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Ferguson, Hunger Games, Native Fashion

The Morning Show
  • Nov 26, 2014
  • 01:42:39

FERGUSON GRAND JURY Peaceful protests were held in more than 100 cities across the U.S. last night in opposition to the grand jury’s decision not to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.  BYU criminal law professor and former U.S. prosecutor Dan McConkie says “it’s very unusual for a grand jury not to return an indictment, but it’s not surprising in this case.”  McConkie says prosecutors typically only take cases to a grand jury that they think they can win in court. The grand jury functions as something of a “rubber stamp” in many cases. (There’s a common joke that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.) “The grand jury only has to determine that there is ‘probable cause,’ to charge someone with a crime,” explains McConkie. “That’s a much lower standard than ‘reasonable doubt’ which a jury faces in a trial.”  The Ferguson grand jury was fairly unusual in that the prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch” did not ask them to indict Officer Wilson, says McConkie. Rather, “the grand jury was given choices like on a menu in a Chinese restaurant and told they could order anything they wanted or nothing at all.”   McConkie says that would have been a clear signal to the grand jury that in this case the prosecutor wasn’t asking them to charge Officer Wilson because he didn’t think he had a case against Wilson that he could win in court.  While “grand juries are shrouded in secrecy,” the evidence presented to this grand jury is all being released publicly – another unusual step, says McConkie.  His early reading of the testimony presented to the grand jury suggests the prosecutor and his staff probably “have their thumb on the scale in favor of no indictment for Officer Wilson. You can see by the way they questioned the witnesses they were helping to establish Wilson’s actions as self-defense.”  Had the grand jury decided to indict Officer Wilson, McConkie says it would have been a very difficult case to win because the testimony and evidence is “all over the map.”  The secrecy of grand juries means that we will probably never know the identities of those who served on the Michael Brown case, says McConkie. We do know there were nine whites and three blacks, but their deliberations are strictly confidential. As a result, it’s difficult to know whether bias was a factor.  Michael Brown’s family can’t appeal the grand jury’s decision, but could potentially sue Officer Wilson or the Ferguson Police Department for wrong-doing or a violation of Brown’s rights, says McConkie.  The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the incident and the Ferguson Police Department for possible civil rights violations which could result in an injunction against the department. McConkie says the grand jury’s decision makes it unlikely Officer Wilson will ever face murder charges, unless new evidence emerges.  HUNGER GAMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS  Katness Everdeen is back as a reluctant rebellion leader in the highly-anticipated third film of the Hunger Games trilogy. But don’t worry, it’s not over yet. This is only Part 1 of the Hunger Games: Mockingjay film (studios like to milk mega-hits like Hunger Games and while this latest installment isn’t as popular as the first two, it’s still the biggest film of the year in opening weekend box office earnings).  Parent Previews film critic Kerry Bennett found the film too slow for her tastes. And far too violent. If your teenagers go to this film, go with them and talk about how the violence they see differs from violence in the real world, recommends Bennett.  Bennett’s colleague Rod Gustafson liked Mockingjay Part 1 better, but realized after the fact, “just how violent it really was.” Violence alone earns the film at C+ grade from ParentPreviews.com. “It was quite light in all the other categories like sexual content and language,” adds Bennett.  Looking for a holiday film for the family to watch after the Thanksgiving dishes are done? Bennett and Gustafson recommend A Muppet Christmas Carol, The Nativity Story or It’s a Wonderful Life.  GOOD COMPANY A band called Good Company performs “Of Flesh and Bone” live on BYU Radio’s Highway 89.  HOW THE CAR CHANGED AMERICA  Off to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving? Take a moment while cruising down the road – or sitting in traffic – to consider how different our lives are because of the cars we drive. The first Model T’s rolled off the assembly line about 96 years ago. Ford Motor went on to produce – in just a decade – enough cars for 10 percent of the U.S. population, says BYU History professor Grant Madsen.   “The idea you could have something that didn’t require an animal to get you from place to place – that overturned the transportation norm that had been in place for millennia.”  Ford is often credited with inventing the car and the assembly line. He did neither, says Madsen. “But he did figure out that cars could have a mass appeal and he could make that car accessible to the masses.”  The car brought us the suburbs, continues Madsen. People no longer had to live where they worked. About 2 percent of the United States is now paved under by streets, estimates Madsen.  The shift away from urban areas also shifted political concerns for voters. Property taxes became a much bigger deal in American politics. The issues that “affected soccer moms” became key, and remain so, says Madsen.  Americans have increasingly come to build their identities around their purchases.  The car is central to American identity today, says Madsen.  “The car today is like apple pie and mountain streams, it’s quintessentially American.”  OVERESTIMATING YOUR EXERCISE  Maybe you’ve been taking the stairs a little more this week in anticipation of all the calories you’ll consume at the Thanksgiving table tomorrow?  Well, you’re probably not getting as much exercise as you think, according to a recent study by York University health science researcher Jennifer Kuk. She surveyed Canadians about how much exercise they were doing and found most underestimated – by a long shot – how hard they needed to work to get the 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise a week recommended.  Kuk says the efforts to encourage people to incorporate exercise into their daily lives may be backfiring if people think they’re getting their recommended weekly activity just by taking the stairs a few flights every day.  Another challenge, says Kuk, is that people don’t realize how hard they need to work to get into the “moderate or vigorous” workout zone. More fit people need to exercise harder to get into that ideal range.  The problem, says Kuk, is that if you’re not exercising at the recommended levels, you’re also missing out on all the benefits that come with it.  NATIVE AMERICAN FASHION  Some 400 years since the first Thanksgiving, Native American heritage and culture is still be appropriated by others for amusement or profit. Consider the world of fashion: Native American prints and images on everything from underwear to leggings are currently in vogue. A few years ago, Victoria’s Secret landed in hot water for sending a bikini-clad model down the runway in a floor-length feathered headdress. A Change.org petition and cease and desist order from the Navajo Nation led retailer Urban Outfitters to pull it’s “Navajo” collection from shelves, featuring Navajo-print panties and a flask. Just this summer, Elle magazine put a photo of musician Pharrell wearing a feathered headdress on its cover.  Many Native Americans say the use of their tribal designs and symbols in fashion is not only offensive – it’s illegal.  Use of the headdress is particularly offensive, says Jessica Metcalfe, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa tribe and author of the fashion blog “Beyond Buckskin.” “Fashion is notorious for pushing the envelope and trying to be edgy,” says Metcalfe. “But the headdress is never okay as a fashion statement. It’s an important symbol of leadership that you have to earn the right to wear. Most are comprised of eagle feathers which have important spiritual significance.”  “Whenever we put it out there that it’s not okay for a Victoria’s Secret model or a musician to wear a headdress, people tell us to ‘get over it,’” says Metcalfe. “But whenever the headdress is misused in the fashion industry, it’s harmful to our cultures.”  That’s not to say that Native American symbols and images don’t have any place in fashion. Metcalfe says, “It’s great to see designers being inspired by our culture, but my next reaction is always to ask, ‘How much of the benefit from this is going back to the people who inspired it?’”  “Intellectual property is always a challenge in fashion,” adds Metcalfe. Nobody owns the zig-zag design that represents lightning or the four sacred mountains woven symbol in the Native American culture, but “designers should always steer clear of doing direct knock-offs of Native designs or images,” says Metcalfe. “It’s fine to be inspired, but not to copy.”  Metcalfe encourages designers who are inspired by Native American art to collaborate with a Native American artist. She promotes Native American jewelry and clothing designs on her website www.beyondbucksin.com. “Fashion is one of the hardest industries to break in no matter who you are,” says Metcalfe. “You need a lot of money and contacts to be successful, so we’re hoping that if we work together as Native American designers, we can cause more of a ruckus and let people know what’s going on.”  She encourages consumers to think of the money they spend on Native American designs as an investment in the culture. Show More...

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