PND Commentary

Blackwater founder remains free and rich while his former employees go down on murder charges

October 22, 2014
posted by

The Intercept The Intercept
by Jeremy Scahill  

"A federal jury in Washington, D.C., returned guilty verdicts against four Blackwater operatives charged with killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians and wounding scores of others in Baghdad in 2007. ... Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. [Blackwater founder Erik] Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n8u5p3s  

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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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Weird Al Franken

October 22, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by William Blum  

"I receive a continuous stream of emails from 'progressive' organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough." (10/21/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/21/weird-al-franken/  

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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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Gene Healy on The Scott Horton Show

October 22, 2014
posted by

Gene Healy The Scott Horton Show
by  

"Gene Healy, a vice president at the Cato Institute, discusses his article 'The Forever-War President: Obama’s 'Transformational' War Powers Legacy.'" [Flash audio or MP3] (10/20/14)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/10/20/102014-gene-healy/  

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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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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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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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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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How the UAE tried to silence a popular Arab Spring activist

October 21, 2014
posted by

Murtaza Hussain The Intercept
by Murtaza Hussain  

"Earlier this year, as a wave of counterrevolution and repression continued to roll back popular democratic uprisings across the Middle East, one of the Arab Spring’s most popular online activists found himself sitting in a jail cell. Iyad el-Baghdadi, a popular blogger and Twitter personality who first came to prominence during the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, was arrested by authorities in the United Arab Emirates in April. Detained, imprisoned and then expelled from the country, he has been living in limbo in Malaysia ever since." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qxsqojv  

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Obama to GOP: Our billionaires are better than yours!

October 20, 2014
posted by

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson  

"Speaking at a $10,000-a-plate fundraiser hosted by Democratic billionaire Rich Richman, President Obama denounced the GOP as -- wait for it -- the 'party of billionaires' .... I always figured Obama had a fairly keen sense of irony, but maybe being in power burns that part of your brain out after a while. Let’s get something straight: America has no major political party that’s NOT a party of billionaires." (10/19/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/32768  

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The descent of Libya

October 20, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Garikai Chengu  

"In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. After NATO’s intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As the government’s control slips through their fingers and into to the militia fighters’ hands, oil production has all but stopped." (10/20/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/20/the-descent-of-libya/  

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There is no “CR” in “ISIS”

October 20, 2014
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Cory Massimino  

"Federal officials are warning 'U.S. law enforcement about the threat of Islamic State-inspired terror attacks against police officers, government workers and 'media figures' in the U.S.' Unfortunately many Americans will buy into the state propaganda, spurring even more authoritarian increases in police and military power. But what reasons are there to think that Islamic terrorists are a significant threat to Americans? Simply put, there are none." (10/17/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/32730  

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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  

3 Comments »

The demise of Senate Democrats

October 20, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch
by Renee Parsons  

"If any of the mainstream media are to be believed, you would think that the future of the country, the very foundation of our Republic and what’s left of its democracy hung by a thread on the results of the upcoming 2014 Congressional election, especially Republican control of the Senate. And yet, as the issueless campaigns of meaningless gestures drone on, voter turnout is anticipated to be more a measure of voter antipathy rather than an endorsement of the Electeds posture of We-Own-the World." (10/17/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/17/the-demise-of-senate-democrats/  

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First Fresno, next Sacramento

October 20, 2014
posted by

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

"Many insiders believe that Secretary of State candidate Pete Peterson and Controller hopeful Ashley Swearengin are the two Republicans most likely to win a statewide office -- and it’s because both have tried to reach across the aisle. Swearengin, the Fresno Mayor, is banking on California voters looking for an alternative to one-party rule in Sacramento. Her campaign manager Tim Clark wrote this piece about the race in Fox and Hounds Daily. He writes that the old formula for GOP victory is changing." (10/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/jwezjkw  

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The only thing

October 20, 2014
posted by

The Cagle Post
by Mark Streeter  

Cartoon. (10/16/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/10/the-only-thing/  

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Our empathetic rich: The rarest of birds

October 19, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"Billionaire CEO Nicholas Woodman, news reports trumpeted earlier this month, has set aside $450 million worth of his GoPro software stock to set up a brand-new charitable foundation. 'We wake up every morning grateful for the opportunities life has given us,' Woodman and his wife Jill noted in a joint statement. 'We hope to return the favor as best we can.' Stories about charitable billionaires have long been a media staple. The defenders of our economic order love them -- and regularly trot them out to justify America’s ever more top-heavy concentration of income and wealth." (10/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ohqkgzy  

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