The Children in America’s Prisons
November 20, 2019
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” – Nelson Mandela
Russia is Winning Wars
Ukraine ‘s President Volodymyr Zelensky has a lot on his plate. Besides being caught up in US domestic politics, something he pointedly did not want to happen, he wants to make a peace deal with Russia that will put an end to the conflict over Crimea that has cost thousands of Ukrainian lives.
Last month Moscow and Kiev agreed to withdraw troops from the front line in eastern Ukraine, and hold elections in the contested region. This week Moscow returned three Ukrainian naval ships it captured in the Kerch Strait a year ago. That gesture was prompted after France said it would host a long-delayed peace summit on December 9, with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.
The sticking point of course is Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. Zelensky’s peace efforts are facing resistance as many Ukrainians, including far-right nationalists, have protested over what they believe is capitulation to Moscow. Specifically, critics fear a vote in separatist-held eastern Ukraine could pave the way for pro-Russian separatists to gain power, making it easier for Moscow to influence Kiev’s domestic and foreign policy.
Tuesday Zelensky said he wants to negotiate a deadline at the December summit for the return of those territories, although President Vladimir Putin has made it clear he regards the territories an integral part of Russia. Some observers question whether Putin even wants to make peace. “While the war in Donbas is ongoing, Ukraine is unlikely to become a member of NATO or the European Union,” one expert said. “It’s unlikely that Ukraine will become a success story. And a weak, unsuccessful Ukraine is a benefit to Russia.”
The US Is West Banking On Israel
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the Trump administration would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. The decision reverses decades of American policy and is seen as a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been pushing for annexation of the Palestinian territory.
- Pompeo said calling the settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law hasn’t worked, and a judicial determination as to who is right or wrong will never bring peace. This is a complicated political problem that can only be settled by negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he said. (NYT)
- Israel Settlers Celebrate Trump’s Policy Shift In Their Direction (WaPo, $)
- Pompeo Calls for Restraint in Hong Kong, and McConnell Asks Trump to Speak Up (NYT, $)
- Mike Pompeo: Last in His Class at West Point in Integrity. The secretary of state’s behavior has been cowardly and self-serving. (NYT, $)
From Schoolhouse Rock To Jailhouse Rock
- On Monday Manfred Nowak, a human rights lawyer based in Vienna, Austria, discussed the UN’s new study on the treatment of children, set to be formally released Tuesday. The release date for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty coincides with the 30th anniversary this week of the UN’s adoption of its Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- The US is the only country in the world that has not ratified the UN treaty on children’s rights; the US also has the highest child incarceration rate in the world. Nowak said the Trump administration’s family separation policy is “absolutely prohibited” by the treaty. “I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children,” he said, adding: “And there are still quite a number of children that are separated from their parents — and neither the children know where the parents are, nor the parents know where the children are.”
- Nowak estimates that the US is currently detaining more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention. (NPR)
- Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine is suing food delivery company DoorDash for engaging in deceptive practices and keeping tips intended for drivers. Racine alleges that between July 2017 and September 2019 DoorDash pocketed millions in tips meant for workers, and mislead customers about where their money was going.
- The company’s policy was to use tips to make up the difference between workers’ base pay and the “guaranteed minimum” pay they would be promised to accept a delivery. But the money essentially went to the company. The tipping policy was changed in August 2019 after backlash from the delivery workers, the press, and the public. (CNBC)
Additional World News
- Russia corruption: Putin’s pet space project Vostochny tainted by massive theft (BBC)
- Earth is Headed for its Second Warmest Year in Recorded History (The Record was Three Years Ago) (TechCrunch) & Nearly all America’s endangered species will struggle to adapt to climate crisis (Guardian)
- US and South Korea end talks on sharing cost for maintaining US troops on Korean peninsula (CNN)
- Two Western Hostages Are Freed in Afghanistan in Deal With Taliban (NYT, $) & Opinion: Afghans’ Growing Demand For Peace Is Key To Ending Decades Of War (NPR)
- ‘Sardines against Salvini’: Italians pack squares in protest against far right (Guardian)
- Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation: Prosecutor says country will not proceed with investigation into WikiLeaks founder (Guardian)
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Can You Hack Me Now? Good.
- In rally after rally during his 2016 campaign, Candidate Donald Trump regaled in audience cries to “Lock Her Up.” The reference was to Hillary Clinton having used a private email server while she was secretary of state. That conduct, according to Trump and his supporters, was such an egregious breach of national security it justified Clinton’s imprisonment.
- Fast forward to 2019. Now you have Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s private attorney, the administration’s informal “cybersecurity adviser” — and currently a key person of interest in the impeachment investigation — running his “irregular channel” of Ukraine diplomacy over open cell lines and communications apps in Ukraine that Russians have deeply penetrated.
- Then there’s Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the EU who whipped out his cell phone at a Kiev restaurant and carried on such a loud conversation with the president that other diners could easily overhear it.
- It’s notable that Russian companies either own or have a significant stake in the cell phone companies in Ukraine.(WaPo, NYT, NBCNews)
What? No Way! This Is A Total Shocker!
- The two correctional officers assigned to guard Jeffery Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan have been charged with multiple counts of falsifying records and conspiracy. Michael Thomas and Tova Noel were supposed to be checking on the wealthy 66-year-old financier every 30 minutes throughout the night. Instead they sat at their desks, browsed the internet and took naps for eight hours, during which time Epstein hung himself in his jail cell.
- After their prisoner was found dead the next morning, the two jailers falsified more than 75 separate round entries, erroneously indicating they had checked on the prisoner as required. Epstein was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges and faced a long prison sentence if convicted; he was known to be a high-risk inmate.
- At a court appearance Tuesday Thomas and Noel pleaded not guilty and were each released on $100,000 bond. (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Ten dead after California sees three mass shootings in four days (Guardian)
- How bad ballot design can sway the result of an election (Guardian)
- Democrats Offer Trump Chance To Testify, And He Says He Might Do It — In Writing (NPR)
- Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Say Impeachment Hearings Won’t Change Their Minds (NPR)
- 114,000 Students in N.Y.C. Are Homeless. These Two Let Us Into Their Lives. (NYT, $)
- Jimmy Finkelstein, the owner of The Hill, has flown under the radar. But he’s played a key role in the Ukraine scandal (CNN)
- Stephen Miller Is a White Nationalist. Does It Matter? Leaked emails from a top Trump aide test our capacity for outrage. (NYT, $)
Naptime Or Not The Time?
- Lack of sleep has been linked to a myriad of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes, along with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. A 2016 analysis conducted by the Rand Corporation found that sleep-deprived workers impact the US economy some $411 billion a year, mostly in lost productivity. Sometimes the issue is a health problem, with one expert estimating that about 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder.
- Regardless, the US government says sleeping in the office is not cool — in fact, it’s banned. Earlier this month the General Services Administration issued a directive that said: “All persons are prohibited from sleeping in federal buildings, except when such activity is expressing authorized by an agency official.” (BBC)
- Should workers be allowed to nap at work? (Daily Pnut says of course—in fact Daily Pnut’s Tim naps all the time. In his words napping is a “force multiplier”) (BBC)
- Why Everyone Should Sleep Alone (Atlantic)
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus
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