and that about wraps it up for democracy in the U.S.

Taking Citizen's United to the next level, SCOUTS rules 5-4 that capping the amount of influence one can buy in politics is unconstitutional. So much for the last shreds of the American experiment in democracy. The only question now is whether 99% of us can eke out a living as rats in the wainscotting of the ruling class, or whether we manage to sneak out in the middle of the night and eat them, or if they exterminate us -- with continuing advances in tech, once machines start making machines what need have the 1% of the working classes?

SCOTUS Strikes Down Aggregate Campaign Donor Limits in Citizens United Sequel (Slate Magazine)

The Supreme Court is out this morning with its big ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which court watchers had billed as everything from the "blockbuster money-in-politics case of the current term" to a "sort of sequel to Citizens United," via Politico:

The Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that caps on the total amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns and PACs are unconstitutional.

The court's Republican-appointed justices joined in overturning the so-called aggregate limits on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment. Democratic appointees dissented and said the limits were constitutional as a means to guard against corruption

odd recyclables

Some interesting ways to recycle stuff, from old CDs to coffins.

20 Recyclable Objects That Might Surprise You (Mental Floss)

According to the EPA, Americans send 250 million tons of trash to the landfill each year. That’s 40 percent of the world’s waste. Here are a few things you may have been throwing out that, with a little effort, you can actually recycle....


Harvard has library books bound in human skin

Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh (Roadtrippers)

A few years ago, three separate books were discovered in Harvard University's library that had particularly strange-looking leather covers. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the smooth binding was actually human flesh... in one case, skin harvested from a man who was flayed alive. Yep, definitely the creepiest library ever.


Harvard's creepy books deal with Roman poetry, French philosophy, and a treatise on medieval Spanish law for which the previously mentioned flayed skin was used. The book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… has a very interesting inscription inside, as The Harvard Crimson reports.

The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’

Amnesty International: Israeli forces display "callous disregard for human life"

"In all cases examined by Amnesty International, Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life. In some, there is evidence that they were victims of wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes." Yet in spite of evidence of war crimes, the Obama administration wants to send $3,100,000,000 dollars in military aid to Israel

‘Trigger-happy’ Israeli army and police use reckless force in the West Bank | Amnesty International

Israeli forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

The report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, describes mounting bloodshed and human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as a result of the Israeli forces’ use of unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians since January 2011.

Albuquerque police have killed 23 people since 2010

Maybe the introduction of cop-cams will finally end this...though of course, none of these murderers will every be brought to justice. Cop privilege.

The "Bounty" Police Force? Albuquerque Officers Face Protests, Probe over Spate of Fatal Shootings (Democracy Now!)

Video footage captured by a police helmet camera shows officers killing James Boyd, a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping. Boyd is seen picking up his belongings and turning away when officers deploy a flash grenade and then fire six live rounds at him from yards away. The Albuquerque Police Department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week the FBI confirmed it is investigating the killing of Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year.


cop sues family for calling 911

No, this is not an April Fool's joke.

Many people are shocked to learn that there is no legal obligation for police to show up when you call 911, that the cops have no duty to protect you. I must admit that I've heard so many stories of police misbehavior and dereliction of duty that I find their surprise naive.

But even I was shocked to learn that cops can sue you for calling 911.

Kemal Yazar has an obvious mental health breakdown. His wife Marlene called 911. A paramedic arrives, but backs off when Yazar chucks a Bible at him. Deputy Brady Pullen and another deputy arrive. There is a struggle, and Yazar is shot and killed.

That shooting may or may not have been necessary, but what's clearly unnecessary is Pullen's lawsuit against Yazar's survivors.

Falkenberg: We expect more from our heroes than being sued by them (Houston Chronicle)

One of the deputies who was sent to protect the family decided to serve them instead - with a lawsuit.

Pullen, who according to an investigator's report, suffered "superficial wounds" during the incident, accused family members of "negligence and recklessness" for not fully warning him of the "violent threat" Kemal posed.


Pullen says he suffered a broken nose, needed surgery that required him to miss work, and had a concussion which affected his memory of the events. The deputy is seeking at least $100,000 in damages, including medical expenses, mental anguish, pain and suffering and loss of past earning capacity. The first hearing in the case is set for April 14 in Judge Patricia Kerrigan's court.

PTSD in civilian trauma victims is being overlooked

From the "you mean no one thought of this before???" department:

Doctors Recommend PTSD Screening for Civilians (NBC Bay Area)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often associated with troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, but victims of violent crime are often developing PTSD at rates comparable to veterans of war, the Investigative Unit has learned.

Trauma patients may not be getting the help they need, however, and that may be costing entire communities in healthcare and public safety. A growing body of research shows that people who are shot, stabbed and beaten with untreated symptoms of PTSD can be more likely to carry weapons, have a harder time holding onto their jobs and end up back in the hospital.

more good times with the TSA

Former TSA screener Jason Edward Harrington, author of the “Dear America, I Saw You Naked” piece, shares more good time recollections of his experiences with everyone's favorite federal agency.

The Parable of the Mashed Potato Police (POLITICO Magazine)

Another one: It’s 2010, and a passenger is trying to bring her live goldfish through security. One of my co-workers informs her that the fish can go through but the water cannot. The woman is on the verge of tears when a supervisor steps in to save the fish’s life.

school voucher programs have us paying to teach creationism

"“I don’t think the function of public education is to prepare students for the turn of the 19th century,” said Eric Meikle, project director at the National Center for Science Education." Pretty much says it all.

Special report: Taxpayers fund creationism in the classroom (POLITICO)

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Buffett’s billion-dollar bet proves the system's broken

The very fact that a single human being can control $1,000,000,000 -- the net worth of a thousand mere millionaires -- is conclusive proof of the brokenness of the system. This stunt just adds insult to injury

Warren Buffett’s Epic NCAA Humblebrag

Poverty is rampant. Wages are stagnating. Three quarters of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. The unemployment rate remains persistently high and inequality has hit Gilded Age levels. Much of this has been exacerbated by a housing crisis and mortgage fraud. Yet, in the face of such emergencies, one of the world’s richest men joined a mortgage lender that sold shady loans to brag about their collective wealth. That’s the obvious takeaway as Buffett runs to fawning news outlets to proudly proclaim that it wouldn’t faze him in the least to write a billion-dollar check.


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