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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Amherst. MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 15,274

Journal Archives

Sweet Cakes final order: Gresham bakery must pay $135,000 for denying service to same-sex couple

Sweet Cakes final order: Gresham bakery must pay $135,000 for denying service to same-sex couple

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian on Thursday ordered the owners of a former Gresham bakery to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake.

Avakian's ruling upheld a preliminary finding earlier this year that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa had discriminated against the women on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Bakery owners Melissa and Aaron Klein cited their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage in denying service. The case ignited a long-running skirmish in the nation's culture wars, pitting civil rights advocates against religious freedom proponents who argued business owners should have the right to refuse services for gay and lesbian weddings.

Avakian's final order makes clear that serving potential customers equally trumps the Kleins' religious beliefs. Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a news release.


How the South Skews America

We’d be less violent, more mobile and in general more normal if not for Dixie.


July 03, 2015

Every year the Fourth of July is marked by ringing affirmations of American exceptionalism. We are a special nation, uniquely founded on high ideals like freedom and equality. In practice, however, much of what sets the United States apart from other countries today is actually Southern exceptionalism. The United States would be much less exceptional in general, and in particular more like other English-speaking democracies such as Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were it not for the effects on U.S. politics and culture of the American South.

I don’t mean this in a good way. A lot of the traits that make the United States exceptional these days are undesirable, like higher violence and less social mobility. Many of these differences can be attributed largely to the South.

All English-speaking democracies share certain characteristics in common. Compared to continental European and East Asian democracies, the Anglophone nations tend to be more market-oriented and less statist, with somewhat lower levels of social spending and weaker bureaucracies. We might even speak of “Anglosphere exceptionalism.”

But even by the standards of the English-speaking world, the U.S. appears as an extreme outlier, in areas ranging from religiosity to violence to anti-government attitudes. As we learned after the slaughter last month in Charleston, S.C., some deluded Southerners still pine for secession from the Union. Yet no doubt there are also more than a few liberal Northerners who would be happy to see them go.

Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand—more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy. And it would not be as centralized as France or as social democratic as Sweden.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/how-the-south-skews-america-119725.html#ixzz3ewXaoAYs

Bernie Sanders out-greens Hillary Clinton: Will she be able to hold her own in a climate hawk runoff

Bernie Sanders out-greens Hillary Clinton: Will she be able to hold her own in a climate hawk runoff?

How much greener than Clinton is Sanders? And does it matter?


Now that President Obama has established that the executive branch can and should take a strong stance on climate change, it’s safe to say emissions reductions and the like are key issues for the Democratic candidates vying to be his successor. (In the Republican primaries, calling climate change a hoax or just ignoring the problem completely continues, somehow, to be acceptable.) And as Bernie Sanders gains early momentum for his decidedly left-of-center campaign, a big question is whether Hillary Clinton’s climate platform can compete.

As far as most issues are concerned, there’s a bit of an “anything you can do, I can do better” dynamic between the Democratic frontrunner and the democratic socialist nipping at her heels. Both, to be sure, can boast of their impressive environmental records — but while Clinton has a respectable 82 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, Sanders’ is 95 percent, and the super PAC Climate Hawks Vote named him the 113th Congress’s top climate leader. As the primaries heat up, the differences between them just might illustrate the vast gulf between someone who hits the right talking points and someone who understands the true scope of what’s needed to prevent catastrophic climate change (in a word: everything).

Vox’s David Roberts argues that in our current political climate, the difference between their platforms might not matter much. “No president — not Clinton, not Sanders, not the risen Christ — could persuade the House GOP to pass aggressive restrictions on carbon,” he writes. Then again, President Obama may not have Congress on his side, but he’s managed to do a whole lot for climate action anyway. Where he’s proved to be a disappointment has been in weighing the grave risks associated with climate change on the one hand while waving Shell on to drill in the Arctic with the other. If America’s going to lead the world in fighting climate change, it’s going to need an executive branch ready to nix pipeline projects, to shut down oil wells and to use the EPA to rein in as much carbon emissions as possible. Even if Sanders can’t nudge Clinton to the left on climate issues, he, along with Democratic contender Martin O’Malley, can at least show voters what a truly Green platform looks like. (And if they can, as Roberts suggests, make Clinton look centrist by comparison well, that’s not so bad either.)


Conservatives: George Takei worse than KKK for calling Clarence Thomas a ‘clown in blackface’

Conservatives are livid over recent comments by George Takei, claiming the former Star Trek actor and gays rights activist is racist — with some even comparing him to a Ku Klux Klan member.

Takei defended himself from the attacks on Thursday, insisting he wasn’t racist for calling Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas “a clown in blackface.” On his Facebook page, Takei wrote that “blackface” was “traditional theater lingo” that was a part of the “racist history in this country.”

“I feel Justice Thomas has abdicated and abandoned his African American heritage by claiming slavery did not strip dignity from human beings. He made a similar remark about the Japanese American internment, of which I am a survivor. A sitting Justice of the Supreme Court ought to know better,” he former actor added.

The conservative media watchdog NewsBusters reported Thursday that Takei had “unleashed a racist rant” against the Supreme Court justice over his dissent in the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Thomas had written that governments could not strip humans beings of their inherent dignity. “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved,” he wrote.


'Stand Up To Trump' Petition Launched By GOP Candidate George Pataki

Republican U.S. presidential candidate George Pataki has joined the chorus calling for action against fellow candidate Donald Trump in the wake of his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants. Pataki posted on his website Friday a petition targeting the real-estate mogul -- titled "Stand Up to Trump" -- labeling the candidate's comments "unacceptable."

At Trump's announcement speech at the Trump Tower in New York last month, the businessman said: "When do we beat Mexico at the border? They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us." He later added: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." Former New York Gov. Pataki, a long-shot GOP candidate, criticized those remarks in the petition and requested that people join him in doing so.

"We are in 2015 and Donald Trump, a leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president, is calling Mexicans criminals, rapists and drug dealers. This is unacceptable," the petition reads.

Trump has been dropped by a number of former business partners, such as Macy's, NBC and Univision. TheWrap estimated his comments have cost him $50 million. Pataki's petition says that while he wants a secure border, he denounces the remarks made by Trump.


Ted Cruz Calls For US To Quit UN Human Rights Council After Vote Condemning Israel


July 4, 2015
Mark Hanrahan

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called Friday for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), after the body voted to condemn Israel's conduct during the 2014 war in Gaza.

The U.S. was the only country to vote against the resolution put before the council Friday, with 41 voting in favor, and five countries abstaining. The resolution condemned Israel's targeting of innocent civilians during the conflict, and also called for an end to the impunity of Israeli officials responsible for alleged war crimes.

In a statement posted on his website, Cruz said that the single U.S. vote against the censure was a “meaningless gesture.”

“It is time to stop ceding moral authority to the UNHRC and tell the truth about this hopelessly biased and anti-Semitic institution. … The United States should stop legitimizing the UNHRC with our membership and withdraw now,” he added.


Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/ted-cruz-calls-us-quit-un-human-rights-council-after-vote-condemning-israel-1995746

‘This is gay Sharia': Conservative warns of anti-Christian fascism after marriage equality ruling

Love has won, now it’s time to shoot the prisoners.”

Conservative columnist John Zmirak took to conservative radio programs recently to caution that America is about to fall to “gay Sharia,” according to Right Wing Watch.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, Zmirak is convinced the United States will institute a “two-tier system of religion” in which there are government-sanctioned churches and “rogue” ones, he said on conservative talk show host Joe Miller’s show Thursday.

“That’s exactly like what exists in communist China right now,” he said. “It’s like what we have in Putin’s Russia, where the orthodox church gets government favors and other churches are persecuted.”

He then invoked the Muslim code of conduct called Sharia that is often used to instill fear of a take-over, a notion the Guardian’s Nesrine Malik calls “creeping Sharia.”


Federal Election Commission fines Sanders-affiliated PAC

Federal Election Commission fines Sanders-affiliated PAC


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has fined a political action committee associated with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for missing financial reporting deadlines.

The Vermont Press Bureau reports that the FEC in December sent a letter to the Progressive Voters of America Leadership PAC warning about the missed deadlines.

The PAC’s treasurer responded in May by acknowledging it had neglected to file the reports, calling the lapse “an inadvertent mistake.” The PAC paid $7,690 in fines to the FEC. The press bureau obtained copies of the correspondence, which it reprinted on its website. Sanders represent Vermont in the U.S. Senate.

The Center for Responsive Politics says the Progressive PAC raised $535,000 and spent $405,000 during the 2013-14 election cycle.



Clinton warns GOP will repeal Obamacare


HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is warning New Hampshire voters that if the country elects a Republican president, the next administration will repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

The Democratic presidential front-runner says she will offer continuity on the policies under Obama that have worked for the vast majority of Americans. And she says the federal budget was in order under her husband’s administration until it was “rudely interrupted” by Republicans.

Clinton tells 850 people at a park at Dartmouth College she hopes the U.S. will get a deal “that puts a lid” on Iran’s nuclear program. But she says Iran will still cause major problems as a sponsor of terrorism.

The event was moved outdoors and comes as rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has drawn big crowds around the country.



Senator McCain: US must reassess Afghan troop withdrawal


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Senator John McCain says the ongoing Taliban offensive in Afghanistan demands a reassessment of the Obama administration’s current plan to drawdown U.S. forces.

McCain told reporters on Saturday that the Afghan national forces are fighting bravely, but suffering heavy losses in the field.

American and international troops have already stopped playing a combat role, remaining as trainers for local forces. The international numbers will be reduced further at the end of 2016. But McCain says any reduction should be based on conditions on the ground, not an arbitrary calendar date.

Meanwhile Afghan lawmakers rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s nominee for defense minister, a position that has remained empty for more than nine month now. Masoom Stanekzai received just 84 out of the needed 107 votes for parliamentary approval.


Read more: http://www.salon.com/2015/07/04/senator_mccain_us_must_reassess_afghan_troop_withdrawal/
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