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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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Leaked Docs: How a Secret FreedomWorks Donor Sought a Return on Its "Investments"

—By Andy Kroll

For five years, FreedomWorks has proclaimed itself a leading tea party group fueling the conservative grassroots and fighting establishment Republicans. The organization touts its small-dollar donations from everyday activists, but it also has received substantial funding from corporate donors and one-percenters, most notably Richard Stephenson, a FreedomWorks board member who founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Documents obtained by Mother Jones—including emails, financial records, and fundraising pitches—show that CTCA, in addition to Stephenson, gave money to FreedomWorks, and that Stephenson's son, Shawn, a Switzerland-based businessman, had a central role in overseeing the Stephenson family's support of FreedomWorks. The goal, Shawn Stephenson noted in a September 2010 email, was "creating a tsunami of change directed at DC that is and will be historic." But the documents also reveal that the Stephensons and CTCA expected real returns for the money they pumped into FreedomWorks.

In numerous emails, CTCA officials said they anticipated their FreedomWorks donations would produce tangible benefits for the company. For example, they hoped that FreedomWorks would help CTCA hone its online marketing and outreach skills. (CTCA is a privately held chain of hospitals that treats advanced-stage cancer patients. It reaches new customers largely via TV commercials and digital advertising.) As Shawn Stephenson put it in 2010, "I know there will be benefits that all of CTCA will gain through the work that Freedomworks is pursuing."

A spokeswoman for CTCA declined to comment for this story. FreedomWorks and Shawn Stephenson did not respond to detailed requests for comment.

Richard Stephenson, who founded CTCA in 1988, is a longtime supporter of libertarian causes. Described by a former FreedomWorks employee as "hard core" and a "true believer," Stephenson served on the board of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a corporate-funded advocacy group co-founded by the Koch brothers that fought the Clinton administration's health care reform plan and other initiatives. In 2003, due to internal bickering, Citizens for a Sound Economy split in two. The Kochs broke off to form Americans for Prosperity, and Stephenson, former House majority leader Dick Armey, and the libertarian activist Matt Kibbe launched FreedomWorks.



Keith Olbermann is furious over the NFL's handling of Ray Rice case

By Michelle Jaworski

Last week, Keith Olbermann and several other journalists called out the NFL for leniency on suspending Ray Rice for two games for hitting his wife, but now that more details on how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell actually handled the case have come to light, he’s furious.

Olbermann’s comments, in a video that’s since gone viral, emphasized to the women watching that the sports world is not a safe or friendly place and that it’s rampant with sexism; he even called out himself for making sexist comments toward women at one point.

Now details have come out regarding the meeting Rice and his wife Janay had with Goodell and four other higher-ups with the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL, where she told them that the attack was a one-time event and that tough sanctions would only “ruin Rice’s image and career.”

In any other circumstance, Olbermann argued in his latest video, Goodell would’ve gotten fired or at the very least, removed from the case for allowing Rice and his wife to speak in the same room. And the NFL then applauded themselves for taking action.

more with video

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Toon- Media Circus

Why are conservatives afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has been the recipient of a seemingly bizarre political backlash — after the conservative magazine National Review penned a takedown cover story on the “Cosmos” host last week depicting him as a smug, intellectual bully.

The story struck many as odd given Tyson’s gentle, geeky presentation style. Comedian Bill Maher had Tyson on his HBO show over the weekend, trying to make sense of the backlash.

“You’re a scientist, and a black one, who’s smarter than are,” Maher quipped.

The line got laughs, but it’s worth remembering that Tyson served the George W. Bush administration as a member of the Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond in 2004. Conservatives have no problem harnessing Tyson’s intellect.

No, the danger Tyson brings to the political structure, as he gains an increasingly large foothold in the popular culture, is the threat of an informed populace.



Mike Luckovich Toon- Just Desserts

Large waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water that is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle of this century. Storms thus have the potential to create Arctic swell – huge waves that could add a new and unpredictable element to the region.

A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. The results were recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“As the Arctic is melting, it’s a pretty simple prediction that the additional open water should make waves,” said lead author Jim Thomson, an oceanographer with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.

His data show that winds in mid-September 2012 created waves of 5 meters (16 feet) high during the peak of the storm. The research also traces the sources of those big waves: high winds, which have always howled through the Arctic, combined with the new reality of open water in summer.


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