Prison officials’ crimes mount at Ramsey Unit in Texas

first_imgHouston“I just can’t take it anymore,” Michael Beck told other prisoners at the W. F. Ramsey Unit state prison, in Rosharon, Texas, 33 miles south of Houston. Then during the first week of January, he wrapped a fan cord around his neck and tied the other end of it to the railing on Row 2 of his cell block.Beck leapt up and then fell 20 feet, his head hitting the steel and concrete stairwell below. Two prisoners rushed to him and carried him up the stairs. Fortunately, the cord snapped and somewhat broke his fall. After the guards stopped laughing, they handcuffed him and had him shipped to the nearby Jester IV Unit, a psychiatric prison.No one called for medical help or provided a stretcher. Over 50 prisoners saw this horrifying event. Prison officials did not take witness statements. No counseling was given to the traumatized men, who were already reeling from the COVID virus and the subsequent lockdowns that have infected almost every person in the prison.Prison during a pandemicRegarding protection from the virus, masks given to the prisoners are made by prisoners working in the laundry. They cut up prison bed sheets, which are so thin that this reporter can see her household lights through the fabric of the mask she was given.No Texas prisoner has received visits since last March. Phone calls are allowed for some, depending on their disciplinary status. The isolation is mentally challenging. The craft shop is not open. Schooling is done via mail. The Ramsey Unit has three recreation yards and two gymnasiums, yet they were rarely used until dozens of prisoners recently filed grievances regarding the lack of recreation time. Prison activist Nanon Williams reported, “Now they are running recreation all day and night. Before, it was only on their paperwork.”The stress increases every day in all U.S. prisons, jails and detention centers, where it is impossible to socially distance. At the Ramsey Unit, proper masks are not given out until after a prisoner tests positive for the virus. Then that person’s entire wing is quarantined. Only after the virus is present do prisoners on that wing get N-95 masks.But the Ramsey Unit reportedly has 4,000 N-95 masks in storage. Williams said, “These masks are not being used to prevent the spread of the virus, but instead are used only when the virus is already present. Prisoners are being moved around, and it’s impossible to socially distance.”Nanon Williams with his mother, Lee Bolton, in 2000.No retaliation for exposing conditions!Prisoners who write grievances or contact their families or the news media with information about conditions that are dangerous, inhumane, illegal or racist should not be retaliated against. Often, prisoners who file grievances or complain about conditions are shipped out to another prison unit, far from family and support. Or they may lose their jobs working in the kitchen or laundry and be put out in the fields. Or their parole may be denied because they are a “trouble maker.”One particular officer, who was involved in a disciplinary case quota scam a few years ago, is now trying to find out which prisoners corresponded with the media. Lieut. Joe Lopez ordered a quota system at the Ramsey Unit two years ago. It resulted in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice changing the policy to expressly prohibit requiring guards to meet disciplinary quotas.After the quotas were exposed in Workers World newspaper, the Houston Chronicle and other major media, Lopez was demoted in rank. Last November when an article appeared in Workers World Newspaper that had his name in it,  he told prisoners who work around him that he is going to “f–k over” those who specifically communicated with WW. Prisoners say he can do this by having guards working under his command plant contraband on prisoners or enter the phone numbers of a prisoner’s relatives into a cell phone that is mysteriously found.Williams has repeatedly told WW that he follows all prison rules, but that he has a right to correspond with media in Texas and the U.S. regarding guards’ and officers’ abuses and violations. He told this reporter, “I am not in fear of my life. I do not want to get transferred away from my family for reporting the wrongs that I see or writing articles or books or whatever. I am within the rules of the governing policy here and should not be punished for doing so.”No prisoner should be threatened with retaliation for doing what is legal. It is the carceral state that needs to be retaliated against. Prisons torture, maim and murder every day. Not only should prisoners expose and fight against this, but it is the duty of those outside the prisons to support those prisoners. United in solidarity, we will tear down the walls!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Drunken man hacks laborer

first_imgResident Benigno Villar was recuperatingat the Barotac Viejo District Hospital. He sustained three hack wounds on thebody, police said. Officers of the municipal police stationconducted a manhunt operation against the suspect, who fled after theincident./PN The suspect was identified as HarveyBernacion, also a resident of the said village. According to police investigators, Bernaciongot irked when Villar reportedly switched off the lights. This prompted thesuspect to hack the victim around 11 p.m. on Dec. 10. ILOILO City – A 53-year-old laborer landedin a hospital after he got hacked by a drunken man in Barangay California,Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.last_img

Half-time: Arsenal 0 QPR 0

first_imgQPR reached the interval on level terms after managing to frustrate Arsenal in the London derby at the Emirates Stadium.The Gunners went close to scoring when Aaron Ramsey’s looping header from Bacary Sagna’s right-wing cross hit the top of the bar.Rangers survived another scare after Jack Wilshere’s long-range shot was fumbled by keeper Julio Cesar, who later looked much more comfortable while keeping out an effort from Olivier Giroud.With captain Ji-sung Park having failed a fitness test on a knee problem, R’s boss Mark Hughes restored Shaun Wright-Phillips to the starting line-up.QPR (4-4-1-1): Cesar; Bosingwa, Mbia, Nelsen, Traore; Wright-Phillips, Granero, Diakite, Taarabt; Hoilett, Zamora. Subs: Ferdinand, Cisse, Mackie, Mackie, Onuoha, Ephraim, Faurlin.Click here for the Arsenal v QPR quizFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Ohio’s Crop Progress Report – April 20th, 2015

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Muddy fields and rainy weather has continued to delay fieldwork in Ohio, according to the USDA, NASS, Great Lakes Region. There were 1.7 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending April 19th. Rainfall was actually below normal in most areas, but warmer drier weather is needed to reduce the moisture surpluses from wet weather earlier in the season. Some very limited planting of corn occurred in areas with higher elevation and/or lighter soils. Planting of oats advanced, but still lags behind the previous year and five year average. The warm temperatures last week brought on the greening of the wheat, pasture, and hay fields.View this week’s Crop Progress Report for Ohiolast_img

Losing Ground

first_imgWhen I first ventured into green building early in the 21st century, I was ahead of most people on the curve. Using materials and methods that were practically unheard of in the industry, I was able to quickly take a leadership position in green remodeling.Over the next few years, the daily demands of running a construction business made it difficult to keep up with the industry as much as I would have liked, and now, having stopped building and renovating, I find myself falling further behind every day.As a consultant, I still have the opportunity to work with homeowners and contractors, helping them step up their products to higher performance levels, but I still do not see as much state-of-the-art technology as I would like. When I see colleagues working on cutting-edge projects, I find myself getting jealous, and consider getting back into building, just to stay on course and not fall further behind. Then I take a deep breath, and remember just how much the actual building process drove me nuts.I recognized a long time ago that being a contractor made me crazy most of the time. There are many things about contracting that I like, but they tend to be outweighed by the things that I don’t like, such as anxiety, loss of sleep, and a generally elevated stress level. I was always very impressed with friends in the business who were able to leave work at work every day and simply didn’t allow the stresses to get to them 24/7. Unfortunately, I am not so lucky.Nearing the end of construction of a house I built in 2006-’07, my girlfriend looked at me and said, “Do you think that sometime we could talk about something other than how stressed out you are about this project?” Somewhat shocked, I thought about what she said, thanked her profusely for cluing me in, and made a concerted effort to separate my life from my work.If I take on any construction jobs in the future, I will have to keep that need for separation in mind. Right now, I am toying with the idea of building myself a new house. I am worried about the impact it will have on my personal life and excited about the possibility of pushing the envelope of green building. I am looking at alternative wall structures like Durisol and Hebel block, considering passive solar options (which could be a challenge with all the old-growth trees on my in-town lot), and mulling over how to design and build the most efficient house I possibly can.Chances are I will eventually go ahead with this project, but inertia is a strong force to overcome. I’ll have to see how the economy turns out over the next year or so before I commit to taking on more debt. Then again, if my work starts to slow down, I am going to have to find something to do with my time—since I live my work, and generally really enjoy it, I have never developed any hobbies to keep me busy. I’ll keep you posted.last_img read more

Companies Should Take Charge of the Potential Toxins in Common Products

first_imgBy DANA CORDELL, DENA FAM, and NICK FLORINEditor’s note: The authors are Australian. Every year thousands of new contaminants enter the market in common consumer products and are washed down our drains without treatment. They end up in the water we drink, the fish we eat, and other marine life. These contaminants are lawfully produced and sold by the chemical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.Contaminants can range from microbeads and nanoparticles in cosmetics, to microthreads or cancer-causing NPEs and phthalates in synthetic clothing and flame retardants. They can also be antimicrobials and endocrine disruptors from our medication.Regulations are unable to keep up with the barrage of potentially dangerous contaminants entering the market. Instead, we believe companies should take more responsibility for the damage they cause our environment and public health, by making sure their products aren’t toxic before they hit the market. Should You Worry About PFOA in Your Water?Adopting a Green Lifestyle Ten Things You Need to Know About the New U.S.Chemicals LawIs There Lead in the Water of Your Green Building?Study Linking Autism to Vinyl Flooring Stokes Phthalate Debate RELATED ARTICLES U.S. researchers have identified some 80,000 chemical contaminants in wastewater sludge, while the European Union has identified at least 140,000. It is hard to say how many exist in Australian wastewater, but given that Australian consumers buy and use similar products to Americans and Europeans, we can safely assume broadly similar levels.This makes for a vast range of substances for regulators to consider. Furthermore, restricted pollutants, such as bisphenol A (BPA), can be substituted with compounds that haven’t attracted the same level of scrutiny. Current guidelines mostly focus on a narrow list of “mainstream” contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead and mercury.The environmental risk is increased by the changing ways we manage solid waste and wastewater, especially as waste is increasingly diverted for use in energy and food production. We need to act on the potential threat of chemical compounds in our wastewater that don’t break down or become concentrated in higher quantities as they move up the food chain. And wastewater contaminants are typically much harder than solid waste to trace back to their original source.The potential impacts on the environment, human health, and infrastructure are broad and in many cases unknown. Some contaminants can exert their toxic effects in local aquatic ecosystems very quickly. An example is the impact of estrogen on the feminization of fish.While other countries have begun regulating these hazardous compounds, we are falling behind. A Greenpeace report, Toxic Threads, singled out Australia as at risk of becoming the dumping ground of the Western world.Presently, much of the burden to manage these risks falls on wastewater service providers, environmental protection authorities, regulatory bodies and ultimately ratepayers. However, we have the opportunity to transform how we manage tens of thousands of emergent and existing contaminants. We have the potential to involve the companies that produce these contaminants in their responsible life-cycle management to ensure environmental and public health is maintained. Extending responsibility to producersThese companies can take a lesson from the solid waste sector. A good example is the EU, where manufacturers of everything from cars to carpets can be legally required to take back their products at the end of their life. This is known as “extended producer responsibility,” or product stewardship.A U.N. project, Chemicals in Products, helps fill in knowledge gaps along product supply chains to ensure potentially hazardous chemicals can be traced back to their source. In Australia, more than 20 predominantly voluntary industry-led initiatives promote active responsibility for products across their lifespan, including after they have been discarded.These schemes can help to drive innovations in product and process design, such as building computers and refrigerators for easy disassembly and reuse. Currently, such rules only apply to solid waste products, but the federal government’s Product Stewardship Act (2011) is soon to be reviewed. There’s an opportunity to expand this type of extended producer responsibility approach to a broader range of products and contaminants that end up in wastewater to better share management and the burden of clean-up among manufacturers, retailers, waste service providers and consumers. Tens of thousands of contaminantsContaminants in common products like shampoos, toothpaste and makeup are almost impossible to manage once they hit our shelves. Once sold, they almost inevitably end up washed down the drain, where the burden of dealing with them falls largely on the taxpayer-funded wastewater system. Transforming our approachGiven the rate at which new contaminants of unknown toxicity enter our cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and cleaning products (and end up in our waterways), the precautionary principle may need to apply.For example, companies could be required to prove their new chemical compounds have a benign effect on the environment and human health before being released onto the market.This precautionary principle, which puts the burden of proof on companies, was first applied to hazardous chemicals introduced to the European market. This pre-market approach has since been implemented in California and China.Mitigating risks of individual contaminants will require a range of possible policy, industry, and consumer responses. In the case of microbeads, for example, consumers can choose to avoid buying such products, and governments can and are banning microbeads.Extended producer responsibility provides an incentive for industry to avoid contaminants altogether at the product design stage. In the pharmaceutical industry there are examples of companies adopting “green chemistry” approaches that avoid the use of hazardous ingredients in the production of medicines and the need for downstream waste treatment. Either way, questions about the potential risks and environmental impact of the different approaches taken will need to be answered.However, managing unknown risks of thousands of emergent contaminants in wastewater for which there is little traceability — and hence accountability — may require an integrated and precautionary approach. But the question still remains: whose responsibility? The authors are research directors at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. This post originally appeared at The Conversation.last_img read more

LeBron May Be The Most Clutch Playoff Shooter Of His Generation

On Sunday afternoon, LeBron James offered another reminder of how silly it was to ever doubt his performance in the clutch.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz-3ItHYeiQAfter the game, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst tweeted that James has now made more go-ahead shots at the end of playoff games than Michael Jordan. (It’s not the only area in which James is Jordan’s statistical peer in the postseason.)Windhorst’s definition for what constitutes a game-winning shot is as good as any — it covers all potential go-ahead field-goal attempts with five or fewer seconds remaining in the fourth quarter (or overtime) of playoff games. At Basketball-Reference.com, I was able to find 10 such attempts for James: five makes and five misses.1I’m not sure what accounts for the discrepancy with Windhorst’s numbers (he has James as 6-for-10), but for the remainder of this post, I will use Basketball-Reference.com as my data source. How does that stack up to other playoff performers over the years?Unfortunately, Jordan’s playoff career predates BBR’s shot-by-shot database by three seasons, but the site does have a record of every such shot attempted since the 2001 playoffs. And in those go-ahead situations (after accounting for the leverage of the game in which each shot occurred), nobody has a better record relative to expectations2As measured by points generated per shot above what would be expected from the distance of the shot. than James — particularly not his longtime nemesis Kobe Bryant, who sits at the opposite end of the list.Relative to the league-wide average, James generated 4.8 more total points than expected on his go-ahead shots, which translates to about one entire playoff win beyond what an average shooter would have contributed from the same field-goal distances. And those numbers become magnified when you consider that James’s average go-ahead shot came in a playoff game with championship implications 34 percent greater than the typical postseason contest. After we weight by the leverage of his specific game-winning shot attempts, James generated the equivalent3At normal playoff conditions. of 8.5 more points than expected, or roughly two playoff wins above average, with his clutch end-of-game shooting alone.(By contrast, Bryant generated 3.2 fewer points than expected and did it in games that were about 64 percent more important than the average playoff game, compounding the damage of his 1-for-10 performance.)So there’s no doubting James’s history of knocking down big playoff shots. But what’s also interesting about the list above is that the trailing section contains slightly better players, on balance; the bottom 10 players have tallied 1,090 wins above replacement (WAR), versus 987 WAR for the top 10.Granted, there’s essentially no relationship between career WAR and leverage-weighted net expected points for the entire sample of players … but maybe that’s the point. Role players can be called upon to hit huge shots with championship implications just as readily as stars. While James (and Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Paul, to name a few) are all-time greats, the fact that the likes of Rashard Lewis and Metta World Peace also rank so highly — and Bryant fares so poorly — might speak as much as anything else to the unpredictability of who steps up and changes the course of NBA history with a clutch shot or two.One thing’s for sure, though: James has shown that he’s better at knocking down such consequential buckets than any other player of his generation. read more