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Archive for August 11th, 2014

Krugman: The Fantasy of Libertarian Economics

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

Krugman: The Fantasy of Libertarian Economics
Paul Krugman: In the latest Times Magazine, Robert Draper profiled youngish libertarians — roughly speaking, people who combine free-market economics with permissive social views — and asked whether we might be heading for a “libertarian moment.” Well, probably not. Polling suggests that young Americans tend, if anything, to be more supportive of the case for a bigger government than their elders. But I’d like to ask a different question: Is libertarian economics at all realistic? The answer is no. And the reason can be summed up in one word: phosphorus.


Robin Williams, boisterous comedy star, dead at 63

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

Robin Williams, boisterous comedy star, dead at 63
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Robin Williams, the Academy Award winner and comic supernova whose explosions of pop culture riffs and impressions dazzled audiences for decades and made him a gleamy-eyed laureate for the Information Age, died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.

UK warns of humanitarian crisis in Iraq
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned Monday that a humanitarian disaster of massive scale was brewing in northern Iraq, as he promised action to help the afflicted.


What would it take to destroy ISIS in Iraq?

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

What would it take to destroy ISIS in Iraq?
The former CIA deputy director says that U.S. involvement is key


Failure To Disclose: Fox News Hides Fact That Anti-ACA Doctor Is Running For Office In New Hampshire

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

Failure To Disclose: Fox News Hides Fact That Anti-ACA Doctor Is Running For Office In New Hampshire

A Fox News report failed to disclose that an anti-Obamacare doctor featured objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is running for state representative as a Republican in New Hampshire.

Continuing Fox’s campaign to boost anti-Obama candidates in New Hampshire, including former Fox contributor Scott Brown, an August 8 Special Report segment highlighted the story of Dr. Joe Hannon, who was purportedly driven out of practice due to the ACA. During an interview with Fox, Dr. Hannon claimed, “The health care act was the final nail in the coffin. It wasn’t the main reason or the only reason, but it made the decision a lot easier for me.” 


Jerry Brown Passes Buck on Troubled New Bay Bridge

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

Jerry Brown Passes Buck on Troubled New Bay Bridge
Debra Saunders, RealClearPolitics
“Who is responsible for the Bay Bridge?” I asked California Gov. Jerry Brown at a San Francisco Chronicle editorial board meeting in May. Before Brown’s 2010 election victory, which made him the boss of all Caltrans, Brown was the mayor of Oakland whose political posturing helped delay the retrofit of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, made necessary after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake knocked down a chunk of the span. It took 24 years and $5 billion more than the original budget for the state to complete the $6.4 billion span. Before the new span even opened, the retrofit needed a…

Iraq Airstrikes: What’s the Goal, and What Lies Ahead?
Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics
On the first day of U.S. airstrikes inside Iraq, officials struggled to answer questions about President Obama’s decision to help a nation weakened by years of war as it battled the takeover attempts of a powerful terror group. As the president prepared to depart Washington for a summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., the U.S. expanded its air operations on Friday. Here’s a look at the issues raised by the policy shift: How long will the airstrikes continue? Unclear. The Pentagon announced multiple strikes Friday against terrorist fighters operating near Erbil. White…

The Dreadfully Consistent Anti-Obamacare Industry
Mike Littwin, RealClearPolitics
It has been a while, but the good times are officially back. There’s another anti-Obamacare ad on a TV screen near you, this time featuring an area woman with a sad, 30-second tale of Obamacare woe. The Crossroads GPS ad ends with a plea from “Richelle” to Mark Udall to “repeal” the law. But, of course, once the sad tale gets checked out, it is mostly discredited. KDVR’s Eli Stokols did the checking. The woman telling the story, Richelle McKim, supplies much of the discrediting. I thought they’d given up on this brand of ad. The last anti-Obamacare ad I remember in Colorado used an actress…

GOP Incumbents’ Senate Sweep; Walsh Out in Montana; Nixon’s Parting Words
Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics
Good morning. It’s Friday, August 8, 2014. Forty years ago today, President Nixon spoke to the American people for — as he noted himself — the 37th time from the Oval Office. It was to be his last such address. “I have never been a quitter,” he said. “To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body.” Richard Milhous Nixon said many things in his political life that were untrue, but this wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t a quitter, and he loathed stepping down during the crucible of the Watergate scandal. But his…


General condemns UK stance on Iraq

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

General condemns UK stance on Iraq
A senior British military figure accuses the UK government of being “commitment-phobic” over the crisis in Iraq.

The rise of the Islamic State
Visual guide to the growth of the jihadist group


At Heart of Ebola Outbreak, a Village Frozen by Fear and Death

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

At Heart of Ebola Outbreak, a Village Frozen by Fear and Death
More than 60 people have died from the virus in a tiny village in Sierra Leone, and now people there worry that a quarantine will cut off their food and supplies.



World Briefing: Human Rights Council Plans to Investigate Gaza Conflict
The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed three legal experts to an international commission to look into whether violations of international humanitarian and human rights law were committed during the conflict in Gaza.



World Briefing: Kosovo: Suspects Rounded Up in Hunt for Mideast Fighters
The Kosovo police on Monday arrested at least 40 people in a major operation to round up suspects accused of fighting alongside extremists in Iraq and Syria.




American Banks Just Posted Their Second-Highest Quarterly Profit On Record

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

American Banks Just Posted Their Second-Highest Quarterly Profit On Record

The $40.24 billion in combined quarterly profits that U.S. banks reported from April to May is just a rounding error short of the all-time record.

The post American Banks Just Posted Their Second-Highest Quarterly Profit On Record appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Wall Street bank

CREDIT: Shutterstock

It would be easy to imagine that America’s banking industry is having a rough go of things in 2014. Justice Department officials tout multi-billion-dollar legal settlements with banks and lawmakers talk as though the financial industry were under assault by big government shock troopers. But these are in fact boom times for the money business, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

American banks reported a combined $40.24 billion in profit for the second quarter of the year, coming up just barely shy of the record profit of $40.36 billion that the industry notched in the first three months of last year. That mark remains the highest in the 23-year history of the data tracked by SNL Financial, the Journal reported.

The continued prosperity in the financial sector contrasts with the lingering weakness in the parts of the economy that are more directly tied to the well-being of the middle class. With the sixth unofficial anniversary of the financial crisis approaching this fall, the institutions that caused the Great Recession have not only returned to growth but rebounded to record levels of success.

But millions of American workers are still unemployed and wages have stagnated for years for most of those lucky enough to have found work. The large crop of working people who ended up unemployed for over six months in the wake of the financial collapse face essentially insurmountable obstacles to finding a job at this point.

About five years after the recession officially ended, a slow and uneven recovery has restored the richest tenth of the country to the levels of material security they enjoyed in the early 2000s. But the median household is worth roughly $32,000 less than it was in 2003.

The disparity between banks and the wealthy on one hand and typical American families on the other reflects the root differences in where the top and middle of the income distribution keep their wealth. The kinds of assets that are common among the wealthy — investments in the stock market and other financial holdings — have rebounded in value very quickly after the crisis. Middle-class homeowners whose wealth depends primarily on housing prices have not been so lucky.

Meanwhile, the same industry that turned the housing market into an elaborate gambling parlor in the early 2000s has returned to near-record profitability. Government prosecutors have allowed banks to buy their way out of full accountability for their actions in the run-up to the collapse, exaggerating the cost of those legal settlements in the process. And the executives who piloted those banks during the pre-crisis trading blitz walked away with their personal fortunes intact.

Some Wall Street firms are even buying up the hundreds of thousands of homes that Americans lost to foreclosure during the recession and renting them out to families in need. They hope to make hundreds of millions of dollars from a new set of housing investment products modeled on the pre-crisis mortgage market, but this time with tenants rather than homeowners serving as the basis for the investment deals.

The post American Banks Just Posted Their Second-Highest Quarterly Profit On Record appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Congress Needs to Assert Checks and Balances on Any New Iraq Mission

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

Congress Needs to Assert Checks and Balances on Any New Iraq Mission
From: John Nichols

The president gets support for humanitarian efforts, but wise voices warn of mission creep.

Could Stronger Unions Make China More Democratic?
From: Michelle Chen

Chinese labor activist Han Dongfang thinks that democracy begins in the workplace.

Washington’s Sketchy Pro-Israel/Anti-Iran Camp
From: Ali Gharib

Two major anti-Iran groups in DC are more than they appear.


The Right-Wing’s New Climate Change Lie

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

The Right-Wing’s New Climate Change Lie
Rebecca Leber, New Republic
Norman Loeb, an atmospheric scientist with NASA, gave a crash course in climate change science for the public at Virginia Air and Space Center on Tuesday. He talked about all the evidence that the planet is warming—like the fact that temperatures right now are the hottest they’ve been since record-keeping began in 1850. He also noted that the rise in surface temperatures has slowed considerably since 2000. This doesn’t contradict the theory of global warming, he explained. Land temperature regularly varies, and much of the warming in the last decade is happening unseen in…

Women’s Studies Is Failing Liberalism
Elizabeth Segran, The New Republic
For three years, I taught feminist theory to undergraduates while working on my Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. There was a time when Berkeley was the epicenter of radical feminism: In the 1970s, women’s rights activists regularly stormed campus buildings, demanding birth control, abortion, self-defense classes, and childcare. But when I started teaching in 2007, nothing particularly radical was happening anymore.

How the EPA Ignores the Public and Science
Tom Harris, New York Post
The Environmental Protection Agency ignored both public opinion and science in writing its new economy-slamming regulations restricting carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants.

Smacked by Reality in the Middle East
Michael Gerson, Washington Post
WASHINGTON — So ends a foreign policy experiment that began with two choices in 2011. In that hinge year, President Obama decided to stay out of the Syrian conflict and to passively accept the withdrawal of all U.S. ground forces from Iraq (which he later claimed as a personal achievement during his re-election campaign).I’m not sure the motivation behind these acts can be termed a strategy. They seemed rooted in a perception of the public’s war-weariness (which Obama fed through his own rhetoric), a firm determination to be the anti-Bush, and a vague belief that a U.S. presence in the…

Paul Can Run, But He Can’t Hide From Latinos
Vargas & Andiola, Politico
Last Sunday in Iowa, the two of us had the opportunity to meet Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. After we identified ourselves as “DREAMers”— undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — what we intended to be a civil, serious discussion turned into a tense confrontation with King.