UN Report: New US War in Iraq and Syria Attracting Jihadists in Droves

Analysis suggests “explosion of jihadist enthusiasm” has followed aggressive military action by US and its allies by Jon Queally – A report by the United Nations, obtained by the Guardian newspaper, reveals that foreign jihadist fighters are flocking to battlefields in Iraq and Syria on an “unprecedented scale” since the United States and other allies began a wave of military operations in those countries over the last several months. According to the Guardian’s Spencer Ackermann, the UN report finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside theIslamic State (Isis) and similar extremist groups. They come from more than 80 countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaida”. The UN said it was uncertain whether al-Qaida would benefit from the surge. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida who booted Isis out of his organisation, “appears to be...

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Three Days In Nashville Talking To Southern Baptists About Homosexuality

by  ZACK FORD – The Southern Baptist Convention is the U.S.’s largest Christian denomination after the Catholic Church, with some 16 million members and over 45,000 congregations, concentrated mostly in the South. This week in Nashville, the Convention’s public policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), hosted its first-ever national conference, focusing on “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage,” and ThinkProgress was there. The Convention’s theology on homosexuality has not changed. The Bible, as they read it, declares homosexual behavior to be sexual immorality, and there was no debate about this tenet among any of the religious leaders who spoke at the conference. But the world has changed in its understanding and acceptance of people with same-sex orientations, and the Convention has been affected by these changes. The conversations this week indicated new ways that these evangelical Christians are working to negotiate their beliefs. If someone...

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Canadian National Security Bill May Curtail Civil Liberties, Watchdogs Warn

‘We must uphold these fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada’s democracy,’ privacy commissioners say by Deirdre Fulton – In the wake of last week’s attacks that killed two soldiers in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, privacy watchdogs fear that calls to expand the powers of Canadian police and intelligence agencies in the name of national security will curb personal freedoms. The Conservative government on Monday unveiled a new bill—Bill C-44, or the ‘Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act’—to beef up eavesdropping and data collection powers as well as protection for secret agents. Among other things, the bill gives the Canadian Security Intelligence System (CSIS) more powers of surveillance and extends explicit authority to Canada’s spy agency to operate “within or outside Canada.” This would allow the agency to share information on suspected Canadian terrorists abroad with members of the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ group of countries—the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand....

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House Republicans Suffer Another Blow To Their Anti-Obama Lawsuit As Second Law Firm Backs Out

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – House Republicans just can’t catch a break lately. After cowardly delaying their lawsuit against President Obama until after Election Day, the GOP has now lost their second law firm. Apparently, the lawsuit is just so politically toxic that no law firm dares to touch it, not to mention the fact that no attorney wants to be laughed out of court. And so, William A. Burck and his law firm Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, and Sullivan have decided that House Republicans and their frivolous lawsuit is no longer worth the time, effort, and money to litigate. This is the second law firm to quit on the House GOP since they voted to approve of the lawsuit in July. Will Republicans take the hint already and drop their case? Of course not. Boehner toady Kevin Smith said in an email that Republicans will continue their lawsuit and accused...

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Ten Things You Should Know Before Voting (Or Deciding Not To)

by John Atcheson – For going on 30 years now, politicians in general and Republicans in particular, have been using a variety of wag-the-dog issues based on fear, bigotry, and hatred to distract, deceive, or inflame voters. The end game is ignorance – not stupidity, but lack of awareness or knowledge – of how badly they are screwing us. Let’s look at some of the scare tactics they’re using and some of the truths they’re desperately trying to hide. 1.) Ebola is a bogyeman: The press, pundits and conservatives are brandishing Ebola like an all-purpose bogeyman to stoke up fear, to assign blame, and to distract the electorate.  Congressional Republicans even had a hearing in which they blamed Obama for Ebola.  Really, they did.  The irony is, without budget cuts from Republicans, it is likely that we would have a vaccine for Ebola on hand by now, according to the head...

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Lawsuit Aims to Break Arizona’s Secrecy Over Experimental Lethal Injections

Media outlets charge public has “right” to know how state is conducting executions, following man’s prolonged and grisly death at hands of Arizona authorities by Sarah Lazare – Major media organizations have levied a federal lawsuit to force Arizona to break its secrecy around lethal injections by revealing the drugs and processes used to kill people, because the public has the “right” to know. “By withholding information about the source, composition, and quality of the drugs it uses for lethal injection executions, as well as the qualifications of those chosen to administer the drugs, the State of Arizona has closed critical governmental proceedings that have historically been open to the public and undermined the public’s ability to ensure the positive functioning of government,” reads the complaint, which was filed on behalf of the Guardian, the Associated Press, and major Arizona news outlets—the Arizona Republic,KPNX-TV Channel 12, KPHO Broadcasting Corporation, and the Arizona...

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Heading into Midterms, Americans Still as Bummed Out as They Were in 2012, 2010

by DREW DESILVER – With Election Day fast approaching, Americans are feeling somewhat better this year about the national economy than they were the past two election cycles — a sentiment borne out by improvements in several key indicators. But by many other measures, their collective mood hasn’t really improved. Fact Tank dug through the Pew Research Center survey archives to compare public sentiment about the economy and elected leaders today with the same metrics at comparable periods before the federal elections of 2012 and 2010. Here’s a rundown of what we learned: More people are feeling positively about the U.S. economy, though that isn’t saying much. In the most recent Pew Research Center poll from earlier this month, 21% described the economy as “excellent” or “good,” well ahead of sentiment in October 2010 (8%) and September 2012 (13%). Not only has unemployment fallen from 9.5% in September 2010 (the last reading...

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The Terrible Ordeal One Texas Man Went Through Just To Learn He Wouldn’t Be Able To Vote

by  IAN MILLHISER – Texan Eric Kennie has voted in every single general election since his 18th birthday — his parents raised him to understand the importance of the right to vote for African Americans like himself. Yet Kennie will not be voting in next week’s election. He can’t, thanks to Texas’s new voter ID law. The details of the ordeal Kennie faced in order to exercise his right to vote is chronicled in a must-read piece by the Guardian‘s Ed Pilkington. Because Kennie doesn’t drive, he doesn’t have a driver’s license. That not only means that he lacks one of the few forms of ID Texas will accept at the polls, it also means that he has no easy way to bring himself to the government office that issues IDs to people in his position. Instead, he spent four hours per round trip, transferring to three different buses along...

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Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Being Exposed in Investigation

By Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos – Back in 2011, Armando Gutierrez was heading to Las Vegas with friends and close to $5000 in cash from his tax refund. Gutierrez was pulled over by sheriff’s deputy Charley Armendariz. Deputy Charley Armendariz found that the driver and another passenger had a small amount of pot and spotted nearly $5,000 in the glove box. He seized the money and arrested Gutierrez for having an outstanding warrant for fishing without a license, the police report said. Gutierrez spent about 10 hours in jail and wasn’t charged with a crime arising from the traffic stop. But he didn’t get his money until nine months later — and only after a series of emails were sent to the deputy, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office and others. What’s important to note here is that Gutierrez wasn’t charged with anything. Also, after 9 months of trying...

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Sweden Recognizes State of Palestine

Israel recalls its ambassador following move Swedish foreign minister hopes “will show the way for others” Sweden has officially recognized the state of Palestine, Stockholm’s foreign minister has said, less than a month after the government announced its intention to make the unprecedented move.The Palestinians cheered Thursday’s move, while Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden for consultations. Israel also summoned Sweden’s ambassador to protest and express disappointment. Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, told Al Jazeera that recognising Palestine, and the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, would put each party on a level playing field and help move peace talks forward. “It is important to support those who believe in negotiations and not violence,” she said. “This will give hope to young Palestinians and Israelis that there is an alternative to violence.” President Abbas hailed the “brave and historic” move to officially recognise the state of Palestine, his spokesman told the AFP...

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In Midterm Elections Farce, Public Ignored by Both Parties

by Michael Meurer, Truthout | Op-Ed – As another midterm election grinds to a close, with campaign spending set to break the $3.6 billion record of 2010, it is difficult to read newspapers such as The Washington Post as anything but farce. Voter turnout is expected to be lower than turnout during the 2006 or 2010 midterms. Evidently hoping to pump up readership among the disaffected, the Post has resorted to trivializing headlines such as “Obama, the pariah president,” “Obama is scaring women” and “Bloomberg Politics deletes Obama chicken photo tweet,” the latter about possible racial overtones involved in publishing a photo of the White House chef’s specially prepared chicken wings. In addition to an always-present racial subtext with Obama, the central message of this election from media outlets such as the Post is that an ineffectual and unpopular president is taking down the hapless Democrats he putatively leads....

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Top 10 Epic Reasons Why Americans Should Give a Shit About Voting

Voting – or not voting – in some way impacts almost every aspect of our lives, including whom we can love, our bodies, our food, our air and water. Voting is important in spite of our fundamentally corrupt political system by Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Truthout | News Analysis – Pop icon Russell Brand raised a ruckus last year when he exhorted, “Don’t vote” to millions of his fans; a radical political directive under fire even by the likes of Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten. But Brand was just preaching to the choir. Many Americans, particularly the young, believe that voting is an exercise in futility, or worse, an immoral display of support for a fundamentally corrupt political system. Far more appealing is to build a diverse grassroots movement – organically and horizontally – to change our consciousness, our lifestyles, the way we grow our food, harness our energy,...

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‘GET TO THE POLLS’ Click Here for All You Need to Know

Pew Partners with The Internet Association to Help Voters ‘Get to the Polls’ Pew Partners with The Internet Association to Help Voters ‘Get to the Polls’ With the U.S. midterm elections less than two weeks away, The Internet Association and The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Voting Information Project, in conjunction with the world’s leading technology companies, are launching “Get to the Polls” (www.gettothepolls.com) to help voters find all the information they need before voting Nov. 4. Get to the Polls, powered by the Google Civic Information application programming interface, or API, will allow voters to find their official polling place, hours of operation, and full ballot summary based on their residential address. “We joined forces with The Internet Association and technology powerhouses from across the Web to make official election information available where people look for it most—online and on mobile devices,” said Zach Markovits, who manages Pew’s Voting Information Project,...

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This Nation of Cowards

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – It is likely that most of us, myself included, will live out our entire lives and die without ever meeting someone who willingly and purposefully volunteers to spend their vacation thousands of miles away, tending to people with diseases that make the talking heads on CNN and Fox want to hide under the bed. Kaci Hickox, a nurse from Maine who graduated from Johns Hopkins, is one such person. In 2010, Hickox traveled overseas with the organization Doctors Without Borders to treat people suffering from yellow fever, one of several trips she made with that organization. Until last Friday, she was in Sierra Leone for a month, spending her vacation time helping to treat people infected with Ebola, the virus that has been burning through western Africa at an unprecedented rate. Kaci Hickox went to one of the most unstable countries...

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What Will Republicans Do If WHEN They Win the Senate? A Limited-Govt Scenario

by Nick Gillespie – It’s looking increasingly likely that the GOP will take control of the Senate. The New York Times’ model gives Republicans a 65 percent chance of gaining a majority and Five Thirty Eight is giving them a 62 percent shot. “Midterm momentum belongs to GOP” says The Washington Post, whose latest poll with ABC News finds that even Hispanics, often the target of Republican immigrant-bashing, are up for the change. So what might Republicans actually do if they have majorities in both houses of Congress? If past behavior is any indication of future performance, the short and likely answer is: screw it all up. The Wash Post’s “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin offers up advice, much of which makes sense. She says the GOP should think about legislation as belonging to one of two piles. The first is stuff that “enjoys bipartisan support.” The second includes things “the GOP...

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Congressional Wingnut Caucus Unveils Post-election Agenda and it’s Exactly What you Expect

by Jed Lewison – The election is next Tuesday, but conservative House and Senate Republicans have already established an agenda for the upcoming Congress if their party manages to reclaim control of the Senate and you won’t be surprised by the first item on their list: Though no calendar has been set, members want an early vote on Obamacare. House members have cast more than three dozen votes to replace aspects of the 2010 health care law, but any repeal effort has hit a full stop in the Democratic Senate. Still conservatives are eager to force Obama’s hand by sending an early repeal bill if McConnell assumes the Senate majority leader seat. By the time next Congress rolls around, it will be 2015—five years after Obamacare became law—and yet even though Obamacare has survived a presidential election, a Supreme Court ruling, and fifty-plus repeal votes in the House, the first thing...

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Uncounted Votes

The Racially Discriminatory Effects of Provisional Ballots by Joshua Field, Charles Posner, and Anna Chu – In the wake of the troubled and deeply flawed 2000 presidential election in which between 4 million and 6 million votes were not counted, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, to restore voters’ confidence in the electoral process. One of HAVA’s reforms was the establishment of the provisional ballot process, which was originally put in place as a fail-safe measure to ensure that voters who face issues when they arrive at the polls can still cast a ballot. Despite its best intentions, the process is not without serious problems. Of the more than 2.7 million provisional ballots that were cast in 2012, more than 30 percent were not fully counted or rejected all together. Moreover, according to this first-of-its-kind analysis, in 16 states, the use of provisional ballots is more frequent in...

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Real Life Superhero Malala Yousafzai Donates $50,000 Prize Money To Rebuilding Gaza Schools

by  JAMESON PARKER – Much of the news is depressing and cynical,but this is not. Malala Yousafzai just won a ton of money for her human rights advocacy, and she’s giving it all away to help children in Gaza rebuild their schools. Of course, anyone who has been following her story knows that this sort of display of compassion is no surprise. On top of recently being given a Nobel Peace Price, Malala has just been named the winner of the World’s Children’s Prize and with it a check for $50,000. She’s donating all of it to rebuild schools in the war-torn Gaza Strip. Speaking at a press conference in Sweden, Malala made an inspired plea for the rebuilding process to begin in Gaza. “This money will totally go to the rebuilding of schools for children in Gaza, so I think it will definitely help those children to continue their education,...

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Concerned About ISIS, But Also About Endless War? Back Limits on the Use of Force

by Robert Naiman – In response to the U.S. bombing of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, which Congress has never explicitly approved, Members of Congress long concerned about presidents and Congresses skirting the Constitutional role of Congress in deciding when the U.S. will use military force have introduced H. Con. Res. 114, “Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria.” When Congress returns from recess after the election in November, it will still not have debated and voted on a sustained U.S. combat role in Iraq or Syria, even though a “sustained combat role” is obviously what the Pentagon is doing and plans to do. Polls have shown that the majority of Americans think that Congress should debate and vote. Members of Congress can show that they back the public’s desire for a Congressional debate...

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Earliest Police Report from Ferguson is Released and Conflicts with Darren Wilson’s Testimony Leaks

by Shaun King – On October 21, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released the official autopsy results for Mike Brown. Accompanying the autopsy was an analysis and commentary from forensic scientist Dr. Judy Melinek. Her commentary actually made more news than the results of autopsy itself.Tucked away inside of the full autopsy report is an initial statement of Darren Wilson’s perspective as told by Detective Patrick J. Hokamp of the St. Louis County Police Department. It is the first known statement from a detective who was actually on the scene soon after the shooting and appears to have been given to the medical examiner soon after the shooting. What’s most surprising isn’t necessarily what is included in this statement, but some glaring omissions when compared up against recent statements purported to be from Darren Wilson’s testimony to the grand jury.Below you will find the statement from Detective Hokamp from the scene of...

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