Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

‘Trump’s election heralds coming of Messiah’ says Deri

Shas chairman and Interior Minister Arye Deri said Thursday that Donald Trump’s election could herald the coming of the Messiah due to the blow he expects the next president will strike against the “non-Orthodox Jewish hold on the US government.”

“There is no doubt that one can give thanks to God that all those who have damned the [Jewish] covenant and would wipe out Judaism, thinking they could take control over the Land of Israel here and lead reforms in order to cause destruction received their blow,” Deri said during an address to the local religious council of Ashdod.

Netanyahu Intensifies Criticism Of The Obama Administration, Thanks Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has always had a rocky relationship with the Barack Obama administration, but in the wake of Secretary of State John Kerry’s anti-settlement speech Wednesday and the United States’ decision to allow a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlements, he has abandoned all pretense of bilateral decorum.

Immediately following Kerry’s remarks, Netanyahu criticized Kerry in scathing terms in a prime-time speech on Israeli television.

How Trudeau Is Screwing Over the Generation That Got Him Elected

Let’s get something straight. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, as well as his recent support for Keystone XL, isn’t just a rebuke to Canada’s environmental movement, dozens of First Nations and the Metro Vancouver voters who elected 15 Liberal MPs.

Trudeau has effectively said “screw you” to the generation of millennials who brought him to office. “I feel betrayed,” one young activist explained. For the rest of his time in office we won’t let him forget it.

Racism is masquerading as right-wing populism and free speech on Canadian campuses

University campuses across Ontario and the country have experienced a surge in right wing activity and, at times, racist propaganda this past year. There’ve been so many digital and on-campus incidents of right-wing activity, most of them anti-Muslim, that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Leading DNC Candidates Duck Debate Over Obama’s Handling Of UN Israel Resolution

The Obama administration’s abstention from a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has engendered impassioned reaction from all corners of the political universe, save one.

The candidates running to take over the Democratic National Committee have, so far, steadfastly avoided the topic, even as it divides their own party.

No, food stamp fraud is not ‘at an all-time high’

On Tuesday, Fox News revisited its longstanding disgust for poor people with what appeared to be a simple question: “Food stamp fraud is at an all-time high. Is it time to end the program?” Their onscreen graphic cited “2016 USDA” as the source of this information. However, according to the Department of Agriculture website, the most recent data available is from 2015.

Before 'Fake News' Came False Prophecy

The revelation that fake news deceived voters in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election generated real outrage in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s electoral victory. The top fake news stories garnered more clicks than the top real news stories on Facebook in the final three months of the campaign season. Fake news and other campaign fantasies led Oxford Dictionaries to select ‘post-truth’ as the word of the year for 2016.

House leadership proposes plan to penalize live-streaming lawmakers

Seeking to prevent another live-streaming "viral video moment" from taking place on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has introduced a rules package that would fine and punish lawmakers for recording photos and video from the floor.

The move comes in response to Democratic lawmakers, who in June live-streamed a sit-in on the House floor over gun control legislation. Democrats organized the sit-in to protest Republican lawmakers’ decision not to bring to the floor a gun-control bill, which if passed would have broadened background checks and prevented people on no-fly lists from buying guns.

Craig Silverman, the man who exposed the fake-news racket in 2016

It’s generally irresponsible to attribute an election result to any one thing – but in a presidential race as close as the one the U.S. just had, any one thing could conceivably have made the difference.

In addition to especially alarming factors such as apparent Russian intervention and the resurgence of white nationalism, another theme has dominated the post-election narrative: the ascendant influence of fake news. All of a sudden, it has become difficult to consider American political dynamics without wading in to questions of epistemology – how do people know the things they know, and how do those beliefs shape not only their positions on issues but understandings of reality at large?

Trump’s new economic math

How will we know when America is great again?

The economy is doing pretty well by traditional measurements such as unemployment — now at a nine-year low of 4.6 percent — and growth — currently at an annual rate of more than 3 percent. But Donald Trump regularly dismisses such numbers, describing the official unemployment rate as “total fiction” and slamming President Barack Obama for failing to stem the loss of industrial jobs.

Trump’s Call for a Nuclear Arms Race Isn’t a Warning to Putin. It’s an Invitation.

Nothing has caused more angst during the current transfer of power in Washington than President-elect Donald Trump’s belligerent words about upgrading America’s nuclear capabilities. “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” he tweeted on Thursday, “until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” In a phone conversation a day later with Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Trump said, “Let it be an arms race … we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

19 States Passed 60 New Abortion Restrictions in 2016

More than 60 new restrictions on access to abortion were passed by 19 states in 2016, according a year-end report from the Center for Reproductive Rights. The regulations run the gamut from attempts to ban abortion altogether, to excessive paperwork requirements for providers and measures that would restrict the donation of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

In sum, 2016 was a just another normal year for advocates who have battled to protect women’s reproductive autonomy. Notably, however, state or federal courts ultimately blocked many of the onerous provisions, a circumstance that underscores how important the judiciary is in protecting women’s rights.

The Unholy Alliance of Europe’s Illiberals

Berlin—Before the perpetrator of the bloody December 19 attack on a Berlin Christmas market, which killed 12 and injured 50, could even be identified, Germany’s right-wing populists knew exactly who was guilty: Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. And they lashed out at her at once, as if they’d been waiting impatiently for the moment to arrive—which in Berlin we knew that it would—tweeting the likes of “Merkel’s dead,” and “What has Merkel done to our country?”

Dutch woman with two British children told to leave UK after 24 years

A Dutch woman who has lived in the UK for 24 years, and has two children with her British husband, has been told by the Home Office that she should make arrangements to leave the country after she applied for citizenship after the EU referendum.

The story of Monique Hawkins highlights the practical difficulties faced by millions of EU citizens concerned that they will not have the right to stay in Britain post-Brexit.

In North Carolina, Some Democrats See Their Grim Future

In the end, even Phil Berger, the powerful Republican leader of North Carolina’s Senate, couldn’t stop the debacle. A state law that effectively banned legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people—a law he’d pushed through the statehouse less than a year before—had become such a national embarrassment that even he wanted to see it repealed. But the far-right members of his caucus, happily ensconced in ultra-safe Republican districts he’d help draw, saw no reason to back a full repeal, and what was supposed to be a last-minute deal with the incoming Democratic governor fell apart.

Russians No Longer Dispute Olympic Doping Operation

MOSCOW — Russia is for the first time conceding that its officials carried out one of the biggest conspiracies in sports history: a far-reaching doping operation that implicated scores of Russian athletes, tainting not just the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi but also the entire Olympic movement.

Over several days of interviews here with The New York Times, Russian officials said they no longer disputed a damning set of facts that detailed a doping program with few, if any, historical precedents.

Donald Trump, Republicans threaten to get back at UN for Israel resolution

President-elect Donald Trump is joining the cavalcade of Republicans who are denouncing the United Nations over its Friday resolution to stop Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Characteristically, Trump’s tweet focused on insulting the United Nations itself.

    The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016

Julian Assange has kind words for Donald Trump, says Russia has “vibrant” criticism of Vladimir Putin’s government

Julian Assange — who once argued that “since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of government” — came out with high praise for both President-elect Donald Trump and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Friday.

A day in the life of Nariman Dzhelyal

SIMFEROPOL, Crimea — The day starts with traditional coffee. Nariman Dzhelyal’s parents wave him off, just like any couple watching their son leave for the office. But Dzhelyal no longer has an office. And every time he leaves home, in a village just outside Simferopol, Crimea, his parents wonder if he’ll return.

“I call and he says don’t worry, he tells me ‘all’s fine’,” says his mother Ayshe. “When he goes to Ukraine, we don’t sleep until he comes back, in case they don’t let him cross the border. The worst would be if they detain him, and then we won’t even know where he is.”

The 500 richest people in the world got $237 billion richer in 2016

As right-wing politicians around the world gathered power by scapegoating immigrants for the economic struggles of working people, the world’s richest people got nearly a quarter trillion dollars richer in 2016.

The 500 wealthiest individuals on a planet of roughly 8 billion humans gained $237 billion in personal net worth over the year, according to Bloomberg.

Russia Calls U.S. Move To Better Arm Syrian Rebels A ‘Hostile Act’

MOSCOW, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Russia said on Tuesday that a U.S. decision to ease restrictions on arming Syrian rebels had opened the way for deliveries of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, a move it said would directly threaten Russian forces in Syria.

Moscow last year launched a campaign of air strikes in Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad and his forces retake territory lost to rebels, some of whom are supported by the United States.

Israel Pressing Ahead With Settlements Despite UN Resolution

JERUSALEM, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The Jerusalem municipality, undeterred by a U.N. anti-settlement resolution, is due to consider on Wednesday requests for construction permits for hundreds of new homes for Israelis in areas that Israel captured in 1967 and annexed to the city.

Israel is still fuming over the resolution approved last Friday by the United Nations Security Council that demands an end to settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

‘What the Russians Did Was Utterly Unprecedented’

Well before the White House or U.S. intelligence agencies publicly blamed the Russian government for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, two members of Congress did. Back in September, Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement accusing Russian intelligence agencies of hacking Democratic Party institutions. “Americans will not stand for any foreign government trying to influence our election,” they declared. “We hope all Americans will stand together and reject the Russian effort.”

It’s Not About the Economy

ELKHART, Ind.—This city once had the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Now, though, it’s booming. The once-shuttered factories of the recreational vehicle industry, which is concentrated here, are full of workers, their parking lots packed with employees stepping over snow banks to work long hours to fulfill consumer orders.

This city exemplifies the economic recovery the country has experienced since the Great Recession ended. Elkhart’s unemployment rate, which had reached a high of 22 percent in March of 2009, is now at 3.9 percent. Hiring signs dot the doors of the Wal-Mart, the McDonald’s, and the Long John Silver’s. The RV industry makes 65 percent of its vehicles in Elkhart, and the industry is producing a record number of vehicles, which is creating a lot of jobs in this frosty town in northern Indiana.

Bangladesh garment factories sack hundreds after pay protests

At least 1,500 workers have been sacked from Bangladesh garment factories after protests forced a week-long shutdown at dozens of sites supplying top European and American brands.

Tens of thousands of workers walked out of factories this month in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia which make clothes for top western brands such as Gap, Zara and H&M, prompting concerns over supply during the holiday season.

The Industry Where Black Women Earn 42 Cents for Every Dollar Earned by a White Man

One of the great contradictions of the American economy is that the workers who feed us are the workers who struggle the hardest to feed themselves. The corporations that produce and market America’s sustenance are also the monopolies whose low wages have pauperized a workforce of more than 21 million nationwide. And now the American diet is about to get even costlier under an administration that campaigned on cheap taco bowls and Trump-brand steaks.

Alexander Stubb: Europe’s endangered liberal future

To some, Alexander Stubb is the Iron Man who could save Europe: a polyglot triathlete, former Finnish prime minister, and, at age 48, part of the next generation of leaders desperately needed on a Continent battered by anti-establishment populism.

To others, Stubb is a well-chiseled has-been, whose lackluster leadership of his center-right National Coalition Party allowed the euroskeptic, anti-immigrant Finns Party to gain ground and finish second to the Center Party in the 2015 parliamentary elections, putting an end to Stubb’s one-year stint as prime minister.

Kellie Leitch shoots to thrill

I’ve been thinking a lot about Kellie Leitch, the “Canadian values” MP running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). Mostly I’ve been thinking about who fits into her version of Canada.

Leitch, in case you haven’t heard, has been playing the Trump (and race) card like a two-bit blackjack dealer on crack since she entered the contest to succeed Stephen Harper, wrapping herself in the Canadian flag while she’s at it.

Some of the usual right-wing pundits have found in her their champion of the people, our Trump to “make Canada great again” – never mind that she’s the embodiment of the “elites” she rails against: surgeon by trade, Dalhousie-educated, white house on 20 hectares in the country.

Thanks To Putin, Anti-Russian Terrorism Is The New Normal

The assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey should shock or surprise no one. It was inevitable, as are many more such terrorist acts against Russia.

Call Russia’s involvement in Syria a geopolitically motivated intervention or call it a war crime. From the point of view of many Syrians, most anti-Assad rebels, the so-called Islamic State and many radical Muslims the world over, Russia’s bombardment of Aleppo and other cities is a criminal assault against all Muslims and Islam. We may disagree. And Putin certainly disagrees. But just as he believes he is entitled ruthlessly to pursue Russia’s interests, so, too, his opponents believe they are entitled to pursue theirs — no less ruthlessly.

China’s Aircraft Carrier Enters South China Sea Amid Renewed Tensions

TAIPEI, Dec 26 (Reuters) - A group of Chinese warships led by the country’s sole aircraft carrier entered the top half of the South China Sea on Monday after passing south of Taiwan, the self-ruled island’s Defence Ministry said of what China has termed a routine exercise.

Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements

JERUSALEM — Undeterred by a resounding defeat at the United Nations, Israel’s government said Monday that it would move ahead with thousands of new homes in disputed areas and warned nations against further action, declaring that Israel does not “turn the other cheek.”

Just a few days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s municipal government signaled that it would not back down: The city intends to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes.

Trump calls UN a club for people to ‘have a good time’

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.—Days after the United Nations voted to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Donald Trump questioned its effectiveness Monday, saying it’s just a club for people to “have a good time.”

The president-elect wrote on Twitter that the UN has “such great potential,” but it has become “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

Homo Obnoxious: Is Toxic Masculinity Really Taking Over the Country?

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. We were said to be approaching the demise of a certain type of swaggering, predatory masculinity: let’s call him Homo Obnoxious.

As men like Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Anthony Weiner, and Billy Bush scrambled unsuccessfully to find cover in the old-boy bastions of privilege, Homo Obnoxious appeared to be lumbering around like a dinosaur under the weight of his own cultural baggage. His habitat was shrinking: it seemed as if men who defined themselves by devaluing women, putting down men who didn’t think like them and treating sexual relations — and most everything else — as power-tripping performances might be ready for mounting in a Museum of Masculinity Past.

Syria’s Bashar Assad Tops Off Another Year Of Bloodshed With A Holiday Photoshoot

Syrian President Bashar Assad is bringing a sixth consecutive year of horrifying conflict and carnage to a purportedly festive close at an orphanage just north of Damascus.

Photos and video that the regime released on its official social media platforms Christmas morning show the leader and wife Asma Assad kneeling to hug and kiss smiling children dressed in Santa costumes.

The nation’s civil war has claimed nearly 500,000 lives and forced more than 11.2 million people to flee their homes since it erupted in 2011. Syria and its Russian allies have repeatedly bombed civilian structures, including hospitals and schools. Assad and his regime have also committed war crimes against his own people, including the use of chemical weapons, the United Nations and rights groups say.

Israeli PM Netanyahu Summons U.S. Ambassador Over Anti-Settlement UN Vote

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday summoned the U.S. ambassador to Israel to discuss the U.S. abstention in a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to settlement-building.

Separately, the envoys of 10 other nations were called in to the Israeli Foreign Ministry to be reprimanded on Sunday, and Netanyahu had more harsh words for Washington over Friday’s U.N. vote.

Democracy Endangered When "Philanthro-Barons" Try to Tip Courts

Charles Wiggins, running for re-election to the Washington State Supreme Court this year, did what state judicial candidates do nowadays: He raised campaign funds, about $200,000 in 10 months. This looked substantial -- until Bill Gates and Paul Bill Gates and Paul Allen swamped his effort in a single day. The Microsoft founders-turned-multibillionaire philanthropists gave $200,000 and $300,000, respectively, to Wiggins's opponent on October 17.

Michelle Obama and Us

“The reason why I said yes was because I am tired of being afraid,” Michelle Obama told a crowd in Council Bluffs, Iowa, during the State Fair, in August of 2007, explaining why she had signed on to a long-shot campaign to elect her husband, Barack Obama, President of the United States. She stood in a middle-school gym, surrounded by a mostly white audience that was only beginning to know her husband and had an even vaguer idea of who she was. The stage was a small, low platform, but Obama, dressed in black pants and T-shirt, with her hair pulled back in a bun, occupied it like a dancer, punctuating her seven-minute address with appealing turns and pauses, as her listeners responded. The decision to run, she said, had not been an easy one, particularly with two young daughters, and as she and her husband discussed it with others she had noticed a common theme. “They were afraid,” she said. There was “fear that we might lose. Fear that he might get hurt. Fear that this would be ugly. Fear that it would hurt our family.”

Is This the Real Aung San Suu Kyi?

In early November, Zaw Lay and his family were hiding in the basement of a friend’s house in Yekhatchchaung GwaSone village, near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Two Burmese military helicopters circled overhead, firing indiscriminately at the terrified villagers huddled below. “The helicopters [didn’t] see us but they are firing continuously,” he recently told me over the phone, from a forest enclave in Bangladesh where he now lives. “We don’t [dare] go outside the home, if the helicopter men see us they will kill us.” Once the helicopters stopped their strafing, Burmese soldiers on the ground began burning the village to the ground. There was chaos when Zaw Lay fled, and he learned only later that his elderly mother had been trapped inside a burning building. “My mom’s dead,” he told me.

Progressive causes see 'unprecedented' upswing in donations after US election

One man wrote a check for $10,000 to an organization that helps women get elected to office, saying he was “embarrassed” that Donald Trump won the presidential election.

Someone else walked into the office of an organization advocating for immigrant rights and handed over a bag of cash he had just collected from members of his local community civics group.

The Russian Media and the Fall of Aleppo

The shocking murder of Andrei Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, generated a swell of outrage across Russia, much of which would sound familiar to Americans. Karlov was widely described as a patriot and skilled diplomat. “He was killed carrying out his duties,” said the chairman of the Russian parliament’s lower house, which observed a moment of silence for Karlov. Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the attack an act of terror. President Vladimir Putin condemned it as a blow against the Russo-Turkish relationship and the “peace process in Syria.” Similar or identical formulations have been repeated across Russia’s state-run media, where most Russians get their information.

White Rage: How the GOP Set Out to Unelect the U.S.'s First Black President

The following is an excerpt from the book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (2016). Published with permission of Bloomsbury USA. Copyright © Carol Anderson 2016.

On November 4, 2008, the United States seemed to be crossing the racial Rubicon. For a brief moment, the mirage of hope hung in the air, mesmerizing those not just in the United States but also around the world. Barack Obama’s historic presidential victory led an observer in Tehran to note, “The country that they called ‘the great Satan,’ [declaring] it the symbol of all kinds of tyranny, has enough respect for democratic values that [it has] allowed a black candidate to come this far and even become a president.” And from Moscow: “The U.S., that is a country that is really majestic... I feel it is a country where everything is possible.” Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu agreed. Obama’s victory, he said, told “people of color that for them, the sky is the limit.” CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA blazed the headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noam Chomsky's Audacious Request For President Obama Before He Leaves Office

Retired MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky issued a video message on Friday December 23 regarding the critical problem faced by undocumented immigrants on the verge of a Trump presidency.

"President Obama, to his credit, has issued personal pardons in deserving cases, but he should go far beyond," Chomsky stated.

Pakistani Defense Minister Makes Nuclear Threat Against Israel After Fake News Provocation

Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, wrote a frightening Twitter post in response to a fake news article stating that Israel would attack Pakistan with nuclear weapons.

“Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh,” Asif wrote on Twitter Friday, referring to the Islamic State. “Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”

According to The New York Times, Asif appeared to be responding to a fake news article published earlier in the week on titled, “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.”

We're better than this: Lessons on fear from the Second World War

I start today’s offering with a few long-forgotten facts about the Second World War. Not exactly clickbait, I know, but read on.

After the universal slaughter ended in 1945 and millions had to leave a shattered Europe, 270,000 Germans made their way to Canada to start a new life. Despite having been the mortal enemy of Canada and the Allies for five brutal years, they were taken in.

No doubt they all paid a personal price for a time. The sound of slurs like “square head” and “kraut” was often in their ears. And “Nazi”, of course. I heard those words a lot in the neighbourhood where I grew up. They came from a strange source — adults. I knew they didn’t like these people. I just didn’t know why.

How Barack Obama Failed Black Americans

Born in 1953, I am a child of the waning years of legal segregation in the United States. My parents, on the other hand, spent about 40 years of their lives under Jim Crow, and all of my grandparents lived most of their lives under official American apartheid. At the time of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008, my mother and all four of my grandparents were deceased. But my father was alive and well—and absolutely thrilled to have lived to see the election of a black man as president of the United States. Usually deeply cynical about American politics and politicians, my dad could not comprehend my deep reservations about Barack Obama’s leadership. Indeed, he viewed any criticism of Obama as bringing aid and comfort to white supremacists.

Keith Ellison Says He Is Ready to Fight for Democracy in North Carolina—and Across America

There is, unfortunately, nothing new about the assault on democracy that is playing out in North Carolina. But Democrats need to make a new commitment to defending democracy—and Congressman Keith Ellison is giving voice to that commitment.

Promising an all-out fight against efforts by North Carolina Republicans to mangle the message of the 2016 election in their state—by dramatically disempowering a newly elected Democratic governor—the contender for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is proposing to remake the Democratic Party as an aggressive force not just for big-“D” Democratic candidates but for small-“d” democratic renewal.

Obama Administration Allows UN Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements To Pass

WASHINGTON ― The U.S. on Friday abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council motion condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories ― a break with the administration’s tradition of shielding Israel from critical resolutions.

The resolution, sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela, passed with 14 countries in favor and the U.S. abstaining.

Putin Says Democrats Sore Losers, Praises Trump

Vladimir Putin praised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, saying he had his finger on the pulse of U.S. society, and launched a scathing attack on the Democrats, saying they had forgotten the meaning of their own name and were sore losers.

Speaking at his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia’s president said that only Russia had believed that Trump would become the next president of the United States, but that did not mean the Democrats had the right to blame him for their defeat.

These Professors Make More Than a Thousand Bucks an Hour Peddling Mega-Mergers

If the government ends up approving the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger, credit won't necessarily belong to the executives, bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists pushing for the deal. More likely, it will be due to the professors.

A serial acquirer, AT&T must persuade the government to allow every major deal. Again and again, the company has relied on economists from America's top universities to make its case before the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission. Moonlighting for a consulting firm named Compass Lexecon, they represented AT&T when it bought Centennial, DirecTV, and Leap Wireless; and when it tried unsuccessfully to absorb T-Mobile. And now AT&T and Time Warner have hired three top Compass Lexecon economists to counter criticism that the giant deal would harm consumers and concentrate too much media power in one company.

Civil Rights Lawyer Gives Brilliant Response to Bill O'Reilly's 'White Establishment' Rant

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly dedicated his Tuesday night "Talking Points Memo" to a rant on the Electoral College and Democrats' aims to abolish it. “'Talking Points' believes this is all about race," he concluded, saying the Democratic Party and what he calls the left, “want power taken away from the white establishment" and "a profound change in the way America is run."

O'Reilly's comments were met with a great deal of controversy, as discussed on a CNN panel moderated by Don Lemon the following night.