Saturday, May 2, 2015

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

A week or so ago, connecticutie posted her version of the GOP Rape Advisory Chart to help sort out all of the confusion about the wide variety of rape "flavors" that today's Republican Party seems so hell-bent on bringing to light.

I thought she did a fantastic job, but, given the latest entries into the "rainbow of rape flavors" yesterday and today by Richard Mourdock and John Cornyn, I decided to create a revised version that plays it straight--I'm just including the actual quotes themselves. Feel free to repost on FB, TW or wherever you wish.

So, without further ado, I present the updated Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart:

Wow. I'm beyond flattered (if "flattered" is the appropriate term...seems a bit inappropriate in this case).
Anyway, just to reiterate, since I've had at least one person contact me directly about it, please feel free to repost the graphic anywhere you wish, and don't worry about "credit" or "attribution"...the color-code chart was connecticuties, as noted above, and I certainly don't want "credit" for the disgusting statements by the GOP jackasses in the chart.
Also, if you want to attach a link to the chart, I'd recommend either a) ANY of the Democrats running against the scumbags who made the quotes (there's too many to list again) or, alternately, RAINN, which seems appropriate.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network


KKK Praised in Text used in State-Funded Christian Schools

"the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross... In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians." - from Bob Jones University Press American history textbook
How to explain the growing polarization of American, into two different cultural and political camps, each with almost diametrically opposing worldviews and contradictory sets of facts? One overlooked possible reason - schools.

Consider the following claims, from the A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press fundamentalist textbook lines used in Christian schools now subsidized with state tax money in over a dozen states across America:  READ MORE

Fox News Suffers Worst Ratings In Thirteen Years – And That’s Not Their Big Problem

Fox News has fallen and it can't get up. Ratings for the month of May 2014, have just been published, and the numbers are devastating for Fox News. While still occupying the top slot among the cable news networks, Fox saw about a quarter of its audience dissolve across every demographic group and time period.
Go Fox Yourself
Fox Nation vs. RealityCheck out my ebook...
Fox Nation vs. Reality
The Fox News Community's Assault On Truth.
Originally published on News Corpse.
Be sure to LIKE News Corpse on Facebook.


Nigerian military rescues 234 kidnapped girls, women from Boko Haram Islamic militant stronghold

A Nigerian soldier speaks to woman and children
that were allegedly rescued this week by the Nigerian
Military after being taken by Islamic extremists in
Sambisa Forest, Nigeria.
LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria's military has rescued 234 more girls and women from a Boko Haram forest stronghold in the country's northeast, an announcement on social media said Saturday.
It brings the number of females declared rescued this week to more than 677.

"FLASH: Another set of 234 women and children were rescued through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the #Sambisa Forest on Thursday," said a message on the official Twitter account of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters posted early Saturday.  READ MORE

Friday, May 1, 2015

NASA: EM Drive shown to work in space-like vacuum

EmDrive Test Bed

The EmDrive which made made headlines last year is back in the news with the results from a new set of tests by NASA showing that the drive has been successfully tested in a hard vacuum.
The EM drive is controversial in that it appears to violate conventional physics and the law of conservation of momentum; the engine, invented by British scientist Roger Sawyer, converts electric power to thrust without the need for any propellant by bouncing microwaves within a closed container. So, with no expulsion of propellant, there’s nothing to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum during acceleration. Hence the skepticism. But as stated by NASA Eagleworks scientist Harold White:
[T]he EM Drive’s thrust was due to the Quantum Vacuum (the quantum state with the lowest possible energy) behaving like propellant ions behave in a MagnetoHydroDynamics drive (a method electrifying propellant and then directing it with magnetic fields to push a spacecraft in the opposite direction) for spacecraft propulsion. READ MORE

Rumsfeld: Looting Is Transition To Freedom

Story by Pamela Hess, UPI Pentagon Correspondent [not The Onion]
Rumsfeld: Looting is transition to freedom
[F]reedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here," Rumsfeld said.
"While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime," he said. "And I don't think there's anyone in any of those pictures ... (who wouldn't) accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom."
Donald Rumsfeld, in his own words, twelve years ago (April 11, 2003). That is all.

[Credit for the "find': Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, who meme-tweeted on April 28]

Republicans scramble to get out of the Obamacare mess they created for themselves

Republican lawmakers know very well that they're in an awful bind completely of their own making.

They insisted on pursuing every possible avenue for destroying Obamacare, and now one might work out for them. The Supreme Court could very well decide in June to strike down subsidies to the around 8 million people who have purchased insurance on the federal exchange, making keeping that insurance impossible for many, and making those 8 million people very, very angry. Most Republicans have now come around to the idea that maybe that's not going to be such a great thing for them, particularly those who have to be re-elected next year. One of them, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has introduced legislation that would extend the subsidies into 2017. But Johnson isn't the only one who has some kind of fix, and most of those "fixes" create real problems going forward.

The Johnson plan would prohibit new customers in both the state and federally operated exchanges from receiving subsidies and repeal the individual and employer mandates. In addition, it would eliminate the Affordable Care Act's minimum essential benefit requirements, allow states to set those benefit rules, and grandfather in existing health plans that are not compliant with the ACA.

Another proposal, by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), would continue premium subsidies for 18 months but phase them out over that period. For six months after the court rules, financial assistance for all subsidy-eligible exchange customers would be set at a flat 65% of premium costs. That would decrease by 5 percentage points each month until the subsidies were completely eliminated. During the transition period, insurers would be prohibited from raising premiums. In addition, the Sasse bill would prohibit HHS from providing federal exchange technology to states interested in establishing their own exchanges. […]  READ MORE

Satanists Seize On Hobby Lobby To Test The Limit Of Religious Freedom

The Satanic Temple, a faith community that ascribes to seven central tenets that track closely with humanism, is seeking a religious exemption from Missouri’s 72-hour abortion waiting period on the grounds that the law violates their sincerely held beliefs about bodily autonomy.

The St. Louis chapter of the Satanic Temple says they were recently contacted by a Satanist woman, whom they identify only as “Mary,” who is struggling to navigate Missouri’s harsh abortion laws as she attempts to end a pregnancy. She lives hundreds of miles away from the state’s only abortion clinic, and she doesn’t have the means to make the trip twice in order to comply with the state’s mandatory counseling and 72-hour waiting requirements. So her religious leaders are stepping in on her behalf.

Satanic Temple leaders set up a crowdfunding site to raise money to help Mary cover the expenses associated with her abortion procedure. And they’re also arguing that, based on their community’s religious tenets — which stipulate that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone” and “we should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs” — Mary should be able to get a faith-based exemption to the state’s 72-hour waiting period. READ MORE

Doctors Disagree With The Baltimore Police About Freddie Gray’s Spinal Injuries

Baltimore Police Department
Commissioner Anthony Batts
Maryland State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby has filed charges against six officers in the death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray. During a live press conference, she expressed a commitment to justice and condemned those in law enforcement who have “leaked information prior to the resolution of the case,” saying that they have damaged her office’s ability to carry out a fair and impartial process.
As authorities dig deeper into the events surrounding Freddie Gray’s arrest and mysterious death, there seem to be more questions than answers, particularly about how exactly the 25-year-old Baltimorean sustained his fatal injuries. Gray’s spine was nearly severed and his voice box was crushed.

Mosby may have been alluding to a Baltimore Police Department document obtained by the Washington Post that alleges Gray caused his own injuries by banging on the police van while he was being transported. Conservative news sites wasted little time disseminating the findings in stories that speculated that Gray damaged his spine long before the incident and won a court settlement for those injuries, although the court document in question was actually related to a lead poisoning case.

There’s a lot of information that critics say contradicts the account reported in the Post. There’s a video showing a numbness in Gray’s legs as officers drag him into a paddy wagon. Donte Allan, the man in the van with Freddie Gray whose account forms the basis of the police document obtained by the Washington Post, later denied telling police anything. And Baltimore’s WBAL-TV investigative reporter Jayne Miller says that statements from her sources contradict what the Washington Post reported.  READ MORE

House GOP Wants To Stop The Pentagon From Protecting Military Families From Financial Predators

Military families will be exposed to predatory car loans and payday lenders for another year unless a little-noticed provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is stripped out of the bill during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday.

Majority Republicans quietly inserted language into the gigantic defense legislation that would override a Pentagon push to enhance consumer protections for men and women in uniform. Flaws in the current rules have allowed lenders to trap military families in loans that cost two, five, and even ten times as much to repay as what the loan was actually worth.

Pentagon officials laid out plans in 2014 to revamp the rules that protect armed forces families from unscrupulous financial firms, after multiple analyses of how lenders use loopholes in the 2006 Military Lending Act (MLA) to target soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. But a subcommittee draft of the NDAA would prohibit the Department of Defense (DOD) from implementing the rules it wants until it conducts a further study of the current rules and submits the findings to Congress. READ MORE

Senators Approve Bill To Stop EPA From Using ‘Secret Science’

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Senate sponsor of the
 Secret Science Reform Act.
A Senate committee has advanced legislation that would change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to craft regulations intended to protect the environment and public health, the Hill reported Tuesday.

On party line votes, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-9 to approve the “Secret Science Reform Act,” a bill to prohibit the EPA from using science that includes private data, or data that can’t be easily reproduced. The bill has been pushed strongly by House Republicans for the last two years, but this is the first time it has been advanced by the Senate. It is sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

The purpose of the Secret Science bill, according to its House sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), is to stop “hidden and flawed” science from being the basis of EPA regulations. However, many scientific organizations have disagreed with this characterization.

For example, approximately 50 scientific societies and universities said the bill would prohibit the EPA from using many large-scale public health studies, because their data “could not realistically be reproduced.” In addition, many studies use private medical data, trade secrets, and industry data that cannot legally be made public.

“The legislation may sound reasonable, but it’s actually a cynical attack on the EPA’s ability to do its job,” said Andrew Rosenberg, the director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement. “This bill would make it impossible for the EPA to use many health studies, since they often contain private patient information that can’t and shouldn’t be revealed.”  READ MORE

Two Congressmen Host ‘One Of The Most Notorious Bigots In The World’

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch anti-Islam Freedom
Party, speaks at a rally of so-called ‘Patriotic Europeans
against the Islamization of the West’ (PEGIDA) in
Dresden, Germany, Monday, April 13, 2015.
Two members of Congress hosted Dutch Politician and founder of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom Geert Wilders Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) invitation for Wilders to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society as “deeply distressing.”

“Muslims can be moderates. But there is no moderate Islam,” Wilders said to the crowd. “Islam has changed Europe beyond recognition.”

Wilders has a history of using discriminatory speech, particularly against Muslim immigrants and Islam, and he did so again at Wednesday’s speech by comparing the religion to National Socialism, or Nazism.

“Mr. Wilders is entitled to express his opinions, but for an elected member of the House of Representatives to provide a platform for a man who is practically an international symbol of anti-Muslim hatred not only lends him credibility, it ill-serves the goal of having a Congress that lives up to America’s ideals of tolerance,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a press release from earlier this week. “Reps. King and Gohmert should reconsider the invitation, given this individual’s established record as one of the most notorious bigots in the world.”  READ MORE

Chief Justice Roberts Accidentally Reveals Everything That’s Wrong With Citizens United In Four Sentences

On Wednesday, a 5-4 Supreme Court held in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar that states may “prohibit judges and judicial candidates from personally soliciting funds for their campaigns.” It was a small but symbolically important victory for supporters of campaign finance laws, as it showed that there was actually some limit on the Roberts Court’s willingness to strike down laws limiting the influence of money in politics.

Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion for the Court in Williams-Yulee is certainly better for campaign finance regulation than a decision striking down this limit on judicial candidates — had the case gone the other way, judges could have been given the right to solicit money from the very lawyers who practice before them. Yet Roberts also describes judges as if they are special snowflakes who must behave in a neutral and unbiased way that would simply be inappropriate for legislators, governors and presidents: READ MORE

Genetically Modified Crops May Yield Less Food, Study Says

April 24, 2008 08:10 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A recent study found that the yield from genetically modified soya was 10 percent smaller than the yield from plants that were not genetically engineered.

30-Second Summary 

Touted as part of the solution to world hunger, genetically modified (GM) crops have long battled political and philosophical opposition. Now a study suggests that they may encounter economic issues as well. For the past three years, researchers at Kansas State have compared Monsanto genetically modified soybean crops with an unaltered variety.

Barney Gordon, a professor of agronomy at Kansas State, said that the study began because farmers questioned why they got less output from genetically engineered crops. He found that GM soybeans produce less grain per acre and now thinks it is possible “that the modification hindered the crop's take-up of the essential element from the soil.”

These results were released following the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) report that developing countries implemented GM crops in record high numbers in 2007. Clive James of the ISAA said today’s poverty stems from agricultural difficulties and “this technology can make a contribution.”

However, opposition to GM crops remains strong and environmental groups such as Greenpeace continue to protest their use.  READ MORE

Republicans Are Trying Very Hard, But They Won’t Pull Off Populism

Marco Rubio, just one of the guys. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Barack Obama was raised by a financially struggling single mother, and Mitt Romney was the son of an auto executive turned governor who grew up to be a gazillionaire in the financial industry. This made biographical populism an unfruitful subject for the right. But circumstances have changed a bit. Hillary Clinton and her husband have grown extremely rich in their post–White House years, and the Republican Party is cultivating at least a couple of potential candidates, like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, who boast of their modest backgrounds. Republicans are licking their lips for a year and a half of Hillary-as–Leona Helmsley, flying around in private jets, luxuriating in wealth, and disingenuously pretending to care about the struggles of average Americans.

There is, however, one wee problem in the Republican populist plot. That is the policy agenda.

Conservative writer Jay Cost is already looking ahead to this problem, which he presents as a kind of dodge. After flaying Clinton for her wealth, he fumes, “Really, the only claim Clinton can make to understanding the travails of everyday Americans is her party’s platform,” writes Cost, “Endorsement of that document is a kind of sacrament that bestows the power of empathy upon every Democratic pol. This is perhaps the most absurd premise of the Clinton candidacy.”

This is a strange and revealing passage. He argues that Clinton is a tool of the rich, and the only possible fact undermining this otherwise obvious reality is her party’s platform, i.e., the stuff she would do as president. This is an “absurd” premise upon which to cast her as a populist if you think of elections as a soap-opera drama between two individuals. It makes a lot of sense if you think about the presidency as a vehicle to change public policy.  READ MORE

Lush Employees Go Naked

 "Yeah just go ahead and take pictures. Mom and
dad already know I did ." Photo: Erin Barnes
Today at noon, employees at Lush Cosmetics citywide dropped trou and strutted, naked but for aprons, outside their places of employment. The stunt was cooked up by the British Columbia–based company in order to promote their "naked" bath products — they are made from organic fruit and vegetables and sold sans plastic bottles — and it certainly got them attention. Over by the Lush store in Herald Square, tourists and salarymen went wild at the unexpected midday display of flesh. "Take them off! Take them off!" the crowd shouted at two twentysomething guys in boxers, one of whom eventually complied. The publicity stunt, a spokesperson explained, was the company's idea, but employees chose whether to comply. While some clearly reveled in the attention (see above), as the crowd grew larger, others seemed to be feeling regretful about their choice. We asked store manager Jennifer Paulson, who kept herself firmly pressed against the store wall, why she had chosen to go naked. "Because we keep our products unpackaged so nothing goes to the landfill," she said like a good employee, then worried aloud: "Someone was videotaping so now I'm worried I'm going to be on YouTube!"  FROM THE SITE

Will Hillary Clinton's Mass Incarceration Speech Solve Some of Her Campaign's Problems?

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave a well-timed keynote address at David Dinkins's forum at Columbia University calling for police body cameras and an end to the era of mass incarceration. "What we've seen in Baltimore should, indeed I think does, tear at our soul," Clinton said. It was, you know, a fine speech, definitely not the most stirring one you'll hear on the topic, but the stories of police killings contain such naked injustice and human suffering and pain, that Clinton, in retelling them, had a certain winning exasperation.

But it may have been the start of something, too. For policy reasons and moral reasons, but also for pure reptilian political ones, this is a really interesting issue for Clinton to take on, one that might help her solve some of the trickiest challenges of her presidential campaign:

First, elevating criminal-justice reform allows Clinton to move left in a way that is timely, on an issue on which she isn't likely to be outflanked by Elizabeth Warren and her supporters. On economic history, Clinton's beliefs, advisors, and record simply aren't left-wing; the party's moved to the left during her public life, and she's been caught behind it. But criminal-justice reform hasn't been one of Warren's major issues, and, more important, Clinton is more or less in line with what the left wants from a president on criminal-justice issues: Many fewer people in prison, an acknowledgement that our criminal justice is very badly biased against poor people and racial minorities and an aggressive effort by the White House to fix those injustices, and a symbolic end to the era of the war on drugs and mass incarceration. After her speech this week, it's hard to see how Clinton would disagree with any of that.  READ MORE

Todd Kaminsky, Who Helped Prosecute Albany Lawmakers, Is Now One of Them

The best feature of freshman Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky’s Albany office is its eighth-floor view of the Catskill Mountains. The space itself is pretty snug. Not that Kaminsky is complaining. “Besides,” he says, “when I moved in, one of the building guys said, ‘With everything that’s going on, pretty soon you’ll have a suite.’”

Everything is of course the attrition by investigation that’s been working its way through the state legislature. Kaminsky, a Democrat, is keeping an eye on the drama just like everyone else in town — but he’s doing it from a unique vantage point. His previous job was as a federal prosecutor with the Eastern District of the U.S. Attorney’s office, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Kaminsky’s home turf, Long Island. He was particularly good at convicting corrupt legislators, including former congressman Michael Grimm and former state Senate majority leader Pedro Espada Jr. As a prosecutor he also collaborated with the Moreland Commission, whose investigation of the state legislature has led to some of the recent indictments issued by Preet Bharara.

Now that Kaminsky, since January, is himself a legislator, this résumé makes for some awkward moments in Albany. “There’s a ton of paranoia here,” he says. “I had a conversation with a number of colleagues where people were talking about the pension forfeiture laws, and how they’re just draconian. I said, ‘This only applies if you get convicted! Don’t get convicted!’ A colleague says, ‘Well, there’s entrapment— ’ I said, ‘Look, if someone offers you a bag of money, don’t take it!’”

Ex-Congressman Aaron Schock Might Be Missing

Former Illinois representative Aaron Schock, who was brought down by his Downton Abbey–esque office decor, hasn't just disappeared from Congress. A campaign donor is suing Schock for racketeering and fraud, but according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the man's attorney told a federal judge on Wednesday that he hasn't been able to serve Schock with the lawsuit. He said the Peoria address Schock listed on FEC forms is vacant, and the former congressman's attorneys have not responded to his inquiries. (His Twitter and Facebook are inactive, too.) He's probably just good at avoiding process servers, but someone should check to make sure he hasn't kidnapped his secret love child and run off to London.  FROM THE SITE

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Justice Ginsburg Eviscerates The Case Against Marriage Equality In Just Five Sentences

During Tuesday’s marriage equality arguments in the Supreme Court, several of the Court’s conservative members suggested that same-sex couples should not be given equal marriage rights because these couples have not enjoyed those rights for most of the past. As Justice Antonin Scalia summed up this argument, “for millennia, not a single society” supported marriage equality, and that somehow exempted same-sex couples from the Constitution’s promise of equal protection of the law.

Not long after her conservative colleagues raised this argument, however, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained exactly why marriage was long understood to be incompatible with homosexuality in just five sentencesREAD MORE

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Serco: the company that is running Britain

From prisons to rail franchises and even London's Boris bikes, Serco is a giant global corporation that has hoovered up outsourced government contracts. Now the NHS is firmly in its sights. But it stands accused of mismanagement, lying and even charging for non-existent work

In May this year, a huge company listed on the London Stock Exchange found itself in the midst of controversy about a prison it runs for the government – Thameside, a newly built jail next to Belmarsh, in south-east London. A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate found that 60% of its inmates were locked up all day, and there were only "vague plans to restore the prison to normality". The prison campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform talked about conditions that were "truly alarming".

Two months later, the same company was the subject of a high- profile report published by the House Of Commons public accounts committee, prompted by the work of Guardian journalist Felicity Lawrence. This time, attention was focused on how it was managing out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall, and massive failings that had first surfaced two years before. Again, the verdict was damning: data had been falsified, national standards had not been met, there was a culture of "lying and cheating", and the service offered to the public was simply "not good enough".
Three weeks ago, there came grimmer news. Thanks to its contracts for tagging offenders, the company was now the focus of panic at the Ministry of Justice, where it had been discovered that it was one of two contractors that had somehow overcharged the government for its services, possibly by as much as £50m; there were suggestions that one in six of the tags that the state had paid for did not actually exist. How this happened is still unclear, but justice secretary Chris Grayling has said the allegations represent something "wholly indefensible and unacceptable".  READ MORE

US Military Spending Still Up 45% Over Pre-9/11 Levels; More Than Next 7 Countries Combined

Despite a decline in military spending since 2010, U.S. defense expenditures are still 45 percent higher than they were before the 9/11 terror attacks put the country on a seemingly permanent war footing.

And despite massive regional buildups spurred by conflict in the Ukraine and the Middle East, the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven top-spending countries combined, according to new figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

That’s nearly three times as much as China, and more than seven times as much as Russia.

The share of world military expenditure of the 15 states with the highest expenditure in 2014. (Source: SIPRI)

Saudi Arabia is now the fourth-biggest military spender on the globe, which in its case means spending nearly $80 billion last year buying weapons, mostly from the U.S., and most notably including fistfuls of F-15 fighters and top-of-the-line attack helicopters.  READ MORE

Why most of the $100 million L.A. spends on homelessness goes to police April 17, 2015, Los Angeles Times

report showing that more than half the $100 million the city of Los Angeles spends each year on homelessness goes to police demonstrates that the city is focused on enforcement rather than getting people off the streets, homeless advocates said Friday.

"Supports what we've been saying for years that this city is doing almost nothing to advance housing solutions but continues down the expensive and inhumane process of criminalization that only makes the problem worse," said Becky Dennison of Los Angeles Community Action Network, a skid row advocacy group, in an email.

Almost 15,000 people the LAPD arrested in 2013 were homeless, or 14% of those arrested, according to the report from the city administrative office. Labor costs for the arrests were estimated between $46 million and $80 million.  READ MORE

Scientists genetically modify human embryos in controversial world first

Scientists in China have genetically modified human embryos in a world first that has re-ignited the debate over the ethics and safety of genetic therapies that have the potential to prevent inherited diseases.

The work raises fresh questions over whether restrictions should be placed on a new wave of genetic techniques that are rapidly gaining ground in labs across the world.

The Chinese group used a genome editing procedure called Crispr to modify an aberrant gene that causes beta-thalassaemia, a life-threatening blood disorder, in faulty IVF embryos obtained from local fertility clinics.

The embryos used for their experiments were abnormal and incapable of developing into healthy babies and would have been destroyed by the clinics. They were not implanted into women once the modifications were made.  READ MORE

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. READ MORE

Wolf in Sheep's Skin? On the Use and Abuse of Volunteerism, AKA Unpaid Labor

Political and social pressure to volunteer is on the rise. Charities are now relying on volunteer work to deliver state subcontracted services. It is time to question this trend and what it means for the rising percentage of unemployed people who are pushed into working for free.

Walk around London and you will notice the many posters endorsed by the Mayor of London encouraging people to volunteer to increase their career chances. Volunteering at football clubs helps doctors become better at their jobs while volunteering at a zoo will help aspiring zookeepers find employment. Whatever you may want to do professionally in the public or third-sector, get volunteering to fill up that CV!

Political and social pressure to volunteer - and to volunteer to get a job - is on the rise even as jobs in the charities sector and elsewhere become ever rarer. At the same time, charities are increasingly relying on volunteer work to deliver state (subcontracted) services, and more and more volunteers are people who are seeking employment. Increasingly volunteering is just a fancy word for un-paid work and a band-aid for cutting services. This is not to say that volunteering isn't an admirable activity or that people shouldn't be contributing their skills, time, knowledge and compassion for causes they care about and indeed for the benefit of their community. But the political glorification of volunteering in an age of austerity needs to come with a public debate about replacing paid and qualified labour with unpaid labour, especially in the charity sector.

A Foot in Which Door?  READ MORE

"Dr. Evil" Turns Out to Be "Dr. Silly"

Big Oil, labor exploiters, industrial food factories, frackers and other corporate profiteers have been paying a lot of money to a man that celebrates himself "Dr. Evil" — the scourge of all progressive groups!

But Rick Berman is not a doctor, not evil and not a scourge. While he is a wholly unprincipled little man, he's just a self-serving huckster who grubs for corporate dollars by offering to do their dirty PR work. His specialty is taking secret funding from major corporations to publicly slime

environmentalists, low-wage workers and anyone else perceived by his corporate clients as enemies.
Berman's modus operandi is not exactly sophisticated. Taking money from the likes of Phillip-Morris, Monsanto and Tyson Foods, he sets up tax-exempt front groups (with non-descript names like Center for Consumer Freedom, Employment Policies Institute and Environmental Policy Alliance), posing them as independent research and academic outfits. Each one is an empty shell, run by his small staff of political hacks out of his Washington, D.C., office, and, using the names of the front groups, Berman and Co. buy full-page newspaper ads and write opinion pieces filled with made-up facts and manufactured horror stories for clueless media outlets that amount to raw hatchet attacks on whatever progressive groups or public policies the corporate funders want to kill.

His mad dog style is hardly worrisome to those targeted, for rather than drawing converts to the corporate funder's cause, it merely rallies the usual anti-labor, anti-enviro, anti-"fill in the blank" crowd. But it still appeals to brand-name corporate clients, for Berman promises to spew their message into the media without having any of the nastiness stick to them. "We run all this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors," he assured energy executives last year.

"There is total anonymity," he bragged. "People don't know who supports us." READ MORE

The Rich Are Not Entitled to Bankrupt the United States

Because of irresponsible reporting by conservative sources, many Americans have been led to believe that social programs are bankrupting our nation. The mainstream media fawningly concurs, with statements like this from USA Today: "The massive deficits...[and] chronic underfunding...are largely the result of Washington's habit of committing too much money to benefit programs." States are now beginning to attack imagined safety net abuses, such as the use of food stamp funds to pay for fortune tellers and pleasure cruises.

But hungry people rarely waste their modest benefits, and most are eager to work to support their households. Almost three-quarters of those enrolled in food stamps and other social programs are members of working families. And according to the US Department of Agriculture, only 1 cent of every SNAP dollar is used fraudulently.

The real threat is the array of entitlements demanded by the very rich. As they get richer, they're gradually bankrupting the greater part of America, the middle and lower classes. The following annual numbers may help to put our country's expenses and benefits in perspective.  READ MORE

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

As Attorney General, How Will Loretta Lynch Police the Police?

It’s been nine months since protests first erupted against police killings in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, and the outcry shows no signs of subsiding.

Last week, protesters took to the streets in several cities across the country, blocking highways in anger over the latest shooting deaths of unarmed black men by police officers.

At the same time, many hard-working officers, who often risk their lives to do their jobs, feel under siege. In some cities, the outcry may have made it harder to recruit good cops.

Loretta Lynch, who the Senate confirmed Thursday to be the nation’s next attorney general, has said she’d make it one of her “highest priorities” to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

A key component of that is holding police departments accountable. Now that she’s the nation’s top law enforcement official, what would that mean for Lynch in practice?

How the DOJ Polices the Police 

New Report Slams “Unprecedented” Growth in US Prisons

The past 40 years have seen the United States become home to more prisoners than any other country in the world. Yet despite this dramatic boom in incarceration rates, a new report finds that the deterrent effect of tough-on-crime policies remain “highly uncertain.”

The report, published Wednesday by the National Research Council, describes the rise of incarceration in America as “historically unprecedented and internationally unique.” It found that from 1973 to 2009, the prison population grew from about 200,000 to approximately 2.2 million. With this spike, the U.S. now holds close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of the global population.

“We are concerned that the United States is past the point where the number of people in prison can be justified by social benefits,” said Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the chair of the committee behind the study. “A criminal justice system that makes less use of incarceration can better achieve its aims than a harsher, more punitive system.”

The cost of America’s prison expansion has been staggering, the study notes. In most states, spending on corrections represents the third highest category of general fund expenditures, ranked only behind Medicaid and education.  READ MORE

Justice Department Probes Another “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

The Justice Department is investigating how a Texas county punishes kids for missing school, targeting what civil-rights advocates call the school-to-prison pipeline: policies that disproportionately rout certain children — primarily blacks and Latinos — out of class and into the juvenile justice system.
In Texas, failure to attend school, or truancy, is a criminal offense punishable by fines up to $500, plus court costs. Judges also have wide discretion in levying additional penalties. They can order children to attend counseling or perform community service, or even wear an ankle monitor or drop out of school entirely.

That policy, and the way it is applied, disproportionately harms low-income children, blacks and Latinos and those with disabilities, according to a report released in 2013 by Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit advocacy group that has sought federal intervention in the state. Kids who miss too much school aren’t always just playing hooky, though. They may have other reasons for not being in class, such as homelessness or having to care for other family members.

Research suggests that incarcerating young people is often ineffective, and can actually make them more likely to commit another crime. Those findings, and a desire to cut high incarceration costs, have led several states to rethink the way they handle juvenile offenders.  READ MORE

Has the Justice Department Found a New Town that Preys on Its Poor?

When the federal government investigates a police department, it’s usually looking at allegations that officers use excessive force or racially profile residents.

Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that it was coming to the rural Louisiana town of Ville Platte, to investigate the police department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office, which is also headquartered in the town. It said it would look into allegations that the officers detain residents in their jails without proper cause.

This appears to be the first time the DOJ has opened a “pattern or practice investigation” solely into the practice of improper detentions. Under this type of probe, the Justice Department looks for constitutional violations. If it finds any, the department has the power to sue law enforcement agencies to correct them.

It’s not clear whether a specific incident prompted the investigation; the Department of Justice is notoriously tight-lipped about its motives for targeting a particular law enforcement agency. In its announcement, the DOJ said it was looking into allegations that law enforcement in Ville Platte improperly keep people in jail under “investigative holds” — detained without charges while officials investigate a crime.

“A Monetary Windfall for the City”

But civil-rights activists in Louisiana say that improper detentions are only part of a broader problem in Ville Platte, a city in which they say residents are cited for frivolous violations, excessively fined and put in jail when they cannot pay.

It’s a system that on its face appears similar to some of what Justice Department officials found in Ferguson, Mo., where the police department, at the behest of the city, regularly ticketed mostly African-American residents for violations like “manner of walking in roadway,” and then funneled that money into the city coffers. Those who couldn’t pay were sent to jail. READ MORE

Monday, April 27, 2015

Schweizer Admits He Conflated Paid and Unpaid Clinton Appearances

From Media Matters:
On April 23, ABC News explained that their independent review of the source material used for Clinton Cash "uncovered errors in the book, including an instance where paid and unpaid speaking appearances were conflated." The book purports to reveal connections between Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and paid speeches given by the Clintons, but Schweizer reportedly admits in the book he cannot prove his allegations.

According to ABC, Schweizer "said the errors would be corrected." The book is due for release on May 5; it is unclear whether the errors will be corrected before the first publication.

Media Matters identified ten previous instances in which Schweizer made serious factual errors, issued retractions, or relied on questionable so  READ MORE

Arrested for sagging pants, Ervin Edwards tasered to death in custody; police lie in report

Ervin Edwards, arrested for sagging pants, dead
in his cell after being Tasered to death
On November 26, 2013, 38-year-old Ervin Edwards, partially deaf and mentally ill, was arrested by police for sagging his pants and taken to the West Baton Rouge Parish jail in Louisiana. He only lived for a few more minutes inside of the cell.

For 18 months, police have lied over and over again about what happened the night Ervin Edwards died in their custody. Now that a video of their despicable actions has been released, it's clear they murdered this man and left him to die all alone in his jail cell. The Advocate has provided an annotated video. See the video and my breakdown of their lies below the fold. READ MORE

Jimmy Carter: 'Losing My Religion For Equality'

For most of his life, Jimmy Carter has been an advocate for human rights. In 1982, one year after leaving the Oval Office, the former US President and his wife Rosalynn Carter, founded the Carter Center, dedicated to advancing peace and health worldwide. Still an activist at 90, Carter has authored 28 books, including a new book in 2014 called, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.

Over the years, Jimmy Carter, a devout Christian, has become a very strong proponent of women's rights, to a point where he has spoken out against the falsehoods and extremism we see within the 'religion' of Christianity today. In 2009, he penned an open letter, severing ties with the mega SBC/Southern Baptist Convention, after being a member of the Convention for 60 years. Carter said the decision was difficult and painful, yet 'unavoidable,' after the Convention leaders chose to take bible verses out of context and claim 'Eve' was responsible to for 'original sin,' and thus all women must be subservient to men. In Carter's aforementioned open letter, he expands on his reasons and concerns:

Ku Klux Klan Fliers Pop Up In North Carolina County

Brunswick County Sheriff's officials collected approximately 130 bags containing fliers promoting the Ku Klux Klan this weekend. Residents in the North Carolina community alerted police.

A Brunswick County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said that several concerned citizens in the Winnabow area alerted them about the bags and turned them in Saturday.
WECT reports:

The bags contain white rice and a flier with contact information for the Karolina Knights.

Flax said deputies on patrol in that area collected approximately 130 bags from in the Winnabow area.

David Holt the Grand Dragon of the Karolina Knights confirms the group went on a "night ride" Friday night handing out fliers in the Winnabow area. 

BENGHAZI!!! Reporter Sharyl Attkisson Awarded Sunday Show By Right-Wing Media Group

Because there's not enough stupid filling the air on Sunday mornings, we're now going to get treated to Sharyl Attkisson's special flavor of "investigative" reporting.

The former CBS News correspondent, who resigned from the network last year, will host a new, 30-minute Sunday morning national news program based in Washington, D.C., Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. announced in a press release Wednesday. The show will air on the company's ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates. Sinclair said the journalist will come on board in June, but the show will likely not debut until next fall.

"We are excited to have Sharyl on board as we launch this group-wide news program," vice president of news for Sinclair Television Group Scott Livingston said in the press release. "Our goal is to provide the context and perspective on major issues impacting our viewers. Sharyl has a proven track record of exposing the truth behind stories that other news organizations shy away from. I admire Sharyl's determination and passion to seek the truth."  READ MORE

Clinton 'Scandal' Donor Has A Message For American Media

The New York Times' first mistake was agreeing to a 'partnership' with Koch shill Peter Schweizer. The second mistake they made was publishing a vague story suggesting that the Clinton Foundation engaged in something shady with Canadian businessman Frank Giustra.

Giustra has a message for the Times and a response to the few specifics in their story. They should listen.

The facts do not comport with the story in the New York Times. The reporter, Jo Becker, wrote a similar piece in 2008, which was eventually debunked by Forbes.
  1. I began working on financing the purchase of mining stakes from a private Kazakh company in early 2005. The purchase was concluded in late 2005
  2. In late 2005, I went to Kazakhstan to finish the negotiations of the sale. Bill Clinton flew to Almaty a few days after I arrived in the country on another person’s plane, not on my plane, as the Times reported. Bill Clinton had nothing to do with the purchase of private mining stakes by a Canadian company.
  3. I sold all of my stakes in the uranium company – Uranium One – in the fall of 2007, after it merged with another company. I would note that those were sold at least 18 months before Hillary Clinton became the Secretary of State. No one was speculating at that time that she would become the Secretary of State. READ MORE

Jindal Will Destroy Louisiana's Economy While Pandering To Religious Right

What's the definition of insanity, again? Isn't it something like doing something over and over again and expecting different results? Why yes, it is, but Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has no problem treading in the same water where Indiana Governor Mike Pence nearly drowned.

In an op-ed published in our favorite paper of record, Jindal shook his little fists at corporations who do business in Louisiana, telling them to "save their breath" rather than protest Louisiana's proposed RFRA law.
The legislation would prohibit the state from denying a person, company or nonprofit group a license, accreditation, employment or contract — or taking other “adverse action” — based on the person or entity’s religious views on the institution of marriage.

Some corporations have already contacted me and asked me to oppose this law. I am certain that other companies, under pressure from radical liberals, will do the same. They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me. As a nation we would not compel a priest, minister or rabbi to violate his conscience and perform a same-sex wedding ceremony. But a great many Americans who are not members of the clergy feel just as called to live their faith through their businesses. That’s why we should ensure that musicians, caterers, photographers and others should be immune from government coercion on deeply held religious convictions. READ MORE

Walker Goes To Minnesota, Gets Burned, Blames Democrats

On Thursday, Scott Walker went for another one of his taxpayer-funded non-campaign campaign jaunts. This time he went to Minnesota.

Now, keep in mind that for the past 4+ years - with the exception of professional and college football - Minnesota has been kicking Wisconsin's butt on just about every economic measure. The reasons are myriad, but the biggest four reasons are health care, minimum wage, unions and pay equality.
As one might expect, Walker was welcomed with a fair amount of taunting. However, it was R.T. Rybak, former mayor of Minneapolis, who gave Walker third-degree political burns:

In 2010, both Wisconsin and Minnesota faced similar budget woes and a worrisome economic future amid a national recession. Both are also Midwest states, deeply invested in manufacturing and agricultural economic drivers. The only difference was that Minnesotans elected DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to turn Minnesota around, while Wisconsinites chose Scott Walker to lead their state’s recovery.

Only one governor was successful.   READ MORE

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Explosive 2009 report from Tulsa reveals deep corruption concerning Deputy Bob Bates

This is a smoking gun concerning the millionaire Tulsa Reserve Deputy Bob Bates who shot and killed Eric Harris in March:

CBS News learned that in 2009, the Tulsa Sheriff's Office launched an internal investigation to find out if Bates received special treatment during training and while working as a reserve deputy. They also investigated whether supervisors pressured training officers on Bates' behalf.

The investigation concluded Bates' training was questionable and that he was given preferential treatment.

The investigation found that deputies voiced concerns about Bates' behavior in the field, almost from the very beginning. Bates reportedly used his personal car while on duty and made unauthorized vehicle stops. When confronted Bates said that he could do what he wanted, and that anyone who had a problem with him should go see the sheriff.
See the CBS News video on the newly revealed report below. It's clearly no longer speculation about whether or not Bob Bates and the Tulsa Sheriff's Department were abusing the system. Now it's a proven fact. READ MORE

$70,000 minimum pay turns out to be good for business

Remember Dan Price, the CEO who cut his own pay to raise the minimum annual pay at his company to $70,000? Turns out, that wasn't just a morally good thing to do, and Price doesn't have to wait for the longer-term payoff of increased productivity and reduced staff turnover—he's seeing an immediate payoff for Gravity Systems, his credit card processing company:

Price said the news has brought in dozens of new clients, making it the best week for new business in the company's 11-year history. The firm has about 15,000 clients and handles about $10 billion in payments every year.
If the burst of new clients continues, it could create new jobs—new good jobs—and let other businesses know that treating workers well can pay off. But it's important to remember that workers shouldn't have to get lucky with an amazingly good boss to make a decent living and be treated well. Good bosses go viral, but for more workers, this is the realityREAD MORE

Sheriff Arpaio's attorney quits during contempt hearing, former staff turn on the sheriff. UPDATE!

Sheriff Joe "pink underwear" Arpaio
Tuesday in Phoenix, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's civil contempt hearing began, and the first day was a doozie. US District Judge Murray Snow ordered Sheriff Arpaio to appear at the hearing because the bigoted blowhard had arrogantly defied the judge's orders following Melendres v. Arpaio. In that 2007 incident, argued by the ACLU, the court found that the sheriff's office did indeed use race as a determining factor in traffic stops and other detainments, the very definition of racial profiling.
Following the Melendres verdict in 2011, which was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court a year later, in 2013 Judge Snow ordered three major reforms: Arpaio must end his infamous immigration roundups (neighborhood "sweeps"), turn over video evidence from traffic stops, and install a court-appointed monitor to oversee compliance. Arpaio did none of this; in fact, he destroyed video evidence and continued his sweeps. Having run out of patience, last month Judge Snow, a George W. Bush appointee, ordered Arpaio and several key deputies to appear at this week's four-day contempt hearing.

Immediately after the judge announced the hearing, Sheriff Arpaio tried to buy his way out of the mess—admitting his guilt and promising to donate $100,000 to a civil rights organization if the judge would cancel the contempt hearing. Judge Snow said no and the proceedings began yesterday; he will decide if Arpaio and four key deputies are guilty of civil contempt or perhaps whether the case should move to a criminal phase.  

The hearing's first day was explosive, and not in a good way for the sheriff. First, his lead attorney resigned, stating a conflict of interest since he also works for Maricopa County.
Tom Liddy, one of Arpaio's attorneys, abruptly quit, citing a conflict of interest and saying he was "filing an application to withdraw from the case."
Another long-time Arpaio attorney, Tim Casey, had jumped ship back in November, leaving only one of the original three-person legal team. The worst turn for Sheriff Arpaio, however, was the testimony of two former deputies, who essentially said the sheriff willfully ignored Judge Snow's orders. "Willful" is key here, since it would lead to a criminal trial.  READ MORE