Cleveland: "First Amendment zones" will fence protesters far away from RNC

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The city of Cleveland has revealed its crowd control plan for next month's Republican National Convention, a heavily policed, fenced off 3.3 square-mile "event zone" -- the size of Baghdad's Green Zone -- with fenced-off protest areas far from the convention itself. Read the rest

Homeless in Seattle: five essays

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Peter Wieben's five-part series on homelessness in Seattle doesn't try to capture any kind of overarching truth or objective stock-taking of the problem (Seattle is now notorious for its tent cities). Rather, it consists of a series of sharply observed, dryly recounted personal stories from the people he meets, which range from heartbreaking to infuriating.

The conversion of shelter into an asset class has incentivized local governments to make it more expensive, which is a disaster for nearly everyone, except literal rentiers. Combine that with the recasting of poverty as a moral failing and the disappearance of stable employment opportunities and you're well on the way to turning cities into armed standoffs between the fingernail-clinging haves and the have-nots, whose misery only serves to spur the haves to cling harder.

Wieben beautifully captures the difficulty of confronting homelessness in all our lives: the combination of mistrust and sympathy, empathy and helplessness, frustration and affection.

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part I) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part II) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part III) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part IV) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

You’d Have to be Crazy (Part V) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]

(via Metafilter) Read the rest

Report from the prison-industrial complex's leading trade show

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The Guardian's Rupert Neate attended the 35th annual American Jail Association conference in Austin, and came back with a report on the way that the contractors for America's carceral state talk about their business when they're among themselves. Read the rest

Family of teen raising money to rescue her from pray-the-gay-away "boarding school"

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When Sarah, a 17 year old in Texas, decided to take her girlfriend to the prom, her parents forced her into an "East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens" from which she has repeatedly attempted to escape. Read the rest

Washington Post calls for "blackout" on Trump coverage, appeals to RNC

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Donald Trump's butt-hurt, thin-skinned response to the Washington Post's basic, journalistic skepticism about his Obama-conspires-with-terrorists was to yank the paper's media credentials, adding them to the growing pool of media that is barred from Trump events, which includes "Politico, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Gawker, Foreign Policy, Fusion, Univision, Mother Jones, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Des Moines Register and the Daily Beast" -- as well as any previously accredited news outlet that Trump doesn't feel like admitting on any given day. Read the rest

What the Pentagon learned from Muhammad Ali

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Matt Taibbi takes to Rolling Stone to tell us about the lessons that the US military learned from the powerful bruising it received from Muhummad Ali's refusal to fight in Vietnam: namely, that America should fight its wars with all-volunteer armies whose ranks were disproportionately drawn from the poor and desperate, which dissipated the political pressure that arose from drafting the rich, the powerful and the famous to fight. Read the rest

Samantha Bee interviews Frank Schaeffer, who helped create the religious right

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Frank Schaeffer is the son of radical evangelical cleric Francis Schaeffer, who was instrumental in creating the modern anti-abortion movement and forging the alliance between the Republican party and evangelical Christians. Read the rest

Flintnation: 33 US cities caught cheating on municipal water lead tests

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An independent investigation by The Guardian found 33 cities in 17 US states (including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee) are systematically cheating on the tests to monitor lead levels in the municipal water. 21 of those cities used the same cheating techniques that led to criminal charges in the Flint water scandal. Read the rest

Neo-Nazis make a Chrome extension that alerts you to potential Jewish names

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If you install "Coincidence Detector," a Chrome plugin from Altrightmedia, then every time a Jewish-seeming name appears in your browser, it will be surrounded in (((triple parentheses))) (the extension also uses a crowdsourced list of known Jews to enfold their names in parenthetical hugs where they appear). Read the rest

Ronald Reagan was Donald Trump, until he was president

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Though there are important differences, the parallels between Reagan's political life and Trump's are downright chilling, from their media careers to the way that the press and their own party establishment viewed them. Read the rest

Cable One used customers' credit scores to decide how good their Internet would be

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Cable One CEO Thomas Might boasted to investors that his company pulled down prospective customers' FICO scores and used them to determine the kind of service they'd extend to them, with "hollow value" customers (those with poor credit) getting less service. Read the rest

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

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