Election laws: Holder v states | The Economist

Election laws: Holder v states | The Economist.

Election laws

Holder v states

Expect plenty of scuffles in the run-up to the general election

RONALD REAGAN appointed him to a federal judgeship. He served as acting attorney-general under George Bush junior. He has backed a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights. As a federal attorney he prosecuted two prominent Democratic congressman; in private practice he represented large corporations. This is the CV not of a Republican judicial candidate, but of Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s attorney-general. Long unpopular with the right as well as the left, Mr Holder may well spend the coming year even more embattled than usual.

In 2011 34 states proposed laws to strengthen voter-identification requirements. Backers portray these laws as a bulwark against voting fraud. Critics argue that such fraud is exceedingly rare, and these laws would provide little defence against it; instead, they contend, the laws are intended to make it harder for minorities, young people and the poor—groups that lean Democratic—to cast their ballots.

On December 13th, Mr Holder waded into the controversy.

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Citizenship: In praise of a second or third passport | The Economist

Citizenship: In praise of a second or third passport | The Economist.

Citizenship

In praise of a second (or third) passport

Multiple identities are natural. Citizenship laws should catch up

SEEN from the state’s point of view, multiple citizenship is at best untidy and at worst a menace.

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But life is more complicated than that. Loyalty to political entities need not be exclusive: indeed, it often overlaps. […] Teutons may be proud to be simultaneously Bavarian, German and European.

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Rick Perry: Marines urinating on corpses were just kids, shouldn’t face criminal charges

Rick Perry: Marines urinating on corpses were just kids, shouldn’t face criminal charges.

Perry: Urinating Marines are ‘Just Kids’

The Texas governor said Marines shouldn’t face criminal prosecution for a “dumb” mistake.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry told CNN Sunday that the Marines who were filmed urinating on Afghan corpses were just kids being kids and the White House has gone “over the top”  in its criticism. “When you’re 18 or 19, you do dumb things. These kids made a mistake, there’s not any doubt about it,” the Republican presidential hopeful said.
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Although the Marines should be “appropriately punished” Perry criticized “the idea that this administration would go after these young people for a criminal act.”
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We need some tough love to get people off welfare and into Pret – Telegraph

We need some tough love to get people off welfare and into Pret – Telegraph.

We need some tough love to get people off welfare and into Pret

Ministers should face down the Lords over benefit curbs – the workers are on their side.

9:14PM GMT 12 Jan 2012

Just outside the House of Commons lies a sandwich shop which exhibits the most intractable problem in politics. Pret A Manger is a brilliant British success story, with its formula of soups, sandwiches and sushi having been rolled out across the country and even taken to New York. But as customers of its London shops know, Pret has another characteristic: its ever-cheerful staff are almost exclusively immigrants. In a city with 770,000 on benefits, this is a sign that something in the economy is deeply broken.

One can hardly blame Pret. What happens in its sandwich shops is being repeated all over a country where the government pays several million natives not to work.

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America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine.

Fire Congress, Dump Mississippi and Alaska

How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China.

Like many large corporations, America is going through a painful transition as it reaches maturity. Growth has stagnated, expenses have soared, and shareholders are getting antsy. While emerging markets offer potential, competitors are rapidly eating away at the United States’ market share. Analysts are bearish, with many believing the country is on the decline. Is it time for a leveraged buyout?

Probably not. Still, it’s a fun thought experiment: What sort of changes and cost-cutting measures would a firm like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital impose if it wanted to buy the country at a discount and refurbish it for a quick, profitable sale to, say, China?

Though the United States carries a $15 trillion debt load, if you look past its bloated budget and shaky governance, the country has some valuable assets. America has vast real estate holdings, a productive workforce, reliable cash flows, and a globally recognized brand name. An aggressive private-equity outfit, though, would find a lot to cut and a lot of people to fire. Here’s a 10-point plan to get the country shipshape.

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Drillers must employ best practices to keep ‘fracking’ boom alive – Houston Chronicle

Drillers must employ best practices to keep ‘fracking’ boom alive – Houston Chronicle.

Drillers must employ best practices to keep ‘fracking’ boom alive

Updated 02:30 p.m., Saturday, January 7, 2012

As recently as 2001, the production of gas naturally occurring deep inside shale rock provided less than 2 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. Today, it is approaching 30 percent. As late as 2007, it was commonly assumed that the United States would be importing large amounts of liquefied natural gas from the Middle East and other areas.

Today, almost overnight in natural-resource years, we are not only self-sufficient in natural gas, we have enough natural gas for the rest of this century on the basis of current demand. This same horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology is now being used in liquids-rich shales to increase oil production. These resource plays are in their infancy and can clearly improve the energy security of the United States.

Nonetheless, the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale rock to release gas trapped deep beneath the Earth’s surface has inspired public fear-mongering, mostly around presumed threats to air quality and water quality. Most of that fear is unfounded.

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Separating facts from fiction in fracking – Houston Chronicle

Separating facts from fiction in fracking – Houston Chronicle.

Separating facts from fiction in fracking

Updated 10:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Threats by Iran to blockade the Straits of Hormuz and the political gridlock over the Keystone XL Pipeline construction project have put energy where it rightly belongs: front and center.

It’s about time. Nearly 40 years after the Arab oil embargo, this nation has no workable energy policy; we choose instead to lurch from crisis to crisis with ad hoc solutions.

Our country needs a better approach, and exactly what that is should be a major topic of sensible, not superheated, discussion in the coming campaign for the White House. The usual partisan talking past each other by presidential candidates insults voters. It’s time for sensible, fact-based decisions about how we move forward on energy policy. We have choices to make and some major opportunities in prospect.

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Paying a Price, Long After the Crime – NYTimes.com

Paying a Price, Long After the Crime – NYTimes.com.

Op-Ed Contributors

Paying a Price, Long After the Crime

IN 2010, the Chicago Public Schools declined to hire Darrell Langdon for a job as a boiler-room engineer, because he had been convicted of possessing a half-gram of cocaine in 1985, a felony for which he received probation. It didn’t matter that Mr. Langdon, a single parent of two sons, had been clean since 1988 and hadn’t run into further trouble with the law. Only after The Chicago Tribune wrote about his case did the school system reverse its decision and offer him the job.

A stunning number of young people are arrested for crimes in this country, and those crimes can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

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Debating Taxes and the Family – NYTimes.com

Debating Taxes and the Family – NYTimes.com.

January 9, 2012, 3:17 pm

Debating Taxes and the Family

by Ross Douthat

I’ve praised Rick Santorum’s tentative steps toward a pro-family tax agenda. Others on the right are less impressed.

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Families who either benefited from an expanded personal deduction for children or applied an expanded tax credit against their income and payroll taxes would no more be “dependent for [their] existence on the federal government” than an investor who benefited from the differential treatment that the tax code gives to income from capital gains, or a business that benefited from a reduction in the corporate tax rate, or an heir who benefited from the abolition of the estate tax.

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[The] claim that a more family-friendly tax code would benefit “only Americans fortunate enough to have a child” falls into the trap (common to analysts on the right and left alike) of treating children as a kind of consumption good, rather than as American citizens with interests of their own.

[…]

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Where Is Europe? – NYTimes.com

Where Is Europe? – NYTimes.com.

January 9, 2012, 10:03 pm

Where Is Europe?

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