Voices from Russia

Sunday, 3 June 2018

3 June 2018. Money Talks and Bullshit Walks Department… EVERYTHING’S For Sale in America

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You see, if a poor person commits a minor crime, they’re only fit for serious time in the slam. On the other hand, if a rich person commits a major crime, they either get off with a minor wrist-slap (as above) or they only do short time in a cushy soft joint (oh, no… we can’t put GOOD people in Dannemora or Attica!). Yes, everything’s for sale and race has little to do with it and money has everything to do with it. You know the old cynical expression… “Money talks and bullshit walks”. I wish that it weren’t so true…

BMD

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Race in America: Blacks More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted Than Whites

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A study released on Tuesday indicates that racial bias in the USA makes African-Americans much more likely to be wrongfully convicted of drug crimes, sexual assault, and murder than white defendants are. The National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) examined cases spanning from 1989 to October 2016, and out of 1,900 people convicted and later exonerated of crimes, black Americans made up 47 percent, a figure over three times their share of the population in the USA. African-Americans are also seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than whites, according to the study and are 12 times more likely to be convicted of drug crimes than white Americans. The report noted further discrepancies in murder convictions:

African-American prisoners convicted of murder are about 50 percent more likely to be innocent than other convicted murderers. Part of that disparity is tied to the race of the victim. African-Americans imprisoned for murder are more likely to be innocent if they were convicted of killing white victims. Only about 15 percent of murders by African-Americans have white victims, but 31 percent of innocent African-American murder exonerees were convicted of killing white people.

Samuel Gross, University of Michigan Law School professor and senior editor for the group tracking exonerations, said:

In the murder cases we examined, the rate of official misconduct is considerably higher in cases where the defendant is African-American compared to cases where the defendant is white. Unconscious racial bias, overt discrimination, and institutional racism often play a factor in wrongful convictions.

NRE released a separate study noting that 2016 was a record year for exonerations in the USA, with the most since 1989. There were 166 exonerations, an uptick from 2015’s 160 cases. Harris County in Texas, which includes Houston, showed chiefly drug convictions and was the source for most of the exonerations in the state. There were many instances of people pleading guilty to drug possession, only for crime reports to reveal months and years later that there were no controlled substances in the seized material. There were 52 exonerations for murder across the country, along with 73 exonerations of drug possession and other non-violent crimes. Illinois had the most exonerations in 2016 after Texas, with 16. There were 14 exonerations in New York and 9 in California. The “San Antonio Four”, four Latino women convicted of child sex crimes in the 1990s were the highest-profile exoneration of last year. In the majority opinion, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge David Newell wrote:

Those defendants have won the right to proclaim to the citizens of Texas that they didn’t commit a crime. That they’re innocent. That they deserve to be exonerated… these women have carried that burden. They’re innocent. And they’re exonerated.

8 March 2017

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/us/201703081051360908-blacks-more-like-convicted-crime/

Monday, 2 January 2017

2 January 2017. Now, Here’s a Read n’ Heed… Brian Eno on 2016/2017

00-andreas-walsh-2017-2016

2017

Andreas Walsh

2016

Andreas Walsh is a local painter who lives in the Hudson Valley south of me and north of NYC. The scene appears to be the Catskills… it may be the hilltop near the Buddhist monastery up the road from Woodstock…

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The consensus among most of my friends seems to be that 2016 was a terrible year, and the beginning of a long decline into something we don’t even want to imagine. Indeed, 2016 was a pretty rough year, but I wonder if it’s the end… not the beginning… of a long decline… or at least the beginning of the end… for I think we’ve been in decline for about 40 years, enduring a slow process of decivilisation, but not really quite noticing it until now. It reminds me of that thing about the frog placed in a pan of slowly heating water…

This decline includes the transition from secure employment to precarious employment, the destruction of unions and the shrinkage of workers’ rights, zero hour contracts, the dismantling of local government, a health service falling apart, an underfunded education system ruled by meaningless exam results and league tables, the increasingly acceptable stigmatisation of immigrants, knee-jerk nationalism, and the concentration of prejudice enabled by social media and the internet. This process of decivilisation grew out of an ideology that sneered at social generosity and championed a sort of righteous selfishness. (Thatcher: “Poverty is a personality defect”. Ayn Rand: “Altruism is evil”). The emphasis on unrestrained individualism had two effects:

  • creating a huge amount of wealth
  • funneling it into fewer and fewer hands.

Right now, the 62 richest people in the world are as wealthy as the bottom half of its population combined. The Thatcher/Reagan fantasy that all this wealth would “trickle down” and enrich everybody else simply hasn’t transpired. In fact, the reverse happened:

  • the real wages of most people have declined for at least two decades
  • their prospects (and the prospects for their children) look dimmer and dimmer.

No wonder people are angry, and turning away from business-as-usual government for solutions. When governments pay most attention to whomever has most money, the huge wealth inequalities we now see make a mockery of the idea of democracy. As George Monbiot said:

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the purse is mightier than the pen.

Last year, people started waking up to this. A lot of them, in their anger, grabbed the nearest Trump-like object and hit the Establishment over the head with it. However, those were just the most conspicuous, media-tasty awakenings. Meanwhile, there’s been a quieter but equally powerful stirring… people are rethinking what democracy means, what society means, and what we need to do to make them work again. People are thinking hard, and, most importantly, thinking out loud, together. I think we underwent a mass disillusionment in 2016, and finally realised it’s time to jump out of the saucepan.

This is the start of something big. It’ll involve an engagement… not just tweets, and likes, and swipes, but thoughtful and creative social and political action too. It will involve realising that some things we’ve taken for granted… some semblance of truth in reporting, for example… can no longer be expected for free. If we want good reporting and good analysis, we’ll have to pay for it. That means MONEY… direct financial support for the publications and websites struggling to tell the non-corporate non-establishment side of the story. In the same way if we want happy and creative children, we need to take charge of education, not leave it to ideologues and bottom-liners. If we want social generosity, then, we must pay our taxes, and we must get rid of our tax havens. Moreover, if we want thoughtful politicians, we should stop supporting merely charismatic ones. Inequality eats away at the heart of a society, breeding disdain, resentment, envy, suspicion, bullying, arrogance, and callousness. If we want any decent kind of future we have to push away from that, and I think we’re starting to.

There’s so much to do, so many possibilities. 2017 should be a surprising year.

1 January 2017

Brian Eno

Facebook

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

3 July 2013. A Point to Ponder… Where DOES the Wealth Come From?

00 The Boss Needs You. 03.07.13

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The Republicans always scream about “wealth creation”. Well, where DOES wealth comes from? It comes from our labour, that’s where. “Investors” and “capital managers” are NOTHING without our labour… our labour and stolen sweat equity finance their McMansions, their country club memberships, their wetback nannies and gardeners, and (surprise, surprise!) their donations to their Republican lapdogs. That’s why HH calls crapitalism a fraud, and Pope Francisco agrees with him on that. They also both agree that the victim in all of this is the ordinary worker.

You can be a professing and practising Christian, or, you can be a grasping and conniving crapitalist. Never forget, Our Lord Christ CHOSE to be incarnate in the home of Joseph the Worker… not Caiaphas the Priest or Matthew the Merchant. Ponder that, if you will…

BMD

 

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