Friday, March 20, 2015

Send help: Republican staffers buried under avalanche of God-fearing chicken sandwiches

Do you remember back when Chick-fil-A's very godly and conservative CEO defended the chain's big donations to anti-marriage-equality groups by declaring that same-sex marriage was "inviting God's judgment" on America? In the halls of Congress, it has turned Chick-fil-A into the official Republican junk food.

Since [CEO Dan Cathy] made his controversial comments, House Republicans have spent nearly $13,000 in taxpayer money ordering Chick-fil-A, according to expenditure reports filed through July 2014 (the latest available). READ MORE

The Pentagon Admits It May Have Lost $500 Million in U.S. Weaponry To Al-Qaeda

Ever wonder where your where your tax money goes?:
The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials. With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the United States....[.]
In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands. 

The tragicomedy of the apparent loss of these weapons has shined a light on our counterterrorism policy in now-collapsing Yemen, a subject few in our media care about, judging from the lack of coverage compared to, for example, burning questions about Hillary Clinton's email server.  Our supposedly representative Congress held "closed-door" meetings with DOD officials last week, asking the Pentagon to account for all of this hardware. The Pentagon brass essentially shrugged its shoulders:
“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said a legislative aide on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Here's what's gone missing in Yemen, presumed lost and irretrievable: READ MORE

The phenomenon that can not be spoken in Florida continues as salt water intrusion moves inland

sewer water overflow
The densely populated megalopolis of South Florida is losing it's water wells as sea water intrudes into the Biscayne Aquifer. Salt water has already moved 6 miles inland in Broward County and is likely to continue to creep westward. Ninety percent of South Florida gets its drinking water from underground supplies, most from the Biscayne aquifer. This inland movement observed in Broward County is due to urban withdrawals from the Biscayne Aquifer, ocean water moving sideways into the aquifer and seepage of saltwater from surface sources.

Governor Scott, this is threatening the habitability of a region of close to 6 million of your fellow Floridians. Your inaction and hostility towards climate issues and sustainability now threatens funds and other aid from FEMA as they will not give money to any state that does not plan for climate change. Where is the disaster relief going to come from if not from Federal sources?

A report titled Climate Change AND Sea-Level Rise IN Florida notes the hellish calamity that will affect Florida's urban populations, economy, ecosystems and coasts.
What we know.
Florida‘s Biscayne Aquifer, the principal water supply to southeastern Florida and the Florida Keys, is recharged by rainfall and the freshwater Everglades. Surficial coastal aquifers are already experiencing saltwater intrusion. Rising sea level will increase the hydraulic backpressure on coastal aquifers, reduce groundwater flow toward the ocean, and cause the saltwater front to move inland, thus threatening to contaminate water-supply wells in coastal areas with seawater. In the low-lying southernmost Everglades, sea-level rise will cause brackish waters to encroach farther

The Pensacola Bay and St. Johns River watersheds and southern Florida from Palm Beach to Miami, the Florida Keys, Naples, and Fort Myers are especially vulnerable to saltwater intrusion into municipal freshwater supplies as sea levels rise (Dausman and Langevin, 2005; Freed et al., 2005; Murley et al., 2008).

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan’s main purpose is to increase freshwater flow to the southern Everglades. This will help offset the effect of sea-level rise and help preserve Everglades ecologies and southern Florida’s water supply (South Florida Water Management District, 2009a). The South Florida Water Management District already spends millions of dollars per year to prevent Miami’s Biscayne Aquifer from becoming brackish (Miller et al., 1989). Rising sea level will cause groundwater near the coast to become more saline and groundwater levels to increase.
What is Probable. READ MORE

Just how strong are the GOP's gerrymanders? Daily Kos Elections' median district scores explain

In 2010, as Daily Kos readers are well aware, Republican swept to victory in Congress, taking back the House and making big gains in the Senate. At the same time, they also captured many governorships and legislatures, giving them control of the decennial redistricting process. With the map-maker's pencil firmly in hand, these new GOP majorities were able to draw district lines that favored them both at the congressional and legislative levels.

Scholars and pundits have debated exactly how much these maps are tilted in the Republicans' favor, but at Daily Kos Elections, we've developed one metric that's methodologically rigorous and highly illustrative of the GOP's advantage, relying on the "median seat" in each legislative chamber or state congressional delegation. The numbers, as we will explain, are starkly in favor of the Republicans.
Previously, we calculated the results of the 2012 presidential election according to every congressional and legislative district in the nation. That allows us to determine every state's median congressional district and every chamber's median legislative seat. But what do we mean by this median seat? In state legislatures, the median seat is the theoretical halfway point in each chamber whereby, if Democrats held every seat bluer (or Republicans held every seat redder), they'd control a majority of seats in that body.

For instance, in Ohio's state House, Mitt Romney won the median seat by a 51.3 to 47.6 margin. That means that if Democrats want to retake the House under the current map, they'd need to win all the districts that suported Romney by a 3.7 percent margin or less—at a minimum. Things rarely work out so precisely, though: Since Republicans are likely to hold a few seats that are bluer than this threshold, Democrats would have to capture a some redder seats as well. That's no easy task.

Jon Stewart Asks When Fox Is Going To Hold Themselves Accountable For Their Anger And Divisiveness

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart took a whack at Fox "news" for the double standard when it comes to their screaming for accountability on Ferguson while refusing to hold themselves accountable for their Benghazi witch hunt.

Stewart Trashes Fox for Calling for Ferguson Apologies: Where’s Your Benghazi Apology?:
Stewart took note of how Fox touted only one of the two DOJ reports on Ferguson––the one that very clearly refuted “hands up, don’t shoot.”

And in the weeks since, Fox News has been questioning where all the apologies are for people who pushed that narrative. Stewart agreed, asking, “Wouldn’t it be nice if people who jumped to conclusions and peddled a false divisive anger-stoking narrative had to apologize for misleading America?” READ MORE

Thursday, March 19, 2015

President Obama forces Republican politicians to eat their own words

President Obama continues his new stride as he chides Republicans for their failed prognostications. Democratic politicians encouraged his silence during the 2014 elections. Imagine what could have been if Americans had realized they had something to vote for. Imagine if Americans had believed that those pushing a relatively progressive agenda believed in that agenda and was willing to fight for that agenda.

Back in January President Obama chided Republicans for their new found love for the American poor and the American middle class. On Wednesday he did more than that. He pointed out how off base Republican willful deceptive prognostication of his policies were.
Now, I want to return to the issue of the debate that we were having then because it bears on the debate we’re having now. It’s important to note that at every step that we've taken over the past six years we were told our goals were misguided; they were too ambitious; that my administration’s policies would crush jobs and explode deficits, and destroy the economy forever. Remember that? Because sometimes we don’t do the instant replay, we don’t run the tape back, and then we end up having the same argument going forward. READ MORE

SPLC: Arizona Shooting Suspect Is White Supremacist Skinhead

Earlier today a shooter went on a rampage in Mesa, Arizona, allegedly killing one man, injuring five others and stealing a car.
According to the SPLC, Ryan Giroux is a well-known member of hate groups in the area.
Ryan Giroux, who allegedly murdered one person and wounded five others earlier today and was arrested after a frenzied manhunt, was released from prison in Arizona in 2013. According to prison records, he has convictions for attempt to commit aggravated assault, marijuana, theft, and second degree burglary. Records indicate that he was sentenced to a total of about 14 years in prison.  READ MORE

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Poll shows Hillary Clinton dominating every Republican presidential candidate

A new CNN/ORC poll shows Hillary Clinton dominating the Republican field ... which pretty much explains the Republican obsession with Eghazi and Benghazi and any other eye-roller of an allegation they can come up with. In the poll's head-to-head match-ups, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes the closest to Clinton, but her 11-point lead over him, 54 percent to 43 percent, isn't what you'd call razor thin.

After Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio trails Clinton by a mere 13 points, 55 to 42, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is one more point back, drawing 41 percent to Clinton's steady 55 percent, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all poll 15 points behind Clinton, 55 to 40. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson also polls at 40 percent, but Clinton gains an extra point on him, rising to 56 percent. READ MORE

Tom Cotton's open letter to Iran hounds the GOP's most vulnerable senators back home

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte having second thoughts.
Four of the Republican's most vulnerable senators who decided to follow Sen. Tom Cotton into battle against the White House by addressing a letter to Iran's leaders are likely regretting that move. Among Cotton's 46 co-signers were Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Rob Portman of Ohio.

The letter, which was an effort to scuttle the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, is also having a nuclear effect back home.
In New Hampshire: A hometown editorial read, "Ayotte signs up for a dangerous political game."
"When Ayotte signed her name on that piece of paper, she cast her lot with a thoughtless brand of politics splintered from the thread of American diplomatic history. Time and future negotiations will reveal the damage done." --The Concord Monitor
In Wisconsin: A new poll found Ron Johnson sucking wind against for Sen. Russ Feingold.
Johnson, who rode the Republican tidal wave of 2010 to victory over longtime incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold, comes in at just 32% approval, making him one of the least popular senators in the country.

Feingold, meanwhile, is the most popular Wisconsin politician included in this poll with 46/35 favorability. He holds a healthy nine-point lead over Johnson in a hypothetical re- match of their 2010 race, 50/41. READ MORE

Good Obamacare news is driving Republicans insane

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the guy who wants President Obama to stop talking about the good stuff that has come with Obamacare has another "Shut up!!! Shut up!!!!" moment following Monday's announcement that the uninsured rate has dropped by 35 percent since the law was enacted, and 16.4 million people have gained insurance through the law. Nonsense, says Barrasso.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said: "Millions of people have lost coverage they liked, and out-of-pocket costs continue to rise. Coverage does not equal care."

Moreover, he said, the addition of people to the Medicaid rolls is "hardly worth celebrating."
"And argle bargle!"  READ MORE

Another '60 Minutes' hit job on Social Security

CBS News and 60 Minutes love carrying water for Republicans in their ongoing war on Social Security. In the fall of 2013, it was Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) attack on Social Security disability, in which the news magazine presented an entire segment without talking to one single disabled person or disability advocate and declared that the program was "a secret welfare system ... ravaged by waste and fraud." In that case, the program previewed sham report Coburn was releasing. This weekend, they did it again, previewing a Senate hearing on the Social Security Administration's massive database, the "Death Master File," touting the possibilities for fraud and abuse if someone was either incorrectly reported dead or the converse, died and didn't show up on the file.

The LA Times' indispensable Michael Hiltzik details all the things that reporter Scott Pelley and 60 Minutes bungled in this story, errors that were compounded in the Senate hearing it previewed. Among them the basic starting point that this isn't the fault of the Social Security Administration, at all.

Numerous studies by its own inspector general and the Government Accountability Office suggest that for the Social Security Administration to verify every report it receives of 2.8 million American deaths per year would be a Herculean job.

Why? Because those reports arrive from thousands of sources of varying reliability across the country--funeral directors, family members, banks, Medicare and Veterans Affairs offices, post offices. Social Security considers the most reliable source to be electronic death records from the states, but only 35 states submit these to the agency. […] READ MORE

Netanyahu Scores Crushing Victory In Israeli Elections

March 18, 2015
Times of Israel staff and AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party was the clear winner in Tuesday’s election, a near-final tally showed early Wednesday morning, defeating the Zionist Union by a margin of some six seats.

That margin was far more decisive than TV exit polls had predicted when polling booths closed at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. All three TV polls had put Likud and Zionist Union neck-and-neck at 27 seats, albeit with Netanyahu better-placed to form a coalition.

On the basis of those TV polls, Netanyahu hailed a Likud victory, though Herzog refused to concede. As counting proceeded through the night, however, the Likud opened a growing margin of victory.
By 5 a.m., with some 90% of votes counted, the Central Elections Committee was indicating a dramatic victory for Netanyahu, with the Likud heading for 29 seats, compared to Zionist Union’s 24 seats.

Next came the Joint (Arab) List on 14 seats, Yesh Atid on 11, Kulanu on 10 and the Jewish Home on 8. They were followed by Shas, 7, United Torah Judaism on 6, Yisrael Beytenu on 6, and Meretz on 5 seats.

Four hours earlier, at 1 a.m., Netanyahu claimed a victory “against all odds” and promised to form a new government without delay. But Herzog also said he would make “every effort” to build a coalition. Either will likely need the support of Moshe Kahlon of the Kulanu party, whose campaign focused almost entirely on bread-and-butter economic issues, refused to take sides, but he is a former Likud minister. READ MORE

RNC Requests Document They Know Hillary Didn't Sign To Stir Faux Scandal

Today's right-wing faux scandal: Hillary Clinton did not sign a document she was not required to sign. Not only was she not required to sign it, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and every other Secretary of State wasn't required to sign it either. Nor did they.

This did not prevent the Republican National Committee from playing some politics with it, and using their very own propaganda channel to amplify it.

You can look at form OF-109 -- the form they requested -- here. It is a form for rank-and-file employees to sign upon termination, agreeing to turn over all classified and unclassified materials to the department which employed them. Here's something you should notice if you look at the form carefully:
officials versus employees here.

Yes, you're reading that right. The "OF" on the form designation stands for optional form. Optional. That means it is not in any way, shape or form a required form from anyone, much less a cabinet level officer of the government. TPM has a good discussion post about requirements of appointed officials versus employees here.

Jeb Bush Wants To Eliminate Minimum Wage: 'Leave It To The Private Sector'

Former Florida Governor and potential GOP 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush wants a race to the bottom on wages in America. We already know what happens when we "leave matters to the private sector."
Jeb Bush Calls For The Elimination Of The Federal Minimum Wage:

At an event in South Carolina on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was asked whether he thinks the country should raise the minimum wage or whether the wage should be left up to private companies.

“We need to leave it to the private sector,” he responded. “I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this.” He went on, “The federal government doing this will make it harder and harder for the first rung of the ladder to be reached, particularly for young people, particularly for people that have less education.”

He went on to connect his opposition to a federal minimum wage to his focus on income inequality. “We’re moving to a world that is sticky in the ends, where it’s harder for people in poverty to move up and where the rich are doing really well and the middle is getting squeezed,” he said. “And any idea that makes, that perpetuates that is one that I would oppose, and I think this minimum wage idea is exactly one of those things.” He added that the people at the bottom “would be likely the ones that would lose their job. That’s how it’s always worked.” READ MORE

Pap and Thom Hartmann: Corporate Media Ignoring The REAL Email Scandal

March 18th, 2015

America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio, appears on The Thom Hartmann Program to discuss the evolving Jeb Bush email scandal.  FROM THE SITE RINGOFFIRE.COM

Original here

Ohio police shoot unarmed black mother and infant

Some stories make national headlines, but many do not. One of those that was swept under the rug and ignored by almost all of the national mainstream media, was the shooting of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson and her 14-month-old infant child. Now, community activists are calling for this case to be reexamined and brought into the national spotlight on police brutality and extrajudicial killings.

“This thing just stinks to high heaven, and the police know it,” Jason Upthegrove, the president of the Lima chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. said. “We’re not asking for answers anymore. We’re demanding them.”

That was 7 years ago to the month. No answers ever came, in spite of the demands. So much of the corporate media ignored this blatant story of police abuse and murder. But with many high profile cases like those of Crawford and Rice at the tip of the nation’s collective tongue, some believe that maybe now the rest of the country will listen about this assassination that was carried out by Ohio police officers.

Back in 2008, a SWAT team showed up at Wilson’s house in Lima, Ohio’s Southside neighborhood. It was early in the evening on January 4th. The warrant the SWAT cops had was part of the failed so-called “War on Drugs.”

But it was not Wilson who was named on the warrant, it was her companion Anthony Terry. Without any warning, officers smashed her door down and entered with machine guns drawn, according to neighbors who witnessed the raid.

In just seconds, SWAT officers shot and killed Wilson, 26, and wounded her 14-month-old son.

Black History |The Slave Trade | Conditions on Slave Ships

How the slaves were “packed”

There are two ways for the captains to load their boats with slaves. One system is called loose packing to deliver slaves. Under that system, captains transported fewer slaves than their ships could carry in order to reduce the disease and deaths among them. The other system is the cruelest one and is called tight packing. This system was based on the fact that the more slaves they had, the more profit they could make. They carried as many slaves as their ship could carry, and often more. In the ship’s hold, the slaves were chained ankle to wrist, with barely any place to move.

In the worse case, the captains did not provide any kinds of hygiene. In other boats, the captains placed buckets for the slaves’ excrements, but there was never one bucket per slave. Slaves who were close to the buckets used it but those who were farther away often tumbled and fell on others while trying to reach it. Severely hindered by the shackles that were tightly secured around their ankles, most slaves preferred to ease themselves where they were rather than to bruise themselves in the process of trying to reach it. Also, some sailors would be ordered to go below deck to wash the slaves briefly. Although the crew avoided the slaves, they often would call a woman on deck to satisfy their desires. When weather conditions were bad, the conditions of the quarters dramatically worsened. The slaves’ holding quarters were so hot and humid that the floor of their rooms was covered with layers of filth during most of the voyage. READ MORE

BlackHistory: #AmeriKKKa Selling humans for profit

America has committed crimes beyond description against black people, caused destruction of families and untold sufferings.
Value of Slaves 1834- Perry County Missouri


Black History | Slave Auction Block

As in any mercantile system, slave agents recorded, insured, advertised, displayed, and finally, sold their “wares” to the highest bidders. To prepare for sales, dealers fed, cleaned, and oiled down slaves to hide disease and to improve appearance. Sales took place on ship decks, in slave pens, by preset contract, or at auction. On the auction block, potential buyers examined every part of these men and women’s anatomy. Healthy young men usually sold first and for the highest value.
Printed advertisements for the sale of slaves were posted to attract buyers and often provided descriptions of available “merchandise.”

The Separation of Families

Yet Southern dealers and plantation owners defended their practices, claiming that separations of families were rare and that when they did occur, there was little hardship. South Carolinian Chancellor Harper argued that blacks lacked any capability for domestic affection and showed, “insensibility to ties of kindred.” In other words, African-Americans really didn’t mind being bought and sold since they were naturally promiscuous and lacked the ability to achieve stable family life. This, of course, was simply paternalistic racism.

How many slaves were sold away from their families?  READ MORE

9/11 evidence to go public in Danish and UK courts

Expert witnesses to the ‘terror’ events at the World
Trade Center in 2001 prepare to appear for the first
time at the Danish High Court
Expert witnesses on the events of 9/11 in 2001 which triggered the global “War on Terror” are set to give evidence in public for the first time in a Danish court with testimony which casts doubt on the official narrative of what is probably the most significant global event in post-WWII history.

The two witnesses are expected to give evidence which expresses widely shared doubts about the official explanation of the three building collapses in New York in 2001 – especially the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, which received comparatively little attention in the global mainstream media.

The pair will give evidence at the Danish High Court in Copenhagen on Thursday as part of a case brought by Dr. Niels Harrit, who is appealing against the outcome of a libel suit he brought against journalist Søren Villemoes and Danish newspaper Weekendavisen.

The court case is regarded as significant by legal and other observers as one of the witnesses, Jan Utzon, is a world-renowned architect and member of AE911Truth, an organization of more than 2,300 architects and engineers who question the official story of the 9/11 events.

Another is Dr. Per Hedegård, a physics professor from the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, who was initially a critic of Harrit’s claims that the highly advanced explosive nano-thermite was present in the dust present in the aftermath of the 9/11 events in the U.S., but has reversed his position and is appearing in court to support Dr. Harrit.  READ MORE

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wall Street Whiz Kid Actually Just Fraudster With Bad Taste

Would-Be Financial Whiz Is Charged
With Stealing From Investors
Thirty-three-year-old Mark Malik convinced investors and hedge-fund ranking firms like Bloomberg LP that he was a successful Wall Street tycoon with $100 million in assets. In actuality, he was a former waiter and New York City traffic cop who didn't attend college and allegedly spent investors' money on knickknacks at the Statue of Liberty Gift Shop. Oops!

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mark Malik is being held at the Tombs on a $1 million bail bond on charges of securities fraud. The SEC claims he stole over $700,000 from unwitting investors and never actually made any returns on it, instead using the money to finance a lifestyle that included trips to the Statue of Liberty and a $49.99 subscription to a Muslim dating site. READ MORE

Netanyahu Clarifies His Chilling Vision for Post-Democratic Israel

 Israeli Prime Minister and Likud party's candidate
running for general elections, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
March 17, 2015 9:53 a.m.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild swerve, from right-wing to ultra-right-wing, in the run-up to Israel’s elections is a desperate tactic to reverse the trajectory of his flailing campaign. But it also represents an important marker in his career, and a clarifying moment in the course of the Israeli right.
Netanyahu has generally played a coy game on Palestinian statehood. He has supported the two-state solution in theory but abjured it in practice. His settlement policy has, likely by design, made negotiations impossible, which has seemed to produce his ideal result: Israel holds on to the West Bank and Netanyahu can blame the Palestinians for it. His new line dispenses with the coyness. 

Netanyahu now opposes yielding territory, full stop. If Netanyahu prevails, the nature of Israel's diplomatic alliance with the United States will have to change — the U.S. cannot continue to extend its U.N. veto to a country whose government has formally disavowed negotiations.

His comments today are more alarming still. Rallying his supporters to the polls, Netanyahu warns, “Arab voters are going to the polls in droves. Left-wing organizations are bringing them in buses.” Of course, the availability of Arab voting rights is a longtime point of Israeli pride, a fundamental defense of the principle of Zionism against its existential critics. READ MORE

The Daily Show takes a look at our "meth labs of Democracy"

The Daily Show takes a look at our "meth labs of Democracy" and these so-called "religious freedom" laws which, as host Jon Stewart noted, are designed to protect the "real victims of discrimination" -- Christian florists.

First up was Georgia, which they discussed at Kos here: Georgia's horrific religious 'freedom' bill and why it should worry everyone, not just gays:

Add Georgia—with Republicans in control of both legislative chambers and the executive—to the list of GOP-led states trying to pass a bill that will expand religious "freedom" at the expense of just about every marginalized group in the country.

These bills, typically called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), have flourished recently as a backlash to the success of the marriage equality movement. But the Georgia bill's breathtaking breadth shows why this expansion of religious "freedom"—very much playing off the Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby last year—will turn into a license to discriminate against anyone (not just LGBT Americans) on the basis of one's religious beliefs. [...] READ MORE

Thanks To Tehran Tom, Iran Expresses Concern About US Commitment To Agreements

Thanks to Tom Cotton and his paranoid style of tomfoolery, Iran now has more leverage than they did the day before he tried to tank the talks altogether.
Washington Post reports:
Iranian negotiators meeting with U.S. officials Monday expressed concern over a letter from Senate Republicans warning that a nuclear deal with President Obama might not outlast his time in office.

A senior administration official said the Iranians broached the subject in the almost five hours of discussions led by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The letter also was raised in meetings Sunday between political and technical experts, the official said.

Iranian and U.S. officials have been critical of the open letter addressed to Iran’s leaders. It was written by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and signed by 46 other Republican senators. Kerry has said its claims that Congress can modify an executive agreement are inaccurate. He also has said that its predictions of a short shelf life for a nuclear deal with Iran undermine his diplomatic efforts.
Rolling Stone underscores why I and thousands of others believe we need a more robust response than a scolding. READ MORE

Monday, March 16, 2015

Disgraced judge and prosecutor Ronald Brockmeyer has resigned in majority of his Ferguson roles

A city council member raised concerns about Brockmeyer three years ago, saying he didn't listen to testimony, review reports, or allow witnesses to testify, and suggested that Brockmeyer not be reappointed. Shaw acknowledged Brockmeyer's work had issues, but said, “It goes without saying the city cannot afford to lose any efficiency in our courts, nor experience any decrease in our fines and forfeitures,” Shaw said.
The word has been out on James Shaw for years, but he truly made Ferguson and its surrounding towns so much money that it was an offer they couldn't refuse. In addition to being the lone municipal judge in Ferguson, Ronald Brockmeyer was paid separately to serve as a judge and prosecutor in four other municipalities, including lead prosecutor for Florissant, municipal prosecutor for Vinita Park, municipal prosecutor for Dellwood, and municipal judge for Breckenridge Hills

The jig is up, though. READ MORE

A Tale of Three States: California, Kansas, and Florida

Robert Reich recently pointed out that if you listen to rightwing groups like the Tax Foundation, you would think California is a horrible place for business. These groups rank it in the top 10 worst due to "high cost" and "burdensome environmental regulations".  However, these same groups rank Sam Brownback's Kansas as one of the best.

Here's the problem with that:

Kansas is collapsing.  In four short years, since the tea party takeover, Kansas has had three credit downgrades along with a billion-dollar budget deficit.  They are struggling to fund basic services and their education system is hanging on by a thread, with cutbacks making it almost dead last in teacher quality, pay, student spending and pupil-teacher ratio.  It's so bad that REPUBLICAN state Sen. Wint Winter Jr. said Brownback's tax cuts have been a "train wreck".

Yet while the Sunflower state is falling apart, the Eureka State is CRUSHING it.

By any metric you use, California has become the best state in the union for investors.  A great Democratic governor (Jerry Brown) and a Democratic-led legislature turned California around in four short years from a 27 billion dollar deficit disaster into a surplus and, according to Bloomberg, an absolute mecca for corporations!  California companies in the S&P 500 have delivered returns of 134 percent!  (No other state comes close.) These same companies outperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 23%; and CA tech company sales account for 52% of all the tech sales in America.
So how can California have some of the highest business taxes and regulations in America, and yet be the most successful?  The answer is simple.  California invested in itself! READ MORE

World Leaders Condemn Acts By Paul, Rubio & 47 'Traitors' Who Sent Letter To Iran - Petition Soars

The Traitorous 47
Highly sensitive weapons negotiations between seven nations, including the U.S., China, Russia, France, UK, Germany, and Iran have been compromised this past week by what some call a treasonous letter written to Iran by 47 U.S. Republican lawmakers.

This act has caused outrage nationwide against the signees of the letter. Two of the names contained in the message are 2016 Republican presidential candidates Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Marco Rubio. After condemnation came from the American people, President Obama, Democrats and even Republicans, world leaders/officials are now expressing their shock and disgust.
Karen De Young with the Washington Post relays some of the quotesin her article. Here is one:
“Suddenly, Iran can say to us: ‘Are your proposals actually trustworthy if 47 senators say that no matter what the government agrees to, we can subsequently take it off the table?’ ” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a visit to Washington.
De Young continues: READ MORE

Tom Cotton Seems Confused About The Basic Geography Of Iran

Screenshot of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) on Face the
Nation Sunday, March 15.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) stood by his decision Sunday to send a letter on a burgeoning nuclear deal directly to Iranian leaders. He insisted on Face the Nation that “Iran’s leaders need to hear the message loud and clear” that an Obama-brokered deal might not last past the end of his administration without congressional approval, despite a stern letter from the White House Sunday night urging senators to hold off on congressional intervention.

But when asked by Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer what better outcome Cotton expects if a White House-led deal falls through, Cotton seemed to make a key geographic mistake, suggesting that Tehran, the capital of Iran, might be controlled by anyone other than Iranian leaders:
Schieffer: What do you want to happen here? What is your alternative here? Let’s say that the deal falls through, then what?
Cotton: Well as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, the alternative to a bad deal is a better deal. The Iranians frequently bluff to walk away from the table. if they bluff this week, call their bluff. The Congress stands ready to impose much more severe sanctions. Moreover we have to stand up to Iran’s attempts to drive for regional dominance. They already control Tehran increasingly they control Damascus and Beirut and Baghdad and now Sana’a as well. They do all that without a nuclear weapon. imagine what they would do with a nuclear weapon. READ MORE

Ted Cruz Makes Impassioned Plea For Repeal Of Federal Legislation That Does Not Exist

Could he be... you know: Stupid?
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is known for waging political battles even if the odds of success are slim. He famously launched a 21-hour filibuster in a failed, last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare. But his latest crusade may be his biggest challenge yet: repealing a federal law that does not exist.
On Twitter, Cruz blasted the federal government role in education and called for the repeal of Common Core:

Can Cruz “make DC listen”? It will be particularly hard since Common Core is not, in fact, a federal law.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, known as Common Core, was developed by the states — with input from teachers, education experts and business leaders — and has been voluntarily adopted by 43 states and the District Of Columbia. Notably, “the federal government played no role in creating the standards, nor did it require that states adopt them.” READ MORE

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Firearms have no place in sexual assault battle

Ten state legislatures are considering legislation to permit concealed firearms on college campuses. Supporters argue that firearms, especially in the hands of women, give potential victims of sexual assault the power necessary to prevent or stop a sexual assault. “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” Michele Fiore, a Republican assemblywoman in Nevada, told the New York Times.

While the Editorial Board is wholeheartedly committed to preventing sexual assault on college campuses, we believe that this proposed legislation will do more harm than good. Concealed carry on college campuses not only misses many of the main points of sexual assault advocacy, it also places campus communities in grave danger.

Guns, as tools, do not have the ability to address the root problem of sexual assault: perpetrators. Arming potential sexual assault survivors puts the onus of their protection on the potential survivors, instead of on potential perpetrators to avoid committing sexual assaults and on bystanders to intervene. Both universities and policymakers alike should foster a campus culture where potential sexual assaults are recognized and stopped before they happen, not one in which students must rely on guns to ensure their own safety. 

Even if universities ultimately allow concealed carry, in reality, a potential sexual assault victim would find it impractical to carry around firearms for self-defense, especially considering who sexual assault perpetrators are. According to the National Institute of Justice, 90 percent of survivors in reported college sexual assaults knew their assailants. This indicates that many sexual assaults on college campuses occur in seemingly safe and ordinary situations, in which a gun would not be easily accessible. READ MORE

Tea Party Radio Host: Black Caucus Members Should be Hung Outside Capital Bldg

Andrea Shea King (Times up lady)
*Here we go. Another high-strung, crazy-azz Republican a-hole showing us exactly what she’s made of.

This time its Tea Party radio host Andrea Shea King. She let ‘er rip spewing her hatred for Congressional Black Caucus members. Of course she wrapped it around a cause and suggested that those lawmakers who boycotted Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s should be killed. More specifically, they should be hanged.

“Obama doesn’t have to run for reelection again, a lot of these guys do,” King said on the audio that was published by Right Wing Watch. “Listen, I would like to think that these guys could pay with their lives, hanging from a noose in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.”

Find out what her twisted, jacked up, racist logic is at at EURThisNthat.

U. S. Dept. of Agriculture Shows White People as Main Food Stamp Recipients

Gene Alday
 (So What Was this Republican Talking About!)

 *When  republican Gene Alday,  a member of the Mississippi state legislature, made news because of his very public statement to the media that African-Americans in his hometown of Walls, 

Mississippi, are unemployed and on food stamps, he was basically ‘talking out the side of his neck.’
He has since back-peddled and apologized.

“I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks,'” Alday said to a reporter for The Clarion-Ledger, a Mississippi newspaper, earlier this month. “They don’t work.” READ MORE

The NYPD's shady Wikipedia edits

The NYPD has been caught red-handed making anonymous edits to Wikipedia pages for the “Stop and Frisk” policy, as well as police brutality victims Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and Eric Garner.

These weren’t small corrections to simple factual inaccuracies, either. They were blatant attempts at rewriting history. Someone must be held accountable here.

Demand NYPD Commissioner William Bratton publicly condemn the actions of the officers or employees responsible for these edits.

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BREAKING: Iran's Foreign Minister responds to the letter from 47 Republican Senators

Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif
by Eyesbright Follow
This morning, my husband mentioned that he'd heard a discussion that included some conjecture on the possibility that Netanyahu's diatribe against a nuclear nonproliferation deal with Iran might actually push Iran closer to an agreement.  That may prove prescient.

Just now, I've come across the official response from Iran's foreign minister to the letter from 47 Republican senators (aka Netanyahu's fan club) that has immediately become infamous.
Asked about the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that "in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.  It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.  This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.
Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
I admit I felt quite a bit of schadenfreude as I read the words of this obviously intelligent and well read man lecturing these moronic Republicans about their own country's constitution and international law. READ MORE

Can Jeb Win The Nomination If He's Telling GOP Voters They're Stupid Children?

Look, I understand -- GOP voters are stupid children. But you're not supposed to say that to them if you want their votes. And that's what Jeb appears to be saying:

HUDSON, N.H. -- Jeb Bush said he would be open to allowing illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and said his position on immigration is “the grown-up plan.”

The former Florida governor, a vocal supporter of granting legal status to some undocumented immigrants as part of a broader immigration overhaul, offered a robust defense of his immigration policy during a discussion with local business leaders here.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Well, anything you propose is amnesty,’ but that’s not a plan,” Mr. Bush said during a discussion with local business leaders here. “That’s a sentiment, that’s not a plan. I think the best plan, the most realistic plan, the grown up plan, if you will, is once you control the border and you’re confident it’s not going to be another magnet, is to say, ‘Let’s let these folks achieve earned legal status where they work, where they come out of the shadows.’”

Later, during a brief exchange with reporters, Mr. Bush said he could also be supportive of a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally -- as he did at one time -- but said there currently isn’t sufficient political support for it. READ MORE