Culture

I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out

by Lavette Mayes and Matthew McLoughlin, Truthout | Op-Ed – This story is the eighth piece in the Truthout series, Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons. This series dives deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones and communities, demonstrating how the United States’ incarceration of more than 2 million people also harms many millions more — including 2.7 million children. On any given day, more than 7,000 people are incarcerated at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. Stretching over 11 city blocks, Cook County Jail is the largest single-site jail in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the people locked up in Cook County Jail have not been convicted of a crime. They are incarcerated pretrial — and 62 percent of them are there only because they cannot afford to pay a monetary bond. In Cook County, bond court hearings last a mere 37 seconds on average. In that time, a judge makes bail...

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‘The Sky Didn’t Fall’: Study on Seattle $15 Minimum Wage Proves Critics Wrong

by Jake Johnson – “These findings are consistent with the lion’s share of rigorous academic minimum wage research studies” In an analysis bolstering the arguments of those fighting for minimum wage hikes nationwide, a group of University of California, Berkeley economists has found that Seattle’s decision to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour has not hampered job growth, despite the frequent warnings of doom-and-gloom critics. The study (pdf), released on Tuesday, examined the effects of the incremental wage increases in 2015 and 2016. After analyzing Seattle job data prior to the wage hikes—which were signed into law by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in 2015—and after they began to take effect, researchers found “no evidence of job loss in the city’s restaurant industry, even as pay reached $13 for workers in large companies.” Professor Michael Reich, lead author of the analysis, said the Seattle wage hikes are “working as intended, raising pay for low-wage workers, without negatively affecting...

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Reporters Face 70 Years in Prison over Anti-Trump March

by Patrick Strickland – Two journalists are among more than 200 people facing felony charges after mass arrests at Inauguration Day rally. Even when heavily armed riot police closed off a square block and surrounded protesters, media workers and legal observers alike, independent journalist Alexei Wood did not realise he was about to be arrested. “It didn’t even cross my mind that was what was happening,” the 37-year-old photographer and videographer told Al Jazeera. “I was waiting for an order of dispersal and the mass of people showed no sign of resistance when the police completely surrounded them.” FAULT LINES: The Rise of Trump (24:59) Yet on that day, January 20, protesters and observers say the order to disperse never came, and more than 230 people were arrested during protests against the inauguration of right-wing US President Donald Trump. Like other media workers who travelled to the capital from across the country for Trump’s inauguration,...

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Judge Declares Mistrial in Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Case

by Jessica Goldstein – The hung jury deliberated for over 50 hours. The prosecution presented its case in four-and-a-half days. The defense took all of six minutes. The criminal trial of Bill Cosby, a once universally-beloved pop cultural icon now accused by nearly 60 women of sexual misconduct, came to a close on Monday afternoon. Then the jury began to deliberate. Fifty-two hours later, the jury could not reach a verdict. Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial. Andrea Constandt alleges Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home in 2004. Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault; if convicted, he could face up to ten years in prison. But after days of deliberations, during which the jury asked O’Neill a dozen questions and had several lengthy police interviews, depositions, and witness testimonies reread back to them — including the entirety of Constandt’s testimony regarding the alleged assault, which was 300...

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Megyn Kelly’s Disastrous Interview With Alex Jones Somehow Gets Even Worse

by Adam Peck – NBC News is committing the worst self-own in recent memory, and it’s playing out in slow motion. From the moment NBC News announced their newest star anchor Megyn Kelly would be sitting down with renowned fabulist and deadbeat father Alex Jones, nearly everyone agreed it was a very, very bad idea. Jones — proprietor of the online clearinghouse of conspiracy theories, anti-government psychobabble and racist drivel known as Infowars — makes a living preying upon an audience that has been primed for years to distrust the media. It’s Jones who first amplified the lie that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was a government-sponsored hoax. (Indeed, parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook have been among the more vocal critics of NBC’s decision to give Jones a national platform to spread his vitriol.) Jones also continues to endanger children by convincing their parents that vaccines are dangerous. But NBC has held its...

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Zero Tolerance Policies don’t Prevent Violence at Schools

by Casey Quinlan – There is no reason for schools to abandon behavioral interventions and rely on suspension as a deterrent. In Upstate New York’s Syracuse School District, the stabbing of a teacher has sparked debate over the district’s approach toward student discipline. The district changed its policy shortly before the incident in an effort to keep students engaged at school and reduce racial disparities in student discipline, after an investigation from the New York attorney general’s office. But the stabbing of a teacher by a student in May has reinvigorated opposition to the school’s discipline approach — even though there isn’t any evidence to suggest that the school’s former policy would have prevented a serious incident such as this one. There were already many critics of Syracuse’s plan, part of a four-year agreement with the attorney general, to change its approach to focus on using restorative practices to resolve conflicts, teaching staff about cultural competency and implicit...

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The Resurrection of Jeremy Corbyn: Truth Can Be an Effective Political Weapon

by Mark Weisbrot – The Labour Manifesto allowed voters to see that Corbyn stood for things they believed in. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has made a remarkable comeback after his political obituary had been written and widely accepted as recently as seven weeks ago. Although the Tories, led by Theresa May, will still have the largest number of seats, they have lost their majority, after calling the election in the belief that they would increase it. Labour has picked up at least 29 seats. The result is a hung parliament, and it is not yet clear whether a coalition government will be formed or new elections will have to be held. Observers have pointed to various historical causes that have brought Corbyn to his leadership position and kept him there, such as the failure of the centrist, neoliberal project of “New Labour” to provide economic security or...

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Trump Cuts Millions From the US Holocaust Museum, Sparking Outrage

by SemDem – Who would have guessed that the same guy who installed alt-right Nazis in the White House, gets his information from anti-Semitic hate sites, and refused to even mention Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day would do something like this: A bipartisan group of 64 members of Congress is demanding a reversal on $3 million in funding cuts to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum… I heard about this from my Congresswoman, Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), who is spearheading the effort to get it reversed.  On Friday, the 64 members of Congress signed  a letter to the Interior appropriations subcommittee that reads, in part: “In our view, the mission of the museum has never been more important, particularly as the number of anti-Semitic attacks around the world rises… Now is not the time to cut funding for this national treasure.” The wave of anti-Semitic attacks, which the letter refers to, means the massive spike in assaults, bomb threats, vandalism, and cemetery desecrations that have occurred since Trump’s election. As has been...

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Yet Another Study Shows that—Surprise!—’abstinence-only’ Sex Education Just Doesn’t Work

by Meteor Blades – High teen pregnancy rates are usually associated with lower levels of education and poverty. But new research conducted by Dr. Julie DeCesare of the University of Florida’s OB-GYN residency program in Pensacola has shown that’s not all that’s going on. While national rates of teen pregnancy have fallen, they’ve fallen much less in Texas. DeCesare and her co-authors found that in the Dallas and San Antonio areas, teen pregnancy rates are 50 percent and 40 percent respectively above the national average. Federal funding for abstinence-only programs began in 1982 with a small amount of money for the Adolescent Family Life Act. But with passage of welfare reform in 1996, abstinence-only education programs exploded despite a steady stream of evidence from studies showing they are ineffective and leave out information crucial to young people’s health. The feds have poured $1.5 billion into these failed programs over the past two decades. Under an amendment to Title...

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Cosby Trial Begins With Aggressive Opening Statements and an Emotional First Witness

by Jessica Goldstein – A powerful first day for the only criminal case against Bill Cosby. The long-awaited criminal trial of Bill Cosby began on Monday with searing opening statements and the prosecution’s first witness, a woman who alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in 1996. Though nearly 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, only one filed criminal charges within the statute of limitations and has been able to take her case to court: Andrea Constand, who first pursued legal action against Cosby back in 2005, one year after she claims he drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home in a Philadelphia suburb. Cosby stands accused of three counts of aggravated indecent assault and, if convicted, could spend ten years in prison. After over an hour of opening instructions from Judge Steven O’Neill, prosecutor Kristen Feden kicked off opening statements. Her refrain: Most of the facts of the case...

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London Bridge: Seven Killed in Car and Stabbing Attack

Attackers drive van into pedestrians on London Bridge and go on stabbing spree before being shot dead by UK police. At least seven people have been killed in the UK capital after a van ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge and attackers went on stabbing spree in the nearby Borough Market area before being shot dead by police. Another 48 people were also wounded in the attack late on Saturday, which occurred in a busy area with many restaurants and pubs. “It has now been confirmed sadly that seven members of the public have died. In addition, as you know, we believe, three suspects are dead,” London Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick said in a televised statement on Sunday. Two French nationals were among those injured in the London attack, the French president’s office said in a statement. Australia said two of its citizens were caught up in the...

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This Son of Immigrants Fought For His Country While Rep. Steve King Dodged the Draft

by Nick Gillespie – The nativist Iowa congressman should have met my uncle before railing that you can’t “rebuild civilization” with “somebody else’s baby.” My Uncle Nick—my godfather and the man for whom I’m named—died last week at the age of 84. He was a really great uncle, brother to my mother and his other siblings, husband to his wife, and father to his daughters. He was also, in the repugnant, nativist parlance of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), “somebody else’s baby.” That is, he was born to immigrants from Italy and thus, according to King and other xenophobes, incapable of helping to “restore our civilization.” (For more on that, go here.) Except that Nick Guida did make America a better place, first and foremost by being a good son, brother, husband, father, and uncle. He was a hardworking guy and even started his own business. He also served in Korea when...

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George Orwell on Sean Spicer

by TODD GITLIN – A note on the uses of stupefaction. The Trumps’ nine-day journey outside the United States was “incredible, historic…because it truly was an extraordinary week.” It was “unprecedented.” “We’ve never seen before at this point in a presidency such sweeping reassurance of American interest,” said press secretary Sean Spicer. Most of what Spicer had to say in his press briefing and Q&A on May 30 was — to be generous — intelligible if empty or, in the case of his example of “fake news,” absurdly misleading, concerning as it did a BBC error that was quickly corrected. But my point here is more general — his vocabulary and his style. “Incredible graciousness” — Saudi Arabia’s monarchy. “A historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come” — his speech in Riyadh. “Right direction” — that’s where Trump moved NATO. “Holistic solution” — that’s what’s...

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Homeless Man Who Helped Manchester Victims is Rewarded With Housing (VIDEO)

by Amanda Froelich – For his heroism, the activist has received offers of assistance and housing. Last week, word traveled fast that a homeless man named Chris Parker had stepped in to help victims of the Manchester terror attack when others went fleeing. As True Activist reported, he helped several individuals – including a woman in her 60’s who passed away in his arms. Now that a short period of time has passed, the details of the incident have become more clear. Parker was not alone when he ran into the Manchester Arena where the bomb took place. Another homeless man, named Stephen Jones, joined him. The duo worked to transport the injured away from the building and to pull debris from peoples’ wounds. Together, they kept a woman’s legs elevated so she wouldn’t bleed out. They also comforted some children as they desperately looked for their parents. For their heroism,...

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Salt Lake City Police Invested in Training and Haven’t had an Officer-involved Shooting in Two Years

by Kelly Macias – In the United States, we’ve come to accept a narrative that part of being a police officer means that an unfortunate reality of the job is that someone (a civilian) may lose their life in a justifiable shooting. This line of thinking is simplistic and prevents us from looking at much-needed reform within the institution of policing and it doesn’t have to be true. Less than six months into the year, police officers have already shot and killed 367 people—a number slightly higher than the last two years. But there is evidence that when police embrace training tactics that involve communication and empathy, they don’t have to take lives. In Utah’s capital, police have actively embraced a tactic called de-escalation. The officers being trained in de-escalation are encouraged to communicate and empathize with suspects, take stock of the factors contributing to a confrontation, and consider ways to disengage before the situation spirals out...

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Fearing for My Life During a Traffic Stop: Rising Police Violence in the Borderlands

by Ankur Singh, Truthout | News Analysis – Three cop cars with their sirens blazing were coming fast behind me. It was a dark night in April 2017 in Nogales, Arizona, along the US-Mexico border. The infamous wall was visible from where I was stopped. I am an Indian-American college student who had been living in Nogales for the past few months studying journalism and education. My heart dropped as I pulled over to the side of the road. “Driver!” a Nogales Police Department (NPD) officer yelled at me through the loud metallic intercom of his vehicle. I didn’t know how to respond since the officer’s statement wasn’t really a question or a command, so I just shouted, “Yes?” out the window. In my driver-side mirror, I saw an agent creeping toward my car with his blinding, bright flashlight and gun pointed directly at me. Two more officers stood...

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The Worst Sexual Abuse Scandal in British Soccer History is Up to 560 Victims

by Lindsay Gibbs – The allegations are focused on 252 suspects. One of the worst child sexual abuse scandals in sports history just keeps growing in scope. Last month, the National Police Chiefs’ Council in England released the latest numbers in an ongoing investigation into a child sex abuse scandal in British soccer. As of that report, 560 alleged victims had come forward with allegation against 252 suspects. So far, 311 football clubs from all ranks, amateur through premier, have been impacted by the investigation. This week on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, former Chelsea soccer player Gary Johnson talked to journalist David Scott about the abuse he suffered. Johnson was scouted for Chelsea’s elite youth program when he was only 13 years old by Eddie Heath. One day, after Johnson had a bad day at school, Heath invited Johnson back to his house. Once there, Heath put on a...

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Police Arrest Portland Man Alleged to Have Fatally Stabbed Two Men After Yelling Anti-Muslim Slurs

by Yvette Cabrera – The victims had reportedly tried to confront the man, who witnesses said was targeting a girl in a hijab. Police have arrested a man who they allege fatally stabbed two men and injured another on a commuter train Friday afternoon in Portland, Oregon after the passengers confronted the suspect, who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs among other hate-tinged obscenities. Law enforcement officials told CNN that the man was “yelling a gamut of anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs,” possibly directed at two girls who witnesses described as Muslim, including one wearing a hijab head covering. Police are treating the suspect’s remarks as hate speech. “We have not been able to find those girls to verify that,” Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson told CNN. Police charged the suspect, North Portland resident Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, on two charges of murder, as well as attempted murder, two counts of second degree intimidation, and...

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Islamophobia’s Anniversary

by SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN – How a disinformation campaign changed America. In the annals of American democracy, hardly anything of lasting consequence ever took place at a meeting of one of New York City’s community boards. These panels of volunteers, many of them appointed by local political bosses, hold no binding power and are only an advisory voice on issues like land use, construction and zoning. There is, however, one red-letter date associated with the community board that covered the southern tip of Manhattan, and we are approaching its anniversary. May 25 was the seventh anniversary of Islamophobia in America. Not that the irrational fear and hatred of Muslims and Islam started then and there, but rather that the events helped coalesce a loose alliance of bigots and opportunists into a political movement, the same movement that ultimately elected Donald Trump as president. On that spring evening in 2010, the members...

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Atheism More Prevalent Among Americans Than the Polls Generally Show (VIDEO)

by Ronald Bailey – A new study finds that 26 percent of Americans likely do not believe in God. Although acceptance of atheists is increasing, their fellow Americans still eye them with considerable suspicion. The percentage of Americans who declare themselves religiously unaffiliated has risen from 5 percent in 1972 to 25 percent now. But depending upon the poll, the share of Americans who call themselves atheists varies from a low of 3 percent to around 11 percent. Given the social stigma attached to atheism, researchers at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) hypothesized that polls might underreport the number of Americans who are nonbelievers. To test this hypothesis, they used the unmatched count technique, in which poll respondents are randomly divided into two groups. The control group is asked how many of a number of harmless statements—”I am a vegetarian,” “I can drive a motorcycle,” “I own a dog,” etc.—are...

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