The fight between Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas and the state’s judicial branch has escalated, with the governor last week signing into law a bill that could strip state courts of their funding. The measure, at the end of a lengthy bill that allocated money for the judiciary this year, stipulates that if a state court strikes down a 2014 law that removed some powers from the State Supreme Court, the judiciary will lose its funding.
A gay pride parade in Ukraine was attacked by protesters today, leaving a number of marchers and policemen injured.
Opponents of the event, held in Kiev, threw smoke bombs and tear gas, with reports claiming that five officers were injured by the unknown assailants.
The Interfac news agency added that a small number of the estimated 300 marchers were also injured.
Some of the protestors attempted to break through a cordon formed by riot police to separate the two groups.
Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadskyi had warned yesterday: “There will be thousands of us. Gay propaganda is destructive and doing harm to our Christian nation, we can’t allow that.”
The first gay pride parade was staged in Ukraine in 2013, with strong protection for those involved after the 2012 event was cancelled.
The city’s Vitaly Klitschko had called on organisers to cancel the event to “avoid confrontation”.
Ukrainian lawmaker and journalist Serhiy Leshchenko praised police on Twitter for preventing “direct clashes” between the groups, and said about 25-30 “radicals” had been arrested.
From Attitude, Ryan Love
Never one to retreat from controversy, San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has weighed in on the trans-Jenner debate, arguing that men don’t suddenly become women just through a surgical operation, hormone therapy, cross-dressing or being addressed with new names.
“The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female,” Cordileone said Wednesday during a conference in New York organized by Catholic conservatives.
The redoubtable archbishop has already drawn the ire of freethinking local Catholics in his Archdiocese of San Francisco by insisting that teachers in Catholic schools teach Catholic doctrine and morality, rather than their own version of it.
He has also demanded that those in charge of the formation of children in the Church’s name avoid behavior that would scandalize the kids. A teacher could face punishment or dismissal for “escorting a woman into an abortion clinic, handing out contraception to students, or for being a member of a white supremacist group,” he said.
In his address Wednesday, Cordileone reminded his audience of Pope Francis’ harsh criticism of those who promote “gender ideology.”
Not mincing words, Francis has called modern gender ideology “demonic,” and has compared gender theory with “the educational policies of Hitler.” The Pope also said that gender theory “does not recognize the order of creation,” a point that Cordileone picked up on in his words.
“Yet now we have the idea gaining acceptance that biological sex and one’s personal gender identity can be at variance with each other, with more and more gender identities being invented,” said Cordileone.
The Pope himself received backlash for criticizing “an academic perspective that sees gender identities as a spectrum rather than as binaries.” Basing himself on Biblical theology, the Pope believes that God creates people as “male and female,” rather than an ever expanding gamut of contrived pseudo-sexual genders.
Cordileone remarked that a friend of his recently pointed out to him that a major university advertised housing “for a grand total of 14 different gender identities.”
“Those initials keep getting longer and longer,” he said, referring to the trend of appending a series of letters to the familiar LGBT acronym, including abbreviations for queer, intersex, intergender, pansexual or asexual.
“I wonder,” said Pope Francis last April, “whether the so-called theory of gender is not an expression of frustration and resignation, which tries to erase sexual differences because it doesn’t know how to handle them.”
Removing sexual differences, Francis declared, “is the problem, not the solution.” Acting as if these differences didn’t matter means “taking a step backwards,” he said.
“God has entrusted the earth to the covenant between man and woman,” Francis said. Its failure “dries up the world of affection and darkens the sky of hope.”
Jenner is receiving accolades for his/her decision to take on a female persona, and has been called a “hero” for his “courageous” choice.
Others have been more circumspect in their reactions to his decision.
One repentant transsexual, Walt Heyer, expressed his fear that the Jenner story might not have a happy ending.
“As a former transgender myself,” he wrote, “I found it painful to see Jenner looking so fragile, exhibiting an uncertain nervousness throughout the interview. I see Jenner and my heart sinks with sadness; my stomach aches in pain.”
Thomas Williams, Breitbart.com
A high school valedictorian is getting a chance to deliver his graduation speech at a fundraiser for an LGBT group — after his school forbade him to give it at his graduation.
Evan Young, 18, planned to come out as gay at his May 16 graduation from Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Longmont, Colorado, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.
“The central message of my speech was that you must learn to respect people even if you disagree with them, a lesson which I learned during my four years as a student at Twin Peaks High school, and I thought briefly disclosing my sexual orientation in my speech would be the perfect catalyst for this discussion, ” Young wrote in a statement read aloud by his father, Don Young, at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Young, who graduated at the top of his class with a 4.5 GPA, was required to submit a draft of his speech ahead of time, but administrators had several problems with it. The high school said the speech included derogatory comments about the school and other students as well as “references to personal matters of a sexual nature,”according to a press release.
Young resubmitted his speech with most of the requested edits, but insisted that he still be able to state in the speech that he is gay, he told the Daily Camera.
But Young was forbidden from speaking at the event “to protect the solemnity of the evening and to preserve and protect the mission of the school,” according to the school’s statement, which says he “failed to follow the guidelines established by the school” and did not submit a revised speech.
Before the event, the school’s principal, BJ Buchmann, outed Young to his parents.
Buchmann called Don Young, Evan’s father, to inform him of the issues with an early version of his son’s speech and mentioned that Evan was coming out in the speech, Don Young told the Daily Camera.
The teen’s parents “had no indication beforehand” of their son’s sexual orientation, Young added.
Mardi Moore, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Out Boulder, told The Huffington Post it was a “highly irresponsible and dangerous move” for Buchmann to out a student.
“Luckily, Evan has really great parents,” she said. Otherwise, the situation could have ended much worse. She noted that Boulder has a significant population of homeless kids who were kicked out of their homes for their sexual orientation.
Out Boulder asked Young to deliver his speech at a fundraising event Sunday. Moore, who saw the edited version of the speech, feels there is no reason he should not have been allowed to deliver it.
“It was more than appropriate,” she said. “It was funny — he’s a very witty young man.”
She added that none of Young’s references to being gay were sexually explicit in any way.
“If more young people were to be able to embrace who they truly are, then the world would be a better place and schools would be safer,” she said.
Don Young told the Daily Camera that he while he can understand the school’s position, he feels administrators mishandled the situation. Evan and his family were only told a few minutes before the ceremony that Evan would not be speaking and would not be recognized as valedictorian, according to the newspaper.
“The kid worked hard for four years,” Young said. “Straight A’s and everything else. He wasn’t even recognized.”
Twin Peaks Charter Academy did not return a request for comment from HuffPost.
Evan Young wrote in his Wednesday statement that he was neither angry nor bitter, and did not want personal publicity. He said the reason he brought the issue to the media was because he hoped his story could inspire LGBT students and others who may feel differently.
“I want them to know they should not be ashamed of who they are,” he said.
Hilary Hanson, Huffington Post
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made a joke in February about how he wished he would’ve pretended to be transgender in high school because he would “rather shower with the girls.”
Jenner announced in April that she was a transgender woman.
Speaking to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in February, Huckabee ridiculed the notion of transgender people using public restrooms and showers for the gender with which they identify.
“Now, I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers [after gym class],” Huckabee said in the video.
“I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today,’ ” he joked. “You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it?
“For those who do not think that we are under threat, simply recognize that the fact that we are now in city after city watching ordinances say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom cannot be offended, and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man,” Huckabee said.
The Labor Department issued new guidelines Monday encouraging workplaces to allow transgender people to use restrooms for the gender with which they identify.
From Kevin Devaney, The Hill
In a leaked audio tape of the Koch brothers top secret June 2014 retreat, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) not only admitted that the Republicans would be lost without the Kochs, and revealed who the real power is in the GOP.
McConnell opened his remarks by saying, “Is this working? I know it’s been a long, but very inspiring day. And I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you, and um, and I want (inaudible) for rallying, uh, to the cause.”
Mitch McConnell has voted against raising the minimum wage 17 times in his career. He has filibustered every recent attempt to raise the minimum wage in the current Congress, so anyone with half a brain should not be surprised that he promised that he wouldn’t raise the mininum wage if he becomes Majority Leader.
The main topic of his speech was Citizens United, and how the wealthy and corporations should control our elections. In the process of praising Citizens United, McConnell described how the Koch infested Supreme Court has opened the door to conservative billionaires buying the government, “And we’ve had a series of cases since then that I’ve filed amicus briefs in and had lawyers arguing in. We now have, I think, the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times. The Supreme Court allowed all of you to participate in the process in a variety of different ways. You can give to the candidate of your choice. You can give to Americans for Prosperity, or something else, a variety of different ways to push back against the party of government. It has nothing to do with overly political speech.”
The little part at the end where McConnell states that the billionaire dollars have nothing to do with overt political speech was a total lie. The Koch money is about buying and electing the candidates who will carry out the conservative billionaire agenda.
Everything links together. Without the Koch infested Supreme Court, the Republican billionaire funding pipeline wouldn’t exist. The Koch billionaire group is trying to cut the people out of the democratic process in order to create a government that revolves around their own interests.
The leaked tapes prove that the Republican Party revolves around the interests of billionaires and big corporations. This is obvious to anyone who watches their behavior on a daily basis, but McConnell’s remarks are the first leaked to the public admission of the importance of the Koch brothers to the success of the Republican Party.
The GOP is a Koch organized and funded operation. The Kochs set the agenda, and if Republicans take back the Senate, the American people will have given control of the Congress to the Koch brothers.
Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA
Medical marijuana user Ginnifer Hency told a group of Michigan lawmakers last week that a drug task force raided her home and kept ‘every belonging’ she owned — including her vibrator — even after a judge dismissed the charges against her.
Forbes contributor Jacob Sullum reported last week that Hency testified before the Michigan state House Judiciary Committee about what happened when her home in Smiths Creek was raided last July.
Hency explained that her neurologist had recommended medical marijuana to treat pain associated with multiple sclerosis. She is also registered in the state of Michigan as a caregiver for five other patients, giving her the ability to distribute medical marijuana.
Hency said that the six ounces in her locked backpack were in compliance with Michigan medical marijuana laws when a drug task force raided her home with four children present.
“They took everything, even though I was fully compliant with the Michigan medical marijuana laws,” she said. “They charged me with possession with intent to deliver, even though I’m allowed to possess and deliver.”
A St. Clair County judge dropped the charges against Hency, but for 10 months law enforcement officials have refused to give back her belongings.
“They have had my stuff for 10 months, my ladder, my iPad, my children’s iPads, my children’s phones, my medicine for my patients,” Hency noted. “Why a ladder? Why my vibrator, I don’t know either. Why TVs?”
“The prosecutor came out to me and said, ‘Well, I can still beat you in civil court. I can still take your stuff,’” Hency recalled, adding, “I was at a loss. I literally just sat there dumbfounded.”
“And I was just sitting there, like, thinking I was going to be able to get my stuff back, but not in this country. And that is why civil asset forfeiture in this state needs to change.”
According to Sullum, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would require local law enforcement agencies to report forfeitures to the state police, and it would raise the standard of proof required for civil forfeiture in drug cases.
But under the proposed law, local agencies would continue to keep 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeitures, “which gives them a strong incentive to target people based on the assets they own instead of the threat they pose to public safety,” Sullum wrote.
Watch the video below from the Michigan House Judiciary Committee, broadcast May 26, 2015.
David Edwards, Raw Story
Legal Team Announced to Challenge Golden State Warriors San Francisco Arena, Real Estate Development
San Francisco – The Mission Bay Alliance, which is greatly concerned with the grave environmental impact of the proposed Golden State Warriors’ Stadium and Events Center on the entire Mission Bay Community including the UCSF Mission Bay Campus, has retained four major law firms including some of the state’s top legal minds with expertise in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to review the Warriors’ stadium plan’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
David Boies, the Chairman of the firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which has been described by the Wall Street Journal as a national legal “powerhouse,” will serve as the Mission Bay Alliance’s Lead Counsel and help the Alliance carefully vet the project and strategize tactics going forward. The Boies Schiller firm has worked on landmark cases, including Bush v. Gore, United States v. Microsoft, and the case to overturn Proposition 8 which resulted in all Californians gaining the equal right to marry the person of their choosing.
In addition to the appointment of Boies Schiller, the Mission Bay Alliance has engaged a CEQA legal team with decades of experience advising and litigating impacts of high-profile public and private projects. The team includes:
Thomas Lippe, who has dedicated his career to environmental law with a specialty in litigating land use cases at both the administrative level and in state courts that typically require enforcement of CEQA and the California Planning and Zoning Law. Lippe has litigated dozens of high-profile cases, including many involving land use in San Francisco, recently representing environmental organizations that worked to minimize the environmental impacts of the America’s Cup event in San Francisco.
Susan Brandt-Hawley of the Brandt-Hawley Law Group, who has represented hundreds of public-interest groups in widely-varied CEQA and land use issues statewide, often with special focus on historic resources. In February she won a significant land use victory when a San Francisco Superior Court Judge struck down all approvals for the controversial 8 Washington St. waterfront luxury condo project, ruling that the project EIR was inadequate.
Osha Meserve and Patrick Soluri, who are principals at Soluri Meserve, a Sacramento-based environmental law firm that also specializes in land use planning and policy and large entitlement projects. Soluri has specific experience challenging NBA arenas and, most recently, represents a group of Sacramento residents fighting an arena deal for the Sacramento Kings. That deal includes more than$100 million in taxpayer-funded sweeteners. Meserve has extensive experience challenging major projects on environmental grounds, most recently representing groups fighting the Governor’s controversial plan to divert the Sacramento River into the so-called Delta Water Tunnels.
“Our team of attorneys – some of the nation’s best – will be tasked with analyzing the Warriors’ proposed plan and advising us on the environmental and civic impacts of a project that we believe would wreak havoc on Mission Bay for UCSF and bioscience research,” said Bruce Spaulding of the Mission Bay Alliance.
The MBA is hopeful that litigation will not be necessary because the EIR will reveal fatal flaws, resulting in abandonment or rejection of the project. However, the MBA is preparing itself in the event that the City provides an inadequate review and a “rubber stamp approval” of a project it seems to have prejudged before any public vetting of its impacts.
“CEQA will analyze environmental impacts and identify mitigation. Our job is to protect the public’s right to know what these impacts will be by ensuring the City and the Warriors comply with CEQA,” said attorney Osha Meserve of Soluri Meserve.
Spaulding said the Warriors’ own initial estimates indicated that development will generate 38.5 million vehicle miles traveled per year for games and events in addition to the impact of the new proposed office buildings that are part of the development. Spaulding said this means as many as an additional 450,000 vehicle trips in San Francisco every year.
“These overwhelming impacts raise obvious questions about how the City will avoid gridlock stretching for miles around the proposed Arena,” Spaulding said. “We will be taking a hard look at the City’s CEQA analysis of these impacts in the forthcoming Draft Environmental Impact Report.”
For more information about the Mission Bay Alliance, visit www.missionbayalliance.org or contact Singer Associates Public Relations and Public Affairs San Francisco at: 415.227.9700.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has vetoed a bill that would have allowed state officials to refuse to officiate marriages. The legislation (SB 2), which passed in the House on Thursday having previously passed in the Senate back in February, would have allowed state magistrates to opt out of conducting marriage ceremonies based on a sincerely held religious objection. Though the bill does not specifically reference same-sex marriage, its purpose was to allow officials to retain their jobs without officiating for same-sex couples.
McCrory explained in a statement that allowing officials to pick and choose how they perform their sworn duties is not good law: “Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”
Though the bill was designed to create a way around performing same-sex marriages, its effect would have been equally as inconvenient for different-sex couples. Magistrates and Assistant Registers of Deeds would not have been able to pick and choose who they marry; they could only pick between all marriages and no marriages. If it was when a same-sex couple requested a marriage that they decided to stop performing the duty, that recusal would last for at least six months. And counties would still have had to provide somebody that could officiate marriages, even if all magistrates had recused under the policy.
When marriage equality first arrived in North Carolina, several magistrates resigned after the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts warned that their oath of office required that they officiate for any couple with a valid marriage license. Two of these former magistrates have since filed a suit demanding an exemption, arguing that they were forced “to choose between taking an act that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs or being criminally prosecuted.” They claim they resigned under duress, and they ask to be reinstated and awarded injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees.
The legislation did not pass with enough support to override McCrory’s veto.
Zach Ford, Think Progress
Sen. Bernie Sanders fired back at 80 CEOs who wrote a letter lecturing America about deficit reduction by released a report detailing how 18 of these CEOs have wrecked the economy by evading taxes and outsourcing jobs. 80 CEO’s raised the ire of Sen. Sanders by publishing a letter in the Wall Street Journal urging America to act on the deficit, and reform Medicare and Medicaid.
Sen. Sanders responded to the lecture from America’s CEO’s by releasing a report that detailed how 18 of them have helped blow up the deficit and wreck the economy by outsourcing jobs and evading US taxes.
There really is no shame. The Wall Street leaders whose recklessness and illegal behavior caused this terrible recession are now lecturing the American people on the need for courage to deal with the nation’s finances and deficit crisis. Before telling us why we should cut Social Security, Medicare and other vitally important programs, these CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.
Our Wall Street friends might also want to show some courage of their own by suggesting that the wealthiest people in this country, like them, start paying their fair share of taxes. They might work to end the outrageous corporate loopholes, tax havens and outsourcing provisions that their lobbyists have littered throughout the tax code – contributing greatly to our deficit.
Many of the CEO’s who signed the deficit-reduction letter run corporations that evaded at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens since 2008. As a result, at least a dozen of the companies avoided paying any federal income taxes in recent years, and even received more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS since 2008.
Several of the companies received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.
Many of the companies also have outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China and other low wage countries, forcing their workers to receive unemployment insurance and other federal benefits. In other words, these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.
Here are the 18 CEO’s Sanders labeled job destroyers in his report. (All data from Top Corporate Dodgers report).
1). 1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.
Amount of federal income taxes Bank of America would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.6 billion.
2). Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.
Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.7 billion
3). JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion.
Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion.
4). General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $3.3 billion tax refund.
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve? $16 billion.
Jobs Shipped Overseas? At least 25,000 since 2001.
5). Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $705 million tax refund.
American Jobs Cut in 2010? In 2010, Verizon announced 13,000 job cuts, the third highest corporate layoff total that year.
6). Boeing CEO James McNerney, Jr.
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? None. $124 million tax refund.
American Jobs Shipped overseas? Over 57,000.
Amount of Corporate Welfare? At least $58 billion.
7). Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Amount of federal income taxes Microsoft would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $19.4 billion.
8). Honeywell International CEO David Cote
Amount of federal income taxes paid from 2008-2010? Zero. $34 million tax refund.
9). Corning CEO Wendell Weeks
Amount of federal income taxes paid from 2008-2010? Zero. $4 million tax refund.
10). Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $74 million tax refund.
11). Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2009? Zero. $55 million tax refund.
12). Deere & Company CEO Samuel Allen
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2009? Zero. $1 million tax refund
13). Marsh & McLennan Companies CEO Brian Duperreault
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $90 million refund.
14). Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs
Amount of federal income taxes Qualcomm would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.7 billion.
15). Tenneco CEO Gregg Sherill
Amount of federal income taxes Tenneco would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $269 million.
16). Express Scripts CEO George Paz
Amount of federal income taxes Express Scripts would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $20 million.
17). Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman
Amount of federal income taxes Caesars Entertainment would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $9 million.
18). R.R. Donnelly & Sons CEO Thomas Quinlan III
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $49 million tax refund.
Eighteen of the 80 CEOs who signed the call for deficit action are actually some of the biggest outsourcers and tax cheats in America. First, they crashed the economy in 2008. They followed that up by taking billions in taxpayer bailout dollars. Their next step was to outsource jobs and evade taxes. Now they are calling for action on a deficit that they helped create over the past four years.
Bernie Sanders is exposing the hypocrisy of these CEOs, and every American should understand that if Mitt Romney is elected president, these pigs see potential for unlimited feeding from the taxpayer trough. Only by standing together can we tell these CEOs that the bill has come due, and it is time for them to pay.
We can tell these gluttons of our dollars that the all you can eat taxpayer buffet is now closed.
Jason Easley, Progressive Democrats of America
Finally some rational legislation is passed concerning ‘public servants’ unlawfully entering another person’s property.
Well, Indiana has taken action to “recognize the unique character of a citizen’s home and to ensure that a citizen feels secure in his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual or a public servant.”
This special amendment is no revolutionary new thought, only common sense.
Self-defense is a natural right; when laws are in place that protect incompetent police by removing one’s ability to protect one’s self, simply because the aggressor has a badge and a uniform, this is a human rights violation. Indiana is leading the way by recognizing this right and creating legislation to protect it.
Of course cops have already begun to fear monger the passage of this bill, “If I pull over a car and I walk up to it and the guy shoots me, he’s going to say, ‘Well, he was trying to illegally enter my property,’ ” said Joseph Hubbard, 40, president of Jeffersonville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 100. “Somebody is going get away with killing a cop because of this law.”
Instead of looking at the beneficial aspect of this law, which creates the incentive for police to act responsibly and just, Hubbard takes the ‘higher than thou’ attitude and is simply worried about himself.
How about questioning the immoral laws that you are enforcing in the first place? Or how about sympathizing with the innocent people whose pets and family members have been slain, due to police negligence?
Who’s to say that a cop pulling you over to extort money from you for the victimless crime of not wearing a seatbelt, isn’t an unlawful act? Or how about breaking down your door in the middle of the night to kidnap you and throw you in a cage for possessing a plant?
Hopefully this legislation will lead to these arbitrary traffic and drug enforcement “laws” in place solely for revenue collection (aka theft), being brought into question.
(i) A person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to:
(1) protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force;
(2) prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle; or
(3) prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful trespass on or criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession, lawfully in possession of a member of the person’s immediate family, or belonging to a person whose property the person has authority to protect.
It is through legislation such as this, which will empower people again and aid in bringing down these tyrants from their pedestals, who are given free rein to murder and pillage without consequence.
Matt Agorist, the Free Thought Project
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wouldn’t say Tuesday night whether she thought that employees for companies like Uber and Lyft that use an army of contractors to meet growing demand should instead be classified as employees, and thus receive greater protections and more benefits.
The topic came up during an on stage appearance at a conference produced by news organization Re/Code, when a BuzzFeed News reporter asked whether “1099” workers, named after the tax form they fill out as contractors, should instead be seen as more traditional workers for the many startups that rely on their labor.
Warren didn’t answer, but she did express concern about the way companies in general are using their contractors.
“I think there is evidence that increasingly employers use independent contractors not in ways that were originally intended but in ways that permit them to treat employment laws differently than they otherwise would be responsible for, and I think that’s a real problem,” she said. “And I think the Department of Labor is looking into this and I think they’re right to do that.”
It was not clear what Department of Labor investigation she was referring to, though the agency does run investigations into whether employers are misclassifying their employees as contractors.
Contractors are not eligible for certain benefits afforded to regular employees, including unemployment. Uber and Lyft drivers in California have sued in order to be recognized as employees, and a Florida agency found this month that an Uber driver seeking unemployment benefits was an employee.
On Tuesday, Warren also seemed to strike some notes that were sympathetic with Silicon Valley.
“Our only chance for survival to innovate our way out of this,” she said, when asked about how Silicon Valley is changing the economy. “We’re not going to stop tech so that lots of people can work. That’s like saying ‘Oh, let’s get rid of heavy equipment and have everybody dig with a spoon, because that way lots of people will be employed.’ No, that’s not going to work.”
She also said that “work is changing in America.”
“The old notion, you work for one employer forever and ever, that’s just gone,” she said. “People are going to piece together a lot of different work, and a lot of different kinds of work, over the arc of a career.”
Many politicians have seized on startups, including sharing economy firms like Uber, as a symbol of Silicon Valley’s place as an economic driver. Earlier this month, two congressmen launchedthe Sharing Economy Caucus to educate people on Capitol Hill about the issues facing the burgeoning industry.
The Republican National Committee has said that sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb are evidence of the kind of innovations they say can be stifled by regulation.
David McCabe, The Hill
If you’re a high-profile donor to San Francisco Pride, you might be able to discriminate against the LGBT community and get away with it.
The Facebook real-name debate is raging again. Amid this push for digital civil rights, the San Francisco Pride board considered dropping Facebook’s sponsorship of its parade. But it appears a phone call changed the board’s mind.
Banning the social media giant would have been a bold move that might have put pressure on Facebook to change its stance on its controversial “authentic name” policy.
However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Gary Virginia, the board’s president, and perhaps other board members to discuss the issue, according to documents obtained by The San Francisco Examiner.
Insiders said this call may have been key in swaying the vote in favor of Facebook.
Virginia did not return calls for comment.
The board backed Facebook in a 5-4 vote to allow the social media giant to march in the Pride Parade next month.
Last year, Facebook came under fire from local drag queens when its authentic-name policy led to local performer Sister Roma and others being barred from the social network. The policy allows users to report people they believe are using fake names.
Sister Roma and others said LGBT users were disproportionately targeted by bigots. Trans people, drag queens, drag kings and others in the LGBT community often go by something that is not their legal name, but nonetheless honestly reflects their identity.
As the issue heated up, others who rely on pseudonyms on Facebook spoke out. They included domestic violence survivors, people fleeing stalkers, teachers who want private lives away from their students, those transitioning to a different gender and many more.
“We firmly believe in and are committed to our authentic name policy,” Facebook wrote in a statement last week, adding that “we’ve made significant improvements over the last nine months in the way the policy is enforced.”
But Sister Roma, a leader in the #MyNameIs campaign, was in those negotiations with Facebook. She said she feels fooled, as the social media giant barely budged on its policy.
Supporters of #MyNameIs plan to protest at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on June 1. The protest is one thing, but a black eye from San Francisco’s Pride board could have put serious pressure on the social media giant.
So what happened?
The Examiner obtained draft minutes of the contentious meeting.
“Since Gary [Virginia] mentioned it at the Tuesday meeting, advocates know that Mark Zuckerberg has been on the phone with us,” say the minutes recapping testimony from board member Jesse Oliver. “What does it say if all it takes is a 15-minute phone call from Zuckerberg for Pride to sell out our own community?”
Board member Larry Crickenberger, who voted in favor of Facebook, said booting Facebook was the “nuclear option” and “too extreme,” meeting minutes show.
Many worried a vote to ban Facebook would hurt future donations.
Before the board voted to back Facebook, member Jose Cital pleaded for his colleagues to put people’s rights ahead of corporate interests:
“Why am I here? I am supposed to represent youth and I am a person of color, but my view is never listened to on this board. If we aren’t here to take a stand, why are we even doing this?
“I don’t care about raising money for a party. I care about making a difference.”
Take Action: Join the #MyNameIs supporters as they take a caravan of buses to protest at Facebook HQ on June 1, and sign their Change.org petition at http://bit.ly/FBMyNameIs.
Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, SF Examiner
“Well, I’m conservative, but I’m not one of those racist, homophobic, dripping-with-hate Tea Party bigots! I’m pro-choice! I’m pro-same-sex-marriage! I’m not a racist! I just want lower taxes, and smaller government, and less government regulation of business. I’m fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.”
How many liberals and progressives have heard this? It’s ridiculously common. Hell, even David Koch of the Koch brothers has said, “I’m a conservative on economic matters and I’m a social liberal.”’
And it’s wrong. W-R-O-N-G Wrong.
You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That’s true even for the mildest, most generous version of “fiscal conservatism” — low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don’t intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde. In many ways, they do more harm than so-called “social policies” that are supposedly separate from economic ones. Here are seven reasons that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is nonsense.
1: Poverty, and the cycle of poverty. This is the big one. Poverty is a social issue. The cycle of poverty — the ways that poverty itself makes it harder to get out of poverty, the ways that poverty can be a permanent trap lasting for generations — is a social issue, and a human rights issue.
If you’re poor, there’s about a two in three chance that you’re going to stay poor for at least a year, about a two in three chance that if you do pull out of poverty you’ll be poor again within five years — and about a two in three chance that your children are going to be poor. Among other things: Being poor makes it much harder to get education or job training that would help you get higher-paying work. Even if you can afford job training or it’s available for free — if you have more than one job, or if your work is menial and exhausting, or if both of those are true (often the case if you’re poor), there’s a good chance you won’t have the time or energy to get that training, or to look for higher-paying work. Being poor typically means you can’t afford to lose your job — which means you can’t afford to unionize, or otherwise push back against your wages and working conditions. It means that a temporary crisis — sickness or injury, job loss, death in the family — can destroy your life: you have no cushion, nobody you know has a cushion, a month or two without income and you’re totally screwed. If you do lose your job, or if you’re disabled, the labyrinthine bureaucracy of unemployment and disability benefits is exhausting: if you do manage to navigate it, it can deplete your ability to do much of anything else to improve your life — and if you can’t navigate it, that’s very likely going to tank your life.
Also, ironically, being poor is expensive. You can’t buy high-quality items that last longer and are a bargain in the long run. You can’t buy in bulk. You sure as hell can’t buy a house: depending on where you live, monthly mortgage payments might be lower than the rent you’re paying, but you can’t afford a down payment, and chances are a bank won’t give you a mortgage anyway. You can’t afford the time or money to take care of your health — which means you’re more likely to get sick, which is expensive. If you don’t have a bank account (which many poor people don’t), you have to pay high fees at check-cashing joints. If you run into a temporary cash crisis, you have to borrow from price-gouging payday-advance joints. If your car breaks down and you can’t afford to repair or replace it, it can mean unemployment. If you can’t afford a car at all, you’re severely limited in what jobs you can take in the first place — a limitation that’s even more severe when public transportation is wildly inadequate. If you’re poor, you may have to move a lot — and that’s expensive. These aren’t universally true for all poor people — but way too many of them are true, for way too many people.
Second chances, once considered a hallmark of American culture and identity, have become a luxury. One small mistake — or no mistake at all, simply the mistake of being born poor — can trap you there forever.
Plus, being poor doesn’t just mean you’re likely to stay poor. It means that if you have children, they’re more likely to stay poor. It means you’re less able to give your children the things they need to flourish — both in easily-measurable tangibles like good nutrition, and less-easily-measurable qualities like a sense of stability. The effect of poverty on children — literally on their brains, on their ability to literally function — is not subtle, and it lasts into adulthood. Poverty’s effect on adults is appalling enough. Its effect on children is an outrage.
And in case you hadn’t noticed, poverty — including the cycle of poverty and the effect of poverty on children — disproportionately affects African Americans, Hispanics, other people of color, women, trans people, disabled people, and other marginalized groups.
So what does this have to do with fiscal policy? Well, duh. Poverty is perpetuated or alleviated, worsened or improved, by fiscal policy. That’s not the only thing affecting poverty, but it’s one of the biggest things. To list just a few of the most obvious examples of very direct influence: Tax policy. Minimum wage. Funding of public schools and universities. Unionization rights. Banking and lending laws. Labor laws. Funding of public transportation. Public health care. Unemployment benefits. Disability benefits. Welfare policy. Public assistance that doesn’t penalize people for having savings. Child care. Having a functioning infrastructure, having economic policies that support labor, having a tax system that doesn’t steal from the poor to give to the rich, having a social safety net — a real safety net, not one that just barely keeps people from starving to death but one that actually lets people get on their feet and function — makes a difference. When these systems are working, and are working well, it’s easier for people to get out of poverty. When they’re not, it’s difficult to impossible. And I haven’t even gotten into the fiscal policy of so-called “free” trade, and all the ways it feeds poverty both in the U.S. and around the world. (I’ll get to that in a bit.)
Fiscal policy affects poverty. And in the United States, “fiscally conservative” means supporting fiscal policies that perpetuate poverty. “Fiscally conservative” means slashing support systems that help the poor, lowering taxes for the rich, cutting corners for big business, and screwing labor — policies that both worsen poverty and make it even more of an inescapable trap.
2: Domestic violence, workplace harassment, and other abuse. See above, re: cycle of poverty. If someone is being beaten by their partner, harassed or assaulted at work, abused by their parents — and if they’re poor, and if there’s fuck-all for a social safety net — it’s a hell of a lot harder for them to leave. What’s more, the stress of poverty itself — especially inescapable, entrapped poverty — contributes to violence and abuse.
And you know who gets disproportionately targeted with domestic violence and workplace harassment? Women. Especially women of color. And LGBT folks — especially trans women of color, and LGBT kids and teenagers. Do you care about racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist violence? Then quit undercutting the social safety net. A solid safety net — a safety net that isn’t made of tissue paper, and that doesn’t require the people in it to constantly scramble just to stay there, much less to climb out — isn’t going to magically eliminate this violence and harassment. But it sure makes it easier for people to escape it.
3: Disenfranchisement. There’s a cycle that in some ways is even uglier than the cycle of poverty — because it blocks people from changing the policies that keep the cycle of poverty going. I’m talking about the cycle of disenfranchisement.
I’m talking about the myriad ways that the super-rich control the political process — and in controlling the political process, both make themselves richer and give themselves even more control over the political process. Purging voter rolls. Cutting polling place hours. Cutting back on early voting — especially in poor districts. Voter ID laws. Roadblocks to voter registration — noticeably aimed at people likely to vote progressive. Questionable-at-best voter fraud detection software, which — by some wild coincidence — tends to flag names that are common among minorities. Eliminating Election Day registration. Restricting voter registration drives. Gerrymandering — creating voting districts with the purpose of skewing elections in your favor.
Voter suppression is a real thing in the United States. And these policies are set in place by the super-rich — or, to be more precise, by the government officials who are buddies with the super-rich and are beholden to them. These policies are not set in place to reduce voter fraud: voter fraud is extremely rare in the U.S., to the point of being almost non-existent. The policies are set in place to make voting harder for people who would vote conservative plutocrats out of office. If you’re skeptical about whether this is actually that deliberate, whether these policies really are written by plutocratic villains cackling over how they took even more power from the already disempowered — remember Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai, who actually said, in words, “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Remember former Florida Republican chairman Jim Greer, who actually said, in words, “We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.” Remember the now-former North Carolina Republican official Don Yelton, who actually said, in words, that voter restrictions including voter ID were “going to kick Democrats in the butt.” Remember the Texas Republican attorney general and candidate for governor Greg Abbott, who actually said, in words, that “their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats.” Remember Doug Preisse, Republican chair of Franklin County (Ohio’s second-largest county) who actually said (well, wrote), in words, that Ohio Republicans were pushing hard to limit early voting because “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.” (And no, the “read African-American” clarification isn’t mine — it’s his.) Remember… oh, you get the idea. Disenfranchisement is not some accidental side effect of Republican-sponsored voting restrictions. Disenfranchisement is the entirely intentional point.
And on top of that, you’ve got campaign finance laws saying that corporations are people, too — “people” with just as much right as you or I to donate millions of dollars to candidates who’ll write laws helping them out. When you’ve got fiscal policies that enrich the already rich — such as regressive tax policies, deregulation of businesses, deregulation of the financial industry — and you combine them with campaign finance laws that have essentially legalized bribery, you get a recipe for a cycle of disenfranchisement. The more that rich people control the political process, the richer they get — and the richer they get, the more they control the political process.
4: Racist policing. There’s a whole lot going on with racist policing in the United States. Obviously. But a non-trivial chunk of it is fiscal policy. Ferguson shone a spotlight on this, but it isn’t just in Ferguson — it’s all over the country. In cities and counties and towns across the United States, the government is funded, in large part, by tickets and fines for municipal violations — and by the meta-system of interest, penalties, surcharges, and fees on those tickets and fines, which commonly turn into a never-ending debt amounting to many, many times the original fine itself.
This is, for all intents and purposes, a tax. It’s a tax on poor people. It’s a tax on poor people for being poor, for not having a hundred dollars in their bank account that they can drop at a moment’s notice on a traffic ticket. And it’s a tax that disproportionately targets black and brown people. When combined with the deeply ingrained culture of racism in many many many police forces — a police culture that hammers black and brown people for the crime of existing — it is a tax on black and brown people, purely for being black or brown. But Loki forbid we raise actual taxes. Remember the fiscal conservative mantra: “Low taxes good! High taxes bad!” High taxes are bad — unless we don’t call them a tax. If we call it a penalty or a fine, that’s just peachy. And if it’s disproportionately levied by a racist police force on poor black people, who have little visibility or power and are being systematically disenfranchised — that’s even better. What are they going to do about it? And who’s going to care? It’s not as if black lives matter. What’s more: You know some of the programs that have been proposed to reduce racist policing? Programs like automatic video monitoring of police encounters? An independent federal agency to investigate and discipline local policing, to supplement or replace ineffective, corrupt, or non-existent self-policing? Those take money. Money that comes from taxes. Money that makes government a little bit bigger. Fiscal conservatism — the reflexive cry of “Lower taxes! Smaller government!” — contributes to racist policing. Even if you, personally, oppose racist policing, supporting fiscal conservatism makes you part of the problem.
5: Drug policy and prison policy. Four words: The new Jim Crow. Drug war policies in the United States — including sentencing policies, probation policies, which drugs are criminalized and how severely, laws banning felons convicted on drug charges from voting, and more — have pretty much zero effect on reducing the harm that can be done by drug abuse. They don’t reduce drug use, they don’t reduce drug addiction, they don’t reduce overdoses, they don’t reduce accidents or violence that can be triggered by drug abuse. If anything, these policies make all of this worse.
But they do have one powerful effect: Current drug policies in the United States are very, very good at creating and perpetuating a permanent black and brown underclass. They are very good at creating a permanent class of underpaid, disenfranchised, disempowered servants, sentenced to do shit work at low wages for white people, for the rest of their lives.
This is not a bug. This is a feature.
You don’t have to be a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist to see how current U.S. drug policy benefits the super-rich and super-powerful. It is a perfect example of a “social issue” with powerful ripple effects into the economy. And that’s not even getting into the issue of how the wealthy might benefit from super-cheap prison labor, labor that borders so closely on slavery it’s hard to distinguish it. So people who are well-served by the current economy are strongly motivated to keep drug policy firmly in place.
Plus, two more words: Privatized prisons. Privatized prisons mean prisons run by people who have no interest in reducing the prison population — people who actually benefit from a high crime rate, a high recidivism rate, severe sentencing policies, severe probation policies, and other treats that keep the prison population high. It’s as if we had privatized fire departments, who got paid more the more fires they put out — and thus had every incentive, not to improve fire prevention techniques and policies and education, but to gut them.
Privatization of prisons is a conservative fiscal policy. It’s a policy based on the conservative ideal of low taxes, small government, and the supposedly miraculous power of the free market to make any system more efficient. And it’s a policy with a powerful social effect — the effect of doing tremendous harm.
It’s true that there are some conservatives advocating for criminal justice reform, including drug policy reform, on the grounds that the current system isn’t cost-effective. The problem with this, as Drug Policy Alliance Deputy State Director Laura Thomas points out: When you base policy decisions entirely on whether they’re cost-effective, the bottom line will always take priority. Injustice, racism, corruption, abuse — all of these can stay firmly in place. Human rights, and the human cost of these policies? Meh. Who cares — as long as we can cut government spending?
6: Deregulation. This one is really straightforward. Deregulation of business is a conservative fiscal policy. And it has a devastating effect on marginalized people. Do I need to remind anyone of what happened when the banking and financial industries were deregulated?
But this isn’t just about banking and finance. Deregulation of environmental standards, workplace safety standards, utilities, transportation, media — all of these have the entirely unsurprising effect of making things better for the people who own the businesses, and worse for the people who patronize them and work for them. Contrary to the fiscal conservative myth, an unregulated free market does not result in exceptional businesses fiercely competing for the best workers and lavishly serving the public. It results in monopoly. It results in businesses with the unofficial slogan, “We Don’t Care — We Don’t Have To.” It results in 500-pound gorillas, sleeping anywhere they want.
7: “Free” trade. This one is really straightforward. So-called “free” trade policies have a horrible effect on human rights, both in the United States and overseas. They let corporationshire labor in countries where labor laws — laws about minimum wage, workplace safety, working hours, child labor — are weak to nonexistent. They let corporations hire labor in countries where they can pay children as young as five years old less than a dollar a day, to work 12 or even 16 hours a day, in grossly unsafe workplaces and grueling working conditions that make Dickensian London look like a socialist Utopia.
And again — this is not a bug. This is a feature. This is the whole damn point of “free” trade: by reducing labor costs to practically nothing, it provides cheap consumer products to American consumers, and it funnels huge profits to already obscenely rich corporations. It also decimates blue-collar employment in the United States — and it feeds human rights abuses around the world. Thank you, fiscal conservatism!
This list is far from complete. But I think you get the idea.
Now. There are conservatives who will insist that this isn’t what “fiscally conservative” means. They’re not inherently opposed to government spending, they say. They’re just opposed to ineffective and wasteful government spending.
Bullshit. Do they really think progressives are in favor of wasteful and ineffective government? Do they think we’re saying, “Thumbs up to ineffective government spending! Let’s pour our government’s resources down a rat hole! Let’s spend our tax money giving every citizen a solid-gold tuba and a lifetime subscription to Cigar Aficionado!” This is an idealized, self-serving definition of “fiscally conservative,” defined by conservatives to make their position seem reasonable. It does not describe fiscal conservatism as it actually plays out in the United States. The reality of fiscal conservatism in the United States is not cautious, evidence-based attention to which government programs do and don’t work. If that were ever true in some misty nostalgic past, it hasn’t been true for a long, long time. The reality of fiscal conservatism in the United States means slashing government programs, even when they’ve been shown to work. The reality means decimating government regulations, even when they’ve been shown to improve people’s lives. The reality means cutting the safety net to ribbons, and letting big businesses do pretty much whatever they want.
You can say all you want that modern conservatism in the United States isn’t what you, personally, mean by conservatism. But hanging on to some ideal of “conservatism” as a model of sensible-but-compassionate frugality that’s being betrayed by the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party — it’s like hanging onto some ideal of Republicanism as the party of abolition and Lincoln. And it lends credibility to the idea that conservatism is reasonable, if only people would do it right.
If you care about marginalized people — if you care about the oppression of women, LGBT people, disabled people, African Americans and Hispanics and other people of color — you need to do more than go to same-sex weddings and listen to hip-hop. You need to support economic policies that make marginalized people’s lives better. You need to oppose economic policies that perpetuate human rights abuses and make marginalized people’s lives suck.
And that means not being a fiscal conservative.
Greta Christina, Raw Story
The Rome Civil Union certificate of William Francis Wilson and Fernando Proietti Orlandi
1. Registered as Domestic Partners San Francisco. 1991
2. Registered as Domestic Partners Washington, D.C.
3. Registered with State of California as DP – no rights.1998
4. Registered with State of California as DP with full rights. 2004
5. Married February 12, 2004 –ruled “null and void” by CA Supreme Court.
6. Married June 18, 2008 – legally recognized by US Supreme Court 6/2014.
7. Entered in Civil Union Registry of Rome, Italy May 21, 2015
This is the paper trail Fernando and I have established over the years. The joke has become, “We’ve been married as many times as Elizabeth Taylor, just to the same person!”
Fernando and Bill on the steps to a civil union in Rome.
Our latest excursion took us to Rome. With four witnesses in tow we gathered at Rome’s Campidoglio, a plaza redesigned by Michelangelo. As we ascended a long and grand staircase, we were besieged by media. Not the first time we’ve dealt with media, just the first time in Italian so Fernando got to respond to the questions.
Sala Protomoteca – the room were the ceremonies took place.
Once they started letting people entered the room where the ceremonies were to take place the room quickly filled up with media and guests of the couples. In Italy the symbol of authority is a tricolor sash. When the Mayor can’t be present the person he designates to act in his stead wears it. On May 21 the person wearing the tricolor sash was Alessandra Cattoi, Assessore alle Pari Opportunita (Assessor of Equal Opportunity for the City of Rome)
Alessandra Cattoi, Rome’s Equal Opportunity Assessor
There was every type of family represented by the couples who registered. There were straight couples, straight couples with children, lesbian couples, lesbian couples with children, gay couples, and gay couples with children. There were probably b and t couples as well, it just wasn’t noted in the press release and I had no way of asking.
Gay couple listens to the person who presides over their civil union.
It took over two hours to get through the 17 couples that were registered because the process is a little different than in the United States. Each couple had a ceremony that was presided over by the equivalent of our City Supervisors. Of course each politician had to speak to the importance of the day. I wish I could relate the eloquence of the speakers but there was no English translation for the remarks (nor should there have been. I should know Italian by now.)
Fernando (in blue pants) and Bill wait for their turn to register their Civil Union.
Once they got to us the process went rather quickly because we already had been married so are ceremony consisted of brief remarks and verification that we were the people listed in the records. Then we went over and paid for our certificate and were done.
The finished paper work.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of two Nestle bottling plants in California on Wednesday to deliver petitions demanding the company stop bottling operations in the drought-stricken state.
The petitions – carrying more than 500,000 signatures – were accepted by Nestle staff members at both the Sacramento and Los Angeles bottling plants, protesters said, as residents and activists chanted slogans like “Our water is not for sale” and “Water is a human right, don’t let Nestle win this fight.”
In Sacramento, where around 50 protesters gathered, one eight-foot-long banner read: “Nestle, 515,000 people say leave California’s precious water in the ground,” referring to the total number signatures collected on the delivered petitions.
California has now entered its fourth consecutive year of drought, and residents of the state’s cities have been told to cut their consumption by as much as 36%.
“It is very disturbing and actually quite offensive that a foreign company is taking our water, bottling it and selling it back to us,” said Nick Rodnam, one protester at the Los Angeles plant, who launched one of the petitions on Change.org.
While Starbucks recently pulled its water bottling operations from the state on ethical grounds, Nestle and other companies like Walmart continue to source water for bottling in California, buying at the same rate as residents and selling at one hundred times the profit.
Morgan Goodwin, a 30-year-old city council member in Truckee, California, who took part in the protests at the Sacramento plant, said Nestle was treating California water as a “free-for-all”, while his constituents had been ordered to cut their water consumption by 28% in a state-issued mandate.
At the beginning of last month, California governor Jerry Brown took a historic step by issuing an executive order outlining mandatory water conservation measures, including a 25% average cut in urban areas.
Last week, Nestle CEO Tim Brown declared he had no intentions of pulling his water sourcing operations out of the state. If anything, he said in a radio interview, he would like to increase operations.
“There are over 1 million Californians who are without safe access to clean water in California today,” said Walker Foley of Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based NGO.
In some small, poor California communities facing clean-water crises, residents spend up to 10% of their income on bottled water, the organization says.
“It is a glaring contradiction that water is a human right, but companies like Nestle are allowed to bottle and privatize a public asset at a tremendous markup,” Foley said.
“We feel good about what we’re doing delivering healthy hydration to people throughout the state of California,” Nestle’s Tim Brown said last week.
“As the second-largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others are filling. It’s driven by consumer demand, it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate,” he said.
Rose Hackman, The Guardian
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) blocked legislation from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday that could have complicated ongoing trade talks by demanding public disclosure of deals before they get “fast-track” status.
Warren and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushed a measure that would have let the public see the details of a trade deal before lawmakers decide whether or not to designate it as fast-track, which allows for congressional approval by a simple majority vote and prohibits lawmakers from offering amendments.
But Hatch objected to her request, blocking Warren’s bill from passing. The trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation currently being considered by the Senate would require the president to have to post the details of any trade deal for 60 days before signing it.
Unlike Warren’s bill, though, the current trade legislation automatically grants fast-track status to agreements.
Warren’s bill would likely complicate the ongoing trade talks with 11 Asia-Pacific countries; the administration has insisted that fast-track it is crucial to the deal being finalized.
The Utah Republican said that if senators are concerned about the level of transparency on trade agreements, they should support the current legislation.
“[But] those who oppose TPA and trade agreements outright will likely continue to use the supposed lack of transparency as an excuse to oppose the bill,” Hatch said.
But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) dismissed Hatch’s argument, saying that concerns over transparency are “not a partisan issue.”
“I respect my president. I’ve talked to him and I know in his heart he’s doing what he thinks is right, but he says this isn’t secret and everyone’s got access to it,” Boxer said. “This is not an open process.”
Warren has been at the center of a intraparty fight over the fast track legislation, and she, as well as Boxer and Manchin, voted against ending debate on the current bill earlier Thursday.
Jordain Carney, The Hill
In Connecticut yesterday, President Obama delivered a commencement at the Coast Guard Academy, and devoted much of his remarks to one specific topic: the national security implications of climate change.
”I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” the president said. “And so we need to act, and we need to act now.”
Just a little further north, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) was campaigning in New Hampshire, where he offered a very different perspective on the climate crisis. The Washington Post reported overnight:
“The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted,” he told roughly 150 people at a house party here Wednesday night. “And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it even.”
In response [to Obama’s remarks], Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy.” He suggested that the United States should encourage countries that have higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them.
The Florida Republican went on to argue that President Obama deserves no credit for recent decreases in U.S. carbon emissions. Instead, Bush said fracking and new drilling techniques have helped.
Clearly, some of these claims are very hard to take seriously. President Obama’s policies, for example, have made a positive impact. To see fracking and new drilling techniques as contributing to reduced emission is a stretch.
But the real problem here is Bush’s rejection of the scientific consensus. The GOP candidate thinks the debate is “convoluted.” It’s not. Bush rejects the idea that the science is “decided.” That’s backwards.
The former governor believes it’s “intellectual arrogance” to skip the “conversation” between people who believe reality and climate deniers. That’s ridiculous – the conversation has already ended, and the deniers lost.
What’s actually arrogant is the belief that confused politicians can ignore a scientific consensus on a global crisis.
Oddly enough, during another swing through New Hampshire last month, Jeb Bush told an audience that “we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions.” His concerns about “arrogance” have apparently emerged in the weeks since.
In the larger context, Bush’s latest nonsense further undermines the reputation he worked so hard to cultivate. The former governor was supposed to be “the smart one” – the one who takes his responsibilities seriously, the one who cares about policy details, the one who describes himself as a “wonk.”
But in recent weeks, Bush seems to have decided to shed that reputation for, well, this new-and-not-improved model. This more recent iteration of the Florida Republican can’t speak coherently about Iraq, thinks his Apple Watch is part of an anti-Obamacare vision, isn’t up to speed on immigration policy, and thinks people who believe in climate science are “arrogant.”
I’m reminded of Gail Collins’ column from last week: “As a presidential hopeful, Bush’s most attractive feature was an aura of competence. Extremely boring competence, perhaps. Still, an apparent ability to get through the day without demonstrating truly scary ineptitude.”
The more he dabbles in climate nonsense, the more that “aura” disappears.
Steve Benin, MSNBC
A Public Policy Polling (PPP) national survey conducted between February 20th and February 22nd of Republican voters, found that an astonishing 57 percent of Republicans want to dismantle the Constitution, and establish Christianity as the official national religion. Only 30 percent oppose making Christianity the national religion.
Although the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” GOP voters want to cast aside that provision and impose Christianity as the official American religion.
While a number of red states have passed statutes forbidding the implementation of Islam-based sharia law in their states, Republicans apparently have no misgivings about turning the United States into a Christian theocracy. The poll’s crosstabs reveal that support for making Christianity the official religion is strongest among Mike Huckabee (94 percent), Rick Perry (83 percent), and Ben Carson (78 percent) supporters.
Ben Carson is the preferred presidential candidate of those who want to impose Christianity on the nation with 24 percent support. Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker are tied for 2nd place at 16 percent. Scott Walker (35 percent) and Jeb Bush (22 percent) are the leading candidates among GOP voters who do not want to establish a national religion.
The PPP survey also found that 2/3rds of Republican voters do not believe in global warming, and 49 percent do not believe in the theory of evolution. Not only do they wish to establish a national religion, but it appears that their version of Christianity is one that is at odds with the scientific consensus in climatology and biology.
While a clear majority of Americans self-identify as Christians, most Americans outside the GOP, would be uncomfortable with conservative Dominionist theology. Dominionism calls for imposing a theocracy in America where Christianity is declared the official religion, and the nation is governed by “Biblical law”.
Republican voters seem all too eager to embrace Dominionist theology, even though doing so would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Freedom of Religion is one of the bedrock principles established in our founding documents. Republican voters are gearing up to elect candidates who will undermine the First Amendment and take away our Freedom of Religion. Independents and Democrats must be prepared to stop any candidate who would dismantle the Establishment Clause, whether it be Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson or one of the other GOP presidential candidates.
From Politicus USA
On Monday, Queerty broke the news that Reverend Matthew Makela, a pastor in Midland, Michigan with a track record of making damaging statements towards the gay and transgender communities had stepped down from his position at St. John’s Lutheran Church after his wife and church officials learned that he’d been cruising Grindr for sex with men.
Today the Senior Pastor of St. John’s, Reverend Daniel Kempin, posted an open letter to congregants on the church’s website.
“It is my grief to inform you that Pastor Makela announced his resignation as a pastor of St. John’s through a letter that was read in worship on Sunday, May 17,” he begins. That’s the day before the story broke here.
To make matters worse,” he continues, “the details of sin that have been kept confidential are being posted online by those who seek to do harm to the Makela family and to St. John’s. This is taking an already difficult situation and making it even more painful… The facebook pages associated with St. John’s have been taken down in an attempt to remove the opportunity for malicious posters to have access to St. John’s members…”
Here’s the typical closed-door religious attitude that we find appalling. If Kempin had it his way, Rev. Makela would have broken ties with St. John’s congregation without ever having the “details of sin” made known to them.
His community would never have known that the man telling them being gay is a condition comparable to alcoholism and that gay marriage is just another blemish on the holy institution was in fact seeking the intimacy of men himself.
And not just a quick fling — he says in Grindr messages he likes to “make out naked,” “massage” and “cuddle.”
But don’t expect a conversation on what’s real to gain much traction at St. John’s.
“I write this to you to warn you that you may be confronted with the details of the sin, and to remind you that sin is never pretty,” writes Kempin. “Don’t panic…Don’t respond…Be patient and trust God. This too shall pass.”
He leaves the reader with one final piece of advice from scripture:
“Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
There’s been much debate on cable and social media about the moral equivalency of violent acts carried out by Christians in the past as opposed to the current climate of Islamic terrorism.
While I think the debate sometimes becomes a way for both sides to dodge taking ownership of the extremists in their respective camps, a recent episode of VICE reminded me that American mainstream fundamentalist Christians – with ties to Republicans in Washington — are participating in a very real terror campaign against the gay populations of Africa, especially in Uganda.
The mini documentary exposes how Uganda became synonymous with its “Kill The Gays” bill which generated international condemnation. It became law and then was tossed out by the Ugandan Supreme Court, but only on a technicality.
VICE interviewed Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, who authored the bill. Bahati is a member of the secretive Washington, D.C. based organization known as The Family, which has helped to coordinate the war against LGBT people in Uganda.
Bahati refuses to name any one of his American partners, but [GOP Senator James Inhofe] is clearly one. Also among Bahati’s supporters and partners are Scott Lively, Pastor Rick Warren, Sharon Slater, and the World Congress of Families. And Bahati makes clear he and his country support the culture these American Christian extremists have brought to Uganda – one that teaches, falsely, that gay people are all pedophiles, homosexuality is a choice, it is evil, and children must be protected from it at all costs.
VICE reporter Isobel Yeung interviewed a man in Kampala who openly admitted that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill another man he believed to be gay. Women are subject to a different form of treatment.
“If we find a woman with a woman, we pull out one and do it to her. We have sex with her. We cannot allow a woman to have sex with a fellow woman,” the man said.
Sky Palma, Dead State
Likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that Christian business owners should not have to provide services for gay weddings if it goes against their religious beliefs.
“Yes, absolutely, if it’s based on a religious belief,” he said when asked by the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview Saturday if businesses should be able to decline services to same-sex weddings.
The former Florida governor justified his position by claiming that not providing a service does not count as discrimination if business owners feel that it violates their religious rights.
“A big country, a tolerant country, ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs,” he said. “This should not be that complicated. Gosh, it is right now.”
The blurry distinction has become a controversial topic, as many wedding-related businesses around the country, like florists and bakeries, have turned down gay customers, citing religious freedom. The issue became politically charged in March, when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, which allows businesses to cite religious rights as a reason for refusing service. Many in the GOP presidential field, including Bush, defended the law. “Once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all,” he said in March.
After widespread backlash, Pence was forced to sign a revised version of the law, which delineated that businesses could not discriminate against customers and clients on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. But gay rights advocates argued that the revised law did little to amend the original one, and that it still leaves much room for interpretation and opens the door for discrimination.
In Saturday’s interview, Bush also reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, saying that gay marriage is not a constitutional right and that “we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.” He did say last month that he would attend a gay wedding if asked.
Mariana Fang, Huffington Post
Republicans love to pretend that they are the party of Jesus. They work tirelessly at pandering to the Christian-right vote. They believe we should be a nation of laws based upon Christian principles. However, there’s just one thing missing — the Christian principles.
If we, as a nation, were to abide by the teachings of Jesus from the Christian Bible, we would have health care for all, no death penalty, the wealthy would help pay for the poor, and everyone would love their neighbor as themselves. Pretty much everything Republicans adamantly stand against.
So when a Republican like Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina comes out and says:
“It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation, and that’s what the Church is supposed to do.”
This is of course in reference to Pope Francis recently coming out in favor of Palestine becoming its own state. And heaven forbid, anyone, especially the Pope come out in favor of something that may actually work, let alone something that isn’t just pro-Israel all the time. Republicans pretty much consider Israel the 51st state of the Union. The Vatican’s statement wasn’t even anti-Israel, it was pro-peace — you know, another Christian principle, so of course Republicans are against it.
The biggest foes to the teachings of Jesus in the United States are Republicans. They boast his name, but know nothing of his teachings. For them, it’s pretty much just a means to get votes and try to make excuses as to why they are discriminatory bigots.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said of the Pope’s views:
“He’s a religious figure and he has every right to have his political viewpoint, but someone of that profile should have strong scriptural foundation for whatever positions he takes that are extensively representing the head of the Catholic Church. I think this is probably one he should not have expressed.”
So wait, someone with strong religious principles should keep their opinions to themselves regarding politics? Let me make sure to write that one down for later the next time a Republican tries to say that the United States is a Christian nation. Maybe they should just keep those opinions to themselves — which, might I add, actually is the correct thing to do.
The Pope however, is more than just someone with strong religious principles, he is, in fact, a world leader. One who can promote change where change can seem impossible. So was it correct for the Pontiff to insert himself into this matter? Perhaps so. He could have a direct impact on the region and potentially help broker long-awaited change.
However, Republicans are not wrong in asserting that religious opinions should stay out of politics.
Now, if only they could realize this about themselves.
from Addicting Info
Over the weekend, Michelle Obama delivered a passionate, candid commencement speech to the graduating class at Tuskegee University, Alabama, in which she addressed the daily slights of racism she has endured throughout her life. From Saturday’s ceremony:
We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives. The folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety, the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores. The people at formal events who assumed we were the help. And those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country, and I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day.
It was a powerful speech, and naturally, the folks at Fox News were not happy. Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan on Tuesday suggested the speech was yet another example of the White House dividing the country on issues of race, asking, “Why didn’t the first lady share the reason why she got into Princeton was probably because of Affirmative Action?”
“The reason why she became an associate at a law firm was probably because of diversity, they needed a woman—not saying that she wasn’t qualified—but they needed a woman, and a woman of color,” she said.
Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore was not having it. In a segment on the Nightly Show, he fired back: “When a coke-snorting, alcohol-guzzling son of a CIA director DUI’s his way into Yale and ultimately into the Oval Office because his daddy’s was in both places, that’s affirmative action.”
George W., we hope you’re watching.
Mother Jones, Inae Oh|
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has found a new conservative counterpart to help lead her charge against the biggest banks on Wall Street: Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).
The unlikely pair have joined forces on two bills in the last week, which would make life tougher for Wall Street, particularly by setting sights on a key institution monitoring them: the Federal Reserve.
On Wednesday, the two unveiled legislation that would dictate how the Fed could react in case of another financial crisis, barring the central bank from doling out massive low-interest loans to a handful of massive institutions to help keep them afloat.
And that measure came just six days after the two proposed legislation that would alter the Fed’s structure, requiring top Fed officials to publicly vote on any large settlements reached with bad-acting banks, and giving each Fed board member his or her own staff.
Those measures are being rolled out as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is preparing to move his own broad financial regulation package, meaning these bills could be offered as amendments at the committee, of which Warren is a member.
The latest bill takes direct aim at the notion that the during the last crisis, the Fed shelled out huge loans to a small number of huge, and hugely influential financial institutions, at extremely low interest rates. The Fed reportedly loaned out over $1 trillion at the height of the collapse, with individual banks receiving as much as $100 billion in support. Critics on the left and right argue the central bank has done little to curb that broad bailout authority in the subsequent years.
The new bill would allow the Fed to engage in emergency lending only if more than just a few institutions can participate, and would bar the central bank from loaning to any bank that is already insolvent. Furthermore, any emergency loans must come with a hefty interest rate – at least five percent higher than the going rate for U.S. Treasury debt.
The bill would also change existing law to bar Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley from engaging in the actual holding of physical commodities. Banks are typically barred from holding physical commodities like aluminum or copper, but those two were grandfathered past that ban.
While a conservative Republican, Vitter is no stranger to doing battle with the banking industry. He paired with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), now the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, on legislation that would limit the size of the nation’s biggest banks.
And he was the lone GOP voice criticizing the inclusion of provisions rolling back parts of Dodd-Frank as part of a critical funding bill at the end of 2014.
From The Hill, Peter Schroeder