PND Commentary

US Customs and Border Protection wants to know who you are on Twitter — but it’s a flawed plan

August 24, 2016
posted by

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Sophia Cope  

"U.S. border control agents want to gather Facebook and Twitter identities from visitors from around the world. But this flawed plan would violate travelers' privacy, and would have a wide-ranging impact on freedom of expression -- all while doing little or nothing to protect Americans from terrorism. ... CBP specifically seeks 'information associated with your online presence -- Provider/Platform -- Social media identifier' in order to provide DHS 'greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections' for 'vetting purposes.' In our comments, we argue that would-be terrorists are unlikely to disclose social media identifiers that reveal publicly available posts expressing support for terrorism." (08/22/16)

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/08/us-customs-and-border-protection-wants-know-who-you-are-twitter-its-flawed-plan  

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National security “experts” denouncing Trump: A Who’s Who of disastrous neocons

August 24, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Rebecca Gordon  

"It’s not every day that Republicans publish an open letter announcing that their presidential candidate is unfit for office. But lately this sort of thing has been happening more and more frequently. The most recent example: we just heard from 50 representatives of the national security apparatus, men (and a few women) who served under Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. All of them are very worried about Donald Trump. They think we should be alerted to the fact that the Republican standard-bearer 'lacks the character, values, and experience to be president.' That’s true of course, but it’s also pretty rich, coming from this bunch. ... [G]iven the history of the 'global war on terror,' this is your basic list of potential American war criminals." (08/22/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19404/party-members-and-warmongers-criticize-trump  

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Where no miner has gone before

August 24, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Shannon Stirone  

"On September 8, NASA is embarking on a new mission to investigate the origins of the universe. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a small spacecraft, the OSIRIS-REx, will journey 509 million miles to an asteroid called Bennu. Named for an Egyptian deity linked to the sun and creation, Bennu has likely gone untouched for the past four billion years, offering us a valuable glimpse into the early days of our solar system. The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for approximately 19 months. Once it has mapped Bennu’s surface, the Osiris-rex will inch closer to the asteroid. Then its eleven-foot robotic arm will reach out and collect a two-ounce sample to bring back to Earth in 2023. A seven-year journey to fetch a candy bar–sized sample of rock hasn’t sparked the kind of global excitement reserved for, say, the prospect of blasting Sir Richard Branson off the planet and into deep space. But there’s a bigger game at play here: The precious minerals and metals in asteroids may be worth billions of dollars to galactic prospectors, and NASA’s mission is paving the way for an outer-space gold rush." [editor's note: Is there any of this not correctly predicted decades ago by Heinlein, Smith and other smart sci-fiu writers? - SAT] (08/23/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/135726/no-miner-gone  

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The age of the aircraft carrier may be over

August 24, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Jason Fields  

"The United States has more aircraft carriers than any other country - depending on how you define 'aircraft carrier,' it's 10 times as many. Russia, a major naval power with large submarine corps and many other surface ships, has one carrier. It's from the Soviet era, diesel powered and rarely at see for more than six months at a time before heading back for a refit that typically takes longer than the deployment. China's first aircraft carrier recently became operational. It's a Soviet model that's been refurbished. A second carrier is being refurbished now. The other nations that can sent flattops to sea are India, Italy and France. The United Kingdom currently can't launch fighters from its lone carrier because they retired their Harrier jump jets in 2010 to save money." (08/23/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-aircraft-carrier-podcast-idUSKCN10Y1OK  

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Trump vs. Clinton: It’s all about the debates

August 24, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Ted Rall  

"[I]f the election were held today, Hillary Clinton would beat Trump by a sizable margin. But that's not the case. Two months is a long time. Old scandals percolate; new ones emerge. Another terrorist attack could prompt voters to turn to the right. By far the biggest potential game changer, however, are the presidential debates. Conventional wisdom says Hillary Clinton will use her superior command of the facts and her ability to namedrop world leaders to run circles around Trump. But conventional wisdom is often wrong -- just ask unstoppable 2016 Republican presidential nominee Jeb Bush. I think Donald will trounce Hillary in the debates." (08/23/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/23/trump-vs-clinton-its-all-about-the-debates/  

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What the Patti Hearst pardon is not

August 23, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"Patricia Hearst is the first person in American history to receive a commutation from one president and a pardon from another, author Jeffrey Toobin writes in his book, American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. Hearst had served 22 months of a seven-year sentence in federal prison for bank robbery when President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence; sentence reductions are part of the presidential pardon power embedded in the U.S. Constitution. Later, Bill Clinton pardoned (that is, removed all punishment and restored her civil rights) Hearst. She was one of Clinton's infamous 140 out-the-door pardons that included fugitive gazillionaire Marc Rich." (08/23/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/08/23/what-the-patti-hearst-pardon-is-not-n2208557  

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A Basic Income would upend America’s work ethic, and that’s a good thing

August 23, 2016
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Fred Block & Frances Fox Piven  

"We have been ruled for years by archaic economic ideas, particularly the claim that a healthy dose of economic austerity is the best way to get the economy’s engines firing again. It is a zombie idea, discredited almost nine decades ago when Herbert Hoover insisted on balancing the budget during a crisis, and sent the economy into a tailspin. If bad ideas are not allowed to die, good ideas slip into obscurity. Today, one of those buried ideas is enjoying a well-deserved revival: basic income, the idea that every citizen is entitled to an income sufficient to cover basic needs." [editor's note: As one who struggled mightily to keep up, until the Social Security trickle-back checks started coming in (allowing me to build on it with other endeavors), I heartily support this message; taking away the worries about basic survival, and promoting creative ways to rise above "wage-slave" status, is the future of this species if it is to survive - SAT] (08/23/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/a-basic-income-would-upend-americas-work-ethic-and-thats-a-good-thing  

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Blue cities, red states

August 23, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Abby Rapoport  

"When Denton, Texas, passed a fracking ban in November 2014, it was national news. The story seemed out of a movie, a David-and-Goliath tale in which a scrappy band of citizens goes up against big industry and wins. Located in the heart of oil and gas territory, the town is hardly a liberal bastion; its state representative is a staunch conservative, and among its biggest annual events is the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo. But residents were watching gas drills come closer and closer to their parks and schools." [editor's note: This could be a great pitch for decentralizing the Electoral College to the Congressional district level, slightly empowering those in red-state cities (and blue-state towns), even though that is not the writer's intent here - SAT] (08/22/16)

http://prospect.org/article/blue-cities-battle-red-states  

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Open the debates to third parties

August 23, 2016
posted by

OpEdNews
by Rob Kall  

"There's a discussion going on about opening the presidential debates to third party candidates. Currently, there are several efforts to open the presidential debates to third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The Commission on Presidential Debates has set an arbitrary 15% polling level requirement for candidates to be included. This is a pathological symptom of the take-over of the democratic process by the corporate owned mainstream media. The truth is, the current presidential debate system is a fraud in many ways." (08/23/16)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Open-the-Debates-to-3rd-Pa-by-Rob-Kall-Debate-Exclusion_Presidential-Debates-160823-724.html  

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War: The Islamic State and western politicians against the rest of us

August 23, 2016
posted by

Thomas L Knapp -- photo by Avens O'Brien William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism
by Thomas L Knapp  

"The United Kingdom is back in the business of holding political prisoners on a scale not seen since before the 1997 ceasefire in occupied ... er, 'Northern' ... Ireland, and American social networks are handing the US government de facto power to censor Internet communications. What could possibly go wrong?" (08/22/16)

http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/7230  

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Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA

August 23, 2016
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by James Bamford  

"In the summer of 1972, state-of-the-art campaign spying consisted of amateur burglars, armed with duct tape and microphones, penetrating the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Today, amateur burglars have been replaced by cyberspies, who penetrated the DNC armed with computers and sophisticated hacking tools. Where the Watergate burglars came away empty-handed and in handcuffs, the modern-day cyber thieves walked away with tens of thousands of sensitive political documents and are still unidentified. Now, in the latest twist, hacking tools themselves, likely stolen from the National Security Agency, are on the digital auction block. Once again, the usual suspects start with Russia -- though there seems little evidence backing up the accusation." (08/22/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-intelligence-nsa-commentary-idUSKCN10X01P  

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The stolen war

August 23, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Ken Silverstein  

"A few years ago, when Iraqi prime minister Nuri Al Maliki was still in office, a group of his closest aides traveled to Amman, Jordan, and rented suites in one of the city’s most luxurious hotels. They were there for meetings with foreign businessmen who had flown in to seek a lucrative contract for an energy-related project -- one that would help rebuild Iraq’s battered infrastructure. Baghdad, like much of Iraq, remained in a state of chaos, and was thus too dangerous for visitors. Amman also offered greater discretion than the Iraqi capital, which was an essential condition for the meetings: The businessmen had come to offer bribes to Maliki and other senior government officials in return for the contract." (08/22/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/135682/stolen-war  

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Learn from Louisiana, be the help

August 23, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"This weekend’s kerfuffle over visits to storm-wracked Louisiana illustrated two important points: One is that you can rely on politicians (and the press) to act political. The other is that when trouble comes, you and your neighbors had better be ready, because the government doesn’t have your back.On the political front, a piece in The Hill noted a typical double standard: When then-President George W. Bush flew over New Orleans in Air Force One, but didn’t land, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was roundly denounced as aloof, uncaring, and out-of-touch. But last week, when President Obama chose to stay on Martha’s Vineyard, and play golf and fund-raise after a storm dumped three times as much rain as Katrina on Lousiana, causing devastating and widespread floods, the press largely gave Obama a pass, something especially notable given how Obama had savaged Bush on that topic. Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump visited Louisiana and helped unload a truck full of aid supplies before visiting victims. Hillary phoned the governor but then headed to the Vineyard herself." (08/22/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/22/louisiana-floods-cajun-navy-obama-bush-vineyard-marthas-glenn-reynolds/89074314  

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Hillary Clinton’s latest email scapegoat: Colin Powell

August 23, 2016
posted by

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by David A Graham  

"Hillary Clinton has struggled for months to find a satisfactory explanation for why she chose to use a private email server and a personal email address while she was secretary of state, a choice that FBI Director James Comey described as resulting in 'extremely careless' handling of classified information. Publicly, none of her excuses have met with much success. Privately, however, Clinton seems to have found one scapegoat: former Secretary of State Colin Powell." (08/22/16)

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/hillary-clinton-colin-powell-email-state-department-scapegoat/496835/  

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Jerry Brown and eminent domain abuse

August 22, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders The American Spectator
by Debra J Saunders  

"As mayor of Oakland in the 2000s, Jerry Brown supported redevelopment. Then he returned to the governor's office in 2011 and inherited a $25 billion budget shortfall. Feeling the squeeze, Brown saw an opportunity to make $1.7 billion by eliminating redevelopment agencies and shifted. He liked redevelopment as mayor, he explained to the League of California Cities, but also: 'I didn't quite understand it. It seemed kind of magical. It was the money that you could spend on stuff that they wouldn't otherwise let you spend.' In Sacramento, fiscal restraint can only last so long. The urge to 'spend on stuff' is back. Last year, the Legislature passed a measure with bipartisan support to restore redevelopment. The governor signed the bill, which took effect this year. Already the Legislature is working to expand rules to allow local officials to green-light pet projects more likely to enrich powerful interests than benefit the communities the policy is supposed to serve." (08/21/16)

http://spectator.org/jerry-brown-and-eminent-domain-abuse/  

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Postal workers to rally against TPP Tuesday

August 22, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is holding its biennial convention in Orlando this week. As part of that convention, there will be a rally to publicize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally will take place Tuesday, August 23 at 3:30 pm beginning in the Hemisphere Ballroom of Orlando’s Dolphin Hotel. ... TPP is an agreement between 12 Pacific-region nations, but other nations like China will be able to join later. TPP is called a 'trade' agreement, even though most of the sections of the agreement are about things like allowing investors to sue governments for laws and regulations that infringe on their profits, granting monopolies to giant pharmaceutical companies, and 'intellectual property' rights. The agreement was negotiated and written in secrecy, largely by past, present and future representatives of corporations." (08/22/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160822/postal-workers-to-rally-against-tpp-tuesday  

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Municipalities dream big on broadband

August 22, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Mariam Baksh  

"For most Americans, it’s hard to imagine going even one day without using the internet to find information, play games, or work. But for residents of rural areas with marginal or no internet access, the simplest task becomes a major chore. Farmers in rural Minnesota may drive miles to upload crop data. Students in the Tennessee countryside may go to a church to download notes for a biology class. For years, nearly 40 percent of people in rural America have been saddled with slow internet speeds and no opportunity to get broadband internet services which provide fast connections. Yet internet service providers (ISPs), such as AT&T and Verizon, that can’t turn enough profit from rural investments have also made it almost impossible for competitors to provide alternatives. With the assistance of groups like the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a network of state lawmakers and corporate officials, they’re spending millions of dollars lobbying for laws that bar municipalities from implementing alternative services." (08/19/16)

http://prospect.org/article/municipalities-dream-big-broadband  

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Hillary’s hubris: Only tell the rich for $5000 a minute!

August 22, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Ralph Nader  

"There is a growing asymmetry between the media's mounting demands for Donald Trump to release his tax returns (Hillary has done so) and their diminishing demands that Hillary Clinton release the secret transcripts of her $5000 per minute speeches before closed-door banking conferences and other business conventions. The Washington Post, an endorser of Clinton, in its August 18 issue devoted another round of surmising as to why Trump doesn't want to release his tax returns -- speculating that he isn't as rich as he brags he is, that he pays little or no taxes, and that he gives little to charity. Other media outlets endorsing Hillary have been less than vociferous in demanding that she release what she told business leaders in these pay-to-play venues." (08/22/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/22/hillarys-hubris-only-tell-the-rich-for-5000-a-minute/  

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Is making corporations pay wages “burdensome government regulation?”

August 22, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republicans in general say 'burdensome government regulations' are holding the economy back. Phrases like that sure sound ominous, as does another Republican favorite, 'big government.' But what do the words actually mean? Trump: 'We’re going to get rid of all these ridiculous -- everything is so bad ... -- we’re going to get rid of the regulations that are just destroying us.' In Trump’s Detroit 'economic speech' he said, 'The U.S. economy today is twenty-five percent smaller than it would have been without the surge of regulations since 1980. It is estimated that current overregulation is costing our economy as much as $2 trillion dollars a year -- that’s money taken straight out of cities like yours.' (By the way, 1980 was the year Ronald Reagan was elected.)" (08/19/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20160819/is-making-corporations-pay-wages-burdensome-government-regulation  

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Banner year for third parties?

August 22, 2016
posted by

This Week in America
by  

Author/historian Darcy G. Richardson joins host Ric Bratton to discuss third party campaigns in the 2016 US presidential election. [Flash video] (08/18/16)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctQNH-S8TaE  

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How liberal courts help conservative states stay free

August 22, 2016
posted by

David Boaz USA Today
by David Boaz  

"A new study says that New Hampshire is the freest state in the country, followed by Alaska, Oklahoma, Indiana, and South Dakota. New York is the least free state by a large margin, followed by California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Maryland. For some readers, the immediate reaction will be that conservative states get the highest ratings and liberal states the lowest. That’s not quite true: New Hampshire and Alaska are generally regarded as libertarian-leaning more than conservative, and very conservative states such as Alabama and Mississippi score pretty far down. It’s not that the study focuses just on economic freedom, as some analyses do. The 'Freedom in the 50 States' report ... covers both economic and personal freedom, from taxes and regulation to imprisonment rates, gay marriage, and marijuana. Those of us in cosmopolitan coastal states may still wonder if places like Oklahoma and Indiana are where we’d find the personal and economic freedom we crave. Here’s one explanation: The federal courts prevent conservative states from taking away a lot of the freedoms they’d like to, while they’re much more tolerant of intrusions on freedom found in liberal states." (08/19/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/19/free-states-index-libertarian-coastal-conservative-supreme-court-david-boaz/88909562  

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How Hillary Clinton & “American power” paved the way for shocking violence in Honduras

August 22, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Jim Naureckas  

"'How the Most Dangerous Place on Earth Got Safer' was the headline over the lead article in the New York Times' 'Week in Review' (8/11/16), with the teaser reading, 'Programs funded by the United States are helping transform Honduras. Who says American power is dead?' The piece never really got around to explaining, though, how Honduras became the most dangerous place on Earth. That’s American power, too." (08/19/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19395/how-hillary-clinton-and-american-power-paved-the-way-for-shocking-violence-  

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DEA wins battle but losing the war on cannabis

August 21, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gabrielle Gurley  

"The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s refusal to decontrol marijuana has raised the hackles of doctors, patient advocacy groups, cannabis entrepreneurs, and potheads almost everywhere. Under the agency’s recent directive, marijuana remains an illegal, controlled substance like heroin and LSD that has no medical value. But unlike most federal regulations, the DEA move will have little to no effect on state-level marijuana politics. Since Colorado and Washington state green-lighted recreational marijuana in 2012, the DEA has gotten swamped by a tidal wave of legalization campaigns across the country for recreational and medical marijuana." (08/19/16)

http://prospect.org/article/dea-wins-battle-losing-war-marijuana  

1 Comment »

Is “Big Marijuana” inevitable?

August 21, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Ryan Stoa  

"In November, voters in as many as 12 states will see a marijuana legalization initiative on their ballots. Marijuana is already legal for recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. Another 25 states have legalized medical marijuana. The era of marijuana prohibition is rapidly coming to a close. Unfortunately, lawmakers lack easy answers to tough questions facing the marijuana industry. Legalization presents challenges on a number of fronts, including distribution, taxation, consumption, security and public health. In a recent article, I argue that the agricultural sector of the marijuana industry also presents a number of challenges. One paramount question looms over the rest: Will marijuana agriculture become consolidated, with 'Big Marijuana' companies producing vast quantities of indistinct marijuana? Or, will small-scale farmers thrive by producing unique and local marijuana strains? My research shows that Big Marijuana is not inevitable. On the contrary, a local, sustainable, small-scale farming future is entirely within reach." (08/19/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/136172/big-marijuana-inevitable  

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Why “reforming” copyright will kill it

August 21, 2016
posted by

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson  

[E]liminating the legal enforcement of DRM -- by criminal, mind, not civil law -- would effectively destroy all business models based on proprietary digital information, both in the 'information industries' as such and in manufacturing. And these are, mind you, the primary source of profit in today's global corporate economy. Interestingly enough, thinkers like Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig say they're not against copyright -- they just want to reform it and make it more reasonable. But from what we've seen above, it's absolutely dependent on police state measures like the DMCA and the 'intellectual property' provisions in 'Free Trade' Agreements like TPP for its survival in any remotely recognizable form." (08/21/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/46045  

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