October 29, 2013 archive

Reid: Senate to Consider ENDA

Yesterday Harry Reid announced that the Senate will vote on the Employment NonDiscrimination Act (ENDA), described as a bill to expand the workplace rights, before Congress breaks for Thanksgiving.

Reid said the Senate will consider a version of the bill which would “work against discrimination on gender identity.”  That is, the version will be trans-inclusive.  Currently 29 states have no laws protecting workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 33 states have no employment protections based on gender identity.

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Dueling Privacy Bills

The definition of a Beltway Conventional Wisdom summary.

NSA chief denies collecting millions of phone records on European citizens

By Ellen Nakashima and William Branigin, Washington Post

Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 3:30 PM

On one hand, there is the approach taken by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman; Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), a former House Judiciary Committee chairman; and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They would end the mass collection of phone data by requiring the government to prove to a court that it is seeking call records relevant to either an agent of a foreign power who is the subject of a terrorism investigation or someone with a link to that agent. Such a requirement would make bulk collection impossible, the proponents say.

The legislation also would require a warrant to deliberately search for the e-mail and phone call content of Americans that is collected as part of a surveillance program targeting foreigners located overseas.

“The government has not made its case that bulk collection of domestic phone records is an effective counterterrorism tool, especially in light of the intrusion on American privacy,” Leahy said at a hearing this month.

On the other hand, the approach taken by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, focuses on increasing transparency and privacy protections.

The intelligence committee leaders have not introduced their respective bills, but Feinstein has outlined the changes under consideration. They include limiting access to the call database; codifying the requirement that analysts have a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that a phone number is associated with terrorism to query the database; requiring that the FISA court promptly review each such determination; and limiting the retention period for phone records, now five years.

The Intelligence Committee’s bill, she said, would also expand the NSA’s authority to allow it to continue intercepting for three days the phone calls and e-mails of an overseas foreign target who had entered the United States. That would give the government a chance to go to the FISA court to seek a traditional individual warrant to continue the collection. If the warrant was denied, the intercepts would have to be deleted.

The bill would also require Senate confirmation of the NSA director and inspector general.

The proposal to end bulk collection, if it is allowed to reach the floor, could succeed in the House, where a similar effort failed by only 12 votes in July. At least eight lawmakers who voted against the July measure and two who did not vote on it are now in favor of Leahy and Sensenbrenner’s approach, congressional aides said.

“The public is justifiably concerned about the fact that everybody’s phone calls apparently have been snared in this – even people who have no relationship to terrorism,” Sensenbrenner said in an interview. “But what has come out since the end of July, I think, is going to tip the scales in favor of a significant NSA reform.”


Henri 4, L’Haunting

On This Day In History October 29

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 29 is the 302nd day of the year (303rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 63 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” makes its debut in Prague at the Estates Theater. It is an opera in two acts with the music by Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is about a “young, arrogant, sexually prolific nobleman who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast, until he encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit.” The opera is sometimes characterized as comic because it combines comedy, drama and the supernatural. It is among the top 20 operas performed in North America.

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Late Night Karaoke

Seven Seconds to Save the Social Safety Net

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

7 Reasons to Take 7 Seconds to Save Social Security and Medicare

by Richard (RJ) Eskow, The Huffington Post

A broad coalition of organizations, including the Campaign for America’s Future and Social Security Works, is joining Sen. Bernie Sanders in a petition drive to resist cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. It only takes a few moments to sign; it’s that easy. [..]

The threat is very real, and these cuts could take place with very little warning. On a personal note: I signed. I did it because a lot of people would suffer needlessly by the kind of deal they’re cooking up. I did it because I think it’s wrong to allow the privileged and powerful to overrule the will of the people. And frankly, I did it because I’m scared. This deal could be done before most Americans even see it coming.

It’s fast and easy to sign this petition. It only took me seven seconds. Here are seven reasons why you should. [..]

1. Republicans are still demanding “entitlement cuts.”


2. Some of these cuts are in the President’s budget.


3. The “chained CPI” is a deep cut to Social Security benefits.


4. The chained CPI isn’t fair, either.


5. The cuts to Medicaid and Medicare are both inhumane and cumbersome.


6. Millennials are already getting a raw deal. This would make it worse.


7. In a democracy, the people — not corporations are billionaires — are supposed to decide.

Take Action: Defend Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

Stand with Senator Bernie Sanders and our coalition partners in demanding, “No grand bargain in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”

Bernie is serving on the Budget Conference Committee which will be negotiating a new federal budget over the next few months — and where a deal could be struck to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, Bernie is fighting every day to protect our earned benefits. Stand with Senator Bernie Sanders and a diverse coalition of thousands of fellow progressives now and demand that Congress and the President oppose any grand bargain which cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Add your name today!

He’s right, depending on how fast you can type and press enter, just seven seconds. So it for yourself and future generations.

2013 Major League Baseball Championship Game 5: Red Sox @ Cardinals

So, the rubber (it’s a Lawn Bowling thing thing) of the stand at Busch and since the BoSox have already split we’ll travel again to the friendly confines of Fenway and worship the Great God Citgo and face the dreaded Green Monster.

It’s just a game and the Cards are tied at 2.

First the one they won Saturday.  In the 1st inning it looked like a rout, Single, Sacrifice, RBI Single, RBI Single, 2 – 0 Cards.  Then came the Sox 5th, Leadoff Triple, RBI Sacrifice.  And the 6th, Leadoff Walk, Single, RBI Single, all tied up.  Cards answered in the 7th, Leadoff Single, Hit by Pitch, 2 RBI Double.  Knotted again in the 8th, Leadoff Single, HBP, Sacrifice, Walked Loaded, RBI Sacrifice, RBI Single.  Bottom of the 9th, Single, Double, Sacrifice.

And then there was an obstruction

In baseball, obstruction is when a fielder illegally hinders a baserunner running within the basepath.

Baserunners are generally permitted to run from base to base without being physically blocked or hindered by a fielder. The only time that a fielder is not obligated to “get out of the way” of a baserunner is when the fielder is fielding or in possession of the ball.

Game over dude. 5 – 4 Cardinals, they lead the Series 2 – 1.

And so they take the field again last night.  In the Cardinals 3rd a Single and an Error puts the runner at 2nd with 1 Down.  RBI Single. In the 5th the Sox come back with a Leadoff Double, Back to Back Walks, and a Sacrifice.  It could have been much worse and it was in the 6th, 2 Out Single, a Walk, 3 RBI Homer.  Cards score again in the 7th, 2 Out Double and an RBI Single, but it’s too little too late.  4 – 2 Red Sox, Series tied at 2.

We have not yet had a squirrel sighting, but were I a serious Cards fan I might consider smuggling one in my pants.