Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

A new “emergency” law backed by right-wing think tanks is turning Michigan cities over to powerful managers who can sell off city hall, break union contracts, privatize services—and even fire elected officials.

abaldwin360:

When the city of Pontiac, Michigan, shut down its fire department last Christmas Eve, city councilman Kermit Williams learned about it in the morning paper. “Nobody reports to me anymore,” Williams says. “It just gets reported in the press.” This was just the latest in a series of radical changes in the city, where elected officials such as Williams have been replaced by a single person with unprecedented control over the city’s operation and budget.

Gov. Rick Snyder put Louis Schimmel in charge of Pontiac last September, invoking Public Act 4, a recent law that lets the governor name appointees to take over financially troubled cities and enact drastic austerity measures. Under the law, passed last March, these emergency managers can nullify labor contracts, privatize public services, sell off city property, and even dismiss elected officials.

Schimmel got to work quickly, firing the city clerk, city attorney, and director of public works and outsourcing several city departments. City fire fighters were told that they would be fired if their department was not absorbed by Waterford Township’s. Schimmel has proposed putting nearly every city property up for sale, including city hall, the police station, fire stations, water-pumping stations, the library, the golf course, and two cemeteries.

read more on Mother Jones

Want to make Oakland P.D. even more dangerous?

anglophonicblog:

Hire private cops operated by a non-union “Christian values” security company, call them “safety ambassadors” and let them interfere with the important day-to-day duties of your actual department.

According to the East Bay Express:

“A document entitled ‘The SMS Holdings Way,’ available on the company’s website, reveals the Christian beliefs of its owners and executives: ‘From our company’s beginning, our business philosophy has been God-centered and faith-based. While we will always show tolerance and acceptance of the personal beliefs of others, we recognize that there is a higher order that provides a basis for all of our core values.’”

So when you’re walking downtown and find yourself being questioned rudely by some douche in a yellow vest, as happens to me regularly…say hello to the new Christian face of Oakland’s militarized police department. 

I’m pretty sure that our safety is the last thing on their mind.

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/private-cops-on-teh-public-dime/Content?oid=3108768

. That mission statement should read “While we will always show tolerance and acceptance of the personal beliefs of others, we recognize that our beliefs are superior and grant us supreme moral authority over them” See also: Mutaween

(Source: blog-anglophonic)

Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities… . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.

Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison operator in America, statement to stockholders, 2005.

In other words: ending the Drug War and eliminating federal mandatory minimum sentences is bad for business. Adam Gopnik notes that CCA “spends millions lobbying legislators.” presumably, inter alia, to keep harsh sentencing laws on the books. Then he nails it:

Brecht could hardly have imagined such a document: a capitalist enterprise that feeds on the misery of man trying as hard as it can to be sure that nothing is done to decrease that misery.

source

(via letterstomycountry)

BARF. Seriously, the privatization of prisons makes me feel sick to my stomach.

(via mindbabies)

The lives of people who are ruined over this? Money is more important, right?

And shit won’t be done about it because it’s not something the affects people’s day to day lives enough for them to get pissed about it.

(via abaldwin360)

Welcome to the plutarchy.

(via ignatius-m)

Silly me, I always assumed that “reducing demand for correctional facilities” was the goal! God, I’m so naive.

The Privatization of Death

abaldwin360:

loveyourchaos:

20julyplot:

The tragic debacle that has been the Troy Davis execution has another dimension to it beyond racism, classism, and the miscarriage of justice in a flawed system. That dimension is capitalism: specifically, the corporatization of the prison-industrial complex. If you’ve noticed some angry tweets directed at @correcthealth in the past day, that’s because “CorrectHealth” is the Orwellian-named “medical company” that, according to the ACLU, “oversees all executions in Georgia” including last night’s. It is a for-profit company that stands to make a pile money off of every execution…

wow, just wow.

Holy fuck.

Remember how in Robocop private corporations ran damn near everything… yeah it’s turning into that.

(Source: aloofshahbanou)

Tea party group trying to close public schools

hairtrending:

 […]

“We think public schools should go away,’’ says Teri Adams, the head of the Independence Hall Tea Party and a leading advocate — both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania — of passage of school voucher bills. The tea party operates in those two states and Delaware. They should “go away,” she says, because “they are hurting our children.’’ […] Adams says the current voucher program “discriminates” against wealthier students by providing public subsidies only to inner-city children in allegedly failing schools. Her group’s e-mails pushing vouchers caught the attention of James Kovalcin of South Brunswick, a retired public school teacher who asked Adams for clarification. She responded via email: “Our ultimate goal is to shut down public schools and have private schools only, eventually returning responsibility for payment to parents and private charities. It’s going to happen piecemeal and not overnight. It took us years to get into this mess and it’s going to take years to get out of it.”

[…]

(Source: )