Mount Polley: A Wake-Up Call to the Realities of Tailings Ponds

By Dr. David Suzuki, EcoWatch – When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an “extremely rare” occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here. He failed to mention the 46 “dangerous or unusual occurrences” that B.C’s chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating mine sites. This spill was predictable. Concerns were raised about Mount Polley before the breach. CBC reported that B.C.’s Environment Ministry issued several warnings about the amount of water in the pond to mine owner Imperial Metals. With 50 mines operating in B.C. — and many others across Canada — we can expect more incidents, unless we reconsider how we’re extracting resources. Sudden and severe failure is a risk for all large...

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Häagen-Dazs Says No to ‘Extreme’ Genetic Engineering Techniques

By Stefanie Penn Spear, EcoWatch – Ice cream lovers who prefer to steer clear of genetically modified organisms (GMO) will be happy to hear that Häagen-Dazs has confirmed it will not use vanilla produced via synthetic biology, a new set of “extreme” genetic engineering techniques. Synthetic biology, or synbio, vanilla is designed to replace natural vanillin flavoring from vanilla beans, and is made in labs using artificial DNA and reprogrammed, genetically engineered yeast, according to a Friends of the Earth statement. The companies Evolva and International Flavors and Fragrances plan to sell synbio vanilla flavoring this year, marketing it as “natural.” The leading ice cream company — Nestlé, which produces Häagen-Dazs in Canada and the U.S., and General Mills, which produces Häagen-Dazs outside of North America — has confirmed that it “…will not source vanilla flavor produced through synthetic biology.” Other ice cream brands, including Three Twins Ice Cream, Straus Family Creamery and Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, have also confirmed their products will not...

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Wendy Davis Draws Praise, Criticism for Education Plans

by Bobby Blanchard, The Texas Tribune – Education leaders praised additions to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ education platform this week — efforts her campaign says will increase college affordability and improve graduation rates. The campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, meanwhile, is criticizing those policy proposals for lacking details, such as how much she thinks her measures will cost, and for having the potential to grow the size of government. Davis unveiled the new plans in San Antonio on Tuesday. They include creating a Career-Technical Coordinating Board, which would coordinate between businesses and schools to ease the entry into technical jobs for students. She also proposed opening the B-On-Time loan program to part-time students and seeking “full funding” for the TEXAS Grant program to create more financial aid for students. In Austin on Wednesday, the president of the Texas State Teachers Association and vice president of Education Austin, an Austin ISD labor union, endorsed Davis’ plans and said...

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Florida Mayor Forces Atheist To Leave Public Meeting For Not Standing During Prayer (VIDEO)

by Stephen D Foster Jr – During a city council meeting in Florida, the mayor and chief of police kicked an atheist out of the room for refusing to stand during prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. As the all middle age white male city council of Winter Garden, Florida stood to open a Thursday meeting with an unconstitutional Christian prayer and recite the Pledge of Allegiance featuring the unconstitutional words “under God,” an atheist member of the community refused to do so, and his rights were violated for it. Mayor John Rees tried to force 51-year-old Joseph Richardson to stand during the meeting, because it’s somehow “just not fair to our troops and people overseas” to exercise a right to free speech and religion that our soldiers fight for Americans to have in the first place. After Richardson declined, Commissioner Bobby Olszewski delivered an ironic prayer in which he...

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Democrats Embrace ‘McCutcheon’ Decision

New ‘jumbo’ joint fundraising committee follows liberals’ harsh criticism of Supreme Court ruling by Michael Beckel & Dave Levinthal – Senate Democrats have embraced a new big-money fundraising vehicle — after repeatedly blasting the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it possible — that could help candidates, state parties and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tap wealthy donors for even more cash. The new “jumbo” joint fundraising committee, dubbed the Grassroots Victory Project 2014, marks the Democrats’ first foray into the territory opened up in April after the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling. That decision eviscerated the so-called “aggregate” campaign contribution limits that capped at nine the number of candidates a single donor could financially support at the maximum level. Paperwork recently filed with the Federal Election Commission indicates 26 Democratic candidates and party committees stand to benefit from money raised collectively through the Grassroots Victory Project 2014. This...

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Mary Burke Keeps Her Lead on Scott Walker, but it’s Tight

by Jeff Singer – The respected Marquette University Law School poll is out with a new survey, and they find things as close as ever. Among registered voters, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has a small 48-44 lead over Democratic foe Mary Burke. However, among likely voters, it’s Burke who’s up, by 49-47. In Marquette’s July poll, Walker led 46-45 among registered voters, with Burke up 47-46 among likely voters. Other pollsters have shown a very close race, but Marquette is the only one to show any Burke lead. Suffice to say, it’s a bit surprising that a Democrat is doing better among likely voters than registered voters, especially when conventional wisdom says that midterm turnout will disproportionately favor the Republicans. That said, Scott Walker is a very uniquely polarizing figure who seems to attract about as much devotion from one side as utter hatred from the other. It’s not...

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Will Ukraine Bid To Join NATO Unleash 21st Century Cold War?

Experts warn that if US and Europe continue to expand NATO’s reach without recognizing destructive consequences, crisis in eastern Ukraine risks serious escalation by Jon Queally – In a move that could dramatically spike international tensions and escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine government in Kiev on Friday submitted legislation to Parliament declaring intention to join the western military alliance of NATO and longer-term ambitions to actually join the European Union. Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk submitted the proposal on Friday just ahead of a NATO emergency meeting held in Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Following that meeting, NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emerged to say NATO would “fully respect” Ukraine’s effort to join the alliance. In comments on Thursday, President Obama chastised Russia for its behavior in Ukraine, blaming President Vladimir Putin for the continued resistance shown by armed rebels in...

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Audio: In Midst of Ferguson Rant, Rightwing Host Gets Nailed for Attacking a Cop in 1997

By Jud Lounsbury, Daily Kos – Dylan Brogan, Madison’s most intrepid reporter, happened to catch right wing talk show host Vicki McKenna’s afternoon program while flipping through the dials last Friday. On this day, McKenna was talking about the turmoil in Ferguson Missouri over a police officer shooting an unarmed teen that was, according to the police officer, attacking the police officer.  McKenna repeatedly suggested that the police officer was in the right, simply defending himself, and the protests were completely unwarranted. In a previous reporting endeavor, Brogan had obtained a police report that indicated that McKenna was charged during a 1997 U2 concert for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for altercations with police officers, security guards and fellow concert goers.  With this in mind, he was amazed by McKenna’s bravado in defending the police officer’s use of deadly force with an allegedly combative perpetrator. A little background:  Brogan is...

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The Literal War on Drugs

The promiscuous use of SWAT teams is a bigger menace than armored vehicles on our streets by Jacob Sullum – Contrary to what you may have heard, the armored vehicles that appeared on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, during the unrest that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown did not come from the Pentagon. “Most of the stuff you are seeing in video coming out of Ferguson is not military,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Defense Department’s press secretary, told reporters last week. “The military is not the only source of tactical gear in this country.” In other words: Don’t blame the military for militarizing the police. Kirby has a point. Although the Pentagon has played a role by distributing surplus gear to police departments, so have the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security by providing grants that can be used to buy military-style equipment. In any case,...

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Stunning Pictures of Drugs Under the Microscope

By Livia Rusu, ZMEScience –  Most people have a heart time putting into words what they experience when under the influence of some psychoactive drug – but Sarah Schönfeld decided to make this experience visual. The experiment was meant to transpose the change into another kind of sensory experience. The goal was observing the reaction of negative film to both legal and illegal combinations of substances to which it was exposed. Here are the results: Speed SPEED – methamphetamine, C10H15N, it is a very powerful stimulant, chemically related to amphetamine, but with more severe side effects. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Speed + Magic SPEED + MAGIC – the combination between methamphetamine and mephedrone also lies in the category of amphetamines. Although there are the long-term effects that are more serious, there have been reported cases with people hospitalized because of the short-term ones. Magic MAGIC...

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The Sunday Funnies & Factoids: The ‘Labor Day My Ass, I Ain’t Doing Nuthin’ Edition

by Keith Lennox, All-len-All, 08/31/14 –  Happy Labor day weekend Sunday, gang.  Nice to have you back.  As I type this I hear geese honking overhead as they head for more southerly climes….. oy…. that seems early.  Sure hope that isn’t a harbinger of what the winter may have in store for us, although the Old Farmer’s Almanac says that we are in for a brutal one….. both colder and more snow than last year.  If that is indeed the case I may just open a vein and pray for the sweet release of death.  Okay, off to buy 20 dollars worth of lottery tickets in hopes that I can push back my suicide attempt for the time being. While I’m gone, please enjoy this week’s edition of The Sunday Funnies and Factoids.  If by chance I do get a winning ticket I’ll save you some time and breath,...

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Potential Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson Not Sorry For Calling Liberals ‘Nazis,’

by Jameson Parker – Conservative Ben Carson may be a great neurosurgeon, but he’s not too smart when it comes to historical analogies. Recently, Carson said he was refusing to apologize for or even walk back his description of liberals as instituting “Nazi Germany” in America. In a lengthy profile in The Washington Post on the potential Republican presidential candidate, Carson insisted that the only thing stopping people from making the connection from the Holocaust to the current Democratic leadership (particularly President Barack Obama) is people are afraid to be called out for not being politically correct. That is what makes Carson stand out. What Carson lacks in political ideas or experience, he makes up for in shamelessly bucking the “PC” trend. “You can’t dance around it,” Carson said in his profile. “If people look at what I said and were not political about it, they’d have to agree. Most people...

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A Star is Formed

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Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison

A co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health LLC was sentenced today to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.2 million in restitution for her participation in a health care fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Reginald France of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.    U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence. According to court documents, Annarella Garcia, 44, of Hialeah, Florida, was a co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that...

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Eliminate Corporate Tax . . . Seriously

Economist says make up shortfall by increasing capital gains rates By kos, Daily Kos – I’ll let Robert Reich make the argument. It’s time we eliminated the corporate income tax and made up the shortfall by increasing capital gains taxes. Here’s the logic: First, the corporate income tax favors big companies that are able to shift their income abroad and engage in other tax-avoidance activities, while harming small companies that can’t do any of this and therefore suffer a competitive disadvantage. Yet small companies are the engines of job growth in America.Second, the people who actually pay the corporate income tax should properly be the company’s shareholders, who are the legal owners of the company and who benefit from increases in its income. But in many cases, depending on the structure of the market, a significant share of the actual burden of paying the corporate income tax is often borne instead...

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Federal Judge Deals Last Minute Win for Texas Women

Judge’s ruling strikes down part of restrictive abortion law that would have taken effect Monday by Andrea Germanos – In a decision welcomed by women’s health advocates, a federal judge on Friday struck down (pdf) new restrictive abortion regulations in Texas due to their “unconstitutional undue burden” on women.The case focused on part of HB2  that requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.If it had gone into effect on Monday, the law could have slashed the number of abortion providers in the state from just 19 to a mere 8. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel states that in addition to the “ambulatory-surgical-center requirement unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a previability abortion,” the admitting privileges requirement of the law which would have been imposed on clinics in McAllen and El Paso is...

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The Iraq War Was a Smashing Success

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – Make no mistake about it: by any vaguely human measure, the situation in Iraq is a US-made disaster of historic proportions. Millions dead or wounded, millions more displaced, and all overseen by a kleptocratic government more interested in grinding old enemies into the dust than governing…and of course, yes, a seemingly endless cycle of violence that claims new victims every day. The beginning of this week saw bombs ring out all over Iraq, leaving 212 dead and 184 wounded. Three bombs exploded in a commercial district in Kirkuk, killing 31. A suicide bomber charged the gate of a security building in Baghdad, killing eleven. A Sunni mosque in Diyala was attacked, leaving 60 dead. A car bombing in Karbala killed 12. Another car bomb killed 11 people in Hilla. The butcher’s bill goes on, and on, and on. US military operations in...

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Why the Kochs Can’t Counter the ‘Most Cleverly Effective’ Political Ad of the Year

By Joan McCarter, Daily Kos – That’s Sen. Mark Pryor, talking about his cancer treatment and the fight he had with his insurance company to get it covered and how Obamacare (though he doesn’t mention it by name) means that fight between cancer patients and their insurance companies won’t have to happen anymore. Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist John Brummett calls (behind a paywall) this potentially the “most cleverly effective political commercial of the year.” And he ponders how Republicans might counter this simple, effective, and emotional ad. I suspect, though, that the Koch brothers are busy scouring the country for a cancer victim whose premiums rose because of Obamacare.”I’m so thankful Senator Pryor survived his cancer scare. I know how much his dad loves him. I just wish Senator Pryor hadn’t cast the tie-breaking vote for Obamacare to make it more expensive for me to try to survive mine.” How would that work as...

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Activists Sound Alarm as More Police Departments Consider Using Drones

Anti-war groups call for increased scrutiny over use of drones as law enforcement tools by Nadia Prupis – Police departments in the U.S. are increasingly considering the use of drones as a law enforcement tool, even as civil rights groups and media turn up scrutiny of police militarization in the wake of brutal crackdowns on anti-brutality protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities. The Baltimore Sun reported on Sunday that agencies in several Maryland counties are considering testing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for intelligence gathering and “high-risk tactical raids.” That news comes less than a week after anti-war activists in California protested against “mission creep” by the Los Angeles Police Department, which recently acquired several of their own drones. Indiana police departments also recently announced their plan to pursue adding drones to their weapons arsenal. In a letter (pdf) to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Drone-Free LA spokesperson Hamid...

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The Problem is Negligence, Not Guns, Say Shooting Range Operators

The accidental death of a gun instructor by a 9-year-old girl has prompted debate on child access to guns By Jamie Tarabay, Al Jazeera–The sight of a pre-teen girl hoisting a weapon and firing off a few rounds at a shooting range is not an uncommon one in the United States, where hundreds of thousands of children learn to shoot every year. But the accidental killing of a gun instructor by a 9-year-old in Mohave County, near Las Vegas, on Monday has again re-ignited debate over gun safety and whether children should be allowed near weapons. Charles Vacca, 39, was shot in the head as he stood beside the girl, who was learning to fire an Uzi submachine gun. In a video capturing the moments before Vacca’s death, the instructor is seen showing the girl how to stand while carrying the weapon. The girl, in pink shorts and a long braid down her back,...

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$40 Million Dollar Suit Filed Against Ferguson Police

by Randa Morris – Local Darren Wilson supporters, and those who blindly support the actions of Ferguson area militarized police, may not feel quite as supportive, once they get the bill. Surprisingly enough, US citizens seem to believe that they have rights. Rights like the right to protest, the right to free speech, the right to peaceful assemble, the right to record the police, even the right to order a sundae at McDonald’s without being harassed, beaten and arrested for no reason. In other news, they also believe that when those rights are violated, they have the right to have their complaints heard in a court of law. Who knew? Obviously not the St. Louis County police… Five citizens whose civil rights were violated by police during the Ferguson protests have come together to file a lawsuit against the St. Louis County police. The suit could cost the city upwards...

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Ferguson, Abusive Policing, and Racial Politics

by Cathy Young – The tragedy and turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri—the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, followed by sometimes violent protests and a heavy-handed police crackdown—have once again brought the national spotlight on race relations in America. It has also revealed unusual political alignments, with libertarian-leaning Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and some other libertarians and conservatives joining liberals and leftists to denounce abusive police behavior, particularly toward young African-American males.  Others on the right—not only Rush Limbaugh but black commentators such as Jason Riley—are taking a more traditional conservative view which sees the black community’s worst woes as due not to racism but to its own cultural problems, aggravated by the welfare state and liberal paternalism. Each of these narratives—”racial injustice” and “cultural dysfunction”—has its truths and its blinders. Each, by itself, is overly simplistic and (as it were) black and white, both with regard to the...

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When It Comes to War in Iraq and Syria, Senate Dems Prefer No Congressional Vote

By Sarah Lazare, CommonDreams – Numerous Senate Democrats oppose bringing military operations in Iraq and Syria to a vote before Congress because they think going on the record as for or against will be harmful to their bids for office during an election season, The Hill reported Wednesday. Critics slammed this reluctance to take a position as a sign that cowardice and self gain — not principle — rule the legislature. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has been vocally pushing for President Obama to put the expanding U.S. military attacks on ISIS in Iraq and Syria to a vote before Congress, as required by the War Powers Resolution. In a press statement released Monday, Kaine stated, “I do not believe that our expanded military operations against ISIL are covered under existing authorizations from Congress.  The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force does not apply, and the Administration has testified that the 2002 Iraq war authorization is...

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Federal Judge Rules that Texas Cannot Enforce Key Provision in ‘Draconian’ Anti-abortion Law

By Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune– A federal judge on Friday struck down new requirements for Texas abortion facilities — a decision that could have shuttered all but a few abortion clinics in the state. The standards were set to go into effect Monday. The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of several abortion providers, asking U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of the District Court for the Western District of Texas to block the last provision of House Bill 2, which would have required abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Those include minimum sizes for rooms and doorways and having pipelines for anesthesia. The law, which was passed by the Republican-led Legislature last year, included several strict abortion regulations that are already in effect. In his ruling, Yeakel wrote that the law’s ambulatory surgical center requirements “burdens Texas women in a way...

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Secret Internal Document Urging Closure of California Nuclear Plant Revealed

Former plant inspector first raised concerns about seismic safety in 2010 by Deirdre Fulton – In a report written last year but not made public until Monday, a former federal inspector expresses uncertainty over whether California’s last operating nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, could withstand strong shaking from nearby earthquake faults. In a 42-page document (pdf) filed in July of 2013, Dr. Michael Peck, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former senior resident inspector at Diablo Canyon, calls for the plant to be shut down “pending demonstration that…safety functions can be met at the higher seismic stress levels.” Observers criticized the NRC’s withholding of the report. Though Peck asked that his dissent—known as a Differing Professional Opinion, written in response to the NRC’s decision to let the plant’s twin reactors keep running despite the failure of both plant operator Pacific Gas & Electric Co and the NRC to conduct a rigorous safety analysis...

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Marco Rubio Turns Against Latino Kids

by kos – That cover was predicated on the idea that Republicans needed Latinos to win national elections, and since his last name was “Rubio,” ta-da! The Republicans were saved! And for a while, Rubio was okay on immigration reform, even helping move a reform package out of the Senate. But then someone reminded him that he wants to run for president, and conservatives hate brown people, so now he scolds DREAMers for political points. For an ambitious Republican looking to prove his conservative bona fides and rub out the stain of working with Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, the interruption was something of a gift. A plugged-in Republican operative turned to a reporter and observed dryly, “I couldn’t think of a better way to make Rubio look good in South Carolina.” There’s nothing that would make Rubio look better in front of rabid conservatives than bashing...

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Are We About to See What Obama Can Do When He Doesn’t Give a Damn?

by J.D. Tuccille – Ah, to be unencumbered by worries or responsibilities. It’s that feeling of open horizons known by twenty-somethings with an apartment and a first paycheck, by healthy retirees with topped-off 401Ks—and by second-term presidents who have stopped giving a shit about their own political party’s prospects. In an era of expanding executive power, President Obama looks like a guy contemplating a world of interesting possibilities. Even his fellow Democrats seem a bit jittery about just what the man in the Oval Office has in mind. Timothy Cama at The Hill writes, “President Obama’s election-year plan to win a new international climate change accord is making vulnerable Democrats nervous.” So why don’t they just tell the president that any such deal is DOA in the Senate? At least until after the election? Because Coral Davenport at the New York Times suggests that Obama plans to bypass Congress entirely....

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Disease Specialist Debunks Anti-Immigration Claim On Air, Conservative Host Ends Interview

By STEPHEN D FOSTER JR, Addicting Info – A conservative host rushed to end an interview with an actual doctor as the health expert debunked a favorite anti-immigration claim of the right-wing. Ever since the issue of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the border between Mexico and the United States became big national news, Republicans have pushed the false claim that these kids are bringing disease to spread in this country. So far, conservatives have listed diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, scabies, polio, influenza, and even the Ebola virus as afflictions that are being brought over the border from Central America. But during an interview on Newsmax, Dr. Peter Horetz caused former Arizona GOP Rep. J.D. Hayworth to end the discussion early in an effort to stop him from debunking that claim. Unfortunately for Hayworth and conservatives, the effort failed. Hayworth invited the medical professional to be his guest...

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Monsanto’s Worst Nightmare Coming True: The Rise of GMO Labeling

Activists against GMOs just might take down the biotech giants after all. GMO labeling could soon be a sweet reality by Christina Sarich – Last week, Colorado broke a new record by bringing 16,950 signatures to a GMO labeling campaign for fall’s election, more than double the qualifying signatures needed to make sure that GMO labeling is on the ballot. This huge message to Monsanto accompanies a similar campaign in Oregon, all while the biotech industry awaits approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more Agent Orange chemicals (2,4-D) to be used where glyphosate has failed. Incredibly, the USDA is ignoring Americans as well as scientists who say that being carpet-bombed with 176 million pounds of toxic pesticides is not only unfathomable, but intolerable. No one wants these carcinogenic, birth-defect-causing toxins created by biotech companies and seed monopolizers anymore. Finally, Monsanto has to fight GMO labeling fronts simultaneously in two different states....

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Burger King ‘Inversion’ Allows It to Profit Off Public, Dodge Taxes, say Critics

Fast food giant to acquire Tim Hortons, reap benefits of tax loophole by Andrea Germanos – Critics are slamming Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s announcement it is buying Canadian food chain Tim Hortons Inc. and moving its headquarters to Canada as a tax-dodging move enabled by a tax code that “treats corporations better than people.”The tax loophole at issue is called a “corporate inversion.” As Dave Johnson explains at Campaign for America’s Future blog, it is when a US company buys or merges with a non-US company, and then pretends it is no longer a US company. Today it’s Burger King. Not long ago it was Walgreens. Even though an inverted company has renounced its US citizenship, the company keeps the same executives, the same stores or facilities, the same employees, and the same customers — right here in the US. The only things that changes is the company sheds certain...

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Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS Foundation: Less Than 27% Of Donations Fund Research & Cures

by Anthony Gucciardi – As a huge proponent of serious charitable organizations, it always is disturbing to see trends such as Kony 2012 and various Susan G. Komen for the Cure initiatives take the social media atmosphere by storm. From the ultimate backlash against the celebrity-driven Kony fraud to the embarrassment of the KFC ‘Buckets for the Cure’ campaign backed by Susan G. Komen, I was immediately hoping that the infamous new ‘ice bucket challenge’ would in fact be an exception to the series of misled social media fundraising campaigns. As soon as the ALS Association published its official numbers and my contacts within the investigative community confirmed the worst, however, it was apparent that once again we have been shoveling (or dumping in this case by the bucket-load) our hard earned funds into an organization that only uses about 27% of its financing to actually fuel research ‘for the cure’...

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Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional

By Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune – Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state’s school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor. In an almost 400-page opinion released Thursday, District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin said that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional not only because of inadequate funding and flaws in the way it distributes money to districts, but also because it imposes a de facto state property tax. Certain to be appealed by the state, the lawsuit that arose after lawmakers cut roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011 will now continue to the Texas Supreme Court. Though Dietz made no public remarks on Thursday, his decision is a reprise of an earlier oral ruling in February 2013. From the bench at the time, Dietz discussed what he called the “civic, altruistic and economic” reasons for supporting public education. “We realize that...

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Mind-blowing Pictures of the Earth Taken by Reid Wiseman from the ISS

 By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – The people onboard the International Space Station have been spoiling us with a lot of amazing pictures – and this one is no exception. Here, we see Africa embracing its northern neighbor, the Mediterranean sea. Reid Wiseman (which you can also follow on Twitter) often posts mind blowing pictures, like the ones above and below. All pictures taken from his Twitter, with his captions. #EarthArt – a #volcano in #Africa is blown eastward over time. Another slow shutter to capture the #atmosphere at night. Breathtaking. The #Nile and the Red Sea meet the Mediterranean. Watching the #sunrise across planet #Earth – my favorite moments in space. Wicked #thunderstorms surround #Galveston Dams are everywhere and easy to spot from #space – this is along the #Nile We just hurled 2 @ISS_Research #cubesats out of the #ISS like cannonballs. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this. 10...

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Oops – Mitch McConnell Caught On Tape (AUDIO)

by DeWyn – Remember when during the 2012 Presidential election, Mitt Romney was caught on tape reminding people that Republicans only care about rich people? Many believe that lost the election for him. Well, it looks like history is repeating itself but this time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was the one caught saying what he actually thinks about corporate America and the rest of us. At a Father’s Day retreat with his owners contributors, Charles and David Koch, and several other millionaires and billionaires, McConnell spoke a bit too candidly. He talked about how the Senate obstructs progress: “So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No...

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Despite Calls for Humanity, Detroit Resumes Water Shutoffs

Citizen advocates warn that the “whole world is watching” By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Despite widespread public outcry and international condemnation, the city of Detroit on Tuesday resumed shutting off the water supply to thousands of city residents. Ending the month-long moratorium on shutoffs, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) public affairs specialist Gregory Eno confirmed to Common Dreams that the city turned off the water to roughly 400 households that are delinquent on their water bills and have not yet set up a payment plan. More shutoffs are expected. According to the citizens group Detroit Water Brigade, the only thing that changed since shutoffs began in March is that the city has lowered the required down payment water bills from 30% to 10%. “The water is still too expensive for Detroit,” they said. Detroit is one of the poorest cities in the United States with over 38% of the population living below the poverty...

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Christie Funnels Public Pension Money to Wall Street While Pushing Cuts on Workers

By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos– New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t plan to make the state’s promised payment — under a law he personally pushed for — to public worker pensions. But while the 2016 Republican hopeful is shorting money intended for workers, he’s made sure the state pays out plenty of money to Wall Street: In 2009, the year before Christie took office, New Jersey spent $125.1 million on financial management fees. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, the state reported spending $398.7 million on such fees. In all, New Jersey’s pension system has spent $939.8 million on financial fees between fiscal year 2010 and 2013. That’s only a little less than the amount Christie cut from state education funding in 2010 — a cut that played a major role in shrinking the state’s teaching force by 4,500 teachers. That money might also have reduced the amount the state needs to pay into the...

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Ukraine Accuses Russia of Launching Invasion

President Poroshenko cancels trip to Turkey amid news and convenes security council   Two columns of Russian tanks and military vehicles fired Grad missiles at a border post in southeastern Ukraine, then rolled into the country Thursday as Ukraine’s overmatched border guards fled, a top Ukrainian official said. The comments, by Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council, and statements from NATO, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and the United States left little doubt that the Russian military entered southeastern Ukraine. A top NATO official said at least 1,000 Russian troops have poured into Ukraine with sophisticated equipment and have engaged Ukrainian soldiers, resulting in casualties. He called that a conservative estimate and said an additional 20,000 Russian troops were right over the border. “Russian forces have entered Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday, canceling a trip to Turkey for the inauguration of newly elected President Recep...

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Docs, Drug Companies, Insurers Drive Up Medicare Costs

Obamacare forced cuts at hospitals, but not for other segments of industry By Wendell Potter, Center for Public Integrity – As one of an estimated 78 million baby boomers in this country, I was delighted to hear that Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund won’t run out of money until 2030 — 13 years later than projected in 2009, the year before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. While it’s uncertain how much of that good news can be attributed to the health care law, some of the provisions aimed at slowing Medicare spending, such as requiring Medicare to reduce payments to hospitals with high readmission rates, are likely helping. But the Hospital Trust Fund accounts for only about half of total Medicare spending. Most of the rest goes to cover physician fees, prescription drugs and to provide incentives for health insurance companies to participate in the Medicare Advantage program and administer the Medicare...

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Gazans in the United States Suffer the Horrors of War From Abroad

By Pam Bailey, Truthout | Report – As the media headlines swing from the growing death count in the Gaza Strip to fitful truce negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, a growing number of Americans are becoming aware of the eight-year-old blockade that has prevented the 1.8 million people of Gaza from living a normal life. However, it still seems like a distant battle; most Americans don’t realize that the conflict is fueled by billions of dollars of US military “aid,” or that there are Palestinians from Gaza living among them, fearing for their loved ones’ lives from afar. Separated from their parents, siblings, children and spouses after leaving the Strip to study or work, they have watched news of the Israeli assault with horror. Some have lost homes, relatives or both. “I’d rather be with my family than be abroad,” says Minna Albarqi, who, like most of the...

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Siding with GMO Giants, Federal Judge Rejects Kauai Anti-GMO Law

County ordinance meant to protect people and land from ‘one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture’ by Lauren McCauley – Siding with a coalition of GMO giants, a federal judge in Hawaii rejected a local effort to protect the health and environment of the island by blocking heavy pesticide use near homes and schools. The Kauai County ordinance known as Bill 2491, which was passed in October, aimed to shield residents from the intensive pesticide spraying that had transformed parts of the island “into one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture,” as Grist writer Paul Koberstein recently reported. Despite strong public support behind the measure, Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled that Bill 2491 is “pre-empted” by a state law which Kurren said is meant to broadly regulate all state pesticide matters. The suit was brought against the county by four multinational...

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Pat Robertson Knows Why Robin Williams Committed Suicide (VIDEO)

By PBSpot Admin – Televangelist Pat Robertson claims to know why loved comedian Robin Williams commited suicide. Apparently, Williams had the wrong god. “What is your god” Robertson asks. “Is it money? So when you get money, what’s gonna happen? Is it fame? So when you get fame, what’s gonna happen? You know, you see these very popular people in the media who commit suicide, like Robin Williams recently, and ‘you say what is the deal with him’ what happened? You find people at the top of the game in music and they’re strung out on drugs, what happened, what was their god? You see, the god of the heathen are idols. And everything that you seek in life can ruin you, unless that something, or somebody, is God.” Interesting that he never mentions anything that might sound like science. For example the oft quoted phrase “chemical imbalance” that fails...

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The Bear Necessities

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Journalism is Under Attack, and Not Just in Ferguson

By Noa Yachot, ACLU – It is not a great time to be a journalist in America. The assault on the First Amendment by militarized police in Ferguson, Mo., continues unabated, and the press is not spared. Since the start of protests against the August 9 killing of Michael Brown, journalists in Ferguson have been arrested, fired on, threatened, and assaulted. After more than a week of heavy-handed police violence – through the use of tactics and weapons better suited for a warzone than an American suburb – freedoms of speech and the press were dealt a major legal blow on Tuesday. A federal court denied a motion from the ACLU of Missouri for an emergency order to prevent police from enforcing a ban on standing in place for more than five seconds. The “keep-moving mandate” (also known as the five-second rule) remains in place, criminalizing constitutionally protected activity and placing a dangerous barrier on the ability of...

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Few Say Police Forces Nationally Do Well in Treating Races Equally

Most Have At Least ‘Fair Amount’ of Confidence in Local Police Amid continuing tensions over the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo., most Americans give relatively low marks to police departments around the country for holding officers accountable for misconduct, using the appropriate amount of force, and treating racial and ethnic groups equally. However, most also continue to express at least a fair amount of confidence in their local police forces to avoid using excessive force and to treat blacks and whites equally, though there are large racial gaps in opinion here as well as in views of police performance nationally. Public confidence in community police in these areas has not changed substantially since 2009. The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted August 20-24 among 1,501 adults, finds that overall perceptions of relations between blacks and whites are only modestly...

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LA Police Refuse to Release Information on In-Custody Deaths, Community Pushes Back

By Bethania Palma Markus, Truthout | Report – Community activists continue to push the Los Angeles Police Department for transparency after two unarmed men died within days of each other as a result of violent stops by LAPD officers. But to date, no information has been given. Ezell Ford, 25, and Omar Abrego, 37, died on August 11 and August 2, respectively. Police placed a “security hold” on the autopsy reports of both men on August 15, meaning neither report will be released to the public until the hold is lifted. As of now, the LAPD has not released the names of the officers involved. The deaths happened within blocks of each other, and community outrage coincided with civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after police there shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death on August 9. Anger in Los Angeles has taken the form of peaceful marches and rallies...

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BULLETS AND BURGERS: WELCOME TO THE USA

By Mike Caccioppoli What kind of country are we living in? No, seriously, I want to know. A nine-year-old girl just accidentally killed her shooting range instructor! I remember when kids had piano teachers instead of Uzi teachers. I think I’m going to start my own GoFundMe page where I ask for donations so I can move to Canada. I’m being totally serious. I’m living in a country where twenty little kids can be blown to bits and nothing, I mean nothing is done about it. Nothing to destroy the organization that time and time again allows this shit to happen. So we have shooting after shooting (mass and just ‘minor’) and for a week or two we talk about it and then we move on to the next story. Which of course this being the USA no doubt has something to do with guns, police brutality, or a place we want to...

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Abortion clinics forced to keep standards that the states don’t keep themselves

by weinenkel – Ohio’s Republican governor has been working feverishly to outlaw abortions. The trick has been to create laws that make it almost impossible for clinics to get licenses. Current Ohio law requires an abortion clinic to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital in case of emergencies, but Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a budget in 2013 that includes a provision barring public hospitals from granting transfer agreements to abortion providers. Well, some clinics in Ohio have worked very hard to meet these requirements and, of course, almost all of them are operating with expired licenses. Is this because they aren’t following the letter of the law? No, actually. As the Daytona Daily News reports: In almost all of these cases, the Ohio Department of Health has inspected the surgical abortion facility but never issued a report to notify the clinic if the annual license is valid....

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Clemson Student Starts Campaign for Racial Reconciliation; Professor Calls Him Fascist

By Grizzard, Daily Kos – Let me start here: David Woodard, Clemson professor of political science, should be fired tomorrow. Clemson University, a place that honors segregationist Strom Thurmond, murderous lyncher Ben Tillman, and slavemaster John C. Calhoun in various ways around campus, has an ugly racial history that’s largely whitewashed to make its mostly white student and alumni base feel better. As a graduate of Clemson and a history degree holder from the university, I can attest that the university does more than just shy away from an actual discussion on the realities of its racial history. Instead, it goes so far as to dedicate buildings to Strom Thurmond, stating on its website that the building is designed to promote the “values” of Thurmond, one of the country’s most vile racists through much of the 20th century. This is the place where students threw a “Living the Dream” party in...

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Court to Police: No Immunity Just Because You’re Cops

Botched raid resulted in a $3.5 million settlement by Jackson Kuhl – On a Sunday afternoon in 2008, a tactical police team raided the Easton, Connecticut house of Ronald Terebesi searching for a small amount of personal drugs. While by day’s end the police discovered drug paraphernalia and 0.02 ounces of a substance believed to be crack cocaine, an officer also killed Terebesi’s unarmed guest, Gonzalo Guizan (pictured), by discharging his Glock sidearm six times until the weapon finally jammed. Guizan’s estate and Terebesi filed civil suits against the officers in the raid, although the estate later settled out of court for $3.5 million. The tactical team—called SWERT for Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team—was composed of police officers from six different towns. The defendants, all of whom either planned or participated in the raid, requested summary judgment based on qualified immunity, which the district court for the most part denied...

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Israel says Hamas ‘Hit Hard’ in Gaza Fighting

PM Netanyahu speaks about truce amid criticism at home that offensive has done little to rein in Palestinian group Israel has made its first official statement over the ceasefire it signed with Hamas, saying the Palestinian group that runs Gaza has been dealt a major blow and that it did not receive any of the demands it had made. In comments delivered in a prime-time address on national television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that “Hamas was hit hard,” adding that Israel “didn’t agree to accept any of Hamas’ demands” under the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal. “The ceasefire was achieved without any of the terms being given,” Netanyahu said, before reeling off key demands Hamas had made but were not accepted, including reopening the seaport and airport and removing restrictions on the movement of the people of Gaza. He said tunnels and the infrastructure Hamas had built over...

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Hiring Bias Against the Unemployed: Should There Be a Law?

by Jeffrey Stinson  – The day Debra Wolverton was laid off from her retail sales job in June 2013, she stopped by some businesses on her way home in Austin, Texas, to ask for work. She was told to apply online. She did, countless times for countless job openings. She seldom got a response. Today, Wolverton, 48, is still without full-time employment. She’s convinced her resume is often rejected by computer programs that screen out jobless applicants who are older — people employers view as too expensive — or  who have been out of work a long time. “It’s awful,” she said. “It’s all online. You don’t even get to speak to anybody.” Some cities, states and President Barack Obama have sought to help long-term unemployed people like Wolverton, who they say shouldn’t be passed over for jobs because their resumes show an employment gap. But it hasn’t been easy....

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8 Surprising Ways to Live a Longer (and Better) Life

Perhaps you are interested in expanding both the quality and quantity of your years, living a fuller, happier life for longer. The ways to go about this may surprise you by Christina Sarich – Here are 8 ways to live longer and feel better while doing it: 1. Find a Lasting Love A study by Harvard Medical School found that communities with a much higher percentage of either males or females caused the minority sex to have shorter lifespans. Sure, it’s O.K. to be single (for a certain amount of time), but not too long. Another study found that never getting married could increase risk of death over a lifetime by 32 percent. Want to live longer? You’ve got to find love! 2. Shorten Your Commute Commutes of about an hour increase stress levels and have been linked to the same negative effects as sitting too long (yes, that can shorten your life span, read on to see why). Researchers...

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Texas Conservative ‘Christian’ Seeks To Ban Books He Deems Dangerous (VIDEO)

by  Stephen D Foster Jr – A Texas preacher is continuing the effort by conservative “Christians” to ban books they don’t like from public libraries. Phillip Missick is the pastor of Kings of Saints Tabernacle in Cleveland, Texas and he thinks teens should only be allowed to read the books he wants them to read. That’s why he filed a complaint against the Austin Memorial Library and a petition signed by other “Christian” pastors demanding that fiction books about the supernatural be banned from the shelves. “This is dark,” Missick told ABC 13. “There’s a sexual element. You have creatures that aren’t human. I think it’s dangerous for our kids.” The books Missick wants banned includes the Twilight saga, Vampire Knight, and Blood Promise. The Twilight saga chronicles the love story of a teenage human girl named Bella and a vampire named Edward and their struggle to be together and...

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ACLU Sues Over Closed Blinds During Botched Lockett Execution

Lawsuit Seeks Uncensored Access to Executions, Citing First Amendment Press Freedom OKLAHOMA CITY – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and two newspapers filed a federal lawsuit today seeking to stop Oklahoma prison officials from selectively filtering what journalists can see during an execution. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of The Guardian and The Oklahoma Observer, follows the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April during which prison officials blocked witnesses’ view when the procedure did not go as planned. “The state of Oklahoma violated the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of the press to witness executions so the public can be informed about the government’s actions and hold it accountable,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Lee Rowland. “The death penalty represents the most powerful exercise of government authority. The need for public oversight is as critical at the execution stage as it is during trial.”...

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A Growing Divide Over Official-English Laws

By Jake Grovum, Stateline – A growing language divide has opened up across the country, as a sharp increase in the number of Americans who speak English as a second language — or don’t speak it at all — is driving cities and states to respond, often in radically different ways. In some places, policymakers are enacting or strengthening English-as-official-language laws, barring the translation of certain government documents into any other language. Other places are becoming de facto multilingual societies, with laws and procedures designed to make government more accessible to immigrants who don’t speak English. The result is a patchwork of policies that vary greatly from state to state, or even within states. To date, 31 states and many counties and localities have adopted English as their official languages. Oklahoma became the most recent state to do so in 2010, and many cities or counties have as well, such as Carroll...

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States Fill Federal Rights Vacuum on Immigrants

By Jake Grovum, Stateline – MINNEAPOLIS — With Congress gridlocked on immigration issues, states have pursued their own solutions, with some offering in-state tuition and financial aid to unauthorized students and others approving more spending to enforce immigration laws. “While Congress cannot seem to take action on immigration issues, states remain engaged in debating and solving immigration challenges, whether we are discussing services or enforcement,” state Sen. John Watkins, a Virginia Republican and co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ immigration task force, said in releasing a new immigration report during NCSL’s annual summit here this week. States have enacted a total of 132 immigration-related laws this year, according to the report. The number is only slightly down from last year, even though some states, including immigration hot spot Texas, held no legislative session this year. Seven states approved resolutions calling on Congress or the White House to act on a...

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‘Aggression’ Against Syria? US Drones Seen as Sign of Looming Airstrikes

Unilateral strikes by Obama administration would be “considered as aggression,’ says Syrian foreign minister by Jon Queally – Under orders from President Barack Obama, according to reports, U.S. drones are now conducting reconnaissance missions over Syria in what many interpret as the preface to airstrikes in the country.As the Associated Press reports on Tuesday: The U.S. has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the OK, U.S. officials said, a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets there. While the White House says Obama has not approved military action inside Syria, additional intelligence on the militants would likely be necessary before he could take that step. Pentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, including airstrikes. One official said the administration has a need for reliable intelligence from Syria and called the surveillance flights an important avenue for obtaining...

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Explorer says Democrats have 47% chance of holding the Senate

by David Jarman  – Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce the introduction of its Poll Explorer! The Poll Explorer is a statistical model that allows us to track public opinion in each Senate and gubernatorial race this year, and from there, predict the likely outcome of each race and the number of seats that each party will control after the election is held. This is an ongoing feature that will be available from now until the November election. We’ll be doing posts like this one, describing the current state of the election, several times a week from now until Nov. 4; however, there will also be permanent pages for all the Senate and gubernatorial data which will be updated every day, and which you can bookmark and access at any time. As the headline states, today’s version of the model shows that if 100 elections were held today,...

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Women Becoming Increasingly Involved in Gun Groups

By Lauren Loftus, Center for Public Integrity – More women than ever before own guns. Nearly 79 percent of firearms retailers reported an increase in female customers between 2011 and 2012, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. From this surge in popularity comes classes, specialized apparel, custom firearms, shooting-group memberships and conferences for women. Women have also become the sellers, the lobbyists and the business owners. Entrepreneur Carrie Lightfoot founded The Well Armed Woman in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2012 to be a resource for women shooters, by selling female-friendly merchandise, establishing educational chapters and hosting certified firearms instructor training sessions. In just two years, Lightfoot said it’s become one of the largest female gun groups in the U.S., boasting 350 chapter leaders in 43 states. “We focus on educating, equipping and empowering women shooters,” Lightfoot said of her company’s goal to introduce women to guns in a safe, supportive environment. When Lightfoot...

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Two Six Nation Members Indicted in Racketeering Comspiracy

Four members of the Two Six Nation street gang and four of their associates have been indicted for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy spanning more than 20 years, as well as murder and drug trafficking charges. “Today’s action reflects the most recent in the department’s continuing efforts to free communities within East Chicago, Gary and Chicago from the scourge of gang violence and drug dealing,” said Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Over the years, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division have partnered to use RICO and other federal charges to disrupt and dismantle violent gangs like the Imperial Gangsters, the Latin Kings and now the Two Six Nation.   These rolling prosecutions of violent gangs in this region demonstrate the department’s commitment to ensure that no gang is able to maintain a foothold in these communities.” “This is our third use of the federal...

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FBI Obtains New Audio Of Ferguson Shooting; Darren Wilson Should Be Worried (VIDEO)

by Jameson Parker – The FBI has obtained new audio allegedly recording the exact moment that Darren Wilson began shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The recording captures at least 11 gunshots, six of which we know hit Brown. Perhaps most devastatingly, it features a notable pause between the first seven and the last four shots. What made Wilson stop shooting? And more importantly, why did he start firing again? The audio was captured by a witness who happened to have a video chat open with a friend. The microphone picked up the gunshots while he was having an ordinary conversation. “He was in his apartment, talking to a friend on a video chat,” the resident’s attorney, Lopa Blumenthal, told CNN. “He heard loud noises and at the time, he didn’t even realize the import of what he was hearing until afterwards, and it just happened to have captured 12...

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Conservative Candidate Accuses Democratic Congressman Of Plotting To Behead Anti-Gay Christians (VIDEO)

by Stephen D Foster Jr – A Republican candidate for the Colorado statehouse is claiming that he was just joking when he accused a gay Democratic congressman of plotting to behead Christians. Former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt sent out an email this past weekend asserting that Colorado Rep. Jared Polis would join ISIS to behead Christians in America who oppose same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. The email was sent out in the wake of video footage of James Foley being executed by Islamic extremists. “The openly homosexual Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced a revised bill to force Christian employers and business owners to hire and promote homosexuals with ZERO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS for Christians who want to opt out. “Polis ‘wants sexual orientation and gender identity treated the same way as race, religion, sex, and national origin, when it comes to employment protections,’ claims the Advocate, under the headline “Polis trims...

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North Carolina GOP Finds Appalling New Level of Anti-democratic Treachery

By  Adam B, Daily Kos – First they try to make it harder to vote, while also manipulating the map to ensure that Democrats couldn’t cast meaningful votes. We’ve seen this playbook before. But this? This takes Republicans’ war on democracy to a new level: After passing laws imposing new conditions on abortions and elections, taking away teacher tenure and providing vouchers for private school tuition, Republican state legislators have seen those policies stymied in state and federal courtrooms. So they have passed another law, this one making those kinds of lawsuits less likely to succeed when filed in state court. Beginning in September, all constitutional challenges to laws will be heard by three-judge trial court panels appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The move takes those cases out of the hands of individual Superior Court judges and sends them to be heard in Wake County, where the panels of judges from...

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Hemp-derived Nanosheets Help Build Cheap, High-performance Supercapacitors

By Dario Borghino, Gizmag – Using waste hemp fibers as the starting material, researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have developed a high-performance electrode material for supercapacitors at one thousandth the cost of the more commonly used graphene. The advance could lead to supercapacitors that are both cheaper and able to operate under harsh environmental conditions. Despite a bad reputation, hemp is a truly remarkable plant. It can be grown on the cheap, requiring very little care even in very cold and dry environments, and has many uses, ranging from construction material to clothing, bioplastics, and even biofuel creation. In what may be the most surprising application of the lot, a team led by Prof. David Mitlin was able to build supercapacitor electrodes from the inner bark fibers of (THC-free) hemp, a waste product. Remarkably, the performance of the device was on par or better than standard graphene-based supercapacitors, even though...

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Palestinian Joy as Israel Agrees to Gaza Truce

Hamas and Israel agree long-term deal which will ease Israeli blockade of enclave after talks brokered by Egypt Thousands of Palestinians are celebrating in Gaza after Israel and Palestinian groups agreed an open-ended ceasefire to end seven weeks of fighting in Gaza. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said on Tuesday from the occupied West Bank that a formula had been accepted by all parties and that a ceasefire had gone into effect at 16.00 GMT. He hailed the agreement as a chance to “build a new nation and end the occupation”, before thanking Egypt, Qatar and the US for their roles in brokering the agreement made during indirect talks in Cairo. The Reuters and AP news agencies quoted Israeli officials as saying that the Israeli government had accepted the deal. Israeli media reported the same. Hamas’s exiled deputy leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said the agreement was a “victory for...

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Ultra-wealthy Republican Terri Lynn Land Paid Less Than 3 percent in Federal Income Taxes

By David Nir, Daily Kos – Who knew that “Terri Lynn Land” was actually an anagram of “Willard Mitt Romney”? Like her more-famous fellow Michigander, Land hails from a very wealthy family. And just like Mitt, it turns out that she also pays well below her fair share in taxes. In fact, she makes Romney’s accountants look like chumps. It turns out that Rep. Gary Peters, Land’s Democratic opponent in Michigan’s Senate race, paid an effective federal income tax rate of 18 to 19 percent over the last three years, and even Romney paid 13 percent. Land, however, paid less than 3 percent! But wait a minute. Didn’t I tell you Land was loaded? Yes, yes she is! In fact, her family’s worth at least $35 million, and she’s self-funded her campaign to the tune of $3 million so far. So how is it that she made “just” $90,000 last year and “only” half that...

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Dear Hillary: Run on progressive values and record

by Ian Reifowitz – Some people just wanna party like it’s 2008. There’s apparently some “concern” out there among advisers to Hillary Clinton—all of whom, of course, told CNN they had to remain anonymous—about Republicans attacking her candidacy (and presumably that of any Democratic nominee) as “Obama’s third term.” One of these unnamed advisers predicted that the Republican attack would unfold thusly: If you like Obama, you will love Hillary….She was in his government, she was at his side….That is, the way to go after her is four more years of the same old thing. The question they should ask her is “Tell me 10 things that you disagree with him on.” Now, we don’t know whether the Democratic nominee in 2016—whomever she or he may be—will listen to this nonsense. Either way, running away from the Obama administration would be a serious mistake, not to mention being all but...

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Everytown USA: Is the Policeman Your Friend?

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – As the unrest in Ferguson, MO, grinds on, with everyone from the Revolutionary Communist Party to the Klan, to common racist fools like Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher weighing in (permanent has-been/never-was Mr. “Plumber” wants to hold a jobs fair in Ferguson to make the protester “cockroaches” scatter; dog-whistles can be found in a bowl by the door), now is an opportune moment to step back and take stock. Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot six times by local police officer Darren Wilson. Eyewitness reports say Brown was running away and attempting to surrender after an altercation with Wilson, who ordered Brown and his friend to stop walking in the street. The police say Wilson was attacked by Brown and shot to defend himself. No one has heard from Darren Wilson himself, because he packed up his family and fled Ferguson...

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PCP Hallucinations in Ferguson

Blaming drugs for Michael Brown’s death revives an ugly stereotype by Jacob Sullum – Darren Wilson thought Michael Brown was “on something.” Or so says one of Wilson’s friends, describing the police officer’s state of mind when he shot and killed the unarmed black teenager on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. “He really thinks he was on something, because he just kept coming,” the friend, identified only as “Josie,”said during a phone call to a St. Louis radio show last week. “It was unbelievable.” Earlier that same day, Fox News commentator Jim Pinkerton made a similar suggestion. “Eyewitnesses said that Brown was charging the cops,” Pinkerton said on the channel’s Happening Now show. “We’ll know more with a blood test. If he was high on some drug, angel dust or PCP or something…it’s entirely possible you could take a lot more than six bullets and keep charging.” In other words, if Brown was high on...

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Snowden Documents Reveal NSA’s ‘Own Secret Google’

Agency has been sharing more than 850 billion telecom records on foreigners and U.S. citizens with law enforcement, documents reveal by Nadia Prupis – The National Security Agency has for years been giving hundreds of billions of telecommunications records about foreigners and U.S. citizens to dozens of government bureaus, the Intercept reported on Monday. Documents linked to Edward Snowden’s leak last year, obtained by the Intercept, show the NSA shared and continues to share more than 850 billion records of emails, cell phone calls and locations, internet chats, and other metadata sent and received by people throughout the world — who have not been accused of any wrongdoing — by using a “Google-like” search engine called ICREACH, which was built specifically for the agency. According to a 2010 CIA memo on the program, which agency colleagues “enthusiastically welcome,” over 1,000 analysts from 23 government agencies had access to the NSA’s...

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Alabama Community Alleges Race Bias Over Toxic Landfill Site

Coal ash from earlier environmental disaster is causing health concerns for poor African-American residents   By Peter Moskowitz , Al Jazeera – Five-and-a-half years have passed since an earthen dam holding toxic coal ash from a coal plant failed in Harriman, Tenn., spilling more than a billion gallons of the ash into rivers and forests, and destroying several homes. The TVA Kingston Fossil Plant disaster was widely considered one of the worst in U.S. history, or at least one of the biggest by volume. And it’s still causing headaches, hundreds of miles away. Last week, Environmental Protection Agency investigators traveled to Uniontown, Ala., to interview residents and activists who say a local landfill that accepted much of the Tennessee coal ash is polluting air and water sources nearby, causing people who live in the area to become sick. The residents of the poor, predominantly black area say they are being unfairly burdened...

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Davis Releases Second Attack Ad, On Cancer Agency

by Jay Root, The Texas Tribune – Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis is launching a second TV attack ad in the Texas governor’s race, this time criticizing Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott for his ties to companies that got cancer research grants and the role his office played in overseeing the awards. The ad quotes a cancer survivor who says Abbott was “charged with overseeing the state cancer research fund’’ while faulting him for not preventing corruption in the awards process. “He let his wealthiest donors take tens of millions in taxpayer dollars without proper oversight,” the man in the ad says. The Abbott campaign intercepted the ad on YouTube before it aired on TV and blasted the Davis campaign Friday evening for running a “deceptive” attack out of desperation. The Davis campaign confirmed the ad would begin running Saturday. Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch noted recent reports indicating that a prosecutor...

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UNICEF: Nearly 500 Children Have Died in Gaza in Two Months From Airstrikes

by  JOE FLETCHER – According to a report from UNICEF over 469 children in Gaza have been killed by airstrikes from Israel in the most recent outbreak of violence as of August, 21st. More than 2,900  have sustained injuries. Over 50,000 children are now homeless. UNICEF has in Gaza since the early 1990’s monitoring the situation there and helping to provide desperately needed emergency aid. The effects of the attacks on Gaza have had a devastating impact on the children of Gaza – the ones still lucky enough to be alive that is. “The impact is has truly been vast, both at a very physical level, in terms of casualties, injuries, the infrastructure that’s been damaged, but also importantly, emotionally and psychologically in terms of the destabilizing impact that not knowing, not truly feeling like there is anywhere safe place to go in Gaza,” Pernilla Ironside, Chief of the UN Children’s Fund...

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French president accepts PM’s resignation

Francois Hollande asks Manuel Valls to form new government after economy minister questions policy France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has resigned from his post, a day after a much-criticised show of insubordination by the country’s economy minister. In a statement issued on Monday, President Francois Hollande immediately asked Valls to form a new government by Tuesday in line with the “direction he has defined for our country”. The new cabinet will be announced on Tuesday and there was no immediate word on who would stay and who would go. On Sunday, leftist Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg called for new economic policies and questioned what he called Germany’s “obsession” with budgetary rigour. “A major change in our economy policy,” was what Montebourg had said was needed from the president and prime minister. With those words, Montebourg drew the anger of the Socialist leadership, which said Montebourg’s job was to support the government, not...

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On This Day, Aug. 26, 1920 – Women Finally Get the Right to Vote

1920 – The 19th amendment to the Constitution went into effect. The amendment prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in the voting booth. After years of fighting for equality, women were guaranteed the right to vote. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone were important figures in the women’s rights movement. Suffragettes, or women who campaigned for the right to vote, including Lucy Stone, fought to be protected under the 15th Amendment. Ratified in 1870, the 15th Amendment states that, “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” “There are two great oceans; in one is the black man and in the other is the woman … I will be thankful in my soul if anybody can get out of the terrible pit,” Stone said. In the end, a woman’s right to vote was not...

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