Author Archive

When in Riyadh, don’t do as the royals do

January 30, 2015
posted by

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders  

"First lady Michelle Obama made an important statement when she showed up in Saudi Arabia with her husband Tuesday to mourn the death of King Abdullah and meet successor King Salman. While the first lady dressed in a fashion respectful of Saudi custom -- in black pants and a long, loose jacket that fully covered her arms and legs -- she did not don a head scarf. Saudi women do not have that choice. Thus the first lady made a fashion statement that sent a politely assertive message to the all-male Saudi delegation. I approve." [editor's note: Hooray! When I saw the headline, I was praying she didn't go the Faux Snooze route - SAT] (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nuw8zy6  

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MT: Senate panel hears bill to reduce income taxes

January 30, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"A Colstrip lawmaker proposes taking $350 million from the state's rainy day fund to reduce income taxes. Republican Sen. Duane Ankney introduced the bill in the Senate Taxation Committee Thursday. He says the money held by the state for unforeseen expenses belongs to Montana citizens. Montana Budget and Policy Center co-director Heather O'Loughlin opposes the bill, saying it's unfair to low-income workers." [editor's note: "Unfair" because it lowers taxation on the wealthy more than on the low-income folks who don't pay taxes anyway (note that this bill is to actually CUT taxes, not just shuffle them to another pocket as in New Mexico) - SAT] (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lotq8km  

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Taking apart the corporate case for the “fast track”

January 30, 2015
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman appeared before Congress Tuesday to make the corporate argument for 'fast track' trade promotion authority. The USTR and President Obama are pushing fast-track pre-approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other big 'trade' agreements they are working on. The Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and other corporate groups and lobbyists are also pushing hard for Congress to pass fast track." (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nnyhql7  

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The barriers to black-brown unity

January 30, 2015
posted by

Salim Muwakkil In These Times
by Salim Muwakkil  

"Of the many challenges Cook County Commissioner Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia faces in his bid to unseat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this February, the most formidable for the lone Latino in the race is attracting the support of the city’s black electorate. This would seem an unlikely obstacle in a predominately minority city like Chicago, where the political benefits of an African-American and Latino coalition are a no-brainer." (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ocssk5y  

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What the sharing economy takes

January 29, 2015
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Doug Henwood  

"Sharing is a good thing, we learned in kindergarten, but that wisdom was soon called into question by the grown-up world of getting and spending. Now, New Age capitalism has spun out a wonderful invention: the 'sharing economy,' which holds out the promise of using technology to connect disparate individuals in mutually profitable enterprise, or at least in warm feelings. The most prominent examples of the sharing economy are a taxi-hailing service called Uber and a real-estate-subletting service called Airbnb. As with most enterprises emerging from Silicon Valley, they come with a very ambitious vocabulary." (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nh5bz66  

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SD: Bill would allow teachers to question evolution and climate change

January 29, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Lawmakers in South Dakota are pushing a bill that would allow teachers to address the supposed 'weaknesses' in the scientific theories of evolution and global warming. The bill, which is described as academic freedom legislation, would free up teachers from interference by state or local education officials, reported the Argus Leader. ... The legislation is based on suggestions by the Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design instead of evolution. The measure proposed in South Dakota does not advance intelligent design or creationism, but it would allow teachers to question accepted scientific theories." [editor's note: If this bill promoted constructive discussion on GMO foods, these same horror-stricken folks would be applauding - SAT] (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kdwk7qx  

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NM: State senator proposes eliminating almost all taxes

January 29, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"Calling New Mexico’s tax system 'a mess,' a state senator proposes a plan to eliminate most levies in the Land of Enchantment. 'It’s difficult, it’s confusing, and it’s certainly not fair or simple,' State Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, said during a news conference Wednesday. Brandishing a copy of the state’s 1,089-page tax code, Sharer claimed New Mexico could eliminate almost every tax currently levied by reforming the way it collects the gross receipts tax. 'No personal income tax, no corporate income tax, no compensating tax, no vehicle excise tax, no insurance premium tax and about a hundred other taxes go away,' Sharer said." (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n54xk3v  

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Ukraine: Poland on the brink of WWII?

January 29, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by John Lloyd  

"Russia is winning the battle for Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists captured the airport at Donetsk, a bright new terminal now reduced to rubble, last week. Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk, has made it clear that he will attack Ukrainian lines once more. He will rely, as he has done before, on reinforcements from the Russian army and special forces." [editor's note: I think the wrong country is being portrayed as Poland here; not that the Russian regime is innocent and pure, but a lot of the Ukrainian propaganda seems to be of the "Polish soldiers crossed into Germany and attacked a radio station" variety - TLK] (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q9md862  

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UK: Russian military jets “disrupted aviation”

January 29, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Russian military planes flying near UK airspace caused 'disruption to civil aviation' on Wednesday, the Foreign Office has said. It said the two Russian planes did not enter UK airspace, but the manoeuvres were 'part of increasing pattern of out-of-area operations' by Russia. The planes were 'escorted' by RAF jets 'throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest,' officials added. Russia's ambassador has been summoned to 'account for the incident.'" [editor's note: Let's see ... if it happened here, six or so years ago, Cheney would have scrambled the bombers ... I have no clue how this administration would have overreacted! - SAT] (01/29/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31049952  

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Obama budget to lift spending for military, domestic programs

January 29, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"President Barack Obama's budget will call for an increase in U.S. domestic and military spending that would end spending caps known as 'sequestration,' a White House official said, setting up a new source of conflict with Republicans in Congress. Obama intends to announce his plans during a meeting with congressional Democrats in Philadelphia on Thursday. The fiscal 2016 budget, which the White House intends to unveil on Monday, would fund a host of programs that Republicans are unlikely to support." [editor's note: And in other breaking news, man abuses dog, dog bites back - SAT] (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lyf4bt5  

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France: Anti-jihadi efforts net 8-year-old schoolboy

January 29, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"French officials have announced a series of counterterrorism measures aimed at disaffected youth, part of an expanded campaign to fight the kind of Islamic extremism that inspired the terror attacks in Paris earlier this month. But on Wednesday, when French police detained and questioned an 8-year-old boy who had praised the attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, critics asked whether the government had gone too far. While dozens of people have been arrested and accused of defending terrorism since the attacks, the child from the southern city of Nice appears to be the youngest by far." [editor's note: In this country he'd likely have been rewarded for being "politically sensitive" - SAT] (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nxqlug2  

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TPP: Exporting financial instability

January 29, 2015
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Kevin P. Gallagher  

"The late Dr. Martin Luther King is praised for saying 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' Along the same lines, if we learned anything from the global financial crisis it is that financial instability anywhere is a threat to financial stability everywhere. The Obama administration appears not to have learned that lesson. The trade treaty agenda announced at the State of the Union address is an injustice that will rob our trading partners of the ability to prevent and mitigate a financial crisis. That could not only spell instability for our trading partners, but for the U.S. economy as well." (01/29/15)

http://tinyurl.com/peunjta  

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Are the Koch brothers the worst humans in America?

January 29, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle
by Mark Morford  

"What would you get if you crossed a ruthless drug kingpin, a mafia crime lord, the willful blindness of the NRA, the combined CEOs of Monsanto, Exxon and RJ Reynolds and a couple scared old wolverines with God complex and a penchant for contaminating the world? Why, you’d get the brothers Koch, of course, David and Charles, easily the most unsavory, power-mad libertarian mega-capitalists in modern American history." [editor's note: This guy is sometimes a satirist first, columnnist second; this vitriolic collection of half-truths is not one of those times (as you can tell from the rhetoric in that last sentence) - SAT] (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/la9p6zt  

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If elections matter for Greece, why not for America?

January 29, 2015
posted by

John Nichols The Nation Blog
by John Nichols  

"Elections are supposed to have consequences. When countries establish electoral processes that are sufficiently free and functional to ascertain the clear will of the people and -- when those votes are cast and counted in an election that draws a solid majority of eligible voters to the polls -- that will should be expressed as something more than a New York Times headline or a Fox News alert. It should be expressed in leadership, law and governance. That governance should be sufficient to address poverty, tame inequality and conquer injustice." [editor's note: I applaud the use of "governance" here, which is the true societal venue; however, part of this article conflates that with "government" - SAT] (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kt3q6ek  

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For healthy middle class, bring back the long-term career

January 29, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Lynn Stuart Parramore  

"It’s time to start thinking about revitalizing the long-term career if we don’t want its partner, the middle class, to vanish into thin air. In an age of galloping inequality, it’s worth remembering that middle-class people, rather than the rich, lead the way to growth and prosperity. ... To achieve this, people need stable sources of income and a hope for the future. They require a sense of trust that smooths the transactions in both business and life. They must have an understanding that when they invest their hard-won skills and knowledge, there is a long-term payoff." [editor's note: Meet part of the problem! Actually, the move toward entrepreneurship and autonomy (instead of wage-slave reliance on corporati) is the real hope for liberation, for those who want it - SAT] (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kc28y92  

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Not lovin’ it

January 29, 2015
posted by

Our Future
by Jim Hightower  

"McDonald’s is scrambling, and I’m not talking about eggs. Your know your business has what image consultants call 'quality perception issues' when your public relations team is fielding such questions as: 'Does McDonald’s beef contain worms?' Thornier yet for the world’s largest burger machine is its boneheaded response to the remarkable, ongoing rebellion by fast food workers demanding a $15-an-hour wage and the freedom to unionize without corporate retaliation. McDonald’s responded by -- guess what? -- retaliating." (01/28/15)

http://ourfuture.org/20150128/not-lovin-it  

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US House passes bill aimed at expediting natural gas exports

January 28, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"The Republican-controlled House has passed a bill aimed at expediting approvals of natural gas exports. In a 277-133 vote on Wednesday, the House approved a bill giving the Energy Department a 30-day deadline to authorize natural gas exports from facilities after they are reviewed and approved. It's the third energy-related bill passed by the House this Congress. They've also approved bills authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and fast-tracking new natural gas pipelines." (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ls3a34h  

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Greece: Tsipras freezes privatisations, markets tumble

January 28, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"Leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threw down an open challenge to international creditors on Wednesday by halting privatisation plans agreed under the country's bailout deal, prompting a third day of heavy losses on financial markets. A swift series of announcements signalled the newly installed government would stand by its anti-austerity pledges, setting it on a collision course with European partners, led by Germany, which has said it will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its huge debts." (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q7bpcfm  

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The terrifying political power of the upper middle class [sic]

January 28, 2015
posted by

Paul Waldman Washington Post
by Paul Waldman  

"The Obama administration has given up on its plan to remove the tax benefits of 529 college investment accounts, which under current law allow parents to put money away, then withdraw it to pay for their children’s education without paying any taxes on the profits. Republicans not only basked in what looked like a White House defeat, but were emphatic in their defense of the 529 tax break: John Boehner called the proposal 'a tax hike on middle-class families.' If you want to know whether an idea like this has any chance of getting support in Congress, the first question to ask is, who is going to be harmed? The 529 proposal was targeted at what may be the single most dangerous constituency to anger: the upper middle class." (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ngublxh  

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Study: Insurers may be using drug costs to discriminate

January 28, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Insurance companies, perhaps more than previously thought, may be charging the sickest patients extra for drugs under the federal health law, in an effort to discourage them from choosing certain plans, according to a study released Wednesday. One of the cornerstones of President Obama's signature health law forbids insurance companies from turning away people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or cancer. Yet hundreds of patient advocacy groups say insurance companies have found a way to discriminate against these people, who are more expensive to cover because they require life-long treatments." [editor's note: And this surprises anyone because...? - SAT] (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p2h9qat  

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Ukraine: Russia boycotts Europe rights body PACE

January 28, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has resumed its boycott in protest at Ukraine sanctions. The Strasbourg-based Council, the oldest Europe-wide political body, is tasked with upholding rights, democracy and rule of law across the continent. It suspended Russia's voting rights last year after the Crimean crisis and renewed the ban on Wednesday. In response, Russia said it would boycott sessions until the year's end." (01/28/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31032034  

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SC: Judge clears lunch counter “Friendship 9″

January 28, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"Thirty days of hard labor in a rough South Carolina prison camp in 1961: That was one punishment for a black person daring to sit at McCrory’s white lunch counter in Rock Hill. Nine young black men who took the punishment, instead of paying a $100 fine to the system that oppressed them, became known as the Friendship 9. Their 'jail, no bail' statement resonated beyond South Carolina and galvanized what had been a hodgepodge protest movement. On Wednesday, the surviving members accomplished another civil rights milestone. In a poignant redress in a country where race relations still chafe, the Friendship 9’s prison camp convictions were thrown out, their names officially cleared. To not forget what happened in the ’60s, however, the official courtroom records will still reflect the wrong committed against the men." (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q3p9gjk  

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DC: Paul re-introduces “Audit the Fed” bill

January 28, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Republican Senator Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, on Wednesday re-introduced a bill that would expose the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy discussions and decisions to a congressional audit. The Kentucky senator’s move to re-introduce the bill, along with 30 co-sponsors, comes as Republican lawmakers and some Democrats increase their efforts to rein in the U.S. central bank and make it more transparent. The Fed gained broad regulatory powers and implemented massive stimulus measures after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, expanding its balance sheet to $4.5 trillion." (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mdmyzph  

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Without reeling in Wall Street, middle class doomed

January 28, 2015
posted by

Robert Reich In These Times
by Robert Reich  

"Presidential aspirants in both parties are talking about saving the middle class. But the middle class can’t be saved unless Wall Street is tamed. The Street’s excesses pose a continuing danger to average Americans. And its ongoing use of confidential corporate information is defrauding millions of middle-class investors. Yet most presidential aspirants don’t want to talk about taming the Street because Wall Street is one of their largest sources of campaign money." (01/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o4743cw  

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Syriza victory: Anti-austerity movement going mainstream

January 28, 2015
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Kate Aronoff  

"Yesterday, Syriza -- a previously marginal, left-leaning coalition party in Greece -- made history by winning the country’s general election. Winning 149 of 300 parliamentary seats, the party fell just two votes shy of an outright majority. Syriza’s leader, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, will become prime minister at the head of a coalition anti-austerity government, beating out the conservative New Democracy party and its now former prime minister, Antonis Samaras." (01/27/15)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17577/syriza_austerity  

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