Jul 302016
 
furies

I have two items today which seem to 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."

I was afraid I wouldn't have a primary link for this section, because I worked from an email.  But, bless them, Roots Action has links to many months of emails on their site, so I do.  The subject line of this email was "Irony-free zone: Congress 'appreciates' whistleblowers."

It seems the U. S. Senate has approved a resolution to designate July 30, 2016, as "Whistleblower Appreciation Day."  July 30 – hey, wait!  That's today!  Well, come on, let's appreciate us some whistleblowers!

Unfortunately, Jeffrey Sterling is not available; he is still in a Federal Prison.  But Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou are out now, so let's appreciate them.  Did you know John was the only CIA agent to go to prison over the CIA's torture program?  Fact.  Because he didn't take part in it.  He blew the whistle on it.  Two years in prison.  I don't know as much about Tom's story, except that his revelations were about mass surveillance; I just know his personal finances also were wrecked through vindictive prosecutions.  Now here are some quotes from John and some from Tom:

Senator Chuck Grassley said … "These brave citizens should not be penalized, they should be praised."  Somebody should tell the Justice Department.  Legitimate whistleblowers are charged under the Espionage Act, a draconian law meant to punish traitors and spies, not truth tellers…. The goal is not just to punish. It’s to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.  Still we went into this with our eyes open. It might sound crazy, but we would blow the whistle again. We don't need the Senate's "appreciation." What we need is for the Justice Department to respect the laws already on the books, to support whistleblowers exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality.  Over to you, Tom.

Congress has yet to invite John or myself in front of Congress to testify before any committee regarding our whistleblowing on torture and mass surveillance, respectively. We both came forward at great risk and to this day are the only two people* who have paid a very high price for exposing government wrongdoing and criminal conduct regarding these two state-sponsored programs….  We upheld our oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic (including our own government), faithfully serving our country in the line of duty at the CIA and the NSA — even when our agencies didn’t and wouldn’t.

(*He must have said this before Jeffrey went to prison, because they both took part in a demonstration with Jeffrey's wife Holly to ask for Jeffrey's pardon.)

Here's a link to the group which pushes for this appreciation day – on a year-by-year basis, knowing, I am sure, what an irony it is, but hoping to eventually come to a time and place where it can mean something.  Maybe you ladies can put on your Eumenides hats and try to attain some justice for John, Tom, Jeffrey, and all the others.

But here is a situation where you can simply go after some killers.  You may (or may not) have been reading about deaths in hospitals resulting from the use of tainted medical scopes (specifically endoscopes).  Well.  Those scopes all came from a device manufacturer called Olympus Corp., based in Japan.

In 2012, two dozen infections linked to the use of these scopes were reported in hospitals in France and The Netherlands.  As early as June 2012, an investigator hired by a Netherlands hospital and Olympus concluded that the scope's design could allow blood and tissue to become trapped in it and spread bacteria across patients.  The recommendation was to conduct a world wide investigation and if a similar problem turned up to recall all the scopes.  Seven months later, when the company alerted its European customers to potential problems, they knew about at least three outbreaks, affecting an estimated 46 patients.  The third one was in Pittsburgh, PA.  But the company issued no alerts in the United States.

Since the internet never forgets, we know that this email exchange occurred:

Should [we] also be communicating to our users the information that [Olympus Europe] is communicating to their European users?” Laura Storms, vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs in Center Valley, Pa., asked in an email to Tokyo headquarters on Jan. 31, 2013.

No, that’s not necessary, said Susumu Nishina, the company’s chief manager for market quality administration in Tokyo in a Feb. 6, 2013, reply.

It is “not need[ed] to communicate to all the users actively,” Nishina wrote, because a company assessment of the risk to patients found it to be “acceptable.”  However, he added that Storms should respond to questions from a customer.

I'm not sure what "risk is acceptable" to Nishina.  Patients and familes in the US would appear not to find the risk acceptable, judging from the crop of lawsuits which have spring up.  As well as the Federal prosecutors who are investigating.  Over the three years – 2013 to 2016 – there have been outbreaks of infection in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Denver, just to name a few.  35 people have died from these infections.  Others have remained hospitlized for up to a year trying to get over them. 

The Times has a link to all the emails.  Sorry, I haven't read them all.  Just from what is in the article, it appears to me that Storms tried (maybe not for the right reasons, but she tried), but that Nishina is a murderer.  Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, you are good at sorting these things out, and I am sure you will manage.  Way back in the day, I mentioned Fudō Myōō, who is described as an ancient Japanese sword-brandishing angry wisdom king.  Perhaps he would be upset with these actions too.  There are also creatures, such as tengu (wise bird-like demons – you may have heard of them in D&D or Guild Wars, but they are originally from very, very, very old Japan), he could send as reinforcements.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4001959

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Jul 232016
 
furies

I have three items today which seems to 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."

We start in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police on July 5.  "Wait a minute, Erynator," I can hear you thinking, "this is old news."  Well, yes, it is, but there keep being new twists to it.  There was the killing itself.  There was the unconscionable way police dealt with peaceful protestors, which I wrote about last week – forcing them off of private property where they were invited guests, in order to arrest them for being in the streets.  And now, there is the story of two men, one who made a video of the killing, and a second who saw a different video of the same killing, and publicized it.

The store in front of which Alton Sterling was shot and killed (for selling CD's?), the Triple S Food Mart, is owned by Ahmed Muflahi.  Born in Yemen, he is now a resident of Baton Rouge.  He knew Alton Sterling when he was alive, and considered him a good friend.  So, for him, this story began when he had to watch his friend die.  But that was just the beginning.

Naturally the Triple S had surveillance cameras with video, but in addition to that, Muflahi filmed the killing on his cell phone, creating a video which clearly shows that the officers involved in the incident were not truthy.

Muflahi has now filed a lawsuit, which may end up providing some compensation for him, but, even were such compensation to be adequate, will not, experience suggests, do anything to improve the behavior of police.  According to the lawsuit:

Immediately after the killing of Mr. Sterling officers came inside Triple S Food Mart and without a warrant confiscated the entire store security system and took Plaintiff Muflahi into custody…. [police] then illegally placed Mr. Muflahi into custody, confiscated his cell phone and illegally locked him in the back of a police vehicle and detained him there for approximately four hours…. [After a warrant was finally issued, it] only authorized a search of the video surveillance at the scene for evidence and did not authorize a search of the building or the physical removal of the equipment both of which had already transpired when the warrant was issued.” (emphasis mine)

But this apparently was not sufficient.  Instead, they apparently felt it necessary to reach out all the way to Georgia, where Chris LeDay, originally from Baton Rouge but now an aerospace ground technician at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA.  That's his day job.  He is also a music producer, a fact which has led to his having a lot of followers – thousands, in fact – on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  When he received the first video to be released, from contacts in his old home town, he saw an opportunity to get some justice for the sterling family, and he published the video on all three forums.

Twenty-four hour later, he was arrested as he arrived at his day job.  He was just able to post on Facebook, “I just made it to my job on base and I'm being detained. They said I fit the description of someone and won't tell me anything else. If anything happens I did not resist! Please be aware!”  Arrested by MPs, he was handcuffed, shackled, and jailed – he was originally told on assault charges, but later advised it was for unpaid parking tickets.  Before being released the next day, he had to pay $1,231.  As of July 15, he was still not allowed back on base, so he was (and may still be) losing wages.

The extended story from this killing seems like it will never end.  Alecto – please go after the guilty, and then put on your Eumenides hat to justify the innocent heroes.

Now on to Oklahoma City, where a young man got to celebrate his fifth birthday by watching police kill his dog.

Dog0723Even a local Fox TV channel could not stomach this.

The officer who shot the dog [whom the Wynnewood Police Department will not identify] had come to the Malone home to serve a warrant to a person who lived there 10 years ago. The warrant, he said, gave him the right to enter private property and take whatever action he deemed appropriate under the circumstances. The Malone family says they never saw any warrant.

Chief Moore said that the police department was aware that the Malone family had been in the house for a year and that the officer had been advised that the address was a rental property through which people had “moved in and out” over the years.

“I respect what the police do, but this was senseless, but he didn’t show any remorse and didn’t even act like he was sorry or anything,” Vickie Malone said to Fox 25.

Eli Malone told reporters that he misses his dog. The 5-year-old said that he wishes someone from the Wynnewood Police would at least apologize for killing his friend.

The family have marked Opie’s grave with a small wooden cross

Eli understands that Opie is gone forever.  But Megaera – perhaps you could get them to stop being so grudging as to deny even an apology.

Finally, we come to Houston, TX, where the story is so horrendous I don't know how to speak about it, so I will simply quote Leslie Salzillo's (from the Daily Kos) first paragraph, and recommend you click through for more details and for analysis, both that provided by Leslie and that in the comments:

A Houston woman in her 20’s who is called “Jenny” was raped and choked by a convicted serial rapist Keith Hendricks. While testifying against him in court, she had a breakdown, became incoherent, and ran out of the courtroom saying she’d never return. The prosecutor in the case had her arrested and put in jail for threatening not to show up to testify. Her mother and her attorney thought “Jenny,” who suffers from bipolar disorder, was put into a psychiatric hospital, when if fact, she was only hospitalized for a few days then then transferred to the Harris County Jail and put into the general population. The jail staff received erroneous reports that said Jenny was the sexual abuser rather than the abused victim. While incarcerated she was beaten.

Tisiphone – there just was no need for this – it was pure vengeful destruction.  Please school the DA.  (If you feel that waiting until November would help her opponent win the election, please feel free to wait.)

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4000478

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Jul 022016
 
furies

I have a situation today 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'm sure that no one is unaware that a little over a week ago (on June 23, to be precise) the Supreme Court, being deadlocked on the case of United States v Texas, allowed a ruling of a lower court to stand, in effect overturning executive orders of President Obama to expand DACA and DAPA.  That alphabet soup stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (and Lawful Permanent Residents).  Both of those programs, and all of President Obama's executive actions to expand tham, have been aimed at keeping families together.  It's hardly worth even mentioning that the objections to these measures have come from the party of so-called "family values."  That is now a given.

The case did not involve, so the split decision doesn't affect, the original DACA of 2012.  Anyone eligible for that should continue to apply, including for renewal.  But expanded DACA, and all of DAPA, is gone for now.

Let me put a face on this.  Josefina Mora is an American citizen, old enough to vote for the first time.  Here mother, Maru Mora Villalpando, is not.  She is just a parent of an American citizen.  Democracy Now spoke with both:

VILLALPANDO: Thank you. Well, it keeps me the same as I’ve been in these past 20 years: trying to avoid police, ensuring that my daughter knows everywhere I go, creating a network that will support me in case I get detained and placed in deportation proceedings….

MORA: I’m 18. I just turned 18, so I’ll be 19 this year. I participated in that rally [a Trump rally in Washington State at which she was arrested] because I wanted my community to know that we will not allow bigotry to be in our community, because more—it’s bigger than the Trump campaign, really. It’s just representing a country that’s founded on hate, on racism, on the taking of native peoples’ land.

If none of this, nor any similar stories, moves you in the slightest; if you think anyone who "breaks a law" – any law – needs to be locked up and the key thrown away, please just take a second to consider how many and who would be locked up, or have been locked up, if that were put into practice.  Jesus.  All of the barons who got King John to sign the Magna Carta.  Ummm – all of our founding fathers.  Thoreau.  Gandhi.  Most if not all of the civil rights activists in the sixties and seventies.  And, of course great numbers of people who have escaped being locked up because of their wealth and prestige.  George W. Bush.  Dick Cheney  Donald Rumsfeld.  All those Nixon aides who invented the War on Drugs as a ploy to lock up decent people.  And, of course, Donald J. Trump.  Is that going to happen?  Should we not be consistent?

But beyond fairness, there is an additional factor that I suspect few are aware of.  All those immigration prisons?  The ones not under the supervision of DOJ or the Bureau of Prisons, but of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)?  The agency subject to a 2009 congressional mandate to keep no fewer than 34,000 people locked up at all times?  Oh, you didn't know that?  Well, a new report is out prepared jointly by the Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights on this.  It expands on their 2015 report with additional information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

After noting that the "detention bed quota," as it is known, is "unethical and financially wasteful, costing American taxpayers over $2 billion a year and separating hundreds of thousands of families," it goes on to state (emphasis mine):

In addition to the national quota, the immense size of the U.S.’s immigration detention system isbolstered by a series of local-level quotas, written into detention facility contracts as “guaranteed minimums.” Guaranteed minimums, which appear mostly in ICE contracts with private contractors (though some exist with local governments), guarantee that ICE will pay for a minimum number of people to be detained at any given time. Because the government seeks to avoid paying for detention space that isn’t being used, guaranteed minimums are essentially local “lockup” quotas that influence ICE’s decision-making about immigration enforcement, whether or not people will be released, where people will be detained, and ultimately, who will profit or benefit from their detention.

Yes, you read that right.  "Private contractors."  Privately owned for-profit prisons.  Mostly the two biggest, CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and The Geo Group.

Obviously there is a lot wrong with this.  There is far more detail in the report than I will even try to explicate here.  Yet, as Sarah Lazare says in her article in AlterNEt, "one thing is clear: profits are soaring for GEO Group and CCA, the two largest private prison companies in the United States. Both boasted to their shareholders recently that revenues are spiking, thanks in part to the windfall from locking up families."

Karnes County Residential Center, in Karnes, TX, is owned by the GEO Group, and is cited as among the worst.  "Karnes, in particular, has been the site of repeated hunger strikes over inhumane conditions, including nearly free labor, lack of legal representation and contaminated drinking water. In 2014, some women detained at the prison alleged that guards sexually assaulted them."  You can Google "Karnes County Residential Center" and you will get quite an eyeful, just on the search results page.

Dear Erinyes, I hardly even know where to start.  Congress is reponsible for the quota system, and, though the current Congress is not the same Congress that did it, and hopefully the next one will be even more different, it is up to Congress to change it – no one else can.  It was a particularly grudging measure, right, Megaera?  And then there's the GEO group, profiting from the suffering of others, taking grudging all the way the vengeful destruction, Tisiphone, I would say (not to let any other actors off the hook, however.)  And Alecto, this just has to cease.  Onward.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3996231

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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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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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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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