Saturday, August 6, 2011

Outfoxed vs. Rupert Murdoch: Seven Years On

Seven years ago, Outfoxed exposed Rupert Murdoch’s top down journalism at FOX News, and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public’s right to know.

In the wake of Murdoch’s NewsCorp scandal, and as we witness the widening impact of corporate dominance on media practices, it is even clearer that we need to continue the discussion around how we can restore integrity in journalism.

What has changed over these seven years?

The story keeps unraveling before our eyes, and yet no true accountability has caused the Murdochs to change their behavior. One of the latest pieces of news in this story is that 11 people have now been arrested in the News of the World hacking scandal, yet both James and Rupert stand to receive several million dollars in bonuses, supposedly due to their job performance. We’ve also recently learned that BSkyB is keeping James Murdoch on their board. At this point, it seems as if the Murdochs are getting away with their criminal and unethical behavior with barely even a slap on the wrist.

If the level of corruption involved in this scandal doesn’t bring about serious conversation and a push for a change in how things work, there might be no hope for fighting the evil that comes from such corporate conglomerate control. That is why Brave New Films has decided to celebrate the anniversary of Outfoxed by holding an event with some of the smartest minds in our country.
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Union Victory at Virginia IKEA Plant: Resistance Grows Against Race-to-Bottom Wages

Photo Credit: AFP

The successful union campaign at IKEA's first US factory defies conventional wisdom that a competitive future requires a lower-wage, less unionized America.
August 6, 2011

Ikea workers in Danville, Virginia aren’t taking Thomas Friedman’s advice. Last week, after a three-year struggle, they chose by a 221-69 vote to unionize Ikea’s first manufacturing plant in the United States. Their move defies conventional wisdom that a competitive future requires a lower-wage, less unionized America. And Ikea’s choices – to build a factory in the old capitol of the confederacy, to deploy America’s best union-busters, and ultimately to reign them in – illuminate dynamics that get ignored in debates over outsourcing. Ikea’s example shows how easily European companies can embrace American-style union-busting. And it shows a path for workers to fight back.

“Sweden’s Mexico”?
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Why We Can Thank Republicans for a Double-dip Recession


Republicans repeatedly assured the nation that once the debt-limit deal was done, the economy would bounce back. Just the opposite seems to be happening.
August 5, 2011

John Boehner said Tuesday the Republicans got "90 percent of what we wanted" from the budget deal. So presumably he and his colleagues are willing to take responsibility for some 450 points of today's mammoth 513-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

I'm being a bit facetious - but only a bit. It's always dangerous to read too much into one day's move in the stock market.

Yet the stock sell-off -- not just today's, but that of the last days -- cannot be easily dismissed. It marks Wall Street's largest losing streak since 2008.

Republicans repeatedly assured the nation that once the debt-limit deal was done -- capping spending, cutting the budget deficit, and getting "90 percent" of what they wanted -- the economy would bounce back.

Just the opposite seems to be happening.

Call it the Republican's double-dip recession.

Wall Street investors aren't ideologues. They don't obsess about budget deficits ten years from now, or the size of the government. One day doesn't make a trend, but a giant sell-off like this is motivated by hard, cold realities.

Here are the two hard, cold realities investors are most worried about:
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The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry's Prayer Event


Perry's endorsers are not just a random group of radical evangelists but part of a large and little-understood international religious movement.
August 6, 2011

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided to stage a Texas-size prayer event — dubbed “The Response” — on Aug. 6, it no doubt seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It received little critical scrutiny when he announced it back in early June, except on websites that track these sorts of things. But after Rachel Maddow, drawing on these sites, did a segment highlighting some of the more bizarre statements made by Perry's high-profile religious endorsers, things cooled considerably — even though the real story is still not remotely well-understood.

“Perry’s endorsers are not just a random group of radical evangelists making outrageous statements,” researcher Rachel Tabachnick subsequently wrote at Alternet.org.“These are the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the biggest international religious movement you never heard of.” Almost simultaneously, investigative reporter Forrest Wilder of the Texas Observer published an extensive article on Perry's prayer event and his endorsers, “Rick Perry's Army of God.”
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36 Million Pounds of Cargill Turkey Recalled as Budget Cuts Weaken Oversight of Food Safety


Food safety advocates say this latest outbreak shows how budget cuts have hampered the ability of federal and state health agencies to effectively protect public health.

August 5, 2011

AMY GOODMAN: In one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history, this week the food giant Cargill ordered the recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey. The recall comes after at least one person has died of Salmonella, and another 76 have fallen ill. The turkey products were traced to Cargill’s processing plant in Springdale, Arkansas. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Salmonella outbreak involves a strain of the bacteria known as Salmonella Heidelberg, which is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics.
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How a Corporatist Supreme Court Cabal Joined Forces With Right-Wing and Kochs to Quietly Sell Out Our Democracy


Corrupt, right-wing Supreme Court justices are abusing their power, fraternizing with the Koch brothers and fixing elections (among other horrors).

August 5, 2011

Bill Watterson is Mark Twain--with a drawing pen. He is a master cartoonist, but also a sharp-witted observer of the absurd, with an impish sense of humor. From 1985-1995, Watterson penned "Calvin and Hobbes," the truly marvelous comic strip that featured six-year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. In Calvin's inventive and iconoclastic mind, Hobbes was a genuine tiger (and his best friend) and they shared boundless adventures that challenged conventional thinking and defied authority, often crashing right through the prescribed social order of the 'real' world.

A recurring theme in the strip was a two-player baseball competition in which both the kid and the tiger simply made up the rules as they went. In one strip, Calvin has hit the ball thrown by Hobbes, and he's scampering toward home plate:

Calvin: Ha Ha! A home run!

Hobbes: You didn't touch all the bases!

Calvin: I did, too.

Hobbes: No, you didn't. You didn't touch seventh base.

Calvin: Yes, I did! I touched the water barrel right after the front porch.

Hobbes: That's not seventh base. That's twelfth base!

Calvin: I thought the garage door was twelfth.

Hobbes: The garage door is twenty-third base. You touched them all out of order, and you didn't touch the secret base.

Calvin: The secret base?? What's the secret base?!

Hobbes: I can't tell you. It's a secret.
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Google Doodle pays charming tribute to Lucille Ball on her 100th

For more than thirty years, Lucille Ball was one of the most recognized and loved entertainers in the world. Known to all simply as Lucy, she portrayed a scatterbrained housewife with the ability to turn simple chores into unparalleled fiascoes. Clumsy and unsophisticated at nearly everything she tried (and she tried nearly everything), the television Lucy won the hearts of average Americans across all social and cultural lines with her wacky schemes. Ironically, it was Ball’s wide range of experience and talents that made her such a success in this role.

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In today's high tech world with so many diversions from the humdrum of daily life, these later generations will never know of the comfort and fun Lucy brought into the lives of both young and old of her era. When "I Love Lucy" came on, the older people would take a break from nagging their young, and the youths were entertained by the abject silliness of how wrong good intentions could go. In short, it was a real family hour, especially for people whose lives were wracked with the pains of poverty, privation, as well as those better off, whose attention to routine made their lives and the lives of their sibilings tedious, among other things. There just weren't as many distractions that could engage family members across the generational gap and get them all laughing hysterically.

For me, when visiting my aunts, who had a penchant for nagging and fault finding, Lucy came on at precisely the right time to put a halt to the tirades and make a real visit of the rest of the day. After all, after what Lucy got into, what was there to nag anyone about? Lol.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Phone-hacking scandal: NoW exec Stuart Kuttner bailed after arrest

Former managing editor and one-time public face of the News of the World released on bail until later this month

* Amelia Hill
* guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 2 August 2011 20.49 BST
* Article history

Stuart Kuttner (left) with Sara and Michael Payne during the Sarah's Law campaign. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

Stuart Kuttner, the public face of the News of the World and its most vocal public defender for 22 years, has been arrested by police investigating allegations of phone hacking and of bribing police officers to leak sensitive information.

As managing editor until his resignation in July 2009, Kuttner was in charge of finances at the now-defunct tabloid.

Kuttner, 71, was described at the time of his resignation by the last editor of the newspaper, Colin Myler, as a man whose "DNA is absolutely integrated into the newspaper which he has represented across the media with vigour".

Kuttner reportedly did not know he was going to be taken into custody when he arrived by appointment at a police station in London on Tuesday at 11am for questioning. Police were later seen searching his home in Woodford, Essex..
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Judge allows American to sue Rumsfeld over torture




By NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A judge is allowing an Army veteran who says he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the U.S. military in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld personally for damages.

The veteran's identity is withheld in court filings, but he worked for an American contracting company as a translator for the Marines in the volatile Anbar province before being detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to holding "high-value" detainees.

The government says he was suspected of helping get classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime and says he never broke the law.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/03/2343856/judge-allows-american-to-sue-rumsfeld.html#ixzz1UDSPpSM9
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"Lieberman Says We Need To Cut Social Security To Pay For Defense"

Lieberman Says We Need To Cut Social Security To Pay For Defense

I paid into the system and I expect to get it back.

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The Debt Ceiling Debate As A Fairy Tale: Colbert Re-tells The Billy Goats Gruff

By Nicole Belle

It's a couple of days old, but too good not to share. Stephen Colbert likens the debt ceiling debate and negotiations to a fairy tale, specifically The Billy Goats Gruff.

It's hard to argue that the Democratic goats in Washington appear to be completely unaware that they are not dealing with reasonable people who share the common goal of what's best for the country. No, the Republican Party are nothing but trolls who view the welfare of the country as acceptable collateral damage in their pursuit of their agenda.
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Vile, Racist Republican Compares Obama to "Tar Baby"

Sooo... it's 2011 and Rep. Doug Lanborn, R-CO, compared debt-deal negotiations with President Obama to "touching a tar baby." Apparently he is unaware of the phrase's insanely racist legacy, from its introduction in the Uncle Remus stories and Disney's fairly popular "Song of the South"? Apparently... on Monday he issued an apology to President Obama. HuffPo:

Lamborn sent a personal letter to President Obama “apologizing for using a term some find insensitive,” his office said in a press release. The congressman was “attempting to tell a radio audience last week that the president's policies have created an economic quagmire for the nation and are responsible for the dismal economic conditions our country faces. He regrets that he chose the phrase 'tar baby,' rather than the word 'quagmire.' The congressman is confident that the president will accept his heartfelt apology." READ MORE

More Jail Time Than the Man Who Killed Her Son? The Criminalization of Black Mothers


Women of color are being aggressively prosecuted for supposed transgressions they'd committed while trying to raise their children.

Raquel Nelson, who was convicted of second-degree vehicular manslaughter after her four-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver, will not be going to jail after all. On Tuesday a judge sentenced Nelson to 12 months of probation and 40 hours of community service, and offered her a new trial, which she’s since decided to pursue. She faced three years in prison.

It was a stunning move in a dramatic case that’s captured national headlines and for criminal justice reform advocates, exemplified the racialized impacts of aggressive prosecutions.

On April 10, 2010 Nelson’s son A.J. Newman was killed by a drunk driver while the family attempted to jaywalk across a busy street. They’d just gotten out at a bus stop and were out later than Nelson would have liked after having missed their first bus. Their home was directly across a four-lane street and like many other passengers, they decided to cross directly to their home. The nearest crosswalk was more than three tenths of a mile away from the bus stop. While waiting at a divider, A.J. slipped out of his mom’s grasp and into the street. Nelson and her other daughter followed, and they were all hit by a drunk driver careening down the road.

The driver of the van, Jerry Guy, who had two previous hit-and-run convictions on his record, fled the scene. A.J. died. Guy later pleaded guilty and confessed that he’d been drinking that day. He served six months of a five-year sentence.

After the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article raising alarm about the dangers of jaywalking, instead of, say, the dangers that poor urban design pose to transit-dependent families, the solicitor general decided to prosecute Nelson for endangering her children.

Earlier this month an all-white jury of middle class folks who admitted they had limited experience taking public transportation in the area found Nelson guilty of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

It was just the latest in a year of headline-making reports of mothers, all of them single parents, and all of them women of color, who’d been aggressively prosecuted for supposed transgressions they’d committed while trying to raise their children.

In January, Ohio mom Kelley Williams-Bolar was found guilty of a felony for using her father’s home address to enroll her daughters to a better out-of-district school. Williams-Bolar was charged with defrauding the local school system of $30,500. And in April, Connecticut mother Tanya McDowell was charged with larceny for “stealing” her son’s education when she enrolled him in a neighboring school district’s kindergarten. School officials say she “stole” more than $15,000 worth of education for her son.
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Koch-Funded Americans For Prosperity Send Dems Wrong Voter Information in Wisconsin Recall Elections

The Koch-funded right-wingers at Americans For Prosperity (AFP) have been up to their usual dirty tricks again. This time it is a blatant assault on democracy. Politico reported today that the group sent out absentee ballots for two Senate recall elections in Wisconsin to Democrats and the instructions included with the ballots listed a return date that is after the election. Classy! Politico reports:

The fliers, obtained by POLITICO, ask solidly Democratic voters to return ballots for the Aug. 9 election to the city clerk "before Aug. 11." ... The absentee trickery comes just as AFP has purchased $150,000 in ad time in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison to boost GOP candidates.
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Why Is There a Christian Cross at the 9/11 Memorial (But No Representation of Other Faiths or Atheism)?

Religious symbols of any type have no place at the World Trade Center memorial unless they represent all faiths--and those of no faith--equally.

On Wednesday 27 July, we at American Atheists filed a difficult case. We began a suit against the inclusion of the Christian cross at the World Trade Centre memorial. We knew this would potentially paint us as "unpatriotic"; we filed it anyway, because we are patriotic.

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Beware of the "Coordinated Strategy" to Roll Back Our Right to Protest


The Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner discusses his new book, and the North America-wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest.

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, coming to you from New York City. We're at Rizzoli Bookstore in New York, which generously provided the space. A year ago in Toronto, more than 1,000 people were arrested while they protested the G-20 that was taking place. Most of them were let go within a few days. And that was part of the problem. No charges were laid, and there was thus no way for people--whose rights the Ontario ombudsman said were violated--could have any recourse. In fact, the ombudsman said the arrests at the Toronto G-20 was the most massive compromise of civil rights in the history of Canada. But is this only happening in Toronto? Or is this in fact part of a North American-wide strategy on how to deal with dissent? And what about the right to mass protest right across the continent? Now joining us to talk about all of this is Michael Ratner. He's the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He's also the co-author of a new book, Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st-Century America, which he did together with Margaret Ratner Kunstler. Thanks for joining us.

MICHAEL RATNER, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Good to be with you, Paul.
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Shocking New Report: Safest Place To Be a Black Man Is in Prison


A new study says the "big house" is the safest place to be a black man.
We’ve just learned that wealth disparities among whites, blacks and Latinos have reached critical mass. We’ve finally been able to acknowledge that the war on drugs is a racially charged exercise that targets "minorities" at a rate of incarceration 13 times that of their white counterparts, often for minor drug offenses. And now that we’ve realized the majority of America’s poor are people of color, we have the Heritage Foundation telling us that ownership of material goods means poor people aren’t actually as destitute as we thought.

Now a new study from the Annals of Epidemiology says a black man is half as likely to die in prison as he is outside of prison. The study focused on 100,000 men, aged 20 to 79 years, held in North Carolina prisons between the years of 1995 and 2005. Sixty percent of those in the study were black. Researchers found that less than 1 percent of the imprisoned men (both black and white) died in that time period and there was no difference in the death rates between black and white men in prison.
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Did Koch Group Team Up With Religious Right to Suppress Wisconsin Vote?


Remember when the Tea Party movement was supposed to be just all about the size of government, and not about those pesky "social" issues? (like equality and whatnot)?

As recall elections for state legislators come to a crescendo, the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity has been very busy, buying ads and mounting what appears to be a voter-suppression scheme based on mailers for absentee ballots. It's not the first time that AFP, the group founded by David Koch, has schemed to suppress the vote; as AlterNet reported, the organization worked with Tea Party groups and the state Republican Party during the 2010 election mid-term campaign to suppress votes in two Milwaukee districts. But this is the first time we know of that AFP has worked in a clear partnership with the religious right, and it did so in an effort that appears designed to mislead Democratic voters into delivering their absentee ballots after the deadline.

Koch Group's Latest Dirty Trick?
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Maddow: Will GOP Assault on Unions Pay off at the Polls...for Democrats?

If you're wondering how the bitter policy battles of the last year, how the union fights state-level which brought the people to the streets and the governors to the brink of autocratic lawlessness, will affect the 2012 election climate--well, so is Rachel Maddow.

In the below clip, she discusses how the GOP "war on unions" might actually reap good results... for Democrats at the ballot box in 2012.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Cantor Intends to Break America's Promises, Including that Medicare One

Remember the Promise Keepers? Say hello to the Promise Breakers.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) on Wednesday suggested that Republicans will continue a push to overhaul programs such as Medicare, saying in an interview that "promises have been made that frankly are not going to be kept for many" and that younger Americans will have to adjust.

"What we have to be, I think, focused on is truth in budgeting here," Cantor told The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal. He said "the better way" for Americans is to "get the fiscal house in order" and "come to grips with the fact that promises have been made that frankly are not going to be kept for many." READ MORE

Are We Heading For A Second Global Financial Crisis?


The only way to avoid another meltdown is to get feral finance--the out of control banking industry--under control.
August 4, 2011

How far are we from #gfc2? For those not aware, #gfc2 is the Twitter hashtag used for "global financial crisis 2". And the question I ask is a real one.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog wondering whether July 2011 felt like July 1914. And then along came a Greek deal, and now a US debt deal, and you might presume I had been prematurely melodramatic.

I wish that were true; I very much doubt it is.

Just to put this in context, the Guardian has reported that:

"Stock markets took fright on Wednesday as fears grew over the health of the global economy and the ongoing European debt crisis.

There was heavy selling in London when trading began, sending the blue-chip FTSE 100 index falling by 91 points, or 1.6%, to 5626. There were also heavy losses across Europe, The French CAC and German DAX indices were down 1.6% and 1.1% respectively.

The European markets took their cue from Tuesday's 2.2% fall in the US Dow Jones index. Overnight, the Japanese Nikkei fell 2.1%, its biggest daily loss since the rout that followed Japan's March earthquake."

And the effective interest rates Italy and Spain are paying have gone over 6% when Germany is paying 2.4%, while the US is being marked for credit downgrade by all major ratings agencies. Gold has hit a record price. Perversely, the cost of UK debt has fallen to new lows: we're now a safe haven. Anyone who thinks we are out of the crisis has to be seriously misguided. And as for those agreements, to shift world war metaphors, think of them as being something equivalent to Chamberlain's Munich deal with Hitler – simple exercises in staving off the inevitable.

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Behind The Scenes With The Reporter Who Took Down Murdoch


"Even though his reputation has suffered, he still has the objective tools of power," says Nick Davies, the Guardian reporter who broke the Murdoch phone hacking story.
August 4, 2011

Nick Davies is a British journalist and filmmaker who began his career in the mid-1970s. An accomplished freelancer and special correspondent for the Guardian, he is the author of five books, including Flat Earth News, a withering and widely-praised critique of the British press. His forthcoming sixth book will concern the latest and arguably most important scoop of his career -- the phone hacking scandal that has rocked News Corp. to its foundation. Davies met with Media Matters in New York to discuss his scoop and why he thinks "Murdoch has a lot to answer for."

How long were you on the phone hacking story before it broke open?

I started looking at it in January 2008. At first, it was just one project I was working on of many. The first story didn't appear until July 2009, after 18 months of working on it. It was a big story that caused a huge reaction in the UK. Then I began tackling it full time -- producing some 80 stories over a two-year period.

When did you begin to suspect there was something big under the surface?
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'The Future Is Terrifying': 6.2 Million Long-Term Unemployed Living On the Edge of Disaster

The emotional toll on people who have been out of work for a long time can be devastating.

July 29, 2011

“Hope is gone. The future is terrifying.”

Those were the sentiments of D.V. from Modesto, CA, concerning her and her husband’s job situation. She was an eligibility case manager and he was a company representative; both were laid off in 2009. Since then, “My husband and I went from making $150K a year to scraping out (if we're lucky) $24K a year. Don't get me wrong, we are lucky to have even that, but it IS a stark reality to have fallen so far so fast."

Another stark reality is the fact that the jobs market has stalled and job creation has fallen to its lowest level of 2011. The June 2011 employment report contained plenty of bad news; only 18,000 jobs were created, the unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent, and hourly wages and hours worked both fell slightly. The job creation revisions for April and May were both to the downside.

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How Predatory Lenders Are Leaving Veterans Homeless, Broke and In Debt


Highly decorated veterans die in the streets because America tolerates a financial system that preys on vets.
August 4, 2011

Last week, Andrea Chandler opened her mailbox in rural Virginia to find an official-looking envelope warning her that an immediate response was requested, with a Washington, DC return address and ominous logos to suggest it was a communication from a government agency. She knew what she'd find inside: a solicitation from a firm offering to refinance her home and lower her monthly payments.

Chandler is a US Navy veteran with almost 10 years of service, from June 1998 to January 2008, and she's been getting these solicitations since she bought her home with the assistance of a Veterans Administration (VA) loan guarantee in 2008.

She's a target of pre-screened credit offers, a practice used throughout the financial industry that violates consumer privacy and sets people up for identity theft. These offers prey upon people who may lack the financial savvy to understand the truth behind the appealing terms. In pre-screening, financial institutions take advantage of vast amounts of data on consumers and their habits to tailor offers of credit cards, home loans and other financing.

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How JP Morgan Took Over All Kentucky's Financial Services, And Why You Should Be Scared


One of the major players in the global financial crisis is now in charge of all financial transactions in an entire state. Could this spread?

August 4, 2011

On July 1, JP Morgan Chase became the Commonwealth’s bank. As the state’s official depository, JP now receives all deposits, writes all checks and makes all wire transfers on the $12-15 billion that flow through Kentucky state government in the course of a fiscal year. It will cut payroll checks, receive federal and other funds earmarked for the state, and disburse educational or transportation or any other funds to their appropriate monetary endpoints. For its trouble, the bank will receive $1.3 million in state fees and the ability to re-lend idle state funds out to customers for private gain.

Yes, you should be worried. READ MORE

Leaked Wal-Mart Memo Reveals America's Not Buying Their Stuff


Bloomberg News obtained an internal memo revealing that the economic downturn companies like Wal-Mart help create isn't exactly helping its sales--while competitors' sales continue to grow.

This leads Gawker's Hamilton Nolan to wonder if America's "love affair" with the nasty corporate giant may be slowly coming to an end.

Here's the dirt from the Bloomberg story this morning:

Those Wal-Mart stores had 82.8 million fewer visits through the first five months of the company’s fiscal year than a year earlier, says the memo, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Wal-Mart doesn’t disclose those traffic numbers, and David Tovar, a spokesman, declined to comment on the memo. READ MORE

Shady Company Donates a Million Dollars to Mitt Romney Super-PAC, Then Immediately Dissolves

Well, this is shady:

A mystery company that pumped $1 million into a political committee backing Mitt Romney has been dissolved just months after it was formed, leaving few clues as to who was behind one of the biggest contributions yet of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The existence of the million-dollar donation — as gleaned from campaign and corporate records obtained by NBC News — provides a vivid example of how secret campaign cash is being funneled in ever more circuitous ways into the political system. READ MORE

Obama's stewardship so far...

Well, you have to realize that what he should have done, is mainly being
forwarded by pundits, economists and editorialist etc., none of whom are
in the "hot seat" so to speak. Obama is in the hot seat, he does have
his very own hands on the "levers of power".

That said, you have to remember that he is a "chief executive", not a dictator.
He doesn't get to pull those levers on his own, not if he wants to survive politically. Governing is an art! While economists can add things up, multiply and divide, to come up with answers that are true to the strictures of mathematics, a President cannot do that. If you put a dollar into a change
making machine, you expect to get four quarters back, but if you put that same dollar into a political machine, there's no way to tell what you will get back.

We have a representative form of government, that requires the parties holding power, to accept a solution, whatever that solution might be. Before it can be made operational legislation. If one party goes absolutely insane, under our system of government, that does not mean that they can be ignored or over ridden.
They are elected officials who are presumed to represent the people who put them in office. Those people are American citizens and they are entitled to their views, just the same as anyone who has successfully selected official representation.

So, we had the crisis and Obama had to give in enough to get some of what he wanted. But, had he not done so, we'd have had a dictator in all but name.
If republicans don't like what representation they're getting from their elected official, then that's something they'll have to do something about! It is not for Obama to dictate the course for the country. He can try to persuade, try to convince, try to reason. But, if all of that fails to result in a turn in the views of the opposition, he has to navigate the "blockade". Not to have done so, we're pretty nearly all in agreement, would have had disastrous results.
Thus, like it or not, he had to take what "we the people" had forced on him.
Obviously "we the people" for some strange reason, did not speak loudly enough to back down the officials who, apparently, decided to steer their own course, apart from the people who elected them. This is not the first time we've seen the Republican party do this! So we should not be surprised to see it happen once again. "Wisconsin" anyone?

Part of the problem is the divisiveness. Because we are not all republicans, we don't write to republican officials, we write to democratic ones. That way each side is sort of inured against the oppositions opinions. That should change. I don't think any democratic official would dismiss out-of-hand letters written to them by republicans, I don't believe republicans would be able to do that either.
But it would give them all a better idea of how many citizens stand where and possibly why.

Obwon

Bill Maher: Republicans "Want the Economy to Tank, Because That's Their Best Ticket to Beat Obama"

Last night, Bill Maher joined Ed Show fill-in Michael Eric Dyson to discuss the GOP's ongoing shenanigans, including the recent debt hostage negotiations deal. Among other things, Maher said that Republicans "want the economy to tank, because that’s their best ticket to beat Obama. And the bill they just forced him to sign is a great start to insure we have this double dip recession, and that unemployment stays high, and that nothing is moving in the economy."

Watch the whole segment, in two parts, below:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


h/t Raw Story

By Lauren Kelley | Sourced from AlterNet
Posted at August 4, 2011, 7:18 am

Stephen Colbert's Hilarious Takedown of Republican Paranoia on Birth Control (It Involves Dinosaurs and Condoms)

The Colbert Report
Women's Health-Nazi Plan

Republicans think birth control being covered by health insurance as "preventative care"--something that should have happened long ago--is going to bring about the end of civilization. Seriously.

This insane kind of paranoia is the perfect target for Stephen Colbert, who launched into a killer satire of this reaction on his show last night. It's a must-watch. And yes, it involved Colbert's impression of a dinosaur trying to use prophylactics.

READ MORE

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Paul McCartney Says He Has Been Hacked


Musical legend Paul McCartney said he was apparently a victim in the recent News of the World hacking scandal.

While appearing via satellite to promote his upcoming 9/11 tribute documentary The Love We Make on Showtime, McCartney told reporters at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews that he is due to discuss the situation with authorities at the end of his current U.S. tour.

"Apparently, I've been hacked," McCartney said. "I don't know much about it because [the police] won't tell anyone except the person themselves. So, I will be talking to them about that. I think it's a horrendous violation of privacy. I do think it has been going on for a long time, and I do think more people than we know knew about it."
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25 Things We Learned During the Debt Crisis

(Click here for larger image.)

If nothing else, the debt ceiling crisis provided what Barack Obama is so fond of calling a "teachable moment." Hopefully, that extends to the President himself. After seeing his nominees blocked, his legislation filibustered and popular upper-income tax increases delayed by Republicans who withheld their support from his watered down stimulus and health care programs, President Obama nevertheless continued to seek common ground with those whose only goal remains his political destruction. The result was as painful as it was predictable.

As for the rest of us, here are 25 things we learned during the debt crisis.

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Beware Parents: Fox News Thinks Spongebob Is Indoctrinating Your Kids To Be Tree Huggers. No, Seriously.



Look at that insidious, evil liberal Spongebob Squarepants. Teaching impressionable children that global warming and unregulated and unrestrained capitalistic greed are bad things. How dare they?

Fox News has a new enemy. Today’s Fox and Friends devoted multiple segments to attacking SpongeBob SquarePants for telling kids the truth about global warming.[..]READ MORE

Dear Former Directors of Disgraced Firms: Your Future’s So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades

Jeffrey Skilling, exception proving the rule that you don't need to follow the rules.Photo: Getty Images

# 8/3/11 at 11:45 AM # Comment

Dealbook wades into the service journalism watersand considers the plight of the wretched souls who sat on the boards of such now-defunct firms as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Will they ever work in this town again?

Of course! They already are, in fact. At quite lucrative and prestigious gigs. But the fate of Enron's former directors is particularly instructive when considering their longer-term prospects. Yes, there were the high-profile jail sentences for the big executives like Jeffrey Skilling, but the guys "charged with overseeing the company" have landed on their feet. Some have academic careers that are humming along (the chairman of Enron's audit committee teaches at Stanford's Business School, for instance); four remain on corporate boards (including one guy for Lockheed Martin — he's not a guy overly worried with optics, obviously ). Others have continued on in their non-Enron private sector careers without much of a problem at all. One former director was even named one of the “luckiest persons in Houston” by Fortune. (She sold off her stock before everything hit the fan.) Presumably, though, if their association with Enron taught them anything, it's that you make your own luck. Maybe that's why "a few of the directors conveniently omit Enron from their biographies."

Ex-Directors of Failed Firms Have Little to Fear [Dealbook/NYT]

Faye Dunaway Facing Eviction From Rent-Stabilized Upper East Side Apartment

Faye Dunaway.Photo: Paramount Pictures

# 8/3/11 at 11:55 AM # 42Comments

The takeaway from today's New York Times article about a lawsuit over actress Faye Dunaway's Upper East Side apartmentis not that she's another movie star unfairly using New York's rent stabilization laws to keep a posh pied-รก-terre in the city. (Although, evidence suggests that she does live in West Hollywood and is using the $1,048.72-a-month East 78th Street walk-up as a living space for her son, Liam Dunaway O'Neill.) No, the point the paper seems to try to make is that Ms. Dunaway is ... kind of ... poor:
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Mitch McConnell Admits That Hostage-Taking Is Exactly What the GOP Did


# 8/3/11 at 2:06 PM
# 32Comments

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the GOP. Don't call them terrorists though. [WP via Political Wire]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How Much, Exactly, Did the Tea Party ‘Compromise’?

Tea Partiers.

Joe Biden is in hot water for supposedly calling the Tea Party "terrorists," but his basic point — that the group of lawmakers hijacked the debt deal — is less controversial. It's something Tea Partiers seem quite proud of, in fact.

Some Tea Partiers might have been willing to vote for the deal in the end, but not until their stonewalling had dramatically altered the terms of what sort of compromise was possible. They weren't exactly happy with the final deal, which lacked, among other things, cuts to Medicare and Social Security. (Of course, any compromise at all, other than the most draconian budget reduction, would have been greeted as a failure on the far fiscal right.) The Tea Party's muscle-flexing on the debt issue will have clear political consequences, too: All of the 2012 candidates, save for Jon Huntsman, came out against the debt compromise in a clear nod to the Tea Party; the candidates might be presenting a nearly unified front, but it's one that, funnily enough, points to a deeper rift within the GOP, which is emerging from the budget fight anything but unified.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, wasn't quite sure what to make of the role the Tea Party had played: The editorial pages applauded the group for its heroic, last-minute willingness to bend a bit, as if positive feedback might encourage Tea Partiers to behave as better Republican citizens in the future: "Tea partiers will do more for their cause by applauding this victory and working toward the next, rather than diminishing what they've accomplished because it didn't solve every fiscal problem in one impossible swoop." It was "A Tea Party Triumph," rewarded with a gold star. Meanwhile, the paper's news division reported that the "Tea Party Sees No Triumph In Compromise." Whoops.

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Breaking: Another Executive at News Corp. Arrested in Phone-Hacking Scandal

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

A man believed to be Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor at News of the World, has been arrested and taken into custody for questioning in the UK phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. He was arrested on charges of corruption and conspiring to intercept communications, the same allegations that Rebekah Brooks is facing.After being questioned by police, Kuttner is expected to be released on bail until October; he is the eleventh person to be arrested in the phone-hacking scandal. Kuttner left his role at News of the World in 2009. [Guardian UK]

Does Newt Gingrich Really Pay People to Follow Him on Twitter?

Newt Gingrich has approximately one billion more followers than Jon Huntsman.Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Two days ago, generally overlooked presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that he should be taken more seriously by the media because he has six times more Twitter followers than all the other candidates combined. We immediately assumed that this was just one of those things Gingrich lies about and hopes nobody double-checks, like that time he slammed Paul Ryan's debt plan and then claimed he was never referring to Paul Ryan's debt plan.

But, amazingly, it's almost true! Newt Gingrich has a whopping 1,325,903 followers on Twitter. Michele Bachmann, between her congressional and campaign accounts, has 90,037. Mitt Romney has 62,824. Herman Cain has 51,850. Tim Pawlenty has 45,366. Ron Paul, considering his vast Internet following, has a surprisingly low 18,678. Rick Santorum has 13,339. Gary Johnson has 9,642. Jon Huntsman has 9,632 between two accounts. Put all the non-Gingrich candidates together, and they have a total of 301,368 followers — not quite one-sixth of Gingrich's followers, but less than one-fourth, which is still pretty shocking.

Or is it more pathetic than shocking? A former staffer tells Gawker:

Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.

About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various "follow agencies," another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt's profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn't follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you'll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated. Pathetic, isn't it?

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Murdoch Hacked Us Too

Illustration by Eddie Guy

The News Corp. scandal already exposed just how thoroughly the company had corrupted Britain. Now it’s time to look on this side of the pond.

* By Frank Rich
* Published Jul 31, 2011

When I was offered a job as a film critic for the New York Post in 1975, it had just been labeled “a terrible newspaper” by Nora Ephron in her media column for Esquire. Having been a Post reporter, she knew whereof she spoke. Dolly Schiff, the paper’s legendary dowager-in-chief, was notorious for being cheap, petty, whimsical, and, somewhat more fetchingly, a rumored onetime paramour of FDR. Her paper was a rapidly declining asset—a staunchly liberal tabloid chasing after a hypothetical middlebrow afternoon readership too highfalutin for the Daily News and yet insufficiently titillated by the sober New York Times. I knew Nora and asked her if I should really take the plunge into a newsroom she had so convincingly portrayed as a hellhole. She advised, wisely: Well, why not? I was 25 that spring and had nothing to lose except my innocence.

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Dunkin’ Donuts Prostitute Snagged in ‘Extra Sugar’ Sting

An overnight employee at a New Jersey Dunkin' Donuts was caught selling sex in addition to Munchkins and coffee drinks after police were given an anonymous tip about the off-menu items. Melissa Redmond, 29, was taking ten to fifteen minute breaks to make some extra cash in the parking lot, even propositioning customers — and eventually a plain-clothes officer — via the drive-thru window. Cops cleverly dubbed their investigation "extra sugar," gathering info and watching over the premises for six weeks. But were they allowed to expense their late-night surveillance snacks?

'Extra sugar' investigation leads to prostitution arrest for Rockaway Dunkin Donuts worker [Daily Record]

Related:

Chris Christie Explains Why He Is Fat

American Jews Think Pretty Highly of American Muslims

Christians are kind of "eh" on the Muslim loyalty question.Photo: Abu Dhabi Gallup Center


There's a lot of bad blood between Jews and Muslims around the world, but according to a new report by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center,


American Jews hold fewer prejudices against American Muslims than most other religious groups. Take the above chart, for example. Jews are far more likely than any Christian denomination to believe that American Muslims are loyal to the United States.

Jews are also more inclined to think that Muslims face prejudice by other Americans. Jews even seem to be more sensitive to such prejudice than Muslims are themselves.

And Jews are less likely than other religious groups to believe that American Muslims are sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

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Glenn Beck criticized for comparing Norway victims to "Hitler Youth"


The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) criticized conservative talk show host Glenn Beck Tuesday over the former Fox News host's comparison of the victims of Norway's mass shooting to "Hitler Youth."

"Just when we think Glenn Beck can get no more offensive, he ups the ante," said NJDC President David Harris in a Tuesday statement. "It is simply horrendous that Beck would compare the young victims of this tragic crime in Norway to the 'Hitler Youth.' It is repugnant to invoke the Holocaust like this when discussing a Labor Party summer camp for teens -- to say nothing of a camp that was attacked in this calamitous way."

Sixty-eight people, mostly in their teens and 20s, were killed Friday in a shooting spree on Norway's Utoya Island, which was hosting a summer camp connected with the Labor Party's youth wing. Eight people were killed in a connected bomb blast outside the government headquarters in Oslo.

Charles Barkley: 'Any Athlete Who Says He Never Played with a Gay Guy Is a Stone-Freakin’ Idiot


A few days ago, Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts revealed that he is gay. And the whole sporting world exploded yawned.

Okay, that’s not precisely true. There has been a bit of comment and analysis. But so far, no controversy. No homophobic ranting, no athletes stepping up to say that Jesus doesn’t approve, none of that. This is a wonderful thing. That the public response so far has amount to a collective shoulder shrug is evidence that America is finally getting over the idea that sports just isn’t ready for gays in the locker room. Read more

While Cutting Social Services, Kentucky Gives $43 Million Tax Break to Bible-Themed Amusement Park

When Noah built the Ark, it stood as a symbol of salvation. No doubt Noah preached that only those who went through the Ark’s door would be saved from coming judgment.

What if we built the Ark (out of wood) today? Imagine the impact it could have on the world. What a powerful outreach to teach the world about God’s Word and the message of salvation!
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Naturally, this raises serious questions about the separation of church and state. READ MORE

Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater Founder Creating Private Army of 'Christian Crusaders' in the Persian Gulf


The United Arab Emirates has secretly signed a $529 million contract with Erik Prince’s new company to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign mercenaries. READ MORE

The Great Switch by the Super Rich: How Wealthy Americans Started Paying So Little in Taxes

Over the last four decades, tax rates on the very rich have plummeted while loopholes have gotten bigger. http://act.alternet.org/go/7481?akid=6996.150508.XaU6ep&t=13

10 Steps to Defeat the Corptocracy


The only way to overcome the power of money is regain our courage and solidarity. Here's how to do that.READ MORE

Where did all the snow go? The polar bear who can't understand why his world has suddenly turned purple

Where there should be snow, instead there is a field of purple flowers, confusing this polar bear





The pictures were taken by Michael Poliza in Hudson Bay at Point Hubbard, Canada

Mr Poliza, from Hamburg, Germany, said: 'During the Arctic summer polar bears fast and spend most of their time resting.

'This polar bear still had three months to go before the seal hunting season began again. Because there are only about 25,000 polar bears left in the wild their future looks more uncertain than ever.

'The southern-most populations along the Hudson Bay are the most affected by climate change. And if this polar bear knew all that, he'd definitely look sad.'

Read more:

Fukushima's Apocalyptic Threat

Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
Intro: "Fukushima may be in an apocalyptic downward spiral. Forget the corporate-induced media coma that says otherwise…or nothing at all. Lethal radiation is spewing unabated. Emission levels could seriously escalate. There is no end in sight. The potential is many times worse than Chernobyl. Containing this disaster may be beyond the abilities of Tokyo Electric or the Japanese government."
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Dubya Cashes In on Bin Laden


Peter H. Stone, The Daily Beast
Intro: "George W. Bush said after bin Laden's killing that he wanted to stay out of the public eye. But Peter H. Stone of the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News says 43's becoming a high-profile figure on the buck-raking circuit."
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Tell 'Psychology Today' to Stop Publishing Racist and Sexist Articles

The article 'Why are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women' showed both a gross bias on the part of the author, Satoshi Kanazawa. READ MORE

Murdoch Forces Gore Off the Air in Italy Over Olbermann

Founder of Current TV, former Vice President Al Gore. (photo: Kamran Jebreili/AP)

Former US vice president says media giant is forcing his liberal Current TV service off air in Italy for hiring Keith Olbermann.


ormer US Vice President Al Gore has hit out at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, accusing it of "an abuse of power" by forcing his liberal TV station off air in Italy because it did not fit in with the media giant's "ideological agenda."

In an interview with the Guardian, Gore said the Current TV news and documentary channel was told unexpectedly three weeks ago that it could no longer be carried by Sky Italia because of its decision to hire a US left-leaning commentator often critical of Murdoch's company.

He added that the decision reflected how News Corporation operated worldwide. "News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch," Gore said.
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Comic Books as a Path to Prison Reform: An Interview With Activist Lois Ahrens

Photo Credit: The Real Cost of Prisons Project

May 12, 2011 Lois Ahrens is the Founder/Director of The Real Cost of Prisons Project (RCPP) and has been an activist/organizer for more than 40 years. First started in 2001, RCPP brings together justice activists, artists, justice policy researchers and people directly experiencing the impact of mass incarceration to work together to end the U.S. prison nation. RCPP created workshops, a websitethat includes sections of writing and ‘comix’ by prisoners, a daily news blog focused on mass incarceration and three comic books that were first created in 2005: Prisoners Town: Paying the Price, by artist Kevin Pyle and writer Craig Gilmore; Prisoners of the War on Drugs, by artist Sabrina Jones and writers Ellen Miller-Mack and Lois Ahrens; and Prisoners of a Hard Life: Women and Their Children by artist Susan Willmarth and writers Ellen Miller-Mack and Lois Ahrens.
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Vision: Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet

We have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed that nature would never fail to provide or that technology would save us.


Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from the recently released book, The Rights of Nature: The case for a Universal Declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, produced by the Council of Canadians, Global Exchange and Fundacion Pachamama. This book reveals the path of a movement driving transformation of our human relationship with nature away from domination and towards balance. This book gathers the wisdom of indigenous cultures, scientists, activists small farmers, spiritual leaders and US communities who seek a different path for protecting nature by establishing Nature's Rights in law and culture. In addition to this excerpt, the book includes essays from Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Thomas Goldtooth, Eduardo Galeano, and many others. Copies of the book may be obtained through Global Exchange.
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Let's End the Arms Race of Secret, Corporate Money in Our Elections


Democrats should use this moment to seize the overwhelming bipartisan sentiment across this country that we need to curb the influence of money in our elections.

The following article first appeared on TheNation.com.For more great content from the Nation, sign up for their email newsletters here.

The post-Citizens United drive for secret money is now a veritable arms race.

As a New York Times editorial recently noted,

Bill Burton, former White House deputy press secretary, is leading a group called Priorities USA to “raise unlimited money from undisclosed sources to aid in the president’s re-election campaign.

While I’m sympathetic to the notion that Democrats cannot afford to cede ground in these exorbitant, no-holds-barred campaigns—as one colleague put it, “You don’t fight with one hand tied behind your back”—this isn’t news to be welcomed by pro-democracy reformers. By accepting the same opaque money they are arguing against, the Democrats’ case for campaign finance reform becomes morally ambiguous at best.
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The Big Squeeze: How Americans Are Being Crushed by Financial Insecurity and Doubt


Americans are living lives of lowered expectation and intensified financial uncertainty.

The Great Recession officially started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. It was the gravest financial crisis the nation has faced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Sadly, most Americans have yet to recover.

It fostered what many call the “new normal,” the unspoken sense that America is stuck if not in decline. This new sensibility bears profound consequences; foremost is the recognition that Americans are living lives of lowered expectation and intensified financial uncertainty.
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Schwarzenegger, DSK, and Gingrich: Do We Have Psychopaths Misruling Our World?


The serial misbehavior of these men was rationalized and excused for years, but it demonstrates a perpetual problem: ruling class impunity.READ MORE

Andrew Breitbart's 'Electronic Brownshirts'

Amy Goodman, Guardian UK
Amy Goodman writes: "Rightwing media personality Andrew Breitbart is the forceful advocate of the slew of deceptively edited videos that target and smear progressive individuals and institutions. He promoted the videos that purported to catch employees of the community organisation Acorn assisting a couple in setting up a prostitution ring. He showcased the edited video of Shirley Sherrod, an African American employee of the US department of agriculture, which completely convoluted her speech, making her appear to admit to discriminating against a white farmer."
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Is Michelle Bachmann Smarter Than a 10th Grader?


Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf writes: "Rep. Michelle Bachmann rose to national prominence by courting controversy and firing up the conservative base. Thousands of politically active people would gladly argue with her if given the opportunity. It is therefore interesting that a high school sophomore in Cherry Valley, NJ, has generated national headlines by challenging the Minnesota Congresswoman to a debate."
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Vilnius mayor crushes car parked in cycle lane


The mayor has long urged city residents to take up cycling
Continue reading the main story

The mayor of Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, has been filmed using an armoured vehicle to crush a car parked illegally in a cycle lane.