Showing posts with label Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Law. Show all posts

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Go Away, Lady Antebellum


I love the fact that I can rail against Lady Antebellum now:
The US country group Lady A – known until recently as Lady Antebellum,before changing their name to shed slavery-era connotations – is suing the black female artist Lady A over use of the name.
When the trio first announced the name change in June out of respect for black Americans, it appeared that they were unaware that Anita White had been performing as Lady A for 20 years. “This is my life,” White said at the time.
The two parties shared an image of a Zoom call and said they were “moving forward with positive solutions and common ground”. The talks appear to have broken down. In a statement, the members of Lady A said that representatives for White “demanded a $10m [£7.79m] payment”.
The group is not seeking financial damages from White, nor that she change her stage name, but is instead suing her for recognition of a trademark it claims “we have held for many years” and to avoid further litigation.
Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood formed Lady Antebellum in 2006, and say that they faced no opposition, including from White, when they registered “Lady A” as a trademark in 2010.
“We are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the group said in a statement. They added that with White they had “shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together.
They added: “We can do so much more together than in this dispute.”
Wait, what?

They registered "Lady A" as a trademark in 2010? Who the hell does that?

I'll tell you who does that.

If they already knew that their original name, Lady Antebellum, was "problematic" then why didn't they just change it in 2010 when they registered their fallback name as a U.S. trademark? Why didn't they do it then? To change it now, because of heightened awareness, when they already knew a decade ago that their name was linked to the institution of slavery and white supremacy smacks of opportunism. And then to go out and destroy another artist in the process is white privilege writ large.

Fuck these people, and fuck their phony appeals to doing the right thing.

They're just sharks, swimming in the water, destroying other artists, protecting their rights. They don't care about ethics. They're just lawyered up in order to crush anything that gets in their way. I hope Miss White sues their asses into bankruptcy and I hope she walks away owning their microphones, monitors, and tour bus. 

Any criticism of her asking for $10 million ignores the fact that Lady Antebellum is worth far more than that in terms of past and future earnings from their catalog. They should have paid it and they should have moved on. Now, they get to reap the whirlwind. 

Seriously, fuck them. They're the worst.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

That's the End of Tom Meighan

Tom Meighan, far left, looking down

At some point, whatever is left of Kasabian will wish this was a more definitive statement as to how they feel about men who beat women:
The former frontman of British rock band Kasabian has pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-fiancee -- a day after it was announced he was quitting the band over "personal issues."
Tom Meighan, 39, admitted assaulting his former fiancee Vikki Ager at Leicester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the court confirmed to CNN.
The British group, formed in Leicester 1997 in the English city of Leicester, announced the singer's sudden departure on Monday in a statement posted to its social media channels.
"Tom Meighan is stepping down from Kasabian by mutual consent," the statement read, explaining only that the lead vocalist "has struggled with personal issues that have affected his behaviour for quite some time."
 The fact that this has been in the wind for months is shocking enough. On April 9, Meighan admits that he did, in fact, assault his ex-girlfriend Vikki Ager:
At the time of the call, Ager could be heard saying “get off me, get off me.”
Ms Ager suffered bruising to her knees, outer ankle, left elbow, and big toe as well as reddening around the neck, which she confirmed to police was a result of the assault.
Defending Meighan, Michelle Heeley QC said the singer “offers his sincere apologies to the people he has let down and he has sought to address his offending behaviour”.
Mr Valli also told the court that the offence was a “sustained assault” and it “could be argued to be relatively serious”.
Why they didn't part ways with him sooner is one question. The other question is, "don't you think you should condemn him for what he did?"

Apparently, the answer is no.

UPDATE: Someone got to them and now there's this:


Monday, March 9, 2020

Put and End to This Madness


If Led Zeppelin had been more of a progressive rock band, playing their folk-injected blues for small crowds in Southern England before breaking up after a handful of low-selling albums, you would never have heard of this nonsense:
A US appeals court has reinstated a ruling that British rockers Led Zeppelin did not steal part of their song Stairway to Heaven from another band.
The San Francisco 11-judge panel affirmed a 2016 judgment that found no proof the classic 1971 Zeppelin song breached the copyright of Taurus, written by Randy Wolfe from a Los Angeles band called Spirit.
In 2018 that ruling was overturned by a three-judge panel in San Francisco, which said certain instructions to the district court jury had been “erroneous and prejudicial”, and failed to clarify that the arrangement of elements in the public domain could be considered original.

Led Zeppelin took the case to a larger panel whose decision on Monday, based on the 1909 Copyright Act, put the original ruling back in place.
Stairway to Heaven is estimated to have grossed $3.4m during the five-year period that was at issue in the earlier civil trial.
The Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page – who was sued along with the group’s singer Robert Plant and another surviving bandmate, John Paul Jones – testified in 2016 that the chord sequence in question had “been around forever”.
But Wolfe’s trustee, Michael Skidmore, said the songs had similar chord progressions and Page may have written Stairway to Heaven after hearing Taurus while Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together.
“Obviously the court got it wrong,” said the trustee’s lawyer, Francis Malofiy. “This is a big loss for creators, those who copyright laws are meant to protect.” Malofiy said he may appeal to the US supreme court.
I have no doubt that Skidmore will continue this fight with all of the tenacity of a copyright troll, and for good reason. There are tens of millions of dollars at stake, perhaps more than a hundred million. The problem is, the audience for Led Zeppelin is fading away and the value of Stairway to Heaven is disappearing. I have no doubt that there are twenty-somethings who love the song, but it's not a generational thing like it was forty to fifty years ago.

The window is closing, and Skidmore is going to milk this for all it's worth. This is actually destructive for artists, in my opinion, because there really are ripoffs out there and if this case establishes too many negative precedents, then other artists could suffer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shaun White Had a Band?




Nothing about this story makes any sense:

Superstar Olympian snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White is now facing a potentially serious legal case against the ex-drummer of his band, the Bad Things.  The case, filed by Bohm Law Group, Inc. on behalf of Lena Zawaideh, who played in the group for several years.

During that period, the two-time Gold medalist White was accused of being a lewd and sexually aggressive band leader, with the following laundry list of offenses cited in the recent filing:

  • Sending sexually explicit and graphic images to Zawaideh of engorged and erect penises.
  • Forcing Zawaideh to watch sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter.
  • Making vulgar sexual remarks to Zawaideh such as, “Don’t forget to suck his balls!” when commenting about Zawaideh’s boyfriend.
  • Sticking his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and the sticking his hands in her face trying to make her smell them.

It’s unclear what relationship the pair had during the period, though White may counter-argue that these actions were merely part of a sex-filled relationship between the pair.  In that counter-argument, things like ‘dick pics’ and lewd comments would be acceptable rules of the relationship, though issues involving California workplace violations will be sharply tested.

I can't tell if this was a vanity project or just proof that Shaun White is an immature asshole. Bonus tip for serial abusers out there--sending dick picks is essentially proof that you don't know what you're doing anymore.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Led Zeppelin on Trial




Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are being sued because they are alleged to have copied someone's obscure track when putting together Stairway to Heaven. Never mind that the chord shape in question is unusually common, there's no indication that they actually "stole" someone's song. This is not a case where the lyrics or the way it was sung were copied--this is about a chord change similarity between the songs. 

A last minute move to keep Led Zeppelin's music expert from testifying could delay the trial that will determine if "Stairway to Heaven" copied a 1968 instrumental called "Taurus," which is set to begin Tuesday morning.

Attorneys seeking to prove Zeppelin infringed on songwriter Randy Wolfe's work claim when they deposed musicologist Lawrence Ferrara they discovered a massive conflict: he had been hired to evaluate the similarity once before.

"In 2013 he conducted a musicological analysis of the compositions of Taurus and Stairway to Heaven for Plaintiff’s publisher, Hollenbeck Music Co., a conflict that Dr. Ferrara and defense counsel knew about but purposefully failed to disclose," states a motion for sanctions filed Saturday. "Defense counsel misleadingly stated and implied that they had no knowledge about this situation, but in fact they orchestrated the entire scenario and have conspired with Plaintiff’s publisher (and fiduciary) since 2014 to undermine Plaintiff’s lawsuit, including by inducing the publisher to file false documentation with the Copyright Office in 2016 in an effort to undermine Plaintiff’s case."

Wolfe's heirs sued in 2014, seeking not only monetary damages but also that he be credited as a writer on the iconic song.

And:

The last round of exclusions weighed heavily in Zeppelin's favor. In April Klausner ruled that the jury won't hear any testimony about the wealth of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, how bandmembers used drugs and alcohol and it won't actually hear the sound recordings at issue. The only music to the juror's ears will be recreations based on the original sheet music that was filed with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Here are the relevant details:

The court was convinced that the famed British rock band would have had the chance to listen to Spirit’s song (it seems the two bands toured together in America in the late 1960s) and that the two tunes could have relevant similarities in the first two minutes, arguably the most important and recognizable segments of any piece.

Access and substantial similarity between the works are the requirements for a successful copyright case.

The main defense raised by the British band was that the descending chromatic four-chord progression in “Taurus” is commonplace and not original—and so not protectable by copyright. The court found this unconvincing.

In copyright infringement proceedings, this kind of defense (based on the so-called scènes à faire doctrine) is frequent. While it is true that that chromatic progression is a common convention which abounds in music—said the judge—the several similarities between the two songs here transcend this main structure.

It is therefore now for the jury in the upcoming trial to decide whether, having in mind the ordinary and reasonable listener, “Stairway to Heaven” has taken the “Taurus” “concept” and “feel.” In copyright jargon, this is known as the intrinsic test.

Here's the thing, though--Stairway to Heaven is a song that is roughly divided in two parts, and the second part is entirely free of any claim of plagiarism. The lyrics are completely original, unless you accept that they are inspired by literary themes and ideas that go back hundreds of years. And there's no indication that the recorder piece is copied either. How do they think they're going to win when most of the composition is entirely original and when the chord progression found at the beginning is one that is commonly used in other compositions?

When you have a lot of money, get ready to be sued a lot. That's the lesson here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

David Lowery vs Spotify




Right when I was in the middle of blowing up all the blogs, this happened:

Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery, retaining the law firm of Michelman & Robinson, LLP, has filed a class action lawsuit seeking at least $150 million in damages against Spotify, alleging it knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully reproduces and distributes copyrighted compositions without obtaining mechanical licenses.


The lawsuit comes amidst ongoing settlement negotiations between Spotify and the National Music Publishers Assn. over the alleged use of allowing users to play music that hasn’t been properly licensed, and also without making mechanical royalty payments to music publishers and songwriters. According to sources, Spotify has created a $17 million to $25 million reserve fund to pay royalties for pending and unmatched song use.


The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 28 in the Central District Court of California.
According to the complaint, Spotify has unlawfully distributed copyrighted music compositions to more than 75 million users, but failed to identify or locate the owners of those compositions for payment, and did not issue a notice of intent to employ a compulsory license.


"We are committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny," says Spotify global head of communications and public policy Jonathan Prince in a statement. "Unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholders is often missing, wrong, or incomplete. When rightsholders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities. We are working closely with the National Music Publishers Association to find the best way to correctly pay the royalties we have set aside and we are investing in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve this problem for good."


The complaint states that Spotify has "publicly" admitted its failure to obtain licenses and created a reserve fund of millions of dollars for royalty payments which have been "wrongfully withheld from artists." The use of songs not lawfully licensed "creates substantial harm and injury to the copyright holders, and diminishes the integrity of the works," the complaint states.


The songs alleged to have been Illegally reproduced and/or distributed by Spotify include "Almond Grove" (copyright registration No. PAu003764032); "Get On Down the Road" (No. PAu003745342); "King of Bakersfield" (No. PAu003745341); and "Tonight I Cross the Border" (No. PAu003745338), according to the complaint.


The complaint further notes that statutory penalties allow for judgments between $750-30,000 for each infringed work, and up to $150,000 per song for willful infringement.
The complaint claims the lawsuit qualifies as a class action because there is a well-defined community of interest in the litigation and that members of the proposed class, which will exceed 100 members, can be easily identified via discovery from Spotify's database files and records. A class action is more efficient than letting the courts be burdened with individual litigation, if every member of the class could afford to pursue action (which is highly unlikely). Class actions conserve the resources of the parties and the court system and protects the rights of each member of the class.


In addition to entering an order appointing Lowery as the class representative and the plaintiff's counsel as class counsel, the complaint asks the court to enjoin Spotify from continued copyright infringement; from further violations of California Business & Professions Code § 17200; injunctive relief that requires Spotify to pay for the services of a third party auditor to identify the works reproduced and distributed by Spotify without first obtaining a mechanical license; and requires Spotify to remove all such works from its services until it obtains the proper licenses.
Lowery, who also teaches at the University of Georgia, and the class seek restitution on Spotify's unlawful proceeds, including defendants' gross profits; for compensatory damages in an amount to be ascertained at trial; statutory damages for all penalties authorized by the Copyright Act; reasonable attorneys' fees and cost; and pre-and post judgment interest on monetary awards.

I am a proud supporter of Lowery's efforts to hold business models like Spotify's up to some level of scrutiny. At this very moment, artists are being ripped off while large companies see their valuation skyrocket. A streaming music service can be worth an implausibly large amount of money because there will always be an "endless" supply of "free" music that can be marketed and delivered to people without having to pay the artists. Spotify is worth an estimated $8 billion dollars. That number will plummet if they're forced to actually pay people what they're owed.




See also:





Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Foo Fighters






A newspaper in Canada recently sent an illustrator to a Foo Fighters gig in a protest against the band's photo contract issued at their shows.

The US group recently evoked controversy for what some have seen as "exploitative" terms stated in a contract the band seek photographers to sign to shoot at their gigs.

Earlier this month, the Washington City Paper issued a statement, saying of the contract: "The band would have 'the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations' without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer".

"That is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple... by signing that contract, the band could then use the creative work of our photographer in their future marketing materials or to resell them through their site. The band’s contract, to be blunt, sucks."


I'm convinced that Dave Grohl started a band twenty years ago so he could screw photographers, and this proves I was right! If only I had written all of this down somewhere.


Seriously, though--if you don't like what you have to sign, don't cover it and don't engage with the artist. Not everyone is required to be reasonable. And, bear in mind, this is just an artist trying to hold onto ownership of something, and not to put anybody out of business or drive someone to distraction.


There's probably a precedent at work here. That was my first serious reaction--oh, they're trying to get ahead of something after having a bad experience. At some point, someone took a photo of the band and exploited them or made money somehow in a dishonest way and this is the reaction to that. It's perfectly understandable--don't rip us off.


This is news because Foo Fighters have the legal and commercial heft to back up their decisions with actual contracts. They don't have to be "cool" about anything because we are long past the moment when everyone else decided, fuck it, let's cash in on someone else's image/sound/success/momentum and make some bucks. Other bands just have to go around with the hats in their hands, begging the media and the industry as a whole to not screw them over. 


How dare an artist try to own pictures of themselves. How dare they try to maintain some control over who sells their images when they, themselves should be in that business if they choose to be.


This goes back to demanding free music at a time when everything should be handed to everyone on a silver platter of entitlement.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Solitary Confinement is a National Problem




You would be hard pressed to get anyone to care about this issue:

Texas has one of the harshest and most punitive criminal justice systems in America. A new report shows just how inhuman the state of Texas is when it comes to doling out the punishment of solitary confinement.


If you have any doubt that solitary confinement is torture, all you need to is to listen to the stories of those who have been forced to endure it. Nevertheless, a new report from the ACLU of Texas finds that about one in ever 22 prisoners there is in solitary confinement— more people "than 12 states house in their entire prison systems."

This is the legal argument behind solitary confinement, as rendered by the legal minds in California last year:

In courtroom proceedings, lawyers for the state have argued that isolation is necessary to keep the peace within prisons, and to hinder gang activity inside and outside prison walls. They said that by creating a so-called "step-down" program last year that allows some prisoners to eventually earn their way out of isolation, the state had made sufficient improvements.

Solitary confinement is torture; it is no different, as far as ethics are concerned, from water boarding or putting a gun in someone's mouth and threatening their life. But, you know, prisoners are scum and they deserve it and they should have thought of that before carrying out their crimes, and so on and so forth.




Monday, February 2, 2015

Warren Sapp Has a Working Girl Problem

A good lawyer can make this go away because these kinds of arrests are entrapment situations that usually come down to misunderstandings and a genuine concern for helping a young lady make her school tuition payments on time. You Better Call Saul, my man.

In the case of Warren Sapp, does he have the money to hire a good lawyer? How many times has he filed bankruptcy? Can he afford a criminal defense attorney based on the conditions of his existing bankruptcy?

If this was Las Vegas, he'd be fine. Hence, a great argument for holding every Super Bowl in sin city. I don't know why we persist in maintaining the illusion that the gamblers don't exist. Pander and cater to the gamblers, and grow the hell up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tyranny in Alabama








Alabama's controversial Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roy Moore, urged the state's governor on Tuesday to oppose a federal judge's decision to strike down the state's gay marriage ban, saying "we must act to oppose such tyranny" being imposed by "judicial fiat."
Moore, known for unsuccessfully trying to block the removal of a plaque bearing the Ten Commandments that he'd installed at the state courthouse in 2001, told Gov. Roy Bentley in a letter that nothing in Alabama's constitution allowed the federal government to "redefine" marriage to include gays and lesbians. The state supreme court, he said, has described marriage as a "divine institution."

"Today the destruction of that institution is upon us by federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution," he wrote in the letter posted to AL.com.

He sounds like the sort of fellow President Jeb Bush would put on the Supreme Court. But real tyranny is when you allow the law to be applied in a separate and unequal manner, especially in the context of using dogs to confront protesters.

Allowing Bruce and Steve to get married isn't tyranny because they're not going to blow up little girls in churches or murder people if they don't get their way. They may rethink the insanity of living in Alabama and expecting the application of the rule of law in a reasonable manner, but that's what elections are for.

There aren't many people willing to use this kind of hyperbole. If Moore feels that granting rights to Americans is tyranny, what does he think real tyranny looks like?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tri-State Munchie Run


Technically, it's not brazen if you're not smiling on security camera footage.
An 18-year-old Kentucky man and his 13-year-old girlfriend who have been missing for 12 days are believed to have taken off on a crime spree across the South, authorities said Thursday, during which they're suspected of having stolen at least two vehicles — one of which had guns in it.
"It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous," the Grayson County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The sheriff's office identified the pair as Dalton Hayes, 18, and his girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, 13, whom Cheyenne's father reported missing on Jan. 3. They're accused of stealing a neighbor's red Toyota pickup truck, which was spotted on security video nine days later outside a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The couple themselves were captured on video entering the store.
Someone needs to calm down. Americans have more guns than anyone else, and leaving guns in a car is as stupid as it gets.

Have they shot anyone? Nope.

Are they on a run for munchies? Probably.

Which parent thought it was okay for an eighteen year old male to consort with a thirteen year-old girl? Hopefully none of them.

Is this going to lead to a couple of completely innocent people being shot by paranoid idiots? That's a distinct possibility.

Alert me when they're only eight days ahead of the law, okay?

Oh, and South Carolina's age of consent is 14, by the way. Yes, as crazy as that is, this is the law:
The legal age of consent in South Carolina is 16. However, individuals as young as 14 years old are able to consent to have sex with a partner who is 18 years old or younger. Submitting to coercion, especially of an aggravated nature, is not consent.
Something tells me that they're just waiting for a berf-day.

In any event, that's some excellent parenting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Meet Sandra McElroy











The Smoking Gun has been looking into the aftermath of the decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Someone over there figured out who Grand Jury Witness Number 40 was. Her name is Sandra McElroy and she happens to be well, you're not going to believe what this crazy bag of nuts did:

Sandra McElroy did not provide police with a contemporaneous account of the Brown-Wilson confrontation, which she claimed to have watched unfold in front of her as she stood on a nearby sidewalk smoking a cigarette.


Instead, McElroy (seen at left) waited four weeks after the shooting to contact cops. By the time she gave St. Louis police a statement on September 11, a general outline of Wilson’s version of the shooting had already appeared in the press. McElroy’s account of the confrontation dovetailed with Wilson’s reported recollection of the incident.


In the weeks after Brown’s shooting--but before she contacted police--McElroy used her Facebook account to comment on the case. On August 15, she “liked’ a Facebook comment reporting that Johnson had admitted that he and Brown stole cigars before the confrontation with Wilson. On August 17, a Facebook commenter wrote that Johnson and others should be arrested for inciting riots and giving false statements to police in connection with their claims that Brown had his hands up when shot by Wilson. “The report and autopsy are in so YES they were false,” McElroy wrote of the “hands-up” claims. This appears to be an odd comment from someone who claims to have been present during the shooting. In response to the posting of a news report about a rally in support of Wilson, McElroy wrote on August 17, “Prayers, support God Bless Officer Wilson.”
After meeting with St. Louis police, McElroy continued monitoring the case and posting online. Commenting on a September 12 Riverfront Times story reporting that Ferguson city officials had yet to meet with Brown’s family, McElroy wrote, “But haven’t you heard the news, There great great great grandpa may or may not have been owned by one of our great great great grandpas 200 yrs ago. (Sarcasm).” On September 13, McElroy went on a pro-Wilson Facebook page and posted a graphic that included a photo of Brown lying dead in the street. A type overlay read, “Michael Brown already received justice. So please, stop asking for it.” The following week McElroy responded to a Facebook post about the criminal record of Wilson’s late mother. “As a teenager Mike Brown strong armed a store used drugs hit a police officer and received Justis,” she stated.

Here's the thing, though. Sandra McElroy wasn't there. She didn't witness anything.


“Witness 40”--a 45-year-old St. Louis resident named Sandra McElroy--was nowhere near Canfield Drive on the Saturday afternoon Brown was shot to death.


She just made it up.



It turns out that McElroy is the crazy person who shocked everyone with her testimony. She's also the person who started a bogus fundraiser and has what could generously be called absolutely zero credibility. Read the whole thing--it will cause you to question absolutely everything and then nothing about our system of justice because, quite frankly, if the people who wanted Darren Wilson to get away with murder hadn't been blessed with Sandra McElroy, they simply would have gone out and manufactured their own version of her, no question about it.








McElroy is why the Justice Department needs to send fifty lawyers and some seriously skilled detectives to Ferguson, Missouri, pronto.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Stupidest Band Ever



The surviving members of Creedence Clearwater Revival are trying to sue each other again, but this time, they mean it.

John Fogerty has been playing his songs live and, in some strange world where that's relevant, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford are upset because this might somehow put a damper on their tribute band version of CCR that plays songs from the good old days.

If your reaction is "what?" then you're not alone. The best CCR songs--the ones that really matter--were all written by John Fogerty. But, through some legal movements years ago, the other members and the widow of Fogerty's brother have some ownership stake in the name of the band for which John Fogerty wrote all of the good songs and therefore have...

I have no idea, either.

Baby boomers--the scum of the Earth when it comes to music and who did what and all that. Jeebus.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mark Wahlberg Deserves a Pardon


Do you think this will happen?
On April 8, 1988, when he was 16 and long before he became a model, rapper and actor, Mark Wahlberg -- high on drugs and alcohol -- assaulted a man while trying to steal two cases of alcohol and then punched another man in the face as he attempted to avoid the police.
He was arrested, sentenced and tried as an adult, and he served 45 days in prison.
Today, at 43, Wahlberg is a much different person -- a father of four, a successful movie star, a philanthropist who works with at-risk youth -- but says he's still legally affected by his convictions. In a petition submitted Monday (PDF), he's asking for a pardon.
To me, the idea of remorse is the most important aspect of asking for a pardon. Wahlberg has taken responsibility for his actions and he has expressed remorse. In light of all that, he should be granted a pardon. And this really has nothing to do with who he is or how wealthy he is (although I would imagine a lawyer helped him with the request in exchange for a hefty fee).

The pardon process is woefully mistaken for a partisan political tool. It should be a tool for granting people the possibility of returning to public life. It should work for the poor as well as the wealthy, no matter what.

Friday, November 21, 2014

This is the Smartest Move Ever




The best way to ensure that African Americans feel safe and that their right to protest has not been infringed upon is to flood the area with FBI agents before anything happens.

Did I get that right?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shameless and Nameless




What is happening in Ferguson, Missouri is a shameless attempt to escape accountability. The evidence from the Grand Jury proceeding will show, and I'm guessing here, that Michael Brown was just culpable enough in his own execution to justify letting Darren Wilson escape justice.

Was this an example of really bad police work? At the local level, absolutely. Was this an example as to how unarmed black males are executed on a regular basis in this country? Yep, Will anyone be held accountable? Nope.

There's no telling what will happen. Maybe everything and maybe nothing. But we have lost another opportunity to talk about race and class in a way that fixes the problems. We have another example on our hands as to how the tribes will stay divided and how the rule of law benefits whites.

Name names. Shame those who fail to police this country appropriately. Let the jurors be ready to explain themselves. Let the country decide whose country this is at the end of the day. It never belonged to anyone who didn't already have most of the guns.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jameis Winston Will Debauch a Toll Road Before the Year is Out




The list of crimes this young man has been accused of grows by the week. You'd think that Florida State would have hired "handlers" for Winston by now, but that's not the case. They're simply allowing him to have the run of the place.

Shouldn't someone point out that Winston's education is more important than anything else? Shouldn't there be some tacit acknowledgement that his Heisman Trophy is rented, not owned at this point? No? Okay, then.

There aren't many crimes left--bigamy, carnal knowledge of a goat, failure to remove cheese from a sales display before the freshness date passes, dancing without a permit on Sunday. This young man in the wrecking ball that the NCAA simply wasn't designed to stop.

How is it that he's allowed to play football? And I should add, "ever again?"

The Butt Grabber

John Epps Jr. is a serial butt grabber.

Epps Jr. has been accused of inappropriately touching two middle school females in Montgomery County. It's all on videotape, apparently, and his actions caused Montgomery County Public Schools a tremendous amount of embarrassment (which is what we call legal liability) when it was revealed that he had worked at nearly 60 different schools in the district.

In the old days, you would call him a pervert or worse. Now, you just call him a contractor:
So, how did Epps Jr. manage to gain access to nearly 60 schools in a day and age when student safety and wellbeing are two of the highest priorities? MCPS administrators were quick to point the finger at the 44-year-old's employer, Rockville-based Netcom Technologies, Inc.
In May, Netcom, Inc. hired Epps Jr. from a temporary staffing agency. Yet, instead of running its own independent background check, Netcom, Inc. accepted the paperwork the temp agency had on file. MCPS says those documents were grossly inaccurate.
"Going forward, Netcom has said [it] will do full checks on any temporary employee hired to work in a school. We are also reminding all of our contractors who work in our schools what their obligations are under the law and requiring they re-run checks on their employees working in schools," MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig said in an email sent to ABC 7.
Netcom, Inc., which has earned tens of millions of dollars in contracts from MCPS over the last 20 years, did not return our phone calls seeking comment.
Going forward, Netcom Inc. will still make a lot of money putting perverts on their payroll and pretending to know something about the people they hire. Profit margins being what they are, does anyone really expect this company to sweat a little butt grabbing? That's for the lawyers to work out.

Epps Jr. has made a career out of butt grabbing. Let's hope someone finally registers him as a sex offender (another failure documented in the article) and keeps him away from school kids.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Isn't Jian Ghomeshi Already in Jail?




I still can't figure any of this out:


Eight women from across Canada now accuse former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi of abusive behaviour ranging from allegations of beating and choking without consent, to workplace sexual harassment.


The allegations the Star is probing range from 2002 to the present.


One of the women, popular Canadian television actor Lucy DeCoutere, has agreed to be identified. DeCoutere, who plays Lucy on Trailer Park Boys , recalls an incident in 2003 when she alleges Ghomeshi, without warning or consent, choked her to the point she could not breathe and then slapped her hard three times on the side of her head.

I have no problem believing these women and I can see a great deal of clarity in their allegations--Jian Ghomeshi is a violent man who sexually assaults women. What I cannot understand is how he has avoided accountability until now.


Scott Lemieux breaks it down, and this is what's so awful about the collision between online stalking and in-person real-life stalking--they are often one and the same. Our legal system has to come up with ways to deal with these kinds of things, privacy be damned.


All societies should empower women to make an accusation and have it handled responsibly. The first time that this happened, the person being assaulted by Ghomeshi should have felt safe enough to report it and the case should have been handled in a respectful and responsible manner. Yes, in our legal system, you can face your accuser. In Canada's legal system, who the hell knows what they can do? Is it based on the English system where old men in wigs direct barristers to and fro?


Somewhere, in this vast knowledge gap of mine, is an answer I probably don't want to know. 


How the hell is this asshole not in jail? 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Compassion and American Society




When I look at a story like this, I can see several things at play.

First, we are privatizing institutions that should be under state and local oversight. Privatization shifts money to areas where rampant abuse can be allowed to persist because this involves prisoners, and we don't care about prisoners in this country. At all.

Second, this affects women and minorities. We don't care about them, either, so privatizing their incarceration or their punishment is easier than figuring out how to correct our society's indifference to their situations. These people are less than human, you see. They commit suicide with their hands bound behind their backs. They die in a hail of gunfire of their own making. They are beaten and abused and attacked by corrupt people who operate without fear of reprisal. If there's an outcry, all they have to do is retire.

Third, we are held in the thrall of a right wing rage machine that has a juvenile response to anyone put in jail for anything--serves them right! These same "originalists" and believers in the sage wisdom of our Founders would be shocked to find out how they treated their prisoners and those accused but not convicted of any crimes.

Fourth, let's not forget the wave of people freed from jail by revelations of prosecutorial misconduct, DNA evidence, and people who recanted their testimony. Chances are always good that the local jail in your town has at least one innocent person in it, maybe you some day. Oh, well. Too bad.

Fifth, the law only serves people who have money. If you're broke, you're looking at time. Got cash? You get to go free. Our society is woefully indifferent to the plight of anyone who can't raise bail money.

There is no compassion for anyone anymore. This story won't even raise an eyebrow with people in most cases because they tuned out immediately after learning that this happened in an American jail. Don't want to die of gangrene? Don't go to jail, sucker. Never mind if you were put there by accident, beaten, neglected, or used to work out someone's anger issues.

America used to be a compassionate country where people cared about the rule of law. Now, it's about money and the wrath of God. If we let this take over our society, we'll end up with more jails full of dead people and with absolutely no right to tell anyone how to conduct their affairs.