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Archive for August 22nd, 2014

The War Photo No One Would Publish

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The War Photo No One Would Publish
Torie Rose DeGhett, The Atlantic: The Iraqi soldier died attempting to pull himself up over the dashboard of his truck. The flames engulfed his vehicle and incinerated his body, turning him to dusty ash and blackened bone. In a photograph taken soon afterward, the soldier’s hand reaches out of the shattered windshield, which frames his face and chest. The colors and textures of his hand and shoulders look like those of the scorched and rusted metal around him. Fire has destroyed most of his features, leaving behind a skeletal face, fixed in a final rictus. He stares without eyes. On February 28, 1991, Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of the charred man, parked amid the carbonized bodies of his fellow soldiers, and photographed him.


Chiefs OT Stephenson suspended for PEDs violation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Chiefs OT Stephenson suspended for PEDs violation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs offensive tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the regular season Friday for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy, a massive blow to an already unsteady offensive line.

CDC director to visit Ebola outbreak countries
NEW YORK (AP) — A top U.S. health official plans to travel to West Africa to see firsthand how the Ebola outbreak is unfolding.


Vulnerable Democrats defend Obamacare ahead of midterms

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Vulnerable Democrats defend Obamacare ahead of midterms
As GOP attacks against the law ease, Democrats in tight races surprisingly have been slightly more vocal in their defense of the Obamacare


MSNBC’s Al Sharpton Calls Out Right-Wing Media’s “Summer Tradition” Of Attacking Obama’s Vacations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

MSNBC’s Al Sharpton Calls Out Right-Wing Media’s “Summer Tradition” Of Attacking Obama’s Vacations

From the August 22 edition of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation:

Previously:

On MSNBC’s The Ed Show, Eric Boehlert Denounces Right-Wing Media’s “Contemptuous, Shallow” Obsession With Obama’s Vacations

Media Criticize Obama’s Florida Trip, Ignore Bush Vacation During 2008 Invasion Of Georgia

Bush Speechwriter Thiessen’s Hypocrisy On Presidential Vacations


The Hooded Face of Evil

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Hooded Face of Evil
David Ignatius, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — The propagandists of the Islamic State must have imagined that their brutal video of the beheading of journalist James Foley would intimidate and terrorize the world. But people aren’t built that way, not in Muslim countries or anywhere else. When they see sadistic, uncivilized behavior, they are disgusted — and angry. President Obama spoke with special precision and moral clarity in reacting to the video’s release Wednesday. The Islamic State, he said, “speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just…

Ferguson Beyond Black and White
Cathy Young, RealClearPolitics
The tragedy and turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri—the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, followed by sometimes violent protests and a heavy-handed police crackdown—have once again brought the national spotlight on race relations in America. It has also revealed unusual political alignments, with libertarian-leaning Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and some other libertarians and conservatives joining liberals and leftists to denounce abusive police behavior, particularly toward young African-American males. Others on the right—not only Rush Limbaugh but…


Safe standing backed by Lib Dems

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Safe standing backed by Lib Dems
The Liberal Democrats want to change the law and allow Premier League and Championship clubs to introduce safe standing at stadiums.

Health experts’ food poverty warning
More people are suffering from malnutrition as a result of worsening food poverty, health experts warn.

AUDIO: Housing estates ‘an embarrassment’
Crime writer Gavin Knight and Housing minister Brandon Lewis discuss the state of Britain’s housing estates.


World Briefing: The Philippines: Police Arrest Suspects in an Online Blackmailing Syndicate

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

World Briefing: The Philippines: Police Arrest Suspects in an Online Blackmailing Syndicate
Philippine police have arrested eight people suspected of luring more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents into cybersex and then blackmailing them, an official said Friday.



U.S. Weighs Direct Military Action Against ISIS in Syria
A top national security adviser to President Obama said the United States was “not going to be restricted by borders” to protect its interests, including possibly pursuing direct military action in Syria.



Jean Redpath, Prolific Scottish Folk Singer, Dies at 77
Ms. Redpath’s repertoire of contemporary tunes, ancient ballads and Robert Burns poems filled some 40 albums.




Greenland And West Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss More Than Doubled In Last Five Years

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Greenland And West Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss More Than Doubled In Last Five Years

“That is the highest speed observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago.”

The post Greenland And West Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss More Than Doubled In Last Five Years appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Greenland

Map of elevation change in Greenland between January 2011 and January 2014. Red indicates area where the ice sheet lost mass in this period, while blue represents ice gains. Map: Helm et al.

A new study finds that both the Greenland ice sheet and West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) have seen an astonishing increase in ice loss in just the past five years.

This first-ever extensive mapping of the two great ice sheets using the CryoSat-2 satellite confirms the findings of several recent studies that “suggest that the globe’s ice sheets will contribute far more to sea level rise than current projections show,” as NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot said recently.

Comparing the current CryoSat-2 data with “those from the ICESat satellite from the year 2009, the volume loss in Greenland has doubled since then.” Coauthor and glaciologist Prof. Dr. Angelika Humbert further explained in the news release:

“The loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has in the same time span increased by a factor of 3. Combined the two ice sheets are thinning at a rate of 500 cubic kilometres per year. That is the highest speed observed since altimetry satellite records began about 20 years ago.”

So we are at record rates of ice loss now. What is particularly stunning is that a major international study found in 2012 that Greenalnd’s ice loss was up by a factor of five since the mid-90s, while Antartica’s was up 50 percent in the prior decade.

We are seeing ice sheet loss at rates not imagined even a few years ago. Back in May, two studies provided evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun an irreversible process of collapse, in part because its key glaciers are grounded below sea level and are melting from underneath.

Also in May, a team of researchers reported that the Greenland ice sheet has a similar warming-driven instability. As a lead author of that study explained, “The glaciers of Greenland are likely to retreat faster and farther inland than anticipated — and for much longer.”

It’s increasingly clear that if we don’t reverse carbon pollution emissions trends ASAP, sea level rise will likely be 4 to 5 feet or more by century’s end. Also, the rate of sea level rise in 2100 could be upwards of 1 inch per year.

We don’t have any idea of how to adapt cities, ports, and infrastructure to such a rate of sea level rise. As the New York Times reported in May, we are risking “enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.”

The whole notion of “glacial” change as a metaphor for change too slow to see is vanish in a world where glaciers are shrinking so fast that you can actually watch them retreat and then disappear (see “Greenland’s Fastest-Moving Glacier Sets New Speed Record Of 150 Feet A Day”).

A growing number of major glaciers are moving faster than America’s climate policy, which, sadly, still isn’t saying that much….

The post Greenland And West Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss More Than Doubled In Last Five Years appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court’s Bluff In Hobby Lobby

The Obama Administration’s new rules will likely put an end to the Supreme Court’s game of continually moving the goalposts every time someone objects to birth control on religious grounds.

The post Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court’s Bluff In Hobby Lobby appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Protesters hold signs in support of Obamacare's birth control mandate

Protesters hold signs in support of Obamacare’s birth control mandate

CREDIT: ThinkProgress/Sy Mukherjee

For most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control — while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees’ access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.

Up until now, the administration’s rules treated non-profit and for-profit employers as separate entities. Religious non-profits who object to birth control could exempt themselves from the requirement to offer contraceptive care to their employees by filling out a specific form that informs the government of their objection, and sending a copy of the form to their insurance provider or administrator. In most cases, once the non-profit employer submitted this form, their insurer would then contract separately with their workers to ensure that those workers had contraceptive coverage. These non-profit rules spawned one round of litigation brought by religious non-profit organizations which claim that even being required to fill out a short form violates their religious liberty.

Meanwhile, for-profit employees were required to comply with their legal obligations to their employees. Prior to the Supreme Court’s June decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which significantly reworked the balance of power between employers and employees, the law was clear that for-profit businesses could not invoke their owners’ religious beliefs to exempt themselves from their legal obligations to their workers. “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice,” the Court held in its 1982 decision in United States v. Lee, “the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Hobby Lobby, of course, was the culmination of a second round of litigation brought by for-profit employers whose owners have religious objections to birth control. And it effectively eliminated the protections Lee extended to workers, at least with respect to federal law.

In both the non-profit cases and the for-profit cases, the Supreme Court has issued decisions suggesting that it would totally be fine for the Obama Administration to guarantee that most women in the workplace have contraceptive health coverage, if only they would do a better job of designing their regulations. Last January, for example, the Court temporarily exempted an order of nuns from the requirement that they fill out the form they are required to fill out in order to obtain an exemption from the birth control rules. Yet the Court’s order in that case also required the nuns to “inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing” of their intention to seek the exemption if they wanted to invoke it. The implication was the the form itself was somehow problematic, and everything would be fine if the Obama Administration had just required non-profit employers to use a different method to inform the government that they are invoking the exemption.

Meanwhile, the Hobby Lobby opinion granted many for-profit employers a religious exemption from the birth control rules, but it also strongly implied that everything would be fine if the Obama Administration had only applied the same regime it applies to non-profit employers to for-profit employers as well. That is, all would be good if, instead of requiring Hobby Lobby to offer birth control coverage directly, Hobby Lobby should instead fill out a form and send a copy of it to their insurer, and then that insurer would provide coverage to Hobby Lobby’s workers. The implication this time around was that the administration’s fill-out-the-form solution struck an appropriate balance between protecting women in the workplace and also shielding religious liberty, and that it would be upheld by the Court.

Only a few days later, however, the Court handed down another order suggesting that the fill-out-a-form solution wasn’t actually a solution at all. In Wheaton College v. Burwell, the justices granted a Christian college a temporary exemption from the requirement than they fill out the form — once again holding that the college could simply “inform[] the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing” that they wish to invoke the exemption. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor accused the Court of shifting the goal posts just days after Hobby Lobby. “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

So the Obama Administration could be forgiven if it believes that it has been cast in the role of Charlie Brown, and that the Supreme Court has assigned itself the role of Lucy while she is holding a football. Nevertheless, the new regulations the administration is expected to announce Friday appear to rest on the assumption that the Court can be taken at its word, and that if the administration provides virtually every accommodation to religious objectors that the justices have thus-far demanded, then its newest round of regulations will be upheld.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new regulations provide that “institutions would have to tell the federal government which company administers their health-insurance plan, and the government would then contact that administrator to ask it to arrange contraception coverage for the institution’s employees. The administrator would likely turn to a traditional insurance company to fund the benefits, and the insurance company would later be reimbursed by the federal government.”

In other words, the new regulations honor Hobby Lobby‘s suggestion that the justices will tolerate a program that places the obligation to cover contraception in the hands of the insurer, not the employer. And they honor Wheaton College‘s suggestion that, even if a particular form is objectionable, employers can still be required to inform the government that they are seeking an exemption from the law using some other method.

The one remaining question is whether the Court will tolerate the new rules’ requirement that religious employers “tell the federal government which company administers their health-insurance plan,” a requirement that goes beyond the obligations the Court imposed in its Wheaton College order. The employers who have raised the staunchest objections to birth control have often claimed that they cannot take any action that will set in motion a chain of events that leads to someone receiving contraception, as doing so would make them “complicit” in the act of providing birth control. If the justices are determined honor even this idiosyncratic objection, then it is unclear that the administration could provide any accommodation that would survive Supreme Court review.

Such a holding, it should be noted, would gut a key limit on federal religious liberty law. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was the statute the Court relied upon in Hobby Lobby, the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” except in certain circumstances. But if requiring someone to write a two sentence letter naming an insurance company can be a “substantial burden,” then anything can be a substantial burden. It’s difficult to imagine a less burdensome act that could be imposed upon someone then requiring them to toss off a letter they could probably draft in 30 seconds.

In any event, however, the Obama Administration’s new rules will likely put an end to the Supreme Court’s ability to move the goalposts every time someone raises a new objection to the administration’s policy. The administration has now crafted its rules to comply almost to the letter with the requirements suggested by previous Supreme Court opinions. Now, the rest of the country will have to wait to find out whether Hobby Lobby actually permits this latest set of rules — or whether the language in that decision leading the Obama Administration in this direction will simply end with Lucy pulling away the football one more time.

The post Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court’s Bluff In Hobby Lobby appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Ferguson and Parallel Universes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Ferguson and Parallel Universes
From: Dani McClain

What an encounter with a right-of-center take on events in Ferguson tells us about the need for answers now.

620,000 Military Families Rely on Food Pantries to Meet Basic Needs
From: Michelle Chen

The stunning figure represents roughly a quarter of households of military members on active duty, the Reserves or the National Guard. 

The Wrong Question: ‘Where Are the Athletes on Ferguson?’
From: Dave Zirin

People are asking why black athletes aren’t speaking out about Ferguson. It’s the wrong question at the wrong time.


Unemployed by Obamacare

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 22nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Unemployed by Obamacare

Why Bowe Bergdahl and Not James Foley?
Erick Erickson, Red State

President Obama’s Problem: Political ADD
Michael Kazin, New Republic

Optimism: Republicans’ Missing Ingredient
Seth Lipsky, New York Post
The thing to remember about the cataract of woe that has befallen our country is how fast things can be turned around.We may be in retreat overseas, with riots simmering in Missouri and the economy stuck in second gear.