04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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Latoya Harris testifies before the Citizen's Review Committee

PHOTO: Latoya Harris testifies before the Citizen's Review Committee after her 9-year-old daughter was handcuffed and taken downtown in a police car in her bathing suit because of a fight at a youth club six days earlier. Helen Silvis photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has accepted the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Portland on reforms intended to improve the way police deal with the mentally ill, and to rebuild community trust.

But U.S. District Court Michael Simon said Friday he wants annual progress reports, a requirement the City of Portland previously opposed and could challenge in court.  Simon ordered the first such hearing for September 2015. He also brought up the issue of having police wear cameras to monitor their interactions with the public. 

The Justice Department in 2012 found Portland police engaged in a "pattern or practice" of excessive force when dealing with the mentally ill and those perceived to be mentally ill. And a fairness hearing which allowed the public to comment brought a parade of individuals, legal and civil rights organizations who testified about racial profiling and excessive force. Portland Police Bureau announced a slate of reforms but police accountability activists say they want deeper reforms. 

The Department of Justice report acknowledged that a deep mistrust marred relations between police officers and Portland's minority communities, but did not specifically investigate race discrimination. The City of Portland rejected the findings even as it instituted a slate of reforms.  

Among the reforms underway, the city must create a crisis-intervention team, expand its mobile crisis units from a single vehicle to one vehicle per precinct and complete investigations of officer misconduct within 180 days.

The Portland Mercury, which broke the news has posted the judge's ruling in full here.  Read The Portland Mercury story here.

 The Albina Ministerial Alliance issued the following statement:

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform supports the ruling of Judge Simon affirming the Settlement Agreement for reforming the Portland Police Bureau and the active participation of Judge Simon in reviewing the progress or non-progress of implementing the Settlement Agreement.

The Coalition is particularly grateful that Judge Simon has insisted on the participation of all four parties to the lawsuit-- the DOJ, the AMA Coalition, the City and the Police Association-- as well as reports from the Compliance Officer/ Community Liaison.

The Settlement Agreement, while primarily focused on those experiencing mental health issues, should lead to better treatment of all Portlanders.

This ruling is a major step to creating a true community policing culture within the Portland Police Bureau in light of the national attention on Deadly Force and Excessive Force by the Police Department in the Michael Brown death in Ferguson, Missouri.

Yet, there is an intensified need for community engagement and community dialogue to prevent a Ferguson upheaval in Portland and keep Portland striving to create a national model of community policing.

The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is working toward these five

goals:

1. A federal investigation by the Justice Department to include criminal and civil rights violations, as well as a federal audit of patterns and practices of the Portland Police Bureau.

2. Strengthening the Independent Police Review Division and the Citizen Review Committee with the goal of adding power to compel testimony.

3. A full review of the Bureau's excessive force and deadly force policies and training with diverse citizen participation for the purpose of making recommendations to change policies and training.

4. The Oregon State Legislature narrowing the language of the State statute for deadly force used by police officers.

5. Establishing a special prosecutor for police excessive force and deadly force cases.

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