Afghan War Is Not Over, Says Judge, So Indefinite Detention Can Continue

by Jon Queally – Though President Obama has publicly championed end of combat operations in Afghanistan, that doesn’t mean prisoners of war can be released A federal judge on Thursday rejected the petition of a Guantanamo detainee who had requested to be freed after spending nearly a decade and a half in the U.S. offshore prison without trial. As the Associated Press reports: Muktar Yahya Najee al-Warafi has said his detention was illegal in light of President Barack Obama’s statements that active hostilities in Afghanistan had ended. The Yemeni was captured in Afghanistan in 2001. Courts have upheld his detention on grounds that he likely aided Taliban forces. His lawyers argued that his detention was unlawful under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which provided the legal justification for the imprisonment of foreign fighters captured on overseas battlefields. The Supreme Court has said such detention is legal as long...

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Some Of The Videos Targeting Planned Parenthood May Be Illegal, Court Rules

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – An anti-abortion group that has so far released four inflammatory videos accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of “aborted baby parts” will not be allowed to publish additional footage featuring a California company that facilitates fetal tissue donation, thanks to a temporary restraining order issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court. The court order issued this week blocks the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing video footage featuring employees who work at StemExpress, a biological company that partners with some Planned Parenthood clinics to help transfer fetal tissue donations to medical research facilities. The unfolding controversy plaguing Planned Parenthood has been focused on this type of tissue donation, which CMP misleadingly characterizes as trafficking in baby parts. So far, stoking moral outrage over the practice has been pretty successful. One video released by CMP, for instance, features a woman who says she was...

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This Is What Happened When A NJ Waitress Paid For Firefighters’ Breakfast (VIDEO)

by T. STEELMAN – Firefighter Paul Hullings had just spent 12 hours fighting a particularly huge fire in New Brunswick when his fellow firefighter, Tim Young, took him out for breakfast. They stopped at the Route 130 Diner in Delran and had a nice breakfast. As they chatted about the fire, their waitress overheard and Liz Woodard decided that she would comp the firefighters’ breakfasts. She left this note instead of a check: “Your breakfast is on me today. Thank you all that you do, for serving us and for running into the places everyone runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave and strong. Thank you for being bold and badass everyday. Fueled by fire and driven by courage – what an example you are. Get some rest!” The two men were moved to tears, knowing that they were appreciated. When Young posted the note on...

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California’s Drought and the Battle for Medicine Lake

Plans are afoot to build power plants and frack near one of California’s biggest reserves of fresh water Redding, California – Before Leonard Lowry, a 20-year-old boxing champion from Susanville, California, was shipped off to fight in the Pacific during World War II, his Pit River tribal elders helped him prepare for battle. They fixed him a medicine bag with root and tobacco and had him run the full 11km circumference of remote Medicine Lake for good luck. As a rifleman with the 42nd Infantry Division in the Philippines and New Guinea, Lowry survived outbreaks of malaria, getting shot at three times and hand grenade fragments smashing his wrist. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal – the third-highest military declaration for valour given to members of the US Armed Forces – and went on to have a sterling career as a military leader, said Radley Davis, a member of...

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Jeb Bush Parrots Frank Luntz Climate Script, Just As His Brother Did A Decade Ago

by JOE ROMM – The White House is gearing up to announce the final carbon pollution standards that power plants will have to meet in EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). And that means you can expect many conservatives critical of the plan to start using the poll-tested words “technology” and “innovation” over and over and over. For instance, Bloomberg BNA just interviewed GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush about the CPP and his own energy, environment and climate strategy. He said, “Technology, innovation and discovery should play a major role in preserving a clean and healthy environment.” Wait, that wasn’t Jeb. That was Frank Luntz in his famous 2002 memo to conservatives and the Bush White House explaining that the best way to pretend you care about the climate and the environment — while opposing regulations that might actually do something to reduce pollution — was to blather on about “technology...

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Christian College Takes Away All Student Health Insurance Over Birth Control Temper Tantrum

by JAMESON PARKER – For conservative Christians, being “pro-life” is beginning to look a lot like “anti-healthcare for post-born people.” Hundreds of college students at one of the country’s leading Evangelical universities are beginning to learn that the hard way. Wheaton College announced this week that they are discontinuing all health insurance for their students because the Affordable Care Act won’t allow them to specifically deny birth control, which they say violates their religious freedoms. So rather than simply accept that some of their students might have sex and might use birth control, the school says nobody gets any form of health insurance at all. American students who wish to avoid going bankrupt if they become sick or get injured while attending classes must now scramble to find their own health insurance on the open market. Foreign students are out of luck entirely. At Wheaton College, prayer is now the only healthcare students have access too. Like...

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40 Hour Standoff Ends in Call to Obama to Cancel Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plans

By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch – After a 40-hour blockade stopping Shell’s Fennica icebreaker from leaving port, 26 Greenpeace USA activists have come down from the St John’s Bridge in Portland, Oregon, including the 13 climbers that repelled from the bridge. Shell’s vessel did finally make its way on Thursday under the Portland bridge and out to sea as the demonstrators were preparing to leave the bridge. A federal judge in Alaska yesterday ordered Greenpeace USA to remove the climbers or face a series of escalating fines, starting at US$2,500 per hour and reaching as high as US$10,000 per hour after a number of days. “We are incredibly proud of these climbers and truly humbled by what they have achieved here in Portland,” Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said. “The last two days have been a very emotional experience for all of us at Greenpeace, as well as all those who supported this action around...

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Gov. ‘Don’t Say Climate Change’ Scott, Is About To Be Given An Environmentalist Award

by SHANNON ARGUETA – Florida’s governor has one of the worst environmental records in the history of the state. Not only has Rick Scott banned state employees from saying “climate change,” but he has also decimated funding for a number of important environmental departments and projects. Even with all of that, the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida has decided that they are going to give Scott and award for his “conservation work.” No, this isn’t a joke. First of all, you have to understand that Florida is quickly expanding in growth. As a resident of the Gulf coast of Florida, I have watched my small city almost double in size over the last 15 years as rural areas become more and more developed. Most of the governors over the last five decades realize that the state has a very fragile environment, until Rick Scott came along. Scott does not care about Florida’s...

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GOP Women’s Group Posts Shareable Graphic Of A Lynching To Facebook

by IAN MILLHISER – If you are about to compare something to lynching, and it is not lynching, it’s probably best to keep your mouth shut. The Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women apologized on Wednesday after they posted an image of a black man being lynched on their official Facebook page. The image included a solitary African American man hanging by a noose from a tree, with the text “The KKK was formed by the Democrats to keep control over black Americans. The Democrats of today just traded ropes for welfare” accompanying the image. After KFOR, a local news station, contacted the organization’s president, Pam Pollard, about the image, Pollard deleted the post. She later released a statement saying that she “did not make the post or approve the post and when it was brought to my attention I immediately deleted it.” The message accompanying the offensive image relies on...

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ALEC Conference Funding Dominated by Big Polluters

by Nick Surgey – At the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2015 annual meeting in San Diego, California, dirty energy companies and their supporters–including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Duke Energy–continue to dominate the funding of activities, according to a list of conference sponsors obtained jointly by the Center for Media and Democracy and Greenpeace. At the top of the agenda, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke to ALEC delegates over breakfast on Thursday. Walker is now campaigning on a promise to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if elected President in 2016, a plan which was earlier debated by ALEC at its December 2014 conference and is in line with ALEC’s long-term legislative agenda. At ALEC conferences and meetings, rhetoric against the EPA–and in particular the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution–is frequently extreme. ALEC sessions have repeatedly featured overt denial of climate change science. During recent...

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Oncologist Sentenced To 45 Years In Prison For Wrongly Diagnosing And Administering Chemo To Patients

by Amanda Froelich – This unfortunate account shows how far some doctors will go just to receive some financial kickbacks The ‘sick care’ industry is a big money maker for pharmaceutical companies. While some health care practitioners have begun to recognize the importance of diet and lifestyle and now recommend preventive care as a main form of ‘medicine’, others have wrongly benefited from vulnerable patients and traded their integrity as physicians for profit. One such doctor, Farid Fata, has a long jail sentence ahead of him for such malpractice. A hematologist-oncologist who once worked in the suburbs of Detroit, Fata was sentenced to 45 years in prison for running a fraud scheme in which he falsely ‘diagnosed’ patients with Cancer. Once he wrongly misdiagnosed them, he then prescribed unnecessary chemotherapy and other cancer treatments to help them ‘remedy’ their non-existent condition. In order to scam Medicare and private insurance...

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Cruz Stands By Claim That President Obama Is World’s Biggest Funder Of ‘Islamic Terrorism’

by JUSTIN SALHANI – Ted Cruz doesn’t appear to be backing down from comments calling President Obama “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism” for striking up a deal over Iranian’s nuclear program. “If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz said on Tuesday, according to Politico. “Billions of dollars under control of this administration will flow into the hands of jihadists who will use that money to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans.” International powers are scheduled to lift economic sanctions on Iran so long as the nuclear deal’s conditions are met. Critics of the deal argue that the windfall of $55 billion (not over $100 as originally reported) Iran is expected to receive from the sanction removal will help contribute to the funding of international proxies that the U.S. and Israel consider terrorist groups....

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Cincinnati and the Murder of Samuel DuBose

by Amy Goodman, Denis Moynihan – A stunning indictment has been handed down in Cincinnati, focusing attention again on police killings of people of color. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced that University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing has been charged with murder, for the July 19 shooting death of Samuel DuBose, a 43-year-old African-American man. Tensing pulled over DuBose because he was driving a car without a front license plate. As Deter said in his news conference: “He was dealing with someone without a front license plate. This is, in the vernacular, a very chicken-crap stop.” Tensing wanted to see DuBose’s driver’s license. When DuBose said he didn’t have it, Tensing made a motion to open DuBose’s car door. Within seconds of this interaction, Tensing’s right hand swung into the video frame with a pistol. He fired a single shot into DuBose’s head, which sent the car, with...

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DOJ Head Says Sandra Bland’s Death Epitomizes Police’s Broken Relationship With Black Community

by LAUREN C. WILLIAMS – Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sandra Bland’s death while in police custody earlier this month taps into deep-seated fears within the black community: that interactions with law enforcement too frequently end fatally. The Justice Department’s (DOJ) first African-American woman attorney general told Pierre Thomas in an ABC News interview Sunday that Bland’s death “highlights the concern of many in the black community that a routine stop for many members of the black community is not handled with the same professionalism and courtesy that other people may get from the police.” Bland’s death was officially reported as a suicide but is being treated like a homicide investigation. But there’s much public speculation around the 28-year-old’s arrest, death, and its subsequent investigation. Bland was held for three days by the Texas Department of Public Safety for a routine traffic stop — allegedly for not using a signal...

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One Of World’s Most Important Bald Eagle Nesting Sites May Be Replaced By Golf Resort

By  JAMESON PARKER, Addicting Info – Virginia is right in the heart of America’s golf country, so it probably comes as no surprise to learn that Richmond County already has several sprawling golf courses. Now they want one more. And they want to place it in a region that is famous as one of America’s biggest, and most crucial, bald eagle nesting sites. The corporation who owns the land on which the nesting site sits plans on destroying much of the scenic area and replacing it with an 18-hole golf course, a big resort building, and a new (pricey) housing development for those whose bank account allows them to live right there on the links. According to opponents of the plan, there are a lot of good reasons not to develop the land and turn it into yet another unneeded golf course. Opponents such as the Chesapeake Conservancy and Friends of the...

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Christian Extremist Lawmakers Form A New Caucus Dedicated To Republican Jesus

by CHARLES TOPHER – As national support for the Tea Party crumbles, the Christian right has been scrambling for new ways to infiltrate government and inject it with religious extremism. The formation of the Appeal To Heaven national caucus may be just the answer they’re looking for. The new alliance, complete with nutjobs from 18 states, may prove to be more dangerous than the Tea Party. Republican state lawmakers have proven themselves effective at enacting archaic laws when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, so called “religious freedom” acts that are nothing but legalized discrimination and redistricting gerrymandered pools of guaranteed GOP wins. At a time when the country is finally seeing the light, denouncing the Republican Party for its lack of intelligence, the far-right is banding together to mobilize what power it has in states where progressives are few and far between, and bastions of 1862 values can form unabated....

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Sanders Makes History With 2016 Cycle’s Biggest Campaign Event Yet

“I have never seen a campaign as exciting as this,” says supporter in Alabama By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed an estimated 100,000 supporters at more than 3,500 house parties in all 50 states on Wednesday night, at what is being called the largest campaign event of the 2016 election cycle thus far. The organizing kick-off, which Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) said was aimed at building a political movement from the ground up, saw the democratic socialist beamed into bars, libraries, and living rooms from Alaska to Florida. There was a “custom cocktail” featuring Vermont maple syrup at a bar in Washington, D.C., while a Texas event served up “brisket and biscuits for Bernie.” The man himself spoke from what the Burlington Free Press described as “a modest, steamy apartment” in the nation’s capitol. His remarks were delivered “off a yellow legal pad balanced precariously on a wobbly music...

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Post ObamaCare Employment Stats

by darkonc – I had Yet Another Republican (presumably) go off on how Obamacare destroyed jobs  — or at least full-time jobs.. So the obvious thing for me to do was to grab the stats and generate some graphs. I grabbed the data from The US Bureau of Labour Statistics page and massaged it into a format that made graphing in a spreadsheet easier.  For my spreadsheet, I used LibreOffice, a free and very useful replacement for MS Office.  Download it if you’d like to play with my spreadsheets. So, the statistics that I thought were most susceptible to change if the doomsday predictions were true were:  Employment, Hours worked, and Terminations (layoffs and firings)… so here are the graphs (with links to the appropriate spreadsheet. Employment: Employment As you can see, employment tanked after the Bush meltdown, and has climbed ever since. Nary a blip around April 2014 when the...

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Koch Brothers Declare War On Donald Trump

By SHANNON ARGUETA, Addicting Info – Everyone knows that the Koch brothers have a huge hand in picking out who the GOP candidate is going to be for the 2016 presidential election. They, along with their huge network of conservative donors, plan on spending almost $900 million on the upcoming election; with that kind of money up for grabs, the Republican candidates are vying for their attention big time. However, one candidate is being completely frozen out of the Koch brothers’ network: Donald Trump. Trump’s loudmouth, racist comments have caused him to jump to number one in the GOP polls. The party’s totally-not-racist base loves that he is picking on all of the people they hate — especially undocumented immigrants. Republican leadership isn’t as in love with The Donald as their base, because they know that his rhetoric is turning important Independent voters and Hispanic voters (the swing votes) off; but,...

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Blue Ridge Beauty

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Trump’s Immigration Policy Doesn’t Make Much Sense But That’s OK Because He Knows ‘How To Manage’

by ESTHER YU-HSI LEE – 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has finally started to lay out his immigration plan: Deport the undocumented population, but allow some immigrants back into the country through an expedited system to obtain legal status. “I would get people out and I would have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so that they can be legal,” Trump said during an interview with CNN New Day’s Dana Bash on Wednesday. He added that he would keep the “bad dudes” out of the country, including immigrants with criminal convictions. Trump indicated that he didn’t have a plan to locate undocumented individuals, but noted he would “find them and get them out,” a wholly feasible process because he knows “how to manage.” Trump simultaneously softened his stance and advocated for a blanket deportation policy when asked about what he would do with the 1.8...

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Reality Is Winning: New Poll Finds Americans Increasingly Aren’t Buying Right-Wing Lies

By JAMESON PARKER, Addicting Info – Fox News makes a big show of being the “most trusted” source of news, but that claim, like much of what we find on the conservative network, is increasingly becoming mere wishful thinking. Instead, Americans are waking up to the fact that Fox News, along with its counterparts on the web and radio, are functioning as little more than a right-wing propaganda machine. People, particularly young people, aren’t buying it. In a comprehensive poll conducted by Pew Research that covered dozens of major and minor political news sources, researchers found that Fox “most trusted” News was actually the most distrusted source of news for Millennials. A whopping 43 percent of those surveyed said you can’t trust what that network tells you about politics and government. But other right-wing media outlets fared even worse in their overall “trust vs. distrust” ratio. According to the same poll, The Sean Hannity...

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New Study: Living Near Trees Is Good For Your Body AND Wallet

By Amanda Froelich, True Activist – It’s no secret people adore trees. Why, just a couple of weeks ago, TrueActivist shared what happens when you give trees email address (hint: citizens send them thousands of love letters). But a recently published study affirming the lesser-known benefits derived from living near trees is also something to get excited about. According to researchers from the University of Chicago and various Toronto organizations: “…people who live in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their streets report significantly higher health perception and significantly less cardio-metabolic conditions (controlling for socio-economic and demographic factors). We find that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being 7 years younger.” Researchers began by looking at Toronto,...

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Palin’s Latest Drunken Rant: Planned Parenthood ‘Targeting’ Blacks For ‘Huge Profits’ (VIDEO)

by CHARLES TOPHER – Sarah Palin’s conspiracy ridden rant on The O’Reilly Factor Wednesday night will have people wondering if she’s either vying for a spot opposite Alex Jones or just having a hard time laying off the Seagrams Seven. Palin, in an emotional little fit of rage, described the “evils” of Planned Parenthood and how they are luring black women in to their clinics for abortions. Yes, they are luring them in. Palin says that Planned Parenthood “shops” are found in poverty-stricken neighborhoods 80 percent of the time. Being that Planned Parenthood is a non-profit, community based organization whose mission is to help people in need, setting up in Beverly Hills may not be the best course of action. Clinics in neighborhoods where women need the most help seems like a perfectly reasonable idea, but not to Palin. Palin sees Satan everywhere. Since a failed run at the Vice...

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What’s Barney Frank Got Against Primaries?

by Tom Gallagher – Could you imagine a liberal Democrat in 2015 arguing that you shouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the presidential primaries because, although she has been a trailblazer in her day, her “very unwillingness to be confined by existing voter attitudes, as part of a long-term strategy to change them, is both a very valuable contribution to the democratic dialogue and an obvious bar to winning support from the majority of these very voters in the near term”?  No, of course you can’t.  And that’s a good thing!  That is, however, precisely what former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank writes is the reason you shouldn’t vote for Bernie Sanders.  And that’s not a good thing.  Now, I ain’t saying whether Frank is right or whether he’s wrong about how many people will ultimately support Sanders.  But that’s actually what we have primaries to sort out. Frank writes a good...

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The West Is Still On Fire

by NATASHA GEILING – Just in time for peak tourist season, Montana’s Glacier National Park is on fire. As of Tuesday, some 3,200 acres of the park were engulfed by wildfire, which began a week ago and caused park officials to shut down three separate campsites throughout the park as well as close off the St. Mary Visitor Center. As of Wednesday, the wildfire was 56 percent contained, and portions of the park that were previously closed have been reopened to the public — but firefighters are still working to contain the remaining portion of the fire. According to NPR, travel companies associated with the park earn 90 percent of their revenue between June 20 and August 20. The Glacier National Park fire is just another example of the disruption the 2015 wildfire season has already caused for Western states. Plagued by high temperatures, low snowpack, and continued drought, states from...

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Farmed Salmon Rejected Over Huge Spike in Antibiotic Use Due to Bacterial Outbreak

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – Costco is in the news again for its food purchases. Last month, 300,000 people demanded that Costco commit to not selling GMO salmon and in the last few weeks Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Bill Maher have all called out the retail giant for selling eggs from caged hens. But when it comes to Chilean salmon pumped up on antibiotics, Costco is saying enough is enough. The recent spike in antibiotic use in Chilean farmed salmon has caused Costco to decrease its reliance on the South American country’s farmed salmon, opting instead for farmed salmon from Norway, whose farmers use far fewer antibiotics. In fact, Norway’s use of antibiotics in aquaculture is at the lowest level since the late 1970s, according to a recent report from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute. Up until a few months ago, Costco was sourcing 90 percent of the 600,000 pounds of salmon it purchases every...

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GOP Governor’s Adult Daughter Lived In Trailer On Mansion’s Lawn For Months – Forced To Move

by DYLAN HOCK – Few parents would disagree with the love, support and argument Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin offered in response to criticism regarding her 28-year-old daughter, Christina, living in a trailer on the governor’s mansion’s grounds, complete with electric and water hook-up to the mansion, for the last three months. Fallin said: “I love my family. My daughter is terrific. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s talented and if she comes and says, ‘Mom, I need some help,’ I’m not going to turn her down. “If I’m 80, if she comes to me and says, ‘Hey mom, I need a temporary place to stay, I’m going to let her stay with me.” That’s a beautiful and loving response from a parent lucky enough to be financially able to help her daughter in such a way, and is to be commended as a parent. However, taxpayers may feel differently, whether...

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The Most (And Least) Extreme Republican Presidential Candidates On Climate Change

by RYAN KORONOWSKI – The GOP field is (almost) complete, after Ohio Governor John Kasich became the 17th major candidate to announce his presidential run last week. This means we can draw some conclusions about the opponent the eventual Democratic nominee will be facing in the general election. It’s an extremely safe bet that the Republican nominee will not take more action to confront climate change than President Obama has. The question is more how much of the president’s climate agenda the nominee would reverse, repeal, or ignore. The next president will have a lot on his or her plate — implementing or rolling back the Clean Air Act’s provisions to regulate carbon pollution; defying or leading the world in carrying out an expected U.N. climate agreement; committing the United States to low-carbon energy or doubling down on fossil fuels. Pope Francis just told the world through the Vatican’s latest...

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Faced with Defunding Threat from Senate, Planned Parenthood Fights Back

by Nadia Prupis – As Planned Parenthood grapples with a series of attacks against it by anti-choice forces, the political stakes are intensifying as the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate readies to vote on a measure that would strip all federal funding from the non-profit women’s health organization. Three covertly-filmed videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donations have prompted some in Congress to renew the debate over the government’s financial support of the organization. Senate Republicans are gearing up to vote on a bill that would cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which already receives limited subsidies from the government and is prohibited from spending taxpayer money on abortions. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and introduced on Tuesday, states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or any of its affiliates.” One GOP senator who...

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Alabama Is Fighting A Woman’s Abortion Rights By Appointing A Lawyer To Represent Her Fetus

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – Alabama officials are currently seeking to prevent a pregnant prison inmate from obtaining a legal abortion by stripping her of her parental rights, in a case where a lawyer has been appointed to represent the interests of her fetus. An unnamed woman, who is referred to in court documents only as Jane Doe, is asking for permission to travel to Huntsville to end her pregnancy. She says she was unable to get an abortion before she was taken into custody and is now feeling desperate. “I am very distraught, and do not want to be forced to carry this pregnancy to term,” she wrote. Jane Doe — who has to get permission from the court to be transported to the nearest clinic because prison officials consider abortion to be a non-emergency procedure — is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that it...

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Another Christie Corruption Case is Moving Forward

by Hunter – Another potential scandal in Chris Christie-land keeps trundling forward, this one related to the allegation that Christie improperly (and potentially criminally) squashed a grand jury indictment of a Christie-connected county sheriff. Not in dispute: after the sheriff of Hunterdon County and two subordinates were indicted on 43 counts by a grand jury, the Christie administration that very day moved in to strip the case from local prosecutors, promptly asking the judge to overturn those indictments. Also not in dispute: this was done over the strong objections of those prosecutors, investigators, and even members of the grand jury themselves. (In an ironic Bridgegate-esque preview, Christie later appointed the state attorney general who quashed the Hunterdon case to a high-salaried position at … the Port Authority.) One of those prosecutors, Bennett Barlyn, was fired for his objections to the administration’s handling over the case. He’s filed a lawsuit over the...

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40 Earthquakes Hit Frack-Happy Oklahoma in Last 7 Days

 By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – Monday Oklahoma recorded five earthquakes centered near Crescent, Oklahoma, some of which were felt in at least five states — Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas. Three of the quakes measured above 4.0-magnitude and the biggest of these was a 4.5-magnitude earthquake, the strongest earthquake in the region since a magnitude 4.9 near Conway Springs, Kansas, on Nov. 12, 2014. The strongest Oklahoma earthquake on record occurred on Nov. 5, 2011 and registered as 5.6-magnitude. There was no reported significant damage from the earthquakes, but the rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by about 50 percent in the last two years, greatly increasing the chance for a damaging quake, according to the USGS. There have been eight quakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger near Crescent since Saturday and during the past seven days, Oklahoma has experienced about 40 earthquakes. “Noticeable quakes — above magnitude 3.0 — now hit the...

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Wall Street’s Solution to Puerto Rico Debt Crisis? Shutter Schools, Fire Workers

Report by bondholders and hedge fund managers calls for sweeping austerity measures By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams – Hedge fund managers and bondholders are pressing the government of Puerto Rico to drive through a series of punishing austerity measures, including dramatic cuts to public education and workers’ rights protections, to “solve” the crisis of debt and poverty gripping the Caribbean island. A group representing $5.2 billion of debt held by 38 investment managers paid three former economists for the International Monetary Fund, who now are employed by the firm Centennial Group International, to devise policy recommendations in response to Governor Alejandro García Padilla’s claim last month that Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt is “not payable.” Entitled For Puerto Rico, There is a Better Way, the report urges the government to increase tax collection and then use this money to pay back creditors while at the same time severely slashing public programs —...

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Two Major Victories for Fair Housing

by Alan Jenkins – It’s a rare moment when two branches of our federal government take major steps to expand opportunity for all Americans. But, with relatively little fanfare, that’s what’s happened over the last few weeks in the critical area of housing. First, on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court held that if a housing policy seriously disadvantages one gender, racial, religious or ethnic group, families with children, or people with disabilities, that policy is illegal unless there is an important justification for the policy. That principle, known as “disparate impact,” has been integral to the Fair Housing Act’s protections for over four decades, but this was the High Court’s first time considering it. Just a week later, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new regulations ensuring that when a city or town accepts federal funds for community development, it must work to prevent discrimination and...

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Russia Blocks UN Tribunal on MH17 Disaster

Russia has vetoed a United Nations resolution creating an international tribunal to prosecute those who shot down the Malaysian airliner MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The lone “no” vote cast on Wednesday by Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, effectively blocked the resolution. Russia is one of the five permanent UN Security Council members with veto powers. Eleven of the 15 members of the council voted in favour of the resolution, which had been drafted by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. China, Venezuela and Angola abstained. Related: Calls grow to prosecute those who shot down MH17 In his statement following the vote, Churkin accused other countries of politicizing the vote, and accused Ukraine of blocking Moscow from being involved in the investigation. Just an hour before the Malaysia-backed resolution was put to a vote, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he opposed the plan. Ukraine and many Western...

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Grand Jury Indicts University Of Cincinnati Cop Caught On Video Shooting Unarmed Man For Murder

by AVIVA SHEN – University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was indicted for the murder of Samuel DuBose by a grand jury Wednesday. Tensing originally tried to claim DuBose, 43, almost ran him over with his car and “dragged” him down the road. But video evidence directly contradicted Tensing’s version of events. In the body camera video released Wednesday, Tensing asks DuBose several times if he has a driver’s license after pulling him over for a missing license plate. When DuBose moves to get out of the car, Tensing immediately shoots him. Watch it: WARNING – GRAPHIC  Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called the shooting “the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen a cop do” in his 30 years as a prosecutor, adding, “He should never have been a police officer.” Cincinnati’s police chief also said the video recording was “not good.” The indictment of Tensing is extremely unusual, even...

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What Walter Palmer Did Was Not Hunting

by ALAN PYKE – Two men will face charges in a Zimbabwe courtroom on Wednesday that they took bribes from an American dentist to guide him on an illegal hunt of a beloved local lion. But Walter Palmer, the Minneapolis dentist who shot the lion, faces no charges — and may have doomed hunters’ hopes to be seen as agents of conservation rather than destruction. Palmer’s killing of a male lion named Cecil might never have come to light were it not for the GPS collar the animal wore, which allowed academics at Oxford to track down the carcass and discover the hunters. Since then, the local outfitters who took Palmer on the hunt have been charged, and Palmer has released a statement laying full blame for the illegality of the hunt on his guides. The story has sparked vast outrage at Palmer and at trophy hunting more generally –...

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13 Climbers Suspended From Bridge Block Shell Oil Vessel From Heading to Arctic

By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch – Thirteen Greenpeace activists have suspended themselves from St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon Wednesday morning to block a Shell Oil vessel — the MSV Fennica — from leaving port for Alaskan waters. The climbers have enough supplies to last several days, and are prepared to stay in Shell’s way as long as possible, according to Greenpeace. Last week, the Obama administration granted federal permits that clear the way for the oil company to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The company is only permitted to drill the top sections of its wells because it lacks the equipment to cap the wells in case of emergency. The ice breaker carrying the required capping stack for the wells, had been receiving repairs to its damaged hull in Portland and is now trying to leave the port. Once the Fennica is at Shell’s drill site, Shell can reapply for federal approval to drill...

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$40 Million More Reasons to Love Leonardo DiCaprio

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) raised a staggering $40 million to protect endangered species and help preserve the environment at the actor and environmentalist’s second annual fundraising gala in St. Tropez, France last Wednesday. “Tonight’s event is about supporting LDF’s efforts to protect key species like the tiger, rhino, shark and mountain gorilla by working with governments to conserve the jungles, coral reefs and forests they call home,” DiCaprio told his star-studded guests during his opening speech. “By focusing on protecting these critically endangered iconic species is almost like setting up a worldwide network of Noahs Arks. We’ve decimated our forests, wildlands, polluted and over fished our rivers and oceans; all the key ecosystems that not only serve as a home to our planet’s biodiversity, but also make life here for us possible. I’m incredibly proud to be part of a night that will allow us to do so much to protect the planet,”...

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White House Rejects Petition to Pardon Snowden

by Nadia Prupis – The White House on Tuesday formally rejected a ‘We the People’ petition to pardon Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who has been living in exile since exposing the U.S. government’s invasive spying operation in 2013. More than 167,000 people signed the petition urging the government to grant him clemency, stating in their petition that Snowden is “a national hero … should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.” Not only will Snowden not be pardoned, the Obama administration said, he should face criminal charges for his actions. “Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” Lisa Monaco,...

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Delusional Donald Says He Would ‘Cream’ Obama If He Ran Against Him

by CHARLES TOPHER – Donald Trump’s delusions of grandeur grow with every day people take him seriously as a candidate for president. His narcissism now has him convinced that not only will he be the GOP nominee and then President of the United States, but that he could have beaten Barack Obama in 2012 had he ran , and that he would “cream” him if Obama were to run for a third term. Trump really needs to take a step back for a moment and have a realistic look at where he lives on the political spectrum. Right now he’s little more than a novelty item in a young election cycle. His opponents, with the exception of those (Mike Huckabee) stupid enough to try to duplicate his sensationalism, are standing down while he makes a fool of himself, patiently waiting to see his campaign turn from a viable front-runner to a historical footnote....

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Drama Finally Settled, the House Set to Pass a Highway Bill

by Joan McCarter – Nothing motivates Congress like impending recess, particularly when that recess is five weeks long. So the House will vote Wednesday on that one thing they absolutely had to get done this week: yet another short-term funding bill for highway and surface transportation projects. This is after more than a week of drama in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House leadership have been racing to see who could jam up the other first. House Speaker John Boehner won. The fight over highways has split Senate and House Republican leaders, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) saying his chamber would not consider the six-year highway bill crafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).But on Tuesday, Republicans in both chambers sought to get on the same page, arguing that they all backed a long-term highway bill. Republicans in both chambers said passing the three-month bill would...

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Try On Zion

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Get Ready for Ugly as Markets Begin to Deal With Climate Crisis

By Carl Pope, EcoWatch –  Advocates of “market-based” climate solutions paint pastel pictures reflecting smoothly adjusting macro-economic models. Competitive markets gradually nudged by carbon pricing glide into a low carbon future in a modestly disruptive fashion, much as sulfur pollution from power plants was scaled back in the 1990’s. But commodity markets for oil and gas don’t work that way. These real markets are poised to savagely strand assets, upset expectations, overturn long established livelihoods and leave a trail of wreckage behind them — unless climate advocates start owning the fruits of their own success and preparing for the transition. Schumpeter’s destructive engine of capitalism is about to show its ugly side. Two powerful forces are currently driving energy markets and climate outcomes. Fossil fuel prices are indeed opening the door to climate solutions, but not through the gradual carbon pricing mechanisms so favored by economists (and recently, reluctantly beginning to be explored by...

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Neil Young and Monsanto Reignite War Over GMOs Since Release of ‘Seeding Fear’

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – Neil Young and Monsanto are once again trading barbs over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This time, it’s over Young’s new documentary, “Seeding Fear,” the story of Alabama farmers Michael White and his father who were sued by the agrochemical giant in 2003 for patent infringement of its GM soybeans. The lawsuit between the Whites and Monsanto was settled in 2006 out of court. “Even after the lawsuit was over, I couldn’t make him believe it was over. He would cry and keep saying, ‘Oh, they’re going to come back and sue me again,’” Michael says in the documentary. “It destroyed him. It destroyed his life. He went to his grave — this grave — still afraid of .” Young, a co-executive producer of the film, wrote on Facebook, which has more than 3 million likes, “Monsanto is a corporation with great wealth, now controlling over 90 percent of...

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Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Banking Bill

By Johnny Green, The Weed Blog – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure Thursday (16-14) that is intended to ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services. The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, would prohibit the Treasury Department and its enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, from using federal funds to punish banks that provide financial services to marijuana businesses that are operating legally under state laws. Many banks are currently unwilling to provide depository and other basic banking services to marijuana businesses because the substance is still illegal under federal law. Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government officials say marijuana businesses need to have access to banking because operating entirely in cash raises significant public safety concerns. The House is unlikely to consider its own Financial Services bill, so it...

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The Koch Brothers are About to Destroy Veterans’ Health Care and No One Knows About It

by J David Cox – The war on workers’ rights has shifted to a new and unlikely battleground this week: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And for the more than 350,000 employees and the veterans they serve, the stakes could not be higher. Let me explain. In the wake of last year’s “secret waitlist” scandal – where VA managers rigged the scheduling system to make it appear that more veterans were being seen than actually were – Congress passed a law giving VA Secretary McDonald the authority to fire bad managers and the resources to hire enough staff to care for the massive influx of new vets into the VA system. Were it not for the brave VA employee whistleblowers who put their careers on the line to speak out and expose the list-rigging, we never would have known the problem existed. Today, the VA is seeing more patients than...

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Right-Wing Unites Behind Anti-LGBT ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

by Kerry Eleveld – The right wing is coalescing around the newly introduced First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which aims to protect the ‘religious freedom’ of tax-exempt organizations and individuals who oppose same-sex marriage (i.e. give them a license to discriminate against gays). Rich Lowry of the conservative National Review Online writes: If supporters of same-sex marriage truly have no interest in punishing the exercise of religion they find objectionable, they can sign off on legislation to prevent it. Meanwhile, RedState.com last month instructed its readers to call their lawmakers in support of the bill. The bill, authored by Idaho Rep. Raúl R. Labrador and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, has 142 cosponsors in the House and conservatives demanded a vote on it earlier this month. Some GOP moderates have been simultaneously trying to temper the effort by drafting legislation that would offer limited religious protections while adding employment and housing protections on...

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Happy Birthday Medicare

by Robert Reich – Medicare turns fifty this week. It was signed into law July 30, 1965 – the crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It’s more popular than ever. Yet Medicare continues to be blamed for America’s present and future budget problems. That’s baloney. A few days ago Jeb Bush even suggested phasing it out. Seniors already receiving benefits should continue to receive them, he said, but “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.” Bush praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers instead. What Bush didn’t say was that Ryan’s vouchers wouldn’t keep up with increases in medical costs – leaving seniors with less coverage. The fact is, Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution. Its costs are being pushed upward by...

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