Firefighter Brilliantly Shuts Down Cop Who Attempts To Violate His Rights

By Cassandra Fairbanks, The Free Thought Project – Philadelphia, PA– Tony Soto, Pennsylvania fire fighter was pulled over for his tinted windows, and stood his ground brilliantly in a series of videos uploaded on March 25 which quickly went viral. “Look, I pay my taxes. You work for me.” In the first video which was captured via personal dash cam, the officer claims that he pulled Soto over for a couple of reasons.  The first reason being his tinted windows- which Soto quickly invalidates by showing him his tint permit.  The officer next claims that the man’s headlight is out, which Soto asserts it was not and he’s right. Upon receiving the information proving Soto broke no laws, the officer attempts to illegally open the marshall’s door. Soto requests a supervisor as the officer is attempting to violate his constitutional rights, and pulls out his identification as well as his fire...

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FBI at Texas Health Commission Asking About 21CT Deal

By Terri Langford and Aman Batheja, Texas Tribune – FBI agents have interviewed employees at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission about its problematic contract with Austin firm 21CT, Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek told The Texas Tribune, marking the first time an official with direct knowledge of the federal probe has confirmed it. “I can tell you what I know. I’ve heard they were here talking to people. They have not talked to me,” Janek said late Thursday. How little-known 21CT landed a $20 million Medicaid fraud tracking software deal with HHSC, a whale of a state agency that spends billions each year on contracts, has become the center of three very public investigations launched since December. The probes began after news reports detailed how the commission failed to seek competitive bids before awarding the contract to 21CT, and how the commission’s then-deputy inspector general, Jack Stick, was once a business partner of the company’s lobbyist, James Frinzi. HHSC had selected 21CT...

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Scientists Developing Healthier, Better-Tasting Chocolate

By Richard Moss, Gizmag – Good news if you’re hooked on chocolate. Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium and the University of Ghana have developed a new technique for making chocolate that results in it being both healthier and more flavorful. The technique differs from conventional chocolate production in that cacao beans are roasted at a lower temperature and bean pods are left unopened for five days rather than split open right away. It is expected to be particularly useful in countries where cacao beans have less natural flavor and antioxidant activity. Cacao beans/seeds are normally removed from their pods shortly after these get cut from cocoa trees. The beans then go through a fermentation process that basically involves them sweating in baskets for a number of days, which causes a series of chemical changes that break down the sugar and plant embryo and prepare them for the next...

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World’s Largest Contiguous Marine Reserve Created to Stop Illegal Fishing

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government announced the creation of the world’s largest contiguous ocean reserve on Wednesday, protecting 322,000 square miles around the remote Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific. To put that in perspective, that’s three and a half times the size of the United Kingdom and bigger than the state of California, according to National Geographic. Pitcairn’s residents implored the UK government to protect the area, which is threatened by illegal fishing. “No fishing or seafloor mining will be allowed in the reserve, except for traditional fishing around the island of Pitcairn by the local population,” according to Enric Sala, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence who led an expedition to the area in 2012 that helped make the scientific case for the area’s protection. The UK leads the world with the highest percentage of its territorial waters (30 percent) under protection (it, of course, helps to be...

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Governor Christie Told This Man To ‘Sit Down And Shut Up’ But He’s Running For Office Instead

by KIRA LERNER – During a Belmar, New Jersey press conference last October, Gov. Chris Christie famously told Jim Keady to “sit down and shut up” when Keady and others protested the governor’s failed Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. Keady is not listening to the governor. Instead, he announced last week that he’s running to represent New Jersey’s 30th District in the state Assembly. While reexamining the state’s hurricane recovery efforts would be a priority, the restaurant owner and activist with the New Jersey Organizing Project told ThinkProgress he would use the position to advocate for fixing the state’s failing pension plan, reforming the education system and advocating for the environment of his hometown — all with input from constituents. “The devastation of the storm was visceral to me — I saw it, I smelled it, I crawled through it — which is why I took particular umbrage with the governor yelling...

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Revulsion and Revolt: Backlash Against Indiana’s Pro-Discrimination Law Grows

‘To see folks actively speaking out and taking a stand, people you never thought would say something about it, it says a lot.’ by Jon Queally – If you want to see the band Wilco play this Spring, you won’t be doing it in Indiana. Joining other artists, businesses, sports fans, municipal and state governments, and untold numbers of individuals, the popular rock band’s decision to cancel an upcoming concert in the state was an explicit move to support the #BoycottIndiana movement which has sprung up in response to a new pro-discrimination law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence last week. Wilco’s decision comes as equality and civil liberties advocates continue to mobilize against Indiana’s recently passed ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),’  and is now part of a wider revolt against the controversial law, and others like it, across the country. “We’re canceling our...

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The Big Lie The Media Tells About Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

by JUDD LEGUM – On Friday, the Washington Post published an article titled “19 states that have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting.” The article snarks about organizations like the NCAA that have protested Indiana’s law, noting “the NCAA didn’t say it was concerned over how athletes and employees would be affected by Kentucky’s RFRA when games were played there last week.” The piece concludes “Indiana might be treated as if it’s the only state with a bill like this, but it’s not.” The piece has been shared over 75,000 times on Facebook. The Washington Post article largely mirrors the argument advanced by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Pence claimed “Then state-Sen. Barack Obama voted for . The very same language.” The same argument is parroted on Fox News and elsewhere. It’s not true. The Indiana law differs...

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Global Warming Is Slowing Ocean Currents Causing Dire Consequences, Expert Warns

By Cole Mellino , EcoWatch – Climate scientists Michael Mann and Stefan Rahmstorf announced the findings of their new study yesterday, which shows that the rapid melting of the polar ice has slowed down currents in the Atlantic Ocean, particularly since 1970. The scientists say “the slowdown in ocean currents will result in sea level rise in cities like New York and Boston, and temperature changes on both sides of the Atlantic,” reports NPR’s Jeremy Hobson. Mann, who is a professor and the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, joined Hobson yesterday on Here and Now to discuss the study and the implications of its findings. Mann explains the consequences of the Gulf Stream shutting down and how it would drastically alter the climate in Europe and North America. The last time this happened, about 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, North America and Europe went back...

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‘No Worse Than Bombing An Abortion Clinic’: Anti-Vaxxers Celebrate Murders Of Four Polio Vaccinators

by VALERIE BEAUMONT – The anti-vaccine crowd may be dangerously and irreparably stupid, but it is surprising that even this particular mob of willful scientific illiterates and conspiracy theorists would stoop to actually celebrating the deaths of other humans. Unfortunately, this is the point the anti-vaccine movement has reached. Last week, gunmen opened fire on a team of polio vaccinators in southwestern Pakistan. Four of the workers died, and police were forced to halt a much-needed immunization drive. Pakistan is one of the few countries left where polio is a regular threat and, while vaccination teams have helped the situation some, violent extremists have seized upon the opportunity to lash out against what they view as a  “conspiracy of Jews and Christians to make Muslims impotent and stunt the growth of Muslims.” Anti-vaxxers have long touted supposed “sterilization agents” in vaccines — false claims that could only be believed by the...

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State Attorneys Tell Supreme Court That Gay People Are Too Powerful To Have Equal Rights

by IAN MILLHISER – Gay Americans simply have too much political power to be afforded equal rights under the Constitution, according to a brief filed by the state of Ohio asking the Supreme Court to permit that state to continue to practice marriage discrimination. Ohio’s claim comes as part of a greater effort to convince the justices that laws which discriminate again gay men, lesbians and bisexuals should not be treated with skepticism by courts applying the Constitution’s guarantee that everyone shall be afforded “the equal protection of the laws.” Under this provision of the Constitution, most forms of discrimination are entirely permissible. It is acceptable, for example, for the government to discriminate against unqualified job applicants when making hiring decisions, or to discriminate against people who commit serious crimes in deciding who to incarcerate. When the government discriminates against groups that have historically been subject to unequal treatment that...

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I’m Running for Senate (VIDEO)

by TammyDuckworth – Ten years ago, I nearly lost my life when an RPG tore through the cockpit of my Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq. The only reason I made it home was because of the heroism of my courageous buddies who risked their lives to save mine. I have an obligation to honor their sacrifice by making the most of this second chance in my life – this bonus time – and continuing to serve our nation, in any way I can. That’s why I’m announcing today that I’m running to represent Illinois in the United States Senate. Watch the announcement video below to learn more about why I’m running, then sign up to join the campaign from Day 1. We deserve elected officials who will do for our fellow Americans what my crew did for me in Iraq: look out for our hardest hit and most vulnerable, work together...

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Willie Nelson Plans To Sell You Weed In 2016

By DEBORAH MONTESANO, Addicting Info – Willie Nelson has an act to top anything he’s done yet. He’s going to open his own chain of marijuana stores in 2016. Who else to trust with delivering a primo product than the man who, at 81 years of age, is America’s best-known pot smoker and legalization advocate? The man who sang “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die.” The man who famously smoked a doobie on the roof of the White House. Nelson’s stores are going to include his own brand, Willie’s Reserve, as well as other carefully selected varieties — brands of weed that meet his high standards. He’s hired pot lobbyist Michael Bowman to be the spokesperson for Willie’s Reserve. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bowman said: This is a culmination of Willie’s vision, and his whole life. I’m not sure any of us could have predicted how fast the dominoes...

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‘This Must End Now’: Web Companies, Rights Groups Call for Immediate Halt to Bulk Data Collection

In letter sent to President Obama and other officials, coalition demands urgent reform to US Patriot Act by Lauren McCauley – More than 50 technology companies, privacy and human rights advocates on Wednesday sent a letter (pdf) to U.S. President Barack Obama, members of Congress, and other executive  and intelligence officials demanding immediate curbs to government surveillance and an end to the bulk collection of citizens’ communications under the U.S. Patriot Act. “It has been nearly two years since the first news stories revealed the scope of the United States’ surveillance and bulk collection activities. Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability,” reads the letter. The diverse coalition—which includes groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Mozilla, Center for Media and Technology, Wikimedia Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American-Arab...

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Opposition Grows as Shell Drilling Fleet Heads to Arctic Waters

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills” occurring By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Marking 26 years since the Exxon Valdez ran aground spilling as much as 38 million gallons of oil into the Port William Sound in Alaska, activists last week protested the Obama administration’s continued support for Arctic oil exploration. Despite the known threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem and high risk of a devastating oil spill, the Department of the Interior is expected as early as Wednesday to sign off on the revised environmental impact statement (EIS) for Shell’s Chuckchi Sea lease, which would clear a major hurdle for the company to restart its Arctic drilling program this summer. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel’s formal announcement will follow last month’s approval by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which was given despite the agency’s own EIS finding that “there...

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Georgia Legislature Drops Plans For ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill After Watching Indiana Implode

by JAMESON PARKER – Let nobody tell you that your voice doesn’t matter. Nowhere is that more clear than in Georgia this week where the state’s Republican-majority legislature quietly killed their very own “religious freedom” bill after watching their fellow conservatives in Indiana go down in spectacular fashion for passing a similar law. According to WXIA in Atlanta, the Georgia House Judiciary Committee cancelled a scheduled meeting meant to discuss the pending legislation. The bill is effectively tabled, with support dissolving at an almost hourly rate. Sensing shifting sands, the bill’s author, Republican Sen. Joshua McKoon frantically called on his fellow lawmakers to vote on the bill “as-is” as soon as possible before it was too late. So far, no one – left or right – has seemed eager to take him up on his offer. If you want to understand what happened in Georgia, we need look no further...

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Republicans Call Obama A Greater Threat To America Than Putin And Assad (VIDEO)

by KERRY-ANNE – President Barack Obama poses an imminent threat to the United States greater than Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, say a third of Republicans responding to a Reuters/Ipsos poll this month. 2,809 Americans were asked to rate the threat level posed to the U.S. by several countries, organizations and individuals on a scale of 1 to 5 (one being no threat and 5 being an imminent threat). There were some bizarre results. 34% of Republicans ranked Obama as an imminent threat to America (equal to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) – scoring him higher than Putin (25%), Assad (23%) and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini (27%). While Putin’s Russia has been accused of annexing the Ukraine, and Assad stands accused of using chlorine gas against his own people, GOP voters see a greater threat coming from the Obama White House. The only things Republicans found...

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Syria’s President Assad: US Airstrikes a Recruiting Bonanza for ISIS

The Americans would like to ‘sugar coat’ the situation, says Bashar al-Assad, but the situation in his country is only being made worse by airstrikes and the funding of extremist groups by outside forces by Jon Queally – In an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on CBS News’ 60 Minutes Sunday night, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said American airstrikes that began last year against Islamic State (or ISIS) inside his country are doing little to benefit his own fight against the militant force but are having the undesirable side effect of increasing the number of fighters from across the region (and the world) who are flocking to join the group. “How much of a benefit are you getting from American airstrikes in Syria reducing the power of ISIS?” Rose asked in the interview that took place just days ago in Damascus. Al-Assad responded by pointing out that the U.S. government...

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Hillary’s Challengers – and the Anti-Wall Street Wave

by Richard Eskow – Former governor Martin O’Malley and former senator Jim Webb spoke at a firefighters’ union event earlier this month. Both are the subject of renewed press interest as they contemplate entering the presidential race. Sen. Bernie Sanders has been publicly weighing a run. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is being encouraged to enter the race. All four have criticized Wall Street’s unethical practices and undue political influence. Leading contender Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has not. Should that worry Democrats? O’Malley Moves In On a swing through Iowa last week, former Maryland governor and presumed presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said that “we must not allow another Wall Street meltdown to bring down hard-working families.” He once again called for reinstating Glass-Steagall, the bill that prevented big banks from investing (some would say gambling with) customers’ savings, adding “that too many Democrats have been complicit in the backslide toward less regulation.” “Seven years after the Wall Street meltdown,” added O’Malley, “Americans are still experiencing the fallout.” O’Malley has been circumspect about challenging Hillary Clinton, the presumptive frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic nomination. But the implications of his words weren’t lost on insiders. The bill, which effectively repealed Glass-Steagall, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Citigroup, the megabank...

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HBO’s Scientology Documentary Uses The Church’s Own Tricks On Viewers

by ALAN PYKE – It has been mocked repeatedly and accused of a variety of abusive practices toward its members over the years, but Scientology’s ability to attract devoted, decades-long followers has never quite made sense in previous depictions of the organization. Now, the source of that mysterious power to attract sensible people and retain them for a lifetime is laid plain — and for a lot less than the suggested donation at an entry-level Scientologists’ meeting. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief debuts March 29 on HBO. It is no small thing to take on the Church of Scientology, as Anderson Cooper, the Internal Revenue Service, the creators of South Park, and many others have learned over the years. So when HBO decided to engage the esoteric, cult-like group in a documentary, the network didn’t skimp. Going Clear is the product of a collaboration between lauded, veteran...

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New Bill Would Have Teachers Diagnose Psychological Issues in Children and Report them to Police

By Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project – Dallas, Texas – Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is once again in the spotlight after submitting yet another Orwellian proposal, H.B. 985. Villalba first raised the ire of civil libertarians by proposing a bill, H.B. 2006, which would have eliminated the religious exemption for vaccination, essentially creating a forced government vaccination program without exception. More recently, Villalba was thrust into the national spotlight when he proposed H.B. 2918, which would usurp citizens of the ability to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. The bill would negate the people’s ability to create an accurate and impartial record of police interactions by restricting citizens from filming within 25 feet of an officer. Now with H.B. 985, Villalba intends to give school officials the authority to force psychological screenings of students that teachers and staff diagnose as having mental health issues. Once...

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Rise and Shine

 

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Lindsey Graham Tried Defending The 1% And He Failed – Badly

by WENDY GITTLESON – After Mitt Romney’s disastrous run for president in 2012, instead of running directly toward the 1%, Republicans have been doing a waltz. On one hand, they try to be the party of good ole’ boys and on the other, they tell the good ole’ boys to ignore the fact that the Republican (and many of the Democratic) candidates are still being led by 1%. Lindsey Graham, who hasn’t yet announced his candidacy, told a crowd in Concord, NH that it isn’t the 1% we should care about at all. Instead of taxing the 1% at a greater rate, Graham said we should have a flat tax. Graham said a system in which the wealthiest 1 percent pays 20 percent of the taxes, the top 10 percent pays 65 to 70 percent and the bottom half of taxpayers pays less than 10 percent “is going to fail.”...

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Renowned Scientists Urge Museums to Drop Climate-Denier Donors, BP Dumps ALEC

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – The Natural History Museum is a New York-based organization that provides online and mobile programming, and exhibits intended to “affirm the truth of science” and call attention to the “political /funding climate” in the science museum community. It has no multimillion-dollar signature building, expensive exhibits with benefactors’ names next to them on gold plaques or an admission price that will set a family back $100. But it’s taking aim at those science and natural history museums that do, questioning the integrity of accepting funding from donors with an interest in and history of refuting scientific research on issues like climate change—donors like the Koch Brothers of the fossil fuel-driven Koch Industries. The group has issued an open letter to these museums from members of the scientific community, urging them to cut such ties. It points to the Code of Ethics for Museums, adopted in 1991 by the Board of...

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“A Letter to Christians in Indiana, From Jesus” (VIDEO)

by DocDawg – These are dark, difficult times in which to be a follower of Jesus. Not because, as in some times past, we are persecuted by Pharisees, or by Roman emperors, or by those who would suppress heresy, or by Nazis, or by imaginary demons. Rather, these are difficult times in which to be a follower of Jesus because so many who claim to be our fellows have moved so far, so publicly, from our faith’s teachings, and in doing so have tainted the rest of us, in the world’s eyes, with the same poison they themselves have succumbed to. As a North Carolinian in this new Dark Age, there are two fellow North Carolina Christians I increasingly often turn to for comfort and inspiration when I find myself sickened by and despairing over the actions of some of those who call themselves my brothers. One is Rev. William J....

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Schumer’s Choice: To Succeed Reid, He Must Back Iran Deal

by Robert Naiman, Truthout | Op-Ed – Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has announced that he will not run for re-election. Reid has endorsed Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) to succeed him as Democratic leader. But in order to succeed Reid as Senate Democratic leader, Schumer is going to have to pay a price: he’s going to have to back President Obama’s multilateral diplomacy with Iran, which Bloomberg reports could produce a “framework agreement” this weekend. Some of Senator Schumer’s New York constituents might not like that, but as the soldiers say, they’ll just have to “embrace the suck.” Senate Republicans may think it’s ok for them to try to undermine a diplomatic agreement. But the prospective leader of Senate Democrats isn’t allowed to do that. On Thursday, Schumer officially became a co-sponsor of the main Republican bill in the Senate designed to blow up the Iran talks: the Corker-Menendez...

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After National Church Makes A Move On Marriage Equality, Presbyterian Congregations Receive Threats

by JACK JENKINS – Last week, the Presbyterian Church (USA), or PC(USA), officially voted to fully embrace marriage equality as a denomination, a historic move celebrated by LGBT advocates and lay Presbyterians alike. But just a few days after the pivotal vote, four different Presbyterian churches in southeast Missouri received an unsigned letter condemning homosexuality and threatening to attack congregations that embrace same-sex marriage. The letter, written in all capital letters and riddled with typos, opened by citing a passage from the biblical book Leviticus condemning same-gender sex. The author then issued a chilling warning to area churches who host same-sex weddings. “People U (sic) had better turn around or your soles (sic) are going down…” the letter read, which was photographed by local news affiliate 12 KFVS. “Any church that accepts this , should be burned to the ground, any pastor who performs such marriage (sic) should be...

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Monsanto Hit With Fine for ‘Genetically Contaminating Wheat Supply’

By ANTHONY GUCCIARDI, NaturalSociety – After paying an original sum of $2.4 million to reimburse farmers for contaminating their fields with genetically modified wheat that had not even yet been approved for farming, Monsanto has been forced to pay another $350,000 in order to settle a class action lawsuit brought upon by numerous farmers from over seven different states. The news comes amid economic struggles for the biotech juggernaut that have resulted in the loss of share value and poor projections for the long-term future. In last year’s fourth quarter, Monsanto reported a loss of $156 million. And for the multi-billion dollar company, it’s not about the monetary figure, but the future of its genetically modified creations that the public just simply isn’t buying. In the latest legal settlement, we find that Monsanto’s new method of simply paying off farmers just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to international...

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The Political Legacy Of Steve Nash

by TRAVIS WALDRON – Steve Nash, two-time NBA MVP and future Hall of Famer, formally announced his retirement, writing in The Players’ Tribune that after 19 years in the league it is finally time to hang it up. “I will likely never play basketball again,” Nash wrote. “It’s bittersweet. I already miss the game deeply, but I’m also really excited to learn to do something else. This letter is for anyone who’s taken note of my career. At the heart of this letter, I’m speaking to kids everywhere who have no idea what the future holds or how to take charge of their place in it. When I think of my career, I can’t help but think of the kid with his ball, falling in love. That’s still what I identify with and did so throughout my entire story.” The 41-year-old Nash is in the final season of a contract...

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It’s Time to Rethink America’s Relationship With Israel

Maybe Israeli politicians will act more responsibly if they don’t have the American people to fall back on by Sheldon Richman – The Benjamin Netanyahu on display in the days before and after the Israeli election is the same one who has been in power all these years. Right along, he was there for all to see, so no one should have been surprised by his performance. I seriously doubt that anyone really is surprised. Americans who slavishly toe the Israeli and Israel Lobby line may act surprised, but that’s really just their embarrassment at having to answer for the prime minister of the “State of the Jewish People.” Democrats especially are in a bind. They can’t afford to distance themselves from Netanyahu and alienate Jewish sources of campaign donations, yet they are visibly uncomfortable with his so openly racist fear-mongering about Israeli Arab voters—”The right-wing government is in danger. Arab...

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Carly Fiorina Blames Economic Struggles On Workers ‘Watching Porn All Day Long’ (VIDEO)

By SHANNON BARBER, Addicting Info – Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and likely GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is following in the footsteps of her fellow Republicans by going on television and saying stupid things. On Sunday, Fiorina went on the favorite network of the right to opine on the economy after telling Fox host Chris Wallace that the chances of  her running for president are “higher than 90 percent.” Fiorina used her technological experience as a reason she’d be a great candidate, saying that it was “because I understand technology: a transformational tool, because I understand bureaucracies, how they work and how you need to change them. And our government is a huge bureaucracy.” Okay, I’ll give her that. What she said about technological knowledge is true – that is most definitely important in this day and age. However, what she Fiorina said after that files her firmly into the camp of morons...

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Indiana’s New Anti-Gay Law Made Company Cancel $40M/1000 Job Expansion

By SARAH, Addicting Info – Ever since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a “religious freedom” bill allowing businesses to turn away LGBT customers, many companies have taken this as a cue to take their business out of Indiana. One business in particular, Angie’s List, a $315 million company based out of Indianapolis, Indiana is canceling expansion, and may even be thinking about moving out of the state altogether. The company, which allows users to review businesses online so that people know what they’re getting when they hire someone into their home for repair work, care-giving, and other in home services, is in disagreement with the passage of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” CEO Bill Oesterle is canceling a $40 million deal that was going to expand their headquarters and add 1,000 jobs over five years. Oesterle said: “We’re going to be very vocal on this issue and I don’t feel we can do that...

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On This Day, Mar 30, 1981 – President Reagan Shot

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by a deranged drifter named John Hinckley Jr. The president had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel and was walking with his entourage to his limousine when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and critically wounded, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the side, and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahaney was shot in the neck. After firing the shots, Hinckley was overpowered and pinned against a wall, and President Reagan, apparently unaware that he’d been shot, was shoved into his limousine by a Secret Service agent and rushed to the hospital. The president was shot in the left lung,...

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Schumer’s Road to the Top Greased by Donations to Colleagues

By John Dunbar, Center for Public Integrity – It’s not what they teach in civics class, but the best way to snag a leadership position in Congress is by giving generously to one’s colleagues. By that measure, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is well-positioned to be the next Senate Minority Leader. Sen. Harry Reid, the top Democratic leader in the Congress’ upper chamber,  said this week he will not run for re-election in 2016, prompting speculation as to his potential successor. Two senators — Schumer and Dick Durbin of Illinois — have risen to the top of the list. Schumer’s leadership political action committee, known as “IMPACT,” doled out almost $1.5 million from 2010 through 2014, according to data gleaned from the Federal Election Commission by the Center for Public Integrity. The total includes at least $720,000 donated to Senate Democrats. Durbin’s Prairie PAC gave away $1.3 million from 2010...

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Charles Barkley And Reggie Miller Condemn Indiana Anti-Gay Law, Urge NCAA To Move Final Four

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – Indiana Governor Mike Pence and his fellow Republicans are facing one hell of a backlash over the anti-gay law passed they passed on Thursday, and now former NBA greats Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller are blasting them for it. Charles Barkley has made many ignorant statements on the issue of racism over the last few months, but he may have redeemed himself at least a little bit by slamming Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act in a statement to USA Today in which he urges the NCAA to move the March Madness Final Four tournament out of the state. “Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me. As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.” But an even bigger condemnation of the anti-gay law...

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Rooibos Preserves Wine Naturally Without the Use of Synthetic Chemicals

By Radha McLean, EcoWatch – Wine just got healthier. The African vintner Audacia has invented an all-natural way to preserve red wine using rooibos wood taken from the eponymous tea-producing plant that is native to Africa. Sulphur dioxide and other synthetic materials are traditionally added to wine to act as preservatives that lengthen the shelf life of the alcoholic beverage. This plant-based preservation method eliminates the need for artificial additives. “I see it being drunk all over the world,” Audaicia owner Trevor Strydom told Reuters. “We registered the patent in 83 jurisdictions worldwide, we are already exporting the wine to China.” Strydom first tried rooibos in the form of tea — rooibos tea has grown in popularity in the past decade as health-minded tea drinkers have discovered its rich, earthy taste that is 100 percent caffeine-free. He began experimenting with the preservation process by putting tea bags in wine, which led to the...

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Evangelical Compares Transgender Individuals To Pinocchio: They Need To ‘Repent’ Identity

 By  SARAH, Addicting Info – There are a lot of things I can read on the internet and just brush off as crazy talk. However, with transgender individuals taking their own lives at such an alarming rate this nonsensical article needs to be combated. A man by the name of Owen Strachen, who is the President of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (who knew that was a thing?) decided he would write a piece titled, “Transgender Identity — Wishing Away God’s Design.” Well, first off, he’s Southern Baptist, so we already know he very male-centric, because women aren’t even allowed to have leadership roles within their church. In fact they write in their position statement: “While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.” You just said...

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National #BoycottIndiana Movement Drives Officials to Backpedal on Anti-LGBTQ Law

‘It feels like we’re going back 50 years in time,’ one protester said of state-sanctioned discrimination by Lauren McCauley – Indiana lawmakers are scrambling to backpedal as a fierce backlash has taken hold against Republican Governor Mike Pence since he signed into law legislation that effectively permits discrimination against people thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Under the handle #BoycottIndiana, LGBTQ activists and supporters across the nation are vowing economic retribution against the state. The so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” signed into effect on Thursday, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations. Critics say that the measure protects individuals or businesses that violate anti-discrimination laws. Across the state, stickers have already begun appearing in storefront windows that read: “This business serves everyone.” On Saturday, hundreds of activists rallied outside...

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Renewable Energy Growth Mitigates Climate Change While Boosting Economy, IEA Reports

By Steven Cohen, EcoWatch – The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced this month that 2014 carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector leveled off — the first time in 40 years this has happened without being linked to an economic downturn. According to the IEA: “Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought. The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries. In China, 2014 saw greater generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and less burning of coal. In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth — including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy — are producing the desired effect of...

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Why Jeb Bush’s Wealth is a Problem in the GOP Primary

by TDDVandy – Being rich.  In the party of the rich, you would think it wouldn’t be a problem, but it is. At least, it’s a problem if you’re actually running for office.  Jeb Bush has a Mitt Romney problem, though maybe it’s not the one you think. Well, okay, maybe he does have that problem.  It’s not a big jump, after all, from suggesting that maybe we ought to repeal the minimum wage to Mitt’s infamous 47 percent comments.  Both Jeb and Mitt seem like they’re totally out of touch with average Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. But being an out-of-touch rich guy is a problem for the out-of-touch rich guys who constitute the GOP’s donor base.  Remember, a lot of them were looking for alternatives to Mitt Romney in 2012, and to John McCain in 2008.  And was there ever a more out-of-touch rich guy than...

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A Constructive Role for Congress on Iran

by Ken Sofer – The United States and its negotiating partners—known collectively as the P5+1—are just days away from a potential agreement to halt Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. This is a critical moment that could peacefully resolve one of the most vexing national security threats the United States has faced over the past two decades. On such a critically important national security issue, the president must lead. Congress should also continue to play a role, but it must be a constructive one. Iran came to the negotiating table because President Barack Obama and Congress worked together to impose some of the most restrictive and effective economic sanctions the world has ever seen, such as the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. President Obama simultaneously assembled an international coalition—including Russia, China, and some of Iran’s biggest customers, such as India and Japan—to stand united against Iran’s nuclear...

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Leap Luxury Buses Start Rolling in San Francisco

By Paul Ridden, Gizmag – This past week, natural gas-fueled buses from private transport company Leap started making their way through San Francisco along the company’s first route, dubbed the Lombard Express. Rather than squeeze as many people as possible into a mobile sweat box, the high-end Leap buses are decked out like a swanky coffee shop and include a number of technologies to support today’s gadget obsessed commuter. Leap says that its buses are specifically aimed at making the commute from home to office a stress-free and comfortable one. Its first route stretches from the Marina district to downtown San Francisco, with four stops along the Lombard Street corridor and four more between Clay Street and Howard Street. The service doesn’t follow a strict timetable, passengers can find the nearest stop and track each bus in real time using an iOS/Android companion app. Information on the number of...

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Florida Man Accused Of Killing His Grandmother Tells Judge He’s a ‘US Agent’

By RANDA MORRIS, Addicting Info – A 27-year-old Florida resident who is accused of killing his grandmother on March 18, appeared in court on Friday. During the hearing, Patrick Campbell told Circuit Court Judge Terence Perkins that he is a “United States Agent.” “I have completed a sanctioned target and I have a sanction in hand for the matter at hand,” Assistant public defender Matt Phillips asked the judge to appoint him to represent Campbell, following the odd statement. Campbell replied: “I have a sanction, I’m fine. Thank you, sir.” Campbell is accused of killing 64-year-old Darlene Robertson, before driving off with her car. Robertson was his grandmother. Neighbors say he was either living with or visiting her, in recent weeks. According to family members, Patrick Campbell suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. An attorney who previously represented Campbell on a driving offense charge, also said she believes he is mentally ill. Here’s video...

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Is the F-35 Fighter Jet a Trillion-Dollar Fiasco?

By Bryan Myers & Sheila MacVicar, Al Jazeera – SUNRISE MANOR, Nev. — On the outskirts of Las Vegas, the full array of U.S. airpower is on display at Nellis Air Force Base — from proven workhorses like the F-15 and F-16 to more modern aircraft like the F-22. Parked alongside the runway, you’ll also find the latest addition to America’s military arsenal. Billed as the future of manned airpower in the U.S., the F-35 is a product of the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history. According to one Pentagon report, the price tag will reach $1.4 trillion. The Pentagon has bought about 150 F-35s, even though the plane isn’t cleared for combat — in military speak, operationally capable. Eventually, the Air Force is expected to buy more than 1,700 F-35s, with the Navy and Marine Corps purchasing nearly 700 more F-35s modified for them. Congress and the military believe...

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The Sunday Funnies & Factoids

by Keith Lennox, All-len-All, 03/29/15 – Happy Sunday.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope this week’s edition of my SF&Fs finds you happy and healthy. Spring has finally arrived after a brutal winter and moods seem to be elevating some….. have a great rest of your weekend and week ahead and, in the meantime, jump into some absolutely useless facts.   1) In 1891, London built a structure designed to surpass the Eiffel Tower in height. It was unsteady, never completed and demolished in 1907. 2) King Harald of Norway vowed to remain unmarried for life unless he could marry his true love, the daughter of a cloth merchant. She became the Queen of Norway. 3) African-American men were not deemed equal members of the Mormon Church until 1978…… Really?  That would imply that The Church of Jeeeebus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are somehow archaic….. tell me it isn’t so. 4) A safe...

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‘Family Values’ Tea Party Republican Accused Of Threatening His Wife

By JAMESON PARKER, Addicting Info – Pro-life, pro-family values conservative and former director of the South Carolina Republican Party Todd Kincannon has been investigated by police after his wife claimed he threatened her well-being and then refused to let her out of his car. How very pro-life, pro-family values of him. According to the Charleston City Paper, police were summoned to Kincannon’s house in Columbia, South Carolina, “regarding a possible domestic incident.” The deputy met with Kincannon, who said he and his wife had gotten in an argument about him “touching leg at a work function.” The report notes that Kincannon “denied any physical altercation and had no signs of such.” The officer then spoke with Kincannon’s wife, Ashely Suzanne Griffith, who said that they “have a history of unreported domestic violence.” She said she was “extremely fearful” of Kincannon and described him as being “extremely ‘traditional’ and...

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Feds Appeal Judge’s Order to Protect Gray Wolves

Crucial part of ecosystem, predators were removed from endangered list in 2011, just starting to repopulate By Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera – The Obama administration and two states plan to appeal a federal judge’s order that returned legal protection to gray wolves in the Great Lakes region. Michigan filed its appeal this month with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., a day after Wisconsin did the same. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed notices earlier in February to strip legal protections for the species, which it said has exceeded recovery goals. This was the latest of four attempts since 2003. In December, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said the management plans of the three states that allow sport hunting of the wolf (Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota) don’t provide enough protection, and noted that the animal had not repopulated its historic range. The gray wolf was removed from the...

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Netanyahu’s Victory Is a Victory for Palestinian Solidarity Movement

by Ajamu Baraka – The cover of respectability that obscured the brutal and immoral reality of the Israeli colonial project may have been permanently ripped away by Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry declaration that if re-elected, there would never be a Palestinian state and his racist rant on election day against his own citizens who happen to be Palestinians. Many people in the U.S. and Western Europe were shocked by Netanyahu’s comments. However, for those of us who are aware of the platform of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, the only thing that was surprising was his candor. The rejection of a viable Palestinian state has always been Likud’s position, a position well known in Israel and the basis of Likud’s appeal, but rarely acknowledged and never discussed in the U.S. corporate media. But it is not just the Likud Party – there has never been a serious commitment to a two-state solution from any...

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Anti-Obamacare Sheriff Now Says He Needs $60,000 For Medical Bills, Still Refuses To Get Insurance

by JAMESON PARKER – Not content to merely cut off his nose to spite his face, an Arizona conservative sheriff has chopped off his whole head to spite Obama. Recently, Sheriff Richard Mack, who brands himself as the “Constitutional Sheriff,” had a major heart attack. Thankfully, he survived, but was left in crippling debt from medical expenses. No problem, you might think. The new healthcare laws under the Affordable Care Act help prevent this exact thing from happening. Mack is just luckily he had his heart attack after the law was enacted. . . .but not so fast. Mack never got health insurance under the ACA. He abstained from becoming insured as an expression of protest against the “socialist” Obamacare. Or as Mack put it on a recent radio show: Well, I don’t care what you call it, it’s a socialistic program that I totally disagreed with and still do, and as...

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Climate, Rick Scott, and Mitch McConnell

by Christopher Brauchli – Blind and naked Ignorance Delivers brawling judgments, unashamed, On all things all day long. — Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Merlin and Vivien There are two ways to attack climate change. One comes from Rick Scott of Florida and the other from Mirthful Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. They attack the same problem with different weapons. It all revolves around what some people call “climate change.” For Rick Scott the words are anathema because they suggest there is such a thing. For Mitch McConnell, attempts to stop it are offensive because those attempts have an adverse financial impact on those who give him money for his campaigns. The two words are meant to describe a phenomenon that many scientists say the world is undergoing. Reports from assorted Florida sources demonstrate how Rick Scott responds to his fear of the words. The most recent example was offered by Barton Bibler, the...

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Sarah Palin Releases Insane Video Letter Rant To ISIS

By  KERRY-ANNE, Addicting Info – Sarah Palin has issued a bizarre rant to wannabe jihadists everywhere in a rambling video posted to her Facebook account. Palin wrote in the post: “As crazy as it sounds, a U.S. citizen who leaves this country to join ISIS, al Qaeda, or any other terrorist organization does not immediately lose his or her citizenship. That needs to change!” The comment accompanied a video in which the former Republican governor of Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate rambles over a montage of past terrorist acts in the U.S. (insert spooky music here) seemingly designed to leave viewers with high blood pressure, anxious sweats and a sense of impending doom. She says in the video: “It’s a simple fact that some people are drawn to ISIS’s brutality. They’re actually inspired by videos of beheadings and burnings. They actually believe ISIS’s religious message. After recent jihadist attacks on Australia,...

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Minnesota Governor Wants To Spend Budget Surplus On Universal Pre-K

By BRYCE COVERT, Think Progress – Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has proposed spending nearly a fifth of his state’s budget surplus on creating a universal preschool program for Minnesota’s 4 year olds. That would make it one of just a handful of states to offer universal, full-day pre-K. At a visit to a preschool classroom on Friday, Dayton called on state lawmakers to pass $348 million in new spending for every public school in the state so they can create preschool programs. That would represent about a fifth of the state’s projected $1.9 billion surplus and is the biggest general fund increase he’s put forward this year. He’s currently focusing on access for all of the state’s 4 year olds, although he said he would be open to more funding for younger ages. The governor’s administration estimates that 47,300 preschoolers would be covered in the first year of the program,...

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Man Wearing “F**K The Police” Shirt in Court Denied 5th Amendment, Wins Trial Anyway

By John Vibes, The Free Thought Project – Citizen journalist Michael Burns recently witnessed a large group of police shutting down a peaceful gathering near Highway 27 in Broward County, Florida, at around 1:30 in the morning. Burns decided to stop and film the encounter, to provide some assistance to the victims who were at risk of having their rights violated by police. The police on the scene reacted very harshly with Burns, and told him that he was not allowed to film on public property. When the action in the area had died down, Burns decided to get the names and badge numbers of a few officers and head home.  When he got into his car to leave, he was trailed by multiple officers, pulled over, and harassed. “As soon as I left, a Broward County Sheriff started following me. I slowed down to 15 under in the...

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Arkansas Gov ‘Will Sign’ Same Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill As Indiana (VIDEO)

by FRANK MINERO – #BoycottIndiana has been a top trending topic since Gov. Mike Pence signed the anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) on Thursday. The Hoosier state and its bigoted governor are getting hammered on social media. A firestorm of criticism along with pledges to boycott the state have been coming in from major US businesses, celebrities, athletes and politicians. Indiana is set to pay a heavy price for discrimination. Arkansas must be a glutton for punishment. They see the massive economic hit Indiana faces and have decided they would like some economic hardship, too. According to Buzzfeed, the Arkansas House and Senate have both passed a bill similar to Indiana’s. On Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that once the House and Senate work out the technical details in the bill, he’ll sign it, “I will sign this bill as amended,” said Hutchinson said in a statement. “This bill...

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Ted Cruz Is Trying To Gut The Clean Air Act And Repeal All Climate Regulation

by EMILY ATKIN – Just a few days before Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first official candidate for president in the 2016 election, he introduced a bill which, if enacted, would repeal all federal climate change regulation in the United States. The American Energy Renaissance Act, also sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), seeks to prevent the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions through any of its executive agencies, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency. It would do so by expressly forbidding any efforts to fight climate change under five laws — The Clean Air Act, The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, The Endangered Species Act, and The Solid Waste Disposal Act. Additionally, if the bill became law, the government would not be able to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur...

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Paul Krugman: Republicans Are Running A Con Game On America

by LEFT WING NATION – One of the best thing’s about Paul Krugman is how he regularly skewers Republican talking points. For instance, Republicans have been running around with their hair on fire for years now, insisting that Obamacare would destroy jobs and that raising taxes on the rich would finish the job. But, as Krugman points out: Well, in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full implementation, the U.S. economy as a whole added 3.3 million jobs — the biggest gain since the 1990s. Second, half a million of those jobs were added in California, which has taken the lead in job creation away from Texas. You’d think that after years of being wrong, and one full year of being breathtakingly wrong, that Republicans would at least begrudgingly admit that maybe Democrats have a point. After all, California’s Governor Jerry Brown raised taxes on the rich. The result? After...

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Monsanto Demands World Health Organization Retract Report Saying Roundup Linked to Cancer

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Last week, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) released a report, compiled by a team of scientists, that said glyphosate — sold by Monsanto in the herbicide Roundup — was probably linked to cancer. This week, Monsanto is demanding the WHO retract the report, essentially repudiating years of research by multiple scientists. Monsanto is claiming the report was biased and that glyphosate products like Roundup are safe when the directions are followed. The company says that the WHO report contradicts regulatory findings, which can, of course, be influenced by politics and lobbying. So far, WHO has not responded. “We question the quality of the assessment,” Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president of global regulatory affairs, told Reuters. “The WHO has something to explain.” Miller claimed that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was provided by Monsanto with information on glyphosate’s safety, and that it ignored Monsanto’s input....

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Ambitious Plan Unveiled to Create New Egyptian Capital

By Adam Williams, Gizmag – Architecture projects don’t come much bigger or more challenging than building an entire new capital city from scratch, but that’s what the Egyptian Government, Skidmore, Owings & Merril (SOM), and international group of investors Capital City Partners Limited intend with the Capital Cairo project. The recently proposed city, seven times the size of Paris, and twelve times bigger than Manhattan, would measure approximately 700 sq km (270 sq miles) and be home to 7 million residents. Planning of the as-yet unnamed city is being led by SOM, and if it goes ahead, it would be located to the east of the current city of Cairo and serve as something of a pressure valve for the existing capital’s ever-growing population. The new city would house 7 million people and create an estimated 1.5 million new jobs. “While we are at the earliest stages of design,...

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New Fracking Rules on Public Lands ‘A Giveaway to Oil and Gas Industry,’ Advocates Say

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Earlier this week, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said that the new regulations for fracking on federal lands from the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would be released “within the next few days,” following a four-year process that included receiving more than 1.5 million public comments. Friday, she unveiled those new rules, which take effect in 90 days. The BLM claimed they would “support safe and responsible hydraulic fracturing on public and American Indian lands.” “Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” said Jewell. “This updated and strengthened rule provides a framework of safeguards and disclosure protocols that will allow for the continued responsible development of our federal oil and gas resources. As we continue to offer millions of acres of public lands for conventional and...

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7 Entities That May Boycott Indiana Over New LGBT Discrimination Law

By KAY STEIGER, Think Progress – In the wake of Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) signing a law that essentially allows discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the state, companies are starting to consider pulling their business from the state. Though Pence has tried to insist that the law is about “religious liberty” and not discrimination against LGBT discrimination in the state, that doesn’t seem to wash with many in the state — including the Chamber of Commerce, which has said the law will bring unwanted attention to the state. Many high-profile companies and entities that host major events in the state are starting to reconsider their business. CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS Yelp Following the signing of the law, the crowd-sourcing review site released a statement saying, “it is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses...

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‘You Might Be a Terrorist If…’: Leaked Document Reveals Secret TSA Check List

“The SPOT program is bullshit,” the manager told The Intercept. “Complete bullshit.” by Jon Queally – Obtained exclusively by The Intercept and described in a news story on Friday, a leaked Transportation Safety Administration document reveals the “suspicious signs”—including excessive yawning, a cold hard stare, or a rigid posture—that TSA agents have been trained to look for as airline passengers make their way through U.S. airports in the post-9/11 era. The document details how a 92-point checklist for TSA agent is divided into numerous categories with a point score corresponding to the various kinds of personal traits or behaviors exhibited by unwitting travelers. Click to see larger image. (via The Intercept) According to The Intercept: The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially...

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Ferguson-Area Police Agree To Stop Tear Gassing Without ‘Reasonable Warning’ And Exit Route

by NICOLE FLATOW – Protesters in the Ferguson, Missouri, area got another win against local police Thursday in a settlement to curb the use of tear gas and other chemical agents on protesters. The agreement dictates that police can no longer deploy tear gas on protesters and other peaceful crowds without first providing warning, nor can they deploy chemical agents in spaces with no exit route. The agreement comes after a judge preliminarily blocked the use of tear gas without warning, finding that it was likely First Amendment violation. U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson held that police must stop using tear gas “except as a last resort to prevent significant threats to public safety.” Plaintiffs in the lawsuit had alleged that tear gas was used without warning and while they were peacefully assembling, and that the gas, smoke, pepper spray, and other chemical agents were used to disperse protesters rather...

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High School Punishes Student President For Allowing Arabic Translation Of Pledge Of Allegiance

By JACK JENKINS, Think Progress – A New York high school is mired in controversy this week after a student delivered the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic, sparking outrage among classmates and locals who believe the pledge should only be delivered in English. According to the Times Herald-Record, Pine Bush High School opened their announcements on Wednesday morning by allowing a student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic, part of the school’s celebration of National Foreign Language Week. But students say the pledge, which was broadcast over the school’s intercom, resulted in “catcalls and angry denunciations” in several classrooms and online. “The pledge should always be said in English,” one student tweeted. “They could’ve just said ‘Good Morning’ in a different language each day.” Local members of the American Legion, a veterans organization, also blasted the decision. “This is America, and we speak English in America,” post Commander...

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Obamacare Makes A Stunning Economic Impact: New Companies, More Jobs

by DEBORAH MONTESANO – The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is five years old — on Monday, March 23rd, to be precise. PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) has delivered a walloping good birthday present, just in time. The company’s Health Research Institute released a report on the ACA’s impact. In spite of all the naysayers, in spite of all the obstacles, in spite of — basically — the Republicans in Congress, the Affordable Care Act has spurred enormous growth in the healthcare industry. The report makes this remarkable statement: Not since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has a piece of legislation sparked such significant changes in a leading sector of the economy. Since the act became law, over 90 new healthcare companies have been created out of the opportunities it provides. According to Bloomberg, that translates into 6200 new jobs. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is fond of calling the ACA “the president’s job-killing healthcare law,” but the...

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Drug Labeling Policy Makes Generic Drugs More Dangerous, And Patients Can’t Even Sue

By TARA CULP-RESSLER, Think Progress – Several Americans who say they’ve been dangerously harmed by generic drugs — and were unaware of the risk because the drug maker did not publicize those potential safety concerns — are pressuring the FDA to crack down on this sector of pharmaceutical industry, which is currently shielded from lawsuits. At a public hearing on Friday, patients will ask the Food and Drug Administration to implement a rule change for generic drug labels that would resolve a controversial fight over the issue that’s stretched on for the past several years. Pharmaceutical companies are required to track any adverse health effects that occur as a result of using their products, since the full range of potential side effects don’t always emerge in clinical trials before drugs are officially approved. But, thanks to the complex nature of prescription drug regulations, generic drug makers are not currently required to...

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GOP Rep Gets Surprise on Facebook After Asking for Obamacare Horror Stories

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers posted an image on her official Facebook page, slamming the Affordable Care Act on the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing it into law. She asked constituents to share their Obamacare nightmare stories and well, the response probably wasn’t what she expected. Below are a small sample of the comments constituents left on her page: “My story is that I once knew 7 people who couldn’t get health insurance. Now they all have it, thanks to the ACA and President Obama, and their plans are as good as the one my employer provides–and they pay less for them. Now, that’s not the kind of story you want to hear. You want to hear made-up horror stories. I don’t know anyone with one of those stories.” “I work for cancer care northwest. We actually have more patients with insurance and...

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Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill That Gives Same-Sex Couples Social Security Benefits

by RYAN DENSON – Thanks to the Senate, same-sex couples are one step closer to receiving  Social Security and veterans benefits. In a vote of 57-43, eleven Republicans joined every Democrat. The amendment, which is attached to a larger funding bill, was sponsored by Hawaii’s Democratic Senator Brian Schatz and was spearheaded by Democratic Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Patty Murray of Washington. The amendment’s purpose was to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.” The measure does not necessarily extend these benefits to same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states because Federal code determines who gets the benefits based on where the couple reside, not what state they were married in. The eleven Republicans who voted for the amendment were:...

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Report Says Wall Street Ready to Punish Dems over Elizabeth Warren

By Jon Queally, Common Dreams – What could she possibly be doing right? According to exlusive reporting by Reuters on Friday, big Wall Street banks are so upset with Elizabeth Warren’s call to “un-rig” the economy and proposals for stronger financial regulations that discussions are underway about withholding campaign contributions to Senate Democrats as a form of “symbolic” protest against the freshman senator from Massachusetts. Citing sources familiar with the situation, representatives of some of the nation’s largest banks — including Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America — have actively considered putting pressure on the Democratic establishment by making a coordinated threat to withold campaign contributions unless the populist rhetoric coming from Sen. Warren and her colleague from Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown, is toned down. Reuters reports: Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington...

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Report: Germanwings Co-pilot Sought Psychiatric Help

Documents released by Germany’s air transport regulator suggest Andreas Lubitz suffered from “bout of heavy depression” The Germanwings co-pilot said to have deliberately crashed his Airbus with 149 others aboard into the French Alps suffered serious depression six years ago, German daily Bild reported. Andreas Lubitz, 27, sought psychiatric help for “a bout of heavy depression” in 2009 and was still getting assistance from doctors, the mass-readership publication reported on Friday, quoting documents from Germany’s air transport regulator Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA). The report said LBA received the information from Lufthansa, Germanwing’s parent company. The Airbus, with 144 passengers and six crew members on board, was flying from Barcelona, Spain, to the German city of Dusseldorf when it crashed into the French Alps. Carsten Spohr, the CEO of Lufthansa, said that Lubitz had suspended his pilot training, which began in 2008, but did not give more details. Lubitz later continued and was...

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Secretive Group Destroys Candidates’ Chances, Leaves Few Fingerprints

NRA-launched Law Enforcement Alliance of America targets state races By Rachel Baye, Center for Public Integrity – LAKE RIDGE, Va. —  Wedged between a nail salon and a pizza shop in a strip mall about 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., is a postal supply store where a small brass mailbox sits stuffed with unopened envelopes. It’s the unlikely home of one of the country’s most mysterious political hit squads. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America once had offices in a nearby office park, but it abandoned them more than a year ago. It hasn’t filed required IRS reports in two years, and its leaders, once visible on television and in congressional hearings, have all but vanished. But the nonprofit that calls itself  “the nation’s largest coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims and concerned citizens” still has teeth. It has succeeded in helping knock out 12 state-level candidates in...

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Louisiana Town Seeks to Arrest People for Sagging Pants & Daisy Dukes

By Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project – Opelousas, La. – In a striking example of authoritarian overreach, a Louisiana Police Chief, Donald Thompson asked the city council to enact an ordinance banning sagging pants on men and women. “It’s something that I think that’s very disrespectful here in this city for the citizens of the city of Opelousas. It’s inappropriate, and it’s time that some city ordinance is put in place to enforce that,” Thompson told KATC. Thompson claims he is ready to take on any legal challenges to the proposed ordinance, with the mayor and city legal advisor stating they will look into the legalities of the ordinance, according to Daily World. “I’m not afraid of the ACLU,” Thompson said. “I’m ready to go to court. It’s disrespectful to the city for this type of attire to be worn in public buildings, stores and whatnot.” The ACLU...

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This University Decided To Praise Women And Minorities Losing Out To White Men

By SARAH, Addicting Info – The latest cover of the University of North Georgia’s professional and continuing education course catalog is going to make many people shake their heads. The cover depicts two white men in business attire winning the race and far in the lead over a woman and an African-American man. It reads: “Why Follow When You Can LEAD! Start Training NOW!” And the title of the Catalog reads “SUCCESS” in big, bold letters. Okay, first of all, how did this catalog cover make it through the marketing department without anyone noticing this obvious depiction of inequality.  Someone didn’t do their job. Secondly, what the f*ck were they thinking in general when placing the people in the ad, unless of course, it was on purpose. The unfortunate truth in this advertisement translates to the real world, a real world one would hope places of higher education would want to...

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5 Reasons You’ll Miss Harry Reid

by KIRA LERNER – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced on Friday that he would not be seeking reelection, putting an end date on an almost 30 year congressional run. Reid has long been a champion of progressive reforms, spearheading efforts to reform the Senate, push through measures to guarantee equal protections for Americans and pass the Affordable Care Act. Recently, the 75-year-old Senator united the Democratic Party in supporting President Obama’s immigration policies, even amid strong opposition from the new Republican majority. “The decision that I have made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it has nothing to with my being minority leader and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected,” Reid said in a video message Friday in which he thanked the people of Nevada and said he wants to “go out at the top of my game.” Here is...

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#BoycottIndiana: Big Names React To Passage Of Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill (TWEETS)

by FRANK MINERO – Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law on Thursday and America is outraged. The act legalizes biblically inspired bigotry. Now Indiana based businesses and organizations have the right to refuse service to those offending their religious beliefs. The law is intended to allow discrimination against the LGBT community, but atheists, Muslims and divorcees could be targeted. Really, anyone violating a biblical passage is at risk for discrimination. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t okay when the bible was used to justify slavery. It wasn’t okay when religion was used to deny marriage to interracial couples. It’s not okay to use the bible to justify bigotry toward same-sex couples today. America agrees and the floodgates of outrage have opened. The hashtag #BoycottIndiana is trending on Twitter. Celebrities, CEOs, organizations, politicians and athletes are lashing out at Indiana and Gov. Pence over this...

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Coalition Air Strikes Target Houthi Stronghold in Yemen (VIDEO)

Saudi-led forces bomb military bases controlled by the rebels as civilian death toll reportedly rises to 39 Warplanes from a coalition led by Saudi Arabia have bombed the stronghold of Yemen’s Houthi fighters with strikes targeting arms depots and a number of military camps controlled by the group. Air raids early on Friday targeted Saada, the stronghold of the Houthis, and focused on locations along Yemen’s porous border with Saudi Arabia. Sources told Al Jazeera the air raids struck arms depots in the Malaheez and Hafr Sufyan regions of Saada and an army camp used by Houthi fighters in Kitaf. The air campaign also targeted the al-Sana army camp in the Arhab region northeast of Sanaa, run by commanders loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Tariq Air Base in Taiz, central Yemen; and the presidential compound in the south of the capital, which was seized by the Houthis...

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GOP Presidential Candidates Are Now Opposing Something That Doesn’t Exist

by IGOR VOLSKY – At least two potential GOP presidential candidates have promised to reject any deal President Obama signs to contain Iran’s nuclear program, even though the administration has yet to ink a final agreement with Iran. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) replied “absolutely” when asked if he would reject an agreement that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium if he wins the presidency, adding that he would do so “on day one.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) echoed the same sentiment last week, explaining that “any agreement that allows Iran to retain enrichment capability, leaves in place the infrastructure they will need in five, ten, eight, whenever they decide to ramp up enrichment and produce a weapon.” Both likely presidential contenders claim that the only deal they would support would require Iran to fully eliminate its nuclear enrichment capabilities, a position...

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