Live Blog: Returns of the Night

In 17 years of voting at this polling place, nevr took longer than 5 minutes...today it took 1 hr and 5 minutes!

Good Evening!

Tonight we’re waiting for the returns from the state of Michigan even though there are three other states voting.  Hawaii, Idaho, and Mississippi are also voting although several of these are Republican voting events only.

The biggest prize is Michigan where the front-runners – Donald Trump for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats – will seek to consolidate leads over their respective rivals.

Both parties are also holding primaries in Mississippi on Tuesday.

In addition, the Republicans are voting in Idaho and Hawaii.

Billionaire businessman Mr Trump is well ahead in the all-important delegate count, but a poor debate performance and some recent losses to Texas Senator Ted Cruz have raised questions about the solidity of his lead.

hawaiiWhat’s at stake?

It’s an important day for Republicans, in which 6 percent of the party’s delegates are at stake. And by the time the dust has settled tonight or (more likely) tomorrow, about 43 percent of the party’s delegates will be allotted overall.

But really, today is a prelude to the far more consequential contests taking place in one week. That’s because today’s delegates are allocated mostly proportionally, making it tough for any candidate to pick up a huge lead. Next week, though, Florida and Ohio will vote winner-take-all, and the outcomes there could have major implications for the future of the race, since Donald Trump has led recent polls of both states. If he wins those two, he could amass a delegate lead that will be very difficult for any of his rivals to surmount.

So expect Republicans to interpret tonight’s results mainly in terms of what they might mean for next week. Does Trump look mortal, as he did on Saturday, or will he rebound with a dominant performance? Is Marco Rubio truly in free fall, as some recent polls have indicated? Is the anti-Trump vote consolidating around Ted Cruz, or will it remain split?

As for Democrats, Hillary Clinton is up big in polls of both states voting today. A win in Mississippi tonight wouldn’t be a surprise, since she’s romped in the South so far, but it would let her continue to pad her lead in pledged delegates, which is already sizable. But if Sanders gets blown out in Michigan, that may indicate that Clinton is likely to win several other primaries in large, delegate-rich states outside the South — making analready tough delegate math challenge for Sanders even tougher.

Michigan is a state that’s undergone a vast change. It used to be the center of a great post-War industrial automobile industry but most of its lucrative union jobs are gone.  The auto industry is on the mend but no abandoned-detroit-high-schoolwhere as powerful as it used to be in the country.  It is perhaps a great test of the power of establishment vs. outsider revolution.

While Sanders has made awkward attempts to court African American voters, Hillary Clinton has deep ties to the community. She was the first presidential candidate to visit Flint, Michigan, a predominately African American city with toxic water.

Clinton hopes to appeal to people like Lawrence White, a 43-year-old state employee and owner of a small security firm who feels betrayed by every level of government and by both parties. “I’m not just singling out Governor [Rick] Snyder,” the African American Democrat told me in January. “All the politicians including the EPA are playing tit-for-tat, playing games at our expense. It’s everybody. It’s Republicans. It’s Democrats. It’s a globalization of not caring for the people of Flint.”

Just north of Detroit, in the suburbs of Oakland and Macomb counties, live the children and grandchildren of Reagan Democrats, white working-class voters who defected their party to support Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

I grew up among Reagan Democrats; their racial and economic grievances were the soundtrack of my childhood. For people like Benson Brundage, a Macomb County contractor who told me in 2012 that welfare is racial “subsidization,” Donald Trump gives voice to their fears.

Mitt Romney dog-whistled at them in 2012. Now the former GOP nominee issuggesting that Trump is a bigot.

550x369x102422-004-E40CDA5E.jpg.pagespeed.ic.yKL-la4y8fPolls show that all the midwestern industrial states favor Trump and Clinton.  Here’s a list of the latest polls from RCP.  It’s bound to be a dismal day for Marco Rubio. That’s pretty obvious.  Is Kasich rising since these states should be favorable to him?

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has actually jumped ahead of Rubio for third place in Michigan, and is rising quickly, a Monmouth University poll out Monday showed. He appears to have worn well in last week’s Republican presidential debate, when he stayed out of the Trump-Rubio-Cruz scrum.

So imagine this scenario: Kasich beats Rubio in Michigan. Then, on March 15, Kasich wins his 66-delegate, winner-take-all home state of Ohio, and Rubio loses his 99-delegate, winner-take-all home state of Florida.

Find your presidential match with CNN’s 2016 Candidate Matchmaker

Suddenly, Kasich would become the leading moderate, establishment-type Republican in the race — and Rubio would lack a path forward.

There are a lot of “ifs” for that to happen. But for Kasich to stand any chance of turning what’s been a smaller-scale campaign that’s been much choosier about where he tries to compete into one with a real shot at quickly racking up delegates, Michigan is where it has to start.

Join us tonight for the returns!  I’ve put up a picture from each of the states.  As you can see, there couldn’t be a better example of the diversity in Americans and geography in the states voting tonight.downtown-boise-idaho-3213

Mississippi returns will come in first at 8 pm est so get ready!!!


Lazy Saturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

Yesterday we had a sort-of mini-family-reunion at my mother’s house in Indiana. We wanted to get a bunch of us together to celebrate my mom’s 89th birthday. I’ve been here for a few weeks already. I had to stay a little longer than I was planning to after my mom broke her wrist.

My brother and his wife and two sons are visiting from Boston, another brother came with his son from Illinois, my sister and her husband came from Indianapolis, and my niece and her husband and son also came from Indianapolis. Only one of my sisters wasn’t here.

It was a lot of fun. We broke out mom’s croquet set, and sat outside talking for hours. My brother John (the one from Boston area) cooked a fantastic meal of grilled steak, roasted potatoes and veggies, and salad; and afterwards we had a birthday cake that my niece from Indy had designed. Across the top was a pastry scrabble board with words like “grandma, mother, birthday on it. (My mom is a scrabble and crossword fan and she recently started a scrabble group with two of her friends).

The day was a reminder to me that family is just about the most important thing in life. I didn’t get that when I was younger and just wanted to get away to a more interesting place; but as I get older, it feels more and more true. Now I understand why my grandparents organized big family “reunions” when I was a kid. In our Catholic family, everyone had lots of kids and we would have huge get-togethers with 30+ kids all running around wildly and adults drinking eating and reminiscing.

But enough about me, let’s see what’s happening the news.

Bobby-Womack-Funny

We lost a legendary musician yesterday. Rolling Stone reports: Soul Legend Bobby Womack Dead at 70.

Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.

The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.

Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes,pneumoniacolon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

Read the rest at the RS link.

Read a collection of tweets in praise of Womack from The Guardian: Stars pay tribute to the great Bobby Womack.

At the Washington Post, Simon Waxman of the Boston Review has a worthwhile op-ed about the continuing scandal of the Washington Redskins’ refusal to deal with the inherent racism of their team name: The U.S. military’s ongoing slur of Native Americans.

Resistance to the Washington Redskins team name has ebbed and flowed over the years, but thanks in part to letters from 50 senators to the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, and last week’s decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind the team’s trademark registration, the campaign to get rid of it has renewed urgency.

Snyder has shrugged off complaints about the name, even claiming that “redskins” is a “badge of honor.” Team president Bruce Allen, protesting too much, says the name “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

The team and the NFL are under a great deal of pressure right now,

But even if the NFL and Redskins brass come to their senses and rename the team, a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians — an injustice perpetuated not by a football club but by our federal government.

In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden.

Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished? For the same reason the Washington team is the Redskins and my hometown Red Sox go to Cleveland to play the Indians and to Atlanta to play the Braves: because the myth of the worthy native adversary is more palatable than the reality — the conquered tribes of this land were not rivals but victims, cheated and impossibly outgunned.

The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.

It’s an excellent essay. I hope the powers that be will get the message.

Another op-ed at The New York Times argues against popular claims that marijuana is an effective treatment for untold numbers of illnesses: Politicians Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data. It appears that the NYT has fixed it’s website so that you can’t copy and paste anything anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article by Catherine St. Louis. It’s quite interesting and compelling.

What the hell is going on down in Mississippi. I haven’t been following the story closely, but this is stunning: Tea party leader Mayfield dies in apparent suicide.

Attorney Mark Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.

Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home to use in a political video against Cochran in the Republican Senate primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Ridgeland police said they received a 911 call at 9:03 a.m. from a woman who said her husband had just shot himself.

Officers responded to the home on Cherry Laurel Lane in the Bridgewater subdivision at 9:07 a.m. and were directed by Mayfield’s wife to a storage room in the garage.

Officers found Mayfield lying on the floor with a single gunshot wound to his head, according to a Ridgeland Police Department statement. Police found a “large caliber revolver” near the body. “The death is classified as a death investigation-pending, due to an awaiting autopsy to be performed at an undetermined time.” ….

Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested by the Madison police Department last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.

Much more at the link.

Even more bizarre, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: McDaniel Campaign Staffer Blames Tea Party’s Leader Suicide On Political Opponents.

The strange and ugly Mississippi Republican Senate primary turned tragic when Mark Mayfield was found dead Friday. Mayfield was a lawyer and board member of the Central Mississippi tea party and one of the alleged conspirators in the case surrounding the break-in and photographing of incumbent Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home.

Mayfield’s death was an apparent suicide, according to reports.

On Twitter, one high-level McDaniel staffer, policy director Keith Plunkett wrote:

“A good man is gone today bc of a campaign to destroy lives. To all “so called” Republican leaders who joined lockstep: I WILL NOT REST!”

More tweets at Buzzfeed.

I’m going to end there, because there are numerous relative milling around me wondering why I’m typing on a computer instead of joining the group. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links on the comment thread.

 


Wednesday News Headlines

Harvard_Square_Subway_Kiosk

Good Morning!!

 

This is going to be a brief open thread–just some headlines to get you started on the day. I apologize for not being able to write a full post. JJ is dealing with some urgent family problems, I’m at my mom’s house helping her get ready for several out-of-town guests, and Dakinikat is taking her pets to the vet. Dak and I will be around this afternoon.

So here’s what’s happening in the headlines this morning.

CNN: Syrian warplanes strike in Iraq, killing 57 civilians, official says.

BBC: Russian and Ukrainian media consider Putin step

An Arkansas GOP official said of Hillary Clinton: ‘She’d Probably Get Shot at the State Line’.

But the official, Johnny Rhoda, didn’t actually mean what he said as a threat.

And he claims his remarks were “taken way out of context,” because he was laughing when he said them.

Actor Eli Wallach has died: ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ Star Eli Wallach Dies at 98 (Hollywood Reporter).

WaPo: Cochran beats McDaniel in nail-biter in Mississippi.

Mother Jones: A Mississippi Surprise: GOP Sen. Cochran Beats Back Tea Party Champion.

Dick Cheney just won’t go away. From the Hill, Cheney: Next attack ‘likely’ deadlier than 9/11.

CNN: FIFA starts disciplinary action against Luis Suarez after biting claims.

Reuters: New York Congressman Charles Rangel claims victory in Democratic primary.

Reuters: Seattle Archdiocese to pay $12 million to settle child sex abuse claims: lawyer.

What stories are you following today? Have a great “hump day,” Sky Dancers!


Wednesday AM: Justice for Marco McMillian

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Posted to Marco McMillian’s facebook page: “As we work for justice in the murder of Marco W McMillian we held a press conference in Clarksdale, MS on Thursday May 9, 2013. Please goggle Marco McMillian to get full details. Pictured from (L to R) Atty. Daryl Parks of Parks and Crump law firm, Marco’s mother, Patricia Unger and Sharon Hicks of the National Justice Collation”

Hey all, Mona here…I have missed you all dearly, my Sky Dancing newsjunkies! Had some life-things keeping me out of the regular loop. Funerals and graduations…endings and new beginnings. That kind of thing. And, lots and lots of soul-searching. But, I guess you could say I’m “back” now. For better or worse 😉 I’m going to just dive right in and get my feet wet in the blogging pond…I’ll be using the frontpage this morning to spotlight a topic I wish was getting more attention from the national media. Not to worry, though–JJ will have your Wednesday news round-up fix later in the day! So be sure to check back in for that.

So, how many of you have been following the Marco McMillian story? I know Bostonboomer had mentioned it before back when McMillian was discovered dead in February. Well, the family is now demanding answers. Via the NYT:

Mother’s Letter to Sheriff

Frustrated by the pace of the investigation into the death, Marco McMillian’s mother, Patricia Unger, wrote to investigators regarding unanswered questions in her son’s case.

Click over to see the PDF for yourself. Key excerpt:

It has been over two months since my son, Marco Watson McMillian, was found murdered on February 26, 2013. Within this time frame, my husband and I have only received two visits/correspondences from you. The visit took place on February 26, 2013. During this visit, you informed us that Marco’s SUV had been involved in an accident and that someone else was driving the SUV. You also stated that Marco was not in the vehicle and that you were trying to locate him. The second visit took place on February 27, 2013, during this visit you informed us that his body had been found.

Last month, my husband, Amos Unger, contacted you via phone inquiring about the investigation. You informed him that the investigation was still ongoing and that you could not release any information about the investigation because you were trying to conduct it in a professional manner. You stated that you did not want any leaks to take place due to the family making statements to the press/media. However, I do not feel like the investigation has been done with professionalism. Listed below are unanswered questions/reasons why I feel like this investigation has not been conducted in an ethical manner:

Patricia Unger goes on to list some pretty appalling ethical and professional breaches, such as:

  • The only identification of the body sought by the police from the family was through a cell phone picture.
  • The family has yet to be introduced to any actual FBI agents investigating the case.

The final point of concern she raises, in her own words:

It has been reported in the press/’ media that you have a suspect in custody, Lawrence Reed. It has also been reported that family members and/or friends have stated that Mr. Reed informed them that he killed Marco in a “gay rape panic”. in this case, suspect and motive have been determined, so why is there still an ongoing investigation? Have other facts/factors been discovered that warrant further investigation? Also, it has been reported that Mr. Reed confessed to killing Marco by strangling him with his wallet chain. in that case, strangulation was the cause of death, so why is it taking so long for me to receive the death certificate? 1 know that this is a matter for the State Medical Examiner, but i would like to know if another cause of death has been or is being taken into consideration.

Pardon my Fraaaaanch, but what the fraggle rock kind of investigation is this? If Patricia Unger’s charges are true , the investigation into her son’s murder makes Mark Fuhrman’s antics in the OJ case look like a paragon of ethics. (Ok, so I’m hyperbolizing, but you get the point.)

The family held a press conference last Thursday. The family’s lawyer, Attorney Daryl Parks, is from the firm that represented Trayvon Martin’s family.

The virtual silence in the national mediaseems deafening to me. Other than local news coverage, the link above from LGBTQNation website (of the standard press release type reporting from the AP), and the NYT link above to the actual letter by McMillian’s mother, I have seen scarce coverage of this story. I don’t have any cable or digital converter, thus I don’t have a constant 24/7 IV-drip of cable news…so maybe I’ve missed whatever blip about the family’s questions and press conference may have been buried on the network formerly known as CNN’s Headline News. Anecdotally, I asked my daily newspaper reading/cable newsjunkie mother if she had heard anything about it, and shockingly…though unsurprisingly…my bringing it up was the first she had heard of it.

Marco-McMillan-with-Obama-and-Clinton

I’ve had to go on McMillian’s FB pages (both as mayoral candidate and himself personally) looking for answers. As a case in point, I found the NYT link to his mother’s letter through his personal page.

Marco’s future in politics was bright. To the right you can see him with President Obama and Representative John Lewis, as well as with President Bill Clinton. That he was the first “viable” openly gay black candidate for political office in Mississippi is both incidental and monumental at the same time.

It makes me worry–however fear-driven that may be–for this guy I posted about ever so briefly on my baby blog, LetThemListen, last month:

Precisely, senator.senator

Alright, well I’ve said my piece. I’d love to hear your thoughts or anything else on your mind/reading list this morning. Take care and remember to stay tuned for JJ’s Wednesday Roundup later today.


Sunday Reads: Robot and Munster

WPA poster

Hello!

Wow, what a busy 24 hours it has been. I don’t know about you all, but my PAD (Political Affected Disorder) has been kicked into high gear. I mean, in a Ryan world, that WPA poster would say, Lack of Funds…Fuck off…you’re on your own, no need for medical care, just die already!

The thought of a Romney/Ryan presidency scares the bejebees out of me! It is frightening though, all that talk of Obama, the Socialist Kenyan Fascist Dictator, bringing on the end of the world…and this is what these nuts are pushing on us? A lying unlikable jerk robot and his Munster asshole “intellectual” cough…cough…

Well, since we don’t know what taxes Romney has paid the last few years…plus, according to Roll Call, Paul Ryan’s Tax Plan Would Slash Mitt Romney’s Tax Rate to 1 Percent : Roll Call Politics

The tax plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the newly minted GOP vice presidential candidate, would have slashed Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate to about 1 percent in 2010, based on Romney’s tax return that year, according to a Roll Call analysis.

The Ryan tax cut, which would shave about 90 percent off of Romney’s tax bill, would result from the Wisconsin Republican’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” proposal to eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest. Since about 95 percent of Romney’s $21.6 million income came from those sources in 2010, he would pay no taxes on the vast majority of his earnings. It’s not certain exactly how low Romney’s tax bill would go, but his income from other sources amounts to about $1 million, and Ryan’s plan would set a new top rate of 25 percent. Romney’s total tax bill would have dropped from the $3 million that he paid to a few hundred thousand dollars if Ryan’s plan had been in effect.

Ryan also proposes eliminating the estate tax, which would benefit Romney’s heirs by tens of millions of dollars.

Ryan’s “Roadmap” plan on his website says eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends would promote savings.

And speaking of Ryan Budget, take a few minutes to check out Nuns on the Bus…because I am sure they are going to be one of the groups to watch now that the coward, who refused to meet with these Nuns on a Mission, has been picked as Romney’s VP.

I still can’t stand Obama, and I still feel he intends to mess with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid « naked capitalism

This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.

The White House already tried cutting all three main entitlement programs, last year (cuts to Medicaid are actually cuts to Obamacare, for what it’s worth, since an expansion of Medicaid was a key plank of the new health care law).

Read the rest…it is quite upsetting.

In fact, I am going to move away from Romney and Obama, and bring you some stories you may have missed during all the hubbub.

Did you all see this crap: The Goldman Sachs Department of Justice™ Would Like to Apologize to Mr. Blankfein for the Inconvenience | emptywheel

It is beyond ridiculous, and this next link shows just how f’d up this DOJ decision is: AZ Woman Imprisoned — After Producing Her Birth Certificate | Crooks and Liars

Guilt has nothing to do with punishment — that is, as long as you’re not a Wall Street banker. In Arizona, if you “look” foreign, that’s enough to put you in jail indefinitely, without bail – even after you produce your birth certificate:

Recently, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office alleged Briseira Torres, a shy, 31-year-old single mom from Glendale, was here illegally and that Briseira Torres was not her real name.

She was accused of three counts of forgery, in part because her driver’s license had her real name on it, which the MCAO thought was bogus. Following her arrest, she was held without bond in Estrella Jail for 4 1/2 months.

Torres lost her home and car because she couldn’t make the payments as she endured Estrella’s harsh conditions, lousy food, and detention officers.

Bold emphasis is Susie Madrak’s not mine,

In the pile of paperwork they provided to the court, to the prosecutor, and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a silver bullet: a sworn statement from Arizona’s Office of Vital Records attesting to the legitimacy of documents on file for Torres.

Among these docs is Torres’ birth certificate, showing she was born August 14, 1981, in Avondale.

Salvatierra asked the court to remand the case back to the grand jury.

Judge Carolyn Passamonte did just this, noting in her minute entry that Torres’ long-form birth certificate was “clearly exculpatory evidence that should have been presented to the grand jury.”

The judge remarked that the documents on file with Vital Records had been “available to the state,” and in oral arguments, the prosecutor had to admit that he’d never bothered to pull the file and inspect it.

Can you believe this crap? As Susie says,

…her legal birth certificate was right there, the whole time of her incarceration. A cop with a bug up his butt decided to act as if it didn’t exist. If only her name was Goldman Sachs!

Now that your blood pressure is up, check this out: Mississippi county accused of running ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ | The Raw Story

The U.S. Department of Justice has accused officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi of running ‘a school-to-prison’ pipeline that jails juveniles for even minor school disciplinary problems.

A letter sent by the civil rights division on Friday charges that the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services have been violating the constitutional rights of children in Lauderdale County and the City of Meridian.

According to the letter, an investigation launched last December revealed that “the agencies have helped to operate a school-to-prison pipeline whereby children arrested in local schools become entangled in a cycle of incarceration without substantive and procedural protections required by the U.S. Constitution. The department’s findings show that children in Lauderdale County have been routinely and repeatedly incarcerated for allegedly committing school disciplinary infractions and are punished disproportionately, without constitutionally required procedural safeguards. Children have also been arrested at school for offenses as minor as defiance.”

“Furthermore,” it continues, “children on probation are routinely arrested and incarcerated for allegedly violating their probation by committing minor school infractions, such as dress code violations, which result in suspensions. The department’s investigation showed that students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities.”

Meridian is known for the murders of three civil rights workers, back in 1964, aka “the Mississippi Burning” case.

In 2009 the Southern Poverty Law Center brought a class-action lawsuit against the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility, accusing it of keeping youths “crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with the arbitrary use of Mace as a punishment for even the most minor infractions — such as ‘talking too much’ or failing to sit in the ‘back of their cells.’”

An agreement was reached at that time to reform the jail system and consider alternative methods of handling school disciplinary issues, but problems have continued in what an SPLC representative now calls “a broken system.”

The Justice Department letter cites a pattern of unconstitutional conduct that includes both failure to assess probable cause before arresting school children and failure to provide proper due process with regard to alleged probation violations.

A few weeks after the Justice Department investigation began last winter, Lauderdale County took steps to shut down its juvenile detention center and send youthful offenders instead to a neighboring county. That action was apparently considered inadequate, and officials are now being told they must enter into “meaningful negotiations” to end the violations within sixty days or face a federal lawsuit.

That is disturbing, I know, and I don’t want to end on a bad note, I mean it is Sunday…and since we started out mentioning the Nuns on the Bus, let’s end with a story about another activist nun.

Behind Nuclear Breach, a Nun’s Bold Fervor – NYTimes.com

Shawn Poynter for The New York Times

Sister Megan Rice, 82, is one of three people arrested in a break-in at a nuclear complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

She has been arrested 40 or 50 times for acts of civil disobedience and once served six months in prison. In the Nevada desert, she and other peace activists knelt down to block a truck rumbling across the government’s nuclear test site, prompting the authorities to take her into custody.

She gained so much attention that the Energy Department, which maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal, helped pay for an oral history in which she described her upbringing and the development of her antinuclear views.

Now, Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

I’ll tell you one thing…I see an Michael Bay action film in this story.

With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.

“Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

The actions of Sister Rice, a New York native who grew up on a prosperous block in Morningside Heights, and her companions, ages 57 and 63, are a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Since 2010, he has led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism. Now, the three — two of whom, including Sister Rice, are free and are awaiting trial in October — have made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods.

In interviews this week, Sister Rice discussed her life — somewhat reluctantly at times — and kept emphasizing what she called “the issue.”

You need to read the rest of the story…but isn’t she wonderful?

Can you imagine who would play Sister Rice and her two male accomplices? I see Diana Rigg as Sister Rice, of course with her Avengers background, it will be a spectacular performance. As for the men, one of them has to be Bruce Willis and the other must be Samuel L Jackson.  I can just hear the catch phrase as it trickles off of Jackson’s tongue, “Bless this, muthafukkaz…”

Have a wonderful day and please share what are you all reading about this fine Sunday morning?


Wednesday Reads: Big Blue Marble and Grand Illusions

Good morning!

Let us start this morning’s post with a bit of cheer from Kansas, of course that was a snarky comment. Honestly, I don’t know what to say about the latest news out of Kansas, particularly out of Gov. Brownback’s little sack of horrors. Brownback Signs Law Allowing Expansive Refusal of Medication Based on “Belief” About Abortion

Get this,

by changing the law to include refusal to administer any drug that they believe may terminate a pregnancy, it opens the door to refusal of birth control and emergency contraception — both of which many anti-choice medical workers and pharmacists erroneously charge end very early pregnancies rather than preventing conception. The law could also allow refusal of even more medically-necessary drugs simply because they may relate to abortions.

Idaho already had a case of a pharmacist who refused to fill a perscription for a woman who needed drugs to stop bleeding, believing that the woman may have had an abortion which caused her blood loss, and the pharmacist received no punishment for the action.  How long will it take for that to become the rule, rather than the exception, as the Kansas law goes into effect?

“Assisting in terminating a pregnancy” has already become an overly expansive phrase that many anti-choice activists are applying to even more unrelated situations — from the nurses who refuse to do intake of women in the hospital for a termination to the bus driver who won’t drive a route to Planned Parenthood.

I knew that these religious conscience exemptions were going to bring the crazy ass legislation like this out of the woodwork, but this…this has to be something that should be challenged in court.

Here is another gem for you this morning, Coat Hanger Abortions Are Fine, Says Mississippi Lawmaker, Because ‘Hey, You Have To Have Moral Values’

https://i1.wp.com/thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Bubba-Carpenter-e1337089019268.jpg

Mississippi state Rep. Bubba Carpenter (R) said that it’s OK for women to have coat hanger abortions because it’s for a greater good.

A video obtained by Rachel Maddow’s blog captures Carpenter saying he is proud of Mississippi’s attempts to outlaw abortion outright, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled abortions legal in the United States.

And what about women who will perform self-induced abortions because they cannot afford to go out of state to get the procedure? “Hey,” he says, “you have to have moral values”:

Here is what Buuuuubba had to say,

It’s going to be challenged, of course, in the Supreme Court and all — but literally, we stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi, legally, without having to– Roe vs. Wade. So we’ve done that. I was proud of it. The governor signed it into law. And of course, there you have the other side. They’re like, ‘Well, the poor pitiful women that can’t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger. That’s what we’ve learned over and over and over.’

But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we’ve decided to do. This became law and the governor signed it, and I think for one time, we were first in the nation in the state of Mississippi

Video at this link if you feel the need to watch a dumbass at work.

There was an interesting story at Fox Nation this week, this headline was caught by one of the readers at Maddow Blog:  Water. Rest. Shade.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration launched an effort to prevent heat illnesses among outdoor workers, and at face value, this wouldn’t be especially noteworthy. On the contrary, this is a basic part of OSHA’s mission, in this case, the agency recommends, “Water. Rest. Shade. The work can’t get done without them.”

So why am I mentioning this? Because, as Steve M. noticed, Fox News’ website put its own unique spin on what seems like a fairly mundane story.

[…]

Fox Nation has an amazing track record of putting silly spins on routine news stories, but going after the administration over heat strokes is breaking new ground.

I’m not sure whether to be annoyed by Fox’s ridiculous standards or impressed with its creativity.

Yeah, that sure is a hell of a way to spin a story.

This next link is via The Grio, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Baltimore’s oldest black cemetery, finally restored with help of inmates

After decades of neglect, interrupted occasionally by well-meaning but ultimately fruitless cleanup efforts, the cemetery in South Baltimore was officially rededicated Monday, due in large part to the labors of an unlikely group: state prison inmates.

As part of a program to put those serving time to work on meaningful projects, more than 40 prisoners have worked on the four-year effort to transform the cemetery’s 34 acres.

“There’s 55,000 graves here,” said Gary Maynard, the secretary for the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, looking out over Mount Auburn’s bright green fields. “That’s 55,000 families. There are a lot of people connected to this cemetery, and now they’re out here looking for graves of family they couldn’t find in the past.”

Maynard calls these programs “restorative justice,” where prisoners work on projects that help the community in a better way than just picking up garbage on the side of the road.

Founded in 1872, when blacks could not be interred next to whites, Mount Auburn was known as “The City of the Dead for Colored People.” The cemetery, which overlooks the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, became the final resting place for many pioneers of Baltimore’s black community.

They include Lillie May Carroll Jackson, who led the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP for 35 years; Carl J. Murphy, a leading voice of the civil rights movement, and his father, John Henry Murphy, the founder of the Afro-American newspaper; and Joseph Gans, the first lightweight boxing champion.

It seems like a good time to bring up a post Dakinikat wrote yesterday about the prison system in her neck of the woods. At least these prisoners are working on something worthwhile. Right?

Corrections officials hope such skills and the experience working on a team will help inmates prepare for a return to society. Those who have participated in such projects have a reduced rate of recidivism.

Not just any inmate can participate in the program, Maynard said. To be eligible, prisoners must have committed less-serious crimes, be nearing release, and earn their way into the program. They earn “a dollar or two” a day for their labor, officials said.

Learning about the historical significance of the sites is built into much of the work.

Maynard said the inmates who worked around Antietam “probably didn’t know the history of the Civil War.”

“They didn’t know what sacrifice was made, for both sides, for saving the Union and state’s rights,” he said. “So all of a sudden, they’re a part of history. That’s going to help them change their mentality and what they’re worth as a person.”

Hmmm, I don’t know what to make of the comment about the Civil War, sounds a bit strange in context with the sentence “they earn a dollar or two a day” doesn’t it? I mean, seems like something was left out…like…Emancipation?  Well, lets move on…

This is very cool: This 121-Megapixel Photo of Earth Will Make Your Jaw Drop

earthNeed something to put things into perspective on a Monday morning? Our suggestion: The largest single-shot photo of Earth ever taken.

Eclipsing NASA’s updated “Blue Marble” shot, which is a composite of many satellite images, this image is a single-shot taken from 22,369 miles away by Russian weather satellite Elektro-L No.1.

The colors on the 121-megapixel photo are quite different from the ones on NASA’s photos of Earth. To capture the image, the satellite combines visible and infrared wavelengths of light. Infrared light is used to see plants, which is why the parts of the Earth that would normally be green are seen as rusty brown.

For a time-lapse video of the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, click the link above.

I’ve got one more link for you, this is also about prisoners…of war…World War I that is. Renoir’s Vision for a United Europe in ‘Grand Illusion’ It is the 75th Anniversary of this masterpiece directed by Jean Renoir.

Rialto Pictures

Jean Renoir directed the classic “Grand Illusion” (1937) starring Pierre Fresnay, left, and Erich Von Stroheim.

“GRAND ILLUSION” had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 1937, and it has been around ever since, by enduring consensus one of the greatest films ever made. It is true that Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief and cultural arbiter, was not a fan, but Mussolini, patron of the festival and Europe’s leading fascist cinephile, kept a print in his personal collection. Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that “all the democracies in the world must see this film,” which is still sound advice. The nations that fall within that rubric may have grown in number since those days, but none of those democracies, old or new, is so secure as to be immune to the lessons of Jean Renoir’s great and piercing antiwar comedy.

Which is not to say that “Grand Illusion” is didactic, though it is, like much of the art of its era, unapologetic about its social concerns and political implications. It survives partly as a document of those volatile times, and of the idealism that persisted through them even as history prepared a new, unimaginable round of horrors. Seventy-five years on, Europe is far from a state of war, but in light of its current crisis — which is not only economic and political, but also, once again, a crisis of identity — Renoir’s film is still news.

In France the late 1930s were the years of the Popular Front, an attempt by the left to counter the rise of fascism and overcome its own tendencies toward sectarianism and orthodoxy. The political face of the front was Léon Blum, a moderate Jewish Socialist whose two truncated, frustrating terms as prime minister coincided with the production and release of Renoir’s film. It is hardly incidental that the friendship at the heart of “Grand Illusion” — the alliance that carries the germ of its political hope — is between Lieutenant Maréchal, a proudly working-class Parisian played by Jean Gabin, and Rosenthal, an assimilated, wealthy French Jew played by Marcel Dalio. The action takes place during World War I (in which Renoir had served as a pilot), when the Dreyfus Affair was still a recent memory, but it has an eye on contemporary anti-Semitism and labor militancy as well as a subtle, anxious premonition of global conflicts to come.

The film has been restored, and is being shown on screens across the US:

The new, digitally restored 35-millimeter print (made from a newly unearthed camera negative) playing at Film Forum in Manhattan through May 24 is not a revelation or a rediscovery. It is, instead, a sparkling reminder of how a movie absorbed in its own historical moment and preoccupied with the legacies of the past can resonate into a future that lies beyond its specific range of imagination (while looking at least as luminous as it did when Mussolini first laid eyes on it).

Please read the rest of the NYT article, it describes the film’s sensitivity to the human characters on the screen. It is a wonderful film. If you live in one of the cities on the list below, be sure to see it on the big screen.

:: Grand Illusion ::

::    May 11 – 24    NEW YORK,  NY    Film Forum
::    May 18 – 31    LOS ANGELES,  CA    Laemmle’s Royal Theatre
::    May 18 – 31    PASADENA,  CA    Laemmle’s Playhouse 7
::    June 1 – 3    SAN FRANCISCO,  CA    Castro Theatre
::    June 8 – 14    DALLAS,  TX    Angelika Film Center
::    June 16 – 17    AUSTIN,  TX    Paramount Theatre
::    June 29 – July 5    CHICAGO,  IL    Gene Siskel Film Center
::    July 6 – 12    PORTLAND,  OR    Cinema 21
::    July 13 – 19    SEATTLE,  WA    Northwest Film Forum
::    July 27    ST. LOUIS,  MO    Cinema St. Louis

That is all I have for you this morning, enjoy your day and share what you are reading about today…


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Let’s get right to the news. I’m going to start with a couple of items that should particularly interest Dakinikat. First, Charlie Pierce wrote a post yesterday about Bobby Jindal’s campaign for VP.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be your vice-president. (He may also want to be your president, too, but being your vice-president first is an easy way to do that.) His first audition for the second slot was to become the prime surrogate for the relentless juggernaut that was the Rick Perry campaign.

(This was a juggernaut only in the sense that people watched Perry speak in the debates and asked each other, “Is he hitting the jug or not?” Thank you. I’ll be back for the late show.)

Once he rode that baby straight into the ground, Jindal decided to campaign for the job on his own, all the while hoping that nobody in the country remembers his memorable “reply” to the president’s State of the Union address back in 2009, during which Jindal looked like a 12-year old wearing his grandfather’s suit, the one in which Jindal scoffed at federal spending on “volcano monitoring” a little more than a year before a big hunk of Iceland blew up and nearly destroyed the airline industry in Europe.

Pierce is reacting to Jindal’s op-ed at the WSJ: Obama’s Politicized Energy Policy

With rising energy costs making it more expensive to drive our cars, heat our homes, and fuel our sputtering economy, many Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for a failure to adopt a comprehensive energy policy. I believe that critique lets the president off too easily. His administration does have a national energy policy—it’s just a subservient by-product of his radical environmental policy.

This administration willfully ignores rational choices that would lower energy prices and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources.

Bla, bla, bla…”rational” advice from a guy who believes in exorcism.

We all lost an hour of our lives a couple of days ago when the government made us “spring forward” into daylight savings time (DST). I love it, because it means it stays light a little longer at the end of the day here in New England, but Dak hates what it does to her down in New Orleans. Of course up here in the north, I don’t have the problem of darkness in the early morning.

The Christian Science Monitor had an interesting article on DST yesterday. CSM reports on a psychological study that found that workers are sleepy the next day after the time change (duh!) and are more likely to waste time on the internet at work. “Global productivity losses from a spike in employee cyberloafing are potentially staggering,” the researchers conclude.

CSM says that the origins of DST go way back. It was “originally proposed by a 19th century butterfly collector who wanted more time at the end of the workday to scour fields for insects,” and was first implemented “during World War I (peacetime standardization came in 1966).”

The most recent real adjustment in the US came in 2007, when the change was moved up to the second Sunday in March from the first Sunday in April to lengthen “summertime” and gauge potential energy savings. Polls showed farmers, perennial DST opponents, grumbled, and sports retailers (who benefit from the extra hour of daylight for play time after work) rejoiced.

If you’re worried about lost sleep, you might want to read this article at Alternet: The 8-Hour Sleep Myth: How I Learned That Everything I Knew About Sleep Was Wrong. Apparently it’s not really natural for humans to sleep through the night. The author read about this in a BBC article. Here’s the gist from the Alternet piece:

Turns out that psychiatrist Thomas Wehr ran an experiment back in the ‘90s in which people were thrust into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. When their sleep regulated, a strange pattern emerged. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before drifting off again into a second four-hour sleep.

Historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech would not have been surprised by this pattern. In 2001, he published a groundbreaking paper based on 16 years of research, which revealed something quite amazing: humans did not evolve to sleep through the night in one solid chunk. Until very recently, they slept in two stages. Shazam.

In his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, Ekrich presents over 500 references to these two distinct sleep periods, known as the “first sleep” and the “second sleep,” culled from diaries, court records, medical manuals, anthropological studies, and literature, including The Odyssey. Like an astrolabe pointing to some forgotten star, these accounts referenced a first sleep that began two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

This waking period, known in some cultures as the “watch,” was filled with everything from bringing in the animals to prayer. Some folks visited neighbors. Others smoked a pipe or analyzed their dreams. Often they lounged in bed to read, chat with bedfellows, or have much more refreshing sex than we modern humans have at bedtime. A 16th-century doctor’s manual prescribed sex after the first sleep as the most enjoyable variety.

That makes me feel a lot better, since I’ve rarely ever been able to sleep through the night, and in my later years, I have a terrible time falling asleep in the first place.

In political news, President Obama’s approval rating has suddenly tanked, supposedly because of gas prices.

Despite improving job growth and an extended Republican primary fight dividing his would-be opponents, President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

At a time of rising gas prices, heightened talk of war with Iran and setbacks in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 percent of respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 percent saying they disapprove — a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking re-election.

Which is kind of scary because of the horrifying Republican presidential candidates. It’s still early, so I’m not panicking just yet. Speaking of the clown car crew, there are four primaries today–in Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa. I’m not sure if we’ll have a live blog, because the last one was a bit of dud. If you’d like to have one, please say so in the comments to this post. We’ll definitely post the results tonight though.

As of last night, Romney was in the running in both Alabama and Mississippi, where the polls show Romney Gingrich, and Santorum all running neck and neck. The worst news is that Romney is now leading Obama by 5 points nationally.

The next item drew a {heavy sigh} from me. A new PPP poll found that a whole lot of voters in Alabama and Mississippi think President Obama is a Muslim. {{Heavy sigh….}}

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Some folks in these two deep South state don’t care for interracial marriages like the one that produced Barack Obama.

67% of Alabama Republicans saying they believe interracial marriage should be legal, though 21% said it still should be against the law. In Mississippi, 54% said it should be allowed, while 29% said it should remain illegal.

The preferred Republican candidate of those opposed to interracial marriage? Newt Gingrich. In Mississippi, Gingrich led Romney among that group 40% to 27%, and held a 38%-27% advantage in Alabama.

I am soooooo glad I don’t live in Alabama or Mississippi! Alexandra Petri of the WaPo calls it “the time traveler vote.” She says that voters must have just arrived from the 1920s.

I don’t know why it didn’t strike me sooner. So many of the issues at stake this year are Issues I Thought We Resolved Several Decades Ago. This is 2012, with lots of economic distress and voter unrest to go around. Why are we suddenly prioritizing Taking Back Control Of Women’s Bodies For The State?

But if you consider the Time Traveling Vote, it all makes sense.

I am not sure how big the vote is. But if the recent actions of many state legislatures are to be taken into account, it is surely substantial.

To visitors from the past, these issues are still pressing and vital. They don’t care about jobs! Once the election’s over, they’re headed back to 1926, where the economy is still roaring and everyone is flapping and doing the Charleston.

It certainly makes more sense than the assumption that they’ve simply been ignoring all the headlines, most of the textbooks, the entire women’s rights movement and the scientific consensus for decades.

Some love letters between the young Richard Nixon and his future wife Pat will be displayed at the Nixon Library. They are said to show Nixon’s “sensitive side.” A sample:

“Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. In fact I should always want you to live just as you wanted – because if you didn’t then you would change and wouldn’t be you,” Nixon wrote in one of the letters, part of a rotating display at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

“Let’s go for a long ride Sundays; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours,” he continued.

Whatever happened to that guy?

Finally, have you heard that Arlen Specter has a memoir coming out? Naturally, it’s full of complaints. Harry Reid stabbed him in the back after promising to give Specter seniority as a Democrat if he switched parties. Obama and Biden didn’t help him in his primary campaign against Joe Sestak. The most interesting revelation in the article in The Hill is that Bob Dole told Specter he (Dole) would have switched parties too.

“Dole told me I had done the right thing, that I had done a terrific job as a senator, been involved in a lot of projects, been very active, and hadn’t gotten credit for a lot of the stuff I had done,” he wrote.

“I said, ‘Bob, I think that it’s very meaningful when you say that I did the right thing, in the party change.’

“He said, ‘Well,’ and then paused and thought for a few seconds. Then he said, ‘I probably would have done the same thing.’ ”

Never mind all that. I want to read about Specter’s role in the Warren Commission and how he dreamed up the “single bullet theory.”

That’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about today?