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

Quotation

What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better… I have no issue with Senator Cotton, or others, voicing their opinion in opposition to any deal to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Speaking out on these issues is clearly part of his job. But to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.

— Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) picks apart Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton over ‘mutinous’ Iran letter (via The Washington Post).

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Kurt Eichenwald: Controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails is a fake scandal

Writing for Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald shreds the New York Times’ defense of its Clinton email story, including a post filed by the Times’ Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan.

Photo
Pies assembled for Pi Day

An apple pie, blueberry pie, and Lego pie are pictured next to each on a tabletop. This photo was created in honor of Pi Day 2015 (3/14/15) by Bill Ward and reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

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Disney announces Frozen sequel

The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to cash in on its blockbuster animated feature film by turning it into a franchise. All of the principal cast of the first film are set to return, the studio says. No date has been set for the film’s release.

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When a teacher’s job depends on a child’s test

The New Yorker explores the problems with linking teacher compensation to student test scores.

Quotation

Bear in mind that the new MacBook also charges over the Type C connector—so, in the case of the $19 adapter that gives you a single standard USB connector, you can choose to either charge your laptop or connect a peripheral, not both. Even with the $79 adapters, if you want to keep your battery topped up, you only get a single USB port for expansion. This means that if you want to plug multiple USB devices into your new MacBook, you’ll need a daisy chain of dongles and hubs.

— Ars Technica’s Sebastian Anthony: The new MacBook: I hope you like dongles

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Not a joke: Utah Republicans want to bring back firing squads

So much for family values and the sanctity of life: Republicans in Utah have passed a bill bringing back firing squads to execute prisoners on death row if the state finds it can no longer obtain drugs to administer lethal injections.

Quotation

The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.

— Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif’s devastating response to a letter penned by Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and cosigned by most of the Senate Republican caucus, including Mitch McConnell.

Quotation

There’s never been a time when we’ve taken progressive action and regretted it.

— Former White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, speaking to New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait (How the White House learned to be liberal).

Quotation

We really don’t have 218 votes to determine a bathroom break over here on our side… So how are we going to get 218 votes on transportation, or trade, or whatever the issue? We might as well face the political reality of our circumstances and then act accordingly.

— Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, acknowledging that Republicans are as divided as ever, with budget bills now piling up (via The New York Times).

Quotation

They think $12 is high! Here’s their real choice: They can accept $12 now, or it will be much, much higher. If you’re the Association of Washington Business, you should run, not walk, to Olympia and demand they pass that $12 wage bill.

— Venture capitalist and well known philanthropist Nick Hanauer, telling Danny Westneat that the state’s business lobbies would be wise to embrace raising minimum wages to $12 now, or have an initiative campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage to $16 to look forward to in 2016.

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Through it all, Nancy Pelosi keeps sway over House Democrats

The New York Times files a fresh profile of House Democratic chief Nancy Pelosi, who has proven herself to be an effective leader both as Speaker and as House Minority Leader.

Quotation

If Senator Hoeven wants to play more hostage politics with the Keystone pipeline that simply revives the two big failures of their disastrous first two months. If they want to go that way, the politician in me says, ‘please.’

— Sheldon Whitehouse predicting Republican attempts to force President Obama to allow TransCanada to build Keystone XL will fail (via The Hill).

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NATO says Russian soldiers are ‘dying in large numbers’ in Ukraine

A top leader for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization says Russia is increasingly having difficulty concealing that its forces are present in Ukraine, assisting, arming, training, and fighting with the rebels, with losses mounting.

 

 

Quotation

This is a bad road we’re going down. For all their foibles, legislatures are still better places to solve public problems than the alternatives. They should try doing it again sometime.

— Danny Westneat, arguing that forsaking the legislative process will yield bad results in his column for The Seattle Times.

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State Senate doing its oily best to ignore us on transportation

The Republican-controlled Washington State Senate is doing its best to ignore a plan proposed by Governor Jay Inslee that would tax big polluters to pay for transportation, writes Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat. But, as Westneat goes on to explain, public opinion research shows that the governor’s plan is popular with the people.

Quotation

You have made a mess.

— House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, scolding Republicans for manufacturing a Department of Homeland Security funding crisis (via The Associated Press).

Quotation

I think a lot of people around here have to get serious about governing… It’s time for all these D.C. games to end, all these palace coups or whatever the hell is going on around here, has to end, and we have to get down to the business of governing.

— Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, speaking as the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly averted shutting down the Department of Homeland Security due to the Tea Party’s desire to force a confrontation with President Barack Obama over his executive order on immigration (via The Hill).

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Russia’s Boris Nemtsov, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, shot dead

An opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been murdered while crossing a bridge within sight of the Kremlin, the Russian Interior Ministry says. Boris Nemtsov had previously expressed fears that Vladimir Putin would arrange to have him killed due to his opposition to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

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Dozens of craters are opening up in Siberia and no one knows why

Several large new craters have mysteriously appeared in the remote northern reaches of Russia, according to The Siberian Times. Scientists are trying to figure out what’s creating the craters.

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New instrument readings show Earth’s climate is warming

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and U.C. Berkeley have produced the first direct evidence that human activity is giving Earth a fever, based on “extremely precise instruments” installed by the U.S. Department of Energy at two of its research facilities.