"Net neutrality" will be the law of the land following the Federal Communications Commission's vote to reclassify broadband Internet services as public utilities. Please take some time this week to thank the outspoken citizens who made this possible. These heroes of the open Internet are regular folk, just like you and me, with names like Microsoft, eBay, Facebook, Google and Amazon. Congrats to a major industry on its lobbying victory!
Over the past several months, as the culture of brutality at Rikers Island has become harder and harder to ignore, New York's corrections department has gestured toward reform. Incompetent officials resigning, thuggish guards punished when in the past they'd be given high fives and told to keep their mouths shut. We know there's a problem, officials are saying, but we're making it better. Don't believe them.
The men and women of New York's transit workers union are inheriting the worst impulses of their friends at the NYPD. After a city bus driver was arrested last week for running over a 15-year-old girl in a crosswalk—delivering injuries so serious that she may lose her leg—the union complained that the city was treating bus drivers like "criminals." In this case, that's because one of them committed a violent crime.
Robin Steinberg, executive director of the Bronx Defenders, is widely recognized as being extraordinarily good at her job—which is providing criminal defense to those who can't afford it in New York City's poorest borough. But if you're not a criminal justice wonk or civil rights activist, you likely know her chiefly because of a controversial music video in which two of her employees appeared recently. Harvard Law School planned to recognize Steinberg at an event honoring dozens of notable women lawyers next month, but backed out this week after a hit piece about the video in the New York Post.
"Rikers Island is filled with thousands of poor people accused of petty crimes...Their poverty alone imprisons them." The Brooklyn Bail Fund provides bail money to poor defendants. If you're interested in the difference between how rich and poor people experience our legal system, their site has a good explainer.
"Government assistance for families whose incomes flutter just above the poverty line nearly doubled from 1983 to 2004... The numbers look very different for those scraping along at the bottom, generally unemployed single mothers with children. Their benefits declined in real terms by about one-third."
As part of presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's quest to counteract his last name, he released a trove of purportedly personal emails in the name of "transparency." That's nice, but utterly symbolic: The emails he released were from a public-facing account that he used primarily to communicate with random constituents, not to actually govern. It's as though he released his spam inbox and proclaimed it as a window into his soul. If Bush really wants to make a statement, he'll give us the data that actually matters.
As Americans of color have always known—and as the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice last year made abundantly clear—policing in this country is an unequal enterprise. In a speech yesterday, FBI Director James Comey stopped just short of admitting that American criminal justice is systematically racist, but he came pretty damn close.
Police in Pasco, Washington, shot and killed Antonio Zambrano-Montes Tuesday after the 35-year-old allegedly threw rocks at a group of officers. A video uploaded to YouTube shows a person who appears to be Zambrano-Montes being shot several times near a busy intersection as he runs away from the police.
A new report (funded by the petroleum industry) says that universities that divest themselves of fossil fuel companies will end up losing money—0.7% a year lower returns, according to the report. Huh. No shit! If divestment gained you money, everyone would do it, and it would have no god damn point.