Uh oh: the Guardian catches the Chicago police operating, essentially, a "black site" detainment center for suspected criminals in an abandoned warehouse. During their stay, suspects get shackled, beaten, and kept away from their lawyers. Oh, and "suspects" include protestors. And, needless to say, the police don't keep very accurate records of their doings in the Homan Square warehouse. So quite a few police in Chicago seem pretty anxious about their small packages being discovered.
Clive Thompson at Mother Jones touts the homemade "mesh" network as a data-snooping alternative to mainstream internet service. Mesh networks can be safer, more democratic, and cheaper than big telecom services, plus they'll go into rural and impoverished areas where the big telecoms won't. But when Scott Walker becomes President, I bet the big telecoms tell him to declare all mesh networks "terrorist networks" and to arrest anyone who uses one. After all, the people who run big corporations literally live in terror of not being obscenely rich.
Daily Kos diarist Alex Forgue explains why a flat tax, despite its apparent simplicity, is a bad idea. Long story short: if you tax someone making $25,000 and someone making $1,000,000 annually at a flat 10% rate, "it is hard to survive on $22,500 compared to $900,000." And "(e)ven with a progressive tax structure, the wealthy can still survive and have money left over to invest." I'd add that the problem with the flat tax isn't unequal incomes so much as equal living expenses -- a wealthy person making 20 times what I make doesn't need to consume 20 times the calories, use 20 times the electricity, or put 20 times the gas in his car.
JetBlue, once famous for not charging baggage fees, now plans to do so -- at the advice of investors, no less! Wonder if they ever ask their customers anything? Apparently not, because at least one JetBlue exec apparently feels folks will just get used to it, a reason which could pretty much justify any of the thousand cuts customers feel at the airline counter. Maybe, one day, they'll also get "used to" being tossed out of the plane mid-air because the plane's overbooked.
Michael Shermer at Reason notes the 1980s finding that "Real IQ" scores have gone up three points a decade over the last century and supposes we're becoming "morally smarter," since most of the IQ point gains have occurred in abstract reasoning categories. I don't know that the raft of research Mr. Shermer describes convinces me, but I am already inclined to accept that "the moral arc of the universe may be bending in the right direction," even if individual humiliations along that arc are legion. Believing in that arc isn't a call to complacency, and I don't think that arc bends in a Libertarian direction, as Mr. Shermer does ("economic liberalism" isn't the same as liberalism, after all), but I remain an optimist in these matters -- as long as we act.
Finally, Sarah Jaffe at The Nation tells the story of how a group of 250-plus cable technicians in Brooklyn finally got their employer, Cablevision, to recognize them as a collective bargaining unit. Key lessons: winning the first vote to unionize is often a beginning, not an end, of struggle; a vigorous NLRB can be of tremendous help to a fight for a better life; and "one day longer, one day stronger" is a hell of a slogan to deploy to potentially dispirited workers. I wish them the best in their future together. I also wish I had half their strength and courage.