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

Quotation

I wasn’t the obvious punk-rock singer, or even rock singer. I sang like a girl — which I’m into now, but when I was 17 or 18, I wasn’t sure. And I heard Joey Ramone, who sang like a girl, and that was my way in.

Bono, speaking with Rolling Stone about the making of U2’s surprise album ‘Songs of Innocence’, which was released today through iTunes.

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Quotation

Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her team have a pathological inability to tell the truth to congressional investigators and the media.

— Todd Winer, former communications director to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, alleging that the Spokane Republican tried to make him the fall guy in an ethics dustup.

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Storm swamps Phoenix: Mesa flooding a ‘slow-moving disaster’

The Arizona-Republic reports on the historic flash flooding that has turned ordinarily dry metro Phoenix into a swampy mess.

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U.S. military to provide equipment, resources to battle Ebola epidemic in Africa

It’s about time! President Barack Obama has announced that the United States military will intervene to help relief organizations combat the deadliest ebola outbreak in history, which is threatening to engulf communities in West Africa.

Chat Transcript

Chuck Todd scores interview with Barack Obama for his debut as host of Meet the Press

CHUCK TODD: Ebola. There’s some anxiety in the country about it. Obviously, it’s something that Africa’s trying to get its hands around.

But there’s obviously anxiety in the United States. How concerned are you and how concerned should Americans be?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion here in the United States short term.

Because this is not an airborne disease.

CHUCK TODD: I noticed you said “short term” though.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’m going to get to that. It’s not an airborne disease like the flu. You can only catch it through the transmission of bodily fluids. The problem that we’ve got is in right now a limited portion of Western Africa.

So what I said, and I said this two months ago to our national security team is, we have to make this a natural security priority.

CHUCK TODD: It’s going to be a U.S.-led effort.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: As usual. And we’re going to have to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world.

If we do that, then it’s still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa. But it shouldn’t reach our shores.

Now here’s the last point I’m going to make. If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily transmittable, and then it could be a serious danger to the United States.

Excerpt courtesy of NBC News (read the full transcript).

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Scottish independence: Vote ‘will go to the wire’

The BBC reports on the latest happenings in the Scottish independence referendum, which is scheduled to be held on Thursday, September 18th. The referendum asks a simple, straightforward question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

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Mariners are seriously angling for the playoffs

The Seattle Mariners’ performance in the second half of the season is starting to turn heads, even in New York and Los Angeles. The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter filed this report on the Mariners’ hopes of making the postseason for the first time in more than a decade. The M’s continued their winning ways today with a 4-2 victory over the last-place Texas Rangers. They’ll go for a sweep of the Rangers tomorrow.

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B.P. may be fined up to $18 billion for spill in gulf

A federal judge has ruled that oil giant British Petroleum bears the majority of the blame for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster, finding the company’s conduct to be grossly negligent. As a consequence, the company may have to pay up to $18 billion in new penalties for violating the Clean Water Act. BP executives have vowed to appeal, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “The court’s finding will ensure that the company is held fully accountable for its recklessness.”

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As a result of this history of mistrust of law enforcement — and following an extensive review of documented allegations and other available data — we have determined that there is cause for the Justice Department to open an investigation to determine whether Ferguson police officials have engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.

— United States Attorney General Eric Holder announces new civil rights probe of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri.

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France backs off sending Mistral warship to Russia in $1.7 billion deal

The government of France announced today that it has decided to withhold delivery of an amphibious assault ship manufactured for the Russian Navy. The contract had been criticized by the United States and other members of NATO, but until today, France had consistently said it was going ahead with its plans to deliver the first of four ships of Russia. Now it is altering course.

Quotation

If I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.

— Remark reportedly made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call with the new President of the European Commission. The Kremlin is not denying the remark was made, but insists it is being taken out of context, and is also upset that details of a private telephone conversation are being made public.

Video Clip

Video above: President Obama delivers remarks at the 2014 Milwaukee Laborfest, saying that America deserves a raise. Excerpt:

All across the country right now, there’s a national movement going on made up of fast food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.

There is no denying a simple truth:  America deserves a raise. Folks are doing very well on Wall Street, they’re doing very well in the corporate board rooms — give America a raise.

The full transcript of the speech is also available.

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Costco CEO Craig Jelinek leads the cheapest, happiest company in the world

Businessweek’s Brad Stone’s mid-2013 profile of retail giant Costco Wholesale is once again attracting lots of views on the eve of Labor Day. The profile, which the magazine made its cover story for the June 6th issue, depicts a pallet of toilet paper with rabbits and butterflies wearing Costco badges.

Quotation

You participate and vote, and you can have some control over what happens to your child and your country.

— Representative John Lewis, urging black Americans to go to the polls and participate in the midterms (At risk in Senate, Democrats seek to rally blacks).

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Right wing launches misguided protest against Labor Day

In this must-read column, The Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat takes direct aim at former Building Industry Association of Washington chieftain Tom McCabe, who now heads a right wing think tank that dares to call itself the Freedom Foundation. McCabe plans to work on Labor Day, because, like a Grinch, he despises everything that Labor Day stands for.

Quotation

In the centre of the room there was an actual mountain, a colossal jagged mountain as high as a five-storey building, and the whole thing was made of pale-brown, creamy, vanilla fudge. All the way up the sides of the mountain, hundreds of men were working away with picks and drills, hacking great hunks of fudge out of the mountainside; and some of them, those that were high up in dangerous places, were roped together for safety.

— Excerpt from a previously unpublished chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, released online and print in The Guardian Review.

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Quotation

I feel like a pawn in a moneymaking game for hospital administrators. There are so many other ways I could have made my living and been more fulfilled. The sad part is we chose medicine because we thought it was worthwhile and noble, but from what I have seen in my short career, it is a charade.

— An unnamed doctor, writing on Sermo, an online community for physicians. (Via The Wall Street Journal: Why doctors are sick of their profession)

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Corporate tax evasion hurting America’s common wealth

The New York Times reports that corporations are finding more and more success “exploiting existing loopholes and devising new ones”. Consequently, business income taxes are not rising even though corporate profits are.

Quotation

An effort to register the Ice Bucket Challenge strikes me as a bit akin to those who sought register Boston Strong after the marathon bombings in 2013. Even if it were permissible under the law to register the phrase (again, that is not clear here), it is in poor taste. If others want to use the phrase to raise money for their causes, why would ALS Association want to stop them?

— Erik M. Pelton: Let the ice bucket trademark challenges begin! @alsassociation files to register “Ice Bucket Challenge” with U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

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He wasn’t unarmed… He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self.

— Right wing pundit Ben Stein, contending for the title of year’s most absurdly stupid, ridiculously wrong, laughably inane comment.

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Gun sales are significantly down after record year

Businessweek reports that sales of long guns, modern sporting rifles, and handguns all fell during the last twelve months. The magazine says that “overeager” gun manufacturers anticipated that demand would be much higher than it was.