Mar 022015
 

It’s another super-busy day, because I have the Monthly Report to write, and I have an essay to write on why prisoners’ memories of crimes committed years before, don’t always line up with police reports and victim statements.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:59 (average 4:51).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Lynn’s New Mouse:

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Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Yesterday Georgia became the first southern state to ban the box.

This policy, signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal through an executive order, postpones questions about a job applicant’s criminal history until it is demonstrated that he or she is one of the most qualified candidates. The policy also requires that the applicant have the opportunity to explain his or her criminal history before denial, and that only a relevant conviction will be used as the basis for disqualification.    – See more at: http://www.gjp.org/…

Kudos to the people of Georgia. Frankly, I’m surprised that Raw Deal didn’t veto it. In Oregon, only Multnomah County (one if the three that make up the Portland Metro Area) and the City of Portland have banned the box.

From NY Times: The Justice Department has nearly completed a highly critical report accusing the police in Ferguson, Mo., of making discriminatory traffic stops of African-Americans that created years of racial animosity leading up to an officer’s shooting of a black teenager last summer, law enforcement officials said.

According to several officials who have been briefed on the report’s conclusions, the report criticizes the city for disproportionately ticketing and arresting African-Americans and relying on the fines to balance the city’s budget. The report, which is expected to be released as early as this week, will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department or face being sued by it on civil rights charges.

Oh My! The Ferguson PD is racist?!!? Are you as surprised as I am?

From Washington Post: …ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.

If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat?

If the tilt toward giant corporations wasn’t clear enough, consider who would get to use this special court: only international investors, which are, by and large, big corporations. So if a Vietnamese company with U.S. operations wanted to challenge an increase in the U.S. minimum wage, it could use ISDS. But if an American labor union believed Vietnam was allowing Vietnamese companies to pay slave wages in violation of trade commitments, the union would have to make its case in the Vietnamese courts…

This just a snippet from an article by Elizabeth Warren, explaining a huge reason to oppose the TPP. I urge you to click through to read it all.

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Jan 022015
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 58.  I spent most of the day collecting the data for our Monthly Report, which I planned to write.  Then I remembered that today The Oregon Ducks were playing the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS semifinals, and I decided to take the rest of the day off.  Therefore, this is tomorrow’s only article, but I’m pleased to announce that the Ducks, who so many experts said are not strong enough to compete with a physical team like the Seminoles, clobbered them 59 – 20. :-)

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:49 (average 5:09).  To do it, click here.  Hoe did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: Nearly 20 months after Maryland abolished capital punishment, Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday that he would empty the state’s death row by commuting the sentences of four inmates who were awaiting execution.

What I thought was the sound of the wind, here in Oregon, was the howling of Maryland Republicans mourning their inability to murder the last four.

From Huffington Post: At least six people have been jailed in Texas over the past two years for owing money on payday loans, according to a damning new analysis of public court records.

The economic advocacy group Texas Appleseed found that more than 1,500 debtors have been hit with criminal charges in the state — even though Texas enacted a law in 2012 explicitly prohibiting lenders from using criminal charges to collect debts.

According to Appleseed’s review, 1,576 criminal complaints were issued against debtors in eight Texas counties between 2012 and 2014. These complaints were often filed by courts with minimal review and based solely on the payday lender’s word and frequently flimsy evidence.

Leave it to Texas Republicans to assist 1% predators to illegally deprive victims of freedom.

From Slate: The Supreme Court adds more sectarian religion to our lives.

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court’s five conservatives ruled that legislative sessions in town council meetings can open with explicitly sectarian prayers. Almost immediately, town boards began inviting Christians to speak at their meetings while excluding speakers of minority faiths (and, naturally, atheists). In short order the Galloway majority’s gauzy vision of pluralistic civic tolerance began to look a lot more like a governmental endorsement of Christianity at the expense of minority religions. Increasingly, to the conservatives of the Roberts court, “religious liberty” means the freedom of religious majorities to push their religious beliefs on the rest of us.

This is just what Slate considers the least horrid of the ten worst Republican civil liberties violations of 2014. Click through for the other nine.

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Dec 082014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 33.  I spent most of the day in bed.  I still feel feverish and congested.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 5:03 (average 5:07).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Ecstasy:

1207-Bronco24-Bills17

A bad day for Peyton.  His touchdowns in consecutive games streak ran out at 151.

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Here we go again with a bill protecting the religiously persecuted from evil LGBT citizens hoping to pay for services and participate in the U.S. economy. Michigan’s GOP House Speaker Jase Bolger pushed through a "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which is now headed to the state Senate for consideration.

It’s a similar bill to the one we saw in Arizona earlier this year. Michigan Republicans apparently felt a real sense of urgency after they quashed an effort the day before to help LGBT individuals hold down jobs and be productive members of society.

No matter how caring and moderate Republicans try to sound for the mainstream, focus on what they keep doing.

From NY Times: The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

“Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature. “The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both E.P.A. and the White House.”

Mr. Whitsitt then added, “Please pass along Devon’s thanks to Attorney General Pruitt.”

Click through for more examples about how Republican State Attorneys General are conspiring with polluters against the interest of the people they are supposed to represent.

From The New Yorker: Two days after the release of an unusually strong jobs report, prominent Republicans appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows to question President Obama’s “suspicious motives” for repairing the economy.

“When there have been so many months of job growth, it does make you wonder what he’s up to,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “You add in the rising stock market and falling gas prices, and the whole thing doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Appearing on Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the President of “cynically fixing the economy to distract the American people.”

“This country faces serious problems, and I don’t think they can be swept under the rug by creating prosperity,” he said.

But the sternest rebuke came from House Speaker John Boehner, who warned, “If President Obama doesn’t stop fixing the economy, Congress has ways to make him stop.”

Andy may be on to something. It’s a Kenyan, socialist conspiracy.

Cartoon:

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They’re making a list.  They’re checking it Twice.  We’d be better off, if we could trade them for lice.

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Oct 042014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 166.  I’m pretty tired, because I had to be up early for an O2 delivery.  After it came, I took an hour break and sat outside in the sun.  Before long the webbing between my toes will grow back for the Oregon winter, and I’ll forget what the sun is.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:55 (average 4:58).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: …Dear white racists and your fragile fee-fees:

Relax, I’m white, too. Look, I can do the secret handshake and nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Lemme whitesplain something to you, fellow white men: no one buys your bullshit.

That’s because your bullshit runs like this: For historically- and presently-oppressed black people to be treated decently, they must carefully avoid doing anything that could be remotely twisted into behaving like a white racist, even if you’re squinting and looking at it from five hundred meters away in a thick fog. Because that would be racist, and therefore hypocritical, and if that’s the case, they deserve to continue to be oppressed.

Here’s the thing you thick-headed assholes totally fail to get: NO ONE DESERVES TO BE OPPRESSED, PERIOD. You can talk all you want about how it’s okay for black people to be mistreated if— but get this, there is no "if". It’s not okay, ever. That’s why we call it mistreatment. Your error is to think that it’s ever justified, and your active misdeed is to constantly search for a justification. Black people, collectively, are not guilty of anything. In fact, a basic principle of civil society is that we reject the notion of collective guilt.

Some individual black people, like individual white people, have done bad things, and in those cases, may deserve judicial punishments. But even those people don’t deserve mistreatment from some random white guy on the street. And black people in general don’t owe anyone anything as a prerequisite for being treated decently. No one does…

Click Through for the rest of this excellent piece, which should begin, "Dear Republicans."

From NY Times: The Supreme Court on Thursday added 11 cases to its docket, including ones on redistricting, judicial elections and discrimination in housing and employment.

The court, which will return to the bench on Monday, took no action on seven petitions urging it to hear cases on same-sex marriage. The cases it did agree to hear will be argued this winter and are likely to be decided by the end of June.

The court will continue to add cases in coming weeks and remains likely to accept one or more same-sex marriage cases.

Click through for more info on the cases that SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) have decided to here. They will have ample opportunities to further undermine the Constitution, democracy and human rights.

From Bill Moyers: We’re still posting a new chart on the current state of income inequality every day over the next week. Yesterday’s looked at how the top 1 percent of Americans have captured half of all income.

Today, let’s talk taxes. In the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about overtaxed “job creators” and freeloading “takers.” But consider this: As the income rates for the wealthiest have plunged, their incomes have shot up.

1004happy-returns

You can’t argue with those numbers. We need all three branches of government to BEGIN to undo the damage, and 2016 has all the earmarks of being a banner year. But first, we need to survive 2014. Get out the VOTE!!

Cartoon:

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I was nine at the time, but I knew to be afraid from the way my family and neighbors reacted to the news.

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Sep 242014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 156.  It’s another busy day, because I’m packing for tomorrow’s trip to Salem for prison volunteer work.  I’ll be leaving shortly before noon and returning early Friday afternoon.  I expect to post at least a brief Personal Update each day, while I’m gone.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:03 (average 4:44).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here’s the latest from our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

Scores:

3Scores

Standings:

3Standings

I’m in trouble.  I play the other undefeated team on Peyton’s bye week. :-(

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: A homeless man named Sandy and some vloggers on YouTube decided they wanted to explore the idea of transforming a "homeless man" into a suit-sporting "businessman." Same man, different duds, and a completely different way of how people treated him. It’s a true lesson in "clothes do make the man."

 

It tells us a lot about our cultural attitude, doesn’t it?

From Daily Kos: Connie Wilson, who just moved from California to the Houston area with her wife Aimee and their three children, received a hell of a welcome from the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The couple has been together nine years, and they finally tied the knot last year in California, after which Connie took Aimee’s last name. Connie was able to get all of her records updated with her new name, from her California driver license to her Social Security card to all of her financial and medical records. And then, upon moving to the Houston area, she visited the DPS office in Katy to obtain a Texas driver license. No big deal–when I moved to Texas, aside from waiting in a horrendous line at DPS, getting my driver license was painless. But I also didn’t have my name changed to that of my same-sex spouse. Wilson’s experience with DPS in Texas, where gays are barred from marriage by both statute and constitutional amendment (just to be safe, you know), has been quite different:

With her California driver’s license nearing expiration, Wilson took her documents to a DPS office in Katy last week to obtain a Texas driver’s license. When a DPS employee noticed that Wilson’s name didn’t match her birth certificate, she produced the couple’s California marriage license identifying her spouse as Aimee Wilson.

“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?’” Connie Wilson recalled. “I remember hesitating for probably 10 seconds. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew I was in trouble because I wasn’t going to be able to get a license.”

[…]

“She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’” Wilson said. “She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.

This is why we need a Federal law that requires states to recognize marriages from other states without prejudice. And, if this treads too heavily on Bubba Bagger’s states’ rahts, let states do as they please, but make it a requirement for them to get federal highway funds.

From AlterNet: While most would argue that this is place where the people get  screwed many different ways [Faux Noise delinked], in  Washington, D.C., engaging in any sexual position other than missionary is illegal.

Dang!  No wonder Congressional Republicans always want to get out of town.  DC hookers must be more boring that the ones from home.  This is just one of the ten craziest sex laws in the US.  Click through for the other nine.

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Aug 192014
 

I ran across the problem of private probation companies on Upworthy, and decided to research it further, because of my prison volunteer work.  The video there led to a second video, but they did not list all the locations where this perverse injustice takes place, and that led to ever more digging.

0819debtors_prisonEvery year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

“Many of the people supervised by these companies wouldn’t be on probation to begin with if they had more money,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, senior researcher on business and human rights at Human Rights Watch. “Often, the poorer people are, the more they ultimately pay in company fees and the more likely it is that they will wind up behind bars.”

Companies refuse to disclose how much money they collect in fees from offenders under their supervision. Remarkably, the courts that hire them generally do not demand this information either. Human Rights Watch estimates that, in Georgia alone, the industry collects a minimum of US$40 million in fees every year from probationers. In other states, disclosure requirements are so minimal that is not possible even to hazard a guess how much probation companies are harvesting from probationers in fees…

Inserted from <Human Rights Watch>

Here is the HRW video.

And here are the two videos from Brave New Films. (petition there)

 

 

Most of the states were the ones I expected, but there were a couple surprises. They are Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Missouri, Michigan, Montana and Idaho.  I strongly suspect that in the Blue State and two purple states, it is red counties that use the services.  Perhaps we can get some feedback from residents.  Wherever they are, the companies miszt be outlawed.

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May 252014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow.  It’s safe to drink Portland water again, without treating it with alcohol. ;-)  I’m surprised that I functioned at all yesterday, as tired as I was.  Today, I still am a bit foggy.  It can be difficult to find interesting material on a holiday weekend.  Day 33.

Late (early) update:

I overslept again.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:55 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: In April, the Mustang, Oklahoma school board announced they had voted to to implement a Bible course developed by the president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green.

Daily Kos user ProgLegs shared the news report:

Mustang will be the only public school district in the state to pilot the program.  Green hopes the course, which teaches about the "narrative, history, and impact" of the Bible, will be in "hundreds" of schools in 2015 and thousands the year after.

Now new information has come to light that Hobby Lobby president Steve Green met privately with school board members, which appears to be a clear violation of the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act:

Authentic Christians respect the law. If their conscience demands they break it, they do so openly, standing ready to suffer the consequences for their protest, just as Jesus did. Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians consider themselves above the law they demand everyone else follows, while they violate it themselves in secret.

From NY Times: A man who had shot to death his four young children, for reasons known only to him, sat in the wooden chair reserved for him at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. His body was strapped tight and his head was freshly shaved, to enhance the conductivity.

I could see him, but he could not see me. We sat perhaps 30 feet apart, on opposite sides of a one-way glass partition that separated those who would walk away that September night in 2007 from one man who would not.

The electric chair had not been used in Tennessee since 1960, a reflection of a nation’s discomfort with a procedure that had come to be seen as gruesome, if not cruel. But the condemned man, Daryl Holton, 45, had been given a choice between lethal injection and electrocution. To the dismay of prison officials, he had chosen the latter — again, for reasons known only to him.

Perhaps he preferred the quicker torture of feeling his eyeballs fry and pop out to the longer term torture of feeling like his body is on fire for several minutes. What does this say about those who debate how we torture people to death instead of joining the civilized world community that has evolved beyond such barbarity?

From TPM: Earlier this week Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) 2012 comments surfaced. "I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote," he told a cheering audience.

Alexander Keyssar, Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard University and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network, weighed in on the multitude of reasons why Yoho (pictured, right) is just plain wrong:

Congressman Ted Yoho’s interest in re-imposing property requirements to vote is yet another sign of his party’s interest in rolling back two centuries of progress in American political life. Property requirements were, indeed, the norm for the first several decades of our history (as were gender and racial restrictions), but they were overturned almost everywhere by the middle of the nineteenth century.

Today’s Republican Party would like nothing better than kick both civil rights and voting rights back into the 1800s.

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How long must we wait before more Republican 1% criminals are convicted?

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