08/25/2013 archive

AC Meetup: Being Left of Labour is Easier than Ever… so what’s the problem? by NY Brit Expat

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“Our starting point for 2015/16 will be that we cannot reverse any cut in day to day, current spending unless it is fully funded from cuts elsewhere or extra revenue – not from more borrowing.

So when George Osborne stands up next week and announces his cuts in day to day spending, we won’t be able to promise now to reverse them because we can only do so when we can be absolutely crystal clear about where the money is coming from (Ed Miliband, June 22, 2013 (http://www.channel4.com/news/miliband-labour-will-not-borrow-more-to-reverse-cuts).”

It has become rather obvious that the tactic of shifting the Labour party to the left is futile, even in situations where government cuts are unpopular and they can pick up votes they refuse to reverse direction (e.g., bedroom tax and changes to child care benefit). Instead of saying we won’t be borrowing to reverse changes, the idea of taxes on wealth, the introduction of a general financial transactions tax, or introducing more bands on income tax to make it more progressive or closing tax loopholes to fund these changes is not discussed.

Adoption of neoliberalism as the basis for economic policy decisions is a political decision! It is not as though there is a dearth of other choices for economic policy that do not rely on lowering wages to maintain profitability and privatisation of public services.  As such, choices in the electoral arena are essentially mainstream political parties upholding a neoliberal position. There is essentially no political party that represents the interests of the majority in the context of a grotesque attack on the social welfare state, divide and rule ideology, and privatisation of what remains of the state sector including parts of the NHS.

h/t to Elise Hendricks for the title of this piece!

Who Is a Journalist?

In the midst of the furor over whistleblowers and the revelations from Wikileaks and The Guardian, there has been an on going war with journalists waged by the Obama administration should be of great concern for the American people. Marcy Wheeler made note of this phenomenon in July after it was revealed the attorney General Eric Holder had labeled Fox News reporter James Rosen a criminal co-conspirator in a case under investigation by the DOJ. After denying he had signed off on a secret warrant to search Rosen’s private e-mails, Holder admitted he authorized the warrant. Along with the DOJ taping the phone lines of the Associated Press, Holder issued new “News Media Policies,” (pdf)

As Marcy reported, those guidelines were a step towards creating an “official press.” If that isn’t a clearly an intent to put limits on the First Amendment, in steps California Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is backing the Media Shield Law which would define journalist as those who are paid by news agencies

A real reporter, declared Feinstein during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, is “a salaried agent” of a media company like the New York Times or ABC News, not a “shoestring operation with volunteers and writers who are not paid.”

Feinstein voiced her concern “that the current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications,” like bloggers and citizen journalists.

She and her fellow Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Dick Durban want to limited who can be a journalist leaving bloggers and independent journalist without First Amendment protections:

Take the case of Crystal Cox, for example.  A self-described “investigative blogger” from Seattle, Cox broke a story about financial malpractice at a major investment bank, prompting a lawsuit for defamation.

Cox argued in court that she should be covered by Oregon’s shield laws, but a judge found she was not protected because she was not part of the traditional media.

As a result, she was ordered to pay $2.5 million to the investment firm.

The laws in many states are lagging behind the reality of journalism today, where anyone with a camera, smart phone or a computer can break an important story.

“The distinction between who gets paid to do journalism and who doesn’t is going to be come essentially meaningless as we go forward with this technological revolution,” said Kelly McBride, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a journalism school based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

McBride, the recent author of a book on journalism ethics in the Internet age, said shield laws are meant to ensure a vibrant marketplace of ideas where all voices can be heard.

“To the extent that you limit the shield law, you limit who is in that marketplace,” she said.

This is an outrageous assault on the  press and the First Amendment.

“our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Thomas Jefferson to Dr. James Currie, January 28, 1786

h/t LaEscapee

Rant of the Week: “Will McAvoy” The Newsroom

Last year HBO debuted the series “The Newsroom” starring Jeff Daniels as a the very flawed anchor, “Will McAvoy“, of a popular nightly news hour on the fictitious cable channel ACN. Up until now, I have only used real people but I thought this rant was worth discussion.

This is a clip from  the “We Just Decided To” episode where “McAvoy” is asked by a college student at a “town hall,”  “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”

Trnascript can be read here

h/t Lambert Strether at naked capitalism

On This Day In History August 25

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.

August 25 is the 237th day of the year (238th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 128 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1768, James Cook began his first voyage to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun. This would be the first of three voyages that would be hailed as  heroic by the scientific community.


The routes of Captain James Cook’s voyages. The first voyage is shown in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of Cook’s crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line.

In 1766, the Royal Society hired (James) Cook to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun. Cook was promoted to Lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition. The expedition sailed from England in 1768, rounded Cape Horn and continued westward across the Pacific to arrive at Tahiti  on 13 April 1769, where the observations were to be made. However, the result of the observations was not as conclusive or accurate as had been hoped. Cook later mapped the complete New Zealand coastline, making only some minor errors. He then sailed west, reaching the south-eastern coast of the Australian continent on 19 April 1770, and in doing so his expedition became the first recorded Europeans to have encountered its eastern coastline.

On 23 April he made his first recorded direct observation of indigenous Australians at Brush Island near Bawley Point, noting in his journal: “…and were so near the Shore as to distinguish several people upon the Sea beach they appear’d to be of a very dark or black Colour but whether this was the real colour of their skins or the C[l]othes they might have on I know not.” On 29 April Cook and crew made their first landfall on the mainland of the continent at a place now known as the Kurnell Peninsula, which he named Botany Bay after the unique specimens retrieved by the botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. It is here that James Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal tribe known as the Gweagal.

After his departure from Botany Bay he continued northwards, and a mishap occurred when Endeavour ran aground on a shoal of the Great Barrier Reef, on 11 June, and “nursed into a river mouth on 18 June 1770.” The ship was badly damaged and his voyage was delayed almost seven weeks while repairs were carried out on the beach (near the docks of modern Cooktown, at the mouth of the Endeavour River). Once repairs were complete the voyage continued, sailing through Torres Strait and on 22 August he landed on Possession Island, where he claimed the entire coastline he had just explored as British territory. He returned to England via Batavia (modern Jakarta, Indonesia), the Cape of Good Hope and the island of Saint Helena, arriving on 12 July 1771.

Formula One 2013: Spa-Francorchamps

I don’t know what I hate more.  Far East Starts, European Starts, or Tape Delay.

I suppose I hate them all equally which makes me an odd guy to follow Formula One.

There were really no surprises in qualifying despite the rain other than di Resta on the Force India and Caterham making Q2 along with the Cosworths.  Cosworth engines will not be making the transition to blown sixes which means this is the last year for them.

Spa is the longest track and arguably the fastest one and has the greatest elevation change (most hills).  Cars will be running minimal down force to maximize speed and the Red Bull advantage in mechanical (non aero) grip should serve them well.  The commentators are already giving the season to Vettel but it’s not as cut and dried as that, a few DNFs and Alonso and Hamilton are back in the hunt.

Of course Red Bull could park for the rest of the year and win constructors, really the only question is how they transition.

At this level and at the halfway point there is nothing to eat but dust baked in the cake.  Even so it’s more interesting than bumper car figure eight Turn Left “racing”.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Steve Kornacki: The guest list was not published.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: On “This Week,” ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz reports live from Cairo.

At the political roundtable the guests are ABC News’ George Will and Cokie Roberts, Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, and Washington Post Chief Correspondent Dan Balz.

Discussing the up coming 50th Anniversary of of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington are ABC News Chief National Correspondent Byron Pitts, Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, the last living speaker from the march, and former Atlanta mayor and civil rights leader Andrew Young.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Senator Jack Reed (D-RI); and House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Guests on this Sunday’s MTP are  Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R).

At the roundtable are Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID); business executive and author, Sheryl WuDunn; President and Founder of the National Action Network, MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton; New York Times Columnist David Brooks; and presidential historian and author of “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream,” Doris Kearns Goodwin.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX); Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean; Former Republican Senator Jim DeMint; and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

Her panel guest are CNN Political Commentator Cornell Belcher, New York Times columnist and CNN Political Commentator Ross Douthat, Chairman of Good360 Carly Fiorina, and President & CEO, of The Center for American Progress Neera Tanden.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Syria: Cameron and Obama threaten ‘serious response’

25 August 2013 Last updated at 08:01 GMT


The UK and the US have threatened a “serious response” if it emerges Syria used chemical weapons last week.

Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama spoke on the telephone for 40 minutes on Saturday.

Both were “gravely concerned” by the “increasing signs that this was a significant chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime”, Mr Cameron’s office said in a statement.

The Syrian government has denied involvement and blamed rebel fighters.

State television reported on Saturday that soldiers had found chemical agents in tunnels used by the rebels to the east of Damascus.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Save our skins: The new boom in illegal trading driving the world’s rarest species to extinction

Saudi rulers fear Egypt’s fate

CAR rebels accused of massacres

From Myanmar to China, the cinema industry tests the limits of censorship

China’s Bo Xilai rebuts testimony of ex-police chief key to his downfall

Three Things On The Internet

Each night during his evening show All In host Chris Hayes highlights three things from the internet that his viewers have tweeted to him. These were his choices for Friday’s “Click 3

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford takes down Hulk Hogan

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford defied the odds to beat wrestling icon Hulk Hogan in an arm-wrestling match at Toronto’s Fan Expo this morning.

“I own this town, man!” Ford yelled as he beat the 14-time pro wrestling champ.

The Hulk was scheduled to hold an “uncensored” presser after the match. I’ll let you know if I find the video for that.

11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures

The relationship between words and their meaning is a fascinating one, and linguists have spent countless years deconstructing it, taking it apart letter by letter, and trying to figure out why there are so many feelings and ideas that we cannot even put words to, and that our languages cannot identify.

#BATFLECK BACKLASH: On the Web, does Batman’s studio hear you scream?

Indeed, and one most passionately forged by the actor Richard Dreyfuss. Looking closer, we can see his engraving reads: “You read for a part, you feel good about it, you feel confident, then they cast Ben Affleck.

Zing. By the ghost of “Gigli,” that stings.

Warner Bros. announced shortly before 9:30 p.m. Thursday that Ben Affleck is our new big-screen Batman. Within minutes, Dreyfuss – true to his own trained and brash and passionate style as an Oscar-winning actor – tweeted his artful thrust-and-parry, drawing first blood as the Internet responded to the casting fury that rapidly went by the handy hashtag #Batfleck.

One shakes ones head.

Saturday Night Movie

Louis Vuitton Cup

What’s the best way to vaporize money?

Tear it up in the shower.

Seriously, you should never, ever bring anything on a boat you’re not prepared to lose over the side.

Including your life.

The big news of the 2013 America’s Cup is and will be the tragic death of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson in the Artemis capsize and no Nelson ‘ha-ha’s’ despite the amusing coincidence of names.  He was an Olympic gold medalist.

The question is how did we get here and the answer is simple enough.

You see the real problem is that yacht racing is horrifically expensive and breathtakingly dull.  The solution, according to billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle, the computer database company, is to make the boats faster and sail them closer to shore.

Oh, they’re fast all right.  Semi-rigid air foils push them up beyond ambient air speed and drag reducing hydrofoils literally lift them up out of the water at a blistering 40+ knots (50 mph or more to you lubbers) and the viewing in San Fransisco is free since they can’t figure out a way to charge for it.

The only real competition is the New Zealand Kiwis with dreams of past glory backed by Emirate Petro Bucks but if you want a thumb on the scale victory for USA! USA! USA! this is as close to a sure thing as you can get, better than Olympic Men’s Basketball (or Women’s, go Huskies).

Relax and enjoy the flaming chunks of twisted carbon fiber.