News of the week

News of Week Ending April 17

For me, this last week was dominated by watching the Chauvin trial, and working on Burma/Myanmar solidarity and finally getting into shape the interview/discussion with Kieran Knutson and Cheryl Zuur. (See main page of this blog site.) There was a lot more happening in the US and the world, of course, including Biden’s announcement that he will be withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan. This defeat for US imperialism is welcome, but we shouldn’t stop there; most important, we should use it to understand what is happening in Afghanistan and how that fits into the world picture. An article on that is coming. With that said, here’s the comments from Facebook on the news of the last week:

National Guard troops stationed at the Minneapolis Central Labor Council building. The delegates kicked them out. It might have been interesting to have fraternized with them.

Derek Chauvin Trial:
Monday, April 12
Listening to the cardiologist testify. The defense tripped over his own two feed on two occasions. One thing the defense is trying to do is claim that the 90% blockage of one of George Floyd’s heart arteries could have caused a heart attack, so the defense asked the cardiologist about that. The cardiologist explained that if somebody has a blockage of that artery, over time the body will build up other blood vessels to carry out some of the work that that artery does. The defense immediately shifted to another angle of attack. Then, later, the defense tried to blame Floyd for his own death by asking the cardiologist about the time when Floyd resisted being put into the cop car. “If George Floyd had not resisted and had allowed himself to be place in the police car, would he have lived?” he asked. “If George Floyd had not been placed in the prone position for nine and a half minutes, he would have lived that day,” was the answer.

As I have always heard, don’t ask a witness a question when you don’t already know how that witness will answer.

Something else I’ve been noticing about the Chauvin trial:

I always wondered why somebody with money would have a whole stable of lawyers in court or why the prosecution would do the same in an important case. Watching the different witnesses in Chauvin’s trial, the answer seems to me that if you’re going to be serious about a case, you need to thoroughly prepare yourself for questioning each individual witness. That’s especially important in a case like this where so many medical concepts and technical terms come up. And no one lawyer can carry out the necessary level of preparation for every single witness. So I’m guessing that each lawyer is assigned to prepare for certain witnesses and no more.

Again, this really shows why the single decisive factor in the outcome of trials is how much money each side has. I’m also wondering if the cops’ association – who I’m guessing is paying for Chauvin’s defense – hasn’t pretty much figured this is a lost cause and is not putting its all into it.

“We need major, major, major reform…. There’s a lot of work that has to be done to make sure that the police are a constructive and not a destructive force within our communities.” Bernie Sanders on CNN talking about the latest police killing of a young black man. Well, he’s going a little further than he used to, when he implicitly blamed black youth for getting shot by cops. At that time, Sanders responded to such questions by talking about the need for good jobs. In other words, what was happening according to him was that cops were shooting black youth because those youth were criminals. Not criminals of their own choosing, of course, but that was the reason nevertheless. Among other things, Sanders also called for the hiring of more black cops. (He couldn’t call for the hiring of more female cops because this time it was a woman cop who did the deed!)

What no Democrat will ever point out, Sanders included, is that the cops are here to hold people down; they are here as a repressive force and in racist America that necessarily has to include racism.

Tuesday, April 13
First witness for Chauvin’s defense is a cop who had arrested George Floyd in 2019. It’s clearly not relevant at all to what happened last year, yet the judge ruled that it was admissible. So why, then, did the judge rule that evidence of Chauvin’s abusive behavior over 19 years was not admissible?

Remind me again: Is Derek Chauvin on trial or is George Floyd?

Wednesday, April 14
So now I’m listening to parts of the former medical examiner Dr. David Fowler (originally from Zimbabwe – I wonder when he left there and why!). He’s claiming that Floyd could have died from a sudden heart attack. Also, he says it could have been carbon monoxide poisoning since Floyd was being held down right by the tailpipe of the police car. But if it was a heart attack, it would have been caused by the stress due to what Chauvin was doing. Same for carbon monoxide poisoning – it was Chauvin that was holding him there!

I was commenting to a friend of mine that in political races, the appearance – what they call the “affect” – of the candidate matters at least as much as what they say, what they stand for. I suspect it’s similar in a trial like this one. The expert witnesses for the prosecution were all very compelling. They were clear and came off as very sincere, like they had no axe to grind, they were just trying to explain the actual facts. The two expert witnesses for the defense – the use of force expert and the medical examiner – were the exact opposite. They stumbled and appeared to evade questions. Whether what they said was factually correct, I felt, was almost less important that how they said it.

That was my gut feeling. Now, a CNN reporter is saying that he just heard from reporter in the courtroom. That reporter said that while the defense medical expert was testifying one juror was fooling with a pen, another with the top of a water bottle and a third was peeling off her finger nail polish. None was taking personal notes to consult with during deliberations.

The prosecutor just stuck it to the defense expert witness. There has been some discussion about a paraganglioma that George Floyd had. Evidently this is some small tumor like internal growth that can secrete adrenalin. In his answer, the “expert” witness refers to “paraganglionoma”. The prosecutor: “now, just to be clear for the jury, you are referring to paraganglioma,” in other words calling attention to the fact that the “expert” didn’t even get the term right. but he did it in such a “nice” way.

Prior to that, he even waltzed the defense witness into being forced to agree that as soon as Floyd was reported to having been without a pulse, he should have been given CPR.

A couple of other things came out:

1) The expert witness never calculated how much oxygen would have been in Floyd’s body;

2) As far as carbon monoxide poisoning from the tailpipe of the police car: That car was a hybrid, meaning it was emitting no carbon monoxide. (You would think that the defense would have been aware of that and would have therefore not raised the claim.)

While watching the Chauvin trial, as I and others have commented, it seems pretty clear that the main representatives of and strategists for the US capitalist class want a conviction. I believe this is part of their wish to in some ways get the police in hand. Of course, not to have them serve the interests of workers or the majority overall. Nor to stop them from repressing specially oppressed groups in general. But they know that it’s too disruptive to do it in such a blatant way. This comes after years and years of lionizing the cops, of making them the untouchable heroes of society.

Of course, the cops have absorbed that attitude and now they are resisting any change such as what the Chauvin trial indicates.

Fraternizing with the National Guard

So my question has been: How will the cops react as the capitalists try to impose some degree of control over them? The Chauvin trial is an example, and maybe the murder of Daunte Wright is an example of how the cops – or at least some of them – will react. Kind of like, “Okay, you want to make us pay for our misdeeds? You want to try to force us to stop? Well, we’ll show you!” If that is the case, then we are in for a huge crisis in the coming year or so as the media and the capitalist politicians denounce this police violence ever more strongly, and bring more of these cops up on charges while a big mass of cops get even worse.

Thursday, April 15
So, on the last day of testimony, one near disaster: The prosecution evidently hadn’t taken seriously the issue of possible carbon monoxide poisoning and didn’t share with the defense the fact that there had been a test for CO level which came back normal. Therefore, they were prohibited from introducing it at this time and the judge was unequivocal that if the existence of this test was even hinted at, he would declare a mistrial. Therefore, the prosecution brought Dr. Tobin back to testify what the saturation level of oxygen in the hemoglobin was at 98%, which meant that the maximum level of CO could not have been over 2%. This leads to a question: In the original testimony, it was explained that George Floyd had a low oxygen level in his blood as a result of being unable to breathe due to being held prone, etc. Can somebody please explain to me the difference between oxygen saturation level in the hemoglobin and low or high oxygen. (Please add a comment or send Oaklandsocialist an email to explain this.)

Indianapolis Mass Shooting
April 16
Another mass shooting, this time in Indianapolis. My impression is that these shootings tend to be done in or around more conservative areas, that in the major urban centers like Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York, Chicago they tend not to be done so much. Is my impression accurate? I’m wondering what is the relationship between these mass shootings and the general “living in a dream world” of the conspiracy theorists of the far right.

Here is a list of cities where mass shootings have recently happened. It’s compiled from a NY Times article:

  • April 15: Indianapolis
  • April 7: Rock Hill, S.C.
  • April 3: Allen, Texas
  • March 31: Orange, Calif.
  • March 28: Essex, Md.
  • March 22: Boulder, Colo.
  • March 16: Atlanta
  • March 13: Indianapolis
  • Feb. 2: Muskogee, Okla.
  • Jan. 24: Indianapolis
  • Jan. 9: Evanston, Ill.

Boulder does not count as a major urban center, including the fact that it’s not a center of a larger metropolitan area as are cities like Chicago, NYC, LA, or even Oakland. So Atlanta is the only real exception, and in that case the shooter was from outside the general region.

(Following a discussion on the relationship with living in a make-believe world:)

What I’m thinking: The best explanations I have read for the popularity of QAnon have been those comparing them to LARPing – Live Action Role Playing – and the fact that these fans start to lose the ability to distinguish role playing from reality. I think that definitely played an important role in the January 6 lynch mob. I mean, how could these people actually think they could overthrow the US government? And they were living in such an alternate reality that they actually took pictures of themselves committing federal crimes! Can you imagine a bank robber putting himself on live Facebook as he’s robbing a bank?

Then I think about these mass shooters. What does it take, psychologically, to go out and just start snuffing out lives of people you’ve never met? There must be some element of this dream-world unreality – not thinking of how this is affecting the lives of others.

The evidence of this mentality is more widespread than before. What was pushed into the dim recesses of the mentality of many came to the fore and other, more positive, aspects of their thinking receded.

The murder of George Floyd. New such outrages are inevitable.

Categories: News of the week

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