The Torture Report is America’s National Shame

The Senate has released a massive report on the torture of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration, and it's as bad as many of us feared. We already knew some of the terrible things done in our name as Americans, but not the full extent. In fact, we still don't know the full extent, since what the Senate publicly released was a summary of an even longer, still-classified report.But even the redacted version is a catalogue of horrors. The Senate's investigation found that prisoners … [Read more...]

#BlackLivesMatter: A New Civil Rights Movement

BlackLivesMatter

Just a few days after the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson unleashed fury in Ferguson, there's been another civil rights outrage in a nation that's weary of them. This time, it was the police killing of Eric Garner, a black man in Staten Island, allegedly for selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk.The circumstances of this are even less debatable than the Michael Brown shooting, since the entire encounter was captured on video. Garner wasn't violent; all he did was argue with the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 7

• Creationists lose a lawsuit seeking to keep evolution out of public schools on the spurious grounds that it's "religious". It's worth noting that they've given up on demanding equal time for their own beliefs and are now just seeking to destroy science education.• This painfully appropriate headline says it all: Actual War on Black People Distracting from Fictional War on Christmas". And along the same lines, don't miss the magnificently righteous anger of my Patheos colleague … [Read more...]

The Fallout in Ferguson, Continued

Ever since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by a white police officer back in August, the people of Ferguson, Missouri have been on edge, waiting to see if they would get justice. On Monday night, the grand jury that had been weighing the case for weeks came to a decision: no indictment, no charges - and the town exploded in rage. Businesses and cars went up in flames, and once again America witnessed the brutal spectacle of militarized police unleashing their arsenal … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 2

Coffee

• After serving most of a ten-year prison sentence for tax evasion, Kent Hovind was due to be released next year... but now the government is pressing new charges, saying that he filed fraudulent liens in an attempt to stop them from seizing his property as part of the punishment for his original conviction.• Virgin Galactic's experimental rocket plane SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight in the Mojave Desert, killing one of its two pilots. It's a tragic setback and a … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions: Sovereign Citizens

CastleTower

This month, an Oregon pastor went on trial to face charges that he, like Kent Hovind before him, hadn't paid income taxes since 1994. On the stand, he offered a peculiar defense:Attorney Mark Weintraub argued that Ronald Joling has a deeply held belief that he is not required to pay federal taxes, which he claims was influenced by his conservative Christian views and teachings he's picked up from the sovereign citizen movement.The local newspaper The Register-Guard reported on … [Read more...]

Marriage Equality Isn’t Just for Same-Sex Couples

Scales

Last week, marriage equality made another giant stride in the United States. Three federal circuit courts covering different parts of the country had ruled against same-sex marriage bans; the supporters of those bans had appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Court turned those appeals down. By doing so, it made those decisions final. This means that eleven states under the jurisdiction of those three circuits - Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, West … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: September 6

Coffee

• This week, Bob McDonnell, a.k.a Virginia's former "Governor Ultrasound", was convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption. The schadenfreude-y part is that McDonnell ran for office as a religious-right, pro-marriage, Christian-family-values candidate, whereas his defense at trial basically consisted of arguing that his own marriage was a shambles and that everything he said on the campaign trail was a lie.• In weird and cool biology news: two unclassifiable animal species … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Pound the Table

LegalPapers

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVThe date of Hank Rearden's trial has arrived, so it's time for the obligatory Dramatic Courtroom Scene.The first thing we learn, as spectators file in, is that the Constitution has apparently been revoked, because there's no longer a right to trial by jury (which is guaranteed in Article 3 - it's more fundamental than even the Bill of Rights). When and how this happened, we aren't told. You might think this is a much bigger deal than the Equalization of … [Read more...]

This One Weird Trick Nullifies All Abortion Restrictions

OK, this is brilliant. The Satanic Temple is asserting that they have a religious-liberty right to ignore abortion restrictions, citing the Hobby Lobby decision:"While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, when in fact they are … [Read more...]


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