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Member since: Sat Jun 23, 2012, 06:03 PM
Number of posts: 2,585

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Solitary Confinement is a Whole Other Monster Especially for Juvenile Offenders

A correctional facility is a difficult situation to be in, but solitary confinement is a whole other monster. There’s no getting away from the pounding sounds resonating endlessly, the animalistic cries coming from all ends of the unit, and the pained screams of frustration gone ignored by the correctional officers.

Granted, solitary confinement was created for a reason. However, if a juvenile offender was deemed a risk to the safety of other inmates or prison staff, the corrections officers were instructed to use all force necessary to stop whatever dangerous behavior the juvenile offender was engaging in and place them in solitary confinement. To be surrounded by those sounds for 22 hours or more a day, locked in a small cell with little to no light of day behind a steel door, and for months or years at a time is cruel and inhumane.

Isolation can cause serious psychological, physical and developmental harm to these young offenders, often times leading to the development of serious mental health issues and attempts of suicide. The psychological impact of solitary confinement is so great, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry even published a policy statement on the topic, saying that the consequences of solitary confinement on juvenile offenders, due to their developmental vulnerability, include depression, anxiety and psychosis and put them at risk of adverse reactions."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri May 22, 2015, 02:28 PM (1 replies)

Clock winds down on key NSA surveillance law – live updates

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri May 22, 2015, 11:57 AM (0 replies)

Prisons for profit

Many voters are familiar with political payola. For instance, Big Corporation’s crony capitalism: Big Pharma’s 12 percent R&D (Research and Development) and 18 percent net-profit with copycat drugs; and Big Banking’s Federal Reserve System with its quantitative easing.

For the Republican Party of Florida, there is a new way to game the system. It is the private prison industry that has become one of the major financial contributors to the Republican Party’s ample coffers. Apparently, the incarceration and oppression of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens plays second fiddle to the party’s need for corporate sponsors.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is one of its biggest beneficiaries. Rubio’s history of close ties to the nation’s second largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretches back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. During that period, GEO was awarded a state contract for $110 million. GEO and Corrections Corp. of America now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to the Justice Policy Institute. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 from GEO. "

*The Republican Party of Florida PAC (Political Action Committee) has received nearly $2.5 million from GEO and Corrections Corps. of America since 1989."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Fri May 22, 2015, 12:27 AM (2 replies)

Girl Scouts welcomes transgender girls

(CNN)Transgender girls are welcome in the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, a stance that has attracted controversy from some conservative groups over the past week.

"Our position is not new," said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts USA's chief girl expert. "It conforms with our continuous commitment to inclusivity."

*Claiming that Girl Scouts has lost its "moral compass," the American Family Association created an online petition on May 13 to ask the organization to restrict its membership to "biological girls." It's attracted more than 38,000 e-signatures as of Wednesday.

A day after the petition was created, Archibald wrote a blog post citing Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low as the source of diversity that is essential to the organization.

"Our mission to build 'girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place' extends to all members, and through our program, girls develop the necessary leadership skills to advance diversity and promote tolerance," Archibald wrote.

The Girl Scouts' stance means that one of the most popular activities for girls is clearly accessible to transgender girls, said Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Children, Youth & Families program, which focuses on LGBT rights.

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu May 21, 2015, 08:56 PM (6 replies)

Police brutality’s end starts with cops, not black people

Maybe some people didn’t understand the question.

It was posed in this space a few weeks ago by Tracy, a 55-year-old white woman from Texas who says she is sick and tired of the mounting litany of police violence against unarmed African-American boys and men. She wanted to know what actions she, as an average person, might take to help bring about change. “What can I do?” she asked.

I thought the question so powerful and poignant that I decided to devote a series of columns to answering it. I invited readers to offer answers of their own."

It will be some time deep in summer before I finish digging out from under the 700-plus e-mails that poured in as a result. Many brought intriguing and creative suggestions — civilian review boards, policy changes, body cameras — that we’ll discuss in future columns. But many other readers thought the answer lies with black people improving their behavior.

One, for instance, decried a “breakdown of the black family.”

Another wrote, “Always obey, no matter what, a police officer.”

Still another advised: “Stop fornicating. Live a conservative lifestyle.”

Coincidentally enough, as I was reading these e-mails, police in Dover, Delaware, were releasing dashcam video of a 2013 incident in which Cpl. Thomas Webster, responding to a call of a fight at a gas station, rolls up on Lateef Dickerson, who is standing there with his hands raised. Webster orders him to the ground. As Dickerson, a 30-year-old black man, is complying, Webster kicks him in the face, breaking his jaw and knocking him unconscious."

*n a nation where those naive assumptions are common, who can be surprised that indictments and convictions of bad cops are rare? In such a nation, the brazen misbehavior of a Cpl. Webster becomes not simply predictable, but inevitable. So it’s deeply frustrating that some of us believe police brutality can be fixed by African-American self-improvement.

You will never solve any problem you can’t even bring yourself to face."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu May 21, 2015, 01:01 PM (0 replies)

How Dead Voters Could Determine the 2016 Election

Ask a political pundit about the demographics of the U.S.’s major parties and most would admit that the Republicans are an aging bunch. However, fewer talk about how the natural progression of aging is dying. It’s no liberal conspiracy: Republicans are dying and it’s starting to look like it will significantly impair the GOP’s chances of winning a presidential election anytime soon.

Politico reporter Daniel McGraw decided to crunch the numbers using existing voter information and life expectancy figures. McGraw’s data suggests that 2.75 million voters for Mitt Romney in 2012 will be dead by the next presidential election. By comparison, only 2.3 million Barack Obama voters will be dead. That’s a net loss of nearly half a million voters for the Republican Party.

As old voters die, new voters come of age. Unfortunately for the GOP, new voters are not registering as Republicans at equivalent rates to the dearly departed. New and young voters are almost twice as likely to identify as liberal, meaning that the Democratic Party is gaining more ground in the presidential election with each passing year. The circle of life is not favorable for conservative politics."

*Although the Republican Party is not likely to die off along with its voters thanks to its stronghold on dozens of solidly red states, this overall nationwide trend is going to make a conservative presidential run increasingly difficult – at least without making some serious changes."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed May 20, 2015, 01:15 PM (3 replies)

Was students' police brutality art inappropriate for school show?

Artwork depicting scenes of police brutality displayed in a Westfield High School art show set off a firestorm of comments last week from police supporters who called the images "a gross misrepresentation," "ignorant" and "one-sided."

Others said the artwork shouldn't be censored and felt it was fair to solicit the perceptions of the students."

The school has stood behind the teacher and the project. Westfield Superintendent Margaret Dolan has said the teacher was encouraging students to look at more than one side of an issue.

The story also resonated with our readers who wrote in more than 1,000 comments.

Here, a sampling of what readers had to say. Some comments have been edited for length."

"The teacher that allowed this should be fired. Any artwork for a kids art show shouldn't depict violence, sex or drugs. The place for that art is in adult world."

" I applaud the Superintendent for sticking up for the freedom for students to express opinions. It wasn't meant to say all police are bad, but was a reflection of what is happening across the nation."


Posted by damnedifIknow | Tue May 19, 2015, 12:32 PM (11 replies)

Let's stop saying bad police officers are rare. Fact is they're plentiful from coast to coast.

A regular refrain from politicians who speak on the issue of police brutality is that bad police officers, be they corrupt or brutal or racist or sexist, are rare. If by rare, we mean that it is rare for a police officer to be convicted for brutality or corruption or anything else, then yes, you are right, convictions are outrageously rare. Only about 1% of police officers who kill someone are ever convicted for misconduct of any kind, even though the evidence routinely and overwhelmingly shows that police misconduct far outpaces convictions.

I'd like to suggest three new ways for you to consider just how widespread police brutality and corruption and ugliness truly are in the United States.

1. The ugliness knows no geographical or political boundaries. It's truly nationwide.

Not including police departments that are currently being investigated, such as the Baltimore Police Department, the Justice Department currently has enforced agreements in which it was forced to intervene in widespread problems with police departments and jails and juvenile detention centers in almost every state in the country.

Often thought to be the most liberal big city in America, the San Francisco Police Department, while being investigated for corruption, was also found to have a deep and horrendous problem with racism.

The same thing happened in Ft. Lauderdale.

And in Miami.

And Ohio.

And Baton Rouge.

And New Jersey.

And Georgia.

And, of course, Ferguson.

*For millions of Americans, this issue is the most important issue in our nation. It's time we act like it."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Sat May 16, 2015, 10:30 AM (51 replies)

Rise Of Robot Pets Seen In An Overpopulated World

The prospect of robopets and virtual pets is not as far-fetched as we may think, according to University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Dr Jean-Loup Rault.

His paper in the latest edition of Frontiers in Veterinary Science argues pets will soon become a luxury in an overpopulated world and the future may lie in chips and circuits that mimic the real thing.

“It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” Dr Rault said.

“It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think. If you’d described Facebook to someone 20 years ago, they’d think you were crazy. But we are already seeing people form strong emotional bonds with robot dogs in Japan.

“Pet robotics has come a long way from the Tamagotchi craze of the mid-90s. In Japan, people are becoming so attached to their robot dogs that they hold funerals for them when the circuits die.”


Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu May 14, 2015, 10:32 AM (12 replies)

A Trade Deal Read In Secret By Only Few (Or Maybe None)

Senate leaders were all smiles Wednesday after they broke a 24-hour impasse and announced they had reached a deal on how to move forward on a fast-track trade negotiating bill. That legislation would give the president expedited authority to enter into a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries, otherwise known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

But how senators will vote on this bill depends largely on how they feel about TPP. And there's one problem.

"I bet that none of my colleagues have read the entire document. I would bet that most of them haven't even spent a couple hours looking at it," said Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who has acknowledged he has yet to read every single page of the trade agreement."

*To study the draft TPP language, senators have to go to the basement of the Capitol and enter a secured, sound-proof room. There, they surrender their cell phones and other mobile devices, and sit under the watchful gaze of an official from the U.S. Trade Representative's office while they peruse the pages. Any notes taken inside the room must be left in the room.

Only aides with high-level security clearances can accompany lawmakers. Members of Congress can't ask outside industry experts or lawyers to analyze the language. They can't talk to the public about what they read. And Brown says there's no computer inside the secret room to look something up when there's confusion. You just consult the USTR official.

"There is more access in most cases to CIA and Defense Department and Iran sanctions documents — better access to congressional staff and others — than for this trade agreement," said Brown."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Thu May 14, 2015, 09:22 AM (1 replies)
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