You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 12.

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Sen. Rand Paul Introduces ‘Read the Bills’ Resolution

March 12, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today introduced S.Res. 100, a resolution to change Senate rules to provide sufficient time for legislation to be read before being considered by the U.S. Senate. The waiting period point of order-except during a time of urgent national security-would require all bills, amendments, and conference reports to be filed for one day for every 20 pages before it can be considered. Bill text can be found below.

‘I will continue to stand by my pledge to increase transparency and accessibility in the U.S. Senate,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘Too often in Congress, legislation is shoved through without hearings, amendments or debate. This bill would ensure that Congressional members are provided ample time to read all legislation before requiring a vote. If we are to answer to the American people, it is imperative we pay close attention to the legislation we pass.’


To provide sufficient time for legislation to be read.

Resolved, That

(a) it shall not be in order for the Senate to consider any bill, resolution, message, conference report, amendment between the Houses, amendment, treaty, or any other measure or matter until 1 session day has passed since introduction for every 20 pages included in the measure or matter in the usual form plus 1 session day for any number of remaining pages less than 20 in the usual form.

(b)(1) Any Senator may raise a point of order that consideration of any bill, resolution, message, conference report, amendment, treaty, or any other measure or matter is not in order under subsection (a). No motion to table the point of order shall be in order.

(2) Paragraph (1) may be waived or suspended only by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn. All motions to waive under this paragraph shall be debatable collectively for not to exceed 3 hours equally divided between the Senator raising the point for order and the Senator moving to waive the point of order or their designees. A motion to waive the point of order shall not be amendable.

(3) This resolution is enacted pursuant to the power granted to each House of Congress to determine the Rules of its Proceedings in clause 2 of section 5 of article I of the Constitution of the United States.

### …read more


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New Study: Homeopathy Not Effective for Treating Any Condition

March 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

Large study out of Australia debunks the entire field.

Homeopathy is not effective for treating any health condition, Australia’s top body for medical research has concluded, after undertaking an extensive review of existing studies.

Homeopaths believe that illness-causing substances can, in minute doses, treat people who are unwell. 

By diluting these substances in water or alcohol, homeopaths claim the resulting mixture retains a “memory” of the original substance that triggers a healing response in the body. 

These claims have been widely disproven by multiple studies, but the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has for the first time thoroughly reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy to come up with its position statement, released on Wednesday.

“Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective,” the report concluded.

“People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.”

An independent company also reviewed the studies and appraised the evidence to prevent bias.

Chair of the NHMRC Homeopathy Working Committee, Professor Paul Glasziou, said he hoped the findings would lead private health insurers to stop offering rebates on homeopathic treatments, and force pharmacists to reconsider stocking them.

“There will be a tail of people who won’t respond to this report, and who will say it’s all a conspiracy of the establishment,” Glasziou said.

“But we hope there will be a lot of reasonable people out there who will reconsider selling, using or subsiding these substances.”

While some studies reported homeopathy was effective, the quality of those studies was poor and suffered serious flaws in their design, and did not have enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy worked any better than a sugar pill, the report found.

In making its findings the NHMRC also analysed 57 systematic reviews, a high-quality type of study that assesses all existing, quality research on a particular topic and synthesises it to make a number of strong, overall findings.

Glasziou said …read more


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Denver Officer Fired After Video Shows Him Putting His Knee on Woman's Neck Until She Passes Out

March 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Earlier in the night, James Medina reportedly punched the same woman in the face.

A Denver police officer has been fired after a video appears to show him pushing his knee into a woman’s throat, causing her to briefly pass out. James Medina, a 16-year veteran of the force, is currently appealing the loss of his job.

According to a report by the Denver Post, the incident stems from a July 10, 2014, call to Denver police about a “sick and intoxicated” man. A group of officers, including Medina, as well as local firefighters, were dispatched to the scene. Police claim that their efforts to place the man with a detox facility were hampered by Seryina Trujillo and her boyfriend, who were also on the scene. 

A disciplinary report states that Trujillo was handcuffed and led to a squad car. While in transit, she spit into the face of Denver officer Cheryl Smith. She also kicked Medina in the head, who responded – again, according to the report – by punching her in the face.

Trujillo was charged with assault on a police officer, interference and resisting arrest. After being arrested, she was put in a holding cell at the station. The full video of the incident, which includes audio shows Medina instructing Trujillo to remove her belt and shoes. Trujillo removes her belt, but a scuffle ensues.

Over the course of the recording, which goes one for about a minute, Medina can be heard telling Medina not to bite him. At one point, while holding Trujillo down on a bench, Medina’s knee appears to press into her neck, at which point she appears to pass out. Medina pulls off her shoes, after which, Trujillo’s limp body slides to the floor.

According to the disciplinary report, which the  Denver Post quotes, Medina used “inappropriate force when he engaged in a physical struggle” with Trujillo. The department has also stated that the officer should have requested the aid of a female officer. What’s more, after the incident, Medina did not seek the help of any medical personnel, …read more


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John Quincy Adams – Faith and Politics

March 12, 2015 in History

March 12, 2015 9:20 a.m.

Early on the morning of June 13, 1825, as was his daily custom, 57-year-old President John Quincy Adams went swimming in the Potomac. Instead of swimming near the bank as he usually did, Adams and his servant Antoine Guista decided to row a small boat across the wide river and swim back. When they were halfway across the river, a fierce wind suddenly arose, and their boat filled with water, forcing them to jump overboard. Antoine, who was naked, easily swam to the other side. Adams, however, still wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pantaloons, gasped for breath and struggled to stay afloat as the shirt sleeves filled with water and hung like heavy weights on his arms. After many moments of terror, the exhausted president finally reached the shore. Guista returned to Washington and had trouble finding a vehicle to transport Adams to the White House. Almost five hours elapsed before the president made it back to his residence, leading some newspapers to spread a rumor that Adams had drowned. That night a fatigued, but grateful, president wrote in his diary: “By the mercy of God our lives were spared, and no injury befell our persons.”

The story of John Quincy Adams’s life is in many ways the story of America during the eventful years from the Revolution to the Mexican War. Born in 1767, Adams witnessed the course and triumphant conclusion of Americans’ struggle for independence. The eldest son of America’s “preeminent revolutionary couple,” John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy viewed the battle of Bunker Hill, followed the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and participated as a senator in the controversy over the Louisiana Purchase. As secretary of state, president, and a congressman, he wrestled with the moral and practical dilemmas involved in the nation’s treatment of its two principal minorities – Indians and blacks. The only major statesman birthed by the American founders, he was the American ambassador to Holland, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain and helped negotiate the Jay Treaty of 1795 (which led Britain to withdraw all its troops from American soil), the Treaty of Ghent (which ended the War of 1812), and the Transcontinental Treaty of 1819 (which gave Florida to the United States). In addition, he fought legal battles before the Supreme Court and championed human rights, serving his nation for more than sixty years …read more


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Two Ferguson Police Officers Shot During Protest Were Seriously Injured, Officials Say

March 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Jon Swaine, The Guardian

Ferguson police chief says the two officers – one shot in the face and the other in the shoulder – were targeted as they stood outside police HQ.

Two police officers have been shot in Ferguson, Missouri, as a small demonstration wound down in the city gripped by unrest since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old last year.

One officer from St Louis County and another from Webster Groves were struck soon after midnight on Wednesday as they stood outside the Ferguson police headquarters, St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said at a press conference early on Thursday morning.

“These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers,” said Belmar, who added that the officers sustained serious gunshot wounds. 

The Webster Groves officer, a 32-year-old who has worked in the department for five years, was shot in the face, according to Belmar. The St Louis County officer, who is 41 and a 17-year law-enforcement veteran, was shot in the shoulder, he said. 

Sergeant Brian Schellman, a spokesman for St Louis County police, told the Guardian that both officers were being treated in hospital. “No update yet on condition,” said Schellman. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported police sources saying both were expected to survive.

Belmar said the shots appeared to have been aimed at the police as they were fired “parallel with the ground” and did not appear to have ricocheted. “I would have to make an assumption that these shots were directed exactly at my police officers,” he said.

Several protesters at the scene said the shots appeared to have been fired from a hill behind a dwindling group of demonstrators who were celebrating the resignation of Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson and were gathered across from the police department on the other side of South Florissant Road. 

Tony Rice, a Ferguson resident and protester, said: “The shots came from up Tiffin Avenue” – an upwards-sloping street directly opposite the police department. DeRay Mckesson, a prominent leader of the Ferguson protest movement, agreed that the shots were fired …read more


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Venezuela's Obnoxious Regime Is Not a Security Threat

March 12, 2015 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

President Obama just issued an executive order branding Venezuela a national security threat and imposing sanctions against seven officials of Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.

Obama’s action continues an unfortunate U.S. foreign policy habit of promiscuously invoking the concept of national security. Too often, Washington purports to believe that if a foreign government is corrupt or treats its own citizens badly, it automatically menaces the American republic. That notion is not only absurd, it foments international instability and in some cases even entangles the United States in unnecessary conflicts.

The executive order directed against Venezuela is a textbook example of an overly broad definition of national security. The White House stressed that the order targeted officials whose actions undermined democratic processes or institutions, abused human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were guilty of corruption. White House spokesman Josh Earnest declared that the United States now had the tools to block the financial assets of Venezuelan officials “past and present” who dare “violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption.”

Just because a country is repugnant doesn’t make it America’s problem.”

There is little question that Venezuela’s government is corrupt and autocratic. My Cato Institute colleague Juan Carlos Hidalgo has ably documented the abuses committed by both Maduroand his predecessor and mentor Hugo Chávez.Venezuela today is an economic mess presided over by an increasingly insecure, undemocratic political elite.

But a misgoverned country, even a grotesquely misgoverned one, does not necessarily pose a credible threat to the security of the United States. Maduro may be an intolerant clown, but he has done little of substance to worry the global superpower. Indeed, his principal offense, even more than that of Chávez, has been to make rude or preposterous allegations against Washington.

In January 2015, Maduro charged that the United States was orchestrating the plunge in global oil prices to destroy regimes of oil producing countries that refused to do Washington’s bidding.Such an allegation may reflect a cynical desire to whip-up anti-U.S. feelings on the part of populations who don’t understand the role of global supply and demand in determining commodity prices, but the attempt is more laughable than threatening.

The same could be said of Chávez’s infamous September 2006 speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he explicitly compared George W. Bush to the devil, complete with the assertion that he …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Cranks, Trolls, and Useful Idiots

March 12, 2015 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

Following the Feb. 27 murder of liberal Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, a number of Central European websites were quick to provide an explanation. “Whoever gains control of the Russian opposition will be on the receiving end of all the finances and subsidies given to the Russian opposition by the West,” wrote an anonymous author on the Czech site Aeronet. Several other sites published translations of a text blaming the murder on a Western conspiracy aiming to discredit Vladimir Putin. The article was written by the Russian commentator and politician Nikolai Starikov, a vocal Putin supporter.

Most of the websites that published Starikov’s writings in Czech and Slovak have existed for less than a year. Throughout the conflict in eastern Ukraine, these sites have systematically regurgitated Russian propaganda, spreading lies, half-truths, and conspiracy theories, often directly translated from Russian sources. In an effort to understand who runs these sites and why — and potentially to uncover financial connections to the Russian government — several Central European journalists and civil society activists recently decided to investigate them in greater detail.

The Czech weekly Respekt published a feature article about the mysterious “news” site Aeronet (also known as AENews). Started in 2001 by aviation fans, the domain has changed ownership several times. Since the summer of 2014 it has regularly published articles accusing the new Ukrainian government of fascism and claiming that American and British mercenaries were fighting in eastern Ukraine. It also accused unspecified proponents of a conspiratorial New World Order of exploiting the spread to Ebola to their own nefarious ends.

Russia’s information warriors set their sights on Central Europe.”

The company that owns Aeronet’s domain is incorporated in the Netherlands. According to Ondrej Kundra, author of the Respektinvestigation, nobody from the company was at its address when he visited, nor did anyone in the building know anything about it. “The same situation is repeated in Bratislava, where the website’s IP address was registered,” he wrote. “Nobody is here; there is no office nor employees. Neither is it possible to reach anyone on either of the two phone numbers — one U.K.- and one U.S.-based — that are listed on the website.”

The editor of Aeronet signs his articles “Chief of the Carousel” or simply “VK” (an abbreviation of the Czech version of his pseudonym). A handful of contributors to the site do write under their real names, such as a certain Petr …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Is Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy Refusing to Talk About His Private Email Address?

March 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Hypocrisy reigns in demands that Clinton turn over her personal email.

Amid the press furor over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opting to use private email, and not a government email address, some are now raising important questions about if those who are investigating her – such as the chairmen of congressional committees who deal with sensitive information during the course of investigations – are themselves using private email.

Take, for example, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who succeeded Rep .Darrell Issa (R-CA) to be head of the House's Government Oversight committee. Chaffetz's business card lists a Gmail address, as shown here by ABC News:



But Chaffetz may not be alone in doing official business with private email. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who heads the House's Select Committee on Benghazi, is leading the charge in calling for investigations of Clinton's email.

Yet it's important to note that Gowdy maintains his own domain For example, one campaign contact email he used was While it's not unusual to maintain such a thing particularly for campaign work, it's not clear that Gowdy utilizes this email solely for political campaign work and not congressional tasks. AlterNet asked Gowdy's office through both a telephone inquiry followed up by an email communication to his press secretary about how he segregates work he conducts through his personal domain vs congressional work. We also inquired about where his personal email server is stored and how it is secured. We also attempted to contact Gowdy campaign manager George Ramsey, but he did not return our phone calls. In 48 hours, the deadline we set, we received no response.

We weren't the only ones this week to ask Gowdy about his personal email address and fail to receive a response. Correct The Record's David Brock sent an open letter with the same inquiry:

Dear Chairman Gowdy:

I noted with interest your public demand that Secretary Clinton turn over her personal email server, presumably so that the committee can access some 30,000 Clinton emails deemed to be strictly …read more


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WATCH: Jon Stewart Destroys 'Morning Joe' and Fox for Blaming Racism on Rap

March 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

“In Fox world, poverty is a choice, but being racist is a product of your environment.”

Daily Show host Jon Stewart railed about MSNBC‘s Morning Joe's absurd claim that rap music is to blame for white people being racist. “How f*cked up is that?” Stewart asked after a long segment on racism and the way it is covered on Fox, “Morning Joe,” and other conservative media outlets.

The latest flare-up of pernicious racism caught on video was Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members from the University of Oklahoma fraternity gleefully chanting a racist song laced with plenty of offensive slurs.

But this was not their fault, William Kristol absurdly argued on “Morning Joe.” It's rap music. “Popular culture is a cesspool,” Kristol said. How can you blame those nice white people for just repeating what they hear?

“Two things: first of all, the kids on that bus weren’t repeating a rap song that they had heard,” Stewart said. “They were gleefully performing one of their fraternity’s old, let’s call them anti-Negro spirituals, featuring a word that pre-dates rap. And probably folk. And thought. Black rappers did not introduce that word into the vernacular. And second of all, how come when conservatives talk about African-Americans, they say ‘These people need to take responsibility for themselves, pull up those pants, get a job.’ But when white people do something racist, they’re all, ‘You can’t blame them. How can those poor children know wrong from right, after being driven to madness by the irresistible power of the hippity-hoppity?’” 

Stewart then turned to the way Fox News and other conservatives treat racism as an “unending series of isolated events,” rather than acknowledge that it is pervasive and systemic. Even the thoroughly damning Department of Justice report on the racist practices of the Ferguson police report gets downplayed.





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Declining Oil Prices Will Not Lead to Iran's Surrender on the Nuclear Issue

March 12, 2015 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Global oil prices have plunged dramatically over the past six months, with the commodity now selling for under $50 per barrel on world markets. The United States has been more than an idle spectator regarding that development. Low-cost producers—especially Washington’s close ally, Saudi Arabia—can still operate profitably even at the current depressed prices, but higher-cost producers find their profit margins severely squeezed. Two such higher-cost producers are Russia and Iran, both geopolitical adversaries of the United States.

Contrary to conspiracy theories that have begun to circulate, there is little evidence that Washington and Riyadh orchestrated the price plunge to advance mutual foreign policy objectives. Global economic conditions, especially slowing growth rates in China and Europe, led to an oversupply of oil and the subsequent price correction. Nevertheless, the Obama administration is not unhappy about the economic discomfort that low oil prices are causing for Moscow and Tehran. U.S. officials hope that the mounting financial pressure will impel both countries to make concessions on key foreign policy issues. The decline in oil prices thus serves as a complement to the international economic sanctions that Washington and its allies have imposed to punish Russia and Iran.

Anti-Iranian hawks who indulge in such expectations are deluding themselves.”

U.S. leaders are likely to be disappointed regarding expectations of dramatic concessions from either country. It is wishful thinking to believe that Russia will ever relinquish its control of Crimea or tolerate Ukraine’s membership in NATO. And prospects regarding Tehran’s behavior are just marginally better. True, Iran has been increasingly willing to negotiate regarding its nuclear program, but that greater flexibility predates the decline in oil prices and seems primarily the result of a more moderate political leadership, especially President Hassan Rouhani, coming to power.

Throughout history, governments have been willing to watch their populations endure deprivation and even severe hardship if the strategic stakes were high enough. Tehran’s conduct over the past two decades confirms that gaining international acceptance of Iranian rights with respect to nuclear technology is a high priority for the clerical regime.

The combination of international sanctions and depressed oil prices may inflict even greater pain on Iran’s economy than it has so far, but that is still unlikely to change the government’s stance on the nuclear issue. Washington and the other Western powers need to be more realistic about what kind of agreement can be achieved. If the objective …read more

Source: OP-EDS