Daily Archive: 07/09/2014

Jul 09 2014

2014 World Cup Semifinals: Argentina – Netherlands

The winner of today’s match will face a very formidable German team in the final on Sunday, July 13. The loser will play Brazil for 3rd place on Saturday. Yesterday’s trouncing of home team Brazil by 7 – 1 was the most lopsided World Cup semifinal game ever and devastated the Brazilian fans.

Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, and Brazil’s Day Goes Dark

The fireworks began at dawn. All around this city, loud pops and bangs rang out as men and women and children, so many dressed in yellow, set off flares and beeped car horns. It was supposed to be a magical day. The Brazilian national soccer team, playing at home, was one game away from a World Cup final.

No one could have guessed the tears would come before halftime. No one could have imagined there would be flags burning in the streets before dinner. Certainly no one could have envisioned that any Brazilian fans, watching their team play a semifinal in a celebrated stadium, would ever consider leaving long before full time. [..]

At the very minimum, it will go down as Brazil’s worst loss, surpassing a 6-0 defeat by Uruguay in 1920. It was also Brazil’s first loss in a competitive home game since 1975, a stretch of more than 14,000 days. For more than six decades, Brazilians had been hoping to erase the embarrassment of their team’s defeat in the 1950 World Cup final – also against Uruguay – which denied them a championship the last time they hosted their favorite sport’s biggest tournament.

Somehow, the fans came away from this World Cup with a nightmare even darker.

The team’s humiliation continued on the internet with Twitter exploding with match becoming the most discussed sports event in Titter history with 35.6 million tweets most of them laughing at the team.

Here are some of the things to look for in today’s game:

How will Di María’s absence affect Argentina?

While Ángel Di María was Real Madrid’s best player in the Champions League final, he has been more fitful for Argentina.

Van Persie’s form

Robin van Persie began the tournament with the header to end all headers, that staggering swan-dive improvisation that sent the ball looping over a baffled Iker Casillas and Holland on their way to a momentous 5-1 crushing of Spain.

Higuaín and Lavezzi’s movement

Gonzalo Higuaín has never quite convinced in an Argentina shirt and there were many wondering whether he was worth his place leading into the quarter-final against Belgium.

Holland’s defence without Vlaar

Ron Vlaar has been a rock for Holland, marshalling their defence and using his experience to guide the younger players around him, so it will be a huge blow if a knee injury keeps him out on Wednesday night.

And some analysis from The Guardian‘s Zico:

Argentina v Holland: two teams on the up, both fancying their chances – it’s too close to call and I won’t dare predict a result. Our neighbours and the Dutch have deservedly made it to the semi-finals and Wednesday’s game in São Paulo promises to be an occasion we will remember for a long time judging by how the teams have fared at this World Cup.

Let’s start with Argentina. It was clear from the start that Lionel Messi would be their focal point in this tournament and he has delivered when they needed him most, either through vitals goals or assists, or making moves that opened up spaces or created chances for others. That latter scenario we saw in the game against Belgium. Gonzalo Higuaín was the scorer but Messi had created enough havoc to allow the Napoli striker to pounce on that ball.

A crucial factor for Argentina in the knockout stages has been the improvement in their defensive system. [..]

Holland’s graph is also rising but unlike Argentina they are not so dependent upon one player. In Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie they have an attacking trio that is clicking at the right time. [..]

In terms of fitness, Holland have been through some tough games under the north-eastern sun in Brazil but I haven’t seen them struggling as much as other teams. Even Germany looked more tired when they finished their quarter-final against France.

I think the Dutch have got enough in reserve to match Argentina – this could be even more intense than some games we have seen so far. Both teams have peaked at the right time and I reckon this semi-final could be decided by very tiny details.

The game coverage begins at 3 PM EDT with kick off at 4 PM.

Jul 09 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Dear Democrats: Economic Inequality Is Not an Act of God

“Inequality” is out as a White House talking point, The Washington Post reported on July 4. “Opportunity” is in. This is a problem. It’s just wrongheaded to believe that we face a binary choice: reform an unequal system or help the middle class.

By implying that there is a disconnect between inequality and opportunity, (many, not all) Democrats ignore the fact that opportunity cannot be provided as long as the economic and financial system is so unequal. Some, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, intuitively understand this. After all, she first came to Washington to battle a system that has long been rigged against the middle class, where working families’ voices get overpowered by well-funded lobbyists who hold elected officials by the pocket. By creating an artificial division between inequality and opportunity, we turn a blind eye to this rampant unfairness that helped the 1 percent ascend to their economic perches in the first place.

Michelle Chen: Why the Supreme Court’s Attack on Labor Hurts Women Most

The War on Women found an ally at the Supreme Court last week with two rulings that threaten to deepen gender inequality in the workplace. The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case is more clearly aimed at women, with its religiously inspired assault on women’s contraceptive healthcare access. But it was the ruling on union rights in Harris v. Quinn, which threatens a vital union for public healthcare workers, that may prove even more consequential for the lives of working women.

Washington has for years been paralyzed by the right’s anti-abortion agenda and resistant to funding the most basic welfare supports for low-income mothers. Now the Court has expanded the attack on women through legal clampdowns on women’s economic and civil rights-attacking reproductive healthcare in one ruling and gutting women’s labor power in the other.

Bryce Covert: What Happened When One Country Required All Corporate Boards to Be 40% Women

Call it the Sheryl Sandberg theory of feminist progress: help more women get into the tippy top of the company pyramid and change will spread to the bottom ranks. You could also call it trickle-down feminism: focus on equality at the top and the rewards will flow downward. There are some real life examples that show this doesn’t always pan out. Take Marissa Mayer reducing flexible scheduling after she became the first female CEO at Yahoo, or Sandberg herself, who didn’t realize pregnant women needed reserved parking lots close to the building until she was pregnant.

But a new study quantifies (pdf) just how far the effects of putting women in leadership can, and can’t, go. Marianne Bertrand, Sandra E. Black and Sissel Jensen examined what happened after Norway instituted a quota in 2003 that required public companies to make their boards at least 40 percent female. The quota did get many more women onto corporate boards, and it may have helped boost their pay, as the wage gap between male and female board members fell.

Ana Marie Cox: The real reason gun control is failing

Americans are still OK with guns, and until we can change that, Michael Bloomberg’s millions won’t mean a thing

The Michael Bloomberg – funded Everytown for Gun Safety announced on Monday a new gambit for creating pressure on candidates to move, finally, in the direction of stricter gun laws: the group will offer them a survey. Everytown – one of Several sane competitors playing the long game against the National Rifle Association’s stranglehold on violence in America – will make politicians put their positions on firearm restrictions, however convoluted, on the record. As the head of the organization, which has $50m in Bloomberg backing to the NRA’s untold millions, pronounced: “Now we’re going toe-to-toe with the gun lobby.”

This has the feel of a good idea, because it is one – one already employed, simply to opposite effect, by the NRA itself. Everytown isn’t offering a counterweight to the NRA’s rating system, it is duplicating it … just without the grades. What information could an anti-gun voter would find in the Everytown questionnaire that the NRA hasn’t ferreted out itself? It will tell you who to vote for as surely as a National Right-to-Life rating will direct a voter concerned about preserving the right to choose.

Jessica Valenti: Women like sex. Stop making ‘health’ excuses for why we use birth control

When 99% of the female population uses contraception, it’s sad that we can’t just come out and say that we use it for sex. And that we like the sex – a lot

Women like to have sex. Some women who like to have sex don’t want to get pregnant, so they use birth control. I understand that these are not particularly revelatory statements, but for some incredibly irritating reason, the punditocracy is still dwelling on the fairly mundane facts that sex happens and contraception is often a part of it.

Conservatives won’t admit their deep-seated fear of non-reproductive sex, so Washington media’s machine is propping it up for them. But if this is our mid-summer debate, well, let’s at least try to find a reason for the stupidity, shall we?

When Sandra Fluke gave her now infamous testimony before the US House of Representatives about insurance coverage for contraception, the bulk of her opening statement focused on a friend who needed to take birth control to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. In the wake of last week’s supreme court decision on Hobby Lobby, Elle magazine ran a piece on “10 Medical Reasons Why a Woman Might Be Prescribed Birth Control”. And then the National Journal published a widely shared article declaring that what “everyone is missing” in the ongoing Hobby Lobby debate is all the women who need to take birth control for medical reasons. “Even if these women never have sex once in their lives, they need to be on birth control,” wrote reporter Lucia Graves.

Zoë Carpenter: If Christian Corporations Have Religious Rights, What About Muslim Prisoners?

If corporations have religious rights that warrant protection under the law, why don’t men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay?

A federal judge has given the US government until Tuesday evening to answer that question, which was posed by lawyers representing two Guantánamo detainees, Emad Hassan and Ahmed Rabbani, who have been held without charge or trial. Authorities at the prison have barred the two men from communal prayers during the holy month of Ramadan because they are on hunger strike. Two courts ruled previously that Hassan and Rabbani are not people, at least “within the scope” of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prevents the government from substantially burdening a person’s freedom to exercise religion.

In last week’s Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the chain of craft stores, along with other closely held corporations, are within the scope of the RFRA. Three days later, lawyers representing the detainees filed new lawsuits calling on a DC circuit court to restore the detainees’ right to communal prayers in light of the High Court’s interpretation.

Jul 09 2014

Martyrs of the Highest Order

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States


Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds.

“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.”

“And unfortunately, based on information we have from intelligence assets on the ground, this plot is already well under way,” he added.

[…SNIP…]

Jul 09 2014

Robert Reich at the Aspen Ideas Festival

THE POLITICS AND ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY: A LECTURE TO THE TOP ONE-TENTH OF 1 PERCENT

Robert Reich

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The irony of talking about inequality with an audience composed almost entirely of the richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans was not lost on me. When I suggested that we return to the 70 percent income-tax rate on top incomes that prevailed before 1981, many looked as if I had punched them in the gut.

But I stressed it’s not a zero-sum game, and they’d do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy – growing because the vast middle class and the poor had the purchasing power to get the economy back on track – than they’re doing with a large share of an economy that’s barely growing at all.

It’s crucial that America’s most powerful and privileged understand what’s happening, and why they must support fundamental reform.

Jul 09 2014

The Breakfast Club 7-9-2014

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

Jul 09 2014

On This Day In History July 9

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.

July 9 is the 190th day of the year (191st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 175 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, the Grateful Dead gave their last concert at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL.

For mishima

Jul 09 2014

Le Tour 2014: Stage 5, Ypres / Arenberg Porte du Hainaut

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

So first day in France and not only more sprinters, but the same guy won for the 3rd time out of 4 stages.  The day started without Andy Scheck who had ligament damage in a crash just outside of London in Stage 3 and had to withdraw.  It soon claimed Chris Froome, one of the favorites in the General Classification.  Thomas Voeckler staged a breakaway to claim the Sprint checkpoint but he was caught up 16 km from the finish.  Shortly after the 30 km mark from the end of the stage Lotto had a crash that involved 3 of their own riders forcing one of them, Greg Henderson to withdraw and severely hurting the team’s chances as he was considered the primary setup man for André Greipel.

About 15 km from the line Peter Sagan had a fall that dropped him all the way to the back of the field.  He staged an amazing comeback though to finish 4th.  Giant-Shimano delivered the victory to Marcel Kittel but in a far less convincing fashion than in the previous stage as Katusha made a strong challenge.

Top Stage finishers in Lille were Marcel Kittel, Alexander Kristoff, and Arnaud Demare with Peter Sagan in a miracle 4th.  All of the top 98 finishers were awarded the same time as Kittel.  In the General Classification Vincenzo Nibali continues to lead with 20 riders 2 seconds behind.  Top points awards for the stage were Thomas Voeckler with 20, Luis Angel Mate Mardones 17, and Peter Sagan with 15.  15 Riders scored points in the Sprint competition.  The overall point leader is Peter Sagan with 158, Marcel Kittel 135, and Brian Coquard 121.  Their nearest competition is 39 points behind.  There were 2 category 4 climbs yesterday  but Cyril Lemoine still leads with 6, Blel Kadri has 5, and Jens Voigt and Nicolas Edet are in a 2 way tie for 3rd with 4 each.  In Team results there were no changes with Sky, Astana (-00:12), and BMC (-00:14) are in front with only NetApp-Endura and Trek within a minute of the leaders.  No changes in the Youth championship either with Peter Sagan, Roman Bardet, and Michal Kwiatkowski still in a 3 way tie for the lead.

Today’s stage is the dreaded cobbles of Belgium which even when dry produce severe vibrations that can force injured riders, especially those with upper body injuries (like Chris Froome, left wrist), to withdraw in the best of times.  They can also produce punctures and other equipment failures that can take riders out of contention, at least temporarily.  When damp they are very slippery and nearly always cause crashes of greater or lesser consequence.  There will be 9 sections of cobbles.  Many riders won’t use this section to win and will merely be seeking to survive without too much damage, but it’s not impossible that we will see as many changes in the standings as we would if this were a Mountain stage.  The stage is 97 miles long and relatively flat with no rated climbs.  The 9 cobble sections start after the halfway mark with only the first coming before the intermediate Sprint line.

Jul 09 2014

Americans Spied On By NSA & FBI Without Cause

The National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau if Investigation was given authorization by a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on five Americans because of their political activity and, umm, their Middle Eastern names:

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

By Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain

he National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans-including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers-under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”-short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.he National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans-including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers-under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”-short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens. [..]

The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.

[..]

Asim Ghafoor says his first-hand experience working on behalf of other Muslim-Americans has led him to believe that “the U.S. government embarked on a very systematic approach” to target his community.

“I saw the government specifically go after Muslim people who were involved in certain activities such as charity work, humanitarian work, political activism,” he says. “Maybe they had some website that had some speeches that nobody ever read or even noticed, maybe they had some bloodcurdling speeches. So the government just treated you like you were blowing up the next tower. They treated you like you were going to be the Manchurian Candidate, you were going to destroy America from within. There were U.S. attorneys, FBI agents, DHS agents, customs agents all over the country that were trying to find the next terror cell in their midst. If you were involved in those activities and maybe you were on a student visa and you didn’t quite fill out the paperwork, you were hosed. There is no question about it, you were worse off than a migrant worker in Dubai. You were just packed up and sent home. Life became very, very unbearable for them.”

Even a U.S. citizen like Faisal Gill, who served his country both in the armed forces and in the White House, found himself spied on by his own government. “I was a very conservative, Reagan-loving Republican,” he says. “If somebody like me could be surveilled, then [there are] other people out there I can only imagine who are under surveillance.

“I went to school here as a fourth grader – learned about the Revolutionary War, learned about individual rights, Thomas Jefferson, all these things,” he continues. “That is ingrained in you – your privacy is important. And to have that basically invaded for no reason whatsoever – for the fact that I didn’t do anything – I think that’s troubling. And I think that certainly goes to show how we need to shape policy differently than it is right now.”

As per Huffington Post‘s Ryan Grim, Glenn Greenwald received the permission of all five named in the article before printing their names.

This is the Democratic administration of Barack Hussein Obama.