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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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Jul 23 2014

Shutting down the debate

Jon Stewart discovers what it is like when you try to talk about Israel and Palestine.

(This clip aired on July 21, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Jul 23 2014

Heading for a showdown

In order to maintain their non-profit status, the IRS has rules that say that such institutions have to refrain from outright partisan politics such as supporting political parties and candidates. Some churches have chafed under this restriction, think it an unconstitutional infringement on their free speech rights, and have sought to directly challenge that rule by organizing ‘Pulpit Freedom Sundays’ where they explicitly endorsed candidates and even sent the tapes to the IRS, daring them to come after them.
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Jul 23 2014

Report from a Gazan hospital

NBC News correspondent Richard Engel reports from a hospital in Gaza that is overwhelmed with dead and injured children. As one doctor says while examining a ten-year old whose mother and two sisters died in the blast that left her paralyzed, “This is a Palestinian child, guilty of the most horrible crime: to be born Palestinian in Gaza”.
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Jul 23 2014

And the 2014 award for chutzpah goes to …

… Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dormer for saying that the Israeli Defense Forces deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their “unimaginable restraint” in Gaza.

You can see images as a result of this “unimaginable restraint” here, here, and here.

I will show just one from the first link that was from the assault on Shejaiya on July 20.

shejaiya

Jul 23 2014

Request to readers

Some readers of this blog very kindly send me links to items that they think may be of interest. I appreciate them and often use them in subsequent posts. I do have a request, though, that is triggered by the fact that there are many spam messages out there that use links and attachments as ways of transmitting various kinds of malware.

As a result, I never click on links or open attachments that I am not sure are genuinely meant for me, even if they are from people I know well. I only do so if the link or attachment is accompanied by a message that is highly unlikely to have been generated by a bot, which means that it includes something that is not generic but is specific to me and goes beyond just an opening greeting that has my name. It does not have to be a long treatise, just something that tells me that the message actually was targeted to me personally.

This is a practice that I recommend to everyone as a safety precaution.

Thanks.

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