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Pennsylvania Replaced Prison Mail With Photocopies. Inmates and Their Families Are Heartbroken.

And they worry a private company is holding copies of their letters for far too long.

DECEMBER 13, 2018 6:00 AM

Ever since his daughter first learned to use a pen, Joseph Onzik has looked forward to her letters. He reads them from a cell in a state prison in Pennsylvania, where he’s been locked up for about five years, since she was three. “I ask her to write me as much as possible,” he says. It “has advanced from scribble to cursive writing like magic as the time passes by.” Sometimes she calls to let him know what color pen she’ll use for the next one: “At eight years old, it is quite hard for her to keep a secret about the little things in life.”

But this ritual changed in September, when Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections announced that because some letters had been soaked with liquid drugs, inmates in state lockups would no longer receive mail directly from friends and family members. Now their mail goes to Smart Communications, a company in Florida that scans the letters and stores them electronically. At mail call, inmates receive printout copies rather than the originals.

With the new change, prisoners say the letters now feel less personal, and scanned photos are sometimes impossible to make out. Families also have privacy concerns about a company handling their correspondence. In recent interviews with Mother Jones, the Department of Corrections and Smart Communications appeared to disagree on how long digital copies of their letters would be stored in a database that could be used by law enforcement for investigative purposes. The company said it would hold onto the copies for many years longer than state officials suggested.

As the winter holidays approach, prisoners are missing the handwritten letters they once received. Some complain of mishaps like lost pages and long delays. Others say the printouts are of such poor quality that letters are difficult to read. When photos arrive—sometimes reduced in size to fit multiple on a page—they can be so distorted that faces are hard to distinguish. And at the end of the day, a printed copy of a card just doesn’t feel the same as the real thing. “Please remember this is the only method and way to watch her progress and grow in life during the best years of her development,” Onzik said of his daughter’s letters in a message sent to an advocacy group in October and shared with Mother Jones. “I find this new photocopying of my beloved mail heartbreaking to say the least.” Another inmate got married two days before prisons stopped processing mail directly; when his wife sent him their marriage license, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it arrived as a double-sided photocopy.


If they have machines at airports that can detect bombs...................then they can have machines that can detect drugs.........................

How a Small Liberal Arts College in Iowa Could Hand Trump a Big Win Against Labor Rights

Grinnell College has decided to fight its growing undergraduate student worker union.

DECEMBER 14, 2018 12:36 PM

Update (12/14/18, 5:10 pm): Late on Friday, Grinnell College’s undergraduate union announced that it had decided to withdraw its petition seeking broader recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. A Grinnell College spokesperson tells Mother Jones it will not oppose the union’s request. Mother Jones has reached out the NLRB for more information.

While the majority of America’s undergraduates are squirreled away in campus libraries preparing for finals, student workers at Grinnell College are preparing for a union showdown that could have serious implications for the future of organizing in the Trump era.

The previously friendly relationship between the small, private Iowa college’s administrators and its undergraduate student worker union began to sour in 2017, when the union announced its intentions to expand representation from roughly 300 dining workers to potentially 1,200 student workers campuswide. The school’s efforts to block the vote were rejected by the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, and in November, 274 of 366 voting members passed a motion to expand the union. The college is now appealing to the full NLRB to block the union based on its “potential to interfere with Grinnell’s role in its undergraduates’ ‘academic or personal development.'”

“Expanding the union could effectively insert a third party whose priorities are economic, not educational, into learning outside of the classroom and alter the relationship between students and faculty,” administrators wrote in explaining the college’s anti-union stance. “These are consequences that we believe will chip away at the College’s core mission and culture, impede learning, and ultimately diminish educational opportunities for students.” According to Grinnell’s NLRB complaint, roughly 70 percent of the school’s population receives financial aid that includes work study, but the award “supports their overall academic education.” The school argues that “funding is not pay for a job.”


Amazing, when you go to college you are taught the virtues of majority rule, and when people decide to exercise that right, while at the same time taking dollars from the very students that want to be represented..................well its a basic fuck you, we now can intimidate..................you and others................we like slave labor .......................

NASA's Juno Probe Captures Footage of Jupiter Storms

A youth activist on the climate crisis: politicians won't save us

Victoria Barrett

At the COP24 conference, leaders lack the urgency felt by communities on the frontlines of a global threat

As wildfires burn, as temperatures rise, as the last remaining old-growth forests in Poland are logged, world leaders are in Katowice to negotiate the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. To outsiders, UN climate talks may seem like a positive step. Unfortunately, this is COP24.

For 24 years, world leaders have annually talked at each other instead of to one another in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to mitigate the climate crisis. In all that time, they have barely scratched the surface of an issue that the world’s top climate scientists say we now have 12 years to stop – and that is an optimistic estimate.

There’s an urgency in my heart being here in Katowice, knowing that this negotiation process is supposed to protect my generation and ones thereafter. I am afraid of the lack of accountability in the space, knowing that the people with power will be patted on the back for simply coming together without making meaningful policy commitments.

When the news stories come out about successful negotiations, we forget about when leaders pushed to leave “human rights” out of policy wording, or stood on the floor advocating for fossil fuels as a solution (hint: they’re not), all to placate to their own interest in power and maintaining it. They are voluntarily blind to the suffering their decisions cause. Homes will be lost, families will be torn apart by displacement and at borders, and the sea will encroach upon whole societies, exterminating cultures and livelihoods. Developed countries like the US, corrupted by fossil fuel interests, are to blame.



We have called on our political leaders to demonstrate a similar understanding. But resilience can’t be taught, and it doesn’t come from a president, minister or monarch: it comes from the adversity you have faced. This is why, to fight the powers that hand away pieces of our environment for profit, we must enlist the people who have lived on the margins of society. People power will always be stronger than the people in power.

Victoria Barrett is one of the 21 plaintiffs, aged 10 to 21, in the high-profile Juliana v the United States lawsuit, which faulted the US government for failing to protect its citizens from climate change. She represents marginalized voices at international conferences and has addressed the United Nations general assembly on the topic of youth involvement in its sustainable development goals. is one of the 21 plaintiffs, aged 10 to 21, in the high-profile Juliana v the United States lawsuit, which faulted the US government for failing to protect its citizens from climate change. She represents marginalized voices at international conferences and has addressed the United Nations general assembly on the topic of youth involvement in its sustainable development goals.

A youth activist on the climate crisis: politicians won't save us

Miss USA apologizes for mocking rivals' English-speaking skills

Sarah Rose Summers admits she disrespected Cambodian and Vietnamese contestants

The woman who holds the Miss USA 2018 title has apologized after she was captured on video mocking two of her fellow competitors for their English-speaking skills.

In a video posted to Instagram, Sarah Rose Summers made light of Nat Rern, Miss Cambodia and H’Hen Nie, Miss Vietnam. In the video, she said of Nie: “She’s so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes …” she said before mimicking a confused nod and smile.

Then Summers makes fun of another contestant for not speaking English, apparently unaware that the language is not universally understood around the world.

“Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language. Can you imagine?” she said. “Francesca said that would be so isolating and I said yes and just confusing all the time.”


Showing the world how fucked up this country is.....................she is full of shit................if she had any decency she should with draw....................

Trump's worst legal nightmare isn't Robert Mueller: Meet Letitia James

15 DEC 2018 AT 07:42 ET

The blue wave that came with the 2018 midterms was bad for President Donald Trump not only because Democrats obtained a majority in the House of Representatives (with a net gain of 40 seats) and picked up more than 350 seats in state legislatures around the United States—they were also bad for the president because of a Brooklyn native named Letitia James. On November 6, the 60-year-old Democrat was elected attorney general for New York State. And James has made it abundantly clear that after she starts her new job in January, she will launch comprehensive investigations of Trump, his family and his business associates.

In 2019, Trump’s legal headaches at the federal level will include Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russiagate investigation, the investigations of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the new Democratic House of Representatives—which will be able to launch all kinds of investigative committees and subpoenas. But the election of James in November presents a different type of legal headache for Trump, his family and his associates: one at the state level.

As president of the United States, Trump enjoys certain executive powers—including the power to issue pardons for federal crimes. The people Trump has pardoned so far at the federal level range from Scooter Libby to former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for his unconstitutional tactics against undocumented immigrants. But the key word with the Libby and Arpaio pardons is “federal”: Trump had the power to pardon them for federal crimes—and he has the power to grant Paul Manafort (his former campaign manager) a presidential pardon for tax fraud, bank fraud and all the other crimes he has been convicted of. But Trump does not have the power to issue presidential pardons for criminal convictions in individual states, including any that might come about in 2019 in New York State. And James obviously plans to keep her staff very busy next year.

James, in a recent interview with NBC News, was quite specific about the things she plans to investigate—including whether or not Trump’s business interests in New York City represent a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause, which restricts presidents and other federal politicians from receiving gifts or payments from foreign powers (for example, the Russian government).


Nunes Attacks FBI Over Flynn Guilty Plea: 'It Was Nothing Short Of Entrapment'

By Caitlin MacNeal
December 14, 2018 5:24 pm

Outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Friday claimed that federal investigators “entrapped” former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, echoing a pre-sentencing memo from Flynn’s lawyers arguing that he was somehow tricked by the FBI officials who questioned him in January 2017.

“It was nothing short of entrapment,” Nunes told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.

Lawyers for special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday pushed back on the arguments made by Flynn’s lawyer, telling the judge overseeing Flynn’s sentencing that the former national security adviser was well aware of the consequences of lying to the FBI. Cavuto noted this to Nunes and asked if he really believed the FBI somehow prompted Flynn to lie.

Nunes replied that he had been briefed on the issue and continued to attack the FBI, something Nunes is notorious for.

“This is an embarrassment for our country,” he said, adding that Flynn’s chats with the Russian ambassador was “exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.”


Hey, Nunes..................do you know what aiding and abetting means in criminal law..................in a crime, have you ever thought about that....................because I firmly believe that you are a fucking criminal who aided and abetted in cover-up and crime to hurt this country........................


November 3, 2020 cannot get here fast enough..............................

Sally Yates Was 'Not Happy' About The FBI's Move To Interview Mike Flynn

By Tierney Sneed
December 14, 2018 4:55 pm
President Trump was too busy directing workers where to place art in the West Wing on Jan. 24, 2017 to notice the two FBI agents walking by whose impending interview of his national security advisor was about to dog his presidency for years.

That, and other details about the fateful day that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, were revealed in a court filing Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Before the FBI sat down with Flynn, he had given false accounts of the conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to top administration officials, who in turn repeated it to the media, Mueller pointed out.

Nevertheless, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was reportedly “not happy” about the plan to interview Flynn about the Kislyak discussion, which took place during the presidential transition.

According to notes from a July 2017 FBI interview with Peter Strzok — the lead FBI agent who interviewed Flynn and who later got kicked off the Russia probe for anti-Trump texts — then-FBI Director James Comey was only going to tell Yates right before the interview about the plan, though he ended up telling her a little earlier when she called him about another matter.



"Regardless, it was Yates — accompanied by then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord — who traveled to the White House two days later to inform the White House that Flynn had made false statements to the FBI. Yates met with then-White House Counsel Don McGahn the following day to discuss the matter again, she later testified in front of Congress, and on Jan. 30, she called McGahn to invite him to the Justice Department to review the underlying evidence showing Flynn had made false statements. McGahn never made the trip, and Yates was soon fired for refusing to defend in court Trump’s travel ban."

What I find striking is that this Federalist Society asshole, McGahn, he was being asked to review the information................he needs to be brought before Congress....................I don't trust him with anything.................he knows, in my opinion, he knows, even if he did 30 hours of talks...................he knows......he really is a sleazeball......


MI Gov Signs Laws Limiting Citizen-Led Minimum Wage, Sick Leave Initiatives

Source: Talking Points Memo

December 14, 2018 3:44 pm
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday signed laws to significantly scale back citizen-initiated measures to raise Michigan’s minimum wage and require paid sick leave for workers, finalizing an unprecedented Republican-backed legislative maneuver that opponents blasted as shameful.

To prevent minimum wage and earned sick time initiatives from going to voters last month, GOP lawmakers approved them in September so they could be more easily altered after the election with simple majority votes rather than the three-fourths support that would have been needed if voters had passed the proposals.

The tactic — never done until now — was pushed by the business community as necessary to avoid jeopardizing the economy. But it was criticized as an unconstitutional attack on voters’ will at a time Republicans in Michigan are trying to dilute the powers of incoming elected Democrats.

In another Midwest state, GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday signed a sweeping package of legislation that restricts early voting and weakens the Democratic governor and attorney general.

Read more: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/michigan-governor-snyder-scales-back-minimum-wage-paid-sick-citizen-initiatives

This right wing fucking asshole should be indicted for conspiracy for what he and his fucking Koch backed lackeys have done to Flint, and then charged with premeditated murder for those people that died because of this poisoning.................no if's or and's about it.............I really do hate right wing backed libertarian Koch backed fascist .....................

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