July 11, 2014
Break the Immigration Impasse

The rich have a simple agenda. Reduce taxes, ensure handing down wealth to their descendents, and keep wages low.

Keeping wages low is the subject of this Op-Ed in the New York Times, Break the Immigration Impasse, by the three richest people in the country but they can’t come right out and tell you this so they cloak it in humanitarian terms:

"Most Americans believe that our country has a clear and present interest in enacting immigration legislation that is both humane to immigrants living here and a contribution to the well-being of our citizens."

"Americans are a forgiving and generous people, and who among us is not happy that their forebears — whatever their motivation or means of entry — made it to our soil?"

A bone is thrown to conservatives:

"For the future, the United States should take all steps to ensure that every prospective immigrant follows all rules and that people breaking these rules, including any facilitators, are severely punished."

If you know who is writing something and what their agenda is, the news becomes more understandable.

April 9, 2014
Free Market Capitalism

From Pleading Guilty, by Scott Turow, published in 1993, a commentary on Neoliberals and free market capitalism:

"You’re turning out to be a much more complicated fellow than I imagined," said Pagnucci. I tipped my head slightly. I thought it might be a compliment. Before he opened my door, Carl said, "Keep me in the loop," then drifted off, smug and unruffled, leaving behind his usual aura: every soul for itself.

Rational self-interest is Carl’s creed. He worships at the altar of the free market. The same way Freud thought everything sex, Pagnucci believes all social interaction, no matter how complex, can be adjusted by finding a way to put a price on it. Urban housing. Education. We need competition and profit motive to make it all work. It is, I know, quite a theory. Let everybody struggle to get their bucket in the stream and then do what we like with the water they fish out. Some will make steam, some will take a drink, a few fellows or ladies will decide to take a bath. Entrepreneurship will flourish; people will be happy; we’ll get all this nifty indispensable stuff like balsamic vinegar and menthol cigarettes. But what kind of ethical social system takes as its fundamental precepts the words “I” “me” and “mine”? Our two-year-olds start like that and we spend the next twenty years trying to teach them there’s more than that to life.

February 3, 2014
Amanda Knox and False Confessions

Amanda Knox has again been found guilty of murder by an Italian appeals court. The case against her apparently now rests on her confession that she murdered Meridith Kercher, her room mate.  This confession has all of the hallmarks of a false confession. It was obtained after 72 hours of nonstop interrogation during which time Knox suffered sleep deprivation, the humiliation of body cavity searches performed in front of male police officers, and, she claims, physical abuse in the form of being slapped around.   The fact that she made up false details in her confession, again characteristic of false confessions, has ironically been used against her and apparently contributed to the court’s decision that she was guilty.

For those who have difficulty believing that a person would falsely incriminate themselves, a simple test:

In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, 130 people confessed to being witches. You can either believe that these were false confessions or you can believe in witches. There are no other options!

In the United States, you have the option of remaining silent and obtaining the services of a lawyer when police interrogate you.  In many police districts, videotaping of interrogation and the confession is routine because of the well known fact that the rate of false confessions here is about 10% after 10 to 12 hours of interrogation. Under Italian law, Knox was denied access to a lawyer during her interrogation and did not have the right to remain silent.

Altogether, a most tragic miscarriage of justice.

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