Another Missouri town in the news

Missouri has been a lot in the news recently and not in a good way. In addition to the terrible situation in Ferguson, now comes another story from the small town of Parma where for the first time a black person was elected to the office of mayor. Tyrus Byrd, who was born and raised in the town and has also served as city clerk in the past, was elected mayor displacing the incumbent who had held office for 37 years.
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The US’s debtors’ prisons and their abuses

What has emerged about the state of policing in the town of Ferguson, MO in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown has been ugly, revealing a city in which the police and legal system has been treating the residents, especially poor people and people of color, appallingly. Now a class action lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri by people who charge that they have been abused by the city, and the descriptions by the individuals in the suit make for appalling reading.
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Oh great, another Bundyesque standoff in the works?

The great danger with the way that cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has managed to avoid paying grazing fees for his use of federal land by having a militia threaten to shoot at any federal agents that enter his property is that it would encourage others to imitate his example. These people are just itching to force a confrontation with the government while the latter wants to avoid a repeat of the disastrous Ruby Ridge and Waco tragedies.
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The consequences of the Greece v. Galloway prayer case

The US Supreme Court, in a very confused ruling, decided in the case Greece v Galloway that ceremonial opening prayers were acceptable at the beginning of government sessions provided the prayers were not sectarian in their delivery or in the selection of prayer givers. Even some of the so-called liberal members of the court like Elena Kagan, while dissenting from the verdict approving the Greece prayers, said that “such a forum need not become a religion-free zone.”
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This is what American exceptionalism really means

Lee Fang of The Intercept is attending the gaggle of Republican presidential hopefuls currently attending a party gathering in New Hampshire and strutting their stuff, hoping to win the affection of voters in the state the holds the first primary election, even though it will not be held until January 2016. He rounded up some of their reactions to the suggestion put forth by freshman senator Tom Cotton (R-Israel) that it would be easy to get rid of Iran’s nuclear weapons in a bombing campaign that lasted just “several days”.
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A small improvement on the No Fly Lists

The US government’s notorious No Fly List supposedly contains about 47,000 names. The only clue that anyone might have as to whether their name is on that list as when they go to the airport and are refused boarding without any explanation. If you ask whether your name is on the list or the reason it might be on it, you receive no response. That meant you had no way of getting off the list.
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Attention all gay people! Stop pestering Maggie Gallagher with your wedding invitations!

Maggie Gallagher is co-founder of the National Organization of Marriage, an organization devoted to preserving the idea that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, a view that is becoming an increasingly unpopular despite her boast that “we fight gay marriage—and win.” The problem is that gay people seem to keep inviting her and other opponents of same-sex marriage to their weddings and, to her dismay, some of her fellow-travelers seem to be actually going to them.
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Carrying religious pandering a little too far

American politicians pander to the religious. The tried and true method has been to subscribe strongly to belief in a fairly nondescript ‘Judeo-Christian’ god (with the tacit understanding that the ‘Judeo’ part is only meant to mollify Jewish voters and means nothing more) and only mildly to any given church. That way you minimize the risk of alienating true believers in any faction. That worked for the Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan and for any number of presidents. But fresh out of the gate of the announcement of his candidacy, senator Marco Rubio has run into some problems with giving an answer to what might seem like a simple question: What church do you go to?
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