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Feb 27 2015

The Breakfast Club (A Fool Believes He Sees)

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. 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.

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This Day in History

Germany’s Reichstag burns, giving the Nazis under Adolf Hitler a pretext to seize absolute power; A cease-fire ends the Persian Gulf War; Actress Elizabeth Taylor born; Children’s TV host Fred Rogers dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.

Thomas Paine

Breakfast News

F.C.C. Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Classifying Broadband Internet Service as a Utility

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service into American homes.

Tom Wheeler, the commission chairman, said the F.C.C. was using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers” and preserve the Internet’s role as a “core of free expression and democratic principles.”

The new rules, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.

Explaining the reason for the regulation, Mr. Wheeler, a Democrat, said that Internet access was “too important to let broadband providers be the ones making the rules.”

Dutch Offer Preview of Net Neutrality

When Bruno Leenders takes the 50-minute train ride to Amsterdam, he likes to stream blues and funk music through his smartphone. At home, Mr. Leenders, a Dutch technology consultant, watches Steven Seagal action movies on Netflix. Between meetings, he dashes off a few emails.

Mr. Leender’s digital life has not changed all that much in the two years since the Netherlands started demanding that Internet providers treat all traffic equally, the same sort of rules that the United States adopted on Thursday.

His bill has gone up just marginally. He surfs, streams and downloads at the same speed – if not a little faster given the upgrades to Netherlands’ network, already one of the world’s best.

In short, the new law was not the Internet Armageddon that many Dutch telecommunications companies, industry lobbyists and some lawmakers had predicted.

‘Worse Than Wrong’: Wisconsin Advances Bill To Gut Workers Rights

The Wisconsin State Senate passed so-called ‘right-to-work’ legislation late Wednesday night, against a backdrop of protests from those saying the bill represents pay cuts for working people and a direct attack on organized labor.

After nearly eight hours of debate, the bill passed the Senate 17 to 15, with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it. Onlookers in the Senate gallery shouted “Shame! Shame!” as legislators filed out after the vote.

The proposal would make it a crime punishable up to nine months in jail to require private-sector workers who aren’t in a union to pay dues. The bill now goes to the State Assembly, where majority Republicans are expected to approve it next week. Anti-union Gov. Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, has said he would sign it if it reaches his desk.

UN Reveals ‘Credible and Reliable’ Evidence of US Military Torture in Afghanistan

The United Nations revealed Wednesday it has “credible and reliable” evidence that people recently detained at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan have faced torture and abuse.

The UN’s Assistance Mission and High Commissioner for Human Rights exposed the findings in a report based on interviews with 790 “conflict-related detainees” between February 2013 and December 2014.

According to the investigation, two detainees “provided sufficiently credible and reliable accounts of torture in a U.S. facility in Maydan Wardak in September 2013 and a U.S. Special Forces facility at Baghlan in April 2013.”

The report states that the allegations of torture were investigated by “relevant authorities” but provided no information about the outcome of the alleged probes or the nature of the mistreatment.

How NAFTA Could Spoil a Keystone XL Rejection

Environmental campaigners cheered this week when President Barack Obama vetoed a Congressional bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and urged him to stand up for the climate and fully reject TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline project.

Yet if that rejection happens, observers point out that it could put a costly burden on U.S. taxpayers.

That’s because of the corporate-friendly North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Part of issue has to do with the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism in the trade deal. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) outlines how ISDS is problematic and cautions against its inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal now in the finish line. “Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations,” she writes in an op-ed published Wednesday at the Washington Post.

Oil Workers Dig In for Historic Fight Against Industry Giants Over Crucial Safety Rules

Four weeks into the largest nationwide strike by oil plant workers in 36 years, the fight over critical safety standards in a deadly industry has grown even larger, with the movement now including 15 plants and 6,500 workers. [..]

Walkouts and work stoppages began earlier this month after disputes between USW and the oil companies could not be resolved. As of Saturday, workers at plants in Indiana, Ohio, Texas, and Louisiana are striking. That includes a Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas which, at a crude capacity of 600,000 barrels a day, is the largest of its kind in the country. Of the 15 plants involved in the strike, a dozen are oil refineries, which together account for a fifth of national production capacity, the LA Times reports.

Netanyahu Admits Sabotage of Iran Talks His Primary Mission

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Tuesday that the purpose of his upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. is to do “everything I can” to prevent a nuclear deal between global powers and Iran-an admission that critics say reveals he is pushing for military escalation and potentially war. [..]

Numerous doubts have been cast on Netanyahu’s claims about Iran’s nuclear program, including by Israel’s own spy agency Mossad, as leaked documents revealed earlier this week.

While there is no proof that Iran has a program to develop an atom bomb, Israel is the only Middle East nation that is known to possess nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the international non-proliferation treaty.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu has aggressively opposed any deal-or even talks-between Iran and the five members of the United Nations Security Council (U.S., Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France) plus Germany. His address to Washington is slated to take place shortly before Israeli elections. Over the course of the campaign, Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized unverified claims over threats posed by Iran to bolster his own candidacy.

Economists Throw Weight Behind Universal Health Care in Vermont

It is not only possible, but financially and economically advantageous to implement a publicly financed healthcare system in Vermont, according to an open letter signed by more than 100 economists and delivered Thursday to lawmakers at the Vermont State House.

“As economists, we understand that universal, publicly financed health care is not only economically feasible but highly preferable to a fragmented market-based insurance system,” reads the letter, whose signatories include Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Richard Wolff of New School University; and Julie Nelson of the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

It continues: “Health care is not a service that follows standard market rules; it should be provided as a public good. Evidence from around the world demonstrates that publicly financed health care systems result in improved health outcomes, lower costs and greater equity.”

Must Read Blog Posts

Orange Is The New Hack: The Essential Uselessness Of John Boehner Charles P. Pierce, Esquire’s Politics

CIA Evidence from Whistleblower Trial Could Tilt Iran Nuclear Talks Norman Solomon, FDL

After Hearing, Capitol Police Arrest Lawyer for Shouting Question at Clapper About NSA Surveillance Kevin Gosztola, FDL The Dissenter

John McCain Calls For US War In Ukraine, Libya, Syria, And Iraq DSWright, FDL News Desk

How Gaza’s Natural Gas Became the Epicenter of an International Power Struggle Michael Schwartz, naked capitalism

Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines Have Nothing To Do With ‘Justice’ Tim Cushing, Techdirt

Verizon issues furious response to FCC, in Morse code, dated 1934

Joe Brodkin, Ars Techica

Is Russ Feingold Running Again? Sure Sounds Like It Suzie Madrak, Crooks and Liars

Your Moment of Zen