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Archive for October 9th, 2014

Dem Presidential Hopeful: ‘Wifi Is a Human Right’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Dem Presidential Hopeful: ‘Wifi Is a Human Right’
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, considered a possible Democratic presidential candidate for 2016, said that wifi Internet access is a “human right”. He said, “Baby boomers and older were often told that if we specialize in terms of our skills, we will be more secure and prosperous, that the definition of ‘making it’ was living out in the suburbs as far way as possible with the biggest lawn possible. Young people have flipped that on its head. Younger people are choosing to live in cities. They realize that connections to each other are making us better. That wifi is a human right. That proximity is important to entrepreneurship, access to capital and talent and diversity. There is an opportunity there for us as a nation to embrace that new perspective.”


GOP banks on anti-Obama mood to oust southern Dems

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

GOP banks on anti-Obama mood to oust southern Dems
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The last of the Deep South’s statewide elected Democrats are hoping their seniority and famous family names will save them from the region’s rightward trend in this year’s Senate races. But Republicans say only one name matters in these rapidly realigning states: Barack Obama.

UN chief: 20 times more Ebola aid needed
WASHINGTON (AP) — The leaders of three Ebola-stricken West African nations are meeting with heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to discuss the outbreak and what help they need to fight it.


No president on the trail?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

No president on the trail?
White House correspondent Major Garrett tells Jeff Glor why President Obama hasn’t been seen campaigning during midterms.


Michael Isikoff Turns To Old News To Revive Whitewater Obsession

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Michael Isikoff Turns To Old News To Revive Whitewater Obsession

Isikoff

Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff is retreading old news to once again try to thrust Whitewater into the national political debate, continuing an obsession of his that dates back more than 20 years.

Isikoff dramatically touted the “first extensive public comments” made by Robert Fiske, the federal prosecutor initially appointed to investigate the failed Whitewater land deal, in which the Clintons lost money but were at first falsely accused of criminal conduct. Fiske spoke to Isikoff during a recent interview about his soon-to-be-released memoir and Whitewater, which Isikoff warned “seems likely to be revived by political foes if, as is widely expected, Hillary Clinton runs for president.”

This is a convenient dodge for Isikoff, who has spent two decades helping political foes use Whitewater to try to bring down the Clintons.

But nothing in Isikoff’s latest entry in his Whitewater saga about the Clintons is new.

“For years, the Clintons have sought to portray the entire investigation as a politically inspired witch hunt, pushed by partisans hunting for any ammunition they could find to damage the president and first lady,” Isikoff wrote. “But the new account of Fiske, a pillar of the New York legal community, offers a more complicated picture.”

Isikoff doesn’t back that up.

In fact, Fiske himself undermined the claim that Whitewater could be used against Clinton, noting that he never uncovered any evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton were connected to any crimes:

He describes how he had quickly uncovered “serious crimes” in the Whitewater investigation but that his probe was cut short after conservatives falsely accused him of a “cover up.”

“There were indictments, there were convictions,” said Fiske when asked about claims that there was “nothing” to the investigation. “People went to jail. There was never any evidence that was sufficient to link the Clintons to any of it, but there were certainly serious crimes.”

Isikoff suggests that one new detail is Fiske’s claim that he was prepared to bring indictments against individuals connected to the land deal. But this hardly noteworthy, given that it has been publicly known that indictments were brought against individuals connected to the land deal.

Isikoff even tries to revive the ancient news that billing records connected to the investigation were at one point found in the White House residence, an aspect of the story the right has long attempted to twist into a scandal.

“One of [Fiske’s] first moves was to subpoena Hillary Clinton’s law firm billing records,” Isikoff writes, “documents that were later found under mysterious circumstances in the White House living quarters.” What Isikoff never mentioned is that those billing documents actually backed up what Hillary Clinton had long maintained, that she did very little work for her law firm on behalf of the land deal — nor does he note that Kenneth Starr, the investigator who ultimately replaced Fiske, found no evidence that the billing records were ever mishandled.

Isikoff’s Yahoo News piece, devoid of relevant new facts, lacking in critical details, and filled with insinuations of wrongdoing that he actively undermines, is troubling given the praise conservatives media figures have showered him with for his inadequate Clinton reporting in the past. At one point in 1998, Sean Hannity spent four consecutive days lauding Isikoff for his reporting.

In contrast, Jeffrey Toobin, currently a legal analyst at CNN, told Salon in 2000 that Isikoff acted as “an uncritical water-carrier for the anti-Clinton forces.”

It’s a history worth remembering as Isikoff warns how Clinton’s political foes might attack her.


Stop Calling It Marriage Equality

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Stop Calling It Marriage Equality
David Harsanyi, RealClearPolitics
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected gay marriage appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, in essence allowing lower courts to legalize same-sex couples. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an institution that has vigorously opposed gay marriage for some time now, conceded that the political battle over marriage is over. “As far as the civil law is concerned,” the Mormon church admitted, “the courts have spoken.” Actually, nothing is over until God says it’s over. At least, this is my understanding of how religion operates. So though I don’t want to…

Look Who’s Data Mining Your Toddlers
Michelle Malkin, RealClearPolitics
Attention, parents: Have your little ones been subjected to “TS Gold” in school yet? If you care about student privacy, data mining and classroom intrusions, you might want to start asking questions and protecting your children now before it’s too late. What’s happening here in Colorado with this onerous testing regime is happening everywhere. Informed families and teachers from all parts of the political spectrum agree: It’s a Big Government/Big Business “gold” rush you don’t want to join. “TS Gold” stands for Teaching Strategies Gold. This “school readiness assessment system” was mandated…


VIDEO: New Scottish taxes in draft budget

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

VIDEO: New Scottish taxes in draft budget
Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney sets out new taxes in the draft budget 2015-16.

Reform plan for payday lenders
Payday lenders should make details of their products available to price comparison websites to encourage competition, the Competition and Markets Authority says.

Osborne: Eurozone woes will hit UK
Chancellor George Osborne warns in a BBC interview that the UK economy will be affected by the slowdown in the eurozone economy.


St. Louis Protesters Clash With Police In Second Night Of Unrest

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

St. Louis Protesters Clash With Police In Second Night Of Unrest

(Recasts with protest, violence, adds byline)

By Carey Gillam and Kenny Bahr

ST LOUIS, Mo. Oct 9 (Reuters) – Police clashed with protesters in St. Louis on Thursday for a second consecutive night, a day after an officer killed a black teenager and ahead of a weekend of planned marches and rallies in the area over the August killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

As many as 400 demonstrators spread out across several city blocks in south St. Louis, angrily shouting and chanting at rows of police officers, many of whom were clad in riot gear with helmets, body armor and shields.

In footage published by MSNBC and on social media, demonstrators said police at one point rushed toward them and pepper sprayed them. One man could be seen later having milk and water poured over his eyes.

Police did not immediately respond to requests for information about the pepper spray reports, or whether there had been any injuries or arrests.

Dozens of demonstrators met earlier at the site where 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot dead by a white police officer on Wednesday in the south St. Louis neighborhood of Shaw.

Police said Myers fired multiple times at the officer, before the officer returned 17 shots and fatally wounded him.

The St. Louis area is bracing for further unrest over the August killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer two months ago, with Myers’ killing on Wednesday expected to add fuel to the fire.

Several civil rights organizations and protest groups, including Hands Up United, planned to mark the weekend with marches and rallies in St. Louis and the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was killed.

The groups are demanding the arrest of the officer who killed Brown, and want to draw attention to police treatment of black Americans. Protest organizers said they are planning only peaceful activities, but fear that Wednesday’s killing of the black teen might trigger violent outbursts.

“We never advocate violence … But I do know that people were angry last night and they will be out this weekend,” said Tory Russell, a leader of Hands Up United. “I don’t know what they are going to do.”

At least 6,000 have registered on an organizing website for the “weekend of resistance” events in and around Ferguson, which kick off on Friday with a “justice now” march to the office of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

The weekend is to be capped with actions of “civil disobedience” on Monday.

Organizers said they are also planning to create a “memory altar” to victims of police violence and to hold a candlelight march carrying a coffin to the Ferguson Police Department.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said law enforcement officers throughout the area are planning for large crowds and possible violence.

“There are a lot of people coming into town,” said Knowles. “We are going to be prepared. There is intel out there that there are people wanting to do bad things. And people who want to cause a problem are going to use that (the shooting on Wednesday) as a rallying cry,” he said.

The police department would not identify the 32-year-old officer who shot Myers while he was off duty working for a private security company, but said he was not hurt and has been placed on administrative leave as the shooting is investigated.

Relatives of Myers said he did not have a gun, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The shooting sparked protests that raged until dawn on Thursday. One person was arrested and three police vehicles were damaged in the unrest, police officials said. (Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Bernard Orr and Matthew Lewis)


World Briefing | Europe: Estonia: Lawmakers Approve Same-Sex Partnerships

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

World Briefing | Europe: Estonia: Lawmakers Approve Same-Sex Partnerships
Parliament on Thursday passed legislation to legalize gay partnerships, the first such decision by a former Soviet republic.



Lens Blog: Behind Closed Doors, Abuse of Domestic Workers
Steve McCurry photographed women who left their villages with dreams of a better life. Instead, they found themselves physically abused while in virtual servitude in Asia and the Middle East.



Heart-Rending Test in Ebola Zone: A Baby
What to do when the task is caring for an hours-old preemie whose mother might have died of Ebola.




Americans’ Cars Are More Fuel-Efficient Than Ever

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Americans’ Cars Are More Fuel-Efficient Than Ever

Plus, electric vehicle sales are up in the U.S., and the percentage of Americans who drive to work is down.

The post Americans’ Cars Are More Fuel-Efficient Than Ever appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Hyundai Hydrogen Cars,

CREDIT: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin

Average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the U.S. reached a record high last year, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

The average fuel economy of 2013 vehicles rose to 24.1 miles per gallon, up 0.5 mpg over 2012 levels and nearly 5 mpg over 2004 levels. According to the EPA, the increase in average fuel economy can be attributed to automakers’ “rapid adoption” of more fuel-efficient technologies, such as turbochargers and advanced transmissions.

“Our report shows that today’s vehicles are saving Americans money at the pump while emitting fewer greenhouse gasses,” EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “We are thrilled to see that manufacturers continue to innovate and are bringing technologies to improve fuel economy online even faster than anticipated,”

At 28.1 mpg, Mazda had the highest average fuel economy for 2013 model-year cars sold in the U.S., followed by Honda at 27.4 mpg and Subaru at 26.7. Estimates for average 2014 economy still show growth, but at a far more modest pace: up to 24.2 mpg, just .1 mpg better than in 2013. McCarthy, however, told reporters during a press conference not to be “discouraged” by 2014 projections, which she called “conservative.”

In 2012, the Obama administration finalized new rules on cars and light trucks that will bring the vehicles’ average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by model year 2025. The standards are projected to cut 580 million metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2025, but they don’t mean that every car made in 2025 and onward will get 54.5 mpg — as long as the average of all new cars evens out to 54.5 mpg, automakers will be in line with the standards.

In addition to fuel economy being up, the number of Americans who drive to work is down: according to 2013 American Community Survey, the percentage of Americans who drive themselves to work declined to 85.8 percent in 2013, down from 86.5 percent in 2007. As the Washington Post points out, this decline might seem minor, but it represents a major step in Americans’ driving trends: it’s the first time in decades that the percentage of Americans who drive to work has declined. Americans are walking, biking and taking public transit to work instead, but the Post notes that the biggest reason the percentage is down is that more Americans are starting to telecommute.

Electric vehicle sales are also up in the U.S. According to data from January, Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales jumped 84 percent from 2012 to 2013, with fully-electric vehicles experiencing even more of a surge: those sales went up 241 percent in 2013, evening out at about 47,600 total cars sold. Among those 47,600 cars, 18,800 were Tesla’s Model S, and 22,610 were Nissan Leafs. Americans bought only slightly more plug-in hybrids in 2013 — 49,000 were sold in the U.S., bringing the total electric and hybrid car sales in the U.S. to more than 96,000.

The post Americans’ Cars Are More Fuel-Efficient Than Ever appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Generic Drug Prices Have Jumped 1,000 Percent And Lawmakers Want Answers

Generic drugs are supposed to make it easier for Americans to afford their medication.

The post Generic Drug Prices Have Jumped 1,000 Percent And Lawmakers Want Answers appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Fist full of prescription pills

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Within the last year, the prices of generic prescription drugs have increased by 1,000 percent, and some federal officials want manufacturers to explain the significant jump in costs.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) recently started their search for answers by sending letters to more than a dozen producers of 10 generic drugs — some of whom expressed a willingness to cooperate — after receiving complaints from constituents and pharmacists about the rising cost of generic medication. Earlier this week, the two lawmakers issued calls for a more widespread congressional investigation.

“The first thing we need to understand is why these drug companies are raising their prices so dramatically in such a short period of time, which is why we asked for information about the costs to produce these drugs compared to the prices they are now charging,” Cummings, a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government, told the New York Times earlier this week. “Once we receive that information, we will be in a better position to evaluate the root causes of these massive increases and, if necessary, consider reforms.”

Producers of generic medications don’t have to pay as high of costs — which include research, development, and marketing — as their name brand counterparts. That typically makes them cheaper. According to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, generic drugs have generated more than $1.2 trillion in savings in the last decade.

But that may not last long. Prescription drug claims processing company Express Scripts recently reported that cost savings for generic medications slowed down from 30 percent in January to 14 percent last month. Recent surveys of pharmacists have found that they now paying more to stock their stories with generic drugs.

While it’s not exactly clear why the prices increased sharply, some people point to the host of mergers between drug companies as a potential culprit. Experts say those deals often have the potential to reduce the number of manufacturers for a specific type of generic drug to just one, which lowers the competition in the field. Generic drug manufacturers also have to develop more complex methods of delivery for their products — including injection and transdermal patches — a method that also drives up prices.

The high cost of drugs leads some American patients to make potentially life-threatening decisions. One in five Americans ask their doctor to prescribe cheaper medication to help lower their out-of-pocket prescription costs, and poor patients may opt out of purchasing their medication altogether in order to meet other financial obligations, some experts say.

According to a 2013 report, a failure to follow a drug regimen places strain on the medical infrastructure totaling billions of dollars, due in part to the additional medical care that people end up requiring. But nearly 25 percent of uninsured people didn’t take their medication as prescribed in 2011, perhaps because they were attempting to make their expensive pills last longer.

Generic drugs are especially important resources for patients because Big Pharma works to keep the prices high for their brand-name medications. Powerful pharmaceutical companies often force generic drug manufacturers to delay the release of their product into the market, while brand name drug manufacturers rake up the profits from Americans in desperate need of their medication.

That’s why Rep. Cummings and Sen. Sanders said they want to get to the bottom of the generic medications’ price increases. The two lawmakers said they expect the 14 companies who received their inquiry last week to respond by Oct. 23. The answers they receive will determine the next course of action, which will most likely include a congressional hearing.

“Generic drugs were meant to help make medications affordable for the millions of Americans who rely on prescriptions to manage their health needs,” Sanders told the New York Times. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of these enormous price increases.”

Unfortunately, expensive drugs aren’t the only health cost affecting patients. Medical debt in the United States totals more than $21 billion, more than that of bank and credit card debt combined, according to a study released by consumer assistance agency NerdWallet earlier this week.

The post Generic Drug Prices Have Jumped 1,000 Percent And Lawmakers Want Answers appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Democracy Over Disenfranchisement: High Court Blocks Voter ID in Wisconsin

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 9th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Democracy Over Disenfranchisement: High Court Blocks Voter ID in Wisconsin
From: John Nichols

“The Supreme Court has put the rule of law ahead of the Scott Walker’s political gamesmanship.”

The Elephant in the Room With Leon Panetta
From: George Zornick

The former defense secretary has close ties to Hillary’s shadow campaign, and his criticisms are awfully convenient for her. 

What Lena Dunham Taught Us About Unpaid Labor—and What We Taught Ourselves
From: StudentNation

Millennial icon Lena Dunham’s relationship to unpaid labour is explored, contextualized and reframed by youth activists and media workers.

Guess Who’s Holding Up Ebola Aid?
From: Zoë Carpenter

A Republican Senator criticized Obama’s plan because it “focuses on Africa.”