Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

Russia: Snowden is surprise guest on Putin phone-in

Hindustan Times [India]

"Edward Snowden, the fugitive former US spy agency contractor who leaked details of US intelligence eavesdropping, made a surprise appearance on a TV phone-in hosted by Vladimir Putin on Thursday, asking the Russian president if his country also tapped the communications of millions. The exchange was the first known direct contact between Putin and Snowden since Russia gave the American refuge last summer after he disclosed widespread monitoring of telephone and internet data by the United States and fled the country." [editor's note: What's most interesting to me is Putin's response -- unlike American politicians ("whatevah -- we do what we want"), for some reason he felt constrained to at least pretend to a respect for rule of law - TLK] (04/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nxfc2fv

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Report: Ukraine deal aims at de-escalation

Christian Science Monitor

"Nations involved in the Ukraine crisis pledged an easing of tensions Thursday, opening a possible path toward resolving Ukraine’s future without further Russian military intervention. US Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union issued a joint declaration after hours of talks Thursday in Geneva, agreeing on the need to end violence, to disband 'illegal armed groups,' and for Ukraine to undertake sweeping constitutional reforms. Secretary Kerry framed the deal as a start down the path of de-escalation, but said the test will be whether the 'words on a paper' are matched promptly by deeds on the ground." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p4sdc4c

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TX: State steals polygamist group’s secluded ranch

San Francisco Chronicle

"The secluded Texas ranch where followers of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs lived in near isolation was seized by state agents on Thursday, nearly six years after FBI agents raided the property and removed hundreds of children amid child sex abuse allegations. The Texas Department of Public Safety said its agents took possession of the Yearning For Zion Ranch near Eldorado. In a statement, DPS said only eight adults were still living on the West Texas property and agreed to leave after meeting with agents. DPS said authorities helped them vacate the ranch and take an inventory." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n9ba9aq

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IAEA: Iran’s higher-enriched uranium stock “cut by half”

BBC News [UK state media]

"Iran has neutralised half of its higher-enriched uranium stockpile, as per a deal agreed earlier this year, the world's nuclear watchdog says. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been checking Iran's adherence to the deal, struck with six world powers. The US has authorized the release of $450m (£270m) in frozen Iranian funds following the IAEA's latest findings. Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in return for partial sanctions relief in November." (04/17/14)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27065532

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Scientists create stem cells from adults

Reuters

"Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved 'therapeutic cloning' of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o9cplqd

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PA: HS principal allegedly faked class, grades

Fox News

"The former principal of a prestigious performing arts high school that turned out Grammy Award winners Boyz II Men hit a sour note in October -- when he was accused of passing out fake grades for a concocted history class. John Dunphy Jr., who was named principal of Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in July, was removed by the district in October for allegedly creating a phony world history course and then doling out fake grades to 18 juniors at the school, the Philadelphia Daily News reports." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nadxhbo

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Hagel: “Non-lethal” military aid for Ukraine

Raw Story

"The United States will send helmets, medical supplies and other non-lethal military aid to Ukraine amid fears of another Russian incursion there, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Hagel said he had informed Kiev that President Barack Obama 'has approved additional non-lethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies.' The aid includes medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukrainian troops, as well as shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine’s border security force. But it does not appear to contain any combat equipment, such as bulletproof vests or night-vision goggles." (04/17/24)

http://tinyurl.com/p5almql

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

Los Angeles Times

"Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist whose 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' enchanted millions of readers around the world and popularized the emerging Latin American literary genre known as magic realism, has died. He was 87. Garcia Marquez died Thursday at his home in Mexico City, Mexican media reported. A cause of death was not immediately annnounced, but Garcia Marquez had been in failing health for some time." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q8ket4t

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OR: Reservoir to be flushed because of urinating teen

Washington Post

"The mix of 38 million gallons of treated water and one teen’s urine has proven unacceptable to Portland officials who plan to flush away the whole lot -- the second time in less than three years the city has gone to such lengths to keep its water pure. In June 2011, the city drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland after a man urinated in the water supply. This time, water from a different reservoir at the same location will be discarded after a 19-year-old was videotaped in the act of urinating." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/la2e4js

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General Mills: Facebook “like” voids right to sue

New York Times

"Might downloading a 50-cent coupon for Cheerios cost you legal rights? General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, 'join' it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m65eb8x

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Federal judge overturns North Dakota abortion law

WKMG 6 News

"A federal judge ruled Wednesday that North Dakota's abortion law, considered one of the most restrictive in the nation, is unconstitutional. The law banned most abortions after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be first detected." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k2j6uwf

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WI: New law curbs private custody transfers of children

Reuters

"Wisconsin has adopted a law to limit private custody transfers of children, the first law of its kind in the United States, responding to a Reuters investigation that exposed the dangers of the unregulated practice. Reuters reported in September that parents were transferring custody of their unwanted adopted children to strangers met on the Internet, often with no government oversight and sometimes illegally. No state or federal laws specifically prohibit the practice, which is known as 're-homing.' And state laws that restrict the advertising and custody transfers of children are often confusing, and rarely spell out criminal sanctions." [editor's note: Because of course, bureaucrats know more than parents about where children belong - TLK] (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p9axpvo

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CA: Brown plans changes to stabilize state rainy-day fund

San Francisco Chronicle

"Saying the state's budget surplus should be used to pay down debt, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday called a special session of the Legislature to make changes to a rainy-day fund measure on the November ballot. He wants to replace the current ballot measure, which seeks to divert more state revenue into the rainy-day fund and make it harder to tap the money except in case of emergencies such as wildfires or earthquakes. Instead, Brown wants a new constitutional amendment that will focus on stabilizing the fund and allow future governors and legislatures more flexibility in using it." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/npkoewz

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Study: Internet makes global economy vulnerable to crash

Christian Science Monitor

"The global economy is entering phase of heightened vulnerability to digital disruption -- a threat likened to the US mortgage crisis, which was largely hidden until its dramatic collapse in 2008, a new report warns. The report suggests larger dangers are lurking beyond headlines of cyber-espionage, crime, and cyber-weapons development. For one, the fast-rising dependence on outsourcing key operations to cloud Internet Service Providers could result in cascading problems that cause a far broader or longer-lasting crash." (04/16/

http://tinyurl.com/npkwlq9

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College Board announces changes to SAT

Raw Story

"Getting into college in the United States will no longer hinge so much on a high school student’s grasp of arcane vocabulary or obtuse mathematical formulas. Changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) unveiled Wednesday are intended to breathe new vigor into the 88-year-old college entrance exam at a time when some critics are challenging its value. 'The changes to the SAT will distinguish it from any current admission exam,' said the College Board, the New York-based non-profit that oversees the test." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pcgq7eo

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Report: New oral drug can stop measles infection

Fox News

"Measles -- the virus once thought to be eradicated in many developed countries -- is on the rise once again. Although the MMR vaccine has significantly reduced measles cases around the world, many people still remain unvaccinated -- leading to an increase of sporadic outbreaks of this highly infectious virus in densely populated areas. In an attempt to help quell these measles surges, researchers from Georgia State University and the Paul-Ehrlich Institute in Langen, Germany have created an oral drug termed ERDRP-0519 that can block a measles-like virus in ferrets." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nvf5bmh

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India election: Voting starts on biggest polling day

BBC News [UK state media]

"Indians are voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP. Polling takes place in 121 seats in 12 states, including the key states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal. The nine-phase vote began on 7 April and will conclude on 12 May. Votes will be counted on 16 May. More than 814 million Indians are eligible to vote in the polls." (04/16/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-27045770

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South Korea: At least six killed, hundreds missing as ferry sinks off coast

ABC Online [Australia]

"At least six people are dead and hundreds are missing after a ferry sank off the southern coast of South Korea with 462 passengers and crew. South Korea's coastguard has confirmed 179 have been rescued from the sinking ferry; however, it said hundreds are still unaccounted for. Coastguards and navy divers have resumed the search for around 280 people still missing in the early hours of Thursday morning. A US navy ship has also been sent to the scene to help with the search." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o532zua

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India: Top court recognises transgenders in landmark ruling

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]

"India's top court has recognised the country's long marginalised transgender community as a third gender and, in a landmark judgment lauded by human rights groups, called on the government to ensure their equal treatment. There are hundreds of thousands of transgenders in India, say activists, but because they are not legally recognised, they are ostracised, discriminated against, abused and often forced into prostitution." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/may7vg5

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MI: Detroit seals pension deal with police & fire retirees

Raw Story

"Detroit reached its first deal with a retired workers group on Tuesday over pension and healthcare benefits and was close to a deal with at least one of its pension funds, giving a major boost to the city’s plan to exit bankruptcy in October. Momentum for the city’s plan to adjust its $18 billion debt burden was building after Detroit last week won court approval for a crucial settlement over interest rate swaps and reached an agreement with bond insurance companies over the treatment of voter-approved general obligation bonds." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mlw5wxc

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MT: GOP House contender downs drone in campaign ad

Fox News

"A Republican candidate for Congress in Montana has a message for the federal government: if you send a drone to spy on me, I’ll take it out. Matt Rosendale, a state senator running for the U.S. House of Representatives, unveiled an ad Monday that depicts a standoff between him and a 'government drone' that is 'spying' on him. Spoiler alert, the drone loses. The ad begins from the viewpoint of the drone, and then depicts Rosendale shooting it down with a rifle. Turning to the camera, Rosendale declares that he knows how to deal with big government and is ready to 'stand tall for freedom.'" (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/llnxmdo

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Study: Brain nerve cells found to aid nerve growth

San Francisco Chronicle

"Activating nerve cells in the brain appears to trigger the formation of another type of cell that is responsible for building the insulating sheaths that make neural communication possible, according to Stanford scientists. When nerve cells fire, they prompt the production of oligodendrocytes, which make the protective sheaths called myelin, the scientists found. In their study, the researchers looked at mice that had been implanted with neurons that were programmed to activate in response to light waves. When the neurons 'lit up,' that set off the propagation of cells that create myelin." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkvj6j7

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NYPD closes down unit that spied on Muslims

New York Times

"The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said. The decision by the nation’s largest police force to shutter the controversial surveillance program represents the first sign that William J. Bratton, the department’s new commissioner, is backing away from some of the post-9/11 intelligence-gathering practices of his predecessor." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lq4xnuk

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AZ: Brewer signs bill authorizing abortion clinic inspections

Reuters

"Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes. The Republican-backed bill, which gained final legislative approval from the state Senate last week, removes a provision from state law requiring a judge to sign off on any spot inspections conducted at the nine clinics in Arizona licensed to perform abortions. No other medical facilities in the state require such a warrant for unannounced inspections." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mdhlrtr

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New York becomes 10th “National Popular Vote” state

Staten Island Advance

"The Empire State has joined the National Popular Vote compact with legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. States that have signed on to the interstate agreement will award electoral votes for president to the candidate who receives the majority of the national popular vote. ... The legislation utilizes New York state's right under the U.S. Constitution to award its 29 electoral votes in any manner it deems appropriate, in this case to the winner of the national popular vote. However, it only takes effect once enough other states have signed on so the compact possesses a majority of the Electoral College's 538 votes. The compact currently contains 165 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pfz35yp

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Commentary


| News | Events |

The black market correction

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Gabriel Amadej

"It’s intriguing to see the progressive Left uniting against drug prohibition. They’re not with us in spirit, nor should they be, but they’ve laid the groundwork for its critique, and in a way that is sewn with the same threads of our passing commonalities. Many hold that only 'hard' drugs should be combated with force and other 'safe' drugs regulated in their consumption. This is certainly disappointing, but we, the decentralist Left, can exploit this opportunity." (04/16/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/26426

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The middle class is not “normal”

Our Future
by Thom Hartmann

"There’s nothing 'normal' about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it’s a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation’s middle class. Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels." [editor's note: He's not far from wrong about "capitalism"; he just doesn't know squat about "free markets" - SAT] (04/17/14)

http://ourfuture.org/20140417/the-middle-class-is-not-normal

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Why I’m cheering for fossil fuels this Earth Day

John Stossel Fox News Forum
by John Stossel

""The heavens reek, the waters below are foul ... we are in a crisis of survival." That's how Walter Cronkite and CBS hyped the first Earth Day, back in 1970. Somehow we've survived since then, and most of life got better, although I never hear that from the worrywarts. Of course, some things got better because of government: We passed environmental rules that got most of the filth out of the air and sewage out of lakes and rivers. Great -- but now we're told that we're in big trouble because greenhouse gases cause global warming. I mean, climate change." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qftvf68

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Can National Popular Vote end the voting wars?

Reuters
by Rob Richie

"One of the most pernicious outcomes of the intense political struggle between Democrats and Republicans is the parties’ breathtaking capacity to game our voting rules. Nothing makes voters more cynical than seeing political leaders seemingly supporting or opposing election laws based solely on their partisan impact -- from redistricting reform to fights over whether to allow early voting. But a reform win in New York could foreshadow a cease-fire in the voting wars. On April 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making New York the 10th state to pass the National Popular Vote (NPV) interstate compact for president." [editor's note: Short answer? Umm, no? - SAT] (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/prdx6vs

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The saddest job in the world

San Francisco Chronicle
by Mark Morford

"Were you thinking parenting? Compost truck driver? Michele Bachmann’s twitchy left eyelid? Close. ... You might be right. Or rather, you might be almost right. But I tend to think there’s a job that’s even worse, given how it’s an even more boring form of halfhearted evil, a laborious orientation so numbing and heartless that it’s regularly applauded by the jaded minions of the Devil himself, albeit indifferently. Which, of course, makes it even worse. Indeed, I believe there’s a special place in purgatory reserved for people who create, track, heartily defend and then barely enjoy the sidelong profits from the dregs of American fast food." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nok9rp2

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White noise, black politics

The Nation
by Melissa Harris-Perry

"This year, Harvard admitted a record number of black students, and it boasts the highest black graduation rate in the Ivy League. The faculty, facilities and programming budget at Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute make it the envy of the American academy. There is an active, thirty-seven-year-old Black Students Association on campus. The Hutchins Center houses a hip-hop archive and publishes the well-regarded Du Bois Review. The president and first lady of the United States are both graduates of Harvard Law School." (04/17/14)

http://www.thenation.com/article/179380/white-noise-black-politics

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A cubicle of one’s own

In These Times
by Chris Lehmann

"It’s odd to come to the end of a sprightly historical tour of the vexed, overplanned world of the modern workplace and realize that the emerging trends are represented by, well, you. Let me explain. In Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, Nikil Saval plumbs the management theories and competing design philosophies that produced, in high modernism’s mid-20th century heyday, the arid, soul-crushing, dubiously efficient built environment known as the information workplace. Saval, an editor with n+1, speculates that the lovingly choreographed cubicle-and-corridor organization of work may be consigned to history’s dustbin by today’s knowledge workers. " (04/17/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16562/a_cubicle_of_ones_own

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Judging Obama’s “evolution” on marriage equality

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Years from now, Barack Obama will almost certainly be seen as the most significant American president in the history of the gay rights movement. Under his watch, the military ended its policy of discrimination against gay service-members, the Defense of Marriage Act was abandoned by the administration and then overturned by the Supreme Court, and a majority of Americans came to embrace marriage equality -- not least, the president himself. But there's another way to look at that story, which is that on marriage, at least, Obama had to be dragged to the position he eventually took." (04/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oulzeg7

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Earth Day

Cagle Post
by Joe Heller

Cartoon. (04/17/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/04/earth-day/

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So, how’s that Ukrainian “revolution” working out?

Come Home America Come Home America
by Thomas L. Knapp

"The US government has been funding and backing unsavory 'color revolutionists' -- including a rogue's gallery of neo-Nazis and other thugs -- in Ukraine for years, hoping to peel the region away from its close relationship with Russia. After the last elections failed to go its way, the Obama administration went with 'the Pinochet option,' giving its operatives the green light for violent overthrow of the government and installation of a pro-US, pro-EU, anti-Russia junta. But for a coup to work, certain prerequisites must be met." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qbuqg3c

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District of compensation, just and otherwise

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

"Pete Stark's name didn't come up Tuesday night at the Castro Valley Library candidates forum for the congressional district Stark represented from 1972 to 2012. The fact that nobody seemed to miss Stark should serve as a warning to politicians who think they own their seats. So thought Stark, until Democrat Eric Swalwell knocked him off his perch in 2012, thanks in part to California's top-two primary election." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/phdupgu

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Cuomo’s wedge

The American Prospect
by Harold Meyerson

"On Monday, Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, signed legislation forbidding her state’s cities from enacting ordinances that set their own minimum wage standards or that entitle workers to paid sick days. Even in hard-right Oklahoma, citizens were collecting signatures to put initiatives raising the minimum wage and mandating sick-day on the Oklahoma City ballot. Fallin has now put an unceremonious end to such egalitarian frippery. As an increasing number of cities have considered setting their minimum wages higher than those of their states, conservatives in state government have moved to strip them of that power." (04/16/14)

http://prospect.org/article/cuomos-wedge

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How should Obama respond to Putin’s Ukraine provocations?

The Nation
by Bob Dreyfuss

"Unless you’re deaf, dumb and blind, it’s obvious that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s obstreperous president, is running a major covert operation in eastern Ukraine, including the dispatch of a limited number of Russian special forces and support for pro-Russian militias there. It isn’t quite clear yet whether Putin is (a) preparing the ground for a Crimea-style takeover of part or all of Ukraine (unlikely), (b) trying to destabilize Ukraine so that it, and its Western allies, agree to the radical decentralization and federalization plan that Russia has demanded, or (c) making it clear that Ukraine ought not to link its political and economic future with the West, or else. But whichever it is, it’s a dangerous game. So how should President Obama respond?" (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pnwzeyb

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Can Scott Walker be defeated?

In These Times
by Roger Bybee

"Three years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker first dropped what he called a 'bomb,' one that suddenly and swiftly decimated the union rights of public employees. Walker’s legislation, Act 10, ignited outrage from unions and their allies, fueling a massive effort to recall the governor, which came to fruition with a recall vote in June 2012. Walker prevailed in the recall, but the process left behind a resentful segment of the public. Today, the fight against Walker and his anti-worker policies is picking up steam with an electoral challenge from Democratic businesswoman Mary Burke, and a labor campaign to support Burke and highlight Wisconsin workers’ lagging wages." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pj9r83y

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Populism? Where are the pitchforks?

Reuters
by Robert L. Borosage

"Americans are in a surly mood, confronting rules they feel are rigged against them. President Barack Obama captured this populist temper in his re-election campaign. He then launched his second term declaring that inequality is the 'most pressing challenge of our time,' and laying out a popular agenda to raise the federal minimum wage, provide pay equity for women, establish universal pre-school and other initiatives that polls show the public strongly supports. Republican obstruction has blocked progress on all these ... Yet it is the president’s popularity that has cratered." [editor's note: Could that have anything to with Obombya having campaigned on "hope," "open doors" and "new ideas"? Nobody sane ever expected the GOPers to make such changes, but they believed it when BHO said he would! - SAT](04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nk2nzt9

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The FBI and its lethal informants

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Peter Lee

"Lot of talk about bad guys being FBI assets recently. Thanks to his lawyers, the Interwebs are a-hum with speculation that the FBI neglected to hoover up Tamerlan Tsarnaev a.k.a. the Elder before the Boston marathon bombing because the Bureau was already in touch with him and trying to turn him as an asset, not because the Russians withheld crucial information. Yesterday it also transpired that Glenn Miller, the white supremacist linked to the shootings in Overland Park, had allegedly worked with the FBI as an informer." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/muporuu

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Teacher evaluations: Education “reform”’s biggest bust?

Our Future
by Jeff Bryant

"Would you like your job performance judged by a 5-year-old? That’s a relevant question for public school teachers in Hawaii, where the state’s new teacher evaluation system attributes 10 percent of their job performance rating on what children as young as 5 years old think. Although 10 percent may not seem like a whole lot, in a metric based evaluation system where harsh judgments of 'effective' versus 'needs improvement' can swing either way based on a point or two, 100 percent can be 100 percent of the reason for a bad grade." (04/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/omk4rcf

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Nevada rancher

Cagle Post
by Joe Heller

Cartoon. (04/16/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/04/nevada-rancher/

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The tortoise and the hair-trigger

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

"Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his well-armed supporters forced the well-armed federal government to back down and return Bundy's seized cows -- which were seized because Bundy, 67, stopped paying grazing fees in 1993. How does anyone get the government to back down? At first blush, Bundy seemed to have right on his side. He's a cowboy who just wants to keep being a cowboy. The federal government, which owns more than 80 percent of Nevada land, including the land on which the Bundy family had settled, threatened to put him out to pasture." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kn73ap4

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Stop Tax Day giveaways

Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"It’s Tax Day! And right now Congress is working on Tax Day giveaways for the big corporations. When corporations avoid paying their fair share of taxes, the rest of us end up picking up the tab. So Happy Tax Day! Have you heard politicians screaming about 'the deficit?' Have you heard them saying we have to 'make the tough choices' and cut back on ... 'government spending.') That’s what they say. But guess what they’re doing right now." [editor's note: How does one determine what the "fair share" to be handed over to the muggers is? - TLK] (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lntvswo

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The lost promise of progressive taxes

Reuters
by Ajay K. Mehrotra

"Conservatives bemoan that not enough people are paying taxes. They insist that a minority of 'job creators' and 'makers' are underwriting the social benefits that go to the 'takers.' Liberals cite the growing concentration of wealth and lament that the rich don’t pay their fair share. In this new Gilded Age, they say, the 1 percent should be paying far more of their annual earnings. Yet neither party seems willing to reform our tax system dramatically." [editor's note: This noodnik praises the "progressive" methods of "reform" that have things as screwy as they are today - SAT] (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mp5d5mw

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Republicans root for the villain

In These Times
by Leo Gerard

"Rejecting dozens of heroic characters, from Captain America to Underdog, Republicans last week chose instead a villain for their figurehead. They selected Prince John, the guy who coddled the rich and tried to crush Robin Hood. House Republicans voted to elevate Prince John as their champion when they passed a budget slashing taxes for the rich and decimating programs for workers and low-income Americans." [editor's note: Despite the vested interest displayed by his title, Mr. Gerard is not far off with this analysis of the usual suspects of corporati plutocracy in action - SAT] (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m4h4ct4

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Strike a pose

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"One of the central dynamics of American politics in the last few decades has been the sorting of the parties, the way that the Republican and Democratic coalitions have become ideologically clearer and more narrow. There are some ways in which this has been a salutary development; for instance, if like many Americans you're a low-information voter, its easier to figure out which party to vote for than it once was. But while the GOP has become particularly unified (the northeastern liberal Republicans who once constituted a substantial faction within the party are all gone)there are still some moderate Democrats around, even in the South." (04/15/14)

http://prospect.org/article/strike-pose

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The tax breaks that are killing the planet

The Nation Blog
by Zoe Carpenter

"ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, hauled in a $32.6 billion profit last year. Chief executive Rex Tillerson got a 3 percent bump in his pay package, sending it above $28 million. And today the company gets its annual boost from the federal government: an estimated $600 million in tax breaks. All told, the government gifts as much as $4.8 billion to the oil industry each year, more than any other country. Much of that comes not as direct handouts but instead via loopholes in the tax code; deductions for depleting oil reserves, for example, and write-offs for the expense of drilling a new well." [editor's note: As much as I hate "special favorite" treatment for ANYONE in the tax code, it's still just a simple fact that "not stealing some of your money" is NOT the same thing as "gifting" you anything - TLK] (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l9zycfg

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Is Putin being lured into a trap?

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Mike Whitney

"Russia is not responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. The US State Department engineered the fascist-backed coup that toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with the American puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former banker. Hacked phone calls reveal the critical role that Washington played in orchestrating the putsch and selecting the coup’s leaders. Moscow was not involved in any of these activities. Vladimir Putin, whatever one may think of him, has not done anything to fuel the violence and chaos that has spread across the country. Putin’s main interest in Ukraine is commercial." (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nplp22q

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Who are the poor going to ask for restitution?

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Valdenor Junior

"Last Friday (04/11), a piece of land property in Rio’s suburbia was reinstated to telecom giant Oi. The area was known as 'favela da Telerj' and had been occupied by 5,000 people, mostly from Mandela, Manguinhos, and Jacarezinho favelas, who built improvised homes there. There were serious confrontations with the Military Police in the enforcement of the court order of disoccupation and even an O Globo newspaper reporter, who was following the acts of the police, was arrested. This is the same Rio de Janeiro where thousands of families had their homes expropriated to open up space for the FIFA World Cup 2014 developments." (04/15/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/26424

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Prevent voter fraud

Cagle Post
by Mike Luckovich

Cartoon. (04/15/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/04/prevent-voter-fraud/

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Tax Day: What kind of “civilization” are we paying for?

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson

"April 15 seems to be a holiday of sorts for progressives, who inevitably trot out Oliver Wendell Holmes’s quote about taxes being 'the price we pay for civilization,' and reminding us of all the great stuff -- roads, schools, etc. -- that they pay for. But on closer examination, tax day really isn’t a very good choice for progressive holiday." (04/13/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/26351

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Will Obama & Kerry play high cards against Israeli hardliners?

The Nation
by Bob Dreyfuss

"The deadline, supposedly April 29, for a deal of some kind between Israel and the Palestinians (what Secretary of State John Kerry calls a 'framework agreement') is close, and although the talks appeared to have fallen apart earlier this month, the two sides held what The Wall Street Journal calls 'a rare meeting without U.S. mediator Martin Indyk present' on Sunday. It isn’t clear what the meeting means, and it may be too late for any deal to be reached by the end of April, but at least Kerry is putting the blame for the roadblocks where it belongs: on Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu." (04/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ms8xlzr

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Dawning of Age of Anthropocene

In These Times
by Jessica Stites

"Scientists have been clanging the alarm about human-caused climate change, trying to bring around the 33 percent of Americans who don’t believe the earth is warming and the 18 percent of believers in global warming who think the process is 'natural.' ... For more than a decade, geologists have been debating whether to officially declare the existence of a new epoch, the 'Anthropocene,' to acknowledge that humans are radically reshaping the earth’s surface." (04/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lo3hn9r

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Poof! Israelis & Palestinians head for the brink

The American Prospect
by Gershom Gorenberg

"On the El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wandered into the economy section looking for an aide, or perhaps just too tense after a long week in America to sit still. Lieberman wore the uncertain smile of a man in strange territory who doesn't know where he's going. The young muscular guy sitting next to me, wearing a dark jacket and a shirt open at the collar, the uniform of muscular men who accompany Israeli ministers, constituted an immediate warning against buttonholing his boss. He did mention, however, that no one in the foreign minister's party had slept in the past week." (04/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mxkw6cw

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The truth behind Tax Day

Our Future
by Robin Claremont

"If you groan about Tax Day, you’re certainly not alone. But what if Tax Day was something we could be proud of as members of a democracy? Would you feel differently about paying taxes if you knew they were going to support public services that you, your family, and your community rely on: such as public safety, roads and bridges, schools, healthcare, social services, and national parks? Millions of Americans file their federal income tax returns on April 15 each year with no idea what the government actually does with all that money." [editor's note: Anyone who likes what the chart attached to this article shows should just admit it -- you LOVE when the beatings increase! - SAT] (04/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mjxhdsp

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Post Rwanda: Investing in atrocity prevention

Reuters
by Pam Omidyar

"In the 20 years since the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its terrible spillover into the Congo, it has been clear that the global community remains ill-equipped to address such human-made catastrophic tragedies. While many have worked to heal Rwanda, crises of unfathomable mass violence have continued to unfold in places like Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Syria. In each case, the international community has failed to live up to a global commitment to prevention, protection and accountability for mass crimes. War and mass violence not only halts development, it reverses it." (04/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lbr85aa

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Everyone on our streets is part of the problem

San Francisco Chronicle
by Jon Carroll

"I know that pedestrian deaths are up in San Francisco. I give the benefit of the doubt to the pedestrians, who, after all, paid a heavy price for being on the same street as large cars. But I don't know that all the pedestrians were blameless. I have seen pedestrians move out from between two parked cars and step into traffic. I have seen pedestrians try to cross four lanes of traffic at mid-block. I have seen them talking on phones and thus rendered oblivious to their surroundings. Sometimes a driver is just an innocent bystander. Sometimes the result is tragedy. Too, there are drivers who seem unaware of the weight and power of their machines. Driving is so easy and often so quiet that it lulls them into a false sense of security." (04/14/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mbhrnea

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Mozillagate: Brandon Eich & rightwing hypocrisy

The Nation
by Michelle Goldberg

"[T]here is a credible if not entirely convincing liberal argument against Eich’s forced resignation. Most of us do not want to live in a world where donations to unpopular causes can be used against us at work. ... At the same time, though, a CEO is not an ordinary employee -- he or she is a leader and a symbol. If employees believe that their leader disdains their families and rejects their values, it damages morale. If a CEO comes to symbolize ideas that are anathema to customers and collaborators, it impedes growth. ... Pushing him out was, in the end, a business decision." [editor's note: A surprisingly good analysis of this issue at its deeper roots - SAT] (04/11/14)

http://tinyurl.com/newrkqe

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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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