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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