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Archive for June 11th, 2014

Enter the World Cup 2014 Confidence Pool

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Enter the World Cup 2014 Confidence Pool
SportsFilter, the sports site run by the same publisher as the Drudge Retort, is running a World Cup 2014 confidence pool. Rank the 32 World Cup teams from top to bottom and receive points when they win or tie based on your ranking. The contest requires a SportsFilter account to enter. First prize is an Adidas Brazuca Glider soccer ball, a replica of the tournament’s official game ball.


Doctor to evaluate 12-year-old charged in stabbing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Doctor to evaluate 12-year-old charged in stabbing
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A 12-year-old girl accused of stabbing a friend in a quest to please a spooky fictional character will have a mental evaluation, while an attorney for a second girl also charged in the crime said Wednesday that he could raise the issue of competency later.

Syrian woman survives 700 days of blockade
HOMS, Syria (AP) — Over the course of the 700-day blockade, her world shrunk to her living room and her kitchen. She survived by eating plants and reading books. She refused to look in the mirror, because seeing her withered state might break her spirit.


Meet David Brat, the man who ousted Eric Cantor

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Meet David Brat, the man who ousted Eric Cantor
A look at the tea party-identified candidate who just pulled off a shocking upset against the House Majority Leader

Hillary Clinton: Vladimir Putin may not like my new memoir
Clinton says her new memoir will ruffle some feathers abroad, weighs in on climate change, gay rights

Eric Cantor to step down from House GOP leadership
The House majority leader, reeling from a stunning primary defeat, will relinquish his leadership post next month


News Ethicists Rip CBS News’ “Outrageous” Cantor Ethics Failure

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

News Ethicists Rip CBS News’ “Outrageous” Cantor Ethics Failure

Veteran news ethicists and observers are criticizing CBS News and pollster Frank Luntz for failing to disclose Luntz’s financial ties to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor during an appearance on CBS This Morning today to discuss Cantor’s surprise primary defeat.

Luntz, a CBS News political analyst, said during the interview that Cantor’s defeat was “a great loss not just for Virginia, but for the country.” But at no point did CBS News or Luntz disclose that Luntz’s firm, Luntz Global, had received more than $15,000 in consulting fees since 2012 from Cantor’s congressional campaign.  

CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair claimed the network had provided adequate disclosure during the broadcast, telling Washington Post reporter Erik Wemple: “His work as a strategist for Republicans was disclosed on the broadcast.”

That explanation doesn’t satisfy veteran media critics and reporters. They slammed CBS in interviews with Media Matters, saying that the specific Cantor connection should have been revealed.

“I think it is a classic case of a conflict of interest and CBS was remiss in not knowing it,” said Alex S. Jones, former media writer for The New York Times and director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. “If CBS did know it and didn’t mention it, then they are bad journalists. If they did know and agreed not to mention it as a condition for getting Luntz on the show, then they were not only bad, but corrupt.”

Andy Alexander, former Washington Post ombudsman, agreed.

“It’s Journalism 101. Anything that could impact the credibility of the person being interviewed should be disclosed,” he said in an email about Luntz. “It’s a matter of being honest and transparent with your audience.”

Ken Auletta, media writer for The New Yorker, said such non-disclosures are becoming too common: “He should have disclosed he got paid and CBS should have disclosed he got paid,” Auletta said in a phone interview. “This is very common now in television to have political consultants as talking heads.”

David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun television writer, called the lack of disclosure “outrageous.”

“I can’t imagine how anyone would think it is ok NOT to clearly explain that conflict of interest,” he said via email. “And CBS wants to sell this show as somehow being the journalistically solid viewing choice.”

For Alicia Shepard, former NPR ombudsman, such action is a form of deception by CBS: “When CBS viewers learn — and they will — that Luntz worked for Cantor, they will feel deceived. None of us likes that feeling. CBS loses nothing by acknowledging that Luntz worked for Cantor. Why not be transparent? “

Kevin Smith, chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, offered a similar thumbs down: “This constant parade of pundits and analysts on network TV with insider interests needs to stop. Clearly, CBS and others are not willing to be forthcoming about these conflicts and share them in a transparent manner with the viewers.”

This isn’t the first time CBS has had disclosure problems with Luntz, who has been an analyst for the network since 2012. The GOP strategist appeared on CBS in October and November of that year to discuss Republican vice presidential candidate and Rep. Paul Ryan without disclosing Luntz Global had received money from Ryan’s congressional campaign.


President’s Climate Change Math Doesn’t Add Up

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

President’s Climate Change Math Doesn’t Add Up
Rich Lowry, RealClearPolitics
For people who use the word “science” as a bludgeon and trumpet their strict commitment to fact and reason, the Obama administration and its supporters are strangely incapable of rational analysis of new climate-change regulations. President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency released draft rules last week to create a vast new regulatory apparatus with no input from Congress — in other words, to govern in its accustomed highhanded, undemocratic manner. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants, in particular coal-fired plants, to 30…


Minister stops sandwich shop brawl

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Minister stops sandwich shop brawl
Defence minister Anna Soubry showed off her diplomatic credentials when she broke up a fight in a cafe.

Passports make for toxic politics
Stopping a problem with passports becoming a crisis


Cantor to step down as leader

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Cantor to step down as leader


Palestinian prisoners detained without charge or trial hunger for freedom

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Palestinian prisoners detained without charge or trial hunger for freedom
Since April 24, 120 out of the 189 Palestinians held without charge or trial have refused taking any food. Hundreds, and on some days thousands, of fellow prisoners also joined them.

The usefulness of the protest was made clear by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call on Israel to either charge or release the Palestinian detainees.

Among the Palestinians held without charge or trial are doctors, legislators, university professors and teenagers.

Israel adopted the 1945 British emergency regulation and extended it to apply to anyone it wants in jail but is unable to prove anything against.

The sheer injustice of being held without charge and for an indefinite period takes on an even wider dimension when knowing that it is practiced by, allegedly, the only democracy in the Middle East, which for an unbelievable 48 years has been holding an entire population under a military occupation that is also supporting and protecting the colonial Jewish-only settlement campaign.

The number of those on hunger strike that are hospitalised tends to grow with each additional day. The past week witnessed an unprecedented transfer of 13 Palestinian hunger striking prisoners to various Israeli hospitals, bringing the total of Palestinians hospitalised to 80.

These are the ones whose lives, Israel’s prison authority feel, are at risk. Many others are kept in jail despite their deteriorating condition.

Israeli officials are debating whether to force feed hunger striking prisoners, which is considered a “cruel act”, an inhuman and degrading punishment.

The World Medical Association holds that it is unethical for a doctor to participate in force feeding.

Israel’s medical association is on the record as being opposed to carrying out force feeding.

Israel’s intelligence service, the Shin Bet, is said to be against any compromise with the striking prisoners, noting that it lost its edge when it released Adnan Khader after the 2012 hunger strike.

Israeli daily Haaretz quoted sources close to Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen as saying that he believes the negotiations with Palestinian hunger strikers in 2012 was a mistake, and that such negotiations should not be repeated.

A Palestinian organisation focused on human rights says detentions are a form of punishment.

Addameer Association said in a report that the frequency of the use of administrative detention has fluctuated throughout Israel’s occupation, but it was specifically used as a means of “collective punishment” against Palestinians who oppose the 48-year-old occupation.

Holding Palestinians without charge or trial has no discernable direct security justification.

The hunger striking prisoners are fighting an uphill battle. The absence of a peace process, the controversy over the Palestinian reconciliation, the Pope’s visit, the elections in Iraq, Egypt and Syria, as well as the crisis in Ukraine have taken the attention of media and the focus of international politicians away from the Palestinians.

Absence of a concerted international will to press Israel to stop its undemocratic acts should not alter the view of its severity.

Action on this clear human rights demand is needed now more than ever precisely because the peace process is stalled.

Without hope and in the absence of a political horizon, the potential death of any prisoner is bound to inflame an already angry and hopeless Palestinian population.

Releasing detainees held without charge or trial will not weaken Israel’s grip on the occupied territories, nor will it affect its tranquility and security. If anything, the opposite is true.

If the Israeli leadership thinks it will be able to keep the occupied Palestinian areas quiet, it is playing with fire.


Bits Blog: Traffic Snarls in Europe as Taxi Drivers Protest Against Uber

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Bits Blog: Traffic Snarls in Europe as Taxi Drivers Protest Against Uber
The start-up that digitally links passengers and freelance drivers has expanded beyond the United States to cities including London, Paris and Berlin — all of them the sites of Wednesday’s protests.



Help for Referees, in a Can
A referee can spray what looks like shaving cream at the spot where a free kick should be taken before pacing off the 10 yards where a wall will form.



Open Source: Egyptian Dissident Sentenced for Challenging Ban on Protest
One of Egypt’s most prominent dissidents, the blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, was arrested on Wednesday outside the Cairo court where he was convicted in absentia.




Finland Sets New, Ambitious Goal For Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 11th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Finland Sets New, Ambitious Goal For Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

It’s the latest European nation, after Denmark, to do so, adding its momentum to efforts in the E.U. parliament, China, and here in the United States.

The post Finland Sets New, Ambitious Goal For Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions appeared first on ThinkProgress.

A wind turbine and a lighthouse in Reposaari, Finland.

A wind turbine and a lighthouse in Reposaari, Finland.

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Last week, Finland became the latest European country to set itself a new and newly ambitious goal for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Change Act legally commits the country to reducing its emissions 80 percent below their 1990 levels by 2050, and enters into legal force in 2015. It sets up a monitoring system and a two-track framework for establishing both medium-term and long-term plans to tackle Finland’s GHG emissions. The long-term plan will deal with the efforts to meet the 2050 target — mainly through the European Union’s cap-and-trade system, of which Finland is a member — and would have to be approved by parliament at least once every ten years. The medium-term plan will address emission reductions in areas that lie outside the EU’s system — traffic, housing, and agriculture, for instance — and would need to be approved by parliament once every election term. Officials would also report to parliament on the medium-term plan every year.

Finally, the legislation also includes efforts for climate adaptation, with a plan to be approved once every decade. There would also be an expert body to help with the planning efforts.

As such, Finland’s Climate Change Act is modeled on similar legislation the United Kingdom passed back in 2008. In February of this year, Denmark also announced its own version of the legislation, legally committing the country to a 40 percent cut below 1990 levels by 2020. Given the bill’s widespread support, observers anticipate it will win final passage this week. And Denmark’s previous governments have already made a commitment, albeit not a legally binding one, to get the country onto 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

All three countries are members of the European Union, which has currently legally committed itself to cutting its GHG emissions 20 percent below their 1990 levels by 2020. As of May, it was expected to beat that goal with room to spare.

The European Commission has already proposed that the E.U. adopt a new reduction goal of 40 percent by 2030, but that policy remains in limbo. Poland appears to be the main hold-out. Binding climate target decisions in the E.U. require unanimous votes, and Poland has vetoed new GHG reduction targets twice in the last three years. The country, which relies on coal for more than 90 percent of its energy production, is reportedly wary that the new targets will include sufficient adjustments to how much of the GHG reduction burden will fall on countries better positioned to meet them versus the nations (like Poland itself) that will face a harder time.

As such, finalizing the E.U.’s new 2030 target will probably depend on what kind of global agreement, if any, is reached by the next international climate summit in 2015.

This actually backs up the logic President Obama laid out earlier this year for the regulatory cuts to carbon emissions from American power plants recently announced by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“American influence is always stronger when we lead by example,” Obama said recently at West Point. “We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

The basic international challenge of climate change is that everyone benefits from GHG reductions — but not everyone benefits the same, and not everyone emits the same amount. And some countries like the United States have benefited economically far more from their carbon emissions than others. The makes the establishment of trust and displays of goodwill essential to nailing down a cooperative effort to cut global GHG emissions.

So Finland’s new target adds to the momentum from Denmark, which adds to the momentum in the E.U. government, which all joins in with the United States’ new regulatory target, as well as intimations from China that the government there may be considering a cap on carbon emissions as well. And hopefully, everyone can egg each other on to a final international agreement in 2015.

The post Finland Sets New, Ambitious Goal For Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions appeared first on ThinkProgress.

David Brat: Embrace Christian Capitalism, Or Hitler Will Come Back

Brat claims to be a “fairly orthodox Calvinist,” but several of his published writings expose a unsettling core theology that is centered around lifting up unregulated, free-market capitalism as a morally righteous system that churches should embrace—or else.

The post David Brat: Embrace Christian Capitalism, Or Hitler Will Come Back appeared first on ThinkProgress.

David Brat

CREDIT: AP

When David Brat defeated House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the Republican primary of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District last night, House Republicans likely lost their only Jewish representative. In his place, they may have gained a radically pro-capitalist Christian theologian.

Christian Tea Party candidates are certainly not unusual, but a trail of writings show that Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon college, has an especially radical theology to support his right-wing politics. Brat’s CV lists him as a graduate of Hope College, a Christian school in Michigan, and Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Church U.S.A. seminary in New Jersey. He claims to be a “fairly orthodox Calvinist,” but several of his published writings expose a unsettling core theology that is centered around lifting up unregulated, free-market capitalism as a morally righteous system that churches should embrace—or else.

In a 2011 paper entitled “God and the Advanced Mammon — Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?”, published in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, Brat champions the moral superiority of the capitalistic system. “Capitalist markets and their expansion in China and India have provided more for the common good, more ‘social welfare,’ than any other policy in the past ten years,” he writes, adding “So, as a seminary student concerned with human welfare, I naturally wanted to learn about these free markets.”

Brat goes on to list a number of arguments for and against the practice of usury, but concludes the paper with a chilling warning about what will happen if churches fail to build a movement in support of free-market capitalism—namely, a Hitler-like figure could rise to power. He writes:

Capitalism is here to stay, and we need a church model that corresponds to that reality. Read Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the weak modern Christian democratic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things happen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actually made people better. Then came the Christians. What happened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit passive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with unified resistance. I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily. The church should rise up higher than Nietzsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong, and do something about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.

“I think the main point is that we need to synthesize Christianity and capitalism,” he adds a few lines later.

This isn’t the only time Brat has sung the praises of religiously-supported capitalism. The idea was also at the center of Brat’s 200-page PhD dissertation at American University, entitled “Human Capital, Religion, and Economic Growth.” The dissertation, which was also obtained by ThinkProgress, examines the role Pietistic Protestantism — as opposed to Catholicism — played in the rapid industrialization of Germany and Great Britain in the 19th century. Although he is more cautious than in his 2011 article, Brat ultimately argues that Protestantism — particularly Calvinism — deserves credit for creating scientific advancement, economic prosperity, and especially a decentralized government in German and Britain. According to Brat, Christianity — especially Calvinist Protestantism — inherently supports “the decentralization of power” that, to him, leads to economic prosperity.

Brat is not alone in using problematic theology to shore up a free-market economics. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., sponsors a “Values and Capitalism” website where writers frequently make claims similar to Brat’s. Brat’s CV mentions a visit to AEI in 2012, where he attended a talk about conservative economics and reportedly explored “potential roles for [Randolph-Macon College] students at AEI.”

The post David Brat: Embrace Christian Capitalism, Or Hitler Will Come Back appeared first on ThinkProgress.