Pope Francis attends an audience with healthcare workers, in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported for The New York Timesthat Pope Francis’ softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin.
Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.
The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.
Rep. Tom Petri, the author of a new campaign finance reform bill. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee published a 100-page autopsy (PDF) nobly titled the “Growth and Opportunity Project” that pointed the supposed way forward for the humbled Grand Old Party. Regarding the dark-money-driven, super-PAC-mad politics of today, the document left little doubt about the party’s view: Let the money flow. The RNC called for ending the ban on “soft money” (the 1990s-era equivalent of dark money that fueled the Clinton White House scandals), raising contribution limits, removing the aggregate limit on how much overall money a donor can give in one cycle and further deregulating money in politics at the state and federal levels.
But as the cost of winning an election increases, fundraising swallows up more of a congressman’s time and candidates scramble to acquire their own super PACs, several House Republicans are bucking their own party and demanding real reform.
Good morning! Today, unnecessarily, is Shopping Reminder Day — consider yourself reminded. And while you’re drawing up a list, here are some morning reads…
American Dream? –> WaPo-Miller Center poll finds unprecedented economic insecurity among Americans, 6 in 10 of whom worry about losing their jobs. BUT: Some good news, as the AP reports that the Massachusetts senate approved a bill that would hike the Bay State’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2016 and then index it to inflation.
Accountability –> Four adults who helped cover up the Steubenville rape case charged, including the school district’s superintendent. Tara Culp-Ressler with the story for ThinkProgress.
“Doomsday cache” –> US and British intelligence officials are worried that Edward Snowden has access to a trove of highly classified data that includes the names of field operatives, reports Mark Hosenball for Reuters.
What goes up… –> The cost of the food stamps program is falling, and would be even without recent cuts, reports Stephanie Mencimer for MoJo.
War on Thanksgiving –> Salon’s Josh Eidelson on how some retail workers will miss out on the holiday as Black Friday becomes Black Thursday.
Dealing –> As National Security Advisor Susan Rice visits the country, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is trying to renegotiate a deal that would allow US troops to remain in the country beyond 2014. Rod Nordland reports for The NYT.
Hyped –> Jamelle Bouie writes at The Daily Beast that the “knockout game” is just the latest rage in white panic.
Spunky mayor –> At The Nation, Laura Flanders interviews Gayle McLaughlin, the mayor of Richmond, California, who “has taken on Chevron and big banks on behalf of taxpayers and underwater homeowners.”
There oughta be a law — Lawsuit alleges that a 16-year-old picked up by police on his way home from a party was jailed at NYC’s Riker’s Island prison for three years without a trial before being released without charge, reports Nicole Flatow for ThinkProgress.
Dozens of DC Students took to the streets earlier in November to protest the poor working conditions of Wendy's farmworkers. (DC Fair Food/Beth Geglia)
The tomato pickers of the farms in Florida have raised the torch of accountability for over a decade now, successfully challenging behemoth food conglomerates in a self-determining struggle for their own welfare.
Where there were once rampant human rights abuses, economic exploitation and a culture of fear peddled by infectious ignorance, there is now the legally binding Fair Food Program (FFP), “an initiative consisting of a wage increase supported by… corporate purchasers of Florida tomatoes and a human-rights-based Code of Conduct.” Designed by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers — a vanguard group representing the voices of Florida’s tomato pickers — the FFP establishes ongoing audits by an independent council to ensure that the farms supplying tomatoes to the FFP’s corporate signees are upholding these labor standards.
So far, every fast food corporation that sources its tomatoes from Florida’s farms has signed onto the plan except for Wendy’s. MORE
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry secures his scarf as he walks down the stairs of his aircraft after landing at London's Stansted Airport, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
Although the word “historic” is being used in media reports, it’s too soon to tell whether the interim agreement struck over the weekend among five Western powers, China and Iran will lead to a lasting settlement of the longstanding stalemate over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. But whatever the ultimate results, it is historic in one sense: it marks the first time in three decades that the US — “the great Satan” — and Iran — lynchpin of the “Axis of Evil” — have engaged in serious efforts toward détente.
Here are a series of articles that will give you everything you need to know about the agreement…
In 2010, a group of hackers known as LulzSec gave us a peek into the shadowy world of corporate espionage. The group released 175,000 emails it obtained from a private security firm called HBGary Federal.
The hack revealed, among other things, that Bank of America (BofA) had grown concerned about a promise that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange made in 2009 to release a trove of sensitive documents that Assange claimed could “take down” the bank. BofA went into crisis-control mode, setting up a “war room” to handle the fallout from the expected release (which, as it turned out, never came).
It also approached the Justice Department, which referred the mega-bank to a K-Street lobbying firm, which introduced BofA executives to a group of private security firms called Team Themis.
Peter Ludlow, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote in The New York Times that the group offered, among other services, a “common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it.”
Team Themis (a group that included HBGary and the private intelligence and security firms Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and Endgame Systems) was effectively brought in to find a way to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks and the journalist Glenn Greenwald… because of Greenwald’s support for WikiLeaks.
Team Themis considered falsifying documents and feeding them to Greenwald in order to discredit his reporting. They also pitched the Chamber of Commerce with a plan to infiltrate Chamber Watch, a progressive group that opposes the CoC’s anti-regulatory agenda. They suggested creating “two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second.”
When the story broke, Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce rushed to distance themselves from the plans and HBGary claimed that they had never gotten past the planning stage. But the leaked emails briefly shined a light on the murky, largely unregulated world of corporate spying – an industry that watchdogs say has grown exponentially since the 9/11 attacks.
Last week, the nonpartisan, nonprofit Corporate Policy Center issued a report titled, “Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations,” which detailed a number of revelations of corporate espionage operations against non-profit activist groups. Moyers & Company spoke to the report’s author, Corporate Policy Center Director Gary Ruskin, last week. MORE
The status quo –> The Atlantic’s Matthew O’Brien with one chart that shows how inefficient US health care really is.
Another tale of two states –> U of M political scientist Lawrence Jacobs writes in the NYT about how our ideological divide is playing out in the real world in Wisconsin and Minnesota — two neighboring states that have developed very different priorities.
So much for “dependency” –> Study shows that generous unemployment public benefits don’t make people less eager to find a job. Via: Smithsonian Mag.
Hey, Canada could invade Podunk –> Those big, hulking MRAP armored vehicles that are so popular in Iraq and Iran will be making an appearance at a local sheriff’s office near you, reports Michael Vertanen for the AP. Many will end up in sparsely populated rural communities.
New gold rush –> TNR’s Noreen Malone writes that gobs of tech money are driving working people out of San Francisco, and causing a lot of resentment along the way.
Unions make us competitive –> So says VW, which is taking heat for working with the UAW in Tennessee, a right-to-work-for-less state, according to an editorial in The Memphis Flyer.
Former rep goes into medical pot biz –> Bill Delahunt, a former Democratic rep from MA, is seeking to open three medical marijuana dispensaries, according to John Chesto in the Boston Business Journal.
Louis C.K. joke validated –> Children have a natural “bias towards equality,” reflecting one of the comedian’s famous jokes about kids and toys, writes Paul Bloom in Salon.
US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he speaks to the media about the deal that has been reached between six world powers and Iran that calls on Tehran to limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland, (AP/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
The United States and Iran, in conjunction with the P5+1 world powers, have struck an historic accord that paves the way for a final settlement of the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. On the fourth day of the most recent round of talks, in bargaining that lasted until 3 am, the P5+1 and Iran concluded an interim agreement, as widely expected, to freeze Iran’s nuclear program at roughly its current state. In exchange, the United States and the P5+1 have agreed on a modest but significant relaxation of economic sanctions on Iran. The next step, which the parties expect to take up to six months, is to complete a deal in which an end to sanctions is exchanged for a continued freeze and partial rollback of Iran’s program, in a way — guaranteed by more intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — that provides clear assurances that Iran is not on the path toward nuclear weapons. MORE
Young girls protest in front of the Polish Ministry of Economy in Warsaw, Monday Nov. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
I’m sitting here in a convergence space in downtown Warsaw, about a mile or so from the National Stadium, where for the last two weeks negotiators from around the world have failed to make any significant progress in the latest round of UN Climate Talks.
This is where the real work of solving climate change is happening: in a rundown, old building in Warsaw.
It’s getting into the evening, and most of the activists here have been going full tilt for the last two weeks of talks, but the room is still abuzz with activity.
Next to me, Evelyn Araripe, an activist and journalist here with the Brazilian group Viração, is working on a recap of the day’s events. Across the room, a group of young people with Friends of the Earth are planning their activities for the coming days. Downstairs, people are plotting out different ideas for videos and interviews they want to conduct tomorrow. MORE
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Nobody in Washington talks much about the poor in America these days, even though they are more and more with us in the economic aftermath of the Great Recession. Perhaps that is why The Washington Post welcomed Paul Ryan’s recent declaration that he wants to fight poverty “with kinder, gentler policies to encourage work and upward mobility.”
The Wisconsin Republican confided to a Post reporter that he has been “quietly visiting inner-city neighborhoods” — too quietly to gain any favorable publicity, until now — and consulting with all the usual suspects in the capital’s right-wing think tanks. He wants everyone to understand that he is seeking to figure out the problems faced by poor folks and how he can help.
As a 2016 presidential hopeful, Ryan evidently intends to rebrand himself as a “compassionate conservative” — the same propaganda meme deployed by former President George W. Bush and Karl Rove during the prelude to the 2000 campaign for president — at a moment when the Republican Party badly needs appealing new images and ideas. The Bush gang dropped that gimmick well before they entered the White House, and it was never glimpsed again. But whenever a Republican spouts kinder, gentler, compassionate-conservative babble, the vaunted cynicism of the capital press corps gets washed away in a warm bath of credulity. MORE
A tour group walks past a memorial wreath displayed next to the bronze memorial bust, by Robert Berks, of President John F. Kennedy in the grand foyer of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's death. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The right to vote in a free American election is the most powerful and precious right in the world — and it must not be denied on the grounds of race or color. It is a potent key to achieving other rights of citizenship. For American history — both recent and past — clearly reveals that the power of the ballot has enabled those who achieve it to win other achievements as well, to gain a full voice in the affairs of their state and nation and to see their interests represented in the governmental bodies which affect their future. In a free society, those with the power to govern are necessarily responsive to those with the right to vote.
–John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Special Message to the Congress on Civil Rights, 1963
There has been much honoring of the memory of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy this week, and rightly so. He was dynamic figure who preached a “new generation of leadership” vision that still serves as an antithesis to the listless, austerity-burdened rhetoric of so many of today’s political figures — including some in Kennedy’s own Democratic Party. MORE
Police Gone Wild –> The Miami Herald’s Julie Brown has an eye-opening, must-read report about police harassing and repeatedly arresting the workers at a grocery store in a high-crime, predominantly black area. All of it was caught on tape after the store’s owner installed cameras to catch the cops in action.
LIZ!! –> At TNR, David Dayen says financial reform is going to get a second wind, and Elizabeth Warren will be leading the fight.
No privacy for you! –> FP’s Colum Lynch on US efforts to derail a UN movement to establish a right to online privacy.
Cruelest cuts –> MoJo’s Erika Eichelberger reports that some House Democrats are trying to kill the farm bill in order to spare deep cuts to the food-stamp program. ALSO: Dave Lindorff feels a tectonic shift is underway as Americans coalesce behind the idea of improving “entitlements” rather than slashing them.
Market price –> Joseph Romm reports for ThinkProgress that Shell Oil internally prices carbon emissions at a rate that would bring radical change to the world’s energy consumption patterns were it the law of the land.
A protester holds up a sign during a protest against Wal-Mart on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million workers won a big victory Monday when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the retail giant had broken the law by firing and harassing employees who spoke out — and in some cases went on strike — to protest the company’s poverty pay and abusive labor practices.
The federal agency will prosecute Wal-Mart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June as part of a growing movement of company employees. The ruling is likely to accelerate the burgeoning protest movement among Wal-Mart employees, upset with low pay, stingy benefits, arbitrary work schedules and part-time jobs.
Over the past year, protests against the world’s largest private employer have escalated, led by OUR Walmart, a nationwide network of Wal-Mart workers. Last fall, the group announced that it would hold rallies outside Wal-Mart stores in dozens of cities on the day after Thanksgiving — the busiest shopping day of the year, typically called Black Friday. In response, Wal-Mart executives threatened disciplinary action against workers who participated in rallies and strikes, even though they are perfectly legal. Speaking on national television, Wal-Mart spokesperson David Tovar threatened workers, saying that “there could be consequences” for employees who did not come to work for scheduled shifts on Black Friday. Despite the threats, several hundred Wal-Mart workers joined tens of thousands of supporters at the Black Friday protests around the country. MORE
Last January, before the 113th Congress convened, Bill spoke with Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, about the need to eliminate the silent filibuster in the Senate. Years ago, senators who wished to make a stand on an issue had to literally stand, and talk, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style, bringing their grievances to the floor and making them known to the American public.
But in recent years, senators could filibuster — essentially placing a hold on a nominee or a piece of legislation — without laying out their reasons for doing so. They could even filibuster anonymously. And Republicans were increasingly doing so to hold up not only legislation but even the most apolitical presidential nominees. As a result, the Senate became less and less productive.
Cohen was opposed to this style of filibuster. “We believe that what a democracy means is that the American people are entitled to get discussion, debate and eventually a vote on the critical questions of the day. But we haven’t had that in decades in the US Senate,” he told Bill.
The Senate voted on Thursday to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, a move that will break the Republican blockade of President Obama’s picks to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary. The change is the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation. MORE
A Syracuse University logo is displayed inside the lobby of the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
A few weeks ago, the massive consulting firm Deloitte came to my public policy school – the Maxwell School at Syracuse University – to conduct what it called a “case challenge.” The students who participated were separated into groups and presented with a sample consulting challenge. At the end of the multi-day exercise, one team was declared the winner. After the case challenge concluded, the students were offered an opportunity to apply for a job at the firm – an incredibly early application, given that the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) students applying are in a one-year program that started last July and concludes in June 2014.
Deloitte’s heavy presence and early recruiting at the Maxwell School is ironic. After all, my school began not as a recruitment center for for-profit corporations like Deloitte but as a “school of American citizenship,” as its founder George Holmes Maxwell described it, with a primary goal of training Americans to work in government.