You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania II

Comments are not needed for this one:

A Pennsylvania woman died in a jail cell over the weekend while serving a 48-hour sentence for her children’s unpaid school fines. Eileen DiNino was found dead on Saturday in a Berks County jail cell where she was midway through the sentence that would have eliminated around $2,000 in fines and related court fees related to her children’s attendance at school. Police have said her death is not considered suspicious, but the cause has yet to be determined. She was 55 years old and a mother to seven children.

“This lady didn’t need to be there,” District Judge Dean Patton — who said he was “reluctant” to sentence DiNino — told the Associated Press. “We don’t do debtors prisons anymore. That went out 100 years ago.” More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone — the majority of them women — because of similar fines.

You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania

Right. How could I have ever believed otherwise?

Well, a new study shows Pennsylvania ranking fifth among the various states when they were evaluated for amount of corruption among its public officials. Even New York, which has that ethical black hole commonly known as New York City, scored better.

Sad.

An inverted ‘night of the long knives’ begins?

The New York Times reports:

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, will resign as majority leader within weeks, according to leadership aides, setting off a scramble to remake the party’s upper ranks.

The move follows a stunning defeat in a primary election on Tuesday in which voters rejected him in favor of a more conservative candidate, and culminates a precipitous fall for Mr. Cantor, who was thought to be a likely successor to Speaker John A. Boehner.

By stepping down as majority leader, an aide to Mr. Cantor said, he hoped to limit a festering struggle within the House Republican caucus over who would assume his post.

Hmmm, Cantor wants to limit a power struggle in the GOP caucus by throwing red meat into the fiery pit! Good idea!

Straight talk on Elliot Rodger

A rightly exasperated Ruth Fowler exclaims:

Let’s cut the crap. Killers are not usually attracted to nonviolent philosophies, peaceful ideologies and challenging systemic oppression. Quit fucking acting like it’s a surprise Elliot Rodger was a misogynistic, racist, sex starved, white male privileged fuck either formed by, or attracted to, the kinds of ideologies expressed in his disgusting manifesto.

It’s of absolutely zero surprise to me that Elliot Rodger’s blog, vlog, manifesto and everything in between reveal a singularly unpleasant screwed up hateful little fuck that embodied everything that could possibly be wrong with society today. The dude murdered a bunch of people. What were we expecting? That he adopted stray cats and rehoused them? That he had Hello Kitty bedsheets and sponsored a Nepali girl through Christian Aid? Cried at ‘The Bachelor’? Fuck’s sake, people. Intersectionality — there, I said it! But don’t dismiss it for a headline, folks. Elliot Rodger hated women because he had never had sex. He despised people of color. He played World of Warcraft and had no friends. Society rejected him — or he rejected society. He jerked off a lot. He was a virgin. His parents had paid for him to have social skills counsellors. He had a shrink who had expressed concern about his behavior more than once. He had a stepmom — Soumaya — who has a reputation for being a kind, loving, gentle woman with a ferocious talent for acting, a woman who loved her only biological son and was deeply concerned about her weird stepson. He planned to kill both his stepmom and her son on his rampage. His family called the cops on him (who does that?! I read online somewhere. People who think their kid is a killer and have no other fucking option, moron, I thought in response). But let’s not forget — the insane can make any ideology fit their madness.

The urgency to krank out an important Op Ed — an essential opinion, a lesson to take home, something to digest about our society — is nonetheless pervasive.

I recall watching a newscast during which the ridiculous anchorman told his audience that the man who recently committed an axe murder in the city was a “bad person.” I suppose the anchorman did not want anyone to lack clarity on this matter — that is, his finding an axe killer reprehensible.

Climate science on cable news

The Union of Concerned Scientists took a look at the quality of cable news coverage of climate science and climate change. The results:

 

Amazon attacks authors, readers and publishers

The New York Times reports:

Seeking ever-higher payments from publishers to bolster its anemic bottom line, Amazon is holding books and authors hostage on two continents by delaying shipments and raising prices. The literary community is fearful and outraged — and practically begging for government intervention.

“How is this not extortion? You know, the thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it,” asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, echoing remarks being made across social media.

Does Amazon practice extortion? FindLaw defines

…extortion as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force, or threat of 1) violence, 2) property damage, 3) harm to reputation, or 4) unfavorable government action. While usually viewed as a form of theft/larceny, extortion differs from robbery in that the threat in question does not pose an imminent physical danger to the victim.

Extortion is a felony in all states….

Extortion can take place over the telephone, via mail, text, email or other computer or wireless communication. If any method of interstate commerce is used in the extortion, it can be a federal crime.

In this instance, it is extortion as practiced by a coercive monopoly, and likely puts Amazon in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, according to Jan Constantine the General Counsel of the Author’s Guild. Amazon is thus seeking to extort money by using its superior market position as a source of leverage from which to extract monopoly rents from various publishers and to secure that monopoly position.

It is Hachette that most offends Amazon.

So, what mechanism does Amazon use to coerce some of the publishers it distributes? According to CNBC:

The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling’s new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as “unavailable.”

So, we can add censorship to extortion.

Small is beautiful….

Thanks! El Niño

hurricane-prediction-2014

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2014 should prove to have an average number of hurricanes. The key reasons: Cooler water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the emergence of an El Niño weather event, which diminishes the conditions needed to gestate hurricanes at an above average rate.

Of course, only one hurricane is needed to produce another remarkable disaster. That hurricane needs only to pass over a densely populated land mass.

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