Criticism is part of the lifeblood of democracy. No one is right all the time. But we should remember that there is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.
We are again dealing with difficulties in a contentious, partisan time. We are more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.
Civic virtue can include harsh criticism, protest, even civil disobedience. But not violence or its advocacy. That is the bright line that protects our freedom. It has held for a long time, since President George Washington called out 13,000 troops in response to the Whiskey Rebellion.
Fifteen years ago, the line was crossed in Oklahoma City. In the current climate, with so many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants, we owe it to the victims of Oklahoma City, and those who survived and responded so bravely, not to cross it again.
via Op-Ed Contributor – Violence Is Unacceptable in a Democracy – NYTimes.com.
Step 1 – Predict future behavior . . .
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SPSS, an IBM (NYSE: IBM – News) Company, today announced that the Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice selected IBM predictive analytics software to reduce recidivism by determining which juveniles are likely to reoffend. Identified at-risk youth can then be placed in programs specific to the best course of treatment to ensure offenders do not re-enter the juvenile justice system.
More than 85,000 youth enter the juvenile justice system in Florida each year for varying degrees of offenses – from drug abuse to robbery or property crimes. As each youth enters the system for a different reason and with varying backgrounds, the best program for positive rehabilitation is very specific – what may work for one juvenile may not work for another.
Mark Greenwald, chief of research and planning at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said, “The State of Florida believes that if youth are rehabilitated with effective prevention, intervention and treatment services early in life, juveniles will not enter the adult corrections system. Our goal is to ensure juveniles do not return to the system. IBM SPSS predictive analytics will allow our organization to refine our current practice and better intervene in juvenile lives earlier to help them become — and stay — law abiding citizens.”
The organization selected IBM predictive analytics to improve its existing screening and placement process. With the new analytics system in place, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will analyze key predictors such as past offense history, home life environment, gang affiliation and peer associations to better understand and predict which youths have a higher likelihood to reoffend.
via Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to Reduce Rate of Re-offenders with IBM Predictive Analytics – Yahoo! Finance.
Several states have embraced ‘justice reinvestment’ as a way of reducing prison populations. But it still causes jitters among many legislators.
With most American prison cells full and state budgets hurting, “justice reinvestment” seems like an attractive concept. Why not spend taxpayer dollars on rehabilitation programs that may break the cycle of re-imprisonment instead of on expensive housing for criminals behind bars?
Indeed, the reinvestment idea has made good headway. A dozen states have adopted or at least are seriously considering its principles. A bill is making its way through Congress that would provide more federal funding to test it in other states.
The idea started in 2003 in Connecticut, where state leaders were disturbed about being asked to spend increasing sums on prison building and maintenance while many released inmates committed new crimes. “They wanted to know what taxpayers were paying and what they were getting for it,” says Marshall Clement of the Council of State Governments CSG Justice Center, which provides states with advice on governance and has been a leader in promoting the justice reinvestment concept.
via The Crime Report » Archive » Is There a Better Way to Spend Anti-Crime $$$?.
Massey Energy is actively contesting millions of dollars of fines for safety violations at its West Virginia coal mine where disaster struck yesterday afternoon. Twenty-five miners were killed and another four are missing after a explosion took place at 3 pm Monday at Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co.’s Upper Big Branch Mine-South between the towns of Montcoal and Naoma. It is “the most people killed in a U.S. mine since 1984, when 27 died in a fire at Emery Mining Corp.’s mine in Orangeville, Utah.” This deadly mine has been cited for over 3,000 violations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration MSHA, 638 since 2009:
via Think Progress » Deadly Record: Massey’s Mine In Montcoal Has Been Cited For Over 3,000 Violations, Over $2.2 Million In Fines.
The Massey Energy coal mine explosion yesterday was tragic, killing 25 people, more than any accident since decades. Sadly, it was also all too predictable. The disaster appears to be the consequence of a failed ventilation system allowing high levels of methane to accumulate. Federal investigators have fined Massey hundreds of thousands of dollars because of improper ventilation systems, and inadequate firefighting equipment. In 2006, a similar violation resulted in a fire that killed two miners.
Even aside from its abysmal safety record, Massey, and its leader, Don Blankenship, are almost cartoonishly villainous in the way they approach everything from the environment to union rights to media scrutiny. They've pioneered mountain top removal mining, a particularly destructive form of mining that dirties local water supplies, ruins animal habitats, and damages the foundations of nearby houses, all while eliminating much of the Appalachians. Massey refuses to hire union workers, and thus denies its workers an advocacy group that could press for, among other things, safer ventilation systems. And Blankenship himself has been downright thuggish to critics and reporters, grabbing an ABC news camera and saying the cameraman was “liable to get shot” if he kept taking pictures.
If you think this makes Massey unpopular among residents of West Virginia, where it does most of its mining, you'd be right. West Virginians overwhelmingly oppose mountaintop removal mining, and some politicians, like Sen. Robert Byrd and Rep. Nick Rahall, openly criticize Massey. But the effects are limited, as Blankenship has more or less purchased the state's government. He's certainly bought the state Supreme Court, spending millions to unseat a justice who had ruled in favor of mine workers.
via Ezra Klein – Coal, corruption and campaign finance reform.
The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.”
We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”
The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.
via Is America ‘Yearning For Fascism?’ | CommonDreams.org.