- Everyone's favorite state, Arizona, is working to balance its budget with a new tax -- er, fee -- on poor folks. If you had to balance a budget, wouldn't you find the poorest and least educated families, the most likely to have families afflicted by crime and addiction, and charge 'em $25 to visit their brothers, mothers, and cousins in jail?
- Remember that horrifying gang rape of a child in rural Texas? Nineteen boys and men raped an 11-year-old girl -- and the initial New York Times reporting heavily quoted residents who thought the child was a slut who dressed like a prostitute and probably brought it on herself. In this month's GQ, Kathy Dobie takes an in-depth look at the stew of influences that enable such a horror.
- Does abortion stop when it's illegal? Yeah, right. Check out the experience of Colombia, where 30 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, more than 99 percent of them illegal. One in 26 Colombian women had an abortion in 2008; one-third of those resulted in "medical complications," or unnecessary pain and suffering, according to this new study by the Guttmacher Institute. The takeaway: When it's hard to get a safe legal abortion, poor rural women sicken and die.
- The brilliant Dahlia Lithwick examines Dick Cheney's ongoing defense of torture here -- and argues that the critical point is that he won:
Torture really did become legal after 9/11, and even after it was repudiated -- again and again -- it will always be legal with regard to Dick Cheney and the others who perpetrated it without consequence. The law wasn't a hollow symbol after 9/11. It was the only fixed system we had. We can go on pretending that torture is no longer permissible in this country or under international law, but until there are legal consequences for those who order or engage in torture, we will only be pretending. ... Dick Cheney is living proof that if we are not brave enough to enforce our laws, we will forever be at the mercy of a handful of men.