You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 11.

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Sen. Paul Questions Secretary Kerry on Authorization for War with ISIS

March 11, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to question Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the Obama Administration’s proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State, known as ISIS. During the hearing, Sen. Paul emphasized the need for the Executive Branch to abide by the U.S. Constitution and seek approval from the Legislative Branch on matters of war, and reiterated that Congress must carefully consider the long-term ramifications of passing an overly broad AUMF. A video and transcript of the exchange can be found below. CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL’S REMARKS TRANSCRIPT:SENATOR RAND PAUL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the panel for coming today.Madison wrote that, ‘History demonstrates what the Constitution supposes, that the executive branch is most prone to war, and therefore, the Constitution, with studied care, vested that power in the legislature.’Madison also went on to further write that, ‘The separation of powers would be protected by pitting the ambitions of one branch against the ambitions of another.’There will be points of dispute. These points of dispute are important, and no one side will monolithically be able to declare victory.’But I can tell you, I’m not particularly happy with being lectured to by the administration about the Constitution. This is an administration who I believe has trampled the Constitution at many turns.This is an administration that seeks to legislate when that is not in their purview, whether it be immigration, whether it be health care or whether it now be a war that’s been going for eight months without congressional authorization.This administration is in direct defiance of what Senator Obama ran on and he was elected upon. He said, ‘No country should go to war without the authority of Congress unless under imminent attack.’This is a great debate. I signed the letter to Iran. But you know what? The message I was sending was to you.The message was to President Obama that we want you to obey the law. We — we want you to understand the separation of powers.If this agreement in any way modifies legislative sanctions, it will have to be passed by Congress. That’s why that I’ve supported Senator Corker’s legislation that says exactly this.However, I’ve told Senator Corker privately, I think that’s the law anyway, that this will have to be passed. You cannot undo legislation.So why do I …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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How Big Sugar Ushered In a New Era of Anti-Science Corporate PR

March 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Lindsay Abrams, Salon

The original spin doctors weren't working for Big Tobacco. They were representing sugar.

Where did Big Oil, Big Pharma and other industries learn to manipulate public policy to best serve their bottom line? The engaging new documentary Merchants of Doubt argues that they’re all following a battle plan borrowed from the tobacco industry.

As for the tobacco industry, they learned it from Big Sugar.

Researchers at UCSF analyzed 319 internal sugar industry documents from between 1959 and 1971 — a key time for public policy surrounding the problem of tooth decay. Their analysis, published in PLoS Medicine, reveals what they say appears to be the origin of the “Merchants of Doubt”-style PR strategy.

Sugar trade organizations had accepted that sugar damages teeth as early as 1950, the authors write, and they had also recognized that dentists’ favored method for preventing tooth decay was restricting sugar intake. The evidence was too strong to ignore, so the industry instead developed a plan to “deflect attention” from sugar-reduction policies: they funded costly, complicated (and ultimately failed) experiments aimed at reducing the harmful effects of sugar, and convinced a national research program to follow its lead.

The nature of those experiments shows just how committed the industry was to promoting anything but the obvious (telling people to cut down on sugar). They included research into a tooth-decay vaccine and the development of an enzyme that could be added to food to lessen sugar’s impact on teeth. “Why should people be denied pleasure?” asked Professor Bertram Cohen, who lead these projects, in an article from the time describing the research. ”It would obviously be far better to eliminate the harmful effects.” That article, the study’s authors note, never mentioned that Cohen’s work was supported by the sugar, chocolate and confectionary industries.

The National Institute of Dental Research (now the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research), meanwhile, was working on a way to eliminate tooth decay, establishing a committee to come up with research strategies that happened to consist of nearly all the same people as the sugar industry’s expert panel. NIDR ended up adopting …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What It's Like to Date As a Demisexual

March 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Molly Martinson, xojane

I grew up assuming I was normal. As I got older, I realized something wasn't quite right.

I grew up assuming that I was “normal.” I thought that other people were like me and that I was like them. As I got older, though, I realized that something just wasn't quite right. 

I felt different about crushes and relationships than people around me. I didn't understand other girls' obsessions with celebrities. I was grossed out when people would date just for the attention or experience. I got awkward stares when I admitted that I didn't have a crush on a single one of the boys I knew. 

Then one day I figured it out. I've been attracted to guys before, and I'm never attracted to other girls, but I'm not quite heterosexual either. I'm a demisexual.

You’ve probably never heard of demisexuality. Very few people have. What it means is that I don’t feel sexual attraction to someone unless I’ve first developed a deep emotional connection to them. That doesn’t mean I’ll become attracted to everyone I get that bond with, but it is a prerequisite.

Many people I’ve spoken to mistake this for being normal. They think I only mean I wouldn’t sleep with someone before I got to know them, which they themselves would not do. 

For one thing, tons of people have flings, so being more selective isn’t always the norm. For another, most people feel sexual attraction to others, regardless of whether or not they would rationally act on those feelings. I, on the other hand, just barely understand what it means to feel sexual attraction.

Demisexuality doesn’t have an official pride flag, but I designed this one as a suggestion.
Demisexuality doesn’t have an official pride flag, but I designed this one as a suggestion.

As you might assume, demisexuality has kind of stunted my ability to be in a relationship. While I’m open to casual dating in theory, it doesn’t really appeal to me. Since I don’t know the person, I feel no attraction to them …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Watch This Gun-Toting Open-Carry Activist Taunt Cops Outside a School—And Get Away With It

March 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

The man was not arrested, charged, or injured during the encounter.

A gun owner triggered a brief lockdown last week while demonstrating his open-carry rights outside a Michigan high school.

Police spotted the man, who they recognized from previous encounters, about 11:30am Wednesday near Lamphere High School in Madison Heights. Officers called administrators when the man approached school property, and they locked down the school for nearly an hour.

Police said they received “about a million calls” about the man, who lives near the school and was carrying a rifle and holstered pistol.

“We had a citizen exercise his right to open carry, and he chose to exercise that right near the high school,” said Officer Carey Spangler.

“We’ve dealt with this individual in the past,” Spangler added. “We know of him to exercise his right to open carry.”

Police did not identify the man, who was not arrested, charged, or injured in the encounter, which he recorded on video and posted online.

“While out on an open carry walk, I was followed by the Madison Heights police department,” said the man, who calls himself Nunya Beeswax online. “They followed me from a distance, which was troubling, because they could clearly see that no laws were being broken. After initially declining to speak with the police, I decided to approach them and ask why they were essentially stalking a law abiding citizen. I did not appreciate the fact that one of these trigger happy morons placed his hand on his pistol when he approached me.”

The man approaches officers and asks why they’re following him, and he tells police he won’t answer any of their questions.

He asks one of the officers to remove his hand from his holstered weapon and demands to know whether the officer will shoot him.

“I’m talking now,” the man says, interrupting one of the officers. “That shiny little badge he has on his chest doesn’t give him any more rights than I have. Actually, you all work for me and the taxpayers, right?”

“You come over here with your hand on your gun, that’s reason …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Is Bureaucracy Worse Than Ever?

March 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

Rules, queues and paperwork help make daily interactions predictable, anonymous and superficially egalitarian.

Last month, I became a customer of Time Warner Cable, New York’s favorite quasi-monopolistic provider of patchy broadband that’s worse than the internet in Bucharest. Given the firm’s reputation, I was genuinely surprised at how smoothly it all went, up to the point at which I’d entered my debit card details. (I know, I know; in hindsight it seems so obvious.) Then the trouble began. It took five visits from engineers, plus countless phone calls, to get things working; the job required a specific ladder, but the booking system seemed serially unable to dispatch a van equipped with one. Finally connected, I went online to cancel the stopgap internet service I’d been using from another company, only to find that online cancelation wasn’t allowed. And yet, how weird is this: when the day came for Time Warner to process my first month’s payment, everything went off without a hitch.

No part of this tale of bureaucratic tedium – nor all the stuff I’ve left out, because I don’t want your death from boredom weighing on my conscience – will surprise anyone living in the United States, the UK, most of Europe or much of the world today. Our lives are spent grappling with bureaucracy: filling in online forms; listening to recorded voices claiming that “your call is important to us”; lying to Apple about having read 56-page iTunes Terms of Service agreements; cursing the stupidity of HR departments, government agencies or university subcommittees.

But there’s something strange about this utterly familiar aspect of modern life, as the anthropologist David Graeber notes in his new book, The Utopia of Rules: it’s the opposite of how the free-market world’s meant to work. Capitalism is supposed to be “dynamic, free, and open”; even those of us who favor a big role …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Robert Reich: 3 Biggest Myths Blinding Us to Economic Truth

March 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

You need to watch this.

1. The “job creators” are CEOs, corporations and the rich, whose taxes must be low in order to induce them to create more jobs. Rubbish. The real job creators are the vast middle-class and the poor, whose spending induces businesses to create jobs. Which is why raising the minimum wage, extending overtime protection, enlarging the Earned Income Tax Credit, and reducing middle-class taxes are all necessary.

2. The critical choice is between the “free market” or “government.” Baloney. The free market doesn’t exist in nature. It’s created and enforced by government. And all the ongoing decisions about how it’s organized – what gets patent protection and for how long (the human genome?), who can declare bankruptcy (corporations? homeowners? student debtors?), what contracts are fraudulent (insider trading?) or coercive (predatory loans? mandatory arbitration?), and how much market power is excessive (Comcast and Time Warner?) – depend on government.

3. We should worry most about the size of government. Wrong. We should worry about who government is for. When big money from giant corporations and Wall Street inundate our politics, all decisions relating to #1 and #2 above become rigged against average working Americans. 

Please take a look at our video, and share. 

Related Stories

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Source: ALTERNET

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Why Liberty?

March 11, 2015 in Economics

Why Liberty is a series of short personal stories emphasizing the value of liberty. In the last year, Cato has captured the narratives from eleven remarkable individuals whose stories teach the importance of securing our rights. We’ve released seven of the eleven videos – featuring issues like free speech, gun ownership rights, and drug legalization – on YouTube, and will release the remaining four over the next several weeks. Share your story with Cato using the #WhyLiberty hashtag.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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The Iowa Agricultural Panderfest

March 11, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Political junkies have always been of two minds about the Iowa caucuses’ position as the first step on the road to the presidential nomination. On the one hand, Iowa is far less diverse, far more rural, and generally more insular than much of the country. It tells us little about a candidate’s broader appeal. On the other hand, its small media market and retail politics allow candidates without huge war chests to compete on a nearly equal footing. Whereas in bigger states, candidates with lots of money can flood the airwaves with advertising, in Iowa, candidates actually have to answer questions from voters and the media in person.

Iowa also provides one other valuable service. It lets us see just how far candidates will go in pandering to special interests. And this year, most of the potential Republican candidates are already providing a particularly craven spectacle.

Last week, nearly everyone thinking of running for the Republican nomination made a pilgrimage to the Iowa Agricultural Summit, where the putative candidates pledged their allegiance to agricultural subsidies generally and the Renewable Fuel Standard specifically.

Most of the GOP candidates told farmers they love the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The RFS is an EPA regulation mandating that gasoline sold in the United States contain a minimum amount of “renewable fuel” components, primarily ethanol. This year, transportation fuel sold in the U.S. must contain at least 15.21 billion gallons from such renewable sources. That figure is scheduled to rise to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Most gasoline sold today is a blend that is 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol, known as E10, to comply with these regulations. In order to meet the mandate in the future, the ethanol would have to be increased to 15 percent. The mandate is a windfall for Iowa corn farmers — roughly half of all Iowa corn production goes to ethanol, and farmers earn nearly $5 billion annually from the program — but a disaster for pretty much everyone else. The mandate drives up the cost of both gasoline and food. It adds about 13 cents per gallon to the cost of gas. And, according to the CBO, 10 to 15 percent of the rise in food prices since 2007 can be attributed to the RFS. It also reduces U.S. food exports, adding to both food costs and hunger worldwide.

At the same time, the RFS …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Appears on NBC's Today Show- March 11, 2015

March 11, 2015 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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As Free Speech Is So Often Punished, How Worried Are You?

March 11, 2015 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

I wonder what our founders would have thought of this:

“Last fall, FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) mailed warning letters to more than 300 public colleges and universities that maintain unconstitutional speech codes … explaining that their institution could be sued if it continued to ignore legal obligations under the First Amendment” (“Students Sue Dixie State U. Over ‘Free Speech Zone,’ Censorship of Bush, Obama, Che Flyers,” thefire.org, March 4).

I continue to be concerned with increasing the protection of free speech — not only in colleges and universities — because I don’t want subsequent generations to become fearful of using this fundamental right of all Americans.

FIRE is the only organization ceaselessly working to keep free speech alive on campuses, from which many of our future voters, legislators and teachers will emerge.

Currently, the group is at work on a lawsuit filed by students at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, which you may never have heard of.

“The lawsuit alleges that Dixie State refused to approve promotional flyers produced by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group that featured images negatively portraying Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.”

Why?

“Because school policy does not permit students to ‘disparage’ or ‘mock’ individuals.”

Greg Lukianoff, the president of FIRE, rails against “the university’s ridiculous policies, which go so far as to forbid any poster in a residence hall that students or administrators claim creates an ‘uncomfortable’ environment.”

This in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

But, thankfully, with the assistance of FIRE, unyieldingly patriotic students like William Jergins are fighting for free speech at Dixie State. He declares:

“A true education demands that students be able to hear ideas different from their own. That is why respecting free speech on campus is so important and why we are standing up to get rid of Dixie State’s speech codes.

“By maintaining these codes, the Dixie State administration limits the ideas we hear, the thoughts we consider — and our learning experiences suffer because of it.”

So does the quality of the rest of their citizenship.

Meanwhile, FIRE took “a closer look at the previous year’s incidents of college censorship to determine the nation’s 10 worst abusers of student and faculty free speech rights” (“FIRE Announces 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2014,” thefire.org, March 2).

Among these notorious defilers of the First Amendment are:

Brandeis University (already cited in …read more

Source: OP-EDS