Monday, December 22 2014

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Tania Unzueta: Will ICE Director Saldaña's First Week Include Separating Lesbian Couple?

On the same day that Sarah Saldaña, the new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was being confirmed by the Senate, the ICE office in New Orleans denied the request to stop the deportation of a woman who’s name the new director shares. Sarah Bermudez, a lesbian immigrant from El Salvador is currently in immigration detention in Louisiana and could be slated for deportation any time.

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Wendell Potter: Good news on health care in 2014, but we're still spending too much

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on what went right and what didn’t and to speculate about what might happen in the coming 12 months.

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Tim McDonnell: This Is the Stupidest Anti-Science Bullshit of 2014
Full story: Mother Jones

John Sifton: Prosecute the Torturers

We tortured some folks,” President Barack Obama said in 2014. Indeed. And now, from the December 9 Senate Intelligence Committee report, we know more about how it was done. Prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation. The beatings and painful shackling. The forced rectal intrusions. The waterboarding. We also now know about the hallucinations, suicide attempts, and heavy bruising. And we know, finally, that American interrogators often committed these abuses against innocent people: Whatever lack of sympathy some observers might have for detainees of the CIA, the summary reveals that many were not involved in criminal activity at all. One in five didn’t even meet the CIA’s own criteria for detention. Many of the 119 CIA detainees eventually were released.

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Robert Reich: The Coin of the Realm: How Inside Traders Are Rigging America

A few years ago, hedge fund Level Global Investors made $54 million selling Dell Computer stock based on insider information from a Dell employee. When charged with illegal insider trading, Global Investors’ co-founder Anthony Chiasson claimed he didn’t know where the tip came from.

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Sam Pizzigati: Remembering the Greediest Americans this Holiday Season

Peace on Earth, good will toward men. We honor these noble values every holiday season — and some people actually work to advance them all year long.

Other folks, by contrast, mock these values. They spend their days chasing after ever grander stashes of personal treasure.

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Feinstein Statement on Cuba

This is also good news for our two nations. For too long our relationship has been soured by mistrust and clouded by memories of the Cold War. Reports that our countries will move to normalize relations are very welcome. Reconciling our differences, opening embassies, increasing trade and building people-to-people relationships are all long overdue.

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Jim Hightower: If officials can't even call torture what it is, then you can bet it will happen again.

The spooks are spooked.

Not by anything that foreign enemies might do to America — but by what our CIA and its political overseers did to America.

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Mark Byrnes: Dick Cheney's David Frost Moment

All of us who teach face a daily, daunting task: how do we take our subject matter—which we know from years of study to be terrifically complicated and nuanced—and make it accessible and understandable to our students, all while avoiding the peril of oversimplification?

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Patrick L. Smith: We are f***ing sadists: We are not decent, and we are not a democracy
Full story: Salon.com

Jameel Jaffer: Those Who Approved Torture Shouldn't Be Above the Law

The Senate report released earlier this week makes clear that the CIA tortured more men, and far more brutally, than anyone outside the intelligence community previously understood. Given the report's findings, the attorney general should appoint a special prosecutor who can conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation.

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Robert Borosage: The Cromnibus guarantees another year of growing inequality and declining security for most Americans

The government didn’t shut down. Congress passed the massive – 1,603 page – spending bill, chock full of special interest giveaways, to keep the doors open. The Washington Post editorial page, the voice of the conservative establishment, acknowledges all the horrors – but celebrates the results

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Dianne Feinstein: Torture report is about us, not enemies, and we must enact reform

On Tuesday, a five-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program was finally made public, drawing back the curtains on a very dark period of American history. The purpose of making this report public is simple: to ensure something like this can never happen again.

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Asad Rehman: Lima climate talks end with little progress

The only thing these talks have achieved is to reduce the chances of a fair and effective agreement to tackle climate change in Paris next year.

Once again poorer nations have been bullied by the industrialised world into accepting an outcome which leaves many of their citizens facing the grim prospect of catastrophic climate change.

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Andy Borowitz: Citigroup To Move Headquarters to U.S. Capitol Building
Full story: New Yorker

Isaiah J. Poole: The Ominous 'Cromnibus,' A Budget Bill That Should Have Died

With all of the justifiable anger directed at what’s in the 2015 spending bill – the omnibus continuing resolution or “cromnibus” – that the House struggled to pass late Thursday, there is also a major story to be told about what’s not in the bill. It’s a story of missed opportunities that is as significant as the Wall Street giveaways, the kowtowing to fossil fuel interests and gratuitous swipes at conservative boogeymen that were written into this monstrosity.

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Robert Weissman: Omnibus Debacle: If This Is the Kind of 'Bipartisanship' Coming in 2015, the Country Is in Dire Straits

Instead of Congress passing a clean funding bill along lines that were previously agreed to and had bipartisan acceptance, Big Business exercised its insider influence and took advantage of an artificially rushed and secretive process to cut deals to enhance the political influence of the super-rich, put taxpayers on the hook – again – for Wall Street recklessness and make our roads less safe.

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Heather Digby Parton: The Torture Report's Hidden Fiasco: How Mark Udall Revealed a Little-noticed Smoking Gun
Full story: AlterNet

Liesl Gerntholtz: Time for US to Support Wartime Rape Victims

Protests outside the White House are usually about the issue of the moment – Obamacare, same-sex marriage, Michael Brown. But the activists outside the White House today want to bring attention to an issue that has sadly endured for ages and mostly affects people far, far away. But it’s a problem the Obama administration hasn’t done all it can to address – and needs to.

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Eric T. Schneiderman: Following The Garner Case, We Need To Restore Confidence In Our Justice System Now

For the last week, demonstrators across the country have used Eric Garner’s last words as a rallying cry for reform. Night after night, in city after city, demonstrators took to the streets chanting “I can’t breathe” and “it stops here.”

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Robert Reich: Wall Street's Democrats

In Washington’s coming budget battles, sacred cows like the tax deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable donations are likely to be on the table along with potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

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James Zogby: 'Protect and Serve' or 'In Your Face'

In 1971, I was working at a Boy's Club in the Germantown section of Philadelphia running an after-school program. One day, the Police Athletic League representative dropped off a pile of coloring books for the younger kids. On the cover was a picture of a policeman walking hand-in-hand with a little girl, clearly (or so I thought) helping her across the street. My assumption, however, wasn't shared by 7-year-old Tanya. The minute she was handed her book she shouted out: "Oh, oh, she's in trouble. He's taking her away to jail."

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Robert Borosage: Bernie Sanders Lays Down the Gauntlet

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released an Economic Agenda for America last week, detailing 12 reforms to help make this economy work for working people once more.

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Lisa Lange: Discovery Channel's "Eaten Alive" a Shameful Stunt for Ratings

Last night, despite protests by conservationists, biologists, herpetologists, and decent people everywhere who oppose the abuse of wildlife, the Discovery Channel aired the inexcusable torment of a captured wild green anaconda and several other snakes. The animals were removed from their water habitat and transported to a filming location, and the chosen snake was deceived into using her precious energy reserves to constrict a human being pretending to be a pig, all for a publicity stunt.

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Eugene Robinson: The Eric Garner case's sickening outcome
Full story: Washington Post

Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins: Wage Gap Too Big to Ignore

Three years after the Occupy movement first directed long-overdue attention to the scourge of inequality in America, the gulf between rich and poor has gotten too big for even the Federal Reserve to ignore.

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Jim Hightower: Operation Endless War

Only a few months ago, President Barack Obama announced the good news that our combat role in Afghanistan — the longest war in U.S. history — would finally end by New Year’s Day.

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Andy Borowitz: New Proposal Would Provide Grand Juries with Eyes
Full story: New Yorker

Vincent Warren: Grand Jury Fails to Indict NYPD Officer Who Killed Eric Garner with Illegal Choke Hold

How can anyone in the community have faith in the system now? First Ferguson, now Staten Island. The Grand Jury’s failure to indict sends the clear message that Black lives don’t matter.

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Ryan Alexander: Fueling Corporate Welfare

Getting something for nothing is a pretty sweet deal — at least if you’re the one getting something. Not so much if you’re the one receiving nothing in exchange.

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