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Wednesday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Wednesday August 20, 2014 8:43 pm


A model of a neanderthal with a walking stick

“So, want to go out for drinks on Friday?”

Tonight’s video is “Giant Rubber Duck Sails Into Port of Los Angeles,” from LA’s ABC7.

The famous giant duck, designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, sailed into the Port of Los Angeles early Wednesday morning.

The duck is just one of the attractions at the five-day Festival of Tall Ships.

At 2 p.m., the six-story-tall duck sculpture will lead a parade of domestic and international ships making their way along the Main Channel.

Event organizers say the rubber duck is an impressive sight to see.

‘This is 61 feet, 11 tons, about 85 feet wide and about 110 feet long,’ said Craig Samborski, spokesperson for the Festival of Tall Ships. ‘I was shocked when I saw the size of it right in front of me.’

Until recently, scientists mostly agreed that Homo sapiens wiped out the neanderthals. Then came evidence of interbreeding. Now a new study suggests that neanderthals faded gradually and were assimilated over time into the human population as their numbers dwindled, rather than the widespread violent extermination believed before. From Live Science:

To help solve the mystery of when Neanderthals went extinct, scientists analyzed bone, charcoal and shell materials from 40 archaeological sites from Russia to Spain. They employed advanced techniques for more precise dating of these specimens that involved ultra-filtering molecules from bone samples for examination and removing organic contaminants that could make specimens seem younger than they actually are.

The new findings suggest that Neanderthals disappeared from Europe between about 41,000 and 39,000 years ago.

‘I think that, for the first time, we have a reliable extinction date for Neanderthals,’ said study author Tom Higham, a radiocarbon scientist at the University of Oxford in England. ‘This has eluded us for decades.’

The Neanderthal extinction occurred across sites ranging from the Black Sea to the Atlantic Coast of Europe. The timing and geography suggest Neanderthals may have overlapped with modern humans for 2,600 to 5,400 years, opening the door for genetic and cultural exchanges between the two groups for millennia.

These findings suggest that modern humans did not rapidly replace Neanderthals in Europe — say, via violent means. Rather, the Neanderthal extinction ‘might have been more complex and drawn out than previously thought,’ Higham told Live Science.

There is some genetic evidence that Neanderthals in Western Europe may have experienced declining genetic diversity about the time when the first modern humans began arriving on the continent, Higham said. “This might mean that they were fading out at this time, although, of course, our evidence suggests that there was a long period of overlap during which this occurred,” he said.

Neanderthals may not even have truly disappeared, but instead have been assimilated into modern human populations. “We know, of course, that we have a genetic legacy from Neanderthals of about 1 to 2 percent, so there was interbreeding,” Higham said.

Bonus: A right-wing think tank was forced to apologize for telling Amnesty International to “suck it,” via Talking Points Memo

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A Folk-rap-rock Police State Opera for Ferguson & beyond (with libretto)

By: wendydavis Friday September 28, 2012 7:08 am

We all must be hearing music when witnessing militarized police assassinations and crackdowns on protests, journalists, and dissidents of any flavor.  Here are some of mine. Were I a victim of the same rather than an observer, they might be different; who can say?  What do you hear? 

And let us please, not forget Jackson State, two killed and twelve others shot by National Guard and many other ‘security agencies’ two days later; few were even aware of it.  LA 1992 after the Rodney King verdict, 50 dead, 2000 injured before it was over.  Detroit ’67, Watts ’65, Harlem ’64…and the beat goes on.  But it must stop.

#TWIBnation (This Week in Blackness, apparently), one of the few black journalist organizations on the ground in Ferguson.  Warning: it’s hideous, but all sound, no video.  You may be feelin’ this afterward:

Seen on Twitter:

 “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

~ Commander William Adama (Battlestar Galactica)

And close to: “Why do white people keep telling us how we should act in the face of all this racist shit?”

The Golden Shovel Days

By: David Cox Wednesday August 20, 2014 8:28 am

2.6 Billion dollar Revel Hotel & Casino

In his 1989 documentary Roger & Me, Michael Moore examined the demise of Flint, Michigan, after GM shuttered its auto assembly plants and moved them to Mexico. In an effort to revitalize the economy, the convention and visitors bureau set off with a plan to bring tourists to Flint and replace lost revenue. First building a Hyatt Regency hotel and then, Auto-world. An automotive based theme park, as well as, Water Street Pavilion, a festival market place.

There’s an old saying I learned while living in Alabama which says, “You can’t do business with folks who ain’t got no money.” A business analyst illustrated with a piece of paper folded into four quarters. “Some people want to do business with you and will,” As he tore off a quarter, dropping it to the floor. “Some people don’t want to do business with you, but could,” he explained, tearing off another quarter. “Some people want to do business with you but can’t, some people don’t want to do business with you, and won’t.” So even if you’re selling twenty dollars bills for five bucks, not everyone’s interested. Only a small percentage of all the business out there is actually available.

The first rule of Real Estate is location, location, location, so why not build a hotel and convention center in Flint? Why wouldn’t tourists flock to a Mecca of American urban decay to spend their hard earned entertainment dollars? Why not a crime inspired theme park, Ghetto World! (Where the roller coasters ain’t scary, but getting off is!) But remember, just because these attractions closed down, doesn’t mean that they were unsuccessful. Land owners made money, construction companies made money, architects, designers and the suppliers made money and in all probability, the politicians made money too.  The only people to lose on the deal were those people dumb enough to put up the money and in most cases… that was you and I.

Community block grants, redevelopment grants, municipal bonds and on and on, I saw this while living in Montgomery. In an effort to lure shoppers back downtown, the city used block grant money to erect concrete sun shields to shade the sidewalks. It didn’t fix the parking problem or change the fact, that air conditioned shopping malls were closer than downtown. Twenty years later, they used block grant money again, this time to tear the shields down, declaring them an eyesore; your tax dollars at work.

Montgomery has tried to lure tourists and has genuine attractions worth seeing, the problem is most tourists are headed to Florida and don’t want to stay the night in the Cradle of the Confederacy. It’s not that these plans are necessarily bad; the real question is, are they cost effective? Is spending a $1.00 to draw in .85 cents in revenue, a good idea?  Is it a good idea spending millions of dollars, putting the tax payers on the hook for profits which go directly into the pockets of developers? It means jobs! It always means jobs! Good jobs too! As a hotel maid or a desk clerk, a parking attendant or a security guard. Because once you’ve been to Montgomery and seen the sites, you’ll probably want to come back next year and see it all over again.

The Minnesota Vikings have been negotiating with the state and city of Minneapolis for a new football stadium. The Minnesota Football Stadium Task Force found, “when a [NFL] team wins, people’s moods improve,” and that personal income for residents of a city with an NFL team with 10 wins increases about $165 per year.” Following that logic, let’s build two stadiums or even three! I could use the money!  Clearly, building a billion dollar stadium guarantees a winning sports franchise, right? A $975 million dollar price tag with $348 million covered by the state and $150 million more, covered by a new “hospitality tax” in Minneapolis. So the Minnesota tax payers get $165 in promised new income, plus get to feel better about their lives, living in a state with a winning football franchise and only costing them $321.45 each! The state was to fund a portion of their share with (charitable gambling) i.e. lottery games. The revenue was estimated at $34 million annually in 2012, rising each year after. But strangely, as soon as the deal was inked the revenue forecasts were revised down to $16 million in 2013. A further study estimated revenues 2013 – 17 would fall to $1.7 million annually, a 95 percent reduction.

The Vikings principle owner is Zygi Wilf, a multimillionaire Real Estate developer from New Jersey. During all of the discussions and legal debates surrounding the new stadium, Wilf has been busy buying up adjacent properties. He’s planning on redeveloping the neighborhood; including a new light rail stop (tax payer funded, of course) 4,500 residential units, hotels, office space and retail space too! All dependent on funding supplied in part by the good citizens of Minnesota, who are to be paid back at some later date, profiting a very, very few, who’ll get paid today. This is what corporate Fascism is all about, public money supporting private projects to benefit the few, the well connected, the insiders.

It’s sort of like that movie, The Music Man where a con man comes to town convincing the rubes there’s a problem with their sports franchise. They need a new stadium and he selling stadiums! Convincing the rubes that if the children think they can make downtown prosperous, they can!

The Strange Case of Sympathy for Oppressors

By: BrandonJ Tuesday August 19, 2014 7:19 pm
Riot police lined up in front of an American flag dripping with blood

When it comes to police brutality, some white people just don’t get it.

On Sunday, The Guardian featured a piece on the shooting of Michael Brown. What was astounding was how it was about supporters for the officer, Darren Wilson, involved in the death of Michael Brown.

In St. Louis, Mo., protesters, “almost all white” as journalist Jon Swaine wrote, gathered to support Wilson as they felt media coverage was unfair and did not include the whole story of what happened. One person told Swaine the officer was “just doing his job.” As to what his job was that day or whether killing a person is a qualification to be a cop is still unknown.

A day later, Pew Research Center released a survey on Americans’ response toward Brown’s death and whether race was involved. The title of the piece, “Stark Racial Divisions in Reactions to Ferguson Police Shooting,” gave away the surprising conclusions. Overall, 44 percent of Americans thought the case raised “important issues about race,” while 40 percent thought race was “getting more attention than it deserves.”

The racial divide was significant as more whites agreed that race was not important in the case. Even 15 percent of whites were unsure about the question of race compared to two percent of blacks who were also unsure.

“Blacks and whites have sharply different reactions to the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo., and the protests and violence that followed. Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say that the shooting of Michael Brown ‘raises important issues about race that need to be discussed’,” the report summarized.

This racial divide on an issue like this is not the first as Pew highlights similar opinions held by Americans the previous year with the Trayvon Martin case. At the time, 78 percent of blacks stated race was an important issue in contrast to just 28 percent of whites who agreed it was an important issue.

These two stories can be linked to the strange case of sympathy for those who commit violent acts when race is obviously a factor. The Ferguson Police Department initially blamed Brown for robbing a convenience store, although the store owner stated there was never a robbery.  In fact, in Swaine’s story, the only black person at the St. Louis demonstration referenced the event and said Brown had a “criminalistic bent” as a result.

Yet, it was later released the robbery had nothing to do with why Brown was stopped as the issue was walking in the middle of traffic. Whatever the case may be, such an error by the police questions their intentions surrounding this case.

However, the issue of race also ties in with the issue of police brutality. It must also include the system that permits such brutality in the first place. As Arun Gupta wrote in an article two years ago on Rodney King, “police abuses are not the result of a few bad apples, but our systemic solution to reoccurring economic crises, whether in the sixties, the nineties or today.”

A study from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement two years ago found a black man was killed every 28 hours by “police, and to a lesser extent security guards and vigilantes.” If violence is the solution this system offers for black youth, then it is the wrong system to follow. What is happening in Ferguson invokes images of the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes where such deferred dreams can result in explosion if nothing is done.

Whether Wilson was “doing his job,” it does matter when shirts are sold with “Officer Darren Wilson—I stand by you.” This is a stand for violence and refusing to discuss important issues in this matter. It is a stand on an issue without taking into consideration all the facts of the case.

Furthermore, in the Pew survey, 33 percent of whites believed police actions in Ferguson “had gone too far,” while 32 percent believed it was “about right.” Moreover, 35 percent were “unsure.”

Big Rail Cites Bin Laden, Al Qaeda to Fight Oil-by-Rail Route Transparency

By: Steve Horn Wednesday August 20, 2014 8:21 am
oil train

Big Rail done little to halt the very terrorism threats it claims a desire to stop

While many states around the U.S. have released information to the public about the frequency and routes of trains carrying oil obtained from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, holdouts still remain.

Why the delay? Homeland security concerns, claim some companies.

In an ongoing Maryland court case over the issue of transparency for in-state oil-by-rail routes, a July 23 affidavit from Carl E. Carbaugh — director of infrastructure security for Norfolk Southern — goes into extensive detail about the supposed risk presented by terrorism attacks on “Bomb Trains.”

In so doing, Carbaugh mentions Al-Qaeda.

“The most recent edition of Inspire magazine, March 2014, the online, English-language propaganda publication of [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], presents a full-page collage depicting varied images…in order to construct an explosive device,” reads Carbaugh’s affidavit.

“Among these images are a derailed passenger train and a partly covered note paper listing cities in the [U.S.] as well as the terms ‘Dakota’ and ‘Train crude oil.’”

Carbaugh also cited Osama bin Laden, the late Al-Qaeda international ring-leader, in his affidavit.

“Among the materials seized in the May 1, 2011, raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, were notes indicating interest in ‘tipping’ or ‘toppling’ trains — that is causing their derailment,” Carbaugh wrote.

Jay Apperson, director of communications for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), told DeSmogBlog that no hearing date has been set yet for Norfolk Southern’s legal complaint nor the companion complaint filed by CSXCorporation.

In its lawsuit filed against the Maryland environment department, CSX deployed similar arguments.

Apperson says both lawsuits were redundant because “we reiterated [to both companies] that we would not release the documents under state open records law until the court challenge is resolved.”

MDE filed a response arguing such in July 25 legal motions issued to CSX and Norfolk Southern.

CSX, according to its website, does not even have any oil-by-rail lines running through Maryland.

Like Old Dominion, Like Garden State

Big Rail has used a similar approach in New Jersey, another state that has not yet publicly-disclosed oil-by-rail route information.

Lee Moore, a New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety spokesman, explained why to The Record.

“Releasing all of the records, which include the rail lines on which Bakken crude oil is being transported, would pose a homeland security risk,” said Moore.

“Clocks and Windows”

William Larkin Jr., a Republican member of the New York Senate, believes the argument put forward in both Maryland and New Jersey is flawed on its face.

“I feel that both the U.S. Department of Transportation and a number of critics seemed to have missed the point, at least the larger point,” Larkin Jr. told the Poughkeepsie Journal on July 20. “[People] already know which rail lines oil companies are utilizing. Clocks and windows provide this information.”

As reported on DeSmogBlog, Big Rail has historically shored up exemptions from “right to know” laws and they have pushed hard to keep it that way.

Security Concerns: Holes in the Story

If the rail companies have serious concerns about terrorism threats to Bakken oil trains, their recent actions call such concerns into question.

Prior to the release of the new proposed oil-by-rail regulations, Big Rail lobbied against any regulations requiring the trains to be attended at all times. And they were successful, as this is not included in the proposed regulations.

Further, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) — owned by Warren Buffet, a major campaign contributor to President Barack Obama — is currently in the midst of a stand-off against organized labor. The battle centers around BNSF’s push for single person train operation, trains driven by a one-man ‘crew’ rather than the traditional two member crews.

Other ways experts have suggested to reduce risks of oil trains include lowering speed limits and stripping volatility of the oil prior to shipping via a process called stabilization.

However, prior to the release of the new proposed DOT regulations, the American Association of Railroads and the American Petroleum Institute both said two things should be off the table: train speeds and mandatory stabilization.

“Citizens for Rail Security”

Despite holes in its narrative about national security risks associated with disclosure of oil-by-rail routes, one measure some companies have taken is to create citizen volunteer security groups.

VIDEO: Detroit Water Crisis is a Prelude to the Privatization of Water

By: Dennis Trainor Jr Tuesday August 19, 2014 6:07 pm

Originally posted at AcronymTV

Atpeace Makita, a single mother of five children who turned to activism after her water was shut off by the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, talks with Dennis Trainor, Jr. about the Detroit Water Brigade and what it is like to living during the current push for the privatization of the water supply.

Only the Polar Ice Caps contain more fresh water that The Great Lakes.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, The Great Lakes are the largest surface fresh water system on the Earth, providing 84% of North America’s surface fresh water and 21% of the world’s supply.

AtPeace Makita is at the center of a growing wave of activism fighting what the UN has called a clear violation of human rights: “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” U.N. officials said in a news release. “Because of a high poverty rate and a high unemployment rate, relatively expensive water bills in Detroit are unaffordable for a significant portion of the population.”

“If Detroit can be used as a prototype,” asks Makita “why can’t it happen in LA, Chicago, or New York? On top of the bankruptcy, on top of the foreclosures, on top of the mayoral issues and emergency manager, on top of all of it – now you want to take our life source?”

Under the “stewardship” of emergency management, shutting off the life source of many Detroiters is exactly what is happening.

In March of this year, more than half of all the customers of Detroit Water and Sewage department were more than 60 days delinquent on their water bills.Including businesses, schools and commercial buildings the department has about 323,900 Detroit accounts. As of March 6, nearly 165,000 of those accounts were overdue to the tune of $175 million. There are also more than 296,000 residential accounts –more than 154,000 of which are delinquent for $91.7 million

As Carl Gibson, writing for, points out: “The water shutoffs in Detroit, which is currently in the middle of a bankruptcy fight, are merely a prelude to the outright privatization of water and other public assets. Defenders of Kevyn Orr’s water shutoffs claim that residents need to simply pay their bills to avoid losing their water. Others argue that water infrastructure needs to be paid for – and if it isn’t, the only logical conclusion is that those who don’t pay for the infrastructure will lose their water.”

Makita describes her work with the Detroit Water Brigade, where she serves as Creative Director, as working towards a cultural shift. The system, says Makita, is not working and “we need to create another system that works for all of us.”

Noting that the Detroit t Water and Sewage Department is a public utility that in now under the oversight of an unelected emergency manager, Makita’s message to people outside of Detroit is both a warning and an invitation.

“What if your water is cut off, “ she asks “what if you are not controlling that spigot? Then what?”

About the guest 

AtPeace Makita is the Creative Director of The Detroit Water Brigade. A mother of six children, she is a native Detroiter and an honorable veteran of the U.S. Military.

Over Easy: Orange Alert Issued for Iceland’s Bárðarbunga Volcano

By: Crane-Station Wednesday August 20, 2014 3:29 am
An icy mountain under a sunny blue sky

Another volcano in Iceland may be preparing to erupt.

Following a swarm of 2600 earthquakes on Saturday in and around Iceland’s Bárðarbunga Volcano, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) reports that the Bárðarbunga civil aviation color code has been raised to “Orange.” IMO defines this alert: “ORANGE: Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.” IMO reports:

The intense seismic activity that started on 16 of August at Bárðarbunga persists. Very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, is corroborated by GPS measurements. There are currently two swarms: one to the E of Bárðarbunga caldera and one at the edge of Dyngjujökull just E of Kistufell. At 2.37 am on the 18th a strong earthquake (M4) was located in the Kistufell swarm.

This is the strongest earthquake measured in the region since 1996. As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bárðarbunga aviation color code has been changed to orange.

Yesterday, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police (NCIP) reported that evacuations are beginning, in preparation for the volcano’s eruption.

The Bárðarbunga volcano system is about 700 meters beneath the ice. Bárðarbunga is a stratovolcano. Also known as a composite volcano, the stratovolcano:

is a conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic explosive eruptions and quiet eruptions, although some have collapsed craters called calderas.

A stratovolcano is not a supervolcano. By way of historic comparison, two notable stratovolcanoes include Krakatoa (1883) and Vesuvius (79 AD), whereas a notable historic supervolcano includes Yellowstone. Mount Saint Helens is a stratovolcano.

The alert levels are a type of early warning system, and they are issued in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull Volcano eruption in 2010, for example, interrupted large portions of European airspace until atmosperic ash returned to safe levels for air travel.

International Business Times reports:

Intense seismic activity observed at Iceland’s Bardarbunga on Saturday has prompted the country’s Met Office to issue a warning for airlines about a potential eruption at the volcano, which is located beneath Vatnajokull, Europe’s biggest glacier. Officials said they have noticed very strong signs of magma movement through underground fractures.

On Monday, the Met Office changed the Bardarbunga aviation color to orange, which is the fourth level on a five-grade scale and indicates “heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.”


How to Pronounce Bárðarbunga Volcano

It’ll be time for some Bárðarbunga, if Iceland’s latest volcano threat erupts

Alert: Area North of Bárðarbunga Volcano Evacuated

Another Unpronounceable Icelandic Volcano Is Getting Ready to Explode

At Over Easy, we welcome all topics, and we encourage lurkers to unlurk and join in the discussion. See you in the comments!

This Week in White Privilege

By: hotflashcarol

I am not Michael Brown. I am a blonde, middle-aged, middle class white woman. I have committed the very same crimes and transgressions that Michael Brown is alleged to have committed. When I was 18, I smoked pot and shoplifted. Much more recently and on multiple occasions, I have been disrespectful to police. For instance, at a New Year’s memorial for Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station, I walked right up to a cop sitting in his car with the window rolled down. I said, “Happy New Year, Officer!” He smiled. I said, “Try not to kill anybody this year, OK?” Yet Officer Friendly did not grab me by my white throat and shoot me at least six times and leave my white lifeless body uncovered in the street, only to take me away many hours later—not in an ambulance or a hearse but in an unmarked SUV.

I have been mostly unaware of my white privilege for most of my life. When I was in junior high school in the 1970’s, I moved from a rural town in Nevada with no black people at all to a rural Alabama town with more than a few. As the new girl at the public, integrated school, I was picked on mercilessly by the mean white girls. In response, my illogical, racist parents moved me to a private, all-white school. My parents were quite poor but white privilege still afforded them the ability to choose a different school for me – albeit one that did not receive federal funding and whose student body consisted of the most hateful and backward people I had ever been privileged to meet.

When we moved to Texas and there were race riots in my high school, I wore my friendship with black students like a cloak of invincibility. I sat on the hood of a police car in the school parking lot and had an ironic picture taken for the high school annual. Much more recently, during Occupy protests, I provoked police and thereby put people of color at risk. But it wasn’t until I attempted to school a black woman older than me on how to assert your rights when the police are trying to take them away that I realized I had no idea what the fuck I was talking about and that it was time to shut up and educate myself about white privilege. Let me Google that for you.

* * *

This Week in White Privilege

White privilege has been on lurid, technicolor display since, in an “isolated incident,” white police officer Darren Wilson killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In addition to the ensuing police riots and the City of Ferguson follies that have been covered extensively on cable news since white reporters started getting teargassed and arrested, these things actually really honestly happened:

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, a white man, said that the curfew in Ferguson should be reinstated because “We do not do justice in America in the streets . . . . We have legal processes that are set in motion, that are designed after centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence tradition, they’re designed to protect the rights and liberties of everyone involved.”

Ignoring the young black man who was staging a silent protest in which he portrayed the dead body of Michael Brown, assorted smiling white people had their pictures taken at Love Park in Philadelphia. “There was an older white couple that wanted to take a picture in front of the LOVE statue. The older white gentleman said, ‘Why do they have to shove their politics down our throats?’ The woman replied, ‘They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.’” Be sure to scroll down on the link and click through the photos to see more of this novel tourist attraction.

CNN International anchor Rosemary Church, a white woman, wondered if using water cannons on Ferguson protesters might be more appropriate than tear gas or flashbangs. Protesters gathered at CNN headquarters in response in Atlanta on Monday night but, oddly enough, CNN did not cover that event.

White Huffington Post Reporter Ryan Reilly posted a photo on Twitter of what he thought were rubber bullets. Even after he was tweeted into the dustbin of clueless hipster history, Rachel Maddow still featured him on her show and thanked him for his invaluable reporting from Ferguson. Ouch, dude, those bullets must have stung.

The predominately white administration of the City of Ferguson decided that this whole dustup was just a matter of miscommunication and hired an all-white PR firm (with ties to Monsanto, Eli Lilly and United HealthCare) to do damage control.

In an isolated incident not far from the isolated incident in which Michael Brown was killed, two St. Louis police officers (race unknown), shot and killed a 23-year-old, learning disabled black man who had a knife. Well, after all, he did ask.
The horrifying cell phone video of this killing has now been posted; see the link in comment 53 below.