells most of them as such. (When Bass buys from wholesalers, he generally pays about 40 percent of list.) Publishers hate this gray market but accept it; one book publicist I know cringes when she sees her press releases peeking out of copies at the store. Bass shrugs: “I tell them it’s the cost of doing business.”

If the old used-book Strand is built around Fred Bass, the new Strand is a joint production with his daughter, Nancy Bass Wyden. She started working here three decades ago as a teenager, and the family has done well since: Fred lives in Trump World Tower, and Nancy married a senator, Ron Wyden of Oregon. (She is charming with me, although a few bloggers say that she’s not so patient with her employees.) You get the sense that she’s trying to leave the core of the business intact while branching out beyond East 12th Street.

For example, at Fifth Avenue near 21st Street, there’s a satellite Strand built into a Club Monaco. It’s spotless, selling mostly new books plus some expensive first editions. “Not a home run,” Fred says, “but it’s working.” Adds Nancy, “We now have this expanded customer base — people who are Club Monaco shoppers who may not have been to the Strand before.”

The Basses have also tapped into New York’s great subsidizing resource: the global rich. If you’ve bought $15 million worth of living space on Park Avenue, it probably has a library, so what’s another $80,000 to fill those shelves? Make a call to the Strand with a few suggestions — “sports, business, art” — and a truckful of well-chosen, excellent-condition books will arrive. (Fred recalls that when Ron Perelman bought his estate on the East End from the late artist Alfonso Ossorio, the Strand had just cleared out Ossorio’s library; Perelman ordered a new selection of books, refilling the shelves.) In more than a few cases, the buyers request not subject matter but color. In the Hamptons, a wall of white books is a popular order, cheerfully fulfilled.

Nancy has also grasped that the Strand’s future can be bolstered by selling things besides books. Fifteen percent of the store’s revenue now comes from merch: T-shirts, postcards, notebooks, superhero action figures (they’re near the graphic novels), and especially those canvas tote bags, produced in dozens of variations. The success of the tchotchke business is, she says, one way in which book shopping has changed. Whereas individuals used to come in and root around for hours, today’s buyers shop faster and in a targeted way, often in groups. More tourists come than ever, and books about New York are piled up by the front for them. The store also has a big event space, and the wine flows regularly: launch parties, signings, a book-swapping mixer created in partnership with OkCupid. Bookstore visits are “a social thing,” Nancy explains as we walk past a wall of T-shirts. She points to one that displays a John Waters quote: “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t f**k em.” She chuckles: “My father hates that one.”

Are there existential threats to the Strand? There are. E-books, which require no retail space, have cut into best-seller sales. The Strand has pushed back with remaindered hardcovers, placed by the front door under a sign reading LOWER-PRICED THAN E-BOOKS.

There’s also the Strand’s relationship with its unionized employees, who were organized by the UAW back in the ’70s. They just signed a new contract this past month. Mostly, the labor-management situation seems equable; still, every few years, when contract time comes, someone writes a news story about strife. “The union demands something up here,” says Fred, gesturing, “and we’re down here … There’s always going to be conflict.” In general, the union is quite aware that the Strand is not Google, and the Basses are perfectly aware that relative harmony benefits the business. In October, a pro-union staffer named Greg Farrell published a graphic-novel-style book critical of both management and the union’s representatives. Oddly, he still works at the store. More oddly, the Strand sells the book.

Internet used-book sales, too, would seem to be a long-term concern. When you visit Amazon or AbeBooks (which is owned by Amazon) and search for an out-of-print title, your results are usually listed from cheapest to most expensive. The first “store” on the list often turns out to be a barn full of books in rural Minnesota or Vermont. Some are charity stores, selling donated books—no acquisition costs at all. They certainly aren’t paying Manhattan overhead. Yet here, too, the Strand is holding on, owing mostly to that churning turnover and the quality of its stock. That barn isn’t going to have many of last year’s $75 art books for $40, and the Strand always does. Plus there are the only–in–New York surprises that come through the store’s front door. Opening a box can reveal a Warhol monograph that will sell for more than $1,000, or an editor’s library full of warm inscriptions from authors.

If that’s the future, could the Strand wind up virtual? Surely operating out of one of those barns would be cheaper. “Not with our formula,” says Bass firmly. “We need the store. This business requires a lot of cash flow to operate,” and much of it comes in with the tourists. That funds the book-buying, which supplies the next cycle of inventory.

Which requires this expensive retail space, and the renovation of 2003 did not just come from a desire to spiff up. It happened because of a specific event, one that probably saved the Strand: In 1996, after four decades of renting, the Basses bought the building. “Frankly,” Fred says, “for a while, I thought, This isn’t going to work anymore.” He’d always negotiated the lease renewal with his landlord at the nearby Knickerbocker Bar & Grill — they once had to reconstruct their deal the next day, after knocking back one too many — and a bookstore would not have been able to hang on to 44,000 square feet for much longer. It took Bass two years to hammer out a price, but once he became his own tenant, he paid rent at a significant discount. “When I want to negotiate my own lease,” he jokes, “I have to go to the bar myself.” He’s got leverage in those talks, because the store occupies four floors out of 12, and rent from the others flows back into the business. Warehoused books, once upstairs, are now in much cheaper space across the East River.

There is only one true long-term threat to the Strand, and it comes from within. Bass, whose entire life has revolved around this business, loves bookselling. It appears that Nancy does, too. The store makes money, if not a crazy amount, and the family has good reasons to keep it going. But the Strand is, when you get down to it, a real-estate business, fronted by a bookstore subsidized by its own below-market lease and the office tenants upstairs. The ground floor of 828 Broadway is worth more as a Trader Joe’s than it is selling Tom Wolfe. When a business continues to exist mostly because its owners like it, the next generation has to like it just as much. Otherwise they’ll cash out. If Nancy stays, the Strand stays. If her kids do, too, it stays longer. Simple as that.

The Priceless Gift of Being Nice To The One You Love

The Priceless Gift of Being Nice To The One You Love

By Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D.

Read on to learn how to get out the "I did this you, now you have to do this for me" relationship trap.

America would be best off if the super-rich were taxed at 90 PER CENT, say economists

America would be best off if the super-rich were taxed at 90 PER CENT, say economists 

By Damien Gayle for MailOnline

All Americans would be better off if the top rate of income tax was returned to Eisenhower-era levels of about 90 per cent, economists have claimed.

The recommendation would more than double the current top U.S. rate of income tax - 39.6 per cent - and runs counter to more than two decades of economic orthodoxy.

At the moment fewer than one per cent of Americans reach the top income tax bracket of $406,750 for individuals and $457,600 for couples, yet the topic is one of the most emotive in U.S. politics. 

Fabian Kindermann from the University of Bonn and Dirk Krueger from the University of Pennsylvania make the case for radically higher rates of taxation in a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Their conclusions come nearly 25 years after the idea that the wealthy should be allowed to keep as much of their money as possible became the accepted political norm.

Beginning with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, spurred by the new ideology of neoliberalism, the U.S. saw radical cuts to the top rate of income tax until it fell to less than 30 per cent.

The architects of these policies were spurred by ideologues like the radical capitalist Ayn Rand, an originator of the 'wealth creator' myth, who believed rational self-interest would create the most-perfect economic conditions.

Taking money out of the hands of the rich was not only unjust, she and her acolytes believed, but also economically illiterate, since those who were best at making money would know the best way to spend it.

But as Dr Kindermann and Dr Krueger point out, these tax cuts coincided with a spike in inequality, with the total share of U.S. household income accruing to the top 1 per cent doubling between the early 1970s and 2007.

Since the 2008 financial crisis and banking bail-out, inequality has soared more than ever, leading to calls from from academic economists and street-level protesters alike for something to be done to reverse it.

Highest-value terror detainees excluded from Senate investigation of CIA torture

Khalid Sheik Mohammed

Highest-value terror detainees excluded from Senate investigation of CIA torture

Spencer Ackerman

A widely anticipated report by the Senate intelligence committee into torture committed by the Central Intelligence Agency has a hole at the center of its story: the men the CIA tortured.

Lawyers for four of the highest-value detainees ever held by the CIA, all of whom have made credible allegations of torture and all of whom remain in US government custody, say the Senate committee never spoke with their clients. In some cases the Senate’s investigators never attempted to speak with the men whose abuse is at the heart of what the committee spent over four years investigating.

The absence of the torture victims’ accounts calls the thoroughness of the Senate committee inquiry “directly into question”, said David Nevin, who represents accused 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

“If you’re conducting a genuine inquiry of a program that tortured people, don’t you begin by talking to the people who were tortured? It seems here, as far as my client is concerned, no effort was made to do that.”

The four suspected al-Qaida members not interviewed by the committee received some of the CIA’s most brutal treatment: Mohammed and his 9/11 co-defendant Walid bin Attash; accused USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri; and Abu Zubaydah. All four men are among the 142 men who remain in US military custody at Guantánamo Bay.

The Senate torture investigation, spearheaded by committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California, has come under criticism before for not conducting interviews – from the CIA, which has argued that the committee’s lack of interest in talking with officials involved in torture reveals the forthcoming report to be a hatchet job. The committee has shot back that the CIA’s extraordinary spying on its investigators, for which director John Brennan issued a public apology, was an attempt at a coverup that provoked a constitutional crisis.

Beset from all sides, the report concludes that the agency’s post-9/11 interrogations, detentions, and renditions were less effective and more brutal than it portrayed to the Bush administration and Congress. Republicans on the committee consider it a witch-hunt. Senate Democrats are furious with the CIA and the White House, which have for months held up declassifying portions of the report.

10 Things You Can Be Thankful For No Matter What's Going On

10 Things You Can Be Thankful For No Matter What's Going On

By Juliana Breines, Ph.D.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks for all of the wonderful things in your life. But what if those things are hard to find? Here are ten things you can be thankful for even when it feels like there's nothing to be thankful for.

Alleged Cosby 'fixer' comes out of the shadows

Cosby in 1982. (AP)

Cosby in 1982. (AP)

Alleged Cosby 'fixer' comes out of the shadows

Soraya Nadia McDonald

He describes disbursing payments to women as part of “coverup.”

More women, including actresses Michelle Hurd and Angela Leslie, have come forward accusing comedian Bill Cosby of sexual impropriety, and with them, one question looms large: If all this did indeed happen over the course of four decades, how did it go largely unchecked?

The story told by NBC “fixer” Frank Scotti, if true, would provide some answers. Scotti was a facilities manager at NBC charged with standing watch outside Cosby’s Brooklyn dressing room, he said. In an exclusive interview with the New York Daily News, Scotti alleged that Cosby would dispatch him to send payments to women, including Leslie, a former stand-in on “The Cosby Show.” At one point, Scotti alleged, the payments totaled $2,000 per month. He claimed the comedian would give him a bag of $100 bills to be disbursed as money orders of varying amounts. Scotti said he kept receipts from the money orders he allegedly sent, which he said Cosby requested be in Scotti’s name.

“I did a lot of crazy things for him,” Scotti told the Daily News. “He was covering himself by having my name on it. It was a coverup. I realized it later.”

He also told the paper Cosby instructed him to find an apartment for a woman Scotti, now 90, believed Cosby was seeing.

“I was suspicious that something was going on,” Scotti alleged. “I suspected that he was having sex with them because the other person he was sending money to [Shawn Thompson] he was definitely having sex with,” he alleged. Why else would he be sending money?”

Calling Out Bill Cosby’s Media Enablers, Including Myself

Calling Out Bill Cosby’s Media Enablers, Including Myself

Amid the public revulsion at the news that Bill Cosby, a trailblazing black entertainer, allegedly victimized women in serial fashion throughout his career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?

What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.

Only the first of those things was actually true.

Those in the know included Mark Whitaker, who did not find room in his almost 500-page biography, “Cosby: His Life and Times,” to address the accusations that Mr. Cosby had assaulted numerous women, at least four of whom had spoken on the record and by name in the past about what Mr. Cosby is accused of having done to them.

Those in the know also included Ta-Nehisi Coates, who elided over the charges in a long and seemingly comprehensive story about Mr. Cosby in The Atlantic in 2008.

Those in the know included Kelefa T. Sanneh, who wrote a major piece in The New Yorker and who treated the allegations as an afterthought, referring to them quickly near the end of a profile of Mr. Cosby this past September.

And those in the know also included me. In 2011, I did a Q. and A. with Mr. Cosby for Hemispheres magazine, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines, and never found the space or the time to ask him why so many women accused him of drugging and then assaulting them.

We all have our excuses, but in doing so, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a very powerful entertainer.

Mr. Whitaker has said he didn’t want to put anything in the book, which he wrote with Mr. Cosby’s cooperation, that wasn’t confirmed — which of course raises the question of why he wouldn’t have done the work to knock the allegations down or make them stand up.

And given that the allegations had already been carefully and thoroughly reported in Philadelphia magazine and elsewhere, any book of the size and scope of Mr. Whitaker’s book should have gone there.

Mr. Coates recently expressed regret on The Atlantic website that he did not press harder on Mr. Cosby’s conflicted past. In the course of his reporting, he said he came to the conclusion that “Bill Cosby was a rapist.”

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