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Blue_Tires's Journal
Blue_Tires's Journal
December 9, 2014

Can Democrats Win In the South by Being More Liberal?

It isn't accurate to call Mary Landrieu "the last Southern Democrat," as one headline after another put it in the days leading up to and following her defeat in Saturday’s runoff election in Louisiana. While it's true that Republicans now control almost all the Senate seats, governorships, and legislatures of the 11 states of the old confederacy (the exceptions are found in Virginia and Florida), there are quite a few Democratic elected officials left in the South—but few of them were elected statewide, and a large proportion of them are black.

For years, Democrats have tried to hold on in the South by appealing to the white voters who have steadily drifted away from them. That strategy has failed. Their future in the South—and they can have one—would start with black and Latino voters and work outward from there. It would be almost the exact opposite of how Democrats have been running statewide in recent years.

No one expected Landrieu to hold on for a third term in the Senate, notwithstanding her decades in office or her family's famous New Orleans name (her father is a former mayor; her brother is mayor now). Louisiana is a deeply Republican state, one that has only grown more Republican in recent years. Or it's more accurate to say that, just as in other states in the region, white Louisianans have grown more Republican. This may be the most telling piece of data about Landrieu's decline, from Politico: "During the open primary election last month, Landrieu won just 18 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls, compared to 33 percent six years ago."

Eighteen percent may be abysmal, but Barack Obama did even worse among Louisiana's whites. While there were no exit polls there in 2012, in 2008, he got only 14 percent of the white vote. Only in Alabama and Mississippi were his losses among whites more complete; he got 10 percent in the former and 11 percent in the latter.

Democratic chances are a function of two variables: the proportion of non-white voters, and the particular kind of white voters, in each state.

So is the South now lost for Democrats? The problem with that question is that it lumps together states that are very different. Some states may indeed be lost, at least in the near future. But others are not. Democratic chances are a function of two variables: the proportion of non-white voters, and the particular kind of white voters, in each state.


He may be right and he may be wrong; but at least someone is trying to look at the issue with a more nuanced, analytical viewpoint than "The south is just a bunch of bass-ackwards Cracker Barrel, rebel flag flying, gun-fondling loons"

December 8, 2014

In Los Angeles, a Nimby Battle Pits Millionaires vs. Billionaires

LOS ANGELES — At the end of a narrow, twisting side street not far from the Hotel Bel-Air rises a knoll that until recently was largely covered with scrub brush and Algerian ivy. Now the hilltop is sheared and graded, girded by caissons sprouting exposed rebar. “They took 50- or 60,000 cubic yards of dirt out of the place,” said Fred Rosen, a neighbor, glowering at the site from behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade on a sunny October afternoon.

Mr. Rosen, who used to run Ticketmaster, has lately devoted himself to the homeowners alliance he helped form shortly after this construction project was approved. When it is finished, a modern compound of glass and steel will rise two stories, encompass several structures and span — wait for it — some 90,000 square feet.

In an article titled “Here Comes L.A.'s Biggest Residence,” The Los Angeles Business Journal announced in June that the house, conceived by Nile Niami, a film producer turned developer, with an estimated sale price “in the $150 million range,” will feature a cantilevered tennis court and five swimming pools. “We’re talking 200 construction trucks a day,” fumed Mr. Rosen. “Then multiply that by all the other giant projects. More than a million cubic yards of this hillside have been taken out. What happens when the next earthquake comes? How nuts is all this?”

By “all this,” he means not just the house with five swimming pools but the ever-expanding number of houses the size of Hyatt resorts rising in the most expensive precincts of Los Angeles. Built for the most part on spec, bestowed with names as assuming as their dimensions, these behemoths are transforming once leafy and placid neighborhoods into dusty enclaves carved by retaining walls and overrun by dirt haulers and cement mixers. “Twenty-thousand-square-foot homes have become teardowns for people who want to build 70-, 80-, and 90,000-square-foot homes,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said. So long, megamansion. Say hello to the gigamansion.


Wow...So now millionaires are getting gentrified...

December 8, 2014

The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes

At a 40th-birthday party in July for Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic, the magazine’s young owner, Chris Hughes, got all choked up as he pledged to the roomful of writers at Foer’s country home in Pennsylvania that the two would be “intellectual partners for decades.”

But the moist-eyed Hughes would, in the coming months, prove himself to be neither an intellectual nor a partner but a dilettante and a fraud.

When he bought the magazine in 2012 at the age of 28, the Facebook co-founder pledged to “double down” on “in-depth, rigorous reporting,” telling NPR that “the demand for long-form, quality journalism is strong in our country.”

But after just two years, Hughes decided that saving long-form journalism was just too hard. He declared that the 100-year-old journal of opinion would become a technology company, and he brought in a new CEO who literally proposed that writers team up with engineers to make “widgets” for TNR’s Web site.

Hughes ousted his intellectual partner Foer without even the courtesy of telling him; Foer found out when his replacement, a man who previously had been fired as editor of the gossip Web site Gawker, began announcing himself as the new editor and offering people jobs. Most of the staff quit in protest, and the Hughes management team suspended publication until February. They needn’t bother resuming at all. The New Republic is dead; Chris Hughes killed it.

This is personal for me. I left the Wall Street Journal to join TNR in the 1990s, taking a 50 percent pay cut and a 95 percent reduction in subscribers for the pleasure of joining what felt like a family. I met Hughes earlier this year, and I, too, was fooled by his talk about the resources he was pumping into the magazine. I told him in an e-mail that he was “doing the Lord’s work in rescuing this proud old brand” and called him a “21st-century Walter Lippmann.”


Cautionary tale for those who still believe Omidyar can shit gold nuggets...
December 8, 2014

Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Provision of Supplies to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Supreme Foodservice GmbH, a privately held Swiss company, and Supreme Foodservice FZE, a privately-held United Arab Emirates (UAE) company, pleaded guilty today to major fraud against the United States and agreed to resolve civil violations of the False Claims Act, in connection with a contract to provide food and water to the U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, the Justice Department announced today. The companies pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA) and paid $288.36 million in the criminal case, a sum that includes the maximum criminal fine allowed.

In addition, Supreme Group B.V. and several of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay an additional $146 million to resolve a related civil lawsuit, as well as two separate civil matters, alleging false billings to the Department of Defense (DoD) for fuel and transporting cargo to American soldiers in Afghanistan. The lawsuit was filed in the EDPA, and the fuel and transportation allegations were investigated by the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Virginia, respectively, along with the Department’s Civil Division.

“The civil resolutions and agreements reflect the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to hold accountable contractors that have engaged in war profiteering,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department will pursue contractors that knowingly seek taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled.”

“These companies chose to commit their fraud in connection with a contract to supply food and water to our nation’s fighting men and women serving in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “That kind of conduct is repugnant, and we will use every available resource to punish such illegal war profiteering.”

The Criminal Fraud

In 2005, Supreme Foodservice AG, now called Supreme Foodservice GmbH, entered into a contract with the Defense Supply Center of Philadelphia (DSCP, now called Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support) to provide food and water for the U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. According to court documents, between July 2005 and April 2009, Supreme Foodservice AG, together with Supreme Foodservice KG, now called Supreme Foodservice FZE, devised and implemented a scheme to overcharge the United States in order to make profits over and above those provided in the $8.8 billion subsistence prime vendor (SPV) contract. The companies fraudulently inflated the price charged for local market ready goods (LMR) and bottled water sold to the United States under the SPV contract. The Supreme companies did this by using a UAE company it controlled, Jamal Ahli Foods Co. LLC (JAFCO), as a middleman to mark up prices for fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally-produced products sold to the U.S. government, and to obscure the inflated price the Supreme companies were charging for bottled water. The fraud resulted in a loss to the government of $48 million.


December 8, 2014

FOIA Improvement Act clears Senate hold, heads to House.

As early as this morning it looked like the bill would have to be revived next year.

Then, late this afternoon, one of the bill's strongest champions Sen. Patrick Leahy took to the Senate floor and asked for Unanimous Consent to pass it. That consent was granted.

Presumably, this means that Sen. Rockefeller withdrew his hold. Right now it is unclear why, but no bill language was changed (though Sen. Leahy submitting a statement for the record which, we hear, may have helped clear up Sen. Rockefeller's concerns, or offered him a compromise). In the meantime, the Senate just passed a bill that includes significant positive changes to the Freedom of Information Act. We outlined these changes in a previous post:

1.It establishes a stronger presumption of openness, prohibiting withholding of information only if "the agency foresees that disclosure would harm an interest" protected by an exemption. This means that the mere plausibility that an exemption could apply isn’t enough — an argument the public interest has been forced into for far too long.

2.[Note: This portion is expected to be removed by manager's amendment, and isn't in the Senate-passed version:] It adds public interest to the b(5) exemption, which is an obtuse provision of FOIA that is abused nearly as much as it’s used. Indeed, some call it the “Withhold It Because You Want To” Exemption. It is borderline indecipherable legalese, but, in theory, it protects internal work that people wouldn't otherwise be entitled to through typical information collection processes — specifically in the context of civil discovery. This bill would inject a limit to using this exemption where the "public interest in disclosure" outweighs an agency’s interest in protecting the information. That standard is significantly higher (it must be a “compelling public interest in disclosure”) for information involving attorney-client privilege, but that’s true across the American legal system.

3.It puts a 25-year time limit on the b(5) exemption (!). This is huge, for all of the reasons described in bullet two above, but let’s add more flavor: According to the National Security Archive, b(5) was “used 81,752 times in 2013,” meaning it was “applied to 12 percent of 2013’s processed requests.” Its usage is at an all-time high, and it is frequently summoned in national security contexts. This means that, for instance, the CIA couldn't block the release of internal reports on the Bay of Pigs invasion simply because the decades-old document is still marked "draft."

The bill isn't law yet, it still has to be passed by the House and signed by President Obama. However, the odds of House passage are looking good as that chamber passed a similar piece of legislation unanimously earlier this year, and have expressed support for moving on this quickly.


The one time in a hundred congress doesn't fuck up, thank the gods....

December 5, 2014

How badly did Rolling Stone fuck up? Just "merely", or "biblically"?

A Note to Our Readers

To Our Readers:

Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university's failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school's troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations.

Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone's editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie's credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie's account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.

In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

Will Dana
Managing Editor


Doesn't anyone know how to do proper journalism anymore??

December 5, 2014

KC h.s. student killed in horrible attack outside KC mosque

Source: WDAF-TV Channel 4 Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A 15-year-old boy died after losing too much blood when his legs were severed in what police believe was an intentional attack outside the Somali Center of Kansas City Thursday evening.

Abdisamad Sheikh Hussein, who goes by the name “Adam” was getting into a car outside the Somali Center, 1340 Admiral Blvd., when he was hit by a man driving an SUV at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Adam is a student at Staley High School, 2800 NE Shoal Creek Pkwy, in the Northland. He was rushed into surgery at Children’s Mercy Hospital, but did not survive. His family says he was brain-dead and they decided to take him off life support.

“It became pretty clear that this was not an accidental crash, there is a considerable amount of evidence that leads us to believe it was intentional,” Sergeant Bill Mahoney with KCPD said.

According to some witnesses, the suspect, who is now in jail awaiting charges is a man known to them. They say he is also from Somalia, and that he has a history of hating Muslims.

Read more: http://fox4kc.com/2014/12/05/possible-hate-crime-kc-h-s-student-killed-in-horrible-attack-outside-kc-mosque/

December 5, 2014

White people on Twitter are confessing to crimes that get black people arrested

Using the #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag, white Twitter users are apparently confessing to crimes they committed and got away with, that they say could more likely have gotten a black American arrested. The confessions range from the petty...



December 5, 2014

The new rules for black people in America

Black people are supposed to fight to be considered human.
Black people are supposed to fight to have our deaths matter.
Black people are supposed to fight to make it so that if we are strangled to death or our 12-year-olds are shot while unarmed in front of millions of viewers, it should be considered a violation of the law.

Black people are supposed to fight legally, using the channels that declare these killings “not that bad” in the first place.
Black people are not supposed to disrupt traffic, or group together in public spaces.
Black people are not supposed to inconvenience Christmas shoppers.
Black people are not supposed to get angry.
Black people are not supposed to break things.
Black people are not supposed to mess up property.
Black people are not supposed to yell.
Black people are not supposed to get emotional.
Black people are not supposed to post too frequently on Facebook or Twitter.
Black people are not supposed to be social justice warriors.
Black people are not supposed to demonstrate during sporting events.
Black people are not supposed to use our hard won positions of power to express our true frustrations or fears.
Black people are not supposed to help each other.
Black people are not supposed to make people feel uncomfortable or threatened or left out.
Black people are not supposed to say “Black people” too much.


December 5, 2014

I left Nigeria 25 years ago—but America just sees me as black

It stings, but doesn’t surprise.

No criminal charges were brought yesterday against the New York City police officer who tussled with a black man and the latter ended up dead.

I wasn’t even mildly surprised.

By now, I know better. I moved to New York 25 years ago and spent most of that time as a reporter covering the city. I have investigated stories on corruption and the misuse of funds that have resulted in some serious consequences for people, including getting fired.

The death of Eric Garner—placed in a chokehold by an officer in a fight over loose cigarettes— was caught on video, though. I saw it and knew nothing would happen. Perhaps I am jaded.

Journalists hold up the mirror to our societies. We don’t have to like what is looking back at us.

New Yorkers have reacted with demonstrations. More than 30 people were arrested yesterday. More protests are expected today. Thousands are tweeting and Facebooking their fury.

America is having another racial moment. I’ve covered these before. And yet I’m still left wondering why, in 2014, black men scare the bejesus out of white police officers.

I suspect most Africans of my generation aren’t conscious of race until we have this awkward dance with her after we’ve settled in the first world.

Growing up in Nigeria, I was an Asaba man first. My ethnic identity was a source of pride. While I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, I wasn’t Yoruba.


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