The Innocent Man, the book

The Innocent Man by John Grisham, his first non-fiction book, is an important book which tells the story of the perversity of the criminal justice system when prosecutors are narcissistic despots, cops are corrupt, judges are officious functionaries, and juries are prejudiced mobs who care nothing for facts, evidence, and the truth.

Ron Williamson, a mentally ill ex professional baseball player, is framed for a murder he did not commit and was a couple of weeks from being executed before some diligent indigent defense attorneys finally got a decent judge to review the error riddled original trial and put a stay on the execution. Barry Sheck's Innocence Project finally did DNA testing which found that Williamson and the other man framed, Dennis Fritz, could not have committed the crime.

If you have the misguided notion that our criminal justice system is fair, impartial, and accurate, you will be quickly dissuaded from that notion reading this book.

This is one of Grisham's most important books, and it is a book every American who cares about the criminal justice system and human rights should read. I highly recommend it.

Link: The Innocent Man: Books: John Grisham.

It takes the Supreme Court to get the EPA to do its job under the Bush Administration

Back on April 2, 2007 the Associated Press report on the Supreme Court's ruling that the EPA does have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions was broadcast on CNN.

The Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration Monday for its inaction on global warming in a decision that could encourage faster action in Congress on climate change and lead to more fuel-efficient cars as early as next year.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling in its first case on climate change, declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate those emissions from new cars and trucks under the landmark environment law, and the "laundry list" of reasons it has given for declining to do so are insufficient, the court said.

This is just one more example of how the Bush Administration is in bed with the corporations rather than looking out for the interests of the American People. Thank god the Supreme Court is standing up for the states who are trying to get the EPA to do its job. The conservative, right wing Republicans think the only legitimate purpose of government is to feed the corporate machine by fighting immoral, pre-emptive wars, and giving huge contracts to private security firms for international and domestic population control purposes. It seems strange that it takes a judicial court to get them to do their job to protect the environment which we all benefit from not only here at home but around the world.

This situation raises a number of important issues in the 08 election. What does the future President intend to do to protect the environment? What is the appropriate role of government in protecting the commons or is everything for sale to the highest bidder? What does the future President believe is the proper role of government in serving the welfare of the people? What is the proper role of government in its relationships with corporations and their profit making capitalistic motivations? What is the role of states in getting the Federal government to do its job?

Link: High Court Decision May Hasten Congressional Action on Global Warming - News -

More than 1 in 10 African American males between 25 - 34 in Prison in America

Prison_nation The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics made note of a distressing phenomenon in its press release last June, 27, 2007. They noted that 1/3 of all prison and jail inmates in the United States are African American which far outstrips the degree of their representation in the general population. More than one in 10 (11%)  African Americans between the ages of 25 - 34 are incarcerated in the United States.

What a waste of human energy and talent. What does this say about our society which finally ended slavery, and then ended segregation, and now incarcerates so many of its African American citizens? There is something significantly wrong. Obviously for significant numbers of Americans we are not the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Link: Bureau of Justice Statistics Press Release: Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006.

Another possibly innocent man scheduled for execution in Alabama, September 27, 2007. What's wrong with Gov. Bob Riley?

Could another innocent man be executed in Alabama tomorrow? Here is a blurb from the Innocence Project's web site.

Unless Alabama Gov. Bob Riley or courts intervene, Thomas Arthur will be executed tomorrow despite his claims of innocence and the possibility of DNA testing in his case. Less than two months ago, Darrell Grayson was executed after Riley refused to step in and allow DNA testing that could have proven Grayson’s guilt or innocence. The Innocence Project advocated for DNA testing in the courts and through the political system in both cases. But over the last few days, Riley has refused to even learn more about how DNA testing could prove Arthur’s innocence.

“As we told the governor’s senior advisers, 42 states in the country now allow post-conviction DNA testing. In 42 states, Darrell Grayson or Thomas Arthur would have been able to get DNA testing that could resolve their cases and maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system. Governor Riley, who has refused DNA testing before executions twice in the last two months, has made it clear that he isn’t concerned with getting to the truth in these cases,” said Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld.

It would seem that when there are tools to use to obtain further evidence, they should be used before the ultimate penalty, taking away a person's life, is used. It makes you wonder about a Governor who wouldn't want the evidence before allowing such a drastic action to be taken.

Link: The Innocence Project - News and Information: Press Releases.

Pathological gambling is an addictive disorder

Gambling There is an interesting article in the June, 2007 issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine entitled, "Pathological Gambling: A Nonsubstance, Substance-Related Disorder?" which provides an overview of the history of diagnosing and treating pathological gambling.

Lifetime prevalence rates for pathological gambling are between 1% and 2% of the population. The co-occurance of pathological gambling and other substance using disorders is about 50% for gamblers who also have substance use problems, and about 9% - 16% for people with substance use disorders who also have gambling problems.

With minor variations current treatment for pathological gambling is very similar to treatment for substance use disorders. There is no know effective medications.

With the rise in gambling opportunities in all states but Hawaii and Utah, it is predicted that the prevalence of pathological gambling disorder will increase over the next few years. It is also important for substance use treatment providers to screen clients for gambling problems as well as substance use disorders because the rate of pathological gambling among the chemically dependent is about 10 times the rate in the general population.

Pathological gambling leads to financial ruin, divorce, depression, criminal justice problems, and sometimes suicide. It often requires professional treatment and other assistance.

Unfortunately, the article is not available on line for free.

Bankruptcy Under Way for San Diego Diocese

NPR Religion program had an interesting program on March 11, 2007 describing the bankruptcy underway in the Catholic diocese of San Diego. There have been so many pedophile law suit settlements that they have bankrupted another Catholic diocese.

This news has me wondering where the Catholic dioceses get their money to begin with? It is from their parishioners of course. And that has me wondering why parishioners would be financially supporting an institution which harbors, enables, and abets sex abusers and then hypocritically purports to teach people about morality?

The God which the Catholic church claims to represent must have one heck of a sense of humor. Either you laugh or cry.

Is this an example of bad faith described in the post below?

To listen to the show click on the link below.

Link: NPR : Bankruptcy Under Way for San Diego Diocese.

Once Were Warriors, the film

Once_were_warriors Once Were Warriors is a film from New Zealand distributed in 1994 which depicts the urban life of a Maori family which is frought with domestic violence, alcoholism, rape, and suicide. This film is very disturbing to watch and is for a mature audience only. It also may be especially disturbing for people who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse in the past.

The film accurately displays the dynamics and ambivalence often present in families which suffer from domestic violence and alcoholism. I understand that it has been used in professional training programs to sensitize students to the problems which they may be asked to help with.

I highly recommend this film but with significant concerns that the viewing audience be prepared to handle the content.

Link: Once Were Warriors (1994).

Domestic violence plummets 50%

The Chicago Sun Times reported on December 29, 2006 that domestic violence, now referred to as "Intimate Partner Violence" has decreased over 50% in the last 10 years.

Domestic violence rates fell sharply between 1993 and 2004, the Justice Department said Thursday.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that ''intimate partner violence'' rates fell by more than 50 percent.

The decline mirrored a decade-long trend in other violent crimes, and the department did not suggest a cause.

Link: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Nation :: Domestic violence plummets 50%.

U.K. Study Finds Alcohol is Real 'Date-Rape' Drug

Drinking I have known this for years and have been saying this for years and now the studies confirm it.

The Guardian reported Nov. 16 that the study found no examples of the drug Rohypnol being used in rapes but plenty of evidence that alcohol was involved. Just two cases of the 120 examined showed evidence that GHB, another drug linked to sex assaults, was involved. But 119 of the cases involved victims who had been drinking.

Link: U.K. Study Finds Alcohol is Real 'Date-Rape' Drug.

Soldiers Of Conscience - Sgt. Kevin Benderman

Benderman150 Non commissioned officer, Sgt. Kevin Benderman refused to return to Iraq for a second tour of duty when he became aware of the immorality of the war. He applied for Conscientious Objector status and was denied. He was court martialed and sentenced to time in a military prison at Ft. Lewis, Washtington. After serving about one year in prison he was finally released in August of 2006.Many of our soldiers of conscience will be punished by the Industrial/Miliatry/Political complex for standing up for truth and justice rather than become mercenary pawns for pre-emptive colonial wars of aggression. Here is part of an article from the Courage To Resist web site.

“The only way to bring peace to the world is to let the people of the world decide for themselves what they want to spend their efforts on. I feel that in this day and age governments start wars, and not people, and since the governments want the wars then why don’t we let the government fight the war? All of the politicians that want to fight a war are free to trade places with me at any time. I will gladly go and learn war no more.”After serving in the military for eight years, including a tour of duty in Iraq, Kevin Benderman filed for conscientious objector status in December 2004. His application was quickly denied, and on the weekend of Jan. 7, 2005 Benderman refused to re-deploy to Iraq with his unit.

“As I went through the process which led to my decision to refuse deployment to Iraq for the second time, I was torn between thoughts of abandoning the soldiers that I serve with, or following my conscience, which tells me: war is the ultimate in destruction and waste of humanity." As stated in Benderman’s article, "A Matter of Conscience."

Support The Troops!These are the true heros who fight for truth and justice around the world. It concerns me that we don't read, see, or hear more about these Soldiers of Conscience in our American media. Either the media is too busy spewing propoganda to further indoctrinate the American people into thinking that they are doing a wonderful thing bringing "freedom and democracy" around the world under the point of rifles and missles or the corporate media is feathering its own nest fueling immoral militaristic activities because it is good for business and their bottom line. Many corporations and stock holders are profiting while hundreds of thousands of people are dying. I say a prayer of thanksgiving for people of conscience like Kevin Benderman and his family.

Kevin Benderman was declared a Prisoner Of Conscience by Amnesty International.

Link: Courage to Resist - Support Sgt. Benderman!.