Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Promises Promises

Ah the perils of adulthood and independence. What I found interesting was that again the Ivy League is perhaps the real issue here and that a young woman who could have gone to a great local University or College for her undergraduate experience, been closer to home and have an opportunity to explore different curriculum's, subjects and career choices instead had to live up to the insanity that is our current culture with regards to higher learning.

What interests you at 15 may not at 19 and what interests you at 19 may not at 29 and so goes the days of our lives. And while the criticism directed at this young woman in the comment sections of both "Posts" the reality is that many many students do leave they just don't quite do as publicly or as well dramatically as this young woman. Part of this I believe is that getting attention is a big part of her life and this is well just another means to that end. And relationships change between Mother and Daughter but clearly ignoring calls and disappearing shows signs of a mental health break and another problem that many children have adjusting to life on any campus, which explains the binge drinking among other issues.

What I find is that children from backgrounds that have less access and mobility struggle with college the first year and there are few to none resources and people available to help them adjust and function.  Classes are packed, staff are demoralized and the growth of foreign students further isolates and segregates students.  Hence the recent protests drawing attention to that issue and the clear frustration and confusion by students on how to handle conflict let alone resolution contributes further to isolation and all that it entails.  And this is called depression.

The method that this young lady elected may evoke madness but this is a problem for many children and it is clear that she is also  a child of need given the background of her family with a single mother who seemed quite educated and well employed  (and that too may be a matter of further information and background checking which no one seemed to do) and  this was a girl of "promise" she clearly was not doing well long before this.  We put so many expectations on young people today and we give them so many promises if they comply,  but as we say promises promises




Columbia student says she went missing and remade herself all to ‘escape’ her ‘Ivy League life’

By Yanan Wang
The Washington Post
May 31 2016
 

After disappearing for two weeks, Columbia University sophomore Nayla Kidd was found safe on May 16. On Sunday, May 29, she made her first public statement in an op-ed in the New York Post.

While her family and friends posted frantic online pleas for help and the New York Police Department scoured the city, 19-year-old Nayla Kidd was moving into her new apartment in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood

The then-Columbia University student had last been seen May 5, in a hall on campus. Then, for the next two weeks, she was gone: disappeared from the apartment she shared with three classmates, absent from her exams, noticeably silent as Mother’s Day came and went. (She and her mother are close; last year, Kidd made a video.)

“Her grades are very important to her — to have her not show up to her finals is very troubling,” Alesha Wood, a family friend, told The Washington Post earlier this month. “That is not like Nayla — she loves to go to school.”

Indeed, Kidd was a star science student in high school and a class representative on Columbia’s Engineering Student Council. But even those close to her did not know that at the time of her disappearance, it had been a while since Kidd loved school.

She said as much in an op-ed Sunday in the New York Post, in the first public statement Kidd has made since she was found safe May 16.

In a piece titled “Why I had to escape my Ivy League life and disappear,” Kidd recounted how the school’s pressure-cooker environment led her to become increasingly ambivalent about her schoolwork.

As the search for her intensified, she was trying to erase all traces of the life she knew: “I started to totally disconnect. I deleted my Facebook profile first, shut down my phone and got a prepaid number, took all of my money out of my Chase bank account and opened a new one.”

These measures were prompted by a sense of alienation from Columbia and its expectations, Kidd wrote. Since arriving in college two years ago, she ceased to be the academic all-star that she had been all of her life.

Kidd grew up in Louisville and was raised by a single mom, LaCreis Kidd, who her daughter says conducted cancer research at the University of Louisville. Her mother holds graduate degrees from John Hopkins University and MIT.

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, Kidd’s talent for science showed. She was accepted into the highly competitive Thacher School, a private boarding high school in California where she promptly earned the nickname “The Science Girl.”

The teachers loved her and lavished her with praise, Kidd wrote, using her homework as an example for other students. When she was a sophomore, her chemistry teachers announced before 240 classmates that Kidd had garnered the highest score in a national chemistry competition.

These accolades only fueled Kidd’s drive to succeed, and it culminated in her acceptance to an Ivy League university.

“The ultimate climax was when I got into Columbia,” Kidd wrote. “Because it’s such a prestigious school, it made me feel like I had proven to myself, and everyone around me, that I made it.

When she got on campus, she decided, naturally, that she would study science. But things didn’t go smoothly.

The day she moved in was her birthday. “I felt really alienated and alone and didn’t find the Columbia students very welcoming,” Kidd wrote. “During my freshman year, I quickly went from star student to slacker.”

In contrast to the tight-knit community at Thacher, Kidd said, “at Columbia I was lucky if a teacher talked to me.” The lack of close connections with her teachers discouraged her from engaging with her schoolwork.

“Even though I was wired to be a good student,” Kidd said, “I didn’t feel inspired. I got through the year, getting B’s and C’s, but I didn’t care. I was just happy the summer arrived.”

Upon her return to classes in September, Kidd signed up for computer-science classes and “hated every minute of it.”

One morning in April, she woke up and realized she needed to make a change and “started plotting [her] escape.”

Weeks before her exams, Kidd stopped going to class altogether. She saved money from her on-campus job, which paid $14 an hour, and sold many of her possessions on Facebook. She found an affordable room in Williamsburg and quietly moved out without her roommates being any the wiser.


She gave her new phone number to a few friends before she left, but she did not tell them where she was going, and she did not answer when they called. She wanted to make sense of her situation without external influences, Kidd said.

She described a spiral of isolation:

I was constantly worrying, and the more they tried to contact me, the more I didn’t feel ready to tell them. The longer I ignored them, the worse it got.

When Mother’s Day arrived, I felt guilty for not calling my mom, but I still couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t face her yet.

I never turned on the TV and stayed immersed in my own world. I had only seen the missing-person fliers online.

If Kidd had been on Facebook, she would have seen the flurry of posts from friends, relatives and classmates under the hashtag #FindingNayla. Many noted that she was not the type to neglect her academics.

Kidd’s disappearance ended after “three big cops” showed up at her new apartment. When she was reunited with her mom at the police station, LaCreis Kidd was reassuring.

“You don’t have to explain anything,” she told her only child. “An investigator told me you might be stripping. Even if you’re a stripper, you’re gonna be the best stripper out there.”

Kidd wrote that she has no plans to return to school. Instead, she wants to make music and work on her writing and modeling careers.

“I always told myself I needed to find gratification through academia, but now I want to find it on my own through the arts,” she wrote. “I finally broke down because I was living a life I thought I should be living instead of living the life I want.”

The New York Post simultaneously published a statement from Kidd’s mother.

The pair usually spoke at least a couple of times a month, LaCreis Kidd said, so when her daughter went missing, she feared the worst.

“When I was finally re-united with Nayla, it was a bit awkward,” Kidd wrote. “How could she just cut me off like that? … I’m not angry, but I’m still recovering from such a traumatic experience.”

When Kidd was found, a police official told the New York Daily News, “Basically, she just wanted to get away from it all.”


Multiple news outlets reported that Kidd was attending Columbia on a full scholarship. All scholarships for undergraduates at Columbia are rewarded based on financial need. In a recent story, The Washington Post’s Nick Anderson chronicled the burdens facing lower-income students in the Ivy League. Despite having their tuition paid for, many are nonetheless stymied by high costs of living and feel socially alienated from their wealthy peers.

Anderson interviewed students who said they often went hungry to save on food. “The reality of a full ride isn’t always what they had dreamed it would be,” he wrote.

Unsafe Zone

Listening to the current news on the Zilka virus reminds me of the early days in the Ebola crisis.  The reality is that once again our current medical industrial complex is neither prepared nor is a safe environment regardless to prevent one from getting sicker upon admission.


This is from Consumer Reports as they have an entire section dedicated to the rising problems of superbugs that are the largest contributor to why medical error is number 4 for cause of death in America.  When Consumer Reports have come to realize what kind of breeding ground hospitals are when it comes to dangerous life threatening illness it is only a matter time before 60 Minutes finally does a story on the subject.   This is a true oxy moron where one goes to a hospital to get healed and instead gets sick.


In the ongoing war of humans vs. disease-causing bacteria, the bugs are gaining the upper hand. Deadly and unrelenting, they’re becoming more and more difficult to kill.

You might think of hospitals as sterile safety zones in that battle. But in truth, they are ground zero for the invasion.

Though infections are just one measure of a hospital’s safety record, they’re an important one. Every year an estimated 648,000 people in the U.S. develop infections during a hospital stay, and about 75,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s more than twice the number of people who die each year in car crashes. And many of those illnesses and deaths can be traced back to the use of antibiotics, the very drugs that are supposed to fight the infections.
      
Terry Otey appears to be one casualty in that ongoing battle. Three years ago, a few weeks after an overnight stay for back surgery at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash., he went to the emergency room vomiting, dizzy, and with excruciating back pain. Bacteria known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) had taken hold in his surgical incision and quickly spread to his heart. He died in the hospital about three months later, following a cascade of serious health problems. “He just wanted to ease his back pain enough to play golf,” says his sister, Deborah Bussell.
     
Kellie Pearson, 49, a farmer in northern California, says she encountered a different kind of bug after having heart surgery last April. Her doctors prescribed an antibiotic in the hopes that it would prevent a postsurgical infection. Instead the drug killed off healthy bacteria in her body, and another germ, C. diff (clostridium difficile), swooped in, causing diarrhea so severe that she had to stay in the hospital an additional five days until doctors could rein in the potentially deadly infection.
     
She recovered but soon realized that she wasn’t the only patient suffering. “When I was able to walk down the hall in the hospital,” she says, “I was horrified to see room after room with C. diff caution signs on their doors warning that the patients inside, like me, had been infected.”
75K
people die each year as a result of hospital infections
75K
people die each year as a result of hospital infections

In the Danger Zone

“Hospitals can be hot spots for infections and can sometimes amplify spread,” says Tom Frieden, M.D., director of the CDC. “Patients with serious infections are near sick and vulnerable patients—all cared for by the same health care workers sometimes using shared equipment.”


Making the situation even more dangerous is the widespread, inappropriate use of antibiotics that’s common in hospitals, which encourages the growth of “superbugs” that are immune to the drugs and kills off patients’ protective bacteria.


It’s “the perfect storm” for infections to develop and spread, says Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., who oversees the CDC’s efforts to prevent hospital-acquired infections. “We’ve reached the point where patients are dying of infections in hospitals that we have no antibiotics to treat.”


But there’s hopeful news: Some hospitals are taking steps to reduce infections and end inappropriate antibiotic use. “But others have made little effort,” Srinivasan says.

Dump 'Em

When I read this I sadly was not surprised. When I was badly injured and treated at the local dump truck for the indigent and injured - Harborview Medical Center - I was curious as to what do they do with patients who have no family or are homeless, etc when they die. It was very difficult, if not nearly impossible to find this out. What I do know is that they are placed in mass graves and disposed of akin to being put in a dumpster. I remember the looks on the faces of the bitches I spoke to a Harborview when I asked about that. It is then they ended the meeting. At the time I was an organ donor and yet that was not noted on my chart and in some way I am now quite relieved and no longer have that option on my drivers license as the thought of those animals ripping my flesh apart sickens me to this day. I frequently say that my biggest fear is ever being taken to Harborview again. And for the record regardless most traumas are taken there by city ambulances unless you are conscious and can direct them to your provider and their hospital. The level of hype and bullshit that surrounds this hospital should terrify anyone who has ever set foot there.

The organ donor program is a disparate puzzle of incompetence and luck. Then we have how those body parts are handled and in turn transported and if more people knew of this they would not participate in this life saving program. Sorry I do know and will not add further indignities to my death and disposal.

I have no family and even though I had on my phone adequate and appropriate individuals whom to call, the fuckwits at Harborview elected to call everyone but, including the maniac who put me in that situation, so again my phone is now locked and we know that only Edward Snowden at this point could hack into it. So if you do not have a "ICE" on your person if your phone is locked, know that you will be treated as a John Doe if they cannot find a family member to advocate on your behalf. You may find your dog walker (as they did in my case), your hairdresser or whomevers business card is accessible. I kid you not and there are many many cases of where individuals died or were released without appropriate family or legal representatives informed.

And funny when I shared this horror tale, with one of the MeMe's (who for the record has more anger and resentment than any human I have met and that includes myself) she was more alarmed that they are not in fact cremating the bodies which is a more sustainable manner. Yes in America the ability to express sympathy or empathy explains perhaps why I am moving out of Seattle to the South as while I say this happens everywhere at least I won't know about it for a hot minute.

Knowing what I do know about our hospital care here scares me and this story in New York fairly confirms what I have always suspected - the medical industrial complex is a fucked up mess.


Bodies Given to N.Y.U. Ended Up in Mass Graves, Despite Donors’ Wishes

By NINA BERNSTEIN
THE NEW YORK TIMES
MAY 27, 2016


One died in her multimillion-dollar apartment. Another left $1.3 million to charity. A third was an opera costume designer who took regular trips to Europe with his devoted partner. All three donated their bodies to medical science, and eventually served as cadavers for first-year medical students at the New York University School of Medicine. All three had signed forms that promised cremation and the disposal of their ashes by the medical school “in an appropriate and dignified manner.”

So how did their dissected corpses end up instead in mass graves on Hart Island, where New York City buries the dead it considers unclaimed and indigent?

Those cases, discovered during an investigation by The New York Times into Hart Island burials, shocked surviving family members and friends. But they also raised larger questions about body donations at a time when medical schools throughout the country increasingly rely on such gifts, rather than on unclaimed bodies, to teach future doctors.

Now, after searching through anatomical records at The Times’s request, N.Y.U. is apologizing, and acknowledging that the cases were part of a practice that went on for years. Until 2013, the school was sending a subset of privately donated cadavers to a city morgue for burial at public expense.

“As an institution, we weren’t aware that this was happening,” Lisa Greiner, a spokeswoman for NYU Langone Medical Center, said. “I promise you it’s not happening now.”

But the revelation reinforces longstanding concerns by some anatomists about the lack of regulation and oversight in a national patchwork of body donation operations. And it could have repercussions at the 16 medical schools in New York State, which use more than 800 donated bodies a year.

How many bodies donated to N.Y.U. ended up on Hart Island is unknown, Ms. Greiner said, partly because some records were lost in Hurricane Sandy, and also because the longtime director of the program, Dr. Bruce Bogart, who withdrew from most university responsibilities in 2011 and officially retired in 2013, now has dementia.

Medical schools often share an excess supply of cadavers with other schools that have run short, and some bodies donated elsewhere were passed to N.Y.U. Indeed, among the privately donated cadavers that N.Y.U. dispatched to Hart Island was the body of Leo Van Witsen, the author of an influential book on costume design for opera, who had actually donated his corpse to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

According to N.Y.U.’s records, Columbia’s program did not need Mr. Van Witsen’s body when he died at 96 in 2009, in the apartment on West 73rd Street in Manhattan that he and his partner had shared for decades. So with permission from the executor of his will, Columbia transferred his body to N.Y.U., Ms. Greiner said. Three years later, apparently because his executor had checked off a box on an N.Y.U. form stating that the family did not want the remains returned, the school sent Mr. Van Witsen’s corpse to a city morgue as unclaimed instead of cremating it.

“He deserved something much better than that, even if it was scattering his ashes in Central Park,” said Sharon Stein, a former neighbor who described Mr. Van Witsen as “thorny, interesting and dapper,” and recalled that he had escaped the Holocaust as a refugee from the Netherlands in 1938.

Unexplained Practice

Without public records on body donations, there is no systematic way to identify how many donors have wound up on Hart Island. The Times stumbled on the cases it linked to N.Y.U. while combing through a database of 62,000 Hart Island burials since 1980, originally compiled by volunteers for the Hart Island Project, a nonprofit organization. A gap of one to three years between death and burial typically was a sign that the deceased had served as a medical cadaver. But among hundreds of such cases, sometimes only an unusual name or another exceptional piece of information in the records made further investigation possible.

One of the most striking involved Marie Muscarnera, who was buried in a pauper’s grave in 2008, three years after her death at 91. Her brother Joseph, who died a few months before her, lies in another Hart Island trench. Yet an estate bearing Ms. Muscarnera’s name is on a 2009 list of donors of money to N.Y.U.’s medical school, in the $550,000-to-$999,000 category.

Ms. Muscarnera, it turns out, grew up in Brooklyn in dire poverty, the oldest of 10 children in an Italian immigrant family that depended on her teenage labor to survive. But by the time she died, in 2005, her fierce drive, dressmaking talent and shrewd investments had earned her a nest egg of more than $1.3 million. She left it all to charity, including $691,700 to N.Y.U.’s medical school. Separately, like Joseph, who was disabled and lived for years under her care until he died at NYU Langone, she gave the medical school her body for use as a cadaver.

The N.Y.U. form she signed stated, “I wish my remains to be cremated and the New York University School of Medicine to be responsible for burying or spreading the cremains in a dignified manner.”

Instead, after using her body as a cadaver for three years, the anatomy program paid a funeral home $225 to transport it to a city morgue in the Bronx, to be boxed in pine and ferried to Hart Island, where the city pays inmates 50 cents an hour to do the burying. Cremation costs the school $155 more per body.

Ms. Greiner said money had nothing to do with it. “It really does not appear that any of these individuals were buried on Hart Island for any savings,” she said.

She said she was unable to explain the reasoning behind N.Y.U.’s practice, but she linked it to confusing notification letters sent out to survivors, sometimes months after a donor’s body had been accepted as a cadaver. Notwithstanding the written wishes of the donor, unless a surviving relative or executor responded to that notification within 90 days by checking the right box, the body was not cremated but dispatched to the city morgue for a Hart Island burial.

The wording of the notification changed a few times, but no version disclosed the plan for a mass grave on Hart Island, and one form in use for several years falsely stated that after cremation, cremains that went uncollected would be buried by the City of New York. In fact, New York does not bury ashes, and unlike many other major cities in the United States, it is barred by state law from cremating bodies considered unclaimed.
Continue reading the main story

Ms. Greiner said all donated bodies are now cremated at Rosehill Crematory in Linden, N.J., and if families do not wish the return of the ashes, they are scattered in a memorial garden there.
Lack of Transparency

N.Y.U. was one of the first medical schools in the country to publicize annual memorial ceremonies held by grateful medical students to honor body donors. Each year, on average, it receives 46 cadavers and signs up 65 donors. Officials at the Associated Medical Schools of New York, of which N.Y.U. is a member, said that it knew of no other school that had ever sent privately donated bodies to a potter’s field, and that it had been unaware that N.Y.U. was doing so.

Todd Olson, who formerly directed the anatomical donation program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and, as a professor of anatomy, was a leader in the profession’s state and national organizations, said he was sickened to learn of N.Y.U.’s method of disposing of some privately donated bodies.

“This is so out of line with common practice,” he said. “The idea of it is so disrespectful.” But, he added, “Every time you turn around you’re going to find some people who are taking advantage of their access to the dead, because they know the dead are not going to talk.”

To Brandi Schmitt, an officer of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists and the director of the anatomical donation program at the University of California, the existence of such a long-undetected policy at a major institution underscores the lack of transparency and oversight in donation operations. Nationally, such operations include large for-profit companies supplying a booming demand for human tissue in science and industry, as well as academic programs teaching anatomy to medical students.

“There continues to be a need for comprehensive laws and policies to allow a layperson to understand the choice they’re making,” Ms. Schmitt said of body donation. “It is absolutely essential to have an institution’s leadership involved and to have strong policies and procedures in place that are not a secret.”

In recent years, body donation operations of various kinds have been enmeshed in scandals. Federal raids on anatomical donation companies in several states led to criminal indictments this year after more than a thousand decaying body parts were discovered in a shabby Detroit warehouse. They had been supplied and sold for profit, without the donors’ consent. In another case, George Washington University’s medical school announced that it had lost track of the identities of about 50 donated cadavers used to train future doctors, and families were suddenly left to wonder whether they had been sent the wrong ashes.

Ms. Schmitt said news of N.Y.U.’s missteps would inevitably affect the public perception of other body donation programs, which rely on their reputations to attract donors. “Doing what you say you will do has to be the cornerstone of your policies,” she said. “The families, the loved ones, the living donor, in fact, deserve to have a tracking process and an oversight process that equals respect.”

In the Muscarnera case, a surviving brother, Vincent, had checked a box saying, “The family no longer wishes to have the remains of Ms. Marie Muscarnera returned.” In an interview last year, Mr. Muscarnera, a retired teacher in his 90s who calls himself “a loner,” said he had no idea N.Y.U. would send the bodies to a potter’s field, and no one told him so when he was being pressed to make decisions at his sister’s hospital bedside.

“Now, I think they had so much money we could have had a normal burial,” he said.
Donors’ Intentions

In the family of another N.Y.U. donor, a son who checked the same box as Mr. Muscarnera was angry.

“It’s a travesty based on a falsehood,” said Anthony R. Smith, the son of Ruth Proskauer Smith, a celebrated feminist and reproductive rights advocate who had arranged to donate her body to N.Y.U. years before her death at 102 in her home at the Dakota, one of Manhattan’s most fabled apartment buildings.

“Ruth Proskauer Smith would be outraged by what your reporter learned,” he wrote in a letter to The Times last week, “NOT because she would have cared where she was ‘disposed of’ but because this hugely wealthy institution used this device to cheat the city by having taxpayers pay for burial.”

In a statement sent to The Times by Ms. Greiner, Mel Rosenfeld, the senior associate dean for medical education at N.Y.U., was apologetic. “We sincerely regret any actions on our part that did not reflect the wishes of those altruistic donors and their families who willingly donated their remains for medical education,” he wrote. “In 2013, we instituted major changes to our disposition practices for donor remains that will ensure that we honor the donors’ wishes with regard to their remains.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

Shame on You

When I agree with Donald Trump I will need a drink and his recent foray into New Mexico lead him to call their Governor, Susan Martinez, an idiot.  And after reading this I concur.

This 800K could be spent on schools, education, jobs or housing. No shaming and blaming and once again not allowing facts or justice to investigate and assure that this individual put himself or the community at risk.

Well this is what America is unjust and biased and bound to advocacy groups whom solicit and lobby and in turn also get funds from the same government they are working against or for. It is hard to know what MADD's purpose is anymore but stopping drunk driving seems to be least of their interests.


Drunk drivers, and DUI friendly judges, are about to face Twitter’s wrath

By Associated Press

April 20, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Social media feeds will soon tell you if drunken driving offenders are let off too easy, New Mexico officials say.

The state will pay staffers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to monitor court hearings by judges who are routinely lenient in drunken driving cases, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday.

The group will send details about sentences to state officials, who will identify repeat offenders and the judges in tweets.

The program joins others nationwide in using social media to publicize crimes by repeat offenders, a move that has drawn scrutiny from privacy advocates. But it’s unusual to target judges, and opponents have called it unethical.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving got a two-year, $800,000 contract to attend hearings in at least five New Mexico counties hit hard by drunken driving arrests and deaths. The group also offers court monitoring in other states.

The governor said the program aims to show the failure to crack down on those convicted of multiple DUI violations.

“Too many lives have been shattered by drunk drivers, and too often our justice system fails our families by going easy on the criminals,” Martinez said at a news conference in Albuquerque.

The number of people killed in drunken driving crashes last year in New Mexico decreased by 28 percent, marking a 36-year low for such deaths in a state that has long struggled with high DWI rates, officials said last month.

The program comes as police departments from New England to the Southwest have taken to social media in recent years to post jail-booking photos of suspects.

Police in South Portland, Maine, post mug shots of people charged with drunken driving on its Facebook page. Officials say it is part of an effort to publicize the crime and discourage intoxicated driving.

Civil liberties advocates have decried similar postings by law enforcement agencies, saying they unfairly target suspects who have yet to receive due process in the courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico was reviewing the new program, spokesman Micah McCoy said.

Democratic state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas called it a public relations stunt, saying it takes the focus off DUI prevention and tries to put the blame on judges and prosecutors.

“Blaming a judge for not enough conviction rates is like blaming (a baseball) umpire for not enough strikeouts,” said Maestas, a defense lawyer who represents clients charged in drunken driving cases and has worked as a prosecutor.

He called the monitoring program “unethical” and said it puts pressure on judges for harsher sentencings regardless of the facts.

Jury's In

To understand a jury system one must either have served on one or been in front of one. In both cases we go out of our way to avoid either. I have experienced the latter and I can assure you that the statement a "jury of my peers" only applied in the majority with regards to race, they were all white except for one Asian male. And yes they found me guilty after an hour of deliberating, proving that thought, debate and intellect have little to do with decisions by a Jury.

My case is complex and not. But given the law and the Judge we were not allowed to have a defense that would have explained what happened to me that night. The two Juror's that understood "roofies" were a black woman and Asian woman and both were booted right away by the Prosecution. In a DUI case we only mount 6 vs the conventional 12, another way that civil rights for DUI cases are eroded and in turn voir dire (jury selection) is rather expeditious and the average trial is 3 days.

 Again another state of how DUI's are viewed and throughout the case the Judge repeatedly stated this and finally concluded that my defense was not applicable unless I could get the date (which the Cops and Prosecutor alternately said I made up/hallucinated/did not exist - that note from the Social Worker intake form and the cell phone records that validated said existed were never brought up by either my dream team of assholes either. And as I await my appeal the City has elected to either choose not to respond or delay their response to the last day possible in which to justify or support why they chose not to help but to prosecute me. 

To this day not one person has ever helped me understand what happened to me that night, not one, including the hospital I was taken in a coma. I know that had I died that night I would have been taken to Potter's field and my life and things ignored until my landlord did not get rent and would find nothing but all my life there and that they would be tossed out like  my body.   To my Attorneys, to the City of Seattle and to the Staff at Harborview the story on your end is done but mine is not.   So go fuck yourselves.

To understand the Justice system is to actually experience it, to watch  the plead em and bleed em philosophy of court must be seen to fully understand; it is there you are a witness in an entirely new way and the role of trials are much rarer than people believe and in turn very much under the control of the Prosecution. Even Jury instructions are written to reflect a bias toward the state and of course sentencing is a function of the State legislators, removing any options from the Judge and they lean to long terms and heavy fines. All to save the State and prove they are "tough on crime" when election time comes - for all the parties that are involved - Prosecutor, Judge and Representative.

And that is what it is - the ability to retain power through the election process. So the rhetoric, the money raised and the ultimate failure to ensure justice has become the standard in American courts.

Below are two essays with regards to the Jury System, the way it is biased and in turn the end result. Justice reform is coming through the states. California has moved to changed sentencing structure and are releasing prisoners who were put in for life for as benign a crime as stealing two pairs of Levi's or a car radio. The show POV on PBS did an excellent documentary, The Return,  on the subject as the men they followed tried to reintegrate into a society they have not been a part of for decades.

But it all starts in the Courts and the power of a Jury to nullify or to deny the zeal of the State to persecute, whoops I mean prosecute, regardless of guilt or innocence you are guilty as charged and it is their job to facilitate it to its end - guilty.



To Save Our Justice System, End Racial Bias in Jury Selection
By JON O. NEWMAN THE NEW YORK TIMES OPINION PAGE MAY 27, 2016

THE Supreme Court ruled correctly on Monday when it found that Georgia prosecutors in Foster v. Chatman had illegally barred African-Americans from serving as jurors in a death penalty trial. But the decision does not end racial discrimination in jury selection. The best way to do that is to limit the number of jurors that lawyers can strike for no reason at all to just one or two per side.

Both prosecutors and defense lawyers can exclude any number of prospective jurors for legitimate reasons — if a juror knows the defendant, has formed an opinion about the case or is unlikely to be impartial. But lawyers can also dismiss several more potential jurors simply because they do not want them — without explaining why. In federal felony trials, the prosecutor has six peremptory challenges and the defense usually has 10. In federal death penalty cases, each side has 20. State numbers vary.

In the Foster case, which dates from the 1980s, the prosecutors eliminated people simply because of race. Timothy Foster, a black man, stood accused of killing an elderly white woman when he was a teenager. The prosecutors worked conscientiously to exclude the potential black jurors; they marked their names with a “B” and highlighted each black juror’s name in green on four different copies of the juror list. Those jurors were ranked against one another in case, one member of the prosecutorial team said, “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.” The plan worked, and an all-white jury sentenced Mr. Foster to death.

This was an egregious case, but not a unique one. Far too often in criminal or death penalty cases that involve a black defendant, prosecutors try to exclude black jurors because they believe it will increase the chances of a conviction. In Houston County, Ala., prosecutors struck 80 percent of qualified black jurors from death penalty cases from 2005 to 2009.

If these strikes are challenged, prosecutors can claim race-neutral reasons. In Mr. Foster’s case, prosecutors said one prospective juror who was excluded didn’t make enough eye contact. Another seemed nervous. Moreover, some of the reasons prosecutors gave for striking black jurors were inaccurate. Other excuses applied to white jurors who were selected.

Not only is this practice unconstitutional, but all-white juries risk undermining the perception of justice in minority communities, even if a mixed-race jury would have reached the same verdict or imposed the same sentence.

The Advisory Committee on Rules of Criminal Procedure, which is part of the Judicial Conference, the federal court system’s principal policy-making body, should propose sharply reducing the number of jury strikes allowed in federal trials.

Several Supreme Court justices have suggested as much. Justice Thurgood Marshall endorsed such a reform in his concurring opinion in the 1986 case Batson v. Kentucky: “The decision today will not end the racial discrimination that peremptories inject into the jury-selection process. That goal can be accomplished only by eliminating peremptory challenges entirely.” In 2005, Justice Stephen G. Breyer also urged reconsideration of the peremptory challenge system.

Total abolition of peremptory challenges would most likely face vigorous opposition from prosecutors and some defense attorneys. And it’s unlikely to be achieved, either for federal or state criminal trials. But reducing the number will do significant good.

In 1879, the Supreme Court declared that to single out African-Americans for removal from jury service “is practically a brand upon them affixed by the law, an assertion of their inferiority, and a stimulant to that race prejudice which is an impediment to securing individuals of the race that equal justice which the law aims to secure all others.” All-white juries will continue to be a blight on the American system of criminal justice until federal and state rule makers significantly reduce the number of peremptory challenges.

How big of a difference does an all-white jury make? A leading expert explains.
By Janell Ross The Washington Post May 30 2016


The first thing you need to know about Patrick Bayer is that he's an economist, a social scientist and part of a discipline that relies heavily on all sorts of data about human behavior and financial matters. That's part of the reason economics is sometimes called the dismal science.

Bayer began his career studying urban economics. So for him, that work also often included examining residential segregation, school choice and competition, social interactions and the effects of different neighborhoods on people's lives. Today, Bayer is also a professor of economics at Duke University, where his most recent research has gone deep on the effects of discrimination in mortgage lending and housing markets.

It's serious, academic stuff, not included in publications on your local newsstand. And it is important stuff. For instance, this year Bayer co-authored a journal article with Shamena Anwar and Randi Hjalmarsson called, “The Vulnerability of Minority Homeowners in the Housing Boom and Bust,” published in the American Economic Journal. He's also been published in several other peer-reviewed journals with economic in the title.

Bayer is a guy who knows his stuff. And back in 2012, he published a study that did get a lot of attention in newspapers across the country because it was the first of its kind — ever. He decided to take a look at what effect, if any, all-white juries had on actual trials over a 10-year-period. The answer: a lot.

With the Supreme Court's Monday decision to make way for a new trial in a case involving a black man on death row for killing an elderly white woman, heard by an all-white Georgia jury which prosecutors intentionally formed, The Fix thought a deeper look at the phenomenon of all-white juries might be in order. How does this happen even in diverse areas of modern America? What does this do to justice and trial decisions? Bayer helped us sort this out. It's really worth a read. Be sure you take a look at Bayer's final answer, which puts the "dismal" in dismal science.

What follows is a Q&A conducted via email, edited only for clarity and length.

THE FIX: How would you describe your study's major findings?

BAYER: Let me first provide a little background on the study and the context in which it was conducted.

Our analysis was designed to examine the impact of the racial composition of juries on conviction rates for white and black defendants. The study was based on data from Lake and Sarasota counties in Florida [between 2000 and 2010], where we were able to acquire information on the characteristics of not only the seated jury but also the pool of potential jurors. In order to identify causal effects (rather than just correlation), our analysis examines how trial outcomes change as the result of random variation in the pool of potential jurors called for jury duty for each trial.

The population of Lake and Sarasota counties in Florida is approximately 4 to 5 percent black [Editor's note: these figures have grown since the period Bayer studied], non-capital trials are decided by six-person juries, and the typical jury pool has 25-30 members. As a result, 36 percent of jury pools in our study had no black members and so, by construction [when a jury has been formed], there are no black jurors. The other 64 percent of jury pools included a small number of black members, resulting in black jurors being seated in some (but certainly not all) of these trials.

The results of our study indicated that racial composition of the jury has a large effect on conviction rates. In cases with no black members of the jury pool, black defendants were convicted 81 percent of the time, while white defendants were convicted 66 percent of the time. When the jury pool included at least one black person, the conviction rates were instead nearly identical: 71 percent for black defendants, 73 percent for whites. This large shift in conviction rates occurred even though jury selection still led to all-white juries in most of the cases in which there were black members of the jury pool.

Our study was the first to establish a strong causal link between the racial composition of real-world juries and conviction rates for both white and black defendants. In addition to what the results say about the effect of juror race, they also imply that there is a great deal of arbitrariness in trial outcomes — randomness in who happens to be called for jury duty for a given trial has a substantial effect on the outcome. The extent of this arbitrariness and the large role that race plays in decision-making raises serious questions about the basic fairness of jury trials as they are currently conducted in these jurisdictions.

THE FIX: It's sometimes valuable to establish the basic facts. What's wrong with seating an all-white jury? Does that fundamentally hamper equal justice? And how do prosecutors even accomplish this?

BAYER: In the United States, jury systems are generally designed to be representative of the eligible local population. There are two broad issues related to jury selection and composition that affect the fundamental fairness of jury trials in this kind of system.

The first is related to the system of peremptory challenges, which allow attorneys on each side to strike a number of potential jurors during pretrial jury selection without cause or justification. [This] results in juries that are unrepresentative of the local population. While the Supreme Court has prohibited the use of race as a rationale for using peremptory challenges, numerous studies have shown that black members of the jury pool are systematically more likely to be excluded from juries in many contexts. It is generally not especially difficult for attorneys to provide a non-race related explanation (if needed) to justify the use of a peremptory challenge, even if the juror's race is at least part of the basis for the attorney's decision.

A second and broader issue is whether juries that are representative of the local population can impartially decide cases when the defendant (or victim) is a minority member of the local population. In our study, for example, the vast majority of juries have no blacks members not because the attorneys are seating white jurors disproportionately — in fact, white and black jurors are seated at roughly the same rate — but because the local population is only 4-5 percent black.

In both instances, the lack of inclusion of minority members of a local population on juries raises concerns about whether such juries can actually reach unbiased decisions. Concerns are heightened by results like the ones from our study, which imply that the racial composition of juries does, in fact, play a large role in trial outcomes.

THE FIX: Among your findings, was there anything that truly surprised you?

BAYER: The direction of the findings was consistent with our hypothesis: That defendants of each race are less likely to be convicted when the jury has more members of the same race. The magnitude of the findings, however, was really striking, implying that even a small degree of inclusion of black jurors makes a large difference for conviction rates.

Keep in mind that we are using random variation in who is called for jury duty, so the cases that face an all-white jury pool are statistically identical (i.e. have the same objective quality of evidence) to the cases that face a jury pool with a small number of black members.

THE FIX: Could you explain what it is about all-white juries, or what is it about the dynamics of an all-white jury considering the fate of a black defendant that contributes to these outcomes? Or can you not jump to those conclusions?

BAYER: Unfortunately, our study provides little direct insight into the dynamics of jury decision-making. Our findings demonstrate that (randomly) changing the composition of the jury has a large impact on conviction rates but does not tell us exactly why or how this happens.

We also need to be careful about drawing any conclusions about what conviction rates for white and black defendants should be in these counties, as we have no direct measures of the quality of the evidence in the cases that are brought to trial against defendants of each race. If prosecutors bring a similar set of cases to trial for white and black defendants, impartial conviction rates should be identical. But if, for example, prosecutors bring weaker cases to trial against black defendants knowing that they will face all-white juries the majority of the time, impartial conviction rates should be lower for black versus white defendants. Unfortunately, our study does not provide a definitive answer on this.

THE FIX: What's known about the way that all-white juries decide when a white defendant is accused of killing or somehow harming a black victim (the police officer's acquittal in Baltimore brings this to mind)? Or, the impact of an all-black jury considering a case that involves a white victim and black defendant?

BAYER: Unfortunately, we know very little about the effect of the racial composition of juries on trial outcomes. Our study was conducted in a setting in which blacks constitute a small proportion of the local population, which means that the variation is primarily between all-white juries and those with the inclusion of a very small number of black jurors. I am not aware of any study of the impact of all-black juries using real world data.

THE FIX: Your study focused on a decade of non-death penalty cases in Florida between 2000 and 2010. That's a substantial stretch of time. But, some readers will wonder, how applicable are your findings to the rest of the country?

BAYER: We certainly need a lot more research on this topic in jurisdictions throughout the country. A broader set of studies would provide more evidence on whether our results generally hold in similar circumstances or whether they are special to these jurisdictions in Florida. Additional research could also provide evidence on whether certain rules and procedures for jury trials lead to the greater diversity of seated juries and/or less arbitrary trial outcomes.

The setting that we studied is an important one in the sense that one might be most concerned about the basic inclusion of minority members of a population on juries in settings in which the minority group constitutes a small proportion of the local population and, therefore, can more readily be systematically excluded from juries. In more racially diverse jurisdictions, on the other hand, the use of peremptory challenges by attorneys on each side is more likely to cancel or balance out, resulting in more racially diverse juries. [Editor's note: Most Americans live in communities that score high on the racial segregation index — meaning all but a very small share of most Americans' neighbors are the same race.]

It is also worth pointing out that it is generally very difficult for researchers to access data on jury composition and trial outcomes. So, a wider set of studies will really only be possible if courts throughout the country show a greater interest in transparency and in conducting rigorous studies of the efficacy of the trials conducted in their jurisdiction.


THE FIX: What could be done in individual courtrooms, or in the process of building jury pools to assure greater jury diversity?


BAYER: There are a number of potential policy remedies that courts could use to address issues related to jury diversity.

First, to ensure that juries more accurately reflect the diversity of the local population, the number of peremptory challenges provided to each side could be limited and the use of such challenges could be given greater scrutiny to ensure that they are used in a way that is consistent with Batson v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court case that prohibits race as a basis for peremptory challenges.

In addition, while it is very difficult to establish whether race is a consideration in the use of a peremptory challenge on a case-by-case basis, statistical analysis of attorney behavior over a large set of cases could be used to scrutinize, for example, whether prosecutors systematically strike black potential jurors in cases with black defendants. The privilege of using peremptory challenges in a jurisdiction could be tied to the continued demonstration that such challenges are used in a race-neutral way.

Second, in settings in which minority groups constitute a small fraction of the local population, jurisdictions could design the jury summons process to increase the likelihood of including members of the minority group on juries. While I am not aware of any jurisdiction in the country that currently does this, such a step could be justified as a requirement for basic fairness in jurisdictions where statistical analysis demonstrates that the racial composition of juries has a substantial impact on trial outcomes.

The American court system currently has very few protections to assure that race is not used in the selection of juries. To successfully argue that jury selection was racially biased, defendants typically need to provide a smoking gun, such as the prosecutor notes that indicated selection was race-based the Foster v. Chapman case that was decided by the Supreme Court this week. It is extremely rare for any court in the United States to do any systematic analysis of jury selection and trial outcomes to ensure the essential fairness and efficacy of jury trials.


Women on Board

The list is out as in the annual CEO pay package and apparently salaries and perks are down from prior years.  The article and listings are here and worth a review of what exactly defines down.  My personal favorite are the two, not one, but two CEO of Chipolte are holding at 13M each despite that they poisoned hundreds of Americans and their average employee makes $10/hr, that is some added Guacamole right there.

In the course of talking about this I was informed that this is not something most people can get their head around, that understanding that CEO's make 300 PERCENT more than their average employee is not only outrageous it is part of the problem with regards to income inequity. That a CEO does not do 300% more work, as we seem to define and justify salary by regards to the phrase "hard worker" and that when a company's earnings are not making the mark established by Wall Street analysts, the way CEO's determine how to hit that target they do so by employee culling and cutting staff.

This young MEME seems to rage on about the salaries of non profits that are a problem and particularly that of education, but doesn't grasp the fundamental aspects of profit and loss and how compensation in the private sector determines to a point why non profit salaries are over the top.  And this too may be due to inadequate education but at some point accountability and desire to be informed is a personal responsibility and this may be some of the problem to level of confusion and ignorance (see my post on that).    But all of this  while raging, yes raging, on about how government is destroying the economy, that unions are a problem and corrupt and private industry is the solution.  And all while saying making 50K would be better than the current minimum wage job the MEME currently possess and yet simulataneously complaining about education and its costs and why they cannot get ahead and will never make that kind of money.

Does any of that make any sense?

I get that the costs of education, the avenue in which to elevate one's self on the ladder to economic security,makes that a challenge if not impossible.  And the reality is unless you are a true entrepreneur  in the way you actually invent or build a business that is not via some family connection (the true reason for most MEME's career track) the likelihood of entering a profession that provides a substantial wage and job security is near to impossible and soon non existent.  And yes that includes the beloved Tech sector (the new bully nation) as time and time again we are seeing how that still highly paid profession in comparison to many others circumvents this via H1B1 Visas, layoffs and other strategies to stifle that profession.

The myth of the 100K tech worker is going with the unicorn of meritocracy.  And to this young lady who comes from a working class family from a rural community needs to understand, the economic ladder to success is a slippery one and that unless you are active in protesting, picketing, and demanding change to improve this bitching about how unions, government and terrible Instructors have fucked up your life will do nothing to change any of this.

And while professing feminism, the young MEME is again quite provincial and conventional when it comes to this issue of demanding equality and parity.  And why when I read the below article it all made sense - women are still marginalized to believe that we need to get along.   And despite the vitriol  this young woman would no more walk into a Professors office let alone walk a picket line as the fear factor of holding one's place in line to wait for the men to lead has not changed one iota.




Where More Women Are on Boards, Executive Pay Is Higher

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
THE NEW YORK TIMES  MAY 27, 2016


Appointing more women to corporate boards has long been viewed as a good thing for a company’s performance and for society as a whole.

But gender diversity among directors carries another benefit, 2015 proxy filings show: a bigger paycheck for the company’s chief executive.

An analysis of C.E.O. pay at 100 large companies last year by Equilar, a compensation research firm in Redwood City, Calif., found that companies with greater gender diversity on their boards paid their chief executives about 15 percent more than the compensation dispensed by companies with less diverse boards. In dollars, this translated to approximately $2 million more in median pay last year among these companies.

This data, which comes from a smaller set than Equilar’s broader study of pay at the top 200 companies, doesn’t necessarily prove cause and effect, of course. There could be other reasons for the disparity, too. The more diverse companies could be bigger or more profitable than average, for example.

Still, it stumped me. For some reason, I had expected women directors to stand tougher on pay issues.

But Nell Minow, a longtime expert on corporate governance, was unsurprised by the findings.

“It’s very difficult for women to get on boards, and I think they are under even more pressure to go along and get along,” said Ms. Minow, a vice chairwoman at ValueEdge Advisors, a consulting firm that works with shareholder groups on compensation and other issues. “The culture of the boardroom is to vote yes. You want to stay on the board, don’t you?”

Today, roughly one in five directors at a wide array of public companies is female, Equilar said. That’s up 31 percent over the last five years.

If Ms. Minow is right about board culture, anyone arguing for more women on boards should recognize that gender alone may not be enough to generate a new approach to pay.

Among the 100 largest companies Equilar studied, 57 percent have boards where women make up more than a fifth of the members, which is the average share of female directors among Standard & Poor’s 500 corporations.

The median pay among the chief executives overseeing the companies whose boards had more gender diversity was $15.7 million last year, Equilar found. This compares with $13.6 million received by heads of companies whose boards had 20 percent or fewer women.

Chief executive compensation at companies with more diverse boards also exceeded by 8 percent the $14.5 million median pay received by C.E.O.s employed at the top 100 companies.

At the 10 large United States company boards with the greatest gender diversity, 46 of the 124 directors were women. That’s more than a third.

Macy’s, the giant retailer, ranked atop this list with six female directors out of 13. Wells Fargo came second with 40 percent of its board consisting of women. Procter & Gamble and Hewlett-Packard each had boards made up of 38.5 percent women.

At Abbott Laboratories and Cardinal Health, women directors accounted for 36.4 percent of the boards. At the remaining companies — Accenture, AT&T, ManpowerGroup and Tenet Healthcare — one-third of the board members were women.

Who’s at the bottom of the list? Twenty-First Century Fox, with 7.7 percent of its board made up of women; Express Scripts and Qualcomm did a little better with 8.3 percent; Emerson Electric had 9.1 percent, and Humana Inc. came in at 10 percent.

Most of the top 10 companies paid their chiefs more than the $14.5 million median at the top 100 companies, Equilar said. But four did not. Among these were ManpowerGroup, whose chief executive, Jonas Prising, received $9.1 million last year, and Terry Lundgren, Macy’s chief executive, who received $11.6 million.

Just being a director, of course, does not mean that you can have a direct impact on a company’s pay practices. That is the domain of the compensation committee, the board group that oversees the methodology used to determine top executives’ pay.

Women are not that common on these crucial committees. Even among the 10 most diverse boards, just under a third of the directors who are women — 14 of 46 — belong to compensation committees.

Still less likely, the analysis showed, is that a woman will serve as chairwoman of a board’s compensation committee. Women performed that function at just two of the 10 most diverse boards last year.

The chief executives at both of those companies — Accenture and AT&T — made more than the median pay at the top 100 companies analyzed by Equilar.

Marjorie Magner, a partner at Brysam Global Partners, a private equity firm, heads Accenture’s compensation committee and is its lead director. Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chief executive, received $15.8 million last year, or $1.3 million more than the median pay at the top 100 companies.

Ms. Magner declined to comment.

The other compensation committee chairwoman was Joyce Roché, former president and chief executive of Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization that tries to build confidence in girls. Under Ms. Roché’s stewardship at AT&T, Randall L. Stephenson, its chief executive, received $22.4 million. That’s almost $8 million more than the median pay for the 100 top companies in 2015.

Ms. Roché declined to respond to questions about the pay situation at AT&T.

She was also AT&T’s compensation committee chairwoman in 2014 when Mr. Stephenson received almost $24 million. Company shareholders expressed displeasure with that pay package at AT&T’s annual meeting last year, where 23 percent of votes cast were against its compensation practices. That’s far above the 5 percent of nays cast on pay at the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index during the same year.

Another notable detail about the highly diverse boards: There’s a lot of overlap among the directors. At the 20 companies with the most gender diversity, four directors who are women sit on two of their boards.

These multiple directorships aren’t unusual. Nearly one-quarter of women directors at S.&P. 500 companies sat on one or more corporate boards last year, Equilar found. Among directors who are men, only 19 percent held multiple board seats.

Does this indicate the existence of an “old girls’ network,” a small and relatively elite group of women who are sought after for board seats? Ms. Minow said it did.

“When you talk to executives, they always tell you: ‘We are looking for a consensus builder in a director,’” she said. “What that means is someone who doesn’t rock the boat.”

It’s not as if the pool of qualified women executives — those with so-called C-suite experience — isn’t growing. It is.

But it remains a relatively untapped pool. A study earlier this year by Equilar and the U.S. 30 Percent Club, a group formed by business leaders seeking greater gender balance at public companies, found that four of five women executives currently working had never served on a board.

It is certainly good news that women have made headway as corporate directors in recent years. But for those who had hoped women who are directors would rein in runaway executive pay, the data indicates that gender diversity in the boardroom just doesn’t translate into meaningful change.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Ignorance of Youth

It saddens me when I have a conversation with a "MeMe" the cohort of millennial that veer between active and aware to sheer oblivion and ignorance.  Youth is a great opportunity to possess such ignorance as the idea is to utilize that time to make mistakes, gain knowledge and find your path.   In today's highly driven culture you are to know what you are doing, have a clear plan, pursue your dreams while also pursuing a career (they are in fact often mutually exclusive) and of course do so with a college degree.  And then you get to said college, ill prepared, financially strapped and in four years all of that will go away upon receipt of said degree as you have been repeatedly told that having said degree, the right kind of said degree (that is right now STEM) you will earn more over one's lifetime.

I love that bullshit that absolutely means nothing.  How can anyone know that?  When you have that asshole Peter Theil telling people to drop out, come up with an idea and then sell it to the rich.  And then you have actual people who did that - the current such individual is Mark Zuckerberg.  The idea that he went to Harvard, built an actual social network and was there in the first place is not relevant.

This argument  is akin to saying well Bill Gates dropped out.  Bill had a wealthy family and prior to attending Harvard, went to a private school that at the time he attended spent upwards of $8K per student and tuition was approximately 25K;  The average public school student at that time was about $2K.  Today tuition with costs and fees is close to $40K and I can assume that ration is about  $11-12K and public school students according to the GAO is $9K.  I suspect that amount is in flux depending on school size and composition, meaning FRL (free and reduced lunch), special need and bilingual and of course special programs that include AP, HCC and IB - all extra programs for those kids who are advanced learners.  So the money is more or less hide the pea under the walnut and move the money around with PTA and others finding money. While Bill Gates simply writes a multi million dollar check to Lakeside, his foundation pushes Common Core and testing as the solution to the problem which ends up costing more and reducing actual teaching time.   Ah what is good for the poors is not good for the riches.   And at any time Bill could have returned to Harvard or any school at any age and his children attend the same private education facilities so regardless of when or where they get degrees, like their father their lives are secured.

For many who go to University after high school if they are lower income they have a higher likelihood of dropping out and they don't have that nice security blanket of a network of wealthy friends and family to help pick up the tab. 

So when I have my weekly chat with one of the MeMe's it always veers on the disaster that is education and how it has failed her.  Well it is failing many.  Today the cover story of the Times (yes she also trashes conventional news while reading blogs that are well comments about reading news but hey it is what I am doing too yet I don't have a fancy name such as Huff Po, Gawker, Buzz Feed to convince people this is important!) was about the crown jewel of New York's public education system - CUNY. 

And the story investigates all what is being told around the country, unless of course you are speaking about private universities that have large endowments and grants by the elite which they use at their discretion, how public education is being decimated by a lack of funding while raising salaries of administrative staff and the perks of the being the wallflower in the upper chambers.  The reason for this is because without those same salaries/benefits/perks the fear is that Colleges and Universities will not hire nor keep important people with the equivalent experience, skills and knowledge as they can go to the private sector and make the equivalent.  Again that pea and walnut work overtime.  Add to that the competitive sports programs that too feel that need to drain blood from the true body of what is a public University - education.  So that in turn means hiring adjunct Professors who have no tenure nor long term contract, they in turn have larger classes and less resources in which to teach students, many who have already come there as damaged goods thanks to the similar situations they faced in their public schools and education.

To explain this bizarre circle is challenging. I do think College is absolutely necessary - FOR SOME - but for others it may not offer what they need or want.  I do believe voc-tech ed is essential and there too is equal problems as trades are more volatile then ever before thanks to fewer jobs, less organization and apprentice programs that used to exist as a result of strong unions that encouraged such.  But in a public high school this last week I saw a bastion of the past, the Rotary Club, offering tuition assistance and introductions to kids who are seeking such a career choice.  I felt that this is where community comes to play and that too is slowly falling away with few knowing about the Kiwanis clubs, Shriner's and others that were very much a part of families and philanthropy. Today is all the new concept of Venture Philanthropy and the idea that the rich can do it all better. 

But to explain this to a young woman in her life time has never seen nor heard of this is as if I am explaining a history that is in the text books, not one that I have actually lived and experienced.  It was as if in her endless criticism and negativity she was utterly unaware that I was sitting there and a living example of how a child of working class, immigrants, who lived through what was the brightest moment in history to now what I think is the darkest.

Her family are state workers, they are un-educated themselves and yet will retire on full pensions, so as she eschews Government and Unions her family irony not lost reap that benefit.  Her stepfather blames the union for not helping him and calling them corrupt as he has to work 45 hours a week.  And yet at no point did she understand that is his responsibility to demand results from one's union and that if you are not electing appropriate representatives and demanding your rights this is what happens.  The reality is that he is afraid as our many in this rural community as the state is the biggest and sole employer and being close to retirement this is the end of the road.  Funny how that while complaining about it, she works at a minimum wage job, complains about community college and that only going to Harvard or the Ivy League matters to get a good job.  Hard to talk to someone that angry and that ignorant and oddly utterly un-self determined.  She learned that skill well from the beleaguered working class who fear the boss man.

Ah the rich have the poors right where the want them - indebted and afraid - and that is why education funding, the passing of the torch to privatize education, while saddling kids with ostensibly a car on their back to ensure indentured servitude for life to a business that on whim can shut doors, cut jobs and move out of state or country.  Yes the ignorance of youth is that is their experience, they have known little else.

 And while I agree with my MeMe friend that many in Government, regardless of their political color, are utterly incompetent and unresponsive the problems the working class face.  Cuomo is a Governor who epitomizes the "professional class" which Thomas Frank speaks.  He is one of many and we are sure that these legacy individuals, with their advanced degrees and pedigrees will resolve the problems in a dignified manner.   I point to this idiot with yes a Harvard degree and a Yale Ph.d. to remind us that this is best of the Ivy League, I will happily take the worst. 

Read the story about CUNY here, they too have a legacy of producing the best and the brightest and read the complaints by both Students and Staff that share equal concerns which joins them together and not apart as many campuses seem to focus on today.   Funny if they worked together on this it might save the College but I am not sure if anyone knows how to do that today.  They should call the Rotary club and ask.  

Ah ignorance it is not just the provenance of youth


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fat Bastard

(Ronda Churchill/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Judge Handcuffs Defense Attorney In Court To Teach Her 'A Lesson' For Speaking Out

The Huffington Post

A Las Vegas judge ordered Deputy Public Defender Zohra Bakhtary to be placed in handcuffs in court. 

A Las Vegas judge this week ordered a deputy public defender to be placed in handcuffs and seated next to inmates in court, saying he wanted to teach her "a lesson" about courtroom etiquette. But legal experts say it's the judge who may actually need a lesson in decorum.

On Monday, an irritated Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen told Clark County Deputy Public Defender Zohra Bakhtary to "be quiet" as she tried to defend her client and keep him from serving a six-month jail sentence for violating probation, the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported.

As Bakhtary continued speak out in defense of her client, Hafen exploded and ordered a marshal to place Bakhtary in handcuffs and seat her in the jury box next to inmates.

Hafen told the Review-Journal that it's not "proper decorum" to talk over or interrupt in court. But Bakhtary told The Huffington Post that it was Hafen who first interrupted her while she was in the middle of defending her client. Here's the court transcript from the incident:

MS. BAKHTARY: But there has to be some leniency in this department.

THE COURT: No, there doesn't just.

MS. BAKHTARY: There has to be some indicative circumstance --

THE COURT: No. No, there doesn't. Let me show you the leniency. Just so everybody in the courtroom understands the leniency that was provided to the defendant. Okay? I'm going to take a few minutes and we're going to explain everything because I'm going to debunk this theory of yours. Okay, Zohra? Just so everybody knows, this defendant was charged with a felony and a gross misdemeanor. Okay?

MS. BAKHTARY: Judge, I would ask the Court not to --

THE COURT: Zohra, be quiet.

MS. BAKHTARY: Judge, you're asking --

THE COURT: Zohra --

MS. BAKHTARY: You're making --

THE COURT: Do you want to be found in contempt?

MS. BAKHTARY: Judge, you're asking --

THE COURT: Zohra, be quiet. Now. Not another word.

MS. BAKHTARY: Judge, you're --

THE COURT: Travis, right now. I'm tired of it. Right now. (Whereupon, Ms. Bakhtary was taken into custody.)

Hafen claimed to the Review-Journal that Bakhtary had exhibited "a progression" of unprofessional behavior in the courtroom for some time, and that he'd been "trying to work with her" but believed she didn't "understand" him. So he ordered her to be restrained.

"We went on with the rest of the calendar, and everything was fine," Hafen said.

Hafen ended up sentencing Bakhtary's client to six months in jail.

Bakhtary says she's appeared in Hafen's courtroom at the Regional Justice Center about once a week for about three years since joining the public defender's office, and that she's never acted unprofessionally. She told HuffPost that Hafen's decision to handcuff her and speak out against her professionalism was "extremely offensive."

“Every day I zealously represent my clients," Bakhtary said. "Every individual who goes through our criminal justice system has a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. It is a frightening day when a lawyer is locked up for fighting on behalf of her clients and their rights. The Court's constitutional duty is to listen to arguments, not silence them.”

Hafen did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment.

It's well within a judge's power to restrain a person who is acting out of order in the courtroom, but rarely do they use this power against an attorney advocating on behalf of a client. And while Hafen didn't make any specific references to Bakhtary's gender in the court transcript, it's possible to see the incident as fitting into a larger pattern of men silencing women in this kind of setting.

Stephen Cooper, a former federal and D.C. public defender, wrote an article on Bakhtary's handcuffing that highlights two other instances in recent years in which female public defenders were treated with similar disrespect. He cites a particularly disturbing case from 2007, reported by The Washington Post, where a judge ordered an attorney -- a woman of color, like Bakhtary -- to be "searched, shackled and detained" by a D.C. Superior Court judge, simply for attempting to inform the judge that her client was "homeless and poor." That judge was later found to be grossly out of line and was reprimanded for his behavior.

Phil Kohn, Clark County's chief public defender, strongly defended Bakhtary's conduct in court and told HuffPost that he's never had one of his attorneys restrained in the 10-plus years he's been working there. Kohn also criticized Hafen's demeanor in the courtroom and called out the inappropriateness of Hafen referring to Bakhtary by her first name.

"I believe in decorum. All parties should respect each other," Kohn said. "It should be 'Mr.' or 'Ms.' or 'Your Honor.' The fact that he's talking to her as 'Zohra' -- this is kindergarten stuff."

Bakhtary's colleagues at the Clark County Defenders Union also denounced Hafen's actions in a letter to news media.

"Handcuffing an attorney who is merely doing her job to teach her a lesson is simply improper and has never been done in the history of Nevada," the group wrote. "His actions were unreasonable and unprecedented. Judge Hafen was wrong."
                                               *******************************

Yes this is just another story about how Judges are elected and run courtrooms as fiefdoms. As we face a massive public defense crisis across the country, this does little to encourage some to enter the field and why many indigent individuals are incarcerated and indebted to a system that has fat bastards like the one above in charge of courtrooms.

What is also egregious is that we as a public know so little about this system, that many in courts go ignored until a media story is published as the story above and the blog from Stephen Cooper discusses  stories like these that goes back to 2007.    And those are the ones that we know of.

America's criminal justice system is not broken, it's shattered. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Move On, Down and Out


 I read the editorial below and thought well I am moving and it is a 50/50 split on how people respond as mostly it is because I am moving South to a "red" State and that is what really gets people's knickers in a twist.  To that I can take a great expression "Kiss my grits!" from the wonderful show Alice and the shit kicker waitress Flo who used that retort with great amusement and flair.  We have few diners left and the idea that a waitress could support a family is as nostalgic as the show Alice.

How to Get Americans Moving Again



Credit Bettmann
WALT WHITMAN’S beautiful “Song of the Open Road,” begins, “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, / Healthy, free, the world before me, / The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.”
That could have been my grandfather’s anthem. He grew up in Illinois, moved to New Mexico, then back to Illinois and out to California. When his kids left home, he got rid of his permanent physical address entirely and lived with my grandmother in a trailer they towed around the country.
I inherited my grandfather’s wanderlust, albeit in a strain that’s more Kerouac than Whitman. Since growing up in Seattle I have moved between states or countries 10 times as a musician and academic. Ask “Where do you consider home?” and I will have to check my driver’s license.
So who is the outlier — me or my grandfather? You might think he was. People in the old days stayed put, while folks today are less rooted, right? Wrong.
Through census data, we know that Americans are less geographically mobile today than at any point since 1948. Other scholarship suggests that the decline stretches back further. This might help explain why our country is having such a hard time getting out of its national funk.
Mobility is more than just a metaphor for getting ahead. In America, it has been a solution to economic and social barriers. If you descended from immigrants, I’m betting your ancestors didn’t come to this country for the fine cuisine. More likely they came in search of the opportunity to work hard and get ahead.
Even for those already here, migration has long been seen as a key to self-improvement. As Horace Greeley so famously advised in 1865: “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.” (What preceded that advice was almost as interesting: “Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable.”)
Fewer and fewer people are taking Greeley’s suggestion. In the mid-1960s, about 20 percent of the population moved in any given year, according to the United States Census Bureau. By 1990, it was approaching 15 percent. Today it’s closer to 10 percent. The percentage that moves between states has fallen by nearly half since the early 1990s.
Curiously, some of the Americans who would seem poised to gain the most from moving appear to be among the most stuck. We might expect movement from a high-unemployment state like Mississippi (unemployment rate: 6.3 percent) to low-unemployment states like New Hampshire (2.6 percent) or North Dakota (3.1 percent). Instead, Mississippians are even less likely to migrate out of the state today than they were before the Great Recession hit.
What explains the decrease in American mobility? It isn’t simply an aging population. The mobility decline since the Great Recession has actually been the most pronounced among millennials. As the first rungs of the economic ladder became more slippery, young adults began to delay major steps into adulthood and became less likely to relocate for college or careers.
Meanwhile, older adults have faced their own headwinds, including a housing crisis that anchored them to their devalued homes and a safety net that ties recipients to their states. There has also been a decline in blue-collar skills, like welding on a pipeline, that often require moving. This has created a needs-skills mismatch, with companies desperate for skilled tradesmen sitting alongside idle workers.
How do we solve the immobility problem? We can start by reshaping education to prepare people to move where good jobs are found. This entails reviving vocational and technical training in high schools. State and local governments could experiment with trade school vouchers, or offer tax credits to businesses that support apprenticeships. But culture will have a larger impact than policy: We need to get over the elitist idée fixe that a bachelor’s degree is for everyone, and get serious about training people for important, interesting, dignified work that is difficult to outsource.
Second, we should reform place-based welfare programs to reduce the incentive to stay put. The social safety net should be designed to promote mobility and earned success, not to anchor people within struggling communities or to make full-time work harder to find. Additionally, it would not be particularly expensive to fund experimental programs to provide relocation allowances.
Finally, we need leaders who extol the American spirit of courage, adventure, optimism and the willingness to break from the moribund past. Instead of vowing to insulate Americans from economic trends, our leaders should encourage the traditional ruggedness that Alexis de Tocqueville found here in the 19th century. In 1835, he observed with admiration that Americans did not view “instability” as a disaster to be feared; rather, it was welcomed and seen as the source of “nothing … but wonders.” In our society, he wrote, change is understood as the “natural state of man.”
Much of today’s political populism on both left and right feeds on the forlorn stagnation of people at the bottom of the American economy. But American decline doesn’t need apologists; it needs solutions. One of those solutions is to help people get out of Dodge. And over to Concord or Fargo.

But what is the reality is that people are moving more often in State when they can but to move as I am across country is an expensive and largely frightening undertaking.  As this article also from the Times explains.    And when you do move the reality of the situation regarding jobs and housing costs can kick in rather quickly.

Seattle is a supposed boon town largely due to the tech sector. Someone clearly forgot to tell Boeing that as they are laying off a large swath of IT people which are the new "middle class" jobs of the present. This coupled with Microsoft and their layoffs speak a different tone than the professional class who shove STEM down one's throat before you can swallow the last load of bullshit they shoveled there.  Disney the new target of Trump knew this quite awhile ago and it doesn't taste any better with American vs Mexican made Oreos.

And yesterday the Times did a great article about another once thriving Southern town in Appalachia dying on the vine and despite their best efforts it seems to continue to wither in a cloud of vape smoke

If you wonder why we have a "drug" problem read that article and the one below about those who come in search of paradise and find it behind whatever drug, legal or otherwise, to assuage your pain. Be it vape from tobacco or marijuana or an opioid, the reality is that when you live hand to mouth, you are living in the street or will be so eventually.   And they wonder why more millennial are remaining at home well after graduation.  Would you leave? The streets are rough and where you have no name. 



Lured by Seattle’s Tech Boom, but Being Left Behind

By KIRK JOHNSON THE NEW YORK TIMES MAY 3, 2016


SEATTLE — Look outside almost any window at the Guest Rooms homeless shelter here, and the view speaks of wealth and power that the residents inside all lack. Construction cranes claw the sky. Trucks hauling steel or concrete rubble shake the streets. Amazon, the giant online retailer, is building out its headquarters campus in every direction as it and other tech companies, in a scramble for real estate and highly educated talent, reshape the city and its work force.

But as tens of thousands of newcomers and longtime residents are finding, the allure of the tech economy comes with big risks and dangers, too, in the rapidly climbing housing and rent prices that have shocked them. The boom has brought with it a crisis of homelessness that the mayor has declared an emergency.
‘Job Signs Everywhere’

“We knew it was going to be expensive,” said Mary Delp, who arrived here last month with her partner, J.D. Cox, and her extended family, after a job loss and then an eviction in Las Vegas. They considered and rejected the idea of a move to Texas. Seattle, Ms. Delp said, felt like the place with the rawest, roaring economic boom.

But the costs of moving and rent “were more than we expected,” she said, “so we ended up homeless.”

They and their two children are settling for now into the Guest Rooms, a former TraveLodge hotel owned by Amazon, which offered it last month to a local nonprofit group called Mary’s Place to run as a 200-bed shelter for families. The old hotel is now one of Seattle’s largest but most temporary of homeless refuges — doomed to destruction next year as Amazon continues to build.

“We can make it work here,” Ms. Delp said with crisp resolve, sitting in a brightly painted recreation room, as her children, Krystallynn, 7, and Elijah, 6, played nearby. “There are job signs everywhere you look out there.”

Ms. Delp, 26, is pregnant, due in September. She spoke vividly of the trip north, full of hopes and plans but also pain, in condensing the contents of a three-bedroom house into her father’s van and a small U-Haul trailer pulled behind.

“My dad would sleep in the driver’s seat, and at first we were sleeping in the middle seat, and the kids had the back. But then it got too uncomfortable for me to sleep, being pregnant sitting up and everything, so we took over the back and the kids would sleep in the middle seat. My dad was still in the front seat. He raised me as a single father, so I’ve got to make sure he’s O.K. He never gave up on me.”

‘We Had Security’

Joe Dopp, 39, a former roofer and surgical scrub tech, took his family of five to Seattle this year from a small town on Washington’s Pacific coast where second homes and tourism defined the economy, and it was even harder, he said, to earn a decent wage and afford a home. He spoke fast, sitting on a mattress in the family’s room, words tumbling out.

“I made $12 an hour. For two years, I didn’t get a raise. I asked for one. I was told no, when other people had gotten them. I still don’t understand that. I did everything I was supposed to do, but that’s one of the main reasons I said, well, if we’re out, we can go to Seattle or somewhere else and actually have an opportunity.”

The tech boom, Mr. Dopp said, is clearly making some people very rich, but that does not bother him a bit, because it is also creating construction jobs that he is qualified for and ready to take. “I never got a job from a poor man in my life,” he said. “I don’t mind people making their money.”

Chelsie Brown, 32, Mr. Dopp’s partner, talked about the things left behind.

“When we had an apartment, we could take showers, cook dinner whenever you wanted to, could eat whenever we wanted to, could have groceries in the house, we had furniture, beds to lay in, blankets – we had security, you know. We actually had stuff that we loved.”

On the road, it was all so different.

“I did a lot of meal planning: This is what we’re having. But when it came down to meats, I would have to get it that day because refrigeration was nonexistent. Anything we had, foodwise, we had to put it in our car.”
‘Another Something You Can’t Overcome’

There were stories of hope and light. Laura Long’s son, Gio’moni Caro, 6, has multiple disabilities. He has had five heart operations already. She and her partner, Angel Caro, 34, a former locksmith, have moved repeatedly and left jobs behind to give him the care he needs. They came here so he could be treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital, which anchors a corner of the city’s biotech corridor and recently expanded its cardiac specialty care.

“It’s just been a struggle,” Ms. Long said. “As soon as you start climbing the stairs, boom! — another medical issue happens, another hospital stay, another something you can’t overcome. That last step that gets us over the top, it just keeps getting knocked back down.”

But she said she would change nothing: “He’s one tough cookie. He tells me, ‘Mom, it’s going to be O.K.’”

Tyrus Gilbertson, 39, came to Seattle last fall to take care of his two children, ages 7 and 14, after their mother vanished. He had been involved in his children’s lives, he said, living in a city half an hour north. But the crash course as a single father has pushed him to places he never imagined.

“I was a wrestler in high school, and my coach was always, like, ‘Never give up,’ so I’ve always been a fighter, always been. Quitting is not in my vocabulary.”

He sat with his palms flat on the table, soft-spoken but resolute in talking about how he has made ends meet. He plans to enroll in a welding course this fall.

“I even panhandled a couple of times. I’ve always been a shy person so panhandling was like the worst thing in the world for me to do. I hope I’ll never have to do that again.”

Joe Dopp and Chelsie Brown said being homeless can’t help but make you more empathetic.

“You recognize the things that other people have gone through — you see the world through other people’s eyes a little bit,” Mr. Dopp said.

“Even still, right now,” Ms. Brown replied, “you can’t judge a book by its cover until you read it. That’s what I look at it as. You can’t judge people, just because they’re sitting in the street.”

Mr. Dopp: “You don’t know their story at all.”

Ms. Brown: “No, you don’t know their story.”

As they spoke, near sunset, the Guest Rooms was quieting for the night — doors closing, common room lights clicking out — sheltering the people within.