The War on Women Is A ‘Lie,’ And Other Anti-Women Assertions At The Annual Conservative Convention

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – As the Republican party struggles to rebrand itself to win back women voters, HP executive and rumored presidential candidate Carly Fiorina told attendees this week that the concept of a Republican “war on women” is “a lie.” “Women are not single issue voters, and we’re not a special interest group,” she said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “No one would expect that all men agree or care about only one issue, but somehow Democrats think all women do or should.” The “one issue” she referred to was reproductive rights, and even as she argued this was not an important topic for women voters, she called on Republicans to pass further restrictions on access to health care, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and a ban on taxpayer subsidies to help low-income women access abortion. She also called for banning abortions...

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Rev. Billy Graham’s Demon Spawn Tells Fox News Muslims Have ‘Infiltrated The White House’ (VIDEO)

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – In a bid to scare Americans without showing any evidence to prove his claims whatsoever, the Reverend Franklin Graham insisted that the White House has been “infiltrated” by Muslims during an interview on Fox News. The demon spawn of Billy Graham appeared as a guest on lying liar Bill O’Reilly’s program on Thursday night and promptly channeled witch hunter Joe McCarthy, who as you’ll recall, wildly claimed during the 1950s that communists had infiltrated the federal government. Graham tried the exact same tactic, only this time, the infiltrators are Muslims instead of communists. In a segment discussing the “persecution of Christians” by ISIS, O’Reilly began by asking Graham why the world is reluctant to enter a holy war in the Middle East to stop the terrorist organization. Graham answered first by delivering a quick sales-pitch to Muslims in an effort to convert them to...

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Majority of Americans Agree Fighting Climate Change a ‘Moral Obligation

New poll shows majority of Americans believe human activity causes rising greenhouse gases and that people are ethically responsible to address it by Nadia Prupis – A majority of Americans believe they are “morally obligated” to fight climate change, a new poll by Reuters/IPSOS has found. Of the 2,827 people surveyed in the poll, 66 percent said world leaders are ethically bound to reduce carbon emissions, while 72 percent believed that responsibility lay with themselves as well. In addition, 64 percent believe that rising greenhouse gases, which drive climate change, are caused by human activity. The poll was conducted to parse the impact of moral language in the climate debate and the results suggest that an ethics-based appeal to address environmental issues may be the key to shifting the debate on the topic. “When climate change is viewed through a moral lens it has broader appeal,” Eric Sapp, executive director of...

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Congress Manages To Pass Bill That Funds DHS…For A Whole Week

by RIKA CHRISTENSEN – Congress came partway out of its dysfunctional state for a moment late Friday evening, as they actually managed to pass a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill isn’t a full funding bill, but rather, a temporary, continuing resolution that will run through…next Friday. Yes, you read that right. They’re funding DHS for one whole week. The Senate cleared the measure without even a roll call, according Yahoo! News, and the House passed it 357-60, amid anger from conservative Republicans that it did nothing to block Obama’s immigration orders. According to the National Journal, it was actually Democrats who saved the day with this. Nearly every House Democrat voted with the grown-up Republicans who favored passing anything that would keep DHS functioning past midnight Friday. This happened just after the House utterly failed to pass a three-week funding measure. Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) sent...

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Hundreds of Polish Farmers Block Roads in Protest of Monsanto’s GMO Crops

By CHRISTINA SARICH, Natural Society – More than 150 farmers blocked roadways and held numerous demonstrations in order to bring attention to the important issue of food sovereignty in Poland. Their focus is a ban on GMOs and a restoration of small-farmer’s rights after decades of oppressive health and safety regulations which take rights away from small farms and give them to mono-cropping, poisoning Big Ag mega-companies. The farmers have been stalwart – refusing to call off their demonstrations until their demands are met. Rallies and demonstrations have littered the country – in over 50 locations. Hundreds are picketing government offices in addition to the road blockades. In the largest organized farmer’s protest the country has likely ever seen, the farmers are demanding that legislators protect the small farmer from exploitation by monopolizing companies and refuse the sell off of their country’s land to these behemoths. As the farmers point...

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Greenpeace International Head Target of Surveillance Request Ahead of G20 Summit

Leaked documents revealed by Al Jazeera and the Guardian show Kumi Naidoo seen as ‘possible security threat’ by Andrea Germanos – The head of Greenpeace International was the target of a surveillance request ahead of the 2010 G20 Summit in Seoul, according to leaked documents revealed by Al Jazeera and the Guardian. Months ahead of the meet, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) requested from South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) “any possible security threat against the president of South Africa during the G20 summit,” and asked for a “specific security assessment” on Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo, as well as two other South African nationals who had been jailed in Pakistan in 2004. Al Jazeera reports that these were just three of “a torrent” of requests to the SSA “for information on ‘rogue NGOs,’ politicians and exiled groups from intelligence agencies around the world—many of them declined as inappropriate by the South Africans.”...

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Uninsured, Bigoted Anti-Obamacare Sheriff Now Begging For Money To Pay Medical Bills

by VALERIE BEAUMONT – So-called “Constitutional Sheriff” Richard Mack, a vocal opponent of Obamacare who revealed that Bundy Ranch supporters were planning to use women as human shields to win the Right’s propaganda campaign surrounding the seditionist mob’s armed standoff with law enforcement, is ironically struggling to pay medical bills that he and his wife incurred after they became seriously ill. Mack and his wife do not have health insurance, and their son has started a GoFundMe campaign to ask family, friends, and complete strangers to pay their medical bills for them. “Because they are self-employed, they have no medical insurance and are in desperate need of our assistance, “Mack’s personal website explains. Dawn Mack was hospitalized in November with “serious medical issues,” the post explains. In January 2015, Sheriff Mack suffered a heart attack that, according to the GoFundMe has left him with “ongoing” issues. “Richard now needs some very special medical...

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New Beehive Extracts Honey Without Disturbing the Bees

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – Beeekeeping can be quite difficult, but thanks to a new invention – it just got a lot easier. Stuart and Cedar Anderson, a father-and-son developed a tap system which allows the honey to be harvested without actually disturbing the bees. The Flow Hive not only reduces bee stress, but also eliminates one of the most laborious and unpleasant activities connected to beekeeping. It collects honey from a beehive with a novel spigot system that taps into specially designed honeycomb frames. Traditionally, this was done by removing the frames from the beehive, then opening them with hot knives and loading it into a centrifugal machine. Here’s how the Andersons explain their invention: “The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a...

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Rick Perry Takes Blaming Obama For Stuff To A Ridiculous New Low

by NICOLE FLATOW – Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) blamed the largest chemical weapons mass killing in more than a decade on what he described as lax security at the U.S. Southern border, in remarks before a conservative audience Friday. Perry told attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that “no one should be surprised” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s so-called “red line” when he deployed chemical weapons because Assad “knows” Obama hasn’t secured the U.S.-Mexico border: Here’s the simple truth about our foreign policy. Our allies doubt us and our adversaries are all too willing to test us. No one should be surprised. No one should be surprised that dictators like Assad would cross the President’s red line because he knows the President won’t even defend the line that separates our nation from Mexico. Perry proceeded to say that “any conversation about comprehensive immigration reform must...

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The Supreme Court’s About To Hear A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse

by IAN MILLHISER – After a GOP-led attempt to impeach one of Arizona’s chief legislative map drawers failed — former Gov. Jan Brewer (R) complained that the state’s redistricting commission tried to “elevate ‘competitiveness’ over other goals” — the Republican-controlled legislature has turned to one of the GOP’s most powerful allies: the Supreme Court of the United States. This fight between Arizona Republicans and the state’s redistricting commission is now before the Court in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, a case the justices will hear on Monday. The GOP-controlled state legislature challenges a 2000 ballot initiative that empowers a redistricting commission — and not the state legislature itself — to draw Arizona’s congressional maps. This lawsuit follows another attack on the commission by state lawmakers and Brewer. In 2011, Brewer called a special session of the legislature to impeach commission chair Colleen Mathis. Although the state senate...

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Google Wants To Help You Buy Solar Panels For Your House. Seriously

by RYAN KORONOWSKI – If you to want to install solar panels on your roof but haven’t yet because it’s too expensive, Google really wants to help. The search giant, valued at $370 billion, is once again boosting its investment in SolarCity’s residential solar power model by $300 million, both companies announced Thursday. Combined with a new financing structure from SolarCity, the companies say this will result in a new fund worth $750 million to help install distributed rooftop solar on homes across the country. That’s the largest investment in such a fund ever, according to SolarCity. It means “roughly 25,000″ new solar households and about 500 megawatts of new capacity, SolarCity spokesperson Jonathan Bass said in an interview. “Whenever you have a company of Google’s stature get involved it’s significant,” Bass said. At the end of 2014, SolarCity had 190,000 customers and one gigawatt of deployed production, according to its...

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GOP Hopeful Slams Hillary For Clinton Foundation, Forgets To Mention Her Own Extensive Involvement

By KAY STEIGER, Think Progress – Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina had some harsh words for Hillary Clinton and her family’s foundation for allegations that it has accepted money from foreign governments at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. “Mrs. Clinton, name an accomplishment. And in the meantime, please explain why we should accept that the millions and millions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Global Initiative from foreign governments do not represent a conflict of interest,” Fiorina said at the event in the D.C. area, referring to a report published by the Washington Post on Wednesday evening. The report found that the Clinton Foundation had accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments for charitable causes while Secretary Clinton was at the State Department and such donations violate the State Department’s ethics agreement. “I will say this, if Hillary Clinton had to face me on a debate stage,...

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6 Facts About Black Americans for Black History Month

by JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD – Since 1976, Black History Month has been celebrated every February to commemorate the accomplishments of black Americans throughout history. In 2013, there were more than 38 million black Americans, a 74% increase since 1970, and the population is projected to grow to more than 55 million by 2060. Over the past nearly 40 years, blacks have made progress on several fronts, including educational attainment and voting rates, but large gaps by race persist in areas such as wealth and poverty measures. Here are some facts about black Americans: 1 High school dropout rates have declined faster among blacks ages 18 to 24 than the national average.Among blacks, the rate dropped from 24% in 1976 to 8% in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Among all Americans, the rate also decreased, from 16% to 7% over this time period. At the same...

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Gaza Rebuild Effort Could Take 100 Years: Oxfam

‘Only an end to the blockade of Gaza will ensure that people can rebuild their lives.’ —Catherine Essoyan, Oxfam by Andrea Germanos – Despair and destruction continue to envelop the blockaded Gaza strip, where the rebuilding of vital structures could take up to a century, Oxfam International has warned. The organization’s statement comes six months after a ceasefire agreement ended Israel’s 50-day assault on Gaza, which left over 2,100 Palestinians dead, decimated thousands of structures, and weakened already damaged infrastructure systems. Oxfam is one of 30 international aid agencies that operate in Gaza, including the Norwegian Refugee Council and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), to issue a joint statement Thursday expressing alarm at the slow pace of reconstruction and worsening living conditions for Gaza’s residents. Among the families hit by the destruction this summer was that of Abdel Momen Abu Hujair, who farms in Johr El-Diek. His wife, Um...

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Marco Rubio Tries To Lecture Obama On ISIS, Commits Epic Error

By IGOR VOLSKY, Think Progress – Potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) inexplicably told a conservative audience on Friday that President Barack Obama lacked a military strategy to confront ISIS because he feared upsetting Iran, a country that has actually committed itself to defeating the terrorist group. Speaking before the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, Rubio told radio and TV host Sean Hannity that “if we wanted to defeat them militarily, we could do it. doesn’t want to upset Iran.” Referring to the United States’ ongoing negotiations with Iran to contain that country’s nuclear program, Rubio continued, “In mind, this deal with Iran is going to be the Obamacare of the second term, and he doesn’t want them sending military to the region because they think the region belongs to them.” There’s just one problem: Iran has been fighting ISIS just like the United...

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Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov Murdered in Moscow

Former deputy prime minister shot numerous times in attack near Kremlin By Al Jazeera Staff Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow on Friday, government officials have confirmed. The former deputy prime minister was killed by an unidentified attacker close to the Kremlin, according to reports. He was shot numerous times, the Russian government told Interfax news agency in a statement. Nemtsov, 55, was a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, assailing the government’s inefficiency, rampant corruption and the Kremlin’s policy on Ukraine, which has strained Russia-West ties to a degree unseen since Cold War times. His death comes just a day before a planned protest against Putin’s rule. Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed the death, saying it had opened a criminal probe. “According to preliminary information, an unidentified person shot at Boris Nemtsov no fewer than seven to eight times from a car as he was walking along...

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Damning Report Reveals Canada’s Indifference Toward Indigenous Women

‘How many Indigenous women and girls would have been found or would still be alive if governments had acted on more of these recommendations?’ by Deirdre Fulton – Over the course of two decades, dozens of human rights groups, First Nations advocates, and women’s organizations have issued more than 700 recommendations on how to stem the Canadian crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls. But an “alarming” study (pdf) released Thursday shows that governments in Canada have repeatedly ignored those recommendations, lending credence to the claim that federal and provincial officials are dismissive of the risks Indigenous women face today. Indigenous women are three times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women reviewed 58 reports dealing with aspects of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, including government studies, reports...

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On Stage at CPAC, Chris Christie is Grilled While Ted Cruz is Pitched Softballs

Two very different sessions for two very different GOP politicians by Peter Suderman – NATIONAL HARBOR, M.D.—Two very different GOP presidential hopefuls sat for two very different question and answer sessions in the 1 p.m. hour at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington, D.C., this afternoon. Up first was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was given a friendly but pointed grilling by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. Ingraham started out by positioning Christie as a CPAC outsider, noting that he is not a regular on the conservative talk show circuit. At CPAC, this is the equivalent of raising an eyebrow and saying, “So, what are you doing here?” Ingraham’s questions continued in this vein, which was understandable. The average CPAC attendee is skeptical of Christie, who has not always gone out of his way to cozy up to the conservative base. Ingraham’s questions reflected this sense of...

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Dem Slams Climate Denying Colleague: You Can Believe Experts Or ‘Senator With Snowball’ (VIDEO)

by JAMESON PARKER – Just after Republican Senator Jim Inhofe packed all his idiocy into a tiny snowball and (literally) threw it at his colleague on the Senate floor, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse took the opportunity to brutally take down the stunt with a series of rhetorical questions that all center around the basic premise: “Who are you going to believe, people who know what they are talking about, or a politician with a snowball?” After some formalities, Whitehouse couldn’t help but bring up Inhofe’s snowball sideshow by asking people (but especially Inhofe’s ilk) to visit the Earth Now app for mobile devices that uses climate data from NASA to show the most up-to-date information on the Earth’s temperature, climate, and weather patterns. “And if you go to Earth Now it’s actually quite easy to load, and you can see how that polar vortex measurably brings the cold air down to New...

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US Effort to Crack Down on Terrorism Funding is Choking Humanitarian Lifeline: NGOs

New report outlines devastating blow in Somalia from remittances cutoff by Andrea Germanos – In the name of cracking down on terrorism funding, the U.S. imposed new regulations affecting banks that handle money transfers to Somalia. But that effort has dealt a devastating blow to ordinary people in the Horn of Africa country, a trio of nonprofit organizations has charged, as U.S. banks have stopped operating with Somali money transfer operators (MTOs), effectively severing a vital lifeline that funded the most basic necessities. In their new report, Hanging by a Thread: The ongoing threat to Somalia’s remittance lifeline, Oxfam, Adeso and Global Center on Cooperative Security outline the importance of the $1.3 billion in annual remittances the country receives. Somalia, the report states, “does not have a functioning commercial banking system,” and 40 percent of the population relies on these money transfers to meet their basic needs. “This is not just...

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Kaiser Doubles Down on Investments in Renewables to Reduce Impacts of Climate Change

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Saying that it was “concerned about climate change and its threat to human health,” major health care provider Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday that it’s doubling down on its commitment to renewable energy. The Oakland-based company, which runs hospitals and clinics across the country, detailed plans to purchase enough renewable energy to provide for half its energy needs in California and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions nationally by 30 percent. “Climate change isn’t a distant threat,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s environmental stewardship officer. “The health impacts of a changing climate can be felt today in the form of increasing rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments, spread of infectious diseases, heat stress and injuries from severe weather events. By addressing climate change for the future, we are improving the health of communities today.” Kaiser committed to supporting three major projects that will come online in 2016 and...

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Nestlé to Dump Artificial Colors, Flavors in U.S. Candy, Something It Did in Europe Years Ago

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – They still won’t be health foods, but Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has announced it will remove artificial coloring and flavoring from all its candy products sold in the U.S. It will be phasing them out throughout the year and plans to have removed them all by the end of 2015. The company said they will start arriving in stores by the middle of the year and will be identified by the words “No artificial flavors or colors” on the packaging. The move will affect 10 brands and more than 250 products including legacy candies like Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Oh Henry!, Sno-Caps and Raisinets, which date back to the 1920s. “We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president for USA Confections & Snacks. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first...

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Portland to Generate Electricity Within its own Water Pipes

By Ben Coxworth, Gizmag – There’s a lot of water constantly moving through the municipal pipelines of most major cities. While the water itself is already destined for various uses, why not harness its flow to produce hydroelectric power? Well, that’s exactly what Lucid Energy’s LucidPipe Power System does, and Portland, Oregon has just become the latest city to adopt it. LucidPipe simply replaces a stretch of existing gravity-fed conventional pipeline, that’s used for transporting potable water. As the water flows through, it spins four 42-inch (107-cm) turbines, each one of which is hooked up to a generator on the outside of the pipe. The presence of the turbines reportedly doesn’t slow the water’s flow rate significantly, so there’s virtually no impact on pipeline efficiency. The 200-kW Portland system was privately financed by Harbourton Alternative Energy, and its installation was completed late last December. It’s now undergoing reliability and...

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Watch John Boehner Respond To Question On Looming ‘Clean DHS Bill’ In The Strangest Way (VIDEO)

by DYLAN HOCK – Clearly losing the war on his bluff to defund DHS over the Obama administration’s recent actions on immigration, Speaker John Boehner’s body language spoke volumes Thursday, even as he remained largely silent listening to The Takeaway’s Todd Zwillich direct a question on the issue at him. Zwillich pressed Boehner to give real, updated responses on the issue now that Mitch McConnell has made his own position clear.Boehner now knows he will be receiving “a clean DHS funding bill,” yet continues to stick to his wait-and-see responses, as if he still has cards up his sleeve. Yet this “emperor’s” new clothes are as clear as ever, and there’s not a card in sight. Zwillich asked: “With respect to you Mr. Speaker, your answers about what you are going to do are the same as yesterday. Mitch McConnell has said exactly what he is going to do, you know exactly...

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Media Matters/Guardian: O’Reilly’s Lie About L.A. Riots Exposed

by ericlewis0 –   From Media Matters: The Guardian reports that six of Bill O’Reilly’s former colleagues dispute the embattled Fox News host’s claim that he and his crew were “attacked by protesters” during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.O’Reilly covered the riots, which took place after several LAPD officers were acquitted on charges they used excessive force against Rodney King, while serving as the host of Inside Edition. In a February 20 interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, O’Reilly claimed that during the riots, “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.” In a 2006 interview, O’Reilly said, “They were throwing bricks and stones at us. Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.” Several of O’Reilly’s former Inside Edition colleagues — “reporters Bonnie Strauss, Tony Cox and Rick Kirkham, and crew members Theresa McKeown, Bob McCall and Neil...

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Compares Organized Workers to ISIS

Republican presidential hopeful says battle against organized workers has prepared him to take on foreign militants by Jon Queally – Speaking to the audience at the annual rightwing convergence known as CPAC on Thursday, Republican Governor Scott Walker indicated that his ongoing attack on the rights of workers in his home state of Wisconsin is preparing him for a possible future fight with foreign militants such as those aligned with the Islamic State fighters now operating in Iraq and Syria. “We need a leader who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait until they take the fight to American soil,” declared Walker, a 2016 presidential hopeful, to the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same in the rest of the world,” he added in a clear reference to...

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Contracts for 5 Million Workers to Expire in 2015

By Ned Resnikoff, Al Jazeera – Millions of unionized workers in the U.S. will see their contracts expire over the next year, and labor leaders say that even non-union workers should hope those contract negotiations go well for the labor movement. The heads of the unions affiliated with the labor federation AFL-CIO said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters that they expect new contract negotiations to have a noticeable effect on the broader economy, due to the issues up for negotiation and the number of people covered by those contracts. The AFL-CIO, which includes unions representing more than 12 million workers, said it estimates that roughly 5 million union members work under labor contracts that are set to expire in 2015. “We’re all in this together,” said Lee Sanders, president of the public sector union AFSCME. He was not just referring to union members. As union membership has declined over recent...

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All 6,000 Mosques in Jordan to Run on Solar Energy

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – As global oil prices continue to drastically fluctuate up and down over the years, the Kingdom of Jordan has announced that all of their mosques will soon run on solar energy, in an attempt to save money and promote sustainable development. Jordan is a country almost devoid of natural resources – most of their land is completely barren. The Jordanian economy is beset by insufficient supplies of water, oil and other resources, and to make things even worse, they import 96% of the energy they use. Given their rough circumstances, I feel that this is definitely a good approach. Ahmad Abu Saa, of the Renewable Energy Department at the ministry stated “that photovoltaic solar systems for power generation will be installed at the Kingdom’s mosques under a project to be implemented in the course of this year.” The project will start by covering 120 mosques and...

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Here Comes Fascism Wrapped In A Flag And Carrying A Patriotism Test For Voters

by T. STEELMAN – The Constitution grants American citizens the right to vote. The only way that can be stripped from you is by becoming a felon — and even that has been questioned – or renouncing your citizenship. However, voting rights seem to be rolling back rather than moving forward. We’ve seen Republican measures in many states that seek to curtail voting rights, taking us back to the mid-20th century. Right after the Civil War, voting rights were extended to black Americans. That doesn’t mean that they always got to vote, though. In fact, the opposite was true; when it came to black Americans voting, white Americans put many barriers in their way. The poll tax, literacy tests, white primaries and grandfather clauses were all abolished over time but, while they were active, they prevented most Southern blacks from voting. That all changed in 1965 with the passage of...

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UN Reveals ‘Credible and Reliable’ Evidence of US Military Torture in Afghanistan

New report finds U.S.-backed Afghan government still committing widespread torture by Sarah Lazare – The United Nations revealed Wednesday it has “credible and reliable” evidence that people recently detained at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan have faced torture and abuse. The UN’s Assistance Mission and High Commissioner for Human Rights exposed the findings in a report based on interviews with 790 “conflict-related detainees” between February 2013 and December 2014. According to the investigation, two detainees “provided sufficiently credible and reliable accounts of torture in a U.S. facility in Maydan Wardak in September 2013 and a U.S. Special Forces facility at Baghlan in April 2013.” The report states that the allegations of torture were investigated by “relevant authorities” but provided no information about the outcome of the alleged probes or the nature of the mistreatment. This is not the first public disclosure of evidence of torture during the U.S. war in Afghanistan,...

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Dumb And Dumber In The Republican House Education Bill

by Jeff Bryant – For sure, there is a lot for Democrats to dislike about the current version of No Child Left Behind federal education legislation steaming toward approval in the US House of Representatives. The bill, HR5 the Student Success Act, was written completely by Republicans, passed through committee without any Democratic support, and has already drawn strong opposition from the Obama administration and others. But with Republicans firmly in charge of efforts to rewrite NCLB, it’s important to identify specifics in the bill that should become bright lines Democrats can’t cross and points for inclusion to fight for in Senate negotiations and joint deliberations. What’s Dumb At the top of the list of what Democrats oppose in the Student Success Act is the insistence among Republicans that federal money for public schools be further constricted. While a number of state governors and prominent voices on Capitol Hill have come...

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Duped by For-Profit Schools, Students Gain Big Allies in Push for Loan Forgiveness

Answering Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call, Massachusetts AG slams for-profit colleges as ‘free to break the law’ By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has asked the U.S. Department of Education to forgive the debt of hundreds of students who were forced into loans and thousands of dollars in tuition payments by the failing for-profit Corinthian Colleges. “Schools should not obtain public monies based on actions in violation of state law, and students should not be required to pay for such violations,” Healey wrote in a recent letter to the Department of Education. “Based on our investigative findings, we believe the federal loans of Corinthian students in Massachusetts should be canceled.” Healey joins the growing call, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to forgive Corinthian student loan debts. Warren has previously slammed the for-profit college company as predatory and criticized the government for subsidizing an industry that...

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Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton

by Joseph Mulkerin, Truthout | Op-Ed – Ever since the 2012 election results were certified, the conventional wisdom has been that Hillary Clinton is all but guaranteed a coronation in the 2016 primaries. She has racked up a series of endorsements from prominent Democrats. As early as July 2013, an MSNBC article referred to her as the “presumptive nominee,” a term generally reserved for the Democratic candidate who has clinched the majority of party delegates. Although her support has slipped slightly in the past month, she still holds a commanding, and arguably prohibitive, lead in polling of Democratic primary candidates, with 88 percent of self-described “solid liberals”pledging support for her. It is possible that this high degree of support may result more from the perception that she is inevitable rather than from widespread substantive agreement with many of her policies, because upon close examination, there is a litany of positions...

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Exclusive: Here is the New Homeland Security Report on ‘Sovereign Citizen Extremist’ Violence

Does it live up to CNN’s hype about domestic right-wing terror? You decide by Jesse Walker – Reason has obtained the federal government’s recent report on the sovereign citizens, a largely unorganized subculture whose elaborate legal theories say they do not have to follow most laws. Members of the movement are infamous for filing nuisance lawsuits, making their own drivers’ licenses and license plates, and sometimes attempting to form their own parallel institutions of government. Some of them are also prone to violence, and it is this hotheaded subgroup that is the subject of the report. The intelligence assessment, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prepared in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was circulated to law enforcement on February 5 but was not released to the public. (DHS did not respond to repeated requests from Reason for comment.) CNN revealed its existence last Friday, but the network quoted only a couple...

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CIA Evidence from Whistleblower Trial Could Tilt Iran Nuclear Talks

by Norman Solomon – A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences—casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program. With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. In its zeal to prosecute Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information about Operation Merlin—which provided flawed nuclear weapon design information to Iran in 2000—the U.S. government has damaged its own standing with the IAEA. The trial made public a treasure trove of information about the Merlin operation. Last week Bloomberg News reported from Vienna, where IAEA is headquartered, that the agency “will probably review intelligence...

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Snowden Document Reveals Huge Scope of Canada’s Domestic Surveillance

Canada’s spy agency collects and stores millions of citizens’ emails each year by Lauren McCauley – Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), collects millions of emails and other information from its citizens and stores them for “days to months,” according to a document leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and revealed by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept on Wednesday. According to the top-secret CSE document, analysts “watched visits to government websites and collected about 400,000 emails to the government every day, storing some of the data for years,” CBC reports. Such online activity includes Canadians filing taxes, writing to members of Parliament and applying for passports. The sweeping data collection is being carried out in an alleged effort to protect government computers. Using a tool called PonyExpress, the surveillance agency scans the documents for “suspicious links or attachments.” The 2010 document reveals that the system detects about...

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The GOP Is Finding That It’s Harder Than It Looks

by RationalPolitics – I remember as a kid I used to watch my dad drive and think, that doesn’t look so hard.  After all, I was pretty good at driving the bumper cars at the amusement park, and how much different could this be?  I also remember the first time my dad let me behind the wheel on a Sunday morning in a deserted shopping mall parking lot and said, “drive”.  I suddenly realized that it’s a lot harder than it looks. As we get older we realize that things look a lot different from the outside looking in than when we suddenly find ourselves on the inside.  We have all known people who talk a good game, but never seem to achieve success when given the opportunity. As we get older we either gain the humility that affords us the caution to go slowly, take advice and stay focused, or the hubris...

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Florida Republicans Spend Nearly $1 Million On Obamacare Alternative And Nobody Signs Up

by JAMESON PARKER – Florida Republicans were eager to dispel the suggestion that conservatives have no practical alternative to Obamacare, and will be screwing millions of people out of health insurance should their incessant efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act actually come to fruition. So, to prove everybody wrong, the state’s Republican lawmakers designed a rival marketplace that they hoped would dissuade people from seeking insurance on the federal (read: Socialist Obama) exchange. Spoiler: It’s a massive failure. The Republican-dominated Florida legislature has been adamant in refusing to work with the new healthcare laws or even expand Medicaid. The partisan fight has prevented an estimated 750,000 Floridians from receiving health insurance, despite the new law. That’s too bad, because other conservative states that swallowed their pride and began working with the ACA have seen massive cuts in their uninsured rates (go figure!) and overwhelming satisfaction from the people who...

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‘Today Is THE Day’ as FCC Readies Historic Vote on Net Neutrality

After millions made it clear they would not allow the commission, lawmakers or the telecom industry ‘to mess with the Internet,’ broad coalition plans celebrations on verge of historic vote by Jon Queally – Champions of the concept known as net neutrality—who have literally been counting the hours—are preparing celebrations on Thursday as the FCC is expected to officially enshrine the policy by reclassifying the Internet as a public utility – a decision which follows intense lobbying over recent months by grassroots organizations and web users who say the vote represents the most important ruling by the commission in a generation. As Free Press, one of the groups that have led the charge to defend net neutrality by having the FCC place the Internet under what is known as Title II protection, tweeted early Thursday morning: “Today is THE day.” The FCC’s meeting is scheduled for 10:30 AM EST, with the...

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Martian Mystery Plume Puzzles Scientists

By David Szondy, Gizmag – Astronomers are scratching their heads over mysterious plumes that have been sighted in the atmosphere of Mars. First seen by amateur astronomers using Earthbound telescopes, the plumes are at an altitude much higher than that of any clouds yet seen on the Red Planet, and may not even be clouds. Clouds have been seen on Mars since the 1870s and observations sent back by probes like Curiosity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have greatly increased our understanding of the Martian atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean that our neighbor can’t still surprise us. The mysterious plumes were first reported by amateur astronomers in 2012 as they rose to altitudes of 250 km (155 mi) over the same region of Terra Cimmeria (195 degrees west, 45 degrees south) on two occasions. They were seen on the limb or observed edge of the planet at the day/night terminator during...

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Why Minnesota is Doing Better than Wisconsin

By Dbug, Daily Kos – We in Minnesota have a Democratic Governor. Our Mark Dayton is a rich Democrat – the heir of the family who started the Dayton’s Department Stores and B. Dalton Bookstores and Target — and he was educated at Yale, so he’s actually pretty smart for a guy who inherited money. Citizens of Wisconsin have a Republican Governor (Scott Walker, who brags about dropping out of college). In Minnesota, we have a balanced budget, partly because we raised taxes on the top earners. In Wisconsin, they cut taxes on rich people and are now scrambling to cut spending (including major cuts for the once proud University of Wisconsin (which breaks my heart.) More orange details below the squiggle. Or whatever. Lurid details below the orange squiggle. This article, recently published in Mother Jones, explains why Minnesota, which is demographically very similar to Wisconsin, its neighbor to the...

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Shell Withdraws From Largest Tar Sands Project Yet

by ARI PHILLIPS – Keystone XL is not the only deciding factor in the future of tar sands extraction. The outsized debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, which entered a new era yesterday after Obama wielded his veto pen against legislation approving its construction, is not the only element in the debate over whether the greenhouse gas-intensive tar sands get developed. Oil supply, demand, and cost are pulling some major levers too: with oil prices at rock-bottom lows, on Monday Royal Dutch Shell announced it was shelving plans to build a new tar sands mine in northern Alberta — the largest such project to be deferred. Shell withdrew its applications for the Pierre River project, which would have produced 200,000 barrels-per-day (bpd), to focus on maintaining profitability for its existing 255,000-bpd tar sands operations, according to the company. “The Pierre River Mine (PRM) remains a very long term opportunity for...

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Kerry Makes It Clear: Obama Wants Authority to Deploy Ground Troops in Iraq and Syria

Secretary of State confirms proposed AUMF would allow for boots-on-the-ground in fight against the Islamic State by Sarah Lazare – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed on Tuesday that the Obama administration is, in fact, seeking approval for the deployment of ground troops to participate in combat operations against Islamic State forces. At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, Kerry clarified the administration’s position for boots-on-the-ground soldiers outlined in President Obama’s proposed authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), submitted to Congress earlier this month. The AUMF’s wording in relation to ground troops has been criticized as vague and open-ended. The proposed text states, “The authority granted… does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.” As numerous analysts have pointed out, the phrase “enduring offensive ground combat operations” is not a legal term and could open the door to significant...

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Chicago Police Secretly Detain, Abuse Americans at Domestic ‘Black Site

By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – Chicago police have operated a secret prison-like compound where they detain, interrogate, and torture U.S. citizens in what lawyers call a domestic equivalent to a CIA “black site,” an exclusive investigation by The Guardian revealed Tuesday. A “nondescript warehouse” on Chicago’s west side, known as Homan Square, is in fact a secret facility used by special police units to hold people without entering them into official booking databases, explains Guardian reporter Spencer Ackerman, who also reported the brutal regime of former Chicago police officer and Guantánamo Bay guard Richard Zuley last week. At Homan Square, according to The Guardian, detainees are beaten, shackled for prolonged periods of time, and denied access to attorneys and other constitutional rights. Some of those held at the site have been as young as 15 years old. At least individual was “found unresponsive in an ‘interview room’ and later pronounced dead,”...

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Scientists Say Small Fracking Earthquakes Could Lead to Major Ones

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Over the last several years clusters of earthquakes have been occurring in places that rarely saw significant earthquake activity, including Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio. Those earthquakes have been connected to the wastewater injection techniques used in fracking, which researchers say activate hidden fault lines. It’s referred to as “induced seismicity.” While most of those earthquakes have been minor — in most cases too small to feel and most under magnitude 3 on the Richter Scale — they could be getting much larger according to scientist William Ellsworth of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). “The more small earthquakes we have it just simply increases the odds we’re going to have a more damaging event,” he said. “To some degree, we’ve dodged a bullet in Oklahoma.” He added that we shouldn’t “expect a large earthquake tomorrow,” but that it could happen at any time. Ellsworth presented the still-unpublished research at the American Association...

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Green Revolution In Japan: Charge Stations Now Outnumber Gas Stations

by LEFT WING NATION – The narrative we’re fed by the fossil fuel industry and their puppets in the Republican party is that replacing gas guzzling cars with electric cars would be too expensive! Can’t be done! People would never switch over! Blablabla… But when presented with the option, the Japanese were more than happy to rapidly move away from pollution belching cars to a cleaner alternative: “Green-car sceptics take note: Japan now has more electric vehicle charging spots than gas stations. The country’s number-two automaker Nissan says there are now 40,000 charging units — including those inside private homes — across the nation, compared with 34,000 petrol stations. While gas stations have multiple pumps and can service many more cars, the figures underscore efforts to boost green-vehicle infrastructure in Japan, long a leader in a sector that remains tiny globally.” Fossil fuel puppets will claim that the green car...

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Netanyahu Admits Sabotage of Iran Talks His Primary Mission

‘It is my obligation,’ says Israeli prime minister, ‘to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement.’ by Sarah Lazare – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Tuesday that the purpose of his upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. is to do “everything I can” to prevent a nuclear deal between global powers and Iran—an admission that critics say reveals he is pushing for military escalation and potentially war. “This agreement, if indeed it is signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state,” Netanyahu declared in a statement released Tuesday, according to media reports. “It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement.” “Therefore,” he continued, “I will go to Washington… because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement.” Critics say that the prime minister’s push to undermine the diplomatic process is ultimately a call...

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Bill O’Reilly Caught In Another Lie, And It’s His Most Embarrassing One Yet

by JAMESON PARKER – Bill O’Reilly is having a really bad month. First, his well-worn stories about his heroic time as a globetrotting reporter covering war zones turned out to be mostly fabrications mixed with half-truths. Now, his cherished story about the time he personally heard the gunshot that killed a mysterious figure at the center of the John F. Kennedy assassination plot is coming to pieces right before his eyes. It should come as no surprise, but it’s worth noting that O’Reilly has a massive ego. And like all truly egomaniac blowhards, O’Reilly needs a steady fuel of tall-tales and trumped up stories to feed and placate that inflated sense of importance. To that end, O’Reilly has continually used his platform as a right-wing celebrity to interject himself into stories that he was, at most, on the sidelines for. Take for instance, his insistence that he was in the...

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The Vatican Just Called For Reforming The Biggest Health Care Problem You’ve Never Heard Of

by JACK JENKINS – The Vatican took on “Big Pharma” last week, asking the international community to reform laws that allow drug companies to blindly pursue profits while keeping life-saving drugs out of the hands of poor people. According to Vatican Radio, last Wednesday Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, spoke at a UN Forum dedicated to making medicines more affordable and accessible for people in poorer nations. In his address, Tomasi argued that there are many obstacles that keep poor people from purchasing drugs, but called out one issue as particularly devastating: the abuse of intellectual property laws by pharmaceutical companies. “A major stumbling block in providing such access is found in restrictive applications and interpretations of intellectual property rights by many in the pharmaceutical industry,” Tomasi said, adding “ can lead to total disregard for those who...

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More Proof Conservative Anti-Tax Dogma Only Applies To The Rich

by Isaiah Poole – Here’s a question to ask New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the next time he appears at a public event: “Why is it in your state the top 1 percent of income earners pay state taxes at a rate that is on average 28 percent less than what middle-income earners pay?” Then watch the fireworks. You might even get a “sit down and shut up” out of him for having the nerve to lay this fact in front of him. Then try a similar question of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who, like Christie, is considering a run for president in 2016. There the discrepancy is far worse – the top 1 percent only pay taxes at one-third the rate of the middle 20 percent of taxpayers. In fact, the story is pretty much the same in conservative state after conservative state, whether it’s Florida under Gov. Rick...

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