Thursday Reads: Rick Scott Folds on Medicaid, the Sanctity of Marriage, GOP Meltdown, and Media News

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Good Morning!!

There’s another winter storm moving across the country, and we could get another big snowstorm here in New England this weekend. My local NPR station predicted a foot of snow for the Boston area on Sunday, but the Weather Channel says it could turn out to be mixed with rain. We’ll just have to wait and see. The good news is that February is almost over and spring is on the horizon.

For now, pull up a chair (or curl up in bed with your laptop, grab your coffee or tea, and let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

Yesterday JJ wrote about all the Republican governors who are refusing to cooperate with the ACA by setting up health care exchanges in their states. Many GOP governors have also said they will not agree to an expansion of Medicaid. But late yesterday, one of the most recalcitrant of these governors, Rick Scott of Florida, reversed course and accepted a Medicaid expansion that would provide health coverage for an additional 1 million Floridians. The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday a proposed three-year expansion of Florida’s Medicaid program — enrolling an additional one million poor and disabled Floridians beginning next year — after the Obama administration gave the state tentative approval to privatize Medicaid services. If the Legislature approves, Scott’s announcement means the state will extend eligibility in the federal-state program to single people and families earning up to 138 percent of poverty….”While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care,” Scott said at a press conference. He added that the expansion would have to be renewed in three years.

Florida has approximately 3.8 million uninsured citizens, so this isn’t going to solve the problem for most of them. So what’s going on with the privatization deal?

Scott’s announcement came a few hours after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced its tentative approval of a managed-care plan that Scott had previously said might well determine his decision on expansion – though the governor said he had not committed to the expansion in return for the approval….

But, the approval is conditional. According to CMS, the state still needs to show how it plans to monitor the quality of care that the Medicaid recipients will receive, plus create a “rigorous and independent evaluation” of the managed-care plans.

Republicans in the Florida legislature are unhappy and may still challenge Scott’s decision.

Erik Erikson is unhappy too, writing at Red State: I Am Very Disappointed in Governor Rick Scott. Erikson says “[i]t is a sad day for conservatives.”

Pete Domenici and Michelle Laxalt

Pete Domenici and Michelle Laxalt

In sanctity of marriage news,

Just a week after Democratic Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee revealed that a young girl he was tweeting with was his daughter–a child he had not know about until recently–we learned yesterday that former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici had a secret, out-of-wedlock child, a son who is now in his thirties. From the Albuquerque Journal:

Statements given to the Journal by Domenici and the son’s mother, Michelle Laxalt of Alexandria, Va., identified the son as Adam Paul Laxalt, a Nevada lawyer. Michelle Laxalt formerly was a prominent government relations consultant and television political commentator in Washington, D.C. She is a daughter of former U.S. senator and Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt. “More than 30 years ago, I fathered a child outside of my marriage,” Domenici said in his statement. “The mother of that child made me pledge that we would never reveal that parenthood, and I have tried to honor that pledge and so has she,” Domenici said.

Michelle Laxalt said that she and Domenici decided to go public now because she had reason to believe that someone else was going to (someone in the media?) was going to reveal their secret.

“Recently information has come to me that this sacred situation might be twisted … and shopped to press outlets large and small in a vicious attempt to smear, hurt and diminish Pete Domenici, an honorable man, his extraordinary wife, Nancy, and other innocents.” Michelle Laxalt said in her prepared statement.

“Why, after more than 30 years, would anyone insinuate pain and ugliness where joy and beauty have presided?” she asked.

Michelle Laxalt said “one night’s mistake led to pregnancy” and she chose to raise the son as a single parent.

“Given the fact that both my father and the father of my child were United States senators, I felt strongly that I would make this choice according to my values and would not seek advice, input or permission,” Michelle Laxalt said.

A few more reactions to the Domenici-Laxalt story:

Elspeth Reeve at The Atlantic Wire: Senator Had a Secret Son With Pundit Who Praised Him as a Great Dad.

Digby at Hullabaloo notes that Domenici was extremely judgmental of Bill Clinton over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

I really liked this one at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen: “Secret Children For Me, No Gay Marriage For Thee!”

More evidence that the GOP is melting down:

Yesterday, conservative pundit Byron York was mystified by John Boehner’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the sequester. York writes:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy “that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.”

Which leads to the question: Why would Republicans support a measure that threatens national security and thousands of jobs? Boehner and the GOP are determined to allow the $1.2 trillion sequester go into effect unless President Obama and Democrats agree to replacement cuts, of an equal amount, that target entitlement spending. If that doesn’t happen — and it seems entirely unlikely — the sequester goes into effect, with the GOP’s blessing.

In addition, Boehner calls the cuts “deep,” when most conservatives emphasize that for the next year they amount to about $85 billion out of a $3,600 billion budget. Which leads to another question: Why would Boehner adopt the Democratic description of the cuts as “deep” when they would touch such a relatively small part of federal spending?

The effect of Boehner’s argument is to make Obama seem reasonable in comparison. After all, the president certainly agrees with Boehner that the sequester cuts threaten national security and jobs. The difference is that Obama wants to avoid them….Could the GOP message on the sequester be any more self-defeating?

Bwwwwwaaaaaaahahahahahaha!!!!

o-KILLING-JESUS-BILL-O-REILLY-570

In other bizarre wingnut news,

I had to double check to make sure this story at HuffPo wasn’t satire.

Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly has announced that Killing Jesus: A History will be his follow-up book to the NYT Bestsellers Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. A press release from his publisher Henry Holt stated that the book will

…tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth as a beloved and controversial young revolutionary brutally killed by Roman soldiers. O’Reilly will recount the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable, and the changes his life brought upon the world for the centuries to follow. “Jesus Christ has not walked among us physically for more than two thousand years, yet his presence today is felt the world over and his spirit is worshipped by more than 2.2 billion people,” said O’Reilly. “His teachings, his legacy, his life as a flesh-and-blood man, and his death created the world in which we live.”

Too much! More from The Hollywood Reporter:

In Killing Jesus, O’Reilly “will recount the seismic political and historical events” that made the death of the “beloved and controversial young revolutionary” known as Jesus of Nazareth inevitable.

“Jesus Christ has not walked among us physically for more than 2,000 years, yet his presence today is felt the world over and his spirit is worshipped by more than 2.2 billion people, O’Reilly said in a statement released by Holt. “His teachings, his legacy, his life as a flesh-and-blood man and his death created the world in which we live.”

This is a riot:

Candy Crowley moderating presidential debate

Candy Crowley moderating presidential debate

Dylan Byers reported at Politico last night that former RNC chairman and current co-chair of the presidential debate commission Frank Farenkopf regrets allowing CNN’s Candy Crowley to moderate the second presidential debate between Obama and Romney.

Why, you ask?

Crowley, who moderated the second, town-hall-style debate, drew heavy fire from conservatives for challenging Mitt Romney after he suggested that President Obama had not called the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, “acts of terror.”

According to an agreement between the Obama and Romney campaigns, the moderator of the town hall debate was to refrain from asking questions or participating in the debate. Crowley had promised to defy that agreement even before the debate started.

Give me a break! Farenkopf was upset because Candy told the truth. Does anyone really believe he would have objected if she had been backing up something Romney said?

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O’Brien

In other CNN news, The New York Post reported yesterday that Soledad O’Brien is leaving the network and {ugh!} Erin Burnett will be moved into the morning spot.

We’re told award-winning journalist O’Brien has indicated she is ready to leave after she was initially promised a plum prime-time slot, but that role has so far failed to materialize. A source tells us: “The deal to move Erin to the morning alongside Chris Cuomo is basically done. Soledad had been told she’d get a prime-time slot, but that hasn’t yet happened, and now she is telling friends she is likely to leave.”

What is the deal with CNN and that airhead Erin Burnett? She’s been all over the network lately–even getting foreign assignments that she’s completely unqualified for. Frankly, she’s unqualified to report anything other than lightweight feature stories where she just reads off a teleprompter.

Other reactions:

The Atlantic Wire: Soledad O’Brien Is Not a Part of Jeff Zucker’s Vision for CNN

It looks like one of CNN’s most liked stars won’t fit at the burgeoning home of poop-cruise story torture and soft morning news — this is new president Jeff Zucker’s CNN, and Soledad O’Brien is not it….

If you’re a fan of Starting Point, you can take some solace in that Page Six’s run-up to Zucker’s changes hasn’t come to complete fruition… yet. a tiny bit solace in that some some of Page Six’s revelations haven’t happened … yet. They outlined the new morning shift late last month, although Cuomo hasn’t moved from his co-hosting gig during primetime breaking-news events like the Christopher Dorner manhunt … yet. That whole Ann-Curry-to-CNN-primetime rumor from December still hasn’t been worked out … yet. And — who knows? — this could light the fire to get CNN execs talking (probably to Page Six) about keeping O’Brien in primetime after all. Last time we checked, even shifting Curry to the 10 o’clock hour would leave one spot open — for O’Brien or another new splashy hire from Zucker … or, you know, more Anderson Cooper.

Erin Burnett

Erin Burnett

Jezebel: Oh Crap: Soledad O’Brien Is Rumored to Be Pushed Out at CNN.

As a wise person once said, “If you are a dumbass, it’s probably a bad idea to agree to be interviewed by Soledad O’Brien.” The anchor is a whip-smart bulldog who never backs down, who schools fools and fact checks John Sununu. Unfortunately, the buzz is that she’s getting the boot at CNN….

While some journalists are comfortable taking a break from the hard stuff and embracing the softer side of news (looking at you, Peabody Award-winning Hoda Kotb), O’Brien is not that kind of reporter. If you’re seen her deal with Michelle Bachman or argue with Rudy Giuliani, you know that a cushy gig like Today would not be right.

Those are my recommended reads for this morning. Now it’s your turn to share your links. I promise to click on every one!  Have a great day everyone!


Monday Reads: GOTV (GET OUT THERE AND VOTE)

Good Morning!

It’s still hard for me to believe that adult women in the US could not vote less than 100 years ago.  This is something to think about as we approach election day tomorrow.  I can’t remember when an election was this important for women.  There are many women running for office while women’s rights have been under continual assault for two years now.  This is the first time in years–make that decades–that we’ve had one presidential candidate that refuses to go on record about equal pay for equal work and the Lily Ledbetter Act.  The choices couldn’t be clearer.

This issue is over 100 years old. Belva Ann Lockwood ran for president in 1884 and 1889 as the candidate of the National Equal Rights Party.  She had to petition to become the first woman to appear before the Supreme court in 1879. All of this was decades before women could even vote.  She was also a victim of systemic voter fraud.

It’s seems hard to believe that after so many years of fighting to get this far we have to fight candidate-after-candidate running for the Republican Party to stop the assault on the rights of women and the rights of minorities in this country.  This is what you get when religious fundamentalists are allowed to ramrod their beliefs in to law.  Religious fundamentalism is a threat to democracy all over the world.  The only way to secure the blessings of liberty for all of us is to vote them out and keep them out.  Theocracy Watch has an excellent history of how the Religious Right took over the Republican Party.  There are a lot of good reads there if you’d like to see exactly how it happened.

Here’s one dangerous state amendment in Florida which is billed as a “religious” freedom mandate but is really a way for churches to get their hands on state money and to project their values on every level of government. Florida’s Amendment 8 will likely show up in a state near year if it hasn’t already.  It mandates taxpayer support of religious institutions.

“Under Amendment 8,” observed Sha­piro, “religious groups would have not only the right to seek taxpayer funding but the power to demand it in certain cases. Religious schools and other ministries of any and all religions could tap the public purse – my tax dollars and yours – and use those funds to promote their faith.”

He added, “Don’t buy the line that Amendment 8 is about protecting ‘faith-based’ social services. Those programs are in no danger. Religious groups in Florida can get tax funds to provide services to those in need – so long as they don’t use public funds to preach or proselytize.”

Shapiro opined that Amendment 8’s supporters also want to gain a foothold for school vouchers in the state. Currently, two provisions of the Florida Constitution have been interpreted to ban voucher subsidies for religious schools. If Amendment 8 passes, one of them will be removed.

Said Shapiro, “Some politicians are trying to use ‘religious freedom,’ which most Floridians fully support, as a cover for their agenda. They’d like to force all of us to subsidize various religions, whether we believe in those faiths or not. They want to give religious institutions special privileges.”

Minnesota is voting on Same-Sex Marriage on Tuesday.   An amendment to the state’s constitution will ban same sex marriage in that state if passed.

For most gay Minnesotans, particularly those who would like to marry longtime partners, passage of the constitutional amendment would put that dream further out of reach. Defeat of the measure would by a welcome but largely symbolic victory for gay couples because the state’s current gay marriage ban would still be in effect, denying same-sex couples who consider themselves married in all but name the same protections and privileges as legally married couples.

That means worrying about things like being denied hospital visits to an ailing partner; being unable to honor a loved one’s wishes after death; or being excluded from parenting rights in cases where an unmarried person adopts the child of a partner. Gay rights supporters say those are just a few of the legal privileges they are denied or may have to fight to assert because of their inability to marry.

During the long campaign over the constitutional amendment, the group working to pass it has stressed that it’s not trying to hurt gay couples. “Everybody has a right to love who they choose,” says the narrator in a commercial from Minnesota for Marriage, a coalition of religious and socially conservative organizations.

The group contends that male-female marriage is a centuries-old societal building block that benefits children, and that redefining it in law could lead to intrusions on religious liberty and the right of parents to control influences on their children.

Further information on other state ballot initiatives can be found at this link.  California is voting on labeling of Genetically modified food.  Arizona has an initiative that tries to block federal access to state natural resources.   It’s important to read up on what might show up on your ballot given ALEC and the republican party’s need to decimate local governments, economies, and lives. Oregon and several states have marijuana initiatives.  Most states have ballot initiatives that impact natural resources and wildlife.

For many folks, the issue is going to be access to their right to vote.  Just think, Constitutional Amendments and the Voting Rights Act have secured our right to vote.  Many states are trying to suppress the popular vote among the elderly, women, and minorities.  Stories of rampant voter suppression are coming from all over the country.  The one thing I always bring to the polls with me is banned now in New Mexico.

From New Mexico, Community Journalist George Lujan writes in that the Secretary of State has banned the League of Women Voters’ voting guide at early voting locations. The League’s guide is nonpartisan, and has been used to educate voters for years. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the guide, on the pretext that it amounts to electioneering, is now banned.

George also writes in that voters received deceptive phone calls informing them that early voting had ended in Doña Ana County, despite the fact that early voting continues.

Follow that link above to the Nation to get a state by state account of state-level incidents that are either supported by Republican groups or Republican elected officials.  Here’s the latest offense.  Many polls in Florida have been closed early or shut down due to bomb threats.  It seems ONE southern Florida County will have its election times extended  and it’s a GOP stronghold.

Last night, voters in Miami-Dade County were forced to wait in line up to six hours to vote. In some precincts voters who arrived at 7PM were not able to cast their ballots until 1AM.

In response, Republican-affiliated election officials in Miami-Dade have effectively extended early voting from 1PM to 5PM today by allowing “in-person” absentee voting. But this accommodation will only be available in a single location in the most Republican area of the county.

Nearly every city within 5 to 10 miles of this location — including Hialeah, Miami Springs, Sweetwater and Miami Lakes — has a substantial Republican voter registration advantage.

The most populous city among those is Hialeah where Republicans, powered by a large Cuban community, have an overwhelming registration advantage of nearly 20,000 voters. There will not be an opportunity for in-person absentee voting in downtown Miami or South Dade, where there are heavy concentrations of Democratic voters.

The decision to make the accommodation available was presumably made by Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley. She is registered with no party affiliation but was appointed to her position by Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Mayor Gimenez did not request Gov. Rick Scott extend early voting throughout Miami-Dade county. Further, according to Jim DeFede, an investigative reporter for CBS News in Miami, the decision to have in-person absentee balloting was made last night but not announced publicly until 9:30AM this morning.

As the election season draws to a close, we’re beginning to see desperate campaigns do desperate things. Romney continues to harp on the President as an angry black man seeking revenge.  Romney has the misguided notion that he some how is entitle to do and say what ever he wants to on the way to his anointment.  That Romney sense of entitlement has never ceased to shock me.  Romney twists other’ people’s words worse than his own.

In the final stretch of the campaign, suddenly there is a new storyline, with Mitt Romney harshly criticizing President Obama for telling a crowd of supporters that voting would be their “best revenge.” It all began when a crowd in Springfield, Ohio responded to Obama’s mention of Romney and Republicans by booing. The president tried to quieten them down, essentially saying their jeers were pointless. “No, no, no—don’t boo, vote! Vote! Voting is the best revenge.” (Video after the jump.) Romney seized on the remark: “Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country,” he told a crowd of supporters. He also released an ad about the remarks (watch after the jump). The message? As the conservative site Daily Caller succinctly puts it: “Romney is finishing his 2012 race by calling for love, change and hope, while President Barack Obama’s deputies are struggling to explain his call for ‘revenge.’”

It was an adlibbed line that for conservatives insist highlighted the worst of the president. “He really does think that opposing him is somehow dirty pool, and that ‘revenge’ is the appropriate treatment for those who fail to bow to the mighty Barack,” writes John Hinderaker in Power Line. Yet for others, the way in which the Romney camp rushed to seize on what was obviously a play on the familiar saying “living well is the best revenge” is “one last sustained expression of that contempt for the electorate” Romney has displayed in the past, writes the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent. In the Atlantic, James Fallows wonders whether it’s even “conceivable that [Romney] actually believes Obama was talking about revenge-voting as if it were basically like ‘revenge sex?’”

Obama was merely encouraging people to go to the polls, yet Romney somehow twisted the words, even if he left a basic question unanswered: Revenge for what? “Suddenly, we are in the rhetorical space of class warfare,” points out The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson. Although talking of revenge may be a new twist, it’s merely another way in which Romney has accused those who oppose him of resenting his success.

Meanwhile, poll-after-poll shows a gender gap, a Hispanic Gap, a black gap, and an age gap in voting patterns.  It’s hard not to notice that every one recognizes what’s at stake.  The Romney way-back machine takes most of us back to places that most of us fought to get out of.  Be sure to hang on as we live blog the returns tomorrow and the latest in voter suppression efforts today.  This pretty well sums up the Romney future for all of us:  Romney staff refusing to let frostbitten children leave PA rally.

This is happening right now at Mitt Romney’s rally in Pennsylvania.  Apparently it’s freezing, and Romney’s staff is refusing to let rally-goers leave. People are begging reporters for help.

Absolutely incredible.

No, it’s quite credible.  This is a group of people that wants complete control of what goes on in every American Woman’s Uterus.  This is a group that will say anything–including scaring workers about their jobs–to score political points.  This is a group that sends its VP candidate to re-rinse clean pots over the protests of charity owners and pays for a few boxes of canned goods over the requests of the Red Cross just to provide photo ops.  This one man’s sense of entitlement and republican ideology will always leave all of us frostbitten in the cold.  Just VOTE for any one but a Republican this election.  It is important. I don’t want to see us all out there on the melting ice floes with endangered polar bears.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Justice Department Sues Florida Over Voter Purge

How did this guy ever get elected?

Today the U.S. Justice Department and Governor Rick Scott of Florida announced dueling lawsuits over the Florida voter purge. The Miami Sun-Sentinel:

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that the state is suing the Obama administration over its refusal to share a Homeland Security database that Scott says Florida needs to adequately clear its voting rolls of any non-citizens who wrongly registered to vote.

“We want to have fair, honest elections in our state, and so we’ve been put in the position that we have to sue to get it,” he told Fox News in an interview just prior to the Department of State announcing it had filed the suit.

But in a letter that seemed certain to intensify the battle between the Scott administration and Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice demanded that Florida halt efforts to purge its voters rolls – telling the state to “immediately cease this unlawful conduct” – and said it was suing the state.

“It appears that the State of Florida is unwilling to conform its behavior to the requirements of federal law,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, adding that he had authorized “the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in federal court.”

The Homeland Security list the Scott wants lists only people with green cards and naturalized citizens. The state has already admitted that the list is inappropriate for the purpose of identifying eligible voters. I suppose Scott wants it so he can make life a living hell for Florida immigrants.

Florida election supervisors have already told Scott that they won’t execute his plan, because it appears that he simply wants to get rid of eligible voters who are likely to vote Democratic.

The ACLU has also sued Florida to stop the illegal voter purge.

The ACLU of Florida says the state’s attempt to remove ineligible voters from the rolls violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect minority groups from voter discrimination. Their claims mirror those made by the U.S. Department of Justice, which earlier this month ordered Florida to cease its controversial program.

“The illegal program to purge eligible voters uses inaccurate information to remove eligible citizens from the voter rolls,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of ACLUFL, in a statement when the suit was filed Friday. “It seems that Governor Scott and his Secretary of State cannot speak without hiding what they mean in political spin. They mislead Floridians by calling their illegal list purge ‘protecting citizen’s voting rights.’ This is precisely why Congress has re-enacted, and why we continue to need, the Voting Rights Act – to prevent state officials from interfering with the constitutional rights of minorities. We now look to the courts to stop the Scott administration from assaulting democracy by denying American citizens the right to vote.”

The ACLUFL is joined by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) and the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in the suit.

If Rick Scott doesn’t like being told what to based on Federal law, perhaps he should get together with Texas Governor Rick Perry and secede from the union.


Wednesday Reads: Old Negatives, Ancient Water and Debtors’ Prisons

Good Morning!

Can you spot a trend in the title of this morning’s post?

Today I will bring you links that are about old things, or about how we as a nation are going backwards in time…either way, I hope you find them interesting, so…here we go.

I will start with that whole ass-backward direction we are heading here in the USA.

Of course, we need to look no further than Florida. Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Funds For Rape Crisis Centers During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Awww, what a guy!

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) shocked the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence this week when he vetoed $1.5 million in funding for 30 rape crisis centers in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. State lawmakers allotted the money to offset an increase in need and a lack of sufficient funding for victim services.

A spokesperson for Scott said he vetoed that particular line item in the state budget because the state already funds sexual violence programs, and nobody was able to make it clear to him why rape crisis centers needed the new funding.

What an ass, my guess is that he just wasn’t listening attentively.

“Governor Scott approved funding for many projects that have statewide impact and do not duplicate programs already funded by the state,” Lane Wright, Scott’s press secretary, told HuffPost. “This new funding of $1.5 million would have been duplicative, since, as a state, we already fund sexual violence programs. There was no information suggesting any needs in this area weren’t already being met. The state already provides about $6.5 million for rape prevention and sexual assault services. That is in addition to the funds available for domestic violence programs — $29 million to be specific. Many victims of sexual violence seek refuge at domestic violence shelters.”

Jennifer Dritt, the executive director of the Florida Council, said she was “stunned” and “confused” by Scott’s move and that she questions his reasoning for slashing the funds.

“We say ‘here’s the need, here’s the need, here’s the need,’ and frankly, nobody’s paying any attention,” she told HuffPost. “We gave them information about the number of new survivors we have and we showed them that these rape crisis centers have waiting lists. Survivors are having to wait weeks, sometimes six weeks, in some programs three months to be seen. We included quotes from the programs about the waiting lists and what services they weren’t able to offer because of a lack of money. There is clearly an unmet need.”

As for the $6.5 million that Scott said the government provides for rape prevention and sexual assault services, a large percentage of that money is distributed to education programs, not actual crisis centers serving the victims.

No, I am wrong about that not listening thing…Voldermort Rick Scott is really just an asshole!

From a political standpoint, Scott’s cuts to sexual violence funding could not have come at a worse time, as Republicans in Congress are taking heat for opposing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. But Scott’s spokesman said the governor’s decision had nothing to do with the oft-cited GOP “war on women.”

“Anyone who’s trying to say this veto is evidence of a war on women, is deliberately trying to mislead the public for political ends,” Wright said.

I call that last line BS.

Oh wait, this was supposed to be about moving backwards, that link up top is about the continuing GOP’s War on Women. I mean, the discrimination against women is certainly moving us backwards, but this next link is more literal in terms of moving back in time.  Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors’ Prisons

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”

Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff’s deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.

How is this happening?

Under the law, debtors aren’t arrested for nonpayment, but rather for failing to respond to court hearings, pay legal fines, or otherwise showing “contempt of court” in connection with a creditor lawsuit. That loophole has lawmakers in the Illinois House of Representatives concerned enough to pass a bill in March that would make it illegal to send residents of the state to jail if they can’t pay a debt. The measure awaits action in the senate.

And you know who has been working overtime on getting laws passed in the creditors favor…

“Creditors have been manipulating the court system to extract money from the unemployed, veterans, even seniors who rely solely on their benefits to get by each month,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said last month in a statement voicing support for the legislation. “Too many people have been thrown in jail simply because they’re too poor to pay their debts. We cannot allow these illegal abuses to continue.”

Well, Illinois isn’t the only state that will lock you up for unpaid debt.

A 2010 report by the American Civil Liberties Union that focused on only five states — Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington — found that people were being jailed at “increasingly alarming rates” over legal debts. Cases ranged from a woman who was arrested four separate times for failing to pay $251 in fines and court costs related to a fourth-degree misdemeanor conviction, to a mentally ill juvenile jailed by a judge over a previous conviction for stealing school supplies.

According to the ACLU: “The sad truth is that debtors’ prisons are flourishing today, more than two decades after the Supreme Court prohibited imprisoning those who are too poor to pay their legal debts. In this era of shrinking budgets, state and local governments have turned aggressively to using the threat and reality of imprisonment to squeeze revenue out of the poorest defendants who appear in their courts.”

Ugh, I can’t quote anymore, you can go to the link and read the rest of the story…it is just making me so mad.

 

Here is another article discussing our country’s move backward, this time to appease the right-wing christian establishment.5 Supreme Court Decisions Pandering to Christianity

In theory, the Supreme Court is where Americans turn to protect their rights when all else fails. The high court is supposed to be beyond the reach of politics, and more importantly, beyond the reach of popular will. After all, just because many Americans want something doesn’t mean it’s constitutional.

This is true especially in matters of religion. Despite what many Americans believe, the majority does not rule when it comes to religion. Core freedoms depend on no vote. Most people in your town may sincerely believe that compelling students to say Christian prayers or learn creationism in public schools is a desirable – but that doesn’t make it legal.

In the main, the Supreme Court has done a pretty good job of upholding the separation of church and state. The high court has put the brakes on mandatory religious worship in public schools and barred direct tax support of sectarian enterprises.

But the court has made a few missteps along the way. That’s inevitable because as much as we’d like to think that the court is not a political institution, presidents do use the power of appointment to shape the bench, beyond their own terms in office.

Here are five cases where the Supreme Court dropped the ball on separation of church and state.

Go to the link to read about the five cases.

And now a story about an ancient rock falling to earth:

Minivan-sized Asteroid Exploded Over California

The source of loud “booms” accompanied by a bright object traveling through the skies of Nevada and California on Sunday morning has been confirmed: It was a meteor. A big one.

It is thought to have been a small asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere at a speed of 15 kilometers per second (33,500 mph), turning into a fireball, and delivering an energy of 3.8 kilotons of TNT as it broke up over California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, classified it as a “big event.”

Wow, it actually broke the sound barrier as it fell through the Earth’s atmosphere.

“I am not saying there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California,” Cooke told Spaceweather.com. “I am saying that the meteor possessed this amount of energy before it broke apart in the atmosphere. (The map) shows the location of the atmospheric breakup, not impact with the ground.”

Cooke went on to say that the meteor likely penetrated very deep into the atmosphere, producing the powerful sonic booms that rattled homes across the region. According to Reuters, car alarms in Carson City, Nev., were even triggered.

In other “science” news, scientist have found large sources of water in Africa:  Map Shows Huge Water Source Available Underground in Africa

Helen Bonsor, a hydrologist for the British Geological Survey, said her research shows that groundwater – underground water sources – is available across the continent in huge quantities: “over 100 times the annual renewable freshwater resource available in Africa, and 20 times that stored in Africa’s freshwater lakes.”

Bonsor led a team from the BGS and the University College London in crafting a comprehensive map of the groundwater sources across Africa, complete with details about exactly how much water can be found.

Africa ground water map

[…]

Her team took data from small-scale local studies and compiled them on a continent-wide scale to produce the map. So now, instead of generalities, Bonsor said, “we’re talking about, well in this area, with careful exploration and siting of boreholes, you are likely to get a yield of one to five liters per second.”

Because that quantitative data had been missing, Bonsor said, groundwater had “often been left out of discussions on water scarcity and water security.”

She hopes her new map will help change that, and prompt governments to focus on developing groundwater sources.

Which brings me to this Falco cartoon…

This next item is from The New York Times Lens: Pablo Delano Unravels a Mystery in Barcelona

For the past dozen years, Pablo Delano has been consumed by the mystery of a Barcelona Biscuit Tin: who shot the hundreds of decaying negatives that were packed into the beat-up box he bought for $60 at a Barcelona flea market? Who were the people in the pictures? Where were the photos taken?

Granted, the images he discovered were not on the same level of, say, those by Robert Capa in the famed Mexican Suitcase. But the Barcelona Biscuit Tin had its own mysterious charms — weather-beaten, moldy and fuzzy images of Barcelona between the world wars. Children on bikes and in trees. Cars rambling through the streets. Bullfighters in the ring. Factory workers making huge tubes.

“He seemed to be obsessed with photographing everything in his life,” said Mr. Delano, who teaches photography at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. “At the same time, he was technically quite inept. The percentage of pictures that are underexposed, overexposed or blurry is quite high. Despite the fact he had real technical problems, he kept doing it.”

There are some interesting photographs, be sure to take a look at them. And…be sure to read the rest of the story, about the “biscuit tin of memories.”

Now, one last link… White killer whale adult spotted for first time in wild This is fantastic, off the shores of Russia…

White orca
“Iceberg” is believed to be the first mature white orca observed
Scientists have made what they believe to be the first sighting of an adult white orca, or killer whale.

The adult male, which they have nicknamed Iceberg, was spotted off the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia.

[…]

“It has the full two-metre-high dorsal fin of a mature male, which means it’s at least 16 years old – in fact the fin is somewhat ragged, so it might be a bit older.”

Orcas mature around the age of 15, and males can live to 50 or 60 years old, though 30 is more commonplace.

“Iceberg seems to be fully socialised; we know that these fish-eating orcas stay with their mothers for life, and as far as we can see he’s right behind his mother with presumably his brothers next to him,” said Dr Hoyt

There is some video at the link. Magnificent, innit?

What a world…it could be so wonderful if it wasn’t for certain people

So, what are you reading about today?