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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Newsy: The White House and Justice Department are taking another step to reform drug sentencing laws, and many Republicans are actually on board...The objective here is taking executive action to commute prison sentences, something the president has done very rarely. It's part of a broader effort to soften prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders who have been crowding federal prisons.

And the ballooning federal prisons budget has made reform a bipartisan issue.

RICK PERRY: "You want to talk about real conservative governance? Shut prisons down. Save that money." (Via The American Conservative Union)

Another GOP supporter of reduced minimum drug sentencing laws: Rand Paul. Last fall, he and newcomer Democratic Sen. Cory Booker came to an informal agreement to work across party lines on the issue. (Via MSNBC)


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sky News: A convicted killer due to be hanged for murder has been spared after the victim's mother had a last-minute change of heart. The 18-year-old victim's parents were expected to kick away the chair supporting the condemned man, named as Balal, at the public execution and send him to his death. But once he was blindfolded and the noose put around his neck, she instead slapped his face and said she forgave him. The father of the victim, Abdolghani Hozzeinzad, then removed the noose from around the man's neck as the convict's own mother ran up to embrace the woman who had saved her son. The two women stood and sobbed in each other's arms.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

"Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment.

"Therefore, a continued strong public health program for Austria is required in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors."


Monday, March 03, 2014

Phys.Org: An international team of marine biologists has found mesopelagic fish in the earth's oceans constitute 10 to 30 times more biomass than previously thought.

UWA Professor Carlos Duarte says mesopelagic fish – fish that live between 100 and 1000m below the surface – must therefore constitute 95 per cent of the world's fish biomass.

"This very large stock of fish that we have just discovered, that holds 95 per cent of all the fish biomass in the world, is untouched by fishers," he says.

"They can't harvest them with nets.

"In the 21st Century we have still a pristine stock of fish which happens to be 95 per cent of all the fish in oceans. read more


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An ambitious organization called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is seeking to provide free web access to every person on Earth in a project dubbed the Outernet. MDIF plans to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit by 2015 and say the project could provide unrestricted Internet access to countries where web access is censored, including China and North Korea. At the prospect of telecoms operators trying to shut the project down before it gets off the ground, project lead SyedKarim said, "We will fight ... and win." read more


Comments

#3 | POSTED BY BOAZ

See what a single marijuana conviction can cost you over a 10 year period:

Even a low-level marijuana conviction can cost someone up to $76,000 over a decade using fairly conservative estimates. As a result, Minnesota 2020 is joining a growing body of legal experts and community activists in calling for marijuana law reform. The report's recommendations range from fairer seizure laws and more accountable enforcement strategy to full legalization.
mn2020.org

I would imagine a crack conviction is even more costly. Point is, when you punish people like Stephanie as harshly as the Justice Departments does for nonviolent criminal behavior using measures that further exacerbate the criminality of the individual, you should not expect them to suddenly "turn it around" once released from confinement. You want the black community to pull themselves up by the boot straps? Support Obama's effort to make that easier for them by lessoning the disproportionate and debilitating effects a drug charge can have on an individual such as Stephanie.

You don't think there's a direct correlation between the disproportion of unemployment rates between whites and nonwhites and the disproportion of drug arrests, charges, and length of sentence in conviction rates between whites and nonwhites? Ending the Drug War and reversing its debilitating measures (like Obama has done here) will be the most significant factor in helping the black community, IMO. Do you disagree, BO?

It's complete BS for Megyn Kelly and Fox News to prop up this man's baseless drivel that he allows to excrete from his port hole without question.

First, the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine clearly shows racist intent on part of law makers. How else can you view it? When the law was written, it was clear that whites tended to use powder cocaine and nonwhites tended to use crack cocaine. It was also clear that crack cocaine and powder cocaine are chemically identical, the only difference being the administration of the drugs. How can McCarthy claim that there was no racial intent in writing that law? The 100 to 1 sentencing disparity has only been lowered to 18 to 1 within the past few years.

Secondly, McCarthy completely ignores the fact that nonwhites are arrested and charged at higher rates than whites, and sentenced to lengthier terms, for marijuana related offenses even though whites consume marijuana at similar levels as nonwhites. The enforcement of the laws by police and charging of crimes by prosecutors (of which McCarthy is one) is racially skewed. Hence, it is clear that the CJS has severe racial elements guiding its practices. Obama and the Justice Department are right to take action to alleviate the consequences of this racial injustice and should seek to do more with bipartisan help.

Shame on Fox News and Megyn Kelly for not being fully informed on the topic and for presenting McCarthy's word as gospel. It's positions like his that are threatened by Obama's latest actions (and ones it looks like he will take in the near future). Federal prosecutors and district attorney's discretion should be scaled back, as they are the most powerful people in the CJS, which has produced the cluster ---- of a situation that we currently call the justice system, but in reality embodies nothing of the sort.

McCarthy then goes on to disparage the notion that the criminal justice system is somehow racist:

KELLY: In terms of the outcome on those -- because you know, you go to prison more likely if you're black and you're dealing cocaine than if you're white -- sorry, black and dealing crack versus white doing cocaine.

MCCARTHY: Right. It's a disparity impact theory. They can't conceivably say that Congress design was racially motivated, because white crack defendants get treated just like Black and Hispanic crack defendants.

KELLY: Right.

MCCARTHY: What they say is because more people have been harshly sentenced under the crack laws and sentencing guidelines, that they are racially -- the racial element of it is in the impact rather than --

KELLY: Why is that not legitimate? That sounds legitimate.

MCCARTHY: Well, because racism is about the intent to use race in order to achieve --

KELLY: So not a racist intent.

MCCARTHY: Right.

KELLY: But shouldn't something be done to right that wrong, you know, the disparity between the prosecutions and prison sentences that come down on those two crimes?

MCCARTHY: Well, but the disparity, the problem with the disparity is not racism. The problem with disparity is racism only if race is the reason for the disparity in the first place. The problem with the disparity here is that sensibly, I think you can make a good argument that crack shouldn't be weighed like 100 to one against powder cocaine, but that's what we have Congress for. And in fact, Congress has rewritten these laws to make the disparity somewhat smaller. I think he can still make a good argument that there is work to be done in this area, but in our system, the president doesn't get to do this by decree.

Well, since it won't let me embed the video, allow me to provide the transcript:

KELLY: There has been a detective and a prosecutor who decided charges ought to be brought under the law that was passed by the people's representatives and sign into a law by a president, there's been a defendant, a defense attorney, a prosecutor, a prosecution, and a conviction.

MCCARTHY: Right.

KELLY: And now the president is going to step in and they are saying thousands of cases.

MCCARTHY: Right.

KELLY: Hundreds of thousands and say I know better.

MCCARTHY: Right, just as the president uses prosecutorial discretion as a pretext for changing a whole bunch of laws he doesn't like. He's now moved onto the pardon power. So, the pardon power is going to be his way of rewriting the federal narcotics laws which he personally thinks are too severe.

So, it evidently doesn't matter both that Congress has written these laws, that trials have taken place under these laws and that his core constitutional responsibility is to take care that those laws be faithfully executed. He's going to rewrite them unilaterally.

KELLY: What about all the stuff that he's a constitutional law professor and he'll be following the law and he'll be doing an end to round Congress. However, Andy, he does have the pardon power.

MCCARTHY: Right.

KELLY: I mean, unlike other things we've discussed, this one is clear, he has the pardon power. Is this an abuse of it?

MCCARTHY: Yes. It's a massive abuse of it.

Look, he has a lot of raw power, the president has enormous power. And the -- power is there for good reason. If in individual cases injustice has been done, if there are mitigating circumstances in a case that warrant a correction, that's why the president has the power. But he's not taking about individual cases here. He's talking about a category of federal law that he philosophically disagrees with. So he's essentially going to rewrite Congress' laws by springing everyone. This is not about doing individual justice in cases and mitigating mistakes or hardships. This is about rewriting federal law.

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