‘How ISIS Works’

The New York Times published an interesting breakdown of the terrorist organization:

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has a detailed structure that encompasses many functions and jurisdictions, according to ISIS documents seized by Iraqi forces and seen by American officials and Hashim Alhashimi, an Iraqi researcher. Many of its leaders are former officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army who augmented their military training with terrorist techniques during years of fighting American troops.

(via @fmanjoo)

‘The Real Solution to Wealth Inequality’

Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert, writing for The Nation:

Bringing wealth under democratic accountability—rather than making everyone a tiny capitalist—has to be an essential part of any equality agenda. America’s biggest declines in poverty often follow from this approach (expanding Social Security and Medicare, for example). Otherwise, we’ll be left with a dystopic Lake Wobegon, where almost all of the men, women and children are below average, even as they hope to join the 1 percent.

Yep. Well said.

Introducing the Sarah Palin Channel

Ashley Alman, writing for The Huffington Post:

The site will feature political commentary, interviews, user-contributed content and updates from the Palin household.

“Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter and things like Washington, D.C.’s crony capitalism,” Palin promises in the launch video. “We’ll talk about the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about and we’ll look at the ideas that I think Washington doesn’t want you to hear.”

The channel’s home page features a national debt ticker, and a countdown clock to President Barack Obama’s last day in office.


‘Executions Should Be By Firing Squad, Federal Appeals Court Judge Says’

Maura Dolan, reporting for the Los Angeles Times:

“Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.

“But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”


On Economic Inequality in America

Katrina vanden Heuvel, writing for The Nation:

By implying that there is a disconnect between inequality and opportunity, (many, not all) Democrats ignore the fact that opportunity cannot be provided as long as the economic and financial system is so unequal. Some, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, intuitively understand this. After all, she first came to Washington to battle a system that has long been rigged against the middle class, where working families’ voices get overpowered by well-funded lobbyists who hold elected officials by the pocket. By creating an artificial division between inequality and opportunity, we turn a blind eye to this rampant unfairness that helped the 1 percent ascend to their economic perches in the first place.


Missouri Schools to Offer Concealed Weapons Trainings

Michele Richinick, reporting for MSNBC:

A fee of $17,500 gets a district a 40-hour firearms training that lasts for five days for two staff members who spend time both inside a classroom and outside at the range firing pistols. Instructors at Shield Solutions in West Plains, Mo., teach participants how to handle firearms and tactical movement, as well as the history of modern, active shooters and how to apply a tourniquet, said Don Crowley, lead instructor and training supervisor. On the range, they position “innocent” targets in front of the “bad guys” for discretionary shooting lessons, he added.


‘The Second Amendment Doesn’t Say What You Think It Does’

Hannah Levintova, writing for Mother Jones:

As America grapples with a relentless tide of gun violence, pro-gun activists have come to rely on the Second Amendment as their trusty shield when faced with mass-shooting-induced criticism. In their interpretation, the amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms—a reading that was upheld by the Supreme Court in its 2008 ruling in District of Columbia. v. Heller. Yet most judges and scholars who debated the clause’s awkwardly worded and oddly punctuated 27 words in the decades before Heller almost always arrived at the opposite conclusion, finding that the amendment protects gun ownership for purposes of military duty and collective security. It was drafted, after all, in the first years of post-colonial America, an era of scrappy citizen militias where the idea of a standing army—like that of the just-expelled British—evoked deep mistrust.


Al Gore On Edward Snowden

David Sirota, writing for PandoDaily:

At Southland today, former Vice President Al Gore today did not offer a definitive answer to the traitor-hero question, but he did weigh in more on one side than the other. After slamming both government and corporations for collecting too much information on individuals, Gore said this about the hero-traitor question:

But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the Constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed. In the course of violating important laws he also provided an important service because we did need to know how far this has gone.


‘This is What It’s Like Arguing with Gun Nuts On the Internet’

Ben Dreyfuss, writing for Mother Jones:

It’s Memorial Day. On this day, we honor the more than one million brave men and women who have given their lives fighting for the United States. Further, we honor that which they died fighting to preserve: the American way of life. It’s 2014 and today, right now, the American way of life involves accepting the very real possibility that you might get shot to death walking down the street for no other reason than bad luck. I somehow doubt many of them fought for that.

Bingo. Also, this.

On Donald Sterling and ‘Injustice’

Dave Zirin for The Nation, on the dark side of Sterling’s exile from the NBA:

Now the NBA will never have to answer the question about why the Sterlings have been coddled for so long. Now the NBA won’t have to defend why racist housing practices, demonstrable misogyny and the verbal abuse of players was ignored for so long.

Great question — if Sterling was known like this prior, why wait to act now?