The Sex Offender Next Door

Aug 28 2014 @ 4:01pm
by Dish Staff

Jesse Singal argues that registered sex offenders should be able to live wherever they please:

[L]aws designed to restrict where sex offenders can live are really and truly useless, except as a means of politicians scoring easy political points by ratcheting up hysteria. There are many tricky social-scientific issues on which there are a range of opinions and some degree of debate among experts, but this isn’t one of them. Among those whose job it is to figure out how to reduce the rate at which sex offenders commit crimes (as opposed to those whose job it is to get reelected, in part by hammering away at phantom threats), there is zero controversy: These laws don’t work, and may actually increase sexual offenders’ recidivism rates.

As for where sex offenders do live, Alyssa Coppelman interviews Noah Rabinowitz, who photographed a Florida religious community the majority of whose residents are part of that population:

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A Poem For Thursday

Aug 28 2014 @ 3:42pm
by Alice Quinn


Our last selection from Samuel Daniel’s sonnet sequence, To Delia:

When winter snows upon thy sable hairs,
And frost of age hath nipped thy beauties near,
When dark shall seem thy day that never clears,
And all lies withered that was held so dear,
Then take this picture which I here present thee,
Limned with a pencil not all unworthy;
Here see the gifts that God and nature lent thee,
Here read thyself and what I suffered for thee.
This may remain thy lasting monument,
Which happily posterity may cherish;
These colors with thy fading are not spent,
These may remain when thou and I shall perish.
If they remain, then thou shalt live thereby;
They will remain, and so thou canst not die.

For background and context, read my introduction to the first poem from Daniel we featured here.

(Photo by Shaun Fisher)

The Path To Legalization In DC

Aug 28 2014 @ 3:24pm
by Dish Staff

Jon Walker finds a silver lining to gridlock on the Hill:

[L]ast month the House approved the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill with a policy rider from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) which would prevent D.C. from using funds to implement marijuana reform. It was designed to stop Initiative 71, a local marijuana legalization ballot measure which is expected to win with strong support from D.C. voters this November.

Because of this historic level of dysfunction in Congress this particular appropriations bill is likely to die and all its policy riders will die with it. Instead Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) expects that when Congress briefly returns next month they will just pass a clean (meaning policy rider-free) continuing resolution to cover all funding issues until after the election. Professional budget watcher Stan Collender expects that continuing resolution to be followed by yet another one in November to maintain the status quo well into 2015.

He adds that, “At minimum, pushing any final fight about Congress interfering in D.C.’s marijuana laws until after the election should make it politically more difficult to do so.” In a post from earlier this month, Walker laid out why he’s looking forward to DC’s legalization fight:

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by Dish Staff

While the White House views the operation to break the siege on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq as a success, Spencer Ackerman, Mona Mahmood and Kenton Powell report that as many as 4,000 displaced Yazidis remain on the mountain and are looking for help in driving out the ISIS militants who still threaten their homeland:

The Pentagon estimated two weeks ago that 4,000 to 5,000 people remained on the mountain, and says it cannot offer a more current estimate. The US Agency for International Development assesses that perhaps 2,000 people do not intend to leave. The United Nations mission to Iraq pegged the residual population at “a few hundred who did not want to leave,” said spokeswoman Eliana Nabaa. Although Barack Obama said US warplanes and Kurdish forces “broke the siege of Mount Sinjar,” Isis fighters remain, confronted by a small and desperate Yazidi force. “We need weapons now more than food or water,” Salim Hassan, a Yazidi fighter on Mount Sinjar, told the Guardian.

Ford Sypher provides a grim update on the Yazidi women who were kidnapped by ISIS, who are reportedly being sold as sex slaves or subjected to gang rape in the Mosul prison where they are held:

Survivors who managed to escape from ISIS say the women held in its prison in Mosul face two fates: Those who convert to Islam are sold as brides to Islamist fighters for prices as low as $25, and ranging up to $150. Those who do not convert face daily rape and a slow death.

Accounts of the prison have come from women who managed to hide their cellular phones, calling relatives to describe their plight. Some imprisoned women have been forced by militants to call their families. The mother of one woman still held captive told The Daily Beast about the call she received from her daughter. She was forced to listen as her daughter detailed being raped by dozens of men over the course of a few hours. Still other women testified that multiple children had been born under these conditions, with the newborns ripped away from their mother’s arms to fates unknown.

by Dish Staff


Dish alum Katie Zavadski brings us up to speed on a tragic story:

A young girl sporting pink shorts and a long braid fatally shot her gun instructor on Monday, after the weapon she was firing recoiled in her hands. Charles Vacca, 39, died at a Las Vegas hospital that night. The 9-year-old child, whose name has not been released, was on vacation with her parents when they stopped by a gun range. The range allows children as young as 8 to shoot weapons, provided that they are accompanied by an adult.

Charles Cooke, no enemy of the second amendment, observes that normally “smaller people — especially children — are restricted to smaller weapons that are commensurate with their size”:

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The Media’s Racial Slant

Aug 28 2014 @ 2:19pm
by Dish Staff

Alexis Sobel Fitts highlights evidence of it:

In a study of the Chicago broadcast media, a research team found that black defendants were more likely than defendants of other races to be shown through a mugshot rather than a personal picture or none at all. Another study of television coverage found black suspects are twice as likely as white suspects to be shown on camera under police restraint. While it’s difficult to pinpoint whether a particular suspect is being covered more harshly because of their race, taken in tandem this data points to a dangerous precedent: Black men are easily perceived as criminals, disproportionately to the rate they may be committing crimes.

It’s a similar framing to “Missing White Girl Syndrome,” a name coined to reflect the deluge of coverage when a young, affluent, white female goes missing—and the dearth of coverage when children of color disappear. Entities like the “Black and Missing Foundation” and shows like TVOne’s Find Our Missing are attempts to fill in the gap publicizing missing children who are not white. Scanning the faces of the missing children on these sites comes closer to the reality of the racial breakdown of missing persons: About 34 percent of missing persons overall, and 37 percent of missing minors, are black, according to FBI statistics from 2013. Who media coverage chooses to cast as victims, and what victims—like Brown—don’t fit neatly into the role, has a powerful effect on the mindset of the public who watch these reports and take with them a subliminal idea of what someone who might be victimized looks like.

by Dish Staff


Evidence is mounting that Russia has launched an outright invasion of Ukraine:

In Brussels, a Nato military officer told Reuters that the alliance believes there are now more than 1,000 Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied it is fighting in Ukraine, and speaking after the Minsk negotiations, Putin said that a solution to the crisis in east Ukraine is “not our business; it is a domestic matter for Ukraine itself”. He said all Russia could do was “support the creation of an environment of trust”. … Russia’s denials appear increasingly flimsy.

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An Actual Exit from Climate Hell

Aug 28 2014 @ 1:23pm
by Bill McKibben

Earlier today I went after libertarians for their troubles with climate change. But it’s conservatives in general that have been the real hypocrites here, given that the least conservative thing you can possibly imagine would be running the temperature of the earth way out of the range where human civilization has previously thrived. And the irony is, some of the most obvious ways out are… kinda conservative. Or at least should appeal to conservatives who are not, in reality, shills for the fossil fuel industry. Yes, given that we’ve delayed as long as we have we need a big government effort to put in renewable energy, and yes we need wholesale shifts in who holds power (the key new text on climate change will be Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, due for release next month). We also need to provide massive aid for the countries we’ve endangered by our unchecked carbon emissions. But one of the big changes we require is remarkably conservative in nature.

It’s called Cap and Dividend, long proposed in one form or another by the great climate scientist James Hansen and by an excellent advocacy group called the Citizens Climate Lobby. It derives from the work of Peter Barnes, who has a fine new book called With Liberty and Dividends for All. Let today’s Washington Post editorial page explain:

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Don’t Speak, Memory

Aug 28 2014 @ 12:47pm
by Sue Halpern


I’ve been reading various reports (like this one) of the success of a research group at MIT in taking the sting out of bad memories by switching the bad ones with good ones:

“In our day to day lives we encounter a variety of events and episodes that give positive or negative impact to our emotions,” said Susuma Tonegawa, Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at the Riken-MIT Centre for Neural Circuit Genetics.

“If you are mugged late at night in a dark alley you are terrified and have a strong fear memory and never want to go back to that alley.

“On the other hand if you have a great vacation, say on a Caribbean island, you also remember it for your lifetime and repeatedly recall that memory to enjoy the experience.

“So emotions are intimately associated with memory of past events. And yet the emotional value of the memory is malleable. Recalling a memory is not like playing a tape recorder. Rather it is like a creative process.

Granted, the experiments are on mice, but mouse models tend to transfer well-enough to humans that the scientists are hopeful that they are on to something useful. But will it be?

I realize this sounds crazy. Given the chance, who wouldn’t want to erase or in some way circumvent the memory of being mugged? And what about PTSD? The MIT group is hopeful that their technique, when applied to humans, will counter the effects of post traumatic stress.

If the MIT group fails, there still may be hope, courtesy of DARPA, the research arm of the Defense Department, which is developing an implantable chip that intended to lessen the effects of post traumatic stress. According to the Washington Post:

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The Safety Divide

Aug 28 2014 @ 12:32pm
by Dish Staff

Neighborhood Safety

A recent poll measured it:

Only 22 percent of those who identified themselves as nonwhite and live in urban settings said that they feel “very safe” on the streets near their homes at night, compared with nearly twice as many urban whites, some 43 percent. Thirty-four percent of urban minorities said they feel “not too” or “not at all” safe, compared with just 14 percent of urban whites who feel the same way.

The stark disparity in feelings of personal safety was further heightened along gender lines. A mere 10 percent of minority urban women said they felt safe in their neighborhoods after dark, compared with 34 percent of minority urban men, 37 percent of white urban women, and a full 50 percent of white men living in cities.