Big oil corporation Shell has severed ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC), saying that ALEC's climate change stance "is clearly inconsistent with our own." Yeah, they're doing it to get good PR for themselves, but they're also depriving ALEC of contributions ALEC needs to continue its nefarious operations, so good for them. And good for you, for pressuring them and others like them.
In light of the various tax proposals floated by Republicans at their debates the other night, Kelly Phillips Erb provides a good summary of the progressive income tax, the so-called Fair Tax (which is a national sales tax), and the flat tax. I'd quarrel with her suggestion that our current tax code is convoluted because it's progressive -- it's convoluted because big corporations keep buying themselves tax breaks, and because cowardly Democrats keep tweaking the system so they can increase revenue without seeming to increase taxes -- but thank God she got the rate of the national sales tax right; it's 30%, not 23%, as Fair Taxers have long claimed by doing the math wrong. (But BTW: tithing is charity; paying taxes isn't, since we receive services in exchange for taxes.)
Netflix adopts a new paid leave policy allowing new moms and dads to take the entire first year of their child's life off, if they like. That only applies to the first year, of course -- they're not going to get a full year of leave to be spread out over, say, the first five years -- but the new policy won't apply to low-paid DVD distribution center workers, and Netflix has a notorious enough workplace culture that the salaried workers might be a bit scared to take the time off. But policy is policy, and I'd think Netflix would open themselves up to lawsuits if they discriminated, even for perceived work shortcomings.
From the "nobody could have predicted except everybody" file: four police officers in San Luis Obispo County (CA) get arrested for abusing children at a week-long boot camp. I will smack any pimp who claims that criticizing or charging these officers is "anti-discipline," as if the only two alternatives to any problem you might have with children are abusing them and doing nothing -- or as if the word "discipline" only means "beating people up" (as looking up the Latin root will instruct you).
Finally, The Straight Dope tries to discover if "any one crime" (i.e., drug use) is the main reason for the skyrocketing imprisonment rate in America. Long story short: it's not so much the "war on drugs" as the whole "tough-on-crime" ethos that has pervaded law enforcement since 1970 -- an ethos that has lately been unraveling, though rather too slowly for my taste.