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I’m posting this – with appropriate credit and a hyperlink, as always – and readers can make up their own minds, again as always. I will note that I took the trouble to “unlike” some pages, after reading this.
 

These Facebook pages and their affiliated websites pose as progressive champions, but their content is largely copied, if not plagiarized, from legitimate news and opinion outlets with real reporters and analysts, not rewrite teams. Their goal appears to be making money by attracting millions of readers as unknowing users click on links or share their memes—photos with slogans—because viewer traffic generates advertising revenues via Google ads.
 
Anyone who has a Facebook page and pays attention to politics—and shares with a circle of friends—has seen the vampires’ work. Even professionals in media, information technology and progressive politics often share posts and links to affiliated sites such as Occupy Democrats (5.9 million Facebook likes and 1.1 million monthly U.S. viewers on its website, according to Quantcast), The Other 98% (4.5 million Facebook likes; its related The Other 98 Percent Action Fund has 214,000 monthly U.S. viewers) and USUncut (1.5 million Facebook likes and 2.8 million monthly viewers). Indeed, there are hundreds of other pages and sites like these, such as Addicting Info, with 1.2 million Facebook likes, Liberal America with 754,000 Facebook likes, and a new six-week-old Facebook page, Resistance Report, with 144,000 Facebook likes.
 
Many subscribers and sharers of these Facebook pages don’t know about this content’s oft-pilfered origin nor its parasitic business model. They are unaware that these operations use software like Spike from Newswhip, which is akin to spyware, a big data analyzer that tracks viewership figures of any website to find hot stories. Especially useful is the software’s measure of “velocity,” or how quickly an article is taking off and getting thousands of viewers. Then, within an hour or less, these sites post their version on Facebook — often using the same photo and headline as the original, and linking to their quick rewrite with no credit given to the original article or its author. The rewrites steal the original’s traffic, usurping its popularity and rerouting ad revenue driven from people clicking on the copycats.
(AlterNet)

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trump4I guess that a lot of people aren’t really given to thinking things through. Not when it comes to how/whether they vote, anyway.
 

Over in Illinois, the New York Times looks at a different community, one that’s now stupefied after the arrest and detention of an undocumented immigrant who for a decade has been one of the best and most-liked damn people in the town. And now a bunch of not-racists who backed Trump’s notions of rounding up millions of people by an overwhelming margin—because they were going to get the coal mines back in return, so screw all those millions—are all twitchy because they don’t want this “good man” and “role model” included.
(Daily Kos)

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Climate Change Challenge

by JeffStrate on March 8, 2017 · 0 comments

 

The March edition of Democratic Visions is concerned with climate change.  Dr. Eric Grimsrud, atmospheric chemist and Montana State University Professor Emeritus, shares his perspectives on the consequences of mankind’s slow response to the challenge of global warming and highlights two tools that might help, if it is not already too late,  1) the divestment of funds from the fossil fuel industry and 2) a carbon tax.   Grimsrud  exhibits the vinegary rake that comes with working at a small town newspaper, in this instance, The Zumbrota News Record.   During his high school years, Grimsrud, an atmospheric scientist to be, set type for his publisher editor Father.

Jon Spayde

Humorist Jon Spayde’s Professor of Negativity character and I spend the last moments of this half hour with our own considerations of global warming.   I am Bob to his Ray.

 

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Chain link fence with barbed wire and razor wire.It’s probably inevitable that some in the Minnesota legislature will try to push reopening the Prairie Correctional Facility, every session. As long as there are still right-wingnuts there, anyway, which unfortunately will be for a while yet.
 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled (Feb. 23) his strong support for the federal government’s continued use of private prisons — reversing a late-Obama-era directive to discontinue their use.
 
The news, which inspired a surge in the stocks of major private prison companies, broke about one hour after Minnesota Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, announced plans for a bill that would direct the state to lease or buy Prairie Correctional Facility, a for-profit prison in Appleton, a small community in west-central Minnesota.
 
The timing was a coincidence, but both announcements could be key to the now-uncertain future of Prairie Correctional, Minnesota’s only private prison.
(Star Tribune)

And it so happens that Pr*sident Trump loves for-profit hellholes prisons.
 

But given that America’s detention system for immigrants has been running at full capacity for some time now, where is the president going to put all of these people before deporting them?
 
In new jails, for starters. In the same executive order that called for the construction of a southern border wall, Trump instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build out its sprawling network of immigration detention centers. Starting “immediately,” his order said, ICE should construct new facilities, lease space for immigrants alongside inmates in existing local jails, and sign new contracts—likely with private prison companies. The scale of that expansion became clearer on February 5, when the Los Angeles Times reported on a memo handed down in late January from White House immigration experts to top Homeland Security officials. The document called for raising the number of immigrants ICE incarcerates daily, nationwide, to 80,000 people.
(Mother Jones)

So, we’ll see what goes down from here. It seems unlikely that Prairie Correctional will just be turned over to the feds, or anything like that, in short order. But certainly Trump, and his followers in Minnesota, want to incarcerate a lot more people – anyone who frightens or upsets them, basically, not just immigrants – and they would have to be put somewhere.
 

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The new and UNimproved travel ban that targets Muslims tries to justify the need for national security with the claim that there are 300 investigations into refugees.  The Trump administration ban is horrible, it panders to fear but provides no benefits.
 

Not convictions. Not even prosecutions. “Investigations”. Let me be clear, investigations clear people as much or more than investigations lead to . Investigations into crimes or terrorism look at a lot of people, many who are guilty of nothing as a process of elimination.  And 300 investigations, not prosecutions, not convictions, in the overall number of refugees, from these countries, is a ridiculously small number that in no way justifies this kind of ban. And the existence of investigations should not impress a court, because the existence of investigations proves nothing and should carry no weight in court.
 

Taking a look at just a few of the Islamo-terrorism crimes, in no particular order, that people think about when Muslims are used by bigots to make people fearful, 9/11 was committed by Saudis Saudi Arabia is not on this list of banned countries.  The Pulse Nightclub shooting, in Orlando was committed by an Afghan-American who was born in the US; Afghanistan is not on the list of banned travel.  The San Bernadino shooting in California, the shooter was a Pakistani-American, born here, and his wife, born in Pakistan; Pakistan is not on the banned refugee list.  The Boston Marathon bombing, one of the brothers was born in the USSR, the other in Kyrgistan, although they identified as Chechen-American.  The USSR which became Russia and includes Chechnya, and Kyrgistan are not on the list of banned countries.  All of the shooters, other than 9/11 terrorists, were Americans either born here or living here for some time or born here.  All except the 9/11 terrorists became radicalized HERE, and NONE of those countries in their background in any way ARE ON THE MUSLIM BAN LIST.

 

In a separate piece of news, we learned today that apparently one of those who is being investigated, or at least having his right to travel reviewed, is Khazr Khan, the father of the Muslim soldier who gave his life to protect this country. Kahn and his wife spoke out during Hillary Clinton’s campaign, parents who were subsequently shamefully vilified by Trump and his campaign. There is no evidence of any legitimate reason Khan should be singled out for this ‘review’ or investigation, other than a politicized attack by Trump on this patriotic American citizen.
 

Since some 50,000 refugees entered this country just last year alone, and we have been taking in refugees since long before the Obama administration — so what? What is the REAL significance of this vague assertion (another one without evidence)? The biological father of Steve Jobs came here as a Syrian political refugee back in the mid 1950’s.
 
So who are these suspect refugees? Absent any other information as to how long they have been here, what screening they underwent in order to arrive here and in particular the information we have from Homeland Security that national origin is no predictor of terrorism and that most terrorists are radicalized AFTER arriving here, that assertion by the spectacularly less than honest Trump administration to justify, or attempt to justify, the anti-Muslm ban (and that is still what it is) is worse than meaningless.
 
I predict that this ban will fail for exactly the same reasons as the previous executive order — because it is malicious, bigoted and incompetent, and in no way does what it claims to do. So far the reality is that ZERO refugees from any of the remaining six countries have committed terrorist acts against the United States on US soil. And if actual terrorism is the standard, then we should be banning refugees and immigrants and visa seekers from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Chechnya, among others, and not from the countries Trump has singled out for apparently unfounded persecution. We are not safer in the US because of bans like this, we are under greater fascism and authoritarianism. We are afflicted by official bigotry and hate and intolerance and ignorance. THAT is dangerous. That is UN-American.

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Here is a little more on why recused AG Jeff Sessions getting busted for perjury could be a big deal to investigating Trump’s apparent collusion with the Russians to rig the outcome of the election.

 

From USA Today:

 

“Trump and other White House aides have repeatedly denied any contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The ties between Sessions’ staff and the current White House are many. Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was Sessions’ communications director before joining the Trump campaign in January 2016, and former Sessions chief of staff Rick Dearborn was director of the Trump transition and is now Trump’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.
…Sessions was perhaps Trump’s most loyal supporter in Congress last year, and he chaired Trump’s national security advisory committee.”

Sessions directly benefited from Trump’s questionable election.  He gained personally from this apparent collusion, gaining a position arguably more powerful than being a senator, and one from which he could shield Trump from investigation.  While there is no clear quid-pro-quo, no evidence so far that Sessions was promised the AG slot, or some other political plum, if Trump won, I think we can consider it implied from the outcome.

 

As a Trump National Security advisor, the CHAIR of Trump’s National Security Advisors, Sessions would know damn well about the efforts of the Russians against the US, from hacking Americans (and not ONLY the DNC) but also in the proxy war in Syria as it relates to terrorism and ISIL. Sessions was much more than “called a surrogate a time or two” in his relationship to Trump and the campaign. He was a key insider, which makes his connections to Russia all the more suspect.

 

If the DoJ and the FBI can get leverage on Sessions for his conduct — like perjury — Sessions might throw Trump under the bus to save his own hide. Not just Trump but also Trump staffer Stephen Miller who is a former Jeff Sessions staffer. Or at least Sessions might try to reduce the punishment from his actions in some way if not seek total immunity. Sessions has never struck me as a particularly strong person who would fall on his sword for someone like Trump; rather he is and has always been something of an opportunist, a man who took more money from special interests like Big Oil to act against the interests of his constituents than any other member of Congress.

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Featured Guest Commentary

Senator-John-Martyby Senator John Marty
March 3, 2017

Eight years ago the Legislative Commission on Ending Poverty by 2020 issued its final report. As the name of the commission indicates, the legislature recognized the scope of the problem would require an extended timeline for reaching the goal of ending poverty. Unfortunately, 2020 is rapidly approaching, yet little progress has been made. In some ways Minnesota is moving backwards.

 

As a co-chair of the former Poverty Commission, I call on Minnesotans to push the state forward and urge state leaders to adopt policies to move all Minnesotans out of poverty. I recently introduced the Moving Out of Poverty bill, SF 1318, which might be the single biggest step towards ending poverty that Minnesota has ever taken. Senate File 1318 would:

 

•  Establish a $15/hour minimum wage through a gradual five year phase-in ($13/hour for small businesses).

•  Strengthen the Working Family Tax Credit – more than doubling the tax credits that low income workers receive (making it equal to 75% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit).

•  Fully fund the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) – so all low-income working parents can get quality, reliable childcare – and eliminating the multi-year waiting lists. In addition, by raising reimbursement rates (to cover costs of childcare at the 75th percentile of local providers), parents will have more options and can choose high-quality care, childcare workers will earn a decent wage, and providers can afford additional training in child development.

•  Provide a $300/month increase in the MN Family Investment Program (MFIP) grants. Payments in MFIP have not been increased in more than thirty years.

 

These investments in moving people out of poverty would be funded by closing the loophole in which high income earners are exempt from federal social security taxes on income over $126,000. Minnesota cannot change the federal social security law, but if the federal government is not going to collect this revenue from high income earners it is reasonable for the state to collect that revenue. High income earners would only be paying the same percentage of their income in social security taxes that every other Minnesota worker pays.

 

This Moving Out of Poverty legislation is bold. But it is not unreasonable and its provisions have strong public support.

 

The $15/hour minimum wage, with this gradual phase-in, would simply align Minnesota with laws in several other states and cities. Broad public support for a higher minimum wage is evident-all of the proposed minimum wage increases on the ballot in 2014 and 2016 passed, even in conservative states such as Arkansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

 

Eighty years ago in the New Deal, America made a social contract with its people that included a minimum wage: Workers will receive a minimum wage. It won’t make you rich, but you will have enough to afford necessities for your family-food, housing, clothing, medical care.

 

We are far from fulfilling that social contract. The scope of Minnesota’s poverty problem remains large with one of every three children living in families that struggle to make ends meet. One of every ten households has times where people go hungry because they have no money for food. There are working people who go “home” from their jobs to a homeless shelter at night because they cannot afford housing.

 

The minimum wage increase alone is not sufficient. Even at that level many workers will not be able to pay for basic needs, so the legislation I am proposing would more than double Minnesota’s Working Family Credit. This increase would provide a couple thousand dollars more to a single parent who earns only about $20,000 per year.

 

When parents are unable to work, Minnesotans have recognized the importance of providing financial support to help them survive. We know that children whose families cannot afford housing and food are robbed of their potential – we can measure how it inhibits their physical, mental, and emotional development.

 

Unfortunately, financial assistance payments in Minnesota have not increased since 1986. Inflation over those decades has taken its toll and those families are more stressed than ever. The proposed $300 per month increase would do much to stabilize the lives of these children.

 

Circumstances will always occur that bring people into poverty – if you lose your job, or your car breaks down, or you get hit with large medical bills – you may slip into poverty. When we talk about ending poverty, we cannot prevent people from falling into it, but we can help them move up and out of poverty quickly, so they are not trapped.

 

Ending poverty in Minnesota is an achievable goal if we have the political will to do so. This legislation would be a strong commitment towards fulfilling the goal of moving Minnesota out of poverty and helping all families thrive.

 

Copyright © 2017 Senator John Marty. All rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

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I have always found the Guardian to be reliable, one of the great newspapers world wide for being accurate and careful in what they write.

 

And today the Guardian wrote a piece that calls Jeff Sessions a liar. Still. New. It says that after Sessions met with the Russian Ambassador at the RNC convention, casually, which appears to be true, SESSIONS ALSO MET WITH THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR PRIVATELY AT THE RNC, OTHER THAN HIS CASUAL PUBLIC ENCOUNTER.

 

That makes his explanation of his failure to admit this to the Senate Confirmation senators’ questions under oath. THIS raises the issue of credible perjury by Sessions, if it can be proven — and I would expect it can be proven, if it is being leaked in this way by Justice or others who are whistle blowers.

 

“According to a justice department official speaking anonymously to the Washington Post when it first reported the story, the meeting was casual: Kislyak and other ambassadors approached Sessions after he finished giving a speech. Sessions then spoke with Kislyak alone, the official said, citing a former staffer for the senator. To say the meeting was “set up by the Obama administration” is false.”

Further it clarifies that contrary to claims from the White House or Sessions, this was not a meeting set up by the Obama State Department. What is true is that the US had a long standing pattern of inviting ambassadors from other countries to our political conventions as an educational opportunity, organized through the State Department. No subsequent meetings at the convention could be characterized as this kind of very public attendance by the Russian ambassador.

 

Nowhere do we see this attendance at the Republican Convention by the Russian ambassador or anyone in his embassy doing this with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic convention.

 

Further, it appears that Jeff Sessions attended the GOP Convention on the Trump campaign dime, using campaign donations funding for that trip, not his own $$$ and not any senate funds to do so. This has been reported by a range of sources, including the Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Gate:

 

“The use of political funds instead of legislative funds is an important distinction because the Trump administration maintains that Session was acting only in his role as a then-U.S. senator when he talked to Kislyak.”

This looks like the first sparks of the fire behind the smoke.  Meanwhile Trump adds to the smoke with more lies, more false accusations, and his spokespuppets try to walk back what he tweeted uncontrollably from his gold-plated throne in Florida, aka the twitter sh*tter.  And more sparks fly, more fire and smoke, the downfall of the Trump administration heats up.

 
Fact check: what did Trump’s tweets about Obama’s ‘wiretaps’ mean? (The Guardian)
 

Report: Sessions used political funds for GOP convention, where he met Russian envoy (SFGate)
 

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MN lege: Preemption bill rolls through House

by Dan Burns on March 3, 2017 · 0 comments

stopwaronworkersThe Minnesota Party of Trump behaved as anticipated, yesterday.
 

The debate over higher wages and paid sick time won’t end with Thursday night’s vote by the Minnesota House, workers said. They vowed to keep organizing – all the way to the ballot box.
 
The House voted 76-53 to pass a preemption bill that bars local governments from adopting measures to improve workplaces. It included a provision to retroactively rescind the earned sick and safe time ordinances passed by the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, depriving 150,000 people of paid leave when they are ill or need to care for a loved one.
 
The Republican-controlled Senate still must vote on the bill before it can go to Governor Mark Dayton, who is likely to veto it.
(Workday Minnesota)

This doesn’t really matter in practical terms in the big picture, but I often see the term “hypocrisy” used in the context of issues like this. After all, Republicans are supposedly the party of “less big government,” and letting people decide for themselves, right?
 
My old paperback Merriam Webster Dictionary (not the one I had in college, not that old, but not far from it) defines hypocrisy thusly:
 

A feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; esp : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

“Feigning” implies some degree of conscious realization that your words and actions are not consistent.
 
For me, a good example of hypocrisy would be claiming that you’d rather nibble on “designer dark chocolate” than stuff your face with Hershey bars, because nobody would really rather do that, and we all know it. But often people honestly are just so messed up in their heads, so utterly bereft of any connection to fact and reason in the matter of their socio-political opinions, that they have become simply incapable of apprehending, even a tiny bit, when their actions don’t match their words – indeed, quite the opposite.
 
So, to my mind, when right-wing legislators pull atrocious crap like this it doesn’t really qualify as hypocrisy. And maybe the distinction does matter a little, as it helps to understand what really goes on in right-wing “minds.” You’re not going to shame them into better behavior with charges of being “hypocrites,” because they honestly do not get that they are engaging in these massive disconnects between what they claim to be about, and how they really act. They absolutely are that far gone in their delusional bubbles. It’s called “cognitive rigidity.”
 

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