Daily Archive: 11/11/2013

Nov 11 2013

You No Longer Have the Right to Remain Silent

Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that refusing to talk to the police can be held against you in a court of law, contrary to the Fifth Amendment.

(I)n a 5-4 ruling on Salinas v. Texas in which the conservative members of the Court and Anthony Kennedy determined that if you remain silent before police read your Miranda rights, that silence can and will be held against you. Here’s what that means.

Basically, if you’re ever in any trouble with police (no, we don’t condone breaking laws) and want to keep your mouth shut, you will need to announce that you’re invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut. “Petitioner’s Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question,” reads the opinion from Justice Samuel Alito (pdf), which Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts backed. Justices Thomas and Scalia had a concurring opinion while the remaining four Supremes dissented.

Law Professor Jonathan Turley explains the impact of the ruling

The case began on the morning of December 18, 1992 when two brothers were shot and killed in their Houston home. A neighbor told police that someone fled in a dark-colored car. Police recovered six shotgun shell casings at the scene. Police inteviewed Salinas who was a guest at a party that the victims hosted the night before they were killed. He owned a dark blue car. While this was a noncustodial interview and Salinas answered questions by the police, he stopped answering when a police officer asked whether his shotgun “would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder.” The record states that, rather than answering “petitioner ‘[l]ooked down at the floor, shuffled his feet, bit his bottom lip, cl[e]nched hishands in his lap, [and] began to tighten up.'” Notably, there was insufficient evidence to charge him with the crime. However, a statement later by another man (who said that Salinas admitted to the killings) led to the charge.

Salinas did not testify at trial, so prosecutors used his silence against him. [..]

Of course, now the police need only to ask questions before putting some into custody to use their silence against them. What is particularly troublesome is how subjective this evidence is. To use the silence and demeanor of a suspect on this question is highly prejudicial and equally unreliable. Yet, now the refusal to answer questions (which is your right) can now be used against you. You can imagine how this new rule can be used any time someone wants to speak with a lawyer or a family member. Police can now recount how they did not assist them or volunteer information.

Citizens will now be able to have protected silence only after being placed in custody. Of course you had that right before that point, but silence would now be incriminating. That gives police every incentive to delay custody – an incentive that already exists due to other rules like Miranda.

An law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

An Idaho attorney addresses the issue of speaking to the police when you have been accused of a crime. A criminal defense lawyer’s perspective on the pitfalls of submitting to an interrogation. Attorney Craig Atkinson addresses the many issues surrounding the legal system, and how due the nature of the adversarial justice system, a defendant’s best bet is to keep quiet.

Even police officers agree you shouldn’t talk to them.

So if the police or law enforcement want to talk to you what should you do. According to the article in The Atlantic Wire by Alexander Abad-Santos:

Basically, if you’re ever in any trouble with police… and want to keep your mouth shut, you will need to announce that you’re invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut.

Invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent then shut up.  

Nov 11 2013

Dollarocracy: What Last Week’s Election Was Really About

In the wake of last week’s off-off year elections, Bill Moyers sat down with Washington correspondent for The Nation, John Nichols, and professor of communications at the University of Illinois, Robert McChesney, to discuss how big money and big media conglomerates are raking in a fortune, influencing elections and undermining democracy

This past Tuesday, special interests pumped big money into promoting or tearing down candidates and ballot initiatives in elections across the country. It was a reprise on a small scale of the $7 billion we saw going into presidential, congressional and judicial races in 2012. To sway the vote, wealthy individuals and corporations bought campaign ads, boosting revenues at a handful of media conglomerates who have a near-monopoly on the airwaves. [..]

“Democracy means rule of the people: one person, one vote,” McChesney says. “Dollarocracy means the rule of the dollars: one dollar, one vote. Those with lots of dollars have lots of power. Those with no dollars have no power.” Nichols tells Moyers: “Dollarocracy has the ability to animate dead ideas. You can take an idea that’s a bad idea, buried by the voters. Dollarocracy can dig it up and that zombie idea will walk among us.”

An Election About GOP Extremism, Unions, Wages and Dollarocracy

by John Nichols, The Nation

Two states will elect governors Tuesday and one of those governors could emerge as a 2016 presidential contender. The nation’s largest city will elect a mayor, as will hundreds of other communities. A minimum-wage hike is on the ballot. So is marijuana legalization. So is the labeling of genetically-modified foods. And Seattle might elect a city council member who promises to open the fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Forget the silly dodge that says local and state elections don’t tell us anything. They provide measures of how national developments – like the federal government shutdown – are playing politically. They give us a sense of whether the “war on women” is widening the gender gap. They tell us what issues are in play and the extent to which the political debate is evolving.

Nov 11 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Plot Against France

On Friday Standard & Poor’s, the bond-rating agency, downgraded France. The move made headlines, with many reports suggesting that France is in crisis. But markets yawned: French borrowing costs, which are near historic lows, barely budged.

So what’s going on here? The answer is that S.& P.’s action needs to be seen in the context of the broader politics of fiscal austerity. And I do mean politics, not economics. For the plot against France – I’m being a bit tongue in cheek here, but there really are a lot of people trying to bad-mouth the place – is one clear demonstration that in Europe, as in America, fiscal scolds don’t really care about deficits. Instead, they’re using debt fears to advance an ideological agenda. And France, which refuses to play along, has become the target of incessant negative propaganda.

Les Leopold: America’s Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom

There are 16.4 million American children living in poverty. That’s nearly one quarter (22.6 percent) of all of our children. More alarming is that the percentage of poor children has climbed by 4.5 percent (pdf) since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. And poor means poor. For a family of three with one child under 18, the poverty line is $18,400. {..]

To add to the misery, Washington has decided that the best way to tackle childhood poverty is to have poor kids eat less. Both parties already have agreed to cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). As of November 1, payments dropped from $668 a month to $632 for more than 47 million lower-income people — 1 in 7 Americans, most of them children.

And more cuts are coming. The Tea Party House passed a bill to cut food stamps by $4 billion a year, while the Democratic-controlled Senate calls for $400 million in cuts. How humane! And since it will be part of the omnibus Farm Bill, President Obama will sign it. (I wonder how our former community organizer will explain this to the poor children he once tried to help in Chicago.)

Jim Hightower: Five Million Missing American Workers

Wall Street analysts, corporate lobbyists, and front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce form an exuberant cheering squad for maintaining the status quo of America’s do-nothing jobs policy. [..]

Well, yes, the official jobless rate has edged down to 7.2 percent, but don’t get giddy, for that’s not the total score. In December 2007, when Wall Street’s reckless greed crashed our economy, the unemployment rate stood at only 5 percent (pdf), the average length of being unemployed was half of today’s, and far fewer people were forced into part-time work or had to find multiple jobs to make ends meet. [..]

But there’s an even more telling statistic that we rarely hear about: the employment/population ratio. This indicator tells us the number of working-age adults actually in the workforce, meaning they’re employed at least part-time or are looking for jobs.

This important number has plummeted by five million people since the crash. They’re not working, and they’re not counted as unemployed.

Robert Kuttner: Time to Thank Edward Snowden

When Edward Snowden first leaked massive NSA files to the Guardian newspaper, public reaction was mixed. To some, he had arrogated to himself a decision to make public some of the most sensitive national security secrets, damaging America’s ability to track terrorists, a decision that he had no right to make. People questioned his mental stability and his motives. To others, he had forced a submerged national debate and slowed down a secret and inexorable slide to a police state that protects security by routinely monitoring everybody. [..]

What Snowden has done is to force a long repressed debate about how much liberty, if any, we need to sacrifice in order to protect our security. Before his leaks, that urgent conversation was a non-debate because the violations of liberty were being done entirely in secret, beyond the reach of democratic deliberation. Even Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, a key author of the Patriot Act, was appalled. He wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder: “I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation … Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Dean Baker: Robert Rubin Wants to Redistribute More Income Upward

Along with Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin is the person most responsible for the country’s economic downturn. He helped steer the country on a path of bubble-driven growth and massive trade deficits. The latter was the result of the IMF engineered bailout from the East Asian financial crisis. The outcome of this bailout was a rush by developing countries to accumulate dollar reserves in order never to have to be in the situation that the East Asian countries faced in dealing with the IMF. This sent the dollar soaring, making U.S. goods and services uncompetitive internationally, causing the trade deficit to explode.

The lost demand from the trade deficit was offset in the 1990s by the stock bubble. The wealth created by the bubble led to a boom in consumption. Also, the ability for hare-brained Internet start-ups to raise billions by issuing stock led to an investment boom in hare-brained Internet start-ups. The bursting of the stock bubble gave us the longest period without job growth since the Great Depression. However the economy did eventually recover on the back of the housing bubble. The collapse of that bubble has given us an even longer stretch without job growth, ruined millions of lives, and will likely cost us tens of trillions of dollars in lost output.

Robert Reich: Pragmatists, Ideologues, and Inequality in America

How will the 2016 election be framed? What will be America’s choice?

If the coverage of last week’s two big winners offers a guide, the choice will be between “pragmatism” and “ideology.” [..]

But these appellations ignore what’s happening to an America in which almost all the economic gains are going to the richest 1 percent, median household incomes continues to drop, and the number of Americans in poverty continues to rise.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: What’s the matter with motherhood?

If you’re a conservative strongly opposed to abortion, shouldn’t you want to give all the help you can to women who want to bring their children into the world? In particular, wouldn’t you hope they’d get the proper medical attention during and after their pregnancy?

This would seem a safe assumption, which is why it ought to be astonishing that conservatives are positively obsessed with trashing the Affordable Care Act’s regulation requiring insurance policies to include maternity coverage.

Never mind that we who are lucky enough to have health insurance end up paying to cover conditions we may never suffer ourselves. We all want to avoid cancer, but we don’t begrudge those who do get it when the premiums we pay into our shared insurance pools help them receive care.

Nov 11 2013

On This Day In History November 11

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 11 is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 50 days remaining until the end of the year.

World War I is commemorated on this day, commonly known as Remembrance Day. The ceasefire went into effect at 11:00am CET in 1918, the date of which (and sometimes the commemoration of) is known as Armistice Day. Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans.

On this day in 1918, the armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in Compiegne Forest.

Clairière de l’Armistice

In November 1918 the Engineer in charge of the North Region Railways: Arthur-Pierre Toubeau, was instructed to find a suitably discreet place which would accommodate two trains. By coincidence on the outskirts of Compiègne in the forest of Rethondes lay an artillery railway emplacement. Set deep within the wood and out of the view of the masses the location was ideal.

Early in the morning of the 8th November a train carrying Maréchal Ferdinand Foch, his staff and British officers arrived on the siding to the right, nearest the museum. The train formed a mobile headquarters for Foch, complete with a restaurant car and office.

At 0700 hours another train arrived on the left hand track. One of the carriages had been built for Napoleon III and still bore his coat of arms. Inside was a delegation from the German government seeking an armistice.

There were only a hundred metres between the two trains and the entire area was policed by gendarmes placed every 20 metres.

For three days the two parties discussed the terms of an armistice until at 0530 hours on the 11th November 1918, Matthias Erzberger the leader of the German delegation signed the Armistice document.

Within 6 hours the war would be over.

Initially the carriage (Wagon Lits Company car No. 2419D) used by Maréchal Foch was returned to its former duty as a restaurant car but was eventually placed in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris.

An American: Arthur Fleming paid for its restoration, and the wagon was brought back to Rethondes on 8th April 1927 and placed in a purpose built shelter (Since destroyed).

Numerous artifacts were obtained from those who had been involved in 1918 and the car was refurbished to its condition at the time of the Armistice.

At the entrance to the avenue leading down to the memorial site is a monument raised by a public subscription organised by the newspaper Le Matin.

The monument is dedicated to Alsace Lorraine and consists of a bronze sculpture of a sword striking down the Imperial Eagle of Germany it is framed by sandstone from Alsace.

The Clairière was inaugurated on 11th November 1922 by President Millerand.

Nov 11 2013

Sunday Train: Will We Be Ready for the Great 2017 HSR Policy Unlock?

I’ve posed a question in the title of this week’s Sunday Train that I have no intention of answering myself.

The first thing you may have noted is that the title presumes a “Great 2017 Policy Unlock” that is by no means certain. And assuming an event in a title as a lead-in to talking about the likelihood of that event is a long-standing internet link-bait practice.

The second thing, however, is that even that would be focusing on political fortune telling, and the Sunday Train is not normally about making guesses about what will happen. It is more often focused on policy in the sense of thinking about what should happen and, sometimes, what we can do to make it more likely to happen.

The foundation of the Sunday Train is the premise that on our current track, with our current transport and energy systems, we are driving the possibility of retaining a national, modern, industrial economy over a cliff. We are doing that in three ways:

  • Our Energy Production and our Transport Systems combined are responsible for a majority of our CO2 emissions, and even if we converted everything else in our economy to be 50% carbon negative ~ sequestering 50% as much CO2 as it present emits ~ our current Energy and Transport systems would be sufficient to drive the globe far enough into Climate Crisis to bring down our national industrial economy;
  • And the world has hit Peak Petroleum Production, as is clear from the variety of “scraping the bottom of the barrel” oil and oil-replacement exploitation efforts taking place today, and has started to slide down the other side of the peak, so that an economy as exposed as our own to oil price shocks is going to lose massive ground compared to competing economies that are already positioned to shelter themselves from the impact of oil price shocks
  • And we are heading toward the Energy Return on Investment cliff for the fossil fuels we produce ourselves that our current Energy and Transport systems relies upon, and as we slide down that cliff, the economic benefit of that domestic fossil fuel production will progressively decline, leaving us behind any national economies or continental economic systems that seriously pursue sustainable, renewable energy sources that are seeing growing Energy Return on Investment, due to technological progress.

Pick your poison, since any one of them is serious enough to either drive the US economy from the ranks of the core economies into the ranks of the semi-peripheral economies, or even to eliminate our ability to retain a national economy at all.

Given that premise, the “odds of success” in a political forecasting sense is not the focus of the Sunday Train. The focus is rather the prospect for improving those odds. Whether that is improving the odds from a 50% chance of success, or a 1% chance of success to a 2% chance of success, in either event it is worth the investment in effort to try … whether the mere 1/5 improvement in the odds, or the more impressive doubling in the odds, what is won in the event of a win is such a jackpot that its worth the effort to simply improve the odds a little bit.

Nov 11 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Some Thoughts on Poverty and the Social Welfare State by NY Brit Expat

When the term poor is used and when we discuss poverty, there are commonplace definitions that we always rely on. To be poor relates to a lack of money or income. But that is a tautology in many senses; a definition that already presumes that poverty relates solely to income and while commonplace is essentially misleading. A far more useful definition of poverty relates to a broader range of things within a social context. Let’s begin with some definitions of poverty in the context of the modern debate on poverty:

Let’s start with that advanced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation:

“Relative Poverty – When we talk about poverty in the UK today we rarely mean malnutrition or the levels of squalor of previous centuries or even the hardships of the 1930s before the advent of the welfare state. It is a relative concept. ‘Poor’ people are those who are considerably worse off than the majority of the population – a level of deprivation heavily out of line with the general living standards enjoyed by the by the majority of the population in one of the most affluent countries in the world (http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/poverty-definitions.pdf).”

Additional definitions address the impact of poverty on ensuring accessing fundamental notions of rights, like the European Commission definition. In its Joint Report on Social Inclusion (2004) the EC defined poverty in the following way:

“People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in the society in which they live. Because of their poverty they may experience multiple disadvantage through unemployment, low income, poor housing, inadequate health care and barriers to lifelong learning, culture, sport and recreation. They are often excluded and marginalised from participating in activities (economic, social and cultural) that are the norm for other people and their access to fundamental rights may be restricted (http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/poverty-definitions.pdf).”