US Debt Reaches $18 Trillion; Surges 70% In Obama’s ‘Recovery’

US Debt Reaches $18 Trillion; Surges 70% In Obama’s ‘Recovery’

Total U.S. national debt hit a new record high overnight at over $18 trillion as the Obama administration continues to pile debt onto the back of the U.S. taxpayer at a rate that would have made George W. Bush look prudent.




With the U.S. national debt or government debt now at over a staggering $18 trillion, it means that each household in the U.S. now carries the burden of $124,000 in national debt alone – or $56,378 per individual. This does not include the massive private debt or household debt burden – people’s  mortgages, personal loans, credit card debt, student loans, car loans and other household debt.

When Obama took office in 2009, the national debt had surged to $10.6 trillion up from $3 trillion at the beginning of Bush’s tenure in 2001.

It also means that total U.S. debt has increased by 70 percent under Obama, from $10.625 trillion on January 21, 2009 to over $18.005 trillion today.

As ever, historical context is all important. The U.S National Debt took 43 Presidents from 1789 until 2008 to reach $9 trillion. The National Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up nearly $8 trillion since President Obama took office.

In short, the federal government has borrowed, and spent, nearly $7.5 trillion more since President Obama took office than it has collected in taxes. Obama’s policies have continued to favour Wall Street and corporate interests over Main Street.The U.S. national debt is spiralling out of control, seemingly without any plan to ever reign it in and yet the rise above $18 trillion was not reported in mainstream media.


Brillig.com

Compared to this time last year, the national debt has grown by another$1 trillion. At the end of September 2013, the cumulative debt stood at $16.74 trillion. Now it is over $17.76 trillion.

Astoundingly, more than $7 trillion of additional US national debt will have been accumulated over the 8 year duration of Obama’s two presidencies, which is more than the accumulated U.S. national debt of all previous U.S. presidents combined.

This is not to mention the astronomical expenses of more than $200 trillion of U.S. government unfunded liabilities such as medicare, medicaid and social security.

Household debt–including mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and student loans — remains close to $12 trillion.

The U.S. debt position increasingly has all the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme. The Daily Treasury Statement that was released last Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to eat turkey on Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 in new debt since fiscal 2015 started. This is just eight weeks ago. they had to do this in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government.

During those eight weeks, Treasury took in $341,591,000,000 ($341 billion) in revenues. That was a record for the period between October 1 and November 25. But that record $341,591,000,000 ($341 billion)  in revenues was not enough to finance ongoing government spending let alone pay off old debt that matured.

A conservative measure of the U.S. National Debt to GDP ratio is now around 103%. The talking heads have, for many years, downplayed the out of control spending of successive administrations with the justification that it was below the “psychologically important” debt to GDP ratio of 100%.

Well, here we are now over 100%  and all is quiet.

The Total U.S. Debt to GDP ratio is now over 300%. Such debt levels ordinarily give rise to debt crises and currency crises.

So how can we expect this scenario to play out? If it hasn’t mattered thus far why should it matter now? Well for one, U.S. government profligacy has been protected by the extraordinary status that the dollar has enjoyed as a reserve currency since the early 1970s and Nixon going off the Gold Standard.




Heretofore, almost all balance of trade deficits have been settled with dollars. All oil transactions have been settled in dollars. This has allowed the U.S. an “exorbitant privilege” in the words of  Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French Minister of Finance. It has allowed the U.S. to live beyond its means because its currency remained in demand regardless of its economic performance.

Over the course of this year, however, the dollar has taken what should be seen as an alarming series of blows to its status as trusted sole global reserve currency as currency wars intensify.

Increasingly, the new power bloc that are the BRICS nations are settling their trade deficits with domestic currencies, by-passing the dollar. Russia and Turkey have just signed a gas-line agreement to this effect. As have russia and the emerging superpower China.

There is a perception that the U.S. dollar is still strong and is still the reserve currency of choice.

This is based on the strong performance of the Dollar Index as of late. It is important to note the distinction between the dollar and the Dollar Index. The index rates the dollar relative to a basket of other mainly western currencies, primarily the euro. The recent “strength” of the dollar is merely strength against these other struggling currencies including the euro.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, pointed out last week that “the seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7.” This drives home the message that the economic might of the U.S. is waning. It is doubtful whether it will be able to re-establish or indeed maintain the Bretton Woods paradigm which gave the dollar it’s preeminent status.

Another major cause for concern should be the impending rise in interest rates. The ability of the U.S. to service its debt will be drastically reduced if rates move higher. Already a number of states have defaulted. The luxury of determining interest rates may not be one that the Fed will enjoy for very much longer. When rates do finally rise we may witness the default of the U.S..

If this spectre comes to pass – and possibly independent of it – there will be demand for a new store of wealth. History teaches us, regardless of our own philosophical or economic outlook, that gold will be one such store.




The BRICs countries are major purchasers of gold – both their people and their central banks. If economic influence is moving East it would be prudent to emulate them and acquire gold as a store of value. As always, we advocate allocated and segregated
gold coins and bars in secure vaults and in safe jurisdictions around the world.

This continuing surge in the U.S. national debt means that the U.S. is now the largest debtor nation in the world – by a significant margin. This profligacy will be paid back by the American people, and most likely by people every where, in the form of higher taxes, higher interest rates, inflation and almost certainly currency crises.

 Get Breaking News and Updates On Gold Markets Here

MARKET UPDATE
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,197.00, EUR 962.68 and GBP 761.60 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,178.75, EUR 945.46  and GBP 750.56 per ounce.

Gold climbed $45.60 or 3.91% to $1,212.60/oz yesterday. Silver soared $1.03 or 6.67% to $16.47/oz and surged nearly 17% from the interday low. Such volatility and intra-day reversals frequently presages a bottom.

Gold’s rally was likely due to  technical buy signals and a short squeeze, robust demand from China and India with the potential for increased Indian imports.  GOFO backwardation continues suggesting stresses in the physical inter bank market for large London good delivery bars.



A sudden fall in stock markets globally made traders nervous and likely contributed to gold’s safe haven bounce.

Gold has fallen marginally today and is testing the $1,200/oz level today. The greenback rose to the highest since 2009 yesterday amid continual hints and suggestions that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next year.

With the U.S. national debt surging another $1 trillion in recent months to over $18 trillion, it is difficult to see how interest rates can be raised in any meaningful way without creating an economic collapse. This is not too mention the huge levels of private debt at every level of American society and indeed the unfunded liabilities of between $100 trillion and $200 trillion.


The precious metals group climbed as crude oil went south and dropped to its lowest price in 5 years prior to a sharp bounce.


Silver for immediate delivery dropped 1.7% to $16.183 an ounce in London. It rebounded yesterday from a five-year low of $14.4235 to settle 6.5% higher, the biggest gain since January 2012.


Platinum slid 1.7%  to $1,217.50 an ounce. Prices gained 3.2% yesterday, the most since August 2013. Palladium lost 0.7% to $802 an ounce.

Essential Guide to Storing Gold Bullion In Switzerland




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U.K. Censors Spanking, Rough Sex, and Other Assorted Kink With New Porn Regs

Continuing
on its recent censorship-happy path, the U.K. government amended
regulations this week to prohibit online porn from depicting a variety of erotic
activities
. Now-illicit acts range from the very specific
(female ejaculation; “spanking, caning, and whipping beyond a
gentle level”) to the incredibly broad (“verbal abuse”). But
basically, the U.K. has banned BDSM and certain forms of fetish
porn—or at least, charging money for that sort of porn. 

The new rules come as part of the 2014 Audiovisual Media
Services Regulations, which amends the country’s previous
communications law to require all “Video on Demand” services to
meet standards set by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).
From Vice UK: 

… from now on, VoD porn – online porn you still pay for,
essentially – must fall in line with what’s available on DVD.
That means that British pornography producers will no longer be
able to offer content online that couldn’t be bought in a sex
shop.

Acts that are no longer acceptable include: spanking, caning and
whipping beyond a gentle level; penetration by any object
“associated with violence”; activities that can be classed as
“life-endangering”, such as strangulation and facesitting; fisting,
if all knuckles are inserted; physical or verbal abuse, even if
consensual; the portrayal of non-consensual sex; urination in
various sexual contexts; and female ejaculation.

It’s a strange, highly-subjective list of sexual behavior deemed
too deviant for folks to be exposed to. (Who knew women orgasming
were so scandalous?) “R18 is a strange thing,” Jerry Barnett,
founder of anti-censorship campaign Sex and Censorship, told
Vice. “There appear to be no rational explanations for
most of the R18 rules–they’re simply a set of moral judgements
designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the British
people from watching pornography.”

Adult filmmakers in the U.K. who show their videos on for-pay
porn sites are now limited in what they can feature, and websites
that charge for porn content are limited in what they can show. But
of course there’s plenty of (both free and for-sale) BDSM and
fetish porn out there on the World Wide Web. U.K. lawmakers are
essentially just further driving homegrown porn purveyors out of
business. The industry is already strained by age-verification filters,
mandated last year, which have driven up website operating costs
while turning away customers. 

Both regulations disproportionately affect smaller, independent
porn producers and websites. As Vice’s Frankie Mullin
points out, the new censorship rules will have less effect on large
porn producers and mainstream sites, “which tend to favour the
strip, blowjob, fuck, cum-all-over-a-woman’s-face formula, but the
UK’s smaller, independent producers,” specifically fetish
producers. These include people like Ms Tytania, who makes
feminist-tinged dominatrix porn, and pretty much anybody else whose
products deviate from normative sexual practices. The rules really
are a crazy infringement on freedom of artistic expression, not
solely a commercial setback for someone who runs subscription
rough-sex sites (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
 

This comes in the wake of increasing action from the U.K. government
(as well elsewhere in the European Union) toward censoring the
Internet. The more I read about things like this latest round of
U.K. porn censorship or the Europe Union’s new “right to be
forgotten”, the more I do stop and appreciate the speech
protections we have in the U.S., even if those are ever
under-attack from over-zealous politicians and culture warriors. As
J.D. Tuccille wrote in response to a recent report on press freedom in the
Americas, “the bad news is that the United States has …
downward-spiraling respect for freedom of the press. The good news
is that our officials’ transgressions pale in comparison to the
crimes inflicted on free speech and free inquiry” elsewhere. I
don’t think British-style web (and porn) censorship will fly here,
but not for lack of a want of it from both lawmakers and activists.
We’re just lucky enough to have the First Amendment. 

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The CBO Was Created to Provide a Check on Executive Power

An
unsigned
editorial
in The Wall Street Journal today calls for
Republicans to better control the institutions of Congress—namely
the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as well as the Joint
Committee on Taxation (JCT)—ideally by abolishing them entirely.
But it does not portray the history and purpose entirely
accurately, and, as a result, is mistaken what would likely happen
if the office were to be shut down.

The CBO, according to the editorial, “was created by Democratic
majorities to counter GOP Presidents and support the Democratic
agenda of expanding government.” This misunderstands the conflict
that gave rise to the office. The legislation that created the CBO
didn’t come from a partisan dispute, but a long-brewing power
struggle between the executive and legislative branches.

As Philip Joyce writes in his
book
on the CBO’s role and history, in the late 1960s and early
1970s, Congress became “frustrated with what it perceived as its
domination by the executive branch in the budget-making process.”
For decades, the legislative branch had been understood to be
subordinate to the administration when it came to budgeting. But
starting with President Lyndon Johnson—a Democrat, notably—Congress
became increasing frustrated with its lesser status in the
budgeting process, and with the way the administration exerted its
greater power. As Joyce notes, President Johnson promised in his
1967 budget report that military operations in Vietnam could be
funded along with new Great Society programs like Medicare and
Medicaid. The following year, however, he called for new taxes the
following year to fund them. Congress wasn’t happy.

This was the essential problem that Congress was trying to
solve: a powerful executive branch with incentives to offer
conveniently misleading, overly rosy projections about the costs
and budgetary impacts of major federal expenses like war and
entitlements. Congressional frustration boiled over during the
Nixon administration in a dispute over impoundment (which as Joyce
explains was less about spending limits and more about which branch
had the authority to enforce spending limits), and the
Congressional Budget Office was born.

Basically, the CBO was created as a budgetary power center that
could check the influence of the administration’s Office of
Management and Budget (OMB). This was practically
explicit in the Senate’s recommendation that legislation be passed
creating what was then referred to as the Congressional Office of
the Budget, because Congress needed “a highly competent staff to
guide it in fiscal policy and budgetary considerations, similar in
expertise of the President’s Office of Management and Budget.”

The Journal editorial argues that because CBO’s
staffers aren’t elected, there’s no democratic accountability. “The
wisest course,” the editorial says, “is to abolish CBO and Joint
Tax and allow open debate about the tax and spending implications
of policy changes. Let the politicians with the authority to make
these decisions be accountable for the results.” The editorial
acknowledges that this may not be possible, and more reasonably
urges Republicans to pick a new CBO director if this is too much,
but this drastic step seems to be the ideal. 

If the CBO were to be abolished, however, the most likely
outcome would be that power and authority would return to the
executive, where OMB (which is also staffed and managed by
unelected individuals), would once again be the most influential
government player in the budgetary ballgame. To the extent that
individual congressional offices or committees might take the job
of estimating legislation and budgetary effects themselves, they
too would be unchecked by any powerful neutral arbiter, which can
also lead to misleading, overly optimistic projections. One of
CBO’s first acts after its creation was to help tank a universal
health care plan put forward by Ted Kennedy—by estimating that the
plan would cost three times more than Kennedy’s office had
indicated. In general, members of Congress, regardless of party,
are not known for the precise or accurate explanations or estimates
of budget details. 

This is not to say that leaving things exactly as they are is
the only reasonable choice. I believe there is a
good case for reform at the CBO
, though the risks of wholesale
overhaul should be clearly understood. (It’s worth
reading
Avik Roy’s measured, well-argued case for reforming the
office, also in today’s Journal.) But if you’re looking to
shut down government offices and agencies, one that tells us how
much stuff costs and how deeply we’re in debt should be pretty far
down the priority list. Simply getting rid of the CBO would further
empower an executive branch that already has too much power, and,
in the process, make wise, informed budgeting and policymaking even
more difficult than it already is. 

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Another Reason to Give to Reason: We Let You Comment, You Mangy Sons of Bitches!

As noted earlier (and trust me,
every few hours for the next week), this is Reason’s annual
Webathon, where we ask readers of Reason.com to support our
award-winning (and, full disclosure, award-losing) journalism in
print, online, and via video.

This year, we’re hoping to raise $200,000 to help promote “Free
Minds and Free Markets” in 2015. Go here for swag and
giving levels
 and rest assured, you can give in Bitcoin
and any payment method this side of Camel Bucks.

I outlined some  reasons
to give here
. Here’s another: Unlike an increasing number of
sites, we let you—the hoi polloi, the rabble, the masses—comment
freely at Reason.com.

That’s not simply because we’re lazy or because we don’t read
the comments anyway (we do, and we cry, just like real humanoids!).
When we started Reason.com and, later, our staff blog Hit and Run,
it was central to our conception that we would allow immediate and
unfiltered feedback from our readers as much as possible.
Commenters can be brutal—I’ve been called everything from a “gay
Elvis impersonator” to an “apologist for stupefaction” and worse
(and will almost certainly be in the comments section of this
post).

But one of the great things about classical liberalism,
capitalism, the internet—indeed, one of the things we celebrate
generally in all of our work—is the way that new technologies have
in general leveled long-standing hierarchies. Hell, that picture
above of me is an example of the ease with which all of us can
speak more freely. Thank you,
poopdogcomedy
of The Daily Kos, for helping to prove my point
(I know I’m living in a glass house on this, poop, but investment
in a spell-check app, why don’t ya?). You may be a mangy left-wing
cur, but this much we can agree on: Speaking up and speaking out
and speaking back has never been easier.

Keeping the conversation open like we do at
Reason.com is an increasingly endangered sensibility, especially
among folks who don’t like having to mix with the, er, wrong sorts
of people. Consider this recent column by The Washington
Post
‘s Chris Cillizza, which was forwarded to me by Reason
columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy. “The
elites,” she notes, “are being annoyed that the common man can call
them out on their brain farts.”

RESOLVED: Comments Sections Need to Go

…Reuters recently got rid of comments on
articles….Vox, the site run by former WaPo-er Ezra
Klein, doesn’t have comments at all.  The New York Times
heavily curates its comments sections….

In the early days of [Cillizza’s blog at the Post] the
Fix, a group of regular commenters — some who liked my work, some
who didn’t — banded together to keep the guy typing IN ALL CAPS
ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ACTUAL POST from
overrunning the site.  It worked — for a while. But, as we
added more writers and the traffic numbers grew, the ability of a
small-ish number of commenters to police an increasingly large
number of “loudest guys on the block” was reduced
significantly….

The best solution? Not to get rid of comments entirely. Instead,
deploy an army of comment curators who harvest the best of the best
for each article so that scrolling to the bottom of the page is
rewarded. Unfortunately, given the amount of content that any news
site produces in a given day, you would need hundreds of people to
curate the comments….

Rather than use resources on people who try to make comments
sections smarter…[h]ire more content creators who can widen our
community in ways that make more and more people want to be a part
of it. That seems to me to be the way to be the best steward of our
growing online city.  And the bigger the city grows, the
harder it is to hear the loud guy screaming nonsensically down the
block.  Win-win.


Whole thing here.

As a matter of basic logic, that’s not win-win. It’s Cillizza
wins, commenters lose.

Invest in Reason.com and claim your right to comment like it’s
1999. And get some cool swag and a tax deduction too. Details here.

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White Cleveland Cops Claim Harsher Treatment When They Shoot Black Suspects

The cops involved in the fatal 2012 shooting of
Timothy Russell and Marissa Williams, which occurred at the end of
a 25 minute car chase involving at least 26 cops, are now suing for
being treated unfairly by the department because they’re not black
and their victims are.

The chase began when a cop mistook the backfire of a car for
gunshots. The city of Cleveland settled with the families for

$3 million
last month. Only one of the 13 cops who shot at
Russell’s car was charged, with involuntary manslaughter. He jumped
onto the hood of the car and fired at least 15 rounds into the
windshield. Five other cops were charged with dereliction of duty
for allowing the car chase to get out of control. T

The other 12 cops involved in the shooting all got slaps on the
wrist and a little bit of paid time off. But that minimal
punishment cost the cops promotions they would have apparently been
given otherwise, according to a lawsuit by 9 of them,
as CNN reports
:

“The City of Cleveland, through the other named defendants, and
the other named defendants in their individual capacities, have a
history of treating non-African American officers involved in the
shootings of African Americans substantially harsher than African
American officers,” reads the lawsuit, filed Friday in the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

It continues: “A serious dichotomy exists as a result of the
defendants’ longstanding practices and procedures which place
onerous burdens on non-African American officers, including the
plaintiffs, because of their race and the race of persons who are
the subjects of the legitimate use of deadly force.”

The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

It’s hard to tell when black officers are involved in fatal
shootings—only white cops tend to have their race specifically
identified in media reports about police shootings.

Neither the race nor identity of the Cleveland cops who shot
12-year-old Tamir Rice last month has been revealed. The attorney
for the Rice family
said
the shooting wasn’t a “black and white issue” but a “right
and wrong issue.”

Insofar as the allegations in the lawsuit are true, they should
be rectified by applying harsher treatment to black cops involved
in fatal shootings not by giving white cops involved in fatal
shootings an easier time.

A ProPublica
analysis
of police shootings found it 21 times more likely for
a black person to be a victim of a fatal police shooting than a
white person. It also found that while 44 percent of police
shooting victims it found in the last 33 years were white, for
black officers more than 78 percent of their victims were black.
Black officers were involved in about 10 percent of all fatal
police shootings—in 2007 the Department of Justice found that
about 25 percent of police officers in the U.S. are non-white.

Reason is your voice in debates about
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WATCH: When San Francisco Stopped Prosecuting Drug Users, Violent Crime Went Down

“I’m a narc. I’ve been a narcotics guy forever,” says San
Francisco police chief Greg Suhr. “But I’m just telling you, I’ve
always felt bad for the people that were addicted to drugs.”

Suhr is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, George
Gascon, who is now District Attorney in the city and who began the
process of de-emphasizing drug enforcement in the midst of cutbacks
to the police force in the wake of the 2007 recession. Since Suhr
has taken over, he’s disbanded most of the force’s narcotics unit,
and drug arrests have plummeted by 85 percent. 

Watch the interview above, or click the link below for the full
text, associated links, and downloadable versions of this video.
Subscribe to Reason TV’s
YouTube channel
for daily content like this.

Approximately 3 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller.

View this article.

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LA Schools Learn Wrong Lesson from iPad Debacle, Buy Chromebooks and Laptops

ChromebookWho could be against choice?
That’s the argument Los Angeles school district administrators are
now employing to push their latest round of expensive technology
upgrades. Schools will be given the choice to receive Chromebooks
instead of iPads—and some schools will get laptops, the most
expensive option of all. The Los Angeles Times
reports
:

Under a new plan, 27 schools that were originally set to receive
iPads, made by Apple, now will also have the choice of choosing a
less-expensive Chromebook, which uses a Google operating
system.

“We’re trying to gear this around giving choices to the
schools,” said Mark Hovatter, who heads the facilities division for
L.A. Unified.

The idea is to eventually place such a device in the hands of
every child in the district. The problem administrators encountered
when rolling out the iPad plan, however, was that kids kept losing
or breaking the devices. What happens then? Do parents pay, or does
the district? Do kids get a replacement? Teachers also struggled
mightily to incorporate the technology into their lesson plans, and
concerns about kids using iPads for unsanctioned purposes caused
headaches.

The initial iPad deal unravelled after allegations of an
improper relationship between then District Superintendent John
Deasy, Apple, and curriculum company Pearson. As I
wrote
in the December 2014 issue of Reason:

Forced to admit the idea was a costly fiasco, Deasy cancelled
the order for more iPads. That’s when evidence surfaced that the
superintendent and his deputy, Jaime Aquino, were overly friendly
with executives at Apple and Pearson, the company supplying
curriculum for the devices. Aquino may have improperly advised
Pearson representatives on how to guarantee that they landed the
contract, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fastforward to today, and the new plan is well underway.
Administrators would like people to believe that they are merely
introducing choice and competition—all that good stuff that us
free-marketeers love—to the technology plan. Each school can choose
the right device for its kids.

That’s all well and good, but I have little reason to believe
that the individual schools will be more responsible stewards of
the taxpayer’s money than the district was. Indeed, 21 schools
decided to go with an even more expensive option:
laptops.

Steve Lopez of the LA Times
argued persuasively
in October that the iPad fiasco was a
costly diversion from the district’s real problems. Schools can’t
even find the money for math textbooks, but administrators want to
force unneeded technology on them and impose computerized
tests.

The district should prioritize basic instruction before deciding
to purchase thousands of fancy gadgets.

Free Minds and Free Markets aren’t free! Support
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Images From A Dark Detroit: “Major Cable Failure” Sparks Widespread Power Outage

Just 15 months after Detroit’s Black Out 2013 debacle, spokespeople for the city and DTE Energy confirmed at around 11:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday that most of Detroit’s municipal grid is offline:

  • *DETROIT CITES ‘MAJOR CABLE FAILURE’ FOR POWER OUTAGE
  • *DETROIT: OUTAGE IS AFFECTING ALL CUSTOMERS ON THE PLD GRID

The outage is preventing power from being delivered to police stations, schools, traffic lights and other city-run facilities and services.

According to Detroit Press Office shortly before noon:

“The city’s public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure that has caused the entire grid to lose power at approximately 10:30 this morning. The outage is affecting all customers on the PLD grid. We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible.”

 

As RT reports,

“It looks like the entire Detroit Public Lighting system is down. Affecting about 100 buildings, places like The Joe, Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, fire stations, schools.

 

We were notified about 10:30 a.m. We’re working with them to help resolve the situation. We’ll help investigate the problem and make repairs. It’s too early yet to determine what has caused the shutdown,” Scott Simons of DTE Energy Co. told the Detroit News.

Evacuations have begun across the city:

 










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Did the St. Louis Rams Apologize to Police for Michael Brown Gesture? No. Should They? No.

As noted in A.M. Links this morning, St. Louis
County police chief Jon Belmar is claiming that the NFL Rams have
apologized for players who made a “hands up” gesture in solidarity
with Michael Brown before Sunday’s game. A spokesman for the
Rams

says Belmar is wrong
.

“I expressed regret for any perceived disrespect of law
enforcement,” Demoff said. “Our players’ goal was to show support
for positive change in our community. I do believe that supporting
our players’ First Amendment rights and supporting local law
enforcement are not mutually exclusive.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said county chief Jon Belmar told
his staff by email Monday night that Demoff had apologized. The
email said Demoff “clearly regretted that any members of the Rams
organization would act in a way that minimized the outstanding work
that police officers carry out each and every day.”

CNN has a slight variation on the
story
:

“I received a very nice call this morning from Mr. Kevin Demoff
of the St. Louis Rams who wanted to take the opportunity to
apologize to our department on behalf of the Rams for the “Hands
Up” gesture that some players took the field with yesterday,”
Belmar wrote in the e-mail, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

But the Rams said that’s just not true.

“We did not apologize,” Rams spokesman Artis Twyman told
CNN.

The official St. Louis County Police Department Twitter feed
posted this:

Apology: “expression of regret for not being able to do
something” @kdemoff: “I
regretted any offense their officers may have taken.”

— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) December
2, 2014

The
replies to that tweet
are something to behold: “that doesn’t
prove your point!”; That’s fine, but Chief Belmar stated he
specifically apologized for the players gesture. That’s different”;
“Wow. You guys are really reaching…”; “oh shut the fuck up”;
“arguing semantics is always a sign that you’re in the right.”; and
more.

And the players
who made the gesture?

“We just understand that it’s a big tragedy and we hope
something positive comes out of it,” [Stedman] Bailey said,
following his five catch 100-yard performance.

Added [Jared] Cook: “We help build up the people around this
community daily with our visiting schools and talking to kids, so
coming out and showing that we’re unified with the rest of them, it
was key to us.”

Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher said it was the players’ “choice to
exercise their free speech” and he won’t be commenting further on
the matter.

At 5-7, the Rams have enough to apologize for. Protestig events
in Ferguson—especially the over-reaction of cops to peaceful
demonstrators and the larger militarization of police around the
country—isn’t one of them.

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