NYPD Officers On “Stop And Frisk” Quotas

Stop And Frisk

The Article: NYPD officers testify stop-and-frisk policy driven by quota system and race by Ryan Devereaux in The Guardian.

The Text: The New York police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program is being driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers by their supervisors, two NYPD officers testified in court this week.

The claims were made as part of a landmark class action lawsuit that began Monday. The suit seeks to prove that the nation’s largest police department has demonstrated a widespread and systemic pattern of unconstitutional stops that disproportionately target minorities.

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Republican Governor Does Education His Own Way

Terry Branstad

The Article: Iowa GOP Governor Charts Different Course by Catherine Lucey in the Associated Press.

The Text: As his Republican peers in other states search for ways to cut public school funding, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is charting a different course. He’s doubling down on education.

Branstad, who was elected in 2010 as part of a resurgent GOP, has made proposals many Republicans would sneer at: raising minimum teacher salaries and offering incentive pay for teachers who take on more responsibilities — all by tapping $187 million in new school funding.

It’s an approach that reflects the lives of Iowa families, who send nearly all of their children to public schools and have felt deeply connected to local districts for generations.

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Private Sector Parasites

Private Sector Parasites

The Article: Private Sector Parasites by Michael Lind in Salon.

The Text: You don’t have to be a Tea Party conservative to believe that the economy is threatened when there are too many “takers” and not enough “makers.” The “takers” who threaten the dynamism and fairness of industrial capitalism the most in the 21st century are not the welfare-dependent poor — the villains of Tea Party propaganda — but the rent-extracting, unproductive rich.

The term “rent” in this context refers to more than payments to your landlords. As Mike Konczal and many others have argued, profits should be distinguished from rents. “Profits” from the sale of goods or services in a free market are different from “rents” extracted from the public by monopolists in various kinds. Unlike profits, rents tend to be based on recurrent fees rather than sales to ever-changing consumers. While productive capitalists — “industrialists,” to use the old-fashioned term — need to be active and entrepreneurial in order to keep ahead of the competition, “rentiers” (the term for people whose income comes from rents, rather than profits) can enjoy a perpetual stream of income even if they are completely passive.

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The Problem With Filing Taxes

Filing Taxes

The Article: Filing Taxes: It Shouldn’t Be So Hard in The Economist.

The Text: IN 2010 a panel created by the White House estimated that American taxpayers spend 7.6 billion hours and some $140 billion a year keeping the IRS off their backs. According to the Washington Post over 80% of taxpayers use software or pay someone to file their taxes. The national taxpayer advocate, a sort-of in-house IRS watchdog, once said, “If tax compliance were an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States.” But of course, it is an industry.

It is an industry made up of accountants and companies like H&R Block and Intuit, which makes the TurboTax software used by many Americans. And it is an industry that, according to ProPublica, has worked hard to keep the IRS from preparing your tax returns for you for free. Intuit, for example, has spent millions lobbying the federal government, opposing bills that would allow the IRS to send you pre-filled-in returns (the agency already has most of your relevant information) and supporting bills that would ban the practice.

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Russell Brand’s Life Without Drugs

Russell Brand

The Article: Russell Brand: Life Without Drugs by Russell Brand in The Guardian.

The Text: The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday. I had received “an inconvenient truth” from a beautiful woman. It wasn’t about climate change – I’m not that ecologically switched on – she told me she was pregnant and it wasn’t mine.

I had to take immediate action. I put Morrissey on in my car as an external conduit for the surging melancholy, and as I wound my way through the neurotic Hollywood hills, the narrow lanes and tight bends were a material echo of the synaptic tangle where my thoughts stalled and jammed.

Morrissey, as ever, conducted a symphony, within and without and the tidal misery burgeoned. I am becoming possessed. The part of me that experienced the negative data, the self, is becoming overwhelmed, I can no longer see where I end and the pain begins. So now I have a choice.

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