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today's news headliens
Glenn Greenwald:
The most vocal media critics of our NSA reporting, and the most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance, have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. As I've written many times, one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents: exactly what the CIA presciently and excitedly predicted in 2008 would happen with Obama's election.

Some Democrats have tried to distinguish 2006 from 2013 by claiming that the former involved illegal spying while the latter does not. But the claim that current NSA spying is legal is dubious in the extreme: the Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted efforts by the ACLU, EFF and others to obtain judicial rulings on their legality and constitutionality by invoking procedural claims of secrecy, immunity and standing. If Democrats are so sure these spying programs are legal, why has the Obama DOJ been so eager to block courts from adjudicating that question?

Monte Frank of Newtown, CT:
We needed our government to protect us from making public the photographs of our 26. The harm to this community and beyond would have been too much. Think about the siblings of the slain children who would see photographs of their brothers and sisters, as they were when the police arrived in the school. Think about the children who were in that school on 12/14 and escaped. The first responders and teachers leaving the school made sure the children closed their eyes to be shielded from that unimaginable scene. Releasing the photographs would undo that in a permanent way.
Hugh Bailey:
For all the attention they get, charter schools educate a small percentage of students. Their outsize influence is attributable to the fact that politically powerful people love them, and their supporters have built an impressive public relations machine. Some children no doubt get great educations at them.

By now, though, their shortcomings are old news. Their demographics do not match those of their host districts, making straightforward comparisons almost meaningless. There are all sorts of defenses offered up, but the numbers on English-language learners, children with special needs and those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches are easy to find.

Beyond that is a more incendiary charge, and one they vigorously protest. It's the idea that charter schools make a practice of "counseling out" students who are harder to educate, and therefore likely to bring down test scores. If they can't make it there, it's back to the neighborhood school. This obviously is not an option available to traditional public schools, which have to take all comers.

More politics and policy below the fold.


For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat. The total number of Facebook user accounts for which data was requested pursuant to the entirety of those 9-10 thousand requests was between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.

With more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, this means that a tiny fraction of one percent of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of U.S. state, local, or federal U.S. government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past six months.

Speaking of Facebook:
in inevitable melding of anti-science wackaloonery, anti-GMO crowd is opposing new flu vaccine because it's GM
Concerned that their side was "losing badly" on immigration reform, a trio of congressional hardliners appeared on Glenn Beck's Blaze TV program on Thursday to ask him to help their cause.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), appearing alongside Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), suggested that there was a visibility issue surrounding the ongoing debate over a reform package.

“A lot of your viewers don’t even know we are in the middle of that fight right now, and we’re losing badly,” Bachmann said. “Why? Because members of Congress don’t even know this fight is going on, so we need your viewers to melt the phone lines and say 'Don’t vote for any immigration bill until the border is secure.'”

Here's a graph that bears on GOP "re-branding." Voters' sense of parties' ideologies has barely changed in 40 years.
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