Supreme Court pretends there’s no bigotry in profiling

The United States has a dignity problem. The concept of dignity is recognized by law in countries all over the world. It is a cornerstone of both international humanitarian law, which governs the treatment of prisoners of war, and international human rights law.

But it has little power in American jurisprudence. A robust recognition and protection of dignity is precisely what we need, particularly if we are to understand how racism has broken its tether and become enshrined again in state laws and policies across the United States.

Take racial profiling — the single most explicit manifestation of racial prejudice in the United States today. Nearly 700,000 individuals a year are subject to the brutal indignity of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy. The vast majority are young African-American and Latino men

Stop-and-frisk policing is only one aspect of the national indignity of racial profiling. Police surveillance of law-abiding Muslims (here again the New York police play a central role) and the pulling over of motorists for “driving while black” are two others. Rather than recognize how these practices strike at our bedrock constitutional rights to due process, equal protection and freedom from unreasonable searches, the Supreme Court recently doubled down on racial profiling. It decided that the discretion of police may be complemented by the discretion of jail officials to strip-search the 14 million Americans who are arrested each year.

In this way, the conservative majority on the court is turning back the clock on the greatest successes of the civil rights movement — the understanding that the Civil War amendments to the Constitution were designed to uphold the inherent dignity of blacks as human beings and citizens…

The court appears poised to do the same next month in the case involving Arizona immigration law, which gives local police the right to demand proof of citizenship from people they suspect are here illegally…Chief Justice John Roberts insisted on limiting the parameters of the case by stating at the outset of the solicitor general’s argument, “I’d like to clear up what (this case is) not about. No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling…” So, the Court may not include discussion of profiling in their decision. Baloney!

The meek acquiescence of the solicitor general to this judicial bullying was a failure of colossal proportions. The conservative majority may have the power to legalize racial profiling in this country, but they should not be permitted to pretend they are doing anything else.

It’s beyond contempt to watch the broad swath of Americans who lie out loud about racism and bigotry in this country. From creeps like Roberts – who lied through his teeth to get Senate confirmation – to your friendly neighborhood air conditioned cop car, Americans practically deny that slavery and racism, Jim Crow and segregation ever existed. Hundreds of years as the law of the land disappear like a Walt Disney dissolve from John Wayne to Midwestern cities appearing – without noticing the thousands of Native Americans who were slaughtered.

If “polite” Americans refuse to admit to or discuss bigotry they presume it will vanish. Wrong! You still need some elbow grease and that magic cleanser is called truth.

Scenes from SpaceX Dragon rendezvous with ISS

Today’s arrival of a cargo spaceship at the International Space Station wasn’t your typical outer-space delivery run: It was an emotional experience for many of the folks who watched NASA’s webcast of the SpaceX Dragon’s approach.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m a little choked up right now,” Discovery News’ Ian O’Neill wrote in a Twitter update. “But I suppose that happens when you watch history unfold.”

The event marked the first time since the space shuttle fleet’s retirement that a spaceship made in the USA linked up with the space station, and the first arrival of a private-sector ship at an orbital destination. If NASA has its way, this is what American spaceflight will look like for years to come. So take a good look at these pictures from the first Dragon flight to the space station. You’ll be seeing a lot more like them.

Bravo! A new generation of space exploration is off the start line.

Corporate fraud of the day

A former head of fraud at Lloyds Banking Group has herself been charged with a £2.5m fraud, causing blushes at the part-nationalised bank.

Jessica Harper, 50, is accused of submitting false invoices to the tune of £2.46m when working as head of fraud and security for digital banking. It is thought her work involved managing supplies and that the invoices did not relate to personal expenses…

Andrew Penhale, deputy dead of the CPS central fraud group, said: “The charge relates to an allegation that between 1 September 2008 and 21 December 2011 Jessica Harper dishonestly and with the intention of making a gain for herself abused her position as an employee of Lloyds Banking Group, in which she was expected to safeguard the financial interests of Lloyds Banking Group, by submitting false invoices to claim payments totalling £2,463,750.88, to which she was not entitled.”

He said the CPS had decided there was “a realistic prospect of conviction and a prosecution is in the public interest”.

Lloyds said: “As the court process is ongoing it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”

I have a comment. How can shareholders and the public have confidence in a bank incapable of noticing an internal fraud in progress?

One of the ongoing controversies in discussions of banking regulation and oversight is the thoroughness of those who watch over transactions on behalf of shareholders and the public at large. Who’s watching the watchers?

Mother of murdered drug dealer files suit against Harvard

One is serving life, one is dead, both were dealing drugs

The mother of a Cambridge man fatally shot inside a Harvard University residence hall in 2009 is suing the school and its officials, alleging that Harvard negligently allowed the mastermind of the killing to operate a “criminal enterprise’’ in the dormitory that resulted in the killing.

Denise Cosby filed the wrongful death suit in Middlesex Superior Court last week, saying that the university and its officials failed to protect her son, ­Justin Cosby, 21…

“She feels that it’s the university’s fault,’’ Peres said. “But for their negligence in allowing this murderer to live and operate a criminal enterprise on campus, her son would be alive today.’’

Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin said, “We recognize that the Cosby family has suffered a heart-rending loss, but there is no basis in law or fact to hold the university accountable for Justin ­Cosby’s death.”

Cosby “entered Harvard property that day for the sole purpose of selling a large quantity of marijuana to people unaffiliated with the University, and one of them shot him,’’ Galvin said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend against this lawsuit.’’

The alleged mastermind of the drug robbery, Jabrai Jordan Copney, was convicted in Middlesex Superior Court in April 2011 of first-degree murder after his two codefendants, one of whom took the stand against Copney, cut deals with prosecutors. Copney is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

A mother’s anguish over the death of her son doesn’t diminish the fact that he was engaged in a criminal enterprise – one that carries with it the possibility of being killed over a drug deal gone wrong.

You don’t sue the businesses nearby if he’s killed on a street corner. You won’t sue yourself if he’s killed in a deal in his bedroom. You can’t justify suing Harvard because some other crook killed him inside a dorm.

Oops! of the day — Airplane door crashes onto golf course

The FAA is investigating what caused a private jet to lose its door as it flew over a Florida golf course.

The Canadair CL600 jet was traveling from Opa-Locka to Pompano Beach, Florida, on Wednesday when it was diverted and landed safely at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, according to FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

“An airport vehicle met the aircraft as it exited the runway and escorted it to Bombardier Aviation (a maintenance facility on the airport) where it was discovered that the main cabin door was missing,” she said…

Nobody noticed?

The door, with retractable boarding stairs attached, crashed through trees, bouncing onto a golf course near Hallandale Beach, according to CNN affiliate WSVN, which shot video of it being removed by a tow truck.

The golf course was closed at the time.

Phew! You know how grumpy golfers can get when someone drops part of an airplane on the course just when they’re ready to take a shot.