Jun 182016
 
furies

I have just one "subject" today which seems to me to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I say it's a "subject" because it isn't a single incident, which is what I usually try to find, nor even a group of incidents tied by a common thread, but all having names attached, as I used last week.  It's a systemic issue which affects people in every one of the United States' fifty.  It's nothing we haven't seen before in individual cases, but we may not have looksd at how thoroughly our justice system is permeated with it.  And just this month a new book has been published about it.

Now, I'm not here to sell books (or anything else), and I haven't bought this one, so I'll be leaning heavily on the interview in Take Part which led me to the subject, and on a white paper the author, Dr. Alexes Harris, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington, posted while the book was still in progress.

When we think about a person "paying" for his crimes, we generally think about someone spending time in prison, or occasionally and if the sentence is short enough, in jail.  Unless it's, say a speeding ticket, and then one simply pays the fine and it's over.  We don't think that "anyone convicted of any type of criminal offense is subject to fiscal penalties or monetary sanctions."  Nor that "[T]he base fine of, say, a speeding ticket or even a major criminal conviction is just a small portion of the total cost. There are fines, fees, interest, surcharges, per payment and collection charges, and restitution."   Least of all does it occur to us that "Until these debts are paid in full, individuals who have otherwise 'done their time' remain under judicial supervision and are subject to court summons, warrants, and even jail stays."

Naturally, no one wants debt haning over their heads.  So those who can manage to do so, pay the fines up front.  For those who cannot, all the additional charges, particularlt those which accrue over time, combine to make legal debt a life sentence.  One which disproportionately affects the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, and those suffering mental or physical illness.

Every state has provision in law for fines to be imposed upon conviction in addition to incarceration.  Also, individual counties, judicial district, parishes, whatever, can impose their own fines and fees, by county code, or informally, at the discretion of local clerks' offices.  Some of these appear to me to be in violation of the Constitution.  For example, in Louisiana, indigent defendants are assessed an up front fee for their public defender.  In North Carolina, every felony defendant, regardless of whether or not convicted, is assessed a "cost of justice"  fee.  Wasn't there something in the Fourth Amendment about unreasonable search and seizure?

Legally speaking, monetary sanctions like fines and fees are part of a court sentence.  Until these are paid in full, the individual's life belings to the court.  Even if all else is completed, imagine trying to get a job, rent a place to live, or, God forbid, get a loan with legal debt hanging over your credit record.  Legal debt effectively derails prospects for success after conviction.

So why do states (and counties) keep piling these on?  Are they actually getting any money from those who are desperately poor?  Well, if they can get enough very small payments, they can at least believe they are.  In 2012, for insance, Washington State generated $29 million from half a million people.  Dr. Harris added, "The court clerks I talked to all said they needed this source of income but couldn’t tell me where it was going. I have a new project where I’m trying to figure out where all of this money goes—how much is generated and recovered and what percentage goes where."

And the debt keeps increasing:  (emphasis mine)

Ironically, as a result of mass conviction and incarceration, jurisdictions cannot afford criminal justice costs. They are attempting to literally transfer these expenses to defendants. Since the vast majority of people who receive felony convictions in the U.S. have minimal employment and income prospects post-conviction, monetary sanctions deepen existing inequalities. Poor people carry the onerous weight of a criminal record in very different ways and for longer periods of time than those with financial resources and good connections (that is, people from whom they can borrow money). In effect, because they can’t pay their debts, the poor become perpetual subjects of the criminal justice system.

I think perhaps we will need a multi-pronged strategy to deal with this situation.  Tisiphone, because it's difficult for mortals to find out the facts – court systems are not autmated, and, in the rare cases in which they are, they are not consistent – "[W]e cannot know how many are jailed or how much is spent on monitoring, arresting, and incarcerating people for non-payment. Researchers truly cannot calculate the total criminal justice resources consumed in managing legal debtors, collecting outstanding debt, and sanctioning those who have not made payments."  I am asking you to find out how much of this mess, if any, is productive – and how much is just vengeful destruction.  Megaera, you need to attack the grudging attitudes of those who would make all criminal justice into "pay to play," further disadvantaging the poor.  And, Alecto, you need to pester legislators, bureaucrats, and activists without ceasing, because this travesty will never end until we end it, and we apparently need our feet held to the fire and our noses to the grindstone (now, there's an image).

Not that there aren't plenty of other things wrong with criminal justice in the United States.  But this would be a start.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3993483

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Jun 142016
 

I needed another Lona nap this morning, and I’m busy, so I’ll be brief.  Happy Flag Day!!

0614americanflag

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:30 (average 4:50).  To do it, click here,  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Rowan Elijah Feldhaus submitted a name change petition which Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper rejected. Rowan’s previous name had been Rebeccah Elizabeth Feldhaus.

The question presented is whether a female has the salutatory right to change her name to a traditionally and obviously male name. The court concludes that she does not have such right.

–Judge Roper

There’s an judge that Rump Dump would appoint to SCROTUS.

From NY Times: A judge in Oregon has granted a petition allowing a person to legally choose neither sex and be classified as nonbinary: an important development for transgender Americans while civil rights and sexual identity are in the national spotlight, advocates and legal experts said.

Though the petition was granted with little fanfare in a two-paragraph decision on Friday, the experts said that, to their knowledge, the ruling was the first of its kind in the country.

Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, Calif., described the decision in an email as a “historic step” toward the government’s recognizing “nonbinary members of our community and ensuring they have access to identity documents that reflect who they are, just like everyone else.”

The petitioner seeking the new designation, Jamie Shupe of Portland, Ore., is a retired United States Army sergeant born with male anatomy who had successfully battled the military to be given discharge papers that reflected the female sex.

Jamie — who prefers to use only a first name and the pronouns “they” and “their,” instead of singular pronouns — underwent hormone treatments to transition to a woman. But ultimately, neither sex fit, Jamie said in an interview on Friday.

Oregon leads the way! I wonder if this would work for trysexuals (those willing to try anything).

From Alternet: John Oliver Exposes the Retirement Scam: Even Wall Street’s Financial Advisers Agree They Shouldn’t Manage Your Money

 

Note that the cat did better than the fund managers. Give me your money and scratch me above the tail.

Cartoon:

0614Cartoon

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Jun 112016
 
furies

I have just one news item today (although it includes a fair number of different incidents) which really calls for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I am trying to stay away from the election right now since everything else seems to be about it.  I went and looked at Right Wing Watch, some of which is pretty awful, but it all belongs in the Right Wing Doozies of the week rather than here (and if James Dobson doesn't show up there I will have to add him.)  But then I came upon this story, and I knew I had to share it with the Furies.

We have all heard of lynching, right?  It used to be really, really bad, and it wasn't just in the Southern United States (although the Southerners seem to have taken more pictures for souvenirs than most in other areas).  California in fact felt the need to put an anti-lynching law on the books in 1933, to prevent mobs from forcibly taking people out of police custody for vigilante justice.

So how absurd is it that this law is now being (and has been for too long) used to persecute black activists organizing group political action and peaceful protests?

I'll start with the newest incident, because there are petitions on this one, and then go into some history.  In Pasadena, on June second (last Thursday week), Jasmine (Abdullah) Richards, was convicted of felony lynching.  The offense allegedly occurred on August 29, 2015, at a local park.  BLM had held a peaceful protest earlier in the day in memory of Kendrec McDade, who had been killed by police in 2012, unarmed and nineteen years old.  Some of the protesters were still at the park when the owner of a nearby restaurant apparently called 911 to state that a young black woman had not paid for her meal.

The law defines lynching thus: “The taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer is a lynching.”  Video of the incident shows confusion and raised voices, but not a riot, by any definition.  The concern of the non-LEOs appears to be that the police are large and the arrestee is petite, and that the LEO's roughness is hurting her.  With the record that police in the United States have (and Pasadena has a record of its own) of harming people in custody, I would think that any honest person would understand the concern of activists.

Jasmine's attorney states, and based on the video I would agree, that the charge was not established.  "It … includes an element of inciting a riot."  There is no incitement to anything in the video.

On June 7, Jasmine was sentenced to 90 days in jail, "with 18 days served, three years on probation, and one year of anger management."  To me, the three years of probation and one year of anger management are powerful attempts to neutralize Jasmine, to turn her into a "good little girl."  Well, well-behaved women seldom make history.  And history needs to be made for black people in America.

Two of the petitions for Jasmine are on Color of Change and Care2.

While Jasmine is the first to be actually charged in court and convicted of felony lynching, there is a fair history of the charge being cited at the time of arrest.  Here are some:

1999, San Francisco, anti-fur protestors.  Prosecutors declined to take the case to court.
2011, Oakland, Occupy movement, Tiffany Tran and Alex Brown.  Charges were dropped.
2012, Los Angeles, Occupy movement, Sergio Ballesteros.  The charge was dropped.
2014, Murrieta, protest in support of migrant detainees, Janet Mathieson, bargained to a misdemeanor
2015, Sacramento, rally againse law enforcement brutality, Maile Hampton. All charges were dropped.  Maile actually did try to pull her half brother away from an officer (can you blame her for being worried?)

After Maile's arrest, Governor Brown changed the language of the law so that it no longer uses the terms "lynch" and "lynching."  Aside from that, the law remains unchanged, and many people are still saying "lynching."  My take on that is that changing the language helps no one, fools no one, and probably serves to target the law even more towards people of color, without even honesty about its motives.

Dear Furies, please put on your Eumenides hats to help Jasmine here – and then go after that law.  If it's going to be targeting peaceful protest it should say so.  Thank you all.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3992040

Update 6/20/16 Update: Per an email from the Center for Media Justice, Jasmine is home – only on bail at this point – but home.

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Jun 112016
 

I was hoping to sleep-in, but Grand Floral Parade goers started staking out their spots and blowing their air horns at about 5:00 AM.  I’d guess that the parade will get here between 11:00 AM and 12:00 N.  Julie and I rescheduled shower day to tomorrow, so I’m a stinky puddy tat!!  I’ll scoot down and take a few pictures, if it isn’t raining.  Rain is bad for my chair.

My first surgery is a week from Monday.  The radioactive plaque they will be inserting behind my right eye is about the size of an old pop bottle cap.

0611melanoma_plaque

Mine will have a notch in one side to fit around the optic nerve.  The second surgery, a week from Friday, will be to remove it.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:49 (average 4:58).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Politico has an excellent piece of reporting from within the Sanders campaign on their future efforts. A great read and very encouraging for those of us who are anticipating unity within the party. It appears that staff within the Sanders group are already starting to shift their focus toward assisting Clinton in the general.

Sanders’ tech team is already expressing interest in working on Clinton’s behalf to drum up enthusiasm among young voters — a critical demographic for Democrats that Sanders dominated and Clinton struggled with during the primaries.

“Getting a bunch of kids stoked on the process is very important to ensure a Trump presidency is not possible,” said Arun Chaudhary, the Sanders videographer who joined the senator’s team at the White House on Thursday to take pictures surrounding his meeting with Obama.

As I said, the problem is not and never was Bernie. It’s the bots, who say they support him, but act at cross-purposes to what he is doing.

From Think Progress: Texas, so fond of seeing the environmental regulators in court that it has sued the Environmental Protection Agency dozens of times, wants to take the EPA to court for a brand new reason.

The Texas Railroad Commission recommended that the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, file another lawsuit targeting new EPA regulations seeking to limit methane emissions. Texas would be the first state to do so.

I don’t know why the Railroad Commission is doing this, when the Texas Republican Party is the biggest source of methane in the Southwest US.

From Alternet: A potentially massive fine levied against three telemarketing companies could finally force others in the industry to comply with federal rules—and stop nuisance calls.

Local news station KSL.com reports that the three companies—Feature Films for Families, Corporations for Character and Family Films of Utah—made more than 117 million illegal calls to consumers who had signed up with the “Do Not Call” registry. If the court assigns the regular fine amount for all of the 117 million illegal calls, the firms could end up paying over $1 trillion.

It goes without saying that the companies would not be able to afford such high fines and would be financially ground into dust by such a verdict, although the companies are still waiting for the judge’s decision on whether the full fines will be enforced. Eric Allen, an attorney for the law firm that is representing the companies, said a $1 trillion fine could have a chilling effect on other telemarketers.

Frankly, I hope the judge puts them out of business. Companies with such a Republican lack of respect don’t deserve to operate, and it would put other telemarketers on notice to respect the Do Not Call list, OR ELSE!! Enough don’t that it’s a rare day that I don’t get at least one scam robocall, usually for timeshare scams or loans

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0611Cartoon

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Jun 042016
 

It’s a hot day, and Julie was here.  We ordered a new Service Animal Vest for Killer Dawg, shined and polished the Puddy Tat, did some housework, installed a new mouse and keyboard for the computer, and cooked and shared a big spaghetti dinner.  The Portland Rose Festival is upon us, and tonight we have the Starlight Parade in high heat.  The temperature may drop to 90° by the time the parade begins a little after 8:00 PM.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:55 (average 4:24).  To do it, click here.

Short Takes:

From PR Watch: A case that advocates hope could go up to the U.S. Supreme Court and set a new standard against partisan gerrymandering is being heard in federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin this week.

A group of Democratic Wisconsin voters are suing the State of Wisconsin, arguing that the legislative district maps drawn by GOP politicians in 2011 are so skewed and long-lasting that their voting rights were violated.

University of Chicago Law School Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulous charged that Wisconsin’s Republican party engaged in the "worst gerrymander of modern American history" in opening arguments today. Stephanopoulous asked the three judge federal panel to "intervene to safeguard the democratic process."

The Fartfuhrer of Fitzwalkerstan and all his minions belong in cells.

From Daily Kos: Hillary’s take down today [Thursday] of a befuddled Donald Trump was absolutely epic.

 

As a public speaker, Hillary has never impressed me, but on this occasion, she outdid herself.

From NY Times: After running a congressional oversight committee like a Republican opposition research shop for more than two years, Representative Trey Gowdy appears to be gearing up for the finale. Democrats on the Select Committee on Benghazi expect that a final report will drop soon, just as Hillary Clinton appears poised to clinch the Democratic nomination.

If things had gone his way, Mr. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, would have found a way to torpedo Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions. After all, Republican lawmakers have admitted that this is precisely what they set out to do.

But things have not gone well for Mr. Gowdy, who has run the investigation with the dexterity and grace of a blindfolded toddler swinging at a piñata. Having pored over reams of documents, grilled Mrs. Clinton in an 11-hour session in October and hauled in more than 100 people for interviews, the Republicans seem to have come up with nothing.

Could this spell the end of Benghazi Bullshit?

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0604Cartoon

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May 282016
 
furies

Just one article this week which seems to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I doubt whether the Furies need to eat, you know, being immortal and all, and if that's correct, they probably do not barf.  But if any story could do it, it's this one.  For the rest of us, you have been warned.  Barf bags are in order

A young black man with "mental disorders including learning disabilities," who is a player on the footballl team at Dietrich High School in Dietrich, Idaho, was sexually assaulted by teammates last October 23, after football practice, the Washington Post has learned.  The report was written by Michael E. Miller, a foreign affairs reporter for the Post, who also blogs for their Morning Mix.  [If you want to keep your breakfast down, you may want to avoid the Post’s “Morning Mix” every day] 

The Post does not print names of sexual assault victims, nor of suspects charged as juveniles (both policies with which I heartily concur), so I can't use names when I say that, after practice on that date, the youthful suspect held out his arms to the victim as if to hug him.  Instead, the suspect restrained the victim so that the other two suspects could attack.

There is both a criminal case and a civil suit regarding this incident.  Both say that as the victim was restrained, another teammate, Tanner Ward, 17, who is being charged as an adult, used force to insert a coat hanger into the victim's rectum, after which the third teammate, John R. K. Howard, also being charged as an adult, kicked the coat hanger several times (five or six?), causing "rectal injuries" that required hospital treatment.

This John R. K. Howard sounds like a real jewel.  According to the lawsuit, which describes all manner of harassment to which the victim was subjected, he is "a large and aggressive male who had been sent to live with his relatives in Idaho due to his inability to keep out of trouble in Texas."  Ummm – how much of a menace does one have to be to be kicked out of Texas, if one is white?  The lawsuit also says, "Mr. Howard is a relative of prominent individuals in the community and, at least in part due to his athletic ability and community connections, the Defendants ignored or were deliberately indifferent to the behavior of Mr. Howard which included aggression, taunting and bullying of The Plaintiff and other students in the District." 

The community referred to, by the way, is a town of 334 people, and predominatly white.  The victim was adopted by his white parents when he was four years old.

The amount and types of abuse doled out should be shocking – but even if we have seen so much now not to be shocked, they are certainly repugnant.  I won't list everything, but I will quote this from the article: "It was Howard who, with his bare fists, knocked out the victim, who was made to wear boxing gloves, as teammates and coaches formed a circle around them, the suit says."

Excuse me?  Teammates and coaches formed a circle around them?

Sounds like that $10 million lawsuit is pretty solid.

Instead of going into more detail on the abuse, I would like to quote some comments from the Daily Kos diary on the case.

CharlesCurtisVotes:  "This makes my heart [hurt] so much. I'm in the verge of tears. My brother (who I lost 4 years ago) was special needs and I can see his face lighting up at the thought of getting a hug only to see it turn so horrible. I can't even begin to describe my sadness."

jusducky:  "My brother too….same. Like his health issues were not a big enough hurdle, the bullying was terrible, but it was nothing like this."

Kela5283:  "The idea that teachers and other school officials were complicit and cheered this on is just so morally repulsive to me. It just sickens me. They should be fired."

rainmanjr:  (in response to Kela 5283) "No. They should be prosecuted as accessories."

Local news and views can be found in what is apparently the major news source in Dietrich, "Magic Valley."

Dear Alecto, dear Megaera, dear Tisiphone, I hope I'm right that you do not barf.  I feel like I need a shower just asking you to even be in the same state as these – people.  Let alone to pay close enough attention to sort out the guilt.  Because I am sure there is plenty of guilt to go around, and plenty of guilty parties who have not even been mentioned.  May the Force be with you.  (Yeah, I know, different mythology, but this will need all the mythology it can get.)

BTW, my husband had a suggestion for one way the perps might be treated, but if you don't eat or barf, you probably don't do that either.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at

http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3987590

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May 212016
 
furies

Just one article this week which seems to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I saw on AlterNet and traced to Raw Story the report that a teacher at a private Christian Science high school in St. Louis, MO was fired after reporting that her underage daughter had been sexually abused by a school employee.  Looking for more information, I found the Courthouse News Service website to have a great deal more on the story, and after checking their Terms of Use, which explicitly grant permission to other blogs to copy an individual article provided Courthouse News Service is credited, I will be quoting their coverage of this complex story.  (Any emphasis – bolding – will be mine.)

     A former teacher at a Christian Science boarding school claims in court that she was fired after reporting that a fellow faculty member raped her daughter.
     Phoebe McVey sued The Principia Corporation in St. Louis County Court on Thursday.
     The Principia operates a school and college in suburban St. Louis.
     Neither the School nor the College is affiliated with the Christian Science Church, but the principles of Christian Science form the basis of community life at Principia, according to Principia's website.
     McVey claims 31-year-old Zachary Retzlaff began sexually assaulting her daughter, M.M. in the lawsuit, when she was 16. Retzlaff is not named as a defendant.
     McVey, who now lives in Arizona, lived on the Principia campus at the time with her husband and daughter. She says Retzlaff was Principia's director of telecommunications and related to several people at the school. He [is a] nephew-in-law of Adriane Fredrikson, the dean of admissions, and Hans Fredrikson, a former trustee, and also nephew-in-law of Bill and Cheryl Whitney, who both worked with Retzlaff in the computer information department.
     None of them are parties to the lawsuit.
     McVey says the sexual abuse went on from July 2014 to May 2015 and that Retzlaff spent time with M.M. at the Fredriksons' home during that time. She says she found out about the relationship while chaperoning a class trip to New Hampshire and Boston on May 21, 2015.
     She reported Reztlaff to the police the next day.
     A grand jury indicted Retzlaff for statutory rape in the second degree on July 22, 2015. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $35,000 bail. The criminal case is pending.
     Two days after she reported the rapes, McVey says, the school told her she would be terminated effective July 31, 2015.
     "Just prior to her termination, plaintiff had reported to the police that one of Principia's employees had committed the criminal acts of sexual intercourse with a minor, her daughter," the complaint states. "Such criminal acts were in violation (among other statutes) of Section 566.034 RSMo. As a result of McVey's reporting of illegal conduct, Principia's employee, Retzlaff was indicted on July 22, 2015.
     "Any other reason offered for Plaintiff's termination is pretextual to cover up Principia's illegal conduct."
     McVey's lawsuit does not go into detail, but a separate lawsuit filed by a Jane Doe against The Principia on Oct. 16, 2015, in St. Louis County may. Though it does not name McVey as Doe's parent, it states that Jane Doe was sexually assaulted dozens of times by Retzlaff during the same time period as McVey's daughter.
     That complaint says Retzlaff practiced sadomasochism with Doe.
     "During several of the sexual assaults, assailant choked Ms. Doe with his hands until she lost consciousness," the complaint states. "After the child was unconscious, assailant would begin engaging in vaginal intercourse with her while she was passed out so that when she awoke, his penis would already be inside of her."
     That lawsuit also accused Retzlaff of forcing Doe into group sex.
     "In addition to the sadomasochism, assailant invited other minors to join him in 'group sex' with Ms. Doe, including other Principia students, both male and female," the complaint states. "On several occasions, these other minors chose to flee the group sex session because the sexual acts assailant was performing on Ms. Doe became so extreme."
     That lawsuit claimed The Principia knew about Retzlaff's actions and even told him to "cut it out."
     That lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in February.*
     McVey seeks punitive damages for wrongful termination and breach of contract. She is represented by Brandy Barth with Newton Wright and Barth in St. Louis.
     Laurel Walter, communications director at The Principia, said in an email: "We are in the process of reviewing the allegations and do not have any comment at this time."
     Principia was involved a football hazing scandal involving sexual violence in August 2014. Three football players were kicked out of the school and faced criminal charges. Two were charged with four counts of first-degree sodomy and another with seven counts of third-degree assault.
     In an Oct. 22, 2015 story about the first lawsuit, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Retzlaff, then 33, was accused of sexually assaulting an underage student "more than 40 times on or around the campus here, choked her as part of sex play and held group sex parties for students."

Despite the comments I have been reading on this, both on AlterNet and on Raw Story (Courthouse News Service does not appear to have comments), I trust that I don't need to remind the Erinyes, or anyone here, that any man who thinks that a sixteen year old child has the mental capacity to consent to sex is thinking with the wrong head.  While Tisiphone, therefore, addresses herself to Mr. Retzlaff, I believe Alecto and Megaera are needed to deal with misconceptions which seem to be all too common in society about the nature of consent – and that sex without both parties consenting is rape.

*Incidentally the lawsuit referred to as "voluntarily dismissed in February" was specifically dismissed in such a way as not to preclude Ms. Doe from re-filing (presumably after the criminal charges have been dealt with).

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3985226

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Apr 232016
 
furies

It was another rough week. I was even more challenged than last week to limit myself. So, out of eight that I bookmarked (although there were even more that I didn't), here are three which really call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

Of the two police brutality stories, I picked this one, even though no one died (which someone did in the other one); in fact, there don't seem to have even been any marks left on the hapless arrestees (that's pending a health check, as two are diabetic).  What makes it so jaw-dropping face-palming outrageous is that (a) the five or more arrestees were children.  The oldest was 13, the youngest 6.  Most were under 10.  (b)  The children were arrested, with warrants, at their school, in front of their peers.  (c) The charge was that they failed to break up a fight which, incidentally, occurred, not in a public place, but in someone's backyard.  At least two of the arrestees were not even present at the disagreement.

You know, if I had a child who was six years old, and he was in a friend's back yard, and a couple of other kids disagreed about a basketball game and pushed each other some, I would hope to God he would NOT try to break it up.  But these arrested children have been charged with criminal responsibility for each other (which sounds to me like they are being charged as adults, which is insane.)

Jen Hayden, who uses her real name in her bylines at Daily Kos, but whose Twitter handle is @Scout_Finch, had this to say: "Any way you slice it, these kids did not deserve to be handcuffed in front of their peers, hauled away to juvenile detention without notifying the parents and ultimately headed down the classroom-to-prison pipeline."

This happened in Murfreesboro, TN, where the chief of police is Karl Durr.  That is really all I know about him.  Someone about whom I know even less of but we all probably should know more about is the judge who signed these warrants with which the officers apparently showed up.  He's the guy (or, I hope not, but possibly she's the gal) who precipitated this abomination.  I am going on record that this whole scenario can best be described as grudging, so, Megaera, I trust you will be on it.

Staying with the legal profession for the second item, there is a county circuit court judge in Mississippi, name of Jeff Weill, who has a habit of holding piblic defenders in contempt … for doing their job.  Well, mostly he threatens it rather than does it, but a little over a week ago, on Wednesday April 13 to be precise, he actually locked one up.  Of course leaving his client, a woman with a three month old baby, without representation.

In fact the public defender had to get a lawyer himself, to file an emergency appeal with the state supreme court, which, to their credit, granted it, or most of it.  To their discredit, they wanted $500 bond from the public defender while he appeals.

His supervisor, THE Hinds County Public Defender, Michele Purvis Harris, stated on Thirday, "The actions of Judge Weill on yesterday in effect criminalized the very job we are sworn to do."  Yup, that's about the size of it.  She added that every public defender who has served in Judge Weill's courtroom "has at some point been threatened with the contempt that has never occurred in any of the other courtrooms."  She herself was thrown out of his courtroom in December (the word she uses is "escorted out" but that sounds like being thrown out to me.)  The State Supreme Court sided with her also (he doesn't learn, does he?)  But, she adds, “We will not be intimidated. We will not be bullied.”  I believe the consistent repitition of this injustice qualifies it as unceasing, so, Alecto, off you go.

I will give the voter ID issues a rest this week, as well as the obligatory legislator arrested (this one in Georgia, open container, open carry, 4 children in vehicle, BAC 3x legal.  Do I need to say he is a "family values" Republican?  I didn't think so.)  I'll just move right along to the New York Tactical Officers Association (NYTOA) annual conference, this year to be held in Verona, New York the end of this month.  It's the kind of gathering that police go to to learn to be the bullies we all hate, instead of getting mental health and crisis diffusion training which we all want them to have.

And there are a lot of these gatherings, and the general public and journalists are excluded from them.  They keep a very low profile.  The only reason this one has attracted a little attention is that somehow word got out that Ryan Mauro will be honored as a key presenter.

And who is Ryan Mauro, when he's at home. you may ask?  Well, for starters, he is an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who has been personally designated an extremist by the SPLC.  And now I'll bet you can see vengeful destruction coming right up.

His day job is as a national security "analyst" for the anti-Muslim think tank Clarion Project.  Among other things, he things the DHS is full of Muslim Brotherhood types.  He has stated that "civilians really need to step up" and start reporting suspicious activity they see on Facebook.  Seriously.  He has promoted the discredited myth of Muslim no-go-zones and fear-mongered over Somali refugees living in the US.  Media Matters outed him in 2014 as "not (a) credible source … given (his virulent history of Islamophobia."

"There are reasons police violence fill our headlines and politicians ride waves of hate. One of those reasons is SWAT trainings and expos like NYTOA, where Islamophobia and major arms dealers take center stage," Ali Issa, national field organizer for the War Resisters’ League, told AlterNet. "Unnoticed, these trainings happen all the time, all over the country. Stopping this national phenomenon means empowering our communities to live without fear."

The executive director of the NYTOA, Larry Beresnoy, however, is a believer.  “Ryan Mauro is a national expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism,” he said. “His entire job is researching the issue. I’ve looked at Ryan’s stuff, looked at Clarion’s stuff. I’ve seen their videos Third Jihad and Obsession. There are many experts who believe that the information is accurate. He has good information to share.”

I won't even go into the details of the martial arts training and weapons manufacturers' booths which will be part of the fun.  I think it is already pretty clear that this is not just vengeful destruction, but organized, state-sponsored vengeful destruction.  Knock yourself out, Tisiphone.

The Furies and I will be back.

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Apr 082016
 

My new A/C is certainly powerful enough to cool my tiny place.  It’s also very loud, and the noise bothered me last night.  I’m sure I’ll get use to it, and after a night of three, I won’t even hear it.  I’m about to leave to go to PT with Courtney.  Later.  Back and pooped.  George needs an ankle adjustment.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:48 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The Guardian (H/T Daily Kos):A group of Polish women walk out of a church service to protest against a proposed tightening of the country’s abortion laws. The video, posted on Facebook, shows the women leaving as a priest reads out a letter in favour of the ban. In Warsaw, thousands of people have attended a pro-choice rally outside parliament, after the leader of the ruling party backed a call from Catholic bishops for a full ban on pregnancy terminations.

 

It looks like Poland has Republicans that hate women too!

From Daily Kos: In disappointing Tuesday news, the Wisconsin Supreme Court race went to Rebecca Bradley, a conservative. Bradley beat progressive candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg in the non-partisan election. Wisconsin residents are now stuck with Bradley for the next ten years.

It’s a sad end to an ugly race, and an ugly type of race at that. Judicial elections are rife with problems as a general matter—politics, bias, secret money, and low voter engagement, to name a few. But in Wisconsin the elections have been particularly grimy.

Bradley is so Republican, she makes Nancy Grace seem like a progressive. This is how she won.

From Media Matters: A Media Matters investigation of the discredited right-wing group Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), the main source of baseless smears against, and false characterizations of, Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, reveals a familial web of self-dealing between the organization, a major dark money funder of JCN called the Wellspring Committee, and a third nonprofit that also receives funding from Wellspring.

 

0408JCN_Graphic

Nepotism’R’Us, Nepotism (R-US), or just plain Koch sucking?

Cartoon:

0408Cartoon

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Mar 162016
 

President Barack Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to take the place of deceased and descended Antonin “Sturmbannführer” Scalia.  I’ll need more time to research, before I can offer an opinion oh his choice, but I can tell you this:  Garland would be an improvement over Scalia, because it would be virtually impossible to be as bad.  I can also tell you that he deserves a fair vote, whether I like him or not.  Needless to say Republicans are apoplectic.

0316obama-merrick

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, setting up a protracted political fight with Republicans who have vowed to block any candidate picked by Obama in his final year in office.

Garland, 63, is a longtime Washington lawyer and jurist who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Considered a moderate, Garland is widely respected in the D.C. legal community and was also a finalist for the first two Supreme Court vacancies Obama filled.

In announcing his choice in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said he followed “a rigorous and comprehensive process” and that he reached out to members of both parties, legal associations and advocacy groups to gauge opinions from “across the spectrum.”

He said Garland “is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence.” …

Inserted from <Washington Post>

Here’s a clip of the announcement.

Bought Bitch Mitch (R-KY) has reaffirmed that Garland will not get a vote.  Snake in the Grassley (R-IA) has reaffirmed that Garland will not get a Judiciary Committee hearing.  All of the sitting Republicans who previously voted for Garland, when he was confirmed to the DC Circuit now oppose giving him a vote.  Here are some of the statements Republicans made about Garland then, in 1992.

GOPSedition

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

“Merrick B. Garland is highly qualified to sit on the D.C. circuit. His intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned… His legal experience is equally impressive… Accordingly, I believe Mr. Garland is a fine nominee. I know him personally, I know of his integrity, I know of his legal ability, I know of his honesty, I know of his acumen, and he belongs on the court. I believe he is not only a fine nominee, but is as good as Republicans can expect from this administration. In fact, I would place him at the top of the list.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

“I have nothing against the nominee. Mr. Garland seems to be well qualified and would probably make a good judge — in some other court.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

“He has a high position with the Department of Justice and, by all accounts, does a good job there. There will be a number of judgeship vacancies in the D.C. trial judges. He has been a trial lawyer. He would be a good person to fill one of those. I would feel comfortable supporting him for another judgeship.”

Then-Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

“I believe Mr. Garland is well qualified for the court of appeals. He earned degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Justice Brennan on the Supreme Court and, since 1993, he has worked for the Department of Justice. So there is no question, he is qualified to serve on the court.”

Then-Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC)

“I have no reservations about Mr. Garland’s qualifications or character to serve in this capacity. He had an excellent academic record at both Harvard College and Harvard Law School before serving as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, he has served in distinguished positions in private law practice and with the Department of Justice. Moreover, I have no doubt that Mr. Garland is a man of character and integrity.”

Then-Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)

“[T]he nominee has the character and is highly qualified for the position.”

 

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Whether or not Garland is qualified has nothing to do with this seditious attempt by Republicans to block his nomination.  They are hoping they can find a way to steal the Presidency and make the appointment themselves.  Now, I have to admit that a Republican President’s appointment could not be much worse than Scalia, even an appointment by Trump or Cruz.  However consider this.  The next President will appoint the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I consider it highly unlikely that Garland will be confirmed.  Republicans may try to save face by going through some of the motions, but they will only be stalling for time.  Therefore, it is imperative that the next occupant of the White House be a Democrat.  I know that many of you aren't very keen on Hillary, but if she is nominated, it is imperative to work as hard for her as we would for Bernie.  Do you question that?

Do you want Trump to replace Ginsburg?

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