Goodbye to all that

A man is arrested during protests over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, in August 2014.

A man is arrested during protests against the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, in August 2014.

For the past couple of years the summers, like hurricanes, have had names. Not single names like Katrina or Floyd – but full names like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. Like hurricanes, their arrival was both predictable and predicted, and yet somehow, when they landed, the effect was still shocking.

We do not yet know the name that will be attached to this particular season. He is still out there, playing Call of Duty, finding a way to feed his family or working to pay off his student loans. He (and it probably will be a he) has no idea that his days are numbered; and we have no idea what the number of those days will be.

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Charleston church shooting: America’s twin pathologies of racism and guns

This time it’s different.

Mass shootings have become a banal fact of death in America. (Last year there were 283 incidents in which four or more people were shot.) The nation as a whole, meanwhile, has become newly sensitised to racial violence, with growing activism around police shootings. In April video of a white policeman shooting Walter Scott – an unarmed African American – eight times in the back in as he ran away in North Charleston, South Carolina, went viral.

But the shooting of nine black church-goers in Charleston (not far from where Scott was killed) by a white gunman in what police are treating as a “hate crime” marks a doubling down on the nation’s twin pathologies of racism and guns. Both are deeply rooted in the nation’s history since its founding: neither are going anywhere soon.

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‘Free trade’ is anything but free – the cost is ultimately paid in human life

If there’s one thing more disconcerting than Republicans opposing Barack Obama at every turn, it’s the rare occasion when they actually agree with him. True, the gridlock resulting from their dysfunctional obstinacy is unproductive. But there is something comically reassuring about the predictability of their childlike tantrums. If Obama said Rachel Dolezal was white, the GOP would swear blind she is black.

So when Obama recently teamed up with congressional Republicans to try to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) against the wishes of the labor unions, his own party, and the progressive movement in general, he was modeling the kind of bipartisanship we could all do without.

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