‘Unconstitutional… Unconscionable’: Texas Executes Intellectually Disabled Man

Despite Eighth Amendment protections and US Supreme Court rulings, state puts Robert Ladd to death by Nadia Prupis – Texas executed an intellectually disabled man on Thursday, violating the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits putting mentally impaired prisoners to death as cruel and unusual punishment. Robert Ladd, 57, was killed by lethal injection Thursday evening for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner. The procedure lasted 27 minutes. In any other state, Ladd would have been considered ineligible for the death penalty due to his IQ of 67, according to the ACLU. Ladd’s death highlights Texas’s continued thwarting of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings, which not only protect the mentally challenged from execution, but also require that death penalty states use medically scientific definitions of those disabilities, rather than imposing their own standards. One of those rulings, Hall v. Florida, came in 2014. Despite those rulings, Texas is still using its own...

Read More...


The American Sniper Was No Hero

Despite what some people think, hero is not a synonym for competent government-hired killer by Sheldon Richman – If Clint Eastwood’s record-breaking movie, American Sniper, launches a frank public conversation about war and heroism, the great director will have performed a badly needed service for the country and the world. This is neither a movie review nor a review of the late Chris Kyle’s autobiographical book on which the movie is based. My interest is in the popular evaluation of Kyle, America’s most prolific sniper, a title he earned through four tours in Iraq. Let’s recall some facts, which perhaps Eastwood thought were too obvious to need mention: Kyle was part of an invasion force: Americans went to Iraq. Iraq did not invade America or attack Americans. Dictator Saddam Hussein never even threatened to attack Americans. Contrary to what the George W. Bush administration suggested, Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on Sept....

Read More...


MIGHTY MOUSE!

The Mouse-Box fits a whole PC inside a mouse By David Nield, Gizmag – We’ve seen plenty of compact PCs in the past, but few as tiny as the Mouse-Box. This new invention from a team of Polish engineers packs a fully-functioning computer into a mouse that you can hold in your hand. All you need to add is a screen and a keyboard and you’re ready to start work, get online or launch a presentation. The Mouse-Box is currently at the prototype stage and its makers are looking for funding to bring it to production. Its level of portability is a huge selling point, because if you’re going somewhere with a monitor or projector available, then all you need is a pocket rather than a laptop bag. Inside the mouse you get a 1.4GHz dual-core ARM CPU, 128GB of flash storage, two USB 3.0 ports, a micro-HDMI output...

Read More...


“The GOP’s Long Love Affair With Schmucks”

From Sarah Palin to Donald Trump to Ben Carson, Republicans Just Can’t Get Enough of obviously unqualified presidential contenders by Nick Gillespie – As the silly season of Election 2016 starts cranking up, nothing is sillier and more pathetic than the quadrennial dance of Republicans with manifestly unqualified candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination. In the past, folks such as Herman Cain, whose resume boasts management stints at two of the rottenest fast-food chains world history, and Alan Keyes, a junior varsity ambassador to the very United Nations that conservative Republicans love to hate, have soaked up the spotlight in ways that boggle the mind. Does anyone else remember the brief 2004 boomlet around Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose year in office as California’s governor hadn’t yet revealed what an awful, awful leader he was? At the time, his only qualification for president was threatening to shove Arianna Huffington’s head in a...

Read More...


State Officials Trying To Gut Obamacare Get Caught Making False Claims To The Supreme Court

by IAN MILLHISER – The Republican attorneys general of six states, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, all signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to gut the Affordable Care Act. Yet one of the central claims in this brief — a claim that cuts to the heart of whether the Supreme Court should shred much of Obamacare or leave it intact — is at odds with a pile of evidence to the contrary. This evidence includes explicitly contradictory statements from the Republican governors of several states, including three of the states represented by these six attorneys general. And the six attorneys general were unable to muster any contrary evidence that supports their central claim. This weakness in their case is unlikely to be unnoticed by the justices, however, as a brief filed Wednesday by a much larger group of state officials rounds up much of the...

Read More...


Syriza’s Victory in Greece: Hold the Champagne

by Michael Nevradakis, Truthout | News Analysis –   It was October 1981 when “hope” and “change” first filled the air in Greece. The brash young socialist leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), Andreas Papandreou, was about to earn a historic electoral victory. His rhetoric was radical, calling for a Greek departure from the European Union and NATO. This rhetoric elevated Papandreou to achieve an electoral rout of the conservatives. His victory was marked as “left,” with Time featuring Papandreou on its cover accompanied by the headline “Greece Swings Left.” However, in the years that followed, most of the radical promises were broken, and Greece remained in the EU and NATO. Flash forward to January 25, 2015, the day that young Alexis Tsipras and the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) emerged victorious in the Greek parliamentary elections. Across Greece, Europe, and the world, celebrations erupted. Global media...

Read More...


Bibi Speech May Cost Him Election – Opposition Building Against ‘Republican Senator From Israel’

by NATHANIEL DOWNES – Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech before the US Congress may cost him his position as Prime Minister, it turns out. For the opposition Labor-Hatnuah alliance, called the “Zionist Camp,” the speech could not have been better timed. The coalition, running in opposition to Netanyahu’s Likud Party, has jumped on the plan as another example of the embattled Israeli leader being, as some now call him, “the Republican Senator from the great State of Israel.” In the latest polls, we find Netanyahu’s Lukid party coming in solidly behind Zionist Camp, with the other parties all gathering small pieces of the seats left over for Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Of note, the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lukid’s current partner in the ruling coalition, has lost so many seats in polling that it only barely qualified to even run a ticket, meaning that even if Lukid holds on to each seat...

Read More...


Congress Reintroduces Bipartisan Asset Forfeiture Reform Legislation

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – Tuesday, both houses of Congress reintroduced S 255, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, a bipartisan bill that would end the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, which incentivizes state and local law enforcement to seize private property without charging anyone with a crime in a process called civil asset forfeiture. Reintroduction of the FAIR Act comes only days after Attorney General Eric Holder announced an end to some kinds of forfeiture. Unfortunately, while Holder’s announcement is a step in the right direction, it only addresses about 14% of the total amount of seizures in question. An exception to the reforms announced on January 16th allows state and local officers to exercise civil asset forfeiture practices if they’re involved in a multijurisdictional task force that includes federal enforcement, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency. Because federal agencies are so frequently involved in...

Read More...


Bill Would Allow Texas Teachers To Kill Students

By CARIMAH TOWNES, ThinkProgress – People who are concerned about the use of excessive force by law enforcement may have to deal with another fatal can of worms. If Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn (R) gets his way, teachers will have the right to use deadly force against students in Texas classrooms, in the near future. The Lone Star State already permits teachers to have firearms in the classroom, but H.B. 868, also known as the Teacher’s Protection Act, would authorize instructors to use “force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator.” Instructors would also have the right to use deadly force “in defense of property of the school that employs the educator.” Moreover, civil immunity would be granted to those who use deadly force,...

Read More...


How King v. Burwell Threatens The Lives Of Millions Of Children

by IAN MILLHISER – King v. Burwell, the latest Supreme Court case attacking the Affordable Care Act, is largely perceived as a threat to people who purchased insurance through the law’s health exchanges. Should the plaintiffs succeed, at least 8 million people with plans purchased through such an exchange are projected to become uninsured — many of whom have life-threatening conditions. In reality, however, King presents an even bigger threat to American lives. Should the Supreme Court embrace the plaintiffs’ theory in King, up to 5 million children who had insurance long before Obamacare became law would also lose their insurance. That’s 13 million newly uninsured people, many of them children. The problem arises from the specific words that the King plaintiffs point to in the text of the Affordable Care Act to claim that much of the law should be defunded. These five words — “Exchange established by the State”...

Read More...


‘Turning Back on American People,’ US Senate Votes to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline

‘Thankfully, this vote is a farce—because Keystone XL is a decision for President Obama, not the Climate Denial Congress.’ by Deirdre Fulton – Marking a major—and likely symbolic—victory for Republicans on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in a 62-36 vote that will not be sufficient to override President Barack Obama’s expected veto. The nine Democrats who voted to approve Keystone were Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mo.), and Mark Warner (Va.). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is traveling, missed the vote, as did Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is recovering from eye surgery. All other Republicans voted in favor of the $8 billion project that Obama has vowed to strike down. “The senators who voted in favor of the...

Read More...


Trans Man Rejected By His Catholic Church, So Pope Francis Invites Him To The Vatican For A Hug (VIDEO)

by  KERRY-ANNE – When transgender man Diego Neria Lejárraga was called the “devil’s daughter” by his local Catholic priest and isolated from the community, he decided to write to Pope Francis on the matter.  He did not expect what came next. The 48-year-old explained the remarkable story to Spanish magazine Hoy, describing how he was born a woman but felt that “my jail was my own body… because it absolutely didn’t correspond with how I felt in my soul.” Although raised a Catholic, he found the Church was unwilling to accept him – so when he heard reports of Pope Francis’s efforts to reach out to those marginalized by some of the Church’s traditional views, he decided to write the Pontiff a letter. Neria didn’t get ignored or receive some automated response from the Vatican.  He got through to the Pope direct. First, the Pope responded first with a personal...

Read More...


10 Spectacular Hikes to Consider for Your Next Outdoor Adventure

The benefits of hiking are numerous. It’s an inexpensive activity with a relatively low impact that provides exercise and enjoyment. Research shows that spending time in nature improves mental health and there many reasons why you feel so good in nature. Whether you’re an avid hiker always looking for the next great trail to hike or an occasional trekker seeking tips on where to go, this list of the top 10 national park hikes is sure to help you plan your next great adventure. 10. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah Photo credit: Shutterstock Hikers on the Queens Garden Trail experience the beauty of southwestern Utah’s multi-colored rock formations known as hoodoos. You can take in these stunning hoodoos — the product of erosion — as you descend into the canyon. The trail is a moderate day hike and it’s three miles round trip. 9. Acadia National Park, Maine Photo credit: Shutterstock The Sargent Mountain Loop will...

Read More...


The Strange Firing Of One Of The Country’s Most Inflammatory Anti-LGBT Spokespeople

by ZACK FORD – One of the most vocal opponents of LGBT equality, Bryan Fischer, is apparently no longer a spokesman, nor the “Director of Issues Analysis,” for the American Family Association (AFA), an anti-LGBT hate group. Despite being related to comments Fischer has been making on his radio show for years, the firing seems to serve the purpose of providing political cover to some 60 members of the Republican National Committee who will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel on AFA’s bill, as first reported by Rachel Maddow Wednesday night. AFA President Tim Wildmon confirmed the sudden firing to MSNBC, describing Fischer now as “just a talk show host” who is no longer associated with the organization. He was apparently fired specifically over comments he has made over the years suggesting the Nazi Party was started by gay people, that Adolf Hitler recruited gays into his Army for their...

Read More...


Count Me Among the ‘Low-life Scum,’ Senator McCain

by Meteor Blades – Eric Bradner of CNN reports: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain had harsh words for protesters who shouted criticism at 91-year-old Henry Kissinger at a hearing Thursday.”Get out of here, you low-life scum,” the Arizona Republican told the protesters. “I’ve been a member of this committee for many years and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place,” McCain said. Riiiiiiiight, Senator. You know what’s disgraceful, outrageous and despicable? The fact that this unpunished and unrepentant war criminal gets to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee as an elder statesman (not to mention serve as emeritus adviser to John Kerry and Hillary Clinton). Sickening. Infuriating. Maddening. Here’s Christopher Hitchens in 2010: Henry Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized, and excluded. No...

Read More...


Fox Host Megyn Kelly Horrifies Mike Huckabee By Telling Him About Other Things Women Do Besides Swearing (VIDEO)

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – Former Fox host and Republican presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee got more than he bargained for during an interview with Megyn Kelly on Wednesday. The former Arkansas governor appeared on the program to discuss recent comments he made on right-wing radio. Huckabee openly whined about women who cuss and called them “trashy.” “This would be considered totally inappropriate to say these things in front of a woman. And for a woman to say them in a professional setting — we would only assume that this is a very — as we would say in the South, that’s just trashy!” Many thought Huckabee was referring to his female colleagues on Fox. That includes Megyn Kelly, who believed Huckabee was directly referring to her because she accidentally called him “Fuckabee” on the air during a previous interview with him. “Megyn, you’re the only one who’s used that...

Read More...


Two Gay ‘Tech Bears’ Bought JebBushForPresident.Com

by WENDY GITTLESON – Remember when LGBT columnist and activist Dan Savage redefined Rick Santorum’s name to mean, let’s just say, something that might compel a person to change the sheets?  Well, that Google campaign is over, but that hasn’t stopped other activists from turning the Internet on its head in protest of other less than web savvy candidates. Two men who call themselves a “bear couple” have taken a polite page from Savage’s playbook. They bought the domain JebBushForPresident.com, just in case he decides to run. CJ Phillips and Charlie Rainwater of Oregon bought the domain in 2008. Their goal was to help bring about same-sex marriage. “Early tentative plans were to essentially blog about how we felt about various legislation happening nationally and worldwide,” Phillips explained. “For example, at the time Texas legislature was either planning to pass or had already passed a bill that made the legal documents...

Read More...


Cops Shutdown High School Kids Trying to Earn Money by Shoveling Snow

By Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project– Bridgewater, NJ — In America, “Land of Opportunity,” you are free to pursue your dreams of financial freedom, provided you have filled out the proper form and been extorted by the proper bureaucrat. Two teenage boys from Bridgewater, New Jersey are getting a hard does of this statism after their pursuance of financial freedom landed them in hot water with the fuzz. Earlier this week, Matt Molinari and his friend Eric Schnepf, both seniors in high school, were going door-to-door advertising their snow shoveling services in advance of the storm. School was out, and instead of sitting inside and playing X-Box, these two young entrepreneurs felt the fire of enterprise and decided to turn their down time into an actual dime. However, Molinari and Schnepf apparently didn’t realize that in order to make a dime you have to pay a quarter — to the state. When...

Read More...


Indiana’s Governor Is Introducing A State-Run News Service To Compete With Regular Media

by RIKA CHRISTENSEN – Indiana Governor Mike Pence is starting up his own state-run news service. Called Just IN, this news service will offer pre-written stories to various news outlets across Indiana, according to Talking Points Memo. It will also offer breaking news about the administration. Pence plans to launch Just IN next month. The Indianapolis Star obtained documents on the state-run news service, which say that state press secretaries will write up the stories, and Bill McCleery, a former Star reporter, will oversee the whole thing. The Star posted some information from one of the question-and-answer sheets circulated by Pence’s office, which said: “At times, Just IN will break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion.” This state-run news service will receive funding from taxpayers, but the Star hasn’t found out...

Read More...


Ben Carson Says Congress Should Remove Pro-Equality Judges, Which Is Unconstitutional

by SCOTT KEYES – Federal judges had better make sure that their future rulings don’t conflict with the policy preferences of a President Ben Carson. Otherwise, despite a lifetime appointment, they might quickly find themselves out of a job. During an interview last week with conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace, Carson, who is considering running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, discussed the wave of recent rulings by federal courts striking down same-sex marriage bans. He argued that statewide ballot initiative results should be the final word, saying it was “unconstitutional” that judges have ruled in favor of equality despite these votes. Carson continued that, when federal judges make rulings like this, “our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them.” DEACE: Do our rights really come from God? Or do they come from the mob, do they come from the state? CARSON: I think you’re...

Read More...