Author Archive

Spare me the sermon, Houston

October 22, 2014
posted by

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J Saunders  

"If you believe Houston Mayor Annise Parker, then you have to believe that when lawyers for her city subpoenaed five local pastors and demanded their sermons, the episode represented an unfortunate instance of lawyer overreach, with no intent to harass or intimidate the opposition. This story begins in May when the Houston City Council passed by an 11-to-6 vote an equal rights ordinance that banned discrimination based on sex, race and national origin -- as well as sexual orientation and gender identity. Some local church leaders objected. They petitioned to put a measure on the ballot to repeal the ordinance." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nh6856p  

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CO: Udall lead fades in Senate race

October 22, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"One of the most watched elections in the country right now wasn't originally supposed to be competitive. The outcome of the race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, could end up determining which party controls the Senate. Senator Udall's early leads in the polls have dwindled until, in the past month, nearly every poll has showed Representative Gardner holding a slim lead." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nyo2bk9  

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Mitch McConnell will say anything for a ham

October 22, 2014
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Lee Fang  

"In an election that could propel Senator Mitch McConnell to become Senate majority leader (a position that would give him wide sway over climate change policy, including influence over the Environmental Protection Agency) the Kentucky politician declined to respond to a question earlier this month about whether he believes climate change is a real problem. 'I’m not a scientist,' McConnell responded in an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board. But earlier in his career, when McConnell played a pivotal role on behalf of the tobacco industry against increasing government regulation and taxes, the Republican leader believed he had enough scientific knowledge to question public-health officials." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pjrhlxd  

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Pulling the plug on corporate personhood

October 22, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Rob Richie  

"American democracy is reaching a breaking point, from failed winner-take-all voting rules to blatant attempts to suppress voter turnout. The rising torrent of campaign spending by the 1% has triggered particular outrage. Activists leapt into action after the Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United decision, which not only overturned a century of precedent that barred corporate money in American elections, but also enshrined corporations as non-human entities that have the same constitutional rights as people. Since Citizens United and other court rulings limit what can be done by statute, amending the constitution to overturn these rulings has become a major focus of activists." [editor's note: As usual, focusing on amending the constitution only guarantees nothing gets done on this for many years - SAT] (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o7sslsz  

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Report: US visa program for crime victims is hit-or-miss

October 22, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"The U visa program was created by Congress to help police and prosecutors build trust with immigrant communities. But national data analyzed by Reuters, along with dozens of interviews with police, prosecutors, lawyers and immigrants across the country, show that for undocumented immigrants ... who seek a U visa by helping the police, the chances of gaining a legal toehold in the United States are largely a matter of geography." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kpudtfm  

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Kasich begins ritual of self-flagellation

October 21, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"At Holy Cross-Immaculata church in Cincinnati, there's a Good Friday tradition called 'Praying the Steps,' in which parishioners slowly climb the 85 steps up to the church, saying a prayer on each step. It may take a while to get to the top, but that's the entire point of the exercise—the time and effort it takes is a symbol of one's devotion. Keep that in mind for a moment as we talk about that state's governor, John Kasich, and his complicated feelings about the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday, Governor Kasich went through a ritual that has grown no less absurd for being so familiar." (10/21/24)

http://tinyurl.com/ldss7dc  

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NY: CLU & Cuomo agree on defending poor

October 21, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his administration's agreement with the New York Civil Liberties Union to improve criminal defense for the state's poor addresses longstanding inequities. The agreement settles the lawsuit the NYCLU filed seven years ago, saying New York systemically provided inadequate staff and money for constitutionally required defense lawyers in the 57 counties outside New York City. Cuomo says his administration inherited the problem, saying he's proud of a resolution 'that results in a fairer, more humane justice system.' The suit sought attorneys at all arraignments, smaller caseloads and better funding, with the state taking over the county-based system." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mpnajsr  

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Islamic State’s rules of attraction

October 21, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by Peter Van Buren  

"The U.S. State Department is producing anti-Islamic State propaganda to persuade American and other would-be jihadis not to join the extremist group. It’s ham-handed, and often sarcastic, and unlikely to have the intended effect. Why? Because the department fails to understand how Islamic State attracts recruits in the first place. One way to make sense of all this is to look at the appeal of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA does not recruit members, it attracts them. Long experience suggests that people who impulsively make decisions that actually require a long-term commitment will almost certainly fail. ... And so with Islamic State. Islamic State propaganda pulls no punches." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/otspv3e  

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FL Court: Not so fast with those red-light camera tickets

October 21, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"Big changes could be coming to cities with red-light cameras after a Florida District Court of Appeals judge said it’s illegal for camera operators to issue citations to drivers. The program works like this: Cameras installed at traffic signals snap photos and are examined by the camera’s owner (not law enforcement) to determine whether a violation occurred. A citation is sent to the alleged violator. The driver has 60 days to appeal the ticket before it’s converted into a fine, just like any other citation issued by law enforcement officers." [editor's note: Don't get too excited; all this really does is make more work for the bureaucrats - SAT] (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mch9vyu  

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Senior regulator says bank CEOs meant well, documents say otherwise

October 21, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Richard Eskow  

"The head of one of Wall Street’s most important regulatory agencies argued recently that big-bank CEOs never intended to break the law or engage in foreclosure fraud. Instead, Thomas Curry of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency tells us they weren’t cautious enough. Internal documents obtained from a bank-backed venture several years ago seem to directly contradict this claim. These documents, which include training materials, PowerPoint presentations and videos, suggest that the industry made a conscious attempt to bypass local jurisdictions and automate processes -- in what can best be described as a fraud-friendly way." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ncwe63x  

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“Zombie glacier” surprises scientists, raises warming questions

October 21, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"Scientists tend to speak of glaciers as if they were living creatures. They say they grow and die and have good health and bad. Now, with Halloween approaching, a handful of researchers has found a way that the anthropomorphized rivers of ice that they study can simultaneously live and die as the globe warms. The discovery of a ghoulishly semi-lifeless glacier in southeastern Iceland doesn’t just create a new zombie class of frozen rivers of water. It raises questions about the accuracy of conventional approaches to measuring the growth and retreat of similar glaciers." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lp7w23w  

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AL: House Speaker arrested on felony charges

October 21, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"Powerful Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has been arrested on felony ethics charges, accused of using public office for personal gain. Hubbard was indicted by a grand jury on 23 charges accusing him of misusing his office as speaker and his previous post as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. Acting Attorney General Van Davis announced the indictment Monday. Hubbard says the charges, weeks before the November vote in which he's favored for re-election, constitute 'a political witch hunt.'" (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m4x6xm4  

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Why Republicans may still lose the Senate

October 21, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Bill Scher  

"While we shouldn’t assume the outcome in any of these close Senate races, it’s true that Republicans have inched ahead in many of the contested states where Democrats currently hold seats. However, it’s also true that Republicans have lost ground in the three states that nearly everyone assumed Republicans had in the bag: Georgia, Kansas and South Dakota. If the electorate was experiencing a swing to the right, this split dynamic wouldn’t be happening." [editor's note: Not sure why this "progressive" pundit cares about Gop misfortunes, but ... - SAT] (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qhqulyy  

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Canada: Researchers send Ebola vaccine to WHO for testing

October 21, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"The first batch of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Canadian scientists was sent to Switzerland on Monday for testing by the World Health Organization, officials said. Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the first of three shipments, comprising 800 vials of the vaccine, had been sent from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. The vials were packed in dry ice at a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit) during shipping, officials said. Trials of the vaccine on humans are expected to begin there at the end of the month or early in November." (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n4z6322  

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Being the “indispensable nation” is killing American democracy

October 21, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by Robert L. Borosage  

"America (proudly dubbed the 'indispensable nation' by its national-security managers) is now the entangled nation enmeshed in conflicts across the globe. President Barack Obama, scorned by his Republican critics as an 'isolationist' who wants to 'withdraw from the world,' is waging the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan, boasts of toppling the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, launches airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State and picks targets for drones to attack in as many as eight countries, while dispatching planes to the Russian border in reaction to its machinations in Ukraine, and a fleet to the South China Sea as the conflict over control of islands and waters escalates between China and its neighbors." [editor's note: This translates better as "Becoming an empire-state is killing American liberty" - SAT] (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n9e3h5j  

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GAO report: Thousands of government workers on paid leave

October 21, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"Thousands of federal workers who have been put on administrative leave for more than a month have been allowed to collect a paycheck, accrue vacation days and pensions benefits while taxpayers were forced to foot the $775 million bill, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Some government employees who broke the rules (meaning they were cited for being untrustworthy or had ongoing issues with co-workers or their bosses) were allowed to remain on leave for large chunks of time while they challenged their demotions, the 62-page report said. The study, released publicly on Monday, marks the first time auditors have taken a look at the scope of administrative leave and its cost to taxpayers." (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nrytpxh  

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What would elections be like if everyone voted?

October 21, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"Imagine, if you would, an election in which almost everyone turned out to vote. Campaigns would have to reorient their persuasion efforts, because they'd have to talk to everyone. It wouldn't matter whether it was a presidential year or a midterm year. All the time, money, and effort that goes into identifying potential voters, making sure they're registered, and then getting them to the polls would no longer be needed. And of course, people like me wouldn't be able to spend months talking about which voters were going to turn out and which ones weren't." [editor's note: Imagine, if you would, a world in which we all don't have to vote because Paul Waldman thinks we should ... - TLK] (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p6thafk  

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Fed official: Banks should defer bonuses 10 years, tap them for fines

October 21, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"Banks should defer bonus payments for 10 years and tap the bonus pool to pay any regulatory fines, a top Federal Reserve official said on Monday, taking aim at continued lapses across the industry even after the 2007-9 financial crisis. New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley said banks should move toward paying employees in debt securities for their annual incentive pay, rather than in equity. Dudley's sharp comments came at the end of a one-day conference held by the New York Fed, titled, 'Workshop on Reforming Culture and Behavior in the Financial Services Industry.'" [editor's note: Has this guy got a deathwish? - SAT] (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q6rdjbk  

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Jerry Brown: Caucus of one

October 20, 2014
posted by

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

"I know Republicans who voted for Jerry Brown in 2010. They thought he’d be like Nixon going to China and stand up to public-employee unions by fixing a dysfunctional pension system. They thought he’d live up to his pose as elder sage, ready to do what’s best for the state. After he won a return engagement as governor, Brown liked to bloviate about the need for elected officials to demonstrate 'loyalty to California.' I don’t think he really understands what loyalty is." (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q6qa3or  

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LA: Rich white suburbs wants to split from Baton Rouge

October 20, 2014
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"More than 18,000 residents in the suburbs south of Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana, have signed a petition calling for the creation of a new city called St George. The community is currently part of East Baton Rouge Parish, which also includes the city of Baton Rouge itself. The campaigners claim they simply want to improve the quality of local schools and to ensure that taxpayers (who currently contribute roughly two thirds of funds to the parish) have more control over the money they contribute to fund services." (10/20/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29666348  

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Black-brown alliance turning Kansas blue

October 20, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Sam Ross-Brown  

"Heading into the November elections, you could be forgiven for assuming the GOP hold on Kansas isn’t going to loosen. The home base of the Koch brothers, the state has become a poster child of Tea Party Republicanism, toeing the far-right line on voter ID laws, abortion restrictions and a host of other issues. In 2012, the National Journal rated the congressional delegation from Kansas as the most conservative in the country -- and that was before a Koch-funded campaign succeeded in ousting moderate Republicans in that year’s primaries. ... But in the lead-up to November, Kansas’s red-state armor began to show some cracks." (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kfmnzpv  

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“Breaking Bad” action figure: Good idea for Toys ‘R’ Us?

October 20, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"What happens when a toy store dedicated to helping 'kids and babies develop, learn, and be safe' starts selling hazmat-suited action figures who cook crystal meth? A pop culture phenomenon collides with concerns that children are being exposed to violent and inappropriate content too early. Earlier this month, one Florida mother started an online petition to get Toys 'R' Us to remove 'Breaking Bad' action figures from its shelves. Now, her campaign is gathering media attention, with appearances on local TV as well as NBC's 'Today' show." (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mfaa6tu  

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Work-sharing: Socialist alternative to layoffs?

October 20, 2014
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Michelle Chen  

"Work-sharing is a simple concept: When employers try to cut costs, shrinking the payroll is a quick way to cut back not only on wages but on fringe benefits and related taxes. Employers often make the cruel calculation to replace current workers with cheaper ones, or to reduce their hours. Work-sharing tries to reconfigure the distribution of work and employment by subsidizing employment costs in exchange for reduced work time. So people work less, but get an income supplement to help offset the impact." [editor's note: She insists on labeling it "socialist;" I'd call it common sense - SAT] (10/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/llgxzjr  

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Lessons from Gandhi’s salt march

October 20, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Mark Engler & Paul Engler  

"History remembers Mohandas Gandhi’s Salt March as one of the great episodes of resistance in the past century and as a campaign which struck a decisive blow against British imperialism. In the early morning of March 12, 1930, Gandhi and a trained cadre of 78 followers from his ashram began a march of more than 200 miles to the sea. Three and a half weeks later, on April 5, surrounded by a crowd of thousands, Gandhi waded into the edge of the ocean, approached an area on the mud flats where evaporating water left a thick layer of sediment, and scooped up a handful of salt." (10/17/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17236/how_did_gandhi_win  

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Teddy Roosevelt v. Citizens United

October 20, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by Jim Gaines  

"How is it possible that, given overwhelming public concern about the direction of the country, we could be facing historically low turnout in the midterm elections on Nov. 4? The question isn’t new. As trust in government has swung up and down in the past half century, turnout for midterm races, as in presidential years, has varied relatively little, each staying within a 10-point range. Studies of nonvoters have found many reasons, but one of the big ones is that people know a single vote rarely if ever determines the outcome of an election. By this reasoning, of course, why would anyone ever vote?" (10/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kfrmlxh  

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