Thursday, December 15, 2011

12/14 and 12/15

After years and years of evidence that many things in his office were sketchy at best, it looks like the DOJ is finally fed up with Sheriff Joe's assault on the rights of all dark-skinned peoples:
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has “promoted a culture of bias” against Latinos in his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and communicated to officers that “biased policing would not only be tolerated, but encouraged,” according to a just-released report by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

DOJ investigators found during a three year probe that there was reasonable cause to believe that Arpaio, who fancies himself America’s Toughest Sheriff, and the Maricopa County’s Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) have engaged “in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing” and “engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains, and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MCSO’s policies or practices.”


Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, told reporters in a conference call on Thursday morning that the department’s “exhaustive” investigation took “longer than it should have” because of a lack of cooperation from MCSO. He said they didn’t go into the probe with any “pre-conceived notions” but followed the investigation where it led.

“What is unique about the findings here is what appears to be at the highest levels of the organization, and that’s an issue — when we were peeling the onion — that began to jump out at us more and more and more,” Perez told reporters.

“I think that we can turn the culture around, but it will take persistence on our part,” Perez said.

DOJ’s 22-page report — based on interviews with over 400 individuals including Arpaio, reviews of tens of thousands of pages of evidence, tours of MCSO’s jails and the aid of four leading police practice experts — gives a few examples of Arpaio nurturing what Perez called MCSO’s “deeply routed culture. They say Arpaio frequently received “racially charged” constituent letters that he circulated to others in his staff after he marked them up with notes that “appear to endorse the content of the letter.”

Many of the letters, said DOJ, “contain no meaningful descriptions of criminal activity — just crude, ethnically derogatory language about Latinos.” In one instance, Arpaio dubbed a letter asking him to “round-up” of people with “dark skin” on a corner in Phoenix as “intelligence” and asked a member of his command staff to have “someone handle this.”

The investigation also found that MCSO detention officers calls Latinos “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans” and “stupid Mexicans.” A statistical study commissioned by DOJ also found that Latino drivers “are four to nine times more likely to be stopped” than similarly situated non-Latino drivers.
The problems in MCSO go all the way to the top:
The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department accused the sheriff’s office of racially profiling Hispanics and unlawfully arresting them. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez called the sheriff’s office "broken" as he laid out the allegations.

“We found discriminatory policing that was deeply rooted in the culture of the department," Perez said. "A culture that bred a systemic disregard for basic constitutional protections.”

Deputies are accused of targeting Hispanics for arrest, and in some cases, charged them with immigration-related crimes. Some of those were legal U.S. residents. Arpaio’s office is also accused of retaliating against people who criticized its policies.

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton has sparred with Arpaio for several years, both in and out of the courtroom.

"And this is why I think it is we can be justifiably proud of what happened here today," Charlton said. "This kind of behavior is unconstitutional, ought not to be allowed and we have a justice system that works to prevent that kind of activity."

The civil rights investigation is only one federal investigation into practices at the sheriff’s office. An unrelated criminal investigation involving the sheriff’s office and the county attorney’s office continues.

The Justice Department has mandated a series of correctional steps the sheriff’s office must undergo. The office has until January 4 to answer the demands or face federal civil litigation.
And the New York Times has more on just how deep Arpaio's war on justice and the Constitution went:
The inquiry’s findings paint a picture of a department staffed by poorly trained deputies who target Latino drivers on the roadways and detain innocent Latinos in the community in their searches for illegal immigrants. The mistreatment, the government said, extends to the jails the department oversees, where Latino inmates who do not speak English are mistreated.

“The absence of clear policies and procedures to ensure effective and constitutional policing,” the report said, “along with the deviations from widely accepted policing and correctional practices, and the failure to implement meaningful oversight and accountability structures, have contributed to a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.”

The report said Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped in the sprawling county, which includes Phoenix and its environs, than non-Latino drivers. The expert who conducted the study called it the most egregious racial profiling he has ever seen in this country, said Mr. Perez, the prosecutor, without naming the expert.

The report said that roughly one-fifth of the traffic-related incident reports generated by the department’s human smuggling unit contained information indicating the stops may have been conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

The report also suggested that Sheriff Arpaio’s well-publicized raids aimed at arresting illegal immigrants were sometimes prompted by complaints that described no criminal activity but referred to people with “dark skin” or to Spanish speakers congregating in an area. “The use of these types of bias-infected indicators as a basis for conducting enforcement activity contributes to the high number of stops and detentions lacking in legal justification,” the report said.


The Justice Department report quotes from some people characterized as victims of the department’s overzealous ways. It cites the case of a Latino driver who won a $600,000 legal settlement after a deputy intentionally struck him with his patrol car during a traffic stop.

In another case, an inmate was not allowed to use another inmate as an interpreter to tell a detention officer that her sheets were soiled. She was told she had to make the request herself in English, even though she did not speak the language well.

After Sheriff Arpaio received a letter complaining that employees of a McDonald’s in Sun City, a retirement community, did not speak English, the sheriff forwarded the letter to a top aide, who mounted an immigration raid in the area.
And as noted by ThinkProgress, Arpaio did all he could to obstruct and stonewall the feds' investigation of his shenanigans. So it's probably safe to assume that there's even more bullshit he covered up through his document-shredding and other efforts to hide information from DOJ. In response to these latest allegations, DHS is cutting the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office out the Orwellian-named Secure Communities program. (The DOJ's 22-page letter (.pdf) can be seen here.) Between everything documented here, the AP's recent uncovering of Arpaio's office's unwillingness to investigate sex crimes perpetrated on undocumented immigrants, his vindictive (and generally illegal) streak of investigating his political enemies, his wasteful expenditures and disappearing money, it's time to see this fool go. Though, sadly, there's probably little chance on that happening anytime soon.

What kind of science is sustainability science, asks Bob Kates?:
Both the insider and outsider stories answer that sustainability science is a different kind of science that is primarily use-inspired, as are agricultural and health sciences, with significant fundamental and applied knowledge components, and commitment to moving such knowledge into societal action. In just over 2 decades, it has attracted tens of thousands of research authors, practitioners, and knowledge users, as well as teachers and students, with a geographical, institutional, and disciplinary footprint very different from most science. However, its real test of success will be in implementing its knowledge to meet the great environment and development challenges of this century.

Kai Chan on why ecosystem services must be concerned with more than just valuation and payments:
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a whole-hearted believer that we will improve decision-making through a better understanding of how ecosystems relate to our wants and needs. And there’s great logic in the notion of ecosystem services. We absolutely need to connect conservation to the things that matter to people—clean water, productive soil, stable climate, and a host of less quantifiable services. Dollar valuation can sometimes play an important role. But it’s unfortunate that “ecosystem services” has become equated with putting a price tag on nature. People care about more than money. People care about caring—for people, homes, and landscapes—even when that caring comes with considerable cost and sacrifice. Parenthood made this easier for me to understand. About having a baby, fellow parents didn’t tell me, “You’ll love all the great things she’ll do for you!” Instead, they said, “It’ll change your life forever, but it’s magical. I never knew I could love anything so deeply and completely.”

Of course I’m not going to promise anyone this kind of love for ecosystems, but I will promise fulfillment, and a sense of belonging, to anyone who strives to build a relationship with nature. People can be receptive to messages that don’t lead with a promise of benefits, but generally this requires a relationship. We can bring out caring tendencies in ourselves and in others if we do more to facilitate a connection to nature—in part by getting people outside and participating in ecosystem care. We can then link caring for local ecosystems to (particular) more distant ecosystems—just as aid organizations so effectively hook people with pictures and stories of (particular) distant children—and from there build support for actions that benefit nature diffusely. Care begets care: I know how much more receptive I am to those messages now that I have two daughters. On the flip side, social psychologists have shown that engaging people’s self-interest serves to suppress their concern for others. So let’s encourage ecosystem care for the fulfillment it provides through relationships—and because it is crucial for humanity.

Fealty to corporate interests and Big Pollution trumps state-level conservatives' supposed commitment to local control when it comes to land-use decisions concerning oil drilling and fracking:
The fight, which pits towns and cities against energy companies and states eager for growth, has raised a fundamental question about the role of local government: How much authority should communities have over the use of their land?

The battle is playing out in Pennsylvania as the Republican-controlled legislature considers bills that would in their current form sharply limit a community’s right to control where gas companies can operate on private property. Critics say the final bill could vastly weaken local zoning powers and give industry the upper hand in exchange for a tax, which cash-strapped municipalities badly need.

The legislation has struck a nerve in a state where land control has long been considered quintessentially local.

“I’m a conservative Republican, and this goes against all my principles,” said Brian Coppola, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Robinson Township. The pending legislation, he said, “is an enormous land grab on the part of the industry. Our property rights are being trampled.”

Mr. Coppola noted a hillside in town that began to crack and slide under the weight of a new shale gas processing plant, which he contends was built without a permit. The town’s zoning powers allowed him, through a court, to compel the company to follow town regulations and allow town inspectors access to the site. The site was eventually stabilized. Losing those powers would leave local officials out of the equation, he said, even though they are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their citizens.

“I’m an unpaid, part-time elected official, and it’s been a nightmare,” he said. “The state is not capable of monitoring even the most basic parts of this industry.”


Mr. Coppola argued that the most immediate risk in Pennsylvania was the possibility that companies, which are not required to share infrastructure like pipelines and compressor stations, could erect multiple sets, driving away developers and affluent residents and reducing the tax base.

Mr. McDonough was hopeful. He said towns would not make the same mistake they did with the coal industry. A river in town still runs orange, even though the industry is long gone.

“We’re at a turning point,” he said. “If this is not done with common sense, we will have lost an entire way of life.”

At the same time, Repubs in the House are passing legislation to prohibit an EPA regulation that hasn't ever been proposed and never will be:
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said repeatedly that no such rule is in the works. What the EPA does do is review ambient air pollution standards every five years, as required by law, and make recommendations on whether or not to tighten standards.

"We have spent an entire day debating about a bill that does not address an existing problem," said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

"This entire session of Congress has felt to many of us like a trip into Alice's Wonderland," said DeGette. "To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat, 'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad. ... You must be mad or you wouldn't have come here.' Sadly for the American people, H.R. 1633 simply underscores the 'madness' of this body right now."

Republicans countered that although no rule was proposed, they worried that someone might file a lawsuit someday to to regulate farm dust.

Ecuador goes to the international community to ask for financial assistance to resolve the tensions inherent in short-term profits versus long-term conservation — is it bribery or sustainable long-term planning?:
Yasuni National Park — a 10,000-sq-km reserve on the western fringes of the Amazon basin — is indeed a paradise, considered by many scientists to be the single most biodiverse spot on the planet. But it's a paradise in danger of being lost. Oil companies have found rich deposits beneath the park's trees and rivers, nearly 900 million barrels of crude worth billions of dollars. That's money that Ecuador — a small South American country in which a third of the population lives below the poverty line and petroleum already accounts for more than half its export revenue — badly needs, money that oil companies and consumers will be only too happy to provide if drilling is allowed to go forward. If Ecuador follows the usual path of development, that's exactly what will happen — with disastrous consequences for the park. "Yasuni is a truly unique place in the world," says Gorky Villa, an Ecuadorian botanist who works with the conservation group Finding Species. "Our concern is that it will be ruined before we can even understand it."

But there may be another way. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has told the international community that his country would be willing to forgo drilling and leave Yasuni largely intact in exchange for donations equal to $3.6 billion over 13 years, or about half the expected market value of the park's oil deposits. The plan — known as the Yasuni-ITT Initiative, after the name of the reserve's oil field — would conserve Yasuni's unique biodiversity and prevent the emission of over 800 million tons of carbon dioxide, an amount equal to Germany's annual greenhouse-gas footprint. The Yasuni plan would be a first for global environmental policy: recognition that the international community has a financial responsibility to help developing nations preserve nature. "Oil is by far the most important part of Ecuador's economy," says Carlos Larrea, a professor at Andean University and a technical adviser on the Yasuni project. "But we are willing to keep that oil indefinitely unexploited if the international community contributes."

Of course, from another perspective, the Yasuni initiative might look like environmental blackmail by Ecuador: Pay us or the forest gets it. And since the proposal was first floated a few years ago, Ecuador has struggled to get international partners to sign on, in part because momentum on climate policy has ebbed in the face of the prolonged global economic crisis. Nor does it help that Correa himself has sent mixed signals on the project, simultaneously preparing for drilling even as he asks for donations

There is, however, no ignoring the essential justice of the plan. If we all really do have a shared stake in the natural heritage represented by hot spots like Yasuni, then we have a shared responsibility in helping a poor country preserve it. "We need these resources to develop the country, but we're also responsible people who want to protect Yasuni," Correa said in New York recently. "If the poor don't receive direct benefits from conservation, conservation won't be sustainable."


Although Ecuador has so far managed to gather $53 million in commitments from a number of countries and even some individuals, the international community seems unconvinced for the most part. Norway — which has used its oil money to fund anti-deforestation programs in Brazil and Indonesia — has so far passed on the plan. Hopes were high that Germany would come through with a major contribution, but so far there's little indication that an increasingly donation-fatigued Berlin is interested. The U.S. failure to pass cap-and-trade legislation largely dashed hopes that American money would play a major role in the Yasuni initiative. At this point, the plan seems to be on life support: Correa has given the world until the end of the year to come up with at least $100 million as a show of good faith, lest the project likely be scrapped. "We're renouncing an immense sum of money," Correa said in September. "For us, the most financially lucrative option is to extract the gasoline."


In reality, the chance of success seems to lessen by the day, but the issues raised by the Yasuni project won't go away. South America is becoming an increasingly important oil producer — the continent holds 20% of the world's proven oil reserves — and much of that crude is buried in and around the Amazon basin. That puts the rain forest in mortal peril: as the global need for oil grows, we're like drug addicts willing to pawn our valuables to pay for the next fix. Yet the financial burden of protecting our most biodiverse forests — nearly all found in developing nations — can't fall only on poor nations like Ecuador. Each of us benefits from the existence of forest reserves like Yasuni, and each of us should share in the cost of preserving them. If we can't protect the rain forest in Yasuni from the drive for oil, we may not be able to protect it anywhere else.

An IOM report commissioned by the NIH suggests that chimpanzee research is not generally necessary or prudent:
The report is the result of a nearly two-year conflict over bringing semi-retired chimpanzees back into use as experimental subjects, which itself is only one confrontation in a continuing struggle over whether it is morally acceptable and scientifically useful to use chimps in invasive experiments.


Use of chimpanzees is on the wane already — partly because it is expensive — and the report covers only chimps owned or supported by the government, 612 of a total of 937 chimps available for research in the United States. So the immediate effect of the report may be small, and the overall controversy over use of chimps is sure to continue.

For invasive biomedical experiments, the report concluded that the use of chimps was justified when there was no other way to do the research — with other animals, lab techniques or human subjects — and if not doing the research would “significantly slow or prevent important advancements to prevent, control and/or treat life-threatening or debilitating conditions.”

There were two areas where the committee concluded that use of chimpanzees could be necessary. One was research on a preventive vaccine for hepatitis C. The committee could not agree on whether this research fit the criteria.

In the second area, research on immunology involving monoclonal antibodies, the committee concluded that it was not necessary because of new technology, but that because the new technology was not widespread, projects now under way should be allowed to reach completion.

For behavioral experiments, the report recommended that the research should be done only if animals are cooperative, and in a way to minimize pain and distress. It also said that the studies should “provide otherwise unattainable insight into comparative genomics, normal and abnormal behavior, mental health, emotion or cognition.”

The report also recommended that chimpanzees be housed in conditions that are behaviorally, socially and physically appropriate. All United States primate research centers are already accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, and Dr. Kahn said that this accreditation meets the committee’s recommendation.

That was one area where the Humane Society disagreed with the report. “That language,” said Mr. Pacelle, referring to the requirements for adequate cages and enclosures, “was disappointing to us.” 
The Humane Society is joined in its disappointment by others:
As I read the IOM report (made available one day early to the media), I felt distress for the 937 chimpanzees currently available for biomedical testing in U.S. facilities. The door that the IOM leaves open may well lead right to pain and distress for some of these chimpanzees.

As the editors of the magazine Scientific American noted when they supported a total ban two months ago, the United States is the only nation besides Gabon that allows its chimpanzees to be used in this way.

I suspect that some people will embrace the report as a step forward on behalf of chimpanzees. Some of the language is welcome, as when the report acknowledges the "moral cost" of using chimpanzees in invasive research. Still, in key passages, the report is weak.

Congressional inquiry led to the IOM's collaboration with the National Research Council in producing this report for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds the majority of federally sponsored biomedical projects using chimpanzees. The IOM report will help determine the fate of 176 chimpanzees currently in New Mexico, whom the NIH hoped to move back to a biomedical arena in Texas. Chimpanzee advocates believe these apes deserve to retire.

Aware that the quality of these chimpanzees' lives hang in the balance, I was powerfully struck by the differences between two sets of guidelines published in the IOM report: those for comparative genomics and behavioral research, on the one hand, and those for biomedical research on the other.

When it comes to genomics and behavioral research, the chimpanzees are, to a degree, in control. The apes must, the report says, be able to choose whether to participate in any given experiment. In the report's language, the chimpanzees must be "acquiescent." In addition, the research must be performed "using techniques that are minimally invasive, and in a manner that minimizes pain and distress."

These two criteria — voluntary participation in combination with minimal pain and distress — are absent from the guidelines for biomedical research. The focus in the biomedical guidelines is on ensuring chimpanzees are the only viable testing method for a line of research critical to human health.

Why would the biomedical guidelines differ? Why do they not speak to the issues of chimpanzee acquiescence or pain and distress? The answer is all too clear: biomedical research would grind to a halt, because no chimpanzees would elect to endure the multiple needles, surgeries, or other invasive procedures involved. The apes would refuse to be "acquiescent" in their own pain and distress.

The shameless apologists for America’s plutocracy believe that a one-year drop in the incomes of the richest of the rich somehow negates all concerns regarding income inequality, just because we're now back to the inequality levels of the late Clinton years (and still far exceeding those of the pre-Reagan years):
The share of income received by the top 1 percent — that potent symbol of inequality — dropped to 17 percent in 2009 from 23 percent in 2007, according to federal tax data. Within the group, average income fell to $957,000 in 2009 from $1.4 million in 2007. Analysts say the drop largely reflects the stock market plunge, and most think top incomes recovered somewhat in 2010, as Wall Street rebounded and corporate profits grew.

Critics of the Occupy Wall Street movement say the falling incomes at the top show that concerns about inequality are outdated.


“We don’t want to spend years focused on income inequality, only to learn that the financial crisis fixed it for us,” wrote Megan McArdle in a blog post for The Atlantic.

“Get a time machine, Occupy Wall Street,” wrote James Pethokoukis, a blogger at the American Enterprise Institute.

But Jared Bernstein, a former Obama administration official, said that after previous market-related dips, income inequality only soared to new highs. “If you believed the inequality problem had been solved in the early 2000s, you would have been proven terribly wrong,” said Mr. Bernstein, now of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

While top incomes probably rose in 2010, most analysts doubt they returned to their 2007 peak, since stocks remain about 20 percent lower. Mr. Kaplan argues that new restraints on Wall Street will keep the income shares of the rich below those earlier levels, a view Mr. Bernstein disputes.

“The structural forces driving inequality remain very much in place,” he said.

The income shares of the top 1 percent became a common metric of inequality after a 2003 study by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanel Saez, which traced trends back to 1913. It peaked at 24 percent in 1928, just above its 2007 level. Mr. Saez, of the University of California, Berkeley, sides with those who think the rich will soon get richer.

“Barring an economic cataclysm ahead, top earners will be recovering faster than the other 99 percent,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The inequality problem is not going away and won’t until drastic policy changes are made (as happened during the New Deal).”
And as the wealthiest again get wealthier, they'll no doubt continue to set the political agenda, ensuring that they continue to accrue more wealth by exploiting the rest of us. After all, they already dominate campaign spending:
In the 2010 election cycle, 26,783 individuals (or slightly less than one in ten thousand Americans) each contributed more than $10,000 to federal political campaigns. Combined, these donors spent $774 million. That's 24.3% of the total from individuals to politicians, parties, PACs, and independent expenditure groups. Together, they would fill only two-thirds of the 41,222 seats at Nationals Park the baseball field two miles from the U.S. Capitol. When it comes to politics, they are The One Percent of the One Percent.

A Sunlight Foundation examination of data from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics reveals a growing dependence of candidates and political parties on the One Percent of the One Percent, resulting in a political system that could be disproportionately influenced by donors in a handful of wealthy enclaves. Our examination also shows that some of the heaviest hitters in the 2010 cycle were ideological givers, suggesting that the influence of the One Percent of the One Percent on federal elections may be one of the obstacles to compromise in Washington.

The One Percent of the One Percent are not average Americans. Overwhelmingly, they are corporate executives, investors, lobbyists, and lawyers. A good number appear to be highly ideological. They give to multiple candidates and to parties and independent issue groups. They tend to cluster in a limited number of metropolitan zip codes, especially in New York, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

In the 2010 election cycle, the average One Percent of One Percenter spent $28,913, more than the median individual income of $26,364.
Not surprisingly, both parties are more and more dependent on these donors:
Sunlight's report, "The Political One Percent of the One Percent," said these donors combined spent $774 million — 24.3 percent of all money from individuals that went to candidates, PACS, political parties and independent expenditure groups in the 2010 midterms, which swept Republicans into control of the House.

"It's the 1 percent of the 1 percent who account for almost a quarter of all individual campaign contributions," says Lee Drutman, a data fellow with Sunlight.

Looking at the absolute top tier, Drutman says just 17 individuals gave more than $500,000 each.

"We know that money is not equally given by all Americans," says Drutman. "There are very few Americans who can afford to write the kind of big checks that candidates depend on. What surprised us when we did this analysis was just how incredibly concentrated this giving was."

Drutman found that over the past 20 years, the $10,000-plus donors have accounted for an ever bigger share of political contributions. He says everybody — not just candidates — leans harder on the wealthy as campaign spending escalates.

"Parties want to be able to tap into donor networks of people who can give $10,000, $20,000 to the party. And both parties and candidates, both, want to be able to tap into networks who can give unlimited sums of money to independent expenditure groups," says Drutman.


The biggest category, donors with corporate ties, gave slightly more to Republicans.

The much smaller categories, ideological givers and lawyer-lobbyists, tilted Democratic.

While the Obama campaign and others emphasize their success with small givers, Drutman says there's no mistaking the economic class of the group he looked at.

"These elite donors on average give $29,000 per electoral cycle. That's more than what half of Americans earn in a single year," Drutman explains.
Political scientist John Sides goes to the data and explains what precisely is so problematic about the capture of our political structures by the 1%, especially when the needs, wants and desires of the one-percent don't align with the rest of us:
A second study, authored by the political scientists Benjamin Page, Fay Lomax Cook, and Rachel Moskowitz and recently released by the Russell Sage Foundation, found that the politics of the very wealthy are strikingly different.


Other scholars have found that, when the attitudes of the wealthy and less wealthy diverge, policy is much more in line with the attitudes of the wealthy. The activism evident in the Chicago sample may explain why: they do much more to articulate their views to politicians. (Of course, politicians themselves are often in the 1 percent.) These inequalities in political voice may then give rise to policies that perpetuate unequal outcomes.

Excessive force wielded by campus cops in the UC system is nothing new:
[I]t wasn't just the recent heavy-handed response by campus police that outraged the faculty members. It was the fact that University of California police have been aggressively attacking students for years. And, despite independent commissions telling them repeatedly to clean up their act, seemingly nothing has changed.

"[Birgeneau's comments] do not negate the repeated pattern of the use of excessive force against non-violent protests," Berkeley sociology professor Barrie Thorne said at the Monday meeting.

Professor Anaya Roy criticized the administration for ordering police to clear out the protesters, and for blaming students for the clashes.

"The chancellor has apologized and I appreciate that apology, but an apology is appropriate for an isolated episode," Roy said. "What were the lessons learned two years ago?"

The November Occupy Cal protests, though aligned with the national Occupy Wall Street movement, are more a part of a series of protests that began several years ago, rallying against tuition hikes and the privatization of California's higher education institutions. Tuition and fees for UC students may rise as much as 82 percent in the next four years.


The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has flagged eight of the 10 UC campuses for maintaining unconstitutional policies against free speech. This is because the campuses have not made changes, despite a 2009 memo by UC President Mark Yudof directing campus police and administration officials to fix the problems.

Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, said it seemed to him that campus police have been increasingly overreacting during incidents.

The assault on women's health continues; in my home state of Ohio, the GOP is trying to ram through the most restrictive, draconian anti-abortion law anywhere in the country:
Dr. Matthew Mingione, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Columbus, said one of his patients was devastated to learn her pregnancy was in the abdomen, not in the uterus. It was attached to a major blood vessel, creating a high risk that she could bleed to death.

“(She) had a safe abortion at 12 weeks with minimally invasive techniques, saving her life,” Mingione testified. “If House Bill 125 had been law, we would have had to wait for her iliac vessels to rupture before intervening in order to be sure that this was an imminent threat to (her) life.”

House Bill 125, introduced by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be medically detected, usually six or seven weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. It passed the House in June and is under review in the Senate.

If approved and signed, the legislation will give Ohio the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Critics — who include those on both sides of the debate — say the proposal is clearly unconstitutional and not likely to withstand a court challenge.
At the same time, the federal government releases a new report showing just how rampant misogyny and violence still are:
Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.

“That almost one in five women have been raped in their lifetime is very striking and, I think, will be surprising to a lot of people,” said Linda C. Degutis, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey.

“I don’t think we’ve really known that it was this prevalent in the population,” she said. 
As Jane Brody points out, the victimization of women who have been assaulted doesn't end with the initial act of violence:
Experts on sexual assault and rape report that even today, despite improvements in early sex education and widespread publicity about sexual assaults, the overwhelming majority of both felony and misdemeanor cases never come to public or legal attention.

It is all too easy to see why. More often than not, women who bring charges of sexual assault are victims twice over, treated by the legal system and sometimes by the news media as lying until proved truthful.

“There is no other crime I can think of where the victim is more victimized,” said Rebecca Campbell, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University who for 20 years has been studying what happens legally and medically to women who are raped. “The victim is always on trial. Rape is treated very differently than other felonies.”

So, too, are the victims of lesser sexual assaults. In 1991, when Anita Hill, a lawyer and academic, told Congress that the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her repeatedly when she worked for him, Ms. Hill was vilified as a character assassin and liar acting on behalf of abortion-rights advocates.

Credibility became the issue, too, for Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant chambermaid who accused the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of forcing her to perform fellatio in a Manhattan hotel room. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case after concluding that Ms. Diallo had lied on her immigration form and about other matters, though not directly about the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

When four women, two of whom identified themselves publicly, said they had been sexually harassed by Herman Cain, the Republican presidential hopeful, they, too, were called liars, perhaps hired by his opponents.


“DNA technology has not made a dramatic change in how victims are treated,” Dr. Campbell said in an interview. “We write off a lot of cases that could be successfully prosecuted. It’s bunk that these cases are too hard to prosecute.”

Victims must be better supported with better forensics, investigations and prosecutions, Dr. Campbell said. “This is a public safety issue. Most rapists are serial rapists, and they must be held accountable.”


Among female victims, nearly three-quarters are assaulted by men they know — friends, acquaintances or intimate partners, according to federal statistics.

But fewer than 40 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. Underreporting is more common among male victims and women raped by acquaintances or domestic partners. Only one-quarter of rapes are committed by strangers.

The result of underreporting and poor prosecution: 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail, according to the network. Dr. Judith A. Linden, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in September that in the United States, “fewer than half of rape cases are successfully prosecuted.”

Victims may be reluctant to report a rape because they are embarrassed, fear reprisals and public disclosure, or think they won’t be believed. “Victims often think they somehow brought it on themselves,” said Callie Rennison, a criminologist at the University of Colorado in Denver. “Rape is the only crime in which victims have to explain that they didn’t want to be victimized.”

No surprise here: Obama drops his threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act. The executive-power creep continues unabated:
[T]here are real dangers to codifying these powers in law with bipartisan Congressional support as opposed to having the President unilaterally seize them and have some lower courts recognize them. Instead, it’s a reflection of how horrible the civil liberties status quo has become under the Bush and Obama administration. This is the reason why civil libertarians have been so harshly critical of this President. It’s the reason civil liberties groups have been saying things like this even when saying them was so unpopular: it’s because Obama has, for three years now, been defending and entrenching exactly the detention powers this law vests, but doing it through radical legal theories, warped interpretations of the 2001 AUMF, continuities with the Bush/Cheney template, and devotion to Endless War and the civil liberties assaults it entails. See the newspaper excerpts below for more proof of this.

Second, as I documented at length last week, Obama’s veto threat was never about substantive objections to the detention powers vested by this bill; put another way, he was never objecting to the bill on civil liberties grounds. Obama, as I documented last week and again below, is not an opponent of indefinite detention; he’s a vigorous proponent of it, as evidenced by his continuous, multi-faceted embrace of that policy.

Obama’s objections to this bill had nothing to do with civil liberties, due process or the Constitution. It had everything to do with Executive power. The White House’s complaint was that Congress had no business tying the hands of the President when deciding who should go into military detention, who should be denied a trial, which agencies should interrogate suspects (the FBI or the CIA).
Such decisions, insisted the White House, are for the President, not Congress, to make. In other words, his veto threat was not grounded in the premise that indefinite military detention is wrong; it was grounded in the premise that it should be the President who decides who goes into military detention and why, not Congress.

Even the one substantive objection the White House expressed to the bill — mandatory military detention for accused American Terrorists captured on U.S. soil — was about Executive power, not due process or core liberties. The proof of that — the definitive, conclusive proof — is that Sen. Carl Levin has several times disclosed that it was the White House which demanded removal of a provision in his original draft that would have exempted U.S. citizens from military detention (see the clip of Levin explaining this in the video below). In other words, this was an example of the White House demanding greater detention powers in the bill by insisting on the removal of one of its few constraints (the prohibition on military detention for Americans captured on U.S. soil). That’s because the White House’s North Star on this bill — as they repeatedly made clear — was Presidential discretion: they were going to veto the bill if it contained any limits on the President’s detention powers, regardless of whether those limits forced him to put people in military prison or barred him from doing so. Any doubt that this was the White House’s only concern with the bill is now dispelled by virtue of the President’s willingness to sign it after certain changes were made in Conference between the House and Senate. Those changes were almost entirely about removing the parts of the bill that constrained his power, and had nothing to do with improving the bill from a civil liberties perspective.
It's enough to make you pine for a president who actually understands constitutional law. Oh wait.

SOPA is terrible, even with its new revisions. Two posts from Balkinization offer in-depth analyses as to why. At the same time, David Rees comes out of retirement from political cartooning to revive Get Your War On as Get Your Censor On, now taking on SOPA, And if you're concerned about SOPA, as you rightly should be, contact your elected officials.

How does anesthesia work? Turns out that we're still not really sure.

What's Victoria's Secret? Child labor in Burkina Faso, perhaps?

Independent book stores as “third places”: a place for communal gathering and celebration of neighborhoods and community — a rejoinder to Farhad Manjoo’s recent Slate piece (filled with the all-too-common Slate trope of contrarianism-for-contrarianism's sake).

The behavior exhibited by Lowe's, to give in to a bunch of hateful, ignorant fucks and elevate hate speech to the level of legitimate discourse is absolutely pathetic. More on their cowardly behavior from Alyssa Rosenberg, Amy Davidson, SAALT, and a great Daily Show clip from Jon Stewart:

Grad students fight for their right to organize.

Yet another negative of our completely and utterly failed War on Drugs: marijuana cultivation throughout federal forests:
At these sites — which typically cover 10 to 20 acres and include armed guards and counter-surveillance methods — operators usually clear large areas of native vegetation; spray voluminous amounts of herbicides, rodenticides, and pesticides; and divert thousands of gallons of water daily from streams, lakes, and drinking water supplies. In California alone, Ferrell said, the Forest Service has removed more than 130 tons of trash, 300 pounds of pesticides, and nearly 260 miles of irrigation piping from 335 illegal cultivation sites. According to Ferrell, cleaning and restoring the sites costs about $15,000 per acre.
Simple solution: legalize it.

Sweden may indeed have a generally well-deserved reputation for environmental protection, but their forestry laws are promoting unsustainable logging practices.

Shifting vacation patterns due to climate change.

Empathy among rats.

Baby sloths: SO CUTE.

Heather's Murder-Friendly Happy (?) Link of the Day.

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