Corrupt cops in Philadelphia, toxic chemicals causing the partial shutdown of the small town of Paulsboro, N.J. and Israel planning to ramp up its nasty pummeling of the Palestinians.
Isolated incidents with no interconnections?
Incidents like more police corruption in Philadelphia, toxic vinyl chloride pouring into a New Jersey creek and the continued corrosive oppression of Palestinians are far from isolated.
Those incidents and too many others represent stark examples of failures in public policy…failures that hold dangerous consequences for ordinary citizens.
Failures in public policy, specifically failures to upgrade crumbling infrastructure, caused the train derailment on an old bridge in Paulsboro, leading to the release of toxic chemicals and forcing evacuations of some residents of the town south of Philadelphia.
Public policy failures allow companies to profit from the manufacture of polluting chemicals clearly dangerous to public health.
America foreign policy failures embedded in the festering Israel-Palestinian conflict constitute contributing factors to incidents that have killed thousands of Americans, like on 9/11.
Although American public policy purposely obscures connections between that Middle East conflict and U.S. actions, that conflict injected America into bankrupting military engagements during the last dozen years, plus it helped trigger outrageously large expenditures on homeland security by local governments across America.
It’s interesting to note that the billions of federal, state and local dollars spent on enhancing ‘homeland security’ since 9/11 haven’t staunched soaring violence in places like Philadelphia and Chicago that persistently set new records for murders.
Murders in Philadelphia hit 312 last week, exceeding this city’s homicide rate for all of 2011.
And in Chicago, by the end of November, the murder count reached 480…a figure that has increased since then.
It’s also interesting to note that the billons poured into homeland security siphoned government funding available to address ills underlying violence across America like deficiencies in education and employment.
Public policy in America reflexively backs and provides billions of dollars to Israel even when Israel defiantly ignores U.S. interests. Last week the U.S. was the only world leading country to join Israel in trying to block the United Nations from voting to increase the international standing of the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who twice lived in suburban Philadelphia, repaid U.S. support of Israel at the UN by quickly announcing new (and internationally illegal) settlements in the West Bank – once again waving his middle-finger at U.S. requests to halt settlements in efforts to achieve peace with Palestinians.
Netanyahu, who openly worked to defeat President Obama’s reelection, insulted Vice President Joe Biden in March 2010 by announcing more settlements during Biden’s visit to Israel, and he did the same new settlement announcement to Obama when the president visited Israel in April 2011.
Israel is able to build Israel-expanding housing settlements on Palestinian land that block peace settlements with Palestinians due to funding from America (federal government and tax-deducted private contributions)…funding provided while too many Americans are homeless, live in substandard housing or are facing foreclosure due to the (alleged) unavailability of federal funding.
The formal founding of Israel in the late 1940s grew out of a British government document issued in November 1917 called the Balfour Declaration. An instrumental player in securing that British support was the prime minister of then-apartheid South Africa.
The Balfour Declaration supporting the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people” also declared the clear understanding “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”
What is being done today to the Palestinians by Israel, with collusive support by the U.S. (and others), clearly prejudices the rights of Palestinians in violation of the Balfour Declaration, current international law and common decency.
The might-makes-right posture evident in the Israeli-Palestine clash is a posture evident in the public policy failures underlying the cyclical eruptions of police corruption scandals in Philadelphia.
Last week local news broke about the Philadelphia D.A.’s office refusal to pursue criminal cases that require testimony from six officers assigned to a police narcotics unit including a police lieutenant.
Such rare action by prosecutors refusing to employ the testimony of police officers usually means law enforcement authorities suspect those officers are either tainted by or engaged in corrupted activities. Police Department officials removed those six officers from narcotics work, but as yet hasn’t disciplined, discharged or arrested tthem.
This latest corruption related embarrassment implicates the public policy failures to consistently crack down on lawbreaking law enforcers.
The police corruption-related news reports of last week mirror news in April 2009 about two Philadelphia narcotics field unit squads receiving reassignment due to local and federal probes involving corrupted practices.
In September 2000 news broke about an FBI memo detailing patterns of corruption among a group of Philadelphia narcotics officers, including perjured testimony and stealing from suspected criminals.
The mid-1990s 39th District scandal also involved narcotics officers preying on people that led to the dismissal of more than 500 criminal charges against them and City Hall paying over $4 million to settle lawsuits from victims of that police abuse.
And in the 1980s there was the “One Squad scandal” – yet another incident of police corruption.
Americans, who love to live in cocoons of cultivated ignorance about current events, need to realize the real dangers from ignoring perverse public policies.
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.