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Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday October 30, 2014 4:47 am

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

It’s a good time to make a donation to Firedoglake, to keep this and other discussions going.  The expense is borne by this site, and we all benefit from the diaries that we can post and discussions we can have here.

Cells have been developed in the lab that effectively fight cancer;  research at Harvard has produced a weapon against brain tumors that has been successful in mice and now will move on to tests on humans.

‘In experiments on mice, the stem cells were genetically engineered to produce and secrete toxins which kill brain tumours, without killing normal cells or themselves.’


Dr Khalid Shah, lead author and director of the molecular neurotherapy and imaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the results were very positive.

“After doing all of the molecular analysis and imaging to track the inhibition of protein synthesis within brain tumours, we do see the toxins kill the cancer cells.”

The closing of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has been called ‘a declaration of war’ by Abbas, as Israel for the first time since 1967 prohibited worshipers from entering to worship there.

Both Jewish and Muslim worshipers will be prohibited from visiting the site “until further notice,”Israel’s public security minister said. Following the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “a significant hike” in the number of police forces patrolling Jerusalem, Naharnet daily reports.

Palestinian authorities quickly responded to the move, saying it was a “dangerous and blatant challenge” that would lead to more tension and instability in an already volatile situation.

The failed Antares launch in Wallops Island, VA, may have involved the systems that have been under question for some time and are supplied by Russia, leading to an earlier revision of the design involved..

The company planned to do away with the AJ26 engines by 2017 but will now look at alternatives sooner, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“As most of you know, the AJ26 rocket engines used in that system have presented us with some serious technical and supply challenges in the past,” Orbital chairman and CEO David Thompson said in a conference call with investors and financial analysts.

In May, an AJ26 engine exploded during a test, delaying a prior International Space Station (ISS) mission that was intended to provide the station with fresh supplies.



57 Candidates and Nothing On

By: David Swanson Wednesday October 29, 2014 6:57 pm

I was lucky to attend a debate among the candidates for Congress from Virginia’s Fifth District just before game 7 of the world series. This was the kind of event you can write about while drinking beer and yelling at a television with your family. In fact, I’m not sure there’s any other way you could write about it.

Here are our choices for the House of Misrepresentatives:

The incumbent Robert Hurt, a fairly typically horrendous Republican, if a bit less of a warmonger than his Democratic predecessor, didn’t make a fool of himself at all on Wednesday evening. On the contrary, he disgraced himself by not showing up. Of course, the debate was in the left-leaning corner of a district gerrymandered to keep him in Washington for life, barring a mass movement of a few thousand people for one of his opponents. He would have answered most of the evening’s questions as badly or worse than anyone else there, and that’s saying something. One of the questions, submitted by me on a 3×5 card, was this:

Roughly 53% of federal discretionary spending goes to militarism. How much should?

I doubt very much that Hurt would have answered the question clearly and directly had he been there.

Ken Hildebrandt, an Independent Green who spoke often if vaguely about cutting the military, answered my question by offering arguments that UFOs had visited Roswell. Asked about climate change, he argued that chem-trails from airplanes are manipulating our weather. Pretty much all the other questions he answered: “Hemp.” Hildebrandt is a bit of a mixed bag. He wants progressive taxation but no gun laws. He wants single-payer health coverage but calls it “public option” and claims that life expectancy in the United States is in the 40s. (During the whole debate, neither the moderator nor any candidate ever corrected another’s factual errors, and the opportunities were plentiful.) Hildebrandt wants to stop subsidizing Lockheed and Boeing, but has nothing to say on a lot of topics, seems to think the two men sitting next to him would be about as good in office as he would, runs for office every two years as a routine, has a wife running in the next district, and — less peacefully than one might wish — calls the incumbent a “monster.”

Behind Curtain 2 is Paul Jones, a Libertarian. He said he’d cut military spending in half immediately, that it’s not defensive. “Who’s going to attack us?” he asks. “It’s ludicrous! The reason they would attack us is that we’re over there all the time. . . . Nobody ever wins a war.” Not bad, huh? He wants to end the surveillance state too. Of course, you had to be there to hear him mumble it all. But here’s the downside. He wants that $500,000,000,000 to all go into tax cuts. He also objects to the term “discretionary spending.” It’s all discretionary, he says, no matter what some politician says (such as in a law putting Social Security out of his government-shrinking reach). Also he’d like to cut most of the rest of the government too, including eliminating a bunch of departments — although, unlike Rick Perry, he didn’t attempt to name any of them. He also wants to pay off the debt, use the free market for healthcare (while assisting the poor) and get immigrants to start paying taxes (huh?). He claims no laws can keep guns from criminals or the mentally ill. He claims that India produces more greenhouse gases than the United States.

Last up is Democrat Lawrence Gaughan. He was the most professional, articulate presence. He said he agreed with the other two gentlemen a lot, but it wasn’t clear what he meant. He said he agreed “100%” with Jones on military spending. So, does he want to cut it by 50% right away? Will he introduce a bill to do that? He criticized Hurt for supporting the new war in Iraq. He called the Pentagon a “Department of Offense.” But he said repeatedly that he would cut $1 trillion in military spending, which obviously meant $1 trillion over some number of years, probably at best 10 years, which would mean $100 billion a year. He claimed that the Democratic Party opposes war. And he claimed that his pro-war predecessor Tom Perriello is working with President Obama to reduce overseas bases. (All of this with a very straight face.)

That combination of comments makes Gaughan by far the best Democratic or Republican candidate in this district in living memory, but a bit of a question mark in terms of follow through. Hildebrandt said he wouldn’t have compromised on “public option.” Gaughan said that he both favored “public option” (clearly meaning to say “single payer”) and would have sought a “more bi-partisan solution.” Wow. Gaughan is not even in DC yet and he’s talking as if we’re bothered by “gridlock” more than bad healthcare. He wants to tax corporations and billionaires. He mentions “the 1%” a lot. But he favors a “leaner, more efficient government.” Hildebrandt mentioned publicly financed elections. Gaughan said he wanted to “get the money out of elections” without saying how. He wants immigrants to have a path to citizenship, and he wants to “tighten borders.” He sees the top problem as the concentration of wealth and power, but he sees the root cause of that as low voter turnout (what?). He’s for background checks on guns and recognizing the reality of climate change, but one doesn’t sense a major push for radical transformation. He talks about saving the climate by creating a better America, not a better planet.

Gaughan said he wasn’t taking money from the Democratic Party in Washington. That makes him different from Perriello, who proved very obedient to his “leaders.” No doubt the DCCC isn’t offering money because they don’t think any Democrat has a chance in VA-05. If we were to elect Gaughan, he might not lead Congress toward peace and justice, but he’d come a lot closer to actually meriting the praise that liberal groups gave Perriello, and he just might be answerable to the people who elected him rather than the party that didn’t buy his ticket to Washington. A liberal Democratic Party elections group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is basing its national elect-Democrats work out of Charlottesville, but none of the candidates they’re backing are from Virginia.

On Doug Henwood’s piece about Hillary Clinton

By: cassiodorus Wednesday October 29, 2014 5:13 pm

(also to be found at

So what’s wrong with business as usual?

There has so far been a good deal of controversy about Doug Henwood’s piece (“Stop Hillary“) excoriating Hillary Clinton in the most recent Harper’s magazine (November 2014), and now that this issue can be purchased in newsstands, I feel permitted to comment upon the Henwood piece and the debate so far. Much of this debate dates back to before the Harper’s issue appeared in stores — many of the commentators must either 1) have Harper’s subscriptions or 2) be able to access the piece online somehow. At any rate, this is a summary of the conversation that has occurred so far.

The thesis of Henwood’s piece is in black and white in front: the world is about to experience global warming disaster, and the economy is clearly ailing, but from Hillary Clinton one can expect more of the same. “And that shouldn’t surprise us,” we are told on page 31. So what’s wrong with business as usual? Henwood:

Today we desperately need a new political economy — one that features a more equal distribution of income, investment in our rotting social and physical infrastructure, and a more humane ethic. We also need a judicious foreign policy, and a commander-in-chief who will resist the instant gratification of air strikes and rhetorical bluster.

Is Hillary Clinton the answer to those prayers? It’s hard to think so, despite the widespread liberal fantasy of her as a progressive paragon, who will follow through exactly as Barack Obama did not. In fact, a close look at her life and career is perhaps the best antidote to all those great expectations.

So what does Henwood say about Hillary Clinton’s life and career? Her father was an “authoritarian drillmaster” (32). She was exposed to Martin Luther King, Jr., but campaigned for Goldwater in 1964. Saul Alinsky offered her an organizing job, and she rejected the offer for law school. She argued a case for business interests against ACORN over a ballot measure “that would lower electricity rates for residential users in Little Rock and raise them for commercial users.” (33) She tried to organize a health care initiative that was “very high-minded, and good for her image, but of limited impact.” She supported the Welfare Bill of 1996. She was involved, with Bill, in what was later to be called the Whitewater scandal. She passed a lot of symbolic legislation as a Senator from New York, while “mak(ing) friends with her Republican colleagues.” (36) She “backed an escalation of the Afghanistan war, lobbied on behalf of a continuing military presence in Iraq, urged Obama to bomb Syria, and supported the intervention in Syria.” (37) There is a summary of this piece at Huffington Post.

Henwood, then, portrays Hillary Clinton as a standard-issue neoliberal, and so if we are to judge her from her record we can expect a standard-issue Democratic Party neoliberal, with lots of symbolism and status quo substance.

I have yet to see a point-by-point encounter with this piece that refutes its factual statements. Oh, sure, Gene Lyons attempted a takedown of Henwood, but Lyons focused upon Henwood’s mentioning of Blackwater, ignoring most of the substance of Henwood’s piece, and he did so in a way that did not quite establish a direct clash with Henwood’s stylistic criticism of Hillary’s penchant for secrecy and evasion. Max Sawicky responds to this.

Scott Lemieux thinks that “there’s a good Clinton critique waiting to be written (but that) this ain’t it.” I am not convinced by Lemieux’s dismissal. In dealing with Henwood’s critique of the status quo Lemieux praises Obama’s record on the environment. Obama has done a few nice, symbolic things for the cause of Obama as an environmental President, such as are well critiqued in ThinkProgress by Joseph Romm. Maybe that’s all he can do. Should we expect more from Hillary Clinton?

Salon has a piece on Henwood’s article which features an interview with Doug Henwood. He says he wrote the piece “to throw a stink bomb into liberals’ [sense of] certainty.” Here Henwood argues about Hillary’s life that “she went from a youthful semi-radicalism (she was never a real ’60s radical) to a sort of early-middle-aged conservatism, at least in style and temperament, pretty quickly.” And, as regards the bigger picture:

It Seems To Never End

By: Isaiah 88 Wednesday October 29, 2014 11:42 am

Kaci Hickox . . .

I had spent a month watching children die, alone. I had witnessed human tragedy unfold before my eyes. I had tried to help when much of the world has looked on and done nothing. I recalled my last night at the Ebola management center in Sierra Leone. I was called in at midnight because a 10-year-old girl was having seizures. I coaxed crushed tablets of Tylenol and an anti-seizure medicine into her mouth as her body jolted in the bed. It was the hardest night of my life. I watched a young girl die in a tent, away from her family.

That’s where Kaci Hickox was, that’s what she was doing while the corporate media incited fear across America, while this country’s posturing politicians and halfwit reporters made shameful spectacles of themselves in front of God and everybody. They’re good at it, they’ve had plenty of practice.

Yes, we heard you FOX. We heard you ABC. We heard you CBS. We heard you NBC.

Be afraid.



That’s the message, that’s the constant message, that’s the never-ending message of the Powers-That-Be.

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist . . .

Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.

Kaci Hickox listened to her heart, and her heart led her to West Africa, one of the rare regions of this world we haven’t gotten around to bombing yet.

Mamma e bambino ricoverati nella maternità dell'ospedale di Pujehun - foto di Luigi Baldelli

(Photo by Medici con l’Africa Cuamm, Flickr Creative Commons)

William Rivers Pitt . . .

Madame Jane predicts: Things are gonna to get worse, much worse

By: Jane Stillwater Wednesday October 29, 2014 10:15 am

My neighbor Madame Jane is not only the world’s most accurate fortune-teller, she is also the most completely-ignored fortune-teller since the beginning of time — except perhaps for Cassandra.  And there is a good reason for this too.  Frankly, Madame Jane is just plain morose.  Nobody wants to be told bad news constantly — even if it is true.  Even I am getting tired of being haunted by Madame Jane’s sad tales of gloom and doom.  And I’ve told her this time and again.

But, suddenly, at 6:00 am this morning, there was Madame Jane again, at my front door, banging fiercely away with her fists and shouting,  “You need to wake up, dearie.  Wake up!  And it’s time for the whole world to wake up too!”

“Well, the whole world is going to have to wait,” I yelled back, “until after I’ve brushed my teeth.”  Plus I’d just finished reading a book called “Fun Is Good” — and Madame Jane is definitely not fun.

But M.J. was having none of it.  “Things are never going to get better in America,” she yelled through the door.  “I have just returned from the future.  Things are only going to get worse.  And right now the only hope of changing this grim future is to band all Americans together as allies, working together in common cause.”

Read my lips.  “I. Don’t. Care.”

“We need to stop anyone who tries to teach Americans to hate each other.  We need to turn off all those attack-ads on TV — and then fight desperately like wolves in a pack so that, in the future, things perhaps might possibly remain the same as they are now and not get any worse.”

Madame Jane took a deep breath and adjusted her wig.

“The wealthy 1% are now shamelessly attacking black people, brown people, old people, children, Muslims, Native Americans, progressive white people, students and women.  Separately these groups are all minorities.  But united together they can all stand tall — like the strong and proud Americans they are.  But will they actually even try to unite to protect themselves from these merciless attacks by the oligarchs?  Not gonna happen.”

No, Madame Jane definitely does not have a fun outlook on life.

But then I suddenly remembered what Mahatma Gandhi used to say.  “You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is like an ocean.  If a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the whole ocean does not have to become dirty.”

So I told that to M.J. — and she just humphed.  “Mahatma Gandhi’s ocean never had to deal with Fukushima.”

“Okay, so the whole world is going to hell in a hand-basket,” I said.  “But so what?  Every human being has got to die sometime anyway and there is no escaping that fact — so what does it matter if our time comes sooner rather than later?  Plus what the freak can I do about any of this freaking mess at freaking 6:00 am in the morning?”

But Madame Jane was completely undeterred.  “You need a  wake-up call!” she cried.  No I don’t.  I need coffee.

“You need to start reading up on what is really happening in the world right now, girly-girl — not just what they tell you on TV.  And after that, you need to go get out in the world and start making some waves.  And even if you are only one drop in an huge ocean, then you need to start making that one drop count.  Because if you and all the other billions of little guys like you don’t do something to stop these dire predictions from happening, then who will?  And then everything that I predict will come true.”

If we snooze, we lose.  Got it.  Now can I go back to bed?

“And America today currently has the most sadistic foreign policy since Genghis Klan — and I can clearly see that America’s foreign policy will be getting even more sadistic in the next 20 years.  That is, if there still is any America left 20 years from now!  With a foreign policy based on mass murder, who can tell how long America can still stay in business without pissing everyone off — including God, Allah, the Buddha and Jesus!”  Yikes!  Has Halloween already arrived?  To stay forever?  Apparently so.

Let’s Ensure Transportation Finance Can Be a Two-Way Street

By: WI Budget Project Wednesday October 29, 2014 9:12 am

An efficient transportation network can’t exist entirely of one-way streets. It needs to be adaptable, with multiple modes of transportation and some areas where traffic flows in different directions. Likewise, the financing for a good transportation network needs flexibility, and it shouldn’t invariably be restricted to one-way flows of revenue.

Next week Wisconsin voters will cast ballots on a proposed constitutional amendment that we think would be too restrictive. Although it would allow state lawmakers to continue to make transfers between many state funds, such as supplementing the Transportation Fund with money from the state’s General Fund, it would prohibit ever moving Transportation Fund revenue in the opposite direction. That would create a double standard for Wisconsin revenue transfers. It would be a mistake to lock an inflexible policy for state budgeting into the Wisconsin Constitution, as this editorial explains.

Some who favor a constitutional amendment point to past transfers that reduced resources for transportation programs. But over the last twelve years, far more has been transferred into the Transportation Fund than has been transferred away from it.

Since the 2003-05 budget period, when the first major transfers occurred, the net gain to the Transportation Fund has been $314 million. This amount includes transfers between the General Fund and the Transportation Fund as well as the cost of General Fund-supported bonds issued for transportation purposes.

In the 2003-05, 2005-07, and 2007-09 budget periods, there was a net loss from the Transportation Fund. That flow of revenue was reversed in the 2009-11, 2011-13, and 2013-15 budget periods, when lawmakers devoted increasingly large amounts of General Fund resources to transportation.

Let’s keep in mind that circumstances change in unexpected ways, and the state often finds that it needs to move money from one pot of funding to another. The proposed constitutional amendment would put one state fund, and only one fund, permanently off limits – elevating transportation spending above all other purposes, regardless of the circumstances. That would unnecessarily restrict the options of future elected officials.

As the WISC-TV editorial said: “Roads will get their due, as they should. But we need not enshrine that fact in the state constitution.”



Cultural Custodians, Capitalists and Cannabis Companies Create Candy Consumption Confusion

By: patrick devlin Wednesday October 29, 2014 5:50 am

Treats, but no tricks

With Halloween creeping up on us, cannabists are being exposed again to the annual defamatory ritual, sprung from the minds of manipulative propagandists, mouthed by local, state and federal police forces and consumed like fun-sized candy bars by ill-informed and scared silly suburbanites (really, scared to the point of believing out-and-out factually unsupported silliness), the warning from our ‘concerned for the kids’ law enforcers that reefer fiends want in the worst way to get their costumed kiddies “hooked” on the evil weed by spiking their children’s Halloween candy with cannabis.

The hysterical and nonsensical notion that is part and parcel to the urban myth – a myth that began when I was a youth and at that time took the form of dire warnings from police authorities that evil-doers were buying razor blades and inserting them into candy so children will become horribly injured when they scarf down their orange and black waxed paper wrapped peanut butter chewies or Zagnut candy bars – is that cannabis users in general are evil and demented freaks who, at the risk of being jailed and at the expense of purchasing costly legal cannabis, desire to harm innocent children.

Hate to break it to you, but there is not a single documented case of cannabis users tricking children to enter the realm of the devil to be locked forever in a hell of addiction or lie convulsing on the floor of a hospital emergency room by spiking children’s Halloween candy.

With all of the press-releasing and all of those reporters trying to ‘get to the bottom of the story‘ on all of those cannabis using candy spiking psychos out there it only makes sense that pharmacies and their employees who want their patients to know about the prescribed drugs that they are taking (including their possible dangers, paramount among these is warning patients of the importance of keeping drugs away from children) are happy to pass their important advice along – makes sense.

This is especially the case with regard to cannabis edibles that are sold as chocolate, gummy bears and soda, just like alcohol lollipops, these products, of course, should not be given to children. But remember, it is not cannabists who designed these products to trick our kiddies, but rather capitalists who want to make cash. And, while you may not agree with me that the consumption of cannabis (by adults) is a patriotic duty of all citizens concerned about the trajectory of American society – capitalism is supposed to be all patriotic and it is capitalist devils, not cannabis fiends who are flooding the market with BabyJane, BudderFinger and mrGreenbud cannabis candies. A salutary component of cannabis legalization is that these capital blinded candy creators can be regulated by the appropriate authorities in WA and CO to ensure that these products are not marketed to children (as tobacco products are regulated) because, you know, legalization is regulation.

Luckily, and speaking of cannabis monetization, a company from Florida has stepped up to allay the fears of cannabis-candy-concerned parents, selling a candy-drug testing kit that parents can use to tell if their child’s candies can be consumed.

Now, if you have used cannabis, these types of stories- rooted as they are in deep misunderstandings about the substance that are the fruit of eighty years of knowing law enforcement and political deceit – are best to be ignored…it may be sad and silly, but it really just ain’t worth the time and energy to refute these zombie propagandist memes as they appear year after year. I agree.

But, it really seems to make sense, in the year that many Americans are reassessing what they have been told by self-interested parties in politics and law enforcement and in light of the full legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, to state for the record that the suggestion that cannabis users are demented sociopaths who dream of harming children is both unfounded and offensive. And, by the way the propagandists who mouth the meme know it is unfounded and intend for their propping up of the myth to be defamatory and offensive.

The clear intent of these propaganda-pushers is to infer that ‘pot heads’ are evil addicts who actually desire to harm children. And that is a sick way to attempt to foreclose upon the constructive and commonsense nationwide effort to bring compassion and equality to our land by legalizing cannabis.

cross posted at mLaw

Photo by george erws under Creative Commons license

Over Easy: The Degree of Civilization in a Society

By: Crane-Station Wednesday October 29, 2014 4:38 am

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On March 17, 2013, Christopher Lopez took his last breath at 9:08 AM, stripped and shackled, face down on a cement floor in San Carlos Correctional Facility, while his jailers joked and made chit-chat. During Mr.Lopez’s videotaped death, which began at 3:30 AM, guards subjected him to a forceful cell extraction even though he was limp. When they placed the spit hood over his head and shackled him in the disciplinary transport chair, he slumped to one side and had a grand mal seizure. Without performing any mental health assessment whatsoever, they returned Mr. Lopez to his cell, placed him on the cement next to the toilet, and injected him with two psychotropic drugs.

“Is it lunch already?” the guard asks, followed by inaudible conversation.

“He could swallow his teeth, I don’t care…”

A guard proclaims, “He didn’t even piss on himself, so he’s not seizing.” “What’s he doing now?” a female supervisor asks. “Smells like he peed all over the place,” a man replies. “Is he still on the floor?” “Yeah.” “He likes it on the floor.” “I like him on the floor.” “Yeah, he likes it alright when he’s on the floor.” Laughter ensues. “Isn’t that terrible?”

While the staff makes fun of him, Mr. Lopez’s breathing changes to that of a fish out of water. When his breathing stops and he dies, the on-call mental-health clinician outside the cell door speaks through the window and asks the body, “What are you doing? Why are you doing this?” “What’s wrong? Don’t you like it on Three Right?” She inexplicably adds, “I can see you breathing.” She also tells the corpse, “Open your eyes,” and then she amazingly says, “Good.”

The only thing missing from Mr. Lopez’s horrible and lonely death is the pepper spray, but that was not really an oversight. He would have been pepper sprayed prior to the forceful extraction procedure, but the staff was short that day, the lawsuit describes:

“He actually wants to respond, but he can’t,” Gutierrez-Gonzalez told someone, then called out, “I understand you have some medical condition, but you have to work with me so I can help you.”

Gutierrez-Gonzalez then told Lopez if he didn’t cooperate, there would be a forced cell entrance, during which he would be pepper sprayed.

More than an hour after they noticed Lopez on the floor, a six-member team assembled to mount a forced cell entrance. Before going to the cell, they were told that because of a lack of personnel, gas wouldn’t be used.

The guards entered the cell dressed in riot gear and dragged him out.

Prior to Mr. Lopez’s death, he lived in solitary confinement for more than nine months. In Wilkinson v. Austin 545 U.S. 209 (2005), the US Supreme Court held that procedures for determining which prisoners should be placed in a Supermax prison must satisfy the requirements of due process, but the Court did not address indefinite solitary confinement of the mentally ill. Since Mr. Lopez suffered from schizophrenia, he could not act as his own advocate, file a grievance, or ask a jailhouse lawyer to help him. Instead, his mental health treatment included a slow-motion, torturous death.

“I went to Walmart this morning,” said one of the guards, as Mr. Lopez lay next to the toilet, dying.

Mr. Lopez’s situation is not unique.

In Michigan, mentally ill inmates at Huron Valley were “denied water and food, ‘hog tied’ naked for many hours, left to stand, sit, or lie naked in their own feces and urine, denied showers for days, and tasered,” according to witness letters to the ACLU of Michigan.

Who is in charge of health care for the incarcerated mentally ill? One private contractor is Corizon. According to its website, Corizon is:

Clinically-focused. Patient-centered. Evidence-based.

As the correctional healthcare pioneer and leader for 35+ years, Corizon Health provides client partners with high quality healthcare and reentry services that will improve the health and safety of our patients, reduce recidivism and better the communities where we live and work.”

Corizon has landed a 100 million dollar contract in California with Fresno jail, the latest in a long list that includes a $224 million contract in Alabama. Corizon Health, “the nation’s leader in correctional healthcare solutions” invites us to browse the website to see their “people, practices and commitment to success.”

Corizon has been sued 660 times for malpractice over the last half-decade. The ACLU adds that “As long as Corizon is motivated by its bottom line, there will always be a perverse incentive not to provide treatment. And Corizon is doing very well. The company makes $1.4 billion dollars a year off sick prisoners. Just last week, Corizon inked a new five-year, $1.2 billion contract with the state of Florida. This means that Corizon is now getting taxpayer money in 29 states. And they’re vying for more.”

Corizon is being investigated in Arizona, for taking taxpayer money designated to provide inmate healthcare and doing nothing or being so egregiously negligent that mentally ill inmates are dying.

New York City has contracted Corizon to provide health care for its inmates for more than a decade, previously under the name Prison Health Services, according to a report. In spite of a contract with New York City that pays $280 million for medical care and a $128 million for administrative support, fifteen have died at Rikers Island Jail. Rikers Island didn’t bother telling families it let inmates die.

Yesterday, three high-ranking Rikers officials resigned, following an graphic 79-page inquiry from the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York in August, detailing abuse of adolescent inmates at Rikers.

In Florida, where Darren Rainey was scalded to death at the hands of guards at Dade CI, George Mallinckrodt, a former mental health employee for Corizon at Dade CI, blew the whistle on the behalf of Mr. Rainey and others. At our site, he commented:

I’m George Mallinckrodt, the only former staffer at Dade CI to come forward publicly about the egregious behavior of guards in the psych unit called the Transitional Care Unit. As a result of the stories broken by the Miami Herald’s Julie Brown, it is comforting to know I’m not alone anymore in bringing the abuse, beating, torture, and murder of inmates to the attention of the public. Almost two years ago, after I answered my phone with a typical “Hello,” my former coworker blurted out, “They killed him!” Ever since, I’ve been trying to get people to pay attention to the murder of Darren Rainey. I contacted the FDLE, FBI, Miami Metro Homicide, and the ME’s office to no avail. When Julie broke the story Sunday, May 18, 2014, there was no doubt in my mind that I would come forward. I may not have been able to change much when I was working in prison, but now it appears I have been more successful on the outside. I’ve got to give the inmate, Harold Hempstead, a massive amount of credit in coming forward as he did. As we all know now, really bad things happen to men in prison.

The complaint I lodged with the Dept. of Justice in DC may now receive the attention it deserves. No doubt one of thousands of complaints filed every year, perhaps as a result of recent publicity, it may move up a bit in the line. Of course, I’d like to see it go straight to the top.

For his trouble, George Mallinckrodt was fired. He continues to speak out against cruelty and to press for a federal investigation into the killing of Mr. Darren Rainey. This petition has 204,365 supporters so far:

Petitioning Attorney General Eric Holder
“Investigate the 2012 death of Mr. Darren Rainey, a mentally ill Florida prisoner who died after prison guards locked him into a 180-degree shower.”

When Russian Novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” he aptly described the treatment of America’s incarcerated mentally ill in tandem with complete disregard for basic human decency.

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