China’s Human Rights Activists Under Scrutiny

Beijing Mass arrests: In one of the biggest crackdowns on civil society groups in decades, Chinese authorities have detained and questioned at least 238 lawyers and human rights activists over the past two weeks. At least 20 activists remain incarcerated, and the whereabouts of six of them are unclear. Maya Wang, a researcher with Human Rights. Watch, said those still […]

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Hungarian power grab

Budapest Power grab: In the face of mass protests and international condemnation, the Hungarian parliament has overwhelmingly passed 15 pages of amendments to the country’s 1-year-old constitution that practically abolish all judicial checks on the government. The amendments retroactively restore a number of controversial laws that were passed by the right-wing Fidesz government but subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the courts. […]

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The sad state of warehoused children

Russian orphanages are a scandal, said Jennifer Rankin. State institutions house nearly 400,000 children, a population larger than many cities. But less than one third of these children are actually orphans. Many “fall into the system when their parents, often fighting a losing battle with alcohol or drugs,” lose their parental rights. Even more of them—nearly half the total—have disabilities, […]

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Cat runs for senate – comes in 3rd place

■    A cat that ran for the U.S. Senate in Virginia received about 7,000 write-in votes in last week’s election, according to his owners. That means Hank, who hails from Springfield, Va., can claim third place behind Democratic victor Tim Kaine and Republican also-ran George Allen.The human candidates were separated by 180,000 votes, which means that Hank did not affect […]

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Chief Justice’s power over surveillance

Chief Justice John Roberts is even more powerful than you might think, said Ezra Klein. In addition to presiding over the Supreme Court, Roberts also has the “exclusive, unaccountable, lifetime power to shape the surveillance state.” It’s a little known fact that the chief justice appoints all 11 members of the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance […]

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How U.S. debt went out of control

U.S. debt

How did the U.S. debt get so high? The crucial turning point came back in 2001, said Lori Montgomery. At the time, Uncle Sam was actually running surpluses, and “the outlook was so rosy” that forecasters were predicting the U.S. could pay back every dime it had ever borrowed. That’s when President George W. Bush made a pivotal decision: Rather […]

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Here come the killer robots

If you think drone warfare has created some tricky moral dilemmas, said Robert H. Latiff and Patrick J. McCloskey, just wait until we start sending robotic soldiers into battle. Early prototypes of robots that can hunt down and destroy enemies with ferocious firepower are in development, and “what now seems like the stuff of Hollywood fantasy is moving toward realization.” […]

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Envying the lower castes

Suddenly everyone wants to be low-caste, said Badri Narayan. It used to be considered an extreme disadvantage to be in one of India’s oppressed castes or indigenous tribes. But decades of affirmative action and quota systems have changed all that. Now, many lower-middle castes are agitating to be reclassified as “more backward,” in effect “struggling to move down the ladder […]

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