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The photographer Moises Saman, who has covered the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war for the magazine, traveled to Iraq in March to take photographs to accompany Dexter Filkins’s piece in this week’s issue:
Above: Children in a field in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, a predominantly Shiite slum. All photographs from March, 2014.
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The photographer Moises Saman, who has covered the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war for the magazine, traveled to Iraq in March to take photographs to accompany Dexter Filkins’s piece in this week’s issue:

Above: Children in a field in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, a predominantly Shiite slum. All photographs from March, 2014.


Sean Hannity, Asshole of the Day for April 22, 2014

By The Daily Edge

Sean Hannity loves to play the good Catholic. For example, he’s happy to talk about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. And he loves to talk about the need for Christians to “serve others.”

Of course, the Lord Hannity draws the line at the idea that HE would ever wash anyone’s feet. He’s NOT that good a Catholic, hahaha.

But where he really loses the plot is with the idea that the Government should do anything to help feed the poor. After all, we’ve heard from Reaganomists like Hannity for 30 years that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down and we won’t need no stinking Uncle Sugar to feed us and we shouldn’t expect to rely on Medicare when we get older, either.

Of course, the facts, don’t actually bear that out. We now know that Reaganomics have destroyed the middle class and made America’s poor WORSE off than many of those socialist, vacation-loving European countries. (That story’s here: )

To Hannity, the biggest sin you can make as a Catholic is to become a nun like Sister Simone Campbell, devote your life to studying the Bible, and then actually try to be like Jesus and speak up for the poor. Because if you do all that, then, like a good Catholic, you’d have to denounce Paul Ryan’s reverse-Robin-Hood plan to gut $5.3 TRILLION from programs to help the poorest Americans, while handing $4.3 TRILLION in tax cuts to the already rich. 

In Hannity’s sick, twisted mind that qualifies you as a communist. This guy’s the epitome of a religious hypocrite. And a total asshole.

Full story:

Sean Hannity’s previous Asshole of the Day win:


Dizzy Gillespie for President: When politics was a groovier thing 

There are many reasons to remember Dizzy Gillespie. His look, for one thing: the horn-rimmed glasses, pouched-out frog cheeks, and that trumpet, bent up at a 45-degree angle. The ground floor inventor of bebop, he had an unforgettable sound, a mastery of harmonic invention and implied chords, firing off fusillades of rhythmic phrasing. Gillespie was smart. He was funny. He played with Charlie Parker and influenced Miles Davis. Fifty years ago, he also ran for president.

It started as a joke, as so many serious things do. His booking agency had some “Dizzy Gillespie for president” buttons made around 1960, because, you see, it’s funny. Somebody even asked Gillespie why a black jazzman — a permanent member of the underclass if there ever was one — would even think of trying for the job. “Because we need one,” he said. 

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The Supreme Court Doesn't Like Aereo–But Is Worried About Declaring It Illegal


The Supreme Court justices were critical of the Internet video service Aereo during oral arguments Tuesday—but they appeared unsure how to rule.

The justices worried that if they declare Aereo illegal, it could throw other major services, such as “cloud” storage providers, into jeopardy.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he was “nervous” about siding with TV broadcasters, who claim that Aereo is stealing their content.


"This is really hard for me," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.

Aereo allows subscribers to watch and record local TV broadcasts on their computers, tablets, phones, and Internet-connected TVs for as little as $8 per month. The problem is that unlike cable providers, Aereo doesn’t pay the TV stations for their content.

Everyone has the right to access over-the-air TV channels using an antenna. Aereo calls itself a “modern-day television antenna and DVR.” But Aereo subscribers don’t have antenna arms sticking out of their computers. Instead, Aereo uses a cluster of thousands of tiny antennas to deliver video over the Internet to all of the subscribers in an area. Technically, subscribers are renting access to one of those antennas.

ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox all sued, claiming Aereo is infringing on their copyrighted material. Paul Clement, an attorney for the TV networks, said Aereo is just trying to use a trick to evade copyright law.

"If all they have is a gimmick, then they probably will go out of business, and no one should cry a tear," Clement said when he was asked what would happen to Aereo if the court sided with him.

"Your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with," Chief Justice John Roberts said to Aereo’s attorney, David Frederick. 

(Stephanie Stamm)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg worried that siding with Aereo could violate international obligations under copyright treaties.

"You’re the only player so far that doesn’t pay any royalties at any stage," Ginsburg said to Frederick.

But Frederick argued the company is only an “equipment provider.” RadioShack doesn’t infringe on any copyrights by selling its products, he said.

Frederick argued that for legal purposes, Aereo’s business would be no different if it installed antennas and DVRs and then charged a monthly rental fee.

He warned that if the court sides with the TV networks, it could devastate the cloud computing industry. Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Dropbox also allow consumers to store copyrighted material on their servers. Frederick said the cloud companies are “freaked out about this case.” 

But Clement said the difference between legitimate cloud storage sites and Aereo is like the difference between a valet service and a car dealership. Consumers need to already have a car to use a valet service. Because Aereo is providing material to consumers in the first place, it should have to pay for it (just like a car dealership would), Clement said.

Breyer said that even after reading the briefs in the case, he remains confused.

"That isn’t your problem, but it might turn out to be," Breyer said to Aereo’s attorney.

Source: Brendan Sasso for National Journal

Oklahoma's Governor Has Quietly Passed a Bill With Devastating Consequences for Young People


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill last Monday banning cities in the state from establishing a mandatory minimum wage or requiring employers to provide a mandatory minimum number of paid sick or leave days. Any existing or future ordinances regarding these issues would be considered null and void.

With this perfunctory stroke of her pen, Fallin claimed that raising the minimum wage would “drive businesses to other communities and states and would raise prices for consumers.” The conservative governor, elected in 2010, went on to assert that most minimum wage-earners are “young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs.”

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly accurate, governor. And even if it were, do young, single people not deserve a living wage? Regardless, the following are a few important facts Fallin and her advisers apparently failed to recognize — or perhaps, willfully ignored — during the minimum-wage debate. 

1. The average age of minimum-wage workers in this country is 35, a third of them are over 40 and 88% are over 20. Low-wage workers are not a teenage demographic; these are primarily people struggling to support themselves and loved ones. Further, since the average age of Millennials is 24, our generation falls directly in the line of fire.

2. More than half (55%) of these workers are full time and nearly half (44%) have at least attended college. Low-wage workers are not lazy or stupid; they are hard-working and smart enough to know their hourly worth shouldn’t amount to the Starbucks drink their customer is holding.

3. Almost a third of these workers have children. At a typical figure of $10 per hour, the average cost of baby-sitting is far greater than minimum wage, and so, it’s seemingly a miracle the person serving your fast food has the means to exist, let alone be present, to take your order.

4. Fallin claims businesses will move if put under pressure to pay their employees more, yet 21 states (and D.C.) already have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate, 20 — including Oklahoma — set their minimum wage by referencing the federal rate and of the nine states that have a lower (or no) minimum wage, Oklahoma shares a border with just one (out of six neighboring states). There is little to no economic incentive for businesses based in Oklahoma to move.

5. Fallin may claim that businesses will move, but the cost of doing business in Oklahoma makes it the second best state for businesses in the country, which is not something an increased labor cost will irreparably harm.

6. Yet, that same study ranks Oklahoma 45th in quality of life and 48th in education. If we’re going to praise free-market values, tell me why I should work in Oklahoma if there are 47 other states offering better living conditions and 44 states that have better schools for my children to attend, both of which are directly impacted by household earnings.

7. Fallin has a history of slamming big government and championing a philosophy of keeping politics local, which is a valid view. So, I would love for her to explain why it’s fine for a state government to control what cities can and can’t do for their communities, but the federal government applying the same approach is a gross overreach.

8. Despite the vast majority of minimum-wage workers being adults, there’s no evidence Fallin has been among them as either an adult or teenager. Both her parents served terms as mayor of Tecumseh, Okla., and she was fortunate enough to attend college out of high school. If anyone can provide proof Fallin had to support herself with a minimum-wage income, I will readily apologize for the assumption.

9. Further, there is no substantial evidence that increasing the minimum wage throughout our country’s history has led to an adverse effect on job creation. None. Zero.

10. Finally, while paying workers more fails to hurt the economy, the health of workers certainly does. Oklahoma ranks 44th nationally in the health of its citizens. If one was to believe this doesn’t impact quality of life — and by extension, economic growth — that person (or persons) would be sorely mistaken.

Source: Charles Clymer for Policy Mic

States that Opted Out of the Medicaid Expansion Have the Worst of Both Worlds


Lawmakers in Georgia and Kansas have just passed bills that will effectively prevent Medicaid from expanding in those states, according to Talking Points Memo. And yet, both states saw an increase in Medicaid enrollments this year. The states, along with several others that declined the expansion, will enjoy the worst parts of Medicaid: increased costs from new enrollees who were already eligible for Medicaid and thousands of uninsured residents still in the coverage gap. 

The new bills would require any Medicaid expansion to be explicitly approved by the state’s (likely) Republican legislature. So even if Democrats win the governor’s race this year, they won’t be able to approve the expansion. That means roughly 400,000 Georgians and 77,000 Kansans will remain without Medicaid coverage for the foreseeable future. But as Bill Toland at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, the overall increase in Medicaid enrollment in states that opted out means that states like Kansas and Georgia will still end up insuring more people, but without 100 percent federal support. “It’s a positive for health overhaul advocates,” Toland writes. “But for those who were against ‘Obamacare’ to begin with, it’s a case study in unintended consequences since new enrollees will mean new expenses for the state.” 

For years Obamacare critics have been worried about the “woodwork effect” — the theory that the publicity surrounding the Affordable Care Act (and the individual mandate) would drive people who were already eligible for Medicaid into the program. Those people would come out of the woodwork, costing states money — on average, the federal government foots the bill for just 60 percent of non-expansion Medicaid enrollees. "The state’s complaint is, ‘We said we would cover these people and now we’re going to have to actually cover them and pay for them,’" Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told The Huffington Post in 2012.

Toland notes that so far the woodwork effect isn’t consistent, but states like Montana, Idaho and Florida saw 6 and 7 percent increases, according to the most recent Medicaid enrollment report. Georgia saw a 1.4 percent increase, which works out to 23,947 new enrollees between the July-September 2013 average and February 2014 numbers. Kansas saw 17,295 more enrollees, or 4.3 percent. The 477,000 who aren’t getting insured this year would have cost a lot less.

Source: Arit John for The Wire


Cardinal Dolan, Asshole of the Day for April 21, 2014

by TeaPartyCat ()

Cardinal Dolan is the most prominent Catholic in America*, being Archbishop of New York, and president of the US Conference of Bishops. Aside from the Pope, he has the most say when it comes to the news on Catholics in this country.

So it matters when he gets things wrong, especially when he tries to influence public policy for the entire nation and not just inform the private decisions of his flock. And yet here he is dismissing the healthcare needs of women without understanding the science or medicine involved:

Is the ability to buy contraceptives, that are now widely available — my Lord, all you have to do is walk into a 7-11 or any shop on any street in America and have access to them — is that right to access those and have them paid for, is that such a towering good that it would suffocate the rights of conscience?

That would be Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, on Face the Nation yesterday. It was Dolan who, as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2010 until 2013, guided the bishops into a firm alliance with conservative evangelicals (and implicitly, with the Republican Party) in a crusade for “religious liberty” defined as the right of employers to refuse their employees insurance coverage for contraceptives—typically those they regard, in defiance of standard medical profession and scientific definitions, as “abortifacients.”

The problem is that what Cardinal Dolan wants to block are, among other things, IUDs. IUDs are effective, more effective than the condoms you can purchase at 7-11, but they are not cheap, nor can they be bought just anywhere. An IUD can cost $500-1000, but they last for years. And if an IUD is what your doctor thinks will work best and be best for you then why should Cardinal Dolan come between you and your doctor to decide you should stick with condoms or never having sex?

IUDs are the contraception covered under the mandate the Cardinal is fighting. The mandate doesn’t cover condoms or anything you can buy at 7-11. It’s only about the things that require a prescription. So his 7-11 comment is not germane, and demonstrates either that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or doesn’t care or, is trying to deceive people as to what this fight is really about.

And Cardinal Dolan’s influence over the healthcare choices of women aren’t just limited to the contraception mandate. The Catholic bishops are responsible for the Catholic hospitals in this country, and are limiting what treatments doctors are allowed to offer based on doctrine, not medicine, but they aren’t disclosing to the patients that other treatments and choices exist, so women can’t make informed decisions or know that they should get a second opinion or avoid Catholic hospitals altogether.

So, for pushing policies that limit women’s choices of contraception while refusing to educate himself on the medicine and science and costs involved, Cardinal Dolan is the Asshole of the Day.

It is Cardinal Dolan’s first time as Asshole of the Day.

Full story: Political Animal

*except perhaps for Colbert, who has often given himself the title of America’s most prominent Catholic.

And We're Expecting Them To Decide Legal Issues?!: Justice Scalia Might Not Totally Get How HBO Works


The Supreme Court heard arguments today in a very complex case concerning the technical details of television broadcast rights. So it might concerning that the Justice might not totally understand how TV works. 

The nation’s broadcast networks went to court to stop Aereo, a startup company that allows users to access over-the-air television shows on computers and mobile devices for $8 a month. The networks argue that Aereo’s service is infringing on broadcaster’s copyright, and the latter saying that it doesn’t, because the programs are already free to anyone with an antenna. It’s a somewhat complicated case that will turn on the Justices’ rather precise definitions of key technical terms. 

(Click through for a more in-depth look at the case).

This might be something they are not be fully equipped to do, based on some of the questioning we saw today. Specifically from Justice Antonin Scalia, who apparently did not know difference between HBO and regular old ABC.

According to the court transcript, Scalia made the faux pas when asking Aereo’s lawyer David Frederick whether the company could pick up non-local signals. Scalia asked, “I mean, you could take HBO right?,” before Frederick explained that “HBO is not done over the airwaves.” The distinction between over-the-air broadcast networks (which Aereo transmits) and the most popular premium cable channel (which they do not) is pretty key to their whole argument.

Justice Sotomayor (and maybe the lawyers) also seemed to lack certain information going into the case, per the transcript: 

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  So Roku is ­­ — Roku is paying a license for no reason. 

MR. CLEMENT:  I’m sorry? 

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  Roku is paying a license for no reason?  They sold me a piece of equipment. 

MR. CLEMENT:  I don’t know all the details of that particular piece of equipment.  

Or maybe she’s just showing off some tech savvy by dropping that she has a Roku. 

Source: Danielle Wiener-Bronner for The Wire

Two Mens' Executions Are Now a Game of Constitutional Hot Potato


The governor of Oklahoma, the state’s Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal of Appeals are not seeing eye-to-eye over who gets the right to stay two condemned inmates’ executions.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court stayed the executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, scheduled for today and next Tuesday, respectively. Lawyers for the men argued that the state’s refusal to tell them where it obtained the drugs to be used in their executions could cause them to suffer unduly. 

This all seems simple enough, but Oklahoma is unusual in that it has two Supreme Courts: one for civil cases (the Supreme Court) and one for criminal cases (the Court of Criminal Appeals). These courts have been trying for weeks to pass the jurisdiction over the case off to each other. Last Thursday, the Supreme Court declared that the Court of Criminal Appeals had to decide whether or not to issue the stay, as per the state’s constitution. On Friday, the Court of Criminal Appeals used that same constitution to argue that it did not have jurisdiction. In both decisions, the justices’ annoyance with their colleagues is obvious. The annual state court baseball game is going to be awkward this year. 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the case again, and this time, because the Court of Criminal Appeals “refused to exercise its rightfully placed jurisdiction and left this Court in an awkward position” after the Supreme Court “exercised our constitutional authority to determine the appropriate tribunal" (underline the court’s), the Supreme Court decided that it would have to make a decision because otherwise the inmates would have no court to appeal to at all, which is also unconstitutional. 

Now the executive branch of the state’s government is weighing in. Gov. Mary Fallin, who last week signed into law a ban on minimum wage increases, wrote today that while she respects the court, she doesn’t think it has “constitutional authority” to stay an execution and to allow it to do so would be violating that all-important state constitution that no one seems to know how to interpret. Also, she’d like to be re-elected (the primary is in June!) and knows that her voters are very much in support of the death penalty.

But Fallin must also know that to overrule the Supreme Court and deny the stay would open a whole new can of worms — the Supreme Court is the highest law of the state. So she decided to use her own constitutional powers to grant a stay of execution for Lockett, during which time the state’s attorney general will go to the Court of Criminal Appeals to see what they think. Again.

By the way, the attorney general told Tulsa World that he hopes the Supreme Court ”will recognize the gravity of the constitutional crisis created by their actions.” The constitutional crisis should pair well with the state’s current “self-inflicted budget crisis,” as the AP put it.

While the Supreme Court’s stay had no time limit, Fallin is giving Lockett just seven days. She didn’t say anything about Warner, whose execution is scheduled for next week if the Supreme Court’s stay is not upheld. Which means Oklahoma might have a very constitutional double execution next Tuesday. 

And no, we still don’t know where they got those drugs from.

Source: Sara Morrison for The Wire

The Supreme Court ruled today that police can pull drivers over based on anonymous tips, even if the cops don't witness any evidence of wrongdoing.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says an anonymous tip can be sufficient to justify a decision by police to pull a car over on suspicion of reckless or drunken driving.

The justices voted 5-4 Tuesday to uphold a traffic stop in northern California in which officers subsequently found marijuana in the vehicle. The officers themselves did not see any evidence of reckless driving.

Justice Clarence Thomas said the tip phoned in to 911 that a Ford pickup truck had run the caller off the road was sufficiently reliable to allow for the traffic stop without violating the driver’s constitutional rights.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent in which he called Thomas’ opinion “a freedom-destroying cocktail.”

BREAKING: GA Governor to sign sweeping "Guns Everywhere" bill; allows licensed owners to carry in more public places than any time in past century


Its official name is the “Safe Carry Protection Act.”

But critics are calling it the “Guns Everywhere Bill.”

At noon Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is scheduled to sign the sweeping legislation into law. One of the most permissive state gun laws in the nation, it will allow licensed owners to carry firearms into more public places than at any time in the past century, including bars and government buildings that don’t have security checkpoints.

The law also authorizes school districts to appoint staffers to carry firearms. It allows churches to “opt-in” if they want to allow weapons. Bars could already “opt-in” to allow weapons, but under the new law they must opt out if they want to bar weapons. Permit-holders who accidentally bring a gun to an airport security checkpoint will now be allowed to pick up their weapon and leave with no criminal penalty. (At Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a record 111 guns were found at TSA screening areas last year.)

Read a summary of the law’s main provisions here.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group co-founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, has called the legislation “the most extreme gun bill in America,” and mounted an aggressive campaign against it. So have other gun-control organizations, including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group started by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Frank Rotondo, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, has blasted the law. “Police officers do not want more people carrying guns on the street,” said Rotondo, “particularly police officers in inner city areas.”

Georgia’s New Gun Law Will Let Weapons Be Carried in More Public Places


But Georgia state Rep. Rick Jasperse (R.-Jasper), who introduced the bill, insisted that it was not “extreme,” adding that it was simply about restoring Second Amendment rights and allowing licensed gun owners to carry their weapons in more places.

"When we limit a Georgian’s ability to carry a weapon — to defend themselves — we’re empowering the bad guys," Jasperse said.

When state lawmakers passed HB 60 on March 20 – the last day of the legislative session – the National Rifle Association called it a “historic victory for the Second Amendment.”

Deal, a Georgia Republican running for his second term this fall and facing a GOP primary challenge on May 20, had not previously taken a public stance on the bill before announcing he would sign the bill at the event Wednesday in Ellijay, Ga.

But many political observers noted a veto was highly unlikely, since Deal would risk alienating his conservative base. And in a state that values the right to bear arms, even Deal’s gubernatorial opponent, Democratic state senator Jason Carter – the grandson of President Jimmy Carter – voted for the bill. (Carter’s office says that he helped strip the bill of some of its more controversial provisions, like allowing guns on college campuses.)

Truly Extreme?

Opponents, like Stephanie Stone of Atlanta, argue the law misinterprets the Second Amendment and will promote a culture of guns.

"I think this bill is reckless,” she said. “I think it’s dangerous and irresponsible."

Stone’s only son, Paul Sampleton, was shot and killed in an armed robbery a year and a half ago.

"It’s hard to see a 14-year-old kid who had so much life in him — with so much to offer the world – gone," Stone said.

Image: Paul Sampleton, right, with his mother Stephanie Stone.COURTESY STEPHANIE STONE

Paul Sampleton, right, with his mother Stephanie Stone. Paul was shot and killed in an armed robbery.

Some law enforcement groups are also slamming the bill for a provision that prevents officers from “detaining a person for the sole purpose of investigating whether such a person has a weapons carry license.”

Both sides of the issue, however, are interpreting portions of the bill in very different ways.

The bill’s detractors are emphasizing a provision that they argue will expand Georgia’s “stand your ground” law, allowing felons to use to claim self-defense if they feel threatened and kill someone with a gun. Those opponents cite a Georgia Senate Research Office analysis of the bill.

But the bill’s backers point out that although felons could try to mount a “stand your ground” defense, a judge ultimately decides whether that defense holds up in court.

Jerry Henry, the executive director of Georgia Carry, whose members lobbied for the bill, said that when it comes to “stand your ground,” this bill has “nothing new.” Felons could claim a “stand your ground” defense under previous law, he said, if they defended themselves using a baseball bat, for example.

Jasperse, the bill’s co-sponsor, said the Senate Research Office’s analysis misinterpreted the law.

Up in Arms

Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, the gun debate has escalated.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, more than 1,500 gun-related bills were introduced around the country last year, though only 123 became law.

So far this year, 10 states have enacted laws strengthening gun regulations, the Law Center reports. Eight states have loosened some regulations.

Following the governor’s signing ceremony, Georgia will become the ninth. Its new law will take effect July 1.

Source: Gabe Gutierrez for NBC News

Everything You Need To Know About The Northwestern Football Case And If College Athletes Will Get Paid


Last month, a regional National Labor Relations Board ruled that football players at Northwestern University have the right to unionize. This set up a huge potential national battle: Because if players can unionize, players can demand to be paid.

But the case has a lot of different factors and outcomes on the table. Here’s everything you could possibly need to know about the case and what’s probably going to happen.

1. Are college athletes going to get paid?

Not sure yet.

2. But the Northwestern case has to do with whether college athletes get paid, right?

Sort of. Last month a regional version of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which handles union regulations for private businesses, ruled football players at Northwestern University qualify as employees and can join a union, if they wanted to.

3. What does that have to do with getting paid?

If college athletes can join a union, then they could collectively bargain with universities and demand wages, thus potentially getting paid. As of now, they say they don’t want wages, but once they unionize, the players would have the right to ask for them.

But just because they have the right to ask doesn’t mean they necessarily would. And just because they ask for wages doesn’t mean they’d necessarily get them.

4. So the football players at Northwestern are in a union now?

Not yet, and it might not happen at all. On Friday, the team will vote on whether they want to unionize. If they vote yes, they’d be joining the College Athletes Players Association, which is headed up in part by former Northwestern QB Kain Colter. The United Steelworkers is backing that union along with the National College Players Association.

But we probably won’t know whether the Northwestern players vote to join the union for at least a couple months. After the regional NLRB board ruled the players could unionize, the university appealed the decision to the national NLRB — and the results of the union election will be sealed if the national board takes up the case. So we probably won’t know what the Northwestern players decide for a while.

5. Is the national NLRB board going to take up the case?

Almost definitely. The question of whether college athletes at private universities can join unions and collectively bargain has major consequences for the NCAA and for the way those universities conduct business.

6. What would they be ruling on?

The national NLRB would rule on whether college athletes at private universities have the right to unionize.

7. What about athletes at, like, Kentucky or Ohio State?

This doesn’t extend to them. Athletes at public schools have to examine each individual state’s labor laws to figure out how to proceed, a process the United Steelworkers is already getting into.

8. What happens if the national NLRB doesn’t take the case?

If the national NLRB doesn’t take up the case, it would effectively mean the national board supports the lower, regional board’s ruling. Or, it would mean the Northwestern football players would be able to unionize. How that would affect other private universities around the country, or even other teams at the school, remains unclear.

9. So if the national NLRB doesn’t take up the case, and the players vote to unionize, they’re in the union?


But the catch here is Northwestern can, and likely will, still refuse to bargain with them. The players (the union) would then say the school is not bargaining in good faith and now the case would go to court. From there, the case could take years to resolve and could possibly go as high as the Supreme Court.

10. Is that all?

Everything You Need To Know About The Northwestern Football Case And If College Athletes Will Get Paid

There are still a few more cases.

11. OK, let’s say all this stuff happens: The national NLRB takes up the case, rules in favor of the union, and the players vote to join the union. What happens then?

This is the situation the union is hoping for — but it would still likely lead to a lengthy court battle.

It’ll probably take several months for the NLRB to reach a decision, which means the ballots from the election would remain sealed until the decision is announced. But if the NLRB rules in favor of the union, and the players join, the players would want to start bargaining with the school. And then, again, the case likely goes court.

12. Last one: What happens if the national NLRB takes up the case, but rules against the union?

This is one of the trickier legal cases because the union has a much narrower window to appeal for judicial review in this case, according to Gerald Berendt, a professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Any ballots that were cast would likely remain sealed, since the players can’t actually vote for a union they weren’t allowed to form in the first place. The ballots likely wouldn’t be destroyed, though, because the union would still have a little-used legal tactic to try to overturn the NLRB. The union could claim the NLRB went beyond the scope of its powers by denying the union their rights and appeal that way. It’s a rarely used tactic, Berendt said, and it’s unclear how successful it would be.

13. Jeez, this can get complicated.

Yeah, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes with this. But lots of lawyers are pretty excited about it!

14. So this is going to court?

Yeah, probably.

15. And we won’t even know if the Northwestern players actually want to join a union for a months?


16. And we won’t know the final answers on this stuff for a long time?


17. But, after the vote, decision, and a likely long, long court battle, it’s possible that athletes at private schools could join unions and then demand wages from the schools they play for?

Yes, that could happen.

But basically, it’s important to remember these are hypotheticals and nobody knows for sure how this will turn out.

But basically, it's important to remember these are hypotheticals and nobody knows for sure how this will turn out.
Getty Images

And it can be a long, long time before anyone does.

Source: Jacob Fischler for Buzzfeed

Sean Hannity Pulls The Bill Ayers And Cat Stevens Cards To Attack Jon Stewart


So how desperate is Sean Hannity to get back as The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart after he mocked his insane coverage from this Monday, where he was whipping up the wingnuts over “welfare rancher” Cliven Bundy — and managed to make Glenn Beck look like a “voice of reason” in comparison?

Desperate enough that he decided to whip out the Bill Ayers and Cat Stevens cards to go after Stewart. I kid you not. I hate to break it to Hannity, but any time you decide to get into a pissing match with a professional comedian, you’re going to lose. Just ask your buddy Eric Bolling how well attacking Stewart worked out for him.

If Stewart responds to Hannity, I expect a similar response to the one we got from Bolling coming from Hannity — Stewart being taken out of context, denial, and praying none of his brain dead viewers ever actually watch The Daily Show.

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Leaked Emails From American University Frat Reveal Prevalence of Rape Culture in U.S. Capital [TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Rape Culture, Rape Enablism, Rape Apologism, Victim Blaming, Victim Shaming, Sexism, Misogyny, Homophobia, Racism, Ethnocentrism, White Privilege, Dehumanization of Women, Objectification of Women, Abuse Culture, Abuse Enablism, Abuse Apologism, Islamophobia]


NOTE: Before you shake your head at the sheer amount of trigger warnings on this post, you will find out below that they are all warranted. What follows is utterly appalling and disgusting. It is an inside look at how rape culture thrives in some fraternities.

Wouldn’t it be fun to know what men in fraternities talk about when the women aren’t around? Thanks to 70 pages of horrifying leaked emails from an ”secret fraternity” called Epsilon Iota at American University, we don’t have to imagine what that’s like. We can see it unfold before our eyes.

Brilliant reporting by Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel lets us in on this secret fraternity, the members of which almost exclusively refer to women as “[insert adjective] bitches.” They still use the word “faggot” profusely and refer to non-consensual sexual activity as a way to get even with “bitches.” The frat bros also consistently use the term “plowing” as a distorted synonym for sex, implying that intercourse with a woman can only be done aggressively and domineeringly.

In these internal communications, sex and rape are almost indistinguishable. 

In one email from March, the fraternity members discuss ways of getting girls at their pre-parties to “feel more relaxed and safe” so that the ”bitch [is] into the right state of intoxication so that plows will be raining all over the place.”

Another email chain outlines the murky details of a sexual assault incident where the alleged victim is called a “lying cunt.” Another man comments on how rape is how “dumb bitches” eventually learn “their place.”

Flipping through these correspondences in their entirety is a crude reminder of the ubiquity of toxic masculinity in fraternities where the dehumanization of women is not only accepted — it’s encouraged.

Even when allegations surface about a physical assault against female students, the fraternity members’ biggest concern was their reputation so that women (seen as purely transactional) would still come to their rapey parties. “Something needs to be done so bitches will still go to our parties,” one fraternity brother writes.

Here’s how one guy responds:

Ironically, one of the members responsible for some of the most degrading comments towards women, like saying he conquered a “bitch” just “like France in Africa,” uses an automatic signature that reads “love and respect,” suggesting that such concepts extend to half the population.

In another email, members are throwing around T-shirt ideas that are all more preposterous than the other. 

According to the Fratergrate Tumblr, Epsilon Iota’s fraternity privileges were revoked in 2001, which means the institution is more of an “underground frat” that has continued to operate unofficially. It hasn’t been recognized by school authorities for more than 10 years, which as Erin Gloria Ryan puts it, makes them a ”freelance club of douchebags pretending to be a fraternity that has operated unchecked like a raging herpes outbreak on AU’s upper lip for more than a decade.” They might not have formal recognition from the university but they still have a listserv, EI letters, have a frat house and parties. 

That a secret fraternity is a breeding ground for rape culture is worrisome, but that it’s happening right in our nation’s capital makes that even harder to stomach. According to Erin Gloria Ryan’s research, one of the men in this email chain now works for a “prominent congressman.” Judging by how much rape culture permeates the political scene in the U.S., with influential politicians saying things like, “Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it,” or that certain forms of sexual assault should be legal, it’s no surprise many women still feel like DC will never stop being an old boys club. Of course not all men (or fraternities) promote rape, but it’s troubling to see so many that do.

Thankfully, anti-rape activists aren’t standing for this. American University President Neil Kerwin has launched a full-blown investigation and issued a statement explaining that the leaked communications “cannot be viewed as an isolated set of circumstances,” and that they rather raise “broader concerns about student conduct and high risk and harmful behaviors.” petition organized by students is also demanding that the underground fraternity be expelled. It already has almost 1,000 signatures. 

It’s worth noting that only a small portion of the frat’s communications were leaked, which suggests that there’s more disgusting information where that came from. It won’t be surprising if the investigation uncovers more troubling facts about Epsilon Iota. 

With the announcement of the investigation coming on the heels of the Steubenville coach getting a painfully small sentence of 10 days for trying to protect the identity of rapists, all eyes will be on American University. Let’s hope no victims fell prey to the members of Epsilon Iota, although these leaked emails suggest that this may be wishful thinking.

Source: Elizabeth Plank for Policy Mic

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