Shackled by Money: How Vanderbilt Helped Spawn the Private Prison Industry

Shackled by Money: How Vanderbilt Helped Spawn the Private Prison Industry

Last month, Bettsy Woodruff wrote in the Daily Beast:“If you’re looking to make some money, try locking up toddlers.” She wasn’t kidding. The Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit corporation, made $49 million dollars in the last year by housing undocumented infants, toddlers, children, and mothers fleeing Central America in...

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What is Donald Trump’s ‘Type’?

Despite calling John McCain “a loser” for his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, characterizing many Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, and calling Megan Kelly “a lightweight” (among other things), Donald Trump carries on with his strange combination of masculine bravado and a simple narrative that Americans...

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Putin’s Crimean Blunder

Putin’s Crimean Blunder

Conventional wisdom portrays Putin as a master tactician. He isn’t one. Less than a week after the Sochi Olympics reached a coda, Russia invaded Ukraine, violating a millennial tradition of Olympic Truce. The juxtaposition between a sporting event celebrating peaceful competition among fraternal states and the occupation of a neighboring country...

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Up in Smoke: How 2013 Saw Intl Drug Prohibition Unravel

Up in Smoke: How 2013 Saw Intl Drug Prohibition Unravel

As The Economist noted in February, drug prohibition has not worked as well as one might have hoped: Since 1998, when the UN held an event entitled “A drug-free world: we can do it”, consumption of cannabis (marijuana) and cocaine has risen by about 50%; for opiates, it has more...

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How Disease Makes Poverty Permanent

How Disease Makes Poverty Permanent

Almost all of the poorest billion human beings are infected by one or more infectious diseases. These diseases cripple, disfigure, and scar their victims, often leaving them subject to lifelong stigmatization or severely impairing their cognitive and economic potential. A cluster of chronic parasitic and other common illnesses – collectively...

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The Tragic Reality of the Syria Deal

The Tragic Reality of the Syria Deal

In what began as an ad lib comment by John Kerry — that Assad surrender his chemical weapons to the international community, or else! — and culminated in a Russian-brokered deal to do just that, Syria has now agreed to join the UN Convention on Chemical Weapons, an international treaty...

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The Weed Diet? Pot’s Baffling Effects on Weight

The Weed Diet? Pot’s Baffling Effects on Weight

It sounds like a stupid dieting infomercial – eat more and lose weight! – but studies continue to show that marijuana users, despite eating an additional 600 calories per day, are less likely to be obese or suffer from diabetes. Skeptical? You should be. (I mean… come on, munchies and...

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Scapegoating Mentally Ill Won’t Fix Gun Violence

Scapegoating Mentally Ill Won’t Fix Gun Violence

Unfortunately, advocacy for the mentally ill is puny compared to the lobby for the right to own handheld devices that  shoot deadly metal pellets at high speed. Between the gun-lobby’s intransigence and the Obama Administration’s timidity, mental illness has become the low-hanging fruit in the nation’s dialogue on gun violence....

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America’s Manufactured Obesity Crisis

America’s Manufactured Obesity Crisis

Earlier this month, Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding that the one third of Americans who are overweight have a slightly lower risk of death than normal weight individuals. The response, from both academics and...

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Healthcare is an American Right

Healthcare is an American Right

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson articulated the American ethos that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights. The question of how best to protect these rights has shaped American politics as a struggle between advocates of small government with strictly enumerated powers and those articulating...

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