Daily Archive: 06/20/2014

Jun 20 2014

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”.

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Heidi Moore: The Fed of magical thinking: why is Janet Yellen ignoring the rest of us?

A two-day diagnosis of the American economy forgot about the very real risk of skyrocketing inflation. Does this country’s central bank really need to pretend everything is just fine?

Americans are experiencing one kind of economy – high unemployment, expensive housing, rocketing food prices and costly medical care – but the US Federal Reserve is seeing another kind of economy: the one in which you shouldn’t believe your own eyes.

It all comes down to inflation: the measure of rising prices that we all experience in our daily lives. And inflation is rising – fast, much faster than the Fed anticipates. Meat prices are rocketing at plus-7.7% in 2014, and dairy is up 4.2%, a considerable hit to family shopping budgets. Shelter – either mortgages or rent costs – are rising at about 3%, while car insurance is up 5%, and tuition costs and public transportation are both up more than 3%. [..]

Yet the Fed, which just wrapped a two-day meeting to diagnose the economy, is dismissing these real-world costs as a trick of the charts – a mere math problem rather than a real snapshot of the challenges facing Americans. And its new leader, Janet Yellen, has now officially risked her reputation on a potential misreading of the concerns of regular people.

Margaret Kimberley: America’s War Crime in Iraq

Beginning in 1991 the United States government brought what has become a never ending hell to Iraq. President George H.W. Bush’s war that year was followed by devastating sanctions which were continued by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It was bad enough that 500,000 children died because of shortages of food and medicine but in 2003 Bush the younger and his henchmen and women rolled the dice on invasion and an occupation that lasted for more than ten years. The Project for a New American Century, the 21st century version of Manifest Destiny, demanded a Pax Americana which set out to make the United States the master of the world.

It is unfortunate that Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and company became the only faces of American aggression. They are indeed responsible for the 2003 invasion but imperialism is still on the move and now has a more shrewd personification in the person of Barack Obama.

Ahmad Shuja: Afghanistan’s journalists betrayed

NSA’s mass surveillance may unfairly implicate the country’€™s courageous reporters for communicating with insurgents

Afghanistan’s journalists, whose professional risks already include kidnapping, insurgent attacks and violent reprisals from Afghan officials’ bodyguards, face a brand new peril: snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency.

On May 23, WikiLeaks revealed that Afghanistan was the previously unnamed country where the NSA conducted mass phone surveillance. The surveillance in Afghanistan goes far beyond the NSA’s controversial metadata collection program in the United States. According to WikiLeaks, since 2013 the NSA has been recording and storing almost all phone calls – including those made by Afghan journalists – in the country and to other countries. Earlier documents released by online news website the Intercept showed that the NSA has been recording all phone calls in the Bahamas as well as gathering all phone call metadata in Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines.

While specific, targeted surveillance may be warranted for national security reasons, collecting the phone calls of an entire nation cannot be justified. The bulk surveillance invades the privacy of millions of Afghans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. And it chills the work of journalists who use phone calls to gather information for their stories.

Jill Filipovic: Global justice for rape survivors demands extraordinary efforts

In places where legal systems routinely fail, alternatives outside law needed

In the city of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a woman I’ll call Camille (all the Congolese women in this story have asked to use pseudonyms) told the story of her rape. Soldiers affiliated with Paul Salada, a militia leader, kidnapped her when she was 16. Held for months, she was raped repeatedly, some days by as many as 10 men. She became pregnant from the rapes and eventually chased out of the camp. Camille gave birth and is raising her child alone.

Two decades of war, millions of deaths and displacements, endemic poverty and perpetually weak governance mean the many Congolese women who are raped every day – one estimate from 2011 put the number at 48 women raped every hour – rarely see their attackers prosecuted. Too often, the victims are ostracized and left to recover with few medical, legal or psychological resources.

But legal systems don’t fail sexual assault survivors just in the DRC. Even nations with entrenched and functional criminal justice systems regularly drop the ball when it comes to violence against women. To be sure, if we are to get serious about helping survivors, we need to strengthen their legal rights. But we should also be looking outside the justice system to help facilitate healing in the many instances where justice is a dream or a farce.

In the city of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a woman I’ll call Camille (all the Congolese women in this story have asked to use pseudonyms) told the story of her rape. Soldiers affiliated with Paul Salada, a militia leader, kidnapped her when she was 16. Held for months, she was raped repeatedly, some days by as many as 10 men. She became pregnant from the rapes and eventually chased out of the camp. Camille gave birth and is raising her child alone.

Two decades of war, millions of deaths and displacements, endemic poverty and perpetually weak governance mean the many Congolese women who are raped every day – one estimate from 2011 put the number at 48 women raped every hour – rarely see their attackers prosecuted. Too often, the victims are ostracized and left to recover with few medical, legal or psychological resources.

But legal systems don’t fail sexual assault survivors just in the DRC. Even nations with entrenched and functional criminal justice systems regularly drop the ball when it comes to violence against women. To be sure, if we are to get serious about helping survivors, we need to strengthen their legal rights. But we should also be looking outside the justice system to help facilitate healing in the many instances where justice is a dream or a farce.

Juan Cole: As US Pressures Maliki to Resign, will Iraqi Gov’t Collapse?

A consensus is forming in Washington that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must resign, as part of accountability for his failures with his Sunni Arab citizens. Because Washington is so good about demanding accountability.

While this analysis is correct, and I have said myself that Iraq would be better off with a different leader, it is not clear that right now is the best time to force al-Maliki out. Washington also has to be careful about trying and failing to get rid of al-Maliki. President Obama and Hillary Clinton wanted to get rid of Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan in 2009; they failed, and therefore had bad relations with Karzai ever after.

A potential departure of al-Maliki raises the question of who would take his place. Al-Maliki is the head of the Islamic Mission Party (al-Da’wa al-Islamiyah). This Shiite fundamentalist party won 92 of 328 seats in the parliamentary elections just held. The Da’wa Party was for years covert and still is secretive. We don’t know who is on its politburo. It will likely form the next government with or without al-Maliki.

Jun 20 2014

Friday Night at the Movies

Jun 20 2014

Stiglitz on Moyers & Company

Fair Taxes for All

How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class

It’s just a Nobel Prize.  What does he know about Economics?

Jun 20 2014

The Breakfast Club: 6-20-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

Jun 20 2014

On This Day In History June 20

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 20 is the 171st day of the year (172nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 194 days remaining until the end of the year.

On leap years, this day usually marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1789, Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath.

In Versailles, France, the deputies of the Third Estate, which represent commoners and the lower clergy, meet on the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court, in defiance of King Louis XVI’s order to disperse. In these modest surroundings, they took a historic oath not to disband until a new French constitution had been adopted.

Louis XVI, who ascended the French throne in 1774, proved unsuited to deal with the severe financial problems he had inherited from his grandfather, King Louis XV. In 1789, in a desperate attempt to address France’s economic crisis, Louis XVI assembled the Estates-General, a national assembly that represented the three “estates” of the French people–the nobles, the clergy, and the commons. The Estates-General had not been assembled since 1614, and its deputies drew up long lists of grievances and called for sweeping political and social reforms.

The Tennis Court Oath (French: serment du jeu de paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789 so they made a makeshift conference room inside a tennis court.

In 17 June 1789 this group, led by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, began to call themselves the National Assembly. On the morning of 20 June, the deputies were shocked to discover that the chamber door was locked and guarded by soldiers. Immediately fearing the worst and anxious that a royal attack by King Louis XVI was imminent, the deputies congregated in a nearby indoor real tennis court where they took a solemn collective oath “not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established” It later transpired that the most probable reason why the hall was closed was that the royal household was still in mourning the death of the Dauphin (the king’s oldest son) two weeks earlier; ordinarily, political matters could not be conducted until the King had emerged from mourning. The oath is therefore a contentious point in French political history, since pro-monarchists then and now characterize it as a duplicitous and hysterical over-reaction which deliberately made capital out of a private tragedy in the royal family. Other historians have argued that given political tensions in France at that time, the deputies’ fears, even if wrong, were reasonable and that the importance of the oath goes above and beyond its context.

The deputies pledged to continue to meet until a constitution had been written, despite the royal prohibition. The oath was both a revolutionary act, and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarch himself. Their solidarity forced Louis XVI to order the clergy and the nobility to join with the Third Estate in the National Assembly.

The only deputy recorded as not taking the oath was Joseph Martin-Dauch from Castelnaudary. He can be seen on the right of David’s sketch, seated with his arms crossed and his head bowed.

Jun 20 2014

TDS/TCR (Cherry Tree)

TDS TCR

Fun with Animals

More Fun with Animals

The real news and next week’s guests below.