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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 6,730

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

'Key to white survival': how Putin has morphed into a far-right savior

“Can we get a round of applause for Russia?” asked Nick Fuentes, on stage last week at a white nationalist event. Amid a roar of applause for the Russian president, just days after he invaded Ukraine, many attendees responded by shouting: “Putin! Putin!”

It would be easy to dismiss the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in Orlando, Florida, as a radical fringe. But speeches by two Republican members of Congress – one in person, the other via video – guaranteed national attention and controversy.

The backlash showed how the war in Ukraine has exposed the American far right’s affinity with Putin. That affinity is complicated by the tortured relationship between Russia and former president Donald Trump, whose rise Moscow supported with a covert operation to undermine US democracy.

Fuentes, a notorious antisemite, created AFPAC to coincide with the more mainstream Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where Trump was the headline speaker last Saturday.

At AFPAC, Fuentes introduced the Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who would this week interrupt the State of the Union address, rising to yell “Build the wall!” as an objection to Joe Biden’s immigration policy. But here she did not interrupt to object to the chanting of the Russian president’s name.

This is truly disgusting and FAR beyond the bounds of free speech.

How a change to America's tax code could fix the housing crisis

A six-word phrase keeps popping up on my Twitter feed: “Land value tax would solve this.”

In response to the inefficient use of land as parking lots. As a policy to help fund a universal basic income. And even (jokingly) as a prescription for the rise of virginity in young men.

The big question land value taxes help answer is: How can a government raise funds without distorting choices and possibly leaving people worse off? If you tax income, it provides a disincentive to work. If you tax property, it provides a disincentive to improve the physical buildings on top of the land. Sometimes the tax is intentionally disincentivizing an activity — think carbon taxes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or so-called “sin taxes” on tobacco. But there are also taxes governments want to levy to pay for valuable services without changing behaviors too much (or at all).

One of the most straightforward solutions a land tax offers is to America’s housing crisis. That crisis is caused, in part, by the failure to appropriately use valuable in-demand land for its best purpose. Millions of people want to live in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, or Seattle, but local tax regimes actually punish people for investing in their property. When people improve their property — either by adding a new room or building an entirely new structure like a multi-story apartment building, they’ll pay higher property taxes.

But this isn’t just a big-city problem. In small towns, vacant lots contribute to decline — and if there’s no valuable structure on a property, its delinquent landlords likely only pay a nominal property tax. This both lowers tax revenue and hurts neighborhood quality for everyone else.

Here’s where a land value tax can come into play.


How war became a crime

The Treaty of Versailles, formally ending World War I and establishing a new postwar order, began with a charter for a new organization. Called the Covenant of the League of Nations, the new body was meant to resolve international disputes peaceably — and, crucially, it committed members to “respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League.”

That promise, Article X of the Covenant, was the work of then-US President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson chaired the committee at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference that drafted the covenant, and historian John Milton Cooper, in his book Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations, describes Article X as “Wilson’s singular contribution to the Draft Covenant.”

Wilson’s Article would help doom the League. Opponents of US entry into the League, like Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA), argued that the provision obligated the United States to jump to the defense of any country around the world, entangling it in conflicts it had no part in. Lodge called it “the most important article in the whole treaty,” which would send “the best of our youth” on a foolish “errand” to “guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of every nation on earth.”

These skeptics eventually won out. The US would never join the League, a fact that contributed heavily to its eventual failure in the runup to World War II. If remembered at all, the League of Nations is usually remembered as an embarrassing failed experiment. But some of the experiment has succeeded.

I’ve been thinking about Article X amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which obviously and fundamentally threatens the territorial integrity and political independence of that country. No international law stopped Russian troops from crossing the border, but in some ways, this is the exception that proves the rule initially laid down in Article X.

Moscow’s actions are so shocking precisely because they violate what is now accepted as a strong norm against territorial conquest by nations. And that norm started with idealistic ventures in the wake of WWI, including Article X and an even more utopian effort: the Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, often called the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in 1928.


The West fights back against Putin the disruptor

It is often tempting to look upon Vladimir Putin as the millennium bug in a human and deadly form.

The Russian president rose to power on 31 December 1999, as the world held its breath that computers would go into meltdown when the clock struck midnight, unable to process the change from 1999 to 2000.

In the 20 years since, Putin has been trying to engineer a different kind of global system malfunction, the destruction of the liberal international order. The former KGB spymaster wanted to turn back the clock: to revive Russia's tsarist greatness and to restore the might and menace of the Soviet Union prior to its break-up in 1991.

This Russian revanchist has become the most disruptive international leader of the 21st Century, the mastermind behind so much misery from Chechnya to Crimea, from Syria to the cathedral city of Salisbury. He has sought - successfully at times - to redraw the map of Europe.

He has tried - successfully at times - to immobilise the United Nations. He has been determined - successfully at times - to weaken America, and hasten its division and decline.

Very thoughtful and informative article

Mail is going missing at Boston University. One mother went searching for answers.

Late last summer, Ann Lauritsen suspected something fishy might be going on after both she and her mother sent greeting cards to her daughter at Boston University that never arrived. A high school math teacher, she went looking for answers and soon decided she had to take matters into her own hands.

“It didn’t seem like anyone was doing anything to solve the problem,” said Lauritsen, of Long Island, N.Y.

The missing mail had prompted her to log on to a parents’ Facebook group that opened her eyes to a widespread problem. There were dozens of posts from parents complaining that letters they had sent to their children’s dorms had also disappeared.

Lauritsen filed a report with the Postal Service and sent a letter to the school about the issue, but she wasn’t convinced either was serious about investigating. So she decided to do it herself.


Russian State TV Just Blew Up Putin's 'Nazi Ukraine' BS

Confusion reigns on Russia’s state TV, as panicked lawmakers and pundits try to explain to the public why their country invaded Ukraine and now faces crushing Western sanctions. And in the process of zealous propagandists striving to justify the unfathomable, they’ve inadvertently revealed too much.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state TV on Friday that President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in making command decisions with respect to Russia’s military activities in Ukraine. He urged: “It’s time to unite around our president,” and encouraged those who understand the Kremlin’s aims to “patiently explain” them to anyone who doesn’t.

Appearing on the state TV show The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev on Friday, lawmaker Andrei Kartapolov, who heads the Russian parliament’s defense committee, then set out to justify Putin’s military activities in Ukraine.

Starting with the most recent news of a terrifying fire caused by the Russian military’s efforts to take control over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Kartapolov claimed that Russian troops were ordered to seize Ukraine’s nuclear plants to prevent Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky “from building a dirty bomb” with which to attack Russia.

Read on, brothers and sisters. Read on.

This Congressman Wants You to Seize a Russian Oligarch's Yacht. Yes, You.

Storming a sanctioned Russian oligarch’s $100 million mega-yacht and seizing the vessel on behalf of the U.S. government might sound like a job for professionals.

Or maybe not. One GOP congressman has a plan to get regular Americans in on the action.

Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas introduced a bill this week that would theoretically enlist American civilians in the global hunt for Russian assets. The U.S., UK, and European Union have all ratcheted up sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultra-wealthy inner circle in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Joe Biden vowed to track down Russian oligarchs’ “ill-begotten gains.”

Gooden said his plan would allow Americans to seize all manner of physical assets owned by sanctioned oligarchs, from outrageously expensive mega-yachts equipped with pools and elevators, to Bugattis cruising down American or European highways.

“It pertains to any property outside Russia owned by Russian oligarchs on the Treasury’s list of sanctioned individuals,” Gooden told VICE News by email. “Any physical property in the United States, Europe, international waters, or other territory is fair game.”

Become a pirate (oops, privateer) for the U.S. government! Woo hoo!

The Russians leaving Russia for Finland

At Vaalimaa, Finland's border crossing with Russia - 120 miles east of Helsinki - buses and cars stop for passport and customs checks. These aren't Ukrainians, they're Russians, and although the flow isn't heavy, it is constant.

Some people are anxious to get out of Russia because there has been a persistent rumour that President Vladimir Putin's government might soon introduce martial law to deal with demonstrations against the invasion of Ukraine.

With flights to Europe halted, the only way out of the country is by car - crossing this border - or by train.

We spoke to one young Russian woman who was leaving for the West - one of the lucky ones who had an EU visa before the sanctions were announced. She was in despair at what has been happening.

"People in Ukraine are our people - our family," she said. "We shouldn't be killing them." Would she think of going back, I asked? "Not while our dreadful government is there. It is so, so sad."

She said most Russians don't want this war, but they risk going to jail if they try to stand up to Putin.

I have a dear friend who got out of Russia in the first exodus (1990s). I know what she thinks.

Russia oligarchs: The mega-rich men facing global sanctions

The UK, EU, and US governments have responded to Russia's invasion of Ukraine with devastating sanctions against the billionaire businessmen perceived to be in President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Mr Putin has warned his allies for many years they should protect themselves against such measures, particularly as relations soured with the US and EU countries after the annexation of Crimea.

But while some of those closest to him took his advice and remained invested in Russia, others kept their money in palatial properties overseas and football clubs, and their companies remained listed on foreign stock exchanges.

They now find themselves scrambling to hold on to their assets amid the most comprehensive economic penalties imposed in the modern era. Here's what we know about some of them.

Only some, and probably not close enough or powerful enough to damage Vlad.

California cop gets 6 years for shooting mentally ill man

A California police officer was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for fatally shooting an unarmed mentally ill man nine times as the man drove slowly away from police in a wealthy San Francisco suburb.

Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler said evidence showed that 33-year-old Laudemer Arboleda was driving 6 miles per hour (10kph) as Danville police officer Andrew Hall fired a barrage of bullets into him that violated his own training and put fellow officers in danger.

Hall made an “extremely poor choice,” the judge said, and Arboleda did not deserve to die for evading an officer.

“While he may have violated the law it was no law that carried a sentence of death for him,” the judge said.

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