Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

US political prisoner Barrett Brown sentenced to five years

Time

"An American journalist loosely affiliated with the Anonymous hacking collective was sentenced to 63 months in jail by a Dallas federal judge on Thursday for linking to hacked data from private global intelligence firm Stratfor in 2011. Barrett Brown, 33, initially faced a sentence of over 100 years until he pled guilty last year to three reduced charges of obstructing a police search, issuing online threats and involving himself in the sharing of Stratfor data, reports the BBC." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mrdcoy3

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Experimental Ebola vaccine shipped to Liberia

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"The first batch of an experimental vaccine against Ebola is on its way to Liberia. The shipment will be the first potentially preventative medicine to reach one of the hardest hit countries. But experts say that, with Ebola cases falling, it may be difficult to establish whether the jab offers any protection against the virus." (01/23/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30943377

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DOJ fake Facebook page costs them [sic] $134,000

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"The US Justice Department is to pay a woman $134,000 after making a fake Facebook page that contained a photograph of her half-clothed. Sondra Arquiett had sued the government after it had suggested she had 'implicitly consented' to the creation of a page using her identity since she had previously granted officers access to her mobile phone The DoJ has now settled the dispute, but has not admitted wrongdoing. The case had raised privacy concerns. Although the US government has not ruled out using similar tactics in the future, it has acknowledged the criticism it faced." (01/21/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30921804

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Republicans drop abortion vote after revolt by female House members

The Guardian [UK]

"Faced with a party-wide 'meltdown' over young female voters just as they are taking control of Congress, Republicans saw their first major assault on abortion access collapse after a late-night, last-minute meeting on Wednesday. ... House members were due to vote on Thursday for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have instituted a national ban on abortions in the 20th week of pregnancy and later. The legislation was expected to pass easily, as a similar ban did in 2013. But dissent from some of the party’s women drove the bill off the docket." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qhednlk

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Report: Warren to file bill targeting top drug companies

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is shifting her focus from Wall Street to the nation's top pharmaceutical companies. The Massachusetts Democrat plans to file a bill next week that she said would help fund basic medical research by targeting pharmaceutical companies accused of breaking the law. Warren's bill would require that whenever drug companies enter into a settlement with the government over alleged wrongdoing, they must pay a portion of their annual profits over five years to support research at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/km8cvbu

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US Senate sets final vote on Keystone land theft / corporate welfare boondoggle for next week

The Hill

"The Senate worked through the night on Thursday to get through amendments on legislation to approve the Keystone XL, which is headed for final passage next week. Following through on a threat many had remained skeptical of, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) kept the Senate in until midnight on Thursday. After voting on fifteen amendments --10 of which were offered by Democrats and five from Republicans -- McConnell filed for cloture on the underlying bill, setting up a final vote on Keystone next week." (01/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pm8uct8

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Venezuela’s Maduro to citizens: “God will provide”

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"At a pharmacy in Caracas Thursday morning, hundreds of people stood in line hoping to get their hands on diapers and other essentials inside. Queuing up has become routine for many here, as Venezuela has struggled to pay for the import of most of its goods. But the morning after a much-anticipated speech by Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, which had citizens hoping to hear concrete plans for a way out of the nation’s economic tailspin, many fear tougher times are on the horizon." [editor's note: So is Ed Asner now planning to portray him in the future biopic? - SAT] (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p3zypzc

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Report: US airlines expect big fuel savings, but steady fares

Reuters Reuters

"U.S. airlines on Thursday forecast enormous fuel savings in 2015 but hinted that ample consumer demand would allow them to avoid fare discounts and pass savings on to shareholders. Share prices rose across the industry after four airlines said they will save hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel costs starting this year, with global oil prices down more than 57 percent since June. Fuel is the biggest variable cost for airlines, often representing a third or more of total operating expenses." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nyjoukh

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Scientists warn: World moving closer to “doomsday”

Raw Story Raw Story

"Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday, a group of prominent scientists and Nobel laureates said Thursday. 'It is now three minutes to midnight,' said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as the group moved its symbolic 'Doomsday Clock' two minutes forward. The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947. It has changed 18 times since then, ranging from two minutes to midnight in 1953 to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pjbntj8

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Mexico: Narco-drone laden with meth crashes near US border

Fox News Fox News

"Police in a Mexican border city said Wednesday that a drone overloaded with illicit methamphetamine crashed into a supermarket parking lot. Tijuana police spokesman Jorge Morrua said authorities were alerted after the drone fell Tuesday night near the San Ysidro crossing at Mexico's border with California. Six packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities are investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kr4acfe

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MA: Difficulty of jury tampering delays opening statements in Tsarnaev show trial

Reuters

"Opening statements in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been postponed as jury selection has taken longer than expected, meaning lawyers will not begin presenting cases Monday as planned, the court said on Thursday. The delay comes as Tsarnaev's attorneys launched a fresh effort to move the trial outside of Boston, arguing that it will be impossible to find an unbiased panel of jurors in the city where the attack took place." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m3uqmeh

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CO: Baker faces complaint for refusing anti-gay message on cake

US News and World Report

"Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver's Azucar Bakery, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs. According to Silva, the man who visited last year wanted a Bible-shaped cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said. ... KUSA-TV reported the complainant is Bill Jack of Castle Rock, a bedroom community south of Denver. In a statement to the television station, Jack said he believes he 'was discriminated against by the bakery based on my creed.'" (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m5b9jaq

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NY: Assembly speaker Silver arrested on public corruption charges

KMPH 26 News

"New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested Thursday on public corruption charges and accused of using his position as one of the most powerful men in Albany to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income. The 70-year-old Silver was taken into custody around 8 a.m. at the FBI's New York City office, FBI spokesman Peter Donald confirmed. Silver faces five counts, including conspiracy and bribery charges." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lyskokk

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Source: DoJ to recommend no civil rights charges in Ferguson shooting

New York Times

"The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, law enforcement officials said. That would close the politically charged case in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The investigation by the F.B.I., which is complete, found no evidence to support civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, the officials said." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mgwx64m

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NY: Silver to be arrested on corruption charges

New York Post

"Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York state Assembly, is expected to be arrested on corruption charges by federal authorities on Thursday after prosecutors subpoenaed records in a probe of undocumented payments he received from a law firm, according to a report. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has served as speaker for more than 20 years, is expected to be charged following an investigation sparked when Gov. Cuomo abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013, The New York Times said." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m3o4qwn

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UK: Chilcot inquiry “will not be published until after the election”

The Telegraph [UK]

"The long-awaited Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will not be published until after the general election in May, it has emerged. The inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot, will set out his reasons for the further delay in an exchange of letters with Prime Minister David Cameron, according to Government sources. ... The Chilcot inquiry, which was originally set up by the then prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009, took public evidence from its last witness in 2011. However publication of the report has been held back by negotiations over the publication of private communications between Tony Blair, prime minister at the time of the 2003 conflict, and then US president George Bush." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m5xutzu

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VA: Pol who won election from jail faces new charges

Raw Story Raw Story

"A Virginia state legislator who was re-elected last week while serving a jail sentence for a sex scandal was indicted on Wednesday on felony charges stemming from the case. In a fresh political embarrassment for Virginia, Joseph Morrissey was charged by a Henrico County grand jury with four counts of allegedly lying under oath and submitting a forged document to the court. Morrissey, a member of the House of Delegates, is serving a six-month jail term for a misdemeanor conviction of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The case involves a former receptionist who was 17 when she worked in his law office. The receptionist is now 18 and pregnant. She has denied having sex with Morrissey, 57." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/odbwx7f

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TX: State employees kill prisoner

NBC News NBC News

"A 41-year-old Texas prisoner was put to death Wednesday evening for the slayings of three people during a robbery at their San Antonio home more than 21 years ago. Arnold Prieto became the first prisoner to receive a lethal injection this year in Texas, which carried out 10 executions in 2014." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pvxmjar

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House GOP aims at Roe v. Wade anniversary on abortion bill

Fox News Fox News

"House Republicans searched for a way Wednesday to advance the new Congress' first abortion legislation, hoping to avoid an inter-party implosion over a bill that at one point seemed all but certain of passage. Legislation that was intended to be voted on Thursday -- the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision -- would criminalize virtually all abortions for pregnancies of 20 weeks or longer. It would offer some exceptions, including for victims of rape that have already been reported to authorities. Some Republicans, including female members of Congress, objected to that requirement, saying that many women feel too distressed to report rapes and should not be penalized." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pjft4jn

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CO: Potential jurors want out of theater shooting case

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"Prospective jurors in the Colorado theater shooting trial presented a judge with a number of excuses on Wednesday for why they shouldn't be on the panel that decides if defendant James Holmes was insane at the time of the deadly attack. By the end of the second day of what promises to be a long slog to picking a jury, Judge Carlos Samour had excused at least 20 people who had doctors' notes, didn't speak English, or weren't residents of Arapahoe County, where the 2012 attack occurred. However, in a sign of how difficult it might be to get excused, a summons for a woman who reported being 'violently ill' and requested an ambulance was only delayed but not canceled." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qxuf5py

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TX: SCOTUS hears case testing civil rights act

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"A sharply divided US Supreme Court on Wednesday took up a challenge to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in an action that liberal critics say could gut the major civil rights provision. At issue in a case from Dallas, Texas, is whether the housing law authorizes lawsuits over racially neutral measures that nonetheless disproportionately impact minority residents. Liberals support the so-called disparate impact theory of civil rights enforcement, while conservatives warn that such an approach could lead to racial quotas in housing and other areas." [editor's note: That last sentence might be the best objective analysis of the two "sides" (on this and other issues) I've seen in years? - SAT] (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ntgqutd

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MO: Justice Department said ready to clear Ferguson officer

Reuters Reuters

"The U.S. Justice Department is about to close the investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and clear the white police officer involved of any civil rights charges, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The newspaper quoted law enforcement officials as saying that federal prosecutors had begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, after an FBI investigation found no evidence to support charges against him. The Justice Department declined comment." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q99ap7g

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BP boss predicts: Oil prices “low for up to 3 years”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"The boss of oil giant BP's boss Bob Dudley has said that oil prices could remain low for up to three years. He added that could send UK petrol prices below £1 per litre. He told BBC Business editor Kamal Ahmed in Davos BP was planning for low oil prices for years to come. That is expected to lead to job losses and falling investment in the North Sea oil industry and elsewhere, curbing supply and eventually forcing the price back up." (01/21/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30913321

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NE: Corporate welfare queen TransCanada launches 90 land theft attempts

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

"TransCanada Corp., the Canadian company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, filed eminent domain proceedings against an estimated 90 Nebraska landowners Tuesday to secure the right [sic] to build the controversial project across their property. ... Nebraska is the project's most contentious battlefield. A 2012 law allowed the governor to bypass the state Public Service Commission and give the project the go-ahead. Approval for the current route was granted in 2013. In February, a lower court declared the law unconstitutional and left the troubled pipeline with no approved route through Nebraska. This month, however, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling and cleared the way for Obama to act." (01/20/15)

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-keystone-land-2015-0120-story.html

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Study downgrades climate impact of wood burning

Raw Story Raw Story

"Surprising new research has sharply downgraded the perceived climate impacts of the gathering and burning of wood by residents of poor and developing countries who rely on the fuel to keep warm and cook food. Of the 2.8 billion people forced to use wood for fuel, often filling their humble homes with life-shortening soot, the vast majority are chopping down and gathering their fuel in ways that allow forests and woodlands to regrow. That isn’t just good for the environment around them; carbon-hungry growth of trees that replace those that were felled helps cancel the climate-changing effects of carbon dioxide pollution released when the wood is burned." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/k25ko2t

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Commentary


| News | Events |

No body counts? Don’t believe US military

Reuters Reuters
by David Axe

"Earlier this month, a reporter asked the question that usually comes up when the United States gets involved in a sustained military campaign. Just how many enemy troops (in this case, Islamic State foot soldiers) have U.S. forces killed in more than five months of aerial attacks? The military’s answer was basically the same given to all similar questions going back more than a decade. ... Since the Vietnam War, with its gruesome and inflated U.S. tallies of enemy dead, the Pentagon has denied keeping body counts. But, in fact, the military does add up the number of enemy fighters it believes it has killed -- and proudly boasts of the totals in official documents that it never intends for public circulation." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/luxmhrh

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When liberals were organized

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Julian E. Zelizer

"When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 1994 for the first time in 40 years, one of Speaker Newt Gingrich’s earliest moves was to end the public funding for the Democratic Study Group (DSG), a caucus of liberal Democrats that had been created in 1959. It was one of Gingrich’s shrewdest maneuvers. As Kansas Republican Pat Roberts, a staunch conservative then and now, wrote in an internal memo, 'The demise of the DSG severely damages the power structure of the House Democrats.' Roberts was right. The DSG is almost forgotten today, but its history suggests lessons for the current generation of Democrats." (01/22/15)

http://prospect.org/article/when-liberals-were-organized

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Environmental groups denounce fast track trade process

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters and 41 other environmental groups sent a letter to Congress this week, asking them to oppose 'fast track' trade promotion authority for upcoming trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). They asked Congress to instead set up an open, transparent trade negotiating system that gives stakeholders, other than just corporate representatives, input in the process.” (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/khcxuqt

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Obama croons, “I did it my way”

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

"As President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, I saw all of 2015 flash before my eyes. It was a smart speech that wisely stuck to 'middle-class' values and was shrewdly short on details. I saw another year of the president not compromising. For Republicans, it was Ground Hog Day -- an endless loop of the president talking up bipartisanship without practicing it. 'A Bold Call to Action, Even if No Action is Likely,' read one headline. And below it: 'Obama Speaks as Though His Party Won the Midterms.' Both headlines hail, not from a conservative rag, but from the New York Times." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kcov9gm

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Fox vs. facts

The Cagle Post
by Steve Sack

Cartoon. (01/21/15)

http://www.cagle.com/2015/01/fox-vs-facts/

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The urgent necessity of a Syriza victory in Greece

In These Times In These Times
by Slavoj Zizek

"Critics of our institutional democracy often complain that, as a rule, elections do not offer a true choice. What we mostly get is the choice between a center-Right and a center-Left party whose program is almost indistinguishable. Next Sunday, January 25, this will not be the case—as on June 17, 2012, the Greek voters are facing a real choice: the establishment on the one side; Syriza, the radical leftist coalition, on the other. And, as is mostly the case, such moments of real choice throw the establishment into panic. They paint the image of social chaos, poverty and violence if the wrong choice wins." (01/22/15)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17561/zizek_greece_syriza

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Necks and nostrils: The murderous folly of the new Cold War

Empire Burlesque
by Chris Floyd

"Once again, we see tragic confirmation of the true aims of American foreign policy. Those aims are not and have never been the welfare, freedom and prosperity of the the people it purports to 'help' by its interventions and machinations. Washington does not care -- in the slightest, for even a second -- what actually happens to the actual human beings living in Ukraine (or Russia or Iraq or Syria or Libya or Egypt or Yemen -- or even in America, whose citizens have been bankrupted, repressed and made targets for blowback from their leaders' reckless violence and destabilization overseas.) All that matters is that the interests of the dominating elite are advanced." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/l57ecxb

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Republicans still as extreme on abortion as ever

The Nation The Nation Blog
by Zoe Carpenter

"A group of Republican men took to the House floor on Wednesday evening and delivered emotional speeches about the need to restrict women’s right to abortion. ... Their speeches anticipated a vote on the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy. Originally scheduled for Thursday, the vote has now been indefinitely 'delayed' because the bill, it turns out, was too extreme even for some members of the GOP." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kc9y2m4

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No US weapons for countries with child soldiers (oh, you have a waiver?)

Abigail Hall Independent Institute
by Abigail Hall

"So did the U.S. government fulfill its supposed goal of snuffing out child soldiering by withholding aid? Not by a long shot. Just five months after his 2010 pledge, Obama granted several waivers to the Child Soldier Prevention Act, allowing funding to continue to four countries known to use child soldiers. Chad, Congo, Sudan, and Yemen each received a reprieve for a variety of reasons including their assistance in fighting terrorism. Congo was exempted because of American programs in the country aimed at training the military to 'be more professional.' During the Obama administration, Congo, Yemen and Chad would each receive millions in weapons despite their humanitarian records and the known use of child soldiers." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n85pozv

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Dirty Harry goes to Iraq

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by John Grant

"Back in 1979, reviewers liked to point out that Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now was so plagued with difficulty and confusion (the star suffered a heart attack during shooting and a devastating typhoon destroyed all the sets) that the making of the film paralleled the reality of the Vietnam War itself. A similar observation might be made of Clint Eastwood's American Sniper about Iraq. Like the Iraq War itself, Eastwood's movie begins by exploiting a historically inaccurate delusion and, then, sustains itself for two hours on the mission to protect US soldiers against the insurgency that arose in opposition to the US invasion and occupation based on the initial delusion." (01/22/15)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/22/dirty-harry-goes-to-iraq/

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If Social Security was really about funding your retirement …

Steve Trinward The Inter-Rationale
by Steve Trinward

"A lot of folks try to make the point that the amount taken out for Social Security (then, since the mid-’60s, FICA) has always been a relative pittance, and that even when you double the figures (by including the so-called 'employer share'), the grand total is far less than any of us might withdraw during our senior years. Some talk about how they 'already got back what I paid in, even what my boss did,' and pat themselves on the back for beating the system. Unfortunately, this misses an important point: Had that 'pittance' taken out over all those years been diverted into a simple 5% savings account, it could now have been worth six figures (seven, in many cases)!" (01/21/15)

http://rationalreview.news-digests.com/archives/179760

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The FBI is great at disrupting (its own) “terror plots”

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson

"On January 14 the US Department of Justice announced that the Joint Terrorism Task Force had disrupted the latest 'domestic terrorism plot' -- this time by 'a Cincinnati-area man ... to attack the U.S. Capital and kill government officials.' House Speaker John Boehner immediately cited the disrupted plot as evidence that Congress should think carefully before refusing to renew the NSA's bulk data collection powers. Only it turns out the feds had at least as much to do with hatching the plot as did the alleged plotter, Christopher Cornell." (01/21/15)

http://c4ss.org/content/35190

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The persistence of policing for profit

Jacob Sullum Reason
by Jacob Sullum

"Money-hungry cops are angry about the forfeiture reform that Attorney General Eric Holder announced last Friday, which suggests it's a move in the right direction. But contrary to initial press reports, the new policy represents a modest change to the rules governing civil forfeiture, which allows the government to take people's assets without accusing them of a crime. ... the new DOJ policy leaves the Equitable Sharing Program mostly untouched. It explicitly exempts seizures arising from state or local investigations that are assisted by or coordinated with federal agencies, which include seizures by hundreds of federally subsidized multijurisdictional task forces. ... That does not mean Holder's move accomplishes nothing. Greedy grumbling by cops suggests it will make legalized theft harder for some of them." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nc2cpxs

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What Obama got wrong in SOTU remarks on trade

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"The President briefly spoke about trade in his State of the Union speech. He admitted that 'past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype' but then he called for doing more of the same. He called for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) -- 'Fast Track' -- to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)." (01/21/15)

http://ourfuture.org/20150121/obama-on-trade-in-sotu

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The unquestioned, ignored, heroic military

Lucy Steigerwald Antiwar.com
by Lucy Steigerwald

"No good will come of calling all veterans monsters. And they're not. Of course they're not. They get ruined by wars that we all vaguely tolerate for want of a longer attention span. They get told that joining up is a noble, brave thing to do. Then they are left by an indifferent public, and an incompetent bureaucracy that can barely provide them with medical care. Yet there's something paint by numbers about the mournful, gray war movie. Even if Eastwood is as nuanced in American Sniper as he's proved himself capable of being in previous films, that is still a formula we've seen before." (01/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/puhtore

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Campaign finance reform: Not just for Democrats?

The Nation The Nation Blog
by Zoe Carpenter

"Ask Maine State Senator Ed Youngblood what’s changed most since he first ran for office in 2000 and the answer is easy: the money. Back then, legislative races in the state attracted less than a quarter of a million dollars in outside spending. By 2012, political groups were pouring more than $3.5 million into those contests. ... Youngblood has always run using Maine’s Clean Election program, which provides public funds for candidates who raise their money from small donors. It got a lot harder to do so after Citizens United, and things got even worse when another court case rolled back the part of Maine’s program that provided matching funds to help candidates deal with all that outside money." (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pktoj7a

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GOP response: The breadbags of empathy

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Imagine going to the doctor and saying, 'My back is killing me. I can barely move. What can you do to help me? Should we do an X-ray? Physical therapy? Medication?' And the doctor responds, 'Yeah, I hurt my back once. It was awful. So I know exactly what you're feeling. Anyway, thanks for coming in—just see the receptionist on the way out to pay your bill.' That's not too far off from what we heard from Senator Joni Ernst in the GOP response to the State of the Union address last night." [editor's note: Well, Bill Clinton said he could "feel your pain"? What's different now? - SAT] (01/21/15)

http://prospect.org/article/gop-response-breadbags-empathy

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Exonerating the CIA

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Binoy Kampmark

"Exonerating spooks for improper conduct is a regular feature of the establishment. After all, you don't convict your own, turning your nose at activities pursued under the grand, catch-all term of national security. From the start, the CIA review, established to investigate its own activities into spying on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was always predictably constituted, with predictable outcomes." (01/21/15)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/21/exonerating-the-cia/

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I’m really not sure they like us

Jon Carroll San Francisco Chronicle
by Jon Carroll

"The Fox News channel continues to thrive, but it’s not really selling news; it’s selling attitude. Real news (the kind you get on, say, Al Jazeera) seems not to interest people very much. Yes, you can get an outrage of the day trending on Twitter, but the outrage is usually without context, and it usually dissipates before the problem can be solved. Lynch them all and now, here’s an epic snowboard fail. The question in newsrooms has always been: How do we package the news in the new environment? How can we make our stories and our skills accessible in the digital age?" (01/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n9dma3m

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The unbearable bridge

Unqualified Offerings
by Thoreau

"The more grumpy I become, the more disenchanted I become with progressive reform schemes and warm-and-fuzzy types and lefty bullshit in the academy, the more I hate Ronald Reagan. Yes, you heard me right, Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan told people that the government can spend more money, taken in less money, and still balance its budget. He made ludicrous delusion and magical fixes mainstream. We’re supposed to believe that everything is wonderful and everything will be great and each and every kid is above average and earned that little league trophy for showing up some of the time and if you just follow best practices then students will learn more in less time with less effort and it will all be great. Screw that guy." (01/21/15)

http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2015/01/21/18374

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How to sell off a city

In These Times In These Times
by Rick Perlstein

"In June of 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a new appointment to the city’s seven-member school board. ... Deborah H. Quazzo is a founder of an investment firm called GSV Advisors, a business whose goal is ... drumming up venture capital for 'an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards.' GSV Advisors has a sister firm, GSV Capital, that holds ownership stakes in education technology companies like 'Knewton,' which sells software that replaces the functions of flesh-and-blood teachers. ... In other words, a key decision-maker for Chicago’s public schools makes money when school boards decide to sell off the functions of public schools." [editor's note: This would seem to qualify as "crony corporatism" not just "privatization" - SAT] (01/21/15)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17533/how_to_sell_off_a_city

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Obama’s cyber proposals sound good, but erode information security

Dan Froomkin The Intercept
by Dan Froomkin

"The State of the Union address President Obama delivers tonight will include a slate of cyber proposals crafted to sound like timely government protections in an era beset by villainous hackers. They would in theory help the government and private sector share hack data more effectively; increase penalties for the most troubling forms of hacking; and require better notification of people when their personal data has been stolen. But if you cut through the spin, it turns out that the steps Obama is proposing would likely erode, rather than strengthen, information security for citizens and computer experts trying to protect them." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ptf9eax

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Who will own the Internet of Things? (Hint: Not the users)

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Corynne McSherry

"From phones to cars to refrigerators to farm equipment, software is helping our stuff work better and smarter. But those features come at a high hidden cost: the rapid erosion of ownership. Why does that matter? Because when it comes to digital products, owners have rights. Renters on the other hand, have only permission. The source of the problem is simple: copyright." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ondfvws

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American Sniper, and the Murderers Hall of Infamy

The Power of Narrative
by Arthur Silber

"Just ten days ago, our wondrously life-affirming Western, and especially American, culture offered the spectacle of talk radio hosts giggling as they tried to determine the best way to celebrate the murders of those accused of the Charlie Hebdo killings. But our glorious culture is capable of achievements greater by far than a few hosts laughing about the deaths of less than a handful of people. When it comes to nauseating spectacles that celebrate violence and bloody death, we are always outdoing ourselves. Perhaps 'celebrate' isn't quite the right word in this context. 'Consecrate' captures the dynamic more accurately; truly, violence. especially gratuitous violence, and bloody death, the bloodier the better, constitute our civic religion these days. So this week began with the inspiring news that huge audiences flocked to see the new film, American Sniper." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lxkqj2e

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American Sniper

Bumper Hornberger Future of Freedom Foundation
by Jacob G Hornberger

"U.S. soldiers were sent into a war in which they were the aggressors and the Iraqi forces and Iraqi people were operating in defense. It's clear from the movie that Kyle never gets that point. Any Iraqi trying to kill an American soldier, thus, was automatically considered a bad guy -- a terrorist. U.S. soldiers were automatically considered to be the good guys notwithstanding the fact that they were clearly violating the principles against wars of aggression set forth at Nuremberg." (01/20/15)

http://fff.org/2015/01/20/american-sniper/

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Don’t run, Mitt

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

"Mitt Romney is thinking of running for president in 2016. According to the New York Times, that’s what Romney told a group of big donors last week. Earlier, the former Massachusetts governor was thinking of running because the only other hefty Republican who could spare the party from a nutty primary (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) was too coy about his 2016 intentions. Now that Bush seems ready to brave the ring, however, Romney still feels a need to do the deed. Again." (01/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mc3vtw5

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Mike Huckabee, your candidate of cultural resentment

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"As much as I enjoy The Daily Show, Jon Stewart is usually not that good an interviewer when it comes to political figures. He's about two-thirds of a good interviewer: there are always some good questions, but he usually misses opportunities to ask critical follow-ups, and when his interviewee is struggling, he'll often jump in with a joke. Which is his job, of course (it's a comedy show, and he's a comedian), but it also has the effect of letting his subject off the hook. Last night though, Stewart did an extremely revealing interview with Mike Huckabee, one that cast into sharp relief what Huckabee's 2016 presidential campaign is going to be about." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/npku74p

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Straight talk on veterans and suicide

Come Home America Come Home America
by Joey King

"I have been researching the issue of veteran suicide for about 6 years. ... 18 veterans a day commit suicide. ... These [are] the military’s own numbers, not the propaganda of some peace organization. Veterans are the largest, identifiable sub-group of suicides in the U.S. ... Sadly, the number soon jumped from 18 to 22 veterans per day who kill themselves. It has been stuck there ever since. Far more military personnel loose their lives by their own hands than by the hands of the enemy and it has been that way for years." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kmnfeog

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“Terror” as victim rhetoric

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Ryan Calhoun

"The entire purpose of the language of terrorism is to cloak the sentiments of war in a victim rhetoric. You see, France isn't 'at war,' they're merely responding to 'terror' attacks. Those wretched, vile gunmen are not warriors or soldiers, they're madmen, lone wolf terrorists. The attack on Charlie Hebdo's office on January 7 might otherwise be considered an invasion, an attack from outside forces France has declared war on. But war is far too brutish for the 21st century, where of course violence is on an inevitable downturn and world peace is just around the corner if not for a few meddling terror cells." (01/19/15)

http://c4ss.org/content/35159

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SOTU Address: A progressive field guide

Our Future
by Robert Borosage

"The annual State of the Union address that President Obama will deliver tonight before the Republican-controlled Congress serves many functions. It provides the president with a chance to boast upon progress made, and to highlight next steps. It frames, particularly with this obstructionist Congress, upcoming battles. And with the presidential election of 2016 already begun, it gives the president a chance to define themes and contrasts that the emerging challengers must respond to." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/phewnz5

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Can Wall Street take down Big Pharma?

William Greider The Nation Blog
by William Greider

"Here is a man-bites-dog story that might give comfort to those many Americans being gouged by the drug industry’s larcenous prices. A Dallas hedge-fund operator named Kyle Bass who made a fortune attacking over-priced stocks now says he is going to attack Big Pharma for over-pricing drugs. Bass’s announcement set financial industry bloggers aflutter because hedge funds are not usually known for public spirited motives. Citizen Bass is in it for the money of course. But he intends to do well himself by doing good for the rest of us." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o8llp6t

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Reducing inequality: Where to start?

Reuters Reuters
by Edward Hadas

"All people are equal in dignity but all societies are unequal in the distribution of education, consumption goods, economic opportunities and social influence. Until about 1800, few moralists thought the equality postulated in principle was violated by the inequality found in reality. Today almost everyone accepts that economic inequality can be, and often is, excessive. Why then does progress in alleviating unequal outcomes seem so slow? National debates about inequality may be serious and well meaning. But they cannot escape a sort of moral parochialism. If all people are truly equal, then it is wrong to worry primarily about equality within a small subset of humanity, for example the 4.5 percent of the world who are counted as American." (01/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/k29nmdd

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Groundhog Day C

The Cagle Post
by Bill Schorr

Cartoon. (01/19/15)

http://www.cagle.com/2015/01/groundhog-day-c/

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Republicans change rules; Democrats change stripes

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Jack Rasmus

"This week President Obama will make another 'State of the Union' (SOTU) annual address to Congress. In his SOTU addresses in recent years his comments were typically cautious, careful not to convey or promise too much in terms of new initiatives that would benefit those left behind in the so-called US economic recovery. Proposals for programs to help raise wages for American workers, help immigrants become citizens, save homeowners from foreclosures, ensure affordable education for students, shore up the USA's collapsing pension system, and so on were considered too controversial. As noted repeatedly by his White House spokespersons, anything more than minimalist proposals would only give an excuse for Republicans and conservatives in the US Congress to intensify their opposition; or would put Democrat Party members of Congress coming up for elections in conservative districts in a difficult position." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mfz3zvr

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No halo for Holder on forfeiture reform

James Bovard JimBovard.com
by James Bovard

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Friday that the Justice Department would cease sharing confiscated private property with state and local police agencies under its Equitable Sharing program. Asset forfeiture has recently been widely denounced by both liberals and conservatives as an civil liberties atrocity that has victimized innocent Americans across the nation. A Washington Post report suggested that the policy change was part of Mr. Holder’s efforts 'to burnish his place in history.' Mr. Holder's decision is justly being applauded across the political spectrum. Before placing a halo over the attorney general's head, though, it should be remembered that it was Mr. Holder, pulling strings on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, who did more than anyone else to perpetuate the abuses he curtailed on Friday." (01/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lr4q7zv

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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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