Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.


You have made a mess.

— House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, scolding Republicans for manufacturing a Department of Homeland Security funding crisis (via The Associated Press).


I think a lot of people around here have to get serious about governing… It’s time for all these D.C. games to end, all these palace coups or whatever the hell is going on around here, has to end, and we have to get down to the business of governing.

— Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, speaking as the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly averted shutting down the Department of Homeland Security due to the Tea Party’s desire to force a confrontation with President Barack Obama over his executive order on immigration (via The Hill).

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Russia’s Boris Nemtsov, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, shot dead

An opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been murdered while crossing a bridge within sight of the Kremlin, the Russian Interior Ministry says. Boris Nemtsov had previously expressed fears that Vladimir Putin would arrange to have him killed due to his opposition to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

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Dozens of craters are opening up in Siberia and no one knows why

Several large new craters have mysteriously appeared in the remote northern reaches of Russia, according to The Siberian Times. Scientists are trying to figure out what’s creating the craters.


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New instrument readings show Earth’s climate is warming

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and U.C. Berkeley have produced the first direct evidence that human activity is giving Earth a fever, based on “extremely precise instruments” installed by the U.S. Department of Energy at two of its research facilities.


It is important to draw the distinction between regulation of the Internet, and regulation of carriers. The FCC’s order will disallow carriers from discriminating against sources of traffic that their customers choose to access via the Internet. This is common carriage at its core, and as a carrier, I am supportive of being regulated as a common carrier by the FCC.

— CEO Dane Jasper, responding to the Federal Communications Commission’s vote adopting strong net neutrality rules for the Internet.

Net Neutrality Now!

Rolling Rebellion supporters rally at Kerry Park for Net Neutrality (Photo: Rick Barry/Broken Shade Photo)


Conservatives are not looking to make education more rigorous and informative, or science more empirical or verifiable, or voting more representative, or the government more efficient or effective. They just want all those things to reinforce their partisan ideological conservative viewpoint. Because in their mind, the opposite of bad isn’t good. The opposite of bad is conservative. The opposite of wrong isn’t right … it’s right wing!

— The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, hammering Fox Noise Channel’s nonstop anger: “Even watching it is killing me” (via Raw Story).

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How dirty media brought down Oregon’s governor and his activist fiancée

Documentary filmmaker and activist John de Graaf explains how political enemies of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber helped bring about his downfall, which culminated in his resignation earlier this month.

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Educate us: A call for change to Northwestern’s curriculum

“There is immeasurable importance for this campus to understand diversity and social inequality,” writes Northwestern University student Mallory Busch. “We must comprehend. We must not ignore. We must be forced to reckon with our American experience.”

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Fox’s Juan Williams: McConnell has failed to deliver

Noted conservative Juan Williams has filed a column for The Hill grading Mitch McConnell’s first few weeks as Senate Majority Leader. The Fox Noise Channel political commentator gave the Kentucky Republican a failing grade.

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New York Times reporter contradicts O’Reilly’s “war zone” claims

The author of the New York Times article Bill O’Reilly is relying on to justify his claims that he reported from a “war zone” during the Falklands War says O’Reilly is in error, and that Buenos Aires was not a “war zone” in 1982. And former O’Reilly colleague Eric Engberg piled on, saying “it wasn’t a combat situation by any sense of the word.”


Disney raises ticket prices for its theme parks, again

The Walt Disney Company (parent corporation of ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and other properties) has once again decided to raise the price of admission to its amusement parks including Disneyland in southern California and the various lands that make up Walt Disney World in central Florida. The new rates range from $99 for a person ten or older at Disneyland to $105 for the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. That’s admission for a single person on a single day!

Now, Disney does sell multi-day tickets and packages at a discount, but still… a hundred bucks is a lot for one person to pay just to get into an amusement park for one day. For a family of five, going to Disneyland for a day costs nearly $500.

That’s a lot of money.

To put the cost in perspective: A single parent getting paid at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to work over forty-five hours just to earn the money to afford to get in the gates for a day with two kids.

And once inside, they’d find it difficult not to spend more money on food, plus the temptation of merchandise that Disney offers for sale at every corner.

When Disneyland first opened in the 1950s, admission was $1 and tickets to attraction were extra. When Disney World opened in the 1970s, admission was $3.50. Admission has since gone up, as has the cost of living. But worker wages have been largely flat; income inequality in America has gotten much worse.

As a consequence, fewer families can readily afford to spend a week at Disney’s theme parks. The irony is, the so-called happiest places on Earth are only accessible to those who can afford to get in and not worry about the expense of a vacation.


I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build a government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country… I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.

— Birdman Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, accepting his award for Best Director at the 87th Academy Awards (via MSNBC).

Lady Gaga takes in Dolby Theatre applause after performing Sound of Music medley

Lady Gaga takes in the applause from every corner of the Dolby Theatre after performing a medley of songs from The Sound of Music. (Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC, courtesy of the Walt Disney Company. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license.)


Selma is now… The struggle for justice is now. The Voting Rights Act that they fought for fifty years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. Right now the struggle for justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people march with our song, we want to tell you: we see you, we are with you, we love you, and march on.

John Legend, accepting the Academy Award for Best Original Song (Glory, for the acclaimed film Selma) with Common.


Academy leaves Joan Rivers and Jan Hooks out of In Memoriam segment

This year’s In Memoriam segment at the Academy Awards, introduced by acclaimed actress Meryl Streep, inexplicably omitted Joan Rivers and Jan Hooks, leaving many Oscar viewers annoyed and upset. Since they weren’t remembered onscreen at the Dolby Theater, we’re going to remember them here.

Joan Rivers:

Joan Alexandra Molinsky (June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014), known as Joan Rivers, was an American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and television host noted for her often controversial comedic persona — where she was alternately self-deprecating or sharply acerbic, especially toward celebrities and politicians.

Rivers came to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show. Hosted by her mentor, Johnny Carson, the show established Rivers’ comedic style. In 1986, with her own rival program, The Late Show with Joan Rivers, Rivers became the first woman to host a late night network television talk show.

She subsequently hosted The Joan Rivers Show (1989-1993), winning a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Jan Hooks:

Janet VivianJanHooks (April 23, 1957 – October 9, 2014) was an American actress and comedian best known for her work on Saturday Night Live, where she was a repertory player from 1986–91, and continued making cameo appearances until 1994. Her subsequent work included a regular role on the final two seasons of Designing Women, a recurring role on 3rd Rock from the Sun and a number of other roles in film and television.

Biographies are from Wikipedia.

Patricia Arquette delivers her memorable Academy Awards acceptance speech

Patricia Arquette delivers her memorable Academy Awards acceptance speech. (Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC, courtesy of the Walt Disney Company. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license.)


To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

Patricia Arquette, ending her Academy Awards acceptance speech with a call for economic justice and women’s rights. Arquette won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the widely acclaimed motion picture Boyhood.

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Oscars 2015: Female directors scarce at Hollywood’s major studios

The Los Angeles Times asked why the directing profession is dominated by men. Women directed a mere 4.6% of films at the major Hollywood studios in 2014.

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Lost Sherlock Holmes story discovered

A long-lost Sherlock Holmes story has been rediscovered more than a hundred years after it was first published, the BBC reports.