Facing big budget cuts, hard-pressed state prison officials have come up with a new way of paying for operating costs: charging inmates for room and board, health care and other amenities, according to USA Today. The money generally comes from prisoners’ families, many of whom are extremely poor.
In Arizona's Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, Sheriff Joe Arpaio humiliates prisoners by making them wear pink underwear and forcing them to sleep outdoors in 100 degree heat. Reports USA Today: "Earlier this year, he announced that inmates would be charged $1.25 per day for meals. His decision followed months of food strikes staged by convicts who complained of being fed green bologna and moldy bread."
Below the jump, some other examples cited by the paper:
 

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Rodney Bracey, the religious programs specialist for 7th Marine Regiment, plays a game on his NetBook during a pre-deployment training exercise here Aug. 5, 2009. Bracey is a 39-year-old native of Danbury, Conn. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Luis R. Agostini courtesy marines.mil.)

Some must-reads from around the web:

Is the White House ignoring an economic time bomb?

Why Australia's cap and trade plan failed.

DiFi's office swamped with misdirected Organizing for America volunteers.

Newt Gingrich: for death panels before he was against them.

Obama's first rendition?

Why editors are awesome, despite jokes you may have heard suggesting otherwise.

David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, is on twitter, and so are my colleagues Daniel Schulman, Nick Baumann, and our editor, Clara Jeffery. You can follow me here. The magazine's main account is @motherjones.

Off to Pittsburgh

I'll be at Netroots Nation this weekend, so blogging will be either light or very light for the next few days.  To make up for it, though, you might be able to watch me on TV.  I'll be moderating the lunch keynote panel on Saturday with Dean Baker, Jon Corzine, and Anna Burger, and the NN website suggests this will be carried live on either C-SPAN or C-SPAN2.  I don't know for sure if this will actually happen, but tune in at noon Eastern time and find out!

George Bush, Appeaser?

Barton Gellman reports that Dick Cheney is getting ready to say what he really thinks about George Bush.  Namely that Bush went soft on him:

The two men maintain respectful ties, speaking on the telephone now and then, though aides to both said they were never quite friends. But there is a sting in Cheney's critique, because he views concessions to public sentiment as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end.

....The former vice president remains convinced of mortal dangers that few other leaders, in his view, face squarely. That fixed belief does much to explain the conduct that so many critics find baffling. He gives no weight, close associates said, to his low approval ratings, to the tradition of statesmanlike White House exits or to the grumbling of Republicans about his effect on the party brand.

John Hannah, Cheney's former national security advisor, says Cheney is still obsessed with the idea of terrorists getting hold of a nuke, but:

What is new, Hannah said, is Cheney's readiness to acknowledge "doubts about the main channels of American policy during the last few years," a period encompassing most of Bush's second term. "These are not small issues," Hannah said. "They cut to the very core of who Cheney is," and "he really feels he has an obligation" to save the country from danger.

I don't especially blame Cheney for being worried about terrorists getting their hands on a nuke, but it's too bad he was never willing to seriously think about what kind of foreign policy might make that least likely.  Judging from Gellman's piece, he never will.

It's been nearly a hundred years since Atlantic salmon swam the Seine upriver to Paris. Now they've done it on their own, without any efforts to reintroduce them. AFP reports that hundreds, maybe a thousand, swam past the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral this year.

And they aren't all. Only four species swam through Paris in 1995 when up to 500 tons of fish died upriver every year in foul pollution. Today at least 32 species inhabit the Seine, including lamprey eel, sea trout, and shad. Why? Because there have been massive clean-up efforts in the last 15 years, including construction of a new water purification plant.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Restore.
 

Nature says so: the frequency and strength of Atlantic hurricanes has grown in recent decades. We're now at levels now about as high as anything in the past 1,000 years. The data come from sediment samples along the North Atlantic coast and are analyzed alongside statistical models of the past 1,500 years of hurricane activity. Interestingly, there was a peak about 1000 AD that rivals and maybe exceeds recent levels.

The study validates the theory that two factors fuel higher hurricane activity: La Niña and high surface temperatures over the ocean. If climate change continues to warm ocean waters (and how can it not?) we will likely experience more active hurricane seasons. This year's slow start is thanks to a newborn El Niño... though El Niño is changing too.
 

While everything from laptops to Scrabble is getting dipped in Pepto Bismol and glitter to attract the ladies, Sony Ericsson has one-upped the rest of the gendered marketing world with the soon to be released Jalou phone.

Rather than slap some pink on it and call it a day, Sony Ericsson "explored art, architecture and furniture trends whilst delving deep into the couture and fashion world" to determine just what the ladies would be looking for in a cell phone in 2010. Evidently plaid is out but, "structured forms, intricate corners, hidden depths" are in. Um...sure.

The phone is shaped like a facet-cut diamond, and "depth" refers to a "variety of different shine and matt [sic] finishes," not tech specs. The key pad also features diamond shaped keys—since concern about conflict diamonds was so last year.

The Jalou isn't targeted to every woman. Rather, it is the lifestyle choice for the young, urban, and single with disposable income: "Share the good life. Chat on the treadmill, text in the taxi, snap and share photos from the club: Jalou™ lets you share your life in style."

How does the Jalou offer help to do this?

"The two inch screen’s clever design means that at the touch of a button the screen becomes a mirror, offering a discreet way to make sure you look as good as your mobile phone. It is also the first Sony Ericsson to feature Walk Mate step counter, to help you stay in shape wherever you go. It also has an exclusive fashion interface which automatically updates with zodiac signs and special events throughout the year."

Vanity, body image, and horoscopes aren't the only stereotypes Sony Ericcson made sure cover. Catfights will also be all the rage in 2010. Jalou is derived from the french, jalouse meaning jealousy.

Strangely the phone does not actually come in pink direct from Ericcson, but in the semi-precious colors Deep Amethyst, Aquamarine Blue, and Onyx Black. You'll have to splurge for the Dolce & Gabanna edition, which comes in "sparkling rose" complete with 24-gold karat plating, to really fulfill your gendered fashion needs—just forget about that pesky wage gap.

It seems I'm not the only one irritated this week. So is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who says she's miffed at Organizing for America after her office was inundated with constituents  looking to chew her ear off on health care reform. This makes her the first Democrat to formally frown on the program.

In case you missed my post on Monday or your SPAM filter blocked OFA's email, Obama's netroots machine tapped its Dumbledore's Army of activists to visit their senators during the August recess to express support for healthcare reform. The website even offered a convenient "appointments" widget, meant to help fence-sitters commit to the trek. Tens of thousands signed up. Unfortunately, some folks (including a few of the ones I sat with on Monday morning) thought that meant they had an actual appointment to see the senator. Which they did not. 

So why can't the Obama administration coordinate with it's friends? Is Organizing for America making itself a nuisance? Or is the California senator just a big wet blanket?  

A Chilling Effect

Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton deserves a raise.