A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7.  (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
What role does race play in policing? Researcher explains
06:00 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

Sonia Pruitt spent 28 years as a police officer, rising to the rank of captain before retiring and teaching criminal justice.

So when she saw the videos of Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old father, skateboarder and avid photographer, her words carried the weight of someone deeply experienced in law enforcement.

The officers’ conduct “is revolting in its brutality and disheartening in revealing just how little the needle of police reform has moved in decades,” Pruitt wrote.

“Police body camera and surveillance footage released Friday showed the officers striking Nichols with a baton, kicking him in the head and repeatedly punching him before propping him against a police car…”

“The officers lacked supervision, showed little professional maturity and escalated a situation into what would eventually become a deadly encounter through gross negligence and a complete disregard for human life.”

Revamped police training hasn’t prevented the recurrence of brutality we’ve seen in the more than three decades since Los Angeles police officers beat Rodney King in 1991. Nor has the prosecution and conviction of the officers involved in the killing of George Floyd in 2020. It will take federal legislation, Pruitt concluded. “Proof of success will come when we never again hear the plaintive cries of a Black man calling for his mother while being brutalized.”

Van Jones wrote, “Learning that your child’s life was senselessly stolen from him is every Black parent’s nightmare. But — surprisingly to many people — the five officers charged with viciously beating him were also Black.”

“How do we explain Nichols’ horrific killing, allegedly at the hands of police who looked like him?”

“One of the sad facts about anti-Black racism is that Black people ourselves are not immune to its pernicious effects,” Jones noted. “Society’s message that Black people are inferior, unworthy and dangerous is pervasive. Over many decades, numerous experiments have shown that these ideas can infiltrate Black minds as well as White. Self-hatred is a real thing…”

California’s pain

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Only four weeks into the new year, America has already experienced 44 mass shootings.

Eleven people were killed in a shooting at a Monterey Park, California, dance studio, as the city’s majority-Asian population was celebrating Lunar New Year. It hit close to home for Jeff Yang. “Dozens of people in my immediate friend network shared that they were ‘marked safe,’ detailed how they had been near the dance studio hours or even minutes before the attack or noted that they were connected to people among the wounded or dead,” Yang noted. “These incidents feel like they’re looming ever nearer, like a specter from a 3D horror movie drifting inexorably toward the camera.” The 72-year-old Asian man suspected of the killings died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It’s understandable that Asian Americans might have, once upon a time, thought that our ethnic communities were insulated from the realities of this country’s spiraling epidemic of gun violence. After all, parts of Asia have among the lowest gun homicide rates in the world,” Yang wrote, citing very low numbers in Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.

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    “What’s interesting is that gun use is very much a part of all three of those cultures since they each require compulsory military service for every able male.” While people were mourning the Monterey Park victims, a gunman in Northern California opened fire at two locations in San Mateo County on Monday, killing seven. A 66-year-old farmworker was charged in what the police called a “workplace violence incident.”

    Weapons for Ukraine

    When Winston Churchill served as the minister overseeing the British Royal Navy as First Lord of the Admiralty, he formed a committee in 1915 that would have a major effect on the future of war: its purpose was to explore the potential of “landships” — armored weapons of war that we know today as tanks.

    More than a century later, tanks are still viewed as central, and they could possibly be decisive in the outcome of the war between Russia and Ukraine. As David A. Andelman observed, “Going into the war in Ukraine a year ago, conventional wisdom suggested that tanks had seen the best of their days — outflanked and vulnerable to drones or fire-and-forget missiles.”

    “Conventional wisdom is clearly wrong. It’s becoming quite apparent that armored dominance on a battlefield like Ukraine could turn the tide, dramatically.” The US, Germany and other European nations announced last week that they are sending tanks to help Ukraine’s war effort as it gears up for a possible Russian offensive in the spring. “The West needs to get the latest generation of tanks in place quickly,” Andelman wrote. “The clock is ticking loudly.”

    There are 21st century weapons in use too. “The fighting in Ukraine represents the first long-term, sustained conflict where all the currently available uses for drones are an indispensable part of combined operations — and on both sides,” wrote Keir Giles.

    “With the speed at which drone technology is advancing, Western militaries should have decisions in place now for how they are to deal with both the operational and moral challenges of their own or their enemies’ drones being able to kill without human supervision.”

    Doomsday clock

    The risks of worldwide disaster are growing, in part due to the Ukraine war. So on Tuesday “the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than they’ve ever been. It marks the first change in three years to the Clock’s time; it now stands at 90 seconds to midnight,” wrote former California Gov. Jerry Brown, Sharon Squassoni and Daniel Holz.

    “Never in the Doomsday Clock’s 76-year history have we been so close to global catastrophe.”

    Earth’s core

    Here’s one global change we probably don’t need to worry about: The rotation of the Earth’s core is slowing.

    “This is scientifically interesting,” observed physicist Don Lincoln, “but rather less dramatic than some of the headlines have suggested.”

    “Researchers have seen this periodic change in the speed of the rotation of the Earth’s core before and they still debate the rate at which it occurs, with some suggesting a 70-year cycle, while others suggest a much faster one.”

    What’s fascinating is the complexity of the planet’s innards: “The Earth is not a solid ball,” Lincoln noted. “There is the innermost core, which is a solid sphere about the same size as the planet Mars. Surrounding that is the outer core, which is liquid rock. The next layer is the mantle, which is sort of taffy-like in consistency. Finally there is the crust, which is the outermost layer — the place where we live.”

    Near-death experience

    The restaurant where Dr. Kevin G. Volpp was dining with friends didn’t have a defibrillator, but when he suddenly collapsed, they started CPR right away. And Cincinnati first responders soon arrived with the equipment and medications to “to jump-start my heart. I was fortunate to be near a major university hospital with highly skilled personnel (the same hospital that initially treated Damar Hamlin),” Volpp wrote.

    Only 10% of the roughly 1,000 Americans who experience cardiac arrest outside hospitals each day survive, he noted. “Signing up for a CPR course, advocating for greater defibrillator access, training people in telecommunicator CPR use and participating in the CARES registry will improve survival chances for people in your community who experience cardiac arrest.”

    Pence’s lifeline for Biden

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    Amid the controversy over misplaced classified documents — which started with the discovery of former President Donald Trump’s large cache of papers at Mar-a-Lago — former presidents and vice presidents are checking their files. One of them, Mike Pence, has already inadvertently thrown a lifeline to President Joe Biden, whose handling of secret documents, like Trump’s, is under investigation by a special counsel.

    As Julian Zelizer wrote, “Biden, who has struggled for weeks to contain the fallout surrounding the discovery of classified documents at his home and former office, must have sighed with relief when former Vice President Mike Pence announced classified documents were also found at his home in Indiana.”

    Still, Zelizer added, “Biden, who established himself as the responsible foil to Trump in 2020, has now squandered the political high ground on this issue. And with Pence thrown into the mix, Trump’s team believes the latest developments could help support their argument that this should be treated as an administrative issue, rather than a criminal one. Biden also has more to lose when it comes to the issue of reputation…”

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    For more on politics:

    Patrick T. Brown: The rare bipartisan opportunity House Republicans should take advantage of

    Frida Ghitis: McCarthy’s committee vengeance could pose a grave risk

    SE Cupp: What Trump could weaponize to help his 2024 prospects

    Charlie Dent: Hypocrisy to the max on debt ceiling

    Mary Ziegler: This law from the 1870s could imperil abortion in blue states

    Facebook opens door to Trump

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    Facebook’s two-year-old ban on Trump will soon end, the social network announced. Its parent company Meta “justified its decision to restore Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts by claiming that the risk to public safety ‘has sufficiently receded,’” wrote Jessica J. González, who heads Free Press, a media advocacy organization.

    It’s a statement that will come to haunt Meta executives — and one that ignores the growing body of evidence linking Trump’s invective on social media to real-world political violence,” she argued.

    “The company’s decision to de-platform Trump and his allies appears to have had the desired effect. Following the former president’s departure from mainstream social media sites, one comprehensive study found that online discussions about election disinformation declined by 73%.”

    For more on social media:

    Kara Alaimo: This may be the only way to stop social media from harming our kids


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    The Oscar nomination announcement Tuesday spawned a host of online dustups: “For every exaltation over ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once,’ there’s a sigh of dismay over Viola Davis’ best actress snub, the erasure of ‘Till’ and ‘Decision to Leave,’ and the all-male best director lineup,” wrote Holly Thomas.

    “Among the more niche upsets, ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,’ by far the gnarliest and most beautiful of 2022’s glut of adaptations, did not, as many hoped, pick up a nomination for best picture. It’s languishing instead in the animated feature film category, alongside ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,’ ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,’ ‘The Sea Beast’ and ‘Turning Red’.”

    It’s in excellent company, and as Thomas noted, Del Toro’s stop-motion “Pinocchio” took more than 1,000 days to shoot, and that time and attention are evident in every shadow and crevice as the stringless puppet dances creakily across the screen. What could make more sense than stop motion for a story about breathing life into an inanimate object? No matter how laboriously honed, the figures remain, deliberately, unnatural.”

    Don’t miss

    Jason Colavito: The real problem with ‘mummies’

    David Gergen: Wes Moore is serious about service

    Jill Filipovic: Betraying minors’ privacy on gender identity opens a Pandora’s box

    Allison Hope: George Santos’ drag days are an asinine smokescreen

    Priscilla Koranteng: Job applicants want to know the salary. Companies shouldn’t hesitate to give it

    Adrienne L. Childs: The absurdity of the backlash over the MLK statue


    Ersatz eggs

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    The price of eggs increased by nearly 60% last year, the fastest rate since 1973. But bakers don’t need to despair, according to food journalist Susan Puckett.

    “Lately, savvy vegan bakers have mainstreamed the idea of whipping aquafaba, the liquid drained off a can of chickpeas or white beans, as they would egg whites, and folding them into batters to lighten them,” Puckett noted.

    “Also in baking, bananas, dates, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and avocado can sometimes be substituted for eggs. Silken tofu, yogurt, and chia or flax seeds, which turn to gel when soaked in liquid, can also do the trick.

    And don’t forget another kind of ersatz egg: Puckett tried her great-grandmother’s recipe for a cake using applesauce: “It turned out beautifully: denser than egg-leavened cakes, but moist and highly scarfable, even more so with the thick layer of caramel icing encasing it.” The recipe says the cake will last four days – but in a lot of households, it’s going to vanish much sooner.