In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism] Goddammit: "A Baltimore police officer has been acquitted of assault and other charges in the arrest of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died a week after he was critically injured in police custody. A judge found Officer Edward Nero not guilty of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. The judge announced his verdict on Monday. Nero was one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the case. He waived his right to a jury trial, opting instead to argue his case before Circuit Judge Barry Williams. An earlier trial for an officer charged with manslaughter in the case ended in a hung jury in December." So is anyone going to be held accountable for Freddie Gray's death? Anyone? At any point? Fucking hell.

[CN: Racism; murder] "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a black Georgia death row inmate convicted in 1987 of murdering an elderly white woman, finding that prosecutors unlawfully excluded black potential jurors in selecting an all-white jury. In a 7-1 ruling, the court handed a victory to inmate Timothy Foster, 48, who asserted prosecutorial misconduct after he was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1986 murder of Queen White, a 79-year-old retired schoolteacher. The justices threw out Foster's conviction after decades on death row. He could still potentially face a retrial. During jury selection, all four black members of the pool of potential jurors were removed by prosecutors, who gave reasons not related to race for their decision to exclude them. Only white jurors were selected for the panel that ended up convicting Foster and sentencing him to death. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court's majority, wrote that prosecution notes introduced into evidence 'plainly belie the state's claim that it exercised its strikes (removing a potential juror) in a 'color blind' manner.' At the time of the trial, Foster's legal arguments over jury selection failed. It was only in 2006 that his lawyers obtained access to the prosecution's jury selection notes, which showed that the race of the black potential jurors was highlighted, indicating 'an explicit reliance on race,' according to Foster's attorneys."

In other SCOTUS news: "One of the Most Aggressive Gerrymanders in the Country Just Lost in the Supreme Court."

[CN: Racism; carcerality] This is a really important bit of investigative work, analysis, and reporting on "risk assessment" algorithms that are used "to inform decisions about who can be set free at every stage of the criminal justice system, from assigning bond amounts—as is the case in Fort Lauderdale—to even more fundamental decisions about defendants' freedom." In case you haven't already guessed, they assess higher risks for black people accused of crimes than they do white people accused of crimes. But that is a simplification of the complex problems with risk assessment software. I strongly urge you to settle in and read the whole thing.

[CN: War; terrorism; death and injury] Awful, just awful: "A pair of bombings carried out by Islamic State militants killed at least 45 people in Yemen's southern city of Aden on Monday, targeting young men seeking to join the army who gathered at two recruitment centers, security officials said. One suicide car bomber killed at least 20, while a second bomber on foot detonated an explosives vest at the other recruitment center, killing at least 25. Scores of others were wounded, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. The local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group claimed responsibility for two attacks in a statement posted on social media networks by sympathizers... Monday's blasts underline the precarious security situation in Aden, the country's main port on the Arabian Sea, several months after government forces and allied militiamen backed by a Saudi-led coalition retook the city from the Shiite rebels, also known as the Houthis. The city has in recent months seen a series of suicide bombings and assassinations mainly targeting army and security forces."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] "President Barack Obama announced Monday that the United States is fully lifting a decades-long ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam. In a joint news conference in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Obama said that the removal of the ban on lethal weapons was part of a deeper defense cooperation with the country and dismissed suggestions it was aimed at countering China's growing strength in the region. Instead, it was the desire to continue normalizing relations between the United States and Vietnam and to do away with a ban 'based on ideological division between our two countries,' he said."

[CN: White supremacy] Phew: "Alexander Van der Bellen has won Austria's presidential election, preventing Norbert Hofer from becoming the EU's first far-right head of state. Mr Hofer led narrowly after Sunday's election but postal votes gave Mr Van der Bellen victory by 50.3% to 49.7%. Mr Van der Bellen campaigned on a pro-EU platform backed by the Greens Party. Mr Hofer, of the Freedom Party, tapped into anti-EU sentiment and fears about rising numbers of asylum seekers. ...At his swearing-in as Freedom Party candidate, Mr Hofer wore a cornflower in his lapel, which was a Nazi symbol in the 1930s. French PM Manuel Valls said in a Twitter post: 'It's a relief to see the Austrians reject populism and extremism. Everyone in Europe must draw lessons from this.'"

[CN: Misogyny; racism; war on agency] "In July 2013, an Indiana woman named Purvi Patel sought treatment at a hospital emergency room for heavy vaginal bleeding, telling doctors she'd had a miscarriage. That set off a chain of events, which eventually led in February 2015 to a jury convicting Patel of one count of feticide and one count of felony neglect of a dependent. Patel was ordered in March to serve 20 years in prison for that conviction. On Monday, attorneys for Patel will argue to the Indiana Court of Appeals that Patel's conviction of feticide and felony neglect is contradictory, and thus should be overturned. Furthermore, they will say, it opens the door to wide-scale prosecution of pregnancy terminations in the state."

[CN: Zika] This is a must-read: "Zika is coming, but we're far from ready." It's important not only because Ronald Klain details the problem, but also because he proposes an eminently reasonable solution.

From the Wall Street Journal: "Though Donald Trump dispensed with his last primary opponent months before Hillary Clinton will, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee trails far behind the leading Democrat in organizing in key general-election states." And yet, virtually every headline I'm reading today says it's a DEAD HEAT, because POLLS. Polls are not all that matters. Especially because the average person isn't tapped into little things (ahem) like how one candidate's organization makes the other's look like a broken-down clown show.

And finally! "Bearded Dragon and Cat Become Two Unlikely Best Friends." Awwwwww lol. I sure wouldn't recommend assuming that cats and lizards will get along (!!!) but this is pretty darn cute.

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