You are browsing the archive for 2015 February 11.

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Sen. Paul Introduces Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act

February 11, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today re-introduced S. 457, the Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act of 2015, co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). This bipartisan legislation would restore Federal voting rights for non-violent ex-offenders. ‘A criminal record is currently one of the biggest impediments to voting in federal elections. The Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act will reform existing federal law and give low-level ex-offenders another opportunity to vote. This is an issue that I feel strongly about, and I will continue to fight for the restoration of voting rights in the hopes of giving non-violent ex-offenders a second chance,’ Sen. Paul said. …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Austerity Is 'Complete Horsesh*t': Ivy League Prof Dismantles the Conservative Lie

February 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Elias Esquith, Salon

Mark Blyth's new book explains the damaging consequences of austerity in Europe and the U.S.


As devoted readers of Paul Krugman know well, there’s plenty of evidence from the last six years indicating that austerity, the idea that the government can best boost the economy by engaging in significant tax hikes as well as spending cuts, simply doesn’t work — at least not in today’s economic conditions. With the U.S. going through a period of significant GDP growth, a decrease in the unemployment rate and a falling deficit, it’s a lesson that holds less salience today than it did in years past. But in the eurozone economy, the application of “expansionary austerity” has been vigorous — and rather unsuccessful.

But with the victory of the anti-austerity party Syriza in Greece’s recent election, the state-of-play in Europe has changed dramatically. After years of economic pain and dislocation, Greek citizens now have a reason — however small — to hope that political pressure may force the leaders of the eurozone (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, first and foremost) to reevaluate their approach. Still, years of failure have not loosened austerity’s grip on much of the West; the appeal of the economic philosophy to its proponents seems to operate beyond the level of simple reason.

And this is why Brown University professor Mark Blyth’s book “Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea,” released in paperback last month, remains such necessary reading. Simultaneously functioning as an economics explainer, a merciless polemic, and a penetrating history, Blyth’s book offers a clear insight into austerity’s lineage, its theories, its champions and its failures. Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Blyth about the book as well as the U.S. economy and the future of Europe. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

So, first off, I have to say that the book was a much funnier, feistier read than I’d expected, considering the subject.

[Laughs] I try to find the humor in death and gloom, yes.

In the introduction, you say austerity is an offensive canard. Can you tell me what you meant …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Meet the Badass Activist Collective Bringing Direct Action Back to Black Communities

February 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

“We know that direct action works. We have seen it work for hundreds of years.”


In October, organizers in Ferguson put out a call for people nationwide to come to the city to participate in four days of resistance to demand justice for Michael Brown, who was killed in August by police officer Darren Wilson.

Hailing from Oakland, New York, DC and Boston, Chinyere Tutashinda, Celeste Faison, Laila Williams, Nene Igietseme and Terry Marshall went to Ferguson to answer the call for black direct action trainers to help coordinate Moral Monday and to facilitate direct action trainings. But in the middle of a protest, something unexpected happened.

“All of us unsuccessfully attempted to bring black non-violent direct action trainers down there, and when we got to Ferguson most of the training team were white allies. We noticed that there was a shortage of black direct action trainers,” Faison said. “We looked at each other and said we need to develop some more folks to train our people and coordinate actions. And from there burst the BlackOUT Collective on the frontlines around 11 o’clock at night in front of the police station.”

Since then, the collective has helped black communities think through, facilitate, train, and execute numerous direct actions. One of their first projects was helping a group of young organizers in Oakland who wanted to take action. The result of that process was Black Brunch, an action, now expanded into other cities, in which protesters enter restaurants that cater to a white crowd at busy brunch hours and conduct a ritual for black people killed by police. This includes reading the names of those killed by police and vigilantes. The collective also published the group’s manual on the tactic for others to use.

On Black Friday, they assisted 14 black protesters in shutting down the Bay Area’s major public transportation system, BART, for four hours (how long Brown’s body lay on the street after he was killed) and 28 minutes (every 28 hours …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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11 Great Twitter Suggestions for Jon Stewart's Next Job

February 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

#JobsForJonStewart started trending hours after the comedian announced he would leave the Daily Show.


Not that he needs the help, but Jon Stewart is getting lots of suggestions for his next job via the twittersphere. Hours after the beloved late night comedian and host of the wildly popular “Daily Show” announced he would be leaving after September, #JobsForJonStewart was launched, and naturally became a worldwide trending topic.

Nevermind that Stewart mentioned having dinner with his family on weeknights might be pleasant, just swapping positions with his pal Brian Williams seems like a natural. Another excellent idea: spokesman for Arby's, Stewart's favorite fastfood chain punching bag. A lot of people would like to see him go into politics, maybe as Hillary Clinton's runningmate.

Plenty of show-biz in jokes in the mix, too. Here are 11 suggestions that Stewart should serioiusly consider:

1.

2.

3., 4. and 5.

6. 

7.

8. and 9.

 

10. 

11.

Related Stories

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Source: ALTERNET

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NBC Suspends Brian Williams for Six Months: Multiple Mistruths Suspected

February 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The fabricated story about being shot down in a helicopter over Iraq may be just the beginning.


After a week of nonstop media attention and scrutiny, NBC announced that it has suspended beleaguered “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams for six months without pay. Williams’ removal from the anchor chair follows his on-air admission last Wednesday that he fabricated a story about being in a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003. The suspension is yet another blow to Williams’ legacy, sullying the reputation of a media figure previously considered one of the most trusted names in news.

NBC News president Deborah Turness announced the decision in a statement that included harsh words about the anchor’s exaggeration. “This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position,” Turness wrote. “As managing editor and anchor of 'Nightly News,' Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times.”

NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke also didn’t mince words in his criticism of Williams, going so far as to take the anchor to task for also tarnishing NBC’s image as a trustworthy news source. “By his actions Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate,” Burke said.

The suspension comes amidst an NBC investigation of Williams' claims that Turness says is “ongoing,” and suggests the network may have uncovered more lies Williams may have told. “In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field,” Turness said.

Several sources have questioned whether Williams “misremembered”—or rather, invented—his tales of harrowing experiences, including witnessing bodies floating in flood waters, getting dysentery and watching roving packs of lawless street gangs, during his coverage of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, others are now calling into doubt Williams’ story about being held up at gunpoint by a robber in the 1970s while he sold Christmas trees in Red Bank, New Jersey, near his hometown.

A report in New …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Who Can Succeed Jon Stewart? A Look at the Candidates

February 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Lanre Bakare, The Guardian

In the right light, Amy Schumer, John Oliver, Ricky Gervais, Amy Poehler and others (or no one) can all seem like Daily Show contenders.


Amy Schumer. Schumer is arguably the most natural fit to replace Stewart. She’s had a hugely successful show on Comedy Central (Inside Amy Schumer), her act revolves around playing with left-leaning topics (gender politics, discrimination and objectification) and she manages to pull in an almost equal amount of male and female viewers. She’s also in the new Judd Apatow film Trainwreck, which has a work-in-progress screening at SXSW, and that could push her brand into the US mainstream for good. Whether she really wants to commit to a four-day-a-week show that grinds up political news and repackages it satirically is another matter.

John Oliver.Probably the most successful Daily Show alum after Colbert, Oliver has taken his pithy, witty and incredulous British shtick over to HBO and managed to create what is effectively a weekly version of The Daily Show. He ably covered for Stewart on The Daily Show in 2014 and would be more than capable of picking up the mantel and continuing to riff on political idiocy four times a week. The big stumbling block for him coming back is HBO. The cable giant has made Oliver a staple of its political coverage, in which he serves as a more distinctly left-leaning and politically correct foil to the cranky and more volatile Bill Maher. He also may just prefer the weekly format: he turned down the chance to take over from Craig Ferguson on CBS’s 12.30am slot, instead opting for HBO. But the chance to take over the most anticipated satirical late-night spot (one where he has clear links and history) may prove too good an opportunity to turn down.

Ricky Gervais. Some early reports have mentioned the British comedian as a possible replacement for Stewart. A cursory look at his background may have had many scratching their heads as to why a comic who is known for pushing the boundaries of good taste and hasn’t done any form of political satire would be a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox's America's Newsroom with Bill Hemmer – February 11, 2015

February 11, 2015 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Misinterpreting Obamacare to Save It

February 11, 2015 in Economics

By Robert A. Levy

Robert A. Levy

Good advice from former Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, writing in The New York Times: Just “read the briefs,” she suggests — referring to the copious filings in King v. Burwell, which give nine justices another opportunity to constrain the reach of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. King will be argued on March 4 and likely decided by June 30. Here’s the background:

The Affordable Care Act authorizes the federal government to set up an exchange for the purchase of health insurance if a state decides not to; but the statute says that subsidies to consumers are available only on exchanges “established by the state.” That excludes federal exchanges. The implications are enormous: Without subsidies to nearly 5 million Americans buying policies on federal exchanges in three-dozen states, a core feature of Obamacare becomes dysfunctional.

The government maintains that “established by the state” is a “term of art” — a “technical” phrase embracing more than its actual words denote. When a state opts out, the federal government simply steps in as the state’s surrogate. Functionally, the federal exchange is — pardon the doublespeak — an exchange established by the state. Never mind the assault on federalism.

After perusing a few briefs among the 32 filed on the government’s side, Ms. Greenhouse arrives at these conclusions: First, no reasonable person reading the ACA in full context would deduce that consumers on federal exchanges were to be denied subsidies. Second, when the ACA was enacted, no one interpreted the statute in that manner. Third, state sovereignty is compromised if states that decline to establish exchanges are given no notice of the dire consequences.

For a different perspective, however, consider two briefs (out of 22 supporting King) that Ms. Greenhouse may have overlooked. The first is a filing by Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler and my colleague Michael Cannon, and the second is a brief from Oklahoma and five other states. Those two briefs persuasively counter the points raised by Ms. Greenhouse.

First, regarding Congress’ intent: Recourse to intent may be necessary when the text of a statute is ambiguous. But there is nothing ambiguous about “established by the state.” Moreover, Congress has repeatedly conditioned the receipt of federal benefits on state cooperation. No one should have been surprised or puzzled by yet another program bribing the states to join. The real mockery of legislative intent would be subsidies without strings attached. Think LBJ’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Black History Is American History

February 11, 2015 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Some people think libertarians only care about taxes and regulations. But I was asked not long ago, what’s the most important libertarian accomplishment in history? I said, “the abolition of slavery.”

The greatest libertarian crusade in history was the effort to abolish chattel slavery, culminating in the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement and the heroic Underground Railroad. It’s no accident that abolitionism emerged out of the ferment of the Industrial Revolution and the American Revolution.

How could Americans proclaim that “all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” without noticing that they themselves were holding other men and women in bondage? They could not, of course. The ideas of the American Revolution — individualism, natural rights and free markets — led logically to agitation for the extension of civil and political rights to those who had been excluded from liberty, as they were from power — notably slaves, serfs and women. As the great English scholar Samuel Johnson wrote in 1775, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

The world’s first antislavery society was founded in Philadelphia that same year. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, yet he included a passionate condemnation of slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence the following year: “[King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him.” The Continental Congress deleted that passage, but Americans lived uneasily with the obvious contradiction between their commitment to individual rights and the institution of slavery.

Racism is an age-old problem, but it clearly clashes with the universal ethics of libertarianism and the equal natural rights of all men and women.”

As the idea of liberty spread, slavery and serfdom came under attack throughout the Western world. During the British debate over the idea of compensating slaveholders for the loss of their “property,” the libertarian Benjamin Pearson replied that he had “thought it was the slaves who should have been compensated.”

In the United States, the abolitionist movement was naturally led by libertarians. Leading abolitionists called slavery “man stealing,” in that it sought to deny self-ownership and steal a man’s very self. Their arguments paralleled those of John Locke and the libertarian agitators known as the Levellers. William Lloyd Garrison wrote that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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NATO's Most Problematic Member: An Authoritarian Turkey

February 11, 2015 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Worries about Turkey’s conduct are growing rapidly among fellow NATO members. There are multiple concerns, some of which have surfaced periodically before, while others are either new or at least much more salient. All of them are now combining to make critics wonder whether Turkey is a reliable or even a tolerable ally. Seth Cropsey, a Senior Fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute in the United States, denounces what he termed “Turkey’s contempt for NATO principles.” International media mogul Conrad Black urges NATO members to “get tough with Turkey.”

One issue, Turkey’s continuing occupation of northern Cyprus, is a long-standing irritant, but it has acquired new relevance given NATO’s stance against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Ankara’s forces invaded Cyprus and amputated some 37% of that country’s territory in 1974. Turkey subsequently established a client state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which even today enjoys virtually no international recognition. Since Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, it has become increasingly awkward for countries that are part of both that organization and NATO to ignore the ongoing occupation of a fellow EU member’s territory.

Recent developments have made Turkey’s stance on the Cyprus issue even more of an embarrassment, especially to the United States as NATO’s leader. It is rather difficult for Washington to condemn Vladimir Putin’s regime for annexing Crimea or setting up puppet states in the occupied Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia when a NATO member is guilty of similar behavior.

Disgruntled Americans and other Westerners view Ankara’s overall foreign policy with mounting suspicion.”

Disgruntled Americans and other Westerners also view Ankara’s overall foreign policy with mounting suspicion. US supporters of Israel especially regard Turkey’s increasingly frosty treatment of that country as a manifestation of hostility toward both Western interests and Western values. Ankara’s conduct regarding ISIS has aroused additional concerns that Turkish leaders are conducting a cynical flirtation with radical Islamist forces in the Middle East. Not only did President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government drag its feet on supporting air strikes against ISIS by the United States and other NATO allies, but there were indications that Turkish leaders actively impeded measures to weaken the terrorist organization. For an agonizingly long period of time, the Erdoğan regime did little to assist besieged Kurdish defenders trying to thwart the attempt by ISIS forces to conquer the city of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border.

And as …read more

Source: OP-EDS