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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blue Ridge projects will lower water level

News release from Coconino National Forest, Aug. 11, 2014

The water level at C.C. Cragin Reservoir, formerly named Blue Ridge Reservoir, will slowly drop during the month of August as inspections and construction projects get underway.

Salt River Project (SRP), which operates and manages the reservoir and C.C. Cragin Dam on behalf of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will be performing an inspection of the tunnel inlet that transfers water to the East Verde River. In order for the inspection to commence, the reservoir level will drop approximately 26 feet from its current level. The reservoir is expected to reach this lower level about Aug. 18.

Even though the boat ramp will be open during this time, large boulders near the end of the boat ramp will be exposed and launching a boat will be challenging, and sometimes not possible. Additionally, heavy trucks transporting material to the work site may restrict access to the reservoir and boat ramp for short periods during the day. SRP’s inspection of the tunnel inlet is expected to be completed by Aug. 20.

The Disease of American Democracy

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)


By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
19 August 14
mericans are sick of politics. Only 13 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, a near record low. The President’s approval ratings are also in the basement.

A large portion of the public doesn’t even bother voting. Only 57.5 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election.

Put simply, most Americans feel powerless, and assume the political game is fixed. So why bother?

A new study scheduled to be published in this fall by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern University’s Benjamin Page confirms our worst suspicions.

Gilens and Page analyzed 1,799 policy issues in detail, determining the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups, and average citizens.

Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Instead, lawmakers respond to the policy demands of wealthy individuals and monied business interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

Before you’re tempted to say “duh,” wait a moment. Gilens’ and Page’s data come from the period 1981 to 2002. This was before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in “Citizens United,” prior to SuperPACs, and before the Wall Street bailout.

So it’s likely to be even worse now.

But did the average citizen ever have much power? The eminent journalist and commentator Walter Lippman argued in his 1922 book “Public Opinion” that the broad public didn’t know or care about public policy. Its consent was “manufactured” by an elite that manipulated it. “It is no longer possible … to believe in the original dogma of democracy,” Lippman concluded.

Yet American democracy seemed robust compared to other nations that in the first half of the twentieth century succumbed to communism or totalitarianism.

Political scientists after World War II hypothesized that even though the voices of individual Americans counted for little, most people belonged to a variety of interest groups and membership organizations – clubs, associations, political parties, unions – to which politicians were responsive.

“Interest-group pluralism,” as it was called, thereby channeled the views of individual citizens, and made American democracy function.

What’s more, the political power of big corporations and Wall Street was offset by the power of labor unions, farm cooperatives, retailers, and smaller banks.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith approvingly dubbed it “countervailing power.” These alternative power centers ensured that America’s vast middle and working classes received a significant share of the gains from economic growth.

Starting in 1980, something profoundly changed. It wasn’t just that big corporations and wealthy individuals became more politically potent, as Gilens and Page document. It was also that other interest groups began to wither.

Grass-roots membership organizations shrank because Americans had less time for them. As wages stagnated, most people had to devote more time to work in order to makes ends meet. That included the time of wives and mothers who began streaming into the paid workforce to prop up family incomes.

At the same time, union membership plunged because corporations began sending jobs abroad and fighting attempts to unionize. (Ronald Reagan helped legitimized these moves when he fired striking air traffic controllers.)

Other centers of countervailing power – retailers, farm cooperatives, and local and regional banks – also lost ground to national discount chains, big agribusiness, and Wall Street. Deregulation sealed their fates.

Meanwhile, political parties stopped representing the views of most constituents. As the costs of campaigns escalated, parties morphing from state and local membership organizations into national fund-raising machines.

We entered a vicious cycle in which political power became more concentrated in monied interests that used the power to their advantage – getting tax cuts, expanding tax loopholes, benefiting from corporate welfare and free-trade agreements, slicing safety nets, enacting anti-union legislation, and reducing public investments.

These moves further concentrated economic gains at the top, while leaving out most of the rest of America.

No wonder Americans feel powerless. No surprise we’re sick of politics, and many of us aren’t even voting.

But if we give up on politics, we’re done for. Powerlessness is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The only way back toward a democracy and economy that work for the majority is for most of us to get politically active once again, becoming organized and mobilized.

We have to establish a new countervailing power.

The monied interests are doing what they do best – making money. The rest of us need to do what we can do best – use our voices, our vigor, and our votes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Medicare Does (and Doesn’t) Cover

By David Sayen
Gazette Contributor

Medicare helps pay for a wide variety of medical services and goods in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare settings. But it doesn’t cover everything, and it’s useful to know what is and isn’t included.

Services are covered either under Medicare Part A or Part B. If you have both Part A and Part B, you can get many Medicare‑covered services whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare health plan.
Part A is Hospital Insurance and it helps pay for:
        * Inpatient care in hospitals;
                        * Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (not custodial or long‑term care);
                        * Hospice care services;
                        * Home health care services:
                        * Inpatient care in a religious nonmedical health care institution.

You can find out if you have Parts A and B by looking at your Medicare card. If you have Original Medicare, you’ll use this card to get your Medicare-covered services. If you join a Medicare health plan, in most cases you must use the card from the plan to get your Medicare-covered services.
Part B (Medical Insurance) helps cover medically necessary doctors’ services, outpatient care, home health services, durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers, and other medical services.
Part B also covers many preventive-care services.
Under Original Medicare, if the yearly Part B deductible ($147 in 2014) applies, you must pay all costs (up to the Medicare-approved amount) until you meet the Part B deductible before Medicare begins to pay its share.

After your deductible is met, you typically pay 20% of the Medicare‑approved amount of the service, if the doctor or other healthcare provider accepts assignment. (“Accepting assignment” means that a doctor or other provider agrees to be paid directly by Medicare, to accept the payment amount Medicare approves for the service, and not to bill you for any more than the Medicare deductible and coinsurance.)

You’ll pay more if you see doctors or providers who don’t accept assignment. And there’s no yearly limit on what you pay out-of-pocket.
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO) or have other insurance, your costs may be different. Contact your plan or benefits administrator directly to find out about the costs.
Under Part B, Medicare pays for many preventive services (such as screenings for cancer and heart disease) that can detect health problems early when they’re easier to treat. You pay nothing for most covered preventive services if you get the services from a doctor or other qualified provider who accepts assignment.

However, for some preventive services, you may have to pay a deductible, coinsurance, or both.

Medicare doesn’t cover everything, of course. If you need certain services that aren’t covered under Part A or Part B, you’ll have to pay for them yourself unless:
                        * You have other insurance (or Medicaid) to cover the costs;
                        * You’re in a Medicare health plan that covers these services.

Some of the services and goods that Medicare doesn’t cover are:
                        * Long-term care (also called custodial care);
                        * Routine dental or eye care;
                        * Dentures;
                        * Cosmetic surgery;
                        * Acupuncture;
                        * Hearing aids and exams for fitting them.
David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Coming race war won't be about race

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: unknown)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: unknown)


By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, TIME Magazine
18 August 14
 
Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it's about class warfare and how America's poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

ill the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.

You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.

There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

By focusing on just the racial aspect, the discussion becomes about whether Michael Brown’s death—or that of the other three unarmed black men who were killed by police in the U.S. within that month—is about discrimination or about police justification. Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)

Then we’ll start debating whether or not the police in America are themselves an endangered minority who are also discriminated against based on their color—blue. (Yes, they are. There are many factors to consider before condemning police, including political pressures, inadequate training, and arcane policies.) Then we’ll question whether blacks are more often shot because they more often commit crimes. (In fact, studies show that blacks are targeted more often in some cities, like New York City. It’s difficult to get a bigger national picture because studies are woefully inadequate. The Department of Justice study shows that in the U.S. between 2003 and 2009, among arrest-related deaths there’s very little difference among blacks, whites, or Latinos. However, the study doesn’t tell us how many were unarmed.)

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.

And that’s how the status quo wants it.

The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. Fifty million voters is a powerful block if they ever organized in an effort to pursue their common economic goals. So, it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor fractured by distracting them with emotional issues like immigration, abortion and gun control so they never stop to wonder how they got so screwed over for so long.

One way to keep these 50 million fractured is through disinformation. PunditFact’s recent scorecard on network news concluded that at Fox and Fox News Channel, 60 percent of claims are false. At NBC and MSNBC, 46 percent of claims were deemed false. That’s the “news,” folks! During the Ferguson riots, Fox News ran a black and white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the bold caption: “Forgetting MLK’s Message/Protestors in Missouri Turn to Violence.” Did they run such a caption when either Presidents Bush invaded Iraq: “Forgetting Jesus Christ’s Message/U.S. Forgets to Turn Cheek and Kills Thousands”?

How can viewers make reasonable choices in a democracy if their sources of information are corrupted? They can’t, which is exactly how the One Percent controls the fate of the Ninety-Nine Percent.

Worse, certain politicians and entrepreneurs conspire to keep the poor just as they are. On his HBO comedic news show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver ran an expose of the payday loan business and those who so callously exploit the desperation of the poor. How does an industry that extorts up to 1,900 percent interest on loans get away with it? In Texas, State Rep. Gary Elkins blocked a regulatory bill, despite the fact that he owns a chain of payday loan stores. And the politician who kept badgering Elkins about his conflict of interest, Rep. Vicki Truitt, became a lobbyist for ACE Cash Express just 17 days after leaving office. In essence, Oliver showed how the poor are lured into such a loan, only to be unable to pay it back and having to secure yet another loan. The cycle shall be unbroken.

Dystopian books and movies like Snowpiercer, The Giver, Divergent, Hunger Games, and Elysium have been the rage for the past few years. Not just because they express teen frustration at authority figures. That would explain some of the popularity among younger audiences, but not among twentysomethings and even older adults. The real reason we flock to see Donald Sutherland’s porcelain portrayal in Hunger Games of a cold, ruthless president of the U.S. dedicated to preserving the rich while grinding his heel into the necks of the poor is that it rings true in a society in which the One Percent gets richer while our middle class is collapsing.

That’s not hyperbole; statistics prove this to be true. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, just half of U.S. households are middle-income, a drop of 11 percent since the 1970s; median middle-class income has dropped by 5 percent in the last ten years, total wealth is down 28 percent. Fewer people (just 23 percent) think they will have enough money to retire. Most damning of all: fewer Americans than ever believe in the American Dream mantra that hard work will get them ahead.

Rather than uniting to face the real foe—do-nothing politicians, legislators, and others in power—we fall into the trap of turning against each other, expending our energy battling our allies instead of our enemies. This isn’t just inclusive of race and political parties, it’s also about gender. In her book Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, Laurie Penny suggests that the decreased career opportunities for young men in society makes them feel less valuable to females; as a result they deflect their rage from those who caused the problem to those who also suffer the consequences: females.

Yes, I’m aware that it is unfair to paint the wealthiest with such broad strokes. There are a number of super-rich people who are also super-supportive of their community. Humbled by their own success, they reach out to help others. But that’s not the case with the multitude of millionaires and billionaires who lobby to reduce Food Stamps, give no relief to the burden of student debt on our young, and kill extensions of unemployment benefits.

With each of these shootings/chokehold deaths/stand-your-ground atrocities, police and the judicial system are seen as enforcers of an unjust status quo. Our anger rises, and riots demanding justice ensue. The news channels interview everyone and pundits assign blame.

Then what?

I’m not saying the protests in Ferguson aren’t justified—they are. In fact, we need more protests across the country. Where’s our Kent State? What will it take to mobilize 4 million students in peaceful protest? Because that’s what it will take to evoke actual change. The middle class has to join the poor and whites have to join African-Americans in mass demonstrations, in ousting corrupt politicians, in boycotting exploitative businesses, in passing legislation that promotes economic equality and opportunity, and in punishing those who gamble with our financial future.

Otherwise, all we’re going to get is what we got out of Ferguson: a bunch of politicians and celebrities expressing sympathy and outrage. If we don’t have a specific agenda—a list of exactly what we want to change and how—we will be gathering over and over again beside the dead bodies of our murdered children, parents, and neighbors.

I hope John Steinbeck is proven right when he wrote in Grapes of Wrath, “Repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed.” But I’m more inclined to echo Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” written the year after the Kent State/Jackson State shootings:

Inflation no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life

Monday, August 18, 2014

NY Times runs full-page pro-marijuana ad

The New York Times ran a full-page ad in support of marijuana legalization on Sunday. (photo: Al Jazeera America)
The New York Times ran a full-page ad in support of marijuana legalization on Sunday. (photo: Al Jazeera America)
By Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera America
04 August 14
readersupportednews.org 
Ad follows launch of a six-part series by paper's editorial board advocating repeal of federal ban
he New York Times featured a full-page ad in support of marijuana in its Sunday edition; the ad follows a series of editorials in the paper issuing calls to repeal the federal ban on medical and recreational use of marijuana — arguing it inflicted “great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.”

Sunday’s ad promoting the website Leafly.com, which helps users locate medical marijuana dispensaries and choose strains, shows a woman jogging past a brownstone near a professionally dressed man with a paper under his arm.

“Ian chose an indica cannabis strain to relieve his MS symptoms,” the ad said. “While fighting cancer, Molly preferred a sativa cannabis.”

Chief executive of Seattle-based Privateer Holdings, Brendan Kennedy, which placed the ad, said the decision to depict working people was intentional, “This product and this industry are still depicted as sub-culture or counter culture. That’s just not the reality.”

New York legalized medical marijuana last month, and in 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

An April poll by Pew Research showed that the majority of Americans, at 54 percent, support marijuana legalization — marking a significant change in public opinion since 1969 when Pew first asked the question and only 12 percent favored legalization.

Though medical marijuana and recreational marijuana use is legal in certain states, both are still illegal under federal law, and the Drug Enforcement Agency has occassionally butted heads with businesses legally operating on a state level, in some cases raiding the stores. Marijuana advocates have argued that the disconnect between state and federal law unfairly allows the DEA to target law-abiding citizens.

In recent months, Justice Department Officials have banned federal prosecutors from using federal resources on individuals operating within the bounds of state laws and repealing the federal ban on marijuana completely has increasingly entered public discourse.

Last Sunday, the New York Times editorial board began a six-part series calling for the repeal of a federal ban on marijuana.

“It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished,” The New York Times wrote in the first article of the series.

“It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.”

An anti-marijuana legalization ad was featured in Saturday’s edition of the paper placed by the group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

“The legalization of marijuana is ushering in an entirely new group of corporations whose primary source of revenue is a highly-habit forming product,” the ad said.

Diet increases lifespan, decreases immunity

UA researchers are testing if dietary interventions that extend lifespan increase or decrease immune defense against infection.
Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich
Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich
UA researchers are studying increasing lifespan and immune function.
UA researchers are studying increasing lifespan and immune function.
By Jean Spinelli, AHSC Office of Public Affairs | August 1, 2014
 
Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson are exploring whether dietary interventions that extend lifespan increase or decrease immune defense against infection.

"Research has shown that consuming fewer calories, while maintaining sufficient nutrients, extends lifespan, and there are ongoing clinical studies in humans.

However, aging also is associated with increased susceptibility to diseases," said Dr. Nikolich-Žugich, co-director of the UA Center on Aging and principal investigator of the "Longevity Extension and Immune Function in Aging" study.

UA researchers are beginning to study lifespan extension and immune function, thanks to a two-year $403,751 grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

"Remarkable extension of lifespan has been achieved in organisms by lowering calorie intake or tricking cells into thinking that there is not enough food. These manipulations are being considered for potentially increasing lifespan in humans," Nikolich-Žugich said. "It is critical to understand the effects of these interventions upon physiological function of older organisms, as any increase in longevity must be accompanied by improved quality of life."

Rapamycin, or Rapa, a drug used to keep the body from rejecting organ and bone marrow transplants, blocks an enzyme that controls cellular division. Rapa has been shown to extend lifespan in mice; however, the effects of chronic low-dose Rapa-mediated treatment on resistance to infection remain unknown.

"Our study will test whether life-extending dietary interventions may improve or impair survival from, and immunity to, infection, allowing us to evaluate whether manipulations of nutrient pathways may be safe and desirable to achieve optimal healthy longevity," said Nikolich-Žugich, who also is chairman of the UA Department of Immunobiology and the Elizabeth Bowman Professor in Medical Research at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and a member of the UA BIO5 Institute.

"While calorie restriction appears to improve immune function and homeostasis in old animals, the few infectious challenge experiments suggest increased susceptibility to infection. Our exploratory proposal aims to test the hypothesis that calorie restriction and drugs that trick the cells into thinking that there is not enough food, such as Rapa, could be deleterious for protective immunity, because they may curtail full development of immune responses," Nikolich-Žugich said.

UA researchers will look for protective T cell and antibody responses to West Nile Virus – a virus transmitted by arthropods, such as mosquitoes or ticks – or listeria – a food-borne bacterium that causes high mortality in older adults. Researchers will measure the efficacy and the type of the immune response.

"We aim to dissect possible defects and discover whether we may use Rapa as is or whether we may need to seek for similar compounds with beneficial effects in healthy aging across different tissues,” Nikolich-Žugich said.

Nearly one quarter of the U.S. population will be over age 65 by 2040, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and those who reach age 65 will live, on average, 19.2 years longer. Ensuring the healthy and productive lives of that very large group is becoming an urgent priority, Nikolich-Žugich says.

A paper related to the UA study was published in the July 15 issue of The Journal of Immunology, a publication of the American Association of Immunologists Inc. The lead author of the paper, which is titled "Immune Memory Boosting Dose of Rapamycin Impairs Macrophage Vesicle Acidification and Curtails Glycolysis in Effector CD8 Cells, Impairing Defense against Acute Infections," is Emily L. Goldberg, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Immunobiology and member of the UA Center on Aging. Other UA researchers who contributed to the paper include the following UA Center on Aging members: Nikolich-Žugich; Megan J. Smithey, research assistant professor in the Department of Immunobiology; Lydia K. Lutes, undergraduate laboratory assistant in the Department of Immunobiology and an undergraduate student in the UA College of Science's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology; Jennifer L. Uhrlaub, research associate in the Department of Immunobiology.

This research is supported by the National Institute on Aging under Award No. R21AG045734. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

A Movement Grows in Ferguson

Protesters march in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday afternoon. (photo: J. B. Forbes/AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Protesters march in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday afternoon. (photo: J. B. Forbes/AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


By Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker

18 August 14
 
n the eight days since Michael Brown, an eighteen-year-old, was killed by a police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, what began as an impromptu vigil evolved into a sustained protest; it is now beginning to look like a movement.

The local QuikTrip, a gas station and convenience store that was looted and burned on the second night of the protests, has now been repurposed as the epicenter for gatherings and the exchange of information. The front of the lot bears an improvised graffiti sign identifying the area as the “QT People’s Park.” With the exception of a few stretches, such as Thursday afternoon, when it was veiled in clouds of tear gas, protesters have been a constant presence in the lot. On Sunday afternoon the area was populated by members of local churches, black fraternity and sorority groups, Amnesty International, the Outcast Motorcycle Club, and twenty or so white supporters from the surrounding area. On the north side of the station, a group of volunteers with a mobile grill served free hot dogs and water, and a man stood on a crate, handing out bright yellow T-shirts with the logo of the National Action Network, the group led by Al Sharpton.

The conversation here has shifted from the immediate reaction to Michael Brown’s death and toward the underlying social dynamics. Two men I spoke with pointed to the disparity in education funding for Ferguson and more affluent municipalities nearby. Another talked about being pulled over by an officer who claimed to smell marijuana in the car as a pretense for searching him. “I’m in the United States Navy,” he told me. “We have to take drug tests in the military so I had proof that there were no drugs in my system. But other people can’t do that.” Six black men I spoke to, nearly consecutively, pointed to Missouri’s felon-disfranchisement laws as part of the equation. “If you’re a student in one of the black schools here and you get into a fight you’ll probably get arrested and charged with assault. We have kids here who are barred from voting before they’re even old enough to register,” one said. Ferguson’s elected officials did not look much different than they had years earlier, when it was a largely white community.

Ferguson had, instead, recently seen two highly visible African-American public officials lose their jobs. Two weeks before Brown was shot, Charles Dooley, an African-American who has served as St. Louis County Executive for a decade, lost a bitter primary election to Steve Stenger, a white county councilman, in a race that, whatever the merits of the candidates, was seen as racially divisive. Stenger lobbed allegations of financial mismanagement and incompetence, and worse. Bob McCulloch, the county prosecutor appeared in an ad for Stenger, associating Dooley with corruption; McCulloch would also be responsible for determining whether to charge Darren Wilson. In December, the largely white Ferguson-Florissant school board fired Art McCoy, the superintendent, who is African-American. Those who were gathered at the QuikTrip parking lot on Saturday were as inclined to talk about the underlying political issues as they were about the hail of bullets that ended Brown’s life.

When word came that afternoon that the governor had announced a curfew, to take effect at midnight, the mood shifted to defiance and disbelief. Few thought that the curfew would do much practical good; many thought it was counterproductive, a move back to militarized police response earlier in the week. Curfew or no, the protesters felt that, with the exception of last Thursday, when Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a black Ferguson native, took charge of operations, the amalgam of county and local law enforcement rolling through Ferguson had tried to clear the streets each day at dusk.

On Johnson’s first night in charge, the police presence in the neighborhood was hardly visible; officers withdrew to the perimeter and removed a roadblock that had cut off Florissant Road, which runs just south of the QuikTrip. The protests that night had a giddy quality. Cars drove up and down the strip, the sounds of honking horns accompanying shouts of Brown’s name and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” which has emerged as the signature slogan here.

But as early as Friday morning people began to wonder if Johnson really was in charge, in any meaningful way. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson began the day by releasing Officer Wilson’s name, which had been kept from the public until then. He undercut that gesture by simultaneously releasing a video that appeared to show Brown menacing a local store owner soon before his encounter with Wilson—thus suggesting that Wilson had been pursuing Brown as a suspect. It took a few hours, and a second press conference, for Jackson to acknowledge that Wilson hadn’t stopped Brown because he thought he was a robber but because Brown was walking in the street and not, as Wilson believed he should, on the sidewalk.

Ron Johnson had to concede that he had not even known that the video would be released; he saw it on television just as everyone else had. (“I would like to have been consulted,” he said at his own press conference.) After sporadic looting on Saturday night—halted largely by other protestors who rushed to protect the establishments being vandalized—Governor Jay Nixon declared a curfew, further undercutting Johnson’s authority. In the span of twenty-four hours, Johnson had gone, in the community’s eyes, from empowered native son to black token. One of the local activists I’d met in Feguson sent me a text message after the curfew announcement saying, “Johnson has good intentions but no power. This is beyond him.” On Sunday, Johnson stepped into the pulpit at Greater Grace Church, the site of a rally, and apologized to Brown’s family, saying, “I wear this uniform and I feel like that needs to be said.”

With that, he implicitly condemned the Ferguson Police Department for their failure to do so. Johnson had promised not to use tear gas in the streets of Ferguson but, during a skirmish with looters on Saturday night, police tear-gassed the crowd. Johnson’s address at the church carried the message that his allegiances were, nonetheless, with the people of Ferguson. James Baldwin remarked that black leaders chronically find themselves in a position of asking white people to hurry up while pleading with black people to wait. Johnson finds himself asking black people to remain calm while imploring white police officers not to shoot. The problem here is that few people in Ferguson believe that the former is any guarantee of the latter.

Brown remains unburied. His family, whose faith evaporated early on, refused to simply trust the autopsy performed by local authorities and held out for a second post mortem, by federal authorities. Attorney Eric Holder granted that request late Sunday morning. It might produce a definitive answer to some of the basic questions—like how many times Brown was shot, and whether any of the bullets hit him in the back—that, a week later, remain murky. From the outset, the overlapping bureaucracies in Ferguson handled the case in ways that suggested ineptitude. Yet subsequent developments—the stonewalling followed by contradictory statements, the detention of reporters, the clumsy deployment of sophisticated military equipment—all point not to a department too inept to handle this investigation objectively but one too inept to cloak the fact that they never intended to do so. One protestor held a sign that said, “Ferguson Police Need Better Scriptwriters.”

More than one person in the streets of Ferguson has compared what is happening here to the chaotic days of the Birmingham desegregation campaign in 1963. And, like that struggle, the local authorities, long immune to public sentiment, were incapable of understanding how their actions reverberated outside the hermetic world where they held sway—how they looked to the world. That incomprehension was the biggest asset the protesters in Birmingham had. Michael Brown was left lying in the street for hours while a traumatized community stood behind police tape in frustration, grief, and shock: an immobile metaphor for everything that was wrong in Ferguson, Missouri.