In America, "proximity and shared values" is all it takes to turn protesters into felons

On inauguration day, 214 protesters were arrested in DC on felony riot charges, and now they face up to $25,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison, though no one -- not the cops, not the prosecutors -- believes that more than a handful were involved in property damage or disorderly conduct. Read the rest

United passenger threatened with handcuffs to make room for "higher-priority" traveler

United Airlines is already dealing with intense public backlash after a doctor was beaten, knocked out, and dragged off one of its plane for refusing to give up a seat he'd paid paid for because United wanted his seat for one of its employees. Now, the LA Times is reporting that another man, who'd purchased a full-fare first class ticket and was sitting is his seat on a United Flight, was threatened with handcuffs if he did't give up his seat for a "higher-priority" traveler.

Snip:

[Geoff Fearns] boarded the aircraft at Lihue Airport on the island of Kauai, took his seat and enjoyed a complimentary glass of orange juice while awaiting takeoff.

Then, as Fearns tells it, a United employee rushed onto the aircraft and informed him that he had to get off the plane.

...

“That’s when they told me they needed the seat for somebody more important who came at the last minute,” Fearns said. “They said they have a priority list and this other person was higher on the list than me.”

“I understand you might bump people because a flight is full,” Fearns said. “But they didn’t say anything at the gate. I was already in the seat. And now they were telling me I had no choice. They said they’d put me in cuffs if they had to.”

Read the rest

Oversold, understated and authoritarian: debullshitifying the reporting on United's "removal" of Dr David Dao

As the scandal over a United passenger who was beaten unconscious and dragged off a plane when he refused to give up his seat for a deadheading crewmember unspools, there's a predictable torrent of bullshit about how United was in the right because something something private property, and let us not forget the great American sport of victim-blaming. Read the rest

Privately run immigration detention is so violent that prisoners beg to be kept in solitary

With Obama's federal government reducing the role of private prisons in the incarceration of Americans, companies like Corrections Corporation of America (now known as Corecivic) and GAO aggressively moved into providing detention facilities for people awaiting deportation, like the 2,000,000+ people deported under the Obama administrations. Read the rest

Orange County's Seal Beach jail offers posh, $100/day accommodations to rich crooks

If you're convicted of a crime in Orange County, you can shell out thousands of dollars to be housed in Seal Beach's fancy "pay to stay" jail, which made $365,000 in the last fiscal year by aggressively marketing its "work release, flat screen TVs, computer/media room, clean facility, new beds" to deep-pocketed criminals, who pay $100 a night to stay there rather than one of Orange County's notoriously violent, dirty jails. Read the rest

The Free: unflinching YA novel about juvie, desperation and empathy

Lauren McLaughlin is no stranger to hard-hitting, unflinching young adult novels: her debut, Cycler (and its sequel, Re-Cycler) was about a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month; Scored was a class-conscious surveillance dystopia; now, in The Free, McLaughlin sheds any fantastic or futuristic elements and mainlines a pure, angry, relentless and stripped-down story about a kid whose desperate circumstances become almost unbearable when he takes a fall for a car-theft and goes to juvenile prison.

The Body Orifice Security Scanner is why the rectally smuggled phone is called "Beat the BOSS"

When I saw that the cell phone designed for rectal smuggling was called "Beat the Boss," I assumed "The Boss" was a synonym for "The Man," but it turns out it's a reference to a specific product: Xeku's Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS), a "hygienic cavity search" chair that scans prisoners for rectal contraband. Read the rest

The Amazon reviews for a phone designed for rectal smuggling are pretty interesting reading

The "Beat the Boss phone" is an £27 micro-telephone built into a Bluetooth headset with only trace amounts of metal in its construction; it is lozenge-shaped and is designed to be rectally smuggled into prisons, jails and courtrooms. Read the rest

Send Chelsea Manning a hug with #hugsforchelsea

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Chelsea Manning saw injustice and stood up for what's right. Now, she's serving a 35 year sentence in an all-male military prison, and has faced systematic abuse. But now there's hope! President Obama has reportedly put her on a "short list" of candidates for a possible commutation. we need to show how much support Chelsea has right now, so people are posting photos with their arms outstretched, to tell POTUS they want Chelsea Manning free, so we can all give her a hug. Post your own photos to #HugsForChelsea and we'll add them to the gallery!" Read the rest

Trump's NSA will be able to share its firehose of surveillance data with 16 government agencies (Thanks, Obama)

The new data-sharing rules enacted by the Obama administration will allow the NSA to lawfully share the unredacted, full take of its surveillance databases with sixteen other US government agencies -- meaning that, for example, Trump's door-to-door deportation squads could use that data to figure out who's doors to break down, and his Muslim surveillance database could bootstrap itself with NSA data. Read the rest

Chelsea Manning on the short list for commutation: call the White House at 202-456-1111 to help her!

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Whoah. This is huge news. NBC is reporting that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama's "short-list" for commutation. It even appears that the DOJ has recommended that she be released. Chelsea has suffered immensely at the hands of the U.S. government, all for doing what she thought was right and trying to help people. I hope everyone will drop what they are doing today to call the White House at 202-456-1111 and tell President Obama go do the right thing and reduce Chelsea's sentence to time served. Read a statement from Chelsea's attorney and Fight for the Future here." Read the rest

Women sue over forced cavity searches for visitors to Rikers Island

Procedure at New York's Rikers Island prison is for visitors to be subjected to a pat-down search, but women who visit their loved ones are suing the New York Department of Corrections because guards there subject them to illegal, violent, humiliating strip and cavity searches, sometimes holding them down while forcibly penetrating them with their fingers. Read the rest

Indiana's "educational achievement" bonuses: teachers in rich schools get 20x more than those in poor districts

Indiana is one of many GOP-led states that assume that the poor performance of schools in poor neighborhoods is the fault of bad teaching -- and not, say, systemic poverty, the absence of funds raised by rich parents, hunger, mass incarceration -- and so teachers are offered bonuses for "improving" their students' outcomes, which generally means their standardized test scores (since presumptively bad teachers can't be trusted to evaluate their students' qualitative improvements). Read the rest

Bureau of Justice Statistics release new, accurate police killing numbers that are double the historic estimates

After years of guesswork -- in which civil society groups and government stats bodies produced radically divergent estimates of killings by police in America -- the Bureau of Justice Statistics has finally released a report that validates the civil society groups, admitting that killings by police in America are 1,100-1,400/year, more than double the official figure. Read the rest

Petition: commute Chelsea Manning's sentence to time served

Evan from Fight for the Future sez, "Chelsea Manning has already spent more time behind bars than any other whistleblower in U.S. history. She's been systematically mistreated, subjected to torture, and denied access to desperately needed health care while serving a 35 year sentence in an all-male military prison." Read the rest

The only person to go to prison for a string of corporate pollution scandals was a crusading scientist who exposed them

Tennie White is a lab owner who became a relentless crusader for environmental justice for black towns and neighborhoods where giant corporations dumped toxic chemicals and walked away scot free; her work resulted in one giant company, Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation restructuring (under Lehmann Brothers' guidance) into a company that held all its pollution and pension liabilities (which went bankrupt) and a profitable division that held onto the assets built through all that pollution, which was sold off, erasing all responsibility for the executives who'd poisoned their workers and black communities. Read the rest

Anti-burglary advice, from burglars

KGW Portland surveyed 86 Oregon inmates serving time for burglary to see what they looked for when casing a house that is safe to break into and likely to contain valuables. One important lesson: "NRA sticker on car bumper = Lots of guns to steal." Read the rest

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