Tag Archive for: US Department of Justice (DOJ)



In October 2022, a young Black man went missing after calling to telling his mother white men were chasing him in three trucks. When his body was later found, authorities said they didn’t suspect foul play. His family disagrees. What really happened in Taylorsville, MS?



Black man who said he was chased by whites later found decapitated; Sheriff says ‘no foul play’

Rasheem Carter, 25, a welder from Fayette in Jefferson County, MS, went missing on Oct. 2, 2022, near Taylorsville, MS, in Smith County, where he had undertaken contract work. Carter had previously texted his mother, Tiffany Carter, saying he’d had an altercation with someone at work. The text named a person and said “if anything happens… he’s responsible for it. … He got these guys wanting to kill me”.

On Oct. 1, Rasheem called his mother, telling her that a group of white men hurling racial slurs were chasing him in three trucks. Tiffany told her son to go to the police, believing they would protect him. But that was the last she heard from him.

Rasheem’s skull was found detached from his body. The dome of the skull was removed during autopsy. Photos were released by the family. 

When Rasheem’s remains were found on Nov. 2, dismembered and decapitated, in a wooded area near Taylorsville, Tiffany was in no doubt what happened to her son. But a day later, Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston posted on Facebook that there was “no reason to believe foul play was involved”.  

Rasheem’s remains were found scattered over two acres, and parts of him are still missing. The delay in finding his remains complicates the picture significantly, as there was evidence of animal predation. When a body lies undiscovered for months, animal activity can scatter remains over a wide area. 

An autopsy report by the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office noted injuries. However the report states that the condition of the remains when they were recovered make it difficult to determine when and in what sequence those injuries occurred. For this reason, the examiner was unable to establish a cause and manner of death with any confidence. 

Ben Crump calls for federal investigation

What we have is a Mississippi lynching,” famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Tuesday. Crump, representing the Carter family, is calling for a federal probe into Rasheem’s death. During the press conference, Crump said, “This doesn’t seem like the act of just one individual. It kind of lines up with what Tiffany said. There was a lynch mob of three trucks chasing her son before he went missing.”

“One thing is for certain … This was not a natural killing. This was not a natural death,” Crump said. “This represents a young man who was killed”. Crump and the Carter family believe that the Sheriff’s conclusion that there was no foul play doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, given the other circumstances surrounding the case.

“This was a nefarious act. This was an evil act,” Crump said. “Somebody murdered Rasheem Carter, and we cannot let them get away with this.”

“Nothing to hide” says Sheriff

Carter was in Taylorsville for short-term contracting work. His mother Tiffany says Rasheem was saving money to reopen his seafood restaurant. The restaurant, named for Rasheem’s 7-year-old daughter Cali, had closed during the pandemic. But at the work site, Carter had a disagreement with at least one of his co-workers and fled.

Rasheem had twice visited the Taylorsville Police Department in the lead up to his disappearance. It was around that time Carter texted his mother indicating he was being targeted by at least one individual.

Despite this, Sheriff Houston initially stood by his department’s conclusion that there was no foul play. Earlier evidence “didn’t suggest anything,” he said. However, Houston has since backtracked following a backlash, saying foul play hadn’t been ruled out. “Nothing is being swept under the rug,” Houston said. “There’s nothing to hide.”

“Running for his life”

Carter’s family has also shared an image from a deer trail camera from the day Rasheem went missing. Carter’s mother says she believes her son was hiding from someone, and “running for his life”. Sheriff Houston said the department had reviewed trail camera footage and didn’t find evidence of anyone else in the area.

After months of refusing to share any details of his department’s investigation, either with the public or apparently with the family, Houston gave an interview to NBC. During the interview, he shared details of leads that had been followed and other information about the investigation.

Houston said the department had interviewed “everybody involved” with Carter’s last job. This includes four to five people Carter had mentioned to his mother. These individuals were “ruled out” as suspects in Carter’s death, Houston said, by phone records and GPS coordinates showing that they were at another job site nearly 100 miles away from Taylorsville when Carter was last seen alive.

“His whole demeanor had changed”

A trail camera captured an image of Rasheem on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2022.

According to Houston, Carter’s colleagues and supervisor said in interviews that Carter “had not been himself” during the week before he went missing. “They said his whole demeanor had changed, they weren’t sure what was going on,” Houston said. “They just said he kept to himself more. He usually joked around, and in the last week or so they weren’t able to do that”.

Houston confirmed that Carter had “a couple of verbal altercations” with at least one co-worker. However, the Sheriff didn’t say what led to the altercation or whether the conflict might have prompted Carter’s change in behavior.

Having ruled out the prime suspects, Houston submitted search warrants to Google, starting in mid-November. Houston hoped this might reveal whether any devices pinged in the area where Carter’s remains were found around the time he went missing. “It’s a last-straw-type deal to determine if anyone else was with him or not,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to use this tool.” But the department has had to revise and resubmit this request several times, most recently last week.

The sheriff also said he would welcome the Justice Department’s involvement, saying he wants justice for Carter’s family “just as much as the family does.”

Carter’s family has dismissed any suggestion that Rasheem was under the influence of any substances at the time of his disappearance. Tiffany Carter also says her son had no history of mental illness that could account for the change in behavior. “I just know what my son told me,” Tiffany said. “I don’t believe anything [police] say. It’s lies after lies.”


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Texas: Five women sue after abortion bans put their lives at risk.

DOJ moves to block merger between discount airlines JetBlue and Spirit.

Was Mexico kidnapping a case of mistaken identity?



Texas: Five women sue after abortion bans put their lives at risk

Five women from Texas have filed a lawsuit demanding greater clarity for medical exceptions in Texas’ various abortion bans. All of Texas’ anti-abortion laws contain exceptions for preserving the life of the mother. However, according to women’s health advocates, these exceptions are written in a way that is deliberately vague and that make it unclear when a medically-necessary abortion is permitted.

The laws have discouraged healthcare providers in the state from providing or even suggesting abortions to their patients, even when there is no viable alternative. That lack of clarity put the lives of these five women, and countless others, at risk. Two healthcare providers have also joined them in the suit. 

Click here to read the women’s stories

Women and healthcare providers in many states that have laws banning abortion have faced similar problems. Most healthcare providers have interpreted the laws to mean an abortion is only permissible once the mother is at the point of death. Even in situations where a fetus cannot survive, such as when the mother’s water breaks prematurely, medical practitioners won’t provide abortions until the fetus no longer has a detectable heartbeat.

Putting off abortions in these situations puts mothers at risk of sepsis and other deadly complications. If an infection becomes too advanced, it can also necessitate a hysterectomy, an outcome that can be avoided with early intervention.

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DOJ moves to block merger between discount airlines JetBlue and Spirit

In a rare move, the Department of Justice has sued to block a proposed merger between two discount airlines, JetBlue and Spirit. The DOJ argues that this merger will decrease competition and raise prices for travelers on all routes that these two airlines serve, whether or not they’re flying with one of the discount airlines.

According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “Spirit’s own internal documents estimate that when it starts flying a route, average fares fall by 17%. And an internal JetBlue document estimates that when Spirit stops flying a route, average fares go up by 30%”.

The merger between JetBlue and Spirit would create the nation’s 5th largest airline. Thanks to decades of buyouts and consolidation in the airline industry, 80% of the US air travel market is controlled by just four airlines.

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Was Mexico kidnapping a case of mistaken identity?

After a four-day ordeal, two Americans kidnapped in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas last week were released yesterday. Two friends that were traveling with them did not survive injuries from an initial shooting. Now theories abound as to why these four Americans, one of whom was there for a medical procedure, fell victim to this attack in the first place, and why they were held captive for so many days.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in several Mexican states. Usually, people traveling alone on a remote road are grabbed, forced to withdraw a large amount of money from an ATM, and then let go unharmed. However, ransom does not appear to have been the motive in this case. 

Some have raised the possibility that members of the Gulf cartel, which has long dominated this area, mistook the four Black Americans for rival Haitian gang members. As the political and economic situation in Haiti has worsened in recent years, thousands of Haitians have relocated to Mexico. Some Haitian gangs that smuggle drugs or people have also gained a foothold in this part of Mexico. Officials have not commented on this theory, but have said they believe the kidnapping resulted from a “misunderstanding”.

Mexican drug war analyst Alejandro Hope also speculates that the Gulf cartel members soon realized their mistake. Fearing that the full force of both American and Mexican law enforcement would soon come down on them, Hope says the cartel likely tipped off their local law enforcement and government connections to the location of the safehouse where the captives were. 

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Los Angeles: Gunman found dead after killing 10 at Chinese New Year celebration. What we know about the case so far.

DOJ finds 6 more classified documents at Biden home.

Canada: $2.9 billion settlement with First Nations over boarding school harm




Los Angeles: At least 10 dead after mass shooting at Chinese Lunar New Year celebration

On Saturday night, a group in the predominately Asian city of Monterey Park, near Los Angeles, had gathered at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio to celebrate Lunar New Year. A gunman entered and opened fire, sending the celebrants running. At least 10 people so far have died following the shooting, five men and five women, in their 50s and 60s or above. Ten others remain in the hospital. The FBI and ATF are assisting local authorities in the investigation. 

Police released these images of the suspect captured on surveillance.

After the Monterrey Park shooting, the gunman got in a white cargo van and drove to another dance hall in nearby Alhambra. There patrons managed to disarm the gunman and he again fled in the van. The gun was not an assault rifle but a pistol with an extended magazine, which is banned in California.

Midday on Sunday, about 12 hours after the shooting, police cornered the van in a shopping center parking lot in Torrance, CA, about 20 miles away from the Star Ballroom. As officers approached, they heard a single gunshot from inside the van. Police then called for tactical teams. When they made contact with the driver, he was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities have confirmed that the driver was the shooter. Police aren’t looking for any other suspects. 

Gunman identified; motive remains unclear

This event is now the most deadly mass shooting in the US since the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, last year.

Before the suspect was found, police released a surveillance image of the man they believed to be the shooter. Initial reports suggested it was an Asian male between 30 and 50 years old. He was in fact 72 years old, and his name was Huu Can Tran.

At present, there’s no clear motive for the shooting. Police say it is too early to determine whether or not it was a hate crime. California and Los Angeles in particular have been plagued by numerous anti-Asian hate crimes in the last two years. Tran being Asian himself  wouldn’t necessarily preclude it from being a hate crime. Monterrey Park was the first city in the mainland US to have a majority population of Asian ancestry. The area is home to people claiming ancestry from China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan.

Tran’s friend, ex-wife say he frequented the Star Ballroom

Tran’s ex-wife provided CNN with a copy of their marriage certificate which indicates that Tran was an immigrant from China. The ex-wife told CNN that she first met Tran at the Star Ballroom, where he was a regular patron, about two decades ago. Tran saw her dancing and offered her free lessons. They were married not long after, but the marriage didn’t last long. The ex-wife says she filed for divorce in 2005. She said Tran wasn’t violent towards her, but was quick to anger. He would berate her if she missed a step while dancing, saying it made him look bad.

A long-time friend of Tran’s said Tran was a frequent presence at the Star Ballroom from the early 2000s to the 2010s. It’s unclear whether or not he had continued visiting in recent years. The friend said that Tran accused other dance instructors at the hall saying “evil things about him” and that Tran was “hostile to a lot of people there.”

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DOJ finds 6 more documents at Biden home

News broke over the weekend that the Justice Department had conducted another search of President Biden’s private home in Wilmington, DE. The search yielded six more previously undiscovered documents within the home. President and First Lady Biden were not present in the home when the search took place. Biden has been cooperating with the DOJ since before the midterms. This search was arranged with his cooperation and consent.

Authorities haven’t said where in the home these documents were found. Previously, documents had been found in the home’s garage.

This is now the second weekend in a row that discoveries have been announced at the home. We don’t yet have an exact total of classified documents from Biden’s Wilmington home and his private office at a think tank in D.C. Before this weekend’s discovery, the total was only given as “roughly 20” which means we now stand at “roughly 26”.

There’s also been no official confirmation of what level of classification the documents have. At the time of the first finds in D.C., an anonymous source reported that some from that cache were TS/SCI documents. These documents are never meant to be removed from secure areas, known as SCIFs.

So far, authorities have said most of the documents date from the Obama administration, but others reportedly go back to Biden’s time as a US Senator. Biden represented Delaware in the Senate from 1973 to 2009, when he became Obama’s Vice President.

Any “high ground” left?

Republicans have roundly criticized Biden and the DOJ for a lack of transparency with regard to the investigation. The first cache of documents was found days before the midterms but did not become public knowledge until after the first of the year. Since then, there has been a gradual drip-drip of new discoveries. Twice now, these finds were conveniently announced over the weekend. This is a common tactic used when one wants to minimize press coverage. 

Even Democratic Sen. Dick Durban says there’s no question that Biden has lost the “high ground” when it comes to former Pres. Trump’s mishandling of documents. However, there are still some key differences between the Biden and Trump cases.

Trump had over 100 classified documents when his home was raided. Of course, there’s no way of knowing how many documents will be found in Biden’s various homes and offices when all is said and done.

At this point, the main difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden appears to be fully cooperating fully with the Justice Department. By contrast, Trump obstructed the efforts of the National Archives to retrieve the documents in his possession, even convincing his own lawyers to perjure themselves so Trump could keep “his” classified documents.

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Canada: $2.9 billion settlement with First Nations over boarding schools

From the 19th century up to the 1970s, the Canadian government funded 130 compulsory boarding schools for indigenous Native children throughout the country. Native children were taken from their families and sent to these schools to force their cultural, religious and linguistic assimilation.

Over the years these schools operated, some 150,000 Native children were sent to these schools. While there, they were forbidden to speak their Native languages and were beaten if they did. They suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The children were housed in poor conditions that made them vulnerable to disease and the cold. By the most conservative estimate, 3,200 children died while in the care of these schools.

Recent discoveries of unmarked graves of children at these now abandoned schools have reignited discussions over the harm done to generations of Native children by these schools. In 2012, 325 First Nations people, survivors of the schools, brought a class action lawsuit against the government of Canada. The survivors were demanding acknowledgement and compensation for the loss of language and cultural identity that resulted from their time in the schools. 

The Canadian government has now agreed to pay $2.9 billion to settle this case and to “address the collective harm caused by Canada’s past”.

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Feds open civil rights probe of Tyre Nichols case.

Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter in film set shooting.

Peru: Deadly protests continue over president’s ouster last month.




Feds open civil rights probe of Tyre Nichols case

Yesterday, Kevin G. Ritz, US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced that his office has launched a federal civil rights investigation of the death of Tyre Nichols, 29, of Memphis.

Memphis police attempted to arrest Tyre Nichols, 29, on Jan. 7 following a traffic stop. This lead to two “confrontations” that landed Nichols in the hospital. Nichols died three days later on Jan. 10. A statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Nichols’ had “succumbed to his injuries”, but did not describe these injuries or how they occurred.

Nichols’ family claims Memphis PD beat him so badly that he was “unrecognizable” and spent his final days on dialysis. Photos released by the family show Nichols lying in his hospital bed with a bruised and swollen face and breathing support. Nichols’ family have retained the services of civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them. 

Family and community members attended a vigil and protests to demand greater accountability for the officers involved. TBI opened a use-of-force probe of Memphis PD immediately after the incident. Memphis PD has also initiated an internal investigation against the officers for violation of department policy. Details about the incident remain unclear and Nichols’ family are demanding the immediate release of the police bodycam footage. Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells also wants the officers to be charged with murder.

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Alec Baldwin to be charged with involuntary manslaughter in film set shooting

New Mexico authorities announced today that they plan to charge Alec Baldwin and others with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. Formal charges are expected at the end of this month.

Baldwin and the crew were in the state in 2021 filming “Rust,” a Western, of which Baldwin was one of the producers. In between takes, Baldwin was practicing firing a Colt .45 revolver, believing it was loaded with blanks. But one of the rounds was live. It struck Hutchins, killing her outright, and also injured director Joel Souza, who recovered. 

The film’s first assistant director David Halls already agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. Baldwin and the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, now each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The first count is involuntary manslaughter, implying “underlying negligence”. The second count, involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, implies “more than simple negligence involved in a death,” the officials explained. Each count is a fourth-degree felony that can carry sentences up to 18 months in jail. However, if Baldwin or Gutierrez-Reed are found guilty of the second count, the involvement of a firearm in Hutchins’ death could increase the sentence to up to 5 years.

Last year, Hutchins’ family sued the “Rust” producers, including Baldwin, for wrongful death. The case was settled out of court in October. It’s unclear how the live round came to be in Baldwin’s gun. Coverage since the shooting has revealed a reckless attitude to safety on set. “If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” prosecutors said.

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Peru: Deadly protests continue over president’s ouster last month

In December, Peru’s elected President Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress to call for snap elections. This was the climax of a standoff between Castillo, a progressive leftist, and a conservative Congress who obstructed his rule for his entire 17 months in office. Congress attempted three different times to impeach Castillo on vague and unsubstantiated charges.

Following Castillo’s arrest, his Vice President Dina Boluarte assumed the presidency. However, it appears the Cabinet (all conservatives appointed by Castillo in hopes of appeasing his opponents in Congress) is actually running the country. Castillo’s supporters, many of them poor indigenous people living in remote mountain regions, have staged mass protests calling on Boluarte to step down and call immediate elections. At least 50 protesters have been killed by security forces since Castillo’s ouster.

Despite the bloodshed, Boluarte refuses to step down. She has proposed new elections to take place in 2024, but this has not appeased the protesters. Boluarte faces opposition to snap elections from members of Congress who don’t want to give up their seats.

The protest movement is now entering a new stage as Andean protesters are marching on the capital in Lima. More and bloodier showdowns with police are likely once they reach Lima.

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Classified documents found in old Biden office.

California storms: At least 16 dead, nearly 200,000 without power.

Kremlin probes Russian war critics; others turn up dead.




Classified documents found in old Biden office

Days before the midterm elections, workers cleaning out an office once used by President Biden found about 10 classified documents in a locked closet. The office was at the Penn Biden think tank in Washington, D.C., and was used by Biden during his time as Obama’s Vice President. As soon as the documents were found, attorneys for Biden reached out to the National Archives, who took possession of them the following day. The Department of Justice is apparently reviewing the incident to determine if any further action is warranted. 

As soon as the news broke, former President Trump, who is in legal hot water over some classified documents himself, immediately posted on TruthSocial, “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified”. Trump was alluding to the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home, where over 100 classified documents were found in an unsecured area. 

What we know and don’t know so far

A source has revealed that, like many of the Mar-a-Lago documents, some found in the Biden office bore the TS/SCI classification, reserved for especially sensitive documents. It was due to the sensitive nature of these documents that the National Archives made a referral to the DOJ. Other reports claim that some of the documents pertained to classified briefings on the UK, Iran and Ukraine.

Sources say that none of the documents from the Biden office contained any nuclear secrets, as one of the Mar-a-Lago documents did. Unlike in Trump’s case, the National Archives had apparently made no prior request for the return of the documents in Biden’s office.

There are some serious questions that remain unanswered. Was Biden permitted to have these in his private office? Why were they there? Why is this news only coming out months after the discovery?

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California storms: At least 16 dead, nearly 200,000 without power

California is experiencing its fifth major storm since Christmas and a sixth is on its way. The state has been beset by “atmospheric rivers” which carry an unusual amount of moisture and has caused torrential rains and floods over much of the state. So far, at least 16 people have died in the recent storms. A five-year-old boy was swept away by floods yesterday and is still missing. As of this writing, nearly 200,000 customers in the state are without power. Earlier in the day, there were 224,000.

While the northern part of the state has suffered most, every part of the state has been affected. Storms and flooding have forced evacuations of entire communities in low-lying areas, displacing thousands.

Despite the widespread misery, grief and devastation, some are looking for a silver lining. Some officials and scientists are hopeful that the downpours and snowpack from recent storms may bring some relief to California’s year’s long drought. However, it will be weeks before the full impact of these storms on California’s water supply will be known.

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Kremlin probes war critics; others turn up dead

Russia’s Investigative Committee has announced probes of a prominent Russian actor and a philanthropist. The actor, Artur Smolyaninov, left Russia days after the Ukraine invasion and has repeatedly spoken out against the war. The Investigative Committee said Smolyaninov had “made a series of statements directed against Russia in an interview to a Western media outlet”. However, it wasn’t clear what crime he was being charged with.

Russia’s Interior Ministry has also placed businessman and philanthropist Boris Zimin on its international most wanted list. Zimin apparently left Russia in 2015 and has funded independent Russian media outlets. He also has some connections to imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Like Navalny, Russian authorities have brought fraud charges against Zimin.

Conspiracy theories swirl after 3 Russians die mysteriously in India

In the Indian state of Odisha, three Russian men turned up dead under suspicious circumstances within days of one another. In December, Russian lawmaker and multi-millionaire sausage magnate Pavel Antov fell to his death from a third-story window of his hotel. Local police said Antov was vacationing there, but Odisha isn’t normally a popular tourist spot. Just two days earlier, businessman Vladimir Bidenov, a close friend of Antov’s, died at the same hotel of an apparent heart attack. Both men were quickly cremated so that no further examination of their remains was possible. 

Earlier in 2022, Antov had shared a post on social media critical of the war in Ukraine. However, Antov later retracted this post and claimed he’d been hacked. 

Then, just over a week after Antov’s death, a 51-year-old engineer, identified as Sergey Milyakov, was found dead in his compartment on a ship where he worked. The ship was then anchored at Paradip Port in Odisha. It’s not clear if Milyakov had any connection with the two other unlucky Russians who predeceased him in Odisha.

In all, over two dozen prominent Russian businessmen died unexpectedly in and mysteriously in 2022.


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“I earned this job”: Behind-the-scenes drama in Speaker vote.

New FDA, DOJ rules will make abortion medication more widely available.

More signs of US normalizing relations with Venezuela.



“I earned this job”: Behind-the-scenes drama in Speaker vote

When Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attended the first official session of the new Congress yesterday, he knew his fight to take the podium as Speaker of the House wouldn’t be an easy one. Since the November 2022 elections 8 weeks ago, McCarthy and his allies have been horse-trading and cat-herding to win over a small number of far-right Republican holdouts. He’s made several concessions, most notably a change to the rules that would allow just 5 lawmakers to call for a new Speaker vote.

In an attempt to rally the troops before the first vote, McCarthy held a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers. Lawmakers in the room told reporters that McCarthy told the assembly, “I earned this job. We earned this majority, and Goddammit we are going to win it today”. While McCarthy received a standing ovation, not all present were impressed. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), one of the holdouts, reportedly responded, “Bullshit!“.

There were three votes yesterday, in which each member of the narrowly-divided House was called by name and asked who they were voting for. McCarthy’s supporters seem to have gone in accepting they would lose the first vote. But surely, they thought, by the third vote, McCarthy’s opposition would have lost steam and he would prevail. Not only were they wrong about that, as the voting went on, McCarthy’s numbers got worse. 

No breakthrough

Frustrated at his losses, McCarthy led more frantic closed door meetings overnight. Speaking to NPR this morning, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) reported there were was “no breakthrough overnight” and no new concessions to the holdouts. The House will vote again at noon today.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked Johnson about the possibility of striking a deal with Democrats to get past the impasse. If some Democrats don’t vote, McCarthy could theoretically squeak through with a majority. But Johnson said he wasn’t eager to ask Democrats for help with this issue. The resistance to compromise or collaboration doesn’t bode well either for today’s vote or for the prospects for the next two years of this Congress.


FDA, DOJ set rules that will make abortion medication more widely available

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now allow commercial pharmacies to carry the drug mifepristone, commonly used for medication abortions. The use of mifepristone must be followed up with misoprostol. Currently, people wishing to mifepristone drug can only do so through a healthcare provider. It will now be possible to get a prescription either in-person or through telehealth and purchase mifepristone from a pharmacy.

The change will make it easier for women living in states with abortion bans to obtain the pills from another state. However, in states (including Mississippi) which have passed abortion bans that specifically target medication abortions, the pictures is more complicated. It’s questionable whether any state can legally ban an FDA-approved medication. Despite this, many pharmacies in states that have enacted bans have stopped carrying the drugs, even though both mifepristone and misoprostol have uses that have nothing to do with abortion or even pregnancy. 

In a separate development, the Department of Justice says that the US Postal Service can legally deliver abortion pills, even in jurisdictions where medication abortion is banned. There are already pharmacies all over the country that will mail the pills anywhere in the country as long as the purchaser has a prescription. Some overseas medication providers have reported that women who weren’t pregnant were stocking up on the pills as a precaution.

Legally, the situation remains messy and complicated, and many women still have a difficult time in accessing the medication. These moves by the FDA and DOJ should at least help to remove some logistical barriers for women seeking a medication abortion.



More signs of US normalizing relations with Venezuela

During the Trump administration, the US and many of its allies adopted a preposterous diplomatic fiction regarding Venezuela. Trump declared that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó was in fact the president of Venezuela. This was despite the fact that Venezuela already had an elected president, Nicolas Maduro. Guaidó hadn’t even run in the last congressional election. 

As ludicrous as it was, this diplomatic fiction had wide-ranging implications for Venezuela’s government and its people. For example, at the height of the pandemic, Maduro’s government wanted to sell off some of his country’s gold to purchase needed medical supplies. The National Bank of England, which was holding the gold, refused to release. This was because the British government had recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s president.

Recently, the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have force the Biden administration to look elsewhere for oil. This led to a thaw in US relations with oil-rich Venezuela. After a series of meetings between US officials as well as representatives of the Maduro government and opposition, the US allowed oil giant Chevron to resume work in Venezuela. 

Now, Venezuela’s opposition coalition has voted to dissolve its parallel government and remove Juan Guaidó as its leader. Maduro’s government and the opposition coalition recently signed a preliminary agreement to find a resolution to Venezuela’s political crisis. Maduro and the coalition also issued a joint statement requesting that foreign institutions holding billions of dollars of Venezuelan assets release them for the benefit of Venezuela’s people.

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Jan. 6 committee to vote on criminal referrals for Trump, others today. El Paso, TX, declares state of emergency over expected influx of migrants. Thai warship capsizes, 31 sailors missing.





Jan. 6 committee to vote on criminal referrals for Trump, others today

The Congressional Jan. 6 Committee will meet for its final televised event today at 1 pm ET/ 12 noon CT. The committee will be concluding its public business with a vote on whether to send criminal referrals to the Justice Department in connection with the events of Jan. 6, 2021. These referrals will not be binding, meaning the DOJ can choose whether or not to follow the committee’s recommendations for charges. The committee will be forwarding their findings, including thousands of hours of witness testimony, to the DOJ.

Early reporting suggests the panel may recommend three charges against former President Trump. These are conspiracy to defraud the United States, disrupting an official Congressional proceeding, and the most serious charge, insurrection.

Reports also indicate that Trump will not be the only figure the committee may issue referrals for. For example, a referral may also come for John Eastman, one of the lawyers in Trump’s circle who championed the view that Vice President Mike Pence could use his authority to thwart the certification of the vote. There are also members of Congress who the committee believes conspired with Trump who may get referrals to the House Ethics Committee. 

Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) has hinted that aside from DOJ, the committee may send referrals to four or five other agencies.

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El Paso, TX, declares state of emergency over expected influx of migrants

Oscar Leeser, mayor of El Paso, TX, has declared a state of emergency in hopes of accessing additional resources to cope with an expected wave of immigrants over the border. The pandemic-era border restriction Title 42 is expected to expire on Dec. 21, this Wednesday. In anticipation of the order’s repeal, immigrants have been amassing on the border for weeks, and many have already started crossing over. Some have waited on the Mexico side of the border for months. Once over the border, the migrants usually turn themselves in to Border Patrol officers and ask for asylum. The problem for El Paso is what happens next.

El Paso is already getting just a small preview of the work and resources that will be required. City Manager Tommy Gonzalez described the picture on NPR. After Customs and Border Patrol processes the migrants, they get brought to local bus stations and airports to arrange transport to their preferred destination. But many will be waiting in the area for relatives to come collect them, or to await relatives coming over the border behind them. This creates a problem of sheltering people in the local area when overnight temperatures are dropping below freezing.

Gonzalez says that the city has been seeking extra resources from state and federal authorities, both for transporting and sheltering migrants. But despite promises, those resources have been slow to arrive. Local authorities worry that without additional help, they could soon have a massive humanitarian crisis on their hands.

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Thai warship capsizes, 31 sailors missing

Rescue missions are underway in the Gulf of Thailand where a Thai warship HTMS Sukhothai, carrying more than 100 crew, capsized last night. Authorities have rescued 75 sailors, some of whom managed to get to life rafts. Thirty-one sailors are still missing. Thai navy officials say they haven’t given up on finding the missing crew, even though their chances look bleak.

The navy is also launching an investigation into what caused the sinking of the Sukhothai. The ship went down in a storm after taking on water, which short-circuited the ship’s power systems. The vessel then listed on its side before sinking at around 11:30 pm local time.

The ship had been on patrol and had sent distress messages, but only one ship managed to arrive before the Sukhothai sank. The Sukhothai was built for the Thai navy in the US in the 1980s. Such a massive naval disaster is unprecedented in Thailand among naval ships in active service.

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Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten Black neighbors. California Gov. targets Big Oil’s price gouging. Iran protests: Confusion after official implies morality police have disbanded.




Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten Black neighbors

Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, MS, has pleaded guilty to hate crime charges after a Dec. 2020 incident in which he set up a wooden cross on his front lawn, doused it with motor oil, and set it alight. According to the Justice Department, Cox admitted that he burned the cross to frighten his Black neighbors. He further admitted that he did it because of their race and because they were living next door to him. Court documents also show that Cox made “threatening and racially derogatory remarks” towards his neighbors.

Cox’s lawyer has entered a guilty plea in which Cox admits to violations of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is part of the 1968 Civil Rights Act and prohibits discrimination against a person’s housing rights based on their race, religion, nationality, sex or family status.

Cox faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 or both.

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California Gov. targets Big Oil’s price gouging

As gas prices have risen and fallen over the past year, California residents have been paying consistently high prices, averaging over $6 per gallon. Despite various market and supply issues, major oil companies have been making record profits. California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, rumored to have Presidential aspirations, is looking to find a way to penalize oil companies for price gouging and return some of that money to the state’s drivers.

Newsom hasn’t yet formally released this plan. However, it is likely to be similar to the windfall tax that prominent Democrats, including President Biden, have been calling for at the national level. As in Congress, the proposal would face an uphill battle in the California Legislature. The oil lobby is one of the top campaign donors for politicians in both bodies. California’s legislature is also seating an unusually high number of new members this term, many of whom received hefty campaign donations from Big Oil.

The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, is also already fighting back. The group blames California’s regulations and tax system for its higher-than-average gas prices and called on lawmakers to do away with these regulations.

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Iran protests: Confusion after official implies morality police have disbanded

Over the weekend, Iran’s attorney general made a spontaneous remark that has raised questions about the status of the country’s morality police. Among other things, the morality police enforce the country’s strict dress codes for women. The death of a young woman in their custody for improperly wearing her headscarf has sparked two months of growing protests. Iran’s security forces have led brutal and deadly crackdowns killing hundreds of protesters, many of them children. However, the morality police themselves have been far less visible since the protests began.

At a news conference, a reporter asked Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri why the morality police had seemingly gone dormant. Montazeri responded that the morality police were not part of his justice department, but rather the interior ministry and that the agency had been “shut down by those who created it”. This created an assumption by many that the infamous agency had been fully disbanded. However, the government has issued no official decree to that effect.

Even if it’s true that Iran’s current iteration of the morality police is no longer active, the regime still has many other agencies to enforce its decrees. The justice department continues to arrest and sentence protesters. In time, a different mechanism for imposing strict Islamic dress and other morality issues may emerge. 

In any case, the protesters have made clear that, whether or not the morality police go away or the government enacts reforms to relax enforcement, their goal is total regime change.

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Survivors and family members of victims of the May school shooting in Uvalde, TX, are suing state and local authorities for $27 billion.



Uvalde families sue state, local officials for $27 billion. Major blow to Trump as court dismisses arbiter in Mar-a-Lago docs case. Putin demands West recognize Ukraine annexations before talks.





Uvalde shooting survivors, families file $27 billion suit against state, local officials

A group of parents of victims and school staff members who were present during the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, have filed a $27 billion lawsuit against state and local agencies and officials. The defendants named in the suit include the city, the municipal police department, the school district, the school district’s police department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and individuals currently or formerly affiliated with those bodies and agencies.

The suit is seeking damages from all these agencies to be paid to parents who lost children or whose children were wounded or are experiencing PTSD from the massacre, as well as to the families of the two teachers killed and other school staff endangered that day.

Failures and cover-ups

Since the shooting in May this year, further details have continually emerged to illuminate the magnitude of the failures that likely caused  greater loss of life. That’s despite attempts by agencies at every level to block the flow of information about what happened that day. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned.

We know now that at least 376 law enforcement officers responded to the scene that day. That includes 91 state troopers, 25 officers from Uvalde city police, 5 from Uvalde school district police and 16 local sheriff’s deputies. The rest were police and sheriff’s deputies from other surrounding cities and counties. Some came from as far away as San Antonio, 80 miles away. Despite all that muscle and firepower, it took 77 minutes before the shooter was confronted. And it wasn’t even one of these hundreds of state, city, or county officers that confronted and killed the shooter. Instead it was a US Border Patrol tactical team.

In a separate suit, the city of Uvalde is suing District Attorney Christina Mitchell for withholding investigative materials related to the shooting. The city wants the judge to compel Mitchell’s office to hand over relevant records from all law enforcement agencies.


Video, audio reveal desperate 911 calls from inside the classroom and confusion among law enforcement (opens in new tab).

Medical examiner investigating whether more victims could have been saved if they’d received help sooner (opens in new tab).


Major blow to Trump as court dismisses arbiter in Mar-a-Lago documents case 

Since the Aug. 8 FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home yielded over 100 classified documents and over 11,000 other government documents, Trump’s legal strategy has been to delay, delay, delay. When District Judge Aileen Cannon (whom Trump appointed) granted his request for a special master in the case, it looked like Trump might succeed in stalling the DOJ investigation for months or years.

The special master was initially tasked with reviewing both the 100 classified documents and over 11,000 other government documents. During this review, the DOJ would not be able to use either set of documents in their investigation into Trump’s theft of the documents or his efforts to obstruct the government’s efforts to reclaim them. The 11th Circuit then eliminated the classified documents from the review, leaving only the 11,000 classified documents. Still, this would have required special master Raymond Dearie to spend months reviewing the documents before the DOJ could file charges.

Now, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court in Atlanta has undone Cannon’s ruling appointing a special master altogether. This means there no further impediment to the DOJ’s investigation. Trump may appeal this decision to the Supreme Court as well. However, the Supreme Court has previously upheld other decisions by the 11th Circuit siding with the DOJ in this case.

Last month, after Trump announced he was officially running for President again in 2024, Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned Jack Smith as a special counsel to oversee the DOJ’s criminal cases that involve Trump. 

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In other news…

Biden signs bill blocking railroad strike; bill giving workers 7 paid sick days failed in Senate. (Opens in new tab).

Supreme Court to hear Biden administration’s bid to resume student loan relief program in February. Applications, approvals remain on hold. (Opens in new tab).



Putin demands West recognize Ukraine annexations before talks

While Russian forces are largely in retreat across Ukraine, there has been little sign that either the Ukraine or the Kremlin is open to negotiating peace terms. Demands from both sides remain little changed since March. Ukraine still insists that it must retake Crimea. After 8 years in Russian hands and with a population that has a greater allegiance to Russia, this hope by Ukraine still feels more like a pipe dream. If Ukraine is unwilling to negotiate on this point, there may be no end in sight.

The Russian side is proving to be equally inflexible regarding its demands for a negotiated peace. President Biden recently made remarks indicating he would welcome a negotiation with Russia to end hostilities if they showed any interesting. The Kremlin responded today that they were open to negotiations but only if the West unconditionally gave into certain demands beforehand.

In addition to their previous demands that NATO withdraw from Eastern Europe and cede control of Crimea, Russia is now demanding that the West recognize their annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Russia conducted referendum votes in each of the territories, which the West largely dismissed as a sham. It’s unlikely either Ukraine or the West would ever agree to this condition, especially since Russia’s military is currently in retreat from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Donetsk and Luhansk are largely Russian aligned and have been for years.

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Judge OKs federal intervention in Jackson water management. San Francisco board OKs police use of killer robots. Jamaica, Barbados seek slavery reparations from sugar baron British MP.




Judge OKs federal intervention in Jackson water management

A US District Judge in Mississippi has approved a proposal from the Justice Department for federal intervention in the management of Jackson’s water system. A third-party manager has been appointed to oversee updates to the city’s struggling system. Ted Henifin, a former public works manager in Virginia, will be in charge of implementing a 13-item list of necessary improvements to the system. The most urgent project is winterizing equipment to make it less vulnerable to cold weather. In 2021, a cold snap froze pipes and left tens of thousands of residents without water for days.

These fixes are near-term solutions to help stabilize the water system while city, state and federal officials negotiate the terms of a consent decree to establish a long-term management strategy.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba welcomed the decision and praised Henifin’s appointment. Lumumba said the city had been working closely with the DOJ to iron out the terms of the management plan. He said Henifin’s expertise had already proven invaluable. The state’s health department also signed off on the deal.

When Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the decision yesterday, he said this proposal was part of the DOJ’s commitment to environmental justice in “overburdened and underserved communities”.

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San Francisco board votes to allow police to use killer robots

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have voted 8-3 to allow police to deploy robots capable of lethal force in “extraordinary circumstances”.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin justified his ‘yes’ vote saying that, “There could be an extraordinary circumstance where, in a virtually unimaginable emergency, they might want to deploy lethal force to render, in some horrific situation, somebody from being able to cause further harm”.

But Supervisor Dean Preston, one of the three who voted against the proposal, warned, “There is serious potential for misuse and abuse of this military-grade technology, and zero showing of necessity”.

Essentially, the board has left it up to police to decide what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances”. They set no concrete limitations as to when and how police can deploy the robot. Perhaps realizing they’d given an overbroad endorsement of discretion, the board did slightly amend their decision. They stipulated that one of the city’s two highest ranking police officials would have to authorize any use of a robot for lethal force.

SFPD Chief tries to reassure the public

When the San Francisco Police Department submitted its equipment proposal to the board, Aaron Peskin added the line “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person”. The SFPD then returned the draft to the board with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with an authorization to use robots to kill suspects. Peskin and seven other board members then decided to accept this without further pushback. 

In an attempt to ally fears, SFPD Chief Bill Scott said, “These robots would be a last resort. If we ever have to exercise that option, it either means lives, innocent lives, have already been lost, or in the balance, and this would be the only option to neutralize that person putting those lives at risk, or the person who has taken those lives”.

Scott vaguely described when the department might deem it “necessary” to use a robot to take a life. The one specific scenario Scott did offer was a mass shooting. Scott said the technology would be helpful in neutralizing suspects in mass shootings without putting officers’ lives in danger. “These events, these mass killings, are all too common,” Scott said. “And God forbid one happens here, we just need to give our officers the tools to do their jobs”. In case you were wondering, SFPD does have military grade body armor and weapons with which to equip their officers.

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Jamaica, Barbados seek slavery reparations from British sugar baron MP

The governments of Jamaica and Barbados are seeking slavery reparations from a wealthy Conservative British member of Parliament, either through negotiation or legal action. The MP in question is Richard Drax, who represents South Dorset and was a staunch supporter of Brexit.

The Drax family was one of the pioneers of the transatlantic slave trade and Caribbean sugar plantation system in the 17th century. His family still own Drax Hall, a 617-acre working sugar plantation on Barbados, one of the first on the island. However, Drax failed to report his ownership of this plantation in his register of members’ interests declaration, a requirement for British MPs. His ties to the plantation only became public after an investigation by Britain’s Observer newspaper. The Observer estimates that Drax has a net worth of around £150 million.

“The Draxes built and designed and structured slavery”

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the Caribbean Community Reparations Commission, estimates that over 30,000 slaves died on the Drax plantations in Barbados and Jamaica over 200 years. “The Drax family has done more harm and violence to the Black people of Barbados than any other family,” Beckles said. “The Draxes built and designed and structured slavery”. 

The first Drax plantation opened in Barbados in 1642. The family continued operations and expanded its holdings throughout Barbados and other Caribbean islands until Britain abolished slavery in 1833. After abolition, Parliament awarded £4,293 (about £3 million in today’s money) to Drax’s ancestor John Sawbridge Erle-Drax in compensation for freeing 189 slaves.

Previously, Drax acknowledged his family’s ties to slavery. However, Drax denied any accountability for its legacy in the present day, though his family continues to profit handsomely from it. “I am keenly aware of the slave trade in the West Indies and the role my very distant ancestor played in it is deeply, deeply regrettable. But no one can be held responsible today for what happened many hundreds of years ago”.

Drax recently rejected calls to pay reparations for his family’s role in the slave trade. But after the government of Barbados threatened to take him to court, Drax traveled to Barbados to attempt to negotiate a settlement with its government

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NEMiss.News Central State Hospital, Milledgeville GA



What is insanity? What is mental illness? How do we deal with those believed to be “mentally ill?”

Those questions have baffled medical professionals, law enforcement officers, political leaders, the clergy and laymen for hundreds of years.

NEMiss.News MS Rep. Sam Creekmore

District 14 State Representative Sam Creekmore of New Albany.

District 14 State Representative Sam Creekmore IV of Union County has been asked to investigate the burden placed on law enforcement agencies in Mississippi by the growing number of people with mental health problems.

State Representative Nick Bain of Corinth is Chairman of the Judiciary B Committee of the Mississippi House of Representatives. Prompted by a request from the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association, Bain asked Creekmore to chair a special Judiciary B subcommittee to explore mental health delivery in Mississippi. Creekmore’s subcommittee will focus particularly on the fact that law enforcement agencies have increasingly become the first point of contact for people undergoing an acute mental health crisis.

Because of the serious shortage of available community-based mental health professionals in the state, law enforcement officers frequently get the call when a mentally ill person’s behavior alarms their family or neighbors. Most of these police officers have little or no training in dealing with mental health crises. 

People who may have committed no crime end up in jail, because there is nowhere else for them to go.

Creekmore launched his investigation with a meeting of his subcommittee at the state capitol in Jackson on November 15. Law enforcement officers, mental health professionals and others spoke to the subcommittee during the meeting.

Among the speakers was Sheriff Greg Pollan of Calhoun County. Pollan is also the president of the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association. Like all of Mississippi’s 82 sheriffs, a major part of Sheriff Pollan’s responsibility is running the county jail.

“It seems like we, as a general rule, are the mental health facilities in our counties,” said Sheriff Pollan. He pointed out that he and his staff have no training or qualifications to run a mental health treatment center.

Pollan said that, as of the date of the hearing, four of the 45 inmates in the Calhoun County jail were mental patients waiting to be transferred to mental health facilities. They wait in jail until a scarce bed opens up at a facility equipped to treat mental patients. Sheriff Pollan said the typical mental patient in the Calhoun County jail is housed with criminal inmates for an average of seven days before they can be placed in an appropriate facility.

New Albany Police Chief Chris Robertson spoke at the November 15 hearing. He told of specific instances in which his department was dealing with individuals who had come to the attention of his department, not because they had committed crimes, but because they were mentally ill and had no place else to go.

The problems described by Chief Robertson and Sheriff Pollan are typical of those faced by sheriffs in all 82 counties and in several hundred local and institutional police departments.

The mess that Sam Creekmore and his subcommittee have been asked to tackle did not develop overnight.

Eleven years ago, in 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reprimanded the State of Mississippi for its failure to fund enough community-based mental health services.

NEMiss.News Judge Carlton Reeves

Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves

DOJ filed a lawsuit in 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to force Mississippi to adequately fund community-based mental health facilities.

On July 21, 2021, Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in favor of DOJ’s lawsuit and ordered the State of Mississippi to improve the funding of its community-based mental health assets. Judge Reeves appointed Dr. Michael Hogan, formerly Commissioner of Mental Health for the State of New York, as a special monitor to oversee Mississippi’s compliance with his order.

Mississippi Attorney-General Lynn Fitch responded by hiring the Phelps Dunbar law firm to try to minimize the financial impact on the state of Mississippi from the federal judge’s order and from Dr. Hogan’s work as the court-appointed monitor.

Judge Reeves responded by reaffirming his order.

Only 330 years ago “demonic possession” was considered a major cause of insanity and about 20 women were convicted and executed as witches in Salem, Massachusetts.

A hundred and eighty years ago in the 1840s, nurse and educator Dorothea Dix, while visiting a prison in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, observed four mentally ill women who had been designated as “looney paupers.” The women were locked up in filthy conditions. Dix wrote of mentally ill people “…confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.”

NEMiss.News MS State Lunatic Asylum

Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum (est. 1855) in Jackson, MS

Dix became an effective advocate for what was known as the “mental hygiene movement.” She is credited with instigating nationwide political interest that resulted in the establishment, between 1840 and 1880, of more than 30 state psychiatric hospitals, sometimes called “insane asylums.”

The Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield is one example of such state mental institutions established a century or more ago.

NEMiss.News MS. State Hospital

Mississippi’s mental hospital  was relocated in 1935 and renamed “Whitfield” in honor of Gov. Henry L Whitfield.

For about a hundred years, the large state-run mental hospitals or “lunatic asylums” such as Whitfield were the norm in mental health treatment in America. Some of these state institutions housed more than 10,000 patients or “inmates.” Even Whitfield, in a relatively small state, had 3,000 patients in 1935.

In the 1950s, thinking among mental health professions shifted to the belief that smaller “community-based” treatment centers were a more efficient and humane way to treat mental illness.

It was argued that patients did better living in the general population, not in large institutions. They were to live with their families or in small state-operated community-based homes and receive treatment in smaller community treatment centers. This trend was sometimes called “deinstitutionalization.”

Deinstitutionalization became the official policy of the federal government with the passage of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963.

Many argue that deinstitutionalization has been a failure because, among other reasons, families are simply not capable of dealing at home with their members who suffer acute mental health episodes. The growing number of homeless people on the streets of American cities is often blamed on “mental patients being dumped out of institutions and onto the streets.”

In fact, much of the population formerly housed in the large state mental asylums is now housed in jails and prisons. As if another overly-long and unpronounceable word was needed, critics of deinstitutionalization call this process “transinstitutionalization.” Transinstitutionalization simply means that mental patients, instead of being housed in large state mental hospitals, are lodged in a variety of institutions including county jails, state prisons, half-way houses, acute care hospitals — a hodge-podge of institutions that are in no way prepared to deliver useful treatment for the mentally ill.

The largest single population of mentally ill persons in any American institution today is housed at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. The largest population of these unfortunate persons in the state of New York is housed at the New York City Jail on Riker’s Island in the East River.

Representative Creekmore and his subcommittee face a daunting task.

Nearly everyone agrees that more community-based mental health services are needed. Most would agree that local law enforcement agencies should not bear responsibility for dealing with patients in a mental health crisis.

The heavy lifting will come in finding the money to do what needs to be done. As always, the devil is in the details.



Report: DOJ believes Trump may still be holding onto government documents. Alabama prisoners strike over inhumane conditions. Iran protests: Family say 2nd girl murdered by police.



Report: DOJ believes Trump may still be holding onto government documents

Citing anonymous sources familiar with the investigation, the New York Times is reporting that the Justice Department is skeptical that Trump has returned all the government documents he carried off from the White House. The DOJ has reportedly been in continuous talks with certain members of Trump’s legal team in recent weeks. The reporting implies that these talks are similar in nature to months of talks with Trump’s team aimed at recovering stolen documents. It was only after months of bad faith negotiations that the DOJ authorized a search of Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.

Since that August 8th search, questions have been swirling about dozens of empty folders with classification markings found by the FBI. It’s likely that the documents once contained in those folders are still in Trump’s possession. The question is, “Where?”. Some have pointed to a video from 2021 which has recently received attention. The video shows Trump getting on a private plane in Florida headed to New Jersey, where Trumph has his Bedminster golf resort. In the video, Trump aides can be seen carrying several heavy boxes which are identical to the boxes found to contain government documents at Mar-a-Lago. The reason this is significant is that this May 8, 2021, flight took place just two days after the National Archives reached out to the Trump team with concerns that documents belonging to the government may be at Mar-a-Lago.

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Alabama prisoners strike protesting inhumane conditions

Since late last month, prisoners at all 13 Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) prisons have been on strike from unpaid prison service jobs. Alabama prisoners routinely perform laundry, food service and maintenance work in prisons for no compensation. Since the strike began, ADOC has reduced the daily meals prisoners receive from three to two and canceled weekend visitations. While some prisoners say this is retaliation, ADOC says the cutbacks are due to logistical constraints due to the strike. However, ADOC insists the prisons remain fully operational.

Without prisoners to do much of the work, ADOC likely is experiencing logistical setbacks due to a long-standing staffing shortage that only worsened during the pandemic. This is in part why prisoners are striking. Advocates say these staffing shortages have led to, among other things, inadequate food, increased violence in the prisons, dangerous living conditions, and appalling shortfalls in medical and mental healthcare. In 2017, the Justice Department said these and other deficiencies in ADOC’s prisons violated inmates’ constitutional rights. But since that report, the situation has only gotten worse.

Prisoners are also demanding reforms to the state’s parole system and sentencing laws, both of which have led to dangerous overcrowding. ADOC prisons currently house over 20,000 prisoners in prisons designed to hold a maximum of 12,115.

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Family say second girl murdered by police in Iran protests

Iranian authorities claim that Nika Shakarami, 16, fell from a building during recent historic protests against the country’s morality police. Shakarami’s family say that she was beaten to death by police. Furthermore, Shakarami’s family say authorities kept her death a secret for nine days, then snatched her body from a morgue and buried her in a remote area.

Conflicting reports over Shakarami’s death signal that Iran’s elites fear that her death at the hands of police may stir further anger and protests. The protests began nearly four weeks ago when Zhina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Amini had been arrested for wearing her headscarf improperly. Meanwhile, the state coroner has ruled that Amini’s death was not a result of blows to her body but an underlying condition. Iran’s protesters are not likely to accept these findings

Another 16-year-old Sarina Esmailzadeh died after being beaten in the head and body with batons at a rally. Authorties are insisting that Esmailzadeh also died from jumping off a building.

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