Update on Julian Assange

Veteran investigative reporter John Pilger gives an update on the status of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, confined to the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 that is guarded round the clock by police to ensure that he does not slip out of the country. Pilger says that even the British government that, like the US, hates Assange with a passion and would hand him over to the US in a minute to be tortured, is getting frustrated with Sweden’s intransigence and unwillingness to take any steps towards resolving this impasse.
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Bernie Sanders

The independent socialist senator from Vermont appeared on The Colbert Report and gave his take on what the state of the nation is. Being a socialist, he has little difficulty talking about class and the oligarchy. His condemnation of the way that the very rich have taken over the country and his call for a single-payer system of health were both wildly cheered by the audience.
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Save us from these ‘humanitarians’

Samantha Power, the current US Ambassador to the UN, is one of those ‘liberal interventionists’, people who like to think of themselves as liberals but are always on the look out for ‘good’ wars to wage to show how tough they are, a disease that many Democrats suffer from. It does not seem to bother them that all the other military interventions have been disastrous, not least for the people at the receiving end of our military largesse.
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Laura Poitras speaks!

The notoriously publicity-shy documentarian is making the rounds promoting her Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour (see my review here) and she appeared on The Daily Show. Jon Stewart makes the same point that I did, that the picture of Snowden that was painted by his early critics has no resemblance to the person seen in the film and that he seems to an earnest, idealistic young man who realized that he had information the people needed to know and was willing to take the risk to tell them. Poitras thinks that history will vindicate Snowden like it has with Daniel Ellsberg
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What the defeat of the NSA ‘reform’ bill means

Last evening the US Senate failed to break a filibuster of the “USA Freedom Act”, the now-common grandiose patriotic name given to legislation that usually signals the opposite of what its intent is. This was supposed to reform the abuses of the intelligence agencies that have been revealed by Edward Snowden and it did tinker with it at the edges but the fact that the bill was supported by the Obama administration should be a good clue that it was pretty much a toothless tiger.
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Changes in NPR’s ‘clock’

In the mornings, I have NPR on while I go about the various things that need to be done around the house while I get ready for work, and again on the drive to work. Doing so serves two purposes. One is that I get to hear various news items in the background while another is that the regular routine in the way that the segments are broken up gives me a sense of what time it is without actually having to look at the clock.
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A very modest suggestion to improve elections

The system of elections in the US is clearly broken.

The way that big money now dominates who gets to be on the ballot, the gerrymandering of districts to ensure that one party gets entrenched, and the barriers to voting that have been erected that seek to make it harder for some groups, especially the young, poorer, and people of color to vote, all are markings of a corrupt system. Various reforms have been suggested, and this article gives some alternatives, all of which have the benefit of slightly loosening the stranglehold that the two major parties currently have.
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