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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 08:39 AM
Number of posts: 45,433

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Breaking: Supreme Court Won't Revive Arizona's 20-Week Abortion Ban

Source: Associated Press

Jan. 13, 2014 9:42 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected Arizona's bid to put in place its ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The justices on Monday declined to reconsider a lower court ruling that the law violates a woman's constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb.

"Viability" of a fetus is generally considered to start at 24 weeks. Normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ban into law in April 2012. Nine other states have enacted similar bans starting at 20 weeks or even earlier.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/court-wont-revive-arizonas-20-week-abortion-ban

WNYC: More New Jersey Mayors Say They Think They Were Punished For Not Playing Along w/ Christie

@GregMitch: RT @politicalwire: More New Jersey mayors say they think they were punished for not playing along with Chris Christie


NJ Mayors: Was Christie Getting Revenge on Me, Too?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mayors in New Jersey say they're starting to consider foul play on behalf of the Christie administration in light of the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer says she had a face to face visit with Governor Christie in the Spring, when he asked her to endorse him for re-election. She told him she would be remaining neutral.

“He was quite disappointed, but I wouldn't say that he was angry. He was disappointed and said he would keep asking,” Zimmer said. "And I said, 'We can keep the conversation going but I don't expect to be changing my position.’ And I didn't.”

She had applied for a Hazard Mitigation Grant to protect Hoboken from flooding. During Sandy, 80 percent of the city was under water.

Zimmer says she asked the state for $100 million in grants. She got $300,000 — a fraction of 1 percent.

“It's a lot less and I was extremely disappointed,” Zimmer said. “And at the time I was angry because I felt like the focus was on the shore.”

- snip -

In Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop recently disclosed that the Christie administration cancelled several meetings — the day after he refused to endorse the Governor.

In Elizabeth, Chris Bollwage, who has been the mayor for 21 years, says his city has gotten payback from Christie after its state legislators opposed several pieces of the Governor's legislation.

“The Governor's retribution was to close down the Division of Motor vehicles here in the city of Elizabeth, which is the fourth largest city in the state of New Jersey,” Bollwage said.


Terry McAuliffe Bans Discrimination Against LGBT State Employees

Source: Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe bans discrimination against LGBT state employees

January 11, 2014

By Michael K. Lavers

RICHMOND, Va.—Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Saturday signed an executive order that bans discrimination against LGBT state employees.

“An open and welcoming state is critical to the 21st century economy, but it’s also imperative for justice and fairness,” said McAuliffe during his inaugural address he gave after officially taking office.

McAuliffe repeatedly promised during his campaign against then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that the first executive order he would sign as governor is a ban on anti-LGBT discrimination against state employees. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell did not issue such a mandate, but U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner as governor banned discrimination against state employees based on their sexual orientation.

Julian Walker of the Virginian-Pilot reported gender identity and expression for the first time was included in the anti-discrimination order.

Read more: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/01/11/terry-mcauliffe-bans-discrimination-lgbt-state-employees

Take that, Cuccinelli.

The 5 Most Damning Revelations In The New Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Documents


The 5 Most Damning Revelations In The New Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Documents


Christie’s Port Authority chairman knew about the closings.

Though Christie insisted that David Samson, his chairman of the Port Authority, was not involved in the closings, the documents show that he was aware of the new traffic pattern before testing ended on Sep. 13.
In fact, Samson even wrote an angry email to New York Port Authority Official Patrick Foye, a Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) appointee, accusing him of leaking information to the press. “He’s playing in traffic, made a big mistake,” he wrote:

Christie officials knew that the new traffic patterns were causing massive congestion and raising safety concerns. Still, they continued the “study.”

Christie appointees Bill Baroni — the Deputy Director of the Port Authority — and David Wildstein — director of interstate capital projects — were told on the very first day of the study (Monday) that the new traffic patterns were causing massive delays in Fort Lee and impeding public safety. Fort Lee Police Department Chief called the new traffic pattern a “miserable failure.” Still, the officials kept the bridge lanes closed for three additional days:

Officials were also told that the tests were “very expensive and labor intensive”:

A PowerPoint presentation prepared after three days of snarled traffic, titled “EARLY assessment of the benefits of the trial.” The conclusion: “T.B.D.” (To be determined):

- snip -

Port Authority officials blamed the traffic on the Mayor of Fort Lee.

- snip -

Christie appointees tried to squash press stories about the study.

After reporters from the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, the Star Ledger, and other outlets began sending press inquires about the lane closures in September and then again as the controversy heated up in November, Christie appointees repeatedly instructed the press team to keep quiet and avoid comment.

Baroni specifically told Foye to avoid any public discussion about the matter:


David Shuster: In doc dump, indication Christie met with head of Port Authority one week before Dep

@DavidShuster: In doc dump, indication Christie met with head of Port Authority one week before Dep Chief Staff asked PA to close lanes in Ft. Lee. ???

CNN Breaking News - CNN reviewing 907 pages of documents just released regarding the lane closures by top advisers to Gov. Chris Christie. Reply STOP 2 unsub

Not An Isolated Incident: Christie Has Been Repeatedly Accused Of Political Retribution


Not An Isolated Incident: Christie Has Been Repeatedly Accused Of Political Retribution

By Adam Peck and Josh Israelon January 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm

At a morning press conference on Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he had fired Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff and top aide in his administration, for her role in the growing scandal involving the manufactured delays on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution and asked another aide not to seek a top position within the state Republican party.

He denied having advance knowledge about the lane closures or the involvement of his own staff. “I was blindsided yesterday morning,” he said. “I apologize to the people of Fort Lee, I apologize members of the state legislature.” Christie also faced questions about his abrasive leadership style that some have described as bullying, and insisted that those characterizations are untrue.

- snip -

But while Christie claimed that this was “not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years” and denied being a bully, accusations of political retribution have long surrounded the governor. For instance, former Gov. Richard Codey (D) accused the Christie administration of “sending a message” by denying him state trooper protection after he publicly disagreed with Christie. The same day, a Codey cousin was fired from his position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former Codey aide was removed from the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs.

After then State Sen. Sean Kean (R) told a reporter that Christie erred in not calling for a state of emergency sooner, during a 2010 blizzard, Christie’s staff banned Kean from attending the next news conference Christie held in Kean’s home district. A Christie aide told the Star-Ledger that Kean “got what he deserved.” Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal saw his state funding slashed after backing a re-districting map more favorable to Democrats and last year, confirmation of a judicial candidate recommended by State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R) suddenly stalled after the legislator voted against Christie’s public medical education system reorganization.


CNN/ORC Poll: In Major Turnaround from Past, Majority of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana

Source: CNN

CNN Breaking News - CNN/ORC Poll: In a major turnaround from past decades, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

CNN Poll: Support for legal marijuana soaring

Posted at 8:00 pm by: CNN Political Unit

Washington (CNN) — In a major turnaround from past decades, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicated that the number of people who say smoking pot is morally wrong has plunged.

Fifty-five percent of those questioned nationally said marijuana should be made legal, with 44% disagreeing.

The CNN/ORC findings are similar to a Gallup poll conducted in October.

According to the CNN poll and numbers from General Social Survey polling, support for legalizing marijuana has steadily soared over the past quarter century — from 16% in 1987 to 26% in 1996, 34% in 2002, and 43% two years ago.

Read more: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/06/cnn-poll-support-for-legal-marijuana-soaring

Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as New Fed Reserve Chief; 1st Woman to Hold Post

Source: NBC News / Reuters

@BreakingNews: Senate confirms Janet Yellen as new chief of Federal Reserve; 1st woman to hold the post - @ReutersPolitics, @CNBC

Yellen gets final stamp of approval to head U.S. Fed

WASHINGTON | Mon Jan 6, 2014 6:28pm EST

By Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Janet Yellen, a key force behind the Federal Reserve's unprecedented and controversial efforts to boost the U.S. economy, was confirmed by the Senate on Monday to lead the central bank just as it begins to unwind that stimulus.

When she succeeds Ben Bernanke, whose second four-year term as Fed chairman expires on January 31, Yellen will become the first woman to run the Fed in its 100-year history and just one of a handful of women heading central banks globally. She is currently the Fed's vice chair.

The vote to approve her was 56-26. Yellen won resounding support from Democrats, but many Republicans voted no.

The Fed cut overnight interest rates to near zero in late 2008 and has quadrupled its balance sheet to more than $4 trillion through a series of massive bond purchase programs meant to push down longer-term borrowing costs.

Yellen, 67, spent years defending those efforts, arguing both as Bernanke's deputy and before that as head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank that they would reduce borrowing costs and spur hiring and economic growth.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBREA0506C20140106

Former Obama Official Agrees With Call For Snowden Clemency

Source: The Hill

January 02, 2014, 10:18 am

Former Obama Official Agrees with Call for Snowden Clemency

By Justin Sink

A former top official in President Obama’s State Department tweeted Thursday that she believed Edward Snowden, the intelligence contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s top-secret surveillance programs, should be offered clemency.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former State Department director of policy planning, said she agreed with an editorial in The New York Times that argued Snowden was “clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.”

“Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight,” the editorial read. “He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”

In her role at the State Department, Slaughter oversaw the Policy Planning Staff, which serves as an internal think tank offering independent policy analysis to the secretary of State. Slaughter, who served under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was the first woman to hold the position.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/194249-former-obama-official-agrees-with-call-for-snowden-clemency

Judge Rules Ex-ALE Director Improperly Fired Because He Was Democrat (North Carolina)

Source: News & Observer (Raleigh)

Under the Dome Blog
Judge rules ex-ALE director improperly fired because he was a Democrat

Posted by Craig Jarvis on December 31, 2013 Updated 8 hours ago

RALEIGH — The McCrory administration was out to get the former director of the state’s alcohol enforcement agency, who had taken a demotion so he could avoid being fired, because he was a prominent Democrat, a judge found Tuesday.

The state improperly fired former Alcohol Law Enforcement Director John Ledford without following its own policy because of his party affiliation, Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. ruled. The judge ordered Ledford re-instated as an ALE agent, given approximately $44,000 in back pay, and reimbursed $50,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Ledford “was a marked man, politically, following the 2012 election for governor,” Morrison wrote in his ruling.

The judge said he didn’t find credible the state Department of Public Safety’s contention that it began reviewing Ledford’s job demotion and transfer only after two ALE agents filed grievances because the job he took hadn’t been posted. Instead, Morrison wrote, evidence at a hearing showed the governor’s transition team was unhappy with Ledford’s maneuver from the beginning, and that administration officials took an interest in him until he was fired in April.

Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/12/31/3497526/judge-rules-ex-ale-director-improperly.html
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