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Boiling Point: Why Do We Let Big Oil Send Workers to Their Deaths?

February 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Jonathan Rosenblum, Tikkun

We are experiencing a vast number of preventable deaths.

Picture this: You’re at the airport, about to board your flight. As you wait by the gate a pair of airline pilots chat nearby. They are your crew.

“I’m so exhausted,” says one, sipping a large coffee. “This’ll put me at 15 duty hours today. And I haven’t had a day off in a month – at least 12 hours every single day for the last 30 days. The stress is just killing me.”

“I know,” replies the other, yawning widely. “I haven’t really seen my family in a month. When I was driving home last night I could barely keep my eyes open. I hope I can do better on the flight tonight.”

Would you get on the plane? Of course not. The public wouldn’t buy tickets under these circumstances, which is why we have rigorously enforced laws against airlines overworking pilots.

But what if your job depended on getting on that plane? What if your job depended on boarding that plane not just once, but every day – would you get on it?

That’s the choice workers whose products we consume every day have been forced to make. They are refinery workers, subjected to Big Oil’s penchant for working people beyond exhaustion in the name of profits. The jobs inside refineries and cockpits, though of course technically dissimilar, share a common intolerance for error. But we have strict laws governing the safety of airline pilots, while the inhumane overwork of refinery workers proceeds largely within the shadows of our economy, outside of our view and beyond our daily consciences.

That may be changing, however.

Currently more than 6,000 oil refinery workers and their families are walking picket lines, the first national oil walkout since 1980. Workplace safety is the main issue – for the workers and their families, as well as for communities surrounding refineries. In the coming weeks the number of strikers could swell.

In exposing unsafe working conditions to the public, the refinery workers are raising not only contract demands, but also a deeper challenge about the …read more


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The (Not Entirely New) Republican War on American History

February 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Steve Singiser, Daily Kos

The GOP struggles to control the past.

Headline #1—“Oklahoma Republicans may have outlawed Advanced Placement courses”:

Oklahoma Republican legislators are debating whether Advanced Placement courses should be taught in their state's public schools. Let's pause to absorb that, shall we? Oklahoma lawmakers do not want their state's students to be able to take classes that will allow them to earn college credit while still in high school, thanks to a far-right conspiracy theory about the College Board's latest AP U.S. History framework. One bill currently being considered would specifically ban the AP U.S. History course, while some legislators think that an anti-Common Core law passed last year may already apply to all AP courses.

Headline #2—Georgia Republicans latest to propose airing of right-wing propaganda as 'history' in public schools:

Georgia wants to “encourage” middle schools and high schools in Georgia to show the latest right-wing propaganda project of an admitted felon in history classes. Which is totally cool, though, because, you see, this six-pack of Georgia right-wingers only wants to show this propaganda because they are convinced … convinced! … that history classes are already a cesspool of left-wing propaganda.

Conservative contempt for academia has long been established, the conservative euphoria over Scott Walker's lack of a college degree being a recent example. But this goes deeper—this is not just a curious strain of anti-intellectualism that has long been a staple of Republican rhetoric. This is a war on the study of American History itself, and it seems entirely plausible, if not likely, that the driving force is far more about contemporary politics than it is about historical dispute about interpretations of the past.

Follow me past the jump for an explanation of why the War on History might have more to do with 21st century politics than events of the prior centuries.


Despite the fact that these two legislative assaults on the study of American History in schools are recent, by no means do they exist in isolation. Republican attempts to alternately stifle the study of American History, or attempt to retrofit common historical interpretations to …read more


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Fox Doctor Doesn't Know Difference Between Crack and Marijuana

February 28, 2015 in Blogs

By David Edwards, Raw Story

Dr. David Samadi has some interesting theories.

Fox News Medical A-Team member Dr. David Samadi asserted over the weekend that “crack babies” were caused by women “smoking this whole marijuana business.”

On the Saturday edition of Fox & Friends, host Clayton Morris reported that a recent study published in Scientific Reports found that marijuana was less dangerous than any other common recreational drug, including alcohol and cigarettes. 

“I think it’s a very dangerous study,” Samadi argued. “People need to be very careful about not getting the wrong message from this study. They’re using a lethal dose as a comparison. For example, they’re putting pot against or weed against cocaine or alcohol. We know you need less amount of alcohol to die. So, they’re using death to see what’s dangerous and what’s not.”

“They’re extrapolating a lot of these animal studies and surveys that doesn’t make a lot of sense and coming with this whole thing that pot is safer,” the doctor insisted. “Absolutely not. It’s a huge fraud.”

Samadi warned that marijuana could cause memory loss, mood changes and psychosis. 

“It actually causes heart attacks,” he added. “It increases your heart rate. And on and on.”

“We’re seeing in Colorado that we had 13 kids that came to the emergency [room] and ended up in the ICU as a result of overdose from marijuana,” Samadi said. “Now we have crack babies coming in because pregnant women are smoking this whole marijuana business.”

The Fox News Medical A-Team doctor concluded by calling medical marijuana “the biggest scam I’ve ever seen.”

“I challenge any doctors, come to my Facebook, convince me how this is healthy for you. I’m 100 percent against this.”

Watch the video below from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast Feb. 28, 2015.



…read more


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A Message to Republicans: Millions of Americans Won't Forget How You Treated Their Mom and Dad

February 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Walter Einenkel, The Daily Kos

Congressman Luis Gutierrez dropped a simple fact during the House Judiciary Committee a couple of days ago.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez dropped a simple fact during the House Judiciary Committee a couple of days ago. While republicans denounced the President's executive action on immigration reform and tried to pretend that they are not holding the Department of Homeland Security hostage, Mr. Gutierrez had this to say:

This is a very perilous place for my friends in the majority. Because you have 5 million American citizen children who are never going to forget for a generation how it was you treated their mom and their dad. How it was you treated their mom and their dad; and if you treated them in a cruel manner.



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The Sneaky Ways Big Food Is Marketing Junk As Natural and Healthy

February 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Lindsay Abrams,

The “snack better” movement is based on a lot of lies

Americans are finally beginning to figure out that they’re too good for junk food, and the industry is feeling the burn. Bloomberg Businessweek’s latest cover story — “They’re Gr-r-ross” – takes the form of a premature eulogy to Tony the Tiger, and portrays the beloved mascot sporting a gas mask.

Big Food itself isn’t even denying it anymore: Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, recently acknowledged the monumental challenge of consumers’ renewed interest in healthful food, coupled with a growing suspicion that the sought-after fare can’t be found in cans or packages; what Morrison characterized as our “mounting distrust of so-called Big Food, the large food companies and legacy brands on which millions of consumers have relied on for so long.”

Hearing Morrison’s distress cry, food and agriculture writer Tom Philpott asked, “Is the junk-food era drawing to a close?”

To which I would respond: maybe. But maybe it just wants us to think it is.

True, there are signs Big Food’s offerings aren’t flying off the shelves the way they used to. As Philpott details, a number of major convenience food companies — the owners of brands like Reddi-Wip, Chef Boyardee, Oscar Mayer deli meats and Velveeta cheese — are reporting sluggish sales and diminishing profits, while Kellogg’s is attempting to reverse its slump by releasing new products, with an emphasis on simpler ingredients. The amount of calories Americans consume from sugary drinks, moreover, has been declining for more than a decade. New dietary recommendations  reinforce that trend toward the healthful, advocating for a diet high in plants and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, even suggesting taxes on the latter to further influence behavior.

There are other indications, though, that we’re less enlightened than we’d like to believe. For one, there’s that whole problem of Americans snacking so much, our days have basically turned into one giant meal. In a Nielsen survey from last August, 91 percent of respondents said they snack daily, 25 percent do so three to five times per day, and 17 percent of respondents said they snack more now …read more


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South Carolina College Bans Homosexuality After Athletes Come Out as Gay

February 27, 2015 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

Erskine College banned same-sex relationships because it isn’t part of “God’s intended design.”

A rural South Carolina college is attempting to ban homosexuality among its students after two of the school’s volleyball players came out as gay. reported that Erskine College issued a policy statement that the college is officially opposed to same-sex relationships because it isn’t part of “God’s intended design for humanity.”

Last year, two players on the Erskine volleyball team, Drew Davis and Juan Verona, went public with the fact that they are gay men. The team went on to play against the top teams in the nation at the NCAA tournament.

Now, Erskine officials are attempting to make certain that any other LGBT students at the college know that the school does not welcome them.

The school’s “Statement on Human Sexuality,” issued late last week, said “We believe the Bible teaches that all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage is sinful and therefore ultimately destructive to the parties involved,” and continued:

Christ affirms that marital union is to be between a man and woman (Matt 19:4-6). The Bible teaches that monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is God’s intended design for humanity and that sexual intimacy has its proper place only within the context of marriage (1 Thes. 4:3-5, Col. 3:5-7). Sexual relations outside of marriage or between persons of the same sex are spoken of in scripture as sin and contrary to the will of the Creator (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-11).

We believe the Bible teaches that all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage is sinful and therefore ultimately destructive to the parties involved. As a Christian academic community, and in light of our institutional mission, members of the Erskine community are expected to follow the teachings of scripture concerning matters of human sexuality and institutional decisions will be made in light of this position.

The college’s website said that it intends to “add the statement to its official manuals and determine how it will be integrated into campus culture and procedures.”

Varona told …read more


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Scott Walker's ISIS Gaffe Causes Explosion of Mocking Images

February 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Giles Goat Boy, Daily Kos

Internet parodies abound after the Wisconsin governor compares union members to terrorists.

Yesterday, when asked about ISIS, presidential hopeful and current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that his response to the peaceful labor protests in Madison in 2011 prepared him to stamp out international terrorism. Apparently that means that in case of a terrorist attack he would sneak in and out of the White House via a not-so-secret rat tunnel and consult on the phone with bloggers pretending to be billionaire David Koch.

Even the National Review called his response “awful.”

Asked about ISIS, Walker responded, “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the globe.”

That is a terrible response. First, taking on a bunch of protesters is not comparably difficult to taking on a Caliphate with sympathizers and terrorists around the globe, and saying so suggests Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups.

Naturally, the “terrorists” in Wisconsin have unleashed a counterattack – in the form of a super-satirical barrage of photo memes.


One citizen suggested spreading this image in case ISIS comes looking for revenge:

Here are some more. Feel free to post any additional memes in the comments.

That is one terrifying smile:

The Red Scare!!!

Be sure to check her Birkenstocks for incendiary devices…

It only took 6 burly cops to arrest this man for holding a sign. What courage. What bravery! And they arrested him right next to the copy of the Wisconsin Constitution that states in Article 1 that the right of the citizens to petition the government “shall never be abridged.” Oh well.

You know they start those terrorists really young…

Look out behind you, Granny!

Leaving so soon?

One more. I feel so much safer now…

ENCORE! You asked for more, so here you go. Here is an obvious pinko terrorist…

You can spot the home-grown terrorists right …read more


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CPAC 2015 Wants You to Know: You Are In Terrible Danger

February 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Jeb Lund, The Guardian

From warmongers to conspiracy theorists, all of those present can agree that America needs to be afraid.

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day-long performance from an improv troupe whose hat has only has one statement in it: you’re in terrible danger. But that doesn’t mean you’re in terrible danger right now. Right now, there are seminars. About the danger. I have been to them, as part of my quest to be America’s Most Impervious Man. I don’t even care to what.

After a lunch consisting of a bowl of nails and a mean old dog, I attend the “America at Risk” seminar featuring speakers “Callista Gingrich” and “Newt Gingrich.” Technically, this statement is true, because they speak, and their words come out of speakers. Unfortunately, neither are here. Instead, after spending approximately one jillion dollars to attend CPAC, everyone in the Gaylord Hotel’s Chesapeake Rooms 4-6 gets to watch a $9.99 DVD. From 2010.

“America at Risk” is a well-shot piece of propaganda, with appropriately sinister documentary music and Ken Burns-esque pans across pictures of bad people. At one point, we are informed that, in 2009, “There were over a dozen terrorist cases in the United States.” The vague wording really works for me. I immediately wonder which of the dozen involved that white Nazi from Maine trying to build a dirty bomb or the white Nazi patriot shooting people at the Holocaust museum. Then I realize that these terrorist “cases” probably did not include white people, militias, separatists or sovereign citizens, since the number would probably be off by an order of magnitude.

Still, I enjoy seeing Marc Theissen claim that waterboarding works, that the Muslim Brotherhood controls one third of all mosques in America, and listening to a man explaining that we are currently experiencing Islam’s “third great jihad.” 

Of course, what I enjoy is irrelevant. What the audience revel in is hooting at the screen whenever Barack Obama says anything divergent from what they agree …read more


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Utah Medical Marijuana Bill Moving Forward

February 27, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By jpearson

Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee, Heads to Senate Floor Next Week
Statement from Ethan Nadelmann: “If medical marijuana can advance in Utah … it can advance anywhere in the U.S.”

Utah is the latest 'red' state to consider medical marijuana. Yesterday, Utah's Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would allow for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor early next week.
February 27, 2015

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Dear Patricia Arquette: Here's What Your Oscar Speech Failed to Mention

February 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Brittney Cooper, Salon

Black America’s hidden tax is why this feminist of color is going on strike.

Black women have a long history of advocating for fair wages and access to decent employment opportunities for African-American communities. In her recent remarks at the Academy Awards championing the fight against wage inequality, Patricia Arquette seemed wholly unaware of these histories, elaborating backstage that it was now time for all other groups to fight for white women, because they had fought for everybody else.

In 1920 or thereabouts, famed Washington, D.C., educator Nannie Helen Burroughs helped to found the National Association of Wage Earners as both an advocacy group and a training resource for working class black women. Addressing employment inequality and wage inequality for newly freed black women entering the workforce after Emancipation, and later for black women from the South who had migrated North, was a hallmark of black women’s organizing in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Fannie Barrier Williams, a socialite, club woman and budding political theorist told the crowd, “in the item of employment, colored women bear a distressing burden of mean and unreasonable discrimination.” Still, she told them, “we believe this country is large enough and the opportunities for all kinds of success are great enough to afford our women a fair chance to earn a respectable living.” In 1925, Gertrude Elise McDougald, an organizer and teacher in New York City, helped to found the Trade Union Committee for Organizing Negro Workers, in order to encourage African-American solidarity with labor and discourage strike-breaking as the pathway to work.

It also bears noting that Fannie Barrier Williams gave her 1893 speech to an audience of white women. It was she urging them to become black women’s allies in the quest for fair employment practices and a living wage. So I am left wanting to ask Patricia Arquette where all the white women who’ve been fighting for every other group of marginalized people are, because some of the most prominent black women organizers in history spent a fair amount of time trying to …read more