Helicopter was sent to fetch Alabama governor's wallet: "I had to buy something to eat"

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Alabama governor Robert Bentley left his wallet in Tuscaloosa when he headed off for his beach house. So his aides sent a state police helicopter to fetch it, at a public cost of about $4000.

"I requested they deliver my wallet, I didn't know how they were going to do it," the governor told AL.com. "I did not request that a helicopter was used. You have to have your wallet for security reasons. I'm the governor. And I had to have money. I had to buy something to eat. You have to have identification."

Bentley's about to be impeached, but over an unrelated a sex scandal. Read the rest

Barack Obama: Taking money from 1 percenters compromised my politics

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In last night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton defended her enormous super PAC fundraising machine by saying, "President Obama had a Super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank, the toughest regulations on Wall Street in many a year."

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Bernie Sanders responds to CEOs of Verizon and GE: "I welcome their contempt"

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Bernie Sanders denounced the CEO of GE for the company's tax-dodging practices and the CEO of Verizon for doing the same and exploiting its workers, 40,000 of whom are out on strike. Read the rest

How corporate America's lobbying budget surpassed the combined Senate and Congress budget

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For more than a decade, corporate America's lobbying budget has exceeded the entire budget for the operation of both houses of Congress, and this year's lobbying spend ($2.6B) is the largest in history, with no end in sight. Read the rest

North Korea channels the voice of Abraham Lincoln in “Hey, Obama” letter to U.S.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looks over the border with South Korea,  March 7, 2013.

“Hey, Obama,” a weird letter from North Korea to the President of the United States opens, according to a translation offered by the Associated Press. “I know you have a lot on your mind these days … I’ve decided to give you a little advice.”

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Walmart heiress donated $378,400 to Hillary Clinton campaign and PACs

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Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart fortune, donated $353,400 to Hillary Clinton's "Victory Fund" and another $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary PAC. Read the rest

Switzerland of Bits: crowdfunding a haven for freedom of information & free expression

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Since the International Modern Media Institute was founded in 2011 it has been an independent watchdog and advocacy group working to promote and protect freedom of expression and freedom of information.

The Icelandic Parliament resolved unanimously to make Iceland a Safe Haven for freedom of expression and freedom of information. These intended legal protections promote whistleblowing, journalism and online rights. It is local in scope but global in impact.

Over the last week the world has witnessed the revelations of the Panama Papers making public the offshore dealings of politicians and business leaders. Offshore tax havens serve two functions; to avoid tax and to hide ownership. Already, in Iceland, the Prime Minister has been forced to resign as a consequence of these reports which unveiled his offshore dealings.

The Panama Papers were the result of a whistleblower coming forth with information and a huge team of investigative journalists working to verify data and coordinating its reporting. The safe haven initiative aims to encourage and promote governmental transparency, holding power to account, empowering citizens and thereby democracy.

IMMI conducts legal research, advocates for legislative reform and is an active participant in working groups established to implement a legislative framework in Iceland where journalism and online rights are protected and supported. This includes drafting and implementing an act on whistleblower protection, fighting to remove data retention from Icelandic law, drafting and promoting legislation on the limited liability of intermediaries and a host of other measures.

In order to protect democracy, real and meaningful democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of information must to be protected, ensuring access to information and freedom of the media. Read the rest

Congresscritters spend 4 hours/day on the phone, begging for money

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John Oliver is, as always, a flamethrower crisping the Shield of Boringness that protects a corrupt, terrible system: this time, it's Congressional fundraising, which sends our elected reps off-site for four hours a day to a cubicle-filled call-center where they strap on a headset and wheedle strangers for money, and, on every third day, sends them to DC restaurants to host rubber-chicken fundraiser dinners. Read the rest

A cashless society as a tool for censorship and social control

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The Atlantic had the excellent idea of commissioning Sarah Jeong, one of the most astute technology commentators on the Internet (previously), to write a series of articles about the social implications of technological change: first up is an excellent, thoughtful, thorough story on the ways that the "cashless society" is being designed to force all transactions through a small number of bottlenecks that states can use to control behavior and censor unpopular political views. Read the rest

Boston Globe previews a front page from the Trump presidency

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The Boston Globe's front page today is a piece of design fiction that offers a glimpse of the first days of a Trump presidency, with headlines like "DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN: President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue"; "Curfews extended in multiple cities"; "Markets sink as trade war looms"; "US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families"; and many sly digs, including the news that "NASA engineers halted the launch of an unmanned probe amid fears that its new gold leaf trim would interfere with radio communications." Read the rest

Spike Lee interviews Bernie Sanders: Vermont, Trump, Clinton, guns and Brooklyn

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The Hollywood Reporter arranged for a sit-down between Bernie Sanders and Spike Lee (who recently spoke for Sanders at a rally in the South Bronx) and the two talked (MP3) about the lay of the electoral land. Read the rest

Pope invites Bernie Sanders to Vatican to speak about "social, economic, and environmental" issues

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Though Sanders says he disagrees with the pope on rights for women and LGBT people, he lauds the pontiff for "injecting a moral consequence into the economy," and so he will speak at the Vatican next week. Read the rest

Clinton campaign chair: 'The American people can handle the truth' on UFOs, alien life, Area 51

John Podesta, during his service in the Obama administration. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta talked space aliens today with CNN's Jake Tapper.

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Fearing the Pirate Party, Iceland's government scrambles to avoid elections

People demonstrate against Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland April 5, 2016. REUTERS

With Iceland's Prime Minister stepping down over revelations of his financial secrets, thanks to the Panama Papers, many assumed that elections couldn't be far behind -- and if the recent polls could be relied upon, the Icelandic Pirate Party would form the next government.

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What Bernie would look like with a Trump-like tan and a hair transplant

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The internet was horrified yesterday by the photoshopped visage of Trump without the Tan. A symbol of Trump's impervious vanity, the Tan was revealed as somehow – necessary? Without it he just looks like his own waterlogged corpse. But it got me wondering what rival presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, renowned in equal and opposite fashion for his rumpled indifference to his own appearance, would look like with all the standard political trappings. The skin a bronze battleground in the eternal war between tanning addiction and smoothing peels. The 1990s hairplugs, silvered weekly. Spectacles discarded except for those scholarly photo-ops… Read the rest

What Trump would look like without his weird orange tan

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Without his trademark orange tan, Trump looks surprisingly horrific: click through for Buzzfeed's "Trump without the tan" slider widget. Read the rest

Iceland's Prime Minister asks to dissolve Parliament

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Depending on whose estimate you believe, as much as 10% of the population of Iceland demonstrated outside Parliament yesterday, and everyone agrees that they were the largest demonstrations in Icelandic history (and possibly the largest demonstrations, proportionally of any country in history). Read the rest

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