Michael White didn’t deny killing Sean Schellenger. He admitted to police and at his trial that he plunged a knife several times into Schellenger’s back during a July 2018 scuffle in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. Numerous witnesses and a cellphone video confirmed what happened. Yet in October 2019 a jury acquitted Mr. White, a 22-year-old college student, of voluntary manslaughter. Many, including the victim’s family, blame Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s soft-on-crime district attorney.Stefano, Jennifer. “Philadelphia’s Top Prosecutor Pursues ‘Social,’ Not Actual, Justice
Larry Krasner said he wouldn’t prosecute certain offenses and the bad guys got the message.” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2020.
Who is op-ed writer Jennifer Stefano?
Jennifer Stefano is Vice President of the Commonwealth Foundation, a non-profit free-market think tank. Before joining the Commonwealth Foundation, Jennifer served in numerous leadership roles at Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The Emmy-nominated former TV reporter and anchor has spent the last decade advocating for public policies that maximize human flourishing and individual freedom.https://http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/about/detail/jennifer-stefano
In good Orwellian fashion, most of America’s WSJ op-ed readers may be expected to grouse through Jennifer Stefano’s truncated portrayal of Michael White’s actions in the death of Sean Schellinger, nod their heads with the template set in the background — young black man (from the ‘hood, right?) kills (hard working) white one (honorably selling real estate) — and move on steaming right along with the coffee on all that’s wrong with America.
Well, BackChannels, having encountered the op-ed via Facebook this morning, chose to have another look at the depiction of the case that Jennifer Stefano used to damn “social justice” (Left / Far Left!) prosecutor Larry Krasner.
Authorities say White fatally stabbed 37-year-old Sean Schellenger after a brief but quickly escalating argument at the scene of a minor traffic dispute in Center City. The defense claimed and cell phoneGordon, Bruce. “Michael White found not guilty in Rittenhouse Square stabbing death of Sean Schellenger.” Fox 29 Philadelphia, October 17, 2019.
video seemed to support that Schellenger was first to attack the knife-wielding White.
Schellenger’s family accused the DA’s office of victim blaming, a complaint that resurfaced throughout the trial from prosecutors themselves. Assistant District Attorney Sherrell Dandy said White’s defense team emphasized the victim’s behavior more than his death. Schellenger’s cocaine use, heavy drinking and even past fights were introduced as evidence against the one person who could not defend himself in court, Dandy said during closing statements.
But White’s supporters argued that he feared for his life after Schellenger threatened to “beat the black off him.”“Michael White Given Probation on Tampering Charge.” NBC Philadelphia, January 9-10, 2020.
More than most cases, White’s trial seemed to touch on issues that have long affected the city, such as money, race, and opportunity.
White, a black man who had performed slam poetry and was working as a food courier on the night of the confrontation, testified that Schellenger — the white owner of a real estate company — said, “I’ll beat the black off you” before charging at him and trying to tackle him, causing him to fear for his safety.Palmer, Chris. “Jury finds Michael White not guilty in stabbing death of Sean Schellenger near Rittenhouse Square.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 17, 2019 (updated).
After news of the Rittenhouse Square murder and White’s role in it broke, supporters of White took to social media to claim that he was acting in self-defense and to claim he is the “true victim.” White is an engineering student at Morgan University in Baltimore who grew up in Philadelphia and is interested in poetry, according to a Gofundme page he started to fundraise tuition money. He had no reported past arrests.
Schellenger has a criminal history including arrests in Chester County and Florida, including a 2008 arrest in Florida for disorderly conduct, battery and trespassing although charges were later dropped. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct in 2009 in Chester County, and previously charged in Chester County in August 2001 with burglary, resisting arrest, criminal trespassing, and theft, although the verdict in that case was unknown, the Inquirer reported.Newhouse, Sam. “Conflicting stories emerge after Rittenhouse Square murder
Family and friends of Michael J. White say the Rittenhouse Square murder of Sean Schellenger was in self-defense.” Metro, July 16, 2018.
The jury decided.
The violation of journalism’s golden standard for reporting, “Clear, Accurate, Complete” produced the opportunity for this Bad Bloggie in the Windows. In her op-ed, Jennifer Stefano framed the case for a national audience by leaving out . . . the case. Again, Michael White was black and he done it, totally admitted it, and this soft Officer Krupke Lefty of a prosecutor Krasner made it easy for him to slip away with his crime.
For all anyone but WSJ might know, the Conservative Nodding Head Chorus may have bought it.
Next item, please, and another croissant.
Ah, but the American Press is free, vigorous, and decidedly not fake!
Assailant gets out of his car. Black guy’s got a bicycle and a knife (c’mon, it’s Philly), and what he hears from the white guy about to charge him: “I’ll beat the black of you.”
And therefore it was Suleimani and his proxies — his “kingmakers” in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq — who increasingly came to be seen, and hated, as imperial powers in the region, even more so than Trump’s America. This triggered popular, authentic, bottom-up democracy movements in Lebanon and Iraq that involved Sunnis and Shiites locking arms together to demand noncorrupt, nonsectarian democratic governance.
On Nov. 27, Iraqi Shiites — yes, Iraqi Shiites — burned down the Iranian consulate in Najaf, Iraq, removing the Iranian flag from the building and putting an Iraqi flag in its place. That was after Iraqi Shiites, in September 2018, set the Iranian consulate in Basra ablaze, shouting condemnations of Iran’s interference in Iraqi politics.Friedman, Thomas L. “Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior”. The New York Times, January 3, 2010.
Ali Khamenei is a cagey leader who did not become one of the longest serving rulers in the Middle East by impetuously going to war with America. The clerical oligarchs respect American determination and understand the imbalance between a superpower and a struggling regional actor. They have never figured out Donald Trump, a U.S. president who offers unconditional talks while working to crater the Iranian economy. We should not expect Iran to take on a president who just ordered the killing of one of their famed commanders.Takeyh, Ray. “Why the Death of an Iranian Commander Won’t Mean World War III.” Politico, January 3, 2020.
In Karbala – one of Shiism’s holiest cities, where a 7th-century battle resulted in Islam’s biggest schism between Sunnis and Shiites – the unthinkable has happened.
“The government doesn’t even rule any more. They’re Iran’s puppets. If Iran loosens its grip, then things can change,” explained a protester.France 24. “In Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraqis protest against Iranian ‘meddling'”. November 14, 2019.
Iran looks pale this morning.
The mullahs have within their body politic a severely contracting economy. Beyond it, they have inspired the limitless hate of Iraqi Shiite Muslims whom their ambitions have overrun and threaten to permanently subjugate in Iraq. Within their operations centers, they have greeted a dawn that has been deeply and strategically compromised by spies and with the extent of it unknown. Perhaps most lethal: their treatment of Earth herself: desertification, deforestation, severe pollution, etc.: corruption and mismanagement have helped produce not only a noxious politics, inside and out, but literally in some aspects a dying geophysical platform for the state’s existence.
As represented by Tehran, how long a lease has the feudal-medieval mode on earth?
God Almighty himself would not destroy his creation but in the greater natural processes to which Earth is heir — but for ambition, Iran’s Ayatollah would.
Also Related Online
After years of Iranian provocations directly and through proxies, America’s defense machinery returned fire in no uncertain terms. President Trump’s order was no subtle back alley “hit” involving a dimly lit peripheral figure among the state’s proxies or some obscure but critical figure engaged in rocketry and nuclear arms development. Qassim Soleimani was Tehran’s top general and (second) most vigorous master of the levers and tools of the state’s diplomacy and conflict-inducing and war-fighting capacity. His taunt as quoted by The New York Times, “We are near you, where you can’t even imagine. We are ready. We are the man of this arena” was his invitation to his kind of party.
Washington will wake up later this morning to . . . what? “Heightened tensions with Iran”?
Call it what the strike represented: war.
BackChannels, ever strident and stubbornly independent, suggests that Left / Far Left Democrats and Always Right / Far Right Republicans should both can their bitter and frequently counterproductive and surreal partisan sandbox fight and take a moment to consider together the many acts of terror sponsored by Tehran, including attacks on American forces, the harangues and threats against the Democratic Liberalism of the West — and nonstop threats promising the annihilation of Israel, the seizing over many years of British patrol and other sea craft, and most of all the barbarism — the inhumanity — meted to all within and beyond Iran who have been abused, murdered, and subjugated by the regime.
Stecklow, Steve, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati. “Assets of the Ayatollah: The economic empire behind Iran’s supreme leader — Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures.” Reuters Investigates, November 11, 2013.
Moscow’s Phantoms of the Soviet Era — old friends, old state relationships, Kurdish political incoherence at the leadership level, and confusion over the idea of liberalism has produced a deadly and medieval quagmire in Northern Syria and opened the gate to thoroughly retrograde politics — thank the Turkish “sultan” Erdogan the (most-un-NATO-like) Egoist. In effect, America’s — and the west’s — chief allies in the fight against Islamic State in Syria have been betrayed to the extent that the west now looks on at their deprivation.
If integrity is to be an international standard, it is important to grasp how artificial and brutal an enterprise has been Bashar al-Assad’s civil war and “war on terrorism”. As BackChannels has commented on Assad’s nurturing of al-Qaeda types early in the Syrian Tragedy, it will list here just a sampling of posts asserting that the state’s theater of war has been developed and managed for totalitarian effects — “Syria – Assad – ISIL – Background (December 9, 2016). The “Kurdistan” and “Syria” categories of this blog contain other listings, of course, and here for convenience are a few quickly chosen URLs to posts that may be helpful to Kurdish political analysts asking the eternal political question: “Where from here”?
https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/01/02/moscow-as-medusa-with-all-the-snakes-attached/ |https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/10/23/a-precarious-kurdistan/ | https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/10/22/the-devolution-will-be-televised-kurdistan-end-of-ceasefire/ |
Yesterday, ASHARQ published “Syria Kurds Urge Moscow to Return Damascus to Constitutional Committee” (January 1, 2020) with naivete perhaps regarding Russia’s own deeply paternal authoritarian political habits and long-term rejection, so far, of constitutional power. In the days of the Tsar, the peasants found suggested arrangements for “constitutional monarchy” suspect 🙂 , never mind the monarch; the Bolsheviks appear to have produced power for the leadership (incidentally, Stalin himself had a turn in the Tsar’s secret political police, the Okhrana) and death and imprisonment for Russians, among others, by the millions; and, finally, KGB Colonel Putin has come to rule Russia with again despotic controls and with “liberalism” virtually removed from the discourse of the powerful who appear to prefer plunder (ask Khodorkovsky) to responsible political stewardship.
Suggestion for those now arguing about the character of a Syrian Constitution for which the troika of Assad, Putin, and Khamenei have no need as well as the character of a proposed Kurdish agreement between communities: err toward the compassion, complexity, and integrating liberal humanism owned by the rapidly evolving and modernizing west — take cues from the west’s most advanced (and happiest) states, not the ones sinking backward into feudal and nationalist fascism.
Start, perhaps, with Finland, so that what is to end does so where it began.
Dawisha, Karen. Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. Stated on the Amazon page:
The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.
Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the rise of the Ozero cooperative, founded by Putin and others who are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes; the links between Putin, Petromed, and “Putin’s Palace” near Sochi; and the role of security officials from Putin’s KGB days in Leningrad and Dresden, many of whom have maintained their contacts with Russian organized crime.
Kurdish leaders should take note of Russia’s early and Imperial history and the character of the state under Putin’s sway, and they should ask whether the same is today authentically interested in their health and well being.
BackChannels knows the historic response: “No friends but the mountains.”
This blog’s editor hopes that the time-honored expression of abandonment and isolation is either no longer true today or that it becomes untrue as EU/NATO and perhaps others take interest themselves in Kurdish aspirations, bravery, hopes, and ideals for a greater and more just and more autonomous state.
While the wealthy may have glitter and gates for beauty, comfort, and defense, the dispossessed of America may have little more than cotton and nylon and a bridge overhead — and that may be the lucky. The two might seem worlds apart, but a quick look at the coverage suggests the punishments meted by needle, flea, and sneeze may ignore the more visible boundaries and move on to share beyond the circles of impoverishment Typhoid Fever, Typhus, Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis.
America’s homeless represent a small percentage of the nation’s population, but the number is huge — about 553,000 souls, a number that has represented homeless veterans at the 11 percent mark — and the threat to public health and safety has come to demand attention and hand wringing. One hopes 2020 will bring innovation in urban, suburban, and rural fast housing, e.g., “Tiny Homes”, or other sheltering plus an effort to clarify who is in the mix and appropriately channel criminals and mentally ill out of the ranks of the generally desperate.
In Myanmar, so I have read, there’s today a booming market in little blue meth/meth-caffeine pills much enabled by China’s determination to maintain stability along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative. It seems (to BackChannels, at least) these days that everyone with a cause and a Kalashnikov (whatever) comes up with cash in exchange for ‘wokefulness’ of the cartoonish kind — and the fighting and funding and the building and the struggle for better and more and more and more of the same rages on . . . .
From the Awesome Conversation
Inspiration for this pass-along: Tobin, Meaghan. “What does China’s Belt and Road have to do with Myanmar’s meth problem?” South China Morning Post, January 8, 2019.
Governments may strengthen their resolve, take the profit out of the business, “medicalize” the results, suffer the loss of some portion of the income of their secondary economies (narcotics represent primary import-export $$$), and move on, or they may play “ostrich” on limited time while their cultures plus political and spiritual missions hollow out and destroy their sense of purpose.
Was Great Britain shutting down its opium trade when the Chinese were paying for its existence?
I’ve grown old(er) having a look into this region in the vicinity of how things work — and with the comparative roles of what gets us high, low, or back to in-between — far inside the human condition and experience, and it’s all a little bit ugly and sad.
More on Myanmar’s ‘Dependence’ Issue
SULLIVAN: But there are a number of factors working against an end to Myanmar’s long-running civil war, understanding is just one of them. The government’s refusal to budge on the ethnic groups’ demands for greater autonomy is another. And then there’s money.
JEREMY DOUGLAS: The biggest source of finance for conflict is clearly drugs.
SULLIVAN: Jeremy Douglas is regional director for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Bangkok. He says the trade is much bigger now than it was decades ago, when the area was better known for its opium and heroin production. Now it’s mostly synthetics like crystal methamphetamine, or ice, destined for markets in Australia, Japan, South Korea and beyond, a business the UNODC reckons is worth a staggering $60 billion a year.NPR. “Myanmar’s Lucrative Drug Trade is Increasingly Fueling The Country’s Conflict.” NPR, August 30, 2019.
BackChannels has published on Rhakine-Rohingya issues and recommends this piece for a fast backgrounder: “Political Perception: Myanmar, Rohingya, and Terrorist Provocateur” (October 29, 2017).
There’s a thematically related story out of Vancouver having to do with money laundering (off of the lucrative black market trade in fentanyl that has attracted high-end everything and inflated housing prices in the area: “Chinese Triads Launder Billions Through Vancouver, Buying Luxury Real Estate, Cars: British Columbia Launches Public Inquiry After Triad Activities Drive Up Cost of Homes.” The Mob Museum, June 5, 2019. Here’s a teaser for you:
This story reveals more than just the failure of Canadian controls against money laundering. It highlights the current global problem of money laundering, in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Based on recent accounts, the criminals are winning.
The breadth and depth of crime fighting agencies and institutions would seem greater as a global community than the global scourge, but it equally clear that criminal operating capacities in manufacturing and distribution have been an “overmatch” for that effort. The money and violence involved in addressing this aspect of our humanity would seem also to have proven more than equal to the task. Here, nonetheless, may be two starting points for those far on the outside looking into how someone else’s condition — nations included — has become the condition into which the whole world appears to be growing.
The Phantoms of the Soviet may be found making messes and stumbling around the places long associated with the Soviet Bloc, its captive states, sphere of influence, and its key trading partners, all linked then by their devotion to a nominal “Communism” and a realpolitik of theft by Party elites, the “nomenklatura” that effectively ran — or rubber-stamped policy — through the Soviet Era. The basket cases that come most quickly to mind: Crimea, Ukraine; Syria, whatever is left of it; Venezuela, where the well-behaved “socialists” beneath the boot of the Maduro regime have been reduced to starvation and flight while the mafia and military and state officials continue to clean up quite nicely between shipments of cocaine bound for El Norte and sex slaves trafficked out to the Caribbean Basin or beyond it.
The Phantom — and the phantoms — have multiple roles to play as the world either continues winding down down into feudal chaos, which is the way some (with the loot) would seem to have it, or as it turns and with anger and resolve recovers from the “Active Measures”, “Hybrid Warfare”, and “Reflexive Control” methods that have brought post-Cold War East-West Conflict back to life with frightful — and unfolding — prospects for the world’s future.
Moscow has returned itself and much that it touches back to political horror. It has been arming the Taliban in Afghanistan; committing murder in Great Britain (and elsewhere); courting Islam and brutalizing it at the same time (in a cosmic sense); ditto for Turkey; and to what end? Only God and Putin know, and of the two and who might know Russia’s future best, I’d rake the chips over to Putin.
Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Berezovsky, Sergei Skripal come to mind as victims of “hits” by Russian security forces operating on British soil, but other deaths have been similarly associated with or suspect in relation to Russian operations.
Earlier this week, we revealed that US spy agencies had handed the British government high-grade intelligence that the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, who died in Surrey in 2012, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of the Kremlin – but the authorities sidelined that and other evidence pointing to murder, instead declaring that he had died of natural causes. Today, we can reveal that US intelligence officials suspect a further 13 people – including Berezovsky and eight members of his circle – have been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem.Blake, Heidi. “From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on The West.” BuzzFeed News, June 15, 2017.
The same would seem to be the work of the “phantoms of the Soviet” — GRU, KGB/FSB not only remain in business as in the Soviet Era but may be perhaps insufficiently challenged on their host’s turf. ” The story of this ring of death illuminates one of the most disturbing geopolitical trends of our time – the use of assassinations by Russia’s secret services and powerful mafia groups to wipe out opponents around the globe – and the failure of British authorities to confront it,” wrote Blake back in 2017.
So here on the anniversary of the official announcing of the passing of the Soviet Union into Russia’s history — and the world’s — it would seem the more nefarious of old habits — creating wars, operating in the shadows, dominating and plundering political space with barbarous violence and ruthless ambition remain intact — and, according to BuzzFeed, more covered over by authorities than given the play deserved.
Clibbon, Jennifer. “New Gorbachev biography profiles reformer who helped end Cold War but has no place in today’s Russia.” CBC, October 15, 2017. Book review of William Taubman’s Gorbachev: His Life and Times (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017).
“I think we had forgotten how organically ruthless the Russians could be,” said Peter Zwack, a retired military intelligence officer and former defense attaché at the United States Embassy in Moscow, who said he was not aware of the unit’s existence.
Related in Books
Bukovsky, Vladimir. Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity. California, 2019.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: The Penguin Press, 2005.
Grigas, Agnia. Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Old Regime: The History of Civilization. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.
Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
Polishchuk, Arkady. Dancing on Thin Ice. Los Angeles, Doppel House Press, 2018.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Random House, 1993.
Smith, Hedrick. The Russians. New York: Times Books, 1983.
Soldatov, Andrei and Irena Borogan. The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB. New York: Public Affairs, 2010.
For additional volumes, see the “Russian Section” of the library that has accompanied the development of this blog.