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The Roundup for January 14, 2011

A quick programming note: I’ll be in lovely Portland, Oregon for a few days next week, so if posting is a bit lighter than usual, now you know one reason why.

• Interesting how the successful coup in Tunisia came on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s call for economic and political reform in the Muslim world. Robert Naiman makes the connection.

• The National Labor Relations Board told state Attorneys General today that they would sue any state that passes “secret ballot” amendments for union representation as inconsistent with and pre-empted by federal law. Read the release for the context; essentially, “card check” exists on a voluntary basis, and state ballot initiatives can’t take it away. Of course, those ballot measures are really there to drive Republican turnout, not make policy.

• Though the President met with human rights activists yesterday about China’s activities, I doubt he will really press the Chinese on the point in meetings next week. However, he may try to go around closed Chinese communication channels and speak directly to the people. More likely, you’ll see tangling with China on economic issues and not issues of human rights.

• The House set their health care repeal vote for Wednesday. But if you’re looking for actual movement on the future of health care, look not to repeal but to the regulatory implementation, including the determination of what counts as “essential health benefits” under the law.

• Net neutrality will head to court, in all likelihood, despite the year of work with industry and the compromised final product.

• If Glenn Kessler is this committed to beating back right-wing lies, and using a pretty big media megaphone as his base, I’m all for it.

• By the way, those Medicare Advisory Board recommendations, the ones that will bring down the cost of health care? Not every single one of them will be painless to enrollees. It’s just not possible. Case in point.

• Photos of Jared Loughner posing with his gun in a G-string found. This seems like a really good time for states to cut all their funding for state mental hospitals.

• So how exactly did a dead woman give thousands of dollars in donations to the Tea Party Express?

• These stories of people who have slipped out of the middle class or even the upper-middle class are far more common than you’d think from reading media reports.

• Laughs aside, this economist was right that “Flip this House” should have caused an existential crisis among the Federal Reserve Board. But it didn’t, because Greenspan wanted to go easy on the banks.

• Progressive California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is so far doing right by consumers in challenging health insurers who want to jack up rates. He doesn’t have a lot of tools to really stop this, however.

• Good news on a peace deal in the Abyei region of Sudan. There’s reason for hope in that part of the world for the first time in a while.

• The Washington Times doubles down on “blood libel,” actually saying that conservatives are subject to “an ongoing pogrom.” Sick, twisted people.

• Chris Christie blows a state bond auction after overhyping a threat of bankruptcy in New Jersey.

• New Hampshire wants to stop liberals from voting. They make it pretty clear.

• The CFTC voted to add position limits back for investors in commodities. This was how it worked for a long time before those limits got chipped away. Hopefully it will end commodity speculation that drives up prices.

Where we are on gun safety in America. This was in Massachusetts, fercryinoutloud.

• Both the Liberal Dems and the Tories are getting blowback for their austerity programs, and Labour has benefited.

• My obsession with Silvio Berlusconi continues. If he survives the allegation that he paid a 17 year-old for sex, then he’s simply a political Rasputin.

• Climate change ended the Roman empire? Not completely, but in part.

Story of my life in many ways.

• Finally, turns out I’ve been a Capricorn all this time. If you want to stop reading the site, I’d understand.

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David Dayen

David Dayen