You are browsing the archive for 2018 September 15.

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Botham Jean — And How Black Men Shot By the Police Are Dehumanized After Death

September 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Rachel Leah, Salon

A search warrant says police found a small amount of marijuana – a detail that many see as completely irrelevant

Attorneys representing the family of Botham Jean, the black man who was killed by an off-duty Dallas police officer in his own apartment, claim authorities are trying to discredit the victim.

Jean was shot dead on Sept. 6 by officer Amber Guyger, who claims she mistook his apartment for her own, which is located one floor below, and thought he was a burglar. Guyger was charged with manslaughter and has been released on a $300,000 bond.

A police affidavit released Thursday — the same day of Jean's funeral — shows that police seized relevant items to the case, like two fired cartridge casings, a laptop and a backpack with police equipment and paperwork, according NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, but also 10.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana grinder.

Lee Merritt, who represents the family, criticized the search warrant, saying it shows that investigators were looking for drug paraphernalia in the hours following Jean's death. “They immediately began looking to smear him,” Merritt told the Associated Press.

“This adds absolutely nothing of value for solving this crime. And, for it to be released this day, I don’t believe in coincidences,” Merritt told NBC DFW. “This was an intent to come after this young man’s character, which is impeccable by the way.”

The search warrant does not say to whom the marijuana belongs, which amounts to less than half of an ounce. According to Benjamin Crump, another attorney representing Jean's family, the discovery is ”completely irrelevant,” he told NBC DFW. Crump cautioned that any efforts to distract from Jean's death, is “nothing but a disgusting attempt to assassinate his character now that they have assassinated his person.”

Subsequently, the local affiliate Fox 4 News reported on the newly-released affidavit with the headline: “Search warrant: Marijuana found in Botham Jean's apartment after deadly shooting.” While the headline has since been changed people slammed the outlet as irresponsible and disgraceful for highlighting a detail that has no bearing on the facts of Jean's death across social media.

Former NAACP President Cornell Brooks described the headline …read more


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Ending the Secrecy of the Student Debt Crisis

September 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Daniela Senderowicz , YES! Magazine

Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can’t pay their bills.

Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can’t. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren’t able to start anew.

With a default rate approaching 40 percent, one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances.

When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. “I can’t tell anyone how much I’m struggling,” says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife’s illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems.

“If I shared this with anyone they will look down upon me as some kind of fool,” explains a North Carolina psychologist who is now beyond retirement age. He explains that his student debt balance soared after losing a well-paying position during the financial crisis, and that he is struggling to pay it back.

Financial shame alienates struggling borrowers. Debtors blame themselves and self-loathe when they can’t make their payments, explains Colette Simone, a Michigan psychologist. “There is so much fear of sharing the reality of their financial situation and the devastation it is causing in every facet of their lives,” she says. “The consequences of coming forward can result in social pushback and possible job–related complications, which only deepen their suffering.”

Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives. Simone confirms that she has “worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization.”

With an average debt of just over $37,000 per borrower for the class of 2016, and given that incomes have been flat since the 1970s, it’s not surprising that borrowers are struggling to pay. …read more


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Nancy Pelosi Embraces the Change Republicans Fear Most

September 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Nancy LeTourneau, The Washington Monthly

White men have been a minority in the Democratic caucus since 2012. The former speaker understands the power of partnership.

As we approach the end of primary season, Elena Schneider reports that white men are in the minority among Democratic House nominees.

White men are in the minority in the House Democratic candidate pool, a POLITICO analysis shows. Democrats have nominated a whopping 180 female candidates in House primaries — shattering the party’s previous record of 120, according to Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics. Heading into the final primaries of 2018 this week, Democrats have also nominated at least 133 people of color and 158 first-time candidates to run for the House…

Their success in primaries could herald a major shift in Congress, which is majority-white, majority-male and still mostly made up of former state legislators who climbed the political ladder to Washington. And the candidates could also mark the beginning of a new era for the rebuilding Democratic Party, which is counting on new types of candidates to take back the House.

While that is a story we’ve been talking about a lot lately, Schneider never mentioned that, for Democrats, that change happened back in 2012.

When the incoming U.S. House freshmen of the 113th Congress take their class photo, the image will reflect two very different visions of the nation.

On the Democratic side: Women and minorities — a coalition that, along with young voters, largely helped re-elect President Barack Obama — collectively will for the first time in the nation’s history outnumber white male Democrats.

On the Republican side: The majority of the House seats will be held by white men — a group which far outnumbers the now dwindled numbers of House GOP women and minorities after the losses of two minority members and about a half dozen women from that caucus.

I was aware of that because I remember an interview Rachel Maddow did with Nancy Pelosi shortly after the 2012 election. You might want to check out the entire …read more


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The Long History of the Loneliness Epidemic In the West

September 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Aeon

The contemporary notion of loneliness stems from cultural and economic transformations that have taken place in the modern West.

‘God, but life is loneliness,’ declared the writer Sylvia Plath in her private journals. Despite all the grins and smiles we exchange, she says, despite all the opiates we take:

when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter – they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.

By the 21st century, loneliness has become ubiquitous. Commentators call it ‘an epidemic’, a condition akin to ‘leprosy’, and a ‘silent plague’ of civilisation. In 2018, the United Kingdom went so far as to appoint a Minister for Loneliness. Yet loneliness is not a universal condition; nor is it a purely visceral, internal experience. It is less a single emotion and more a complex cluster of feelings, composed of anger, grief, fear, anxiety, sadness and shame. It also has social and political dimensions, shifting through time according ideas about the self, God and the natural world. Loneliness, in other words, has a history.

The term ‘loneliness’ first crops up in English around 1800. Before then, the closest word was ‘oneliness’, simply the state of being alone. As with solitude – from the Latin ‘solus’ which meant ‘alone’ – ‘oneliness’ was not coloured by any suggestion of emotional lack. Solitude or oneliness was not unhealthy or undesirable, but rather a necessary space for reflection with God, or with one’s deepest thoughts. Since God was always nearby, a person was never truly alone. Skip forward a century or two, however, and the use of ‘loneliness’ – burdened with associations of emptiness and the absence of social connection – has well and truly surpassed oneliness. What happened?

The contemporary notion of loneliness stems from cultural and economic transformations that have taken place in the modern West. Industrialisation, the growth of the consumer economy, the declining influence of religion and the popularity of evolutionary biology all served to …read more


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Fox News Fact-Checks a False Economic Claim Made by a Trump — For a Second Time This Week

September 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Rozsa, Salon

The president’s son also repeated an anti-Semitic slur he had previously used regarding Bob Woodward’s book “Fear

Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, was fact-checked Thursday by Republican-friendly Fox News after he mischaracterized the health of the economy under former President Barack Obama in order to play up his father's record.

During an appearance on “The FOX News Rundown,” Eric Trump bragged that “we have the fastest growing economy in the history of our country. We have the lowest unemployment that we've ever had: 3.9 percent. We have the lowest African-American unemployment, the lowest Hispanic unemployment, the lowest female unemployment.”

After Eric Trump went on to claim that factories were coming back to the U.S., that markets were “breaking every record,” that 401Ks are “through the roof” and that consumer confidence has hit an all-time high, co-host Dave Anthony felt the need to interject and correct Trump.

“It's true consumer confidence has hit around a 17, 18 year high in its recent gauge,” Anthony pointed out. “It's true the stock market had hit a lot of records after your father took office despite predictions it would take. However, when you say it's the fastest growing economy we've ever had, that isn't really the case, because economic growth of the low 4 percents is just what we've had in the last quarter. And there’s hope that that would continue.”

“But you have to be fair,” he continued. “Even during the Obama administration, while he did have some very low growth in quarters, there were times that he got over 5 percent in economic growth and over 4 percent more than once.”

Eric Trump immediately became defensive. “In all fairness, we're twenty months into this thing,” he shot back. “You think we're getting four percent . . . I don't actually think he had 5 percent quarters.”

“He did,” Anthony pointed out. “He had a 5 percent quarter.”

“Alright, I would go back and check that very carefully,” Trump replied.

Anthony asserted that “it was in 2013.”

Later, the program reviewed the facts and determined that there had been four occasions during Obama's presidency when the economy grew by …read more