Pity he is no longer in Tunisia for this moment. Al Jazeera:
A Tunisian court has sentenced ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his daughter and son-in-law in absentia, to serve prison terms and to pay a collective $100m in damages.
The court, on Thursday, found the trio guilty of corruption in property deals. A nephew of Ben Ali was also convicted of drug charges in the proceedings.
Ben Ali has already been convicted in absentia twice in Tunisian courts in recent weeks, for embezzlement and gun and drug smuggling.
He fled to Saudi Arabia in January after a popular uprising against his autocratic, 23-year rule that sparked revolts around the Arab world.
Corruption in Ben Ali's inner circle was one of the drivers of anger at his regime that fueled the protests earlier this year.
The economy just got sent to the ICU, as Krugman and Stiglitz predicted all along. And the debt deal, whatever form it takes, won't do a thing to help the economy, and will actually likely suppress growth even more.
There's going to be a bloodletting the next election. I wouldn't be surprised if we lose the White House and the Senate, while the GOP loses the House. And regardless of what I want to happen in the election, with no one focusing on the economy I'm not sure an all-around bloodletting isn't deserved.
A new government report on the nation?s output showed the economy in much weaker shape than anticipated, casting doubt on the strength of the expected recovery in the final six months of the year.
Gross domestic product expanded at a paltry 1.3% annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday, below the 1.6% growth rate that economists anticipated. See MarketWatch economic calendar.
But it was a drastic downward revisions to first-quarter GDP that stole the show and set economists on edge.
In state after state, ALEC's plans for state's with Republican-controlled legislature and ruthless, fascist-minded GOP governors (obviously Scott Walker stands out but Wisconsin is far from alone). 117 Members of Congress signed a letter asking him to report back to them about what actions his department is taking to prevent Republicans from disenfranchising millions of citizens, as many as 11% of the entire voting public:
Tuesday Katrina vanden Heuvel did an OpEd for the Washington Post outlining a staggering state-by-state crusade by outright fascists to undermine American democracy. Ever notice that when democratic parties win elections they never try to disenfranchise the political right? But that's always the first thing fascists do.
In states across the country, Republican legislatures are pushing through laws that make it more difficult for Americans to vote. The most popular include new laws requiring voters to bring official identification to the polls. Estimates suggest that more than 1 in 10 Americans lack an eligible form of ID, and thus would be turned away at their polling location. Most are minorities and young people, the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic Party.
There are only two explanations for such action: Either Republican governors and state legislators are genuinely trying to protect the public from rampant voter fraud, or they are trying to disenfranchise the Americans most likely to vote against them. The latter would run so egregiously counter to democratic values-- to American values-- that one hopes the former was the motivation.
And yet, a close examination finds that voter fraud, in truth, is essentially nonexistent. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice found the incidence of voter fraud at rates such as 0.0003 percent in Missouri and 0.000009 percent in New York. ?Voter impersonation is an illusion,? said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center. ?It almost never happens, and when it does, it is in numbers far too small to effect the outcome of even a close election.?
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) disagrees. He argues that voter fraud is a serious problem that requires serious action. But as proof, Kobach cites just ?221 incidents of voter fraud? in Kansas since 1997, for an average of just 17 a year. As a Bloomberg editorial points out, ?During that same period, Kansans cast more than 10 million votes in 16 statewide elections. Even if the fraud allegation were legitimate... the rate of fraud would be miniscule.?
The facts, however clear, did not deter the Kansas legislature from passing one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country. Neither have they deterred other states that have passed such laws this year, or dozens of others considering similar action.
That?s because the facts of voter fraud are, in reality, wholly irrelevant to the Republican push for stricter laws. Republicans aren?t concerned with preventing a problem that isn?t occurring. They are concerned with preserving their party?s position in power, and they are willing to disenfranchise millions of people to do so. No other explanation could possibly pass the smell test.
This is seen, as well, in the fact that a number of new restrictive voting policies wouldn?t prevent voter fraud, even if it were occurring. In Ohio, for example, a recently signed law to curb early voting won?t prevent voter impersonation; it will only make it more difficult for citizens to cast their ballot. Or take Florida?s new voter registration law, which is so burdensome that the non-partisan League of Women Voters is pulling out of Florida entirely, convinced that it cannot possibly register voters without facing legal liability. Volunteers would need to have ?a secretary on one hand and a lawyer on the other hand as they registered voters,? said Deirdre MacNabb, president of the Florida League of Women Voters.
What?s worse is that these aren?t a series of independent actions being coincidentally taken throughout the country. This is very much a coordinated effort. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate-funded organization that works with state legislators to draft model legislation. According to The Nation?s John Nichols, ?Enacting burdensome photo ID or proof of citizenship requirements has long been an ALEC priority.? It?s not surprise then, that the Wisconsin state legislator who pushed for one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation is also ALEC?s Wisconsin chair.
I asked Alexander Keyssar, one of the country?s premier voting rights scholars, for some historical context. When was the last time an effort of this nature was so central to the agenda of an American political party? ?What is so striking about the wave of legislation for ID laws is that we are witnessing for the first time in more than a century, a concerted, multi-state effort to make it more difficult for people to exercise their democratic rights,? he said. Keyssar, author of The Right to Vote, noted that ?it is very reminiscent of what occurred in the North between 1875 and 1910-- the era of Jim Crow in the South-- when a host of procedural obstacles were put in the way of immigrants trying to vote.?
...That there is still a party in American politics willing to use disenfranchisement as a political tactic is gut-wrenching. Today, 46 years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, it must be the job of the American people to fight back against the forces that are disfiguring their nation on behalf of their party. Our dignity and the destiny of our democracy depends on it.
George W. Bush?s Imperial Presidency is long gone, as Barack Obama pleads with the nation.
?There are a lot of crises in the world that we can?t always predict or avoid,? he tells Americans today after being missing in action all week. ?This isn?t one of those crises...
?If you want to see a bipartisan compromise, make a phone call, send an e-mail, tweet. Keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this.?
The man who killed Osama bin Laden only weeks ago is being held captive by a few dozen Tea Party terrorists, most of whom couldn?t find the Capitol six months ago. There are no Navy Seals, only befuddled John Boehner, to disarm them and keep them from blowing up the economy like the Twin Towers.
But Boehner is looking more and more like bin Laden these days, making plans in his bunker but unsure of who will carry them out.
It?s enough to make you nostalgic for Dick Cheney, who never had to appeal to social media to work his will in Washington.
Read The Full Article:
The world population will reach 7 billion by the end of 2011, according to a new study released by the Harvard School of Public Health. Accompanying the population growth is a shift in the “demographic center of gravity” toward poor nations. Wealthier countries will see their populations age, but their numbers will remain relatively stable. The less-developed world, however, will cope with 97 percent of population growth over the next 40 years — almost half of which will fall to Africa. –Sarah Bufkin
Here’s the latest on real GDP with the revisions:
This should make clear, I think, that basically every story you’ve read over the past 18 months explaining the “jobless recovery” is kind of bunk. No recovery, no jobs. Personally, I think this was pretty clear even before the revisions, which is why I never put much stock in either leftwing or rightwing versions of the “corporations have found a magical way to increase production of goods and services without employing people” narratives. It’s true that firms have achieved very high profit margins, but the overall story is of an American economy that contains more workers and better technology than we had in 2008 but still isn’t making new stuff.
For weeks, Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-VA) have blocked Tenth Circuit nominee Steve Six without deigning to explain why they were doing so. Yesterday, Roberts finally explained himself, citing Six’s unwillingness to rewrite the Constitution to advance the GOP’s legislative agenda:
[A]s Kansas Attorney General, [Six] failed to see any Constitutional defects with the newly passed health care reform law. While this view runs counter to the overwhelming belief of many Kansans, and the decisions by two federal judges, it points to a larger issue concerning the proper role of government in our lives. And with all due respect, the average person can identify the constitutional defects of Obamacare.
This is madness. Five of the eight judges who have considered the merits of the Affordable Care Act — including former Scalia clerk and George W. Bush appointee Judge Jeffrey Sutton — have all voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Does Roberts think that Sutton — a states rights crusader who devoted much of his career to preventing people with disabilities, religious minorities, and even children who are illegally deprived of Medicaid coverage from holding states accountable in federal court — is too much of a leftist to sit on the federal bench?
Indeed, the constitutional case against the Affordable Care Act can’t even be squared with Justice Scalia’s decisions. In a case called Gonzales v. Raich, Scalia explained that ?where Congress has the authority to enact a regulation of interstate commerce, it possesses every power needed to make that regulation effective.?
The case against the ACA focuses on its provision that requires most Americans to either carry health insurance or pay slightly more income taxes, but this provision exists for a very good reason. The ACA also eliminates one of the insurance industry?s most abusive practices ? denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. This ban cannot function if patients are free to enter and exit the insurance market at will. If patients can wait until they get sick to buy insurance, they will drain all the money out of an insurance plan that they have not previously paid into, leaving nothing left for the rest of the plan?s consumers.
In other words, the ACA’s regulation of the national insurance market cannot function without a requirement that nearly every American carry insurance. Accordingly, the coverage requirement is clearly constitutional under Justice Scalia’s statement that Congress possess “every power needed” to make it’s economic regulations effective, and Scalia is also disqualified from the federal bench under Roberts’ standard.
The bottom line is that conservative lawmakers like Roberts don’t particularly like the fact that the Constitution allows our elected leaders to solve national problems — they’d rather have a Constitution that ensures that only conservative governance is allowed — so Roberts has now decided to rewrite the Constitution by refusing to confirm any judges who insist up following it.
The chiefs of staff of Turkey’s powerful military reportedly resigned today in apparent protest of Prime Minsiter Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s government arresting dozens of officers, including top brass, for an alleged plot to overthrow the government. The news came as a surprise after meetings this morning between the military and the government. Turkish press reported that, ahead of the meeting, Erdo?an said, “I don?t think there is going to be any tension. The meeting should go off ideally.” The secular military establishment has long-dominated Turkish politics, but has had disagreements with Erdo?an’s Islamic-rooted AK Party.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticized presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) yesterday for her silence on the Anoka-Hennepin’s neutrality policy, which prohibits school officials from referring to homosexuality and may enable anti-gay bullying. A former Anoka-Hennepin student and self-touted education advocate, Bachmann represents the district and its 38,000 students.
Andrew Harmon from the Advocate reports:
Pelosi told The Advocate of Bachmann?s silence on the issue, ?I would think that if she wanted to be the President of the United States, she would understand that this is a larger issue than whether someone is gay or not, but as to whether someone is harassed and bullied to the point of seeing no way out.?
?Obviously it?s an issue bigger than Michele Bachmann?s district, so maybe we should all be speaking out about it, and not just leaving it to her,? Pelosi added.
Following a two-year stint of nine suicides attributed to bullying, the Departments of Justice and Education are investigating the school district for its failure to address anti-gay harassment. Two human-rights groups have also filed a federal lawsuit challenging the neutrality policy, arguing that it stigmatizes gay students.
But as the district’s representative, Bachmann has not made any public comments regarding the anti-gay bullying charges or the neutrality policy. Instead, she has let her record speak for itself. In 2004, Bachmann decried teaching about homosexuality in schools as leading to “the personal enslavement of individuals” and in 2006, opposed anti-bullying legislation because “there always have been bullies…always will be.”
Pelosi also disparaged Bachmann over reports that her family clinic practices “ex-gay” therapy, saying, ?You know, 20 years ago somebody might ask, Does it work? I think today, people are asking, Why would you want to have somebody be who they aren?t??
In a satirical piece about poor news coverage of climate science, Onion’s obtuse television journalists report that “climatologists around the country have been behaving very strangely.” “Something seems to have spooked the climatologists,” the fake reporter intones, rolling a clip of actual climatologist Thomas Karl warning of catastrophic sea level rise, before saying “we’re not sure why” they’re so upset. “Maybe someday we’ll find what all this jumping around is all about,” the feckless anchor concludes.