Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

Idiot pols file frivolous suit over Colorado’s legal marijuana

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

"A pair of states on Thursday filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to strike down Colorado's laws that legalize recreational marijuana. Citing federal antidrug laws, particularly interstate drug trafficking, Nebraska and Oklahoma said in the lawsuit that Colorado's marijuana laws have 'created a dangerous gap in the federal drug-control system enacted by the United States Congress.'" (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/muxqeuc

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Ebola claims 11th Sierra Leone doctor; Guinea fire destroys critical supplies

Japan Times [Japan]

"One of Sierra Leone’s most senior physicians died Thursday from Ebola, the 11th doctor in the country to succumb to the disease, a health official said. In neighboring Guinea, a fire destroyed medicine crucial to fighting Ebola. The fire engulfed a warehouse at the Conakry airport and burned everything inside, said Dr. Moussa Konate, head of logistics for Guinea’s Ebola response. He could not immediately say how much had been lost." (12/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/klo2xs7

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Secret Service review urges “top-to-bottom” overhaul of agency

CBS News CBS News

"A report summary released Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security concluded that the Secret Service needs more money, more staff, more training, and an outsider at the helm, among other necessary changes, to adequately fulfill its core mission of protecting the president. The investigation that produced the report, conducted by a team of outside experts, was commissioned in the wake of a security breach at the White House on September 19, when a man jumped the fence and made it all the way into the executive mansion before he was apprehended by agents." [editor's note: I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that government bureaucrats think think they need more money - TLK] (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l9kylr3

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OH: Police pepper spray crowd lined up for Air Jordans

Raw Story Raw Story

"Police used pepper spray on Wednesday to disperse an unruly crowd of about 300 people lined up at a mall in Toledo, Ohio for a chance to buy new Air Jordan sneakers. People began lining up in front of Franklin Park Mall around 3:30 a.m. for tickets passed out by employees of Finish Line, a national shoe chain. The ticket allowed them to buy the Nike Air Jordan Retro 11 Legend Blue, which goes on sale for $200 on Saturday. ... Police spokesman Sergeant Joe Heffernan said the pepper spray was used at about 5:45 a.m. after people pushed down barricades and several officers were knocked to the ground." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qaoj8c3

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Report: China tests ICBM with multiple warheads

Fox News Fox News

"China carried out a long-range missile flight test on Saturday using multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, according to U.S. defense officials. The flight test Saturday of a new DF-41 missile, China’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, marks the first test of multiple warhead capabilities for China, officials told the Washington Free Beacon. China has been known to be developing multiple-warhead technology, which it obtained from the United States illegally in the 1990s." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oztd9bu

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UN wants North Korea in court for rights abuses

Reuters Reuters

"Member countries of the United Nations on Thursday urged the Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity as alleged in a U.N. inquiry report released earlier this year. There were 116 votes in favor of the resolution, with 20 against and 53 abstentions. The resolution, which was drafted by the European Union and Japan, was approved last month by the 193-member assembly's Third Committee, which deals with human rights." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q5yyx8t

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Michigan to vote on sales tax for roads

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"Michigan voters would be asked to approve a 1 percentage point hike in the 6 percent state sales tax as part of an estimated $1.6 billion road and school funding deal announced Thursday by Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders. The Republican-led Legislature is expected to vote on the plan later in the day, the last of the two-year session. A statewide vote would occur in May if two-thirds of the House and Senate OK the proposed constitutional amendment. It would ask voters to raise the state sales tax to 7 percent, drop the sales tax on fuel and ensure that school aid fund revenue could go to K-12 districts or community colleges and not universities." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pz2a8ta

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Colombia: FARC proposes indefinite cease-fire — with strings

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"An open-ended cease-fire announced by leftist FARC rebels is in doubt Thursday after the government rejected the guerrilla group’s conditions for the unilateral move. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has engaged in peace talks with the government since November 2012, said Wednesday that the unprecedented cease-fire would begin Dec. 20 and continue without a predetermined end date. ... But the guerrilla group, which has been fighting the Colombian state for more than half a century, said the cease-fire would enter into effect once an international verification team was in place to monitor compliance." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nos8gob

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EU courts: Obesity “could be a disability”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU's highest court has ruled. The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat. The court said that if obesity could hinder 'full and effective participation' at work then it could count as a disability. The ruling is binding across the EU. Judges said that obesity in itself was not a disability -- but if a person had a long-term impairment because of their obesity, then they would be protected by disability legislation." (12/18/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30529791

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Happy birthday, Chelsea Manning

Gawker

"This week marked the 27th birthday of Chelsea Manning, the U.S. military whistleblower who currently sits in prison for leaking material to Wikileaks. Here are some birthday wishes for her from people who have spent time in similar circumstances." (12/17/14)

http://gawker.com/happy-birthday-chelsea-manning-1672414989

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US, Cuba plan restored relations after 50 years of hostility

Reuters Reuters

"The United States plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 50 years after they were severed, a major policy shift after decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday. Announcing the end of what he called a 'rigid' policy of isolation of Cuba that had been ineffective, Obama said the United States planned to move toward normal ties and would open an embassy in Cuba." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ph6qqt5

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Sony cancels premiere showings of “The Interview”

Washington Post

"Sony Pictures Entertainment has cancelled the Christmas-day release of The Interview, bowing to threats of a wide-scale attack from the hackers that have tormented it for weeks. Sony said in a statement Wednesday it is 'deeply saddened at [the hackers'] brazen effort' to suppress the movie, and opted 'not to move forward' with the Dec. 25 release. ... The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday there is no credible evidence suggesting an active plot against American movie theaters in connection with the hack." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pvqdu63

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Geneva Conventions adopt declaration invoking rights of Palestinian Arabs in conflict with Israel

Minneapolis Star Tribune

"The international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying Wednesday the practice violates its responsibilities as an occupying power. A declaration adopted by consensus among 126 of the 196 parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention insists that international humanitarian law must be followed in areas affected by the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian [Arab]s. ... Israel and the U.S. didn't participate." (12/17/14)

http://www.startribune.com/world/286074361.html

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Dog bites man: Congress extends dozens of tax breaks

Raw Story Raw Story

"The US Senate approved a sweeping package of tax breaks, sending to President Barack Obama a bill that allows individuals and corporations to save billions of dollars on their 2014 taxes. On the Senate’s final day of the year, lawmakers passed some 55 so-called tax extenders, deductions that expired at the end of 2013 but will be retroactively restored with the current legislation. The Senate easily passed the measure, 76 votes to 16, after the House passed it earlier this month." [editor's note: Business as usual on Corporatal Hill - SAT] (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m6lgnew

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SCOTUS bars Arizona from denying driver’s licenses to immigrants

Reuters

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the state of Arizona from enforcing a policy that denies driver's licenses to young immigrants granted legal status [sic] by President Barack Obama in 2012. The court denied the request by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to place a hold on a ruling from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the policy had no legal basis. The state must now let roughly 20,000 eligible immigrants apply for driver's licenses." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pjf36t5

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MN: “Free” stimulus broadband project costs state taxpayers millions

Fox News Fox News

"'Get connected, stay connected, live connected.' That marketing tagline sums up how Lake County officials manage to keep one of the most expensive federal stimulus broadband projects in the country alive. The costs of the Lake Connections fiber optic network project in the vast northern Minnesota wilderness continue to increase, and local taxpayers are now footing part of the ever-growing bill." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkttgf3

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MT: Man convicted of killing German exchange student

Salt Lake Tribune

"A Montana man who shot and killed a German exchange student trespassing in his garage was convicted of deliberate homicide Wednesday despite arguing that a state 'castle doctrine' law allowed him to use deadly force to protect his home and family. ... Kaarma shot Dede in the early hours of April 27 after being alerted to an intruder by motion sensors. Witnesses testified Kaarma fired four shotgun blasts at Dede, who was unarmed." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mfjugdj

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SC: Judge throws out teen’s murder conviction 70 years after state killing

The Washington Post Washington Post

"When George Stinney Jr. was executed for the killings of two white girls in 1944, he was so small that the straps of South Carolina’s electric chair didn’t fit him properly, and he had to sit on a book for his electrocution. Stinney was just 14 years old at the time and became the youngest person put to death in the United States in the 20th century. But Wednesday, 70 years after the fact, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen tossed out his conviction, which was reached after a trial that didn’t even last a full day and was never appealed." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nbhovn5

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WV: Four indicted in chemical spill case

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"A federal grand jury has indicted four former executives of a chemical company on pollution charges in a January spill that prompted a drinking water ban for 300,000 West Virginia residents. An indictment unsealed Wednesday charged ex-Freedom Industries presidents Gary Southern and Dennis P. Farrell and two others with failing to ensure that Freedom operated the steel storage tank that leaked in a reasonable and environmentally sound manner. Southern also faces federal fraud charges related to the company's bankruptcy case. Freedom filed for bankruptcy eight days after the Jan. 9 spill of coal-cleaning chemicals into the Elk River in Charleston. West Virginia American Water uses the river for its water supply a mile and a half downstream." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ktchvoy

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Report: Wealth gap now widest on record

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"As study after study has shown, the US economic recovery has been a top-heavy affair, with the bulk of the wealth regained from the Great Recession benefitting the wealthiest Americans. The latest comes from a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, which found that the wealth gap between high income Americans and middle income Americans is now the biggest on record. ... Additionally, the net worth of America’s high-income families is nearly 70 times that of lower income families." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pcgatoz

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Dalai Lama: “I may be the last”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said he realises that he may be the last to hold the title. But he told the BBC it would be better that the centuries-old tradition ceased 'at the time of a popular Dalai Lama.' The Dalai Lama suggested the UK had taken a soft line with China over Hong Kong's recent student-led pro-democracy protests for financial reasons." (12/17/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-30510018

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OH: Politicians consider bill to hide identities of accessories to state killings

ABC News ABC News

"The names of companies that provide Ohio with lethal injection drugs would be shielded under a proposal the state House is poised to vote on Wednesday. Some lawmakers have said the bill is needed to restart [state killings] in the state. ... Shielding the names of companies that provide lethal injection drugs is necessary to obtain supplies of the drugs by protecting drugmakers from harassment, according to bill supporters." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oxu48v5

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Fourteen arrested in connection with deadly meningitis outbreak

CNN CNN

"Fourteen people have been arrested in connection with the deadly 2012 national outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to steroid injections distributed by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, a law enforcement source told CNN Wednesday. Owners of the pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center, were among those arrested. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tied 751 cases across 20 states to the steroid injections. A total of 64 people died as a result." (12/17/14)

http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/17/us/meningitis-outbreak-arrests/

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Government’s final onslaught delays Barrett Brown’s sentencing

WhoWhatWhy

"Even with a conviction secured by a plea deal, prosecutors doubled down against a brash journalist who dared to expose the national security machinery and threaten an FBI agent. Hacktivist writer Barrett Brown's sentencing in Dallas on Dec. 16 was supposed to be a one-day affair, ending with the handing down of a prison term of not more than eight-and-a-half years. But prosecutors surprised the court and Brown's defense team with hundreds of pages of evidence and exhibits to push for the longest prison term possible. The sudden onslaught and ensuing testimony prompted Judge Sam A. Lindsay to order Brown to return on Jan. 22 to find out his fate." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p5wx76r

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Russia: Rouble suffers steepest drop in 16 years

Reuters Reuters

"The rouble plunged more than 11 percent against the dollar on Tuesday in its steepest intraday fall since the Russian financial crisis in 1998 as confidence in the central bank evaporated after an ineffectual rate hike. The rouble opened around 10 percent stronger against the dollar after the central bank unexpectedly raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty 650 basis points to try and halt the currency's slide, but it reversed gains in volatile trade and repeatedly set new record lows." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kktved7

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Commentary


| News | Events |

The latest twist in the bizarre prosecution of Barrett Brown

The Intercept The Intercept
by Michelle Garcia

"Barrett Brown entered the federal courtroom shackled, with a slight swagger in his step and squinting into the light. He took his seat next to his defense team and quietly set about flipping through a stack of loose-leaf papers and then began writing. When asked by the judge if he knew why he was in court that day, Tuesday, Brown -- who has spent two years in federal custody -- leaned into the microphone and with a warbly Texas accent, said clearly and plainly, 'I am to be sentenced today.' And then he returned to his papers." (12/17/14)

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/17/barrett-brown-sentenced/

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Global warming true believers the ones in “denial”

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

"I have a theory as to why Americans don’t worry all that much about global warming: High-profile purveyors of climate change don’t push for reductions in greenhouse gases so much as focus on berating people who do not agree with their opinions. They call themselves champions of 'the science' -- yet focus on ideology more than tangible results. Their language is downright evangelical. Recently, science guy Bill Nye joined other experts who objected to the media’s use of the term 'climate skeptic.' They released a statement that concluded, 'Please stop using the word 'skeptic' to describe deniers.' Deniers? Like Judas?" (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mcw68yl

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Swiss give positive lesson in negative rate policy

Reuters Reuters
by Edward Hadas

"There are some unlikely ideas in both mathematics and finance. For example, the square root of negative numbers and negative interest rates both look impossible. To make sense of them, it is necessary to understand numbers and money in a new way. The Swiss National Bank has put the deeper monetary theory into practice, by cutting its overnight policy rate to -0.25 percent on Dec. 18. The central bank is trying to keep Switzerland neutral in the global currency wars. With other countries trying to push down the value of their currencies, traders are desperate for safety."" (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kmjsc4t

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Jeb Bush: Too conservative to win?

Our Future
by Bill Scher

"With former Florida Governor Jeb Bush 'actively exploring' a run for president, much of the initial analysis centers on the question if he is too moderate to win the Republican primary. The more important question is if Jeb is too conservative to win the general election. It’s true Jeb has taken positions that will complicate his primary campaign. ... He once dared to say he’d accept a budget that included $1 of tax increases for every $10 of spending cuts, a stance which doesn’t really qualify as 'moderate,' but more accurately could be described as 'mathematically literate conservative.' But if he survives the primary, he’ll have a whole new set of problems to worry about." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/jvoykat

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Update: The woman-bashing beat goes on

Empire Burlesque
by Chris Floyd

"Following up from the previous post, we see the woman-bashing beat goes on. A Missouri pol has introduced a bill that would require women to get the written approval of a man in order to obtain an abortion; that is, the signature of the one what knocked her up. Rick Brattin, statesman from Kansas City, says the only exception to his man-mandating abortion restriction is in the case of 'legitimate rape.' But as Mother Jones reports, Brattin is quick to assure us that he doesn't mean 'legitimate rape' in the same way that his fellow Missouri statesman Todd Akin employed the term, during his disastrous run for the Senate." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lzlxhl4

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Barack Obama, set free

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"... with today's announcement that we'll be undertaking a normalization of relations with Cuba (a mere 54 years after the embargo began) combined with other recent moves on immigration and climate change, Obama is looking pretty engaged. The approaching end of his term and the loss of both houses of Congress seem to have liberated him. While the Cuba deal was apparently in the works for many months, it wasn't something in the headlines like immigration. Who knows how many other surprises Obama may have in store." (12/17/14)

http://prospect.org/article/barack-obama-set-free

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Film review: Brother, can you spare a euro?

In These Times In These Times
by Michael Atkinson

"Even if you don’t think you’ve seen a film by Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, you have, sort of. The astringent and breathless style they pioneered in their 1996 breakout film, La Promesse -- realist, handheld, raw, off-kilter, always in motion, ready to explode—has been coopted by indies from Bucharest to the Catskills. Even American TV shows (from The Wire on down) echo their work. The best of the copycats range from Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, from 2007, to Asghar Farhadi’s 2011 heartstopper, A Separation. It’s a style fitted perfectly to the Dardennes’ stories, which are always that of brutally simple dilemmas brought about by socioeconomic crisis." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k3tnx3o

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How naive is Elizabeth Warren?

Nick Gillespie The Daily Beast
by Nick Gillespie

"Unfortunately, Warren's populist outrage and calls to break up Citigroup and other mega-banks are ultimately misguided, naive, and contradictory. Like too many progressives, she’s against cronyism except when she's for it -- and she's supremely confident that if only she and her rag-tag band of reformers were calling the shots, government regulators would never, ever bend to the will of special interests. Good luck with that." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nbbmsrc

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How can Rubio & Congress muck up the Cuba shift?

The Nation The Nation
by George Zornick

"President Barack Obama announced a new era in US relations with Cuba Wednesday morning in which diplomatic ties will be reopened, along with a US embassy in Havana, while business and travel restrictions are eased. These changes can be accomplished by executive order -- but the next president could reverse them, and only Congress can lift the embargo. The permanence and depth of Obama’s policy shift thus remains in doubt." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nqwq4xn

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Whitewashing CIA torture

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Ramzy Baroud

"The logic that torture is a 'stain' on US history is the heart of the problem, since it blocks an honest reading of whatever 'values' Washington actually stands for." (12/18/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/18/whitewashing-cia-torture/

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The obscenity of respectable politics

Lucy Steigerwald Antiwar.com
by Lucy Steigerwald

"We often hear people sensibly suggest that we must respect the office -- especially the presidency -- if not the particular person currently occupying it. But as much as a president can be better or worse, their abilities make their personality almost irrelevant. A George W. Bush may do worse things than a Jimmy Carter. However, a civil liberties champion like Barack Obama can turn into a president with a kill list. And a small government-touting, Freeman-reading Ronald Reagan can be commander in chief of the militarized war on drugs. You can’t be corrupted without your consent, but the power in that office sure as hell helps ease the transition away from principles." (12/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mqmvx7q

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Stupid voters

The Cagle Post
by Milt Priggee

Cartoon. (12/16/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/12/stupid-voters/

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Is Barack Obama’s revival on the way?

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Is Barack Obama about to have a revival? Peter Beinart argued the other day that he is, for three reasons: his actions on immigration have improved his standing among Hispanics, the economy is picking up steam, and there's a natural swing of the pendulum in press coverage as reporters tire of writing the current story after a while and look for change and new developments. An Obama comeback would fit the bill. I think Beinart is probably right, and the economy is the main reason; it swamps every other consideration in evaluating the president." [editor's note: Ironically, the alleged "recovery" (mainly confined to the very richest?) is mainly due to the lack of meddling, since the "reforms" were about social concerns, continuing wars -- and corporatist goals - SAT] (12/17/14)

http://prospect.org/article/barack-obamas-revival-way

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Against the state, for indigenous lands

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Valdenor Junior

"Imagine that the title on your house would be recognized only if Congress approved it. Would you feel safer or less secure? This reality is already faced by millions of Brazilians who live in the favelas and have their possessions subjected to this political game. A game that should be extended to the indigenous peoples of Brazil, according to several congresspeople." (12/17/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/34198

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The real Russia: Strong or weak, bully or buffoon?

Reuters Reuters
by Michael Kofman

"The West has been unable to develop a coherent strategic policy toward Russia. There is little agreement on what Russia is and how to deal with it, too much speculation about what President Vladimir Putin will or will not do. The United States, the European Union and their allies all see different faces of Russia to confront, dismiss or engage. Years of cyclical relations, engagement and disappointment, confrontation and compromise, have spawned many 'Russias' for the West. Each image lends itself to a different set of policy prescriptions." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/jvrzrsg

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Hope is in the cities and states

Our Future
by Bernie Horn

"Over the next two years, Washington will be a horror show. The president and a minority of senators will try to minimize the destruction that extreme conservatives will attempt to inflict on our personal freedoms, basic economic security, and the American Dream. As for good (or even rational) proactive legislation, forget it! But that doesn’t mean we can’t win progressive victories in 2015. We can still dramatically change policy by focusing on states and localities -- specifically 18 states that are controlled by Democrats or have split partisan control, about three dozen big cities with blue majorities, and thousands of smaller progressive-controlled cities, towns and counties." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kxhnlnu

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The handmaid’s time is here: America’s apotheosis of woman-hatred

Empire Burlesque
by Chris Floyd

"A woman who has taken drugs is automatically a 'fallen woman' in the eyes of shallow moralists who hold such sway in our society. She is more likely to be poor (though by no means in every case). She is more likely to be unmarried (though by no means in every case). She is more likely to have expressed her sexuality in some way that makes the angry, wounded, fearful, sexually insecure white men who dominate our legislatures feel uncomfortable. These pathetic wretches, who fear and hate any woman they can't control, would be pitiable in their brokenness -- if they didn't have the power of the state at their command, to use as a weapon to hurt those who threaten the weak, frayed stitching of their fragile psyches." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qfkzjfl

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New poll finds 59% of Americans support post-9/11 torture — propaganda, cultural sickness, or both?

Liberty Blitzkrieg Liberty Blitzkrieg
by Michael Krieger

"After reading about a new poll that shows 59% of Americans support post 9/11 torture, I’ve spent the entire morning thinking about what it means. Does this confirm the total degeneration of American culture into a collective of chicken-hawk, unthinking, statist war-mongering automatons? Alternatively, does it merely reflect the effectiveness of corporate-government propaganda? Is it a combination of both? How does the poll spilt by age group? These are all important questions to which I do not have definitive answers, but I have some thoughts I’d like to share." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mus5fbn

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New Year’s resolution: Read a classic book

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

"Some time around Jan. 1 comrade Caille Millner and former comrade Jay Johnson and I gathered for a drink. Maybe two and discussed potential New Year’s resolutions. I am not a New Year’s resolution person, but I am a sucker for a challenge. So mine ended up being that I would read 'Moby Dick.' We all have gaping holes in our literary repertoire, and 'Moby Dick' has been a whale of a gap for me I’ve felt I should read for decades. Now I am. As of this writing, I am on page 508 of my Nook version. I shall finish by year’s end, but it’s been a slow read for me. I find my attention span is shot thanks to the onslaught of social media. It has been a challenge to turn off the noise and focus on the sea." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lfrfady

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Billion dollar surveillance blimp to launch over Maryland

The Intercept
by Dan Froomkin

"In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles. And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy missiles, their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is raising serious privacy concerns. The project is called JLENS -- or 'Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.' And you couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o3rel49

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Douglas Lucas on The Scott Horton Show

The Scott Horton Show
by

"Douglas Lucas, a writer, researcher, and journalist based in Texas, discusses 'hactivist' writer Barrett Brown’s sentencing hearing in a Dallas federal court, where he faces up to 8.5 years in prison on a plea deal. He was arrested in September 2012 after posting YouTube videos threatening an FBI agent, and a litany of charges was then added by prosecutors who accused Brown of colluding with the Anonymous hacker collective in criminal acts, rather than just covering their findings as a journalist." [Flash audio or MP3] (12/16/14)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/12/16/121614-douglas-lucas/

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Time to reframe the UK immigration debate

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Daniel Pryor

"The economic arguments for increasing immigration are well-worn, and there is evidence that spreading such empirical evidence changes the attitudes of some people. The British public may largely cite economic reasons for their opposition to immigration, but it is my suspicion that this is often backwards rationalising of cultural reasons." (12/16/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/34181

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Land of the free, home of the enhanced interrogators

In These Times In These Times
by Chris Lehmann

"The Senate report confirmed in nauseating detail what most Americans already knew but have chosen not to process in any meaningful, public way: A secret arm of government brutalized interrogation subjects. As the U.S. Senate’s report on the appalling litany of tortures committed by the CIA nosed its way through the news cycle, the public debate took on a queasily familiar fatalism. Shocked readers of the report might deplore torture, but they can see that our governing institutions aren’t about to do anything serious to stop it." (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l6kaxpk

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Is every orc an author?

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Corynne McSherry

"A panel of eleven Ninth Circuit federal judges heard oral arguments yesterday in Garcia v. Google, a copyright case arising from the notorious 'Innocence of Muslims' video that was associated with violent protests around the world. The appellant, Cindy Lee Garcia, argues that she holds a copyright in her five-second performance in the video (a performance she says was tricked into giving), and is trying to use that claim to get the video pulled off the internet. To the shock of many, last February two Ninth Circuit judges agreed she might have a claim and ordered Google to remove the video from YouTube and prevent future uploads. Yesterday’s hearing revisited the facts and law that led to that decision." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mydpouj

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“No nukes politician” — is there such a thing?

Come Home America Come Home America
by Joe Scarry

"So . . . it's #NoNukesTuesday and I'm trolling through all the posts about the big conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that's about to start over in Vienna. The news of the hour is that at the last minute the UK government has decided to send a representative. Apparently the nuclear 'haves' want to do anything possible to stay away from this conference -- they don't want to go anywhere near anything that might suggest that they do, indeed, need to disarm." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q3lq2z6

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India’s love affair with privatization

The Nation The Nation
by Priyamvada Gopal

"Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated a new hospital and medical research center in Mumbai, one of numerous state-of-the-art private facilities providing world-class medical care to Indians who can afford it. ... This cocktail of religious nationalism, buccaneering capitalism, a profoundly compromised corporate media and the soft power of philanthropy is the topic of the first half of Arundhati’s Roy collection of essays, Capitalism: a Ghost Story, a highly readable and characteristically trenchant mapping of early-twenty-first-century India’s impassioned love affair with money, technology, weaponry and the 'privatization of everything,' and (because these must not be impeded, no matter what) generous doses of state violence." [editor's note: Yet another "progressive" who mistakes state capitalism for the free market - SAT] (12/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l9xefgr

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What the defenders of police violence defend

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by David Roediger

"Thinking more seriously about the police murders of Brown and Garner together yields critical insights. In the days after the Brown grand jury decision protests raced from city to city. The media usually saw them as being about solidarity with Ferguson. And so they gloriously were. However, they also spread because in each city where they occurred police violence had left its own bloody trail. That the closure of Lake Shore Drive by Ferguson protesters in Chicago can be reported on without reference to the reign of falsification and police torture conducted by the recently convicted Jon Burge and others indexes the poverty of U.S. journalism." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/po9mtk5

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Questioning the powerful

David Henderson Antiwar.com
by David R Henderson

"'I thought that when we showed up for class, someone else would be teaching it,' said one of my students at the start of my class on Monday, April 7, 2014. 'Really?' I asked. 'Why?' 'Because of that question you asked the Admiral on Friday,' he answered. I looked around and saw the looks on the faces of a number of other students. They weren't necessarily surprised that I was still in my job, but some of them did say that if they had asked the question I had asked, their careers in the military could well be over. That's too bad because all I did was ask a question, a question that gave the Admiral an easy way out. But I'm getting ahead of myself." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mgdwtxm

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Hack the National Security Agency, not Sony

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

"The intelligence was obtained illegally. The hackers presented a threat to workers and their families. Foreign operatives likely were behind the document theft. Any news organizations that report this ill-gotten information are, if not un-American, surely 'morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable.' Are those the words of intelligence talking heads railing against National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden? No, they are the thoughts of screenwriter and 'Newsroom' creator Aaron Sorkin, who argued in the New York Times on Monday that news organizations should not print stories about purloined internal Sony corporate documents." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/om5rytq

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The bipartisan Cromnibus saga: A final assessment

Our Future
by Robert Borosage

"The government didn’t shut down. Congress passed the massive (1,603-page) spending bill, chock full of special interest giveaways, to keep the doors open. The Washington Post editorial page, the voice of the conservative establishment, acknowledges all the horrors -- but celebrates the results. ... The Post scorns the 'show horses' on the right (Ted Cruz) and left (Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi) for not knowing the difference between 'posturing and policy-making,' while hailing the 'work horses' (Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Steny Hoyer, both Maryland Democrats)." [editor's note: Anyone else recall when the last thing you'd have called the Post was "the voice of the conservative establishment"? - SAT] (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lng2ega

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Anarchy and the wrench

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Grant Mincy

"Enclosure movements devastate communities. Who we are, whether we realize it or not, is greatly influenced by our ties to the surrounding ecology. Land is emotion -- a product of deep and lasting roots. But, this is of no concern to the state. Any sacred tract inside the political borders or territories of the nation-state may be taken at will -- a power as unjust as it is unnatural. However, a number of libertarian wrenches may be thrown into the gears of such power-driven land acquisitions. Two are pertinent to this situation. A third offers liberation." (12/15/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/34134

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Top five political predictions for 2015

Reuters Reuters
by Bill Schneider

"1. The Obama boom will finally arrive. Only it will be more like a boomlet. Americans have been waiting for the boom since they elected President Barack Obama in the teeth of the 2008 financial meltdown. ... It’s finally starting. 2. Populism will thrive, left and right, in the United States and in Europe. We saw it in Thursday night’s House budget vote that averted a government shutdown. Most Democrats defied Obama and voted 'no.' Their complaint? Populism.... Nearly a third of House Republicans also defied their party leaders and voted 'no.' Their complaint? Populism." (12/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ng5elym

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A bargain GOP & Dems could make on Obamacare

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Since Congress just passed a budget and we are therefore at the dawn of a new era of bipartisan comity and compromise, I'd like to propose a trade, one that will allow both Democrats and Republicans to gain something significant without giving much up. The topic is the Affordable Care Act, and the trade is this: What if Republicans agree to pass a technical fix to address what it essentially a typo in the ACA, one that threatens to take insurance from millions of middle-class Americans, and in exchange, Democrats agree to repeal the ACA's employer mandate? Everybody would win." (12/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ndqwkqq

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The oil coup

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Mike Whitney

"U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and to move ahead with their plan to 'pivot to Asia.' Here's what's happening: Washington has persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia's economy, and reduce Moscow's resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across Central Asia." [editor's note: That actually makes at least as much sense than the narrative I've been hearing -- that the Saudis are trying to keep oil prices low to bankrupt US/Canadian shale drillers - TLK] (12/16/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/16/the-oil-coup/

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It’s okay to hate Republicans

Susan J Douglas In These Times
by Susan J. Douglas

"I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal 'personhood.' This loathing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back
 in the 1970s, I worked for a Republican, Fred Lippitt, the senate minority leader in Rhode Island, and I loved him. He was a brand of Republican now extinct: a 'moderate' who was fiscally conservative but progressive about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation. Had he been closer to my age, I could have contemplated marrying someone like Fred. Today, marrying a Republican is unimaginable to me." [editor's note: From the description, Lippitt sounds a lot like a libertarian-leaning GOPer - SAT] (12/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p4yxeec

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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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