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News Blog

Alternate Realities Roundup 11/15

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2013-11-15 -

A new study by the ACLU has found 3,200 people nationwide serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses.

Top of the Alty World

“Jailed for Life for Stealing a $159 Jacket? 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole For Nonviolent Crimes”--Democracy Now!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is formulating rules that could hurt small, organic farmers.--Jackson Free Press

ProPublica has monitored China's version of Twitter for five months, tracking how posts are censored—ProPublica

Hard-right, conservative European leaders are allying to try and defeat the European Union.--The Economist

Top of Alty Utah

Utah Political Capitol previews bills coming up at the 2014 Legislature, covering guns, elections and equality.--Utah Political Capitol

KRCL talks with BYU students Adam White and Bradley Brough about their now-nationally recognized efforts to promote understanding and support of LGBT youth.--RadioActive!

Gonohrea cases are up 94 percent in Utah this year, according to health officials.--KCPW

Box Elder High School is moving closer to permitting a gay-straight alliance.--KUER

Rantosphere

Utah Policy's Bob Bernick reflects on government-ethics bills proposed for the 2014 Legislature and the problem that comes with lawmakers policing themselves.

“In short – as the separation of powers in the Utah Constitution requires – the Legislature is in charge of policing itself. Talk about conflicts of interest. This, of course, is nothing new. For more than 30 years, I’ve watched Legislature after Legislature struggle with these self-promoting problems. Each lawmaker’s answer is, understandably, “If the voters don’t like how I act, they can vote me out.” In theory, that’s correct. In practice, it doesn’t work that way. While individual legislative elections vary, on the whole about 90 percent of sitting legislators who run for re-election win.

By far, most legislators leave Capitol Hill via death, resignation or retirement. The first is not their choice, the latter two are. Do we have a functioning democracy (OK, government-form sticklers, a democratic republic) if, once elected, voters keep returning such a large percentage of lawmakers? What these numbers tell me is that legislators’ efforts at reforming their own actions, via ethics, campaigns and such, don’t have any real impact on their political futures.”--Utah Policy

The Long View

A Galveston medical student describes Texas' other death penalty, the uninsured who fall through the social safety net.

“There’s a popular myth that the uninsured—in Texas, that’s 25 percent of us—can always get medical care through emergency rooms. Ted Cruz has argued that it is “much cheaper to provide emergency care than it is to expand Medicaid,” and Rick Perry has claimed that Texans prefer the ER system. The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word “stabilize” is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. Also, hospitals charge for ER care, and usually send patients to collections when they cannot pay.”--Texas Observer

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