With The New Republic, I looked at the intersection of news virality, police brutality, and how easy it is to fail to check your sources:
For Carroll, these documents detail decades’ worth of systematized drug- and weapons-planting by the police force in Dothan, Alabama, on young black males. Further, as Carroll wrote, the files “reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted”—and that the men in question “are now in secure positions of leadership in law enforcement.”
Carroll said these documents, a handful of which were published as original source material, should compel a Department of Justice investigation into the police force. Combining police brutalism with racialized targeting, and coming on the heels of Ferguson and Baltimore and Chicago, the report struck a chord and he quickly found himself inundated with response.
For others, however, Carroll and his crew are emblematic of what can go wrong in the age of news virality, in which unscrupulous bloggers can prey on heightened sensitivities to police abuse to push a sensational—and false—story about institutionalized racism.
Over at The Intersection Project, meanwhile, I checked in on the deafening silence from the Kremlin's allies after the Turkish shoot-down:
As such, it’s with an overriding sense of déjà vu that these nations have viewed the new, unfurling tensions between Russia and Turkey. Following Ankara’s shoot-down of a Russian jet last month, the strains between the two governments have only swelled. Moscow has blocked thousands of trucks carrying Turkish goods from passing into Russia, suspended its visa-free arrangement with Ankara, and shelved the beleaguered Turkish Stream pipeline. Ankara, for its part, has stood by its claims of Russian incursion into Turkish airspace, and thundered that Russia was playing with “fire.”
All the while – as Russia’s propaganda machine pumps out anti-Turkish swill; as President Vladimir Putin says Turkey will regret its move “more than once” – the post-Soviet Turkic states are doing all they can to distance themselves from the confrontation. Russia’s security allies have balked at offering even base support. And their non-responses speak volumes about the current support for Russia’s external military adventurism.
The claim, as it is, stands as fantastical as it does impractical. Not only has Kazakhstan attempted to cultivate warm, if independent, relations with Moscow, but Astana remains well-aware of the parallels the country presents with Ukraine, both demographically and geopolitically. The Kazakhstani government, unlike certain other post-Soviet states, has proved amenable to retaining the usage of Russian – as the language of “inter-ethnic communication” – and hemmed close to Moscow-led post-Soviet states, even to the country’s material detriment. Kazakhstan, after all, was one of the few countries to offer support for Crimea’s “return” to Russia.
And it’s not as if Kazakhstani Prime Minister Karim Massimov attempted to recruit Luttwak in, say, 1992, when Russia stood near the nadir of its external power-projection. According to Meaney, the request came at some point in 2015 – after Russia revealed itself to be more than willing to maintain its first-among-equals status within the post-Soviet sphere. If Luttwak and Meaney are correct, this means Kazakhstan – understanding full well Moscow’s willingness to fracture neighboring nations and flood border regions with materiel and troop support – still opted for one of the most egregious moves possible in terms of provoking Russia to react. It also means Astana attempted to recruit someone who, only a few months later, would let the plan slip to a reporter.