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Archive for June, 2014

In Fever Dreams Begin Irresponsibilities, Texas Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 30th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

In Fever Dreams Begin Irresponsibilities, Texas Edition

Texas-Legislature.jpg

“Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious,” Sigmund Freud wrote in 1899, over in Vienna, Austria.

The Republicans of Texas don’t have a lot of time for foreigners like Freud and foreign notions like psychoanalysis, although they do believe in therapy, as long as it’s “reparative.” Elsewhere on the psychiatric front, they are adamant that “minor mental-health diagnoses” are no reason to “infringe” anyone’s “God-given right” to own and to carry guns. More about the particulars in due course.

The thing is, the Republican Party of Texas has a dream. Lots of dreams: its platform, unveiled last week, has sixteen thousand words’ worth. The road it maps is anything but royal; these good people, after all, are republicans, albeit with a capital “R.” But the document does lead to the G.O.P.’s unconscious, or part of it: its fearsome, rampaging id.

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How France’s Right Wing Is Exploiting The World Cup To Attack Immigrants

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 30th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

How France’s Right Wing Is Exploiting The World Cup To Attack Immigrants

A French town is banning the display of foreign flags after clashes between police and soccer fans of Algerian heritage, a move the French right wing loves.

The post How France’s Right Wing Is Exploiting The World Cup To Attack Immigrants appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Will Freeman is an intern with Think Progress.

French-Algerian soccer fans celebrate with the Algerian flag.

French-Algerian soccer fans celebrate with the Algerian flag.

CREDIT: AP

A French town on the nation’s Mediterranean coastline is banning the display of foreign flags for the rest of the World Cup following clashes between police and soccer fans of Algerian heritage, a move that has set off a string of anti-immigrant comments from France’s right wing.

After Algeria triumphed over South Korea and Russia in matches last week, some French citizens of Algerian heritage celebrating the victories clashed with police, leading to over 100 arrests. In response, the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, issued a decree banning the “ostentatious display of foreign flags” until the tournament wraps up in mid-July. “Since the start of the World Cup we have sadly seen intolerable behavior that severely disrupts public peace,” Estrosi explained.

While the temporary ban only affects the coastal city, the far-right leader of France’s National Front party, Marine Le Pen, seized on the recent instances of rioting and looting following Algeria’s victories to call for dual nationality to be revoked, arguing that the unrest signaled “the total failure of immigration policies in our country.”

“You should pick: are you Algerian or French, Moroccan or French, but you cannot be both,” she added. Le Pen has called for an end to dual nationality before, which allows French citizens of Algerian heritage to hold citizenship in both countries. In 2010, she argued that the program betrayed “republican values.” Her National Front party took first place in France’s elections to choose representatives in the European Parliament last month, and has long advocated for a staunchly anti-immigrant policies.

French government minister Harlem Désir criticized Le Pen for her “attempt to play one off against the other,” and pointed out that the rioters constitute a tiny fraction of the more than 2 million French citizens who make France’s largest immigrant group. “I would like to see that we do not mix up little groups and the majority who conduct themselves in a peaceful manner,” he said. The anti-racism group SOS Racisme agreed, issuing a statement that said it was “as dangerous as it is concerning” that Le Pen is exploiting isolated incidents of unrest to advance her political agenda.

Algeria endured 132 years of colonial rule by France, and only won its independence after a bloody civil war in which over one million Algerians were killed. While many people of Algerian descent have lived in France for generations, public figures like Le Pen continue to talk about them as an “enemy within” that undermine French cultural identity. Additionally, French Algerians are disproportionately poor due to decades living as subjects rather than citizens within France, which barred them from accessing a wide range of economic opportunities that might have allowed upwards class mobility.

If both France and Algeria win their matches this week, they will go on to face each other in the quarter-finals, a possible face-off that authorities worry could ignite new unrest.

The post How France’s Right Wing Is Exploiting The World Cup To Attack Immigrants appeared first on ThinkProgress.

These Companies Were Required To Hire More Women Board Members And Are Now Reaping The Benefits

After Norway required companies to make their boards 40 percent female, the qualifications of the women they selected improved.

The post These Companies Were Required To Hire More Women Board Members And Are Now Reaping The Benefits appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Women men board meeting

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Norway’s 40 percent gender quota for the boards of public companies has not just increased the number of women on boards, but the quality of the female candidates, according to a new study from NBER by Marianne Bertrand, Sandra E. Black, and Sissel Jensen.

In 2003, Norway passed a law that requires public companies to make sure 40 percent of their board seats are filled by women. As the study’s authors point out, “Opponents of the reform claimed there were not enough qualified women in Norway to fill the reserved board seats.” In other words, they argued that there was a pipeline problem and the strict requirement would mean appointing unqualified women.

That didn’t pan out. “We show that these concerns were not relevant in practice,” the authors write. The qualifications of female board members increased after reform and look far more like those of the male members.

In particular, they became better educated on the whole. Men’s educational achievement didn’t change much after the quota was implemented, but women’s did, as on average female board members had completed about an extra half year of education. The gap between men and women with business degrees “essentially disappeared” after the quota. “[T]his suggests that women in the boardrooms post-reform have skills that are closer to those of the men with whom they work,” the authors write. “These patterns appear inconsistent with firm claims that they would be forced to appoint unqualified females to boards.” In fact, it seems they were able to find even more qualified women.

This may be because the women were recruited from better pools of candidates. There was an eight percentage point increase in the share of women who came from top positions in their companies, while for men there was only a three percentage point increase. And the share of women with spouses on a board of directors fell from 12 percent to just seven percent, which “suggests the possibility that firms went beyond their traditional networks when trying to fill their quota,” the authors note.

The change came with another bonus for women that may also reflect their higher qualifications: The gender gap in earnings fell after the institution of the quota, from a 38 percent gap to between 32 and 28 percent afterward, depending on which firms you look at. This means “boards became more equal not just based on the number of men and women sitting at the table, but also in the ‘caliber’ of these individuals,” they write, given that more qualified candidates can command better pay.

Another plus for the women themselves: Post-reform, there is a growing share of female board-members who have kids, up from 75 percent beforehand (compared to 87 percent of men) to 83 percent afterward (compared to 90 percent of men).

The quota also seems to have had a positive impact on the share of women in the C-suite. While the researchers couldn’t look at exactly who was in the top executive roles, they looked at the gender distribution of the top five highest earners at these companies. They found that “a higher share of female directors may increase the chance that a female employee…or a female employee with children…is one of the top five earners.” Becoming a board member of one of these companies also increased the likelihood that a woman would end up among its top executives.

But the researchers didn’t find any improvements further down the chain of command. It didn’t improve women’s representation among all other earners. The gender wage gaps for all other female workers didn’t improve either, nor did their work environments.

The improved gender parity did likely increase companies’ bottom lines, however. Numerous studies have found that companies with better gender balance at the top perform significantly better than those with all or mostly men.

Since Norway enacted its quota, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain have all passed similar laws. Germany is also likely to institute one, while government officials in Sweden have said they’ll impose one if gender numbers don’t improve. The European Union as a whole may also soon see one. The United Kingdom has a 25 percent female target.

In the United States, where women have made up less than 17 percent of board seats for eight years, there is no requirement or goal. The only rule we have is a requirement to disclose how companies consider diversity in selecting their boards, which most companies don’t comply with anyway.

The post These Companies Were Required To Hire More Women Board Members And Are Now Reaping The Benefits appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Vanden Heuvel Tells Kristol That if He Wants War, He Should Join the Iraqi Army

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 30th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Vanden Heuvel Tells Kristol That if He Wants War, He Should Join the Iraqi Army
From: Leslie Savan

How to really speak truth to neocon blather.

Katrina vanden Heuvel to Bill Kristol: If You Want War So Badly, Join the Iraqi Army
From: Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Nation’s editor and publisher takes the notorious neo-con and Iraq war architect to task on ABC’s The Week.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Removed in Major Success for US-Russia-Iran Cooperation
From: Bob Dreyfuss

Don’t hold your breath waiting for apologies from the neoconservatives.


4 Reasons Christie Keeps Moving Forward

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 30th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

4 Reasons Christie Keeps Moving Forward
Julian Zelizer, CNN
After months of being beat up by the media about his “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is still standing. And there is even some evidence that he might finally be regaining ground.

Court Rulings: It’s Republicans v. Democrats
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN
Elections have consequences.That’s the message of Monday’s rulings from the Supreme Court — and, indeed, all decisions by nine justices whose ideologies reflect, with considerable precision, the views of the presidents who appointed them. Both the Hobby Lobby case — which concerned the intersection of women’s rights, religious freedom, and Obamacare — and the Harris case, about the future of labor unions, were 5-4 decisions.

Major Takeaways From the Hobby Lobby Decision
Sean Davis, Federalist
The Supreme Court this morning issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. At issue was whether closely held companies like Hobby Lobby could be forced by the government to provide abortifacient coverage to its employees, in defiance of its owners’ deeply held religious beliefs.

Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas
Paul Krugman, New York Times
Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

Republicans Should Ditch Cry of a “Lawless” Mr. Obama


McDaniel Ally Tied to Photo Scandal Dies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 27th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

McDaniel Ally Tied to Photo Scandal Dies
A Chris McDaniel supporter arrested for his alleged connection to the photographing of Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife died Wednesday in an apparent suicide, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Mississippi reports. Mark Mayfield, a leader of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men arrested on conspiracy charges after blogger Clayton Kelly allegedly photographed Cochran’s bedridden wife, Rose, at a nursing home where she suffers from progressive dementia. The photos were allegedly used for an anti-Cochran political video that was later taken down. Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.


Obama pitches economic priorities in Minnesota

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 27th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama pitches economic priorities in Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — President Barack Obama is pitching his ideas to boost the American middle class in Minnesota, a state that has already embraced a key component of the president’s economic agenda by raising its minimum wage.


Obama jokes about John Boehner’s lawsuit against him

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 27th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama jokes about John Boehner’s lawsuit against him
He minimizes the suit by pointing out that the GOP House speaker has yet to say what specific actions he’s challenging


WSJ May Not Understand The Laws Behind The Buffer Zone Cases, But It Hates Them

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 27th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

WSJ May Not Understand The Laws Behind The Buffer Zone Cases, But It Hates Them

Despite the fact that the Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ abortion clinic buffer zone law, the Wall Street Journal editorial board complained that the Court didn’t go further to disallow “other restrictions on abortion protests,” inaccurately describing the majority opinion in the process.

On June 26, the Court ruled in McCullen v. Coakley that Massachusetts’ buffer zone law violated the First Amendment because it was broader than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s goal of promoting public safety outside of reproductive health clinics, while simultaneously declining to strike down the constitutionality of buffer zones in general. A version of the law was passed in 2000 in response to years of violent and deadly incidents outside of abortion clinics nationally and directed at Massachusetts clinics in particular. The legislature amended the law in 2007 to further help police officers enforce the law by implementing a 35-foot buffer zone around clinic entrances that prohibit anyone not on clinic business — anti-choice protestors and pro-choice supporters alike — from entering and remaining. The Court ultimately found that, while buffer zones are not unconstitutional in and of themselves, Massachusetts’ law was not narrowly-tailored enough to support the legitimate interest in promoting public safety.

Joining and writing for the four liberal justices on the Court, Roberts limited his decision to the specific facts, and the specific petitioners in McCullen, as he struck down this specific buffer zone law. For Roberts, because the named plaintiff in this case was apparently a peaceful petitioner and not the “aggressive” type of “face-to-face” protestor who created “clashes” at the entrances of the health centers, the law regulated more speech than is allowed under the public safety rationale of constitutional buffer zones. But in a June 26 editorial, the Journal completely ignored the history of violence outside of abortion clinics across the country, and argued that Roberts “missed an opportunity to clean up one of the Court’s mistakes” by failing to overturn Hill v. Colorado, a 2000 case that upheld the constitutionality of a different buffer zone law. The editorial went on to argue that the decision in McCullen “leaves too much speech in future jeopardy” because state legislatures are still free to regulate speech outside of clinics within the bounds of the First Amendment. The Journal also inaccurately claimed that Roberts confirmed that the Massachusetts law was “directed at peaceful speakers”:

In McCullen v. Coakley, Chief Justice John Roberts writes that the law unconstitutionally restricts access to public sidewalks around abortion clinics in the name of “public safety” without “seriously addressing the problem through alternatives.” By regulating public streets, the state directly foreclosed access to places that “developed as venues for the exchange of ideas.” Restrictions must be based on misconduct, not directed at peaceful speakers.

So far, so good. The problem is that the Chief’s opinion goes on to engage in contortions arguing that the Massachusetts law really wasn’t trying to restrict the “content” of speech. That’s critical because it means the law isn’t subject to strict First Amendment scrutiny. It also means that while this Massachusetts law went too far, other restrictions on abortion protests might be allowable.

[…]

The fascinating question is why the Chief Justice refused to follow the logic of his own free-speech jurisprudence and overturn Hill v. Colorado. Perhaps he figured he would lose the four liberal Justices and thus the authority of a unanimous Court. Or perhaps he has been chastened by all of the liberal media critics who say he’s too eager to overturn precedents.

The reality is that he’s not eager enough, and thus the Court ends up with too many of these halfway decisions that reach the right outcome for what are often the wrong reasons. The First Amendment needs a more stalwart defender in the Chief Justice’s chair.


Liberals Champion Freedom of Speech — Except in Politics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 27th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Liberals Champion Freedom of Speech — Except in Politics
Michael Barone, RealClearPolitics
I’m old enough to remember when American liberals cherished the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. They celebrated especially the freedom accorded those with unpopular beliefs and protested attempts to squelch the expression of differing opinions. Today things are different. American liberals are not challenging the Supreme Court rulings extending First Amendment protection to nude dancers, flag burners and students wearing antiwar armbands. They are content to leave these as forms of protected free speech. But political speech is a whole other thing. Currently 43 Democratic…

Obama Hitting the Road on Female-Voter Empathy Tour
Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics
President Obama has something on his mind — a message he plans to deliver in Minneapolis Thursday and Friday. It’s similar to an idea President George H.W. Bush shared in Pease, N.H., in January 1992. During a town-hall session — akin to the one Obama will hold in Minnesota this week — Bush said his White House mail helped him understand the worries of hardworking, everyday Americans. “Message: I care,” Bush said after answering questions about the economy, 35 million people without health coverage, and his efforts to be an “education president.” “When…

15 Most Annoying Expressions in Politics
Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics
Irritating phrases and words are not confined to political circles, or solely to Washington, although here in the nation’s capital they burrow in and proliferate like obsolete, but entrenched, government programs. This is a call to arms to fight them—but only metaphorically. 15: “WAR ON [FILL IN THE BLANK]” Syria’s civil war has produced 2.5 million refugees and a death toll of 160,000, a tragedy that has galvanized neither major political party into action. So next time a Democrat brays about the so-called Republican “war on women” or a Republican…

Iraq and the Echoes of Vietnam
Steve Chapman, RealClearPolitics
A corrupt government that has alienated many of its people finds itself unable to overcome a growing insurgency in an endless civil war and expects a superpower on the other side of the globe to come to its rescue. That’s the story in Iraq today — which carries eerie echoes of the not-so-distant past. In June of 1964, as conditions deteriorated in South Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson assured a journalist he was not about to get too far in or stay too far out. “We won’t abandon Saigon, and we don’t intend to send in U.S. troops,” he insisted. He was betting that U.S. military advisers…


Anger at secret e-borders legal bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 27th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Anger at secret e-borders legal bill
Ministers face calls to reveal the cost of a four-year legal battle with US defence giant Raytheon over e-borders.

VIDEO: Cameron ‘did not plan, want, expect this’
Nick Robinson says David Cameron is trying to “snatch some form of moral victory” in the Jean-Claude Juncker vote.

EU leaders offer Cameron hope
The leaders of Sweden and Germany offer encouragement to David Cameron after his defeat in a vote on the new European Commission president.