Sickening. From ThinkProgress:

John Horner had no record of drug-dealing when he was sentenced to a 25-year mandatory minimum prison term for selling some of his own pain pillsto an undercover informant who befriended him and told him he could not afford both his rent and his prescription medication. Horner, a fast-food restaurant worker and a father, had been prescribed the pain medication because of an injury in which he lost an eye, according to a BBC report.

If, as expected, he serves all 25 years, Horner will be 72 when he is released, and he will have spent more time in prison than the former Enron CEO who was convicted in one of the largest corporate fraud schemes in modern history. Last week, the Department of Justice said it is considering a deal to shorten Jeffrey Skilling’s sentence. But even if he serves every year, Skilling will still have fared better than Horner with a sentence of 24 years.

This is what the “War on Drugs” hath wrought. People selling small amounts of drugs to pay for food and rent are facing longer mandatory minimum sentences than banksters who defraud people for millions — sometimes billions — of dollars.

White collar crime has very few to none mandatory minimum sentences, while blue collar crime, particularly drug crimes, have a plethora of mandatory minimum sentences, and disproportionately send low-income people of color off to prison.

If we’re going to have mandatory minimums for drugs, which I absolutely abhor, at least consider a mandatory minimum for financial crimes — say, one year for every hundred thousand stolen and/or defrauded? Remember, Bernie Madoff is the exception in sentencing and not the rule. 

(Unlike what’s been said in the TV show) the mines haven’t emptied, and are considered the best in the world. Even in Asshai, they ask about Casterly Rock, which they believe to be a ‘palace of gold’.

George R.R. Martin, at ConCarolinas 2014  [source]

The show is not the books. The Lannister mines *in the books* are not empty. GRRM says the Lannister mines *in the books* are not empty.

The financial obligations of the Iron Throne and those of House Lannister are treated as entirely separate in the books. See this conversation between Tyrion and Tywin from A Storm of Swords:

"Extravagance has its uses. We must demonstrate the power and wealth of Casterly Rock for all the realm to see."

"Then perhaps Casterly Rock should pay."

"Why? I have seen Littlefinger’s accounts. Crown incomes are ten times higher than they were under Aerys."

"As are the crown’s expenses. Robert was as generous with his coin as he was with his cock. Littlefinger borrowed heavily. From you, amongst others. Yes, the incomes are considerable, but they are barely sufficient to cover the usury on Littlefinger’s loans. Will you forgive the throne’s debt to House Lannister?"

"Don’t be absurd."

The Iron Throne under Tommen is near bankruptcy; House Lannister is not. In The Princess and the Queen, when there was a national surplus, this is what was done with the royal treasury:

Ser Tyland Lannister was named master of coin in place of the late Lord Beesbury, and acted at once to seize the royal treasury. The crown’s gold was divided into four parts. One part was entrusted to the care of the Iron Bank of Braavos for safekeeping, another sent under strong guard to Casterly Rock, a third to Oldtown. The remaining wealth was to be used for bribes and gifts, and to hire sellswords if needed.

Casterly Rock and Oldtown served as the Fort Knox of Westeros. The problem at the end of ADWD is that the Crown doesn’t have the money to buy sellswords:

“Sellswords fight for coin,” declared Grand Maester Pycelle. “With enough gold, we might persuade the Golden Company to hand over Lord Connington and the pretender.” 

“Aye, if we had gold,” Ser Harys Swyft said. “Alas, my lords, our vaults contain only rats and roaches. I have written again to the Myrish bankers. If they will agree to make good the crown’s debt to the Braavosi and extend us a new loan, mayhaps we will not have to raise the taxes. Elsewise—”

“The magisters of Pentos have been known to lend money as well,” said Ser Kevan. “Try them.” The Pentoshi were even less like to be of help than the Myrish money changers, but the effort must be made. Unless a new source of coin could be found, or the Iron Bank persuaded to relent, he would have no choice but to pay the crown’s debts with Lannister gold. 

During his last small council session, Kevan worries that they will have to start using Lannister gold to pay the Crown’s debt. GRRM says the Lannisters still have money!!

Hey tumblr!

Spenser James, my really good friend, slam poet, and fellow activist from Charleston who is now living in New York, was recently diagnosed with a severe stomach ulcer that is causing them incapacitating pain and the inability to eat. It has been nearly two weeks since they have been dealing with this, and it is taking a hard physical toll on them.

They have no health insurance and are facing enormous costs to get the treatment they need. This treatment includes an upper and lower endoscopy, bacteria tests, a biopsy of the stomach lining, anesthesia, a follow up visit and prescriptions (one of the necessary medications costs over twenty dollars a tablet). The total cost of this treatment will amount to just under eighty-six hundred dollars.

I have already donated as much as I can to help support their care, but there is a lot more needed and they are suffering really badly. In order to help, I am opening up commissions as a fundraiser for Spenser. All proceeds will go directly to them!!! Prices can be negotiated and I can even send you a print of the piece (for the additional price of printing and shipping).

If you don’t want a commission, please consider helping out - even a dollar will go a very long way over time to help them (GOFUNDME LINK), and if you can’t manage that PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST!!!!

Thank you so much!!

From US Uncut:

Happening NOW! Walmart workers are getting arrested for striking outside the company’s NYC headquarters as part of a nationwide action.

I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in NYC — and everywhere else — placing their livelihood and lives at risk by standing up for the rights of workers. An injustice to one is an injustice to all.

What does peace mean in a world in which the combined wealth of the world’s 587 billionaires exceeds the combined gross domestic product of the world’s 135 poorest countries? Or when rich countries that pay farm subsidies of a billion dollars a day, try and force poor countries to drop their subsidies? What does peace mean to people in occupied Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Tibet and Chechnya? Or to the aboriginal people of Australia? Or the Ogoni of Nigeria? Or the Kurds in Turkey? Or the Dalits and Adivasis of India?What does peace mean to non-muslims in Islamic countries, or to women in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan? What does it mean to the millions who are being uprooted from their lands by dams and development projects? What does peace mean to the poor who are being actively robbed of their resources and for whom everyday life is a grim battle for water, shelter, survival and, above all, some semblance of dignity? For them, peace is war.
—  Arundhati Roy
As is often the case in every field of scientific endeavour-and even more in the social sciences-the answer is negative: the more we know, the more we realize we do not.

Stathis N. Kalyvas in A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence, and Development, edited by Patricia Justino, Tilman Brück, and Philip Verwimp.

An astounding 26 percent of black males in the United States report seeing someone shot before turning 12.

Conditional on reported exposure to violence, black and white young males are equally likely to engage in violent behavior.
—  Aliprantis, Dionissi, 2014. “Human Capital in the Inner City,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, working paper no. 13-02R.

We were hunters and foragers, the frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth and the ocean and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little terraqueous globe is the madhouse of those hundred, thousand, millions of worlds. We who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds; are we to venture out into space?

By the time we are ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems, we will have changed. The simple passage of so many generations will have changed us. Necessity will have changed us.

We’re an adaptable species. It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars, it will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths and fewer of our weaknesses. More confident, far seeing, capable, and prudent.

For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness.

What new wonders undreamt of in our time will we have wrought in another generation and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered by the end of the next century and the next millennium?

Our remote descendants safely arrayed on many worlds through the solar system and beyond, will be unified. By their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the universe, come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the Blue Dot in their skies. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was.

How perilous our infancy. How humble our beginnings. How many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.

— Carl Sagan | The Frontier Is Everywhere

A reminder to all that there are actual scary things to fear beyond the traditional superstitions of old. As Carl suggested, “there is plenty of housework to be done down here,” but that’s not a reason against curiosity and exploration. Rather, it bolsters our resolve, committing us to push the boundaries of our knowledge. Instead of fearing these issues, we look upon them simply as problems in need of a solution.

Per aspera ad astra*

DISCLAIMER: This specific social theory to the cycle of abuse assesses and outlines a dynamic involving an abused female and male abuser/is hetero-centric and gender specific. 

THE CYCLE OF ABUSE according to Clarksville, Tennessee’s, Domestic Violence Unit.

Using Intimidation: Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons.

Using Emotional Abuse: Putting her down, making her feel bad about herself, calling her names, making her think she’s crazy (i.e.: gas-lighting), playing mind games, humiliating her, making her feel guilty.

Using Isolation: Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.

Minimizing, Denying & Blaming: Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously, saying the abuse didn’t happen, shifting the responsibility for abusive behavior, saying she caused it.

Using Children: Making her feel guilty about the children, using the children to relay messages, using visitation to harass her, threatening to take the children away.

Using Male Privilege: Treating her like a servant, making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle”, being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.

Using Economic Abuse: Preventing her from getting or keeping a job, making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, not letting her know about or have access to family income.

Using Coercion & Threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her, threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare, making her do illegal things.

All of this is integral to the abuser attaining and maintaining his sense of power and control.

Two months after 47 million food stamp recipients were hit with $5 billion in cuts, more are on the way as lawmakers finalize a new farm bill. The measure is likely to slash another $9 billion in food stamps over the next decade, depriving more than 800,000 households of up to $90 in aid per month. We look at how politicians have used coded racial appeals to win support for cuts like these and similar efforts since the 1960s with Ian Haney López, author of the new book, “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class.” A senior fellow at Demos and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, López argues that “this is about race as it wrecks the whole middle class. This sort of racism is being used to fool a lot of whites into voting for Republicans whose main allegiance is to corporate interests.”

Recommended viewing.

Germany riot in Frankfurt targets new ECB headquarters

Dozens of people have been hurt and some 350 people arrested as anti-austerity demonstrators clashed with police in the German city of Frankfurt.

Police cars were set alight and stones were thrown in a protest against the opening of a new base for the European Central Bank (ECB).

Violence broke out close to the city’s Alte Oper concert hall hours before the ECB building’s official opening.

Thousands of “Blockupy” activists were due to take part in a rally.

Organisers were bringing a left-wing alliance of protesters from across Germany and the rest of Europe to voice their anger at the ECB’s role in austerity measures in EU member states, most recently Greece.

Police set up a cordon of barbed wire outside the bank’s new 185m (600ft) double-tower skyscraper, next to the River Main.

But hopes of a peaceful rally were dashed as clashes began early on Wednesday.

Tyres and rubbish bins were set alight and police responded with water cannon as firefighters complained they were unable to get to the fires to put them out. One fire engine appeared to have had its windscreen broken.

Activists said police had used pepper spray.

Police spokeswoman Claudia Rogalski spoke of an “aggressive atmosphere” and the Frankfurt force tweeted images of a police van being attacked.

The ECB’s new headquarters cost an estimated €1.3bn (£930m; $1.4bn) to build and is the new home for thousands of central bankers.


Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

A sobering look at inequality in the United States that raises a serious question: Where do we go from here?

Soon after I bought my home, my racist neighbor started stalking me, spitting at my family and harassing my company, claims a N.J. woman who says the home developer from whom she bought the home knew of the man but said nothing.

Now she is suing. 

Cyndee Phoenix (pictured) claims Lennar Homes Corp, who promoted promises of a “wonderful lifestyle,” knowingly concealed that her future neighbor was a “dangerous individual.”

Crisis in Venezuela worsening | Mark Schneider

The lull in the street battles that raged across many of Venezuela’s cities this spring belies the violent civil conflict still threatening the country. From February to June, dozens of people died, hundreds were wounded and several thousand more were detained during conflict between protesters and government security forces.

Repression, exhaustion and disorganization have quieted protesters for the moment, but they will certainly return given the government’s failure to address the causes of the country’s polarization. With its vast oil reserves — by some measures the world’s largest — and its complex network of regional relations, Venezuela’s meltdown would be a disaster not only for its people but for the entire hemisphere.


Photo: andresAzp/flickr

The United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest.

I read this article with frustration and sadness — mostly over the fact that Occupy has made itself irrelevant by virtue of its organizational structure and its focus on fighting cops instead of capitalists. We need this movement, America. Or we need another social movement capable of rattling the lid off the cauldron using non-violent direct action and (gasp) even mainstream tactics including progressive candidates.