Author Archive

Colombia: FARC proposes indefinite cease-fire — with strings

December 18, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"An open-ended cease-fire announced by leftist FARC rebels is in doubt Thursday after the government rejected the guerrilla group’s conditions for the unilateral move. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has engaged in peace talks with the government since November 2012, said Wednesday that the unprecedented cease-fire would begin Dec. 20 and continue without a predetermined end date. ... But the guerrilla group, which has been fighting the Colombian state for more than half a century, said the cease-fire would enter into effect once an international verification team was in place to monitor compliance." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nos8gob  

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EU courts: Obesity “could be a disability”

December 18, 2014
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU's highest court has ruled. The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat. The court said that if obesity could hinder 'full and effective participation' at work then it could count as a disability. The ruling is binding across the EU. Judges said that obesity in itself was not a disability -- but if a person had a long-term impairment because of their obesity, then they would be protected by disability legislation." (12/18/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30529791  

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How can Rubio & Congress muck up the Cuba shift?

December 18, 2014
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by George Zornick  

"President Barack Obama announced a new era in US relations with Cuba Wednesday morning in which diplomatic ties will be reopened, along with a US embassy in Havana, while business and travel restrictions are eased. These changes can be accomplished by executive order -- but the next president could reverse them, and only Congress can lift the embargo. The permanence and depth of Obama’s policy shift thus remains in doubt." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nqwq4xn  

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US, Cuba plan restored relations after 50 years of hostility

December 18, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"The United States plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 50 years after they were severed, a major policy shift after decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday. Announcing the end of what he called a 'rigid' policy of isolation of Cuba that had been ineffective, Obama said the United States planned to move toward normal ties and would open an embassy in Cuba." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ph6qqt5  

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Dog bites man: Congress extends dozens of tax breaks

December 18, 2014
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The US Senate approved a sweeping package of tax breaks, sending to President Barack Obama a bill that allows individuals and corporations to save billions of dollars on their 2014 taxes. On the Senate’s final day of the year, lawmakers passed some 55 so-called tax extenders, deductions that expired at the end of 2013 but will be retroactively restored with the current legislation. The Senate easily passed the measure, 76 votes to 16, after the House passed it earlier this month." [editor's note: Business as usual on Corporatal Hill - SAT] (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m6lgnew  

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Is Barack Obama’s revival on the way?

December 18, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"Is Barack Obama about to have a revival? Peter Beinart argued the other day that he is, for three reasons: his actions on immigration have improved his standing among Hispanics, the economy is picking up steam, and there's a natural swing of the pendulum in press coverage as reporters tire of writing the current story after a while and look for change and new developments. An Obama comeback would fit the bill. I think Beinart is probably right, and the economy is the main reason; it swamps every other consideration in evaluating the president." [editor's note: Ironically, the alleged "recovery" (mainly confined to the very richest?) is mainly due to the lack of meddling, since the "reforms" were about social concerns, continuing wars -- and corporatist goals - SAT] (12/17/14)

http://prospect.org/article/barack-obamas-revival-way  

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The real Russia: Strong or weak, bully or buffoon?

December 18, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Michael Kofman  

"The West has been unable to develop a coherent strategic policy toward Russia. There is little agreement on what Russia is and how to deal with it, too much speculation about what President Vladimir Putin will or will not do. The United States, the European Union and their allies all see different faces of Russia to confront, dismiss or engage. Years of cyclical relations, engagement and disappointment, confrontation and compromise, have spawned many 'Russias' for the West. Each image lends itself to a different set of policy prescriptions." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/jvrzrsg  

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Hope is in the cities and states

December 18, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Bernie Horn  

"Over the next two years, Washington will be a horror show. The president and a minority of senators will try to minimize the destruction that extreme conservatives will attempt to inflict on our personal freedoms, basic economic security, and the American Dream. As for good (or even rational) proactive legislation, forget it! But that doesn’t mean we can’t win progressive victories in 2015. We can still dramatically change policy by focusing on states and localities -- specifically 18 states that are controlled by Democrats or have split partisan control, about three dozen big cities with blue majorities, and thousands of smaller progressive-controlled cities, towns and counties." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kxhnlnu  

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MN: “Free” stimulus broadband project costs state taxpayers millions

December 18, 2014
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"'Get connected, stay connected, live connected.' That marketing tagline sums up how Lake County officials manage to keep one of the most expensive federal stimulus broadband projects in the country alive. The costs of the Lake Connections fiber optic network project in the vast northern Minnesota wilderness continue to increase, and local taxpayers are now footing part of the ever-growing bill." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkttgf3  

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WV: Four indicted in chemical spill case

December 17, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"A federal grand jury has indicted four former executives of a chemical company on pollution charges in a January spill that prompted a drinking water ban for 300,000 West Virginia residents. An indictment unsealed Wednesday charged ex-Freedom Industries presidents Gary Southern and Dennis P. Farrell and two others with failing to ensure that Freedom operated the steel storage tank that leaked in a reasonable and environmentally sound manner. Southern also faces federal fraud charges related to the company's bankruptcy case. Freedom filed for bankruptcy eight days after the Jan. 9 spill of coal-cleaning chemicals into the Elk River in Charleston. West Virginia American Water uses the river for its water supply a mile and a half downstream." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ktchvoy  

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New Year’s resolution: Read a classic book

December 17, 2014
posted by

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

"Some time around Jan. 1 comrade Caille Millner and former comrade Jay Johnson and I gathered for a drink. Maybe two and discussed potential New Year’s resolutions. I am not a New Year’s resolution person, but I am a sucker for a challenge. So mine ended up being that I would read 'Moby Dick.' We all have gaping holes in our literary repertoire, and 'Moby Dick' has been a whale of a gap for me I’ve felt I should read for decades. Now I am. As of this writing, I am on page 508 of my Nook version. I shall finish by year’s end, but it’s been a slow read for me. I find my attention span is shot thanks to the onslaught of social media. It has been a challenge to turn off the noise and focus on the sea." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lfrfady  

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Report: Wealth gap now widest on record

December 17, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"As study after study has shown, the US economic recovery has been a top-heavy affair, with the bulk of the wealth regained from the Great Recession benefitting the wealthiest Americans. The latest comes from a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, which found that the wealth gap between high income Americans and middle income Americans is now the biggest on record. ... Additionally, the net worth of America’s high-income families is nearly 70 times that of lower income families." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pcgatoz  

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Land of the free, home of the enhanced interrogators

December 17, 2014
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Chris Lehmann  

"The Senate report confirmed in nauseating detail what most Americans already knew but have chosen not to process in any meaningful, public way: A secret arm of government brutalized interrogation subjects. As the U.S. Senate’s report on the appalling litany of tortures committed by the CIA nosed its way through the news cycle, the public debate took on a queasily familiar fatalism. Shocked readers of the report might deplore torture, but they can see that our governing institutions aren’t about to do anything serious to stop it." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l6kaxpk  

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Dalai Lama: “I may be the last”

December 17, 2014
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said he realises that he may be the last to hold the title. But he told the BBC it would be better that the centuries-old tradition ceased 'at the time of a popular Dalai Lama.' The Dalai Lama suggested the UK had taken a soft line with China over Hong Kong's recent student-led pro-democracy protests for financial reasons." (12/17/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-30510018  

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India’s love affair with privatization

December 17, 2014
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Priyamvada Gopal  

"Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated a new hospital and medical research center in Mumbai, one of numerous state-of-the-art private facilities providing world-class medical care to Indians who can afford it. ... This cocktail of religious nationalism, buccaneering capitalism, a profoundly compromised corporate media and the soft power of philanthropy is the topic of the first half of Arundhati’s Roy collection of essays, Capitalism: a Ghost Story, a highly readable and characteristically trenchant mapping of early-twenty-first-century India’s impassioned love affair with money, technology, weaponry and the 'privatization of everything,' and (because these must not be impeded, no matter what) generous doses of state violence." [editor's note: Yet another "progressive" who mistakes state capitalism for the free market - SAT] (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l9xefgr  

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Russia: Rouble suffers steepest drop in 16 years

December 17, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"The rouble plunged more than 11 percent against the dollar on Tuesday in its steepest intraday fall since the Russian financial crisis in 1998 as confidence in the central bank evaporated after an ineffectual rate hike. The rouble opened around 10 percent stronger against the dollar after the central bank unexpectedly raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty 650 basis points to try and halt the currency's slide, but it reversed gains in volatile trade and repeatedly set new record lows." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kktved7  

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Hack the National Security Agency, not Sony

December 17, 2014
posted by

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

"The intelligence was obtained illegally. The hackers presented a threat to workers and their families. Foreign operatives likely were behind the document theft. Any news organizations that report this ill-gotten information are, if not un-American, surely 'morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable.' Are those the words of intelligence talking heads railing against National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden? No, they are the thoughts of screenwriter and 'Newsroom' creator Aaron Sorkin, who argued in the New York Times on Monday that news organizations should not print stories about purloined internal Sony corporate documents." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/om5rytq  

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Mars: Curiosity rover detects spikes of methane

December 17, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, has detected spikes of methane in the planet's atmosphere. That suggests something is producing or venting the scientifically tantalizing gas, but no one knows what. Most of Earth's atmospheric methane comes from animal and plant life, and the environment itself. So the Martian methane raises the question of past or present microbial life. Or the gas elevations could come from geological sources, comet impacts or something else entirely." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kdgrlen  

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Angelina Jolie: US must lead on torture policy

December 17, 2014
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Angelina Jolie has said the US must 'lead the way' against torture in its policies. 'Any country in a leading democracy must set an example,' she said. It comes after a report last week revealed the 'brutal' treatment of terror suspects by the CIA in its post-9/11 interrogation program. Jolie's latest film, Unbroken, tells of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini who was held as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War Two." (12/15/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-30477164  

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DC on collision course with Congress over marijuana

December 17, 2014
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Proponents for legal marijuana in the District of Columbia say they will fight on even as Congress on Monday sent a bill to the president’s desk that could neuter the city’s decision to legalize marijuana. Although nearly 70% of Washington DC voters cast ballots in favor of legalizing marijuana in November, congressional Republicans included a provision in a mammoth and divisive spending bill last week that would seriously impede the city’s ability to do so. When President Obama signs the bill into law, the provision will forbid the city from spending taxpayer dollars to enact the initiative." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q82g5tg  

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The bipartisan Cromnibus saga: A final assessment

December 17, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Robert Borosage  

"The government didn’t shut down. Congress passed the massive (1,603-page) spending bill, chock full of special interest giveaways, to keep the doors open. The Washington Post editorial page, the voice of the conservative establishment, acknowledges all the horrors -- but celebrates the results. ... The Post scorns the 'show horses' on the right (Ted Cruz) and left (Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi) for not knowing the difference between 'posturing and policy-making,' while hailing the 'work horses' (Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Steny Hoyer, both Maryland Democrats)." [editor's note: Anyone else recall when the last thing you'd have called the Post was "the voice of the conservative establishment"? - SAT] (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lng2ega  

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AZ: County to vote on proposed hiring ban on smokers

December 17, 2014
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"An Arizona county will decide as early as Tuesday whether to stop hiring smokers -- a controversial move that would freeze thousands of residents out of a county job but potentially save the local government money. The Pima County proposal could mark the start of local governments testing new limits on who they hire in a bid to save money. According to projections, the no-smokers proposal would save more than $1 million annually in health care costs. But it has sharply divided residents across the state. " (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q932val  

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Top five political predictions for 2015

December 17, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Bill Schneider  

"1. The Obama boom will finally arrive. Only it will be more like a boomlet. Americans have been waiting for the boom since they elected President Barack Obama in the teeth of the 2008 financial meltdown. ... It’s finally starting. 2. Populism will thrive, left and right, in the United States and in Europe. We saw it in Thursday night’s House budget vote that averted a government shutdown. Most Democrats defied Obama and voted 'no.' Their complaint? Populism.... Nearly a third of House Republicans also defied their party leaders and voted 'no.' Their complaint? Populism." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ng5elym  

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A bargain GOP & Dems could make on Obamacare

December 16, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"Since Congress just passed a budget and we are therefore at the dawn of a new era of bipartisan comity and compromise, I'd like to propose a trade, one that will allow both Democrats and Republicans to gain something significant without giving much up. The topic is the Affordable Care Act, and the trade is this: What if Republicans agree to pass a technical fix to address what it essentially a typo in the ACA, one that threatens to take insurance from millions of middle-class Americans, and in exchange, Democrats agree to repeal the ACA's employer mandate? Everybody would win." (12/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ndqwkqq  

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It’s okay to hate Republicans

December 16, 2014
posted by

Susan J Douglas In These Times
by Susan J. Douglas  

"I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal 'personhood.' This loathing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back
 in the 1970s, I worked for a Republican, Fred Lippitt, the senate minority leader in Rhode Island, and I loved him. He was a brand of Republican now extinct: a 'moderate' who was fiscally conservative but progressive about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation. Had he been closer to my age, I could have contemplated marrying someone like Fred. Today, marrying a Republican is unimaginable to me." [editor's note: From the description, Lippitt sounds a lot like a libertarian-leaning GOPer - SAT] (12/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p4yxeec  

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