Imagining a Rikers Island With No Jail – The New York Times

“Any serious effort to repair criminal justice in New York City must do something about Rikers Island, the jail complex in the East River where justice goes to die, or at least be severely beaten.The City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, acknowledged this in her State of the City address this month, when she announced that the state’s former chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, would lead a commission to comprehensively examine the city’s criminal justice system. Its mission will be to reduce the jail population, now at about 10,000, enough to make it possible to consider shutting Rikers down for good.”

Source: Imagining a Rikers Island With No Jail – The New York Times

Maybe Rikers should be closed, because of the transportation problem, or the reduction of inmates in the system. But the problems of brutality and corruption in the system still need to be addressed. In a better world, we would ban prison guard and police unions. People with so much power over prisoners and the public should not be able to hide bad behavior behind curtains of union protection, which is a disgrace to unionism and the nation. And, the National Guard or the military should take over Riker’s Island immediately, with all the guards there eventually fired, laid off or prosecuted, after an intense study of who the real bullies and torturers wearing a uniform are. Union leaders who protected criminal behavior should also be prosecuted.

Cranks on Top – By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

“But what I do know is that one shouldn’t treat establishment support as an indication that Mr. Rubio is moderate and sensible. On the contrary, not long ago someone holding his policy views would have been considered a fringe crank.”

Source: Cranks on Top – The New York Times

I think Rubio is more dangerous than Trump, more of a water carrying ultra rightist with fascist tendencies. Of course, that might describe Cruze also. Why do I think Trump will be easier for the Democrats to beat than Rubio? Rubio is an articulate puppet, and he will say what ever his script writers give him. He will appear to move to the center, and say things that make more sense. Trump might be a jerk, but he is a genuine jerk. My instincts are that he will be the easier of the two for the Democrats to beat. The Republican elites, represented by Rubio more than Trump, pose a serious threat to the United States. It is climate change, caused by overpopulation, that is probably the greatest threat to U.S. security, and our democracy, followed by income inequality and the undoing of campaign finance reform by such court cases as Citizen’s United.

Slave Labor on the High Seas – The New York Times

“Shocking revelations about the international fishing industry’s reliance on slave labor have caused many people to question the origin of the shrimp or tuna they eat. The disclosures have also led the United States to take some important new steps to clamp down on the use of indentured workers and discourage other unlawful activities on the high seas.President Obama is expected to sign legislation that effectively bans American imports of fish caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia. The bill, passed by Congress this month, would close a loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930 that prohibits imports made by convicts or forced labor but exempts such goods if American domestic production could not meet demand. Now that is expected to end. The president recently signed an agreement allowing officials to deny port services to foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing.”

Source: Slave Labor on the High Seas – The New York Times

This is good news. I look forward to learning how they will enforce such laws, hopefully with inspectors and inspections.

Why Is Mitch McConnell Picking This Fight? – The New York Times

“IN early 2009, as Barack Obama was about to take office, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, assembled his caucus at a retreat in West Virginia. There, he laid out his strategy for taking on the new president, who was sweeping into office on a tide of popularity, historical resonance and great expectations barely diminished by the economic free fall then underway.The key, Mr. McConnell told his fellow Republicans, was to stymie and undermine Mr. Obama, but to do so in subtle ways. As one of the senators present, Robert F. Bennett of Utah, later recalled to me: “Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that. And we wait for the time where the image has been damaged to the point where we can take him on.’ ”Seven years later, with the Republicans now in the Senate majority, the opposition led by Mr. McConnell is as frontal as can be. After word of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death emerged last weekend, it took the majority leader less than an hour to announce that the Senate would not entertain a replacement before November. “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he said.Mr. McConnell’s blunt declaration was taken as the starkest exhibition yet of the obstructionism that has characterized the Kentucky senator’s stance toward President Obama and congressional Democrats. The resistance from Mr. McConnell has had an enormous influence on the shape of Obama’s presidency. It has limited the president’s accomplishments and denied him the mantle of the postpartisan unifier he sought back in 2008. But it has also brought the Senate, the institution to which Mr. McConnell has devoted his life, close to rupture.His declaration on the Supreme Court also represents a striking shift for the veteran politician. In throwing down the gauntlet so emphatically, and potentially riling up a Democratic electorate, Mr. McConnell was doing something deeply out of character: putting at risk his and his party’s prospects in the coming election.”

The last two paragraphs, not quoted here, are brilliant. McConnell will risk losing the senate, to stop Obama from appointed a supreme court justice who just might upturn Citizens United, which is what keeps the Republicans able to win.

Source: Why Is Mitch McConnell Picking This Fight? – The New York Times

Bernie Sanders Tops His Rivals in Use of Outside Money – By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE,The New York Times

“Mr. Sander’s unlikely rise to super PAC pre-eminence is, in part, the story of an unusual alignment of strategies by different outside groups, including Republican ones eager to bloody Mrs. Clinton and lift Mr. Sanders, whom conservatives believe will be easier to defeat in a general election. While the nurses’ super PAC is the biggest left-leaning outside spender in the Democratic primary, conservative organizations have also spent at least $4.3 million attacking Mrs. Clinton in recent months.One recent online ad from the Republican super PAC American Crossroads has assailed Mrs. Clinton for her Wall Street speaking fees — echoing an argument Mr. Sanders often makes against her. Another conservative group, Ending Spending, bankrolled by the Wyoming billionaire Joe Ricketts, has begun a $600,000 campaign in Iowa highlighting Mr. Sanders’s promises to raise taxes on the rich and provide free public college tuition, calling him “too liberal for Iowa.” But the ad’s language and imagery, including a contented-looking superrich couple hugging in front of a mansion and expensive cars, has led some Democrats to believe it is actually meant to bolster Mr. Sanders.”

Source: Bernie Sanders Tops His Rivals in Use of Outside Money – The New York Times

America’s Stacked Deck Voters are right to be angry and demand change, but scapegoating isn’t the answer.|By Nicholas Kristof

Saint Nick: “It seems to me to make more sense to target solutions than scapegoats, but sense is often in short supply in politics. After a characteristically brilliant speech by Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956, a supporter is said to have bellowed, “Every thinking American will vote for you!”

Legend has it that Stevenson shouted back: “That’s not enough. I need a majority!”

In the solutions domain, a starting point should be to reduce the influence of money in politics.

The pharmaceutical industry, for example, has used its lobbying heft — it spent $272,000 in campaign donations per member of Congress last year, and it has more lobbyists than there are members of Congress — to bar the government from bargaining for drug prices in Medicare. That amounts to a $50 billion annual gift to pharmaceutical companies.”

Voters are right to be angry and demand change, but scapegoating isn’t the answer.|By Nicholas Kristof

Politics: All in My Family – by Charles Blow,The New York Times

I propose that Hillary Clinton was attacked repeatedly and unfairly in the past for her politics and her gender, much the way Barack Obama has been attacked repeatedly and unfairly because of his race and his politics. I was reading the newspapers and news magazines back when Hillary was first pilloried. The stories never came to anything. They always had the fingerprints of right wing ideologues behind the allegations. It is sad to hear Mr. Blow write that just the shear number of smear campaigns suggests that there must have been malpractice on her part. That suggests that the number of insults to President Obama suggest that there must be some truth to all the ridiculous and racists attempts to insult, diminish this great president, and to stop his success even at the cost of hurting the country.

“First, they are unimpressed by the Republican candidates for president, and are even afraid of some. That means that our discussions can be narrowly focused on the Democratic race.They like Bernie Sanders and don’t fully trust Hillary Clinton, though they don’t believe Sanders is electable and would therefore “settle for” Clinton in that case, as my youngest son put it.They view Sanders as the more “authentic” (that word kept coming up) and consistent of the two, and the one with whom they have the most ideological agreement, even though they generally believed that his positions would most likely be impossible to implement.”

Source: Politics: All in My Family – The New York Times

Palau vs. the Poachers The island nation has mounted an aggressive response to illegal fishing in their waters. How they protect themselves may help the rest of the world save all of the oceans.|By Ian Urbina

“The oceans belong to everyone and no one, and the general perception is that they are too big to need protection. We also tend to think of fish as an ever-regenerating crop, there forever for our taking. But roughly 90 percent of the world’s ocean stocks are depleted or overexploited; one study predicts that by 2050, the sea could contain more plastic waste than fish. Though most governments have neither the inclination nor the resources to patrol the oceans, Palau is trying a different approach, and whether it succeeds or fails may have consequences for the entire planet.”

The island nation has mounted an aggressive response to illegal fishing in their waters. How they protect themselves may help the rest of the world save all of the oceans.|By Ian Urbina

Let Ohio Vote First – The New York Times

“The main problem with Iowa and New Hampshire is a demographic one. Put simply, they are too white. Both states’ populations are roughly 90 percent white, while the United States population as a whole is 62 percent white. The United States is projected to become a minority-white country in roughly 30 years. This is where Ohio comes in.”

One commenter mentioned Missouri to replace New Hampshire.

Source: Let Ohio Vote First – The New York Times