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Republican Perfidy Politics as Usual
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Republican Perfidy

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Washington state representative Jay Rodne, a republican legislator representing the town of Snoqualmie, has revealed his bigotry by releasing the following statement on social media. quote "Islam is incompatible with western civilization! How anyone people need to die? In the interim, Americans arm yourselves! unquote. In addition to showing us his poor sentence construction, he's also broadcast his ignorance and bigotry for all to see. America is already the most heavily armed country in the world, and he wants us to launch a war on Muslims in America, many of which are actually citizens of this country. Religious hatred has no place in America, and our elected leaders shouldn't be encouraging violence against any minority, religious or otherwise.
Governors across the country are quivering in their boots, loudly stating that they will not allow Syrian refugees to be settled in their states. Of course this fear is unfounded, as it is based upon fear and superstition regarding the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The persons involved in those attacks were in fact citizens of France and Belgium, and could have gotten into this country with nothing more than a tourist visa, while the people seeking to escape from the regional war in the Middle East are heavily vetted to prevent undesirable criminals from entering this country. Three quarters of these refugees are women and children.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, a great fear took hold of the easily frightened. Among those are the nearly thirty state governors, almost all Republican, who are so swept up in the fear that they're probably wearing adult diapers. These governors and the Republican House of Representatives have voted to not allow refugees fleeing the regional war in the middle east for fear that they might be terrorists come to kill us in our beds. I'm personally more afraid of the right wing gun nuts than I am the women and children seeking a better life for themselves. And since governors have no say in where anybody chooses to live, it's largely a symbolic vote, showing the world how afraid we can get when we don't think things through.
America was founded as a refuge, a safe place for those seeking escape from persecution in the land where they're from. Each new wave of immigrants has been belittled and marginalized in the process, from the blacks brought here as slaves, or the Irish fleeing famine, or the Italians, the Poles, the Slavs, and more, each coming to this country, seeking a better life for themselves and their families, eventually making it a better place. But now the easily scared want to raise walls to keep out those whose desperation cause them to flee their home countries. Most likely you are a descendant of immigrants. And immigrants have made this country great
At a recent debate, Republican candidates tripped over themselves telling us all of the governmental departments that they would shut down, all in the name of keeping taxes lower. They would eliminate the Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, Department of Community Affairs, and the Internal Revenue Service. Almost all that would be left of the federal budget is the Department of Defense, which gives us a larger military than the next ten militaries combined. If we really want to save money to keep taxes low, how about shaving a bit off of our ability to make war on any body at any time.
Listening to a Republican presidential debate is like traveling to an alternate universe, one with its own history and facts and arithmetic. For example, it continues to be a place where you can drastically lower taxes, spend more money on the military, not cut any spending that people will notice or miss, and still balance the budget. Similar policies may have led to the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression, but the Bush administration was a long time ago and no one remembers it any more.
Republicans love the fetus, but abandon the child. They love business, but hate workers. They support the soldier, but abandon the veteran. They love America, but hate Americans. They hate democracy, but want to live in a theocracy.
Whenever somebody demands new laws in response to a mass shooting, the right wing seeks to dismiss their activism by telling them that it's too soon to politicize the tragedy. Yet less than twenty four hours after the terrorist attacks in Paris, you had former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich tweeting that the terrorists could have been stopped if only Parisians had been as well armed as Americans. As if people with concealed pistols could have stopped determined people armed with automatic weapons and suicide belts.
After an attack such as the recent one that happened in Paris, the right wing offers seductively simple answers. If only we were more belligerent towards Muslims. If only we dropped more bombs, and if only we kept out the hoard of refugees. But the solution to our security issues won't be found in aerial bombings or drone strikes. I don't know what the answer is, but if somebody is selling you a simple solution, then somebody is trying to sell you snake oil.
President Obama took office during an epic recession, the worst in eighty years. It was so bad that Obama's entire presidential term has been spent crawling out of it with zero help from Republicans. In fact, the republicans did everything they could to hinder Obama's economic initiatives, obstructing every attempt to enact policies that could have helped the country recover. They spent the entire time throwing Obama's promise to unite the country back in his face, blaming him for failing to magically fix everything. That he has done so well in the face of such opposition says a lot for the democratic party's economic policies, compared to their republican counterparts.
The office of the Presidency of the United States is a position that requires diplomacy and finesse as well as determination. Now Republicans told us in 2008 that Barack Obama was untested, and unknowing, therefore unqualified to be president, as he had too little experience in political office. Fast forward a few years, and now the Republican front runners are all bereft of actual political experience, and all of the republican candidates are severely lacking in diplomacy. Each and every one of them is long on aggrieved petulance and short on measured strategy and nuance.
The new speaker of the House of Representatives is former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, known as the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver. Speaker Ryan has dedicated his political life to punishing the poor for their failure to become rich, including attempts to cut Social Security benefits for widows, the elderly, and the disabled, even though he received those same benefits when his own father died. His proposed budget would have doubled the interest on student loans and slashed grant money for students. And he wants to eliminate food stamps. Zombie Eyed Granny Starver indeed.
This week Republicans in the Senate passed a resolution that would roll back safeguards that protect the drinking water of one hundred seventeen million Americans. Bowing to the desires of large industrial farms and other big business groups, up to sixty percent of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands would now be open to waste dumping and pollution by those same business interests. Senate Republicans would rather allow the poisoning of water for one third of the country than prohibit big business from contaminating that same water. Remember that come election day.
Your new speaker of the House of Representatives is Paul Ryan, former vice presidential candidate. He said that he would take the job of speaker only if he were allowed to continue his life work balance, seeking to even out the time that he spent in the third most powerful elected position in U.S. government with his family time. This week he showed us exactly what he meant by dismissing calls for paid family leave for other people wanting to spend time with their new families. If you want something for yourself while denying it for others, you are in fact a hypocrite. And a republican.
In the last presidential election, Mitt Romney all but sabotaged his candidacy when he told a private group that forty seven percent of Americans are takers, looking for free stuff from the government. Well his number might be right, but those so called Takers are, in order, Retired, in school, homemakers, disabled, and not employed. These are the people who worked all their lives already, or are too young to work, or can't work for whatever reason, including the terrible economy. So sure, forty seven percent is a number, but there is no Randian demarcation between makers and takers.
A poll released by the Associated press indicates that a majority of republican voters think that Donald Trump is the most electable Republican candidate. Saying Donald Trump is the most electable candidate is like saying that glazed is the healthiest kind of doughnut.
Donald Trump said in an interview that Iraq is the Harvard of Terrorism, which might be true. The only reason that George W. Bush got into Iraq is because his dad went there.
When Republicans talk about spending cuts, they're talking about cutting federal spending on social welfare programs. When they talk about tax cuts, they're talking about lowering taxes on the already wealthy. They claim that the combination of tax cuts and spending cuts will reinvigorate the economy, creating a rising tide that will lift all yachts. But because this hasn't worked for any government that has tried it over the last thirty plus years, it seems more likely that it's a scam to further the agenda of the already super rich. Remember that come election time.
The GOP’s increasing preference for callow, reckless candidates represents a culmination of the anti-government, anti-politics, anti-intellectual direction of the conservative movement. Although it overlaps with the parties rightward shift, it presents a unique threat to American democracy because it espouses not mere preference for smaller government, but a visceral hatred of functioning government and the practice of politics. This mindset abhors concessions to objective reality, expertise, or political adversaries, both domestic and foreign.
We think that we elect people to congress to pass laws and institute policies that will make this country better, but if that's the standard, then the current crop of congress critters has failed to live up to our expectations. The current congress has passed only seventy one laws, fourteen of which have given names to designated federal buildings, post offices and highways. This congress has the lowest number of bills passed than any congress in history by far. Is it any surprise that both houses of congress have been controlled by the party that says that government can't work?
The Republicans who participated in the debate this last week are rising as one to decry the mean moderators with their gotcha questions, and the supposedly shoddy way that they were treated during the debate. The chairman of the Republican National Committee has vowed that NBC will not be allowed to host further debates because they were such meanies. The questions asked didn't seem far removed from those asked at the Democratic debate the week before, but the Republican candidates are throwing a tantrum, claiming that they weren't treated fairly. Well boo frickin hoo. If you take unpopular stands, or if your economic proposals simply don't add up, you should expect some push-back on those policies. If they sound mean to you, then maybe you're in the wrong line of work.
Let's talk about real issues for a moment. If you listen to the red side, you'd think that Planned Parenthood is kidnapping children off the streets in order to dismember them and sell they parts on the black market, that business can't operate under the onerous level of governmental regulation, that welfare is sapping the will of poor people to do actual work, and that there's a coming invasion of brown people from Mexico. The blue side wants to talk about real issues, like racism, gun violence, climate change, student debt, and the domination of our political processes by the super rich. One side wants to scare low information voters into their agenda, while the other side is trying to debate actual policies.
The democratic debates have been thoughtful and civil, if a bit wonky. Issues are discussed, positions are declared, and the next question comes up. In contrast, the republican debates are a reality show where the weakest is picked on and voted off the island, where insults are cast about, and then the discussion becomes about whose insult went over the line. What issues are discussed are of a trivial nature, reflecting the trivial nature of republican politics. I think that it's quite clear who should be in charge of government.
The democratic candidates for president had a debate this week, and it was amazing for what was not said. Nobody said anything racist, or lied about abortions, or insulted Rosie O'Donnell, or other significant parts of the American population. They did talk about issues that affect the American people, like guns and college debt, Syria and Social Security. In contrast, Mike Huckabee, who is definitely not a democratic candidate for president, attempted to steal the thunder of the debate by tweeting something racist about how Asian people eat dogs. Other than that, it was all grown up and reasonable. It was the exact opposite of the republican reality show that is playing on the other channel.
Again, the contrasts couldn't be clearer. Republicans think that America is a dystopian hell scape in which evil, violent foreigners are trying to kill us in our beds while jackbooted governmental thugs come to our homes to wrestle our guns from our cold dead fingers, with Planned Parenthood kidnapping children off the streets to dismember them and sell off the body parts. The Democrats see America as a powerful nation struggling with economic security and equality of its citizens, and seek to solve the very real problems of climate change and military crises around the world without plunging the world into global armed conflict. That, and they have to somehow have to work with an opposition party that would rather hasten in the end times than govern effectively.
Republicans seem to exist in a state of alternate reality. In a poll of registered Republican voters, eighty percent said that they approved of the job that George Bush did as president, and forty three percent said that they would vote for him for president if he were eligible to run in 2016. Now for me, George Bush has my coveted number one spot for worst president ever, narrowly edging out another noted war criminal Richard Nixon. Now this may be a reflection on the sorry state of candidates running on the Republican ticket for 2016, but I think that it's a knee jerk reaction to anything that smells of democratic policy. They'd even vote for the guy who plunged the country into two bloody and costly wars, destabilized the middle east, presided over the Katrina debacle, and looked the other way while his cronies looted, pillaged, and then destroyed the world's economies. Vote him for president? I think that George Bush should be tried for war crimes.
The Republican led shutdown of the federal government in 2013 cost the country an estimated twenty four billion dollars and stalled the creation of over one hundred thousand private sector jobs. These same republicans want to shut down the government again over the principle of funding health care for poor women. And because no member of the minority party will help elect any speaker of the house, the next speaker will be dependent on those same truly crazy congressmen in order to get elected to this office. That means that we should bet on the crazies shutting down the government again. You know, because it worked so well last time.
We must never forget the darkness that enveloped this country under the George Bush administration. We must never forget the callousness of Cheney, the anger of Ashcroft, the recklessness of Rice, the wantonness of Wolfowitz, the prevarications of Powell, the rapaciousness of Rumsfeld. We must never forget being told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, or “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” We must never the gay-bashing or the Swift-Boating. We must never forget Samuel Alito, John Roberts and the ideologues appointed to the federal district and appellate courts. We must never forget the abandoning of the Kyoto Protocol and the censoring of climate science. We must never forget how EPA Administrator Christine Whitman and Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill were chased out of the Bush administration for failing ideological purity tests. We must never forget Karl Rove. We must never forget the years of fear and smear.
You'd think that a pediatric brain surgeon would be a little more familiar with modern scientific concepts, but Doctor Ben Carson is out of touch with reality, let alone science. Doctor Carson has expressed doubts about the Big Bang origin of the universe, vaccine science, the biological roots of sexuality, and evolution, which he claims is a disinformation campaign perpetrated by the devil. He also confuses climate change with the weather. And he recently said, quote "Gravity, where did it come from? I mean, there are so many things" unquote. I sure wouldn't want this man operating on my kid's brain, let alone be president of my country, yet he is the front runner for that office in several polls conducted in early primary states.
Democratic senators have introduced a sweeping legislative package aimed at preventing guns from ending up in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. The proposed bill includes provisions to close loopholes in gun purchases, toughen up background checks in general, and provisions to try to shut down illegal gun sales. A similar legislative package was introduced in 2013 after the massacre of twenty school children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary, but the attempt failed due to republican blockage. This most recent attempt at common sense gun control also has almost no chance of getting past current republican obstruction, but it will put Republican senators on record as opposing even the most trivial of gun control legislation.
This week's hypocrite of the week comes from Indianna, where Republican state representative Judson McMillin has resigned from office after a video of him having sex with someone other than his wife was sent from his stolen phone to persons on his contact list. Representative McMillin was a family values tea party republican, and had sponsored anti-gay bills under the guise of religious freedom. He wanted to drug test welfare recipients, and has voted to strip funding from Planned Parenthood. He was also responsible for blocking a bill that would have made distributing revenge porn illegal, a law that might have spared him the embarrassment of the leaked video. Congratulations former Representative McMillin. You are a hypocrite.
Donald Trump says that he gets by on less than four hours of sleep at night. I know that I stay up late at night worrying and unable to sleep whenever I think of the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president.
Another Republican debate this week, and another display of full on crazy. Republicans want to change the constitution to abolish the fourteenth amendment, and to make abortion illegal. They want to deport people born in this country because their parents weren't. They want to make the personal beliefs of low level government employees the supreme law of the land. They want weaponized drones to patrol the borders of Mexico and Canada. They want to deport millions of people without paying for it. They want to wage war against Syria, Iran, and probably San Francisco. They want to cut taxes on the already obscenely wealthy. What they don't want to talk about is anything remotely considered serious policy. Not climate change, not income inequality, not gun control, not the militarization of the police, nothing in the way of solutions for the very real problems that face this country. And these were the grown up candidates. The really crazy ones were on an earlier debate stage. One can only be thankful that they are polling lower than the merely sort of crazy ones.
Lately, FOX news has been playing up the idea of a war on cops. They've declared that the Black Lives Matter movement is a terrorist organization that is targeting police officers for assassination. But like anything broadcast on FOX news, one has to ask, what's the truth here? 2015 is on pace to see thirty five felonious killings of police officers. That would make it the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades. Or you could look at the number of cops killed per number of cops total, and guess what? The number is low and getting lower. You can look at the number of cops killed as a fraction of the population. Low, and getting lower. So not only is there no war on cops, but President Obama's remarks about how Travon Martin could have been his son is not inflaming black people to begin murdering cops. Remember, if you see it on Fox, it's bound to be a lie.
Pope Francis visits America this week, and will deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. Arizona Republican congressman Paul Gosar, who describes himself as a "proud Catholic", says that he will boycott the pope's speech, because the pope's message deviates from conservative talking points on climate change, economic inequality, abortion, homosexuality, and religious freedom. Gosar says that it is his responsibility to call out religious leaders who are wrong about policies that he disagrees with. So who elected this guy pope?
One of my simple rules about how I vote on political issues is as follows. If Tim Eyman is for it, I'm against it. It's a rule that has served me well for many years. After all, Eyman makes his living from kickbacks from people paying for initiatives that espouse conservative dream laws. Eyman made over three hundred thousand dollars as personal income in 2012 for his efforts at passing an initiative that year. The initiative passed and was voted into law, but was held unconstitutional the following year. Now him getting money for his efforts is not illegal, but I recognize that he's in the initiative passing business, and as long as somebody will pay, and apparently pay well, for his special brand of huckstering, I for one will always be voting against whatever Tim Eyman is for.
One of the oft repeated lies that John Ellis Jeb Bush repeated at the debate this week was that his brother George kept us safe during his tenure as president. This is only true if you ignore that one day in September of 2001 when he was president, or those several days when New Orleans drowned. He most pointedly did not keep us safe. And after we were attacked, George launched two wars, one of which was not only optional, but illegal and unnecessary. Attacking Iran for nine eleven would have been like Franklin Roosevelt attacking Brazil for Pearl Harbor. So no, George didn't keep us safe while he was president, and Jeb can't claim that he'll do the same while he, god forbid, is president.
Carly Fiorina, Republican candidate for president, says that even Democrats can't think of anything of substance accomplished by Hillary Clinton, even though she's been in public service for over forty years, but here's a few to remember. She finalized the START treaty reducing nuclear weapons with Russia. She worked with China on climate change. She negotiated treaties for women's rights, procured funding for nine eleven first responders, made adopting easier, and initiated the sanctions on Iran that set the table for negotiations regarding restrictions on its nuclear program. In fact, every accomplishment in foreign policy during Obama's first term is directly attributable to Hillary Clinton. For crying out loud, she was a U.S. senator as well as a Secretary of State. She's got more experience than any of the Republican candidates. Compared to Fiorina's own governmental accomplishments, which are non-existent, this is pretty rich. Even Ms. Clinton's eventual failed effort to implement universal heath care is more substantial than anything Ms. Fiorina has accomplished.
Steve Jobs is in the news this week, even though he died four years ago. As the right wing continues to demonize immigrants, both legal and otherwise, it's useful to remember that Steve Jobs represents what this country is supposed to be about. You see, Job's father was a political refugee from Syria, who came to this country to make a better life for himself. That his son was able to co-create the Apple computer company shows how much immigrants and their children can contribute to this country. What we get instead is knee jerk fear mongering about the muslum hordes come to kill us in our beds.
Here's something that surprised me. Most of the republican candidates running for president have spoken at about a seventh or eighth grade level during the debates. The two outliers to this measurement? It's no surprise that Donald Trump is one of them, at a fifth grade vocabulary level. What did surprise me was that Ted Cruz is the most sophisticated speaker, speaking at a tenth grade level. Maybe that's why Donald Trump tried to show us his creative use of the dictionary when he used the word Braggadocio at the last debate.
By any measure, there were a number of whoppers told by Republican presidential candidates at the last debate. By one person's measure, Trump won with six outright lies. Fiorina, Christie, and Cruz had two or three, with only one lie to count for Paul, Huckabee, and Carson. Bush, Walker, Rubio, and Kasich didn't tell any fibs at all. Maybe it's because they didn't talk as much as the others.
A political party's platform is a statement of policies that that party wishes to implement. Democrats are in favor of things like paid family leave, making child care and college more affordable for more people, promoting equal pay for equal work, protecting voting rights, addressing climate change, implementing common sense gun possession laws, instituting Wall Street reform, and ending the war in Iraq. I think that it's fair to say that the Republican party is in favor of none of those things. They are in favor of tax cuts for the rich, implementing trade agreements with other countries that export jobs, denying some couples the right to marry, making certain religious sects the official law of the land, and denying people of color the right to vote. And let's not forget the concept of making abortion, for any reason whatsoever, a crime. I could go on, but really, do I need to? There is not a single republican policy that I agree with.
In what perhaps are the scariest eleven words ever spoken in the english language, Sarah Palin wants to be Energy Secretary under President Donald Trump. She claims to have special expertise owing to the two years that she spent as governor of Alaska, a state rather reliant on extraction of natural resources. In typical Palin speak, she said that quote I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby. Oil and gas and minerals, those things that god has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind's use. unquote. She also promised to immediately dissolve the agency, devolving control of natural resource extraction to the individual states. As Energy Secretary, Ms. Palin would be in charge of the safety and security of the country's nuclear weapons. One shudders to think of a nuclear weaponized Sarah Palin.
Trump is currently polling at 32% among voters with no college degree, and only 8% among voters with a college degree. That’s quite a split. It’s worth noting that Republicans who consider themselves Tea Party members are more likely to have gone to college than other Republicans.
After his racist remarks about Mexicans resulted in Donald Trump being fired from future episodes of the reality show Celebrity Apprentice, the TV network NBC set about looking for a replacement host for the popular program. Almost hired for the position was Hispanic comedian George Lopez. So finally Donald Trump's worst nightmare has come true. A Mexican has come into this country and taken his job.
Republicans wrecked the economy, then complain that Obama hasn't fixed it fast enough. They blew a hole in the federal deficit with two unnecessary wars put on the country's credit card, then complain because Obama hasn't balanced the budget yet. They negotiated the exit of troops from these wars and then complain that Obama hasn't left enough soldiers behind. Iran created a nuclear weapons program under their watch, then complain that Obama's nuclear deal isn't good enough. And enough people believe them to encourage them into further histrionics. I'm amazed that republicans aren't laughed out of polite company as they deserve to be, let alone be taken seriously in any political debate.
Donald Trump has famously said that quote when I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I'm basicly the same. The temperament is not a whole lot different. unquote. Now when Trump was in the second grade, he punched his music teacher. I for one can't think of many first graders that I'd like to see as president, can you?
John Ellis Bush, more commonly known as Jeb, released his tax proposal in a New York Times op ed, and in it he says that there is no problem bedeviling this country that can't be solved with huge tax cuts for the already obscenely wealthy. High Unemployment? Tax cuts. Low GDP growth? Tax cuts. Cancellation of your favorite TV show? Tax Cuts. Jeb promises to lower tax rates on rich individuals and corporations even more than his brother did, and we all know how that wound up. He has also promised to raise the Social Security retirement age from sixty seven to seventy in order to pay for the cuts. It's son of voodoo economics with a pinch of fairy dust, and hasn't worked any of the other times we've tried it since the Reagan administration.
The details of Jeb Bush's tax plan are coming out. It's expected that the loss of federal revenue due to the reduced taxes on mostly wealthy people will cost the government three point four trillion dollars over the next ten years. And that might even be true. But Jeb's expectation is that these tax cuts will supercharge the economy in such a way that federal revenues will actually be greater than those lost over that decade. This hasn't worked any of the other times its been tried, but maybe this time will be different. And if you think that it'll work, then I've got some swampland that I'd like to sell to you as well.
The Tax Foundation is a conservative outfit that is predisposed to like Jeb Bush's tax plan. They predict that the tax cuts on the already wealthy would quote greatly increase the U.S. economy's size in the long run, leading to higher incomes for all taxpayers at all income levels unquote. But it turns out that some incomes are preferred to others. Care to guess which ones? The poor and middle class would receive less than three percent tax reductions, while the wealthy would receive almost twelve percent lower taxes. And that's a percentage. The actual dollar figure of tax breaks would be greater still. The rich would make out very well under a Bush tax plan.
Twenty eight congressmen, and they're all republican men, have signed a letter pledging to vote against any bill that funds the federal government if there is any money for Planned Parenthood in the bill. They are willing to shut down the federal government if there is any money at all for birth control, cancer screenings, or STD treatment. There is no federal money going towards abortion. None. So how is this fight important enough to shut down the government? Republicans have been trying to defund Planned Parenthood since the Reagan administration. What makes this fight so important now?
A new CNN poll shows Donald Trump with over thirty percent support among likely republican voters. Ben Carson comes in second with nineteen percent. Neither has ever held a political position in their lives.
Dick Cheney was recently called out on his administrations dealing with a nuclear Iran by Fox News of all entities. Chris Wallace of Fox News forced Cheney to admit that the count of centrifuges in Iran used to build nuclear weapons went from zero to five thousand on the Bush Cheney watch. Cheney tried to blame Obama for this predicament, but Wallace continued to insist that it was the previous administration that was responsible. For that matter, North Korea also developed nuclear weapons on Cheney's watch. So why are we even listening to this man today?
It's really just too easy to pick on Donald Trump, but the man is the front runner for the republican nomination for president, so I need to take him seriously. However the man is a walking pie hole of spew. He recently said that he always felt like he'd been in the military because of his education at an exclusive military themed prep school. Trump received draft deferments that kept him out of the Vietnam conflict, and has recently made fun of Senator John McCain, who not only served in Vietnam, but was shot down, captured, and tortured while prisoner. That Trump can call into question the service of someone who actually served while saying that his going to high school is just like being in the military is appalling. Mrs McNasty wonders if he had some sort of head trauma at this elite high school that makes him say whatever pops into his mind.
In news that can only be described as win win, Texas republican Representative Louie Gohmert has pledged to resign from congress if the treaty limiting Iran's nuclear capabilites is allowed to be implemented. Now this is the best news I heard all week. The treaty exchanges restrictions on Iran's nuclear weapons program for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions on that country. Republicans each and every one are opposed to this deal, and would be much happier to have Iran bombed back into the stone age, but they lack enough votes in congress to block the deal, so they're holding their breath and throwing tantrums trying to get their way.
This week the House Judiciary Committee held hearings titled quote Planned Parenthood Exposed - Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider unquote. Pointedly not invited? Any representatives from Planned Parenthood itself. The people who were invited to testify were a who's who of people who think that abortion is icky if not illegal, immoral, and fattening. Yes, planned parenthood provides abortion services, but they also offer birth control, cancer screenings, STD treatments, and general health care for both men and women. Defunding planned parenthood will result in more abortions, more cancer deaths, and higher STD rates. Maybe it's time for Republicans in congress to leave gynecology to real doctors, and social planning to people who actually care about society, and not just scoring cheap political points.
The federal Department of Education was famously one of the two Federal Departments that Rick Perry could remember during his famous oops moment at a debate in 2012. In fact, almost all of the republican presidential candidates would eliminate the Department of Education, likening it unfavorably to a Federal School Board. Marco Rubio, also republican for president, said that, because the game Minecraft was teaching kids to code, they should play Minecraft in order to learn cutting edge modern computer skills. Marco Rubio also likes hip-hop, and knows what Netflix is. At age 44, Rubio is the second youngest candidate for president, with Deez Nuts being the youngest.
So yes, Donald Trump is a fascist, calling for a wall, a moat, and probably alligators to protect us from the hoard of rapist Mezcans. But here are some policies of Trump's that I actually agree with. I know, shocking, right? Trump has called for an increase in Social Security payments. He has called for campaign finance reform, pointing out the toxic effects of money in politics. Trump thinks that the rich should pay more taxes to support the country, and has supported universal health care. Trump has also worked with unions in his casino properties. I still wouldn't want to see him become president, since he's still a racist thug, but I can see why the Republican elite is pulling out all the stops to derail his candidacy.
One of the issues that unites almost all Republicans is the hatred of the concept of political correctness. Somehow the idea that you would choose your words carefully in order to not offend is somehow a stifling of their free speech. But what really puts their underoos in a bunch is not being able to call black people what they used to call them, or Hispanics, or gays. The right wing wants their hate speech back, and will hold their breath until they turn redder if they can't use the disparaging language your racist uncle isn't afraid to use. Political correctness isn't the thought police coming in to tell you what you can or can't believe. You're free to be politically incorrect and to say what you want about whomever you want, but we're also free to think you a bigot, and to call you out on your bigotry.
Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and Scott Walker asks why not build another wall between the U.S. and Canada? Now I think that it's funny that the political party that won't raise taxes to pay for critical infrastructure like roads and bridges in this country wants to build seven thousand miles of walls along our borders. At least you can drive on a road, and bridges help you cross water. All a wall will do is help republicans run for office.
Current governor of New Jersey and republican candidate for president Chris Christie has proposed using the same technology that FedEx uses to track packages in its care to track the location of foreigners in this country. He's gone so far as to say that he would ask the CEO of FedEx to join his cabinet as some sort of Secretary of Foreigner Tracking to devise the system. Now I imagine that his system would be like the one used by FedEx to track packages, in that he would tattoo bar codes on people visiting this country, or maybe he would install chips into their bodies, you know, like we do for dogs. Then he would install scanners at every major intersection so that the location of all non-citizens, and maybe someday just everybody, could be tracked by the government at all times. If only we had an ready and handy example of a government that tattooed identification numbers on people to keep track of them. Perhaps then we could see how stupid this idea truly is.
The Koch brothers walk into a bar with Ayn Rand and Rand Paul. The bartender gets them their drinks, but because there were no government regulations anymore, the alcohol was unsafe to drink. And they died.
Citing its commitment to sustainability as well as the significant environmental impact of disposable plastic water bottles, the national parks service has banned such bottles from park environs. Before the ban, plastic bottles made up a fifth of the solid waste generated in national parks. Yet this week Representative Keith Rothfus, a Republican from Pennsylvania, snuck in a last minute amendment to an appropriations bill that forbids the park service from banning such plastic bottles. Rothfus claims that banning plastic bottles full of pricey purchased water puts park visitors at risk of dehydration, but it's also possible that campaign contributions from bottled water manufacturers had a say in his legislative action.
Donald Trump is the collective voice of every ill-informed wingnut CSPAN caller combined with your grandfather’s email forwards.
Former secretary of state and democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton compared republicans to terrorists this week, pointing out that republicans have extreme views about women, similar to the views of some terrorist groups. She criticized Marco Rubio for bragging about being against abortion even in cases of rape or incest. She blasted John Kasich for withholding funds for rape crisis centers that referred victims to abortion providers, and she noted that all of the republican candidates sought to defund Planned Parenthood. Now Fox news is demanding that she apologize, and called her a sociopath. Considering that the republican front runner is Donald Trump, it seems that the criticism from Missus Clinton is kind of weak tea. After all, republicans are in fact religious extremists who pride themselves on making women's lives miserable and less safe. Clinton's words only call attention to the importance of protecting institutions that support women's health.
The more time that Donald Trump spends in the public eye, the less amusing his candidacy becomes. Yet he leads the polls and is currently the front runner for the Republican nomination for president. As vile as the things he says are, he is currently drawing perhaps a third of the electorate who say that they will vote for him. Two men in Boston beat a Hispanic man near to death, and told police that Donald Trump was right about illegal immigrants. All the Donald would say is that the people who are following him are very passionate, that they love this country and they want this country to be great again. It turns out that Donald Trump is a fascist, plain and simple.
If you believe the republicans running for president, you'd think that we live in a blighted hell scape filled with Mexican rapists and Muslim terrorists trying to kill us while flying in to drop anchor babies, where Hillary Clinton helps reload their assault rifles while the traitor Barack Obama secretly takes away our own guns so as to leave our wives and daughters helpless against the hordes of the darker hued. But the truth is uglier than that. You are much more likely to be killed by polluted air and water, by the militarization of the police, by the gun culture that kills dozens of people a day. But saying that won't get you face time on Fox news. Saying that won't win you a republican primary. And speaking out on the things that will kill you will cause the campaign contributions from the corporations that don't want you to hear the truth to dry up like a California drought. If only we could work on the real problems in this country, and not the made up ones that are intended to scare you into voting for republicans.
Some lawmakers in Ohio are pushing for a law in that state that would ban abortion if the operation were to be performed in order to avoid having a baby who would have Down Syndrome. Persons with the syndrome, which is caused by an additional twenty first chromosome, typically suffer from mental impairment and stunted growth. The legislation is expected to pass, and would almost certainly be signed into law by Governor John Kasich, a republican who just so happens to be running for president. Over the past four decades since the Supreme Court made abortion legal, dozens of states have erected barriers to abortion, such as waiting periods, vaginal probe ultrasounds, or mandating stern lectures by doctors. However, laws banning the procedure based on motivation are far less common, and would certainly run afoul of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe V Wade.
The world has turned its attention to a ten year old girl from Paraguay who became pregnant after being raped by her step father. Now Paraguay has rather strict anti abortion laws, and the young girl was not allowed to terminate the pregnancy. Ten years old, raped by her step father. Why is this of interest today? Because republican presidential candidate and former Fox news contributor Mike Huckabee said that Paraguay has the right idea. He says that it would be a double tragedy to take another life. Huckabee explained that there are two victims here. One was the girl who was raped and the other was the child that she gave birth to. Huckabee seems to care more about the fetus than the girl that carried it, and is more concerned with the guilt that the girl mother would feel in years to come knowing that she killed her child. Now I'm more concerned with the girl right now having to give birth to her rapist father's baby. Maybe you think that abortion is a sin and should be a crime, but look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if this might be some kind of exception in your eyes. If you don't think so, then the monster is indeed looking back at you.
Supporters of Donald Trump flooded Megyn Kelly with death threats after the debate because of course they did. And because Fox News needs the Donald more than the Donald needs Fox News, Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News called Trump to apologize for Kelly's bad behavior. After all, twenty four million people watched Fox for the debates, the largest cable audience ever. There's no way that Fox turns down that kind of money.
The fourteenth amendment to the constitution guarantees the right of American citizenship to all persons born in this country. It's only natural that the republican candidates for president would be against it. Donald Trump, the front runner for the republican nomination, wants to repeal the fourteenth amendment, claiming that it allows women to fly into this country on tourist visas, timing the trip so that they give their children American citizenship. Lindsay Graham described the women as droppin' babies unquote, like babies are a litter of puppies or something. Strangely enough, Piyush Bobby Jindal is also in favor of repealing the amendment, even though, as the child of immigrants himself, he would no longer be a citizen and therefore would not be eligible to become president.
Ben Carson is yet another republican presidential candidate, but he's just a bit different. For one, he's not a lawyer or professional politician. He is in fact a pediatric neurosurgeon. And while he is just as much in favor of shutting down Planned Parenthood as any other person running for president as a republican, Doctor Carson has himself used human fetal tissue for medical research. That's right. Ben Carson was for fetal tissue research before he was against it. Of course the supposed controversy created by the heavily edited videos of a Planned Parenthood staffer discussing tissue harvesting is less about the use of human fetal tissue for research than it is an attempt to use something that makes people uncomfortable to justify the elimination of an organization that gives medical services, including birth control, to poor women.
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee does not like abortion, not one little bit. The one time fox news analyst says that the U.S. Constitution bans abortion from the moment of conception, and that he would use federal troops and the U.S. military to prevent women from killing their un-born babies. This would put him at odds with the Supreme Court of the United States, which has ruled that women are in charge of their own reproductive choices for the first twenty weeks of the fetus's life, as well as the opinions of a majority of Americans. However, opposition to abortion at any time under any circumstance remains a firm plank in the republican party's platform, as well as all of the republicans running for president.
Scott Walker is currently the governor of Wisconsin as well as a leading republican presidential candidate. This week Governor Walker is set to hand up to four hundred fifty million dollars of taxpayer's money to the billionaire owners of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, money that will allow them to build a new arena for the team. Governor walker cut almost that same amount of money from the state's education budget, meaning that he is taking money from kids going to school and giving the cash to the billionaires that are funding his presidential campaign. Wisconsin will have a state budget shortfall of some two hundred eighty million dollars this year, or half of what he will be giving to his buddies.
Rick Perry, now two time republican candidate for president has seen his fortunes and poll numbers fall after last weeks debate. His campaign seems to be out of money as well, and now news is out that he has stopped paying staffers at his national headquarters as well as staff in early primary states. Perry's campaign manager has told staff that they are free to look for other jobs. So one less republican in the clown car. One might think that a campaign without money is doomed, but this is not the case. Because big money talks loudest in politics, Perry will be able to continue campaigning because his super pack will continue to fund his message if not his campaign, even if by law Perry is not allowed to coordinate this effort.
Each and every one of the republican candidates for president are in favor of making abortion illegal, under any circumstance and would be forbidden under all conditions. Not a pregnancy due to rape or incest, and not even if the pregnancy is a threat to the life of the woman. And certainly not because a responsible woman decides that she doesn't wish to be pregnant. You know. Her choice. The idea that a woman should be coerced by the state to carry a pregnancy to term even at the risk of her life is sheer barbarism.
While Hillary Clinton, the front runner for the democratic nomination for president spent the week issuing actual statements about policy, including a new plan to make college education more affordable for more people, Donald Trump, the front runner for the republican nomination for president spent his time insulting a female fox news reporter and females in general. This is our modern democracy. On one side a debate of policy, on the other a reality show of contestants trying to out misogenize each other.
When republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio doesn't want to talk about climate change, he uses the excuse that he isn't a scientist, and therefore can't make policy or have an opinion on the subject. But when the policy is abortion, all of a sudden he's the second coming of Bill Nye the science guy, claiming that science has all but declared that life begins at conception. This week he offered a petition that you can sign if you agree that human embryos cannot become cats. I know. It doesn't make sense to me either.
This week had two debates of republican candidates for president sponsored by their propaganda arm Fox news. If you missed it, just imagine sitting down to two thanksgiving dinners with your racist uncle, then multiply by seventeen. Scott Walker bragged about trying to defund planned parenthood before defunding planned parenthood was cool. Mike Huckabee compared the body parts of a fetus to the body parts of a Buick. Lindsey Graham pledged to invade Iran, Iraq, Columbia, and maybe San Francisco, in no particular order. Carly Fiorina called for Apple and Google to cooperate with government spying. Rick Santorum compared gay marriage to slavery. Bobby Jindal says that immigration without assimilation is invasion. Rick Perry says that Rick Perry is the medicine that the country needs. And Donald Trump threatened the female moderator of the debate, and later implied that she was menstruating. Make no mistake here. These are thoroughly dangerous people that want to lead the country. Back to eighteen fifty from the sound of it.
International beer day reminds me that even at my drunkenist I wouldn't say anything that Donald Trump says sober.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, hinted that he might run for president. He opened up his first campaign office, and then opened another one right across the street.
New Jersey governor and republican candidate for president Chris Christie displayed a rather interesting interpretation of the phrase "bully pulpit" recently. When asked what national organization deserves a punch in the face, he didn't laugh off the stupidity of the question. Instead, his answer was the National Teachers Union. This because the union had the audacity to endorse Hillary Clinton for president in the presidential race. As if a union seeking better pay and working conditions for its workers somehow deserved violence instead of political engagement.
Republicans simply don't care about governing. When asked how he would fix the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, Trump says that he'd repeal it and replace it with something terrific. How would Trump deal with people in this country without green cards? He'd just round them up and get rid of them. This is a pattern with republicans. Climate change? Deny it exists. Obama's diplomatic initiatives? Oppose them. Terrorism? Talk tough but avoid specifics. This isn't governance. It's simply contrarianism. They are devoid of ideas except for denial that there are real problems that need addressing. Governance requires leadership and compromise. Modern republicans are incapable of either.
Crime has actually decreased since hitting peaks in the eighties and nineties. But Donald Trump, republican front runner for president, thinks that crime is so rampant that we need to give police more power to protect us. And if a few black or poor people are killed as part of the increase of police power, well that's just the price that we as a society pay for law and order.
Perhaps you remember Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas as the leader behind the letter that Senate Republicans sent to the government of Iran trying to scuttle the deal to restrict the nuclear program of that country. He claimed this week that he had found a secret side deal with Iran, a deal that would be against the best interests of the United States. White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed this idea with a comparison to the Austin Powers movies. As the information that Senator Cotton claims to have discovered is available on the documents published on the government's web site, Josh Earnest dismissed Senator Cotton as an International Man of Mystery who found what was already publicly available.
Piyush Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana and republican candidate for president has suspended his states medicaid services contract with Planned Parenthood of Louisiana in response to a heavily edited video that purports to show an officer of that organization scheming to sell aborted baby parts to medical researchers. This despite the fact that Planned Parenthood doesn't sell baby parts, and that neither of the Planned Parenthood clinics in his state offer abortions. On the other hand, Jindal did expect a big enough bump in the polls from this action to get himself a seat at the big kids table for the top tier presidential candidates debate series. Dropping Planned Parenthood Medicaid might not be the wisest thing that Jindal has ever done. After all, Louisiana ranks first in the country for HIV cases, second in the country for gonorrhea infections and fourth for chlamydia infections, and has the eighth highest teen birth rate in the nation. Maybe Louisiana should be giving more money to groups that try to fight these problems rather than less.
As if a Donald Trump presidency wouldn't be bad enough, this week he said that he would definitely ask Sarah Palin for advice, possibly including a cabinet post. He said that everybody loves Palin because she's smart and tough, and that she's a special person. I think that a Trump Palin ticket could be the thing that would bring Jon Stewart out of retirement. Speaking of Palin, this week she claimed that Planned Parenthood is deadlier to Blacks than the confederate flag. The graphic of this assertion has four point four million likes on Facebook.
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley has called for a constitutional amendment to protect every citizen's right to vote. This in response to republican efforts to deny the vote to poor people and people of color across the nation. Pointing out that republicans have introduced eighty bills in twenty nine states in the past year to inhibit voting, O'Malley said what we all think: that it's political gamesmanship, because the poor, the disabled, and minorities predominantly vote democratic. As governor of Maryland, O'Malley oversaw the creation of an on line voter registration system, and signed legislation allowing same day voter registration.
In 2013 the republicans in congress threatened to shut down the government over the affordable care acts birth control mandate. This last march they held up a bill that would have stopped human trafficking because it could have allowed private funding for abortions. And now they're promising to shut down the government again if planned parenthood isn't deprived of federal funding. Let's be clear. There is no zero zilch nada federal tax dollars paying for abortion. It's been illegal to dedicate federal tax dollars for abortion funding for over forty years. The latest quasi scandal about the donation of fetal tissue for research is simply theater to further the republicans goal of defunding women's health care. plain and simple.
Phil Gramm, a three term republican senator from Texas, recently decried the shabby treatment received by his friend Edward Whitacre, who retired as CEO of AT&T with a retirement package of one hundred and fifty eight million dollars. Gramm said quote It’s the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in America, and that’s bigotry against the successful. My friend Ed Whitacre at AT&T, if there’s ever been an exploited worker, even though they made a big deal about him getting seventy five million dollars when he retired, the man added billions of dollars of value, he was exploited, it was an outrage!
The government of the state of Kansas has embraced supply side economics with a fervor. The policy of reducing taxes on the wealthy while cutting services hasn't been implemented to such a degree anywhere else in the country. So how's that working out? School districts in Kansas are seeing a record number of teaching positions going unfilled, and are beginning to hire teachers that are not accredited. The number of openings for teaching positions is double what it was just last year. As teacher pay is low and schools are underfunded, perhaps it's no surprise that people don't want to work for crappy wages in inadequate facilities. Neighboring states are taking out ads, hoping to lure teachers from Kansas to states where their pay would be higher. And while republican governor Sam Brownback refuses to comment on what is expected to be the worst teacher shortage in the nation in just a few years, school districts are forced to hire the people that will work for those wages, as opposed to the best people for the position. Would you want your kids taught by teachers that couldn't a find better position anywhere else?
Perhaps you don't remember the comic strip Bloom County. It hasn't been seen in newspapers in twenty five years. However author Berkeley Breathed seems to think that the upcoming presidential election is too tempting a comical target to pass up, and will begin penning the strip this year. Apparently Bloom County has been skewering Donald Trump for too long to resist the opportunity once again.
The republican clown car will start rolling down the highway on August sixth, as all seventeen announced candidates for president will participate in one of two different debates, hosted by FOX news. The top ten polling politicians will take the stage in the evening, while those candidates not in the top ten will debate earlier in the day. Donald Trump, the uninhibited id of the republican party, is currently the front runner, and will be on full display during prime time. I'm almost tempted to watch it just to see what the Donald will be peddling, but I'm not sure my television can handle me throwing things at it.
Piyush Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana and candidate for the republican nomination for president seems to be of two minds when it comes to gun violence and mass shootings. When a white right wing extremist wounded nine people and killed three in a shooting at a theater in Louisiana, he said that quote now is not the time unquote to talk about gun control, and that we should spend our energy praying for the victims. But when a young Americanized Jordanian man killed five service members, he tried to pin the violence on President Obama not telling the truth about our supposed war against Islamic forces coming to kill us in our beds. Apparently lone wolf killers are only evil when they're mentally ill Muslims, and not when they're right wing extremists. The Islamists apparently represent a mortal danger to us all and we must do everything in our power, including go to war, to stop them, while there's nothing we can do about white guys with guns without sacrificing important principles we hold dear. But the victims are just as dead, despite the ideology of the people who killed them.
A new poll from the Pew Research center has nothing but bad news for republicans as they head into 2016. Sixty percent of those polled have a negative view of the republican party, and sixty four percent say that they would not under any circumstances vote for current front runner Donald Trump. And while most people surveyed say that the republican party is too extreme, the republican base is unhappy because the party isn't extreme enough. It turns out that Trump's is a voice that speaks to the nativist base republicans who are growing more disenchanted with establishment party members. And that extremity is turning off a huge fraction of the potential electorate.
Rick Perry, two time candidate for the republican presidential nomination, says that he has a solution for mass shootings in movie theaters. He says that gun free zones are a bad idea, and that everybody should be packing heat, but only if they're properly trained and vetted by local governments. It's hard to make sense out of the word salad that escaped the lips of the former governor of Texas, but his feelings are clear. If a dozen good guys with guns had drawn on the one bad guy with a gun, then the only dead person would be the bad guy, not the good guys, and certainly not any of the other theater patrons who couldn't possibly be caught in the crossfire. My concern is that when the police do show up, they won't be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys, and everybody's gonna get shot. The solution isn't to have everybody packing heat. The answer is to take the guns away from people who feel like they have to use them to prove something to strangers in the dark, to people on the streets, and to their domestic partners that piss them off just once too many times. After all, if nobody had guns, then nobody could get shot.
Donald Trump has finally said something that has upset the republican establishment. Trump, who now leads the polls for the republican presidential nomination, spoke out in an attack against John McCain, Senator from Arizona, saying that McCain was not a war hero, because he allowed himself to be captured by North Vietnamese forces after being shot down during a bombing run in 1967. McCain then spent five years as a prisoner of war. Now Republicans didn't seem to mind attacking war heroes when the person in question was John Kerry when he was running for president in 2004. Many attendees at the Republican National Convention that year wore bandages with glitter hearts painted in purple, making fun of the three Purple Hearts awarded to Kerry for being wounded in service to his nation, as well as the Bronze Star and Silver Star he received for gallantry in action. In fact John Jeb! Bush wrote a letter to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2005 thanking them for their smear against Kerry's war record. So apparently it's OK for republicans to attack veterans for their service, as long as those veterans aren't other republicans, because apparently only Republicans can be war heroes.
It would help us decide how to vote if the Republican candidates for president would just arrange themselves on the debate stage along a spectrum of calculated stupid to real stupid.
The Obama administration, along with five other military allies including Great Britain and France, has reached an historical deal that promises to delay Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions that had been weighing heavily on that country. This agreement at least postpones Iran's ability to manufacture nuclear weapons into the future. Neocons and right wingers are crying appeasement, but they wouldn't have been happy with any agreement reached by the Obama administration. Indeed, forty seven republican senators wrote a letter to the Iranian government all but telling them that the United States wouldn't be bound by any such agreement in an attempt to scuttle the talks in March. These folks wouldn't be happy unless Iran was bombed into a gentle radioactive glow, and are still calling for military strikes, as if precision bombing with guided munitions would solve any sort of problems in the powder keg that is the middle east. As the deal is a political agreement and not an actual treaty, the next president, presumably if it were a republican, would be free to renege on the agreement. While there are too many republican candidates to quote in full, I'll be concise in saying that the republicans do not like this deal. Keep this in mind when you're asked to vote for president in 2016.
The right wing continues to show us what they really think about us. The Republican party in Oklahoma recently put up a Facebook post that compared providing food stamp benefits to people in need, to feeding animals at national parks. The post said that the food stamp program is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever, to 46 million people. Meanwhile the national park service ask us to Please do not feed the animals. Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. unquote. Which is funny to me because it's the policies that the republicans follow, that resulted in the crashing of the economy, and denying workers a living wage, a wage that keeps families living in poverty, so much so that yes, a record number of people need help just to find a way to feed their kids. But comparing them to wild animals that can't take care of themselves is an insult, and proof of their hatred of the poor.
Look, somebody is going to own your government. It's not going to just sit there unattended. It's either going to be owned by special interests and big money, or it's going to be owned by you.
Republicans don't seem to mind when religious leaders propose oppressing homosexuals or not allowing women to choose to control their own sexuality, but apparently believe that Pope Francis has been brainwashed into believing that climate change is an important issue. Apparently listening to scientists about this issue is tantamount to oppressing alternative viewpoints
The contrasts between the democratic and republican candidates for president couldn't be more clear. Hillary Clinton has expressed her support for a collection of policies that directly use government policy to raise incomes, regulate financial firms, shape the predistribution of wealth, and secure middle-class families. Among her proposals are tax reform to encourage long-term business investment instead of short-term spending like higher CEO pay, comprehensive immigration reform to bring undocumented workers into the formal economy; new federal investments in renewable energy and medical research; paid family leave, earned sick days, and subsidized child care; higher minimum wages and protection against wage theft; enhancements for Social Security and the Affordable Care Act; middle-class tax relief and greater support for young, contract, and low-income workers; and new measures to strengthen and expand Dodd-Frank financial reform.

Scott Walker is one of the favorites for the republican nomination for president. He's declared that he wants to devolve Medicaid to the states; to repeal the Affordable Care Act in full; drill for oil, including completing the Keystone pipeline; cut taxes on “job creators”; and reduce regulations across the board. He's proud that his state passed lawsuit and regulatory reform. Proud that he defunded Planned Parenthood and enacted pro-life legislation. He passed Castle Doctrine and supports concealed-carry of weaponry. And it's now required to have a photo ID to vote in the state of Wisconsin.” He's blasted public assistance to needy persons as fostering dependency on government largess. And he wants to implement supply side economics, as if the policies of the last thirty five years haven't proven the emptiness of such policies.

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that he was running for president this week, he became the 14th republican to declare his candidacy for that office. However, by another measure he was actually the one hundred and first, or he would be had he submitted the all important Statement of Candidacy form with the Federal Elections commission, a form that must be filled out within fifteen days of a candidate's declaration. So far, 448 people have submitted such a form, up from 417 by the election in 2012. There are 118 independents and 74 democrats to go with the 100 republicans. 33 people have declared none, or no party affiliation, with eleven libertarians and three candidates from the green party in the running. One candidate, running as a demo cat, is actually a five year old neutered feline named Limberbutt McCubbins. The cat has filled the paperwork to run for president, and is running on a platform advocating protection of the environment and the legalization of catnip.
Senator James Inhofe, a republican from Oklahoma, famously decried that there could be no global warming in February by bringing a snowball from outside the senate building onto the floor of that august body. Here we are months later, and how is Senator Snowball's demonstration fairing? Seattle had the hottest fourth of July on record, and recently tied the record for most consecutive days with temperature above eighty degrees. Europe is being crushed by a heat wave that has shattered high temperatures in Germany, England, and France, with temperatures exceeding 102 degrees in Paris. More than twelve hundred people have died in Pakistan in the worst heat wave since records began. Yet Senator Inhofe disputes claims that he is less knowledgeable than climate scientists, saying that he'd quote already given five speeches on the science unquote. In 2010 Inhofe claimed that we were in the midst of a cold period that had started in 2001. This despite the claims from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration, the government's own climate scientists, that through July 2010 the year had already been the hottest year since records began in 1880.
George dubbya Bush, the man who as president lied, misled, blundered, and pushed America into two disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, collected one hundred thousand dollars as a speaking fee for appearing at a charity event for veterans wounded in the two wars he started. He was also provided with a private jet to the function which cost another twenty thousand dollars. His wife collected fifty thousand dollars from the same charity the previous year. To me it's a wonder that he's even allowed outside unsupervised, yet apparently he's still accepted in polite company, despite his conduct while president. He shouldn't be speaking to wounded veterans. He should be serving time for his crimes.
John Ellis Bush, a republican candidate for president, told us more of his plan to revitalize the American economy on Wednesday. Apparently his plan to achieve four percent GDP growth requires that quote people need to work longer hours and through their productivity, gain more income for their families unquote. The irony of this message being delivered while Jeb! in on vacation at the family compound in Kennebunkport Maine is not lost on me, but it seems that asking people to work longer hours in order to revive the American economy might not be the best campaign strategy after years of seeing almost all economic growth providing increased wealth the already wealthy in America. The latest Bush trying to be president has also come out as opposed to federal minimum wage standards, believing that wages need to be left to the private sector. Bush also thinks that people need to be seventy years old before receiving social security payments. Yet somehow this Bush is credited with being the Smart one, a serious person seriously addressing the economic concerns of everyday Americans. I for one am not buying it.
Donald Trump is running for the republican nomination for president of the united states, and he's currently polling second in a crowded field. There's no way that he can win the nomination, but boy does the republican base love the Donald. He is their unrestrained id that gets to spout off on birtherism, xenophobia, the proper use of America's military, and foreign policy. This week NBC canceled its contracts with Trump, as did Macy's and Univision, the Spanish language television channel. And because sixty three percent of polled republicans believe that immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing, and health care, they believe that Donald Trump speaks for them when he claims that immigrants are responsible for drugs, rape, and crime in general.
After making insulting remarks about Mexicans, Donald Trump has been kicked off of NBC and Univision. On the bright side, Trump's hair has a new show on Animal Planet.
The Presidential contender and senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham, a republican naturally, has introduced a bill in the senate to severely restrict a woman's autonomy over her own body and reproductive choices. And because of his opposition to the popular Affordable Care Act, including it's mandate for affordable contraception, finds that he is in opposition to abortion as well as contraception that would preclude the need for those same abortions. The modern GOP fights hard to ensure that all pregnancies result in full term babies, whereupon they can be ignored by the federal government, ensuring that, in many cases, unwanted children are brought into economically struggling families that can't afford to take care of them. Republicans have no interest in affordable natal and post-natal health care, no interest in paid maternity leave, no interest in expanding aid to homeless women and children, no interest in equality for girls or women of any age, and definitely no interest in expanding education. Republicans believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth.
Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker is planning to slash the state's budget for higher education while committing $220 million to help the Milwaukee Bucks build a new arena. It gets worse: Several local officials are also speaking out against the county’s promise to collect $4 million per year in unpaid debts from residents to contribute to the stadium. Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan, Jr. called the proposal to go after unpaid ambulance rides, delinquent property taxes and court fees “crony capitalism.” “This plan shifts the cost of the new arena from the state and the Milwaukee Bucks’ new wealthy owners to the poorest in our community,” he said. “I will not foreclose on someone’s home or shake down a senior for unpaid medical bills in order to build an arena for millionaires and billionaires.”
There is a striking unanimity among the candidates who are running for the party’s presidential nomination in 2016: Not one supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. And after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to marriage for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, the degree of difference among the candidates was largely a matter of how aggressively they would continue to resist.
Supply side economics is built on the idea that income inequality is good, that tax cuts for the rich and less regulation of business supposedly provide incentives for the wealthy to invest their riches, the theory is that enabling the so called job creators to get richer helps us all. This platform has been the hallmark of the Republican party for over 30 years, since Ronald Reagan pushed for it as part of his policies. But America needs the middle class for its economy to survive. The economy has been thrown off balance because the middle class has been weakened and income inequality is so high. For a strong economy with sustainable growth, the economy must work for everyone. Yet median income measured in inflation adjusted dollars was lower in 2013 than it was in 1989. Indeed, the hourly wage earned by a typical male is less now than it was in 1973. Families are only surviving by having both spouses working longer hours than ever before. This is further skewed because the typical worker now is older than the typical worker then. Older workers should be earning more than younger workers. Median incomes for male workers in their thirties are about 12 percent lower than the income for workers in their thirties from their parents generation. This reduction in income contrasts with income for the very rich. Income for the top one tents of one percent, one in ten thousand of us, has increased from 6.4 million dollars per year in 1979 to almost 39 million dollars per year in inflation adjusted dollars. Since the end of the great recession, over 90 percent of the income gains for all Americans have gone to the top one percent of income earners. The net worth of the richest 400 Americans is equivalent to the gross domestic product of Brazil. The decline of the American middle class maps almost exactly with the rise of the theory of supply side economics. so WoMD in Iraq, death panels in Obamacare, widespread voter fraud in America, and tax cuts that generate increased government revenue are all things that Republicans believe in that simply aren't true.
Donald trump says that he identifies as a presidential candidate. Donald Trump is now an actual candidate for president on the republican ticket. His entry vindicates the obvious analysis that the republican party, at the presidential level at least, is little more than a shell corporation for opportunists and careerists who aren't interested in governing or even winning. The addition of Trump is the next brick in the effort to turn the GOP nomination into a dysfunctional and menacingly ugly reality show competition in which the contestants scramble to be the most flagrant panderer to the tea party base. Make no mistake: Trump will not be the republican candidate, but that's not his goal, nor is it the goal for most of the others running for the republican nomination. The real race is for celebrity heft.

Trump is polling ahead of Rick Perry, rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and Jon Kasich. but Trump is a circus sideshow attraction somehow being regarded as a serious contender. If the debates were held today, trump would make the cut into the top ten of the first debate. This is truly bad news for American politics. This year marks the fifth time since 1988 that Mr. Trump has suggested he would seek the White House, but he has never before formally launched a campaign. (In the past, his political dalliances have coincided with the launch of a new book or television show.)

Josh Duggar, the reality TV star and conservative activist, resigned from his position as the Executive Director of the Family Research Council on Thursday after reports surfaced that he had molested as many as 5 underage girls, including at least 4 of his sisters when he was a teenager. The 27-year-old is the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, whose family is the subject of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting.” Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council confirmed the resignation in a statement: “Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult to be effective in his current work.”

The Family Research Council is a conservative christian lobbying organization that opposes gay rights, abortion, divorce, stem cell research and pornography. The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the group as an anti-gay hate group.

Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has voiced his support for the Duggar family's actions, which did not involve going to the police when they were made aware of the crimes. He's also said that expecting Christians to accept same-sex marriage is "like asking someone who's Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli."

He also called homosexuality part of a lifestyle, like drinking and swearing and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia, sadomasochism, and necrophilia. So apparently molesting your sisters is OK, but same sex marriage is an abomination.

Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency’s deputy director and acting director, Appeared on MSNBC this week. Before the most recent war in Iraq he served as President Bush’s intelligence briefer. In this appearance Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq’s supposed WMD program and Saddam’s alleged links to Al Qaeda

The war in Iraq was a war that the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that “were made” actually flowed from this underlying desire. Did the intelligence agencies wrongly conclude that Iraq had chemical weapons and a nuclear program? That’s because they were under intense pressure to justify the war. Did prewar assessments vastly understate the difficulty and cost of occupation? That’s because the war party didn’t want to hear anything that might raise doubts about the rush to invade. Indeed, the Army’s chief of staff was effectively fired for questioning claims that the occupation phase would be cheap and easy

Bill Bryant is one of the members of the Port of Seattle Port commissioners council. The commission is in charge of the port of Seattle (naturally), Sea-Tac airport, as well as the waterways of the Puget Sound in the Seattle area. This year, the commission decided in secret meetings to allow the Shell Oil corporation to park its drilling rigs in the waterways of the sound prior to movement to Alaska to continue exploring for oil in that region. Bill Bryant is one of three on the five member commission to push arctic drilling activities through Seattle. He's also considering a run for governor of Washington. In other news that surprises exactly no one, Bryant has received 2500 $ in campaign donations for his run for governor from the CEO of Foss Maritime, the company leasing Terminal 5 for Shell, and another 1500 $ from the chairman of Saltchuk Resources, the maritime conglomerate that owns Foss. Bryant has also received other shady campaign donations as a reward for doing the bidding of the one percent.

At a recent meeting of the Evergreen Republican Women's Club, Bryant bragged that Seattle's alternative newspaper the Stranger had rated him at five dead polar bears out of a possible five. He was proud of it!

And this is why I believe that people should be involved in politics. Because if you don't agree with the policies of people on, say, the port commission, the least, little, tiniest voice that you can have is to vote against the people who pursue those policies. If you really don't approve of their policies, you can become more active, campaigning to unseat an existing port commissioner, or mayor, or governor, in favor of somebody whose policies you support. And if you really really don't approve of a pursued policy, you can in fact run for office yourself. Nobody is going to pursue your policies like you. But the least that you can do is to vote.

While Republicans at the state and federal level are trying to make it harder to vote, the government of Oregon has gone in the opposite direction. This week Oregon governor Kate Brown signed a law that automatically registers all eligible citizens of that state onto the voting rolls. If people do not opt out of this system, they will automatically be mailed a ballot twenty days before an election. Oregon was the first state in the country to implement all mail voting in 1998, and in 2014 seventy percent of eligible votes voted in the general election. It's notable that the legislation to allow all Oregonians to be registered to vote passed both chambers in the state legislature without a single republican vote. When asked about why the legislation was needed in Oregon, the governor said quote we have the tools to make voter registration more cost effective, more secure, and more convenient for Oregonians. Why wouldn't we?
Since extremists of all types tend to flock together, the Tea Party, well financed by Charles and David Koch and other multimillionaire conservatives, welcomed groups formerly excluded from the political mainstream. These included xenophobes, racists, Neo-Confederates, anti-Semites, gun nuts, secessionists, conspiracy theorists, homophobic bigots, religious kooks, gold bugs and many others. What held this diverse coalition together was hatred of all things vaguely associated with liberalism and the prospect of political power, which was achieved after the Tea Party’s victories in the 2010 election.
John Jeb! Bush famously said that Americans should work longer hours in order to meet his goal of a four percent GDP increase, kind of how Americans should be less like Wall-mart workers whose managers keep them from working more than twenty nine hours a week so they don’t get benefits, and more like those eight year-old kids who work in the factories making stuff for Wall-mart, kids whose managers force them to work 16 hour days for 50 cents a day! Just think of it, if you had started working at eight for fifty cents a day and you able to set aside a nickle a day towards your 401-K retirement account, you could have almost ten thousand dollars when you retire! This truly is the American dream.

Politics as Usual

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One of the common complaints about the failure to vote is the belief that one vote won't mean much among the thousands of votes cast. But we only have to look to Seattle and the city council races to see that a few votes can mean the difference between one candidate and another. In the first district, the race is still too close to call weeks after the election. At one point the two candidates were separated by less than six votes, although last I saw one was ahead of the other by thirty five votes. Think your vote doesn't count? Think again.
John Ellis Jeb Bush was recently asked if he, given the opportunity, would travel back in time and try to kill Adolph Hitler as a baby. His response, "Hell yeah, I would!" seems a little blood thirsty, like he'd enjoy killing a baby. But it got me to thinking what the other candidates would do with a time machine. I think Ben Carson would travel back to his childhood so that he could really stab that guy. I think that Carly Fiorina would go back to that one week when she had great poll numbers. or maybe she would go back to the time when she laid off thirty thousand employees just to cackle and taste the blood again.
Marco Rubio is the youngest of the Republicans who want to be President, but his policies are still misguided. When asked about their support for a minimum wage at a recent debate, not a one of them was for it, but Senator Rubio started talking about vocational training instead. The actual quote was "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers." unquote. This is simply more Republican anti-intellectualism, another battle in the war on the liberal arts. Besides, there are forty times more welders than philosophers already, and the philosophers make twice as much money as the welders.
I might have to have a hole punched in my liberal card, but Libertarian presidential candidate Rand Paul said something at a recent debate that I actually agreed with. In an argument about national fiscal responsibility, Senator Paul said quote "We need a safe country, but did you know we spend more on our military than the next ten countries combined. I want a strong national defense, but I don't want us to go bankrupt." unquote. And it's true. The U.S. has the biggest military force in the world by far. Maybe if we spent a little less on our military, we could support the men and women of the armed forces in the manner that we promised we would in exchange for their sacrifices to duty. That would be supporting the troops.
Donald Trump, republican blowhard and candidate for some reality show version of being president, has started to explain his plan to create a Federal Deportation Force, a governmental agency that would be tasked with going door to door in this country, rounding up those who are here without authorization. What kind of draconian nightmare of a future is this? Using federal stormtroopers to round up people? Then who's going to watch your kids? Who's going to clean your pool? Who is going to work hard, pay taxes, and live on your block when you round 'em up and head 'em out? Donald Trump is a scary man.
So Donald Trump is getting some serious competition from Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, but while Trump is a blowhard that represents the base American, Dr. Carson wants to re-purpose the federal Department of Education to monitor all colleges and universities in the country for excessive liberal speech
Low voter turn out across the country in the last election allowed conservative causes to rack up wins nationwide, despite the actual unpopularity of conservative policies. In Houston, Texas, motivated conservative voters turned out to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance that the city council had passed in May. While Houston does have an openly gay female democratic mayor, it is now legal to discriminate against people for being the wrong color, for being old, for being disabled, for having served in the military, for being the wrong religion, for being pregnant, and yes, for being homosexual. As long as the members of the Tea Party fringe are the only ones that vote, they'll continue to get their candidates elected and their issues passed.
Doctor Ben Carson, who is running for President as a republican, is most famously a pediatric neurosurgeon, but he's apparently something of an amateur Egyptologist as well. In a speech at Andrews University, Doctor Carson dismissed the idea that the Pyramids in Egypt were built by space aliens, instead offering the explanation that the Pyramids were in fact built for long term grain storage by the biblical figure Joseph, he of the coat of many colors fame. This theory is somewhat controversial, in that the Pyramids are generally accepted to be tombs for Egyptian pharaohs. But then Doctor Carson thinks that being gay is a lifestyle choice, so he does have some other wacky ideas as well.
Low voter turn out across the country in the last election allowed conservative causes to rack up wins nation wide, despite the actual unpopularity of conservative policies. In Kentucky, a Tea Party conservative was elected governor. He doesn't believe in a minimum wage, supports cock fighting under free speech provisions, and opposes the violence against women act. If you don't vote, people like this can win and control your government, and they can do a lot of damage before you can vote them out.
Tim Eyman's latest initiative spew is, as is to be expected, a terrible law. If passed, it would require the legislature to change the state's constitution in a way that favors the people who paid for the initiative, or it would cut sales taxes by fifteen percent, money the state needs to pay its bills. My simple rule for voting? If Tim Eyman is for it, I'm against it. I'll be voting against initiative 1366.
There are two initiatives on the state ballot this year, and they're both bought and paid for by wealthy donors. Initiative 1401 is brought to us by Paul Allen, the fifty first richest person in the world. And what would Mr. Allen like to make law? He wants to make it a felony under state law to buy or sell parts of animals that are endangered species. While I'm sure his heart is in the right place, I'm not sure that the initiative is the best way to set about making law, and I sure don't want to encourage the rich to begin thinking of the initiative process as being subject to purchase.
I have a question for you. Are you registered to vote? If not, why not? Don't you have opinions about local affairs? Maybe you don't think that politics has anything to do with you, but every moment of your day is somehow affected by politics. Who gets to make laws? The people that you vote for. Or if you don't vote, the candidates that other people vote for. Their voices are the only ones heard by people who run for office. If you don't like the policies that your state or city are following, vote for people who will change those policies. If you don't vote, your opinions will be irrelevant.
The congressional committee that investigated the attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the U.S. into world war two lasted for ten months. The Watergate committee investigated for sixteen months, and the committee that investigated the terror attacks on nine eleven lasted for ninteen months. The committee investigating the embassy attack in Benghazi during Hillary Clinton's time as Secratary of State has lasted longer than all of these, and has found no wrong doing on Ms. Clinton's part. In fact, the congressman in line to become the next speaker of the house has all but admitted that the investigations exist only to try to damage Ms. Clinton's presidential hopes, and have spent four point five million dollars of taxpayer monies to do so.
When elections roll around, you need a drivers license or some other form of Identification to be able to vote. Alabama is making it near impossible for black people to vote by closing thirty one license issuing agencies, including those in every single county where blacks make up more than seventy five percent of registered voters. They're closing agencies in eight of the ten counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. It used to be that you could register to vote at the DMV, but you can't if there is no office in your county. Twenty nine counties in Alabama will will have no drivers license issuing facilities, making it that much harder for black people to vote.
A hospital in Afghanistan run by the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders was badly damaged early Saturday after being hit by what appears to have been an airstrike by American forces. At least 19 people were killed and more than thirty wounded in an attack on a hospital by U.S. forces. Such strikes and the civilian casualties that enevitably result have caused tensions between the American military and the Afghan government to become even more strained in America's longest running war. Yet somehow America forces are convinced that they will enevitibly suceed in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghani people.
For some unknown reason, the Republican party has the reputation of being the party of fiscal responsibility, but this belief flies in the face of all facts. It was recently reported that the federal government's deficit under President Obama will be reduced to their lowest levels since the last Democratic administration, that of President Clinton, who actually handed the Bush administration a budget surplus in 2001. This has been accomplished despite President Bush's gift to Obama of record high deficits and a broken economy in 2009, as well as total Republican obstruction of Obama's economic policies during his entire presidency.
There is a great debate in this country concerning policies on immigration, with conservative forces painting foreigners in our country here legally or not as some big scary other. A woman in Huston Texas did not have legal permission to be in this country, and was turned in to the police by her doctors. I think that seems to be a violation of the accepted doctor patient relationship, don't you? Does it make sense to make anybody afraid to see a doctor?
A poll released by Gallup International surveyed sixty six thousand people in sixty five nations of the world, and found that twenty four percent of all respondents answered that the United States is the greatest threat to peace in the world today. Pakistan and China were seen as threats to world peace by less than eight percent of respondents. Of course the United States has a larger military than the next ten largest militaries combined, and historically hasn't been afraid of using it. Our misadventures in various parts of the world are justifiably seen as threatening world peace and stability. Yet commercials for the U.S. Navy shows sailors and marines dropping into world trouble spots bearing food and shelter for the unfortunate souls who live in disaster areas, notwithstanding that American military might is much more likely to be dropping bombs rather than food supplies.
Rupert Murdoch, media tycoon and owner of Fox News, has purchased National Geographic magazine and all of its assets. The magazine was founded one hundred twenty seven years ago, and as a non-profit it sought to extend scientific knowledge about our planet and its people, which is terribly ironic, as Murdoch, a notorious climate change denier, will certainly change the mission of the magazine to a propaganda arm disseminating his non-scientific views.
Arch Lich Dick Cheney recently emerged from his dark, crypt like lair to denounce the nuclear deal with Iran and to drum up the excuses for war. It's not like we should be surprised that Cheney is an advocate for war. After all, the one that he started has been very good for the businesses that he was paid to represent. However, he is prevented from leaving the country and travel the world, owing to the number of countries that have vowed to arrest him and put him on trial for war crimes.
Hillary Clinton, democratic front runner for president, used a private email server during her time as secretary of state, and the right wing is gathering their pitchforks ready to burn the witch. But what is the scandal here? Collin Powel also used a personal email server during his time as secretary of state, and doing so wasn't against the rules for either officer. Some of the emails on the server did contain documents that were not classified at the time but are now classified as secret. No federal law enforcement organization is investigating this so called crime. But there will be congressional committees investigating this as if it were proof that somehow Ms. Clinton is in league with the devil and determined to sell our country to our enemies.
This week President Obama celebrated Labor Day by signing an executive order calling for all federal contractors to offer paid sick leave for all of their employees. The order doesn't take effect until 2017, so it would certainly be on a long list of democratic sponsored policies that a newly elected republican president would repeal. So add paid sick leave for federal contractor workers to the already high stakes in the 2016 presidential election.
How many of you have a job where you can refuse to do the work and still get paid? After the Supreme Court ruled that people of the same sex can get married just like people of opposite sex can, county clerks across the nation were instructed to grant marriage licenses to gay couples who request them. However, Kim Davis, a clerk in Kentucky, has decided that her religious beliefs trump the law of the land, and she is refusing to issue marriage licenses. Why this person still has a job is beyond me. She's taken her plight to court, first the federal district court, then the sixth circuit court. Each time she was told to do her job or find a new one. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Now the right wing has accused President Obama of trying to institute Sharia Law, or at least as they imagine it. Ms. Davis's refusal to do her job is her attempt to institute fundamentalist Christian law in a secular society. Again, how does this person still have this job? This week U.S. District Court judge David Bunning ordered Ms. Davis to jail until she agrees to comply with federal law regarding the issuing of marriage licenses.
It turns out that hatred felt long enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition. This is true if it's about another religion, another country, or even another football team. It's when that tradition is challenged that we hear about culture and heritage, when at its base, it's still hatred.
The eight-hour workday, 40-hour workweek, weekends. Overtime and the minimum wage. Safer workplaces. Health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. All of those gains were fought for and won by the labor movement, folks who were working not just for a bigger paycheck for themselves, but for more security and prosperity for the folks working next to them as well. And Labor Day. All brought to you by organized, and unionized labor, often at the pain of death. So enjoy your three day weekend. It was bought with the blood of laborers in your great grandparents time, and is threatened by right wing policies today.
The group whose heavily edited videos purportedly showed an officer from Planned Parenthood discussing the procurement of fetal tissue for research is in legal hot water this week as members face invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud, and tax evasion charges. California has strict right to privacy laws that prohibit the audio recording of a conversation if all persons involved are not aware that they're being recorded. Furthermore, the group's political advocacy puts them at odds of tax policy that has them identified as a non-profit charity. Prison sentences could result.
This week a police officer candidate reported that a pick up truck opened fire at him, causing him to drive into a tree setting his patrol car on fire. After shots were exchanged, an entire small town was put on lock down as police combed the area for the suspects. The problem was that no such attack took place. In fact the shooting incident was fabricated by the cop wanna be. And while the person who supposedly shot at the officer was described as a white man, one conservative claimed that the shooting was the fault of the Black Lives Matter movement, and wondered why President Obama was so silent about the attack. You know, the attack that didn't actually take place? Seriously, if the President had to comment about every mass shooting in the country, he wouldn't have time to do anything else.
A poll released by Public Policy Polling shows one reason why this country is so divided. Fifty four percent of polled Republican voters think that President Obama is a Muslim. Only twenty nine percent of polled Republican voters agree that President Obama was actually born in the United States. Forty percent of polled Republican voters think that Presidential wannabee Ted Cruz was born in the United States. Now these are demonstrable facts. It shows how well the propaganda arm of the Republican party, also known as Fox News, has been at disseminating outright falsehoods to its viewers. What other kinds of issues, like climate change and supply side economics, might they also hold falsehoods dear.
Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are surging in polls because they both appeal to the base of their respective parties. But one party's approach to dealing with the problems this country faces is to revert to authoritarianism, building walls and increasing state power, while the other party's approach is to create a progressive movement of coalitions that will strengthen democracy at the expense of moneyed interests. So who do you favor?
This week marked an anniversary of sorts. It has been fifteen hundred days since an American rocket delivered astronauts to the space station. The U.S. has no replacement for the space shuttle, which had a troubled history including two lost spacecraft and crews. So while the U.S. has a larger military budget than the next ten largest countries combined, we can't seem to find the money to perpetuate an American space program. We do pay Russia for use of their rockets to ferry people and supplies to the space station, and the price goes up for each launch. Yet America can't find the budget to have its own space program. NASA is currently responsible for less than one half of one percent of the total federal budget.
A judge in Pennsylvania had his sentence of twenty eight years in prison for his part in a kids for cash program upheld after a final appeal. Former judge Mark Ciavarella made over two point six million dollars in kickbacks for giving kids exceptionally harsh sentences and sending them to juvenile detention centers run for profit by his co-conspirators. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court voided some four thousand convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to enter a plea. Another judge pleaded guilty in a plea deal and was sentenced to over seventeen years in prison, but Ciavarella declined to accept such a deal and went to court where he was found guilty of bribery, extortion, money laundering, and tax evasion.
The fact that jellyfish have survived for six hundred fifty million years despite not having brains gives hope to many people.
I try to bring you news that you can use so that you can be a more knowledgeable citizen, but there are a lot of what we call low information voters out there. For example, a recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that twenty nine percent of respondents in Louisiana blamed President Obama for the poor federal response following hurricane Katrina, while twenty eight percent blamed President Bush for the government's failures. You know, president Bush, the guy who was actually president at the time? More people blame the guy who wasn't in charge than blame the guy who was in charge. Barack Obama didn't become president until three years after the storm. By no coincidence, eighty two percent of the poll's respondents identified themselves as conservatives. And twenty nine percent of them are just flat out wrong.
Perhaps you remember my report on Limberbutt McCubbins, independent candidate for president running on a platform of stewardship of the environment as well as the legalization of catnip. Limberbutt is in fact a cat whose owners filed the paperwork with the federal elections commission to run for president. More recently Deez Nuts had a strong showing in Iowa polls, notwithstanding that Mr. Nuts is actually a fifteen year old boy named Brady Olson, who has also filed the proper paperwork. Other candidates running for president are Dat Ass of Syosset New York, Tyrone Lonedick of Elmwood Park Illinois, and Seattle's own Butt Stuff. Also having filed paperwork are candidates Master Alexander Soy Sauce and Taters, Suck Seattle Seachickens, and Jeffrey Dahmer, although it's probably not the cannibal killer who died in 1994. Other candidates include Bippy the Clown, Buddy the Elf, and Rocky Balboa. Candidates must file with the commission once they've received five thousand dollars in campaign contributions, but apparently there is no rule against filing before reaching that threshold.
Ten years after the destruction wreaked on America by Hurricane Katrina, we can look back at the storm and its severity and analyze what lessons we have and have not learned. The storm was responsible for over one hundred billion dollars of property damage, and killed almost two thousand people. Yet if the same storm had happened a hundred years ago, the damage caused by the storm surge wouldn't have been so severe, because ocean levels were eight to twelve inches lower then. That's how much the water has risen in the last century due to melted ice at the poles. Ocean levels are expected to rise by up to three feet before the end of the century. And because ocean temperatures are also going up, future storms promise to be more severe as well.
Three states in this country have canceled their medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood. Did you know that guys can get health care at Planned Parenthood as well as women? What kind of crazy, whacked-out abortions are being forced on them? And if the government isn't supporting any of the abortion services at Planned Parenthood–NOT EVEN ONE–then who is? Some kind of cabal of women and men across America who believe prenatal care, STD testing, and cancer screenings should be made available free or low cost to all our citizens? The world is a truly terrifying place!
Polls tell us that voters are angry with the status quo, that they hate the government, and want to throw the bums out. So how do voters actually react? Voter turnout is abysmally low, and in 2014 they returned ninety five percent of incumbents to office. Some anger. I hate these guys! Let's vote for them again! And nothing changes.
The Washington state supreme court has found the state legislature in contempt of court for not addressing court ordered changes to the state's education system. Fines of one hundred thousand dollars a day are being levied against the state until the legislature fulfills its duty to properly fund and implement basic education mandates. The fines will be held in an account to help pay for basic education until the contempt order is lifted, so the state won't be losing any money.
In another example of how the world improves if you wait long enough, this week Secretary of State John Kerry raised the U.S. flag at the newly opened embassy in Cuba. Kerry became the first Secretary of State to visit that country in seventy years. Accompanying Kerry to the embassy's opening were three U.S. Marines who lowered the flag when the embassy was closed in 1961.
This year the federal program known as Social Security, which pretty much keeps your grandparents out of poverty, turns eighty years old, which is also the same age that some Republicans think should be the retirement age.
The Lays potato chip company has set up a web site to allow people to vote for the newest flavor of potato chip. Finally an election that Americans will care about.
Twenty four percent of eligible voters turned out for the August fourth primary election this year. Less than a quarter of people who can vote actually did, which means that three quarters of you are happy with the way that things are being run for you in political offices from representative to dog catcher. Remember, the powers that be like it best when they're allowed to run things with a free hand and without interference.
This week the census bureau released data regarding voter turnout in the elections of 2014, and the numbers are abysmal. Less than forty two percent of eligible voters actually voted, and the numbers for young people and persons of color are even worse. Now I can be convinced that low voter turnout is directly caused by Republican efforts to impede voter turnout across the country, but it's also true that some people simply aren't engaged in America's democratic experiment. So as long as rich white people are the only ones voting in elections for candidates at any level of government, then only the interests of rich white people will be addressed by those same candidates. By all means, if you're satisfied that the country is headed in the right direction, stay home. I for one am not happy with the mostly Republican policies that keep people in poverty, deny women's autonomy over their own bodies, that cut taxes on the obscenely wealthy while cutting programs designed to help people feed their kids, while maintaining a military that is bigger than the next ten largest militaries combined. If you're happy with the way things are going, then just stay home. The rich white guys have got this covered.
If you're not Registered to Vote yet, you Still Have a Chance to Register in Time for the August 4 Primary but you have to go in person at the King County Elections office or the Voter Registration Annex before 4:30 P.M. on Monday, July 27. Maybe you don't care about the issues to be decided in the election in August, but in November voters will have the chance to vote to bolster civilian oversight of the King County Sheriff's Office.
A poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Institute asked a sample of Americans about the issues that were important to them. Looking at just those issues with over seventy percent of support, we see people seeking to charge student loans the same interest rate as given to banks, end tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas, offer universal single payer Medicare type health care for all, and expand social security benefits. Over seventy percent of those polled wanted to require the NSA to get warrants before spying on us. Over seventy percent of those polled wanted the government to negotiate lower drug prices, something that they're forbidden by law from doing at present. There were more, but think about the kind of policies that you support, and ask yourself if your political representatives are not pursuing those policies. If they're not, then vote for candidates that will
The Obama administration is expected in the coming days to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.

Environmentalists have praised the new rule, calling it an important step that would lead to significantly cleaner natural bodies of water and healthier drinking water.

But it has attracted fierce opposition from several business interests, including farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners. Opponents contend that the rule would stifle economic growth and intrude on property owners’ rights.

Republicans in Congress point to the rule as another example of what they call executive overreach by the Obama administration. Already, they are advancing legislation on Capitol Hill meant to block or delay the rule.

Republicans are at this point so utterly ridiculous that they are relegated to screaming about how the federal government supplying safe drinking water (when multiple states are suffering from the worst drought in centuries, mind you) is worthy of a Second American Revolution.

“Under this outrageously broad new rule, Washington bureaucrats would now have a say in how farmers, and ranchers, and families use their own property,” said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming and the chief author of the Senate bill.

“It would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate private property just based on things like whether it’s used by animals or birds, or even insects,” he said.

“This rule,” he added, “is not designed to protect the traditional waters of the United States. It is designed to expand the power of Washington bureaucrats.”

Barrasso is full of nonsense, like every other Republican opposed to this. When American corporations are polluting our streams, lakes and rivers and leaving hundreds of thousands without potable water for weeks at a time, maybe the concept of tougher regulations is an idea well overdue.

Ballots for the August fourth primary election were mailed out this week. If you haven't registered yet, there's still time, but you have to go to the county elections office to do so. If you don't vote, your voice will not be considered.
President Obama visited Oklahoma City this week. The trip included a visit to the Federal Prison located in Oklahoma, making Obama the first president to ever visit such a facility. Two distinct groups of people gathered outside the hotel where the president was staying. One group consisted of families, parents, children, and others who wanted to catch a glimpse of the first black president in U.S. history. The other group consisted of a bunch of white guys who waved variations of the Confederate Battle Flag at the leader of the country, reminding us that that flag is indeed about hate and racism, and that these protesters would never accept a black man as their president
The state house and senate of South Carolina has voted overwhelmingly to remove the confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capital. Calls to remove the flag from the capital began after a white supremacist who killed nine church members in Charleston South Carolina was seen in photos displaying the flag. Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, has called the flag, quote a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. State Senator Harvey Peeler voted against the flag's removal, saying that removing the flag quote would be like removing the tattoo from a loved one's corpse. The flag was first raised on the capital grounds in 1961 in response to protests calling for civil rights for all citizens of South Carolina.
If you don't register to vote by mail by tomorrow, Monday July sixth, You'll have to show up in person at a county election office to be able to register to vote. If you don't vote, you will have no say in how government is run, either for you or against you, in the upcoming elections. If you don't vote, no politician will be swayed by your opinion on any issue. If you don't vote, the the interests of the people who do vote will take priority over yours.
The Washington state legislature narrowly avoided a shutdown of state government by agreeing to a two year operating budget this week. Washington state will spend thirty eight point two billion dollars over the next two years, doing the kind of things that government does, paying for human services, higher education, building and maintaining roads, and teaching your kids. Among other laws passed as part of the now ended second special session, tuition at the state's two premier universities are to be reduced by fifteen percent. Tuition at the state's remaining four year universities will be reduced by twenty percent, and tuition at the state's community colleges will drop by five percent. Also of note, the taxing scheme for retail cannabis sales has been streamlined. The old system imposed a twenty five percent tax on cannabis at three different stages in manufacture and sales. The new tax is a sales tax of thirty seven percent, added at time of purchase.
It isn’t nice to block the doorway
It isn’t nice to go to jail
There are nicer ways to do it
But the nice ways always fail
It was an historic week at the supreme court as the justices delivered three important rulings of interest to tens of millions of Americans. On Thursday, the court upheld the Fair Housing Act, making it easier for housing advocates to integrate communities and dissolve the racial and economic lines dividing them. Also on Thursday the court allowed that the American Care Act, so called Obamacare, was in fact legal and would be allowed to continue. On Friday, the court released the opinion that the 14th amendment to the constitution protects and allows same sex couples to enter into the institution of marriage.

These first of these three decisions will allow poor and displaced persons to get and live in housing closer to job opportunities and amenities that most Americans take for granted. The second decision will allow eight to ten million persons to continue receiving subsidized health care. The final of these three decisions will allow persons of non-standard sexual identity to live in a way that they decide furthers their own quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

President Obama has overseen the struggle for passage of the ACA, his signature domestic achievement, including the original vote, three different elections, and two supreme court cases. He is understandably jubilant at the court's decision. To quote the president, "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. It is woven into the fabric of America. Someday our grand-kids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who got sick. unquote.

But what's really making conservatives heads explode is the affirmation by the scantest five to four decision that same sex marriage is constitutionally protected. The majority opinion was written by 79 year old justice Anthony Kennedy, and it's a moving treatise indeed. Justice Kennedy writes:

Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. There is no difference between same and opposite sex couples with respect to this principle. Yet by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.

Justice Kennedy grounded his opinion in two separate but related provisions of the 14th amendment to the Constitution which gives all U.S. citizens equal rights and protections under the law. The liberty protected by the due process clause protects the fundamental rights for gay couples to marry, while the equal protection clause bars the government from signaling out a specific group, in this case gay people, and depriving them of certain rights. His closing paragraph should be etched on the walls of every courthouse in the country and in the hearts of every American. And I quote:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilizations oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The Court now holds that same sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. unquote.

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the minority, seeking to retain the ability to discriminate against same-sex couples. He writes, quote: If you are among the many Americans, of whatever sexual orientation, who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

President Obama celebrated the ruling as quote "a victory for America" unquote. He also said quote "Sometimes there are days like this when that slow steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. unquote

The united states now becomes the 23rd country in the world that recognizes same sex marriages.

The stars and bars of the confederate flag live on in the south, specifically as the state flag of South Carolina. This week a south Carolina legislator, a republican in fact, has proposed to remove the confederate flag from the grounds of the state capital. That flag celebrates and commemorates a time when rich southern white men kept other people as pets and property. If we really want to become a society that has moved beyond race, maybe it's time to leave behind such childish things.
President Obama is set to release new clean water rules today, in a move that will drive Republicans crazy, because the concept of clean drinking water is clearly Marxist dogma.

The War on Women and Sex

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The House of Representatives in Ohio scored another victory in their war against sex when they advanced a bill that would ban state and federal money from Planned Parenthood. In a straight party line vote, Republicans voted to deny Planned Parenthood approximately one point three million dollars that would have paid for pre-natal care for citizens of Ohio, as well as programs to prevent transmission of HIV. None of the funds denied to Planned Parenthood went towards providing abortion services. Ohio had already cut funding for contraception in 2013. Now it seems to me that if you really wanted to reduce the abortion rate, you would increase funding that would prevent pregnancy. To cut funds for contraceptive care simply proves the anti sex and anti woman stance of the Republican party.
After the inflammatory and heavily edited videos of a planned parenthood staffer seemingly discussing the selling of baby parts erupted across the conservative wing nut-o-sphere this last summer, republican state legislatures across the country directed their states attorney generals to investigate the charges. The Washington state investigation has concluded, and like the investigations in a dozen other states, it has found no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood. No wrongdoing. None. A letter from the state Attorney General states that the allegations are unfounded and troubling, in that the charges seek to discredit the organization, and have resulted in Planned Parenthood diverting resources that are better spent on patient services for women in Washington. The quick answer to this? Abortion is legal in this country and in this state, and people have the right to get abortions. The call to investigate Planned Parenthood is demagoguery at its finest.
The Seattle City Council has passed a resolution that expresses the city's gratitude to Planned Parenthood for providing care to millions of people nationwide, including teenagers, poor people, and other vulnerable populations. The mayor of Seattle commended Planned Parenthood for providing critical reproductive health services to men, women, and children in the greater Seattle area. Meanwhile, the state of Texas has voted to deny funding for all Planned Parenthood clinics within the state.
An egg is not a chicken. A nut is not a tree. A caterpillar is not a butterfly, and a zygote is not a person.
In cutting off your nose to spite your face news, this week the House voted to deny federal funding for Planned Parenthood. While this budget agreement is almost certain to fail in the senate, the financial net savings for defunding this health care organization is estimated to be two hundred thirty five million dollars over the next ten years. Do you want me to tell you how many zeros are in front of the percent sign this cuts from the federal budget? Defunding Planned Parenthood is about denying health care for women, full stop. Any verbiage about saving money is merely smoke in front of the mirrors towards this goal.
The war on women is over, and women have lost. While abortion providers struggle just to keep their clinics open, women seeking abortions must travel long distances to even get to the clinics, then tolerate a state mandated lecture on the evils of abortion, then endure a trans vaginal ultra sound procedure that forces them to look at their pre-born child, and then wait another three days before they can get a safe and lawful medical procedure. In what world is this normal? What kind of procedures carried out on men have these kind of barriers placed before them?
Ben Carson, former pediatric neurosurgeon and current republican candidate for president recently said that quote They tell you that there's a war on women. There is no war on women. There may be a war on what's inside women, but there is no war on women in this country unquote. Now I think that I know what he means, but this sure is a stupid way to put it, because there is a war on women, and the right wing is propagating it. By not supporting laws mandating equal pay for women, or policies supporting paid maternity leave and subsidized child care, and mostly by mandating that every woman's pregnancy is a forever thing, denying women the most basic of choices of when or even if they bear children. There is a war on women in this country, and the republicans are the vanguard of that army.
Inflammatory rhetoric about Planned Parenthood has sparked a fire under the right wing, and has also sparked a fire in a planned parenthood clinic in Pullman Washington. The local fire department has declared that the fire is definitely arson, meaning that terrorism is alive and well in America. One might think that this most recent arson is in reaction to the heavily edited videos that purport to show an officer of planned parenthood discussing making fetal tissue available for research, but really this attack is just the latest in a decades long attack against the organization as a whole. There have been one hundred eighty six arsons and forty bombings committed against abortion providers since 1976, as well as attacks with anthrax, acid, and other instances of vandalism.
A nineteen year old man brought a small home made explosive device into a women's health clinic in Wichita Kansas this week. The clinic is located in the same building where Doctor George Tiller provided health care for women until he was gunned down in 2009 at his church. Doctor Tiller had also been shot in both arms at the clinic in 1993, and the clinic had also been bombed in 1996. so there is more terrorism in America than what makes the papers.
The republican war against teenage girls and their promiscuous ways continues in Seattle, where a program that provides dental care and health care to low income persons has come under fire from anti sex zealots on the right wing. The program recently expanded to include contraception services to girls that need them, including those in middle or high school. IUDs and implants are more effective than other birth control methods, but are more expensive, and thus economically out of reach for poor women. But republicans aren't opposing contraception for girls based on the cost. Instead, the issue is of how contraception inevitably leads to female promiscuity, and won't we think of the children? Yet America suffers from an epidemic of teen moms forever mired in poverty. Amanda Marcotte, a writer for Salon magazine, says that conservatives are willing, eager even, to keep the teen pregnancy rate sky high on the slim hope that doing so might scare someone, sometime, out of having sex. It turns out that one of the primary reasons that teen girls drop out of high school is because they become pregnant. What better place to reach teen girls with good information and health care than in the schools?
A Colorado program offering free birth control to thirty thousand low income women and girls has been crowned a startling success. After six years of offering low cost IUDs and implants to women who couldn't afford them, the birth rate for teenagers across the state dropped by forty percent, while the abortion rate has dropped by forty two percent. Of particular interest is the drop in the pregnancy rate for a key demographic, unmarried women under age twenty five who lack a high school diploma. The program saved the state over eighty million dollars in Medicaid costs. In fact, The state health department estimates that for every single dollar spent on the long acting birth control initiative, the state saved five dollars and eighty five cents in state medicaid spending, which historically has financed three quarters of teenage pregnancies and births in the state. The programs most pronounced results have happened in the poorest areas of the state. In two thousand nine, half of all first births in the state were to women under twenty one years old. In two thousand fourteen, half of all first births were to women over age twenty four, a three year advance in median age of first births. According to Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution, if we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest, and cheapest things we can do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to. She also says that single parenthood is a principal driver of inequality, and long acting birth control is a powerful tool to prevent it. Teenage births have been declining nationally, but the Colorado experience is particularly dramatic. Nationwide, around seven percent of women aged fifteen to forty four using birth control use long lasting methods, such as IUDs and implants, but in Colorado, that number is around twenty five percent. It's estimated that about half of the six point six million pregnancies in the united states each year are unwanted. Anything that reduces the number of unwanted kids is a win in my book. But the funding for the program, which had been provided by a private donor, has run out, and the state of Colorado was asked to take over funding. However, the bill to authorize the funding was killed in committee in a straight party line vote, with republicans voting to kill the funding, even though a fellow republican was a sponsor of the funding bill. So where's the logic of being opposed to abortion on a moral belief, yet refusing to fund a program that is known, proven mind you, to reduce the number of abortions? I think that Dan Savage of the Stranger has the best take here. He says that "the lesson in Colorado for conservatives ought to be this: you can be against abortion or you can be against contraception, but you can't be against abortion and against contraception. Making contraception harder for women to get means more unplanned pregnancies which leads to more abortions.
The anti choice movement is all about posturing in their care about fetal life and protecting women, but their approach to dealing with these issues always seems to come down to cutting funds for low income women seeking medical care.
When I was a kid, I was a fan of Bill Cosby. When I was a young adult, I was a fan of the Reagan era Bill Cosby show. He's a funny guy. But I really can't see him the way I did as a younger person any more due to the preponderance of evidence that he is a rapist. Nearly fifty women have accused the comic of drug facilitated rape. This month's cover of New York Magazine is just so powerful. It shows thirty five women, sitting demurely with hands in laps, each woman a accuser of Bill Cosby. There is a single empty chair, representative of the women who have not come forward. It's overwhelming. These women have nothing to gain by coming forward, and a lot to lose. Just tremendous.
President Obama addressed allegations that comedian Bill Cosby has used drugs to sexually assault dozens of women over the last fifty years. While not commenting on Cosby directly, the president did say quote If you give a woman, or a man for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape. I think this country, any civilized country should have no tolerance for rape.
In 2005, Bill Cosby testified under oath that he had gotten Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with. He also admitted to giving them to at least one woman and quote other people. This testimony was given at a deposition where Cosby admitted giving an employee of Temple University, a school where Cosby sat on the board of trustees, three half pills of Benadryl. The lawsuit brought by that woman was settled in 2006 for undisclosed terms, but it reminds us that over forty women have accused Bill Cosby of drug facilitated sexual assault against them. Let's be clear here. When a woman is incapable of providing consent to a sexual encounter and you have sex with that woman anyway, then you are guilty of the crime of rape. You can use Quaaludes, you can use Benadryl, you can use alcohol, or you can use physical strength to take away a woman's ability to say no. You have raped her, and you are a rapist. The defenders of Bill Cosby continue to speak out about what a wonderful man he is, and about how he is a father figure for an entire generation. But it turns out that this father figure is a rapist and a predator. Today one in five women report that they have been sexually assaulted in this country. This doesn't mean that one in five men is a rapist, but it does mean that the crime of rape is severely under reported, and certainly under prosecuted.
Anti gay hostility is not specific to the United States. Last week a right wing orthodox Jewish man leaped into a gay pride festival in Jerusalem and stabbed six people, one of whom later died. The man had been released from prison just three weeks prior after serving ten years for a similar attack in 2005 which wounded three people. It's unclear if it was anti gay or religious bigotry that led to the attack. What is certain is that people were killed while expressing their basic human freedoms of speech and association
An inflammatory and heavily edited video of an officer from planned parenthood is being used as a cudgel at the federal level to defund that organization. It's already illegal for federal funds to go towards performing abortions, so what would we lose by defunding planned parenthood? How about five hundred thousand breast exams, four hundred thousand checks for cervical cancer, and four point five million sexually transmitted infection treatments? Is the loss of those services worth the political scalp collected by defunding planned parenthood?
While it's true that Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest provider of abortion related medical care, only three percent of it's services are abortion related. Forty one percent of its one point three billion dollar budget comes from government sources, and by law none of that money can go towards providing abortions. Today congressional Republicans are threatening to shut down the government if federal funds continue to flow to planned parenthood, but the effort to shut down that organization date back to 1982 when the Reagan administration first sought to defund the medical provider. The latest controversy involves offering fetal tissue for medical research, something voted on and endorsed in the early nineties by senator Mitch McConnell, current senate majority leader, among others
Congress voted over twenty years ago to allow fetal tissue obtained from legal abortions to be used in medical research. Current senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was among those that voted for the research. So if you want to make that research illegal, make that vote. Don't vote to eliminate funding for planned parenthood clinics by claiming that they do something that they don't. Don't piss on my leg and tell me that it's raining.
The boy scouts of America voted this week to discontinue its ban on gay scout leaders as a national organization. Robert Gates, the President of the boy scouts of America, had called for lifting the ban back in may, saying that quote the status quo in our movement's membership cannot be sustained. We cannot ignore the social, political, and judicial changes taking place in our country unquote. Under the new rules, individual scout troops would be allowed to make their own policies regarding the sexual identities of their leaders, thus moving the discrimination from the national level to the local level
The state of Hawaii began to use evidence based sex education in 2010. How's that experiment working out? In the years since, the number of terminated pregnancies has dropped by thirty percent, and the state's historically high teen pregnancy rate has fallen as well. The new programs replaced an older program of sex ed that had been taught by the Catholic church. The old program, called "Try Wait!" was at least partially responsible for Hawaii having the tenth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.
It's no surprise that some conservative states don't want their tax dollars going to organizations that provide abortions, but Texas has taken that philosophy a step further, but creating a law that eliminates funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings provided to low income women. Let's be clear: this is not a denial of funding for abortions. This is a denial of funding for women's basic health care. Texas legislatures had previously reduced the spending for this program by two thirds in 2011. This latest move reduces funding completely.
Advocates and lawmakers from across the political spectrum are objecting to a move by Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, to make broad changes to a sexual abuse education and prevention bill that Gov. Bill Walker has asked the Alaska Legislature to pass during its special session.

House Bill 44, sponsored by Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, would have required school districts to give students information about sexual abuse and dating violence, with an emphasis on prevention and awareness. The measure, which passed the House in April by a 34-6 vote, contains portions identical to a bill known as Erin’s Law, which has been pushed by an Anchorage Democrat, Rep. Geran Tarr.

Dunleavy, a social conservative who chairs the Senate Education Committee, unveiled a substitute for Millett’s bill at a hearing Tuesday in Anchorage.

It would make the sexual abuse and dating violence education programs optional rather than mandatory. And it also tacks on elements borrowed from three other bills -- including one controversial piece that would bar “abortion services providers” like Planned Parenthood from teaching students about sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases.

Economic Issues

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The six members of the Walton family, who run and own Wal-Mart, own as much wealth as the bottom thirty percent of Americans, but Wal-Mart doesn't pay its employees enough to actually survive on. Right now, Wal-mart workers around the country are participating in a hunger strike to bring attention to the low wages that they must try to survive on. Many Walmart workers rely on food stamps to feed their families, because they don't make enough at work to make ends meet.
The Black Rock Investment Institute recently released a study meant to explain to an institutional investor what climate change might mean to investment portfolios. The report states that you may or may not believe man-made climate change is real or dismiss the science behind it. No matter. Climate change risk has arrived as an investment issue. Governments are setting targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This may pave the way for policy shifts that we could see ripple across industries. The resulting regulatory risks are becoming key drivers of investment returns. This is widely understood almost everywhere in the world, except inside the hermetically sealed bubble of US conservatism. Inside that bubble, they still believe that climate skeptics are winning the debate, that the whole edifice of climate science is about to crumble. They still believe that electing a Republican president is all it will take to get rid of climate regulations once and for all. They still believe that coal can be revived and that oil and gas are the economic future.
The phrase of the day is customer bifurcation. Big business is having to account for the fact that only rich people have any money to spend any more. And while rich people have always bought luxury items and premium treats, what was formerly the middle class was what really kept the American economy propped up. Hershey's chocolate, Campbell soup, and even Wal-mart are beginning to realize that selling to the American middle class is a losing proposition, as those people have no money to spend. The share of households in the middle tier of income earners has dropped from fifty five to forty three percent since the 1970s, and the incomes for those middle Americans has not increased since that time.
We don't have good numbers for what income level makes somebody part of the middle class, but the U.S. government does declare a minimum, called the federal poverty line, and some forty five percent of all workers in the country exist below it. Almost half of all workers make so little at their jobs that they are officially poor. The democratic party's policies include increasing the minimum wage and instituting credit for child care that help poor people keep more of their hard earned money, potentially allowing them to rise out of poverty. In contrast, the republican party is all about tax cuts for the wealthy. If you are rich, go ahead and vote republican. They support your interests. But most people aren't rich. In fact, most people are having trouble just getting by. I know where my vote goes, and it's not for the rapacious interests of the rich.
Corporations are sociopaths. When the system is set up to reward good behavior and catch and punish malefactors, they’ll behave well. But if they could make more money by kidnapping toddlers and selling them into slavery, they would. And According to the prevailing understanding of corporate ethics, CEOs would be remiss in their fiduciary duty to their stockholders if they ignored the growth opportunities in the toddler slave market.
At most colleges in this country your class is likely to be taught by a so called adjunct professor, a teacher hired cheap and paid by the class, allowing the college to avoid paying fair wages and benefits. One such teacher, who taught at Seattle University, died recently from an untreated thyroid condition, as he was unable to afford health care. Working for a system that devalued his labor, like thousands of other industries in this country, the professor made eighteen thousand dollars a year teaching philosophy. Adjunct professors do most of the teaching at American colleges, but are often paid less than the janitorial staff at those same schools.
The so called Gini coefficient is a measurement of the distribution of wealth within a country. A score of zero means perfect equality for all citizens, while a score of one hundred means that one person owns all of the wealth. The average score for all developed nations is sixty five. The Gini Coefficient score for the united states is eighty five. The U.S. is the most unequal society in the world, as the top ten percent wealthiest Americans control more than two thirds of all wealth in this country.
In news of corporate malfeasance, the auto manufacturer Volkswagen has been caught rigging hundreds of thousands of diesel cars to discharge lower level of polutants during an emissions test than during every day driving, and this fraud has been going on for years. The civil fines might bankrupt the company, and owing to the new Department of Justice policies of prosecuting company officers engaged in criminal activity, we might just see some high ranking executives marched off to the pokey for their crimes.
The days of mass refugee emigration are here. There are just so many people on the planet that when a region of it becomes inhospitable, due to war, or famine, or drought, or simple economic pressures, millions of people will move from where they are seeking a better place to live, all at once. One scenario played out sees two hundred million people fleeing towards a better life. The world will need to find a way to deal with future humanitarian crisis affecting millions.
An analysis comparing the local minimum wage to the local costs of living shows that Washington state has the only places in the country where it's possible to live within your means with a minimum wage income. The bad news is that the places in Washington where it is possible to live on such a wage are nowhere near cities where most people live. Washington has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, but it's simply not possible to live in the U.S. even at that wage. Five states, all in the south, have no minimum wage at all. On average, a minimum wage earner needs a sixty five percent raise in order to earn a living wage in their community.
In too big to jail news, a memo released within the Department of justice calls for jail time for corporate executives that commit fraud and other financial crimes. Previously the DOJ arranged for fines on corporations for malfeasance that were often less than the profit made by those crimes, and nobody went to jail. Business as usual. The new rules call for the prosecution of individual employees, not just the companies, involved in corporate financial shenanigans. No person went to jail for the irregularities and outright crimes committed by corporations responsible for the meltdown of the world's economies in 2008 and none are likely to, as the statute of limitations on those crimes has already expired. However, these new rules might function as an incentive to not break financial regulations in the future
Stock market unrest caused the paper loss of more than one hundred billion dollars by twenty four billionaires this week. One man in China lost a reported three point six billion dollars. Bill Gates, the richest man in America, lost an estimated three point two billion dollars. Now if you listen very carefully, you can hear the sound of the world's tiniest violins playing a sad song for these folks. That's one nice thing about not having any money in the stock market. At least you don't lose money when the market collapses.
The children's educational television show Sesame Street is now being underwritten by cable giant HBO. New episodes will appear first on the premium cable network, and then appear on PBS stations nine months later. Sesame street has had trouble getting funding as austerity hawks take over the U.S. budget process, and HBO's involvement will allow educational programming to continue. Yet it's hard to see this move without some irony. A program that was developed to help poor kids keep up academically with rich kids now relies on rich kids subsidizing the program behind a pay-wall so that they can watch it before poor kids can. There could be no more cruelly perfect metaphor for the ultra efficient sorting processes of socioeconomic privilege.
An alliance of U.S. based stock traders and computer hackers in Ukraine made as much as one hundred million dollars in illegal profits over the last five years by stealing confidential corporate memos and press releases before their official release. This is the first time that U.S. prosecutors have brought charges against those thought responsible for security fraud involving hacked inside information
Despite driving the world's economy into the ditch in 2008, not a single one of the world's bankers has seen the inside of a jail cell. Since 2009, forty nine financial institutions have paid nearly one hundred ninety billion dollars in fines and settlements, but it's not the bankers who have paid these fines but shareholders in those institutions, and are often tax deductible. The Justice Department has decided that putting bankers in jail, or even prosecuting them, is bad for the banking industry. In contrast, following the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, more than one thousand bankers of all stripes went to jail for their transgressions.
This week the New York wage board recommended that the state's fast food workers should make fifteen dollars an hour. The corporate class wasted no time decrying this state of affairs. The CEO of Dunkin Donuts, one Nigel Travis, who has also been an executive at Burger King and Papa Johns, declared that fifteen dollars an hour was quote absolutely outrageous unquote. Yet fifteen dollars an hour is only thirty thousand dollars a year, hardly an excessive amount in an expensive state like New York, especially when Travis's total compensation was over ten million dollars a year, or just under five thousand dollars an hour.
If you're an employer offering crappy jobs with crappy wages, you shouldn't be too surprised if people don't come flocking to your employ. If you think that teachers or garbage collectors or government workers or bus drivers or whomever make too much money for what they do, then offer to do those jobs for less money. You'll get hired, because nobody wants those crap jobs at the wages offered. Unions fight for their members. It's just that simple. Otherwise teachers would get the same benefits as coal miners, who were viewed as disposable and replaceable by mine bosses before the advent of unionization.
A computer crash brought down the networks used by the New York stock exchange on Wednesday. For almost four hours rich people had no idea how wealthy they were.
So it might be time to give up on one of life's simple indulgences. This week Irene Rosenfeld, the head of the conglomerate that produces Oreo cookies, announced that rather than invest one hundred and thirty million dollars to modernize production facilities in Chicago where the cookies have been made for a hundred years, the company would move operations to Mexico to save money. Six hundred people will be thrown out of work, but Rosenfeld will make twenty one million dollars in salary this year.
Here's where income inequality starts. Of America's one hundred top paid corporate CEOs, twenty nine made more money in executive compensation than their corporations paid in income taxes. The CEOs of Boeing and Ford Motors both received more than twenty three million dollars per year, but their companies received tax refunds. Seven corporations noted made seventy four billion dollars in pre-tax profit, but were given almost two billion dollars in tax credits, giving them an effective tax rate of negative two point five percent.
British Petroleum, or BP, has agreed to pay the largest environmental settlement in history by paying eighteen point seven billion dollars to pay for environmental damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil release. The money will be used to pay for damages to the environment as well as economic claims from local governments in the five states along the gulf coast. In 2010 an explosion caused by a blowout killed eleven crewmen on the rig, and the resulting discharge released an estimated four point nine million gallons of oil into the gulf of Mexico before the well was capped after eighty seven days later.
A message is from your wealthy corporate overlords. Attention subjects! The trans pacific partnership is the treaty so good that no one needs to see it! Do not attempt to find out about the process or the letter of the law we are having your governmental bodies put in place for us. Do not ask questions! We've worked hard to craft a global system of laws that benefit our most important constituents, YOU, our beloved captive consumer wage slaves. Don't take it from us, just listen to one of our loyal underlings, a Mr. B. Obama of Chicago Illinois, who said quote "The contents of the TPP isn't a secret. It's just benevolently withheld information unquote. And remember, these laws won't be applied by stuffy judges in black robes. Instead, it will be the corporate lawyers who will be implementing our new world order. So don't worry, and sign up today! Remember, TPP is really TMI. Brought to you by your corporate overlords, working for you!
Millionaires are expected to control half of the world's personal wealth by 2019, and their share is expected to increase from that. This according to a new report on Global Wealth by the Boston Consulting group. Also of note, the number of millionaires in the world increased to 17 million last year, up from 15 million the previous year. These 17 million people currently control 41% of the world's private wealth, up from 40% in 2013. The growing wealth is explained by rising stock market values and asset prices around the world. According to the report, 73% of the gains in global private wealth last year came from market performance on existing assets, rather than newly created wealth or business. The U.S. has the largest number of millionaires in the world, with 6.9 million persons. China had the second largest population of the truly rich, with 3.6 million persons. Also according to the report, the number of ultra high net worth households, those owing more than 100 million dollars, is expected to grow by 19 percent in the next four year, highlighting a growing divide between the rich and the ultra rich.
While Democrats see public higher education as a public good that contributes to economic growth and innovation, Republicans see higher education as a consumer good that only the wealthy should enjoy. These two visions will collide in 2016, the vision of everyday Americans and the vision of the Plutocrats.

In all these different cases, low-wage work is partially subsidized by government assistance. According to a recent report from the UC Berkeley Labor Center, poverty-level wages cost taxpayers $152.8 billion per year in public support. The cost for adjunct professors—$468 million–was a relatively small part of the whole. Nonetheless, it still meant that 100,00 faculty members, roughly one in four such families, received some form of public assistance. A state-by-state breakdown found poverty rates among part-time faculty ranged from a low of 9 percent in Nevada up to a high of 43 percent in Maine, for a national average of 22 percent. This is roughly 50 percent higher than the poverty rate for Americans as a whole (14.5% in 2013).

A property listing on Craigslist boasts three gyms, a fully stocked library and a theater with a full sound system. Not to mention the asking price is only $2,015.

Sound too good to be true? That's because the building is not actually up for sale. A student at Taylor High School posted a Craigslist ad for the Three Rivers Educational Campus as a senior prank.

“Seniors moving out!” the ad states before listing the campus' amenities, including two luxury kitchens, 6 locker rooms and all underclassmen included in the sale.

School administrators reportedly got a laugh out of the prank but fielded plenty of calls in response.

Five of the world's largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc, were recently fined about 5.7 billion dollars, and four of them pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges over manipulation of foreign exchange rates. A fifth bank, UBS AG, will plead guilty to rigging benchmark interest rates, the U.S. Justice Department said."

The fines are in answer to charges made by regulatory agencies and the Justice Department that the banks had acted in concert to manipulate international interest and foreign currency exchange rates.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the banks had engaged in “brazenly illegal behavior .. on a near-daily basis.” She added that the deal showed that the government “intends to vigorously prosecute all those who tilt the economic system in their favor [and] who subvert our marketplaces.”

The scale of the price-fixing scandal is hard to grasp, yet it touched, imperceptibly, almost every company and individual in the financial markets. By tweaking global benchmarks used to set foreign exchange and interest rates for a staggering number of transactions a day, the banks — over several years — bilked billions of dollars of extra profits by altering rates in their favor.

Critics complained that the Justice Department had failed to prosecute any additional individuals. Wall Street watchdog group Better Markets called it a “slap on the wrist,” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in an e-mail: “That’s not accountability for Wall Street. It’s business as usual, and it stinks.”

It turns out that when crime is organized enough, it isn't even against the law

It isn't news that researchers can reverse aging. It’s easy, at least it is in mice. You just transfuse older rodents with the blood of much younger mice and the bones of the older mice get rejuvenated. Now count all the people who would prefer not to suffer from old age, and multiply it by how much young blood each person would need. Factor in just how badly some people want to keep their youth and vigor, or get it back. Then consider that the group who would want that blood has all of society’s wealth and influence whereas those who would provide it have none. Remember the Matrix movies where people were kept in a virtual reality as they supplied power that kept the machines alive? Imagine that, except that the blood of the poor would literally be sold to the wealthy to keep the rich folks young.

Global Warming and Climate Change

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The Black Rock Investment Institute recently released a study meant to explain to an institutional investor what climate change might mean to investment portfolios. The report states that you may or may not believe man-made climate change is real or dismiss the science behind it. No matter. Climate change risk has arrived as an investment issue. Governments are setting targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This may pave the way for policy shifts that we could see ripple across industries. The resulting regulatory risks are becoming key drivers of investment returns. This is widely understood almost everywhere in the world, except inside the hermetically sealed bubble of US conservatism. Inside that bubble, they still believe that climate skeptics are winning the debate, that the whole edifice of climate science is about to crumble. They still believe that electing a Republican president is all it will take to get rid of climate regulations once and for all. They still believe that coal can be revived and that oil and gas are the economic future.
A hurricane with the strongest winds ever measured in such a storm made landfall in a mountainous region of Mexico last week, and immediately lost its energy in the rugged terrain. If the storm had hit a populated area, the death toll would have been very great indeed. Maybe this storm was made worse by the ever warming ocean temperature, but there are those who still deny that the earth is heating up, and that mankind is responsible for it. Our future will hold more and increasingly severe storms in the years to come.
There are those who doubt that the planet is heating up, and who certainly don't believe that humans are responsible, or that anything can be done about it. But last winter was the hottest on record globally, and this will be the hottest year ever recorded, beating the previous hottest year on record, last year. This year has seen a record twenty one tropical cyclones, or Pacific hurricanes, of strength four or five. Seven of this years ten months so far have been the hottest such months on record. You are entitled to your own opinions, but facts? The facts don't care what you think.
Climate change is a real thing. The science pretty much proves it. So why are so many people in denial about the issue? I think that attacks on climate change are seen as an indictment of the lifestyles of the rich and powerful. Where you live, what car you drive, how many miles you drive it. All are seen as attacks on a person's way of life that they are resentful of. And these feelings are not going to be assuaged by reason alone. So climate change deniers do so because they see the science as an attack on their cherished life style, and there's no changing that feeling.
The aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin slammed into South Carolina, dropping over sixteen inches of rain in some places. Called a once in a millennium storm, it is certainly one of the worst flood events in U.S. history, and the rain fall has resulted in widespread flooding and a dozen deaths along the east coast. But remember, Republican politicians, who are most definitely not scientists, say that there is no correlation between storm intensity and rising ocean temperatures, and we certainly shouldn't be blaming humans for global warming.
I've told you before about how republicans deny that the world is heating up and that humans have anything to do with it. After President Obama spoke recently about the threat to national security that climate change poses for us, Donald Trump said that quote "you can't get hurt with extreme weather" unquote. This might be news to the people of South Carolina who were so recently dealing with so called thousand year floods. The thirteen people who were killed by the storm might beg to differ with the Donald. So yes, you can get hurt by extreme weather, and the weather will continue to be more extreme into the indefinite future.
It is a matter of fact that conservatives deny that humans are having an impact on global climate, despite all evidence to the contrary, and certainly all republicans running for president share that view, including Doctor Ben Carson, currently running second in polls. Jerry Brown, once again Governor of California, was kind enough to forward to the good doctor a United Nations Report that analyzed thirty thousand scientific papers written by more than eight hundred scientists from around the world. The report concluded that quote human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed across all continents and oceans unquote. Now that sounds pretty definitive to me.
Fossil fuel companies have spent millions of dollars buying the Republican party and distorting the discourse on climate change with misinformation and outright lies. This, despite being warned by their own corporate scientists in a 1977 memo that carbon dioxide releases into the atmosphere were certain to be heating up the planet. Another memo, written in 1982 and marked not to be distributed externally, reported that preventing global warming would require sharp cuts in fossil fuel use, and that failure to do so could result in potentially catastrophic events that might not be reversible. So if Exxon Mobile knew about human caused climate change and global warming in 1982, how come our Republican friends haven't gotten the message yet?
The conservative position on climate change is simple and coherent. They think that it's a hoax at best and a scam by liberals at worst, and that as there is no problem, no action is required. The progressive position is that the world is heating up and that humans are causing it, and that if we don't take steps to combat it now, cataclysmic damage to the planet will result. These viewpoints are incompatible, and explains the lack of bipartisanship in politics today. One side believes that there is a fundamental threat to human life on earth, and that the stakes could hardly be greater, while the other side is convinced that it's a scam to increase governmental power, and should be resisted to one's dying breath. Republicans have become ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by facts, evidence, or science, and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
The warming of the earth's oceans from El Nino and global warming contributed to an unprecedented three category four hurricanes forming a string of deadly pearls that stretched across the Pacific this week. This had never been observed in over one hundred seventy years of hurricane watching. Because global warming is heating the ocean's waters as never seen before, and the warmth of the water is directly proportional to the severity of the storms that form over that water, the risk of catastrophic hurricane disasters is expected to increase by more than ten fold this century.
President Obama will become the first president to visit the Alaskan arctic this week as he visits that state to deliver a speech at the State Department's conference on climate change. The president will travel to see the damage caused by global warming, damage that has been noted by scientists for years. Some three point five trillion tons of glacier ice have melted since Alaska became a state in 1959. Melting permafrost has warped roads and pipelines, as the ground temperature is seven degrees warmer and the air temperature is three degrees warmer since statehood. Last year was the hottest in Alaska ever measured, but this year is a full degree warmer than last year. Not only is Alaska melting as the world gets hotter, but the increase is accelerating.
Washington State continues to burn, as wildfires have burned more than half a million acres this summer, an area the size of Rhode Island. Smoke from the fires got so bad this week that the planes and helicopters fighting the fires were grounded due to poor visibility. Firefighters from around the world including Australia and New Zealand are among those working the fire lines in the state, but it's still not enough people. The state Department of Natural Resources issued a request for qualified citizens to help work the fire lines. Also working the fires are seven hundred members of the Washington National Guard, as well as two hundred active duty soldiers, as well as a student disk jockey from this station. Even now there are more than two hundred sixty wildfires burning in seventeen states.
New satellite research from NASA shows that not only are ocean levels rising but that increase is accelerating. NASA estimates that ocean water levels around the world have risen three inches in the last twenty years and show no signs of stopping. Melting polar ice packs and land locked glaciers as well as thermal expansion of ocean waters are responsible for the increase in ocean levels, but the root culprit is global warming. As the earth's atmosphere heats up, the ice melts and water expands, and ocean levels are expected to rise as much as three feet over the next century. Nice little planet you've got there. It'd be a shame if something happened to it.
The Seattle area broke all kinds of temperature records this year as we recorded twelfth days with temperatures over ninety degrees. Seattle also recorded twenty three days this year of temperatures exceeding eighty five degrees, a record set just last year. And it also set the record for consecutive days with temperatures over seventy degrees. So next time that senator snowball says that there can't be global warming because there's snow on the ground, remember that climate change is subtle, just a fraction of a degree each year, but inexorable, and leading to more extreme weather every year.
Let's not argue about this. The earth is heating up. The Japanese Meteorological Agency reports that temperatures have risen by two thirds of a degree Celsius or about two degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. This may not seem like much, but it isn't stopping either. but before we can do anything about it, we have to agree that there is a problem. for what ever reason, the debate is politicized, with an entire political party convinced that it is some sort of liberal plot. They said the same things about acid rain and damage to the ozone layer. These were problems that were eventually addressed by federal law, and were eventually mitigated if not solved. People used to think that the earth was the center of the universe too, but I bet that there are republicans who haven't signed off on the memo. some of them are probably running for president too.
This last July was globally the hottest July on record and five of the seven months so far were the warmest of their name ever. 2015 is almost certain to be the hottest year on record. The world is dumping forty billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, and see oh two isn't the only gas contributing to the greenhouse effect. Thirteen million square miles of arctic ice melts each year. Four hundred fifty billion tons of antarctic and Greenland ice melts each year. Our land locked glaciers are melting at an accelerated pace. Temperature records fall as often as there is a measurement. And temperatures keep going up. yet we fiddle while the world burns.
The upcoming warming of equatorial ocean waters known as El Nino is being described as akin to Godzilla in magnitude, but what does this mean for us weather wise? While the water will warm up only a degree or two, the effect on global weather is profound. California should expect more rain than normal, although maybe not sufficient to end its current drought. The pacific northwest should expect another warm low snow pack year, putting strain on salmon, hydroelectricity, and ski resorts, as well as increased wild fires next year as well. Who gets our snow? Colorado and the rocky mountain states will get snow that we count on for water through the year. More weather forecasts as the future becomes the present.
Global warming turned deadly this week as three men fighting one of the one hundred wildfires in this state were killed when a shift in the wind caused flames to over run their position. Four other firefighters were injured, one critically with burns over sixty percent of his body. Some twenty nine thousand people, some from as far away as New Zealand, are fighting fires in six western states. Over eleven thousand acres of timber have been consumed by fires this season. The town of Tonasket was evacuated on Thursday, emptying the town of one thousand people. Fire officials in the state have not been able to keep track of the homes lost to wildfire, owing to the ever increasing number of fires and their size.
The wettest rain forest in the united states has caught on fire. Started by lightning and still burning with about two thousand acres consumed, this wildfire on the Olympic Peninsula isn't the biggest in the country, but it is symbolic of human caused global warming. Sure, you might not notice a change in the average of a couple of degrees, but more extreme weather events will cost Americans millions if not billions of dollars in the years to come
Most of the heat of global warming is retained by the world's oceans, and arctic sea ice has been retreating at twelve percent per decade since the nineteen seventies, and the melt has accelerated in the last ten years, and the national geographic society has had to redraw their maps to account for the retreating sea ice. some day people will look back to the halcyon days of 2015 and note that that's when the effects of climate change really began to be noticeable. Record setting heat waves killed more than one thousand people in India and Pakistan. The rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula caught fire in a record setting drought. London reached a temperature of ninety eight degrees. Global ocean temperatures rose to their highest levels in history. Humans have a front row seat for a global environmental catastrophe, and it's probably too late to affect change in the accelerating changes that are about to take place.
High temperatures and record low rainfall and snow pack in the pacific northwest are combining to create record deaths in the salmon populations swimming up the Columbia river to spawning grounds upstream. Half of the five hundred seven thousand salmon that passed the Bonneville Dam have died because of record high water temperatures which are five to seven degrees hotter than normal. And this is the wave of the future, as climate change threatens to alter the way water is used in the west. Teresa Scott is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife drought coordinator, and she say quote The water temperatures in the Columbia River are nearing lethal levels for salmon. There is no doubt on the part of our climatologists that say that these are the kind of conditions that we will see in the future. We are mounting short term responses this year, and are anticipating a recovery from these conditions in the near term, but certainly this is a wake up call and a dress rehearsal for what fishery managers years from now will be dealing with on a regular basis unquote.
Drought in this country continues at record levels, including in Washington state. Along with the drought comes record wildfires affecting public lands. Another reason that wildfires are worse this year than ever before is the presence of pilot-less flying vehicles, popularly known as drones, that seem to swarm around such fires. Aerial firefighting operations are severely hampered by the presence of drones within the airspace needed to fight the fires. A recent fire in California was being observed by no less than five drones that precluded helicopter fire retardant drops. An official report on the fire stated that the drones posed a major safety threat to firefighting pilots and firefighters. When a hobby drone is flown into a fire area, incident commanders have no choice but to suspend air operations until the drone is removed from the area. Such drones have hampered California firefighters at least four times this year.
Four hundred thirteen scientists from fifty eight countries contributed to a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report, titled State of the Climate 2014, tells us how climate changed, often for the worse, in 2014. The short version? 2014 was the hottest year on record. Sea levels reached their highest levels, and show no signs of decrease. There were ninety two named storms, well above the average of eighty four named storms. Glaciers around the world are disappearing at an accelerating rate. Carbon Dioxide, Methane, and Nitrous Oxides were released at record levels. So tell me. If ninety seven out of a hundred doctors told you that you were going to die, would you listen to those three doctors, or would you try treatment to try to extend your life? Because that's where we are as a planetary species. Millions of us are doomed in the future if we don't take suitable action now.
Last month the Pacific Northwest suffered through the hottest June on record, with the average temperature more than three degrees hotter than the previous record average temperature for the month of June which was set in 1992. And it wasn't just the Seattle area that saw record temperatures. It was the hottest June on record for the entire planet, eclipsing the previous record high temperature for June set only last year, and the first six months of 2015 were the hottest January through June on record, with record high average temperatures set for February, March and May. So when Senator Inhofe brings a snowball onto the senate floor and says that global warming can't be happening because there's snow on the ground, remember that our temperatures are setting record highs with record low rainfall. Then try to convince me that global warming and climate change is not a real thing.
It's not the earth's orbit. It's not the changing temperature of the sun. It's not volcanoes. It's not even a combination of these changes. And it's not deforestation. It's not a change in ozone levels or aerosol pollution. It IS an increase in greenhouse gasses. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are 40% higher than they were in 1750.
Last month the Pacific Northwest suffered through the hottest June on record, with the average temperature more than three degrees hotter than the previous record average temperature for June which occurred in 1992. Last June would be the twelfth warmest July on record, or the ninth hottest August on record. And it's not only is it record setting heat. June was the fourth driest on record, with less than a quarter inch of rain during the month.
California continues to suffer through its historic drought, and two communities outside of Los Angeles have found arsenic in the ground water being concentrated to now dangerous levels. Arsenic has been linked to cancers of the bladder, lungs and skin, as well as birth defects and nervous system damage. The water in several communities is now unsafe to bathe in, let alone drink.
A non-scientific survey by YouGov tells us that 41 percent of Americans think that dinosaurs and humans either definitely or probably once lived on the planet at the same time, while 43 percent think that this is either definitely or probably not true, while 16 percent of Americans are not sure. Now the last dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago, while the earliest ancestors of people were here about 6 million years ago. You can have the opinion that this isn't true, and you're entitled to your opinion. However, you are not entitled to your own set of facts. The fact is that dinosaurs were gone from the earth some 60 million years before anything even remotely related to the species that would eventually become humans. Persons believing otherwise are as dumb as the paleolithic rocks that show the separation of these dates.
Pope Francis has released a letter to the world's Catholics calling for bold action on the related problems of climate change and economic inequality and poverty. He argues that the continued use of fossil fuels and the "unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem" pose grave consequences for all of us, especially the world's poor. The text is both a practical as well as a theological treatise on the ills facing us in the 21st century, and it's pretty apocalyptic. The letter is in the form called an encyclical, a term used to describe the pope's view on a significant topic, and it seems to be written on behalf of the world's poor. In the letter, the pope cites both science and scripture to make his case for action on climate change. His opinions on science of climate change as well as its affect on the poor should be of no surprise. After all, he took the name of Francis to honor Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. Nor is this pope the first to focus on the environment. The previous two popes also wrote extensively about the special burden environmental destruction forces on the poor. However, no previous pope has injected himself so firmly into the political debate on climate change. Pope Francis will address a joint session of congress in September, the first pope to ever do so. He will also address world leaders at the United Nations.

Gun Violence and Gun Culture

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The cost of gun violence with special guest appearance by comedian Chris Rock (long form, no script exists)
Only in America. A new shopping network is set to take to the airwaves in January, as Gun TV will begin airing four hours of gun sales on television to entertain and arm the American public. The new network plans to provide twenty four hour a day sales programming in a few months, allowing Americans to arm themselves at home without having to brave the brown hoards that threaten the lives of innocent gun owners. The network intends to market itself to those Americans who want more guns, but are afraid to go outside. Gee, maybe if they were better armed, then wouldn't be so afraid, don't you think?
Over the course of the last five years, almost four hundred people were shot to death by police officers in Los Angeles. Not one police officer was prosecuted for a single one of those shootings. On the other hand, nine in ten of those killed by the police had a firearm or a knife in their possession. The police have to assume you're armed in some way, and they will kill you without hesitation. Now cops have a terrible job, and they confront life and death decisions every day, so props to them. But our over armed society now allows the police to use deadly force with a great deal of latitude.
A woman in Colorado Springs called emergency services to report that a suspicious man was brandishing a rifle on her street, only to be told that Colorado is an open carry state, and the man was not breaking any laws. Her second call to emergency services that day was to report that the man with the rifle was now shooting people. Now three people are dead because the line between open carry and active shooter is so tiny that the police can't respond until it's too late. This is where our gun culture chickens have come to roost.
A police officer in Illinois was found dead in the woods after he had reported that he was engaged in a foot pursuit of several unknown suspects, but it turns out that he wasn't killed by bad guys. The officer in fact died by his own hand after creating an elaborate and carefully staged suicide, and actually shot himself with his own service weapon. It turns out that he was under investigation for embezzling money from a police explorers group that he helped run. So instead of a hero cut down in the line of duty by criminal elements, he was in fact a criminal himself, stealing money from potential police officers.
It's not even news anymore. A two year old boy in Georgia found a loaded handgun on a bed and proceeded to kill himself with it. The child's father and four year old brother were home at the time. So who leaves a loaded handgun within reach of a two year old? A stupid person that's who. Another person who would fail the smart enough to own a gun test.
Tell me if this sounds like a society that needs more guns. A Texas couple got permission from their home owners association to paint their house in sky blue and teal. That wouldn't be much of a story but they have received death threats from people who don't like the color of their house. Is threatening to kill somebody for the color they've painted their house acceptable behavior now? Does this sound like a rational society that needs more killing tools among us?
A good guy with a gun stopped potential gun violence in a Kansas movie theater when he dropped his gun and shot himself in the leg. Obviously this guy was expecting to be the hero who stopped a mass shooter from killing dozens of people in the theater. Instead, he dropped his gun and shot himself, proving that people who have guns are more likely to shoot themselves than protect themselves or the people around them.
A bullet doesn't care if your life is being threatened. It doesn't care if your masculinity has been challenged. If you pull the trigger, the bullet doesn't care who it hits. An incident of road rage in New Mexico killed a four year old girl in the back seat of a vehicle after a person in another car shot into it. What began as an exchange of heated words escalated into an assault that killed a little girl. Another kid, a seven year old boy, was also in the car. Multiple lives have been ruined because some hot head had a gun and chose to use it because another car refused to respect his authority. It's a tragedy.
There is a gun for every man, woman, and child in this country, but not everybody has a gun. The average gun owner now has over eight guns in his possession, double the number of guns that the average owner had twenty years ago. Fewer households have guns in them, but those that do have more guns than ever. Domestic firearm production and imports from foreign gun manufacturers have dramatically increased the number of guns that a shrinking number of households possess. A survey from 2006 estimates that twenty percent of gun owners possessed two thirds of all guns. I guess you need one for both hands and both feet when you decide to go on a rampage.
A Gallup poll taken in early October reports that a majority of Americans think that we as a society would be safer if everybody who passed a background check were to carry a gun at all times. An even larger majority of people report that they are in favor of universal background checks for gun purchases, but that they think that such checks would do little to decrease the numbers of mass shootings in this country. Personally, I've seen the comments sections of several web sites, and I don't think that any of those people should have guns, let alone carry one at all times.
An assistant prosecuting attorney in West Virginia was upset at some spiders contained in a Halloween office decoration, so of course he pulled a gun out and threatened to kill the fake spiders with it. The prosecutor has since been fired, and could face possible charges of reckless endangerment. A new office policy has since been released stating that only the office investigator can possess a gun in the office.
This years re-enactment of the famous gunfight at the OK corral resulted in the gun shot wounds of two people, as one of the reenactors neglected to replace the very real ammunition in his weapon with blanks for the show. While it's unclear if the reenactor was a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun, what is true is that two people were shot by somebody who until the day before the shooting considered himself a responsible gun owner.
People are stupid about guns. A woman in Georgia was braiding her daughter's hair when her nine millimeter pistol fell and struck the floor. The pistol discharged and killed the little girl. First, who needs a hand gun to braid a girl's hair? Second, who needs to have a round in the chamber when braiding hair? Again, there should be some sort of test required to have a gun, and this person would have failed that test, and her daughter would still be alive.
A federal appeals court has upheld gun control legislation that was passed in both New York and Connecticut after the Sandy Hook school shootings in 2012. The court said that the gun laws pass constitutional muster because the prohibitions on some semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines are substantially related to the important governmental interests of public health, safety and crime reduction. Gun rights groups in both states have stated that they will appeal the appeals court decision.
If you think that you've heard this story before, it's because you have, and these things happen with frightening frequency. A six year old boy in Chicago was playing with the fully loaded gun that his father put on top of the refrigerator for safe keeping, and shot and killed his three year old brother. I have to say that the top of the refrigerator is simply not a good substitute for a proper gun safe, and kids are fascinated by guns. The father of the children is now facing felony charges of child endangerment.
It's no secret that Chicago has a gun violence problem, where a typical weekend will see fifty people gunned down. A proposal from the Mayor of Chicago to buy back guns is being thwarted by a group calling itself Guns Save Life, who pledge to sabotage the gun buy back effort by bringing in rusted and inoperative guns to soak up all of the money that would otherwise remove guns from Chicago streets. Organized by churches and other civic organizations, the buy back program took fifty five hundred guns off the street in 2012, but Guns Save Life is pledging to take advantage of the program that would otherwise take guns off the streets of Chicago.
I knew this story happened in Texas before I even read the story. A woman who was waiting in a doctors office reached into her purse for some paperwork, and spilled her loaded and unsafe hand gun onto the floor. The weapon discharged, and the bullet went through a wall and wounded another patient in the hip. Another person that would fail the smart enough to have a gun test.
If the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun, then the only thing that stops a shoplifter is a vigilante bystander with a gun. Or, at least, that’s what an unidentified woman in Detroit apparently decided shortly before she opened fire on an SUV carrying a man who was fleeing after shoplifting at the nearby Home Depot. Now she did have a concealed weapons permit, but that only allows you to carry a weapon out of plain sight. The permit does nothing to absolve you of any innocent bystanders that might be hit as you spray the parking lot with hot lead. And who thinks that it's OK to kill somebody who was shoplifting? Let's leave those bad decisions to the cops.
A new law in Texas, naturally, will allow students and teachers on college campuses in that state to carry concealed weapons on campus. This law, which is scheduled to begin with the new school year, will take effect exactly fifty years after the first mass shooting on a college campus, which also occurred in Texas and killed a dozen people and injured 31. Some students at that same University of Texas in Austin are promising to protest the new law by organizing a Campus Dildo Carry. These students are taking large dildo sex toys and strapping them onto their back packs. The hash tag cocks not glocks is being used to organize the protests.
Forty seven years before the recent shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon, Senator Robert Kennedy passed through that town while campaigning for the presidency. Among other topics, Kennedy, whose brother John was cut down by a sniper's bullet five years earlier, spoke out on the need for stricter gun control measures. Robert Kennedy was also killed by an assassin's bullet later that year.
Kids are just fascinated by guns. They obsessively watch TV and see all of the guns on display from one cop show to the next, so when a parent thinks they've hidden the guns away, the toddler knows. But kids, hell some adults, don't know how to handle guns. So far this year, forty three people have been shot in this country by toddlers age three or younger. They usually end up shooting themselves, but the people around them aren't safe at all.
Most mass shootings in this country don't even make the news. There are just too many of them, and unless there's something noteworthy about the incident, we don't even hear about them. A shooting in Florida that killed one and wounded five this week is only notable because it took place at a costume convention in Fort Myers known as Zombicon. It's unlikely that somebody thought that the zombie apocalypse was real and started shooting at the undead hordes. What is more likely is that somebody with a beef, anger management issues, and a gun, which in Florida is most likely everybody, lost their temper and decided to win the argument permanently. It was the second mass shooting in Fort Myers this week, and it represents too many guns owned by too many stupid people and people are dead because of it.
The Centers for Disease Control is forbidden by law from keeping statistics or doing research on the relationship between gun ownership and gun violence. Soon to be former Speaker of the House John Boehner says that the CDC shouldn't study gun violence because quote "a gun is not a disease" unquote. Yet neither are alcohol or tobacco, which are also health issues that the CDC does study. I say that if it kills people, it's a health issue, and let the CDC do the research so that we as a voting public can make informed decisions on issues that affect public health.
Millions of Americans own guns, mostly with the belief that they are needed to protect their homes and families. But some two hundred thousand guns are stolen every year, and more guns mean more homicides and more suicides. Dead men, women, and children, all across the political spectrum. Our gun culture means that tens of thousands of people die, unnecessarily, every year, because of the myths surrounding guns.
It's no secret that gun sales skyrocketed after the election of America's first black president, as gun hoarders were worried that Barack Obama would personally come and confiscate their guns. One of those hoarders was the mother of the shooter who killed so many people at Umpqua Community College recently. In news that I couldn't possibly make up, she began to hoard guns because she feared that gun ownership would be restricted due to so many mass shootings. That young man took six of his mothers fourteen guns to the school in an attempt to ruin as many lives as possible. And now his mother's paranoia may well be a contributing factor in the restrictions of guns that she hoped to avoid. We can only hope.
Is it any sort of news that people are stupid about guns? People drop them and shoot themselves or others by accident all the time. Or guns are left out where irresponsible people, like kids, can access them. In Tennessee, an eleven year old boy got into an argument with an eight year old girl about access to a puppy, then went and got his father's shotgun and blew the little girl away. I think that it's safe to say that no eleven year old should have access to shotguns, right?
An eleven year old boy in Moore, South Carolina picked up a loaded gun and killed his brother with it. The local Sheriff reports that two men were examining three guns left on a picnic table when the boy picked one of them up and pulled the trigger. The gun was loaded and the safety was off, and they let an eleven year old boy pick it up. These people are too stupid to own guns. It's too bad you don't have to pass some sort of test to own guns like you do with a car. These people would have failed it.
The same day as a shooter killed nine and left other injured in Oregon, North Carolina saw the imposition of a seventy two hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion. North Carolina has no waiting period to buy a gun. In fact, twenty eight states require that women wait from twenty four to seventy two hours between an initial consultation and an actual abortion procedure, while only nine states require any sort of waiting time to purchase a gun. The Republican insistence upon absolute, unfettered freedom to own, carry, or stockpile weapons stands in stark contrast to their dedication to restricting women’s personal choices. Potential life – with all its promise and power – means far more to these demagogues than the actual lives of people alive here on Earth, right now.
Another mass shooting at a school, this time at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where one person was killed and three others wounded on campus. We'd offer our thoughts and prayers to the victims, but we're fresh out, having spent all of our thoughts and prayers at the last mass shooting. Is it still too soon to talk about last year's mass shootings? I'm completely unsure of what the allowable grace period is on these things.
Do you remember lawn darts? I remember lawn darts. They looked like the darts that you throw in any pub in the country, but bigger, football sized. You tossed them at hoops some yards away like playing horseshoes. But they killed three people back in the day, and the Consumer Protection Agency banned them. Seems kind of quaint today, as thirty three thousand people are killed by guns each year. If there had been a National Lawn Darts Association back then, or a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the rights of militias to have lawn darts, we might still be able to play with these potentially deadly toys.
Planned Parenthood provides needed, essential health care to 2.7 million Americans each year. These services save lives, help keep families healthy and intact, and prevent thousands of unintended pregnancies which, as every relevant health study has shown, reduces the rate of abortion. Yet the current Congress has spent millions of dollars investigating debunked claims of an imaginary baby parts black market. In contrast, they have refused to even consider funding a simple, non-binding study on the effects of gun violence on public health, which causes more deaths each year in the U.S. than in any other industrialized nation on Earth. This is the hypocrisy of the GOP pro-life ideology. While 51 new abortion restrictions have been enacted at the state level during the first half of this year alone, not a single bill has reached the floor of the US House that would attempt to address gun violence. Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted investigating a health care organization that saves lives and, sometimes, provides a constitutionally-protected and necessary health care procedure that interrupts pregnancy. Yet we are told it’s not worth spending a cent to learn how to save the lives of living, breathing, studying, working, family-raising human beings.
Gun violence only makes the news if somebody important is shot, or if there is an unusual number of victims. The truth is that on average, some ninety two people are killed by guns in this country every day. It's not because America is somehow unlucky. We're unique in the world in that there is a gun for almost every man, woman, and child in this country. No place else in the world has the level of gun violence as does the United States.
Once again the nation is shocked to discover that guns kill people. This time somebody with a beef got a gun and killed ten people and injured seven others. Guns will kill thirty three thousand Americans this year, and injure eighty thousand more. Imagine the entire population of Bellingham cut down by gun violence that costs two hundred thirty billion dollars a year. Each and every year. This is madness. How can we, as a so called civilized society tolerate this? Madness.
After the latest mass shooting, President Obama called on lawmakers at all levels of government to implement common sense gun safety laws, and has asked the American people to demand action on the issue. He said that quote "this is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. Our thoughts and prayers for the victims is not enough. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun" unquote. The most recent mass killing is notable for having so many victims. A mass shooting of four or more people happens every day on average in this country. Too many deranged people have easy access to weaponry that can kill dozens of people at a time. This is madness.
The National Rifle Association's twitter account is usually buzzing with activity, telling us about attempts to curtail gun rights, or promoting shooting events or gun safety classes. The only time that it goes silent is after a mass shooting makes the news. Then it tends to get real quiet for about twenty four hours after such an event, then it goes back to business as usual.
I've spent a lot of time being afraid recently. Really afraid. I mean, I'm not afraid of teenagers building clocks. I'm not afraid of women having economic empowerment or sexual freedom. I'm not afraid of two men or two women getting married, and I'm not afraid of black people wearing hoodies or playing music. I'm not even afraid of terrorists coming to kill me in my sleep. What I'm really afraid of is some random angry white guy with a gun whose been told repeatedly that his country is dying and that he needs to take it back.
Here's an idea. How about we treat men who want to buy guns like we treat women who want abortions? You know, mandatory forty eight hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he knows what he's about to do, make him watch a video on gun violence, intrusive ultrasound wands, the works. Then let's close down all but one gun store in every state so that he has to travel hundreds of miles, make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding pictures of gun shot victims screaming insults at him. Because the same constitution that guarantees unlimited to access to guns that take life has determined that women have equal or greater access to decisions on giving life. Sounds fair to me, right?
You can hear it. The pro gun lobby is telling us that after the latest mass shooting we as a society need more guns for us to be safer. More guns? There is already a gun for every man, woman, and child in this country. Each and every one of us could be packing heat all the time. Would you feel safer knowing that everybody is armed, and liable to kill you as cross the street? We can't even get people to stop using their phones in theaters. How could we get people to use these killing tools responsibly?
The shooting deaths of twenty school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary happened less than three years ago. Since then there have been 986 mass shootings in this country that have killed over twelve hundred people and wounded thirty five hundred more. There have been forty five school shootings just this year. Regular everyday normal shootings kill over thirty three thousand people a year in this country. How can we as a society even survive this kind of everyday violence?
In 1996, a man in Tasmania used two rifles to kill thirty five people and injure twenty three more. Australian lawmakers were justifiably horrified by the carnage and within two weeks passed sweeping gun control laws that changed how that nation dealt with gun violence. A national gun buy back program purchased nearly one million guns from the Australian public. After the buy back, the risk of being killed by a gun declined by fifty percent, and gun suicides fell by eighty percent. A license is now required to own a gun, and owners are reevaluated every five years. If reliable evidence of mental or physical illness is found, the license is revoked. There are still guns in Australia, and there are still shootings. However, gun nuts who are found to be nuts have their guns taken away, and the entire country is safer for it.
The presidential candidates have responded to the latest mass shooting, and what they have to say is more than predictible. The republican candidates offer prayers and thoughts for the victims, and blame the shootings on mental illness, as if the shooter was somehow killing people with the power of his brain. Jeb says that stuff happens, while Trump says that the massacre was horrible, but these things happen. Right. The democratic candidates, in contrast, have called for, as Bernie Sanders put it quote "sensible gun control legislation which prevents guns from being used by people who should not have them." unquote. It seems to me that only the democratic presidential candidates are actually calling for policy changes, while the republican candidates are just fine with the status quo.
In every country but the U.S., gun violence is seen as a threat to public health, and those governments limit the danger to the public with strict gun control regulation. In this country gun violence is seen as just another natural disaster, something that we wish wouldn't happen to us, but are powerless to stop. Thousands of people are killed with guns every year in this country, and the rest of the world thinks we are insane.
This last summer, the state legislature in Idaho authorized teachers in that state to bring firearms into classrooms in an attempt to dissuade school shootings. So how's that working out? During the first week of classes at Idaho State University, a professor, who is now legally authorized to carry a gun, accidentally discharged a pistol in his pocket. In an allegory that I cannot possibly make up, the only person injured was the teacher himself, who seems to have shot himself in the foot. It seems that instead of making schools safer, teachers bringing guns to class presents the opportunity for more people to get shot.
To give you an idea of the shear scale of gun violence in this country, some six hundred fifty six thousand people were combat fatalities in all U.S. military conflicts combined over the last two hundred thirty nine years of U.S. history. But just since end of the Reagan administration, there have been over eight hundred thirty six thousand gun related deaths in this country. Almost two hundred thousand more people killed by guns in this country in the last twenty six years than were killed in combat in all of America's wars combined.
I first told you about the heavily armed white guys that call themselves the Oath Keepers when they descended on Ferguson Missouri to wave their guns around and be provocative, and I wondered where I'd heard about them before. Later on I was reminded that these guys went to the Cliven Bundy ranch in 2014 to fight what they considered liberal governmental overreach. Now they're arriving in Kentucky to "protect" the county clerk who was found guilty of contempt of court for not issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. The Oath Keepers - In front of the cameras with our big guns for far too long.
America's epidemic of gun violence continued this week as at least one hundred forty five people were killed by gunfire over the Labor Day weekend, and three hundred two people were wounded. Fifty five people were shot in Chicago alone. There is no appealing to people's higher nature. If you're carrying a gun, chances are that you'll use it, and nothing good will come from that. Five hundred seven children age eleven or younger have been killed or injured by guns since the beginning of the year.
America is awash in guns, with nearly a gun for every man, woman, and child in this country. Our fetish with guns is aided and abetted by political paralysis that refuses to address the very serious issues that the sheer number of guns presents. There is a mass shooting in this country every day, but we only notice when it's broadcast live on TV. Otherwise it's all just background noise in the political discussions that don't take place in this country.
A gun sales outfit in Florida, naturally, is selling AR-fifteen assault rifles with a bible verse etched onto the lower receiver. The verse, Psalm one forty four, says "blessed be the Lord My Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle." unquote. A spokesman for the seller says that quote, We wanted to make sure we built a weapon that would never be able to be used by Muslim terrorists to kill innocent people or advance their radical agenda unquote. Now only one of the two hundred fifty mass killings so far this year was perpetrated by a self proclaimed Muslim, and more people have been killed by right wing terrorists than by Muslim extremists since nine eleven, the spokesman for the gun seller had no comment regarding the use of this assault rifle in the killings of abortion providing doctors.
The father of the news reporter killed last week on camera in Virginia has said that he would make it his mission in life to get stronger gun laws passed. In response, Colion Noir, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association warned the family against becoming quote so emotional unquote in response to their daughters murder, and suggested that their quote grief inspired advocacy unquote was perhaps an inapropriate response. Noir also suggested that quote turning this murder into a gun control dog and pony show minutes after the shooting because you can't make sense of what just happened is ridiculous unquote. The NRA has a long history of attempting to shut down debate about gun control by claiming that such attempts are relying solely on emotions. And I keep asking, how long are we supposed to wait after a mass shooting before we can talk about solutions to the problem? A day? A week? A month? A year? There is a mass shooting every day in this country awash in guns. If we wait a month, there will be another thirty mass shootings that we're not supposed to talk about, lest our emotions somehow influence the debate.
A study from Johns Hopkins Medical Center reported that the number of suicides by gun in Connecticut decreased sharply after that state implemented a law requiring background checks before handgun purchases, while suicides by gun greatly increased in Missouri when a similar law was repealed in that state. Daniel Webster, the study's author, said that contrary to popular belief, suicidal thoughts are often transient, which is why delaying access to a firearm during a period of crisis could prevent suicide unquote. It turns out that many of the risk factors that disqualify someone from legal gun ownership, such as domestic violence, a history of committing violent crimes, substance abuse, mental illness and adolescence, are also risk factors for suicide. Two thirds of all gun deaths are suicides, and while women attempt suicide more frequently than men, more men successfully kill themselves because their choice of death is by firearm.
The New York Police Department, which studied two hundred thirty active shooter events, has issued guidelines for businesses to help them deal with office place shootings. Among their recommendations? Don't hide under your desk during an office rampage, as the typical office desk will not protect you against most ammunition and weapon types. So we can't get rid of guns, but we can design office furniture that is more weapon resistant. A mass shooting takes place every day in this country, many in the work environment.
America has the second highest murder rate in the world, but when it comes to guns we're number one. We're five times more likely to be murdered as a Brit would be, but we're over forty times as likely to be murdered with a gun. And while the gun homicide rate is actually declining, our easy access to guns keeps our suicide rate really high. In fact, twice as many people kill themselves with guns as kill other people with guns. So while mass shootings get all the press with an average of one per day, more people kill themselves than are killed by other people. And the suicide rate is increasing.
America's epidemic of mass shootings continued live on camera this week as a reporter and cameraman for a television news program on WDBJ in Roanoke Virginia were gunned down on live television by a former co-worker who showed up to a remote report and shot the pair as well as a guest being interviewed. The perpetrator later took his own life a few miles from the scene of the shooting. Now on average there is a mass shooting every day in this country, but this one was on live television and was therefore viewed by thousands of people. Most mass shootings don't even make the news any more, unless it happens to be live on television.
The televised shooting of the news crew in Virginia brought stark contrast to the two political parties this week. Hillary Clinton referenced the other mass shootings that have made the news in the last year or so, and said that she's going to continue to advocate for stronger gun control measures. Donald Trump said that This isn't a gun problem, this is a mental problem. That's what they should be focusing on instead of guns. They should be talking about mental health because there's so many things that can be done. And while it's good to see the republican front runner suddenly interested in mental health issues, I eagerly await Trump's proposals for increased funding addressing this issue.
After every mass shooting, and there is one on average of one per day, supporters of gun rights tell us that it's too soon to talk about gun control, and that people are trying to politicize the incident. Well here's the straight poop on politicizing these tragedies. Gun control is a political issue, and pointing out the failures of policy in solving the problems of gun violence is politicizing the issue only to the extent of the failure of these policies. And what is the correct waiting time after a mass shooting to begin this conversation? A day? A week? A month? If we wait a month, there will be thirty more mass shootings in this country to talk about. We should be talking more about gun control, not less, and certainly not after an unspecified period of introspection.
The staggering human toll of gun violence in this country is not just a random coincidence or somehow outside of our control. Gun violence and America's gun culture is the result of political choices. Gun control is a political issue, and there's nothing about it that isn't politicized. Reducing gun violence is easy. We simply lack the political will to do it.
Americans tolerate a surprising amount of gun violence in our culture. We don't even blink an eye any more. Oh we do look, just like we slow down to look at a crash on the freeway, but gun violence simply doesn't faze us any more. We just ignored the problem, and then the massacre at Sandy Hook happened. Twenty children and six adults were killed by one man in the deadliest mass shooting at a school ever, and nothing changed. Not a law passed, not a law enforced, just a tolerance of people with guns killing a lot of other people. Once we decided that killing children was tolerable, the debate was over. There is nothing that will shock us about gun violence enough to do something about it. Welcome to today. This is our world.
A company in Troy Michigan is selling flame throwers. Real honest to goodness flame throwers. Like twenty five feet of thrown flame. And while that seems like it could be a lot of fun, the mayor of nearby Warren Michigan is calling for a ban on the devices, saying that his concern is that flame throwers in the wrong hands could cause catastrophic damage either to the person who is using it or more likely the person who is being targeted. Unquote. Sales have skyrocketed since the discussions of prohibition because, just like America loves its guns, it turns out that they also love their flame throwers. Someday the flame thrower equivalent of the National Rifle Association will be telling us that we all need to carry our own personal flame throwers. After all, the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a flame thrower is a good guy with a flame thrower. There is currently no federal regulations on the possession, manufacture, sale or use of flame throwers.
In news that I couldn't possibly make up, a shooting range in Daytona Beach Florida has received approval to begin selling booze at the facility. The indoor range will have an attached restaurant that will also serve hard liquor. I know, Florida right? I'm sure that nothing will go wrong, and this will present franchising opportunities for businesses across the country. Either that, or somebody will drop their pistol and shoot themselves, something that happens surprisingly frequently at gun ranges, even gun ranges that don't serve liquor.
A fourteen year old boy used a handgun to take several students and a teacher hostage in a West Virginia high school on Tuesday. The rest of the school was evacuated while negotiations continued with the boy, who eventually released his hostages and surrendered to authorities without further incident. But we all know that it could have turned out much more tragically.
A gun range in Oklahoma that made national headlines for declaring itself Muslim free was the scene of a bizarre accident this week when a member of a self proclaimed patriot group shot himself at the range when he dropped his pistol. A sheriffs officer said that it didn't appear that the group members were particularly knowledgeable about firearms owing to the way that they handled and stored their weapons. The self inflicted injuries were not life threatening, but were very telling.
The city council of Seattle voted unanimously to approve a tax on firearms and bullets sold within the Seattle city limits, and would require that all stolen or lost weapons be reported to police. The tax is expected to raise around five hundred thousand dollars a year, which is a lot of money at twenty five dollars per gun and a nickle a bullet. The money will be used to mitigate the estimated twelve million dollars per year that Seattle spends on gun violence victims treated at Harborview Medical Center. Last year 253 gunshot victims were treated costing an average of sixty six thousand dollars apiece.
Another mass killing this week, this time in Houston, where a woman's ex boyfriend broke into her home, handcuffed the woman, her husband, and her six children,then proceeded to shoot each one in the back of the head. Again, men who think that they own women, their sexuality, and in this case her entire family, are responsible for another gruesome mass killing. If I can't have you then nobody can. Till Death Do Us Part indeed.
This week in people behaving stupidly with guns includes thirteen people who accidentally shot themselves, and thirteen kids shot accidentally with four fatalities. Three of the people who shot themselves were law enforcement officers, while another retired officer was accidentally shot by his brother while at a gun range. Finally, a sixty eight year old man who dropped his gun while attending a minor league baseball game.
Between 2000 and 2010 there were over one hundred five thousand homicides using firearms, but only ten cases of voter fraud. Now republicans have passed laws all over the country to restrict people's ability to vote because of the epidemic of voter fraud. But regarding the public health crisis that is gun violence? Nothing but Silence.
Another cop kills a black man in a traffic stop. In defense of the officer, he thought that he could get away with it. It's just another innocent cop forced to make a bad decision by an unruly black person. Oh the humanity!
Another day, another shooter entering a theater, this time in Nashville, but this story has a twist. The shooter was a twenty nine year old man who had been committed four times for mental illness. He was carrying two backpacks and was armed with a hatchet, pepper spray, and an air soft pistol that looked real enough that police shot and killed the man as he exited the theater. The backpacks contained items that looked like explosive devices, but were actually harmless. So a man counts on our response to armed persons in theaters to perpetrate suicide by cop.
Seattle is now a city where the sound of gunfire is simply background noise, like traffic and car horns. From January first through July twentieth, there were two hundred and twenty seven police reports of shots fired, with fifty eight people killed or wounded. That's better than one shooting per day. Shootings in Seattle are up twenty four percent over last year, and is up forty percent over 2013, and that was the year after the mass shooting at Cafe Racer in which five people were killed. In just one week, there were nine incidents in Seattle evenly broken out by gun fights and assaults, with one officer involved shooting. The police say that there are now so many shootings that they don't even report them all on the community outreach forums. There was a strafing of a family full of kids driving home from fourth of July fireworks, and police have linked the gun fired to seven other shootings this summer. How can we live like this?
In an interview with the BBC, President Obama admitted that his failure to pass common sense gun safety laws in the U.S. was his greatest frustration of his presidency. He said that it was distressing not to have made progress on the issue even in the face of repeated mass killings. The British can only marvel at what we call American Exceptionalism, an attitude that allows us to kill our own in such unprecedented numbers. But the only way that Americans are more free than citizens of other modern democracies is that we have the freedom to pack heat and kill our fellow citizens with impunity, and until societies attitudes towards gun ownership change, thousands more people will die.
After an anti tax, anti government, anti feminist, arch conservative opened fire and wounded nine people and killed three including himself in Layfayette Louisiana in July, the governor of Louisiana and republican candidate for president Piyush Bobby Jindal asked for us all to pray for the victims. But prayer seems kind of empty. When terrorists used planes as missiles in 2001, we didn't just pray for the people that were killed. During the Ebola epidemic of last year we didn't try to pray the disease away. And we don't pray that earthquakes will spare our lives and property. In each case, the government has taken concrete steps towards creating policies that prevent more tragedy. Airport security was changed, health care crisis teams formed and went to plague zones, and building codes were strengthened to better withstand earthquakes. But not for gun violence. Thousands of people in the country are killed by guns each year. Why doesn't policy change to address this serious health issue? If politicians fail to act, their prayers don't mean a thing.
Guns amplify the racism, foster hatred, and give an easy outlet to the mentally ill. The sad part is that we know this. We know it to be true. Even the vast majority of people who cling to the belief that only guns can stop guns understand the equation. Easy access to guns means more murder.
Mass shootings happen so often, and the circumstances seem so similar, that it's easy to tune them out. To ignore them, to not pay attention, to get on with our lives. But here we are, two hundred and five days into 2015, and there have been two hundred and five instances where four or more people have been shot. So one mass shooting per day. And sure, we took the mass shooting in South Carolina and had a productive discussion about the Rebel flag, but we're still buying guns at a record pace. So mass shootings in America are like air pollution in China. An endemic local health hazard which for deep rooted cultural, social, economic, and political reasons, is incapable of being solved.
Maybe you heard about the most recent shooting incident where three people were killed and nine others were wounded in a theater in Lafayette Louisiana this week. But in that week alone, there were at least fifteen other murder suicides committed with guns in the U.S. including one in Washington state. And because gun violence is almost exclusively a male crime, so many women are killed, with their male killers then taking their own lives. Not stopped by the police, and certainly not stopped by a good guy with a gun. Women dead because a man took their life, who then escaped justice by suiciding.
Gun manufacturers have done ahem bang up business ever since President Obama took office. Despite fears that the black guy was a comin' fer our guns, gun production in this country spiked one hundred and forty percent. There were ten point eight million guns sold in 2013 alone. We have a gun for every man, woman, and child in the country. So I have a question for those people that feel we would be a safer society if only we had more guns. Well, we have more guns than ever before in this country. How come there's an average of one mass shooting every day? Aren't we supposed to be safer now?
After a mass shooting that left thirty five people dead in 1996, the government of Australia banned all semi automatic rifles and shotguns. How did that turn out? Their homicide rate fell by fifty nine percent, and their gun suicide rate dropped by sixty five percent, yet their non firearm assisted rates of homicides and suicides didn't change. Could it have been the restrictions on gun ownership?
This last weekend, the FBI released a warning that the country should be on quote heightened terror alert unquote in the weekend leading up to the fourth of July holiday, and dozens of media outlets passed on the terror alert to their customers. This despite the fact that nothing wound up happening in the way of terrorist attacks. In fact, the FBI has declared forty such alerts over the last fourteen years and not one of them has actually represented an actual planned attack. Not some of them, not rarely, but never. There have been terrorist attacks, such as the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber, the times square bomber, the Boston Marathon bombers, and the white supremacist attacks in South Carolina. The problem is that these were not hyped up by the FBI and CNN. They were lone wolf attacks that were completely under the radar of law enforcement authorities. So we the people have become inured to the warnings, feeling that the FBI is crying wolf in asking us to be vigilant, to say something if we see something, and asking us to remain terrified and afraid of boogie men in the shadows. Instead, we've been trained to ignore warnings of threats that never seem to take place. If the government has suspicion of a terrorist act, I count on them to stop the attack, and not to scare us of monsters under the bed. Those who insist we live in fear and march us to war need to prove to us that there are terrorist threats that need defeating, and not just vague threats that never amount to anything. To keep us living in fear to line the pockets of private security firms does all of America a disservice.
A man in his thirties was killed, and a woman was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head and later died, after a dispute and shooting in Auburn's Les Grove park last Sunday night. Witnesses reported that the shooting happened after some sort of argument or altercation between a suspect and the two victims. The gunman then walked calmly to his pickup truck with his dog, and drove away. I'm sure that the gunman needed that gun to protect himself from some scary boogieman, and that these people somehow deserved to be shot for what they said. In any case, a suspect was arrested on Monday.
In 2014, a total of 253 victims of gun violence were treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The cost of treating these victims exceeded seventeen million dollars, of which over seventy percent was billed to and paid for by taxpayers. Across King county, the cost of gun violence has averaged over one hundred eighty one million dollars a year over the last few years. After the most recent mass shootings in South Carolina, President Obama called on America to recognize that gun violence is a problem unique to the United States in its size, scale, and cost to society, and asked us to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence.
In 1995, the state of Connecticut passed a law that required a permit or license as well as a background check in order to purchase a handgun. Since then, the state's firearm related homicide rate has declined by forty percent. During that time, homicide rates by other methods did not change. Is it too much to suggest that requiring background checks for handgun purchases could be responsible for this dramatic decline in firearm related homicide rates? The law also raised the minimum age for handgun purchase from eighteen to twenty one years of age, and also required at least eight hours of approved handgun safety training before handgun purchase could be allowed. In 2007, the state of Missouri repealed its handgun licensing laws, and later saw its handgun homicide rate increase by twenty five percent.
Have you seen the new eye phone case that's shaped like a large caliber semi automatic pistol? Lawmakers in Minnesota want to ban the gun shaped phone case, saying police could confuse it with a rock, a bandage, fruit, a game controller, or other things that innocent people have been shot for holding.
You've heard the phrase uttered by the Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the National Rifle Association that, quote "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." unquote. But it turns out that guns are hardly ever used for self defense, ostensibly the reason that most people own guns. In 2012 for every justifiable gun homicide there were 34 criminal gun homicides, 78 suicides using guns, and two accidental gun deaths. Now millions of people own and use guns for sport and recreation, and the majority of gun owners are responsible citizens, not criminals. However, it is obvious that the majority of guns are used in killing, rather than self defense.
The right wing supporters of gun rights has been chastising us for politicizing the most recent mass shooting, the most recent one in Charleston, South Carolina. But how prevalent are these mass shootings anyway? Harvard researchers Amy Cohen and Matthew Miller studied the frequency of mass shootings in our culture. They analyzed 69 mass shootings between 1982 and 2015, and found that before 2011 mass shootings took place at an average of every 200 days, but since 2011 such shootings have been taking place every 64 days on average. And while it's true that there are mass shootings in other cultures, Americans are 20 times more likely to die from gun violence as citizens of other developed countries. It doesn't have to be this way.
The right wing supporters of gun rights has been chastising us for politicizing the most recent mass shooting, the most recent one in Charleston, South Carolina. But how prevalent are these mass shootings anyway? Harvard researchers Amy Cohen and Matthew Miller studied the frequency of mass shootings in our culture. They analyzed 69 mass shootings between 1982 and 2015, and found that before 2011 mass shootings took place at an average of every 200 days, but since 2011 such shootings have been taking place every 64 days on average. And while it's true that there are mass shootings in other cultures, Americans are 20 times more likely to die from gun violence as citizens of other developed countries. It doesn't have to be this way.

Stupid Beliefs and Ignorance

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George Bush once famously asked, "is our children learning". They are, but it's a whitewashed version of history. The Texas education system is big enough to influence, nay dictate, what textbooks are used in the entire country. The publisher of McGraw-Hill textbooks is under fire for a schoolbook on World Geography that refers to the capture, import, and purchase of black African slaves as immigrant workers. The CEO of McGraw-Hill has sent a letter to employees saying that the company made a mistake, and that slavery quote was a horrible part of American history unquote, One that was papered over by his publishing firm. Approximately a quarter of the state's school districts are using versions of the textbook in question this year.
In Blount County Tennessee, the county council is preparing to pass a resolution asking almighty God to spare the region his coming wrath in retribution for the lawless federal judiciary forcing the state to perform same sex marriages. Titled "a Resolution condemning judicial tyranny and petitioning God's mercy" it says that as the governmental officers must swear an oath consistant with the moral law of god, the petition beseeches God to not destroy Blount County like he did Sodom and Gomorrah for the sins of America. So come the end times, we can all move to Tennessee, as there will be a small oasis where God's wrath spared the people. Presumably God will hold off on all the wrathing until the resolution can be considered and voted on, as it is currently seventh on the docket of things to be voted on by the council.
A measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sickened twenty three thousand people and killed over four hundred. Vaccination efforts have been initiated to try to contain the spread of the disease in one of the poorest areas of the world. In one village a third of all children under five died within two months, all because they hadn't been vaccinated against measles.
Florida representative Carlos Curbelo has been diagnosed with Pertussis, a disease also known as whooping cough. Pertussis is preventable as part of childhood immunizations, is typically marked with severe coughing fits, often strong enough to break ribs, and is particularly dangerous to small children and infants.
Whooping cough has returned and has achieved "outbreak levels" in Vancouver Washington. County Public Health director Alan Melnick reports that there are ten times the number of cases this year compared to last year. Young children are particularly susceptible. Initial symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, but are then followed by weeks and weeks of severe coughing fits, coughs hard enough to break ribs. Children under one year old may not cough at all, but instead have periods where they simply don't breathe at all. This bacterial disease is easily transmitted between people, but is also easily prevented by a series of vaccinations beginning at age eight weeks old. Pertussis infects some 16 million people worldwide each year, and kills some sixty one thousand of them. Why wouldn't you vaccinate your child against such a serious disease?
It turns out that Seattle kids have a lower polio vaccination rate than kids in Rwanda. Lower than kids in Zimbabwe, Algeria, Iran, Yemen and more. Lower polio vaccination rates than Mongolia. What are you parents thinking? That you want your kids to get polio? You've got to be kidding.
The world is currently living through the seventh and longest cholera pandemic in history. The pandemic began in Indonesia in 1961, and spread to twenty one countries in South America where it has killed twelve thousand people since 1991. Cholera belongs to a class of diseases spread by contact with food, water, or dirt that has been contaminated by feces, and is currently found in fifty eight countries, infecting three to five million people and killing over one hundred thousand people a year. A person can be exposed to cholera in the morning and be dead of the disease by night. There is no cure for the disease, but victims can be treated by re-hydration and salt and electrolyte replacement therapy. Because poor countries are often bereft of clean water, cholera tends to be endemic. Haiti has been particularly hard hit since the earthquake in 2010, but it didn't have cholera until it was introduced by an infected member of the united nations peacekeeping force from Nepal later that year. After that exposure, one hundred eighty five thousand people have contracted the disease, and over four thousand people have died.
In a monumental victory for public health, California governor Jerry Brown has signed SB277, a bill that mandates that children in public school or day care be vaccinated, eliminating the personal belief and religious exemptions from previous vaccination policies. Only children with a valid medical reason are able to remain vaccine free. The bill was sponsored by state senator Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician from Sacramento. And of course Senator Pan received death threats. After all, what says defending your right to keep your kids susceptible to measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, pneumonia, meningitis, polio, smallpox, and more than threatening a doctor's life?
A woman in Clallam County on the Olympic peninsula has died from complications of contracting measles. Her death is the first attributed to the disease in the U.S. since 2003. Measles has infected eleven cases in Washington state so far this year. Yet this state has lower than average vaccination rates compared to the rest of the country. In fact, only 56 percent of school age children in Port Townsend have complete vaccinations against Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and chicken pox. In San Juan County, only four percent of sixth graders are immunized against whooping cough, and unsurprisingly, the disease is making a comeback in Washington state. All of these diseases can be prevented by a vaccination series, typically administered to children beginning at around one year of age, with subsequent booster shots. Yet anti-vaccination fervor runs high, mostly attributed to high profile celebrities who make outlandish claims about the danger of vaccinations. But let's be clear. The danger of contracting any one of these diseases far outweighs the supposed danger of vaccinations. These are deadly infections that have preyed on mankind for thousands of years. Avoiding vaccinations only invites these scourges into your life. So you have to decide who you're going to take health advice from: a celebrity or your child's doctor. Make the right choice. The life of your child is at stake.
A novel based on a diary kept by a woman living in colonial Maine reports that during the three years between 1767 and 1770, Oxford lost 12 percent of its population in one of the worst diphtheria epidemics in New England’s history. One hundred forty four persons died, mostly children ages two to fourteen. One family buried eight of their eleven children. Another family lost three of their six children in less than ten days. A row of tiny headstones in the burying ground behind the Oxford Congregational Church commemorates the deaths from this epidemic. Yet today, this infection is prevented by part of the DPT vaccine shots given to children starting at age two months, protecting them from three debilitating diseases, including diphtheria.
A note from history. In the May 1950 edition of Modern Screen magazine, essentially the People magazine of its day, there was an advertisement for Polio insurance. For the sum of ten dollars, a husband, a wife, and all unmarried children under age 18 in a family would be covered for two years. The top pay out of five thousand dollars would go towards paying for doctor bills, hospital bills, as well as rental of the terrible Iron Lung, needed to grant the victims of the dreaded disease the ability to continue breathing. It's hard to explain how scary polio was in the fifties. The children that would make up the baby boomers were being stricken down with what was called infantile paralysis, with sixty thousand children catching the disease in 1952 alone. Three thousand of those children died. Franklin Roosevelt, the president of the United States during World War Two, was himself a victim of polio, and was unable to walk without aid. But a twenty year old worldwide effort has nearly eradicated polio in the population. Aggressive vaccination efforts have nearly wiped out this plague most feared from the planet. Once upon a time, everyone was infected with polio, and a few had debilitating and crippling complications. But a 1957 release of a vaccine that prevented infection , and aggressive action over the last twenty years by the world health organization, polio cases now affect only a few hundred people a year worldwide, and even these pockets of infection are expected to be eradicated by 2018.
Lawmakers in the California state assembly have passed SB277, a bill that mandates that children in school or day care be vaccinated, eliminating the personal belief and religious exemptions from previous vaccination policies. Only children with a valid medical reason are able to remain vaccine free. The bill was sponsored by state senator Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician from Sacramento. And of course Senator Pan received death threats. After all, what says defending your right to keep your kids susceptible to measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, pneumonia, meningitis, polio, smallpox, and more than threatening a doctor's life?

Cannabis and Other Drugs

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Deaths from prescription painkillers are down across Washington, and because of that deaths from heroin are up. The shift in addiction can be attributed to state oversight of prescriptions, and the easy availability of cheap heroin. People who want to get high are going to no matter what, and if one drug is hard to get, there's always the fall back plan. Cheap and effective.
Now that cannabis is something of a mainstream consumer product, in the future we'll have to deal with defective merchandise. The governor of Colorado has issued an executive order instructing state agencies to consider any cannabis grown with unapproved pesticides as a threat to public safety, and that said cannabis should be removed from the marketplace and destroyed. This comes as some pot contaminated with unauthorized pesticides had been withdrawn from the market, and later appeared back in pot shops. I for one count on my government to protect me from unsafe products, and in this case, the contaminated cannabis is a defective product like any other.
A new survey from Bank of America and USA Today found that thirty nine percent of millennials are chronically stressed because of money. And the other sixty one percent are monetarily stressed because of chronic.
This week the supreme court of Mexico released an opinion that the use of cannabis is a basic human right, as it is part of the free development of one's personality. The ruling effectively legalizes marijuana, but only for the cannabis club that brought suit against the Mexican government. The drug wars in Mexico have killed an estimated one hundred thousand people in the last nine years, and it is hoped that the this ruling will lead to less crime, especially gang violence, in Mexico.
Bernie Sanders is running for president under the democrat banner, but he's currently a U.S. senator. This week he placed a bill before the senate that would end the federal prohibition of cannabis in the united states. This bill has no possible chance of passing either the House or the Senate. That being said, proposing the decriminalization of cannabis at the federal level is a bold move taken by a presidential candidate.
In elections this week, the state of Ohio defeated an initiative that would have legalized use and possession of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes, and that's actually a good thing. The law was seriously flawed, in that the initiative's backers would have been set up as the only people who could grow and sell cannabis, making them the pot kingpins of Ohio, and creating a perfect monopoly. This country needs to find a way to allow people to use cannabis as they wish without lining the pockets of the already super rich. Hopefully Ohio will have a better law to vote on in the next election.
This week the state of Ohio will vote on the issue of legalized cannabis. The vote would authorize ten cannabis farms within the state, all run by the wealthy backers of the initiative for legalization. The law wouldn't be perfect, but is an indication that the paradigm of criminalizing cannabis may be coming to an end. Having a conservative mid west state legalize cannabis would be a complete game changer, especially for the estimated twelve thousand people who would not be arrested for cannabis possession next year.
The state of Oregon began allowing retail sales of cannabis at the beginning of the month, and sales were spectacular. Lines were so long that one dispensary was giving away concentrates and pre-rolled joints in the parking lot. This caught the attention of the Oregon Health Authority, which fined the dispensary twenty five hundred dollars for not checking the identity of the people who received the goodies. Concentrates and edibles are currently not allowed under the Oregon cannabis system. Oregon's three hundred dispensaries sold eleven million dollars worth of cannabis during the first week of sales, even though not all communities in the state are allowing pot sales.
Oregon has become the latest state to allow legal sales of cannabis to adults. There is currently no means of taxation on sales of cannabis and won't be until January, so all sales of cannabis have so far have been tax free. Pot shops in Oregon sold eleven million dollars of tax free cannabis in the first week of legal sales, with three point five million dollars of pot sold on the very first day. In contrast, it took Washington state a whole month to generate two million dollars in pot sales. A twenty five percent tax on sales of cannabis will be implemented in January, and it's estimated that the state will see some ten million dollars in tax revenue at that time.
Almost a year ago the city council of Philadelphia passed a law making cannabis possession a civil non-criminal offense, becoming the largest city in the country to do so. The changes in the criminal justice system have been profound. Twenty four hundred people have avoided jail with the change in law, saving the city some two million dollars. Those people didn't serve jail time, didn't lose their jobs, or their student loans. Their lives weren't ruined. City police still arrest pot users under state law, and black people are five times as likely to be charged for possession. But this change in priorities has been a win win for all of the citizens of Philadelphia.
As our experiments in states selling and taxing cannabis take place in this country, it's been reported that taxes paid for the purchase of cannabis in Colorado have exceeded taxes paid for the purchase of alcohol in that state. Colorado earned over seventy million dollars in taxes paid by purchasers of legal cannabis, while the equivalent taxes paid for alcohol totaled some forty two million dollars. Business has been so good that the state has declared a one day tax holiday when the purchases of cannabis will be tax free. It's been estimated that the nation spends three point six billion dollars every year enforcing laws against marijuana use in this country jailing thousands of people, while Colorado has shown that the country could make money from pot taxes, instead of spending on policing and jailing users of cannabis.
This week the states of Florida, Massachusetts, and Vermont all took steps towards the legalization of cannabis. The Massachusetts example was interesting, because the Attorney General of that state approved two initiatives that would lead to cannabis legalization, but blocked a proposal to legalize fireworks. I never thought I'd live to see the day when it was legal for people to use cannabis but were refused the ability to blow stuff up.
Because cannabis is currently legal in four states and might be legal in more soon, the candidates for president have had to form policies for how the federal government will deal with legalized cannabis. Hillary Clinton has proposed shifting drug policy emphasis from incarceration to treatment. Chris Christie has vowed to crack down on states that allow cannabis use for its citizens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina have all said that state rights should override federal law. Marco Rubio wants to put pot users in jail just like the good old days. Jeb Bush just seems confused, as he wants to both crack down on pot users and still allow states to legalize it. Perhaps they should listen to the voters, as a recent polls in early primary states show that over seventy percent of respondents think that the federal government should respect the rights of states to set their own policies regarding cannabis.
Cigarette smoking and tobacco use in general have been declining ever since the U.S. Surgeon General reported that tobacco use is responsible for a number of health problems such as emphysema and lung cancer. And as more states allow for medicinal cannabis as well as decriminalization of pot, it seems that for more and more people, cannabis is becoming the more normal daily smoke. The University of Michigan released a study that shows that some six percent of college students surveyed reported that they used cannabis for twenty out of the preceding thirty days, compared to five percent of students that used tobacco at the same frequency. Just twenty five years ago, twenty percent of college students said that they were regular tobacco users. The use of alcohol and non cannabis drug is also down from previous surveys.
In English Literature news, eight tobacco pipe fragments found in the garden of William Shakespeare's Birthplace home have tested positive for cannabis residue. The analysis of the pipes occurred after a South African scientist read a reference to the Noted Weed unquote in a Shakespeare sonnet. The analysis also found traces of what appears to be cocaine or some other coca leaf residue associated with the pipes. While there is no evidence that Shakespeare himself had smoked out of the pipes, it does indicate that Elizabethan society was not above a little experimentation in the back yard
The use of cannabis by young men doesn't seem to predispose them to depression, lung cancer, or other physical or mental problems later in life according to a report released by the American Psychological Association. The study followed four hundred males in Pittsburgh from ages fourteen to thirty six. Other studies have suggested that early intense cannabis use was linked to cancer, delusions, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, allergies, headaches, high blood pressure, asthma, or other physical and respiratory problems later in life, but this study found no such links.
A study by researchers in Switzerland and Sweden has found that non-psychotropic compounds in cannabis have a positive affect on the healing of broken bones in lab rats. The compounds, known as CBDs, were injected into the abdomens of rats who had had the large bones in their legs broken. The CBDs were found to promote healing and strengthening of the broken bones. Other ingredients in cannabis have also been found to treat other conditions, including seizures due to epilepsy.
Washington state voted to institute the decriminalization of cannabis in 2012, and today has over one hundred sixty pot shops in the state sold over two hundred and fifty million dollars worth of cannabis last year. The state collected sixty two million dollars out of that total in taxes, almost double the expectation of lawmakers. The recent special session of the Washington state legislature simplified the taxes applied to cannabis sales, simplifying a three tiered taxation system to a single tax of thirty seven percent applied at the time of sale. Growers in the state have harvested thirteen point five tons of cannabis, but stores have only sold about ten tons. This surplus has driven down prices to an average of eleven fifty per gram.
A group opposed to Colorado's legal cannabis policies has brought suit against a pot shop using a federal law that was intended to fight organized crime. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was created in 1970 to provide extended criminal penalties for acts performed by a criminal organization. The shop was put out of business by the lawsuit, which only succeeds because cultivation, sale, and possession of cannabis is still illegal under federal law. The suit never made it to the judicial level, but the shop had to close in the face of mounting legal bills, which seemed to be the point.
As the states constrict the availability of prescription pain killers, people who abuse drugs are returning to their old favorites. In the last year, heroin deaths in King County have increased by fifty eight percent. This nation wide trend has seen heroin related overdose deaths almost triple since 2002. Federal drug enforcement agency seizures of heroin at the border have increased from about five hundred kilo grams in 2008 to over two thousand kilo grams in 2013. The increased supply of heroin has been accompanied by a decline in price and an increase in purity.
Cannabis growing facilities in and around Denver Colorado are responsible for a dramatic increase in power usage in that town. The three hundred and fifty some sites consumed two hundred million kilowatts of power in 2014, more than double the power that they used in 2012. Some two percent of all power used in Denver goes towards growing cannabis, and half of the total power increase in that area is attributed to cannabis growing operations. city officials tried to mandate the use of renewable energy sources for half of all cannabis grows, but there simply isn't enough renewable energy available to achieve that goal. Instead, power rates were increased for cannabis growers in the form of a two point one cent per kilowatt hour fee that is applied to the Boulder County Energy Impact offset fund, and is used to offset fossil fuel consumption. Increased power usage must be considered as more states in the U.S. begin considering the decriminalization of cannabis possession.
Weed the People in Portland
Cannabis has been legal in Colorado for 18 months now, and certain trends are coming out. Prices for pot in the stores has dropped by almost a third. the decrease in prices is attributed to more stores opening to sell the product, as well as an increased supply. That being said, the total sales figures for legal cannabis continues to increase. State officials are estimating sales of just under half a billion dollars for 2015, an increase of fifty percent over last year. In an attempt to squeeze black market sales of pot out of existence, there will be a one day sales tax holiday on September 16th. after that, the state will collect a reduced sales tax on the sales of cannabis.
According to a new study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. fears that legalizing the medical use of cannabis would make the drug more accessible for young people to use recreationally appear to be unfounded. a survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the lower 48 states found that passage of medical marijuana laws had no significant effect on teenage cannabis usage. The number of teens reporting cannabis use within the most recent thirty days appears to have not changed significantly after cannabis was made available as medication. The authors of the Lancet report note that legalizing general use might cause teenagers to use marijuana more, but they didn’t look at the effect of changing laws on recreational use. Marijuana use has increased overall in the US in the last decade. But for the teenagers in this study, it peaked in the late 1990s and has not reached those levels since. Marijuana use among these teenagers has actually been decreasing over the last five years.
The Delaware Senate approved a bill that will eliminate criminal penalties and jail time for adult possession of a small amount of cannabis. Under current law in Delaware, adults found guilty of marijuana possession face a maximum punishment of a fine and three months in jail. They also get a permanent criminal record. The new law makes possession a civil offense, punishable by a lesser fine with no jail time, much like a traffic ticket.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell is expected to sign the bill into law. In a March letter to the editor of The New York Times, Governor Markell wrote that he is “hopeful that his state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

The U.S. Senate has introduced a bipartisan bill that would allow banks to provide financial services to cannabis manufacturing and sales businesses. As marijuana is now a three billion dollar a year financial juggernaut in this country, banks are more than excited to get in on the financial side of the business. The proposed bill would protect banks from federal prosecution, liability, and asset forfeiture against accounts with cannabis related businesses. Without the ability to use banking services, cannabis businesses are forced to deal with cash, a lot of cash, which makes them vulnerable to robbery and theft.


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Terrorists commit frightening, high-profile crimes in order to scare governments into over reacting and making rash, expensive decisions that actually further the terrorist's goals. After 9/11, the united states blundered into two un-winnable wars that it has yet to extricate itself from. Discrimination against religions seen as un-American only add fuel to the fire of religious extremism. The only way to fight terrorism effectively is to refuse to be terrorized. Western civilization is in no danger from terrorism. What will ultimately destroy western civilization is our reaction to terrorists and their crimes, not the crimes themselves.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, are a pretty new thing, and people are still trying to figure out how to use them in the public space. We've had drones crashing into buildings and falling on people. We've had drones interfering with last summer's fire fighting efforts. And now a drone has crashed into the Great Wheel amusement on Seattle's waterfront. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently pursuing policies that would require every drone in the country to be registered to a responsible owner.
A survey of thirty five thousand American adults reports that we as a country are becoming moderately less religious, with fewer of us saying that we believe in God, pray daily, or go to church regularly, compared to a similar survey conducted in 2007. However the number of people who say that they are religious has hardly changed in that time, with roughly three quarters of Americans adhering to an organized faith. The religiously unaffiliated now account for twenty three percent of Americans, up from sixteen percent in 2007.
The United States has the largest prison population in the world. This is due partly to harsh drug sentencing laws introduced in the eighties, and partly due to discriminatory policies that incarcerate persons of color for the most minor of offenses. The federal government took steps this week to reduce the population in federal prisons by releasing from prison more than six thousand persons convicted of non-violent drug crimes. One third of those released are foreign nationals, and they will be deported to their home countries. There are still over two point four million people in federal and state prisons in this country.
This week saw the arrival of the date that Marty McFly arrived from 1985 to show us what the world would look like in 2015. But there are no hoverboards. No flying cars. And certainly no dehydrated pizza. The Cubs will not go on to win the world series. But if nothing else, the theme of the Back To The Future movies seems to be that too much knowledge of the future is a bad thing. But one eerie parallel that seems to be true is that there is a blonde haired blow hard who runs casinos with his name splayed across them who is seeking to run the place. Personally, I'd rather have a hoverboard.
The Ayrshire Police Division in Ayrshire, Scotland, posted this notice on their Facebook page: "About 0728 hours today, Wednesday 21st October 2015, police received reports of a suspicious vehicle causing concern in the car park of an Irvine supermarket. Witnesses report the stainless steel DeLorean vehicle to have been damaged, and two men to have been within the vehicle. One man is described as being around 17 years old, slim build with dark hair while the other is only described as being older with gray hair and wearing a white coat. A spokesperson for Ayrshire Police Division commented 'on arriving at the location the vehicle almost collided with two members of the public on hover boards. Luckily the hover board's collision avoidance system prevented any injuries. We are keen to speak with the two men seen within the vehicle."
The end of unregulated personal drone flights is over. The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting one million drones to be sold over the holiday season, and the FAA wants those drones to be registered. Other governmental agencies are cooperating to create systems that will identify and track drones, as well as preventing drones from flying into regulated airspaces, including airports and fire fighting operations. Passenger plane pilots are reporting one hundred sightings or close calls between their planes and rogue drones per month, leading to the new regulations.
The next general election will take place on November third. If you haven't voted, or worse, if you haven't registered, get off your butt and do so. There are important issues at stake here. There's a vote on creating an oversight board for the county sheriff's department. There's another vote on raising money to pay for healthy children and domestic violence prevention services. You can skip the advisory votes, as they don't actually change the law, but there are people running for city and county councils and port commissioner, and these offices are vital for the community. So get registered, and go vote. Democracy is counting on you.
A social experiment carried out in the Netherlands has discovered that children appear to be more attracted to bottles of dangerous chemicals than they are to toys. The children were given a choice between a regular, age-appropriate toy, or a brightly colored bottle of cleaning solution. Fifty percent of children reached for stain remover, and eighty two percent reached for a bottle of bleach.
Imagine an event that could destroy our planet and all life on it. Someday the sun will explode. A rogue star could pass through the solar system and strip the Earth from its orbit. But much more likely is a great big rock striking the planet. It has been reported that on Halloween night, such an asteroid the size of a skyscraper will pass by the Earth at a distance of just over one lunar orbit. We're in no danger from this one, but this rock was only discovered three weeks ago. It would be prudent to invest in observational and interdictory technologies that could save the planet from such a threat.
This week the President hosted 300 students, 11 astronauts, and Bill Nye on the White House lawn for the second 'Astronomy Night.' Among those attending was Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas youth who was arrested for possessing a clock he built for a school project that school administrators called a bomb. Mohamed did not bring his clock, despite an invitation from Obama to do so. My suspicion was that the clock wouldn't have been allowed on the plane. He's probably on the no fly list already.
It's that time of year again when the roller derby women in Tempe Arizona glue horns to their heads and wield plastic wiffle ball bats as they chase runners through the streets of down town to raise money for their teams. Unlike the running of the actual bulls in Pamplona Spain, the event will not involve either trampling or goring. However the bats are known to sting, and the swatters seem to enjoy their work. Most feared is a gauntlet of more than a dozen roller derby women near the end of the course. Some seventeen thousand people participated in a similar event in New Orleans last year.
A woman in Eugene Oregon found a unique hiding spot after running away from the police. The woman, who was wanted in connection with a series of identity thefts, escaped police and ran into a construction site, where she proceeded to hide in the storage area of a porta potty. She wasn't discovered until half an hour later, when a construction worker lifted up the lid of the toilet seat. Officers then took her into custody.
A new food truck service has debuted in Los Angeles, and is called Pancake Selfie Express. Essentially they print photos in batter for sale on the street. Now you can be reminded of what you used to look like before you started eating pancakes from a truck.
A quiz offered by the Pew Research center shows Americans appalling lack of knowledge about science and scientific concepts. The questions, such as asking what element is required for making nuclear weapons, who developed the polio vaccine, what a light year measures, and similar questions, sought to examine just what we as informed citizens know. Three quarters of the people taking the test could tell the difference between Astrology and Astronomy, but only a third could tell what property of a sound wave was responsible for the loudness of the sound, as well as the effect of altitude on the boiling temperature of water. The good news is that the median number of correct answers was eight out of twelve. The bad news is that most of the people who couldn't answer the most questions all vote republican. Only six percent of quiz takers, including your humble correspondent, answered all of the questions correctly.
I told you about George Lopez, the Hispanic comedian who was in the running to steal Donald Trump's old job running the TV show Celebrity Apprentice, but the job went instead to noted Legal Immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California and now Celebrity TV host.
In one of the most extraordinary discoveries made in the history of humanity, the remains of a new species of prehistoric humans has been discovered in a cave system in South Africa. The skeletal remains of fifteen individuals were found deep inside a maze of caves, indicating that there were ceremonial burials and interments carried out by these primitive proto-humans. Dubbed Homo Naledi, these primitive humans existed over two million years ago, predating both Homo Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens. While they were physically different than modern humans, it is certain that they exist as an alternative branch of humans on the evolutionary tree of life.
In astronomical news, there is a solar eclipse next week. The bad news is that it's only visible in parts of Africa and the Antarctic. However, if you are a fan of eclipses, there will be a super-lunar eclipse of the moon in just two weeks!
Researchers have proven scientifically that humans are all one people. The color of our skin is a consequence of how much ultra-violet light our ancestors were exposed to based on latitude and climate. Scientifically there is no such thing as race. We are all one species. Each of us is more alike than we are different. We all came from Africa. We're all made out of the same star dust. We're all going to be born and live and die on a small blue dot in the interstellar void, the only known place with life in the galaxy. It would behoove us to remember our similarities as we try to solve the problems that confront us as a species as we orbit into the future. We have to learn to work together.
After Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah was observed repeatedly punching a handcuffed suspect, one fifth of his deputy force walked off the job in protest. Skrah is under investigation for excessive use of force, but has complained that the paid administrative leave requested by seven of his deputies was not authorized by him or his command staff.
A woman boarding a flight at Beijing Airport in china was frustrated at the security checkpoint when she was told that she would not be allowed to bring liquids onto the flight, so she became a hero to the world when she then proceeded to chug an expensive bottle of imported European cognac. One problem solved became another problem as the police had to be called to detain the now inebriated woman. So if you really want to make your flight, just let the expensive bottle of liquor go, because you have a choice. Drink the booze and miss your flight, or get on the plane without the bottle.
Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England patriots had a birthday this week. he turned thirty eight on Monday. His birthday party went pretty well until he was caught letting air out of the party balloons.
Where people are low on knowledge, they tend to be big on belief.
Anti Islamic sentiment is alive and well in America, and perhaps no place more so than in Texas, where residents of one small town have threatened to put pigs heads on stakes and strew pigs blood on land that is intended to be used as a Muslim cemetery. Citizens of Farmersville, Texas claim that the bodies will pollute and contaminate the farmland and ground water around the town, and are determined to fight such a use of the land.
Getting people to donate blood to medical services is hard, and it's hard world wide. The Untold music festival in Transylvania is offering free tickets to the festival in exchange for people who donate blood. They've even created a poster with Count Dracula, Transylvania's most famous character, hooked up to a blood transfusion bag in order to promote the offer.
Neuroscientists have successfully linked the brains of three monkeys together using implanted electrodes. The linked minds were then able to cooperate to comparatively control a robotic arm. Most interestingly, the three mind melded monkeys did a better job controlling the arm than any one monkey did alone.
Somebody with a strange sense of humor has been stringing together pairs of phallic shaped sex toys and tossing them across the power lines around Portland Oregon. There's hundreds of them! While no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the prank, a Portland General Electric spokesperson says that the dildos do not represent any sort of fire hazard.
I know that sometimes it seems like all I ever talk about during this show is doom and gloom. So here's some good news for all of humanity. Globally, life expectancy is now over seventy years old. The global economy is creating record wealth for all of the world's people, and the number of people living in poverty world wide has dropped by more than half. Deaths from war are at historical lows, as are death from aids and many other major diseases including smallpox and polio. The spread of democracy has made the world freer and safer, and more people than ever before have enough to eat. Fewer women are dying in pregnancy and childbirth than ever before. Child mortality has been dropping, and more children are surviving long enough to school. Not to minimize the serious struggles that we continue to face as a species, but there is hope for the future, even if I won't be much of a part of it.
The new horizons space craft made a successful flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto on Tuesday, completing a photo map of all the major astronomical bodies in our solar system. Pluto was still recognized as a planet when the probe was launched in 2006, but was demoted to dwarf planet status at the International Astronomical Union meeting the following year. Signals to and from the probe take almost four hours to reach across the three billion miles between Pluto and Earth. Accompanying the probe is one ounce of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto in 1930. Because of the limited band width of data flow from the probe back to earth, it will take sixteen months to download all of the pictures taken during the flyby. This encounter takes place exactly fifty years after the first pictures were returned from another planet, taken by the Mariner four probe as it flew by mars in 1965.

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