Monday, July 29, 2013

The Business of Mass Incarceration

from truth-dig

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Posted on Jul 28, 2013
Illustration by Mr. Fish
Debbie Bourne, 45, was at her apartment in the Liberty Village housing projects in Plainfield, N.J., on the afternoon of April 30 when police banged on the door and pushed their way inside. The officers ordered her, her daughter, 14, and her son, 22, who suffers from autism, to sit down and not move and then began ransacking the home. Bourne’s husband, from whom she was estranged and who was in the process of moving out, was the target of the police, who suspected him of dealing cocaine. As it turned out, the raid would cast a deep shadow over the lives of three innocents—Bourne and her children.
* * *
The murder of a teenage boy by an armed vigilante, George Zimmerman, is only one crime set within a legal and penal system that has criminalized poverty. Poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. This use of the bodies of the poor to make money for corporations fuels the system of neoslavery that defines our prison system.
Chris Hedges will be among those fasting Wednesday in solidarity with the Californiaprison hunger strike. For information about how to become involved in this week’s protest, click here.
Prisoners often work inside jails and prisons for nothing or at most earn a dollar an hour. The court system has been gutted to deny the poor adequate legal representation. Draconian drug laws send nonviolent offenders to jail for staggering periods of time. Our prisons routinely use solitary confinement, forms of humiliation and physical abuse to keep prisoners broken and compliant, methods thatinternational human rights organizations have long defined as torture. Individuals and corporations that profit from prisons in the United States perpetuate a form of neoslavery. The ongoing hunger strike by inmates in the California prison system is a slave revolt, one that we must encourage and support. The fate of the poor under our corporate state will, if we remain indifferent and passive, become our own fate. This is why on Wednesday I will join prison rights activists, including Cornel West and Michael Moore, in a one-day fast in solidarity with the hunger strike in the California prison system.
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In poor communities where there are few jobs, little or no vocational training, a dearth of educational opportunities and a lack of support structures there are, by design, high rates of recidivism—the engine of the prison-industrial complex. There are tens of millions of poor people for whom this country is nothing more than a vast, extended penal colony. Gun possession is largely criminalized for poor people of color while vigilante thugs, nearly always white, swagger through communities with loaded weapons. There will never be serious gun control in the United States. Most white people know what their race has done to black people for centuries. They know that those trapped today in urban ghettos, what Malcolm X called our internal colonies, endure neglect, poverty, violence and deprivation. Most whites are terrified that African-Americans will one day attempt to defend themselves or seek vengeance. Scratch the surface of survivalist groups and you uncover frightened white supremacists.
The failure on the part of the white liberal class to decry the exploding mass incarceration of the poor, and especially of African-Americans, means that as our empire deteriorates more and more whites will end up in prison alongside those we have condemned because of our indifference. And the mounting abuse of the poor is fueling an inchoate rage that will eventually lead to civil unrest.
“Again I say that each and every Negro, during the last 300 years, possesses from that heritage a greater burden of hate for America than they themselves know,” Richard Wright wrote. “Perhaps it is well that Negroes try to be as unintellectual as possible, for if they ever started really thinking about what happened to them they’d go wild. And perhaps that is the secret of whites who want to believe that Negroes have no memory; for if they thought that Negroes remembered they would start out to shoot them all in sheer self-defense.”
The United States has spent $300 billion since 1980 to expand its prison system. We imprison 2.2 million people, 25 percent of the world’s prison population. For every 100,000 adults in this country there are 742 behind bars. Five million are on parole. Only 30 to 40 percent are white.
The intrusion of corporations and private contractors into the prison system is a legacy of the Clinton administration. President Bill Clinton’s omnibus crime bill provided $30 billion to expand the prison system, including $10 billion to build prisons. The bill expanded from two to 58 the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty can be administered. It eliminated a ban on the execution of the mentally impaired. The bill gave us the “three-strikes” laws that mandate life sentences for anyone convicted of three “violent” felonies. It set up the tracking of sex offenders. It allowed the courts to try children as young as 13 as adults. It created special courts to deport noncitizens alleged to be “engaged in terrorist activity” and authorized the use of secret evidence. The prison population under Clinton swelled from 1.4 million to 2 million.
Incarceration has become a very lucrative business for an array of private contractors, most of whom send lobbyists to Washington to make sure the laws and legislation continue to funnel a steady supply of poor people into the prison complex. These private contractors, taking public money, build the prisons, provide food service, hire guards and run and administer detention facilities. It is imperative to their profits that there be a steady supply of new bodies.
* * *
Bourne has worked for 13 years as a locker room assistant in the Plainfield school system. She works five hours a day. She does not have medical benefits. She struggles to take care of a daughter in fragile health and a disabled son.
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bradley Manning trial: Leakers Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg weigh in (+video)

from christian science monitor

Bradley Manning is a patriot responsible for 'the most influential leak in history,' WikiLeaks' Assange argues. Ellsberg warns the trial has grave consequences for democracy and journalism.

By Anna MulrineStaff writer / July 26, 2013
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse at Fort Mead, Md, Thursday. Charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending troves of classified material to WikiLeaks, Manning faces up to life in prison.
Cliff Owen/AP

The outcome of the Pfc. Bradley Manning trial has broad and grave consequences for America as a democracy, warns Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the classified Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers some 40 years ago, exposing widespread governmental misconduct.
Mr. Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who released some 700,000 classified documents online, is charged with violating the Espionage Act and aiding the enemy and could face life in prison.
In a conference call with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Friday afternoon, Mr. Ellsberg pointed out thatPresident Obama has charged twice as many people under the Espionage Act as all previous presidents.
Yet Manning, rather than someone interested in aiding America’s enemies, is a patriot responsible for “without a doubt the most influential leak in history,” Mr. Assange argues. 
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cited documents given by Manning to WikiLeaks in his decision not to renew a Status of Forces Agreement with the US military, which in turn led to the formal end of the Iraq War, Assange noted. 
According to Amnesty International, the leaks were one of the leading factors in triggering protests that led to the Arab Spring, he added.
Mr. Ellsberg also reiterated warnings about the chilling impact the Manning trial could have on journalism and the interpretation of the First Amendment protecting freedom of the press.
“If the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge is permitted to stand, this case will forever change the ability of journalists to reveal the most important crimes of the state,” and, in so doing, to change the course of US foreign policy with which the public might disagree.
That’s because the US government is increasingly naming journalists as co-conspirators in whistle-blowing cases, Assange argues, which in turn has the effect of embroiling journalists in prosecutions that could potentially carry the death penalty. 
“It directly connects journalists and publishers into the Obama administration’s new attempt to define journalism about national security as conspiracy to commit espionage.” 
If Manning is found guilty of aiding the enemy “it will be the end of national security journalism in the US,” he adds, “at a time it is needed the most.” 
The US government’s disregard for the press has been evident in its treatment of journalists covering the Manning trial, Ellsberg said further, noting that armed US troops have been patrolling the courtroom.
In a Twitter feed Thursday, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage wrote, “Creepy having armed MPs [military police] in camo [camouflage] patrolling behind each row of reporters and looking over shoulders as we take notes on Manning trial.” 
Ellsberg and Assange pushed back, too, against the picture painted by US government prosecutors of Manning as an attention-seeker interested in basking in the glory of his WikiLeaks revelations.
To make their case that he was hungry for glory rather than an intelligence analyst with a conscience, the prosecution, for example, cited a note from Manning to a colleague in which he wrote, “If you had unprecedented access to classified networks, 14 hours a day, seven days a week – for eight plus months – what would you do?
Yet defense attorney David Coombs argued that prosecutors intentionally left out far more relevant writings from Manning, in particular one in which he asked the same colleague, “Hypothetical question: If you had free reign over classified networks over a long period of time – if you saw incredible things, horrible things, things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C. – what would you do?”
Given this reasoning, Manning is a “hero,” Ellsberg says. “He doesn’t owe a debt to society, in my opinion. Society owes a debt to him.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Elizabeth Warren's Takedown Of CNBC Removed From YouTube

from huffpost

The one politician I trust

For Detroit, all roads probably lead to bankruptcy court

from reuters

Related Topics

A vacant blighted home is seen on West Grand Boulevard, a once thriving neighborhood, in Detroit, Michigan July 23, 2013. REUTERS/ Rebecca Cook
Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:26am EDT
(Reuters) - With fights over whether Detroit can pursue its bankruptcy filing playing out in both federalbankruptcy court and Michigan state court, many are wondering how the matter will be resolved.
It is impossible to predict precisely how the two cases will play out, but experts agree that sooner or later the dispute is likely to end up with thebankruptcy court handling the city's financial restructuring.
Under federal rules, a bankrupt municipality like Detroit benefits from an automatic stay of litigation taking place in other courts. But before that can take effect, a bankruptcy court must rule that the municipality is eligible tofile for bankruptcy.
While the bankruptcy court will not decide Detroit's eligibility for several weeks, the city can in the meantime invoke the right to an automatic stay in the face of any adverse court ruling in state court, experts said, forcing opponents to litigate in bankruptcy court.
Here are the scenarios under which the bankruptcy court gets jurisdiction of Detroit's bankruptcy.
On July 17, retired city workers filed a lawsuit in state court in Lansing, Michigan, saying a bankruptcy filing would violate protections for their pensions under the state constitution.
On July 18, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed the biggest-ever U.S. municipal bankruptcy, with $18.5 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities, in federal bankruptcy court in Detroit.
On July 19, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ordered Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to withdraw his consent for the bankruptcy. The state appealed the ruling. The appeals court's eventual decision could itself be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.
1) If the state court system reverses Aquilina's order, the bankruptcy court case would continue on its current course.
2) If the state courts uphold Aquilina's order, Orr could simply refuse to comply. He could argue, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that the automatic stay in bankruptcy bars the enforcement of legal judgments from state courts. This would force the objectors to litigate that question in the bankruptcy court.
Also on July 19, Orr asked Judge Steven Rhodes to expand the reach of the automatic stay to cover Snyder and other state entities. The city retirees objected, saying Rhodes lacks jurisdiction to act on the request because Detroit should not be in bankruptcy. Rhodes set a hearing on that request for July 24.
1) If Rhodes grants Detroit's request, it will show he believes his court has jurisdiction over Detroit. But, in practice, such a ruling would have little effect on state courts, which may continue to consider state constitutional questions. The bankruptcy case would then likely proceed to its eligibility hearing.
1) If Rhodes denies Detroit's request, it could mean many things, depending on the reasoning he gives. But the case would still likely proceed to an eligibility hearing in bankruptcy court.
The city's request was "expedited," which experts say is likely to result in a ruling within days, or even immediately.
The next stage would be an eligibility hearing in bankruptcy court, in which Detroit must prove it is eligible to go bankrupt under Chapter 9, which governs municipal bankruptcies.
The eligibility hearing is the forum in Chapter 9 for objectors like Detroit pensioners to have their say in court.
Rhodes has not set a date for an eligibility hearing, which typically comes within several weeks after a bankruptcy filing. The city has asked Rhodes to compel opponents to file their briefs by August 19, which, if he agrees, would suggest a hearing soon after that.
(Reporting by Nick Brown in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

A message from the old King

With all this news going on: New UK Royal heir, Weiner, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Snowden, municipal bankruptcies, pensions, immigration, guns, crime, sex scandals and on and on,  its hard to keep up. 

Therefore as the King once implored:

Let's have a Party

Monday, July 22, 2013

R.I.P. Dennis Farina

Saving Private Ryan, is to me, the best, motion picture experience, I have ever seen. We lost an actor from that epic motion picture today.  Godspeed, Dennis Farino.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Idyllwild Under Evacuation Order as Fire Grows to 14,200 Acres

from ktla

IDYLLWILD, Calif. (KTLA) — Mandatory evacuations were expanded Wednesday to include the entire town of Idyllwild as the Mountain fire continued to burn out of control in Riverside County.
The evacuation notice was in effect for all of Fern Valley, Idyllwild, and adjacent communities east of Highway 243, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The blaze was reported Monday afternoon near the junction of Highway 243 and Highway 74.
It was burning in rugged terrain east of the Mountain Center and Apple Canyon areas, in the southern portion of the San Jacinto Wilderness.
Brush fire burning near Idyllwild in Riverside County
It had charred 14,200 acres and was still just 10 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.
More than 2,200 firefighters were assigned to the blaze, according to an update from the U.S. Forest Service.
Three mobile homes and three residences were destroyed in Bonita Vista, and one residence was damaged, according to the Forest Service.
In Pine Springs, one commercial building, a workshop, a garage and a cabin were destroyed, Forest Service officials said.
There were no damages in the Zen Mountain Center area.
In addition to the structures, there were a total of 11 outbuildings and 4-6 vehicles destroyed, officials said.
There were mandatory evacuations for the Living Free Animal Sanctuary, Fleming Ranch, the community of Bonita Vista (20 homes) and the Zen Mountain Center.
Mandatory evacuations were also in place for Andreas Canyon Club — the 24 homes south of Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.
Additionally, around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Camp Ronald McDonald was evacuated.
Highway 243 was closed between Saunders Meadow Road and the junction of Highway 74, but Highway 74 remained open.
Additionally, the Pacific Crest Trail was closed from State Highway 74 to Saddle Junction.
All connector trails to the PCT were also closed, including South Ridge Trail, Carumba Trail, Spitler Peak Trail, Fobes Trail and Cedar Springs.
A new Red Cross evacuation center was set up Wednesday at Beaumont High School at 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd.
A Red Cross shelter was set up at Hemet High School, located at 41701 E. Stetson Ave. in Hemet.
Another shelter was also set up at Hamilton High School, at 57430 Mitchell Rd. in Anza. It can also accept small animals.
A large and small animal shelter has been opened at Lake Hemet campground in Garner Valley.
Small animals can also be brought to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter, at 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

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