Progressive News Digest

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NC: Senate votes down repeal of HB2, House adjourns without vote

Charlotte Observer

"The North Carolina Senate voted down a repeal of House Bill 2 and adjourned Wednesday after a day of increasingly partisan rancor that pitted conservative Republicans against the Charlotte City Council they distrust. The state House adjourned without voting on repeal of the bill that has cost North Carolina millions of dollars in lost jobs, sports events and boycotts. Senate members bickered over a measure that would repeal HB2 but temporarily ban local ordinances regulating employment practices, public accommodations or access to restrooms. Democrats and gay rights advocates attacked the measure, introduced by Senate leader Phil Berger, as falling short of a bargain to kill HB2 once Charlotte repealed the ordinance that gave rise to it." [editor's note: Surely the Charlotte council didn't really expect Republicans to keep their word. There's a first time for everything, but this was never going to be it - TLK] (12/21/16)

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article122145494.html

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National Fraternal Order of Police expects Trump to honor state marijuana laws

San Francisco Chronicle Smell the Truth

"States with legal marijuana laws in place might not be altered under the new administration, law enforcement officials expect. In a statement released on their website last month, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) listed a number of proposals they believe president-elect Trump will address within his first 100 days in office, which includes the possibility of leaving state marijuana laws alone, reports the Denver Westword. The FOP’s list of potential executive orders or actions includes a decision to 'direct federal law enforcement agencies to not pursue violations of Federal drug laws even in States which have passed legislation legalizing the use, manufacture and possession of marijuana.'" (12/21/16)

http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/12/19/national-fraternal-order-of-police-expects-trump-to-honor-state-marijuana-laws

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Puerto Rico will have a blind man as Secretary of Transportation

Fox News

"Puerto Rico's governor-elect Ricardo Rossello made history Tuesday by appointing a blind man as the new Secretary of Transportation and Public Works. Carlos Contreras, an accomplished engineer with vast experience in public office, will also serve the position of executive director of the Roads and Transportation Authority 'His appointment constitutes a historical precedent, being the first person blind to occupy the secretariat of the Department of Transportation and Public Works,' said Rossello during the press conference. 'It is a source of great satisfaction that Engineer Contreras Aponte has agreed to join our administration and make available to Puerto Rico his abilities and his commitment to the public service.'" (12/21/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/12/21/unprecedented-puerto-rico-appoints-blind-man-as-secretary-transportation.html

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California’s birth rate falls to lowest level ever

Raw Story Raw Story

"California's birth rate dropped to its lowest ever in 2016, according to data released by the state's Department of Finance. Between July 2015 and July of this year, there were 12.42 births per 1,000 Californians. The last time birth rates came close to being that low was during the Great Depression, when they hit 12.6 in 1933. The current low birth rate is part of a years-long downward trend that likely stems from Californians increasingly attending college and taking longer to graduate, said Walter Schwarm, a demographer at the Department of Finance. When they do complete their schooling, they're interested in taking some time to pursue their careers or other goals, he said. 'Eventually you think about having a child and by this point in time you're in your early 30s,' he said. Because that's also when women's fertility begins to decrease, they end up having fewer children than if they'd started in their 20s, he said." (12/21/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/californias-birth-rate-falls-to-lowest-level-ever-new-data-show

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“Scientology” program accuses church leader David Miscavige of physical abuse

USA Today USA Today

"Scientology adversaries, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder headed to Seattle, Wash. and Los Angeles, Calif. in Tuesday’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which focused on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige. Former parishioners Remini and Rinder met with ex-Scientologists Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of the current leader, in part four of the A&E docu-series. Hawkins and DeVocht discussed weighty allegations of physical abuse in Seattle, while Ron described his experiences at the Church’s international headquarters, dubbed 'Gold Base' near Hemet, CA." (12/21/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2016/12/21/leah-remini-scientology-and-the-aftermath-episode-4-/95689966

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Trump hotels reach deal with unions, ending labor board cases

Reuters

"Hotels in Las Vegas and Washington owned by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday they have entered into collective bargaining agreements with more than 500 workers, who will drop claims that the hotels violated federal labor law. The four-year contracts effective Jan. 1 will provide food and beverage and housekeeping employees at Trump International hotels in those cities with annual raises and pension and healthcare benefits, Trump Hotels and four unions said in a joint statement. Under the agreement, one of the unions, Unite Here Culinary Workers Union Local 226, will withdraw a series of cases filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board against the Las Vegas hotel, union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said." [editor's note: Negotiation instead of government edict; what a concept! - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-hotels-unions-idUSKBN14A1PW

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NM: Lawsuit tries to keep Quezada off county commission, overturn results

KRQE News 13

"More than a month after the election, a new lawsuit claims a county commission candidate who lost in a landslide should be put in office because of how her opponent filled out a form. Patricia Paiz, the Republican candidate for Bernalillo County commissioner, filed the lawsuit this week seeking to overturn the election results. The lawsuit claims Democratic opponent Steven Michael Quezada, who won by more than 8,000 votes, had his wife sign a declaration of candidacy form in March. It even makes the claim that Quezada was out of the state at the time and wasn’t present, but doesn't provide evidence for that assertion." [editor's note: Yes, Quezada is the actor who played Steve Gomez on "Breaking Bad" - TLK] (12/21/16)

http://krqe.com/2016/12/21/lawsuit-tries-to-keep-quezada-off-commission-overturn-results/

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VA reverses course, releases health care quality data

USA Today USA Today

"The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released quality-of-care ratings for its medical centers across the country, despite years of refusing to share them with the public. The move follows a USA TODAY investigation that revealed ratings for 146 VA medical centers for the first time earlier this month. VA Secretary Bob McDonald complained at the time that their publication across the USA TODAY Network caused 'unwarranted distress' to veterans and could dissuade them from getting care." (12/20/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/20/va-reverses-course-releases-healthcare-quality-data/95655510/

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India: Gandhi accuses Modi of taking bribes

DuBois Courier Express

"Leading opposition figure Rahul Gandhi has demanded an investigation into allegations that two Indian conglomerates paid millions of rupees as bribes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2013-14 when he was governing a western state. Gandhi, the Congress Party vice president and scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi family, says the allegations were found in diary notes and computer records of the Sahara Group and the Birla Group and are in possession of income tax authorities." (12/21/16)

http://www.thecourierexpress.com/news/world/rahul-gandhi-accuses-india-s-pm-modi-of-being-paid/article_34ff61c2-092b-5762-b1b4-ac383e3a5d35.html

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China: Regime to ban more poultry imports from countries with bird flu outbreak

Reuters

"China will ban imports of poultry and related products from countries where there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu, the agency that oversees safety of the country's imports said on Wednesday. China has already banned poultry imports from more than 60 countries." (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birdflu-china-idUSKBN14A0T6

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FL: Orlando shooting relatives sue social media giants

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"The families of three men who were killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google (YouTube) alleging that the firms provided 'material support' to the so-called Islamic State. In their lawsuit, relatives of Juan Ramon Guerrero Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrrero, assert that the user-generated platforms aided in the radicalisation of gunman Omar Mateen. Mateen pledged allegiance to IS before he attacked Pulse, a gay nightclub in June - 49 people were killed, in what has been described as the worst mass shooting in recent US history. " (12/21/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-38392718

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Google updates algorithm to demote Holocaust denial and hate sites in search results

Venture Beat

"In recent months, Google has confronted a new and unsettling trend: Its top search results for questions about the Holocaust lead to neo-Nazi sites while queries about different ethnic groups direct users to racist or inflammatory material. The company last week said it was reluctant to take action, citing a desire to preserve the integrity of the company’s algorithms, which are designed to turn up relevant information. But on Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Fortune it is making some changes. ... the episode provides more fodder for the debate over how the influence Google and Facebook have over news and information, and the role of social media in creating so-called 'filter bubbles' that lead people to shut out divergent opinions." (12/21/16)

http://venturebeat.com/2016/12/21/google-updates-algorithm-to-demote-holocaust-denial-and-hate-sites-in-search-results/

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Premeditated killings of prisoners by state employees are down, but voters still support barbarism

National Public Radio [US state media]

"In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed. Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty. The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s. But 2016 also generated seemingly contradictory information about how the public views capital punishment. Even as jurors have increasingly voted for life in prison instead of execution, voters in three states rejected propositions that would have eliminated the death penalty." (12/21/16)

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/21/506183108/death-sentences-and-executions-are-down-but-voters-still-support-death-penalty-l

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UN rights chief urges probe of Duterte for murder

Daily Inquirer [Philippines]

"The UN rights chief urged the Philippines on on Tuesday to investigate President Duterte for murder, after he boasted that he in the past had personally killed suspected criminals. Mr. Duterte said in a speech last week that when he was mayor of Davao, where he served three terms between 1988 and 2016, he personally killed people to set an example for police. He made the comments in a speech to businessmen as he discussed his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs, which has seen police and unknown assailants kill thousands of people since he became President on June 30." (12/20/16)

https://globalnation.inquirer.net/150952/un-rights-chief-urges-probe-duterte-murder

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Obama blocks drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans

The Hill The Hill

"President Obama on Tuesday formally blocked offshore oil and gas drilling in most of the Arctic Ocean, answering a call from environmentalists who say the government needs to do more to prevent drilling in environmentally sensitive areas of U.S.-controlled oceans. Obama is invoking a 1953 law governing the Outer Continental Shelf to block drilling in federal waters in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea and most of its Beaufort Sea. He also protected 21 underwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean from drilling, White House officials said Tuesday. ... The announcement locks in a decision Obama made last month to block drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans during an offshore leasing plan that runs through 2022." (12/20/16)

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/311240-obama-blocks-drilling-in-arctic-atlantic-oceans

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Court releases search warrant in Clinton email probe

Politico

"Search warrant filings made public for the first time Tuesday provide a new look at controversial actions the FBI took shortly before the presidential election as the law enforcement agency revived its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email set-up. The warrant was issued by federal magistrate Kevin Fox in Manhattan on Oct. 30, after the FBI requested permission to search emails contained on a Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The FBI discovered Clinton-related emails on the computer after initially seizing the device during a probe over Weiner's alleged sexually explicit online exchanges with a minor. ... The records suggest Fox may have granted the warrant based exclusively on the FBI's contention [sic] that in the earlier phase of the Clinton email investigation, 'many emails' between Clinton and Abedin contained classified information, therefore emails between the pair from that same time period and suddenly discovered on Weiner's laptop were likely to also contain classified information and be evidence of a crime." (12/20/16)

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/clinton-email-investigation-search-warrant-released-232852

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A “Wikileaks” for secret church documents launches for concerned Mormons

NBC News NBC News

"The man behind a controversial YouTube site that publishes leaked videos disclosing the inner workings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a website where members and employees can anonymously submit leaked church documents. ... The site is the creation of a team led by Ryan McKnight of Las Vegas, a former Mormon who began discussing his disillusionment with the church online more than two years ago. In October, he began publishing leaked videos of meetings among top church leaders on a YouTube channel that has amassed 2,200 followers in just a few weeks." (12/20/16)

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wikileaks-secret-church-documents-launches-concerned-mormons-n698496

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Hope Not Hate crowd-funds plan to sue Nigel Farage for saying mean things about them

Independent [UK]

"Anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate has launched a crowd-funding campaign to sue Nigel Farage after he referred to them as 'extremists' who 'masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means.' The organisation's director, Nick Lowles, announced on Twitter it had written to the former Ukip leader demanding he withdraw the claims or face legal action." [editor's note: I sometimes daydream about suing people who say things I don't like. Then I wake up and remember that I an not a five-year-old spoiled brat - TLK] (12/20/16)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hope-not-hate-nigel-farage-lawsuit-sue-crowdfunding-jo-cox-brendan-comments-berlin-attack-a7487226.html

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FL: Vandals attack pentagram erected to protest Nativity scene

US News & World Report US News & World Report

"A 300-pound metal sculpture of a satanic pentagram, erected as an atheist protest to a public park's Nativity scene, was severely damaged on Tuesday when it was pulled to the ground by vandals. Atheist Preston Smith's 10-foot tall sculpture lay broken in Sanborn Square at noon. Tire tracks led from the twisted metal to the street. It appeared vandals had attached a chain from a vehicle to the sculpture and yanked it down, dragging it several feet. As local television reporters prepared live broadcasts, two passersby stopped and pushed the sculpture back onto its base before walking away. The sculpture sits about 20 feet from a traditional Nativity scene of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, and is backed by a banner from an atheist group reading 'Keep Saturn in Saturnalias,' a reference to the belief that the early Christian church substituted Christmas for a Roman pagan holiday." (12/20/16)

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2016-12-20/vandals-attack-pentagram-erected-to-protest-nativity-scene

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MI: Two former Flint emergency managers, two others face felony charges over water crisis

National Public Radio [US state media]

"Michigan's attorney general has announced felony charges against two former emergency managers of Flint, Mich., and two other former city officials. The charges are linked to the city's disastrous decision to switch water sources, ultimately resulting in widespread and dangerous lead contamination. ... Former Emergency Managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose were each charged with two felonies that carry penalties of up to 20 years -- false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses --along with misconduct in office, also a felony, and willful neglect of duty in office, a misdemeanor. Howard Croft, who was Flint's director of the Department of Public Works, and Daugherty Johnson, who was the department's utilities director, were each charged with false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses." (12/20/16)

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/20/506314203/2-former-flint-emergency-managers-face-felony-charges-over-water-crisis

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Study: Marijuana use on the rise among pregnant women

Live Science

"Marijuana use among pregnant women in the U.S. increased by 62 percent from 2002 to 2014, a new study finds. Researchers found that 3.9 percent of pregnant women reported on a 2014 government survey that they had used marijuana during the past month, up from 2.4 percent who said the same on a 2002 survey, according to the study. ... Writing in an editorial that was published in the same journal as the study, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and two of her colleagues noted that 'although the evidence for the effects of marijuana on human prenatal development is limited at this point, research does suggest that there is cause for concern.'" (12/20/16)

http://www.livescience.com/57256-trends-marijuana-use-pregnant-women.html

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MO: St. Louis prosecutor uncovers “important evidence” in voter fraud probe, turns over case to feds

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"The city's top prosecutor said her office 'uncovered important evidence' in a voter fraud investigation centered on a August primary statehouse race that has since been reversed by voters. The case has now been turned over to the U.S. attorney's office. ... [Circuit Attorney Jennifer M.] Joyce's office began its investigation three months ago, at the request of the Board of Election Commissioners. The board had received complaints from voters supporting Bruce Franks Jr., who had lost in his bid to unseat incumbent Penny Hubbard in the race for 78th District state representative. The hand-delivered letters from three dozen Franks supporters to the Election Board alleged that absentee ballots cast in the Aug. 2 primary were 'obtained illegally, were tampered with, or both.'" (12/20/16)

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/st-louis-prosecutor-uncovers-important-evidence-in-voter-fraud-probe/article_3986c015-a31a-591d-a99d-f72362d6f92f.html

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Trump to pay $25 million settlement for Trump University con two days before inauguration

New York Daily News

"President-elect Donald Trump is guaranteeing he'll pay out the $25-million settlement reached last month in fraud cases in New York and California involving his now defunct for-profit Trump University before he is inaugurated, according to newly released details of the deal. Trump, according to details of the settlement filed Monday night, will make the payments to the plaintiffs' lawyers by Jan. 18, 2017 -- two days before he'll be sworn in as President. ... The suits -- filed in New York and California -- alleged that Trump University was a scam that did not provide them with the real estate expertise it promised." (12/20/16)

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-u-fraud-case-payment-paid-2-days-inauguration-article-1.2917556

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Cities, counties plan immigrant legal aid after Trump win

Jacksonville Journal Courier

"Major U.S. cities and counties are beefing up legal services for immigrants to help them fight deportation and avoid fraudulent lawyers in the wake of Donald Trump's election and his hard-line immigration enforcement promises. ... Chicago has approved a $1.3 million legal fund. Los Angeles elected officials said Monday they are working with private foundations to set up a $10 million fund, while some California state lawmakers have proposed spending tens of millions of dollars to provide lawyers to immigrants facing deportation. New York is mulling a public-private legal fund, building on New York City's public defender program that's considered a national model." (12/20/16)

http://myjournalcourier.com/news/103747/cities-counties-plan-immigrant-legal-aid-after-trump-win

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Trump wins Electoral College vote ahead of Clinton, Powell, Paul, Spotted Eagle, Kasich

Politico

Donald Trump swept aside a last-ditch bid to block his ascension to the White House on Monday, officially claiming the title of president-elect with his Electoral College victory. Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton follows a desperate and unprecedented attempt by Democratic electors to foment a revolt by convincing Republican electors to vote against him, an effort that collapsed with little to show for it. Just two of the 306 Republican electors, both from Texas, ultimately cast a ballot against Trump. One was Chris Suprun, who announced his intentions in a New York Times op-ed on Dec. 5, and voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Another Texas elector voted for Ron Paul .... The most tumult occurred in Washington state, where four Democrats broke ranks and rejected Clinton. Three voted for Colin Powell, marking the first electoral votes for an African-American Republican, and the first time in history a major party elector crossed the aisle and supported a candidate of the opposing major party. The fourth elector, Robert Satiacum, cast his ballot for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American environmental activist." (12/19/16)

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/trump-electoral-college-win-democrats-infighting-232814

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Commentary


| News | Events |

Capital punishment: Can we cut it out already?

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

"I'm not saying that there aren't crimes worthy of death. In fact, I heartily support the killing of violent criminals in defense of self or others at the scene of the crime. But once a criminal has been apprehended, disarmed and caged, killing him or her isn't self-defense any more. Execution is just the gratuitous, vengeful taking of a human life for public show. And no matter how much lipstick the practice's supporters put on the pig to try and turn it into something else, that's all it will ever be. Capital punishment is also completely incompatible with the notions of 'limited government' that most libertarians and some conservatives claim to support, not to mention the basic civil liberties that both libertarians and liberals publicly sustain." (12/21/16)

http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/8824

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Hollywood does Orwell

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders

"When you see videos of Hollywood celebrities -- like the latest with Martin Sheen, Debra Messing and Bob Odenkirk -- earnestly telling Americans how to live up to their brand of liberal politics by rejecting the GOP, the first question you have to ask yourself is: Why? I still ask myself that after watching the latest pitch under the Orwellian hashtags #UniteForAmerica (the ad hoc group's disingenuous name) and #SupportTheElectors. A montage of stars sotto voce urges 'Republican members of the Electoral College' to vote their conscience -- that is, against their own fellow citizens' considered election choice." (12/18/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/12/18/hollywood-does-orwell-n2261066

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Religious liberty under fire in Culpepper

A. Barton Hinkle Reason
by A Barton Hinkle

"Spend any time surfing conservative websites and you cannot help being impressed by the degree to which they seem to care about religious liberty. One day they are defending nuns from birth control mandates; another, they are sticking up for businesses that don't want to endorse gay pride or gay marriage. So you would think they would be outraged that Culpeper, Va., has denied a permit that would let a small group of the faithful build a house of worship. On that score, unfortunately, you would be wrong. Conservative organs such as National Review, The Daily Caller and The Daily Signal have published scads of commentaries about Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor, wedding-cake makers and so on. But they have not said word one about the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC)." (12/21/16)

http://reason.com/archives/2016/12/21/religious-liberty-under-fire-in-culpeppe

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Public infrastructure as stealth privatization

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Donald Cohen

"Donald Trump hasn’t released an infrastructure plan but has given a good sense of the direction his administration will take. His proposal will likely use giant tax breaks to spur a massive increase in private control of public infrastructure in what David Dayen called a 'privatization fire sale.' Trump will be able to say the plan will both mean no new taxes and guaranteed profits for investors for decades. It’s too good to be true. There’s no doubt America needs a massive infrastructure upgrade. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates nearly $4 trillion in needs including decades of deferred maintenance of our drinking and waste water systems, our roads and bridges and more, as well as new infrastructure such as light rail and broadband communications needed respond to 21st century challenges and opportunities." [editor's note: Were it actual privatization and not crony-corp cartelism, this would not be a bad thing - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://prospect.org/article/public-infrastructure-stealth-privatization

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Will Guantanamo Bay’s prison ever close?

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Priscilla Alvarez

"In his final State of the Union address this year, President Obama repeated his call to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 'I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. It is expensive, it is unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies,' he said. But as Obama's presidency comes to its end, he has fallen short of that goal. ... Obama has repeatedly pushed plans to close the prison, without much success. This year, he sent a plan to Congress outlining where the remaining detainees could be transferred. He argued that keeping the prison in operation 'is contrary to our values.' Congressional Republicans quickly denounced the effort." (12/21/16)

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/obama-guantanamo-bay/511349/

1 Comment »

The growing movement for marijuana amnesty

The New Republic The New Republic
by Megan Carpentier

"With an estimated $7 billion in sales in 2016 and potentially exponential growth due to recent ballot initiatives on recreational use, the legal marijuana industry has a lot of businesses seeing green. But as is so often the case in this country, there’s a darker side to this story and it splinters on the lines of race. For decades, the war on drugs has disproportionately targeted black and brown users for arrest and incarceration, and legalization efforts have until recently not addressed what happens to people who have been put in prison for possessing a substance that voters have since opted to make legal. The American Civil Liberties Union found in a 2013 report that, between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession, as opposed to intent to distribute. These arrests accounted for 46 percent of all drug arrests in the United States at that time. And though studies suggest that African-Americans and whites use marijuana at similar rates, African-Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana crime." (12/21/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139443/growing-movement-marijuana-amnesty

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Yes, 2016 was bad, but next year could be worse

Reuters
by Peter Apps

"The killing of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday evening might have prompted knee-jerk comparisons to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but it almost certainly won’t spark a World War One-type conflict. The lethal truck attack that killed 12 in Berlin a few hours later, however, could ratchet up the prospect of yet another political shock in Europe. 2016 looks set to keep throwing out unexpected, often brutal surprises right to its end. If 1989 (the year the Berlin wall fell) was the point at which globalization, liberal democracy and the Western view of modernity was seen to triumph, the year now concluding might yet be seen as when the wheels came off. That may be a dramatic overstatement. However, the electoral surprises of the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump (as well as dozens of other examples across the globe) are stark reminders of just how much consensus has unraveled. The next year could see a step back towards moderation. But it could equally see things spiral further out of control." (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-2016-commentary-idUSKBN14A1K0

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Don’t make Facebook the Ministry of Truth

spiked spiked
by Naomi Firsht

"The assumption underpinning the fake-news panic is that ordinary people are too stupid to work out what is real and what is not. The suggestion that the millions of Americans who voted for Trump did so as a result of being duped by fake-news stories is ridiculous and insulting. Moreover, the idea that Facebook, inventor of the cyber poke, will now be the gatekeeper of all that is true, guiding their poor, low-information users through the internet's maze of lies, is risible. The internet has created a free flow of information that allows ordinary people to access, quickly and easily, multiple news sources. Imposing limits to this freedom would be a step backwards. Zuckerberg should have stuck to his guns the first time round. We do not need a ministry of truth." (12/21/16)

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/dont-make-facebook-the-ministry-of-truth-fake-news/

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Title IX: “Bureaucratic sex creep” gone wild

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

"If you want to see how the federal bureaucracy can mess things up, and create huge new areas of overburdening regulation, just look at what it has done with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX simply reads: 'No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.' That’s all. But from this small, simple statement (there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex) has been created a regulatory Tower of Babel governing sports teams, student discipline and even, and most dubiously, sexual consent." (12/20/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/19/title-ix-federal-bureacracy-campuses-glenn-reynolds-column/95585446

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Waging class war in comfort

Sam Pizzigati Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati

"In a typical corporate board of directors meeting, what do CEOs see when they look out across their richly lacquered boardroom tables? They see . . . lots of other CEOs. That’s no accident. CEOs today purposely pack their corporate boards with their pals, who often turn out to be current or former chiefs at other corporations. Everybody who’s anybody just feels more comfortable that way. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM's Charlie Wilson, served as defense secretary and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM’s Charlie Wilson, served as U.S. secretary of defense -- and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. President-elect Donald Trump, a big-time business chief himself, certainly seems to want to feel comfortable, too. No other President-elect has ever packed his cabinet with more business bigwigs." [editor's note: Although there are also a lot of Congressthugs in that list, at least some of the corporati chosen might be seen as tough overseers of their departments, who know how to make things run effectively, cut costs ... Just sayin' - SAT] (12/19/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161219/waging-class-war-in-comfort

1 Comment »

Progressives: Stop blaming the Russians

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Norman Solomon

"Zeal to blame Russia for a bad election outcome has spread like contagion among countless self-described progressives, understandably appalled by the imminent Trump presidency. But those who think they're riding a helpful tiger could find themselves devoured later on. If civil liberties instead of repression and diplomacy instead of war are progressive values, then all too many progressives -- eager to tar Trump as a Kremlin product -- have been undermining those values. Already, from witch-hunt legislation in Congress to pernicious media blacklisting, the anti-Russia hysteria -- being fueled by the high octane election-intervention storyline -- has gained enormous momentum." (12/21/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/21/progressives-stop-blaming-the-russians/

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A public service

Creators Syndicate
by Dr. Thomas Sowell

"Sometimes someone inadvertently performs a public service by bringing an unbelievably stupid and dangerous idea to the surface, where it can be exposed for what it is. The New York Times can be credited -- if that is the word -- with performing this public service in a recent editorial against proposals to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed guns. They refer to what they call the National Rifle Association's 'fantasy that citizens can stand up to gunmen by shooting it out.' Nobody has suggested any such thing. Data collected over many years -- but almost never seeing the light of day in the New York Times or the rest of the mainstream media -- show many thousands of examples of people defending themselves with a gun each year, without having to pull the trigger." (12/20/16)

https://www.creators.com/read/thomas-sowell/12/16/a-public-service

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Trump’s cabinet is a coup waiting to happen

The Nation The Nation
by William J Astore

"A republic -- or should I say, former republic? -- founded on civilian control of the military needs true civilians as a counterweight to militarism as well as military adventurism. Recently retired generals are anything but that; they're not even speed bumps on the road to the next set of misbegotten military 'adventures.' They are likely to be only one thing: enablers of and accelerants to military action. Their presence in the highest civilian positions represents nothing short of a de facto military coup in Washington, a coup that required no violence since the president-elect simply anointed and exalted them as America's security saviors. But here's a question for you: If these men and their three- and four-star colleagues couldn't win decisive military victories while in uniform, what makes Trump and the Washington establishment think they’ll do any better while wearing mufti?" (12/20/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/trumps-cabinet-is-a-coup-waiting-to-happen/

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Eyes wide shut: Flying blind in an age of atrocity

Empire Burlesque
by Chris Floyd

"The end result of every Islamist terrorist attack is: 1. Heightened authoritarian powers for governments. 2. Demonization of law-abiding Muslims. 3. More money for war-profiteers, since more war is always the ultimate response. None of these outcomes advance the attackers' cause in any way save one: more repression, demonization and war can lead to more 'radicalisation' of the people being repressed, demonized and bombed. Thus the responses, which are always the same, always reward the perpetrators of these atrocities by giving them the only thing they can get from the attacks: recruitment tools." (12/20/16)

http://www.chris-floyd.com/home/articles/eyes-wide-shut-flying-blind-in-an-age-of-atrocity-20122016.html

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How to talk to your family about the police state this Christmas

Cop Block Cop Block
by Joshua Scott Hotchkin

"Christmas is a time for families, feasts, gifts and drawn out arguments about politics and religion with people who you love. If it has come up often in the news the past year, it will probably come up at family Christmas get-togethers, for better or worse. And so this year it is entirely likely that the subject of policing in America will be one of those topics. Try to remain calm, listen attentively and then respond with irrefutable arguments. Below are some things your family are likely to say and believe about police, followed by facts and ideas to inform your responses to them." (12/20/16)

http://www.copblock.org/169361/how-talk-family-about-police-christmas/

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The wrong kind of bet with the wrong kind of money

Show-Me Institute Show-Me Institute
by Graham Renz

"A group of local businesspeople (SC STL) is trying to lure a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to the Gateway City. The only catch is that SC STL is asking Saint Louis taxpayers to cough up an extra $80 million in new taxes to support the venture. In addition, as the Business Journal reports, SC STL is also asking for $40 million from the state of Missouri. Altogether, SC STL hopes taxpayers will pick up $129 million of their projected $405 million in costs. ... The state just cut $50 million (including $40 million from Medicaid) from its budget due to shortfalls. So how can it afford to chip in $40 million for a sports stadium? And what could justify placing a new burden on taxpayers for a project that Governor-elect Eric Greitens recently described as 'nothing more than welfare for billionaires?'" (12/20/16)

http://showmeinstitute.org/blog/subsidies/wrong-kind-bet-wrong-kind-money

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At Angola prison, getting sick can be a death sentence

In These Times In These Times
by Katie Rose Quandt and James Ridgeway

"A 6-month investigation into Louisiana's Angola prison, the largest maximum-security state prison in the country, reveals substandard and inhumane healthcare -- leading to extremely high death rates for prisoners. Does this amount to unconstitutional 'cruel and unusual punishment?'" (12/20/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/features/angola-prison-healthcare-abuse-investigation.html

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Amnesia at the UN: The massacres Samantha Power conveniently forgot to mention

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Robert Fisk

"So there was Samantha Power doing her 'shame' bit in the UN. 'Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?' America's ambassador to the UN asked the Russians and Syrians and Iranians. She spoke of Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica 'and, now, Aleppo.' Odd, that. For when Samantha talked about 'barbarism against civilians' in Aleppo, I remembered climbing over the dead Palestinian civilians massacred at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, slaughtered by Israel's Lebanese militia friends while the Israeli army -- Washington’s most powerful ally in the Middle East -- watched. ... And then I recalled the monstrous American invasion of Iraq. Perhaps half a million dead." (12/20/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/20/amnesia-at-the-un-the-massacres-samantha-power-conveniently-forgot-to-mention/

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How Trump used the incredible power of rejection to win the White House

Fox News Forum
by Jia Jiang

"In the weeks since Donald Trump stunned the world and won the 2016 presidential election, many people have weighed in with analysis and offered their explanation of the Trump miracle from political, economic and business angles. However, there was one aspect that led to Trump's victory that almost no one has talked about -- his mastery of rejection. I am not a Trump supporter, to say the least. And I don't agree with most of his policies and rhetoric. That being said, as an entrepreneur and researcher on the subject of fear and rejection, I see all people through the lens of their relationship with rejection. As a result, I found Trump's candidacy fascinating." (12/19/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/12/19/how-trump-used-incredible-power-rejection-to-win-white-house.html

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Interregnum

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Arthur Goldhammer

"American interregnums are often peculiar times, but none has ever been more peculiar than this one. As autumn subsides into winter, much of the country lies in the grip of a paralyzing chill. Democracy is under threat as never before. Each day brings a fresh report of a high-level nomination by the president-elect, and each new nomination strengthens the impression that Mr. Trump is determined to create a kakistocracy, a government of the worst." (12/19/16)

http://prospect.org/article/interregnum

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Declassified: The military’s border-busting operations in Africa

The Nation The Nation
by Nick Turse

"How US military engagement will proceed under the Trump administration remains to be seen. The president-elect has said or tweeted little about Africa in recent years (aside from long trading in baseless claims that the current president was born there). Given his choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn -- a former director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command who believes that the United States is in a 'world war' with Islamic militants -- there is good reason to believe that Special Operations Command Africa will continue its border-busting missions across that continent. That, in turn, means that Africa is likely to remain crucial to America’s nameless global war on terror." (12/19/16)

https://www.thenation.com/article/declassified-the-militarys-border-busting-operations-in-africa/

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The Android Manifesto: Finding Marx in Westworld

In These Times In These Times
by Eileen Jones

"In the wake of Donald Trump's election, the disturbing power of HBO's Westworld makes more sense. There's uncanny force in all those shots of androids waking up again and again, not knowing they're still in a kind of dream. Those false awakenings that disguise persistent states of unconsciousness resonate uncomfortably with our own condition prior to November 8. Blindsided by Trump's victory, it's hard not to shudder when, in the first season finale, one android warns another who's convinced she's finally fully conscious of the horrors of her reality: 'You've 'woken up' many times before.' We're sure our eyes are open now, but how many of us on the Left thought we were already conscious of America's violent rage and political apathy? How many of us believed we were actively sounding the alarm, only to realize how inconsequential our efforts had been?" (12/19/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19728/karl-marx-in-westworld-android-manifesto-trump-false-consciousness/

1 Comment »

Clinton’s defeat and the fake news conspiracy

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Jonathan Cook

"There is an astounding double standard being applied to the US presidential election result. A few weeks ago the corporate media were appalled that Donald Trump demurred on whether he would accept the vote if it went against him. It was proof of his anti-democratic, authoritarian instincts. But now he has won, the same media outlets are cheerleading the establishment's full-frontal assault on the legitimacy of a Trump presidency. That campaign is being headed by the failed candidate, Hillary Clinton, after a lengthy softening-up operation by US intelligence agencies, led by the CIA." (12/19/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/19/clintons-defeat-and-the-fake-news-conspiracy/

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The dangers of liberal campus echo chambers

Seattle Times
by Nicholas Kristof

"After Donald Trump's election, some universities echoed with primal howls. Faculty members canceled classes for weeping, terrified students who asked: How could this possibly be happening? I share apprehensions about President-elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become. When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they're not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans." [hat tip -- Scott Semans] (12/16/16)

http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/the-dangers-of-liberal-campus-echo-chambers/

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Compulsory education fosters climate ripe for sexual abuse

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Vishal Wilde

"Reports of sexual abuse of youth footballers by their adult coaches continues to rock Britain, especially since the list of incidences and clubs involved continues to grow. It is crucial that instances of paedophilia be brought to the forefront, and the enabling role played by compulsory education examined. Children are the most oppressed peoples in society and they continue, most often, to lack a meaningful voice, and are routinely and unjustly ignored. When we consider what makes paedophilia possible, it is not just to do with the physically weaker nature of most younger children compared to grown adults, but it is also to do with the way children have been mentally and socially conditioned." (12/18/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/47285

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Subversion blues: Chasing will-o’-the-wisps while the junta gathers force

Empire Burlesque
by Chris Floyd

"I'll say it again: there WAS a systematic undermining of democracy in 2016. It was carried out in some part by the Clinton camp's collusion with the DNC and, on a much larger and decisive scale, by the years-long GOP vote suppression campaign. But instead of attending to these genuine -- and open -- subversions of democracy, our political-media class are chasing Kremlin will-o'-the-wisps that will never be nailed down ... even as Trump assembles an earth-raping, liberty-stripping, treasury-beggaring, hate-mongering junta the likes of which this nation has never seen." (12/17/16)

http://www.chris-floyd.com/home/articles/subversion-blues-chasing-will-o-the-wisps-while-the-junta-gathers-force-17122016.html

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Tillerson could shine as Secretary of State

USA Today USA Today
by Armand V Cucciniello III

"President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as the next secretary of State has caused another post-election panic attack. Looking beyond Tillerson’s engagement with Russia, however, reveals someone with a distinguished education, a notable leadership record and substantial foreign affairs experience. It's a fact that Tillerson is a businessman with a history of looking out for corporate interests such as access to energy, growth, sustainability and profit. But assessing his candidacy on that basis would be akin to saying the president of the United States should be judged for a business position on a record of looking out for the American people, national security and the U.S. economy. In both cases, the leaders have their organization’s top priorities and strategic goals in mind. The assertion that Tillerson has no diplomatic experience is myopic." [editor's note: Check out the competence and skills required for this position, not the political offices one has normally held - SAT] (12/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/16/tillerson-could-shine-secretary-state-column/95443982

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Putin’s dangerous fan club

Reuters
by John Lloyd

"A clutch of leaders who will certainly or likely be in power next year have made clear their admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. It may not last; we should hope it doesn't. Donald Trump, leader-elect of the leaders of the free world, has repeatedly said that he likes the Russian autocrat’s governing style, and that he has always 'felt fine' about Putin. 'He's a strong leader. He's a powerful leader.' As Russia commentator Masha Gessen observed, the two are strikingly similar in their disregard for the facts. 'It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie,' writes Gessen, 'it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself.' In France, both the main presidential challengers from the right also regard Putin, and Russia, with fondness. National Front Leader Marine Le Pen, who benefited from the generosity of one of Russia's state banks after taking a $9.8 million loan to help fund her run for the Elysee Palace, has expressed her admiration of Putin’s 'cool head' when faced with 'the West's new Cold War.'" (12/16/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lloyd-putin-commentary-idUSKBN1451QW

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“Corruption” then and now

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"Remember how the 'news' media was going on and on about the Clinton Foundation -- at least when they weren’t going on and on abut Hillary Clinton’s emails, or airing entire Trump rallies for free? Media 'coverage' of the 2016 campaign was almost entirely devoid of discussion of the important issues. Climate change? Housing policy? Instead it consisted of media coverage of anything Donald Trump said (including repeatedly giving free time to air entire Trump rallies) insinuations about the activities of the Clinton Foundation and insinuations that Clinton did something illegal with her emails. (Even FBI Director Comey got in on that game.) What were voters to think? The 'corruption' accusation was that Clinton was 'selling access' by having meetings with people who had donated money to the Clinton Foundation charity. That was called a 'criminal enterprise.' That was then this is now." [editor's note: This "column" is "disappointing;" Mr. Johnson usually sees through this kind of bullshit - SAT] (12/16/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161216/corruption-then-and-now

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Rogue One: The most leftist Star Wars film yet

In These Times In These Times
by Kate Aronoff

"If you're conscious and over 17, you probably have pretty clear expectations for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: a flashy, well-made and not terribly intricate action movie featuring a young hero with a tragic and/or mysterious past, a multitude of Easter eggs for die-hard fans, and -- more than likely -- some sort of nefarious infrastructure project. Rogue One makes good on those expectations. The surprising thing is that this, the eighth film in the franchise, might be the most politically substantive yet." [editor's note: This review is making me want to see the film, after all, to see where she interpreted it right and where she missed it entirely - SAT] (12/16/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19744/the-rogue-one-may-be-the-most-leftist-star-wars-film-yet

1 Comment »

The art of the infrastructure deal

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gabrielle Gurley

"For policy wonks, the only bright spot of the dismal 2016 election campaign was the unprecedented attention given the pitiful state of American infrastructure. It was the only area of common ground that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were able to carve out, although quality of the discussion never rose beyond a grade-school tug-of-war over who would spend the most. In the waning days of the Trump transition, hopes are dwindling that the president-elect can deliver, even though he recognizes that the country’s transportation, water, and other infrastructure assets need an historic overhaul and that innovative, new projects could use some federal juice. There are indications that infrastructure policy expectations may have to be significantly dialed back, despite the fact that transportation is the one sector where Trump’s views align with reality." (12/12/16)

http://prospect.org/article/art-infrastructure-deal

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Democrats need to oppose Trump’s cabinet picks en masse

The New Republic The New Republic
by Eric Sasson

"Now that President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet choices have mostly been announced—the latest being Russia BFF and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, and ready-to-run-the-agency-he-forgot-he-wants-to-abolish Rick Perry for secretary of energy—progressives are understandably apoplectic. It’s not just that Trump’s choices give new meaning to the term “radically conservative,” it’s that so many of them are either wildly inappropriate for or vehemently at odds with the respective departments they’ve been selected to run. While Trump can certainly be said to be 'shaking up' Washington with his picks, it is also true that, by nominating so many fringe candidates at once, Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) will only be able to muster up real opposition to two or three of them at most, allowing the others to slide in." [editor's note: It's this kind of blanket thinking that will doom the truly "progressive" movement; instead of looking for places where some ground has been gained (inadvertently or not, Tillerson is less likely to start "the next war with Russia" than either Bolton or Giuliani ... or Hillary for that matter), they whine on about "forces of evil" (leaving out their own "side" of course) - SAT] (12/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139353/democrats-stop-talking-bipartisanship-start-fighting

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Raid encryption: This should be the new normal

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

"In the digital age, law enforcement worldwide is increasingly nosy. Its leaders and advocates bemoan any technological development or practice which might in any way impede their ability to find out anything they might happen to want to know for any reason. They want our lives to be open books, and for us to just trust them to not abuse their power. History says we should begrudge them that trust. Searches -- including searches of digital logs and archives -- should be difficult, not easy." (12/16/16)

http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/8783

1 Comment »

What’s so bad about flag burning?

Roderick T. Long Center for a Stateless Society
by Roderick Long

"President-elect Donald Trump's recent call for a year's prison term or loss of citizenship for those who burn the American flag -- incidentally a reversal of Trump's previous support for flag-burners on the Letterman show two years ago -- leaves me with some questions. Four questions, specifically: two for Trump’s conservative supporters, and two for his liberal critics. My first question for pro-Trump conservatives is this: In the past I seem to recall hearing quite a few of you (though admittedly not Trump himself) speaking pretty loudly in favor of free expression when the issue was laws in Muslim countries criminalizing speech or writings that 'disrespect' Islam or the Prophet Muhammad. How exactly do the arguments you gave then, not apply to Trump's proposal now? Second, I also recall that you conservatives used to talk a lot about government's duty to protect people's private property rights (although admittedly eminent domain poster boy Donald Trump was never really in your camp on that issue either)." (12/15/16)

https://c4ss.org/content/47237

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The Democrats need a shadow Cabinet

In These Times In These Times
by Bill Moyers & Michael Winship

"(Imagine that a day or two before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Hillary Clinton, as the candidate who received the greatest number of votes addresses the nation.) 'My Fellow Americans:On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. As mandated by our Constitution, he received a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and thus for the next four years will be given the powers and responsibilities of our nation’s chief executive. But I believe that I, too, have a mandate, one given to me by the 65 million of you who supported me over Donald Trump in the popular vote, some 2.6 million votes more than he received. If we are to continue as a democracy, for the next four years and beyond, those voices cannot stay silent." [editor's note: This is the usual pabulum; in reality, it is we libertarians who need to create that "shadow cabinet" - SAT] (12/15/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19721/bill-moyers-michael-winship-democrats-need-shadow-cabinet-clinton-trump

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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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