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As different eyewitness accounts of Michael Brown's murder have appeared here and there, there hasn't been much mention of the cumulative effect: There are now at least 5 eyewitnesses, all telling roughly the same story, that Michael Brown was shot down as he stood with arms up.

5 eyewitnesses to murder, and the shooter is free, on administrative leave, without charges.

Below, links and details of the 5 eyewitnesses.

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"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. ...
"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
...
Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings."
From the book They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, by Milton Mayer.
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Edward Snowden put his life on the line to challenge the secret setup of massive, bulk government surveillance.  Put your signature on the line and sign this petition at whitehouse.gov calling for him to be pardoned:

Petition to pardon Edward Snowden

Obama won't pardon him. But the point is to show support for lifting the veil of secrecy on this program.  Please sign, and pass this on to your social networks.  Thanks.

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I wrote last week about the Obama administration's apparent terrible, horrible, no good, very bad support for cutting social security benefits under the guise of a technical fix, namely changing from using the consumer price index (CPI) to "chained CPI" to adjust S.S. benefits for inflation (and the same change would apply to other benefits and to setting tax brackets).

In a letter to the NY Times, Bernie tells more about what's at stake in the battle over chained CPI:

To the Editor,
Re “Misguided Social Security ‘Reform’ ” (editorial, Jan. 13):

I share your concern that President Obama has been too eager to go along with Congressional Republicans to reduce Social Security benefits by lowering cost-of-living adjustments for millions of retirees, widows and orphans. The consequences of shifting to a “chained” Consumer Price Index would be even worse than you described.

The chained C.P.I. would take benefits away from more than three million disabled veterans and their families. A veteran who began receiving V.A. disability benefits at 30 would have benefits reduced by $1,425 at 45 and by $3,231 at 65, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The chained C.P.I. would also result in across-the-board tax increases with a disproportionate effect on working families. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, switching to a chained C.P.I. would increase taxes by $59.6 billion over the next decade. More than three-quarters of the new revenue raised by the year 2021 would come from Americans making less than $200,000 a year.

Those making between $30,000 and $40,000 would be hit the hardest, while those making more than $1 million would see virtually no change.

At a time when corporations are enjoying record profits and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, there are better ways to reduce the deficit than cutting programs for the elderly, veterans and the sick.

BERNARD SANDERS
Burlington, Vt., Jan. 14, 2013

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Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:33 PM PST

Not all in, but feeling some hope

by kenm

This second-term Obama gives me some hope. His inauguration speech focused on the principles he'll be fighting for, the progressive principles we elected him for, not on the importance of post-partisanship and agreeing on something, anything. He brought up climate change again for basically the first time in 4 years, and it appears he intends to act on that front with or without Republican votes. He even spoke against the idea of perpetual war, which implies some critique of the endless "war on terrorism" and all its attendant abuses. He stood firm on principle on the debt limit and turned up the political heat on the Republicans and they folded quickly -- whereas in the first term he would have offered a terrible compromise and his apologists would have said "he doesn't have the votes to lift the debt limit, he made the best deal he can". He's taken a strong stand on gun control and is asking the public to rise up and back him, instead of starting with the position he thinks he has the votes for. He didn't fold when Republicans attacked Hagel, maybe the first time he hasn't retreated under attack. And Hagel and Kerry as his foreign policy/national security team, while not ideal in many ways, at least have both learned the lessons of Vietnam. He and his administration have even started up a grass-roots organization independent of the Democratic party, that seems very much based on the 2008 campaign organization and, like that organization, promises to empower bottom-up organizing. Deciding to close that organization down after getting elected (or more precisely, turn it into a top-down Democratic party mailing list) was a terrible mistake; it may be too late now to rekindle that energy, but worth a try.

Still many many problems, in targeted assassination and unlimited detention with no legal rights and warrantless wiretapping and "total information awareness" -- scooping up and storing all electronic transmissions; in DOJ prosecutions of too many of the wrong little people -- whistleblowers (including about torture), hackers, medical marijuana growers -- and none of the big people -- the big financial criminals, the ones who created the torture regime; in talking too much about deficits and too little about jobs (though not in his inaugural speech); in giving away too much in the fiscal cliff negotations, like keeping the tax rate on dividends at 20% so Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney will keep paying lower taxes than their secretaries, and I expect him shamefully to reduce social security benefitsin the next negotiation. But, hopeful notes too. It's been a long time coming, but it seems he and his administration have learned something.

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In a must-read editorial, the NY Times tells us:

"At the end of last year, just shy of the 11th hour in the fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama made an offer that included a Republican-backed idea to cut spending by lowering the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits. The move shocked Congressional Democrats and dismayed Mr. Obama’s liberal base. The offer, however, was rejected by House Republicans ...
"But that is not the end of the story. As the next round of deficit reduction talks gets under way, the administration seems determined to include the COLA cut in any new package of spending reductions. Rather than using the issue as a bargaining ploy, the administration appears to have embraced it as a worthy end in itself."
A Democrat, not arm-twisted by Republicans into cutting social security as part of brutal negotiations, but putting it out there as a good idea at the outset.  How many ways is this a terrible idea and a betrayal?  Read on ...
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From the NYT article on Romney's newest tax info release:

In an amended return also released Friday, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Romney’s running mate, disclosed that he and his wife had initially failed to report $61,122 in income from 2011. He said the failure was inadvertent. The change raised their total income to $323,416 and increased their taxes by $19,917 to $64,674, or 20 percent of adjusted gross income.

They owed a penalty of $59 for the original underpayment. The Ryans explained that they had overlooked their income from the Prudence Little Living Trust. Mrs. Little, who died in 2010, was Mrs. Ryan’s mother.

Yup. I overlooked that $60K, almost 20% of my income. $60K here, $60K there, how am I supposed to keep track of it? Who can remember every penny? Besides it came from some obscure source I'd never remember ... what was it again? ... oh yeah, your Mom's trust.

Or maybe, just maybe, what I overlooked was the fact that I would be the vice-presidential candidate and wouldn't be able to count on the trust income going unnoticed and unreported.

Sorry, no time for questions, got to run another sub-3-hour marathon.

(As Paul Krugman has always called him: the flim-flam man.)  (Updated below)

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 08:32 AM PDT

Nomination for a new Romney Slogan

by kenm

(In light of recent events.)

Rich assholes almost destroyed the economy.
Time to finish the job!
Vote Romney.

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You've heard that Obama scuttled new regulations limiting ozone (smog) levels, because the Chamber of Commerce and Republicans and so forth were raising a fuss and calling it job-killing. You've heard that this will cause a lot of health problems including deaths among those (the poor and minorities, mostly) who are exposed to high smog levels. You've probably heard that in July the EPA head, Lisa Jackson, stated that the standards proposed by the Bush administration were "not legally defensible", because, as the NYT described it, "it would have been illegal to set the standard outside the range that a board of expert scientists said was necessary to protect human health."

But did you know that Obama appears to be making the standards even worse than the legally indefensible standards proposed by the Bush administration? And double-crossing environmentalists in the bargain? (more after the jump)

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What's your reaction to Obama these days?

5%4 votes
8%6 votes
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| 69 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 09:20 AM PDT

Think I'll go rob a bank ... (updated)

by kenm

Did you see this article in the NYT? It explains why there are virtually no prosecutions of the financial industry despite all the illegal practices that helped lead to the financial collapse:

Federal prosecutors officially adopted new guidelines about charging corporations with crimes — a softer approach that ... helps explain the dearth of criminal cases despite a raft of inquiries into the financial crisis....While “deferred prosecution agreements” were used before the financial crisis, the Justice Department made them an official alternative in 2008 ...

Defending the department’s approach, Alisa Finelli, a spokeswoman, said deferred prosecution agreements require that corporations pay penalties and restitution, correct criminal conduct and “achieve these results without causing the loss of jobs, the loss of pensions and other significant negative consequences to innocent parties who played no role in the criminal conduct, were unaware of it or were unable to prevent it.”


So I'm thinking I should start robbing banks.  As long as I don't get caught, I'll make a bundle. When I finally do get caught, I'll just pay it back with a penalty. I'll come out way ahead. Once they catch me, I'll promise to stop my criminal conduct. If they prosecuted me, it would cause significant negative consequences to my wife and kids, who are totally innocent and depend on me to support them. Since they don't prosecute wall street under those conditions, I know they won't prosecute me either. After all, we're all equal before the law in America, aren't we?

(Updated -- added what's after the break)

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High up on the rec list is "A Non-Hysterical Progressive Analysis of so called Social Security Cuts on the Table". The message: Obama's social security cuts would be only 14 cents a month compared to what people would get under the current system.  What's the big deal?

What's the big deal?  First of all, the immediate effect is considerably bigger: if your monthly benefits start at the current average of $1044/month, the monthly increase in benefits starts out about 42 cents (not 14 cents) less than under the current system -- so monthly benefits are 84 cents less than the current system after 2 months; $5 less after a year.  Not just a one-time cut of 42 (or 14) cents.

But it still sounds small, right?  So how is it that this change is supposed to cut Social Security benefits by $112 billion over the next decade?  

It's called compounding.  After one year, it's a reduction from a 3.3% increase in benefits under the current system to 2.8% -- about a 1/2% cut in benefits.  After 10 years, it's a reduction from a 39.2% increase to a 32.7% increase-- a 4.7% cut in benefits.  After 30 years, it's a reduction from a 170% increase to a 133% increase -- a 13.5% cut in benefits, from $2818/month to $2437. (Details below.)

That's right.  Our Democratic leader is proposing to gradually cut social security benefits compared to what's currently owed, so they'd be cut by almost 5% in ten years and by 13.5% in 30 years.  If a Republican were proposing that, would Daily Kos readers be reccing up a mathematically illiterate defense of it?

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Why did some Daily Kos readers rec up that other diary?

2%9 votes
63%248 votes
2%11 votes
30%120 votes

| 390 votes | Vote | Results

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Update: Matt Bai has claimed in the NYT that Daily Kos rhetoric is as violent and reckless as the Republicans' (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/us/politics/09bai.html).  Daily Kos people, we need to mount a response! Do we defend ourselves, or not? The purpose of this diary is to get a strong message to his editors that there is a big problem. It is not to get a letter published -- they never publish criticism of their reporting. We need a lot of letter-writers. PLEASE: rec this up, and write letters.
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The addresses to send letters are:
nytnews@nytimes.com
executive-editor@nytimes.com
public@nytimes.com
These are the news desk, the Executive Editor, and the Public Editor or ombudsman, respectively.  You can also send something to the letters-to-the-editor page, letters@nytimes.com;  however, I believe that is a waste of time, as they never print letters that are critical of their reporting.

I put the letter that I wrote after the jump.  I encourage you to try to put something together in your own words, but feel free to use this as something to work off of. See also Warren S.'s comment below for a great short version.

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