Daily Archive: 04/04/2013

Apr 04 2013

A belt of photons

Greener’s Law

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Game on dude.

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Apr 04 2013

The Myth of Equal Justice

March 18 marked the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark case by the Supreme Court that required states under the 14th amendment to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys, extending the identical requirement made on the federal government under the 6th Amendment.

But is justice now equal?

The Legacy of Gideon v. Wainwright

by John Light, Moyers & Company

Anthony Lewis, The New York Times journalist whose masterwork chronicled the Supreme Court’s landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision, died earlier this week at the age of 85. The court’s ruling, handed down 50 years ago last week, established a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney, even if that defendant cannot afford one. [..]

Here are some resources on Anthony Lewis and the legacy of Gideon v. Wainwright.

1. Gideon’s Trumpet

In 1964, Lewis, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, published his book Gideon’s Trumpet. In it, he described Clarence Earl Gideon as a wrongly convicted Florida man convinced that he was entitled to legal representation even though the state of Florida said otherwise. [..]

2. Defending Gideon

A new documentary from The Constitution Project and the New Media Advocacy Project examines the impact of Gideon v. Wainwright and includes a recent interview with Anthony Lewis as well as an archival interview from the 1960s with Gideon, who explains that he was surprised to hear from the trial judge that he was not entitled to a lawyer. [..]

3. “The Silencing of Gideon’s Trumpet”

Ten years ago, on the 40th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, Lewis described in The New York Times Magazine the “endless failures to bring the promise of Gideon to life.” He wrote, “Even more alarming is the assertion by the Bush administration that in a whole new class of cases it can deny the right to counsel altogether. [..]

4. Adam Liptak on Lewis’s Transformative Journalism

Adam Liptak, one of Lewis’s successors as Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, wrote the paper’s obituary of its former reporter and columnist. He noted that Gideon’s Trumpet has never been out of print from the day it was published, and that Lewis’s knowledgeable and thorough coverage of the court during the years Earl Warren served as its chief justice made him almost as essential to its history as the judges themselves. [..]

5. Andrew Cohen on Lewis and Gideon today

Writing in The Atlantic earlier this month, legal scholar Andrew Cohen described how, in the story of Gideon v. Wainwright, Lewis found material for one of the “best nonfiction works written about the Supreme Court and the American legal system.” [..]

But the thrust of Cohen’s essay is that Gideon’s legacy has not fared so well. A Brennan Center for Justice report found that many court appointed lawyers are overworked and spend less than six minutes per case at hearings where they counsel their clients to plead guilty. Lawmakers haven’t funded public defenders adequately, Cohen says, and the Supreme Court has not required them to do so.

On March 29th’s Moyers & Company, host Bill Moyers discussed the system’s failures, and ongoing struggles at the crossroads of race, class and justice with attorney and legal scholar Bryan Stevenson. Then Mr. Moyers is joined by journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien, authors of Murder at the Supreme Court, to examine the fatal flaws of the death penalty.

The broadcast closes with a Bill Moyers Essay on the hypocrisy of “justice for all” in a society where billions are squandered for a war born in fraud while the poor are pushed aside.



Full transcript can be read here

Apr 04 2013

NCAA Profits Off Athletes, Even Injured Ones

During the recent madness of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Louisville Cardinals’ player Kevin Ware fractured his lower leg during the game. The injury, caught on camera, was so gruesome that most news outlets refused to show the film or pictures. Fortunately for Ware, the injury, a fractured tibia that required surgery to repair, will most likely not end his college basketball career. He’s lucky, so far. Others have not fared so well, despite the fact that both the NCAA and the schools that are members make millions off these athletes, as well as, from the merchandise and advertising.

A 2009 New York Times article raised concerns about the inadequacy of health insurance for college athletes that the National Collegiate Athletic Association required.

But the association never established clear standards for that coverage when it introduced the rule four years ago, leaving colleges to decide for themselves. While some colleges accept considerable responsibility for medical claims, many others assume almost none, according to a review of public documents from a cross section of universities and interviews with current and former athletes, trainers, administrators and N.C.A.A. officials. [..]

Many students, whether athletes or not, have medical insurance through their parents. But these plans often exclude varsity sports injuries, limit out-of-state treatment or do not cover much of the bill. Some colleges buy secondary policies to fill the gaps, although even these plans have holes. And only players hurt badly enough to require extensive care can turn to the N.C.A.A. for coverage. Its catastrophic insurance carries a $75,000 deductible, which will increase to $90,000 next year.

The absence of mandated coverage for athletes has prompted calls for change.

That was four years ago and it seems little has changed. While the athletes play for free and risk injury that could end not only their playing but their college ambitions as well, since many are on athletic scholarship dependent on their participation. Dave Zirin, at The Nation, recounts what happened in the aftermath of Ware’s injury and the reaction of the NCAA and the university:

On Wednesday we learned that Adidas, in conjunction with the University of Louisville athletic department, will be selling a $24.99 t-shirt with Kevin Ware’s number 5 and the slogan “Rise to the Occasion” emblazoned across the back. His team will also be wearing warm-ups with Ware’s name, number and the slogan “All In.” (This tragically is not a tribute to Chris Hayes.)

You almost have to tip your cap: no non-profit does buccaneer profiteering quite like the NCAA. What other institution would see a tibia snap through a 20-year-old’s skin on national television and see dollar signs? In accordance with their rules aimed at preserving the sanctity of amateurism, not one dime from these shirts will go to Kevin Ware or his family. Not one dime will go toward Kevin Ware’s medical bills if his rehab ends up beneath the $90,000 deductible necessary to access the NCAA’s catastrophic injury medical coverage. Not one dime will go towards rehab he may need later in life.

Kevin Ware was returned to the unversity accompanied by hi s coach and has been declared well enough to attend the “Final Four.” Meanwhile, university officials were mum on what will happen to his scholarship in the fall if rehab doesn’t go well over the summer.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes addressed the question of NCAA athletes as uncompensated employees of the NCAA and the “fat profits” the NCAA makes off not just the games but the individuals after they leave the team.

If you happen to be among the millions of people who watched the NCAA tournament Sunday, you watched as Louisville Cardinals sophomore guard Kevin Ware broke his leg during an awkward fall after a routine move: an injury so gruesome it left players in tears, and more than a few people feeling sick to their stomachs.

People who saw it in real-time howled involuntarily. Everyone in the stadium was affected. Social media blew up.

Right away, people wanted to know if Ware’s leg was going to be OK, and if he was ever going to play basketball again. But they also wanted to know-I wanted to know-if Ware isn’t going to play basketball again because of this injury, is he going to be able to go back to Louisville next year, and is he going to have a scholarship?

If Ware isn’t going to have a scholarship, what’s going to happen to him? And in any case, who is going to pay his medical bills? Is he covered for this? And most profoundly and urgently, why isn’t Kevin Ware being paid for his labor? [..]

It was gruesome on a visceral level, because of the severity of the injury, but it was also gruesome because while all of us were enjoying the game, all the people making money off of it, including the advertisers, and athletic directors, and apparel companies, had to reckon for a brief instant with the fact that this kid, now in agony, was on the job making their programs possible.

Chris noted an article in The Atlantic by Taylor Branch; it is long but a must read that tell os the scandalous mess that is the NCAA and college sports.

Apr 04 2013

On This Day In History April 4

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.

April 4 is the 94th day of the year (95th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 271 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1949,the NATO pact signed

The United States and 11 other nations establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. NATO stood as the main U.S.-led military alliance against the Soviet Union throughout the duration of the Cold War.

Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union began to deteriorate rapidly in 1948. There were heated disagreements over the postwar status of Germany, with the Americans insisting on German recovery and eventual rearmament and the Soviets steadfastly opposing such actions. In June 1948, the Soviets blocked all ground travel to the American occupation zone in West Berlin, and only a massive U.S. airlift of food and other necessities sustained the population of the zone until the Soviets relented and lifted the blockade in May 1949. In January 1949, President Harry S. Truman warned in his State of the Union Address that the forces of democracy and communism were locked in a dangerous struggle, and he called for a defensive alliance of nations in the North Atlantic-U.S military in Korea.NATO was the result. In April 1949, representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal joined the United States in signing the NATO agreement. The signatories agreed, “An armed attack against one or more of them… shall be considered an attack against them all.” President Truman welcomed the organization as “a shield against aggression.”