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The Irish people's brilliant affirmation of marriage equality yesterday has naturally caused some gnashing of teeth among the ever-fewer Catholics who are devoted to their idea of "traditional marriage."

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage fancies himself the leader of that crew of old Catholics in the States, and had urged his followers to support the Irish opponents of the marriage equality referendum.

From a May 1 email, emphases in the original:

Increasingly the battle to preserve marriage is becoming a global one. ... If they (Irish equality opponents) can manage to pull off a victory, it will be a tremendous boost to the cause of marriage worldwide. Please do what you can to bring awareness to their efforts.
Brown also found encouragement in the several recent rejections of marriage equality in Northern Ireland (the most conservative part of the UK, and the only one that still discriminates).

His post-vote email grasps for silver linings and whines about Ireland being less blindly obedient to its bishops than before.

Most people, in Ireland and here, would see that as progress beyond the near-medieval status of the church in Ireland for most of the 20th century.

The latest email in full, with some commentary, below.

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Verizon is a telecom behemoth, with revenues of $32 billion and profits of $4.3 billion in the first three months of this year.

But like most corporations these days, Verizon employs as few workers as possible, and contracts out as much of its work as possible. One example of that is found in this story in Wednesday's Albany Times Union, headlined "Immigrant labor brings Verizon FiOS to Guilderland" (get around the paywall by searching the headline on Google, then clicking on the result).

The TU sent its best feature writer, Paul Grondahl, out to a suburban town to do a featurey story about the crew doing the ditch-digging for Verizon's fiber-optic Internet service, which it is slowly expanding in New York, and only in the best neighborhoods.

Featurey like this:

From sunrise to sunset these men toil, anonymous souls bent to their task. It is a grinding low-tech labor that will bring new high-speed broadband Internet technology to affluent homeowners.
Aside from the featurey flourishes, there are plenty of interesting facts about this work -- the work itself, and who does it and who won't, which is clearly related to how much they are paid by a subcontractor to a contractor to Verizon.

More, below.

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Former Pataki hack Tom Carroll used to be the very public voice of the Brighter Choice charter school system in Albany. But since the charters for his two middle schools were not renewed by the state earlier this year, Carroll has had little to say.

Scott Waldman of Capital NY, who was able to get quote from Carroll when he was the education reporter for the Albany Times Union and Brighter Choice was flying high, got nothing for his article headlined "The education model that fell apart".

Early on, we find why Carroll has nothing to say anymore:

Once heralded as a new beginning for children living in grinding poverty and stuck in a long-troubled school district, Albany’s charter system has so far failed to live up to that promise. Five of the 12 charter schools that opened in the last decade have already closed, and others are being skeptically eyed by state officials.
More, below.
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Sun Mar 08, 2015 at 07:35 PM PDT

Other Bloody Sundays

by devtob

The 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma has occasioned a wonderful movie and moving tributes yesterday by President Obama and Rep. John Lewis on the bridge named for a notorious racist where police forces of Alabama white supremacy bloodied scores of peaceful voting rights demonstrators.

Awful as that was, no one was murdered by government there.

Which cannot be said of two other 20th-century Bloody Sundays -- in Derry, Northern Ireland, on Jan. 30, 1972, and in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Jan. 22, 1905.

More, below.

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Some teabagger pols in Maine want to repeal the state's seat belt law, because of the ficticious freedom to seriously injure yourself on public highways.

yingyang had a diary today about this, that inspired me to write about how the first seat belt law in the country was enacted, despite proto-teabagger opposition.

More, below.

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Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 07:35 AM PST

NY-Gov: Gibson begins campaign

by devtob

When GOP Rep. Chris Gibson, NY-19, announced last month that he would not run for a fourth term in 2016, many people (myself included) opined that he was setting his eyes on running statewide (probably for governor) in 2018.

Well, he's already begun doing that.

According to a Dan Freedman article published in the Albany Times Union (paywalled, but copy-and-pasteable), Gibson "is deploying a political team throughout New York to work his party's apparatus in the hopes of making the state's hard-blue ground a little more fertile for the GOP."

With no more congressional re-election fundraising obligations, Gibson said he now has some time to "reinvest" in boosting the fortunes of a party that hasn't won a statewide race since Gov. George Pataki was elected to a third term in 2002.

"There will be periodically some visits across the state to help inspire our people," he said.

What's left unsaid, of course, is that if Gibson does indeed choose to run he will have the rudiments of an organization in place to carry his candidacy forward.

At this point, it's a somewhat stealthy guerrilla operation befitting its commander, a retired Army colonel who once led an 82nd Airborne combat brigade. Gibson's press secretary, Matt Sheehey, described the congressman's political team as "current and former campaign staff and supporters around the region" and left it at that.

Nevertheless, "He helps himself and he helps the party at the same time," said Republican State Chairman Ed Cox. "That's ideal.''

Gibson visited Orange County, outside his district, over the weekend to talk up his campaign to revitalize the state GOP, and plans trips to Buffalo and Albany in the near future.

Of course, Gibson will not announce his 2018 candidacy now, but clearly this is the soft-launch designed to garner party and press attention for himself and his ideas.

More, below.

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Hunter's diary today about Scott Walker's proposed $300M in budget cuts for the University of Wisconsin system is, of course, great. But Hunter does not explore the real motive for these savage cuts.

It is not to help build a new playpen for the Milwaukee Bucks, IMHO.

Walker has become the latest shiny new thing to excite the national media about the 2016 presidential race, after his union-bashing speech to last weekend's wingnut get-together in Iowa passed their weird muster.

But Walker has two reasons, one personal, one political, for attacking public higher education that are his motive.

More, below.

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Pope Francis will be issuing a rare encyclical on the environment and climate change next year, and it's pretty clear that his message will not be "Drill, baby, drill."

According to the Guardian story, Francis will urge "all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds."

Along the lines of what he said in October:

The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.
Unlike in other matters through the many centuries, the Catholic Church has essentially accepted the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.

But some Catholics, especially in Fox "News"-deluded America, will have none of that, at least according to one of the hundreds of Koch-funded conservatives on offer to journalists to give the polluters' point of view.

More, below.      

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New York Republicans have not won a statewide race (governor, attorney general, comptroller, US senator) in 12 years, mostly because NY is a solidly blue state by registration, but also because they have run lousy candidates.

That may well change in 2018, when popular Rep. Chris Gibson, NY-19, has said he will abide by a "self-imposed term limit" of eight years and give up his House seat.

Gibson tells his own story pretty effectively in this 2014 campaign ad:

On Wednesday, Gibson was pressed by Fred Dicker, a Murdoch Republican booster who hosts a radio show in Albany, about running for governor in 2018. He left that big door wide open:

That’s not something I’m planning on. But you never know. (We’ll) take it one day at a time here and focus on our service.
Dicker did not mention the "self-imposed term limit" or the other major statewide race in 2018, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's presumed re-election run, but he was clearly impressed by Gibson and was talent-scouting him for higher office.

Dicker is assuredly not alone in that.

More, below.

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Thu Nov 27, 2014 at 06:12 PM PST

The real story of ISIS

by devtob

The corporate media went gaga about the "new" jihadi militia group ISIS a few months ago, largely because they had overrun the Sunni Triangle part of Iraq that had been the main battleground of the Bush/Cheney war.

And also because ISIS provided lots of gruesome video.

So ISIS became the new Islamic boogeyman, and we're back in Iraq bombing, for now.

Who are these guys?

The War Nerd knows, far more than anyone you'll read/view/hear in the corporate media.

Here'e the lede from his comprehensive post at Pando back in June:

As the Scriptures remind us, “Do not believe the hype.” The hype of the moment is ISIS, the Sunni militia that just drove the so-called Iraqi Army out of Mosul, Tikrit, and other Iraqi cities.

This is one of those dramatic military reverses that mean a lot less than meets the eye. The “Iraqi Army” routed by ISIS wasn’t really a national army, and ISIS isn’t really a dominant military force. It was able to occupy those cities because they were vacuums, abandoned by a weak, sectarian force. Moving into vacuums like this is what ISIS is good at. And that’s the only thing ISIS is good at.

More, below.
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Not exactly Willy Loman, and not exactly now, Nichols was interviewed by the NPR business show Marketplace in 2012, when he directed a Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman" starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as the doomed Willy Loman.

I chanced upon part of that on Marketplace this evening, their memorial to Nichols, in the car:

Those two plays -- "Streetcar" and "Salesman" -- stayed with me in that I would refer to them as time and life went on. And more and more to "Salesman" and less and less to "Streetcar," because "Streetcar," after some time, no longer seemed to be about now at all. There are no Blanches anymore, but there are Willys.
Yes there are, and not just over-50 salesmen who don't meet their quotas.

More, below.

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That's what The Clash's main man said in the 1990s, according to a wonderful valedictory story about the unique Irish-American band Black 47 in the New York Times on Friday.

Why would Joe Strummer say that about a relatively obscure regional band? Perhaps because of songs like this, about socialist labor leader and Easter Rising martyr James Connolly:

The chorus is:

My name is James Connolly
I didn't come here to die
but to fight for the rights of the working man
small farmers too
to protect the proletariat
from the bosses and their screws
so hold on to your rifles, boys
don't give up your dream
of a republic for the working class
economic liberty
The occasion of the NYT story was Black 47's retirement. Band leader Larry Kirwan is 66 (though he doesn't look it) and other band members are somewhat likewise.

Even regional touring has, no douht, become old for them.

More, below.  

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