You are browsing the archive for 2015 April 06.

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I Called Him Pathetic—He Said I Ruined His Life. What Parenthood Did to My Marriage

April 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Lauren Apfel, Salon

Where there is conception, there is risk.


Do you remember the public service campaign from the 1980s? A man walks over to the stove, picks up an egg and holds it between forefinger and thumb. “This is your brain,” he says, before emptying the shell’s contents into a hot pan where it begins to fry. “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

I think of that advertisement often when I try to explain to my childless friends, those on the brink of becoming unchildless, what having young kids does to a marriage. I don’t want to scare them, and I’m aware my experience is hardly universal. But I want to color a realistic picture, so they aren’t blindsided like I was. The same way I tell them about the blood after birth and the cracked nipples and the dark sea of exhaustion.

I’ve played around with different metaphors. Children are untold pressure, I say, lava bubbling beneath the surface of the otherwise unbroken rock of marriage. Children are a crucible, I say, able to withstand dizzyingly high temperatures themselves but drop a marriage in their midst and it will melt. Wherever the poetry takes me on a given occasion, I always come back to the image of the egg. What was once whole and smooth is now cracked and sizzling with resentment. Marriage on children is a process of irreversible change.

My husband and I used have a pristine shell. We were one of those couples, annoying in our insularity, our us-ness. We were both academics. We talked philosophy at the dinner table. We sat in opposite rooms of our flat, typing furiously across the hall from one another, doors ajar. “What’s another word for ‘conjure’?” I would ask, flexing my fingers and leaning back in my chair so I could catch his eye. “Magic!” he would say. And we would smile at each other and return, heads down, to our respective writing.

For most of my 20s I said I didn’t want children. Neither of us did. But my husband is eight years older than I am and as his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Cop Claims He Doesn't Remember Firing 15 Shots Into a Car Leaving Two Dead

April 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

At one point, Officer Michael Brelo discussed the event he now claims to have no memory of.


A Cleveland police officer is claiming that he doesn’t remember standing on the hood of a car and firing 15 shots into the vehicle that left its two passengers dead in the aftermath of a 2012 high-speed chase, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Michael Brelo, 31, goes on trial today on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, back in November 2012. He is the only officer of 13 cops who fired 137 shots in total at the car who is being criminally prosecuted; Brelo fired 49 shots during the ordeal.

At least 100 rounds total struck the Malibu.

The chase began after a failed traffic stop near downtown Cleveland. Russell sped off and, during some point in the chase, the Malibu backfired, investigators concluded. But witnesses and cops claimed to have heard gunshots, which prompted an officer’s radio call about shots being fired. More than 104 cops in 60 police vehicles pursued Russell and Williams’ car at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

The chase ended in the parking lot of a middle school in East Cleveland where Russell and Williams found themselves trapped. Russell tried to flee down the school’s driveway but was met by police cruisers. An officer claiming that he feared for his life when the car drove towards him fired the first shots, which prompted Brelo and other officers to fire their weapons. Brelo and his partner fired 15 shots through their own windshield before Brelo got out of his car, jumped on another cruiser and resumed firing.

Prosecutors claim that Brelo jumped on the hood of the Malibu and fired 15 more shots into the windshield. No officer's life was remotely in danger at that point, the prosecution says. The defense claims the officers' actions were reasonable, arguing that all 49 shots Brelo fired were justified and that the threat wasn’t over until he reached into the car and removed the keys.

Neither Williams nor Russell was armed.

Two …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Cato University 2015

April 6, 2015 in Economics

Cato University is the Cato Institute’s premier educational event of the year. This annual program – held this year at Cato in Washington, DC – brings together outstanding faculty and participants from across the country and, often, from around the globe – all sharing a commitment to liberty and learning. In a time of pitched battles over critical policy issues, our nation’s capital is the perfect setting to examine the roots of our commitment to limited government.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Far More Whites Believe It's Okay for Cops to Hit People than Blacks and Latinos

April 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

Study: 70 percent of whites approve of cops striking suspects.


Seventy percent of white people approve of police officers striking people, far out numbering the percentage of black and Hispanic people who feel the same, according to 2014 General Social Survey.

At least 7 in 10 white people polled in the study believe there are situations that call for a police officer using force against a male citizen. Only 42 percent of black people and 38 percent of Latinos feel the same.

Here are some more more highlights from the study, as detailed by the Associated Press:

  • Sixty-nine percent of white people and 50 percent of Hispanic people approve of officers hitting suspects trying escape custody, but only 42 percent of black people agree.

  • Sixty-six percent of white people are OK with the death penalty being used against convicted murderers; 44 percent of black people and 48 percent of Hispanic people agree.

  • Hispanic, white and black people seemed to approve of cops hitting suspects, if they are attacked with fists. Nine in 10 whites approve; 74 percent of Hispanic and white people approve.

  • Twenty-four percent of black people approve of hitting a murder suspect who is being questioned, while 18 percent of Hispanics and 12 percent of whites approve.  

The results of the study aren’t surprising, given how black and Hispanic people are disproportionately killed by cops and hyper-policed when compared to white citizens. In December, an NBC/Marist College poll reported that 52 percent of white people have a “great deal” of confidence that officers in their communities treat white and black people the same; Only 12 percent of black people agreed with that sentiment.

“My strong sense is that African Americans and Hispanics have too often experienced or have heard of experiences of police officers acting unfairly, so they're less willing to support the use of force by police officers,” Charles R. Epp, a University of Kansas professor whose research focuses on race and police stops, told the Associated Press. “They're not sure it will be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Black Woman Activist Faces Charges of 'Lynching' for Protest Activities

April 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Anita Chabria, The Guardian

The outrageous charge seems like a deliberate perversion of history, and an attempt to quell activism.


Maile Hampton, the African American activist who was arrested for “lynching” after trying to pull a fellow protester away from police during a January rally against law enforcement brutality in Sacramento, has a large black butterfly tattooed across her neck.

Below it, scrawling script reads: “Have faith in me.”

It means: “Have faith that I am here to change the world,” said the 20-year-old with a youthful mix of passion and innocence. She got it about a year ago, around the same time she began to be politically active, she said.

That optimism will be tested when Hampton heads into court on 9 April, facing a charge that carries the possibility of four years in prison and a lifetime of being labeled a felon.

Video of the rally shows police tussling with a protester in the street while activists on the sidewalk yell: “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” 

A woman who appears to be Hampton enters the street, carrying a bullhorn. She grabs the handle of a sign held by the protester being detained by police and attempts to pull it away from an officer who is also holding it. She is then pushed away by other officers. 

Hampton’s arrest – and sensational-sounding charge – made headlines. California’s lynching law was put on the books in 1933, to prevent mobs from forcibly taking people from police custody for vigilante justice.

But the statute has long been used against protesters as well, by police if not prosecutors. In 1999, anti-fur protesters in San Francisco who blocked access to a Neiman Marcus store in Union Square were charged under the lynching law. Prosecutors declined to take the case to court. 

In 2011, police in Oakland used it against members of the Occupy movement, arresting at least two activists, Tiffany Tran and Alex Brown, on the count during a sweep of a public plaza. The charges were dropped.

In 2012, police in Los Angeles also used the lynching law against Occupy, when an activist named Sergio Ballesteros was accused of intervening …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why We Need the SEC's 'Bad Actor' Waivers

April 6, 2015 in Economics

By Thaya Knight

Thaya Knight

For those suspicious of the big banks, there’s a new bugbear in town: the Securities and Exchange Commission’s practice of granting waivers to individuals and companies that have violated federal securities laws. These waivers permit individuals and firms to participate in securities activities from which they would otherwise be barred. Critics argue that the SEC gives waivers too easily and that the largest financial firms tend to benefit disproportionately, all at risk of enshrining a policy that some firms are “too big too bar.”

But there is little evidence to support these claims. On the contrary, the evidence suggests we should welcome these waivers, encourage firms and individuals to request them, and perhaps even narrow the circumstances under which they might be required in the first place.

In general, a company that wants to sell securities must register with the SEC and must comply with a notoriously complex set of disclosure requirements. This registration process alone can cost millions of dollars and require many hours of work from the company, its lawyers and underwriters, and the SEC staff.

Congress should take care to ensure that any new record-keeping requirements serve to inform the public and not to discourage defendants from requesting waivers.”

Because these requirements are so onerous, federal securities laws include a number of exemptions that permit issuers to use a more streamlined process to offer their securities to investors. These exemptions exist for offerings that are believed to present a lower risk of fraud — for example, because the company has a large public float and is well-known to the market, because the securities are not being offered to the public, or because the offering will be fairly small.

The SEC’s bad actor provisions automatically disqualify firms and individuals that break certain securities laws from using these streamlined processes. The idea is that firms that have violated these laws have shown themselves to be dishonest and therefore cannot be trusted to use the exemptions appropriately. The SEC, however, has the authority to waive the disqualification for defendants who can show good cause as to why the disqualification shouldn’t apply to them. The decision to grant a waiver is currently made by SEC staff involved in the enforcement action that resulted in the disqualification. Often, the waiver is granted as part of a settlement agreement.

Recently proposed legislation would require SEC commissioners themselves approve any waiver. The SEC would …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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WATCH: John Oliver Employs Brilliant Tactic to Get Edward Snowden to Explain Why NSA Surveillance Matters

April 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

The famous whistleblower confirms that the government is collecting 'd*ck pics.'


John Oliver brilliantly exposed how ignorant Americans are about Edward Snowden's revelations that our government is spying on us, and finally put the problem in terms that everyone can understand: dick pics. 

Yeupp, the government can and does collect dick pics.

This is not a trivial matter. Sunday night, Oliver devoted the entire half hour of his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” to the matter of domestic surveillance, and the upcoming vote in Congress about whether to reauthorize the Patriot Act, including its provision allowing the government to collect our private information. 

The trouble is that Americans seem really ill-informed about the whole matter of domestic surveillance, as Oliver illustrates with on-the-street interviews. They also seem not to know exactly who whistleblower Edward Snowden is.

Enter Edward Snowden. No really, he really does enter. John Oliver flew all the way to Russia to interview, “the biggest hero, or biggest traitor, depending on your perspective,” sweated out an hour delay during which Oliver realized he was directly across from a former KGB building, and then finally got Snowden to explain what the NSA is doing in terms everyone can understand.

Snowden maintained his dignity as he explained exactly how “your junk gets caught up in the government's database.” It is not to be missed.

Now, maybe people will care.

Watch the full half hour:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Restoring the Rule of Law

April 6, 2015 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Last week, the Obama Justice Department declined to press charges against former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner — even though there was overwhelming evidence that she had targeted conservative groups and may have been complicit in destroying her emails. She also waived her Fifth Amendment privilege by proclaiming her innocence before a congressional committee and then refused to answer questions. It is possible that for some unknown reason Ms. Lerner’s case should have been dropped, but to many it appeared that once again President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder were applying the rule of law selectively.

Concealing information from Congress is considered a major offense, punishable by fines and significant jail time. The evidence seems to be overwhelming that some in the IRS and the Department of Justice have concealed information from Congress. In fact, Mr. Holder was cited for contempt of Congress for withholding information. The rule of law breaks down when those charged with enforcing the law are, in fact, violators of it.

Government officials should live within the rules they impose on the public.”

We now know that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton withheld at least some of her emails from Congress despite pledging full cooperation back in 2012 regarding the Benghazi disaster, and she failed to use U.S. government email servers as she was required to do. Again, these are serious crimes that someone less influential than Mrs. Clinton might well go to jail for — yet she most likely will be given a pass. Mr. Obama has taken many actions contrary to the rule of law. One can go on the Internet to obtain long lists of these alleged violations, many of which are now being litigated. One of the cases that the courts have already settled was Mr. Obama’s outrageous claim that he, not Congress, would decide when it was in session. By making the false claim thatCongress was not in session, he improperly made “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and others, which the courts then reversed, along with decisions made by the board when it was composed of illegal members.

Sustained economic progress is near impossible without the rule of law. Historically, people have been governed by arbitrary decisions of rulers or by laws that are readily understood, equally applicable to all (including the lawmakers), and only changed by a formal and open process. The concept of the rule of law goes back at least to ancient Greece. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Is Rand Paul a Real Libertarian?

April 6, 2015 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Senator Rand Paul’s now official presidential campaign is bringing new attention to libertarian ideas. At least to some libertarians, the first question is whether Rand Paul is in fact a libertarian.

I know a lot of libertarians declaring that although they supported Representative Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, they can’t back his son in his more plausible 2016 campaign.

They say Rand isn’t really a libertarian. Sometimes they point out that he has never described himself as a libertarian. He told a Harvard audience that he’s “libertarian-ish” and wants “a libertarian influence in the Republican Party.” He told Sean Hannity on Fox that he’s happy to be called “either libertarian conservative or constitutional conservative.”

On a broad range of issues, from spending and regulation to government spying, drug wars and military intervention, he has a more libertarian policy agenda than any major candidate in memory.”

The question of whether Rand Paul is a libertarian is irrelevant. As someone who has been deeply involved in the libertarian movement for decades, I know libertarians disagree on the question. We have good reason, given his father and his background, to believe that deep down he is a libertarian who modifies his public positions to remain politically viable in the Republican Party.

Alternatively, he could be entirely sincere in his public positions, both the libertarian ones and the not so libertarian ones. The reason this is irrelevant is because he is operating in the Senate and in his campaign on a particular set of issues, and in all likelihood that’s how he would govern if elected president.

What matters for his campaign is whether he can find a winning coalition for that combination of issues. Is there support for a candidate who is more libertarian than his opponents?

Paul was elected to the Senate in 2010 on the momentum of his father’s very libertarian campaign. Unlike his father, he’s not running for president to educate and mobilize. He is running to win.

He has decided to work within the system and nudge the GOP in a libertarian direction on the issues where progress is (politically) possible. He pushes for a real commitment to smaller government and less spending, introducing a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Along with a growing number of conservatives, he’s trying to move our criminal justice system away from mandatory minimums and mass incarceration. He’s campaigning against indiscriminate surveillance and …read more

Source: OP-EDS