Opinion | We May Be Able to Get Kevin Cooper Off Death Row – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The horror began with a nighttime home invasion and the stabbings of a white family, and was compounded when sheriff’s deputies arrested and framed a black man for murder.

That’s my view, and now after 35 years the wheels of justice in California may finally be creaking into motion. I last wrote about the case two months ago, and there’s a hopeful development: Gov. Jerry Brown seems to be moving toward allowing advanced DNA testing that may correct a gross injustice abetted by the police, prosecutors, judges, politicians and journalists.”

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Opinion | An American 13-Year-Old- Pregnant and Married to Her Rapist – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Dawn Tyree was 11 years old when a family friend began to molest her. A bit more than a year later, she became pregnant from these rapes, and her parents found out what had been going on. But they didn’t go to the police; instead, they found another solution.

“It was decided for me that I would marry him,” Tyree recalled.

So Tyree, then 13, was married to her rapist, then age 32. She became one of the thousands of underage American girls who are married each year, often sacrificing their futures to reduce embarrassment to their parents. Statutory rape is thus sanctioned by the state as marriage, and the abuser ends up not in handcuffs but showered with wedding gifts.

Our State Department protests child marriage in Africa and Asia (worldwide, a girl 14 or younger is married every 11 seconds, according to Save the Children), but every state in America allowed child marriages. That has finally changed. Last month Delaware became the first state to ban all child marriages, without exception.”

Opinion | Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder? – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Soon sheriff’s deputies were swarming all over the Ryen house in affluent, suburban Chino Hills, east of Los Angeles, that day in June 1983. Several signs, including Josh’s personal account, pointed to three white attackers, and blond or brown hairs were found in the victims’ hands, as if torn off in a struggle.

Sheriff’s deputies were also contacted by the woman whose boyfriend was a convicted murderer, recently released from prison, whom she suspected of involvement in the Ryen killings. She not only gave deputies his bloody coveralls but also told them that his hatchet was missing from his tool rack and resembled one of the weapons reportedly used in the attacks.

But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper’s defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs  that were found in the victims’ hands.”

 

David Lindsay:

Thank you Nicholas Kristof. I just sent an email to Governor of CA Jerry Brown, using the link at the end of this hair-raising story.
“Kevin Cooper apparently needs you to authorize advanced DNA testing.
The only reason I can imagine your refusing, is if you are part of the frame up that has been described in the NYT.

“But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper’s defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs that were found in the victims’ hands.

This is the story of a broken justice system. It appears that an innocent man was framed by sheriff’s deputies and is on death row in part because of dishonest cops, sensational media coverage and flawed political leaders — including Democrats like Brown and Kamala Harris, the state attorney general before becoming a U.S. senator, who refused to allow newly available DNA testing for a black man convicted of hacking to death a beautiful white family and young neighbor. This was a failure at every level, and it should prompt reflection not just about one man on death row but also about profound inequities in our entire system of justice.”

Really, is this what you want to be remembered for?
David Lindsay Jr, Hamden CT

Furthermore, Learning that Kamala Harris participated in this lynching is a disappointing surprise.

Opinion | How to Win an Argument About Guns – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Tragically, predictably, infuriatingly, we’re again mourning a shooting — this time at YouTube’s headquarters — even as the drive for gun safety legislation has stalled in Washington. Polls show that nine out of 10 Americans favor basic steps like universal background checks before gun purchases, but the exceptions are the president and a majority in Congress.

Usually pundits toss out their own best arguments while ignoring the other side’s, but today I’m going to try something new and engage directly with the arguments made by gun advocates:You liberals are in a panic over guns, but look at the numbers. Any one gun is less likely to kill a person than any one vehicle. But we’re not traumatized by cars, and we don’t try to ban them.It’s true that any particular car is more likely to be involved in a fatality than any particular gun. But cars are actually a perfect example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. We don’t ban cars, but we do work hard to take a dangerous product and regulate it to limit the damage.

We do that through seatbelts and airbags, through speed limits and highway barriers, through driver’s licenses and insurance requirements, through crackdowns on drunken driving and texting while driving. I once calculated that since 1921, we had reduced the auto fatality rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent.”

Trump’s Threat to Democracy – by Nicholas Kristof- NYT

“Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.“A politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors at Harvard, write in their important new book, “How Democracies Die,” which will be released next week.

“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.” ”

Yes. Here is the top comment I endorse:
Mike Roddy is a trusted commenter Alameda, Ca 2 hours ago
I spent a couple of years in Venezuela early in Chavez, reign, and saw the country’s decline up close. Included was utter corruption, even by South American standards, and a President who reflexively lied to the public during eight hour speeches on TV every Sunday.

The Venezuelans laughed at him and shrugged their shoulders, knowing that the elections were rigged and they were helpless. American left wingers didn’t do their homework, and somehow believed his schtick.

The lesson here is that we cannot underestimate the president, for many reasons.

1. Trump won’t decide to follow democratic norms, since he comes from a real estate background that included bribery, partnerships with criminals, and refusals to honor contracts.
2. Strengthening democratic norms is wise, but our attacks on the President must be blunt and relentless. This is not just another blowhard, but rather a dangerous, and murderous, potential dictator.
3. How can someone be expected to obey democratic norms when he doesn’t even know the words to the national anthem?
4. This is the most important: The oligarchs who back Trump- Mercer, Adelson, Koch, and the entire fossil fuel industry- also don’t care about democracy. They are waist deep in global bribery and environmental carnage. The press has been negligent in rarely making those connections. Many of Trump’s staffing decisions were dictated by them.

Your turn, New York Times. You’ve been OK so far (apart from ignoring #4), but without you we lose.

215 Recommended

Robert Mueller in the Cross Hairs – by NIcholas Kristof – NYT

“We may shortly be facing a national crisis. President Trump’s base is egging him on to undertake his own “Saturday Night Massacre” and fire Robert Mueller for committing … for committing … uh, well, for working too hard as a prosecutor.

On Fox News, the host Jeanine Pirro proposed firing Mueller, blaming the Democrats, and imprisoning Hillary Clinton. Speaking of the Mueller investigation, Pirro said, “It’s time to shut it down, turn the tables, and lock her up.”Wow. I’ve reported from tin-pot countries where public figures talk blithely of shutting down prosecutors and imprisoning rivals. I never thought I’d live in one.

Lou Dobbs of Fox Business Network denounced Mueller’s “gross overreach,” and the pro-Trump site Gateway Pundit excoriated “deep state crooked cop Robert Mueller.” Across the right wing, ideological snipers are taking potshots at Mueller, and even The Wall Street Journal has suggested in an editorial that Mueller resign.

All this amounts to a perilous pirouette. After all, Mueller was last known to be a registered Republican and was appointed F.B.I. director by a Republican president, George W. Bush. Newt Gingrich reflected the G.O.P. consensus when he wrote in a May tweet: “Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity.”

Good Grief. What are we coming to?

‘Drug Dealers in Lab Coats’ – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“For decades, America has waged an ineffective war on drug pushers and drug lords, from Bronx street corners to Medellin, Colombia, regarding them as among the most contemptible specimens of humanity.One reason our efforts have failed is we ignored the biggest drug pushers of all: American pharmaceutical companies.

Our policy was: You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you’re a thug who deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you’re a marketing genius who deserves a huge bonus.

Big Pharma should be writhing in embarrassment this week after The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” reported that pharmaceutical lobbyists had manipulated Congress to hamstring the Drug Enforcement Administration. But the abuse goes far beyond that: The industry systematically manipulated the entire country for 25 years, and its executives are responsible for many of the 64,000 deaths of Americans last year from drugs — more than the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.

The opioid crisis unfolded because greedy people — Latin drug lords and American pharma executives alike — lost their humanity when they saw the astounding profits that could be made.”

Yes, thank you. Here is the leading comment, I support:

Meredith New York 16 hours ago

Kristof is blunt and true, but leaves out campaign donors.

It’s not only ‘greed’. Like our huge gun death rate isn’t only about rage or ‘mental illness’. It’s the opportunities our society offers to act out greed & sociopathy. Our election funding system supporting this.

In our political system, there are no limits to ‘monetization’.

Big pharma, like big gun makers are some of our biggest election sponsors, as we see the thousands of deaths pile up. With phony slogans of ‘freedom, and private profits unhindered by big govt’, we legitimize the world’s most profitable, exploitive industries in health, guns and elections.

Other capitalist democracies don’t prescribe paint killers at the US rate, have health care and medicine at lower cost. They limit gun possession.
They don’t turn over their elections to the biggest corporate megadonors,

See NYT past op ed by Richard Painter, chief WH ethics lawyer “The N.R.A. Protection Racket”. The racket applies to drugs, h/c and every issue, If politicians don’t play ball, their donors threaten to run somebody against them in a primary who will. Candidates know the rules.

Al Gore on CNN Zakaria show “ Our democracy has been hacked by big money long before Putin hacked our democracy.”

Do US voters know that Europe bans the drug ads direct to consumers that swamp our media, and bans privately paid campaign ads and also guns for all?

We need columns with contrasting positive examples along with moral outrage.

Reply 272 Recommended

Preventing Mass Shootings Like the Vegas Strip Attack – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“After the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, the impulse of politicians will be to lower flags, offer moments of silence, and lead a national mourning. Yet what we need most of all isn’t mourning, but action to lower the toll of guns in America.

We don’t need to simply acquiesce to this kind of slaughter. When Australia suffered a mass shooting in 1996, the country united behind tougher laws on firearms. As a result, the gun homicide rate was almost halved, and the gun suicide rate dropped by half, according to the Journal of Public Health Policy.

Skeptics will say that there are no magic wands and that laws can’t make the carnage go away. To some extent, they’re right. Some criminals will always be able to obtain guns, especially in a country like America that is awash with 300 million firearms. We are always likely to have higher gun death rates than Europe.But the scale is staggering. Since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (including suicides, murders and accidents) than the sum total of all the Americans who died in all the wars in American history, back to the American Revolution. Every day, some 92 Americans die from guns, and American kids are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries, according to David Hemenway of Harvard.”

David Lindsay:  Yes, and we need to ban sales of assault weapons and high capacity magazines to civilians.
Here is a comment I endorsed.
Charlie Smithson Cincinnati, OH 4 hours ago

What I don’t want to hear is the GOP say that “Now isn’t the time to talk about gun control, now is the time to respect the victims.”

If we don’t talk about some sensible gun control, now, after this horrible tragedy, then when will we? Gun violence and death are clearly an area where America can celebrate its exceptionalism. We are amazing at it and we just keep getting better at the violence and killing.

As someone who attends many musical performances a year I can’t even imagine something like this. It is a horrible, traumatic, tragedy.

The continued allegiance to the NRA by our GOP politicians is criminal and enabling.

Reply 752 Recommended

‘Enough Already’ Said God – by  Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The famous televangelist Jim Bakker, who is preaching again on television after a rape accusation and a prison term for financial fraud, recently warned that Christians would start an armed insurrection if President Trump were impeached. “If it happens, there will be civil war in the United States of America,” Bakker told his television audience. “The Christians will finally come out of the shadows, because we are going to be shut up permanently if we’re not careful.”

Afterward, I received the following transcript of a conversation between Bakker and, er, God. It comes from a divine source.

Bakker: “Dear God, thank you for blessing me with wisdom, courage, virtue and rugged good looks. Plus humility. Please help me raise up an army to smite the infidels trying to impeach President Trump. …”God: “Oh, enough already!”

Bakker, trying to dive under the bed: “Who’s there? And oh, no! Fire! Fire! There’s a fire on my bed!”

God: “It’s a burning bush.”Bakker: “Who said that? Fire! Fire! Help!”

God: “Don’t be such a wimp: This is a smokeless burning bush. It won’t even singe your linens. So listen up. This is God. . . . ”

Here are the top two comments, I completely endorse.
Aryae Coopersmith Half Moon Bay, California 1 day ago

Thank you Nick Kristof for giving us a few laughs while pointing out the elephant in the room!

To keep it very simple — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share three key values: love God, love your neighbor, love the stranger. The rest, as they say, is commentary.

623Recommended

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 1 day ago

“God: “I’m nonpartisan. I just don’t like being used. I was mortified when four out of five white evangelical Christians voted for a thrice-married liar who bragged about sexual assault — and then cited me as the reason for their votes.”

Great column, Nicholas! If anyone can call out hypocrisy, it’s God, er, and, His son.

That Trump got the support of evangelicals was definitely some sort of miracle. One that tells us more about the real morality of preachers who make their livings not so much selling God as themselves.

In a certain way, I see the connection now–at least on the hypocrisy and selling of self. It takes one to know one–Bakker and company might be selling paradise but he and his peers want a down payment first in the form of credit card donations to the show.

So what else do Trump and televangelists have in common, when not pushing the Bible or violating the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount? Or failing to offer strangers a proper welcome?

Perhaps it’s the love of large fancy mansions here on earth, over living the kind of values that might ensure them a room in God’s mansion up above.

617Recommended

Google and Sex Traffickers Like Backpage.com – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Sex traffickers in America have the police and prosecutors pursuing them, but they do have one crucial (if secret) ally: Google.Google’s motto has long been “Don’t be evil,” and I admire lots about the company. But organizations it funds have for years been quietly helping Backpage.com, the odious website where most American victims of human trafficking are sold, to battle lawsuits from children sold there for sex.

Now Google is using its enormous lobbying power in Washington to try to kill bipartisan legislation that would crack down on websites that promote sex trafficking.”