From left: Dolphins linemen Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, and John Jerry. While Incognito was identified as a bullying leader, all three took part, according to the report.
In November, after Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the team due to bullying from teammate Richie Incognito, the NFL commissioned an independent investigation to look into the matter. The results of that investigation, released today, reveal a pattern of racist, homophobic, and generally awful instances of harassment that took place inside and outside the Dolphins' locker room. Read the lowlights—which are vulgar and graphic—below.
Incognito leaves a racist voicemail for Martin (page 10):
"Hey, wassup, you half-nigger piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I'll shit in your fuckin' mouth. I'm gonna slap your fuckin' mouth, I'm gonna slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. Fuck you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."
Incognito and others taunt and harass an Asian American trainer (page 22):
Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey admitted that they directed racially derogatory words toward him, including "Jap" and "Chinaman." At times, according to Martin, they referred to the Assistant Trainer as a "dirty communist" or a "North Korean," made demands such as "give me some water you fucking chink," spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for "rubby rubby sucky sucky," and called his mother a "rub and tug masseuse." Martin and others informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer with jokes about having sex with his girlfriend. Incognito admitted that these types of comments were made to the Assistant Trainer.
On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. Martin reported that the Assistant Trainer confided to him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor prank, finding it derogatory and demeaning.
Incognito and an anonymous teammate exchange text messages joking about shooting black people (page 103):
Player B: Fuck yea! That what I'm doin my .338 in. Badass
Incognito: That's gonna be sick
Player B: Especially if u plan living in Arizona in the future, that's exactly what you want
Incognito: Yea. For picking off zombies
Player B: Lol isn't that why we own any weapons!?
Incognito: That and black people
Player B: Mmm def all black ppl
Incognito and others, including a coach, engage in homophobic taunting (page 19):
Incognito and others acknowledged that Player A was routinely touched by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey in a mockingly suggestive manner, including on his rear end, while being taunted about his supposed homosexuality. Incognito specifically admitted that he would grab Player A and ask for a hug as part of this "joke."
Martin said that on one occasion, Pouncey physically restrained Player A and, in full view of other players, jokingly told Jerry to "come get some pussy," and that Jerry responded by touching Player A's buttocks in a way that simulated anal penetration. Pouncey and Jerry both denied this allegation. Given the seriousness of this allegation and the conflicting recollections, we decline to make any findings about this particular alleged incident.
The evidence shows that [offensive line coach Jim Turner] overheard and participated in this behavior toward Player A. During the 2012 Christmas season, Coach Turner gave all of the offensive linemen gift bags that included a variety of stocking stuffers. In each gift bag except for Player A's, Turner included a female "blow-up" doll; Player A's bag included a male doll.
Incognito tries to get teammates to get rid of evidence—a "fine book" that lists financial penalties for offenses like wearing "ugly ass shoes" or being a "pussy" (page 42):
"They're trying to suspend me Please destroy the fine book first thing in the morning."
Martin tells his parents about the taunting and his struggles with depression (page 15):
"I care about my legacy as a professional athlete. But I'm miserable currently. A therapist & medication won't help me gain the respect of my teammates. I really don't know what to do Mom."
"People call me a Nigger to my face. Happened 2 days ago. And I laughed it off. Because I am too nice of a person. They say terrible things about my sister. I don't do anything. I suppose it's white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek"
Martin texts a friend with the pros and cons of continuing to play football (page 112):
-Football games are fun
-I can make a lot of money playing football and be set for life
-I have a legacy that will live after I die
-not many people get to live their childhood dream
-I am the left tackle for the Miami dolphins
-if I quit, I'll be known as a quitter for the rest of my life
-my legacy at Stanford will be tarnished
-I will never be able to look any coach from my past in the eye
-I hate going in everyday.
-I am unable to socialize with my teammates in their crude manner
-I already have a lot of money. I could travel the world, get my degree. Then get a real job
-I could lose 70 lbs and feel good about my body
-I won't die from CTE
-Maybe I'll start to LIKE myself
-I don't need to live lavishly. I could live very frugally
-why do I care about these people? All I need is my family
Sgt Jason O. Lucas, an infantryman assigned to Predator Company, 4th Squadron "Longknife", 3d Cavalry Regiment, kisses his wife Emily during a redeployment ceremony held Jan. 30 at the West Fort Hood Gym. Lucas returned from a nine-month long deployment in Afghanistan with III Corps. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Dator, 3d Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs)
On Thursday night, a federal court in Virginia struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Although the ruling follows similar decisions in Oklahoma and Utah, it stands out for its celebratory tone and its stirring portrayal of marriage equality as a fundamental right. US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen found that allowing same-sex marriage, like abolishing slavery and extending suffrage to women, was part of American’s ongoing expansion of constitutional rights to people who had been unjustly excluded. In her words, "We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect."
Below is an excerpt from her opinion:
The plaintiffs [two same-sex couples] ask for nothing more than to exercise a right that is enjoyed by the vast majority of Virginia's adult citizens. They seek simply the same right that is currently enjoyed by heterosexual individuals: the right to make a public commitment to form an exclusive relationship and create a family with a partner with whom the person shares an intimate and sustaining emotional bond. This right is deeply rooted in the nation's history and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty because it protects an individual's ability to make deeply personal choices about love and family free from government interference.
Virginia's Marriage Laws impose a condition on this exercise. These laws limit the fundamental right to marry to only those Virginia citizens willing to choose a member of the opposite gender for a spouse. These laws interject profound government interference into one of the most personal choices a person makes…
Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships. Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices—choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference…
Ultimately, this is consistent with our nation's traditions of freedom. [According to United States v. Virginia:] "The history of our Constitution is the story of the extension of constitutional rights and protections to people once ignored or excluded." Our nation's uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Constitution: We the people. "We the People" have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined.
Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed. We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect….
Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms, a rending that would take his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others, he wrote these words: "It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just. . . the same thing—fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have. "
The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court's power, they and all others shall have.
Wright Allen, whose ruling is stayed pending appeal, also addressed arguments from Virginia officials that gay marriage broke with tradition. "Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so," she wrote. "However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia's ban on interracial marriage."
The Virginia case now joins the Oklahoma and Utah cases in the race to the Supreme Court, which may have the final word on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
Mother Jones DC Bureau Chief David Corn spoke with MSNBC's Chris Matthews about John Boehner's decision to move forward with a clean debt ceiling extension and the "inevitable clash between two wings within the Republican party." Watch here:
David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.
This map of the location of US Navy ships during the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch, is the latest purported smoking gun in what Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called "the worst tragedy since 9/11." The implication: The White House was in a position to intervene while the attack was ongoing but, for some reason, chose not to. "Map Shows Dozens of U.S. Military Ships Stationed In North Africa Waters During Benghazi Attack," wrote Katie Pavlich at Town Hall, a headline that was picked up by the esteemed Fox Nation.
But that's not quite right. Most of the "dozens" of ships were nowhere near Benghazi, and the list includes many vessels that wouldn't do much good in a rescue situation. For instance, the Lewis and Clark is a cargo vessel, and it was somewhere off the coast of West Africa. The map features eight minesweepers and a tug boat in Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, a very long way from Benghazi. The Laramie, an oiler, was off the coast of Yemen. Per the Navy, the nearest aircraft carrier was 128 hours away. Only a handful of ships were even in the same body of water as Benghazi, and given the small window in which the attack unfolded, mobilizing a destroyer from the Iranian coastline probably wasn't going to fix the problem.
Still, with Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, mulling a presidential bid, expect even more Benghazi "smoking guns" in the years ahead.
On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on her colleagues in the Senate to reduce interest rates for Americans crushed by student loan debt, and pay for it by closing tax loopholes for the rich.
Last summer, after a rancorous debate, Congress passed a law setting interest rates for new student loans for undergrads at 3.86 percent for the coming year. (Rates were set to double to 6.8 percent.) However, the legislation did not cut interest rates for those who took out the same type of loan before July 1 of last year. Americans who financed their education earlier than that are paying off debt with interest rates of 7, 8, or 9 percent. On Wednesday, Warren joined Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a speech on the Senate floor to highlight her plan to introduce legislation that would allow Americans with high-interest student loan debt to refinance their loans at the new rates being offered to first-time borrowers this year.
"Refinancing those old loans would lower interest rates to 3.86 percent for undergraduate loans," Warren said. "This is real money back in the pockets of people who invested in their education. Real money that will help young people find a little more financial stability as they work hard to build their futures. Real money that says that America invests in those who work to get an education."
Warren proposed that the rate cut be paid for by closing tax loopholes for the rich. "Right now, this country essentially taxes students—by charging high interest rates that bring money into the government—while at the same time we give away far more money through a tax code riddled with loopholes and let the wealthiest individuals and corporations avoid paying a fair share," Senator Warren said. "We can close those loopholes and put the money directly into refinancing student loans."
Last year, during the debate over what to do with skyrocketing student loan rates, Warren introduced her own bill that would have cut need-based undergrad loan interest rates to the same low 0.75 percent interest rate that banks pay to the Federal Reserve for short-term loans. The bill was never brought up for a vote. Warren voted against the compromise plan that Obama signed into law in August, which allows interest rates on undergrad loans to fluctuate all the way up to 8.25 percent.
Michigan GOP Rep. Justin Amash, a Ron Paul acolyte and leading NSA critic whom I profiled for the magazine last fall, was supposed to be on the ropes. Amash was one of a handful of tea party congressmen to earn primary challenges from members of the party who believed they had gone too far in their obstructionism with little to show for it. In November, a group of former Amash donors publicly backed his challenger, Brian Ellis, arguing that the congressman "and others have effectively nullified the Republican majority in the U.S. House" by driving a wedge through the party.
But things are looking up for Amash, and by extension the political movement he refers to as "the Rebel Alliance." A new poll released this week from Basswood Research showed Amash with a 60–12 lead over Ellis. Most voters still hadn't heard of Ellis, but those who had overwhelmingly didn't like him. That might be a product of the $200,000 that the conservative Club for Growth, whose ads helped Amash win the seat in the first place, has already poured into television spots hammering Ellis.
Now, per the New York Times, Amash is about to get some more help: Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-backed political operation, is launching a $230,000 ad buy to bolster the incumbent's credentials as an opponent of the Affordable Care Act. It's still early—the primary isn't until August. But Amash and his allies have thus far sent a firm message to his Republican critics: their money might better be spent elsewhere.
Snow covers a Task Force Thunder, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), CH-47 Chinook Helicopter at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Feb. 6, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Green)
During George Zimmerman's trial for the alleged murder of Trayvon Martin, the media relied mostly on one man for pro-Zimmerman commentary: his friend and fellow neighborhood watch volunteer, Frank Taaffe. It has since come to light that Taaffe is an ex-con and fervent white supremacist who believes that whites and blacks have no business mingling and claims that"the only time a black life is validated is when a white person kills them." He also hosts a white-power podcast. On one episode last fall he argued that all women who married black men would probably meet the same fate as Nicole Brown Simpson. ("I always say, you lie down with dogs you're going to get fleas—especially if they're black dogs.")
Nevertheless, the cable news networks have continued to give Taaffe airtime. Most recently, CNN's sister network, HLN, has been tapping him for commentary on the case of Michael Dunn, who, like Zimmerman, stands accused of murdering a black teenager in Florida. In the last few days, Taaffe has appeared on HLNat least six times, and he says on his Facebook page that he's slated to make nightly appearances on two HLN shows, Nancy Grace and Dr. Crew on Call, for the remainder of the week.
Taaffe's task is defending Dunn, who shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside of a Jacksonville gas station after arguing with the teen and his friends over loud music. Dunn claims he saw Davis holding what looked like a shotgun and that he fired at the boys in self-defense, but witnesses maintain that Davis was unarmed. On air, Taaffe has argued that the killing was justified, even if Davis wasn't pointing a firearm, because young black men are prone to violence. Here's a snippet from his exchange with an African American guest on Dr. Drew on Call last week:
You talk about the white man being the devil—well, here's a fact…According to the FBI, and the US Department of Justice, African Americans make up 12 percent of the population, yet they commit the most disproportionate amount of violent crimes. Over 60 percent of the murders were convicted by African Americans. And 32 percent were under the age of 18. So, when Michael Dunn pulled into that gas station, you know, you wonder why we have these premonitions…
On Tuesday morning, Attorney General Eric Holder made a plea to states to overturn laws barring people convicted of felonies from voting. "It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values. These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed," he said at a criminal-justice symposium in Washington, DC. "And the current scope of these policies is not only too significant to ignore—it is also too unjust to tolerate."
As the New York Timespointed out, Holder's comments were largely symbolic, since he doesn't have the authority to personally enact changes. Regardless, Holder called attention to a huge, largely overlooked demographic. So what's the lay of the land when it comes to felony disenfranchisement laws? Here are some facts to help clarify the issue.
So how common are laws restricting felon voting? As we've reportedbefore, nearly every state restricts the voting rights of people convicted of felonies. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, have no restrictions on voting; in these, felons can vote while still in prison. On the other hand, 11 states restrict voting even after a person has completed their prison sentence and finished probation or parole. Twenty states require completion of parole and probation before voting is allowed, and 14 states allow felons to vote after they leave prison.
Among states that bar voting even after a person has completed their sentence, the laws still differ greatly. In Alabama, only certain felony offenses result in disenfranchisement. In Florida, Nebraska, and Virginia, felons are able to vote after waiting periods between two and five years. And in Nevada, almost all felony offenders are completely barred from the polls (first-time, nonviolent felony convictions are exempt).
Eight states also completely bar people with misdemeanor convictions from voting while incarcerated.
How did this practice start? In his speech, Holder rightly pointed outthat laws barring felons from voting are a relic of post-Civil War America. "After Reconstruction, many southern states enacted disenfranchisement schemes to specifically target African Americans and diminish the electoral strength of newly-freed populations," he said. The Sentencing Project, a criminal-justice advocacy and research non-profit, confirms this, though notes that the revocation of voting rights dates back even further, to colonial America, when English colonists introduced the common law practice of "civil death," a set of criminal penalties that included the stripping of voting rights.Later, as slavery was outlawed after the Civil War, the qualification of needing to own property to vote was gradually repealed across all states, notes the Sentencing Project. This meant that felony disenfranchisement policies "served as an alternate means for wealthy elites to constrict the political power of the lower classes."
How many people do these laws really affect? Nearly 6 million Americans are barred from voting due to felony disenfranchisement laws. Moreover, the bulk of disenfranchised felons—75 percent—are no longer in prison. Approximately 2.6 million of those remain disenfranchised despite having completed all parts of their sentence (prison time, parole, probation) because they live in states that bar felons from the polls for life or require a post-sentence waiting period.
The number of felons without voting rights has ballooned significantly along with the growing prison population. The United States has the world's highest rate of incarceration:Department of Justice statistics show that the number of people under correctional supervision has increased from fewer than 2 million in 1980 to more than 7 million by 2011. As a result, the number of disenfranchised felons has grown from 1.17 million in 1976 to 5.85 million by 2010, and at a rate of 500 percent since 1980.
Who gets the brunt of these laws? Felony disenfranchisement disproportionately affects people of color. Black men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than the rest of the population. According to the Urban Institute, 11.4 percent of African American men aged 20 to 34 were in prison in 2008, compared with just 1.8 percent of white men. One out of every 13 black Americans of voting age can't vote due to criminal disenfranchisement laws, a number much higher than forany other demographic. This ratio is more stark in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, where more than 1 in 5 black adults is barred from the polls. Overall, 2.2 million black Americans have lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.
"The impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable," Holder said on Tuesday. "These individuals and many others—of all races, backgrounds, and walks of life—are routinely denied the chance to participate in the most fundamental and important act of self-governance."