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Member since: Fri Sep 8, 2006, 12:47 PM
Number of posts: 13,850

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Why Are Educators Learning How to Interrogate Their Students?


About a year and a half ago, Jessica Schneider was handed a flyer by one of her colleagues in the child-advocacy community. It advertised a training session, offered under the auspices of the Illinois Principals Association (I.P.A.), in how to interrogate students. Specifically, teachers and school administrators would be taught an abbreviated version of the Reid Technique, which is used across the country by police officers, private-security personnel, insurance-fraud investigators, and other people for whom getting at the truth is part of the job. Schneider, who is a staff attorney at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was alarmed. She knew that some psychologists and jurists have characterized the technique as coercive and liable to produce false confessions—especially when used with juveniles, who are highly suggestible. When she expressed her concerns to Brian Schwartz, the I.P.A.’s general counsel, he said that the association had been offering Reid training for many years and found it both popular and benign. To prove it, he invited Schneider to attend a session in January of 2015.

The training was led by Joseph Buckley, the president of John E. Reid and Associates, which is based in Chicago. Like the adult version of the Reid Technique, the school version involves three basic parts: an investigative component, in which you gather evidence; a behavioral analysis, in which you interview a suspect to determine whether he or she is lying; and a nine-step interrogation, a nonviolent but psychologically rigorous process that is designed, according to Reid’s workbook, “to obtain an admission of guilt.” Most of the I.P.A. session, Schneider told me, focussed on behavioral analysis. Buckley described to trainees how patterns of body language—including slumping, failing to look directly at the interviewer, offering “evasive” responses, and showing generally “guarded” behaviors—could supposedly reveal whether a suspect was lying. (Some of the cues were downright mythological—like, for instance, the idea that individuals look left when recalling the truth and right when trying to fabricate.) Several times during the session, Buckley showed videos of interrogations involving serious crimes, such as murder, theft, and rape. None of the videos portrayed young people being questioned for typical school misbehavior, nor did any of the Reid teaching materials refer to “students” or “kids.” They were always “suspects” or “subjects.”

Laura Nirider, a professor of law at Northwestern University and the project director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, attended the same session as Schneider. She told me that about sixty people were there. “Everybody was on the edge of their seat: ‘So this is how we can learn to get the drop on little Billy for writing graffiti on the underside of the lunchroom table,’” she said. One vice-principal told Nirider that the first thing he does when he interrogates students is take away their cell phones, “so they can’t call their mothers.”

The training included tricks to provoke a response that might indicate guilt. One was the punishment question: “What do you think should happen to the person who did this?” Schneider recorded in her notes that an innocent person will give a draconian answer, such as, “They should be suspended/expelled/fired.” A deceptive person will equivocate: “That depends on why they did it.” Another question involves baiting the subject with supposedly incriminating evidence. For example, you might falsely suggest that the school had surveillance cameras at the scene of the infraction and see how the student reacts. At one point in the workbook, the phrase “Handling tears” appears, with a blank space underneath for trainees to take down Buckley’s dictation. “Don’t stop,” Schneider wrote in her notes. “Tears are the beginning of a confession. Use congratulatory statement—‘Glad to see those tears, because it tells me that you’re sorry, aren’t you?’ ” Buckley’s only caveat during the session, according to Nirider and Schneider, was that children under the age of ten should not be interrogated. “It was pretty horrifying,” Schneider told me.
Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Tue Apr 5, 2016, 12:44 AM (5 replies)

The Blue State Model: How the Democrats Created a "Liberalism of the Rich"

In this excerpt from his new book "Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" Thomas Frank explains what's happened in my own state, Massachusetts:


Let’s go to Boston, Massachusetts, the spiritual homeland of the professional class and a place where the ideology of modern liberalism has been permitted to grow and flourish without challenge or restraint. As the seat of American higher learning, it seems unsurprising that Boston should anchor one of the most Democratic of states, a place where elected Republicans (like the new governor) are highly unusual. This is the city that virtually invented the blue-state economic model, in which prosperity arises from higher education and the knowledge-based industries that surround it...

...At a 2014 celebration of Governor Patrick’s innovation leadership, Google’s Eric Schmidt announced that “if you want to solve the economic problems of the U.S., create more entrepreneurs.” That sort of sums up the ideology in this corporate commonwealth: Entrepreneurs first. But how has such a doctrine become holy writ in a party dedicated to the welfare of the common man? And how has all this come to pass in the liberal state of Massachusetts?

The answer is that I’ve got the wrong liberalism. The kind of liberalism that has dominated Massachusetts for the last few decades isn’t the stuff of Franklin Roosevelt or the United Auto Workers; it’s the Route 128/suburban-professionals variety. (Senator Elizabeth Warren is the great exception to this rule.) Professional-class liberals aren’t really alarmed by oversized rewards for society’s winners. On the contrary, this seems natural to them -- because they are society’s winners. The liberalism of professionals just does not extend to matters of inequality; this is the area where soft hearts abruptly turn hard.

Innovation liberalism is “a liberalism of the rich,” to use the straightforward phrase of local labor leader Harris Gruman. This doctrine has no patience with the idea that everyone should share in society’s wealth. What Massachusetts liberals pine for, by and large, is a more perfect meritocracy -- a system where the essential thing is to ensure that the truly talented get into the right schools and then get to rise through the ranks of society. Unfortunately, however, as the blue-state model makes painfully clear, there is no solidarity in a meritocracy. The ideology of educational achievement conveniently negates any esteem we might feel for the poorly graduated.

Lots more at the above link, and well worth the read.
Walter Benn Michaels said much the same thing in his "Let Them Eat Diversity":


Walter Benn Michaels: The differentiation between left and right neoliberalism doesn’t really undermine the way it which it is deeply unified in its commitment to competitive markets and to the state’s role in maintaining competitive markets. For me the distinction is that “left neoliberals” are people who don’t understand themselves as neoliberals. They think that their commitments to anti-racism, to anti-sexism, to anti-homophobia constitute a critique of neoliberalism. But if you look at the history of the idea of neoliberalism you can see fairly quickly that neoliberalism arises as a kind of commitment precisely to those things....

...First, there isn’t a single US corporation that doesn’t have an HR office committed to respecting the differences between cultures, to making sure that your culture is respected whether or not your standard of living is. And, second, multiculturalism and diversity more generally are even more effective as a legitimizing tool, because they suggest that the ultimate goal of social justice in a neoliberal economy is not that there should be less difference between the rich and the poor—indeed the rule in neoliberal economies is that the difference between the rich and the poor gets wider rather than shrinks—but that no culture should be treated invidiously and that it’s basically OK if economic differences widen as long as the increasingly successful elites come to look like the increasingly unsuccessful non-elites. So the model of social justice is not that the rich don’t make as much and the poor make more, the model of social justice is that the rich make whatever they make, but an appropriate percentage of them are minorities or women. That’s a long answer to your question, but it is a serious question and the essence of the answer is precisely that internationalization, the new mobility of both capital and labor, has produced a contemporary anti-racism that functions as a legitimization of capital rather than as resistance or even critique.

I often make the joke that Wellesley (AKA Swellesley) was a place that was open and
affirming of all wealthy people, regardless of race, sex, gender orientation, or religion.

How true it is...

Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Sat Apr 2, 2016, 05:11 AM (8 replies)

Appeals Court: No stingrays without a warrant, explanation to judge


Appeals Court: No stingrays without a warrant, explanation to judge
Police also barred from shrouding stingray use in ridiculous NDAs.

On Wednesday, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals published a legal opinion
finding that state police must not only obtain a warrant before deploying a cell-site simulator, but are required to also fully explain to the court what exactly the device does and how it is used.

As Ars has long reported, cell-site simulators—known colloquially as stingrays, can be used to determine a mobile phone’s location by spoofing a cell tower. In some cases, stingrays can intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity. At times, police have falsely claimed the use of a confidential informant when they have actually deployed these particularly sweeping and intrusive surveillance tools...

...In an e-mail to Ars, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Nathan Wessler called Wednesday's opinion the "first appellate opinion in the country to fully address the question of whether police must disclose their intent to use a cell site simulator to a judge and obtain a probable cause warrant."

"The court’s opinion is a resounding defense of Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age," he continued. "The court’s withering rebuke of secret and warrantless use of invasive cell phone tracking technology shows why it is so important for these kinds of privacy invasions to be subjected to judicial review. Other courts will be able to look to this opinion as they address rampant use of cell site simulators by police departments across the country."

Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:31 AM (1 replies)

Lexington (Massachusetts) man backs off proposed town ban on ‘assault weapons’


A Lexington man who proposed a local ban on “assault weapons” has switched gears after polling his fellow Town Meeting members, and will instead move forward with a nonbinding resolution urging state legislators to strengthen Massachusetts gun laws...

...About 150 gun advocates from Lexington and across the state spoke out at a Board of Selectmen’s meeting earlier this month against Rotberg’s proposal to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons in town...

...But after hearing from about half of the town’s 201 elected Town Meeting members in an informal survey, Rotberg found that while some wanted to press forward with the ban, a “more sizable and vocal group wanted no part of the motion as presented.”

The disinterested reader will note the proposed bylaw got little support and
was opposed 30-2 by speakers at the earlier meeting:


Once again, the purported 'silent majority' that supposedly wants more gun control turns
out to not actually exist...
Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Wed Mar 23, 2016, 12:43 AM (2 replies)

GOP Politicians Planned And Participated In Key Aspects Of Refuge Occupation


On a cold January morning, a posse led by a former Army company commander named Matt Shea rolled into the Harney County Courthouse and wanted to speak to the sheriff.

But this wasn’t a group of militants, or outlaws. They were state lawmakers from four western states, including Oregon. Most of them were members of a group called the Coalition of Western States, or COWS...

...They were hoping to talk directly with Sheriff David Ward and convince him to support the armed militants at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Instead, COWS members would meet that day with a Harney County deputy and a sheriff from another county, an FBI agent and other local officials...

...COWS representatives visited the refuge, which was closed to the public. The lawmakers acknowledge they fed the militants information gathered from that meeting, and militant leaders talked openly about what they learned from those disclosures.

Can we say "RICO act violations"? Good! I *knew* we could.
Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Fri Mar 18, 2016, 10:03 PM (7 replies)

It Took a FOIA Lawsuit to Uncover How the Obama Administration Killed FOIA Reform


By Jason Leopold
March 9, 2016 | 9:50 am

The Obama administration has long called itself the most transparent administration in history. But newly released Department of Justice (DOJ) documents show that the White House has actually worked aggressively behind the scenes to scuttle congressional reforms designed to give the public better access to information possessed by the federal government.

The documents were obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports journalism in the public interest, which in turn shared them exclusively with VICE News. They were obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — the same law Congress was attempting to reform. The group sued the DOJ last December after its FOIA requests went unanswered for more than a year.

The documents confirm longstanding suspicions about the administration's meddling, and lay bare for the first time how it worked to undermine FOIA reform bills that received overwhelming bipartisan support and were unanimously passed by both the House and Senate in 2014 — yet were never put up for a final vote.

Moreover, a separate set of documents obtained by VICE News in response to a nearly two-year-old FOIA request provides new insight into how the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also tried to disrupt Congress's FOIA reform efforts, which would have required those agencies to be far more transparent when responding to records requests.

Those documents can be found at the following link (*.pdf files):

Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Sun Mar 13, 2016, 08:19 PM (8 replies)

"An A-to-Z Guide to Bullshit Alternative Medicine on YouTube"

A very, very funny piece with some truly jaw-droppingly stupid videos:

Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Sat Mar 5, 2016, 09:48 PM (2 replies)

Zika is expected to infect 1 in 5 Puerto Ricans, raising threat to rest of U.S.

Source: Washington Post

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Zika has landed forcefully in America, in one of its poorest and most vulnerable corners, a debt-ridden territory lacking a functioning health-care system, window screens and even a spray that works against the mosquitoes spreading the virus in homes, workplaces, schools and parks.

There are 117 confirmed cases of the virus in Puerto Rico, four times the number at the end of January. The island territory, which has a population of 3.5 million people, is “by far the most affected area” in the United States, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Friday. The number will almost certainly rise sharply in coming weeks, making it ever more likely that the virus will spread to the continental United States...

The growing outbreak has laid bare how deeply Puerto Rico’s debt crisis has cut public programs, including basic health and environmental control services needed to fight the virus. Most homes and public schools — and even some medical facilities — don’t have window screens. A specialist in birth defects at Puerto Rico’s top hospital has trouble obtaining basic supplies, such as toner for his office printer. There are hundreds of abandoned houses — not only in low- and middle-income neighborhoods but also in gated communities — because owners have fled to the mainland as a result of the economic crisis.

...Experts say urgent action is needed before mosquitoes reach their peak with the start of the rainy season in April. Experts from the CDC estimate that 700,000 people — about 20 percent of the population — could be infected across the island by the end of the year, based on previous outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya, related viral diseases.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/zika-is-expected-to-infect-1-in-5-puerto-ricans-raising-threat-to-rest-of-us/2016/02/29/c1288e30-db62-11e5-891a-4ed04f4213e8_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_zikapuertorico_2pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Scary stuff.

If this article is correct, expect the number of Zika cases to explode in Florida over the next year-
they've already had scattered outbreaks of dengue fever, which is spread by the same
mosquito species, Aedes aegypti
Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Tue Mar 1, 2016, 01:29 AM (6 replies)

Sail (Far) Away: At Sea with America's Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists


Amongst the other ...colorful... characters, look who else showed up:

Most notably, there was Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who authored the now-infamous 1998 study that suggested there might be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Jenny McCarthy was breathed into being because of Andrew Wakefield.

The wider world hasn’t been kind to Wakefield, who lost his medical license in 2010 and is widely described as a one-man public health disaster. Here, though, he was treated as a battle-scarred hero. The room hung on his every word.

“One in two children will have autism by 2032,” he told us, to horrified gasps. “We are facing dark times. The government and the pharmaceutical industry own your bodies and the bodies of your children.”

“There are no exemptions anymore,” Sean David Morton piped in. “Not even if you’re Jewish. But I think Obama made an exception for Muslims.” He switched into what may have been an impression of someone with an Arabic accent: “Ay yi yi!”

Lots more of Wakefield's BS at the link. An interesting read, but your brain will hurt after you read it...
Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Sat Feb 27, 2016, 01:56 AM (4 replies)

Lawmakers Debate Ban on Firearms in Maine Subsidized Housing


Lawmakers Debate Ban on Firearms in Maine Subsidized Housing

Second amendment rights clashed with property owners' rights at the Maine State House Wednesday afternoon, with lawmakers considering a bill that prevents landlords from banning handguns in subsidized housing properties.

Republican State Sen. Andre Cushing sponsored the bill after an incident in Rockland last fall.

Harvey Lembo, an elderly and disabled man, was the victim of several home invasions and robberies. He bought a gun to defend himself, and days later, used it on an intruder. The property management company told Lembo to surrender the gun or be evicted. It was against the policy in the subsidized housing to have firearms...

..."Tenants routinely give up rights when they move into an apartment building," said Bill Harwood, founder of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.

What other rights do they give up, Mr. Harwood? The rights to:

Free practice of religion?
The right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures?

Lembo is suing his landlord, and I hope he wins big time.
Posted by friendly_iconoclast | Thu Feb 25, 2016, 03:34 PM (4 replies)
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