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A major federal investigation into spousal violence says it cost
society at least $7.4 billion for the thousands of incidents that
occurred in just one year.
The Justice Canada study examined a broad range of economic impacts,
from policing and health-care to funerals and lost wages, for every
incident of spousal violence in 2009.
Drawing on a Canada-wide police database, researchers found almost
50,000 cases of spousal violence reported to police that year, more than
80 per cent of them involving female victims. The cases included 65
homicides, 49 of them women.
The study also mined an annual Statistics Canada telephone survey,
which estimated some 336,000 Canadians in 2009 were victims of some form
of violence from their spouse. The definition of spouse included
married, common-law, separated, same-sex and divorced partners.
Americans are paying an ever-increasing price, both in dollars and the loss of personal privacy, to maintain the spy state.
Ever hear of Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 20? Bet not. The more
you’ve never heard of something, the more worried you should be.
In mid-November , The Washington Post,
the first media outlet to report on the directive, noted that it
“enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on
the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.”
The Post’s revelation came at the same time that other stories
broke pointing to deepening problems with electronic privacy rights in
America. The most sensational story involved the FBI’s snooping the
private e-mails of two of the nation’s leading security officers, CIA
Director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, head of the U.S.
Afghanistan war effort.
More disturbing but expected, the Supreme Court rejected the ACLU’s
challenge to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) use of …
Should five non-violent offenders die behind bars for a crime Americans increasingly believe should not even be a crime?
Right now, five adults await death in prison for non-violent,
marijuana-related crimes. Their names are John Knock, Paul Free, Larry
Duke, William Dekle, and Charles “Fred” Cundiff. They are all more than
60 years old; they have all spent at least 15 years locked up for
selling pot; and they are all what one might call model prisoners,
serving life without parole. As time wrinkles their skin and weakens
their bodies, Michael Kennedy of the Trans High Corporation has filed a legal petition
with the federal government seeking their clemency. Otherwise they will
die behind bars for selling a drug 40% of American adults have admitted
to using, 50% of Americans want legal, and two states have already
legalized for adult use. Since these men were convicted of these crimes
many years ago, public opinion and policy related to marijuana have
shifted greatly. Sh…
As the White House eyes new gun-controls following the Sandy Hook school massacre and firearms dealers are seeing guns sales spike,
a handful of recent investigative reports suggest that the nation’s
state-run system of screening gun buyers for mental illness is mostly a
mirage—except in a dozen states where governors want the system to
Federal prohibits gun sales to anyone who was declared mentally unfit
by a court. In Bill Clinton’s first term, Congress passed a law
requiring states to report these mental health records to the FBI. But
in 1997, the Supreme Court threw out that requirement, saying states
could share whatever information they wanted to—or more likely not share
Fast-forward to 2012, and as the Wall Street Journalreported,
only 12 states account for the majority of mental health records in the
FBI database. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-chaired by New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reported that 19 states have each submitted less than 10…
Abuse ranges from outright rape, groping, invasive pat-downs and peeping
during showers -- to verbal taunts or harassing comments.
llowing male guards to oversee female prisoners is a recipe for
trouble, says former political prisoner Laura Whitehorn. Now a frequent
lecturer on incarceration policies and social justice, Whitehorn
describes a culture in which women are stripped of their power on the
most basic level. "Having male guards sends a message that female
prisoners have no right to defend their bodies," she begins. "Putting
women under men in authority makes the power imbalance as stark as it
can be, and results in long-lasting repercussions post- release."
Abuse, of course, can take many forms, from the flagrant - outright
rape, groping, invasive pat-downs and peeping during showers or while an
inmate is on the toilet - to verbal taunts or harassing comments. And
while advocates for the incarcerated have long tried to draw attention
to these co…
New revelations about police brutality under Thatcher in the seminal 1984 battle against striking union miners.
Among British ex-miners, the infamous June 18, 1984 battle between
striking coal miners and police at the Orgreave coking plant in South
Yorkshire, is still bitterly invoked as a symbol of then-Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher’s campaign against union miners, whom she famously
called “the enemy within.” The yearlong strike ultimately marked the
beginning of the decline of Britain’s nationalized coal industry, and
the economic and social deterioration of coalfield communities.
Almost three decades later, a BBC documentary
has directed new attention to the 1984 “battle of Orgreave” and to
police behavior throughout the strike. Released in October, the
documentary presents new evidence indicating that the South Yorkshire
police conspired to crush the strike through fabricated arrest reports
and systematic brutality.
There has been a severe breakdown in the process for appointing federal
judges. At the start of the Reagan years, it took, on average, a month
for candidates for appellate and trial courts to go from nomination to
confirmation. In the first Obama term, it has taken, on average, more
than seven months.
Seventy-seven judgeships, 9 percent of the federal bench (not counting the Supreme Court), are vacant;
19 more seats are expected to open up soon. The lack of judges is more
acute if one considers the growing caseload. The Judicial Conference,
the courts’ policy-making body, has recommended expanding the bench by
88 additional judgeships.
President Obama must make fully staffing the federal courts an important
part of his second-term agenda — starting with the immediate Senate
confirmation of the 18 nominees approved by the Senate Judiciary
Committee. Read on... This is an editorial from the NY Times. Tom
In his novel King of the Jews, Leslie Epstein sets his story
in the wartime ghetto of Lodz, Poland, where the Gestapo ruled through
an appointed council of Jewish elders. Epstein, researching the book,
tracked down the gallows humor of the time. In one such joke, told by a
character in the novel, two Jews are facing a firing squad. The
commandant asks if they would like blindfolds. One of the condemned
whispers to the other, “Don’t make trouble.”
“Don’t make trouble” could have been the credo of the first year of
the Obama Administration. The White House calculated that if the
president just extended the hand of conciliation to the Republicans, the
opposition would reciprocate and together they would change the tone in
Washington. This was the policy on everything from the stimulus to
health reform to judicial nominations. It didn’t work out so well.
Now, spurred by the tailwind of a re-election victory and the
realization that public opinion is on his side, President Ob…
the erosion of Americans' civil liberties depends on high levels of
public apathy, some of the most dangerous privacy breaches take place
incrementally and under the radar; if it invites comparisons to Blade Runner
or Orwell, then someone in the PR department didn't do their job.
Meanwhile, some of the biggest threats to privacy, like insecure online
data or iPhone GPS tracking, are physically unobtrusive and therefore
easily ignored. And it'll be at least a year or two until the sky is overrun by spy drones.
So when a method of surveillance literally resembles a prop or plot
point in a sci-fi movie, it helps to reveal just how widespread and
sophisticated commercial and government monitoring has become. Here are
five recent developments that seem almost unreal in their dystopian
1. Buses and street cars that can hear what you say .
As the U.S. system of mass incarceration takes an ever-greater toll on
budgets and communities, more social scientists of all ideological
leanings are calling for lesser prison sentences and alternatives to prisons.
An extensive New York Times report on this phenomenon tells the story
of Stephanie George, who is serving a sentence of life without parole
for her alleged nominal role in a drug deal. It was a sentence
Reagan-appointed Judge Roger Vinson didn’t even want to dispense, but
his hands were tied by mandatory sentencing schemes. Aside from making
the U.S. the number one jailer in the world, here are some of the other shocking facts about the nature and impact of U.S. mass incarceration featured in the report:
Of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the U.S., 500,000 are locked up for drug offenses – ten times more than there were in 1980. Researchers have found that these lock-ups have no concurrent effect on the illicit drug supply, as demand remains the same and rep…
Interesting piece in Buzzfeed
about the Republicans starting to wake up to the fact that they need to
start appearing on other news outlets – real news outlets – than just
The thing is, going before real journalists can be hazardous to your
health. Not often. But it’s certainly more risky than having Hannity
brown-nose you for ten minutes.
The argument some conservatives are giving is that they’re only preaching to the choir when they go on Fox. Yes, but.
It’s a complicated question as to when its useful to go on a show
that might as you tough questions. For the left, there really isn’t an
alternative kind of show. Only lately MSNBC has been trying to fill
Fox’s shoes – and MSNBC does it with fewer lies and less party loyalty.
But before then it was either go on CNN and the other networks, and
face tough questions, or go on Fox and be treated like a subhuman.
A high-level executive at the nation’s second-largest private prison corporation
testified under oath that it would not be wrong to give false testimony
to a federal agency, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
according to a video recently posted on YouTube.
The testimony came in a case alleging that GEO Group Senior Vice
President of Project Development Thomas Wierdsma threatened to use his
position at GEO to have his then daughter-in-law’s immigration status investigated by ICE if she spoke out about domestic abuse.
ATTORNEY: You would agree it would be wrong to give false testimony against somebody, correct?
WIERDSMA: Um [long pause]. Yes.
ATTORNEY: Similarly, would it be wrong to give false testimony to a federal agency?
WIERDSMA: No, not at all. Happens all the time.
An investigation by
the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram has found that a
disturbingly high percentage of individuals shot by police suffer from
mental health problems. There are no federal statistics on police
shootings of mentally ill people, but according to the investigation published this week ,
“a review of available reports indicates that at least half of the
estimated 375 to 500 people shot and killed by police each year in this
country have mental health problems.”
The newspapers analyzed in detail the incidents of police deploying
deadly force in Maine — a state with a comparatively low crime rate —
since 2000. The report noted:
42 percent of people shot by police since 2000 — and 58
percent of those who died from their injuries — had mental health
problems, according to reports from the Maine Attorney General’s Office.
In many cases, the officers knew that the subjects were disturbed, and
they were dead in a matter of moments Read on...
As if the world really needs another
reality show, a new one about five women who have had abortions is set
to debut next month on the Christian Internet television network
KnockTV. “Surrender the Secret” will follow the “five women on their
journey together to ... healing and self-forgiveness,” according to
pro-life website Live Action News.
“There’s a new trend among abortion
proponents—convince the world that abortion is not shameful. Convince
post-abortive women that any guilt they may feel is unfounded. Convince
post-abortive women who have kept their abortion a secret that they
should shout about it from the rooftops with pride,” says Live Action
News’ Nancy Flanders.
“Post-abortive women do need to talk about their choice. However, they
don’t need to be and shouldn’t pretend to be proud of it.”
Because obviously the best place for these
women to go through the healing process is on an online reality show
that is publicly shaming them for their life choices.
Thanks to the war on drugs, the war on terror and general public apathy
about civil liberties, police can stomp all over your rights.
Talk to someone who has never dealt with the cops about police
behaving badly, and he or she will inevitably say, “But they
can't do that! Can they?” The question of what the cops can or can't do
is natural enough for someone who never deals with cops, especially if
their inexperience is due to class and/or race privilege. But a public
defender would describe that question as naïve. In short, the cops can
do almost anything they want, and often the most maddening tactics are
actually completely legal.
There are many reasons for this, but three historical developments
stand out: the war on drugs provided the template for social control
based on race; 9/11 gave federal and local officials the opportunity to
ensnare Muslims (and activists) in the ever-increasing surveillance and
incarceration state; and a lack of concern from the public…
In an important decision for the legal treatment of abused women,
Ontario’s top court has found that stalking and verbal threats can be
just as severe as physical attacks.
The province’s Court of Appeal
upheld a sentence of 5 1/2 years in the case of a man who subjected a
woman he had recently met to a barrage of harassing phone calls and
letters, including two sent while he was in jail awaiting trial.
Patrick James Doherty argued that, because he did not assault his
victim, he should receive a lesser sentence. The court rejected his
The victim “suffered mentally and physically as a
result of the appellant’s harassment. She lost weight, lost sleep and
was anxious and worried about what he may do to her,” wrote Justice
Dennis O’Connor of the court’s unanimous decision. “The impact on her
was magnified each time he ignored her pleas to stop, the police
warnings and the court orders.”
It all began in November of last
year when Agnieszka Mikulska posted a classifie…
True, the number of homicides in Canada increased
this year over last. True, fatal stabbings increased sharply. True, the
figures arrive amid a divisive national policy debate over Prime
Minister Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime agenda.
But, according to the experts, what is the real conclusion to be drawn from the latest Statistics Canada figures on homicides?
Essentially: Take a deep breath. “You can’t infer anything from
today’s numbers,” said Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd.
“An increase of 7 per cent is of no real consequence.”
broad trends from one year’s stats is equivalent to holding up a cold
winter’s day as proof that climate change is a fraud, criminologists
say. When experts look for criminal patterns in Statscan numbers, they
work with periods of no less than 10 years.
Though violence lingers, we commemorate those acting to stop it
During supper one October evening while listening to
the news on the radio, I suddenly put down my fork and gripped my
10-year-old son's arm. We listened intently to the broadcast. A Taliban
gunman had shot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head while she was sitting with her classmates on a bus in Mingora, Pakistan. The Guardian reported
that a Taliban spokesman characterized Malala's advocacy work for
girls' education as an "obscenity" that had to be stopped. Malala and
her family had been targeted because of the blog
she had written for the BBC while she was in seventh grade chronicling
the effects of Taliban repression in her region, including the burning
of girls' schools.
"Why did they shoot her?" my son asked me,
aghast. I attempted to explain the attitudes of religious extremists,
their desire to maintain social, political and economic control and
power by excludin…
On Tuesday, the government of Canada’s fifth-most populous province,
Manitoba introduced what it calls a “strong anti-bullying action plan.”
It is to include various new resources for parents and teachers and
eventually, after public consultations, “strong legislation that would
further support students, broaden reporting of bullying and respect
In the current anti-bullying climate, where stern legislative fixes
are the order of the day, this almost counts as foot-dragging. In
Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, students are now threatened
with expulsion for any behaviour they intend to, or ought to know is
likely to, cause “harm, fear or distress to another individual,
including physical, psychological, social or academic harm, harm to the
individual’s reputation or … property” — or even just for “creating a
negative environment at a school for another individual.”
As of Aug. 15, the Education Act in Canada’s second-most populous
province, Quebec, def…
A picture is worth a thousand words, as the cliché goes. But are a thousand words enough to tell the whole story?
Not in the case of the viral photograph
that recently emerged from the streets of Manhattan. The image has now
become a familiar one: a New York City police officer kneels beside a
barefoot homeless man in Times Square and offers him a new pair of
The officer, Larry DePrimo, did not
know an Arizona tourist had captured the moment with her cellphone. The
photo was uploaded on Facebook
and rocketed around the web, garnering 1.6 million views in 24 hours
and riveting the media: The officer bought the boots with his own money!
The shoe store employee was so touched he gave a discount! The cop
keeps the receipt in his vest as a reminder of those who are less