Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I guess Dakinikat told you about what happened to me. I did some yard work on Monday and had a terrible allergic reaction to something–probably poison oak, judging from the pictures on the internet. My nephews and I were cutting down a bush that had other weeds entwined in it, but the boys didn’t have any reactions.

I’ve gotten this rash before in my mother’s yard, but this time it was much worse than I’ve ever experienced. It started on my left inner arm where I was holding things to cut. Soon it was on my right arm, and next all over my face and neck. I had huge hives under each eye. I even have it on my eyelids! My face is completely red and it has spread into my ears, behind my ears, the back of my neck, my outer arms, hands, and upper arms.

I tried to treat it with Benedryl and anti-itch creams, but yesterday I felt so sick that I went to an urgent care clinic where they gave me Prednisone. I took the first dose yesterday, but the stuff is still spreading and I have new hives on my arms this morning. I’m taking Allegra, and the doctor told me to take 50 mg of Benedryl every six hours on top of that. So please send me some good vibes, and thanks for your sympathetic comments yesterday. I hope you’ll understand if this post isn’t too fancy.

Now for some news:

Bobby Jindal continues to be a dick about the SCOTUS same sex marriage decision. As of Wednesday night, he was still refusing to recognize gay marriages in Louisiana. First he claimed that he needed to wait for a lower court ruling; and when that court told him to allow marriage equality, he said he still had to wait for a another court decision. That kind of bigoted might work in Southern states and maybe Iowa, but I don’t think it will go over too well in New Hampshire.

coffee house

The Times-Pickayune reports that as of today, the Bobby Jindal administration will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in downtown New Orleans.

New Orleans is finally allowed to join the rest of Louisiana and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Following a court ruling ordering it to do so, Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s administration agreed Thursday (July 2) afternoon to allow the state Department of Vital Records in downtown New Orleans to issue the marriage licenses. Every other marriage license office in the state began doing so earlier this week.

“Today the Eastern District Court of Louisiana ordered the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who complete a marriage application at the Department’s Office of Vital Records in Orleans Parish,” said Olivia Hwang, spokeswoman for the agency on Thursday afternoon.

Orleans Parish is the only place where a state agency — not a court clerk — is in charge of authorizing marriage documents.  So, unlike elsewhere in the state, Jindal had more control in Orleans over the issuing of marriage licenses. Same-sex couples who wanted to be married in Orleans were having to travel to the 2nd City Court in Algiers for a license this week.

The administration was forced to relent following Thursday’s U.S. District Court ruling that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The district court was responding to the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court last week to recognize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Is there a bigger asshole on earth than Bobby Jindal? Come to think of it, he has lots of competition among the GOP presidential candidates. Case in point, Donald Trump.

bustling-coffee-shop

CNN: Trump defends inflammatory comments, asks ‘Who is doing the raping?’

Businessman Donald Trump continued his verbal attack against illegal immigrants on Wednesday, in an interview on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.

He has stirred up controversy in recent days for claiming “rapists” and “killers” are migrating over the United States’ southern border. Univision and NBC Universal have cut ties with the businessman, refusing to air the “Miss Universe” pageant he partially owns as a result, and Macy’s announced Wednesday it was also discontinuing his clothing line.

On Wednesday, Trump, who is a Republican presidential candidate, told Lemon he was pulling his facts from a Fusion article.

“Well if you look at the statistics of people coming, you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything coming in illegally into this country it’s mind-boggling!” he told Lemon, in a clip previewed on CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“If you go to Fusion, you will see a story: About 80% of the women coming in, you know who owns Fusion? Univision! Go to Fusion and pick up the stories on rape. It’s unbelievable when you look at what’s going on. So all I’m doing is telling the truth,” Trump said.

Lemon replied that the press stories are about women being raped, but not about criminals coming across the border.

“Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don! I mean somebody’s doing it! Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?” he asked.

Coffee-House-Interior

At the National Journal, Lauren Fox asks, Why Is Donald Trump Polling So Well?

Macy’s is ditching him, NBC has let him go, and Univision refuses to broadcast his famed beauty pageant. But American voters are still entertaining the idea of President Donald Trump.

In a Republican presidential field rich with esteemed governors and senators, tough-talking businessman Trump has managed to rise in the polls to be a top-tier candidate even after he elicited controversy for his statements about Mexican immigrants during his campaign announcement.

A CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday showed Trump had 12 percent of the vote among Republicans and Republican-leaners, second only to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who earned 19 percent. A Quinnipiac poll, which was also out Wednesday, revealed Trump was also tied for second with Dr. Ben Carson among likely Republican caucus voters in Iowa. Carson and Trump each had 10 percent of the vote. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker led the pack with 18 percent.

Fox writes that “so many qualified Republican presidential contenders out there, Trump’s rise is not expected to last.” I wonder who these GOP candidates she thinks are so “qualified”?

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The media mavens are all excited because Bernie Sanders is attracting big crowds. From The Christian Science Monitor: Support swells for Bernie Sanders, he attracts biggest crowd to date (+video).

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont joined the Democratic race for the White House as a long shot, but he continues gaining momentum since he first emerged as Hillary Clinton’s biggest primary challenger.

The self-described “democratic socialist” has been gaining ground on the front-runner in Iowa, an important early marker of primary success. His support has more than doubled since May, with 33 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in the state favoring the Vermont senator, compared with 52 percent for Clinton, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

A stop in Wisconsin on Wednesday garnered his biggest crowd to date, with 10,000 people packing the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison.

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that Sanders has some strong support in Madison, Wisconsin, but good for him.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

From ABC News: How Bernie Sanders Is Attracting Monster Crowds (and Whether Hillary Should Be Worried).

The event [in Madison] was not an anomaly either. In June, 5,500 people came out to see Sen. Sanders in Denver, Colorado. In May, another 3,500 people attended a rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Sanders. And approximately 5,000 people gathered in April in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont, for his campaign launch, roughly the same number who attended frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign kickoff event in New York City.

“Also impressive,” Briggs added, “In Rochester, Minnesota, this morning — on a Thursday morning — we had 600 people for an hour-long town hall meeting,” The list of these smaller, but still relatively impressively well-attended events goes on and on. In the end of May, 300 people turned up for an event for Sanders in Kensett, Iowa, a rural town where only around 240 people live.

The campaign gauges interest in upcoming events based on RSVPs through their website and has had to change venues on more than one occasion based on a large number of people signed up to attend. It has already changed its venue for an event in Portland, Maine, on Monday, where the campaign expects more than 5,000 people to attend.

All this buzz is translating to movement in the polls, too. According to a Quinnipiac poll out today, the independent Vermont senator now trails Clinton (52–33 percent) among likely Democratic Iowa caucus goers. And in New Hampshire, WMUR has Sanders within eight points of Clinton (43-35), when just two months ago a previous poll there had him down by over 20 points.

Sanders does not have a PAC and he says he does not want donations from corporations. Still, according to a note out from the campaign today, he has raised an impressive $15 million since launching his campaign on April 30. They say that total comes from 250,000 individual donors, with the average donation size around $33 dollars.

I don’t want to hear any of these Sanders fans complaining about Hillary Clinton’s age. He’s 73 and she’s 67. BTW, Jim Webb, who announce his candidacy yesterday if 69. Has anyone remarked on how old he is?

muvesz_coffee_house

Meanwhile, Hillary raised a stunning $45 million in primary money over the first quarter. From The Washington Post: Here’s just how impressive Hillary Clinton’s $45 million haul is, by Philip Bump.

Hillary Clinton’s team teased its first fundraising numbers on Tuesday, suggesting that the campaign had pulled in over $45 million from April to June. That’s a lot of money by “normal American” standards. It’s also a lot of money by “presidential primary candidate” standards.

First, some perspective. If I handed you a dollar bill every second, starting at midnight on April 1, you wouldn’t have $45 million until September. If I handed you a $5 bill every second — you still wouldn’t have as much as Clinton raised by the time July 1 rolled around.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Clinton’s quarterly total is the highest for a non-incumbent in the year before an election. She even raised more than two of the three quarters Barack Obama was fundraising as an incumbent president in 2011.

Check out some charts at the WaPo link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great Fourth of July weekend!

 


Wednesday Reads: Clowns, Rainbows and Pandas

1ccca3098165d541a0f317a49e6fa02aGood Morning

What a fabulous week it has been for those of us with GLBT family and friends. It does feel good to know that my 7926e78cc651b090851ec2da26316142uncle…my friends here on the blog, my good friends from high school…my daughter’s best buddies, my son’s friends too…can legally gain the rights, respect and dignity that they deserve…as human beings.

This is the point of all these rainbows innit? And here we are days after the ruling, and still people are posting hateful shit on social media. They don’t get it.

I want to share something with you, written by one of my daughter’s very good friends…Her name is Jemha, it was written last week but it still does make a huge point:

Jemha

 

Smart cookie isn’t she.

10999985_966134726743787_4490115553396602658_n

And what about all the fuss doing with flags, black ones with dildos…confederate ones? This is another point that bothers me, as I look around at social media (Facebook) because this is where my “friends” are mostly found hanging out.

13d9e92cb0f60a7ffc5deb268f88d52dAgain, I am amazed at how many people don’t “get it” but I will use Jemha again as an example…she is half-black, half-Haitian. When my daughter is enjoying a Blizzard in a Blue Ridge Dairy Queen with Jemha, and they actually feel so intimidated…they are all afraid, because of the racist assholes glares and scowls and threatening looks…with the confederate flag on display everywhere. This is Hate. And it is directed at both girls.

That is a reality, that is what so many don’t understand, and it is so frustrating for me that many of my friends who are very intelligent…don’t get it. Yes, freedom of speech is one thing. But there is a line that is crossed when freedom of speech becomes: hate motivated intimidation, terroristic threats, hate crimes, etc.

The actions and statements made by assclown right-wing religious racist bigots of late hurt my family and friends. And I do not like to see my people treated unfairly, unkindly or disrespected.

Am I going to stand up for my friends and family? You bet your fucking ass I will…

be7c9dc5f379c77a754ef804c2dfcc46I am so sick of folks using religion as an excuse to discriminate and spread their hate and racist agenda against people of color (Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Green, whatever.) And….when they plead religious freedom as an excuse to manipulate and control women and deny us reproductive healthcare, or scream religious liberty against GLBTs to avoid following the law of the land….this is not what the Constitution is all about.

They preach their righteousness and pass judgement when hypocrisy is the cornerstone of everything they stand for….This does not sit well with me. Whatever the religious folks want to do in their own private lives within their own house is their business….but do not come and force their version of religion liberty upon everyone else, by taking away the liberty of those they hate and despise.

Anyway, that isn’t anything new for you all to read. Boston Boomer said the same thing last week. Now, here are your links for today.

3d7eac43e8de493cb1314cbc88b8ce3eA Southern Black Church fire raged overnight, this makes 8 in the last 10 days. 

Another Black Church Burns in the South, the Eighth in 10 Days | TIME

Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent African-American church in Greeleyville, S.C., caught fire late Tuesday. It is the eighth black church in the southern U.S.A. to burn in 10 days.

[…]

Mount Zion was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995, part of a string of 30 fires in black churches that spanned two years.

An investigation into the fire’s cause will begin after it is safely extinguished, chief of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Mark Keel told the Post and Courier. He noted that that the thunderstorm that pounded the town of 375 Tuesday evening could have ignited the church. Meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service told the paper there was a lot of lightning in the area around 7 p.m. but he could not say if it had caused the fire.

Parishioners across the south are surveying the damage a string of similar fires has caused this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, starting in Knoxville, Tenn. on June 21 and moving to Macon, Ga and Gibson County, Tenn on June 23; Charlotte, N.C. on June 24; Elyria, Ohio on June 25; and Tallahassee, Fla. and Warrenville, S.C on June 26.

413d202e8248e164760965ca1ddb8178Three of those fires have been ruled arson, one was determined to be caused by a falling branch and faulty wiring, and the others remain under investigation. Several have been blamed preliminarily on lightning; weather in the south this week has been turbulent.

“Lightning?”

FBI Investigates Southern Church Fires 

The Rev. Nelson Rivers said Tuesday night that he worked closely with ATF while they investigated a string of arsons at black churches in the 1990s.

“My prayer is that we’re not having a repeat,” Rivers told ABC News 4. “But we’re not going to take chances and we are plotting where the churches have burned so far, reaching out to the pastors and the congregations, and also talking to the authorities in those areas to see what they think.”

A federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said a Friday fire at a church in Aiken County does not appear to have been intentionally set. The official had direct knowledge of the investigations but spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the official was not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Tfdbba6534f4afe1dab9c84c7fa784bcfhe official said another fire Wednesday at a Charlotte, North Carolina, church appeared to be set by vandals, and investigators have found no graffiti or other evidence that it was racially motivated.

In Georgia, FBI Special Agent in Charge Britt Johnson said Monday that authorities are also looking into whether a June 23 fire could be a hate crime, which is common practice for fires at houses of worship.

“Opening a preliminary inquiry doesn’t suggest that a hate crime has occurred, but rather ensures that it is getting additional scrutiny for hate crime potential,” Johnson said in a statement.

6feee645c8b7de2354c807def2c12eb7Another fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist church in Knoxville,Tennessee, a predominantly black congregation. Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk had said previously that the fire was not being investigated as a hate crime. Authorities have said bales of hay outside the church were set on fire, and a church van was damaged in the blaze.

Federal investigators are tracking the Knoxville blaze and several others in an arson database to determine whether there are any trends or similarities, but none of the fires appear to be related, said Michael Knight, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tennessee.

In Elyria, Ohio, arson has been ruled out in the burning of the College Heights Baptist Church, fire Chief Richard Benton told The Chronicle Telegram newspaper.

98b6042b0a1d32264e7f569aefbcc382Okay, when “vandals” are burning down black churches in the South, after the murders of 9 black people, inside a Southern black church…when the confederate flag is under threat of being banned…to say that there is no evidence of racial motivation. Or…that lightning is the cause of eight black churches burning down?  Come on…seriously.

More links on this story:

Mt. Zion AME church burns in South Carolina

Rash of fires at African-American churches continues: Blaze at South Carolina church

Feds notified of fire at African-American church in South..

BREAKING: African American Church In South Carolina, Previously Burned Down By The KKK, Is On Fire | ThinkProgress

Just a few more links on white supremacist.

a319b13562f8901d35401ee1500d5745White supremacists want a race war. They must not fight America’s wars | Matt Kennard | Comment is free | The Guardian

After the horrific massacre at Charleston’s historic black church, Americans are slowly realizing the threat posed by white supremacist and neo-Nazimovements. But few know that their presence has grown within one of the most powerful institutions in America: the US military.

According to the FBI, there are hundreds of white supremacists in the US army or in the veteran community. Some analysts even estimate the number is in the thousands. In America, 203 white supremacist “extremist cases” investigated by the Bureau from 2001 to 2008 involved veterans. The problem hasn’t gone away. Neo-Nazi veteran Wade Michael Page attacked six worshippers at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012.

f5abd9516a7b695d8be8d05a35bf5dcdI spent a number of years investigating how neo-Nazis and white supremacists had infiltrated the US military, with very little push back from the Pentagon, which was desperate to keep the supply of troops flowing for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of my research, I spoke to veterans who had become white supremacists before service and joined to gain access to weapons and training, as well as veterans who had been radicalized after returning from the war.

Charles Wilson, spokesman for the National Socialist Movement, one of the top neo-Nazi groups in America, was frank about his attempts to populate the US armed forces with extremists: 76779a38c3c8eb34fc32c9ce0520e9b0“We do encourage [our members] to sign up for the military. We can use the training to secure the resistance to our government. Every one of them takes a pact of secrecy … Our military doesn’t agree with our political beliefs, they are not supposed to be in the military, but they’re there, in ever greater numbers.” He claimed to have 190 members serving.

Read the rest at the link, it is fucking scary.

And then think about how many former military are in the police force…

Map: The United States of Confederate-flag shopping – The Washington Post

This map by Jody Sieradzki of Dadaviz shows which flag people in different states searched more on Google Shopping between January 2008 and June 2015: the U.S. flag or the Confederate flag. The states in black — most of them — shopped more for the American flag. The states in red — Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois and Texas — searched more often for the Confederate flag.

Hmmmmm, notice that one state there in the middle, near the one of the Great Lakes?

Illinois?

Yes? Yeah….and what would be in Illinois that would make confederate flags so fucking popular?

Illinois Nazis.

This next link is a couple of days old, but: KKK plans SC Statehouse rally, says Dylann Roof ‘was heading in the right direction’

3f1566f9577e3cbf8b2eea495ca792b1North Carolina-based Ku Klux Klan group announced plans to hold a rally in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on July 18, the Charleston Post and Courierreported on Monday.

State officials confirmed that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself the “largest Klan in America,” filed a permit saying they expected between 100 and 200 people to attend the event on the north side of the building, where the Confederate battle flag is currently being flown. If the permit is approved, the event would be held between 3 and 5 p.m. on July 18.

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved the application Monday, and spokesman Brian Gaines explained that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

“This is our state, and they are not welcome,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. Haley called for the flag to be removed from outside the building in the wake of the terrorist attack committed by 21-year-old Dylann Roof earlier this month. Lawmakers will discuss removing the flag on July 6.

ecca12bb9a91947f629be051a3b5e172While Roof faces nine counts of murder in connection with the attack, the group’s leader, Robert Jones, expressed support for him.

“He was heading in the right direction; wrong target,” Jones told the Post and Courier.“He should have actually aimed at the African-American gang-bangers, the ones who are selling the drugs to white youth, the ones who are robbing and raping every chance they get.”

You can see more about how the history books are mistreating the KKK and Confederacy at the link…if you like.

9d3fdba07590d2443cebf0328ca45633About this rally in South Carolina: South Carolina approves KKK’s pro-Confederate flag rally at capitol | New York Post

But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.

Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

Ugh.

And this…which has nothing to do with white supremacist. It does deal with Jeezus freaks, but how one preacher is reacting in a positive way: Read what this Christian pastor promises to do if his children are gay | Gay Star News

It is a long open letter, just go and take a look. It is no way a blanket acceptance of all religious actions, but it is a good response, one that illustrates how the mass christian right should act.

The rest of the links in dump format:

Boy had been on park swing two days when he was found dead, officials say – The Washington Post

That is a sad situation, and it looks like it will only get worse as the story develops.

Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California – LA Times

A woman fought off bees, started a fire and survived on apples — all after giving birth in a lonely stretch of Northern California forest, she told a Bay Area TV station.

The woman, Amber Pangborn, 35, of Oroville, made a hasty decision to take an unfamiliar shortcut while driving to her parents’ house after going into labor Thursday.

Instead, she got lost.

“I thought we were going to die,” she told KCRA-TV. “And there was no cell service, there was no … there was nothing.”

But Pangborn’s baby wouldn’t wait and she had no choice but to give birth alone. She named her daughter Marisa.

I think it is ironic that the woman’s name is Pangborn…which is the Norse/Celtic term for labor pains…in childbirth.

This will probably be big news today: Greece, Missing I.M.F. Payment, Is Called Effectively in Default – The New York Times

Along with this: The U.S. roars into World Cup final with fierce win over Germany | For The Win

And if you want proof of PLUBs Pro-Life-Until-Birth…especially for those GOP ultra conservatives in the South:

Addicting Info – One Simple Infographic Shows How Bloodthirsty The ‘Pro-Life’ South Really Is

state by state executions death penalty texas

 

 

This next story is amazing news, and at the same time…puts things in perspective:

c72a7501098a3990a6ba02e4cb9c7ea9Cuba Is The First Country To Eliminate Mother-Baby HIV And Syphilis Transmission

 

The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared Cuba the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

The WHO said in a statement that an international delegation that it and the Pan American Health Organization sent to Cuba in March determined the country met the criteria for the designation. In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.

“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.

Also, U.S. and Cuba agree to open embassies and restore diplomatic relations – LA Times

In other news: U.S. now home to more Spanish speakers than Spain: study – NY Daily News

Shit that should scare the hell out of the GOP.

Last few links for you:

58331bd183f2c64adacc94b5957f8f15An interesting read: The Moment I Knew I Had To Break Up With My Best Friend especially with all the back and forth and disagreements on Facebook…over gay marriage rights.

And last Sunday I posted a link to a story about Misty Copeland, the first African American lead in Swan Lake in ABT history…well, check it out:

Misty Copeland Promotion Part of A New Era at American Ballet Theatre – WSJ

Misty Copeland made history Tuesday, becoming the first African-American woman to reach the top rank of principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

Her promotion, announced by Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, marks a significant milestone for diversity in ballet.

“So many young dancers of color stop dancing at an early age because they don’t think there will be a path for them,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference following the announcement. “I hope this will change that.”

She had said this was a dream for her…to become a principal dancer.

Misty Copeland leaps past racial barrier in U.S. ballet | Reuters

Copeland, the author of a best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” and the subject of a documentary film, “A Ballerina’s Tale,” has been a supporter of diversity in ballet. She had also been open about her goal to be lead dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

“My dream has been ABT since I was 13,” she said fighting back tears. “I’m excited to continue to grow as an artist and hopefully see more brown dancers come into the company in my lifetime.”

Copeland has already been credited for being an inspiration for younger dancers and for bringing in more diverse audiences to ballet. In her best-selling memoir, she recounted how weird it was for minorities just to buy tickets to the ballet.

Copeland has also appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Earlier this year she took on the lead role in the American Ballet Theatre production of “Swan Lake.”

“It’s been a long journey but it is just the beginning,” she added.

Misty Copeland Is Promoted to Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theater – The New York Times

Misty Copeland was fast becoming the most famous ballerina in the United States — making the cover of Time magazine, being profiled by “60 Minutes,” growing into a social media sensation and dancing ballet’s biggest roles on some of its grandest stages. But another role eluded her: She was still not a principal dancer.

Until Tuesday, when Ms. Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater.

[…]

“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”

da2111baf115692d55262ffae5ec9cb7Fittingly, the moment of her promotion was captured on video andshared on Instagram. “Misty, take a bow,” Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, could be seen saying, before colleagues congratulated Ms. Copeland, who seemed to be fighting back tears. Her promotion was lauded on social media by, among others, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Prince, who had featured her in a video.

Over the past year, whenever Ms. Copeland, 32, danced leading roles with Ballet Theater, her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. After she starred in “Swan Lake” with Ballet Theater last week — becoming the first African-American to do so with the company at the Met — the crowd of autograph-seekers was so large that it had to be moved away from the cramped area outside the stage door.

Read more at the links, there are videos too…she is an amazing artist…and now Principal Dancer of ABT! I think it is about damn time!

Have a great Wednesday, and share your thoughts with us. What are you finding interesting today?


Tuesday Reads: Indiana Summer Blogging

Summer thunderstorm in Indiana

Summer thunderstorm in Indiana

Good Morning!!

I’m still staying with my mother in Indiana. Her 90th birthday party was a huge success. Everyone that we expected showed up, and I got to talk to some cousins I haven’t seen in ages–except on Facebook. The weather sort of cooperated. It had been raining for days, but we just had intermittent showers on Saturday, the day of the party. We had the canopy set up over part of the driveway so the tables were on solid ground. We had too much food, so we donated some of it to a local homeless mission, ate some leftovers, and froze the rest. Since that day, we’ve had gorgeous sunny weather.

The image above of the first lighting strike of an Indiana thunderstorm comes from Schweiger Photo. I’m including other scenic photos of various parts of Indiana throughout this post.

Supreme Court Decisions and Reactions to Them

A country road in Randolph County, Indiana

A country road in Randolph County, Indiana

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to dominate the news today. I know you have already heard about the terrible decision to allow Oklahoma to continue using drugs that cause intense, extended pain for their inhuman executions. The U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but Samuel Alito thinks it’s much more important to preserve the death penalty than to worry about whether the victims feel like they are being burned alive.

Carimah Townes at Think Progress: It’s ‘The Chemical Equivalent Of Being Burned At The Stake.’ And Now It’s Legal.

By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the use of the lethal injection drug midazolam does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling comes more than a year after the botched executions of several inmates who remained conscious and experienced pain as they were put to death.

According to the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, “petitioners have failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment. To succeed on an Eighth Amendment method-of execution claim, a prisoner must establish that the method creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain and that the risk is substantial when compared to the known and available alternatives. Petitioners failed to establish that any risk of harm was substantial when compared to a known and available alternative method of execution. Petitioners have suggested that Oklahoma could execute them using sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, but the District Court did not commit a clear error when it found that those drugs are unavailable to the State.”

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote, “as a result, [the Court] leaves petitioners exposed to what may well be the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake.”

The Indiana Dunes at Lake Michigan

The Indiana Dunes at Lake Michigan

Alito’s “reasoning” is that since the death penalty is “settled” law, whatever drug is available must be used even if it causes extreme pain and does not cause unconsciousness. Remember when Clayton Lockett “gasped for 43 minutes” before he finally died?

Cristian Farias at New York Magazine: In Lethal-Injection Case, the Supreme Court Essentially Ruled That Death-Row Inmates Have to Pick Their Poison.

Now we know why the Supreme Court left Glossip v. Gross a contentious case about the constitutionality of lethal-injection protocols — for the very last day of its term. Four out of five justices who had something to say in the case announced their opinions from the bench — an extremely rare occurrence that the American public won’t get to hear for itself until audio of the session is released sometime in the fall.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the justices ruled that the death-row inmates in the case failed to establish that Oklahoma’s use of midazolam, a sedative they claimed was ineffective in preventing pain, violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The case’s various opinions and dissents run a whopping 127 pages — far longer than even the Obamacare and marriage-equality decisions. And they’re a sign that states’ methods of punishment are a major point of conflict at the court.

But Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the lead opinion, went further: He said it is up to the death-row inmates and their lawyers — and not up to Oklahoma — “to identify a known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which is “a requirement of all Eighth Amendment method-of-execution claims.” In other words, it is the responsibility of those condemned to death to plead and prove the best alternative method to execute them. They have to pick their poison — otherwise, no harm, no foul under the Constitution.

And just so that there aren’t any doubts, even though the case was not about the death penalty proper, Alito went out of his way to remind us that “we have time and again reaffirmed that capital punishment is not per seunconstitutional.”

Samuel Alito should never have been approved by the Senate. He’s a monster.

Indiana corn, "knee high by the Fourth of July."

Indiana corn, “knee high by the Fourth of July.”

The Court ordered that abortion clinics in Texas could remain open for the time being. Ian Millhauser at Think Progress: BREAKING: Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Remain Open.

The Supreme Court issued a brief, two paragraph order on Monday permitting Texas abortion clinics that are endangered by state law requiring them to comply with onerous regulations or else shut down to remain open. The order stays a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which imposed broad limits on the women’s right to choose an abortion within that circuit.

The Court’s order is temporary and offers no direct insight into how the Court will decide this case on the merits. It provides that the clinics’ application for a stay of the Fifth Circuit’s decision is granted “pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition” asking the Court to review the case on the merits.

Ugh. I can hardly wait for the final decision./s

And then there’s the continuing unhinged right wing response to the Supremes’ decision on gay marriage. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been in dangerous meltdown mode ever since the announcement on Friday.

A Converse County, Indiana road.

A Converse County, Indiana road.

Politico reports: Ted Cruz: States should ignore gay-marriage ruling.

“Those who are not parties to the suit are not bound by it,” the Texas Republican told NPR News’ Steve Inskeep in an interview published on Monday. Since only suits against the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky were specifically considered in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which was handed down last Friday, Cruz — a former Supreme Court clerk — believes that other states with gay marriage bans need not comply, absent a judicial order.

“[O]n a great many issues, others have largely acquiesced, even if they were not parties to the case,” the 2016 presidential contender added, “but there’s no legal obligation to acquiesce to anything other than a court judgement.”

Izzat so?

While Cruz’s statement may be technically true, federal district and circuit courts are obligated to follow the Supreme Court’s precedent and overrule all other states’ same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.

The Texas senator then went on to suggest that Republicans who have called for following the court’s decision are members of a “Washington cartel” and are lying when they say they do not support same-sex marriage.

“[Republican Party leaders] agree with the rulings from last week, both the Obamacare ruling and the marriage ruling,” Cruz said. “[T]he biggest divide we have politically is not between Republicans and Democrats. It’s between career politicians in both parties and the American people.”

I guess Cruz hasn’t bothered to look at the polls that show most Americans support same sex marriage–or, more likely, he couldn’t care less what Americans think about it. Get over it, Ted. Marriage equality is “settled law” now.

Another view of the Indiana Dunes.

Another view of the Indiana Dunes.

From The Hill: Cruz bashes ‘elites’ on Supreme Court.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday bashed “elites” on the Supreme Court for imposing their will on America’s heartland in its decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

“You’ve got nine lawyers, they are all from Harvard or Yale — there are no Protestants on the court, there are no evangelicals on the court,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate said on NBC’s “Today,” echoing criticism from Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion.

“The elites on the court look at much of this country as flyover country; they think that our views are simply parochial and don’t deserve to be respected.”

ROFLMAO! Earth to Ted: You graduated from Princeton and Harvard and worked under former Chief Justice Rehnquist. Obviously you think the inhabitants of “flyover country” are too stupid to know that.

A couple more reactions:

AL.com: Roy Moore: Alabama judges not required to issue same-sex marriage licenses for 25 days.

The Texas Tribune: Some Counties Withholding Same-Sex Marriage Licenses.

Following the Charleston Massacre,

A windmill on an Indiana farm

A windmill on an Indiana farm

a number of black churches have been burned in the South, according to Think Progress.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least six predominantly black churches in four Southern states have been damaged or destroyed by fire in the past week. While some may have been accidental, at least three have been determined to be the result of arson.

The first arson fire was on Monday at the College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Knoxville fire department has said that the arsonist set multiple fires on the church’s property and the church’s van was also burned. On Tuesday, a fire in the sanctuary of God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia was also blamed on arson, although the investigation is ongoing. And on Wednesday, a fire at the Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was determined to be caused by arson, destroying an education wing that was meant to house a summer program for children, impacting its sanctuary and gymnasium, and causing an estimated $250,000 in damage.

The cause of a fire that destroyed the Glover Grover Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina on Friday is unknown, while lightning is suspected in a fire that destroyed the Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee on Wednesday and a tree limb that fell on electrical lines is suspected in a fire at the Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida on Friday that destroyed the church and caused an estimated $700,000 in damage.

That is truly frightening. Read more details at the link.

A log cabin in Brown County, Indiana

A log cabin in Brown County, Indiana

Blue Nation Review: EXCLUSIVE: Bree Newsome Speaks For The First Time After Courageous Act of Civil Disobedience.

Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Read all about it and see photos at the link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below and have a terrific Tuesday!

 


Tuesday Reads: The Republican Party’s Mess

 tea-party-confederate-flag-rally

Good Morning!!

I’m sure you’ll recognize the image at the top of this post. The photo was taken at a Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, a couple of years ago. I’ve included other similar photos in this post. Don’t tell me the people holding these flags don’t understand that it is a symbol of racial hatred.

Since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, we have seen shocking overt racism on display by right wing Republicans, and so called “mainstream” Republican elected officials have done nothing to stop it. The simple truth is that the Tea Party is a racist hate group that was formed in reaction to the election of a black president.

As a consequence of Republican officials’ refusal to call the Tea Party what it is, we have seen extreme right wing candidates like Ted Cruz elected to high office and stupid and hateful people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann treated seriously by the media. It’s a national disgrace, and we should begin to hold Republicans responsible for it.

110902_Confederate_flag_2

Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate, although she has since fallen out of favor with the group. Yesterday Haley made a cowardly, mealy-mouthed public statement calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, and yet today she is being celebrated in the media for her “courage.” Here’s part of it:

For many people in our state the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry.

The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it.

Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial. A way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive and indeed we can thrive as we have done whilst still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here.

We respect freedom of expression. And that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.

But the statehouse is different. And the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way….

One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment. I respect that. But know this, for good and for bad, whether it is on the statehouse grounds or in a museum the flag will always be a part of the soil in South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.

It is South Carolina’s historic moment, and this will be South Carolina’s decision. To those outside of our state, the flag may be nothing more than a symbol of the worst of America’s past. That is not what it is to many South Carolinians. The state house belongs to all of us. Their voices will be heard, and their role in this debate will be respected….

But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds.

Confederate-Flag-Flying-in-the-Sun

Why couldn’t Haley just admit that the flag on the her state house grounds is a symbol of resistance to integration and to legal recognition that African Americans should have equal rights; and that decades after the changes brought about by Civil Rights Movement they are still not treated equally by many, including police officers? By the way, maybe she should also consider opposing the efforts of Republicans in South Carolina to prevent African Americans from voting.

Last night I watch Rachel Maddow’s show for the first time in months, and I’m very glad I did. Maddow presented a detailed history of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group whose website inspired Dylann Roof to murder nine African Americans at a prayer group meeting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last week. The Council of Conservative Citizens grew directly out of the White Citizens Councils  that fought to maintain racial segregation in Southern cities in the 1950s and 1960s. From Wikipedia:

The Citizens’ Councils (also referred to as White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954 After 1956, it was known as the Citizens’ Councils of America. With about 60,000 members across the United States, mostly in the South, the groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also supported segregation of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and occasionally violence against civil-rights activists.

By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably. The successor organization to the White Citizens’ Councils is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985.

images

Maddow pointed out that in 2010, Haley Barbour was quickly eliminated from the race for the GOP nomination when he publicly praised the White Citizen Council in his home city of Yazoo, Mississippi. Maddow also interviewed SC Rep. James Clyburn about the history of the Confederate flag that still flies on the SC state house grounds. He explained that that flag was a Virginia flag flown by Robert E. Lee and that it has nothing to do with South Carolina history. It was put up over the SC state house in 1962 as a direct response to the battle for civil rights for African Americans.

Why couldn’t Nikki Haley simply admit that in her statement? Frankly, the Republican Party has allowed itself to become the party of racism and hatred; and it’s time for decent Republicans to face up to that and and deal with it honestly.

Here’s what Melissa McEwan wrote about Haley’s statement:

She couldn’t even be bothered to say that the thing is a racist symbol. Which has nonetheless not stopped members of her party from celebrating her courage.

The thing is, it’s not really “brave” to take down a flag that never should have been flying in the first place.

I see what Haley is doing as approximately as “brave” as when I clean up cat vomit. You’re supposed to clean up gross messes in your home….

let’s not pretend that it’s a Great Leadership moment, when it took 150 years of fluttering insult, and nine deaths in the last week at the hands of one of the many white people to embrace that contemptible symbol of white supremacy, to pull it off the flagpole.

tea-party-confederate-flag

I completely agree. As I wrote in a comment yesterday, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and fear that should be in the same category as the Nazi swastika and the “n” word. Why should people be allowed to fly it on their own property? Why should more intelligent and sensitive neighbors or even people driving by have to see it?

It’s way past time for Republicans to stop beating around the bush and clean up the disgusting mess in their party, and it’s time for all Americans to recognize that racism in any form is evil.

Here’s a more serious discussion of the meaning of the Confederate flag by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:

What This Cruel War Was Over. The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the  people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi

Please go read the whole thing at the link.

Republicans are now arguing that Democrats are responsible for the confederate flag symbolism and for the South’s history of racism. It’s true that Dixiecrats fought to maintain segregation, but most of those old guys switched to the Republican Party back in the Civil Rights era. The Republicans own the mess now, and they need to get busy cleaning it up.

As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments below.


Reactions to Hillary and Her Speech: The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Hillary speech1

Good Morning!!

Dakinikat will try to put up a post this afternoon if she can find time, but in the meantime, here are a few reactions to Hillary’s speech from the media and other politicians, as well as her interview with the Des Moines Register and a good article on the Clinton Foundation for us to discuss in the meantime.

The Good

From The Des Moines Register: Clinton hears ‘eagerness’ for talk of female presidency.

Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but her campaign succeeded in addressing concerns about whether a woman could be commander in chief, she told The Des Moines Register on Sunday.

“Part of what I tried to do in that campaign was to begin to answer that question,” she said. “Now I feel like the question’s been answered.” ….

“There is an eagerness that I sense coming at me from people in my audiences, in my conversations, to engage with me about that more than I felt in ’08,” Clinton told the Register on Sunday, one of two sit-down news interviews that were the first for this presidential bid.

In the 15-minute interview at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Clinton defended the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said she’ll propose improvements to the Affordable Care Act, and expanded on her views about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. She landed on the side of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over Obama in wanting to ensure stronger protections for American workers.

Read the rest at the link.

Hillary2

Inside Philanthropy: Shut Up About the Clinton Foundation’s Problems for a Minute to Look at It’s Programs.

With all the hype in the media about the Clinton Foundation, we wonder how many Americans actually know what the foundation does—or how many members of the media, for that matter.

Listening to news reports, you’d think the sole purpose of this outfit is to help the Clintons get rich and do favors for their shady friends. And while, to be sure, some of the reports about specific donors have been troubling—and suggest questionable judgment by the Clintons—what’s missing is a broader, more balanced look at how the foundation mobilizes money for good causes and who, in reality, puts up most of that money. (Hint: It’s not dictators looking for favors from the State Department.) While people shouldn’t stop asking hard questions about the foundation, they should pay more attention to its approach and programs.

In fact, the Clinton Foundation stands as one of the more successful efforts of recent years to mobilize new resources for philanthropy. Since its founding in 2001, it has raised nearly $2 billion, according an independent review by the Washington Post. Yes, chunks of that money have come from the Clintons’ network of political donors and corporate friends, which is how fundraising often works: You hit up the rich people you know for your causes. And, sure, some of them may not have the purest motives for ponying up, especially if you’re someone who can return favors later, but that’s the nature of the game.

Philanthropic fundraising is more like political fundraising than many may imagine. You think every hedge fund guy who gives big at the Robin Hood’s annual gala is solely focused on poor kids in East New York? Or that every tech leader who recently listened to Marc Benioff’s pleas and chipped in to fight poverty in the Bay Area has a heart of gold? Or that everyone sitting on MoMA’s board is only there because they love art? Come on.

Much more at the link.

Hillary populist

Matthew Yglesias at Vox gets it: Hillary Clinton has always been to Obama’s left on economics.

At a dramatic weekend rally on Roosevelt Island, Hillary Clinton unleashed a speech that was in some ways strikingly liberal, especially for a candidate who’s not facing meaningful opposition in the Democratic Primary. Politico’s Glenn Thrush says it shows that “the Democratic Party is moving left fast” and Clinton knows it, which is why she uncorked “economic-inequality rhetoric could have been comfortably uttered by the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Stiglitz, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley.”

The truth, however, is that on the kind of pocketbook issues that Clinton spent most of yesterday’s speech discussing, she’s alwaysbeen on the left wing of the Democratic Party. She’s been in the public eye far too long to have avoided inconsistencies over the years. But in positional terms, somewhat to the left of Obama — or Bill Clinton — on economics is where she’s been this whole time.

Yglesias goes into plenty of detail on Hillary’s record. Good piece!

hillary-clinton-h-stage-roosevelt-island

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton won the weekend on social media.

According to an analysis by Zignal Labs, The Washington Post’s campaign analytics partner, 59 percent of all 2016 chatter during the weekend was about her. That means three out of every five stories or posts written about any presidential contender mentioned the former secretary of State. By comparison, the week prior, she commanded just 20 percent.

A June 11 post from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at their new site #HillaryMen: A Woman Leading America – If Not Now, When?

Our premise is that Hillary’s inclusive vision, unwavering commitment to public service, progressive policies and unparalleled experience make her one of the best (and best qualified) candidates ever to seek the presidency. If Hillarycannot become the first woman in history to cross the presidential finish line, who can? If not now, when? When will we show our daughters that a woman can be president?

Viewing the 2016 election through an explicit gender lens, the ferocious attacks against Hillary are not just about her, but underscore the deeply ingrained resistance to any woman with a viable path to the White House. Does anyone believe that another female candidate could get within reach of the presidency without running headlong into the same double standard and institutional resistance confronting Hillary?

Spotlighting the gender aspect of the 2016 race does not mean we discount the centrality of issues and competing ideologies or the complex information processing that leads voters to choose a candidate. Nor is it our intention to make specific accusations of gender bias. We are simply acknowledging the political, social and cultural barriers that have resulted in a complete shut out in national U.S. politics, at 44-0. In nearly a quarter millennium, not a single woman has occupied our nation’s highest office.

This is going to be a great site to read for inspiration during the upcoming campaign. Thanks to Beata for posting about it in the comments on Saturday.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Zippos From Hell

06.24.12.04_525Good Afternoon

War is hell.

We all know that…so take a look at some Zippo lighters from hell as you peruse this link dump of massive proportions.

(I am talking a whole heap-a-dump-a-links because I found a lot of “stuff” to wade through this morning and I couldn’t help myself.)

That being said, here is where the images of the lighters can be found, along with a bit of information and history:

Vietnam-Era Zippos Engraved With Soldier’s Personalities

Accidental Mysteries: 06.24.12: Vietnam Zippo Lighters: Observatory: Design Observer

Pinterest: Zippos

And with this Vietnam War connection, a story:

Vietnam’s War Babies – Al Jazeera English

We follow a Vietnam war baby as she searches for her roots and finds instead a new generation of Vietnamese orphans.

Okay, on with the links:

Update on the Amtrak train wreck investigation, including the GOPs typical response when the shit hits the fan…cut spending even more.

Amtrak Engineer Wasn’t Using Phone Before Crash — NYMag

Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian does not appear to have been using his cellphone during last month’s deadly Amtrak crash outside of Philadelphia. The latest investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board also shows he “did not access the train’s Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive.” Bostian has not remembered anything that happened during the crash. His lawyer has said that all the engineer recalls is “coming to, finding his bag, getting his cellphone and dialing 911.”

a2dfbe1859c4eaf7a468517193853f81Amtrak to test rail safety system in U.S. Northeast but problems persist | Reuters

Amtrak said on Wednesday that it has won government approval to test a new rail safety system between New York and Washington that federal inspectors say would have prevented the deadly May 12 derailment in Philadelphia.

But the Federal Communications Commission warned that the system, which relies on radio transmissions between trains and track sensors, could face “harmful interference” from rival freight railroad systems along another busy track between Boston and New Haven, Connecticut.

The statements were contained in separate pieces of written testimony submitted by Amtrak and the FCC to the Senate Commerce Committee ahead of a hearing on positive train control, or PTC, a new safety system that railroads are required to implement before Dec. 31.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the technology would have prevented last month’s accident, which occurred when an Amtrak train derailed on a bend while traveling at more than twice the 50 mile-per-hour (80 km-per-hour) speed limit. Eight people died and more than 200 others were injured.

72f6a0696144f3e663bb1dec23fb673fAmtrak intends to have PTC operating along sections of its busy Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington and Boston.

But the passenger rail operator said it could have to terminate its Southwest Chief service between Chicago and Los Angeles, and its Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City, because a dispute over $30 million in PTC implementation costs with freight railroads for track in the U.S. Midwest.

“Amtrak can test all of its wayside base stations from DC to New York at their full designated power to be sure they communication appropriately,” D.J. Stadtler, vice president of Amtrak operations, said in written testimony.

“Once that testing demonstrates that our system setting are appropriate, we can go into full operation on all equipped trains on the NEC.”

7b6b30373dcdc37132cdc05c853749faIt is not a fix by any measures, there are still problems because the railways in the Northeast are using two radio frequencies.  According to Charles Mathias, associate chief of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau,

Amtrak and freight railroads are deploying two different PTC systems that are not compatible. On May 29, he said, the railroads told FCC staff that the use of the two PTC systems would result in “harmful interference” between Boston and New Haven.

“This could degrade or disable communications on both systems, causing either both to function improperly or stop functioning altogether,” Mathias said in written testimony.

Now then, take all that in because…here comes the fuck you from GOP Congress: Republican-Controlled House Passes Bill To Cut $242 Million From Amtrak’s Budget

The GOP-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday to cut Amtrak’s budget by $242 million, though lawmakers added new funding for video cameras inside locomotive cabs to record engineers and help investigators get to the bottom of crashes such as last month’s deadly derailment in Philadelphia.

f2f649acc443a8d1484f4cf3d006ed50Amtrak announced last month it is going to install the cameras after years of delays. The transportation and housing measure approved by a narrow 216-210 vote contains $9 million approved last week to fund the inward-facing camera initiative in the budget year starting in October.

Amtrak is among many domestic programs whose budgets are cut or frozen by the GOP measures, as automatic spending curbs known as sequestration are again hitting federal agencies after two years of relief. Previous House GOP attempts to cut Amtrak over the years have been reversed, and Tuesday’s transportation measure is but an opening move in a longer chess match with the White House over spending levels for agency operating budgets passed annually by Congress.

[…]

657c02db5929964a689df6bff2aa01daNew data provided to Congress shows that Amtrak’s long-distances routes are losing more money, however, while the busy, profit-making Northeast corridor route is making growing profits. Money-losing routes such as the Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles at a subsidy of more than $400 a ticket, account for losses of more than $600 million, while the Northeast corridor is expected to contribute a $357 million profit this year.

There is more at the link, I just thought that tidbit about the Northeast making the money for Amtrak was interesting. Considering that is where the safety issues are in the most dire need of attention…

This too: 6 laws signed by Republican presidents today’s GOP wouldn’t dare touch – Salon.com

This has nothing to do with the train crash but it is about a plane crash that gives me chills:

680ae86b7d5cbd05698683bcb3680b98Fatal A400M crash linked to data-wipe mistake – BBC News

A military plane crash in Spain was probably caused by computer files being accidentally wiped from three of its engines, according to investigators.

Plane-maker Airbus discovered anomalies in the A400M’s data logs after the crash, suggesting a software fault.

And it has now emerged that Spanish investigators suspect files needed to interpret its engine readings had been deleted by mistake.

This would have caused the affected propellers to spin too slowly.

The aeroplane crashed near Seville, during a test flight on 9 May, killing four crew members on board.

Several countries that had already accepted deliveries of the plane – including the UK – grounded them following the accident.

ebad8788c11f4c25804285bb6de6b664You got that? The computer wiped the files clean due to a software error…

The latest revelations about the investigation were first reported by the Reuters news agency.

It said the focus of the inquiry was a theory that files known as “torque calibration parameters” had been accidentally deleted during a software installation process ahead of the plane’s first flight.

A source later confirmed this to the BBC.

The control systems of the A400M aircraft are heavily automated.

Each engine is run by a separate computer called an Electronic Control Unit.

The ECUs take the pilot’s inputs and make the engines they control respond in the optimum way.

e60590e7b6f741eacc5e87dc6504c411The parameter files are used by the ECUs to interpret sensor readings about the turning force generated by each engine – the torque – which is used to make the attached propellers spin.

Without the files, the ECUs cannot make sense of this data.

This would explain why three of the plane’s four engines did not respond properly to the crew’s attempts to adjust their power settings shortly after lift-off.

Airbus has already confirmed that its pilots had tried switching the malfunctioning engines into “flight idle” mode – their lowest power setting – in an attempt to tackle the problem.

Without the parameter files, the engines would have been left stuck in this mode.

enhanced-buzz-12755-1345131637-1This is because the planes were deliberately designed to prevent out-of-control engines powering back up, to avoid them causing other problems.

It was not foreseen that three propellers would be affected simultaneously, making it impossible to keep the plane airborne.

“We are working closely with the official investigation, and we will act in accordance with the information that is discovered but are not able to discuss the findings,” a spokesman for Airbus told the BBC.

Spain’s Ministry of Defence, which is leading the investigation, has said it is not permitted to discuss the matter.

That is frightening, fucking horrifying.

enhanced-buzz-2597-1345131634-27So you have one instance where old-ass technology causing lack of communication is killing people riding in trains…and in one, an example of aviation computer tech mode that can cause a crash because it keeps the pilots from being able to be, well…pilots.

Next up, Women….Abortion….Soccer:

I am just giving the links on these, because y’all already know what I have to say on this.

Women raped by ISIS denied aid because of U.S. abortion laws – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW

Addicting Info – U.S. Maternal Death Rate Now Highest In The Western World, Thanks To GOP War On Women

enhanced-buzz-7848-1345142998-0Young Mom Charged With Murder For Home Abortion, Another ‘Pro-Life’ Victory! | Wonkette

Georgia Woman Faces Murder Charges for Taking Pill that Allegedly Killed Fetus | Alternet

After reading the story on this Georgia woman, take a look at this story in North Carolina…I wonder if this woman will be charged with Murder?

N.C. woman who disappeared is no longer expecting: family – NY Daily News

The pregnant North Carolina woman who vanished on the day of her C-section appointment is no longer expecting, her family said Tuesday.

Carrie Bradshaw-Crowther, 49, turned up Monday afternoon in Boone, a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains roughly 90 miles from her Salisbury home, nearly a week after she went missing.

enhanced-buzz-19401-1345143451-0I will keep you up to date on this.

Ireland’s abortion law tortures women. It needs to be legal | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Scarcity Of Abortion Training In America’s Medical Schools

Fifth Circuit Protects Texas Ladies From ‘Unsafe’ Abortions By Letting Them Have None At All | Wonkette

Eschaton: Real Grass Is Too Good For The Wimmin

11 Questions About Women’s Rights Every Presidential Candidate Needs To Answer To Succeed In The Primaries | Bustle

9) Should Federal Concessions Be Made To Female Youths In Their Seasonal ”War On Dress Code?”

Bye!

A photo posted by Chloë Niccole (@chloe_niccole) on

Public school dress codes may appear irrelevant to politicians in Washington, but San Mateo High School Senior Chloe Cross’s senior quote has attracted widespread media attention for good reason. In districts across the country, formal dress code statements assert that female students must avoid certain fashions to not distract their male peers and adversely affect their abilities to learn. enhanced-buzz-8426-1345143707-2However trivial public school dress codes may seem in the adult world, if a vast majority of female students feel that their male peers’ educational experiences are prioritized above their own, it’s in the interest of American politicians to address the issue.

Violence against women with disabilities much more severe, research shows | Society | The Guardian

Every Serena Williams win comes with a side of disgusting racism and sexism – Vox

Zoë Saldana Speaks Out About Her Husband Taking Her Last Name

enhanced-buzz-3451-1341667270-8Addicting Info – Tenn. Christian School Board Candidate Arrested For Trying To Have His Wife Murdered (VIDEO)

This next article is good, just take a look: Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Get A Fucking Neck Tattoo

It relates to all these links on women, I promise.

15 Tattoos That Transformed Breast Cancer Scars Into Artwork | Diply

And a quick recall: What the fuck? Did Jim Bob Duggar admit that fundamentalist families have a sibling molestation problem?

Former Homeschooler Says Duggar Family’s Fundamentalist Education Teaches ‘Rape Culture’ | Alternet

06.24.12.08_525Duck Dynasty Dude Was Molested Too, And Not Just By Family’s Gross Religious Beliefs | Wonkette

Okay, some links on Caitlyn…about the Transgender thing in the real world:

Caitlyn Jenner’s Transition Is Far From Average: Why That Matters | Kasey M. Dunton

Just a clip?

Most of us don’t have millions of dollars thanks to a long-running show. Nor do most of us get paid to film a series about our transition or to appear on the cover of a magazine. Caitlyn’s transition is paid-for, and even if no one else will hire her, she’s not in any danger of poverty.

06.24.12.10_525I think that’s why we’re eager to celebrate her. She’s the equivalent of the fluffy gay friend character: all the diversity without any of the issues. She doesn’t make us talk about poverty or hate crimes (a trans person is murdered roughly every 12 days) or not being seen the way she wants.

Which goes to the second reason we’re so excited for her: She fits the ideal of what a woman in our society “should” look like: white, slim, coquettish, glamourous, and doesn’t “looking like a man.”. As Laverne Cox pointed out this week, not all of us will ever look like that. Not all of us can, and not all of us want to. Sure, in my dream body I’d be 6′ tall with a 6 pack and a great jawline, but no amount of hormones will ever let me look like that. I suspect many cisgender people have felt the same. It’s a problem for everyone, but it’s even worse for trans people because we not only have to justify our worth as people by our conventional attractiveness, but justify that we are worthy of being called the name and pronoun we choose based on antiquated standards.

06.24.12.17_525And other Caitlyn responses:

Transitions · Savage Love · The A.V. Club

What Makes a Woman Is Less Important Than What Makes a Feminist– Cosmopolitan Magazine

And one last link on women: President Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Need First Lady, Hos Can Just Take Turns | Wonkette

Confirmed bachelor and official ladies’ man Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is under the impression he is running for president, got asked a real tough question Tuesday: Hey, since you don’t have a pretty, doting wife, who will be the First Lady of America when you are president? Graham’s answer was very bad! No for serious, this is what he said, to the Daily Mail:

‘Well, I’ve got a sister, she could play that role if necessary.’

Chuckling, he added: ‘I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating first lady.’

06.24.12.19_525LINE STARTS HERE, at Graham’s svelte buttocks. Does each lady (excluding his sister, GROSS) get to experience the hot presidential lovin’ we are certain will be the hallmark of the Graham White House? MAYBE!

Clearly, this should be a game show, we hope the producers of “So You Think You Can Dance Like A Fifth Grade Idol” are paying attention! It could be called “So You Think You Can Be One Of President Graham’s Beards Bitches,”

The next few links are on the Texas Pool Party:

Elisabeth Hasselbeck: McKinney Chief ‘Threw Officer Under the Bus’ | Mediaite

Black and white witnesses agree: McKinney pool party fight started when white mother slapped a black teen | theGrio

The only good news about the McKinney pool party is the white kids’ response to racism – Vox

06.24.12.20_525NYPD Chief: Recruiting Black Cops Is Hard Due to Criminal Histories | TIME

Addicting Info – Sean Hannity Defends McKinney Cop: Black Teens Could Have ‘Shanked’ Him (AUDIO)

Texas radio host: Cops used force on pool party ‘jungle animals’ because whites were ‘scared to death’

Black children are not even safe from police violence at a pool party | Steven W Thrasher | Comment is free | The Guardian

Watching a young black woman, vulnerable and almost naked in her bathing suit, being manhandled by a cop made me cry

Texas Pool Party Cop Resigns To Spend More Time Wrestling His Family To The Ground | Wonkette

I have one thing for this cop, he needs to take this quiz:

Can an online quiz spot a psychopath? | Science | The Guardian

06.24.12.22_525I think this dude, Rumsfeld, could also be a candidate for the test:

Donald Rumsfeld Blames Bush For Iraq Democracy Fail | Informed Comment

Two final links for you:

The Skyrocketing Cost of Brand Name Prescription Drugs | David Belk

and

Obama smoking? President caught on camera holding ‘pack of cigarettes’ | TheHill

President Obama, who claimed when he first entered the White House to have mostly kicked his nicotine habit, may have been caught on camera holding a pack of cigarettes.

The Commander-in-Chief is seen clutching a white object in a snapshot with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi posted Sunday on Instagram by Renzi’s spokesman.

Obama and Renzi were both In Germany attending the G7 summit.

Several social media users questioned whether Obama was holding cigarettes in the pic, with one writing, “Smoking?”

The White House did not immediately respond to ITK’s request for comment on the photo and the last time President Obama had had a cigarette.

It’s not the first time Obama’s claims of being mostly nicotine-free have been questioned.

In November, ITK broke the story that Obama invited Billy Joel to have a smoke at the White House with him.

According to a source who spoke with Joel, Obama said to the “Piano Man” singer during his 2013 visit there, “I’m going out on the North Portico to have a smoke. Do you want to come with me?”

Obama said in 2009 that he “constantly” struggles with cigarettes.

“Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No,” he said at the news conference.

Who the fuck cares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Next thing these people will have going is that it is a packet of Kools…

These links should hold you for a while.

Have a great Wednesday!


Tuesday Reads: GOP Anxious About Upcoming SCOTUS Decisions

Oblique_facade_3,_US_Supreme_Court

Good Morning!!

The Supreme Court is in the news today, as its current session approaches its end.

The two most consequential decisions to be announced will have serious implications for the health care system and settle the question of same sex couples should have equal rights to marry and have the same benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples. Some other important decisions have already been announced.

The Obamacare case is the one making news today, after President Obama spoke publicly about the upcoming decision on the Affordable Care Act yesterday at the G7 Conference in Germany.

Politico reports, Obama: Supreme Court shouldn’t have heard Obamacare challenge.

President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, questioning why justices even took up a case that imperils his signature health insurance reform plan.

The high court is set to issue a decision on the case, known as King v. Burwell, by the end of the month. A ruling against the government would mean that 6.4 million people in the 34 states relying on the federal Healthcare.gov website would be at risk of losing subsidies that make their insurance affordable.

“This should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up,” Obama said at a news conference after the G-7 summit in Krun, Germany. “Since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important to assume that the Supreme Court’s going to do what legal scholars would expect them to do.”

Obama repeated the administration’s contention that there’s no contingency plan or fix to keep insurance markets from going into a tailspin, predicting that the justices would decide in his favor. And in any case, he added, Congress could fix the ambiguous phrasing of the health law “with a one-sentence provision.”

Don't take my care

But Republicans made it clear that they aren’t going to allow an easy fix. From Bloomberg, GOP Swiftly Rejects Obama’s ‘One-Sentence Fix’ to Obamacare If Supreme Court Voids Subsidies.

“Let’s be clear: if the Supreme Court rules against the Administration, Congress will not pass a so called ‘one-sentence’ fake fix,” Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, who is leading Republican efforts to craft a contingency plan, said in a statement.

At issue is whether a handful of words in the Affordable Care Act mean the government cannot provide insurance tax credits for millions of Americans in 34 states enrolled through HealthCare.gov, rather than a state exchange. Without the subsidies, insurance will become unaffordable to many and premiums are almost certain to skyrocket across the board. Even so, Barrasso and his fellow Republicans say Obama acted illegally by doling out the subsidies. A victory in the case King v. Burwell would probably create chaos, and ironically put Republicans on the hook for resolving it.

In his statement, Barrasso accused Obama of “bullying the Supreme Court” and said the Republican-led Congress is “prepared to help” Americans who may be harmed.

But is it? Republicans have struggled to coalesce around a contingency plan if the ruling goes their way. A victory could backfire on the GOP without a viable response, as Democrats would be armed with attack ads accusing them of pushing for a ruling that threw millions of Americans off their health care plans without a plan to help them.

Even a simple fix is dangerous for Republicans. Conservative lawmakers in the House worry that a such a move to clarify that the subsidies are available in all 50 states would be attacked by their base as a vote for Obamacare.

Obama care scotus

According to The Hill, Republicans fear they will win ObamaCare court battle.

Republicans in Congress are worried the Supreme Court will hand them a major headache this month if it rules against the federal health insurance exchanges in more than 30 states, ending subsidies for millions of people.

While the Affordable Care Act remains broadly unpopular, two new polls show a majority of Americans don’t want to do away with its subsidies, a core component of the law.

This poses a conundrum for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). They are under pressure from colleagues up for reelection in swing states and districts to extend the subsidies, at least temporarily, if the court strikes them down. But doing so would risk a backlash from the conservative base.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in King v. Burwell, which could strip 6.4 million people of health insurance subsidies, in late June.

States that would be hardest hit by a ruling against the law include the Senate battlegrounds of Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Greg Sargent at Morning Plum: In battleground states, voters don’t want Supreme Court to gut subsidies.

As your humble blogger has tirelessly reiterated, the states with the highest numbers of people who stand to lose subsidies if the Supreme Court guts them also happen to be the main presidential and Senate battleground states. That overlap could increase the political stakes in the battle that will follow any Court ruling against the ACA.

Now a new Washington Post poll confirms the stakes here. It finds that in many key battleground states, a majority says the Court should not end subsidies for those on the federal exchange.

The Post poll finds that among Americans overall, 55 percent oppose a Court decision killing the subsidies, while only 38 percent support it. Independents oppose such a decision by 57-36, while Republicans are alone in supporting a decision against the ACA by 55-34.

Among the states in which the largest numbers of people may lose subsidiesare Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Ohio. Those are key presidential battlegrounds, and Republicans are defending Senate seats in five of them.

The upcoming marriage equality decision could also backfire on Republicans:

SCOTUS rainbow flag

The LA Times: GOP’s same-sex marriage trap: Conservatives oppose it intensely.

The Supreme Court may be just weeks away from declaring a nationwide right to same-sex marriage with a ruling likely to trigger public opposition — and private sighs of relief — from most Republican presidential hopefuls.

Why relief? The marriage issue increasingly has become a trap for Republicans, and a Supreme Court decision that takes the matter out of the political process would provide the easiest exit. The court is expected to rule this month on whether the Constitution protects marriage rights for gay couples.

new poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center highlights Republicans’ predicament. By 57% to 39%, Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. But among Republicans, only about one-third agree.

Moreover, among those who describe themselves as conservative Republicans, 40% say the issue is “very important” to them, and they overwhelmingly oppose marriage rights for gay couples.

Overall, the poll found, opponents of same-sex marriage are more likely than supporters to describe the issue as “very important.” In part, that may be because about two-thirds of white, evangelical Protestants, who make up a large share of the opposition, say there is “a lot” of conflict between homosexuality and their religious beliefs.

For would-be Republican presidential nominees, that sets up a difficult problem. Support for same-sex marriage rights would put a candidate at odds with a huge bloc of voters in GOP primaries on an issue they deem “very important.” But vocal opposition to those rights would put a candidate out of step with a large and growing majority of the public.

Love is love

Recently announced SCOTUS decisions:

Yesterday the Supreme Court decided that U.S. citizens who were born in Jerusalem cannot list their birthplace as Israel on their U.S. Passports. Richard Wolfe at USA Today:

The Supreme Court declined Monday to insert itself into the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by second-guessing U.S. policy on Jerusalem.

Ruling just a few months after a feud between President Obama and Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu, the justices refused to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to have their passports changed to reflect Israel as their birthplace, as Congress demanded more than a decade ago.

In denying the challenge waged by the Jewish parents of a 12-year-old almost since his birth in 2002, a majority of justices heeded the State Department’s warning that a simple passport alteration could “provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 6-3 decision for the court, which needed more than seven months following oral arguments in early November to decide the congressional law was unconstitutional. It was the longest-pending high court decision.

“The power to recognize or decline to recognize a foreign state and its territorial bounds resides in the president alone,” Kennedy said, citing examples from the French Revolution in 1793 to President Jimmy Carter’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1979.

Lyle Denniston has a detailed analysis of this decision at SCOTUSblog.

SCOTUS justices

In another interesting decision, the Court let stand a San Francisco gun control law. NPR reports, Supreme Court Rejects NRA Challenge To San Francisco Gun Rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block two San Francisco gun control measures that were fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association. At least one veteran court observer says the high court’s decision raises questions about how the justices interpret the Second Amendment.

First, the basics: A 2007 San Francisco ordinance requires residents to keep handguns under lock and key or to use trigger locks when they are not carrying their weapons. Another law, dating to 1994, bans the sale of ammunition that expands on impact, or hollow-point bullets.

Plaintiff Espanola Jackson and seven other petitioners, including the NRA, filed suit in 2012. They sought an injunction to keep the lockbox law from being enforced. But in March 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the City and County of San Francisco and left both measures intact.

Read more at the link.

Finally a new CNN poll shows that Americans don’t trust the current Supreme Court on “key issues.

With major Supreme Court decisions on health care and same-sex marriage expected this month, many lack trust in the Supreme Court’s handling of those two issues, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

Yet most approve of the way the court is handling its job generally.

A majority, 52%, say they approve of the way the court is handling its job, while 41% disapprove. That’s an improvement from an even 48% to 48% split two years ago. Still, when Americans are asked how much they trust the court on a range of issues it will be considering this term or the next, the worst ratings come on health care and same-sex marriage. Only about half say they have at least a moderate amount of trust in the court on health care (50%) or same-sex marriage (49%). There is more faith in the Supreme Court on other key issues on the docket, with most saying they trust the court at least a moderate amount on freedom of speech (69%), voting rights (65%) and the death penalty (60%).

Read the rest at CNN.

What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread, so please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments.