by KILEY KROH AND IGOR VOLSKY, Think ProgressOn Thursday, the fast-moving crisis in Ukraine took another surprising turn as the de facto authorities of Crimea, the semi-autonomous Ukrainian republic that is currently occupied by Russian forces, voted to become part of Russia. Members of the Crimean parliament announced that a public referendum to ratify the decision will be moved up to March 16.
Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, responded from Brussels, where he is currently meeting with European Union officials, “This so-called referendum has no legal ground at all … Crimea was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine.”
House Republicans brought their 52nd bill to gut Obamacare to the floor on Friday, where it passed 232-187. That's the end of it, of course, as it's been with the 51 votes before it, because the Senate won't take up the bill. This one would delay the individual mandate in the law by five years, which would mean 43 million uninsured people in 2018 and increase the premiums for people with individual plans by as much as 20 percent. So says the CBO.
A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search. Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm.
Speaking only for myself, I share those concerns. (Greg R.)
It should be noted, however, that the SWAT team graphic used in the WeAreChange article linked here appears to be sourced only to a Facebook account called Don'tTrustTheGovernment. It seems reasonable, therefore, to conclude it is *not* from the raid in question. It's use in this article is, in this curator's opinion, an example of poor journalism and a lack of journalistic integrity.
The 9+minute video of the property owner, on the other hand, is an example of the kind of in-depth information and perspective so sorely lacking from corporate media.
On February 27, Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement activists joined in a four-directions walk to commemorate Liberation Day, an event to mark the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. As they do each year, four groups gather to the north, south, east and west and then walk eight miles until converging on top of Wounded Knee, where they honor the fallen warriors and the tribe’s rich history of resistance.
“It is an acknowledgement of the resiliency of who we are as a people,” explains Andrew Iron Shell, an organizer and activist of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. “It gives permission and courage for our up-and-coming generations to face the challenges of their time.”
Threats to the land
In addition to trying to close down White Clay, the Oglala Lakota Nation is actively fighting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through South Dakota en route to Texas. At two points it would even intersect with a pipeline that serves as a main water source for the Sioux Nation, affecting all of the Pine Ridge reservation as well as the nearby Rosebud reservation.
Advocates for the pipeline argue the pipeline is the safest way to transport crude oil. TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline, predicted that the first Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, would spill once every seven years. During its first year in operation, it spilled 12 times. The Lakota, along with other First Nations, have vowed to use direct action to stop construction of the pipeline.
Origins: Despite the derisive references that continue even today, former Vice-President Al Gore never claimed that he "invented" the Internet, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be interpreted that way. The "Al Gore said he 'invented' the Internet" put-downs were misleading, out-of-context distortions of something he said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Late Edition" program on 9 March 1999. When asked to describe what distinguished him from his challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Gore replied (in part):
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
School reformer heavyweight Michelle Rhee and her advocacy group StudentsFirst are not, apparently, pleased with the way school reform is going across the country. In their second annual State Policy Report Card, the national average is a D+ and the top state, Louisiana (yes! Louisiana) only eked out a B- with a 2.92 overall grade point average.
Given that the measures StudentsFirst is using to “grade” the states are based on nothing more Rhee’s view of school reform — which has no solid evidence to back it up — the report card wouldn’t be worth mentioning, except that she remains a force in the public education debate and is able to attract major money from private donors.
Twenty-four measures were used, with most of them involving the spread of charter schools and vouchers, the reform or elimination of tenure, the evaluation of teachers with test scores and the institution of merit pay — all tools in the reformers’ arsenal. That they have no real record of broadly improving student achievement doesn’t seem to matter.
The auto plant at center of a misleading TV ad run by Mitt Romney's campaign during the 2012 presidential election is booming, Bloomberg reported Friday.
In a last-ditch effort to swing Ohio into the Republican column in the waning days of the campaign, Romney's team aired an ad that gave the impression that Chrysler would ship jobs to China because of President Obama's auto rescue.
"Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China," the ad's narrator claimed.
Not only is the factory in question still in Ohio, demand for Jeeps is so great that Chrysler is planning on hiring up to 1,000 part-time workers as a way to alleviate pressure on regular employees who work 60 hours per week.
“Our people have been working a tremendous amount of hours,” Toledo Assembly Plant Manager Chuck Padden told the Toledo Blade. “To get them more time off is important to us, to make sure they’re refreshed, and can work safely.”
Chrysler has already hired 380 temporary part-time employees, 50 of which been converted to regular, full-time employees, according to the Blade. The company is also offering the part-time workers limited benefits, including health insurance.
Nicole Larson was the kind of person whose smile always made you want to smile back. It was only after a while that it struck you: She always smiled with her mouth closed.
It had been six years since Nicole last sat in a dentist’s chair, seven since her last full exam or X-rays. Childhood dental visits had been rare: Her parents’ low-wage jobs never had insurance, and after paying for rent and heat and food, there was rarely much left. As an adult, she worked long hours as a waitress and hotel housekeeper, but those jobs lacked insurance, too, and the meager pay always ran out before the month did.
So Nicole learned to white-knuckle it through toothaches, popping handfuls of ibuprofen. She brushed constantly, rinsing with every oral rinse the drugstore sold. And she perfected a dimpled, twinkle-in-the-eye smile that always got a smile in return … but didn’t require her to open her mouth.
But today all that was about to change. She had landed a new job — still minimum wage, but this time with dental coverage. She sat in the waiting room, praying that today would be the day the pain finally stopped for good.
The dentist called Nicole into the exam room, poked and prodded a bit, and listed some treatment options. Nicole crossed her fingers.
But then he stood up and shut her file abruptly, not even trying to hide his disdain. “Look, there are plenty of things we could do,” he said frostily, hand on the doorknob. “But if you’re just going to let everything go to hell like this, there’s really no point.”
And the door clicked shut behind him.
* * *
It was nearly a year before Nicole even tried another dentist, too afraid of more humiliation, of being treated as if her condition was the result of some moral failing, instead of the logical outcome of a lifetime of low wages and no insurance.
But she couldn’t help wondering: What had made an otherwise nice, competent, community-minded, churchgoing professional suddenly morph into such a jerk?
Americans, by and large, are a charitable bunch. Need canned corn for the food drive? Pairs of gloves for the church “mitten tree”? Dolls and bears for Toys for Tots? We’re all over it … and we’ll probably give you three.
But our compassionate instincts have some blind spots, no matter whether we vote red or blue. It’s not because we’re heartless (well, usually, anyway). It’s rather because we so often don’t understand the back story to what we’re seeing, or the unseen factors in play.
Abby Huntsman is really, really upset about Social Security. We know this because the television presenter, a daughter of former GOP Presidential contender Jon Huntsman, went on an extended rant about it Thursday on MSNBC's "The Cycle." The show is aimed at a younger audience of news consumers and Huntsman, 27, is one of the four youthful co-hosts.
She thinks Social Security is going bankrupt, leaving her and her generation with nothing. "This is infuriating," she said, bouncing up and down in her chair like a petulant toddler, "because none of our elected officials seem to care enough to do anything about it."
Unfortunately, almost everything she said about Social Security in the name of making it "sustainable" for her generation was wrong.
The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is already shielding Americans from shady dealings by mortgage lenders, student loan servicers, and credit card companies.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the watchdog agency conceived of and established by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the wake of the financial crisis, had a hard time getting on its feet. The GOP tried everythingit could to hobble the bureau, but to no avail. Over the past couple of years, the CFPB has issued dozens of protections shielding consumers from shady practices by mortgage lenders, student loan servicers, and credit card companies. Here are ten things the CFPB, which was created in 2011, has done to protect the little guy:
A NYT commentary by Jeff Sommers told readers that the Fed is not likely to focus much on recent trends in stock and housing prices at its next meeting because asset prices are not part of its mandate. The piece commented:"Even if such issues [recent trends in stock and house prices] provide a subtext for Fed discussions, the direct effects of Fed policy on the stock and housing markets may not be an explicit part of the Fed’s agenda this week."That's partly because Congress didn't include financial asset prices in the Fed’s mandate, which is 'to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.' Those stable prices referred to items like cars, food and shoes, not to financial assets like stocks and bonds, whose price levels fall outside the Fed’s traditional purview."The last two recessions were caused by collapses in asset bubbles. These collapses had enormous impact on employment, as well as inflation and interest rates. It would be absurd for Fed officials to say they will not focus on asset prices because they are not directly part of their mandate.
It was a truly historic moment Tuesday when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to warn that the CIA’s continuing cover-up of its torture program is threatening our constitutional division of power. By blatantly concealing what Feinstein condemned as “the horrible details of a CIA program that never, never, never should have existed,” the spy agency now acts as a power unto itself, and the agency’s outrages have finally aroused the senator’s umbrage.
As Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, chair of the Judiciary Committee that will be investigating Feinstein’s charges noted, “in 40 years here, it was one of the best speeches I’d ever heard and one of the most important.” That was particularly so, given that Feinstein’s searing indictment of the CIA’s decade-long subversion of congressional oversight of its torture program comes from a senator who previously has worked overtime to justify the subversion of democratic governance by the CIA and other spy agencies.
But clearly the lady has by now had enough, given the CIA’s recent hacking of her Senate committee’s computers in an effort to suppress a key piece of evidence supporting the veracity of the committee’s completed but still not released 6,300-page study that the CIA is bent on suppressing.
What if inequality were to continue growing years or decades into the future? Say the richest 1 percent of the population amassed a quarter of the nation’s income, up from about a fifth today. What about half?
To believe Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, this future is not just possible. It is likely.
The differnce onThat's all folks. Officials announced on Friday that the U.S. government would surrender control over the internet—or at least the administration of the internet. It's unclear who will take over the responsibility, but as The Washington Post points out, it will almost surely not be the United Nations.
Following the anti-Monsanto activism launched by nations like France and Hungary, Poland has announced that it will launch a complete ban on growing Monsanto’s genetically modified strain MON810. The announcement, made by Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki, sets yet another international standard against Monsanto’s genetically modified creations. In addition to being linked to a plethora health ailments, Sawicki says…
“This morning I signed an executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.
According to my guidance, the State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials. These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea. And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia’s actions.”
But Obama left out the most important and quite extraordinary part of his executive orderfrom his press statement:
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of persons — including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine — that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
This "unsigned" post, in the opinion of this curator (Greg R.), takes advantage of the reader with its headline and the implication that President Obama is doing something that he wishes to keep secret.
"But Obama left out the most important and quite extraordinary part of his executive order from his press statement:"
There is nothing extraordinary about this.
Declaring a state of emergency is how a president takes this kind of action, and President Obama is not the first to do it.
I'm curating this post, therefore, not for its values as "news" but for its instructive value.
"President Wilson was the first President to declare a national emergency, on February 5, 1917. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Richard M. Nixon, James E. Carter, Ronald W. Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George Walker Bush have all issued national emergency declarations. The following links provide the text of these executive orders and proclamations."
A cursory review of the orders by past presidents declaring national emergencies reveals similarities in the conditions that created said emergency and in the language used in those declarations.
Here is one such example:
Ronald Wilson Reagan EXECUTIVE ORDER 12513 — May 1, 1985 By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), chapter 12 of Title 50 of the United States Code (50 U.S.C. 191 et seq.), and section 301 of Title 3 of the United States Code,
I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, find that the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat
During Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart replayed a clip from an earlier episode where he mocked Fox News for exaggerating the scope of so-called food stamp abuse. He then showed how Eric Bolling of the Fox News show The Fiveresponded. Bolling tried to ‘school’ Stewart on how the network was merely trying to highlight rampant waste and fraud in the program. Of course, Stewart was able to brilliantly take down Bolling and the network on this claim.
"Why destroy public education so that a handful can boast they have a charter school in addition to their yacht?"
Once a George H.W. Bush education official and an advocate for greater testing-based accountability, Diane Ravitch has in recent years become the nation’s highest-profile opponent of Michelle Rhee’s style of charter-based education reform (one also espoused by Barack Obama).
In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned. A condensed version of our conversation follows.
What if lawmakers put forward a federal budget plan to tax big financial institutions, enact a healthcare public option and increase spending to put millions of Americans to work on badly needed infrastructure projects?
They did. You just didn't read or hear much about it.
In a few weeks, New York leaders could make history and enact public campaign financing. It's unclear if they will rise to the occasion. Last month, progressives called on New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, to include public financing in his Executive Budget—and he did it. Now he just has to finish the job. With your help.
New York's state budget is due April 1st. Sign our petition to tell Governor Andrew Cuomo: fair elections can't wait another term.
New York State is poised to become the most populous state in the country to enact public campaign financing. There's a good reason for the state to enact reforms now. In the 2012 election cycle, at least 71% of contributions to candidates came in gifts of $1,000 or more. All that money sways the decisions our leaders make from what’s best for New Yorkers to what’s best for big donors.
Two weeks ago, the normally mild-mannered Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) caused a stir when he used some harsh words to describe the Koch brothers and the big-dollar ad campaign their organization, Americans for Prosperity, is mounting against politicians who voted for Obamacare. ”It’s too bad that they’re trying to buy America,” he said on the Senate floor. “And it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone I can imagine.”
When Congress passed a farm bill earlier this year, it expected to save $8.6 billion over 10 years by tightening what many say is a loophole in the food stamp, or SNAP, program. But it's not going to happen.
You see, Congress left states an opening to avoid the cuts. And so far, nearly half of the states participating have decided to take that option — a move that could erase the promised savings.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senators rallied behind significant changes in military law to curb rape and sexual assault within the ranks, approving steps to protect the victims and barring the "good soldier defense" to ensure evidence alone determines a defendant's fate.
With the women of the Senate leading the fight, lawmakers voted 97-0 Monday for legislation that would force a half-dozen major changes on a military struggling with a pervasive problem that Pentagon leaders concede could cost the services the trust and respect of the public and make it harder to attract men and women to serve in the all-volunteer force.
The measure, which now heads to the House, comes on top of more than 30 changes that Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed into law as part of a defense policy bill just four months ago.