Crowdfunding an Atheist Shoe bus to crisscross America

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David from Atheist shoes (previously) sez, "We've just been successful in raising money for the first Atheist Shoes Missionary Mobile Shoe Shop, which will criss-cross the USA, selling handmade shoes and spreading our European message of godless comfort and joy. The fund-raising is ongoing, as we aim to get a whole fleet of buses on the road. The first US tour begins in September 2016, and will take in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas." Read the rest

UPDATED Race, income and outcomes: how rich does a black criminal have to be to get treated like a white one?

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Lawyer-turned-data-scientist David Colarusso analyzed 2.2 million sentencing records from Virginia to determine the relationship between race, income and treatment in the criminal justice system. Read the rest

When Brad Birkenfeld blew the whistle on UBS, the US government paid him $104M and sent him to jail

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This interview with UBS whistleblower Brad Birkenfeld is as neat a case study in financial corruption as you could ask for: Birkenfeld's disclosures detailed 19,000 US tax evaders, including the bank's super-secretive list of "politically exposed persons," including people who laundered money for terrorists, and the US government threw him in prison (as well as paying him the largest reward in US history), declined to prosecute three quarters of those implicated, and then put him in prison. Read the rest

Someone just snuck warrantless email access into the Senate's secret intelligence bill

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Every year, the Senate passes a secret bill (that is, a bill whose text is a secret during its debate) that re-authorizes intelligence agencies' surveillance powers; this year, someone (possibly chairman Richard Burr, R-NC and/or Tom Cotton, R-AR) has snuck in an amendment that would give the FBI the power to demand warrantless access to Americans' email and browsing history, using National Security Letters, a controversial, widely used secret police order. Read the rest

Scott Walker, saddled with $1.2m debt from failed presidential bid, pawns his own donors

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Wisconsin Governor and balanced-budget hawk Scott Walker's failed bid for the GOP presidential candidacy left him with $1.2 million in debt. Read the rest

GOP officials won't let the FEC stop bosses from forcing employees to give to PACs

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The Federal Election Commission has deadlocked on a complaint about an employer who coerced his salaried employees into donating to a PAC he had started; the three Democratic commissioners voted to take action, the three GOP commissioners voted against, and that means that nothing will happen. Read the rest

After the precariat, the unnecessariat: the humans who are superfluous to corporations

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The heroin epidemic in America has a death-toll comparable to the AIDS epidemic at its peak, but this time, there's no movement coalescing to argue for the lives of the economically sidelined, financially ruined dying thousands -- while the AIDS epidemic affected a real community of mutual support, the heroin epidemic specifically strikes down people whose communities are already gone. Read the rest

Judge handcuffs public defender for speaking out in court

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen -- who is fighting a contested election this year -- put deputy public defender Zohra Bakhtary in handcuffs and made her sit with the criminals in the dock while he sentenced her client, who was unrepresented for the duration of the event. Read the rest

Algorithmic risk-assessment: hiding racism behind "empirical" black boxes

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Courts around America and the world increasingly rely on software based risk-assessment software in determining bail and sentencing; the systems require the accused to answer more than a hundred questions which are fed into a secret model that spits out a single-digit "risk score" that courts use to decide who to lock up, and for how long. Read the rest

Pat Buchanan on the Republican Party's historical opposition to free trade deals

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Arch-conservative Patrick J Buchanan's May column in American Conservative (an organ he founded) traces the history of the Republican Party's position on free trade, arguing that the "party of Lincoln" opposed free trade deals from its first days (Lincoln: "I am in favor of a national bank... and a high protective tariff") through to Reagan's tariffs against Japanese motorcycles. Read the rest

Elderly man kills wife because they couldn't afford her medicine

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William J. Hager of Port St. Lucie, Florida is a 86 year old man who confessed to shooting his 76 year old wife, Carolyn Hager, in her sleep, because the couple could no longer afford her medications, leaving her in pain and wanting to die. Read the rest

NRA endorses Trump

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The NRA's chief spokesmurderer told Republicans, "Now is the time to unite. If your preferred candidate dropped out of the race, it's time to get over it." Read the rest

We Stand on Guard: in 100 years, America seizes Canada for its water

Brian K Vaughan's varied career in comics has had numerous and diverse hits like Saga, the epically weird and sexy space-opera; Y: The Last Man, an end-of-the-world story; now, with We Stand on Guard, Vaughan dramatically ups his body count in a tale of an American resource war that's a lot closer to home than the invasion of Iraq.

Trump campaign cancels interview after overhearing reporter speaking in Spanish

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Donald Trump was all set to be interviewed by TV Azteca's Marcos Stupenengo -- a white, green-eyed Argentine expat -- until they overheard him talking on the phone in Spanish, whereupon the interview was summarily cancelled and Stupenengo was escorted out of the building by Trump's Secret Service detail (who apologized to him). Read the rest

Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

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Cornell economist Robert Frank drew the ire of the nation's business press when he published an article that said something most economists would agree with: hard work and skill aren't enough (or even necessary) to succeed; but luck is. Rather than back down from the angry reception, he's expanded the article into a book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which came out last month. Read the rest

The weird, humiliating nicknames George W Bush gave to everyone

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Remember when "Turd blossom" was the affectionate nickname the President of the United States used to refer to his chief advisor? Read the rest

DNC Host Committee composed of GOP megadonors, Net Neutrality haters, fracking boosters and anti-Obamacare lobbyists

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The Host Committee for this year's Democratic National Convention includes Finance Chair Daniel Hilferty, a health insurance industry lobbyist on the board of America’s Health Insurance Plan (which lead the FUD campaign against Obamacare and is backing the GOP's anti-Obamacare bills), who has donated thousands to PACs supporting GOP candidates like Orin Hatch, Pat Toomey, and Tim Scott. He also donated to the presidential campaigns of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Hillary Clinton. Read the rest

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