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

Journal Archives

Not the Onion: Religious Groups Worried They’ll Be Branded As Bigots After Same-Sex Marriage Case

WASHINGTON — Some of the nation’s largest religious groups are worried that their opposition to same-sex marriage will make them outcasts in American society, and they told the U.S. Supreme Court they are being “slandered” as bigots as justices prepare to hear arguments in a landmark case.

“Laws reserving marriage for the union of a man and a woman were the universal rule in this country until a decade ago,” says a brief filed by Southern Baptists, evangelicals, Mormons and others. “They are not tokens of ignorance and bigotry now.”

Catholic bishops and a national coalition of black pastors have also weighed in about their opposition to same-sex marriage as have faith-based groups like Concerned Women for America. Jewish groups and some smaller Christian denominations have expressed support for same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on April 28 in cases challenging state bans on same-sex marriage as violations of the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. A decision is expected before July.


Poor Bigots. If the Shoe fits...

Mike Luckovich Toon- Suicide Note

Obama: Elizabeth Warren 'Wrong' in Opposing Trade Deal

President Barack Obama says Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and some other Democrats are "wrong" in opposing his bid to secure a free trade agreement with Asia-Pacific nations.

Obama says he would not be pursuing the trade deal if he didn't think it were good for middle class Americans.

The president is seeking "fast track" authority to advance trade deals being negotiated with numerous nations. The authority lets Congress reject or endorse, but not amend, proposed trade deals backed by the president.

The U.S. is negotiating with 11 other nations over a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that aims to create a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region.


Liberal Democrats pressure Clinton to advocate ‘debt-free college’

Liberal leaders are pressuring Hillary Rodham Clinton advocate a national plan for "debt-free college" in her presidential campaign, part of a broader effort to convince the Democratic front-runner to embrace pillars of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's progressive agenda.

The push comes as prominent Democratic senators and House members plan to introduce resolutions calling for the elimination of student debt at public colleges and universities on Tuesday, while progressive activists have scheduled events at 10 college campuses -- all in a coordinated push to promote debt-free college as a major issue in the 2016 presidential race.

Although Clinton is not expected to unveil a detailed policy agenda until later this spring or summer, she mentioned rising student loan debt as a focus of her campaign during her visit to Iowa last week. "There's something wrong when students and their families have to go deeply into debt to be able to get the education and skills they need in order to make the best of their own lives," Clinton said at a Kirkwood Community College in Monticello.

The debt-free college effort is being coordinated by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which says it represents "the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party" and has been trying to pull Clinton to the left on a variety of economic and other issues.


Dead deer on the side of the road? Walker doesn't want DNR paying for disposal

Spot a dead deer on the side of the road? Gov. Scott Walker doesn't want the state Department of Natural Resources paying to clean it up.

Walker's budget would delete $700,000 in funding a year for DNR to pay for disposal of deer carcasses along Wisconsin's roadways.

Instead, responsibility for paying to cart off the dead deer would fall to whatever other government agency is in charge of the road. Or they may be left uncollected.

"Dead and decaying deer on the roadside are unsightly and can dampen Wisconsin's reputation as a tourist destination," the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau cautioned members of the Legislature's budget committee in a memo describing the proposal.


America: Too fat to fight

By Carol Costello

Soon, America will be too fat to fight.

Forget about rampant diabetes, heart attacks and joint problems -- the scariest consequence arising out of our losing battle with the bulge is the safety of our country.

In about five years, so many young Americans will be grossly overweight that the military will be unable to recruit enough qualified soldiers. That alarming forecast comes from Maj, Gen. Allen Batschelet, who is in charge of U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

Obesity, he told me, "is becoming a national security issue."

I was so taken aback by Batschelet's statement that I felt the need to press him. Come on! Obesity? A national security crisis? The General didn't blink. "In my view, yes."


Six U.S. senators call for rejection of Comcast-TWC merger

Six U.S. senators on Tuesday asked the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department to reject the proposed $45 billion merger of the country's largest cable providers, Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc .

The call came from Democratic Senators Al Franken, Edward Markey, Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal, alongside Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, in letters to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

"Should the transaction survive the FCC's and DOJ's reviews, we believe that Comcast-TWC's unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans," they wrote in a rare direct call for a rejection by multiple lawmakers.

The company on Tuesday pushed back against the senators' concerns. Spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice in a statement said the benefits of the deal were "demonstrated and real," saying they included faster Internet speeds and better video services for more consumers and better connectivity for low-income Americans.



DEA chief Michele Leonhart expected to resign

Source: CBS News

Michele Leonhart, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is expected to resign soon, a senior administration official tells CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante.

Leonhart, who was confirmed to her position in December 2010 but has served in an acting capacity since November 2007, has presided over an agency that has been plagued by scandal in recent years. Just last month, a damning report from the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General revealed that several DEA agents had engaged in "sex parties" with prostitutes paid for by Colombian drug cartels.

The agency also dragged its feet and withheld or redacted information during the investigation, the report said, so investigators do not know the full extent of the sexual misconduct. The local DEA leaders failed to report allegations of their agents patronizing prostitutes and frequenting a brothel. At least one of them was alleged to have solicited and engaged in sexual relations with prostitutes.

The report also says that a foreign officer claims to have provided protection for the agents' weapons and property during the parties, which occurred in government-leased quarters, and could have led to a security breach involving the agents' equipment.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dea-chief-michele-leonhart-expected-to-resign/

In New York, 88,000 people have applied for 55 affordable apartments in a single building

You may recall the infamous "poor door" development in New York — a luxury high-rise condo in Manhattan designed to include 55 affordable units that will be accessible from a separate entrance. The developer, Extell, agreed to include the below market-rate apartments in exchange for permission from the city to construct a larger building on the site than the zoning code would normally allow. Affordable housing advocates, the mayor and the media, though, cried foul when they realized that Extell intended to separate the rich from the poor.

This week, the New York Times reports a much more shocking revelation about the building: 88,000 people have put in applications for those 55 units. The first takeaway — and one not lost on the building's developer — is that the media cared a whole lot more about the "poor door" than the people who might actually walk through it. The more important point, though, is that these odds say something tremendously depressing about the pent-up demand for affordable housing in New York (and, by extension, similarly high-cost cities like San Francisco and Washington).

In this case, the units we're talking about in a prime location in Manhattan would go to households making between $30,240 and $50,340 (a nonprofit housing group will weed out the potential applicants who don't really qualify). Rent would cost them from $1,082 for a two-bedroom to $833 for a studio. Those 88,000 applicants enter a lottery where the many, many losers can look forward to trying again in the next one.



South Dakota’s new ad campaign: At least we’re not Mars

By Niraj Chokshi

“Why die on Mars, when you can live in South Dakota?”

That’s the question at the heart of a new ad campaign in which the state positions itself as a better alternative to a barren, lifeless rock.

The campaign — from the governor’s Office of Economic Development and first reported on by South Dakota’s Argus Leader, which ran a long story late last week about the tongue-in-cheek effort — is an attempt to shake the perception outsiders have of South Dakota as merely a tourist destination. What better way to disabuse the public of that view than contrasting the state with the hottest tourist destination around?

The campaign represents a shift from old selling points that failed to resonate, such as the lack of an income tax, in an attempt to jump on what’s current.
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