Aug 282016
 

I'll keep this short and sweet — it has been dreadfully hot here in Metro Vancouver getting up to 36 C (97 F) in my area of town.  It wasn't as hot in the areas near the ocean which are the temperatures one normally hears on the news.  We had some lower temperatures today and Sunday is supposed to be about 19 C (66 F) with some rain.  Oh how nice for some rain!  I really don't know how people in Texas, Arizona and Florida, just to name three, can handle the heat.  I had difficulty with the heat when I lived in Ontario many years ago, and recently it has been as high as 40 C (104 F) perhaps hotter.  I hope everyone is finding ways to stay as cool as possible.

Short Takes

CBC — Syrian opposition activists have released haunting footage showing a young boy rescued from the rubble in the aftermath of a devastating airstrike in Aleppo.  …

The strike occurred during the sunset call to prayer, around 7:20 p.m local time, said Raslan, a correspondent for Al Jazeera Mubashir.

Five-year-old Omran Daqnee was pulled, bloodied and dazed, from the rubble of a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, following an airstrike Wednesday night.

Omran was rescued along with his three siblings, ages one, six, and 11, and his mother and father from the rubble of their partially destroyed apartment building, according to Raslan. None sustained major injuries, but the building collapsed shortly after the family was rescued.  …

Doctors in Aleppo use code names for hospitals, which they say have been systematically targeted by government airstrikes. Abu al-Ezz said they do that "because we are afraid security forces will infiltrate their medical network and target ambulances as they transfer patients from one hospital to another."  …

Syria Russia

A Russian aircraft drops bombs on Aleppo on Aug. 16. Activists were warned ahead of the airstrike on the M10 hospital that a warplane was en route from the Russian air base at Hmeimim. (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/Associated Press)

And THIS is the same dictator that Drumpf would cozy up to?!  I know this is 10 days old, but I think it bears remembering and restating that Drumpf has some kind of 'bromance' going with Putin (R-RU), not to mention possible financial ties to the Russian oligarchs.  If he were POTUS, how would that influence his positions?  He must never be allowed to get into that position.  This appears to be a conflict of interest, a clear and present danger to the national security of the US.

Alternet — To American progressives, this retirement story should sound familiar. After decades of pension cutbacks and declining unionization, many retiring seniors depend increasingly on underfunded government-run programs. Amid rising inequality, some wealthy seniors can afford to retire, while others must keep working lest they lose their toehold in the middle class. The notion that seniors are entitled to a comfortable retirement is fading, and fast.

But this retirement security saga is unfolding not in the United States, but in Canada. The difference is that Canada, which confronts virtually all the same problems that plague the U.S., has decided to act.

On June 20, Canada’s federal and provincial governments agreed to expand what’s known as the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), a program analogous to American Social Security and one of three in Canada that supports retirees. The agreement, which officials expect to finalize by the end of the summer, could add thousands of dollars to the yearly retirement incomes of Canadian workers.  …

Expanding CPP is just one of three steps that Canada’s recently-elected Liberal Party has taken to protect current and future retirees. Led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the government also approved a 10 percent increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement that the government provides to single, low-income seniors. Trudeau also dropped the previous administration’s plans to raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 for both the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the country’s third senior citizen pension program, known as Old Age Security.

To American liberals, Canada’s retirement-care progressivism is a frustrating reminder that in the U.S., public debate on Social Security has until recently centered not on how it can be expanded, but how it can be trimmed. 

Even  in Canada there are some issues with the expansion.  Québec and Manitoba did not agree in principle back in June 2016.  BC, which approved in principle, did not ratify the agreement by the 15/07/2016 deadline, instead opting for a series of public consultations.  It should be noted that while the BC government is "Liberal", it is a misnomer in my view as it is right of centre and it bears no association with Justin Trudeau's federal Liberal Party.  For the expansion to go through, 7 provinces representing 2/3's of the Canadian population must agree.  See First Reference Talks for a short description of the expansion.  So if Canada is having a few hiccups, the US with its general mindset and its Republican dominated Congress will have great difficulty — don't hold your breath.  Republicans are so bent about social security, continuing to say that it contributes to the deficit.  But it doesn't because it is made up of personal contributions.  Of course, social security expansion is one of Bernie's talking points.  Let's hope that Democrats take the WH and the Congress.  Then there is a possibility of an expansion, but not before.

Newsweek — Today there are more than 2,000 fighters from Russia on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq fighting on behalf of the Islamic State.

A large number of these fighters are Muslims originating from the Northern Caucasus, a fact that feeds a narrative back in Russia that has been growing since the 1990s.

Many Russians now link the Muslim populations of the North Caucasus with extremism and terrorism. That perception is not entirely without basis: the North Caucasus region has been rent by war, terror and brutal state crackdowns for over two decades.

Muslims attend morning prayer to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Moscow on July 5. Denis Sokolov writes that often, if a known Islamic activist is out of Russia, law enforcement will orchestrate a surprise search at the person's home where a hand grenade or ammunition is planted. The message is simple: "Do not come back or we will put you behind bars."

© Maxim Zmeyev/reuters Muslims attend morning prayer to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Moscow on July 5. Denis Sokolov writes that often, if a known Islamic activist is out of Russia, law enforcement will orchestrate a surprise search at the person's home where a hand grenade or ammunition is planted. The message is simple: "Do not come back or we will put you behind bars."         

But the story of the territory is as much about rapid social change as it is about conflict. Russian state policies over the past two decades have done much to build today’s pipeline of radicalized extremists originating from the North Caucasus to spread across Russia and beyond to the battle zones of the Middle East.

Now, who is copying who — Putin copying Drumpf, or Drumpf Putin?  This is a long but interesting piece.  Russia is supporting the Assad government of Syria, with some support from Turkey and Iran.  The US is standing with the rebels.  From Wikipedia"A special investigation by Reuters claimed that in the lead-up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russian security services had allowed and encouraged militants to leave Russia to fight in the Syrian Civil War, in order to reduce the risk of domestic attacks."  These North  Caucasus fighters are Sunni which is inline with ISIL.  By bombing ISIL, Russia increases the chances of killing some North Caucasus extremists that played havoc at home.  It is very clear that Russia is trying to quel its Muslim population with the added "benefit" of fighting a proxy war with the US.  And there is no doubt in my mind that Drumpf sees the same extremism that exists in Russia being possible in the US.

MSN — If you’ve spent any time in downtown D.C., you’ve likely seen 80-year-old Wanda Witter.

Shock white hair, a determined, unsmiling set to her mouth, jeans. She may have asked you for some change and probably didn’t smile if you gave her some. This month you may have also been taken aback by the black eye and stitches across her face.

Social worker Julie Turner watches as homeless woman Wanda Witter chooses a pillow for her new apartment on Capitol Hill.

For years, Witter bedded down for the night at 13th and G streets in Northwest Washington, on the cement in her blue sleeping bag, pulled up tight to keep the rats and cockroaches out. Her tower of three suitcases was stacked on her hand cart and bike-locked to the patio chairs next to her.

She may have even told you that inside those bags is all the paperwork to prove the government owes her more than $100,000. And she was right.

Nobody should have to endure such bureautic incompetence that puts their life at risk!  Wanda Witter is one very strong, determined and smart woman . . . the kind of woman that I would like to talk to and know, smile or not.

The Weather Network — Warm temperatures in Wisconsin's upper atmosphere recently created a stagnant air mass that trapped hot air and toxic manure fumes over a farm, leaving a 29-year-old farmer and 13 of his cows dead.

The incident occurred at Biadasz Farm near Amherst.

Michael Biadasz was found dead Monday by workers who had arrived to remove manure from a tank on the property.

Coroner Scott Rifleman told the Associated Press he was "overcome" by methane or sulfur oxide present in the manure.

One has to wonder how the Congress manages to survive with all the toxic Republican BS and the heated rhetoric.

My Universe All hail Olly, Lord of Sainsbury's and guardian of the produce, bakery, meat and seafood departments!

The grim-faced tabby, a regular at the supermarket in the district of Brockley, London, has reportedly been showing up on store shelves since November. Despite efforts to keep the feline out of the store, he nearly always finds a new way to saunter right back in.

London animal of the week: The badass cat in Brockley Sainsbury's

One thing is for sure, Sainsbury's won't have a rodent problem . . . if it ever did!  Check for more pictures at the link.

 

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Politics
Aug 202016
 
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."

First stop Raleigh, North Carolina, where a family in the Neuse Crossing neighborhood was having a y'all come party, and a neighbor (and probable Trump voter) named Chad Copley was having hallucinations.  If our nation had appropriate understanding of mental health issues like hallucinations, and adequate ways to treat said hallucinator without continuing to endanger the neighborhood, I might not be telling this story to the Furies.  But, with things as they are, I see no alternative.

So let's talk about Copley's hallucinations.  To begin with, he hallucinated that there was a Neighborhood Watch program in his neighborhood, and that he was in it, and on duty,

…residents and a manager of the Neuse Crossing Homeowners Association say the neighborhood where the fatal shooting happened does not have a neighborhood watch. And police say that where homeowners do organize neighborhood watch programs they are told to call 911 when they see suspicious or criminal activity, rather than take matters into their own hands.

Then, he hallucinated that guests at the party two doors away were "racing up and down the street," that they were armed, and that "there's some devil in them."

Jalen Lewis, who hosted a party at his home, two doors down from Copley’s, on the night of the shooting, said the victim was one of roughly 50 guests at the party, he told CNN affiliate WTVD.

He didn’t know Thomas personally, he said, and he didn’t see anyone armed or causing problems outside his home that night. Lewis told WTVD he has never interacted with Copley in the seven years he’s lived in the Raleigh neighborhood.

Thirdly, he hallucinated that there was a legal requirement for him to fire a warning shot (prior to doing what else, he didn't say.)

I yelled at them, ‘Please leave the premises,’ ” he said. “They were showing firearms, so I fired a warning shot and uh, we got somebody that got hit. …

“I fired my warning shot like I’m supposed to by law. … They do have firearms, and I’m trying to protect myself and my family.”

The dispatcher pressed for more information: Who’s been shot, how badly are they injured — and where, exactly, is the victim?

“Please just send a car,” Copley responded. “There’s friggin’ black males outside my friggin’ house with firearms. Please, send PD. Thank you.”

His "warning shot," which, it transpired, had been fired from a window in his garage, did kill someone: 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, who was out near the street.  Thomas’s mother says he worked at a waffle house, and had a girlfriend about to begin college.

Copley has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.  I would call that a step in the right direction.  Tisiphone, perhaps you can help keep this direction on track and ensure the one step is not the only step to secure this vengeful destroyer away from the public.

Meanwhile, over in Oklahoma – and I must say we all know there are many wonderful people in Oklahoma; this guy just isn't one of them – a retired agriculture teacher named Larry Long has made the news.  It seems that at a retirement presentation they were giving for him at the Oklahoma Career Tech Summer Conference in Oklahoma City he decided to show off what a fine sense of humor he has.Long

So he called a black colleague (probably not a coincidence that the colleague of color is the ONLY black agriculture teacher in the entire state) up to the stage with him, and presented him with a white robe and white hood (complete with Klan insignia), which he placed on the teacher, and then added a Confederate flag (as the bow on the package?)  Wow.  What a barrel of laughs.  Hundreds of people attended this "program," by the way.

I should be specific that CareerTech was not his employer, and he was not retiring from CareerTech.  CareerTech is a state agency, and it does not employ teachers to teach; it oversees them.  The employer from whom he had retired during the year was Elk City High School, where he had apparently worked for 49 years.  He must have been appreciated there, since the board of Elk City Public Schools recently voted to  name the high school's new agriculture building after him.

Those at the meeting were instructed not to speak of it, and to erase any and all cell phone video.  But someone sent an anonymous email to state lawmwkers, and it is now out in the open.

Retired teacher Larry Long issued a statement … in which he said he was trying to make a joke with a colleague who he respected and that he never intended to convey any racism.  He says he realizes his actions were "harmful, offensive, and hurtful."  Long says he has requested a meeting with members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, who expressed outrage at the incident.  A member of the caucus, Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton, says the group welcomes the meeting.  The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology says it is investigating the incident.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Nothing to see here, just move along.  Alecto, if that meeting hasn't already happened, maybe you'd like to be present at it.  Could be interesting.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news /member/101612212/4006109

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Politics
Aug 132016
 
furies

I have a few 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."

First, though, before handing off to the Furies, I want to follow up on July 30's story about "National Whistleblowers Appreciation Day."  You may recall I quoted from John Kiriakou and Tom Drake, and mentioned Jeffrey Sterling not being available as he is still locked up.  I have since received an email forwarded by Roots Action from his wife, Holly.  She states that he has served a bit over one year of his three-and-a-half year sentence, and there are a few things we can do ourselves. 

The need is threefold.  First, he is not getting appropriate attention for serious cardiac medical issues.  He has a history of atrial fibrillation (in the past he has been hospitalized for it) and is now experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath, and dizziness.  Holly has written to the Warden about his medical conditon, and has received no answer.  She would really appreciate if anyone who can would contact the prison warden, Deborah Denham, to advocate for medical attention for Jeffrey.  The email address is ENG slash ExecAssistant at bop dot gov (I'm spelling it the long way to avoid a link that's not to a site) and the phone number 303-763-4300.  (Personal note from me: if I can come up with any more accuracy or other alternatives I will add it/them in a comment.)

Second – I vividly remember when John Kiriakou was incarcerated how the family, his wife and three little girls, were up against the wall just to try to make the mortgage payments, and on top of that, they did not put him in the nearest prison, so that visiting was a challenge both in terms of energy and financially.  (They also threatened "diesel therapy" – a creative term for moving him between prisons without notice.)  Firedoglake was collecting for John, and, with help, they did not lose their home.  The Sterlings have a Sterling Family Fund set up for them on GoFundMe.  They want to appeal his conviction, and Holly would like to make the 800-plus mile trip to visit him once in a while, and both require money.  (There's also more background information there, should you be interested.)

Third, for those of us who are not locked up, it may be impossible to realize how much words of encouragement can mean.  Even if it's just a card.  He can receive snailmail at

JEFFREY STERLING, 38338-044
FCI Englewood
Federal Correctional Institution
9595 West Quincy Avenue
Littleton, CO 80123

And, yes, there is a petition .  It also has more background.

Now, moving right along, I'll whip quickly through a few stories of jaw-dropping – something.  First, let's go to Indiana, specifically to South Bend, where, in 2012, Vivian Franklin awakened to loud pounding on her door between three and four in the morning.  Three (warrantless) police officers shining a flashlight in her eyes  barged in.  They were looking for Dan, Vivian's older son, who was not there.  This did not stop them from hauling her younger son, DeShawn, 17, out of bed and assaulting him with fists and tasers.  In the process, a taser probe got stuck in DeShawn's side; the officers were unable to remove it and had to call an ambulance and EMT's to do so.  (I am restraining my snark here.) 

Where the incident goes right through the Looking Glass is that, while DeShawn was shouting he was not Dan, and Vivian was shouting DeShawn was not Dan, and the officers were insisting Dan must be there because they had trailed him to the home – Dan showed up.  Whereupon the officers opted not to arrest him. 

So in March, 2013 the Franklins reasonably filed suit.  Named in the suit were the three officers, the city, the mayor, and the police chief.  Finally, this year, the suit was adjudicated in Fort Wayne.

The jury found that the Franklins' constitutional rights had been violated.  They awarded damages of ONE DOLLAR. Yes, you read that right.  One dollar.

Grudging, I would say.  Megaera, I woudn't stop with the officers, the city, the mayor, and the police chief.  I'd definitely follow up with that jury.  Perhaps Indiana, or at least South Bend, really did deserve Mike Pence.

Let's now go to Watauga, Texas, where an unidentified man made a threat in a phone message to a local mosque, in which he threatened to decapitate Muslims who attended it.

The caller identified as a "Christian."  Police in Watauga are investigating but aren't treating it as a direct threat at the moment.  the FBI has also been notified.

Of course, Tisiphone, you will want to find this person.  But almost more chilling was the remark that "a caller made explicitly violent threats that went well beyond the kind of verbal abuse callers normally level against the mosque." 

It should NOT be "normal" for callers to "level verbal abuse" against ANY person or group.  And it is un-American that this happens.

So you may be digging out a long, long list.

Finally for this week, this happened in Punta Gorda , FL (one of only a few states we might expect it in).  I'll just quote:

A woman, identified as Mary Knowlton, was selected to participate in a “shoot or don’t shoot” training exercise at the Punta Gorda Police Academy. She was selected at random from a group of 35 citizens who were participating in a two hour Citizens Academy—a program created to teach local civics to civilians.

Mary Knowlton, 73, was shot during a role-play scenario in which the Punta Gorda police officer was playing a “bad guy” and fired several times at the woman who was supposed to be playing the victim, according to Sue Paquin, a photographer who was covering the event for the Sun and witnessed the incident.

Knowlton was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Mrs. Knowlton was originally from Austin, Minnesota and was retired in Punta Gorda. She had been a librarian in Scott County, Minnesota.

This incident may reflect more stupidity than malice (and once again I need to restrain my snark/sarcasm).  But things like this happen all the timeAlecto, maybe you can inject some sense here.  I certainly hope so.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4004933

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 9:24 am  Politics
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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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 9:20 am  Politics
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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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 10:04 am  Politics
Jul 092016
 

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."

Frankly, I did not expect to be sharing this story of grudgingness today.  I try to find outrages that go under the radar, as it were, and, although this is a followup to an earlier story you may remember, I still expected it to be picked up by other sites and get a lot of publicity.  I was wrong.  I find that sad.

"Please accept our condolences on your loss,” explained a letter from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority of New Jersey. “After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.”

The recipient of this letter received no direct benefit from the loan in question, and indeed, no indirect benefit, such as being related to someone who has increased earning power, which sometimes comes to those who graduate from college.  The student, the borrower, was her son.  And he was murdered last year.

The loans were not Federal loans.  The Federal Government has provisions to give some relief to borrowers who experience life-changing circumstances – such as losing a job.  Wken non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor Chris Gonzales was laid off by Goldman Sachs, the Federal Government suspended his federal student loan payments.  However, he had also received some loan funds from New Jersey – which sued him and confiscated his state tax refund.

Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti, the bereaved mother who received the letter quoted above, has been forced to make 18 monthly payments of $180 to the state.  Only 92 to go.

Not every state administers its own student loan program (states that do not do administer their states' share in the Federal loan programs.)  Two that do are New Jersey and Massachusetts.  But, in Massachusetts, there is automatic debt forgiveness if the borrower dies or becomes disabled.  New Jersey, on the other hand, goes aggressively after loan repayment regardless of the circumstances.  And, since federal law does provide some possibility of relief, New Jersey pretty much stopped giving federal loans some years ago, substituting their own loans instead.

But New Jersey will sell students taking out loans life insurance!  My, what a big heart!  Knock yourself out, Megaera.

There is another story, this one of vengeful destruction, which needs to be told.  THere is a church in Kansas where a volunteer in 2014 attempted to rape and electronically solicit two girls under fourteen who attended the church.  Last year he pleaded guilty to these charges.

The volunteer, who was seventeen, at the time of the crime, had a string of past sexual conduct and crimes behind him, but was still allowed to be around children without supervision.  On June 9 of this year, the girls and their families filed a lawsuit against the church, alleging that the church violated its own protocols, thereby allowing the assaults to occur.

Naturally, the church has filed a petition asking the court to require the victims and their parents to identify themselves publicly before the case can proceed.

Wait a minute, you are probably saying to yourself.  What is this church?  Westboro Baptist?  That's in Kansas, right?  Well, no, it isn't Westboro Baptist, though it is a Southern Baptist church.  It's just creepily similar.  Its name is Westside Family Church.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been a victim advocate for 28 years, and has never seen a petition like this before in a case involving children, and only occasionally when the victim(s) are adult.  And children these victims still are.  If they were under fourteen in 2014, they cannot now be older than sixteen.

Clohessy called the move "a shameful move by officials who profess to be 'Christians.'"  I concur.  Tisiphone, you know what to do.

(Note: the photo of mother and son shows the mother and son in the story.  The photo of the girl is a stock photo from Shutterstock, which AlterNet picked to illustrate the narrative.)

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3997742

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:05 am  Politics
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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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 6:29 am  Politics
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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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 10:32 am  Politics
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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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:07 am  Politics
Jun 042016
 
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 need to tip my hat to Nicole Hollander this week.  She is the cartoonist who for years drew the "Sylvia" cartoons.  If you haven't ever met Sylvia, go to her blog and look around, because you have been missing out.  She is retired from drawing the cartoon, but posts from the archives on the blog, and (sigh) little has changed.

Being a cartoonist, she has super-long antennae for what is happening to cartoonists.  She came across this story on Facebook, but since I am not on Facebook, I have sourced it from the New York Times and the Columbia Journalism Review (both of which Nicole also cited).

Let me start with the New York Times (emphasis [bolding] mine).

Rick Friday was not immediately available on Wednesday to explain why he was fired after two decades working as a cartoonist for Farm News. That is because he was feeding the cows on his Iowa farm, as he does early every morning before most people have gone to work.

But the cartoon that got him into trouble last week had already spoken for him, circulating online well beyond the audience of the thousands of Farm News readers of his weekly “It’s Friday” column, which has been published since 1995….

After the cartoon was published last Friday, Mr. Friday said he was told in an email from an editor the next day that the cartoon would be his last for Farm News because a seed company had withdrawn its advertising in protest.

He was told his run with the Farm News, for which he said he had been paid “embarrassingly low” wages on a freelance basis, was over, per instructions from the publisher [The Messenger in Fort Dodge, Iowa]….

“…someone complained about it, and this is the philosophy I use when I explained it to my children: They were being fed by two hands,” Mr. Friday said, referring to Farm News and its relationships with him and with its advertisers.

“They knew they had to chose one, and they chose the hand that they knew would hurt the least,” he said. “After 21 years, that is what really bothered me.”

Thomas Jefferson famously said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."  However, Thomas Jefferson never saw a newspaper owned by the tangle of corporations which own them today.  I suspect that, could he see today's newspapers (and other news media), he might just rethink that.

The Columbia Journalism Review is quite concerned, not just about this incident, but about a trend.

Cartoonists have a long history of retribution from their powerful targets. Most of the backlash has come from governments and political leaders, extremist groups, and even grassroots protesters. Until now, pressure from advertisers and self-censoring editors has mostly spiked individual cartoons, not led to cartoonists being canned. Neither outcome benefits readers, but the case of Friday and Farm News seems a predictable step forward for those who aim to curtail freedom of the press.

First, let’s look at why cartoons—which are inherently rowdy—draw so much scrutiny and anger. “It’s a form of public humiliation, and people receive it differently than they receive words,” says Victor Navasky, publisher emeritus of The Nation and author of The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power. At least some of the ire stems from the visual nature of the medium, which makes cartoons both striking and accessible. They sow discomfort for subjects and their followers, with no recourse for the aggrieved, Navasky says. “The response to these things is disproportionate.” (Disclosure: Navasky sits on CJR’s board of overseers.)

….Yet, somehow, oft-persecuted cartoonists have rarely, if ever, been fired over business-side conflicts. “I’ve seen cartoons be removed from the site or sort of censored by the editors for that kind of reason. That happens almost all the time,” says Adam Zyglis, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. “But for someone to lose a gig over it, I don’t know if there has ever been a situation like that.” A 2004 study on cartoons and censorship reached the same conclusion.

Rick Friday is a cartoonist, and cartoonists are pretty good at responding to nonsense by defining it as nonsense.  And, today, cartoonists have the internet for a "bully pulpit" (though had TR lived today, he might have called it an "awesome pulpit" – he didn't know what would happen to the word bully over the years.)  But, dear Furies, it is part of a trend.  Please report back when you can, and tell us what we have to do to get it stopped – if it isn't already too late.  Thank you.

The Furies and I will be back.

Posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3990117

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