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Democratic Congressman's Bizarre Bernie Sanders Smear

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) fired off a bizarre missive against Sanders.


It may be a sign Bernie Sanders's campaign has started to gain traction when endorsers of his opponent Hillary Clinton have started launching attacks.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who endorsed Hillary last August, appeared on Larry King's show and reiterated his support for the former Secretary before firing off a bizarre missive against Sanders, saying he doesnt know if he likes immigrants:

GUTIERREZ: We’ve got the socialist, uh I can’t remember his name. Bernie Sanders I don’t know if he likes immigrants because he doesn’t seem to talk about immigrants. But sooner or later, he’ll tell us. I hope he likes immigrants. I haven’t heard him say anything. He’s been kind of quiet and silent. So I hope that when he sees this program, he sees that there’s a lot of people waiting to hear from him.

Sanders's father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland and his mother was born in New York, also to Jewish immigrants. Most of his extended family beyond that were slain in the Holocaust. If for no reason other than his own personal experiences, it's very unlikely that Sanders dislikes immigrants. The experience of his own parents' journeys to America was important enough for him to talk about them in his launch address.

But the Senator has also been a champion of their rights in his legislative record. During his campaign for the presidency, he has spoken in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and ending detention quotas of undocumented immigrants. He vocally supported President Obama's immigration executive order and met with undocumented immigrant activists while traveling around the country last year – as Hillary Clinton refused to talk to them. He voted for 2013's immigration reform bill.

If Gutierrez hasn't heard Sanders talk about immigrants then perhaps he should start listening.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Historic Senate Vote Tells DEA to Butt Out of Medical Marijuana States

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, AlterNet

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted today to rein in the DEA.


Just last week, in a series of successful amendments to the Justice Department appropriations bill, the House sent a clear message to the DEA and DOJ to stop interfering in medical marijuana states. Today, a similar message came from the Senate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted two-to-one today in favor of an amendment from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that prohibits the Justice Department, including the DEA, from using federal funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

While the appropriations bill must still be approved by the Senate as a whole, both houses of Congress are now on record as telling the DEA to butt out of medical marijuana states. The passage of identical amendments in both houses is a good indicator that they will be included in the spending bill when it gets to President Obama's desk.  

While the House has passed similar amendments for the last two years, this is the first time it was offered in the Senate. It mirrors the provisions of the CARERS Act (HR 1538/S.683), introduced earlier this year, but because a ban in an appropriations bill expires at the end of the fiscal year, advocates are still calling for the CARERS Act to move.

The vote was an impressive 21-9, with the only Democrat voting against it being Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Republicans split right down the middle, with eight opposing and eight supporting.

Drug reform advocates were pleased.

“This is another resounding victory for medical marijuana patients, their families, and their care providers. Congress is making it clear that the Department of Justice and the DEA have no business interfering in state medical marijuana laws,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policy for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“The goal of this amendment is to provide deference to the states, making it strikingly similar to the operative provisions of the CARERS Act. Unfortunately, that bipartisan bill has languished for months in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Chairman Chuck Grassley has refused to hold hearings on it. The Senate spoke loudly …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Dark Saudi-Israeli Plot to Tip the Scales in Syria

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus

What does a Saudi-Turkish axis means for the already-troubled region?


A quiet meeting this past March in Saudi Arabia, and a recent anonymous leak from the Israeli military, set the stage for what may be a new and wider war in the Middle East.

Gathering in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, newly crowned Saudi King Salman, and the organizer of the get-together, the emir of Qatar. The meeting was an opportunity for Turkey and Saudi Arabia to bury a hatchet over Ankara’s support — which Riyadh’s opposes — to the Muslim Brotherhood, and to agree to cooperate in overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

Taking Aim at Assad

The pact prioritized the defeat of the Damascus regime over the threat posed by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and aims to checkmate Iranian influence in the region. However, the Turks and the Saudis are not quite on the same page when it comes to Iran: Turkey sees future business opportunities when the sanctions against Tehran end, while Riyadh sees Iran as nothing but a major regional rival.

The Turkish-Saudi axis means that Turkish weapons, bomb making supplies, and intelligence — accompanied by lots of Saudi money — are openly flowing to extremist groups like the al-Qaeda associated Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, both now united in the so-called “Army of Conquest.”

The new alliance has created a certain amount of friction with the United States, which would also like to overthrow Assad but for the time being is focused on attacking the Islamic State and on inking a nuclear agreement with Iran.

This could change, however, because the Obama administration is divided on how deeply it wants to get entangled in Syria. If Washington decides to supply anti-aircraft weapons to the Army of Conquest, it will mean the United States has thrown in its lot with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — and that the “war on terror” is taking a backseat to regime change in Syria.

Not that the Americans are …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Sam Brownback Gutted Kansas: Life Under Right-Wing Zealot

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Paul Rosenberg, Salon

Conservatives double-down on extremism as a state's economy continues to collapse.


WMDs in Iraq, death panels in Obamacare, widespread voter fraud in America, tax cuts that generate increased government revenue—these are all things that today’s soundbite conservative GOP base has fervently believed in which simply do not exist.

Belief in the first two have faded some with time, but in Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback, the second two are still going strong—even though Kansas is suffering a crippling budget deficit due to the simple fact that, whatever supply-side economics guru Art Laffer may claim, subtraction is not addition.

“Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” Brownback promised in 2012, when the tax cuts were first passed.

Brownback’s well-paid tax consultant, the legendary economist Laffer, promised Kansans that the cuts would pay for themselves in supercharged economic growth.  At the time, a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy showed that Laffer had things backward: over the previous decade, economic output per person had grown significantly faster in the nine states levying a “high rate” income tax than it had grown in the nine states with no income tax at all. Without the promised faster growth, there was simply no way that cutting taxes could bring in more revenue, they would only bring in mountains of debt, as Reagan had done nationally when he first took Laffer’s advice in 1981.

As Brownback’s tax-cutting fantasies predictable failed last year, there was a wave of hope that the state might change direction, by voting Brownback out. In March, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warned that “Kansas is a cautionary tale, not a model,” explaining that “As other states recover from the recent recession and turn toward the future, Kansas’ huge tax cuts have left that state’s schools and other public services stuck in the recession, and declining further — a serious threat to the state’s long-term economic vitality.

Meanwhile, promises of immediate economic improvement have utterly failed to materialize.” The damage was inescapable—in March, the State Supreme Court ruled, in Gannon …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Perverse Obsessions of Right-Wing Patriarchal Christians

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Valerie Tarico, AlterNet

The conservative Christian obsession with sex and procreation can be traced back to a single Iron Age gender script.


Stories of patriarchal Christian leaders groping, fondling or otherwise harassing or assaulting women and having clandestine sex with men seem to be a media staple of late. At the same time, conservative Christian leaders are fixated on lording it over women, queers and kids. Consider the following sample from spring 2015:  

  • The Vatican’s second-in-command pronounces that Ireland’s 62% endorsement of marriage equality via national referendum was a “defeat for humanity.” 
  • The Seattle Archdiocese agrees to pay $1.2 million to a woman abused for five years by a priest who was a known pedophile shuffled between parishes by the Church hierarchy. 
  • Catholic priest and blogger Father Dwight Longenecker godman-splains that transgender former Olympian, Caitlin Jenner, is a “man dressed up as a whore” who is “caught up in a huge publicity machine to sell himself and now to sell his sexual confusion.”
  • Devout U.S. presidential wannabes Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee warn the public that gay marriage proponents are a danger to Christianity, which is likely to be criminalized if the Supreme Court backs equality.  
  • Former U.S. Speaker of the House, Republican Dennis Hastert (also a celebrated alumnus of my alma mater, the Evangelical Wheaton College), is indicted for stealing $1.7 million from his securities firm to pay hush money to a former male high school student he coached in wrestling and sexually molested. 
  • The producers of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting stop counting dollars and start counting how many sisters Josh Duggar molested before becoming an anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-kids-rights advocate. (Duggar’s celebrity father had previously advocated the death penalty for incest.)
  • Conservative Christian politicians, bloggers, and religious leaders rush to defend Duggar who, as shown in a photo album at Wonkette.com has touched nearly every conservative presidential contender with “the same hands that touched his sister.”
  • Paraguay’s Catholic-dominated court denies a 10-year-old rape victim the right to terminate her forced pregnancy. 
  • Wisconsin governor Scott Walker calls forced vaginal ultrasound before abortion “a cool thing.”
  • Conservative Republicans kill funding for America’s most effective teen pregnancy prevention program, which provided IUDs to …read more

    Source: ALTERNET

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Senate Appropriations Committee Votes to Prevent DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws

June 11, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Amendment Expected to be Signed Into Law by Pres. Obama as Part of Spending Deal

Nationwide Bi-partisan Momentum for Drug Policy Reform Grows Stronger

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted today by 21 to 9 to approve an amendment offered by Senator Mikulski (D-MD) to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration. The amendment mirrors one that passed the House last week 242-186, and was sponsored by Rep Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep Farr (D-CA).

June 11, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Sean Toon, Who Called Cops on McKinney Pool Party Teens, Murdered Animals in His Youth

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The law-abiding citizen was a convicted felon when he was the age of the partygoers he was so concerned about.

Sean Toon, the McKinney, Texas man who called the cops on a bunch of bathing suit-clad teenagers at a pool party, has proven to be many things over the last few days: a hilarious source of Twitter jokes and memes, a symbol of wholly un-self-reflective white privilege, and most recently, a convicted felon who did time for torturing and abusing animals.

Ironically, Toon, who’s been parading around signs thanking McKinney police for attacking teens swimming in a community pool without permission, was up to far worse when he was a teenager. According to the Guardian, when Toon was 18, he and some friends went to a rival high school to abuse and murder the animals housed in the school’s agricultural center.

The Guardian quotes Dale Gardner, then a teacher in the agriscience and technology program of the school district, who spoke with the Dallas Morning News back in 1999, the year of the crime. “Cows and pigs were cut and bruised, apparently beaten with wooden boards. And baby turkeys were slain, their limbs torn apart. It was brutal. There’s no way to describe it. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Toon, who pleaded guilty to the horrific attack, was fined $300 and sentenced to 285 days in jail in 2000.

But Toon’s trouble with the law didn’t end there, apparently! The same year, he was charged with “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.” After some sort of plea deal, he was sentenced to 75 days in jail. 

What are the chances that a single kid at that party has a rap sheet demonstrating this kind of lawlessness? I’m guessing odds are fairly low.

Earlier this week, Toon became Twitter’s favorite target, not just for his ridiculous call to the cops, but for his defense of the police’s over-the-top actions once they arrived. A few examples of the resulting comedy gold, hashtagged #SeanToon911, are below. Here’s hoping Twitter gets wind of Toon’s history of breaking the law and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Reddit Actually Does Something About Harassment on its Site

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The famously hands-off “front page of the Internet” just removed five subreddits it says violate its new anti-harassment policy.

Reddit has long been a place on the Internet where “free speech” has essentially meant that pretty much anyone can say anything, regardless of whether or not that speech involves racist, homophobic, misogynist or otherwise super offensive stuff. Remember Violentacrez, the infamous, prolific (and beloved on the site) troll involved with subreddits that included “Jewmerica,” “N*ggerjailbait” and “Chokeabitch”? His problem was that he got outed, his anonymity revealed. But the subreddits he started were perfectly at home on a site where the motto might as well have been “anything goes—no matter how awful.”

But that stance seems to be slowly changing. On Wednesday, Reddit announced it was banning five subreddits and changing its policy on harassment. In a statement posted on the site, Reddit notes that its “goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform. We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment.”

As a result, five subreddits are being banned by the site: r/transf*gs, r/neof*g, r/hamplanethatred and r/shitn*ggerssay. (Fill in the vowels and the goals of most of these are pretty obvious.) The fifth—the most popular of the newly removed subreddits, with 5,000 subscribers—is r/fatpeoplehate, a place where the sort of people who actually need a special group to hate on fat people could gather and just be The Actual Worst together.  

Unsurprisingly, there’s been pushback from plenty of Reddit users, decrying censorship, and presumably, applying Godwin’s Law ad nauseum.

CEO Ellen Pao – a friggin’ woman – is taking heat from a few expected sources for presumably leading the change. In the meantime, it’s a wait-and-see game if the many Reddit members who say they’ll leave the site in protest will actually follow through. 

 

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Larry Wilmore Goes After Victim Blamers in McKinney Pool Party Case

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

As the segment makes clear, the only way to be seen as a black victim of police brutality to become a literal saint.

If there’s any guarantees about African Americans subject to police violence, it’s that there are people—a fraction of whom definitely work for Fox News—who will find a way to demonize the victim. Larry Wilmore dedicated time to the phenomenon as witnessed in the McKinney pool case, in a segment he kicked off in the voice of the conservative bandwagon: “All aboard the victim-blaming train. Woo! Woo! Next stop, ‘She Might’ve Deserved It!”

After a clip of Megan Kelly referring to the child assaulted in the clip now seen by millions as “no angel” (a moment that feels an awful lot like déjà vu), Wilmore turned to The Nightly Show’s Mike Yard for further discussion. His solution?

“I’ve decided to become a saint, Larry,” Yard calmly announced.

When Wilmore pointed out the measure sounded drastic, not to mention Yard isn’t Catholic, the comedian explained further: “No, but I am black. And the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time until a cop shoots me or whips my ass…By then, I’ll be the first victim of police brutality who was literally a saint.”

Asked what miracles he’d performed, Yard pshawed the question, stating, “I’ve got mad miracles. First of all, I’m a black man in my 40s and I haven’t been shot by the cops once.”

The rest of the skit involves hockey, references to black Jesus (“You know black Jesus is redundant, right?”), and being able to hail a Greyhound when a cab won’t stop.

Check out the sketch, below. 

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Here Little Lady, Let Me Tell You How Banking Works: Jamie Dimon Mansplains To Elizabeth Warren

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

When all else fails, patronize your enemy.

Jamie Dimon, the billionaire CEO of JP Morgan Chase and face of Wall Street bankers, doesn’t think Senator Elizabeth Warren “fully understands the global banking system” but he’s reportedly offered to meet with her and explain a few things.

Dimon, head of the world’s largest bank with assets of $2.6 trillion, told a group of bankers at a luncheon for The Executives’ Club of Chicago today, in what was described as a particularly political speech, that although he agrees with some of the concerns expressed by America’s most vocal critic of Wall Street, he just doesn’t think that Warren, a former Harvard Law bankruptcy expert, actually gets how the whole global banking thing works.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Dimon recalled a time when he met with Warren, the then head of oversight for the massive government bailout of banks known as TARP, to discuss credit cards. The former CEO of the Chicago-based Bank One, told the room full of Midwest business leaders that he met with the former Harvard bankruptcy professor after she was tapped to charter the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government agency tasked with providing oversight in the wake of the massive government bank bailout known as TARP, and claimed that Warren confessed to owning and loving his bank’s credit card at the time.

Warren herself recalls a more recent meeting in 2013. She describes in her book, A Fighting Chance, how Dimon shrugged off warnings that JP Morgan was out of compliance with new rules laid out by the Dodd-Frank law. According to Warren “he leaned back and slowly smiled. ‘So hit me with a fine. We can afford it.’”

Dimon’s dismissive attitude towards Warren and shady offer to meet with Warren again seems to be all he can muster against the vocal Wall Street critic who’s worked her way on to the Senate Banking Committee — a move that was quickly met with the threats halt campaign donations to the Democratic Party from the banking giant.

 

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Source: ALTERNET