Guards Brutally Beat Prisoners and Lied About It. They Weren’t Fired. – The New York Times

Alysia Santo, Joseph Neff and 

This article was published in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system.

“Shattered teeth. Punctured lungs. Broken bones. Over a dozen years, New York State officials have documented the results of attacks by hundreds of prison guards on the people in their custody.

But when the state corrections department has tried to use this evidence to fire guards, it has failed 90 percent of the time, an investigation by The Marshall Project has found.

The review of prison disciplinary records dating to 2010 found more than 290 cases in which the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision tried to fire officers or supervisors it said physically abused prisoners or covered up mistreatment that ranged from group beatings to withholding food. The agency considered these employees a threat to the safety and security of prisons.

Yet officers were ousted in just 28 cases. The state tried to fire one guard for using excessive force in three separate incidents within three years — and failed each time. He remains on the state prisons payroll.”

“. . . .   A key reason the prison system finds it so hard to get rid of guards is the contract the state signed in 1972 with the union. The agreement requires any effort to fire an officer to go through binding arbitration, using an outside arbitrator hired by the union and the state — a system the union has successfully kept in subsequent contracts. Only a court can overturn arbitration decisions.”

Tina Turner: Tornado. Treasure. There Was Nobody Like Her. – The New York Times

“My paperback of “I, Tina” is falling apart. Anytime I open it, a new page goes fluttering out. Last night, it was page 37. Tina Turner’s talking about the songs that grabbed her as a little kid. LaVern Baker’s “Tweedle Dee” got her because it was quick. “I always liked the fast ones,” Turner writes, “liked that energy, even then.”

You can call this thing a memoir — she spoke it, in 1986, to Kurt Loder, who interpolated it as literature. But it’s always read like a recipe book to me. The ingredients include force, power, will, sex, might. Hence the shock at her death. They’re saying she was 83? Nobody’s buying that. The ingredients made her seem immortal. For seven decades of making music, it all sizzled in her. That energy. It shot from her — from her feet, thighs, hands, arms, shoulders, out of her hair, out of her mouth.

Anytime she and a trio of Ikettes would get to jumping forward, bending over and throwing their arms out, then wagging those fingers, hair a-whipping, it wasn’t merely dancing they were doing, it was sorcery. Tina covered a lot of songs. But I’ve never heard her do “I Put a Spell on You.” She didn’t have to. That dance was it. I read that Adrienne Warren, who played Turner on Broadway, needed physical therapy and personal training to survive the part. For the Hollywood movie of Turner’s life, Angela Bassett essentially became all muscle. They both won acting awards. But the prize most fitting is probably a gold medal.

As a professional vocalist, Turner knew her scales. But I’m sure the scales knew her, too — Richter, Kelvin, Decibel, Fujita-Pearson (that one’s weather for “tornado”). If we’re talking about her doing the Acid Queen in “Tommy,” then the scale must be pH. That energy of hers built a wing of rock ’n’ roll where you can hear a body. Other singers — tremendous, foundational, godly singers — could belt. Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thornton, Big Maybelle, Baker, Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. But Tina grew up around Pentecostals. She could scream. Loder makes the astute point that Turner arrived in 1960, near the dawn of amplified sound. They were made for each other.” . . . .

Boyan Slat | To Keep Plastic Out of Oceans, Start With Rivers – The New York Times

Mr. Slat is the founder and chief executive of The Ocean Cleanup.

“The world is finally getting serious about plastic pollution.

Next week, delegates from U.N. member states will gather in Paris to debate the shape of what some hope will become the plastic-pollution equivalent of the Paris Climate Agreement.

There is no time to waste. Plastic is one of the biggest threats our oceans face today, causing untold harm to ecosystems, tremendous economic damage to coastal communities and posing a potential health threat to more than three billion people dependent on seafood.

The U.N. Environment Program has put forward a proposal to keep plastics in circulation as long as possible through reuse and recycling. Some activists and scientists advocate capping and reducing plastic production and use.”

Tina Turner: A Life in Photos – The New York Times

“It is hard to think of a boundary Tina Turner didn’t break.

She annihilated the dichotomy between R&B and rock ’n’ roll. She showed it was possible not only to tell the story of being a wife who endured spousal abuse, but to transcend victimhood and make it into art.

But with that hair (usually wigs, but who cares?), those legs, that growl, and an endless supply of beaded dresses, Ms. Turner, who died on Wednesday at 83, also was a potent style icon and enduring sex symbol — one whose prime did not even really begin until 1984, when, at 44, she released the album “Private Dancer,” and it sold five million copies.

Many of her stage costumes were designed by Bob Mackie, the man who is best known as Cher’s partner in kitsch but with Ms. Turner accomplished something wholly different.

Mr. Mackie and Ms. Turner were introduced by Cher. In 1977, shortly before Tina and Ike Turner’s divorce was finalized, the two divas performed together — in identical, flaming gold dresses by Mr. Mackie — on “The Sonny & Cher Show.” “

Tina Turner, Magnetic Singer of Explosive Power, Is Dead at 83 – The New York Times

Tina Turner, the earthshaking singer whose rasping vocals, sexual magnetism and explosive energy made her an unforgettable live performer and one of the most successful recording artists of all time, died on Wednesday at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, near Zurich. She was 83.

Her publicist Bernard Doherty announced the death in a statement but did not provide the cause. She had a stroke in recent years and was known to be struggling with a kidney disease and other illnesses.

Ms. Turner embarked on her half-century career in the late 1950s, while still attending high school, when she began singing with Ike Turner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm. At first she was only an occasional performer, but she soon became the group’s star attraction — and Mr. Turner’s wife. With her potent, bluesy voice and her frenetic dancing style, she made an instant impression.

Their ensemble, soon renamed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, became one of the premier touring soul acts in Black venues on the so-called chitlin’ circuit. After the Rolling Stones invited the group to open for them, first on a British tour in 1966 and then on an American tour in 1969, white listeners in both countries began paying attention.

Paul Krugman | The Good News on Unemployment for Black Americans – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“In a recent article that stressed America’s impressive recovery from the Covid economic slump, I compared current conditions with those in late 1988, when George H.W. Bush won an electoral landslide in part because of the perception that the economy was in great shape. As I noted, inflation at the time was roughly what it is now, while the unemployment rate was about two points higher.

What I didn’t point out was that unemployment was especially high among disadvantaged groups, especially Black Americans. And one of the relatively unsung bright points of the U.S. economy in recent years has been a reduction in Black unemployment.”

Roger Lowenstein | The Civil War’s Lessons for Avoiding Default – The New York Times

Mr. Lowenstein is the author of “Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War.”

“The looming American debt crisis is politically contrived. The Treasury could borrow all it needed if the Republican majority in the House acted responsibly and raised the debt ceiling.

But the notion that if the House fails to come to agreement the United States faces a default on its debt has been accepted far too casually, partly because Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, has been vague about whether interest payments would be maintained.

In fact, were the government to run short of cash, the Treasury should manage the shortfall by prioritizing interest payments and reducing funding on ordinary budget items such as national parks, the military and education. This would be painful, and possibly extralegal, but it would be the best of bad options. Responsible nations honor their debts.

There is a historical precedent: The Civil War Congress faced a similar choice. President Abraham Lincoln and Republicans in Congress recognized that preserving America’s credit was the key to financing the Civil War, and therefore to the government’s continued health and existence. President Biden and Secretary Yellen should heed their example.”

Lessons From a Renters’ Utopia – The New York Times

“When Eva Schachinger married at 22, she applied for public housing. Luckily, she lived in Vienna, which has some of the best public housing in the world. It was 1968. Eva was a teacher, and her husband, Klaus-Peter, was an accountant for the city’s public-transportation system. She grew up in a public-housing complex in the center of the city, where her grandmother, who cared for her from 6 in the morning until 6 at night, lived in one of five buildings arranged around a courtyard. Eva played all day with friends from the complex.”

David Brooks | Tim Keller’s Message for a Wonder-filled Life – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Tim Keller was a recliner. Whenever a particular group of my friends would get together, discussing some personal, social or philosophical issue over Zoom during the past few years, you could see Tim just chilling and enjoying it, lounging back in his chair. The conversation would flow, and finally somebody would ask: “Tim, what do you think?”

He’d start slow, with that wry, friendly smile. He’d mention a relevant John Bunyan poem, then an observation Kierkegaard had made or a pattern the historian David Bebbington had noticed. Then Tim would synthesize it all into the four crucial points that pierced the clouds of confusion and brought you to a new layer of understanding.

I used to think of it as the Keller Clarity Beam. He didn’t make these points in a didactic or professorial way. It was more like: Hey, you’re thirsty. I happen to have this glass of water. Want a sip?

It was this skill that made Tim Keller, who died on Friday at 72, one of the most important theologians and greatest preachers of our time.”

How Global Rice Farming Is Being Transformed by Climate Change – The New York Times

May 20, 2023

“Rice is in trouble as the Earth heats up, threatening the food and livelihood of billions of people. Sometimes there’s not enough rain when seedlings need water, or too much when the plants need to keep their heads above water. As the sea intrudes, salt ruins the crop. As nights warm, yields go down.

These hazards are forcing the world to find new ways to grow one of its most important crops. Rice farmers are shifting their planting calendars. Plant breeders are working on seeds to withstand high temperatures or salty soils. Hardy heirloom varieties are being resurrected.

And where water is running low, as it is in so many parts of the world, farmers are letting their fields dry out on purpose, a strategy that also reduces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that rises from paddy fields.”

David Lindsay: Excellent piece, and good comments, like this one:

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC   May 20

If we develop a rice for the climate of 2030, how about that of 2040 or 2060 or 2100? The only normal we will see for a while will be continual change as temperature and sea level take their time to equilibrate with CO2 levels not seen for millions of years. The paper linked to below raises an interesting question regarding adaptation to long-term climate change. From the abstract: “Adaptation is the process of adjusting to climate change in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities associated with it. Most adaptation strategies are designed to adjust to a new climate state. However, despite our best efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, climate is likely to continue changing far into the future.” The paper uses the example of sea level rise, recently around 4-5mm per year, to show one example of long-term, continuous change in climate. “Over the next 1000 years, sea-level is projected to rise at an average rate of 3.44 cm yr−1, if all available fossil fuel resources are combusted and the CO2 released to the atmosphere.” Where would we rebuild our coastal cities, naval facilities and sea ports? There’d be no stable shoreline in any time scale of interest to humans. And regarding many other subjects like agriculture and infrastructure, a moving target is difficult to hit. 

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