Via The Brief:

David Cameron’s infantilizing moral crusade against pornography continues this week, with the announcement of an on-by-default pornography filter to be enacted by the end of the year. This has been Cameron’s eventual goal for a while, but until recently the ISPs tasked with implementing it argued strongly against on-by-default filtering, as their relationship with the government deteriorated. Now Cameron has emerged the victor and 95% of the country’s homes will no longer give perverts material with which to “strategise their crimes” unless they ask for it.

 

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Via Daily Kos:

“Listen,” he said. “America’s been a country of second choices.” Did he mean second choices or second chances? “Both,” he said. “Second choices and second chances. . . . If one performance or a series of performances pretty much blackballs you, then it does. But I don’t think that’s what this country’s all about.”

It's reassuring to know that he hasn't changed much since his last run.

 

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AuthorA.J. Ross
CategoriesPolitics

On two crucial issues this week, the extremists who dominate the Republican majority in the House of Representatives made it clear how little interest they have in the future prosperity of their country, or its reputation for fairness and decency.

The House will refuse to consider a comprehensive immigration bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of immigrants, Republican leaders said on Wednesday, and will slowly and casually consider a few border-security measures that have no chance of passing on their own.

And, on Thursday, the House passed a farm bill that stripped out the food stamp program, breaking a pact that for decades has protected the nutrition needs of low-income Americans. It was the first time since 1973 that food stamps haven’t been part of a farm bill, and it reflected the contempt of the far right for anyone desperate enough to rely on the government for help to buy groceries.

These actions show how far the House has retreated from the national mainstream into a cave of indifference and ignorance. House members don’t want to know that millions of Americans remain hungry (in an economy held back by their own austerity ideology), and they don’t want to deal with the desperation of immigrant families who want nothing more than a chance to work and feed themselves without fear of deportation.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Mark Fiore, writing for Daily Kos :

If it looks like a coup, and quacks like a coup, there's a good chance it may be a coup.  All that optimistic Arab Spring democracy stuff is getting more and more complicated with each passing day.  Sure, Egypt's president Morsi was an inept Islamist politician who was a disaster, but he was, um, democratically elected and is more moderate than many of the other Islamists.  I'm all for separating church and state, but the majority doesn't seem to want to do that in Egypt.  (Not to mention the fact that the military didn't do themselves any favors shooting hundreds of protestors, no matter who fired the first shot.)
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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Here's Obama the Presidential Candidate debating Obama the Second Term President on surveillance; note how Obama the younger smashes through the cheap "privacy vs security" rhetoric of Obama the elder, showing the man for a thoroughly co-opted cynic who'll let the nation's spooks run wild.

I don't know about the hope, but he nailed the change.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Article by Glenn Greenwald, writing for The Guardian (summary via The Brief newsletter):

Glenn Greenwald wrote about the [FISA] court on Tuesday, which oversees the NSA’s surveillance. The White House and the President have repeatedly defended the surveillance programs that have come to light, leaning heavily on the oversight they claim the [FISA] court provides. Except it doesn’t really. In short, the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, renewed for 5 more years in December, opened loopholes that allow broad surveillance of Americans, without requiring individualized warrants. And the resulting surveillance is never subject to any further judicial checks.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Another article from Josh Israel, writing for Think Progress:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the Obama administration in a letter Monday, accusing officials of undermining public trust in government by using “secret e-mail addresses.” But McCain himself uses a secret e-mail address — as have previous Republican administration officials since the federal government began using email.

This practice is completely understandable – both from the Obama administration and Senator McCain – so why the need for the hypocrisy?

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Ian Millhiser, writing for Think Progress: 

In a vision of how America might have been different if the Supreme Court had not intervened in the 2000 presidential election, former Vice President Al Gore labeled controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs unconstitutional on Friday. According to Gore, who won the popular vote for president in 2000 but lost the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, the extent of the NSA’s surveillance “in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear.” Much of the NSA’s surveillance programs began under President George W. Bush, although they now require more court oversight than they originally did.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
CategoriesPolitics

Josh Israel, writing for Think Progress

Former Vice President Dick Cheney (R), whose false statements helped propel the United States into an eight year war in Iraq, said Sunday that citizens should simply “trust” the federal government on matters of privacy and security.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Cheney laughed off questions about why federal surveillance of phone records need be kept secret, suggesting that since the people who authorize the program are elected by voters, voters should simply trust their judgment.

Of course he does. 

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Natasha Lennard, writing for Salon:

It has certainly become hackneyed to call the government Orwellian, but in this case it’s unavoidable. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that he had given the “least untruthful” answer possible in March when he told a congressional hearing that the NSA does not collect information on millions of Americans, which it does, daily.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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David Sirota: 

“When the president does it that means it is not illegal.” These infamous words from Richard Nixon appear to summarize the public legal justification for the Obama administration’s unprecedented mass surveillance operation. Perhaps worse, Permanent Washington would have us believe that this rationale is unquestionably accurate and that therefore the National Security Administration’s surveillance is perfectly legal. [...]
The idea here, which has quickly become the standard talking point for partisans trying to defend the NSA program and the Obama administration, is that while you may object to the NSA’s mass surveillance system, it is nonetheless perfectly legal as is the conduct surrounding it. Therefore, the logic goes, Snowden isn’t an honorable “whistle-blower” he’s a traitorous “leaker,” and the only criminal in this case is Snowden and Snowden alone.
The first — and most simple — way to debunk this talking point is to simply behold two sets of testimony by Obama administration national security officials. In one, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper categorically denies that the government “collect(s) any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” In another, the Guardian reports that NSA Director General Keith Alexander “denied point-blank that the agency had the figures on how many Americans had their electronic communications collected or reviewed.”

Anyone that thinks Snowden is the villain here is either ill-informed or beyond saving.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Natasha Lennard, writing for Salon

It was a U.K.-based newspaper (albeit its U.S. operation) and a writer based in Brazil (our old friend Glenn Greenwald) at the forefront of breaking the latest historic revelations about the sprawling NSA spy dragnet. For Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian U.S., this is no accident given a poverty she sees in robust national security reporting in the U.S., underpinned by a misplaced patriotism. [...]

Indeed, Gibson’s comments are supported by certain facts that emerged in Bradley Manning’s pretrial hearing. The private noted in a statement that he had attempted to approach the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico with his document trove — all of whom turned him away — before he provided WikiLeaks with the classified information.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
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Bryce Covert, writing for Think Progress:
1. The wage gap has widened recently
2. Women’s choices can’t explain the gender wage gap
3. Women earn less than men no matter how much education they get
4. Mothers experience a steep wage gap
5. Most workers can’t talk about pay

Read the full article for a more detailed list as well as a look at the state of the wage gap in the U.S., where progress has slowed in the last 50 years.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
CategoriesPolitics

Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, writing for The Guardian:

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.

Joan McCarter, writing for Daily Kos:

Sadly, the states that have the greatest need to expand Medicaid also have the Republican leaders who are refusing to participate. That's according to an analysis from the Los Angeles Times, which states health data to determine levels of coverage and overall health status in the states. [...]

The residents of many of those states, those in the Deep South, would dearly love to see Medicaid expansion, a new survey suggests. Families USA polled in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina—all states where Republicans governors and legislatures have rejected the expansion—and found that 62 percent of respondents in those states support Medicaid expansion.

Surprise, surprise. The G.O.P.'s distaste for Obama overpowers their willingness to serve the very people that elected them.

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AuthorA.J. Ross
CategoriesPolitics