race Rule: Cover The Topic

Blacks, Police & the Minerva Research Initiative: The Wrong Kind of ‘Solution’ Unreported

This blog is a follow-on to the previous one. The two, together, form a pair of bookends that give a ‘big picture’ clarity to how policies contribute to the deadly confrontations between blacks and the police, and the peril of underreporting them.

The Minneapolis Miracle blog covered the media’s failure to report on solutions to the underlying issues of economic inequality and concentrated poverty, solutions that could, at least in part, preempt crises that lead to police confrontations. This blog covers the equally underreported subject of programs aimed at containing the fallout from those crises once they’ve hit.

Anticipating civil breakdown from economic crises, climate change, resource depletion or some other cause, the Minerva Research Initiative was created in 2008, by the Pentagon, with the overall purpose of studying social unrest, how to detect it, and how to manage it. It consists of a set of Department of Defense programs and university funded projects. Among it’s objectives are: identify regions of potential destabilisation around the world or in the US, track impending threats, and define the line that seperates peaceful activism from political violence or terrorism.

I learned about Minerva from reports on RT’s Breaking The Set in the summer of 2014 when Abby Martin interviewed international security expert, Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, about his Guardian piece, Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown.

One of those reports, in the video below, is from August 22, 2014, two weeks after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO. Though both the RT interviews and The Guardian article focus on Minerva’s research on destabilisation contexts other than excessive police force against blacks, Dr. Ahmed cites the Ferguson protests as an example of “the kind of threats the DoD is looking at.”

(No ads; Minerva report 14:50 minutes in)

Regarding to the line separating protesting and terrorism, the report includes a Dept. of Homeland Security study on the Arizona Occupy movement. Dr. Ahmed says: “DHS looked at Twitter posts from Arizona Occupy to see where the next threat could come from. It wasn’t coming from terrorism, it was coming from civil disobediance.” Citing the inability of any of his sources in the program to differentiate peaceful protestors from terrorists, plus Minerva’s own statement: “A lack of violent rhetoric is insufficient to classify an organization as pacifist.”, Ahmed opines: ”The boundaries have been blurred to the point that this isn’t really about terrorism, it’s about political dissent.”

On Minerva’s funding of university programs, Ahmed identifies a Cornell Univ. researcher who studied “social movement mobilisation and contagions” for the DoD, as the same person who conducted the “Facebook emotional contagion study”. In the Facebook experiment, news feeds to members sites were controlled for positive vs. negative content, then subsequent postings by those members were analyzed to see if they had been affected. The experiment caused an uproar and was stopped. After initial denials of funding, the DoD admitted they had funded it “in part”.

In the RT video below from July 2, 2014, Ahmed expounds on and bemoans the militarization of social research in universties, saying it prevents objective, independent social science scholarship which is important input to policy. This fascinating interview also covers efforts to dilute the findings in the summary of the UN climate change report, more on protestors vs. terrorists, and other topics.

(No ads)

You may think that some of these programs are needed in certain cases, given what’s happening in the world. Maybe they are. But I write about Minerva and the Minneapolis Miracle because they seem to also highlight what is wrong with America: We are not acting responsibly and preventing preventable crises for the general welfare, and then we are making the cold calculations to manage the fallout from that inaction.

In other words, we’re getting it exactly backwards. And the News Media isn’t reporting it. (A TVNews Archive* search of all 24 of its networks produced 0 hits).

Doesn’t the public have the right to decide that policies be made and resources allocated to preempt catastrophes on the front end, rather than engage in damage control on the back end?

Stating the obvious, to the News Media (sans RT): Cover the Topic of programs like Minerva!

Anybody with me?

About RT & Breaking the Set:  Breaking the Set (now defunct) was a half hour show on the RT America channel, which is part of the Russian funded Russia Today network. There has been controversy over the question of whether American journalists working for RT America have true editorial freedom (click on Wikipedia links).  After Russia intervened in the Ukraine, one news anchor resigned claiming she was pressured to tow the line for Russia in her reporting on the invasion. Shortly after, Abby Martin and Tom Hartman (The Big Picture), both of whom had expressed disapproval of Russia’s actions, vehemently asserted that they have total editorial freedom for their shows.

From my viewing experience (mostly Breaking the Set & The Big Picture), RT America has a decidedly progressive/activist bent.  The real value for me, however, is the content.  Both shows rely heavily on interviews with credible experts often seen on other channels, but report stories & points of view that never get covered on those channels.

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*Note: The TVNews Archive database may have data gaps, though none were uncovered in the use of it for this blog.  [intlink id=”1347″ type=”page” anchor=”TVNewsArch_CCGaps”](more info)[/intlink]

Additional References:
[intlink id=”1347″ type=”page” anchor=”TVNewsArch_NW2014″]TVNews Archive Network List[/intlink]

By mimiv

I was a software engineer in hi-tech for 23 years, now writing- this blog.

One reply on “Blacks, Police & the Minerva Research Initiative: The Wrong Kind of ‘Solution’ Unreported”

I know locally, more attention is being paid to providing mental health care to teens, which is a necessary step in preventing problems down the road. But we are just getting on the bandwagon with this. Police demonstrations with their dogs or on horseback are an outreach to the public, to create a bridge, which has been on-going for many years. Again, all I can speak of is locally.
But the brutality bestowed on blacks which has been in the news a lot lately is unfathomable. Total lack of empathy towards this population. Policemen actually have a higher rate of committing domestic violence than the generally population, as they tend to be people who want to be in control, or the “top dog”, and their training is to learn how to take control of the situation. Perhaps their training needs to be altered? I am not close enough to what is at the heart of the latest killings to suggest how to go about things differently. Attitudes, though, tend to formulate when we are younger, and adulthood often reinforces those. So intervention of how to be better citizens needs to start with school-aged people.

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