The Hill, "Court orders Iran to pay billions to 9/11 victims and families: A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." It's unlikely they will actually pay it, but the very idea that Iran should have to pay for an attack by Saudi Arabians is pretty appalling.
"Call Congress's 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills What They Are: Another Attack On Black Lives: ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35. The act — a congressional 'Blue Lives Matter' bill — would make it a federal crime to assault a police officer. The Senate version of the bill, which also has broad bipartisan support, goes even further, framing an attack on an officer as a federal hate crime. The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious. [...] A number of commentators have stressed the superfluousness of making police attacks a federal crime. There's not a state in the country that doesn't already treat assaulting or killing an officer with the heaviest of penalties. With the laws that are already on the books at the state level, it's already a safe assumption today that any convicted cop killer will be sentenced to life without parole." 162 Democrats voted for this piece of garbage. Out of 193.
Jonathan Cohn, "House Republicans, with Some Democratic Help, Vote in Favor of Discrimination and Deregulation in Latest Attacks on Federal Watchdogs: This week, the Republican House of Representatives continued to work on one of their favorite lobbies: gutting financial regulation. On Tuesday, the House voted to repeal a 2013 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance that laid out steps indirect auto lenders should take to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the fair credits laws as applied to dealer markup and compensation policies. In other words, the CPFB wanted to help curb discrimination against consumers on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and age, all prohibited by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Racial discrimination in auto lending is a well-documented phenomenon. The vote was 234 to 175, with Vern Buchanan (FL-16) voting present. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (IL-27) was the only Republican to vote against the repeal. 11 Democrats joined the GOP: Jim Cooper (TN-05), Lou Correa (CA-46), Jim Costa (CA-16), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Gene Green (TX-29), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), David Scott (GA-13), and Filemon Vela (TX-34)."
Socialist-Backed Candidates Sweep Pennsylvania State House Primaries: Four Pennsylvania state House candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won their Democratic primaries, marking another milestone in the radical left's march into electoral politics. The wins by the four candidates — all women unseating men — were the product of a variety of political forces and groups. But in a country where 'socialist' remains an epithet in certain quarters, the growing electoral success of a once-marginal socialist organization is an especially notable political development." There are also two Berniecrats from Nebraska who won primaries for seats in the US House, and in state legislatures, ten in PA, one in Nebraska, two in Oregon and two in Idaho.
* The story in In These Times, "Socialists and Progressives Just Trounced the Democratic Establishment: On Tuesday, insurgent challengers beat out their opponents in races across the country by running on bold left platforms."
David Dayen, "Bill Aimed At Saving Community Banks Is Already Killing Them: AFTER INITIAL RELUCTANCE, House Republicans have finally reached an agreement to move forward on a bipartisan bank deregulation bill that the Senate passed in March. Its stated aim — to help rural community banks thrive against growing Wall Street power — appears to have been enough to power it across the finish line. But banking industry analysts say the bill is already having the opposite effect, and its loosening of regulations on medium-sized banks is encouraging a rush of consolidation — all of which ends with an increasing number of community banks being swallowed up and closed down."
Dday talked to Sam Seder about Primary Results & the Fallout of the Dodd Frank Rollback (among other things) on The Majority Report.
Symbolic victory in The Hill, "Senate votes to save net neutrality rules: The Senate on Wednesday voted to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules, passing a bill that has little chance of advancing in the House but offers net neutrality supporters and Democrats a political rallying point for the midterm elections. Democrats were able to force Wednesday's vote using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves."
"Police Realizing That SESTA/FOSTA Made Their Jobs Harder; Sex Traffickers Realizing It's Made Their Job Easier: For many months in the discussion over FOSTA/SESTA, some of us tried to explain how problematic the bills were. Much of the focus of those discussions were about the negative impact it would have on free speech on the internet, as the way the bill was drafted would encourage greater censorship and more speech-chilling lawsuits. But as we heard from more and more people, we also realized just how incredibly damaging the bill was going to be to those it was ostensibly designed to protect. Beyond the fact that it was passed based on completely fictional claims about the size of the problem, those who actually were victims of sex trafficking began explaining -- in fairly stark terms -- how SESTA/FOSTA would put them in greater danger and almost certainly lead to deaths." And they were right.
Matt Stoller notes that the new FTC Commissioner is sounding like the real deal.
"1. I mentioned this last night, but this memo by new FTC Commissioner @chopraftc is really worth reading. It is a bad-ass and extremely important statement on corporate crime and has significant implications for Facebook.
"2. First, some context. This memo is about recidivism, or committing a crime again once you've been caught. In 2011, Facebook was caught in 2011 engaging in 'unfair and deceptive' practices, and the FTC stated the company 'violated federal law.' Today's scandal is a repeat crime.
"3. 'FTC orders are not suggestions.'  That's how law enforcer Chopra says it. And he footnotes that showing that the cost can be $41,484 per violation. Facebook has 87 million violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a company killer.
"4. @chopraftc comes close to saying Zuckerberg should be fired and Facebook broken up. Violations of consent decrees should result in firing 'senior management and board directors," "outright bans on adjacent business practices, and closure of appropriate business lines.'
"5. What shows @chopraftc is serious and bipartisan about this is that he critiques Obama's failed law enforcement regime. He goes after the failure to do anything about HSBC for money laundering, and Wells Fargo for fraud. This is a defense of the rule of law.
"6. Now, here's why this matters. The FTC almost always has unanimous enforcement opinions, which gives individual commissioners sway to shape them. This is not a random shot across the bow, it's a signal to FTC staff to really propose aggressive remedies for Facebook violations."
Matt says it's worth looking at the memo yourself. ProPublica's article is here.
Jeremy Scahill is exactly right, Haspel belongs in jail and Obama should have put her there, but thanks to him, she now looks set to be head of the CIA. Here he is on Democracy NOW!, saying, "Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA by Failing to Hold Torturers Accountable [...] And, you know, Amy, the CIA is generally prohibited from engaging in operations inside of the United States, and also prohibited from engaging in propaganda aimed at the American people. And yet, to me, this whole Gina Haspel nomination really seems like a CIA operation itself. You know, the CIA, throughout history, from its origins — and this was the case with its predecessor, the OSS — has had a mastery of coups and interventions and interfering in affairs of other nations and waging propaganda battles. Gina Haspel, when she was nominated for the CIA, was the recipient of an enormous amount of support from the CIA's social media accounts, Twitter and others. And it was a propaganda campaign that was aimed at all of us, at the American people. It was aimed at lawmakers, it was aimed at journalists, where they sort of tweeted a — and they did it over and over and over, and they even did it once Haspel was technically in charge of the CIA, where they're giving her biography, making her sound like some combination of like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, with Jack Bauer. I mean, it was really kind of incredible."
And here is Scahill on Intercepted, "Just Following Orders: Donald Trump loves Gina Haspel, particularly because of her role in torture." (Also an interview with Matt Taibbi on "Trump, Russia, Putin, Stormy Daniels, and the Liberal Embrace of Authoritarianism," and "Reporter Sarah Jaffe on the Teachers Strikes Across the U.S., the Fight For Unions, and the Rebellion of Low Wage Workers." Good stuff, transcripts included.)
"Sanders Institute Launches Voter Registration Initiative: In November 2016, there were more than 224 million citizens over the age of 18 in the United States, yet only around 157 million were registered to vote. Even fewer actually voted."
The headline says it all: "Oliver North leaving Fox News to become next NRA president" — Yes. this Oliver North.
"There are some prisoners who have served their sentences but who refuse to leave this prison facility." Again, the headline says it all.
"Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance: Rakem Balogun spoke out against police brutality. Now he is believed to be the first prosecuted under a secretive US effort to track so-called 'black identity extremists' [...] Investigators began monitoring Balogun, whose legal name is Christopher Daniels, after he participated in an Austin, Texas, rally in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement, special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court. The FBI, Keighley said, learned of the protest from a video on Infowars, a far-right site run by the commentator Alex Jones, known for spreading false news and conspiracy theories. The reference to Infowars stunned Balogun: 'They're using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult.'"
"How To Organize A Prison Strike: Organizers inside and outside of the penitentiary walls are teaming up — and getting creative — to fight for reform."
"There's No Good Excuse For The Racist Impact Of Michigan's Medicaid Proposal: The plan's architects say they didn't mean to disadvantage black cities, but they had easy ways not to. Michigan Republicans are pushing a new, Donald Trump-inspired bill that would require Medicaid recipients in the state's mostly black cities to work to keep their health benefits, but exempt some of the state's rural white residents from the same requirement.
David Dayen on "The Downfall of a Grifter: I was part of a small subset of people who were infuriated by Eric Schneiderman before Monday night. So welcome to the rest of the nation for catching up. I had no idea he was a notorious alcoholic and abuser of women until the New Yorker profile. But I did witness his tendency to be a con artist, with his public persona not matching up with the private actions. Zach Carter tells this story very well so I don't have to, and the rest of it is in my book. The short version is that the guy came in making a lot of promises on taking down the banks and then sold out so he could get a good seat at the State of the Union. He wanted the glory without doing the work. In a real sense he didn't know how to do the work - the big lawsuit he filed against JPMorgan Chase right before the 2012 elections, entirely to show a pose of "getting tough" on Wall Street, was ripped off from a staffer and could have been filed years earlier. As co-chair of the vaunted "task force" on bank fraud, he never issued a single criminal subpoena."
Also from Dday, "American Telephone and Telegraft: [...] AT&T's lead lobbyist has now been encouraged to take an early retirement, and the CEO is "very sorry" any of us found out about the Cohen payment. But their real failure lies in not working the influence industry the right and honorable way. Like LiveNation did when they had Rahm Emanuel's brother on their board when they purchased Ticketmaster. Or the way American Airlines used Rahm and a bunch of other Democratic cronies to move through the USAirways merger. AT&T doesn't deserve Time Warner until they can prove they can bribe officials responsibly and effectively. That's how the game is played, Politico Playbook (sponsored by Goldman Sachs) wants you to know, and really you're very silly for thinking it outrageous. It's a cesspool but it's our cesspool."
"How Walmart is Helping Prosecutors Pursue 10-Year Sentences for Shoplifting [...] In Tennessee, as in many states, shoplifting items under $1,000 is a misdemeanor. But, in the past few years, the Knox County district attorney's office has been prosecuting people like Lawson under the burglary statute, which under Tennessee law is defined as 'unlawfully and knowingly entering a building without the consent of the owner and committing a theft.'"
David Menschel (@davidminpdx) tweeted "In NYC, police arrest black people for marijuana at 8x the rate of white people. NYPD say this is because they get more complaint calls about marijuana in black neighborhoods, but NYT found that that was false." The story, in The New York Times, "Race Remains a Key Factor in Marijuana Arrests, Analysis shows."
"Colorado bans solitary confinement for longer than 15 days: DENVER — Inmates in state prisons can't be held in solitary confinement for more than 15 days, the Colorado Department of Corrections announced on Thursday in the latest effort to overhaul a practice criticized as 'torture' by the agency's chief. The changes also require that inmates who are held in solitary confinement at the discretion of prison officials get at least four hours per day outside a cell for recreation or group classes."
But "Denver says its top cops are now exempt from independent monitor's oversight. Here's who disagrees. The city administration has told its police oversight agency to stay way from internal investigations of the police chief and sheriff, and the decision is raising eyebrows around Denver."
Jon Schwarz, "New Bipartisan Bill Could Give Any President The Power To Imprison U.S. Citizens In Military Detention Forever [...] But now, incredibly enough, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proposing a new AUMF that would greatly expand who the president can place in indefinite military detention, all in the name of restricting presidential power. If the Corker-Kaine bill becomes law as currently written, any president, including Donald Trump, could plausibly claim extraordinarily broad power to order the military to imprison any U.S. citizen, captured in America or not, and hold them without charges essentially forever."
Julian Assange may be a jackass, but he's also the face of the real free press, and the neocons and neoliberals all hate him and want him permanently silenced. At the moment, his former protector, the state of Ecuador, seems to be hinting that it may hand him over to Britain and the US.
On March 28, under immense pressure from the governments in the US, Britain and other powers, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 45 days, he has not been heard from. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain 'have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.' Moves were underway, she said, to reach a 'definite agreement' on Assange.If the United States government gets its hands on Assange, they might torture and even kill him, but it's fairly certain they will try to make sure he never has access to the press again. I know there are those who think Trump would like to reward Assange for helping him out in the election, but Trump doesn't actually reward loyalty or pay his debts, so that seems like a fantasy to me. And I sincerely doubt that, even if Trump decided to pardon Assange just to piss off the Clintonites, the right-wing authoritarians he surrounds himself with would let any such document land on his desk. (We know Trump can't write it himself, which is the only way I can imagine him slipping that one by them.)
"How Did Benghazi Become a Ruin? NYT Ignores US Role — in Multiple Media: New York Times Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh went to Benghazi, Libya, which is in ruins, to find out how it got that way. 'When I went to Benghazi, I was guided by one main question: How did the city come to this?' he declares in his multimedia presentation, which combines text, audio, video and large-format photography. One thing that's not conveyed via any medium, though: Seven years ago, the United States and its allies used military force to overthrow Libya's government. The country has been in almost continual civil war since then, which you would think would be crucial in explaining 'how the city came to that.' But apparently you don't think like a New York Times bureau chief. The thing is, when President Barack Obama — egged on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — called for an attack on Libya, the justification they offered was that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would otherwise destroy Benghazi. So the fact that military intervention actually turned out to lead to the destruction of Benghazi seems like something you might want to tell Times readers, or Times consumers of multimedia, anyway."
Matt Stoller, "Bigger Corporations Are Making You Poorer: A wave of new research shows how as corporations get bigger, the share of money out there going to actual workers declines." (Matt also did a good thread full of interesting links that is unrolled here.)
"Soul Snatchers: How the NYPD's 42nd Precinct, the Bronx DA's Office, and the City of New York Conspired to Destroy Black and Brown Lives (Part 1) [...] 'Stop and frisk has been banned, but police in the 42nd precinct are actually doing something far worse. They are setting quotas and goals for the number of people each officer must arrest. If you don't meet or exceed the quotas, you feel the wrath of your supervisors. Instead of rejecting the quotas, some officers are embracing them and rounding up people, particularly teenage children, for crimes they know good and well they didn't commit — locking them away sometimes for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time — then simply dismissing the charges. This isn't just a few rogue cops, but an entire precinct is doing this and they are partnering with the Bronx District Attorney's Office to make it happen. With threats, and even brute force, kids are being coerced to identify and testify against people they don't even know. Officers are terrorizing families, snatching kids out of their beds, not a few times, but dozens of times per child, sometimes arresting them on false charges, sending them to Rikers, then releasing them months later. Cops think they can do anything they want and it appears they can. Pedro is being framed. They tried to frame him over and over again before this case. And other kids are being framed too. And the kids and families who've been victimized by this scandal are hollow shells of their former selves. The Police Commissioner, the Comptroller, and the Mayor all know about this and are doing nothing.'"
Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die: The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that. [...] With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it's clear that the Democratic Party didn't merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself." I think this article is too generous to Democrats, since they have also spent part of that time actively undermining unions.
Nathan Newman, "NY Real Estate Lobbies Protect Trump Corruption- and GOP Control of State Senate w Help of Cuomo-IDC Dems: We need to break the power of corrupt NY real estate — then expose Trump money laundering, stop obscenely low luxury property taxes & end GOP control of NY Senate."
Rachel M. Cohen at The Intercept: "Democrats In A New York County Refuse To Pledge Loyalty To Candidates Just Because Party Endorses Them: A COUNTY DEMOCRATIC committee in New York voted down an extreme proposal on Tuesday night that would have required all members to pledge loyalty to candidates endorsed by the state, local, or national party. Progressives on the committee in Chemung County, on the Pennsylvania border, viewed the proposed loyalty pledge as an attempt by establishment Democrats to silence their dissent; they spent the week leading up to the meeting organizing opposition from members of the 20-person committee. At the meeting, the committee voted down the oath in its current format, but did not get rid of it entirely."
"Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Building a Digital Media Empire [...] The Vermont senator, who's been comparing corporate television programming to drugs and accusing it of creating a 'nation of morons' since at least 1979 — and musing to friends about creating an alternative news outlet for at least as long — has spent the last year and a half building something close to a small network out of his office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill."
Also from Eric Levitz, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives" — My main problem with this piece is that by "liberal media" he still seems to be talking about not-so-liberal organs like The New York Times.
Joe Cirincione and Guy Saperstin in The Nation, "Progressives Need a New Way to Talk About National Security: Voters say they support cuts in defense spending — Democrats should, too." I can go along with this, but I still maintain that our real national security is economic security for everyone.
Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney, "How The ACORN Scandal Seeded Today's Nightmare Politics: Breitbart led the charge, but Democrats delivered the killing blow. Has anyone really learned?" This is one of many pernicious examples of Democrats helping Republicans dismantle the progressive infrastructure that helped the party as a whole, The jury is still out on just how much of a creep Obama was regarding Shirley Sherrod, and whether Democrats keep voting to fund abstinence-only sex "education" out of stupidity or puritanism (or just a desire to funnel more money into the right-wing gravy train), but I still wish I could ask Bill Clinton what the hell he thought the outcome of "ending welfare as we know it" and turning the criminal justice system into a meat-grinder for minorities and the poor would be - and whether he did it out of malice or stupidity. And don't get me started on the Telecommunications Act.
Aalya Ahmad, "Working for the Weekend: The labour movement should renew its demands for a shorter workweek: Our communities are crumbling under capitalism and the obscene inequalities it creates. Income inequality has steadily risen in Canada over the past 20 years. The threat of climate change is becoming ever more obvious while environmental policies progress more slowly than melting glaciers. While workers in Canada are waging vital campaigns such as the Fight for $15 to improve wages for those who are paid the least, the mobilization around fairer compensation is just one part of the struggle to resist workers' exploitation. One of the oldest rallying cries of the labour movement is to reduce the time that workers spend working."
"How Clintonites Are Manufacturing Faux Progressive Congressional Campaigns [...] For it seems that progressive candidates aren't the only ones who learned the lesson of Bernie Sanders in 2016; the neoliberal Clintonites have too. So, while left-wing campaigns crop up in every corner of the country, so too do astroturf faux-progressive campaigns. And it is for us on the left to parse through it all and separate the authentic from the frauds."
Norman Solomon at Common Dreams, "Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street: Willingness to challenge Wall Street would alienate some of the Democratic Party's big donors." Gosh, I wonder why that is?
Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic, "Hillary Clinton's High Profile Is Hurting the Democrats: She dismisses those who tell her to step aside, but at this rate she will harm her political future and aid the GOP. [...] You know how Donald Trump seems weirdly, almost pathologically, obsessed with Clinton, despite the election having occurred nearly a year and a half ago? He is not alone. The Republican base (as hosts at Fox News can attest) still hates Clinton with the heat of a thousand suns. Is that rational? No. Is it a super-effective way for the GOP to fire up its base with high-stakes midterms approaching? To quote that great political sage Sarah Palin, you betcha!"
"For Democrats, the Russian Investigation Is Not Just Patriotic — It's Smart Politics: After a year of #RussiaGate, the Democrats have both their base and the entire country right where they want them." Democrats and independents increasingly believe in the myths around Russiagate, including that somehow the "dank memes" of Russian bots are what swung the election for Trump (God knows how), even though there is no evidence for any of it. Oh, and it provides a platform to attack Sanders as a Russian dupe or colluder, as well.
"Wrong-way Democrats: Will a 'blue dog' blue wave pave the way for future disaster?: Democrats will win big this fall (probably). But are they just repeating the mistakes of the Clinton-Obama era? [...] One especially trenchant observer on this front is activist, blogger and longtime music exec Howie Klein, who has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the Democratic Party's efforts to intervene in the midterms, and the way the struggle has been covered in the media. Klein discussed the Southern California races recently on his Down With Tyranny! blog, writing that DCCC-favored candidates "are always conservatives and never independent-minded agents of change.' A day before that: 'The DCCC has 38 candidates on their Red To Blue list so far. I count three who are worth voting for &mdash' and I'm not even 100% sure about one of the three. At least nine of them are outright Blue Dogs. ... And 21 of them are admitted New Dems.'"
Jeff Weaver has written a book, How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That's Taking Back Our Country--and Where We Go from Here.
Interview in The Nation, "Thomas Frank: Trump Could Win the 2020 Election: But we can also stop him."
An Al Jazeera reporter went undercover to look for the much-touted anti-semitism of the British left, but mainly found a state-sponsored PR campaign to promote the idea that criticizing Israel's policies is anti-semitism. "Al Jazeera Investigations exposes how the Israel lobby influences British politics. A six-month undercover investigation reveals how Israel penetrates different levels of British democracy."
Jonathan Cook, "Anti-Semitism. Orchestrated Offensive against Jeremy Corbyn in the UK: For months, a campaign has been aimed at destabilising British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, accused of anti-Semitism. The right-wing party, Tony Blair's heir, and pro-Israel circles are targeting both Corbyn's left-wing line and his support for the Palestinian people."
I might be inclined to agree with a lot of Michelle Goldberg's "How the Online Left Fuels the Right" if she didn't screw it up by talking about people like Ben Shapiro as if they are prepared to argue in good faith . They're not, and anyway, that's not the point. Call-out culture on the left just isn't very good at making friends, period.
"Another Side of Feynman: Nine letters by Freeman Dyson portray his relationship with the Nobel Laureate."
"This magical drug mansion in Upstate New York is where the psychedelic '60s took off: Owned by one of America's richest families, Millbrook hosted Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Mingus and more"
This is a few years old but it cracked me up. "One Restaurant Owner Has Been Waging An Online War With Vegans For Two Months Now"
The Four Tops, "Baby, I Need Your Loving", because sometimes I just gotta get up and dance to it.