What the hell is wrong with these people?

Although I did not pay much attention to them, I had of course heard of the Duggar family, stars of a reality show called 19 Kids and Counting, referring to the number of children that the parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had. You could not avoid reading about them. From the little bits of news that crossed my path, they seemed like a bunch of insufferable Christians who looked down on everyone who did not follow in their religious, home-schooled, sex-puritan ways. But they were feted by right wing Christian types, including politicians, as upholding true Christian values.
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The consequences of our irrational war on drugs

One of the features of the so-called war on drugs was that it targeted and punished crack cocaine users (who were mostly poor black people in the inner cities) much more severely than powdered cocaine users (who were usually more affluent white suburbanites). These laws also harshly punished people who just used marijuana for recreational purposes almost like they were hardcore drug users and pushers, and we ended up punishing large numbers of people who were no danger to society, not to mention subjecting entire communities to invasive random searches.
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The abusive practices of the chicken cartel

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver exposes how the chicken industry is dominated by four major companies (Pilgrim’s, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms) that use their monopoly power to create hellish conditions, not just for chickens of which we are all aware, but also for the chicken farmers who work for them on contracts that are incredibly exploitative. And Congress protects these abusive companies.
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Ernie Chambers finally gets Nebraska to vote to end the death penalty

To my surprise, the legislature of the state of Nebraska just voted to abolish the death penalty. While sentiment against the death penalty has been slowly rising with time, it still has not reached a majority and Nebraska is a pretty conservative state. Republican governor Pete Ricketts, a strong supporter of the death penalty, is expected to veto the legislation but the margins by which it passed suggest that the veto will be over-ridden. If so, it would be the first conservative state to abolish the death penalty since 1973. 31 other states still have the death penalty.
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Review: 1971

Last evening I watched the documentary 1971 about the burglary in that year of an FBI office in the Philadelphia suburb of Media, PA by eight people who took away the files, separated out and sent to various people those files that exposed wrongdoing by the FBI, such as infiltrating and spying on peaceful groups and carrying out what were called ‘dirty tricks’ to try and destroy the lives of people that the government thought of as its enemies. The burglars were never caught and only revealed themselves a couple of years ago. (I wrote about this earlier.)
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Even the CIA now admits that Dick Cheney lied about Iraq

One of the interesting things about the current presidential race is that the whole issue of the criminal act of taking the US to war against a country that had not attacked it has come front and center. Pretty much all Republicans are being asked about the Iraq war, with the question being framed as to whether, given what we know now (presumably that Iraq did not have any nuclear weapons), they would have made the decision to go to war.
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Twin Peaks may not be an allusion to the TV show

I learned a couple of interesting things about the tragedy that occurred in Texas when rival biker gangs started fighting that resulted in nine people being killed, 18 others injured, and over 150 arrests. One is that the media are shying away from calling it a ‘riot’ or the behavior of ‘thugs’, the language that comes easily to them if the perpetrators are black. Jenny Kutner says that much milder terms are being used in this case, such as ‘melee, fracas, brawl, fistfight, brouhaha, trouble, and chaos’ (CNN) and ‘shootout, fight, chaos, confrontation, problems’ (New York Times). Brouhaha? For something that resulted in such carnage?
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Review: Secrets, Politics and Torture vs. Zero Dark Thirty

Last night I watched the Frontline program Secrets, Politics and Torture: The secret history of the fight over the CIA’s controversial interrogation methods, widely criticized as torture that I alerted readers to. The show, broadcast last night on PBS, looked at how the US government has indulged in the most brutal acts of torture and lied about it. For those who missed it, these programs are usually later available online for at least a brief time and may be shown again on PBS. [Update: Thanks to reader lanir, the link to see the 54-minutes documentary is here.]
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