2200 lives lost: ‘We don’t have a justice system’


Tiny white coffins. A young woman killed by a man she was trying to help. A mother still struggling to work out why her daughter was taken more than 30 years ago.

Broken hearts that will never heal.

This is the real pandemic in Australia – one that has claimed more than 2200 women and children.

They are deaths that consume award-winning journalist Sherele Moody who has spent much of her own personal time detailing and documenting them in her crusade against senseless violence.

On Tuesday, women and men from across Queensland and beyond gathered for the launch of All That Remains, the Red Heart Campaign’s memorial website to women and children lost to violence.

For Moody, the memorial is deeply personal.

“We all have a moment in our lives that either breaks us – or makes us. My moment started on May 22, 1990 when my mother’s husband abducted, raped and murdered nine-year-old Stacey-Ann Tracy in Roma,” she tells those gathered.

“His name was Barry Hadlow. He was a convicted child killer who was on parole for the murder of five-year-old Sandra Bacon in Townsville when he chose to end Stacey’s life.

“His actions were life altering for many people – for Stacey’s family, for her friends and for myself and my family.

“And that impact continues to be felt today. Stacey’s death lead me down the path of journalism and her death is a key part of why I advocate to end violence.”

The RED HEART Campaign founder and award-winning journalist Sherele Moody with Sonia Anderson, launch the world-first online memorial. Picture: Liam Kidston

The memorial website features tiny red hearts for the children lost and larger hearts for women taken too soon.

Behind each of the hearts are details of the tragic stories, like that of toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke who was beaten to death by his babysitter Matthew James Irelend.

Ireland drunkenly beat Hemi over a two-hour period while babysitting him at the family home in Moranbah in March 2015.

The little boy’s body was covered in 78 bruises from being kicked and punched repeatedly.

Hemi Goodwin-Burke.

Hemi Goodwin-Burke. Goodwin-Burke Family

Hemi’s grandmother Lyn told this week’s memorial launch of how Hemi’s mother raced into a plane in her pyjamas to get to her son in hospital before he died.

“I drove 800 kilometres to get there, tried very hard not to kill anyone or myself.”

She said it was still hard to relay the impact of what happened.

“Do I tell you about my son having to turn his son’s life support off, how he held him and felt his last breath taken?”

“Do I tell you about everyone else crying, the doctors, the nurses, even everyone else in the other rooms at the hospital?

“Do I tell you about the police coming and taking his body because that was now evidence?

“He was tagged and bagged and taken.”

Matthew Ireland with toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke, whom he beat to death.

Matthew Ireland with toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke, whom he beat to death.

Ireland had his charge downgraded from murder to manslaughter with a sentence of just four years for the death of the 18-month-old.

Judith Anderson, the mother of Annette Mason, is still clearly haunted by the death of her daughter in Toowoomba in 1989.

Annette, just 15, was found concealed under a doona in a sunroom of  of a house she shared with two other women at 131 Anzac Ave.

No one has ever been charged with her murder.

Judith told of how she had moved to the Gold Coast for work so she could get bond money together to get a home for her family.

She returned on weekends and the plan was for Annette to move to the Gold Coast as well before she was killed in a crime that shocked the Darling Downs.

Judith struggled for the right words to say as she told of the family’s quest for inquests to discover who was responsible for her daughter’s death.

But her message was powerful as the emotion in her voice: the violence must stop and those responsible must be brought to justice.

Bianca Faith Girven 22yrs. Pic : supplied

Bianca Faith Girven 22yrs. Pic : supplied SUPPLIED

‘We really don’t have a justice system, we have a legal system’

Sonia Anderson, whose daughter Bianca Faith Girven was strangled to death by a man she was trying to help, told the launch Australia didn’t have a justice system but a legal system.

Bianca was murdered by her boyfriend, Rhys Austin, in 2010 at the foot of Brisbane’s Mount Gravatt Lookout.

The two 22-year-olds had been the best friends since high school.

On that horror night, under a full moon, Austin told Bianca to jump in the back of a van because he wanted to tell her a secret.

“He said, ‘You are going to die’,” Sonia told The Australian. “He wrapped himself around her so she couldn’t struggle and he said, ‘You’re not going to survive this’.”

He never went to trial for Bianca’s murder after being found of unsound mind. He claimed he was driven by voices in his head.

Bianca Girven’s mother Sonia Anderson with a picture of Bianca

Bianca Girven’s mother Sonia Anderson with a picture of Bianca

Adding to the pain was the fact that his psychiatrist wrote a book detailing the crime.

Sonia sat through a book launch and admits losing it.

“For the first time in my life I publicly lost my cool.

“I just had to hide because I had been betrayed and humiliated.”

Even as the mother of the victim, she was not given access to the psychiatric reports on Bianca’s killer.

More than 10 years later, Sonia is still going through court cases resulting from her daughter’s murder.

“There is no closure after murder,” she says.

Since then, she’s been consumed by campaigning for change.

“I actually thought I was going to make a difference and it would stop,” she says of her initial naivety.

But she also knows that Bianca’s story, and her relentless campaigning, help to convince the Queensland Government to introduce the nation’s first ‘non-lethal strangulation” laws that recognise “choking, strangling and suffocating in a domestic setting” as a serious criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.

She says Bianca, who even as a young woman was passionate about helping homeless women and victims of violence, would have been among those who gathered for the memorial launch this week had she been alive today.

‘This is a wake-up call to all of us’

Queensland Great and veteran television journalist Kay McGrath, who hosted the launch, paid tribute to the incredible work of Moody in creating the memorial.

McGrath, who co-chairs the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council, said Australia had to show the same resolve and urgency in fighting violence against women and children as it had with tackling COVID-19.

She said the The Red Heart Campaign’s memorial was a “really graphic and horrifying picture of the extent of violence against women and children.”

“This is a wake-up call to all of us when you see the powerful image of the lives lost and you hear the stories behind these hearts.”

“Here we have got another pandemic that has been raging in Australia and around the world for countless years – that is the murder of women and children.

“So why is it as a society we can’t harness the energy, the outrage, the courage and the strength to call out this violence in a similar way that we are tackling a health pandemic.”

“It is really time that we understood the severity and impact of these deaths on individuals on families and on communities.”

“It starts around the kitchen table. It starts with role modelling in the family homes and it goes out into the community, into the schools, into the workplaces, into government, into the corporations.”

“If each and every one of us begin to own the issue, we can and we will end the violence against women and children.”

 

IN HER OWN WORDS, SHERELE MOODY TELLS OF MEMORIAL

Sherele Moody writes below about her work building the memorial

Over the past five years I have – as of today – researched and documented the unlawful killings of 2281 women and children.

In August last year, I asked my friends and supporters to take a huge leap of faith by investing in a crowd-funding campaign.

My dream was to build the world’s first fully interactive online memorial to women and children lost to murder, manslaughter and other forms of violence.

That crowd-funding campaign raised a little over $16,000. I set aside some of the money for the artworks on this site.
The images you see on the Memorial were created by artist, lawyer, anti-violence advocate and incredible warrior Amani Haydar. Amani’s artwork and her advocacy is inspired by her mum Salwah, who was murdered by her dad.

The rest of the money raised was used to fund the website development undertaken by Sunshine Coast-based Digital Nomads HQ.

Myself and the Digital Nomads crew met in September last year. During that meeting I gave them a very concise brief.

Over the following months they created a program from scratch that would import all of the stories of violent deaths that I had written.

They created the incredible user interface – that is the wall of interactive hearts – and we are still working together to improve the memorial’s functionality.

The memorial was designed to show the impact of violence on Australia – behind each interactive red heart sits the story of a woman or child killed in Australia or Australian victims killed overseas.

You can hover over a heart to see some brief info about the victim for whom the heart belongs. Then tap the heart to read the victim’s story, access media reports and to see their photos. Large hearts are for women and small hearts are for children.

Where possible the names of victims and their photos are used. But for the victims who cannot be identified, we have two brilliant images created by Amani.

This ongoing journalism-based story-driven project aims to document and commemorate every Australian woman and child killed unlawfully from white settlement to current day.

The memorial has a strong statistical element. I designed the project to deliver data breakdowns in what I believe is Australia’s first real femicide and child death census.

One of the many entries detailing violence deaths in the Red Hearts memorial.

One of the many entries detailing violence deaths in the Red Hearts memorial.

This is what the data extracted from the memorial tells us:

NSW is the most dangerous state to be a woman or child in Australia. It has the highest number of women and children killed.

It is closely followed by Victoria and Queensland. The ACT is the safest place in the country for women and children.

53% of the women and children documented on the memorial were killed by family members, partners or former partners.

16% of victims were killed by strangers, 12% were killed by people known to them – for example colleagues, neighbours or clients.

Women and children are more likely to be bashed to death, with blunt force trauma involved in 25% of killings. Asphyxiation is the next most common cause of death, accounting for 15% of killings  around 7% of victims were raped and 18% of deaths involved sharp objects.

It will come as no surprise to hear that the data shows gendered violence is the major problem for women and kids, with 78% of these deaths perpetrated by men. Just 7.4% of the women and children on the memorial were killed by women.

Partners, strangers, fathers and former partners were the main killers. Around 15% of the cases on the memorial are unsolved and 11% of the deaths were murder-suicides.

In creating the memorial, I used the journalism skills I have honed over the 25 or so years I have spent working in the media.

I drew on every ounce of knowledge available to ensure all the stories are sub judice proof and defamation proof.

Ensuring these stories meet basic media law standards is vital as one wrong sentence or paragraph could result in a jury being dismissed, I could go to jail for contempt or someone could sue me for defamation.

Each death is researched and documented using a wide variety of sources including first-hand accounts from family members, coroners’ reports, supreme and appeal court judgments, media archives and police sources.

Most importantly, I’ve tried to ensure the stories don’t cause extra grief for families but that they provide an appropriate level of accuracy and openness to ensure those who visit the memorial are given an honest view of the epidemic of violence against women and kids.

While the technology, the statistics and the journalism behind the memorial are important, these are not the soul of the project. The soul is in the stories of the people whose lives were erased.

The people on this site were once living breathing humans whose existence had importance for families and friends.

I know every face, every name and every story on the memorial. I know many of these victims’ families and I know the incredible trauma everyone endured.

Their lives were stolen in the most heinous of ways, leading to relentless distress, anger and turmoil.

This is most evident in the stories of nine-year-old Stacey-Ann Tracy and five-year-old Sandra Dorothy Bacon.

The memorial is a tribute to their young lives, their unfulfilled futures and the bravery of their families and friends who were forced to navigate the distress and darkness that only those touched by murder can understand.

This project is also a pledge to every Australian woman and child lost to violence – our nation cannot change your stories, but collectively, we can change the stories of those who follow in your footsteps.

Because after violence, hope is all that remains.

 

Mark Furler has been a journalist on the Sunshine Coast for more than 30 years. He wrote his first feature article at university on the cycle of domestic violence. Sherele Moody works as part of his team overseeing regional news sites.





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NBA players meet Pope Francis to discuss social justice issues



Pope Francis meets a delegation of five NBA players, including Jonathan Isaac and Sterling Brown and officials from the National Basketball Players Association at the Vatican November 23, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

November 23, 2020

(Reuters) – Five NBA players met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to discuss social justice issues following a season where combating racial inequality was a dominant theme.

The players who met the Pope were Anthony Tolliver, Kyle Korver, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac and Marco Belinelli as well as National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Michele Roberts.

“Today’s meeting was an incredible experience,” Tolliver, who plays power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, was quoted as saying in an NBPA news release https://nbpa.com/news/nbpa-delegation-meets-with-pope-francis.

“With the Pope’s support and blessing, we are excited to head into this next season reinvigorated to keep pushing for change and bringing our communities together.”

Video of the meeting showed the players presenting the Pope with gifts including an Orlando Magic jersey.

Roberts said the meeting validated the power of the players’ voices.

“That one of the most influential leaders in the world sought to have a conversation with them demonstrates the influence of their platforms,” said Roberts.

“I remain inspired by our players’ continued commitment to serve and support our community.”

The league and its players ramped up their calls for system-wide reforms last season after the death in May of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in an incident that was captured on video.

The COVID-19 interrupted season resumed inside a bio-secure bubble in Florida with players wearing social justice messages on their jerseys and “Black Lives Matter” printed on the basketball courts.

The new NBA regular season is scheduled to kick off on Dec. 22.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; editing by Ken Ferris)





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Like John Button, Darryl Beamish and Andrew Mallard, Scott Austic’s acquittal is another WA miscarriage of justice


The miscarriage of justice suffered by Scott Austic will go down in history as yet another botched murder investigation by WA Police that saw an innocent man spend years in jail for a crime he did not commit.

It will be listed alongside cases such as John Button, Darryl Beamish and the late Andrew Mallard — all of whom were found years later to have been wrongfully convicted of murder.

The cases all featured serious failures by police, who focused on the person they believed responsible, built a case against them, and failed to properly investigate other suspects.

John Button spent more than five years in jail after being wrongly convicted of killing his 17-year-old girlfriend by running her down with a car — a crime committed by notorious serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke.(ABC News)

At Scott Austic’s retrial, his barrister David Edwardson QC accused detectives of taking “a simplistic approach” and having “tunnel vision”.

“There was [a] mindset at the beginning that they had their man and it was that mindset … that laid the foundation for the conduct that ultimately condemned him,” he said.

Mr Austic was the lover of 35-year-old Stacey Thorne, who was 22 weeks pregnant with his child when she was brutally murdered at her Boddington home in 2007.

Defence alleged police corruption

Mr Edwardson claimed crucial evidence, including the alleged murder weapon, was planted by what he called “a small but corrupt” group of officers who were prepared to “cross the line”.

The allegations were categorically denied by the officers in question, and in his closing address to the jury state prosecutor Justin Whalley SC described them as “fantasy land”.

While the allegations were never proven by Mr Austic’s defence team, they didn’t have to be.

A kitchen table covered in a range of items including a cigarette packet, which is highlighted by a red circle.
A cigarette packet photographed at the crime scene was a key piece of evidence against Scott Austic that his defence team suggested had been planted.(Supplied)

It is a fundamental principle of the justice system that an accused person does not have to prove anything.

Instead, the onus is on the prosecution to prove its case.

But those allegations were enough to raise reasonable doubt among the 12 West Australians who served on the jury and found Scott Austic not guilty.

While Mr Austic and his family can now say justice has finally been done for him, the same cannot be said for Stacey Thorne, her unborn child, and her family members.

Many of them sat quietly in the public gallery throughout the three-week trial — but unlike Scott Austic, they have been left still seeking justice.

A tight head and shoulders shot of a smiling Stacey Thorne.
Stacey Thorne’s family are still left without answers following the acquittal of Mr Austic for her murder.(AAP: WA Police)



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US Justice Department charges six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with worldwide cyberattacks




The United States has accused six officers from the Main Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces (the GU, formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) of involvement in a series of large-scale cyberattacks. According to the indictment, these Russian nationals are all officers in Unit 74455, which has been linked repeatedly to hacker attacks in the past, including by Washington. The US Justice Department released the names of the Russian military intelligence officers in question, identifying them as Yuri Andrienko, Sergey Detistov, Pavel Frolov, Anatoly Kovalev, Artem Ochichenko, and Pyotr Paliskin. All six have been charged formally already. The Justice Department noted that one of the accused — Anatoly Kovalev — is also a defendant in the case on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.



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Elizabeth Turner found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice, for helping son Markis Turner flee the country


After allegations of secret codes, a fake suicide, and plots to cash in life insurance, a jury has found Elizabeth Anne Turner guilty of helping her fugitive son flee the country to avoid major drug charges.

Markis Scott Turner was arrested in Mackay in 2011, accused of heading-up a major cocaine importation syndicate.

He disappeared in 2015, about a month before his trial was expected to begin.

His mother Elizabeth Turner was bound to a $450,000 bail surety.

At a 2016 Supreme Court hearing into whether she had fulfilled her obligations as a surety, Mrs Turner said she believed her son had taken his own life when he disappeared, as his mental health had been declining.

Authorities detained her son in the Philippines in 2017, where he had sailed to on a yacht.

It took authorities about two years to detain Markis Turner, one of Australia’s most wanted fugitives.(Supplied)

Prosecutors alleged the suicide story was concocted so Mr Turner could escape potential jail time, so that Mrs Turner could keep the surety money, and a $1 million life insurance policy could be cashed in.

Mrs Turner, who owns the Mt Coolon Hotel in Central Queensland, has been on trial in the District Court in Mackay since last Monday.

A jury of eight women and four men found her guilty of all charges; attempting to pervert the course of justice and three counts of giving false evidence.

Prosecution vs. defence

Prosecutors alleged Mrs Turner aided her son’s escape, in part, by buying him a yacht in 2013.

The jury heard the $75,000 boat had been purchased using her bank account and was then registered in the name of Rural Trade Services, a company of which she was then the director.

One document shown to the court was an application to cancel the yacht’s registration, signed by Elizabeth Turner months before her son absconded.

Handwriting expert John Heath testified he believed the signature was forged.

Elizabeth Turner walks next to a car.
Elizabeth Turner opted to take the witness box, saying she genuinely believed her son had taken his life.(ABC News: Melissa Maddison)

Mrs Turner’s defence barrister Saul Holt QC said Mr Turner had used his mother’s accounts and funds in a deceitful way.

“Your adult child being charged with extraordinarily serious criminal offences.

Mr Holt referenced Mrs Turner’s decision to give her son access to some of her bank accounts.

“There is absolutely no doubt that some things that Liz Turner did, in fact, helped Markis Turner,” he said.

But Mr Holt said she did not know the purchases were part of an escape plan.

Prosecutors alleged Mrs Turner would communicate in secret codes and made concerted efforts to communicate on encrypted software like WhatsApp.

Markis Turner’s wife Magdalena Turner gave evidence at the trial and testified that she knew her husband was alive, but she said she did not tell his mother until his arrest.

Prosecutors suggested to the jury this was a lie, and that correspondence between Mrs Turner and her daughter-in-law would reference a man named Piotr and how he was doing.

Piotr was Magdalena’s brother, but prosecutors said Piotr was code for Markis, allowing Magdalena Turner to communicate what she knew.

Six months to report son missing

Prosecutor Pen Power said it took Mrs Turner six months to report her son missing.

“If your son disappears weeks before his trial is due to commence, and the yacht disappears or is sold for $40,000 to a mysterious man … you’d tell the authorities about that, unless you don’t want him to be found,” Mr Power said.

Sign of Mackay court house
The District Court trial in Mackay has spanned across almost two weeks.(ABC Tropical North: Ollie Wykeham)

“In this case, it’s natural to feel sympathy for Mrs Turner.

“But we can’t have a system, where whatever loyalty one has to one’s children, that you can help them escape.”

A decision is yet to be made about when sentencing will proceed and where Mrs Turner will be remanded.



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Letters: Criminal justice, women’s rights, and anti-racism reading



Love as justice

Patricia Leigh Brown’s cover story “New life for lifers” in the Aug. 17 & 24 Monitor Weekly includes a photo of a parolee named Clinton Thomas. Every time I see it I practically ache, for the obvious pain in his face. 

In my volunteer work in prisons, I quickly came to realize why Christian Science churches generally have “God is Love” at the front of the sanctuary. Since then I have always written “God is Love” on the board before we start our meetings, and it is always our starting place: There is nothing at all you can ever do to either win God’s love or lose God’s love; it’s always there for you. And not only that, but even if you think you don’t know how to love God, that love for God is native to you; it’s part of who you are.  

Thank you so much for this wonderful article; no sense of fear-based or vengeance-based justice should ever cause us to deprive anyone of the right to awaken to these facts.

Robin Smith
Denver

A wake-up call

Thanks for the wonderful Aug. 3 Monitor Weekly issue about suffrage! As a senior white woman, I have always considered myself to be accepting of all people, not prejudiced, but in my pleasant bubble, I haven’t realized how long and how persistent a problem equality has been for women, people of color, and immigrants in the United States. 

I fault my education for pointing out all the statements of “all created equal with equal rights” but not exposing all the glaring inequalities, especially in some parts of the U.S. The suffrage issue was a wake-up call. I always read the entire magazine, and I appreciate the paper Weekly for being something vital to read that is not on a screen.

Anne Hughes
Agoura Hills, California

Seeing the world

I am a longtime fan and reader of the Monitor and the perspective it presents on global affairs and events. The Monitor, in its multiple formats – including the paper magazine, the website, and the Politics and Weekender newsletters – has been my primary news source for many years. I am very grateful for the dedication, time, intellect, courage, honesty, and passion of the writers who share their stories with the world. 

And the Monitor includes beautiful images from around the world that communicate the feel of the story and transport the reader to the people, homes, villages, streets, and schools where the stories emerged. I will always remember the photo of the table of Swiss families sharing a meal with an Eritrean refugee in the Jan. 27 Monitor Weekly. These stories and images are not available elsewhere, nor is the care, compassion, kindness, and exactness of the writing.

Each section is special, and I appreciate the introduction of writers such as Susan X Jane and Candace McDuffie. Mary Beth McCauley’s Ten Commandments series was inspiring. Thanks to Andrea King Collier for the article “Anti-racism reading list: 10 books to get started” in the July 6 & 13 Monitor Weekly. Of course, the experienced voice of Ken Makin and his analysis and framing of the current struggle to overcome injustice, discrimination, and violence to Black Americans are highly valued and moving. I look forward to hearing more from these talented writers.

Marie Hegarty
Philadelphia



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Criminal justice – Prison visits in the pandemic | Britain


LIFE WAS hardly a doddle for Joanne before covid-19. Her partner has been in prison for two years, so she was bringing up their two little boys—aged two and five—on her own, while trying to hold down a job. But at least they could visit him for one precious hour a week, behind the Victorian gates of HMP Manchester. As the virus began to spread, those gates swung shut, as at all 117 prisons in England and Wales. For half a year, the children did not visit their father at all. They finally squeezed in two visits, but then infections picked up and the ban was reimposed. Her children are growing apart from her partner. “They’re not as close as they used to be,” she says.

As covid-19 leapt around the globe, prisons faced an especially acute version of the familiar trade-off between protection from the virus and broader wellbeing. In Britain, prison-reform charities warned of “loss of life on an unprecedented scale”. Prisoners were reckoned to be especially vulnerable to the virus because they were older and in worse health than the general population. Ministers were spooked by estimates that 2,500-3,500 prisoners could die in English and Welsh jails (out of a total population of about 80,000).

That crisis was averted. Between March and the end of September, covid-19 claimed the lives of 23 inmates, but widespread outbreaks were avoided. That can largely be chalked up to a draconian but effective policy of inmate isolation. Visits were banned on March 24th and activities—like jobs in prison workshops or classes—mostly scrapped. Prisoners stayed in their cells, often for 23 hours a day.

Mark Turnbull of Out There, a charity that supports inmates’ families, says that in the initial stages of the pandemic, his phone was kept busy by relatives worried about how fast the virus might spread in prisons. But the longer covid-19 restrictions went on, the clearer the downside of the trade-off became. Visits resumed over the summer, but have now been banned again at roughly a third of prisons, in areas with the most severe restrictions.

Hardest of all, says Joanne, is not knowing how long it will be before her next visit. “At the start of covid, we said ‘There’s no way on Earth they can stop us seeing each other for more than six weeks’. Then it was seven months.” Her partner calls her on the telephone every day but, confined to his cell, he has “nothing to talk about…There’s no hope for them.” The restrictions will also have a broader social cost. Since strong family ties predict a lower likelihood of re-offending, weakening those bonds could make it harder to get inmates back on the straight and narrow. A government-commissioned report by Michael Farmer, a Tory peer, argued in 2017 that positive interactions between inmates and their families were important in preventing prisoners’ children going on to offend themselves.

In one way, though, the pandemic is bringing prisoners closer to their families. Diane Curry of POPS, another family-support charity, says relatives had been clamouring to have video-calls with prisoners for years. In a matter of months, covid-19 made that happen. Before the pandemic, the prison service had begun a tentative roll-out; now almost every jail has the kit.

Technical glitches abound and the service cannot replace the intimacy of a meeting, but it does offer prisoners a glimpse of normality. “Knowing the nitty-gritty of each other’s lives keeps a relationship going across prison walls,” says Anna Kotova of Birmingham University, who is studying these interactions. “Really small things like ‘I’ve painted that wall’ or ‘Look at the tree you planted, see how it’s growing,’ will help sustain relationships for people serving long sentences.” Inmates may be confined to their cells but—virtually, at least—they can roam farther than ever.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Locked up, locked down”

Reuse this contentThe Trust Project



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Justice dep’t forms core group to investigate state corruption


PHILSTAR

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has formed a “core group” that will lead investigations of various agencies for corruption, in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s earlier order, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Justice  Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra met with senior officials of the agency on Tuesday, including Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Officer-in-Charge Eric B. Distor to discuss how to proceed with the probe.

The officials discussed “methods of securing information regarding incidences of corruption in government, and possible approaches for the conduct of the investigations,” DoJ said.

The probe will take into account the gravity of the allegations and their  impact on the delivery of government services, according to the statement.

The core group will consist of  members of the task force that probed corruption allegations at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

The group will be headed by the DoJ and its members are the NBI, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Office of the Special Assistant to the President, National Prosecution Service and Anti-Money laundering Council, DoJ said.

“The task force shall also invite the Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman to work together with the task force, with due consideration for their independence as constitutional bodies,”  it added.

Mr. Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Justice department to probe all agencies for corruption, effective until 2022.

The DoJ was also authorized to create separate task forces for the probe.

Mr. Guevarra, whom the President ordered to probe the Agriculture and Public Works departments, earlier said the job was the toughest he had received from the President.

In a televised speech on Monday, Mr. Duterte read a memo for Mr. Guevarra asking him to investigate “the entire government” until his six-year term ends in less than two years.

Mr. Duterte flagged former officials from PhilHealth, adding that their resignation does not absolve them of the charges.

The President, whom critics have faulted for failing to disclose his net worth despite his vow of transparency, earlier ordered the DoJ to form a task force that investigated corruption at the state health insurer.

Lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption at the Public Works department get as much as a 15% cut for every infrastructure project, PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica told the ABS-CBN News Channel this week.

District contractors and engineers also get kickbacks, he added.

Mr. Belgica said only half of the fund goes to the infrastructure project, resulting in substandard work.

He said the agency was investigating the entire Public Works department and was building up its case against some officials.

Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar on Tuesday said he had formed a task force that will probe the allegations.

The investigation will cover all engineers regardless of their ranks, he told GMA News, adding that they won’t favor anybody. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas










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Justice Barrett Joins the Court


Justice Amy Coney Barrett, as she will now be known, was confirmed by the Senate 52-48 on Monday evening, with a swearing-in shortly thereafter. A few congratulations are in order, as well as some thoughts about the future of the Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans held firm against the Democratic demagoguery that portrayed Judge Barrett as a sworn enemy of everyone with pre-existing health conditions. Judge Barrett helped by acing her hearings.

She…



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Monday Sunrise Briefing: Trump’s third conservative US justice


The Supreme Court nomination process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett continued throughout the weekend, setting up a final confirmation vote by the full Senate on Monday. Eight days before the U.S. election, Republicans see an opportunity to install a third Trump justice on the court, locking in a conservative majority for years to come. Democrats cast the confirmation as a power grab and a threat to health care. Judge Barrett’s ascent opens up a potential new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage, and the Affordable Care Act. A case against the Obama-era health law scheduled to be heard Nov. 10. “She’s a conservative woman who embraces her faith, she’s unabashedly pro-life but she’s not going to apply ‘the law of Amy’ to all of us,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Saturday on Fox.

2. Pandemic politics. A week before the election, President Trump embraced a portrait of America emerging from a pandemic, even as the latest evidence painted a different picture. New COVID-19 cases are hitting record levels nationwide, and several aides to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive this weekend. Mr. Pence’s office says he will continue campaigning, “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”  Joe Biden and President Trump have expressed significantly different views about the pandemic. Mr. Trump says the U.S. economy needs to fully reopen and he has tried to counter Mr. Biden’s criticism that president is not doing enough to contain the health crisis. “We want normal life to resume,” Mr. Trump said Sunday. “We just want normal life.” Mr. Biden claimed Sunday that the White House has waved “the white flag of defeat, and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away.”

3. A moral victory. On Saturday, the United Nations announced that 50 countries have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons, triggering its official entry into force in 90 days. “This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the U.N., which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone,” said Beatrice Fihn, who leads the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition that helped spearhead the treaty. “The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal,” she said. The five nuclear powers – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel — boycotted the U.N. vote on the treaty. Separately, Russia and the US have been trying to break an impasse in long-running talks aimed at extending the New START treaty between them.

About 500 people took to the streets of London Saturday to protest police brutality in Nigeria. Police shootings of unarmed demonstrators have sparked international condemnation and unleashed violent unrest in Lagos.

Look Ahead

Monday, Oct. 26

Lunar insights. NASA plans to announce a new discovery about our Moon today at 12 p.m. E.T.  The discovery could relate to supporting NASA’s efforts to put humans on Mars. As an interim step, under the Artemis program, the agency plans to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024. 

A conservative court. The full U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, in one of the fastest confirmation processes in U.S. history.

Tuesday, Oct. 27

The best of baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers play Game 6 of the World Series at 8:08 p.m. E.T. The Dodgers lead 3-2 in the best of seven series. 

Wednesday, Oct. 28

Democracy watch. Tanzanians go to the polls to elect a president and members of the National Assembly.

Friday, Oct. 30

Interstate justice. Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager charged with fatally shooting two people (and injuring a third) during civil unrest after the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has a hearing on his extradition to Wisconsin to face charges.  

Saturday, Oct. 31

Democracy watch. Ivory Coast voters go to the polls to choose their next president. Incumbent Alassane Ouattara hopes to take a controversial third term. In Georgia, parliamentary elections are scheduled, with former President Mikhail Saakashvili nominated by opposition groups to be their pick for prime minister if they prevail in the vote.

Generosity Watch

We sometimes define ourselves – and our communities – by our political affiliations, especially in election years. But generosity doesn’t have a political party, especially in Citrus County, Florida. 

In 2019, after her daughter died, Sandra Ingram of Homosassa, Florida, was suddenly raising two grandchildren in a tiny, rundown travel trailer. It wasn’t working for her, and it wasn’t fair to the kids. Grandma Ingram gets up early to deliver newspapers, a job she’s held for 30 years, so she turned to a reporter at the Citrus County Chronicle for help. And the help has come pouring in. 

In the past month, more than 500 people have donated nearly $73,000. The family has moved into a motel while they wait for a brand new three-bedroom, two-bathroom mobile home that has mostly been paid for by a local businessman. 

I am so grateful, and the kids are so excited … and I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to be able to get them things that they need,” Ms. Ingram told  Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy this week.

In an editorial after the initial outpouring, the Chronicle wrote that social responsibilities cut across political lines:

“The response is a reminder that folks in our community instinctively understand we do have a responsibility to help each other out during difficult times. It doesn’t take a government mandate to find all solutions, sometimes it just takes caring neighbors.

It’s what makes this place a community.”

Hidden gem 

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Richard Schultz/50 Eggs Films

Malcolm Hawkins works out on a rowing machine as teammates urge him on in Oakland, California, in a photo from the film “A Most Beautiful Thing.”

Pulling together: Lessons from first all-Black high school rowing team

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about how Palestinian refugees in Gaza reconnect with land through rooftop gardens. 

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday’s subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. White working class is shrinking. It still may decide 2020 election.
  2. Fleeing the Taliban in the night, a family’s faith in peace wavers
  3. Poll watching: Democratic safeguard or intimidation?
  4. Is Bolivia’s vote a comeback for Latin America’s left? Not so fast.
  5. Did prehistoric climate change help make us human?

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