Bill Cosby's new prison digs are known for racism, violence and systematic abuse

Bill Cosby has justly been whisked away to prison for the next three to ten years. Cosby--let's just go ahead and assume his prison name will be Puddin'--is being shipped off to the Phoenix State Correctional Institution (SCI Phoenix) to serve his time. It's not a nice place: according to The Root, the clink where Puddin' will be spending his twilight years is rife with racism. Racial slurs, religious discrimination and other demeaning personal attacks are purportedly inflicted upon the prison's population by the facility's staff on a routine basis. Mind you, the staff aren't one hell of a lot safer. It's a high caliber shitshow.

From The Inquirer:

In letters and phone calls to family and reporters, and in official grievances, they've reported a raft of complaints about the conditions in the new prison and, especially, about loss, vandalism, or destruction of their personal property during the move. Several described racial slurs and graphic imagery drawn on photographs of their loved ones — acts the inmates describe as "hate crimes."

One man, Malik Gilmore, provided copies of photographs he said were defaced by the DOC's specially trained Corrections Emergency Response Team, which managed the move: one with a swastika inked on his brother's forehead, another with a penis drawn over his son's mouth. Another, Eugene Myrick, found "squeeze cheese" poured into a box containing the legal documents for his case, which is active in Philadelphia courts. And Carmen Calvanese said that during the move, he had inconsistent access to the insulin needed to regulate his Type 1 diabetes, and that he ended up in a hospital intensive-care unit as a result.

Read the rest

Judge rules Dems can sue Trump for doing business with foreign governments while in office

Donald Trump, meet the U.S. Constitution's 'emoluments clause.'

A federal judge ruled today that 200 congressional Democrats do have standing to sue Donald Trump for violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments while he holds the office of President, according to the Washington Post. Read the rest

Kavanaugh accused of sexual misconduct in letter provided by Feinstein to federal investigators: REPORT

Sexual misconduct allegations today surfaced involving Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The FBI confirms receipt of “information” which Sen. Diane Feinstein spoke of earlier today. FBI tells reporters letter has been added to “Judge Kavanaugh's background file, as per the standard process.”

The New York Times published a bombshell report today on allegations of sexual misconduct against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Read the rest

Yevgeniy Nikulin, Russian charged in 2012 LinkedIn & DropBox hacks, now of 'great interest' in Mueller probe

Why does the Russian embassy want to visit accused hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin so very badly, lawyers ask. Good question. Read the rest

KKK nut who shot at black man protesting racist Charlottesville rally gets 4 years in prison (yay)

“We went there to protect a monument,” he said. Read the rest

Former NSA contractor Reality Winner sentenced to 5+ years in prison for leaking secret report on Russian election hacking to The Intercept

Former Air Force language specialist and intelligence contractor Reality Winner has been sentenced to 63 months in prison. Read the rest

Trump Inauguration Day rioting charges against 200+ people abruptly dropped by U.S.

Charges brought by the U.S. government against more than 200 people who protested on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated President were abruptly dropped today.

The government's case amounted to threatening 234 people with a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison for 6 broken windows. It's great that reason prevailed. It's not great that it took a year and a half, and that exercising their right to free speech cost these people so much.

Keith Alexander at the Washington Post:

Read the rest

Paul Manafort is going to jail pending trial

Lock him up. Paul Manafort is heading to jail, facing trials for bank fraud and money laundering, among other nefarious things. Today, the judge revoked his bail after being told by lawyers for Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Manafort tried to influence witnesses and obstruct justice in his trials. Said the judge to Manafort today: “This isn’t middle school, I can’t take your phone.” Read the rest

Canadian border authorities hold citizen without charge for eight months

Look, we’re not all maple syrup lollipops and free healthcare up here. According to the CBC, a naturalized Canadian citizen was held against his will, without charge, for 10 months while immigration officials attempted to verify his identity.

47-year old Nigerian-born Olajide Ogunye moved to Canada with his family in the 1990s and, in 1996, he became a Canadian Citizen. But that didn’t matter to the Canadian Border Services Agency. During a sweep of his neighborhood (which, I have to admit, I had no idea that the CBSA did), Ogunye was told to produce evidence of his citizenship. So he did: His Ontario Health card and Canadian Citizenship card.

But here’s the thing: despite his producing two pieces of government identification – the gold standard for get-out-of-my-face-I’m-a-citizen, the CBSA refused to believe that Ogunye was who he claimed to be. So, without charge, they took him into custody so that he could be properly identified.

From the CBC:

According to Ogunye's statement of claim, the officers ran his fingerprints, which they said matched the identity of a man named Oluwafemi Kayode Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who had been deported from Canada to Nigeria in the 1990s.

Ogunye says he was told the CBSA believed he was actually Johnson, who had returned to Canada illegally and assumed Ogunye's identity. Those fingerprints, according to court documents, were never produced by the CBSA to Ogunye.

This shit went on for EIGHT MONTHS. Despite having not committed any crime, Ogunye was remanded to two different mixed medium/maximum security prisons. Read the rest

White supremacist Matthew Heimbach is headed to jail

Matthew Heimbach has been sent to jail.

You may remember him from such violent, bigoted hits such as physically assaulting a black protester at a Trump rally back in 2016 or his time leading the Traditionalist Worker Party--a delightful whack of scum described by the the Anti-Defamation League as a neo-Nazi group whose goal is to build a national socialist ethno-state for white people. All the cool bigots love the TWP: the hate group routinely plays footsies with Richard Spencer, skinheads and other white supremacists interests that are terrified of living in a world where their personal banality becomes apparent in the company of anyone who's skin's a shade or three darker than their own.

Anyway, over achiever that he is, Heimbach is on his was to spend some time in the clink for violating the terms of the probation he had hung around his neck for the 2016 Trump rally assault. According to the Associated Press, Heimbach was arrested, thus breaking the terms of his probation,"on battery charges for allegedly assaulting his wife’s stepfather, David Matthew Parrott." It seems that Heimbach and Parrot were mixing it up over an alleged affair that Heimbach had been having with Parrot's wife. And the hits, literally, just keep on coming.

From The Seattle Times:

A police report said Heimbach choked Parrott twice into unconsciousness. Heimbach was arrested at his home after police heard him arguing and scuffling with his wife, who was inside with him and their two children. Brooke Heimbach told police Heimbach had assaulted her.

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Lone Canadian cop takes down alleged mass murderer without firing a shot

I was getting on a plane in Toronto yesterday when I heard the news that a van had been intentionally driven into a crowd of people. By the time I landed a few hours later in Calgary, word was that 10 people lost their lives in the attack. Just under 20 were wounded. I assumed that if he was found by the authorities, the alleged driver of the van would be toast. He or she would have no chance to be tried by a jury of peers; no option to stand before a judge. There'd be no justice, save what a bullet, by the driver's own hand or that of a police office, could afford.

This morning when I woke, I was amazed to see that this was not the case. A single Toronto Police Service constable managed to capture a suspect alive in the murder of those ten unfortunate souls. Despite the fact that the suspect menaced the officer, his demanded to be killed, and constantly reached for a firearm – which turned out not to have been there – the suspect ended up in handcuffs instead of a body bag.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation's got what little footage of the event there is, along with commentary on how a police service that was once known for its heavy-handed tactics identified its aggression as a problem and fought to change its ways. Through frequent deescalation courses, Toronto's Police Service is changing its officer's responses to violent situations, slowly, but with measurable success. Read the rest

Journalist charged with Criminal Harassment for attempting to set up an interview

Two of the largest parts of a journalist's job are waiting and making phone calls. When you're waiting, it's likely for someone to return a call. When you're making a phone call, it's likely to set up an interview, or interview someone over the phone, Skype or whatever.

Antoine Trépanier is a reporter for Radio-Canada: it's the French language farm of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Think PBS, only Beyond the Wall. Recently Trépanier was covering a story about a manager from a high-profile NPO falsely representing herself as a lawyer. Just another day in the dry-as-a-popcorn-fart world of public broadcasting. He called this individual, Yvonne Dubé, the executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter in Gatineau, Quebec, to see if she'd be interested in sitting for an interview. She was down with the idea, or so it seemed. She cancelled the interview at the last moment. Trépanier emailed her, explaining that Radio Canada was going to run the story on his investigation. He wanted her to have the opportunity to comment on the allegations being leveled against her.

The next day, the Gatineau police dropped by to arrest Trépanier for criminal harassment.

According to the CBC, The Crown (our Queen-loving version of a district attorney) hasn't decided whether the charges will make it into court. The story of Trépanier's arrest touches on the topic of where the right of a journalist to contact a source ends and the rights of a source begin. It's an important issue: How much does the public's right to know about a topic that could effect their lives matter versus an individual's right to privacy? Read the rest

Let me tell you a story about Herman Wallace, who spent 41 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit

I read a lot. It's part of my job as a writer. Sadly, most of what I read these days is kind of terrible. We do awful things to one another. We've been doing it for a long time. Here's something terrible that I learned today.

In 1972, Herman Wallace was in the Louisiana State Penitentiary doing a stretch for armed robbery. While he was inside, one of the prison's guards was murdered. Wallace and two other black men--Robert King and Albert Woodfox--were convicted for the murder.

There was just one problem: they weren't guilty.

To say that Wallace, King and Woodfox, known members of the militant Black Panther Party, were unpopular with the penitentiary's staff was an understatement. Back then the trio insisted that the crime was being hung on them because of the color of their skin and their political beliefs. Their declaration of innocence wasn't enough to save them from being punished for the guard's murder. The trio was declared guilty. Wallace spent the next 41 years of his life in solitary confinement.

In 2013, a United States Federal Court Judge overturned Wallace's sentence, stating in no uncertain terms that Wallace's trial had been "unconstitutional" and ordered his immediate release. The Department of Corrections complied with the order.

A few days later, Wallace died of liver cancer. The only moments of freedom he had known in over four decades were also his last. King and Woodfox were a little more lucky--both managed to stay alive for more than a few days after leaving prison. Read the rest

National Geographic calls itself to task for its racist past

As a species, we've got a long history of being shitty to one another for no other reason than skin color. White folks, myself included, have arguably earned the right to drop the mic on bigotry. Over the centuries, we honed systemic racism to such a razor edge that the cuts our ugly worldview made are still being suffered today. As our world's recent politics have illustrated, a lot of people still buy into this superiority-of-the-white-man bullshit. But it's getting better. Views are changing, albeit slowly, and we're crawling on our knees towards equality.

I think that one of the reasons that it's taking us so long to get there is that no one likes to admit that they're wrong. Doing so puts you in a perceived position of weakness, which is ironic given that owning one's faults can be so powerful. Believing this as I do, I was really surprised to read this morning that National Geographic decided to call itself to account for the racist reporting that its correspondents have written and they've published over the decades:

Instead of wasting their time on naval gazing, the magazine's editorial team asked an outsider, historian John Edward Mason, to hunt down all of the ugly, racist writing he could find from National Geographic's archives. As National Geographic's current Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg explains, examining the publication's past was both painful and necessary:

I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888. I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here.

Read the rest

Motorists falsely arrested on DUI charges describe the life-ruining results

Imagine driving home from work clean and sober, getting stopped by police, then arrested on suspicion of DUI. Several people describe the months of stress and thousands of dollars they spent to clear their names. Read the rest

Powerful film on how Bronx Freedom Fund rescues those who can't afford bail

Bail is intended to compel defendants show up for court, but for poor citizens who can't make bail, it can lead to pre-trial jail terms that can ruin their lives. The Bail Project profiles Ramel, who was bailed out by the nonprofit Bronx Freedom Fund. Read the rest

$80K in donations for hot dog vendor after cop takes money during bust

While attending a Cal Berkeley football game, Martin Flores witnessed a cop shutting down an unlicensed street vendor, taking cash from his wallet and citing him. Read the rest

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