Deeply Conservative Wyoming Loses ACLU Chapter

Organization’s proponents say closure is a blow to civil rights and liberties in Equality State By Nathan Martin, Al Jazeera – LARAMIE, Wyo. — Linda Burt, the executive director of the Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union, had planned to push hard for juvenile justice reform during the upcoming state legislative session. Wyoming is the only state from which the federal government withholds funds under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act because it fails to meet the law’s standards. She prepared a presentation for an April 14 meeting of the legislature’s joint judiciary committee that outlined how most Wyoming children are processed in adult courts, many are jailed alongside adults and few receive protections afforded by traditional juvenile systems. But Burt never gave her presentation. On April 10, the ACLU’s national office shut down its Wyoming chapter, laying her off and two other employees, leaving just one grant-funded staffer...

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Move Over Shale, Solar Is Shining Brighter With Each Passing Day

Developments show how booming demand and support for solar is shaking up energy paradigm by Jon Queally – Move over dirty fossil fuels, the solar revolution is coming. That, at least, is the buried headline contained in new reporting from Reuters  which looks at the ability of the solar industry to upend the world’s energy system in ways similar to recent innovations which allowed oil and gas companies to squeeze previously unattainable deposits from underground shale formations. With a focus on Japan, Reuters catalogs how the rising capacity and falling prices of solar energy—even as it currently survives without contributions from a fleet of dormant nuclear plants —has led the country to turn off its “giant oil-fired power plants” one after another. The news agency reports: Japan is retiring nearly 2.4 gigawatts of expensive and polluting oil-fired energy plants by March next year and switching to alternative fuels. Japan’s 43 nuclear...

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Before You Decide To Spend $99 On The Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight, Watch This 57 Second Interview

by JUDD LEGUM – The fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is one of the most anticipated matches of all time. Tickets to the fight in Las Vegas on May 2, which started at $1500, sold out in 60 seconds. (The cheapest ticket currently available on StubHub is over $5,000. Floor seats are going for more than $100,000 each.) As many as 4 million people will spend around $100 to watch the fight on Pay-Per-View. The fighters are expected to divide up roughly $300 million for 36 minutes of work. But along with the hype is a sobering truth: one of the fighters, Floyd Mayweather, has a long and disturbing history of domestic violence. The best overview of Mayweather’s history is this article by Deadspin, which is worth reading in its entirety. In short, Mayweather has been repeatedly accused of domestic violence since 2002. He has pled guilty to...

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8 States Dealing With Huge Increases in Fracking Earthquakes

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – A new report, released Thursday from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), identified eight states in the eastern and central U.S. where fracking operations have led to dramatic increases in earthquakes, primarily from the injection of the wastewater byproduct of drilling operations into underground wells. This process can activate faults that in some cases were previously unknown. The injection of fracking wastewater into underground wells has exploded the amount of earthquake activity in previously inactive regions of the county. Image credit: USGS “Earthquake activity has sharply increased since 2009 in the central and eastern United States. The increase has been linked to industrial operations that dispose of wastewater by injecting it into deep wells,” the report says bluntly, in a rebuke to the earthquake deniers in the oil and gas industry, such as fracking founder Harold Hamm, who pressured Oklahoma officials to stay silent about the connection. While Oklahoma, Texas...

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New Website Highlights Businesses That Don’t Want To Serve Gay People

by ZACK FORD – The Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBT hate group, has launched a new site called “Free To Believe,” a new effort to emphasize “religious freedom” as a means of denying LGBT equality. The site is a catalog of the stories of 20 individuals, all of whom either run businesses that are committed to refusing service to same-sex couples or have otherwise experienced public backlash for opposing LGBT equality. Here’s a quick glimpse at the ways FRC wants people to be “free to believe”: Jack Phillips (Masterpiece Cakes): This Colorado baker refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. What FRC doesn’t mention is that the refusal took place before any conversation about the design of the cake could take place. Phillips was found in violation of state law, but is still fighting the ruling with support from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Crystal &...

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Poll: Young Liberals Rally Behind Hillary Clinton But GOP Lacks Strong Millennial Appeal

Young conservatives show the most support for Ben Carson by Elizabeth Nolan Brown – “Millennials Favor Hillary Clinton in Harvard Poll,” stated a Bloomberg Politics headline this morning. But don’t despair just yet: the results of Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) poll are a bit more nuanced than that. Among young Democrats—those 18- to 29-year-olds who said they’re likely to vote in the 2016 Democratic primaries—Clinton does emerge as a clear front-runner; 47 percent said they back the 67-year-old Democrat in her bid for president. But that still leaves more than half of young liberal voters who don’t dig Clinton, not to mention all the millennials who don’t plan to vote Democrat at all. Overall, 55 percent of the more than 3,000 millennials surveyed said they would rather see a Democrat in the White House in 2017 than a Republican.  Black and Hispanic millennials show much more support for...

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Congressman Wants To Lift Restrictions on VA Doctors Prescribing Medical Marijuana

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – This week, when the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider the FY 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) plans to offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana. Currently, the Veterans Administration (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. Congressman Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down. The amendment is currently co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). “While there is no single approach to aiding our nation’s veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain...

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Clinton’s Weak Campaign Finance “Pillar”

by Rob Hager, Truthout | Op-Ed – 1. First Bite Hillary Clinton’s first official campaign trip produced a widely quoted soundbite. On April 14, she announced to a community college roundtable in Monticello, Iowa: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all – even if it takes a constitutional amendment.” The Washington Post identified this statement as “one of several pillars of her 2016 presidential campaign.” CBS’ headline for its story on “unaccountable money” featured Clinton’s positioning it as one of the “four big fights that I think we have to take on,” the others being the evergreen apple-pie subjects of the economy, family and national security. Her communications director, elaborating on Clinton’s spare comments, enthused “It’s something she’s really concerned about.” Considering the months spent crafting her campaign’s four policy pillars, and also the way the message...

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Drugs, Guns, or Life in Prison

by Christopher Brauchli – Hanging was the worst use a man could be put to. — Sir Henry Wotton, The Disparity Between Buckinham and Essex Herewith a study of the activities of two state legislatures that have dealt with identical problems in quite different ways. The two legislatures are in the states of Utah and Nebraska and the reader may decide which of the two is the more enlightened. The problem both states hope to address is that posed by the unavailability of drugs with which to rid society of the unwanted, after the necessary legal steps have been taken to demonstrate that we are members of a civilized society and that the object of the actions taken is not and should, therefore, be dealt with. The problem was demonstrated by Clayton Lockett, formerly of Oklahoma. The execution of Mr. Lockett was unpleasant for both the onlookers and Mr. Lockett. This...

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House GOP Leadership Eyeing Obamacare Fix Instead of Repeal via Reconciliation

by Joan McCarter – Heads are going to be exploding all over in the House with a report that House Republican leadership is considering passing a pre-emptive fix to Obamacare, just in case the Supreme Court decides to strike down subsidies to people buying health insurance on the federal exchange. This is just what the ultra-far right wing of the party (as opposed to the far-far-right that composes the rest of it) has been worried about. They want repeal and repeal only, but it looks like they might lose this time, as Greg Sargent reports. The Washington Examiner reports today that Republicans are mulling still another response to the eventual possibility that the Supreme Court might gut subsidies for millions in the federal exchange states.Specifically, they may try to pass a “contingency fix” to keep those subsidies going—but they may do so before the Court hands down its ruling in King...

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Two Congressmen Host ‘One Of The Most Notorious Bigots In The World’

by JUSTIN SALHANI – Two members of Congress hosted Dutch Politician and founder of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom Geert Wilders Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) invitation for Wilders to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society as “deeply distressing.” “Muslims can be moderates. But there is no moderate Islam,” Wilders said to the crowd. “Islam has changed Europe beyond recognition.” Wilders has a history of using discriminatory speech, particularly against Muslim immigrants and Islam, and he did so again at Wednesday’s speech by comparing the religion to National Socialism (Nazism). “Mr. Wilders is entitled to express his opinions, but for an elected member of the House of Representatives to provide a platform for a man who is practically an international symbol of anti-Muslim hatred not only lends him credibility, it ill-serves the goal of having a Congress that lives up to...

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Senators Approve Bill To Stop EPA From Using ‘Secret Science’

by EMILY ATKIN – A Senate committee has advanced legislation that would change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to craft regulations intended to protect the environment and public health, the Hill reported Tuesday. On party line votes, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-9 to approve the “Secret Science Reform Act,” a bill to prohibit the EPA from using science that includes private data, or data that can’t be easily reproduced. The bill has been pushed strongly by House Republicans for the last two years, but this is the first time it has been advanced by the Senate. It is sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). The purpose of the Secret Science bill, according to its House sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), is to stop “hidden and flawed” science from being the basis of EPA regulations. However, many scientific organizations have disagreed with this characterization. For...

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NRA Claims Good Guy With Gun Saved Journalist In Baltimore; Journalist: Actually, It Was Gang Members

by JAMESON PARKER – It’s no secret that the National Rifle Association, America’s biggest and most noxious gun rights lobbying group, uses fear to sell firearms. Sometimes, that means intentionally playing on racial tension. Sometimes on imaginary government tyranny. But almost always by exploiting national tragedies. After the people of Baltimore erupted in protest over the death of a black man who had his back broken while in police custody, the NRA pounced on the situation to promote guns as the very best safety blanket people can have. To illustrate the point, they cited a story written by conservative website Breitbart News that suggested a responsible gun owner had saved a journalist from a “mob of rioters.” The NRA was so proud that they even shared the story on social media: Almost immediately, the clean, NRA-friendly narrative – shotgun-wielding good guy watches over helpless unarmed journalist – started to disintegrate...

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Albuquerque DA Told to Fear for her Safety, Courtesy of the Police

By emobile, Daily Kos – Here’s some more scary news from the Duke City, and it’s for real. Not from any of its famous TV series. The county district attorney overseeing Albuquerque Police has gone on the record in the ABQ Free Press, saying that sympathetic police have informed her that others on the force may intend to do her physical harm.  She told the recently established alternative weekly: “I don’t think they’re going to kill me, but I have been told to fear for my safety.” The DA, Kari Brandenburg, has been under massive pressure from the APD thanks to her decision to charge two officers with murder in the death of homeless camper James Boyd last spring. The image of Boyd being shot down while retreating from police in the foothills east of the city went viral, leading to major demonstrations locally and heightened interest shortly thereafter...

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Two Spectacular Videos of the Calbuco Volcano Eruption in Chile

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – The internet is full of stunning images and videos of the eruption of Calbuco volcano in southern Chile. The 6,500-foot Calbuco erupted twice on Wednesday and again early yesterday with an unbelievable lightning storm. The volcano last erupted in 1972 and is considered one of the top three most potentially dangerous among Chile’s 90 active volcanos, according to The Weather Channel. It’s quite a coincidence that the eruption just happened because Saturday’s episode of Angry Planet features host George Kourounis descending into one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The episode addresses the false claim made by climate deniers that volcanoes contribute more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than the burning of fossil fuels. Volcanoes are such a cool natural phenomena! Literally, cool since they temporarily cool the atmosphere with the sulfur dioxide and other aerosols that they emit when they erupt. Our members of Congress should probably brush...

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Minnesota Republicans Pass Bill Banning Cities From Raising The Minimum Wage

By JAMESON PARKER, Addicting Info – Republicans in Minnesota’s House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that focuses on ensuring workers making at or around minimum wage have absolutely no chance to see their wages increase without federal intervention. And in case that didn’t get their “screw the poor” message across loud and clear, they tacked on an extra measure that would slash the state’s minimum wage for tip employees – because if there is one group of people making too much money in this country, it’s restaurant wait staff. In an all-too-common turn of events, support for the minimum-wage measure was “divided down party lines” – with Republicans taking on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge: The bill would create a two-tiered minimum wage, with a lower rate for employees who receive tips of at least $4 per hour, while also prohibiting cities or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from enacting...

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Chief Justice John Roberts Votes to Limit Campaign Funding for Judges

by Joan McCarter – Now this is intriguing. In a decision released Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s liberals to restrict fund-raising by judicial candidates. Yes, the same John Roberts who voted with conservatives on Citizens United and McCutcheon, the cases that gut most campaign spending limits. Judges, Roberts has decided, “are not politicians.” The justices ruled 5-4 that Florida’s judicial code of conduct can ban candidates from asking for donations. As a result, in 30 states that elect state and local judges, restrictions on fundraising by judicial candidates can remain in place.Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by the court’s four liberal justices in an unusual alignment against the other four conservatives. He wrote for the majority that “judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot.” While he acknowledged that Florida’s code allows a judicial candidate’s political committee to...

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National Security Whistleblowers Call for Repeal of Patriot Act

Group charges that federal government’s ‘war on whistleblowers’ has shredded the US Constitution by Lauren McCauley – Prominent national security whistleblowers are calling for the full repeal of the USA Patriot Act, charging that under that legislation the federal government has decimated the U.S. Constitution and warning that unless action is taken, there is no end in sight to government secrecy and manipulation. The group, which included former National Security Agency (NSA) official William Binney and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, appeared Monday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. to voice their backing for H.R. 1466, the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which was recently introduced by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). The bill would repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 while installing a number of provisions to safeguard people’s privacy and force the government to account for surveillance activities. The legislation...

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On This Day, Apr 30, 1927 – First Federal Prison for Women Opens

The Federal Industrial Institution for Women, the first women’s federal prison, opens in Alderson, West Virginia. All women serving federal sentences of more than a year were to be brought here. Run by Dr. Mary B. Harris, the prison’s buildings, each named after social reformers, sat atop 500 acres. One judge described the prison as a “fashionable boarding school.” In some respects the judge was correct: The overriding purpose of the prison was to reform the inmates, not punish them. The prisoners farmed the land and performed office work in order to learn how to type and file. They also cooked and canned vegetables and fruits. Other women’s prisons had similar ideals. At Bedford Hills in New York, there were no fences, and the inmates lived in cottages equipped with their own kitchen and garden. The prisoners were even given singing lessons. Reform efforts had a good chance for...

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It’s a Beautiful Day, Let’s Play Two

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Granite Mountain Sunset

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How the FBI Helped Prosecutors Railroad Criminal Defendants

Forensic examiners provided flawed testimony in hundreds of cases by A. Barton Hinkle – “And this also,” says Marlow in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “has been one of the dark places of the Earth.” He was referring to England. Those words are brought to mind by a pair of events: An important speech by FBI Director James Comey, and the bureau’s admission, less than a week later, that its forensic analysts had been helping prosecutors railroad defendants. Comey—at one time managing assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia—gave a speech at the Holocaust Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner, explaining why he makes every new agent visit that museum. In it he mentions that on a recent flight he had been rereading Holocaust survivor Viktor Frank’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”(n.b.: not reading, but re-reading), and he has wondered how the Holocaust is “consistent with the concept of a loving God.” Comey also finds two lessons...

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Why Catholicism’s Relationship With LGBT Rights Is Getting Super Awkward

by JACK JENKINS – For almost two years now, both progressives and conservatives have written at length about Pope Francis’ new, more conciliatory tone towards LGBT people. In addition to his famous response to a question about gay priests in 2013 — “Who am I to judge?” — many liberal Catholics have praised the pontiff’s willingness to appoint more moderate bishops than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. In the United States, this has given rise to a fresh crop of leaders more concerned with tackling poverty than, say, opposing same-sex marriage. The prevailing logic is that this new breed of bishop won’t necessarily change Church teaching on homosexuality, but if they simply avoid old “culture wars” altogether, they can remove Catholicism from protracted battles over LGBT rights and maybe even reorient the church’s energy away from anti-gay theology over time. In practice, however, this emerging band of American bishops hasn’t actually...

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Texas’ ‘Poll Tax’ Goes On Trial

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – A powerful federal court is now considering the fate of one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country: a bill Texas passed in 2011 that sharply limits the number of documents voters can use to prove their identity at the ballot box. In October, a judge struck down the law, calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax.” But Texas appealed that ruling, and the Supreme Court gave them the go-ahead to implement the law in last November’s midterm elections, where it disenfranchised hundreds of eligible voters. On Tuesday, the state argued at the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans that there is no proof lawmakers passed the law to intentionally suppress minority votes, and no proof any eligible voter has been denied the right to vote as a result. Scott Keller of the Texas solicitor general’s office noted that those without ID can still vote by...

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The Supreme Court Spends An Impossibly Ghoulish Hour Discussing How States Should Kill People

by IAN MILLHISER – WASHINGTON, DC — The drug midazolam may or may not be effective in preventing death row inmates from experiencing the excruciating pain caused by the other drugs Oklahoma wants to use to execute three inmates. This pain, which Justice Elena Kagan likens to the sensation of being burnt alive, would violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment under any plausible interpretation of the Eighth Amendment. The issue in Glossip v. Gross, which the justices heard on Wednesday, is whether very high doses of midazolam dull the pain of execution sufficiently to render Oklahoma’s methods constitutional. Early on in the argument, Justice Sonia Sotomayor cites the case of Joseph Rudolph Wood, an Arizona inmate who spent two hours in apparent agony during a botched execution that began with a massive dose of midazolam. Almost immediately, however, the most conservative justices question whether anyone can really know...

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America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Breaks . . . Ground

By Anastasia Pantsios , EcoWatch – America’s smallest state claimed a big spot in the country’s renewable energy development history. Monday, Deepwater Wind broke ground on the country’s first offshore wind project, which will be built at Block Island, Rhode Island. The five turbines will produce 30 megawatts of power, enough to provide electricity to all the homes and businesses on the island as well as send power to the mainland through an undersea cable. The project, which will be operative next year, is expected to create 300 construction jobs. “The importance of this day cannot be overstated,” said Emily Norton, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Block Island Wind Farm is our Apollo 11 moment. I am going to remember this day, and tell my kids and grandkids that I was there when the first U.S. offshore wind farm was built—that when we had a choice between bequeathing...

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In Bizarre Stunt, Governor Pretends To Sign Extreme Abortion Ban For Group Of Teenagers

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – Three weeks ago, Kansas became the first state in the country to ban a specific type of second-trimester abortion procedure, after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a so-called “dismemberment” ban in a closed-door ceremony. But Brownback isn’t stopping there. According to a photo tweeted out by Brownback’s office, the governor was flanked by large photos of fetuses as he approved Senate Bill 95 at the beginning of April. A few days later, Oklahoma followed in Kansas’ footsteps and approved an identical measure. Perhaps seeking to solidify Kansas’ status as the first state to venture into this area, Brownback is now taking it a step further. On Tuesday, the governor traveled to four different cities across Kansas to reenact the signing of SB 95 in public ceremonies that teenagers could attend. The events took place at a Catholic church education building and three Catholic high schools. “I am profoundly...

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Fight Over Domestic Spying Heats Up in Congress with ‘USA Freedom Act’

With Patriot Act reauthorization quickly coming, fight over surveillance reform shows in competing bills by Jon Queally – A bipartisan bill, designed to rein in the bulk collection of the private communications of American citizens, was introduced Tuesday by members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, ahead of an upcoming expiration date for key Patriot Act provisions that have given legal authority to some of the most controversial domestic surveillance practices revealed over the last two years. With a June 1 expiration for Sections 206 and 215 of the USA Patriot Act, initially rammed through Congress in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the revisions contained in the new reform bill—submitted as the USA Freedom Act of 2015 (pdf)—would reauthorize certain aspects of that law while seeking to reform ways the government uses its spying capabilities. A similar reform bill was introduced last year in Congress, but ultimately...

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Second U.S. Ice Cream Maker Pulls All Products After Listeria Threat

HealthDay News — Last week, for the second time, a major U.S. manufacturer of ice cream has recalled all of its products because of possible contamination with the bacteria listeria. Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams said Thursday that it was recalling all of its ice creams, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches, and temporarily closing all of its scoop shops. The company said in a statement that it took the action after possible listeria contamination was found in one random sample that had been tested by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. The company said it wasn’t aware of any illnesses caused by its products, and added that it issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution.” Listeria — officially known as Listeria monocytogenes — is a bacteria that can cause stomach illness, although it typically does not cause severe illness in healthy people. However, it can pose serious health...

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Navy’s X-47B Completes First Unmanned Refueling Exercise

By David Szondy, Gizmag – The US Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft has gone out on a high note (and added yet another acronym to the military lexicon) by conducting the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) exercise. The autonomous aircraft rendezvoused with an Omega K-707 tanker plane off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, successfully taking on 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of jet fuel as it completed the project’s final test objective. At a press conference, Captain Beau Duarte, the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager, confirmed that on April 22, the X-47B carried out the last of four refueling exercises. During Wednesday’s test, the robotic aircraft became the first to autonomously approach a tanker, secure a refueling drogue, take on fuel, and disconnect. This was the last in a series of demonstrations to show that an unmanned aircraft can carry out standard Carrier...

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Gene Manipulation Boosts Tree Growth Rate and Size

By Darren Quick, Gizmag – Trees may be a renewable resource, but the rate of this renewal may not meet the increasing demand for plant biomass. But now researchers at the University of Manchester have potentially found a way to boost tree stocks by using gene manipulation to increase the size and growth rate of trees. A research team, led by Professor Simon Turner from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences, successfully modified two genes in poplar trees, called PXY and CLE, which are responsible for the rate of cell division in tree trunks. Poplar trees are already fast growing, which has led to interest in them as an energy crop and for CO2 mitigation, but the researchers say that causing the genes to overexpress resulted in the trees growing twice as fast as normal, while also ending up taller, wider and with more leaves. “Although, this needs be...

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Carl Stokes to CNN’s Erin Burnett: Thugs? Just Call Them N#ggers Then… (VIDEO)

by Frank Vyan Walton – The video title says that Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes “Explodes” when CNN’s Erin Burnett asked him “Isn’t ‘Thugs’ the right word to describe these ?”  Actually Carl was pretty calm as he de-Whitesplained what she really meant and was truly asking. “No, it’s not the right word to call our children ‘thugs,’” Stokes said. “These are children who have been set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us.”“But how does that justify what they did?” Burnett countered. “That’s a sense of right and wrong. They know it’s wrong to steal and burn down a CVS and an old persons’ home. I mean, come on.” “Come on? Just call them n*ggers. Just call them n*ggers,” Stokes told her. “No, we don’t have to call them by names such as that. We don’t have to do that. That is exactly what...

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shreds Opponent Of Same-Sex Marriage In Court

by DEBORAH MONTESANO – Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch crossed swords with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in court on Tuesday. He’s probably still feeling the sting. The Supreme Court heard 90 minutes of oral arguments on two issues regarding same-sex marriage. The first is whether same-sex couples are guaranteed the right to marry by the U.S. Constitution. The second is whether states that don’t recognize same-sex marriages are required by the Constitution to recognize those marriages when they’ve been performed in a state where they are legal. Justice Ginsburg has left little doubt that she is a firm supporter of equal rights for members of the LGBT community. During the hearing, she took Bursch, the lawyer who is trying to preserve states’ bans on same-sex marriage, to school. The argument that the courts shouldn’t interfere with tradition when it comes to the definition of marriage was the first to...

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Bernie Sanders Is Running For President – What This Means For The Democratic Party

by RYAN DENSON – Vermont’s NPR News source has learned that Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, a left-wing populist, is running for President of the United States on the Democratic ticket, and thus will be the first official challenger to Hillary Clinton, who announced earlier this month. According to Vermont’s NPR, Sanders will officially announce his candidacy on Thursday followed by a campaign kickoff in the coming weeks where he will begin fundraising. From sources close to the Senator: “Sanders’ basic message will be that the middle class in America has been decimated in the past two decades while wealthy people and corporations have flourished. “His opposition to a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (T.P.P.) shows how he plans to frame this key issue of his campaign.” The Washington Post reports that Tad Devine, a former  campaign aide to Al Gore, John Kerry and Michael Dukakis, will serve as Sanders’ political...

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Key Expert in Supreme Court Lethal Injection Case Did His Research on Drugs.com

Case shows it’s nearly impossible to find experts to defend the practice By Annie Waldman, ProPublica – Today, when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the highest-profile death penalty challenge in seven years, the justices will begin ruling on this question: Does Oklahoma’s use of the common surgical sedative midazolam fail to make prisoners unconscious during lethal injections, thus violating the Eighth Amendment’s protection against “cruel and unusual punishment”? For many court watchers, however, a subject of special scrutiny will be the credibility of Oklahoma’s key expert witness, Dr. Roswell Lee Evans, who has testified that inmates “would not sense the pain” of an execution after receiving a high dose of midazolam. The case, first brought by four condemned Oklahoma inmates, stems from the botched April 2014 execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett. Although Lockett received a substantial dose of midazolam intravenously, it failed to render him unconscious...

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The Powerful Scene On The Streets Of Baltimore Monday Night That No One Is Talking About

By JUDD LEGUM, ThinkProgress – Violent rioting erupted on the streets of Baltimore on Monday, the day that a 25-year-old man who was killed while in police custody, Freddie Gray, was laid to rest. Cars were burned, more than a dozen police were injured and people raided stores across the city. The Governor of Maryland declared a State Of Emergency, the Mayor of Baltimore imposed a curfew and the Maryland National Guard was sent to patrol the streets. But chaos and violence were not the only things happening on the streets of Baltimore. But hundreds of Baltimore clergy linked arms and took to the streets in an effort to restore the peace. WBAL Reporter Deborah Weiner described the remarkable scene. “These are the church leaders who are putting themselves in harms way to end the violence… they are linked arm-in-arm… one gentleman is in front in a wheelchair.” “I asked...

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DOJ Report Slams For-Profit Texas Immigrant Prison

Reeves County Detention Center understaffed, ignores security problems, report finds By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – Reeves County Detention Center in West Texas, which houses mostly immigrants and was the scene of prisoner unrest in 2008 and 2009, is understaffed and has repeatedly failed to address administrative and security problems, according to a new report (pdf) published Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice. The 2,400-bed prison, which houses immigrants who committed low-level offenses, is the largest of its kind and run by the private correctional corporation The GEO Group, which also runs 100 other prisons and rehab centers around the world. Between October 2008 and December 2013, Reeves did not have enough medical or correctional personnel on staff, used an improper area of the prison to isolate inmates, and failed to address problems with security, health services, and record-keeping, the DOJ found. The GEO Group has a $493 million contract...

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New England Journal of Medicine Calls for Support of Marriage Equality

by d3clark – Last evening, the weekly issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) was released. The NEJM is one of the most prestigious medical journals published.  Its weekly editorial is most often focused on some medical issue – cancer research, discoveries in immunology, new cardiac surgery techniques, etc.  Occasionally, the editorial will discuss a political policy like health care for all in the U.S., children’s safety around firearms or some other topic that is less directly scientifically oriented.  This week the Journal came out strongly in support of marriage equality, calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to find in favor of same-sex marriage. For more on their opinion and the case that then make, come below the orange medical diploma curlicue. The authors of the editorial do a brief review of the state of marriage equality in America.  Then they discuss the inequalities in health care that affect...

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‘Dumbest Cracker Ever’ Donald Trump Blames Obama For Black ‘Thugs’ In Baltimore

by JOHN PRAGER – Once again, Donald Trump has gone out of his way to show the world how totally “not-racist” he is in a series of tweets related to the unrest in Baltimore, Maryland. The reaction to the murder of 25-year-old Freddie Gray at the hands of police has been mostly peaceful, but riots broke out following the Baltimore man’s funeral, with many taking advantage of the situation to loot, light fires, hurl objects at police, and generally act in a manner that is contrary to anything that is an effective and acceptable reaction to the murder. With the National Guard called in and curfews imposed on the populace, Trump knows exactly who is at fault for the entire situation: Barack Obama, King of All Black People: According to Trump, Obama failed to employ the same mind control technology he used to get black people to vote for him...

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Nation Ready to Make History: US Supreme Court Takes Up Gay Marriage

A decision, expected by June, could determine the fate of marriage equality nationwide by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer, Lauren McCauley, staff writer – Updated: Following the conclusion of oral arguments in Tuesday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court hearing, advocates displayed cautious optimism that after years of legal wrangling, the U.S. legal system may finally support full marriage equality. “The case for the freedom to marry shone through at every turn in the argument, undimmed and undeniable,” said Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson following the hearing. He added that “it should be clear to a majority of justices, as it has been to a cascade of lower courts and a national majority for marriage, that there is simply no good reason, no just principle, no argument, no evidence to justify perpetuating marriage discrimination any longer.” Though framed by supporters of same-sex marriage bans as an issue of states’ rights, arguments...

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How Lyndon Johnson Responded To Baltimore’s Last Riots

By JOSH ISRAEL, ThinkProgress – Baltimore broke out in violent riots Monday night, prompting Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard. This is not the first time Baltimore has seen this sort of eruption. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April of 1968, similar swaths of the city were blanketed by protests, looting, and violent clashes with law enforcement — as were other cities around the country. The April 1968 riots came months after President Lyndon Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission, released a report that examined the cause of race riots in 1967 and warned that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” Its recommendations  —  “programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems,” aimed for “for high impact in the...

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‘Explosive’ Wildfires Are Already Out Of Control Months Before Fire Season

by SAMANTHA PAGE – “Wildfire season” seems to be a thing of the past for drought-stricken California, with fires now raging throughout the year. There have already been nearly 850 wildfires this year — 70 percent above the average, according to CAL FIRE data. High temperatures and low precipitation, both related to climate change, have dried out forests and scrublands across the western United States, allowing fires to spread faster and farther than usual, any time during the year. “Since 2000 we’ve been seeing larger and more damaging fires,” Daniel Berlant, chief of public information for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), told NBC News. “What we’re seeing now is that the rain is starting later and stopping much earlier. The fires are burning at explosive speed because the vegetation is so dry and that allows them to get much larger.” In February, residents were shocked...

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Elizabeth Warren On Skipping 2016: ‘I’m Doing The Work I Should Be Doing’

by RYAN DENSON – Even Elizabeth Warren knows she is needed more in the Senate. Earlier, I proposed that progressives get out and vote Democratic in next year’s election so we can take back the Senate and make Warren the next Senate Majority Leader. The senior Senator from Massachusetts responded very candidly to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza when he challenged her on why she’s not running for President of the United States: “You think I’m not forcing a debate? Call me back in a year and ask me what type of debate we’re having….I’m doing the work I should be doing.” The New Yorker’s lengthy, but very in-depth, profile of Warren said: Warren insists that she can have more influence as a senator than by running against Clinton in the primaries. “I think right now I’m using the best tools to make change,” she told me. When she got into politics,...

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Top Spokesman For Rush Limbaugh Wants Hate Speech Removed From Twitter

By Leslie Salzillo, Daily Kos – Brian Glicklich, head PR man and spokesperson for The Rush Limbaugh Show recently wrote an opinion piece stating he is very upset about ‘hate speech’ on Twitter. Never mind that he’s been representing the king of Conservative radio hate mongers. Glicklich is the bully, in front of the bully, who just last Fall released the private and personal information about some of the StopRush volunteers (their names, home addresses, phone numbers…) which a plethora of Republican/Conservative/Tea Party websites picked up. Who knows how many fanatics and Limbaugh Dittoheads now have access to that information. And these crazies have been calling, threatening and harassing the StopRush volunteers for months. That was you Brian. You did that. And now you’re getting a taste of it, and you can’t handle it? You don’t like people calling you names? Cry me a river. It’s long past the time for...

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The Real Power Behind The Islamic State

by JUSTIN SALHANI – Reports emerged Tuesday that the notorious leader of jihadist group the Islamic State (IS), sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, has been recovering from serious injuries inflicted during a U.S.-coalition led airstrike for more than a month. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been out of action since an attack on March 18 left him badly wounded. Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi government advisor, told Sky News that the self-appointed caliph’s deputy, Abu Alaa al-Afri, assumed command of operations. Al-Afri is described by Hashimi as charismatic, well known among IS members, and potentially more important to the organization than Baghdadi. In the past, the U.S. has countered radical non-state actors like al-Qaeda by targeting influential leaders with assassinations. With IS though, a more resilient structure appears to be in place, seamlessly filling any gaps in command that might occur from targeted strikes on the leadership. IS...

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Oops! Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit Would Invalidate Reagan Tax Law If It Succeeds

by IAN MILLHISER – A lawsuit attacking the Affordable Care Act relies on such a sweeping legal theory that it would invalidate countless laws if it were successful — including a prong of President Ronald Reagan’s tax policy. The latest chapter in the “never-ending saga” of lawsuits seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act ended in failure on Friday, and in one of the most conservative courts in the country to boot — a unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit turned away an effort to strike down the entirety of Obamacare. Hotze v. Burwell rests on an obscure provision of the Constitution which provides that “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” The bill that became Obamacare began as a House bill, so even if...

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Even Fox News Calls Out ‘Clinton Cash’ Author For His Lies And Lack Of Evidence (VIDEO)

by RYAN DENSON – Now that the world knows the author of Clinton Cash is a serial liar who embellished the amount of money Hillary Clinton actually made (and provided a hoax press release to help him in his “research”), one would expect conservatives to naturally flock to him. However, Chris Wallace, who hosts Fox News Sunday, isn’t buying it either. When Peter Schweizer attempted to smear Hillary by “pointing out” that she approved a deal with the Russians to buy up U.S. uranium, Wallace quickly interjected, reminding Schweizer that Clinton did not act unilaterally. Rather, Wallace contended, the uranium deal was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States which encompasses nine different federal agencies: “It’s not just the State Department. It’s nine separate agencies… There is no hard evidence — and you don’t cite any in the book — that Hillary Clinton took direct action, was involved in...

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How Anyone Who Works At An Abortion Clinic Becomes Target For Violence, Harassment

By TARA CULP-RESSLER, ThinkProgress – Joan, the president of a network of women’s health clinics in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, isn’t comfortable using her real name in this story because her private residence was vandalized last year. Someone threw a bucket of red paint all over her house. “It went on every surface — the door, the walkway, the screens, the glass, the wood, my Christmas wreath, my welcome mat. Everything. It was just a mess,” Joan recounted in an interview with ThinkProgress. She told the police that, considering where she works, she was pretty sure it was anti-abortion harassment. There wasn’t much the cops could do. Ascribing blame to the anti-abortion movement — whose particularly far-right actors regularly picket at abortion providers’ private homes, and occasionally use sidewalk chalk to scrawl messages declaring them to be “serial killers” and “monsters” — wasn’t totally a shot...

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Cop Runs Stop Sign Without Lights or Sirens, Hits Pedestrian, Cutting Off Both Legs, 5 Hospitalized

By Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project – Snohomish County, WA — A violent, multiple vehicle crash unfolded last week after a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy ran a stop sign. The resulting crash left five people hospitalized. One man, who was loading up his pick-up truck with the tailgate down, was hit by the police cruiser, pinning him in between the car and his truck. The man, who neighbors say was a construction worker, was taken to Harborview Regional Medical Center in Seattle where both of his legs were amputated. As of today, he is still in ICU. Witnesses recall that the deputy did not have his lights on, nor his siren as he sped through the stop sign at the north Everett intersection of Rockefeller Avenue and 23rd Street just before noon on Friday. Steve Teixeira, a neighbor who heard the crash, described hearing the man screaming in agony as...

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Return of the Fish Wars: Hatchery Pits Environmentalists Against Tribe

Can anything ‘wild’ still exist in a Washington river that has been plugged for 100 years? By E. Tammy Kim, Al Jazeera – LOWER ELWHA KLALLAM RESERVATION, Wash. — The Elwha, like so many coastal Natives, are salmon people. Their history of dugout canoes and hundred-pound chinook is inseparable from the glacial river that shares their name. In late August, timed to the fall runs of fish, the Lower Elwha tribe holds the annual “First Salmon” ceremony at the gravelly mouth of the river. Lola Moses, who oversees the tribal court, presides over a small crowd of members, children from the reservation’s Head Start program and a few visitors. A flayed salmon rests on a plastic folding table. Moses helps cradle the fish on a pine bough and carries it to the water’s edge. Peyton Cable, 14, wades then dog-paddles in and floats the offering downriver, calling forth the...

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