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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At the end of his show, a visibly shocked and dismayed Conan O’Brien (with guests) pay tribute to Robin Williams, who guest Will Arnett said, “As funny as he was… he was even better as a person. He was even more fantastic. Just one of the loveliest, kindest sweetest guys I’ve ever worked with…. It’s a major loss for everybody.”


I’ll be more dignified in print, but would you mind if I said how much I hate that this happened? That I hated what happened to Philip Seymour Hoffman and now I hate what happened to Robin Williams? You want people who give so much to get what they deserve. But Williams gave so much more than he got. Yes, we still have the movies. But I wish he had more — more time, more peace. He deserved it.

— San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mick LaSalle mourns Robin Williams.


If you compare the mood here today (Sunday) to the last few days, the atmosphere has grown a lot calmer. Shopping malls and restaurants are full of people again and there are a lot of weddings taking place. People are cheering every time there’s news of another US air strike.

— Jiyar Gol, reporting for BBC News in Irbil, in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. Kurdish leaders are asking for American-made weapons to fight IS.

Recommended Link

USB (Universal Series Bus) ‘critically flawed’, researchers say

The widely used Universal Series Bus standard has a serious flaw that has apparently existed since USB was designed back in the 1990s, which can be used to infect a computer without the user’s knowledge. There is “no practical way” to defend against the vulnerability, security experts Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell say.


Preparing to strike ISIL: A Hornet readies for takeoff

“Sailors make final inspections on an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Golden Warriors of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.” (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Margaret Keith)

Chat Transcript

Anderson Cooper speaks to NSC’s Douglas Ollivant about the crisis in Iraq

ANDERSON COOPER: Douglas, have you been surprised by some of the set backs that the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have faced just in recent days and weeks? Because obviously they have a much mounted (ph) fighting, you know, fighting force over many years. Is it simply that they are outgunned right now?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT [Director for Iraq at the National Security Council]: It’s hard to say what the truth is in the north as I attended, you know, facts North of Baghdad are in short supply and it’s often hard to know exactly what the situation is. But there is a distinct possibility that the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga aren’t quite as good as they were when most of us encountered them for the first time in 2003 and 2004. On the other hand …

ANDERSON COOPER: Is that because a lot of the leadership is now, you know, who are commanding, you know, battlefield commanders they’ve now have gone to politics, they have gone into business in Erbil?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: For all kinds of reasons certainly, you know, when you’re being threatened in 1991 becoming a Peshmerga is a great thing. Now, if you’re a young, ambitious Kurd you want to go into business and make money in the oil industry and not become a Peshmerga. So, it’s not what it once was.

But it could also be about the lack of arms or ammunition and no small parties because ISIL is extremely capable, has a lot of weapons, some of which they’ve brought from Syria, some of which they captured in Iraq. So, this could multi causal. It could be any one or all three of those.

(Transcript courtesy of CNN)

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Meet the Denny, a bicycle designed for Seattle. From the designers:

The Denny bike is about returning the rider (and ourselves) to those early days of carefree riding, when cycling was just about ‘get up and go’ freedom—the reason we all fell in love with bikes in the first place.

It’s inspiration? The diverse community and unpredictability of our home, Seattle. From the auto-shifting electric assist, smart reactive lighting, integrated locking and the redefining of the fender, we’ve created the purist biking experience possible for Seattle riders. Now you don’t have to worry about the hills, rain or an impromptu ‘farmer’s market’ trip.

Denny is the “all in” cycling solution that meets security, safety and importantly convenience needs. Ultimately, the Denny bike was born from a simple premise, ‘an everyday bike that removes the barriers to becoming an everyday rider’.

“All in – Just Ride.”

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Choose Firefox over Chrome now, or later you won’t get a choice

Robert O’Callahan explains why Web users should do their browsing in Mozilla Firefox instead of Google Chrome.


As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

— Excerpt from President Barack Obama’s statement on the crisis in Iraq, televised earlier this evening from the White House’s State Dining Room.


More wishful thinking by Republicans: NRCC operative claims Suzan DelBene is vulnerable

After watching Pedro Celis pull ahead of fellow Republican Robert Sutherland for the distant second place spot in the race for the 1st Congressional District, The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner decided to ask the NRCC for comment. NRCC operative Robert Jones, who is based out of Portland, offered up some pretty nice spin. Check it out:

Despite the tight [election], Robert Jones, regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Celis “is in a really good spot going into the fall.” He noted DelBene’s support was barely above 50 percent – signaling her vulnerability as an incumbent.

How is Celis in a “really good spot”? Up until a couple hours ago, he wasn’t even in second place, which meant he was in jeopardy of being eliminated. Even if he gets to move on, his campaign has already taken a hit from his incredibly poor showing.

As for DelBene, the fact that she’s polling above fifty percent despite having six challengers (the most of any congressional incumbent in the state) shows she is actually not vulnerable. She has more votes than all of her opponents combined, and she has more than three times the number of votes that Celis has.

By Jones’ standards, Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera-Beutler is really vulnerable. She’s the sole congressional incumbent in the state who is actually below fifty percent in the winnowing election and she only has two challengers – Democrat Bob Dingethal and Republican Michael Delavar. Herrera-Beutler has also been in office longer, yet she is doing more poorly than DelBene.


Recommended Link

Russia bans food imports from Western democracies

In an attempt to get back at the United States and the European Union over toughened sanctions, Vladimir Putin’s government has announced that foodstuffs from the European Union and the United States will not be allowed into Russia beginning immediately and lasting for at least a year. However, the Russian people will probably be hurt the most by the import ban, as opposed to E.U. and U.S.

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Whew! Rupert Murdoch yanks bid for Time Warner, Sprint won’t pursue T-Mobile

Two massive, anticompetitive, and harmful merger proposals that have been recently in the news are now off the table, the New York Times reports. Rupert Murdoch has withdrawn an offer by 21st Century Fox to acquire Time Warner (which was met with a frosty reception) and Sprint has decided not to pursue an acquisition of T-Mobile after concluding that the federal government would not consent to the merger. The failure of the megadeals is good news for American consumers.



John Chen is impressive… Management knows BlackBerry cannot be all things to all people, but the company recognizes it has a hardened technology and tested infrastructure.

— Cormark Securities analyst Richard Tse, speaking to The Globe and Mail after a meeting with BlackBerry executives last week. The Canadian smartphone maker appears to be on a stable footing after months of turmoil.


I think that the reason Travis did as well as he did is because people are tired of failed leadership and the same old thing. I’m not sure people will go for Sheldon… I think people want honesty and they want change.

— Senate Democratic challenger Irene Bowling, speaking to The Olympian’s Brad Shannon about the race between her, entrenched incumbent Tim Sheldon (a Republican in Democratic clothing) and Republican Travis Couture. Bowling currently leads both Couture and Sheldon, who are fighting for second place.



It is simply a message they want to send, not a solution that they want to affect… Republicans are racing to the right, putting forward the harshest and most draconian policies they can think of. This crisis demands an immediate response.

— Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, blasting the Republicans’ divisive and fatally flawed immigration bills as driven by political considerations.

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Above is the video of the speech delivered today by U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene in opposition to a pair of divisive, fatally-flawed Republican-backed bills on immigration. Below is the text of the statement released by her office on these bills.

The influx of unaccompanied children across the southern border is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis that requires immediate action. We desperately need members of Congress to work together in a bipartisan way to develop an effective and humane course of action to address this problem, and I am frustrated that House Republicans are playing politics with this crisis instead of creating a serious proposal to solve it.

Disappointingly, House Republicans have put forward an unworkable appropriations bill (H.R. 5230) that fails to adequately address this crisis. It includes harmful provisions that would weaken existing law and deny important due process protections aimed at ensuring that unaccompanied children are treated fairly and humanely.

Furthermore, this bill cuts over $400 million to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), negatively impacting the federal government’s ability to respond to other disasters.

Another bill (H.R. 5272) needlessly punishes innocent children, known as DREAMers, without addressing the humanitarian crisis caused by violence in Central America. This deportation-only and enforcement-only approach to changing our nation’s immigration laws is misguided and will do absolutely nothing to prevent our broken immigration system from spinning further into dysfunction.

In my district, there are businesses, farmers, faith leaders, law enforcement leaders, and families who have been asking Congress for years to find solutions to our broken immigration system. Instead, House Republicans have decided to make today’s divisive bill a priority. After more than a year of refusing to act on immigration reform legislation, this is an outrageous and unacceptable position to take.

I have been actively working as a member of the Judiciary Committee to find a bipartisan path forward – to tackle the job of fixing an immigration system that we all agree is broken, but House leadership has refused to do the work that’s needed to get responsible legislation to the President. I hope that Congress can come back to work in a bipartisan way to get real results for the American people.

NPI thanks Representative DelBene for her vote against these bills and insistence on a true solution to our immigration crisis.


Andrew’s M.O. — behind-the-curtain string-pulling — yesterday crashed into an immovable object called Preet Bharara. He now has to alter his penchant for off-the-record carrots and sticks… because there’s no off-the-record when anyone can be subpoenaed, including him.

— Former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, explaining that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is not someone that the hard-charging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be able to easily manipulate or ignore.


I do wish that Ted Cruz would stay in the Senate… Nobody elected him speaker. Nobody elected him majority leader in the House, and it’s really a cheap shot to be coming in from the side. To have some guy come in from the outside like the Pied Piper is wrong.

— Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, making clear that he resents Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s meddling in the House Republican caucus.


Today’s tragedy in Chubbock, Idaho could have easily been prevented

Earlier today we posted a link to a story about a five-year old girl who was accidentally shot and killed by another five-year old child who found a gun lying around. It’s a tragic story and we extend our deepest condolences to the families involved. But, it’s also a reminder that irresponsible firearms ownership needlessly results in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year.

Ironically, research shows shows that gun owners are far more likely to be injured or killed by their own guns than they are by somebody else wielding a gun. Owning a gun doesn’t make you safer… it makes you less safe. Especially if you haven’t been trained on how to handle firearms responsibly and correctly.

Own a gun? At the very least, keep it locked up and store the ammunition separately. Or consider getting rid of it altogether. You’ll be safer.

Recommended Link

Five-year old Idaho girl dead in accidental shooting

A five year old girl in Chubbuck, Idaho is dead after being accidentally shot by another five year old child who found a gun lying around and wound up pulling the trigger. Once again, a child’s life has been cut short because an irresponsible adult failed to keep a dangerous weapon unloaded and locked up, where it would be out of the reach of young children.

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ExxonMobil, Chevron locked in bidding war to acquire lucrative Pennsylvania senator

Once again, The Onion hits a home run with a spoof that’s too close to reality for comfort. In this parody article, The Onion explains that multinational oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron each want to acquire Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, who they consider to be “an incredibly valuable commodity”.