How to prevent gerrymandering when drawing districts

One of the biggest scandals in the US is how districts are drawn to benefit the party in power, to give them legislative representation that is much greater than their share of the vote merits. This is because the party that controls the legislature at the time of the drawing every ten years pretty much gets to draw the lines as it wishes as long as the area is contiguous and contains roughly equal numbers of voters. They thus can draw the most outlandishly shaped districts in order to concentrate most of their opponents’ votes into a few districts. Only the grossest abuses, the ones that use race as the main factor, get rejected by the courts, because race gets the highest standard of scrutiny. But if race is not an obvious factor, you can with impunity shepherd the supporters of the opposing party into a few districts.
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Why are politicians are so cheap to buy?

That politicians can be bought by rich people, businesses, and lobbyists is no secret. What is surprising is how cheap they are. Sometimes it seems like all you need to do is give them a vacation or even just an expensive meal with plenty of alcohol to get them to do your bidding. The latest example of this are the charges brought against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara who seem to be not only cheap to buy but extremely brazen about the fact that they are for sale.
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Edward S. Herman (1925-2017)

He died on November 11, 2017 at the age of 92. He was emeritus professor of finance at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the co-author with Noam Chomsky of that excellent book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) that I think should be essential reading for anyone interested in politics and the media and which I have referred to many times on this blog. His Wikipedia page provides his biography.
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Plutocrat Mother Teresa and more Vatican sex abuse

A new book titled Original Sin by Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi exposes even more corruption in the Catholic Church and is bound to cause a stir. Even though the existence of rampant pedophilia and financial misdoings within the church are by now pretty well known, the new details are still shocking. Barbie Latza Nadeau describes some of the details revealed in the book.
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I am enjoying watching Mitch McConnell squirm

Schadenfreude (taking enjoyment in the troubles of others) is not a quality to be admired but I have to admit that I am thoroughly enjoying the predicament that US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell finds himself in. He is a truly awful person, a liar and a hypocrite, who would piously invoke the need to cut deficits in order to oppose spending to help poor people or to create jobs when the president was a Democrat, but then abandon that goal as soon as the president was a Republican, when he was willing to spend money like a drunken sailor to give tax cuts for the rich. He viciously opposed expanding health care to middle and lower income groups. And of course, he prevented president Obama from appointing a qualified middle-of-the-road Supreme Court justice in order to put a right-wing extremist on the bench.
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New Moore accuser steps forward

As is often the case, it takes just one person to publicly come forward with their story about being abused by powerful people to open the floodgates because other people, realizing that they are not alone, feel emboldened to tell their own stories. It seems like a day doesn’t pass without someone new coming forward to say that former president George H. W. Bush is a disgusting lecher who groped her. And another woman Beverly Young Nelson has now come forward to accuse Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore of assaulting her, both sexually and otherwise, when she was just 16, after he had offered her a ride home from her job as a waitress.
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In praise of leftover food

One of the first things that struck me when I came to the US is the massive wastage of food. The most obvious signs of this can be found in the dumpsters behind grocery stores and restaurants where plenty of perfectly good food is thrown away because it is easier to do so than it is to make arrangements to divert it to people who might be able to use it, or because of dates stamped on the product that suggest that it is unsafe to eat when it is not, or because they are afraid of being held liable if someone falls ill. There are poor and homeless people who depend upon finding edible food in dumpsters in order to survive but surely there must be a better way of getting that food to them?
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That was one hell of a week

There was so much, what with the Democratic party wins, the revelations about the attack on Rand Paul by his neighbor, the Roy Moore pedophile allegations, and one famous and powerful person after another accused of the most gross sexual aggressions towards young men and women, that even a horrendous tragedy like the mass murder in a Texas church on Monday quickly got pushed out of the headlines.
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