Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Supreme Court struck the heart out of the Voting Rights Act - Via: Randi Rhodes

Today the Supreme Court struck the heart out of the Voting Rights Act. The only voting right that this Supreme Court recognizes it the right of big corporations to vote with their money. The Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that singles out certain areas that have a history of discrimination. Getting rid of Section 4 is like denying that history. Yes, they passed a law against voter discrimination and concentrated on areas where that happened. Hello! If you pass a law against speeding, you should probably concentrate enforcement on the areas with roads. The history of racial discrimination in the South was one of the main reasons that we needed the Voting Rights Act. Singling out the areas where the problems were the worst was common sense. Today the Supreme Court ruled that common sense no longer applies.

The Court said that Congress can impose new oversight on areas that are at risk, based on new data. But John Roberts knows full well that Congress can’t do anything. Congress is frozen by extremist members from totally gerrymandered districts. Today’s Congress is not the solution to voter discrimination—today’s Congress is the result of voter discrimination. There are still provisions in the Voting Rights Act that can be used to safeguard voting rights. Conservatives are taking away voting rights the same way they’re taking away reproductive rights—gradually. This is not the end of voting rights, but if we don’t fight back, it’s the beginning of the end.

How is Edward Snowden travelling without a passport? You don’t need a passport if you’re carrying four computers full of US intelligence secrets. The secrets on those computers will open more borders than any passport ever issued. But they’re especially helpful when your travel is through nations in competition with us like Russia and China. You know how you have to show your passport when you land? Ed Snowden has to show the contents of those computers. The problem is that that takes a lot longer. They need to make copies, after all. The only good part of the Snowden itinerary is that his supposed last stop can’t do a lot of harm with the information. When people talk about secrets falling into the wrong hands, they aren’t usually thinking of Ecuador.

Meanwhile in Texas, Republican lawmakers are trying to force through a bill that would virtually outlaw abortion in Texas. Why is all of this stuff taking place in the middle of a sweltering June? Isn’t a little hot for things to get this heated?

Texas Representative Jodie Laubenberg made a statement about rape kits that would have made Todd Akin gasp at its stupidity. Laubenberg said that no abortion ban exception for rape was necessary because “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.” It’s a variation on Todd Akin! Todd thought that a woman’s body has a way to “shut that whole thing down.” Jodie Laubenberg thinks that hospitals have a magic kit that does the same thing.
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Attorney General Eric Holder expressed deep disappointment in today’s Supreme Court ruling, but vowed to continue fighting voting discrimination using every legal tool available...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Privateers - Via Randi Rhodes

We need to have a debate over surveillance. Even more, we need to have a debate over exactly who is doing the surveilling. Government surveillance can be worrisome, but it’s much more worrisome when the surveillance is being done by private contractors. Ultimately, we are willing to accept a certain level of surveillance if the final goal is to keep us safer. But the final goal of a private company is not to keep us safer—the final goal of a private company is always to make money. We have to make a difficult tradeoff between our privacy and our safety, but by leaving surveillance in the hands of private contractors we’re risking both of them.

Outsourcing intelligence work is risky—it will cost us much more in the long run. That’s almost a moot point though, since it costs us much more in the short run too! A private contractor doing intelligence work costs twice as much as a government employee. That pretty much takes the “intelligence” out of the equation right at the start. A report to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said that a private contractor in intelligence costs $250,000 per year, while a government employee costs $126,500. Contractors are supposed to keep us safe from attack? They can’t even keep us safe from being overcharged.

There are hundreds of thousands of private contractors with the kind of Top Secret clearance that Edward Snowden had. If Snowden alerted us to nothing else, he alerted us to all the potential Snowdens out there. A report this year to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that a total of 483,263 contractors held Top Secret clearances in 2012. It’s almost as easy to get Top Secret clearance in this country as it is to get a gun! 483,263 private contractors! That’s 483,263 potential leakers. I certainly wouldn’t buy a boat if there was that much of a possibility of damaging leaks.

His employer Booz Allen has announced that they have fired Ed Snowden. That’s a step forward—the next step should be to fire Booz Allen. In their statement, Booz Allen said that Snowden “was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months.” Right. Guys, that doesn’t make it sound any better. “Less than three months”? What are you saying, Booz Allen—that you hardly knew this Snowden guy? That’s not a good thing to be saying about somebody that you got top secret security clearance for!

It turns out that Edward Snowden had a live-in girlfriend who is a pole dancer. She is described in news reports as “an acrobatic pole performer.” If you look at the video from her YouTube channel, you’ll realize that it ain’t Cirque du Soleil. So Edward Snowden had a cushy job in Hawaii with a poll-dancing girlfriend! In his interview with the Guardian, Snowden asked “What would it take to make you leave everything behind?” How about “terrible decision-making skills”?
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As jury selection continues in the George Zimmerman murder trial, Fox News wonders if getting fat is punishment enough for killing Trayvon...

Monday, June 3, 2013



Pussy Riot is an anonymous Russian feminist performance art group formed in October 2011. Through a series of peaceful public performances that voiced how basic rights under threat in Russia today, while expressing the values and principles of gender equality, democracy and freedom of expression that are contained in the Russian constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CEDAW Convention.

Imprisoned members of the art group Pussy Riot (from left to right):

Maria Alekhina, age 24. Poet and student at the Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing. Mother of a 5 year-old son.  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, age 23. Visual artist and 4th year Philosophy student. Mother of a 5 year-old daughter

Nadia and Masha are serving 2 years on charges of “hooliganism” for their 1-minute performance on February 21, 2012 in a priests-only section of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The investigator’s report claims the performance was an act of religious hatred. The specific intention of the performance was to draw attention to the special relationship between President Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church,  as well a prayer to the Madonna to drive Putin away. Masha and Nadya’s release date as it stands now is March 3, 2014. advocates for the release of Masha and Nadya, supports the family members and works with the group.

Supporting Organizations: 

The Voice Project
Amnesty International

Austrian Green Party
European Women’s Lobby
Free Muse
Human Rights Watch
Index of Censorship
PEN International
Russia’s Human Rights Council
Riot Grrrl Berlin



Stop Telling Lies About Liberals: My Story Was No Accident

Stop Telling Lies About Liberals: My Story Was No Accident: This past week, the president of Right to Life of Michigan stated that women should have to buy extra insurance for abortions, even in cases...