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Showing posts from March, 2009

The Impending Perfect Wingnut Hate Storm

by Vyan

We've all seen the warning signs and heard the angry cries from Wingnuttia - but it's time to stop laughing and recognize a very real threat that faces this nation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center headed by Morris Dees is the countries premier anti-hate resource, and in it's current yearly "Intelligence Report" on the activities of various domestic Hate Groups, there are more than a few familiar faces.

This week a report detailing at least 60 Post-9/11 plots of violence by Militant Right-Wing Militia and Birther groups was spiked in Missouri under the argument that sharing the information with Officers in the field would have been Political Profiling!

Read on...

Add in a bit of economic collapse and you have a toxic mix. Tom

OMG Gitmo! Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo Bay, Finds it 'Relaxing' 'Calm and Beautiful'

Posted by Liliana Segura, AlterNet at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2009.

Dayana Mendoza on the U.S. prison camp: "I didn't want to leave."

Ever wondered what it takes to be Miss Universe? Thanks to Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza, we can now be sure it's not a finely tuned sense of current events. The reigning beauty queen visited Guantanamo Bay last week, courtesy of the U.S.O, and, in a truly astonishing feat of self-parody, wrote the following description of her trip, including rave reviews of the jails, the military dogs, and of course, the beaches.

I am posting it in its entirety, in case the original post is removed for being just too damn embarrassing to beauty queens everywhere. (Perhaps somewhere Miss Teen South Carolina is feeling a little bit better.)

Read on...

I don't know.....Tom

The End of the Women's Movement

The era of the singular feminist agenda is over. But that doesn't mean gender-based activism is.

by Courtney E. Martin

The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, housed at the continually surprising and alive Brooklyn Museum, celebrated its second anniversary last weekend with a speak-out called "Unfinished Business." As the title suggests, the aim was to bring a diverse range of feminists together in one auditorium to talk about the future of our so-called movement. The lineup of official speakers was, indeed, admirably diverse -- both ethnically and generationally; it included activist and researcher C. Nicole Mason, labor organizer Ai-jen Poo, GritTV host Laura Flanders, novelist and rabble-rouser Esther Broner, and hip-hop artist Toni Blackman.

Most of the voices from the audience, however, sounded eerily similar. They spoke longingly about the exuberant past, characterized by abundant energy and "sisterhood." They lamented that no locatable movement ex…

Determining the impact of intoxication in a desert-based sentencing framework

by Gavin Dingwall and Laurence Koffman, Criminology & Criminal Justice, 8, 3 (2008): 335-348.

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library.

Research has consistently found a significant correlation between alcohol consumption and offending. Although this finding does not prove any direct causal link, many offenders subsequently claim that the fact that they had been drinking should mitigate their sentence. As the argument advanced by offenders is framed in retributive terms—culpability is reduced because of intoxication—this article aims to analyse the impact, if any, that intoxication should have under a desert model.

Prison privatization: In search of a business-like atmosphere?

by Guy Shefer and Alison Liebling, Criminology & Criminal Justice, 8, 3 (2008): 261-278.

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library.

This article explores one interesting finding emerging from early findings of studies comparing private and public prisons in the UK: the relationship between prisoners and staff. These relationships appear to be better in some private prisons than in the public sector, at least during the early years of privatization. After presenting these findings, the authors provide three possible explanations for the positively evaluated prisoner–staff relationships in many private prisons during these early years: first, an intentional focus on relaxed
and less formal regimes; second, the distinct balance of power which is the outcome of more powerless and inexperienced staff working in private prisons; and third, the legacy of a punitive atmosphere which …

Oakland Police Massacre: A Desperate Act to Avoid Going Back to Prison

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, New America Media. Posted March 25, 2009.

Lovelle Mixon didn't want to go back to jail and at the same time couldn't find employment that would give him another chance.

Editor’s Note: The killing of four police officers in Oakland shows the desperation of an ex-felon. Lovelle Mixon was trying to avoid going back to jail and at the same time unable to find any employment that would give him a second chance. It’s a story repeated all over America, even if it does not always end in a killing spree as it did in Oakland.

A general consensus is that it was a deadly mix of panic, rage, and frustration that caused Lovelle Mixon to snap. His shocking murderous rampage left four Oakland police officers dead and a city and police agencies searching its soul about what went so terribly wrong. Though Mixon’s killing spree is a horrible aberration, his plight as an
unemployed ex-felon isn’t. There are tens of thousands like him on America’s streets.

In 2007, the Nation…

Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason? Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes

By Naomi Wolf, AlterNet. Posted March 25, 2009.

Legal expert Michael Ratner calls the legal arguments made in the infamous Yoo memos, "Fuhrer's law."

In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo's memos outlining the destruction of the republic.

The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.

It was as if Milton's Satan had a law degree and was establishing within the borders of the United States the architecture of hell.

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I guess the corporate media is more concerned and obsessed about Michelle Obama's biceps than bothering with a story about how the U.S. became a dictatorship. Tom

Taser Tots

by digby

Because 15 year old boys fighting is a mortal threat to police everywhere, it's a good thing that they now have a non-lethal weapon to use so they don't have to kill them.

Or not:

Michigan 15-year-old dies after police Taser him

BAY CITY, Mich. – Police in Michigan say a 15-year-old boy has died after being Tasered by officers who were trying to break up a fight.

Police didn't release his name and say state police are investigating.

Read on...

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has declared stun guns as torture. Not stopping police departments from getting and using them....excessively. I guess I'll have to consider getting a consumer model. Just to protect myself. Lots of good links in this story. Tom

The Big Takeover: How Wall Street Insiders are Using the Bailout to Stage a Revolution

By Matt Taibbi, Posted March 23, 2009.

The global economic crisis isn't about money -- it's about power.

Published by Rolling Stone

It's over - we're officially, royally fucked. No empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline - a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just p…

Cover Girl or Bad Girl: How the Media Blew the Rihanna Story

By Andy Wright, AlterNet. Posted March 24, 2009.

The media frenzy that followed Rihanna's assault was predictably crass and damaging to domestic violence victims.

When news broke that 19-year-old R&B artist Chris Brown had been arrested by Los Angeles police Feb. 8 for allegedly attacking a woman in his car, the saga that unfolded was as predictable as a track on Billboard's Top 10.

As speculated, the woman was revealed to be his pop-star girlfriend, Rihanna. On Feb. 19, a photograph of the star's face covered in bruises was leaked and posted on gossip site and then reproduced across the Web. And the media frenzy that followed was predictably crass.

When Jane Velez-Mitchell writes on, "Unfortunately, despite her incredible looks and talent, I think she is now the poster child for battered woman's syndrome," she neatly sums up one of the most maddening angles that much of the coverage adopted: Who would expect the poster child of battered women…

Can Private Security Guards Act As Cops?

That's Exactly What They May Soon Be Doing On The Far South Side

They're private security guards, already on patrol, but they may soon have the powers of Chicago Police officers.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the private security officers now on patrol on the city's Far South Side are expected to have their powers expanded as part of a citywide ordinance now being prepared.

But officials are questioning whether this means public safety is being outsourced.

Mayor Richard M. Daley has already privatized many city functions. The Chicago Skyway has been leased to a Spanish conglomerate. Midway Airport is run by a Canadian company. The parking meters were sold to a firm run by Morgan Stanley, and as a result, the cost of parking in the city has skyrocketed.

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Schenectady mayor considers options, martial law over police woes

By: Steve Ference

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Schenectady Police Chief Mark Chaires said, "This is unprecedented - all these officers getting in trouble at the same time for all these different reasons.

Five Schenectady police officers recently accused of everything from driving drunk to beating up a man are leading city officials to look at taking drastic action to fix a department tainted by the few who may have acted illegally, like Darren Lawrence and Michael Brown who are accused of driving while intoxicated.

Chief Chaires said, "Those two officers, we're definitely going to seek termination, and we're not ruling it out with any of the officers who are out there.

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Boys, 15, Tasered by police, stats show

122 people zapped in Toronto last year, including senior citizen

Mar 20, 2009 04:30 AM

Michele Henry
Crime Reporter

A 71-year-old man and two 15-year-old boys were among the people Tasered by Toronto police last year, new figures indicate.

While a police report says 122 people were Tasered in 2008, it fails to reveal where and when each incident took place and more explicit details of the events leading up to the confrontations.

Police are refusing to comment on the contents of the 21-page report until it is presented at a March 30 Toronto Police Services Board meeting.

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Everybody's getting tasered. Tom

Does America Face the Risk of a Fascist Backlash?

By Robert Freeman, AlterNet. Posted March 19, 2009.

The Right's ability to capitalize on people's sense of grievance must not be underestimated.

In early 1919, Germany put in place a new government to begin rebuilding the country after its crushing defeat in World War I. But the right-wing forces that had led the country into the War and lost the War conspired even before it was over to destroy the new government, the "Weimar Republic." They succeeded.

The U.S. faces a similar "Weimar Moment." The devastating collapse of the economy after eight years of Republican rule has left the leadership, policies, and ideology of the right utterly discredited. But, as was the case with Germany in 1919, Republicans do not intend to allow the new government to succeed. They will do everything they can to undermine it. If they are successful, the U.S. may yet go the way of Weimar Germany.

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Just look at all the fascists on tv and in the media. Or listen to right wing…

Bush Law Continued

By David Cole

March 18, 2009

By David Cole

This article appeared in the April 6, 2009 edition of The Nation.
March 18, 2009
Most of us have a favorite image from the inauguration of President Obama. Mine shows soldiers at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base replacing George W. Bush's picture with a portrait of the new president. A day later, Obama ordered that Guantánamo be closed within a year, signaling that his administration would take a stance on terrorism very different from his predecessor's. Since then, however, he has taken several actions suggesting that the differences may be less marked than that first day implied. Certainly there have been significant improvements in US policy, particularly Washington's approach to international law. But disturbingly, the Obama administration has continued the Bush administration's attempts to shield illegal exercises of executive authority from judicial review.

The Obama administration's ambivalent approach was perhaps most evident i…

There Will Always Be Blood: True Crime Writing

By Lorna Scott Fox

March 18, 2009

Who reads stories of true crime? One imagines a furtive audience of sad saps and sadists, trench-coated lurkers and wan shut-ins. Friends reacted with funny looks when I tried to share my pleasure in True Crime: An American Anthology, forcing me to offer a defensive recital of the names on the back cover. Who writes them, then? Bloody deeds are as American as Jesus or money, and often connected to both. Yet it comes as a surprise that so many notable Americans--most, but not all, best known for their fiction--were apprenticed in murder reportage or cultivated a thoughtful sideline in the subject. Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, even José Martí grace the first third of this anthology of fifty pieces. The roster of writers from the twentieth century includes H.L. Mencken, James Thurber and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as Truman Capote and James Ellroy, amid fascinating pros and hacks, forgotten "murder fanciers" an…

To save money on prisons, states take a softer stance

By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

SALINA, Kan. — In a hushed conference room overlooking the town's main drag, eight convicted felons, including an aspiring amateur fighter, brandish bright Crayola markers.

Their goal is to match their personalities to one of four colors. Tim Witte, 27, on probation for evading arrest, eyes the task as if sizing up a fellow middle-weight on Kansas' gritty cage-fighting circuit. Witte and two drug offenders settle on orange.

The color, indicative of a restless, risk-taking personality, is the hue of choice for most offenders, says Michelle Stephenson, the corrections officer leading the unusual exercise.

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Three Strikes 15 Years Later: We’re All Out -- of Money, and Time

By Tamar Todd, AlterNet. Posted March 17, 2009.

People are serving 25 years to life in California for drug possession, for stealing a pizza, and in one especially sad case, chocolate chip cookies.

This month the California Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Richard Allen Davis, who kidnapped and murdered a young girl named Polly Klaas over 15 years ago. The murder of Polly Klaas led to a wave of fear among Californians. That fear quickly turned to outrage and that outrage quickly led to the most heavy-handed, over-reaching, costly, and ineffective sentencing policy in California history. This policy has cost the state billions of dollars to incarcerate thousands of people convicted of nonviolent offenses for extraordinarily long periods. This month is the 15th anniversary of California's Three Strikes law.

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Bernard Madoff Psychic Profile: Peggy Rometo on Where the Money Went and More

Where did Madoff stash the billions? How much did Ruth know? Does the former NASDAQ chairman feel any shame?

Bernard L. Madoff, the man who masterminded what is believed to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history, was jailed yesterday after pleading guilty to 11 charges including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The disgraced Wall Street trader, who said he was "deeply sorry and ashamed" for swindling investors out of $65 billion, will face 150 years behind bars when he is sentenced in June. We asked wOw Intuitive Peggy Rometo how it all came to pass — and what’s in store for America’s most hated villain.

wOw: How did it all begin?

Peggy: My feeling is that Madoff was approached by an underground group, possibly originating in Argentina or somewhere else in South America, to find a simple, creative way to make some extra money. I think he saw it as easy, conceptual, no big deal. It all began with an offshore investment and willing partners. He felt …

Perp Walks Instead of Bonuses

by Robert Scheer

There must be a criminal investigation of the AIG debacle, and it looks as if New York's top lawman is on the case. The collusion to save this toxic company in order to salvage the rogue financiers who conspired to enrich themselves by impoverishing millions is being revealed as the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history. Instead of taking bonuses, the culprits should be taking perp walks.

I'm not just referring to the swindlers in the Financial Products Subsidiary of AIG who devised and sold those insurance policies on derivatives that brought the world economy to its knees. They do seem deserving of a special place in hell, and presumably the same divine power that according to Scripture labeled usury a high moral crime and threw the money-changers out of the temple will consider that outcome.

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The Globe today headlines that major Canadian companies can't meet their pension obligations. And Chrysler wants to pay Canadians like they pay their …

Emotions Matter

A note from Ken Walby, visiting Carleton PhD student:

I am wondering about how to send a note around to all of the graduate students at the Centre? A few of us at Carleton have organized a conference coming up in May and I would like to share the poster (see attached) with folks in this department.

Crimbrary is unable to post the poster, but here is the text:

Featuring Drs Sara Ahmed (Goldsmiths, University of London), Randall Collins (University of Pennsylvania), Jack Katz (University of California, LA), Peggy Thoits (Indiana University), Catherine Theodosius (University Campus Suffolk),
Joyce Davidson (Queen’s University), and more.

Email for more information.
Email to indicate what days you will attend, how many people are in your party, and if you have any dietary restrictions.

Carleton University, May 8 & 9 2009.

Workplace Massacre in Alabama: Did Endless Downsizing and Slashed Benefits Cause the Rampage?

By Mark Ames, AlterNet. Posted March 13, 2009.

If you keep squeezing workers to fatten filthy-rich executives' already-obscene bonuses, there can be very violent consequences

So far we've learned that McLendon's hit list names the three companies he had worked for since 2003 -- Reliance Metals, which makes construction materials; Pilgrim's Pride, the nation's number one poultry producer, where his mother also worked, until she was suspended from her job last week; and Kelley Foods, a smaller family-owned meat-processing company from which McLendon apparently quit just last week.

Even more striking to someone who has studied these workplace massacres, it appears that McLendon was bullied and abused at work. One clue as to why he'd end his spree at Reliance, where he hadn't worked since 2003, could be that he was trying to kill the source of the pain: workers at Reliance used to taunt him incessantly, giving him the nickname "Doughboy." Which basically…

Like Rihanna, I Returned to an Abuser

By Lea Lane, Huffington Post. Posted March 13, 2009.

On average, it takes six attempts before a woman leaves an abusive relationship. How could I have accepted the unacceptable? Judge for yourself.

Battered singer Rihanna has returned to her boyfriend, the angelic-faced hip-hop singer, Chris Brown. Young, beautiful, talented and rich, they seemed to be living a fairy tale life. Except for her being beaten, punched, choked and bitten by him.

Rihanna wants to stay and work it out. On average, it takes six attempts before a woman actually leaves an abusive relationship. According to statistics quoted on CBS yesterday, one in every four women at some point in her life is a victim of domestic violence, and this abuse results in approximately 1,300 deaths a year.

Read on...

Canada Should Bar or Prosecute Bush: Lawyer

Foreign Affairs stays silent on upcoming Calgary visit

by Jeremy Klaszus

As George W. Bush's St. Patrick's Day visit to Calgary draws near, the federal government is facing pressure from activists and human rights lawyers to bar the former U.S. president from the country or prosecute him for war crimes and crimes against humanity once he steps on Canadian soil.

Bush is scheduled to speak at the Telus Convention Center March 17, but Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson says that because Bush has been "credibly accused" of supporting torture in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Canada has a legal obligation to deny him entry under Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The law says foreign nationals who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, including torture, are "inadmissible" to Canada.

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I vote we let him in and arrest him and ship him to the Hague. Tom

Jail Time for a $14 Bounced Check? How Private Debt Collectors Cash in Posing as the Government

By Mosi Secret, ProPublica. Posted March 12, 2009.

American Corrective Counseling Services uses threats and coercion to cash in on consumers on behalf of district attorneys.

With the seal of Santa Barbara County’s district attorney on its cover, the envelope caught Jennifer Osborn’s attention immediately. And when she opened it, Osborn read something startling: She was being accused of a crime.

Osborn, the letter alleged, had "violated criminal statutes by issuing a bad check." She faced as much as a year in jail and a $2,500 fine unless she made good, paid an additional $215 in fees and spent a Saturday at a "financial accountability class."

The letter stunned the 20-year-old college sophomore. Osborn was unaware that a $92 check she’d written to her school bookstore had bounced, the result of a mix-up with her mom, she said. "Failure to pay in full and schedule class within TEN DAYS from the date of this Notice may result in your case being forwarded for crimina…

Despite a Crashing Economy, Private Prison Firm Turns a Handsome Profit

By Erin Rosa, CorpWatch. Posted March 4, 2009.

The GEO Group Inc., a private prison firm paid millions by the government to detain undocumented immigrants, is doing just fine.

While the nation's economy flounders, business is booming for The GEO Group Inc., a private prison firm that is paid millions by the U.S. government to detain undocumented immigrants and other federal inmates. In the last year and a half, GEO announced plans to add a total of at least 3,925 new beds to immigration lockups in five locations. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the U.S. Marshals Service, which hire the company, will fill the beds with inmates awaiting court and deportation proceedings.

GEO reported impressive quarterly earnings of $20 million on February 12, 2009, along with an annual income of $61 million for 2008 -- up from $38 million the year before. But the company's share value is not the only thing that's growing. Behind the financial success and expansion of t…

PA Judges Got Cash to Lock Up Teens, Revealed a Broken Justice System

By Donald Cohen, AlterNet. Posted March 6, 2009.

The structure of private detention and prison contracting creates incentives and behaviors that poison our system of criminal justice.

Last month, two Pennsylvania judges pled guilty to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately-operated detention centers. One judge secured the contracts for the firms and the other judge kept the centers filled by sentencing over 5,000 teens, many for first-time offenses, since the scheme started in 2003.

One high school student was sentenced to three months for mocking her assistant principal on a spoof MySpace page. She was handcuffed and taken away as her parents watched. "I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare," said the 17-year old.

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Women's Day Marks Crisis of Poverty, Violence for Some

NEW DELHI - Indian activists marked International Women's Day on Sunday by protesting over a spate of violent attacks launched on women by religious extremists in the name of "moral policing."

A collective formed by residents in Bangalore, in India's south, met in parks and open areas where young Hindu extremists have targeted women for wearing jeans, or being seen in public with men.

While women from Australia to Liberia gathered to hail achievements and to campaign on issues such as work equality, voting rights and abortion access, there was little to celebrate for the female population in many parts of the world.

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Preventing a Judicial Ruling on the Power to Imprison without Charges

by Glenn Greenwald

After being held in captivity as an accused "enemy combatant" by the U.S. Government for more than five years without charges or a trial of any kind, Ali Al-Marri -- who was a legal resident in the U.S. and was on U.S. soil at the time of his detention -- was, two weeks ago, finally indicted and charged with various crimes in a federal court. The indictment came as the U.S. Supreme Court was set to rule whether the Constitution allows the President to imprison legal residents inside the U.S. as "enemy combatants" and keep them imprisoned indefinitely with no charges or trial (both sides of the appellate court decision agreed that the legal analysis is the same for the power to imprison U.S. citizens). But now there will be no such ruling, because the Obama administration (over the objections of Al-Marri's ACLU lawyer) successfully convinced the Court to dismiss the case on the ground that the indictment of Al-Marri renders the question "…

The Wall Street Criminals Are Still Running Free, Stealing Billions

By Stephen Pizzo, News for Real. Posted March 6, 2009.

Why are the very people whose actions ignited a worldwide depression still sitting pretty, at least compared to their victims?

As those of us who still believe those silly "rights" our Founders put in the Constitution push to investigate and prosecute the Bush/Cheney crowd for their crimes, we have other criminals still running around free in the private and public sector.

1.Why isn't Bernie Madoff behind bars?

2.Why hasn't Congress thrown Roland Burris out of the Senate on his lying ass?

3.Why hasn't Fitzgerald reeled in Blago yet, instead of letting him run around giving interviews and signing book contracts?

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Newly Released Secret Memos Provide the Blueprint for Bush's Police State

By Marjorie Cohn, AlterNet. Posted March 4, 2009.

The memos' authors, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, should be investigated, prosecuted, and disbarred.

Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the President with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide "legal" rationales for the President to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of U.S. citizens; lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties. According to the reasoning in the memos, Congress has no role to check and balance the executive. That is the definition of a police state.

Who wrote these memos? All but one were crafted in whole or in part by the infamous John Yoo and Jay Bybee, authors of the so-called "torture memos" that redefined tortu…

Domestic Violence: "Why Doesn't She Leave?" Is the Wrong Question to Ask

By Amanda Marcotte, Pandagon. Posted March 4, 2009.

Abusers often taunt their victims with just this question, because they grasp the psychological power and the self-esteem erosion behind it.
Confession: Every time I see a feminist write about the reasons women don't leave abusers, and they focus to financial constraints and the physical ability to leave to the exclusion of all other factors, I flinch. I flinch, though I've been guilty of this myself. It's just such an easy, obvious way to get sympathy for women who have very little sympathy in the public, who tend to share 51-100% of the blame for the beatings that they avoid and wish deeply didn't happen. You want to get the question off, "Why doesn't she leave?" and onto the one that people hate asking, "Why does he beat her?", and focusing on the most helpless of cases is the quickest, easiest way to do that. But what it does, I realize, is separates "good" victims who d…

The Proceeds of Crime

The US and British governments have created a private prison industry which preys on human lives.

by George Monbiot

It's a staggering case; more staggering still that it has scarcely been mentioned on this side of the ocean. Last week two judges in Pennsylvania were convicted of jailing some 2,000 children in exchange for bribes from private prison companies.

Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan sent children to jail for offences so trivial that some of them weren't even crimes. A 15-year-old called Hillary Transue got three months for creating a spoof web page ridiculing her school's assistant principal. Ciavarella sent Shane Bly, then 13, to boot camp for trespassing in a vacant building. He gave a 14-year-old, Jamie Quinn, 11 months in prison for slapping a friend during an argument, after the friend slapped her. The judges were paid $2.6m by companies belonging to the Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp for helping to fill its jails. This is what happens when public services …

One in Every 31 Adults in Prison; Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid

One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008, according to a new study.

Correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data.

Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to the report today by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years.

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