Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it. You say the word too much and it becomes cheap. Ray Charles
The Company Dime.
A Short Story by
John William Tuohy
The Company’s Dime
John William Tuohy
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities between persons alive or dead is just one of those remarkable coincidences you hear about every now and then.
As always, they met instead at the Tombs on 36th Street because meeting on the Hill was too obvious. The Tombs was good enough to serve their purpose, especially during the day when the students from Georgetown didn’t monopolize the place.
The lawyer, that’s what they called him, was a contract man for the company. He worked on staff to a senior US Senator and the company’s man on Capitol Hill. In that capacity he had sole access to a seven figure slush fund and many other less impressive tools.
He had proven his worth to Langley when his team of three information technology specialists and a Senate building janitor hatched a successful break into a protected database used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Once inside the data base, his team delated accurate files that detailed the company’s most sensitive activities with “modified version” files. Several years before that, another team he employed had placed monitors on computers of every chief of staff on the Hill.
He met the two men from Langley as they all entered the Tombs together. Taking a standard covert seat in back of the restaurant they ordered lunch and with that done sat back in their seats.
The lawyer spoke first.
“You know the owner named this place after T.S. Eliot’s poem, "Bustopher Jones: The Cat about Town."
“But it’s called the Tombs,” Ash said.
“Yes, of course, I meant the Tombs is mentioned in the poem.”
“T.S Eliot knew about this place?” Ash asked “Wasn’t he from Europe or something?”
“No,” the lawyer started hesitantly. “What I meant was….”
In mid-sentence he realized that in his attempt to explain himself, poetry and Eliot were fruitless. Company men are not known for their literary interests.
“Why don’t we get down to it” Anderson said. “Why are we here?”
Pleased to be onto a new subject and choosing to overlooks Anderson’s obnoxious ways, the lawyer answered, “The Company’s name is being mentioned on the Hill and not in a good way.”
“Nothing new there,” Ash smirked in an all too blatant play to win Anderson’s approval.
“Over the past 12 years,” the lawyer said, “a man named John Cotton Teale has been a high-level staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s 64 years old and works as a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation. His base salary is $164,700. He has been with the agency for 19 years. His background is clean. We checked. He grew up in Fairfax County, graduated from the University of Maryland and took his MA from George Washington on the government’s dime. Divorced. His ex-wife is a managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation. No children. Lives in Arlington, near Marymount University. Starting about three years ago Teale started working on a second Masters, in fine arts in writing. At about that same time he was often away from his job and started to cultivate an air of mystery and explained his lengthy absences by telling his bosses that he was doing top-secret work for you guys.”
“For the company?” Anderson asked.
“Yes” the lawyer answered. “Was he?”
“No,” Anderson answered.
The lawyer looked Anderson directly in the eye and waited.
“He is not with us,” Anderson said again.
“The problem is,” the lawyer continued, “he travelled to China, South Korea, South Africa and England, Fiji, a couple of dozen other places and all of it, first class air travel, first class hotels, everything, picked up by EPA.”
“First class?” Anderson asked.
“Yes sir. He said it was a CIA requirement necessary for deep cover agents. There was one flight, to London, that cost taxpayers $14,000. A coach ticket would have cost just $1,000.”
“I’m a goddamn senior man with the firm and even I don’t fly first class,” Anderson said.
“Last year he took off two months on sick leave, paid of course, said he had picked up a case of malaria in the Amazon while working for us. At the beginning of this year he took off for about six months. He told his managers he was working on a research project or working for Langley, for you guys.”
“And where was he for six months?” Anderson asked.
“Based on phone records,” the lawyer said, “he was at his beach house in Cape Cod. He has a summer place there.”
“He has a summer house?” Ash said, mostly for his own benefit.
“And no one,” Anderson asked “not one single person doubted any of this? They just took this nut at his word?”
“Yes and no. On the few occasions he was asked to explain his expenses and his travel he always replied that he was, and I quote “doing sensitive work for another agency.”
“And no one found this,” Ash searched for a word, shrugged and said, “odd?”
“Apparently, no one checked,” the lawyer said. “They just believed him. In fact last year his was given a $25,000 bonus as a retention incentive so he wouldn’t leave the agency and go to work for an energy company.”
A waiter brought water to the table. They waited. When he left, they continued.
“Did he plan to leave the agency and go to work for an energy company?” Anderson asked.
“No. The retention incentive is something the EPA gives out to all its senior people.”
“Maybe we should all find a job with them,” Ash smiled. No one looked at him.
“Anyway,” the lawyer continued, “he started working a four-day work week.”
“I know the answer to this but let me ask anyway,” Anderson said. “Did anyone ask why he was taking the fifth day off?”
“Yes. An administrator inquired and Teale replied….in writing….let me repeat that….he replied in writing….that he had to spend at least one day a week at Langley on paperwork.”
Anderson sat back in his chair and shook his head in disbelief. “He didn’t try to hide this?”
“No. Not at all. In fact on his EPA electronic calendar, he wrote that he was working at the CIA's Directorate of Operations. He told several managers at the EPA that he had been assigned to an interagency, special advisory group between the State, CIA, the White House and for some reason, the EPA. Anyway, is he caught now?”
“How did they catch on to him?” Ash said as he looked around for the waiter. “We should order, I have to get back.”
“One of EPA’s administrators got wind of Teale’s remarkable expense account and started asking questions. The administrator launched an in house investigation and then turned over her findings to the Inspector General Office and they launched their own investigation. They interviewed 140 people at EPA who knew about Teale’s supposed secret agent background. Amazingly not one of them ever suspected Teale was a fraud.”
“Let me interrupt you,” Anderson said as he snapped his fingers in the air for the waiter. “Can we trust the Inspector General’s office to keep this buried?”
“The EPA’s inspector general? Sure”
“Because the Inspector General’s role is to investigate improprieties with their assigned branch of government and if they find anything, they bury it. Basically the Inspector General’s job is to ensure that the branch they work under is never embarrassed”
“Go on,” Anderson said as he turned to look for the waiter.
“The IG’s office compared Beale’s cellphone records to his travel expenses and determined that when he claimed to be in Pakistan and other locations on CIA business, he was really at his Massachusetts’ vacation home.”
“Doing what?” Anderson asked.
“Writing. Teale is an amateur novelist.”
“Let me guess,” Ash added, “spy novels. He writes spy novels.”
“Why did I know that?” he sighed, smiled too fondly and shook his head.
“Well, the IG’s office called Langley, told them the story and Langley confirmed that he wasn’t with you guys.”
“But Langley never followed up?” Anderson asked.
“And Langley never notified the interior decorators?” Anderson asked. The interior decorators was company speak for internal security operations within the company.
“Apparently not,” the lawyer said. “Anyway the IG’s people contacted Teale and told him they wanted him to meet them at Langley. Rather than appear at the meeting, Beale admitted his deception. He’s under house restriction.”
The waiter, a senior at Georgetown Ash reckoned, appeared, apologized for his lateness and took their orders. Two Manhattans, wet. All good company men are drinkers. Three salads, three steaks, coffee. It was on the company’s dime. When the waiter left the lawyer continued, “He’s into the EPA for an estimated $886,000, in the form of unearned pay.” The lawyer continued, “And then there’s fraud, and conspiracy. At the least he’s looking at eight years in federal prison. At the least.”
“The EPA will never press this thing,” Ash said confidently. “They’ll look like idiots.”
“They don’t have a choice,” the lawyer said. “Somebody squealed to Senator Stroman’s office. Stroman heads up the agricultural committee, he’s from Iowa, a farming state where the EPA is considered a branch of the Nazi party. There’s an election coming. Stroman wants a piece of the EPA’s ass and he’s going, very, very public with this thing.”
“So why are we here?” Anderson asked.
“It’s a heads up. Stroman doesn’t like you guys much either. He’s going to drag the company into this thing because Teale is sticking to his guns on being part of CIA.”
Anderson sat up straight in his chair, leaned forward and smiled. “You can assure the people on the Hill that the company is clean on this one. Absolutely and completely clean.”
Then he leaned back, looked the lawyer straight in the eye, nodded and said,
“Now where’s that fucking waiter?”
When the meal finished and the lawyer was gone, Ash and Anderson stepped out onto the street.
“I think we’re okay on this one,” Ash said. “No one believes Teale, they figure he’s a nut and besides he doesn’t really know anything.”
“Anderson pulled his lips together tightly, “I’m not so sure.”
“What was he doing for us?” Ash asked.
“Teale? Checking air radiation levels in countries where we’ve let off a few next generation germ bombs. That kind of stupid horse shit. Something to do with cancer. The company figured he already had a good cover to get into those places, he already knew the local scientific community.”
They fell silent and walked down 31st street.
“I think Teale needs to be taken out of this equation,” Anderson said. “Without Teale they have nothing and a heart attack makes sense. He’s the right age for one. Under a lot of pressure, out of a job, facing jail time. He had a heart attack.”
“Chief,” Ash said, “like I said, Teale doesn’t really know anything and you know how Langley doesn’t like domestic accidents. They can be messy.”
Anderson stopped walking, turned and stood very close to Ash and said in a hushed tone, “What can get messy is if someone figures out all the other active participants we have in the rest of government, the GSA, DID, National Archives….all of them working for us and charging their time to every agency in government.”
“The National Archives?” Ash said.
“Sure, you never know, we might need to change history someday. Look at it this way, we have, what? A thousand active participants in the federal government alone, then you toss in a few thousand more in state and local governments. All of them working for us on somebody else’s dime. That gets around and we’re in the midst of a self-made shit storm that could bring down everything and I mean everything. Okay Teale went overboard. We should have kept better track of him. It was a screw up. But we can’t have this. We won’t have this. He’s under house restriction. Go there. Bring the right people. They know what to do. This has to happen.”
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” Kahlil Gibran
ART FROM THE ORDINARY.....
Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” - Henry David Thoreau
PHOTOGRAPHS I'VE TAKEN: THE DOGS OF BOURBON STREET
GOOD WORDS TO HAVE..........................
Obeisance \oh-BEE-sunss\ 1:a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission : bow 2: acknowledgment of another's superiority or importance : homage
When it first appeared in English in the late 14th century, obeisance shared the same meaning as obedience. This makes sense given that obeisance can be traced back to the Anglo-French verb obeir, which means "to obey" and is also an ancestor of our word obey. The other senses of obeisance also date from the 14th century, but they have stood the test of time whereas the obedience sense is now obsolete.
Inter alia (IN-tuhr AY-lee-uh, AH-) adverb: Among other things. From Latin inter (among) + alius (other).
Refractory \rih-FRAK-tuh-ree\ 1: resisting control or authority : stubborn, unmanageable 2: resistant to treatment or cure 3: capable of enduring high temperatures. Refractory is from the Latin word refractarius. During the 17th century, it was sometimes spelled as refractary, but that spelling, though more in keeping with its Latin parent, had fallen out of use by the century's end. Refractarius, like refractory, is the result of a slight variation in spelling. It stems from the Latin verb refragari, meaning "to oppose." Although refractory often describes things that are unpleasantly stubborn or resistant (such as diseases and unruly audiences), not all senses of refractory are negative. Refractory clays and bricks, for example, are capable of withstanding high temperatures.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Mahatma Gandhi
PEOPLE TAKING PICTURES OF PEOPLE: DUBLIN IRELAND
PEOPLE TAKING PICTURES OF PEOPLE: DUBLIN IRELAND
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.”
HERE'S A NICE POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY...........................
By Raymond Carver
I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world—
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy—I have so much
to be thankful for already.
Bustopher Jones: The Cat about Town
By T.S. Eliot
Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones -
In fact, he's remarkably fat.
He doesn't haunt pubs - he has eight or nine clubs,
For he's the St. James's Street Cat!
He's the Cat we all greet as he walks down the street
In his coat of fastidious black:
No commonplace mousers have such well-cut trousers
Or such an impeccable back.
In the whole of St. James's the smartest of names is
The name of this Brummell of Cats;
And we're all of us proud to be nodded or bowed to
By Bustopher Jones in white spats!
His visits are occasional to the Senior Educational
and it is against the rules
For any one cat to belong both to that
And the Joint Superior Schools.
For a similar reason, when game is in season
He is found, not at Fox's, but Blimp's;
But he's frequently seen at the gay Stage and Screen
Which is famous for winkles and shrimps.
In the season of venison he gives his ben'son
To the Pothunter's succulent bones;
And just before noon's not a moment too soon
To drop in for a drink at the Drones.
When he's seen in a hurry there's probably curry
At the Siamese - or at the Glutton;
If he looks full of gloom then he's lunched at the Tomb
On cabbage, rice pudding and mutton.
So, much in this way, passes Bustopher's day -
At one club or another he's found.
It can cause no surprise that under our eyes
He has grown unmistakably round.
He's a twenty-five pounder, or I am a bounder,
And he's putting on weight every day:
But he's so well preserved because he's observed
All his life a routine, so he'll say.
And (to put it in rhyme) `I shall last out my time'
Is the word of this stoutest of Cats.
It must and it shall be Spring in Pall Mall
While Bustopher Jones wears white spats!
"Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town" is a poem from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and a song from the Cats musical which is based on that poem.
Due to his constant lunching at these clubs, he is a remarkably fat "25-pounder". He has a fastidiously black coat and apparently has white markings on his paws which resemble spats. Because of these traits, he is described as "the Brummell of cats" – a reference to Beau Brummell, the founder of dandyism.
FROM NEW YORK CITY PLAYWRIGHTS
*** FREE TICKETS: IN BED WITH ROY COHN ***
Up to 10 tickets are being given away per the following performances for IN BED WITH ROY COHN playing at The Lion Theater.
For more information: http://www.inbedwithroycohn.com
• Tues Sept 8 @ 7pm
• Wed Sept 9 @ 8pm
• Thurs Sept 10 @8pm
• Fri Sept 11 @ 8pm
Tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. A maximum of two tickets per person will be allowed.
To claim your ticket(s) contact Krissi@amandabohanmarketing.com with the number of tickets you want (1 or 2) and the date you wish to attend.
Ticket requests are first come, first served. If the date you request fills up, Krissi will let you know so that you can pick an alternate date.
If you request tickets, you MUST show up.
Please don't broadcast that the tickets were free (i.e. on social media). But feel free to post if you like the show, of course!
*** FREE THEATER IN NYC ***
Public Works: THE ODYSSEY
September 4 - 7
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park
The Public Theater’s Public Works program creates ambitious works of participatory theater in partnership with community organizations from all five boroughs of New York City. This year, Obie Award-winning director LEAR DEBESSONET and lyricist/composer TODD ALMOND, the team behind the acclaimed Public Works' productions of The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale, join forces again to create a breathtaking new musical adaptation, THE ODYSSEY.
*** PRIMARY STAGES: WEB SERIES ***
Write the first season of your very own web series with Adam Szymkowicz at Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA). The Web Series is a platform for writers to do what they want, unrestricted by producers or censors and uniquely positioned to go viral. Over the course of this 10-week class, our studios will transform into a TV writer’s room as you develop the first season of your dramatic or comedic web series. You’ll pitch, outline, and write an 8-episode series that will be ready to shoot. Class starts September 29. Payment plans available.
*** PLAYWRIGHTS OPPORTUNITIES ***
The City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting furthers the Company’s mission to identify, acknowledge and award excellence in short form dramatic writing. Known for developing and producing ten-minute works by established talents and promising new voices, City Theatre will select up to twenty-five plays from among its annual Contest submissions for special recognition. The National Award is valued at $2,000: the Winning Play will be produced in the annual Summer Shorts festival; the Winning Playwright will earn royalties, a cash prize of $1,000 and be invited to Miami for the festival.
Two Muses Theatre of West Bloomfield is excited to announce the return of its wildly successful Women’s Playwriting Festival. After delighting packed houses last year, we are thrilled to bring the festival back and are looking for more wonderful plays by female writers.
This year the festival will be limited to 10 minute plays. Ten minutes is not a suggestion, but a requirement. Please note plays that run over ten minutes will be edited by our resident dramaturge if necessary. Conversations will be made to confirm edits, but it is highly encouraged that you read your play aloud with friends and time it.
Four Quarter Theater involves theatrical writers, directors, and actors in collaboration to develop and to workshop previously unproduced ten-minute works. In each quarter of the year, and aligning with the seasons, Four Quarter Theater aims to produce a new set of ten-minute works. Each season is framed around a theme, which relates to the season in which the quarter falls.
*** FOR MORE INFORMATION on these and other opportunities see the web site at http://www.nycplaywrights.org ***
*** THEATER MARKETING ***
Marketing Your Play
Marketing our play? What? Why do we have to think about marketing? Our parents are going to come anyway. Isn't putting on a play work enough?
Putting on a play is a lot of work and at the high school level, that's often all you need to do. But in a world of shrinking arts department budgets, marketing is something that shouldn't be ignored. Furthermore, marketing is an excellent skill to acquire. It's something every actor, technician, make up artist and musician should try their hand at. Because it's not just about the play. Figuring out how to get butts in seats, particularly those belonging to non-family members and people not connected to the play, is a tough but worthy exercise. It will give you a whole different perspective!
Not only are the articles and exercises in this newsletter useful for your next play production, they're designed for classwork. Divide the class into groups, create imaginary theatre companies and set them to work. How would you create a dynamic marketing plan in an age when traditional marketing is dying off? What is alternative marketing? What goes into creating an effective poster or press release?
Gotta Have A Plan
Why do we need a plan? We don't have a marketing budget for our play, what would we plan for?
The marketing plan is much more than a list of things to spend money on or deciding where to hang posters. It is an excellent way to organize your thoughts.
The purpose of a marketing plan is to come up with a specific profile of who you are, what you are doing, what your goals are, and what audience you're trying to reach. It's important to know who you are and what you're aiming for. A plan gives direction to a production whether there is money to be spent or not. And in the classroom, since you're working with a theoretical play and a theoretical plan, you can spend theoretical money!
REAPING FACE(BOOK): SOCIAL NETWORKING, THEATER MARKETING
I joined Facebook in May 2008, in order to market my production of the moment, the third annual Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood Festival. Apparently, much of the rest of the world discovered the site at approximately the same time. As of August 2008, Facebook had one-hundred million users. In early April of this year, its membership hit two-hundred million.
MySpace, founded in 2003, pioneered online social networking. However, over the course of 2008 Facebook sped past MySpace in terms of both overall number of users and average time spent on the site. Adult users, in particular, appreciate Facebook’s privacy controls, which are easier to use and more finely customizable than those available to MySpace users. Facebook was also the first social networking site to open itself to applications created by external software developers. Twitter, founded in 2006, has also grown quickly in popularity.
A Strategic Plan for Marketing a Theatre Show
My least favorite thing about producing theatre is naturally my most stressful. Something I’ve learned over the years is that the things that are the most stressful for me are things that I have the least control over. And when I’m talking theatre, my most stressful/least favorite thing is trying to get butts in seats.
Butts-In-Seats falls into my marketing toolbox. I know I’m not alone in this, but there are essentially zero examples of marketing/advertising plans out there for theatre, especially smaller theatre. What you kind find in books are too general for a company producing in a specific city, and often out of date. I know; I’ve searched. And other companies don’t share— it’s like taboo, a jealously guarded secret. We will post Youtube video of our shows, talk about our process, throw out a few marketing tips, but the bulk of our marketing plan is secret. It’s a competition. There are limited resources.
Wilma Theater Marketing Gap Analysis
The Wilma Theater used geography to better understand their patron base and plan future marketing campaigns to increase patronage of the theater.
Client: The Wilma Theater
Challenge: Though it has a very strong and loyal patron base, as one of more than 80 theaters in the Greater Philadelphia region, The Wilma Theater faces significant competition to attract new patrons through its doors. Believing that a stronger understanding of their existing customer base would help them to better market themselves to potential new audience members, the Wilma set out to study their patrons, calling on Azavea to add a geographic component to the analysis.
There's No Business Like Show Business - Strategies For Successful Theater Marketing
When you think about live theater, what comes to mind for most people is Broadway and the soldout shows that grace its famous stages. Unfortunately, theater isn’t always as high-profile as a Broadway show in the Big Apple. Many theaters painstakingly dedicate a lot of time and effort into getting people to buy tickets to first-run or lesser-known shows.
Through our experience working with the theater industry across a variety of clients, we have discovered that a solid combination of highly targeted paid media coupled with a solid social media presence can help drive ticket sales. Here are a few tips in using paid and social media correctly when it comes to advertising to the theater-going audience.
1. Brand your theater. The reason Broadway shows sell so well is because they are just that – a “Broadway” show. If you brand your theater properly, you aren’t just driving consumers to a single show, but to your theater’s showcase of shows. This is great way to build loyalty and enhance ticket and subscription sales. When it comes to your creative, brand yourself and make your theater known.
The Difficulty of Theater Marketing
With a significant drop in performing arts attendance, having a theater-marketing guru is imperative to the success of a theater.
According to a survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, analytics show that audience attendance has been steadily decreasing since 2008. This decline could be attributed to the growth of digital media — more than 70 percent of adults in America viewed media through electronic devices in 2012.
It’s difficult for local theaters to captivate and obtain attendees. As Meghan Truhett, the marketing director for the Arts & Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa, stated, “Historical theaters are true survivors.”
Truhett, who also handles marketing for the Bama Theatre, a historical theater in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Amanda Long, the director of programs and marketing for Stage 773, a four-theater performance facility located in the Belmont Theater District of Chicago, offer insight on how marketing plays a role in upping the numbers during an unstable time within the performing arts community.
Theatre marketing top tips from West Yorkshire Playhouse
What's the first thing you do when you're marketing a production?
Paula Rabbit, head of press: When we begin to work on a press campaign one of the very first things we do, other than read the script, is talk to the director – find out what their vision for the show is because they are a mine of information about the play's background. If it's a new play, talk to the writer and find out what inspired them; very often their inspiration can make a great media pitch. Find out as much as you can from the actors too. What is particularly important in regional theatre is any sort of regional connection – local papers love a local angle.
Once we have all this information we write a press strategy, which can be incredibly specific: it details what the media pitch might be; what newspapers or websites it would be a good fit for; who we should approach and when we should do it. Photos are also really important so working into our plan when we'll have those is vital. Things change all the time so it's important the strategy is a working document.
Nick Boaden, head of marketing: Read the script, talk to the director and the writer (where possible – research the writer when not) to fully understand the production. We will often chat about our existing audiences and find "ways in" so that the director's creative vision will make sense to those audiences. We're not in the business of "persuading" people to see something they're going to get nothing out of – that helps absolutely no one.
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AND NOW FOR A BIT OF SHAKESPEARE
Act 2, Scene 2
Now I am alone.
Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wanned,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing—
What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba
That he should weep for her? What would he do
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing—no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me “villain”? Breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i' th' throat
As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?
'Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A scullion! Fie upon ’t, foh!
About, my brain.—Hum, I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions.
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks.
I’ll tent him to the quick. If he do blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
T' assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds
More relative than this. The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king
Boost your love life with laughter
Life coach and writer Sarah Abell, offers ways to improve your romantic life
Do you love a good giggle, mucking about, teasing or initiating fun games? Yes? Then it’s good news for you, because according to research, you have more chance of attracting a long-term partner than your more serious friends.
Let your light-hearted side out on a date. A new study by researchers at the University of Zurich* discovered that both men and women put kindness, intelligence, love of fun and humour at the top of their list of characteristics they value most in a potential partner.
The researchers interviewed 327 students and asked them to look at a list of 16 characteristics. They were then asked to indicate which ones of those they found the most desirable in a future long-term relationship.
The results showed that both men and women largely agreed on what they valued, although women on average ranked sense of humour more important than men, and more men than women appreciated an exciting personality.
According to the research, friendliness, humour, fun and playfulness are more important traits than having a degree, good genes, earning potential, good housekeeping skills or being religious.
It also transpired that participants who considered themselves to be playful were more likely to value playfulness in a mate and were more likely to be in a relationship than those who didn’t.
Now, try it out
Whether you’re single, dating or in a committed relationship, it’s never too late to let your playful side out.
§ Get playing. What did you love doing as a child? Whether it was playing Lego, colouring, kicking a football, climbing walls, board games, building sandcastles or dressing up – why not give it a go?
§ Go on an adventure. Stick a pin in the ‘What’s On’ section of your local paper and go to whichever event you land on. Get on the first train at your local station, go three stops and see where you end up, or order something you’ve never heard of in a restaurant.
§ Make time to laugh. What makes you and your friends or partner giggle? Whether it’s watching a good comedy, tickling, having a pillow fight or telling jokes, make sure you get chuckling soon.
§ Keep a record. Write down jokes, amusing stories, embarrassing moments or fun memories to remind yourself of them when you need a smile, or share them with your partner or potential date.
*Proyer, Rene T and Wagner, L, ‘Playfulness in Adults Revisited’, American Journal of Play, February 2015
For more from Sarah. visit nakedhedgehogs.com
Poverty tied to children’s emotional health
A new study published in the July 20 issue of JAMA Pediatrics revealed that poverty affects children’s brain development, emotional health and academic achievement. Researchers who conducted the study identified changes in brain architecture that can lead to lifelong problems with depression, learning difficulties and limitations in coping with stress.
“The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits,” researchers wrote. “These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.”
In the U.S., 22% of children are living in poverty, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.
The longitudinal cohort study analyzed 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data.
Participants were screened for various factors suspected to adversely affect brain development. Data were collected from November 2001 to August 2007 from six sites across the U.S., assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of three periods.
Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall U.S. demographics of i, race and ethnicity based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One quarter of households reported total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Results showed that low-income children had irregular brain development and lower standardized test scores, with as much as an estimated 20% gap in achievement explained by developmental lags in several critical areas of the brain, including total gray matter and the frontal lobe, temporal lobe and hippocampus, researchers stated in the study.
“Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm,” researchers wrote.
Findings suggest teaching nurturing skills to parents, particularly those living below the poverty line, may provide a lifetime of benefits for children, according to the study.
Researchers concluded interventions aimed at improving children’s environments may also alter the link between childhood poverty and deficits in cognition and academic achievement.
“The influence of poverty on children’s learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development,” researchers wrote in the study. “To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.”
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Teaching with Cases: A Practical Guide
Espen Andersen, Bill Schiano
Happiness feels intolerably elusive for many of us. Like fog, you can see it from afar, dense and full of shape. But upon approach, its particles loosen and suddenly it becomes out of reach, even though it’s all around you.
We put so much emphasis on the pursuit of happiness, but if you stop and think about it, to pursue is to chase something without a guarantee of ever catching it.
Up until about six years ago, I was fervently and ineffectively chasing happiness. My husband, Jim, and I were living in San Jose, California, with our two-year-old son and a second baby on the way. On paper, our life appeared rosy. Still, I couldn’t seem to find the joy. I always felt so guilty about my sadness. My problems were embarrassingly “first world.”
Then in September 2009, my world tilted. Jim fell severely ill. He was diagnosed with Swine Flu (H1N1) and West Nile (NOS), then Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), due to his compromised immune system.
Jim never worried about death. I did.
When we were told Jim’s illness was letting up, that he’d won this round, we were relieved. When we were told Jim might not walk for some time – likely a year, maybe longer – we were worried. We knew this prognosis meant the end of Jim’s career as a pro lacrosse player. What we didn’t know was how we’d pay the medical bills, or how much energy Jim would have for parenting.
With 10 weeks to go until the baby arrived, I had very little time to think and reflect. Jim, on the other hand, only had time. He was used to moving at high speeds, both in life and on the field, so minutes passed like hours in the hospital. He was kept busy with physical and occupational therapy, but he was also in need of psychological support.
He put out a note to people in his social networks, asking them for reading suggestions that would help him to mentally heal. Suggestions flowed in. Books and audio tapes were delivered bedside with notes about how they’d “helped so much” after whatever difficulty this person had also experienced but overcame.
Jim would spend his days reading motivational books from Tony Robbins and Oprah or watching TED talks, like Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight, about the impacts of brain trauma. He would analyze spiritual books by Deepak Chopra and the Dalai Lama. Or review scientific research papers about happiness and gratitude written by researchers Martin Seligman, Shawn Achor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and many others.
There was a repeated theme throughout all the literature – gratitude. It would weave in and out of the science, the true stories, and the drivers for success. Jim responded by starting a gratitude journal of his own. He got very thankful – thankful for the people who changed his sheets. Thankful for the family that would bring him hot meals at dinner. Thankful for the nurse who would encourage him and thankful for the extra time his rehab team would give on their own time. They once told Jim that they were only putting in extra time because they knew how grateful he was for their efforts.
He asked that I participate in his efforts, and because I wanted to help him to heal so badly and I was seeing how hard it was for him, I tried with all my efforts to be in a positive place when I came into his world inside that hospital room. I wasn’t always my best. I sometimes resented that I couldn’t break down – but after a while I started to see how rapidly he was getting better. And although our paths weren’t congruent, we were making it work. I was “coming around.”
It was shaky and scary, but when Jim walked out of the hospital on crutches (he stubbornly refused the wheelchair) only six weeks after he was rushed by ambulance to the ER, we decided there was something more to his healing than just dumb luck.
One of those early books that influenced Jim was Flourish, by Dr. Martin Seligman, psychologist and former President of the American Psychology Association. Seligman was responsible for defining the term “PERMA,” the root of many positive psychology research projects around the world. The acronym stands for the five elements essential to lasting contentment:
Positive Emotion: Peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, and love fall into this category.
Engagement: Losing ourselves to a task or project that provides us with a sense of “disappeared time” because we are so highly engaged.
Relationships: People who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not.
Meaning: Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether a religion or a cause that helps humanity in some way, we all need meaning in our lives.
Accomplishment/Achievement: To feel significant life satisfaction, we must strive to better ourselves in some way.
We slowly brought these five tenets back into our life. Jim returned to Wilfrid Laurier University to research neuroscience, and we promptly started up Plasticity Labs to help teach others what we’d learned about the pursuit of happiness. As our lives came to include more empathy, gratitude, and meaning, I stopped feeling sad.
So when I see the recent skepticism directed at the positive psychology movement, I take it personally. Do these critics have a problem with gratitude? Relationships? Meaning? Hope?
Perhaps part of the problem is that we oversimplify happiness in our pop culture and media, which makes it easy to discard as unproven. As Dr. Vanessa Buote, a postdoctoral fellow in social psychology, put it in an email to me:
One of the misconceptions about happiness is that happiness is being cheerful, joyous, and content all the time; always having a smile on your face. It’s not – being happy and leading rich lives is about taking the good with the bad, and learning how to reframe the bad. In fact, recent research titled “Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem,” by Harvard [researcher Jordi] Quoidbach, found that experiencing a wide range of emotions – both positive and negative – was linked to positive mental and physical well-being.
Not only do we tend to misunderstand what happiness is, we also tend to chase it the wrong way. Shawn Achor, the researcher and corporate trainer who wrote the HBR article “Positive Intelligence,” told me most people think about happiness the wrong way: “The biggest misconception of the happiness industry is that happiness is an end, not a means. We think that if we get what we want, then we’ll be happy. But it turns out that our brains actually work in the opposite direction.”
Buote agrees: “We sometimes tend to see ‘being happy’ as the end goal, but we forget that what’s really important is the journey; finding out what makes us the happiest and regularly engaging in those activities to help us lead a more fulfilling life.”
In other words, we’re not happy when we’re chasing happiness. We’re happiest when we’re not thinking about it, when we’re enjoying the present moment because we’re lost in a meaningful project, working toward a higher goal, or helping someone who needs us.
Healthy positivity doesn’t mean cloaking your authentic feelings. Happiness is not the absence of suffering; it’s the ability to rebound from it. And happiness is not the same as joy or ecstasy; happiness includes contentment, well-being, and the emotional flexibility to experience a full range of emotions. At our company, some of us have dealt with anxiety and depression. Some have experienced PTSD. Some of us have witnessed severe mental illness in our families and some of us have not. We openly share. Or we don’t – either way is fine. We support tears in the office, if the situation calls for it (in both sorrow and in laughter).
Today, perhaps looking for a “fresh angle,” some have even argued that happiness is harmful. The point of practicing exercises that help increase mental and emotional fitness is not to learn to paste a smile on your face or wish away your problems. It’s to learn to handle stressors more resiliently, just the way you wouldn’t run a marathon without training for it.
During my time with Jim in the hospital, I watched him change; in subtle ways at first, but then all at once, I realized that gratitude and happiness gave me a gift. It gave me Jim. If happiness is harmful – then I say, bring it on.
Jennifer Moss is cofounder and Chief Communications Officer of Plasticity Labs, a technology startup on a mission to give 1 billion people the tools to live a happier, higher-performing life. For her work in leadership and public service, Jennifer was honored with The National Public Service Award from the Office of President Obama and an International Female Entrepreneur of the Year Stevie™ Award.
"We are always getting ready to live but never living."
To view more Emerson quotes or read a life background on Emerson please visit the books blog spot. We update the blog bi-monthly emersonsaidit.blogspot.com
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The Case Against Cash Bail
BY MARGARET TALBOT
Momentum is building to reform the nation’s cash-bail system, but the bail-bond industry and commercial surety interests almost certainly will resist such attempts.
Momentum is building to reform the nation’s cash-bail system, but the bail-bond industry and commercial surety interests almost certainly will resist such attempts.
It’s obvious that jail isn’t good for the jailed. It may be particularly bad for people accused of minor crimes, who are confined not because they are likely to be dangerous but because, under our cash-bail system, they can’t afford to get out. Think of the appalling case of Kalief Browder, the Bronx teenager who was profiled by my colleague Jennifer Gonnerman, in 2014. He was charged with stealing a backpack and spent three years at Rikers Island awaiting trial. Two years after the trial was dismissed and he was released, Browder killed himself.
Now, there’s a study that quantifies some of the harm of keeping low-risk offenders in jail. Three criminal-justice researchers—Christopher Lowenkamp, Marie VanNostrand, and Alexander Holsinger—with backing from the Arnold Foundation, were able to track more than a hundred and fifty-three thousand arrests and bookings into Kentucky jails, between 2009 and 2010. They published their results in November, 2013, but the study hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. The researchers found that the longer low-risk defendants were held in jail the more likely they were to engage in criminal activity. “When held 2–3 days, low-risk defendants are almost 40% more likely to commit new crimes before trial than equivalent defendants held no more than 24 hours,” they wrote. Low-risk defendants were even more likely to be re-arrested when they were held eight to fourteen days, and this remained true two years after the conclusion of the original case. Defendants who had been held in jail for eight to fourteen days were fifty-one per cent more likely to commit a crime two years later than demographically similar defendants charged with equivalent crimes who were held no more than twenty-four hours.
How could it be that as few as two additional days in jail could do such damage? It might be that when a low-risk person is crammed in with a more dangerous one—the turnstile jumper with the armed robber—proximity exerts a bad influence on the former without improving the latter. But the researchers say that the real problem is that jail destabilizes lives that are often, and almost by definition, already unstable. It tends to quickly undermine the three mainstays of steady employment, housing, and family attachments. Holsinger, a professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, told me: “These are people who might well be working, but in a low-level job, let’s say in the fast-food industry, where they are very easy to replace. If you or I didn’t show up to work for three days without an explanation, it would certainly create problems but we probably wouldn’t get fired.” If you miss three days as a fast-food worker, you’re fired. Low-risk offenders are also more likely to have precarious living situations. “They might be flopping on their sister’s couch, or their friend’s. Their name’s not on the lease. Maybe they’re one argument away from being kicked out on the street,” Holsinger said. Or maybe they’re in a drug-rehab program where not showing up one night means they lose their bed. If they are parents, like one of the subjects of a Times Magazine article this month about the pitfalls of cash bail, they may lose their children while they are behind bars and be consumed with worry about who is taking care of them.
Without support systems in any or all of these categories, people are more likely to get into trouble again.
At the moment, everyone from Bernie Sanders to the Koch brothers is decrying our incarceration rates and calling for criminal-justice reform. Cash bail has been getting particular scrutiny, since it clearly burdens the poor disproportionately, without any greater assurance of public safety. Only a few jurisdictions have replaced bail money with risk assessment, which helps judges decide whether defendants should be let free pending trial or not. But Cherise Fanno Burdeen, the director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, thinks the end of monetized bail is closer than ever thanks to “a giant wave of support” for reducing the number of people behind bars in the United States. (In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement has had a lot to do with that momentum.) The City of Milwaukee and the State of Kentucky are among a handful of jurisdictions that have cut back on paid bail. Last year, New Jersey voters passed a bail-reform measure that allows judges to release nonviolent offenders on their own recognizance. (It has not escaped voters and legislators that such reforms will potentially save taxpayers’ money.) In June, Jonathan Lippman, New York State’s chief judge, told the Observer that the bail system is “totally ass-backwards in every respect.” Lippman elaborated, “You have people who can’t make $500 bail who end up rotting in jails or prison, losing their jobs, being separated from their families, while they are absolutely no threat to anyone.” Last month, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new initiative that allows judges to release some low-level defendants, keeping them under court supervision until trial.
The bail-bond industry and commercial surety interests almost certainly will resist reform. As U.S. District Court judge James Carr, a critic of cash bail, said at a congressional briefing in April, it’s “a thriving industry, a very powerful industry, and a very difficult opponent to challenge.” In this conflict, it will be enormously useful to have more studies like Lowenkamp, VanNostrand, and Holsinger’s. “We’re always going to need jails,” Holsinger said. But when we’re thinking about holding people who aren’t dangerous, who may not have committed the crime that they’re charged with, and who may already be in precarious situations, “you have to remember how quickly everything good in their lives can evaporate.”
Margaret Talbot is a staff writer and the author of “The Entertainer.” Margaret Talbot joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2003. Previously, she was a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and, from 1995 to 1999, an editor at The New Republic. Her stories, covering manners and morals, social policy, and popular culture, have appeared, in addition to in the Times Magazine and The New Republic, in The Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, and the Times Book Review. She was one of the founding editors of Lingua Franca and was a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. In 1999, she received a Whiting Writer’s Award. She is the author of “The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father’s Twentieth Century,” about Lyle Talbot, her father.
Reading List: Margaret Talbot recommends Susan Orlean’s “Meet the Shaggs,” about the rock-and-roll group.
So it was national Dog Day and everyone was putting photos of their dog on Facebook so we figured we get Bart all done up and put his picture up there to, but that isn't what Bart wanted.....
We finally got him back up on the bed by bribing him with Dog treats, now that I think about it, that's probably what he was planning all along.
We finally got him back up on the bed by bribing him with Dog treats, now that I think about it, that's probably what he was planning all along.
I KNOW I ALREADY RAN THIS, BUT I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE MESSING AROUND WITH MY BROTHER.
Here’s the bad news; he got away with it and nothing happened to him and my guess is, because he got away with it, he’ll probably do it again.
Here’s the good news; sort of. I was right. I knew from start that the US Army Officer-Nurse who intimidated my brother when he had stage 4 cancer would go unpunished for what did.
My Brother, Dan was a stage four cancer patient at the Walter Reed-Navy Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. He beat that cancer, throat cancer, but now it appears to have moved to his lungs. We don’t know for sure yet.
When Dan had stage 4, the doctors cut a hole in his throat so he could breathe and a hole in his stomach so he could eat. He has lost over a hundred pounds in six months. His skin literary hangs from his bones. To get to the cancer, the doctors removed all of his teeth in a single operation. He was in pain. I saw him the next morning and his face had swelled like a balloon. He asked for pain killers.
The floor nurse, a guy named Chad Sullivan, decided he didn’t like the request. Apparently, by three reports, Sullivan is an extremely large man. He pushed open Dan’s door, leaned forward on the armchair rest where Danny was sitting, placed his face inches from Dan’s face and said “You don’t know what pain is. You’re a bullshit artist and you’re trying to con the doctors for more dope.”
Danny started to say something and Sullivan pushed his finger in Dan’s face and shouted, “Close your mouth!”
When Danny tried to speak again Sullivan rammed his finger in his face and yelled, “Close it!”
When Dan called out for help, Sullivan left the room.
Two friends of Dan’s visited him that day and found him badly shaken over the incident. They confronted Sullivan and accidentally recorded the conversation. According to their written statements Sullivan admitted that he said, “Close your mouth” but he “was not threatening in anyway” and never cursed. He also said “I am not the most gentle guy in the world. I’m not going to lie about it.”
As he spoke, according to the statement and the recording, Sullivan swung his arms in large circles and slapped his hands together loudly forcing Dan’s friends to constantly step backwards and said “I can’t believe I have to answer your questions. I can’t believe this is going on right now. I am going to ask you people to leave right now. Right now.”
When I found out what Sullivan did, I phoned the local police and asked them to investigate. They agreed that there is sufficient cause to arrest Sullivan for intimidation, but the hospital is on federal property and out of their jurisdiction.
Despite a call from our attorney, and urging from the entire family and all of our friends, my brother refused to take the case to the military police.
Because he’s a decent sort of guy, a third generation dogface who believes in what the US says it stands for. He told us that the army would give him justice so he submitted a written complaint, his witness submitted a complaint.
They didn’t give Dan his justice. Instead they promoted Second Lieutenant Chad Sullivan to the rank of First Lieutenant.
Can you imagine that happening in the private sector? An employee or a customer files a serious complaint against a manager and the manager is promoted? You can’t imagine it because that sort of insanity only happens within the government where employees are paid on time and in full regardless of the quality or quantity of work they perform.
When Dan rejected the hospital’s notion to give Sullivan a good firm talking to the Officer closed ranks, so to speak, and applied pressure. Dan was approached several times by a Major Ruby J. Thomas who tried to high pressure him into dropping the complaint against Sullivan, telling Dan that to pursue the case “would not be a Christian act.”
Can you imagine that happening in the private sector? Using a person’s faith against them to drop a complaint against a superior? How much do you think the lawyers would take to settle that one?
So Dan went up the ladder and complained to Harry Hamilton, Commander of the Nurse Corps at Walter Reed. Hamilton, a true government worker, he interviewed Danny, took a report and promised to get back to him.
We never heard from him again.
So on Dan’s behalf I wrote to Major General Jeffrey Clark, the hospital’s director and Captain Sarah Martin of the Nurse Corps.
We never heard from them.
Then I wrote to General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Believe it or not, we heard back from him within three days. One of the busiest men in the world found time to answer our complaint. The Generals staff said they would contact the hospital and ask them to look into the matter. And they did.
The hospital approached Dan and asked if he would enter talks with Chad Sullivan and Dan said no. But by now it was clear to even him that Sullivan was going to get away with his behavior. Dan, who is still very weak and very sick, said he was too tired to fight and wanted to drop the issue.
As understandable as that is, in this case forgive and forget is dangerous. Sullivan, man with apparent temper issues and is a nurse in a hospital. That combination can’t be good. So a group of us were able to convince Dan that while he should forgive Sullivan, at the same time he should, at the least, demand apology from him for his behavior if only to make Sullivan’s behavior a matter of records.
“What if” we warned Danny “Sullivan decides to do the same thing to another patient? A patient who won’t be lucky enough to have a friend at the hospital to confront and record Sullivan, a friend who doesn’t have a brother who works as a journalist? Then what? If you don’t want to do this for yourself, do it for the overall good of protecting others.”
And Dan agreed.
So Dan went to a meeting where, he was told, Sullivan would apologize to him for his behavior. But sure enough Sullivan wasn’t there and the person who arranged the meeting told Dan that Sullivan flatly refused to apologize. My brother figures that Sullivan used the Army’s free legal services and lawyered up. Surprising behavior for a tough guy.
But Sullivan isn’t the only one who got away unscathed. Major Ruby J. Thomas who tried to use my brother’s deep spiritual beliefs to protect a fellow officer, got away with her behavior. Harry Hamilton, the disappearing Commander of the Nurse Corps at Walter Reed got away with his behavior too. Major General Jeffrey Clark and Captain Sarah Martin who won’t or can’t reply to their mail are just fine too.
So in the larger picture, in my opinion, Chad Sullivan walks in lockstep with the way things are at Walter Reed. For me, I see Sullivan’s behavior as being in step with the increasing lack of personal accountability and honor within our politically correct, career first, protect your pension at all costs officer’s class.
Why is it like this? Because our Army Officers Class are, to use words of their own timid mouse PC speak, “morally and ethically challenged. Look around you….West Point and the Naval Academy have had so many scandals over the past few years, including murder, it’s become a national embarrassment. The Air Force Academy has had serious issues for being a training ground for the Klan and lunatic religious right fringe and the Coast Guard Academy...…well, actually they haven’t done anything wrong, but then again, they’re part of the US Treasury and not the Pentagon.
Anyway, in my brother’s case, the bad guys have won the day. But they’ll screw up again because incompetence is endemic in the Walter Reed medical system. Just seven years ago, the neglect and abuse of soldiers/ patients was so bad that the Service Commanding General was fired and the Secretary of the Army “resigned” as did the hospital commander. Then the Congress launched an investigation into the place and the White House charged the Vice President to get the mess that was Walter Reed cleaned up.
Sometime in the near future, Walter Reed will screw up again, the staff will accidentally kill a large number of patients or they’ll inadvertently unleash an epidemic on the location population or a couple of million dollars will end up MIA, but one way or the other, they’ll screw up again and this time, hopefully, the Congress will see fit to do the right thing and send the guilty to jail and close the place down.
FROM LLR BOOKS
I LOVE PHOTOS FROM BLACK AND WHITE FILM
If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning. C.S. Lewis
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Why Paid Parental Leave Is Picking Up Steam
By Scott Wooldridge
The recent headlines about expanded parental leave provided by tech giants such as Netflix has sparked discussions about competition for highly-skilled workers. But observers of workforce policies say there is a general trend toward offering more paid time away from work after the birth of a child, as employers realize they have more to gain than lose.
In recent months, Netflix, Microsoft, and Adobe have expanded their parental leave policies. Twitter offers new moms 20 weeks off, with pay. Google, Facebook, and Reddit also have generous paid-time-off policies for new parents.
And tech companies aren’t the only large employers to embrace this trend; financial firms such as Goldman Sachs have extended paid leave policies, and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson’s recently-expanded parental leave policy includes up to 17 weeks paid leave for moms and nine weeks for dads. In addition, a number of state and local governments have started offering some type of paid parental leave for employees.
Behind the curve
Business insiders and labor activists alike say one of the main reasons companies are moving on this issue is that the United States is nearly unique in not having a national parental-leave policy.
“The U.S. is the only developed country in the world without a paid maternity benefit,” explains Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management. “There’s a want and a need for this benefit, and employers are starting fill in the space that the government-mandated benefits set has left out.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director/CEO and co-founder of MomsRising.org, a grassroots organization that covers a range of family/work issues, says that not only private businesses but states and local governments are increasingly offering paid parental leave in some form. She adds that these early adopters have provided solid evidence that offering paid leave to new parents is beneficial to employers.
“This policy is tested,” she says, noting that California has had a law requiring paid family leave since 2004. “We’ve had time to watch what happens and see the economic impact. In California, we know that people with access to paid family leave are more productive in the labor force, are more likely to be back in the labor force a year after the baby arrives, and are significantly less likely to need government support. We also know that businesses are happy because they have to pay less in recruitment and retraining costs.”
The California law, while less generous than some of the corporate policies, gives workers up to six weeks partial pay when they take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a sick relative. The program is run through the state’s disability insurance program, which workers contribute to through payroll taxes.
One of the most talked about recent developments in this area was the August 4 announcement by Netflix that it would allow workers to take unlimited paid time off after the birth or adoption of a child.
“We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances,” the company announced on a blog post. “Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay. Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.”
The move was praised by work/life-balance groups. But questions quickly arose about exactly how many Netflix employees would be included in the new policy. Several media sources said the new benefit would only go to Netflix employees who worked on the digital services side, leaving out workers at DVD distribution centers.
Coworker.org, a website that helps employees organize campaigns to address workplace issues, quickly announced a drive to push Netflix to expand the policy to all employees. “It’s wrong for Netflix to create two classes of employees,” wrote Shannon Murphy, who created the campaign.
Netflix has so far declined to comment further on its policy. But some have defended it. In an NPR interview, Joan Williams, director of the University of California Hastings Center for WorkLife Law, pointed back to the absence of uniform family leave laws as the real problem.
“This is the drawback of handling parental leave at an enterprise [business] level, which, by the way, no other industrialized economy does,” she says. “If you handle parental leave at the enterprise level, the incentives for the enterprise are to give a rich benefits package to highly valued, high human-capital workers, and not give it to hourly workers.”
How strong a trend?
Some have noted that the move to expand family leave policies has mostly been adopted by tech firms and very large employers. But SHRM’s Eliott says that he feels the popularity of the idea will result in it being adopted on a fairly wide scale.
He points to SHRM data that suggest employers are increasingly expanding family leave policies. In 2015, 21 percent of employers in an annual survey said they offered paid maternity leave to workers; that number has gone up every year since 2011, when it stood at 16 percent.
“That’s a significant move to a particular benefit in the marketplace,” Eliott says. “I don’t think every company will adopt this, but as with domestic partner benefits, I think we’ll see a majority of large employers will start to offer this as a means of controlling their turnover costs.”
A campaign issue?
It’s an open question whether that will be enough. Politicians are already raising family leave and other workplace issues as part of the 2016 presidential campaign. Momsrising.org’s Rowe-Finkbeiner says that the change at companies like Netflix is a sign that momentum is growing for paid family leave, but adds that workers can’t rely on corporate policy changes alone.
“It’s important for this not to depend on a patchwork system,” she says. “In order to lift our overall national economy and our families, we absolutely need a federal paid family leave insurance policy for all workers.”
Originally published on BenefitsPro. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
HERE'S SOME GREAT ART FOR YOU ENJOY...............................
“I believe in walking out of a museum before the paintings you’ve seen begin to run together. How else can you carry anything away with you in your mind’s eye?” Elizabeth Kostova
John Singer Sargent, 1888, Morning Walk
Harold Krisel ‘Serial Forms Yellow and Black’ 1968.
Hotel Lobby, 1943 by Edward Hopper
Henry Fuseli - Falstaff in the Washbasket (1792)Herbin, Auguste (1882-1960) - 1904 Park in Paris
Hotel Lobby, 1943 by Edward Hopper
Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.”
THE BOOK OF FUNNY, ODD AND INTERESTING THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAY
John William Tuohy
Run that by me again
I've made a couple of mistakes I'd like to do over."
I've left a path of destruction behind me.
Cross my legs and hope to die!"
"He's the cream of the corn."
"There are too many cooks in the broth."
"The short answer is 'Yes.' The long answer is 'No.'"
"Looks like I've spent the day chasing a wild herring!"
"We are the glue that keeps things moving."
"You're barking up a dead tree."
"That's not his cup of cake."
"You don't want to shoot yourself in the foot because you might want to take a walk later."
"Shut your mouth and eat your dinner."
"I love being spontaneous. I just need a little warning."
"We ought to make the pie higher."
"Golf is a game that is 90% mental and 10% mental."
"Being in a hurry is a complete waste of time."
"That guy smokes like a fish!"
"You can't pull the sheep over my eyes!"
"I wasn't rich like you guys. I didn't eat gold or have a flying pony."
"After my C-section, the only thing I was allowed to drink was liquids."
"All old people should be shot at birth."
"He's as sharp as a new penny."
"I know that area of town like the back of my head."
"She's like the pot calling the kettle a frying pan."
"She used enough scotch tape to feed a third world country."
"That really burns my goat!"
"You shouldn't let people get under your goat."
"I'm sweating like a bullet."
"It's like six of one and two dozen of the other."
"I hate to throw cold water on your bubble."
"I just got my car fixed and it's runnin' like a dime."
"That really raises the shackles on my neck."
"I'm optimistic but my optimistics is on the other side of the teeter-totter."
"We gotta get our soup and nuts together."
"I'm trying to contain an outbreak, and you're driving the monkey to the airport!"
"I used to be as sharp as a button."
"That'll put the monkey in your court."
"It was time to separate the wheat from the baby."
"You're only smart on the outside."
"I guess you're just AOL."
"If we can't lead them with a stick, we are going to have to beat them with a carrot."
"Not everything that shines is baloney."
"You're opening a complete can of Pandora's worms there."
"Monday morning the fan is going to hit the roof."
"It sounds like sour milk, and I don't like the smell of it."
"I don't want to put all my monkeys in one barrel."
"We've got to dig our way out of this puppy."
"In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed horse is king!"
"You're a minefield of information."
"Looks like he's thrown a wrench in the monkey works."
“You don't want to put all your legs under one blanket.”
"I can't do it in the spur of a hat."
"That really burns my craw!"
"A two-prawn approach is necessary."
"He won't last, he's just a flash in the pants."
"You gotta walk with your pants on."
"Can I pick your ear?"
"I don't want to shoot myself in the hip."
"A little pain never hurt anyone."
"Is everyone else in the world a moron, or is it just me?"
"I can't come in to work because I need to have an autopsy."
"I don't feel like the sharpest button on the beach today."
"You have to keep all your marbles in the same duck."
"We don't want to screw ourselves in the foot."
"I feel like I'm beating my head against a dead horse."
"The ball is in his camp now."
"We need to get our ducks in the fire."
"Whatever rubs your boat!"
"You know I’m just pulling your lamb."
"If you fall and break your leg, don't come running to me!"
"They need to get all their ducks in one sock."
"We don't want to go barking up a dead horse."
"We're going to come out of this smelling like geniuses!"
"The ball is squarely on our shoulders."
"The best way to learn is from the school of Fort Knox."
"Make sure you cross your p's and q's."
"Throw that monkey back over the fence."
"She really rubs me up the wrong tree."
"Well, I'm just busier than a one-armed naked man."
"He had all of his ducks in one sock."
"I've just got my feet in too many pies right now."
"This thing is about to grow legs and take off...."
"Are you going to call the whole kettle black because of one bad potato?"
"If we do that we'll open up a whole new wormhole."
"Will everyone stop misundermining me!"
"I'd like to be a fish on the wall at that meeting."
"He was slow as Moses."
"I am sick and tired of the lack of disrespect towards me!"
"My arms were knee-deep in mud."
"'I see,' said the blind man to the fly.”
"We need to find a solution, even if it isn't the right one."
"Hey, don't eat the messenger!"
"It's only when this business comes into the foreplay that we should be concerned."
"We're going to have to watch that with a fine-tooth comb."
"..that's what really separates the wheat from the sheep."
"He's not the brightest brick in the basket."
"Don't worry; I've got an ace up my hole."
"He's not the brightest cookie in the lamp."
"You planted the seed, and I ran with it."
“I swear on my dog's breakfast!”
"If there was a rainbow at night, how would you know it was there?"
"Just because he's our landlord doesn't mean he owns the place."
"All old people should be shot at birth."
"I know that area of town like the back of my head."
"That's the carrot at the end of the tunnel."
"Vision is in the eyes of the beholder."
"Eventually, I want it now."
"In the last year, you've turned around 150%."
"It was a huge incontinence for me."
"I was already squeezing the buffalo."
"I think we're on the same page here, just different parts of the page."
"I think you might have hit the nail on the button."
"I'm caught between a rock and a wet spot."
"I was thinking about you in the shower this morning and I thought of a name for you."
"If you have that, the world is your walrus."
"It was jumping up and down like a sieve."
"I've got ears like a hawk."
"This guy's sharp as a cookie."
"I had too many hands in the fire."
"He's between a rock and a hotplate."
"It depends whether you are drinking from the side of the glass that is half-full or half-empty."
"I don't need a compass to tell me which way the wind shines!"
"It's like the blind talking to the blind!"
"She's not the brightest tree in the forest."
"I need a trash compactor because my garbage is too heavy to carry up the driveway."
"Cut the cake a different way and go for the lowest hanging fruit."
"Now, I do not want to toot my own wagon."
"He's not the brightest cookie in the lamp."
"We'd be biting off a new can of worms."
"Well, it's no skin off MY teeth!"
"That's just cutting your throat to spite your face."
"Remember! There is no 'I' in 'Team Spirit'!"
"If you can't finish the job on time, that'll really put a wrinkle in your feather."
"'Usually' only counts in horseshoes."
"I wouldn't trust them with a nine foot pole."
"Everything has been peaches and gravy."
"You're getting too clever for your own boots!"
"Then I figured that something was rotten in Denver."
"I'll be straight as a doorknob with you."
"Open your mouth and shut your ears when I'm talking to you."
"He couldn't find his way out of a paper bag if it bit him."
"They dropped the apple cart, now it's up to us to get it back on the tracks."
"We'll be done by the schedule date, maybe later."
"We are going to have to put all our oars in the fire for this project."
"That really throws a monkey at the wrench..."
"She's totally green under the collar."
"You don't want me down here breathing down your throats."
"I didn't think it would be a good idea to rattle the barrel."
"That floor is so clean you could comb your hair off of it."
"He is always robbing Peter Paul to pay Mary."
"It's good to get a taste of someone else's moccasins!"
"This is for your FYI."
"We definitely don't want to nail ourselves into a corner."
"I'm not the brightest bean in the hole."
"I want quality, not quantity; but lots of it."
"Don't look for a gift in the horse's mouth."
"I'm doing this just to break up the mahogany."
"We need to iron out our bread and butter."
"I think we should go for the whole ball of wood."
"Each of you pitched a home run today!"
"I usually dealt with him using felt-tipped gloves."
"It's an exercise in fertility."
"Hindsight is 50-50."
"You are never going to fail unless you try."
"We're scraping the bottom of the iceberg."
"Today is like the day Rome was built in. We can't afford to have any fiddlers."
"He might be barking at a red herring."
"He was smoking like a fish."
"He's as deaf as a bat."
"We don't want to stick our necks out and get our asses chopped off."
"I didn't have two dimes to pee on."
"I gave him a real mouthful."
"I really took the bull by the hands."
"He doesn't know his hole from an ass in the ground."
"I can't remember but it's right on the tip of my head!"
"You can lead a pig to pearls..."
"Thanksgiving is early this year because the first Thursday fell on a Monday."
"The skeleton is there. You just have to sharpen it and put the decorations on the tree."
"He would give you the shoes off his back."
"That question was so easy I could have answered it blindfolded."
"We're going to clean the competition's lunch."
"We've baked our cake, now we have to eat it."
"I want 24 x 7 availability, 5 days a week."
"The phone was ringing off its hinges."
"I didn't want to stir the apple cart."
"It was so quiet you could hear a needle drop in a haystack."
"I don't put my chickens before the horse."
"It was time to get the train out of the harbor."
"I didn't have many bullets left in the tank."
"I was shooting at straws."
"I was running on exhaustion fumes."
"I was looking for a seed that would get it over the hump."
"I didn't want to sit in the hotbox with my fingers in my ears."
"It's water under the dam now."
"I put the ball in the other shoe."
"That took the steam out of my sails."
"No point in making a molehill out of an elephant!"
"You can try, but it's like waiting for toast to boil."
"Can you tell me when my past due amount is due?"
"Eventually the penny will come home to roost."
"You are the wind beneath my cheeks."
"Water over the bridge."
"We'll burn that bridge when we get to it."
"Your heart is the lifeblood of your body."
"Let's nip this in the butt."
Let's nibble this in the butt."
"Don't eat with your mouth full!"
"I'm not going to let this guy shine on my parade."
"He's disgusting. He smokes like a fish!"
"We're killing two birds for the price of one."
"If it had legs it would have bit you."
"You'll know it like the back of your head."
"You can barely see your face in front of your hand!"
"That's the way the crumble cookies."
"I don't want to sound like a dead horse."
"Let's take a wild stab in the back."
"Well, you know what they say: Second only counts in horseshoes."
"She's not the sharpest apple on the tree."
"He eats like a fish."
"Around here, it's always feast or phantom
"If you could get it working I'd be internally grateful."
"This is the piece of the puzzle that allows you to paint in the rest of the pie."
"It is kisstomary to cuss the bride." Dr. William Archibald
"From now on, I'm watching everything you do with a fine tooth comb."
"A reminder to all (Female students) that you are not to wear t-shirt tank tops on campus. If you do so, you will be asked to remove them."
"1. Resolved, by this council, that we build a new jail. 2. Resolved, that the new jail be built out of the materials of the old jail. 3. Resolved, that the old jail be used until the new jail is finished." -- Board of Councilmen, Mississippi, mid-1800s
“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.” Kahlil Gibran
THE ART OF WAR
LLR BOOKS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AND BARNES AND NOBLE.....
From the Bench, a New Look at Punishment
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORDAUG. 26, 2015
New York Times
Jessica Otero’s request to the judge, made in neat handwriting, was simple: She wanted a second chance. Ten years after she was convicted of driving an illegal immigrant across the border, her felony record meant she could not get work in the medical field. “I have learned from my past mistakes and am headed down a positive path,” Ms. Otero wrote.
Federal district courts review dozens of similar requests a month, detailing how old convictions are affecting defendants’ lives. Most judges have a standard response: Courts can expunge convictions only in exceptional circumstances. While Ms. Otero’s two-page letter described fairly common circumstances, the judge’s response was unusual.
“Her concern is justified,” Larry Alan Burns, a Federal District Court judge in the Southern District of California, wrote in June. “The court is inclined to grant the motion.”
Through everything from protest movements to bipartisan legislation addressing the high prison population, the nation is in the midst of a searching examination of the criminal justice system, taking up long-simmering criticisms about race, inequality and law enforcement. While much of the focus has been on the police and prosecutors’ work, some judges are now taking a more active role, pushing for a reassessment of how defendants are punished.
“The popular view in our country has changed — we don’t want to hold somebody down forever and ever,” Judge Burns said in an interview. “I think judges should be aware of those things.”
It is hardly a uniform shift in judges’ attitudes, but across the country, some judges are refashioning sentences, asking prosecutors to drop cases that judges see as unfair, considering how to reduce the long-term impact of old convictions, and writing essays advocating change.
Among the moves: In June, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote five pages denouncing solitary confinement in a Supreme Court case where solitary confinement was not the issue. Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan has written essays recently attacking plea bargaining and mass incarceration. In a June law-review article, Alex Kozinski, a United States Court of Appeals judge for the Ninth Circuit, criticized a variety of criminal-justice issues, including fingerprint evidence, prosecutorial discretion and long sentences. These “are some of the reasons to doubt that our criminal justice system is fundamentally just,” he wrote. Other judges are putting out their point of view in decisions in individual cases.
“A growing number of federal judges, usefully insulated by life tenure, are feeling a need to speak out,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. “Judges are moved by the broader public conversation about the need for reforms, and certain ones say, ‘That broader conversation ought to be reflected in the work I do, not just in the work that the political branch does.’ ”
In June, three judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reviewed an Indiana case in which an Italian-born man who had never become a citizen said he did not realize that a guilty plea in his marijuana-growing case would result in deportation. He asked to withdraw the plea. A district court judge denied the motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed that decision.
Prosecutors argued that the man, Renato DeBartolo, could face a much more severe sentence at trial; thus his push to withdraw the plea was irrational. Judge Richard A. Posner, writing the Seventh Circuit panel’s unanimous opinion, disagreed, citing the changing public opinion on drugs.
“In light of the growing movement to legalize the sale of marijuana,” Judge Posner wrote, “a jury might have thought his offense trivial and either acquitted him or convicted him of some lesser offense.”
The judge then asked the government to reconsider even pursuing the case: “The government should consider whether having served the prison sentence the government originally recommended and having then languished in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a year or more and then deported to a country in which he has never really lived, DeBartolo has been punished sufficiently and should now be allowed to go home to his wife and children without facing a new trial.” Legal proceedings in his case continue.
Mark W. Bennett, a Federal District Court judge in the Northern District of Iowa, also pushed prosecutors, writing in an opinion in which he described prosecutors’ “stunningly arbitrary” decision-making over whether to file information about a drug defendant’s prior convictions, which increases their sentences.
“These decisions are shrouded in such complete secrecy that they make the proceedings of the former English Court of Star Chamber appear to be a model of criminal justice transparency,” Judge Bennett wrote in 2013. “We as judges can and should do more.”
This summer, Judge Jack B. Weinstein of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, long known for his criticism of harsh sentences for the viewing of child pornography and for some drug offenses, questioned whether prison itself was an unfair punishment.
Larry Alan Burns, a Federal District Court judge in the Southern District of California, granted a woman's request in June to expunge her decade-old felony conviction.
A defendant had pleaded guilty to possessing and sending child pornography using his computer. The defendant, now in his mid-20s, had poor mental development as a child and appeared to have been exposed to drugs in the womb, Judge Weinstein wrote. Placed into the foster care system, he was repeatedly raped by a foster brother and two separate foster fathers. Convicted at age 20 for showing child pornography to a boy, he was raped in prison, both by an individual and by a group of men. When he was released, he learned he had borderline personality disorder, depression and agoraphobia.
The defendant was supposed to be sentenced in June, but he appeared “deeply depressed,” Judge Weinstein wrote. The judge stopped the hearing, and instead asked the lawyers to address “whether sentencing this defendant — who has been raped multiple times — to the statutory minimum sentence of 15 years violates his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,” especially given the likelihood he would be placed in solitary confinement as a protection from rape.
Arguments in the case continue.
Also in Brooklyn, Judge John Gleeson, who has criticized prosecutors for using the threat of mandatory minimum sentences to force defendants into pleas, and pushed them to drop charges so that mandatory minimums would not stack up, turned his attention to the consequences of convictions.
In 1997, a home health aide was raising four children on $783 a month in Queens. She participated in a staged auto accident “ubiquitous in this district at the time,” Judge Gleeson wrote, where passengers faked injuries and went to complicit medical clinics, which billed insurance companies for procedures that were never performed. The passengers often filed civil lawsuits, as the woman did, receiving $2,500.
Since her conviction, she has often lost jobs or had offers withdrawn. “People said I’m very sorry for you. I can’t hired you because criminal background checked and fingerprint,” she told the probation office in a handwritten note in 2005 (English is the woman’s second language). A year later, she wrote, “I don’t like welfare, I like to work.”
Last year, she filed a formal motion asking the judge to expunge the conviction.
The prosecution opposed her request, arguing that expunging should be allowed only in extreme circumstances, and this woman’s was not one of them.
Judge Gleeson disagreed. “The public safety is better served when people with criminal convictions are able to participate as productive members of society by working and paying taxes,” he wrote in granting the woman’s request. “Her case highlights the need to take a fresh look at policies that shut people out from the social, economic, and educational opportunities they desperately need in order to re-enter society successfully.”
In June, another defendant, a nurse, also asked Judge Gleeson to expunge her 12-year-old conviction in a similar insurance-fraud scheme. Her lawyer, Mitchell A. Golub, wrote that she had lost jobs “a half dozen times in just the last two years” because of it.
As the government prepared its response, Judge Gleeson came up with a new idea: a certificate of rehabilitation that would show the defendant was now in good standing. With little legal precedent for that, he asked the prosecution and a policy expert to weigh in on whether that was an appropriate solution.
“As a society we really need to have a serious conversation on this subject of people with convictions’ never being able to work again,” Judge Gleeson wrote in an email. “A strong argument can be made that the answer to this problem should be more systemic, through legislation, not on a case-by-case basis in individual judges’ courtrooms.”
By Doug Linder (2001)
What is jury nullification?
Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty" despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate they are charged with deciding.
When has jury nullification been practiced?
The most famous nullification case is the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, charged with printing seditious libels of the Governor of the Colony of New York, William Cosby. Despite the fact that Zenger clearly printed the alleged libels (the only issue the court said the jury was free to decide, as the court deemed the truth or falsity of the statements to be irrelevant), the jury nonetheless returned a verdict of "Not Guilty."
Jury nullification appeared at other times in our history when the government has tried to enforce morally repugnant or unpopular laws. In the early 1800s, nullification was practiced in cases brought under the Alien and Sedition Act. In the mid 1800s, northern juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of harboring slaves in violation of the Fugitive Slave Laws. And in the Prohibition Era of the 1930s, many juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of violating alcohol control laws.
More recent examples of nullification might include acquittals of "mercy killers," including Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and minor drug offenders.
Do juries have the right to nullify?
Juries clearly have the power to nullify; whether they also have the right to nullify is another question. Once a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty," that verdict cannot be questioned by any court and the "double jeopardy" clause of the Constitution prohibits a retrial on the same charge.
Early in our history, judges often informed jurors of their nullification right. For example, our first Chief Justice, John Jay, told jurors: "You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge [both the facts and law]." In 1805, one of the charges against Justice Samuel Chase in his impeachment trial was that he wrongly prevented an attorney from arguing to a jury that the law should not be followed.
Judicial acceptance of nullification began to wane, however, in the late 1800s. In 1895, in United States v Sparf, the U. S. Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to uphold the conviction in a case in which the trial judge refused the defense attorney's request to let the jury know of their nullification power.
Courts recently have been reluctant to encourage jury nullification, and in fact have taken several steps to prevent it. In most jurisdictions, judges instruct jurors that it is their duty to apply the law as it is given to them, whether they agree with the law or not. Only in a handful of states are jurors told that they have the power to judge both the facts and the law of the case. Most judges also will prohibit attorneys from using their closing arguments to directly appeal to jurors to nullify the law.
Recently, several courts have indicated that judges also have the right, when it is brought to their attention by other jurors, to remove (prior to a verdict, of course) from juries any juror who makes clear his or her intention to vote to nullify the law.
If jurors have the power to nullify, shouldn't they be told so?
That's a good question. As it stands now, jurors must learn of their power to nullify from extra-legal sources such as televised legal dramas, novels, or articles about juries that they might have come across. Some juries will understand that they do have the power to nullify, while other juries may be misled by judges into thinking that they must apply the law exactly as it is given. Many commentators have suggested that it is unfair to have a defendant's fate depend upon whether he is lucky enough to have a jury that knows it has the power to nullify.
Judges have worried that informing jurors of their power to nullify will lead to jury anarchy, with jurors following their own sympathies. They suggest that informing of the power to nullify will increase the number of hung juries. Some judges also have pointed out that jury nullification has had both positive and negative applications--the negative applications including some notorious cases in which all-white southern juries in the 1950s and 1960s refused to convict white supremacists for killing blacks or civil rights workers despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt. Finally, some judges have argued that informing jurors of their power to nullify places too much weight on their shoulders--that is easier on jurors to simply decide facts, not the complex issues that may be presented in decisions about the morality or appropriateness of laws.
On the other hand, jury nullification provides an important mechanism for feedback. Jurors sometimes use nullification to send messages to prosecutors about misplaced enforcement priorities or what they see as harassing or abusive prosecutions. Jury nullification prevents our criminal justice system from becoming too rigid--it provides some play in the joints for justice, if jurors use their power wisely.
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