American gulag

I can’t read beyond the first few paragraphs, it’s too upsetting to read what we do to people here in the “civilized” United States of America.

When Jack Powers arrived at maximum-security federal prison in Atlanta in 1990 after a bank robbery conviction, he had never displayed symptoms of or been treated for mental illness. Still in custody a few years later, he witnessed three inmates, believed to be members of the Aryan Brotherhood gang, kill another inmate. Powers tried to help the victim get medical attention, and was quickly transferred to a segregated unit for his safety, but it didn’t stop the gang’s members from quickly threatening him.


Not then. And certainly not after Powers testified (not once but twice) for the federal government against the assailants. The threats against him continued and Powers was soon transferred to a federal prison in Pennsylvania, where he was threatened even after he was put into protective custody. By this time, Powers had developed insomnia and anxiety attacks and was diagnosed by a prison psychologist as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Instead of giving Powers medicine, or proper mental health therapy, officials transferred him yet again, this time to another federal prison in New Jersey. There, Powers was informed by officials that he would be removed from a witness protection program and transferred back into the prison’s general population. Fearing for his life, Powers escaped. When he was recaptured two days later he was sent to ADX-Florence, part of a sprawling prison complex near Florence, Colorado often referred to as “ADX” or Supermax,” America’s most famous and secure federal prison.

From there, things got worse. The Supermax complex, made up of different secure prison units and facilities, is laden with members of the Brotherhood and Powers was no safer than he had been anywhere else. Over and over again he was threatened at the Colorado prison. Over and over again he injured or mutilated himself in response. Over and over again he was transferred to federal government’s special mental health prison facility in Missouri, diagnosed with PTSD, and given medication. Over and over again that medication was taken away when he came back to Supermax.

As he sits today in Supermax, Powers had amputated his fingers, a testicle, his scrotum and his earlobes, has cut his Achilles tendon, and had tried several times to kill himself. Those tattoos you see? Powers had none until 2009, when he started mutilating with a razor and carbon paper. He did much of this — including biting off his pinkie and cutting skin off his face — in the Control Unit at ADX while prison officials consistently refused to treat his diagnosed mental illness. Rules are rules, prison officials told him, and no prisoners in that unit were to be given psychotropic medicine no matter how badly they needed it.

Janay McFarlane

Aren’t we tired of this yet? Will anything ever get done?

CHICAGO — An 18-year-old Chicago woman was killed the same day her sister had sat on the stage behind President Barack Obama, listening to him push for gun control legislation.

Janay Mcfarlane was shot once in the head around 11:30 p.m. Friday in North Chicago, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd told the Chicago Sun-Times (). Mcfarlane, a mother of a 3-month-old boy, was in the Chicago suburb visiting friends and family.

North Chicago police said two people are being questioned in connection with Mcfarlane’s death, but no charges have been filed.

“I really feel like somebody cut a part of my heart out,” Angela Blakely, Mcfarlane’s mother, said.

Blakely said the bullet that killed Mcfarlane was meant for a friend.

Words and music by John McCain

Charlie Pierce with the play by play:

Meanwhile, after pondering why the Times lets the janitorial staff sneak in and edit parts of the newspaper, we begin this week with Disco Dave’s Disco Dance Party. Now, we are often tough on the Dancin’ Master here, and we will get around to it again because he continues to have an economics crush on Carly (Clean Getaway) Fiorina, but, before we get around to the weekly accounting of his customary gobshitery, we have to throw him some props. His staff somehow having managed to pry the reclusive John McCain out of his desert cloister, Gregory nearly got McCain’s cranium to detonate. The topic, inevitably, was Benghazi, BENGHAZI!, BENGHAZI!!!!111111, and the Dancin’ Master finally got around to asking the simple question of what in the hell McCain has been bellowing about for the last five months.

“I’m asking you, a cover up of what?”

And, well, boom goes the cerebellum.

“Do you care, David? Do you care, David? I’m asking you, do you care whether four Americans died? The reasons for that? And shouldn’t people be held accountable for the fact that four Americans died, including a very dear man?”

Far be it from me to correct the grammar of an elderly gentleman who’s clearly in the middle of an “episode,” but is McCain implying here that the other three Americans killed in the attack on the embassy were not “very dear men”? What does McCain mean by this? Why does he care less about the other three people who were killed? Why are they not “very dear” to him? THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DEMAND ANSWERS TO THIS!!!!!!!!

One might think that this would be enough for the bookers to lose McCain’s phone number for a while, until tempers cool and the dosages are adjusted. I am not optimistic that this will be the case, however.

Another interesting dream

I was trying to get an additional closet built on the other side of an alcove in my bedroom (I don’t actually have one, but my parents did), and someone promised to build one for me, but abandoned it when they barely started. Then I walk back in the room to discover that my father arranged to have my brother complete it, and it’s almost finished.

Teabagger Ted

Frank Bruni on what a wingnutty piece of work Sen. Ted Cruz is:

He has an impressive academic résumé: an undergraduate degree from Princeton, followed by law school at Harvard. I’ve talked with his fellow students at Harvard and with his former colleagues from George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. All of them mention how fiercely smart he is.

But the flattery stops there. They remember him as arrogant, sour and self-serving, traits that apply to his brief time in the Senate so far. In questioning Hagel during the nominee’s confirmation hearing, he took a surprisingly, audaciously contemptuous tone.

Separately, in front of an audience of conservatives, he smirked dismissively as he griped that Hagel and John Kerry were “less than ardent fans of the U.S. military.” Those two men fought in Vietnam, and earned Purple Hearts; Cruz never served in the institution he purports to regard so much more highly than they do.

ONLY three senators voted against Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state. Cruz was among them.

He has an affinity for opposing, a yen for obstructing. He belonged to the minority of 22 senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, which passed with 78 votes. He also voted against suspending the debt ceiling for three months and against aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

I’m not gonna worry about this Texas turd. These assholes always overdose on their own hubris.

Early warning

Well, if they won’t fund the deflection system, at least we’ll know when they’re coming so we can get out of the way:

With the aid of a $5-million grant from NASA, a University of Hawaii team of astronomers is developing ATLAS, a system to identify dangerous asteroids before their final plunge to Earth.

The team is on track to build and operate an asteroid detection system that will patrol the visible sky twice a night looking for faint objects moving through space.

ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System) will operate up to 8 small telescopes, each fitted with cameras of up to 100 megapixels, on mounts housed at one or two locations in the Hawaiian Islands.

Astronomers expect the system to be fully operational by the end of 2015.

Astronomer John Tonry compared ATLAS’s sensitivity to detecting a match flame in New York City when viewed from San Francisco.

The team predicts the system will offer a one-week warning for a 50-yard diameter asteroid or “city killer” and three weeks for a 150 yard-diameter “county killer.”

“That’s enough time to evacuate the area of people, take measures to protect buildings and other infrastructure, and be alert to a tsunami danger generated by ocean impacts,” Tonry said.

Site Meter