PND Commentary

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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Ten illegal police actions to watch for in Ferguson

November 19, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Bill Quigley  

"When the Michael Brown verdict is announced, people can expect the police to take at least ten different illegal actions to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights. The Ferguson police have been on TV more than others so people can see how awful they have been acting. But their illegal police tactics are unfortunately quite commonly used by other law enforcement in big protests across the US." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l75lhmt  

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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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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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Adam Morrow on The Scott Horton Show

November 18, 2014
posted by

The Scott Horton Show
by  

"Adam Morrow, a Cairo-based journalist for IPS News, discusses Egypt's tightened blockade of Gaza following terrorist attacks by 'unknown militants,' even though Hamas denied responsibility; how unassociated Islamic groups are lumped together with ISIS for propaganda purposes; and the consequences of Egypt's failed democratic experiment with the Muslim Brotherhood." [Flash audio or MP3] (11/17/14)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/11/17/111714-adam-morrow/  

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On media outlets that continue to describe unknown drone victims as “militants”

November 18, 2014
posted by

Lucy Steigerwald The Intercept
by Glenn Greenwald  

"It has been more than two years since The New York Times revealed that 'Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties' of his drone strikes which 'in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants .... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.' ... what bothered even some intelligence officials with the agency carrying out the strikes seemed of no concern whatsoever to most major media outlets. As I documented days after the Times article, most large western media outlets continued to describe completely unknown victims of U.S. drone attacks as 'militants' -- even though they (a) had no idea who those victims were or what they had done and (b) were well-aware by that point that the term had been 're-defined' by the Obama administration into Alice in Wonderland-level nonsense." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lrtz4sr  

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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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Wild, wonderful and free

November 18, 2014
posted by

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Grant A. Mincy  

"Before industry came to the mountains a unique form of common governance existed. Communities obtained subsistence from the surrounding old growth forest. Everyone understood not to claim more than necessary from the commons. This governance naturally produced the maximum sustainable yield of resources. Locals labored, bartered and brought goods to market together. As European expansion claimed the new world, land became the ultimate commodity and all eyes were fixed on the pristine forests of Appalachia." (11/17/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/33508  

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Is Texas getting ready to kill an innocent man?

November 18, 2014
posted by

The Intercept The Intercept
by Jordan Smith  

"Eleven years before he raped and threatened to kill Lear, Fennell’s own fiancee, 19-year-old Stacy Stites, was found brutally murdered along a country road in Bastrop, Texas. That crime eventually sent a man to death row. His name is Rodney Reed -- and he is scheduled to die in January. Lear, like many people who have followed the case in Texas -- believe that Reed is innocent. And they believe that the real killer is Jimmy Fennell. Connie Lear is not alone in coming forward now that an execution date has been set. Nearly a dozen people related to Stites, many of whom have had doubts about the case for years, are breaking their own silence, calling for Reed’s life to be spared." (11/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mj69guk  

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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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Some “old” news for a newly elected Congress

November 18, 2014
posted by

Sam Pizzigati Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"How much income do America’s households take in? How much do they have left after taxes? Do federal taxes leave the nation less or more unequal? Questions don’t get much more basic than these. Or more complicated either. How, for instance, do we define income? Everyone agrees, of course, that anything anyone collects from a paycheck should count as income. As should any interest collected from a bank account or any profits from the sale of an asset. But what about the money an employer shells out to cover an employee’s health insurance premiums? Or contributes into an employee’s 401(k)? Should these dollars be counted as income for the employee?" (11/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mo4ov2f  

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How badly do Republicans want tax reform?

November 17, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"If there's one major issue on which everyone in Washington seems to believe the White House and congressional Republicans might be able to agree to do something ambitious in the next two years, it's tax reform. A significant overhaul of the tax code hasn't happened in many years, and there are some areas of agreement between the two sides. Republicans supposedly want to show they can govern as the party in control of Congress, and President Barack Obama would like to obtain at least one significant legislative achievement in his second term. Big business, which has the ear of both parties, is eager for it. So is it going to happen?" (11/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pmvy9x2  

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The angry soldier

November 17, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Ralph Nader  

"The courageous journey of seriously wounded Iraq War veteran, Tomas Young, ended this past Monday, nearly eleven years after he was ambushed in a wholly exposed military truck. He passed away in Seattle while being lovingly cared for by his wife Claudia. Tomas did not go quietly, despite his being paralyzed from the chest down, excruciating pain, comas and reliance on caregivers. He became an anti-war peace activist, addressing convocations and responding to as many interview requests as his agonized condition could tolerate." (11/17/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/17/the-angry-soldier/  

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This isn’t the mass grave you have been looking for

November 17, 2014
posted by

The Nation Blog
by Greg Grandin  

"They have found many mass graves. Just not the mass grave they have been looking for. The forty-three student activists were disappeared on September 26, after being attacked by police in the town of Iguala, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A week later, I set up an alert for 'fosa clandestina' (Spanish for clandestine grave) on Google News. Here’s what has come back: On October 4, the state prosecutor of Guerrero announced that twenty-eight bodies were found in five clandestine mass graves. None of them were the missing forty-three. On October 9, three more graves. None of them contained the missing forty-three." (11/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nu7ppqz  

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You can’t build a better Internet out of red tape

November 17, 2014
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Jack Shafer  

"The net neutrality crowd’s fundamental worries can be boiled down to this: They believe that if the Federal Communications Commission leaves the Internet largely unregulated, the leading Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon will take advantage of their growing powers to: (1) fleece customers and websites (and services) with new charges and fees; (2) reduce commercial innovation and competition by ghettoizing new sites and services that won’t pay their new tolls; and (3) censor content that doesn’t serve their corporate masters. ... And the great Internet dream will die." [editor's note: A good analysis, and without the hysteria on either side of the discussion - SAT] (11/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ln53suc  

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Nancy Pelosi forgot about fact-checking

November 17, 2014
posted by

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

"Comrade Carolyn Lochhead has an interesting blog about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi railing that reporters ask her about whether she should retire because he’s a woman. From the blog, Pelosi asks, 'What was the day that any of you said to Mitch McConnell, when they lost the Senate three times in a row, lost making progress in taking back the Senate three times in a row, "Aren’t you getting a little old, Mitch? Shouldn’t you step aside?"' The reason it didn’t come up, the San Francisco Democrat said, was that McConnell is a man. But really, reporters have every reason to ask Pelosi about retiring because the minority leader either was caught in a lie or has a very bad memory." (11/14/14)

 

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Wall Street, the real winner of the midterms

November 17, 2014
posted by

David Sirota In These Times
by David Sirota  

"No runoff will be needed to declare one unambiguous winner in this month’s gubernatorial elections: the financial services industry. From Illinois to Massachusetts, voters effectively placed more than $100 billion worth of public pension investments under the control of executives-turned-politicians whose firms profit by managing state pension money. The elections played out as states and cities across the country debate the merits of shifting public pension money—the retirement savings for police, firefighters, teachers and other public employees—from plain vanilla investments such as index funds into higher-risk alternatives like hedge funds and private equity funds." (11/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkye8j6  

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Surprise: Whole Foods not world’s greatest employer

November 17, 2014
posted by

The Nation The Nation Blog
by Michelle Chen  

"With its dazzling array of exorbitantly priced eco-friendly products, Whole Foods Market fosters a love-hate relationship with customers who’ve gotten hooked on its cornucopia of guilty-liberal indulgences. But the company’s labor relations are even more sour, as workers grow increasingly frustrated that their workplaces aren’t nearly as progressive as the green-branding rhetoric. Going beyond the usual grumbling about hipster commercialism, some rank-and-file workers are challenging the management to live up to the company’s purported values when it comes to treating its workers fairly." [editor's note: This could get interesting, with the alliance with the Wobblies (among the more legitimate union concepts initially) - SAT] (11/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kym42y8  

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The political is very personal

November 16, 2014
posted by

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"As President Obama prepares to take executive action on immigration reform, Republicans are once again being torn apart. You can look at it as a battle between their heads and their hearts, with their heads understanding that doing things like shutting down the government or even impeaching Barack Obama would in fact end up being good for Obama and terrible for them, while their hearts cry for satisfaction, wanting only to beat their tiny fists against the president they despise so much." (11/14/14)

http://prospect.org/article/political-very-personal  

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DC strikers demand “more than minimum” for federal workers

November 16, 2014
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Should our government be for good jobs with good wages and benefits, the things most of We the People want in our lives? Or should it be for bad jobs, low wages, no benefits -- the very things that a wealthy few have become known for, just so they can pocket that pay difference for themselves? In other words, who is our government for? The broad masses of regular, working people or a very few already-wealthy people? President Obama has used executive orders to boost the minimum wage and raise workplace standards for employees of federal contractors." [editor's note: A better question might be whether federal contractors should have "good jobs with good wages and benefits," given that taxpayers pay for their work - SAT] (11/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n62l78n  

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Art in a time of surveillance

November 16, 2014
posted by

The Intercept The Intercept
by Peter Maas  

"This just happened -- while trying to figure out a colorful way to begin the story you're reading, I toggled to Twitter and saw a link to a short film by two Brooklyn directors who used a drone to film actors having sex. Their project, somewhere between art and porn, hovers on the R-rated margins of a thriving cultural movement in which artists of all stripes are exploring what it means to live in a state of surveillance." (11/13/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ne9r845  

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Police brutality in Anytown, USA

November 16, 2014
posted by

Students For Liberty Students For Liberty
by Nick Coughlin  

"Following West Virginia University football’s upset win over Baylor on October 18th, the mood in Morgantown went from uneasy tension over the outcome of the game to jubilation. The game ended in the early afternoon and despite the excitement over the win, the town was largely quiet with the exception of the normal post-game traffic. This changed around 10:30 pm when houses along the locally notorious Grant Avenue were, by order of various law enforcement agencies, emptied into the street. This move was the catalyst for what authorities would later refer to as rioting by members of the student body and others." (11/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/odnndo2  

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Inequality, student loan debt and the millennials

November 16, 2014
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Nicole Woo  

"Millennials are the most highly-educated generation of young adults in our nation’s history, attaining college degrees at record-high rates. Yet despite their greater educational attainment, they appear to have less wealth at this point in the lives than prior generations. If not for a sharp increase in student debt since 1989, young working- and middle-class Americans would have actually slightly higher net worths than their counterparts had a quarter century ago. This is a surprising finding in an analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances by my colleagues at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)." (11/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pcgm735  

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