Paul Ryan convinces reporter he cares about poverty by spending time with black people

But reality doesn’t jive with Congressman’s words By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos Labor –  Rep. Paul Ryan’s crusade to brand himself as a Republican poverty crusader has run into a few snags. But lucky for him, Ryan has Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins to issue a lavish, 7,000-word tongue bath paying tribute to Ryan’s willingness to step outside Republican norms and make himself all uncomfortable and awkward by talking to poor people (black ones, even). When it comes to fighting poverty, Ryan — so unafraid to think big when it comes to ending Medicare as we know it — highlights small-bore solutions. His answer to astonishingly high poverty among black men in some communities, and to discrimination against people with criminal records? They should go to programs run by local pastors who can then refer them for jobs. The results of the program Ryan visits with Coppins “speak for themselves,” Coppins writes: Since 2005, [Pastor Darryl...

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US Senate Can’t Muster Even Modest Minimum Wage Increase

Jon Queally, staff writer – The effort to bring national low-wage to $10.10 is on verge of defeat According to Gallup, the historic approval rating of raising the minimum wage is close to 75%. Despite that consistent public support, however, even soft-ball efforts to increase the stagnant level of low-wage pay have faced constant opposition in Congress. The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, has been flat-lined for nearly forty years and that widespread income and wealth inequality has been shown to harm the overall economy, but neither of those facts have been enough to overcome the opposition of the powerful interests that maintain their grip on both political parties in Washington. An admittedly weak bill by progressive standards, the bill now in the Senate, introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), is expected to be defeated in a procedural vote on Wednesday according to numerous reports. According to The Hill:...

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‘Gun enthusiasts’ threaten woman for selling a safer gun

  By Hunter, Daily Kos – At some point you have to recognize that the “gun enthusiasts” have lost the plot. Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. A few fuming-mad voice mail messages and heavy breathers were all it took.Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. “Belinda?” the person wrote. “Is that you?” Her offense? Trying to market and sell a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it. There was no issue here about government mandates or the like, mind you. Her crime was the supposition...

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‘Tortured to Death’: Oklahoma Under Fire for Horrific Execution

Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams – Man writhes in pain after administered drugs don’t work and dies of massive heart attack only after procedure “halted” by officials Despite repeated warnings and protest, the state of Oklahoma went ahead with its controversial use of untested lethal injection drugs on Tuesday night that resulted in the “horrific” death of convicted killer Clayton Lockett who “writhed” in pain, “clenched his teeth” and later died from a massive heart attack brougt on by the state-administered drugs. After seeing the drugs were not working as intended, the prison officials “halted” the execution but it was too late for Lockett. “It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched,” said Lockett’s attorney, David Autry. Due to the incident, the subsequent execution of Charles Warner, scheduled to receive the same dose of lethal drugs just two hours after Lockett, was postponed. Warner’s lawyer,...

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Another woman from Wasilla … on Sarah and waterboarding

OP-ED By Rdeforrest, Daily Kos –  Not everyone from Wasilla agrees with Sarah Palin. I feel it is important for my reputation as a human being who grew up in Wasilla, AK to take a stand. My family and I moved to Alaska in the early 70’s. I went to public school in Wasilla from 1st through 12th grade, and I graduated from Wasilla High School in 1986. During that time, I was also a Blue Bird, a Camp Fire Girl, a Rainbow girl, a member of the First Presbyterian Church, and I took History classes from a lady named Jean Krauss. (Do you remember her, Warriors?) There is nothing in my upbringing in Wasilla that ever promoted or tolerated the idea that it is OK, good, or necessary to torture anyone. In fact I clearly remember learning about the Geneva Conventions in which it is stated “Grave breaches of the Third and...

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Liberal Outside Money Groups Spend Big in North Carolina

By Theodoric Meyer and Kim Barker, ProPuiblica –  Most people have come to associate outside money — the hundreds of millions of dollars from politically active nonprofits and super PACs pouring into American elections — with conservatives. And why not? Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, conservative groups have far outspent their liberal counterparts. In the 2012 federal election cycle alone, conservatives shelled out almost two and a half times the amount of outside money as liberal groups, including labor unions. But an early look at spending on television ads in North Carolina, home to a hotly contested Senate race and a number of competitive state races, shows that liberals are asserting themselves as never before. They are spending almost as much as conservatives in the Senate race and pouring funds into state contests that conservatives haven’t yet spent a cent on. A ProPublica analysis of North Carolina’s top three markets shows...

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FBI said to be investigating Kansas Gov. Brownback associates in Medicaid scheme

by Joan McCarter – Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) just had a big ol’ wrinkle thrown into his re-election campaign in the form of a reported FBI probe into three of his former employees, including his former chief of staff, in an influence-peddling case. The three have been working on Brownback’s Medicaid privatization scheme, which turned management of the state’s existing Medicaid program over to subsidiaries of three large health insurance companies. Kansas has refused Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The core of the investigation is whether these three confidants of Brownback used their connection to Brownback and his staff for financial gain. Parallel Strategies was founded by David Kensinger, Brownback’s former chief of staff and campaign manager and current director of the governor’s political organization Road Map Solutions; George Stafford, a longtime fundraiser, employee and adviser to Brownback; and Riley Scott, a senior staff member to Brownback while...

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Kids’ Happiness Doesn’t Depend on 2 Natural Parents, Says Study

Cites relationship quality, bullying at school as key factors (HealthDay News) — Children who live with a stepparent or a single parent are just as happy as kids in homes with two biological parents, a new British study finds. “It’s the quality of the relationships in the home that matters — not the family composition,’ said Jenny Chanfreau, of the NatCen Social Research team that conducted the study. “Getting on well with siblings, having fun with the family at weekends, and having a parent who reported rarely or never shouting when the child was naughty, were all linked with a higher likelihood of being happy all the time among 7-year-olds,” she said. Researchers analyzed data collected from nearly 13,000 British 7-year-olds who took part in a 2008 survey. There was no significant difference in happiness levels among children in three different parenting situations: living with a biological parent and stepparent;...

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5 Important Vitamin Combinations for Optimum Health

by Christina Sarich, Natural Society – We’ve all heard that we should take our vitamins, but did you know that combining certain nutrients helps the body to absorb them more readily, and can even boost their efficacy over taking the vitamin or mineral alone? Consuming vitamins together creates a synergistic effect in the body. Following are five important vitamin combinations to ward against disease and attain a great health boost: 1. Vitamin E and Sesame Seeds – Vitamin E is wonderful all on its own. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, guarding against cardiovascular disease. The only problem is that one of the important nutrients in Vitamin E, tocotrienols, are hard for the body to assimilate since only the fat and skin tissues can absorb them. Eating sesame seeds has been shown to improve absorption of Vitamin E tocotrienols by up to 500%. 2. Vitamin K and Vitamin D – These two vitamins all by...

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Study: Number of Innocent People Sentenced to Death Much Higher Than Thought

Sarah Lazare, staff writer, Common Dreams – Researcher: ‘Most of these undiscovered innocent capital defendants have been re-sentenced to life in prison, and then forgotten.’ At least one in 25 people sentenced to death in the United States is innocent. So finds a damning study published Monday in leading scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, hailing from Pennsylvania and Michigan, employ a statistical technique called “survival analysis” to arrive at their conclusions. According to what researchers call a “conservative estimate,” between 1973 and 2004, at least 4.1 percent of people in the United States handed death sentences were innocent. Yet, during this same time period, only 1.6 percent of them had been exonerated. The remaining innocent were either executed or had their sentences commuted to life in prison. Death sentences are sometimes reversed in situations where the “accuracy of the defendants’ convictions is in...

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Tea Party Grifters Get Noticed, Finally

by Reinvented Daddy – Five years after Dick Armey laid out the blueprint for a racially fueled astroturf uprising as a last ditch gambit to save the Bush-devastated Grand Ole Party from extinction, four years since Glenn Beck’s ‘Sermon On The Mall’ was witnessed by a mighty pilgrimage of the bigoted, the mean and the stupid, the Washington Post has now, finally, discover that the multitude of Tea Party Evangelists are nothing but grifters.  That’s some serious investigative reporting there.  Breaking news.  Now, who would have guessed? Uh, ANYONE WITH A BRAIN! Here’s the WP’s revelation: A Washington Post analysis found that some of the top national tea party groups engaged in this year’s midterm elections have put just a tiny fraction of their money directly into boosting the candidates they’ve endorsed. This is yet another example why Daily Kos is the Best Damned Newspaper in the nation, reporting next...

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Why State Unemployment Trust Fund Debt Matters

Great Recession caused spike in red ink By Jake Grovum, Stateline Staff Writer –  State unemployment insurance trust funds, the engines that finance jobless benefits for millions of Americans, were battered by the Great Recession and went deep into debt to meet the demand from the unemployed. Years after the worst of the crisis, many states are still saddled with huge debt, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Treasury data showing trust fund balances from 2007 through the first quarter of 2014. At its worst in early 2011, states’ collective debt owed to the federal government reached more than $47 billion. Through the first part of 2014, 16 states still owe more than $21 billion to Washington. Many other states borrowed billions from the harder-to-track private bond market to cover funds that were insufficient to pay benefits. Altogether, three dozen states turned to Washington for loans during the Great Recession, more than...

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Oklahoma Gov’s daughter Performs Fake War Dance and Calls Natives “Sheep”

by bahesmama for Native American Netroots – Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, a group of Native parents and their allies from across the country were alerted to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s daughter, Christina Fallin’s latest gaff when her band Pink Pony announced via Facebook “I heard Pink Piny was wearing full regalia tonight.” Protestors led by Choctaw musician Samantha Crain staged a protest at the Norman Music Festival in Oklahoma and Native American’s reaction via social media was outraged as Fallin wore a Native American-style fringed shawl with the word “Sheep” on the back and performed a fake war dance while her boyfriend Steven Battles ridiculed the protesters and flipped them off from the stage. Earlier that day, Crain noted on her Facebook page, “Publicity stunt or not, even if they are lying, their attitudes, their insincerity, their irresponsibility, their general lack of caring about anything other than the advancement...

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Democracy Corps poll shows Obamacare getting more popular in Republican districts

by Joan McCarter – The Republican flail over Obamacare is showing in some of their districts. The reality is that Republicans don’t have anything but repeal to bring to the table, and that the law is working. What that means, according to new polling from Democracy Corps, is that the law is gaining support, even in Republican districts. According to the findings, 43 percent of respondents in districts held by a Republican member of Congress now say they oppose the health care law because it “goes too far.” That number was 48 percent in December. Opponents still outnumber the 41 percent who say they favor the law. However, Democracy Corps also registers 9 percent of respondents in Republican districts who say they oppose the law because it does not go far enough, a group that ostensibly includes a chunk of voters who wanted a more liberal piece of legislation. (How...

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Report: Pesticide Pushers Spin Bee Crisis to Protect Profits

As hive collapse threatens global food supply, report says chemical industry employing Big Tobacco-style PR blitz to deflect blame By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams staff writer –  Worldwide bee deaths have now entered a crisis state threatening the global food supply and, according to a new report out Monday by Friends of the Earth, the human-made epidemic has been worsened by an industry-funded disinformation campaign. The report, Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits, details how the leading pesticide corporations—Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto—are taking a page from the playbook of Big Tobacco companies to stall any potential legislation from protecting bee colonies. According to report author and noted food industry critic Michele Simon, these corporations are engaging in a full-throttled public relations blitz, which includes funding industry-friendly research, targeting children, attacking regulators, blaming farmers and “pretending to care” by creating their own greenwashed “save the bees”...

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The Canadian health care system I disparaged

Commentary: single-payer regime up north represents a better way By Wendell Potter, Center for Public Integrity –  When I returned home after a two-week speaking tour of Canada and began catching up on news about Obamacare, I was angry and upset, and not just at politicians and special interests that benefit from deception-based PR tactics. I was — and still am — mostly angry and upset with myself. And I know I always will be. Over the course of a two-decade career as a health insurance executive, I spent hours and hours implementing my industry’s ongoing propaganda campaign to mislead people about the Canadian health care system. We spread horror stories about “rationed care” and long waiting times for medically necessary care. Our anecdotes were not at all representative of most Canadians’ experiences, but we spent millions of dollars to persuade Americans that they were. At every stop between Halifax and...

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Why Women May Be More Likely to Get Alzheimer’s

More women than men get Alzheimer’s disease, in part because women tend to live longer than men and the chances of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age. But new research suggests there may be genetic reasons as well. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine are reporting that women who carry the APOE-E4 gene, which increases the risk for Alzheimer’s, are more likely to develop the disease than men who have the same gene. More than one in seven people carries a copy of the APOE-E4 gene. Everyone carries some version of the APOE gene, which plays a role in how cholesterol and fats are shuttled throughout the body. But certain variants of the gene affect Alzheimer’s risk. People who carry the APOE-E2 variant, for example, are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, whereas those who carry the APOE-E4 variant are at increased risk. Numerous studies going back to the early...

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Fearing Abuse, States Challenge FDA on Painkiller Approval

By Michael Ollove, Stateline Staff Writer – Notwithstanding a court order, Massachusetts and other states plan to restrict use of a new painkiller drug, setting up a showdown with the federal government over who gets to decide the best way to protect public health. In the case of Zohydro, the argument pits the needs of millions of chronic pain sufferers against the urgent desire of states to combat an already catastrophic epidemic of prescription drug abuse.  Although there haven’t been specific cases of Zohydro abuse in Massachusetts, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick fears the powerful new drug will make the painkiller abuse crisis even worse. In the first round earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel came down on the side of Washington, ruling that Massachusetts could not ban a drug deemed to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration. In thwarting Patrick’s move—perhaps the...

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French Parliament Permanently Bans All GMO Maize Effective this Year

By Christina Sarich, NaturalSociety –  France has never been a big fan of Monsanto, Dow, or any biotech’s GMO creations; this is evidenced by the nation’s continued rejection and voiced concerns of GMOs. Well this week, the French Parliament passed a law prohibiting genetically modified maize from being grown anywhere in the country due to concerns about its effects on the environment. The law concerns any strain of GM corn that is adopted by the European Union. The Parliament passed the law following a decree from last month, which halted Monsanto’s ‘insect-resistant’ MON810 maize, which is to be allowed to be cultivated in the EU. Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya have also been bullied into growing MON 810, even though it was shown to be a failed crop. MON 810 was withdrawn from the South African market because it developed an incredible insect intolerance that caused many farms that grew it to be defunct. Italy has also moved...

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Abu Ghraib 10 Years Later: Challenging Corporate Impunity for Torture

Ten years ago, the world got its first glimpse of images that would forever tarnish the United States’ reputation for how it conducts its wars.  On April 28, 2004, a “60 Minutes” broadcast leaked photos of US soldiers humiliating, tormenting, beating and sexually assaulting detainees at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.  A decade later, survivors of these acts of torture are still waiting for justice. Private corporate contractors, hired by the US government to interrogate detainees, played a key role in directing and encouraging the acts of the low-level soldiers in those photos. Tasked with collecting intelligence, civilian interrogators exploited a vacuum of military leadership at the prison to direct soldiers to “soften up” detainees and “set the conditions” for interrogation – euphemisms for instructions to torture.  Yet, despite universal outrage and demands for justice when the photos were released, 10 years after the scandal came to...

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Tiananmen museum revives ghosts of a massacre

by Adam McCauley – Al Jazeera New Hong Kong museum documents 1989 killings of student protesters, stirring debates over China’s future. Hong Kong, China – Visitors arrived to the chants of protesters who wore white shirts and blue hats and carried signs reading: “Uncover the hidden truth” – urging passersby to learn the “real history”. But these protesters couldn’t stop the grand opening of Hong Kong’s controversial June 4 Memorial Museum on Saturday. Sponsored by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance), the museum documents the 1989 clash between Chinese government forces and student protesters that killed hundreds and wounded thousands more in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. It is the world’s first permanent museum dedicated to the deadly protests, and recent tensions between pro-democracy groups and communist government supporters in Hong Kong have thrust the facility into the middle of current debates. “A lot of...

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Tommy Chong To Get His Own Brand Of Marijuana In Colorado

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – In a move that seems to be a no-brainer, a marijuana store in Pueblo, Colorado has entered into an agreement with Tommy Chong to use his name and product endorsements at their store. The deal includes a marijuana strain that will be developed and named after Tommy Chong, as well as other products. The store that Tommy Chong is partnering up with is called ‘Marisol Therapeutics’, which I’m assuming is going to see a huge increase in business due to the partnership they have with Tommy Chong. It’s reported that the strain and products carrying the Tommy Chong brand will be high CBD related. This is great news for people that want the medical benefits of CBD. Although, I wish there was another strain bred for high THC. I guess only time will tell if that happens. This is not the first...

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Egyptian court sentences 683 people to death

Amid crackdown on opposition, judge also confirms death sentences for 37 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Minya, Egypt – An Egyptian judge has sentenced 683 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death, including the group’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and confirmed the death sentences of 37 of 529 alleged supporters previously condemned. Outside the courtroom on Monday, when news of the sentences broke, families of the accused began to scream and several women fainted, falling to the ground. Mohamed Elmessiry, an Amnesty International researcher monitoring the cases, said they “lacked basic fair trial guarantees”. The defendants from the first case whose death sentences were not upheld were each sentenced to 25 years in prison. Many of the lawyers for the accused boycotted the hearing, demanding that the judge be recused and calling him a “butcher”. Lawyer Mohamed Abdel Waheb, who represents 25 of the defendants, said the verdict was handed down...

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Federal judges plead guilty

Juris imprudence: Litigants reeling after judges admit conflicts of interest   By Reity O’Brien, Center for Public Integrity –  When Linda Wolicki-Gables and her husband appealed a lawsuit all the way to the second-highest court in the nation against Johnson & Johnson over a malfunctioning medication pump that had been implanted in her body, the couple had no idea that one of the judges who decided their case had a financial stake in the giant multinational company. Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Hill owned as much as $100,000 in Johnson & Johnson stock when he and two other judges ruled against the Gables’ appeal in the precedent-setting case. For the Gables, a different decision in the 2011 appeal could have helped them win a verdict for as much as $20 million, a sum that would have vastly improved the quality of her care, according to their attorney, T. Patton Youngblood...

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On This Day, Apr 29, 1945 – Dachau liberated

On April 29, 1945, the U.S. Seventh Army’s 45th Infantry Division liberates Dachau, the first concentration camp established by Germany’s Nazi regime. A major Dachau subcamp was liberated the same day by the 42nd Rainbow Division. Established five weeks after Adolf Hitler took power as German chancellor in 1933, Dachau was situated on the outskirts of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich. During its first year, the camp held about 5,000 political prisoners, consisting primarily of German communists, Social Democrats, and other political opponents of the Nazi regime. During the next few years, the number of prisoners grew dramatically, and other groups were interned at Dachau, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals, and repeat criminals. Beginning in 1938, Jews began to comprise a major portion of camp internees. Prisoners at Dachau were used as forced laborers, initially in the construction and expansion of the camp and...

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So…Bill Kristol Believes People are Being Hysterical over Sterling’s Racist Statements

By NedSparks – During Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Conservative pundit and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol, while participating in a panel discussion over statements made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that were captured by Sterling’s girlfriend, smugly suggested that individuals who were offended by Sterling’s remarks were simply overreacting, for as he saw it: Everyone goes hysterical over two or three sentences Kristol then went on to add: Private organizations can deal with, private businesses can fire people, I suppose. I suppose…. Emphasis by diarist. Sterling’s girlfriend who incurred the wrath of the NBA team owner after she posed in photographs on social media, withAfrican Americans including Los AngelesLakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr., captured Sterling’s remarks on an audio recording, remarks, including the samplingbelow, whichKristol seemed comfortable in making light of: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast...

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Government Roundoup – Wildlife, Taxes and Water

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in Hyde County, North Carolina. Established in 1934, the 50,180-acre Refuge consists of open water, marsh, forest and croplands. The centerpiece of the Refuge is the shallow Lake Mattamuskeet. At 40,100 acres, it is North Carolina’s largest natural lake. The Refuge’s strategic location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vitally important stopover for wintering waterfowl. Over the past 35 years, up to 80 percent of the Northern Pintail and up to 30 percent of Green-wing Teal that annually migrate along the Flyway utilize Mattamuskeet. In total, the Refuge attracts more than 200,000 ducks, geese and swans from November through February. With 131 Million Returns Filed, Millions of Amended Returns Expected WASHINGTON — As of April 18, almost 46 million returns were e-filed from home computers, more than the total from home computers for all of 2013. The IRS...

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Persecuted and Imprisoned for Environmental Activism

Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun and activist against nuclear arms, in Knoxville, Tenn., Aug. 8, 2012. Rice and two male accomplices await an October trial after breaching security at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee on July 28. (Photo: Shawn Poynter / The New York Times) Free speech protests often met with police actions, arrests By Samantha Sarra, Truthout | Op-Ed – As the world celebrated Earth Day on April 22, we also marked a half century of environmental resistance and recrimination. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published in 1962 and is widely regarded as the genesis of the environmental movement. It also marked the beginning of persecution for those trying to protect planet Earth. A naturalist and prolific author who warned against the effects of synthetic pesticides, Carson’s work was met with aggressive opposition, and she was labeled a communist with sinister intentions employed by the Soviet Union. The peasant women...

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Sarah Palin Said If She Were President, She Would ‘Baptize Terrorists’ Through Waterboarding

By MBD – The infamous former Alaska Governor, and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin got a crowd of thousands fired up and ready to water board some “terrorists”. Attendees of the National Rifle Association’s “Stand and Fight Rally” were treated to another of Palin’s bizarre religion-spiked political rants on Saturday. “If you control oil, you control an economy. If you control money, you control commerce. But if you control arms, you control the people. And that is what they are trying,” she said. Was Sarah’s solution to rid our dependence on fossil fuels, and invest in green energy? Nope. Instead, she saw waterboarding – or as she liked to call it: “baptizing” – as the way to best secure a brighter future for Americans. Palin spoke mostly about the Second Amendment and commented on gun control. This was an NRA benefit, after all. But she continuously strayed...

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Racism and Criminalization in the Media

By Bethania Palma Markus, Truthout | News Analysis –  A recent People magazine cover sparks consideration of the hiding-in-plain-sight but never-discussed racism that characterizes the United States and the ways US media subtly sustain that racism. The cover of the February 22, 2014, edition of People magazine features a telling representation of the status of race relations in this country. It features Southern chef Paula Deen promising a story about how she’s “rebuilding her world” and “hoping for a rebirth.” On the bottom left of the cover, there is the infamous mug shot of George Stinney, the Southern black child who was tried, convicted and executed in South Carolina in a murder trial that has since been called the equivalent of a lynching. At 14, he was the youngest person executed by the state in the 20th century. Of course, the magazine didn’t acknowledge the irony of placing the two in the same edition...

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Our Congress – When it Comes to Nothing, We Really Got Something

  “From the Desk of NickiLeaks” In DC, the cherry blossoms are blooming and Congress is returning from vacation. Only one will yield fruit, while the other is already filled with fruit, much of it rotten and spoiled. The cherry trees will produce a crop while Congress a produce a crock, two crooks and a thousand excuses. The blooming trees will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but thanks to the oil companies, the coal companies and their well-funded lobbyists, the blooming idiots will add to the amount of bad gasses in the air. Some  adding of gasses will be done by sneaking amendments onto bills, some will be done with the routine breathing Congress does and the making of unneeded speeches and some bad gasses will be created thanks to the defunding of agencies and inspectors tasked with making sure this doesn’t happen. Thanks, GOP, you Gaseous Old Pirates! Now,...

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If Republicans don’t like being called racists, they can stop behaving like racists

by Laurence Lewis – It would be funny if it weren’t so disturbing. Republicans, their propagandists and their enablers have been whining about Republicans being called on their racism. Which was particularly revealing in the context of attempting to defend having accused President Obama of racism. All of which was the opening act to Republicans falling all over themselves in gushing support of a locked and loaded, ostensibly anti-government deadbeat social welfare recipient, who just shockingly—shockingly!— turned out to be a frothing racist. Now, to be clear, as DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) recently graciously admitted, not all Republicans are racists. But Republicans do continue to pursue racist political policies. And Republican leaders do have a problem confronting the overt racism festering within their party. And Republicans do continue to make systematic efforts to prevent black people from voting. Whether it’s using the zombie lie of voter fraud as...

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Koch brothers, major corporations sponsor pension reform seminar for judges

Attendees could decide fate of contentious cases across the nation By Chris Young,Center for Public Integrity –  As state courts across the nation prepare to referee numerous public pension reform disputes, a gaggle of interested parties — from major corporations to the Koch brothers — will next week sponsor an expenses-paid conference on public pension reform for judges who may decide the cases’ fates. Conference funders, which include ExxonMobil, Google and Wal-Mart, could benefit from efforts to slash benefits for public employees. Alternative approaches to shore up state budgets would likely require higher corporate taxes, fewer corporate subsidies and reduced government services, all of which would be bad for business. The three-day gathering in a Charleston, S.C., hotel is hosted by George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center. The “Judicial Symposium on the Economics and Law of Public Pension Reform,” according to a George Mason event description, is intended to “comprehensively outline...

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As Tensions Boil, G7 Throws Fresh Sanctions at Russia

Sarah Lazare, staff writer – Common Dreams Group of Seven nations on Saturday vowed to impose ‘swift’ new sanctions on Russia due to the country’s alleged backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine—ratcheting up tensions and drawing more countries into the war of rhetoric. The announcement by the G7—which represents some of the world’s biggest economic superpowers—came the day after European military observers in Slavyansk were captured by alleged pro-Russian separatists. In a statement announcing the sanctions, the UK, U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada issued their “strong condemnation of Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea and Sevastopol, which we do not recognize.” They accuse Russia of failing to comply an agreement reached in Geneva last week for armed groups to lay down their weapons and occupied public spaces to be vacated. The statement praises the Ukrainian government for acting “with restraint in dealing with the armed bands illegally...

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Amazing Footage Shows Dolphin Asking Diver For Help Removing Hook & Line

 by MBD – This is an absolutely amazing video that you’ll have to see to believe it! Dolphins may be one of the planet’s smartest animals on the planet, but without opposable thumbs, they’re out of luck when it comes to getting barbed in a hook and line. In a remarkable video, however, a clever dolphin seems to recognize just that. When he saw a diver, he approach the human to get help with that hard to reach spots. The hook and fishing line restricted the dolphin’s pectoral fin. But diving instructor Keller Laros noticed the strange behavior of the dolphin who was circling them nearby. The dolphin not only calmly allowed divers to remove the line, but actually shifted its body to make it easier for them to remove. Like we said, you’ll have to see it to believe it!   Reprinted with permission from Political Blind Spot

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U.S. Solar Capacity up 418% Since 2010, Koch Bros Demand Tax on Sun

  U.S. Solar electric capacity has expanded explosively – 418% – from 2326 megawatts in 2010 to 12,057 MW in February 2014, an increase of 9,731 MW reports the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Solar has moved rapidly from a niche market to 1.13% of total U.S. capacity.  To stop the rapid growth of solar, which is threatening to break Americans from the death grip of fossil fuels, the Koch Brothers are demanding to tax the sun. U.S installed solar capacity shot up over 400% in the last 4 years. The rapid decline in the cost of solar panels and state and federal incentives have spurred investment in solar power at all scales from individuals to small businesses to large utilities. Net metering, which allows users to reverse their power meter when they produce more power than they consume, has incentivized rooftop solar. Moreover, states from Hawaii to South Carolina have developed programs to...

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Medical Marijuana Laws Not Associated With Increased Use By Adolescents

By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director The enactment of state laws legalizing the physician-recommended use of cannabis therapy is not associated with increased levels of marijuana use by young people, according to data published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University assessed the impact of medical cannabis laws by examining trends in reported drug use by high-schoolers in a cohort of states before and after legalization. Researchers compared these trends to geographically matched states that had not adopted medical marijuana laws. Authors reported overall “no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing,” and acknowledged that some states that had adopted medical cannabis laws experienced a decrease in adolescent’s self-reported use of the plant. “In the regression analysis, we did not find an overall increased probability of marijuana use related to the policy change,” they stated. Investigators...

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On This Day, Apr. 28, 1965 – My Name is Barbra is Barbra Streisand’s debut television special

Barbra Streisand’s breakout year as a singer came in 1963, when she released her first two albums, won her first two Grammys and began appearing live in some of the most prominent nightclubs in the country. By the following year, she was a showbiz phenomenon, earning further nominations from the Grammys and Tonys after wowing Broadway critics and audiences in her first leading role, as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Yet even then, in a Time magazine cover article in 1964, it was noted that “Many people still say Who when they hear her name.” That probably changed once and for all on April 28, 1965, when millions of American television viewers tuned in to a solid primetime hour of the 22-year-old Streisand in her first-ever TV special, the triumphant My Name Is Barbra. My Name is Barbra was the first special to be shot and aired under a...

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Update: VW has secured other offers out of TN; says Haslam reneged $300M deal

    New documents reveal that Volkswagen had accepted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s $300 million offer of taxpayer dollars to help the company expand production in Chattanooga.  That offer was revoked by Governor Haslam, after he learned UAW would be part of Volkswagen in Chattanooga.From News Channel 5 in Nashville: Emails leaked to NewsChannel 5 Investigates — emails that the state had refused to release — show Volkswagen lawyers had actually drawn up papers for a potential deal to bring more than a thousand new jobs to Tennessee, but it was the Haslam administration who pulled the plug on the incentives it had offered in August 2013.“A number of circumstances have changed or occurred since we delivered the August 23rd materials,” Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty emailed a top Volkswagen executive on Jan. 31. “The August 2013 incentive summary does not account for these changes and is no longer...

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FSU Students Discover New Senate Bill Meant To Keep Koch Infiltration… Hidden

cifid By Leslie Salzillo, The Daily Kos I recently wrote a Daily Kos diary titled Florida Students Protest Koch Influence Over College Professors discussing the Koch brothers corruption which has been bleeding into the FSU (Florida State University) faculty and education. The problem began in 2008 when Charles Koch made a hefty donation/bribe that included questionable stipulations. A student protest began in 2011 after those ‘special permissions’ were exposed. In the last several months the protest has reignited. Now with the introduction of a seemingly insidious brand new Senate bill, the heat is on and rising. Here is an excerpt from a recent editorial by several student activists, via Tallahassee.com “Our university’s academic integrity has already been compromised from the influence of high-dollar donors like Koch, who managed to assume inappropriate control over our economics department’s curriculum and hiring process per an agreement signed in 2008. Three years have passed since FSU professors exposed Koch’s financial...

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Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens Supports Marijuana Legalization

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – This week, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said that the federal government should legalize marijuana. That’s groundbreaking news. Below are a couple of press releases from two of my favorite reform organizations. From my friends at the Marijuana Majority: WASHINGTON, DC — Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that the federal government should follow the lead of states that have legalized marijuana. “Yes,” Stevens replied when asked by NPR’s Scott Simon as to whether marijuana should be legalized under federal law. “I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And...

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China Offers Rewards for Beard Informants in Muslim-Majority Area

By Massoud Hayoun, Al Jazeera – Authorities in western China’s restive, Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region are offering rewards to locals who inform on their neighbors for “wearing beards,” government-controlled media reported this week. Islamic liturgy recommends that Muslim men wear beards. In recent months, local officials have tightened religious restrictions on Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, in response to a series of armed attacks that were allegedly perpetrated by Uighur separatists. Many Uighurs accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression, and say economic development measures in their home region benefit mostly ethnic Han people, who are the majority in China. Informants in parts of Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture, an epicenter of the region’s ethnic tensions, can earn anywhere from $8 to $8,000 for reporting their neighbors’ illegal religious or “separatist activity” — which can now include facial hair, according to Chinese newspaper The Global Times. “That’s a lot of money for Uighurs in the south...

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The NSA Comes Home: Police Departments Conceal Phone Tracking Equipment From Courts

By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report – The intricate surveillance equipment used by the federal government to track and store the cellphone data of millions of people and to monitor terrorism suspects is making its way to Main Street. Police departments across the nation have been trying to conceal their use of cellphone tracking equipment from local courts because of nondisclosure agreements that allow the departments to use the devices on loan – as long as they promise the manufacturer they will keep it a secret. The devices, manufactured by the Florida-based Harris Corporation, are commonly used at the federal level, but are also proliferating across local and state police departments. The technology has been purchased under various names, including StingRay, HailStorm, Harpoon, AmberJack, KingFish and RayFish, and mimics a cellphone tower. When cellphones connect to the device, it can record the phone’s unique information and traffic data, as well as its location. The devices...

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The Cliven Bundy Story is NOT Over

I know the some Repluplican elected officials, certain talk radio hosts, various right leaning political pundits, some oh-so polite left leaning members of the media (Willie Geist) feel it’s time for Cliven Bundy to become a non-story.  I get it.  He is a proven racist and perhaps giving a racist a megaphone is a (to quote CNN) “bad thing”.  But in my mind this story is just getting started, in fact the real story has blossomed if only the main stream media and frankly the left will have the temerity to continue digging into what this story is really all about. This Cliven Bundy story is a story of a political party that is a haven for racists and the leadership of the Republican party has refused to take responsibility for the bad actors within its ranks.  This is not to say that all Republicans are racists but it...

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The Sunday Funnies & Factoids

Apr. 27/14 Welcome back, ladies and germs, for the latest installment of my Sunday Funnies and Factoids.  The place where we gather to learn a few pieces of useless information that will, more often than not, be of absolutely no use to you going forward in life.  Sorry, did that sound a tad jaded?  If so, too bad…. deal.  Sitting in front of my laptop glancing down at the weather site for my area and seeing that we have hit the forecast high temperature of the day….. 4 Celsius….. or 39 Fahrenheit.  Grey, cloudy, off and on showers, cold north winds, so if I come off as a little bit disgruntled…… DAMMMMM STRAIGHT I AM !!!!!! Oh well, on with the day’s tasty tidbits. 1) Each king in a deck  of playing cards represents a great king from history: * Spades – King David * Hearts – Charlemagne * Clubs...

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South Korea’s PM resigns over ferry disaster

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announces resignation amid criticism of government handling of the Sewol ferry disaster. South Korea’s prime minister has announced his resignation over the widespread criticism over the government’s response to the April 16 ferry disaster. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced his resignation early on Sunday at an emergency news conference in Seoul, the capital. “I offer my apology for having been unable to prevent this accident from happening and unable to properly respond to it afterwards,” he said. “I believed I, as the prime minister, certainly had to take responsibility and resign.” Chung’s resignation was approved by President Park Geun-hye although her spokesman later said that he would remain in his post until the rescue operation was completed, the Reuters news agency reported. The Sewol ferry sank on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional holiday island of Jeju. The government, along with almost all of its branches,...

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The Last Abortion Clinic In Mississippi Is About To Close…

by MBD – The last abortion clinic left in Mississippi could soon be closing its doors. In fact, it’s not just a possibility, Mississippi looks like it will be the first state in the nation without a single abortion provider, since the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments, starting next week centered around a 2012 law that would literally close the only remaining clinic in the state. Many who have been watching the case closely expect the court to rule in favor of closing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This legislation is part of a new wave of regulations that have led to many clinics being shut in a number of different states. But Mississippi is a rare case where only one clinic is left standing. If the regulations in question are permitted by the court, then...

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Why No One Should Read Fox News, Ever

by therehastobeaway – I came across the following online article: OBAMACARE CASUALTY: Cover Oregon officially calls it quits, turns to feds Cover Oregon on Friday became the first casualty of the state-run ObamaCare exchanges, as officials formally gave up the fight to offer residents a state health care portal. I was confused, and I was horrified: what was Oregon a casualty to? What had ObamaCare done to make it a casualty? Why had the State quit? Why had it stopped offering its own residents a health care portal? Had ObamaCare flubbed something again? But then I came across this Reuters article: Oregon’s broken healthcare exchange to shift to federal network Oregon, whose health insurance network has been dogged by technical glitches that have prevented even a single subscriber from enrolling online, will move its state health exchange to the federal system. Oh. The Oregon exchange is broken, and Oregon wants a...

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Corporations Divest Nearly $60 Million From Private Prison Complex

By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report – In what could be the first time a series of large corporations have publicly denounced investment in the private prison industry, three major corporations have announced they will be divesting a combined total of nearly $60 million of their shares from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, two of the largest private prison companies in the nation. The announcement comes after civil rights activists, led by the group ColorOfChange, pressured more than 150 companies, including dozens of corporate executives, for months, pushing a moral imperative for divestment. Asset management firm Scopia Capital was one of the largest institutional investors in the prison companies before executives recently decided to shed more than $1.5 million GEO Group shares. The company has since committed to full divestment of their total shares. READ MORE AT . . .  http://truth-out.org/news/item/23299-corporations-divest-nearly-60-million-from-private-prison-complex

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What Happens When a Dark Money Group Blows Off IRS Rules? Nothing.

Fund spent most of its money on election, despite IRS ban By Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica – To see how easy it is for a dark money group to ignore the Internal Revenue Service, look no further than the loftily named Government Integrity Fund. The Fund, an Ohio nonprofit, spent more than $1 million in 2012 on TV ads attacking Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and praising his Republican opponent, Josh Mandel. Now the Fund’s tax return, which ProPublica obtained from the IRS this week, indicates that the group spent most of its money on politics — even though IRS rules say nonprofits like the Fund aren’t allowed to do that. The Government Integrity Fund was founded in May 2011 and applied later that year for IRS recognition of its tax-exempt status, swearing under penalty of perjury that it would not engage in politics but would instead “promote the social welfare of the citizens of Ohio.” Within...

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U.S. announces sweeping reforms to protect coal miners from black lung disease

Standards cut from original proposal By Chris Hamby, Center for Public Integrity – MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After almost two decades of reports, hearings, failed proposals and political wrangling, federal regulators on Wednesday announced sweeping changes to protect coal miners from black lung disease. “This is a historical day for coal miners in this country,” said Joe Main, the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, as he looked out at a packed atrium — with at least four dozen miners and family members sitting front and center — at a government research facility here. “We’re issuing a new rule that’s going to change your lives.” During the announcement, which featured testimonials by individual miners, Main and Labor Secretary Tom Perez outlined the details of the long-awaited rule. It reduces the amount of disease-causing dust allowed in mines, requires new technology that would make possible continuous monitoring of dust levels and closes...

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Minneapolis to Mark Indigenous People Day as Alternative to Columbus

by Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera Minneapolis will recognize Indigenous Peoples Day at the same time as Columbus Day from this year forward, the city council voted unanimously on Friday, becoming the first city in the state to officially name a counter-celebration to the controversial holiday. “The City of Minneapolis recognizes the annexation of Dakota homelands for the building of our city, and knows Indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial,” the city council resolution read. “Therefore, be it resolved by the city council that the city of Minneapolis shall recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October.” For indigenous activists, the recognition has been a long time coming. “For me, it’s been almost 50 years that we’ve been talking about this pirate,” Clyde Bellecourt, a civil rights organizer,said in reference to Columbus. The resolution said that the federal government, state government and city government will still recognize Columbus Day but...

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FDA Cracks Down on Autism Claims

April is National Autism Awareness Month, a fitting time to think about the growing need for concern and awareness about autism. One thing that is important to know up front: There is no cure for autism. So, products or treatments claiming to “cure” autism do not work as claimed. The same is true of many products claiming to “treat” autism. Some may carry significant health risks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays an important role in warning these companies against making false or misleading claims. About Autism According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1 in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and are almost five times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describe autistic children...

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Emergency crews could start getting messages from their jackets

By Ben Coxworth, gizmag.com It’s important for firefighters or members of disaster response crews to stay in touch with one another during operations, which is of course why they carry two-way radios. Researchers from Norway’s SINTEF group, however, are developing a system that could help even more. It allows users to receive and read text messages hands-free, via their jackets. The prototype jacket, developed in a collaboration with students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, has electronics sewn into it, including a narrow LCD screen on the sleeve. The idea is that all members of a rescue crew will be wearing the jackets, which will be in wireless contact with one another, and with the team leader. When that leader sends a message out from their phone or computer, the jackets receive it, and alert the wearers by activating a buzzer in the collar. The users then look...

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Government Roundup – Shakira, Schools and Service

“Stamp Out Illiteracy” CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer visited Houston to announce a campaign to increase the city’s literacy rates. As part of the effort, 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation will mobilize community efforts to improve reading levels. Alongside Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Neil Bush, and community leaders, Wendy promised to “stamp out illiteracy put boots on the ground.” How Far We’ve Come Monday marked the fifth anniversary of Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, landmark legislation that has improved lives, strengthened communities, expanded economic opportunity, and helped engage millions of Americans in service. In a message marking the anniversary, President Obama said, “The Serve America Act reflects the enduring idea that those who love their country can change it, and we have only started to see its impact.” Liz Blake, a Senior Vice President at Habitat for Humanity International, reflected on how what the lawhas meant for her organization....

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Marines take the lead in deploying clean energy

Base in Twentynine Palms, CA, Showcases Solar and Efficiency Technologies PEW ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES – As we celebrated Earth Day, April 22, there are hundreds of success stories of how our environment has improved since 1970. Clean energy technology has been an important driver in reducing emissions and saving businesses money as they improve energy efficiency and deploy renewable power. The Department of Defense is a leader in deploying clean energy and has a goal to install 3 gigawatts of renewable power by 2025 — enough to power 750,000 homes. On March 25, the base’s Energy Manager Gary Morrissett and Public Affairs Officer Captain Justin E. Smith led a tour to showcase energy efficiency and renewable technologies at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, CA. The tour included a close-up look at the installation’s combined heat and power, or CHP, technologies and solar arrays. “Here at...

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Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections – There Is No “Center”

by davej – Mainstream Democratic campaign consultants and pollsters typically tell candidates they should “move to the right” and campaign to the “center” with positions that are “between” the “left” and the “right.” This is the way, they say, to “attract swing voters” who would be “scared off” by a candidate who takes populist positions that favor the interests of the 99 percent over the interests of the 1 percent. Polling and experience show that exactly the opposite might be true. This week Lynn Vavrek writes at the New York Times Upshot blog, in “The Myth of Swing Voters in Midterm Elections“: There just aren’t that many swing voters. … Ultimately voters tend to come home to their favored party. There are relatively few voters who cross back and forth between the parties during a campaign or even between elections. Looking at the Democrat loss in the 2010 election,...

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Earth Science Radar Imaging Mission Travels to Central and South America

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA’s C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center is “Volcan de Agua.” The two volcanoes behind it are, right to left, “Volcan de Fuego” and “Acatenango.” “Volcan de Pacaya” is in the foreground. The radar imaging mission got underway in early April when the C-20A departed its base in Palmdale, Calif., to collect data over targets in the Gulf Coast area of the southeastern United States. The aircraft, a modified Gulfstream III, is carrying NASA’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) instrument in a specialized pod. Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., UAVSAR measures ground deformation over large areas to a precision of 0.04 to 0.2 inches (0.1 to 0.5 centimeters). The mission schedule calls for the aircraft to make stops...

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Two ex-LA sheriffs charged with altering weed case evidence

Courtesy of  The Joint Blog – Two former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies have been charged with multiple felonies, including conspiracy and altering evidence, in connection with planting guns inside a medical cannabis dispensary in 2011 to justify two arrests. Julio Cesar Martinez and Anthony Manuel Paez were both booked Friday and released on $50,000 bail; they’re scheduled to be arraigned on June 17th. They’re being charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice as well as altering evidence as a peace officer. Martinez was also charged with two felony counts of perjury and one of filing a false report. According to prosecutors the former deputies wrote a report claiming they observed a drug sale which involved an individual in open possession of a gun. Martinez followed the suspect into a medical cannabis dispensary, where he claimed to have found a gun near a trash bin and another on a...

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On This Day, April 26, 1986 – The Cernobyl Nuclear Disaster

1986 – The world’s worst nuclear disaster to date occurred at Chernobyl, in Kiev. Thirty-one people died in the incident and thousands more were exposed to radioactive material. The April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the product of a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators.  It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture. The accident destroyed the Chernobyl 4 reactor, killing 30 operators and firemen within three months and several further deaths later. One person was killed immediately and a second died in hospital soon after as a result of injuries received. Another person was reported to have died at the time from a coronary thrombosisc. Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) was originally diagnosed in 237 people on-site and it was later confirmed in 134 cases. Of these, 28 people died...

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Why The Media Isn’t Talking About the Kansas Serial Sniper’s Religion… It’s Not What You Think

by MBD – I was rather surprised that I never heard about Mohammed Pedro Whitaker, 27, the man suspected of several highway shootings on the national news. Yes, you can find a mention here or there on various mainstream media outlet sites. But the shootings and the capture of the suspect likely behind them has received relatively little media attention, when compared with the “Beltway Sniper” attacks that followed on the heels of 9/11. Whitaker recently appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court for the first time this week, showing no apparent emotion. Instead of this being featured via a live feed on ever mainstream news channel, the arraignment was barely mentioned anywhere. The judge spent six minutes detailing the total of 18 felony charges filed against the suspected highway sniper. “The state of Missouri has charged you with numerous counts,” Judge Mary F. Weir announced, prioritizing Whitaker over the other...

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There. He Said It: “World War III”

Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams – Ukraine’s interim prime minister says that Ukraine crisis could result in intercontinental war between the West and Russia Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk did not mince words on Friday as he invoked the possibility that the crisis in Ukraine could quickly spiral out of control and spark a Third World War. “The world has not yet forgotten World War Two, but Russia already wants to start World War Three,” Yatseniuk told his cabinet in remarks broadcast live from Kiev. “Attempts at military conflict in Ukraine will lead to a military conflict in Europe.” Tensions in the former Soviet-bloc country returned to high levels on Thursday following assaults on outposts manned by pro-Russian Ukrainians in the east by special forces sent by the Kiev government. At least five people were reported killed in one clash. That incident and other movements by Ukraine...

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Government Roundup – “You Built This”

  NASA shows Congo Deforestation NASA GODDARD VISUALIZATION STUDIO, April 23, 2014 – A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows Africa’s Congo rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, has undergone a large-scale decline in greenness over the past decade. The study, led by Liming Zhou of University at Albany, State University of New York, shows between 2000 and 2012 the decline affected an increasing amount of forest area and intensified. The research, published Wednesday in Nature, is one of the most comprehensive observational studies to explore the effects of long-term drought on the Congo rainforest using several independent satellite sensors. “It’s important to understand these changes because most climate models predict tropical forests may be under stress due to increasing severe water shortages in a warmer and drier 21st century climate,” Zhou said. Scientists use the satellite-derived “greenness” of forest regions as one indicator of a forest’s...

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Meet the Doctor Who Gave $1 Million of His Own Money to Keep His Gun Research Going

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica – Since Congress pressured the CDC to stop funding research on gun violence, Dr. Garen Wintemute has donated more than $1.1 million of his own money to keep his research going. Federal funding for research on gun violence has been restricted for nearly two decades. President Obama urged Congress to allocate $10 million for new research after the Newtown school shooting. But House Republicans say they won’t approve it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget still lists zero dollars for research on gun violence prevention. One of the researchers who lost funding in the political battle over studying firearms was Dr. Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine who runs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. Wintemute is, by his own count, one of only a dozen researchers across the country who have continued to focus full-time on firearms...

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New Map of Milky Way Reveals Millions of Unseen Objects

  Nearly 400 years after Galileo determined the wispy Milky Way actually comprises myriad individual stars, scientists using NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer have done the same for the “X-ray Milky Way.”  The origin of this X-ray counterpart to the Milky Way, known to scientists as the galactic X-ray background, has been a long-standing mystery. Scientists have determined the background is not diffuse, as many have thought. Rather, it emanates from untold hundreds of millions of individual sources dominated by a type of dead star called a white dwarf, along with stars with unusually strong coronas. If confirmed, this new finding would have a profound impact on our understanding of the history of our galaxy, from star-formation and supernova rates to stellar evolution. The result solves major theoretical problems yet points to a surprising undercounting of stellar objects, perhaps by a hundredfold.Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in...

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The DOJ Wants to Hack Your Webcam

By Dan Massoglia, Truthout | Report – At a meeting April 7 and 8 in Louisiana, a group of lawyers and academics prepared the rules for when law enforcement is allowed to hack people’s computers for a dramatic, and troubling, expansion. Government hacks – the FBI’s secretly accessing your hard drive, email, webcam, and more – which have unfolded in headlines as a push and pull between privacy-concerned judges and activists and secrecy-obsessed law enforcement, appear poised to see the strict judicial restrictions on their use loosened. As is often the case with wide-reaching changes to the criminal law, the law at issue is not a big-name bill, like the Affordable Care Act, but rather one more closely held to the legal system -here, Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Federal Rules are the procedural guidelines for courts, lawyers, and investigators guiding important parts of investigations and trials. They...

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Republican senate candidate Bill Cassidy imagines Vladimir Putin is very worried about him

by Hunter – In Louisiana, Republican and stalwart protector of his bodily fluids Rep. Bill Cassidy is a serious threat this year to Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. This is partly because, well, Louisiana, but also because it is impossible to be too silly a person to be taken seriously as a Republican, and so silliness and statesmanship have become perfectly interchangeable. Which is lucky, because silliness is easier to come by. Which brings us to today’s dispatch from Crazytown, in which Rep. Bill Cassidy argues to town hall meeting attendees that when it makes it to the likely Dec. 6 runoff between him and Landrieu (because Louisiana just likes being different), the world will be watching. “If I’m elected there will be 51 Republicans and the people of Louisiana have cast the deciding vote. For 30 days the entire world will be looking at Louisiana and that sounds a...

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On This Day, April 25, 1908 – Edward R. Murrow is Born

1908 – Edward R. Murrow was born. “This . . . is London.” With those trademark words, crackling over the airwaves from a city in the midst of blitzkrieg, Edward R. Murrow began a journalistic career that has had no equal. From the opening days of World War II through his death in 1965, Murrow had an unparalleled influence on broadcast journalism. His voice was universally recognized, and a generation of radio and television newsmen emulated his style. Murrow’s pioneering television documentaries have more than once been credited with changing history, and to this day his name is synonymous with courage and perseverance in the search for truth. Murrow’s love of common America led him to seek out stories of ordinary people. He presented their stories in such a way that they often became powerful commentaries on political or social issues. See It Now consistently broke new ground in the...

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Conversation With James Risen: Can Journalists Protect Their National Security Sources?

By Dina Rasor, Truthout | Solutions – The New York Times reporter James Risen is in a waiting game with the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court, and the fate of a journalist’s right to protect sources lies in the balance. Will his case be the watershed for journalists to have the right to protect their sources, or will he have to go to jail in the face of the court’s ruling against him? What will be the final say for reporters and their sources: court rulings or a federal shield law that would purposely protect reporters from having to reveal their sources? I spoke to Mr. Risen about the choices he has to make and what solutions he believes could give reporters and their sources the protection needed to continue to be a watchdog over our government. In 2006, he published a book, State of War: The...

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This is Syria Today… Here’s What We Can Do About It

More Syrian civilians have died in the past year than all the civilians and military who have died fighting in Israel and Palestine since 1948. That’s some seriously depressing perspective. For some reason, however, the global community seems almost numb to the plight of Syrian civilians who have been caught in the middle of the latest battle between the Assad Dynasty and various competing resistance groups. The disturbing photograph above documents the line for food at Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp. Extremely small amounts of aid have managed to get through to Syrian civilians recently, but time and time again, delivery has been suspended citing ongoing security concerns. It seems that there is little we can do to help. But Amnesty International, believes that we can all work together with the international community “to address the issues that are fueling the conflict in Syria and exacerbating its impact on civilians.” They have enumerated the...

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Texas freezes agency’s funding after air pollution data released

By Lisa Song, The Center for Public Integrity – A few casual words and the early release of some scientific data have cost the San Antonio region much-needed state funds to battle its growing air pollution problem. The misstep, which appears to have been unintentional, highlights the sensitivity of studying oil and gas pollution in business-friendly Texas. The dispute began after the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) — a coalition that oversees 13 counties in the San Antonio region — launched a two-part study to determine how oil and gas drilling was affecting the city’s air quality. San Antonio’s air quality has been deteriorating since 2008, the same year drilling began in the nearby Eagle Ford Shale, site of one of the nation’s biggest energy booms. The air pollution is now so bad that metropolitan San Antonio could soon be declared in nonattainment with federal standards for ozone,...

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Candidate for governor in Maryland says being in the military isn’t a ‘real job’

Democratic Maryland gubernatorial candidate Douglas Gansler on Monday disparaged his primary opponent’s service in Iraq, criticizing him as “somebody who has never managed anybody, never run anything.” Gansler’s rival, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, spent five years on active duty in the Army in the 1980s and has been a reservist since. “You know, his (campaign) ads are about how he was a lawyer in Iraq, and that’s all fine and good, but this is a real job, and we need to have somebody who actually has leadership experience,” Gansler said at an event on Monday sponsored by the Tech Council of Maryland. “I don’t care what you’re running for or which party you hail from, spending five years in the Army counts as a real damn job,” Brown said. “Going to Iraq is also a real damn job, and not thinking of people in the military as having real damn...

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Brandishing Budget Power, State Lawmakers Pressure Public Universities

By Adrienne Lu, Stateline Staff Writer – State lawmakers around the country are brandishing their budget pens to penalize public colleges and universities for what they teach, what their professors say and which organizations the schools work with. In South Carolina, lawmakers are threatening to cut funding from two public colleges where incoming first-year students were asked to read books that discuss homosexuality. After legislators criticized an unrelated symposium on gay and lesbian studies at one of the two universities, the University of South Carolina Upstate earlier this month canceled a comic performance titled “How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less.” Some lawmakers have pledged to cut even more money from the second institution, the College of Charleston, after it hosted a musical based on the book students were asked to read Last fall, state lawmakers in Kansas vowed to withhold appropriations from the University of Kansas after journalism professor David Guth tweeted after the...

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Federal judge rules Minnesota cannot bar purchases of coal-fired electricity from North Dakota

By Meteor Blades, Daily Kos Staff –  In a 48-page ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson agreed with North Dakota plaintiffs and shot down a part of a 2007 Minnesota law designed to boost renewable energy. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has vowed to appeal and fight North Dakota’s efforts to sell more coal-fired electricity to Minnesota. The law at issue is Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, a key element of which was to reduce the state’s use of fossil fuels by 15 percent of 2005 base levels by 2015, 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. Utilities were not to be allowed to buy more coal-fired electricity unless emissions were completely offset. North Dakota sued in 2011, saying the law violated the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. Nelson wrote: If any or every state were to adopt similar legislation (e.g., prohibiting the use of electricity generated by different...

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Dozens of intelligence contractors have submitted false claims for federal funds

By Douglas Birch, The Center for Public Integrity – Pentagon report reveals that those implicated typically kept their security clearances Dozens of contractors for the four largest Defense Department intelligence agencies have been investigated for submitting false payment claims worth millions of dollars over the past decade, according to a new Pentagon report. The report by Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence Anthony Thomas said that when his auditors examined 128 unclassified cases of contractor misconduct, he found 89 — or more than two-thirds — involved fraudulent billing for work the contractors had evidently not done. In the 86 cases relating to one or more individual contractors, the largest reported loss was $265,698 and the smallest $433 — with an average of $41,790, the report said. The report said the total lost to fraud in all the cases chosen for the report, including 12 contracting companies, was $4.34 million. The report...

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