Author Archive

Danger signals: ISIL, Hamas & the future of Israel

November 20, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gershom Gorenberg  

"In Hebrew, 'black flag' refers to an immediate, glaring warning -- as in, the 'black flag of illegality' that figuratively flies over a military order that a soldier must refuse, or the actual flag put up by lifeguards to signal that the sea is too stormy for swimming. The symbolism of the color is entirely arbitrary. In Arab culture, a black flag recalls the battle standards of the Prophet Muhammad and of the Abbasid caliphate, which ruled from Baghdad over a vast Islamic empire. Traditionally, the connotations are positive. In recent months, though, the two meanings have converged. Inscribed with the words 'There is no god but God,' a black banner is now a symbol of danger, across the Middle East and beyond." (11/19/14)

http://prospect.org/article/isil-hamas-and-future-israel  

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Is there no limit to college tuition hikes?

November 20, 2014
posted by

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

"If you are about to apply to college or send your children to an institution of higher learning, please make sure not to miss the CNN documentary, 'Ivory Tower,' by Andrew Rossi which looks at why college is so expensive. ... I was spellbound watching the what happened at Cooper Union, where President Jamshed Bharucha ended a 150-year policy of not charging tuition. The school made some bad investments and built a $175 million building. ... Some students at Cooper Union argued that college is a right, not just at Cooper Union, but everywhere. That’s not realistic. If a college education is a right, then no one has to earn it. And: While graduates benefit financially from a degree, they expect other people to pay for it. And if someone else pays for it, why would administrators ever control costs?" (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pzbvkb6  

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Flying your drone recklessly? FAA can sue you

November 19, 2014
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"US aviation authorities are allowed to pursue small drone operators suspected of operating their radio-controlled devices in a reckless manner, a US government agency ruled Tuesday. The decision by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal battle between a Swiss drone entrepreneur based in Hong Kong and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). An NTSB administrative law judge in March dismissed a $10,000 fine that the FAA had imposed on Raphael Pirker for using a Ritewing Zephyr drone to shoot a promotional video for the University of Virginia." (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ofqdt87  

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NJ: Lawsuit fights “under God” in Pledge of Allegiance

November 19, 2014
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"A judge heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed against a New Jersey school district by a family who claims the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against children with atheist beliefs. The Monmouth County family, identified in court papers as John and Jane Doe and their child, sued the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District in February, alleging the phrase 'under God' in the pledge is discriminatory. State Superior Court Judge David Bauman heard arguments on the school district's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The case was filed by the American Humanist Association, which claims the recitation of the pledge violates Article 1 of the state's constitution." (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/onzrzcx  

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Fracking the poor

November 19, 2014
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Hannah Guzik  

"It was supposed to be a good day. It was the first day of school and Johanna Romo, 12, had just woken up. It was already hot, and if she had looked out the window, she would have seen smog hugging the valley floor, obscuring the mountains, as it has almost every day this year. But she didn’t have a chance to look out the window. As Johanna sat up and prepared to put on her school uniform (a blue shirt and khaki pants) her body lurched backward onto the floor, violently shaking." (11/19/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17355/fracking_the_poor  

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Report: Obama might cut deal on Keystone pipeline

November 19, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"President Barack Obama might be open to using the Keystone pipeline as leverage with Republicans if they cooperate on other aspects of his long-stalled domestic agenda, such as investing in infrastructure, closing tax loopholes or reducing carbon emissions. After years of fighting over TransCanada's crude oil pipeline from Canada, a Keystone deal is not entirely out of the question, sources inside the administration and others close to the White House told Reuters on Tuesday." [editor's note: Suhprahz, progressives; instead of just vetoing the sucker, as he should, he'd just use it to further expand his own crony-corporatist agenda - SAT] (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mxaomcw  

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Terrorism deaths spiked last year, but only in five countries

November 19, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"Terrorism is up, but concentrated in a handful of countries where an even smaller number of terror groups are carrying out the bulk of attacks. No one will be surprised to hear that terrorism deaths are up in Iraq and Syria largely as a result of the rise of the violence-preaching Islamic State, and in Nigeria where Boko Haram continues to mount high-casualty attacks. But here’s something else to know about terrorism: At the end of the day, it doesn’t work. Since the 1960s, only a very few terrorist organizations have achieved their goals through violence." (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n9zheub  

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Immigration & shutdowns: Right things vs. wrong things

November 19, 2014
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Republicans don’t even take over the Senate until January, but already they’re talking about shutting down the government. This time it’s over the President’s effort to provide some relief for the millions of families and thousands of communities being harmed by a broken immigration system. Last time it was in an effort to stop Obamacare from helping millions of families. Their shutdowns are about obstruction and political strategy, not about what is good for the country and the people in it." (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pt4khn4  

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KY: Motor fuels tax rate to drop on New Year’s Day

November 19, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Motorists will get a break at the pump when Kentucky's gas tax drops by 4.3 cents per gallon on New Year's Day, but the rate cut will impose a "crippling" revenue loss on the fund used to build and maintain roads, state transportation officials said Wednesday. The lower tax rate on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol fuels would cost the state Road Fund about $129 million on an annualized basis, they said. 'A loss of revenue is always concerning, but a revenue impact of this magnitude is crippling,' Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. 'It means less money for building, improving, maintaining and repairing our roads, streets and bridges.'" (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m4zoqgc  

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NSA reform blocked by constitutionally disinclined GOP Senators

November 19, 2014
posted by

John Nichols The Nation
by John Nichols  

"The vital cause of NSA reform (which seemed to be gaining strength, as not just citizens but their elected representatives came to recognize the consequences of the issues raised by Edward Snowden’s leaks) has hit a rough spot in recent weeks. Allies of the cause are being defeated or abandoning their principles and major initiatives are failing. The first bad news came November 4, when Colorado Senator Mark Udall lost his campaign for a second term. In his first term, the Democrat had emerged as one of the steadiest, and frequently most aggressive, critics of National Security Agency abuses." (11/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ndlbtz7  

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Yes, Mitch McConnell is killing coal

November 19, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Bill Scher  

"In Alison Lundergan Grimes'[s] losing campaign, she ran an ad that made one of the most insightful points of any ad in the 2014 midterm elections. Standing in front of a coal-fired power plant Grimes said, 'They are shutting down half the plant and laying off their workers because [Senate Republican leader] Mitch McConnell didn’t fight to get the scrubbers it needs to reduce coal emissions.' The ad didn’t get attention for that line. It got attention for a trumped-up, and contradictory, charge that followed, that 'Mitch and his wife pocketed $600,000 from enemies of coal.' Most of the money came from McConnell’s wife serving on the board of a bank that made a decision five years prior to her arrival to cut back on its financing of mountaintop removals. Claiming that McConnell was a secret environmentalist was a factually flawed charge that fell flat, but the beginning of the ad was truthful and highly relevant." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k57qbrq  

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Why the feds are fed up with the NFL

November 19, 2014
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Dave Zirin  

"Let’s be clear: the recent raid on five NFL teams by the Drug Enforcement Agency to see if teams were doubling as illegal painkiller dispensaries has little to do with concerns about how our nation’s Sunday heroes Novocain themselves for gridiron glory. The fact that the NFL and their teams of doctors and nurses give out prescription pills like Halloween candy and break out syringes to top off sessions of physical therapy has been public knowledge for over forty years. ... The real story here is that these raids happened at all. The NFL employs twenty-six full-time lobbyists and spends about $1.5 million per election cycle to make sure that the feds leave the league alone and no one looks too closely at how the sausages are made." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k5s4f2g  

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SC: Federal appeals court won’t issue stay on marriage equality

November 19, 2014
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined on Tuesday to stay a District Court ruling from last week that struck down the gay marriage ban in South Carolina, meaning same-sex weddings could happen there as soon as Thursday. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, said in a statement his office would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the District court’s ruling. 'This issue has not yet been resolved nationally,' he said in a statement. 'Today’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit does not end the constitutional obligation of this Office to defend South Carolina law.'" (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kj7xdvw  

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Health: Germ-killer found in soap may cause liver damage

November 19, 2014
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"A chemical found in most antibacterial soaps may be fighting off germs at the cost of causing liver damage. There have been question marks around triclosan for some time—the FDA warned last year that antibacterial soap could be harmful, and Minnesota banned the ingredient this year, but new research finds it could be a lot more dangerous than thought, the Atlantic reports. The study linked the chemical to liver damage and tumors in mice, the Independent reports, and though it wasn't found to actually cause cancer, the changes observed in the mice's bodies 'resemble the environment within which human liver cancer forms,' the researchers say." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mktfg3h  

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When judges say too much

November 19, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Alison Frankel  

"As I reporter, I love when federal judges say provocative things outside of their courtrooms. It’s news if U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan publishes an article chastising the Justice Department for prosecuting corporations instead of individuals or if his colleague Shira Scheindlin gives interviews about her willingness to stand up to prosecutors. The public benefits when brave judges like U.S. Magistrate Stephen Smith of Houston, who highlighted the government’s secret use of electronic surveillance in a 2012 paper for the Harvard Law and Policy Review, call attention to what they’ve observed from the bench. I also understand that judges, just like ordinary people, want to share (or occasionally overshare) their thoughts in a forum aside from judicial opinions." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p3yzhce  

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Hong Kong protesters break into government building

November 19, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"A small group of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters broke into the city's legislature via a side door early on Wednesday, and police stopped others forcing their way in as tensions in the Chinese-controlled city escalated following a period of calm. The flare-up came just hours after court bailiffs managed to clear part of a protest camp in the heart of the city that has been occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators for nearly two months, while leaving most of the main protest site intact." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l2lpahq  

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Kansas: Supreme Court allows more marriages

November 19, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"The Kansas Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for additional gay marriages in the state's most populous county while declaring that it would defer to the federal courts on whether Kansas' ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional. The Kansas court also declined to say whether all of the state's 105 counties fall under a U.S. Supreme Court order last week blocking the state from enforcing laws and a provision in its constitution against gay marriage. The nation's highest court acted in a lawsuit filed over the denial of marriage licenses to lesbian couples in two counties." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/msrkqvx  

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Ferguson’s ISIS allies?

November 19, 2014
posted by

Salim Muwakkil In These Times
by Salim Muwakkil  

"As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted this summer over the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, radical Islamists tried to co-opt the protests for their own cause. Many right-leaning media outlets jumped on the story, quoting Ferguson-related tweets by supporters of the Iraq- and Syria-based group the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). Those tweets should not be surprising. Events in Ferguson offer a golden opportunity to showcase the flaws in American justice, and America’s enemies are determined to use it." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mt4848f  

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Think Obamacare’s affordable? You’re stupid

November 18, 2014
posted by

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

"Before he became the Obama administration’s least favorite overpaid expert, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber was its darling. He appeared in an Obama campaign ad saying, 'I helped Gov. Romney develop his healthcare reform, or Romneycare, before going down to Washington to help President Obama develop his national version of that law.' The false portrayal of Romneycare and Obamacare as practically identical fueled the Democratic delusion that Congress drafted the Affordable Care Act to appeal to rascally Republicans. Now Gruber is in the doghouse because he was captured on video being brutally honest." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lm38uw6  

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Asian students suing Harvard, UNC for affirmative action policies

November 18, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"The role of affirmative action in college admissions is under fire once again this week as two new lawsuits filed Monday call into question whether Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill give sufficient priority to use race-neutral admissions criteria. The cases, brought by some of the same individuals behind the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case that made its way to the Supreme Court last year, this time highlight the injustices that Asian-Americans may suffer through race-based admissions policies, and also seek to enforce the Supreme Court's Fisher decision that race should only be used as a criterion after other means of achieving diversity have been tried." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qfg9y9e  

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AR: Governor Mike Beebe’s son gets drug arrest pardon

November 18, 2014
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"When Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe's son Kyle was arrested for possession of a controlled substance (two ounces of marijuana) with the intent to deliver in 2003, the governor said: 'If he broke the law, he needs to pay for it. He needs to be treated like everybody else -- no better, [or] worse.' The son was sentenced to three years of probation, which he served without incident. Eleven years later, Mr Beebe says he will pardon his son, expunging his felony record. Some are wondering whether 'everybody else' will be pardoned for what the governor calls 'stupid stuff' they did in their youth." (11/18/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-30091789  

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Hillary’s “connection” to white voters

November 18, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"In an interview published yesterday at Talking Points Memo, Mitch Stewart, an adviser to the nascent Hillary Clinton quasi-campaign, argued that Clinton could expand the map of states that Barack Obama won, putting more places in play. The reason, he said, that 'Secretary Clinton has more appeal than any other Democrat looking at running is that with white working-class voters, she does have a connection.' The idea of Clinton's 'connection' to the white working class is something you hear now and again, and I think it's worth examining in some detail. Because it raises some uncomfortable questions that I doubt the Clinton campaign wants to confront." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m4lwf2q  

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Feinstein goes to war against Airbnb

November 18, 2014
posted by

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

"As a Republican, I am loving watching an old-guard Democrat take a stand against one of the most popular startups in the sharing economy. Airbnb is an apple-pie platform for many Millennials. Feinstein wrote that Chiu’s measure 'would destroy the integrity of zoning through San Francisco.' She sees her role as protecting residential neighborhoods from 'commercialization.' Young voters take note: This is what happens when governments get too big and too self-important: people who rent out a spare bedroom or a backyard cottage become expendable." (11/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q5tzssk  

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And the world’s favorite country is … Germany?

November 18, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Alan Posener  

"Germany, it appears, is the most respected country in the world. According to the Nation Brands Index, Germany deposed the hitherto reigning champion, the Unites States. The home of Audi, Mercedes, Siemens, Bosch and Co. now tops the charts. Now before I discuss the ranking process, in which over 20,000 people in 20 countries were asked to rank 50 developed and emerging countries according to 23 categories, I have to say that I’m amazed that the United States was number one up until now. Anti-Americanism is rampant and I would have guessed that Switzerland or Sweden or some other rich but harmless country would top the list instead." (11/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/keagngn  

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History shows Hillary unlikely to win in 2016

November 18, 2014
posted by

John B Judis The New Republic
by John B. Judis  

"Republicans did well in the midterm elections, but there is widespread agreement that they face a demographic disadvantage in 2016 presidential election, when many of the predominately Democratic younger and minority voters, who stayed home in 2014, will return to the polls. It’s true that an expected increase in turnout will benefit the Democrats, but may not be enough to elect another Democratic president. The chief obstacle that any Democratic nominee will face is public resistance to installing a president from the same party in the White House for three terms in a row. If you look at the presidents since World War II, when the same party occupied the White House for two terms in a row, that party’s candidate lost in the next election six out of seven times." (11/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nf5sp5l  

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