Joan Walsh at The Nation reminds us that there was plenty of ugliness at the first night of the Republican National Convention without focusing on apparent plagiarism in Melania Trump's speech. Why, it's almost like the Trump camp came up with the plagiarism idea to distract us from everything else! Of course, we've lived through this already -- every time George W. Bush said something dumb as President, we got distracted from the real evil his Mobb was doing at that particular moment. (But memo to Chris Christie, who said Mrs. Trump's was "93 percent different" from Ms. Obama's 2008 speech: should I be impressed if he showed me his home and declared that he did not steal 93 percent of the items therein?)
Surprise, surprise, local and federal law enforcement officials went undercover to try to disrupt a major anti-fracking rally in Colorado two months ago, and that the Bureau of Land Management reimbursed local police for their efforts. Dear NSA agent reading my emails: want to know why they do these things? Because they don't want to drink poisoned water. Also, they don't want to live on a hothouse planet. Seems to me this is exactly why we asked Congress to investigate government spying on activists not too many days ago. Hate to pile on, but doesn't infiltrating grassroots organizations take money away from, you know, managing public lands?
In a peripherally-related development, New Zealand is contemplating granting personhood rights to the Whanganui River, only a few years after granting personhood rights to the Te Urewera national park. The arrangement essentially means that anyone bringing suit on the park's behalf can prove harm to the park, rather than a particular person, but I also spy a way not just of avoiding the hard work of shepherding public lands, but a way of avoiding paying to maintain public lands, too. And call me old-fashioned, but I don't think rivers are people, either -- even if they are far more natural than corporations.
HHS report finds a lot of 21st century innovations subverting the privacy protections offered by HIPAA. HIPAA, after all, only applies to the data your health provider and health insurer (and their partners) maintain, but the corporations that made the apps or wearables with which you count steps taken and calories burned? HIPAA's authors didn't anticipate that, and I guess I can't blame them. Of course, this is why we need a functioning Congress -- civilization demands constant maintenance.
Finally, America's Greatest Advice Columnist, Dan Savage, unloads on a questioner who queries him about voting for a third-party candidate. The crux of his argument: "Here's how you (create a viable third party in America): you run people not just for fucking president every four fucking years....Where are the Green Party candidates for city councils? For county councils? For state legislatures? For state assessor? For state insurance commissioner? For governor? For fucking dogcatcher? I would be SO willing to vote for Green Party candidates who are starting at the bottom." Slurs against America's Greatest Citizen Ralph Nader notwithstanding, he's got a point. And if you're thinking third parties have a lot of uphill climbing to viability -- and they do, especially here in Pennsylvania -- remember, also, that third parties have two big things going for them: the Democratic and Republican parties, perhaps the most hated political parties in American history.