- Frontline: The U.S. Immigration Detention Boom
This map of the growth of immigrant detention facilities is a great—and alarming—illustration of the rise of these ever-larger, often private facilities.
- Wikipedia: Northwest Angle
Insufficient understanding of North American geography in the late 1700s resulted in the Treaty of Paris accidentally assigning a notch of land in Canada to the United States. These 600 square miles comprise the "Northwest Angle" in Minnesota, the northernmost point in the continental U.S. To get there, one must fly, drive through Canada, or take a boat across the Lake of the Woods. 152 people live there.
- Search State and Federal Campaign Contribution Data
All of your bulk downloads for government data in one place, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation. There's even a 2.2GB download of all state and federal campaign contributions (ever?).
- Aloha Editor
I love this HTML5 WYSIWYG editor. They had me at the introductory paragraph, what with the editing of it. I haven't implemented it anywhere, but I love the concept.
- Slow Clap for Congress
Dear Congress, For your leadership, your maturity, and your inspiring ability to perform the basic duties of your job, We applaud you.
- PolitiFact: Florida state investment chief says transparency was a big issue for lawmakers in 2011
Here's a great use of legislative video: to fact-check a claim that financial transparency "got a great airing" during a recent session. PolitiFact Florida checked the video and calculated that a total of 36 minutes was spent on the topic, 25 minutes from just one senator. Legislative video is important stuff.
- Internet Archive: Mother’s Best Flour
This collection of songs from the "Mother's Best Flour" radio show is a must-listen for country fans. There are 70 shows of Hank Williams’ performances, from 1950–1951, many of which include first-ever performances of some classics. Each show includes in-studio chatter, which is fun to listen to, along with the constant promotions for the advertiser's brand of flour.
- iWatch News: White House visitor logs riddled with holes
The Center for Public Integrity compared a list of publicly known visitors to the White House to the visitor logs that the Obama administration released. Funny—basically none of them are listed. Rahm Emanuel is listed as having hardly any visitors. Less than 1% of visit in the first eight months are recorded. Two-thirds of the names listed are just people who took public group tours.
- New York Times: Death Penalty Drug Search Raises Legal Questions
A California prison employee, thanking an Arizona prison employee for sending a supply of sodium thiopental for an execution: "You guys in AZ are life savers."
- Poynter: Federal aid story prompted Falwell to block Lynchburg paper
Liberty University blocked all campus access to the Lynchburg News & Advance’s website after the paper pointed out that the school got nearly half a billion dollars in federal dollars last year—more money than NPR. They've just discovered the Streisand Effect.
- The Washington Post: Shining some sunlight on $200 million in Virginia tax breaks
Delegates David Toscano and Lee Ware propose some more stringent criteria for providing new tax credits. The annual tax credits that Virginia provides to the coal industry alone come to $100M/year, or $15/year/citizen.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: So, How Do We Put Elizabeth Warren’s Calendar Online?
I like this description of the work that goes into putting Elizabeth Warren's personal calendar online. Warren is Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and an all-around bad ass, as far as I'm concerned.
- New York Times: G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
General Electric is the largest company in the United States. It paid $0 in taxes last year. How? By hiding its money in offshore banks and getting Congress to give them special, enormous tax breaks. They have the right to do that, and Congress has the right to strip them of their federal contracts. But they won't, because they don't have the balls. The only person to do anything about this was Ronald Reagan, who overhauled the tax system after he learned about G.E.'s behavior. By the late nineties, G.E. got their loopholes back. This is straight-up corporate welfare, and it's costing all of us billions of dollars.
- Krulwich Wonders…: Cactus Walking On 20 Legs Found In China
Half a billion years ago, lifeforms suddenly took on crazy, elaborate new shapes. It's really not clear why it happened, but they sure were impressive.
- Washington Post: GOP spending plan would cost 700,000 jobs, new report says
Moody's has released an analysis of the Republican spending plan, and they've determined that it would eliminate 700k jobs before the end of next year and reduce economic growth by 0.5% this year. (That report, incidentally, is by an advisor to John McCain's 2008 campaign.) Goldman Sachs' analysis last week forecast even more dire results. Republicans insist that these analyses are wrong, but haven't been able to produce an independent analysis that supports that claim.
- Tech President: Two Years Later—Recovery.gov Still Sucks At Public Engagement
Recovery.gov isn't anywhere near as great as it was supposed to be. It's one thing to install software and set up a fancy website, and quite another to change the habits of a bureaucracy.
A FOIA request to the state police has been successful in teasing out Gov. Kaine’s travel schedule. He’s refused to release it, under logic that is legally sound, but basically bullshit. But since he’s always got a state-assigned bodyguard with him (as all Virginia governors have for many years), and since he’s reimbursing the state for that bodyguard’s time when he’s doing the work of the DNC (which Gilmore did not do, sticking the state with that bill), that means that a FOIA request to the state police for their reimbursed expenses could yield his travel itinerary.
The data show that Kaine didn’t leave Virginia for any DNC business until the legislature adjourned; no doubt Republicans hoped to find evidence to the contrary. He took a total of fourteen trips that took him out of state from March through June. Of the 31 days during which he was traveling, only six included a weekend. (Although I can’t imagine that the job of governor is actually limited to Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.) There’s nothing terribly interesting in these data, at least no that’s obvious to me, but no doubt folks looking at these dates and destinations will be able to determine what he was doing for the DNC and how much time he spent on those things during the days in question.