Supreme Court rules against gerrymandering - "Ginsburg's opinion is now the law, and I suspect that, in a few decades, this case will be considered one of the most important of the term. Thus far, only California has copied Arizona and created an independent redistricting commission. But with the court's blessing, more states are likely to follow suit. These commissions have been hugely successful thus far, a real boost for representative democracy and a cure for the notoriously stubborn problem of gerrymandering. Had Justice Anthony Kennedy swung away from Ginsburg and aligned with his fellow conservatives, America would be facing down a distressingly undemocratic future."
Nearly all records created by state and local government officials, including bill drafts and communications with staff, would not be subject to the Wisconsin open records law under a sweeping surprise change Republicans introduced in committee Thursday as an amendment to the state budget. [more inside]
Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
Suzy Khimm, The New Republic: The Obama Gap - "Favorable demographics and a charismatic leader aren’t enough to make a majority party. A case study in electoral failure from Florida." [more inside]
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
Can Politico make Brussels sexy?
In other words, the appetite for Politico in DC existed before Politico did. The audience for a digital-first gossip-mongering Brussels-based Anglophone pan-European publication does not yet exist, and each one of those constitutive elements presents its own problem. Continental Europeans are not used to a headlong online media culture of breaking news. They remain much more committed than Americans to a separation of serious reportage and entertainment, and they are more inclined to doubt the journalistic value of moral scandal. They view Brussels as, at best, a grey backwater of minor trade quarrels and, at worst, an abscess of smug antidemocratic technocrats bloated with regulatory power. And, finally, there’s the question of whether a “pan-European” outlook can even be said to exist.
Action Man: Battlefield Casualties is a disturbing spoof toy commercial in a campaign by Veterans for Peace UK to raise the military recruitment age from 16 to 18. Warning: autoplaying video with graphic violence.
François Hollande calls emergency meeting after WikiLeaks claims US spied on three French presidents. [more inside]
The Green Party's Jill Stein announces her presidential candidacy. She is running as a third-party candidate.
Real-estate mogul and reality-television star Donald Trump said Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States. [New York Times]
The garrulous real estate developer whose name has adorned apartment buildings, hotels, Trump-brand neckties and Trump-brand steaks, announced on Tuesday his entry into the 2016 presidential race, brandishing his wealth and fame as chief qualifications in an improbable quest for the Republican nomination.[more inside]
Inside Obama's Stealth Startup Their mission: to reboot how government works.
The radio signal that occupies 4625 kHz has reportedly been broadcasting since the late 1970s. The earliest known recording of it is dated 1982. Ever since curious owners of shortwave radios first discovered the signal, it has broadcast a repeating buzzing noise. Every few years, the buzzer stops, and a Russian voice reads a mixture of numbers and Russian names.
"Readiness has also become the slogan of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rather than a galvanizing declaration of devotion, the slogan is a queasy-making line in the sand. When the legitimacy of the system the president presides over is in question, as racial oppression, capitalism, and police brutality are discussed on a global scale, choosing a president isn’t a royal crowning. The conflation of being “Ready for Hillary” with feminist allegiance brings the worst problems of political fandom, racism, and poor civic awareness to the forefront. Secretary Clinton is portrayed as a fulfillment of a progressive checklist or schedule rather than an individual candidate."
If black lives were as long lived as those of whites, some major elections may have turned out differently. From the article: "The unspoken suggestion is that Republicans know this and will oppose programs that increase Black health and decrease Black poverty in part for the same reasons that they have favored incarceration and permanent disenfranchisement of people convicted of felonies."
The day before House Democrats defeated President Barack Obama's request for fast-track authority on trade agreements, The New Yorker's William Finnegan examines the strange bedfellows the Trans-Pacific Partnership has led to and asks Why Does Obama Want This Trade Deal So Badly?
How Isis crippled al-Qaida - the rift within the jihadi movement.
Are the Koch brothers creating a shadow voter list to outmaneuver the RNC? Or is it not that big of a deal? Regardless, I get a little choked up when I see an article so thorough and informative--evidence of why a free press and relative transparency in government are so important.
You'll recall that Voldemort killed Harry Potter's parents, fed his enemies to a giant snake, and tortured and killed muggles just for fun. But he's still polling better than Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie and Donald Trump.
Will terrible earthquake bring a fuller democracy in Nepal? Amid the rubble and homeless in Nepal, the country's political parties appear poised to finally enact a constitution. Has adversity brought opportunity?
"So last week, when country radio promoter Keith Hill controversially suggested that stations should stop playing songs by female artists, it’s easy to label his actions another example of misogynistic, conservative politics.The Conversation's Clifford Murphy, on why [country radio promoter] Keith Hill’s comments about women in country music cut far deeper than misogyny [more inside]
However, Hill’s comments are actually indicative of something much bigger and far more troubling: the consolidation of an entire genre of music, and the type of environment this can create. In the case of country, it’s allowed for the repurposing of the genre’s history, and the exclusion of certain individuals."
Inception-level meta-politics. The Federal Elections Commission, in charge of curbing abuses of our elections laws, is now filing petitions to itself to do its own job. But this is probably an improvement from the chair saying "People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional."
Everyone is convinced that someone else is getting a better deal, that somewhere a horde of Kansans are gaming the system and preventing the truly needy from getting help. It’s a sentiment that Brownback eagerly exploits when attacking Medicaid expansion and other forms of public assistance. [more inside]
A conversation with Ilya Ponomarev, an exiled dissident Russian State Duma Deputy living in San Jose - "When the Russian government voted to annex Crimea last year, only one member of parliament stood in opposition—Ilya Ponomarev. The final tally was 445 to 1, with Ponomarev wanting the world to know that the annexation did not have unanimous support. He is now barred from returning home to Russia. First elected to Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in 2007, Ponomarev became a leader of political protests that shook Moscow before Putin's return to the presidency in 2012. Now, the Russian parliament has voted overwhelming to strip Ponomarev of the immunity from prosecution granted to lawmakers by the Russian Constitution. How long can this government maintain control by silencing these voices of opposition? With elections scheduled for next year, what is the future of Putin's government and Russia's relationship with the United States?" [more inside]
Ben Garrison is the most trolled cartoonist in the world. His trolls love him so much, they recreated him in their own image. [via]
A short explanation of why an Australian state's parliament officially declared Eddie McGuire to be a boofhead. [more inside]
Joe Stiglitz on Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing (video; if you don't have 30m, skip to 20m for discussion of political inequality, wealth, credit and monetary policy) - "If the very rich can use their position to get higher returns, more investment information, more extraction of rents, and if the very rich have equal or higher savings rates, then wealth will become more concentrated... economic inequality inevitably gets translated into political inequality, and political inequality gets translated into more economic inequality. The basic and really important idea here is that markets don't exist in a vacuum, that market economies operate according to certain rules, certain regulations that specify how they work. And those effect the efficiency of those markets, but they also effect how the fruits of the benefits of those markets are distributed and the result of that is there are large numbers of aspects of our basic economic framework that in recent years have worked to increase the inequality of wealth and income in our society... leading to a society which can be better described, increasingly, as an inherited plutocracy." [more inside]
Joseph R. Biden, known as Beau, died today, at the age of 46. Mr. Biden had previously served as Attorney General of Delaware, and had reportedly been battling brain cancer for several years.
Jordan Engel's Decolonial Atlas project aims to restore indigenous place names to global maps overwritten by colonialism. On Tumblr too.
Wait, Women Don't Have Equal Rights in the United States? - Tabby Biddle, Huffington Post. The History Behind the ERA Amendment ( brief introduction, argument for why ERA is needed). March 22, 1972 | Equal Rights Amendment for Women Passed by Congress (NYT). Chronology of the Equal Rights Amendment, 1923-1996 (NOW). "The ERA Is a Moral Issue": The Mormon Church, LDS Women, and the Defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (Neil J. Young, American Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 3, Sep., 2007)
How Mountain Dew Came to Perpetuate a Deep-Seated Appalachian Stereotype As Mountain Dew taps into tropes of corn-syrup-free authenticity and nostalgia for "backwoods" "renegades" and "rebels" with its throwback drink Dewshine, a daughter of Appalachia considers how the beverage reflects cultural stereotypes. [more inside]
Several recent developments reveal how political and institutional fragmentation in the United States has produced self-inflicted wounds for the U.S. abroad. In all of these instances, America’s ability to exercise economic power in the world has been deliberately curtailed through decisions made unilaterally in Washington by American political leaders.
Some Paths to the True Knowledge[*] - "Attention conservation notice: A 5000+ word attempt to provide real ancestors and support for an imaginary ideology I don't actually accept, drawing on fields in which I am in no way an expert. Contains long quotations from even-longer-dead writers, reckless extrapolation from arcane scientific theories, and an unwarranted tone of patiently explaining harsh, basic truths. Altogether, academic in one of the worst senses. Also, spoilers for several of MacLeod's novels, notably but not just The Cassini Division. Written for, and cross-posted to, Crooked Timber's seminar on MacLeod, where I will not be reading the comments."
“It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals,” write two New York Times reporters. “Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.” In Washington, this weekly meeting has been labeled “Terror Tuesday.” Once established, the list of nominees is sent to the White House, where the president orally gives his approval to each name. With the “kill list” validated, the drones do the rest. [more inside]
The Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System - the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society sends out a message of peace, love, understanding and respect to Russian submariners cruising through the Stockholm archepelago
Fashion to Die For: "Fast fashion might seem like a modern invention, but in the turbulent world of 18th-century France, when Marie Antoinette was calling the shots, fashion moved at light speed." Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, art historian specializing in fashion and textiles, gives a delightfully rich interview to Collectors Weekly. Through the prism of fashion, she touches on class fluidity and lack thereof, gender roles, textile trades, guilds, self-expression – all elements that rapidly metamorphosized at the end of the Ancien Régime and inexorably led to the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror. [more inside]
China rates its own citizens - including online behaviour: "The Chinese government is currently implementing a nationwide electronic system, called the Social Credit System, attributing to each of its 1,3 billion citizens a score for his or her behavior. The system will be based on various criteria, ranging from financial credibility and criminal record to social media behavior. From 2020 onwards each adult citizen should, besides his identity card, have such a credit code." [more inside]
"What does it mean to be British? Read five outspoken collectives' views on identity in UK culture in this roundtable." - text by Zing Tsjeng for Dazed magazine (part of a series of articles on the state of the nation as the May 7 election approaches in the UK).
"In four short weeks, the sure-thing election about nothing has turned into an election about everything; a historic campaign that could spell the end of the 44-year Progressive Conservative political dynasty, or see them snatch another stunning victory from the jaws of defeat." Alberta goes to the polls May 5 in their 29th general election. It has turned out to be a far more interesting campaign than many thought at the outset. [more inside]
1967 NBC News Special Report: "Summer of '67"[YouTube]
The 1967 Detroit riot, also known as the 12th Street riot, was a violent public disorder that turned into a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan. It began on a Saturday night in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig, on the corner of 12th (today Rosa Parks Boulevard) and Clairmount streets on the city's Near West Side. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in United States history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot. [Wiki]
The Washington Post sheds some much needed, highly relevant historical context on "[t]he long, painful and repetitive history of how Baltimore became Baltimore". [more inside]
In Grimsby, the former fishing capital of England, sandpipers scurry across the tarmac of derelict streets. The sandpiper isn’t a creature of asphalt and paving. It’s a small white-breasted bird usually to be found foraging on British foreshores in groups of twenty or so, scuttling up and down sandy beaches as the foaming forward edge of the sea roars in and hisses back. I’d come to Grimsby to see why, after seventy years of voting Labour, the town was flirting with the United Kingdom Independence Party. After a while I began wondering what had happened to make Grimsby a wild and lonely enough place for the sandpiper to feel at home. It turns out the reason is the same. Someone, or something, abdicated power in Grimsby, leaving swathes of it to rot. But who, or what? And what will the succession be?James Meek in the LRB provides an indepth look at the problems of one northern town, featuring the decline of the fisheries, the hopes resting on new offshore wind energy parks revitalising the town, the difference between Victorian local capitalism and contemporary pension fund driven global capitalism, the leftwing grassroots Ukip campaigners trying to end the dominance of Labour and their parachuted in candidate with a campaign manager engaged to the local candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, heardheaded Greens, the withdrawal of the State and the hollowing out of local control of everyday necessities needed for any town to flourish.
"For the sake of argument, here are the best and most reasonable ways to improve [the White House Correspondent's Dinner]." [more inside]
Foundation: Public Goods and Options for the Bottom Billions - "Human beings just don't handle the very long run well" and that's where government increasingly comes in... (via) [more inside]
As a historic constitutional showdown over gay marriage looms this month at the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys are fighting over another bitterly disputed issue: their fees. In some cases, the fee requests run well into seven figures and are submitted on behalf of powerful law firms that a Reuters examination found have outsized access to the Supreme Court. Individuals and advocacy groups that file lawsuits aimed at the high court sometimes retain big-firm lawyers who specialize in arguing in that forum and boast remarkable success rates in getting their cases heard.
"More than sixty years have passed since Israel started its nuclear venture and almost half a century has elapsed since it crossed the nuclear weapons threshold. Yet Israel's nuclear history still lacks a voice of its own: Israel has never issued an authorized and official nuclear history; no insiders have ever been authorized to tell the story from within. Unlike all seven other nuclear weapons states, Israel's nuclear policy is essentially one of non-acknowledgement. Israel believes that nuclear silence is golden, referring to its nuclear code of conduct as the policy of amimut ("opacity" in Hebrew)." A special collection of declassified documents was published by the National Security Archive this Wednesday, that sheds some light on How Israel Hid Its Secret Nuclear Weapons Program.
Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan chronicler of Latin American history, politics, and football, has died at the age of 74 today in his hometown, Montevideo. [more inside]
From The Bitter Southerner: Dixie Is Dead