This man says jurors sentenced him to death for being gay. The Supreme Court won’t hear his case / LGBTQ Nation

From the article:

For the second time, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from a death row inmate who claims jurors sentenced him to die because he is gay.

In 1993, Charles Rhines was sentenced to capital punishment for murdering Donnivan Schaeffer—an employee at Dig Em Donuts in Rapid City, South Dakota—while robbing the store. But more than two decades later, jurors came forward with new information claiming that bias against Rhines’ sexual orientation played a role in deciding whether he should spend life in prison or be sentenced to death.

In 2016, Frances Cersosimo—a member of the jury that convicted Rhines—claimed in a sworn statement the defendant’s sexuality played a major part of the deliberations. According to Cersosimo, an unidentified member of the panel claimed jurors would be “sending him where he wants to go” if they voted for life in prison without parole.

Source: This man says jurors sentenced him to death for being gay. The Supreme Court won’t hear his case / LGBTQ Nation

The thing is, we have to care about everyone when it comes to bigotry. Yes, this man killed someone, but if the only reason he was give the death sentence was that the jurors thought he’d enjoy prison sex because he was gay? That’s bigotry.

Disclaimer: I am opposed to the death penalty because of its unequal application over minorities, and the fallibility of the legal system. I didn’t used to feel that way. I was very pro-death penalty when I was young. Then I started reading up on the statistics of its application for a class in college.

They stopped keeping statistics, because ‘reasons’, but the application of the death penalty is not something white guys have to worry as much about. They did not have LGBTQ stats, but racially it was applied mostly against black men.

In all honesty, I am opposed to the jury system. I would prefer that my justice system was administrated less as a PR stunt for the jurors, who weren’t able to get out of jury duty, and left to trained professionals in law.

Most other countries do not do juries, because of the inherent fallibility of that system.


Wish us luck!

How the Rich Really Play, “Who Wants To Be An Ivy Leaguer?” — ProPublica

From the article:

A ProPublica editor who investigated how the rich buy their children’s way into elite colleges reflects on the latest scandal—and remembers when affluent readers mistook his expose for a “how-to” guide.

Source: How the Rich Really Play, “Who Wants To Be An Ivy Leaguer?” — ProPublica

Last week my feeds blew up with this. I was letting is simmer, but to give you an idea:

I remember when I first heard of that rich folks can get into college as a “legacy admission.” I was playing in a Call of Cthulhu table top game, and one of the players wanted to play a debutante that was in college as a legacy admission. I had never heard of this, nor had anyone else. We had to stop and look it up.

It turns out, if you are rich enough, and have familial relationship to alumni, the college can just let you in. This is not something that happens in other countries. This is something that happens in elite universities in the US.

These students have a substantially lower GPS and SAT scores, but they get in anyways. According to the linked wiki, being a legacy ups your chances to get into an elite college by 19.7%. This is from a 2005 study.

I was completely fucking outraged then, because I had been under the illusion that the US educational system was a meritocracy. That is was the one place where your hard work could pay off, and you could get ahead. As it turns out, that’s not really true. Here’s a great article about that illusion: Higher Education and the Illusion of Meritocracy

Our educational system is anything but a meritocracy based on your intelligence and educational progress and hard work. The only thing this scandal has brought to light, is that these rich and/or famous folks skipped the legacy system and all the other pay for play legal options with college admissions, and went to blatant outright cheating in a pay for play kind of deal.

I agree with the Meritocracy article that there is an every day admissions process that literally cuts out those students from poor and middle class backgrounds in favor of higher income students? Even without this giant cheating scandal, this is happening in our colleges every day.

From the article: 

In short, the real corruption of elite-college admissions is more mundane than this scandal suggests, though far more deleterious to America’s meritocratic ideals. To view this scandal as the problem is to unintentionally reinforce the actual problem: In a truly meritocratic society, higher education should correct inequity; instead, elite higher education exacerbates inequity.

The irony is that this scandal can look like an argument for restoring a meritocratic system that wealthy people are trying to subvert through extreme measures. That’s simply not the case. As Doron Taussig, an assistant professor of journalism at Ursinus College who is working on a book about perceptions of meritocracy, told me: “Flaws in meritocracy are defined as problems because they are violations of meritocracy,” but rarely are they taken as evidence that meritocracy is a bad or incoherent idea.

In other words, this isn’t a system wealthy people have to subvert; it’s a system set up for them to participate in without guile or palm-greasing. If falsified ACT scores and Photoshopped water-polo pictures were what corruption looked like, we could solve it. But the problem isn’t the criminal subversion of meritocracy, it’s the mundane ways in which the illusion of meritocracy perpetuates itself and gets us to buy in.

This doesn’t even cover the other college issues. Cheating is a common thing. When I got my accounting degree I was astounded by the number of business/accounting majors that just outright cheated. They bought prefab tests online with the answers, used electronic translators to look up answers on google, or just read the damn book on them, or just literally asked.

I had a guy in my class look over at my carefully written notes, and literally ask me in the middle of a test if he could borrow them, reach over and take them, and then use them to get an A whereas he had gotten a D last test. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING TEST. I just turned my stuff in, and packed up, but damn.

When I went to school for nursing, this would have been unheard of, and grounds for expulsion. Yet, when I went to a business college, literally half the students were engaging on some form of cheating. I was offered tests online. I saw tests that students had bought being brought into testing so they could match up answers. (The gal that did this still got a C, I mean how?!)

Cheating in college is a lot bigger than the latest admissions scandal

If we want our institutions of learning to have meaning, all this has to change.

HUD Plans to Reduce Notice Given Before Inspections, but Advocates Are Unimpressed — ProPublica

From the article:

A plan recently announced by the agency doesn’t address its much-maligned scoring system, despite recommendations drafted in 2016 by senior department officials.

Source: HUD Plans to Reduce Notice Given Before Inspections, but Advocates Are Unimpressed — ProPublica

My job is to sometimes do financial and compliance audits for HUD related federal grants. The problem with federal compliance issues, which is what I am sure some of these inspectors deal with, is you get a specific list of compliance issues to look at. If the problem isn’t on that list, you don’t have a way to write it up.

In my line of work, we put it in a file and can hit it on our non-federal accountability, but even then only if it’s financially related. Some of this shit is not.

The problem is, you can see the program, and you know shit isn’t right, yet by the federal requirements, it’s passing. There is no miscellaneous category for us, and when I worked at the DoD, there wasn’t for Federal defense contracts either.

Entities that take this cash know that, and they make sure the things the feds have not the list to care about are done right, and everything else can just fuck off.

I have never met a HUD inspector, but I have a hard time believing that their federal list is a process that is any difference form the two federal auditing processes I have done.

Texas judge disciplined after claiming God told him defendant was innocent – San Antonio Express-News

From the article:

A Comal County district court judge received a public warning after he told the jury to keep deliberating over a defendant they convicted because God told him she was innocent.

Source: Texas judge disciplined after claiming God told him defendant was innocent – San Antonio Express-News

The woman’s crimes? Continuous sex trafficking and the sale or purchase of a child. Sex trafficking!

If Judge Jack Robison  is hearing voices, he should seek out a good mental health provider, and not be a judge. He had papers saying it was caused a “temporary, episodic condition known as delirium.” Two medical professionals signed this, and they still let him be a fucking judge. They gave him a warning.

 

Empire’s Jussie Smollett Beaten in Racist, Homophobic Attack by Trump Supporters | Autostraddle

From the article:

It’s being reported that singer-songwriter and Empire star Jussie Smolett was beaten early this morning in a racist, homophobic attack by two individuals chanting “This is MAGA country.” The Chicago Police Department has confirmed that a cast member of Empire matching Smollett’s description was admitted to Northwestern Hospital and later released.

The actor was walking down the street when two unknown individuals approached him yelling racial and homophobic slurs (TMZ independently reports these slurs as “Aren’t you that f***** ‘Empire’ n****?” and similar taunts). These individuals then brutally attacked Smollett, physically assaulting him in the face and body while supposedly chanting “this is MAGA Country.” During the attack, a rope was put around Smollet’s neck and what Chicago PD reports as an “unknown chemical substance” was poured on him. TMZ reports this substance was bleach.

Surviving the attack, Smollett then transported himself to the hospital. He was released hours later, and is resting at home in stable condition.

Source: Empire’s Jussie Smollett Beaten in Racist, Homophobic Attack by Trump Supporters | Autostraddle

I am horrified by this. As an out queer transgender man married to an out queer transgender woman, this is my fear. That some MAGA hat fucker will decided they have the right to do this.

Don’t tell me that fucking hat, and those people are not racist, homophobic, and transphobic. They got more ‘isms than anyone else in this country, and a giant helping of entitlement to violence.

Every time I see a blue stripe of tape on the back windshield, a red MAGA hat, or a confederate flag, I know instantly what kind of trouble those people are. I know they are the types of folks that smile at you at work, and support violence against you when the HR department isn’t around to step in.

I hope Smollet is okay. I hope they catch these fucking assholes.

However, even if they do, I know there is a small army of men and women just like them, ready to put on a red MAGA hat and victimize someone when they think they can get away with it.

Teacher who fed puppy to snapping turtle in front of children found not guilty of animal cruelty / Boing Boing

From the article:

Teacher who fed puppy to snapping turtle in front of children found not guilty of animal cruelty.

Source: Teacher who fed puppy to snapping turtle in front of children found not guilty of animal cruelty / Boing Boing

Crosland continues to teach for the Preston School District and he feels “a lot of relief” with the not guilty verdict.

Apparently Robert Crosland, a Preston Junior High School teacher, is still teaching. This is despite having no fucking judgment, and being so callously cruel that he thought feeding a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students was a decent idea. I would never trust someone with this kind of impaired judgement around children.

Tax-funded charter schools textbooks deny evolution, teach human-dinosaur cohabitation, endorse slavery and indigenous genocide / Boing Boing

From Boing Boing:

Tax-funded charter schools textbooks deny evolution, teach human-dinosaur cohabitation, endorse slavery and indigenous genocide

Source: Tax-funded charter schools textbooks deny evolution, teach human-dinosaur cohabitation, endorse slavery and indigenous genocide / Boing Boing

This is astounding that we give millions upon millions to religious schools that actively teach garbage.