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Archive for August, 2014

KKK Advertises for Members Near The Hamptons

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

KKK Advertises for Members Near The Hamptons
The Ku Klux Klan has been advertising for new members on a few streets in Hampton Bays, New York, on the edge of The Hamptons, putting Jolly Rancher candies in plastic sandwich bags with anti-gay, anti-immigrant leaflets calling on people to protect “our unique European (White) culture” and tossing them into yards. One resident shared a leaflet with the media. It had a crude cartoon drawing of a Jew, an African-American and a Latino above the words: “We want your jobs — We want your homes — We want your country.” The resident was Colombian-American.

Harvard Business Profs: How U.S. Should Tax Businesses
Harvard Business School professors Mihir Desai and Bill George lay out interesting changes that could help the US gain an advantage from a tax standpoint. They note that the US should move to a territorial tax system rather than a world-wide system (the UK and Japan recently made such moves). To offset the decreased revenues they propose taxing flow-through entities (partnerships and S-Corps), as well as their owners. The second source of revenue would come from changing the fact that corporations report large profits to the capital markets and relatively small profits to tax authorities – meaning, we make it more the case that corporations have to base their taxes on profit reports to capital markets.


Pacino does double duty at Venice Film Festival

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

Pacino does double duty at Venice Film Festival
VENICE, Italy (AP) — Al Pacino is making two trips up the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival, with two movies about aging, regret and letting go. But the actor says he’s not about to lower the curtain on his own career.

Feds: Plane with unconscious pilot goes into ocean
CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP) — The Coast Guard says the pilot of a small airplane lost consciousness while flying and the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast.


Why Obama doesn’t “have a strategy yet” in Syria

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

Why Obama doesn’t “have a strategy yet” in Syria
Going after ISIS within Syria’s borders would be much more complicated than attempting to roll back or defeat the extremist group in Iraq


GOP’s Senate Chances; Is a Wave Election in Store? Kids and Guns; Suffragists’ Key Moment

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

GOP’s Senate Chances; Is a Wave Election in Store? Kids and Guns; Suffragists’ Key Moment
Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics
Good morning. It’s Thursday, August 28, 2014. As the National Guard pulls out of Ferguson and residents of that troubled Missouri town try to make sense of what has happened — and what is yet to happen — in their community, today’s date reminds us that street protests can be more than a cathartic exercise. They can also promote necessary social change. In 1917, Alice Paul and her army of demonstrators marched for months in front of the White House, all of their demands contained in single placard: “Mr. President, what will you do for women’s suffrage?” The…

Solving Immigration: It Need Not Be So Difficult
Mark Salter, RealClearPolitics
The air is charged. Distant rumblings grow louder. President Obama is promising to do by executive order what Congress has not done: allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in this country. And if media accounts forecasting the reaction to such a move are accurate, a political firestorm is heading our way, which could include another government shutdown and calls for impeachment hearings — this time from responsible quarters. Perhaps the president will act less precipitously than expected, disappointing immigration advocates and businesses that rely on immigrant labor, but averting a…

The Continued Farce
Erick Erickson, RealClearPolitics
Just last week, the temperatures in Middle Georgia, where I write, were over 100 degrees. This week, they are struggling to get to 90. But, as say climate change advocates, that is called weather, not climate. Of course, this is the second year in a row Georgia has experienced a milder than normal summer. The data shows, rather inconveniently, that there has not been a warming trend in 17 years. Climate change alarmists say that is wrong. Just a few months ago, the alarmists claimed the world is still warming. The Pacific Ocean, they claimed, is acting as a heat sink. Last week, another group…

The Left’s Ridiculous Burger King Freakout
David Harsanyi, RealClearPolitics
Burger King plans to merge with Canuck coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons and base the company’s headquarters in Canada, where it will enjoy the kind of reasonable corporate tax structure that Democrats continue to obstruct here in the United States. And the move has provoked a fresh round of moral panic, faux patriotism and confusion. It’s doubtful, despite much wishful thinking, that there will be much of a real backlash. Nor should there be. Most obviously, the majority of fast-food customers are probably less inclined than the petitioners of MoveOn.org to mistake high tax rates for…


Experts argue for drink price plan

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

Experts argue for drink price plan
Health professionals say they are stepping up efforts to see alcohol minimum pricing in place in Scotland, with a seminar being held in Brussels.

Hundreds join Nato protest march
About 600 people take part in a protest march in Newport ahead of the Nato summit being held in the city.


GOP senators: Obama needs to respond faster to ISIS threat

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

GOP senators: Obama needs to respond faster to ISIS threat
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said ISIS must be confronted with a military plan.


Facing Hard-Liners and Sanctions, Iran’s Leader Toughens Talk

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

Facing Hard-Liners and Sanctions, Iran’s Leader Toughens Talk
In the second year of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, he has struck a new tone, echoing the longstanding Iranian view that the United States can never be trusted.



An Artist Is Rebuked for Casting South Korea’s Leader in an Unflattering Light
The artist Hong Sung-dam lashed out at an elite he considers responsible for a deadly ferry disaster, and has faced censorship he likens to his treatment during years of dictatorship.



Palestinian May Push for Deadline to End Occupation
The president of the Palestinian Authority may use the annual United Nations General Assembly to publicly demand an end date for Israel’s occupation.



Lesotho Military Moves on Police
The country’s prime minister said the actions amounted to a coup, although a spokesman for the army said the soldiers were only securing the country.



Ukraine President Says Europe’s Security Depends on Stopping Russia
President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine won no pledges of military assistance from the European Union, but his warnings helped set the stage for a new round of sanctions against Russia.




Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read

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

Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read

Helping liberals understand where their ideological foes are coming from.

The post Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read appeared first on ThinkProgress.

elephant-12

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Welcome to TP Ideas‘ weekly roundup of the best conservative writing! Every Friday, we take a look at three pieces by right-leaning writers that constructively articulate core elements of their worldview. The goal isn’t to find conservatives telling us how right liberals are, but rather to pick out writing that helps liberals understand where their ideological foes are coming from.

So let’s get started.

1. “Can Prop 103 Handle Driverless Cars?” — Ian Adams, R Street

One theme that has been rising to the surface more and more in conservative arguments is the potential threat state occupational licensing and regulations pose to innovation and economic growth. Paul Ryan’s poverty plan included a section on reforming licensing and regulation, and multiple studies have tried to lay bare the often capricious thicket faced by many entrepreneurs and self-employed Americans in the working class.

This week, R Street’s Ian Adams called attention to the latest manifestation of the problem: how Prop 103 — an auto insurance law passed in California in 1988 — mandates that insurers take certain risk factors into account, with possible perverse consequences for the rise of driverless car technology:

What is significant about Prop 103′s mandatory rating factors is that they have very little relationship to the risk of loss presented by the operator of an autonomous vehicle. Consider, in decreasing order of importance, what the three rating factors are now:

  1. The insured’s driving safety record.
  2. The number of miles he or she drives annually.
  3. The number of years of driving experience the insured has had.

As operator influence over the course and speed of a vehicle wanes, so too will the importance of an operator’s driving record and the number of years of experience they have sitting in their vehicle. Of Prop 103′s three mandatory rating factors, only the number of miles annually driven will bear directly on the risk presented by autonomous vehicle operation.

Because of Prop 103?s rigid control of rating practices, absurd scenarios involving autonomous vehicle insurance policies are not hard to imagine. For instance, an autonomous vehicle operator with a poor conventional driving history who operates her Google car very little could pay more for her insurance than another adopter with a better history who operates his autonomous vehicle a great deal. Both drivers would present the same risk, but old rules would make one pay more, unnecessarily.

This specific instance has relevance for liberals because driverless technology could play a key role in the organized transportation system of the future, cutting down on the need for car ownership — especially in urban areas — and thus reducing carbon emissions. And regulations in New Jersey and other states have already hampered the ease with which Tesla’s electric cars can expand their market. So this also serves as an example of the broader phenomenon conservatives are trying to call attention to, in which regulations that seemed like a good idea at the time they were passed wind up doing unforeseen damage down the road when new business models and technologies arise.

2. “Ferguson Falls Apart” — Brian Kaller, The American Conservative

For liberals, the story out of Ferguson is a relatively straightforward one, dealing with the intersection of runaway police power, white privilege, and the legacy of segregation and slavery. But in the American Conservative this week, Brian Kaller took a different tack. What’s especially interesting is that Kaller has lived for a long time in Ireland, and compares the Irish situation — poorer in GDP-per-capita, but with tighter communities, more purposes, fewer guns, and less fear — to modern American society.

Without contradicting the legacy of race, he brings in an alternative story of an ongoing atomization and loss of trust in American communities over the last few decades, and how that laid the groundwork for the violence in Ferguson:

Most Americans I talk to live far from family and do not know or trust their neighbors. Most went deeply into debt to afford an education, car or house, and must travel long distances to buy food or get to jobs. Their economic relationships — the means of getting food, water, clothing, warmth, and shelter — are vertical, to strangers in distant and possibly unaccountable institutions, rather than horizontal, to others nearby.

Low incomes carry a social stigma, yet traditional means of saving money or being more self-sufficient are often socially discouraged or even legally prohibited. Many Americans feel their main emotional connections to and through electronic media, and they are the most heavily medicated people in history. Perhaps these things seem irrelevant to police vs. rioters in Ferguson, but that’s the point. When something like this happens, the left and right argue about how to change institutions’ top-down policies toward handling people, not to give people less cause to be handled.

This weak social infrastructure makes most Americans highly vulnerable to crime, and they know it. In working class neighborhoods like Ferguson, neighbors look with dread at the violence and social breakdown of places like East St. Louis, and fear it coming to where they live. Liberal commentators often dismiss such fears as simple racism, and sometimes that plays a role. I know many people, however — black and white — who reach across color lines and who still fear violent gangs.

Fearful and mistrusting people respond in all kinds of counter-productive ways. They move further and further away from urban centers, to places where they are even more isolated. They absorb themselves in specialized media that appeals to their fears, and their preparations for emergencies tend to involve guns. They demand more and more from governments they trust less and less, and surrender legal rights to police that are a) heavily armed, b) frequently attacked, and c) human. All of which could work out just fine, as long as nothing ever goes wrong.

Kaller’s ultimate conclusion is that the social problems that plague Ferguson are actually much more widely spread than people assume, and that many other American communities could collapse in the way Ferguson has if given the right push. “Don’t make the mistake of pitying Ferguson from a distance,” as Kaller puts it.

Though this doesn’t refute the story liberals have seen in Ferguson, it does modify it. But it modifies it in ways liberals could find instructive and useful: it stands to reason that the lower inequality and greater distributive justice of a European country like Ireland has ecological relevance to the virtues Kaller sees, and is bound up with the ways the country is poorer in technical terms of GDP, but remains healthier, happier, and more trusting in many ways than the comparatively wealthier United States.

3. “Marriage And Mating Rites” — Karen Swallow Prior, First Things

The National Marriage Project recently released a new study on dating habits and marriage quality, which teased out several result that back up what conservatives have long suspected about many modern norms: that cohabitation and higher numbers of partners prior to marriages correlate with lower-quality marriages, for example.

This week at First Things, Karen Swallow Prior took those results and combined them with some other work on culture, to lay out a theory of dating practices as analogous to “liturgies” — the repeated practices and behaviors by which religious believers construct their understanding of the divine and build their relationship with it. As Prior sees it, the “liturgies” of modern mating carry much of the same weight for how Americans build their marital relationships:

The study’s findings bear out James K. A. Smith’s insights about cultural liturgies outlined in his two books, Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom. Practices, Smith explains, form habits. Practices can be “thin” or “thick,” or, in other words, they can be routines we undertake, not as ends in themselves, but as means to some end (“thin”); or routines which, as ends in themselves, are infused with personal meaning and are thus tied to our identity (“thick”). Over time, Smith explains, thick, formative practices “embed desires in us for a particular version of the good life.” Thin habits can become thick practices, Smith says, when they reflect, or even cultivate, our larger commitments and thereby connect, even if only implicitly, to our vision of human flourishing. For example, the “thin practice” of hooking up becomes a “thick practice” when it comes to shape one’s identity and form one’s vision of how flourishing might be achieved. Thus, Smith argues, “no habit or practice is neutral,” for such actions cultivate our desires even as they serve as perceived means of fulfilling our desires for the good. Practices embody our ultimate beliefs, Smith explains, drawing upon the work of the twentieth century sociologist and anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu, who says, “Practice has a logic which is not that of the logician — a logic that is performed directly in bodily gymnastics.”

This recognition that the power of ritual is made manifest in material forms illuminates how the bodily practices that underlie the behaviors in the study — premarital sex and cohabitation, deliberation over relationship decisions, and the gathering of supporters and witnesses in the marriage ceremony — shape marital quality. It makes sense that those who have a history of practices involving fewer lost commitments report higher quality marriages. Serial relationships and co-habitation transform commitment into trial runs. Drifting into stages of a relationship can become a ritualized way of living no less than the opposite, intentional approach. The correlation about the formality and size of the wedding is less intuitive, but the study’s authors surmise that these factors “may foster support for the new marriage from within a couple’s network of friends and family” or reflect the existence of already existing strong networks of support. “This is undoubtedly why all cultures have rituals that add force to major decisions about the pathway ahead,” the study states. “We tend to ritualize experiences that are important.”

Now, it should be noted that several critiques have taken issue with the study’s underlying methodology and conclusions.

But for our purposes, the value of Prior’s article is more anthropological; as a window into conservative thought. The notion of ritual, of repeated behaviors and practices that, while seemingly innocuous, inevitably shape our moral character and self-understanding, underly much of conservatives’ concern with culture and with the necessity of moral norms that require sacrificing certain indulgences or pleasures. Prior’s description helps clarify the difference with the more technocratic approach to moral character taken by liberals, in which moral intent and capacity leads to habitual behaviors and accepted practices, without the ensuing feedback loop where the latter then shapes the former as well.

The post Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Drought-Stricken California Makes Historic Move To Regulate Underground Water For The First Time

Most other states — including Kansas and Texas — do not allow unlimited pumping from groundwater aquifers. But in California, it’s still “pump as you please.” That is about to change.

The post Drought-Stricken California Makes Historic Move To Regulate Underground Water For The First Time appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir is seen on Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif.

The dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir is seen on Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

At least one in four Californians get their water from underground aquifers, and up until now, use of this water has been totally unregulated, with disputes about overuse settled in court. California is one of the few where it’s “pump as you please” with groundwater. That is about to change.

As the California State Legislature wrapped up their session, they passed the state’s first-ever plan to regulate underground water supplies. Urban Democrats, water district managers, and environmental advocates gave the measure enough support to pass it over the opposition of Republicans and farm-area legislators. The legislation now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

Clean Water Action’s Jennifer Clary said, “the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management legislation takes an historic first step towards ensuring that our groundwater will remain a resource for future Californians.”

Three bills make up the groundwater regulatory plan: one tells local agencies to come up with water management programs, another establishes parameters for state intervention, and the third delays that intervention in areas where groundwater pumping has affected surface water. Some agricultural interests fear regulation of the groundwater reserves that many farmers have turned to in the midst of the worst drought in a generation. State Senator Fran Pavley, author of two of the bills, said she worked with farmers to draft them, gaining the support of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

“The state cannot manage water in California until we manage groundwater,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “You cannot have reliability with no plan to manage water.”

If you are eating a fruit, vegetable, or nut grown in the U.S., there’s an almost 50-50 chance that it came from California. At the same time, it’s the only western state that does not exercise some sort of control over its groundwater.

Groundwater has become even more crucial as surface water supplies have dwindled. In fact, according to a study released last week, while only 70 million acre-feet of water flow through the state during a good year, 370 million acre-feet worth of water rights have been given out in the last hundred years. Yet even adding groundwater supplies to the equation still leaves the state with a water deficit, according to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pacific Institute.

In fact, the Central Valley is consuming twice as much groundwater as can be replaced through normal precipitation. The Valley is the center of gravity to the state’s $36.9 billion agricultural industry because it contains the world’s largest mass of ultra-fertile Class 1 soil.

“It’s our savings account, and we’re draining it,” Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, told the San Jose Mercury News. The former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman continued: “at some point, there will be none left.”

In a normal year for precipitation, California receives about 40 percent of its total water from under the ground — in a dry year, that jumps above 60 percent. It’s gotten even worse this year, with wells drying, fields lying fallow, and most dramatically, the land actually sinking up to a foot a year as the water underneath it gets sucked dry.

Over 95 percent of the state is in a “severe drought” according to the latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor — and 100 percent of the state has been in at least a “moderate” drought for the last three months.

In the rural San Joaquin Valley, hundreds of residents ran out of tap water as the drought dried up the flow of the Tule River which normally provides the area with water. Wells dried up and the county had to deliver bottled water supplies to affected residents last week — supplies that are meant to last only three weeks.

Separately, the legislature also passed a $7.5 billion water bond proposal to invest in improvements to California’s water infrastructure with a nearly unanimous vote. This will go on the November ballot.

Lawmakers also passed a statewide ban on free single-use plastic grocery bags. Stores will be able to charge customers ten cents per bag in order to cut down on unneeded usage that results in bags strewn across neighborhoods and along coastlines.

The post Drought-Stricken California Makes Historic Move To Regulate Underground Water For The First Time appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Happy Labor Day, Mom

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

Happy Labor Day, Mom
From: William Greider

Education reformers have left out the human dimensions of a harsh labor market where women, like my mother, were regularly punished for not being men. 


America’s Real Ice Bucket Challenge

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

America’s Real Ice Bucket Challenge
Dana Milbank, Washington Post
I’m just back from vacation in Europe, where, to judge from the political headlines coming out of the United States, this country had no greater care than which of its leaders would next be soaked in cold water.

Obama, McCain & Graham Don’t Get It
Andrew McCarthy, Natl Review
Is it better to have no strategy or a delusional strategy?The question arises, of course, after President Obama’s startling confession on Thursday that he has not yet developed a strategy for confronting the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-rooted terrorist organization still often called by its former name, ISIS – an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria.

Liberals Will Never Fulfill MLK’s Dream
Willis Krumholz, The Federalist
Over the weekend there was a short “debate” between Jesse Jackson and Ben Carson. Within the exchange lies the real issue behind Ferguson.According to the Left, the economic hardships blacks face are largely due to latent racism. According to Ben Carson, and many other conservatives (Larry Elder also comes to mind), big-government policies, not racism, are the primary force suppressing black advancement.

Democrats Take Low Road in Arkansas
Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard
“Tom Cotton voted against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola,” a TV ad in Arkansas declared last week. The ad came from Democrat Mark Pryor, who is running for reelection to the Senate. Cotton, a House member, is his Republican opponent in the November 4 election. The ad failed to mention that after voting against an early version of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, Cotton voted for the bill once a provision he objected to was removed.

New West Renaissance
Timothy Egan, New York Times
Just a teardrop down from the Continental Divide, in one of the most remote hideaways in the United States, is a place that should be called Hope. At 6,700 feet above sea level, Centennial Valley is high, mostly dry, and slack-jaw beautiful. The fact that there are more trumpeter swans here than people is a story that tells much about why the American West has never been more vibrant.