California To Allow Government To Seize People’s Guns Starting Jan. 1 Under New Law

by ANTIPHON FREEMAN – A new California law (AB 1014) is set to take effect on January 1, 2016. Specifically, it will allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) in situations where an individual is deemed to either “be a threat” or have the “potential for threatening behavior.” After the petition is submitted, a judge will be empowered to make the call, i.e. if there are sufficient enough reasons to warrant a person’s gun and ammo to be taken away from them and the judge deems the person a threat, it will be. It’s a perfectly logical law, actually. It’s about time a legal mechanism was put in place to allow for the seizure of guns in cases where it makes sense to do so. The rest of the country needs to follow California’s lead – it could...

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The Most Undercovered Stories of 2015 (Part One)

by BILLMOYERS.COM STAFF – Around this time every year, BillMoyers.com asks reporters, editors and bloggers which key story they feel the mainstream media failed to cover adequately over the last 12 months. This is the first installment of a two-part series. The social safety net reduced poverty by nearly half Greg Kaufmann One of the greatest hoaxes pulled on the American people is the assertion that “we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.” The conservative talking point was first uttered by President Reagan, and it has been pushed incessantly by the political class and the media ever since. But it’s not true. Census data released this year showed that in 2014 the safety net lifted 38 million people out of poverty. Without the safety net, our poverty rate would have been 27 percent instead of 15 percent. In 2012, the safety net literally cut poverty in half. That’s not...

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2015: The Year Police Killings in America Were Counted

by Sarah Lazare – Heightened visibility alone, however, has not effectively ended such slayings or brought justice to victims The Black Lives Matter movement that swept the country in 2015 has—among other accomplishments—forced global media outlets to afford victims of police killings the most basic acknowledgement: a public record of their names and deaths. Such a grim tally was maintained this year by both the Guardian and the Washington Post, following the consistent failure of the U.S. government to keep adequate records. According to the Guardian, 1,126 people were killed by police so far in 2015, averaging more than three a day, with 27 percent of those slain facing mental health issues. The numbers confirm the racial injustices highlighted by nationwide protests. Among black people in America, 6.9 per million were killed by police, compared to 2.86 white people per million. In other words, African-Americans were nearly 2.5 times as likely...

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Costa Rica Achieved 99% Renewable Energy In 2015

by Amanda Froelich – For 285 days this year, Costa Rica powered its grid on 100% renewable sources Buen Trabajo, Costa Rica! In April of this year, the bio-diverse nation announced that it had not used any fossil fuels for electricity. Now, at the end of 2015, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute has revealed in a statement that 285 days this year were fossil fuel-free. Witnessing a small country like Costa Rica source nearly all of its energy from renewable resources gives one hope that soon, all countries will be able to boast similar results. Phys reports that the bulk of the small nation’s power generation comes from hydropower, thanks to a large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. Geothermal energy, wind, biomass, and solar power are also relied upon by the green nation. According to the institute, Costa Rica was ahead of its renewable energy targets and goal of becoming carbon neutral by...

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5 Crazy Things Ted Cruz Said He Will Do During His First Day As President

by MARCUS AURELIUS – Republican candidate Ted Cruz has laid out five things he will do for his first day in office and his plans border on insanity. Let’s take a look at his “plans.” 1) He wants to rip up the deal with Iran and put the country on path to yet another disastrous war in the Middle East. Cruz said: “We’ve seen six and a half years of President Obama leading from behind. Weakness is provocative, and this Iranian nuclear deal is nothing short of catastrophic. This deal, on its face, will send over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khomeini, making the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism…You’d better believe it. If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.” This fear mongering is typical of Republicans. The reality though is...

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What Everyone Should Know About The Police Killing Of Tamir Rice (2002-2014)

by JUDD LEGUM – Prosecutor Tim McGinty announced that he would not seek criminal charges against the officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. The decision came after a grand jury, which has been hearing evidence for three months, declined to issue an indictment. Rice’s family and others sharply criticized McGinty’s conduct throughout the grand jury process, arguing that he was manipulating the proceedings to the benefit of the officers. Here are seven facts that everyone should know about the case. 1. The officer fatally shot Tamir Rice less than 2 seconds after exiting his police car. This is according to the official report from the prosecutor: “Officer Loehman discharged his firearm within two seconds of exiting the car. Officer Loehmann fired two shots, one of which hit Tamir in the abdomen and caused him to fall in the area between the...

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Trump: Muslims Knew About San Bernardino Shooters But Didn’t Report Them

by AVIVA SHEN – Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump elaborated Monday evening on his recent proposal that Muslim Americans monitor each other and report suspicious activity, claiming Muslims knew about but failed to report the radicalized couple that shot up a government center in San Bernardino, California. According to NPR reporter Asma Khalid, Trump told rally attendees in Nashua, New Hampshire that “there’s something going on” with Muslims and “their culture.” “These people in California, people knew he had bombs all over the floor, people knew it, why didn’t they turn him in?” he asked. Follow Asma Khalid Wanted to make sure I hadn’t misheard Donald Trump’s Muslim comments, so transcribing that section here. Trump has refocused his campaign from anti-Latino bigotry to anti-Muslim bigotry in recent months, proposing a database of Muslims in America and a ban on all Muslims entering the country. Monday’s comments were building off his...

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President Obama’s Number Of Vacation Days Proves That Republicans Are The Real Lazy Ones

by STEPHEN D FOSTER JR – President Obama has taken less vacation days in SEVEN YEARS than Republicans have given themselves EACH YEAR since taking over Congress in 2010. Once again, President Obama and his family took their annual holiday trip to his home state of Hawaii to celebrate Christmas with relatives, and of course, that means conservatives went berserk about how lazy Obama is and how he isn’t doing his job even though the job travels with the President no matter where he goes. But all it takes is simple math to discover that President Obama’s work ethic is far greater than Republicans and makes them look like the real lazy ones. Republicans may not understand math, but when we run the numbers, it becomes clear that they commit hypocrisy every time they complain about President Obama taking time off from the daily grind of the presidency. Last December,...

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Hillary Clinton is Going to be President, Thank God

by LiberalCanuck – I am not a religious person.  In fact, like many, I am an atheist.  Unlike many, I even reject the concept of “spirituality”; which I feel is just a nonsensical way to dress up atheism in a cloak of religious superstition. However, I find real value in the expression “Thank God”.  It is a way to acknowledge that strange and wonderful confluence of need and coincidence.  The seemingly magical arrival of the right person at the right time, such as Roosevelt in the 1930’s or Churchill in the 1940’s; earns the phrase “Thank God.” It is in view of the challenges, risks, dangers and outright threats to continued human existence that I say Thank God Hillary Clinton is going to be President in 2017. Thank God a person with unprecedented experience in foreign policy is going to be the one directing the response to ISIS, Syria, Putin,...

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3 Things Pennsylvania Prosecutors Have Known About Bill Cosby For Over A Decade

by JUDD LEGUM – After years of allegations, Bill Cosby was finally charged with sexually assault in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. But newly released documents suggest that, at least in this case, the delay was unnecessary. The essential information that underlies the charges against Cosby has been known to prosecutors for more than a decade. Sexual assault allegations are frequently very difficult to prove. Absent physical evidence, it is typically the word of the alleged victim versus the accused. Often, the victim alleges sexual assault and the accused claims the sexual activity was consensual. It makes it very difficult for victims to overcome the presumption of innocence in a criminal trial. Indeed, this was what prosecutor Bruce Castor suggested when he declined to prosecute Cosby for the sexual assault of Amanda Comstand in 2005. From Castor’s release: he District Attorney finds insufficient, credible, and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge...

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Pentagon: Paris Attacks Suspects Killed in Airstrikes

Two ISIL fighters with ties to Paris assault among 10 “leaders” killed in recent air attacks Two suspects in the deadly Paris attacks claimed by ISIL were killed this month by coalition air strikes in Syria and Iraq, the US military said on Tuesday. French national Charaffe al-Mouadan, 27, a native of the St Denis suburb of Paris, was among 10 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leaders killed in air raids targeting its leadership, Colonel Steve Warren said. “Over the past month, we’ve killed 10 ISIL leadership figures with targeted air strikes, including several external attack planners, some of whom are linked to the Paris attacks,” Warren said. Mouadan is believed to have fled to Syria in November 2015. It was unclear if he travelled there before or after the November 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.  How should France deal with...

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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Cognitively-Deprived Conservatives

by Paul Buchheit – Many conservatives shy away from the facts, but a willingness to consider them would be a good way to start 2016. 1. Accept that Poverty Causes Marital Problems, Not the Other Way Around In his condescending way, libertarian Charles Murray wrote: “There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America…Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms.” Senator Marco Rubio agrees, calling marriage the “greatest tool” for lifting families out of poverty. Marriage, to such people, spreads magic anti-poverty dust over newly-wedded couples. Here are the facts: Upper-class and lower-class divorce rates rose and fell in similar fashion until the late 1980s, around the time inequality began to rip apart the fabric of American society, and to break down low-income family life. Evidence keeps piling up. Studies show that...

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2015 Year Ender

by Gwynne Dyer – If historical ingratitude were a crime, most of the people writing year-end pieces this month would be in jail. This year was not like 1919, when 3 percent of the world’s population died of influenza, or 1943, when the Second World War was killing a million people each month, or 1983, when we came very close to World War Three (though the public didn’t realise it at the time). For most people, in most places, 2015 has been a pretty good year. Yes, of course, the war in Syria, and millions of refugees, and the downturn in China dragging the world economy down with it, and terrorism here, there and everywhere. And of course, climate change waiting around the corner to drag us all down. But if you are waiting for a year with nothing to worry about, you’ll be waiting a long time. The war in...

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Everything You Need To Know About How Republicans Are Running The Senate, In One Number

by IAN MILLHISER – Eleven. If you want to understand how the Senate has functioned since Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took over as Senate Majority Leader last January, the number 11 offers a clear window into McConnell’s entire philosophy of governance — or perhaps, non-governance. According to the Federal Judicial Center, the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed just 11 judges this year. That compares to 40 during President George W. Bush’s seventh year in office, 34 during President Bill Clinton’s seventh year, and 44 at this point in Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Notably, all three of these presidents also spent their seventh year during a period of divided government when the opposite party controlled the Senate, and yet judicial confirmations only slowed to their current crawl under Majority Leader McConnell. One of the judges confirmed in 2015, moreover, Judge Kara Farnandez Stoll, was elevated to a federal appeals court — the remaining ten...

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Obama’s Best Rebuttals Of Republican Bulls**t During His Presidency (VIDEO)

by MARCUS AURELIUS – President Barack Obama has been known for his oratory skills and his “no drama Obama” coolness under pressure. He’s also known for his quick wit and rebuttals when Republicans attack him, and there have been plenty of attacks in the seven years he’s been president. The Democratic president has always handled himself with charisma and a humor that will be missed once he leaves office in a year. Take for example this question posed by Barbara Walters about Sarah Palin. Obama is actually trying to be nice until he’s pushed a little: Walters: “You may have heard that Sarah Palin told me just last week that she could beat you if she ran. Could she?” Obama: “You know I don’t speculate on what’s gonna happen two years from now.” Walters: “Mr. President, you will not tell me that you think you could beat Sarah Palin?” Obama:...

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Congressman Calls For 24/7 Surveillance Of Mosques

by BEENISH AHMED – In an interview with Fox News Rep. Peter King (R-NY) defended a previous call he made for the sort of “24/7 surveillance” of mosques that has already proved ineffective in his home state, because he said, “that’s where the threat is coming from.” When asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about the outcry such a policy might receive from “civil libertarians and constitutionalists,” King said he was not concerned. “They can cry all they want,” he said. Despite his call to infiltrate mosques, King said that most Muslims in America are “good people.” “e can say that 98 99 percent of Muslims in this country are good people — I’m actually swearing in the first elected Muslim on Long Island to office, she’s a good friend of mine — so this is nothing against Muslims,” he said. “But the fact is that where...

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8 Major Battles Obama And The Left Won In 2015

by OLIVER WILLIS – If you listened to the mainstream media and the conservative right, you could be forgiven for coming away with the impression that President Obama and the left were “losers” in the language of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. But in reality, the President and the left won several major battles over the last year. While they didn’t win every clash, and the big fights are far from over on several key topics – there were several advances that were made. Here are the 8 biggest battles Obama and the left won in 2015: Same-Sex Marriage Legal. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, same-sex marriage is now legal. The fight over same-sex rights has been the biggest civil rights cause of the last thirty years, and the most significant hurdle has now been cleared, just three years after President Obama became the first major...

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Palestinians Defy Israel’s Jerusalem Ban

by Patrick Strickland – Banning Palestinians from East Jerusalem is part of Israeli crackdown on human rights activists, rights groups say Two Palestinians have taken refuge in an International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Jerusalem in defiance of an Israeli order banning them from entering their home town for several months. Samer Abu Eisheh, a 28-year-old freelance journalist from occupied East Jerusalem, recently received orders from the Israeli military informing him that he was banned from Jerusalem for five months. Another Jerusalemite, 32-year-old Saleh Abu Sbeih, was handed a six-month ban.  Al Jazeera World – Jerusalem: Dividing al-Aqsa “I don’t know why they are giving me a military order,” Abu Eisheh said, speaking to Al Jazeera by telephone from inside the ICRC office. “I am a media man.” Abu Eisheh said he expected Israeli forces to arrest him nonetheless. Asked why he and Abu Sbeih chose the ICRC...

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Edward Clarkin Is The Most Important Man In Journalism Today — And He’s Probably Not A Real Person

by JUDD LEGUM – A week ago, no one had ever heard of Edward Clarkin. Today he has inspired multiple parody Twitter accounts, prompted one journalist to quit his job after 22 years and has been the subject of intense speculation in elite media circles. This is how Edward Clarkin went from an unknown to the center of the world of journalism. Who Is Edward Clarkin? Edward Clarkin holds himself out to be a reporter for the New Britain Herald, a small paper in Connecticut with a circulation of about 7500. Prior to this month, Clarkin’s only articles for the New Britain Herald were four effusive restaurant reviews published in 2011. “If A Taste of Poland is anything like Warsaw or Krakow, I’m buying an airplane ticket tomorrow,” Clarkin wrote. Then, on December 1, Clarkin published a nearly 2,000 word article on the performance of business courts, which specialize in...

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Former KKK Leader Says Donald Trump’s Rhetoric Might Be A Little Too Radical

by KATIE VALENTINE – Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke spoke candidly about Donald Trump recently, saying the Republican presidential candidate speaks “a lot more radically” than he does. Duke, who is also a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, made the comments in an interview on December 17. As Buzzfeed reports, the interview is labeled “Fox Interview,” but it’s not clear by watching it who the interviewer is, or whether she works for Fox. “As far as what I see, according to the candidates that are out there now, Republicans and Democrats, I think he’s head and shoulders right now above the rest,” Duke said of Trump in the interview. “I don’t agree with everything he says, he speaks a little more, actually he speaks a little more, a lot more radically than I talk. And I think that’s a positive and negative.” Trump has...

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‘Saddened But Not Surprised’: No Indictment for Cops Who Killed Tamir Rice

by Deirdre Fulton – Twelve-year-old’s family accuses prosecutor of ‘abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment’ An Ohio grand jury has decided not to bring criminal charges against the two Cleveland police officers involved in last year’s fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Rice, who was black, was playing with a pellet gun when he was shot by white Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann. Video evidence shows that neither Loehmann nor Frank Garmback, the other officer present, moved to provide first aid to Rice while he lay dying. According to Cleveland.com: Monday’s decision comes more than 13 months after the shooting, one that catapulted Cleveland into the national debate about police use of force. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty, whose oversight of the grand jury process drew criticism, called the shooting “a perfect storm of errors” while announcing the grand jury’s decision at a press...

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The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping (VIDEO)

by Al Jazeera Staff – Al Jazeera investigation raises questions about whether sports heroes are linked to performance enhancing drugs Inside a hotel room in Austin, Texas, a pharmacist advises a professional athlete on taking performance-enhancing drugs. “One anabolic, and I can give you something to use right now is this Delta 2 stuff. It’s a steroid. There’s a bunch of football players who take this,” he tells Liam Collins, a British hurdler reporting undercover. In another conversation, a Vancouver pharmacist poses a question to the same athlete. “Have I doped people? Oh yeah. And no one’s got caught because the system is so easy to beat. That’s the sad fact.” Later, a naturopath doctor explains how he would destroy medical records if investigators came looking for them. “I can just document everything not in this chart but on my own chart. And if somebody ever comes sniffing for it, it’s...

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Mic Drop: Bernie Sanders Tears The Corporate Media Apart For Endless Trump Coverage (VIDEO)

by JOE FLETCHER – Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders has been on a roll in his calling out of the corporate media’s coverage of election news. He hit the nail on the head once more, during an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN’s New Day. During the interview, Sanders was asked what he thinks is the reason for Donald Trump’s seemingly unshakable popularity with conservatives. Sanders’ answer is far more honest than anything that would be uttered by a less calculated candidate. “A recent study showed on ABC evening news, Trump over a period of time got 81 minutes of time. Bernie Sanders got 20 seconds. Now you tell me why,” Sanders said. Sanders continues on to say that: “I think it has to do with the fact that Trump is very smart. He knows that media is not so interested in the serious issues facing this country. They...

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We Must Face the Facts: Donald Trump is a Political Cult Leader

by chaunceydevega – It is clear that Donald Trump is the center of a cult of personality. But after watching his ascendance in the 2016 Republican presidential primary race, I have come to the disturbing conclusion that he is something far worse. Trump is of course, an indicator of a broken American politics and a Republican Party that is extremely radical and revanchist. But, Donald Trump may actually be the leader of a political cult. As such, “Trumpmania” exhibits key aspects of political psychopathology. Another article examining the Jonestown mass-suicide from a clinical psychology perspective is entitled “The Group Psychology of Mass Madness.” The authors propose the concept of “collective pathological regression within a charismatically led mass movement.” Their analysis of the leader of the Peoples Temple, Reverend Jim Jones, shows how his actions triggered the “mass madness that engulfed the inhabitants of Jonestown.” The following terms, then, were used by mental health...

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AZ Taps Chemtrail Truther Who Thinks Earth Is 6,000 Years Old To Educate Their Kids (VIDEO)

by CHRISTIAN DRAKE – Republican contempt towards public education has hit an all-time low in Arizona. This is made painfully clear by the appointment of Senator Sylvia Allen to lead the Arizona legislative committee on education. You might think that Senator Allen had an extensive education in teaching, with years of experience both in the classroom and from an administrative standpoint. However, you would be dead wrong. Allen attended high school, but never went to college. That fact is not terrible in itself, but when you are in a position like hers, it’s ludicrous at best. Let’s look at her qualifications which will ensure she provides the best possible education for Arizona children: Allen teaches students about our system of democratically elected government, by telling everyone there is a government conspiracy that uses chemtrails to control the weather. Allen proved her strong literacy in social studies and civics when she...

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Hillary Clinton. Our Next Candidate. Our 45th President

by Gaius Septimus – We are about to enter the period of actual primary and caucus voting… February 2, 2016 seems like a very short time away. And while a month is still a long time, and while we have another Democratic debate in mid-January, I have made my choice. Hillary Clinton is our best candidate and our best bet to win the general election. Based on the latest opinion polls, she is trusted more than Sanders on all the issues, including the economy. According to the latest CNN poll, Yet Sanders continues to trail Clinton as the candidate better able to handle economic issues, 47% say they think Clinton is best able to handle it, 39% Sanders. The former secretary of state has even larger leads on foreign policy matters and ISIS, however, topping Sanders 72% to 15% on foreign policy, 63% to 18% on ISIS. Clinton also holds a...

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Concealed Carry Permits Issued In 25 States No Longer Valid In VA

by RANDA MORRIS – The state of Virginia no longer wants gun-toting fugitives, convicted stalkers, drug dealers, and other unsavory characters from outside the state, to feel safe and welcome inside its borders. Go figure. As of February 1, 2016, concealed carry permits obtained in one of the 25 U.S. states that hands them out to criminals and fugitives will no longer be recognized in Virginia. According to the Virginia State Police website, a legal review of the state’s current handgun permit agreements with 30 other states found that the vast majority of those states failed to meet the same standards that Virginia sets out for concealed carry permit holders. Under Virginia law, the state is supposed to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states only under a specific set of circumstances. According to Virginia Code § 18.2-308.014, permits issued by other states are valid only when “requirements and...

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Antibiotics Expert Warns It’s ‘Almost Too Late’ to Stop Global Superbug

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘We have got a 50-50 chance of salvaging the most important antibiotics but we need to stop agriculture from ruining it again,’ says UK health expert Following the discovery in the UK of bacteria that resist the most common antibiotic of last resort, a leading British expert is warning it is “almost too late” to stop a global superbug crisis. News outlets reported Monday that UK government scientists have found a gene, known as mcr-1, that gives bacteria resistance to colistin, often used by doctors when other antibiotics fail. Such resistance was first discovered last month in China, and in the past few weeks, the resistance gene has also been found in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and in several Asian and African countries. The rise of the so-called post-antibiotic era is widely linked to over- and misuse of antibiotics in industrial agriculture. Public Health England found...

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Prominent Atheist CLOBBERS Trump With Incredibly Damning Questions (VIDEO)

by SARAH – If there’s one thing that has been the centerpiece of Donald Trump’s campaign, it’s been his thinly veiled obvious and bombastic racism. He doesn’t even try to hide it. In fact, it’s really the only thing he’s running on in his campaign that he’s been most clear about. Trump certainly hasn’t been clear about any policy platforms, other than that they will be “great” and the “best ever” to “make America great again.” And unfortunately, there are people in this nation dumb enough to fall for his schtick, because apparently their brains don’t grasp critical thinking whatsoever. Blasting Trump’s not so thinly veiled racism, is none other than The Friendly Atheist founder Hemant Mehta. He took to his YouTube account and pointed out some things that Trump doesn’t want to admit. Trump isn’t against Muslims, per se, or Mexicans, he’s against brown people. After all, how does...

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Gun Dealers May Actually Have To Pay For Some Of The Carnage They Cause In Seattle

by IAN MILLHISER – A National Rifle Association lawsuit seeking to immunize gun dealers from a recently enacted tax was rejected by a state trial court on Tuesday. If Judge Palmer Robinson’s decision is ultimately upheld on appeal, the tax will fund gun safety research as well as programs seeking to prevent gun violence. Last August, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) signed an ordinance providing for a $25 tax on each gun and a 2 to 5 cent tax on each round of ammunition sold within the city. The NRA, along with several other pro-gun groups and individuals, sued, claiming that the law violates a Washington State law preventing municipal governments from enacting any “regulation” of guns. As Judge Robinson explains in his opinion, however, the power to tax is separate from the power to regulate. Among other things, he notes, the ordinance does not “place any burden or restriction”...

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Why We’re Disowning Jim Webb

by lowkell – We the bloggers and progressive activists who helped Jim Webb launch his political career, do hereby and henceforth definitively disown the dude. Here’s the backstory. Once upon a time, a blog named Raising Kaine – predecessor to Blue Virginia – established to advance progressive politics and win elections across the Commonwealth, was searching for a viable candidate to knock off right-wing U.S. Senator George Allen. This was in 2005, when the Bush administration was plunging the country off a cliff with the disastrous war in Iraq and its tragically incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina. And we found a fascinating prospect – a “Born Fighting,” Scots-Irish war hero, a former Navy Secretary (in the Reagan Administration, no less) and an Emmy Award-winning author who combined a rural, working class past with a deep concern for growing income inequality in this country, libertarian(ish) views on social issues, and fierce opposition to...

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Planned Parenthood Shooter Wants To Defend Himself In Court

by CASEY QUINLAN – Robert Lewis Dear, the man arrested for killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado last month, has invoked his constitutional right to defend himself in a court of law. Dear has been charged with 179 counts, which include first-degree murder and attempted murder. Earlier this month, Dear, 57, said he killed the three victims, one police officer and two civilians, and called himself a “warrior for the babies.” At the time of his arrest, Dear reportedly said, “No more baby parts.” Abortion rights and reproductive health advocates have argued for violence against abortion providers to be treated as domestic terrorism, given the fact that the legal definition of domestic terrorism is a dangerous criminal act “intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population” or “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” The Colorado Springs shooting happened after...

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2015: The Year That Black Lives Mattered, At Last

by Terrance Heath – Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Laquan McDonald. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Rekia Boyd. Tamir Rice. Most Americans have at least heard their names, and the stories of how they died. We have seen videos and images of their deaths, or of the aftermaths. They are African-Americans who have been killed by police, or died in police custody, in just over a year. There are many more. We know their names because of the ⌗BlackLivesMatter movement, born after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin. The ubiquity of smartphones and mobile internet access put the tools of the media in the hands of savvy, young, blacks who used them to demand America pay attention to what had long been going on — and going unheralded — in black communities, where the police acted as an occupying force, and court systems turn jails into debtors’ prisons with...

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55 Cops Involved in Fatal Shootings in 2015 Have Killed Before, WaPo Reports

by Anthony L. Fisher – In 1 out 8 reported police shootings this year, an officer had previously used deadly force Another day, another quantifiable reason we need a comprehensive national database documenting fatal shootings by police. Just yesterday, I wrote about the scores of people over the past five years who had been unarmed and/or shot in the back by Georgia police. Later in the day, the Washington Post released a report that shows at least 55 officers who had previously fired their weapons in fatal shootings were involved in fatal shootings this year. The number could actually be significantly higher, because of the 743 killings by police identified in the first 9 months of thus year, police agencies only gave the Post data relating to 367. The Post also notes, “Many departments withheld officers’ names from the public or released only vague details, making it impossible to precisely determine how many...

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8 Of The Worst — And Weirdest — Ways Politicians Tried To Limit Access To Abortion In 2015

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – 2015 wasn’t a great year for reproductive rights. Federal and state lawmakers introduced more than 400 bills and enacted 47 new laws intended to restrict access to reproductive health care — the most in any recent year. Considerably fewer bills sought to expand access — and only three of those became laws. On the federal level, the politicians backing many of these anti-abortion bills know it’s unlikely they’ll get past Congress. But that’s not always the point. Instead, they’re used as a tool to repetitively hammer false ideas about abortion into the public sphere. On the state level, meanwhile, abortion opponents are pushing toward new extremes to hamper patients’ access to the procedure on multiple levels. Here are the most popular — and most absurd — ways legislators tried to restrict access to abortion and other types of reproductive health care in 2015: 1) Pretending women...

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EXCLUSIVE: The Story Sheldon Adelson Didn’t Want You To Read

by JUDD LEGUM – Two weeks ago, conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest paper. On Tuesday, its editor-in-chief of five years, Mike Hengel, resigned. If you are a subscriber to the Review-Journal, you would have read a grand total of 79 words on Wednesday about Hengel’s departure. According to the story, which did not have a byline, the decision was “mutual” and “he did not believe he was forced out.” That wasn’t, however, the original story that was written by a Review-Journal reporter and approved by its editors. The actual story of Hengel’s departure was killed by the paper’s management team who now answers to Adelson, according to a source in the Review-Journal newsroom who spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution from the new ownership. Jennifer Robison  ✔@_JRobison Mike Hengel, @reviewjournal editor, announces that he will accept a...

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Socialism: The Most-Searched Term in 2015

by Duncan Cameron – Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist, astounding for a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Whatever the reasons, the socialist is highly popular with Democrats, giving Hillary Clinton a run for the 2016 nomination. Sanders is hardly a typical party partisan. When Vermont elected the former mayor of Burlington to the U.S. Senate, Sanders sat as an independent socialist, not as a Democrat. Sanders’ support has grown strong despite weak media coverage. By most counts, he is more popular with Americans than the widely covered Republican aspirant to the same exalted position, Donald Trump, while running in a virtual media blackout. Even the Democratic National Committee seems determined to keep Sanders from connecting with the voting public, scheduling candidate TV debates for times when few Americans are available to watch them. When Sanders set out his socialist creed in a speech at Georgetown University, it...

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Judge Orders Release of Video in Fatal San Diego Police Shooting

by Ed Krayewski – Fridoon Rawshan Nehad was shot once in the chest by a cop who said he had no doubt Nehad, found with a pen, was going to stab him In April, Officer Neal Browder of the San Diego Police Department shot Fridoon Rawshan Nehad from 20 feet away once in the chest afterresponding to a call about a knife-wielding transient threatening a porn shop clerk who told him he couldn’t sleep in the alley behind the store. Browder did not turn on his body camera before leaving his vehicle, but part of the incident was caught on a nearby surveillance camera. Authorities seized the footage as part of their investigation, and in November the district attorney decided not to pursue charges against the officers. The district attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, resisted releasing the footage but was required to after a judge sided with local media outlets and lifted a...

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New Study Links Milk Consumption To Parkinson’s Disease

by Amanda Froelich – “Got Milk?” If so, now might be the time to ditch it. According to researchers from Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, contaminants found in cow’s milk may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. As TIME Magazine reports, lead researcher Robert Abbott and his team of colleagues took advantage of an environmental scandal in Hawaii in the 1980s to investigate the connection between milk consumption and Parkinson’s. Around the same time, there was also a study of heart disease among Japanese-American men being conducted. Over 8,000 men were involved, and they were followed from mid-life to death in the study. The participants provided detailed information about what they ate, including how much milk they drank. Some even agreed to donate their brains for research upon death. Abbott and his team studied 449 of the brains and recorded the density of neurons in specific areas of...

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Ted Cruz Vows Not To Honor Global Climate Deal As President

by EMILY ATKIN – The United States will break its recent promise to approximately 200 countries to join in the fight against climate change if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is elected president. That’s according to Cruz himself, who on Tuesday said he would withdraw the U.S. from the historic climate agreement reached in Paris earlier this month. That non-binding agreement saw nearly 200 leading nations unanimously embrace a plan that would leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned, thereby limiting global warming “to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels.” According to the Washington Post, Cruz said the international agreement was disingenuous — not really to fight climate change, but to gain “more and more government power.” “Barack Obama seems to think the SUV parked in your driveway is a bigger threat to national security than radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us. That’s just nutty,” Cruz said. “These...

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10 Good Things About the Not-So-Great Year 2015

by Medea Benjamin – It would certainly be easy to do a piece about 10 horrible events from 2015, from the ongoing war in Syria and the refugee crisis, to the bombings in Beirut, Paris and San Bernardino, to the rise of Donald Trump and Islamophobia. But that wouldn’t be a very inspiring way to bid farewell to this year and usher in a new one. So let’s look at 10 reasons to feel better about 2015. 1. Iran nuclear deal: Despite significant political opposition and millions of dollars spent to try to quash the deal, the nuclear agreement with Iran was passed and the possibility of another US military entanglement was narrowly avoided. The powerful lobby AIPAC had its wings clipped, as did Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu (except that the deal unfortunately came with a payoff of even more US tax dollars going to the Israeli military). 2. Cuba thaw: It’s...

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Hillary Clinton’s Response To Bullying Moves Fifth-Grader To Tears (VIDEO)

by VERA – Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton took a shot at Donald Trump while comforting one of her youngest supporters during a town hall meeting in Iowa yesterday. Fifth-grader Hannah Tandy was in attendance, and she waited until the end of the event to ask Clinton how she would address bullying, especially when certain mental and medical conditions were concerned. When Clinton asked Tandy what made her ask this question, the 10-year-old revealed that she had personally been affected by bullying: “I have asthma, and occasionally I’ve heard people talking behind my back about not wanting to be near me because I have asthma. I mean, people, it’s not contagious.” Clinton hugged Tandy and told her that she was “very brave” for asking the question on behalf of Americans everywhere who have experienced or been affected by bullying. Clinton then pulled from her own experiences and challenges. She...

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GOP Candidates Receive Failing Grades on Climate as 2015 Smashes Global Temperature Records

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report – The recently concluded COP21 climate conference in Paris was hailed by much of the mainstream media as a success. Nevertheless, the reality of what the talks produced immediately came under fire from critics, as well as from many people who were directly involved in the talks. The crux of those criticisms is this: The countries’ pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions are all voluntary, and nothing is binding or even enforceable. To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?” “Since the only mechanism remains voluntary national caps on emissions, without even any guidance on how stringent those caps would need to be, it is hard to be optimistic that these goals are likely to be achieved,” Professor John Shepherd of the National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, told the BBC. In advance of the conference, Pope Francis warned, perhaps far more...

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The Problem With Tim Cook’s Claim That Apple ‘Pays Every Tax Dollar We Owe’

by BRYCE COVERT – Apple, which made $53 billion in net income this year, says it pays an effective corporate tax rate in the U.S. of around 25 percent, despite the on-paper corporate rate of 35 percent. Some have said is actually more like 8 percent and it has avoided paying billions in taxes. The strategies it’s used to reduce its tax bills have drawn scrutiny from the U.S. Senate and the European Commission. But the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, is fighting back. When confronted with some of the claims against its accounting practices, Cook told interviewer Charlie Roes it’s “total political crap,” adding, “There’s no truth to it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.” Cook started the interview saying that the company pays “more taxes in this country than anyone,” adding, “We happily pay it.” But an analysis in 2012 found that the company was able to avoid...

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Why Dictators Don’t Bring Stability To The Middle East

by JUSTIN SALHANI – Presidential candidates are finding an oddly-timed nostalgia for ruthless autocrats. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the White House’s position on the Syrian civil war during last week’s debate, arguing that deposing the Assad regime would see Syria follow the chaotic aftermath of Libya’s Ghaddafi, Iraq’s Hussein, and Egypt’s Mubarak. Republicans aren’t the only ones with this belief, as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) showed Sunday on Meet the Press. Host Chuck Todd asked Sanders if the Middle East would be “more stable today with Saddam, Ghaddafi and Assad, all sort of strong men in charge? ” Sanders responded that “all three of those guys are terrible dictators and the goal is through a Democratic process to get rid of terrible dictators,” but “yes, the region would be much more stable. The point here is that it is easy for a...

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Did the White House Just Save Colorado’s Marijuana from the Supreme Court? (VIDEO)

by Joshua Swain – The White House is seeking to prevent a lawsuit geared toward stopping Colorado’s marijuana legalization. In a brief filed last Wednesday, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to throw out the case brought on by neighboring Nebraska and Oklahoma, where possession can still be a felony. Both states claim Colorado’s legal marijuana is being smuggled across the borders at such a high amount it’s “draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” While the Obama administration has refused to budge on marijuana’s Schedule 1 status, its active engagement to end the lawsuit signals further acceptance for other states looking to legalize recreational use. As Reason senior editor and drug-policy blogger Jacob Sullum points out in his latest interview with Reason TV, the states are where the first steps at correcting bad federal policy are taken. “When they repealed alcohol prohibition, it was left...

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What the Heck Is the First Amendment Defense Act, and Should We Be Worried?

by Scott Shackford – When “religious freedom” gets invoked in the United States, it can be a mixed bag. It can be a term legitimately be used to describe the right of Americans to express their faith how they choose and associate accordingly, provided they don’t violate the rights of others. Or it could be invoked inappropriately as a justification for government discrimination, as was the case of Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who tried to use her religion as a reason not to comply with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision that made same-sex marriage recognition the law of the land. During the Supreme Court’s hearing for Obergefell, justices debated whether a decision to mandate federal marriage recognition could lead down the line to punishment or withholding of funds for religious schools who receive federal money if they continue to decline to recognize same-sex marriage. After all, religion used...

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The Plutocrats Are Winning. Don’t Let Them!

by Bill Moyers – The vast inequality they are creating is a death sentence for government by consent of the people. This is the fight of our lives and how it ends is up to us Dear Readers: In the fall of 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, as families grieved and the nation mourned, Washington swarmed with locusts of the human kind: wartime opportunists, lobbyists, lawyers, ex-members of Congress, bagmen for big donors: all of them determined to grab what they could for their corporate clients and rich donors while no one was looking. Across the land, the faces of Americans of every stripe were stained with tears. Here in New York, we still were attending memorial services for our firemen and police. But in the nation’s capital, within sight of a smoldering Pentagon that had been struck by one of the hijacked planes, the predator class was hard at...

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Fox News May Bump Candidates To The ‘Kids’ Table’ For The Next Debate

by EMILY ATKIN –   Five gone, seven to go. Republican presidential debate season is not even halfway over, but already there’s a palpable feeling of repetition. A huge crowd of candidates shuffle onstage. The moderator asks about Donald Trump. Someone at the far end of the podium line insults Donald Trump. Donald Trump laughs and comments on someone’s appearance. There is a lot of yelling. Unless Trump drops out of the race, there’s no guarantee that the next seven debates won’t follow that same line of questioning. But at least one thing might change before the next contest: That huge crowd of nine or 10 candidates might be sliced down to about six. On Tuesday, Fox Business Network announced that it would be changing its criteria for candidates to qualify for its upcoming main stage debate in January. The criteria, it noted, would limit the number of participants to...

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Donald Trump says ‘Schlonged’ is an ‘Often Used Word in Politics’

by Barbara Morrill – Facing a barrage of criticism over his vile and misogynistic remark that Hillary Clinton “got schlonged” by Barack Obama in 2008, Donald Trump, the leading contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, is doing some Trump-style damage control: Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump When I said that Hillary Clinton got schlonged by Obama, it meant got beaten badly. The media knows this. Often used word in politics! 10:37 PM – 22 Dec 2015 See? He wasn’t being a sexist pig, he was just using a common political expression. How common, you ask? Well, a Nexis search of the word “schlonged,” from 1990 through December 20, 2015, turns up a number of instances of the use of the word. Five, to be exact. There was a 2007 episode of The Man Show where, during a segment on pornography, there was a deep discussion about “spunk,” “neanderthal women pleasuring the wooly mammoth,” “delightful vaginas of yesteryear,” along with their “donkey-schlonged...

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