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Detroit police shoot suspected drug dealer in butt - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 1 hour 31 min ago

WDIV Detroit

Detroit police shoot suspected drug dealer in butt
Detroit Free Press
A plainclothes Detroit police officer shot a suspected drug dealer in the buttocks about this afternoon near a gas station south of the old Michigan State Fairgrounds. Assistant Detroit Police Chief Steve Dolunt said the suspect was running from police ...
Man Fleeing Suspected Drug Deal Shot By Detroit Police OfficerCBS Local
Man shot by Detroit police near Woodward, State FairWDIV Detroit
Man shot by police officer at State Fair and Woodward on Detroit's East sideWXYZ

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Categories: Berkley Area News

American Flag and Banner sells Old Glory in Clawson - WXYZ

Berkley Information from Google News - 1 hour 31 min ago


American Flag and Banner sells Old Glory in Clawson
CLAWSON, Mich. (WXYZ) - It's always a banner year at American Flag and Banner in Clawson, but the 4th is Christmas in July. Patriotism has been selling here for nearly a century. Bill Miles took over the store almost two generations ago, since then, he ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

What I Signed on to

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 33 min ago

How do I say this?

There comes a time, maybe long after, when you ask yourself why you wanted to serve the nation. An old poster tells me why I signed on:

In the entire grand poster field of World War II memory, full of hope and promise -- even swagger and boasting -- this poster stands out as a unique call to duty.

We are not winning here -- there is not even a promise of victory. Instead, ancestral ghosts are in formation for review. Is this still a beginning, or is it maybe a last hurrah for America? The spirit-soldiers are as stone-faced and grim as the winters at Valley Forge and the mountain fastness of the Wachtung had made them.

These are not the soldiers of victory -- these are the soldiers who will fight no matter what it comes to -- to the bitter end. These are the men who made this country.

Parading before them are the men now marching to the same dread uncertainty, in another war where American existence itself is in doubt. In the bitter winter of 1943, Rommel laid on a terrible defeat of American forces in Tunisia, 52 Soviet divisions were destroyed in the third battle of Kharkov, and convoys HX-229 and SC-122 lost 22 ships to U-boats. It was a grim March for the Allied cause.

So America's soldiers pass in review, from light into shadow, into fate's storm. Yet the Continental veterans are bathed in storm light, the kind you see in a lightning strike, or a moment's crack in dark clouds.

The GI's faces are turned -- a grimness highlighted by absolute anonymity. What does this mean? The message is this: We Americans are all in, and all in this together, and it is no longer about us anymore as individuals, but about us all together. We fight together; we sacrifice together; we live or die together.

Thus the motto is most important of all: Americans will always fight for liberty.

A poster about existence chooses its words carefully, and chooses them well. This is not a struggle for "freedom" -- it is a struggle for liberty. But liberty has the same Latin root as the Anglo-Saxon frēodōm. So what is the difference?

The usage of liberty has taken a distinct path in modernity. For example, while we say we give a people freedom, or even "liberate" them, we cannot give them liberty. Liberty is a self-made state of political realization that must be self-proclaimed, fought for, and won. It is the opposite state of being, say, the passive recipient of American altruism, like in Operation Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

Moreover, as George Orwell so archly reasoned in his guide to Newspeak, even in the all-grinding tyranny of 1984 you could still say: "The dog is free of fleas." Free is a loose, generic, individual, and even momentary state of mind and being.

Liberty, in contrast, is the living embodiment of the collective oath of a people -- and will ever be thus. So when the poster invokes liberty, it is speaking directly to the survival of Americans: Americans who can survive only by living in liberty.

Would that I could say, this July 4th, that I am the citizen of such a nation!

To the contrary, I see a nation committed to the defense of tyrannies that are nothing less than an abomination on humanity. I see a government that arrogates to itself the right to assassinate anyone on the planet that it deems displeasing. How many movements against tyranny and injustice has the United States sought to destroy, or fought relentlessly, or strafed and killed, simply because they threaten the cruel despots we call "friends and allies?"

Meantime, our military far more closely resembles the resplendent British regiments our Continental veterans once met in battle -- even if their digital camo looks nothing like royal scarlet and gold. General officers act like courtiers, and pin stripe courtiers ape the Roman Cubicularii of the imperial court, desperately seeking face time with the emperor. The radiance of our palace precincts on the Potomac far outshines the old limestone digs of the Sun King.

Yet what of all those fine officers I have taught, and with whom I served these years? They remain the stalwart and the good, like great rocks in a sea, to be used up by the system, where the waters rush over them, inexorably wearing them away.

And the people, for whom The Fourth is simply sunny respite for family BBQ, fireworks, and flat screen action, where have you been? Where have you been while the grand enterprise of the imperial state has played out its game of "strategic competition" and forever war these fifteen years?

You are supposed to be the army. You are supposed to be the state. You are supposed to be the unstoppable defending force of the American Idea. After all, you were not so long ago the very ones who always fought for liberty. My father fought. My uncle fought and died. Now, at BBQ, you have forgotten even what once you did.

Thus, in every great nation in every time, the idea for which we serve is always lost, long before the fall.

Michael Vlahos signed on to naval service in November 1974, serving also in the State Department and CIA, most recently teaching at the US Naval War College.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Inaugural Rib Fest opens in Royal Oak - WXYZ

Berkley Information from Google News - 1 hour 52 min ago


Inaugural Rib Fest opens in Royal Oak
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) - If you're staying close to home this holiday weekend and want to leave the grilling to someone else, you might want to check out the inaugural Rib Fest in Royal Oak. It's being held downtown at the Farmer's Market. In addition ...
It's All About Ribs in Royal Oak Independence Day

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Categories: Berkley Area News

What the Referendum Means for Greece

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 31 min ago

The news about Greece and its precarious financial situation has gripped the globe. There is a multidimensional matrix of positions, parameters and opinions arising from all the different working and interested parties. Clarity is essential ahead of the forthcoming referendum.

In a nutshell, a yes vote means willingness to work with Europe and to be amenable to cooperation; it is a positive call to seek help in a constructive way. This would in turn mean that tax rates must not be increased. Greek people see themselves as part of Europe. It is also true that the drachma will not bring the financial relief needed by Greece in a very short space of time. Yes the debt would be written off by the default, but market chaos would ensue whilst settling down to a new currency.

Greek goods and services would be exported and sold at the devalued rate of the new currency and imports would be subject to exchange controls. The result would be a difficult period of re-adjustment within Greece and somewhat Europe. This default would be like no other. For the country to become independent, the economy would have to restructure itself completely. The production levels for mined goods and other agricultural products will not be able to grow quickly, and services including tourism have a certain capacity and style, both sectors would need some time for any new investment to take effect for growth to be achieved.

The question remains who invests and who should invest in the Greek economy how and why.

The European partners of Greece are asking for certain reforms which would make Greece more competitive and more transparent and hence able to attract capital. Some other reforms like increasing the tax rate instead of reducing it -- perhaps to match the 10 percent of its neighbors -- may be punitive rather than productive and enlightened.

Some measures may be more effective than others and all should be evaluated. Does Europe see itself as ready and able to invest and co-manage with the host countries valuable infrastructure projects, and other essential governance activities, like the security of Europe and its borders, for the joint total benefit of the citizens of Europe, of investors, shareholders and the local population all becoming stakeholders, and engaged within common purpose?

This is the challenge Europe faces, and here it has an opportunity to rise to it. It is important to understand that Europe has looked kindly overall to the Greek predicament, and has been willing to help Greece. The key is to find the innovative path that will lead Greece out of the last century of politics into a more stable future. It is wrong to take the view that the correct process is divorce and to negotiate accordingly. There are segments of the population and the economy that are suffering and have suffered and they cannot be ignored.

Plans based on common sense of purpose and partnership in problem solving, are the basis for delivering the much needed change. There are many areas which should be subject to deep structural reform. The willingness has to be there from both sides to set priorities and tackle the change management systematically and with the full backing and support of the Greek population. Europe must not be so harsh, that any approach by the Greek people to establish a viable forward path will end in failure. Neither Greece should be so unyielding as to resist the necessary changes and next steps.

One thing is clear: Greece has not been able to manage its economy itself. Now Europe has to look within itself, to find excellence, those people, ideas, agreements, financing, projects and spirit of peace and conciliation that will lead to growth and stability for all.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Bernie Sanders Will End the IMF's Economic Violence in Greece and Africa

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 55 min ago

Many people want to know more about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' foreign policy agenda. Yes, they say, we like what Sanders is saying about reducing extreme inequality, about reducing the political power of the billionaire class. But what about U.S. foreign policy? Yes, they say, Bernie voted no on the Iraq war; yes, they acknowledge, Sanders supports the Iran deal. But we're spending more than half of our federal income tax dollars on the Pentagon's empire, money we should be spending on rebuilding our nation's domestic infrastructure. "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death," Dr. King said. What's Bernie going to do about that?

I'm all for pushing Bernie to talk more about downsizing the Pentagon to be an institution focused on actually defending the United States, as opposed to running around the world overthrowing other people's governments -- a Pentagon that "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy," as President John Quincy Adams put it.

But we should also take advantage of the new opportunity that now presents itself; it's not only with bombs that U.S. foreign policy kills and injures innocent civilians.

We should recognize and publicize the fact that Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who is talking about what the IMF is doing to Greece, the only presidential candidate who has a track record of opposing the IMF, the only presidential candidate who, if elected, is likely to do anything to end the economic violence of the IMF.

In his historic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, Jesse Jackson often invoked the theme of "economic violence":

Economic violence is the critical issue of our day. When plants close on workers without notice, and leave them without jobs or training for new jobs -- that's economic violence. When three to five million Americans are on the streets and homeless -- that's economic violence. When merger maniacs make windfall profits and top management is given excessive bonuses, golden parachutes to aid a soft landing, while workers are asked to take a wage cut, a benefit cut and a job loss, a crash landing -- that's economic violence. When our children are victimized with poor health care, poor education, poor housing, poor diets and more -- that's economic violence against our children.

Jesse Jackson was talking about U.S. domestic policy. But others have used the idea to talk about the IMF:

Hundreds of campaigners are marching in Prague as the main policy-making body of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) begins a meeting to discuss debt relief.

They want the IMF and its sister organisation, the World Bank, to cancel altogether debts owed to them by the poorest countries.

The protesters are staging a "funeral" procession through Czech capital to highlight their view that 7 million children a year die because of the debt crisis.

Jubliee 2000, which is organising the march, says it will be totally non-violent and that it is committed to peaceful protest.

"We condemn violence, both the violence which ends in broken windows, and the violence that kills 19,000 children a day," the group's UK director Ann Pettifor told the BBC.

The IMF is not "over there." The IMF is headquartered in Washington, physically, politically and financially. A progressive economist once reported that he was at a seminar at the IMF, where a senior IMF official was indignant that people were saying that IMF is unaccountable. The IMF official demanded to know: why do people always accuse us of being unaccountable? We never do anything without checking with the U.S. Treasury Department!

Until now, unfortunately, Congressional Democrats have been largely content to let Treasury to run the show at the IMF without the input of real Democrats.

The IMF is now doing to Greece what the IMF has been doing to Africa since the 1980s and what the IMF did to South America until the progressive governments there kicked the IMF out. The IMF is a member of the "troika" of official creditors that have been making extreme austerity demands on the Greek government and are now openly demanding "regime change" in Greece before there can be any deal that ends the crisis in Greece that the troika has imposed.

(Some people complain that we shouldn't blame the IMF for what is being done to Greece; they say that some other institution or actor is more responsible. These people want us to play "accountability whack-a-mole" with the institutions. We need to hold the institutions "jointly and severally liable"; and the IMF is the bad actor in the troika for whom Americans have the most responsibility.)

Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who is speaking out about this. In Congress, it's the progressive Democrats - including Sanders - who are speaking out about this.

U.S. support for the IMF is more politically fragile than many people realize. Many Congressional Republicans hate the IMF, in significant measure because they see the IMF as a Democrat-supported taxpayer-financed slush fund to bail out big private banks when their international bets go bad (which assessment is quite correct.) Without the support of Congressional Democrats, the IMF is dead meat in Washington. Whenever the IMF wants more money from Washington, there's a campaign to trick low-information Democrats into believing that the IMF is "foreign aid," so that Democrats will support it.

When more Democrats own the fact that the IMF agenda is the NAFTA-WTO-TPP agenda with a European internationalist smiley face mask pasted on, the IMF will be on a fast train to the dustbin of history. And this is not necessarily a remote prospect - the fact that this is the fundamental identity of the IMF is well known among labor activists, for example.

AFL-CIO chief economist William Spriggs recently wrote:

In the U.S. we must take the side of Greece in this fight. It is in our interest, as the immediate problem of the instability this is causing is a rising dollar that will hurt U.S. exports and jobs. And, we can never be sure of the interrelated nature of financial collapses since so much of the banking sector remains in the shadows; with global derivatives trading at values greater than global output.

More importantly, we must also revolt against this economic order. It is the same order that saved JP Morgan Chase, but let Detroit and now Puerto Rico fail. It is the same religion that would sacrifice the earnings of American students with rising student debt and de-invest in public higher education. It is the same religion that would sacrifice American jobs and labor standards and back the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We must see these as the same struggle to restore sanity and purpose to role of government and its servant, the economy.

This is why supporters of the IMF should be very afraid that Bernie Sanders and progressive Democrats are denouncing what the IMF is doing to Greece. You can add your voice here.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Memo to Media: Ask Trump if He's a 'Serial Racist'

Huffington Post News - 3 hours 56 min ago

It's easy to laugh off Donald Trump's fact-free comments about Mexican immigrants being rapists. And easy to poke fun, as Jon Stewart did, at Trump's grudging admission that some Mexican immigrants might be "good people."

But there is a serious issue here, and mainstream media interviewers have neglected to ask Trump about it -- and that's Trump's history of pointing the finger of rape at innocent men of color. I'm talking about his high-profile effort years ago that fanned racial tensions after perhaps the most notorious rape in New York City's history.

In 1989, a white, female investment banker was viciously raped and nearly murdered while jogging in Central Park. Police quickly pinned the crime on five Black and Latino youths, aged 14 to 16, after extracting rape confessions (soon to be retracted). Mainstream media piled on behind the police -- abandoning usual hedge words of "accused" or "alleged" -- by referring to the accused rapists as a "wolf pack" and "park marauders."

A racially-tinged lynch mob had formed, and real estate mogul Donald Trump used his money to try to lead the mob.

A dozen days after the attack, as the 100-pound rape survivor emerged from a coma, Donald Trump bought a full-page ad in all four New York dailies with the banner headline: "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!"

Trump's ad spoke of "roving bands of wild criminals" who "roam our neighborhoods"; it decried a "permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman and then laugh . . ."

The ad blamed civil liberties concerns for permissiveness and, ultimately, the Central Park rape: "Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS" [capitalization in the original]. Trump called for killers to be "executed for their crimes."

We know now -- after the five convicted Harlem youths had collectively served more than 40 years in prison for the crime -- that they had not raped anyone. Sarah and Ken Burns' documentary, "The Central Park Five," shows that the wrongful imprisonment resulted partly from police/prosecutorial misconduct and an abridging of the youths' civil liberties.

Needless to say, if the youths whose alleged crime sparked Trump's ad had been put to death, we would have had five more innocent men of color executed in our country.

Thirteen years after the Central Park rape and Donald Trump's full-page ad, it became clear - thanks to a jailhouse confession confirmed by DNA testing - that the culprit, acting alone, had been a convicted serial rapist.

A question journalists might pose to candidate Trump today, especially when he's discussing the issue of rape: "Mr. Trump, are you a serial racist?"


Jeff Cohen is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he is an associate professor of journalism. He founded the progressive media watch group FAIR in 1986.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Watch The Emotional Moment A Judge Recognizes The Accused As A Former Classmate

Huffington Post News - 4 hours 32 min ago

Courtroom cameras captured the bittersweet moment that a south Florida judge realized the burglary suspect in front of her was a former middle-school classmate.

Arthur Booth, 49, was in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for a bond hearing Thursday when Judge Mindy Glazer asked him if he had attended a nearby middle school, according to WSVN News.

"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness," Booth said as he realized the judge was a former classmate.

Booth then burst into tears when Glazer reminisced about their childhood.

"This was the nicest kid in middle school," the judge said, according to KFOR-TV. "He was the best kid in middle school. I used to play football with him, all the kids, and look what has happened."

Booth repeated, "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness," as he wept.

WSVN News reported that Booth had been arrested Wednesday in connection with a June 29 burglary.

Booth's cousin Melissa Miller told WPLG-TV that she believes Booth cried because he was ashamed of his arrest.

"It just brought back memories of how smart he was," Miller said. "He was a scholar, well-rounded athlete, bilingual."

She said the bright future Booth once faced was destroyed by drugs. "I was heartbroken. I mean, it just broke my heart," Miller said. "We're really trying to find help because there's obviously a need for help."

Glazer set Booth's bond at $43,000 and told him she hopes he will turn his life around.

"Good luck to you, sir," she said. "I hope you're able to come out of this OK and just lead a lawful life."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Fordham, Education Department Sued Over Student's Mental Health Records

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 54 sec ago

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A graduate student has sued Fordham University, seeking $5 million in damages and saying the college violated her civil rights by demanding her entire record of mental health treatment as a condition for returning.

The federal lawsuit by Emily Pierce also names the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights, saying the agency has been investigating her discrimination complaint for two years but has gone silent.

Pierce, now 34, was studying at the Graduate School of Social Services in 2011 and 2012, then took two medical leaves. She alleges her federal complaint resulted in retaliation by Fordham, a Jesuit school in the Bronx.

A university spokesman said Fordham followed well-established re-entry procedures in Pierce's case.

"After all this I'm bankrupt," Pierce said. She's now working in retailing, facing debt collectors, hoping to finish her degree to become a social worker and said she's trying to ensure no other mental health patients are treated the same way.

According to the lawsuit, Pierce re-entered the program where she had a 3.3 grade point average after the first medical leave in 2012 and sought additional financial aid. The disagreement over medical records led to the complaint and a second medical leave in 2013 and further demand for records. Pierce said she had provided a letter from her psychiatrist at the time, saying she was ready and able in the fall of 2013 to return.

The Office of Civil Rights initially found she had viable claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, arranging mediation between Pierce and school officials and their lawyers, which failed, the lawsuit said.

"Fordham's well-established re-entry procedures were followed closely in the case of Emily Pierce," spokesman Bob Howe said. "Fordham has complied with all of OCR's requests in a timely manner in this case."

He declined to share Fordham's policy on access to student medical records with The Associated Press.

According to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, schools may inquire into a student's current condition and request recent mental health information and records, but only the information needed to determine whether the student is a threat. "The school cannot insist on unlimited access to confidential information or records," Bazelon said in a 2008 report on campus rights.

The Education Department's Office of Civil Rights tries to resolve most complaints within 180 days but some take longer due to their complexity, spokesman David Thomas said. It refrains from offering opinions without a thorough investigation and doesn't comment on pending litigation, he said.

The situation was further complicated, Pierce said, during her second leave of absence from a misdiagnosis by a psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Westchester, changing her primary diagnosis from recurrent depression to schizoaffective disorder. She said Dr. Xiaolei Baran also changed her medications in what became an agonizing three-week inpatient treatment that followed an emergency room visit when Pierce reported feeling overwhelmed.

In a federal complaint initially filed with the Justice Department in December 2013, seven months after her hospital discharge, Pierce also alleged New York Presbyterian improperly shared information with Fordham, violating her privacy rights. The Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for enforcing patient privacy rules, reviewed that complaint and rejected it, saying it wasn't filed within 180 days, as required.

A hospital spokeswoman said New York Presbyterian wasn't named in the suit and declined to comment.

Calls to Baran were not returned.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

11 Reasons to Love the USA On July 4th

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 8 min ago

July 4th signals both the beginning and the ending of summer for me. Don't know about you, but the summer just seems to fly after this holiday despite our best efforts to soak it all in. In addition to the celebrations of barbecues and fireworks, we're also celebrating the greatness of a document that declared the independence and sovereignty of our country and the individual rights we've come to accept as a result.

As a country, we still have work to do (equal pay for women, anyone?) but the good news is we have the freedom to live our personal agendas safely. We may join whatever groups, clubs, or political parties we so choose without fear of repercussion. Those on the fringes who threaten our safety or interfere with our rights just don't get that freedom is what America is all about.

Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the magnificent freedoms this beautiful and diverse country allows. And, sometimes, we need to take a moment to remind ourselves how truly lucky we are.

So, soak up the sun this weekend, but don't forget to bask in the exceptional freedoms we enjoy in the USA:

1. Freedom to love. Most Americans celebrated the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling this week. But even for those who didn't, it's important to recognize what this ruling represents. It represents a country that is open and accepting. A country that doesn't tell its' citizens whom to marry. A country that fights discrimination rather than promotes it. And those are things we can all celebrate.

2. Freedom to learn. Every citizen of this country is given the gift of education from kindergarten through high school. And, no matter who you are, how much money you have, or what disabilities you may struggle with, not one of us is turned away from this incredible opportunity. Want to go on to higher education? Opportunities abound there as well. We choose how far we want to take our education.

3. Freedom to excel. We have the right to have ambitions, to hope for more, to work toward bettering ourselves. True, we have a long way to go in ensuring sustainable living for all, but there aren't any laws in place that prevent us from pursuing our dreams. Carry on, dreamers! You never know where those dreams may take you.

4. Freedom to believe. Religious? Atheist? Agnostic? You choose. And no one will tell you to do otherwise. Next time you openly celebrate a holiday or walk into your place of worship, take a moment to appreciate this immeasurably beautiful right.

5. Freedom to travel. Want to explore the world? Great. Get your passport, pack your bags, and book your flight. Really. It's that simple. Having the freedom to leave the US and return at will may be something we take for granted and absolutely should not.

6. Freedom to speak up. Don't like your congresswoman? The president? The mayor of your town? You're free to make your feelings known. You won't be arrested or tortured for it. You won't be thrown into prison at the whim of a tyrannical government. Want to protest peacefully? All yours.

7. Freedom to videotape. Recently we've watched as the most unsettling incidents unfolded in real time thanks to witnesses who used their cell phones to record these travesties. And guess what? We have the right to do that (with some caveats). See something? Start rolling. As long as you're not violating someone else's privacy, you're within your rights. And you may be providing invaluable testimony as well.

8. Freedom to express ourselves sexually. Monogamy? Gay pride parade? Online porn? Open marriage? As long as it doesn't involve those who can't or don't legally consent, the field is endless in the ways we can comfortably and freely express our sexuality.

9. Freedom to procreate. You decide how many kids you want, not the government. Huge brood or none at all? Go forth and multiply as you see fit.

10. Freedom to vote. Eighteen or over? Sign up and submit your ballot. No one will stop you. No one will force your vote. No one can relieve you of this right. This is one of the greatest freedoms the US provides. We might not always get the government we want, but we're free to try.

11. Freedom to celebrate our freedoms. We're not a perfect nation nor do we claim to be. We have much work to do on many fronts. But we're also a country that has demonstrated a willingness to grow and evolve to the benefit of our citizens. So, despite our differences -- and because of them -- let's celebrate and appreciate our Day of Freedoms and this spectacular country we call home.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Is Silicon Valley Charting the Future While All the World's Pols Play Small Ball?

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 19 min ago

"It is dangerous to mix godlike technology with megalomaniac politics but it might be even more dangerous to blend godlike technology with myopic politics. Our politics is becoming mere administration and is giving up on the future exactly when technology gives us the power to reshape that future beyond our wildest dreams. Indeed, technology gives us the power to start reshaping even our dreams. If politicians don't want the job of planning this future, they will merely be handing it on a platter to somebody else."

Professor Yuval Harari

As we contemplate our present and future around the 239th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, are we being myopic? Is our politics focused mainly on marginalia while real change, big change, is being prepped elsewhere?

In a cover story late last month in the usually intriguing British magazine New Statesman, entitled "Who Owns the Future?: The Silicon Valley Prophets And A Runaway World," Israeli historian Yuval Harari argues that, following a 20th century dominated by political movements pushing profound change, the new century is ironically marked by political managerialism and arguments on the margins. Ironically not only in comparison to the not so long ago, but especially because revolutionary change is just around the corner. In this case, not from political visionaries but from technological imagineers.

Communism and fascism failed, while liberalism succeeded in the 20th century in establishing vast new education, health, and welfare establishments. The conflict over these revolutionary movements, violent and non-violent, Harari argues, left politics coming out of the 20th century enervated and wary, with the outcome of the great ideological wars mostly horrible. The relative triumph of liberal moves to create vast new establishments to uplift and ameliorate carried with it the pressing need to manage the new leviathans. And something else happened as well to tamp down political enthusiasm and imagination: The triumph of the market and the accompanying political counsel to do little other than help business and finance.

Geopolitical threats? Challenging, but manageable. China and Russia are playing familiar great power games. Terrorism has taken a minor toll. North Korea and Iran, with threats of missiles and nukes? "That's so 1945," scoffs Harari, author of the provocative international best-seller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. (Tell that to Bibi Netanyahu.)

This is a particularly bad time for politics to go small-bore, suggests Harari, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, because new forces are being unleashed, the implications of which more than rival the fever dreams of Communism and fascism.

Now the grand visions of the future stem largely from the private sector, from revolutions in biotechnology and supercomputing leading to projected changes in the human genome, the creation of cyborgs and robots and artificial intelligences and a post-scarcity society in which most people consume rather than produce.

This last, also covered in the new Atlantic cover story on "The End of Work," posits the obsolescence of many millions of jobs, leading to the rise of the "economically useless," requiring radical new arrangements in society.

Also part of the foreshadowed technology-driven remaking of economy and society? The overcoming of old age and possible defeat of death, the engineering of super-humans, the advent of the "Internet of Things," and some sort of merger between human awareness and a new super-Neet to produce a higher level of consciousness.

How valid are Harari's assessments?

Allowing for a certain degree of Silicon Valley hype and journalistic exaggeration, they seem valid enough to consider.

Are pols really only into small ball driven by hack politics and megabucks? Well, for the most part, yeah.

Isn't gay marriage a revolutionary advance? Not really. It's certainly quite historic. But it only directly affects a relatively small number of folks, providing more a memorialization of further advance of their hard-won rights than a breakpoint in human civilization.

Isn't climate change a civilizational issue?

Why yes, it is. And the world is so far failing the test, refusing to take logical and achievable steps to avert a scenario in which the world becomes perilously close to uninhabitable for humanity.

Climate change is an example of an issue in which a few politicians -- like Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- have engineered dramatic action.

Not that Schwarzenegger or Brown is anyone's idea of a typical politician. That's one of the reasons I've always liked those guys.

Their sort of Think Big agenda -- on climate, renewable energy, conservation, clean transportation systems, water, stem cell research, and so on -- provides the exception that proves the rule. And of course, as Californians, they are near the Silicon Valley gravity well which further encourages thinking different(ly).

Speaking of which, again, is all this stuff Harari is talking about real or just so much hype?

Well, Silicon Valley has a history of "vaporware." And there is a present annoying tendency to act as though various largely trivial "apps" are big "game-changers."

However, there is also the rest of the history, of massive change.

It's not hard to notice that some extremely high-powered techies are getting to be like Tony Stark on a caffeine buzz. And the subliminal hmm of revving new tech is getting louder.

So what should the political and media classes do? Pay attention. Learn. And think, not tweet, about it.

As our small ball politics rolls inexorably into a presidential primary season already redolent with risible distractions, with the prospect of a general election between the inheritor of one non-great presidency squaring off against the inheritor of another non-great presidency ever present on the horizon, the same old song and dance is likely to continue.

Politics is seldom ahead of the curve on big change.

Just ask my old friend and boss Gary Hart, who tried to devise a post-Cold War politics in the midst of the Cold War only to be shot down from his presidential frontrunner's perch in a sex scandal spoon fed to the media just as hearings on the massive Iran/Contra scandal were getting underway.

The Cold War ended less than five years later, to the widespread shock of its most ardent promoters, as Hart's friend Mikhail Gorbachev dismantled the Soviet empire. Not that we ever got a coherent post-Cold War politics.

Will the prophesied wave of deep technological change make us happier? Harari notes that the earlier, pre-technological revolutions of the 20th century left society more atomized.

Looking at what was to come with the personal computing revolution 30 years ago, one of its pioneers then questioned what was beginning to unfold.

With Hart riding high after his near miss '84 presidential campaign, I put together a meeting between him and the principal inventor of the personal computer, Steve Wozniak. The Apple co-founder had been an enthusiastic backer and Democratic convention delegate for Hart and I wanted his support for Hart's think tank.

The meeting at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel began well. Since this was in the days before the mobile phone changed everything by turning half the world into shuffling extras in The Walking Dead, I slipped away to make some calls on a pay phone only to find up my return that Gary and Woz were a bit at loggerheads. The issue? Whether people with all their gadgets were happier than cave men.

The ultra-bright if a bit unworldly Woz took the position that cave men were really better off than we were with all the gadgets we had and were about to have. The gadgets were a distraction. Wolves seemed to be in the mix as well.

Which provided me with a distraction to get things back on track, noting that the cave folks had lacked an environmentally benign program for wolf control.

Yet the point, of course, remains. Are we happier today than we were four thousand years ago? (To adjust a saying of a certain former president.) Or are we better distracted?

I have neither an answer nor a quip. The one thing that is sure that we're quite different. Fortunately, we understand that.

If we fail to understand how we'll be different after the next waves of big change, we will be in big trouble.

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William Bradley Archive

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

SAE Fraternity Hires Woman To Lead Diversity Efforts

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 20 min ago

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The fraternity connected to a racist video featuring University of Oklahoma students that surfaced this spring announced Thursday that it has hired a director of diversity and inclusion.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon said it has appointed Ashlee Canty, who has worked in fraternity and sorority affairs at DePaul University and Syracuse University, to the new position to help oversee efforts to enhance diversity at the fraternity's more than 230 chapters. Canty, who is African-American, also will work with local chapters to develop a system for monitoring and reporting diversity statistics.

The position is part of an initiative announced by the Evanston, Illinois-based fraternity in March after members of the now-defunct OU chapter were recorded taking part in a chant that included a reference to lynching and used a racial slur to describe how black students would never become members. At the time, SAE's Executive Director Blaine Ayers acknowledged the chant was likely shared at the fraternity's six-day retreat during an informal "social gathering" outside the normal slate of classes and seminars.

After the video came to light, OU President David Boren ordered two students expelled, severed ties with the local chapter and closed down the fraternity house. More than 20 other members of the chapter faced punishment that included mandatory community service and cultural sensitivity training.

The fraternity also announced in March that it was reviewing all 237 chapters for racially offensive behaviors, but a spokesman said Thursday that investigation hasn't been completed.

"We knew that it was going to take some time," said SAE spokesman Brandon Weghorst. "It's tough to perform an investigation over the summertime whenever the undergraduates aren't even on campus."

SAE began collecting racial and ethnic data in 2013. About 3 percent of SAE's reporting members identified as African-American and 20 percent identified as non-white, Ayers said.


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Categories: Political News and Opinion

If Mexicans Toasted The 4th Of July The Way Americans Toast Cinco De Mayo

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 34 min ago

Official beverage of America: Natural Light.

Every year on the 5th of May, Americans consume tacos and tequila in honor of -- wait, what is it for? ... oh, really? -- Mexico's military victory over France in the Battle of Puebla. If you're of Mexican descent, you've probably grown a little tired of U.S. stereotypes and misinformation about Cinco de Mayo. For the record, Mexico's Independence Day is actually Sept. 16.

Well, now the poorly researched holiday shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Check out this Flama original video in which Mexicans celebrate the 4th of July in the same way that Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

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Almost 200 years ago, Michigan and Ohio fought a war—and Wisconsin lost

Daily Kos Michigan Feed - 5 hours 40 min ago

(click to enlarge)

In the 1750s, an American physician-cum-botanist named John Mitchell, despite living in Britain at the time and possessing no training as a geographer, nevertheless produced one of the most important maps of the colonial era, on that would ultimately bear his name, the Mitchell Map. The map was impressive at its time and was regularly used to settle border disputes all the way through the 1980s, but it did contain its share of errors. Above, for instance, was Mitchell's depiction of Michigan, which, it's fair to say, stands at odds with what it actually looks like.

The real problem, though, was how Mitchell depicted Lake Michigan. By the turn of the 19th century, some 50 years after Mitchell's first published his map and decades after his death, fur traders began to realize that the lake extended a few miles farther south than Mitchell had imagined. Big deal, though, right? So some old map created by a long-deceased amateur cartographer who'd never set foot in the lands he'd set out to describe got a few details wrong. Who could even care?

The very angry people of Ohio, that's who. It turns out that the architects of the Northwest Ordinance (experiencing high school history flashbacks right about now?) relied on the Mitchell Map to set the border between Ohio and Michigan, and the relevant portion specified that the dividing line would be "an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan."

So now you see the problem: If Lake Michgan's southern tip was, in fact, south of where Mitchell had thought it was, then Ohio's northern border would, consequently, also be shifted south by the same distance. And this was no small thing, because in that narrow slice of land defined by the gap between the Mitchell Map and reality lay the commercially important city of Toledo, which was in the process of becoming Cincinnati's gateway to Lake Erie thanks to the construction of the Miami and Erie Canal (not to be confused with New York's more famous Erie Canal, but both waterways were instrumental in linking the interior to the Atlantic).

Head below the fold to find out what it was known as and much more.

Categories: Local and Michigan Blogs

Koch-Backed Group Calls For No More National Parks

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 41 min ago

Just in time for the Fourth of July — when millions of people across the country will visit America’s national parks and other public lands — the Koch brothers are rolling out their latest campaign against these treasured places: pushing for no more national parks.

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Rwanda Again Faces Lunacy and the "Rubbish of Injustice"

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 43 min ago

As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July and our independence from foreign domination, we might be surprised to learn that Rwanda celebrated its day of independence on July 1.

Americans are fiercely proud of this heritage, and so is Rwanda. The difference in Africa is that "independence" is an ongoing struggle against a backdrop of powerful foreign interests.

Spain is currently exercising the doctrine of universal jurisdiction in a capricious, rapacious, and illegal manner against Rwanda and, by extension, the entire continent of Africa. You won't read much analysis, if anything, about it in the American press. Of course the bare facts about the arrest and detention of Lieutenant General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, head of Rwanda's National Intelligence and Security Service, are available. On June 20, he was detained at Heathrow Airport at the request of a Spanish magistrate. Released on £1 million bail, Karake must remain in the United Kingdom until an extradition hearing on October 29. The charge? Genocide deniers, operating under the guise of "human rights groups" have accused Karenzi Karake of participating in war crimes against Spanish civilians and Hutu perpetrators of the genocide. These alleged crimes took place during and after the time that the Rwandan Patriotic Front liberated Rwanda from the slaughter of up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

The ashes of genocide have been stirred in a painful reminder, and Rwanda is standing alone in the international community with the exception of the African Union, which has strongly condemned the arrest and detention of Karake. Meeting in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, the AU protested the detention of Karake on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the Spanish judge. In strong language, the AU said it was not only an attack on a Rwandan national, but on Africa as a whole.

Listen to what president Paul Kagame said in response to the Spanish attack on African independence and international acquiescence.

It is a "rubbish of injustice," Kagame said.

Universal jurisdiction is a sinister cousin to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which allowed European settlers to decimate the indigenous people of the North America. Manifest Destiny ordained that the expansion of the United States was destined to stretch from coast to coast. In a similar manner, the doctrine of universal jurisdiction "allows states or international organizations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused's nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting entity." It would seem to be obvious that this arrest is politically motivated. How can any country, let alone the UK, which professes to have a strong relationship with Rwanda, honor an arrest warrant issued by a non-African judge? The AU considers this to be a blatant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Africa and African states.

International law is being used as a fig leaf to disguise the growing cancer of genocide denial. In recent years there has been a drumbeat, sanctioned by the United States and the United Nations, against Rwanda. It is reminiscent of the persecution of Israel after it rose from the ashes of the genocide of World War II. Success seems to breed contempt in the international community. Rwanda is the most stable and successful country in central Africa, and has achieved this stature a mere 21 years after a horrific genocide. President Obama and the Department of State seem oblivious to what happened 21 years ago. Obama has cordial phone conversations with President Joseph Kabila in neighboring DRCongo. Meanwhile, the FDLR perpetrators of the 1994 genocide have found a haven in eastern Congo and continue to wreak havoc on the Tutsi population there.

As Africa continues to throw off the shackles of European colonialism and emerges as a significant global power, it is remarkable that the African Union is coming together in defense of Rwanda. The United States and the United Nations should stay out of it completely, or at the very least, react in an intelligent and diplomatic manner. Supporting the deniers of genocide is an immoral stance, and should be vigorously condemned by people of good conscience.

The timeline of the Spanish indictment is troubling and requires some analysis.

On the surface, the storyline goes back to 2008, when Spanish judge Fernando Andreu Merelles issued an indictment against Karake and 39 Rwandan military officers. You can read the indictment and rationale here, and please take the time to do so. Remember, this was issued in 2008 and basically repeats the disingenuous anti-Rwandan Patriotic Front rhetoric of the post genocide years of the 1990's.

Genocide deniers offer the claim that it was the Tutsis, in a Machiavellian plot, who orchestrated the genocide against themselves as a pretext to seize power from the Hutus. Readers should take some responsibility and do some critical analysis. Does it make any sense at all for the Tutsis to exterminate their own people? Revisit PBS's excellent "Ghosts of Rwanda," and learn what really happened. Visit Rwanda and help the people guarding the churches and reclaiming the bones of the one million murdered--bones that are still found in tilled fields and reclaimed from old latrines.

Go to Rwanda and see for yourself

You won't find a condemnation of the Spanish indictment in the international press in 2008, but you will find a confidential report on wikileaks that has US diplomats calling out the accusations as "outrageous and inaccurate."

Summary. The Spanish indictment of 40 Rwandan military officers offers an unrecognizable version of some of the most painful and violent episodes in Rwanda's history, distorting the established record, inventing mass killings, placing the blame for any misfortune Rwandans have suffered (including the 1994 genocide) on the Kagame government. It is a bloated political tract, sloppily organized and endlessly repetitive, and, ultimately, a disservice to those Rwandans who suffered real losses from revenge killings by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed forces of the Rwandan
Patriotic Front (RPF). End summary.

The United Nations' "groups of experts" are as believable as the individuals who write the reports. In recent years, the experts have castigated Rwanda, but a 2009 report on the Democratic Republic of Congo offers compelling evidence that the Spanish NGOs who pushed for the indictment of Karake and others were also behind support for the FDLR anti-Tutsi rebels operating in eastern Congo. See paragraphs 112-119 in this document.

112. One case relates to financial support provided to FDLR through funding received by FundaciÛ SíOlivar and Inshuti, both Spanish charitable organizations. On the basis of testimonies, original e-mail correspondence, audio recordings of conversations, telephone log analysis and receipts of money transfers, as well as other documents, the Group established that FDLR has received regular financial, logistical and political support from individuals belonging to the above charitable institutions which, in turn, were funded directly or indirectly from the government of the Balearic Islands, a provincial authority in Spain.

Why did this arrest happen now? Karake has traveled to European Union countries many times since 2008. At the time of his arrest he was traveling on a diplomatic passport and on official business. In this day and age "war crimes" can be found mostly in the eye of the beholder. British and American soldiers, former presidents Bush, and the Israeli armed forces have been accused of "war crimes." The term should be banished until and unless political machinations are removed from international relations.

When an activist group learned that Karake was in the UK and alerted Judge Andreu Merelles, the Spanish judge who issued the 2008 indictment wasted no time in issuing a warrant. In an interesting twist, Cherie Booth, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, is on General Karake's defense team.

It is good to see the African Union standing up for its member states against former colonialist powers.

Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said it best on Twitter: "Western solidarity in demeaning Africans is unacceptable!! It is an outrage to arrest #Rwanda-n official based on pro-genocidaires lunacy!"

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Here's How You Can Help Stop Children From Being Placed In Adult Prisons

Huffington Post News - 6 hours 27 min ago

It's no exaggeration to say that when teenagers are placed in adult prison, horror results. Huffington Post reporter Dana Liebelson investigated the ongoing abuses in her hard-hitting new story, "Cruel And All-Too-Usual."

"The adult system is not designed in any way, shape or form to treat children, to rehabilitate children, or to recognize that children are different than adults," an American Civil Liberties Union advocate told Liebelson.

Within the juvenile justice system, staff receive special training on how to deal with younger prisoners, and the youthful inmates have access to appropriate education and counseling. Rarely is that true in adult prisons. And when the kids are beaten and tortured by prison guards and other inmates, that abuse can have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives.

Last month, Kalief Browder, who suffered through two years of solitary confinement at New York's infamous Rikers Island, killed himself. He was 21 years old.

Historically, the juvenile justice system was designed specifically to acknowledge the fact that children are different from adults and thus require different treatment. Young people, for example, have a much better chance of being rehabilitated than adults do.

However, as Liebelson found, America's prison system does a poor job of enforcing this distinction. Far too many children end up incarcerated alongside adults. In 2013, nearly 6,000 kids were being held in adult prisons.

You can help by signing a petition from CREDO Action asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch an immediate investigation into this problem.

Click here to sign the petition.

And if you haven't done so, be sure to read and share Liebelson's article -- which is part of HuffPost Highline, our new initiative dedicated to compelling long-form journalism.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Little libraries a big goal for Berkley woman - The Oakland Press

Berkley Information from Google News - 6 hours 30 min ago

The Oakland Press

Little libraries a big goal for Berkley woman
The Oakland Press
Berkley Councilmember Jack Blanchard, and Friends of the Berkley Library member Shirley Hansen, stand next to the Little Free Library the pair worked on together. Hansen is heading up a drive to place the small structures, stocked with books, in every ...

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Categories: Berkley Area News

People On Third Base Claiming They Hit a Triple, or Marginal Product Theory at Work... Not!

Huffington Post News - 7 hours 21 min ago

One of the less defensible assumptions of microeconomics is that people get paid their "marginal product," i.e., their wage equals the value of the output they produce. Thus, according to the theory, if the last worker hired is being paid an hourly wage less than the value of the firm's output per hour, if would make sense to hire additional workers and visa versa, to the point where the value of the last unit of output equals the wage.

Now, it would be unduly persnickety to insist that this formulation holds exactly, and there's certainly solid evidence that wages correlate positively with education, so the theory isn't completely batty.

But it is way too easy to find egregious exceptions, as in this article for this AMs WaPo about the earnings and income of Jeb Bush and his family. To be clear, this is a non-partisan rant, as it's extremely easy to find e.g.'s of people of all political stripes being paid in ways that have little to do with their marginal product.

But the article does an excellent job of taking you through the interaction of how Bush cashed in on his public service, brought his family along for the ride (as in added them to the payroll), gamed the tax code (by writing off generous pensions and compensation packages), with little evidence of "marginal product." EG, there's the part about advising Lehman didn't turn out so well.

Now, the boneheaded response to all this is that by assumption, he (and somehow his wife and kid) were being paid their marginal product, because if they weren't, then they wouldn't have been...paid their marginal product, that is (that's supposed to be word salad, just to be clear).

But, in fact, that's often what we hear, and beyond, "really?...seriously??" it's hard to disprove unmeasurable assumptions (we can "back out" productivity outcomes in the case of the Lehman collapse, but that's rare).

Some notable research, such as the work on financial markets by economist Thomas Philipon, finds that the sharp rise of compensation in that sector has not been match by productivity gains, while it quite nicely tracks financial market deregulation, clear evidence of rent-seeking versus marginal product.

No question, skills and your ability to contribute to firm output often plays some role in pay setting. But here's what else matters, and increasingly so as you go up the pay scale, and even more increasingly so in our era of heightened inequality: power, connections, your race, your gender, and vast amounts of money in politics and policy.

What's more, those who benefit from the arrangement just described love to cite the "rules" of economics and markets, like marginal product, to fend off the justifiable disbelief with which such self-aggrandizing BS should be met.

In other words, cutting through the theory, there are a lot of people out there who were born on third arguing that they hit a triple. Do not believe them. Most of them never even swung a bat.

This post originally appeared at Jared Bernstein's On The Economy blog.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Labor Secretary Says New Overtime Rule Will Help Millions 'Get Back Into The Middle Class'

Huffington Post News - 7 hours 38 min ago

WASHINGTON -- Over the past year, as his agency was developing a rule to expand overtime pay to more Americans, Labor Secretary Tom Perez met a lot of workers who log brutal hours. Amid all the tales of double shifts and missed time with the kids, something that one man said to him stood out.

"There was one worker who worked 60, 70 hours a week regularly," Perez recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post. "I asked him, 'When was the last time you had a vacation?' He said, 'Vacation? Vacation is when I have a 40-hour week.'"

By that definition, the man may be getting a lot more vacation next year.

On Monday, the White House unveiled a major reform that should guarantee overtime coverage for salaried workers earning less than $50,440 per year. If the proposal goes into effect in 2016 as planned, an estimated 5 million new workers will be eligible for time-and-a-half pay, the standard overtime rate in the U.S., whenever they work more than 40 hours a week.

Currently, those workers are entitled to nothing beyond their base salary for the extra hours they commit, so employers have an incentive to pile it on. But once those workers are guaranteed time-and-a-half, employers will be paying a premium for the extra labor. For many workers, the administration hopes, the change will translate into either a bigger paycheck or more free time.

"I think the overtime rule could have the capacity to help millions of workers get back into the middle class," Perez said.

Last year, the president tasked Perez's team with developing the rule through an executive order. Because of the money at stake, the Labor Department was pressured from all sides -- from business lobbies that didn't want the current rules changed at all, to progressive economists and Democrats who wanted them changed dramatically.

In the end, the White House's proposal landed somewhere in the middle.

Since 2004, due to reforms made under President George W. Bush, the annual pay threshold below which salaried workers are guaranteed overtime pay has been just $23,660. People who make more than that amount and whose jobs are classified in certain ways by their employers -- say, being labeled a manager -- have been excluded from overtime. Some Democrats wanted Obama to raise the cutoff as high as $69,000, thereby entitling the majority of salaried workers to time-and-a-half.

The actual proposal at $50,440 didn't go that far, but it is still significantly more aggressive than many had expected.

The White House wanted the threshold to be equal to the 40th percentile of earnings for salaried Americans. When you look at the job duties performed by people near that line, Perez said, they tend to actually have managerial responsibilities, as opposed to being managers in name only. Perez said he believes the proposal strikes a fair balance.

"We wanted to get back to what the basic intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act was," he said, referring to the law that established overtime pay during the Great Depression. "The fundamental concern we had was that the 2004 rule ... really worked great for employers and was a disaster for workers. We needed to rebalance that."

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) was among the congressional Democrats pressing the White House to go big. Takano spearheaded a letter to the administration from progressive House lawmakers urging a cutoff of $69,000. Though the actual proposal is more modest, Takano said he was "very pleased" with what the White House decided on.

"I would say what [Obama] has done is very bold. He is more than doubling the level of eligibility," Takano told HuffPost. "That's not a small step. It's a big step."

Retailers agree it's a big step, and since they'll be affected more than most, they're continuing to campaign against the change. They will have ample more opportunity, given the 60-day public comment period before the proposal can be finalized. In a statement Thursday, the National Retail Federation, a trade lobby, said store managers would lose their independence and be forced to watch the clock.

"We think managers are professionals who should be able to make their own decisions. This plan isn’t about expanding the middle class -- it’s about turning salaried professionals into clock-watchers," said David French, the group's chief lobbyist.

Perez said he has met retail managers who would have already asked for overtime pay, had they not feared the repercussions.

"There are workers now who are scared to stand up for their rights, including managers," Perez said. "People think managers have leverage. Well, some do and some don't. 'If I speak up,' I was told repeatedly, 'I might get fired.' They need us to speak for them. That, to me, is an important function of government."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion