Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

Oregon gets ready to jettison ObamaCare exchange after website woes

Los Angeles Times

"Oregon officials are poised to vote Friday on whether to jettison their troubled health insurance exchange and become the first state in the country to switch to the federal version, which had its own rocky start before righting itself. At a Thursday meeting, Cover Oregon’s technology advisory committee announced that it had recommended that the agency scrap its local exchange because there is neither the time nor the money available to fix it. The Cover Oregon board will vote Friday." (04/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lzs78rl

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Republicans to Obama: Don’t just deport immigrants, be as mean as possible to them

USA Today

"A group of 22 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Pres. Obama on Thursday urging him to abandon a review he ordered to find a way to conduct deportations 'more humanely.' ... The Senate Republicans say that any proposals to weaken the deportation system in the U.S. would represent 'an astonishing disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of American citizens and legal residents.'" [editor's note: "Astonishing" indeed -- the Constitution clearly and unambiguously forbids the federal government to regulate immigration - TLK] (04/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kolt29p

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US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

Philadelphia Inquirer

"The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release - and expecting thousands to take up the offer. It's an effort to deal with high costs and overcrowding in prisons, and also a matter of fairness, the government says. On Wednesday, the Justice Department unveiled a revamped clemency process directed primarily at low-level felons imprisoned for at least 10 years who have clean records while in custody. The effort is part of a broader administration push to scale back harsh penalties in some drug-related prosecutions and to address sentencing disparities arising from the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic that yielded disproportionately tough punishment for black drug offenders." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k675rq7

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SunPower and Google form $250 million solar leasing program

Business Week

"SunPower Corp. (SPWR:US), the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, and Google Inc. (GOOG:US) are creating a $250 million program to finance residential solar systems. The solar producer is committing $150 million and Google will provide $100 million, San Jose, California-based SunPower said today in a statement. The program will 'help make solar accessible to more families,' said Chuck Boynton, the solar company’s chief financial officer." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l9mch89

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Judge recognizes Chelsea Manning’s name change

Chelsea Manning CBS News

"A Kansas judge has granted a request to formally change the name of the soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning. The former intelligence analyst is serving a 35-year prison sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website. Manning is serving the sentence at an Army prison in Kansas." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kvbmnh6

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SCOTUS upholds Michigan affirmative action ban

Fox News

"The Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's affirmative action ban, ruling that the state has the right to determine whether racial preferences can be considered in college admissions. In a 6-2 ruling on Tuesday, the justices said that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory. The Supreme Court ruled that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution to bar public colleges and universities from using race as a factor in admissions." (04/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mu6ct4r

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Appeals court orders US government to release drone strike legal opinion

McClatchy DC

"The Obama administration must make public central portions of a Justice Department opinion that held that the government has the legal authority to launch drone strikes overseas against Americans it determines are plotting terrorist attacks on U.S. targets, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruling overturned a January 2013 lower court decision that upheld the goverment’s refusal to make public the opinion outlining the legal basis for targeted killing operations." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kjprrhr

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Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Akron Beacon Journal

"While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear. When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more skepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago.

http://tinyurl.com/lbohaon

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CA: Man accusing “X-Men” director of sex abuse sues more Hollywood execs

Reuters

"A man who has sued 'X-Men' filmmaker Bryan Singer claiming he had raped him as a teenager named three more Hollywood executives in lawsuits filed on Monday, alleging sexual abuse and rape and seeking damages exceeding $10 million. Michael Egan, 31, who was an aspiring teen actor in Los Angeles, said television executives Garth Ancier and David Neuman and entertainment firm executive Gary Goddard were part of an underage sex ring in Hollywood in late 1999 and 2000 that had abused Egan." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n6bx3rs

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MT: Idiot proposes marijuana ban

Fox News

"A Billings car-dealership owner is proposing a ballot measure to completely ban marijuana in Montana. ... Montana allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. About 8,300 medical marijuana users are registered with the state. [Steve] Zabawa tells Lee Newspapers of Montana that if the federal government considers it an illegal drug, it should be illegal in Montana." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k325ley

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WA: Scouts yank charter of Seattle troop led by gay scoutmaster

Seattle Times

"The Seattle Boy Scouts of America (BSA) council has revoked the charter of the Rainier Beach church that hosts the troop led by gay scoutmaster Geoff McGrath. ... McGrath, who is married to his partner of 20 years, said he was disappointed and surprised at the decision but insists his group of about 15 boys will continue to meet — even though they’ll be looking for another organization to belong to." (04/21/14)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023429268_scoutgayxml.html

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Big asteroids hit Earth far more than we’re told, say astronauts

CNet News

"As part of a celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22, Ed Lu, Tom Jones, and Bill Anders, all veterans of space travel, are to give a presentation to scare us out of our complacent wits. As Phys.org reports, the B612 Foundation will present data from a nuclear weapons warning network that shows -- at least to members of the group -- that large asteroids strike the Earth 3 to 10 times more than publicly revealed. ... the foundation, led by Lu, offered this in an advance press release: 'This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare -- but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought.'" (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n23aujb

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TN: UAW drops appeal of defeat in Volkswagen vote

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"The United Auto Workers dropped its appeal of a worker vote against unionizing at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, a move that the union said should put pressure on Republican politicians to quickly approve incentives the German automaker is seeking to expand its lone U.S. assembly plant. The prolonged fight over labor issues at the Chattanooga facility appeared headed for a lengthy National Labor Relations Board appeal until the UAW announced an hour before a scheduled hearing that it was ending its challenge." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lahbbaz

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OK: Supreme Court stays two state killings

New York Times

"The Supreme Court of Oklahoma stayed the imminent executions of two murderers late Monday, ending a Kafkaesque legal showdown in which courts argued over jurisdiction even though the prisoners had successfully challenged the legality of Oklahoma’s secrecy in obtaining lethal drugs. ... The case is part of a growing legal battle nationally over secrecy in methods of execution, as traditional drugs have become scarce and states have engaged in covert scrambles to find new drug combinations and manufacturers. Oklahoma officials say they must offer secrecy because potential manufacturers fear reprisals for involvement with the death penalty." [editor's note: By "reprisals," the officials presumably mean "people may not want to buy their stuff." To which I reply, "tough sh_t -- governments shouldn't get to hide who's getting taxpayer money - TLK] (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n74fefk

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CO: With sales now legal, cannabis lovers take Denver’s 420 weekend to new highs

CNN

"Coming to the Mile High City this weekend was the perfect 65th birthday present for Karen Stevenson. She and her husband drove out of the Bible Belt to experience, for the first time, what it's like to buy and smoke weed legally. ...The Stevensons are among the tens of thousands of visitors -- by some estimates 80,000 -- who've come to Denver to mark 420 (April 20), a date that's emerged as a holiday among those steeped in cannabis culture." (04/20/14)

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/20/us/denver-420-weekend/

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Healthcare.gov users told to change passwords due to Heartbleed risk

Fox News

"Users of the federal heath care exchange site have been advised to change their passwords this weekend after the Obama administration reviewed the government's vulnerability to the Heartbleed Internet security bug. Senior administration officials told the Associated Press that there was no indication that the HealthCare.gov site had been compromised and the action is being taken out of an abundance of caution."

http://tinyurl.com/mno9nch

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NH: Manchester senators adversaries in tie vote on state killing

Concord Monitor

"The opposing votes cast by Manchester’s two Democratic senators reflect the deep divide of lawmakers and residents on the topic of repealing the state’s centuries-old death penalty. This year’s death penalty debate revolved largely around slain Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs and his killer, Michael Addison, the state’s only death row convict. The debate was punctuated Thursday by a 12-12 vote, with the tie meaning capital punishment remains on the books. ... Manchester veteran Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a political science professor, voted against repeal while first-term Sen. Donna Soucy, a lawyer, voted in favor. ... D'Allesandro was the only Democrat to vote against repeal. Two Republican senators, Bob Odell and Sam Cataldo, voted in favor." (04/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k6squrp

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IL: Idiot bureaucrats’ victim disarmament proposal removed from medical marijuana rules

Fox News

"Medical marijuana users in Illinois who own handguns will be able to keep their firearms, according to a new change in state policy proposed Friday. ... The revised rule would reverse a controversial proposal made by the Illinois Department of Public Health that would have required gun owners to hand over their weapons if they smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. The move comes after Second Amendment advocates and pot proponents complained that medical marijuana users shouldn’t be forced to choose between guns and cannabis. However, letting pot users possess firearms still puts the state in direct conflict with [an unconstitutional] federal law that prohibits 'shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition,' while under a controlled substance."

http://tinyurl.com/k8lcn77

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OK: House passes solar surcharge bill

The Oklahoman

"Utility customers who want to install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines could face extra charges on their bills after legislation passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday. Senate Bill 1456 passed 83-5 after no debate in the House. It passed the Senate last month and now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for her approval. The bill was supported by the state’s major electric utilities, but drew opposition from solar advocates, environmentalists and others. It sets up a process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to establish a separate customer class and monthly surcharge for distributed generation such as rooftop solar or small wind turbines." [editor's note: Not entirely clear whether this applies only to those who connect to a utility company's grid and sell juice back to them, or if it's a charge for nothing more than NOT buying your electricity - TLK] (04/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kgozprw

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Russia: Snowden is surprise guest on Putin phone-in

Hindustan Times [India]

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

http://tinyurl.com/nxfc2fv

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Report: Ukraine deal aims at de-escalation

Christian Science Monitor

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

http://tinyurl.com/p4sdc4c

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TX: State steals polygamist group’s secluded ranch

San Francisco Chronicle

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

http://tinyurl.com/n9ba9aq

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

BBC News [UK state media]

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

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

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Scientists create stem cells from adults

Reuters

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

http://tinyurl.com/o9cplqd

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PA: HS principal allegedly faked class, grades

Fox News

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

http://tinyurl.com/nadxhbo

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Commentary


| News | Events |

Rising tide

Cagle Post
by Tim Eagan

Cartoon. (04/24/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/04/rising-tide/

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Village of the damned

In These Times
by Lawrence Reichard

"Walking along the stone and dirt road that follows the Tabasara River to the construction site of Panama’s controversial Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam is a bit like stepping into a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, one titled Chronicle of a Battle Foretold. The road is blocked by huge felled trees and seemingly endless piles of rocks and boulders. You know the battle’s coming, but you don’t know when, or how violent it will be. The roadblocks were put in place by indigenous Ngäbe-Bugle activists who say that the private Panamanian company that’s building the Barro Blanco dam, Generadora del Istmo S.A. (Genisa), built the road so Panamanian police can cross the rough terrain and evict potentially hundreds of Ngäbe-Bugle protesters." (04/23/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16533/village_of_the_dammed

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The Bundy ranch standoff: The bad and the ugly

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson

"The Bundy ranch saga has been the subject of heated good guy/bad guy framing by both mainstream liberals and mainstream conservatives, who differ only on which roles to assign to Bundy and the feds, respectively. But I can’t really see any good guys in this." (04/22/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/26617

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As middle class falls behind, we need a progressive populist response

Our Future
by Isaiah J. Poole

"There is new evidence of the high price working-class people are paying because of the stranglehold conservatives have on our economy that should embolden Democratic candidates to offer bolder, progressive populist prescriptions for addressing income inequality and remaking our economy." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lbtq263

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April 19 in Yemen: Another day, another drone killing

Come Home America Come Home America
by Joe Scarry

"The press announced a flurry of drone killings in Yemen over the April 19/20 weekend -- that is, while the rest of us were observing Easter -- and just as with U.S. drone killings in Pakistan and Somalia, the U.S. modus operandi was on full display. ... Numerous unnamed U.S. officials are alluded to in press coverage, but all official U.S. sources (the CIA, the Pentagon) decline comment. Reports are full of red herrings -- references to Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen (who were not the targets of these particular attacks, however); mention of past attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Yemen (which the U.S. does not connect with the events of the weekend, however); Barack Obama’s May, 2013, speech on national security (but what relevance could that have to the past weekend’s anonymous strikes?); etc." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n86z7jh

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Justice Sotomayor’s powerful defense of equality

The American Prospect
by Scott Lemieux

"The core of the Court's 'political-process' precedents, Sotomayor observes, is that minorities have access to the state's democratic procedures. The Constitution 'does not guarantee minority groups victory in the political process,' but it does 'guarantee them meaningful and equal access to that process. It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently, forcing the minority alone to surmount unique obstacles in pursuit of its goals -- here, educational diversity that cannot reasonably be accomplished through race-neutral measures.' Reallocating power in the way Michigan does here therefore raises serious equal-protection concerns." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k94afgo

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Tracking a marked population in the US borderlands

The Nation
by Todd Miller

"Along the US-Mexico border, the high-powered cameras are pointed at you and the drones are above you." (04/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ll5mqfk

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Interrorgation manual

Cagle Post
by Martin Kozlowski

Cartoon. (04/22/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/04/interrorgation-manual/

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The gnosticism of power

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson

"Those in power regularly reveal themselves to be oblivious to conditions in the real world, and to material constraints on transforming their commands into reality. There’s good reason for this: Their power insulates them from direct experience of the material world, and from direct experience of the constraints offered by material reality." (04/22/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/26551

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Today in American exceptionalism

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Almost nowhere else is there such a tight link between class and opinions about cutting government." (04/15/14)

http://prospect.org/article/today-american-exceptionalism

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Five ways American policies make us lonely, anxious and antisocial

Our Future
by Lynne Stuart Parramore

"You would think that by the 21st century, we would know something about what it takes for humans to live fulfilling lives. After all, we’ve witnessed enormous advances in science, psychology, sociology, and related fields over the past couple of centuries. The great mystery is that we seem to be doing worse, not better." (04/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kudfwh3

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Want to stop climate change? Take the fossil fuel industry to court

The Nation
by Dan Zegart

"Big Carbon is where Big Tobacco was, before it started losing." (04/22/14

http://tinyurl.com/lrgfezj

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Why the GOP really fears minimum wage hikes

In These Times
by Leo Gerard

"The GOP is so afraid that the nation’s lowest wage earners will get a raise that Republican politicians across the country are working overtime to outlaw wages above $7.25 an hour for these workers. They’re passing legislation forbidding towns and counties from raising the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. Republicans insist: no pay bump for those raking in $15,080 a year! On the other side, however, there’s no amount of pay, perks, private jets, premium health plans and golden parachutes that Republican politicians believe could possibly be too much for a CEO." (04/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lhevttl

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The perils of intervention

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Patrick Cockburn

"Catastrophe in the shape of civil war, Russian invasion and partition are not yet inevitable, but they are just around the corner. The deal reached between Russia, US, the European Union and Ukraine on Thursday, whereby protesters in east Ukraine would vacate public buildings they had occupied and give up their arms in return for greater autonomy for pro-Russian districts, has only slowed the momentum towards civil strife. The demonstrators are insisting that they have as much legitimacy as what they call “the Kiev junta” since it came to power through street demonstrations overthrowing a corrupt, incompetent but elected government." (04/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m725f69

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Why kidnapping, torture and perjury are no longer crimes in Washington

The Nation
by Tom Engelhardt

"Unlike the rest of us, members of our national security state exist in what might be called 'post-legal' America." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mg9kqcp

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Food freedom faces withering attack this year

Fox News
by Baylen Linnekin

"Earlier this year I warned in a column that food freedom – the right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat and drink the foods you want -- would be 'under attack' in 2014. But even I couldn’t have predicted the crushing regulatory assault that’s hit American consumers and food producers in just the first quarter of this year. In fact, 2014 may go down as the worst year for food freedom since the New Deal era, when Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Supreme Court conspired to strip Americans of many basic food rights." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lxf6j4y

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A libertarian Earth Day

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Grant Mincy

"On this Earth Day, and ever afterward, I ask that our intrinsic, inquisitive nature be turned to manufactured political boundaries. Why is the greatest threat to the environment great militarized nation states? If we are to take pride in democratic values, are these values not the anti-thesis of concentrated authority? Does the concept of continual growth in the name of 'progress' allow for sustainability? Or should we perhaps rid ourselves of this cage and redefine progress?" (04/21/14)

http://c4ss.org/content/26565

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Manly men condemn Obama’s lack of manliness

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Here's a question: If Hillary Clinton becomes president, what are conservatives going to say when they want to criticize her for not invading a sufficient number of other countries? I ask because yesterday, David Brooks said on Meet the Press that Barack Obama has 'a manhood problem in the Middle East.' Because if he were more manly, then by now the Israelis and Palestinians would have resolved their differences, Iraq would be a thriving, peaceful democracy, and Iran would have given up its nuclear ambitions. Just like when George W. Bush was president, right?" (04/21/14)

http://prospect.org/article/manly-men-condemn-obamas-lack-manliness

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The right’s new racial math: A demented view of nonwhite voters

Our Future
by Digby

"It’s amazing how they can so blithely imply that they win if the 'real' vote were counted. And it proves why they are so desperate to suppress the vote of African Americans and Latinos. Those 'illegitimate' voters are diluting the votes of legitimate citizens. What could be more obvious? Indeed, all you have to do is look at the GOP rationales offered up in the 2000 recount: they said it explicitly." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mao8w6s

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Obama endorses a forgery

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Diana Johnstone

"On Friday, April 18, President Obama voiced his righteous indignation over anti-Semitic fliers pasted on synagogue walls in the pro-Russian eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. ... This presidential reaction occurred 24 hours after the pamphlet in question had been thoroughly denounced as a fake, not only by the Donetsk leader, Denis Pushilin, who said his signature on the document had been forged, but by local Jewish community leaders and even by The New Republic, which cannot be accused of indifference to anti-Semitism." (04/21/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/21/obama-endorses-a-forgery/

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Taxes and war profiteers

Come Home America Come Home America
by Darren Wolfe

"It comes as no surprise to libertarians that when governments use aggression at home to finance their operations they use much of that loot to aggress abroad. To really advocate peace pacifists need to apply their principles consistently. The use of force is either consonant with pacifist principles or it isn’t. There is no magic of the collective that excuses the government using force in a way that is immoral for individuals to do so. I have no doubt that none of the members of the Brandywine Peace Community would themselves ever use force, or the threat thereof, to separate anyone from their money. Why then do they advocate that the government do so?" (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ka6u3ja

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Ten governors’ races to watch in 2014

In These Times
by Sarah Berlin and David Moberg

"A wave of Tea Party governors took office in 2010, propelled by 'high unemployment, a demoralized Democratic base, an activist Tea Party, and, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision earlier that year, big bucks from oligarchs like the Koch brothers,' writes David Moberg in 'Toppling the Tea Party,' In These Times' June cover story. This year, those governors are up for re-election, but this time they have records to defends psic]. Below, read about the players and the odds in those races, as well as other 2014 gubernatorial contests that have high stakes for working people." (04/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lq6zseh

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Where the death penalty stands

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Yesterday, the New Hampshire state Senate deadlocked on a bill that would have eliminated the state's death penalty, killing the bill for the moment and leaving New Hampshire as the only state in New England that still has a law providing for executions. The bill had already passed in the state House of Representatives and has the support of the governor, so one more vote would have passed it. I thought this was a nice opportunity to look at the state of the death penalty in America and around the world." (04/18/14)

http://prospect.org/article/where-death-penalty-stands

No Comments »

Time to stop following defunct economic policies

Reuters
by Anatole Kaletsky

"Can economists contribute anything useful to our understanding of politics, business and finance in the real world? I raise this question having spent last weekend in Toronto at the annual conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, a foundation created in 2009 in response to the failure of modern economics in the global financial crisis (whose board I currently chair). Unfortunately, the question raised above is as troubling today as it was in November 2008, when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth famously stunned the head of the London School of Economics by asking faux naively, 'But why did nobody foresee this [economic collapse]?'" (04/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p9gtulw

No Comments »

I see rich people

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

"In the Star Trek movies, San Francisco serves as headquarters of Starfleet Command. This cracks me up no end, as I cannot imagine the Board of Supervisors approving construction of Starfleet Academy or the oddly shaped high-rises you see in the background. And if City Hall somehow did approve the project, you know there'd be some ballot measure to kill the deal. The grounds could be endless: No photon torpedoes. Too many techies already. What about affordable housing?" (04/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q7wr9aj

No Comments »

Nullification, the Bundy Ranch & right-wing lawlessness

Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"Does the right get a free pass to ignore laws? Is armed intimidation the way we decide which laws should be followed? Is conservative media whipping up the conditions for another Oklahoma City bombing? ... Flag-waving Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy refuses to pay cattle-grazing fees like other ranchers do, or even get a grazing permit, because he 'doesn’t recognize the federal government.' The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), following years of federal court rulings, finally starts removing Bundy’s cattle from public land." [editor's note: This leaves out a lot of factors (for one, Harry Reid's complicity in all of this?), but it covers a lot of the matter pretty well - SAT] (04/18/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p6sc9zw

No Comments »

What makes America exceptional?

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Paul Craig Roberts

"A government that relies on propaganda cannot be believed about anything. Americans misinformed by a prostitute media are in no position to protect the US Constitution and their liberty. Misinformed, they become tyranny’s allies and their own worst enemy." (04/20/14)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/18/what-makes-america-exceptional/

No Comments »

How we can fix Wall Street

In These Times
by David Sirota

"If you read one business book this year, make it Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. ... The technical architecture of high-frequency trading is right out of a sci-fi movie: the schemes rely on algorithms that seem artificially intelligent, and the velocity of transaction signals approach light speed. ... The good news is that a financial transaction tax can at once raise public resources and disincentivize the most predatory schemes. The even better news is that structural changes in the industry have made such a tax more economically viable than ever." [editor's note: Since this transaction tax is actually more like a fee paid for protection of services, I have no real problem with the idea. - SAT] (04/18/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16579/financial_transaction_tax

No Comments »

Close down the gay movement?

The Nation
by Richard Kim

"In the early 1990s, the writers Andrew Sullivan and Tony Kushner (in the pages of The New Republic and The Nation, respectively) laid out two catalytic visions of gay politics. In his essay 'The Politics of Homosexuality,' Sullivan made the conservative case for a gay agenda that focused solely on eliminating state discrimination against lesbians and gay men, chiefly the bans on same-sex marriage and military service. ... Once those two goals (marriage and the military) were realized, Sullivan argued in his book Virtually Normal, 'we should have a party and close down the gay rights movement for good.'" (04/16/14)

http://www.thenation.com/article/179377/close-down-gay-movement

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The black market correction

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Gabriel Amadej

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

http://c4ss.org/content/26426

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The middle class is not “normal”

Our Future
by Thom Hartmann

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

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

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Why I’m cheering for fossil fuels this Earth Day

John Stossel Fox News Forum
by John Stossel

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

http://tinyurl.com/qftvf68

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Can National Popular Vote end the voting wars?

Reuters
by Rob Richie

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

http://tinyurl.com/prdx6vs

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The saddest job in the world

San Francisco Chronicle
by Mark Morford

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

http://tinyurl.com/nok9rp2

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White noise, black politics

The Nation
by Melissa Harris-Perry

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

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

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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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