Why prisoners nationwide are striking

CBS News, By Aimee Picchi, September 9

Prisons can’t run without inmates, in more ways than one. Prisoners wash floors, work in the laundries and kitchens, and provide a large amount of the labor that keeps their facilities running. In return, they earn pennies per hour or even no pay at all.

That’s sparking what may be the largest prison strike yet as inmates across the country plan to stop working on Friday. The strikers are calling for an end to forced labor and what they call “prison slavery.”

It’s no coincidence that they picked Sept. 9 as the strike date: It’s the 45th anniversary of the Attica riot, when prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York rioted for better conditions.
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The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire

Counterpunch, By Mike Whitney, August 25

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:

“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.

Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment.

The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.” (Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest)

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CIA Confirms Role in 1953 Iran Coup

The National Security Archive, Edited by Malcolm Byrne, August 19

Washington – Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.

The explicit reference to the CIA’s role appears in a copy of an internal history, The Battle for Iran, dating from the mid-1970s. The agency released a heavily excised version of the account in 1981 in response to an ACLU lawsuit, but it blacked out all references to TPAJAX, the code name for the U.S.-led operation. Those references appear in the latest release. Additional CIA materials posted today include working files from Kermit Roosevelt, the senior CIA officer on the ground in Iran during the coup. They provide new specifics as well as insights into the intelligence agency’s actions before and after the operation.

Suing a Debt Collector? Now They Can Buy Your Lawsuit

A federal judge opens the door for bare-knuckled agencies to avoid accountability. If upheld, a law protecting consumers may be defanged.

Bloomberg, By Paul Barrett, August 16

Can a debt collector accused of crossing the line avoid liability by buying a consumer’s legal claim out from under her?

A federal judge in Las Vegas said yes. The case deserves attention because if the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirms the judge’s ruling, you can be sure that more debt collectors will attempt this counter-intuitive maneuver to shield themselves from federal liability.
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How We Killed the Tea Party

Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support “conservative” candidates—while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them.

Politico, By Paul H. Jossey, August 14

As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.
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Who owns the wind? We do, Wyoming says, and it’s taxing those who use it

Los Angeles Times, By William Yardley, August 14

Not long after it became clear that the robust winds that blow down from the Rocky Mountains and across the sea of sagebrush here could produce plenty of profit in a world that wants more renewable energy, some of the more expansive minds in the Wyoming Legislature began entertaining a lofty question:

Who owns all of that wind?

They concluded, quickly and conveniently, that Wyoming did.

Then, with great efficiency for a conservative state not traditionally tilted toward burdening the energy industry, they did something no other state has done, before or since: They taxed it.
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Robert Reich Acts Surprised



Hundreds of Bernie supporters of drowned him out today with boos as he tried to make the case for voting for Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald J. Trump.

I understand many of you are angry with Bernie (and even with me) for suggesting that not supporting Hillary increases the odds of a Trump victory. Several of you have said you won’t choose “the lesser of two evils.” But as Bernie said today, “This is a real world we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstone of his campaign.”

Let’s first defeat Trump, then let’s continue to build the movement — with an eye on 2020.

But Robert Reich is part of the problem. He used his quasi-economist status to insist that Bernie’s proposals made sense, while nearly everyone else in the field said otherwise. He insisted the processes were rigged, that Bernie was going to win anyway. He set his followers up for this disappointment, as recently as last week.

This crowd’s behavior isn’t new. This is what happened at all the caucuses. It happened in state delegate conventions. It happened when trying to fire campaigners leaking data to the opponent.

They aren’t there to listen, compromise, or build coalitions. They’ve democratically lost and have gotten way more influence on the platform and the convention than their votes warranted. Yet they want more.

They yelled at a black man talking about his dead dad. They yelled at a latina speaking in Spanish, most of them not knowing what she was saying. They booed Michelle Obama.

Bluntly, there is no pleasing them. Bernie has tried repeatedly over the past couple days to tell his crowd thanks for the votes, continue to push change, but ease up on Clinton and vote for her against Trump.

So they boo’d him and started talking about Jill Stein.

These were never Democrats. They got our microphones and airtime but they were never with the party, and they don’t respect its history or its current battles.

They can’t be made happy. We just have to wait for them to fade away.

The reason they’ve failed as a whole is because of this basic “coming at it the wrong way”. You can’t beat the GOP with moral purism. You have to convince the middle you’re reasonable and effective.

The Democrats aren’t a monolithic party. They’re a collection of a hundred caucuses, many of which also mega-team up for important bills in Congress. There’s a mountain of internal compromise before the GOP is even considered.

So in not working with America’s largest progressive coalition, they’re showing how they would also try to beat the GOP. With angry speeches and sit-ins and the insistence all their line items be addressed.

That’s not how you get things accomplished here. You gotta find the common ground, the win win, the compromise. The president won’t just govern the lefties, but the shotgun rack rednecks from my home town, the Christians that go to church 3 times a week, the average joe and jane that just want their paychecks to clear.

That’s been one of the biggest frustrations among Democrats. We should have been pivoting to the general in March. Super Tuesday was a landslide and the eventual outcome became pretty clear. Nate Silver continued his winning streak by calling all but 2 states within a couple percentage points. It was over then.

But instead Hillary’s assaulted from the right and the far left, both using the same playbook and headlines. Lefties post Brietbart and literal Russian state media to attack her.

Now it’s come to light that Russian hackers broke into the DNC networks, and have released everything damning in it they could find. I haven’t seen a single one of the cries of “collusion” or “corruption” prove out when you look at the emails in context. Yah they were mad at Bernie, especially after he called for the sitting chair of the DNC to be primaried. Yah they LOL’d at him sometimes, because they had those same Nate SIlver numbers we all did, and knew he wasn’t sitting as pretty as he claimed.

They should have been more professional in their correspondence. But have you hung around soldiers or doctors or EMTs? There’s some dark humor. Stuff you don’t want families to hear. But you gotta, because the work is so serious, and if you don’t lighten things up now and then and cajole with each other you’ll burn out.

Certainly none of it rises to the level of international espionage by an oppositional world actor to interfere with American elections. The fact the diehard Bernie crowd hand-waves this because they had some scraps of DNC members being catty just boggles me. This is Watergates times Bay of Pigs but they don’t care. There are emerging links between Trump and the Russian kleptocracy. They don’t care. Holocaust survivors are figuratively peeing themselves in public over Trump’s vitriol and popularity. They don’t care.

These aren’t Democrats who appreciate the work that went into suffrage, end of child labor, the civil rights era, minimum wage, reproductive rights… they’re curmudgeons with a “both parties are the same” mantra who won’t entertain any other worldview.

So let them chant. Let them embarrass themselves in the history books – the mostly white male crowd that boo’d every supporter of the soon-to-be first female president. It’s on tape. Their grandkids can go back and see the blind hatred in their eyes and hear their voices gone hoarse from attacking the progressive party. Imagine who they’ll be compared to.

Previously: Robert Reich is the Bill Nye of Economics

[ed note: Don’t bother leaving anti-establishment “both parties are the same” “crooked hillary” comments, I’ll be purging those useless rants.]

How the anti-Trump movement was finally killed last night

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Politics Blog, By Jim Galloway, July 15

Cleveland – The movement to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination for president sighed its last breath shortly after 10 p.m. this evening, as an alliance of GOP stalwarts and Trump supporters outlasted the last remnants of resistance in a 14-hour, marathon session of the convention rules committee.

In a series of three votes, the committee that sets the rules for next week’s four-day convention here eliminated the pestering argument, made primarily among social conservatives hostile to the unorthodox winner of this year’s primaries, that delegates were free to follow their consciences and ignore their pledges to support the candidates who won their states’ primaries and caucuses.

Victory wasn’t what anti-Trump forces were shooting for, but they also failed to win the quarter of the votes on the 112-member panel that would have allowed them to carry their battle to the convention floor on Monday.

9th Circuit: It’s a federal crime to visit a website after being told not to visit it

Washington Post, By Orin Kerr, July 12

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has handed down a very important decision on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Facebook v. Vachani, which I flagged just last week. For those of us worried about broad readings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the decision is quite troubling. Its reasoning appears to be very broad. If I’m reading it correctly, it says that if you tell people not to visit your website, and they do it anyway knowing you disapprove, they’re committing a federal crime of accessing your computer without authorization.

I think this decision is wrong, and that it has big implications going forward. Here’s a rundown of the case and why it matters. I’ll conclude with a thought about a possible way to read the case more narrowly, as well as why I’m not convinced that narrow reading is correct.

Obama Admin Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits in Gulf of Mexico and Mainstream Media Has Ignored It

DeSmog, By Steve Horn, June 28

On June 24, the independent news website TruthOut broke a doozy of a story: the Obama Administration has secretly approved over 1,500 instances of offshore hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Gulf of Mexico, including during the Deepwater Horizon offshore spill disaster.

Albeit released on a Friday, a day where many mainstream media reporters head out of the office early and venture to late-afternoon and early-evening Happy Hour specials at the bars, the TruthOut story has received deafening silence by the corporate-owned media apparatus.

Google News, Factiva and LexisNexis searches reveal that not a single mainstream media outlet has covered the story.

TruthOut got its hands on the story via documents provided by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD explained in a press release that they “obtained the information following an agreement that settled a lawsuit challenging the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s failure to disclose documents regarding the scope of offshore fracking in the Gulf under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Think Progress: While The Spotlight Was On Offshore Drilling, Fracking Quietly Made Its Way Into Our Oceans, July 1