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herding cats

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Member since: Mon Nov 18, 2013, 03:56 PM
Number of posts: 15,911

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Army Apologizes for Handling of Chemical Weapon Exposure Cases

Source: New York Times

WASHINGTON — The under secretary of the Army on Wednesday apologized for the military’s treatment of American service members exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and announced new steps to provide medical support to those with lingering health effects and to recognize veterans who had been denied awards.

Under Secretary Brad R. Carson acknowledged that the military had not followed its own policies for caring for troops exposed to old and abandoned chemical munitions that had been scattered around Iraq, and vowed improvement. He also said that the Army had reversed a previous decision and approved a Purple Heart medal for a soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent, and that he expected more medals would be issued to other veterans after further review.

“To me the scandal is that we had protocols in place and the medical community knew what they were, and yet we failed in some cases to implement this across the theater,” he said. “That was a mistake, and I apologize for that. I apologize for past actions and am going to fix it going forward.”


The report found that insurgents had used some of the weapons in roadside bombs, that most of the episodes had never been publicly acknowledged and that many troops who had been wounded by the blister or nerve agents had received substandard medical care and denied military awards.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/world/middleeast/army-apologizes-for-handling-of-chemical-weapon-exposure-cases.html

20 year old man charged with shooting officers in Ferguson

A 20-year-old protester has been charged with shooting two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., last week, authorities said Sunday.

County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Jeffrey Williams was charged with two counts of assault in the first degree, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, and thee counts of armed criminal action.
McCulloch said Williams admitted firing the shots, but said he was shooting at someone else.

"We're not sure we buy that part of it," McCulloch said, adding that the handgun used in the shooting has been recovered.

He said Williams was involved in the demonstration that was wrapping up when the incident took place. Williams, he said, was being held in lieu of $300,000 cash bail.


So, it was a drive by and not from the hill above like thought. I didn't see if they mentioned the type of gun in the presser.

I'm changing the headline, which should be fine since this is GD. It reads "protester" which I'm reading elsewhere is in question and probably false.

US effort against Isis could expand to include Boko Haram in Nigeria

Source: The Guardian

The war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria may be expanded to include Boko Haram in Nigeria and militant elements in Libya, secretary of defense Ash Carter said on Wednesday.

Testifying before Senate committee on the topic of whether to authorize military force against jihadis – more than eight months after air strikes and military operations against Isis began – Carter conceded that the authorization’s language would allow “flexibility” to include targets who have affiliated with Isis and threaten the US or its many coalition partners.

“This AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] could apply to operations in and around Libya,” Carter said, “depending on whether or not they met the criteria” of allegiance to and coordinating with Isis to attack the US or one of its partners.
Iraqi forces poised to recapture Tikrit from Isis
Read more

The hearing came as a Iraqi government forces and Shia militias advanced towards the centre of Tikrit in the largest operation against Isis since its lightning it conquered large areas of the country in a lightning offensive last summer. The assault on Tikrit has been backed by Iran, but the US-led coalition has not been invited to participate with air strikes.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/11/us-isis-military-expand-boko-haram-nigeria

Exxon CEO: Get Used to Lower Oil Prices

Source: Associated Press/ABC

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson expects the price of oil to remain low over the next two years because of ample global supplies and relatively weak economic growth.

"People need to kinda settle in for a while," Tillerson said at the company's annual investor conference in New York.

In a presentation to investors outlining its business plans through 2017, Exxon assumes a price of $55 a barrel for global crude. That's $5 below where Brent crude, the most important global benchmark, traded on Wednesday. It's about half of what Brent averaged between 2011 and the middle of last year.

The price of oil plunged in the second half of 2014 when it became apparent that production was outpacing global demand. The rise in U.S. production last year of 1.5 million barrels per day was the third largest in the history of the global oil industry, according to a recent report from BP. Meanwhile, weakening economic conditions in China, Japan and Europe slowed the growth in oil demand.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/exxon-ceo-lower-oil-prices-29383799
Posted by herding cats | Wed Mar 4, 2015, 04:57 PM (6 replies)

Texas Judge Rules State Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional

Source: Huffington Post

A Texas probate judge ruled Tuesday that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The ruling, by Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman, was part of an estate battle, according to the Austin-American Statesman. An Austin woman sought to have her eight-year relationship with a woman who died of cancer in June recognized as a common-law marriage.

“Oh, we had a marriage. It was definitely a marriage,” Sonemaly Phrasavath, the woman challenging the state's ban, told KXAN late last year. “We carried ourselves as such. She was in every sense my wife and vice versa.”

The Texas attorney general cannot appeal the ruling because he is not a party in the case, and the siblings of the deceased woman, who are challenging Phrasavath, have not decided whether they will appeal, the Statesman reported.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/17/texas-gay-marriage_n_6701426.html

I'm so happy for Ms. Phrasavath in this ruling. Eventually, and hopefully in the near future, discrimination such as this will no longer be an issue anyplace in this country.

Satanic Coloring Book Prompts Fla. School To Ban All Religious Materials

A Florida school district on Tuesday banned the distribution of religious materials from outside organizations after a Satanic group tried to hand out coloring books to students, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Orange County school district, which includes Orlando, had allowed religious groups to hand out materials each year on Religious Freedom Day. The Christian group World Changers distributed Bibles to students, and the board allowed the Central Florida Freethought Community to hand out atheist materials last year after the group won a lawsuit.

But when the Satanic Temple, known for trying to build a Satanist monument in the Oklahoma state capitol, tried to hand out coloring books to students, the county board of education considered changing the rules. The district postponed Religious Freedom Day, and then the school board on Tuesday voted to change its policy.

The board decided to ban the distribution of religious, political, and sectarian materials from outside groups.


Did anyone notice David Brock (Media Matters) resigned from the board of Priorities USA today?

If so, why didn't anyone tell me? I just found out and am kind of shocked here. Brock has been a strong ally to the Clinton's since he stopped chasing them around with a pitchfork back in the 90's. This current dust up is kind of a big deal in wonkland.

Huge Shake-Up In Clintonland As Key Ally David Brock Leaves 2016 Super PAC

The people and groups laying the groundwork for a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy have taken great pains to present a united front over the last year, but that facade was torn up with news Monday that one group's leader was resigning from another's board while making allegations of negative leaks to the press.

David Brock, founder of the pro-Clinton groups American Bridge, Correct the Record and Media Matters, resigned Monday from the board of Priorities USA, the super PAC that backed President Obama in 2012 and had reoriented itself to support Clinton in 2016, Politico reported.

In his resignation letter, Brock accused Priorities USA officials of “an orchestrated political hit job," according to Politico. It was an apparent reference to a New York Times story last week that detailed how one of Brock's leading fundraisers, Mary Pat Bonner, operates.

“Current and former Priorities officials were behind this specious and malicious attack on the integrity of these critical organizations," Brock wrote in the letter to Priorities USA co-chairs Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor, and Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager, per Politico.

Posted by herding cats | Mon Feb 9, 2015, 11:58 PM (5 replies)

President Obama's interview with Ezra Klein of Vox

This is a two part interview and it's pretty interesting over all. Admittedly I'm only through the first part, but it's worth posting here even with having just made it that far.

In his 2007 book The Audacity of Hope, then-Sen. Barack Obama laid out his theory of America's political and policy problems as it stood on the eve of his first presidential campaign. He worried, he said, about "the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics."

On January 23, he sat down with Vox for a wide-ranging interview about his theory of America's political and policy problems as it stands at the beginning of the seventh year of his presidency. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the first part of the conversation, which focused on domestic policy and politics. You can find the second half, which focuses on America's role in the world, here.
Ezra Klein

The economy is growing. We have very high corporate profits. We have a record stock market. And yet for decades now, we've not been seeing significant wage increases for the American people. How have we gotten to a point where businesses can be doing so well but workers don't necessarily share in that prosperity? 1

Well, this has been at least a three-decade-long trend. And this was a major topic in my State of the Union address. We obviously came in at a time of enormous crisis, and the first task was making sure we didn't have a complete global economic meltdown. The steps we took, whether making sure the financial system was functioning — saving the auto industry, encouraging state and local spending — all those things made a difference in buoying the economy. And then it's been a hard but steady slog to the point where now we're growing at a robust pace and unemployment has come down faster than any time in the last 30 years.


Part two: Foreign policy

Watch: The films
Posted by herding cats | Mon Feb 9, 2015, 01:30 PM (0 replies)

Mitch McConnell's Strategy To Confront Obama Hits A Wall

Alternate title: Mitch McConnell and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

WASHINGTON — Before he became majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised to use the power of the purse to rein in President Barack Obama.

Now McConnell's strategy is facing its first critical test, and it's failing.

Last week the Republican-led Senate voted three times in three days to move legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security with provisions overturning Obama's executive actions to protect millions from deportation. All three times, Democrats united to filibuster it, stopping it dead in its tracks, and leaving Republicans empty-handed.

The conundrum was somewhat predictable. McConnell had relinquished his only surefire leverage — to withhold funds to keep the government running — by promising there was "no possibility of a government shutdown" on his watch.

Without the threat of a shutdown, Democrats had little incentive to play ball, and Obama had no reason not to veto a bill that undermined his major initiatives. Complicating matters further for McConnell, Democrats are steeled by the recognition that voters typically blame the party that controls Congress, not the White House, for a government shutdown. And so Democrats didn't hesitate to filibuster the bill, and the president has been unwavering in his refusal to sign anything that irreparably harms his signature initiatives.


Meanwhile, House Republicans have no intention of bringing up a "clean" DHS bill to bail out McConnell. Such a proposal would likely lose the support of a large majority of the House GOP, making it extremely difficult for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who clung to his post last month amidst record defections by his members.


Of course, it's all the fault of the Democrats and their knee-jerk obstructionist tactics. It's not fair now that the shoe is on the other foot!

First Nationwide Oil Worker Strike In Decades (35 Years) Grows Even Bigger

On Sunday, workers at two BP oil refineries in Ohio and Indiana walked out as part of a nationwide oil worker strike being led by the United Steelworkers Union (USW). Citing unfair labor practices and dangerous conditions, including leaks and explosions, the approximately 1,440 workers will join nearly 4,000 that began striking a week ago on February 1.

The first nationwide strike by oil refinery workers since 1980, the addition of BP’s Whiting, Indiana, refinery and the company’s joint-venture refinery with Husky Energy in Toledo, Ohio, brings the total number of plants with strikers to 11, including refineries accounting for about 13 percent of total U.S. oil refining capacity. The original strike included workers in California, Kentucky, Texas and Washington.

The USW called for the strike after talks broke down with Shell Oil, which is leading the industry-wide bargaining effort. It comes at an already tumultuous time as plummeting oil prices have given rise to a heated debate over the future of an industry that relies on extracting cheap and plentiful resources from the ground. This precipitous drop in crude oil prices by over 60 percent since June has caused companies to lay off workers and delay plans for expansion; what they see as the most painless means of avoiding profit cuts. The strike is not expected to impact gas prices.

In a statement, USW International President Leo W. Gerard said the oil industry is long overdue in addressing many of the issues that directly impact workers’ health and safety.

“Management cannot continue to resist allowing workers a stronger voice on issues that could very well make the difference between life and death for too many of them,” said Gerard.


The first nationwide strike by oil refinery workers in 35 years is growing! This is an excellent message and a true boost for organized labor. Safety in the workplace, and the right for the workers to have a voice on the issue of their safety, is a strong cause that resonates with most people.
Posted by herding cats | Sun Feb 8, 2015, 10:31 PM (0 replies)
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