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Obama’s daring liberal agenda is neither daring nor liberal. Discuss.

Obama’s daring liberal agenda is neither daring nor liberal. Discuss. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpt from piece by Zachary A. GoldfarbWashington Post
 

Opinion polls show that on almost all of the major positions Obama espoused in his speech — entitlements, immigration, climate change and same-sex marriage — a majority of Americans agree with him.

By that measure, Obama did not advance a liberal agenda. A consequential one, certainly, but one that reflects centrist views or center-left ones at most. The agenda seems liberal only when judged against the liberal-conservative divide we’re used to in Washington.

Over the past four years, politics in the nation’s capital has been consumed by the fight between the president and tea party Republicans.

But because Obama is far closer to the center than the tea party is, what counts as middle ground in Washington is more conservative than the political center nationwide. In this setting, even centrist proposals face mighty legislative hurdles.


Beyond the capital’s divisions, citizens across the country resist the “liberal” label — even though polls showthat they tend to hold liberal positions on individual issues. Political scientists call this “symbolic” vs. “operational” ideology.


According to one poll, 74 percent of Americans support regulating greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. According to another, 68 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor. And other polls show that more than half of Americans favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a vast majority opposecuts in education or transportation funding, and a slim majority support same-sex marriage. [MORE]

Coffee Party USA's insight:

We're no longer a "center right nation." But is our national conversation framed by what the People think, or by what politicians, pundits, and lobbyists tell us we think? In the age of social media, how much longer will we allow them to tell us what we think? —Eric Byler

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Niccolo Casewit's curator insight, January 27, 2013 6:44 AM

We should not confuse the media with the people's opinion.

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Philadelphia cuts cooperation with ICE deportation police

Philadelphia cuts cooperation with ICE deportation police | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Published time: April 17, 2014 01:27


Philadelphia law enforcement officials will stop taking immigrants into custody on behalf of the federal government unless provided with a warrant. The news comes after city Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order on Wednesday.

Nutter’s order comes after police officers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in a number of other places throughout the US have spent years working on behalf of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, detaining immigrants not accused of any wrongdoing and providing them to ICE for deportation.


Read more at

http://rt.com/usa/philadelphia-cuts-ice-ties-020/



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​Walmart employees deliver chairman $7.8 bn 'tax bill' for company's tax breaks

​Walmart employees deliver chairman $7.8 bn 'tax bill' for company's tax breaks | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Protesting Walmart’s tax privileges as it pays its workers notoriously low wages, the store’s employees and others have delivered a $7.8 billion “tax bill” to the Arizona home of the retail giant’s chairman, Rob Walton.


Published time: April 17, 2014 02:19


Protesting Walmart’s tax privileges as it pays its workers notoriously low wages, the store’s employees and others have delivered a $7.8 billion “tax bill” to the Arizona home of the retail giant’s chairman, Rob Walton.

report released this week showed Walmart is the beneficiary of $7.8 billion a year in tax breaks and subsidies from the US tax system. Employees of the retail giant and others used the opportunity to remind Walmart heir Walton how many of the company's workers are forced to depend on social programs to get by, while Walmart reaps billions in profits.


Read more at 

http://rt.com/usa/walmart-tax-subsidies-breaks-028/



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New Data Illustrate Local Impact of Tax Credits for Working Families

New Data Illustrate Local Impact of Tax Credits for Working Families | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Jane R. Williams and Elizabeth Kneebone | April 15, 2014 11:22am


This Tax Day we want to draw your attention to newly-released resources that demonstrate the widespread impact of federal tax policies targeted to low- and moderate-income working families, particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

 

New IRS data for Tax Year 2012, now available through our EITC Interactive, show that in 2012, 26.2 million filers received the EITC, claiming an average credit of $2,359. Almost 60 percent (15.7 million) of EITC filers also went on to receive the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit, claiming an additional $1,266 on average.

 

These refundable tax credits not only encourage and support work but also offer an effective poverty alleviation tool. As we wrote earlier this year, according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), nationally the poverty rate would have been 3 percentage points higher in 2012 without the EITC and the refundable portion of the CTC. For children, the impact of these credits was even greater, effectively lowering the child poverty rate by 6.7 percentage points.


Read more at

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/the-avenue/posts/2014/04/15-data-tax-credits-working-families


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Charles Koch in @WSJOpinion: I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society

Charles Koch in @WSJOpinion: I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
In The Wall Street Journal, Charles Koch writes that instead of welcoming free debate, collectivists engage in character assassination



By 
CHARLES G. KOCH
Updated April 2, 2014 7:47 p.m. ET

I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.

Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation's own government. That's why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.

A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. "The natural progress of things," Jefferson wrote, "is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." He knew that no government could possibly run citizens' lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.

Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.

Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we're "un-American" and trying to "rig the system," that we're against "environmental protection" or eager to "end workplace safety standards." These falsehoods remind me of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Here are some facts about my philosophy and our company:

Koch companies employ 60,000 Americans, who make many thousands of products that Americans want and need. According to government figures, our employees and the 143,000 additional American jobs they support generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of our U.S.-based employees are union members.

Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA officials have commended us for our "commitment to a cleaner environment" and called us "a model for other companies."

Our refineries have consistently ranked among the best in the nation for low per-barrel emissions. In 2012, our Total Case Incident Rate (an important safety measure) was 67% better than a Bureau of Labor Statistics average for peer industries. Even so, we have never rested on our laurels. We believe there is always room for innovation and improvement.

Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.

Koch Industries was the only major producer in the ethanol industry to argue for the demise of the ethanol tax credit in 2011. That government handout (which cost taxpayers billions) needlessly drove up food and fuel prices as well as other costs for consumers—many of whom were poor or otherwise disadvantaged. Now the mandate needs to go, so that consumers and the marketplace are the ones who decide the future of ethanol.

Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.

If more businesses (and elected officials) were to embrace a vision of creating real value for people in a principled way, our nation would be far better off—not just today, but for generations to come. I'm dedicated to fighting for that vision. I'm convinced most Americans believe it's worth fighting for, too.

Mr. Koch is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries.

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The Coffee Party is very interested to know what you think.

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Congress Should Pass the Democracy Restoration Act | Brennan Center for Justice

Congress Should Pass the Democracy Restoration Act | Brennan Center for Justice | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The Brennan Center for Justice is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice.


April 10, 2014

Based on Brennan Center Proposal, Bill Would Restore Voting Rights to 4.4 Million Americans

Contact: Erik Opsal, erik.opsal@nyu.edu, 646-292-8356

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the Democracy Restoration Act, which would restore voting rights in federal elections to nearly 4.4 million Americans citizens with criminal convictions in their past.


Based on a Brennan Center proposal, the bill builds on recent support for rights restoration. In February, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder called on states to restore voting rights. But 35 states continue to disenfranchise people after they are released from prison. The Democracy Restoration Act would restore voting rights to these citizens for federal elections.


"Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Center’s Washington, D.C., office. “Restoring voting rights to citizens who have served their time will strengthen our democracy. Congress should move quickly to pass this bill and ensure our voting system is free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans.”


“Restoring voting rights to people with past criminal convictions will expand our democracy, increase public safety, and streamline America’s election system,” said Democracy Program Deputy Director Myrna Pérez. “Voting, and the responsibility that goes with it, increases a person’s stake in their community, helping transform a former prisoner from an outsider into a law-abiding citizen. Congress should pass it without delay.”


The Democracy Restoration Act has garnered broad support from a diverse coalition that includes law enforcement associations, the faith community, racial justice advocates, and civil rights organizations. Versions of the bill were introduced in past sessions of Congress.


View the Brennan Center’s proposal to restore voting rights upon release from incarceration, and our state-by-state guide on criminal disenfranchisement laws. Read more on theDemocracy Restoration Act.

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Dozens of teenagers are now tweeting bomb jokes to American Airlines

Dozens of teenagers are now tweeting bomb jokes to American Airlines | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The arrest of a Dutch teenager didn't dissuade copycats. It created a noxious meme.


BY CAITLIN DEWEY
April 14 at 3:09 pm


One dumb teenager is easily excused — but the host of Twitter users currently tweeting bomb threats at major airlines is another story entirely.


Read more at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/04/14/dozens-of-teenagers-are-now-tweeting-bomb-jokes-to-american-airlines/


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Where have all the moderates gone? Politics as 'gladiatorial combat'

Where have all the moderates gone? Politics as 'gladiatorial combat' | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Ryan Menezes

April 14, 201410:00 a.m.


Barry Glassner first detailed how politicians use fear-mongering in his 1999 book “The Culture of Fear.” He wrote of politicians claiming America was on the decline, like those who coined the term “super-predators” to describe young American men with suppressed rage who would grow up to ruin the country if not reared early.

Fear-mongering has never declined, Glassner said Sunday at the Festival of Books, but it did change. When Glassner’s book was republished for its 10-year anniversary, its cover carried the phrase “Updated for our post-9/11 world.” 

 

At a panel titled “Out of Focus: Politics, the Media and Perspective,” Glassner, now the president of Lewis &  Clark College in Portland, pointed to the tonal shift after the terrorist attacks. No longer was America home to a sick society. Rather the discourse was now about how great the country was and how jealous others must be to attack it. The enemies changed from domestic to foreign.


Read more at
http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-politics-media-panel-20140413,0,4396741.story#ixzz2z4M2pb40

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Despite Rise in Spills, Hazardous Cargo Rides Rails in Secret

Despite Rise in Spills, Hazardous Cargo Rides Rails in Secret | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
As alarmed communities complain about dangerous cargo running on the tracks through their towns, new rules for handling such cargo are set to take effect.


By JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 15, 2014


Jodi Ross, town manager in Westford, Mass., did not expect she would be threatened with arrest after she and her fire chief went onto the railroad tracks to find out why a train carrying liquid petroleum gas derailed on a bridge in February.

But as they reached the accident site northwest of Boston, a manager for Pan Am Railways called the police, claiming she was trespassing on rail property. The cars were eventually put back on the tracks safely, but the incident underlined a reality for local officials dealing with railroads.

“They don’t have to tell us a thing,” Ms. Ross said. “It’s a very arrogant attitude.”

Read more at

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/business/despite-spills-hazards-ride-the-rails-in-secret.html?_r=1

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Leaked Report: CIA Lied, Lied, Lied to Conceal 'Brutal' Torture

Leaked Report: CIA Lied, Lied, Lied to Conceal 'Brutal' Torture | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Published on Friday, April 11, 2014 by Common Dreams

Key findings of classified Senate report, obtained by McClatchy, shed light on CIA concealment of atrocities

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
 

Key findings of a still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee investigative report reveal that the CIA lied to lawmakers, the media, and the U.S. public about widespread torture as it concealed the brutality of its interrogation methods and the number of people subjected to them.

 

This is according to a Thursday report from McClatchy News Service, which obtained 20 main conclusions (PDF) of the 6,300-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. These conclusions are entirely new to the public record.

 

Read more at

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/11-3

 

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The White House Has Been Covering Up the Presidency's Role in Torture for Years - The Intercept

The White House Has Been Covering Up the Presidency's Role in Torture for Years - The Intercept | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The Obama administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep a short phrase describing President Bush's authorization of the torture program secret.
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No Taxation Without Representation

Money in politics means taxation without representation. We already have a tax day — It’s time for a representation day.
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McCutcheon Should Become A Rallying Cry for A Campaign to ‘End the Rule of Money’

McCutcheon Should Become A Rallying Cry for A Campaign to ‘End the Rule of Money’ | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Throughout history, bad court decisions have helped energize movements — people power can make that happen again.

 

Excerpt from piece by Kevin Zeese & Dr. Margaret Flowers for AlterNet

 

...The policies put in place by corporate-dominated political parties have created unjust laws over time that ensure we accumulate massive debt. As Strike Debt summarizes the situation:

 

“The reason you have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills is that we don’t provide medical care to everyone. The reason you have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans is because the government, banks, and university administrators have contrived to cut government subsidies that support education while driving college costs through the roof. Unlike fifty years ago, it’s simply impossible for all but the wealthiest to attend college without them. Bubbles drive housing and food prices up, wages are kept artificially low so that they don’t keep up with inflation, and more and more of us rely on proliferating forms of ‘casual,’ ‘flexible,’ and part-time employment.”

 

The denial of basic services and education puts Americans from the poor through the upper middle class in economic peril. To add insult to injury, our public dollars that could pay for essential services and education are used instead to enable predatory behavior by big corporations. The biggest recipients of welfare are big business interests like Walmart and the big banks.

 

Walmart is the largest private employer in the US, with annual profits of over $15 billion. The six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 40% of all Americans combined. How did they get there? Massive government subsidies are central to Walmart’s business plan. These include tax breaks from state and local governments for each of their nearly 5,000 stores in the United States. And government subsidies to their employees for healthcare, food and housing because Walmart pays poverty wages. Of all retail outlets, Walmart is the largest recipient of government assistance in the country.

 

However, the biggest recipients of government assistance are the banks themselves. Through the private corporation known as the Federal Reserve, the banks have been given trillions of dollars in virtually no-interest loans. The banks then lend the money to the government at an immediate profit or to consumers and businesses for an even bigger profit. And then the banks borrow on those loans and expand their wealth even further, using the money to gamble on derivatives or other risky activities that put the economy at risk.

 

By giving the banks the governmental power to make money, a handful of Wall Street banks have become the dominant sector of the economy. Retaking the governmental power to create money would be a major step towards transforming the economy.

 

As if these subsidies aren’t enough, the banks and other large corporations also avoid paying taxes. One of many tax avoidance schemes is to keep money off-shore. A new report from ISI Research finds that U.S. S&P 500 companies now have $1.9 trillion parked outside the country. [MORE]

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The History of Corporate Personhood | Brennan Center for Justice

The History of Corporate Personhood | Brennan Center for Justice | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The Brennan Center for Justice is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice.


April 7, 2014

In McCutcheon v. FEC, handed down last Wednesday, the Supreme Court built on the precedent of Citizens United by invalidating the federal aggregate contribution limit for individuals. But McCutcheon is not the only case that gives the Supreme Court chance to expand Citizens United’s reach this term.

In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Supreme Court has to choose whether to extend the logic of 2010’s Citizens United to allow a corporation to make a religious objection to a generally applicable law.


Read more at

http://www.brennancenter.org/blog/hobby-lobby-argument


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US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Eric Zuesse


study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs? Who really rules?" in this country, is: 

"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.


Read more at

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/14


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Protest or Celebrate the McCutcheon Ruling and Get Big Money Out of Politics

Protest or Celebrate the McCutcheon Ruling and Get Big Money Out of Politics | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Overturn McCutcheon andCitizens UnitedAttend a Meeting With Your Member of Congress During the April Recess

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

McCutcheon pretty much did for individuals what Citizens United did for corporations. Specifically, those who can afford to do so can directly contribute nearly $6 million per election cycle to a single party and its candidates.

Members of Congress will be heading home for April recess from April 12 to April 27. We want to make sure they hear our outrage at McCutcheon and the further erosion of our democracy. We want their support for a constitutional amendment and the Government By the People Act. We will be working with you to set up meetings with your legislators around the country.


Sign up if you would like attend a meeting near you. We will provide you with information so that you are prepared for the meeting and let you know when the meeting is scheduled.


Sign up at

http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12458&tag=DIFPInDistrictApr2014PFAW


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Obama Administration Rakes In Billions Off Student Debt

Obama Administration Rakes In Billions Off Student Debt | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Published on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Common Dreams


- Lauren McCauley, staff writer


Critics blasted the U.S. Department of Education for profiting off the backs of struggling students after a new projection by the Congressional Budget Office revealed Monday that the federal agency is set to make $127 billion from loan interest payments over the next ten years.

And despite promises to do the opposite, a student loan bill signed into law last year is driving up those interest rates even faster than projected, an internal government watchdog reports.

“This exploding debt is crushing our young people,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Saturday, speaking at a student loan symposium at Suffolk University's law school in Boston. Warren was one of the few lawmakers who last year voted against the passage of the loan bill.

“These students didn’t go to the mall and run up a bunch of charges on credit cards," Warren continued. "They worked hard to learn new skills that will benefit this country. [...] They deserve our support, not an extra tax for trying to get an education.”


Read more at

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/15-6



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EPIC - FTC Commissioner Wright Meets with Industry Lobbyists, Not Consumer Representatives

EPIC - FTC Commissioner Wright Meets with Industry Lobbyists, Not Consumer Representatives | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
FTC Commissioner Wright Meets with Industry Lobbyists, Not Consumer Representatives

Posted on April 8, 2014


Through a Freedom of Information Act request, EPIC obtained the appointment calendar of FTC Commissioner Wright. The Commissioner's calendar reveals many meetings with corporate presentatives but no meetings with public interest organizations representing consumers. One of FTC's primary missions is to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices. Commissioner Wright became an FTC Commissioner in January 2013. Since then he has met with representatives from Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, Qualcomm, the Network Advertising Initiative, and the Consumer Data Industry Association. He has attended industry conferences and given talks at trade association meetings. EPIC tried several times to arrange a meeting between Commissioner Wright and the Privacy Coalition—a nonpartisan coalition of consumer, civil liberties, educational, family, library, and technology organizations. The Privacy Coalition has hosted meetings with many FTC commissioners over the past decade. After repeatedly declining a meeting with the consumer privacy organizations, EPIC filed a FOIA request for the FTC Commissioner's appointment calendar. For more information, see EPIC: Federal Trade Commission.


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Eli Levine's curator insight, Today, 7:10 PM

And the rich wonder how it is that everything gets over turned for them.

 

Silly brains.

 

Think about it.

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NYPD Announces End of Muslim Demographics Unit | Brennan Center for Justice

NYPD Announces End of Muslim Demographics Unit | Brennan Center for Justice | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The Brennan Center for Justice is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice.


April 15, 2014

NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced it will disband its Demographics Unit, which previously mapped Muslim communities in and around New York City. The department's secret program would send plainclothes officers into mosques, restaurants, and neighborhoods to gather information on people's mundane daily activities.

The Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice previously called for an end to this program as well as for the establishment of an Inspector General for the NYPD. The Center’s program released the following statements:

“The Demographics Unit needlessly spied on American Muslim communities, never producing any intelligence,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “We hope its dissolution marks a new approach to policing in New York and look forward to reforms that curb all unwarranted intrusions into Muslims' personal and religious lives."

"It’s one thing to disband a unit. It’s another to change the way you do business,” addedMichael Price, counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.  “The NYPD must next change its policies on surveillance to rebuild trust with all New York Muslims.”

For more information, read:

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Why is the Gates foundation investing in GM giant Monsanto?

Why is the Gates foundation investing in GM giant Monsanto? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's investments in Monsanto and Cargill have come under heavy criticism. Is it time for the foundation to come clean on its visions for agriculture in developing countries?


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is sponsoring the Guardian's Global development site is being heavily criticised in Africa and the US for getting into bed not just with notorious GM company Monsanto, but also with agribusiness commodity giant Cargill.


Trouble began when a US financial website published the foundation's annual investment portfolio, which showed it had bought 500,000 Monsanto shares worth around $23m. This was a substantial increase in the last six months and while it is just small change for Bill and Melinda, it has been enough to let loose their fiercest critics.


Seattle-based Agra Watch - a project of the Community Alliance for Global Justice - was outraged. "Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well being of small farmers around the world… [This] casts serious doubt on the foundation's heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa," it thundered.


But it got worse. South Africa-based watchdog the African Centre for Biosafety then found that the foundation was teaming up with Cargill in a $10m project to "develop the soya value chain" in Mozambique and elsewhere. Who knows what this corporate-speak really means, but in all probability it heralds the big time introduction of GM soya in southern Africa.


The two incidents raise a host of questions for the foundation. Few people doubt that GM has a place in Africa, but is Gates being hopelessly naïve by backing two of the world's most aggressive agri-giants? There is, after all, genuine concern at governmental and community level that the United State's model of extensive hi-tech farming is inappropriate for most of Africa and should not be foist on the poorest farmers in the name of "feeding the world".


The fact is that Cargill is a faceless agri-giant that controls most of the world's food commodities and Monsanto has been blundering around poor Asian countries for a decade giving itself and the US a lousy name for corporate bullying. Does Gates know it is in danger of being caught up in their reputations, or does the foundation actually share their corporate vision of farming and intend to work with them more in future?


The foundation has never been upfront about its vision for agriculture in the world's poorest countries, nor the role of controversial technologies like GM. But perhaps it could start the debate here?


In the meantime, it could tell us how many of its senior agricultural staff used to work for Monsanto or Cargill?

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North Dakota struggling to deal with radioactive fracking waste

North Dakota struggling to deal with radioactive fracking waste | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Environmental regulators and North Dakota state officials have expressed concern that the state has failed to adequately adjust to the state’s sudden influx of crude oil output, a worry highlighted by the recent discovery of abandoned radioactive waste.


Published time: April 16, 2014 03:49


Environmental regulators and North Dakota state officials have expressed concern that the state has failed to adequately adjust to the state’s sudden influx of crude oil output, a worry highlighted by the recent discovery of abandoned radioactive waste.

Last month, the North Dakota Health Department announced that a large pile of oil filter socks –radioactive nets that are used to strain liquid during the oil production process – had been found at an old gas station in Noonan, a small town in the northwestern region of the state.


Read more at

http://rt.com/usa/north-dakota-radioactive-waste-fracking-784/



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“You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” An anti-gay bigot gets humiliated

“You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” An anti-gay bigot gets humiliated | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

"Peter LaBarbera came to my college to "expose" the "gay agenda." He wasn't expecting what would happen instead" 


KATE GEISELMAN

 

When Peter LaBarbera saw that close to a hundred people had assembled at my college to hear his warning about “the gay agenda,” I’m sure he was thrilled. He is the president of a group called Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, which describes its mission as being “dedicated to exposing the homosexual-bisexual-transgender activist agendas.”

 

When, less than 10 minutes later, he was left with an audience of about a dozen, he was angry. Angry enough to say, as the masses marched out, “You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” Angry enough to tweet, later that evening, “Two liberal professors lead their students in a walkout of my talk … rather than allow them to hear an opposing viewpoint.”

 

Except that’s not exactly what happened. What happened was much bigger than that, but I should back up a bit.

 

Read more at

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/16/%E2%80%9Cyou%E2%80%99re_leaving_are_you_effing_kidding%E2%80%9D_an_anti_gay_bigot_gets_humiliated/

 

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Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
The White House said that information about major Internet security flaws should be shared with computer and software manufacturers so they can be fixed. But it left broad exceptions for cases that involve national security.


By DAVID E. SANGER APRIL 12, 2014


WASHINGTON — Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.


Read more at

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/us/politics/obama-lets-nsa-exploit-some-internet-flaws-officials-say.html?_r=1


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Eli Levine's curator insight, April 15, 5:20 AM

I'm amazed by the lack of communication that this administration is having with the general public.

 

Why/how is it that Obama is not giving his reason and justification for these actions and then letting it up to the American people to decide whether it's worth the program or not?  What is so hard about humbling your own self and your own interests to the expressed needs and interests of the people?  What's wrong with making they, the people, liable and aware of the consequences of their own actions, decisions and sentiments, such that they're engaged in the political process, not just some random group of people standing around, becoming angrier and more frustrated and less willing to accept the present government's monopoly on the use of power?

 

If I were to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt, I would say that he's trying to avoid making another September 11th he and his Party's liability by proactively engaging in this morally questionable behavior.  While I do not agree with the program, it would still be nice to have the dialogue between governed and governing, such that a reasoned conclusion can be reached.  Simply imposing your self over others isn't an effective method of governing; the logic "f- you, that's why" is not a sustainable basis for running day to day or extraordinary affairs.  It leads to the delegitimization of the government and its members and hollows out a power vacuum that will be filled by an entity separate from the current sets of private and public elites who govern our world.

 

It's just a dialogue, after all.

 

What's wrong with actually having it?  For your own interests?

Silly person.

 

Think about it.

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Physicians for Human Rights - Senate Report Confirms Ethical Breaches of Health Professionals in CIA Torture Program

Physicians for Human Rights - Senate Report Confirms Ethical Breaches of Health Professionals in CIA Torture Program | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
Physicians for Human Rights: The leaked summary of the findings from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's report confirm previous reporting by PHR: The CIA enlisted health professionals to use their skills to destroy the minds of prisoners, breaking with longstanding ethical and legal obligations of health professionals.
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Alabama Police Chief recognized by Obama for "Apology Heard 'Round The World"

One of the great honors on our 18-month (thus far) Story of America journey was meeting Police Chief Kevin Murphy of Montgomery, AL. Recently at the White House, President Obama recognized and thanked Chief Murphy for an act of reconciliation that we documented in the video above.
 

The exchange too place at the St. Patrick’s Day reception (Murphy is Irish American), when President Obama gave Murphy a personal “thank you” for his continued efforts to improve the relationship between law officers and communities of color. [MORE]


Via Eric Byler
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Citizens Congress 2014

Citizens Congress 2014 | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
For the people by the people

 

Citizens' Congress 2014 will bring together some of the most important voices in politics: those of the citizens. Guests will meet at The Cliffs Resort convention center, on the coast of San Luis Obispo California, for three days to consolidate an agenda for congressional campaign finance reform and create a platform for grassroots legislative ideas.
More details are athttp://www.citizenscongress2014.org/conference-1.html

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