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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New Poll: Donald Trump Would Get ‘Schlonged’ By Bernie Sanders

by MARCUS AURELIUS – A new poll shows that if elections were held today, Donald Trump would get annihilated, obliterated, or as the Republican billionaire would put it, schlonged by Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders in a general election. Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll said: “Sen. Bernie Sanders hammers him.” The poll shows Trump would get schlonged by a wide 51-38 margin and Hillary Clinton would also beat Trump in a general election by a 47-40 margin. That wasn’t the end of the bad news for Trump. The national poll found up to 61 percent of Americans say Trump “does not share their values,” 58 percent are convinced he “is not honest and trustworthy,”and 57 percent say he “does not care about their needs and problems.” The poll also found that GOP voters seem to be out of touch with the rest of the electorate when it comes...

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Best Stupid Gun Fails Of 2015 — Possible Proof That Evolution Has Stalled (VIDEO)

by CHARLES TOPHER – Guns are no laughing matter. Guns are the root cause of an incredibly high number of deaths in America. A conservative can tell you all day long that “guns don’t kill people,” right after they talk about how many people were killed by some lunatic’s trigger finger. Put that finger on almost anything other than a trigger and I can almost guarantee you won’t get the easy to purchase, easy to modify, easy to buy ammo for American assault rifle. The people in this video have little to no respect for the power they’re wielding. They’re lucky, in some of these cases, that nobody was injured or killed. There are rifles, shotguns and pistols– each carrying its own version of death — and a whole slew of extremely stupid people willing to fire them, regardless of their lack of training, or in some of their cases,...

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CBS Pathetically Edits Muslim Focus Group’s Criticism Of U.S. – Here’s The Whole Story (VIDEO)

by SARAH – The media is a powerful tool and has a huge privilege of being able to tell the news and stories that might not otherwise be heard. It also has the ability to shape narratives so that the public hears and sees only what it is being shown, other than perhaps the whole story. This is exactly what just happened during a focus group of Muslim-Americans run by CBS’ Frank Luntz. Luntz really wanted this group of Muslims to hate Donald Trump, to condemn the terror attacks as though it is their responsibility to do so, and made sure not to include any criticism of American policies that actually harm Muslims. One of the best responses to one of Luntz questions was, when answering a question surrounding San Bernardino, New York City activist Amelia Noor-Oshiro told The Intercept she told Luntz: “Why don’t you ask that to people...

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Sarah Palin Just Bludgeoned The GOP In An Epic Drunk-Rant — Calls The Base ‘Battered Women’

by CHARLES TOPHER – Sarah Palin took the creative juices she earned as a half-term Governor of Alaska to Breitbart this week, authoring an op-ed that just pummels the entire Republican party in what can only be an attempt at a VP nod from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. The two guys who hate everybody have both expressed their admiration for an idiot by calling her nice things. Now she hates Republicans – something Ted Cruz can get on board with and she hates immigrants – which is all you need to get a free room at Casa Trump. The rant comes shortly after Congress sent President Obama an Omnibus that caps the President’s impressive two-term Presidency with an overall win. The Republicans opened the way to exploit Cuba with American oil and to export crude, meaning as worldwide oil reserves deplete, you can be sure it will be one...

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On Banksy’s Christmas Card Joseph And Mary Can’t Make It To Bethlehem

by John Vibes – Banksy’s classic Christmas card shows a picture of Joseph and Mary crossing the desert on their way to Bethlehem and are blocked by the infamous apartheid wall that separates Israel from Palestine and the West Bank. The card has recently gone viral again because of the holidays, but it is actually a few years old and seems to circulate around this time every year. The piece first appeared at Santa’s Ghetto exhibit in London in 2005, which followed Banksy’s trip to the middle east. Regardless of when the image was created, it sends a powerful message about how divided the middle east is on racial and ethnic lines, creating a massive refugee crisis, and widespread ghettos in many parts of the region. This current reality is obviously highlighted by the biblical story of Joseph and Mary, two refugees themselves who were said to travel across those lands thousands...

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Rights Group Says Disregard for Civilian Life by US and Saudi Arabia Is ‘Appalling’

by Sarah Lazare – Human Rights Watch blasts Saudi-led coalition for apparent war crimes and failure to investigate The United States has been party to numerous apparent war crimes committed by the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, yet—along with all nations responsible—is violating international requirements to investigate bombings of homes, schools, and refugee camps, Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared on Monday. Coming just hours after peace talks concluded with no clear resolution to the nearly nine-month-old conflict, the report finds that the coalition launched six “apparently unlawful airstrikes” in residential areas of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, that killed a total of 60 civilians during September and October. One September 13 bombing of a home in Sanaa’s old city, which is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, killed 18 civilians and wounded far more. Abd al-Khalik Muhammad al-Khamisi, who was at home with his family 50 meters from where the bomb hit,...

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They are all Fascists Now

by Steven D – Trump makes the most noise, gets the most headlines, but make no mistake, the Republican party is quickly devolving into a fascist party at all levels.  Here is the most recent poster boy for the Nazification of the GOP, Wisconsin state representative, Bob Gannon, whose calls for armed vigilante violence by civilian gun owners are profoundly disturbing: Rep. Bob Gannon (R) responded to a recent shooting at East Towne Mall in Madison by saying that the incident could have been stopped if more people were carrying guns. During the incident over the weekend, a teen was shot in the leg and suffered non-life threatening injuries. “Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law-abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scumbags,”Gannon said in a statement on Monday. “Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our...

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A Corrupt CEO Busted? Well, Merry Christmas

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight. – John Randolph I’ve never seen a mermaid or a space alien or a leprechaun. I never expected to, of course; these are all creatures of myth and folklore and fabulation, but still … it would be pretty cool to see a mermaid, right? Another thing I never expected to see was a greedy lying thieving scumbag corporate CEO arrested for his serial crimes, but that changed on Thursday when Martin Shkreli was led away before the eyes of the world. You know this guy. He’s the one who acquired the anti-malarial and anti-parasitical drug Daraprim – used primarily to treat children and AIDS patients – and jacked up the price from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. For those of...

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New Video: Cops Shot Detainee In The Back

by JUSTIN SALHANI – Last year, an alleged “known gang member” was shot and killed by police in Los Angeles. But a video released on Friday by OC Weekly shows 23-year-old Noel Aguilar was hit in the back by two Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies, who ignored his pleas for help as he lay dying. The deputies claimed Aguilar, who authorities tried to blame for the incident, shot one of them in the stomach, but officials revealed that the deputy’s gun wound came from his partner’s gun. “n Thursday, officials said the deputy was actually hit by a round from his partner’s gun as they tried to arrest Aguilar near 69th Way and Long Beach Boulevard shortly before 10 a.m.,” the L.A. Times reported in June 2014. “The first shot is not justified because the victim is very vulnerable, he’s on his side,” Angel Carrazco, an attorney representing Aguilar’s family, told...

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Trump Spokesperson: Why Have Nuclear Weapons ‘If You’re Afraid To Use’ Them?

by KIRA LERNER – Appearing on Fox News on Friday, a spokesperson for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump threatened that the business mogul would be willing to use nuclear weapons if he were elected to serve as commander-in-chief. “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson asked on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. Pierson went on to suggest that while other Republican candidates may threaten war, Trump would actually be willing to use the nuclear triad to fix problems around the world. “That’s where we are today,” she said. “We need to be discussing how we fix their problems, not just complaining and name-calling about who started this and who started that.” Watch it (via Mediaite): Trump fumbled a question about nuclear weapons during the GOP debate on Tuesday, appearing not to understand that the nuclear triad refers to...

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Congressman Decries Violent Persecution Of Muslims Across The U.S.: ‘It’s A Disturbing Picture’

by  BEENISH AHMED – WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Leave America. You’re not welcome here.” Those were the words scrawled across a letter delivered to Masjid Muhammad in Washington, DC earlier this month. A spate of extremist Islamist militant attacks from Paris to San Bernardino and calls to ban Muslims and shut down mosques by public officials have left many in the Muslim community fearful. In the last month alone, Muslim congressman Andre Carson (D-Ind.) was sent death threats, a prominent Muslim civil rights organization received hate message containing a suspicious substance in his Capitol Hill office, and a pig’s head was left at a Philadelphia mosque. Some political and religious leaders believe the result of extremist actions and xenophobic comments has been threats and attacks. Imam Talib Shareef, who leads services at what is described as the “Nation’s mosque” because it was the first mosque built in the capital, said the...

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Conservatives FLIP After Judge Gives ‘Baby Parts’ Liars The Worst News Possible

by JOHN PRAGER – A federal judge has dashed the hopes and dreams of conservatives who continue to insist that Planned Parenthood ‘sells baby parts.’ David Daleiden and everyone associated with his deceptively-named Center for Medical Progress — the people who encouraged Robert Lewis Dear to shoot up a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility with their lies — are likely on their knees in tears praying for a miracle after U.S. District Judge William Orrick laid out the facts for them: The deceptively edited videos produced by the group don’t come close to showing any criminal activity. The videos place providers at risk with their lies. The remarks were made as the National Abortion Federation asked for a preliminary injunction that would continue to block the release of secret recordings of the Federation’s meetings. The judge, who previously issued a temporary restraining order blocking the recordings pending the outcome of the...

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Washington Post’s Fact-Checking Section Shuts Down After Concluding Conservatives Are Beyond Help

by JAMESON PARKER – In what may signal the end of an era – and the beginning of a terrifying new one – the Washington Post‘s dedicated section to exposing outrageous internet lies announced that it would be closing up shop. Not because people have become better at spotting hoaxes – they haven’t – but because a large section of the population no longer seems to care whether the facts are on their side or not. The internet has always been used to spread misinformation, and no political persuasion is immune to it, but in recent years, as unrepentant liars like Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina dominate the headlines and the polls, it’s clear that conservatives have crossed the Rubicon. No longer is it necessary to even pretend that the facts are on your side; if it confirms your entrenched beliefs, it’s “real” to you. Or as Stephen Colbert once coined...

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Lindsey Graham Drops Out of Presidential Campaign: ‘I’ve Hit a Wall Here’

by Ed Krayewski – Four down, a dozen to go Lindsey Graham’s long-failing and now failed presidential campaign certainly didn’t lack for red meat for the base: Graham positioned himself as THE anti-ISIS candidate, roping the terrorist organization into topics ranging from abortion to the Clintons as easily as Democrats rope it into climate change. Some of Graham’s positions, on immigration, gay marriage, and global warming, good or bad, added to the ideological diversity of the Republican presidential field, but were relegated from the beginning to the undercard debates, where campaigns go to die. And you can’t stress too much how awful Graham’s foreign policy positions were, and continue to be. Graham said he’s suspending his campaign, but he’s “not going to suspend desire to help the country,” which means sticking around in the Senate to offer a defense of any pro-war or anti-liberties measure presented in the war on terror....

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To Help Thwart ISIS, Let’s Take Baby Steps Away From Saudi Arabia and Turkey

by Robert Naiman – Here’s two things we know for sure from key advances of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy: our relationships with other countries aren’t set in stone, and the choices aren’t merely “friend” and “foe.” We can shake hands without getting married, and we can pivot away without getting divorced. We can change our relationship with a country from “enemy with unremittingly hostile relations” to “adversary with a cordial relationship and modest cooperation” (Cuba, Iran.) We can change our relationship with a country from “joined at the hip” to “pretty good friends” (Israel.) In order to help us thwart ISIS, let’s move Saudi Arabia and Turkey into the Israel category. Let’s downgrade them from “joined at the hip” to “pretty good friends.” This will enable us to pursue a more aggressive policy against ISIS, because the main constraint against doing so in the past has been our closeness to...

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Adding Up the Broken Souls

by Robert C. Koehler – “The question now is how to change our institutions so that they promote human values rather than destroy them.” Philip Zimbardo, who posed this question in the wake of the famous — or infamous —Stanford Prison Experiment 44 years ago, might have added: If we fail to do so, we guarantee our own social collapse. The collapse is underway, one broken soul at a time: “But the basic story the men told was the same: (Leonard) Strickland was pushed down a flight of stairs, and then beaten nearly to death by a large group of guards.” This is from a recent New York Times investigative piece about inmate abuse at Clinton Correctional Facility, in upstate New York — a particularly boiling cauldron of racism in America’s prison-industrial complex. Almost all of the nearly 1,000 guards who work at the rural prison are white; the inmates, mostly...

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The 11 Biggest Pop Culture Surprises Of 2015

by JESSICA GOLDSTEIN – Round-up season continues! Read on to remember all the whats that made you say “WHAT?!” in 2015. Robert Durst confessed that he ‘killed them all’ on The Jinx Just about everything on The Jinx, the HBO docuseries about skyscraper scion Robert Durst, is surprising, starting with the fact that Durst agreed to be interviewed at all. (Durst was a man long believed to have been involved in/responsible for the disappearance of his first wife; you’d think he might want to keep a low profile.) There was the cool, detached way Durst described dismembering a corpse — limbs and head in garbage bags, torso in a suitcase — that was so disturbing, he explained, his legal team advised him to tell the Texas jury he didn’t remember the details. There was the trail of bodies a person could trace, like Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs, back to Durst....

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Professional Bookies Predict Elections With 91% Accuracy – They Say The Result Will Be…

by ANTIPHON FREEMAN – Here’s something everyone needs to know: professional gamblers are far more accurate than polls are. This has been proven time and time again. The Huffington Post calls professional bookies “History’s Most Accurate Election Forecasters.” And, there’s a reason for this. Where presidential polls have been wrong in the past, even so-called reliable exit polls, gamblers have gotten it right with 91% accuracy. While it’s not legal to bet on U.S. elections in the United States, that hasn’t stopped popular websites like Paddy Power, or Predict Wise, from placing their bets. And, yes, they do pride themselves on their history of accuracy in predicting elections. Here’s what Koleman Strumpf, a University of Kansas economics professor who tracks betting trends, has to say on why he thinks gamblers are more trustworthy than polls: “Relative to the polls, the betting markets have to think hard about what they’re saying...

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Donald Trump: No Proof That Putin Kills Journalists

by CASEY QUINLAN – On ABC’s This Week, GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump dismissed reports of reporters killed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime as unproven. “They are allegations. Yeah sure there are allegations. I’ve read those allegations over the years. But nobody’s proven that he’s killed anybody, as far as I’m concerned. He hasn’t killed reporters that’s been proven,” Trump told host George Stephanopoulos. Trump conceded that if the allegations were true, he would “think that that’s terrible,” but added, “this isn’t like somebody that stood with the gun and taken the blame or admitted that he’s killed. He’s always denied it. He’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. ” Trump asked Stephanopoulos, “Do you know the names of reporters that he’s killed?” In 2012, The Guardian’s Peter Preston catalogued the deaths of journalists since...

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Donald Trump’s Brainfart Fascism

by Peter Suderman – Donald Trump showed up in typical form at the last Republican presidential debate, aggressively lobbing insults at his competitors and promising repeatedly to make America great again by…well, in truth it’s never quite clear. Trump frequently declines to propose anything that resembles what most would call a policy to resolve the problems he identifies, but even when he does, the legal and practical mechanisms by which he would implement those policies are almost always left unstated. He describes the effect he hopes to produce, but not the path by which he would get there, and when pressed, often waves off the question, saying, essentially, that details will come later, after he’s in the White House. It sometimes seems as if Trump has a no-spoiler policy for his presidency. That it will be great and tremendous and classy and widely praised is all you really need to know....

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Following Historic Vote, New Orleans to Remove Confederate Monuments

by Nadia Prupis – Mayor Mitch Landrieu indicated there may be more removals to come following 6-1 city council vote The New Orleans City Council on Thursday cast a historic vote to remove four public monuments to Confederate leaders from city grounds, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu indicated that more statues could be cleared out in the future. “We should remember history and not revere a false version of it,” Landrieu said in announcing the decision, which followed a six-month debate in the council. “There is no question in my mind that the people of New Orleans are up to the task of appropriately commemorating who we are as a people and where we come from.” The council voted 6-1 to remove the four monuments honoring Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and the Battle of Liberty Place, a rebellion led by ex-confederates seeking to overthrow the...

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Citing Urgent Need for ‘Political Revolution,’ Major Union Endorses Sanders

by Nadia Prupis – ‘Our politics and economy have favored Wall Street, the wealthy and powerful for too long,’ says Communications Workers of America The Communications Workers of America (CWA) on Thursday endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president in the 2016 election, citing the need for a candidate who will “break with politics-as-usual and fight for America’s working people.” The endorsement comes after a three-month voting period, with tens of thousands of the union’s 700,000 members casting ballots. Its former president, Larry Cohen, is an adviser to Sanders’ campaign. It also comes hours after his chief rival for the nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, picked up the endorsement of billionaire Warren Buffett. CWA is now the fifth national labor organization to throw its weight behind Sanders, who was also recently endorsed by National Nurses United, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and the...

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How A Proud Gun Owner Running For Congress Became The ‘Enemy Number 1’ Of The NRA

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Just a few hours after congressional candidate John Oceguera announced he was terminating his lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association, the angry comments began flooding his inbox and Facebook page, calling him, among other slurs, a “pussy traitor,” “kool aid-drinking zombie,” and “libtard.” “May be he can get an endorsement from the Muslim brotherhood?” mused one commentator, while another advised, “Castrate yourself.” Sitting in his office on the western edge of Las Vegas, the former Nevada Assembly Speaker and Democratic candidate for Congress told ThinkProgress that the “vitriolic” reaction has only strengthened his resolve. “The NRA does a lot of good things, like with hunting safety, but they’ve just become so stringent and won’t compromise on any issue,” he said. “It’s like you can’t say anything about commonsense gun reform without people screaming, ‘You’re taking our guns!’ or ‘You’re an...

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Six GOP Candidates Pledge To Sign Anti-Gay Discrimination Into Law

by KIRA LERNER – Six of the Republican candidates vying for the presidency have signed a pledge promising to support legislation during their first 100 days in the White House that would use the guise of “religious liberty” to give individuals and businesses the right to openly discriminate against LGBT people. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee vowed to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), legislation that would prohibit the federal government from stopping discrimination by people or businesses that believe “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The pledge is supported by three conservative groups: the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and Family Research Council Action. “It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act...

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The Silent Collapse Of The Death Penalty In The United States

by IAN MILLHISER – On the surface, 2015 was a terrible year for death penalty opponents. Despite a series of botched executions, during which inmates were essentially tortured inmates due to unreliable drugs used in the execution process, the Supreme Court rejected an attempt to place safeguards on these state-sponsored killings to ensure that they do not leave the inmate in agony. In the process, the Court gave states broad immunity to lawsuits claiming that their execution protocols are too cruel to continue. Even as the Court’s conservative majority placed the death penalty on a legal pedestal, however, its actual use has withered. As a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) explains,only six states performed executions in 2015, killing a total of 28 people. That’s down more than 70 percent from 1999, when annual executions peaked at 98. This drop in executions might be explained by uncertainty hanging...

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