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A Catholic Showdown Worth Watching

The deep philosophical differences between the two main conservative factions of the Catholic Church, pitting adherents of John Courtney Murray against the followers of Alasdair MacIntyre is the root cause of the mixed messages being put out by the Church on public policy matters. It is the fight worth watching.
posted by reenum on Feb 11, 2014 - 108 comments

American History: a very qualified "Yaaay"

After a year of production, John Green's Crash Course US History has come to an end, traveling from the conflicts between the native Americans and the Spanish to the Affordable Care Act.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 11, 2014 - 40 comments

Solidarity

In possibly the largest Southern progressive protest since Selma in 1965, 75,000 to 100,000 people marched on Raleigh, North Carolina this Sunday in protest against the recently elected conservative government’s radical agenda. Once a comparatively moderate Southern state, the government North Carolina elected in 2010 has begun a systematic campaign [previously] to remove 50 years of progressive legislation from the state. Weekly Moral Mondays protests [previously], beginning in April 2013, have been ongoing, but this march represents the biggest gathering so far in protest of the NC government. [more inside]
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 10, 2014 - 130 comments

In every courthouse....

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce tonight at the annual HRC gala that the United States federal government will treat lawful same-sex marriages sweeping equal protection under the law in every program it administers, from courthouse proceedings to prison visits to the compensation of surviving spouses of public safety officers. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 8, 2014 - 74 comments

Flying Solo

Robina Asti was born in 1921. She used to take the subway to the airport when she started flying in 1936.She fought in World War II, and at the age of 92 is now fighting the government she served to obtain Social Security benefits following the death of her husband, Norwood. The Social Security Administration states that she is ineligible because her legal 2004 marriage was not legal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jan 29, 2014 - 21 comments

"Nothing. You're screwed."

During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 27, 2014 - 39 comments

Civic Crowdfunding

Rodrigo Davis of the MIT Center for Civic Media is currently researching crowdfunding for civic and community purposes. Some of the issues he covers includes the ethics of crowdfunding (including Kickstarter's seduction guide debacle and Gawker's attempt to crowdfund a video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack), a case study of Kansas City's crowdfunding campaign for their bikeshare program, a timeline of online crowdfunding since 2000, and how the Statue of Liberty was made possible via crowdfunding.
posted by divabat on Jan 19, 2014 - 8 comments

I Have a Chinese Banknote That Everyone in China Is Scared Of

In China, there are certain "bad notes" that frighten people and are refused as legal tender. Why?
posted by reenum on Jan 16, 2014 - 77 comments

Inside the Company That Built Healthcare.gov

That lack of expertise explains why in building healthcare.gov, the government turned to industry contractors; in particular, to CGI Federal, a subsidiary of CGI Group, a Canadian company. To those uninitiated in the dark art of government contracting, it seems scandalous that CGI, a company most Americans had never heard of, a company that is not located in Silicon Valley (where President Obama has plenty of Internet superstar friends who could have formed a dazzling brain trust to implement his signature legislation) but rather in Montreal, could be chosen as the lead contractor for the administration’s most important initiative. While right-wing news outlets have focused on the possible relationship between Toni Townes-Whitley, senior vice president for civilian-agency programs at CGI Federal, and Michelle Obama, both of whom were 1985 Princeton graduates, CGI’s selection is probably more an example of a dysfunctional system than it is a scandal. “A lot of the companies in Silicon Valley don’t do business with the government at that level [the level required for federal contracting],” explains Soloway. “It is very burdensome, and the rules make it very unattractive.” Indeed, government contractors have to meet a whole host of requirements contained in a foot-thick book, including cost accounting and excessive auditing, to prove that they are not profiting too much off the American taxpayer. Hence, there tends to be a relatively small, specialized group of companies that compete for this work, even on such critical matters as healthcare.gov. - Accounting for Obamacare
posted by beisny on Dec 27, 2013 - 106 comments

"... it feels like it was all for nothing. Nothing pays off."

7 New Yorkers About to Lose Their Unemployment Benefits Tell Their Stories
posted by The Whelk on Dec 18, 2013 - 139 comments

We're not so different

Who's influencing reproductive policy in Canada? Unfortunately, the difference between the religious right in Canada and our neighbours to the south is not so much doctrinal as it is window dressing. The Tea Party’s "late term abortion" red herring with its attendant gruesome imagery very much parallels the "gender-selection" trope of the Conservative base in Canada. It’s a matter of media and public relations, knowing your audience and playing to its sympathies.
posted by Conspire on Dec 10, 2013 - 22 comments

he intends Assassination Market to destroy “all governments, everywhere”

Meet The 'Assassination Market' Creator Who's Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins
Last month I received an encrypted email from someone calling himself by the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro, who pointed me towards his recent creation: The website Assassination Market, a crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations. According to Assassination Market’s rules, if someone on its hit list is killed–and yes, Sanjuro hopes that many targets will be–any hitman who can prove he or she was responsible receives the collected funds.
posted by andoatnp on Nov 18, 2013 - 143 comments

FDA Cheese Ban: Mite vs. Right

Despite the cries of "Save the Mimolette!", the FDA has decided to ban the sale of the French cheese Mimolette over mites used in the rind. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Nov 6, 2013 - 50 comments

Captain Justice

Stop calling the DA "the Government!" it hurts her feelings or something. The defense responds..'Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions....defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a "lawyer," or a "defense attorney." Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the "Defender of the Innocent." This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent. Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation "Guardian of the Realm."'
posted by caddis on Nov 3, 2013 - 24 comments

A = Ayn, B = Britain, C = Cameron, D = Doh!

Ayn Rand: More Relevant Now than Ever
The speaker was the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen. As the head of an investment bank based in socialist Denmark, Christensen is particularly enraged by high taxation, social welfare and banking regulation. "The world is on the wrong track," he told us. "A malady that has long beset Europe is currently spreading to the US". Apparently we are experiencing a "socialist revival" to which "Ayn Rand is the only answer".

posted by urbanwhaleshark on Nov 1, 2013 - 123 comments

"Dwarven society is more egalitarian than… human feudal societies were"

Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis
What one does in Dwarf Fortress is create a colony of an existing dwarven fortress – you’re always sent out as a team from a much larger existing stronghold elsewhere, and your foreign relations with other dwarves are limited to that particular fortress, on the whole. Even though your settlement is independent and self-governing, and the relations with the mother fortress mostly those of trade, the purpose of the game in all its open-endedness can be nothing other than to create oneself in the image of the previous fortress. In other words, fundamentally in Dwarf Fortress you reproduce the existing structure of dwarven society on a merely quantitatively expanded scale.
[more inside]
posted by Eideteker on Oct 25, 2013 - 29 comments

It Could Be Worse

I signed up for an account on Healthcare.gov last week. It wasn’t the smoothest process, but I was able to create an account. Some parts are slow; sometimes you have to reload a page to make progress. But it’s starting to work. It will be fixed, because it has to be. And now that the launch and inevitable crash has finally happened, in a way the worst is over. Real-world traffic is providing programmers all the debugging data that they could ever want, and “all bugs are shallow with the president watching,” as Paul Ford writes in Bloomberg Businessweek, paraphrasing the open-source-software advocate Eric Raymond’s assertion that “with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” -- Rusty Foster in The New Yorker
posted by jim in austin on Oct 22, 2013 - 585 comments

How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers

Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams. (SL Atlantic)
posted by beisny on Oct 14, 2013 - 79 comments

"Evacuate the children, put up the blackout curtains, kill the cat."

Advice to UK animal owners just before World War Two broke out: "If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency." It concluded: "If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 12, 2013 - 24 comments

Despise what you do. Despise your whole crew. You're so out of touch.

Fuck You Congress [more inside]
posted by humannaire on Oct 10, 2013 - 80 comments

Administrators Ate My Tuition

Washington Monthly examines the rapid increase in the numbers of middle managers at universities and the correlation to the rampant increase in tuition costs at American universities.
posted by reenum on Oct 8, 2013 - 184 comments

"I have never been custodian of my legacy."

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 6, 2013 - 89 comments

Grundeinkommen - ein Kulturimpuls

Switzerland to vote on $2,800 monthly 'basic income' for adults (reddit, mr; previously-er) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 6, 2013 - 64 comments

The Perils of Presidentialism, in Action

Political theorist Juan Linz died Tuesday at the age of 86. His work focused on comparative government, including studies on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Linz was also a prominent critic of the presidential system of government used in the United States and in much of Latin America. In his essay, "The Perils of Presidentialism" (later expanded into book form as The Failure of Presidential Democracy), Linz argued that presidential systems are inherently unstable, as they invariably lead to standoffs between the president and the legislature, each with competing claims to legitimacy. Thus, as in many Latin American countries, presidential systems frequently collapse, and often are replaced with dictatorships. The one exception to that pattern has been the United States--at least until recently. In an interview in January of this year, Linz argued that the US was succumbing to the same dysfunction as other presidential regimes. In Slate, Matthew Yglesias commemorates Linz by warning that the American system of government may be doomed to an endless cycle of crisis and constitutional disintegration, as evidenced by the government shutdown. Dylan Matthews concurs, arguing that the shutdown is "James Madison's fault."
posted by Cash4Lead on Oct 2, 2013 - 72 comments

"October is a fine and dangerous season in America"

Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 1, 2013 - 2207 comments

︻╦╤─

Bearing Arms: [New York Times] Articles in this series examine the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 29, 2013 - 242 comments

When To Start Caring About the Powerball Jackpot

Walter Hickey at Business Insider looks at when you should buy a Powerball ticket and whether to take the lump sum or annuity if you win.
posted by reenum on Sep 28, 2013 - 50 comments

Shutdown showdown

If the Federal Government shuts down on October 1st, the DC city government is supposed to shut down as well. In a bid to keep the city functioning, Mayor Vince Gray has declared all city employees "essential." Non-voting Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton and the DC GOP are also petitioning Congress to keep the city open. The District's budget comes from local taxes, but needs Congressional approval to spend it's own money.
posted by troika on Sep 27, 2013 - 378 comments

Game behind gamed: your narrative programming for the day

How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio[1] actually makes a case against austerity[2] and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 25, 2013 - 28 comments

What, Exactly, Constitutes a Constitution?

Constitute offers the constitutions of the world's nations for comparison. Search for constitutions by country or by topic, then pin or download results using a clean, easy-to-use interface. Brought to you by The Comparative Constitutions Project.
posted by Rykey on Sep 24, 2013 - 16 comments

Why art should be publicly funded

Why Art? Australian ABC Arts critic, theatre blogger and author, Alison Croggon, looks at public funding of the arts - and argues for more of it.


"In a survey that looked at participation in visual arts and crafts, music, dance, theatre and literature – that is, the key art forms supported by the Australia Council – 38 per cent of Australians describe themselves as art lovers, for whom the arts are an integral part of their lives. Only 17 per cent report estrangement, believing that the arts attract pretentious elites, and a tiny 7 per cent feel no connection at all. Overall, 93 per cent of Australians reported engaging with the arts in the previous year. In 2009, more people attended art galleries (11 million) than went to the football (10 million)."
posted by crossoverman on Sep 21, 2013 - 40 comments

The Tuition Is Too Damn High

Over the past couple of weeks, Wonkblog has examined the fast rising cost of college tuition in the United States and its effects on society. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Sep 8, 2013 - 48 comments

"I always had low self-esteem. I never thought I'd get anywhere."

How Joe Redner Invented The Lap Dance, Built A Strip-Club Empire, Became A Model Citizen, Fought For Your Rights, And Beat Cancer
posted by reenum on Sep 3, 2013 - 23 comments

Fried Twinkies With a Side of Obamacare

A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare. The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers. “Do I burst his bubble?” wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the operation. She doesn't. If he signs up, it's a win-win, whether he knows he's been ensnared by Obamacare or not.
posted by reenum on Aug 26, 2013 - 63 comments

TP-AJAX

In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 19, 2013 - 33 comments

How Georgetown Law gets Uncle Sam to pay its students’ bills

In the realm of higher ed, law schools are at the forefront of finding creative ways to maximize revenue. Georgetown Law has pioneered an academic Ponzi scheme where they are able to essentially use the Federal loan money given to new students to pay for public interest law graduates' loans.
posted by reenum on Aug 12, 2013 - 48 comments

Perhaps they could call it WOPR

To reduce the risk of future Edward Snowden style leaks, the NSA wants to reduce the number of people in the loop. Director Keith Alexander told Reuters that the NSA plans to eliminate fully 90 percent of its system administrators and replace them with machines.
posted by Naberius on Aug 9, 2013 - 104 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

Snowden walks free in Russia

Russia grants Snowden asylum ; US government goes apeshit. [more inside]
posted by allkindsoftime on Aug 1, 2013 - 295 comments

What’s worse there, the sex or the pretending to be dead?

The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure [PDF, there is a Word file direct from the DoD] is 167 pages of stories of elaborate frauds, scams, and abuses of power in the US government. Interestingly, the sarcasm-filled document is also published by the US government, to help illustrate how government workers get in trouble. Freakonomics radio has a amusing and interesting discussion with the Encyclopedia's editor and founding editor [link goes to transcript]. [more inside]
posted by blahblahblah on Jul 18, 2013 - 12 comments

"align the nation’s political landscape with its natural resource base"

our highly speculative proposal for the reconfiguration of the political geography of the United States to better conform to the spatial distribution of various water resources, such as rivers, aquifers, and man-made infrastructures.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 15, 2013 - 14 comments

“I’m dismantling the Death Star to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”

The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 1, 2013 - 14 comments

The fiscal choices at UK Spending Review 2013 and beyond

"The government’s plans for deficit reduction have increasingly stark implications for public spending as their deadline draws nearer, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis. While overall expenditure is set to remain relatively flat in 2015-16 (the period covered by the latest Spending Review) the pace of reduction in total government spending is due to increase significantly in the two subsequent year"
posted by marienbad on Jun 20, 2013 - 3 comments

With your love and support she can get through anything that comes

Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration is a bilingual initiative to help children cope with an incarcerated parent. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 14, 2013 - 3 comments

A bad day for privacy.

Washington Post: NSA and FBI are mining data from nine major tech companies in formerly secret program. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple are being monitored, with Dropbox "coming soon". The program, called PRISM, is reportedly the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief.
posted by brentajones on Jun 6, 2013 - 415 comments

The FBI, the NSA and your phone records in 2013.

Glenn Greenwald has produced a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over to the NSA "telephony metadata" of all local and international calls either originating or terminating in the United States on an "ongoing, daily basis," and further barring Verizon from disclosing to the public the fulfillment of this request or the existence of the court order itself. The ACLU refers to the practice as "beyond Orwellian." Direct link to the court order available here. [more inside]
posted by phaedon on Jun 6, 2013 - 488 comments

The Lords Hath Spoken

18 arguments made against gay marriage in the House of Lords, England, during debate of the Governments proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
posted by marienbad on Jun 5, 2013 - 105 comments

"Let Wisconsin be the test case. Let us lead the way."

By a bipartisan vote of 68-26, the Wisconsin state Assembly has approved AB-110, a measure requiring beneficiaries of SNAP -- known in Wisconsin as FoodShare, or more colloquially as food stamps -- to spend at least 2/3 of their monthly benefits on items from "a list of state-defined healthy foods" [PDF]. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on May 8, 2013 - 312 comments

Some big Internet companies, privacy, and the government

EFF's Who Has Your Back? for 2013. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published the 2013 edition of their analysis of how well your private data is protected from the government by about a dozen big internet companies. Also available as pdf. Focused on the US, but may apply elsewhere, too.
posted by at home in my head on May 1, 2013 - 13 comments

Want transparency? First step: travel to DC

Even before it was enacted, the United States House and Senate voted unanimously to repeal a provision within the STOCK Act, a bill aimed at curbing insider trading among senior government officials. The repealed provision required that financial disclosure forms were accessible online. [more inside]
posted by antonymous on Apr 13, 2013 - 18 comments

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