Friday, June 22, 2018

The Billion Dollar Concentration Camp Industry

Operating Concentration Camps for Migrant Children Extremely Lucrative:

The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is not a multimillion-dollar business.
It’s a billion-dollar one.
The nonprofit Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody. Its shelter for migrant boys at a former Walmart Supercenter in South Texas has been the focus of nationwide scrutiny, but Southwest Key is but one player in the lucrative, secretive world of the migrant-shelter business. About a dozen contractors operate more than 30 facilities in Texas alone, with numerous others contracted for about 100 shelters in 16 other states.
If there is a migrant-shelter hub in America, then it is perhaps in the four-county Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas, where about a dozen shelters occupy former stores, schools and medical centers. They are some of the region’s biggest employers, though what happens inside is often highly confidential: One group has employees sign nondisclosure agreements, more a fixture of the high-stakes corporate world than of nonprofit child-care centers.
Note that the mainstream media continues to use the word "shelter" when discussing these internment camps for migrant children because "shelter" is much more antiseptic and pleasing to the ears. In fact, these "shelters" are nothing more than internment or concentration camps, popping up in various locations such as old Wal-Marts and other vacant big box retailing space left empty by the devastation of online shopping. Pretty soon, instead of the Mall of America, we'll have Mall of Concentration Camps for migrant children, or whoever.

 And it's big f'ing business.
The group’s shelter capacity has grown significantly: In 2010, it had capacity for up to 500 children a day across 10 shelters. Now it can serve up to 5,000 children a day across 26 shelters. The recent surge in family separations has put even more of a demand on its facilities.
Many of these contractors, including Southwest Key, whose president and chief executive, Juan Sánchez, has been a well-known and politically connected figure in South Texas for years, saw themselves as the good guys in all the years they were sheltering, housing and educating young people who had crossed the border on their own. But as their client base increasingly has included children forcibly removed from their parents, that public good will has eroded.
Critics have released tax records showing Mr. Sánchez’s compensation — more than $770,000 in 2015 alone — and his organization’s usually under-the-radar efforts to open new shelters have become pitched public battles. In Houston, a number of Democratic officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, called on Mr. Sánchez to abandon plans to turn a former homeless shelter into a new migrant youth shelter near downtown. Mr. Turner and others said they would urge state regulators to deny the proposed shelter a child-care-facility license.
Pre-Trump, Southwest Key was warmly received by left-leaning immigration activists and civil rights organizations. Post-Trump, some of the group’s former allies are now leading the outcry.
Which also shows you the hypocrisy I've noted on this blog for well over a decade. When Bush passed Secure Communities, there was outrage on the left and acquiescence on the right. When Obama expanded the use of concentration camps and deported more "illegals" during his 8 years than anyone in the history of ever, the left acquiesced and the right pretended it didn't happen because they couldn't believe Obama had co-opted the issue from them. And now Trump ramps it up again, the left melts down, and the right does whatever... pretends to hate it but not really? Kind of clueless what happened to the Republican party of yore.

Regardless, it shows you in our capitalist society that you can make a buck off of anything, including putting children in concentration camps. And btw, if you're sitting there right now going, "well that sounds like a good career option, I'm going to start my own concentration camp, er, detention shelter, and go into the business of warehousing children," think again. The monopolistic forces that crush competition in the U.S. economy in general will also crush you. You'll either never be allowed to open up your own concentration camp, or get quickly bought out by the larger concentration camp companies. So good luck. 

Ours is a sick society.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Down At The Border

Trump Caves on Separating Families At Border:

President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order meant to end the separation of families at the border by detaining parents and children together for an indefinite period.
“We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
But ending the practice of separating families still faces legal and practical obstacles. A federal judge could refuse to give the Trump administration the authority it wants to hold families in custody for more than 20 days, which is the current limit because of a 1997 court order.
And the president’s order does nothing to address the plight of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s “zero tolerance” policy. Federal officials initially said those children would not be immediately reunited with their families while the adults remain in federal custody during their immigration proceedings.
So funny, because for the last several weeks, as the hue and cry mushroomed over the inhumane treatment of these children, Trump insisted he didn't have the authority to stop the practice, only Congress could. 

But, when the politics of it overwhelms you, and you start losing big time in the political polls, you suddenly find out you do have the authority, and so you sign a big piece of cardboard that looks like an Executive Order, pretending to stop the practice. And your "base" is still pissed. 
President Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants in recent days, branding many of them “murderers and thieves” who want to “infest our country.” Not long ago, he referred to them as “animals,” although he insisted he meant only those who join a violent gang.
The president’s unpresidential language has become the standard for some on his team. This week his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, made a mocking noise, “womp womp,” when a liberal strategist raised the case of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome separated from her parents at the border.
Mr. Trump’s coarse discourse increasingly seems to inspire opponents to respond with vituperative words of their own. Whether it be Robert De Niro’s four-letter condemnation at the Tony Awards or a congressional intern who shouted the same word at Mr. Trump when he visited the Capitol this week, the president has generated so much anger among his foes that some are crossing boundaries that he himself shattered long ago.
The politics of rage that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise now dominate the national conversation, as demonstrated repeatedly during the debate over his “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated children from parents apprehended at the border.
The "zero-tolerance" hardliners, whose rage against immigrant children is directly correlated with their inability to get laid, are still pissed about his reversal after they spent what was left of their professional reputations supporting children in concentration camps.

But somehow the idea that objecting to these kooks and their delusional policies, by using rhetoric the knuckle-dragging base will understand, is now being used as a false equivalent by pearl-clutching liberals.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a decline in civility and an uptick in incivility,” said Christine Porath, a Georgetown University professor and author of “Mastering Civility,” a book on behavior in the workplace. “It seems like people are not only reciprocating, but we tend to stoop lower rather than higher. It’s really putting us in an unfortunate place.”
Ms. Porath said the current harsh climate was affecting people beyond politics, injecting itself into everyday life at home and work. “We know that incivility is contagious,” she said. “It’s like a bug or virus. It’s not only when people experience incivility, it’s when they see or read about it.”
Gary Payne, who teaches sociology at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn., said that he opposed the president, his policies and also the trading of crude insults on both sides.
“People are looking for the simplest signals to go by,” Mr. Payne said as he stood outside the arena after trying unsuccessfully to attend the rally. “People pay more attention to demeanor than they do to policy.”
Gasp... what will we do? People objecting to putting children in concentration camps are being uncivil? Oh no!

Uh, I think one can certainly pay attention to policy while at the same time using vulgar language. The idea that "only Trump" can get away with be a vulgarian is beyond ridiculous.

But anyway, Trump's capitulation and waffling on this issue got so bad, even the airlines refused to move these kids to other undisclosed locations when they ran out of room in the concentration camps at the border.
American Airlines asked the federal government on Wednesday to stop using its commercial planes for “transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy.”
The announcement, which was posted on American’s website, was the latest fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to separate parents who have arrived at the southern border illegally from their children. Soon after American’s announcement, and similar statements by other major airlines, President Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families and detain parents and children together.
The involvement of the airline industry in the drama showed just how pervasive and passionate the opposition to the original policy had become. Several flight attendants for American, the world’s largest airline, had posted testimony on public and private social media channels in recent days, describing how they had seen groups of Latino children on domestic flights, accompanied not by parents but by federal agents.
In a tweet Wednesday, Frontier Airlines stated that it would “not knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families.” United Airlines said it had told federal officials that they “should not transport immigrant children” who had been separated from their parents. Southwest Airlines asked that “anyone” involved in separating children from their parents not fly with them.
You know you've stepped in it when the greedy airlines are turning down guaranteed bought seats by the government.
A press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Tyler Q. Houlton, said it was unfortunate that airlines “no longer want to partner with the brave men and women of D.H.S. to protect the traveling public, combat human trafficking, and to swiftly reunite unaccompanied illegal immigrant children with their families.”
“Despite being provided facts on this issue, these airlines clearly do not understand our immigration laws and the longstanding devastating loopholes that have caused the crisis at our southern border,” Mr. Houlton said.
LOL. Like the airlines give a shit. They don't want the bad optics and the ensuing boycotts by an angry, outraged American public. As far as the airlines are concerned, just put those kids on trains, or spirit them away under cover of the night via government automobiles. Not their fight, partner.

The whole thing has been a total disaster and shows you exactly how incompetent the administration is. There are even different agencies saying today, the day after they supposedly stopped the separation policy, that they're gearing up for another 20,000 kids to be put in concentration camps.

I hate to say things are going to get worse before they get better, because frankly it's hard to conceptualize of scenarios even more f'd up than the past 18 months. But it will... it will get far, far worse before this national nightmare ends.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Death By Budget Cuts

Safety Concerns Grow in Federal Prisons:

As the shortage of correctional officers has grown chronic under President Trump — and the practice of drawing upon other workers has become routine — many prisons have been operating in a perpetual state of staffing turmoil, leaving some workers feeling ill-equipped and unsafe on the job, according to interviews and internal documents from the Bureau of Prisons.
Dozens of workers from prisons across the country said inmates had become more brazen with staff members and more violent with one another. At a prison in West Virginia, violent incidents increased almost 15 percent in 2017 from the year before, according to data obtained by The New York Times. Workers blame the problems on their depleted numbers and the need to push often inexperienced staff members into front-line correctional roles, changes not lost on the prison population.
The Times interviewed about 60 employees of the Bureau of Prisons, some of whom, like Mr. Lloyd and Ms. Gregg, were able to speak openly because they are protected by their status as officials in the prison employees’ union. The bureau did not authorize them to talk, and many other workers who spoke to The Times requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation.
The Bureau of Prisons provided some information, but declined an interview request and, in response to a detailed list of facts in this article, said it had no comment. Big Spring allowed a reporter to tour its facilities, but declined a request to interview its warden and said it forwarded other questions to bureau headquarters. The other prisons named in this article did not respond to requests to interview their wardens.
In other words, a complete gag order was issued by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions on the BOP regarding the devastating effects his budget process has had on the prisons and officer/inmate safety. This is more than ironic, given his chest-thumping and pride over ripping children from their parents at the border and interning more than 2,000 children in concentration camps over the past few months.
From December 2016 to March 2018, the number of correctional officer vacancies, including supervisory roles, grew by almost 64 percent, to 2,137 from 1,306, according to the bureau — nearly 12 percent of all correctional officer positions.
In the last two years of the Obama administration, the bureau increased the number of correctional officers it hired, with 2,644 in 2016. Last year, the number dropped to 372. The administration has also begun eliminating about 5,000 unfilled jobs within the bureau, including about 1,500 correctional positions.
Cuts are occurring even though Congress increased the bureau’s budget for salaries and expenses by $106 million this year, and both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for hiring more correctional officers. As of March, there were 15,927 officers in federal prisons.
Because the bureau is focused on eliminating vacant positions, a press officer said, the cuts “will not have a negative impact on public safety or on our ability to maintain a safe environment for staff and inmates.”
During the last years of the Obama administration, the inmate population shrank as the Justice Department moved away from mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses, a change that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the attorney general, has since reversed.
The bureau expects the inmate population to grow by 2 percent this year and 1 percent next year. The Trump administration is also temporarily transferring at least 1,600 immigration detainees to prisons.
And check out Ernie's rationale for increasingly using non-union, untrained, "augmented" volunteers to pick up the slack:
“I mean, you would have to hire an entirely new guard for one person to spend two hours through the lunchroom helping keep an eye on things,” Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions told a Senate committee.
Documents and interviews with prison workers suggest otherwise. Many prisons have increasingly turned to augmentation, and not for isolated two-hour bursts.
LOL. Like being a professional correctional officer is no different than the "lunch monitors" during lunch time at the local high school. Or thinking maintenance workers, secretaries, teachers or other untrained individuals who work in prison support can just jump into the job of CO and do it.

It's ironic: as much as I bashed Eric Holder for his sloppy leadership and cowardice to prosecute real crime during the Obama years, I never thought the position of AG could be filled by someone even dumber or more unqualified. And yet, here we are, with the DOJ being destroyed from the top down: driving away career prosecutors who are leaving en masse, allowing federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to undergo withering political attacks from his boss and the congress, and now destroying the BOP one chain link at a time. I guess all we'll have left pretty soon, at the federal level anyway, are the concentration camps that are quickly being privatized.

At the end of the day, safety is being compromised in our federal prisons, not just for the inmates, but for the men and women who put on the uniform and work in these prisons, taking care of the inmates, and hoping like hell they make it home at the end of their shifts. And with immigration detention and the overall BOP population expected to rise another 2% this year, we're facing a calamity of riots, violence, prison rape, and deaths that are totally avoidable.
A maintenance worker here at Big Spring, who has stepped in to replace correctional officers as often as twice a week, said the current approach was not sustainable.
“People are going to get hurt,” said the worker, who was not authorized to speak to the media, “all because they want to save a little money.”
Helluva job there, Ernie.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Stealth Plague

Suicide Rates Continue Climbing Across The Nation:

Suicide rates rose steadily in nearly every state from 1999 to 2016, increasing 25 percent nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday. In 2016, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides.
The figures were released two days after the death of celebrity designer Kate Spade. The New York City medical examiner’s office has ruled her death a suicide.
And coming this morning on the news that Anthony Bourdain, the travel journalist and celebrity chef, ended his life via suicide in Paris. Talk about a gutting blow... as a longtime fan of "Parts Unknown", even having shown several episodes in my sociology of travel class a few years ago, I can't think of person who represented better what it meant to be alive. And yet those who are that way, who feel things down to their cores in ways most people don't, are often the most vulnerable to the suicidal impulse.
The new analysis found that nearly 45,000 Americans aged 10 or older died by their own hand in 2016. The increase varied widely by state, from a low of 6 percent in Delaware to more than 57 percent in North Dakota. The rate declined in just one state, Nevada, where it has historically been higher than average.
Social isolation, lack of mental health treatment, drug and alcohol abuse and gun ownership are among the factors that contribute to suicide.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and one of three that is increasing. The other two are Alzheimer’s disease and drug overdose, in part because of the spike in opioid deaths, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C.
Firearms were by far the leading method, accounting for about half of suicides. That number has remained steady over recent decades, she said.
I think we're only now beginning to see the devastating effects of social isolation via new technologies such as social media, the smartphone, and the web generally. Since the internet first burst on the scene more than 25 years ago, suicide rates have been steadily increasing in all demographics (as I've charted on this blog for more than ten years). And the rates accelerated in the late 00's when social media and other wireless technologies erupted into our lives.

Leaving us with the ironic result: a population that thinks it's more "connected" than ever (friends, followers, likes, retweets, etc.) is actually more isolated than ever.
The analysis found that slightly more than half of people who had committed suicide did not have any known mental health condition. But other problems — such as the loss of a relationship, financial setbacks, substance abuse and eviction — were common precursors, both among those who had a mental health diagnosis and those who did not.
Other studies have found much higher rates of mental health disorders among people at high risk of suicide, experts noted.
“The reason most suicide decedents don’t have a known mental disorder is that they were never diagnosed, not that they didn’t have one,” said Dr. David Brent, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.
The C.D.C. found that men accounted for three-quarters of all suicides, and women one-quarter. The numbers were highest among non-Hispanic whites, and among those aged 45 to 65 years old.
Previous C.D.C. reports have found rate increases of 80 percent among white, middle-aged women since 1999, and of 89 percent among Native Americans. The rates declined slightly among black men and people over age 75 during that time.
Suicide rates have waxed and waned over the country’s history and tend to reach highs in hard times. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the rate was 22 per 100,000, among the highest in modern history. The rate in the new C.D.C. data was 15.4 per 100,000.
The past three decades have presented a morbid puzzle. Rates have risen steadily in most age and ethnic groups, even as rates of psychiatric treatment and diagnosis have also greatly increased.
Again, not really a "morbid puzzle" when you read what I wrote above. It's the result of a devastating plague of social isolation that simply exacerbates other precursors to suicide (such as mental illness, substance abuse, access to guns, loss of a relationship or job, etc.).

In fact, the correlation between the "guns everywhere" laws of the mid-00's and the spike in suicide is more than anecdotal. Those states passing "open carry" laws in the last decade have seen some of the biggest spikes in suicide; those states which have passed confiscation laws (so-called "dangerous person" laws) have seen the smallest increases in suicide.

As I've noted here for over a decade, I think the biggest move towards prevention (which has to include gun restrictions, like it or not) is decreasing social isolation and bringing the behavior out of the shadows. Durkheim nailed this more than a hundred years ago: more anomie = more suicide, less anomie = less suicide. And the stigma surrounding suicide, as Goffman noted more than 50 years ago, is one of the biggest reasons why we don't do anything about it.

We simply don't talk about suicide, scrubbing it from obituaries, denying the grieving family members and friends a chance to express their devastation. And when celebrity suicides occur, such as Bourdain and Spade, people worry that "contagion" might sweep through us and lead to an increase in suicides because of it.

I've debunked contagion theory time and again on this blog and will continue to do so. Yes, there are often "upticks" in suicide when celebrity deaths occur (see also: Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, etc.). But these aren't "causes" for the person who is already suffering from suicidal ideation, simply a road a map (via copycatting behavior). The idea that talking about suicide is going to lead to more suicide is like saying talking about cancer is going to lead to more cancer. It's silly and absurd.

The point is: we must talk about suicide. We must bring it out of the shadows and acknowledge the myriad of causes behind it. We must let those know who are suffering from suicidal ideation that there is help, there are people who are here who care, and that it's perfectly ok to talk about it. We must not be fearful that talking about it will somehow make it increase, but at the same time, don't put all the onus on the suicidal individual. Posting the suicide hotline (as I do below) is great, but it's us who must reach out to them as well.

We should, ironically, use social media, the very tool of social isolation, to spread the word and use it for something positive for a change, rather than your next self-absorbed selfie that no one really gives a shit about anyway.

Suicide is a stealth plague right now in our society. It is not an individual problem, or individual weakness. These are not moral failings in people or even crises in mental health.

This is a fucking public health epidemic, along the lines of infectious diseases, airborne allergens, drug addiction, smoking, etc. If the flu or Ebola or (fill in the blank) were killing 45,000 people a year, we'd have the national guard mobilized and billions in federal and state resources flowing to contain the problem.

Suicide is no different. And until we start treating it like a public health epidemic (hint: it's the CDC that is leading the charge) and mobilize the resources necessary to combat it, then 45,000+  men, women and children will continue to die annually, and it will only continue to increase.

[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at]

UPDATE: This morning's edition has a bit more information, including some really boneheaded comments from people in my field. To wit:
Some experts fear that suicide is simply becoming more acceptable. “It’s a hard idea to test, but it’s possible that a cultural script may be developing among some segments of our population,” said Julie Phillips, a sociologist at Rutgers.
Prohibitions are apparently loosening in some quarters, she said. Particularly among younger people, Dr. Phillips said, “We are seeing somewhat more tolerant attitudes toward suicide.”
In surveys, younger respondents are more likely than older ones “to believe we have the right to die under certain circumstances, like incurable disease, bankruptcy, or being tired of living,” she said.
What an irresponsible and moronic comment. There is no data suggesting such a thing as it relates to suicide, other than anecdotal evidence indicating that young people have ALWAYS been more comfortable with mortality than older people. That's nothing new, duh. Death is a foreign concept when you're young, even attractive and bright and shiny at times. It's only something that happens to older or other people. But it certainly doesn't suggest that the iGen coming along is going to be "down with" suicide or whatever Phillips is suggesting.

Plus, idiocy like this gives cover to the knuckle-dragging Social Darwinists out there who think suicide is a way to "thin the herd" and get rid of the "weakest" individuals.

I prefer instead these comments from Dr. Thomas Insel.
“In contrast to homicide and traffic safety and other public health issues, there’s no one accountable, no one whose job it is to prevent these deaths — no one who gets fired if these numbers go from 45,000 to 50,000,” Dr. Insel said.
“It’s shameful. We would never tolerate that in other areas of public health and medicine.”
Precisely. Rather than asserting the idiotic view that people are simply becoming more comfortable with suicide (which is like saying, "no man, people are down with Ebola, it's cool"), Insel drives home the point I've been making in this post and on this blog forever. 

It is a national shame. 

UPDATE II: Former White House aide, and counsel to G. W. Bush, Karl Rove has penned one of the more eloquent meditations on suicide (the death of his mother) that I've ever read. You should definitely read this

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Video Games and School Shootings

Active Shooter Game Is Pulled After Outcry:

The online game unfolds from the point of view of an attacker, aiming a weapon down a school corridor or throwing a grenade into an auditorium. The character creeps around corners and up staircases. Bullets spray, blood spatters. SWAT team members are shot dead. Civilians are splayed out on the floor.
The game, Active Shooter, was scheduled to be released on June 6. But it ran into controversy after several recent school shootings, including massacres at high schools in Santa Fe, Tex., and Parkland, Fla.
Parents of victims of the Parkland shooting amplified the opposition to the game, calling for boycotts and seeking to block its release.
Good. Let the market forces determine, ultimately, whether it should be sold, but the best way to affect said market forces are protests, petitions, and public outcry.
Active Shooter was developed by Acid Publishing Group, which has an online page in English and Russian. The developer was planning to sell the game for $5 to $10 on Steam, a publishing marketplace run by Valve Corporation of Bellevue, Wash.
But on Tuesday evening, after facing online calls for a boycott, Valve said in a statement that it would not carry any games by Acid, the company behind Active Shooter, and that it had removed other games that Acid had published on the Steam platform.
Discussion about violent video games and their impact on young people’s behavior was renewed after the Parkland shooting, which the police said was carried out by a former student, Nikolas Cruz, armed with a semiautomatic rifle.
A neighbor said Mr. Cruz spent long hours playing video games. President Trump said after the shooting that he was “hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” Researchers have rejected such claims many times as the number of mass shootings has increased over the past two decades.
An online petition to stop the release of the game had gathered more than 100,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
Again, this is good, but the issues about causation shouldn't be conflated here. Yes, this Cruz idiot spent hours and hours gaming, as do most school shooters. But guess what? So do millions and millions of other people who never would pick up an actual gun and head to a school.

The point being: correlation does not equal causation. And frankly, as lurid and disgusting as these kinds of games are, they do fall under the First Amendment in terms of creating and marketing said games. 

Which is why I said, the best way to get rid of them is to change the market forces and convince people not to buy this kind of garbage. 

And it really is garbage when you read the comments of the people who create and market this shit:
Acid’s developer, Revived Games, did not reply to requests for comment earlier on Tuesday. Acid said in a blog post last week that the game “does not promote any sort of violence, especially any [sort] of a mass shooting.”
"Originally when this game started its course of the development, I have planned [sic] on having SWAT only based game-play [sic]. Then I thought about adding more gameplay to it by adding additional roles: of the shooter and the civilian. While I can see people's anger and why this might be a bad idea for the game, I still feel like this topic should be left alone. As I mentioned on steam discussion forums [sic], there are games like Hatred, Postal, Carmageddon and etc., which are even worst [sic] compared to "Active Shooter" and literally focuses [sic] on mass shootings/killings of people.
"I have wrote [sic] to Valve regarding this game and waiting for the reply [sic]. After receiving such high amount of critics and hate [sic], I will more likely remove the shooters [sic] role in this game by the release, unless if it can [sic] be kept as it is right now." 
I mean, this dude is sub-literate, if that, as are most of these video game developers and marketers when they get into trouble. It's like an extension of the bro-culture, where you have these dopes in their 30's and 40's (or older) in a suspended state of adolescence, still living in mom's basement, stunned that there's actually a world outside. "Be you, bruh. I'm just gamin' and livin' the dream."

Whatever. Again, does bro have the right to make this stuff and even market it? As sick as it is, sure. But at the end of the day, it's the market, i.e. the culture, that has to change this. If we weren't such a violence and gun-addicted society to begin with, these games wouldn't sell the millions copies that they do. Change the culture and this shit disappears. As it should.

Get Off My Lawn!

Police Need Warrants for Driveway Searches:

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that police officers must generally have warrants to enter a home’s driveway in search of stolen vehicles.

The question for the justices was whether the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches, allowed this one.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the search was proper under “the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.”
The exception, the United States Supreme Court has said, is based on the “ready mobility” of vehicles and “the pervasive regulation of vehicles capable of traveling on the public highways.”
On the other hand, the court has said, “when it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals.” The amendment’s protections, the court had ruled, extend to a home’s “curtilage,” meaning the areas immediately surrounding it, including driveways.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for an eight-justice majority, said the case involved a clash of those two principles.
“The question before the court,” she wrote, “is whether the automobile exception justifies the invasion of the curtilage. The answer is no.”
“To allow an officer to rely on the automobile exception to gain entry into a house or its curtilage for the purpose of conducting a vehicle search,” Justice Sotomayor wrote, “would unmoor the exception from its justifications, render hollow the core Fourth Amendment protection the Constitution extends to the house and its curtilage, and transform what was meant to be an exception into a tool with far broader application.”
“Indeed, its name alone should make all this clear enough,” she wrote. “It is, after all, an exception for automobiles.”
It's interesting, frankly, that this was even an issue. Curtilage has always applied to property surrounding a home, including attached garages, free-standing storage sheds, tree houses, pretty much any area, paved or unpaved, that is considered the property of said home/dwelling. 

So a car parked in your driveway is not "ready mobility" in that sense. If you had driven the car into your driveway while being chased, sure, ready mobility. But a parked car in a driveway is part and parcel of the home/dwelling and would require the same 4th amendment protection (also: for the same reason if someone breaks into your car while it is sitting in your driveway, you file a claim under your homeowner's policy, not auto). 

Almost a unanimous verdict at 8-1, but you knew there had to be at least one.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented, saying the search had been reasonable and thus constitutional. The motorcycle, he wrote, was just a car’s length or two from the curb. “If the motorcycle had been parked at the curb, instead of in the driveway,” he wrote, “it is undisputed that Rhodes could have searched it without obtaining a warrant.”
So? See also: "ready mobility."
In his dissent in the case, Collins v. Virginia, No. 16-1027, Justice Alito cited a passage from “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. “An ordinary person of common sense would react to the court’s decision the way Mr. Bumble famously responded when told about a legal rule that did not comport with the reality of everyday life,” Justice Alito wrote. “If that is the law, he exclaimed, ‘the law is a ass — a idiot.’ ”
Well, if anyone would know an ass or an idiot... I mean, they even got Clarence Thomas and Anne Burford's kid to go along with this decision. 

But Alito be Alito.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Experiments In Bone And Flesh (Part Whatever)

States Turn to an Unproven Method of Execution: Nitrogen Gas.

Hamstrung by troubles with lethal injection — gruesomely botched attempts, legal battles and growing difficulty obtaining the drugs — states are looking for alternative ways to carry out the death penalty. High on the list for some is a method that has never been used before: inhaling nitrogen gas.
Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi have authorized nitrogen for executions and are developing protocols to use it, which represents a leap into the unknown. There is no scientific data on executing people with nitrogen, leading some experts to question whether states, in trying to solve old problems, may create new ones.
“If and when states begin carrying out executions with nitrogen, it will amount to the same type of experimentation we see in the different variations of lethal injection,” said Jen Moreno, a lawyer who is an expert on lethal injection at the Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic.
Old Joe Mengele would be proud.
Nebraska and Nevada hope to soon start using the opioid fentanyl as a sedative. Illegal use has made it a scourge of national death statistics, but medically it is an important painkiller and anesthetic. Defense lawyers in Nebraska have argued that fentanyl comes under a federal law that limits its distribution to lifesaving purposes, and that it is therefore illegal for a prison clinic to distribute it for an execution. A trial seeking information about the source of the fentanyl is scheduled for May 14.
Well, since opioids and the synthetic version fentanyl are already killing 65,000 people a year in the U.S., what's a few more death row inmates, right?

But more troubling is the Final Exit-approved method of nitrogen gas.
In March, Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, said that using nitrogen was “the safest, the best and the most effective method available.”
There is scant scientific data to back up that statement. What little is known about human death by nitrogen comes from industrial and medical accidents and its use in suicide. In accidents, when people have been exposed to high levels of nitrogen and little air in an enclosed space, they have died quickly. In some cases co-workers who rushed in to rescue them also collapsed and died.
Er... wonder how hard it will be to get folks to volunteer for the execution team under those circumstances. "The inmate will probably die, but there's a chance you might too." Sure, I'll do it for the extra pay check.

Also, Mike Hunter's goofy comments, which I appropriately ridiculed back in March, are still as goofy today as they were then.
Dr. Charles D. Blanke, who has studied data on physician-assisted dying, said it was not at all clear that nitrogen inhalation would bring a peaceful death. Dr. Blanke, a medical oncologist and professor at Oregon Health and Science University, said he had consulted colleagues in pulmonary medicine and anesthesiology, and they had concerns that carbon dioxide actually could build up and cause feelings of suffocation.
Nitrogen is not used in states where medically assisted dying is legal; those patients, who are terminally ill, usually drink a huge dose of barbiturates.
So in other words, Chuck Blanke doesn't know what would happen either.
Veterinary experts generally do not recommend nitrogen or other inert gases for euthanizing mammals. Responses to the gas vary according to species, and in its 2013 guidelines, the American Veterinary Medical Association said, “Current evidence indicates this method is unacceptable because animals may experience distressing side effects before loss of consciousness.”
Look, at least when we moved from the three drug protocol in lethal injection to the single drug barbiturate push, I mentioned at least the method was Vet-approved. Same way we put down our dogs and cats is good enough for them criminals. 

But you can't even get the Vets to go along with this shit. In fact, the only people you can are the Final Exit assisted suicide nut cases.
The Final Exit Network, a volunteer organization that supports the rights of people with terminal illness or intractable suffering to end their lives, considers nitrogen inhalation a reasonable method, and directs people to information about it. The technique involves putting a plastic bag over one’s head and pumping in nitrogen.
Janis Landis, president of the network, said: “The science behind inert gases is quite well settled. Any inert gas, one can breathe it in, in place of oxygen. You don’t have air hunger. You can keep breathing. You pass out and you die.”
Ms. Landis said, “People opposed to the death penalty, scratching their heads about how this could work, I think they’re mixing up their views about whether this should be done versus whether it can be done.”
Er, no Janis. What they're scratching their heads about is how Nazi-like do we want to get in our zest and zeal to kill other human beings? Obviously, being president of such an organization, we know your thoughts. Beats turkey roasting bags and hose pipes hooked up to helium tanks from Party City, eh?

But it's not just the assisted-suicide ghouls out pushing for nitrogen. So is Big Capitalism.
According to state documents, in May of 2016, an Arizona company sent a sales-pitch letter for nitrogen gas executions to Nebraska corrections officials. Among the standout features of its Euthypoxia Chamber: It “produces calm and sedation followed by inebriation and euphoria;” it “requires no medical expertise;” and it guarantees “the demise of any mammalian life in 4 minutes.”
In passing along the letter to another official, a state corrections department executive hand-wrote: “I’m not intending to respond — just thought it was an odd correspondence.”
LOL. 'Odd' is one word for it. F'ing 'sick' is another.

As I've noted on this blog for more than a decade, the death penalty in 21st century society is an anachronism that is headed for the ash heap of history. As the article notes, out of the handful of countries left that do administer the death penalty, only the U.S. finds itself too squeamish to behead, hang, or shoot people via firing squads (ironic, given our gun fetish). 

So we desperately keep coming up with these increasingly medicalized and sanitized methods to kill that somehow makes us feel better about the whole machinery of death. 

As I wrote back in March, maybe they'll try mass doses of nitrous oxide if pure nitrogen doesn't work or isn't made available. And we can send the condemned to their demise literally laughing their ass off.