Alty News: Obama's Defense Budget Big on New Weapon Systems; Chicago Desegregation Experiment Curbs Poverty | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Alty News: Obama's Defense Budget Big on New Weapon Systems; Chicago Desegregation Experiment Curbs Poverty

Posted By on February 3, 2015, 11:59 AM

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Democrats and Republicans in Congress may finally tackle meaningful criminal justice reform.

Top of the Alty World

"On These Five Things, Republicans Actually Might Work With Dems To Do Something Worthwhile"Mother Jones

President Obama's defense budget invest heavily in new weapon systems that the nation would need in a conflict with a major power.—Slate

A Chicago experiment moving poor black families to rich white suburbs has proven successful at curbing poverty.—The Atlantic

While California's governor has made bold moves to address climate change, eco-activists in the state are still upset with him.—High Country News

Top of Alty Utah

A lawmaker wants the state to pull funding from government agencies that provide any support to the NSA data center in Bluffdale.—Utah Political Capitol

Lawmakers kill a bill that would have raised the income tax by one half of one percent to help fund teachers.—Salt Lake City Weekly

Despite the existence of two expungement programs, there are still significant hurdles for Utahns trying move beyond their criminal pasts.—Salt Lake City Weekly 

The idea of creating an Office of the Inspector General may finally come about, thanks to the scandals of former attorneys general John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.—Utah Politico Hub


Slate makes the argument that when reason fails with anti-vaxxers, use of force is necessary.

So far, we don’t have a sure answer for how to convince parents to choose vaccines. But that’s not to say we don’t know how to increase vaccination rates. We do, and it’s through force. The two states with the highest vaccination rates are West Virginia and Mississippi, and they achieve this with strong public health programs and mandatory vaccination laws with strict standards for exemptions. Neither state, for instance, allows religious or philosophical exemptions to vaccine requirements for schools. Either you vaccinate your child, or she doesn’t attend class.

The pharmaceutical industry is large, wealthy, and prone to bad behavior. That some Americans would respond to this with deep distrust of the medical establishment isn’t unreasonable, and that some of this would turn into fear of vaccines isn’t absurd. But while vaccine-anxious parents deserve our empathy, that doesn’t mean they can dictate the health of the public.—Slate

The Long View

Fusion takes a look at how inmates in the correctional system remain digitally connected with the outside world.

Given the importance of digital connectivity in today’s world, maybe it’s no surprise that cell phones have joined drugs and weapons as the contraband of choice in correctional institutions all over the country. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has seized more than 30,000 cell phones from state facilities since 2012. In 2013 alone, Florida’s corrections department confiscated 4,200 cell phones from the state’s prisons. Sometimes, contraband phones trickle into prisons one by one; other times, they arrive all at once. A single 2013 raid on a medium-sized prison in East Texas netted 45 cell phones and 52 chargers, which had been buried in an underground cache for retrieval.

Jails and prisons are supposed to be technological dead zones. In all but the laxest minimum-security facilities, cell phones are banned for inmates, as are personal laptops, tablets, and other Internet-connected devices. Federal prisons have implemented CorrLinks or TRULINCS, e-mail systems that allow inmates to send monitored messages to pre-approved contacts. But the wider Internet remains off-limits. In many prisons, the most up-to-date device approved for ordinary inmate use is the pay-phone.

Under the surface, though, America’s correctional institutions are buzzing with illicit tech activity. Some inmates use contraband cell phones to send selfies and texts to loved ones. Others use Facebook and Twitter to complain about their living conditions, and organize collective actions with inmates at other prisons. Inmates’ desire for access to the bounty of the Internet – and correctional officers’ desire to keep those tools away from them – has created new tensions on both sides.—Fusion

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