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

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Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Bikers

Canada: One third of American 8th graders think Canadians live in a dictatorship

It’s a looping belt of tyranny that swoops from the South Pacific to Europe and all the way across the Americas. It controls three of the world’s 12 largest economies and the entire global supply of some key resources. It is, in the eyes of the world’s most important, and perhaps only relevant, demographic, a new axis of autocracy and it isn’t centred in Pyongyang, Tehran or Harare but in Canberra, Paris and, yes, Ottawa.

That demographic, of course, is the American teen. And if new U.S. test results are any sign, that all important group doesn’t think highly of us, if it thinks of us at all.

In recent results from the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress — billed as the Nation’s Report Card — fully 33 per cent of American 8th graders said Canada, Australia and France are dictatorships of one kind or another.

Asked on a national standardized test what the current governments of the three countries have in common, 23 per cent of the 29,000 teens tested chose “they have leaders with absolute power” from the four options available. Another 10 per cent chose “they are controlled by the military” while 12 per cent picked “they discourage participation by citizens in public affairs.”



National GOP Poll shows Rubio in top spot, undeclared Walker in 2nd

17% – Rubio 04% – Fiorina
14% – Walker 03% – Christie
11% – Huckabee 02% – Santorum
10% – Bush 01% – Perry
09% – Carson 01% – Kasich
08% – Cruz 01% – Jindal
06% – Paul 01% – Graham


Walker Tells Republican Lawmakers His Lack of College Diploma Could Be Political Asset

In modern American politics, you don't hear many stories about college dropouts moving into the White House.

Scott Walker wants to change that. The Wisconsin governor never finished his degree at Marquette University, dropping out of the Milwaukee school during the spring of his senior year.

His lack of a degree was one of the questions that arose Tuesday during his meeting in Washington with dozens of Republican U.S. House members, according to lawmakers at the session.

Walker, who in recent days has become increasingly more affirmative about the likelihood of a Republican presidential bid, is also meeting privately with social conservatives in Washington. He's said he will make an announcement about his decision after the Wisconsin legislature completes a two-year budget plan, likely in late June.


We have reached the point where admitting failure is an asset.

Jeb Bush Says His Brother Was Misled Into War By Faulty Intelligence. That's NOT What Happened.

He and other Republican presidential contenders have a new and bogus spin on how the Iraq war began.
—By David Corn

Last week, Jeb Bush stepped in it. It took the all-but-announced Republican presidential candidate several attempts to answer the most obvious question: knowing what we know now, would you have launched the Iraq war? Yes, I would have, he initially declared, noting he would not dump on his brother for initiating the unpopular war. "So would almost everyone that was confronted with the intelligence they got," Bush said. In a subsequent and quickly-offered back-pedaling remark—on his way to saying he would have made "different decisions"—Bush emphasized that a main problem with the Bush-Cheney invasion was "mistakes as it related to faulty intelligence in the lead-up to the war." And as his Republican rivals jumped on Bush, they, too, blamed bad intelligence for causing the war. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), insisting that he would not have favored the war (if he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction), commented, "President Bush has said that he regrets that the intelligence was faulty." And former CEO Carly Fiorina noted, "The intelligence was clearly wrong. And so had we known that the intelligence was wrong, no, I would not have gone in."

But here's the truth Jeb Bush and the others are hiding or eliding: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Co. were not misled by lousy intelligence; they used lousy intelligence to mislead the public.

Throughout the run-up to the war, Bush, Cheney, and their lieutenants repeatedly stated assertions to justify the war that were not supported by the intel. They also hyped or mischaracterized existing intelligence to bolster their case for war. The book I wrote with Michael Isikoff, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, chronicles the elaborate Bush-Cheney campaign to misuse and misrepresent the intelligence. Certainly, there was some information within the intelligence community (which turned out to be wrong) indicating that Saddam Hussein was trying to revive programs to develop biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. As the Bush White House was selling the possibility of war, the intelligence agencies did quickly produce a National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002 that said Iraq had "continued its weapons of mass destruction program." But there was other intelligence and analysis—some of it mentioned in that intelligence estimate—casting plenty of doubt on this. In fact, on many of the key elements of the Bush administration's case for war, the intelligence was, at best, iffy. Yet in this post-9/11 period, Bush and Cheney frequently declared there was no uncertainty: Saddam was pursuing WMDs to threaten the United States, and, worse, he was in league with Al Qaeda.



Warren Blasts Obama On Trade Enforcement

On Monday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a 15-page report detailing over two decades of failed enforcement by the U.S. of labor and environmental standards included in past free trade agreements (FTAs).

The report, Broken Promises: Decades of Failure to Enforce Labor Standards in Free Trade Agreements, highlights that the U.S. failed to pursue enforcement actions to uphold the labor protections in trade agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and agreements with Colombia, Panama and Peru.

“Supporters of past trade agreements have said again and again that these deals would include strong protections for workers, but assurances without strong enforcement are just empty promises,” Senator Warren said. "The facts show that, despite all the promises, these trade deals were just another tool to tilt the playing field in further of multinational corporations and against working families.”

The report includes analysis of a series of reports by government auditors and other experts revealing that past Presidents from both parties have failed to resolve or prevent abuses in countries that the U.S. is in agreement with.

more, with link to report:


Chris Christie ‘Explains’ His Low Presidential Polling: People ‘Want Me To Stay’

Chris Christie probably gets the award for the Most Clever Way To Spin Polling for his “explanation” to Megyn Kelly as to why 65% of voters in his home state think he would not make a good president. But honesty? Not so much.

In her interview with Christie last night, Kelly cited a Quinnipiac poll that found by a 65-29% margin, New Jersey voters think Christie would not make a good president. “They know you the best. Why shouldn’t we trust them?” Kelly asked.

You have to wonder how Kelly avoided laughing out loud at Christie's answer.

CHRISTIE: They want me to stay. A lot of those people in that 65 percent want me to stay. And I’ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings: “Don’t leave to run for president because we want you to stay.”

Kelly did challenge Christie's response. “But they say you would not make a good president,” she said.

Christie came up with an even more laughable "explanation."

CHRISTIE: I think people hear the question they want to hear. The fact is that polls in New Jersey will go up and down as well.

In other words, Christie thinks his own constituents are too stupid to answer poll questions correctly. Maybe that’s because his overall approval is very low, too.

Read more at http://www.newshounds.us/chris_christie_explains_his_low_presidential_polling_people_want_me_to_stay_051915#rLjWU6iaByyFGmMu.99

Bernie Sanders is unleashing a plan to make prescription drugs cheaper

Generic drug prices have nearly quadrupled in the past five years — and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a plan to fix it.

On Monday, Sanders, who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination, rolled out a proposal that would place strict limits on how quickly pharmaceutical companies could hike generic drug prices. Specifically, drug manufacturers would have to pay a rebate back to Medicaid if their drug prices grew faster than inflation. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is introducing the same bill in the House.

Generic drugs are cheaper versions of drugs that have lost their patent. But in recent years, the prices for generic drugs have been rising quickly and inexplicably. One report from pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran found that consumers paid, on average, $13.14 for each prescription of the 50 most popular generics in 2010. By 2014, they paid $62.10 — a 373 percent increase.

Sanders has previously cited federal records at hearings, showing that the prices of more than 1,200 generic medications rose an average of 448 percent between July 2013 and July 2014.



How America Overdosed on Drug Courts


When Ellen Sousares learned that her 22-year-old son, Darren, had been arrested in 2014 for felony possession of heroin and diverted into drug court, she wasn’t upset or ashamed. She was overjoyed. Darren had been addicted to heroin for six years. At the time of his arrest, he was living on the street in Colorado, far from her home in California. He’d already overdosed seriously enough to require emergency care at least six times. He had repeatedly tried rehab, but he’d never stayed long enough to get his mental health properly evaluated. Finally, Ellen thought, he’d be forced to get the help he really needed.

Drug courts celebrated their 25th anniversary last year. Designed for defendants who have committed non-violent felonies such as drug dealing or burglary while addicted, they have been touted as a perfect balance of treatment and punishment, and as a way for the most corrigible offenders to avoid the harsh sentences mandated by drug-war laws. The idea is appealingly simple. If defendants complete a program of drug testing and mandatory treatment—often including short jail terms, known as flash incarcerations, in the case of serious rule violations—they can avoid lengthy mandatory prison terms. Those who fail to “graduate” from the program, in the self- improvement-geared parlance of drug courts, face the mandated sentence, or sometimes an even harsher one. Coercion, the theory goes, is the key to rehabilitation.

More than 2,800 drug courts now exist in the United States, serving approximately 120,000 defendants annually. They enjoy broad political popularity, with supporters ranging from William Bennett and Newt Gingrich on the right to Al Franken and the Clintons on the left. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both expanded funding for them. The press loves them too. Until very recently, it’s been hard to find a newspaper or a magazine that has taken a position on the issue other than hearty endorsement. There’s even a sense nationally that drug courts produce better results than voluntary treatment. In 2008, when voters in California were considering a proposition designed to use less punishment and more treatment in handling drug offenders, Governor Jerry Brown recommended voting against it because, he claimed, less-punitive sentencing would hurt drug courts. “We know that the hammer of incarceration is often what is needed,” he said, “to assist an addict to get off his dependency.”



UT Student Invents A Trombone That Shoots Frickin’ Flames Out Of It

It’s rare that you see a new thing, but here’s one: A trombone that shoots flames as it is being played.

The idea was hatched and developed by University of Texas at Austin student Valentin Guerin, an exchange student from France. He calls it the “pyro trombone,” according to Texas Exes. The invention isn’t just a novelty, either. Guerin is hoping his flaming instrument will help send the UT Trombone Choir to Spain for the 2015 International Trombone Festival.

The group is raising money on Kickstarter, and anyone who makes a tax-deductible donation will be treated to a concert just before the group heads off. Among the gifts donors will receive is even a private concert — complete with the pyro trombone — for just $2,500.

“Due to decreased funding to education, nationwide, student travel budget funds have been cut drastically or, in our case, eliminated,” the group explained. “Your donations will be used to pay for travel-related trombone choir expenses (airline tickets, local transportation while in Spain, hotel costs, meals, etc.). Even donations at the $10 level will help us immensely in achieving our goal of representing the UT at this prestigious event, and in sharing our music with the world.”

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