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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