Skip to main content
How think tanks think
rationalreveiw - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 16:00
"Think tank success requires fealty to certain principles that tether thinking and general policy-
making to the establishment hive, or better yet, the barnyard mentality. For sure, the Washington
think tank world at second blush is a rather bland cultural orthodoxy that while allowing for
seemingly stark shifts in ideology and method, belies a clubby landscape in which the same chief
actors set tone and prioritize issues, blessing those who prove themselves 'of the body,' and
quietly boxing out those who don’t." (04/24/12)
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West: The Rich and the Rest of Us -- a
AlterNet - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 16:00
Poverty is no longer black and brown - it is multicultural and multiracial - and is engulfing
millions of us.
Wall Street-Inflated Student Debt Bubble Hits $1 Trillion; Debtors
Rally for Relief
AlterNet - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 16:00
The collective weight of American student debt is a drag not just on those paying the debt, but on
our entire economy.
Gay literature’s new wrinkle
Salon - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:59
Read this story at http://www.salon.com/2012/04/24/gay_literatures_new_wrinkle/
Romney Holds Conference Call On What He Has To Offer
Youth; Has Nothing To Offer Youth
ThinkProgress - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:55
In its effort to reach out to young voters, Mitt Rommney’s campaign held a conference call with
reporters today to discuss what the presumed GOP nominee thinks of President Obama’s record
on the youth (not much) and what they have to offer young Americans (also not much).
“President Obama gets an ‘F’ for failing our youth,” said surrogate Hank Brown, a 72-year-old
former Republican senator from Colorado who also served as the president of the University of
Colorado. Obama was merely “able to fool” the two-thirds of people under 30 who voted for him
in 2008, Brown added, before promising, “You’re going to see a dramatic turnaround on the
campuses this year, with much stronger support for the Republican ticket.”
So, if Obama was so bad, what would a Romney presidency do instead? The septuagenarian
Brown, joined on the call by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and College Republican National
Committee Chairman Alex Schriver, didn’t really have much to offer.
First, Romney’s surrogates downplayed the importance of issues that directly affect young
people. Schock criticized Obama for his “focus on student loan and student debt,” saying the real
issue young people care about is jobs. Brown, meanwhile, attacked Obama for not reforming
entitlement programs, saying young people should worry about their solvency in the future.
And, while Romney and Obama agree that Congress should extend a provision currently before
Congress to extend lower interest rates on some student loans, Schock was not optimistic about
his Republican colleagues’ willingness to pass it. The congressman repeatedly called the issue a
distraction, saying, “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not what we ought to be — we shouldn’t
allow issues like this to bog down the bigger agenda, which is how do create jobs in this
country.” He added: “In the meantime, we need to be focused on the bigger issues.”
Meanwhile, Schriver suggested the reason tuition costs are going up is because “this president
decided to take over the student loan market.” Schriver is referring to a provision passed along
with the Affordable Care Act, that removed Wall Street middlemen from the student loan
process. Tuition costs were rising long before the law passed in 2010, and the reform actually
saves taxpayers money, so Schriver’s claim rings hollow. But Romney himself has suggested
that he would roll back this provision, and insert banks once again in the student loan system,
where the money comes from taxpayers and the middlemen merely add costs with profit.
In all, the call mentioned not a single positive program to help young people directly, offering
only attacks on Obama and generalized prescriptions for the entire economy.
Not mentioned on the call is how young people wold be negatively impacted by other policies
Romney supports, starting with the House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-
WI). The proposal, which Romney has strongly endorsed (and Schock voted for), would allow
student loan interest rates to double, and would cut $200 billion from the Pell Grant program,
kicking off over 1 million students.
Romney also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including its provision that allows kids up
to 26 years old to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans. More than 2.5 million young
adults had already received coverage, as of December, under this part of the law, and would
presumably lose it if Romney has his way.
A new poll from Harvard University shows Obama widening his lead over Romney among
voters 18 to 29, now enjoying a 17 point lead, a gain of six points from the last poll in
John Nichols: The Power of the General Strike
TruthDig - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:53
One week ahead of Occupy Wall Street’s call for “A Day Without the 99%,” The Nation
Institute’s John Nichols talks about the historical importance of the general strike—a powerful
tool for protest that helped make possible the rights that American workers have long enjoyed.
March 3, 2012 How Empires Fall: An Interview With Jonathan Schell
February 10, 2012 The Right’s Boon in Knox v. SEIU
Week 2, Day 7 at the Oracle v. Google Trial ~ pj
GrokLaw - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:53
We have our first report from the courthouse, on day 7 of the Oracle v. Google trial. Mirror_slap
is back, and here's his first quick word, with plenty more to come: Google chose not to cross-
examine Andy Rubin, saying that they'd reserve their questions for when they begin presenting
their case later today.
Eric Schmidt will be called next by Oracle. It sounds like he is the last Oracle witness. So
Google's up at bat next. As Robert Van Nest, Google's lead attorney, yesterday told the judge,
they hadn't had a chance yet to tell their side. Today it begins. And mirror_slap brought a laptop
today, his wife's, so he hopes he'll be a lot faster sending us the news, instead of taking paper and
pen notes and transcribing them when he gets home. So stop back by when you see the title says
Updated. It should be a super-interesting day.
Also, while sparse, in that it's Twitter, there's a stream of tweets just about the trial with several
reporters tweeting that feldegast has put together for us. Mr. Schmidt has taken the stand, and
David Boies will be the lawyer for Oracle asking Schmidt questions.
Categories: Patent Issues
Senate Bill Would Make Unconstitutional Anti-Stalking Law
Even More Unconstitutional
EFF - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:47
Just a few months ago in United States v. Cassidy, a court smacked down a prosecutor's attempt
to use the federal anti-stalking law to punish a man for criticizing a religious leader on Twitter.
The court ruled that the criminal charges brought against the critic ran afoul of his constitutional
right to free speech. Because the law violated the First Amendment as applied to that specific
Twitter user, though, the court chose not to go a step further and decide whether the statute is
unconstitutional as written, which EFF had argued in a "friend of the court" brief.
Now the Senate is thinking about passing legislation to update that problematic law. Instead of
fixing the statute's shortcomings, however, the bill would guarantee that it's blatantly
unconstitutional on its face.
As originally written, the anti-stalking law made it a crime to intentionally put another person in
reasonable fear of death or serious injury. But the law was expanded in 2006 through the
Violence Against Women Act to criminalize causing "substantial emotional distress" to another
person using an "interactive computer service" such as the Internet. The law doesn't even require
that the offending speech be directed at a particular person — a tweet, Facebook status update, or
blog post that distresses someone else could be enough to send the speaker to prison. As
the Cassidy decision makes clear (and as EFF had argued), this language is so vague and
overbroad that it could sweep up a great deal of legitimate online criticism squarely protected by
Rather than clarify the statute to solve those problems, the Violence Against Women
Reauthorization Act of 2011 would significantly extend the law to punish more speech — and it
could go to the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.
First, section 107 of the bill would broaden the anti-stalking law to criminalize conduct that
"attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause" substantial emotional distress to
another person. That's a significant expansion that only amplifies the statute's free speech
To make matters worse, section 1003 would amend federal telecommunications law to punish
anonymous online speech that "harass[es] any specific person," as well as make it illegal to
"repeatedly initiate communication with a telecommunications device, during which
conversation or communication ensues, solely to harass any specific person." As Professor
Eugene Volokh notes, these broad prohibitions would seem to apply even in situations where an
online speaker is talking to the general public, rather than communicating directly with the target
of the speech.
Anti-stalking laws serve an important purpose: to protect people who are put in legitimate fear
for their wellbeing. Unfortunately, the language of the federal anti-stalking law is already
dangerously vague and overbroad, and we're disappointed to see lawmakers think about
compounding those problems with a proposal that amounts to Internet censorship legislation.
(Just a few weeks ago, Arizona's legislature suffered a public backlash for passing a bill with
similar flaws.) The Senate should craft a fix that protects victims while respecting free speech,
not make an unconstitutional law even more unconstitutional.
Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymity
Categories: Civil Liberties/Privacy
Van Jones: Obama let the tea party ‘set him up’ by being ‘so
Daily Caller - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:44
'There’s a lot of economic pain out there, and progressives don’t have organizations and
campaigns that speak to that economic pain'
Battle over Arizona immigration law reaches Supreme Court
Daily Caller - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:43
Republican mayor: 'we should stand up for what's right'
Bee Media Confirms Acquisition of Adcentricity
MobileMarketingWatch - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:43
The rumblings of the rumor mill were right.
Bee Media Inc., a hugely popular and growing mobile shopping platform, has confirmed
rumored plans that the company was moving toward an acquisition of Adcentricity Inc., a
location-based digital media technology firm.
Based on details revealed in today’s formal press release from Bee Media, the newly formed
Adcentricity announced the availability of two new products that supposedly make it easier for
advertisers to develop hyper-local campaigns.
The two new products include:
ADMobile. A platform for location-based mobile shopping, including mobile interfaces,
shopping tools, location services, mobile payment, content management, analytics and reporting
ADFormat. An automated content generation tool that allows advertisers to execute completely
customizable campaigns of video, copy, images and graphics to fit any digital screen, DOOH,
OOH or mobile that can be uniquely messaged to any specific market or location
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Bee Media acquired the Adcentricity name and
going forward will operate as Adcentricity, with Doug Woolridge, CEO of Bee Media,
remaining as the CEO.
“The combination of local, shopper marketing, mobile, in-store radio and video networks has
created a fractured landscape of thousands of smart, effective companies and media channels
with limited ways to get the attention of, and adoption by, brands,” said Rob Gorrie, former CEO
of Adcentricity. “Together with Bee Media, we can now offer an even more powerful platform
with the ability to target and distribute addressable content across every digital channel with a
location attached to it – including mobile shopping applications, which Bee Media has been
quietly building over the past year.”
Categories: Small Business
Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Firms Struggle, But Hike
Heritage Foundation - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:42
When insurance giant AIG paid lucrative bonuses to top executives after receiving federal
support, President Obama asked, “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are
keeping the company afloat?”
But three years later, numerous green energy companies backed financially by the administration
are paying out large salaries and bonuses to their executives, even as the companies struggle to
stay financially solvent.
Scribe recently reported that Ecotality, a stimulus-backed electric vehicle charging station
manufacturer that has received about $141 million in Energy Department grants, increased
“executive and director” compensation by 150% in 2011.
Meanwhile, the company is struggling financially. “We have a history of losses which may
continue and may negatively impact our ability to achieve our business objectives,” Ecotality
notes in its latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company posted net losses of $22.5 million last year, and “a large percentage of our
revenues depends on the progress of our activities under grants from the DOE,” the SEC filing
notes, meaning taxpayers are contributing mightily to the company’s continued survival, even
while it increases executive compensation.
First Solar, which received nearly $1.5 billion stimulus-backed DOE loan guarantees, recently
announced it would lay off 2,000 workers. But during First Solar’s quick financial decline, the
company paid its CEO $32 million in salary and bonuses over three years. He was fired after
presiding over a nearly 30% decline in the value of the company’s stock.
The stock price for electric vehicle battery manufacturer A123 Systems is languishing at a
meager $0.86, down from a high of $25.77 in 2009. But the company, which received nearly
$250 million in stimulus funds, continues to hike the pay of its top executives.
Like Ecotality, A123 is dependent upon federal support. “The failure to obtain [additional
federal] funds or other incentives,” the company notes in a recent SEC filing, “could materially
and adversely affect our ability to expand our manufacturing capacity and meet planned
In 2011, four of A123’s top employees received an average 20% increase in their base salaries.
Three of those executives saw further increases in their 2012 salaries, to an average of more than
$375,000 apiece. It also awarded 1,210,000 shares of company stock to five of its top executives.
In addition to Ecotality, A123, and First Solar, notorious solar panel manufacturer Solyndra gave
its executives pay raises and bonuses after the company went bankrupt, despite having received a
$535 million federal loan guarantee through the stimulus package.
(h/t Paul Chesser)
En route to Tribeca, 2 Cuban actors go missing
Salon - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:41
NEW YORK (AP) — In a case of life imitating art, two Cuban actors have gone missing en
route to their film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Javier Nunez Florian and Analin de la Rua de la Torre disappeared in Miami during a layover
last week. The film, “Una Noche,” premiered at Tribeca on Thursday.
Where the 20-year-old actors went remains unknown, but they are assumed to have defected. A
third actor, Dariel Arrechada, continued on to New York where he has participated in the
festival. He is scheduled to return to Cuba.
“Una Noche” is about teenagers struggling in poverty who decide to defect to the United States.
Director Lucy Mulloy shot the film in Cuba.
The festival said in a statement that it has not had any contact with the actors.
SpaceX delays visit to International Space Station
rrnd-news - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:40
"A private U.S. company has delayed launching a cargo ship to the International Space Station.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, was scheduled to launch the supply ship next
Monday. But company officials said that the spaceship needs more testing. The delay will
probably be about one week." (04/24/12)
Categories: Civil Liberties/Privacy
A Jones for Osmosis: New Potential for Power In Rivers' Flow to
Renewable Energy News - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:40
When people talk about an "all of the above" approach to energy they're usually referring to the
sources we know – gas, hydro, nuclear, solar and wind. But a steady stream of emerging
alternatives promises to take advantage of natural processes to produce zero-carbon electricity
for untold millions. The latest entrant in this sounds-too-good-to-be-true energy sweepstakes:
pressure-retarded osmosis, a kind of reverse water desalination that kicks off energy instead of
Categories: Renewable Energy
Grassley demands details on snappy WH probe of prostitute
Daily Caller - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:38
Two-day investigation 'seems awfully quick,' says Iowa senator
Violence Against Women Bill Fails to Address Fraud
Heritage Foundation - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:38
The Senate is poised to consider S. 1925 this week, the reauthorization of the Violence Against
Women Act (VAWA). Despite the law’s good intentions, more recent reauthorizations—
including the bill before the Senate—are seriously flawed and veer away from the legislation’s
original goals of protecting vulnerable women.
As Heritage research fellow David Muhlhausen and Independent Women’s Forum visiting
fellow Christina Villegas explain in a recent Heritage Backgrounder, the problems with S. 1925
are significant. In addition to broadening the classes of covered victims to include men and
prisoners and expanding existing, duplicative programs, S. 1925 fails to rectify VAWA’s
inadequate accountability measures—while increasing direct spending by more than $100
As recent investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) have revealed, disturbing instances
of fraud and embezzlement of some Office on Violence Against Women grants have marred the
original law’s intentions. For instance:
On March 27, a mother and daughter were sentenced after a DOJ investigation revealed that the
pair had embezzled almost $160,000 in federal grant funds. The two women had worked at an
American Samoa nonprofit that received more than $1.2 million in federal grant funds from the
Office of Violence Against Women and Legal Services Corporation over a two-year period to
offer legal aid to victims of domestic violence and other abuse.
A March 2012 report following a DOJ investigation of the Virgin Islands Law Enforcement
Planning Commission found that nearly $1 million in federal funds provided by the Office on
Violence Against Women were questionably used.
A separate March 2012 DOJ audit of the Couer d’Alene Native American tribe reported “internal
control weakness” and “unallowable grant expenditures,” including more than $171,000 in
compensation for an unauthorized employee.
As Muhlhausen and Villegas explain, existing VAWA programs should be adequately evaluated
rather than expanded:
Nationally representative, scientifically rigorous impact evaluations should be used to determine
whether these national grant programs actually produce their intended effects. Obviously, there is
little merit in the continuation of programs that fail to ameliorate the social problems they target.
Unfortunately, the bill before the Senate does not address VAWA’s lack of accountability.
Instead, it expands the scope of the law and already existing programs, handing more power over
violence reduction efforts to the federal government.
“Using federal agencies and grant programs to fund the routine operations of domestic violence
programs that state and local governments themselves could provide is a misuse of federal
resources and a distraction from concerns that truly are the province of the federal government,”
Muhlhausen and Villegas explain. “Simply expanding the VAWA framework with extensive
new provisions and programs that have been inadequately assessed is sure to facilitate waste,
fraud, and abuse and will not better protect women or victims of violence generally.”
No one questions the need to support and defend all victims of violence, especially women. Nor
does anyone doubt the sincere goals of the original Violence Against Women Act. But good
intentions alone cannot fix the substantive problems with the VAWA reauthorization and will
not bring the most effective, efficient protection to vulnerable women. Congress should demand
better evaluations of existing VAWA programs, reduce program duplication, and recognize that
state and local governments are better suited to address violent crimes.
U.S. Relents and Grants Pakistani Lawyer a Visa in Time for
International Drone Summit
commondreams-wire - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:38
After months of pressure from human rights activists, the U.S. government has granted Pakistani
lawyer Shahzad Akbar a visa to attend and speak at an International Drone Summit in
Washington DC on April 28, 2012.
As expected, Bowoto v. Chevron petition is denied after
earthrights - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:34
As I noted last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority that
only human beings - not corporations or organizations - could be sued under the Torture Victim
Protection Act (TVPA). Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied our petition for certiorari
in Bowoto v. Chevron Corp., which means an end to that lawsuit.
The decision on the Bowoto petition was expected, because the only issue in the petition was
whether corporations could be sued under the TVPA. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had
ruled that the Bowoto plaintiffs could not sue Chevron under the TVPA because it is a
corporation, and ERI asked the Supreme Court to overturn this decision.
Bowoto arose out of a 1998 incident in which, after environmental protestors occupied an
offshore Chevron oil platform, Chevron called in Nigerian military and police forces to violently
attack and evict the demonstrators, killing two people and injuring many others. Unfortunately,
after a jury found in Chevron's favor in a 2008 trial, this petition to the Supreme Court was the
plaintiffs' last chance for a new trial.
What are the other implications of the Mohamad decision? The case considered only the question
of whether the term "individual" in the TVPA could include corporations and other entities. As
my colleague Jonathan noted in his recent radio interview, the decision is outrageous because it
suggests that the Supreme Court believes that corporations can be individuals under
circumstances that benefit the corporation, but not when it would lead to additional liabilities. In
a previous case, the court had ruled that corporations were "individuals" when it allowed them to
challenge a federal statute, because it would be "absurd" to limit such challenges to human
beings; in Mohamad, the court found nothing "absurd" about limiting responsibility for
egregious human rights violations to human beings.
Nonetheless, because Mohamad only considered the meaning of the word "individual," it should
have little impact on whether corporations can be sued under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS),
which the Supreme Court is considering in the Kiobel case. Instead, the main result
of Mohamad is a somewhat odd one. Right now, foreigners can sue corporations and
organizations for torture under the ATS. The TVPA was enacted in part to give similar rights to
U.S. citizens. But after Mohamad, U.S. citizens can't sue corporations for torture in the same way
that foreigners can.
So the ultimate result in this case is less protection from torture, and fewer remedies available,
for U.S. citizens. It's hard to see how Congress would have intended this interpretation when it
passed the TVPA. Unfortunately, it now falls to a future Congress to correct the error.
Categories: Renewable Energy
Tea partiers need to get behind Mitt
Daily Caller - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 15:34
Conservatives can't risk allowing President Obama to win a second term.
News and Fact Checks
GOP majority stumbles into August recess
Move over, Marco: Cruz a GOP star-in-the-making
Climate change on back burner
Bill to plug leaks doesn't reach W.H.
Dem Senate prospects fade in Mo., Nev.
State settlement boosts monitoring at massive coal ash dump bordering two states
Daily Disclosure: Sierra Club pushes wind industry tax credit
The Rise of "Green-on-Blue" Violence in Afghanistan
Gore Vidal, dead at 86
Why People Cave in to Extremist Ideas That Were Once Unthinkable
Toyota Applies for Touch-Based Infotainment Interface Trademark
Maps: The Secrets Drillers Can Hide About the Fracking in Your Backyard
The FDA Is Spying on Its Own Scientists
Energy Department, USDA Invest in Biofuel Innovations
Maine Unveils Commercial Tidal Energy Project
Hijacked Walmart Facebook Promotion Holds a Lesson in Local Marketing
Twitter Drives New Insights in the Social Sciences
Twitter Apologizes for Banning Reporter, But Free Speech Questions Linger
Social Connections Driving the Future of Microsoft Office, Outlook.com
Outlook.com: Take a Tour of Microsofts' Hotmail Replacement
You Didn't Build That
Times Change, Principles Don't
Social Security nonsense
Trade deficit: Hooray!
Milton Friedman sorely needed today
Civil Liberties and Security
Datacenter Dynamics Converged
Robot Copter Clears Probation, Chases African Pirates
US Senate panel OKs $604 billion “defense” bill
Bush-appointed federal judge: DOMA unconstitutional
Dropbox blames employee account breach for spam attack
Open Source Software
MATE 1.4: The GNOME 2 Desktop Clone Gets a Key Update
FSF Blogs: Show your support for the FSF with our new knife and cybertool
Ask an IT support pro: Why I hate live chat
System Administration of the IBM Watson Supercomputer
FSF Blogs: Compliance Lab in the news
UK tax reform: A road map for the US?
Reengineering the appraisal: A return to market fundamentals
Four years later, some ‘Obamacons’ disenchanted with Obama
Obamacare contraception mandate takes effect
Fast and Furious report: Gunwalking idea came from top Holder deputies in 2009
Patent Office Seeking Comments On How To Implement A 'First To File' Regime Instead Of
'First To Invent'
Valve Removes Right For Class Action Claims From EULA
NYTimes Now Makes More Money From Readers Than From Advertisers... But Mostly
Because Advertisers Are Fleeing
How Apple v. Samsung Was Explained To the Jury
The Latest! Amazon Cloud, Spotify+Android, 7digital, BalconyTV, Warner/Miramax, Snoop
Kidworth Hopes to Turn Enterprising Youngsters into Kidpreneurs
Facebook Stock Continues to Slump
July ’12: Best Search/Marketing Posts
Report Says Google Facing Massive Fine for Privacy Breach
Mountain Lion Offers New Features for Small Business Customers
You are here
Powered by Drupal