Russell Brand On Philip Seymour Hoffman And Drugs

Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Article: Philip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws by Russell Brand in The Guardian.

The Text: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was not on the bill.

If it’d been the sacrifice of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, that we are invited to anticipate daily, we could delight in the Faustian justice of the righteous dispatch of a fast-living, sequin-spattered denizen of eMpTyV. We are tacitly instructed to await their demise with necrophilic sanctimony. When the end comes, they screech on Fox and TMZ, it will be deserved. The Mail provokes indignation, luridly baiting us with the sidebar that scrolls from the headline down to hell.

But Philip Seymour Hoffman? A middle-aged man, a credible and decorated actor, the industrious and unglamorous artisan of Broadway and serious cinema? The disease of addiction recognises none of these distinctions. Whilst routinely described as tragic, Hoffman’s death is insufficiently sad to be left un-supplemented in the mandatory posthumous scramble for salacious garnish; we will now be subjected to mourn-ography posing as analysis. I can assure you that there is no as yet undiscovered riddle in his domestic life or sex life, the man was a drug addict and his death inevitable.

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The Massive Liberal Failure On Race

Lyndon Johnson Affirmative Action

The Article: The Massive Liberal Failure on Race by Tanner Colby in Slate.

The Text: In 2009, I attended the NAACP’s 100th annual convention at the Midtown Hilton in New York. Not just the centenary celebration for the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, this was also the group’s first convention under our newly inaugurated black president. The theme of the week’s events was to pay homage to the great civil rights victories of the past while at the same time defining a new mission for the next century. But on the night NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous took the stage for his big speech, when the subject turned to affirmative action, he didn’t sound like he was charting a new course so much as doubling down on the orthodoxy of the past. “The only question about affirmative action,” Jealous declared, “isn’t whether or not we need the hammer. The only question is whether or not the hammer is big enough!”

The line was met with thunderous applause. At the time, this didn’t really stand out to me, because, like a lot of well-intentioned but minimally informed white liberals, I believed in affirmative action. I didn’t have terribly strong convictions about it, but given America’s history it generally seemed like “the right thing to do.” That was five years ago. Then, in the course of writing a book about the history of the color line and our efforts to erase it, I took a closer look at the origins of affirmative action, and its results. Having done so, I’m a believer no more.

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How Racist Fiction Shaped US Drug Policy

Cocaine Race Policy

The Article: How the Myth of the ‘Negro Cocaine Fiend’ Helped Shape American Drug Policy by Carl L. Hart in The Nation.

The Text: Negro Cocaine “Fiends” Are a New Southern Menace. That was the headline of an article I came across while doing research for my PhD in 1996. It involved trying to understand the neurobiological and behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. So I read everything that seemed relevant.

The provocatively headlined article had appeared in The New York Times on February 8, 1914. I was surprised by the title, although I knew it was once acceptable to print such blatantly racist words in respectable papers. But what really shocked me was how similar it was to modern media coverage of illegal drugs and how, from early on, the racialized discourse on drugs served a larger political purpose.

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Income Inequality: A Problem No One Wants to Fix


The Article: Income Inequality: A Problem No One Wants to Fix by Paul Buchheit in The Contributor.

The Text: Inequality is a cancer on society, here in the U.S. and across the globe. It keeps growing. But humanity seems helpless against it, as if it’s an alien force that no one understands, even as the life is being gradually drained from its victims.

The recent Oxfam report on global wealth inequality reveals some of the ugly extremes that have divided our world. It also directs our attention to the Global Wealth Report compiled by Credit Suisse, and the companion Databook, which offer a shocking testament to the severity of U.S. and global inequality.

1. The 30 Richest Americans Own as much as Half of the U.S. Population

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Why Abortions Are Down

Pro Life

The Article: Why Abortions Are Down by William Saletan in Slate.

The Text: The abortion rate has fallen again. It’s at its lowest level since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was handed down. What’s causing the decline? Should we be happy about it? Can we learn anything from it?

The answer to the first question isn’t entirely clear. But the answers to the next two are yes and yes. Pro-lifers are right that the decline is a good thing. And pro-choicers are right that what’s causing the decline—and will keep it going, if we’re smart—is women making these decisions on their own.

The numbers were reported Monday by two researchers from the Guttmacher Institute. They show a 13 percent drop in the abortion rate from 2008 to 2011, continuing a long-term decline that seemed to have stalled. Some pro-lifers don’t believe the numbers. But the National Right to Life Committee does, and is happy to take credit for them.

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