Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pennsylvania ranks 5th in the nation in hate groups

Pennsylvania had 40 active hate groups operating within its borders in 2016, making it the state with the fifth most extremist organizations in the United States, reports the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual "Intelligence Report," which documents which and how many hate groups are operating in the country. California had the most hate groups in 2016, followed by Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania.
The number of hate and extremist organizations in the united States rose for the second year in a row following terrorist attacks, a contentious presidential election and divisive rhetoric.
While researchers found a 3 percent rise in hate groups nationwide, the number of hate groups in Pennsylvania remained the same in 2015 and 2016.
The 40 hate groups within the state offer a variety of extremist views in areas across Pennsylvania.
The majority of hate groups in Pennsylvania fall under white supremacy. This includes Ku Klux Klan chapters, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, white nationalists and racist music groups -- a total of 24 groups.
The SPLC makes distinctions between the different white supremacy groups and are separated into different categories.
To breakdown even further there are seven KKK chapters, four neo-Nazi groups, 6 racist skinheads groups, six white nationalist organizations and one racist music group in the state.
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, February 18, 2017

GateHouse: Rhetoric fuels increase of hate

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
February 17, 2017
The number of hate groups in the United States increased last year. Nationwide, researchers found a 3 percent rise in groups that advocate and practice hatred, hostility, or violence toward primarily members of a race, ethnicity, nation, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released its annual "Intelligence Report" documenting the number and kind of hate groups operating across the country. California had the most hate groups in 2016, followed by Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania.
Hate groups are not a new thing. The Roman Empire persecuted Christians and other religious groups for centuries. One of history's most infamous and horrifying hate groups were the Nazis. Adolf Hitler and his henchmen called for the total annihilation of Jews leading to the Holocaust and one of darkest moments in human history.
In more recent years, the act of genocide, or attempting to obliterate an entire ethnic, racial or religious group, has occurred in both Bosnia and Rwanda.
This is the second consecutive year that the number of hate groups has risen. The fear of terrorist attacks, high profile hate crimes and a contentious presidential election have all contributed to the increase.
The largest increase involved the number of anti-Muslim hate groups. The SPLC found that anti-Muslim hate groups rose from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016 — a shocking increase of 197 percent.
These numbers rose without accounting for the inevitable pushback from President Donald Trump's ill-conceived travel ban and the federal court's resounding rejection of the president's executive order.
While the Ku Klux Klan nearly doubled in size during the Barack Obama Administration, according to the SPLC the number of Klan chapters fell 32 percent from 190 groups in 2015 to 130 in 2016. Interestingly, the number of neo-Confederate groups — the KKK's first "Grand Wizard" was Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest — rose by 23 percent from 35 groups in 2015 to 43 in 2016.
What is surprising about the five leading states with hate groups is that none — other than perhaps Florida — are traditional states thought of as racially or religiously intolerant. Pennsylvania, for instance, had 40 active hate groups operating within its borders in 2016, earning itself a fifth place ranking.
The majority of hate groups in Pennsylvania fall under white supremacy. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the groups include Klan chapters, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and white nationalists. The Nation of Islam, a black separatist group, also operates in Pennsylvania.
New York, another northern state known for its liberal bent, ranks third in the nation for the number of hate groups. There are 44 hate organizations throughout the state including the American Defense League, an anti-Muslim group; the Aryan Strikeforce and the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Hate crimes in New York City were up by nearly one-third in 2016. NYPD statistics show that anti-Muslim attacks were responsible for much of the rise, according to the New York Daily News.
The most recent statistics from the FBI cataloged a total of 5,818 hate crimes in 2015 — a rise of about 6 percent over the previous year. Again, attacks against Muslim Americans saw the biggest surge.
According to the New York Times, there were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques and other hate crimes against Muslims is 2015, a jump of about 67 percent over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than 480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
At this moment in America, hate is "hot." Fueled in part by the vitriolic presidential campaign and becoming increasingly combustible in the wake of the failed policy to ban "Muslim" refugees from entering this country.
There is much blame to go around, but rhetoric from the White House is doing nothing to turn down the heat.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book "The Executioner's Toll, 2010" was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
To visit the column CLICK HERE

Friday, February 17, 2017

Should small PA communities pay the state for police protection?

Should state taxpayers be footing the bill for police services to Pennsylvania's small unprotected communities, asks
That's a question being asked after the governor floated a new plan to help close the budget deficit and fund new hires of state police amid a statewide budget crunch and expected trooper shortage.
Specifically, Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a new fee on municipalities relying on state police coverage the most - an unwelcome change for some, especially the communities that would need to pay $25 per resident.
Nearly half of Pennsylvania's 2,500 municipalities rely solely on state police protection. Critics of the arrangement say some of these communities are able to afford their own police forces and have instead taken advantage of an outdated system. As a result, they argue, taxpayers statewide have been forced to subsidize those services -- often while also paying to fund their own local departments. 
To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Indiana domestic violence legislation: Don't disarm the abuser, arm the victim

Two competing bills in the Indiana House seek to make domestic violence less deadly for women — one by removing guns from the equation, one by adding more guns, report the Indianapolis Star. Only one of them is advancing.
Moving forward is a bill that would enable victims of domestic violence to get a handgun as soon as a judge grants a protective order against their abuser.
Going nowhere is a bill that would quickly deprive an alleged abuser of his guns once he becomes subject to a protective order.
This is despite an oft-cited study by advocacy groups that found women are five times more likely to die in domestic violence situations when a gun is present. The same study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2003, found no clear evidence that women are safer if they have access to a gun.
The legislation that's advancing, House Bill 1071, would enable abuse victims to use a protective court order as a handgun permit, avoiding the typical waiting periods. "It would give them a chance to immediately protect themselves," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville.
The Republican-controlled House Public Policy Committee voted 8-4 along party lines to move the bill to the House floor. The committee added an amendment to establish a group to study repealing Indiana's law requiring a license to carry a handgun.
The legislation that has yet to be heard, House Bill 1534, would force an alleged domestic abuser who is subject to a protective order to hand over his guns to police within 48 hours. So long as the order remains in effect, the abuser could not buy a gun or possess a gun.
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Flynn's resignation not the end of the story

President Trump’s ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the circumstances leading up to it, have quickly become a major crisis for the fledgling administration, reported the Washington Post, forcing the White House on the defensive and precipitating the first significant breach in relations between Trump and an increasingly restive Republican Congress.
Even as the White House described Trump’s “immediate, decisive” action in demanding ­Flynn’s resignation late Monday as the end of an unfortunate episode, senior GOP lawmakers were buckling under growing pressure to investigate it
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that it was “highly likely” that the events leading to Flynn’s departure would be added to a broader probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Intercepts showed that Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions in a phone call with the Russian ambassador — a conversation topic that Flynn first denied and then later said he could not recall.
McConnell’s comments followed White House revelations that Trump was aware “for weeks” that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence and others about the content of his late-December talks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
White House counsel Donald F. McGahn told Trump in a briefing late last month that Flynn, despite his claims to the contrary, had discussed U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration in late December, press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. That briefing, he said, came “immediately” after Sally Q. Yates, then the acting attorney general, informed McGahn on Jan. 26 about discrepancies between intercepts of Kislyak’s phone calls and public statements by Pence and others that there had been no discussion of sanctions.
To read more CLICK HERE

Judges try to rein in the use of defendants as cash cows

The American jail system is an abomination writes Ryan Cooper in The Week. Over three-fifths of people who are in jail (as opposed to prison) have not been convicted of a crime. And of those, a large fraction are there because they cannot afford bail. That is a gross violation of the Fifth Amendment, which states that no person can "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
But mass incarceration of people simply because they are poor is also the natural outgrowth of a jail system that is chronically underfunded, locally administered, and concerned more with warehousing troublemakers than with constitutional due process.
However, things have started to change — most recently by something called a model bench card for justices. It says that nobody can be jailed for nonpayment of fines without a hearing establishing that they had the money and deliberately refused to pay, or that nonpayment was not the defendant's fault and alternatives to incarceration were inadequate.
So what is a bench card? Essentially, it's a quasi-official set of rules outlining court procedure and constraining how judges are supposed to rule — basically a cheat sheet for following the law. This bench card is the result of consistent pressure from outside legal efforts, most notably the ACLU, which has been suing debtor's prisons for years and years. Their push resulted in the National Task Force of Fees, Fines, and Bail Practices, which involved the Conference of Chief Justices (a powerful force composed of the highest judicial officer from each state and territory), the Conference of State Court Administrators, the ACLU, and several other organizations.
The model card provides simple and clear rules about notifying defendants about their rights (including the right not to be jailed for being poor), how they must be allowed to explain their financial situation, a definition of poverty, and so on. It includes a set of procedures ensuring this happens, as well as a list of options for people unable to pay, which importantly includes one reading "Waiver or suspension of the amount due," and two other similar options. Many of the worst abuses of the poor in the criminal justice system come from treating them as a profit center, and that is a big step away from that mentality.
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thiel College: The Death Penalty

The Death Penalty-Comment Project 3

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that a method of execution violated the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment.  Which method of execution--hanging, electrocution, gas, firing squad, lethal injection--do you find most humane? Explain you answer.