You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 19.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Military Sequester Flexibility Act

March 19, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today introduced S.813, the Military Sequester Flexibility Act. This legislation will provide the Secretary of Defense the authority to transfer funds within the Department of Defense (DOD) in order to mitigate the damaging effects of a sequestration of funds, if a sequestration were to transpire in 2016. ‘As a member of Congress, I believe protecting and defending our military men and women should always be our top priority. With a potential sequestration in 2016, my bill will allow the Secretary of Defense the ability to prioritize and target reductions within the DOD, and ensure equipment and readiness of our service members is preserved and maintained,’ Sen. Paul said. Click HERE to read the Military Sequester Flexibility Act in its entirety. …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

Avatar of admin

by admin

Why Is the Government Spying on the Black Lives Matter Protests?

March 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

President Obama? Care to explain this chilling new low in America's disturbing surveillance apparatus?


It’s comforting that we have the assurance of everyone from the president on down that the government has no interest in intruding on the lives of fellow Americans without cause as they did back in the bad old days. After all, in these days of hyper awareness over the terrorist threat, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how that sort of thing could get out of hand, so it’s important that they follow the rules. Now there was a time when the cause of anti-communism required that we be extra-vigilant because the Russians were coming and dissent was closely monitored by police and the FBI in order that the government keep tabs on all those potential commie infiltrators such as Martin Luther King and John Lennon.

And even quite recently, it was found that the authorities had peace activists under surveillance in the wake of 9/11. The Washington Post reported in 2006:

A database managed by a secretive Pentagon intelligence agency called Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, was found last month to contain reports on at least four dozen antiwar meetings or protests, many of them on college campuses. Ten peace activists who handed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches outside Halliburton’s headquarters in Houston in June 2004 were reported as a national security threat. So were people who assembled at a Quaker meeting house in Lake Worth, Fla., or protested military recruiters at sites such as New York University, the State University of New York and campuses of the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Cruz.

The protesters were written up under a Pentagon program called Talon, which is supposed to collect raw data on threats to defense facilities in the United States. CIFA, an agency created just under four years ago that now includes nine directorates and more than 1,000 employees, is charged with working to prevent terrorist attacks.

The logic that peace activists must be in league with terrorists has never been adequately explained, but it follows along the same line of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Noam Chomsky: Slavery and White Fear of Revenge 'Deeply Rooted in American Culture'

March 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Chomsky looks at the roots of American racism and genocide.


American culture is imbued with fears that African Americans will someday repay the violence and oppression that has marred their history in this country, according to linguist and cultural critic Noam Chomsky. Speaking with philosopher George Yancy about the roots of American racism, from Native American genocide to anti-black discrimination, Chomsky emphasized the ongoing impact of black enslavement and subjugation in the U.S., saying “fears that the victims might rise up and take revenge are deeply rooted in American culture, with reverberations to the present.”

Chomsky was speaking with Yancy as part of an ongoing New York Times series of discussions around race. Early in the conversation, Yancy noted that contemporary American conversations about terrorism often omit “the fact that many black people in the United States have had a long history of being terrorized by white racism.” Chomsky cited the fact that slaves had arrived in the colonies 400 years ago, and were largely responsible for America’s early economic strength.

“We…cannot allow ourselves to forget that the hideous slave labor camps of the new “empire of liberty” were a primary source for the wealth and privilege of American society, as well as England and the continent. The industrial revolution was based on cotton, produced primarily in the slave labor camps of the United States.”

Slaves were highly efficient producers, Chomsky states, and “[p]roductivity increased even faster than in industry, thanks to the technology of the bullwhip and pistol, and the efficient practice of brutal torture.”

With the end of slavery came an immediate need to criminalize African Americans to ensure a bustling—and free—labor force. Chomsky notes “that blacks were arrested without real cause and prisoners were put to work for these business interests. The system provided a major contribution to the rapid industrial development from the late 19th century.”

More recently, Reagan helped drive this process of profiteering off the criminalizing of black bodies through the war on drugs. Chomsky says the policy “initiated a new Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander’s apt term for the revived criminalization of black life, evident …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Uncounted: Why the Government Can't Keep Track of the Number of People Killed by Police

March 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Tom McCarthy, The Guardian

After a year of high-profile police killings, calls for a national database have gained traction. But how would that work?


A year ago, in a bureaucratic shift that went unremarked in the somnolent days before Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri, the US government admitted a disturbing failure. The top crime-data experts in Washington had determined that they could not properly count how many Americans die each year at the hands of police. So they stopped.

The move did not make headlines. Before Brown was killed, a major government effort to count people killed by police could be mothballed without anybody noticing. The program was never fully funded, and no one involved was accustomed to their technical daily work drawing a spotlight. 

But it had been a major effort. For the better part of a decade, a specialized team of statisticians within the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – number-crunchers working several nesting dolls deep inside the Justice Department – had been collecting data on what they called arrest-related deaths. The ARD tally was more than a count of killings by police. It was meant to be the elusive key to a problem that seemed easy to understand but difficult to define. The program set out to track any death, of anyone, that happened in the presence of a local or state law enforcement officer.

A victim like Michael Brown, shot dead in the process of arrest, would make the count. A victim like Akai Gurley, shot dead in Brooklyn not in the process of arrest, would make the count. A victim like Eric Garner, choked and squeezed to death on Staten Island in the process of arrest, would make the count. A victim like Tamir Rice, shot dead in Cleveland at 12 years old with no arrest attempt made at all, would make the count, along with many other victims.

These people would make the US government’s authoritative count of people killed by police. If the count still existed. Which it does not. 

With some states never participating, and major police departments such as the NYPD …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

5 Horrific Things Fraternities Have Done Just in the Last Week

March 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Pernicious fraternity culture goes way beyond the racist SAE chant.


About a week ago, video footage surfaced of members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon gleefully singing a song they had clearly been taught by other members of SAE – who had no doubt been taught it by those who came before them – called “There will never be a n*gger in SAE.” We know that there was likely a proud tradition of SAE members singing this song, because everyone clearly knew the words during the boisterous rendition. Also, for anyone who knows anything about fraternities, the idea that a frat would be engaging in awful behavior – racist, sexist or otherwise, because there are really too many varieties to list here – should come as no surprise. Yes, I’m sure there is at least one frat that is not just plain awful. #NotAllFrats or whatever. But they are mostly just The Worst.

Anyway, after very nearly two centuries of frats behaving terribly in America, this one video seems to have opened the floodgates for recognition of their bad behavior. In the week since the Oklahoma University SAE “scandal”  – if we’re calling video footage of things everyone already knows about a “scandal” – frats have been getting busted left and right on being, to reiterate, actual living nightmares. Here’s a roundup of some of the embarrassing Greek activity over the last few days:

1) Pi Kappa Alpha Member Found Dead, University of South Carolina Suspends Chapter

The body of an 18-year-old member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of South Carolina was found in the chapter’s house on March 18. There’s no official cause of death yet, according to local NBC affiliate WISTV, but an autopsy and toxicology test are currently underway. The body was found the morning after neighbors reported the house held a large party, and St. Patrick’s Day decorations were still up in places. USC will not identify the young man before receiving “official confirmation” from the coroner’s office. The frat, in the meantime, has been placed on “administrative suspension.”

2) Another Chapter of the Same Frat Was …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Ashley Judd Is Far From Alone—Most Women Who Talk About Sports on Twitter Face Abuse

March 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Melissa Jacobs, The Guardian

This is the real March, and every other month, Madness!


I write professionally about American football, and I tweet a lot on a variety of football-related topics. So I get that many male National Football League fans who don’t know that I’ve been covering the league for almost a decade might assume that I have no clue what a Cover 3 defensive scheme is. I don’t get being told “my face looks like a football” after tweeting a joke about the Jacksonville Jaguars possibly moving to London, getting called a “cunt” in response to football analysis or receiving the most untempting sexual invitations imaginable.

Being told to “go put on an apron” when opining on a bad pass interference call is actually kind of comical; being told to suck someone’s dick is flat out abuse.

Thus, when actress, activist and Kentucky Wildcats superfan Ashley Judd announced that she is pressing charges after she received a number of misogyny-laced threats following an innocuous tweet about “Arkansas playing dirty” during last Sunday’s SEC Championship, I was cautiously optimistic. The threats were vile, disappointing and cringe-worthy – but as any woman who exists within the megasphere of sports understands, not surprising.

When it comes to women writing about sports, the harassment is not only there, it comes with a special brand of archaic machismo and frequent and disgusting trolling. While sexism gotten much better for us within the industry, women in sports often still need a very thick skin when it comes to interacting with the public.

And famous women have it much worse than me. In the midst of the Ray Rice scandal, ESPN’s Michelle Beadle criticized colleague Stephen A Smith after his asinine suggestion that women tend to provoke domestic violence. The response she received was so hate-filled and misogynist even by the standards of harassment in sports journalism that Beadle’s frightening mentions made news of their own.

If you’re a woman talking about sports on social media, the only way to avoid harassment is to fake your gender. If Kentucky fan “Judd Ashton” – with a bio picture of Wildcat head coach John Calipari – suggested that Arkansas was playing dirty last weekend he might be told he’s a moron or to fuck off, but he would never receive the sexually-charged threats that …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Removing State-Based Obstacles to Affordable Healthcare

March 19, 2015 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

As Americans continue to experience the painful consequences of Obamacare, look for mounting political pressure to replace it with reforms that make health care truly more affordable, enhance patient choice, and restore the patient-doctor relationship.  But not all the action has to take place in Washington; much needs to happen in the states.

And there is no reason why it can’t start now. States can begin by repealing “Certificate of Need” (CON) laws. These are outdated and counterproductive laws which encourage cronyism, increase costs, and detract from the quality of health care.

Certificate-of-need laws require anyone wanting to open or expand a healthcare facility to prove to a regulator that the community “needs” it. Once they prove such a need, the state grants them a certificate which lets them operate. In some states the micromanaging can extend down to the level of expanding offices or adding new equipment. In North Carolina, for example, the state Department of Health and Human Services must approve the addition of basic necessities such as hospital beds.

We don’t have to wait for our representatives in Washington to fix our health care mess.”

My state of Arizona repealed its CON laws years ago, but these regulations are still present in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Legislators once thought they would tamp down health care costs by preventing unnecessary and duplicative expenditures. But instead, the certificate-granting process effectively grants monopoly privileges to existing hospitals and facilities—increasing costs in the process.

When a new provider petitions for a certificate, established providers are usually invited to testify against their would-be competitors. This means that some health care practices can openly challenge the right to exist of any practice that might hurt their bottom line. Indeed, hospital administrators openly admit that protection against competition thanks to CON laws has become an integral part of their business model.

Large hospitals and other medical incumbents have another advantage: They can afford the lengthy and expensive process while smaller, newer health care providers cannot. Getting state approval for a certificate of need can take years or even over a decade, including appeals and re-appeals. In a place like Washington state, the application fee alone can cost  tens of thousands of dollars. All of this discourages new entrants who lack the legal and financial resources to run the certificate-of-need obstacle course.

Always beware when the fox is pleased …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

The GOP's Budgetary Shenanigans Discourage Necessary Pentagon Reform

March 19, 2015 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

The civil war being fought within the Republican Party over Pentagon spending came to a head this week, as the House Budget Committee proposed a spending level technically in line with Budget Control Act (BCA) limits that actually skirts those caps by loading additional monies into the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.

Pentagon spending boosters are likely to claim victory. It is actually a defeat for fiscal responsibility and strategic good sense. Busting the budget caps virtually ensures that necessary reforms within the Pentagon will be kicked down the road, and likewise discourages a serious reconsideration of the military’s roles and missions. And the committee’s shenanigans clearly defy the spirit of the BCA, which is rightly credited with slowing the growth of government.

U.S. military spending—the Pentagon’s base budget, excluding the cost of our recent wars—remains near historic highs. Under the bipartisan BCA caps passed in 2011, U.S. taxpayers will still spend more on the military (in inflation-adjusted dollars) in each of the next five years than we spent, on average, during the Cold War.

The Department of Defense will continue to avoid hard choices if the war hawks prevail and gut spending caps.”

But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. (R-Texas), the respective chairs of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, think we’re spending too little. In a widely cited op ed in the Wall Street Journal last week, they called on Republicans to support a $577 billion defense budget, or $78 billion more than the BCA limits. Tom Cotton faulted McCain and Thornberry for being too stingy. The nation’s survival, Arkansas’s freshman senator suggested in his first floor speech, would be dangerously imperiled if we didn’t spend at least $611 billion next year, plus whatever extra was needed to fight the nation’s wars.

McCain, Thornberry, and Cotton want much more military spending because they believe the world is too dangerous, and the U.S. military is too small to deal with the dangers. But today’s threats are relatively modest and manageable compared with our recent past. And while the U.S. military is smaller than in 2010, or 1990, it is not necessarily too small.

Consider the question just in terms of the number of men and women serving on active duty. In 1952, at the height of the Korean War, active duty personnel peaked at 3.6 million. In 1968, during the Vietnam War, the number of active duty personnel reached 3.5 million. …read more

Source: OP-EDS