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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

Joaquin Castro

Joaquin Castro is a Democratic congressman from Texas. He, like his twin brother Julian who used to be mayor of San Antonio and is now secretary of Housing and Urban Development, represents the next generation of Democratic party leadership. He was interviewed recently on The Daily Show and sounded good. Let’s hope they do better and not sell out as easily as that other once-rising hopeful Cory Booker, who seems to be completely in the pockets of Wall Street.
[Read more…]

Japan has 500 km/h maglev train

While US infrastructure continues its slow but steady degeneration as politicians stay fixated on richer people paying less taxes and thus starving the government and making it unable to maintain even what we have now let alone make ambitious plans for improvements in the future, we have to look to other countries for the nice things that we cannot have.
[Read more…]

They never stop asking for more

Religious organizations and individuals, the Catholic church in particular, put Oliver Twist to shame. Their recent string of legal victories against having to provide contraception coverage to their employees has made them even more greedy about claiming privileges. Molly Redden says that the Catholic church now argues that even having to show up in court to fight a lawsuit is a violation of their religions freedom.
[Read more…]

Will the oligarchy trigger a revolution in the US?

The political system in the US is, if not actually broken, on the verge of collapse. We have a system where the oligarchy has taken complete control of the system to ensure that only those candidates who are friendly to its goals of vacuuming up as much wealth as it can from the rest of society get on the ballot as representatives of the major parties, so that whichever candidate wins is practically immaterial to them.
[Read more…]

Daniel Larison on the Iraq war

The American Conservative is a publication for US conservatives who are trying to hold on to what used to be an honorable political tradition and not the crazy set of jingoistic and reactionary views that the Republican party now represents. In a recent issue Daniel Larison roundly condemns the Iraq war that George W. Bush started against Iraq and all the conservatives who supported it at the time, not sparing those who now express some reservations
[Read more…]

Grimm and grimmer

Fairy tales are a staple of children’s literature with the first exposure to them coming in the form of bedtime stories read by parents. The stories that were recounted by people like the brothers Grimm and Han Christian Andersen are common knowledge to children all over the globe. These authors usually did not write these stories themselves but collected folk tales and retold them.
[Read more…]