Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Five Black Teenagers, Innocent, Face a Lifetime of Guilt – The New York Times

“THE news that five young black men were accused of raping a young woman in a Brooklyn park in January captivated the city for weeks. The defendants were tried — and immediately convicted — in the court of public opinion. But as details emerged, it became clear that they were innocent, and the prosecutor dropped all charges. However, the dismissal of charges does not undo the damage to the reputations of the so-called Brownsville Five, teenagers ages 14 to 18, including one who is my client. Because they were tried in adult court, their names were made public and were reported widely in the news media, smearing them for the rest of their lives.The incident should prompt a serious public discussion about the need for both sealing laws to help protect the identities of the accused and reform of New York’s archaic discovery laws, which deprive defense attorneys of the evidence gathered by the police and the prosecutor.

Source: Five Black Teenagers, Innocent, Face a Lifetime of Guilt – The New York Times

Ugly story, interesting comments. And New York. Yuck. “There is something rotten in Denmark.”

To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses – The New York Times

“Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political strategist, did not think she had done anything out of the ordinary: On a cable television show, she criticized Donald J. Trump for skipping a debate in Iowa in late January and described him as a “bad debater.”But then Mr. Trump took to Twitter, repeatedly branding Ms. Jacobus as a disappointed job seeker who had begged to work for his campaign and had been rejected. “We said no and she went hostile,” he wrote. “A real dummy!” Mr. Trump’s campaign manager told the same story on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”Mr. Trump’s Twitter followers, who number about six million, piled on. For days, they replied to his posts with demeaning, often sexually charged insults aimed at Ms. Jacobus, including several with altered, vulgar photographs of her face.”

This is an ugly story of a real bully. The twittersphere lit up with ugly attacks on the woman, twitter bullying. In fact, the article reports that the attack by Trump was a complete lie.

Source: To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses – The New York Times

How America Was Lost Why is the death of a Supreme Court justice bringing America to the edge of constitutional crisis? nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Krugman starts: “Once upon a time, the death of a Supreme Court justice wouldn’t have brought America to the edge of constitutional crisis. But that was a different country, with a very different Republican Party. In today’s America, with today’s G.O.P., the passing of Antonin Scalia has opened the doors to chaos.

In principle, losing a justice should cause at most a mild disturbance in the national scene. After all, the court is supposed to be above politics. So when a vacancy appears, the president should simply nominate, and the Senate approve, someone highly qualified and respected by all.”

Why is the death of a Supreme Court justice bringing America to the edge of constitutional crisis?
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Vindication for Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

“One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead.The Harris County prosecutor, Devon Anderson, a Republican who was asked by the lieutenant governor, a strident opponent of Planned Parenthood, to open the criminal investigation, said on Monday that the grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any misconduct.Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the State Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors.”

Source: Vindication for Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

Indictment Deals Blow to G.O.P. Over Planned Parenthood Battle – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — A grand jury’s indictment on Monday of two abortion opponents who covertly recorded Planned Parenthood officials is the latest, most startling sign that a Republican campaign against the group has run into trouble.In a dozen states including Texas, where the grand jury in Houston examined Planned Parenthood at the request of Republican officials but ended up indicting the opponents, various investigations have concluded without finding any wrongdoing by affiliates of the group. Eight states have declined to investigate since videos began surfacing in June alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses.”

Source: Indictment Deals Blow to G.O.P. Over Planned Parenthood Battle – The New York Times

Strong Unions, Strong Democracy – The New York Times

“IF the questions that came up during oral argument in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association on Monday are any guide, the ruling bloc of conservative justices appears ready to render a decision later this year that would significantly weaken public sector labor unions.By stripping these unions of key financial resources — their fair share of fees provided by nonmembers — the court would upend a longstanding precedent. A decision in favor of the plaintiff would effectively slam the door on an era in which some conservatives joined liberals in recognizing that vibrant unions help make our democracy work. This is radicalism, not conservatism.”

I wish I could see clearly through this swamp of conflicts. To stop moving like a yo yo, I need to bring up ultimate goals. First, we need to make Police and Prison Guard unions illegal, because too often they protect bullies, scoundrels and criminals. Ideally, we would simply dismantle these unions, because they have played a part in crimes against humanity by overprotected police officers and prison guards. If necessary, I would weaken most unions, just to dismantle these two types, because crimes against humanity are not acceptable. These people are our guards and enforcers. Who guards the guards is a critical part of our safety, and should not be up to the guards themselves. The guardians of public safety require external oversight. Their unions are guilty over and over again of protecting their bullies and scoundrels from external oversight.
I might support the new restrictions under debate, because teacher unions are guilty of putting seniority over quality, their comfort over excellence in education. Since they have not acted in the public interest on such core matters, they should be trimmed down till they wake up to the need to take care of their students, as well as themselves.

Source: Strong Unions, Strong Democracy – The New York Times

The Brutalism of Ted Cruz – by David Brooks, New York Times

“In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.”

Source: The Brutalism of Ted Cruz – The New York Times

The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career — and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution. nytimes.com|By Nathaniel Rich

Oh my God!
“The story began in 1951, when DuPont started purchasing PFOA (which the company refers to as C8) from 3M for use in the manufacturing of Teflon. 3M invented PFOA just four years earlier; it was used to keep coatings like Teflon from clumping during production. Though PFOA was not classified by the government as a hazardous substance, 3M sent DuPont recommendations on how to dispose of it. It was to be incinerated or sent to chemical-waste facilities. DuPont’s own instructions specified that it was not to be flushed into surface water or sewers. But over the decades that followed, DuPont pumped hundreds of thousands of pounds of PFOA powder through the outfall pipes of the Parkersburg facility into the Ohio River. The company dumped 7,100 tons of PFOA-laced sludge into ‘‘digestion ponds’’: open, unlined pits on the Washington Works property, from which the chemical could seep straight into the ground. PFOA entered the local water table, which supplied drinking water to the communities of Parkersburg, Vienna, Little Hocking and Lubeck — more than 100,000 people in all.

Bilott learned from the documents that 3M and DuPont had been conducting secret medical studies on PFOA for more than four decades. In 1961, DuPont researchers found that the chemical could increase the size of the liver in rats and rabbits. A year later, they replicated these results in studies with dogs. PFOA’s peculiar chemical structure made it uncannily resistant to degradation. It also bound to plasma proteins in the blood, circulating through each organ in the body. In the 1970s, DuPont discovered that there were high concentrations of PFOA in the blood of factory workers at Washington Works. They did not tell their workers this. In 1981, 3M — which continued to serve as the supplier of PFOA to DuPont and other corporations — found that ingestion of the substance caused birth defects in rats. After 3M shared this information, DuPont tested the children of pregnant employees in their Teflon division. Of seven births, two had eye defects. DuPont did not make this information public.”

Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career — and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution.
nytimes.com|By Nathaniel Rich

Cleveland’s Terrible Stain – The New York Times

“Tamir Rice of Cleveland would be alive today had he been a white 12-year-old playing with a toy gun in just about any middle-class neighborhood in the country on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014.But Tamir, who was shot to death by a white police officer that day, had the misfortune of being black in a poor area of Cleveland, where the police have historically behaved as an occupying force that shoots first and asks questions later. To grow up black and male in such a place is to live a highly circumscribed life, hemmed in by forces that deny your humanity and conspire to kill you.Those forces hovered over the proceedings on Monday when a grand jury declined to indict Officer Timothy Loehmann in the killing and Timothy McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, explained why he had asked the grand jurors to not bring charges. Mr. McGinty described the events leading up to Tamir’s death as tragic series of errors and “miscommunications” that began when a 911 caller said a male who was “probably a juvenile” was waving a “probably fake” gun at people in a park.”

Source: Cleveland’s Terrible Stain – The New York Times

One of the comments I recommended: Bruce Rozenblit is a trusted commenter Kansas City 16 hours ago

“Murder is the act of taking a human life. Under no legal definition of the act does a

….a tragic series of errors and miscommunications…

provide immunity from culpability from the act of murder.

Wearing a badge does not relinquish one from the crime of murder. Neither does poor judgement. The “I was in fear for my life” excuse is often nothing but a cowardly cover up for incompetence or homicide. If the shooter was truly in fear for his life, he wouldn’t have driven right up on top of the boy. He would have used distance to provide a defensive safety factor. No one in his right mind would attempt to gun down an active shooter from a few feet away when he could fire from a much safer distance. The shooter had to have realized that possibility as he approached.

Either the shooter was so incompetent that he did not understand basic principles of police work and put himself in a potentially dangerous situation which caused him to overreact and shoot immediately.

Or, he didn’t care about proper procedure because in his mind he was going after black male killer on the loose and started blasting away because that is the only way you handle those people.

Either case is murder. One is with malice aforethought and one without. This was voluntary manslaughter at a minimum and quite possibly second degree murder.

This black life didn’t matter or an indictment would have been made. No more excuses. A boy died. There is no excuse for that.”

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