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Wednesday, Mar 04th

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Bratton Blames Police for 'Many of the Worst Parts of Black History'

BrattonPolice Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday that "the unequal nature of the relationship" between African Americans and police "must not be denied," and that "many of the worst parts of Black history would have been impossible without police," including slavery.

Bratton, who addressed the predominantly African-American crowd during a Black History Month event held at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, said that while police have played crucial role in maintaining civil rights and freedom of speech, "many of the worst parts of Black history would have been impossible without police, too."

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The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

Chicago 'black site'The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

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The Government Loan Program With a 116 Percent Default Rate

GAOWhat caught my eye was the default rate for an Agriculture Department program called Broadband Treasury Rate Loans: 116.37 percent.

A default rate above 100%? Was that a typo?  It was not a typo.

So what was it? The average default rate for bank loans is about 3 percent. The troubled student loan program has lifetime default rates around 25 percent. How on earth could a credit program, even a risky one, get to 116 percent? Were the recipients defaulting en masse, then stealing an extra 16 percent from the Treasury?

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Marijuana Is Now Legal In Alaska, The 3rd US State To OK Pot

Pot legal in AlaskaAlaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.

"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."

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Rent walkouts point to strains in U.S. farm economy

farmer rent walkoutsAcross the U.S. Midwest, the plunge in grain prices to near four-year lows is pitting landowners determined to sustain rental incomes against farmer tenants worried about making rent payments because their revenues are squeezed.

Some grain farmers already see the burden as too big. They are taking an extreme step, one not widely seen since the 1980s: breaching lease contracts, reducing how much land they will sow this spring and risking years-long legal battles with landlords.

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Activists launch 'debt strike' against college chain; refuse to pay loans

College activists refuse to pay debtsThe debt forgiveness movement born out of Occupy Wall Street has entered a new stage in its activism around student loans. On Monday, a wing of the campaign known as Debt Collective announced a “debt strike” by 15 former students of the for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges Inc.

The former students have said they will not repay any more of their student loans, in protest of what they describe as predatory lending practices on the part of both Corinthian Colleges and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Organizers working with Debt Collective said the coordinated action was a test run for larger debt refusal actions.

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The Innocence Project May Have Framed A Man For A Crime He Didn't Commit

Alstory SimonFor years, investigative journalist Bill Crawford hounded the powers that be in Chicago telling anyone who would listen, and shouting at those who wouldn’t, that an innocent man was in prison, framed for a crime he didn’t commit. So Crawford should be celebrating now. After more than 15 years behind bars, Alstory Simon was released last October when his conviction on a double murder charge was overturned by the state of Illinois. Instead, Crawford says, “There’s a goddamn sinister thing going on here.”

There’s no doubt that Crawford is glad to see Simon free and his own work on the case vindicated. But that feeling is tempered by his doubt that the people ultimately responsible will ever pay for their role in Simon’s imprisonment.

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