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Archive for October 2nd, 2014

Arkansas GOP Candidate’s Voter Registration Canceled

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Arkansas GOP Candidate’s Voter Registration Canceled
The Republican candidate for Arkansas attorney general is no longer a registered Arkansas voter. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane on Tuesday canceled the voter registration for Leslie Rutledge of Little Rock after confirming that the former legal aide under Gov. Mike Huckabee is registered to vote in Washington, D.C., and possibly Virginia. Rutledge is claiming political motivation in the cancellation of her registration. “Take a minute to howl with laughter,” writes Laura Clawson on Daily Kos. “A Republican candidate bitterly complaining about how reprehensible it is to take away a person’s right to vote. Like that’s not one of three prongs of the Republican plan for winning elections over the next few cycles as demographics shift against them.”

Obama Defends Economy by Pointing Overseas
President Barack Obama is making the case for his economic stewardship at home by appealing to American pride, arguing that the U.S. is showing more progress than other nations. “Our economy isn’t just primed for steadier, more sustained growth,” Obama said today in a speech at Northwestern University. “America is better poised to lead and succeed in the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.” The U.S. economy has made broad gains and companies are thriving, even if few of the benefits have trickled down to typical families. Payrolls this year are expanding at the fastest pace since 1999, growing by an average of more than 215,000 jobs per month. The jobless rate declined to 6.1 percent in August, the lowest since 2008.


Many sick in US Ebola patient’s Liberia hometown

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Many sick in US Ebola patient’s Liberia hometown
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Thomas Eric Duncan rushed to help his 19-year-old neighbor when she began convulsing days after first complaining of stomach pain. Everyone assumed her health problems were related to her being 7 months pregnant. Still, no ambulance came as Ebola decimates Liberia’s capital.

Family that hosted Ebola patient confined to home
DALLAS (AP) — A woman who is confined to her Dallas apartment under armed guard after a man infected with Ebola stayed at her home, says she never imagined this could happen to her thousands of miles from disease-ravaged West Africa.

US factory orders fall record 10.1 percent
WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories fell in August by the largest amount on record, but the big drop was heavily influenced by a plunge in volatile aircraft orders.


Mitt Romney: Republican man in demand

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Mitt Romney: Republican man in demand
The defeated 2012 GOP presidential nominee’s busy midterm campaign schedule is stoking more 2016 buzz

Obama: Republicans say “no” to policies to help middle class
President Obama says he’s not on the ballot in November’s midterm elections, but his recommendation for how people should vote is “implied.”

Opponents of Wisconsin voter ID law ask Supreme Court to step in
The Supreme Court has been asked to block the controversial voter ID law before the November elections


Washington Times Continues Unethical Relationship With National Rifle Association

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Washington Times Continues Unethical Relationship With National Rifle Association

After originally excluding mention of opinion editor David Keene’s ongoing relationship with the National Rifle Association in his most recent piece for the paper, the Washington Times quietly added the disclosure after being contacted by Media Matters.

In a September 29 commentary, Keene wrote about the fight over gun legislation in Colorado, echoing the NRA’s own messaging in the state. Keene, a former NRA president and current board member, is, according to the Times’ own standards, “free to write about the NRA in his personal weekly column as long as he discloses to the reader in that column his continuing role with the organization.” But his ongoing relationship with the gun group was originally missing from the column.

At the bottom of the original commentary, which appeared online and was the top-billed opinion piece in the print edition of the conservative paper, the following note was appended: “David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times.”

Media Matters contacted Times editor John Solomon to ask about the omission, only hearing back after the column had been updated to read: “David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He is a former president and current board member of the National Rifle Association.” (Solomon responded that the version he was viewing “has his role as current board member.”)

Keene became the Times opinion editor in July 2013 after serving as NRA president between 2011 and 2013. According to the NRA, Keene has served on the group’s board of directors since 2000.

After Keene described participating in the crafting of the NRA’s 2014 midterm election strategy in a February 2014 interview with The Washington Examiner, Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp asked Solomon whether Keene’s continuing role with the NRA created a conflict of interest on the Times’ opinion page.

While acknowledging Keene’s ongoing NRA role, Solomon said, “Our ethics rules allow an employee in special circumstances to hold an outside position, if it is pre-approved and the appropriate ethical steps are followed. That’s the case with David Keene and his membership on the board of the NRA. We knew when we asked David to be our opinion editor that he would continue on the NRA board. We also knew that his role with the NRA was publicly and extensively known.”

Among the “set of rules” that Keene is supposed to follow, Solomon said, “He is free to write about the NRA in his personal weekly column as long as he discloses to the reader in that column his continuing role with the organization.”


Ladies and Gentleman, Not-Wingnut Bob for Governor

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Ladies and Gentleman, Not-Wingnut Bob for Governor
Mike Littwin, RealClearPolitics
Bob Beauprez is not Tom Tancredo. That’s the whole reason Republicans nominated him to run for governor. That’s the reason he was recruited. The plan was that enough voters would overlook the fact that he had lost by 17 points the last time he ran for governor because, at minimum, they figured he wouldn’t be a Tancredo-like distraction. And it worked. He won the primary. But what is not quite so obvious is that the Republican leaders who picked Beauprez also had to hope that he wouldn’t be, well, a Beauprez-like distraction. That’s the irony here. Beauprez is no Tancredo. But for a seemingly…

Women Lying to Women
Mona Charen, RealClearPolitics
There’s really only one thing that progressives get wrong: human nature. This leads them into error on economics, where they imagine they can micromanage billions of individual decisions every day; foreign policy, in which they overestimate the appeal of “talks” and underestimate the ferocity and opportunism of aggressors; and sex, in which, well, where to begin? California proposes to stop campus rape and sexual assault with a law redefining consent. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last week specifying that verbal consent must precede all sexual activity. Further, consent cannot be given…


VIDEO: Up for grabs: Who will win Clacton seat?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

VIDEO: Up for grabs: Who will win Clacton seat?
The BBC’s Adam Fleming visits Clacton as the campaigning for the by-election in the town enters its final week.

BNP expels ex-leader Nick Griffin
The British National Party says it has expelled its former leader Nick Griffin, accusing him of trying to “destabilise” the party.

Minister sorry for ‘queers’ retweet
A Conservative minister apologises for sharing a poem on Twitter which suggested the Labour Party was “full of queers”.


Turkey Votes to Allow Operations Against ISIS

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Turkey Votes to Allow Operations Against ISIS
Parliament also voted Thursday to allow foreign forces to launch operations from Turkey, but it was far from clear if the political step would soon translate into military action.



97 Soldiers Face Charges in Nigeria
Those charged, including 16 officers, are accused of mutiny, assault, cowardice and refusing to fight Islamic insurgents.



Sinosphere Blog: Another U.S. University Severs Ties to Confucius Institute
Penn State’s decision follows a similar move by the University of Chicago, delivering a fresh setback to China’s soft-power push on American college campuses.



World Briefing: Venezuela: Lawmaker Killed in His Home, Police Say
A day after Robert Serra, a rising star in Venezuela’s governing party, was stabbed to death in his home, officials said Thursday that it was a carefully planned murder.



Hong Kong and Tiananmen Protests Have Major Differences
While the Chinese flag flies over Hong Kong, the demonstrations there spring from a very different political system.




The Supreme Court Just Took A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Supreme Court Just Took A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse

The Supreme Court of the United States may be poised to give the Republican Party a big gift — more seats in Arizona’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The post The Supreme Court Just Took A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The American people voted to make this woman Speaker of the House in 2012

The American people voted to make this woman Speaker of the House in 2012

CREDIT: AP

The Supreme Court of the United States may be poised to give the Republican Party a big gift — more seats in Arizona’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2012, Democratic House candidates received nearly 1.4 million more votes than Republicans. Yet Republican John Boehner, and not Democrat Nancy Pelosi, is Speaker of the House due to the way congressional districts are drawn in several states. Gerrymandering by Republican state lawmakers played a significant role in allowing Republicans to keep control of the House. Indeed, a Republican organization bragged after the 2012 election that gerrymandering “paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.”

Yet, despite the anti-democratic effects of gerrymandering and other quirks of America’s legislative redistricting process — Republicans currently enjoy a 233-199 seat advantage in the House — the 2012 House elections could have gone even worse for Democrats if it wasn’t for an Arizona redistricting commission which draws that state’s congressional maps with input from both political parties. Under the maps drawn by that commission, Democrats currently control 5 of Arizona’s 9 congressional seats.

Arizona Republicans are not fond of this commission, which was created by a ballot initiative in 2000. In 2011, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) called a special session of the GOP-controlled state legislature to impeach commission chair Collen Mathis. Though the state senate voted to remove Mathis from office, the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated her. Under Arizona law, the commission chair may be removed for “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or inability to discharge the duties of office,” but the state supreme court concluded that Brewer had not demonstrated that Mathis was guilty of any of these things.

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would consider another round of litigation brought by Arizona’s GOP-controlled legislature. In Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the state legislature asks the Supreme Court to effectively return the power to draw maps to state lawmakers.

The premise of this lawsuit is that the Constitution provides that “[t]he times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof,” and the Arizona lawmakers argue that the word “Legislature” can only mean the body of lawmakers who are elected by the people of Arizona to make laws — not an independent commission separate from the state house and state senate. The problem with this lawsuit, however, is that it runs headlong into Supreme Court precedents that a lower court relied upon in order to dismiss this lawsuit.

In the 1916 case Ohio ex. rel. Davis v. Hildebrant, the Supreme Court considered a decision by the voters of Ohio to essentially veto the congressional maps drawn by state lawmakers. Under Ohio’s Constitution, “the legislative power was expressly declared to be vested not only in the Senate and House of Representatives of the State, constituting the General Assembly, but in the people in whom a right was reserved by way of referendum to approve or disapprove by popular vote any law enacted by the General Assembly.” Thus, while the General Assembly had the power to make laws, including laws drawing legislative maps, the people of Ohio can overrule their elected representatives through a referendum.

In Hildebrant, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the power to draw legislative lines must be vested exclusively in the state house and state senate. Indeed, the Court’s opinion suggests that the word “Legislature” can refer to the people of the state as a whole when the state’s constitution gives them the power to make or repeal laws through initiative or referendum. “[T]he referendum constituted a part of the state constitution and laws,” the Court explained, “and was contained within the legislative power.”

Sixteen years later, in a case called Smiley v. Holm, the Court explained that the word “Legislature” should not be read so hyper-literally as to prevent a governor from vetoing a state’s redistricting plan. An executive veto, the Court held, “is a matter of state polity” that the Constitution “neither requires nor excludes.”

More recently, in 2012, a federal appeals court explained that the word “Legislature,” as it is used in the Constitution, “encompasses the entire lawmaking function of the state.” So when Arizona gave its people the power to enact ballot initiatives, it gave them the power to enact ballot initiatives that create a redistricting commission.

Nevertheless, there are some warning signs that the Supreme Court’s right flank wants to upset this balance. In Bush v. Gore — yes, THAT Bush v. Gore — Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined an opinion arguing that the Constitution prohibited Florida’s state courts from reaching certain interpretations of the state’s election law. This opinion relied on a constitutional provision providing that presidential electors must be selected “as the Legislature” of a state directs. Thus, it argued, the judicial branch of a state could not act in a way that these conservative justices viewed as counter to the legislature’s intent.

Should the justices apply a similar reasoning in the Arizona case, then the state’s redistricting commission is in trouble. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what will happen if that occurs. Republicans controlled the most recent redistricting process in six key states that President Obama won in 2012. This was the result of that GOP control:

GOPHouseGerrymander

Should the Supreme Court strike down Arizona’s redistricting commission, it is likely that Arizona’s congressional districts will soon look much like Ohio’s, Virginia’s and Pennsylvania’s.

The post The Supreme Court Just Took A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Major Drilling Services Company Will Now Disclose All Fracking Chemicals

Baker Hughes is one of the world’s largest oilfield services company and is the latest to agree to complete disclosure of fracking chemicals.

The post Major Drilling Services Company Will Now Disclose All Fracking Chemicals appeared first on ThinkProgress.

A jar holding waste water from hydraulic fracturing is held up to the light at a recycling site in Midland, Texas, Sept. 24, 2013.

A jar holding waste water from hydraulic fracturing is held up to the light at a recycling site in Midland, Texas, Sept. 24, 2013.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

Drilling services company Baker Hughes will from now on disclose all the chemicals they use in fracking, under a new policy announced Tuesday.

Baker Hughes, which is one of the world’s largest companies providing drilling and other services to oil companies, pledged Tuesday that it would disclose 100 percent of the chemical makeup in the fluid it uses for fracking, “without the use of any trade secret designations.” The company said in a statement that it hopes its decision to disclose its chemical mix will help instill more public trust in the fracking process.

“Introducing greater transparency about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and protecting the ability to innovate are not conflicting goals,” Derek Mathieson, Baker Hughes chief strategy officer, said in a statement. “The policy we are implementing today is consistent with our belief that we are partners in solving industry challenges, and that we have a responsibility to provide the public with the information they want and deserve. It simultaneously enables us to protect proprietary information that is critical to our growth.”

Baker Hughes had previously announced plans to disclose fracking chemicals in April. The company will now list all the chemicals they use for each fracking job on FracFocus.org, a site that collects voluntary submissions of chemicals used by fracking companies.

In most states, oil and gas companies aren’t required to disclose the chemical makeup of their fracking fluid, which means the exact cocktail used by most companies is kept secret. FracFocus has compiled a list of chemicals used by fracking companies, but a report from the Department of Energy in March found that 84 percent of the wells that had provided chemical information to FracFocus withheld information for at least one chemical, invoking trade secret protection.

Last year, California passed a law that requires oil and gas companies to list the chemicals they use in fracking operations, but the state remains the only one to have such a strict law on fracking chemical disclosure. In January, North Carolina passed a rule that gives fracking companies the right to keep their chemical mixes secret. Wyoming requires fracking companies to disclose some of the chemicals they use, but the state allows exemptions for trade secrets. Ohio has a similar rule.

Critics argue that disclosing chemicals used in fracking could help protect residents that live near fracking operations, by informing them of what toxic substances to test for in their water. There haven’t been many studies on how exposure to the water mixture that’s used in fracking operations affects humans, but one study found that exposure to fracking wastewater caused stillbirths and death in cattle. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently looking into rules that would require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use, but the rules aren’t likely to be binding and will likely include exemptions for trade secrets.

Baker Hughes’ announcement came the same week that ExxonMobil released a report that documents the risks of fracking for its shareholders. Some say the report doesn’t go far enough, however — Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, told the AP she wished Exxon’s report had gone further.

“Exxon continues to discuss generalized practices…but provides no concrete data on whether it is actually reducing risks and impacts at each of the plays in which it is conducting fracking,” she said.

The post Major Drilling Services Company Will Now Disclose All Fracking Chemicals appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Which Cable Network Nearly Skipped Out on Climate Week?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Which Cable Network Nearly Skipped Out on Climate Week?
From: Leslie Savan

CNN’s climate change coverage almost disappeared like Malaysian Flight 370.

10 ‘Nation’ Articles on the Roosevelts, From TR’s Early Days to Eleanor’s Death
From: Back Issues

Contemporaneous accounts of the Roosevelts ranging over seventy years.

Don’t Fall for the GOP’s Over-the-Counter Contraception Racket
From: Zoë Carpenter

Calls for the pill to be available without a prescription are just naked attempts to woo female voters and mask opposition to the Obamacare birth control mandate.


Securing Social Security

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 2nd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Securing Social Security
Gail Collins, New York Times
There was this at the Senate debate in Iowa on Sunday:“I will fight hard to protect Social Security and Medicare for seniors like my mom and dad because our Greatest Generation has worked so hard for the American dream for our families,” said Republican Joni Ernst.

The Obama Economy Won’t Work in Dems’ Favor
Ed Rogers, Wash Post
With only about four weeks until the election, and faced with the very real possibility that the Republicans will take back the Senate, President Obama and the Democrats have no choice but to try and put the best spin possible on the economy. In a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday, the president said, “I can put my record against any leader around the world in terms of digging ourselves out of a terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis. Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ In this case, are you better off…

Can Dems Escape Obama’s Foreign Policy Blunders?
J. Dickerson, Slate
Sens. Mark Udall, Jeanne Shaheen, and Kay Hagan all serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. With national security in the headlines, that position could give them standing to speak with authority about terrorist threats and what they believe the United States should do to respond to them. But at the moment when the president’s response to the threat from ISIS is being criticized, and approval of his handling of foreign affairs is low (at only 34 percent), being a member from the same party with responsibility for national security issues may be a liability.

Two Speeches and a Tragedy
George Packer, The New Yorker
In his first year in office, President Obama gave two speeches—one in Cairo, the other in Oslo—that bear directly on the crisis in the Middle East today. The Cairo speech, in June, 2009, offered a message of peace and coöperation between America, the West, and the Muslim world. It sketched an optimistic vision of the future based on principles of mutual respect, tolerance, human development, and democracy. It quoted verses of the Koran to claim Islam as a religion devoted to these principles. The Cairo speech, coming just five months into his Presidency, depended heavily on…