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7 Anti-Muslim Incidents That Happened Since the Chapel Hill Murders

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Imraan Siddiqi, Stop Islamophobia Now

The past week has shown a sharp increase in Islamophobia – which has put many communities on edge.


In 2012, the American Muslim community experienced one of the biggest upticks of violence and harassment that the community has ever seen. Eleven years removed from 9/11, there was a seemingly unexplainable rash of attacks against mosques, including arson, vandalism and even shots being fired at different Islamic centers throughout the U.S. Much of this upswing in activity can be attributed to a continued flow of money and rhetoric into what’s termed “The Islamophobia Industry” – as outlined in Center For American Progress’ Fear, Inc., as well as CAIR’s 2013 report: Legislating Fear.

Fast forward to February 2015. The news of a horrific execution-style murder of three young students in Chapel Hill, NC hit the Muslim community like a punch in the chest. The deaths of dental-student Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha saw three bright lights from our community have their lives cut short, in a crime that seemingly had a bias component to it. This came on the heals of the equally horrific murder of Mustafa Mattan, a well-respected Muslim community member who was shot dead while answering his door in Fort McMurray, Canada. But while the community grieved over these losses, an unprecedented string of hate crimes has swarmed not only Muslims, but other minorities who suffer from the epidemic of anti-Muslim sentiment.  Here is a listing of confirmed anti-Muslim incidents that have taken place in recent days:

Dearborn, MI: February 12th – Muslim family attacked at Kroger

With anti-Muslim sentiment rising in the aftermath of recent ISIS attacks, an Arab-American family was assaulted while shopping at a local Kroger.

Houston, TX: February 13th – Arson at the Quba Islamic Institute

Early on February 13th, one of the buildings of this Islamic center burst into flames, completely destroying the structure.

El Paso, TX: February 13th – Multiple Muslim families targeted with slashed tires

Multiple families have the tires slashed on their vehicles, and now fear for their own safety.  Watch Here:

Warwick, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Truth About the Oscars: How and Why Women and People of Color Are Overlooked

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

This year's Oscars crop is overwhelmingly male and white, just like the Academy members who selected them.


Inevitably, every few years, the Oscars’ lack of diversity becomes a key media talking point. And just as inevitably, in the midst of that discussion—generally on Fox News, in the comments section of a website, or in , and the nomination apparently caused a rift between the two. The role of co-director does, indeed, differ from that of the director, but only those on-set woul truly know how the division of labor worked.  

In 87 years, here’s how the number of non-white winners break down: There have been 15 African-American actor winners (Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington (twice), Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Halle Berry, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., Morgan Freeman, Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer and Lupita Nyong’o), four Latino actor winners (José Ferrer, Anthony Quinn, Benicio del Toro and Rita Moreno), and three Asian actor winners (Haing S. Ngor, Ben Kingsley and Miyoshi Umeki).

There have never been any Native American nominees, and thus no winners. The only Native American to accept an award was Sacheen Littlefeather, whom Marlon Brando sent in his place to reject his Best Actor win for “The Godfather” in 1973. She was only able to deliver part of the lengthy speech Brando wrote, which included this statement: “[T]he motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.” You can read the speech in its entirety here.

One Academy member anonymously spoke with the Hollywood Reporter about her vote and her thoughts on this year’s nominees.

“If [“Selma”] had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don't think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Neocon Recipe For Iraq — How to Completely Ruin a Country in 13 Years

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Thom Hartmann, AlterNet

When are we going to do in Iraq what we did in Europe after war destroyed that continent?


As war-hawk Republicans hit the airwaves blaming President Obama for the rise of ISIS in Iraq, and the Congress considers (and complains about) a new authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, it’s important to take a careful, honest look back at the last 13 years in Iraq.

This exercise is about more than blame; it’s about looking at what was done, what didn’t work – and most importantly – this exercise about what policy the US should use, moving forward.

Imagine, God forbid, that a state in America were to be dramatically attacked (a 9/11 level of destruction only on steroids), or fall apart because of a natural disaster. Illinois, for example – or Missouri.

Massive destruction, damaging most of the homes – it could be an epic natural disaster, a cyber attack, or a series of nuclear device detonations.

Water is cut off, electric wires downed, the phone systems taken out. People are dazed, in “shock and awe.” The prisons are damaged, and thousands of criminals are now on the streets, quickly melting back into the civilian populace. The destruction is massive.

The federal government then responds. It puts up a wall around the entire state, and removes from office all employees and elected officials of the state and local governments.

The feds fire all the police and fire departments. They stop paying doctors and hospitals. They throw up cordons around each city to prevent nearby communities and neighboring states from coming in to help.

Why? Because the powers-that-be believe that a mythical force – “The Free Market” – will automatically and magically come to the aid of the damaged state.

The federal government declares that instead of paying normal taxes and getting normal services, nobody will any longer get Social Security payments, food stamps, Medicare or Medicaid. All the “big government” programs are ended, replaced with a flat 15% income tax and an elimination of all regulations on corporate action, either local or multinational.

Unions are outlawed. The 200 largest companies – and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Rudy Giuliani's Deranged Obama Comments this Week Are Perfectly in Character

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Luke Brinker, Salon

The former mayor was and always will be a race baiter.


After Rudy Giuliani embarked on an unhinged anti-Obama rant this week, asserting that the president doesn’t love America and “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up,” a sizable chunk of political observers reacted by lamenting the sad decline of a man once hailed as America’s Mayor. “What a sad, even pathetic person Giuliani has become,” Dan Gillmor sighed. Politico’s Ben White was simultaneously disappointed and scathing: “Sad to see what a lunatic Rudy Giuliani has turned into,” hetweeted.

On Thursday, Giuliani continued his audition for a column at World Net Daily, tellingMegyn Kelly that he’d gladly “repeat” his comments and ridiculing the notion that his remarks about the first African-American president’s upbringing were racist by noting to the New York Times that Obama’s mother was white. His descent into right-wing insanity seemed inexorable.

But do Giuliani’s remarks — and his defiant defenses of them — truly represent a transformation? Only if one ignores his long history of demagogic race-baiting, which hardly began with his criticism of Obama or his reactionary rhetoric in the wake of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths.

As historian Jason Sokol told NPR last year, Giuliani built his political career in large part on racial animus, exploiting the white backlash against black Mayor David Dinkins during his successful 1993 mayoral campaign. Following the Crown Heights riots, Giuliani appeared at a rally of white police officers protesting Dinkins’ policies, where one officer held a sign reading, “Dump the washroom attendant.”

Once mayor, Giuliani worsened the city’s racial divide, instituting “Broken Windows” policing, gutting social services, and appearing wholly unperturbed by incidences of flagrant police misconduct, the Intercept’s Andrew Jerell Jones noted last year:

During his first term as mayor, Giuliani instituted policies guided by the controversial “Broken Windows” theory, which has been used to guide law enforcement officials to focus on stopping petty crime like littering or spraying graffiti. But Broken Windows, which has returned to New York along with its creator, Giuliani and now Mayor Bill De Blasio’s police commissioner Bill Bratton, has been widely and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Real Reason (Some) Women Lose Their Desire for Sex

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Jessica Valenti, The Guardian

And no, a pill won't solve it, unless of course it's a pill to make their partner less lazy.


Are you a woman with a “distressing low desire” for sex? Pharmaceutical company Sprout is trying to get FDA approval for flibanserin (dubbed “the female Viagra”) even though it’s already been rejected twice over concerns that it doesn’t work. But perhaps the problem is not that pill doesn’t do anything; maybe the problem is that it’s treating the wrong issue.

Because, alas, there’s no pill that will make more men interested in foreplay, abandon whatever bad habits they picked up from online porn or make them decide that they’re willing to really try that thing women like that absolutely terrifies them. There’s no pill that’ll will reverse what several studies show is a distinct correlation between the time a woman’s been with a man and how much she still wants to have sex with him (which is more distinct in women than men).

No little pink pill will magically make individual men better – or at least less lazy – at sex. 

Science should be investigating women’s serious loss of desire and researching the physiological problems that can cause women painful or unpleasurable intercourse, as Amanda Marcotte noted in Slate, but female disinterest in sex seems not so much a problem with sex itself as it is a disinterest in a particular partner.

Sexual boredom, when it contributes to decreased desire, may even be somewhat normal in a longterm relationship – and there’s plenty of science showing that sexual monogamy is unnatural. As Natalie Angier once wrote in The New York Times, “Sexual promiscuity is rampant throughout nature, and true faithfulness a fond fantasy.”

But beyond that, part of the issue for women who sleep with men seems to be that sexuality – the way we’ve been taught to think about it and the way we’ve been taught to desire – is distinctly …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Announces Taxpayer Savings: Returns $480,000 to U.S. Treasury from Office Budget

February 20, 2015 in Politics & Elections

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Sen. Rand Paul today announced that he has returned $480,000 to the United States Treasury – money unspent from his official operating budget in 2014. He made the announcement while speaking to young professionals this morning in Louisville, Ky. Since taking office in January 2011, from his Senate office budget, Sen. Paul has returned:

$1.8 million to the U.S. Treasury in cumulative yearly operating budget savings
$170,000 more through sequester cuts in 2013
17% of his total budget to taxpayers

‘Washington has put out-of-control and reckless spending on autopilot and I have pledged to Kentuckians that I will do everything I can to stop it,’ said Sen. Paul. ‘I will continue to lead the fight to rein in government spending, both in my own office budget and my votes in the U.S. Senate.’ Sen. Paul has achieved the savings by asking his staff to do more with less and by taking advantage of technology. Even with the savings, he maintains one of the most active offices on Capitol Hill. …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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VIDEO: 85-year-old Houston Republican Fights for Pot Legalization

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

“It's not the weed of the devil.”


Texas pot legalization advocates have a fiery new ally at their side: 85-year-old Houston grandmother Ann Lee.

Lee's son was involved in a traffic accident some time ago and she gradually came to realize that medical marijuana was helpful to her son and others like him who experience severe pain. “We realized marijuana wasn’t the weed of the devil which I had been known to say ,” she told KHOU.

Because of this change of heart, Lee started campaigning with her husband for legalization last year. Her husband passed away last week, but she plans to spend the rest of her life to fight for this cause, and has lobbied in Austin and plans to eventually go to Washington to do the same, saying that while she has done activism her entire life, she's never received the response she is now getting. “I don’t know whether it’s my age, the white hair, what is it, but I’ve never had the response that I’m now getting,” Lee said, adding that she supports full legalization for adults.

She may have changed her position on weed, but not her party affiliation. Lee is a Republican, but she sees no contradiction between her party affiliation and her occasional indulgence in pot edibles. “It's not Republican to support prohibition,” she says. “The government has no business telling you you cannot.”

Watch KHOU's report about Lee: 

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Rich Pay State and Local Taxes at Half the Rate the Rest of Us Do

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By David Sirota, AlterNet

So many problems could be solved with tax fairness.


Roads are crumbling, bridges require repairs, schools need upgrades and public pension systems remain underfunded. How can states and cities find the money to address any of these problems? One way could be through their tax codes.

According to a new report, if the rich paid the same state and local tax rate as the middle class, states and cities would have hundreds of billions of dollars more a year in public revenue.

Last month, the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).

That preceded the new report from the left-leaning groups Good Jobs First and the Keystone Research Center which finds that if tax laws were changed to compel the highest income earners to pay the same rate as everyone else, states and localities would rake in up to $128 billion a year in new revenue. If just the top 1 percent of earners were compelled to pay the typical middle-class tax rate, the report says the change would raise more than $68 billion in new annual revenues.

To put those numbers in context, consider that the price tag of other public priorities is just a fraction of the money that could be raised by equalizing tax rates. For instance, the report notes that free community college would cost $6 billion a year, and universal pre-kindergarten in all states would cost roughly $24 billion. Similarly, the report notes that the total annual price tag of backfilling public pension shortfalls is $30.5 billion. It also finds that five states that would reap the most revenue from equalizing tax rates — Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ohio — are among those with the largest pension shortfalls.

Of course, despite its findings, the report is likely to have no effect in many state legislatures, as it follows a 2014 election that saw tax-averse Republicans increase their power in the nation's statehouses.

The National Conference of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Clinton Foundation Receiving Millions of Dollars from Corporations That Want to Build Keystone XL

February 20, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Could this be why Hillary Clinton has been curiously silent on the issue?


Preventing the Keystone XL pipeline has become a rallying point for the environmental movement, which has won over President Obama who has said he will veto efforts by Congress to force an approval.

However, one pol who has been curiously silent on the issue is presumptive 2016 Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.

A look at many of the major donors to the Clinton Foundation may just offer an explanation. From CommonDreams:

According to a voluntary disclosure from the Foundation, in 2014 the not-for-profit received between $250,000 and $500,000 from Canada's Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development  department, which has pressed for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The agency's own website states that one of its priorities is to “Deepen commercial relations  with the United States through support for innovation and foreign investment and promote  Canada as a stable and secure source of energy and energy technology, such as the Keystone XL  initiative.”

This Canadian agency is not the only donor aligned with big oil.

Numerous fossil fuel giants sent direct payments to the foundation in 2014, including Exxon Mobil Corp., which donated up to $5 million, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., BP, ConocoPhillips  Co., Chesapeake Energy Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp, the Hillreported.

Big Oil has played a key role in lobbying in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, including in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama signed by the CEOs of ExxonMobil and Anadarko.

When asked about the pipeline this past summer by a Canadian newspaper, Clinton replied, “I can't respond. She continued, “I can’t really comment at great length because I had responsibility for it and it’s been passed on and it wouldn’t be appropriate, but I hope that Canadians appreciate that the United States government — the Obama administration — is trying to get it right. And getting it right doesn’t mean you will agree or disagree with the decision but that it will be one based on the best available evidence and all of the complex local, state, federal, interlocking laws and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Does Supporting School Choice Mean Hating Public Schools?

February 20, 2015 in Economics

By Jason Bedrick

image

Jason Bedrick

Does the Arizona legislature hate public schools? Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts says it does. Her proof: Senate Bill 1434, which would expand eligibility for Arizona’s education savings accounts (ESAs) to include students on district and charter school waiting lists.

Under Arizona’s ESA law, the state takes 90 percent of the funds it would have spent on a given child at her assigned district school and, upon her parent’s request, deposits those funds in an account that can be used for a variety of educational expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, online learning, homeschool curricula, and more.

So, how do ESAs entail “hate” for district schools? According to Roberts, “SB 1434 is aimed at enticing more kids to leave public schools.”

Contrary to Roberts’ insinuation, these families aren’t like The Little Rascals following around a dollar on a string that’s being secretly pulled by school choice supporters. These parents were already seeking options and solutions. After all, the waiting lists existed before this expansion was ever proposed. ESAs are in response to parent demand.

Currently, ESA eligibility is limited to students with special needs, students assigned to a district school labeled D or F by the state, foster children, and children of active-duty military personnel and those killed in the line of duty. SB 1434 would expand eligibility to include any child who “was previously denied admission to a district school or charter school that is operated within 25 miles of the child’s residence within the previous 12 months.”

Should public education support schools or students?”

Roberts fears allowing “virtually any parent” to “siphon money” away from district schools to customize their child’s education would effectively “dismantle traditional public education.” Her concern raises three valuable questions more states and communities should be discussing:

Question #1: Should public education support schools or students?

It’s the opinion of this and other school choice supporters that public education exists to fund the best possible education for every child, whether that’s at a district school, private school, parochial school, home school, or other service provider. And the evidence shows that model benefits students.

The conclusion of 13 out of 14 randomized controlled trials—the gold standard for social science research—is that school choice programs raise participating students’ academic performance, and increase their likelihood of graduating high school and enrolling in and graduating from college. One study found no statistically significant difference and …read more

Source: OP-EDS