Cecily McMillan Asks Corrections Commissioner to Address "Desperate" Situation for Rikers' Women

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McMillan reading a statement at the Rikers gates after her release in July.
It seems pretty clear that the situation at Rikers Island, the jail that holds the vast majority of New York City's prisoners, is reaching some kind of critical mass. While no one has ever been under the impression that it's some kind of model facility, a recent, scathing series of reports has revealed just how bad things are: after a two year investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice found "rampant" use of excessive force by guards against adolescent inmates. Before that, in July of this year, an investigation by the New York Times found similar brutality committed by corrections officers against mentally ill inmates. Three guards have been arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs into the jail, with correction officials darkly hinting there may be more arrests to follow.

In the wake of all that, Cecily McMillan, former Occupy protester and brief one-time resident of Rikers, is urging Commissioner Ponte to address what she calls the "desperate" situation at Rikers, particularly for women.

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Robert Whitfield, Rikers Guard on His Way to Prison, Shopped Around For Inmate Willing to Bribe Him

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On Tuesday, Robert Whitfield, a former Rikers prison guard, was handed a lengthy sentence for accepting a bribe from a drug dealer. Whitfield, 51, was arrested in 2011, after an investigation by the New York City Department of Investigation and the DEA's New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force found that he had brokered a deal to take six and a half pounds of cocaine in exchange for promising to help shorten the drug dealer's sentence. But it turns out that Whitfield had been looking around for a while for someone who was willing to bribe him. He was indiscreet about it. One of the inmates he approached promptly went to the authorities, and as a result, has received a shortened prison sentence. That inmate was in prison for possessing large amounts of drugs. Life is funny, isn't it?

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ACT UP Did March for Single-Payer Health Care

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In this week's Pride Issue feature "Does 'Gay Inc.' Believe in Free Speech?" we report about how the mainstream gay organizations, even the AIDS groups, were largely absent from Zuccotti Park in 2011 and were not advocating a single-payer option during 2010's raging health care debates.

Reader Eustacia Smith wrote to inform us that ACT UP New York did march for single-payer healthcare.

Earlier in our article, we'd written:

Today's movement is quite unlike ACT UP, the Gay Liberation Front, or the Mattachine Society. In their use of confrontation, those groups looked far more like Occupy Wall Street than the Human Rights Campaign. Today's gay organizations tend to present queer voices that are well polished and well financed.
Because of this, we didn't consider ACT UP to be part of what we were later discussing about today's big gay organizations, as it was never part of 'Gay Inc.'

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School Has Trouble Spelling 'School'

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Another school, another spelling mistake.
Attenshun, streat crossang gards adn teechers and stoo-dents, and, peeple who paynte street sines. Spelling is still very important! Not doing it properly, or at least double-checking your work before it goes down semi-permanently in the asphalt, makes you look stooooopid. Hence, the mockery that has been heaped upon the Lower East Side's own Marta Valle High School, which features, on nearby Stanton Street, the designation "SHCOOL X-NG." It has been there for months, reports the New York Post. Monfs!

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Anonymous Doesn't Actually Want to Destroy Facebook

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Stop backing up your Facebook photos, because hacker collective Anonymous' plot to kill the 'book was all a big misunderstanding. Not a hoax, exactly; there was once a plan by an Anonymous user named Speakeasy and associates to raise awareness about Facebook's privacy policies and start an alternate social networking service. The originators of the idea handed over the reigns to the social network, Anonplus, to others, but left scraps of their work behind. Like in a game of Telephone, those scraps were distorted in the hands of other Internet trolls and eventually it was made to seem as though Anonymous was hell-bent on Facebook's destruction.

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Sarah Palin Not So Good at American History

Remember how in elementary school you learned about that guy, Paul Revere, who rode from Boston to Lexington, Massachusetts, on horseback during the American Revolution as part of an organized alarm system to warn folks that the British were coming? He didn't, despite popular belief, actually shout "The British are coming!" He also did not shoot guns or ring bells, as Sarah Palin mistakenly tells America in this video, taken during her bus stop to Boston yesteryearday, 'cause that would have been pretty obvious to, you know, the British. Oh well, elementary school was a long time ago, right? You betcha it was.


Kian Khatibi Graduates NYU After 9 Years in Jail for a Crime His Brother Committed

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Walking in NYU's commencement ceremony today is a guy with a particularly moving story: He's 35, and was imprisoned for 9 years for a crime he didn't commit, which his brother finally confessed to, allowing for his release three years ago. At 22, Kian Khatibi had been at a bar in Pleasantville, New York, when a fight began. His brother was also at the bar. A man was stabbed outside and almost died; another bar-goer was injured, and Khatibi was blamed, then imprisoned.

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Julian Assange & the News Cycle: Guantanamo Bay Info Starts With WikiLeaks

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Earlier today, we reported on the new information available about Guantanamo Bay, as some of the world's largest news organizations began publishing piles of previously classified documents about more than 700 prisoners detained there since 2002. The information was leaked to Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization, but the New York Times and the Guardian, both of which pissed off Assange personally and have ended their working relationships with the polarizing figure, also had scoops of their own based on the same info, adding a complex media component to an already multifaceted story. Yes, Obama promised to close Guantanamo and hasn't, all while human rights violations continue, but in Press Clips, our daily media column, we'll spell out the behind-the-scenes drama in publishing this week's leak.

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Sad Japanese Cat Is Reportedly Safe!

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Yesterday we posted an image of a cat in Japan that seemed to be just hanging on with the most heart-wrenching of expressions above what we, given the timing, interpreted as tsunami water. We would like to correct ourselves. It turns out that the photo, which had been reblogged by WNYC's Transmitter from another Tumblr, Nikki-Meow, has a date on it that -- as some of our commenters pointed out -- indicates it may have been taken pre-tsunami.

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Relax! Your Astrological Sign Has Not Changed. Probably.

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ZOMG! We were stressed about the latest life-changing astrological information, which actually is not "news" at all, but something people have known about for years! Still, we were stressed! Fortunately, CNN puts an end to our worries that our astrological sign might have changed with the very important news that it (probably) did not: "If [people] adhered to the tropical zodiac -- which, if they're a Westerner, they probably did -- absolutely nothing has changed for them." As they go on to explain,

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