Nel's New Day

July 16, 2014

Archie Andrews One of 2014 Gun Statistics

archie diesArchie Andrews, 73, died from a gun shot today because he protected his friend Sen. Kevin Keller from an assassination attempt. Anyone who has read comic books for the past seven decades knows Archie, from DC Comics Life with Archie. In this way, Archie Comics and co-CEO Jon Goldwater brings the issue of senseless gun deaths to entertainment media.

The first gay character in the Archie Comics series, Keller is a married military veteran and newly elected senator. He pushed for more gun control after his husband, Clay, was involved in a shooting while trying to prevent a robbery. Today’s #36 shows the killing; #37 will show Archie’s friends paying tribute to his legacy one year later.

Goldwater said that the comic’s plotline was not a publicity stunt but a way to educate readers about gun violence.

Superheroes such as Marvel’s Spiderman and Captain America have died, but Archie has always been like the person living next door. Goldwater thinks that Archie’s death has more impact because he’s human—“he bleeds.” Archie may bleed only on the pages of a comic book, but he represents the tens of thousands of people who bleed and die each year because of the nation’s lax gun laws and a misguided approach toward patriotism.

Exactly how many people die from gun shots each year in the United States is impossible to know because the NRA and the gun industry have coerced Congress into preventing the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from compiling national statistics on gun-related deaths and injuries. To overcome this ignorance, Jennifer Mascia, assistant editor for the New York Times, has attempted to collect these statistics by gathering the information state by state for Joe Nocera’s The Gun Report.

In examining over 40,000 deaths from guns since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that Mascia could find, she discovered that half the shootings came from arguments, frequently fueled by alcohol, among friends, neighbors, family members, and intimate partners. More and more, people solve their problems with guns, not fists. Loaded guns are easily accessible, many times to children who shoot themselves or each others. Suburbs are the new magnet for gun violence

Mascia also discovered:

  • In Iowa, it’s easier to sell a gun than lemonade.
  • In Arkansas, it takes less time to buy a gun than to qualify for food stamps.
  • In Arizona, you need a permit to cut hair, but not to carry a concealed weapon.
  • In Florida you’re fingerprinted to be a substitute teacher, but not to buy or carry a gun.
  • It’s easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to vote.

guns-and-government different countriesJapan averages four—yes, four!–gun murders per year although its population is 41 percent of that in the United States. If our gun deaths were equal to those in Japan, the United States would have ten each year. Getting a firearm in Japan requires a massive amount or paperwork, 20 hours of lectures, a written test, and a shooting class. The person must pass a criminal background check and a physical and psychological exam as well as submitting to half a dozen police interviews and more police interviews of your friends and family. Before a gun is issued the person must provide a floor map of the home with the location of the firearm’s storage and photos of locks on the gun safe. The process requires about a year. You are asked to produce a floor map of your home and indicate where a firearm will be stored, as well as photos of the locks on your gun safe. Approval usually takes a year. Even the mob in Japan doesn’t bother to get guns.

Canada requires third-party character references for gun ownership, and officials conduct interviews with an applicant’s spouse, partner, or next of kin before issuing a license. That’s before the person is required to pass a firearm safety and law class and take a practical training course. Gun-owners are required to re-apply and re-quality for their licenses every five years.

Tightened legislation in Australia after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre banned semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns. Owners of firearms must provide a reason to obtain these. The country has had no mass shooting since the legislation went into effect. Most important, suicides by guns, which cause 60 percent of adult firearm deaths, declined in Australia after the legislation.

By contrast, mass shootings have become so much “business as usual” in the U.S. that they receive less and less attention in the media. A week ago, four children as young as age four and two adults were killed in Houston’s suburb, Spring. The one survivor, a 15-year-old girl, was able to tell police where the gunman was going to kill more relatives and save their lives. Archie’s fictional death received much more press than this mass shooting.

Even ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia believes in limits on gun ownership. In District of Columbia v. Heller, he wrote, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

The theory of a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun has been debunked many times. At the mass shooting surrounding Gabby Giffords, a good guy almost shot the people who had already disarmed the killer. A good guy pulled his gun in Las Vegas after a man killed two police officers, but the killer’s partner shot and killed the good guy. Bad guys get their guns by grabbing them from the good guys, especially in home invasions. Many police officers, who have supposedly been highly trained, shoot themselves and others around them.

As the NRA and gun industry fight to make gun regulations more lax, people who fight any regulations such as universal background checks claim that the entire solution could come from enforcing existing laws. Cross-referencing gun checks with mental health records is required, but Montana and South Dakota submitted only three mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 2012. North Dakota and Massachusetts turned in one; Rhode Island submitted none. A year ago, only four states had laws requiring that mental health records be sent to the system, and the federal government cannot require it. NRA and the gun industry have made sure that conservatives will not support this reporting.

Other common-sense solutions have been rejected by gun enthusiasts. Smart guns activated only by the owners could stop children or intruders from discharging firearms, but gunners are so frightened by the smart guns that they threatened to kill the two vendors who tried to sell them in the U.S.

Lax laws in conservative states across the nation are creating a culture of killing others for little or no reason. People—usually men—pull guns because they don’t like a type of music or get into an argument while waiting in a line at the local pizza place. Or they accidentally shoot through walls and ceilings because of their carelessness.

Many state gun laws don’t even make the gun owners liable. Most states don’t have requirements for securing guns. In many cases, gun owners aren’t made responsible when their carelessness causes a death. For example, bad guys in early July broke into a Pennsylvania home, tied him up, and took at least 31 guns from his weapons’ stockpile. Most likely, the bad guys, who now have an additional 31 firearms, targeted the person because of the weapons. In some states, they don’t even have to report that their firearms have been stolen, allowing the bad guys an unlimited method of acquiring guns.

In a speech to the Howard County chapter of Open Carry Texas, Michael Brian Vanderboegh proposed killing voters who opposed unfettered ownership of guns. On a Fox & Friends Facebook page, Kathy Perkins, founder of Moms with Guns, posted a photo of President Obama with the statement, “Where is an assasin (sic) when you need one?” A responses suggested a way to contact a hitman.

Although they ignore other parts of the U.S. Constitution, ammosexuals consider the Second Amendment to be sacred. Their ignorance keeps them from understanding that the document has evolved during time. The original constitution allowed slavery, considered blacks to be only three-fifths of white people, and restricted voting to only white property-owning men. Their behavior is calling for changes in the Second Amendment, to return it to the original meaning of a militia.

To all the people who strut around with guns: if you’re strong enough to do this, you’re strong enough to decrease the violence from guns.

July 14, 2014

ALICE, Throw ALEC Out

Filed under: Internet — trp2011 @ 8:26 PM
Tags: , ,

The corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been active for over four decades. Businesses pay for conservative federal and state legislators to take copy-ready bills to Congress and state legislatures. ALEC has been responsible for lax gun regulations—including the infamous “stand your ground” laws—as well as laws that roll back civil rights, pollution regulations, unions while privatizing public services which costs taxpayers far more money. Thanks to ALEC, schools, prisons, public transportation, and social and welfare services have been taken over by for-profit businesses that only help the private owners.

Since  I learned about ALEC, I have longed for a way to fight back. Lo and behold, there is one! Meet ALICE, The American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange, that also provides “model bills,” ones free to state and national legislatures.

During the Occupy Movement about two years ago, New York City Councilman Brad Lander met with Seattle Councilman Nick Licata, Philadelphia Councilman Wilson Goode Jr., Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, and other progressive municipal elected officials in the United States to develop a national network for local progressive action. The goal was to coordinate ideas, narratives, legislators, and activists to build progressive strength.

Although Congress has demonstrated a never-before-seen inaction throughout the past few years, states and municipalities have shown a more progressive bent. Mississippi defeated “fetus personhood,” and Maine saved same-day voter registration. The movement for paid sick leave and higher minimum wage has gained momentum, and LGBT equality has advanced at both state and local levels. Lander pointed out that both large and small cities have sponsored legislation from responsible banking ordinances and local Community Reinvestment Act laws to anti-blight and foreclosure laws.

ALICE provides a link with existing organizations and networks such as New Bottom Line, Progressive States Network, Democratic Municipal Officials, PolicyLink, Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS, led by its director, Nation contributing editor Joel Rogers), Progressive Majority, Center for American Progress and the Working Families Party. As it grows, ALICE can be a one-stop web-based public library of progressive model law. Unlike ALEC, it won’t be hosting state legislators at all-expenses-paid retreats anytime soon, and as a 501(c)(3), it won’t be campaigning. It will, however, provide commentary, policy options, and written supports in argument for the proposed laws.

Currently, ALEC is battling the possibility that the Internet will have equal access to everyone using it. Tomorrow is the deadline for open comments to the Federal Communication Commission’s rulemaking about whether wealthy companies will be able to pay in order to download its product faster than poorer companies who can’t afford the fee. As of now, 677,000 comments have been submitted. Most of the cable, broadcast, and radio news haven’t covered the issue. When one program by John Oliver posted the email address for making comments, the website crashed from all the responses.

ALEC is also concerned that the FCC will stop restrictions on community broadband, allowing communities to create their own networks. ALEC-supported, corporate-friendly laws in 20 states stop this from happening through its model law, “Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act.” These safeguards are only for the companies that make money because they have a monopoly on Internet transmission while refusing to upgrade or even serve many rural and remote regions in the nation.

Boulder (CO) already has 100 miles of fiber-optic cable, but the state’s ban is keeping Google from developing a network in that city. To build its own network, city voters have to approve a ballot measure because of the state’s ban.

The most recent battle over these restrictions is in Chattanooga (TN). Officials plan to ask the federal government for permission to expand the super-fast Internet service it offers city residents by pre-empting state law restricting the city. The city’s Electric Power Board operates a fiber-optic Internet service that competes with companies such as Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc.

Over 130 cities operate their own Internet network, frequently with faster speeds than private service providers offer highly competitive in cost. AT&T gave almost $140,000 to Tennessee lawmakers’ campaigns in the 2014 election cycle, the most for any state. Comcast gave $76,800 during the same cycle, again more than to any other state.

GOP Sens. Deb Fischer (NE), Ron Johnson (WI), Ted Cruz (TX), and Marco Rubio (FL) wrote FCC Chair Tom Wheeler,  warning him not to act on the state laws began they were troubled by the agency “forcing taxpayer funded competition against private broadband providers.” Sixty House Republicans also wrote, criticizing Wheeler for his intention to pre-empt state broadband laws “despite the states’ determination to protect their taxpayers.”

The day after his meeting with Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Wheeler wrote in his blog:

“I believe that it is in the best interests of consumers and competition that the FCC exercises its power to pre-empt state laws that ban or restrict competition from community broadband. Given the opportunity, we will do so.

“If the people, acting through their elected local governments, want to pursue competitive community broadband, they shouldn’t be stopped by state laws promoted by cable and telephone companies that don’t want that competition.

“I believe that it is in the best interests of consumers and competition that the FCC exercises its power to preempt state laws that ban or restrict competition from community broadband. Given the opportunity, we will do so.”

Read anything about this in the mainstream media? No, I didn’t think so. We’ll see whether Wheeler or ALEC wins in this—and hope that ALICE can help us.

To learn more about ALEC, the laws that they have put through legislatures, and their members, go to ALEC Exposed.

 

July 13, 2014

Christians Ignorant of Ten Commandments, More

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 7:20 PM
Tags: , ,

Do you have a bible in your house? If the answer is yes, you live in one of the 88 percent of U.S. households with at least one bible, according to the American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” survey. The average number of bibles in homes is 4.7. The poll found that 56 percent of respondents think that the bible is the actual or inspired word of God with no errors, and over half think that the bible contains everything a person needs to know in order to lead a meaningful life. Over one-fourth said that they read the book daily or at least several times a week.

Surveys about religion are not necessarily trustworthy because people tend to tell researchers what they think the surveyors want to hear. Respondents want to look good. One question to these respondents is to cite the Ten Commandments. A few years ago, Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland couldn’t do this on the Stephen Colbert show although the legislator wanted a law to mandate the commandments be displayed in the House and Senate chambers. The good politician could remember only three.

Biblical scholars know that the Good Book lists two different—and non-matching—sets of these commandments. Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with stone tablets in Exodus 20 but breaks them out of anger and has to get another set (Exodus 34:1). For those of you who have forgotten, these are the first ones:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

And the replacements:

  1. Thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
  3. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
  4. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
  5. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
  6. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
  7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
  8. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
  9. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
  10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

God’s rewrite allows coveting, killing, adultery, swearing, and bearing false witness. He also didn’t direct people to honor their parents. God’s reconsideration merely ordered people to give Him lots of stuff, take off the Sabbath, and worship only Him with a little dietary advice such as skipping all that leaven and not seething a kid in his mother’s milk.

As long as the Ten Commandments are so ambiguous, Valerie Tarico suggests some different ones:

  1. This above all shall ye take as my first command: Thou shalt treat living beings as they want to be treated. And the second commandment is like unto it:
  2. In as much as be possible, thou shalt avoid afflicting pain or sorrow, which shall be unto thee my signs of ill and evil.
  3. Thou shalt honor and protect all of creation, for I the LORD have created it that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  4. Thou shalt have sexual relations with neither human nor beast who chooseth not freely what pleasures thou mayest offer.
  5. Thou shalt not beat the child, but by admonition and instruction with kindness shall teach both wisdom and skill.
  6. Thou shalt do unto members of other religions and tribes as thou dost unto thine own.
  7. I, the LORD your God, forbid thee to own other persons be they woman, man or child; neither shall ye subject any gender nor race one to another, but shall honor my image in all.
  8. Thou shalt not destroy the lands of thine enemies, nor poison their well, nor salt their earth, neither shalt thou cut their shade tree nor burn their vineyard, nor wantonly slaughter the beast of their field.
  9. Thou shalt wash thy hands before eating and shalt boil the drinking water that has been defiled by man or beast.
  10. Thou shalt ask the questions that can show thee wrong, so that through the toil of many, from generation unto generation, ye may come to discover the great I AM.

A little flowery, but these would have stopped the Inquisition, burning witches, Holocaust, slave trade, and the Iraq War.

Although 60 percent of those responding to the survey can’t name more than five of the commandments, they are also ignorant of much more of biblical instruction. Twelve percent think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, and almost 50 percent of high school seniors believe that Sodom and Gomorrah are a married couple. Only half know that John the Baptist was not one of the 12 apostles, and 82 percent think that “God helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse. (This expression, however, can be found in the Quran.) Yet 81 percent of U.S. adults think they are highly, moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible.

One so-called expert on the bible, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, is convinced that God determined all the U.S. borders. According to Fischer, anyone to crosses in the United States without permission is directly offending the Creator.

Not to be outdone, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins accused President Obama of imposing Sharia law on the U.S. military stationed in Bahrain during Ramadan. He cites a Stars and Stripes story that tells military members how to comply with the area’s local laws: “While not required to fast during Ramadan, in Bahrain, Americans can be fined or detained by local authorities for eating, drinking or smoking in public when off-base during daylight hours.” The Navy is also requiring long-sleeved shirts and blouses with long pants or skirts to be in keeping with local customs.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), still a wannabe presidential candidate, claimed during a radio interview this that anti-gay marriage business owners are being sent to “re-education camps” for refusing to serve gay customers. He even cited a specific Colorado baker who was required to submit a report on how he would prevent future discrimination after he refused to sell a same-sex couple a cake for their wedding reception. No barbed wire, no torture—just a report.

Taxpayers in the United States now support teaching creationism in schools. As this interactive map shows, lax regulations in many states allow taxpayer-funded schools to teach “alternatives” to evolution.  Some of these schools are regular public schools, and others are private schools that receive state tuition voucher or scholarship programs.

One piece of hope from the survey: Between 2011 and 2013, the percent of American adults who believe the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice” has almost doubled, from 10 to 19 percent.

Schools in the U.K. that receive government funding cannot teach creationism as scientific fact. Some of the newly-formed academies and free schools had been teaching “alternatives” to evolution and the Big Bang theory. Some of these schools use the U.S.-based Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) model and textbooks teaching evolution as a lie. (ACE, a popular curriculum in U.S. tax-funded Christian schools) also teaches that homosexuality is a “learned behavior” comparable to the sins of murder and stealing, and that people can avoid AIDS by following the Bible.)

Even more hope comes from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The anti-science fervor in the United States comes almost entirely from fundamentalist Christians who cannot reconcile reality with their bible. In this country, we may have to put up with their stupidity in the media, but the BBC Trust, which broadcasts news around the globe, has issued a statement that it will give more weight to scientific fact that unsupported opinions:

“The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences. Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.”

Fox network will never stop spreading misrepresentations (aka lies), but perhaps more ethical U.S. media networks may decide to follow suit.

July 12, 2014

Legislators Want to Keep People Ignorant

Filed under: GMOs — trp2011 @ 9:47 PM
Tags: , ,

When children are young, parents sometimes keep information from them to protect them from the harsh realities of the world. In the past decade, the government has started doing the same thing. Last year, it was recommended that women not get mammograms because they would be upset by false positives.

Kansas passed a law this past spring ordering doctors to tell their pregnant patients that abortion can cause breast cancer. Of course, that’s not true, but conservatives are never concerned about facts. They just want to believe that they’re protecting the gentler sex. Kansas children are also prevented from learning about sex and contraception.

The most recent way to protect the delicate sensibilities of people in the United States is to prevent labeling. Because members of the subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture firmly believe that genetic engineering of food crops is a total success, they want to keep those foods from being labeled. The panel agreed that people who oppose GMOs or want them labeled are alarmists who thrive on fear and ignorance. Labels would make this fear worse so the legislators should stop this from happening.

Even my own U.S. representative, Kurt Schrader (D-OR), thinks that political leaders, especially in the European Union, are afraid of pro-labeling people. He said, “It’s obvious that while the science in the EU in incontrovertible about the health and safety benefits of genetically modified hybrid crops, that because of politics, people are afraid to lead, and inform consumers.”

Committee members carefully selected only pro-GMO witnesses who failed to talk about the development of “super weeds” and “super bugs,” decreased biodiversity, over-reliance on single-crop factory farming, and potential health risks.

Because the authoritarian conservatives are eager to protect the populace, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) are proposing a bill to keep states from requiring GMO labeling and allow genetically engineered food to be labeled “100 percent natural.” These people believe in states’ rights unless it gets in the way of their campaign funds. Fortunately, some people are objecting, including Ben and Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). According to them, labeling is an inexpensive way to let people know what’s in their food so they can decide what they want to eat.

Once again, conservative legislators are on the opposite side from popular opinion. About three-fourths of people in the nation are concerned about GMOs, and 93 percent of us support mandatory GMO labeling on foods. It’s only Big Food—that pays our legislators—who are fighting legislation for labeling. Last year, the industry made so many misrepresentations about a measure on the ballot and poured so much money into fighting the initiative that it was defeated. The same thing happened earlier in California.

In a British survey, 61 percent of the farmers said that they would grow GMO crops, but only 15 percent of them said that they would eat the product. The farmers know something that the House conservatives don’t: GMO food products destroy health and kill people. Last year, a scientific study about rats fed on “Roundup ready” GMO maize was debunked because some people felt that it lacked a stringent peer review process. After following these guidelines, the study is back—with the same results of severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances. Most treatment groups had higher rates of large tumors and mortality.

Current safety testing from the industry is for only 90 days, an inadequate time because chronic diseases don’t manifest themselves until mid-life. The study also differs from industry studies because it publishes the raw data, something that the GMO industry doesn’t want people to see.

The connection between GMOs and serious health problems became obvious in the 1990′s when a new form of kidney disease swept through Sri Lankan agriculture workers. A joint study by Rajarata University and the California State University eventually found the link between a common herbicide introduced to widespread use during the late 1970′s, glyphosate, sold under the brand name “RoundUp” here in the United States. Sri Lanka lacked U.S. regulations to prevent water contamination or protect workers, and heavy metals within the soil caused binding with the glyphosate. The same situation occurred in Central America and India, also areas with lax regulations.

The United States, despite some regulations, suffers from GMO poisoning, exacerbated by spraying soybeans with the weedkiller in the 1990s. In April it was revealed that breast milk carries many times the allowable amount of glyphosate, and scientists found glyphosate at “760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides.” The EPA, however, allows higher levels that the EU and has been convinced by the industry that glyphosate doesn’t accumulate in the body. Yet, urine from consumers in the United States has ten times the glyphosate as urine in European consumers. This summer, the industry hopes to approve dicamba and 2,4D, elements in the defoliant in Agent Orange used to clear jungles during the Vietnam War.

Even Russia demands labeling if foods contain over 0.9 percent of GMOs. “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

The USDA has never denied an application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops. Monsanto’s growth hormones for cows was approved by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner.  This was after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones’ safety and then took a job at the FDA where she approved her own report. Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist, wrote the USDA’s food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as “organic.” Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Glyphosate has been linked to increased cancer risk, neurotoxicity, and birth defects, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory irritation; lung congestion; increased breathing rate; and damage to the pancreas, kidney and testes. Gluten intolerance has dramatically increased within the past two decades at the same time that GMOs have been covering the United States.  The Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) Jeffrey M. Smith asserts that GM foods–including soy and corn–are the possible “environmental triggers” to gluten disorders that affect almost 20 million people in the nation.

GMOs have ingredients that kill rats, but the legislators want to protect people from knowing whether foods are genetically modified because people will get afraid. The question isn’t whether to ban GMOs; it’s merely a matter of labeling.  Legislators are afraid that they’ll lose campaign donations if they don’t stop people from knowing what’s in their food.

July 11, 2014

Suing the President Can be Dangerous

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:08 PM
Tags: ,

Safe from losing the House Speaker position to Eric Cantor after Cantor lost his primary, John Boehner (R-OH) decided a new technique for controlling the radical conservatives who want to impeach the president. He’ll sue President Obama. The conservative base is all riled up and needs to be slightly calmed through a kind of relief valve. Boehner hopes that Tea Partiers will be satisfied with a lawsuit instead of full-blown impeachment.

When he proudly announced his grand plan over two weeks ago, Boehner had no reason for suing the President of the United States. To cover his lack of planning, he explained the suit was for  “not faithfully executing the laws of our country.” He tossed out grandiose terms like  “executive monarchy,” “imperial precedents,” and “aggressive unilateralism.”

Instead of being frightened of Boehner’s new strategy, President Obama has delineated the fallacy of being sued:

“Sue him! Impeach him! Really? For what, doing my job? Okay? Think about that, you’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job, while you don’t do your job?”

The president pointed out that the House has done nothing to help the country:

“The best you can say for them this year is that so far they have not shut down the government or threatened to have America welch on our obligations and ruin our credit rating. That’s the best you can say. But of course, it’s only July, so who knows what they may cook up in the next few months.”

The GOP members of the House have done nothing to boost the economy, help minimum-wage workers, extend unemployment insurance, address climate change, or reform the immigration disaster. Appropriations bills will probably not proceed because of the GOP goals to promote coal burning and stop the Clean Water Act. Talk of more stopgap spending bills shows a continuation of a dysfunctional Congress.

After pondering what excuse to use for a lawsuit against the president for over two weeks, Boehner came up with one of the weakest positions possible. The suit will be based on the president allowing businesses to wait for a year before implementing the Affordable Health Care, something that the GOP had voted for.

A danger of suing is that people will learn that President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any other president since Franklin Roosevelt. The current president’s annual average of 33.58 executive orders is below any other president in 130 years; Chester Arthur averaged 27.7 orders each year. George W. Bush had 36.38, and Reagan topped 47.

Instead of complaining about Bush’s excessive use of executive orders, Boehner strongly supported Bush’s executive orders to prevent embryonic stem-cell research involving new embryos and to limit earmarks. The House Speaker even asked Bush to use an executive order to exempt a historic steamboat from safety regulations after Congress opted not to do so. In 2010, Boehner also asked President Obama to implement an executive order banning taxpayer funding for abortion in ACA.

The lawsuit will show that the president is actually something while the House is doing nothing.  Democrats love the suit as much as the president. Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, wrote:

“Instead of working to create jobs, instead of working to strengthen the middle class or addressing any of the urgent issues facing our nation, Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars on another toxic partisan stunt. This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction.”

The lawsuit’s first public hearing is next week on July 16 in the House Rules committee. Within two weeks after that, it will go to the entire House for passage, just before the August recess. If all proceeds on schedule, the House’s lawyers take the complaint to the federal courthouse just as Congressional members head out to the campaign trail. Boehner hopes that the process will allow the conservatives’ calls for impeachment to fade.

Six years ago, Pelosi, then House Speaker, stopped her chamber from impeaching George W. Bush, assuming that this action would damage their party, anger swing voters, and galvanize the opposing party.

Boehner hopes that a simple lawsuit will also protect his party from the danger of impeachment. The question is whether he’s right. There’s always the possibility that someone farther to the right will introduce a resolution of impeachment and destroy his plans. House rules provide parliamentary privilege for this resolution, guaranteeing is a floor vote.

A serious problem for the lawsuit is proving that the House has standing. Boehner must prove that the House has been tangibly harmed by the president’s actions beyond a loss of political or institutional clout. The vast majority of lawsuits brought by members of Congress against the president on policy issues have been dismissed for lack of standing. Judges disapprove of these suits because Congress can constitutionally check the president’s power by making laws, restricting funding, or impeaching the president.

Recently, courts have been reluctant to loosen standing requirements. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote last year about the vast consequences of doing this. He imagined a system “in which Congress and the Executive can pop immediately into court, in their institutional capacity, whenever the President refuses to implement a statute he believes to be unconstitutional, and whenever he implements a law in a manner that is not to Congress’s liking.” He added, “Placing the Constitution’s entirely anticipated political arm wrestling into permanent judicial receivership does not do the system a favor.”

Another problem is that Boehner waited for over a year after the president took action. A judge may wonder why the House took so long for a lawsuit. In addition, the president’s action is for only a year and expires at the end of 2014, making the matter moot within less than six months.

Even the conservative Forbes writes that the lawsuit is a bad idea. Although the president’s popularity is now very high, Congress had a 9-percent approval in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll. According to David Davenport, a lawsuit is “like Ted Cruz trying to shut down the government, where the noise over his tactics was louder than the central point (does anyone even remember it was about healthcare?) he was trying to make.”

Another issue is the hypocrisy of Republicans looking for an activist judge to support them. Davenport wrote:

“Conservatism should not be content to pursue conservative ends by any means, but should consistently demonstrate a commitment to conservative means as well.  As a consequence, pursuing an unprecedented legal attack on presidential power through the courts puts House Republicans right where they don’t belong, seeking a judicial solution to a political problem.”

For the first time in the history of the United States, a chamber of Congress is suing the president for “failing to enforce the law.” problem: Republicans won’t do their job, and they won’t let the president do his. We’ll see how that works out.

July 10, 2014

Fracking Loses in Court, in Science

Environmental exploitation is a sin, according to Pope Francis. His comment this week reflects earlier statements including the comparison of battling climate change to safeguarding creation.  In the United States, the lust for fuel fracking seems to be waning through new laws, court cases, and research.

Municipalities can ban fracking in New York. That was the good news from the state’s Court of Appeals on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court sent down its Hobby Lobby ruling announcing that corporations have souls. The 5-2 decision confirmed the principle of municipal home rule giving villages and towns the right to manage their affairs without state legislative interference. The 170 anti-fracking measures throughout New York’s municipalities are no longer in limbo and can now take effect.

People in the state are still waiting for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision regarding the state’s 2008 temporary moratorium on fracking put in place by former governor David Paterson. Cuomo said that he’s waiting for a report from the State Health Department. Any decision may be moot if energy companies leave the state in disgust, which they seem to be doing.

Last spring, a Pennsylvania judge in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas ruled that corporations don’t have the right to privacy under the commonwealth’s constitution. Newspapers had sued to unseal a confidential settlement in which a family was paid $750,000 after gas drilling had contaminated their water and harmed their health. Until now, fracking companies have used secrecy agreements to hide environmental and health impacts of gas drilling.

The U.S. Supreme Court may have ruled that corporations are persons, but Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca said that corporations and business entities aren’t the same as people under Pennsylvania’s constitution. She wrote:

“There are no men or woman defendants in the instant case; they are various business entities [and are created by the state and subject to laws, unlike people with natural rights].In the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” [If businesses had natural rights like people,] “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principles, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.”

She added that the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment “use of the word ‘person’ that makes its protections applicable to business entities” does not apply to Pennsylvania’s constitution. ” The exact opposite is derived from plain language of Article X of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

“Not only did our framers know how to employ the names of business entities when and where they wanted them… they used those words to subjugate business entities to the constitution. The framers permitted the Commonwealth to revoke, amend, and repeal ‘[a]ll charters of private corporations’ and any ‘powers, duties or liabilities’ of corporations… If the framers had intended this section [Article 1, Section 8] to shield corporations, limited-liability corporations, or partnerships, the Court presumes that they could and would have used those words. The plain meaning of ‘people’ is the living, breathing humans in this Commonwealth.”

The Court held that businesses do have legal rights protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizure of property, but that’s not the same as a right to personal privacy. “Our Commonwealth’s case law has not established a constitutional right of privacy to shield them from our laws.”

Looking at case law and rulings from other states, the judge held, “This Court found no case establishing a constitutional right of privacy for businesses, and it uncovered only one case that allowed a corporation to assert a state-based right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in a criminal matter.”

Summing up, she said:

“It is axiomatic that corporations, companies, and partnerships have ‘no spiritual nature,’ ‘feelings,’ ‘intellect,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘thoughts,’ ’emotions,’ or ‘sensations,’ because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists… They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government, because businesses are like grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the people of this Commonwealth raise, tend, prune at their pleasure and need.”

Her ruling made fracking companies so desperate that they started offering $50,000 to people who own land in the country to release the corporation from any liability caused by the drilling. Those who take the money cannot sue for health problems, property damage, or other issues such as noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations. It also covers not only drilling but also anything that they might do in the future including construction of pipelines, power lines, roads, tanks, ponds, pits, compressor stations, houses and buildings.

Although California’s governor, Jerry Brown, is known for being fracking-friendly, Beverly Hills has decided to ban the practice. The first municipality in the state to deny fracking, the city council unanimously decided that it would not be allowed within city limits. Carson City (CA) had already declared a moratorium on fracking, but only for 45 days.

Texas may be oil country, but last year Dallas banned fracking within “1,500 feet of a home, school, church, or well.”  That pretty much covers the entire city.

A jury has awarded a family in Decatur (TX) $2.9 million because of Aruba Petroleum’s irresponsible activities. The Parr family is not the first to suffer nausea, rashes, nosebleeds, and sight and memory impairment, but they are the first to win in court after the jury determined that fracking is dangerous to people’s health. Naturally Aruba is appealing.

New research shows that methane release from drilling operations in southwestern Pennsylvania is 100 to 1,000 times more than federal regulators had estimated. The study contributes to a body of knowledge showing that the EPA has gravely underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels may be the biggest problem with climate change, but methane is about 20 to 30 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere. The U.S. may be producing 50 percent more methane than the EPA has assumed.

Wells leaking the most methane were in the drilling phase, a time not previously known for high emissions. The release comes from underbalanced drilling methods with a lower pressure in the well-bore than the surrounding geology that allows the capture of ethane and butane. EPA investigations are less accurate because energy companies restrict access to wells, pipelines, processing plants, and compressor stations. Colorado became the first state to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas last February.

Another study, published last week in the world’s leading scientific journal Science, has determined that the overwhelming increase in earthquakes throughout Oklahoma is directly connected to fracking and waste-water injection. Before 2008, the state averaged one earthquake of 3.0 or greater each year; in just 2014, the state had more than 230. That’s a 22,900 percent increase after fracking began. Overpressuring a fault system by injecting too much waste water causes tectonic plates in previously stable areas to slip, resulting in not just one earthquake but a number of them because of the distribution of pressures along the entire fault system. Some of these earthquakes may be as far away as 20 miles from the wells that cause the problem. Continued fracking will make the rate of earthquakes much worse.

earthquake increase oklahoma

Earlier this year, Ohio officials linked fracking to a cluster of earthquakes and is imposing new rules. Previously it was thought that earthquakes occurred when water was injected, but these earthquakes were near a site where fracking had begun. If monitors detect an earthquake even as small as 1.0, the state will suspend fracking for an investigation.

In another environmental success, TransCanada’s permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline has expired in South Dakota, and Nebraska’s permit is halted by litigation. These two events block the already-complete portions of the pipeline in Montana and Kansas. TransCanada will have to start the South Dakota application process again, this time with more unified resistance. North Dakota’s fracking boom will erase the argument that people in the U.S. need Canadian oil enough to give a company in another country the powers of eminent domain.

Since the pipeline’s proposal, TransCanada has faced huge national protests and small-scale disobedience along the path of its construction. Grassroots groups have organized and politicked all along the pipeline’s proposed route.

People can make a difference if they just keep working to save the world.

 

July 9, 2014

U.S. Mimics Sunnis, Moves toward Fascism

Good versus evil: that’s how conservatives in the United States frame their relationship with Middle Eastern countries. The current determination of the Sunnis to take back Iraq after the U.S. destroyed the country has brought this belief to a roiling boil. Using religion as an excuse to control the country, Sunnis and Shiites are vying for political power in Iraq. It’s a parallel to the attempt of the conservatives–primarily Christians–to take over control of the United States.

The most recent move toward this control was the ruling by five white men to put themselves about federal law and deny contraception to thousands of people. These five men decided that 90 percent of U.S. for-profit “human” corporations have the right to control millions of women’s lives, many of them minorities. Their excuse for supremacy is the Christian bible, which says nothing about contraception.

Fundamentalist religion has morphed the New Testament’s brown-skinned liberal Jewish messiah, who freely gave away health care and redistributed wealth, into a muscular masculine warrior so blond and white that he would have been admired by the Nazi culture. To promote this new vision of the Christian leader, people needed to negate women’s value because of the Christian male belief that feminists have created an effeminate clergy.

Conservatives have increasingly spewed their hatred of anyone different from them. In the past, they mostly concentrated on destroying themselves, for example overeating sweets after First Lady Michele Obama tried to educate people about stopping obesity with sensible eating. The libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has declared Salvation Army’s annual Doughnut Day as a time for “patriotic civil disobedience” by asking people to eat at least two, not one, doughnut.

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform demonstrates conspicuous waste by throwing a “sin tax party,” where guests can enjoy the spirits and foods being hit by higher taxes. An invitation to the 2012 party announced that guests could “celebrate finally paying off the burden of government by enjoying these extra-taxed goods that bear the strain of the growing Nanny State.”

Resentful of people who want to make people aware of the energy that we use, CEI asks people to leave all their lights burning during the “Earth Hour,” 60 minutes when many people turn off all electricity. CEI calls its waste, “Human Achievement Hour.”

Trying to show their power over everyone else, ammosexuals use “open carry” laws to carry as many of their biggest and baddest assault rifles in as many open spaces as possible.

Coal Roll bicycleNot satisfied with just causing fear and chaos, a group of truck owners have a new “game”—a way to retrofit a diesel truck so that it requires more fuel. As one person who sells the stack kits to do this said, “I run into a lot of people who really don’t like Obama at all. If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

coal rollingThe “rolling coal” trucks can be easily identified by the “Prius Repellant” decals that most of them sport. At a cost of $1,000 to $5,000, truck owners can add smoke stacks and switches—maybe even revamp the entire fuel system. High school senior Ryan explained why he does it:

  “If someone makes you mad, you can just roll coal, and it makes you feel better sometimes. The other day I did it to this kid who was driving a Mustang with his windows down, and it was awesome.”

So the reason is to upset someone else. Who cares that these pollutants cause 21,000 premature deaths every year and cancer at seven times more than the combined risk of all other 181 other air toxics.

Norfolk, Nebraska, a small town in the northern central part of the state, openly showed off its vicious bigotry during the Fourth of July parade with a float depicting a zombie-like statue of President Obama in front of an outhouse. For those who might not get the point, the building was labeled “Obama Presidential Library.” The mostly white audience cheered and pointed at it.

outhouse

Mayor Susan Fuchtman tried to disavow any connection with the parade on the town’s public streets when she claimed it was put together by the Odd Fellows Lodge. Defenders called it “political satire,” and parade emcee Wally Sonnenschein said it wasn’t meant to be racist. The float won honorable mention.  The Odd Fellows has been active in the United States for almost two centuries. Its home page for the Odd Fellows organization states that “Friendship, Love and Truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives.”

Parade committee member Rick Konopasek said that the outhouse float was the most popular one in the parade. “It’s obvious the majority of the community liked it. So should we deny the 95% of those that liked it their rights, just for the 5% of people who are upset?”

The hatred of many conservatives for the undocumented children caught at the Texas border and shipped to Arizona and California is another mark of the deep schism within the U.S. Screaming “USA! USA! USA!” angry white people pounded on buses with Latino children and even spit in the faces of Hispanics in the crowd. At Murrieta (CA), protesters forced bus drivers to go to another facility in the state. Fox network and other conservative sources have inflamed the violence by reporting—with no basis—that the children are disease-ridden with scabies, measles, and tuberculosis.

Many of the children are actually refugees, fleeing gang violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In demanding that all the children be immediately sent home, conservative networks and Internet sites ignore—or are ignorant of—a law passed during George W. Bush’s second term. Large bipartisan majorities passed the law in 2008 to protect young victims of sex trafficking and slavery. According to this law, children from countries that do not border the U.S. must be placed with family members or with foster families while waiting for deportation hearings. That process can take two or three years.

In her Christian/nationalist fervor, conservative Christian Holly Fisher celebrated the Hobby Lobby decision by posing with a pro-life t-shirt, and Chick-fil-a cup outside one of the stores. Evidently the image wasn’t strong enough for her so she added guns, Bible, and U.S. flag. This iconic image of fundamentalism is startlingly similar to one from the other side of the world. Even the crooked smiles are the same on the two women clutching their religious books and similar rifles in front of their flags.

Holly fisher

These actions reflect characteristics of fascist regimes that use patriotic and religious symbols to show how dedicated they are to a religiously-based government.  At the same time, fascists have great disdain for human rights, scapegoating liberals and racial, ethnic, or religious minorities who conservatives consider enemies. Fascists believe in torture and long prisoner incarceration while providing a disproportionately high percentage of federal funding for their military. Because fascist countries are male-dominated, gender roles are more rigid, and women’s rights are suppressed. And because they rule by fear, fascists protect corporate power that gives government leaders their positions. Rulers of fascist regimes suppress labor, indulge in rampant cronyism and corruption, and reject education and the arts.

Fraudulent laws in fascist countries suppress the right to vote as evidenced throughout the U.S. Recent Supreme Court rulings have monetized the electoral process and promoted state religion. Almost 80 years ago, Sinclair Lewis wrote, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” We’re almost there.

July 8, 2014

SCOTUS Makes Hobby Lobby Worse

Crazy is the best word to describe last week. During the same week the country celebrated the Fourth of July with noisy fireworks and smoky barbecue grills, five U.S. Supreme Court justices signed away religious rights for a majority of people in the United States. The fourth day of July is an annual commemoration of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, a document that delineates the freedoms of people in the nation. The First Amendment separates church and state, declaring that people have freedom of religion among other rights.

On June 30—last week—the five justices gave corporations religious rights by ruling in favor of a privately-held corporation called Hobby Lobby. The decision gives the owners the ability to determine how doctors can provide medical attention to the company’s women employees. Using their personal religious beliefs, Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, objected to two medications, Plan B and Ella, and two different contraceptive IUDs because they have the mistaken belief that these produce abortions.

In fact, an abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. These medications and one IUD actually stop ovulation. There is no death of an embryo because there is no embryo. Trillions of fertilized eggs don’t turn into pregnancies because this requires a women’s uterus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists filed an amicus brief that stated, “There is no scientific evidence that emergency contraceptives available in the United States and approved by the FDA affect an existing pregnancy.” The other IUD keeps the fertilized egg from being implanted in the uterus.

The five conservative justices were very clear, however, that this information didn’t matter because it was Hobby Lobby’s “belief” that was at stake. Thus the justices ruled that fact has no value in its decision

The Green family opposed only these four contraceptive methods, but the day after the initial ruling, the five justices gave the Greens another gift. A week ago today, the five justices said the ruling covered all 20 forms of contraception protected through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

That’s not all that Hobby Lobby got from the five justices. The Greens also objected to insurance plans covering “related education and counseling” for contraception. It’s possible that the ruling blocks women from consulting with their doctors about birth control. Although this seems impossible, Kansas already has a state law controlling the information that doctors can give female patients. This would be the beginning of federal control over doctor-patient discussions.

If insurance doesn’t pay for doctors’ appointments that discuss contraception, then the general visit might not be covered by health insurance if women discuss contraception. Without a prescription, women cannot get contraception—which isn’t just a few dollars and certainly not available at the 7-Eleven where Cardinal Timothy Dolan thinks women get their contraceptive medication.

The Supreme Court can make all women in the United States subject to the same Global Gag Rule for nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. assistance. They cannot use separately obtained non-U.S. funds to inform the public or educate their government on the need to make safe abortion available, provide legal abortion services, or provide advice on where to get an abortion. This restriction on freedom of speech harms the health and lives of women who have less access to family planning services and does not reduce abortion.

Whether the Supreme Court imposed a “U.S. Gag Rule” on women is not clear yet. Their ruling is that Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to pay for medical treatments they find “religiously intolerable.” It’s possible Hobby Lobby may decide that a woman talking to her doctor about contraception is “religiously intolerable.” They may decide that their workers’ receiving contraception from the government is also “religiously intolerable.” Other church-based organizations such as Notre Dame have refused federal accommodation and continue with their lawsuits.

The five justices weren’t finished after that Tuesday decision. On Thursday, they told Wheaton College, a Catholic-based school in Illinois, that they didn’t even have to fill out paperwork to be relieved from providing contraception through its insurance. Without any paperwork from their employer, the school’s female workers may not be able to obtain any contraception from the government, an arrangement that the government had made with religious institutions who didn’t want to provide contraception.

The ruling is not final. It grants an injunction while the Wheaton case moves through lower courts. The basis, however, is that employers’ anti-contraception rights trump workers’ First Amendment freedom of religion rights. Employees lose.

In its original Hobby Lobby decision, the five judges ruled that workers could go to the government. Then they took away that ability to get government relief. The Obama administration had accommodated religiously-identified non-profits by arranging with insurance companies to directly pay coverage instead of through the religious groups. All those organizations had to do was to complete a form certifying the objection. At least 122 non-profits have sued, purporting that signing the opt-out form violates their religious liberty.

Joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent to the Wheaton ruling:

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today.

“After expressly relying on the availability of the religious-nonprofit accommodation to hold that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] as applied to closely held for-profit corporations, the Court now, as the dissent in Hobby Lobby feared it might, retreats from that position.”

In short, the dissent states that the justices who provided the first Hobby Lobby ruling are dishonest. The highest court in the land that relies on the trust of the public has now lost that trust. Sotomayor wrote that the court’s action “undermines confidence in this institution” and that the public has reason to mistrust the highest level of legal arbiters in the nation. Hobby Lobby may be the tipping point of evidence that the majority of SCOTUS conservative activist justices are so ideological that they cannot be trusted. This follows earlier unconstitutional decisions:

A Rasmussen survey found that 61 percent of the public believe that the justices’ decisions are based on their personal ideological agendas rather than facts and constitutional issues. Last week, they seemed to determine the finding based on their ideology and then flipped the decision for another ruling, again following ideology.

On Monday, Justice Samuel Alito, speaking for the five-member conservative majority, said the ACA’s contraception policy created a “substantial burden” on religious corporations and officials must rely on the “least restrictive” approach to achieving policymakers’ goal. He cited the paperwork compromise process as the “least restrictive” path. Alito said that this policy “achieves all of the government’s aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty.”

Three days later, he joined the other conservative justices in changing their minds about completing the paperwork by granting Wheaton the extremely rare emergency relief, ruling against their Monday ruling. As Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West put it, “Overnight, the cure has become the disease. Having explicitly promised that Hobby Lobby would go no further than Hobby Lobby, the court went back on its word, then skipped town for the summer.”

The justices may be gone until October, but the outrage remains.  Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) plan to introduce a bill this week to override the Hobby Lobby decision. It would stop companies from discriminating against female employees in any health coverage guaranteed under federal law. The measure will also state that no federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that SCOTUS used to justify its decision, permits employers to refuse to comply with the health care law’s preventive services requirement. Chief Justice John Roberts suggested during Hobby Lobby’s oral arguments that Congress could exempt the ACA from RFRA. Three representatives will introduce an identical bill in the House. The bills will provide the same exemption for religious nonprofits and houses of worship that the ACA currently has.

I realize that the GOP will block the bills in any way that they can, but at least they will have to declare their opposition to women’s rights.

July 3, 2014

Walmart Thinks ‘Work Makes Free’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:56 PM
Tags: , ,

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/07/03/walmart-selling-nazi-propaganda-as-inspirational-poster/    Walmart has discriminated against women, stolen money from workers, and starved people with its penury wages. Now it’s gone over the edge with a new “inspirational poster.” The message? “Arbeit Macht Frei.” To people who don’t speak German or didn’t follow the concentration camps of the Holocaust, this means “Work Makes Free.”

arbeitmachtfrei-070214 The poster features gate of a Nazi concentration camp, Dachau, that has the slogan embedded into the iron work. Card-carrying, Swastika-wearing, Aryan-nation, hate-mongering right-wing terrorists will love the poster. They can get it for $42.75. The description reads “Gate with inscription Arbeit Macht Frei, Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau” and mentions that the poster “would make a great addition to your home or office.”

dachau

Before the Jewish people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, LGBT people, and immigrants were first to be imprisoned and exterminated at Dachau after Germany enacted the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. In the first months after Hitler came to power, racial and religious discrimination laws were enshrined into national policy.

More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at Dachau between 1933 and 1945. Another 36,000 people were incinerated in the camp’s crematorium. Dachau served as a prototype and model for the other Nazi concentration camps that followed.

Walmart didn’t seem concerned when a customer complained. The company responded:

“We have this product in stock because there are some customer [sic] who like to buy this type of item, but this doesn’t mean [Walmart] are supporting any ideology related to this item.”

The PR problem became obvious, and the company changed to a message that began with “we were horrified.”

They should have kept the poster: it’s Walmart’s “motto.”

July 2, 2014

GOP Suffers from Plagiarism, Schism, Doubletalk

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:30 PM
Tags: , , ,

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has decided to save money by copying fundraising communications from The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The GOP group did this at least three times last week, according to Business Insider. Republicans used not only complete phrasing but also style and font color on key words, going beyond Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) plagiarizing techniques.

DCCC email on June 27:

“This week has been absolutely off the charts!

Wednesday: President Obama emailed you a call to action to fight Republican attacks.

Moments later: Boehner announced he’s suing President Obama.

Then: something truly incredible happened. Over 43,384 people donated to defeat Boehner’s Tea Party Republicans.

Now we’re within striking distance.”

NRSC email after DCCC email:

“This has been a record-setting week!

Yesterday: Senator Mitch McConnell emailed you a call to action to stand up to President Obama’s abuse of power.

Moments later: The Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY reminded President Obama that he isn’t a king and overturned his decisions.

Then: Something incredible happened. Thousands of you donated to defeat the Democrats’ failed agenda – giving conservatives the power to stay on offense.  Let’s keep it going!

Now we’re within striking distance.”

The rest of the NRSC email also closely matches its DCCC counterpart and both use a green highlight to draw attention to the fact the contribution will be “triple-matched.” The Democratic message was signed “Democratic Headquarters” and the GOP one was signed “Republican Headquarters.”

[Interesting that the NRSC didn’t want to be specific about those “thousands”!]

DCCC email sent the following Sunday:

“Sadly, we still haven’t heard from you. The Midyear Fundraising Deadline is tomorrow. If we don’t hit our $2 million grassroots goal by tomorrow at midnight, our fight to win a Democratic House in November will be cut off at the knees. Friends–we simply can’t win if we’re getting outspent 3-to-1 by Republican outside groups. Will you step up before it’s too late?”

NRSC email a day later:

“Unfortunately, we still haven’t heard from you. Our midyear fundraising deadline is at midnight tonight. If we don’t hit our fundraising goals, our ability to win a Senate Republican Majority will be severely jeopardized. We simply can’t win, if we’re getting outspent 5-to-1 by Democratic organizations. Can we count on you to step up, before it’s too late?”

Both messages used the same, light-blue highlight text for the “triple-match” language this time.

NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring:

“The copy and subject matter of the emails is entirely different, but one could certainly make the case that they parody the hyperbolic and sensationalistic language used by the left; or as the kids these days are calling it, ‘trolling.'”

DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin:

“They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so we’ll just take this as a compliment.”

The article shows three similar emails from the two groups.

Desperation on the part of the GOP? Or incompetence? Or just poorly-paid workers? It’s all very curious. It does, however, follow the pattern of GOP politicians twisting Dems words in efforts to look compassionate, understanding, and populist. Their actions speak so loudly ….

A prime example of doubletalk comes from Kentucky’s senator, Rand Paul, who said about the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights of 1964:

“It is simply unimaginable to think what modern America would be like if not for the brave men and women who stood up for the rights of all Americans. This legislation changed the future of our nation by enforcing the belief that all men and women are created equal. We must continue to build an America that our children-of every race, creed and color-deserve.”

He continued by claiming that “you’ll find nobody in Congress doing more for minority rights than me right now–Republican or Democrat.”

Reality, however, belies his words. He conceded in his 2010 campaign that he disagrees with parts of the Civil Rights Act because businesses should have the right to ban anyone who they want. He has also criticized the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. He refused to sign on as a co-sponsor to protect minority voting rights. He opposes marriage equality. When he published a book, he co-wrote it with a neo-Confederate who celebrates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin; then Paul hired him for his Senate staff.

The NRSC also suffers from a wide schism. Backed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Senate Conservatives Fund is asking conservatives to not donate to the NRSC because of Mississippi’s runoff for U.S. Senate. The NRSC supported Sen. Thad Cochran while the SCF and other outside groups backed the neo-Confederate challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The losing candidate and his supporters are furious that Cochran won, especially after he asked for support from black (aka Democratic) voters.

Cruz still serves as vice-chairman for the NRSC grass-roots outreach and previously pledged not to work to oust any GOP senatorial incumbent. Recently, he appeared on a SCF television ad to support T.W. Shannon as candidate for Sen. Tom Coburn’s senate seat from Oklahoma.  Shannon lost. Last October, the SCF endorsed Matt Bevin in his race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bevin lost. Cruz has not yet responded to questions about whether he will disavow the SCF’s effort to defund the NRSC.

SCF president Ken Cuccinelli lost his bid for Virginia governor. In a message to SCF, he wrote:

“Majority-Leader-Wannabe Mitch McConnell, NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran, and the others who supported Thad Cochran’s disgraceful attacks on Chris McDaniel are part of the problem. These politicians don’t believe in the principles of freedom that make America great. Their ideology is power and they will do anything to keep it.”

In mid-June, Reince Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee, said on CBS’s Face the Nation that the Republican Party is not at all divided. A new study shows strong differences within the GOP in social issues, Wall Street and business, immigrant reform, the role of government, etc. Priebus might want to reconsider his statement.

« Previous PageNext Page »

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: