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Sen. Rand Paul Introduces the Harbor Equity Act

March 23, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today reintroduced the Harbor Equity Act. This legislation modifies the existing criteria used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge small harbors. Currently, the Corps’ prioritizes dredging solely for larger harbors that see 1 million or more tons in traffic per year – often forcing small community harbors to fund their own dredging or be forced to shut down operations. The Harbor Equity Act will drop the minimum tonnage requirements and prioritize smaller harbors for dredging rather than just larger, commercial harbors. ‘The interconnectedness of the inland waterway system requires dredging of the smaller connecting harbors for an efficient transport of goods. The Corps’ current system makes dredge work for small harbors in Kentucky far from certain. Serving as the backbone for their local commerce, the closure of these harbors have significant and long-lasting impacts on the families in these communities. My bill will protect smaller ports from potentially facing shut-downs, by ensuring they are considered for the Corps’ dredging efforts,’ Sen. Paul said. Click HERE to read the Harbor Equity Act in its entirety. …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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25 Hilarious Twitter Suggestions for Ted Cruz' Campaign Slogan

March 23, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Sarah Palin's annoying brother and so much more!


Immediately after Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced via Twitter Sunday night that he is seeking the presidency, Twitter exploded in mockery. The collected wisdom of Twitter wits came together to help Cruz with some winning slogans, bound to draw out the pinwheel hat wearing, gun-toting, nonsense-spewing constituents who gravitate to Cruz.

Here are 25 of the best suggestions under #TedCruzCampaignSlogans. Sure hope Cruz is paying attention.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Why Did Ted Cruz Refuse to Disclose How Much His Wife—a VP at Goldman Sachs—Makes?

March 23, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

The Tea Party fave and presidential aspirant lacks transparency on this issue. Wonder why.


Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz has announced his intention to run for the presidency. He is widely expected to tap into the Tea Party base of the Republican party and posit himself as anti-establishment – in this case, an establishment that is too weak-kneed and too willing to compromise with the Democrats.

But a curious statement on Cruz's financial disclosure shows that he may not be so opposed to the establishment he rails against. See, Cruz's wife is a vice president at Goldman Sachs, the megabank so close to the powers in Washington that it is often jokingly referred to as “Government Sachs.” Because spousal income is shared, it is required for Members of Congress to list their spouse's employement if it gives them over $1,000. They are not required to list the exact income their spouse receives, but they are certainly allowed to if they are willing to be that transparent.

Cruz was not. Below you'll find a recent disclosure by the Senator. As you can see, he only lists his wife''s income as “Over $1,000.”

She's listed the same way in a May 2014 update:

Now, as we said before, Cruz is not required to list the exact amount his wife earned. But given the fact that he is as a Senator responsible for taking major votes on financial regulation and certainly as president that would be a big part of his duties to oversee the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it's certainly important information.

And his chief rival from the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, didlist her spouse's exact income while she was a Senator, because it was paid in honoraria, which through a loophole asks exact amounts paid.  Here's what a page from her financial disclosures looks like:

As you can see, Clinton listed the exact amounts paid to her husband, thanks to a loophole in the requirements, she was required to report this potentially embarrassing information, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Offensive Speech Is Valuable

March 23, 2015 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

In the wake of a University of Oklahoma fraternity caught on camera singing an abhorrent song about African Americans, a predictable assortment of critics of free speech have argued that the First Amendment should not protect offensive and racist speech. They are wrong. Offensive speech should not only be protected by the First Amendment, it should be seen as a valuable part of a free society.

In the Atlantic, Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield offered a typical argument against protecting offensive speech: “If the First Amendment has become so bloated, so ham-fisted, that it cannot distinguish between such filth and earnest public debate about race, then it is time we rethink what it means.”

Greenfield disagrees with what he considers the main argument for protecting offensive speech: the problem of demarcation and the slippery slope. That is, “we cannot trust the government to make choices about content on our behalf,” and thus prohibiting offensive speech will lead “down the slippery slope to tyranny.”

That’s one argument against giving government the power to censor, but it is not the only one. It is difficult to define offensive speech, true, but this argument seems to imply that if such a line could be drawn then banning offensive speech would be okay.

Even if offensive speech could be easily defined, it should not be prohibited. In an ideal world, offensive speech would roam freely.

Coincidentally, today the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a case about whether the government can prohibit speech on the theory that it “might be offensive to any member of the public.” That case concerns an application for a personalized license plate by the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans. The proposed plate design would have included a Confederate flag. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board voted not to issue the plate.

Just like drug laws, driving hate speech underground will do little to eliminate the habit, and could make the situation worse.”

The Court will first have to decide whether a license plate is government or private speech. In an amicus brief I co-authored in support of the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans—joined by humorist P.J. O’Rourke, Martin Garbus (one of comedian Lenny Bruce’s lawyers), the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and prominent First Amendment scholars—we argue that, if a license plate is private speech, then the government should not be allowed to prohibit a design based on …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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There's a Very Good Reason Why Black People Despise the Mainstream Media

March 23, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

New study shows how the media over-reports black crime and goes out of its way to hyper-criminalize us.


There is a reason why black people hate the media: they hyper-criminalize us.

According to a new study by Media Matters for America, four New York City television stations consistently reported crimes by black people at a higher rate than their arrest rates. Here it is in a chart:

Between August 18 and December 31 of last year, WCBS, WNBC, WABC, and WNYW (Fox) over-reported murders, thefts and assaults at rates that were inconsistent with NYPD statistics. Over the past four years, NYPD statistics show that black people were arrested in 54 percent of murders, 55 percent of thefts, and 49 percent of assaults.

But during that same time period, 74 percent of murder, 84 percent of robbery and 73 percent of assault suspects shown on the city’s four major networks were black. WABC aired the most disproportionate number of black criminal suspects while WNYW aired the least.

WNYW aired 41 crimes stories with black suspects while WABC ran reports with 212 suspects during that four-and-a-half-month period; WCBS and WNBC each ran stories with 140 suspects.

Given that New York City is the largest media market in the U.S and is the media center of the world, the results of this study are very disturbing. The pattern is both unmistakable and, from black people's point of view, intentional.

The study also cites previous data that reveals similar over-reporting of black crime suspects in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. The data reveals what black people have known for years: the media goes out of its way to criminalize us.

Over the weekend, #BlackTwitter mocked CNN with the hashtage #CNNBeLike because the network chose to run a mugshot of Otis Bird, a Mississippi man who was found hanging from a tree near a home belonging to his family.

After Mike Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, in Ferguson., Mo., #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, a hashtag in which users juxtaposed photos of themselves in graduation attire and other positive life moments …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Libertarians and the Struggle for Women's Rights

March 23, 2015 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

March is Women’s History Month, which reminds me of the role women played in launching the libertarian movement and the role that women with libertarian values have played in advancing women’s rights.

In the dark year of 1943, in the depths of World War II and the Holocaust, when the most powerful government in the history of the United States was allied with one totalitarian power to defeat another, three remarkable women published books that could be said to have given birth to the modern libertarian movement. Stephen Cox, Isabel Paterson’s biographer, writes that “women were more important to the creation of the libertarian movement than they were to the creation of any political movement not strictly focused on women’s rights.”

Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who had written Little House on the Prairie and other stories of American rugged individualism, published a passionate historical essay called The Discovery of Freedom. Isabel Paterson, a novelist and literary critic, produced The God of the Machine, which defended individualism as the source of progress in the world. And the most famous, Ayn Rand, published The Fountainhead.

The women were very different. You could hardly get more traditionally American than Lane, the daughter of the bestselling chronicler of the American frontier. She traveled throughout Europe as a journalist after World War I and lived for long periods in Albania. Paterson too was born to a poor farming in family, albeit in Canada. She made her way to Vancouver and then to New York City, where she became a prominent newspaper columnist. Ayn Rand was born in czarist Russia and came to the United States after the Communist takeover, determined to write novels and movie scripts in her adopted language.

A libertarian must necessarily be a feminist, in the sense of being an advocate of equality under the law for all men and women.”

The three women became friends, though the three strong-minded individualists eventually fell out over religious and political differences. By that time, though, the individualist tradition in America had been revived, and a fledgling movement was under way.

Paterson, Lane, and Rand were not, however, the first libertarian women to advocate for individual rights.

The equality and individualism that underlay the emergence of capitalism and republican government in the 18th century naturally led people to start thinking about the rights of women and of slaves, especially African American slaves in the United States. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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WATCH: John Oliver Rails Against Astronomical Municipal Fines that Ruin Poor People's Lives

March 23, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The 'Last Week Tonight' host offers an enraging look at how cities use exorbitant fines to create budgetary windfalls.


Debtors' prisons may seem like relics from the Dickensian era, but the concept still thrives in countless cities. John Oliver’s latest rant on Last Week Tonight looks at municipal fines in towns across America, and reveals how far too many cities have turned minor infractions into revenue-generating taxes on the poor.

Oliver launched his takedown by reviewing the recent Department of Justice report showing Ferguson, Missouri, basically used fines – from speeding to jaywalking tickets – coupled with massive surcharges to make the city money. For the poor who can’t afford such exorbitant fines, as Oliver points out, “tickets can wreck your life,” leading to debt and even arrest.

For example, Oliver cites the case of Dekalb County, Alabama, where a speeding ticket is $255 – nearly a week’s worth of earnings for someone who makes minimum wage. “The only justifiable way you should use an entire week of your life due to speeding is if you hit 88 miles an hour and go back in time,” Oliver said.

All this nonsense isn’t just bad for poor citizens, it’s often bad for municipalities as well. Examining the case of man who suffered both debt and incarcerations over stealing – wait for it – a single can of beer, Oliver took apart the cost to all involved: “A $2 can of beer, caused a $270 fine, which the city spent over $3,000 to try to enforce. But, you know what? It’s like they say: You gotta spend money to make money, to be able to jail people to lose money.”

Watch the clip below:

 

 

 

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Robert Reich Demolishes Myth that College Is Gateway to the Middle Class

March 23, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

The suffering kids experience over college admissions is intense and largely unnecessary.


I know a high school senior who’s so worried about whether she’ll be accepted at the college of her choice she can’t sleep.

The parent of another senior tells me he stands at the mailbox for an hour every day waiting for a hoped-for acceptance letter to arrive.

Parents are also uptight. I’ve heard of some who have stopped socializing with other parents of children competing for admission to the same university.

Competition for places in top-brand colleges is absurdly intense. With inequality at record levels and almost all the economic gains going to the top, there’s more pressure than ever to get the golden ring.

A degree from a prestigious university can open doors to elite business schools and law schools – and to jobs paying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, a year.

So parents who can afford it are paying grotesque sums to give their kids an edge.

They “enhance” their kids' resumes with such things as bassoon lessons, trips to wildlife preserves in Botswana, internships at the Atlantic Monthly. They hire test-prep coaches. They arrange for consultants to help their children write compelling essays on college applications.

They make generous contributions to the elite colleges they once attended, to which their kids are applying  – colleges that give extra points to “legacies” and even more to those from wealthy families that donate tons of money.

You might call this affirmative action for the rich.

The same intensifying competition is affecting mid-range colleges and universities that are doing everything they can to burnish their own brands – competing with other mid-range institutions to enlarge their applicant pools, attract good students, and inch upward on the U.S. News college rankings.

Every college president wants to increase the ratio of applications to admissions, thereby becoming more elite.

Excuse me, but this is nuts.

The biggest absurdity is that a four-year college degree has become the only gateway into the American middle class.

But not every young person is suited to four years of college. They may be bright and ambitious but they won’t get much out of it. They’d rather …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Our Unrealistic Foreign Policy

March 23, 2015 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

U.S. foreign policy is crippled by a dramatic disconnect between what Americans expects of it and what the nation’s leaders are giving them. If U.S. policymakers don’t address this gap, they risk pursuing a policy whose ends don’t match with the means the American people are willing to provide.

What is our foreign policy? Leadership. That word appears 35 times in President Obama’s latest National Security Strategy.

His predecessors have all wanted the same thing, although most managed to work in a few more synonyms.

At the dawn of the post-Cold War era, officials in the George H.W. Bush administration aspired for the United States to be the sole global power. Now that the nation’s long-time rival had disappeared, the object of U.S. foreign policy, according to an early draft of the Defense Planning Guidance, was to “prevent the re-emergence of a new rival” capable of challenging U.S. power in any vital area, including Western Europe, Asia, or the territory of the former Soviet Union. To accomplish this task, the United States would retain preponderant military power, not merely to deter attacks against the United States, but also to deter “potential competitors” — including long-time U.S. allies such as Germany and Japan — “from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

Echoing those sentiments a few years later, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan characterized the proper U.S. role in the world as “benevolent global hegemony.” “The aspiration to benevolent hegemony,” they conceded in their famous Foreign Affairs essay from 1996, “might strike some as either hubristic or morally suspect. But a hegemon is nothing more or less than a leader with preponderant influence and authority over all others in its domain.”

Kristol and Kagan claimed, “Most of the world’s major powers welcome U.S. global involvement and prefer America’s benevolent hegemony to the alternatives.” Indeed, they continued, “The principal concern of America’s allies these days is not that it will be too dominant but that it will withdraw.”

U.S. foreign policy is crippled by a dramatic disconnect between what Americans expects of it and what the nation’s leaders are giving them.”

That latter point has never been tested: U.S. troops have remained in Europe and Asia, and the U.S. military presence expanded in other regions. But whether it is good for others doesn’t necessarily make it good for us. For the most part, American taxpayers, and especially …read more

Source: OP-EDS