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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

President Obama, Pardon Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning

When it comes to civil liberties, Obama has made grievous mistakes. To salvage his reputation, he should exonerate the two greatest whistleblowers of our age

by Trevor Timm

As he wraps up his presidency, it’s time for Barack Obama to seriously consider pardoning whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

Last week, Manning marked her six-year anniversary of being behind bars. She’s now served more time than anyone who has leaked information to a reporter in history – and still has almost three decades to go on her sentence.

It should be beyond question at this point that the archive that Manning gave to WikiLeaks – and that was later published in part by the Guardian and New York Times – is one of the richest and most comprehensive databases on world affairs that has ever existed; its contribution to the public record at this point is almost incalculable. To give you an idea: in just the past month, the New York Times has cited Manning’s state department cables in at least five different stories. And that’s almost six years after they first started making headlines.

We know now that, despite being embarrassing for the United States, the leaks caused none of the great harm that US government officials said would come to pass. Even the government admitted during Manning’s trial that no one died because of her revelations, despite the hyperbolic government comments at the time, including that WikiLeaks had “blood on its hands”. (By the way, the US officials knew they were exaggerating in the media at the time.)

Even if you think that she deserves some punishment for breaking the law, six years behind bars (and being tortured during her pretrial confinement) should be more than enough.



A Threat, Not a Theory: It’s simply not true that as wages go up, jobs go down.

It’s simply not true that as wages go up, jobs go down. But trickle-downers need people to believe it.

Few issues have moved more quickly from fringe to consensus than the “Fight for $15.” When colleagues and I suggested at a Democratic political conference in early November of 2012 that we should raise the minimum wage to $15, people in the audience literally laughed. When New York City fast food workers first walked off the job two weeks later demanding a $15 minimum wage (more than twice the federal $7.25 rate, both then and now), the number was widely dismissed as overreaching and symbolic—a mere bargaining tactic on the part of workers who had little if any bargaining power at all. Nobody predicted what would follow. As an early and vocal advocate for $15, even I was surprised by how fast the dominoes would fall.

But as remarkable as this political progress has been, the political rhetoric surrounding the minimum wage remains surprisingly unchanged. Minimum wage opponents continue to deride every proposed increase as a surefire job-killer, while reporters and pundits reliably characterize the passage of every minimum wage ordinance and statute as a dangerous experiment that threatens to harm the very people it’s intended to help. “California makes itself a guinea pig in a massive and risky minimum wage experiment” tweeted the New York Times’s Noam Scheiber. “Raising minimum wage risky,” the Lexington, Kentucky Herald Leader’s headline tersely warned its readers following $15 victories in faraway California and New York. “Raising minimum wage hurts low-skill workers,” the Detroit News bluntly chimed in. “Even left-leaning economists say it’s a gamble,” Vox solemnly cautioned (without actually managing to cite a single left-leaning economist willing to pejoratively editorialize $15 as a “gamble”).

No one captured this conventional economic orthodoxy better than Noah Smith, a very smart economist and writer for Bloomberg. Smith, in an article titled “Finally, an Answer to the Minimum Wage Question” welcomed “the fact that, finally, we’ll have some data on how the $15 minimum wage would affect jobs.” In his article, Smith said he considered it a test because “in theory a higher minimum wage should cause increased unemployment.” Smith’s implication is that we have never run a minimum wage experiment before and that the increase is unprecedented in economic history. But the core assumption of Smith’s piece is a so-called “economic theory”—asserted as if it is a law of nature—that if the minimum wage goes up, employment must come down.

To be fair, Smith and the others above are not the first to predict economic Armageddon if the minimum wage was increased. The story of the minimum wage as a job-killing trade-off is deeply rooted in classical economics. It is the Law of Supply and Demand in action: “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens, you get less of it,” former House Speaker John Boehner explained succinctly.

much more


The Kids Love Sanders Even More Than They Loved Obama

Anyone watching the huge crowds of rapturous young people at Bernie Sanders rallies this year might be forgiven for experiencing a flash of déjà vu. Those crowds look a lot like those drawn by Barack Obama in 2008. But the comparison may actually understate the intensity of the Kiddie Bern in 2016. As Jeff Stein reports at Vox, our best evidence is that Sanders is outdoing Obama's '08 record among young voters by both percentage and total votes:

A new analysis from Tufts University shows that Sanders has now surpassed Barack Obama's 2008 Democratic primary totals among young people in the 25 states where we can draw a comparison — whether you count by raw vote total or percentage of the overall vote share.

According to the Tufts analysis, in 2008 Obama defeated Clinton among under-30 voters by a 60-35 margin. So far Sanders is beating Clinton by a 71-28 margin. Obama racked up 2.2 million youth votes in the 25 states included in the study. Sanders has won an estimated 2.4 million in those states, with California, New Jersey, and a scattering of smaller states still to vote. Based on recent polling in California (the Field Poll has Sanders leading Clinton 75-10 among under-30s), it doesn't look like Sanders's domination in this demographic is going to change before the final bell.

What separates the two Clinton opponents most conspicuously is that Obama won the nomination while Sanders is almost certainly going to lose. So in 2008 the youth enthusiasm of the primaries smoothly rolled over into a relatively high turnout of under-30 voters in the general election, with very big margins, making the Kidz an important component of what came to be know as the Obama Coalition. It's another question altogether whether they'll turn out for Hillary Clinton. As a two-time big-time primary loser among under-30 voters, Clinton has her work cut out for her in matching the appeal of the cool 'n' hip Obama and the eccentric old socialist Sanders. She might want to think about making her college tuition and/or debt initiative a little more generous, and coming out clearly for marijuana legalization.


If Sanders had gotten the AA support that Obama did, we wouldn't even be talking about HRC anymore. She would have conceded in April. And the 'kids' aren't going to be fooled by some last minute pandering.

Friday TOON Roundup 2 - The Rest






Turkey Genocide



Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Narcissus Bombastis Trumpis

Friday Bernie Group Toon Roundup

I guess these will go away soon here, so enjoy while you can.

Praying Mantis Species Named After Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Scientists paid homage to the Supreme Court justice with a species discovered when its females were treated equally.
The Notorious R.B.G. is now the one handing out nicknames.

Scientists at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History announced Wednesday they named a new species of praying mantis, Llomantis ginsburgae, after the 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice.

“We named it for her in honor of her commitment to women’s rights and gender equality,” said Sydney Brannoch, a Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve University who led research into the Llomantis genus, along with Gavin Svenson, in a video posted to YouTube by the Cleveland museum.

The museum says the research is the first formal study to use female genital structures to delimit a new species of praying mantis.

“As a feminist biologist, I often questioned why female specimens weren’t used to diagnose most species,” Brannoch says in the announcement. “This research establishes the validity of using female specimens in the classification of praying mantises. It is my hope that our work not only sets a precedent in taxonomy but also underscores the need for scientists to investigate and equally consider both sexes in other scientific investigations.”


Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Weakening And We Don’t Know Why

New data released by the European Space Agency reveals that Earth’s magnetic poles are weakening much faster than was previously thought. The data was collected by the ESA’s Swarm satellites, a set of three orbital satellites designed to track the strength, direction and variations of the Earth’s geomagnetic field.

This recent set of measurements reveals that our geomagnetic field is weakening by around 5% a year, which is nearly ten times faster than previous estimates. According to the a press release by the ESA, the data shows that the field is weakening faster in some places than others:

It shows clearly that the field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has strengthened about 2% over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest – the South Atlantic Anomaly – has moved steadily westward and weakened further by about 2%.

This new data might foreshadow a coming reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles, an event thought to occur around every 100,00 years, with the last reversal happening during the human Stone Age. While some Doomsday sayers believe that this magnetic reversal could mark the end of life on Earth, the consensus among geoscientists is that the worst effect could be the re-labeling all of Earth’s compasses.


Mr. Fish Toon- American Cheese

Thursday TOON Roundup 2 -The Rest

The Issue




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