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

Recommended Link

Black Friday: Wal-Mart workers revolt

For the third consecutive year, progressive grassroots organizers and workers at Wal-Mart are planning a nationwide labor protest on Black Friday, which will include mass walkouts at over a thousand locations.

A Thanksgiving feast, circa 2014

The table is set: This Thanksgiving feast consisted of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, fresh rolls, green beans, yams with marshmallow topping, fruit salad, and cranberries. Drinks included wine and pumpkin spice sparking cider. (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)


I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence.

— Excerpt from Henry David Thoreau’s Letters to Various Persons, published by Ticknor and Fields, 1865. The quotation is page from 145.

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In this week’s address, President Obama wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving and reflected on the history of our country and its celebration of diversity.


The White House Thanksgiving menu

The First Family will soon be sitting down at the table to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal. Per the White House Press Office, here’s what’s on the menu this year:

For Dinner

  • Thyme Roasted Turkey
  • Honey-Baked Ham
  • Cornbread Stuffing
  • Oyster Stuffing
  • Braised Winter Greens
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Sweet Potato Gratin
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Dinner Rolls

What, no cranberries?

For Dessert

  • Banana Cream Pie
  • Coconut Cream Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Apple Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Cherry Pie

It certainly seems they have an excellent array of pies!


Pacific Northwest’s airports score very well in continental Airport Frustration Index

Bloomberg Businessweek recently surveyed over 3,000 frequent air travellers, crunched departure and arrival data, and looked at airport travel times to find out which cities are the most and least stressful places to catch a plane in North America. As it often does in quality of life contests, our region of the country did very well, with its major metro airports dominating the bottom of the list as the least frustrating places to hop on a flight.

The criteria were as follows:

  • Commute
  • Time at the terminal
  • Departures

Based on BB’s research, the top ten least frustrating airports are:

  1. YVR/Vancouver International (Score: 17.6)
  2. PDX/Portland Oregon International (Score: 18.4)
  3. AUS/Austin-Bergstrom (Score: 23.1)
  4. YYC/Calgary International (Score: 27.7)
  5. PHX/Phoenix Sky Harbor (Score: 28.3)
  6. TPA/Tampa International (Score: 29.5)
  7. SEA/Seattle-Tacoma International (Score: 31.7)
  8. YOW/Ottawa International (Score: 35.0)
  9. MSP/Minneapolis-St. Paul International (Score: 36.2)
  10. SAN/San Diego International (Score: 38.1)

Bloomberg found the most frustrating airports were New York’s LaGuardia, New Jersey’s Newark Liberty, and Virginia’s Dulles Airports.

Not all North American airports were ranked.

Seattle demonstrators protest Missouri grand jury's failure to return a verdict in Michael Brown shooting

Demonstrators are pictured in Seattle protesting a Missouri grand jury’s failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown (Photo: Tiffany Von Arnim/Reproduced under a Creative Commons license)


Thoughts on tonight’s shameful press conference by St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch

Earlier this evening, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch held a long, self-serving press conference to disclose that the grand jury he decided to make responsible for deciding whether charges ought to be brought against Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown had not returned an indictment. It was a shamefully staged event that has deservedly drawn much ridicule and scorn.

Here are some reactions to McCulloch’s statement, compiled from Twitter:

David Corn: This is a defensive statement. You can guess why.

Adam Bonin: McCullough has no right to claim to “join with” the Brown family or civil rights organizations about *anything*. That’s offensive.

Stephen Rose: The prosecutor defends the accused and presents his statement as the verdict. Is something wrong with that picture?

Congressman John Lewis: I know this hard. I know this is difficult. Do not succumb to the temptations of violence. There is a more powerful way.

Nichole: Shoot up a movie theater; blow up a marathon. Get taken alive. Steal blunts; hold a toy gun. Die.

Meredith Clark: This is unbelievable. If you’re not going to indict, say that. Don’t indict the public.

Judd Legum: Let’s not pretend this was an outcome of a well functioning judicial system that we are obligated to “accept”.

Ryan Grim: On probable cause: My car has been searched many times on less evidence than exists to merely charge Darren Wilson.

NPI President Robert Cruickshank: Indicted: Twitter. Media. Witnesses. Not indicted: officer who murdered a black man.

St. Louis Public Radio is uploading copies of the evidence that the grand jury considered while deliberating on whether to indict.


It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards

— Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, applauding forthcoming labeling rules that will require businesses that serve food to post calorie counts for their menu items.



Three-year old son of right wing gun fanatic shot in the mouth by playmate

This is just awful: According to reports by KIRO 7 and other local media, a young boy, about three years old, is in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after being accidentally shot in the mouth.

The young boy, we understand, had been playing with a neighbor about the same age in a locked bedroom inside a condo owned by a right wing gun fanatic, Jon Holzwarth. The police are still investigating what happened, but apparently the boys got their hands on one of the fanatic’s guns, and were playing with it.

Of course, it went off, and a bullet struck Holzwarth’s son, Michael. He’s said to be fighting for his life after being airlifted to the intensive care unit at Harborview.

A sign on the door of Holzwarth’s condo arrogantly proclaims, WE DON’T DIAL 911, with a gun emblem hanging below it, and emblems on his Jeep boast of his gun collection. With his son’s life hanging by a thread, Holzwarth evidently did dial 911 in spite of the stupid sign on his door, and first responders came to the rescue.

If Michael survives, it will be thanks to the professionals with highly advanced medical degrees at Harborview, who will hopefully tell Holzwarth in blunt terms to get rid of his gun collection and change his ways.

Research has documented that firearms ownership makes a household less safe.


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.


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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.

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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.

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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.