Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

Greece: Vassiliki Thanou becomes first female prime minister

Easton Star Democrat

"Greece's first female prime minister, a top judge, was sworn in Thursday to head a caretaker government ahead of early elections next month in the bailout-dependent country. Supreme Court head Vassiliki Thanou, 65, was appointed after radical left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned, seeking a stronger mandate to implement tough austerity measures demanded by Greece's creditors in return for a third bailout worth 86 billion euro ($97 billion). Her main task will be to hold the reins until a new government emerges from the vote expected on Sept. 20." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pmtpwpj

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KY: Rowan County clerk continues collecting paycheck, continues refusing to do job

Lexington Herald Leader

"Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continued to withhold marriage licenses from local residents on Thursday, a day after a federal appeals court upheld an order telling her to end her protest. James Yates and William Smith Jr. were turned away by a deputy clerk in Davis' office Thursday morning when they asked for a marriage license. The deputy told the men Davis believes she can legally withhold marriage licenses until Aug. 31, next Monday, under an order issued earlier this month by U.S. District Judge David Bunning. ... On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied Davis' request to stay a preliminary injunction from Bunning ordering her to resume issuing marriage licenses, despite her religious opposition to same-sex marriage. But there is some confusion as to whether Davis was in contempt Thursday, because Bunning did agree to temporarily delay his injunction until Aug. 31, to give her time to appeal." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pndwd7x

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NLRB ruling puts more companies on hook for franchise workers

Fox News Fox News

"A federal labor ruling released Thursday could put thousands of companies on the hook for workplace disputes and union-organizing matters involving temporary and franchise workers. The National Labor Relations Board, in a 3-2 ruling splitting the board on party lines, revised its 'joint employer' standard for determining when one company shares responsibility for employees hired by another. The change will make it easier for unions to negotiate over wages and benefits for pools of contingent workers. The change, fiercely opposed by many businesses, comes at a time when more companies are turning to temporary contract workers as part of their business model. The ruling could also affect arrangements at franchise companies such as McDonald's Corp. that are in many instances a step removed from workplace matters at their franchises." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nptkh4r

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China official blames Fed for global market rout

Reuters Reuters

"Concerns over a possible U.S. rate rise by the Federal Reserve may have sparked a global stock market rout rather than the devaluation of China's yuan currency, a senior Chinese central bank official told Reuters on Thursday. Yao Yudong, head of the bank's Research Institute of Finance and Banking, said the U.S. central bank should delay any rate hike to give fragile emerging market economies time to prepare. He said Beijing's decision to let the yuan fall in value against the dollar should not make it a scapegoat for the sell-off. 'China's exchange rate reform had nothing to do with the global stock market volatility, it was mainly due to the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy move,' Yao said. 'We were wronged.'" (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q79cldp

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CA: Water use “down by 31.3% in July”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Cities in California cut water use by 31.3% in July, exceeding a state-wide mandate of 25% to combat a record four-year drought there, officials say. It shows Californians are starting to understand 'that we are in the drought of our lives,' state water regulator official Felicia Marcus said. It is the second month in a row the state has exceeded emergency conservation regulation. California has been dealing with record low water levels for four years." (08/27/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34077757

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NJ: Teacher, late for work 111 times, keeps $90K job

Fox News Fox News

"A New Jersey elementary school teacher has been allowed to keep his job even though he was late for work 111 times over a two-year period. In a decision filed Aug. 19, an arbitrator criticized a claim by 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson that the quality of his teaching outweighed his tardiness. The arbitrator says Anderson was late 46 times in the most recent school year through March 20 and 65 times the previous school year. However, the arbitrator found that the Roosevelt school district failed to give him adequate notice to correct his behavior and that Anderson is entitled to progressive discipline before being fired. Anderson earns $90,000 a year. The district has withheld raises for Anderson's tardiness, and Anderson will remain suspended without pay until January." [editor's note: So there are perks for teaching in Jersey, you don't even have to show up to get a paycheck! - SAT] (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q4ocnrt

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NASA: Sea level rise could be worse than we thought

CBS News CBS News

"The consequences of global sea level rise could be even scarier than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the dominant climate models, which don't fully account for the fast breakup of ice sheets and glaciers, NASA scientists said Wednesday at a press briefing." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pow4da5

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VA: Gun in television murders was purchased legally

USA Today USA Today

"The gunman who murdered two Virginia journalists and wounded another person on live television legally purchased two handguns last month, including the one used in the attack, and was able to pass a required background check despite his apparent emotional problems, a federal law enforcement official said Thursday." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p6faggp

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CO: Republicans say no to early presidential preference vote

Bradenton Herald

"Looks like Colorado Republicans won't have much say in early voting for the party's 2016 presidential nominee. The state party's executive committee has decided not to hold a presidential preference poll during its March caucus. ... state officials were responding to a new Republican party rule making the presidential caucus poll binding. In the past, the poll could be used to illustrate who had support and was non-binding." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pa2mqo4

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NASA: Global sea levels climbed 3 inches since 1992

Reuters Reuters

"Sea levels worldwide rose an average of nearly 3 inches (8 cm) since 1992, the result of warming waters and melting ice, a panel of NASA scientists said on Wednesday. In 2013, a United Nations panel predicted sea levels would rise from 1 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 meters) by the end of the century. The new research shows that sea level rise most likely will be at the high end of that range, said University of Colorado geophysicist Steve Nerem. Sea levels are rising faster than they did 50 years ago and 'it’s very likely to get worse in the future,' Nerem said. The changes are not uniform. Some areas showed sea levels rising more than 9 inches (25 cm) and other regions, such as along the U.S. West Coast, actually falling, according to an analysis of 23 years of satellite data." [editor's note: Three inches in 23 years ... sure looks like impending disaster to me! - SAT] (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ptqapr3

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CA: Feds give pot dispensaries a tax break on merchandise

San Francisco Chronicle Smell the Truth

"If you want to support the cause of medical marijuana in the face of crushing and unjust taxation by the federal government, you have one easy option: 'Buy more t-shirts,' said the nation’s leading dispensary tax attorney, San Francisco’s Henry Wykowski. 'I’m not being facetious.' This July, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the medical marijuana a billion-dollar piece of legal clarity. Dispensaries still face crushing tax burdens for selling cannabis, but everything else they sell in the store (t-shirts, hats, bubblers, vaporizers, ash trays) is officially tax-deductible as a business expense. 'Basically every dispensary that is selling schwag ... if it’s for sale, the expenses associated are deductible.'" (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nzjeg4j

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3D-printed microfish may soon inject themselves into your body

TechCrunch

"Not unlike those fortune-telling fish you used to get at joke shops a new form of 3D-printed microfish -- fish, not fiche -- can wiggle and jiggle and wriggle inside you, dropping off medicine and cleaning up toxins as they go. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created nano-sized fish out of materials that can react to their environment, allowing them to 'swim' in various liquids. They also contain nanoparticles that can be used to inject chemicals into cells and organs. These are better than the traditional nano-scale robots in that they are actually shaped like swimming things." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/phncvhk

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France: Police dismantle sprawling Roma camp on Paris outskirts

Yahoo! News

"Police are clearing out one of what activists call one of France's biggest and oldest Roma camps, a sprawling network of makeshift shelters next to a Paris region highway. ... The move comes after weeks of debate about the camp's future. Thousands of Roma, also known as Gypsies, are estimated to live in France, and face routine discrimination and evacuations." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q6l9yjv

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Austria: Up to 50 migrants found dead in abandoned truck

Fox News Fox News

"Police on Thursday discovered the partially decomposed bodies of at least 50 migrants piled up in a truck parked on the shoulder of an Austrian highway leading from the Hungarian border, Austrian officials say. ... the truck was apparently abandoned Wednesday and its back door was left open, exposing the bodies to police. Reports on the amount of bodies found inside the truck have ranged from 20 to about 50. It is unclear how long the bodies have been inside the truck." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o4q9963

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Dow soars more than 600 points, ending a six-day losing streak

The Washington Post Washington Post

"The Dow Jones industrial average soared more than 600 points Wednesday, snapping a six-day losing streak and notching its third-largest daily point gain. ... Despite growing worries about the slowdown in China, investors were calmed -- at least temporarily -- by positive economic reports in the United States, news that China increased market stimulus and predictions that the market turmoil may prompt the Federal Reserve to extend its easy-money policy." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pmhvbv8

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TN: Judge upholds state’s method for premeditated killings of prisoners

Fox News Fox News

"A Tennessee judge has upheld the state's lethal injection process for executing inmates. Davidson County Chancery Judge Claudia Bonnyman said Wednesday from the bench that the plaintiffs, 33 death row inmates, didn't prove that the one-drug method led to a painful and lingering death. She also said the plaintiffs didn't show during a lengthy trial that there have been problems in states where the method has been used." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p4xl9wm

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CO: Judge sentences Holmes to 12 life terms plus 3,318 years

KXLF 4 News

"A Colorado judge formally sentenced James Eagan Holmes to multiple life terms plus thousands of years in prison for the Aurora movie theater massacre that killed 12 and wounded 70. Holmes, a 27-year-old former grad student, received one life term for each person he killed, plus 3,318 years for the attempted murders of those he wounded and for rigging his apartment with explosives. He is not eligible for parole." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ozdwvtu

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KY: Court orders defiant clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Raw Story Raw Story

"A court on Wednesday ordered a Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses citing her religious beliefs to begin issuing the licenses. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was sued in a class action after the Supreme Court issued its landmark Obergefell ruling after she was caught on video refusing to issue a license to David V. Moore and David Ermold in July. She claimed the ruling violates her Christian beliefs. As reported by the National Law Journal’s Mike Sacks on Wednesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that in her role as county clerk, she or anyone in office must comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling." [editor's note: As our esteemed editor/publisher said it before, this woman has two choices: Comply with the law or find a real job (though probably not making wedding cakes) - SAT] (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ps6oxp5

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NY: Dedicated state police unit to tackle campus sex assault

Reuters Reuters

"New York state is launching a specialized police unit to help crack down on sexual assault on college campuses, but some victims' advocates are wary, saying law enforcement has not been effective in tackling the issue in the past. A law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last month allocates $4.5 million for what officials have said is a first-in-the-nation police unit that will train college officials and local police units to respond better to sexual assaults on campus. The law, which has been touted as the most progressive in the country, also requires all colleges in the state to implement a uniform definition of affirmative consent, distribute a students' bill of rights and adopt a policy that grants victims immunity for drug and alcohol violations." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oxzjh8r

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Report: Laser detects brain tumor cells during surgery

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Surgeons in London have used lasers to diagnose abnormal tissue during an operation to remove a brain tumor for the first time in Europe. The non-invasive technique measures light reflected off tissue to determine whether it is cancerous or healthy. The patient, Reuben Hill, 22, is making a good recovery after the operation at Charing Cross Hospital. It is hoped the technique could make this kind of delicate surgery faster and more accurate. It has only been tried in Montreal, Canada, before now." (08/26/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34041863

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Mormons keep affiliation with Boy Scouts despite gay leaders

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"The Mormon church announced Wednesday it will maintain its longtime affiliation with the Boy Scouts despite the organization's decision to allow gay troop leaders, preventing what would have been a thundering blow to the national association. The decision from senior leaders of the Mormon church (the nation's largest sponsor of Boy Scout units) came as somewhat of a surprise. The church said it was deeply troubled and considering other options when the Boy Scouts announced on July 28 that it would lift its ban on gay adult leaders, while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to continue excluding gay adults." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qxvky5u

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Pentagon watchdog probing “skewed” anti-ISIS campaign analysis

Fox News Fox News

"The Defense Department's inspector general is investigating whether intelligence reports about the progress of the U.S.-led coalition's campaign against ISIS in Iraq have been 'skewed' to be more optimistic. The New York Times first reported that at least one civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told authorities that officials at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) were improperly reworking intelligence assessments prepared for policymakers, including President Obama. A senior military official confirmed to Fox News that an IG investigation has been initiated into the allegation." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oednl2g

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Walmart to quit selling AR-15, other modern sporting rifles

USA Today USA Today

"Walmart said [today] it is in the process of pulling modern sporting rifles such as the AR-15 from stores this week, instead focusing more on selling other sports and hunting firearms. The decision is related purely to lack of customer demand, says Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg, not the spate of shootings that have occurred in the past year, including one Wednesday in which two TV journalists were killed during a live interview near Roanoke, Va. Lundberg says the decision was made earlier this year. 'It’s based on what customers are looking for and what they were buying when they come into Walmart,' he says, adding that modern sporting rifles, or MSRs, were sold in less than a third of Walmart's stores. 'It’s very similar to what we do with other products. If there’s not customer demand there, we’ll phase it out.'" (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qbourn4

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South Sudan: UN to “act immediately” unless peace deal signed

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"The UN has said it is ready to 'act immediately' unless South Sudan's President Salva Kiir signs a peace deal with rebels. Mr Kiir is scheduled to sign a deal to end months of brutal civil war later on Wednesday, although his spokesman said he still had 'reservations.' Rebel leader Riek Machar signed it last week but Mr Kiir refused. Fighting between forces loyal to the two men has displaced over 2.2 million people." (08/25/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34059495

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Brazil judge: President’s ex-chief of staff “may have been bribed”

Reuters Reuters

"A federal judge in Brazil overseeing a sweeping corruption investigation said on Tuesday there were signs that President Dilma Rousseff's former chief of staff had received bribes. Judge Sergio Moro asked the Supreme Court to authorize an investigation into whether a graft case involving Brazil's planning ministry may have benefited Gleisi Hoffmann, now a senator and still personally close to the president. Hoffmann has not been formally charged with any wrongdoing. Moro's investigation, which has mostly focused on a political kickback scheme at state-run oil firm Petrobras over the past 17 months, has already pushed Rousseff's approval rating to single digits and, along with a slow economy, brought calls for her impeachment." (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pj5qv6y

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Commentary


| News | Events |

The GOP vs. libertarianism: How the party jettisoned Ayn Rand for corporate fascism

Salon
by Conor Lynch

"Not too long ago, it seemed like the Grand Old Party was set to become an increasingly welcome place for libertarianism. After years of enthusiastic Ron Paul presidential campaigns, his son Rand, a bit less hardline than his father, was for many people the most exciting candidate of 2016. For hopeful libertarians, the GOP was a pathway to the mainstream, and the success of the Kentucky Senator would determine how ready the party was to embrace the fringe ideology. If I were a libertarian today, I would be seriously questioning that earlier optimism. Rand Paul's sinking poll numbers have been well documented, and currently, he barely registers in the top ten. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who is way ahead of everyone, is quite possibly the least libertarian of all the GOP candidates (except maybe Chris Christie, who called the bill of rights 'hot air')." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/odcnr2c

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Dem plans: Making college more expensive

USA Today USA Today
by staff

"The United States prides itself on being innovative and creative. Yet it is struggling to train its next generation of achievers. Despite rapidly rising sums that the federal government has devoted to loans and grants, American college students and recent graduates are wallowing in debt. At last count, they owed $1.2 trillion. Not surprisingly, the leading Democratic presidential candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley -- have come up with plans they say will make colleges more affordable and provide debt relief for millennials. Though well-intentioned, their plans threaten to drive up costs rather than rein them in." [editor's note: I generally only use the op-eds from this site; this one they pretty much have nailed - SAT] (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pau32hq

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Any reasons for hope in the Middle East? Maybe

Reuters Reuters
by Henri J Barkey & David F Gordon

"The winds of change are unexpectedly blowing through the Levant. In the aftermath of the Iran nuclear agreement, there was a broad expectation, both in the region and beyond, that sectarian tensions and conflict would intensify and deepen the proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the United States, even some strong supporters of the nuclear deal emphasized that Washington needed to respond aggressively to the inevitable push by Tehran to expand its regional influence at the expense of traditional U.S. allies. What we are seeing on the ground, however, looks quite different. There is an increasing possibility for new geopolitical alignments throughout the region." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o2v5lff

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Joe Biden can’t just sell himself as the anti-Hillary

The New Republic The New Republic
by Suzy Khimm

"Why should Joe Biden run for president? For the Democratic Party, the political case for Biden seems fairly straightforward: He would be the liberal establishment candidate without Hillary Clinton's baggage, with a more telegenic smile and a more authentically folksy sensibility. But that’s not enough to make a winning candidate. Just look at what’s happened to Martin O’Malley, who’s tried exceedingly hard to run as a Generic Democrat, only to fall flat in poll after poll." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o2wvx7h

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Do black lives matter to the Federal Reserve?

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Sam Ross-Brown

"This week, Dawn O’Neil has traveled from her home in south DeKalb County, Georgia, to the Federal Reserve’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with a simple message for Fed leaders: Don’t raise interest rates. The 48-year-old teacher’s assistant and mother of four wants Fed governors to know that her community is far from recovered and that raising interest rates too soon could be disastrous." [editor's note: The delusions in this piece are pretty obvious; a better question might be, "Do ANY human lives matter to the Fed?" - SAT] (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pnk7xgm

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Is Trump rising, or rest of GOP field sinking?

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor
by Peter Grier

"Is Donald Trump rising? Or is he just standing there while the rest of the GOP field sinks? That’s a question that some GOP Washington veterans are beginning to ask as they watch The Donald seize control of the Republican race. They’re wondering if the Trump phenomenon is the result of faults in other candidates as much as any innate appeal of Mr. Trump himself. They’re crossing their fingers and hoping that Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, or some other candidate acceptable to the old guard will sputter into life. But they’re no longer sure that will happen. Maybe that’s their real fear: not that Trump will win, but that they’re increasingly losing control over the Republican Party’s direction." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/neek5gl

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Since when are Democrats afraid of debates?

John Nichols The Nation
by John Nichols

"The Democratic National Committee needs to adapt to the new politics of 2016. Instead of constraining debate, as it has so far, the DNC should change course and encourage an open and freewheeling discourse. This is not just the right choice; it’s the politically practical thing to do. Like it or not, the 2016 campaign is in full swing, and Americans are engaging with it. A record-breaking 24 million viewers tuned in to watch the August 6 GOP debate—more Americans than voted in all of the Republican primaries and caucuses of 2012 combined. It’s easy to dismiss these debates as 'clown car' spectacles, considering the atrocious statements coming from Donald Trump and his apprentices. Yet since that first debate, Trump and other Republicans have seen their numbers spike in polls pairing them against anticipated Democratic opponents in 2016." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/of9b6zu

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When should cops be able to use deadly force?

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Jason Lee Steorts

"Whether a person is dangerous, and how dangerous he is, is rarely easy to determine. Combine that uncertainty with a low tolerance for risk on the part of both officers and the use-of-force laws that govern their actions, and the result is speculative police killings: cases in which people are made to forfeit their lives on the basis of little more than guesswork about what they might do. Such deaths are intolerable. Debates over police conduct often pit the right against the left, but the conviction that no one should die on the basis of a hunch should be trans-partisan." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pzmutwl

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Foreign policy, Sanders-style: Backing Saudi intervention

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Sam Husseini

"There's an old joke about two elderly men at a Catskill resort. One complains: 'The food here is horrible.' The other vigorously agrees: 'Yeah, I know -- and the portions are so damn small!' Several writers have noted that Bernie Sanders has been scant in terms of his foreign policy -- small portions. But a thornier problem is that the little that he has articulated in terms of foreign policy -- the foreign policy issue that he's been most passionate about really -- is extremely regressive and incredibly dangerous. That issue is the role of Saudi Arabia. Sanders has actually pushed for the repressive regime to engage in more intervention in the Mideast." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oc2pkn7

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The inevitability of a war president

Lucy Steigerwald Antiwar.com
by Lucy Steigerwald

"In the face of a potential choice between a Bush and a Clinton, no wonder the lunatic, xenophobic populist train of Donald Trump's candidacy has pulled out of the station and is chugging along so fiercely. In an alternate universe, Trump is a ballsy businessman who never supported the war in Iraq, and wants to have a powerful military that is never used. In reality, he's a principle-less, self-aggrandizing cipher who clearly says whatever comes to mind. No matter his occasional flashes of what appears to be sense, is there anyone who believes President Trump would be restrained, and would stress diplomacy over war? The man thinks absurd, walrus-faced hawk John Bolton, the former UN ambassador, is a good foreign policy adviser." (08/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p9bsdwr

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Aging our children

USA Today USA Today
by James Alan Fox & Jack Levin

"Last Friday, a Wisconsin judge entered not guilty pleas on behalf of two 13-year-old girls accused of repeatedly stabbing a classmate just to please the fictional horror character Slender Man. Rejecting defense counsel’s arguments for transferring jurisdiction to juvenile court, Judge Michael Bohren insisted that the girls be tried in criminal court. The apparent motive for the attack is absolutely absurd, but then so is the notion that 13-year-olds have the same level of maturity and reasoning ability as adults." [editor's note: I was hoping from the title this was a slam on "helicopter parents" but this is also an important issue from the other end - SAT] (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ousky73

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Politi-speak: Who needs clarity?

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders

"I get paid to listen to people (mostly politicians) talk at length while saying as little as possible. They often hide behind mind-numbing words to obscure what they really mean. When I hear a politician promise 'transparency,' he or she most likely means it as much as Barack Obama meant that his vaunted 'most transparent administration in history' would be forthcoming and accountable. When candidates talk up 'comprehensive immigration reform,' they don't want to reform immigration law; they want to gut immigration law. When pols talk about leadership, they're usually telling voters exactly what they want to hear." (08/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ppd3k3o

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What does Joe Biden know?

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Yoni Appelbaum

"As Joe Biden edges closer to a presidential run, there's no shortage of theories as to what he's up to. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton has built a commanding lead in the national polls, giving Biden little apparent space to gain traction. Perhaps he's counting on the early-primary state of South Carolina to provide a critical boost. He might be banking on appearing as a stronger general-election candidate than any of his potential rivals in the primary race. Maybe after spending the past 42 years of his life running for elective office, he just can't stop. But there's one intriguing theory that has so far garnered little attention: What if Biden knows something about Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton that the rest of us don't?" (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nvenhmf

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Ignore the stock market this week

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jay L Zagorsky

"On Monday, the world’s stock markets continued to fall after suffering steep losses the previous week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, one of the most widely followed indexes, opened for trading by dropping more than 1,000 points in the first six minutes, or about 6.5 percent. This thousand-point drop was the largest intraday plunge in the index’s history. While the market pared some of those losses during the day, the Dow still settled almost 600 points below Friday’s close at the lowest level since October. It also put some markets in what is known as 'correction' territory, or 10 percent down from their most recent peaks. What does this mean for investors and the rest of us? In my view, there are three important ideas to keep in mind as we assess the impact of a plunging stock market on the economy and our wallets." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p4q5jke

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The stock market is not the economy

OpEdNews
by Dean Baker

"We are seeing the usual hysteria over the sharp drop in the markets in Asia, Europe, and perhaps the US. (Wall Street seems to be rallying as I write.) There are a few items worth noting as we enjoy the panic. First and most importantly, the stock market is not the economy. The stock market has fluctuations all the time that have nothing to do with the real economy. The most famous was the 1987 crash, which did not correspond to any real-world bad event that anyone could identify. Even over longer periods, there is no direct correlation between the stock market and GDP." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nw7j9ad

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Still missing New Orleans

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Adele M Stan

"The first time I saw New Orleans, I entered an empty city. The streets were marked with chalky streaks of salt and toxins left behind by the waters that had filled them; the stench of rotten things filled the air. It was September 19, 2005, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans when the levees were breached by the sea and the canals, whose contents rushed into the roads and the yards and the living rooms of the city’s poorest residents. By the time I arrived, the only vehicles on the streets were the camouflage-painted Jeeps of the National Guard. After abetting mayhem with shoot-to-kill orders against the city’s most desperate citizens, many on the New Orleans police force simply fled the city." (08/26/15)

http://prospect.org/article/still-missing-new-orleans

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Is pressure to finish TPP giving away more jobs?

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"The big multinational corporations behind the still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) want to push it through Congress before the presidential campaign season risks bringing public scrutiny to the deal. To meet this timeline, our trade negotiators are under great pressure to finish the deal right away. To get it done it looks like they might be giving away (even more) American jobs, factories, and possibly entire industries, in areas that don’t matter as much to them in exchange for securing their own dominant positions. Auto parts are one example of an area that doesn’t matter so much to these giant companies: another industry that can be given away. To get TPP finished as soon as possible U.S. negotiators appear to have tried to sell out TPP-country auto-parts manufacturers, giving away a big part of the industry to non-TPP countries like China." (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pq337wh

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Senators looking to add bad CFAA amendments to bad cybersecurity bill

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Cindy Cohn

"The news out of Washington is that when Congress comes back into session in September, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will try to add some bad Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) amendments onto the already awful cybersecurity bill. EFF has long been critical of the CFAA, especially after the horribly misguided prosecution of our friend Aaron Swartz." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ps3uum7

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Can Hillary Clinton win over the left?

The Nation The Nation
by Michelle Goldberg

"Earlier this year, Buzzfeed uncovered a 1979 television interview with Hillary Clinton (then Hillary Rodham), who had just become first lady of Arkansas. In the half-hour video, we see a young woman in oversize glasses, calm and smiling as the host grills her about whether she’s too liberal, too feminist, too career-oriented to fit into her new role. The host tells her that she probably cost her husband votes by keeping her last name. (She would later give in and change it.) 'You’re not a native,' he says. 'You’ve been educated in liberal Eastern universities. You’re less than 40. You don’t have any children ... You practice law.' (She assures him that she and Bill plan to have children and adds, 'I’m not 40, but that hopefully will be cured by age.')" (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p34urm2

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The psychiatrist’s Bible: Defining “marijuana use disorder”

CounterPunch
by Fred Gardner

"In a case called US v. Schweider, attorney Zenia Gilg, whose client had been growing marijuana for a California collective, filed a motion challenging the plant's Schedule 1 designation as a dangerous drug with no medical use. At an evidentiary hearing the government's position was stated by Bertha Madras, a professor of Psychobiology in the Psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School. Madras cited the fact that many adolescents are in treatment for a 'marijuana use disorder' as proof that there is such a disorder. ... The definition of 'marijuana use disorder' is set forth in a book called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) .... The double purpose of the DSM is to endow the field of Psychiatry with a facade of rigor while facilitating billing." (08/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q2exc6l

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Time to kill the death penalty

Our Future
by Bernie Horn

"In February 2015, the governor of Pennsylvania issued a moratorium on executions. In May, Nebraska became the 19th state, and the seventh state since 2007, to abolish the death penalty. And weeks ago, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional, saying 'this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose.' Nevertheless, states have executed 19 prisoners so far this year—15 of them killed by the states of Texas and Missouri alone. Texas, Missouri and Florida accounted for 28 of the 35 people executed in 2014. In contrast, 23 states and the federal government have not executed anyone for at least the past 10 years." (08/25/15)

http://ourfuture.org/20150825/time-to-kill-the-death-penalty

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What nuclear strategy? World powers play dangerous game by ear

Reuters Reuters
by Jason Fields

"Nuclear-tipped missiles and bombs have hovered over the world’s head for more than 70 years. As long as 60 years ago, two great nations had developed the capability to destroy the entire world. The only question, it sometimes seemed, was whether the United States or the Soviet Union would be the first to hit the button. Tensions ebbed and flowed, China and a short list of other nations joined the nuclear club, but the balance of terror remained. A strategy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) kept everyone 'safe.' But then the Berlin Wall fell . . ." (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qccpg8e

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Trump’s immigration plan? Big government, extra dose of impractical

USA Today USA Today
by Tim Kane

"Thanks to Donald Trump’s 6-page campaign immigration reform plan, two big things have changed. One is political. The other is economic. First, the pundits were proven wrong. The Trump plan is no puff piece. It’s substantive as any other candidate has produced. It educates any voter willing to click and read. It has some compelling ideas. Most are revolutionary, and some are good. Second, anyone who thinks Trump is defining the right-wing of conservatism doesn’t understand conservatism. The real estate mogul may be a Republican, but he’s not a right winger. In fact, Trump isn’t a conservative at all. His immigration plan is deeply nationalist, unabashedly populist, and based on total faith in big government." (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pq5qogn

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2016: The coming trainwreck

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner

"Six months ago, the 2016 election looked to be predictable and boring: Clinton II vs. Bush III. Advantage: Clinton. Well, forget about that. The Republican demolition derby has been getting most of the publicity lately, but one should worry more about the Democrats. Consider: Hillary Clinton is sinking like a stone. She's falling in the polls. Conversations with her longtime friends and admirers indicate grave worry. She is not generating the excitement that the first prospective woman president should; the email mess is not going away; even the money advantage is not what was anticipated. And a self-declared socialist could defeat her in Iowa and New Hampshire. Even as she tacks left to excite the base, there is no way she can out-Sanders Sanders." (08/24/15)

http://prospect.org/article/2016-coming-train-wreck

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The “teacher shortage” is no accident

In These Times In These Times
by Kevin Prosen

"Like much else in the national education debate, panics about teacher shortages seem to be a perennial event. In a widely discussed article for the New York Times earlier this month, Motoko Rich called attention to sharp drops in enrollment in teacher training programs in California and documented that many districts are relaxing licensure requirements as a result, pushing more and more people into the classroom without full certification or proper training. ... But the reality is that speaking of a 'shortage' at all is a kind of ideological dodge; the word calls to mind some accident of nature or the market, when what is actually happening is the logical (if not necessarily intended) result of education reform policies." (08/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ozmt8hr

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Chafee on “delusional” neocons & the Dems who compromise with them

John Nichols The Nation
by John Nichols

"Lincoln Chafee has no taste for neoconservative fantasies, or for the politicians of both major parties who entertain them. That may not make him the winner of the Democratic presidential contest that the former Rhode Island senator and governor has entered; Chafee’s poll numbers are low, and his campaign has a quirky, do-it-yourself feel that tends to earn him marginal media coverage at best. But it could make him a duly disruptive voice in the Democratic debates that are scheduled to begin in October. Chafee runs his presidential race with a distinctive personal history, as a former Republican senator and independent governor who only joined the ranks of the Democratic Party in 2013. But he also runs with a unique sense of history." (08/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pneesva

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Republicans who blame Obama over Iran should recall Bush’s role

Ivan Eland Independent Institute
by Ivan Eland

"The Republicans complain about Obama not doing enough to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, nor enough to blunt Iran's increasing regional influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, yet one of their own -- George W. Bush -- had a big hand in aggravating these problems in the first place." (08/24/15)

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=7490

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Why Donald Trump is so scary

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Gary Leupp

"In Mobile, Alabama Friday night Donald Trump gave his first substantial presentation (it's hard to call it a 'speech') at what his campaign described as a 'pep rally' in a football stadium before 30,000 adoring fans. I cannot find a transcript yet but have looked at the youtube video, pausing it occasionally while taking notes -- just to get a sense of its structure and the flow of content. I will summarize it below. As I watched and re-watched, I grew in the conviction that The Donald has gone from being mildly amusing (and occasionally refreshing, as when he exposes politicians for the bought-and-paid-for crowd they really are) to being positively dangerous. To the thinking person, the presentation was truly frightening. The rapturous response of the stupefied crowd made it more so." (08/25/15)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/25/why-donald-trump-is-so-scary/

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Can the Supreme Court force Congress to own the war on ISIS?

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Bruce Ackerman

"The biggest casualty in the struggle against the Islamic State so far has been the American Constitution. One year into the battle, the president and Congress threaten to destroy all serious restraints against open-ended war-making by the commander-in-chief. President Obama waited for half a year before even submitting a draft resolution authorizing his initiative. But it is now obvious that the Republican-controlled Congress finds it politically convenient to stand on the sidelines and let Obama take the blame for the escalating instability. That leaves only the Supreme Court to halt this transformation of the president into a latter-day King George III."

http://tinyurl.com/po85k6p

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Can the Republican Party survive Trump?

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Molly Ball

"As Trump evinces surprising staying power atop the Republican field, nervous party members increasingly fret that he is hurting the image of the GOP and damaging its eventual nominee -- who most assume will not be Trump. The most obvious problem is Trump's outspoken opposition to immigration and immigrants, which has offended Hispanics -- a fast-growing voter demographic the party can't afford to lose ground with -- and dragged other candidates into a discussion of inflammatory ideas like ending birthright citizenship. But many Republican strategists, donors, and officeholders fret that the harm goes deeper than a single voting bloc. Trump's candidacy has blasted open the GOP’s longstanding fault lines at a time when the party hoped for unity." (08/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qgud2rv

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Can Bernie Sanders win the nomination?

CounterPunch
by Arun Gupta

"Those who think Sanders can realistically win the nomination assume the primary process is a level playing field. It's not: the primaries are a war of attrition designed to favor establishment candidates with corporate backing. Since the 1970s the Democratic field has been littered with the carcases of left-leaning insurgents like Sanders: Ted Kennedy in 1980, Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, Jerry Brown in 1992, Dennis Kucinich in 2004, and John Edwards in 2008. Given this history, saying Sanders can win is an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." (08/24/15)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/24/can-bernie-win-the-nomination/

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Congress sick of the secrecy around the TPP

The Nation The Nation
by George Zornick

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is in its final stages, though nobody seems certain when talks over the massive trade deal will actually conclude. The document is undergoing critical late-stage revisions as member nations haggle over the automobile trade with Japan, dairy prices in New Zealand, and monopoly periods for non-generic pharmaceuticals. When the deal is completed, members of Congress will be able to see the entire text without restriction before they vote on passage. But until then, legislators are operating under hyper-strict rules when they want to review the text, which is locked in a basement room of the US Capitol. Only certain congressional aides with security clearances can see the TPP draft, and only when the member of Congress is also present." (08/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ngl3ppw

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To the first female Rangers

Come Home America Come Home America
by Joey King

"Today is Friday August 21, 2015, and history is being made. Two females will become the first of their gender to graduate from the US Army’s elite Ranger School. Coincidently, I graduated Ranger School almost exactly 30 years ago to the day on August 22, 1985. Good luck ladies, you will need it. I mean it. Ranger school fucks with your head, big time. Short of prison, torture, rape, or war, it’s the ultimate mind-fuck. The argument could be made that Ranger School is the most stressful thing one can volunteer for. You are sleep deprived, food-deprived, harassed, and stressed with simulated combat situations for over 8 weeks. Everybody who goes through Ranger School contemplates self-injury to get a few days of rest in a hospital. How sick is that?" (08/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/owm5rle

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Deez Nuts endorses Sanders for Democratic Presidential nomination

In These Times In These Times
by Micah Uetricht

"The presidential candidate whose political star has risen the fastest this past week was not Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, nor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, nor any one of the many candidates vying for the Republican nomination. No, that honor goes to an independent candidate from Iowa running under the name 'Deez Nuts.' Mr. Nuts, in case you haven't heard, is actually a 15-year-old teen from Wallingford, Iowa named Brady Olson. According to the Daily Beast, he filed with the FEC to run for president on July 26 (without giving his age). And as of right now, according to Public Policy Polling, he has netted the support of 9 percent of voters in North Carolina, 8 percent in Iowa and 7 percent in Minnesota." (08/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nlyzjgf

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Without political change, frivolous lawsuits roll on

USA Today USA Today
by Johnny Fugitt

"Lambert’s Cafe, who proudly bills itself as the 'Home of Throwed Rolls,' is being sued by a woman for severe eye, head and neck injuries resulting from one of these tossed baked goods. The Sikeston, Mo., based chain is known for serving huge portions of Southern, home-cooked favorites, but the airborne delivery of fresh, large, pillowy-soft rolls, then topped with apple butter, molasses or honey, is what truly makes the restaurant unique. Troy Tucker claims she suffered 'severe and permanent' personal injuries to the neck, head and eyes as a result of one of these rolls during a Sept. 2014 visit. Tucker seeks an award of at least $25,000 to pay for medical bills and legal fees." (08/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/onyhj3q

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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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