Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

UN’s Pillay: “Strong possibility” of war crimes in Gaza, Israel

Deutsche Welle [Germany]

"Israel's airstrikes and military actions in the Gaza Strip could amount to war crimes, the UN's high commissioner for human rights said in Geneva on Wednesday. Navi Pillay cited cases of Israeli airstrikes or shelling hitting houses and hospitals in Gaza. ... The indiscriminate nature of Hamas rocket fire, Pillay said, also clearly went against principles of distinction and precaution when identifying military targets. (07/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k82gxza

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Petty: “No one’s got Christ more wrong than the Christians”

Raw Story

"Veteran rocker Tom Petty isn’t pulling any punches with his new song 'Playing Dumb.' In an interview with Billboard magazine, Petty said that he wrote the song about the decades of child sex abuse in the Catholic church and the elaborate lengths that priests and their leaders have gone to cover up the crimes. 'I’m fine with whatever religion you want to have,' Petty said, 'but it can’t tell anybody it’s OK to kill people, and it can’t abuse children systematically for God knows how many years.' Petty went on to say that he doesn’t understand why people continue to donate to the church, which has paid out millions of dollars in legal settlements to the victims of child-molesting priests." (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lbytp7c

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ND: Race for agriculture commissioner “all about oil”

Reuters

"North Dakota's biggest oil producers have picked a side and put money into an obscure election for the state's agriculture commissioner, hoping to ward off a rising Democratic challenger who could limit development of new wells and pipelines. With a legislature that meets only every two years, North Dakota has given an unusual amount of power to the agriculture commissioner and two other members of the state's Industrial Commission, charging the triumvirate with oversight of permitting and other issues critical to the oil industry, which hopes to drill 35,000 new wells within 15 years. North Dakota produces 1 million barrels of oil each day -- more than any state except Texas and even some OPEC members." (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mwpdjj8

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YouTube star Michelle Phan sued over copyright

BBC News [UK state media]

"A leading YouTube entrepreneur is facing legal action for alleged copyright infringement in her videos. Ultra Records, which has musicians Kaskade, deadmau5 and Calvin Harris on its books, is suing Michelle Phan. The label and its publishing arm claim she has used about 50 of their songs without permission in her YouTube videos and on her own website. But one of the artists whose work she is alleged to have used has said he supports Ms Phan." (07/22/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28418449

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Indonesia: Widodo wins presidency, but rival won’t concede

Christian Science Monitor

"Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo is the winner of Indonesia's presidential race, the country's election commission confirmed Tuesday. The former furniture salesman with a popular everyman touch will lead the world's third largest democracy. Mr. Widodo won 53 percent of the vote, according to the Election Commission, confirming early predictions that he had bested former Gen. Prabowo Subianto in the country's third direct presidential election." (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lub2f5m

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FAA to US airlines: Don’t fly to Tel Aviv

San Francisco Chronicle

"The Federal Aviation Administration told U.S. airlines Tuesday they are prohibited from flying to the Tel Aviv airport in Israel for 24 hours following a Hamas rocket explosion nearby. The ban began 12:15 p.m. EST on Tuesday, the agency said in a statement. 'Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport by U.S. operators are prohibited until further advised,' the FAA said in its notice to airlines. The rocket strike landed about one mile from the airport." (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lxg2w5u

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NV: Talk on cracking Internet anonymity service Tor canceled

Reuters

"A highly anticipated talk on how to identify users of the Internet privacy service Tor was withdrawn from the upcoming Black Hat security conference, a spokeswoman for the event said on Monday. The talk was canceled at the request of attorneys for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where the speakers work as researchers, the spokeswoman, Meredith Corley, told Reuters. Tor is a double-edged sword that has given dissidents living under repressive regimes a way of communicating safely. But it has also enabled criminals to take advantage of its cloak of anonymity. " (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/np3vogg

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MD: Johns Hopkins Hospital pays out $190 million over doctor tapes

BBC News [UK state media]

"Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US state of Maryland has agreed to pay $190 million after some 8,000 women joined a legal case claiming a gynaecologist had secretly recorded them. Dr Nikita Levy, who killed himself last year, reportedly used cameras in pens and key fobs to tape patients. Lawyer Jonathan Schochor said all of the women had been 'brutalized' and described it as a 'betrayal.' The settlement is believed to be the largest of its kind in US history." (07/21/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28410304

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CVS: Hep C drugs could add $300 to every yearly premium

San Francisco Chronicle

"Gilead Sciences’ new hepatitis C drug receives as much praise for its healing powers as it receives criticism of its price, $84,000 for 12 weeks. Those parallel storylines played out even further in a prominent scientific journal’s latest edition, published online over the weekend. In one study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Sovaldi and the medication with which it must be taken, ribavirin, were found to cure high rates of patients with both hepatitis C and HIV." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m9259o3

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Obama executive order bars federal discrimination against LGBT people

Raw Story

"President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The order did not include new exemptions for religious organizations, a move that was welcomed by gay rights activists. For a long time the White House has resisted issuing such an executive order, preferring instead to push for legislation in Congress that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in workplaces nationwide. But that legislation stalled in Congress, and advocates pressed Obama to take action to bar such discrimination among federal contractors, who make up about a fifth of the U.S. work force." [editor's note: At last? Something decreed by fiat that's actually within his proper power-range? - SAT] (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n2fvw3w

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New TSA security fee hike will make airfare more expensive

Fox News

"Air travel is getting more expensive. Starting today, the Transportation Security Administration is raising the mandatory security fee put into place after Sept. 11, 2011. The government isn’t just raising it, it’s more than doubling fees for some travelers -- and redefining the definition of a flight. Under the previous security fee structure, consumers paid $2.50 for a single leg and there was a cap of $5 on any one-way ticket, so fliers paid at most $10 for any round-trip flight. The new fee raises each leg to $5.60 and puts no cap on the total you can pay based on layovers. " (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ku3gaj8

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India: NGOs on tenterhooks after accusatory government report

Christian Science Monitor

"India's 2 million nongovernmental organizations are prominent advocates on issues from women's rights to educational equality. But over the past few weeks, the atmosphere for advocacy NGOs, and in particular those funded by foreign donors, has become decidedly chilly. The home ministry is running a national investigation into the funding of all NGOs after the leak of a classified report last month which blamed a handful of foreign-funded NGOs for stalling development projects in India. The report, by an internal security agency, claimed that these group's activism resulted in a 2-3 percent decrease in India's economy." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ltvgp3d

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Obama signs order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors

Los Angeles Times

"President Obama signed an executive order Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees and prohibiting discrimination against federal workers who identify as transgender. ... Obama's two-part directive will amend an existing executive order that was issued by President Johnson in 1965 preventing federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The new order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to this list." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mbwtzqx

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Economy’s fate could be set by next two weeks’ earnings

Reuters

"A long hoped for improvement in the economy appears to be manifesting itself in second-quarter U.S. earnings, but the next two weeks could be the real test. Companies such as General Electric Co and Intel Corp have reported solid results. In addition, GE believes now is a ripe moment to spin off its private label credit card division in the hopes growing consumer demand will make it more attractive. Intel declared that personal computer sales have stabilized, while it forecast third-quarter revenue above Wall Street's expectations." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k7k5o7n

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Iran nuclear talks: Comprehensive deal still on the table?

Christian Science Monitor

"Though diplomats from Iran and six world powers are talking up the 'substantial progress' that led to an extension of nuclear talks until November, crucial differences still threaten a final deal to ensure Iran can never produce a bomb. And it is not clear yet if the gap can be bridged over the scale of Iran’s future uranium enrichment given the insistence by both Washington and Tehran that the other side must make 'hard choices' to clinch a deal. Across Iran’s political spectrum there is wide support for the nuclear program -- and for a comprehensive nuclear deal that removes sanctions from its struggling economy." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q3l4pk7

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Hot mic catches Kerry slamming Israel’s Gaza operation

San Francisco Chronicle

"Secretary of State John Kerry had an awkward exchange Sunday morning when Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace confronted him with an 'extraordinary' hot mic moment apparently discussing ongoing conflict in Gaza. 'While you were on camera and while you were on microphone, you just spoke to one of your top aides in between the interviews about the situation in Israel and the fact that 14 Israelis have either been shot or killed in an operation. We want to play a clip of that conversation because it's an extraordinary moment of diplomacy,' Wallace said." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ozv8m6t

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NY: Gun range in business for 73 years forced to close

Fox News

"A New York gun range has been forced to close its doors after more than 70 years in business, following a bitter dispute with its neighbors over noise and safety issues. The Westchester Police Revolver and Rifle League, in Greenburgh, a nonprofit open-air range dating to the 1940s, was targeted by neighbors who wanted the facility closed, CBS New York reported. The fight between the range, which is nestled into an old rock quarry, and local residents moved from the neighborhood to town hall last week, when both sides had their say on the matter." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oae3xf8

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NYC pain doc convicted of manslaughter for illegal prescriptions

Raw Story

"A New York City pain management doctor was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and other charges for selling narcotics prescriptions to 20 patients, including two who fatally overdosed. A jury in Manhattan Supreme Court found Stan Li, 60, guilty on nearly 200 criminal counts, including manslaughter, grand larceny and drug trafficking, the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, said in a statement. Authorities in November 2011 arrested Li, who worked as a physician in New Jersey and ran a weekend pain clinic in Queens, following a three-and-a-half-year investigation sparked by complaints about his prescribing practices by his patients’ families and the community." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p3ycbf7

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Feds move to reduce sentences of 46,000 drug war prisoners

Los Angeles Times

"The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted Friday to slash the sentences of 46,000 inmates serving time for drug offenses, the latest move by federal officials to ease decades-old policies that have clogged the nation's prisons. If the decision is not blocked by Congress, nearly half of federal prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes will be eligible for sentence reductions averaging more than two years. It would take effect Nov. 1, 2015." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ol7mqlh

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IL: Quinn OKs cannabis use for kids with epilepsy

San Francisco Chronicle

"Minors with epilepsy would be allowed to use medical marijuana under a measure Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed Sunday. The measure adds seizures to the list of treatable conditions in the state's medical cannabis program and allows children with seizures from epilepsy to consume oil from the marijuana plant with a parent's consent. It was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Iris Martinez of Chicago and Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, and passed the Legislature in the spring. The original medical marijuana law had allowed only Illinois residents 18 years and older to use the drug in a four-year pilot program." (07/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkb2b26

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FL: Jury hits tobacco company RJ Reynolds with $23 billion verdict

USA Today

"A Florida jury has returned one of the largest verdicts ever against a tobacco company. The jury in the case Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company sided Friday night with Robinson, the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, to award her more than $16 million in compensatory damages and $23 billion in punitive damages. ... Reynolds'[s] vice president and assistant general counsel, Jeffery Raborn, called the damages in Robinson's case 'grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.'" (07/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nl32nu4

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AZ: Federal appeals court halts scheduled state killing

Reuters

"A U.S. appeals court on Saturday ordered the scheduled execution of an Arizona man condemned for killing of his ex-girlfriend and her father in 1989 be put on hold until the state provides more details about the lethal injection procedure he faces. Joseph Wood, 55, had been slated to be put to death on Wednesday at the state prison complex in Florence, about 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Phoenix. But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the death row inmate was entitled to more information about the drugs that will be used to end his life and the qualifications of the executioners." (07/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l5awfk3

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US Senate votes to extend terrorism insurance backstop

Raw Story

"The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to reauthorize a federal terrorism risk insurance program that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Senators voted 93-4 in favor of a bill that gives the federal insurance backstop seven more years. Businesses, owners of sports stadiums and other groups that insure against the risk of terrorist acts have urged lawmakers to renew the program before it expires at the end of the year." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/la4max7

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US House votes to “allow” marijuana-related banking

Fox News

"The House voted Wednesday in support of making it easier for banks to do business with legal pot shops and providers of medical marijuana. The 236-186 vote rejected a move by Rep. John Fleming [R-LA] to block the Treasury Department from implementing guidance it issued in February telling banks how to report on their dealings with marijuana-related businesses without running afoul of federal money-laundering laws. Marijuana dealing is still against federal law, so banks who do business with marijuana dispensaries could be accused of helping them launder their money. Federal money laundering convictions can mean decades in prison. The Treasury guidance was intended to give banks confidence that they can deal with marijuana businesses in states where they're legal. Many banks are still reluctant to do so." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mmmq6go

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MA: State moves on abortion clinic bill

Christian Science Monitor

"Massachusetts lawmakers are moving quickly on new legislation to protect access to abortion clinics in the wake of the US Supreme Court striking down the state’s 35-foot buffer zones. If the bill passes, only time will tell whether it can survive another free speech challenge. But advocates for abortion rights say it’s responsive to the McCullen v. Coakley decision and could even become a model for other states. The bill allows police to order individuals to withdraw if they substantially impede access to a reproductive healthcare facility. Those individuals would have to stay outside a 25-foot boundary for a maximum of eight hours." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lwaprda

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Commentary


| News | Events |

An abortion act that’s fast-tracked to nowhere

Wendy Mcelroy The Hill
by Wendy McElroy

"Senate Democrats wish to eliminate almost every legislative gain made on the state level by pro-life activists in recent years. But the bill they propose as a solution is an attempt to federalize abortion and an unconstitutional attack on states' rights. It is also doomed to fail except, of course, in the goal of rousing the Democratic voting blocks of liberals and women." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lddtgb3

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ISIS: Yes, Mr. Blair, you did build this

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson

"Last month, in a tone which might best be called unlikely insistence, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair reassured the public that 'we' -- the UK and United States -- 'have to liberate ourselves from the notion that we caused' the destabilization of Iraq by the ISIS insurgency. Well, actually you did." (07/21/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/29482

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Blood, treasure and soul: The exorbitant price of the American empire

Come Home America Come Home America
by Mike Marion

"It is probably safe to assume that most Americans do not think of their country as an empire. As a conservative in my younger years, I might have even labeled the suggestion as anti-American, rationalizing to myself: Sure, we may have strategic military bases around the world and we may use force at times, but it is only for benevolent purposes. We get the bad guys, give the country back to the good guys, and we leave. The US does not try to rule the world. I was wrong." (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pugafwa

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Rand Paul: Less government, more sharing economy

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

"Who will be the GOP nominee in 2016? I don't know, but I have a pretty good idea who the running mate will be: Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Unless Paul is the nominee. A new NBC/Marist poll found Paul would be the top GOP vote-getter against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the critical early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Political reporter Chuck Todd duly has proclaimed Paul the Republican front-runner. So I had to see the libertarian-leaning darling Saturday." [editor's note: Been kinda waiting for Ms. Saunders (who's more libertarian than GOPservative, despite her claims to the contrary?) to assess this one ... - SAT] (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m8rctzm

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How Silicon Valley millionaires stole progressivism

The Nation
by Zelda Bronstein

"On a Saturday afternoon in early February, more than 600 residents of San Francisco gathered at the Tenderloin Elementary School for a citywide tenants’ convention. The attendees (an eclectic mix of old and young, veteran activists and political newcomers) came from neighborhoods all over town. They joined together to fight the soaring rents and mounting evictions that have accompanied the tech incursion into San Francisco, and that are threatening to turn a city famed for its inclusive, liberal character into an enclave of wealth and privilege." [editor's note: What? Somebody has co-opted a movement -- just as the socialists co-opted the peace effort some 40-50 years ago? I am truly shocked - SAT] (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pj8dz9e

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Note to TW stockholders: Listen to Murdoch’s muzzled minorities

Reuters
by Rob Cox

"Time Warner shareholders pondering whether to surrender to Rupert Murdoch would be well advised to listen to the media mogul’s muzzled minorities. Most Twenty-First Century Fox believers are relegated to owning non-voting stock in the entertainment conglomerate, the same second-tier paper on offer as part of the $80 billion takeover bid for the owner of HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. studios. Despite broad investor overlap in the two companies, the record shows a clear distaste for Murdoch’s imperialism." (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m27t257

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A brief history of progressivism

Ludwig von Mises Institute Ludwig von Mises Institute
by Andrew Syrios

"Assuming progress is one way and reaction the other is a kind of two-dimensional thinking that breaks down very quickly. For example, the progressives of the early twentieth century generally believed things that would abhor progressives of today. Those progressives were the ones who rammed through Prohibition against those 'economic conservatives who ... pushed so hard for repeal' as historian Daniel Okrent put it. The famous progressive William Jennings Bryan was a staunch supporter of Prohibition." (07/22/14)

http://mises.org/daily/6819/A-Brief-History-of-Progressivism

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Eric Margolis on The Scott Horton Show

Eric Margolis The Scott Horton Show
by

"Eric Margolis, author of American Raj, discusses Israel’s slaughter of Palestinian civilians in another 'mowing the lawn' operation, and Israel’s role in creating Hamas in the first place." [Flash audio or MP3] (07/22/14)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/07/21/072114-eric-margolis/

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Let’s get our politics above the snake line

Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"We’ve got to make our way to higher ground. We’ve got to get our politics above the snake line. People came to Netroots Nation to see Senator Elizabeth Warren speak, and discovered Rev. William Barber when they got here. If you are not yet tuned in to Rev. Barber you absolutely have to watch this speech (or a speech the prior week, at the American Federation of Teachers convention; I actually recommend watching both. After you watch this you will want to watch the other.)" (07/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/krl3rmz

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Are the media reporting the Gaza war fairly?

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Are the media finally getting the Israeli-Palestinian story right? It's a difficult question to answer, particularly when it would be hard to agree on what 'right' means. But it does look like we're seeing and hearing more about what's happening to Palestinian civilians than we have in previous flare-ups of this endless conflict. That's what Benjamin Wallace-Wells argues in a piece saying that Israel is losing the PR war in the American media." (07/21/14)

http://prospect.org/article/are-media-reporting-gaza-war-fairly

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The comforts of blame

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Binoy Kampmark

"What MH17 reveals is that the Cold War allusions, the secrecy dogmas, and the desire to make abundant hay from the information battles, has emptied the deaths of the victims of poignancy and reflective grief. A cruel atmosphere prevails, and it is proving toxic."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/22/the-comforts-of-blame/

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All aboard for net neutrality

In These Times
by Cole Stangler

"The future of net neutrality (the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all content equally) has never been so uncertain. In the absence of new federal action, telecom behemoths like Verizon and Comcast could soon ask deep-pocketed websites to pony up for speedier delivery of their content, leaving everyone else in the dust. Smaller sites could suffer from frustratingly slow loading speeds. Technically, there’s nothing on the books to stop this." (07/22/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16935/all_aboard_for_net_neutrality

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Measured responses in Israel-Gaza conflict

Cagle Post
by Dave Granlund

Cartoon. (07/21/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/07/israel-vs-gaza/

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Keeping a city by the sea from becoming a city in it

Reuters
by James Sanders & Jesse M. Keenan

"Virtually every big rainstorm in New York now seems to be accompanied by a flash-flood alert sent to cellphones. And scientists recently reported that a vast section of Antarctica’s ice sheet, now melting, might bring on as much as a 10-foot rise in the world’s sea levels in the coming decades. While the nation debates the appropriate response, the coastal cities threatened most by climate change (particularly New York) must somehow address the problem themselves. New York, at least, has begun. After Hurricane Sandy’s catastrophic impact in late 2012, it became obvious that the city must be able to minimize the serious damage caused by future climate “events” and bounce back." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n4ljdce

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Why Democrats need to take sides

The American Prospect
by Harold Meyerson

"This spring, a prominent Democratic pollster sent a memo to party leaders and Democratic elected officials advising them to speak and think differently. The nation’s economy had deteriorated so drastically, he cautioned, that they needed to abandon their references to the 'middle class,' substituting for those hallowed words the phrase 'working people.' ... 'In today’s harsh economic reality,' he wrote, “many voters no longer identify as middle class.' How many voters? In 2008, a Pew poll asked Americans to identify themselves by class. Fifty-three percent said they were middle-class; 25 percent said lower-class. When Pew asked the same question this January, it found that the number who’d called themselves middle-class had shrunk to 44 percent, while those who said they were of the lower class had grown from 25 percent to 40 percent." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nvfvbxr

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America’s border crisis of conscience

Our Future
by Terrance Heath

"Sixty bodies lie in a heap on the floor of a morgue that receives the corpses of children under 10 and as young as 2. It’s the body count for just one day, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. How can we in good conscience send children back there? We just did. The first planeload of mothers and children has returned to San Pedro Sula -- the most violent city in the world, in the most violent country in the world. The murder rate in Honduras is the highest of any country in the world, at 90.4 per 100,000 people. In San Pedro Sula, the murder rate is 169 per 100,000 people -- nine times the murder rate of Chicago. Every day, more children are among the dead." (07/21/14)

http://ourfuture.org/20140721/americas-border-crisis-of-conscience

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How should Obama deal with a world engulfed in war?

The Nationg
by Bob Dreyfuss

"It’s hard to remember a time (we’re talking even way back in the bad old days of the Cold War) when things were such a mess. It’s hard even to count the number of wars underway right at the moment, but let’s list at least some of them: there’s the Israeli invasion of Gaza, the civil strife in eastern Ukraine, the twin civil wars in Syria and Iraq, the ongoing Afghanistan war, Pakistan’s assault on Taliban strongholds, virtual civil war in Libya, general conflicts across Africa (Nigeria, Mali, the Sudans, Somalia and of course in the eastern Congo/Uganda region), drone strikes and civil war in Yemen. To that list we might add tensions pitting China against Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines and, of course, the high-stakes negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and the P5+1 world powers. And then there’s the immigration crisis at the border." (07/21/14)

http://www.thenation.com/blog/180736/world-engulfed-wars-what-do

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Middle East

Cagle Post
by Milt Priggee

Cartoon. (07/19/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/07/middleeast/

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The bad boss tax

In These Times
by Sarah Jaffe

"Can you name the worst job you’ve ever had? For Cliff Martin, that’s not an easy question. All three of his current jobs -- delivering newspapers, delivering magazines and working as a janitor -- are strong contenders. Taken together, they pay so poorly that the 20-year-old Northfield, Minnesota, native relies on MNsure, the state Medicaid plan, for healthcare and lives at home with his father to save money. But what if Martin’s bosses had to fork over a fee to the state for paying him so badly? That money, in turn, could be used to help support Martin and his fellow low-wage workers in a variety of ways, from direct subsidies for food and housing to social programs such as Medicaid or public transportation." [editor's note: If this proposal were linked solely to min-wage payments despite proven reliability and long service in the job, it MIGHT make some sense; as we all know, it would mostly be applied to first-time, entry-level, unskilled and unproven workers! - SAT] (07/21/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16949/the_bad_boss_tax

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Beware the peddlers of despair

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Dady Chery

"All around us -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, the Congo, Ivory Coast, Palestine, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere -- empires are tearing a trail of destruction. This is not a sign of strength but of weakness, because the aim of empire is not to destroy but to conquer. Since conquest cannot be achieved without the collaboration of the conquered, a campaign of demoralization is an essential component of empire." (07/21/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/21/beware-the-peddlers-of-despair/

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Empire reaches breaking point — time to end it

Antiwar.com Antiwar.com
by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

"The US is involved in military disputes around the globe, conflicts which could lead to a much broader war. The US role seems to encourage violence, rather than minimize it; to intervene, rather than allow people in the country or region resolve disputes. The breadth of Empire is costly in financial and human terms as well as to the respect of the United States and its people. Is the US Empire spread so thin at a time of a struggling economy that this is a moment where people can come together and build a movement to end Empire?" (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kw86ebf

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Amid student loan defaults, aid threatened

San Francisco Chronicle
by Kathleen Pender

"The threat of losing all federal financial aid -- including Pell grants and work-study jobs -- if too many former students default on their student loans has caused more community colleges to stop offering federal student loans altogether, according to a report issued last week by the Institute for College Access & Success. In California, seven more community colleges have stopped offering federal student loans since 2010-11, bringing the total to 22. Most are in the Central Valley and Inland Empire. Together these schools represent 12.6 percent of the state's community college enrollment." (07/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pmaxlry

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Where’s Eric Garner’s Amargosa?

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Ryan Calhoun

"In the city of Amargosa in Brazil, citizens took to the streets after a stray bullet fire by a local police officer struck and killed a one-year-old girl. But they didn’t stay in the streets. They quickly took the police station, freeing prisoners, jacking state-owned weaponry and burning the station and police vehicles to the ground. In the end, no one was seriously harmed and the message was sent: We won’t accept your institution’s 'collateral damage' any longer." (07/20/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/29484

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Obama says he ended the “war on drugs.” Don’t believe him

Cato Institute Cato Institute
by Jonathan Blanks

"The Obama administration says it wants to de-stigmatize drug addiction. But no matter how hard it tries, it’s virtually impossible to de-stigmatize behavior that is still a crime. And the administration is doing little to actually de-stigmatize drug use. Despite their supposed adherence to 'evidence-based practices,' officials steadfastly refuse to consider legalization or decriminalization, even though the evidence unambiguously shows drug prohibition has been a disaster." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l2uf8ka

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The triumph of dubious death penalty appeals

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

"A (all bow) federal judge has ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional because the state's 'dysfunctional administration' has meted out the punishment to more than 900 murderers, but imposed it on 'only 13' since 1972. That's too arbitrary, wrote U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney of Santa Ana. ... It doesn't bother Carney that Death Row inmates' lawyers have created that preposterous sentence -- remote possibility of death -- by slowing the wheels of justice with dubious time-sucking appeals. If appellate attorneys think delays are too painful for their clients, maybe they should curb their appeals." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qhavr4n

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Warren 2014 more important than Warren 2016

Our Future
by Bill Scher

"Over at Politico Magazine today, I analyzed the meaning of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s busy 2014 schedule, stumping and raising money for a wide range of Democratic candidates on the ballot this November. Many speculate this has something to do with 2016, but she has repeatedly and emphatically denied any presidential bid. Instead, people should pay attention to what she is saying on policy matters, how she is saying it, which candidates are following her lead, and gauging how well her message works on the trail. She is pioneering an 'us-versus-them' argument that fingers 'Wall Street' as the obstacle to progressive reform, an approach that’s subtly different from what President Obama is delivering on the stump." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pmou66p

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Dear Mr. Murdoch: Save yourself 80 billion bucks

Reuters
by Jack Shafer

"The first time Rupert Murdoch tried to acquire Warner, Ronald Reagan was completing his first term as president, the Bell System break-up was nearly finished, and the first Macintosh had just gone on sale. Murdoch’s aim was to construct an entertainment-information conglomerate on top of his existing newspaper properties. When Warner (or Warner Communications, as the parent company was called then) spurned his 1984 offer, he promptly went on to purchase 20th Century Fox as his bedrock and from that base built an international company that includes a American broadcast network, 28 terrestrial U.S. television stations, several satellite broadcasting entities, a profusion of cable television channels, an immensely profitable news network, and more." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nbcckk8

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Moral responsibility & the Israel-Palestinian conflict

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"As Israel begins a ground invasion of Gaza in which hundreds of civilians will almost certainly be killed and the endless misery of the people who live there will only intensify, we haven't actually seen much debate about the subject here in the U.S. There's plenty of news about it, but unlike most issues, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is one we don't actually argue about much. There aren't dueling op-eds in every paper the way there are when even a country Americans care far less about, like Ukraine, works its way into our attention." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p2qdohv

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Is cheap, public Internet possible?

In These Times
by David Sirota

"The business lobby often demands that government get out of the way of private corporations, so that competition can flourish and high-quality services can be efficiently delivered to as many consumers as possible. Yet, in an epic fight over telecommunications policy, the paradigm is now being flipped on its head, with corporate forces demanding the government squelch competition and halt the expansion of those high-quality services. Whether and how federal officials act may ultimately shape the future of America’s information economy. The front line in this fight is Chattanooga, Tennessee, where officials at the city’s public electric utility, EPB, realized that smart-grid energy infrastructure could also provide consumers super-fast Internet speeds at competitive prices." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p6sqr8z

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A painful silence from New York’s progressive congressmen on drone killings

Come Home America Come Home America
by staff

"A bill currently pending in Congress would require the administration to come clean about the killings it is carrying out with drones around the world. ... But some members of Congress have been slow to get on board. Notably absent are the members of the Progressive Caucus from New York State ..." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oqeng2y

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Meet the billionaire funders of the anti-diplomacy lobby

The Nation
by Eli Clifton

"My colleague Ali Gharib and I just published an article in The Nation in which we explore how hawkish, deep-pocketed organizations hold disproportionate influence in shaping the discussion about Iran-policy on Capitol Hill. These groups, in no small part due to their outsize budgets, shape sanctions legislation, dominate witness lists at congressional hearings, and help lead the opposition to the Obama administration’s efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lwaapau

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Malaysian Flight 17

Cagle Post
by Bob Englehart

Cartoon. (07/18/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/07/malaysian-flight-17/

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Israel and the psychological dynamics of totalitarianism

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Norman Pollack

"Silence, in the face of extreme moral provocation, is not golden; it is cowardice, in this case, for a Jewish person deeply respectful of Judaism for its ethical principles and writings, its 'home' to much of modern radicalism and social protest across religious, racial, ethnic lines in struggles on behalf of all humankind, the seat of devotion for his parents, to be silent NOW, is to be complicit in the degradation of one’s faith as Israel taking the name of the Jewish State and claiming to represent world Jewry commits wanton war crimes and atrocities -- and has for some time -- on a helpless, desperate, defenseless people who have been under the Iron Heel of occupation for decades." (07/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oszxws8

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Jose Antonio Vargas: Reporter without a visa at the border

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

"The star of a CNN film, Documented, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas went to Texas to bring attention to the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border illegally since October. On Tuesday, authorities detained Vargas at McAllen-Miller International Airport because his Philippine passport lacks a U.S. visa. Within hours, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released him. Upon release, Vargas issued a statement in which he noted that he had come to the border to shine a light on the children and the fear they must endure in the course of simple acts, like boarding a plane. The problem here is: Vargas is living proof that U.S. immigration enforcement is toothless." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lbpmtuw

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The Yes Men secure the homeland

In These Times
by The Yes Men

"The hosts of the Homeland Security Congress were getting anxious. It was ten minutes past the time former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell was scheduled to begin his big announcement. The defense contractors, law enforcement officials and assorted military personnel in the audience were starting to fidget. 'Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Powell is nearly here,' announced the conference host, a woman named Barbara wearing a bright red power suit. 'Please sit tight for another few minutes -- meet your neighbor! And get ready for what I hear will be an extremely interesting announcement about our nation’s new energy plan.'" [editor's note: This is actually quite funny; the HSC gets punked! - SAT] (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qepzymw

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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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