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Whattaya gonna do?

So state troopers lead a “Death Race” of expensive sports cars on the Garden State Parkway, and tough guy Gov. Christie’s response? Boys will be boys!

The man who indicted John Edwards

Go read all about George Holding, the ambitious Bush appointee to U.S. Attorney who indicted John Edwards. He’s running for a North Carolina congressional seat, and it seems he’s skirting the edges of campaign finance law with a SuperPAC composed mostly of family members, and dedicated to only one candidate – him.

Oh

Was Newt still running? Didn’t realize…

Jamie Galbraith

Yves Smith:

Galbraith has marshaled a great deal of cross country data over time, and shows how changes in equality happened in a very large number of economies in parallel. He explains, persuasively, that the most plausible culprit is changes in the financial regime.

Given the considerable evidence that inequality is costly even to the wealthy, Galbraith’s analysis provides another reason for reining in the major dealer banks.

Fox News mole raided

You can pretty much sum up my reaction with the last paragraph:

UPDATE: Fox News “mole” Joe Muto reportedly woke up Wednesday to an early morning raid from the New York District Attorney’s office.


At around 8:30 a.m., Muto tweeted: “I just got search warranted at 6:30am by a very polite crew from the DA’s office. Took my iPhone, laptop, some old notebooks.”


The former O’Reilly Factor producer turned Gawker double agent says that, according to the warrant, Fox News is “apparently accusing me of grand larceny, amongst other things.”


The DA’s office declined to comment on the open investigation to Forbes and other outlets.


Gawker confirmed earlier this month that Fox News attorneys had notified them that they were considering legal action against both the website and Muto, so the search likely didn’t come as a complete surprise to Muto.


Meanwhile, the ex-Fox News employee offered one more parting shot at his former employer and its parent company, News Corp.: “I should have done something more innocuous, like hacked a dead girl’s phone and interfered with a police investigation.”

Android, psycho CEO, or just a liar?

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

On the one hand, it’s tempting to conclude Mittens is an android, capable of only the crudest simulations of spontaneity and empathy. If you prick him, will he not bleed some sort of industrial coolant? More here.

Bye bye, Philadelphia School District

I can’t comment on this yet. I don’t know enough of what’s going on, and I’m too disgusted:

Philadelphia public schools are on the operating table, reeling from a knockout blow of heavy state budget cuts. It was too much to bear after decades of underfunding and mismanagement at the hands of shortsighted Philadelphians and mean-spirited politicians in Harrisburg.


So the District is today announcing that it’s going to call it quits. Its organs will be harvested, in search of a relatively vital host.


“Philadelphia public schools is not the School District,” Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen told a handful of reporters at yesterday’s press conference laying out the five-year plan proposed to the School Reform Commission. “There’s a redefinition, and we’ll get to that later.”


He got to it: talk about “modernization,” “right-sizing,” “entrepreneurialism” and “competition.”


Forty schools would close next year, and six additional schools would be closed every year thereafter until 2017. Closing just eight schools this year prompted an uproar.


Anyhow, the remaining schools would get chopped up into “achievement networks” where public or private groups compete to manage about 25 schools, and the central office would be chopped down to a skeleton crew of about 200. District HQ has already eliminated about half of the 1,100-plus positions that existed in 2010.


This is all aimed at closing a $218 million deficit for the coming year, part of a $1.1 billion cumulative deficit by 2017. Charter schools will teach an estimated 40 percent of students by 2017.


And this rosy picture is premised upon City Council agreeing to fork over $91 million in additional property tax revenue. If not, things are even worse.

Also:

Details still are being worked out, but officials said the idea is to move decision-making away from a central office and closer to teachers and principals. It’s a concept used in other urban districts that will be tailored for Philadelphia.


“What we do know through lots of history and evidence and practice is that the current structure doesn’t work,” School Reform Commission chairman Pedro Ramos said. “It’s not fiscally sustainable, and it doesn’t produce high-quality schools.”


But teachers union president Jerry Jordan blasted the plan, calling it “cynical, right-wing and market-driven.”


“This restructuring plan has nothing to do with raising student achievement,” Jordan said in a statement. “The district provided a business model, not a research-based plan for turning around or supporting schools.”

They’re going to make the janitors union bid against low-wage contractors for their jobs. Talk about stupid. Yeah, by all means, let’s put some more families under the economic tidal wave!

Sad

At some point, we need to face up to the moral question of what football is doing to the players:

Former football star Ray Easterling has become the latest sportsman to kill himself after suffering from depression believed to have been linked to head injuries during his career.

The 62-year-old, who police say shot himself at his home in Richmond, Virginia, played for the Atlanta Falcons during the 1970s and later sued the NFL over its handling of concussions.

He began showing signs of brain damage 20 years ago with bouts of depression and insomnia.

Then, the former safety developed symptoms of dementia as he lost the ability to focus, organise his thoughts and relate to people.

His wife, Mary Ann Easterling, said she would continue the lawsuit in which she claims the NFL tried to cover up the danger of concussion.

In the last year, the suicides of several sportsmen have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is caused by repeated blows to the head and often leads to bouts of depression and anger.

Last year former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson, who died in February 2011, was found to have the condition, which can only be diagnosed during a post-mortem examination.

The brains of 50 sports stars have been donated to Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which made the diagnosis.

Hitchens and the New Atheism

Steve Volk with a thoughtful look at Hitchens being deified, and atheists holding meetings.

The return of debtors prison

I suppose this is what we all have to look forward to:

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”

Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff’s deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.

Under the law, debtors aren’t arrested for nonpayment, but rather for failing to respond to court hearings, pay legal fines, or otherwise showing “contempt of court” in connection with a creditor lawsuit. That loophole has lawmakers in the Illinois House of Representatives concerned enough to pass a bill in March that would make it illegal to send residents of the state to jail if they can’t pay a debt. The measure awaits action in the senate.

“Creditors have been manipulating the court system to extract money from the unemployed, veterans, even seniors who rely solely on their benefits to get by each month,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said last month in a statement voicing support for the legislation. “Too many people have been thrown in jail simply because they’re too poor to pay their debts. We cannot allow these illegal abuses to continue.”

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