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The incarceration society

Nope, no evil incentives to arrest people there! Via Smirking Chimp, Jayne Lyn Stahl:

Last week Reader Supported News reported that a giant private prison company, Corrections Corporations of America, has approached virtually every state in the union with the offer that they’d buy up their prisons, and “manage convicted criminals at a cost-savings.”

What better time for such an offer, too, when states like California are releasing many minor offenders for lack of money, but a closer look shows that this kind of offer is not unlike a leveraged buyout of federal and state prisons, but with one obvious caveat: per Reader Supported News, too, the company in this case, Corrections Corporations of America, is demanding a 20 year contract. And, more importantly, prisons must be delivered 90% full. 90% full of what, you might ask, of human “product.” Inmates are the assets at the root of prison privatization.

CCA has already devoted $250 million to this so-called prison management venture which is, in reality, not unlike the reconstruction deals awarded to Halliburton after the occupation in Iraq. The independent contractors earn just as much revenue as the parent company.

1 in 100 Americans are behind bars as the New York Times has reported. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. That number is bound to grow when more companies like Corrections Corporations of America get a whiff of all the money to be made in this industry.

This is nothing new, of course, former vice-president, Dick Cheney’s Vanguard Group, while dealing in mutual funds, has famously found a breeding ground for investor money in private prisons for the past several years.

What’s the difference between what CCA is doing, and what Vanguard and other companies that deal in privatizing prisons have done?
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Milestone

Tomorrow I have my very first colonoscopy.

For those of you who have already crossed this Rubicon, it’s no big deal. And really, I don’t care about the actual procedure, since I’ll be high as a kite.

I just hate the thought of drinking a gallon of some nauseating crap and running to the bathroom all night. It’s just not my idea of a good time.

So if you have any helpful hints or uplifting tales of your own, do share.

Same shit, different day

We have such immoral people running our world:

Just a few months ago, Illinois gave retail giant Sears $275 million to keep its corporate headquarters in the state, after Sears threatened to move elsewhere (including, potentially, Ohio). To show its appreciation for receiving millions in taxpayer funds, as Greg Leroy pointed out at the Clawback blog, Sears announced last week that it will lay off 100 workers at those headquarters:

Despite a huge subsidy package enacted by the state of Illinois in December, Sears Holdings Corp. has already announced layoffs at its headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates. Last week, the retailer announced that 100 HQ staff will be laid off…That December deal, valued at up to $275 million, came after Sears threatened to relocate in headquarters to another state. Its predecessor company, Sears, Roebuck & Co., played the same “job blackmail” game in 1989. The $168 million, 23-year deal it won then was soon to expire when Sears Holdings announced it might again be footloose.

The deal that Illinois signed with Sears actually gives the company the option to lay off another 1,750 workers in the state without penalty, meaning that Illinois paid millions of dollars to potentially see close to 2,000 jobs disappear. “The only surprise is that people are surprised by this,” said state Rep. Jack Franks (D). “The governor knew that this was going to happen, and he pretended he didn’t.”

Wow

Stories like this are so cool:

Scientists in Russia have grown plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago.

The fruit was found in the banks of the Kolmya River in Siberia, a top site for people looking for mammoth bones.

The Institute of Cell Biophysics team raised plants of Silene stenophylla – of the campion family – from the fruit.

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they note this is the oldest plant material by far to have been brought to life.

Prior to this, the record lay with date palm seeds stored for 2,000 years at Masada in Israel.

The leader of the research team, Professor David Gilichinsky, died a few days before his paper was published.

GOP’S smaller government

Obama vs. Obama

Two competing visions of where the country needs to go.

How the other half lives

What does race have to do with success? A young woman who grew up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn takes a look at Norwalk, Connecticut.

My birthday in outer space

I knew John Glenn’s voyage was a great feat, all the more so because it was taking place on my birthday, February 20. More here.

Military budget cuts?

Not quite.

Logic vs. Bill Keller

No contest.

Keller wrote this morning:

Here’s the paradox the documentaries have overlooked so far: The most palpable legacy of the WikiLeaks campaign for transparency is that the U.S. government is more secretive than ever.

As Marcy points out:

All the non-WikiLeaks leaks allegedly took place before Manning’s. All were formally charged before Manning, and all but two men were arrested before Manning.

And yet Bill Keller, in a demonstration of his typical reporting skill though not Newtonian physics, suggests that WikiLeaks caused the crackdown on leaks.

WikiLeaks can’t be the reason the government has cracked down so harshly, because most of the crackdown preceded the key WikiLeaks publications.

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