Author Archive

CA: Cleanup effort under way after oil spill stains Santa Barbara beach

May 22, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Cleanup teams labored on Thursday for a third day to remove patches of crude petroleum that stained a California beach and fouled offshore waters from a pipeline rupture that may rank as the biggest oil spill to hit the Santa Barbara coastline in more than four decades. Working around the clock, about 300 people on the beach were scooping up globs of oil from the sand and raking tar balls. Crews will also scrub soiled rocks and hose down contaminated areas, Coast Guard Captain Jennifer Williams said." (05/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lard49q  

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The uses and abuses of GDP

May 22, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Edward Hadas  

"Gross Domestic Product can be a good tool to help central bankers, corporate leaders and investors. But it should be kept in its proper place. The basic idea behind this measure is stupidly simple. Add up all purchases of goods and services that are not going to be resold in a national economy over a fixed period. That sum provides a straightforward and intuitive measure of the size of an economy. Changes in the sum are good indicators of where the economy is going. The simple, stupid idea is useless without some complicated intelligence. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis needs more than 400 pages to outline the necessary heroic assumptions and dubious approximations which go into the calculation." (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m5xrw6z  

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Russia: Censor warns Google, Twitter and Facebook

May 22, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"Russia's media watchdog has written to Google, Twitter and Facebook warning them against violating Russian Internet laws and a spokesman said on Thursday they risk being blocked if they do not comply with the rules. Roskomnadzor said it had sent letters this week to the three U.S.-based Internet firms asking them to comply with Internet laws which critics of President Vladimir Putin have decried as censorship. 'In our letters we regularly remind (companies) of the consequences of violating the legislation,' said Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky. He added that, because of the encryption technology used by the three firms, Russia had no way of blocking specific websites and so could only bring down particular content it deemed in violation of law by blocking access to their whole services." (05/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lnly9q9  

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The left matters — now, more than ever

May 22, 2015
posted by

Richard Eskow Our Future Blog
by Richard Eskow  

"Some leading Democrats seem to have a love-hate relationship with the left. Sure, progressives seem to have more influence than ever in the party this year, at least rhetorically. But it doesn’t look like the friction will be going away any time soon. President Obama has been escalating his war of words with Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] and her allies, reigniting a burning resentment he last let slip in 2010. Hillary Clinton has adopted more progressive rhetoric, but her unwillingness to fight for specific policies has left activists frustrated. Clearly, the left matters. Why, then, is it so difficult for progressives to get a seat at the table?" (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mxmcqvt  

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Judge: Gay couples across Alabama have right to marry

May 22, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"A federal judge has ruled that gays and lesbians have the right to marry in all Alabama counties, but placed her decision on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on same-sex marriage. U.S District Judge Callie Granade said Thursday that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and enjoined probate judges from enforcing it. However, she stayed enforcement of her order citing the expected decision this summer. Granade in January ruled that Alabama's gay marriage ban was illegal. Gay couples married for three weeks until the state Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop. The latest ruling came in a class-action lawsuit by gay couples across the state." (05/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lsvwosa  

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Macedonia: “Bombs,” protests, terrorist threats?

May 22, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"The tiny Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia tends not to be a newsmaker. But the Vermont-sized country, tucked away in the southern Balkans, is currently the site of Europe's biggest political scandal, involving secret tapes of government wrongdoing, mass protests in the capital, and threats of ethnic-Albanian terrorists plotting to attack civilian and state targets. Here's what you need to know. Since February, the Macedonian opposition, led by Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev, has been accusing the country’s prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, of orchestrating a wiretapping program to spy on more than 20,000 people across the country. And Mr. Zaev has offered proof in the form of 'the bombs,' the nickname of a series of leaked conversations allegedly recorded by the program that reveal government involvement in a variety of misdeeds." (05/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/l6pt7f7  

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Is NSA’s dragnet surveillance program in its final hours?

May 22, 2015
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Zoe Carpenter  

"Congress is up against a tight deadline to extend or reform Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision that the government claims authorizes the National Security Agency’s phone data program, before it sunsets on June 1. Naturally, the legislature is in a state of disarray. The House has already passed the USA Freedom Act, which would put modest limits on the intelligence agency for the first time in decades. Now the Senate is under pressure to act before lawmakers leave for recess Thursday afternoon. If they do nothing, Section 215 will expire hours before they return to Washington, imperiling not only the phone records program but whatever other still-secret intelligence gathering activities the government conducts under the statute." (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lhwfn5t  

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If Obama really wants to close Guantanamo …

May 22, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Daphne Eviatar  

"When President Barack Obama announced his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center on his second day in office, he sounded serious. He was flanked by more than a dozen retired military leaders, who’d all urged him to close the facility because it had become a virtual recruitment tool for terrorists and a stain on the United States’ reputation for upholding human rights and the rule of law. Obama also had the support of national-security experts across the political spectrum when he signed his historic executive order. More than six years later, the U.S. facility in Cuba is still open. The primary reason is that ever since the president made it a priority to close Guantanamo, congressional Republicans made it a priority to keep it open. They’ve even stepped up their efforts while writing the annual defense authorization bill this year." (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/k96qkwt  

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States move to pre-approve what food stamps can buy

May 22, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"In the long-running campaign by Republican-led states to rein in food stamp abuses and curb the now-$74 billion program, lawmakers are trying a new approach: Restricting what foods can and can't be on a family's grocery list. The move is controversial, with critics accusing GOP lawmakers of playing food police to further burden people already struggling. But proponents say the idea is not to punish people -- but promote healthy lifestyles by curbing the junk food they're buying with the government's help. 'It’s not meant to shame anyone or be punitive,' Wisconsin state Rep. Robert Brooks said. Brooks is pushing a bill -- which last week cleared the state Assembly -- limiting what foods could be purchased under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program." (05/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mfxleas  

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NSA reform bill has gaping holes

May 22, 2015
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Anthony D. Romero & Matt Kibbe  

"Earlier this month, a federal appeals court took a close look at the National Security Agency's collection and data-mining of Americans' phone records and concluded that the program was unlawful. Rather than stop it, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit noted that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision the NSA relies on for the program, would sunset on June 1. So the court decided to let Congress determine whether Section 215 should die, be revised, or extended without alteration." (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/letzu9l  

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Boy Scouts’ chief: Ban on gay adults “unsustainable”

May 22, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The head of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has said that the organisation's long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults is unsustainable. Robert Gates said no changes would be made at the meeting, but opened the door to a future policy review. The former US Defence Secretary cited defiant chapters, possible legal challenges and other developments related to gay rights in the US. Gay rights groups have welcomed Mr Gates' comments. 'The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained,' Robert Gates said at the group's annual meeting in Atlanta." (05/21/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32833797  

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How austerity killed the humanities

May 21, 2015
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Andrew Hartman  

"In the 1980s and 1990s, debates over the humanities were a major component of American political discourse. On the one side were conservative traditionalists who believed that all American college students should read the Western Canon (the greatest books of the Western mind since Aristotle) as a foundation for democratic living. On the other side were academic multiculturalists who believed that a humanities education should be more comprehensive and should thus include texts authored by minority, female, and non-western writers." [editor's note: Interesting debate, but kind of pranged by the fact that at no time in the period under discussion has anything even remotely resembling "austerity" been on the government spending table, let alone actually implemented - TLK] (05/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ljhjtfm  

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Grand theft automated

May 21, 2015
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner  

"The day after the New York Times published its stunning two-part expose of labor conditions in New York City's nail salons, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, nobody's idea of a radical, discovered that he was sitting on power that he didn't know he had. Cuomo ordered a crackdown against a broad pattern of thefts of wages that were hidden in plain view, had he bothered to look. Cuomo's new efforts will collaborate with an enforcement initiative by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, two officials who don't like each other and seldom work together." (05/18/15)

http://prospect.org/article/grand-theft-automated  

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McDonald’s workers protest share buyback scheme

May 21, 2015
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future Blog
by Dave Johnson  

"In April we saw the largest-ever strike against the fast-food industry. There were walkouts in 236 cities, including strikes and protests in 40 countries. Now on Wednesday we will see the largest-ever workers’ protests at the McDonald’s shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois. Workers will be protesting the stock manipulation scheme that McDonald’s’ executives are using to loot the company at the expense of its employees. It used to be illegal for a company to manipulate its stock price. Now it’s common. Instead of using profits to invest in the future, companies are paying ridiculously low wages, downsizing, outsourcing, offshoring, cutting R&D, deferring maintenance and improvements, and borrowing money and using the proceeds to purchase their own stock. Guess who gets rich when their stock goes up." (05/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/l7adlas  

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Singling out Stephanopoulos misses the point

May 21, 2015
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Kirsten Powers  

"ABC News' chief anchor George Stephanopoulos has been embroiled in a scandal after he failed to disclose $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation before grilling Peter Schweizer, the author of a book critical of the foundation. The former Clinton aide accused the author of having a 'partisan interest' in writing the book due in part to his four month stint as a George W. Bush speech writer. This is an open-and-shut case: Stephanopoulos should never have conducted this interview without revealing his connection to the foundation. But does anyone actually believe that had he not made the donations, the interview would have gone differently?" (05/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m3rpwp8  

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Airbus A400M plane crash linked to software fault

May 21, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Investigators have found evidence a military plane crash in Spain may have been caused by software problems. The Airbus A400M crashed near Seville, on 9 May, after a failed emergency landing during its first flight. The four crew members on board were killed in the accident. A spokesman for the European planemaker told the BBC that its engineers had since discovered anomalies in the aircraft's data logs that could be relevant to the accident. It has sent out an alert to other air forces that have taken deliveries of the propeller aircraft, saying that they should carry out checks of the Electronic Control Units (ECU) on board." (05/20/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32810273  

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Study: Freshman year key to preventing college rape

May 21, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"A study released Wednesday details the prevalence of rape experienced by first-year college women. It also shows the degree to which sexual victimization before college increases the likelihood of being raped in college. The findings can add new layers of understanding to sexual assault policies and prevention work under way on college campuses, public health experts say. They may also bolster a growing chorus of advocates who say students at much younger ages need to start learning about forging healthy relationships and standing up to cultural norms that perpetuate rape." (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ltswt9q  

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US drug thugs assault clinics, pharmacies in “pill mill” crackdown

May 21, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Authorities raided medical clinics, pharmacies and other locations across the South on Wednesday as part of a Drug Enforcement Administration attempt to thwart illegal prescription drug sales. The raids in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi were the latest stage of an operation launched last summer by the Drug Enforcement Administration's drug diversion unit, which has now netted 280 arrests over more than a year, including 22 doctors and pharmacists. 'We have people who have taken an oath to do no harm who are throwing that oath out the window,' DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Brown said after the early morning raids.' [editor's note: If there is a legit purpose for this gestapo agency (not saying there is), this might be one of them - SAT] (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kcbds5l  

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That’s billion, with a bee: Measuring the massive cost of hive collapse

May 20, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Amy Tennery  

"In farming, technology will only take you so far. GPS can help drive automated harvesters around the fields, satellites help to ensure the right crops get planted at the right time. But if you want your crops to grow, you’ll have to rely on something a little more old-fashioned: honey bees. And they’re dying in enormous numbers. The makers of insecticides containing neonics, Bayer and Syngenta chief among them, have a lot to lose if regulatory bodies end up siding with the environmentalists. More than 90 percent of the corn in the U.S. is treated with neonics." (05/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/muheeve  

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CA: CMA drops opposition to doctor-assisted suicide

May 20, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The California Medical Association on Wednesday dropped its three-decade opposition to physician-assisted suicide, possibly paving the way for already-introduced legislation that would make the practice legal for terminally ill patients in the state. The CMA said its change to neutral on the issue marked the first by a state medical association. It comes amid renewed debate over doctor-assisted suicide following the death of brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard (pictured above) last fall. The American Medical Association remains opposed to doctors participating in assisted suicide, saying in a policy statement on its website that doing so was fundamentally incompatible with a doctor’s role as a healer, would be difficult to control and posed “serious societal risks.”" (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kgf4n6q  

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Cuba: US embassy likely to operate in “restrictive” environment

May 20, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"A new U.S. embassy in Havana is likely to operate with controls on staff travel and other restrictions similar to those on American diplomats in other countries with authoritarian governments, Washington's chief Cuba negotiator said on Wednesday. But Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, speaking on the eve of the latest round of talks with Cuba on restoring diplomatic ties, said Washington was determined to minimize restrictions. Thursday's talks in Washington will explore terms for reopening embassies in Havana and Washington as part of a deal to re-establish diplomatic ties announced in December by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. " (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n4tmm46  

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Banking left: How the center moved after the financial crisis

May 20, 2015
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Danny Vinik  

"In July 1998, Larry Summers appeared before a Senate committee to argue that a financial product, called an over-the-counter (OTC) derivative, did not need to be regulated. He said that there were only two potential reasons for financial regulation -- 'to protect retail investors from unscrupulous traders' and 'to guard against manipulation in markets' -- neither of which, Summers concluded, were applicable to OTC derivatives. Summers, who served as Treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001, eventually won the battle over derivatives regulation. Those derivatives, of course, were at the heart of the 2007/2008 financial crisis." (05/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ll4lj8g  

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NY: Coors billboard brews angst after glaring error

May 20, 2015
posted by

AOL News    

"For the third time in five years, Coors beer is the brewing angst in New York. This time, though, the problem does not directly involve alcohol or ethnicity. Instead, it involves geography. Specifically, the name of one geographical location in New York that virtually everybody knows -- except, apparently, Coors. ... . Emblazoned across a billboard along the Major Deegan Expressway, near Yankee Stadium is the slogan, 'Born in the Rockies, Lives in Bronx.' Clearly, Coors had no problem with "the" when describing its manufacturing location, in the Rocky Mountains. But when it came to the location where it's attempting to sell its brew, it's another case entirely." (05/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kz26cwk  

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the end of innocence

May 20, 2015
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Debbie Nathan  

"In the days when Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s jury was deliberating about whether to sentence him to life in prison or death, I thought often about members of his legal team who'd worked behind the scenes: the 'mitigation specialists.' I'm a colleague of these people -- I belong to a small group of journalists who supplement our income with freelance 'mitigation' work. That means we do a special type of investigation for death-penalty cases. Our clients are accused and often, like Tsarnaev, already convicted. The prosecution paints them to the courtroom and press as monsters." (05/18/15)

http://tinyurl.com/me6vv6w  

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A short tale of two central banks & (roughly) one inflation rate

May 20, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Ross Finley  

"Euro zone inflation rose to zero in April from -0.1 percent and in Britain it fell to -0.1 percent from zero, the first negative reading since the 1960s. No matter what differences may exist between these two economies, and no matter how clear that inflation will soon rise because of oil prices and a lower base from which to compare any future change, nobody can dispute that is pretty much the same inflation rate. Both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are struggling to get inflation back up to 2 percent, which they target over a longer horizon." (05/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mvenqj7  

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