Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

Greece: Regime risks running out of cash by April 20

Reuters Reuters

"Greece risks running out of cash by April 20 unless it secures fresh aid, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, leaving it little time to convince skeptical creditors it is committed to economic reform. After talks with EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the past week, Athens said it will present a package of reforms to its euro zone partners by Monday in the hope of unlocking aid and avoiding a messy default. 'It will be done at the latest by Monday,' government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Mega TV." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o9zs2t8

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India: Supreme Court strikes down parts of draconian Internet censorship law

Times of India [India]

"In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Tuesday fortified the right to freedom of speech and liberty by striking down as 'unconstitutional' Section 66A of Information Technology Act, which police had used indiscriminately to arrest persons for posting criticism of government and political leaders. ... As a result of the verdict, which brings the law in line with the times where internet-based social media is used by citizens to air their views freely, all cases slapped till date against citizens under Section 66A of the Act will be closed and police cannot arrest anyone under this section in future. However, the cases may continue if the police had invoked other sections of IPC along with 66A against the arrested person." (03/25/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q5t2or5

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GA: Lawmakers close to allowing limited use of medical marijuana

Raw Story Raw Story

"Georgia lawmakers are poised to legalize a non-smoking form of medical marijuana for patients with seizure disorders and other conditions under a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday. A version of the bill was previously approved by the state House of Representatives, which is expected to sign off on minor changes made by the Senate. The Georgia legislation would allow patients with diseases including cancer and multiple sclerosis to use a non-intoxicating oil derived from the marijuana plant, a strain commonly known as 'Charlotte’s Web.' Patients or their caregivers would first be required to obtain a registration card from the state Department of Public Health. Their physician also must certify that they are being treated for one of the medical conditions covered by the bill. " (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q2zrdww

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AR: Senate panel backs “conscience protection” measure

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"An effort to prevent Arkansas government from infringing on someone's religious beliefs was revived Tuesday, with a state Senate panel advancing a bill that critics have called a thinly veiled endorsement of discrimination against gays and lesbians. The legislation approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee would ban state and local government from taking action that would burden someone's religious beliefs unless a 'compelling governmental interest' is proven. The bill, if enacted, would strengthen any case of a person suing the government if that person could prove their religious beliefs were infringed upon. The Senate could take up the bill as soon as Wednesday." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nfm46lr

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TX: Woman accused of trying to firebomb pro-life group

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"An Austin woman is accused of throwing a burning bottle at an anti-abortion group praying outside of Planned Parenthood Monday evening. Melanie Maria Toney, 52, is jailed on a felony charge of aggravated assault. No bail has been set. An arrest affidavit states that members of Texas Alliance for Life were praying near the South Austin facility when a woman in an SUV tossed a 'flaming item' out of the window." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/npdumod

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CA: ballot proposal on killing gay people triggers backlash

Fox News Fox News

"A shocking California ballot proposal that calls for gays and lesbians to be “put to death by bullets to the head” is triggering a widespread backlash for the author -- while also raising questions about the state's unique and sometimes-troublesome ballot initiative process. Orange County lawyer Matthew Gregory McLaughlin filed the 'Sodomite Suppression Act' late last month with the state attorney general's office. The initiative, which purports to give residents the authority to act as executioners, contains incendiary language that already is being called outright hate speech." [editor's note: The Golden State continues to battle with the Sunshiners for the cray-cray title - SAT] (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qg9w7sx

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Israeli spying on Iran nuclear talks might have backfired

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"The shocking part of reports Tuesday that Israel spied on American diplomats involved in the nuclear negotiations with Iran was not that friends spy on friends. That’s very old news to both intelligence experts and United States officials. Indeed, the US learned of the Israeli spying as a result of its own spying on Israel. Rather, it’s the lengths to which the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went in its attempts to influence Congress to kill an emerging nuclear deal with Iran. Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer essentially treated Congress as home turf, with their aggressive actions suggesting that they appeared to think of Washington as their domestic political landscape." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q8fq6w5

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Monsanto lashes out at cancer agency’s finding on glyphosate

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Monsanto took the offensive Tuesday against the International Agency for Research on Cancer, days after the organization declared that glyphosate may be a carcinogen. During a conference call with reporters, the declaration was attacked by Monsanto executives and a group that included agriculture industry officials and researchers. ... Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann said the development was not expected to have an impact on sales. But the company is clearly worried about how the 'probable carcinogen' declaration will play out in social media, even if it runs counter to the findings of most scientific studies on the herbicide. 'It has the potential to confuse,' Begemann said. 'Consumers often stumble across this misinformation when they are simply looking for facts.'" [editor's note: I have no idea whether or not the substance is carcinogenic, but Monsanto whining about "misinformation" given its horrific record of malicious/frivolous patent litigation is a comedy gold mine - TLK] (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qz7qwpg

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Indiana set to enact “religious freedom” bill

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"The governor of Indiana is poised to enact a 'religious freedom' law, which opponents say will give state businesses a licence to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers. Governor Mike Pence is expected to sign the bill this week amid protests. Supporters say the bill prevents the state from forcing people to provide services contrary to their religion. Similar bills are being considered across the US as court rulings have made gay marriage legal in more states." (03/24/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32045536

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Survey: Many doctors don’t tell patients they have Alzheimer’s

Time

"It's hard to believe in today's era of transparency in modern medicine, but there's a diagnosis that doctors still try to keep from their patients. In a surprising new survey of patients who were asked about their interactions with their doctors, 45% of people whose doctors treated them for Alzheimer.s never told these patients that they had the degenerative brain disorder. ... The main reasons for the intentional omission? Fear of causing emotional distress in their patients and the lack of time and resources to fully explain what the diagnosis means. This was true of both primary care doctors as well as neurology specialists who have more expertise in brain-related disorders." (03/24/15)

http://time.com/3755176/doctors-diagnose-alzheimers-dont-tell/

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Report: Israel spied on Iran nuke talks

Times of India [India]

"Israel has spied on Iran's nuclear talks with the United States and other major powers, Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Israel quickly dismissed the report as 'not true,' and denied spying on the United States. The Journal report, quoting current and former US officials, said the operation was designed to infiltrate the talks and help build a case against the emerging terms of a deal. Besides eavesdropping, Israel obtained information from confidential US briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials told the Journal. It added that more than the espionage, what irked the White House was the fact that Israel shared inside information with American legislators in a bid to sap support for a deal intended to limit Iran's nuclear program." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m9yet29

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US broadband group sues versus FCC gang’s Internet power grab

Reuters Reuters

"A U.S. trade group representing broadband providers on Monday appealed in court the Federal Communications Commission's recently approved net neutrality rules, marking the first of several anticipated legal challenges. U.S. Telecom has filed the lawsuit against the FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has in the past twice rejected the FCC's net neutrality regulations. The group argues the new rules are 'arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion' and violate various laws, regulations and rulemaking procedures." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ocvqh26

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Clinton’s private email network linked to other government officials

The Daily Caller

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hid her government activities from the public by using her private email network to communicate with her aides via their private, non-government email addresses. During the Benghazi crisis, her secret private-to-private email network bypassed government openness and record-keeping laws. The discovery of her secret network contradicts her March claim that copies of nearly all her official emails existed on other public officials' government email records." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mbmwjwc

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VA: UVA rape story not backed by evidence

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Charlottesville, Virginia police have said an investigation has produced no evidence a gang rape portrayed in a Rolling Stone article occurred. But Chief Timothy Longo said it did not mean 'something terrible didn't happen' to the student known as Jackie. The November 2014 article described a horrifying gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house in 2012. But after discrepancies were found in the story, the magazine apologised for the article." (03/23/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31927267

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MT: Utility lobbies to stop referendum recognizing gun rights

Fox News Fox News

"Lobbying lawmakers for a rate hike is one thing, but now Montana’s biggest electric and gas utility is battling to block a referendum on expanding gun rights. Publicly regulated NorthWestern Energy contends the measure would make it harder to keep their workplaces weapons-free. But the Montana Shooting Sports Association accuses the utility of sticking its nose into a political debate where it doesn’t belong. 'NorthWestern is opposing a bill that has nothing to do with their corporate mission delivering electricity to its customers,' the group’s Gary Marbut told FoxNews.com Monday." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nohmo26

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Senate likely to delay Lynch’s AG nomination to mid-April

Raw Story Raw Story

"President Barack Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch to become the next attorney general is likely to be put on hold in the U.S. Senate until at least mid-April, congressional aides said on Monday, as Republicans and Democrats squabble over unrelated legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is insisting that a bill clamping down on domestic human trafficking be passed before a vote is held on confirming Lynch to the top law enforcement job. ... Republican and Democratic aides said they knew of no progress toward ending the standoff." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mkbeey4

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AZ: Ducey signs bill to extend property tax breaks for churches

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill allowing property tax breaks for buildings leased by churches. The bill by Darin Mitchell of Litchfield Park gives churches leasing space the same type of tax break churches which own their own buildings receive. Building owners are expected to pass their savings on to their tenants. Democrats say it gives churches lower rates the Legislature doesn't offer to other nonprofits, such as domestic violence shelters." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m5gjnmb

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Report: Yemen nearing civil war

Reuters Reuters

"Yemen's top factions are squaring off for battle after months of skirmishes, turning respectively to neighboring Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran for help in what may become all-out war. With President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi seeking a comeback from the port city of Aden while the Shi'ite Houthi movement controls the capital Sanaa, rival administrations are trading bellicose rhetoric as fighting intensifies and factions commandeer airfields for the next stage of the struggle. Somewhat on the sidelines, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State are waiting to exploit what some fear could become Yemen's worst conflict since a 1994 civil war." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q4kqmvl

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WV: Freedom Industries pleads guilty to environmental charges

The State Journal

"Freedom Industries pleaded guilty in federal court March 23 to three environmental crimes, officials said. The crimes are in connection with the Jan. 9, 2014 Elk River chemical spill of MCHM. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Freedom, which owned and operated the facility from which the chemical MCHM spilled into the river, pleaded guilty to negligent discharge of a pollutant, the unlawful discharge of refuse, and violating a permit condition. According to U.S. District Court documents, the company also paid a criminal debt payment of $650 on March 23. Sentencing of the company is scheduled for June 29, 2015." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qb6x73y

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Israel: Netanyahu apologizes to country’s Arab minority

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israel's Arab citizens on Monday for remarks he made during last week's parliament election that offended members of the community. The move appeared to be an attempt to heal rifts and mute criticism at home and in the United States. Netanyahu drew accusations of racism in Israel, especially from its Arab minority, and a White House rebuke when, just a few hours before polling stations were to close across the country, he warned that Arab citizens were voting 'in droves.' But President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, rejected Netanyahu's attempt to distance himself from his comments, telling an Israel advocacy group Monday that the U.S. can't just overlook what Netanyahu said on the eve of his re-election." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/muwhegj

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IN: House passes controversial religious freedom bill

The Washington Post Washington Post

"A controversial religious freedom bill that would protect business owners who want to decline to provide services for same-sex couples was passed by Indiana's State House today, the latest in a larger battle over same-sex marriage and rights. ... The Indiana House voted 63 to 31 to approve a hot-button bill that will likely become law, and Republican Gov. Mike Pence said he plans to sign the legislation when it lands on his desk. The state Senate's version of the bill would prevent the government from 'substantially burdening' a person's exercise of religion unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest and is doing so in the least restrictive means." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/odzy4n3

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VA: Charlottesville police say “no evidence” of UVa gang rape

Al Jazeera Al Jazeera America

"The Charlottesville Police Department said Monday that there was 'no evidence' to support the account of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house depicted in a Rolling Stone magazine article published in November 2014. 'We have no evidence that supports those assertions,' Police Chief Timothy Longo told reporters. During a press conference, Longo and other detectives presented the results of a five-month investigation into the sexual assaults alleged to have taken place at the Phi Kappa Psi house on the U.Va. campus in September 2012." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/m3l343u

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NM: Legislature passes bill ending civil asset forfeiture

JURIST

"The New Mexico legislature on Saturday passed a bill that will end civil asset forfeiture in the state. The bill, HB 560, was passed in the senate by a vote of 37-0. Civil asset forfeiture is a police practice in which authorities can take an individual's property without charging that person for a crime. The bill abolishes this practice, and now before police may seize an individual's property they must convict that person of a crime and prove that the property being seized was used in the commission of that crime. Additionally, the bill directs any monetary gains from the seizure of property to the state's general fund instead of the police budget. ... The bill will now move to Republican Governor Susana Martinez's [sic] for a final signature." (03/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n4lthf9

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AZ: Judge tosses murder case against woman who spent 22 years on death row

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"A judge on Monday dismissed the murder case against an Arizona woman who spent more than 20 years on death row in the 1989 killing of her 4-year-old son. Debra Jean Milke hugged her supporters and sobbed as she exited the Phoenix courtroom. Judge Rosa Mroz ended the case after prosecutors lost their last appeal last week. Milke was convicted of murder in 1990 in the death of her son, Christopher. ... Milke has maintained her innocence and denied that she confessed to the killing. The two men who led her child to his death were convicted of murder but refused to testify against Milke. An appeals court overturned Milke's conviction in 2013, ruling that prosecutors failed to disclose a detective's history of misconduct. Her conviction was based entirely on a confession Milke gave to the now-discredited detective, which he didn't record." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qa9tvzr

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SCOTUS turns away challenge to Wisconsin voter ID law

The State

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge to Wisconsin's voter identification law, after having blocked the state from requiring photo IDs in November's general election. The justices' action means the state is free to impose the voter ID requirement in future elections, including one just two weeks away. The decision is further evidence that the court put the law on hold last year only because the election was close at hand and absentee ballots already had been mailed with no notification of the need to present photo IDs. The court did not comment on its order." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p46htbq

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Commentary


| News | Events |

Becoming “a thing apart” is the story of government

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Nick Ford

"Voltairine de Cleyre, the 19th and 20th century anarchist without adjectives, stated in her essay, 'Anarchism and American Traditions' that, '... the nature of government is to become a thing apart, an institution existing for its own sake, preying upon the people, and teaching whatever will tend to keep it secure in its seat.' If the time of political governance has reached its apex in the 21st century, then someone should tell me what this apex actually looks like. Because one might figure that transparency would be involved with any good liberal democracy. Unfortunately for such dreamers, Obama has had other plans in mind." (03/24/15)

http://c4ss.org/content/36732

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Republicans responsible for Netanyahu now

The New Republic The New Republic
by Brian Beutler

"The collusive relationship between House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu runs famously deep, into the well of Congress. They are aligned by shared interests in augmenting Netanyahu’s political fortunes, improving the Republican Party’s electoral viability, and sabotaging the Obama administration’s efforts to secure a multilateral agreement foreclosing an Iranian nuclear weapon for at least a decade. So it's extremely conspicuous when one offers anything less than fulsome praise for the other, which is basically what happened when Boehner learned that Israelis had spied on the Iran negotiations, and passed information thus gleaned to members of Congress, in hopes of sinking the nuclear deal." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ppfpc88

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Washington must live within its means

USA Today USA Today
by US Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)

"Last week, Congress began the monumental task of confronting our nation's chronic overspending and exploding debt, which threaten each and every American. Make no mistake, our fiscal outlook is grim and has been ignored for far too long. But we have a profound moral responsibility to help taxpayers see the true picture of our country's finances. Republicans are proposing a responsible plan that balances the budget in 10 years with no new tax hikes, protects our most vulnerable citizens, strengthens our national defense, and improves economic growth and opportunity for hardworking families." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nnazzqw

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7 reasons why the 99 Percent keeps losing

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner

"Our current political situation is unprecedented. The vast majority of Americans keep falling behind economically because of changes in society's ground rules, while the rich get even richer -- yet this situation doesn't translate into a winning politics. If anything, the right keeps gaining and the wealthy keep pulling away. How can this possibly be? Let me suggest seven reasons." [editor's note: A-a-and he's off! Blaming it all on "the war on government" and "the failure of laissez-faire economics and deregulation" (as if either of these had actually existed); good for at least a chuckle with your morning coffee - SAT] (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qxcpdax

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Koch network takes on Export-Import Bank

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"In an interesting juxtaposition from Monday’s New York Times, a Times article explains a Times op-ed. The op-ed calls for killing the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), because it helps American companies compete globally. The news story reports that the anti-government Koch brothers network is behind the campaign." [editor's note: At least Mr. Johnson gets the label correctly, unlike most "progressives" who are just shocked ... shocked when they see Charles or David backing something on the civil liberties front - SAT] (03/24/15)

http://ourfuture.org/20150324/koch-network-takes-on-ex-im-bank

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GodZille vs media

The Cagle Post
by Zapiro

Cartoon. (03/23/15)

http://www.cagle.com/2015/03/godzille-vs-media/

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Supreme Court considers Texas license plate case that could threaten free speech on campus

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
by Catherine Sevcenko

"In spite of the emotional appeal of banning offensive symbols, it is important to consider the wider, unintended consequences of a decision allowing Texas to censor the image of the Confederate flag, however repugnant some may find it. Specifically, discourse on public colleges and universities is likely to suffer if the justices decide that specialty license plates are a form of government speech and that Texas may, therefore, censor license plate messages with which it does not want to associate. The connection between specialty license plates and college campuses may not be readily apparent, but every day colleges and universities creatively abuse their authority over student and faculty activities to stifle speech they do not like." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pa6na2a

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Is US guest worker program worth saving?

In These Times In These Times
by Rachel Luban

"On March 18, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced it would resume processing applications for the H-2B guestworker program after a two-week suspension. The DOL abruptly halted processing H-2B applications earlier this month after a Florida federal district court ruling left the program without any formal regulations; the agency began processing applications again when the court granted its request to stay the ruling until April 15 to allow the guestworker program to continue. The announcement prompted a collective sigh of relief among employers and workers who depend on H-2B jobs." (03/24/15)

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17785/guestworker_law

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Goldilocks zone for oil prices is gone for good

Reuters Reuters
by Richard Heinberg

"Five years ago, I wrote an article for Reuters titled 'Goldilocks and the Three Fuels.' In it, I discussed what I call the Goldilocks price zone for oil, natural gas and coal, a zone in which prices are 'just right": high enough to reward producers, but low enough to entice consumers. Ever since the start of the fossil-fuel era, such a zone has existed. Sometimes price boundaries were transgressed on the upside, sometimes on the downside, but it was always possible to revert to the zone. But now, the Goldilocks zone for oil has ceased to exist. This will have staggering consequences throughout the economy for the foreseeable future." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o7323gv

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Get ready for the third intifada

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by John Wight

"Bibi's re-election makes the prospect of a third intifada more likely than ever. And when it does come it would take a surfeit of optimism to believe that it won't be as widely supported among the Palestinians as the First Intifada (1987-1991) or as violent as the Second Intifada (2000-2005)." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ohw87ff

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Philip Giraldi on The Scott Horton Show

Philip Giraldi The Scott Horton Show
by

"Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer and Executive Director of The Council for the National Interest, discusses the schizophrenic US policy in Iraq and Syria; and why the media doesn't confront John McCain, David Petraeus, and other hawkish commentators on their nonsensical claims." [Flash audio or MP3] (03/23/15)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2015/03/23/32315-philip-giraldi/

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Finding the right price for water

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Bourree Lam

"There's a classic economic paradox about the price of water and value, and it comes from Adam Smith: Why do diamonds cost more than water? The comparison is meant to demonstrate how pricing works -- that even though water is essential for human survival, our economy puts prices on things based on scarcity and value (and marginal utility). As long as water remained abundant, the cheapness of water would likely not change. But the price of water has come into serious question as drought-struck California and Western states debate whether water is too cheap." (03/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p4tbkja

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The president stops laughing about pot

Jacob Sullum Reason
by Jacob Sullum

"In an interview with Vice News last week, President Obama suggested that removing marijuana from the list of federally prohibited substances would represent 'progress.' At the same time, he made it clear he's in no hurry to see that happen. 'Young people,' he said, 'I understand this is important to you. But, you know, you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe, way at the bottom, you should be thinking about marijuana.' This sort of condescension is by now a familiar feature of Obama's responses to questions about marijuana legalization. It glosses over the reality of pot prohibition, which entails arresting 700,000 or so people every year in the United States, or one every 45 seconds." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/phy9wgz

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Ignoring the differences between free markets and state capitalism

Kevin Carson Future of Freedom Foundation
by Kevin Carson

"The basic phenomenon that Thomas Piketty devotes [Capital in the Twenty-First Century] to describing is simple: 'When the rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy ... then it logically follows that inherited wealth grows faster than output and income.' His historical account of wealth accumulation, the mass of statistical evidence he musters in support of it, and his analysis of present-day trends are all an excellent read. His weakness lies, not in his description, but in his prescription: his analysis of the root causes of the concentration of wealth and the remedies he proposes." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lkzj95q

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When War on Drugs in Mexico comes back home

In These Times In These Times
by Rebecca Gordon

"They behead people by the hundreds. They heap headless, handless bodies along roadsides as warnings to those who would resist their power. They have penetrated the local, state, and national governments and control entire sections of the country. They provide employment and services to an impoverished public, which distrusts their actual government with its bitter record of corruption, repression, and torture. They seduce young people from several countries, including the United States, into their murderous activities. Is this a description of the heinous practices of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria? It could be, but as a matter of fact it’s not. These particular thugs ... are part of the multi-billion-dollar industry known as the drug cartels of Mexico." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/od83bbg

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Millennials will change abortion conversation

USA Today USA Today
by Charles C. Camosy

"The conventional wisdom is that young people are strongly pro-choice. While it is not surprising that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers eventually grew more skeptical over time, when they were teenagers and young-adults, they too were all-in for abortion rights. But the demographic future of the United States is defying that conventional wisdom." [editor's note: If they are smart, they will push for better birth control, including a male option that's simple, cheap, 100% effective with no side-effects ... and easily reversible if/when the man decides he'd rather NOT shoot blanks. Solve these issues and abortion as a divisive issue evaporates! - SAT] (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/llrs678

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Russia, Crimea & the specter of nuclear war

Reuters Reuters
by Sharon Squassoni

"It’s been a year since Russia annexed Crimea and the nuclear rumors are flying. Earlier this month, Russian officials speculated about whether or not Russia could place nuclear weapons in Crimea. Admitting ignorance about what weapons were there now or whether there were any plans to deploy such weapons there, Mikhail Ulyanov, an official in charge of arms control for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that 'in principle, Russia can do it.' And in a video apparently intended to mark the anniversary of the annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he had considered putting Russian nuclear forces on alert at the time of annexation." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nmt2w82

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Fast-track fight accelerates as vote approaches

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"As Congress prepares to consider fast track legislation to essentially pre-approve (without reading) the still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) opponents are working to get the word out and register opposition. Seattle’s city council is preparing to vote on a resolution opposing fast track, and a number of organizations sent an open letter spelling out what an acceptable fast track process would do." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mjo3aqe

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Three trends driving liberal American Jews away from Israel

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"In the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory last week (and the sordid campaigning that made it possible) liberal American Jews may be feeling, more than they ever have before, pained by, conflicted about, and even estranged from Israel. There are certainly consequences for policy, as U.S. policy toward Israel could become a much more partisan issue than it is now. But more than that, there's a crisis of the spirit emerging." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nk93d6c

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The changing of “The Guardian”

The Nation The Nation
by DD Guttenplan

"Despite the headlines, the most interesting thing about the news that Katharine Viner will take over from Alan Rusbridger this summer as editor-in-chief of The Guardian is not that she will be the first woman to run a newspaper which, at 194 years old, is even more venerable than The Nation. Women currently run two British Sunday papers, one very downmarket tabloid, and the London Evening Standard. Rebecca Brooks famously (or infamously) was the youngest-ever editor of The News of the World before becoming editor of The Sun -- a paper that still sells about ten times as many copies as The Guardian every day." (03/23/15)

http://www.thenation.com/blog/202273/changing-guardian

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Cyber Armageddon is a myth

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Bill Blunden

"Over the past several years mainstream news outlets have conveyed a litany of cyber doomsday scenarios on behalf of ostensibly credible public officials. Breathless intimations of the End Times. The stuff of Hollywood screenplays. However a recent statement by the U.S. intelligence community pours a bucket of cold water over all of this. Yes, Virginia, It turns out that all the talk of cyber Armageddon was a load of bunkum. An elaborate propaganda campaign which only serves as a pretext to sacrifice our civil liberties and channel an ocean of cash to the defense industry." (03/23/15)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/23/cyber-armageddon-is-a-myth/

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What do religious women think of the contraceptive mandate?

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Patricia Miller

"The Catholic Church was first out of the gate in criticizing the mandate, claiming that it was an affront to Catholics because of the church's official prohibition on contraception. This charge was echoed by Catholic pundits, which helped stoke the controversy and the widespread perception that Catholics opposed the measure. Within months, leaders of conservative-leaning Christian groups like the National Association of Evangelicals also joined in the criticism, pressing for faith-based institutions like hospitals and universities to be exempted from the mandate, like houses of worship already were. But what about religiously-affiliated women? Where were their voices in all of this? And what did they think about the mandate? This was the question that intrigued Elizabeth Patton, an OB/GYN and health-services researcher at the University of Michigan." (03/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nlccav9

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Patrick Cockburn on The Scott Horton Show

The Scott Horton Show
by

"Patrick Cockburn, an award-winning journalist with The Independent, discusses his 5-part series on what daily life is like for the Iraqis and Syrians unlucky enough to live under ISIS rule." [Flash audio or MP3] (03/22/15)

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2015/03/22/32215-patrick-cockburn/

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Republicans loved Netanyahu’s racist election tactics

The Nation The Nation Blog
by Ali Gharib

"Almost 200 House Republicans are sending a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating him on his victory in Israel’s snap election Tuesday. Netanyahu sailed to victory on the heels of two controversial late-campaign statements to rally his base: a warning, replete with George Wallace–esque shades of bigotry, that Palestinian citizens of Israel were 'coming out in droves to the polls' and a vow that a Palestinian state would not be created on his watch. In a spate of interviews with American news outlets, Netanyahu tried to walk back his remarks. Whatever one makes of his new Thursday position on a Palestinian state (a lot of people aren’t buying it) Netanyahu’s explanation of his bigoted warning about Arab voters left much to be desired." (03/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ljg3pzg

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Coders becoming industrial workers of 21st Century

In These Times In These Times
by Peter Downs

"After graduating from college and moving away from his family and his hometown for the first time, Paul found his way into LaunchCode, a training and recruiting program for future coders. An artist, he dived enthusiastically into using code to alter and create images. After he completed the four-month class, LaunchCode placed him in a job at a marketing company that uses templates to build web pages for clients. ... Paul, which is not his real name, had hoped to stick with the job until the end of his first year. Then he'd quit and use his experience to find something better." (03/19/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mcgk79x

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The left’s real choice in 2016: Why it doesn’t need Elizabeth Warren to run

Salon
by Mike Conrad

"Disheartened progressive Democrats face the prospect of a 16-year gap between the last closely contested presidential primary in 2008 and what would likely be the next one in 2024. Elizabeth Warren isn't running. Hillary Clinton is and she starts out with very large leads in the early states. But hope is not lost. The choice facing progressives is not and never has been to somehow make Warren vs. Clinton happen or to spend the next 22 months enclosed in a political hellscape fit for only Sean Hannity and Lanny Davis. The 2016 election season does not have to be devoid of purpose or redeeming value." (03/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/knewpkg

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Reckoning with the new auto recall bill

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Rachel M. Cohen

"Some 46 million vehicles nationwide (nearly one in five on the road today) have a recalled, but unrepaired, safety issue. That’s because drivers, along with auto dealers and rental companies, have no legal obligation to fix safety recalls -- a gaping regulatory loophole that puts millions at risk. For years lawmakers have more or less ignored the issue, until earlier this month, when Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey introduced the Repairing Every Car to Avoid Lost Lives (RECALL) Act. The bill would require car owners to comply with all pending safety recalls in order to re-register their vehicles with the DMV, a commonsense approach that would make roads safer." (03/19/15)

http://prospect.org/article/reckoning-new-auto-recall-bill

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The need for care with “thoughtcrime”

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Hanni Fakhoury and Jamie Williams

"The district court judge threw out the jury's conspiracy verdict in an 118-page ruling, stating 'the nearly yearlong kidnapping conspiracy alleged by the government is one in which no one was ever kidnapped, no attempted kidnapping ever took place, and no real-world, non-Internet-based steps were ever taken to kidnap anyone.' But the government has appealed the reversal of the conspiracy conviction, so we've filed another amicus brief in support of Valle, arguing that the trial court got it right. The court ultimately believed -- and we agree -- that finding Valle guilty of conspiracy based on his online statements would hold him guilty of thoughtcrime (or 'crimethink' in Newspeak)." (03/20/15)

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/03/need-care-thoughtcrime

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Social Security reversal in MD Senate race: Six lessons for Democrats

Richard Eskow Our Future Blog
by Richard Eskow

"Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, is running for the Senate seat currently occupied by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski. He is also running from his record -- as a supporter of the 'Simpson-Bowles' plan to cut Social Security and top tax rates, a once-favored economic agenda among Washington insiders and some wealthy private interests. That’s a smart move, but Rep. Van Hollen has more ground to cover." [editor's note: As they seek to raise the FICA "ceiling" they should consider putting a "floor" on the bottom of it - SAT] (03/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/k2uc53e

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Green light for red light cameras

USA Today USA Today
by David Roberts

"This nation's appetite for technology is insatiable, and an unprecedented era of innovation has revolutionized how we live in less than a generation. From the smart phone and Wi-Fi in the tech world, to the mapping of the human genome and life-saving drugs in the medical world, these advances help us to live better, and longer, lives. So it's puzzling when a life-saving technology arrives, is proven to effective but then has the plug pulled on it without justification. Such is the case today with red-light safety cameras in communities across the nation. From Florida to Illinois, and Ohio to Texas, legislators and activists have been attacking these devices armed with hyperbole and fed by misinformed generalizations. The facts have been left on the cutting-room floor." [editor's note: This writer obviously has no awareness of the abuse of these cameras by local lawdogs seeking to pad the municipal coffers, which has civil libertarians up in arms everywhere - SAT] (03/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n94zrne

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Punishment’s purpose: How humans became hardwired for justice

Reuters Reuters
by Morris B. Hoffman

"One of the positive things about the media frenzy over cases like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Aurora Theater shooting is that these types of cases remind us there are profound mysteries of the human condition that we usually tune out during our everyday lives: What is the nature of good and evil? When are we responsible for our actions and when should we be excused? Why do we blame and punish, and when do we forgive? These questions are no longer the exclusive domain of religion, law, psychiatry, or philosophy." [editor's note: Nor is the discussion of punishment vs. rehabilitation, which should concern any enlightened society - SAT] (03/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/l4xuvwx

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March madness

The Cagle Post
by Rick McKee

Cartoon. (03/19/15)

http://www.cagle.com/2015/03/march-madness-6/

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Requiem for American exceptionalism

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by David Frum

"A reader tweeted a funny reply to my last article about American neglect of the First World War. He explained that modern viewers prefer the sequel to the original production: 'Bigger explosions. Better villains.' He's right, of course. At the very end of a week's tour of the battlefields, monuments, and cemeteries of the First World War, my son and I stopped at the memorial to the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge, just outside Bastogne, Belgium. We arrived at sundown on a wet March afternoon. We saw more people at that one stop than we'd seen altogether at the American monuments at Belleau Wood and Chateau Thierry and at the Meuse-Argonne and Chateau Thierry cemeteries. I can be sure of the comparison, since the tally for the WW1 monuments was zero." (03/21/15)

http://tinyurl.com/k6uquhl

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Big bank’s analyst worries that Iran deal could depress weapons sales

The Intercept The Intercept
by Lee Fang

"Could a deal to normalize Western relations with Iran and set limits on Iran's development of nuclear technology lead to a more peaceful and less-weaponized Middle East? That's what supporters of the Iran negotiations certainly hope to achieve. But the prospect of stability has at least one financial analyst concerned about its impact on one of the world's biggest defense contractors. The possibility of an Iran nuclear deal depressing weapons sales was raised by Myles Walton, an analyst from Germany's Deutsche Bank, during a Lockheed earnings call this past January 27th." (03/20/15)

http://tinyurl.com/mpodbk3

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When torturers walk

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Jeffrey St. Clair

"We now know no one will be held to account for these egregious acts. There will be no naming of names. No disciplinary actions. No terminations. No prosecutions. Indeed, one of the CIA's most notorious torturers, an officer who fetishized the waterboard, was promoted to lead the Agency's 'global jihad unit.' This is what John Keats might have described as Negative Culpability, where the perpetrators of some of the most vile crimes in American history simply dissolve into the mist of the system." (03/20/15)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/20/when-torturers-walk/

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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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