Tuesday, May 5, 2015

NYT/CBS Poll: Race Relations Are At Two Decades Low In America

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new poll released Monday indicated that Americans believe race relations are at their worst in more than two decades.
The CBS News/New York Times poll said 61 percent of Americans characterize race relations in the U.S. as “bad,” including a majority of white and black respondents. The figure is the highest since 1992.
A total of 79 percent of African-Americans believe police are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than against a white person, while 53 percent of whites believe race does not play a role, the survey said.
Black respondents were also more likely than white respondents to believe their local police make them feel anxious rather than safe, the poll said.
The latest poll came in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore – an incident that has sparked heated unrest. Similar negativity about race relations was last seen at the time of the Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King, the poll said.
This was also the first time since 1997 that majorities of both white and black Americans believe race relations in the U.S. are poor, the poll said. Opinions among white Americans have grown sharply more negative in the poll even compared with earlier this year – with 62 percent of whites saying race relations are bad compared with just 35 percent in February.
Black respondents have historically had a more negative view than white respondents about race relations, but the level of pessimism is now similar, according to the poll.
Also, fewer than one in five white Americans think race relations are getting better – with 44 percent responding that relations are getting worse and 37 percent saying they’re staying about the same.
Most respondents – 64 percent of whites and 57 percent of blacks – thought the unrest in Baltimore following Gray’s death was not justified, the poll said.
Six in 10 respondents had a lot or some confidence that the investigation into Gray’s death would be conducted fairly, but the figure was split along racial lines, the poll said. A total of 64 percent of whites say they have at least some confidence in a fair investigation, but 52 percent of blacks have little or no such confidence, the poll said.
But black respondents expressed more confidence in the Gray investigation – at 46 percent – than they did into the investigation into the death of Michael Brown in police custody in Ferguson, Missouri last year.
In terms of views of police officers in their community, three in four respondents said the presence of officers makes them feel safe. But the figure is again split down racial lines – with eight in 10 white respondents saying police officers mostly make them feel safe, compared with 51 percent for black respondents.
Younger Americans were more likely than older Americans to report that police officers make them anxious, the poll said.
A sizable majority of all respondents agreed that on-duty officers should wear body cameras – amounting to 93 percent of both black and white respondents.
The poll was conducted between Thursday, April 30 and Sunday, May 3 among a random sample of 1,027 adults.
The margin of error is plus or minus three points, but is different for subgroups. For the sample of African-Americans, the margin of error is nine points; for whites four points.

ISIS Claim Responsiblity For Terrorist Attack In Texas

CAIRO — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a weekend attack at a center near Dallas, Texas, exhibiting cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
An audio statement on the extremist group's Al Bayan radio station said that "two soldiers of the caliphate" carried out Sunday's attack and promised to deliver more in the future.
The statement did not provide details and it was unclear whether the group was opportunistically claiming the attack as its own. It was the first time the Islamic State, which frequently calls for attacks against the West, had claimed responsibility for one in the United States.
Two suspects in Sunday's attack in the Dallas suburb of Garland were shot dead after opening fire at a security guard outside the center.
It was unclear whether the group, which has captured large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, had an actual hand in the operation, or whether the two suspects had pledged allegiance to the group and then carried out the attack on their own.
The suspects have been identified by officials as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi. They opened fire in on an unarmed security officer stationed outside the contest center featuring cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous, and drawings similar to those featured at the Texas event have sparked violence around the world.
The IS statement was read on the Al Bayan radio, which is based in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group has proclaimed the capital of its self-styled caliphate.
"We tell ... America that what is coming will be more grievous and more bitter and you will see from the soldiers of the Caliphate what will harm you, God willing," it said.
There have been numerous attack in Western countries believed related in some way to the group, which holds roughly a third of Iraq and Syria.
In October, Canada was hit by two terror attacks by so-called "lone wolves" believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State group. In Ottawa, a gunman shot and killed a soldier at Canada's National War Memorial and then stormed Parliament before being gunned down. Two days earlier, a man ran over two soldiers in a parking lot in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot to death by police.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Gov. Walker Critical Of Romney And Bush

MADISON, Wis. — Likely Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker made no secret about what he saw as the failures of Mitt Romney's last run for the White House, devoting an entire chapter of his book to the topic.
But it turns out the Wisconsin governor, way back in 2000, also aired sharp criticism about George W. Bush's efforts in his first presidential bid.
Walker, who was then a 32-year-old state Assembly member, wrote an open memo to Bush he titled "Campaign Strategy" in which he offered detailed advice on how he thought the then-Texas governor should be crafting his message to win the presidency, including what type of television ads he should run.
Walker, now in his second term as governor, is expected to launch his own presidential campaign within the next couple months. Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, will likely be among those duking it out with Walker for the Republican nomination.
The open letter to George W. Bush and the Romney critique provide a window into Walker's thinking on how a presidential campaign should craft its message. And while Walker has spent nearly his entire adult life in elected office after he dropped out of college with about a year to go, the 15-year-old memo shows that how to win the White House has been on Walker's mind for many years.
The advice outlined in the 800-word open letter to Bush is typical of Walker, said Mark Graul, a Republican strategist who ran Bush's 2004 re-election campaign in Wisconsin. Graul said Walker also offered unsolicited advice that year and in 2006, when Graul was running the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green.
"In all of my conversations with him about political strategy, it's never been about tearing the other guy down," Graul said. "It's been about what were my guy's ideas and what was the best way to communicate it to the people we were trying to persuade to vote for us."
In his memo to Bush, Walker recommended specific television ads Bush should run to help him win. He said one spot should feature "real life families" of people such as fire fighters, nurses, construction workers and teachers talking about how much they had saved because of Bush's tax cuts.
Those professions — particularly teachers — came out in force against Walker in 2011 when he effectively ended their collective bargaining rights, with his union-busting measure that put him on the national radar and set the stage for his likely presidential run.
Walker said in his memo to Bush, which was first published on his Assembly campaign website, that his thoughts "reflect the views of the vast majority of undecided voters who want a positive reason to vote for the next President of the United States."
Walker told Bush that his campaign theme should be: "They had their chance for the past eight years and they have not led. We will."
Bush lost Wisconsin in 2000 by just 5,708 votes, or less than a quarter of a percentage point, on his way to defeating Democrat Al Gore for the White House.
Democrats said Walker was looking out for himself by writing the memo to Bush in 2000.
"For 20 years, Scott Walker has been running negative campaigns for higher office and doing anything and everything to advance his personal political ambitions," said Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff. "The hubris and micromanagement we see from him today were on full display when he told George W. Bush how to run his presidential campaign. Some things never change."
Walker told Bush that he should focus on his work with Democrats and Republicans to pass a middle class tax cut in Texas, and his efforts to control health care costs and improve public schools. As he prepares for what would be his first run for national office, Walker talks about many of the same things that he's done as Wisconsin governor: cutting taxes by nearly $2 billion, expanding school choice programs and kicking people off Medicaid who make more than the federal poverty level, while also qualifying others who had been on a waiting list for coverage. The net effect, as of August, was that about 40,000 more people had coverage than before.
Walker, 47, also casts himself as a "fresh faced" alternative to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, who served as Florida's governor for two terms.
Walker's criticisms of Bush are reminiscent of complaints Walker lodged against the Romney presidential campaign in 2012. Walker spent an entire chapter in his 2013 book "Unintimdated" explaining why he thought Romney lost to President Barack Obama.
Walker sent an email to Romney voicing his frustrations about his campaign's tone and urging Romney to show more passion, get out from behind the podium and connect directly with voters.

O'Malley Gets Slammed Over Police Record In Baltimore

BALTIMORE — Martin O'Malley often casts Baltimore as the comeback city that overcame the ravages of drugs and violence when he was mayor.
Now, weeks before the former Maryland governor expects to enter the 2016 presidential race and challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, Baltimore's turnaround has been marred by the unrest after the police-custody death of Freddie Gray. The turmoil has placed new scrutiny on O'Malley's "zero tolerance" law enforcement policies as mayor from 1999 to 2006.
The record shows that murders and violent crime overall declined in O'Malley's years as mayor. But in that time, a grand jury concluded that too many arrests were being made in black neighborhoods without merit. And the city settled a lawsuit from people who said they were wrongly arrested for minor offenses. Altogether, these are the sort of concerns driving some of the anger in Baltimore today.
David Rocah, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, said the O'Malley administration left a legacy of "hyperaggressive and militarized policing" that, in his view, contributed to the outrage behind the riots. "I think the idea that you can arrest your way to public safety has always been deeply misguided and counterproductive," Rocah said.
But O'Malley says those judging him in hindsight should remember the crime and despair of the Baltimore he inherited as mayor.
"I don't think that any of us want to go back to the days of 1999," O'Malley said. "Our city is undoubtedly a safer place, and our city is becoming a better place, but our city still has a lot of progress to make."
He spoke outside the Dawson Safe Haven Center, an after-school refuge for children that was once a home for a family of seven killed in a 2002 firebombing by a drug dealer. O'Malley called that episode "our Alamo."
Even now, O'Malley clings to the story of Baltimore's redemption, terming the unrest "a heartbreaking setback for an otherwise remarkable comeback."
He said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that when he makes an announcement about his presidential intentions, he wouldn't think of making it anywhere other than Baltimore.
O'Malley has tried to build a following in Iowa and New Hampshire as an alternative to Clinton, the dominant front-runner. O'Malley has backed tougher regulations on Wall Street, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and addressed student debt — issues that resonate with liberals.
Still relatively unknown, even among Democrats, O'Malley frequently points to his time as mayor as a key part of his biography.
A 2013 video by his team, shown at a New Hampshire Democratic dinner where he appeared, described Baltimore in the late 1990s as a "cauldron of crime, drugs and profound despair" and credited O'Malley with "an assault on hopelessness. He didn't make a campaign promise to make the city safer, he made a pledge. And he kept it."
In the 1990s, more than 300 people were murdered each year in Baltimore. O'Malley advocated "stop-and-frisk" practices, cracked down on lower-level crimes such as public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and brought in two police commanders from New York steeped in such policing. The number of homicides fell to 253 in 2002 and stayed below 300 during his two terms, while never dropping to his goal of 175.
But the approach did lead to many arrests.
In 2005, a Baltimore grand jury found excessive arrests in black neighborhoods and recommended retraining officers. Judge Joseph McCurdy Jr. had tasked the panel with determining "what can be done to address the lack of confidence that exists between many members of the public and law enforcement."
The ACLU and the NAACP sued in 2006 on behalf of 14 plaintiffs who said they were wrongly arrested as part of a policy that emphasized arrests for minor offenses under O'Malley's watch. The city agreed to the $870,000 settlement in 2010.
O'Malley's successors moved away from zero-tolerance policing.
But he hasn't shied away from his record.
When the recent protests erupted, he cut short a trip in England and Ireland, returned to Baltimore and walked the streets to talk to former constituents and community leaders. Some stopped to shake hands or take pictures with him while others told him about their bad experiences with the police. A few heckled him.
O'Malley told one person the police were also victims of violence. "I buried 10 police officers" as mayor, he said. "Half were black. Half were white."
Asked about the zero-tolerance policy, O'Malley said, "What we had zero tolerance for was police misconduct. We worked at it every day."
On Sunday, he said that "extreme poverty breeds conditions for extreme violence."
His advisers note he created a civilian review board for police conduct, expanded drug treatment and saw a decline in excessive force complaints and police-involved shootings.
After two terms as mayor, he won two terms as governor with strong support in Baltimore.
"The people of Baltimore were given ample opportunities to express at the ballot box their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the direction that our city took to reduce violent crime, to reduce homicides, to make our city more livable," O'Malley said.
Still, some think the riots erupted, in part, from years of frustration among residents who felt unfairly targeted.
"He had some responsibility," said Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, a former president of the NAACP's Baltimore city branch. "But you have to lay blame also with the majority of the City Council, because the majority of them were in office when he was in office."

Ethiopian Jews Protest In Israel

JERUSALEM — Israel's ceremonial president said Monday that an outbreak of violent protests by Ethiopian Jews has "exposed an open, bleeding wound in the heart of Israeli society" and that the country must respond to their grievances.
Reuven Rivlin spoke a day after thousands of people clashed with police in Tel Aviv. The protesters shut down a major highway, hurled stones and bottles at police officers and overturned a squad car. They were ultimately dispersed with tear gas and water cannons. More than 60 people were wounded and 40 arrested.
Simmering frustrations among Israel's Ethiopian community boiled over after footage emerged last week of an Ethiopian Israeli in an army uniform being beaten by police.
Ethiopian Jews begin migrating to Israel three decades ago. Many complain of racism, lack of opportunity, endemic poverty and routine police harassment.
Rivlin said Israel was seeing "the pain of a community crying out over a sense of discrimination, racism, and of being unanswered."
"We must look directly at this open wound. We have erred. We did not look, and we did not listen enough," he said. "We are not strangers to one another, we are brothers, and we must not deteriorate into a place we will all regret."
Sunday night's violence was the second such protest in several days, and demonstrations are expected to continue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Monday with the beaten soldier and community leaders.
About 120,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel today, a small minority in a country of 7 million. Their absorption has been problematic, with many arriving without a modern education and then falling into unemployment and poverty as their family structures disintegrate.
Ethiopian Jews trace their ancestors to the ancient Israelite tribe of Dan. The community was cut off from the rest of the Jewish world for more than 1,000 years.
Israeli clandestine operations rescued large groups of Ethiopian Jews from war and famine in the 1980s and early 1990s. Later waves of immigration also included the Falash Mura, members of a community that converted to Christianity under duress more than a century ago but have reverted to Judaism.