Volume 3.38 (Sept 15-21)

Criminal Justice

Government self-interest corrupted a crime-fighting tool into an evil (John Yoder and Brad Cates, WaPo)– “In America, it is often said that it is better that nine guilty people go free than one innocent person be wrongly convicted. But our forfeiture laws turn our traditional concept of guilt upside down. Civil forfeiture laws presume someone’s personal property to be tainted, placing the burden of proving it “innocent” on the owner. What of the Fourth Amendment requirement that a warrant to seize or search requires the showing of probable cause of a specific violation?”

How Gangs Took Over Prisons (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic)– “Skarbek’s primary claim is that the underlying order in California prisons comes from precisely what most of us would assume is the source ofdisorder: the major gangs, which are responsible for the vast majority of the trade in drugs and other contraband, including cellphones, behind bars. “Prison gangs end up providing governance in a brutal but effective way,” he says. “They impose responsibility on everyone, and in some ways the prisons run more smoothly because of them.” The gangs have business out on the streets, too, but their principal activity and authority resides in prisons, where other gangs are the main powers keeping them in check.”

Foreign Affairs

Israel’s NSA Scandal (James Bamford, NYT)– “Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.”

Russia is our most dangerous neighbour (Martin Wolf, Financial Times)

The Scottish vote was a class war and the rich won (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)

Scotland’s Independence Vote Shows a Global Crisis of the Elites (Neil Irwin, The Upshot)– “t is a crisis of the elites. Scotland’s push for independence is driven by a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time.”


How to rearrange your environment to lose weight (Julia Belluz, Vox)

To Get More Out of Science, Show the Rejected Research (Brendan Nyhan, The Upshot)– “The problem is that the research conducted using federal funds is driven — and distorted — by the academic publishing model. The intense competition for space in top journals creates strong pressures for novel, statistically significant effects. As a result, studies that do not turn out as planned or find no evidence of effects claimed in previous research often go unpublished, even though their findings can be important and informative.”

The Big Picture

Naomi Klein: ‘We Can’t Dodge this Fight’ Between Capitalism and Climate Change (Micah Uetricht, In These Times)


Should we ban states and cities from offering big tax breaks for jobs? (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)


References, Please (Tim Parks, NYRB)– “There is, in short, an absolutely false, energy-consuming, nit-picking attachment to an outdated procedure that now has much more to do with the sad psychology of academe than with the need to guarantee that the research is serious. By all means, on those occasions where a book exists only in paper and where no details about it are available online, then let us use the traditional footnote. Otherwise, why not wipe the slate clean, start again, and find the simplest possible protocol for ensuring that a reader can check a quotation. Doing so we would probably free up three or four days a year in every academic’s life.”


Punishment or Child Abuse? (Michael Eric Dyson, NYT)– “The lash of the plantation overseer fell heavily on children to whip them into fear of white authority. Terror in the field often gave way to parents beating black children in the shack, or at times in the presence of the slave owner in forced cooperation to break a rebellious child’s spirit. Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense. Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them.”


When is a Mormon prophet speaking as a prophet? (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

My Mormon family may not be forever (Mette Ivie Harrison, Flunking Sainthood)– “No family is ever going to have a homogenous level of church activity. If you congratulate yourself that your children are all active members, be aware that you may be encouraging them not to tell you their actual feelings regarding the church. They may feel pressed into agreement on every issue. Even adult children may worry that they don’t belong and that the love of their parents and other family members is conditional on certain behaviors. ”

What’s wrong with BYU-Idaho’s Mormon dress code (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)


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