Andrés Sepúlveda, currently serving time for various crimes relating to the 2014 Colombian Presidential election, tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek how he conspired to rig multiple elections in Latin America for nearly a decade, working arm-in-arm (until the end, and that's why he's in jail!) with a man known as the "Karl Rove of Latin America." Mr. Sepúlveda's major insight: "voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers" -- which make sense, since establishment media don't earn anyone's trust -- and that such "spontaneous expressions" could be fabricated with ease and (importantly!) with little money. But at the risk of beating a dead horse: elections are a lot easier to rig when candidates don't inspire any confidence that they'll work for (or even try to work for!) the people. Hence his statement that he's "100 percent sure" this Presidential election is being tampered with is hardly surprising -- and it shouldn't scare us. (I doubt he's reformed, by the way.)
This is not a happy story: the NYC chapter of Habitat for Humanity took over $20 million in stimulus money to renovate abandoned buildings in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood -- but wound up helping push residents out of apartments there, and even into homelessness, in order to acquire the buildings in the first place. Stimulus demands are partly to blame -- Habitat NYC had to buy properties on the open market, rather than from the city, which doesn't sound like a welfare handout to big developers at all! -- but Habitat screwed up in choosing Bed-Stuy, which despite its high foreclosure rate didn't actually have very many vacant properties since rent-regulated tenants lived in them. Having embarked on this path, but finding the law in their way, Habitat NYC made other moves that, well, made the whole thing look less like incompetence and more like corruption.
We learn from Eleanor J. Bader at TruthOut that over the last few years, more and more colleges have been applying for, and receiving, Title IX exemptions -- which allows them to keep hoovering up taxpayer dollars while discriminating against whichever students seem to offend their "deeply-held religious beliefs." So, one more time: a university's "right" to be exempt from non-discrimination laws is not greater than a student's right to be protected by non-discrimination laws. Sadly, the law doesn't give our government much leeway to say stop yer whining and do the right thing already. I think it should be simple: take taxpayer money, follow the taxpayer's rules.
Ho hum, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who said a little over a week ago that considering the Merrick Garland nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was his "job," now says he's looked into Judge Garland enough to know all he needs to know and no longer supports holding hearings on his nomination. And I'm sure all those Tea Party threats to primary him in his upcoming election (yes, he's up this year!) had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And naturally, Sen. Moran is one of the few members of the Senate's informal Tea Party caucus! The swordfighting never ends on the right.
Finally, Fox and Friends's Steve Doocy assures us that Voter ID laws are "fair because when I go to CVS, I got to get out a driver’s license if I’m going to buy Benadryl." I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Mr. Doocy wasn't born in a poor hospital or outside a hospital back in the pre-World War II era such that he'd have no birth certificate, or that he's never been poor enough to have to choose between paying his bills and spending hundreds of dollars to replace lost official documentation he'd need to vote, or that he's never lived in a rural area where the state closed down all the DMVs so he has to take a day off from work to get a driver's license he may not use for any other purpose. Which reminds me: talking only to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the matter isn't exactly "fair and balanced."