Morning Must Reads: February 20

In the news: Ukraine truce fails and body count rises; U.S. government considers enlarging NSA's collection of Americans' phone records; ObamaCare enrollment crash looms; John Kerry finds his calling; Facebook spends $19 billion on a messaging app; what's prettier in print

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • “KIEV, Ukraine — At least 35 people died in the bloodiest day of clashes here yet Thursday morning, as armed protesters shattered a truce agreed last night between Ukraine’s government and opposition by attacking police and reclaiming Kiev’s central square.” [BuzzFeed]
    • “President Barack Obama condemned Wednesday in the ‘strongest terms’ a bloody crackdown on protesters that spiraled out of control into the worst violence the country has seen since its independence from Russia in 1991.”  [TIME]
    • “The two sides in what is developing into an East-West clash over Ukraine hardened their positions on Wednesday, with Russian officials denouncing what they called a coup by right-wing extremists, even as the United States and Europe threatened to impose sanctions on those responsible for the violence that has erupted in the capital, Kiev, and spread to other cities.” [NYT]
  • “The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of Americans’ phone records—an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the surveillance program…” [WSJ]
  • Why Facebook Just Paid $19 Billion for a Messaging App [Wired]
  • “House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp appears determined to take one last stab at making good on his promise to pass an overhaul of the nation’s tax code by the end of the 113th Congress. On Wednesday, the Michigan Republican told GOP members of the committee that he would, next week, release a “comprehensive discussion draft” of a tax code rewrite…” [Roll Call]
  • The ObmaCare Enrollment Crash is Coming [National Journal]
  • John Kerry Finds His Calling [Yahoo!]
  • Senate Battle in Michigan: Whiskey and Sled Rides [Politico]
  • Four Reasons the GOP has a Huge Advantage in the 2014 Elections [TPM]
  • Dems Seek to Tie Walker to Christie [Hill]
  • Why the Tea Party Doesn’t Have a Chance in Texas [Slate]
  • Prettier in Print
  • Christian Pot Dispensary Takes on IRS [TIME]
585 comments
fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh  

How are things over there? Are you still eking out an existence as a fly frozen in a novelty ice cube? 

barneydidit
barneydidit

Uh oh...."Volkswagen’s top labor representative threatened on Wednesday to try to block further investments by the German carmaker in the southern United States if its workers there are not unionized... German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined “co-determination” principle. "

So after Republican Rep. Corker told us that VW would never build another plant in the south IF the first one was unionized, it turns out that the company most likely won't build another plant in the south specifically BECAUSE the first one WASN'T unionized. 

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Stephen Harper uses a ludicrous concept of an "average" Canadian family to explain the benefits of Harper's policies in tax savings.  Worse, they got a 20% increase in salary since 2012 when he started the annual process of talking about an "average" Canadian Family.

2012 Household Income: $100K

2014 Household Income: $120K

Average Household Income: $68K

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Some interesting notes from the Women's Hockey Game

1) I was incorrect in my numbers earlier.  This brings Canada up to 4 golds and one silver - the silver was in '98 in Nagano, the first year that Women's Hockey was an Olympic Event.  Canada has been undefeated in the Olympics since

2) Canadian Defenseman Meaghan Mikkelson had a broken hand but still got dressed and played a full 21:44 for Team Canada

3) Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford are now the most decorated Olympians in Hockey in terms of medal totals surpassing Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak , Finnish Saku Koivu and former teammate Jennifer Botterill.  Neither are expected to have another Olympics in them but it is possible as they're only 35 and 36 respectively.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Have you heard about the hot new trend that is sweeping the Republican Party? No, not “endorsing a celebrity’s confused defense of Jim Crow,” I am talking about “caring about poverty.” Marco Rubio cares. Paul Ryan cares. Rand Paul cares. Even Eric Cantor cares. Now, it can be revealed that Sen. Mike Lee also secretly cares very deeply about the plight of the poor.

“Tackling poverty may seem a counterintuitive agenda for one of the most conservative figures in Congress,” the Guardian says, but we have seen many examples over the last few months of how easily a far-right figure can earn positive press simply by stating that it is bad that some people are very poor and that something should be done about that. (Though to be fair to the press, it is actually pretty unusual to hear any politician admit that many Americans are very poor, and the last prominent politician to campaign on a platform of doing something about it turned out to be a toxic narcissist.)

Lee, best known for being a less telegenic Ted Cruz, declared a “war on poverty” last November. Unlike the prior War on Poverty, which was made up of various policies designed to alleviate poverty (and which was much more successful than its critics have claimed), Lee’s war on poverty is mainly about making the rhetorical case that government causes poverty and that eliminating welfare benefits for the poor will somehow spur “market forces” to solve the problem.

Here are Lee’s policy proposals, as described by the Guardian:

  • “[A] bill, introduced last week, that would restore a work requirement for recipients of food stamps….”
  • “capping means-tested welfare spending at 2007 levels”

    Capping spending on benefits at 2007 levels — that is, capping them where they were just before the devastating economic crisis and subsequent worldwide recession — seems, like so much of the modern GOP “anti-poverty” platform, to be more of a cruel joke than a serious suggestion. The right now rejects the idea that spending on benefits ought to increase when need increases, in favor of believing, because they really want to believe, that need increases because spending increases. Keep in mind too that “means-tested welfare spending” includes a wide array of programs beyond TANF and SNAP — scroll down to Sec. 301 here — and capping spending at 2007 levels would effectively reverse the ACA Medicaid expansion.

    (The Guardian, to its credit and unlike certain American press outlets reporting on GOP poverty crusading, does quote experts explaining how Lee’s ideas will not actually help any poor people.)

    At least Marco Rubio suggested a program that might actually alleviate poverty. (Though in order for it to do so, it would have to spend money. And that is why Marco Rubio is a huge failure at being a modern conservative superstar.) The Pauls and Lees simply argue that their goal of completely dismantling the welfare state is in fact an anti-poverty platform, because the government giving poor people money and vouchers is the only thing standing in the way of the poor lifting themselves from poverty with the assistance of the benevolent market.

    When a Republican announces his war on poverty, impoverished people should understand that they are the ones the war is against.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

With Canada's hockey win today BO lost a beer bet.  What does he cough up?  Falstaff? Stroh's?  Schlitz??

MementoMori
MementoMori

The Campaign Casino: Elections Have Become a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme, and the Press Is Missing the Story

The 2012 campaign cycle was “the greatest windfall” for political operatives in American history, Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf has said—a $6 billion spending frenzy unmatched in U.S. politics. [i]

So who pocketed all that cash? Most of it went for ads on TV, radio and the Internet, of course; media buys are the biggest expense in any election. But Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks broadcast spending, puts the 2012 total for all media at roughly $5 billion, which left another one billion at the disposal of the “campaign industrial complex”—that standing army of consultants, pollsters, mailers, data gurus and field organizers.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

A woman's plea in her native language goes untranslated, three lives are lost

New York Police Department officials say they can't explain why a fearful woman's domestic-abuse report -- written in the woman's native language of Spanish -- was never translated into English for review, and for possible action.

The woman and her two daughters subsequently were stabbed to death. The woman's husband, arrested as he tried to flee to Mexico, now faces charges of first-degree murder.

And a group that has a lawsuit pending against the city on behalf of six other Latina women says the case of Deisy Garcia and her young daughters is far from unique in New York.

The paper trail that ends with the January deaths of Garcia and daughters Daniela, 2, and Yoselin, 1, stretches back to last May.

On May 30, Garcia filed a police report saying she feared her husband would kill her and their two daughters. Garcia spoke Spanish, and it was in Spanish that she filed the report. According to the NYPD, that report was never translated into English for further review.

On January 18, according to authorities, Garcia and her daughters were stabbed to death in their Queens apartment, allegedly by Garcia's ex-husband and the girls' father, Miguel Mejia-Ramos.

Police say officers at the murder scene filed their own report, but the department has no explanation for what happened to Garcia's report from months earlier or to another report from Garcia, again written in Spanish, after a November incident.

"I knew about the police report, and I knew about the police showing up at the house previously on one of the times where Deisy had called the police because she had been the victim of domestic violence," says Roger Asmar, an attorney hired by Garcia's family. "But we did not know that every time Deisy filled out a report -- every time she went to the precinct or the cops came to the house -- no one actually translated the text into English, so, apparently no one looked into it.

notsacredh
notsacredh

My room mates sister's cousin got fired from her job 8 years ago but now makes $30 a month working just 70 hours a week at Wal-Mart.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@barneydidit We call that winger short term thinking. They win a battle and lose a war, seeing as VW isn't the only German car company with plants down South, and their Union reps aren't going to be any more eager to see people they view as Union busters get any more business.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@forgottenlord

They played like Amazons in those last four minutes + overtime. You could see how hard they pushed up ice almost constantly.

Great win for you guys.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@mantisdragon91  

Seems like someone is crossing his fingers. Makes me wonder deep inside that if you can come up with such insane logic if you're not contemplating those thoughts?

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

@mantisdragon91  The GOP War on Poverty is actually war on people for not being millionaires like the senators starting the war.  Maybe it is time to name the depression officially as the "GOP President George W Bush Depression".

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@mantisdragon91  

Am I the only one who thinks he looks more like a hermit who just came out of his bunker in that thumbnail?

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

@mantisdragon91  Perkins, you can't seem to open your mouth without insulting some group.  Why don't you go out to your country club and just associate with other AHs like yourself?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@DonQuixotic  A neocon would point out that since you are in America we speak English and they all shoulda learned it.

And it's all deBlasio's fault.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@DonQuixotic How I Didn't Meet Your Mother?

Irony
Irony

@DonQuixotic  

... It would have been a better show?

Love the concept, BTW. Very Garfield minus Garfield.

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@sacredh  Is she employed at two? I didn't think full-time was a thing Wal-Mart allowed.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@sacredh  

flagged as delicious spam.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@TerryClifton02 @barneydiditYou seem to forget that it wasn't the unions that tampered in the vote, and lied about the outcome but GOP politicians like Bob Corker. When you attempt to stack the deck to get your desired result, why would you be surprised when you get push back from the people who feel cheated?

collioure
collioure

@TerryClifton02 @barneydidit 

Yup, so far this seems to be much more about a union trying to throw its weight around than it is about working conditions and benefits.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@TyPollard @MementoMoriAnd speaking of press asleep at the wheel


REPORT: Network News Ignoring Toxic Coal Ash Spill In North Carolina A massive spill of toxic coal ash in a North Carolina river on February 2 has been entirely ignored by ABC, CBS and NBC. The spill has led to a federal investigation and allegations that the state's Governor -- who worked for the corporation behind the spill and has received substantial campaign donations from it -- has been too lenient on the company, which was discovered to have spilled coal ash into the river again on February 18

notsacredh
notsacredh

@ZacPetit, Chinese prison labor camp Wal-Mart. They make our toys.

collioure
collioure

@TerryClifton02  

I'm not anti-union.  

However, these sweetheart deals between public unions and the politicians are a real threat to government finances in a number of states.  Government employees do not need unions.

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

@collioure @TerryClifton02@barneydidit 

Union membership are at all time lows, and they are desperate to penetrate car manufacturer's outside the Big 3. Also states and localities are rising up against the public unions as well, because they simply can't afford them anymore. California has a 500 billion dollar shortfall in union retirement payouts. One retired sheriff from Ventura County is collecting a whopping $276,000 per year in retirement benefits, and yet, he is suing for another $75,000.00 per year, because he feels like he deserves it. In California alone, over 20,000 California retirees are collecting over $100,000 per year in retirement pay.


The unions simply wants the employees to pony up their hard earned money to fund the unions future endeavors such as buying off local and state officials with campaign money. This is how it's worked since the beginning. However, the states and localities can no longer afford to keep up the madness, and the citizens are now wise to the scam. If this type of extortion was played out between two private citizens, someone would be going to jail, under the RICO Act..That's why for decades the mob has ran the unions..It's where the money is, and no one has to sleep with the fishes, lol..

MrObvious
MrObvious

@nflfoghorn @MrObvious @mantisdragon91  

I'm to lazy to worry about what happens if we legalize same sex marriage on a Federal level.

I've seen some bad shiat among straight couples so gay people really have to step up to the plate to top that.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

@mantisdragon91 @TyPollard @MementoMori  NPR reported that about 70 miles of the bottom of the Dan River are covered with poisonous coal ash (that "clean coal" seems to be full of heavy metals).  Residents told to avoid the river and not to eat any fish from there.  


Sound like the GE Housatonic River PCB issue in CT years ago.