Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RIP Austerity Economics

Here's a really good analysis of Austerity economic philosophy, including its roots, it's supporters, how it's been implemented in both western European countries and as a condition of IMF and World Bank loans, and what it's done to these countries.

This is the time of year when we're reminded of all the famous people who died over the last twelve months, a list which includes two of my favorite guitar players (Hubert Sumlin and Cornell Dupree). But there were also some notable non-human deaths in 2011, especially in the world of economic policy.
One of those deaths should have completely altered the political debate in Washington. The name of the deceased was "Austerity Economics," and it was first glimpsed in a 1921 paper by conservative economist Frank Wright. Austerity died of natural causes brought on by prolonged exposure to reality.
But the debate in Washington didn't change nearly enough after its passing. In the nation's capital, dead things still rule the night.

Thanks to Richard Eskow at Crooks & Liars (click here for the whole article)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sheriff’s Office special taxing district to hold hearing on 2012 budget

Courtesy of Matt Davis at The Lens:

 Friday, December 16 at 3pm at Sheriff Gusman's offices at 619 S. Broad Street.

A little-scrutinized but powerful government body run by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman is holding a public hearing on its budget on Friday, though scant information on the budget has been made available.
The organization is the taxpayer financed Orleans Parish Law Enforcement District.
By law, the district’s budget must be available 10 days in advance of the hearing for the review, but it’s unclear whether the document given to The Lens is the right budget.
The district primarily exists to borrow and pay back money used for bricks-and-mortar projects, and a page included with the Sheriff’s Office budget is entitled “Debt Service Fund.” The Lens asked the Sheriff’s Office to verify that this is the Law Enforcement District budget but received no response.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mental Health in New Orleans

Does anyone have any data on homelessness and mental health in New Orleans, or crime/criminal justice and mental health in the city?  I'll take any stats (tell me the original source if you know it) or anecdotal accounts.  Ultimately I want to know the number of homeless who are arrested and who also have been diagnosed with a mental health issue.  Any information is appreciated.  What mental health services currently exist in the city?  Are they residential or out patient?  What's the average length of time of continued service?  How much does service cost?  How clean and safe are they?  Are the same people recycled through them?  Have you seen any changes in this population over the past few years (since Katrina)?  How can we better serve this population?

The same questions apply to homeless shelters.

Anything would be helpful.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Senate Votes against Net Neutrality Repeal

Courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo:

The Senate on Thursday voted 52 to 46 against a Republican-sponsored piece of legislation designed to repeal the “network neutrality” rules established by the Federal Communications Commission in December 2010.  Click here for more information on today's vote.

This is something every blogger and user of the web should be keeping an eye on.  Net Neutrality--the idea that all data transmitted across the internet should be treated as equally important and accessible.  The concern is that should net neutrality fail (something many communications companies are hoping for) then consumers would be charged different amounts to access different webpage.  Further, those of us who host a webpage would eventually have to "pay into" special bundled packages that allow for quick access among web surfers (kind of like cable packages).

Mike Tyson as Herman Cain

Thanks to TalkingPointsMemo:
BTW: I'm down with pizza pthursdays replacing taco tuesdays.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Amazing Displays of Physical Agility and Skill

Sometimes I'm just so blown away by the sheer amazingness of human physical agility and skill.  This is truly inspiring.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trends in Income Growth: 1979-2007

Here are some charts on trends in income growth over the past 30 years.  
Courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo and the Congressional Budget Office (click here for the full report).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Racist Alabama Republicans Get Busted

I blogged before about how many of the new voting laws that we see popping up in states across the country are effectively ways to disenfranchise people of color.  It's really hard to actually catch politicians openly admitting this as a political strategy.  Usually these are couched in narratives of protecting the institution of voting, and after all, who can be against that.  But often these arguments are based on mythical threats.  They're effective at scaring people and generating public support, but again, they're usually not based on any real threat.  In the report below,  however, these folks are caught red-handed.  A rare accomplishment.
Courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo by way of the Birmingham News: Here's the key paragraph:
Beason, Lewis, and their political allies sought to defeat SB380 partly because they believed the absence of the referendum on the ballot would lower African-American voter turnout during the 2010 elections. One of the government’s recordings captured Beason and Lewis discussing political strategy with other influential Republican legislative allies. A confederate warned: “Just keep in mind if [a pro-gambling] bill passes and we have a referendum in November, every black in this state will be bused to the polls. And that ain’t gonna help.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The New Orleans Film Festival: Screening of The Big Fix

The New Orleans Film Festival starts this Friday and will last through October 20th.  There are a number of films that looks really interesting, including The Human Centipede II (that's right, the sequel).  On a more serious note however, there will be a screening of The Big Fix, a film on the cover-up of the BP oil spill and the influence of the oil industry (among many others) on government.  I posted the trailer below.  There will be a press conference regarding the film and cover-up at the Contemporary Arts Center at 2pm this Friday (right before the film is shown).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When I was in High School: Death Angel's Ultraviolence

So I was all over the place when I was in junior high and high school, floating around from friends to friends until I finally settles on two overlapping groups that split once we all gradated (yes there are too many ideas going on in this sentence).  For part of that time I was into heavy metal.  My first concert was Metallica's "And Justice for All" tour, which was their las album before they started sucking.  I saw them at Lake Compounce in Bristol Connecticut when I was in 8th grade.  My two friends and I went and we were the youngest kids there.  Some rocker guy gave me the finger for looking at his girlfriend.  It was scary.  Anyway, this song, ultraviolence, by Death Angel was one of my favorites during this time.  I totally nailed it on my air guitar while I was rocking away in my bedroom instead of doing homework.   Check it out, might be from 1989 or so.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Brits Talkin Shit about Our Prison System

From the British television show QI (which looks like it's supposed to be a comedy program). The host starts off by giving some stats on incarceration in the U.S. and the guest at first make some jokes, but then they become sort of awe struck at how brutal our prison system is. It's good to see how folks in an international forum view our state of prisons. Thanks to Sociological Images for posting this (and some other stats on prison privatization).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Community Forum on Prisons in New Orleans

American Zombie has uploaded the video footage from the Community Forum on Prisons held on September 20, 2011.  There's another forum on October 1, 2011.  Here's the video (thanks Zombie).

Prison Proliferation: 1778-2005

Here's a great visual representation of the growth of prisons in the U.S. over the past couple centuries.  The green dots represent prison construction from 1778-1900 (122 years).  The yellow dots represent prison construction from 1901-1940 (39 years); orange dots from 1941-1980 (39 years) and the red dots from 1980-2005 (25 years).  The artist does a great job capturing the growth in the prison industry since the Civil Rights movement and the recent War on Drugs.  This is when prison became political and the number of those incarcerated in state and federal prison grew from around 300,000 (early 1970s) to 2.3 million (today). This represents the greatest number and rate of incarceration in the world.  That's right, in the world. China might share the title, depending on measurement.  Further, the U.S. incarceration rate for African Americans is over 2,000 per 100,000--4,919 black men per 100,000 according to the Department of Justice.  This represents a higher incarceration rate than was the case in apartheid South Africa.  Not surprisingly, the growth in incarceration has had virtually no effect on violent crime.  In fact, New Orleans has one of the highest incarceration rates for cities in the world and it's still one of the most violent cities in the U.S.   Check it out, it's about 10:00 minutes long.

Local Policing, Jailing and Immigration

Here's a segment from WWNO that was on the radio yesterday (09/22/11) on immigration policing and jailing in New Orleans.  Nationally, immigration detention centers are one of the fastest sectors of the private prison industry.  Click here to listen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World's Biggest Employers

Once a year the magazine The Economist comes out with a yearly booklet called "World in Figures." This booklet lists the world rankings of a number of different areas.  Here's the ranking of employers size by number of employees.  Notice the top dog, this is where much of your federal tax dollars go.  Also, this number does not include veterans benefits (I think that's covered under the Department of the Interior).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

State of Georgia set to Execute Troy Davis Tonight, Despite Crumbling Evidence of Guilt

Courtesy of Democracy Now:

The State of Georgia is preparing to execute Troy Anthony Davis in one of the most high-profile executions in the United States in years. Davis is scheduled to be killed by lethal ejection at 7:00 p.m. EDT, one day after the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected clemency. Democracy Now! will air a special broadcast from outside the prison in Jackson, Georgia, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EDT. Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of off-duty white police officer Mark MacPhail. Since then, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony, and there is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime scene. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finding a Voting System that Best Reflects Public Opinion: Instant Run-Off Voting

I'm sure there are some downfalls, but I like the idea of finding different ways to vote and I don't like the fact that my vote is not for who I want, but against who I don't want.  I know this style of voting [instant run-off voting], and others, have been put to use in different cities across the world.  Don't know what the citizens of these places think though, or the likely long-term implications for democracy and decision-making.  I'm just trying to find a way to design a voting system that best reflects the diversity of opinion out there.  I'm sure nothing will be perfect, but this seems like one possibility.  Thoughts and suggestions?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Juvenile Jail to Stand Just Across the Street from Relocated McDonogh 35 High School

Here's a repost, courtesy of The Lens.  Click Here for the Original (with map)

Juvenile jail to stand just across the street from relocated McDonogh 35 High School

The juvenile jail will remain at a location adjacent to Bayou St. John and the planned home of McDonogh 35 High School.
By Steve Beatty, The Lens staff writer |
Despite concerns from some neighbors, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said this week that the city will rebuild its juvenile jail where it now stands – right across from a city playground and the site of a planned high school in the Bayou St. John area.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Disenfranchising Citizens for Political Purposes: Conservatives Seek More Hurdles to Voting

I've been wanting to post something about this for the last day or two, but I just couldn't muster up the energy to do it.  Sometimes learning of things like this is so disheartening that it just sucks the energy out of me, despite how important it is for people to be aware of it.  Political scientists and sociologists have noted for years now that a more engaged citizenry usually translates into more votes for democrats (less so now because of the ideological shift to the right over the past 30-years) and third party candidates.  Political savvy folks know this too.  If more voters threatens your political ideology, and you have no morals or soul then you have a vested interest in decreasing the number of voters.  That's what's going on here.  It's despicable and embarrassing that in the 21st century we have people actively seeking to deny others the right to vote.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Changing the Narrative: Mainstream Media > Corporate Media

So, on the Social Media, Social Justice panel at Rising Tide VI this year, we talked about making a concerted effort to start using the term "corporate media" instead of "mainstream media," especially when referring to the news (Jordan Flaherty was the first to mention this).  I think this is not only a good idea, but a necessity.  Why?  Well, because the term mainstream media sets us up to mentally think "average," "the middle," the "most popular,"or something similar to that.

Social Media and Social Justice Panel from Rising Tide VI at Xavier University

Here's video of the Social Media and Social Justice panel from this year's Rising Tide conference. Thanks to Jason Berry for filming, Bart Everson for organizing, and Dr. Kimberly Chandler for moderating the panel.

Rising Tide 6 - Social Media, Social Justice from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Get Your Arse There: Rising Tide VI: Tomorrow (Saturday-August 27th)

Rising Tide is Saturday (tomorrow), August 27th at Xavier University.  Get your arse there. You can live stream it if your arse can't make it.

Astronomers find Planet Made of Diamond

Courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo, a team of astronomers found a planet only 4,000 light years away that's made entirely of diamond.  De Beers has reportedly just chartered a flight to it.  Shortly after, astronomers found another planet, this one only 4,001 light years away, made entirely of cubic zirconia.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Primary Characteristics of the Tea Party Movement

By way of TalkingPointsMemo, a recent article in Context, a quarterly magazine on sociology, discusses the fundamental cultural characteristics of the Tea Party movement.  These are, according to TPM, "Authoritarianism, Fear of Change, Libertarianism, and Nativism [or
'negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration']".

Friday, August 19, 2011

What if the Tea Party were Black? by Tim Wise

A colleague of mine reminded me of this short article by Tim Wise.  It's a really good way of demonstrating white privilege, especially in the everyday, "normal" issues on the intersections of comfort and race.  Now I'm sure there are plenty of people who will argue that the tea party, especially its more radical, gun-toting arm makes them uncomfortable, but that's not the point.  The point is, imagine if instead of being mostly white, they were mostly black? I think anyone who thinks about this seriously and honestly will come away with the same conclusion. Imagine if a number of black men showed up at a state capital or city hall, or even a bar legally carrying firearms? There's no way that would be allowed.  People would be shitting their pants, the tea party would be cast as a crazy, radical, terrorist organization, many would be thrown in jail and some might even be shot.  We'd be seeing random video clips taken completely out of context that reveal the "real danger these people pose to the safety and security of "normal" Americans.  White folks left and right would be falling in line with the political and media constructed narratives.  Here's the link to the pdf.  Or, you can read it below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazing Pictures taken from Space

Courtesy of the folks at TalkingPointsMemo, here are some incredible shots of the planet taken from space.  Unfortunately, you can't see Bruce Willis in the meteor pic. Click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The School ReSegregation Movement

Here's a trailer from the latest Robert Greenwald and the Brave New Foundation film on the role of the Koch brothers, their organization Americans for Prosperity, and school segregation courtesy of Crooks and Liars.  Notice the code words, things like "neighborhood schools."  Ahh, who could be against neighborhood schools?  That sounds so sweet and everything.  As someone who studies media, crime and racism, I've learned that you always have to look behind these words, to the policy, its inducements and the pressures it produces, to see what they mean in reality.  Throughout the 80s and 90s we heard (and still do) similar code words on crime.  Words like "thug," "urban," "gangster," and "crackhead" served as replacement words for black, hispanic and asian youth because using those words is not pc.  Instead, code words are used to generate support for policies that in practice will further institutionalize racism and other forms of discrimination.  Racism through the back door.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crime Cameras and Crap

Does anyone know what's going on with those crime cameras?  I heard there was a law suit or something.  I gut busted three times for speeding.  It sucks.  It'd be one thing if I was going unreasonably fast, but I really wasn't.  I won't drive on Henry Clay anymore, got busted there going like 40 in a 35 or something like that, twice.  I don't think that's unreasonably fast.  You can't really go fast on most of these roads, they're too small and full of pot holes, it's like built in speed bumps,  Go too fast and you'll get messed up.  The ticket I got today was on Jackson and something.  I don't even know, I just said 'shit' and looked at the amount.  $75.00.  Maybe that will help the city fill the killer pot hole out in front of my house.  There's been an orange cone there for like 2 months.  Anyway, I switched my car insurance the other day and I asked about speeding tickets counting against me, and the agent mentioned something about a court case.  Does anyone know anything about this?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Ok, since millions and millions of people visit this blog everyday, I have a question.  I'm a mountain biker. Not mountain dew level of extreme.  I just like to ride my bike.  I ride on the levee, which is great, but I'm looking for something off road.  Any suggestions?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Decarceration: State Prison Closings

Marc Mauer and the good people at The Sentencing Project just came out with their latest report on decarceration.  Since the late 1960s this country has seen the number of people incarcerated increase from about 200,000 to 2.4 million, placing the US. on top of the world in both pure numbers of people it locks away and in the rate (per 100,000).  Most of this increase had to do with tougher drug penalties, as well as tougher penalties for things like parole violation.  It's also due to a greater number of people being sent to prison for offenses that would not have landed them in prison before, as well as a greater number of people staying behind bars for longer periods of time.  See the chart below,

In Keeping with the Spirit of the Season

As we celebrate this debt ceiling raising season...courtesy of the folks at Crooks and Liars.

btw, "Who's Your Baghdaddy" sounds hilarious.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


NJ Governor Chris Christie on his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the State Bench.

Check out the video.  He's answering questions at a press conference....tears it up.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Media Bloggers Association

I came across this in some of the research I'm doing and thought it'd be worth making available.  It's called the Media Bloggers Association.  Some of you may already know about it, but it looks like they offer useful information for bloggers, especially those who write about issues that could get them sued.

I cut and pasted the text from their About Us page, see below:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Distractions: Casey Anthony and Episodic Crime News

So, everyone's been talking lately about the Casey Anthony case.  I don't know much at all about this case, nor do I care.  I actually see stories like this as distractions.  Sociologists who study crime in the media (especially the news) note that most crime reports focus on the actual event, such as the specific crime, victims, some demographic--"there were shots fired at x street at y time of the night, one victim taken to the hospital").  Others, though many fewer, might focus on the court case, and the specifics of the everyday activities within the court room.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Times-Picayune Op-Ed on Reducing Violent Crime in the City

Here's an op-ed I submitted to the TP this morning in reference to yesterday's (July 5th) front page story "Why the Disparity" by Michelle Krupa.  My op-ed focuses on the crime fighting strategy that Mr. James Carter is adopting.  It's nice to see someone actually draw on the empirical research to guide solutions to violent crime.  Who knows if they'll publish it, but here it is.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rising Tide VI at Xavier University in New Orleans

Clear your calendars for the Rising Tide VI conference at Xavier University in New Orleans on August 27, 2011.  This conference grew out of the unrest and anger triggered by Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath as concerned citizens took to their computers, found others with similar interests and concerns and began to organize.  Past speakers and panelist include Harry Shearer, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Mac McClelland of Mother Jones, author of Rising Tide John Barry, and others.  Click here for details.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jimmy Carter calls for an End of the Global Drug War

So most criminologists will tell you that the War on Drugs is an utter failure.  Drugs today are more potent and easily accessible than they were decades ago when this version of the War on Drugs started (Nixon > Reagan > Bush > Clinton).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Five Myths About Incarceration

Here's a Op-Ed by Marc Mauer (of The Sentencing Project) and David Cole.  As the title suggests, it notes five myths about the relationship between prison and crime.  Check it out here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thoughts on Libya

Josh Marshal from Talking Points Memo (and who holds a Ph.D. in...early American History...I think?) offers some criticisms regarding U.S. involvement in Libya.  He identifies his basic arguments in the following,

So let's review: No clear national or even humanitarian interest for military intervention. Intervening well past the point where our intervention can have a decisive effect. And finally, intervening under circumstances in which the reviled autocrat seems to hold the strategic initiative against us. This all strikes me as a very bad footing to go in on.

Check it out (click here) and let's hear your thoughts.