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Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive writes House Republicans say no free lunch for poor kids:

[T]he poor and the hungry shouldn’t have to suffer because of Wall Street’s excesses and George Bush’s wars.

If Republicans wanted to make reasonable cuts out of the Farm Bill, they should have gone after corporate welfare to the giant food companies.

But no, they’d rather take a poor kid’s meal away.

Greg Grandin at The New York Times writes Slaughter Was Part of Reagan’s Hard Line:
Once in office, Reagan, continued to supply munitions and training to the Guatemalan army, despite a ban on military aid imposed by the Carter administration (existing contracts were exempt from the ban). And economic aid continued to flow, increasing to $104 million in 1986, from $11 million in 1980, nearly all of it going to the rural western highlands, where the Mayan victims of the genocide lived.

This aid helped the Guatemalan military implement a key part of its counterinsurgency campaign: following the massacres, soldiers herded survivors into “model villages,” detention camps really, where they used food and other material supplied by the U.S. Agency for International Development to establish control.

Ellen Bravo at In These Times writes The Right to Call In Sick:
In each location, the movement for paid sick days is backed by a broad coalition that includes dozens of partners from labor (including unions like UFCW and AFSCME, and Working America and the Working Families Party) together with small-business owners and groups that advocate for women, children, seniors, public health, racial justice and LGBT rights (Portland’s coalition is a member of the Family Values @ Work Consortium, a network of 21 state coalitions working for policies like paid sick days, of which I serve as executive director). But what’s most notable is how these groups have engaged new activists like Lund, who hadn’t been politically active before, but who share the common experience of fearing for their jobs if they or their child gets sick.
Below the fold are more pundits to read.

Julian Sanchez at Mother Jones asks Is the Government Spying on Reporters More Often Than We Think?:

It wouldn't be surprising if there were more cases like this we've never heard about. Here's why: The Justice Department's rules only say the media must be informed about "subpoenas" for "telephone toll records." The FBI's operations guidelines interprets those rules quite literally, making clear the requirement "concerns only grand jury subpoenas." That is, these rules don't apply to National Security Letters, which are secret demands for information used by the FBI that don't require judicial approval. The narrow FBI interpretation also doesn't cover administrative subpoenas, which are issued by federal agencies without prior judicial review. Last year, the FBI issued NSLs for the communications and financial records of more than 6,000 Americans—and the number has been far higher in previous years. The procedures that do apply to those tools have been redacted from publicly available versions of the FBI guidelines.
Jessica Valenti at The Nation informs us In 2016, I’m casting my vote for a woman. Not because she’s guaranteed to be the most feminist candidate, but because I’m fed up.:
Voting for a woman with the sole purpose of breaking the most important political glass ceiling in the country—possibly the world—does give me pause. The belief that a female politician is inherently more woman-friendly is the same misguided notion that allowed even Sarah Palin—who, as mayor of Wasilla, made women pay for their own rape kits and, as governor of Alaska, cut funding for a shelter for teen moms—to call herself a feminist. And the insistence on putting gender above all other identities often means that white women take the lead. I’ll never forget being told by a representative of a mainstream women’s organization that they were looking for a panelist for an election-related event who “wouldn’t trump race over gender.” I still believe that my 2008 vote was the right one, and that expecting women to vote for a female politician simply because they share the same gender is cynical and shortsighted.

But I’m also absolutely exhausted. Why?

Paul Pillar, former CIA analyst, writes at Consortium News about The Great Benghazi Distraction:
As the pseudo-scandal continues to be pushed, other costs come to mind. An obvious one is the big distraction this entails from useful work Congress could otherwise be doing. Of course, we are no strangers to similarly ineffective use of congressional time and attention. Probably the Benghazi kick has been no more of a distraction than the House of Representatives voting for the 33rd time (or maybe it’s more — it’s so many there doesn’t seem to be an accurate count) to repeal Obamacare.

One also needs to consider, however, the drain on the time and attention of officials in the Executive Branch. Having five different House committees holding hearings on the same subject is an enormous diversion from the main duties of those who are responsible for diplomatic security.

Jay Janson at Dissident Voice writes  Guatemala’s Ríos Montt Genocide Conviction: Omen for US Presidents and Their Assassins:
US President Ronald Reagan also had the power to stop the massacres being perpetrated by dictator General and President Ríos Montt. Reagan must have been aware of them, known enough about them, and could have stopped those year-and-half-long massacres with far less effort than President Eisenhower had made in ordering the bloody and merciless overthrowing of a popularly elected president, a democratic president, who in making land reform, had gotten in the way of the massive United Fruit Company that owned more than half of Guatemala. In the case of the President of Guatemala and in President Reagan’s case, there was no room for sentiment. It was just business.
Juliette Kayyem at The Miami Herald writes Melting Arctic requires U.S. action:
Right before Kerry left for Sweden, the White House released a much anticipated white paper, “National Strategy for the Arctic Region.” It is 13 pages long; that is, at least, twice the length of the Arctic strategy memo released under George W. Bush. While Obama’s plan lays out basic principles for cooperative stewardship of the region, it has been uniformly criticized for lacking any specific means to assert American interests, protect the environment, and set standards for exploration.

Summer is coming. The ice is melting. And we seem to have no place to go.

Doug Henwood at LBO writes Deficit emergency over:
The Congressional Budget Office’s latest debt and deficit projections for the next ten years are out and there’s no way any honest analyst could read them as anything but the official end to any rational concern about red ink.[...]

So what will the fiscal sadists do? The CBO itself offers a hint of how to maintain deficit hysteria—the deficit will rise from 2020 to 2023, and could get really bad in the late 2020s (though they don’t provide any numbers). Egads! But the rise in the debt/GDP ratio from 2020 to 2023 is all of 2.2 percentage points, to a level still below today’s—and projections 15 or 20 years into the future are a thin support for drastic action today. (This is further proof of the rule that one should always read the numbers before the prose in official reports like these.) But that doesn’t mean fiscal hawks won’t piss and moan. They will. But their emoting will either have to get even more phantasmic—or more nakedly class war-ish.

If only we could get important people to show this level of long-term anxiety about atmospheric CO2.

Aaron Blake at the Washington Post writes GOP’s biggest obstacle on Benghazi/IRS/AP: Americans’ attention spans:
To watch the news coverage this week, you’d think the Obama administration was on its last legs.

The good news for the Obama administration is that relatively few people are watching the news coverage.

John R. MacArthur at Harper's writes In Boston, An Exercise in Intimidation:
As Emilo Viano, of the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University, noted on Quebec radio, the massive, disproportionate show of force in Boston “was practically a military exercise” that “demonstrated more a wish to see what nowadays can be done through cooperation by federal, state and local police with the military.” In short, it was a tactical operation designed more for the symbolic value of its intimidation than to catch the killers.

But who in public life dares to say such things in the midst of a terrorist “crisis,” when everyone seems impressed by the sight of massed men in uniform. Only the marginalized seemed up to the task.

Timothy Noah at The New York Times writes The 1 Percent Are Only Half the Problem:
The decline of labor unions is what connects the skills-based gap to the 1 percent-based gap. Although conservatives often insist that the 1 percent’s richesse doesn’t come out of the pockets of the 99 percent, that assertion ignores the fact that labor’s share of gross domestic product is shrinking while capital’s share is growing. Since 1979, except for a brief period during the tech boom of the late 1990s, labor’s share of corporate income has fallen. Pension funds have blurred somewhat the venerable distinction between capital and labor. But that’s easy to exaggerate, since only about one-sixth of all households own stocks whose value exceeds $7,000. According to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, the G.D.P. shift from labor to capital explains fully one-third of the 1 percent’s run-up in its share of national income. It couldn’t have happened if private-sector unionism had remained strong.
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