Study: Half of US adults have had close family member jailed! (Greatest country in the world!!)

A guard tower is seen during a media tour of California"s Death Row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California December 29, 2015The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world

Nearly half of all US adults have had an immediate family member incarcerated at some point in their lives, according to a new study.

Researchers also reported one in seven adults have seen immediate family incarcerated for over a year, with minorities most impacted.

The study by criminal justice non-profit FWD.us and Cornell University surveyed over 4,000 American adults.

Over 2 million Americans are currently in prison in the US.

The report estimates 64% of US adults have had someone in their family spend at least one night in jail or prison.

The study’s authors said it pointed to a nationwide “incarceration crisis”.

“These numbers are stunning, all the more so if you think of them not as numbers but as stories like mine,” Felicity Rose, FWD director said in a foreword to the report.

“One of the worst parts of growing up with a father in and out of prison was the isolation and shame I felt,” she added.

One in five US adults has had a parent incarcerated, according to the study, resulting in serious financial and emotional consequences.

What were the findings?

The study said that 113 million US adults have had an immediate family member incarcerated.

At the time of the research, 6.5 million adults said an immediate family member was currently in jail or prison.

One in seven adults have had a spouse incarcerated; one in eight have had a child locked up. And only one in four are ever able to visit an incarcerated family member.

There was no difference in incarceration rates along political lines, but the researchers did find that people of colour were most negatively impacted.

African American adults were 50% more likely than white Americans to have had a family member jailed, and three times as likely to have family jailed for 10 years or more, found the research.

A woman helps out with a fellow inmate's child at a correctional centre in IllinoisA woman helps out with a fellow inmate’s child at a correctional centre in Illinois

Latino adults were 70% more likely than white Americans to have a loved one incarcerated for over a year.

Low income families were also disproportionately affected, with adults making less than $25,000 (£19,000) a year 61% more likely to have family incarcerated than those earning over $100,000 a year.

And 54% of jailed parents were the breadwinners of their families.

Incarceration rates were highest in the southern and western states, with residents 60% more likely to experience family incarceration than people in the northeast.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the US incarcerates more people per capita than anywhere else in the world.

FWD reports local jails have admitted over 10 million people every year for the past two decades.

Despite recent declines in imprisonment rates, the US still incarcerates 710 people per 100,000.

The UK’s incarceration rate is 147 per 100,000, according to FWD.

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Festive Satanic statue added to Illinois statehouse

A satanic group has added its own statue to a series of displays in the government building of the US state of Illinois to mark the festive season.

Placed between a Christmas tree and a menorah, the four-foot sculpture depicts a snake coiled around an outstretched arm holding an apple.

It’s the first display sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the Temple of Satan.

The state government said the temple had the same right as other religious groups to have a display.

“Under the Constitution, the First Amendment, people have a right to express their feelings, their thoughts,” Dave Druker, spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state, told the State Journal-Register. “This recognises that.”

The move has been criticised on social media by Illinois Family Action, an anti-abortion pressure group.

Past decorations in the statehouse rotunda, in the state capital Springfield, have included a “Festivus” pole – a reference to a fictional holiday which was the subject of an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld.

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What is the Satanic Temple?

Founded in 2012 in Salem, Massachusetts, the Temple of Satan describes itself as a non-theistic group that aims to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people”.

It says its uses satanic imagery to promote the separation of church and state and to campaign for “practical common sense and justice”.

It has 15 official chapterhouses in the US, the biggest of which is based in Michigan.

The temple was started by Harvard graduate Doug Mesner, known as “Lucien Greaves”, and an individual known as “Malcolm Jerry”.

In a speech, Mr Greaves said the group had had “thousands” of membership applications since the election of US President Donald Trump in 2016.

Earlier this year, members of a Satanic Temple placed a statue of Baphomet – a goat-like deity associated with Satanism – outside Arkansas’ statehouse during a First Amendment rally.

The group also settled a $50m copyright lawsuit against Netflix and Warner Bros last month over a statue of Baphomet used in the TV series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

CNN fires Commentator Marc Lamont Hill after criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

CNN: Facts first, just not on Israel

CNN firing commentator Marc Lamont Hill exposes yet another layer of mainstream media’s bias and lack of objectivity.Last week, the US mainstream media demonstrated once again that it has a Palestine problem. CNN suspended the contract of commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after he gave a speech at the United Nations in which he criticised the Israeli occupation and the abuse of Palestinian rights.

Hill based his speech very much on facts. He cited Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians; the use of arbitrary violence by the Israeli security apparatus; the use of torture against Palestinian detainees; the denial of due process to Palestinians by Israeli courts; the restriction on movement in the occupied territories, etc – all violations that have been well-documented and condemned by the UN and a myriad of human rights organisations.

Yet CNN, which last year adopted a new slogan – “Facts first” – did not seem to agree with these facts. After pro-Israel organisations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the speech, the TV station was quick to sever its ties with Hill.

While CNN did not announce why it chose to do so, it is clear to many of us it caved in to pressure from pro-Israel groups. Hill was accused of being anti-Semitic for using the phrase “free Palestine from the river to the sea”, which supposedly is a “Hamas slogan” and a call for the destruction of Israel. Well, it is neither.

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Throwing accusations of anti-Semitism at people criticising Israel and supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination is a convenient tool of the Zionist lobby. But calling for the freedom of Palestinians and for the recognition of their rights is not anti-Semitic; it is pro-Palestinian.

Conflating anti-Semitism with pro-Palestinian positions and criticism of Israel is not only ill-intentioned but also dangerous, as it does a disservice to Jews who have faced hate speech and hate attacks.

In Palestine, the Israeli authorities have brought this tactic to the extreme and have already passed a number of laws curbing freedom of speech. This means that those of us who dare criticise Israeli policy or call for resistance to Israeli occupation, even if in the form of a poem, face the risk of imprisonment.

In the United States, those who do so clearly face the risk of being fired, as in the case of Professor Hill and as in the case of many others before him- and probably many others after. The way CNN (mis)handled this situation offers us an opportunity to discuss how media organisations succumbing to Israel’s campaign of silencing critics is particularly problematic.

 

 

 

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Emantic Bradford Jr: Alabama man killed ‘shot three times in back’ by local police; POW! POW! POW!

A man wrongly killed by police in an Alabama mall was shot three times from behind, an autopsy has revealed.

Emantic Bradford Jr, known as EJ, was shot in the head, neck and hip at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama.

Police had identified him as the gunman in the shooting of an 18-year-old man and 12-year-old girl last month.

But they later admitted they were mistaken and have since arrested another man. Erron Brown, 20, handed himself in to police.

According to an autopsy requested by Bradford’s family, a police officer shot the 21-year-old three times from behind.

Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing Bradford’s family, reportedly told a news conference that based on the autopsy, “this officer should be charged with a crime”.

“There’s nothing that justifies him shooting EJ as he’s moving away from him.”

The officer responsible has been placed on administrative leave, and an investigation is under way.

Riverside Galleria in Hoover, AlabamaThe shooting took place at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama

However, authorities have given scant details about the case, and are refusing to release body camera footage of the incident.

In a joint statement reported by broadcaster ABC News, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato and police chief Nicklaus Derzis said disclosing such evidence could “jeopardise the integrity” of the investigation.

Bradford was carrying a weapon at the time of the shooting, for which he had a permit. Police said he “heightened the sense of threat” at the scene by drawing his gun after shots rang out at the mall.

Under Alabama gun law, it is not illegal to carry a gun in public, but the Riverchase Galleria prohibits firearms on its premises.

Paris fuel riots: Macron calls urgent security meeting; state of emergency (martial law) may be imposed.

A vandalised statue of Marianne, a symbol in France, seen inside the Arc de Triomphe after Paris riotsA statue of Marianne, a symbol in France, was vandalised inside the Arc de Triomphe

French President Emmanuel Macron is chairing an urgent security meeting, following a day of riots by hundreds of anti-government protesters.

A government spokesperson said a state of emergency could be imposed to tackle the unrest.

Protests over fuel tax have grown into general anger at higher living costs.

Police said another person died in the protests bringing to three the number of fatalities since the demonstrations started more than two weeks ago.

Saturday’s protests centred on Paris, where some demonstrators have remained peaceful, but others clashed with police and scaled the Arc de Triomphe.

More than 100 people were injured in the capital, including 23 members of the security forces.

Police say more than 400 people were arrested.

Mr Macron returned from the G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday morning and went straight to the Arc de Triomphe to assess the damage.

He is meeting the prime minister, interior minister and top security service officials at the presidential palace.

Dozens of people were injured in Saturday’s clashes

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio that a state-of-emergency declaration was a possible option. “We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” he said.

A picture shows charred cars in a street of Paris on December 2, 2018, a day after clashes during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs

Who are the protesters?

The protesters are known as the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests), because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.

Their core complaint is a hike in diesel taxes. President Macron says his motivation for the increase is environmental, but protesters call him out of touch – particularly with non-city dwellers who rely on their cars.

France fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests?

The protest movement has no identifiable leadership and has gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in between.

Nearly 300,000 people took part in the first country-wide demonstration, on 17 November.

Trump-Russia: Five big things Mueller is looking at

Robert Mueller walks through the halls of Congress.

After a lull around the mid-term elections, Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is accelerating again. But where does it go from here?

Former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s plea deal was the exclamation point at the end of a week that gave numerous hints and indications of where the special counsel’s office may be focusing its efforts in the days to come.

Here are five potential lines of inquiry Mr Mueller could be pursuing and why.

Trump tower meeting

It’s been more than 16 months since the first public disclosure of the 9 June, 2016, Trump Tower meeting between a Russian team lead by lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner – three of the top members of the Trump campaign.

The meeting has continued to loom in the background as either a smoking gun of collusion in plain view or campaign business as usual, depending on who’s doing the talking.

Although Mr Mueller reportedly learned about the meeting at the same time as the rest of America, it’s now clearly a point of interest in the special counsel’s larger investigation into possible co-operation or co-ordination between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Donald Trump Jr speaks at a mid-term campaign event in Texas.Donald Trump Jr was told the Russian government supported his father’s presidential campaign

According to multiple media outlets, the special counsel’s office asked the president about whether he had advanced knowledge of the meeting in written questions that Mr Trump answered last week.

The president supposedly denied – as he has in public – any prior knowledge of the Trump tower get-together, which was presented to his son as both part of an effort by the Russian government to help the Trump campaign and an opportunity to gain “incriminating information” about Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

If the Trump Tower meeting is evidence of the Trump campaign team’s interest in gaining information from Russia, the big question becomes what – if anything – happened next.

Ms Veselnitskaya is reported to have ties to senior members of the Russian government. It would not require a significant leap of faith to conclude that the Trump team’s openness to Russian help eventually made it back to those government officials.

Trump Jr responded to word that Russia had dirt on Mrs Clinton with: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer”. A few months later, according to Mr Mueller, Russians were disseminating damaging information about Mrs Clinton and the Democrats.

Now Mr Mueller is asking questions about the meeting. He’s also had an on-again, off-again co-operation agreement with Mr Manafort, who was in the room for that Trump Tower meeting.

It could be a sign the special counsel knows more than he’s letting on. Or it could mean there’s more he wants to learn. Either way, the Trump Tower meeting is at the centre of it all.

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The WikiLeaks connection

One of this week’s big reveals, in the form of a leaked draft plea agreement, was how closely the special counsel team is looking at possible ties between WikiLeaks and those connected with the Trump presidential campaign.

In previous court filings, Mr Mueller identified WikiLeaks as the chosen means by which Russian hackers distributed politically damaging documents and emails it had purloined from Democratic Party and Clinton campaign sources.

Now, per the draft agreement offered to conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, the special counsel’s office is looking into efforts by long-time Trump associate Roger Stone to reach out to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Julian Assange stands on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionA special counsel indictment says Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks was the outlet chosen by Russia to distribute hacked documents

The agreement, in which Mr Corsi would have admitted to lying to investigators, included reference to multiple Stone emails, as well as a Corsi reply that told of WikiLeaks document dumps to come.

There have also been multiple news reports of contacts during the 2016 campaign between the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, and WikiLeaks.

There is still no concrete evidence that Mr Stone, Trump Jr or anyone else with ties to the Trump campaign knew about the hacked Democratic emails before they were publicly released. But the Corsi information shows Mr Mueller is digging in that direction.

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The Moscow deal

Mr Trump has insisted, accurately, that there’s no law or rule against exploring foreign business dealings while running for president. It’s not an issue that comes up very frequently, of course, but then-candidate Trump was clear that he wasn’t putting his financial interests on hold while seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

In fact, his claims of business acumen were a central part of his presidential campaign.

Michael Cohen’s plea deal, however, indicates that Mr Mueller and his team are keenly interested in the details of the Trump Organization’s ties to Russia, which the president’s former personal lawyer is now saying stretched well into the heart of the 2016 campaign season.

That Mr Cohen felt compelled to lie to Congress about the extent of these ties – out of what he says was loyalty to Mr Trump and a desire to be consistent with his “political messaging” – could be an indication that there is more to Mr Trump’s Russian business dealings than are currently known by the public.

The president calls his ex-lawyer and fixer a liar and “weak person”.

At the very least it makes clear that Mr Cohen communicated directly with an assistant to Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov – opening yet another potential line of communication between the Trump team and Russia. In addition a Cohen associate, Felix Sater, was relaying messages from Mr Peskov, who until now had denied any such contacts.

Again, there’s no clear evidence that Mr Trump or those close to him engaged in any misconduct. But it also is clear that as recently as June 2016 Mr Trump’s organisation was seeking to profit from Russian business dealings and reportedly considered offering Mr Putin a $50m penthouse in the planned Moscow Trump Tower.

The Cohen revelations aren’t the first indication that Mr Mueller has been “zeroing in” on Mr Trump’s business empire – something the president once said would be a red line the special counsel shouldn’t cross.

Taken with other reports, however – including that US attorneys in Manhattan have given immunity to long-time Trump Organization accountant Allen Weisselberg – it’s clear evidence that the Trump business empire is directly under the microscope.

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James Comey’s firing

One area that hasn’t come up in any of Mr Mueller’s court filings to date are allegations that Mr Trump or those close to him in the White House engaged in efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Exhibit A in this case, according to the president’s critics, is his April 2017 firing of James Comey after what Mr Comey said were his efforts to pressure the FBI director to pledge his loyalty and back off an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

They point to a comment in an interview Mr Trump made shortly after the firing that the move was made with “the Russia thing” in mind and the remark to Russian officials in the Oval Office that removing Mr Comey relieved “great pressure” on him.

James Comey and Donald Trump shake hands in 2017.Robert Mueller could view Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey as an effort to obstruct the Russia investigation

Other bits and pieces of evidence include Mr Trump’s very public criticism of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose recusal from the Russia investigation he views as leading to Mr Mueller’s appointment, and the president’s reported effort to fire Mr Mueller last June.

It’s an open question as to whether a president can be charged with obstruction of justice – or if adjudicating such a matter rests solely in the hands of Congress through the impeachment and removal process. Mr Mueller is said to be looking into the matter, however, although a denouement may have to wait until a final, comprehensive report at the conclusion of the investigation.

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Russian cyber-warfare

Overlooked in the flurry of revelations of the past few weeks and the “Sturm und Drang” arising from Mr Trump’s repeated criticisms of the special counsel investigation is the fact that Mr Mueller has already laid out extensive details about the nature and extent of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

In a one-two punch of indictments, Mr Mueller detailed Russian use of social media to create false narratives and sow discord in the political process, on-the-ground activities that included information-gathering by Russian operatives and financial support for rallies and protestors during the election season, and the targeted efforts to hack computer systems and emails of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign officials.

The crimes alleged by the special counsel’s office are nothing short of cyber-warfare waged against US institutions at the direction of a foreign government. There’s always the chance that more charges will be filed.

Trump voter: ‘They all break the law’

A total of 25 Russian nationals and three Russian organisations have been indicted so far. And given that none of the individuals are in US custody, chances are slim that they will ever face a day in court.

One of the indicted companies, Concord Management and Consult, is contesting the charges in US court, however. At the moment, it is engaged in a legal battle to gain access to information the US government considers “sensitive,” which it lawyers say could aid in their defence.

According to some national security experts, the move could be a Russian effort to bog down the special counsel office or even gather valuable information about the inner workings of Mr Mueller’s investigation.

If this case ever makes it to trial, it could become the source of some unexpected drama that lasts well beyond the main fireworks of the Russia probe.

US life expectancy DROPS as drug and suicide deaths rise in the land of liberty!

On average, the US population can expect to live around 78 years – nearly a decade less than the world’s highest life expectancy rate.

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Life expectancy in the US has dropped once again, thanks in part to rising suicide and drug overdose rates, according to new government reports.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found nearly 70,000 more Americans died in 2017 than 2016, with rising rates of death among 25- to 44-year-olds.

Thursday’s reports revealed synthetic opioid-related overdose death rates rose by 45% on average, nationwide.

The suicide rate is also the highest it has been in decades.

Americans can expect to live just over 78 years and six months on average – a 0.1 year drop from 2016, according to the report released on Thursday.

“Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” said CDC director Robert Redfield in a statement.

“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

The top 10 leading causes of death – including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and suicide – were the same as in 2016, accounting for the majority of deaths.

Only cancer death rates decreased by 2.1%, while the rates for most other causes increased.

US women continue to outlive men, and the death rate did decrease among 45- to 54-year-olds.

Between 2016 and 2017, mortality rates also decreased for black women, and there was no significant change in rates for black men and Hispanic Americans.

Life expectancy in the US began dropping in 2015.

Monaco and Japan currently have the longest life expectancies in the world at 89 and 85 years. The UK’s life expectancy is around 80 years.

The deadly truth of new drugs cocktail

Drug death rate up 16% per year

As the US grapples with an opioid crisis, overdoses claim more and more lives, the CDC report found. The age-adjusted death rate has gone up 16% per year since 2014.

Drug overdose deaths accounted for 70,237 deaths last year – nearly 10% higher than in 2016 – with a significantly higher rate of death among men, compared to women.

The death rate from overdoses caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased by 45% in one year.

West Virginia saw the highest overdose death rate in 2017 at 58 per 100,000 people; Ohio, Pennsylvania and the US capital also topped the list.

Emma and Toni’s father took his own life, now they want to help more men speak out.

Steady increase in suicide

The CDC found suicide became the second leading cause of death for 10- to 34-year-olds in 2016, with rates increasing 33% between 1999 and 2017, according to the report.

Urban-area suicide rates were 16% higher in 2017 than 1999, and rural-area suicides increased by 53% over the same time period.

Dr Jerry Reed of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention told the BBC that suicide is not always just a mental health challenge.

“Economic conditions or livelihood opportunities in decline could lead people to positions where they’re at risk. We need to intervene in both mental and public health cases,” Dr Reed says.

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Where to get help

From Canada or US: If you’re in an emergency, please call 911

You can contact the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741

Young people in need of help can call Kids Help Phone on 1-800-668-6868

If you are in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116123

For support and more information on emotional distress, click here.