Patt Morrison for May 5, 2010

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In a report released today, the ACLU found that the same overcrowding and unsanitary conditions sited at Men’s Central Jail more than 30 years ago continue to persist today. According to the report, untreated mental illness, prisoner abuse—both inmates against inmates as well as officers against inmates—and overcrowding have made little improvement. The ACLU claims their task of assessing the corruption was further complicated by the Sheriff Department’s refusal to release basic information about how it conducts investigations of prisoner abuse and metes out punishment. With approximately 20,000 detainees, the Los Angeles jail system is the largest and most expensive in the nation.
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One of the central principles of the U.S. Constitution is that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Our constitution puts numerous legal protections in place to guard against an over zealous police force. Should we abandon those legal protections, and civil liberties, if law enforcement believes a suspect might provide even a kernel of useful intelligence capable of protecting U.S. citizens? Some Republicans in Congress say absolutely. Senator John McCain feels Mr. Faisal Shahzad (the man who admitted to planting the bomb in Times Square) should not be given his Miranda rights. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) has gone further, writing a bill that would lead to the revocation of Mr. Shahzad’s American citizenship. And still others are calling for the use of a military tribunal as a way to circumvent the U.S. justice system. Are the fundamental principles of our constitution worth fighting for in the war on terror, or has this omnipresent threat proved them to be arcane?
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Wearing a shirt that read “Arrest me, not my friends” Congressman Luis Gutierrez was arrested in front of the White House last week after he and 34 others linked arms, sat down and said they weren’t moving until President Obama signed immigration reform – they moved. Congressman Gutierrez hasn’t been shy about his dissatisfaction with the President and his administration and this arrest could be the beginning of an escalation of activism by those demanding immigration reform. With Wall St reform on the table does immigration have any chance of passing before the November elections? If it doesn’t will Congressman Gutierrez encourage Latino voters to stay home?
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Newsrooms across the nation are struggling, slashing budgets as fast as they are cutting reporters and news editors. In this technological age, are newspapers fast becoming a dying breed? Will we soon be telling our children, with a nostalgic gleam in our eye, about the feel and crinkle of a newspaper and how it used to be thrown on our front porch or purchased at newsstand? If the future is on-line, what happens to the major media institutions (the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times) we count on for reporting the news "objectively" and more importantly for investigative journalism they provide? If they can't devise a way to profit from the new medium, what happens to the future of journalism? Who replaces the 4th branch of government and takes on the role of watchdog, if not the press? Do we need trained professionals or will the marketplace of ideas and opinions (now found on blogs) be enough to keep our democracy safe?
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The 48 Laws of Power

Power. Everyone wants it; few know how to attain it. Our fascination with power is rooted in our DNA, every relationship we have revolves around someone grasping for more power. Every so often a book on philosophy is released that solidifies itself as a classic, transcending the realm of literature and reappearing as a vital piece of information. Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power is as important to its readers as Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War is to Generals. It’s not just a breakdown of the game of power, but more importantly the rules to power. The world is a giant scheming court, and we are all courtiers. The book has an incredible list of fans, from CEOs, to NBA players, to rappers, (50 Cent was so obsessed with 48 Laws of Power, that Robert Greene and himself wrote the sequel, 50 Laws of Power) all swearing by the lessons learned from the 1998 book. So 12 years since its release, it remains as popular and topical as ever. It seems just like the book’s main topic, there aren’t too many things as timeless as power.
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