Germany may allow same-sex marriage within a week

I had assumed that Germany was one of those enlightened countries where same-sex marriages had long been legal and lesbians and gays could adopt children. I was wrong. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been opposed to both those issues being brought up for a vote in the Bundestag, the German parliament. But she now she seems to have had a change of heart. Or at least is bowing to political necessity.
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Another attack based on lies?

When there was a ghastly tragedy on April 4th, 2017 in Idlib, Syria that killed a large number of civilians, there were immediate media reports that it was due to a sarin chemical attack by the Syrian government, aided by their ally Russia. The Trump administration was quick to accept this claim and less than two days later, Trump made an emotional speech about the deaths of children to justify the US unleashing a missile attack on a Syrian airfield to supposedly punish Syria for the attack.
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The basis for the Conservative-DUP alliance

Robert Mackey writes that Theresa May in order to have a working majority in parliament has bought the allegiance of the reactionary Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland by offering them a bribe of one billion pounds in social welfare spending. This has just added to her image as someone desperately wanting to cling to power. But another factor that is driving this alliance is their mutual fear that if the May government collapses, another election could see Labour being swept into power and (oh, the horror!) Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister
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Jeremy Corbyn gives a barn burner of a speech

Thanks to Cory Doctorow I came across this short but powerful speech given yesterday by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to the huge, young crowd at the Glastonbury music festival. He attacks Donald Trump and the austerity policies promoted by the political elites. He rails against war, greed, racism, sexism, homophobia, the denigration of refugees, and the destruction of the environment. He calls for unity and peace and human rights. He seems to be really energized and impassioned and yet relaxed.
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Here we go again …

Marcus Ranum discusses the status of the war in Afghanistan and the ever-enduring belief of the military that seems to be immune to repeated failure, that if they just get more troops, they can win whatever war they are currently engaged in. This is what general Stanley McChrystal told president Barack Obama when he was appointed in 2009 to take charge of the war. McChrystal felt that with 40,000 more troops, he could capture and hold the Taliban stronghold of Helmand, thus delivering a crushing blow. Obama gave him 30,000, NATO allies gave another 10,000, Helmand remained defiant, and McChrystal was fired for insubordination. This was the basis for the satirical film War Machine.
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The Qatar crisis worsens

Saudi Arabia continues its drive to be the Arab hegemon in the Middle East and, along with its subordinate partners Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, has issued a set of demands to Qatar as to what must be done within ten days for the sudden blockade they imposed more than two weeks ago to be lifted. Qatar must shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base, and reduce ties with Iran. The full list of demands can be seen here. This is quite an ominous development in an already volatile region.
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Wait for the Republicans to cave on the health care vote

The Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell has released his version of the health care reform bill and it has as its main feature a massive transfer of wealth to the rich while cutting health service to the poor. The main target seems to be Medicaid, the government-run system that serves the poor. Steven Rosenfeld summarizes the main features.
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When leakers are justified in releasing information

Before the latest reports emerged of of an alleged new NSA contractor leaker Reality Leigh Winner, David Sirota had a wide-ranging interview with Glenn Greenwald (who is one of the founders of The Intercept and whom Snowden chose as one of his conduits to release his documents) asks about when leaks are justifiable, how they should be handled, whether the motives and the identity of the leaker are relevant, and the role of journalists.
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Democrats seem unable to shake off ineffective leaders

The much-hyped special elections in Georgia and South Carolina have resulted in wins for Republicans. It is true that both are heavily Republican districts but the Democrats had hoped that the unpopularity of Donald Trump, the chaos surrounding his administration, and their health care proposals would enable them to pull off wins. But that was not to be and neither race was close.
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