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Jul 25 2014

Kickstarter project to buy CNN

The Daily Show decides that with all the mergers and takeovers in the media industry, the time is ripe to bid for the cable news company. You can see all the rewards you will get for the differing pledge levels here.
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Jul 25 2014

Reports of Israeli attacks on schools and hospitals

Richard Engel of NBC News says that the school that was hit by Israeli artillery was a designated UN refugee shelter which people went to seeking shelter from the aerial barrage. He shows one man who said his six children were blown to bits like scraps of paper. The UN official was adamant that there were no militants in the building. Four such schools have been attacked so far.
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Jul 25 2014

A very moving interview

Actor George Takei was a guest on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart wisely decided not to make it a yuk-fest with Star Trek jokes but instead spent the time allowing Takei to describe the time during World War II when his family were herded into barbed-wire enclosed internment camps for the entire duration of the war purely because of their Japanese ethnicity or, as we say now, racial profiling.
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Jul 25 2014

Nursing home evangelism

When I was an undergraduate in Sri Lanka, I was a member of a student Christian group and as part of our activities we did various kinds of charitable work such as helping in anti-TB campaigns and the like. We did not talk about religion when we visited the homes of poor people in the slums to dispense supplies to help them control their illness.
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Jul 25 2014

War is not hell, it is worse

Some apologists for war try to casually dismiss the unwelcome fact that it results in the deaths of mostly innocent civilians with clich├ęs like ‘war is hell’, acting as if they are themselves veterans of wars who have seen the grimness up close and are thus can be excused for taking a hardened view. In actual reality, I have noticed that many of the people nowadays who say such things are those who have never seen war and death up close and their macho posturing is just that, posturing. This series of stills from the old TV show M*A*S*H better captures the reality of war.
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Jul 24 2014

Stewart challenges McCain to a wrong-off

John McCain is the latest person to attempt to criticize the way that Jon Stewart covers him and, as with all previous attempts, he gets the worst of it. These people never seem to learn that it is foolish to go up against a sharp comedian who has his own show and a panel of talented writers and researchers.
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Jul 24 2014

Exploiting the poor, then hiding them

New York City has allowed a real estate developer to construct an apartment building with two classes of tenants, rich and poor, but where the poorer people have to use a separate back entrance, like servants’ have in feudal societies.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development signed off on the application from Extell to build a 33-story building on the Upper West Side. The building will have 219 luxury condos that overlook the waterfront, according to the Post, and 55 “affordable” units that face the street. They will have separate entrances, which, as Gawker noted, sparked outrage last year when the plans were first revealed.

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Jul 24 2014

Civil asset forfeiture in the news again

Some time ago, I wrote about the process known as ‘civil asset forfeiture’ where the authorities can pre-emptively seize someone’s assets and force them to incur the trouble and expense of going to court to get it back. This practice nets the government about $5 billion in revenue annually and many local jurisdictions abuse this power and use such tactics to pay for their police and justice systems.
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Jul 24 2014

The secret rules for blacklisting people

The US blacklists people in many ways, with such people being subjected to snooping and harassment and being put on no-fly lists. And once you are on those secret terrorist watchlists it is almost impossible to get off. Investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux at The Intercept have obtained a key government document that explains how the government decides who goes on the list. They have published the 166-page document in full. The document is unclassified but the administration had vigorously resisted any disclosure about it.
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Jul 24 2014

Ordinary people doing the right thing

We may think that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is something that started happening in just the last decade. But that is not the case

Back in 1975, Clela Rorex was a 31-year old woman who had recently been elected county clerk in Boulder, Colorado. One day two men came in and asked her for a marriage license. She had never met any gay people before and was not sure what to do so she went and checked the rule book and discovered that the laws in the state did not specify that marriage had to be between a man and a woman and the district attorney confirmed that. So she issued the license.
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