Nel's New Day

February 28, 2019

Good News across the U.S.

The week has been filled with testimony from Michael Cohen about the corruption of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and DDT’s failure—and its GOP spin—at the highly vaunted summit with North Korea. Across the United States, however, bits of good news gleam from time to time.

Thanks to Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services, Deutsche Bank is cooperating in an investigation into DDT’s finances.

The House has passed its second gun control bill within two days, this one closing the “Charleston loophole.” A white supremacist was able to kill nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because a background check couldn’t be finished within three days. Three Republicans joined Democrats in the vote of 228-198. Before yesterday, the last gun control bill to pass the house was the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act 25 years ago. In 2017, over 6,000 guns were sold to people with criminal histories or other factors prevent sales because of the three-day deadline, 50 percent up from 2016. Also in 2017, the three-day deadline kept the FBI from completing 310,232 gun background checks.

After almost 50 years, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell are finally legally married in the eyes of Social Security. They had successfully obtained a marriage license in Minnesota in 1971 because the clerk didn’t realize it was for two men, and the state didn’t request that the marriage be dissolved. Minnesota just pretended the marriage wasn’t valid. On September 18, 2018, a district court in Minnesota declared their marriage “in all respects valid.”

Overturning a State Department decision, a federal judge has ruled that Aiden and Ethan Dvash-Banks, twin boys born to a surrogate mother for a gay couple, have the same rights as U.S. citizens. One egg donor is a U.S. citizen, the other an Israeli, and they married in Canada in 2017. When one father applied for U.S. passports for both boys before moving to the U.S., immigration officials refused to recognize that the U.S. citizen was the legal father of both children and demanded a DNA test for the twins’ citizenship. The U.S. consulate in Toronto provided citizenship for only the one twin biologically related to the U.S. citizen and required him to sponsor the other twin as his “step-son” although he is listed on the birth certificate as the boy’s father. The two men sued for recognition of their marital status, and the judge ruled that federal law “does not require a person born during their parents’ marriage to demonstrate a biological relationship with both of their married parents.” The judge cited two court cases which clearly state the word “parents” is not limited to biological parents,” meaning that the twins will be allowed to stay together and with their married parents.

Another family is still fighting for their legal rights. U.S. citizen Allison Blixt married Italian citizen Stefania Zaccari in London because the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act had not yet been struck down. Blixt’s son was recognized as a U.S. citizen, but the State Department used a policy about unwed mothers to deny citizenship to Zaccari’s son. Both children were born after the two women were legally married, but Blixt was told that she had to register her son, born to Zaccari, as her “step-son.”

The State Department language on its website, that transferring a parent’s U.S. citizenship to a child born abroad requires “a biological relationship, or blood relationship,” violates the Immigration and Nationality Act that permits children to inherit married parents’ U.S. citizenship if the adult lived in the U.S. for at least five years and meets other requirements. The State Department appears to ignore the legal marriage of same-gender couples.

A federal judge ordered Texas to stop its purge of electoral rolls because evidence shows no widespread voter fraud in Texas. He described the planned purging “ham-handed” and “threatening.” Writing about the blatantly inaccurate numbers of non-citizens voted, the judge stated:

“It appears this is a solution looking for a problem…. [The policy] exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”

Two weeks ago, 80-year-old Goodloe Sutton, the editor and owner of the 140-year-old Democrat-Reporter in Linden (AL), population 2,123, wrote an editorial asking the Ku Klux Klan to “ride again” into communities of Democrats who consider raising taxes before he advocated lynching for his political opponents in an interview with the Montgomery Adviser. Both Alabama senators called for his resignation, the Alabama Press Association censured him, and the University of Southern Mississippi removed him from its Hall of Fame. Sutton, known for his racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homophobic editorials, has now stepped down to be replaced by Elecia R. Dexter, a black woman, as the newspaper’s publisher and editor. In a recent interview, Sutton said the publicity was worth $10 million and that Democratic lawmakers are “terrible” while the KKK is “the nicest.” Dexter has no journalism background and started working at the newspaper two months ago as a clerk.

The New York legislature, now controlled by Democrats, may pass a law requiring DDT to release his state income tax returns. The NY TRUTH Act would require all statewide elected officials, including the president and vice president if they file taxes in the state, to publicly release their taxes each year.

With a pledge from new Dem Gov J.B. Pritzker to make Illinois the “most progressive state in the nation … for women’s reproductive rights,” state Democratic legislators introduced two measures to expand abortion access, repealing parental notification requirements for minors and restrictions for late pregnancies. The act would also require private insurance in the state to cover abortions like any other reproductive healthcare for women and allow advance-practice nurses to perform abortions. A 1975 law criminalizing doctors who perform abortions would be abolished. Former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner had signed legislation permitting Medicaid and state health insurance coverage to be used for abortions.

The Wisconsin National Guard is reviewing whether Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) violated the law when he criticized Wisconsin governor, Tony Evers, in tweets and on Fox for withdrawing troops from the southern U.S. border. Hours before Evers issued an executive order for the troops, Zinzinger questioned in a tweet whether the governor’s decision was “based solely on politics.” Federal laws and Wisconsin laws call for “any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice-president, members of Congress, the secretary of defense, the secretary of a military department, the secretary of homeland security, or the governor or legislature of the state of Wisconsin” to be punished. Kinzinger has the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard; as governor, Evers is his commander-in-chief. A spokeswoman for Kinzinger says that he can say anything he wants when he’s “off-duty,” but a First Amendment law expert disagrees.

New Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, canceled the sale of a former state prison site to a for-profit private prison company that planned to detain hundreds of immigrants in the facility. The company would not guarantee that the prison “would not be used to detain adults who had been separated from their children or other family members.”

Thanks to grassroots activists and the state of Illinois, the cost of telephone calls for prisoners has gone from the most inflated in the U.S. to under a penny a minute, the lowest cost in the country, although some costly fees put a 30-minute call at $2. DDT had overturned FCC regulations for prisoners’ telephone prices.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the “liberals” to order a review of the death penalty for an inmate suffering from dementia so severe that he cannot understand why he is being punished. The decision requires a lower court to examine whether Vernon Madison’s strokes and vascular dementia leave him unable to remember his crime and the reason that the state wants to execute him. Earlier the court had ruled that people suffering from schizophrenic and psychotic delusions may not be put to death; in her opinion for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan stated that the same logic applies to dementia. He had been on death row for 33 years. Brett Kavanaugh did not vote because he was not confirmed when the case was argued.

May we have more good news.

June 22, 2018

Immigration Executive Order No Panacea

Almost two years ago, Republicans cheered after they took over the executive branch, the Congress, and most of the Supreme Court in the 2016 election. Yet they keep failing. Yesterday, a bill proposed by hard-line conservatives failed by 231-193 votes; a second bill negotiated by conservatives and moderates didn’t get to the floor. The GOP refused to involve any Democrats. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said that he’d sign either bill but later discouraging some GOP voters with a defeatist tweet that the Senate could reject any House bill. Last year, Democrats made a deal with DDT that included funding for a wall, but he backed off of the agreement. (The House did pass a farm bill by 213-211 with restrictive work requirements for most adult food-stamp recipients although the provisions won’t survive the Senate.)

Clinging to his job as House Speaker until the end of the year, Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to paint a positive picture of his failures as “the seeds … for an ultimate solution.” If so, the plant is growing very slowly: Congress has failed to pass immigration reform since the unsuccessful Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Today, DDT sent a series of angry tweets telling congressional Republicans to quit on the immigration issue until the fall elections when he predicted a “Red Wave” that will pass his wall funding. Yet DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, claims that the government may start separating children again if Congress doesn’t pass a bill that DDT wants—aka build the wall.

Asked what he thinks of people comparing ICE to Nazis, acting director Thomas Homan said that the comparison is unfair because ICE is “simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress,” a lie or misconception. Simply following directions was also the Nuremberg defense used by German’s Nazis for their crimes. Then asked if his ICE protocol was “humane,” Homan froze, stumbled, thought, and then said, “I think—I think it is the law.” Homan plans to retire.

The U.S. Border Patrol may have changed its policy to criminally charge parents with children who illegally cross the border. Border agents at McAllen (TX) has suspended prosecution of adults suspended until ICE has places for their incarceration, which leaves families together. Many migrant parents and children may even be released from custody while awaiting court hearings.

The Pentagon is sending 21 military prosecutors to the Mexico border for 179 days to “work full time, assisting in prosecuting reactive border immigration cases, with a focus on misdemeanor improper entry and felony illegal reentry cases.” These lawyers may not be prepared for what they will face. In an essay about ICE court proceedings, Erik Hanshew, Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso (TX), reported the dismaying ignorance demonstrated by the court testimony from a border agent regarding clients separated from their children. She said she didn’t know that the accused had been accompanied by a four-year-old taken from him at the border and knew nothing about where the child might be or how the family could be reunited. The judge slammed his hand on the desk and demanded:

“If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?”

If you read Hanshew’s essay, you might need a box of tissues.

DDT and his administration changed their story (lies?) 14 times in one week. DDT said that “you can’t [end the separation] through an executive order,” that it required congressional action, until he signed an order claiming to end the separation. He could easily have told the DOJ not to criminally prosecute every person who crossed the border and instead release them for a later hearing, but he said that this would make the U.S. seem “weak.” Signing the executive order contradicts DDT’s accusation that President Obama abused his executive authority by issuing an executive order protecting the young immigrant Dreamers. DDT promised that he would rarely use executive orders but signed 77 of them in his first 516 days—twice as many as those signed by President Obama and George W. Bush.

The order does not specify where the families will be detained and whether children will still be separated while facilities for families are built. It also does not return children to their parents, probably impossible because the federal government doesn’t know how to put families back together. Even if a few families can be reunited, migrants have been stripped of all their belongs and left with only the clothing that they wear. A janitor reported that he found not only canned food in the garbage but also such personal items as Bibles and rosaries and wedding rings—even children’s toys that could have been comforting to them.

DDT is so afraid of information coming from his Trumpvilles, he has forbidden everyone—including members of Congress—to tour a facility without permission two weeks earlier and to talk with the children. He has good reason because children might talk about their beatings, isolation cells, and lack of clothing and blankets in cold cells for months and years of incarceration. Children who could be released within six months after through vetting and FBI background check cannot leave these prisons until DDT’s director of the Office of Refugee Resettlements, Scott Lloyd, who is allowed to not sign off on releases after DDT’s new policy. These children may be left in the prisons for years with hopes that they will age out at 18 and then be deported. Lloyd became better known after he became known as anti-contraception and fought giving immigrant teenage girls their rights to have an abortion after being raped. Although all unaccompanied immigrant children, the term used for migrant children separated from their parents, are transferred to ORR custody after detention at the border, Lloyd plans stricter standards for acceptance into ORR custody.

The presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a statement to stop separating migrant children from parents, citing research about physical and mental damage to all parties. These people have also suffered great trauma by giving up any stability in their lives and then journey up to 2,000 miles by walking, catching rides in the backs of trucks, and riding freight trains. They suffer sleep deprivation, weather extremes, and possibly violence and kidnapping. When they seek asylum, they face disorientation in huge cold windowless warehouses with cages and lights that stay on day and night. Children’s development regresses, and they become clingy or aggressive. The hormone dysfunctions cause brain changes such as serious learning, developmental, and health programs. The longer the stress and trauma, the longer the outcome. Parents go into depression and suicidal ideation.

American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners all oppose the separation of these children. Conservatives who don’t care about the damage to children from the separation might be concerned about the financial costs of these separations. Just one year of child maltreatment costs $124 billion per child over one person’s lifetime. This study that produced this conclusion was based on physical, sexual, and verbal abuse that is a percentage of how border agents are terrorizing migrant children. Keeping children in the new tent cities costs $775 per night compared to the expenditure of $298 per night if they stay with their parents in a detention center. That’s an extra $174,000 a year–per child.

Young children, toddlers, and infants who cannot be touched by their so-called caregivers are now being drugged by the private contractors hired for their care. Powerful drugs cause them to be unable to walk, afraid of people, and falling after being drugged because they have been forcibly separated from parents by men with guns. One child was thrown against a door by a shelter worker after the child tried to open a window before she was choked until she fainted. Children at Shiloh Treatment Center, run by private contractors, are told that they won’t be released or see their parents unless they took psychotropic drugs that the caregivers called vitamins. Lawyers report that they have seen this use of psychotropic drugs in all facilities with unaccompanied migrant children. Medications have severe side effect—falling, serious weight gain, etc.

Melania Trump visited children in a Lutheran shelter, not a private contractor prison. Getting on and off the plane, she wore a jacket that read, “I really don’t care, do U?” Told that the average stay at the facility was 42-45 days, she said, “That’s great.” To the children, she said, “Be kind and nice to others, OK?” and then “Good luck” to children who may never see their parents again.

DDT thought that the destruction of thousands of families would be a victory like the cultural war surrounding NFL players kneeling for the national anthem. Furious about way that his latest debacle overshadowed what he saw as his success in North Korea, he gathered families of people killed by undocumented immigrants and delivered his lies about the dangers of immigration. If DDT plans to stop separating children from parents, why did he order the Pentagon to build facilities for 20,000 children in isolated military bases—after he signed the order? The stock market rose today after falling for the rest of the week as shares in private prison operators CoreCivic Inc and Geo Group went up from the hope of additional detention for immigrants.

Immigration is good: that’s what 75 percent of people in the U.S. believe. Even 65 percent of Republicans agree with this statement. Only 29 percent believe that immigration should be decreased. And DDT’s poll numbers are going back down.

March 21, 2016

The U.S. Needs Another Frances Perkins

 

A century ago, the United States suffered from horrendous income inequality, rampant disease, atrocious living conditions, debtor prisons, and warehouses of mentally ill people. Although some people lived well in the 1920s, GOP president Herbert Hoover in his first elected position, drove the country into the greatest economic depression in its 250-year history through his pro-business and anti-government beliefs. Anti-civil rights, he appealed to white Southern voters with his use of religion in his campaign that warned people against voting a Catholic into the presidency. By the end of his four-year term, Hoover understood that his drastic tax cuts contributed to the disaster of the 1930s, but his change was too little, too great. Franklin D. Roosevelt was swept into office with an over 57 percent mandate.

FDR is typically given credit for the New Deal, beginning in his first 100 days, that instituted Social Security, minimum wage, work-hour limitations, CCC, etc.  Two people behind this 180-degree transition from Hoover’s catastrophic policies were two women—FDR’s wife, Eleanor, and the first woman in a presidential cabinet, Francis Perkins, who FDR appointed after his wife’s urging.

Perkins’ activism began in 1911 when she witnessed the deaths of 146 workers, primarily young Jewish and Italian women, during the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Horrified as she watched many of them die when they jumped from the fire, Perkins helped shape 30 pieces of legislation in fire safety and working conditions during Al Smith’s four terms as New York governor of New York, the most progressive governor in the nation. Perkins continued her work in New York in 1929 after that state’s new governor, FDR, picked her for Commissioner of Labor. During that time, she showed that Hoover’s claim of improving unemployment was false and moved FDR into national leadership.

frances perkins bookPossibly the best book about Perkins is Kirstin Downey’s The Woman behind the New Deal. The opening paragraphs of the book illustrates Perkins’ dedication to her cause in her conditions of FDR’s offer to become his Secretary of Labor:

“She ticked off the items: a forty-hour work week, a minimum wage, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, a federal law banning child labor, direct federal aid for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized public employment service, and health insurance.”

FDR accomplished all these and more during his first of four terms: the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration putting millions of unemployed men to work, and the Civil Works Administration and the Public Works Administration that evolved into the Works Progress Administration.

Created during World War I, FDR’s “NRA” (National Recovery Act) was a way to “stabilize” prices that gave workers higher wages and the right to organize and collectively bargain in unions. Unfortunately, it didn’t go far enough because of the government’s lack of enforcement and toleration for labor inequalities—blacks and women could receive lower wages for doing the same job as men. Other weaknesses came from large companies that led writing the bill and used it to drive up prices, limit production, lay off workers, and divide markets among themselves at expense of smaller competitors. Even so, it moved the nation forward until the Supreme Court ruled the NRA unconstitutional in 1935. Other similar laws took its place but not before successful programs were interrupted.

FDR’s death was the end of Perkins’ great influence. President Harry Truman remembered that Perkins had given him his first federal job and fired her. She asked to be head of the Social Security program, but instead Truman made her one of three Federal Civil Service Commissioners. She resigned that position after her husband died and she no longer had to support him and her daughter, both bipolar. Perkins worked into her 80s, teaching at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School. Her last lecture was two weeks before she died.

 

inequalityA century after Perkins began her reforms, the U.S. has the worst inequality in the developed world. The new Robber Barons have rolled levels back to the 18th century to where it’s more severe than it was in 1774.

Labor union membership shrank to 11.8 percent of the total workforce and only 6.6 percent of the private sector—percentages equal to 1900.

mentally illMentally ill people are now warehoused in prisons after being turned out on the streets instead of held in mental institutions. The three biggest jail systems—Cook County (IL), Los Angeles County, and New York City—have over 11,000 prisoners under treatment each day compared to the combined 4,000 beds in the three largest state-run mental hospitals.

Private companies now make money off prisons just like a century ago when private companies made profits off Convict Leasing—prisoners employed outside prison during the day and returned at night. Abuse, brutality, and neglect along with official corruption so rampant that prisoners barely survived longer than ten years, calling for more labor. Simple assault led to eight year sentences of hard labor, larceny was 20 year in prison, and stealing $5 of goods meant 12 months jail time–sentences mostly for black people.

Prison privatization leads to contracts with “occupancy guarantees” mandating a minimum number of occupied beds for prisoners, leading to the same abusive treatment as a century ago. At least 65 percent of all private prison contracts have such guarantees; Arizona has a 100-percent guarantee. With an imprisonment rate of almost 50 percent higher than Russia and 320 percent higher than China, the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. This nation imprisons more types of criminal offenders, including non-violent and drug offenders, and keeps them imprisoned longer than other developed countries. Prison overcrowding leads to putting violent offenders with non-violent prisoners. Many states face fiscal crises because of paying $20,000 to $30,000 per year for each prisoner. Five states pay more for prisons than higher education.

In 2010, just two prison corporations made $3 billion in profit. Judges have been found taking bribes for these companies to harshly sentence juvenile offenders—two judges making $2.6 million—because they provide the best labor.

The U.S. prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, uniforms, belts and shoulder belts, vests, ID cards, shirts, pants, tents, backpacks and flasks for the country`s army. In addition, prisons produce 98 percent of installation tools; 46 percent of bulletproof vests; 36 percent of home appliances; 30 percent of headphones, microphones, megaphones; and 21 percent of office furniture, aircraft and medical equipment; etc. (Imagine the low rate of unemployment if companies had to hire non-prisoners to make these items!)

Self-financing prisons means no economic pressure to close them. Corporate interests want to keep as many people in prison as possible.

Judges create debtor prisons by jailing people with no money to pay fines. Debtor prisons were abolished by federal and some state laws in the 1830s, and three Supreme Court rulings have declared that debtor prisons are unconstitutional. Yet almost one-third of the states permit poor people in prison for failure to pay even minor fines. These 15 states have the highest incarceration rates. With “poverty penalties”—late fees, payment plan fees, interest, etc.—people cannot pay their way out of prison. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, and Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. People have no right to a public defender in some Florida county collection courts.

Public health almost eradicated such diseases as whooping cough, mumps, rubella, polio, and TB, but that success is being reversed. The religious right’s War on Science rejecting vaccinations and the loss of funding for public health is exposing people to a return of these and other diseases.

Monopolies were broken up a century ago because they are a threat to both economy and democracy, but the country no longer protects anti-trust enforcement. The result is loss of labor unions, increase in cost of living, and stagnating economy. Monopoly wipes out competition, but Milton Freedman and Alan Greenspan said that monopolies are good for free markets. Standard Oil and AT&T are back in control, and Monsanto monopolizes seed production.

Media monopolies are supporting oligarchies. Nine-nine percent of the 1,500 daily newspapers are the only one in each city. All but a handful of the 11,800 cable systems are monopolies in their cities. Just a few formats dominate the 11,000 commercial radio stations in all the cities. Only a few meagerly financed public stations offer any alternative to the four commercial television networks and their affiliates. Wall Street is a prize monopoly.

The nation’s Gilded Age of a century ago was characterized by excessive corporate influence, blatant corruption, and wars that made money for huge companies. For over 35 years, the U.S. sent Marines to overthrow governments to Central America and the Caribbean because they couldn’t pay debts to Wall Street banks. The wars stopped in 1934, the year that the Glass-Steagall Act regulated Wall Street. Now the oil and weapons corporations are making money off the Middle East. Iraq’s domestic oil industry, fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies before George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion, is now largely privatized and completely dominated by foreign firms.

After decades of building the country’s infrastructure, the middle class, care for the mentally ill, and the reduction of poverty for the elderly, the government, now largely controlled by Republicans who declare gridlock if they don’t get everything they want, are killing the United States through corporate greed in prisons and wars. A century ago, Theodore Roosevelt began the great expansion of national parks; now the GOP wants to sell off all these lands. Ecological activists made inroads in the destruction of this nation until “conservatives” began to take over in the last half century.

Frances Perkins changed the United States and brought it into the 20th century; Republicans have taken this nation back to the 19th century. We need another Frances Perkins.

July 22, 2015

U.S. Justice for the Top 1 Percent

Mass media is gradually turning to the criminal (in)justice system within the past few months. One publicized tragedy is a teenager’s suicide after he was incarcerated at Rikers for three years with no trial following his arrest for allegedly stealing a backpack. When the case was finally dismissed, he was so traumatized by the years in solitary confinement and abuse that he couldn’t survive.

President Obama, the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, has recently been addressing the serious problem that the U.S. incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than any other industrialized country. The discussion about a system that imprisons almost twice as many people as two decades ago and that disproportionately jails people of color is long overdue.

prison_pop_increase

Adam Benforado is one person who has researched the differences between freedom and imprisonment—not only class and race but also juror life experience and the fatigue level of parole boards. In his new book, “Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice,” he describes the great emphasis of unreliable confessions on convictions. The Innocence Project, responsible for over 330 exonerations, found that “more than 1 out of 4 people wrongfully convicted but later exonerated by DNA evidence made a false confession or incriminating statement.” Saul Kassin, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, stated, “Once the confession is taken, it trumps everything else…its effects cannot be reversed.”

Police who initially focus on behaviors showing that a suspect lies, use methods from false ideas about body language and leading lines of questioning. Detectives ask provocative questions and then look for “jittery limbs or averted gaze.” Benforado explained that “frequently someone who’s committed a horrible crime will look you straight in the eye and tell you that they’re innocent.” Techniques  to get admissions of guilt employ coercive “good-cop, bad-cop” routines. Vulnerable people such as those with low IQs, a history of mental health problems, or with less life experience such as teenagers often make false confessions in efforts to appease interrogators. Over 80 percent of people who confess but please not guilty are convicted because the confessions are almost impossible to erase.

Even recordings can result in viewer bias. According to Benforado, the point of view can make a huge difference:

“When people watched the footage shot from the perspective of the interrogator, they tended to say, well, this looks like a completely fine, voluntary confession. But when they watch the videotape from another perspective, through the eyes essentially of the suspect, suddenly they notice all of these coercive factors. And they tended to think, well no, actually that confession cannot come into court because it is so badly influenced by the actions of the interrogator.”

Benforado also pointed out how facts have little relationship with jury verdicts. Black men typically get longer prison terms and have a higher incidence of death sentences than white men. Jurors’ backgrounds and experiences, “cultural cognition,” weigh more heavily in guilt or innocence than legalities. For example, in trials of rape date, “women who were older, who were more conservative, who adhere to more traditional gender norms, were far more likely to let the man off in this particular case than women who were liberal and younger.”

Parole boards may be the most alarming part of injustice because of how the time of day plays a big part of whether prisoners are released or returned to prison. The worst time to get a parole is before the first break of the day.

The saddest conclusion of Benforado’s study is that the legal system is primarily created by and composed of white, wealthy, highly-educated older men. At this time, white people in the United States think that they are at risk. That’s the reason that a young man went to a Bible study at a church in Charleston (SC) and killed nine people.

One major tragedy  in the United States criminal justice system is that 2,500 people in the United States were sentenced to life without parole when they were teenagers. The country will pay $4 billion to keep them there for the rest of their lives. All UN-affiliated countries in the world have signed and ratified a treaty to ban life imprisonment for juvenile offenders except for the United States, Somalia, and South Sudan.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama by a 5-4 vote that these life sentences violate the 8th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. and the court banned mandatory life sentences for minors. The ruling, however, left the decision of whether the ruling is to be applied retroactively up to individual states. Eleven states have thus far ruled in favor of retroactivity, but five have ruled against retroactivity.

One of these 2,500 juvenile lifers is Efren Paredes, who went to prison in Michigan when he was 15 and has been there for 26 years. An honor roll student with no criminal record, he was arrested but claimed that he was at home with his family watching TV when a convenience store clerk was shot and killed in a robbery. The Supreme Court announced last March to hear Toca v. Louisiana in the upcoming session that would determine whether Miller would be retroactive nationwide.

Michigan is second only to Pennsylvania in the number of juvenile lifers. According to Michigan law, teenagers as young as 15 years old are automatically tried in adult courts for murder cases, and convicted teens go directly to adult prisons. If the court rules in favor of retroactive treatment, convicts tried as juveniles must have a re-trial with the hope that a jury grants the possibility of parole because they plead their cases before a parole board. Even if the Supreme Court rules for nationwide retroactive application of Miller in Toca v. Louisiana, Parades’ parole could be in danger because he has always maintained his innocence when parole boards demand for a showing of “remorse.”

Another tragedy is that female victims of abuse are sent to juvenile detention halls that fail to treat them for mental health issues. “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story,” produced by the Human Rights Project for Girls (Washington, DC), the Center on Poverty and Equality (Georgetown University Law Center), and the Ms. Foundation, reported that girls’ involvement in juvenile justice systems nationally is “growing disproportionately” and that girls of color are especially affected.

Many infractions, such as running away from home or school truancy, should not have led to incarceration, and the Human Rights Projects for Girls is fighting for legislature that would require prompt help for sex trafficking victims who are foster-care children and expose sex trafficking of minors. Most youth are confined in facilities lacking licensed professionals as mental-health counselors. Congress could fix loopholes in treatment of girls in crisis by tying funding to federal law requirements.

The biggest sin of prisons, however, is that privatization has made prisons a chief money raiser for the top one percent in the United States. With the rise of privately-owned prisons, incarceration has become big business in America. Holding a population of over 130,000, private prisons hold about 17 percent of federal and 7 percent of state inmates, bringing over $3.3 billion in revenue to just two corporations, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, just last year. Almost half the immigrant detention population is in private prisons. Corporations fiercely lobby against any reduction in their population, whether from reductions in mandatory minimum sentencing laws, immigration reform, or drug legalization and decriminalization. There’s not much danger of losing their prisoners, however, because privately-owned prison companies usually include an occupancy level of 90 percent or above in their contracts.

Private companies are in control of extending prisoners’ sentences through doling out infractions—twice as many as government-run prisons—adding about $3,000 of costs to taxpayers per prisoner. When released, prisoners from private prisons are more likely to go back into the system. CCA has provisions in its contract to keep the most costly inmates—those with health issues—from going into its prisons. They had 14 different exclusion criteria including HIV-positive, disabled, elderly, or those with “sensitive medical conditions and/or high risk diagnoses.”

Current laws that incarcerate millions have not resulted in any greater safety for the country’s population and are a giant waste of money. Yet politicians support these failed policies because lobbyists pay them. While Chairman of the Florida House of Representatives, now-Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took $75,000 for his state campaigns, hired a former GEO trustee as economic advisor, and made sure that GEO got a $110 million contract for the state’s largest private prison facility. A federal inquiry found tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks to Florida lawmakers and ended up indicting Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom. Moving on to being a U.S. senator, Rubio pushed Florida Gov. Rick Scott to turn 27 state prisons to GEO. For that, Rubio’s PAC got $114,000 in 2011.

The U.S. is horribly over-incarcerated. The 2.4 million men, women, and children in jails and prisons are more people per capita than any nation except for Seychelles. This 700-percent increase has come since 40 years ago when the U.S. was comparable to other nations. During that time, the War on Drugs cost $1 trillion and arrested 45 million people. Imprisoning people means that they cannot get treatment for the reason behind their drug use, and the prisons resort to solitary confinement. Portugal decriminalized all drug use and now treat addition as a medical issue with humane correctional methods. Drug-use rates have markedly declined.

The criminal justice in the United States is totally skewed toward the privileged who will fight to keep the status quo because it gives them money and position.

June 2, 2015

U.S.: The Nation of Incarceration

Filed under: Incarceration — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

A major reason of the growing poverty in the United States is the nation’s fixation on imprisonment. People in prison cost money and cannot contribute to the economy. The US spends $80 billion on the big business of corrections every year, and one research project shows that the increase in incarceration during the past 35 years increased poverty by 25 percent.  There are 2.2 people in the country’s jails and prisons and another 4.5 million on probation or parole. That’s one of every 35 adults. Bill Quigley has listed reasons for this travesty with background information here.

Imprisonment isn’t about crime: the crime rate has gone up and down with no relationship to the increase in incarceration.

Police discriminate: police have targeted poor people and people of color without cause for decades. In just New York City, police annually stop 500,000 people—80 percent of them Blacks and Latinos—with no indication of any crime. In Chicago, 72 percent of the stops are Black people in a city where they compose only 32 percent.

Police racially profile during traffic stops: Black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than White drivers, and Hispanic drivers are 23 percent more likely to be pulled over than White drivers.

Police more likely ticket Black and Hispanic motorists than White drivers for the same offenses.

Police more likely search Blacks and Latinos than Whites after traffic stops.

Governments make money from traffic tickets, usually for poorer people: an example is Ferguson (MO) which gets 40 percent or more of city revenue from traffic tickets.

Poor people suffer more from traffic tickets: more well-off people simply pay the fines, but poor people who cannot afford them lose their driver’s licenses or go to jail. In California, over 4 million people lack these licenses because they have unpaid fines and fees for traffic tickets.

Black and disabled students are much more likely to be referred to the police than other kids: Blacks represent 16 percent of enrolled students but receive 27 percent of police referrals. Students with disabilities have the same problem: although they represent only 14 percent of school enrollment, they receive 26 percent of the police referrals.

Black people make up about 12 percent of the US population, but Black children represent 28 percent of juvenile arrests. 

Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than Whites although both people of both races use marijuana at the same rate. In some states, Blacks are six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than Whites. In the two decades between 1980 and 2000, the arrest rate for Blacks went from 6.5 to 29.1 per 1,000 people while the rate for Whites went from 3.4 to 4.6 per 1,000 persons.

The U.S. has much tougher drug laws and much longer sentences for drug offenses than most other countries: drug offenders receive an average sentence of 7 months in France, twelve months in England and 23 months in the US. Crimes in the U.S. would require community service in other countries or not be considered a crime at all.

The poor must remain in jail awaiting trial because they have no funds to pay bail: every day, jails hold 500,000 people who are presumed innocent but are too poor to get bail money.

Jails and prisons are used for job creation: over 3,000 local jails in the U.S. hold 500,000 people awaiting trial every day and another 200,000 convicted on minor charges. During one year, the jails process over 11.7 million people. The state and federal prisons hold about 1.5 million prisoners.

Most people in locals jails are not a threat to the population: almost 75 percent of people are in the jails for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug, or public order offenses.

Posting financial bonds for release pending trial employs about 15,000 bail bond agents for the industry that collects about $14 billion every year.

The rate of mental illness inside jails is four to six times higher than on the outside: people with severe mental illness are sent to jails although they provide almost no treatment.

Of the almost 70 percent of people in prison who meet the medical criteria for drug abuse or dependence, only 7 to 17 percent ever receive drug abuse treatment inside prison.

Presumed innocent people who are too poor, too mentally ill, or too chemically dependent are kept in jail until their trial dates. 

Poor people have to rely on public defenders, and the vast majority of people with misdemeanor charges never see a lawyer. Thirteen states don’t mandate that people have access to public defenders in misdemeanor courts. Public defenders may also have several hundred cases at one time.

Many poor people plead guilty: a review from the American Bar Association concludes that the U.S. public defender system lacks fundamental fairness and puts poor people at risk of wrongful conviction.

The police force many people, much later exonerated, to plead guilty. 

Most people in prison don’t have trials: over 95 percent of criminal cases are finished by plea bargains. The percentage of trials have shrunk because of higher sentences for those who lose trials and the power given to prosecutors.

Jail makes people worse off:  people who can’t get bail are four times more likely to receive a prison sentence than those with bail. Within the walls of jails and prisons are tens of thousands of rapes and over 4,000 murders each year.

Average prison sentences are much longer than they used to be, especially for people of color: the average time for property crimes has increased 24 percent and the time for drug crimes has gone up 36 percent since 1990.

A Black man without a high school diploma has a 70-percent chance of being imprisoned by his mid-thirties. The rate for White males without this diploma is 53 percent lower, a change since the 8-percent difference in 1980.  In New York City, Blacks are jailed at nearly 12 times the rate of Whites and Latinos more than five times the rate of Whites.

Almost 1 of 12 Black men ages 25 to 54 are in jail or prison, compared to 1 in 60 non-Black men: that is 600,000 Black men, an imprisonment rate of five times that of White men. One out of three young Black males is under the direct supervision of the criminal justice system, either incarcerated, on parole, or on probation.

Prison makes money for private businesses that lobby for greater incarceration: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) owns and runs 67 for-profit jails in 20 states with over 90,000 beds. Along with GEO (formerly Wackenhut), these two private prison companies have donated more than $10 million to candidates and spent another $25 million lobbying them. They have doubled the number of prisoners they hold over the past ten years. Contracts with most private companies require that the prisons stay between 80 and 90 percent full.

Over 159,000 people are serving life sentences in the U.S., a 400-percent increase since 1984: nearly half are Black and 1 in 6 are Latino; almost 250,000 prisoners are over age 50.

Prisoners pay exorbitant costs for telephone calls to their families, sometimes as high as $12.95 for a 15-minute calls.

The  3.9 million people on probation also make money for private companies that contract with governments to supervise them and collect debts. 

As many as 100 million people have a criminal record in the United States, and over 94 million of those records are online: people who have been arrested and convicted face serious problems getting a job, a home, public assistance, and education. More than 60 percent of people formerly incarcerated are unemployed one year after being released. Within three years of release, about two-thirds of state prisons are rearrested. Employment losses for people with criminal records have been estimated at as much as $65 billion every year.

Employers unlikely to check on the criminal history of White male applicants will check Black applicants.

Families are hurt by the prison mill because 180,000 women are subject to lifetime bans from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families after felony drug convictions.

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States is truly “exceptional.” More than half the world’s countries have incarceration rates of lower than 150 (per 100,000) while the U.S. has 764 imprisonments per 100,000 people. A nation with about 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25 percent of its prisoners. The government annually pays an average of $31,286 per inmate—New York pays $60,000.

“Today, a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty.”—Center for American Progress

June 24, 2014

Fix Our Country First

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:07 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Thirteen years ago, Bush/Cheney went to Iraq to rescue it from an oppressive dictator that the United States had installed decades earlier. Saddam Hussein may have killed 250,000 Iraqis during his 25-year reign, and the country suffered from U.S. sanctions that may have killed at least 500,000 infants.

When Bush/Cheney invaded Iraq, with no cause, it had several successful export-oriented industries such as leather goods and agricultural products that employed hundreds of thousands in fairly well-paid jobs. It had a resilient electrical, water, and highway infrastructure although sanctions were taking their toll on the infrastructure.

Iraq’s primary and higher educational system was the best in the area, and its government provided the best free health care in the Middle East. In a nation of 27 million people, it had the largest percentage of middle-class employed at three million people. Women enjoyed greater equality than any other Middle East country. And it had 2.5 million barrels of oil flowing each day that supported the country’s economic superstructure.

The invasion put oil revenues into “debt payment and reduced production by 40 percent. All government-run and oil-subsidized industrial plants were dismantling, bankrupting private industries. Commercial agriculture lost oil-financed subsidies and were destroyed by air attacks. Austerity measures removed the country’s educational and medical systems. Middle-class professionals who had belonged to the leading party were jobless or forced into exile. Their departure devastated the electrical, water, and highway infrastructure.

Eight years of war left 60-percent unemployment, sporadic electrical service, poisoned water systems, dysfunctional medical services, episodic education, and a lack of viable public or private transportation. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki auctioned oil contracts off to international oil firms. Oil production increased, but the revenue went into the U.S.-selected government ranked as the seventh most corrupt on the planet. Maliki refused any funds for reconstruction in Sunni areas and used the money for military supplies, for example paying the U.S. $4 billion in 2011 for 18 F-16 jets. Only 25 percent of people in Iraq had clean sanitation, but Lockheed’s F-16 plant in Fort Worth benefited.

Any Iraqi government staffing positions went to Shia citizens in Shia areas as Sunnis lost any jobs that they might have regained. It’s not surprising that Sunnis fought to regain oil fields, refineries, and pipelines. With increasing guerilla attacks, Maliki escalated its repression of Sunni communities and any forms of protest. Once the Sunnis regain areas, they work to begin the construction process.

The current administration seems determined to support the existing Iraq government, comprised of Shiites and excluding Sunnis. Earlier this week, I wrote that the U.S. should look to our nation’s problems with domestic terrorists instead of going back into the Middle East to “fix” Iraq. Here are nine more reasons, thanks to an article by Carl Gibson:

We have the worst health care system in the developed world. Only in the U.S. do people profit from human illness and injury. For example, the average hip replacement here costs $40,364; in Spain, it costs $7,731.

We deliberately saddle college students with a lifetime of debt servitude. Student debt has now exceeded $1.2 trillion, more than our credit card debt. Each college graduate owes an average of $30,000. The debt curtails the ability of these graduates to purchase homes or even cars. Low wages require students to use loans for basic survival as well as tuition payments.

Other countries have free tuition for higher education or, at the very least, far less expensive charges. For example, when Quebec proposed a tuition increase from $2,200 to $3,800 over a six-year period, hundreds of thousands of students took to the streets in protest.

We have an oligarchy because the rich can buy their own politicians. With a population of 310 million people, our country allows 535 people, most of them millionaires, white, and male, to make all the federal decisions. These people are purchased by even wealthier people who have far more access to legislators than actual constituents.

We punish poor people for enduring the circumstances we forced them into. After billionaires pressured homeowners into risky subprime loans, many of the people lost their homes. In just Detroit, 60,000 homeowners were forced to vacate their homes, resulting in massive urban blight. The same billionaires who sold the loans then bought the homes for pennies on the dollar and developed them into housing for the wealthy.

Detroiters who kept their homes now have to pay increasingly higher rates for water that they couldn’t afford. Detroit has already shut off water for 150,000 households and continues the practice at 1,500 to 3,000 houses per week. The U.S. system rewards the rich and penalizes the poor.

We allow a rape epidemic on our college campuses to go unchecked. At least 20 percent of women on U.S. college campuses will experience sexual assault. These are only the reported ones. In many schools, the rapist will be permitted to continue at school—sometimes even with a living assignment in the same dormitory as the victim. Traumatized victims end up dropping out of school while conservative columnists like George Will bemoan the way the victims ruin the rapists’ lives by reporting them.

We send people off to die, and don’t take care of the ones who come back alive. The recent Veterans Affairs health debacle is just the tip of the iceberg. Whenever Congress tries to address veterans’ issues, the GOP members filibuster the bills.

In 2010, Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) bill to provide aid for homeless veterans with children was filibustered by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). A bill that would have spent $1 billion to hire veterans for jobs in the public sector was filibustered by 40 senate Republicans in 2012. And just this past February, Senate Republicans once again blocked a bill aimed at providing health care and education to veterans. Neocons push to send troops into Iraq while they deny returning veterans help.

We make it profitable to systematically incarcerate poor people and minorities. Private enterprise and county governments make money off imprisoning people. They succeed with heavy patrols of low-income neighborhoods and arresting young blacks for small amounts of marijuana.

Portugal’s addiction rate has dropped by one-half in the past decade since it because treating drug addiction as a public health issue. The drug war costs U.S. taxpayers $20 billion a year as drugs become more and more available. The country has more black men in prison than the number of slaves in the Confederate South. Prisoners paid pennies for a day’s work vastly increases the profits of private enterprise. These are jobs that once created a middle class in the nation

We cut our own public services while letting billion-dollar corporations dodge taxes. Architects and engineers have given our infrastructure a “D+” because roads and bridges have fallen into disrepair. Students fall far behind those in other countries because of our refusal to invest in public education. Republicans refuse to extend unemployment compensation for the hardest-hit victims of the economy and cut the food stamp program by billions of dollars.

At the same time, major corporations pay no taxes and receive subsidies because the GOP ignores the loss of over $100 billion in tax revenue annually.

Our police forces have become unaccountable paramilitary organizations. After wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wound down, local police forces took the surplus military equipment. Municipal police departments can get tanks, drones, firepower, armor, water cannons, flash bank grenades, LRAD sound devices, and other equipment not necessary for enforcing civilian law.

Frequently, the military equipment is used to remove non-violent protesters from public spaces. The U.S. condemns countries such as Russia and Egypt for using military equipment to suppress peaceful citizen protests while detaining U.S. citizens indefinitely in military jail for flimsy accusations.

Let’s address problems in our own country before we try to “fix” any others.

April 17, 2014

Media Fails to Publish News

oregonianI tolerated The Oregonian, Portland’s newspaper, despite its conservative bent because I support newspapers. Founded in 1850, it’s the oldest continuously published newspaper on the West Coast. The newspaper went to delivery only four times a week in city areas and got thinner and thinner. I wondered why I was paying for it, but I’m a newspaper supporter. The last straw was when it switched to a tabloid image—or broadsheet format—with much more colored ink and much less news. [New format on right.]

To show my allegiance to newspapers I’ll keep Eugene’s Register Guard, but most of my news will come from the internet that gives me information that I don’t get anywhere else. Here’s a sample of news that doesn’t appear in my newspaper:

Outsourcing (or offshoring) is the biggest reason for unemployment. In 14 years, U.S. multinational corporations, accounting for 20 percent of the labor force, have cut 2.9 million jobs in this country while increasing overseas employment by 2.4 million. Offshoring is a bigger contributor to unemployment in the U.S. than laziness, the way that the GOP claims.

In 2010, the bottom 80 percent of the people had 12 percent of the net worth, two-thirds of the 18 percent they had in 1983. The top 20 percent had the remaining 88 percent in 2010, and the top 1 percent alone had 35 percent of all net worth.  This map shows the percentage of the United States that people own.

land mass

The corporate-controlled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) drafts laws and passes them to lawmakers to implement. These are some of ALEC’s laws: Stand Your Ground, voter ID, right to work that eliminates unions, health savings account bills to benefit health care companies, and tobacco company privileges.

The United States has more people in prison than any other country. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. China, with a population four times the size of the U.S., has 1.6 million people in prison—700,000 fewer than the 2.3 in the U.S. That’s more than 6 and a half times the 350,00 prisoners in the U.S. 40 years ago

incarcerated_americans_zpsb7c891bd

In 2009, non-Hispanic blacks, 13.6% of the population, accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. At the same time, whites accounted for 69.2 percent of arrests in 2011.

U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world at $8,233 per person. Norway is second at $5,388. The percentage of GDP is also much higher in the U.S., 17.6 percent in the U.S. with the next country, the Netherlands, at 12 percent.

After the Wall Street crash in 1929, the Glass-Steagall Act protected the people in the country for 66 years. It separated risky financial investments from government-backed deposits by stopping banks from using federally-insured savings to make risky investment. Without this separation, taxpayers cover the cost of losses from risky investments. In 1999, the Act was overturned in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Less than ten years later the country went into a deep recession that continues because of Wall Street’s control.

The GOP sweep of over half the states in the country allowed them to rearrange congressional districts after the 2010 census. The Republican Redistricting Majority Project was so successful that they could take over the House of Representatives with fewer Republican than Democratic votes. In 2012, 1.4 million more votes came from Democrats than Republicans, but the GOP took the House by 234 to 201 seats. Through gerrymandering, GOP state legislators redrew districts in Arizona, Florida, Michigan North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia with the goal of putting Democrats into just a few districts. In North Carolina, 51 percent of the state voted Democratic, but the state sent 9 Republicans to the House as compared to only 4 Democrats. In the same way, these Republican legislators keep their seat although the majority of voters oppose them.

votes

The new majority in a Senate of 100 is now 60. President Obama’s first term saw a record number of filibusters, and 375 bills didn’t even come to a vote in the Senate because GOP members just threatened to filibuster. During the first six months of 2013, Congress passed only 15 bills that were signed into law. This is 8 fewer than the first six months of 2012 and 19 fewer than 2011. When Senate Democrats threatened to reform the filibuster, the GOP had held up 79 nominees for the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal despite their qualifications.

Nixon’s Southern Strategy was designed to gain political power by exploiting the greatest number of ethnic prejudices. In 1970, Kevin Philips, Republican and Nixon campaign strategist, believed that the GOP couldn’t get more than 10 to 20 percent of the black vote but that would be enough to elect Republicans. He said:

“Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

The GOP used this strategy in 2008 and 2012 when it attacked Medicaid, Social Security, labor unions, and Obamacare. These programs benefit more white seniors, retirees, women, and children, but Republicans have convinced many in the United States that they are handouts to lazy, undeserving blacks and minorities. That’s the reason that GOP legislators and candidates continue to fight these programs although the majority of their constituents benefit from them. 

GOP tax plans shift the tax burden from the wealthy and onto working people. For example, when Ohio repealed the estate tax, the only people who benefits were those with estates bigger than $338,000. GOP wants to change from income to consumption taxes because the latter are paid primarily by people who earn the least. The GOP keeps capital gain taxes low, 20 percent, instead of the 39.6 percent top rate of other income for the wealthy. Despite their belief that they refuse to raise taxes, Republicans were comfortable with letting the payroll tax expire because these are only for the first $117,000 of wages.

shares of taxes

The United States has lost 40-50 percent of the country’s commercial bee hives this year because of colony collapse disorder. This is important because one-fourth of food in the country depends on honeybee pollination. Instead, the media typically reports something like this: “Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses.” The loss of bees is connected to toxic chemicals in pesticides from Bayer and Monsanto. Acting like a nerve agent, the main chemical compromises a bee’s ability to feed and make its way back to its hive. These chemicals have long been banned in Europe.

The number of temporary workers has grown by more than 50 percent to almost 2.7 million since the recession ended. Including freelancers, contract workers, and consultants raises the number to almost 17 million workers who not directly employed by the companies who hire them. That’s 12 percent of the workforce. Temporary workers receive low pay, fewer benefits, and almost no job security. Because they cannot spend as freely as permanent workers, the economy suffers.

In 2011, only 22 percent of the people had heard of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. A 2013 Gallup poll showed 79 percent of Americans want restrictions on campaign contributions to House and Senate candidates. Also 50 percent support a publicly funded campaign finance system with private contributions completely eliminated. The McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court decisions that put far fewer restrictions on campaign contributions was far more widely announced this spring. The media need to keep talking and writing about a decision that has made the United States an oligarchy, owned by the wealthy, just like Ukraine.

Six corporations–Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS–control about 90% of the media in the U.S. They want to make money so they use the guidelines, “if it bleeds, it leads.” They print what Democrats and Republicans say but not any facts. They skip “dangerous” facts about global warming, peak oil, population growth, political lobbying, defense spending, etc. Public broadcasting, including NPR, is becoming farther right as people like the Koch brothers buy the media organization. When two comedy shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, have more news than the so-called news shows, people are not receiving the news.

August 7, 2013

Liberal Media Would Publish This News

Conservatives moan about the liberal media and praise the lying Fox Network for giving them the facts. Daily Kos has published 15 items that a truly liberal media would publish, news that is not made public in mainstream media.

Off shoring, sometimes called outsourcing is the reason for unemployment instead of the conservative claim of laziness. U.S. multinational corporations have increased employment overseas by 2.4 million while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the United States, and they account for only about 20 percent of the labor force.

In 2010, 20% of the people held approximately 88% of the net worth in the U.S., and the bottom 80 percent of the people held only 12 percent of net worth. The top 1% alone held 35% of all net worth. The bottom 80 percent has lost one-third of its net worth since 1983. The following chart illustrates the great discrepancy in net worth within the country.

if land mass were divided

One group controlled by corporate organizations drafts conservative laws and then distributes them to legislatures. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is responsible for the nation’s laws of stand your ground, voter ID, right to work without rights, school privatizing, health savings account bills to benefit health care companies, tobacco industry legislation, and more. ALEC is meeting in Chicago this weekend to hand legislation to lawmakers before they go back into session.

The U. S. has the most people in prison of any country in the world. This nation has 5 percent of the world’s population but incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. 2.3 criminals. China has four times the number of people with 1.6 million people in prison.  Crime rate declined by 25 percent in the U.S. between 1988 to 2008 while the number of prisoners rose from 350,000 in 1972 to 2.3 prisoners.

incarcerated_americans_zpsb7c891bd

In 2009, non-Hispanic blacks, while only 13.6% of the population, accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. In 2011, according to FBI statistics, whites accounted for 69.2% of arrests. This is in a supposedly “post-racial” time.

U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world at $8,233. Norway is second with $5,388. The U.S. total amount of GDP spent on health care is also the highest of any country in the world at 17.6 percent. The next closest country is the Netherlands at 12%. Conservatives claim that a competitive market will bring prices down, but obviously it doesn’t.

The Glass-Steagall Act separated risky financial investments from government backed deposits for 66 years after the crash of the market in 1929 . Banks could not take your federally insured savings to make risky investments. The law’s repeal in 1999  allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate with no conflict of interest from anyone. The loss of Glass-Steagall led to the recession in 2008 and continues to cause financial problems for everyone except corporations and the wealthiest people. And it’s only getting worse.

Since the 1980s, the bank deregulation has grown into a legal scam as they purchase commodities such as aluminum, oil, wheat, cotton and coffee as well as oil pipelines, ports, and energy distributors and drive up prices. For example, oil speculation may account for one-third of the price of a barrel of oil, costing $10 for each fill-up at the pump.

With the overwhelming conservative takeover of many states in the 2010 election, Republicans were able to redraw national congressional districts to rig the election of a majority of GOP members of the House. In the districts across the nation, Democrats gained more than 1.4 million votes than Republicans, yet the GOP has control of the House with a majority of 234 to 201 seats. Redistricting won’t happen again until 2020 after the census, leaving the GOP to probably control the House until the people they represent understand that they are not benefited by their Republican representatives. [photo]

gerrymandering

The filibuster has been used a record number of time since Obama was elected President. From 2008-2012, 375 bills weren’t even allowed to come to a vote in the Senate because Republicans threatened the filibuster. Far more were probably not even introduced because of the filibuster threat. In the first six months of 2013, Congress has passed only 15 bills that were signed into law, eight fewer than in the first 6 months of 2012 and 19 fewer than 2011. Until the Democrats in the Senate threatened to reform the filibuster, the GOP held up 79 of President Obama’s nominees for the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal regardless of qualifications.

Corporations now have excessive control over elections because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. In a 2011 poll, only 22 percent of people had heard of this ruling until they took the survey. Although 77 percent of the people think that corporations have more control over the political process than people, they don’t know why.

The Southern Strategy, exploiting ethnic prejudice, gained its popularity and name from President Richard Nixon’s campaign strategist, Kevin Philips. His position was to get blacks to register as Democrats in the South so that the whites would move to the Republican party. By 1908, the percentage of minorities was so high, however, that Republicans had to create punitive voting laws. In addition, the GOP attacked Medicaid, Social Security, labor unions, and Obamacare–programs which, though they benefit more white seniors, retirees, women, and children, have been sold to many Americans as handouts to lazy, undeserving blacks and minorities. As H.R. Haldeman’s diary quoted Nixon:

“P [President] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

U.S. tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy. A progressive tax program is designed to tax people very little as they are starting out and progressively increase their rates as they do better. Republican plans shift the tax burden from the wealthy onto working people. For example, the Ohio GOP repealed the estate tax for the portion of estates over $338,000. Other states such as North Carolina want to transfer from income taxes to consumption taxes that increase the percentage of taxes paid by the poorest people. Capital gain taxes are only 20 percent instead of the rate of other income which is closer to 35 percent.

Colony collapse disorder caused the loss of 40-50 percent of commercial U.S. bee hives. Although most people care little about this loss, one-fourth of our food depends on honeybee pollination. In Texas, though, the media address bees in this fashion: “Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses.”

The number of temporary workers has grown by more than 50 percent since the recession ended to nearly 2.7 million. Temporary workers comprise 12 percent of the workforce, 17 million workers. About one-third of these are in manufacturing. Because they get lower pay, fewer benefits, and extremely limited job security, they spend less freely and fail to boost the economy. Economists think that this is a long-term trend.

Six corporations–Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS–control roughly 90% of the media in the U.S. Watch for the stories following the hook of “if it bleeds, it leads”—such as the man who used a SUV to run over people at the Venice beach in California. Or the attention to the Fort Hood trial as the shooter acts as his own lawyer and questions witnesses. Also the way that the media reports what politicians say but don’t bother to fact-check the statements.

One that is missing from the above list is the GOP’s refusal to increase the minimum wage, not even to match what it was over 40 years ago. The following map shows how many hours of minimum wage work are required to just rent an apartment.

hours needed apartment

What’s missing is reporting about population growth, political lobbying, government’s role, military expenditures, rape on campuses, privatization of prisons and schools, gun violence, nuclear energy—the list goes on and on.

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: