We Don’t Need to Wait for Chilcot, Blair Lied to Us About Iraq. Here’s the Evidence

by Peter Oborne – With the help of the BBC and Dr David Morrison, I carried out my own inquiry. The facts are devastating for Blair, for Parliament and for all of us Two weeks ago I found myself in conversation with Dr Hans Blix, head of the United Nations weapons inspection team ahead of the Iraq invasion in 2003. Dr Blix told me that Tony Blair’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were simply not an accurate reflection of the intelligence provided to the British government. “The big difference in the British dossier,” Dr Blix told me, “was that they simply asserted that these items are there. But when Mr Blair asserts that there were weapons, well that’s an assertion and it was not supported by evidence. Both the UK and the US replaced question marks by exclamation marks. I certainly think it was a misrepresentation.” He was talking about...

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New Study Finds That 2/3 of People on Anti-Depressants are Not Clinically Depressed

by John Vibes – According to a new study, doctors are dishing out anti-depressant drugs to pretty much anyone, and most of the patients don’t even meet the official criteria for clinical depression, which is likely a fabricated disorder to begin with. The study, which can be found in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, says that 69% of people who were prescribed anti-depressants did not actually exhibit the signs that doctors are supposed to look for when treating clinical depression. According to the study: Using data from the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study Wave 1 (1981) through Wave 4 (2004–2005) (N = 1,071), we assessed lifetime prevalence of common mood and anxiety disorders according to DSM-III and DSM-III-R criteria, based on 4 interviews, among participants who reported current antidepressant use. Furthermore, we examined factors associated with current antidepressant use. Thirteen percent of participants at Wave 4 reported currently using antidepressant...

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Iran Will Attend The Next Round Of Syrian Peace Talks. Here’s Why That’s A Big Deal

by JUSTIN SALHANI – Iran will be in Vienna this week to talk about a solution to the crisis in Syria. An Iranian government spokesman confirmed that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will attend the multilateral talks that see them at the same table as regional opponents. “We have reviewed the invitation, and it was decided that the foreign minister would attend the talks,” Marzieh Afkham, a spokeswoman for the Iranian foreign ministry, told the BBC. The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 and has since resulted in the death of over 200,000 people. Millions have been displaced, both internally and abroad. Inside the country, a regional – and at times global – proxy war quickly developed. Iran’s attendance at the peace talks is significant because of their influential involvement in the crisis on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. To date, the Iranians have sent around 2,000 fighters and members...

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Virginia Under the Gun

by Chelsea Parsons, Tim Daly, Eugenio Weigend Vargas – In some respects, gun violence in Virginia is typical of that in much of the nation. For example, Virginia ranked 28th of the 50 states for the overall rate of gun deaths from 2004 to 2013—right in the middle of the states. On the other hand, Virginia has been the scene of some of the most horrific, high-profile acts of gun violence in recent memory: the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 and the on-air execution of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward in August 2015. In fact, in the eight and a half years since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, approximately 7,173 Virginians have died by gunfire. These appalling incidents; Virginia’s proximity to the nation’s capital; and the fact that the National Rifle Association, or NRA, is headquartered in Virginia have made the commonwealth a national bellwether for the debate over gun laws. In recent years, the gun issue has...

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Paul Ryan Elected Speaker of the House

by Joan McCarter – The remarkable debacle kicked off last month when John Boehner announced he was leaving Congress and the speakership has finally been resolved. Rep. Paul Ryan won the Republican conference’s nomination to be Speaker of the House on Wednesday, but only got 200 of the necessary 218 votes needed to win the full floor vote. That united front of opposition from the Freedom Caucus types melted Thursday morning, when their chosen candidate Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) urged his supporters to support Ryan. Reps. David Brat (VA), Curt Clawson (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Walter Jones (NC), Tom Massie (KY), Bill Posey (FL), Randy Weber (TX) and Ted Yoho (FL) voted Webster anyway, and in the final vote, Ryan easily got the votes he needed, 236. How he got to the point of securing those votes is the subject of a Politico article this morning. When North...

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The CNBC Republican Debate: Bring In the Clowns

by Robert Borosage – The CNBC Republican presidential debate last night opened with a startling bolt of straight talk: “We are on the verge, perhaps, of picking someone who cannot do this job,” said Ohio Governor John Kasich, ignoring the inane moderator request that the candidates begin the debate by naming their biggest weakness. “I’ve watched to see people say that we should dismantle Medicare and Medicaid and leave the senior citizens out – out in the – in the cold. I’ve heard them talk about deporting 10 or 11 – people here from this country out of this country, splitting families. I’ve heard about tax schemes that don’t add up, that put our kids in – in a deeper hole than they are today.” Donald Trump sniffed dismissively: “ was such a nice guy. And he said, oh, I’m never going to attack. But then his poll numbers tanked…...

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Handwritten Draft Of King James Bible Discovered: Reveals No ‘Divine Powers’

by ANTIPHON FREEMAN – The earliest known version of The King James Bible, perhaps one of the most influential and widely read books in history, has been discovered mislabeled inside an archive at the University of Cambridge. The find is being called one of the most significant revelations in decades. It shows that writing is a process of revising, cutting, and then more rewriting. The Bible is no different in this regard, even though some conservative Christians claim it is the divine word of God himself. Perhaps God, then, is a revisionist. This find certainly seems to suggest that. The notebook containing the draft was found by American scholar, Jeffrey Alan Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey, who announced his research in an article in The Times Literary Supplement. The New York Times didn’t take long to pick up the story. They ran an...

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John Boehner’s Parting Gift to Paul Ryan: A Two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling Deal

by Joan McCarter – John Boehner gets to leave the U.S. House of Representatives having accomplished something besides turning the institution over to a bunch of crazy ideologues: He’s bucking those same ideologues with a budget deal that will make the next speaker’s job easier—for a couple of years, anyway. The deal struck between Boehner, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, and the White House will set funding levels for the government into 2017 as well as raise the debt ceiling until March 2017. That means the new speaker, almost assuredly Paul Ryan, won’t have to work around the nihilists during an election year. Here are the basics of the deal: It breaks the sequester that’s been in place since the Budget Control Act of 2011 and raises funding levels overall $80 billion above the caps that sequestration currently allows. That increase is split 50-50...

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Police Prosecutions Have Increased, but Convictions Have Not

by Scott Shackford – Meanwhile, shootings by police show no sign of slowing I don’t know that I would necessarily call it “good news” that we’re seeing more police officers facing actual charges and trials for fatal shootings. Given, though, that there’s been a notable increase in the number of people killed by police in recent years, a doubling in the frequency by which officers face trial in 2015 is at least a sign that officials have started treating public outrage seriously. Now for the downers. The increase is from an average of five officers prosecuted a year to 12 so far in 2015. And none of the officers has been convicted yet. Reuters, reporting on the increase this year, notes that typically only one out of five officers charged has been found guilty over the past decade. Also, these numbers don’t include the six Baltimore officers who face charges over the...

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Is Bernie Sanders Dangerous to Socialism?

by Emma Caterine, Truthout | Op-Ed – “… the mistakes that are made by a truly revolutionary workers’ movement are, historically speaking, immeasurably more fruitful and more valuable than the infallibility of the best possible ‘Central Committee.'” – Rosa Luxemburg, democratic socialist, Rosa Luxemburg Reader (p. 265, p. 444). On October 18, 2015, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders decided that Iowa City would be where he declared what “democratic socialism” means to him. A bit shy of a 13-point program, Sanders did cite some helpful examples of what he considers socialist institutions: Social Security, Medicare and the police. Interestingly, the last time I heard these institutions in the United States referred to as socialist was when they were being attacked by libertarians like Ron Paul and Ross Perot. Apparently the populist independent-turned-Democrat from Vermont and the unrepentant capitalists share the viewpoint that government institutions are inherently socialist. I could laugh...

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The Shooting of Zachary Hammond: Is This What Self-Defense Looks Like?

by Jacob Sullum – No matter what prosecutors say, killing a teenager during a penny-ante pot bust cannot be justified As Ed Krayewski noted yesterday, a local prosecutor has decided not to charge the Seneca, South Carolina, police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond during a penny-ante drug sting on July 27. Police planned to arrest Hammond’s date, 23-year-old Toni Morton, whom an undercover cop had lured to a Hardee’s parking lot by pretending to be a pot buyer. Morton was sitting in the front passenger seat of Hammond’s car as Lt. Mark Tiller approached the driver’s side with his gun drawn. Tiller claimed he was forced to shoot because Hammond was trying to run him over. But that is not what the dashcam video of the encounter—which police did not release until yesterday, three months after the shooting—seems to show. As Tiller approaches the car, Hammond backs up...

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More Money, More Problems

by Michele L. Jawando and Billy Corriher – Fleeting Victories for Diversity on the Bench As America winds down its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the country continues to reflect on the progress made toward racial and political equality. One cannot help but recognize the crucial role the judiciary played and continues to play in achieving this progress, whether it was the U.S. Supreme Court declaring “separate is not equal,” as it did in Brown v. Board of Education, or the more recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. While the role of the federal judiciary and the decisions it metes out are often examined, far less focus and study is directed to the role of state courts and their impact and influence on ordinary citizens. Even less is known about who sits on these courts and their backgrounds, both...

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Justice Kennedy Suggests That Kim Davis Should Resign

by IAN MILLHISER – Justice Anthony Kennedy, a member of the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc who nevertheless has authored several important gay rights opinions, suggested during an event at Harvard Law School last week that public officials who do not wish to follow the Court’s marriage equality decision should resign. Kennedy’s remarks came in response to a question from a student who described himself as someone who thinks “that rational norms guide the exercise of sexual autonomy.” The student asked whether public officials who disagree with the Court’s decisions on marriage equality or abortion have “authority to act according to her own judgment” of whether the Court’s legal reasoning was sound. The justice did acknowledge the “difficult moral questions” presented when a public official is asked to “enforce a law that they believe is morally corrupt.” He also steered away from explicitly stating that officials such as Kim Davis, who...

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Ford Motor Just Called Out Trump For Being The Liar He Is, And It’s Magnificent (TWEETS)

by SARAH – When it comes to people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and those who are egomaniacs, they tend to think that the world revolves around them. They see anything bad as another person’s fault, and anything good, they take full credit. For instance, if Donald Trump starts to slip in the polls, it’s obviously the dumb voters in that state who don’t realize he’s the cat’s pajamas. Or say if Fox News says something bad about him – well, then, they’re just stupid and have no clue what they’re talking about. So, in turn, he takes his ball and goes home saying he never wants to see them again. However, just like when people give a whining child what they want, they come back, and come back with a vengeance as if their shit doesn’t stink. Recently, Trump seems to think he can take credit for a number...

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Texas: Neutering Democracy

by David Morris – In Texas, liberty trumps democracy.  The Texas Supreme Court itself says so.  In a recent decision, three of the five Justice majority bluntly declared. “(O)ur federal and state charters are not, contrary to popular belief, about ‘democracy’.”  They are about “liberty’s primacy.” The Justices concluded the Texas Constitution gives primacy to liberty because of the sequence of wording “That the great, general and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established,” is how the Constitution begins.  The word “liberty” comes first. Relying on the sequence of words to establish primacy could have gotten the Justices into trouble when it comes to the federal Constitution, a situation they adroitly finessed by quoting only part of the Preamble. “The federal Constitution, in the first sentence of the Preamble, declares its mission to ‘secure the Blessings of Liberty,”” opined the Justices.  But before securing liberty the...

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These GOP Candidates Were Born Into Privilege But Want You To Think Otherwise

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – Both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and hotel mogul Donald Trump have boasted about their business acumen, while others highlight the influence of their hard-working immigrant parents, or how they exhibit personal frugality in their shopping habits. Thanks to our current campaign finance laws, it takes a staggering amount of money to mount a credible bid for the White House. Those with a head start in life — from elite private education to a circle of well-to-do friends — have a distinct advantage. Yet because U.S. voters love a good rags-to-riches tale, even those candidates born into lives of wealth, power, and privilege have portrayed themselves in their campaign trail stories as scrappy underdogs who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. To hear these candidates tell it, they are modern-day Abraham Lincolns. The real story is more complicated. Trump’s Daddy-O “My whole life really has been a...

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The Drama Behind The Next Republican Debate

by EMILY ATKIN – There seems to be just a little less excitement than usual surrounding Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate. It is, after all, the third of twelve debates scheduled this season, and the candidates are the same as last time, minus Scott Walker. The New York Times even hinted at the routineness of it all, its most recent debate-related headline focusing on the “familiar risks” the candidates face. But there is some drama surrounding this upcoming event. And it has to do with the debate’s location — the University of Colorado Boulder, or CU-Boulder. Since September, there’s been a twinge of animosity among some students who claim they were misled about what housing a presidential debate on campus would be like. They thought they would be getting a unique education in American politics, but instead, some say they’re only getting a lesson in marketing. “The college framed ...

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FOX’s Sean Hannity Cites Hoax Website, Donald Trump Cites Hannity (VIDEO)

by RANDA MORRIS – As usual, the fact-checkers at Punditfact are working overtime trying to keep up with the lies being circulated by right-wing bubble heads. On October 26 at a New Hampshire Town Hall meeting, Donald Trump told those attending that President Obama is planning to bring 250,000 Syrian refugees to the United States. The Town Hall was broadcast live on NBC New Hampshire. Since the Obama administration has never said anything even close to this, Punditfact went to work trying to figure out where the claim came from. It turns out that on at least two separate occasions FOX News host Sean Hannity repeated claims made on a hoax website, called realnewsrightnow.com. On October 19, Hannity made claim while interviewing presidential candidate Jeb Bush. “You see the backlash emerging now in Europe over the refugee problem for Syria and Iraq,” Hannity said during the broadcast. “The president said he’s going...

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Concealed Carry Permit Holders Are Killing People, But Not In Self Defense

by RANDA MORRIS – Since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed by someone with a concealed carry permit. Those deaths are the result of 579 separate shootings, all initiated by someone who was given the legal right to carry a concealed weapon in our communities– our schools, churches, shopping centers, movie theaters and everywhere else. The NRA desperately wants us to believe that giving ammosexual assholes the right to carry guns into our public spaces is going to make us so much safer. They keep telling us that “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.” And yet, out of the 579 shootings carried out by concealed carry permit holders since 2007, just 21 were in self-defense. That equates to about four percent of all shootings in which the shooter was licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Even more telling, more...

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Jeb Bush and the End of the Road

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – I spent a fair budget of Monday going back and forth to my computer, checking the wire reports on a hunch for official word that Jeb Bush was dropping out of the 2016 presidential race. As of this writing, that announcement has not arrived, but I feel it in my bones: It’s coming. Mr. Inevitable, you see, is getting creamed. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are eating his lunch. His poll numbers are so close to nothing as to make no practical difference. Matt Lauer tagged him on this during a recent appearance on “The Today Show”: “You are losing in the polls to the host of Celebrity Apprentice.” Early on in the campaign, he tapped his father’s campaign finance network, and they gave … but now, they’ve given to the limit, and he’s not collecting new donors. The base of...

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