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


Filing this lawsuit amounts to institutional treason. Boehner and House Republicans should be ashamed. The rest of us can only hope that the courts rescue them by keeping to precedent and tossing this lawsuit into the garbage.

— Jonathan Bernstein: Boehner Betrays Congress (Bloomberg View)

Chat Transcript

911 audio reveals DuPont plant supervisor tried to downplay magnitude of deadly leak

DISPATCHER: La Porte 911, what is the address of your emergency?

DUPONT SUPERVISOR: We have a possible Casualty 5, is what my medics are telling me.

DISPATCHER: How did this happen? Is it chemical related?

DUPONT SUPERVISOR: Uh, I am not certain.

DISPATCHER: Okay, sir, I need to know what’s going on before I send.

DUPONT SUPERVISOR: They’re doing a rescue right now. We have some injured people. I am not sure if chemicals are involved or not. I’m just relaying the message.

Excerpt from transcript of 911 call from a DuPont supervisor to first responders in the immediate aftermath of a deadly chemical leak at a facility in Texas.

Recommended Link

Desperate Republicans spotted in South Dakota trying to build Keystone XL themselves

Republicans are so keen on doing TransCanda’s bidding that they have showed up in South Dakota to build the Keystone XL pipeline themselves, The Onion reports.


Recommended Link

Why America’s housing disaster is back and wreaking terror

The crooks who brought us the housing nightmare that crashed the U.S. economy are back and up to no good, writes David Dayen.

Recommended Link

Meet the charter schools proponent who says “unions get way too much blame”

Not all charter school advocates want to gut teacher tenure and unions. Activist Steve Barr has a different view, writes Elias Isquith.


We are outraged by the lack of intergovernmental cooperation.. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.

— Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott, condemning the U.S. House’s vote to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Video Clip

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Lottery 

John Oliver details how lotteries promise big returns to state legislatures but don’t deliver.

Recommended Link

How the U.S. Government Could End the Student Debt Crisis Today by Raúl Carrillo 

YES! Magazine shows the student debt crisis has a solution, but it will take bold steps by the federal government.

Recommended Link

Ford, UPS, Visa, Bank of America quietly lobbying for strong net neutrality rules

Though they’ve been reluctant to say so publicly, it turns out that a quartet of Fortune 500 companies – Ford Motor, United Parcel Service, Visa, and Bank of America – have been quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes, lobbying the Federal Communications Commission for strong net neutrality rules.



Russia said to be planning to launch alternative to Wikipedia

Boris Yeltsin’s presidential library has announced that it intends to develop an alternative to Wikipedia, the widely-used online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, because, in their view, Wikipedia “does not have enough detailed and reliable information about Russian regions and the life of the country.”

According to the library, their Wikipedia alternative “will allow to objectively and accurately present the country and its population, the diversity of the state, the national system of Russia. Posted materials will be constantly updated and renewed, being available to users from any Internet access point.”

The encyclopedia apparently doesn’t have a name yet. How about Министерство правды? (That’s Russian for Ministry of Truth).

Recommended Link

UW professor seeks money to study pollution from coal trains in Whatcom County


Professor Dan Jaffe finds funding outside of regular research channels to contribute to the environmental review of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, which would ship 48 million tons of coal a year if approved.


The president has seen what happens when he doesn’t step forward and Democrats don’t inspire the public or their base — we win on the issues, but lose at the polls — so we can’t do worse… Let’s try being bold.

— MoveOn executive director Anna Galland, praising President Obama’s recent pro-net neutrality statement and forthcoming action on immigration.

Recommended Link

For-profit tech companies are displacing nonprofits in San Francisco

“Soaring rents drove 2,000 of San Francisco’s 8,000 nonprofits out of town or out of existence from 2011 through 2013,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek.


Recommended Link

How the Democratic Party lost its soul

The trouble started when the party abandoned its working-class base, writes William Greider for The Nation.

Chat Transcript

Howard Dean’s prescription for Democratic success: Strengthen the state parties

CHUCK TODD: Dan Balz had, I thought, a rough piece about the Democratic party. But two things, the headline is, “Two midterm elections have hollowed out the Democratic Party.” And they said this about the state parties in particular, “Without prominent statewide-elected leaders, Democrats are in danger of seeing their state party structures atrophy.”

HOWARD DEAN: We’ve been there before. We know what the solution is now.

CHUCK TODD: And what is it?

HOWARD DEAN: It is to put money into the state parties. They get to pick their own people, we do the training, we do all the intel, we get them to weave together this incredible organization that the president has done in the last eight years for his campaigns, two of the best campaigns ever run in the history of American presidential politics. But you’ve got to strengthen the state parties. It requires discipline, accountability, but it also requires money to go to the state parties and we have to trust the state parties.

(Meet the Press transcript courtesy of NBC

Audio Clip

From StoryCorps, “an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate the lives of everyday Americans by listening to their stories”:

For Veteran’s Day, we hear three different stories from military members. First, Ryan Sharp and his father discuss Ryan’s return from Iraq–he came State side, felt off and didn’t know why. Then, we revisit Army widower Max Voelz–and hear from another bomb tech, Mary Dague, who helped Max when he was depressed. We also have an exciting update about Max’s life since first airing his story.

A Vietnam veteran

A solider who served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade is pictured at a Veterans Day event in Sacramento, California. (Photo: Robert Couse-Baker/Reproduced under a Creative Commons license)


Our shared goals are to ensure that Veterans have a clear understanding of VA and where to go for what they need within any of our facilities; that employees are empowered with the authority, knowledge and tools they need to solve problems and take action; and that the products and services that we deliver to Veterans are integrated within the organization.

In message to employees, Secretary Bob McDonald outlines the way ahead to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Recommended Link

All U.S. Postal Service employees’ personal data exposed by hackers

Ars Technica reports on some seriously bad news: Over 600,000 addresses, Social Security numbers, and additional personal data for Postal Service employees have been compromised by hackers thought to be based in China.



It is time now for you to stand with the American people and for net neutrality. It is time for you to stand up to the army of Comcast and Verizon lobbyists and institute strong rules to ensure net neutrality.

— Excerpt from Senator Bernie Sanders’ letter calling on the FCC to guarantee the future of the open Internet and welcoming President Obama’s call for strong net neutrality rules that reclassify broadband service under Title II.

Recommended Link

The Oatmeal schools Ted Cruz on Net Neutrality

Pacific Northwest native Matthew Inman‏ has published a rather excellent new cartoon schooling Texas Senator Ted Cruz on net neutrality at his site, The Oatmeal. This one’s not to be missed!