How To Make Sense Of The Baffling Order The Supreme Court Just Handed Down On Birth Control

by IAN MILLHISER – The biggest birth control case to reach the Supreme Court in 40 years just got a whole lot more confusing. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down an unusual order seeking more briefing in Zubik v. Burwell, a challenge to Obama administration regulations intended to expand access to birth control. Under the regulations at issue in Zubik, most employees must include contraceptive coverage in their employer-provided health plan. Employers who object to birth control as religious groups, however, may either fill out a form or write a brief letter seeking an exemption from this requirement. Once they do so, they are permitted to offer insurance that does not cover birth control, and, in most cases, their insurance provider will offer a separate, contraception-only plan to the employer’s workers. Last week, at oral arguments in this case, the Court appeared likely to split 4-4 in this case...

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5 Ways NOT To “Make America Great Again.” And One Way To Do It

by Paul Buchheit – Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The visions of “greatness” coming from America’s political and business and military leaders are quite the opposite, with an emphasis on the ‘exceptional’ people who would prefer to have nothing to do with the weaker members of society. 1. Let Government and the Media Ignore 90% of Us Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Government doesn’t listen to us, and the mainstream media fails to inform us about matters that might offend their corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, “The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues… don’t even know that we...

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Burn Them at the Stake? Trump Wants ‘Punishment’ for Women Who Have Abortions

by Jon Queally – Proving GOP bona fides, Trump endorses federal ban on abortion In a televised interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said that for women who would ignore a theoretical ban on abortion there would have to be “some form of punishment, yeah.” “Perhaps burning at the stake?” —Rewire Speaking with Chris Matthews, who pressed the candidate on how he would enforce a nationwide ban on abortion, Trump said, “I’m pro-life, yes” and “ is a big problem.” Asked by Matthews to explain how it would be done, Trump continued, “You could go back to a position like they had where people will, perhaps, go to illegal places — but you have to ban it.” Watch: Though reports indicated his chief Republican rival Ted Cruz responded by questioning Trump’s claim that he is an authentic “pro-life” candidate, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton slammed Trump’s remarks....

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Sanders campaign aims for 40% in NY? Strategy would effectively clinch nomination for Clinton.

by First Amendment – If this really is the Sanders campaign strategy in NY and it plays out this way, any small chance he had to win the nomination would be over. 40% of the vote in NY would be a total disaster for the Sanders campaign. He needs to win NY state by at least 13% or more or at least win it to drive a comeback campaign narrative. I’m wondering if the Sanders campaign is driving this particular narrative because, their internal polling of NY isn’t looking very good and they’re setting a number they feel is achievable? This also could be the reason the Sanders campaign is pushing so hard for a debate in NY. Let’s say it ends up 60 – 40 Clinton in NY, toss in Sanders wins of 60 – 40 in WI and 80 – 20 in WY prior to New York, Clinton’s lead would be +251 pledged delegates. I worked up this three state example using the Democratic Delegate Calculator. This would...

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Hypocritical Alabama Governor Gets Booted From His Own Church For Affair With Staffer

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley claims to be a “family values conservative Christian,” but because of an affair with a woman who was not his wife he’ll have to find a church that supports hypocrisy. The Republican governor has resisted repeated calls for him to resign his office despite a scandalous audio recording of Bentley admitting to having an affair with Rebekah Mason, a staffer who works for him. “I love you,” Bentley told Mason in the recording. “I love to talk to you. Baby, let me tell you what we’re going to have to start doing, we’re going to have to start locking the door. If we are going to do what we did the other day, we are going to have to start locking the door.” To spell it out for anyone who doesn’t get it, Bentley told Mason they’ll have to lock the...

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State AGs Vow To Tackle Climate Change And Fossil Fuel Industry Fraud

by SAMANTHA PAGE – A group of state attorneys general just declared war on big polluters. The group, representing 17 states, said it will pursue climate change litigation. Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands officially joined an ongoing investigation into potential fraud by ExxonMobil, and all the states committed to working together as “creatively, collaboratively, and aggressively” as possible to combat climate change. “We have heard the scientists; we know what is being done to the planet,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said at a press conference Tuesday in Manhattan. The group also came together to defend the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, formally filing its petition in support of the rule Tuesday in the D.C. District Court of Appeals. “There is no dispute, but there is confusion,” Schneiderman said. The confusion has been pushed by fossil fuel companies and their interests that use money and power to sway Congress...

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Virginia Governor Delivers ‘Smack Down,’ Vetoes Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

by Bryan Dewan – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a Republican bill to defund Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, saying he was “very proud” to protect women’s health services in his state. The vetoed bill, which passed through the Virginia state legislature along party lines, would have ended the flow of state dollars to women’s health organizations that provide abortion services. While visiting a Richmond Planned Parenthood office on Tuesday, Governor McAuliffe told members of a supportive audience that “we’re here today to smack down the latest attack on women’s health care rights.” As for the Republican lawmakers who worked to pass the bill, McAuliffe remarked that “they are out of touch with women, with health care providers and with Virginia families.” McAuliffe’s veto comes as no surprise, as he has made clear over the past three months his intention to veto the Republican-backed initiative. In his veto statement,...

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The Two Short Words That Could Keep Merrick Garland From Being Confirmed

by IAN MILLHISER – “Dick Lugar.” If you want to understand why the battle to confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — a moderate, not especially ideological federal appeals court judge — has turned into an historic display of Senate recalcitrance, then a good place to start is the 2012 Republican Senate primary in Indiana between Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and state treasurer Richard Mourdock. Lugar was a powerhouse in Indiana politics, a six-term incumbent who’d held elected office longer than most of his constituents had been alive. Mourdock, meanwhile, was a human gaffe machine. Mourdock called Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid unconstitutional. He told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.” And, in his most famous case of verbal diarrhea, called pregnancies that result from rape a “gift from God.” And yet Mourdock trounced Lugar in the 2012 primary, beating...

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The Treasury Department Could Help Block Offshore Tax Havens

by JOSH HOXIE – My colleague Chuck Collins, almost exactly five years ago, wrote a blog post that opened: “We’re chumps unless we force Congress to stop tax haven abuse.” I’m here to say: we’re chumps. Congress has not taken significant action on offshore tax havens despite serious and sustained efforts by progressive legislators and groups to draw attention to the issue. However, there is a chance that a different arm of government could step up where Congress has failed to act: the Treasury Department. The tax haven abuser of the moment is Pfizer, a behemoth pharmaceutical giant currently stashing an estimated $194 billion in profits offshore and avoiding $40 billion in tax obligations according to Citizens for Tax Justice. The company is trying to make this arrangement permanent through a corporate inversion with “Irish” pharmaceutical firm, Allergen. The motivation behind Pfizer’s desire to merge with Allergen could not be more...

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Chomsky, Snowden, Greenwald on Privacy in the Age of Surveillance

by Lauren McCauley – Panel discussion challenges the rhetoric that national security requires that governments can access individual communications What is privacy and what is an individual’s right to it? That is the question that renowned linguist and MIT professor Noam Chomsky, National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald sought to answer on Friday evening as the three (virtually) shared a stage for a panel discussion at the University of Arizona in Tuscon. Coming amid the FBI’s public battle against Apple as well as days after the bombings in Brussels last week, which have spurred another round of calls for heightened security and surveillance, the conversation challenged the rhetoric that national security requires that governments can access individual communications. “Should our government be omniscient?” asked Snowden, who took part in the discussion via satellite from Russia. “That has value, of course, in thwarting nefarious and criminal...

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Inside The Christian Right’s Strategy To Keep Fake Abortion Clinics Open In California

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – Fake women’s health clinics run by anti-abortion organizations currently outnumber licensed, professional abortion clinics 3 to 1 — and they’re nearly impossible to regulate. Called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs), these clinics advertise free pregnancy tests to get patients in the door, but ultimately lean heavily on junk science and spiritual guilt to talk women out of having an abortion. In January, California became the first state in the country to enact a law successfully cracking down on the state’s nearly 350 misleading clinics. At least in theory. In practice, it’s been very difficult for California’s groundbreaking law to make any real difference. That’s because three conservative anti-abortion organizations have filed sweeping lawsuits against the officials responsible for enforcing the law — and their threats could effectively freeze any enforcement for the unforeseeable future. California’s Reproductive FACT Act requires that CPCs give their patients information on how...

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Big Money — If Not the GOP Establishment — Has Been With Ted Cruz From the Start

by WILL TUCKER – Ted Cruz, effectively anointed by Jeb Bush as the Republican party’s last best hope to stop Donald Trump from becoming its presidential nominee, was emphatically not the standard-bearer the GOP establishment had in mind at the beginning of this campaign. The brash Texas senator’s anti-Washington rhetoric — often aimed at leaders of his own party — made him a tea party favorite and has won him an impressive network of small donors. Contributors of $200 or less made up nearly 42 percent of the $66.2 million in individual contributions that Cruz has raised so far for his presidential campaign committee. These grassroots donors are the kind who have the commitment to show up at the polls. Rather than deploying a single mammoth super PAC… Cruz’s supporters set up several groups that each took gifts from different donors and had distinct assignments. Cruz represents a unique double fundraising...

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Science Is a Good Substitute for God

by Ronald Bailey – Religious believers tend to be happier than non-religious folk, according to a long line of psychological research. Scientists have suggested several possible explanations for this phenomenon, including the ideas that religion offers a greater sense of control, provides a purpose for life, and reduces uncertainty. So if religious belief makes people more satisfied with their lives, why is secularism growing in many countries? A new study offers one possible answer: A belief in scientific and technological progress can also serve as a source of life satisfaction. Indeed, it may even offer more lifetime happiness than religion does. The study appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, and the research team that conducted it was led by Olga Stavrova, a psychologist at the University of Cologne. The researchers first did a deep analysis of how the belief in scientific and technological progress affects the life satisfaction of a...

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The 6 Worst Moments Of Trump’s Press Conference Defending His Campaign Manager Accused Of Battery

by KIRA LERNER – Hours after Donald Trump’s campaign manager was charged with battering former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, the Republican frontrunner held a press conference on his plane Tuesday to defend his top staffer. Since the incident occurred, Corey Lewandowski has denied ever touching Fields and has called her “delusional.” Meanwhile, Trump has continued to defend Lewandowski, even after eyewitness reports corroborated Fields’ claims. On Tuesday, police in Jupiter, Florida also released a video that shows Lewandowski grabbing Fields’ arm. But during Tuesday’s press conference, Trump turned the allegations on Fields, claiming that she assaulted him and that he cannot be sure that her bruises “weren’t there before.” Here are the six worst moments from the event: 1. When he says that the tape doesn’t show anything: “I looked at the tape — but the tapes were supplied by me. Those tapes, just so you understand. This is a...

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Mitch McConnell Just Got Screwed By His Own Party: 16 GOP Senators Defect On SCOTUS Blockade

by Charles Topher – When President Obama announced his nominee to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, it took Mitch McConnell all of half an hour to announce that the Republican party would see to it that not a single meeting, hearing or vote would ever come of it in a purely toddleresque temper tantrum that not only scoffed at the Constitution and the president’s executive authority, but at the American people, more than 60 percent of whom are uncomfortable with the high court in a 4-4 deadlock. McConnell has given every reason imaginable — other than a good one — why President Obama doesn’t have the right afforded his office more than 200 years ago. His finest moment was when he admitted that NRA is running the show at Republican National Headquarters. Former McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said, “Mitch McConnell’s knee-jerk response after Justice Scalia’s death is a public relations...

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I’m Backing Hillary Because I Hate Simple and Shallow Caricatures

by Grizzard – It happens every so often. I post something brash onto some social media platform only to elicit the rancor of a friend who doesn’t quite get me. Sometimes it’s a conservative friend, anxious to know why I’d support the devil. Other times it’s a liberal friend — a supporter of Senator Sanders — anxious to know why I’d support the devil. They each appeal to my better angels and to her worst. How can someone like you support someone like her? I then feel like I’m justifying support for Hitler. It’s off-putting and one of the reasons I’ve been jammed into Clinton’s corner. I didn’t start there. Much to the contrary. I’m a proud member of the Obama generation. Swept up by his soaring rhetoric during my college days, I recall the early conversations about how the little-known senator from Illinois was going to be the next president. I bought his books before he...

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Kasich is No Moderate on Inequality

by JOSH HOXIE – Kasich tries to present himself as the moderate anti-Trump, but his time as governor has been marked by regressive tax reform that helps the rich and hurts the rest As media pundits and mainstream conservatives begin to realize that Donald Trump is beyond likely to be the Republican nominee for President, the search for a viable alternative remains fruitless. Throughout the race, Ohio Governor John Kasich has tried to present himself as just such a moderate anti-Trump. The one problem with this framing (beyond the fact that voters have nearly universally rejected him): he’s no moderate. That Kasich is actually a far-right conservative, not a moderate, is no shocker to voters in Ohio. They saw him enter the governor’s mansion in Ohio riding the 2010 Tea Party wave on a platform to “break the backs of organized labor.” One of Kasich’s first actions in office was...

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Donald Trump Hates Women

by teacherken – Actually, the complete title is Donald Trump Hates Women: It’s the one position he’s never changed.  It is a must-read piece by Franklin Foer in Slate, to which David Brooks makes reference in his column this morning, which is how I came upon it (yes, I do occasionally look at Brooks). Foer begins like this: Donald Trump holds one core belief. It’s not limited government. He favored a state takeover of health care before he was against it. Nor is it economic populism. Despite many years of arguing the necessity of taxing the rich, he now wants to slice their rates to bits. Trump has claimed his nonlinear approach to policy is a virtue. Closing deals is what matters in the end, he says, not unbleached allegiance to conviction. But there’s one ideology that he does hold with sincerity and practices with unwavering fervor: misogyny. And that is...

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Police Charge Trump Campaign Manager With Battering Reporter

by AARON RUPAR – Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been charged with battering then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. The incident occurred on March 8. Fields alleged Lewandowski forcibly yanked her after she asked Trump a question. Despite an eyewitness account from a Washington Post reporter corroborating her version of events, Lewandowski denied any involvement with the incident whatsoever and called Fields an “attention seeker.” Corey Lewandowski ✔‎@CLewandowski_ @MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I have never even met you. 12:28 AM – 11 Mar 2016 Trump, for his part, said he thinks Fields made the whole thing up. During a news conference on March 15, Trump held a press conference where called the assembled media “disgusting” while Lewandowski applauded behind him. Trump also praised Lewandowski’s “spirit.” “He wanted to take down those horrible, profanity-laced signs,” Trump said, speaking of Lewandowski’s actions...

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FBI Allegedly Cracks Terrorist’s Phone, Ending Fight with Apple (for Now)

by Scott Shackford – The Senate is still interested in legislation that could weaken everybody’s security It appears as though a major court battle over whether the federal government can force Apple to weaken its iPhone security in order to assist in data gathering is not going to happen. That doesn’t, however, mean this larger conflict is remotely over. The FBI had gone to the courts to try to use the All Writs Act to force Apple to help it weaken the security of the work iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the terrorists who launched the deadly attack in San Bernardino, California. Apple resisted on the grounds that it wasn’t possible to weaken the security on just one phone—doing so would weaken the security on everybody’s phones. The FBI asked for a delay on the court fight last week because it may have figured out a way to break the...

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The Fight Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law Heads to Court

by Chase Strangio – Apparently the most urgent need in the state of North Carolina involves stopping transgender people from using bathrooms. For North Carolina lawmakers, the urgency was so great that they felt compelled to call a special legislative session — costing taxpayers’ $42,000 a day — to pass the most sweeping piece of anti-LGBT legislation in history, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed the same day. The reason for this extreme and unusual action by state lawmakers: The city of Charlotte dared to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance that extended legal protections to LGBT people. Though the ordinance did many things, it was dubbed the “bathroom ordinance” by opponents who falsely claimed that protecting transgender people from discrimination would somehow threaten the privacy and safety of others. But in actuality, it’s a myth that has instead served to justify and perpetuate violence against the transgender community for years. Animated by this...

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Climate Skepticism Has Lost Major Ground Among Weather Experts

by ALEJANDRO DAVILA FRAGOSO – Among climate scientists, there’s a consensus that climate change is real and driven by human activity. Among meteorologists and weathercasters, however, that acceptance of climate science has historically been harder to find. That may have finally changed. Some 99 percent of U.S. weathercasters — those who communicate weather forecasts on TV or radio, but who aren’t always trained meteorologists — accept the fact that climate change is happening, according to preliminary findings from a George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication study released Thursday. The study, which has yet to go through the peer review process, comes days after George Mason University released a similar survey that shows that some 96 percent of American Meteorological Society members think climate change is real. Edward Maibach, the lead author of both studies, said the findings are not surprising because theevidence of climate change has been mounting....

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Trump’s New Reason For Suing The GOP Proves He’s Clueless To How Elections Work

by Sarah – As much as likely all of us want elections to be cut and dry, popular vote wins all, it’s just not that simple. It’s a game, and if you choose to play you have to abide by the rules, you can’t change them halfway through. Frustrating, sure? Illegal. No. Showing more than ever that he’s a newcomer to the whole politicking world, Trump took to Twitter, yet again, to air his grievances about the political process. In yet another temper tantrum, Trump said : Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz-Lawsuit coming — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2016 Well, first of all, here are the results of the Louisiana Republican primary:                                    ...

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CIA Photographed Detainees Naked and Bound Before Extraditing Them for Torture

by Nika Knight – The CIA took photographs of detainees naked, bound, and blindfolded—some with visible bruises—before extraditing them to other countries to be tortured, an investigation by the Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman revealed on Monday. “The naked imagery of CIA captives raises new questions about the seeming willingness of the U.S. to use what one medical and human rights expert called ‘sexual humiliation’ in its post-9/11 captivity of terrorism suspects,” Ackerman wrote. “Some human rights campaigners described the act of naked photography on unwilling detainees as a potential war crime.” Ackerman also reported that “a former U.S. official who had seen some of the photographs described them as ‘very gruesome.'” The photos in question remain classified. The detainees were photographed before being extradited to nations known to use more brutal forms of torture than that used in the U.S., Ackerman said, as part of the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” program. The writer...

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Sanders Soars: The Democratic Race Is Closer Than The Republicans’

by Robert Borosage – Bernie Sanders routed Hillary Clinton in three Western states on Saturday. He isn’t just winning; he’s winning with stunning percentages: Alaska 82-18; Hawaii 70-30; Washington 73-27. He’s taken five of six in the West, and chipped away Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates, trailing in pledged delegates by 1243 to 975. The Clinton campaign, echoed by the talking heads, sought to discount the victories as “expected” from the “largely white and liberal” Pacific northwest. But just as Clinton’s victories in the South should not be dismissed because they were built on loyal African-American voters, Sanders’ victories shouldn’t be dismissed either. Liberals are Democrats, too. Sanders remains an underdog, but he keeps surging and Clinton keeps sinking. Sanders haswon 15 primaries and caucuses compared to Clinton’s 20, and he’s virtually tied four others (Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri and Illinois). This from an unknown candidate who started at single digits...

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Cruz And Kasich Signal They’re Considering Breaking Promise They Made During Debates

by AARON RUPAR – Donald Trump began his campaign by calling undocumented immigrants “rapists.” He wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States despite evidence doing so wouldn’t make the country safer, supports torture, and has a history of making crass comments about women. None of that was enough to prompt Trump’s competitors for the Republican presidential nomination to say they won’t support Trump if he continues rolling through the primary process and winds up becoming the party’s nominee. In fact, they’ve repeatedly promised to back whoever the nominee ends up being. But in the wake of Trump’s crude attacks on Heidi Cruz, the two remaining non-Trump competitors for the GOP’s nomination are finally signaling they might not follow through on that promise after all. Asked Friday about whether he’d still support Trump if he becomes the GOP candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I don’t make a habit out...

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This Embarrassing Interview Signals Donald Trump May Be In Trouble In Wisconsin

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – With the Wisconsin primary just a week away, the remaining presidential candidates are descending on the Badger State. National frontrunner Donald Trump, who hasn’t made a campaign appearance in several days, ventured Monday morning into unfriendly territory: Wisconsin talk radio, where hosts have been viciously criticizing Trump for months. On Monday morning, influential radio host Charlie Sykes grilled Trump for nearly 10 minutes in an often uncomfortable interview, at one point scolding him for sounding more like a “12-year-old bully on the playground” than a candidate for president. Listen: The heated interview began and ended with Trump’s feud with rival Ted Cruz over the appearance of their wives — an episode that began with an independent PAC attempting to shame Trump’s wife for nude modeling and worsened when Trump retweeted a photoshopped picture a supporter created to shame Heidi Cruz. Sykes pressed Trump to apologize and publicly...

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A Big, Unexpected Crack Just Formed In The GOP’s Wall Of Opposition To Merrick Garland

by IAN MILLHISER – A conservative Republican senator from one of the reddest states in the country just broke with his party’s extraordinary resistance to Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland. Just hours after news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death became public, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that he would refuse to confirm anyone nominated by President Obama. He later suggested that he may try to hold the seat open even after the next president is elected. Since then, Senate Republican leadership says that they won’t give Garland a confirmation hearing. Many senators refuse to even meet with the longtime judge. To date, the White House and its allies have concentrated much of their efforts seeking to break this wall of resistance on relatively moderate Republicans, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), or on senators in difficult reelection fights, such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). Thus far, they’ve...

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Georgia Governor Announces Veto Of Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill

by ZACK FORD – Gov. Nathan Deal (R) announced at a press conference Monday morning that he would veto HB 757, a “religious liberty” bill that would enable, among other things, organizations like adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples without jeopardizing their state funding. Deal explained that he found the language in the final version of the bill of “concern,” noting that it could enable some forms of state-sanctioned discrimination. He cited the examples of photographers and bakers who were punished for refusing to serve same-sex couples in other states, adding that he knew of no such examples of that taking place in Georgia, in particular because the state doesn’t offer the same nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation. “In light of our history, I find it somewhat ironic, that some in the religious community today feel it necessary for the government to confer upon them certain...

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California Reaches Deal to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

by Lauren McCauley – Hoping to avoid a costly ballot fight, California lawmakers and labor unions on Saturday reportedly reached an agreement to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour gradually by 2023. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to make a formal announcement on Monday, but a source close to the negotiations revealed the content of the deal to the Los Angeles Times two days ahead. “According to a document obtained by The Times, the negotiated deal would boost California’s statewide minimum wage from $10 an hour to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017, with a 50-cent increase in 2018 and then $1-per-year increases through 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have an extra year to comply, delaying their workers receiving a $15 hourly wage until 2023,” the Times reports. A minimum wage initiative that would have raised the wage to $15 by 2021, which was championed by SEIU...

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Scotland Just Closed Its Last Coal Plant

by ALEJANDRO DAVILA FRAGOSO – After some 115 years, Scotland has burned its last lump of coal for electricity. The Longannet power station, the last and largest coal-fired power plant in Scotland, ceased operations Thursday. What once was the largest coal plant in Europe shut down after 46 years before the eyes of workers and journalists, who gathered in the main control room. “Ok, here we go,” said one worker moments before pressing a bright red button that stopped the coal-fired turbines that generated electricity for a quarter of Scottish homes. ScottishPower ‎@ScottishPower Here’s the moment #Longannet power station was shut down today marking the end of coal-fired generation in Scotland 10:47 AM – 24 Mar 2016 Longannet’s closure comes as Scotland, a country of some 5 million people, aims to have enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of its electricity demand by 2020. And while Europe has lowered its...

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Bernie Sanders Just Filed Paperwork To Sue The DNC. Here’s Why

by EMILY ATKIN – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) filed paperwork to continue an ongoing lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee. The reason surrounds an incident with the Hillary Clinton campaign that occurred more than three months ago. The lawsuit argues that the DNC unfairly barred Sanders from accessing critical voter information — specifically, a 50-state “voter file” containing information about how to reach potential voters. The DNC briefly suspended Sanders’ access to that file in December, after one of his staffers improperly accessed Clinton’s voter data. At the time, Sanders’ campaign officials admitted that their staffer did improperly look at Clinton’s data. But they contended that it was also the DNC’s fault, because a DNC software vendor allowed a glitch in the system which ultimately made Clinton’s data available. The glitch also made Sanders’ data available to the Clinton campaign — though no one on Clinton’s staff looked...

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Ted Cruz Reveals The ‘Religious Liberty’ Plan His Hate Group Buddies Came Up With

by ZACK FORD – In his bid for the presidency, Ted Cruz (R) has consistently surrounded himself with some of the most extreme social conservatives in the country. In addition to appearing beside these individuals at various events, he also recruited a Religious Liberty Advisory Council — what Fox News’ Todd Starnes calls a “faith-based Justice League.” Through Starnes, Cruz unveiled this week just what kind of ideas this council has developed to protect “religious liberty.” Given the fact that his council consisted of representatives from only the most conservative iterations of Christianity, the 15-point list is unsurprisingly dedicated to privileging Christian beliefs and enabling discrimination against the LGBT community and women. For example, one of the recommendations is to “rescind Executive Order 13672 – an order that requires certain federal contractors to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” This order, which Obama first issued...

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Michigan Republicans Are Trying To Change Election Law To Stop Liberal Ballot Initiatives

by EMILY ATKIN – Grassroots groups in Michigan say they’re about to achieve something big. This year, if they get enough petition signatures, voters might get to decide at the ballot box whether to ban fracking and legalize marijuana. There’s just one problem: the state’s Republican lawmakers are now trying to change the rules in the middle of the game. The lawmakers aren’t opposing marijuana legalization or fracking bans on their merits — they’re trying to change election law to make it harder for citizen groups to get their issues on the ballot in the first place. Their bill to change citizen lawmaking in Michigan has so far been supported by the American Petroleum Institute, the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. It could land on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk as soon as this week. “They are trying to stop cold,” said Luanne...

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Republicans Want Guns In Schools But Not At Their National Convention

by JUDD LEGUM – In response to an epidemic of gun violence in America, Republicans reject any effort to control gun use. The solution, instead, is more guns. “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” the expression goes. It’s available as a t-shirt from the NRA. CREDIT: NRASTORE.COM One idea that is subject to particular derision is the idea of “gun-free zones.” Instead of creating safe spaces, Republicans argue, gun-free zones just create attractive targets for criminals. Here is Donald Trump deriding the idea at a rally earlier this month: So it might come as some surprise that this year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland will completely ban guns. The event will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena where “firearms and other weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden.” (Guns were banned at the 2012 Republican National...

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Donald Trump’s Claims About Muslims Protecting Terrorists Are Complete Nonsense (VIDEO)

by Joe Fletcher – During a recent appearance on Good Morning Britain , Donald Trump made several claims about Muslims that are, perhaps unsurprisingly to most people, completely bogus. During the interview, Trump claimed that one of the biggest challenges in the fight against terrorism is that “good” Muslims are withholding information about terrorist plots. “It’s like they’re protecting each other,” Trump said during the interview. “They have to report the bad ones. And if you report the bad ones, then all of a sudden you’re not going to have the problems.” Here’s the interview:  This statement does not hold up to empirical evidence. Muslims do in fact quit often turn in radical extremists . Vox reports: “In 2014, University of North Carolina sociologist Charles Kurzman identified 188 cases since 9/11 where the police had publicly identified a Muslim American as a suspected terrorist and disclosed where the initial tip came...

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NYPD Commissioner OBLITERATES Ted Cruz’s ‘Fictional’ Knowledge Of Counterterrorism

by Stephen D Foster Jr – In an op-ed that puts to rest any notion that Ted Cruz knows what he’s talking about when it comes to terrorism and national security, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton did not hold back. In the wake of the ISIS attack on Brussels, the Texas Senator went on camera to call for mass surveillance of Muslims in communities across the country as well as increased police patrols in those neighborhoods. Because spying on and treating Muslims like criminals is going to somehow prevent them from radicalizing. Not so, says Bratton, who wrote in his op-ed in New York Daily News that what Cruz believes about Muslims is “fiction” and that the outcome he seeks is a “fairy tale.” “Recently, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for police to “patrol and secure Muslim communities before they become radicalized.” We already patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods, the same...

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Riot Police Fire Water Cannon at Protesters in Brussels

Riot police use water cannon to disperse right-wing groups who clashed with people at the Brussels attacks memorial Belgian riot police used water cannons to control hundreds of demonstrators who gathered in central Brussels after ignoring an official call for a postponement of solidarity marches following the bomb attacks on Tuesday. White-helmeted riot police followed by water cannon vehicles on Sunday steered protesters away from the city’s colonnaded stock exchange building where wreaths and flowers had been laid out in a tribute to the victims of the attacks. Protesters shouted slogans condemning this week’s attacks, which killed 31 people and injured scores of others, and expressing solidarity with the victims. Meanwhile, investigators launched 13 raids in Brussels and two other cities and taking four more people in custody. In pictures: Tight security and tributes after the Brussels attacks Meanwhile, Brussels prosecutors charged another man with belonging to a terrorist group,...

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Donald Trump Is Bad At Climate Denial, But Brilliant At Rhetoric

by JOE ROMM – When it comes to climate science, Donald Trump doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know. But when it comes to classical rhetoric — what Plato called “the art of winning the soul by discourse” — Trump is a master. Donald Trump comes across as a clown to many intellectuals, and especially to comedians like Seth Myers and John Oliver, to cite two hilarious takedowns. And yet at the same time, Trump is one of the most effective practitioners of classical rhetoric the political world has seen in a long time. As opposed to the negative connotation that rhetoric has today, the Greeks, Romans, and Elizabethans viewed it as the epitome of persuasive speech. Trump’s success can’t be understood without appreciating his mastery of the figures. After all, modern social science has confirmed what the best politicians, orators, and speech-writers have always known — that the figures of...

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Ted Nugent Insults Women Everywhere By Disgustingly Listing Why Men Prefer Guns

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Ted Nugent is once again degrading a segment of the population and this time he targeted women. In a Facebook post devoted to his love of his guns, all of which he has undoubtedly f*cked repeatedly, the conservative rocker listed the reasons why men prefer their guns over women. “You can trade an old 44 for a new 22,” Nugent wrote as reason number ten on the offensive list, which then became even more cringe-worthy as it continued. Nugent went on to explain how “You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you’re on the road,” and even went so far as to say that women don’t act normally all month long like guns do even though PMS is a normal bodily function that all women go through in their lives. In his top reason, Nugent lamented that he can’t make...

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NRA Recreates Children’s Stories And Gives All The Heroes Guns

by Vera – Despite how much the National Rifle Association (NRA) would like everyone to believe that they are doing their best to educate and protect children against gun violence, the pro-gun organization’s latest stunt is pretty puzzling. NRA Family has recently released a pair of children’s stories – but added its very own special twist. Recreating children’s fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, the NRA has taken it upon itself to rewrite the stories and give their heroes guns to defeat their enemies. After all, hasn’t everyone wondered at some point or another what would have happened to Little Red Riding Hood if only her grandmother had been armed with a shotgun? Finally, this burning question has been answered. Little Red Riding Hood – NRA Family In the recreated version of Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun) , the Big Bad Wolf finds himself...

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Drumpf Speaks. God Help Us

by Abby Zimet – Turns out it can always get worse, though in an admittedly mesmerizing sort of way. After the Washington Post Editorial Board met with Drumpf, they released, straight-faced, a transcript of the hour-long meeting. You may have thought it was surreal listening to The Donald speak, but there’s nothing – except perhaps that famously replayed loop of the second plane churning into the Twin Towers – like seeing his mangled words in print. Given the blistering non-endorsement that followed, the WaPo honchos presumably knew just what they were doing by publishing, as is, the stupefyingly WTF mix of words – airports, China, ISIS, winning, bridges, me me me me. This is a small, sick, mean, racist, hand-and-penis-obsessed, twistedly narcissistic, and deeply insecure person. This is a moron. Oh, America. Below is the audio version of the meeting…… listen, IF YOU DARE: “I went to a great school,” he...

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Race and Beyond: When Public Figures Normalize Hate

by Sanam Malik – As hateful speech has seized national headlines and occasionally led to violent outbursts, regular Race and Beyond columnist Sam Fulwood asked his colleague Sanam Malik to reflect on the impact that demagogic language has on the nation and, in particular, American Muslims. In the wake of the tragic attacks in Brussels this week, innocent American Muslims faced increased Islamophobic sentiments even before the Islamic State claimed responsibility. Conservative public figures—both in media and government—used the terrorist attacks as an opportunity to express anti-Muslim bigotry and fears, even asking for surveillance and torture of Muslims. Racism is and has always been an ugly reality of American history with enduring and damaging effects for us all. But when public figures in influential positions appeal to hate, something particularly pernicious occurs: They legitimize socially unacceptable behavior and normalize hate, thereby encouraging violence. Several high-profile, public figures in Congress and the...

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The Obama Health Care Legacy: More Coverage and Less Spending

by Harry Stein – On March 24, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, published data that might have surprised even the staunchest advocates for health care reform: New estimates show that total federal spending in fiscal year 2016 for major health care programs will be lower than was projected back in January 2009, shortly before President Barack Obama took office. Why is this shocking? The January 2009 projections for FY 2016 spending did not include the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, which was not signed into law until March 2010. This means that federal health programs are covering more people while spending less money. Expanding coverage and saving money The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, estimates that 20 million more Americans currently have health insurance because of the ACA. Yet federal health care programs are spending less than projected before this coverage expansion—even as the share of...

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Torture Doesn’t Work (The 2016 Election Campaign Edition)

by Ray McGovern – To those living “outside the Beltway” it may seem counterintuitive that those of us whose analysis has been correct on key issues that the U.S. government got criminally wrong – like the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – would be blacklisted from “mainstream” media and ostracized by the Smart People of the Establishment. But, alas, that’s the way it is. Forget the continuing carnage in which hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions made refugees. Within the mainstream U.S. media and around Washington’s major policy circles, there is little serious dialogue, much less debate about what went so hideously wrong; and Americans still innocently wonder – regarding the people on the receiving end of the blunderbuss violence – “why they hate us.” After more than 13 years of presenting thoughtful critiques to senior officials – and having little discernible impact – we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity are strongly...

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Texas and Textbooks

by Christopher Brauchli – School days, school days, Dear old Golden Rule Days. . . . — 1907 Popular Song by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards For those of us who in years gone by have enjoyed watching the Texas State Board of Education wrestle with the question of what to put in science textbooks used by its students that address, among other things, the pesky questions of climate change and evolution, I am happy to alert readers to the possibility of a new addition to that august group. To describe her at this time may seem premature, since in order for her to join that Board she will have to win a run off election in early May as well as the general election in November. Nonetheless, since many of her ideas remind us of the halcyon days of that Board when it was chaired by Don McLeroy, it seems...

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US Forces Kill ISIL Second in Command in Syria

ISIL finance minister Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli was among several others killed in a US raid in Syria this week Several key leaders of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including the group’s second in command, were killed in a US raid in Syria earlier this week, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said. Carter told at a press conference in Washington on Friday that the US forces had killed a senior ISIL leader known as Haji Iman, marking a further erosion of top leadership in the armed group, also known as ISIS, in Syria and Iraq. “We are systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet,” Carter said. “The removal of this ISIL leader will hamper the ability for them to conduct operations inside and outside of Iraq and Syria,” Carter told reporters on the death of Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, referring to him as Haji Iman and saying he served...

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Look How Differently President Obama And Donald Trump Talk About Women (VIDEO)

by Kerry-Anne – There are many differences between GOP Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and sitting President Barack Obama, but chief among them is the way they speak about the women in their lives, and women in general. This video draws out those difference in a stunning comparison. The video, put together by the brilliant team at Buzzfeed News, features Obama sharing a wish for his daughters to live as equals among men in their future. Meanwhile, Trump talks only about the “great body” of his teenage daughter Ivanka, while Howard Stern tells him he thinks she’s hot. While Obama speaks about how much inspiration he takes from his wife Michelle and his two daughters, Trump is seen telling a female Apprentice contestant: “Must be a pretty picture you dropping to your knees.”  When Obama speaks about his admiration for his mother, who raised him alone, and the struggles she faced in...

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Leading Climate Scientists: ‘We Have A Global Emergency,’ Must Slash CO2 ASAP

by JOE ROMM – James Hansen and 18 leading climate experts have published a peer-reviewed version of their 2015 discussion paper on the dangers posed by unrestricted carbon pollution. The study adds to the growing body of evidence that the current global target or defense line embraced by the world — 2°C (3.6°F) total global warming — “could be dangerous” to humanity. That 2°C warming should be avoided at all costs is not news to people who pay attention to climate science, though it may be news to people who only follow the popular media. The warning is, after all, very similar to the one found in an embarrassingly underreported report last year from 70 leading climate experts, who had been asked by the world’s leading nations to review the adequacy of the 2°C target. Specifically, the new Hansen et al study — titled “Ice melt, sea level rise and...

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5 Quick Facts About the Gender Pay Gap

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown – Do women still earn just 79 percent of every dollar men make? A look at what’s really going on with the gender wage gap In America and the U.K., the “gender pay gap”—the space that separates average male-worker wages from average female-worker wages—has been picking up steam as an important political topic, especially as elections near. In the process, a lot of misinformation is also gaining traction. Yet rigorous research on the gender pay gap paints quite a different picture than the political spin on it does. As evidence, see this recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (“The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanation”), co-authored by Cornell economists Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn. Blau and Kahn looked at gender pay gap stats dating back to the 1950s and stretching through 2010. What they found—in the U.S. and other economically advanced countries—is that the difference...

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House Republicans Forcing Fetal Tissue Researchers To Reveal Identities Despite Risk Of Violence

by Justin Rosario – Using the long-debunked Planned Parenthood videos that were heavily edited to “show” the “sale” of fetal tissue, House Republicans have decided that if they can’t punish PP, they would terrorize researchers instead : WASHINGTON — A special House committee empaneled to investigate fetal tissue research is preparing to issue 17 subpoenas to medical supply companies and laboratories, seeking the names of researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians and administrative personnel. The House investigation into how some of the nation’s most prestigious universities acquire fetal tissue has prompted charges of intimidation and coercion, escalating a battle that some researchers fear could shut down studies seeking cures for Parkinson’s disease, the Zika virus and a host of other conditions. Republicans know full well that the donation of aborted fetal tissue is perfectly legal and vitally necessary to life-saving research. But this is an election year, so they’re willfully putting that...

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If Syria is to Fall, Others Will Follow: The Pandora’s Box of Federalism

by Ramzy Baroud – The apparent sudden Russian military withdrawal from Syria, starting on March 15 left political commentators puzzled. Few of the analyses offered should be taken seriously. There is little solid information as of why the Russian leader decided to end his country’s military push in Syria. The intervention, which began last September, was enough to change the direction of the war on many fronts. However, one thing is for sure: the Russian withdrawal is reversible, as indicated by Vladimir Putin himself. “If necessary, literally within a few hours, Russia can build up its contingent in the region to a size proportionate to the situation developing there and use the entire arsenal of capabilities at our disposal,” he said at the Kremlin on March 17. In fact, all parties involved are taking such a threat seriously, for the abrupt withdrawal has not renewed the appetite for war and does not present an...

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Are Republicans Willing To Stop Trump at the Convention?

by Bill Scher – Karl Rove is making sense. In his Wall Street Journal column, Rove makes the mathematically accurate point that Donald Trump has no claim to the Republican nomination if he goes to the convention with only a plurality of delegates and not a majority. A majority, The Donald said, is an “artificial number that was set by somebody.” But rule that the Republican nominee must win a majority of the national convention has been in force for 160 years, since the party’s first convention in 1856 … …After all, following Tuesday’s contests, Mr. Trump has received 37% of the votes so far. He has yet to break 50% in a single state. By the end of the primaries, most Republicans are likely to have voted for someone else. Would giving Mr. Trump the nomination “disenfranchise” them? Trump is currently on pace to win 96 percent of...

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Is It Okay to Kick People Out of Campaign Rallies? That Depends

by Lee Rowland, & Rachel Goodman – While there may not be a single policy issue this year’s presidential candidates can agree on, there does seem to be a bipartisan consensus on one thing: Protest will not be tolerated at campaign rallies. The Trump campaign has gotten the most publicity for removing protesters, in part because of the violence and racial slurs with which Trump supporters have repeatedly confronted detractors. But the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders have also kicked people out for expressing views that don’t amount to unequivocal support. Too often, these removals have had a racial component. This election takes place in the #BlackLivesMatter era, and anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments have all too often taken center stage. As a result, many of the protesters marched out by police have been people of color, leading to some upsetting images. That’s certainly not what we want our...

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Tell the Senate: Do Your Job. Give Merrick Garland a Hearing and a Vote

by Terrance Heath – Republicans love to complain about people who get money from the government and refuse to work. That is, unless they’re doing so, by refusing to consider the president’s Supreme Court Nominee. Tell U.S. senators to do their jobs, and give President Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a timely hearing and an up-or-down vote to confirm or reject him. As Jim Hightower writes, American taxpayers might justifiably ask why we should keep paying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s salary. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s body wasn’t even cold before McConnell announced that the Senate would not even consider a successor nominated by President Barack Obama. As justification, McConnell created from thin air a brand new precedent that president’s don’t get to name new justices to the Court in the last year in office . That bald-faced lie would have annoyed Scalia, who would...

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Why Either Trump’s and Cruz’s Tax Plans Would Be the Largest Redistributions to the Rich in American History

by Robert Reich – The tax cuts for the rich proposed by the two leading Republican candidates for the presidency—Donald Trump and Ted Cruz—are larger, as a proportion of the government budget and the total economy, than any tax cuts ever before proposed in history. Trump and Cruz pretend to be opposed to the Republican establishment, but when it comes to taxes they’re seeking exactly what that Republican establishment wants. Here are 5 things you need to know about their tax plans: 1. Trump’s proposed cut would reduce the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent – creating a giant windfall for the wealthy (at a time when the wealthy have a larger portion of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1918). According to the Center for Tax Policy, the richest one tenth of one percent of taxpayers (those with incomes over $3.7 million) would get an average...

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Ex-Serb Leader Karadzic Guilty of Srebrenica Genocide

UN judges rule Karadzic is guilty of genocide for the Srebrenica massacre and crimes against humanity in Bosnian war Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of genocide on Thursday over the Srebrenica massacre and crimes against humanity committed during the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia. UN judges at the international tribunal in The Hague said Karadzic was guilty of 10 of the 11 counts brought against him during the five-year trial, and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Karadzic, 70, is the highest-ranking person to face a reckoning before the UN tribunal over a war two decades ago in which 100,000 people were killed as rival armies carved up Bosnia along ethnic lines. Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic was criminally responsible for extermination, murder, attacking civilians, and terror for overseeing the deadly 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, during the 1992-95 war.  On Al...

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“Inside the Clinton Plan to Defeat Donald Trump”

by bobswern – Inside the Clinton Plan to Defeat Donald Trump by Gaius Publius Down With Tyranny March 14th, 2016 I’m just presenting this, and genuinely for your information. I’d be shocked if the Clinton team weren’t preparing to take on Donald Trump should Clinton win the nomination. New York Times writers Amy Chozik and Patrick Healy (we’ve discussed some of his work here) have sussed out details on that plan — or have had been the recipients of a campaign-orchestrated “leak” describing it: This article is based on interviews with more than two dozen advisers, strategists and close allies of the Clintons, including several who have spoken directly with Mr. Clinton. Some spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss strategy publicly. In addition, Ben Smith at Buzzfeed has gathered a characterization of their anti-Trump plans by Clinton insider Paul Begala, and added a characterization...

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Flint Investigation Lays Blame For Water Crisis Squarely On The State

by BRYCE COVERT – An investigatory panel tasked by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) laid the blame for the contamination of Flint’s drinking water with lead and other toxins on the state in a final report released Wednesday. “he state is fundamentally accountable for what happened in Flint,” it states. “The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice.” The report enumerates a number of shortcomings among state agencies, particularly the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which it says bears “primary responsibility” for the water contamination and “failed in its fundamental responsibility to effectively enforce drinking water regulations.” The report finds that the MDEQ misinterpreted the federal lead and copper rule, meant to protect Americans from lead in drinking water, and misapplied its requirements, leading to underreporting and high exposure for residents that went on for months. It also waited too long...

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After Brussels, Calls to Ditch Europe’s Freedoms for Security

by Lauren McCauley – Officials claim that open borders and encryption ‘are putting the lives of European citizens at risk.’ After the coordinated attacks in Brussels, the resounding cry from governments, media, and national security experts is that we need less freedoms and more security. As they did in the wake of the Paris attacks, countries across the continent rushed to tighten border security in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s bombings, which killed at least 34 people, striking the airport and a metro station. Meanwhile, officials and so-called “terrorism experts” rushed to place the blame for the attack on Europe’s—and more specifically Belgium’s—supposedly lax border policies and restrictive information-sharing rules. British MEP Mike Hookem declared outright that the Brussels attack “shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security.” “Open borders,” he added, “are putting the lives of European citizens at risk.” “The European Union...

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Time for These Two Democrats to Go

by Bill Moyers & Michael Winship – They represent everything wrong with the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton should tell them to take a hike There are two Democrats whose resignation from office right now would do their party and country a service. Their disappearance might also help Hillary Clinton convince skeptical Democrats that her nomination, if it happens, is about the future, and not about resurrecting and ratifying the worst aspects of the first Clinton reign when she and her husband rarely met a donor to whom they wouldn’t try to auction a sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom. In fact, while we’re at it, and if Secretary Clinton really wants us to believe she’s no creature of the corporate and Wall Street money machine — despite more than $44 million in contributions from the financial industry since 2000 and her $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, not to mention several million more...

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Trump has Achieved what was Once Unthinkable: Putting the House Majority in Play for Democrats

by Kerry Eleveld – Donald Trump has proven political strategists and pundits wrong on nearly every prediction they’ve made in 2016 thus far, and now we can add another “given” to that list: The assumption that retention of the Republican’s House majority was a foregone conclusion. Democratic (and Republican) strategists entered this election cycle generally believing that dismantling the GOP’s 30-seat advantage would require a years-long chipping away effort. But now, Democrats are at least entertaining the possibility of a “wave” election produced by a heavy backlash against Trump. And many Republicans appear to agree, reports Politico: The House GOP’s leading indicators — its most vulnerable members, like Reps. Bob Dold and Carlos Curbelo — are already sounding the alarm against Trump and his rhetoric on women, Hispanics and other groups. The party’s outside groups are preparing an intensified fundraising push to help defend the chamber. The respected Cook Political Report downgraded Republicans’ chances in 10 districts Friday. And...

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The Fall and Decline of the English Language

by A. Barton Hinkle – How :-), :-(, and emoticons helped lead to Trump Among the many factors adduced to explain the rise of Donald Trump, the most important has been left unnoted: the devolution of the English language. Evidence of that devolution lies everywhere. On a recent Monday, for instance, the Drudge Report ran this headline: “Suspect preplanned to interrupt Dayton rally…” You know a suspect is serious when he not only plans an interruption, but preplans it. “Preplan” is one of those redundancies, like “added bonus” or “general vicinity” (or “annoying newspaper columnist”) that defies explanation. But its frequency, like the frequency of those other redundancies, has increased in recent decades. (See for yourself by analyzing word usage in Google Books’ Ngram Viewer.) Redundancies—which occur when people express the same idea more than once using different words—are a sign of lazy thinking, which leads to the repetition of concepts, often...

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Hillary Clinton Deserves a Huge Amount of Credit For the U.S.-Cuba Breakthrough

by Scan – With so much distressing news at home and abroad these days, it sure is nice to see inspiring headlines like “Obama calls for change and freedom in Cuba” and “Obama: Time to bury ‘last remnants’ of Cold War in Americas“. I mean this with all sincerity: Thanks, Obama! Barack Obama will go down in history as the president who finally thawed relations with our close island neighbor after more than a half century, and he absolutely deserves credit for this continent-changing accomplishment. But a president never works alone, and there was someone working for him throughout his first term who was instrumental to bringing forth this tremendous achievement. It was his first Secretary of State, and she’s currently running to succeed him. In December 2014, just after the president announced that full diplomatic relations with Cuba would be restored, Bloomberg View published a fascinating behind-the-scenes account entitled “Hillary Clinton Secretly...

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Assessing the Candidates’ Overall Truthfulness

by Bidabunch – The folks at the Star Tribune put together the Truth-O-Meter as compiled by Politifact: With primaries completed this week in Florida and Ohio, as well as in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina, we thought it was a good time to look at the remaining candidates trying to capture their party’s nomination for president. In the accompanying chart, you’ll see a snapshot of where their Truth-O-Meter scorecards stood as of this week using PolitiFact’s system of rating the accuracy of statements made. Star Tribune While I wish our candidates’ statements were rated 100% True/Mostly True and at least Half True, look at the comparisons to the Republicans! Wowzers! Dividing them up in columns of True (True, Mostly True and Half Truth) and False (Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire): Clinton: True 72;  False 28 Sanders: True 70; False 31 Trump:  True 23; False 78 Cruz:  True 35; False 65...

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$47,000+ for Emergency Transport to a Hospital. Is this Health Care?

by Egberto Willies – The timidity of Americans to vote for and force real change in our health care system will continue making us a willing participant in our pilfer. The story that could potentially affect every American should be probative. We see accidents throughout out roads. At any given time anyone of us could be in an accident that will require an air transport ambulance. The private organizations that provide this service must be considered modern day pirates. As shown in the ABC clip above, this particular air ambulance company requires that some party signs a contract accepting complete responsibility for the transport bill. The agreement does not provide the actual charge the company will bill. Air Methods billed the man $47,000 for flying his daughter a relatively short distance.  ABC contacted Air Methods‘ spokesperson said the bill was high to compensate for the indigent and underpayments. He then said with a...

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Trump Says He Will Delegate Supreme Court Appointments To The Heritage Foundation

by IAN MILLHISER – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, in an apparent bid to placate conservatives who fear that he could appoint an insufficiently ideological justice if elected president, plans to release a list of 5-10 names sometime in the next week. He says that, if given the opportunity to name a Supreme Court justice, he will limit his selection to the names on that list. At a press conference on Monday, Trump also revealed an unusual detail about how he is determining which names should be on the list. “Heritage Foundation and others are working on” the list,” according to Trump. Heritage is a think tank known for its stridently conservative views and its unorthodox approach to mathematics. They oppose marriage equality, defend discrimination against LGBT Americans, and they have a surprisingly long history of reversing their own stances on health policy when doing so is useful to opponents of...

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Rachel Maddow Just Covered How The RNC Will Steal The Nomination From Trump (VIDEO)

by Christian Drake – If you would say that the stage is set for the modern Republican party to undergo a self-destruction unlike any in recorded history, you would possibly be understating things. Trump is, to most pragmatic observers, going to be taking the nomination. This has the right-wing establishment completely terrified and they are prepared to do literally anything short of assassination to stop him. Rachel Maddow did an absolutely brilliant bit of reporting with a former Ron Paul Senior Advisor, on exactly how the RNC will steal the nomination from Trump in the video below. The RNC is by many recent accounts, planning on staging an insurrection within its own ranks by manipulating the convention delegates that will be doing the nomination at the national convention in Cleveland this summer. The RNC, while not having admitted it yet, is 99.999 percent likely to attempt to sway delegates that were...

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The Presidential Race: The West Weighs in

by Robert Borosage – Bernie Sanders is ignored by the media, dismissed by the pundits and the president, but he keeps on rising. Donald Trump continues to outrage, generating well-deserved condemnation in the media, opposition of panicked Republican poobahs and a barrage of negative ads from deep pocket superPACs, but he keeps extending his lead. This campaign is a long way from over. On a day haunted by the terror in Brussels, voters flooded to the polls and caucuses in Arizona, Idaho and Utah. Hillary Clinton won Arizona handily, buoyed again by her continued edge among seniors and people of color. But Sanders gained in the delegate count by swamping her in the Idaho and Utah caucuses, generating recorded turnouts that overwhelmed caucus sites. The press will discount his victories as expected and his delegate gains as insufficient, but what’s clear is that Sanders continues to generate growing excitement and...

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Amid Water Crisis, Suspicious Flint City Hall Break-in Declared ‘Inside Job’

by Nadia Prupis – In December, an empty office where Flint water crisis files were being kept was burglarized An unsolved December break-in into the Flint City Hall office where files on the water crisis were being stored was “definitely an inside job,” the city’s police chief has told local media. That statement raised more than a few eyebrows as Flint officials are currently being investigated for their role in the ongoing lead poisoning crisis. Three months after the burglary, there are still no suspects, and officials have only confirmed that a television has gone missing, though documents were reportedly strewn throughout the office. The city’s new police chief Tim Johnson told the Flint Journal  that the circumstances are too suspicious for the break-in to have been random. “It was definitely an inside job. The power cord wasn’t even taken. The average drug user knows that you’d need...

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The Single Worst Argument Against Confirming Merrick Garland

by IAN MILLHISER – You started it! That was Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) message in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last Thursday, when he attempted to defend his party’s refusal to consider anyone nominated by President Obama to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In response to a speech by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who noted that there is no precedent in this century for the Senate refusing to give a Supreme Court nominee a confirmation hearing, Hatch raised the specter of Robert Bork. As Franken and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) swiftly pointed out, Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by a bipartisan 58-42 vote in 1987, received both a vote and a hearing. Nevertheless, Hatch maintained that this vote was a turning point in the politics of Supreme Court nominations. Bork, Hatch claimed, was “one of the greatest legal minds...

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The Flow of Foreign Fighters to the Islamic State

Assessing the Challenge and the Response by Hardin Lang and Muath Al Wari – Foreign fighters have long been a key element of transnational jihad. In the 1980s, foreigners flocked to South Asia to fight alongside the Afghan mujahedeen. The same thing occurred to a lesser extent in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990s and again following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the Syrian civil war and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State—also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL—have broken new ground. Never before have jihadi foreign fighters rallied at the speed and scale as they have in the territory that IS now controls. Today, between 31,000 and 27,000 fighters from more than 86 countries are estimated to have made the journey to join the ranks of IS and other extremist groups, doubling the 2014 numbers. These foreign fighters fill leadership roles within the organization’s hierarchy and seem to...

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Will Candidates Turn “Shock and Awe” into Truth and Reconciliation?

by Stacy Bannerman – Last weekend marked thirteen years since the “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq, and while the Presidential contenders have gone back-and-forth about the war, not one of them is leading the way forward. If they want to show they’re qualified for the Oval Office, promoting an American Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the war would be a major step in the right direction. Modeled after Truth & Reconciliation Commissions in Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere, an American Truth & Reconciliation Commission, convened at the US Capitol, would consist of a panel of select political, grassroots and spiritual leaders assembled to hear the testimony of the politicians and pundits who championed the war, as well as veterans and their families and the affected communities. Those first-hand accounts would help inform the panel in developing solutions that promote repair, reconciliation and the restoration of relationships. If it were...

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FBI Unexpectedly Says It May Not Need Apple’s Help to Unlock iPhone

by Nadia Prupis – Government backs off from privacy fight, temporarily, as it asks court for time to test alternate method The FBI has unexpectedly backed off its privacy battle with Apple, as the agency cancelled a hearing set for Tuesday in its ongoing effort to force the tech company to break into one of the suspected San Bernardino shooter’s iPhones, telling the court it had found a potential new way to access the data. Until Monday, the government had insisted—under oath—that it needed Apple’s help in unlocking Syed Farook’s phone, a claim which Apple has denied. The FBI told the court late Monday that a “third party” had demonstrated an alternate method of unlocking the device and asked for time to test it. The government has until April 5 to determine if it wants to pursue the case. Just ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, magistrate judge Sheri Pym stayed her previous...

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Cruz: Brussels Attack Means US Police Should ‘Patrol Muslim Neighborhoods’

by Nadia Prupis – Council on American-Islamic Relations called on GOP presidential candidate to retract comments following Brussels bombing Ted Cruz on Tuesday called for a freeze on the U.S. accepting refugees from regions where the Islamic State (ISIS) and al Qaeda have a strong presence and said local law enforcement should be allowed to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.” The Republican presidential candidate made the comments within hours of the bombings in Belgium that killed at least 30 and wounded hundreds more. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack. Tensions were further exacerbated when Cruz’s campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart told Politico, “We know what is happening with these isolated Muslim neighborhoods in Europe. If we want to prevent it from happening here, it is going to require an empowered, visible law enforcement presence that will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes.” As...

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