Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blog will be back, active again, in early January

Happy holidays again.

Traveling so enjoy your time away from all the nonsense and negativity in the news!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

So the drug war works then?

As the FBI released its national crime statistics for the first half of 2011 on Monday, showing violent crime and property crime down across the board, a group of anthropologists at City University of New York floated a theory for the ongoing crime reduction in New York that they extrapolated nationally: Crime is falling because drugs are getting cheaper. In short, the thinking goes that most crime is drug-related in general, usually committed by users to pay for their fix. So if drugs are cheaper, users will commit fewer crimes to buy them.

The problem, of course, is that one of the goals of the drug war is to RAISE prices of drugs, thereby making them harder to afford, so that--in the words of the Office of National Drug Control Policy--people who are using drugs will stop using them and those not using them will be less likely to start using drugs in the first place!

This article makes Ronald Reagan, who stepped up the war on drugs in 1980s, seem like a genius. Step up a policy that will fail to achieve its goals but will reduce crime anyway!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Police as soldiers and Americans detained without trial ....

“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.” 
Americans can also now be detained as enemies in military custody indefinitely without trial as long as there is a war on terror. Something is wrong with our country.  

Yes, it's been in the news. But for some reason, we just don't seem concerned at all. Even though on the campaign trail in 2007, now President Obama said "We're not a nation that locks people up without charging them." Except now we are. Because he signed the bill into law.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Will this crime be in the news?

Violent? Check!


Bizarre? Check!

Innocent victim? Check!

Man who looks depraved or crazy? Check!

Is the offender a black male? Check!

Yes, then it will be in the news.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

ONE out of every THREE young people is a criminal?

Yes, according to this article from Reuters:

Close to one in three teens and young adults get arrested by age 23, suggests a new study that finds more of them are being booked now than in the 1960s.

Those arrests are for everything from underage drinking and petty theft to violent crime, researchers said.
They added that the increase might not necessarily reflect more criminal behavior in youth, but rather a police force that's more apt to arrest young people than in the past.

"The vast majority of these kids will never be arrested again," said John Paul Wright, who studies juvenile delinquency at the University of Cincinnati's Institute of Crime Science, but wasn't involved in the new study.

"The real serious ones are embedded in the bigger population of kids who are just picking up one arrest," he told Reuters Health.

Though violent crimes might be on the rarer end of the spectrum of offenses, the study's lead author pointed to the importance of catching the early warning signs of criminal behavior in adolescents and young adults, saying that pediatricians and parents can both play a role in turning those youngsters around.

Robert Brame of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and his colleagues analyzed data from a nationally-representative youth survey conducted between 1997 and 2008.

A group of more than 7,000 adolescents age 12 to 16 in the study's first year filled out the annual surveys with questions including if and when they had ever been arrested.

At age 12, less than one percent of participants who responded had been arrested. By the time they were 23, that climbed to 30 percent with a history of arrest.

That compares to an estimated 22 percent of young adults who had been arrested in 1965, from a past study.

"It was certainly higher than we expected based on what we saw in the 1960s, but it wasn't dramatically higher," said Brame.

Arrests in adolescents are especially worrisome, he told Reuters Health, because many repeat offenders start their "criminal career" at a young age.

The researchers said it seems that the criminal justice system has taken to arresting both the young and old more than it did in the past, when fines and citations might have been given to some people who are now arrested.

"If (police) find kids that are intoxicated or they have pulled over someone intoxicated... now, nine times out of 10 they're going to make an arrest," Wright told Reuters Health.

"We do have to question if arrest is an appropriate intervention in all circumstances, or if we need to rethink some of the policies we have enacted."

He pointed out that young people who have an arrest on their record might have more trouble getting jobs in the future. It's one thing if that's because they were involved in a violent crime, he continued, but another if their offence was non-violent, like drinking underage or smoking marijuana.

"Arrest does have major social implications for people as they transition from adolescence to adulthood," Wright said.

While the report didn't ask youth why they had been arrested, Brame said that common offenses in that age group also include stealing, vandalizing and arson.

For most minor offenses, teens and young adults will get a term of probation or another minor penalty, he said. The most serious adolescent offenders and those with a prior record could be prosecuted as adults and end up getting a prison sentence.

Brame said that being poor, struggling in school and having a difficult home life have all been linked to a higher risk of arrest in that age group.

He and his colleagues wrote in Pediatrics on Monday that other warning signs of delinquent behavior include early instances of aggression and bullying, hyperactivity and delayed development.

Pediatricians might be able to recognize those warning signs more clearly than parents, and can point kids toward resources to help keep them out of trouble, such as counseling services, Brame said.

"We urge that parents who are concerned about their kids' well-being, that they get those kids in to see a pediatrician on a regular basis so the pediatrician can do the things they're trained to do.


This is all well and good. But what the article and the researchers do not point out is that virtually EVERYONE breaks the law, even intentionally. The fact is that we are ALL criminals. But only SOME get arrested.

So, why is that? There is no answer in this article, so it appears this is another example of the media failing to report the real story.

Here are the facts: Everyone commits crime. Some start earlier (early childhood), but most start later (adolescence). Some persist in crime over their entire lives, but most only commit crimes during adolescence and early adulthood and then mature out of it. Those that start earlier and persist in crime over their lives are different than the rest of us. And those people commit the vast majority of crime in society every year.

If anyone needs to be arrested, it is them. But arrest will not solve the problem of those offenders. Only early intervention can help. Only that is not happening. And that should be the story.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Remember Casey Anthony?

Would you pay this woman $750,000 for an interview to hear her tell you how she did NOT kill her daughter?

I wonder how much the woman on the left wants to talk about what she remembers from the night she partied with this murderer?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Perdue veto saves death-row appeal law

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

An attempt by the state's district attorneys, backed by Republican lawmakers, to derail North Carolina's two-year-old law allowing statistical evidence of racial bias to overturn death sentences appears to have failed with the governor's veto of their bill Wednesday.

Governor Perdue vetoed SB 9, which had overturned the state's historic Racial Justice Act, passed just in 2009.

... there appears to be little chance of that this time. House Republicans would have to lure five Democrats to muster the 72 votes necessary for the three-fifths margin.

Although five conservative Democrats broke ranks with their party on other issues this year, one of them, Rep. Bill Owens from Elizabeth City, said Wednesday he will not vote for an override. Another, Rep. Jim Crawford from Oxford, said he probably won't, and a third, Rep. Dewey Hill from Brunswick County, said he doesn't know.

Without those five votes, Republican leaders would have to look for an opportunity to spring an override vote on a day when not enough Democrats show up for a session, which House Speaker Thom Tillis has said is a possibility.

In response to a public records request from The News & Observer, the governor's office on Wednesday released some of the correspondence the office has received on the issue since the beginning of November. Of the nearly 300 emails and eight letters provided, all but four urged Perdue to veto the bill.
So it was NOT even close. Thus, what Perdue did is supported by the public.
And her reason?
"I am vetoing Senate Bill 9 for the same reason that I signed the Racial Justice Act two years ago: It is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Basic math. Which is bigger? $20 billion or $7.777 trillion?

So everyday you hear about street crime. It is clearly in the news. Everyday.

But rarely do you see this kind of story in the news, especially the mainstream news.

The Federal Reserve was FORCED to reveal this to us--it loaned $7.77 trillion in below-market dollars to rescuing the financial system, and these nearly interest-free loans came without strings attached.
So how many years worth of street crime does $7.77 trillion worth? At about $20 billion per year in direct losses to street crime, this one deal cost us something like 388 years worth of street crime.

And yet, this is NOT the main story in the corporate news.

This is relevant to the issues in the book of who makes the law, who funds the law, and why it matters.

We are' simply stated, a nation obsessed with street crime. Simultaneously, we ignore white-collar and corporate crime, even though it costs us so much more every year than street crime.
Ellen Brown, Truthout | News Analysis
On November 27, Bloomberg News reported the results of its successful case to force the Federal Reserve to reveal the lending details of its 2008-09 bank bailout. Bloomberg reported that by March 2009, the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion in below-market loans»

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How young is too young to be tried as an adult?

My wife sent me this story today. its certainly not the top story of the day, but it is out there. And it is a recurrent issue in criminal justice.

A 12-year-old boy could spend life in prison when he is tried as an adult for the murder of his two-year-old brother.

Cristian Fernandez is the youngest person ever to be charged with first-degree murder in the city of Jacksonville. Prosecutors say the pre-teen "acted with premeditation" when he allegedly shoved his two-year-old brother into a bookshelf, leaving the boy with a fractured skull and internal bleeding to the brain, CBS reports.

The younger boy, David, died two days after the March incident.

So, he SHOVED his brother. He did NOT try to kill him. He SHOVED him. Which of course kids do all the time.

Find the murderer.

"Yes, I have compassion for Cristian Fernandez , but it's not my job to forgive, it's my job to follow the law," prosecutor Angela Corey recently told Fox News.

The prosecution did offer a plea deal that would have freed Fernandez on his twenty-first birthday.

Defense attorneys did not accept, however, on the basis that Fernandez would be forced to admit murder and likely serve the final three years of his sentence in an adult prison, according to the Florida Times-Union.

So, this is plea bargaining at work. Take the deal and admit to being a murderer, and you get nine years. Don't take the deal and lose at trial and you go to prison FOREVER.

A trial is set for Feb. 27, 2012.

Ferandez's mother, 25-year-old Biannela Susana, also faces aggravated manslaughter and culpable negligence charges relating to the incident. Prosecutors say Biannela, who gave birth to Fernandez when she was 12-years-old, first informed cops that her younger son injured himself in a fall.

So, when is too young to be tried as an adult? You can vote at age 18, serve your country at 18, but work at 16 and cannot drink until 21. Keep in mind that the latest brain research suggests your brain is not fully developed until on average about age 25 years.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do law-makers support the people?

This is one of the questions asked in the book.

One way to find out is to see how they vote on issues that Americans support.

A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans--including both Democrats and Republicans--support closing tax loopholes on corporations or raising taxes on millionaires to help pay for things like schools, bridges, roads, etc.

And this was part of Obama's jobs plan.

Yet, so far, Congress has not acted (well, other than to vote no on every plan submitted by the President).

In this news analysis, Truthout, features the group, Patriot Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, who is calling on Congress to let the Bush tax cuts expire once and for all, and return the top marginal tax rate back to the Clinton-era levels. You know, back to when the economy was booming.
According to the National Priorities Project and Citizens for Tax Justice, the first decade of the Bush tax cuts, from 2001 to 2010, cost $955 billion; the Obama extension, from 2011 - 2012, cost $229 billion; the proposed extension, from 2013 to 2021, would cost $2.02 trillion; the total cost is $3.2 trillion.

Tax cuts for the wealthy have NOT spurred economic growth, but have instead just added trillions to the national debt. People know this, so they are calling on Congress to act.

So far, they refuse. So, it is fair to say that this is one example of law-makers NOT supporting the people.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sexual harassment by little boys?

From Fox News:

Boy, 9, Suspended from School for Sexual Harassment After Calling Teacher 'Cute'

A 9-year-old boy North Carolina boy was suspended for calling a teacher “cute,” reports.

The boy’s mother, Chiquita Lockett, said the principal of Brookside Elementary in Gastonia called her after the incident to say the comment was a form of “sexual harassment.”

"It's not like he went up to the woman and tried to grab her or touch her in a sexual way," Lockett said. "So why would he be suspended for two days?”

A 9-year old boy tells this to his teacher. And that is sexual harassment.

According to the station, a district spokeswoman said she could not go into detail, but said the boy was suspended for "inappropriate behavior" after making "inappropriate statements."

The district's Code of Conduct doesn't list "inappropriate behavior," but says "disruption of school" is punishable by five days of out-of-school suspension.

The news of the North Carolina boy’s suspension comes as a Massachusetts elementary school is investigating a first-grader for sexual harassment after the boy struck another boy his age in the groin.

The mother of the accused 7-year-old tells the Boston Globe that her son was fending off another child, who had choked him in an altercation on the school bus on Nov. 22.

“I think my kid was right to fight back,’’ said the mother, Tasha Lynch, 30. “He wasn’t doing anything except protecting himself.’’

Lynch says her son has been afraid to return to Tynan Elementary School in South Boston since the fight, according to the paper.

Matthew Wilder, spokesman for the Boston public schools, declined to comment on the incident or why it has been classified as a possible case of sexual harassment. He said officials do not discuss confidential student information.

As a parent of a boy, this concerns me greatly. Both of these stories do actually. I mean, at what age should I start teaching my son about sexual harassment? Before I do this I first I have to teach him about sex, don't I?

However you feel about these cases, notice how the media linked two unrelated stories together. That is linkage. It is the hook they use to get you to read on. Thank goodness they at least did not link it to the coaching scandals at Penn State and Syracuse! Or Herman Cain!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You know how the media can literally IGNORE a story?

This is what it looks like.

Time magazine is literally sheltering Americans from the news around the world. Even though we know what is going on (well, those of us who actually read the news online).

Of course, this is the same news magazine that made OJ Simpson look "blacker" because they thought it would make him look more menacing to readers.

Cancel your subscription.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

State of NC repeals the Racial Justice Act

So does this mean we don't stand for racial justice?

My thoughts on the matter, sent to the state's Governor:

This is Dr. Matthew Robinson, Professor of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

I am contacting you to urge you to VETO the recently passed bill that repeals the Racial Justice Act. I know you signed the Racial Justice Act into law, so I am asking you to now protect it from repeal.

I recently analyzed publicly available data as well as every study conducted on North Carolina’s death penalty system in order to provide an evaluation of capital punishment in our state. The result is my recently released report—“The Death Penalty in North Carolina: A Summary of the Data and Scientific Studies.” In the report, I summarize all that we know about the death penalty as it is actually practiced in our state. The report is available online:

One of the five major findings of all this research is:

* Capital punishment in North Carolina is characterized by serious disparities based on extra-legal factors such as race and gender. Specifically, numerous studies illustrate that killers of whites are three or more times more likely to be sentenced to death than killers of blacks, even after controlling for legally-relevant variables. Further, killers of white females are most likely to be sentenced to death and executed, especially when the offenders are African American males. *

This finding, along with all the others, is explained in great detail in the report.

Capital punishment is a state-created and implemented public policy. Analysis and evaluation of capital punishment policy, like all policies, is part of the normal policy process. My analysis and evaluation of the death penalty in North Carolina, paid for by taxpayers who fund my position, calls for action. I ask that you to read the report and take appropriate action.

APPROPRIATE ACTION in today's case means protecting the state's Racial Justice Act, which is the primary mechanism to assure that racial bias does not persist in the death penalty. I call on you to protect this law by vetoing the bill just passed by the General Assembly!

I am available to talk with you or meet with you at your convenience. If you want to discuss the findings of my research or meet in person to discuss appropriate actions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Matthew Robinson, PhD

Hi again from Dr. Matthew Robinson, Professor of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

I wanted to explain to you the major problem with repealing the Racial Justice Act and replacing it with the new bill that just passed the Senate yesterday.

That bill reverts back to the standard set by the US Supreme Court in McCleskey v. Kemp (1987), one of the worst decision ever reached by the Court. In that case, the Court recognized the validity of a study showing clear racial bias in the application of the death penalty in Georgia (the very same problem we see in North Carolina today--bias in the death penalty based on race of victims generally AND against minority defendants in inter-racial cases).

Yet, the Court held that an individual defendant must demonstrate discrimination in his or her specific case in order for the case to be considered unconstitutional. That is, he or she must be able to demonstrate that the prosecutor acted in a discriminatory fashion in the individual case or that the legislature intended to make discriminatory law. This is simply impossible in almost every case for it basically requires a defendant to get inside the head of an individual prosecutor (or legislator or juror).

McCleskey was a 5-4 decision that violated previous Court precedent as well as the way statistical evidence of race discrimination is treated in other areas of law including workplace discrimination and even using peremptory challenges to exclude potential jurors from service! How to address the latter issue was decided by the SAME COURT in Batson v. Kentucky (1986) when the Court held that prosecutors must prove that race did NOT play a role in dismissal of potential jurors if the defendant alleges that race played a role in jury selection.

So, you see the contradiction? Under Batson, if a defendant thinks a prosecutor is using race to excuse jurors, the Court requires prosecutors to prove they are NOT being discriminatory. But under McCleskey, if a defendant thinks he or she is being discriminated against in a capital case, the Court requires defendants to show that officials have discriminatory intent. This is inconsistent.

More importantly, it is also impossible to do. We know, based on careful studies in our state, that prosecutors use race to discriminate in jury selection. We know, based on careful studies in our state, that jurors use race in determining who lives and who dies. My review of these studies shows these facts: “The Death Penalty in North Carolina: A Summary of the Data and Scientific Studies.” In the report, I summarize all that we know about the death penalty as it is actually practiced in our state. The report is available online:

Thus, I am contacting you again to urge you to VETO the recently passed bill that repeals the Racial Justice Act. I know you signed the Racial Justice Act into law, so I am asking you to now protect it from repeal.

If you want to know about these cases I have mentioned, please read my assessment of them here: Robinson, Matthew B., and Kathleen M. Simon (2006), Logical and Consistent? An Analysis of Supreme Court Opinions Regarding the Death Penalty.  Justice Policy Journal 3(1): 1-59.


Matthew Robinson, PhD

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shoppers gone WILD

Twenty people, including children, were injured when a woman at a San Fernando Valley Walmart store used mace against other customers in what authorities referred to as a "competitive shopping" incident.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a scuffle broke out shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday night, just before shopping was to begin, among customers waiting to buy Xbox gaming consoles and Wii video games.

Just more proof that so many people have lost their way, right? So THIS is what Christmas is about? So THIS is what the day after Thanksgiving is about? So THIS is what people value, give thanks for, and teach their kids to value and give thanks for?

Competitive shopping for video games?

Guess so.

See? When told later of what happened, Nakeasha Contreras, who arrived at midnight, said she wouldn't have been bothered: "I don't care. I'm still getting my TV," she told the Times. "I've never seen Wal-Mart so crazy, but I guess it could have been worse."

Still getting her TV? Could have been worse? Wow!

And then there is this! Joseph Poulose was hit with the pepper spray near the DVD and video games display. He blamed Wamart for failing in crowd control: "There were way too many people in a building that size. Every aisle was full," he told the Times.

Wal Mart is to blame because there were TOO MANY PEOPLE IN A BUILDING THAT SIZE?

Wow. Just wow.

YAY! We're first in line to get our cheap plastic crap made in China!

Oh, and there is one more thing to this story, of course: LINKAGE.

Examples from CNN:

* Black Friday shopping was marked by violence in at least seven states, including California.

* In 2008, crowds of frantic Black Friday shoppers trampled a Walmart employee in New York as he and other workers tried to unlock the door at 5 a.m.

Yet another type of ELITE crime

Thanks to my mom for sending this story to me.

It is yet another type of ELITE crime, this time dealing with pensions for workers:

"As companies have been moving away from traditional pension plans, they have been shifting employees to new retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, that transfer the cost — and the risk — to workers."

They know what they are doing. They know it is harmful. And they know it is wrong. Yet they keep doing it.

At least NPR is covering it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More alternative news on Occupy!

I am glad some media are covering this incredible movement.

David Krieger, Truthout | Op-Ed
The Occupy movement is demonstrating its durability and perseverance. Like a Daruma doll, each time it is knocked off balance it serenely pops back up. The movement has been seeking justice for the 99 percent, and justice is an essential element of peace. »

Public Intellectual»
  • Report»

  • Opinion»


    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Here is what Truthout and Common Cause are saying about it all

    Police pepper spray students at a UC Davis demonstration on Friday, November 18. (Screengrab: OperationLeakS - Click here for video)
    William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
    In the aftermath of September 11, there was a big push to create a national surveillance system in the name of national security. Cameras were installed at traffic lights, ostensibly to catch people running red lights and stop signs, but those cameras came with a nifty side benefit: they recorded everyone within reach of the lens in their comings and goings. Cameras were installed at street corners, ostensibly to provide security against crime, but again, you were recorded wherever you went. Bank machines all come with security cameras, and those added to the ever-broadening web of national surveillance. Finally, almost every cell phone now comes with...

    Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch | News Analysis
    Last Tuesday, I awoke in lower Manhattan to the whirring of helicopters overhead, a war-zone sound that persisted all day and then started up again that Thursday morning, the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and a big day of demonstrations in New York City. It was one of the dozens of ways you could tell that the authorities take Occupy Wall Street seriously, even if they profoundly mistake what kind of danger it poses. If you ever doubted whether you were powerful or you mattered, just look at the reaction to people like you (or your children) camped out in parks from Oakland to Portland, Tucson to Manhattan.»


    Monday, November 21, 2011

    "We've got death. We've got drama. We've got a situation basically no one could ever imagine,"

    Not to mention murder and suicide.

    So obviously, it will be in the news.

    As shown in the book, random and unusual violent crimes make the news. This is no exception.

    Woman with gun. Unusual. Woman uses gun for violent crime. Even more unusual.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    From Penn State to Syracuse to ...?

    ... what highway to you take to go from one sports program with an alleged sexual molester of children to another sports program with an alleged sexual molester of children?

    No, it does not require a car, just turn on the TV and they'll take you to both schools, linking the cases even though they are in no way linked!

    It's called "linkage," discussed in the book, and it is a technique the media use to discuss stories by connecting them to other stories even though they are not connected. Think school shooting. One happens. Connect it to Columbine, even though it is in no way connected. Then connect it to Virginia Tech, even though it is not connected.

    In this case (an alleged sexual molestation case involving an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse), i is being connected to the Penn State case (which involved an assistant football coach). See the connection? So, clearly, we have a major problem/epidemic of assistant coaches who are perverts (allegedly of course).

    Now the media will start looking to find it at all schools. Just watch.

    It's already happening at Fox. Check it out:

    See the last story? Now it is in high schools, too! So it must be everywhere!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Keep school lunches UNHEALTHY!

    As a parent of two kids in public schools, I find this really interesting (and disturbing).

    I mean, who could STAND AGAINST healthier lunches for our kids, especially when they (like us) are getting fatter and fatter (and thus sicker and sicker and deader and deader)?

    Corporations of course. Food companies to be precise. And of course, Congress goes along (more evidence related to the material in the book about the power of elites to impact the law).

    According to the CDC:
    • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
    • In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
    Ironically, the CDC points out the risk factors for childhood obesity, and at least two of them occur AT SCHOOLS!

    This story from the New York Times thus makes me sick:

    A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable.

    In a victory for the makers of frozen pizzas, tomato paste and French fries, Congress on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department that would have overhauled the nation’s school lunch program. 

    The proposed changes — the first in 15 years to the $11 billion school lunch program — were meant to reduce childhood obesity by adding more fruits and green vegetables to lunch menus, Agriculture Department officials said.  

    The rules, proposed last January, would have cut the amount of potatoes served and would have changed the way schools received credit for serving vegetables by continuing to count tomato paste on a slice of pizza only if more than a quarter-cup of it was used. The rules would have also halved the amount of sodium in school meals over the next 10 years. 

    But late Monday, lawmakers drafting a House and Senate compromise for the agriculture spending bill blocked the department from using money to carry out any of the proposed rules. 

    In a statement, the Agriculture Department expressed its disappointment with the decision.

    “While it is unfortunate that some in Congress chose to bow to special interests, U.S.D.A. remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals that improve the health of our children,” the department said in the statement.

    Food companies including ConAgra, Coca-Cola, Del Monte Foods and makers of frozen pizza like Schwan argued that the proposed rules would raise the cost of meals and require food that many children would throw away.

    The companies called the Congressional response reasonable, adding that the Agriculture Department went too far in trying to improve nutrition in school lunches.

    “This is an important step for the school districts, parents and taxpayers who would shoulder the burden of U.S.D.A.’s proposed $6.8 billion school meal regulation that will not increase the delivery of key nutrients,” said John Keeling, executive vice president and chief executive of the National Potato Council.

    The Agriculture Department had estimated that the proposal would have cost about $6.8 billion over the next five years, adding about 14 cents a meal to the cost of a school lunch. 

    Corey Henry, a spokesman for the American Frozen Food Institute, said the proposed rules simply did not make sense, especially when it came to pizza.

    The industry backs the current rules which say that about a quarter-cup of tomato paste on a slice of pizza can count as a vegetable serving. The Agriculture Department proposal would have required that schools serve more tomato paste per piece of pizza to get a vegetable credit, an idea the industry thought would make pizza unappetizing.

    The department said the change would have simply brought tomato paste in line with the way other fruit pastes and purees were credited in school meals.

    Nutrition experts called the action by Congress a setback for improving the nutritional standards in school lunches and addressing childhood obesity.

    “It’s a shame that Congress seems more interested in protecting industry than protecting children’s health,” said Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit research group.


    Even Rush Limbaugh got in on it. He mocked Michelle Obama for even taking on the issue of healthy eating, suggesting she herself is overweight (of course while also making racist comments and intentionally mispronouncing her name). Get that? Rush Limbaugh called Michelle Obama fat! Um, Rush, seriously?

    This is the corporate view of a happy kid.

    Are you gonna' eat that?

    Chalk this up as another victory for the powerful. But it is our kids who will suffer.[]

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    The State versus the People


    You gotta' love independent media for stories like these ... you won't see these stories in the mainstream press.

    Check out Propublica, Truthout, and Common Dreams for more, among other sources.


     Just How Much Can the State Restrict a Peaceful Protest?

    As protests supporting Occupy Wall Street have swelled in recent weeks, hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested across the U.S. This weekend, nearly 100 people were arrested in New York and 175 in Chicago. More than 100 protesters were arrested in Boston last week; a few weeks ago, 700 were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    This Week's Occupy Evictions Were Systematically Plotted By The Nations Mayors

    Conspiracy theorists are going to love this one. In an interview with the BBC, Mayor Quan admitted that she discussed dismantling Occupy Oakland with Mayors from 18 other cities.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    About that claim that the police maintain current power structures in society

    A New York judge issued an order today allowing newly evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters to return to Zuccotti Park. FULL STORY | PHOTOS | PROTESTS ROUNDUP | OPEN STORY | OPINION: OCCUPY JUST GETTING STARTED
    Chapel Hill police sent a heavily armed swat team to evict and arrest a group of some 80 Occupy Chapel Hill protesters who'd taken over a long vacant used car dealership (they also arrested members of the press covering the action).

    Clean Sweep of 'Occupy' Squatters

    So, recall that argument by some scholars in the book that the police have historically been used to maintain the status quo in society? And that the media generally fail to report on it.

    Well, it's happening now! And it is in the news!