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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mother Jones: The killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was no anomaly: As we reported yesterday, Brown is one of at least four unarmed black men who died at the hands of police in the last month alone. There are many more cases from years past. As Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Missouri chapter put it in a statement of condolence to Brown's family, "Unarmed African-American men are shot and killed by police at an alarming rate. This pattern must stop." But quantifying that pattern is difficult. Federal databases that track police use of force or arrest-related deaths paint only a partial picture. Police department data is scattered and fragmented. No agency appears to track the number of police shootings or killings of unarmed victims in a systematic, comprehensive way. Here's some of what we do know.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Call it China's latest contribution to global fashion: the beach balaclava, or as it's called in Chinese, the "face-bikini."

The headgear was invented two years ago by a group of middle-aged women who were determined to avoid a sun tan at all costs. This is China after all, where tans are often seen as something for peasant laborers, and "face-whitening creams" do a brisk business. read more


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a black man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him. "On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of 'property damage' to wit did transfer blood to the uniform," reads the charge sheet. "[N]othing new can faze me about Ferguson," said James Schottel, an attorney who has filed a civil suit on behalf of the man, a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis who had been arrested in a case of mistaken identity. read more


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists. Fracking into underground drinking water sources is not prohibited by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which exempted the practice from key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. But the industry has long held that it does not hydraulically fracture into underground sources of drinking water because oil and gas deposits sit far deeper than aquifers. read more


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Joint Taxation Committee Updates Tax Loophole Estimates. In a release last week, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), a bipartisan and bicameral congressional committee focusing on tax legislation and analysis, released an updated assessment of federal tax expenditures – or tax breaks written directly into the tax code – through FY 2018. In FY 2014 alone, tax expenditures will amount to an estimated $1.2 trillion, according to the JCT. This is compared to tax revenues of $3 trillion (and a deficit of $583 billion), according to the Office of Management and Budget's mid-session review. This estimate could change based on congressional action on the so-called "tax extenders" bill, which would temporarily extend dozens of recently-expired loopholes in the tax code, including the R&D tax credit. The issue of tax expenditures remains a subject of debate for policymakers seeking deficit reduction and alternatives to sequester-level spending.


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