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How Organic Food Is Breaking Down All Class Boundaries

A man who applies pesticides to Iowa fields for $14 hour might not seem a likely organic enthusiast. But when I met Jim Dreier last fall, and he mentioned the backyard patch he and his wife had planted with vegetables in the spring, he told me he didn’t use any pesticides. When I asked him why, Dreier surprised me: “I don’t want to eat that shit,” he said. When I went grocery shopping with his wife, Christina, she surprised me, too, by picking out a bag of organic grapes even though she was paying with Snap — food stamps — for exactly the same reason.

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A Fascinating Way to Put a Stop to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Black Children

Destiny was in eighth grade when, in the middle of an altercation with another student, she grabbed a teacher’s jacket and threw it out of a classroom window.

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Why NSA Reforms Won't Address America's Paranoid Surveillance of Muslims

Better oversight of the sprawling American national security apparatus may finally be coming: President Obama and the House Intelligence Committee unveiled plans this week to reduce bulk collection of telephone records. The debate opened up by Edward Snowden's whistle-blowing is about to get even more legalistic than all the parsing of hops and stores and metadata.

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8 Pronunciation Errors that Changed Modern English

Someone I know tells a story about a very senior academic giving a speech. Students shouldn't worry too much, she says, if their plans "go oar-y" after graduation. Confused glances are exchanged across the hall. Slowly the penny drops: the professor has been pronouncing "awry" wrong all through her long, glittering career.

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Is the Next Big Economic Bubble About to Pop?

This article originally appeared in the Guardian's Comment is Free, and is reprinted here with their permission.

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Dear President Putin, I Offer Myself for the Arctic 30

Dear President Putin

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The Problem with Education? Children Aren't Feral Enough

What is the best way to knacker a child's education? Force him or her to spend too long in the classroom. An overview of research into outdoor education by King's College London found that children who spend time learning in natural environments "perform better in reading, mathematics, science and social studies". Exploring the natural world "makes other school subjects rich and relevant and gets apathetic students excited about learning".

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Should Teachers Have to Beg Online to Fund Classroom Supplies?

Alice Kunce was elated to start a job as a remedial reading teacher in Arkansas. Then she arrived at her classroom and reality set in:

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The American Dream Has Become the American Farce for Generations Y and Z

The American dream has become the American farce for Generations Y and Z.

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How Low Can the Republican Party Go?

What is the single most consequential political development of the past five years? Some might say the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama; others might point to the passage of the most important piece of social policy (Obamacare) since the 1960s; some might even say the drawing down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in reality, it is the rapid descent of the Republican party into madness.

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Smeared and Threatened: Glenn Greenwald on the Personal Side of Taking on the NSA

When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSAprograms, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."

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Sick? The GOP Wants You to Come to Work Anyway

As attempts to dehumanize the workplace go, few could be more sadistic than forcing workers to come to work sick, but that's precisely what the Florida legislature and Governor Rick Scott recently did.

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Supreme Court Stunner: Sometimes Workplace Harassment is OK

Every June a few US supreme court cases get a reputation for being blockbusters, and this year has been no different. We're still awaiting decisions on cases concerning gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act. But the blockbusters can obscure smaller cases with profound effects. On Monday, the court quietly delivered a destructive, toxic decision on workplace harassment that is as significant as anything else this year.

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One in Eight People Go Hungry As World's Richest Countries Gather for G8 Meeting

It seems a long time since G8 leaders last gathered in the UK for their annual get-together. Back in 2005, we were at the height of a global boom and there was a real sense that this could be the summit to Make Poverty History.

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Can I Buy a Smartphone That's Not Soaked in the Blood of the World's Poor?

If you are too well connected, you stop thinking. The clamour, the immediacy, the tendency to absorb other people's thoughts, interrupt the deep abstraction required to find your own way. This is one of the reasons why I have not yet bought a smartphone. But the technology is becoming ever harder to resist. Perhaps this year I will have to succumb. So I have asked a simple question: can I buy an ethical smartphone?

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Unfit and In Denial: A Church That Has Lost All Authority

Of all the theories advanced explaining why the Catholic priesthood attracts so many young gay men, this is the most valid: it is a direct consequence of the church's official attitude to homosexuality and the way that this has insinuated itself into the fabric of what we might call a traditional Catholic family with its roots in Ireland.

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Glenn Greenwald: How Can Anyone Still Believe That America Is the Greatest Country on Earth?

Last week, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, and the US - the country with the world's largest stockpile of that weapon and the only one in history to use it - led the condemnation (US allies with large nuclear stockpiles, such as Britain and Israel, vocally joined in). Responding to unnamed commentators who apparently noted this contradiction, National Review's Charles Cooke voiced these two assertions:

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Why Capitalist Predators Think 2013 Will Be the Best Year Ever

The Christmas issue of the Spectator ran an editorial entitled "Why 2012 was the best year ever". It argued against the perception that we live in "a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse". Here is the opening paragraph: "It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The west remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age."

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New Activists Fight for the Life of the American Worker

America's long and steady march toward a fully disposable workforce continues apace, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week. Union membership is at its lowest point in nearly a century, with just 11.3% of all workers – the same level it was in 1916. To put this in proper historical perspective, union members are as rare today as they were at a time when being one could get you shot to death in a mining camp by the Colorado national guard.

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We Are Willing to Talk About the Financial Crisis, But Less Discussed Is the Appalling Decline of Democracy

In one of the last interviews before his fall, Nicolae Ceausescu was asked by a western journalist how he justified the fact that Romanian citizens could not travel freely abroad although freedom of movement was guaranteed by the constitution. His answer was in the best tradition of Stalinist sophistry: true, the constitution guarantees freedom of movement, but it also guarantees the right to a safe, prosperous home. So we have here a potential conflict of rights: if Romanian citizens were to be allowed to leave the country, the prosperity of their homeland would be threatened. In this conflict, one has to make a choice, and the right to a prosperous, safe homeland enjoys clear priority …

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Glenn Greenwald: Woman Imprisoned for Life for Minor Drug Offense; Banking Giant Immune to Justice for Massive Drug Laundering

The US is the world's largest prison state, imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth, both in absolute numbers andproportionally. It imprisons people for longer periods of time, more mercilessly, and for more trivial transgressions than any nation in the west. This sprawling penal state has been constructed over decades, by both political parties, and it punishes the poor and racial minorities at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates.

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If Not Now, When Is the Time to Talk About Gun Control?

Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticutis shocking and horrifying – the time and the place of these massacres inevitably catch us unawares. But the fact that another mass shooting has occurred is not shocking, any more than the last one was, or the next one will be.

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Whether It's Sex Workers or CIA Agents, the Entertainment Industry Doesn't Portray the Truth About People's Careers

There isn't much to recommend the Broadway revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, which, despite a stellar cast including Al Pacino and Richard Schiff, is slow, thin, dated and delusional, thinking itself naughty for the swear words (lots of "fucks"; two or three c-words), when, across the street, Book of Mormon nightly wows audiences with the suggestion that God be penetrated in every orifice.

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GOP Belief in Fox News Fantasies Could Make the Party Irrelevant

Republicans' belief in the feel-good Fox News fantasies of what "real America" wanted and believed helped them lose the election. Would Romney have lost if his base didn't stubbornly insist that polls were rigged, that almost half the country was looking for a handout (and the other half was angry about it), and that government exists only to coddle or sabotage (not so much the "Nanny state" as Mommie Dearest)? The "conservative entertainment complex", as columnist David Frum put it, promulgated a view of the American electorate that wasn't just objectively false, in terms of polled support, but to which they objected. That is, they didn't just get wrong how much support Romney had; they told a story about American voters that Americans themselves didn't believe.

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Glenn Greenwald: The Right Is Crippled -- Now Let's Make Sure Dems Don't Sell Out Social Security and Medicare

The greatest and most enduring significance of Tuesday night's election results will likely not be the re-election of Barack Obama, but rather what the outcome reflects about the American electorate. It was not merely Democrats, but liberalism, which was triumphant.

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How Christian Fundamentalism Feeds the Toxic Partisanship of US Politics

Mix It Up at Lunch Day is one of those programs that just seems like a nice thing to do.

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Why Big Bucks Donors Don't Want President Obama to Champion Social Security

It is remarkable that social security hasn't been a more prominent issue in the presidential race. After all, Governor Romney has proposed a plan that would imply cuts of more than 40% for middle-class workers just entering the labor force. Since social security is hugely popular across the political spectrum, it would seem that President Obama could gain an enormous advantage by clearly proclaiming his support for the program.

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What if a Camera Could Document Your Entire Life?

Documenting your entire existence might turn out to be useful for future historians, but it's a somewhat unnerving hobby. The processes started by Myspace, then Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and YouPorn, ever more aided by technologies like the iPhone, perhaps reach their consummation in Memoto: a wearable camera, clipped to clothes or worn as jewellery, able to record practically every detail of the wearer's life, linked via the internet for instant public self-presentation.

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Kids in Solitary Confinement: America's Official Child Abuse

Molly J said of her time in solitary confinement:

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The Littlest Missionaries: A New Christian Plot to Invade Public Schools

When he was 15, Jim ran drugs for a cult group. When I first heard his story, I was shocked – not just that the group was running drugs, but that they had directed one of their youngest recruits to do the dirty work for them. Then I learned why it made sense in a technical sort of way: the cult leaders reasoned that the older members, if caught, would face serious sentences and lifetime records, whereas the kids could get away with an unpleasant but not life-altering juvenile detention. It was a matter of using kids to do what the grown-ups didn't want to risk doing themselves.

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I Was Minutes Away From Ordering a Drone Strike on an 'Insurgent' ... Until I Realized It Was Just a Child at Play

I find myself caught between the need to follow the drone debate and the need to avoid unpleasant memories it stirs. I used drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – during the nadir of my military career that was an operational tour in Afghanistan. I remember cuing up a US Predator strike before deciding the computer screen wasn't depicting aTaliban insurgent burying an improvised explosive device in the road; rather, a child playing in the dirt.

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