Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

Nigeria: Boko Haram “abducts more women and girls”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Dozens of women and girls from two villages in Nigeria's north-eastern Adamawa state have been abducted by suspected militants, residents say. The abductions have not been confirmed by the authorities, but residents say they took place a day after the military announced it had agreed a ceasefire with the Boko Haram group. The government hopes the Islamist group will free more than 200 girls seized in April as part of negotiations. Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce." (10/23/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29740204

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NYC: Doctor tests positive for Ebola

The Hill

"A New York City doctor who recently treated Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the disease, according to multiple reports. The man is identified in reports as Craig Spencer, who previously worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. He arrived at Bellevue Hospital earlier Thursday with a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, and city health officials began tracking down his contact even before the diagnosis was confirmed. The diagnosis raises extra concerns because Spencer reportedly used the subway and went to a bowling alley on Wednesday night." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lamgrxq

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SC: House Speaker pleads guilty on six counts, resigns

USA Today

"South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell pleaded guilty Thursday to misconduct in office charges and agreed to immediately resign, ending his run as one of the state's most powerful politicians. Harrell pleaded guilty to six counts of misconduct during a hearing at the Richland County Judicial Center. As part of the plea agreement, he was sentenced to six years in prison, which was suspended, and instead given three years of probation with a $30,000 fine. He must reimburse the state $93,958, the amount the state says he took from a campaign account for personal use." [editor's note: No, the article doesn't mention his partisan affiliation -- he's a Republican - TLK]

http://tinyurl.com/ntpv824

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IL: Chicago reporter quits, claims governor candidate influenced paper

Reuters Reuters

"A veteran Illinois political reporter quit his job at the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday and accused the newspaper of bowing to pressure from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner by removing him from the campaign beat. Dave McKinney, a 19-year veteran of the paper who covered the state capital, said in his resignation letter that the paper reassigned him after the Rauner campaign accused him of a conflict of interest, which he denies." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lumalpp

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UT: State Supreme Court lifts same-sex adoption ban

Salt Lake Tribune

"The Utah Supreme Court on Thursday lifted a stay which had barred from completion four pending adoptions of children by their same-sex parents. The action clears the way for the Utah Department of Health to issue birth certificates that list the same-sex parents as the children’s legal parents. It will also restart countless other adoptions that were left in limbo by Utah’s contention that the cases should be on hold until it was clear that gay marriage would be legal in the Beehive state." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/odnfo4j

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Indiana residents: “My house is not for sale”

Fox News Fox News

"Indiana residents are fighting to save their homes as their local government weighs a sweeping plan to demolish them to make way for new development, in a case critics are calling a 'poster child' for the abuse of eminent-domain powers. Charlestown, IN, Mayor Bob Hall announced his plans earlier this year to demolish more than 350 homes in the city’s Pleasant Ridge neighborhood. The mayor contends the neighborhood is 'blighted,' and therefore the city is eligible for state money to buy out the homeowners and tear down their houses. His office argues the houses, originally bought by the Army in 1940, were meant to be temporary. But the 'temporary' houses remain very much occupied. And many residents are not interested in selling them, at least not for what the government might offer. According to the Institute for Justice, a national group that is aiding residents in their case, the state fund Hall wants to tap offers residents just $6,000 for their houses." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kcvnhmt

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Report: Google partners with Oxford U on AI efforts

Raw Story Raw Story

"Google Inc is expanding its artificial intelligence initiative, hiring more than half a dozen leading academics and experts in the field and announcing a partnership with Oxford University to 'accelerate' its efforts. Google will make a 'substantial contribution' to establish a research partnership with Oxford’s computer science and engineering departments, the company said on Thursday regarding its work to develop the intelligence of machines and software, often to emulate human-like intelligence. Google did not provide any financial details about the partnership, saying only in a post on its blog that it will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops 'to share knowledge and expertise.'" (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mnkc9hj

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WA: Seattle pols send threats to medical pot shops

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"The city of Seattle is warning its more than 300 medical marijuana businesses that their days could be numbered. Officials this week have sent letters to 330 medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries reminding them they need to either shut down or be licensed by the state by next summer. The problem is that the Legislature hasn't yet created a licensing system to allow sales of medical marijuana. How to regulate pot for medical use is expected to be a hot topic when lawmakers go back into session in January. Officials fear the unregulated cannabis is competing with Washington's new, highly taxed recreational market." [editor's note: Well, duh! Anything they don't have their regulatory clutches on is bound to be cheaper, even on the black market - SAT] (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lq9fjn9

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North Korea: Is Fowle’s release a bid to end isolation?

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"The release by the North Korean regime of US citizen Jeffrey Fowle appears to be at least a minimal move toward some kind of engagement by young leader Kim Jong-un. The context of Mr. Fowle’s release is both the terrific isolation in which North Korea finds itself, and the lack of desire in Washington to deal with the prickly regime, analysts say. As with most things involving the Kim family it is unknown how consequential the release of Fowle actually is." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m7jkoff

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Ello says hello to $5.5 million, legally vows not to advertise

Mashable

"Ello, the fledgling social network that has vowed not to run advertising, doubled down on that sentiment on Thursday by making itself a Public Benefit Corporation and putting the sentiment in its charter. A PBC's charter can't be changed even if the company is bought and investors can't force the company to do something that goes against its charter. ... The structure change coincides with $5.5 million in Series A funding from Foundry Group, Bullet Time Ventures and FreshTracks Capital." (10/23/14)

http://mashable.com/2014/10/23/ello-public-benefit-corporation/

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CA: Prisons to end racial segregation

San Francisco Examiner

"California officials agreed Wednesday to end a policy in which it segregated prison inmates after riots based on their race as a way to prevent further violence. Officers have frequently locked inmates in their cells based on which races were involved in the riot, even if individual inmates of that race were not directly implicated. The agreement to end the practice is spelled out in a 21-page settlement involving a lawsuit first filed in 2008. The agreement says future lockdowns may not be imposed or lifted based on race or ethnicity." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l3zgy8n

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OK: Judge lets abortion drug ban take effect

Raw Story Raw Story

"An Oklahoma judge said on Wednesday he will allow a law that bans abortion-inducing drugs to take effect as planned on Nov. 1, over the objections of abortion rights advocates who said the measure is poor public health policy that could put women at risk. Oklahoma District Court Judge Robert Stuart turned down a request by abortion rights groups to halt the measure from taking effect. Stuart also allowed a provision that would limit liability claims against physicians due to the law. According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Reproductive Services in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Services this month, the measure would lead to increased use of surgically induced abortions for cases where drugs can be used." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q4p9qbl

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NC: Probe reveals scope of Tarheel academic fraud

Fox News Fox News

"More than 3,100 students -- nearly half of them athletes -- enrolled in classes they didn't have to show up for and received artificially inflated grades, in what an investigator called a 'shadow curriculum' that lasted nearly two decades at the University of North Carolina. The report released Wednesday by former high-ranking U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found more far-reaching academic fraud than previous investigations by the school and the NCAA. Many at the university hoped Wainstein's investigation would bring some closure to the long-running scandal, which is rooted in an NCAA investigation focused on improper benefits within the football program in 2010. Instead, findings of a systemic problem in the former African and Afro-American Studies department could lead to NCAA sanctions and possible dismissal of additional UNC staff." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pt6dkxt

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SCOTUS: Ginsburg revises dissent on Texas voter suppression law

Fox News Fox News

"The U.S. Supreme Court made a rare correction on Wednesday to a dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Texas' controversial new voter-identification law. ... Aside from 'small stylistic changes,' Wednesday’s correction erases one sentence from Ginsberg’s official dissent that refers to photo identification cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs not being an acceptable form of ID in Texas -- when they actually are." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nexpyz9

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Brazil: Presidential candidates battle for their hometown

Reuters Reuters

"The two candidates in Brazil's presidential election runoff on Sunday grew up just seven blocks apart, attending the same elite tennis club, watching movies at the same theater and strolling through the same leafy plazas during the 1960s. They cheered for rival soccer teams, though, and eventually went down very different political paths. Dilma Rousseff joined a Marxist group that opposed that era's military dictatorship, while Aecio Neves embraced the more conservative ethos of his grandfather, a legend in Brazilian politics. Today, President Rousseff and Senator Neves are fighting for votes in their hometown of Belo Horizonte -- a critical battleground in a race that has gone down to the wire." [editor's note: Like they say, all politics is local - SAT] (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p2hlano

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Apple-1 computer sold at auction for $905,000

Fox News Fox News

"One of the first Apple-1 computers has been sold at auction for $905,000, making it the most expensive Apple computer ever. ... One of the first 50 Apple computers to be made, the pristine Apple-1 was constructed in 1976 by the company’s co-founder Steve Wozniak." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q9jjlm6

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VA: Camel maker Reynolds snuffs out workplace smoking

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. is snuffing out smoking in its offices and buildings. The nation's second-biggest tobacco company informed employees Wednesday that beginning next year, the use of traditional cigarettes, cigars or pipes will no longer be permitted at employee desks or offices, conference rooms, hallways and elevators. Lighting up already is prohibited on factory floors and in cafeterias and fitness centers. The no-smoking policy will go into effect once Reynolds builds indoor smoking areas for those still wanting to light up indoors, spokesman David Howard said." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qhq272a

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NY: New mayor, same old story; still marijuana arrest capital

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"New York City has long been called the 'marijuana arrest capital of the world.' Under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the nation’s largest city has maintained that reputation, continuing its aggressive campaign against those found possessing even the most trace amounts of the drug. In fact, Mayor de Blasio and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton have even outdone the previous administration, surpassing the marijuana possession arrest totals nearly every month this year compared with last, according to a study by the Drug Policy Alliance released Monday." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kfvqd7a

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South Korea takes down “Christmas tree” border tower

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"South Korea has taken down a tower at its border with North Korea, which has in the past been decorated as a Christmas tree by Christian groups. The 60 foot tower has previously been covered in colourful lights at Christmas and topped with a cross. The North, which is officially atheist, saw this as religious and political propaganda and threatened to shell it. Its removal comes a week after senior military officials from the two Koreas met for the first time in seven years." (10/22/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29718662

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Jury convicts ex-Blackwater guards in Iraq murders; appeals expected

Los Angeles Times

"A federal jury Wednesday convicted four former Blackwater security guards who had been charged with killing 14 Iraqis in Baghdad seven years ago in a shooting that became a symbol of U.S. treatment of Iraqi civilians. After nearly 30 days of deliberation, the jury in found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, while three other guards -- Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard -- were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. ... Prosecutors said the shootings, in which 37 people were killed or injured, were unprovoked, the result of trigger-happy civilian security guards nervous about intelligence reports that a white Kia carrying a car bomb was circulating in the city looking for a target." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nxlr6jq

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WHO: Ebola serum for Africa within weeks

BBC News [UK state media]

"Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization. Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015. The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people. Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone." (10/21/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29707393

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CO: Udall lead fades in Senate race

Christian Science Monitor

"One of the most watched elections in the country right now wasn't originally supposed to be competitive. The outcome of the race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, could end up determining which party controls the Senate. Senator Udall's early leads in the polls have dwindled until, in the past month, nearly every poll has showed Representative Gardner holding a slim lead." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nyo2bk9

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PA: Corbett, grandstanding, signs law intended to shut up Mumia

Philly.com

"Just a few feet from the site where Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was [allegedly] gunned down by Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981, Gov. Corbett on Tuesday signed into law a bill that would aim to [change his ebbing political fortunes by satisfying the powerful police lobby]. ... Maureen Faulkner said Abu-Jamal's continued media presence makes it hard for her to move on from her husband's murder. ... The law allows victims of a crime to seek an injunction against 'conduct which perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim.'" (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o7nlggf

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Ben Bradlee, 1921-2014

Washington Post

"Benjamin C. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post’s transformation into one of the world’s leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93. ... The most compelling story of Bradlee’s tenure, almost certainly the one of greatest consequence, was Watergate, a political scandal touched off by The Post’s reporting that ended in the only resignation of a president in U.S. history." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mt26eju

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Report: US visa program for crime victims is hit-or-miss

Reuters

"The U visa program was created by Congress to help police and prosecutors build trust with immigrant communities. But national data analyzed by Reuters, along with dozens of interviews with police, prosecutors, lawyers and immigrants across the country, show that for undocumented immigrants ... who seek a U visa by helping the police, the chances of gaining a legal toehold in the United States are largely a matter of geography." (10/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kpudtfm

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Commentary


| News | Events |

The singular Henry George: Insights and influence

David S. D'Amato Libertarianism.org
by David S. D'Amato

"A committed advocate of free trade and a narrowly tailored, limited government, George was a genuine and principled libertarian, energetically opposing government interventions in the economy such as, for example, subsidized railroads. Yet given today’s political vernacular, George’s distinctive thought may seem to present a kind of paradox. To the extent that most Americans now wrongly associate support for free enterprise and limited government with the defense of big business, George’s economic populism, his backing of labor and hostility toward powerful monopolies may seem an odd fit with his essentially libertarian philosophy." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qcofpmu

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The stealth campaign to buy America’s courts

The Nation The Nation Blog
by Zoe Carpenter

"Cole County, Missouri, seems an unlikely place for a national Republican group to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a small county of 75,000, and its leadership is solidly red, with few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Pat Joyce, a Democrat who’s held her seat on the country circuit court for two decades. Until a few weeks ago, with $17,000 on hand and her opponent nearly $13,000 in debt, her chances of serving another term seemed good. That financial advantage vanished abruptly in mid-October when the Republican State Leadership Committee stepped in with $200,000 to save Republican Brian Stumpe. Half of that money went directly to his campaign. The rest went to the RSLC’s local political action committee, which ran a tie-dye hued ad that accused Joyce of being a 'groovy' ally of 'radical environmentalists.'" (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lxs574p

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The sharing economy’s “first strike”

In These Times In These Times
by Rebecca Burns

"Silicon Valley types often wax lyrical about the way that the app-based 'sharing economy' disrupts existing business models and create new forms of social relations. When tech magnates extol 'disruption,' of course, they likely aren’t talking about the sort caused by labor actions. But on October 22, tech-giant Uber got a taste of its own disruptive medicine when drivers in at least five cities who work on the ridesharing platform turned off their apps and stopped picking up passengers, in protest of what they say are unjust working conditions and a dwindling share in the company’s profits. Some drivers are calling this action the first strike in the 'sharing economy,' a sector known for its aversion to labor organizing." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/npnwlvv

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Epic fail: Some pushback from the nurses

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle
by Jon Carroll

"The Ebola epidemic has brought about a wealth of chatter, much of it uninformed. The apparently esteemed George Will said on television that Ebola is an airborne infection, which is utterly untrue. Ebola is not the flu. It is not the super-bug, although it’s pretty darned bad. But when the medical community talks to itself online, a lot of the chatter is about the treatment of patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas -- in specific, why did it take the hospital so long to diagnose and correctly treat Duncan. Duncan died after 10 days of care. It is, of course, not clear whether prompter action would have saved him, but it sure would have helped. One of the reasons that Duncan was sent home with a fever is that the nurse’s note saying that he’d traveled to West Africa had apparently been ignored or lost by the doctor. One of the threads online was the complaint that doctors do not listen to nurses." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/obd9o9x

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Andrew Cockburn on The Scott Horton Show

The Scott Horton Show
by

"Andrew Cockburn, author of Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, discusses his article 'Flying Blind: The U.S. air-power lobby, botched bombing missions, and bootless combat.'" [Flash audio or MP3] (10/22/14)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/10/22/102214-andrew-cockburn/

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Barack Obama, the veto-less president

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"If the Republicans take over the Senate in this year's election, as now looks likely, one thing seems certain: President Obama will be issuing a lot of vetoes in the next two years. Or maybe not over the whole two years, but certainly at first. With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 2006, there would be an initial spasm of pointless legislating, as they set about to fulfill the promises they've made over the course of Obama's presidency: repealing the Affordable Care Act, slashing environmental protections, cutting taxes, establishing 'the Reagan' as the new currency to replace the dollar, and so on." (10/23/14)

http://prospect.org/article/barack-obama-veto-less-president

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Robots may spell “Control-Alt-Delete” for workers

Reuters Reuters
by Andy Mukherjee

"Human beings can never run out of work. Adam Smith held that cheery view, and so far he has been proved right. But can the invisible hand match up to the robotic arm? About 47 percent of existing U.S. jobs are at risk from computerisation, according to an Oxford University study published last year. If wage incomes were to disappear in a short time, the results could be cataclysmic for prosperity and peace. From steam engine to the Internet, technological progress has been an expansionary force. Smith’s conviction that workers will benefit from technological change has been a clear winner over the idea that work is finite. Though old jobs have vanished, new and better ones have been created. The massive and rapid rise of robots could challenge this happy state." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mfauuwf

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GOP Story Hour

The Cagle Post
by Randall Enos

Cartoon. (10/22/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/10/gop-fairy-tale/

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Iowa TV station refuses to run “cuts kill” ad

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"The country has been subjected to weeks of ebola fear/terror/panic/propaganda going out over the airwaves (and from one network in particular) just in time to drive fear into the election. Now a group has put together an election ad making the case that the country would have less to worry about if we hadn’t been stampeded (also by fear) into austerity budget cuts. ... A new ad has been produced by the Agenda Project Action Fund. It is titled 'Republican Cuts Kill Part II: Joni Ernst Wants to Cut.' The ad makes the case that Republicans forced cuts to the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which reduced the capabilities of these programs to contain a deadly virus like ebola." [editor's note: Since those agencies have been basically inept in most previous "health crises" ... - SAT] (10/232/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mh8jpal

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Is Obama stalling until Republicans can bury the CIA torture report?

Dan Froomkin The Intercept
by Dan Froomkin

"Senator Dianne Feinstein’s intelligence committee sent a 480-page executive summary of its extensive report on the CIA’s abuse of detainees to the White House for declassification more than six months ago. In August, the White House, working closely with the CIA, sent back redactions that Feinstein and other Senate Democrats said rendered the summary unintelligible and unsupported. Since then, the wrangling has continued behind closed doors, with projected release dates repeatedly falling by the wayside. ... Human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, who interviewed a wide range of intelligence and administration officials for his upcoming book, 'Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Foreign Policy,' told The Intercept that the White House and the CIA are hoping a Republican Senate will, in their words, 'put an end to this nonsense.'" (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/me2p82h

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Why pro-war pundits are always wrong

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Charles Davis

"There is no shortage of men and women -- but mostly men, typically white -- willing to write 800- to 1,000-word editorials on the need for Decisive Action or Continued Resolve in Whereverthehellistan. Some of these people are historians, some are journalists, but all have attained material success in the field of arguing about war without ever once having to go through the trouble of being right. It is a full-time profession where it undeniably pays to be wrong and speak to power only what power wants to hear, with American advocates of mass killing from El Salvador to Iraq some of the last in their homeland to earn a living wage. Damning the individuals is good, wholesome fun, but the problem is the systemic reward." (10/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k6fzsel

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How Paul Krugman learned to stop worrying and love income inequality

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Joel Schlosberg and Thomas L. Knapp

"Amazon's existence lowers book prices for readers in multifarious ways, from selection competition to electronic editions to its online marketplace for used copies. Yet Amazon has simultaneously diminished the cost for anyone to publish and sell books and earn money. By offering an alternative to the genuine near-monopoly of capital-intensive big publishers, Amazon distributes those lower prices and that new revenue more evenly among readers and authors. Hachette and Krugman know they can’t turn back the clock that produced Amazon’s burgeoning marketplaces, preferring to benefit from them, but are convinced Amazon owes them a walled garden, sparing them price competition with the rabble. They want Amazon to preserve their income inequality at the expense of its customers." (10/22/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/32825

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Saunders’s one-stop election shop

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

"Jerry Brown's going to win his second bid for re-election -- and that's OK. Given the state's blueness, Dao Gov is probably the best governor the state can get. Still, it's not a bad idea to send Brown a message that voters don't want him to turn too far to the left by voting for Republican Neel Kashkari. Below I include a column on the one debate between Brown and Kashkari, and a column about Brown's sense of loyalty, such as it is." [editor's note: Some of this is just conservative GOPism, but Ms. Saunders deserves a hearing for the bulk of her pro-liberty work (and there are no libertarians in the mix now anyway, thanks to the "top two" law!) - SAT] (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nv4wfqn

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Obama learning LBJ lesson: Guns or butter, not both

Reuters Reuters
by Robert Dallek

"President Barack Obama has lost his hold on a majority of Americans, according to recent polls. Though more than two years remain in his term, the popular appeal that propelled him to win the 2008 and 2012 elections may be beyond recovery. It is sadly reminiscent of what President Lyndon B. Johnson experienced in the mid-1960s after winning the 1964 presidential election by one of the largest landslides in U.S. history. This is not to suggest that history is repeating itself. There are too many differences between Johnson and Obama (both the men and their presidencies) to argue that. Yet, as Mark Twain said, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." [editor's note: Despite the fawning over both tyrants, and the atrocities they perpetrated, this is a fairly good analysis of their similarities - SAT] (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nsd4dub

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Why liberals love (and trust) NPR

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"The Pew Research Center has one of its ginormous studies out today, this one about polarization and media use, and as usual it's full of interesting stuff. I want to make a point about news in general and NPR in particular, and then after that, for those who care about these things, I have a methodological point to make about how we measure ideology. One of the distinct things about the Pew results is that conservatives love, love, love Fox News, while no single news outlet has the same kind of near-universal use among liberals. ... But the really interesting difference emerges when they ask which sources people trust" [editor's note: I wake up to NPR, catch up on it while driving, and avoid ALL TV news (except Stewart & Colbert, for chuckles) - SAT] (10/22/14)

http://prospect.org/article/why-liberals-love-and-trust-npr

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Local surrealist Cory Gardner

The Cagle Post
by Michael Keefe

Cartoon. (10/21/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/10/local-surrealist-cory-gardner/

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Does democracy let “the poor” dominate?

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"Hong Kong’s leader/chief executive Leung Chun-ying slammed pro-democracy protesters, saying that democracy would allow the poor too much of a voice. Leung said that a Chinese-style government appointed from the top allows for more business-friendly policies. I suspect Leung’s comments echo the view of elites worldwide. This week The New York Times reported on Leung’s comments, writing, 'Mr. Leung’s blunt remarks reflect a widely held view among the Hong Kong elite that the general public cannot be trusted to govern the city well.'” [editor's note: When "demoncrazy" (my term) is allowed to run unchecked (with no zone of sovereignty around peaceful individuals), it's a curse, not a blessing. However, in this case, Leung is full of the usual crap - SAT] (10/22/14)

http://ourfuture.org/20141022/does-democracy-let-the-poor-dominate

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Can student credit unions solve college affordability problem?

The Nation The Nation
by Helene Barthelemy

"In the past two years, Columbia University students have attempted to remedy the vexing problem of college affordability with an old but largely untried idea: a student credit union. Credit unions form 'the cooperatively owned alternative to traditional banks' in which profits go to providing better rates and lower fees for the credit union’s clients. Recipients of capital become shareholders in the institution and participate in its decisions." [editor's note: It could be one answer; it's sure made my life easier! - SAT] (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nhaoht2

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The neo-scramble for Africa

In These Times In These Times
by Salim Muwakkil

"In the new race for Africa, the United States staked its position in early August, when President Obama convened four dozen African heads of state for the first-ever U.S.-African Leaders Summit. The three-day gathering was the most direct expression of the United States’ growing concern with China’s deepening influence on the continent. According to the Brookings Institution, China overtook the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009 and has been widening the margin ever since. China’s not acting out of altruism, of course. It has developed an insatiable appetite for Africa’s mineral and petroleum resources." (10/22/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17244/obama_africa_summit

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The Ebola response: American stupidity at its finest

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Charles R. Larson

"Ebola is the ideal focal point for anger against the president, because few Americans know anything about the history of the disease and most know even less about the African continent, with its varied and enormously different 54 countries. They’re not interested. They’re more interested in computer games, TV, and other forms of entertainment, because that is all they really want: to be entertained. Well, ignoring Africa has brought Ebola to our shores, though I doubt that this will be the wake-up call epidemiologists hope for. Once it is contained months from now, Americans will forget all about the pandemic until the next one ravages the world. In the meantime, what we’re observing is American stupidity at its finest." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nr6765g

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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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Events


| News | Commentary |

Standard Model goes pear-shaped in CERN experiment

The Register [UK]

"It's only a small thing, but it could be big news: researchers at CERN have turned up the first evidence of exotic (and short-lived) atoms with pear-shaped nuclei. The reasons the boffins are excited is they believe the eccentric nuclei can help them probe one of physics' official Big Questions: how come there's something instead of nothing?" (05/09/13)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/09/pear_shaped_exotic_nuclei/

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FDA issues warning for over-the-counter diarrhea drug

Fox News

"The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use an over-the-counter drug called Intestinomicina because the anti-diarrhea treatment contains a drug linked to life-threatening injuries. The El Salvador-manufactured drug comes in pills and liquid forms and is sold as a treatment for infectious diarrhea at international grocery stores and specialty stores in the U.S. Regulators say Intestinomicina contains the drug chloramphenicol, which can interfere with the production of red and white blood cells. People with anemia and other low blood cell counts are at greater risk of injury or death from using the drug." (09/19/12)

http://tinyurl.com/8t3oo49

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Egypt: Push strengthens for blasphemy clause in constitution

Christian Science Monitor

"Last week's protests in reaction to an anti-Islam YouTube clip have led to Egyptian demands that the US prosecute the filmmakers and may give a decisive push to an effort to enshrine in the Egyptian constitution the criminalization of blasphemy, or insulting religious figures. While the US-based filmmakers are protected under the First Amendment in the US, in some parts of the Middle East they could be prosecuted under laws that criminalize disparaging religion. In Egypt, the backlash could bolster a preexisting effort to insert a clause banning religious insults into Egypt’s new constitution." [editor's note: Yes, that's surely why constitutions were created ... NOT! - SAT] (09/16/12)

http://tinyurl.com/9zodrvb

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In unusual “snub,” Obama wont be meeting Netanyahu

Reuters

"In a highly unusual rebuff to a close ally as tensions escalated over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program, the White House said on Tuesday President Barack Obama would not meet Benjamin Netanyahu during the Israeli prime minister's U.S. visit later this month. The apparent snub, coupled with Netanyahu's sharpened demands for a tougher U.S. line against Iran, threatened to plunge U.S.-Israeli relations into crisis and add pressure on Obama in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign." [editor's note: I changed their headline to indicate the reality; two world leaders both happen to be speaking at the U.N. ... on different days - SAT] (09/12/12)

http://tinyurl.com/96g2uqw

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Report: In Nigeria, a concrete get-rich scheme

Reuters

"Aliko Dangote has always liked making things to sell. As a child he boiled up sugar to make sweets he sold around town; these days he cooks up limestone in factories that produce millions of tonnes of cement. Dangote's entrepreneurial skills have helped make him Africa's richest person, with cement plants opened or under construction everywhere from Senegal to Ethiopia to South Africa. He dreams of owning the largest cement firm on the planet. By 2015, he hopes, his industrial conglomerate will be worth four times its current estimated $15 billion." (09/11/12)

http://tinyurl.com/8scc49g

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