Monday Reads: Cosby and Crimes Against Women and Children

new-york-magazine-bill-cosby

Good Morning!!

New York Magazine’s latest cover features 35 women who say they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. At the moment the link to the “13-page photo essay” is unavailable–apparently the site has crashed.

From The Guardian: Bill Cosby accusers detail trauma and betrayal in magazine.

Thirty-five women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them have spoken out in an explosive photo essay for New York magazine. More than 40 women have so far accused the comedian of sexual assault, but the cover story represents a sea change in how the comedian’s alleged victims have been publicly perceived.

On Sunday, the magazine published excerpts of interviews with each woman for a 13-page photo essay, covering accusations they have made against the comedian and the backlash they have faced.

“Listen, he was America’s favorite dad,” saidBarbara Bowman, who says she was raped as a 17-year-old actress. She made her case public in 2004, when testifying on behalf of Andrea Constand, who said she was also one of Cosby’s victims.

“I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad,” Bowman told the magazine. “To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick.

“It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot denial and a lot of anger.”

Inside Higher Ed reports: Spelman Discontinues Cosby Professorship.

Spelman College announced Friday that it is discontinuing an endowed professorship named for Bill Cosby and his wife. “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship at Spelman College has been discontinued and related funds have been returned to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation,” said a statement from the college. A spokeswoman declined to comment further. Bill and Camille Cosby are major donors to Spelman and an academic building is named for Camille Cosby. The Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation was created by Bill Cosby to provide grants to historically black colleges.

The hardest thing for many people to understand about this is the way Camille Cosby has stood by her husband through the many years it has taken for this entire ugly business to play out. Was she simply in denial? Was she reluctant to give up the money and fame that came with being the wife of a powerful man? We may never know, but she was apparently an active force in her husband’s defense.

Bill and Camille Cosby

Bill and Camille Cosby

From the July 12 New York Post: Bill Cosby’s wife says accusers ‘consented’ to drugs and sex.

Bill Cosby’s wife knows her husband is a serial philanderer, but believes his scores of accusers consented to drugs and sex, two confidants of the couple say.

Last week’s revelation that Cosby admitted during a deposition that he intended to ply women with Quaaludes before bedding them barely fazed Camille Cosby, the ­insiders told The Post.

“Camille still doesn’t believe that Bill provided drugs and had sex with women without their consent,” said a source employed by the Cosby family. “She’s well aware of his cheating, but she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist.”

Mrs. Cosby is “a proud, dignified but stubborn woman. You can say that she’s standing by her husband, but really, the more people stand against him, the more she perceives it as an affront to her and all that she’s done to make him a star,” said another source who’s done business with the ­Cosbys and remains close to them.

Camille Cosby, 71, who is also her 78-year-old husband’s business manager, demanded last week at a crisis meeting with advisers that their lawyers and p.r. specialists “get back out in front of this,” the business source said.

“I created him, I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this,” she told the gathering at a meeting at the couple’s Shelburne Falls, Mass., home Tuesday night.

There’s more disgusting stuff at the link. According to the Post’s sources, Camille was also angered that longtime Cosby defenders have been changing their positions in light of recent revelations.

At Refinery 29, Kelsey Miller argues that women like Dottie Sandusky (wife of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky) and Camille Cosby can be simultaneoursly enablers and victims.

The Complicated Case Of Camille Cosby.

It is easy and tempting to make assumptions about Camille Cosby. “That poor woman,” some say. “That idiot,” say others. And, to some, she is “that monster.” Pity or vilification are the textbook responses to spouses in these cases. Watching and waiting for Camille’s next move, I’m reminded of last year’s TODAYinterview with Dottie Sandusky (wife of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who in 2012 was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys)….

Last week, The New York Post shared a widely reported story that Camille (also her husband’s business manager) had held a crisis meeting with Bill’s team to discuss damage control. “I created him. I knew what I was getting, and we’ll fix this,” she was quoted by a source as having said. It was also alleged that she referred to the “infidelities” as an embarrassment she’d long since reconciled herself with, and emphasized them as just that — affairs, and not assaults.

Of course, reports like this should be taken with a hefty handful of salt, but it’s worth noting that Camille’s supposed remarks are certainly in keeping with Cosby’s own in the deposition. Both reveal the kind of psychological gymnastics that allow someone to leap over the evidence at hand — to find acceptable, ordinary dalliances where many would see something much more sinister….

To believe that Camille Cosby is an evil, calculating accomplice to the crimes her husband’s been accused of would be to ignore the possibility that she’s just another victim of those same alleged crimes.

Conversely, to believe that Dottie Sandusky is merely a naive grandma would be to ignore the magnificent power of deliberate denial. We know nothing of the internal lives of these women, nor can we speak to the dynamic of their marriages. Is it likely they knew of their husbands’ actions? Certainly. It is just as likely that they were subject to manipulation and abuse themselves.

The point being: One does not cancel out the other. It’s a cognitive dissonance that neither mainstream media nor its consumers can seem to resolve. We want clear answers and archetypes, and instead we’re stuck with real people, none of whom are entirely good or entirely monstrous.

I suppose Miller has a point, but it’s difficult for me to have much sympathy with either of these enabling wives. Each of these women appear to have actively covered up their husbands’ criminal behavior and allowed these men to damage the lives of so many young men and women.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Also in the news . . .

CBS Local 11: History Of Racial Tension Where Bland Died.

Waller County was named for Edwin Waller, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, who four years later became the first elected mayor of Austin. Whites make up 44 percent of the 47,000 residents, Hispanics 29 percent and blacks 25 percent.

First settled in the early 1820s, the area became home to slave-labor cotton plantations. Hempstead was incorporated in 1858 thanks to a railroad terminus.

The plantations were dismantled with the end of the Civil War in 1865. Three years later, historical records report a race riot, followed by unrest in the 1880s, when a White Man’s Party was established to blunt active black political participation in the county where blacks outnumbered whites.

That’s when violence blamed on the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups gave it the “Six Shooter” sobriquet.

More recently, voter intimidation and voting-rights complaints have arisen from students at Prairie View A&M University, a college established in 1876 specifically to train black teachers.

The complaints led to a federal lawsuit. The district attorney at the time, in 2004, reached a settlement and apologized. But the issue resurfaced only two years later and again in 2008, when additional early voting sites in the county were established only after federal pressure.

“There’s a lot of prejudice going on,” said Eugene Hood, citing a history of police harassment as he cut hair at Chad’s Barber Shop on University Drive, just south of where Bland was arrested outside the main entrance to the university.

Marie Armstrong of Dallas, a Prairie View senior, remembers being pulled over and ticketed for a broken brake light and being forced to go court. She wished police would exercise some judgment.

More at the link.

A courageous woman who killed a man who was beating and trying to strangle her may have rid the world of a dangerous serial killer. David Lohr at Huffington Post:  Neal Falls, Man Killed By Escort, Had Cache Of Weapons And List Of Prostitutes, Police Say.

Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle, police said Wednesday.

The items, as well as statements the woman said Falls made to her, led police to suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.

“He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post.

Police also found a list containing the names of an unspecified number of women inside the man’s vehicle.

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the "murder kit" police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the “murder kit” police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

More details from a previous report by Lohr:

The man…was shot and killed in Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday, according to WCHS-TV. The incident reportedly occurred after he met a female escort through Backpage.com, an online classified ad portal that is often used by men seeking prostitutes.

“The details that we’re able to release right now are that there was a struggle … that the man had beaten and strangled the woman and gotten her onto the ground, laid the gun down as he was dragging her back through the house, and she was able to pick the gun up and fire over her shoulder blindly, and the bullet did strike the man, killing him,” Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper told the Charleston Gazette on Saturday.

Police in nearby Chillicothe, OH, are looking into the possibility that Falls could be responsible for the disappearances of 6 Ohio women.

“We are in communication with Charleston regarding that situation,” Bud Lytle, a spokesman and crime prevention officer for the Chillicothe Police Department, told The Huffington Post. “Obviously, it’s not a great distance from us and it involved a prostitute and an individual known to pick up prostitutes.”

Falls, who was originally from Oregon, is also be investigated by authorities in Nevada, according to Lohr: Neal Falls Investigation Expands To Las Vegas-Area Dismemberments: EXCLUSIVE

“We received information that caused a conversation to take place between us and law enforcement in Henderson, Nevada,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post on Thursday.

Cooper said he couldn’t discuss specific cases Nevada authorities are now looking into because the investigation “is ongoing and we don’t want to risk comprising [sic] it.”

The FBI also is investigating, a law enforcement source told The Huffington Post on Friday. A spokesman didn’t immediately answer a request for comment.

CBS News: Woman who killed alleged serial killer recounts final fight.

Falls was answering an online ad for an escort, police said, when he showed up to a Charleston, West Virginia, home.

The woman, who wants only to be known as “Heather,” answered the door.

She said Falls, armed with a gun, asked her: “live or die?” Then he started choking her.

“When he strangled me, I grabbed my rake, and when he laid the gun down to get the rake out of my hands, I shot him,” Heather said. “I grabbed the gun and shot behind me.”

Heather ran out of the house and flagged down a neighbor, who called 911. The neighbor said she “had to defend herself,” and she had “cuts and stuff all over her.” ….

Police are not charging Heather for the shooting, which they say was in self-defense. “I knew he was there to kill me,” Heather said.

See a video of Heather describing her ordeal at WCHS ABC Local 8.

This turned into a post about crime, but–as I have written previously–for me rape and sexual assault are political issues. Crimes against women and children are often ignored and covered up in our society, with the media as enabler.

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Just take a look at Dakinikat’s post from yesterday. She points out that the media are largely ignoring the fact that Louisiana mass shooter John Russell Houser specifically targeted women who were watching a movie created by a feminist.

So, let me address the mainstream media and police confusion about Houser’s “choices” of victim.  These are the same groups of people that rarely address the daily violence against and murder of women by the men in their lives. This is from a blog that tracks and monitors male misogyny called “We Hunted the Mammoth”. The author is David Futrelle.

Police in Lafayette, Louisiana are evidently struggling to understand why the outspokenly misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic John Russell “Rusty” Houser murdered two women and wounded 9 other moviegoers at a showing of “Trainwreck,” a film written by and starring Amy Schumer, a feminist comedian with a Jewish father, known for joking frankly about sex.

Please check out Dak’s post if you haven’t read it yet.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Monday.


Thursday Reads

Lane change

Good Afternoon!!

I’m getting a very slow start today–sorry about that! This is going to be pretty much a link dump.

I just can’t stop thinking about Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman–who still isn’t getting much attention from the national media. There is a nice article about Kindra in The Independent UK today.

Kindra Darnell Chapman was booked at the Homewood County Jail on a first-degree robbery charge after allegedly stealing another person’s cellphone, AL.com reported.

Family members and activists have compared the teen’s death to the case of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman found hanged in a Texas jail cell just a day prior. Kathy Brady, the teen’s mother told AL.com that she believes police officers have killed her daughter….

A family member, who requested to not be identified, told My Fox Alabama that Chapman was a “wonderful person who did not deserve this.”

“She was a great person. She loved her sisters, her brother, she loved everybody. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Kindra Chapman

Kindra Chapman

Police claim Kindra committed suicide. Two so-called suicides of black women in two days? Their families are demanding answers and Americans need to make sure they get truthful ones.

Police claim they last saw her alive at 6:30pm and at 7:50pm, they found her hanged by a bedsheets in her cell. The teen was rushed to Brookwood Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

A Change.org petition titled “We want immediate full disclosure on the alleged suicide of Kindra Darnell Chapman” demands transparency in the ongoing investigation. Nearly 2,700 signatures supported the petition as of Thursday morning.

A spokesperson from the Jefferson County DA’s office told The Independent that the autopsy may take up to four weeks and toxicology report may take six to eight, a usual time frame for the reports in Alabama.

The Sandra Bland case is getting massive coverage. Yesterday it was revealed that the video of Bland’s arrest had serious anomalies. The first to call attention to this was journalist Ben Norton. From his website: Dashcam Video of Violent Arrest of Sandra Bland Was Edited. If you go to that link, there are a number of updates. From the original piece:

The Texas Department of Public Safety uploaded dashcam police video of the arrest to YouTube on 21 July. Parts of the approximately 52 minutes of footage it uploaded appear to have been doctored.

A man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated….

At 32:37, a white car drives into the left side of the frame, then promptly disappears in the middle of the road. Seconds later, the same car drives back into the frame and subsequently turns left. This footage is later looped several times.

A different white car also drives into the left side of the frame and turns left from 32:49 to 32:59. The previous white car again briefly enters the frame at 33:04, and once more at 33:06, yet it suddenly disappears both times. When these cuts are made in the footage, the lights on top of the truck in the center of the frame also abruptly cut out.

At 33:08, the exact same footage from 32:37 is repeated, followed by the same second white car at 33:17….

It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking. Who exactly edited the footage is unknown, but the video was recorded by police and released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Please go to the link to read the rest along with multiple updates. Here’s just one:

They told the Texas Tribune that the video has not been edited. This seems unlikely. It is possible parts of the repeated footage are encoding errors, but it is unlikely that the 15-second repeated clip of a man leaving the truck is an encoding error.

Others have also noted that police dashcam videos usually have timecode on the footage. In this video, the timecode do not appear. Why this is is unclear. There is no answer at this point and an investigation needs to be conducted. A possibility some have suggested, however, is that, if the footage was indeed edited, as it likely was, whoever edited it zoomed in on the video or cropped the timecode.

The LA Times has also examined the police videos closely. Today they have a side-by-side comparison of the video with the anomalies vs. the “cleaned-up” video.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Waller County officials are getting plenty of pushback. From KHOU:

Police agencies and city halls throughout Waller County continue to receive angry and sometimes threatening phone calls and emails from across the country after the tragic jail death of Sandra Bland.

And along with the Bland’s death, city leaders and residents say they also mourn the negative national spotlight the incident has brought to this corner of Southeast Texas.

“We are in some way being judged and victimized by people that don’t know us and are making assumptions about us,” said Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, who has held face-to-face meetings with the Bland family.

Oh, boo hoo. Too f**king bad. Stop victimizing black people who drive cars through your county then.

The corporate media has mostly been focusing on trying to make Bland look like a crazy, depressed drug user. It also turns out she had epilepsy; and when she told the arresting officer that, he said “Good!” as he continued to manhandle her. The simple truth is that she never should have been stopped in the first place; and once she was stopped, the officer escalated the confrontation in unconstitutional ways. Regardless of how she died, Sandra Bland should be alive today and working in her new job.

Selected headlines on the Sandra Bland case:

Huffington Post: 6 Things You Should Know About The County Where Sandra Bland Died. This part of Texas has a long, complicated relationship with race.

Think Progress: What The Supreme Court Has To Say About Sandra Bland’s Arrest.

The New Republic: Sandra Bland Never Should Have Been Arrested.

CNN: Twitter responds to jail deaths with ‘if I die in police custody.’

CBS Chicago: Apparent Voice Mail From Sandra Bland Released; Tests Revealed Marijuana, Cutting Scars.

CTV News: Sandra Bland was incredulous, aggravated in calls from jail: report.

ABC News: Sandra Bland Had ‘Lows and Highs,’ Her Sister Says. (Who the hell doesn’t? I hate to think what they’d write about me from my past history!)

More News Headlines

NY Times: Kenya Trip Takes Obama Back to a Complex Part of Himself.

Dallas Morning News: Kenya eagerly awaits Obama visit.

CNN: Obama’s trip raises security concerns.

LA Times: The Reading Life: Happy birthday to me — and Raymond Chandler. (Today would have been Raymond Chandler’s 127th birthday.)

NY Times:E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84; Literary Time Traveler Stirred Past Into Fiction.

NBC News: Donald Trump’s Border Wall Would Cost Billions, Experts Say.

NY Times: Donald Trump Threatens Third Party Candidacy.

NPR: Texas Fights Suit After Denying Birth Certificates To Children Of Illegal Immigrants.

Raw Story: Lesbian couple breaks silence: We filed complaint against Oregon bakery to ‘stop being bullied.’

Brian Murphy at TPM Cafe: How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors.

Dallas Morning News: Ted B. Lyon Jr.: Let’s get real about Rick Perry’s Texas record

 


Tuesday Reads: #BlackLivesMatter

BlackWomenMatterTwitterphoto

Good Morning!!

Before I get going with my post, I want to note that Hillary will be hosting a Facebook chat this afternoon. You can post questions and read about it here.

Now to today’s reads. While the Sandra Bland case is still being investigated in Texas, another young black woman has died in police custody and once again authorities are claiming it was a suicide.

NewsOne: Another Black Woman Dies In Jail Cell, Alabama Police Claim It Was Suicide.

Authorities in Alabama claim a teen committed suicide in a jail cell an hour after being arrested, another suspicious case of a Black woman dying in police custody in the past week.

Kindra Darnell Chapman, 18, was jailed last Tuesday for allegedly stealing someone’s phone on the street, according to the Huffington Post. Chapman was charged with first-degree robbery and was last seen alive at 6:30 p.m. When officers went to check on Chapman an hour later, she was found unresponsive.

Chapman was pronounced dead at Brookwood Medical Center from apparent asphyxiation.

Kindra Chapman

Kindra Chapman

At the New York Times, Charles Blow writes, Sandra and Kindra: Suicides or Something Sinister?

Although the mantra “Black Lives Matter” was developed by black women, I often worry that in the collective consciousness it carries with it an implicit masculine association, one that renders subordinate or even invisible the very real and concurrent subjugation and suffering of black women, one that assigns to these women a role of supporter and soother and without enough space or liberty to express and advocate for their own.

Last week, the prism shifted a bit, as America and the social justice movement focused on the mysterious cases of two black women who died in police custody.

The first and most prominent was Sandra Bland, a black woman from suburban Chicago who had moved to Texas to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A & M University, a historically black school about 50 miles northwest of Houston.

Is it just a coincidence that a young black woman died similarly in an Alabama jail cell?

Then, there was the case of 18-year-old Kindra Chapman, arrested on Tuesday in Alabama for allegedly stealing a cellphone. According to AL.com: “Jailers last saw her alive at 6:30 p.m. She was found unresponsive at 7:50 p.m. Authorities said she used a bed sheet to hang herself.” According to the paper, she had been booked in the Homewood City Jail at 6:22 p.m.

The deaths seem odd: young women killing themselves after only being jailed only a few days or a less than a couple hours, before a trial or conviction, for relatively minor crimes.

And the official explanations that they were suicides run counter to prevailing patterns of behavior as documented by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which has found that, on the whole, men are more likely to commit suicide in local jails than women, young people are less likely to do so than older people, and black people are the least likely to do so than any other racial or ethnic group.

sandra-bland-360x240

I think these two similar deaths of black women need to be closely examined by independent investigators from the Department of Justice.

As Blow noted, the tragic deaths of Sandra and Kindra call attention to the fact that the lives of black women as well as black men are in danger when they come in contact with police. Even if these women did commit suicide, most likely neither would have been in jail if they were white. Would a policeman have stopped a white woman for not signaling a late change and then slammed her head on the pavement as a Texas officer did to Sandra Bland? I don’t think so.

Over the weekend, I read a long article at the Huffington Post about what happens to young people who end up in the adult prison system. It’s a shocking and heartbreaking story, and it’s extremely important. I hope you’ll read it, because I can’t possibly do it justice with excerpts.

Cruel And All-Too-Usual: A Terrifying Glimpse Into Life In Prison–As a Kid,  Story by Dana Liebelson, Art by Luke Tedaldi. The story is also accompanied by graphic videos. Here’s the introductory section of the story:

When the video above was filmed, the girl on the bed was 17 years old. For the purposes of this story, I’ll call her Jamie. There was a time when she liked acting in goofy comedy skits at her Detroit church or crawling into bed with her grandmother to watch TV. She loved to sing—her favorite artist was Chris Brown—but she was too shy to perform in front of other people.

Jamie, whose mother was addicted to crack cocaine, was adopted when she was 3. At high school, she fell in with a wayward crowd and started drinking and smoking weed. Since she didn’t always get along with her adoptive mom, she lived with a close family friend from her church whom she referred to as her sister. One fall day in 2011, they got into a bad fight over their living arrangements. The friend told police that Jamie threw a brick at her, hitting her in the chest, and then banged the brick so hard on the front door that she broke the glass mail chute. Jamie denies the assault—and the police report notes that the brick may not have hit her friend—but she admitted to officers that she was “mad” and “trying to get back in the house.” The Wayne County court gave her two concurrent six-month sentences, for assault and destruction of a building.

w10

In a wealthier Michigan county, kids convicted of minor offenses are almost always sentenced to community service, like helping out at the local science center. Doug Mullkoff, a criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor, told me that prison in such circumstances is “virtually unheard of.” But Jamie is from Detroit, and in January 2012, she was sent to the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, a prison that holds inmates convicted of crimes like first-degree homicide. From this point onward, her world was largely governed by codes and practices and assumptions designed for adult criminals.

Jamie is 20 now, but her soft brown eyes make her seem younger. When she first came to prison, women old enough to be her mother told her she was cute and promised to take care of her. “They rub on you and stuff, I can’t stand it,” she said. In the seven months before her 18th birthday, prison records show that Jamie was housed with at least three adult cellmates, including one in her 50s who had a history of cocaine possession. Jamie said she was also around adults in the showers and the yard. She had a bunkmate who did drugs she had never been around before, “something you snort.”

In this environment, Jamie found it hard to stay out of trouble. And when trouble came, she didn’t know how to explain herself to the guards. According to Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), Jamie “failed in every instance” to meet good-behavior standards that under Michigan law allow certain inmates to have their records scrubbed clean after they serve their sentences. In June 2012, Jamie’s special status was revoked and she was resentenced to up to five years in prison for her original crime.

When this news sank in, Jamie snapped.

Remember this?

Remember this?

That led to the scene in the video, in which Jamie was essentially tortured by prison employees during their efforts to control her. This scene is just one example of the horrible treatment that minors receive in the U.S. prison system, as more and more juveniles are tried and sentenced as adults. Liebelson writes:

In the course of reporting on a lawsuit against the Michigan prison system, I obtained a series of videos depicting the treatment of underage inmates in adult facilities, as well as hundreds of prison documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and other sources. (Jamie is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.) These materials show under-18-year-olds being restrained, held in solitary confinement, forcibly extracted from their cells, tasered, and allegedly sexually assaulted. Some of these incidents would not violate any official rulebook, but are simply accepted practices inside adult correctional institutions.

In 1822, when prison reformers in New York proposed the nation’s first juvenile institution, they saw the need to keep children separate from adults as “too obvious to require any argument.” The juvenile justice system was founded on the idea that young people are capable of change, and so society has a responsibility to help them overcome early mistakes in life. More recent science has only confirmed this principle. Because adolescents’ brains are still developing, their patterns of behavior not yet fixed, they have a far better chance of being rehabilitated than adults. And yet this potential is lost in prisons and jails, which barely recognize any distinction between adults and minors. Amy Fettig, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, said, “The adult system is not designed in any way, shape or form to treat children, to rehabilitate children, or to recognize that children are different than adults.”

That is no longer the case in our country.  Children are thrown into prisons with adults who take advantage of them and prison authorities who have no training in dealing with teenage offenders. As always in our system, the situation is likely to be worse for African American than white young people. I hope you will take the time to read this important story.

Kelvin Sewell, author, homicide cop, and recently fired police chief.

Kelvin Sewell, author, homicide cop, and recently fired police chief.

A few days ago, The Washington Post published a story that demonstrates that law enforcement personnel who are black can also face greater challenges than white officers and administrators.

Racial turmoil in Md.’s ‘Friendliest Town’ after black police chief is fired.

— The crowd gathered outside City Hall last week, demanding that their community’s first black police chief — fired amid allegations leveled against white officers of departmental racism — be given his job back.

In a place that bills itself as the “Friendliest Town on the Eastern Shore,” angry residents marched with posters that read “We Support Chief Kelvin Sewell” and jammed inside the quaint red-brick building to voice their outrage to the Pocomoke City Council.

Pocomoke City has been on edge since Sewell was fired by the council June 29. According to the former chief and his supporters, he was sacked for refusing to dismiss two black officers who described working in a hostile environment.

The chief was fired because he supported the two officers in an EEOC complaint!

The officers alleged in complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that they faced racism that was overt and rampant — allegations the city denies. Among the incidents alleged: a food stamp superimposed with President Obama’s face that was left on a black detective’s desk and a text message that read, “What is ya body count nigga?”

“This is one of the most egregious cases of primary racial discrimination and retaliation for assertion of rights before the EEOC that I’ve seen,” said Andrew G. McBride, co-counsel for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, which is representing Sewell. “Chief Sewell has a fantastic record as a police officer. He was terminated because he stood up for two African American officers who filed an EEOC complaint.”

It’s unbelievable! We’ve gone through nearly 8 years with our first African American President, and concurrently we’ve seen shocking levels of overt racism come to the fore in this country. We’ve seen one political party basically surrender to the racism of its political base. Where do we go from here? Where do we start to change this?

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a good day.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Marilyn reading

Good Afternoon!!

There was another suspicious death of an African American in police custody–and this time it’s a woman named Sandra Bland.

“What Happened to Sandy?”

The Guardian: ‘What happened to Sandy?’: protesters tie Sandra Bland case to US race tensions.

Demonstrators in Texas on Friday staged a protest outside the county jail where a black woman was found hanged in her cell, three days after she was arrested following an altercation stemming from a stop for a minor traffic infraction.

About 150 people gathered at the Waller county jail, at a building that also houses the sheriff’s office, then marched the half-mile distance to the courthouse in the small town of Hempstead, near Houston.

Some carried posters asking: “What happened to Sandy?” The official account is that Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old from Chicago who had just moved to Texas to take up a college job, asphyxiated herself in her cell on Monday morning using a plastic bag.

But her family called that conclusion “unfathomable” in a news conference in Chicago on Thursday. And it was not a version of events that protesters found credible, especially in the context of recent high-profile examples of African Americans being killed by law enforcement nationwide. And not in Waller County, which has a long history of racial tension.

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Sandy was stopped for failing to signal before a lane change. What was she doing in jail three days later?

Bland drove down from Chicago last Thursday, arriving in Waller County on Friday for a job interview at the university, her alma mater. She dropped off her bags at his house. Her elation at being offered the post turned to anger, he said, after she was pulled over by police in what turned into a confrontation that saw her being pushed to the ground and charged with assault of a public servant.

They spoke on the phone on Friday night at 10.25pm, Mosley said. Bland said she was slammed to the ground during the incident.

She reportedly posted a video on Facebook in March in which she described herself as battling depression, but Mosley said that was not a reliable indicator of her mindset when she arrived in Texas. Nothing in her personality or behaviour suggested she would take her own life, and she had not been clinically diagnosed as depressed, he said.

“I talked to her on Friday night. She was upbeat, looking forward to posting bond and moving forward,” he said. “This is a girl who had a thirst for life … she did not exhibit any suicidal characteristics.”

More from Sandra’s friend at ABC News.

candle-2009071485706-45780-originalFrom DallasNews.com crime blog: DPS: Violations of agency procedures found in Sandra Bland traffic stop.

AUSTIN – The state Department of Public Safety has found violations in the agency’s “procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy” in the recent stop that resulted in the arrest of Sandra Bland in Waller County.

The department on Friday announced those preliminary findings, saying the trooper involved in the stop has been “assigned administrative duties” until the investigation is complete. The trooper was identified by the Houston Chronicle as 30-year-old Brian Encinia.

Bland, a 28-year old black woman, was found dead Monday in the Waller County Jail from an apparent suicide. She had been arrested last Friday — as a result of the traffic stop — on a charge of assault on a public servant….

The agency said Friday that the video footage will be “shared with the public as soon as possible.” DPS and the Waller County District Attorney have also asked the FBI to conduct a “forensic analysis of the videos” related to the Bland case.

Mother Jones reports: The Texas County Where Sandra Bland Died Is Fraught With Racial Tensions.

Whether or not it was suicide, Bland’s death comes amid an ongoing national conversation about race and criminal justice in America, and casts a spotlight on a county apparently rife with racial tensions. In 2007, Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith was suspended—and eventually fired by city council members—while serving as police chief in Hempstead, a city in Waller County, following accusations of racism by community members. Less than a year after his firing, Smith was elected county sheriff. When asked about the accusations on Thursday, Smith said his firing in 2007 was “political,” and denied that he was a racist.

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The history of Waller County’s racial tensions doesn’t end there. In 2003, the Houston Chronicle reported that two prominent black county officials, DeWayne Charleston and Keith Woods, claimed they were the target of an investigation by the county’s chief prosecutor because of their race. Charleston had been accused of keeping erratic hours and falsifying an employee time-sheet record, according to the Houston Chronicle. Charleston and Woods claimed the Concerned Citizens of Waller County was behind those accusations, and said that the group was conducting a Ku Klux Klan-like campaign against black officials:

Charleston, the county’s first black judge, said a county grand jury has interviewed him, although he declined to elaborate. And Woods, the four-term mayor of Brookshire, is facing questions about his role in the last city election.

“I do believe race plays a big part in what DeWayne and I are facing,” Woods said. “I feel that way because we’re the ones obviously not being given the benefit of the doubt (when) we face contrary decisions by the district attorney.”

Kitzman, 69, a retired state district judge, denies any racist implications in his interest in the two men. He says he’s simply doing his job by looking into complaints brought to him by residents.

Houston Chronicle reporter Leah Binkovitz also pointed out that a disproportionately high number of lynchings have been recorded in Waller County. According to the advocacy group Equal Justice Initiative, the county saw 15 lynchings of African Americans between 1877 and 1950.

News for Fat-Shamers

Here’s some food for thought for all the fat-shamers out there–if they can find time to think about anything other than judging other people’s bodies.

marilyn-monroe-mit-zeitungCBS News: Obese people almost never attain normal weight, study finds.

Weight loss can be a battle for everyone. But a large new study says that for obese people, the odds of reaching normal weight are near impossible.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows the odds of a clinically obese person achieving normal weight without surgical interventions are just 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women in a given year. Among the most morbidly obese, the chances were even worse.

People in the study were somewhat more successful at managing enough weight loss to improve their health, defined as dropping at least 5 percent of body weight. But they often did not maintain the lower weight.

“What our findings suggest is that current strategies used to tackle obesity are not helping the majority of obese patients to lose weight and maintain that weight loss,” lead researcher Alison Fildes, a research psychologist at University College London, told HealthDay.

The study was based on analysis of more than 278,000 people from the UK’s Clinical Practice Research database, tracked between 2004 and 2014, and it highlights the difficulty obese people face in trying to achieve sustained weight loss through diet and exercise alone.

Much more on the study at the link.

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And from The Washington Post: One chart shows why it’s nearly impossible to lose weight and keep it off.

In a given year, the average obese woman has roughly a 1 in 124 chance of returning to a normal weight. And for obese men, the odds are even worse: 1 in 210. As if that weren’t bad enough, obese men and women have very low odds attaining even a 5 percent weight loss in a given year: 1 in 10 for women, and 1 in 12 for men.

Those are the main findings of a new study out today in the American Journal of Public Health, which analyzed electronic health records of over 278,000 people living in England over a nine-year period. “For patients with a BMI of 30 or greater kilograms per meters squared, maintaining weight loss was rare and the probability of achieving normal weight was extremely low,” the study’s authors conclude. “Research to develop new and more effective approaches to obesity management is urgently required.”

Among the people who lost five percent of their weight or more, more than half had gained it back within two years’ time. In a statement, Professor Martin Gulliford, a study author from King’s College London, said: “Current strategies to tackle obesity, which mainly focus on cutting calories and boosting physical activity, are failing to help the majority of obese patients to shed weight and maintain that weight loss.”

Maybe fat people should be forced to eat bacon flavored seaweed as punishment.

Marilyn reading1The Christian Science Monitor: Bacon-flavored seaweed: Better than kale? (+video).

In a bizarre marriage of the best of both food worlds, a team of scientists at Oregon State University have developed a new strain of dulse, an edible seaweed with twice the nutritional value of kale – and an arguably more palatable bacon-like flavor.

The newly developed strain resembles translucent red lettuce and is chock full of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and protein, researchers say.

Dulse, which rhymes with pulse, has been consumed in powder and flake form for centuries in Northern Europe, where it’s added to smoothies or other foods by health-conscious people. But the new strain developed at OSU can be farmed and eaten fresh.

I think I’ll stick with real bacon when I want bacon-flavored food, thank you very much.

Mystery Ship Found

The Washington Post reports on an interesting find off the coast of North Carolina: The mysterious, pre-Civil War shipwreck just discovered off the North Carolina coast.

The Marine scientists didn’t set out to find a shipwreck. But when they deployed their underwater equipment off the North Carolina coast, there it was, lying nearly a mile beneath the surface: a ship carrying an iron chain, red bricks and glass bottles.

Those artifacts suggest the ship could date to the Revolutionary War or the early 19th century. The team of Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of Oregon scientists announced their discovery Friday.

Scientists found the wreck using sonar. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will now try to identify the mysterious ship, including how old it is and its country of origin.

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“Lying more than a mile down in near-freezing temperatures, the site is undisturbed and well preserved,” Bruce Terrell, chief archaeologist of NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program, said in a statement. “Careful archaeological study in the future could definitely tell us more.”

The wreck was found near the Gulf Stream, which was used as a popular trade route to ports in North America, the Caribbean and South America. “Violent storms sent down large numbers of vessels off the Carolina coasts, but few have been located because of the difficulties of depth and working in an offshore environment,” Marine Heritage Program director James Delgado said in a statement.

Other News, Links Only

Voice of America: Frozen Plains Glimpsed on Pluto.

Democracy Now: Newly Released Dashcam Video Shows California Police Shooting Unarmed Man with Hands Up.

New York Times: Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White (WARNING: may make you gag).

Charles Pierce: Here’s Some Stupid for Lunch: David Brooks’ American Dream.

American Psychological Association report on psychologists who helped the CIA torture people.

New York Times: Chattanooga Attacks Claim a Fifth Service Person’s Life.

Newsweek: KKK, Black Panther Groups to Hold Opposing Confederate Flag Rallies.

Naomi Klein at The New Yorker: A Radical Vatican?

Huffington Post: A Note About Our Coverage of Donald Trump’s ‘Campaign.’

Boston Globe on Massachusetts cold cases: Baby Doe is not alone.

A real shocker from the Washington Post: This man filmed a fatal car crash instead of helping. Then, Ohio police arrested him.