Lengthy Associated Press investigation finds widespread human trafficking in Thailand's shrimp-processing industry. Those who would argue that "free" trade pacts are the only way to deal with this sort of thing would do well to note that Thailand actually has laws against human trafficking, and that the Big Stick of Bad PR can be employed against Thai officials (and their corporate customers) when they fail to enforce those laws. They should also recall how hard the State Department tried to get Malaysia off its human trafficking blacklist so that country could join the TPP. And finally, they should also know that no one in America puts a gun to your head and makes you eat cheap shrimp.
Ho hum, the CNN Republican Presidential "debate" went on-and-freaking-on about "radical Islamic terrorism," but no one, including the moderators, talked about terrorism by white people. No Dylann Roof, no Robert Dear, no James Holmes -- and you'd think at least a few of these guys (John Kasich and Chris Christie, maybe, but certainly Rand Paul) would want the opportunity to beat up on someone like Dylann Roof, if for no other reason than to look like people who are capable of thinking. But I guess we all live in Trumpland now -- a place of such energy!
In a related note, the Washington Post wonders if Republican Presidential candidates' "strikingly hawkish stances" will wind up alienating "swing voters." Setting aside that the Post talks about "hawkishness" as if they weren't the most hawkish major newspaper in the country a dozen years ago and thus helped cause a lot of the messes we're dealing with now: the only way to get voters to vote against their interests is to make them think they have to, and Republicans have another 10-plus months to do that.
Brendan Fischer at PRWatch instructs us that the Koch brothers' support for criminal justice reform is not only self-centered, but dangerous. The Koch brothers care less about drug sentencing reform or mass incarceration of folks of color than they do about "overcriminalization" of white-collar crime, though you've surely noticed that not very many folks are going to jail for white-collar crimes these days. They also push a tougher "intent" standard for crimes, as if intent matters more than result. Generally, it should be hard to convict folks of crimes, but that doesn't mean it should be easier to put people in jail for having a dime bag of coke than for rigging financial markets, especially when the latter destroys civilizations more than the former.
Memphis, TN has constructed a brand new facility for processing rape kits, and as a result has significantly cut down its 40-year backlog in just a few years. Out of 12,000 rape kits, the city has examined, or is in the process of examining, over 8,000 of them, and while the city still has to perform additional analysis on a little more than half of the ones they've started or finished, they're setting a good example that I hope other cities will emulate.
Finally, the Seattle City Council votes to allow for-hire drivers (like the ones that drive for Uber or Lyft) to bargain collectively for better pay and working conditions. The "sharing" economy is born of nothing other than corporate opportunism, and collective bargaining seems to me a First Amendment right, but I shudder to think that some folks out there will cite this development as the First Sign of an Irreversible Apocalpyse, just as some people did at the creation of Medicare. People like that are dead souls, but I'll keep praying for them, just as they're praying for me, I'm sure.