Monday Media Roundup: Anita Hill on Countrywide, Nancy Gertner on Justice in Mass, Danielle Ofri on the Ritalin shortage
Anita Hill (Reimagining Equality) calls on the goverment to restore communities blighted by the subprime mortgage crisis:
Ultimately, after the financial market collapsed, the government bailed out the banking industry, including Bank of America, which now owns Countrywide. The industry rebounded because the government concluded that a secure banking system was in the public’s interest. Yet, the playing field won’t be level as long as American communities pay for the corrupt decisions made by lenders. A federal effort targeted at restoring blighted neighborhoods is needed to clean up the mess left behind by such egregious predatory practices as those alleged in the Department’s reports and pleadings. The establishment of a pool of money, drawn from fines for violation of the laws and modeled after the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund, to be distributed by the DOJ in collaboration with state and local governments, is also in the public’s interest. The process for prioritizing communities set for restoration and structuring relief could be coordinated with other agencies under the DOJ’s direction.
Nancy Gertner (In Defense of Women) wants Massachusetts to move forward, not backward, in criminal justice reform.
Massachusetts is the only New England state with life without parole for juveniles. The Supreme Court has recognized that the adolescent brain is sufficiently different from that of an adult that the death penalty is inappropriate -- even for murder, as is life without parole in non-murder cases. And it is inconsistently applied. The story is a familiar one: The law is enacted because of one juvenile’s horrific crime, but is then applied in very different cases - to impulsive crimes, nowhere near as brutal as the offense that motivated the law, committed by teenagers with little or no prior record.
We should respond with compassion, and by showing up as human beings. I once had a heckler ask me, "What about bestiality?" What I did was, I showed him my engagement ring, and asked him to look me in the eye and tell me that my love for my partner was no different from the lust a person might feel for a sheep or a goat. Of course, he couldn’t do that.
By showing up without anger but with our human dignity, we give the lie to the claim that someone can "know all about gays" without actually meeting one as a human being.
Most physicians think little about prescriptions after they hand them off to their patients. Usually, the only time I hear about it is when a patient calls from the pharmacy because the insurance plan has changed which statin it covers or a medication is not covered by insurance and the price is simply astronomical — what could I substitute?
But Amy’s experience is quite different. Pharmacies just seem to be out of Ritalin, and no one seems to know when more will arrive. And without medications to treat their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, life can fall apart. Amy’s ability to do her job and run a household can become overwhelming. More painfully, her son’s schooling suffers.
“For each new prescription,” Amy says, “I must muster up energy to begin the hunt. Maybe I’ll get lucky and my order can be filled on the first try. But most often, it’s the start of a very difficult search that can take weeks, and burns precious resources.”
In light of mapping being done by the NYPD's new "Demographics Unit," the NYTimes City Room blog asks Chris Finan (From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act) about the history of racial and ethnic profiling by the department:
Mr. Finan, who is the president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said the maps were used by the legislative committee “to justify a series of laws violating First Amendment rights” — loyalty tests and other provisions — which Mr. Smith vetoed in 1920 as striking at “the very foundation of one of the most cardinal institutions of our nation: the fundamental right of the people to enjoy full liberty in the domain of idea and speech.”
Mr. Finan said of the latest effort by the Police Department, “This mapping exercise is as silly — and dangerous — today as it was in 1919.”
Walmart's rise as a grocer triggered two massive waves of industry consolidation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. One occurred among supermarkets, as regional titans like Kroger and Fred Meyer combined to form national chains that stood a better chance of surviving Walmart's push into groceries. Today, the top five food retailers capture half of all grocery sales, double the share they held in 1997.
The second wave of consolidation came as meatpackers, dairy companies, and other food processors merged in an effort to be large enough to supply Walmart without getting crushed in the process. The takeover of IBP, the nation's largest beef processor, by Tyson Fresh Meats is a prime example. "When Tyson bought IBP in 2001, they said they had to do that in order to supply Walmart. We saw horizontal integration in the meat business because of worries about access to the retail market," explained Mary Hendrickson, a food systems expert at the University of Missouri. Four firms now slaughter more than 80 percent of cattle. A similar dynamic has played out in nearly every segment of food manufacturing.
"Bank Owned" photo from BigStock.