Prison Sentences Based On Crimes That The Perp Is Likely To Commit In The Future

This is some scary Big Brother shit right here: Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system may soon allow judges to sentence convicts based on crimes they haven’t committed but are likely to in the future. The Marshall Project investigates:

Criminal sentencing has long been based on the present crime and, sometimes, the defendant’s past criminal record. In Pennsylvania, judges could soon consider a new dimension: the future.Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign.

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Marduk (CC). Note the similarity to Bentham's Panopticon.

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Marduk (CC). Note the similarity to Bentham’s Panopticon.

 

Risk assessments have existed in various forms for a century, but over the past two decades, they have spread through the American justice system, driven by advances in social science.

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Live Like a Mighty River: A letter from poet Ted Hughes

Plath, Hughes, and their son Nicholas

Plath, Hughes, and their son Nicholas.

Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath’s husband, wrote this letter to their son, Nicholas Hughes in 1986. 23 years later, Nicholas tragically took his own life after suffering through a particularly terrible bout of depression.

via Letters of Note | Source: Letters of Ted Hughes

Dear Nick,

I hope things are clearing. It did cross my mind, last summer, that you were under strains of an odd sort. I expect, like many another, you’ll spend your life oscillating between fierce relationships that become tunnel traps, and sudden escapes into wide freedom when the whole world seems to be just there for the taking. Nobody’s solved it. You solve it as you get older, when you reach the point where you’ve tasted so much that you can somehow sacrifice certain things more easily, and you have a more tolerant view of things like possessiveness (your own) and a broader acceptance of the pains and the losses.… Read the rest

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The Climate Deception Dossiers

Thanks to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists – we know that the fossil fuel industry never believed the denial science that they’ve been funding for the last 30 years. The report shows that as early as 1981 – ExxonMobil was having internal discussions about the climate impacts of one particularly large extraction project. That’s almost seven years before NASA scientist James Hansen testified about the threat of a warming world to Congress. And in 1995 – a memo circulated among companies that said that climate change is caused by burning their products – and that the relevant science is “well established and cannot be denied” So the industry knew that their actions were driving the planet to a crisis – and they did nothing to avoid it. And when scientists and the public cried out – they spread lies to cover their guilt. The simple fact is – we wouldn’t be facing such a dire crisis if we had taken action when the companies first knew that burning fossil fuels drives climate change.… Read the rest

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10 Nordic Principles for a Hyperconnected Planet

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The Nordic think tank, Demos Helsinki, has created 10 principles for the so-called “Internet of Things.”

Here are the first three:

Planet Earth is becoming hyperconnected. This transformation is called the Internet of Things, Connected Devices, Programmable World, and many other names. As a result, we are at a major crossroad. What are the conditions under which this change becomes the guiding development of our time? How can we support positive change and use technology to create a better world?

Demos Helsinki has identified 10 principles to guide development towards a hyperconnected, sustainable planet. Our claim is that if these principles are not followed, our hyperconnected planet will have a more dystopian than utopian future.

We’re using the principles to construct an index for comparing nations, cities, and companies, and providing them with recommendations about how to do this correctly.

I. The Parity principle

In order for hyperconnectedness to be a truly significant development, it has to play its part in solving the grand challenges of our times – It must solve bigger problems than it causes.

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Girl Stabbed at Israeli Gay Pride March Dies

Shira Banki

Shira Banki

Via Al Jazeera English:

A teenage girl stabbed along with five other people at a Jerusalem Gay Pride parade by a suspect identified as an Ultra-Orthodox Jew has died, according to a hospital statement.

Hadar Elboim of the city’s Hadassah Medical Centre said the 16-year-old succumbed to her wounds on Sunday and that her organs would be donated.

Shira Banki had been in critical condition since being stabbed in the back during Thursday’s march. The five other victims suffered various degrees of injuries.

The suspect, Yishai Shlissel, was arrested at the scene.

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Inside the Goth Chicken: Black Bones, Black Muscle & a Black Heart

I have a feeling that more than a couple of disinfonauts are going to want a Goth Chicken, profiled here by Nautilus:

In the historical novel The Black Tulip, written by Alexandre Dumas, an honest and decent Dutch tulip fancier is nearly brought to ruin by his quest to breed a purely black flower. More precisely, his misadventure is due to the dastardly schemes of his neighbor, who, frantic with spite and jealousy over the plants, frames him for a political crime and gets him thrown in jail. The potboiler plot is ridiculously overheated, but Dumas got one thing exactly right: People will go nuts over the desire to possess a living thing in a strange and beautiful color.

Ayam cemani.jpg

Goth Chicken (Ayam cemani) by Kangwira (CC)

 

Almost 400 years after the Dutch tulip craze drove prices of some flowers to ridiculous heights, legions of U.S. poultry fanciers are now obsessing over another unusual breeding product: a chicken called the Ayam Cemani.

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The Revolt Against the Ruling Class

A recent Bernie Sanders rally in Minneapolis, MN. (Credit: Bernie Sanders Campaign)

A recent Bernie Sanders rally in Minneapolis, MN. (Credit: Bernie Sanders Campaign)

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.

“He can’t possibly win the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified.

Political insiders don’t see that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades.

In two very different ways, Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt. I’ll explain the two ways in a moment.

Don’t confuse this for the public’s typical attraction to candidates posing as political outsiders who’ll clean up the mess, even when they’re really insiders who contributed to the mess.

What’s new is the degree of anger now focused on those who have had power over our economic and political system since the start of the 1980s.

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Nick Bostrom & Ray Kurzweil – Could Our Universe Be a Fake?

A word from the experts…

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, creator and host, “Closer To Truth” via Space.com:

It’s like the movie “The Matrix,” Bostrom said, except that “instead of having brains in vats that are fed by sensory inputs from a simulator, the brains themselves would also be part of the simulation. It would be one big computer program simulating everything, including human brains down to neurons and synapses.”

Bostrom is not saying that humanity is living in such a simulation. Rather, his “Simulation Argument” seeks to show that one of three possible scenarios must be true (assuming there are other intelligent civilizations):

  1. All civilizations become extinct before becoming technologically mature;
  2. All technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating simulations;
  3. Humanity is literally living in a computer simulation.

His point is that all cosmic civilizations either disappear (e.g., destroy themselves) before becoming technologically capable, or all decide not to generate whole-world simulations (e.g., decide such creations are not ethical, or get bored with them).

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Human Rights Organisation Calls for Decriminalizing Prostitution

el-toro (CC BY 2.0)

el-toro (CC BY 2.0)

Michaela Whitton via antimedia:

(ANTIMEDIAUnited Kingdom —Amnesty International is facing an intense backlash after announcing its intention to adopt a policy supporting the decriminalization of sex work. The organisation’s recently released “Draft Policy on Sex Work” will be considered at Amnesty’s main decision making forum, the International Council Meeting (ICM), in Dublin later this week.

The policy essentially endorses the full decriminalization of the sex industry, including the legalisation of pimps, brothels and the purchase of sex. It also acknowledges that Amnesty’s position on trafficking and the criminalisation of forced prostitution has not changed.

Within 24 hours of the proposed policy being announced, an international grassroots campaign was launched urging Amnesty to stand with those exploited in the sex trade. A wave of scathing criticism and dismay was unleashed by an array of human rights groups, celebrities, and organisations.

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Ahimsa for All the Cecil-the-Lions of the World

This post originally appeared on Consciousness is Everything.

The Cecil the Lion issue happening in the news has had a predictably polarizing effect. Here’s what this swami thinks. Below I quote a Facebook friend who prompted me to address the issue:

I don’t understand the desire to kill an animal for sport. It’s not an accomplishment; you’ve got a gun.

cecil3
My response:

I understand it. I disapprove, but I understand. As a kid with a bb gun, a logical leap (even if based on poor logic) of testing my skills was shooting birds. The first time I ever shot a bird, it was a robin. When I had hit it, I ran up to it and picked it up. Seeing and feeling this other creature die in my hands because of me, my stomach sank and I knew everything about it was wrong. But I also had this conflicting sense of urgency to hone hunting and survival skills; for what reason I don’t know.… Read the rest

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