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

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Senator Bernie Sanders on the McCutcheon decision

Senator Bernie Sanders: “The Supreme Court is paving the way toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires like the Kock brothers and Sheldon Adelson will control our political process.” (Graphic courtesy of Senator Sanders’ office).

Quotation

Taken together with Citizens United, today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.

— Excerpt from the dissent in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, authored by Justice Breyer and signed by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg.

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NATO general says he sees potent Russian threat

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top military commander, General Philip Breedlove, assesses Russia’s intentions and capabilities in the wake of its military buildup on the Ukranian border. Breedlove is concerned that if the Russians made a move into eastern Ukraine, they would be hard to stop.

Quotation

The team… it’s like they figured out [how] to hit. They’re all willing to watch pitches, but they’re being aggressive too.

Lookout Landing commenter Corco, on the Mariners’ offensive success in their first two games. The Mariners took the opening series of 2014 with back-to-back victories over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

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Your April 1st business news, fool

It’s April Fools’ Day, and the Seattle Times’ Jon Talton has an excellent roundup of some of the day’s most notable (and shocking!) developments.

Quotation

I think the prayer of the conservatives that this would collapse just didn’t get answered… It fills a need.

— Professor Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University, explaining to CNN why people are signing up for coverage under the Patient Protection Act despite right wing fearmongering over the law.

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Mariners, Seattle fans off to rockin’ start

Art Thiel looks at the the highlights of Opening Night 2014 for Sportspress NW. The Seattle Mariners defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 10-3 on the strength of its offense after Felix Hernandez (who was otherwise dominant) gave up three runs. King Felix won his eighth straight opening day start and the Mariners once again begin the season 1-0. Justin Smoak made a big statement by doubling early and later hitting a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning. Dustin Ackley followed up the homer with a bases-clearing triple to turn the game into a rout.

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The most-liked MLB teams by county, according to Facebook

The map above shows the most-liked major league baseball teams by county in the United States. Many states have split loyalties, including Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana. But all of Washington’s thirty-nine counties have Mariner pluralities. The Atlantic has more analysis. (Graphic by Facebook)

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BlackBerry sees hope for future in security

The New York Times‘ Ian Austen talks to new chief executive officer John Chen about his plans to turn around BlackBerry. Since taking over the company last autumn, Chen has stabilized it, launching a major effort to control costs and respond to the concerns and needs of BlackBerry’s customers.

Quotation

Throughout the twenty-first century, climate change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.

— Excerpt from the latest report compiled by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning that the worst effects of the climate crisis are yet to be felt. Many anti-hunger activists fear hunger could become an insolvable problem if we do not change our polluting ways.

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Republicans going all out to limit voting in swing states

The New York Times documents the Republican Party’s effort to make it more difficult for Democratic voters to get to the polls and vote in state after state, from Ohio to North Carolina.

Quotation

It is astounding to me from a moral perspective that folks in the Republican Party stay up nights figuring out how they can give more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and large corporations and then come back and try to cut food stamps for families who are hungry, for kids who are hungry, try to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It is really a very ugly moment in American history.

— Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on MSNBC this week, denouncing the Republican Party’s agenda of helping the wealthy become even more wealthy.

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Flight MH370: Chinese and Australian ships draw blank

Objects retrieved from the southern Indian Ocean may not be from missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the BBC reports.

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Video Clip

The Ford Motor Company has produced a brilliant rejoinder to the widely-disliked ad created by General Motors’ Cadillac division for the 2014 Super Bowl. In that ad (“Poolside“), a middle age white male portrayed by Neal McDonough glorifies work at the expense of leisure time before driving away in a Cadillac ELR.

In Ford’s spot, the founder of Detroit Dirt, Pashon Murray (who’s portraying herself!), explains that many of us feel we have a higher calling – to leave the world a better place than we found it – before getting into a Ford C-MAX hybrid. It’s an incredibly well-done parody, and worth watching. (Via AdWeek).

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Poll: More young people aligning themselves with Democratic Party

A new poll by the Gallup organization finds that young people are increasingly more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. Talking Points Memo has more.

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ShakeMap of 5.1 magnitude earthquake that rattled LA this evening

U.S. Geological Survey: “A M5.1 earthquake occurred at 9:09PM on March 28, 2014, located 1 mile easy of La Habra, CA, or 4 miles north of Fullerton, CA. The event was felt widely throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. It was preceded by two foreshocks, the larger of M3.6 at 8:03pm. The demonstration earthquake early warning system provided 4 second warning in Pasadena. “

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U.N. General Assembly condemns Crimean “referendum”

The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution condemning the secessionist referendum staged by Russia and the regional government of Crimea. The resolution is symbolic, but its overwhelming passage shows the world community disapproves of Russia’s aggression. One hundred nations voted for the resolution, with eleven against and fifty-eight abstaining.

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Two firefighters killed in Back Bay blaze

The City of Boston has lost two brave firefighters who became trapped while battling an extremely dangerous nine-alarm fire that officials say moved incredibly fast. “We lost two heroes here today,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, after arriving on scene to grieve with firefighters and city leaders.

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Charlotte’s mayor resigns after arrest on corruption charges

Charlotte politician Patrick Cannon, who was elected last year to succeed Anthony Foxx as mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, has resigned after the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested him and charged him with theft and bribery. Cannon, elected as a Democrat to the city council many years ago, faces up to fifty years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted.

Quotation

I would just ask all Americans to send their thoughts and prayers to Washington State and the community of Oso, and the families and friends of those who continue to be missing. We hope for the best, but we recognize this is a tough situation.

— President Obama, speaking earlier today from Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands. Obama told reporters he had spoken with Governor Jay Inslee by phone and says his administration stands ready to provide whatever help the state may need.

Quotation

When George Bush was president, we went to war in Iraq, we went to war in Afghanistan; that did not in any way deter Russia from going into Georgia in 2008… Frankly, in terms of the steps that we’ve outlined and the steps that we’re taking, they go far beyond any previous steps that have been taken in response to Russian aggression.

— Benjamin J. Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, refuting Republican criticisms that the Obama administration’s foreign policy is partly to blame for Russian aggression and that the United States’ response to the seizure of Crimea has been weak. Under George W. Bush, the U.S. imposed no real costs on Russia in response to the invasion of Georgia, as Rhodes mentioned.