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Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?

Police are investigating the shooting of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as a hate crime committed by a white man. Unfortunately, it’s not a unique event in American history. Black churches have long been a target of white supremacists who burned and bombed them in an effort to terrorize the black communities that those churches anchored. One of the most egregious terrorist acts in U.S. history was committed against a black church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Four girls were killed when members of the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, a tragedy that ignited the Civil Rights Movement.

But listen to major media outlets and you won’t hear the word “terrorism” used in coverage of Tuesday’s shooting. You won’t hear the white male shooter, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, described as “a possible terrorist.” And if coverage of recent shootings by white suspects is any indication, he never will be. Instead, the go-to explanation for his actions will be mental illness. He will be humanized and called sick, a victim of mistreatment or inadequate mental health resources. Activist Deray McKesson noted this morning that, while discussing Roof’s motivations, an MSNBC anchor said “we don’t know his mental condition.” That is the power of whiteness in America.
U.S. media practice a different policy when covering crimes involving African Americans and Muslims. As suspects, they are quickly characterized as terrorists and thugs, motivated by evil intent instead of external injustices. While white suspects are lone wolfs — Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston already emphasized this shooting was an act of just “one hateful person” — violence by black and Muslim people is systemic, demanding response and action from all who share their race or religion. Even black victims are vilified. Their lives are combed for any infraction or hint of justification for the murders or attacks that befall them: Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie. Michael Brown stole cigars. Eric Garner sold loosie cigarettes. When a black teenager who committed no crime was tackled and held down by a police officer at a pool party in McKinney, Tex., Fox News host Megyn Kelly described her as “No saint either.”

Early news reports on the Charleston church shooting followed a similar pattern. Cable news coverage of State Sen. and Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME who we now know is among the victims, characterized his advocacy work as something that could ruffle feathers. The habit of characterizing black victims as somehow complicit in their own murders continues.

It will be difficult to hold to this corrosive, racist media narrative when reporting on the shooting at Emanuel AME Church. All those who were killed were simply participating in a Wednesday night Bible study. And the shooter’s choice of Emanuel AME was most likely deliberate, given its storied history. It was the first African Methodist Episcopal church in the South, founded in 1818 by a group of men including Morris Brown, a prominent pastor, and Denmark Vesey, the leader of a large, yet failed, slave revolt in Charleston. The church itself was targeted early on by fearful whites because it was built with funds from anti-slavery societies in the North. In 1822, church members were investigated for involvement in planning Vesey’s slave revolt, and the church was burned to the ground in retribution.
With that context, it’s clear that killing the pastor and members of this church was a deliberate act of hate. Mayor Riley noted that “The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate.” But we need to take it a step further. There was a message of intimidation behind this shooting, an act that mirrors a history of terrorism against black institutions involved in promoting civil and human rights. The hesitation on the part of some of the media to label the white male killer a terrorist is telling.

In the rapidly forming news narrative, the fact that black churches and mosques historically have been the targets of racial violence in America should not be overlooked. While the 1963 Birmingham church is the most historic, there also was a series of church burnings during the 1990s. Recognition of the terror those and similar acts impose on communities seems to have been forgotten post-Sept. 11. The subsequent Islamophobia that has gripped sectors of media and politics suggests that “terrorism” only applies in cases where the suspects are darker skinned.

This time, I hope that reporters and newscasters will ask the questions that get to the root of acts of racially motivated violence in America. Where did this man, who killed parishioners in their church during Bible study, learn to hate black people so much? Did he have an allegiance to the Confederate flag that continues to fly over the state house of South Carolina? Was he influenced by right-wing media’s endless portrayals of black Americans as lazy and violent?

I hope the media coverage won’t fall back on the typical narrative ascribed to white male shooters: a lone, disturbed or mentally ill young man failed by society. This is not an act of just “one hateful person.” It is a manifestation of the racial hatred and white supremacy that continues to pervade our society, 50 years after the Birmingham church bombing galvanized the Civil Rights Movement. It should be covered as such. And now that authorities have found their suspect, we should be calling him what he is: a terrorist.

Anthea Butter, Washington Post

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Virginia Just Banned Using ‘Cuss Words’ In Public

No, this law was not written in the 1800s, and yes the police are actually enforcing a Virginia ban on using “curse words”.

If you are in the City of Arlington, you could be faced with a $250 if you say words that county officials have defined as “profanity”.

The Arlington County Board recently approved the bizarre measure which increases penalties for both public intoxication as well as what they are calling “blue language” from $100 to $250.

This code change was adopted during last Saturday’s board meeting, not in 1852. It came at the request of the Arlington Police Department itself, which reported making 664 arrests for public inebriation as well as “potty language” in 2014 alone!

Now, they say they want more latitude, to include a wider array of words that they can arrest people for.

We asked the police as well as city officials how many of those 664 arrests were specifically for the use of such “blue language,” but both declined to tell us the break down.

The city officials did note, however, that the new revised regulation replaced the word “drunkenness” with “intoxication” so they can more easily crack down on anyone if they appear “intoxicated” even if they do not have any alcohol in their system.

This ordinance adopted by Arlington is not unique to the city. It actually brings the city in line with the broader, statewide Virginia law which bans “profanity” and classifies it as a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250.

Help SPREAD THE WORD, if you believe the government and police should not be allowed to tell you which WORDS you are allowed to use!

M. David and S. Wooten, CounterCurrentNews

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From Limbaugh to Bush, GOP rejects Pope on climate

When Pope Francis indicated late last year that he intended to focus much of his attention in 2015 on combating the climate crisis, there were skeptics who wondered just how far he was willing to go.

The answer is getting much clearer. The pope has already hosted a major summit on global warming with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and this week, the public received  a leaked copy of Francis’ encyclical on climate change, which holds human activity responsible for the crisis. Just as important, the pope characterized the crisis as a moral issue.

When Republicans and the right first started pushing back against Francis’ work, they did so carefully, so as to not offend. But in the weeks that followed, that caution has faded. Rush Limbaugh condemned the pope yesterday, complaining Francis “doesn’t even disguise” his Marxist beliefs about global warming.

The more mainstream GOP line is that the pope has no business even participating in the discussion. Here was Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush yesterday in New Hampshire:

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” Bush said.

“And I’d like to see what he says as it relates to climate change and how that connects to these broader, deeper issue before I pass judgment. But I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

Climate deniers in Congress were less subtle. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told National Journal this week, “When you talk about unpredictable science, I have to ask where’s the nexus between that and the theology of the Vatican?” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) added, “I’m not a Catholic, but I’ve got a lot of friends who are, who are wondering: Why all of a sudden is he involved in this? I don’t have the answer for that.”

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) have pushed similar lines.

As we talked about in May, the conservative line is increasingly amazing. It wasn’t long ago Republicans like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal argued that leaders from the faith community should “rise up and engage America in the public square with Biblical values.” He added, “The time has come for pastors to lead the way and reset the course of American governance.”

The rhetoric was hardly unusual. In culture-war debates over gay rights and reproductive rights, for example, the right routinely argues that policymakers should heed the appeals from religious leaders. More generally, conservatives express alarm about the left trying to push voices from the faith community “out of the public square.” It’s these religious leaders, the GOP argues, that should help guide public debate.

Except when the climate is on fire, at which point the pope is apparently supposed to keep his mouth shut?

To hear Bush and his fellow Republicans tell it, there’s simply no moral dimension to addressing the climate crisis at all.

To be sure, not every GOP politician has embraced such a posture, but the chorus of Republicans urging the pope to pipe down is growing. It’s an unsustainable approach to the debate.

Steve Benen, MSNBC

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GOP’s ‘numbers guys’ struggle with Obamacare details

House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sat down with Fox News’ Chris Wallace over the weekend, and the host confronted the congressman with some pertinent details about the Affordable Care Act.

“Under Obamacare, 16 million Americans have gained health coverage. Healthcare costs have risen at their slowest level in 50 years and up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer in risk of losing coverage.

“And meanwhile, for all of the complaints, Congressman, we’re five years into Obamacare, Republicans have still not come up with a coherent plan that will ensure that all of those millions of uninsured people get coverage.”

Wallace’s summary had the benefit of being true. Ryan responded by ignoring the good news and noting that some congressional Republicans offered alternative proposals, which is true – though none was endorsed or embraced by GOP leaders, and none offered the kind of comprehensive solutions found in the Affordable Care Act.

The host asked, “Do you have a plan that would make sure that, for instance here, 16 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance will get health insurance?” Ryan replied, “Yes, we will,” but after five years of Republican promises, it was clear that such a plan does not currently exist.

The broader political context matters, of course. Paul Ryan, despite his routine difficulties with the basics of health care policy, is often seen as one of the sharper and more knowledgeable voices in his party. Indeed, few congressional Republicans seem to enjoy the kind of Beltway credibility Ryan has as an ostensible policy wonk.

If anyone else in GOP politics has that kind of reputation, it’s former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and even a former Commerce Secretary nominee in the Obama administration. Maybe he can offer a more accurate Republican take on health care developments?

Well, he probably could, though last night on msnbc, Gregg was no better than Ryan.

The New Hampshire Republican sat down with Chris Hayes, who seemed a little taken aback when Gregg said the costs of the ACA have “gone up significantly” and added that the uninsured rate hasn’t plummeted. “It has not plummeted,” the former senator insisted. “It has gone from 44 million [uninsured] to 40 million.”

The two went back and forth for a couple of minutes, before Gregg told the host, “Your ability to understand your numbers is worse than Obama.”

So, 12 hours later, who was right? I’m afraid Judd Gregg, despite his apparent interest in the subject, was badly confused about, well, everything. He said the cost of the law has gone up, but it’s actually gone down. He said the uninsured rate hasn’t plummeted, but it has. He effectively argued that only 4 million uninsured consumers have gained coverage, but that number is topped by Medicaid expansion totals alone.

Given the circumstances, “Your ability to understand your numbers is worse than Obama” seemed like a rather ironic thing to say. The president’s grasp of the data is fine, as is Chris’.

The broader point, however, is that folks like Paul Ryan and Judd Gregg are supposed to be the best the GOP has to offer. Among inside-the-Beltway Republicans, these two are supposed to be the best “numbers guys” available. Some rank-and-file freshmen may flub the details, but Ryan and Gregg are the knowledgeable experts

And yet, even they don’t seem to be up to speed on ACA basics.

Steve Benen, MSNBC

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Dallas police shooter’s father says ‘liberal people’ drove son to ‘breaking point’

The father of a man who opened fire on Dallas police headquarters blames liberal policies for his son’s obsessive anger.

“Every one of us has a breaking point,” said Jim Boulware. “He hit his.”

A police sniper shot and killed 35-year-old James Boulware — described as a conspiracy theorist who had made threats against schools, churches, and family members – after he fired gunshots and detonated explosive devices shortly after midnight Saturday at the police station.

His father told CNN his son was enraged at police – who the younger man blamed for taking away his son in a custody battle.

Jim Boulware said liberal policies had spurred a Child Protective Services investigation after he choked his mother two years ago, which landed him in jail for three weeks – until his father bailed him out.

“I knew he was angry at police, he blamed them for taking his son,” the elder Boulware said. “I tried to tell him the police didn’t do it. The police were doing their job to enforce the laws. If you want to get to that, you’ve got to go back to the liberal people that put these laws in place, to where CPS and all can grab kids.”

The elder Boulware said his son was broke and unable to find work due to his criminal record, although his son had purchased an $8,250 armored vehicle on eBay that he used during the assault on police headquarters.

“He said, ‘Dad, I have lost my house, my tools, my son. I’m going through every dime I’ve got. I can’t find a job because I got domestic violence on my record,’” Jim Boulware said. “He said, ‘I’ve lost everything.’”

A court awarded custody of his son to Jeannine Hammond – James Boulware’s mother and the boy’s grandmother – in April over mental health concerns.

James Boulware ranted in court that he knew about news events – such as Osama bin Laden’s hiding spot – before they happened, and family members and court personnel feared that he would target them for violence.

Hammond said her son had threatened to shoot at school, but not kill any students, to demonstrate why armed guards were necessary.

She considered having him committed but feared that might worsen his mental health issues, which dated back to his teenage years and included a suicide attempt and schizophrenia diagosis.

“I really kept hoping he would straighten himself up,” Hammond said. “But he couldn’t — he really couldn’t.”

Travis Gettys, RawStory

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Court Rules Living ‘Off The Grid’ Is Illegal


For many it’s a live long dream to get “off the grid” and live self-sufficiently. But unplugging from municipal services has been ruled illegal by a court in Cape Coral, Florida.

Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that Robin Speronis is not allowed to live on her own private property without being hooked up to the city’s water system.

He admitted that she had the right to live without utility power, but said that her alternative power sources must always first be approved by the city.

Speronis has been taking a stand for years not against the city of Cape Coral. Back in November of 2013 a code enforcement officer attempted to evict her for “living without utilities.”

The city’s argument is that the International Property Maintenance Code was “violated” by her reliance on rain water rather than paying the city for water. The IPMC also would make it a crime for her to use solar panels instead of being tied into the electric grid.

“It was a mental fistfight,” Todd Allen, Speronis’ attorney said regarding Eskin’s review of the case. “There’s an inherent conflict in the code.”

Allen says that at this point the argument is just that Speronis must “hook up” to the grid, even if she doesn’t use utilities from it.

Speronis explains that she has won on two of three counts already, but there is still a big fight ahead of her.

“But what happens in the courtroom is much less important than touching people’s hearts and minds,” she explained.

“I think that we are continuing to be successful in doing just that and I am so pleased — there is hope! The next morning, as I took my two hour walk, there was a young man unknown to me, who drove by me, tooted his horn and said, ‘Robin, congratulations on your victory yesterday, keep up the fight and God bless you.’ That is beautiful.”

The local Press-News newspaper said that Eskin “admitted that the code might be obsolete.”


“Reasonableness and code requirements don’t always go hand-in-hand… given societal and technical changes that requires review of code ordinances,” Eskin told the paper.

He argues, however, that he has an obligation to enforce the code. Still, he acknowledges that some of the charges against her are unfounded.

“I am in compliance,” Speronis said in an interview with the local News-Press. “I’m in compliance of living… you may have to hook-up, but you don’t have to use it. Well, what’s the point?”

Speronis has long been living “off the grid.” The city didn’t seem to even notice until she publicly discussed her home with Liza Fernandez, a local news reporter. After that appearance, a code enforcement officer designated her home as “uninhabitable” and gave her an eviction notice.

In March, at a code compliance hearing before Eskin, Speronis was a no-show. Local WTSP 10 news reports that “her company, Off-the-Grid Living Inc. is a litany of violations. Out of 48 violations, Speronis had been previously found guilty of 45. There’s been no appeal or movement to comply.”

“We will continue to use due process and legal measures available to enforce the codes of the city,” Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the city of Cape Coral said. “The building official has pulled the certificate of occupancy… this was the next step we decided to take to bring the property into compliance. Legally, she cannot be in the house.”

Barron acknowledges that it is “unusual for the city to escalate a case to this level.”

“Even if they board the house up, I’m not leaving,” Speronis explained. “They did the best they could when they took my dogs and arrested me. It fell apart because I’m unshakable.”

The International Property Maintenance Code is still being used by cities throughout the United States and Canada. While it stands, it holds that even if you have power and running water, you can be evicted from your home if you remain “off the grid.”

Reagan Ali, Press-News and Off The Grid News

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Women and Religion: How do different faiths incorporate gender?

What IS a Roman Catholic womanpriest?  How are women REALLY viewed in the Quran?  What’s up with all those goddesses in Hinduism?

Gender is one of the most misunderstood issues in modern religion.  Therefore, First United Lutheran Church in San Francisco has chosen gender as a topic for their annual Pluralism, Summer.  At the FULC’s weekly worship in June, July and August, representatives from different faiths will present the truth from their perspectives about gender in their religion.

Muslim, Jewish, Shinto, Mormon, Brahma Kumaris and Shinto leaders will answer questions about their religious points of view and how their teachings have been interpreted to adapt to modern society.

Pluralism Summer is a program of First United Lutheran Church which seeks to foster relationships and dialogue among people of diverse religious communities. The Gender series follows a very successful program last year that examined each religion’s relationship with the Earth.

First United is a Christian church in the Lutheran tradition, which is welcoming to people of all faiths or no faith. Members of the wider community who want to have a deeper understanding of others religions are invited to attend these interfaith-friendly services.

Speakers for the 2015 series include:

Dr. Amineh Pryor, International Association of Sufism

Rev. Masato Kawahatsu, Konko (Shinto)

Rev. Craig Wiggins, The Christian Community (Movement for Religious Renewal)

Sister Chandru, Director of the West Coast Brahma Kumaris Centers

Mitch Mayne, Church of Latter Day Saints

Hatice Yildiz (tentative)  Pacifica Institute (Muslim)

Rev. Ron Kobata, Buddhist Church of San Francisco

Sridevi Ramanathan, Hindu


Others  will be included in the summer TBD.

For additional information, contact Susan Stouse, 415 359-1025




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Warren: ‘I fully understand’ global banking system

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is pushing back at criticism she doesn’t completely comprehend global finance, saying banks might even like it better that way.

“The problem is not that I don’t fully understand the global banking system,” Warren said during an interview with The Huffington Post’s “So That Happened,” which aired on Thursday night.

“The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system, and I understand how they make their money,” she said. “And that’s what they don’t like about me.”

Warren was striking back against JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon for comments he made about her financial knowledge earlier this week.

“I don’t know if she fully understands the global banking system,” Dimon said on Wednesday during an event in Chicago.

Warren also doubled down on her recent criticism of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

“Look, I believe that TPP could give too much to multinational corporations and not be a good deal for America’s working families,” she said.

“This is not personal; I have gone back and forth with the president over what I believe are the risks associated with this deal,” Warren added of her disagreements with President Obama over the deal’s details.

“I don’t doubt President Obama’s sincerity when he claims that this trade deal is going to be tough, that it is going to have unprecedented protections for workers or for the environment,” she said.

“The problem is that we have heard narrow promises from trade agreements for more than 20 years, from President Clinton, from President Bush and from President Obama himself,” Warren added.

She further argued on Thursday that federal regulators could do a better job keeping up with new practices in the banking world.

“When you do regulations that wait until, you know, the bank invents something else in order to trick people or to take on more risk and shift it over to the taxpayers, and regulators are always two steps behind trying to figure it out, that one is a tough approach,” she said.

The Massachusetts lawmaker argued, a problem is how Wall Street approaches its maneuvers within the financial system.

“If you want to go out there and take on risks, OK, go out there and do it, but don’t do it within the structure of a bank that gets backed up by the federal government,” she said.


From The Hill, Mark Hensch

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Sidewalk Labs, a Start-Up Created by Google, Has Bold Aims to Improve City Living

Google’s ambitions and investments have increasingly broadened beyond its digital origins in Internet search and online advertising into the arena of physical objects: self-driving cars, Internet-connected eyeglasses, smart thermostats and a biotech venture to develop life-extending treatments.

Now Google is getting into the ultimate manifestation of the messy real world: cities.

The Silicon Valley giant is starting and funding an independent company dedicated to coming up with new technologies to improve urban life. The start-up, Sidewalk Labs, will be headed by Daniel L. Doctoroff, former deputy mayor of New York City for economic development and former chief executive of Bloomberg L.P. Mr. Doctoroff jointly conceived the idea for the company, which will be based in New York, with a team at Google, led by its chief executive, Larry Page.

The founders describe Sidewalk Labs as an “urban innovation company” that will pursue technologies to cut pollution, curb energy use, streamline transportation and reduce the cost of city living. To achieve that goal, Mr. Doctoroff said Sidewalk Labs planned to build technology itself, buy it and invest in partnerships.

It’s going to evolve and we’re just starting up,” he said in an interview.

Neither Mr. Doctoroff nor Google would say how much Google intended to invest in Sidewalk Labs, but it could be sizable eventually. A model for Sidewalk Labs, they said, is Calico, a company backed by Google, established in 2013 and run by Arthur D. Levinson, a former Genentech chief executive. Last September, Calico and AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company, announced that they would build a research center in the San Francisco Bay Area for diseases that affect the elderly, like dementia, with an initial investment, split evenly, of $500 million.

In a post on Google Plus, the company’s social network, Mr. Page termedSidewalk Labs “a relatively modest investment” and one “very different from Google’s core business.” It is a business but a decidedly long-term bet, Mr. Page wrote, and he compared it with Calico and Google X, the lab that incubated Google’s autonomous vehicles.

Mr. Doctoroff said he had known Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, for years, and only began meeting with Mr. Page in recent months. Over the last year, Adrian Aoun, an engineering manager, had been traveling, studying and scouting the opportunity in urban technology for Google, and also met with Mr. Doctoroff repeatedly. In his post, Mr. Page thanked Mr. Aoun for helping “bring Dan on board.”

Mr. Doctoroff brings an understanding of urban challenges to the venture, from his six years as deputy mayor, while Google brings money and technical expertise. Mr. Doctoroff left Bloomberg, a technology-driven information company, last year after the founder, Michael R. Bloomberg, decided he wanted to again take control of the enterprise.

The timing for Sidewalk Labs is right, Mr. Doctoroff said, because “we’re on the verge of a historic moment for cities,” when technologies are rapidly maturing to help address needs like the environment, health and affordable housing. The arsenal of fast-developing technologies, he said, includes sensors, smartphones, and the resulting explosion of digital data combined with clever software to help residents and municipal governments made better decisions.

Major technology companies, like IBM and Cisco, already have large businesses that apply information technology to improving the efficiency of cities. IBM has used its researchers and technical prowess in projects like traffic management in Stockholm and microlevel weather forecasting to predict the location of life-threatening mudslides in Rio de Janeiro.

Sidewalk Labs, Mr. Doctoroff said, planned to work in “the huge space between civic hackers and traditional big technology companies.”

While big technology companies take a “top-down approach and seek to embed themselves in a city’s infrastructure,” he said Sidewalk Labs would instead seek to develop “technology platforms that people can plug into” for things like managing energy use or altering commuting habits. He pointed to New York’s bike-sharing program as an early example of a technology-assisted innovation in transportation.

There is already an emerging academic focus on applying modern digital technology to cities’ physical systems. Leading examples include New York University’s Center for the Urban Science and Progress, and the University of Chicago’s Urban Center for Computation and Data.

“It’s great to see an ambitious private sector initiative like this recognize that cities are important,” said Steven E. Koonin, director of the N.Y.U. urban science center. “And there are technology opportunities, but they are complicated.”

Personally, Mr. Doctoroff said, the new venture promised to tap the experience of his entire career. “I do think this job is a convergence of my skills at a time of historic convergence for cities,” he said.

Steve Lohr, New York Times

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Franklin Graham’s anti-gay gambit goes horribly awry

Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham announced yesterday that he intends to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community.” And as part of the effort, Graham is starting with his … bank.
MSNBC’s Jane C. Timm reported yesterday on Graham’s new financial boycott.
Rev. Franklin Graham is calling for a boycott of gay-friendly businesses, beginning by pulling his ministry’s accounts from Wells Fargo after the bank ran an ad featuring a gay couple.
Graham, son of the famed evangelical pastor Billy Graham, runs the church his father started, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which had net assets of $295 million in 2014, according to the most recent data available on the ministry’s website.
Apparently, what set Graham off was this lovely ad, released by Wells Fargo in April. For those who can’t watch clips online, the minute-long commercial shows a lesbian couple learning sign-language before meeting a young deaf girl they’re adopting.
Where Graham sees “moral decay,” some of us see perhaps the sweetest banking commercial of all time.
“It has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them,” Graham wrote in a Facebook post, referring to Wells Fargo. “At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank…. This is one way we as Christians can speak out – we have the power of choice.”
That’s largely true. If Graham is outraged by a commercial showing a loving couple adopting a deaf child, he’s certainly free to do his banking elsewhere. It’s a free country.
But the punch-line to this story came a little later, when we learned about Graham’s new bank.
Right Wing Watch explained that the evangelical pastor is moving his ministry’s accounts to BB&T, another North Carolina-based bank. Oops.
Graham may not have done much research, as BB&T has received an 80 percent score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and this year is the sponsor of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, along with the chief sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride’s “Legacy Couples” program, which celebrates same-sex couples in “committed relationships of 10 years or longer.”
A bank spokesman said the company hopes to “support the individuals and organizations that broaden our perspectives and strengthen the diverse fabric of our communities. That’s why BB&T is proud to be a part of this day of pride and celebration of the 2015 Legacy Couples.”
In fact, BB&T hosted a same-sex couple’s wedding reception earlier this year “in a makeshift chapel at event sponsor BB&T Bank South Beach branch.”
Yep, the right-wing pastor is “fighting the tide of moral decay” by moving his considerable assets from one morally depraved financial institution to an entirely different morally depraved financial institution.
Steve Benin, MSNBC
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“SPEECHLESS” Shows Attract Hi Tech Crowds for Mock Powerpoint Throwdowns

Speechless 1_SharonAlagnaPhotography

Following the wildly popular SPEECHLESS event at Google I/O, the show that revolutionizes PowerPoint presentations returns to the Mission District. At the famous developers’ conference, 1,200 people packed a presentation room to watch four Google Executives try their hand at PowerPoint karaoke in a hilarious face-off engineered by SPEECHLESS. It is estimated that every second, in offices around the globe, some 350 PowerPoint presentations are given (21,000 per minute, 1.26 million per hour). Hapless workers from Cupertino to Chengdu are pinned to their plastic chairs, fighting sleep, while managers, developers, and sales leaders drone on and on, aided by visual charts, graphs and photos. In response comes SPEECHLESS, Silicon Valley’s hilarious, snarky, irreverent entertainment, in which tech workers, entrepreneurs, and entertainers live out their worst nightmares to the vast amusement of packed houses.

Created by Sammy Wegent and produced by Scott Lifton (Mortified SF) and Anthony Veneziale (Freestyle Love Supreme), SPEECHLESS puts players on the spot with nothing more than a stage, a microphone, and a PowerPoint deck of images they’ve never seen. The result is a series of fall-down laugh-riot presentations, often presented by engineers, programmers, and product developers from major tech companies, vying for prizes and bragging rights. SPEECHLESS takes place one Thursday each month at Public Works, 161 Erie Street, in San Francisco’s Mission District (off Mission between 13th and 14th Streets). Admission is $12 advance/$20 at the door. A full bar and food are available, doors open at 7pm. Upcoming shows include: 7:30pm Thursdays, June 18, July 23, August 20 at Public Works. Information can be found at

At each show, a virtual spinning wheel (developed by a software engineer, of course) determines what kind of random talk the speaker must give – it may be a TED Talk, app launch, new hire orientation, video game pitch, quarterly report, even a sexual harassment seminar – while outrageous slides are presented to accompany their talks. A panel of judges scores each presentation on a F.U.T.I.L.E. system (Funny, Understandable, Transcendent, Informative, Legendary, Entertaining). Contestants are chosen via advance web applications, with one audience member selected at each performance to participate.

In addition to its monthly performances, the SPEECHLESS team has also entertained and trained at some of Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies, including Google and IDEO.  SPEECHLESS has been showcased at comedy festivals including SF Sketchfest, the San Francisco Improv Festival, and the tech conference Funnybiz. From Walmart’s head office in Bentonville, Arkansas to Google’s campus in Bangalore, India, SPEECHLESS is going global one PowerPoint deck at a time.

SPEECHLESS is the brainchild of Sammy Wegent, Senior Game Writer and Narrative Designer for Zynga where he helped launch FarmVille 2: Country Escape for iOS and Android. Wegent, who acts as onstage host for SPEECHLESS, is also an actor/comedian/writer /director/producer/teacher, who has been seen in national television shows and commercials, and has performed comedy in venues and festivals across North America, including the Chicago Improv Festival, YouTube Live, SF Sketchfest, the Toronto International Improv Festival and more. He is a past winner of the Battle of the Bay Comedy Competition and still holds the title, “The Funniest Person in the Bay Area.”  Wegent has made dozens of online comedy videos and short films, including the autobiographical web series, Everybody’s A Comedian.  He has taught acting, writing, improvisation, and stand up comedy at several institutions including the San Francisco Comedy College, University of California Berkeley, and Georgetown University.

Producer Scott Lifton has been the Producer and Host since 2005 of Mortified (, a live stage show created in Los Angeles that has branched to nine cities, spawned two books, a television show (The Mortified Sessions on The Sundance Channel),  and a hit documentary (Mortified Nation). He has been running Mortified in the East Bay for the past eight years, developing talent, editing material, and promoting. The show has grown to become the most successful of all nine cities, selling out to an audience of 800 people every month in both SF and Oakland.  Lifton is also a leader in corporate team building, leading and producing events all over the country, for major companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs. As a theatre producer, he has produced several comedic musical plays, including Spring Break the Musical, and Heavy Metal Playground, winner of the Best of Fringe Festival Award in San Francisco.

Producer Anthony Veneziale, is also a writer, director, and actor. He is an original producer of PBS’ re-launch of The Electric Company, the Tony Award winning In the Heights, and the San Francisco Improv Festival. As an actor, he appeared in Che (dir. Soderbergh),Hereafter (dir. Eastwood), Trauma (NBC), All My Children (ABC), Sex and the City and Looking (both for HBO). He also created a television pilot for Adult Swim of his freestyle rap theater show called Freestyle Love Supreme which received new life on the Pivot network last spring and will be airing in the fall 2014. Freestyle Love Supreme has toured all over the world to sold-out houses in Edinburgh, Montreal, Aspen, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York City, and London. Anthony has also taught improv for the past 15 years around the country and has written for Sesame Street (PBS) and WallyKazam (Nickelodeon).


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The Supreme Court Just Told The NRA To Go F*ck Themselves, And Rightfully So

In a case that is bound to get the NRA and their band of merry ammosexuals up in arms (pun intended), the Supreme Court just sided with San Francisco by refusing to hear a case that featured gun owners in a tizzy over the fact that they are required to keep their guns locked up  — in other words — well regulated.

The case titled Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco is described as such:

“Issue: Whether San Francisco’s attempt to deprive law-abiding individuals of immediate access to operable handguns in their own homes is any more constitutional than the District of Columbia’s invalidated effort to do the same.”

However, the Supreme Court decided, with only two in dissent, that they are not going to hear the case. Back in March of 2014, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2007 San Francisco regulation that requires all guns be locked up, disabled, and/or the trigger-lock must be used when stored at home. With the Supreme Court refusing to hear the case, they just upheld the lower courts ruling, and the regulation shall stand.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia were the two dissenting voices on the Court. Thomas stated:

“We warned in Heller that ‘a constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. The Court of Appeals in this case recognized that San Francisco’s law burdened the core component of the Second Amendment guarantee, yet upheld the law.”

Obviously, the rest of the Supreme Court Justices sided with the entirety of the Second Amendment, and not just the part that allows any Tom, Dick, or Sally to have gun anywhere any time with no accountability. They chose to uphold the first half of the amendment that calls for those who bear arms to be well regulated. The Second Amendment, of course, reading:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The people are allowed to keep and bear arms to uphold the security of a free state within the realm of a well regulated militia. — Which, in all honesty, isn’t required anymore since the formation of the National Guard and the United States Military. However, the law still stands, but its entirety, not just the part that seemingly allows gun enthusiasts the right to do whatever they want, needs to be upheld.

Evidence has shown that having a gun in the home increases the likelihood of gun related deaths, including accidental deaths, and injuries and death to children who may find a loaded gun and use it. San Francisco’s regulation to keep guns locked up or disabled is a step in the right direction to curb such incidences.

Kudos to the Supreme Court for rejecting this case and upholding San Francisco’s right to uphold the Constitution in its entirety.


From Addicting Info

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‘What’s the matter with Kansas?’ gains new urgency

If the spectacular failures of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) economic experiment, and the ensuing budget crisis, were the only stories dominating the state, it would be more than enough to put the Sunflower State on national front pages.
But recent developments in Kansas go much, much further. Consider this New York Times report from the weekend:

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.

Think about that for a minute. Elected state officials in the Republican-led capital want state courts to endorse a policy on the makeup and budget of Kansas courts. But before the judges decide, those same officials have said the courts’ funding hangs in the balance.

As Rachel noted on the show two weeks ago, before Brownback signed the measure late last week, “ ‘You rule one way, you’re fine. You rule the other way, we will abolish the courts.’ So go ahead and consider that case, Kansas judges. Enjoy your judicial independence.”

And just when it seemed conditions in Kansas couldn’t become more politically absurd, Brownback found yet another way to push the envelope. TPM reported late last week on the Republican governor’s plan to expand Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s (R) authority “to prosecute voter fraud cases.

If Brownback does sign the legislation, which has already passed both chambers of the state legislature, Kobach would be given the power to prosecute voter fraud cases even when, according to critics, local prosecutors had opted against moving forward with those cases.

Kobach is a prominent figure in conservative “voter fraud” circles, loudly declaring that voter fraud is rampant and pushing new laws that have the effect of restricting access to voting, especially among voters who tend to favor Democrats. Voting experts, on the other hand, point to studies that show voter fraud is relatively rare with negligible impact on election outcomes.

“I very much worry about Kobach getting additional prosecutorial authority, as he seems to be someone who is willing to make false or exaggerated claims of voter fraud to fit his political narrative,” election law expert Rich Hasen told TPM in an email.

Under the existing system, if the Kansas Secretary of State’s office finds evidence of voter fraud – or more accurately, evidence that the Secretary of State thinks might be voter fraud – it’s supposed to be turned over to local prosecutors for an investigation and possible criminal charges.

Brownback and GOP state lawmakers want to streamline the process – if the Kansas Secretary of State’s office uncovers possible voter fraud, the governor will have effectively deputized Kobach into a law-enforcement role, allowing him to pursue charges whenever he feels like it.

According to the Wichita Eagle, Brownback is expected to sign the measure into law today.

Given Kobach’s track record, this is truly ridiculous news. The Republican Secretary of State, you may recall, engaged in outrageous antics during last fall’s U.S. Senate race in Kansas, which only added to his reputation as a pioneer in voter-suppression tactics.

More recently, Kobach publicly chastised U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, complaining to the media that the Secretary of State’s office had referred examples of voter fraud to the Kansas-based federal prosecutor, but Grissom has refused to prosecute. Worse, Kobach said the U.S. Attorney didn’t “know what he’s talking about” when Grissom said voter fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.

Kobach was later proven to have lied shamelessly about the whole thing. Brownback now intends to reward Kobach’s dishonesty with prosecutorial power, addressing crimes that don’t exist.

Kansas has long been a red state, but it had a tradition of pragmatic, mainstream Republicans who were committed to responsible governance. Those Republicans were targeted, eliminated, and replaced with the radical GOP officials running the show now.

It’ll probably be a long while before the state recovers.
Steve Benin, MSNBC
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Violence in Ukraine as Kiev gay pride march attacked

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

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S.F. Archbishop Slams Gender Ideology in the Wake of Jenner Celebrity

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,


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Valedictorian Can’t Come Out In Graduation Speech, High School Says

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

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Huckabee jokes about being transgender so he can shower ‘with the girls’

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.”

World Net Daily posted video of the comments just a day after former Olympian Bruce Jenner said she wants to be known as Caitlyn JennerBuzzFeed originally reported on the video.

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

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In Leaked Tape Mitch McConnell Admits The Koch Brothers Are Running The Republican Party

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

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‘Why take my vibrator?’: Michigan cops legally rob ‘every belonging’ from medical marijuana patien

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

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Golden State Warriors Arena Would Create Gridlock in SF, Mission Bay Alliance Says

Legal Team Announced to Challenge Golden State Warriors San Francisco Arena, Real Estate Development

Warriors Stadium: Gridlock, No Way to Reach UCSF Hospital in an Emergency

Warriors Stadium: Gridlock, No Way to Reach UCSF Hospital in an Emergency


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 or contact Singer Associates Public Relations and Public Affairs San Francisco at: 415.227.9700.

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North Carolina Governor Vetoes ‘License To Discriminate’ Bill

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

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Bernie Sanders Exposes 18 CEOs who took Trillions in Bailouts, Evaded Taxes and Outsourced Jobs

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.

Sanders said,

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

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State Passes Law to Legalize Shooting Police

Finally some rational legislation is passed concerning ‘public servants’ unlawfully entering another person’s property.

All too often, we see examples of cops breaking into the wrong house and shooting the family dog, or worse, killing a member of the family.

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.

The law states:

(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

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Warren: Explosion of contract workers ‘a problem’

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

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On Guard: What made SF Pride change its mind on Facebook’s parade sponsorship?

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 petition at

, SF Examiner

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