Author Archive

Cigarettes hazardous, but some lawmakers worse

June 30, 2016
posted by

Town Hall
by Jeff Jacoby  

"In Hawaii and California, the minimum age for buying cigarettes was raised recently to 21. Now Massachusetts lawmakers, addicted to the rush that comes from limiting other people's choices, are keen to jump on the bandwagon. A bill banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone younger than 21 (and, for good measure, making it a crime to sell cigarettes in drugstores) passed the state Senate by an overwhelming vote last month. The bill is now before a House committee; it could reach the full House for a vote in a matter of days. Soon after the Fourth of July, adults in Massachusetts who smoke or who do business with smokers can expect to have less freedom than they have right now. Happy Independence Day. ... Today, smoking is at an all-time low in the United States, down to just 14.9 percent in a Centers for Disease Control survey released in November. Among teens, smoking is rarer still." (06/29/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/jeffjacoby/2016/06/29/cigarettes-are-hazardous-but-some-lawmakers-are-worse-n2185422  

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Two transgender Democrats nominated in Western GOP strongholds

June 30, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Democrats in some of the reddest pockets of the interior West have nominated transgender women for Congress, sending a message of inclusivity in races many consider unwinnable for the party. Misty Snow was nominated Tuesday in Utah to challenge GOP U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, and Misty Plowright won a primary to challenge Republican Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn in the state's most conservative congressional district. Both candidates are downplaying gender identity in their primary contests. 'Yeah, I'm trans, but the simple fact of the matter is that a lot of people just don't care,' said Plowright, 33, a first-time candidate who decided to run after attending Democratic presidential caucuses earlier this year and being inspired by the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders." (06/29/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/politics/article/2-transgender-Democrats-nominated-in-Western-GOP-8332670.php  

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The Supreme Court is moving left, here’s why

June 30, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by William Yeomans  

"The U.S. Supreme Court’s strange 2015 term ended this week in a flurry of dysfunction on difficult issues (the inability to rule on President Barack Obama’s immigration orders), interspersed with predictable decisions (the unanimous stay-out-of-jail pass for the unethical but no longer felonious former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell). Most intriguingly, though, the term marked the emergence of a leftward-leaning Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy, soon to be 80 years old, has sat at the center of the nine-member conservative court since the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2005. He still retains his status as the deciding vote -- but on this new, more liberal, if diminished court. We may also be witnessing a phenomenon that conservatives have railed against for years: the gradual liberalization of justices as they age. In recent years, Justices Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens and David Souter, all Republican appointees, moved consistently left with advancing age." (06/28/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-supreme-court-commentary-idUSKCN0ZE2LR  

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World War 2 Jewish escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuania’s Ponar forest

June 30, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"A tunnel dug out with spoons by Jewish prisoners escaping Nazi captors in World War Two has been uncovered in Lithuania's Ponar forest. The prisoners were from the so-called Burning Brigade, who were forced to burn corpses to cover up Nazi atrocities as the Soviets advanced. Knowing they too would be killed, they dug a tunnel in a pit where they were kept. Eleven escapees survived the war. A research team used a ground-scanning system to map out the tunnel. The exact location of the 34m (112ft) tunnel had been lost since the end of the war, but the international team, including the Israel Antiquities Authority and researchers from the US, Canada and Lithuania, have now located it." (06/29/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36664806  

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Mexico: President explains comparing Trump to Hitler, Mussolini

June 30, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"Pena Nieto warned of the dangers of populism in a globalized world. 'Hitler, Mussolini, we all know the result,' he said when asked to explain the comparison. 'It was only a call for reflection and for recognition, so that we bear in mind what we have achieved and the great deal still to achieve.' The presumptive Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election, Trump has sparked outrage in Mexico with his campaign vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to make Mexico pay for it. In March, Pena Nieto likened Trump's 'strident tone' to the ascent of dictators like Hitler and Mussolini, attacking the 'populism' of the Trump campaign, which he said sought to put forward simple solutions for complicated problems." (06/29/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-canada-pena-nieto-idUSKCN0ZF2JD  

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Gary Johnson, the choice for the morally conflicted

June 30, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Matthew Tully  

"America is peppered with conflicted Republicans -- loyal members of the Grand Old Party who simply cannot tolerate the notion of voting for Donald Trump, but who also find the idea of casting a ballot for Hillary Clinton unimaginable, if not sacrilegious. It’s a quandary for many of you. If you’re among those in this political black hole, I feel for you. And, so, today I am here to help. I’ll do that by introducing my troubled Republican friends to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president. He’s a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico and, thanks to this year’s political discontent, he notched a head-turning 10% in a recent national poll." [editor's note: We libertarians have an interesting dilemma, whether to object to the limited aspects of Johnson's libertarian parts, or to offer the general public an option far beyond what they think they have - SAT] (06/29/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2016/06/29/gary-johnson-libertarian-republican-party-candidate-column/86504536  

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MI: Charges dismissed against graffiti artist Shepard Fairey in Detroit

June 30, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"A judge in Detroit has dismissed charges against famed street artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the 2008 Barack Obama 'Hope' poster, who was accused last year of defacing several properties in the city, local media reported on Wednesday. The office of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway confirmed she granted on June 21 a motion to dismiss the charges filed by Fairey’s attorney, Bradley J. Friedman, according to the Detroit News. Hathaway, Detroit city attorneys, Friedman and Fairey could not be immediately reached for comment. Fairey, 46, was accused of two counts of malicious destruction of property, each punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000." (06/29/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/06/charges-dismissed-against-graffiti-artist-shepard-fairey-in-detroit  

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Obama: Trump ideas “nativist or xenophobic … or worse”

June 30, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"Donald Trump was not at the 'Three Amigos' summit of North American leaders Wednesday, but his presence hung over the continental conference anyway. The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico took turns rebutting the Republican presidential candidate's proposals on trade and immigration. As they met in Ottawa, Trump was 340 miles away in Bangor, Maine, promising to build a wall at the Mexican border and get the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement that forms the basis of economic cooperation among the three countries. In what he himself called a press conference-ending 'rant,' President Obama took a whack at Trump's populist credentials, painting the billionaire real estate mogul as part of the global elite." (06/29/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/06/29/three-amigos-trump-trade-immigration-north-american-summit/86525134  

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The first post-middle-class election

June 30, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Harold Meyerson  

"Two years ago, a pollster for Democratic candidates told me he’d begun advising his clients to cease emphasizing 'the middle class' when speaking of those Americans whose interests they were defending. Many Americans who once thought of themselves as middle-class, he argued, no longer did. Last year, a Pew Research Center survey confirmed those Americans’ assessment. The share of income going to middle-class Americans declined from 62 percent in 1970 to 43 percent in 2014, while the share going to upper-income households rose from 29 percent to 49 percent. The erosion of middle-class America has been afoot for 40 years, but it was the financial crisis of 2008 and the tepid recovery that followed it that have shaken American politics to its foundations." [editor's note: This long, rather didactic history lesson lacks perspective beyond the War Party's two wings (no mention of either LP or GP, or their possible effect), but is otherwise readable - SAT] (06/29/16)

http://prospect.org/article/first-post-middle-class-election-0  

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NJ: Third-grader’s comment on baked goods triggers 911 call

June 30, 2016
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"Police were called to a New Jersey elementary school after a 9-year-old boy made a disparaging comment about the brownies he was eating at an end-of-year class party. According to the Philadelphia Enquirer, another student interpreted the comments as 'racist' and -- instead of just punishing the student with detention, or calling his parents, or just explaining what he did wrong (if anything at all) -- the school turned to law enforcement. The cops didn’t press charges but still reported the incident to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection. This is not an isolated incident in the school district. The police were called about five times a day in the past month for a district of 1,875 students." (06/29/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/29/third-graders-innocent-comment-on-baked-goods-triggers-911-call.html  

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Elizabeth Warren, Hillary’s most rational choice for VP

June 29, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler  

"Nearly all reports from the Hillary Clinton brain trust suggest Senator Tim Kaine is the runaway favorite to be the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2016. There are soft spots in this consensus. For instance, the Clinton campaign is apparently not 100 percent convinced that Donald Trump will walk away from next month’s convention in Cleveland as the Republican nominee. Clinton’s allies think there’s a small but real chance she’ll be running against a candidate who isn’t fatally flawed himself (or mortally wounded for having deposed Trump). If that did happen, a more electric candidate might rocket to the top of her short list." [editor's note: Some say this would destroy the last vestige of credibility for Warren for a 2020 run; I frankly don't give a crap either way - SAT] (06/29/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/134726/elizabeth-warren-hillary-clintons-rational-choice-vp  

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Banning the box is not nearly enough

June 29, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Lewis M Steel  

"At last, the United States is taking steps to reduce its enormous prison population. With 2.5 million people behind bars, we are the world’s largest jailer. Sentencing reform to reduce mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes starts to address this problem. But for those who have been incarcerated, punishment doesn’t end with prison: 70 million Americans are burdened with some form of criminal record that jeopardizes their ability to find a job and re-enter society. When employers learn applicants have prison records, rejection is often swift. Because African Americans and Latinos suffer a disproportionately high percentage of arrests and convictions, their rejection rates are even higher." (06/29/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19188/banning-the-box-is-not-nearly-enough  

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Rolling Stone wins dismissal of defamation lawsuit over rape article

June 29, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by three former University of Virginia fraternity members who accused Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher Wenner Media and a journalist of defamation over a since retracted article describing a gang rape. U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan said details about the attackers in the November 2014 article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely were "too vague and remote" to make readers, family and friends believe that the plaintiffs George Elias IV, Ross Fowler and Stephen Hadford had a role in the alleged rape. 'In the plaintiffs' own words, any "apparent connection between the plaintiffs and the allegations is an (unfortunate) coincidence,"' Castel wrote. Erdely's article, 'A Rape on Campus,' described a September 2012 rape of a female student named Jackie at the university's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house." (06/28/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sexcrimes-lawsuit-idUSKCN0ZE2PF  

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FL: Police release new narrative report detailing Orlando horror

June 29, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"An incident narrative of 911 calls, texts and related information released Tuesday by the city of Orlando reflects the horror of a gunman's reign of terror that left 49 people dead at the Pulse nightclub June 12. The first 911 call came in at 2:02:54 a.m., according to the fire department's report, which identifies the incident as 'unknown trouble.' Three seconds later, the report cites 'shots fired' and seven seconds later 'shots still being fired.' Within three minutes the report merges multiple calls to build a narrative. One caller is hiding in a closet, another 'upstairs.' The report notes that a caller is whispering and that multiple people can be heard screaming. Several times over several minutes the report says gunshots can be heard." (06/28/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/06/28/police-narrative-details-orlando-horror/86470750  

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Fascists against freedom, unite

June 29, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"Everyone expects neo-Nazis to be thuggish and simpleminded. They're losers who need a movement that tells them they are winners, so they troll for grievances and battles from which they can emerge as both morally superior and victims. They hate freedom. Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach even wrote a piece, 'I Hate Freedom,' in which he explained, 'Freedom is a word and a concept that everyone loves and enjoys because of the license that it gives us as a society; that is why freedom failed and that is why freedom must die.' Like I said, white supremacists are losers." (06/28/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/06/28/fascists-against-freedom-unite-n2184178  

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On demand, and demanding their rights

June 29, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Steven Greenhouse  

"Travis Kalanick, Uber’s founder, recently recalled that when he first started the company seven years ago, 'it was easy to communicate with the handful of drivers using the app.' Uber’s marketing manager called each of the drivers regularly, Kalanick said, 'to get their feedback and make sure things were working well.' Nowadays, Uber has far more than a handful of drivers -- it has more than 400,000 in the United States alone, and many drivers complain that Uber’s managers no longer listen to them to make sure things are working well. 'They do whatever they want,' said Bigu Haider, an Uber driver in New York who is furious at Uber over fare cuts and other moves that have reduced his income. 'I don’t see any voice for the drivers.'” [editor's note: At some point, if you are not someone else's "employee," you have to deal with life as it is and how you create it; musicians and other artists have done this for generations, ever since "patronage" went out of style - SAT] (06/28/16)

http://prospect.org/article/demand-and-demanding-their-rights  

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Germany: Court restarts trial after judge repeatedly nods off

June 29, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"A German court had to restart the trial of two men suspected of robbing a grocery store because a judge kept nodding off during the proceedings. The Muenster state court told the dpa news agency on Tuesday that the presiding judge decided it was better to start things over than provide immediate grounds for an appeal. German trials are typically heard by a panel of five judges: three professionals and two lay judges. In this case, it was one of the lay judges who couldn't stay awake on Monday. Fortunately, it was the first day of the trial and it was able to start again from scratch after an alternate judge took his place." (06/28/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/German-court-restarts-trial-after-judge-8328973.php  

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Conservatives have groomed perfect suckers for Trump’s epic scam

June 29, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"In 2000, Donald Trump boldly told Fortune magazine, 'It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.' Sixteen years later, he’s structured an entire presidential campaign around making good on that boast. While Trump is turning out to be a disaster for the Republican Party, the real estate magnate is pretty much guaranteed to come out richer. That was the plan all along. And conservative voters, conditioned by decades of right-wing politicians and media exploiting and enhancing their gullibility, make the perfect victims for his ruse." (06/28/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/134667/conservatives-groomed-perfect-suckers-trumps-epic-scam  

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Science: Helium discovery “a game-changer”

June 29, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Scientists have discovered a large helium gas field in Tanzania. With world supplies running out, the find is a 'game-changer,' say geologists at Durham and Oxford universities. Helium is used in hospitals in MRI scanners, as well as in spacecraft, telescopes and radiation monitors. Until now, the precious gas has been discovered only in small quantities during oil and gas drilling. Using a new exploration approach, researchers found large quantities of helium within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley. They say resources in just one part of the Rift valley are enough to fill more than a million medical MRI scanners." [editor's note: A gas field of helium? Can you go to Tanzania now, and walk around singing like a Munchkin? - SAT] (06/28/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36651048  

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In Gaza, the drones never sleep

June 29, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Nancy Kricorian  

"Israel’s 'Operation Protective Edge' rained death and destruction on the besieged population of the Gaza Strip for 50 days between July 7 and August 26, 2014. More than 1,400 civilians, including more than 500 children and 250 women, were killed. The maimed and wounded topped 11,000, and over 18,000 housing units were totally destroyed or severely damaged. Reading such a list of statistics of casualties during war can outrage and horrify if one identifies with those who are killed (or simply identifies them as fully human). Feminist philosopher Judith Butler, in her book Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, writes about war as a time when lives are divided into those considered fully human (and thus grievable) and those that are not." (06/28/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19189/in-gaza-drones-never-sleep  

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Our five Benghazi conclusions

June 28, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Mike Pompeo & Jim Jordan  

"On Sept. 11, 2012, as fire engulfed the State Department’s temporary mission facility in Benghazi, Libya, the survivors and a CIA security team who had come to their rescue made a desperate dash for a CIA annex located nearby. From there they would fend off a continued and determined jihadist attack. Despite heroic efforts that night, four Americans lost their lives. For the first time in more than 30 years, a U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, was assassinated. Another State Department employee, Sean Smith, was also killed. Two former Navy Seals who worked for the CIA, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, died defending their fellow Americans at the annex." (06/28/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/06/28/benghazi-obama-administration-clinton-state-department-politics-justice-report-committee-ambassador-susan-rice-white-house-column/86469702  

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Hawking on AI dangers: “We’re not getting any less greedy or stupid”

June 28, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has a few thing to say about the future of humanity and the development of artificial intelligence, and he wasn’t feeling optimistic. Hawking was interviewed by Larry King on Monday. 'Governments seem to be engaged in an AI arms race,' Hawking told King. 'Designing planes and weapons with intelligent technologies. The funding for projects directly beneficial to the human race, such as improved medical screening seems a somewhat lower priority.' The way that AI can be influenced by humans became painfully clear earlier this year when Microsoft’s chatbot, dubbed 'Tay,' had to be taken off line because she had learned to spew foul language and racist hatred from Twitter users." (06/28/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/06/stephen-hawking-warns-about-artificial-intelligence-in-the-near-future-were-not-getting-any-less-greedy-or-stupid  

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ANOTHER corp suing USA Inc thanks to trade agreements

June 28, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future    

"A Canadian corporation is suing the us because we wouldn’t let them build a pipeline across our country (seizing people’s property along the way) so they could sell oil to China. They can do this because we signed a trade agreement that places corporate rights above our democracy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would increase by an order of magnitude the companies that can sue us for hurting their profits by protecting the environment, consumers, public health and small businesses. TransCanada Corporation is suing the U.S. government (us) for $15 billion in damages under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rules. The company wanted to build the Keystone pipeline all the way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico so they could ship oil to China. They also wanted to use 'eminent domain' to seize land from ranchers, farmers and other property owners along the way to enable this." [editor's note: Mr. Johnson's title used "our government;" I prefer my designation - SAT] (06/28/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160628/another-corporation-suing-our-government-thanks-to-trade-agreements  

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SCOTUS declines to hear “morning after pill” case

June 28, 2016
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday narrowly rejected an appeal over whether a private pharmacy can be forced by the state to dispense the so-called 'morning after' pill, in effect refusing to expand its look into a religious liberty fight and certain reproductive health services. At issue is a 2005 Washington state order that a family-owned pharmacy in Olympia provide so-called emergency Plan B contraception (including morning-after and even week-after pills) that the business owners equate to abortion, in violation of their closely held religious beliefs. While the official vote total was not released, at least three justices dissented on the decision not to intervene. Justice Samuel Alito strongly dissented, saying the signal from the court was clear: 'Violate your sincerely held religious beliefs or get out of the pharmacy business.'" [editor's note: If your "sincerely held religious beliefs" include denying medicine to a customer, you should clearly find another job! - SAT] (06/28/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/06/28/supreme-court-declines-to-hear-religious-liberty-case.html  

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More Clinton emails released, including some she deleted

June 28, 2016
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"An additional 165 pages of emails from Hillary Clinton's time at the State Department surfaced Monday, including nearly three dozen that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee failed to hand over last year that were sent through her private server. The latest emails were released under court order by the State Department to the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch. The batch includes 34 new emails Clinton exchanged through her private account with her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin. The aide, who also had a private email account on Clinton's home server, later gave her copies to the government. The emails were not among the 55,000 pages of work-related messages that Clinton turned over to the agency in response to public records lawsuits seeking copies of her official correspondence. They include a March 2009 message where the then-secretary of state discusses how her official records would be kept." [editor's note: Tick, tick, tick ... -SAT] (06/27/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/06/27/more-clinton-emails-released-including-some-deleted.html  

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