Happy 150th Birthday, Yosemite

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One in 10 U.S. Beaches Fails Bacteria Test, Survey Finds

Storm-water runoff, including sewage, continues to threaten swimmers’ health HealthDay News – Swimmers, take heed: Ten percent of water samples taken from U.S. coastal and lake beaches fail to meet safety standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a new report finds. “There can be hidden dangers lurking in many of our waterways in the form of bacteria and viruses that can cause a great inventory of illnesses like dysentery, hepatitis, stomach flu, infections and rashes,” Steve Fleischli, water program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said at a Wednesday morning press conference. Of nearly 3,500 samples taken annually at beaches around the country, Great Lakes beaches have the highest failure rate, with excessively high bacteria levels, the defense council said. This finding confirms that water pollution caused by storm-water runoff and sewage overflows persists at many U.S. beaches, the agency said. Storm-water runoff often includes trash,...

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Republicans Vote To Block D.C.’s Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) prohibiting the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana. The amendment is directed at a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine. “It is outrageous that members of Congress are trying to overturn a locally-enacted law that has the overwhelming support of D.C. voters and the D.C. Council,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance.  “That Rep. Harris is picking on a majority black district and no other jurisdiction with marijuana decriminalization is very telling. His own state has decriminalized marijuana but he’s not interfering with it.” In 2013, a study...

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The Texas GOP Stands on a Platform of Ignorance

Everything really is bigger down in Texas, including our embarrassments Texas has a lot of things to be proud of. The Republican Party of Texas, however, is not one of them. Turns out everything really is bigger down in Texas, including our embarrassments. Taking cues from the national party, the Texas GOP invokes religion and false ideas of the Founding Fathers to promote their blatantly anti-science stances. Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently compared the homosexual “lifestyle” to being an alcoholic. In its recently finished 2014 party platform, Texas Republicans offer the following stances on homosexuality and reparative therapy: Homosexuality: Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include...

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Red Cross: How We Spent Sandy Money Is a ‘Trade Secret’

Charity fighting public records request on how it raised and spent money after the superstorm By Justin Elliott, ProPublica – Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy? The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request ProPublica has filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a “trade secret.” The Red Cross’ “trade secret” argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though it’s not clear yet how much since the documents haven’t yet been released. As we’ve reported, the Red Cross releases few details about how it spends money after big disasters. That makes it difficult to figure out whether donor dollars are well spent. The Red Cross did give some information about Sandy spending to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had been investigating the charity. But the...

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Supreme Court rules women can be discriminated against in health decisions

by Joan McCarter – The U.S. Supreme Court has given corporations even more personhood by deciding that they can have religious beliefs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. They ruled that closely held companies are exempt from the contraceptive coverage mandate for their employees’ health insurance, and are exempt from that provision of the Affordable Care Act. The decision, 5-4 and the majority opinion written by Alito, is being described as “narrow.” It is narrow, in that basically only applies to women. The Court says: This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Men could need blood transfusions or vaccinations, so of course they can’t allow the exemption from Obamacare to extend to them. The Court then says that this ruling is preventing...

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Say Hello To The World’s First Church-Mosque-Synagogue

By MBD, Political Blind Spot – For centuries, Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities have been at odds. Ironically, in the first century CE, the debate amongst pre and proto-Christians was whether one could follow Jesus and not be a Jew, while in the second century CE, the debate was the reverse: whether one could follow Jesus and be Jewish.  For centuries quasi-Jewish, quasi-Christian communities flourished, particularly throughout the Middle East. With the advent of Islam, many of those communities assimilated into Islam. In the centuries that followed, Jewish and Muslim communities were at odds, while sects and sub-culture movements vied against the Caliphate. By the time the Crusades came around, Jews and Muslims found themselves at the scant mercy of the Church, who sought to Christianize the Holy Land in the Levant from these Abrahamic communities which the Church saw as “infidels”. In the Medieval period, some of the most prominent Jewish leaders and dynasties were...

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Medicare Advantage plans require more scrutiny

Watchdog says private health plans difficult to investigate By Fred Schulte – Federal officials need to step up efforts to investigate fraud and abuse in Medicare Advantage health plans treating millions of elderly Americans, a top government investigator says. Gary Cantrell, a deputy Inspector General with the Department of Health and Human Services said reviews are “hampered by a lack of accurate, timely and complete data that would facilitate oversight” of the fast-growing health insurance plans. His comments came in testimony prepared for a Wednesday hearing of the oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing was called to assess fraud and abuse safeguards in Medicare, which last year covered about 51 million people at a cost to taxpayers of about $604 billion. Officials estimate that almost $50 billion of that amount was paid improperly, including $11.8 billion to Medicare Advantage plans. A Center for Public...

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Do Cops Look For Colorado Plates To Bust Marijuana Users?

Colorado has legalized weed and everybody knows it. Not like they’re keeping it a secret, right? While everything seems to be going very well there, things change once one crosses the borders in to other states… More specifically the illegal states, where marijuana use still isn’t tolerated. Simply because of the license plate on your car, cops find any excuse to pull Colorado residents over. And for one man who took a trip to Idaho earlier this year, this exact situation arose and became a huge issue of what the man’s attorney calls “license plate profiling”. First of all, all cops should be aware that just because the car is from Colorado doesn’t mean the driver smokes weed… Not everyone in the state is blazing now that the law says it’s okay. The police in Idaho weren’t thinking that when they pulled over Darien Roseen and not only unlawfully...

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GMOs Shown to be Safe? Science Media Center Exposed for Incredible GMO Deceit

by Christina Sarich – Real scientific research isn’t supposed to be political. It is, at its best, unbiased and curious, ready to observe an outcome from an experiment no matter what the facts say. Science Media Center has given the world a ‘false’ sense of truth about GMOs based on politicized science, not real science, and PR Watch explains why. The Science Media Center (SMC) influences governments. It acts as if its coverage of GMOs is unbiased, and their report on genetically modified ingredients was released with great fanfare. Their actions have outcomes that affect us all. Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom suggests that GMOs have been proven safe (with evidence from SMC) and his commissioned a new report to convince the UK that they need to rely on GM crops instead of imports. SMC’s ‘data’ was published prominently with media outlets like The Guardian and The Independent and it was featured by...

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Israeli Launches Air Strikes in Gaza After Rockets Fired

Meanwhile, Israel’s Netanyahu says there will be military presence in the West Bank even if a peace deal is reached The Israeli military carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip Sunday, saying the air strikes were in retaliation for six rockets from Gaza that struck Israel the previous evening. Two of the rockets from the Hamas-ruled territory hit a factory in the southern town of Sderot, setting it ablaze. Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, suggested reoccupying Gaza to stop the rocket fire, saying that limited military operations against armed groups in Gaza have only strengthened Hamas. “Either with each round we attack terror infrastructure and they shoot, or we go to full occupation,” Lieberman said on Army Radio. The military said it targeted 12 “terror activity” sites in Gaza where rockets had been launched or manufactured. It is unclear if there were causalities from the attacks. On Friday, an Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinians in Gaza...

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The CIA’s ‘Bin Laden Demon’ Action Figure Toy

By MBD, Political Blind Spot – The CIA would openly admit to deploying drones, satellites, spies, informants and tracking devices in their efforts to thwart Bin Laden. But one thing we might not have expected them to deploy is action figures. Nevertheless, starting back in around 2005, the CIA began secretly developing a ­custom-made Osama bin Laden ­action figure. Those familiar with the toy project say that the face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, which was designed to peel off to reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon or “jinni”… at least how the CIA imagined them. The jinni Bin Laden had piercing green eyes and black facial markings, akin to Darth Maul from Star Wars, Episode 1. The bin Laden figure project was code-named “Devil Eyes.” Those associated with the project spoke on the condition of anonymity and said that they...

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Republican Candidate Convinced his Opponent is Dead and Using a Body Double as a Stand-in

By FaithGardner, Daily Kos – File this one under “strangest reason to challenge the results of a primary vote ever”: KFOR in Oklahoma reports that Timothy Ray Murray believes Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), his opponent in the congressional Republican primary, was executed three years ago and is being represented by a look-alike. Because he believes Lucas is really dead, Murray said he will challenge the results of Tuesday’s Republican primary, in which Murray received 5.2 percent of the vote. Lucas won the primary with 82.8 percent of the vote. Timothy Ray Murray is not only convinced his opponent is a body double (or, as he stated elsewhere, a “robot look-alike”), he also feels the need to clarify to the public that he, Murray, is NOT a body double: In the statement, Murray, who did not respond to an interview request, also reassured voters that he is not a body-double.“I, Timothy Ray...

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Wall Street Nervous as Sen. Sherrod Brown Vies for Banking Committee Chair

By mlangenmayr, Daily Kos – Well, this would be amazing: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is vying for the gavel of the powerful Senate banking committee in the next Congress – a possibility that has excited consumer groups but put big Wall Street banks on edge. So, how did the relatively junior Brown — he has “only” been in the Senate for eight years and currently ranks fifth in seniority on the committee — come to be a top prospect for a powerful committee chair? Well, retirements have Senate Democrats playing a little game of musical chairs: Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), the current committee chair, is retiring. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is currently next in line on the committee. But… Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is also retiring. Reed is also next in line to lead this committee. He can only lead one major committee and...

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What’s at Stake in Monday’s Hobby Lobby Ruling from the Supreme Court

by Damon Root – On Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its final decisions of the 2013-2014 term. Only two cases still remain undecided, and one of them is perhaps the most closely watched case of the year: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. At issue is the so-called Obamacare contraceptive mandate, the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires most businesses to cover birth control in their employee health plans. What are the legal issues at stake? Here’s a rundown from my recent column on the case: According to Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., an arts-and-crafts retailer owned and operated by a family of evangelical Christians, the contraceptive mandate forces both the business and its owners to violate their religious scruples by providing access to four methods of birth control they see as equivalent to abortion, such as the emergency contraceptive Plan...

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The Republicans get Medieval and Bring Back the Dork Ages

“From the Desk of NickiLeaks” At the end of a news day when Congress had done nothing that made sense or benefitted anyone but the ultra-rich, the last few people in the NickiLeaks newsroom had cracked open the bottles, rolled one or two spliffs and jumped on the Internet as a thought had spread and they were determined to check it out. The idea had sprung from a story on climate-change deniers saying there was no science that confirmed global warming. They said that in an air-conditioned room, it was noted. And, after a couple “Damn Bible-thumper!” comments, the religion editor, a devout Satanist, pointed out that what the Republicans were doing and saying was a lot like what was said – and got us into – the Dark Ages. Instantly, drinks were slammed and computers lit up. The first find was a quote by Ralph Hall of (of...

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Fog at Yellowstone

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The Colors of Kyoto

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In Bid for Millennials, Cities and States Promote Cycling

Competing for the most mobile generation ever By Tim Henderson, Stateline – If a 90-minute commute from Brooklyn to New Jersey sounds grueling in a car, just imagine it on a bicycle. Until a recent job change, 40-year-old Peter Schneider made that daily trip, biking 22 miles from his home in Brooklyn to his marketing job in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey — and he loved it. “Commuting and exercising at the same time kills two birds with one stone,” he said.  Cycling to work wouldn’t have been possible, Schneider said, without the protected bike lanes of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a 32-mile route that circumnavigates the island of Manhattan. Communities across the country are weighing similar routes, believing that a cycling-friendly reputation will help them attract millennials and the creative and economic energy that comes with them. “States and cities are competing for the most mobile generation ever and so the job creators...

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Is Paid Family Leave Really Bad for Business?

Report demonstrates NJ program helped meet workers’ needs while imposing no undue burden  Washington, D.C.– Paid family leave was a major item on the agenda at this week’s White House Summit on Working Families. One of the items figuring prominently was paid family leave. This is not surprising. Despite the fact most people find themselves faced with the need to take time off to care for a parent, spouse or child, or to bond with a new baby, the United States remains the only rich country that does not mandate some form of paid leave at the nation level. Perhaps the biggest argument against paid leaves is that they impose heavy burdens and are bad for business. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that this is not the case. “It’s a valid question – whether paid family leave is bad for business  – and...

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One Year After DOMA: A Conversation with Edie Windsor

Edie Windsor, with the ACLU’s help, fought to have her marriage to her partner of 44 years respected by the federal government. And she won! It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the Supreme Court struck down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Edie’s victory was a victory for us all – a victory for love and equality in a more perfect union. It inspired change all over the country from lawmakers, courts, and even public opinion. Thanks in part to Edie’s win, the movement for LGBT equality, once a distant dream, seems like a foregone conclusion. On the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that took down DOMA, we sat down with Edie in her New York City apartment to talk about marriage, equality, the changes she’s seen in the LGBT community since the decision and her thoughts on another ACLU...

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Vatican defrocks top archbishop for child sex

Papal diplomat Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski is highest-ranking Vatican official to be found guilty of child-sex abuse The Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been convicted by a Roman Catholic Church tribunal of sex abuse and has been defrocked in the first such sentence handed down against a top papal representative. The Vatican said on Friday that Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski was found guilty by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in recent days, and sentenced to the harshest penalty possible against a cleric: laicisation, meaning he can no longer perform priestly duties or present himself as a priest. Wesolowski has two months to appeal. He also faces other charges by the criminal tribunal of Vatican City, since as a papal diplomat he is a citizen of the tiny city state. The Holy See recalled the Polish-born Wesolowski on August 21, 2013, and relieved him of his...

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How the Government Subsidizes Wealth Inequality

By Harry Stein, Center for American Progress – Renowned French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century thoroughly documents how those at the very top of the income distribution are pulling away from the rest of us. In the United States, wealth inequality has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the 1920s, with the top 0.01 percent of Americans owning more than 10 percent of all national wealth. As sobering as that is, Piketty argues that economic inequality will grow even worse over time, based on his contention that the rate of return on capital will exceed the overall growth rate for the economy. If capital, or wealth, grows faster than the economy, then the owners of that capital and their heirs will amass an even larger share of total national wealth over time. To reverse this trend, Piketty advocates a global wealth tax. This issue brief puts aside the question...

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Controlling Ragweed Pollen in Detroit: A No-Mow Solution for Motown?

Vacant lots most common in low-income neighborhoods that have large minority populations ANN ARBOR — When it comes to controlling hay fever-triggering ragweed plants on Detroit vacant lots, occasional mowing is worse than no mowing at all, and promoting reforestation might be the best solution. Those are the findings of a new University of Michigan study that surveyed vacant lots in several Detroit neighborhoods for ragweed, counting the number of ragweed plants and estimating how often each lot was mowed. The researchers found that ragweed was significantly more likely to be present in vacant lots mowed once a year or once every two years — a common practice in Detroit, which has one of the highest proportions of vacant lots in the United States — than in lots mowed monthly or not at all. “When we surveyed vacant lots, we found that some mowing is worse than no mowing,”...

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Four People to Blame for the Crisis in Iraq

Failure’s no orphan by Ed Krayewski – Reason,org – For Iraq, June has been the cruelest month. The jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made incredible gains in Iraq. On June 5, ISIS fighters briefly seized Samarra before being pushed back by Iraqi government forces. On June 10, ISIS seized Iraq’s “second city,” Mosul, on the crossroads between Iraq and Syria, another area of operations for ISIS. On June 15, ISIS claimed to have captured and killed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in Tal Afar. A few days later they attacked a major oil refinery north of Baghdad, one that was responsible for about 25 percent of the country’s domestic oil consumption. As Iraq verges on the brink of civil war, there’s a cornucopia of Iraqi and foreign figures who could be blamed for the unfolding disaster. Here are four: 1. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—not his...

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”The Revolution Has Begun”: How the Gun Industry Drives the Violent Rhetoric of the NRA

By Christian Exoo and Calvin F. Exoo, Truthout | News Analysis – Sunday morning, June 8, Jerad and Amanda Miller left their cats with a neighbor, Kelly Fielder, before heading out. “”The revolution has begun,’ that’s what he kept saying,” Fielder told The New York Times. “All Jerad wanted to do is talk about overthrowing the government.” Within hours, the Millers had killed two police officers having lunch and a “good guy with a gun” who tried to stop them. Then Jerad died in a rain of police gunfire, while Amanda took her own life with a gunshot to the head. In a search of their home, police found, among other things, detailed plans to take over a courthouse and execute public officials. Kelly Fielder wasn’t the only person Jerad told about the motives behind the couple’s killing spree. In fact, his Facebook page contained a series of manifestos explaining...

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Kochs put a Happy Face on Free Enterprise

Consider the Source: Free-Market System Leads to Well-being By Chris Young, Center for Public Integrity– Editor’s note: This story is one in a continuing series on Washington, D.C.’s information industry. The series seeks to illuminate the sometimes-misleading methods used by special interest groups to gain support for their agendas from government and average Americans. When Arthur C. Brooks stepped on stage in December, the influential conservative’s mission was simple, yet ambitious: “If I do my job,” Brooks began his speech, “in the next few minutes I’m going to give you the secret to happiness.” Standing before large block letters that spelled “H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S,” the charismatic president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, explained how genetics, major life events and choices all contribute to one’s well-being. Brooks mentioned the importance of forging close relationships with family, promoted charitable giving and emphasized that “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Nearing the end of...

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Chart of the Week: A century of U.S. political history – A WAY COOL MAP

By Drew DeSilver – Anyone (well, almost anyone) could make a map, or even a series of maps, about party control of Congress over time. But turning that data into an interactive that’s in its own way as addictive as Minecraft or Fruit Ninja is something else again, which is where MapStory comes in. MapStory is a nonprofit that’s created an online, open-source mapping platform to enable people to create and share data visualizations. Mapmakers have created timeline maps to illustrate everything from charter-school expansion in Minnesota to the proliferation of wind farms across the United States. But this interactive, uploaded to MapStory earlier this month by Jonathan Davis of Arizona State University, stands out both for the sheer amount of information it conveys and how darned fun it is to play with. Starting in 1918, you can simply play the animation forward to 2012 and watch the shifting patterns of...

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The Sunday Funnies & Factoids

June 29/14, by Keith Lennox for All-len-All – Hellloooo, folks.  Happy Sunday to all who humble me with their presence at this weeks Sunday Funnies & Factoids.  Beautiful day and weekend on the north side of the 49th parallel for the upcoming Canada Day holiday.  Hope this editions finds you all happy and healthy.  So without further ado…. let the SF&Fs show begin…. 1) Queen Elizabeth does carry a small amount of money in that large handbag — enough to put into the weekly collection plate at church. 2) Styx’s seventh album, “The Grand Illusion,” was released on 7/7/77.  Interesting….. too bad their music is so…… ummmmmm…… so……. yawn inducing. 3) Koalas do not drink. They get all the moisture they need from the leaves that they ingest. 4) The split-fingered Vulcan salute from Star Trek is derived from an Orthodox Jewish ritual called the Blessing Hands, which is...

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Russell Brand Calls Fox News A ‘Fanatical Terrorist Propagandist Organization’ (VIDEO)

by Joe Fletcher –   Russell Brand gives a hilarious breakdown of a Fox News performance, by Jeanine Pirro. In the video Brand eventually calls Fox a, “fanatical terrorist propagandist organization.” Pirro goes on a long-winded rant about how the current crisis in Iraq regarding ISIS and the foreign policy of President Obama, claiming he is the reason for the insurgency. After Pirro says, “bomb them, keep bombing them, bomb them again,”Brand compares the Fox News clip to propaganda videos released by violent extremist groups. Brand makes this argument: “when they do these bombings it creates more insurgents… don’t think of it as a bomb that goes into the ground, think of it as a seed that grows insurgents… creating more terrorism.” Pirro refers to the ISIS insurgency as a, “reverse crusade,” and claims “they are coming for us, to them we are the infidels.” Brand then laughs and says, ‘no...

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On This Day, June 29, 1972 – Supreme Court strikes down death penalty

In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty. In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model...

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Electromagnetic System to Replace Steam Launch on Navy Carriers

By David Szondy, Gizmag – A fighter plane taking off from a strike carrier is a dramatic sight – not the least because of the woosh and plume of steam as the catapult blasts the aircraft into the air. In a few years, such launches may still be dramatic, but they’ll also be a bit quieter and very plume-free. That’s because the US Navy has completed testing of its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS); clearing it for use on the new Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carriers. When the Navy launched an F/A-18C Hornet for the first time as part of the second and final test phase of the EMALS at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey land-based test site, it opened the way for the system’s deployment on US aircraft carriers starting with the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) that is currently under construction at the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in...

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Emperor Penguins are More Willing to Relocate Than Previously Thought

Discovery of movement challenges long-standing theory that colonies return to the same area each year to nest A new study led by the University of Minnesota offers new insights on the long-term future of emperor penguins by showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than we expected. Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, which means they would return to the same location to nest each year. The new research study used satellite images to show that penguins may not be faithful to previous nesting locations. Researchers involved in the new study found six instances in just three years in which emperor penguins did not return to the same location to breed. They also report on one newly discovered colony on the Antarctic Peninsula that may represent the relocation of penguins. University of Minnesota College of...

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Hurry Up and Wait: Bashing the VA

By Douglas Jamiel, Truthout | News Analysis – Have national misgivings toward the conflicts after World War II found their way into budgeting for the VA, the agency tasked with caring for those less-fêted soldiers who prosecuted these ill-conceived engagements, or is ideology preventing proper funding of the most efficient US health care system? Between 2008 and 2011, approximately 210,000 people died from “patient harms associated with hospital care.” A 2009 study found that 45,000 people die annually from lack of health insurance. Between Newtown – where 13 children were gunned down by a mentally ill individual – and December 31, 2013, 12,042 people lost their lives to gun violence. Oh, and 40 veterans died while on a waiting list at the VA. Ironically, while all four instances are tragic in their own right, it is the last that has provoked enough pitchfork level rage to shake the halls...

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After decades of GOP support, Cubans shifting toward the Democratic Party

By Jens Manuel Krogstad – Cubans in the U.S. have long identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party, even as Hispanics overall have tilted Democrat. But the party affiliation of Cubans has undergone a shift over the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of survey data. Less than half (47%) of Cuban registered voters nationwide now say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party—down from the 64% who said the same about the GOP a decade ago, according to 2013 survey data. Meanwhile, the share of Cubans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has doubled from 22% to 44% over the same time period, according to the survey of Hispanics. The Cuban population in the U.S. is centered in Florida, home to seven-in-ten of the nation’s 2 million Cuban-origin Hispanics. In the 1960s, the state’s Cuban immigrant population boomed as many left...

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Online Gambling Revenues Fall Short

 State officials blame slow start on technology glitches and payment-processing issues By Adrienne Lu, Stateline – State lawmakers who dream of dollar signs from legalized online gambling might want to pause for a moment to consider Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Last year, the three states became the first in the country to legalize Internet gaming. But as New Jersey Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told state lawmakers earlier this year: “Clearly, the results so far have not met our expectations.” New Jersey officials initially predicted legal online gambling would boost state tax revenues by $180 million in fiscal 2014. By the time Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed the budget last June, the figure had been revised downward to $160 million. By the end of May, one month shy of the fiscal year’s end, the state had taken in just $9.3 million in revenue from online gambling, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative...

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In Stand Against Big Oil, Small Town Moves to Ban Tar Sands

Sarah Lazare, staff writer, Common Dreams – Residents of a small city in coastal Maine are pushing to formally ban Big Oil’s plans to pump tar sands through their community, and they’re pretty sure they’re going to win. Over 200 people wearing matching sky-blue tee-shirts flooded a city council meeting in South Portland on Wednesday night to cheer a presentation on a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the bulk loading of crude oil—including tar sands—as well as new infrastructure for such purposes within city limits. Backers of the legislation, known as the Clear Skies Ordinance, say tar sands transport through their city would devastate their waterfront, unleash toxic air pollution, and risk dangerous spills. And they have reason to worry. South Portland’s Portland-Montreal pipeline, which is majority-owned by Exxon-Mobil, is critical to two separate pipeline projects to transport tar sands. Canadian pipeline company Enbridge appears to be moving forward...

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Top Nursing Home Pharmacy Company to Pay $124 Million to Settle False Billing Claims

Omnicare Inc., the nation’s largest provider of pharmaceuticals and pharmacy services to nursing homes, has agreed to pay $124.24 million for reportedly offering improper financial incentives to skilled nursing facilities in return for their continued selection of Omnicare to supply drugs to elderly Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, the Justice Department announced today .    Omnicare is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Health-care providers who seek to profit from providing illegal financial benefits will be held accountable,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Schemes such as this one undermine the health care system and take advantage of elderly nursing home residents.”“Omnicare provided improper discounts in return for the opportunity to provide medication to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “Nursing homes should select their pharmacy provider based on the best quality, service and cost to the residents, not based...

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Thad Cochran owes his job to Mississippi’s black voters

by David Jarman – attribution: None Specified Thad Cochran’s unexpected victory on Tuesday night was unexpected, in part, because very few polls showed him beating Chris McDaniel. (It was also unexpected because there’s very little precedent for incumbents who finish second in a primary in a runoff state to surge and win the runoff.) However, rewind the tape back to Eric Cantor’s unexpected loss a few weeks ago, where something very similar happened. In Mississippi as in Virginia, it was an open primary, and the pollsters weren’t thinking outside the box. However, the victorious campaigns did think outside the box; they targeted voters outside the universe of likely voters in a Republican primary. In Cochran’s case, that meant targeting Democratic voters who, while they might not want to vote for Cochran in a general election, might still easily prefer Cochran, an old-school appropriator, to McDaniel, a shrink-the-government-at-all-costs type with alleged...

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Report: Militarization of Police Turning Communities into ‘War Zones’

SWAT raids disproportionately affecting people of color Lauren McCauley, staff writer, Common Dreams – The rapid militarization of American police forces is turning our communities into “war zones” with tactics of war used disproportionately against people of color, charged a new report by the ACLU on Tuesday. The report, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing (pdf) reveals how heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are being increasingly deployed for basic police work, such as serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs. “Our police are trampling on our civil rights and turning communities of color into war zones,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel with the ACLU’s Center for Justice. “Carried out by ten or more officers armed with assault rifles, flashbang grenades, and battering rams,” Dansky continued, “these paramilitary raids disproportionately impacted people of color, sending the clear message that the families being raided are...

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Report: World’s Oceans on Brink of Collapse

Global Ocean Commission says rescue needed within five years By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – The world’s oceans face irreparable damage from climate change and overfishing, with a five-year window for intervention, an environmental panel said Tuesday. Neglecting the health of the oceans could have devastating effects on the world’s food supply, clean air, and climate stability, among other factors. The Global Oceans Commission, an environmental group formed by the Pew Charitable Trust, released a report (PDF) addressing the declining marine ecosystems around the world and outlining an eight-step “rescue package” to restore growth and prevent future damage to the seas. The 18-month study proposes increased governance of the oceans, including limiting oil and gas exploration, capping subsidies for commercial fishing, and creating marine protected areas (MPAs) to guard against pollution, particularly from plastics. “A healthy ocean is a key to our well-being,” said Jose Maria Figueres, co-chair and former president...

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NRA Demands Convicted Stalkers And Abusive Boyfriends Be Allowed To Own Guns

by Gloria Christie – The night is dark, every breeze stirs the summer bushes and startles her. Is he there? Or is she imagining things? If only the street light were closer to her car. She tells herself that she only needs to make it 12 more steps to her car. And then she is there. Her hand trembles so badly that she drops her keys. But finally she is inside her car, locks the doors and leans back letting out a slow sigh of relief. “I’ve been waiting for you,” comes a familiar voice from the backseat. She can feel the cold muzzle of his gun pressed hard against the back of her neck. It is a guy she dated just twice. The one who beat her so badly that she went to the hospital the last time. The man who said if he couldn’t have her no one...

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First Nations

Win for ‘Rightful Stewards of the Land:’ Canadian Court Sides With First Nations

Ruling marks first time Supreme Court grants aboriginal land title By Max Ocean, Common Dreams – In a landmark ruling on Thursday with potential implications for the planned Northern Gateway pipeline, Canada’s Supreme Court unanimously granted an aboriginal land title to the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, giving them claim to more than 1,700 square kilometers in British Columbia. “British Columbia breached its duty to consult owed to the Tsilhqot’in through its land use planning and forestry authorizations,” the 81-page decision (pdf) states. “I didn’t think it would be so definitive,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “I was actually prepared for something much less.” “I didn’t think it would be so definitive. I was actually prepared for something much less.” – Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. The decision rejected the narrow view of what qualified for protection under aboriginal rights from a 2012 ruling by the...

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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Insist They’re Private Corporations With No Public Accountability

by  Justin Rosario – You know, I grew up in New York and it takes a lot for us New Yorkers to be rendered speechless, particularly where the police are concerned. The NYPD, as an organization, has a set of brass balls that put the Wall St. bull to shame. But the SWAT teams in Massachusetts? They just took chutzpah to a whole new level: “Let’s be clear,” wrote Radley Balko for The Washington Post. “These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure, and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get...

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Moral Movement Launches ‘Freedom Summer’ in NC

Rev. William Barber: “We have exposed the hypocrisy, now it is time to organize” By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Protesters who for over a year have railed against the “extremist” policies of the North Carolina legislature are now bringing their fight to the voting booth as the movement known as Moral Mondays launched a bold initiative to get-out-the-vote this week. “We have exposed the hypocrisy,” Rev. William J. Barber II, chief organizer of the protests and head of the state chapter of the NAACP, said during a rally outside the General Assembly in Raleigh on Monday. Now is the time to organize.” Organizers estimate that upwards of 3,500 protesters from across the state attended the mass demonstration before splitting up into smaller factions for “teach-ins” to discuss the group’s new voter outreach strategy. In what the group is calling an “aggressive” statewide voting campaign, several dozen youth activists who have undergone extensive training...

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Hubbard Broadcasting co-sponsors Heartland Institute’s climate denial disinformation conference

by Meteor Blades – Every year, the propagandists at the Heartland Institute hold a conference to spread the word that scientists are wrong about global warming. No surprise that the sponsors make up a list of the usual suspects. But one sponsor this year is a bit unusual. It’s Hubbard Broadcasting, which operates 13 television stations, 31 radio stations and two cable channels in Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Washington, D.C., and Washington state. The billionaire owner, Stanley Hubbard, has called global warming “the biggest fraud in the history of America,” according to Rolling Stone. Dave Dahl, chief meteorologist at Hubbard’s flagship station in Minneapolis, calls global warming a “political theory” adopted by scientists eager for grant money. Usually, corporate media do a bit better job of concealing their agenda by avoiding open sponsorship of disinformation specialists. So what’s up? At Media Matters, Shauna Theel writes:...

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Maliki ‘welcomes Syrian strikes’ on rebels

Iraqi PM tells BBC of air raids on Syrian side of border as UK foreign minister arrives in Baghdad for talks on crisis The Syrian air force has carried out air raids against Sunni rebels on the Syrian side of the Iraq-Syria border this week, the Iraqi prime minister has told the BBC. Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday told the British broadcaster he “welcomed” any such strike against the rebels, led by the formerly al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), adding that his government did not request Tuesday’s aerial raids. On Wednesday al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, al-Nusra Front, also made a local pledge of allegiance to ISIL, further bolstering the group’s control of the border area. The purported raids by Syria came after ISIL-led fighters took control of the border town of al-Qaim on the Iraqi side of the frontier, providing them a strategic route into Syria, where...

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Fox News Host Rips Michele Bachmann Apart For Being A ‘Silly’ Hypocrite (VIDEO)

by Ryan Denson – Way to go Fox News! That’s something you’ll never hear come out of my mouth! But today, some congratulations and recognition is due because instead of catering to Michele Bachmann, you’ve called her out and exposed her for how ridiculous she really is. Now that we are fully aware Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are suing President Obama over his use of executive orders, we can commence the explosion that will occur in the GOPs face. And today it started on Fox News when anchor Neil Cavuto lambasted the representative from Minnesota on her wasted efforts to bring forth the lawsuit and argued that it would not go anywhere, that it was a waste of time, and it was a waste of resources while we have bigger and better fish to fry in the country. Bachmann wasn’t having it. Cavuto made clear from the beginning that he thought...

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Watch a Greenpeace Activist Confront a Coal Lobbyist as He Fails to Catch a Cab

 A telling display of question ducking, and a little humorous, too By Brandon Baker, EcoWatch – So, a Greenpeace activist and researcher approaches a coal industry lobbyist in an elevator and follows him out to the street during the hunt for a cab on a busy Washington D.C. street. What could possibly go wrong? The lobbyist is in question is Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, a firm that the coal industry has given $17.5 million since 2007, according to Greenpeace’s PolluterWatch project. The man doing the questioning is Connor Gibson, who three years ago was booted from an energy conference for confronting Holmstead about his work to block policy to control mercury when he worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Bush Administration. This time, Gibson mainly wants to know why Holmstead and his clients, which include Southern Co. and Duke Energy, are more concerned with policing the EPA’s carbon emissions proposal than...

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Children, Too, Face Post-Traumatic Stress

What happens to young people exposed to violence in their own neighborhoods? By Lois Beckett, ProPublica– When people think of post-traumatic stress disorder, they often focus on military veterans. But there’s growing evidence that PTSD is also a serious problem for American civilians, especially those exposed to violence in their own neighborhoods. Researchers in Atlanta found that 1 out of 3 inner-city residents they interviewed had experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives. We’ve put together a collection of some of the best reporting on PTSD in children and teenagers exposed to community violence. The stories here take a nuanced look at the intersection of trauma, poverty and racism. Not all stories about PTSD in high-violence neighborhoods meet that standard. This May, a local CBS affiliate released a segment on trauma in Oakland youth that referred to PTSD as “hood disease.” The anchor who used that term on air later apologized. Among our recommendations here...

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Issa wants ‘DREAMers’ with undocumented parents sent home, no matter how long they’ve been here

by Meteor Blades – Republican Rep. Darrell Issa apparently had a couple of spare minutes recently between bogus investigations. He took the opportunity to pen a letter to President Obama demanding that he start booting undocumented young immigrants out of the country again instead of allowing them to remain under a special program. That program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), provides a two-year renewable deportation reprieve to undocumented individuals up to age 30 if they entered the United States before they were 16. They can stay and work here legally if they have lived continuously in the States for five years of more, not been convicted of a felony, a major misdemeanor, or three lesser misdemeanors. They must also be in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. These unauthorized immigrants, many of whom were brought by their parents to...

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The time the head of the Tea Party Patriots got government help

by Hunter – In a story about Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and head of the Tea Party Patriots, Martin recalls her recent bankruptcy. She and her husband somehow managed to end up owing $500,000 to the IRS after their company failed. Martin is not an evil person; her story is just, well, a bit sad. She is indeed a wellspring for that odd tea party message of anti-government self-reliance even while availing oneself of the safety net the government provides, the muddled indignation at the thought of having to pay taxes for other people’s safety net coupled with the blithe assumption that the same safety net will of course be there for you if you need it. “I was very frustrated by the TARP bill, because nobody bailed us out, and we weren’t looking for a bailout,” Martin says in a coffee shop outside of Jackson. It’s a message she...

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In Blow to Safe Abortion Access, Supreme Court Rejects ‘Buffer Zone’

Justices unanimously side with argument that safe zones around clinics violate protesters’ free speech By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams– In a blow to safe access to reproductive health care services, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled (pdf) against a state effort to enforce a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics. “This decision turns back the clock to the days when women were too intimidated by protestors to seek medical care,” said Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “Women’s health will suffer because of it.” Ruling on McCullen v. Coakley, the justices unanimously sided with plaintiff Eleanor McCullen who argued that the buffer zone established by the Massachusetts Attorney General violates her First Amendment rights. “Today the Justices made it more difficult for states to protect their citizens,” said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Hogue noted that since 1991, anti-choice activists have committed eight murders and 17 attempted murders. “The law was...

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Gut Microbes Differ in Obese or Diabetic People, Study Finds

Research suggests that changes in ‘good’ intestinal bacteria could affect health HealthDay News – Obese people and those with type 2 diabetes have lower levels of common types of “good” intestinal bacteria than healthy people, a new study reveals. The findings may be important, because measuring populations of these bacteria and other microscopic organisms in the intestines could help spot people at risk for obesity and diabetes, or the bacteria might offer targets for treating these conditions, the researchers said. The study was presented Sunday at the annual joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago. “Further studies should be carried out to elucidate if the gut microbial changes are a cause or effect of metabolic diseases,” study lead investigator Dr. Yalcin Basaran, an endocrinologist from Gulhane Military Medical Academy School of Medicine in Ankara, Turkey, said in a meeting news release. “Manipulation...

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What Happened in Last Summer’s Oil Train Disaster in Quebec That Killed 47

By Roger Annis, Truthout | News Analysis  – Details of the events leading to last July’s oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, have been made public for the first time. They reinforce an existing portrait of the accident as a perfect storm of corporate malfeasance. The information comes from a freedom of information request by the Montreal English-language daily The Gazette and the French daily Journal de Montréal. The two newspapers obtained a 29-page document prepared by Quebec provincial police in its application for a search warrant of the offices of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) several weeks following the disaster. On the night of July 5-6, 2013, an un-crewed runaway crude oil train derailed and exploded in the center of the town of Lac Mégantic, killing 47 people. A heavily redacted version of the police document was given up in February of this year. The Gazette‘s...

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Federal Appeals Court Declares Utah Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: media@aclu.org DENVER – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit declared that Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. This marks the first time that an appellate-level court has ruled on state marriage bans following the dismantling of a key section of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” and sets the stage for the Supreme Court to consider state-level laws. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah submitted a “friend of the court” brief in support of the challenge to the law. The ACLU also has a lawsuit in Utah federal court seeking recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples who were wed before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted marriages from taking place. “This is a proud day for everybody in the state of Utah, and everybody across the country, who supports marriage equality,” said John Mejia,...

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2014 Dick Cheney Does Not Want You To Listen To 1994 Dick Cheney (VIDEO)

by Michael Hayne – An awesomely amazing thing about today’s internet, besides adorable animal memes, is digital storage. Thanks to video-sharing sites like YouTube, anyone can readily access a video from a previous time (typically a cat video) and use that video to better understand the present-day situation. Naturally, politicians hate it since it forces them to be even more carefully scripted then ever before. In fact, if the Bush Administration could put time in a bottle, the first thing they would probably do is water-board the people behind YouTube. 1994 Dick Cheney, Like Everyone Else, Would Hate And Fear 2014 Dick Cheney In recent days, cable news viewers have been forced to watch in horror as every single bloviating and bombastic official, responsible for the current Iraqi predicament, pretends to know how to fix the massive mistake they created. Dick Cheney, the band leader of Cheney and The Last People...

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University of Dayton Becomes First U.S. Catholic College to Divest From Fossil Fuels

‘We cannot ignore the negative consequences of climate change’ By Brandon Baker, EcoWatch – Monday marked a historic day for the University of Dayton and colleges throughout the country. The University of Dayton announced that it would divest its $670 million investment pool in fossil fuel companies. Monday’s announcement made Dayton the first Catholic university to make such a decision. “This action, which is a significant step in a long-term process, is consistent with Catholic social teachings, our Marianist values, and comprehensive campus-wide sustainability initiatives and commitments under the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran said in a statement. “We cannot ignore the negative consequences of climate change, which disproportionately impact the world’s most vulnerable people. Our Marianist values of leadership and service to humanity call upon us to act on these principles and serve as a catalyst for civil discussion and positive change that benefits our...

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Marriage Equality Wins! Religious Right Already Looking For The Next Issue To Be ‘Outraged’ About

by  Justin Rosario – The Fat Smug Bastard is going to be smugger than ever when he reads this. It really is all over except for the kicking and screaming: The far-right movement, whose torch is carried in Congress by the likes of Senator Ted Cruz and on America’s backroads by 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, has failed to stem the tide of same-sex marriage rights that has now reached 19 of the 50 US states.… “They are winning the war” over gay marriage, Religious Freedom Coalition chairman William Murray said of the Democrats. “It’s just not an issue that politically can be done anymore,” the 68-year-old told AFP, adding that US courts will take the next key steps. But just because some of the smarter conservative “Christians” are throwing in the towel doesn’t mean the rest are going to go gently into that pink night. There is exactly zero chance...

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US military advisers set up base in Baghdad

First of 300 special forces troops in Iraqi capital to help government tackle Sunni rebellion led by ISIL fighters The first of 300 US military advisers are setting up in Baghdad to help the Iraqi army tackle an expanding Sunni rebellion that has swept the country’s north and west. The special forces troops landed in the Iraqi capital on Tuesday and were beginning evaluations on Wednesday, as Pentagon officials said the US was also increasing surveillance operations in the north of Iraq. Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the soldiers would not be “rushing to the rescue” of Iraqi troops and would not be involved in combat. Kirby added that the US would carry out bombing raids if it was called upon and was already conducting “manned and unmanned” surveillance flights, the AFP news agency reported. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said the troops would be...

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Former Cop Facing Manslaughter Charge After Shooting Unarmed Woman, Wants His Job Back With Back Pay

by Ed Krayewski – Shaun Cowley, a former narcotics officer in West Valley City, Utah, is facing a single count of manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed woman in a parking lot during an undercover drug operation. Via the Associated Press: Cowley fired at the unarmed Willard as she backed her car out of an apartment complex parking spot. He contended his life was in danger, but Gill said that’s not the case because Cowley was standing on the side of the woman’s car. Cowley’s attorney Lindsay Jarvis has called Gill’s decision to prosecute the former officer “incredibly disappointing” and said Cowley continues to maintain his innocence. The district attorney previously found the shooting, which also involved another cop who is not facing any criminal charges, not justified, opening the door up to the current prosecution the cop’s attorney calls “disappointing.” Willard’s mother, too, said...

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Supreme Court effectively kills presidential recess appointments

by Adam B – The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.–U.S. Constitution, Art. II, sec 2, cl. 3 In its long-awaited decision this morning in NLRB v. Noel Canning, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously held that the president’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional because the Senate remained in pro forma session during its 2011-12 winter break, thus preventing the “recess” from ever occurring. The ruling therefore invalidates all the decisions made by the NLRB while recess-appointed members were sitting, because the board effectively lacked a true quorum during that period. Justice Scalia, writing for himself, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, would have gone further, and denied the recess appointment power except in cases in...

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US Forced to Release Memo on Extrajudicial Drone Killing

DOJ ‘drone memo‘ reveals legal arguments for targeting of US citizens By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams – The U.S. government on Monday partially released the formerly-classified Department of Justice “drone memo,” dated 2010, in which Obama administration lawyers argue they have the right to extra-judicially kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen. Anwar Al Aulaqi, who had been placed on a “kill list,” died by U.S. drone strikes in September 2011, along with Samir Khan, as well as three other people. Just weeks later, another U.S. drone attack on a restaurant in Yemen killed Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s son, Abdulrahman, also a U.S. citizen, and six other civilians. In the memo, which is addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, David Barron — then head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel—argues that the targeted killing is legal “where, as here, the target’s activities pose a ‘continued and imminent threat of violence or death’...

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Dallas County, TX Just Unintentionally Voted for Slavery Reparations

By MBD, Political Blind Spot – In a dramatic move Tuesday, African American commissioner John Wiley Price introduced a Juneteenth resolution in celebration of the end of slavery in America. Now, officially, Dallas County’s population of 2.5 million residents now officially stand for “monetary and substantial reparations” for African Americans’ suffering. This position was taken, apparently unintentionally after the County Commission approved a resolution that the white commissioners never bothered to read. Commissioner John Wiley Price introduced the resolution which passed unanimously. According to the Dallas Morning News: The “Juneteenth Resolution,” commemorating the day slaves in Texas learned of their freedom, seemed from its description to be just another routine proclamation. Others approved on Tuesday expressed support for Men’s Health Month — it’s June — the American Kidney Fund, and an employee in the tax office who’s been on the job for 25 years. But Price’s resolution went beyond taking note of Juneteenth;...

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Another Texas WTF – Open Carry Gun Extremists Plan March Through ‘Black Neighborhood’

by Leslie Salzillo – This one’s a doozy. Even some of my friends and family in Texas are squinting their eyes, twisting their arms and saying, “WTF?” The ‘Open Carry Texas’ group out of Houston has decided to march through a predominantly black neighborhood to ‘educate’ people of their rights. The first thing that comes to most of our minds? What if armed black men decided to march through a predominantly white neighborhood to educate… Wait, let’s go one deeper. What if armed black men decided to march through a white ‘Stand Your Ground’ neighborhood to educate them… Let that one roll around in the brain for a minute. There is talk the march was originally planned for Juneteenth Day, a holiday that celebrates the abolition of slavery. That would have been June 19th, but there was some sort of schedule mix up – you know, it being open carry,...

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Police Can’t Search Cell Phones Without a Warrant: SCOTUS

Decision has far-reaching implications for civil rights across the country Sarah Lazare – The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police can not search the mobile phones of people under arrest without a warrant, in a decision with far-reaching implications for civil rights across the country. In a 1973 case, SCOTUS ruled that searches of a person under arrest do not require a warrant, on the grounds that a police officer’s safety could be endangered. Wednesday’s ruling determines that the 1973 decision does not apply to cell phones. The court’s opinion, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, notes that modern cell phones “are not just another technological convenience” but rather, “can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures or hundreds of videos.” “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of...

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Supreme court justices earn quarter-million in cash on the side

 All but one justice report earnings from teaching gigs, book royalties by Reity O’Brien, CPI – Between legalizing gay marriage and sparring over campaign finance limits, the U.S. Supreme Court kept busy — and made money — outside the marbled halls of One First Street last year. All but one of the nine high court justices earned teaching income or book royalties in 2013, hauling in a quarter of a million dollars for their work shaping young legal minds in the classroom or through the written word. Top earner Justice Antonin Scalia raked in more than $100,000 in book royalties for his 2012 tome “Reading Law: Interpretation of Legal Texts” and teaching wages from Southern Methodist University, Duke University, Tufts University and Pennsylvania State University, according to new financial disclosure reports released Friday and reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity. Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not report any outside...

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As FIFA attempts to curb racism at the World Cup, a look at hate speech laws worldwide

  By Angelina Theodorou – Reports of racist and xenophobic slurs against players and fans have continued to emerge during the World Cup. Two fans were arrested last weekend after chanting racist remarks during the match featuring Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina. In an attempt to combat hate speech during the tournament, FIFA and Brazilian authorities initiated an anti-racism campaign using the hashtag #SayNoToRacism. Hate speech is taken seriously in Brazil, where racist or religiously intolerant speech or actions are prohibited by law and carry penalties including imprisonment. Brazil is not the only country with a law that penalizes hate speech. A new Pew Research analysis finds hate speech laws in 89 countries around the world (45%), according to 2012 data. In some countries, the laws protect only certain religious or social groups, while others have broader laws, covering words or actions that insult, denigrate or intimidate a person or group based...

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‘Kafkaesque’ No-Fly List Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Judge

In a landmark ruling, judge rules secretive list violate rights to due process and travel by air by Sarah Lazare, staff writer, Common Dreams – In a watershed ruling, a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the U.S. ‘No-Fly’ list—which bans tens of thousands of people from boarding flights on the grounds of ‘terrorism’—is unconstitutional because it deprives U.S. citizens of the right to due process and the right to travel by air. The decision was immediately heralded by plaintiffs in the case, which was brought four years ago by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 13 Muslim-Americans who were placed on the list with no explanation why or possibility of recourse. “I have been prevented by the government from traveling to visit my family members and fulfill religious obligations for years, and it has had a devastating impact on all of us,” said plaintiff Sheikh Mohamed...

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Corporate Media Starts The Hillary Hatefest Early

by Justin Rosario – I’m sooooooo incredibly not surprised by this: CNN anchor Miguel Marquez misquoted Hillary Clinton this morning, claiming she told the Guardian newspaper that she and her husband are “not truly well off.” That’s inaccurate. What Clinton told the Guardian was that unlike “a lot of people who are truly well off,” she and her husband “pay ordinary income tax.” Here’s the full context from The Guardian interview : America’s glaring income inequality is certain to be a central bone of contention in the 2016 presidential election. But with her huge personal wealth, how could Clinton possibly hope to be credible on this issue when people see her as part of the problem, not its solution? “But they don’t see me as part of the problem,” she protests, “because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard...

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On This Day, June 26, 2003 – Former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond dies

Strom Thurmond, who served in the United States Senate for a record 46 years, dies on this day in 2003. Thurmond’s long and controversial political career had ended with his retirement one year earlier. Thurmond was born on December 5, 1902, in Edgefield, South Carolina, where he also died. He graduated from what is now Clemson University in 1923 with a degree in horticulture and became a teacher and coach, and, later, a superintendent of schools. While working in education, he studied law at night, and passed the bar in 1930. He worked as an attorney and, eventually, a judge, before serving in WWII, where he participated in the D-Day beach-storming at Normandy with the Army’s 82nd Airborne division. Thurmond’s political career began in 1946 when he became governor of South Carolina, a position he held for one term. As governor, as well as in the early part of...

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Five years in, recovery still underwhelms compared with previous ones

by Drew DeSilver – As of this month, the U.S. economy’s recovery from the Great Recession is five years old. But given how most Americans rate it, they can be forgiven for not feeling much in the mood for cake and ice cream. In a Pew Research Center survey from April, only 6% of Americans said the economy was recovering strongly. Two-thirds (66%) said the economy was recovering, but not very strongly; about a quarter (26%) said it wasn’t recovering at all. The same survey found that Americans’ financial self-assessment had barely budged since June 2009, when the recession officially ended: 37% rated their financial situation “excellent” or “good,” 39% “only fair,” and 23% “poor.” That persistent economic pessimism is warranted. By several measures — gross domestic product, personal income, job growth and employment ratio — the current recovery is among the weakest on record, particularly given its duration. Unless the economy’s official...

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Report Exposes Companies That Dumped 206 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Into U.S. Waterways

By Brandon Baker, EcoWatch – Research from Environment America shows that 2012 was a bigger year for toxic chemical dumping than most of us could have imagined. Industrial facilities across the U.S. dumped more than 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals into waterways in 2012, according to the “Wasting Our Waterways” report. The figures about the nation, as a whole, are stark, as are figures about individual regions and companies. For instance, Tyson Foods Inc. alone dumped more than 18.5 million pounds — about 9 percent of the nationwide total. “America’s waterways should be clean — for swimming, drinking and supporting wildlife,” said Ally Fields, clean water advocate for Environment America’s Research and Policy Center. “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters. The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.” Hope for such a legislative restoration explains the report’s timing. It arrives as...

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‘Obviously blessed’ Hillary Clinton has Released 30 years of Tax Returns. Romney? McCain?

By Jon Perr, Daily Koss– Republicans have their queen of the 1 percent. In the wake of her flip comments about having been “dead broke” and not “truly well off,” the GOP and its conservative echo chamber are portraying Hillary Clinton as the reincarnation of Leona Helmsley. Hoping to provide additional fodder for the right, Bloomberg News suggested estate tax supporter Hillary is a hypocrite because of the ways the Clintons manage their finances to reduce their estate tax exposure. The right-wing research group America Rising notified its email list that Secretary Clinton “might be advised to take a lengthy sabbatical from her $200k-per-pop speaking tour and private shopping sprees at Bergdorfs to try and reconnect with what’s happening back here on Earth.” Of course, it is the GOP hoping the American people slept through the last decade here on planet Earth. After all, it was President George W. Bush, then worth $21 million, who described his...

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Ralph Reed Urging GOP To 2014 Electoral Suicide Over Marriage Equality (VIDEO)

by  Wes Williams – Spokesperson for the religious right, Ralph Reed is convinced he knows the way to Republican victory in November — keep opposing marriage equality. Reed, who was disgraced several years ago in the Jack Abramoff scandal, is back to advising Republicans on how to win elections. He is certain that opposition to marriage equality is the ticket this year. Reed recently sat down for an interview with Al Hunt of Bloomberg TV. Hunt asks if anyone who supports marriage equality would be unacceptable to evangelicals as a presidential candidate. Reed replies, “I think that’s certainly our view. That’s the position that we take. What I would simply point out is that if you poll Republican primary voters, 75 to 80 percent of them are in support of traditional marriage.” A strong number, on its face. But when you realize that Republican primary voters make up a minuscule part of...

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