Oklahoma Needs Global Warming Plan
1 hour ago
In a devastating 5-4 ruling that not only condones an overreach of state power but legitimizes what is essentially state-sponsored humiliation and visual rape, the U.S. Supreme Court recently declared that any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be subjected to a strip search by police or jail officials without reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is carrying a weapon or contraband. The five-man majority rationalized their ruling as being necessary for safety, security and efficiency, the government's overused and all-too-convenient justifications for its steady erosion of our freedoms since 9/11.
This ruling stems from the case of Albert Florence who was erroneously arrested for failing to pay a traffic fine and forced to submit to two egregious strip and visual body-cavity searches at two different county jails. Ironically enough, the supposed crime for which Albert Florence was arrested (having an unpaid traffic fine) is not a criminal offense in New Jersey, while being strip searched for something other than a crime is a criminal offense. Florence, an African-American man in his mid-thirties, was on his way to Sunday dinner in 2005 with his then-pregnant wife and 4-year-old son when they were stopped by a New Jersey State Police trooper. Florence's wife was driving. However, after showing his ID, Florence found himself handcuffed, arrested and taken to jail. After spending six days in jail, Florence was finally able to prove his innocence.
Outraged, Florence sued the jail officials who had needlessly degraded his bodily integrity. A federal appeals court sanctioned the blanket strip search policy, which was then affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a nutshell, what Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, concluded was that it is impractical -- "unworkable" was the phrase used -- to expect overworked jail officials to have to take the time to distinguish between harmless individuals guilty of nothing more than driving without a seatbelt and those who pose a true threat and may be reasonably suspected of carrying drugs or weapons.
Tennessee’s law is not just out of the scientific mainstream, it falls outside the political mainstream as well. This year, legislators have tried and failed to pass similar legislation in multiple states, including New Mexico, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.
"The measure failed, 7-9, but it is not a final action," The Oklahoman reported, explaining that its sponsor, Sally Kern (R-District 84), "could ask the committee to bring it up again this session or next year." Kern is a persistent sponsor of antievolution legislation in Oklahoma, having sponsored a similar bill (HB 2107) and a similar resolution (HCR 1043) in 2006; neither passed. In the meantime, the antievolution bill in the Oklahoma Senate, SB 554, is still with the Senate Education Committee. A hybrid of the "academic freedom" antievolution strategy and the flawed Texas state science standards, SB 554 was introduced by Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who described it in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 24, 2010) as "requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution."
Although the bill is written to seem benign, as it neither specifically authorizes the teaching of creationism nor permits teachers to do more than criticize scientific theories “in an objective matter,” the practical impact of this bill will be to intimidate all but the heartiest of school administrators against disciplining teachers who preach the most outlandish junk science in their classrooms. Because the bill provides little guidance as to what constitutes an “objective” criticism of a scientific theory, any principal who reigns in teachers who force creationism or Pastafarianism upon their students risks finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.
In reality, of course, there are few, if any, “objectively” valid objections to the theory of evolution (or, for that matter, to global warming). Rather, as Travis Waldron explained when this bill passed a legislative committee nearly a year ago, “Scientists have reached a consensus that evolution is ‘one of the most robust and widely accepted principles of modern science,’ and as such, it is ‘a core element in science education.’”
In Arizona, for example, legislators had their anti-bullying bill teed up for passage in March. But then, Cathi Herrod, chief of a lobbying group associated with Focus on the Family, decidedthat the bill was really part of an effort to "force cultural acceptance and affirmation of homosexual lifestyles". Although the bill doesn't refer specifically to any one victimized group, Herrod successfully pressured lawmakers into rejecting it. Senate minority leader David Schapira, a sponsor of his Senate Bill 1462, called her a "legislative terrorist". "Cathi Herrod, an unelected lobbyist, killed a bill that would protect all Arizona kids purely because of her intolerance of gay kids," he said.
In Michigan last year, the "anti-anti-bullying" lobby went on the offensive with some legislation of their own. In a bill dealing with the bullying issue, they inserted a provision that would have exempted bullies who acted out of "a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction". With an irony that seems more than usually cruel, the bill was named for a Michigan teen who had committed suicide after years of bullying.
A national outpouring of disgust at the Michigan legislature's attempt to legitimize faith-based bullying ultimately resulted in the removal of the provision from the bill. But now the lawmakers of a Tennessee plan to make good on the loss. In what must count as an extraordinarily perverse way to mark the suicide of Jacob Rogers, they have introduced a bill that follows the trail blazed by the Michigan lawmakers, with some inconsequential changes in language, to open up a loophole for verbal bullying that is motivated by religious prejudices. Given that theTennessee legislature approved Bill 368, which is intended to bring "creationism" into the state's biology classrooms, on 26 March, the prospects for this anti-anti-bullying bill have to be considered good.
You can’t be outraged by — or fight back against — what you don’t know. At least that seems to be the theory behind a spate of new government-backed efforts to help corporations prevent inconvenient information from ever reaching the public domain. In states across the country, as in Washington, D.C., lawmakers are helping companies keep secrets in everything from factory farming to fossil fuel exploration to home foreclosures.
In five states, for instance, so-called Ag Gag laws are now on the books. Iowa just passed legislation that “criminalizes investigative journalists and animal protection advocates who take entry-level jobs at factory farms in order to document the rampant food safety and animal welfare abuses within,” according to the Atlantic’s Cody Carlson.
The impetus for such laws is obvious: After a series of damning videos of factory farms abusing animals, Big Ag faced a consumer backlash. But rather than make its facilities more humane, it has opted to spend its cash on lobbyists and court cases aimed at preventing the public from ever seeing the atrocities in the first place. Accomplishing that means pioneering new legal theories that threaten to set dangerous new precedents curtailing some of the most basic First Amendment freedoms we take for granted.
Over in the world of energy, it’s much the same thing. Last month in Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry successfully lobbied state legislators to ban physicians from telling patients what toxic fracking chemicals they may have been exposed to. As Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard reports, “While companies must disclose the identity and amount of any chemicals used in fracking fluids to any health professional that requests that information … the new bill requires those health professionals to sign a confidentiality agreement stating that they will not disclose that information to anyone else — not even the person they’re trying to treat.”
A US Geological Survey research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies.
According to the study led by USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth, the spike in earthquakes since 2001 near oil and gas extraction operations is “almost certainly man-made.” The research team cites underground injection of drilling wastewater as a possible cause.
“With gasoline prices at $4 a gallon, there’s pressure to rush ahead with drilling, but the USGS report is another piece of evidence that shows we have to proceed carefully,” said Dusty Horwitt, Senior Counsel and chief natural resources analyst at Environmental Working Group. “We can’t afford multi-million-dollar water pollution cleanups or earthquakes that could pose risks to homes and health.”
A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow."Curveball", the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi's lies used to justify the Iraq war.
The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as "facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence" by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.
But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him "we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie", he simply replies: "Yes."
US officials "sexed up" Mr Janabi's drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell's former chief of staff. "I brought the White House team in to do the graphics," he says, adding how "intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy".
You know how you can tell when we're winning? When the wingnuts go completely off the reservation and start lying through their tiny little teeth about their opposition. In this case, Planned Parenthood is the target, but they end up making themselves look like the fools and hypocrites they are.
Kristan Hawkins is Dobson's cohort in this radio clip. Kristan is the executive director of Students for Life, an organization dedicated to spreading guilt and hate ahead of its alleged message of love and peace for those Chosen Followers in The Light.
Here's why people like Kristan and Grampy Dobson drive me crazy. First they lie, and they extol liars like Lila Rose, who lied through her teeth and edited video dishonestly to make Planned Parenthood look like the Satan they think it is.
Fox News, GOP Pretend Ryan Plan Doesn’t Add Trillions to the Debt
The new House Republican budget unveiled by Congressman Paul Ryan last week does many things. Ryan’s so-called “Path to Prosperity” would deliver yet another massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy and pay for it by gutting the social safety net he pretends to protect.
“Ryancare” would end Medicare as we know it with a premium support gambit that would dramatically shift health care costs to America's seniors. While increasing defense spending, the House Budget Chairman would repeal the Affordable Care, slash Medicaid by a third and leave an estimated 48 million more people without health insurance. And despite his lofty pledges to eliminate many tax loopholes and deductions to fund his gilded-class giveaway, Paul Ryan doesn’t have the courage to say which ones.
Which is why the Ryan plan does not do the biggest thing it claims to achieve. Rather than reducing the U.S. national debt, Paul Ryan’s House GOP budget would bleed trillions in more red ink from the U.S. Treasury.
Nevertheless, as Heather of Crooks and Liars’ Video Café pointed out, Republicans and their water carriers at Fox News continue to pretend otherwise. On Sunday morning, Mike Huckabee aided GOP Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) in perpetuating that myth:
Overall Grade F: “The Path to Prosperity” from Representative Paul Ryan: --Destroys 900,000 jobs in 2012, cuts early childhood spending by 14 percent, takes away healthcare from millions of citizens, denies Pell Grants to 1.4 million students, dramatically reduces federal revenue, and provides large tax cuts to the wealthy.Later, and remember to visit us at
Overall Grade D+: Proposal from Erskine Bowles and former-Senator Alan Simpson: --Destroys over four million jobs over the next four years, dramatically cuts early childhood spending, forces long-term cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, cuts student aid by $48 billion over the next four years, permanently caps revenue, and significantly cuts future Social Security benefits.
Overall Grade C: “Deficit Reduction Plan” from President Obama: --Forgoes new stimulus for deficit reduction, raises no new corporate revenue, increases defense spending, protects education and low-income programs from cuts.
Overall Grade A-: “People’s Budget” from The Congressional Progressive Caucus: --Creates jobs with trillions spent in public investment, increases child care and Pell Grants, allows the government to negotiate drug prices, closes foreign tax loopholes and ends both the Bush tax cuts and deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2013.
Overall Grade A-: “Investing in America’s Economy” from Our Fiscal Security, a collaborative effort of Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, and The Century Foundation: --Favors immediate stimulus over deficit reduction until unemployment falls to six percent, creates jobs through trillions spent in public investment, provides universal early child care, reduces healthcare costs without increasing burdens on beneficiaries, and makes the tax code more progressive.
But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.
With the mainstream media in the hands of the mostly conservative and wealthy, it's difficult for average Americans to learn the truth about critical issues. The following five conservative claims are examples of the mythical beliefs that fall apart in the presence of inconvenient facts:
1. Entitlements are the Problem
Beyond the fact that we're "entitled" to Social Security and Medicare because we pay for them, these two government-run programs have been largely self-sustaining as they support the needs of millions of Americans.
Medicare is much less costly than private health care. Social Security, which functions with a surplus, would not be in danger of a long-term shortfall if the richest 10% (those making over the $106,800 cutoff) paid their full share.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported that 91% of entitlements go to the elderly or disabled, or to members of working households needing supplemental assistance. Only 9% of entitlement dollars go to non-working but employable individuals, and most of that is for medical care, unemployment, and survivor benefits.
2. Charter Schools Are the Answer
Free-market adherents have a lot of people believing that the public school system needs to be "saved" by charter schools. That belief is not supported by the facts. A Stanford University study "reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their traditional public school counterparts."
A Department of Education study found that "On average, charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress."
Charter schools also take money away from the public system. For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District loses nearly $7,000 in state money for each student who transfers to a charter. In Florida, the entire $55 million budgeted in 2011 for school maintenance went to charters. Governors in several states plan to direct money to schools that serve upper-middle-income families.
Furthermore, charter school teachers have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate, and according to one study were less likely to be certified.
Perhaps most damning are studies by the University of Colorado and UCLA, which found that some charter schools segregate students by race and income. Said researcher Gary Miron of Western Michigan University, "Parents are selecting schools where their child will experience less diversity."
3. Corporate Taxes Are Too High
This one is easy. The facts can be found in US Office of Management (OMB) figures, which show a gradual drop over the years in Corporate Income Tax as a Share of GDP, from 4% in the 1960s to 2% in the 1990s to 1.3% in 2010. That's one-third of what it used to be.
Also coming from the OMB is the percent of Total Tax Revenue derived from corporate taxes. The corporate share has dropped from about 20% in the 1960s to under 9% in 2010.
Finally, in a US Treasury report of global competitiveness, it is revealed that US corporations paid only 13.4% of their profits in taxes between 2000 and 2005, compared to the OECD average of 16.1%. A similar PayUpNow.org analysis of 100 of the largest US companies found that less than 10% of pre-tax profits in 2010 were paid in non-deferred US federal income taxes.
Corporate tax avoidance is rampant at the state level, too. A new study by Citizens for Tax Justice, which evaluated 265 large companies, determined that an average of 3% was paid in state taxes, less than half the average state tax rate of 6.2%.
4. Jim Crow is Dead
Even though white Americans are the nation's most frequent drug users and dealers, the people in jail for these offenses are overwhelmingly black. In some states, African Americans make up 80-90% of all drug offenders sent to prison.
As a nation, we lead the world in rates of imprisonment, and drug offenses have accounted for two-thirds of the increase in federal inmates.
Once drug users are in prison, they're stigmatized for life. As stated by Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow": "Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color 'criminals' and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind...Once you're labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination - employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, and exclusion from jury service - are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow."
5. Poverty Is Declining Everywhere
There's something disturbing about World Bank researchers using mathematical functions to determine who's living in poverty. But free-market fanatic, The Economist, liked the results, proclaiming that "poverty is declining everywhere."
That's easy to say when the World Bank gets to set its own poverty threshold, at $1.25 per day. The organization admits there was little change in the number of people living below $2 per day between 1981 and 2008. And almost half the world lives on less than $3 a day.
Another fact is that the rapid growth of China accounts for most of the global poverty changes. China is where hundreds of millions of starry-eyed young people went from zero income on the farms to a few dollars a day under oppressive factory working conditions. The GDP may show a decline in poverty, but a "quality of life" index wouldn't make that mistake.
6 and 7. Evolution and global warming don't exist.
These are just too preposterous for words.
Progressive activists continue to work toward the day when poverty is down everywhere, and minorities receive equal treatment, and education is properly funded, and tax subsidies rather than entitlements are minimized. But that day is being delayed by make-believe messages from the American conservative.