Daily Archive: 06/26/2013

Jun 26 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: On abortion, Republicans treat women like children

Last week, the House passed the most restrictive abortion bill to come to a vote in Congress in the past decade.

Despite the efforts of Democrats and a few moderate Republicans who spoke out against the unconstitutional bill, which bans almost all abortions after 20 weeks, it passed 228 to 196. This is only the latest blow in the GOP’s all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights.

Republican leadership considered the bill, called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, an “appropriate” response to the outrageous crimes of Kermit Gosnell, whose horrific abortion clinicinflicted numerous injuries and deaths. But the GOP learned the wrong lessons from the Gosnell case, which illustrates the dangers of illegal abortion and the damage that ensues when disadvantaged women without access to safe clinics are forced to put their lives in the hands of a murderer.

Susan Sarandon: Colorado’s Amendment 64 Was Just the Beginning

In 2012 I supported Amendment 64 in Colorado — the “regulate marijuana like alcohol act.” Amendment 64 is a common sense step toward ending the archaic prohibition mindset that has resulted in the U.S. leading the world in the incarceration of our people — a prison system packed with non-violent drug offenders.

Adding insult to injury, the system as it stands today is racist and classist — police arrest low level dealers and users, who then face obscenely long mandatory minimum sentences — unless they know higher level drug dealers to turn in and trade for lower sentences.

Joan Walsh: The ugly SCOTUS voting rights flim-flam

The fact that black voters beat back modern suppression efforts in 2012 must mean they don’t need protection!

No good deed goes unpunished, I like to say. In striking down a key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that African-American voter turnout in 2012 either exceeded or essentially matched white turnout in five of six Southern states governed by the act’s tough and controversial Section 5.

Ironically, as anyone paying attention knows, that turnout surge was driven by anger over a wave of GOP efforts to suppress black votes in those and other states – and it was helped along by Section 5, which requires states with a history of voting rights suppression to pre-clear any voting changes with the Justice Department (Justice struck down 21 such proposals since 2006). Still, despite new voter identification laws, restrictions on early voting and Sunday voting and other barriers, African-Americans voted at unprecedented rates in 2012 – and that helped give Roberts an excuse to strike down a section key to enforcing the law.

Auro Bogado: Supreme Court Strikes a Hard Blow to Tribal Sovereignty in Adoption Case

In a 5 to 4 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not block termination of a Native father’s parental rights. The court appears to have ruled as if it was deciding the issue based on race-when a better lens to understand the case, called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, is through tribal sovereignty.

Ann Wright: In Yemen, Most Al Qaeda can be Captured, but Killing is Easier

Extensive interviews with families of drone victims and human rights organizations in Yemen indicate that the governments of the United States and Yemen are choosing to kill rather than attempting to capture suspected al Qaeda members in Yemen. Civilians who have no connection with Al Qaeda are killed when the U.S. uses drones to target Al Qaeda members who travel freely throughout the country. High unemployment and feelings of injustice for the killing of people in their area by drones and Yemeni air strikes provide a fertile recruiting ground for al Qaeda in Yemen. Yemen prisons in which young people have been detained and imprisoned for months and years without trial by the Government of Yemen is a key place where radicalization for armed groups, including al Qaeda, occurs.

I have been in Yemen for the past week with a CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation that included Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, co-founders of CODEPINK, Terry Rockefeller, whose sister was killed in 9/11 attacks and represents 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Robert Naiman, policy director of Just Foreign Policy, Pam Bailey, writer and human rights activist and Tighe Barry, CODEPINK art director. We have spoken with families of drone victims in Yemen, local and international human rights organizations based in Yemen, as well as families of prisoners in Guantanamo.

Rebecca Solnit: Welcome to the (Don’t Be) Evil Empire

Google Eats the World

Finally, journalists have started criticizing in earnest the leviathans of Silicon Valley, notably Google, now the world’s third-largest company in market value. The new round of discussion began even before the revelations that the tech giants were routinely sharing our data with the National Security Agency, or maybe merging with it. Simultaneously another set of journalists, apparently unaware that the weather has changed, is still sneering at San Francisco, my hometown, for not lying down and loving Silicon Valley’s looming presence.

The criticism of Silicon Valley is long overdue and some of the critiques are both thoughtful and scathing. The New Yorker, for example, has explored how start-ups are undermining the purpose of education at Stanford University, addressed the Valley’s messianic delusions and political meddling, and considered Apple’s massive tax avoidance.

Jun 26 2013

SCOTUS: DOMA Struck Down; Dismisses Prop 8

Equal Right to Marry photo imagesqtbnANd9GcQmD05y7D9pRuFTg2wtz_zpsbcb78269.jpg The Supreme Court ruled on two important cases for the LGBT community: Windsor v. U.S., addressing the Defense of Marriage Act, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, addressing California’s Proposition 8.

On DOMA, which was signed into law by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1996, the court ruled (pdf) that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits. Justice Kennedy delivered the court’s opinion, and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito all filed dissenting opinions. While the ruling is a victory on the federal level, the 5- 4 ruling does not effect a state’s right to ban same sex marriage.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

The plaintiff who brought the case, Edie Windsor, 84, will now get her refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid after her spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009.

In the Prop 8 case, that was argued before the court by attorneys, Theodore Olson and David Boies, the court decided, again by a 5 – 4 decision, that the opponents of same sex marriage have no standing to sue. The ruling allows gay couples in California to marry.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”

Roberts was joined in his majority opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan. Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.

The judgement of the Ninth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

California voters added Proposition 8 to the state’s constitution in 2008 through a ballot initiative that reversed the state Supreme Court’s recognition of same-sex marriage earlier that year. Two same-sex couples challenged the ban in federal court, and by the time their suit reached the justices, two lower courts had declared it unconstitutional.

After the disappointing ruling yesterday striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, this is truly a great day for equal rights in the US.

Jun 26 2013

North by Northwest

Hacking a car is way too easy

By Andrew Leonard, Salon

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013 02:50 PM EDT

Conspiracy theories about the cause of the car crash that killed investigative reporter Michael Hastings on June 18 started sprouting immediately after the news of his death broke. So far, no conclusive evidence supports foul play, but on Monday, counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke made news when he told the Huffington Post that the circumstances of Hastings’ car chase were “consistent with a car cyber attack.”

While hastening to state that he was not saying he believed the crash was a purposeful attack, Clarke did observe, reported the Huffington Post, that “‘There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers’ – including the United States – know how to remotely seize control of a car.”



(T)wo alarming papers by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, (are) “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Vehicle,” and Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces.

Taken together, the papers make for scary reading. In the first the researchers demonstrate that it is a relatively trivial exercise to access the computer systems of a modern car and take control away from the driver. The second demonstrates that such mayhem can be achieved remotely, via a variety of methods. The inescapable conclusion: The modern car is a security disaster.



There turn out to be multiple pathways for car hackers. Diagnostic tools used by mechanics can give hackers laptop access to critical systems. If an attacker is able to get a music file preloaded with malware onto your iPod, just plugging it into a car’s USB port could give that attacker full access. Nearly all new cars now have two-way cellular capability necessary for such systems as GM’s On-Star that are purposely designed to faciliate access to all-important systems.

Your car, ultimately, might be more vulnerable to attack than your computer or smartphone, because there’s little evidence that there has been any systematic thought devoted to vehicle cyber-security. Quite the opposite. Cars are increasingly designed to allow remote access via a variety of input systems.

Jun 26 2013

On This Day In History June 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 26 is the 177th day of the year (178th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 188 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, St. Lawrence Seaway opened.

In a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II, the St. Lawrence Seaway is officially opened, creating a navigational channel from the Atlantic Ocean to all the Great Lakes. The seaway, made up of a system of canals, locks, and dredged waterways, extends a distance of nearly 2,500 miles, from the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior.

History

The Saint Lawrence Seaway was preceded by a number of other canals. In 1871, locks on the Saint Lawrence allowed transit of vessels 186 ft (57 m) long, 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m) wide, and 9 ft (2.7 m) deep. The Welland Canal at that time allowed transit of vessels 142 ft (43 m) long, 26 ft (7.9 m) wide, and 10 ft (3.0 m) deep, but was generally too small to allow passage of larger ocean-going ships.

The first proposals for a binational comprehensive deep waterway along the St. Lawrence came in the 1890s. In the following decades the idea of a power project became inseparable from the seaway – in fact, the various governments involved believed that the deeper water created by the hydro project were necessary to make the seaway channels feasible. American proposals for development up to and including the First World War met with little interest from the Canadian federal government. But the two national government submitted St. Lawrence plans, and the Wooten-Bowden Report and the International Joint Commission both recommended the project in the early 1920s. Although the Liberal Mackenzkie King was reluctant to proceed, in part of because of opposition to the project in Quebec, in 1932 the two countries inked a treaty. This failed to receive the assent of Congress. Subsequent attempts to forge an agreement in the 1930s came to naught as the Ontario government of Mitchell Hepburn, along with Quebec, got in the way. By 1941, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister King made an executive agreement to build the joint hydro and navigation works, but this too failed to receive the assent of Congress. Proposals for the seaway were met with resistance from railway and port lobbyists in the United States.

In the post-1945 years, proposals to introduce tolls still could not induce the U.S. Congress to approve the project. Growing impatient, and with Ontario desperate for hydro-electricity, Canada began to consider “going it alone.” This seized the imagination of Canadians, engendering a groundswell of St. Lawrence nationalism. Fueled by this support, the Canadian Louis St. Laurent government decided over the course of 1951 and 1952 to construct the waterway alone, combined with a hydro project (which would prove to be the joint responsibility of Ontario and New York – as a power dam would change the water levels, it required bilateral cooperation). However, the Truman and Eisenhower administrations considered it a national security threat for Canada to alone control the deep waterway, and used various means – such as delaying and stalling the Federal Power Commission license for the power aspect – until Congress in early 1954 approved an American seaway role via the Wiley act. Canada, out of concern for the ramifications of the bilateral relationship, reluctantly acquiesced.

In the United States, Dr. N.R. Danelian (who was the Director of the 13 volume St. Lawrence Seaway Survey in the U.S. Department of Navigation (1932-1963)), worked with the U.S. Secretary of State on Canadian-United States issues regarding the Seaway and worked for over 15 years on passage of the Seaway Act. He later became President of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Association to further the interests of the Seaway development to benefit the American Heartland.

The seaway opened in 1959 and cost $638 million in Canadian dollars, $336.2 million of which was paid by the U.S. government.[1] Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally opened the Seaway with a short cruise aboard Royal Yacht Britannia after addressing the crowds in St. Lambert, Quebec.

The seaway’s opening is often credited with making the Erie Canal obsolete, thus setting off the severe economic decline of several cities in Upstate New York.

Jun 26 2013

More Video

The Last Word

Yellow Journalism

Assange on Manning

Jun 26 2013

Chronic Tonic: Fun With Fibromyalgia!

Originally posted at Voices on the Square

Yes! It’s Tonic Time Again!

This week I’m dealing with one of those regally crappy oh so much fun aspects of Fibromyalgia, lucky girl that I am!

I am the classic princess and the pea. I can feel every single bump in my mattress, every last wrinkle in the sheets, any bunching of my pajamas – everything. Normally, the biggest problem I have with this is a little soft bruising wherever the “pea” lumpy was, or that my hip joint starts hurting and i have to turn over: wash rinse repeat.