You are browsing the archive for 2015 October 05.

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Watch: Prayer Won't Stop Gun Violence, Gun Reform Will

October 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Brave New Films

There's a correlation between the politicians who only share their thoughts and prayers after gun violence and taking money from the NRA.


Dear United States Congress,

Praying won’t end this epidemic, passing common-sense gun laws will.

Common Sense Gun Laws Like:

-Passing universal background checks

-Requiring a license for each and every firearm

-Stopping access to ammunition online and requiring in-store purchasing

-Applying waiting periods to the purchase of a gun.

The NRA has contributed $20.7 million dollars to politicians since 1990 – it is no coincidence that congress has failed to DO ANYTHING in that time.

But enough is enough. Guns in America are a clear public health crisis, with almost 300 mass shooting THIS YEAR. 

Congress, pass common-sense gun laws NOW!

 

SIGN THE PETITION

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Source: ALTERNET

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Oregon Shooter’s Mother Hoarded Guns, Feared Confiscation

October 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Laurel Harper bragged of her gun collection online and favored the open carry laws that allow the carrying of weapons without concealment.


More details have emerged about Chris Harper-Mercer, who went on a shooting spree at a community college in Oregon on Thursday before being killed himself.

His mother, Laurel Harper, has been revealed to be an avid gun collector. At least 14 weapons were found in the apartment shared by mother and son. Laurel Harper reportedly wrote on Facebook about her gun collection, her fears of gun confiscation and her support of open carry laws, which allow citizens to carry weapons without having to conceal them.

“I moved from So. Calif. to Oregon, from South Crime-a-mania to open carry,” she wrote.

A woman who hired Harper as a nurse to care for her teenage son noted, “She said she had multiple guns and believed wholeheartedly in the Second Amendment and wanted to get all the guns she could before someone outlawed them.” 

All of this came as news to the father, who hadn’t seen his ex-wife and son since 2013. “How was he able to compile that kind of arsenal?” Ian Mercer asked. “If [my son] had not been able to get hold of 13 guns, this wouldn’t have happened.”

News reports have pointed to the fact that the 26-year-old Harper-Mercer had mental health issues going back to his teenage years, when he attended a high school for students with learning disabilities and emotional difficulties.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Law Firm Representing Kim Davis Declared a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

October 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Scott Eric Kaufman, Salon

The Liberty Counsel and its leader, Mat Staver, are behind “religious liberty” campaigns in many states.


The Liberty Counsel — the group that’s representing Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis — has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Associated Press’ Claire Galofaro reports.

According to the SPLC, the group and its leader, Mat Staver, have virulently opposed all LGBTQ rights legislation under the aegis of “religious freedom” — it’s even defended Scott Lively, who “played an instrumental part in the Ugandan parliament’s adoption of a draconian anti-LGBT bill that originally included the death penalty in some instances.”

According to Staver, hate crimes legislation is the equivalent of “‘thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience” and “have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior.”

The Liberty Counsel has come under fire for its management of Davis, first after Staver claimed that an image of 100,000 people in Peru were gathered to pray for Davis — they were not, a fact for which Staver blamed a “miscommunication” with Peruvian officials — and later for misrepresenting Davis’ meeting with Pope Francis.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, said that “a group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line.” Staver, not surprisingly, disagreed, saying that “it is irresponsible and reckless to call someone a hate group because you disagree with them.”

Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and an ordained minister, told the Associated Press that the group is more interested in garnering its clients publicity than winning their cases.

“I’ve lost the ability to be surprised at how easy it is to become the next Joan of Arc,” he said. “When you make heroes out of people who refuse to accept the rule of law and who fail to acknowledge the dignity of other human beings, you are on a very dangerous path.”

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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AlterNet Comics: Brian McFadden on How Republicans Would Fight Abortion in Outer Space

October 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Brian McFadden, AlterNet

There's been some big developments lately.


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Source: ALTERNET

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Sanders Blasts The Trans-Pacific Partnership

October 5, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

A TPP agreement reached over the weekend draws a vow of action in the Senate from the populist presidential hopeful.


Over the weekend, 11 nations reached a final agreement in Atlanta on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a wide-ranging deal that would expand corporate rights across member states to the detriment of worker rights, the environment and public health.

But the agreement between heads of states does not mean that the TPP is a done deal. All of these countries must now secure legislative approval.

Although the U.S. Congress voted to give President Obama “fast-track authority,” meaning the body gave up its power to amend the agreement and must simply vote yes or no, that is not a guarantee that the TPP will get the votes it needs.

Standing in the way are presidential politics. For one, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has long opposed the agreement, and he made clear that he continues to oppose it in a statement today, saying he was “disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs.

“Wall Street and other big corporations have won again,” Sanders continued. “It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”

Sanders also said he will “do all that [he] can to defeat this agreement,” signaling an upcoming fight in Congress that will likely be amplified by the politics of the presidential race.

On the other side, GOP front runner Donald Trump opposes the agreement, which could put real pressure on House and Senate Republicans not to approve it.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Final TPP Agreement Is Welcome News

October 5, 2015 in Economics

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday reached final agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), concluding years of negotiations.  Cato scholar Daniel J. Ikenson calls the announcement welcome news: “Congratulations are in order for the negotiators of the TPP who worked extremely hard to arrive at this moment. Achieving agreement between 12 countries at different levels of economic development with disparate policy objectives on a broad array of subjects isn’t for the feint of heart.”  Ikenson says a vote in Congress to ratify the agreement is likely to occur sometime between July 2016 and January 2017.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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The Real Victims of Endless Financial Regulations

October 5, 2015 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Grand Cayman — Government is supposed to make life better for people — particularly the poor — but the U.S. and European governments are increasing the misery of the poor.

In the popular culture, Cayman is viewed as place were tax evaders and money launderers put their wealth. The truth is quite different in that most money laundering takes place in the big financial centers like London and New York, not Cayman. For many years, Cayman has had information exchange agreements with the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury and the major European governments — so one would be very foolish to put money in a Cayman bank with the intent of not getting caught for tax evasion or money laundering.

Cayman is a high-income jurisdiction as a result of having a prosperous financial sector (having nothing to do with illegal activity), a vibrant tourist industry, and an increasingly diversified economy. Like most high-income places in the world (including the United States), it relies on foreign workers to fill many of the jobs, particularly in the construction and hotel industries. These workers typically send back part of their earnings to their families in their home countries — which are known as remittances. Remittances are correctly regarded as the best form of “foreign aid” because they go primarily to people who really need the money, without government or nongovernmental organization middlemen who take their cut. Remittances often provide the seed capital for people to start businesses in their home countries to make their lives better.

Most of the remittances from workers in the United States go to those living in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and the Philippines. In Europe, most of the remittances go to those living in Africa, India and the Middle East. Without remittances, the poor countries of the world would be much poorer and the refugee problems would be much greater. Typically, foreign workers in rich countries send funds to relatives in their home countries by money transfer companies, such as Western Union, often known as cambios.

Targeting money launderers, the tax globalists hit the working poor.”

As a result of the new financial regulations, most notably the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), imposed by the U.S. and European governments, banks are shutting down the accounts the remittance services have with them. Banks transmit monies between each other through what are known as corresponding accounts. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Xi-Obama Summit: Modest Achievements and Missed Opportunities

October 5, 2015 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Expectations were modest for the summit meetings in Washington between China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama, and the results matched those restrained expectations. Fortunately, the Obama administration spurned the calls of Republican hawks, including presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, to adopt a highly confrontational stance in the talks. Rubio (along with former candidate Scott Walker) had even urged the president to rescind the invitation he had given to Xi for a state visit. That action would have been an egregious insult to the Chinese government and people and caused serious damage to the bilateral relationship. Instead, the atmosphere throughout the talks was cordial and businesslike.

Some limited but worthwhile substantive achievements emerged from the state visit. The two leaders signed an agreement to curb the worst practices of cyber espionage, which had become one of Washington’s prominent grievances. The agreement is mostly symbolic, since it is not long on specifics about what constitutes prohibited activities, and there are no enforcement mechanisms to deal with violations. It is primarily a statement of peaceful intent, and that is probably the best outcome that one could have expected from this round of diplomacy.

The reality is that all major powers engage in systematic espionage, including cyber espionage, and China and the United States are no exceptions. The revelations by both Wikileaks and Edward Snowden show conclusively that Washington spies on adversaries and allies alike. Consequently, the growing expressions of outrage at China’s cyber snooping are more than a little hypocritical.

At the same time, there is a crucial difference between cyber espionage and cyber vandalism. U.S. officials are understandably concerned about indications that Chinese intelligence operatives may have been be responsible for hacking episodes that sought to disrupt important American computer systems. A disruption of the electric power grid, for example, could take down the U.S. financial system, or if it occurred in winter and knocked out residential and commercial heating systems, could cause massive suffering and even loss of life.

The problem of North Korea was perhaps the biggest missed opportunity in Xi’s visit.”

Seeking common ground on this issue is important, and the new agreement does so. Both sides especially needed to provide assurances that their personnel will not cross the line from espionage into cyber vandalism, and that both governments will, in fact, take affirmative steps to prevent such conduct. Although the operative …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Russia Follows U.S. Script and Intervenes in Syria: Vladimir Putin Wrecks Washington's Mideast Plans

October 5, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Vladimir Putin opened a new game of high stakes geopolitical poker. He is using military force to support Syria’s President Bashir Assad and counter U.S. backing for Assad’s opponents.

Russia’s intervention could, and likely will, turn out badly, but Washington has no complaint. America has been meddling in Syria’s tragic civil war from the start with little effect, other than to impede a negotiated settlement. Moscow has the same geopolitical “right” to make a mistake.

At the end of the Cold War Washington was anointed as the “unipower,” “indispensable” and “essential” nation, and “sole superpower,” and acted as such. The U.S. intervened anywhere anytime for any reason. Washington considered international support, whether from the United Nations, NATO, or the “willing,” to be convenient but wholly unnecessary.

Of course, the U.S. insisted that only it could act this way. Everyone else was obligated to follow America’s lead. Further, Washington decreed that aggressive U.S. military action—against Serbia, for instance—should not be considered a precedent by others. America not only got to attack any nation for any reason. Only America got to attack any nation for any reason.

But that world has passed away. Perhaps more than any recent event, Russia’s dramatic intervention on behalf of Syria’s beleaguered Assad government formally buries any illusion that “what Washington says goes,” even in the Middle East.

Moscow has moved military forces to Syria and begun bombing regime opponents. Instead of focusing on the Islamic State, as it initially claimed, Russia targeted “moderate” insurgents backed by the U.S. and other Western governments. Sounding almost like the George W. Bush administration, the Putin government insisted that it was fighting terrorism and there really wasn’t a “moderate opposition.” Rather, you either stood with the Assad regime or with terrorists. Although Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted that his government was fighting terrorism, not “defending the regime,” Moscow obviously views defending the regime as the best way to fight terrorism.

This is not likely to be a short-term commitment. As America unfortunately discovered, fighting “terrorism” can be a well-nigh permanent occupation. Moreover, having put its credibility on the line Moscow cannot easily disengage, irrespective of the cost.

Vladimir Putin opened a new game of high stakes geopolitical poker.”

Russia also has indicated its willingness to get involved in Iraq, whose authorities praised Moscow’s Syria participation. Said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi: “Our message to the Russians—I met with Putin—please join this fight against Daesh.” The …read more

Source: OP-EDS