Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we're not too hungover we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.
This Day in History
Vodafone Reveals Direct Access by Governments to Customer Data-----
In Luxembourg on Friday, Viviane Reding, the European justice commissioner who is in charge of data protection issues, said that “one year after the Snowden revelations, this shows again the scale of collection by governments of data being held by private companies.”
Ms. Reding declined to comment specifically on the Vodafone report. She said, however, there should not be unregulated or direct access to individuals’ data held by companies, but “only when there is a clear suspicion. Not with a hoover, but with tweezers.”
Despite the European commissioner’s strong words, the European Union has little power to intercede in national security matters, as member states have final say over how security agencies access information on people within their borders.
NSA reform bill finds few allies before Senate intelligence committee-----
Lawmakers attacked the USA Freedom Act as insufficiently protective of both privacy and national security as intelligence and law enforcement officials, who now back the bill, conceded that under its provisions they would still have access to a large amount of US phone and other data.
Deputy attorney general James Cole told the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that the bill allows the NSA to collect information "two hops", or degrees removed from a targeted phone account. "It gives us the prospective collection, it gives us a wider range of information that we wouldn't have under normal authorities," he said.
That account bothered three Democratic privacy advocates on the panel – Oregon's Ron Wyden, Colorado's Mark Udall and New Mexico's Martin Heinrich – but most of the consternation shown by the panel came from the opposite direction, indicating that a surveillance bill whose privacy protections have been largely weakened will still face a difficult road in the Senate.
SEC chief is open to curbs on high-speed traders-----
Speaking at a New York conference, SEC Commissioner Mary Jo White couched her suggested changes as “enhancing” the structure of stock markets. But White made it clear that the rules governing financial exchanges are outdated.
Much of the focus was on computer-driven trading, which White said had generally been positive by lowering costs for all investors. But as algorithms now drive stock-market trading, “not all segments of the equity markets have equally shared the benefits from the positive market trends,” she said, “and that disparity may have increased in recent years.”
White’s remarks come amid the controversy raised in the best-selling book “Flash Boys,” by noted financial author Michael Lewis. In the book, Lewis detailed how companies engaged in high-frequency trading fleeced ordinary investors by driving up the price a fraction in a matter of milliseconds.
Hillary Clinton book extracts reveal doubt over Bowe Bergdahl talks-----
“Opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war,” Clinton writes, in passages recounting her time as secretary of state that appear to confirm her rumoured unease about Obama's more recent conclusion of talks.
On Syria, another foreign policy hotspot over which Obama has been criticised by Republicans for failing to intervene, Clinton is blunter still in signalling that she would have done things differently.
“The president's inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels,” she writes, according to CBS. “No one likes to lose a debate … in this case, my position didn't prevail."
New York mayor suggests Brooklyn as site for 2016 Democratic convention-----
In a letter made public on Friday to U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, de Blasio offered Brooklyn's Barclays Center arena as the central venue.
With more than two years to go before the November 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, who was also a U.S. senator from New York, is considered the Democratic front-runner if she decides to enter the race.
But Clinton's potential candidacy has caused some disgruntlement in the more liberal wing of the party, which counts de Blasio as a standard-bearer.
800 dead babies are probably just the beginning-----
For those who survived, the psychological trauma has endured. Philomena and thousands like her were forced to look after their babies for up to four years, bonding with them before they were taken away to be adopted. Many went to families in the United States in return for substantial “donations”; lack of proper vetting meant some were handed over to abusive parents. The mothers were told they were moral degenerates, too sullied to keep their babies. The nuns said they would burn in hell if they spoke to anyone about their children or what had been done with them.
That sense of guilt and shame remained with the girls for life. One woman whose child was born in Tuam told me she felt it was wrong of her to talk to me even now. At first it was hard to persuade Philomena to tell me her story, too. But when my book was published, she received letters from other “fallen women” saying how grateful they were that someone had had the courage to break the Omertà.
The warped code of honour behind the decades of silence had been inculcated by an all-powerful Catholic Church. For much of the late 20th century, the Irish civil authorities were in thrall to the hierarchy; Archbishop John Charles McQuaid threatened pulpit denunciations if the government contradicted his policies. So the state connived in the mother and baby homes, paying the nuns at Tuam and all the other homes a per capita rate for every inmate.
Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin ban on gay marriage-----
The ruling marked the latest in a string of decisions by federal judges who have struck down gay marriage bans in a number of states, although the Wisconsin ruling sparked some confusion over whether such marriages could now legally go ahead.
Clerks in two counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday night, and in response Wisconsin's attorney general filed an emergency motion asking the judge to stay her ruling.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which Wisconsin adopted in 2006, violates gay couples' fundamental right to marry and their equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.
GM’s New Recalls Adds to Company’s Record-Breaking Tally-----
Detroit-based GM has now recalled about 13.9 million cars in the U.S. so far in 2014. Including Canada and Mexico, the total approaches 15.9 million.
“In all cases, customers will receive letters from GM letting them know when they can bring their vehicles into a dealership,” GM said in a statement on its website today.
Three of the four recalls involve failures in air bags, a focus of regulators with GM and other automakers over the past two years. The ignition-switch defect has been linked to 13 deaths in accidents in which air bags didn’t deploy, and safety advocates have petitioned regulators to investigate 2003-10 Chevrolet Impalas for possible defects.
Study casts doubt on Pentagon’s sexual assault estimates-----
"Of the more than 26,000 estimated military assaults last year, just 10 percent were reported,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said at about the same time.
“The Pentagon released a survey estimating that 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year,” the New York Times reported in May 2013.
But this 26,000 figure is an extrapolation, from a survey, and its weakness as a tool to estimate actual sexual assault is highlighted in the new report from a subcommittee of the awkwardly named Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Panel.
Shocking Photos Of Humanitarian Crisis On U.S. Border Emerge-----
The haunting pictures show a system overwhelmed by children and families detained by Customs and Border Protection, reflecting a growing humanitarian crisis. A spokesperson for CBP did not dispute the authenticity of the photos. "CBP has not officially released any photos at this time in order to protect the rights and privacy of unaccompanied minors in our care," a statement from CBP read.
The president acknowledged earlier this week that the situation had reached crisis levels on the border, as children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador flee deepening poverty and violence.