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Longwood Gardens.  February, 2013.  Photo by joanneleon.

Stand By Me (Japan) | Playing For Change

News and Opinion

This could be damaging to the Democrats in a number of different ways -- the obvious ones but I also wonder if it is going to cause a resurgence of the Tea Party.  Once again, Obama is their phoenix.  This was a major league mistake.  This whole thing is so bizarre that I also wonder if the praise and notoriety received by Paul will drive  Congressional Dems toward his position.  That would be good for all of us.  How strong a hold do the Dem leaders have on their caucus?  

How Twitter Helped Drive Rand Paul's Filibuster To The National Stage
“Twitter is woven through the DNA of this filibuster, taking an obscure legislative process into the public space,” GOP strategist Rick Wilson says.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul's nearly 13 hour long filibuster could mark a key turning point not only in the Kentucky Republican's meteoric political career, but for a Republican Party that has struggled to find any footing since November's electoral defeats.
Fueled in large part by support from a Twitter political class that flexed its muscles on policy issues, Republicans rallied around Paul in a way that hasn't been seen on the national stage in years and could provide a glimmer of hope for a listless party.
But throughout the filibuster, and the media and public uproar it caused, Twitter was driving force behind much of the momentum that helped power Paul and the pressure on his colleagues to join in.

Rand Paul Filibusters John Brennan Nomination

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced on the Senate floor Wednesday he intended to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as director of the CIA, citing concerns about President Barack Obama's policy on civil liberties.

"I will speak until I can no longer speak," Paul said.

Paul, an outspoken libertarian, pointed to what he called the abuses of executive power and civil liberties under Obama's administration. In particular, he objected to the contents of a letter he received from Attorney General Eric Holder that asserted the U.S. government had the legal authority to kill a U.S. citizen on American soil.

"Where is the Barack Obama of 2007?" he asked, referring to then-presidential candidate Obama's criticism of Bush-era violations of civil liberties. "If there were an ounce of courage in this body, I would be joined by many other senators," he added. "Are we going to give up our rights to politicians?"

You might consider America's vast wealth inequality, vividly illustrated in this viral video, to be offensive, infuriating, or irrelevant. But it is not terribly mysterious.
The two easiest ways to think about reducing wealth inequality are (a) building up the bottom and (b) cutting down the top. These aren't equally sensible approaches, they're just the two most obvious. From the bottom, if we found ways to make poor and middle class families save more, they could invest that money in assets that got more valuable over time, and this would increase their wealth. From the top, one extreme solution beyond raising taxes would be to find ways to cap income and compensation.

If you find income-capping sort of a goofy idea, perhaps you're not a member of our trans-oceanic readership. 

I wonder if Apple's lawsuits for small user interface features spurred Samsung to innovate more with their smartphone UI.  I remember working with some experimental user interface equipment at a conference (ACM CHI) about fifteen years ago where eye movements were used to navigate, etc.  It would be considered old and clunky technology now but that research might be the basis for this.  
Galaxy S4 to offer eye-tracking Smart Scroll, screenshots suggest
Images obtained by blog site Sammobile provide a look at purported settings for Smart Scroll and Smart Pause features.
Jane Mayer.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama vowed that when it came to counterterrorism in his second term, he would be “even more transparent to the American people and to the world.” That commitment is about to be tested. With Obama’s pick for C.I.A. Director, John Brennan, now all but assured of confirmation, his Administration needs to decide whether to push for the public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s still-classified blockbuster report on C.I.A. wrongdoing during the Bush years. It’s hard to see how the Obama Administration can square its talk of transparency with any further cover-up of this ostensibly mammoth, comprehensive, and devastating report on the brutal interrogation and detention practices during those years.
During his Senate confirmation hearings last month, Brennan acknowledged that the report’s three-hundred-page summary had shattered his earlier belief that the Bush Administration’s resort to what were euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques” had worked. Brennan had claimed publicly in 2007 that the C.I.A.’s treatment of terror suspects had produced valuable intelligence, and perhaps even saved lives. But after reading the report, Brennan acknowledged under oath that he now doubts this.
If the report is so significant that it changed the mind of someone as experienced as Brennan, a longtime intelligence veteran who was chief of staff to the C.I.A. Director when the most brutal interrogation tactics were being employed, and who is now about to lead the agency, shouldn’t the rest of the country, to say nothing of those involved in national-security decisions, know what’s in it? Isn’t learning from past mistakes the point of documenting them?

Petraeus, Rumsfeld Linked to Iraqi Torture Centers

The Guardian and BBC Arabic are reporting that the U.S. helped fund and organize a network of torture centers that fueled Iraq’s sectarian violence.
These centers have been linked to the highest levels of U.S. military command at the time. According to the reporting, now retired Gen. David Petraeus and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld each had a man on the scene and the two agents worked in concert with each other to organize some of the most violent Shia militias to join their grotesque cause.

Former UN Weapons Inspector: Don't Repeat in Iran the 'Tragic and Terrible' Mistakes of Iraq
10 years after Iraq invasion, Hans Blix warns against those pushing false arguments for attacking Iran

As the ten year anniversary of the US-led invasion on Iraq approaches, the former UN weapons inspector from Norway Hans Blix said this week that world powers should heed history's lessons by not repeating the same mistakes with Iran.

"Memories of the failure and tragic mistakes in Iraq are not taken sufficiently seriously," the 82-year-old Blix told a group of reporters in Dubai.

"In the case of Iraq, there was an attempt made by some states to eradicate weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, and today there is talk of going on Iran to eradicate intentions that may not exist," he said. "I hope that will not happen."

Strike Debt Declares Healthcare Emergency: It's a Matter of 'Life or Debt'

Strike Debt, one of the offshoot groups of Occupy Wall Street, has planned a week of action March 16-23 in response to what it calls a "healthcare emergency." A majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States are linked to medical bills with 75 percent of people declaring bankruptcy even though they have health insurance.

"These debts are literally killing patients, students, providers and communities," Strike Debt states at its website. "They deepen the already entrenched inequalities that divide races, classes and genders. Our healthcare system doesn't make us well; it prolongs our illnesses in the name of profit."

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

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