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Environmental Scientist

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Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- This Merger Bites

Why The Senate STILL Isn’t Able To Get Anything Done Even After The ‘Nuclear Option’


It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
In 2013, the Senate adopted two of the most significant changes to its rules in nearly 40 years. The first significantly reduced the amount of time senators in the minority can delay a confirmation vote before it can move forward. The second effectively reduced the amount of votes required to confirm nearly all presidential nominees from 60 to 51 votes. Senators in the minority now have fewer opportunities to frustrate Senate confirmations than at any point in the Senate’s recent history.
At yet judicial confirmations remain at a standstill. Just one judge has been confirmed so far in 2014, and this judge was a holdover from the November 2013 fight that led to Democrats invoking the so-called “nuclear option.” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) began the process necessary to confirm four judges on Wednesday night, but this process will still take days to complete and will only confirm a small fraction of the 32 judicial nominees awaiting votes. Even after the transformative changes last year brought to the Senate’s rules, the Senate still isn’t working. Routine confirmations are not moving forward.

Franz Kafka’s Senate

The key to understanding why is to first understand how the Senate’s rules create roadblocks to progress even without requiring a supermajority to get anything done. Although Senate Democrats reduced the number of votes required to confirm a judge last November, they didn’t actually eliminate the filibuster. Absent unanimous consent from every single senator, confirming a judicial nominee still requires two votes. First, a majority of the Senate must vote to invoke “cloture” on the nominee — that’s the process that used to require 60 votes but now only requires 51. After this cloture vote succeeds, a fairly small number of senators can force hours of delay before an actual confirmation vote can be held. For relatively low-ranking trial judges, there’s only two hours of delay between cloture and a final vote. But for the more powerful court of appeals judges, up to 30 hours of time can be wasted before the final confirmation vote takes place. (Moreover, the rule that reduces the confirmation time for trial judges sunsets in January — meaning that even the lowest ranking judges could also require 30 hours to confirm next year).

And that’s just two of the hoops Senate Democrats have to jump through in order to confirm a judge. Before a cloture vote can take place, sixteen senators need to sign a “cloture petition,” present that petition on the floor, and then wait more than a day for the petition to “ripen.” If the Senate is currently debating a piece of legislation, it is not allowed to shift gears to focus on a nomination unless it agrees to shift into something known as “executive session.” And, as an aide to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tells ThinkProgress, Republicans started insisting that the full Senate hold a vote every time it switches in and out of executive session.



Monday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest








Monday Toon Roundup 2: Climate and Weather

Monday Toon Roundup 1: Merger

Death, violence at World Cup sites

Qatar World Cup: 400 Nepalese die on nation's building sites since bid won

Calls grow for Fifa to take decisive action as human-rights group prepares to release report on mounting death toll

More than 400 Nepalese migrant workers have died on Qatar's building sites as the Gulf state prepares to host the World Cup in 2022, a report will reveal this week.

The grim statistic comes from the Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, a respected human rights organisation which compiles lists of the dead using official sources in Doha. It will pile new pressure on the Qatari authorities – and on football's world governing body, Fifa – to curb a mounting death toll that some are warning could hit 4,000 by the time the 2022 finals take place.



Brazil's World Cup courts disaster as delays, protests and deaths mount
An attack on the president's office was just the latest alarming episode in the runup to June's tournament

Another week, another storm of teargas and rubber bullets at a World Cup host city in Brazil. This time, the clashes were in the capital, Brasília, where 15,000 protesters from the Landless Workers Movement marched from the Mané Garrincha football stadium to the Palácio do Planalto state office of the president, Dilma Rousseff.

Riot police using batons and teargas fought off several attempts to invade the building. The demonstrators threw stones and tore down railings which they used as weapons. In the fierce fighting, 12 protesters and 30 police officers were injured.

Rousseff was not in her office at the time, but this latest explosion of unrest is yet another headache for the president in what is supposed to be one of the most triumphant, feelgood years in the nation's history.



US drug policy fuels push for legal pot worldwide

In a former colonial mansion in Jamaica, politicians huddle to discuss trying to ease marijuana laws in the land of the late reggae musician and cannabis evangelist Bob Marley. In Morocco, one of the world's top producers of the concentrated pot known as hashish, two leading political parties want to legalize its cultivation, at least for medical and industrial use.

And in Mexico City, the vast metropolis of a country ravaged by horrific cartel bloodshed, lawmakers have proposed a brand new plan to let stores sell the drug.

From the Americas to Europe to North Africa and beyond, the marijuana legalization movement is gaining unprecedented traction — a nod to successful efforts in Colorado, Washington state and the small South American nation of Uruguay, which in December became the first country to approve nationwide pot legalization.

Leaders long weary of the drug war's violence and futility have been emboldened by changes in U.S. policy, even in the face of opposition from their own conservative populations. Some are eager to try an approach that focuses on public health instead of prohibition, and some see a potentially lucrative industry in cannabis regulation.



11 arrested for serving human meat at Nigerian hotel restaurant


Ever wondered what's really in that burger?

In one Nigerian restaurant, cops have discovered that it was humans on the menu.

The grim discovery was made after police officers in Nigeria found two human heads wrapped in cellophane at a hotel restaurant. They had raided the hotel in Anambra in southeastern Nigeria after receiving a tip-off.

The hotel owner and 10 others have been arrested, reported the Osun Defender.

Police also recovered two AK-47 rifles, 40 rounds of live ammunition and cellphones from the unnamed hotel.

"I went to the hotel early this year, after eating, I was told that a lump of meat was being sold at N700 ($4)," one local pastor, who was one of those who tipped off police, told the Osun Defender website. "I was surprised. So, I did not know it was human meat that I ate at such an expensive price."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/nigerian-hotel-serves-human-meat-report-article-1.1616311#ixzz2tWfTrwho

Ohio State Senator (R-of course) faces 69 felony counts in church scandal

A powerful state lawmaker from Mason, a secretive Linwood church, its pastor and her business face dozens felony charges, potentially decades of jail time and the possible forfeiture of a “castle” owned by the church.

State Rep. Peter Beck, R-Mason, now faces a total of 69 felony counts and is under pressure to resign his General Assembly seat. A Hamilton County indictment alleges Beck helped bilk investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars as chief financial officer of an insolvent West Chester software startup owned by the late Cincinnati money manager Thomas M. Lysaght. Beck also is accused of taking some of the money intended for the startup, called Christopher Technologies, and diverting it to his campaign fund.

Ark by the River Fellowship Ministry, a secretive Linwood church investigated by The Enquirer in September, also received much of the money from the fraud, according to the indictment issued Thursday. So the church – a “cult,” according to the felony indictment – and Pastor Janet Combs, who is Lysaght’s widow, also face felony charges for corruption, money laundering and receiving stolen property.

A Mount Lookout mansion called “Crusade Castle,” owned by the church for Combs’ use, is eligible for forfeiture under the charges.



Kelly English Fights Against Homophobic TN Senate Bill

by Hillary Dixler


A Memphis, TN chef has taken a public stand against a Senator who proposed a homophobic piece of legislation, and he's gotten some big results. Beloved local chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and its hotly anticipated follow-up The Second Line was so outraged by Senator Brian Kelsey's proposed bill to allow people to refuse good and services to same-sex couples on religious grounds that he took his grievances to Facebook on Wednesday saying: "The offer is on the table: I will host a political fundraiser for this guy's opponent in the next election. What a piece of garbage." The bill has been referred to as the "Turn Away the Gays" bill.

WMC-TV reports that between the several responses English received and a new petition to block the bill, "Kelsey's name disappeared from the bill" by yesterday morning. The bill is now backed by a different Senator, and in the video below, English sticks to his guns: "The world is going in the right direction, and you can either get on board with it and try to steer it where you want it to go or you can fight it and look like a fool."

video at link

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