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Archive for August 7th, 2014

Walmart Fires Pregnant Worker for Being Sick

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Walmart Fires Pregnant Worker for Being Sick
Laura Clawson, Daily Kos: Just a few short months ago, Walmart introduced a new policy that was supposed to give pregnant workers added protections under a disability policy. But it hasn’t taken long to find out that concerns about the new policy’s vague language and possible loopholes were absolutely merited. Candis Riggins, a Walmart worker who lost her job after her managers refused to reassign her to work she could do while pregnant, found that out the hard way. Riggins told Bryce Covert she asked her managers to be allowed to work as a cashier during her pregnancy, since her regular maintenance job involved exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals and lifting and carrying cleaning supplies.

Only 31 Possible Voter Frauds in 1 Billion Votes
After an extensive investigation we have a new number on just how extensive America’s voter fraud problem really is. Hold on to your hats, folks, because that number is: 31. That’s not 31 proven incidents in the last 14 years, that’s 31 possible incidents — some or most of them could be the result of clerical errors, like people signing the poll books on the wrong lines. That’s what the conservative obsession with voter ID laws seeks to tamp down on.


Judge banned for releasing Theron adoption details

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Judge banned for releasing Theron adoption details
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge who disclosed confidential details about an adoption involving actress Charlize Theron has agreed to a lifetime ban from the state bench.


CDC director: We don’t know if Ebola serum is helpful or harmful

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

CDC director: We don’t know if Ebola serum is helpful or harmful
Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, weighs in during a congressional hearing on the current Ebola crisis in West Africa, which is on pace to sicken more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined.

Obama authorizes targeted airstrikes in Iraq
President Obama authorized airstrikes “if necessary” against Islamic militants who have advanced into the Kurdish region of Iraq and seized the country’s largest dam.

Obama: U.S. “can and should” support moderate forces to stabilize Iraq
The president says even as the U.S. prepares airstrikes – if necessary – to use against Islamic militants in Iraq, he’s focused on a broader strategy to power the Iraqi people.


Fox’s Favorite Economist Has A New Bogus Calculation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Fox’s Favorite Economist Has A New Bogus Calculation

Heritage Foundation chief economist Stephen Moore grossly exaggerated the cost of providing unaccompanied minors access to American public education to stoke fears that the costs might hurt local communities.

On the August 7 edition of Fox News’ Your World, host Neil Cavuto invited conservative economist Stephen Moore to discuss the purportedly high cost of allowing roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors access to public schools around the country. Citing his own calculations, Moore claimed that the cost of educating these immigrant children could reach $1 billion annually, adding that “it’s unfair to put these costs on the backs of local residents “:

Moore’s calculation is problematic for a number of reasons.

According to research from the Heritage Foundation, Moore’s current employer, the cost of educating a single undocumented immigrant child is roughly $12,300 per year. Therefore, the cost of educating the roughly 50,000 recent undocumented minors in the U.S. would actually be roughly $615 million per year, according to Heritage’s estimates.

Furthermore, Moore’s fear mongering over the purported $1 billion price tag ignores the size and scope of the American economy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the current dollar value of the American economy in the second quarter of 2014 was $17.3 trillion. In other words, the cost to educate these children would be less than 0.006 percent of the value of the economy as a whole. Hardly cause for alarm.

Moore’s sloppy calculations have gotten him into trouble in the past, as he employs a façade of “economics” to disguise his conservative political agenda.


Ebola Fever

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Ebola Fever
Michael Gerson, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — A prominent AIDS researcher recently recalled for me the panic at the start of the pandemic in the 1980s. Her superiors asked her not to publicize her work because they didn’t want their institution to be known as an “AIDS hospital.” Some parents instructed their children at school not to play with the researcher’s children, because she was in contact with the AIDS virus. Fear and stigma were only overcome by the relentless application of science. The Ebola virus — which can swiftly attack the body’s organs in the manner of a horror movie — is particularly adapted to cause…

CDC Head: Ebola Outbreak Unprecedented But Beatable
Adam O’Neal, RealClearPolitics
When news broke that two Americans infected with Ebola would be brought to the United States for treatment, myriad people voiced concern and anger on social media. Fears of a mass infection brought on by transporting the patients were unfounded, but paranoia spread through the Internet. Public health officials throughout the country have gone to great lengths to stress that the disease would be properly handled and treated. Perhaps no one has been a better advocate than Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, who spoke at a special House Foreign Affairs Committee…

GOP Senate Incumbents Complete Primary Season Sweep
Scott Conroy, RealClearPolitics
Back in March, Mitch McConnell made a brash prediction about how Senate Republican incumbents would fare against Tea Party insurgents in the upcoming primary season. “I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” the minority leader told the New York Times. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.” At the time, McConnell’s remark sounded like bluster. After all, the GOP establishment had taken a beating over the previous two election cycles as their preferred Senate candidates lost to Tea Party challengers (who…


Salmond says ‘we’re keeping pound’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Salmond says ‘we’re keeping pound’
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond insists Scotland will retain Sterling under independence, in the face of continued opposition criticism.

Clegg: Mental health ‘needs boost’
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urges mental health research to be given the same attention as physical health, and makes a manifesto pledge to pour £50m into research.

Scots banks warned on currency union
Scottish banks might not be bailed out in a financial crisis if an independent Scotland had no formal currency union with the rest of the UK, a report says.


Scott DesJarlais’ Bid To Hang Onto House Seat Too Close To Call

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Scott DesJarlais’ Bid To Hang Onto House Seat Too Close To Call
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who has been battered by a series of scandals, is locked in a razor-thin battle to hang onto his seat in Tennessee’s Republican primary.

Results from Thursday’s balloting show DesJarlais (day-zhar-LAY’) with just a 33-vote margin ahead of state Sen. Jim Tracy. The race was too close to call and may ultimately be decided on a possible recount. Desjarlais, a physician, won re-election in 2012 despite revelations he urged a patient he was dating to seek an abortion.

After the election, court officials released transcripts of divorce proceedings that included DesJarlais admitting under oath that he had eight affairs and used a gun to intimidate his first wife.

Tracy had far outpaced DesJarlais in campaign fundraising.

Hurricanes Will Impact Hawaii’s Election, Tourist Industry And Transit
HONOLULU (AP) — Residents and tourists in Hawaii are bracing for two major storms swirling toward the island chain. Hurricane Iselle is expected to hit the Big Island on Thursday evening, canceling flights and shaking up the final days of campaigns before the state’s primary election. Hurricane Julio is following in the Pacific, having strengthened into a Category 2 storm but forecast to pass just north of the islands sometime Sunday morning.

___ ELECTION

Officials say Hawaii’s primary election will be held Saturday as planned. But candidates in heated races are suspending campaign activities, including a Democratic rally.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, both in the final days of tight races, asked supporters to take down campaign signs so they don’t become dangerous projectiles. Kathryn Xian, who’s running for Congress, suspended campaign activities and her volunteers focused on driving homeless people to shelters.

“I can assure you, as governor, that all campaign hats are off,” Abercrombie said in a press conference Wednesday. “We are dealing solely and with the question of the health and safety of the people of Hawaii.”

___

TRANSIT

Airports remained open Thursday, but the Department of Transportation encouraged travelers to check with airlines. American Airlines, Island Air, Mokulele, United Airlines and US Airways all have canceled flights, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.

Travelers were urged to stay in hotels instead of heading to the airport, unless their flight was imminent.

“It’s very, very important that people understand that our airport is not set up to handle large crowds,” Ford Fuchigami, interim director of the Hawaii’s Department of Transportation, said in a press conference.

Public bus service on Oahu and Maui were shutting down bus service Friday. In Oahu, evacuation buses would start running at late Thursday.

___

TOURISTS

An estimated 204,000 visitors are scattered across the Hawaiian islands on any given day, and hotel and tourism officials are delivering emergency information in multiple languages, said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the tourism authority.

Tourists in popular Waikiki Beach on Oahu lounged on beach chairs and surfed on the azure waves while the tropical sun shone.

“We did decide to come out here and make the most of it before we had to be back inside because of the storm,” said Helen Povazan, retired IT manager visiting from Melbourne, Australia.

___

RURAL AREAS

On Hawaii’s Big Island, residents in the quaint town of Pahoa were glad they stocked up on bottled water earlier in the week because most stores had run out.

“Lucky thing I bought four cases Monday,” said Tarty Taurus at the Kaleo’s Bar and Grill, as restaurant staff served customers and tied down everything they could.

Residents of rural Hana on Maui are hoping Hana Highway isn’t washed out and have been buying up plywood, said Wiloris Perry-Estocado of Hasagawa General Store.

“There’s a lot of old homes in Hana — we’re all as prepared as can be,” Perry-Estocado said. “If the wind comes, a lot of our roofs are going to go.”

___

Associated Press Writer Audrey McAvoy contributed to this report. Rob Collias contributed to this report from Maui.


Op-Ed Contributor: In the Grip of Ebola

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Op-Ed Contributor: In the Grip of Ebola
Liberia’s leaders first quarantined reporting, not the disease.



China Moves to Rein In Messaging for Mobile
New rules, widely believed to be aimed at WeChat, are intended to curb the sharing of unauthorized political news and information.



Afraid of Heartbreak, a Celebrity Campaign Begs Scotland to Stay
With the referendum fast approaching, over 200 celebrities bolstered a campaign against Scotland’s independence by signing a letter pleading with the country to remain with Britain.



Sinosphere Blog: Only 9 Chinese Cities Pass Clean Air Test
Nine out of 161 monitored cities met China’s new air quality standards in the first half of this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.




Obama’s “Limited” Mission in Iraq

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama’s “Limited” Mission in Iraq

Speaking from the White House on Thursday night about his decision to use U.S. warplanes to airlift humanitarian aid to thousands of Yazidis trapped on a mountaintop in northern Iraq, and, where necessary, to launch airstrikes against the Islamic militants who are besieging them, President Obama stressed that the military operation he had ordered was a strictly limited one. “I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama said.

See the rest of the story at newyorker.com

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Abortion Protesters Won’t Be Punished For Chalking ‘Your Neighbor Is A Monster’ Outside Doctor’s Home

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Abortion Protesters Won’t Be Punished For Chalking ‘Your Neighbor Is A Monster’ Outside Doctor’s Home

The doctor’s neighbors say police aren’t doing enough to deter persistent anti-choice activists from vandalizing their sidewalks.

The post Abortion Protesters Won’t Be Punished For Chalking ‘Your Neighbor Is A Monster’ Outside Doctor’s Home appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Protesters affiliated with the group

Protesters affiliated with the group “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust”

CREDIT: Facebook/WeAreSurvivors

The group of abortion opponents who used sidewalk chalk to scrawl “Your neighbor is a monster,” “Stop killing American children,” and “Abortion is murder” outside of a Newport Beach doctor’s private home won’t face any charges from the police, despite the fact that several neighbors believe the protest should be considered vandalism.

At the beginning of July, dozens of anti-choice protesters affiliated with the group “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust” targeted the home of Dr. Richard Agnew, an OB-GYN who used to provide abortion care at Hoag Hospital. They carried signs with images of aborted fetuses and covered the sidewalk of Agnew’s neighborhood with chalk messages, a tactic they refer to as “chalk and awe.”

The protesters said they wanted to test the bounds of a city ordinance that bans picketing within 300 feet of private residences. Since the Orange County District Attorney’s Office doesn’t have enough evidence to pursue vandalism charges, the case is being dropped.

Last June, about 50 to 100 anti-choice protesters did the same thing to the street outside Agnew’s home, writing messages like “Neighborhood serial killer” and “This house was built from blood.” Back then, his wife called the protest “very disturbing” and neighbors complained that it was way out of line. Those protests are what prompted city officials to pass the 300 foot ordinance.

But neighbors say it’s obviously been too easy for abortion protesters to circumvent that new requirement. The subsequent demonstrations have sparked complaints that the local police aren’t doing enough to protect the neighborhood from anti-abortion protesters. “On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re all at 20, that’s how frustrated we are,” Paula Durnian, who lives down the street from Agnew, told the Los Angeles Times when the “chalk and awe” demonstration returned this summer.

The doctor has drawn the ire of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust because he publicly opposed his employer’s decision to stop providing elective abortion services after merging with a Catholic health care provider last year. He was one of several health professionals who signed a petition urging Hoag Hospital to preserve women’s access to that medical procedure. Before the merger, Agnew typically performed abortions for women who make the difficult choice to end wanted pregnancies because their fetuses have fatal defects. He doesn’t believe those patients should have to be shuttled to an outside clinic to receive the care they need.

“It’s not like they’re doing anything illegal,” Agnew told the Associated Press last year. “It’s bad enough for them to have to make a decision.”

Nonetheless, Agnew has been caught up in the increasing trend of protesters exerting pressure on hospitals to stop offering abortions. As part of that effort, it’s not uncommon for anti-choice activists to picket the homes of individual doctors who work at hospitals that still provide the service. In fact, home pickets are one of the explicit strategies detailed in Closed: 99 Ways To Stop Abortion, the unofficial handbook instructing activists on how to end legal abortion in the U.S.

This type of harassment is just one of the reasons why it can actually be quite dangerous to be an abortion doctor. The individuals who choose to provide abortions are well aware that their line of work could subject their family members to anti-choice protesters — and perhaps even physical violence. Some medical professionals are forced to alter their routine after receiving death threats, like taking different routes home from work each day to disguise where their family lives. And some doctors actually end up leaving the field because the challenges are too great, something that’s contributed to a shortage of available abortion providers across the country.

“For a lot of people, they don’t want to deal with the hassles, they don’t want to become a target, they don’t want their clinic to be picketed. For most doctors, it’s not an ideological issue; it’s a practical issue. This work is hard,” one abortion provider who works in Texas, speaking anonymously, explained to ThinkProgress earlier this year.

But Agnew’s community has remained standing behind him. They spilled into the streets last month to try to deter the activists from continuing to chalk up the sidewalk. “We love Dr. Agnew. We support Dr. Agnew,” Paula Durnian, a longtime neighbor, said after the first chalk messages appeared. “If he allows patients to make their own choices, he should be able to do that.”

The post Abortion Protesters Won’t Be Punished For Chalking ‘Your Neighbor Is A Monster’ Outside Doctor’s Home appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Jay Z Throws His Celebrity Power Behind Prison Reform

The rapper’s recent comments are some of the most direct statements he’s made about political issues that affect the black community.

The post Jay Z Throws His Celebrity Power Behind Prison Reform appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Jay Z performs during the Beyonce and Jay Z - On the Run tour at AT&T Park on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in San Francisco.

Jay Z performs during the Beyonce and Jay Z – On the Run tour at AT&T Park on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in San Francisco.

CREDIT: Mason Poole/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images

Moments before performing his 1998 hit, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl last weekend, Jay Z expressed support for a California ballot measure that would shift state funding away from prisons and toward schools and enrichment.

“Prop 47, California: Build more schools, less prisons,” Jay Z said. “More schools, less prisons, California. They’ll never be able to stop us.” If approved by state voters in November, Proposition 47 would reduce most nonviolent crimes — including petty theft and drug possession — from felonies to misdemeanors. Nearly 10,000 prisoners could also see reductions in their sentences. The savings accrued by the state, projected to reach at least $150 million, would go into a Create a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund.

The fact that Jay Z would use as prominent as stage as the much-buzzed-about “On The Run” tour to comment on prison policy is surprising, as many have criticized the rapper in recent years for failing to take a stand on social and political issues of great prominence to people of color,

Jay’s remarks come nearly a year after millions lashed out against the rapper on social media when he entered a partnership with Barney’s in spite of an ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit the national luxury department store faced. In 2012, professor and author Cornel West publicly challenged Jay Z to disclose his stake of ownership in the Brooklyn Nets, which at the time stood at 1/15th of a percent before he sold his shares to Jason Kidd. And in 2012, veteran actor and social activist Harry Belafonte gave a diatribe about how he thought Jay Z and Beyoncé didn’t use their celebrity status to lead social and political movements. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Belafonte said:

“[Today’s entertainers] have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”

Jay Z shot back at Belefonte days later in an interview with Eliott Wilson, CEO of online hip-hop magazine RapRadar. “I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity,” said Jay Z. “Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything, the hope that he provides for a nation, and outside of America is enough. Just being who he is.”

Jay Z has lent that presence to some political causes. Last year, he and Beyoncé gave a show of support to the mother of Trayvon Martin during a candle light vigil in Manhattan. He also stood behind then-presidential candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 election, sparking a friendship between the artist and political figure. Whatever the reason for his more direct comments on the prison system, they might help satisfy some of his critics.

The United States still has the highest prisoner population in the world with a total of more than 2 million people behind bars, many of whom committed nonviolent offenses. Our federal and state governments spend more than $74 billion each year to maintain the prisons. While many tough-on-crime philosophers may consider that a worthy investment in compelling criminals to change their ways, studies show that stints in the criminal justice system deepen illegal involvement and make society less safe for all. Michelle Alexander likened the prison system to the “new Jim Crow” in her 2010 book of the same name. In an interview with NPR, Alexander drew a parallel between mass incarceration and the constant marginalization of people of color in American society.

“People are swept into the criminal justice system — particularly in poor communities of color — at very early ages… typically for fairly minor, nonviolent crimes,” said Alexander. “[The young black males are] shuttled into prisons, branded as criminals and felons, and then when they’re released, they’re relegated to a permanent second-class status, stripped of the very rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement — like the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, the right to be free of legal discrimination and employment, and access to education and public benefits. Many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again, once you’ve been branded a felon.”

The post Jay Z Throws His Celebrity Power Behind Prison Reform appeared first on ThinkProgress.