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Trayvon Martin, The Hunger Games, and the Toulouse School Shootings

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin

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Why Trayvon Martin’s Killer Remains Free: Florida’s self-defense laws have left Florida safe for no one—except those who shoot first,” by Emily Bazelon. A controversial Florida self-defense law is making it difficult to arrest or prosecute a neighborhood watch volunteer who killed an unarmed teen walking through his gated community.

Big Neighbor Is Watching: Do neighborhood watch programs actually work?” by Brian Palmer. Mixed results come out of neighborhood watch programs in low-crime neighborhoods, and the watch programs have struggled to take root in the high-crime areas that could really use them.

Why You Can’t Be Both French and Jewish: The Toulouse school shootings were horrible. But they should come as no surprise,” by Rachael Levy. In the wake of the Toulouse school shootings, Levy argues that “the country’s nearly religious devotion to secularism is at least a partial explanation for the country’s latent racism and anti-Semitism.”

The Economics of The Hunger Games: Could any real country have an economy like Panem’s? Actually, yes,” by Matthew Yglesias. Yglesias examines whether The Hunger Games’ economy of extreme inequality mixed with advanced technological capability is feasible in the real world.

Mad Men, Season 5: All hail the new season of Mad Men!” by John Swansburg, Patrick Radden Keefe, and Julia Turner. The Mad Men TV Club is back for the long-anticipated fifth season of AMC’s hit show. Plus, Troy Patterson teases the season premiere. Has Don become a lazybones at work? Where have all the cute clothes gone? And will the firm hire its first African-American staffers? Read Slate’s complete Mad Men coverage.

It’s Not About the Law, Stupid: Forget precedent. Ignore Scalia’s musings. Next week’s health care argument before the Supreme Court is all about optics, politics, and public opinion,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Next week the Supreme Court looks at its highest profile case this year—whether Obamacare is constitutional. Lithwick says, “What matters is whether the five conservative justices are so intent in striking down Obama’s healthcare law that they would risk a chilly and divisive 5-4 dip back into the waters of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United” because “the current court is almost fanatically worried about its legitimacy and declining public confidence in the institution.

Does Using Cash Lead You To Spend More or Less? What I learned from two months of living cashlessly,” by Seth Stevenson. Stevenson reflects on his two months of cash-free living, predicts that society will go cashless in just five to 10 years, and says people won’t really miss cold, hard currency.

A Burger, an Order of Fries, and Your Credit Card Number: Why it’s so easy for hackers to steal financial information from restaurants,” by Will Oremus. You should be wary of your waiter skimming your credit card at a restaurant, but even more worried about restaurant chains and their weak credit card system passwords, Oremus writes. A recent report shows that the bulk of credit card fraud involves retail establishments.

Should You Let Your Kids Try Wine? Does exposing children to alcohol make them more or less likely to abuse it when they grow up?” by Mike Steinberger. Wine writer Steinberger has begun questioning his practice of letting his kids taste wine along with the adults. He says that “the seemingly more enlightened French approach” of letting people start drinking at a young age “hasn’t actually produced healthier drinking habits.”

 “Hairy Cannibals: The tarantula, reappraised,” by Constance Casey. The fuzzy, gigantic spider that struck fear into James Bond and a Home Alone robber is actually not that poisonous to humans. But tarantulas can be cannibalistic toward their children, siblings and mates.