Friday, January 31, 2014

Fact check: Which President Has Bypassed Congress the Most in U.S. History? Definitely Not Obama


During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama raised eyebrows when he stated that though he hopes to spend 2014 working with Congress to increase growth and opportunity, “wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” In short, the president pledged to continue his controversial rule by executive order.

Conservative leaders and news outlets were taken aback by the president’s words. Senator Ted Cruz penned a Wall Street Journal editorial that opens by accusing the president of a “persistent pattern of lawlessness” and enforcing policies “via executive fiat.” Senator John McCain described Obama as abusing “the intent of the Constitution,” and vowed to take the president to court. However, before he begins speed dialing lawyers, McCain may want to take a glimpse at the following graph.

Source: WonkViz

Created by Christopher Ingraham, a data visualizer for the Brookings Institution, the graph shows the rate at which United States presidents have issued executive orders, going all the way back to George Washington. (While executive orders aren’t specifically authorized by the Constitution, they almost date back to it; Washington’s first came a mere five weeks after his swearing in.) Ingraham’s work makes it clear that Obama is hardly a tyrant blasting out executive orders with reckless abandon.

In fact, he’s resorted to executive orders with less frequency than any president since the 19th century.

Despite president and birthday boy Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s flurry of orders establishing the New Deal, Republican presidents have, on average, been more reliant on executive orders than have their Democratic counterparts. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that Democrats were lamenting a certain Republican president’s use of executive orders to green light the CIA’s torture of detainees and constrain stem cell research.

It’s almost as if both Republicans and Democrats would be happier if we had a different, less unilateral way to enact rules. Perhaps a system by which both parties could propose, debate, and enact legislation.

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@WhiteHouse is trying to bury this Keystone XL scandal by releasing it on a late Friday afternoon @barackobama

TN Tea Party Rep. DesJarlais Exposes Own Ignorance of Constitution, Opposes Religious Freedom (Video)

read herer

"Desjarlais, a doctor who won his seat in 2010 in part because of his outspoken opposition to abortion rights, is best-known nationally for the 2012 revelation that he had urged one of his patients to get an abortion after he impregnated her and testified during divorce proceedings that he and his then-wife made a mutual decision for her to have two abortions. He expressed his anxiety and let his constituents know that he has heard their concerns about the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro being permitted to construct a cemetery on its grounds. He took to his Facebook page   recently to publicly declare his anxiety.

The comment was first noted by the Nashville Scene.


“Friends, I have received numerous calls over the last couple of weeks regarding the Murfreesboro mosque cemetery. Although this is a state issue, I am deeply concerned over the impact it might have on our community. Unfortunately the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act, passed by the TN General Assembly, may have played a key role in allowing this cemetery to be approved. There is a difference between legislation that would protect our religious freedoms and legislation that would allow for the circumvention of laws that other organizations comply with on a daily basis.”"

Report paves way approve Keystone Pipeline. @barackobama talks like an environmentalist but is not really one.

This pipeline will be incredibly destructive to the environment and will only make people like the Koch Brothers more wealthy. Its really sad that this president wants us to believe he's pro climate change and pro environment but in reality governs like a conservative and is pro-big oil.

from The New York Times:

Government Report Paves Way for Obama’s Approval of Keystone Pipeline
The State Department released a report on Friday that could pave the way toward President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.
In his second term, Mr. Obama has sought to make his fight against climate change a cornerstone of his legacy. In a major speech on the environment last summer, Mr. Obama said that he would approve the pipeline only if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution. He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be “absolutely critical” to his decision.
The conclusions of the report appear to indicate that the project has passed Mr. Obama’s climate criteria, an outcome expected to outrage environmentalists, who have rallied, protested, marched and been arrested in demonstrations around the country against the pipeline.


All non-essential staff have been told to stay away from the British nuclear reprocessing site, Sellafield, after detectors recorded an "elevated level" of radiation

Ghana's e-waste mecca E-waste at the Agbogbloshie dumpsite near Accra has created a socio-economic and environmental disaster.


Agbogbloshie is the world's biggest e-waste dumpsite and is located close to Accra, Ghana. Electronic waste - TVs, PCs, HiFi systems, refrigerators - defines the landscape of this former wetland and recreation area.

Traders from Europe, US, China and India label their containers as "Development Aid" or "Second-Hand Products", and in the end, up to 500 containers find their way, illegally, to Tema Harbour, 20 miles east of Agbogbloshie. Customers around the globe expect proper recycling, but illegal dumping became a lucrative business.

Here in Agbogbloshie 7- to 25-year-old boys smash stones and simple tools against TVs and PCs to get to the metals, especially copper. They will earn approximately $2.50 per day. Most of them, hoping for a better future, left their families from the poor northern and upper west regions of Ghana for this kind of work. 

Injuries like burns, untreated wounds, lung problems, eye damage, and back problems go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Almost everyone suffers from insomnia. Smoke and invisible toxins (especially cadmium) harm the careless workers because they often don't know about the risks and walk around in flimsy footwear like flip-flops. Most of them die from cancer while in their 20s.

Besides these horrible facts and circumstances, though, you will find a colourful and spiritual environment with optimistic people. Many young people believe that this is just a temporary situation and hope that they will find their way out of it one day.

Nevertheless Agbogbloshie is a socio-economic and environmental disaster. It is estimated that e-waste dumping in Agbogbloshie will double in 2020. The 40,000 settlers nicknamed this area "Sodom and Gomorrah".

/Kevin McElvaney/Al Jazeera

As commonly done in Agbogbloshie, Adam Nasara, 25, uses Styropor from refrigerators to light a fire.

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.@tedcruz follows twitter account with avatar showing @barackobama in a noose

@foxnews @glennbeck advertiser Food4Patriots Inside Story Of The Charlatan Who Duped The Nation's Top Conservatives


On New Year’s Eve, I learned FEMA’s “Dirty Little Secret.”

It was the title of a fascinating email, one that had somehow dodged my spam filter. The message was suffused with breathless concern about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recent order of “420 million survival meals;” such provisions are apparently “the #1 most critical item in a crisis.” You see, “FEMA knows that if you control the food supply, then you control the people.”

Normally, such paranoid ramblings merit nothing more than a quick delete and a sad shake of the head. But the New Year’s note stood out because of the source. I was being alerted to FEMA’s nefarious plot by no less than National Review, the nation’s most important conservative magazine.

“Please find this special message from our sponsoring advertiser Food4Patriots,” the publication wrote. “This important support affords us the continuing means to provide you with National Review’s distinctly conservative and always exceptional news and commentary. We encourage you to patronize our sponsors.”

Since being added to National Review’s subscriber list, I had received four emails from the venerable publication selling me on Food4Patriots’ plan to “make darn sure your family won’t go hungry or get herded into a FEMA camp” by purchasing the dehydrated food they’re hawking. Indeed, Food4Patriots is deeply ensconced in the conservative movement, placing its ads in both more mainstream outlets (Fox News, and fringier sites (Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, RedState, WorldNetDaily).

Food4Patriots is a lucrative enterprise. Its parent company, Reboot Marketing, took in $11.8 million in 2012, an astonishing 1,428 percent increase over its 2009 revenue.

But the company’s skyrocketing revenues came on the back of some (arguably) really shady practices. In fact, when I wrote National Review’s editor and publisher to give them a heads up about what I learned about the company, they promptly suspended future Food4Patriots ads.

Who Is Frank Bates?

“Communist food brainwashing,” Frank Bates solemnly warns us, “is infecting America.”

Bates is the pitchman for Food4Patriots; when you click the link in National Review’s email, you’re immediately directed to a crudely animated infomercial breaking down the brainwashing threat. Frank’s biography is one of the first things you learn in the shockingly long presentation (full thing’s on YouTube here). Bates is a resident of a small town outside of Nashville, where he lives with his wife Michelle and 2 kids. He lost his job a few years ago and since then, teaching people how to live free of both big government and big business has been his passion.

“Promise to keep this information to yourself and close family and friends ONLY,” Bates asks. “I don’t know how long it’ll be online, so watch it while you can” — before FEMA takes Frank’s video, and perhaps Frank himself, out of the picture.

communist food brainwashing

CREDIT: Reboot Marketing

You must act quickly — the video repeatedly hammers home, for a number of questionable reasons, that time is running out — to secure your stock of preserved “survival foods,” available in 72 hour, one month, and three month packages. Their “unique” low heat dehydration method ensures the food will be safe for 25 years, plenty of time after the “coming food crisis” created by “food mobs” of “freeloading people embracing the idea of a few hard working patriots supplying all the food and the labor, and the rest sitting back and getting a handout.”

Pairing survivalist panic to more mainstream conservative tropes is Frank’s calling card, pervading his pitches for the other products in the 4Patriots line. Power4Patriots reveals “the dirty little secret that president [sic] Obama and the big energy monopolies have been trying to bury.” There’s a “cover-up,” a “conspiracy that runs all the way to the top” to make “power rates skyrocket.” Moreover, “thanks to the shaky state the liberals have put our country in, our government isn’t ready to handle the situations that are coming our way…Ask anyone who lived through Hurricane Katrina!” The solution is to buy Power4Patriots’ books, videos, and “CD-ROMs,” which will teach you how to cut your power and heating bills by “up to” 75 percent.

Likewise, Frank’s SurvivalSeeds4Patriots missive warns that “the frightened hordes clear out the grocery stores in hours and people [will] get more and more desperate” in the crisis “about to hit the US.” Save yourself by purchasing Frank’s “painstakingly researched” personal plant seed vault.

The glue that ties all of this together is Frank’s personal story. He and his family were victimized by the business that fired him, by the terrifying power costs in their former Northeastern home, and by the shadowy forces that bent Frank’s knee in the direction of Obama and FEMA. Bates’ testimonial — up from dependence, through three neat products — is the beating heart of the 4Patriots brand’s public image.

Except there’s no evidence that he exists.

The Anatomy Of A Racket

I jumped through a lot of hoops to try to find Frank Bates. I tracked the only public image ever identified as Bates back to its source, a now-deleted stock photo taken by an Austria-based photographer named Kemter. I used a variety of tools to track down contact information for anyone in the Nashville area named Frank Bates, and found no one by that name connected to the 4Patriots brand. The customer service operator at the end of Reboot’s public line said “they didn’t give us” Frank’s contact information.

But when I checked the domain registration on every 4Patriots site, as well as, I found the only ones that didn’t direct you back to the company’s main phone line were either anonymous or registered to someone named Allen Baler. Baler, is listed as the principal of Power4Patriots by the Nashville Better Business Bureau. He’s the founder of Reboot Marketing, the company that operates all of the 4Patriots product lines.

It was researching Allen Baler that finally led me to the real story behind the 4Patriots empire.

Digital marketer Allen Baler, digitized

Digital marketer Allen Baler, digitized

“Our philosophy is one man, one laptop, one million bucks,” Baler said during a 2011 chat with one of his marketing bros. “I just love the freedom of being able to make a nice income, to make a nice business and just be, basically, myself.” Or Frank Bates, whichever works.

Baler’s no longer a lone wolf: he brought his wife on as a partner, and hired several additional employees to help expand Reboot’s business.

None of them are named Frank Bates, of course. You get the sense that someone with Bates’ true believer zeal would probably feel out of place at Reboot, which Baler founded on a lark to make a few extra bucks. Bored after 12 years at the “kind-of corporatey” job he got after graduating from Harvard in 1994, he started “foolin’ around at night after work” with something called affiliate marketing.

The industry works like this: someone has a product, someone else finds websites or ad networks willing to host ads for that product for a price, and then the host makes a little extra money for every sale the ads they put up generate. Affiliate ads are generally “tailored to particular viewers to drive traffic to the seller’s website,” David Vladeck, former Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained. “The point of it is to make sure the consumer ends up on the landing page of the seller.” It’s a roughly $4 billion industry in the United States alone.

Baler started dabbling in this field in his free time after work. His first foray — a campaign he refers to as “How To Train Your Pug Dog” — got noticed by his boss, who told him to choose between making cheapo pug training videos and his “multiple six figures” salary. Baler chose pugs.

The key to Baler’s successful move into affiliate marketing was something called Clickbank. Clickbank offers thousands of products, often some kind of informational guide, which affiliate marketers can pay for the right to market. The site accepts a wide variety of products in all kinds of niches,” so affiliate marketers, almost always sales people rather than experts in the industry they’re marketing for, may not be able to tell if what they’re hawking is actually good (in an email, Clickbank said that they use a “product review process” that “aligns with industry standards.”) From a financial point of view, it doesn’t matter: producers sell their “books,” affiliate marketers have something to market, and Clickbank gets a cut of the sales plus flat fees for using the service.

The 4Patriots empire grew out of Baler’s ClickBank experiments. His first really successful Clickbank campaign was Earth4Energy, a guide to going off-grid that he found on Clickbank — and one that many other Clickbank marketers hawk in various guises. If you look at the site, it’s basically identical to Power4Patriots, only with a different voice and different persona delivering the sales pitch.

Initially, Reboot Marketing ran sites like and alongside its energy product. But in 2011, Baler experienced a revelation:

In the conservative news space, there’s a company called Newsmax, which is definitely worth checking out. It’s a very large website and newsletter company and, this tends to be a more expensive buy to do emails and banner ads, anywhere from several thousand up to ten thousand for one drop. But they have a very large list of kind of affluent, conservative men who surprisingly like to buy a lot of stuff online.

These “fifty year old dude[s] looking to lose some weight” — his description of his customer base — became Baler’s “niche,” as affiliate marketers say. Power4Patriots was born at the end of 2011, and it proved so successful that he added SurvivalSeeds4Patriots in 2012. He filed paperwork listing the non-4Patriots side of his business as “inactive” near the end of that year, and Food4Patriots came to life in early 2013. Baler doesn’t appear to have looked back since.

Food4Patriots and SurvivalSeeds4Patriots expand the business beyond Clickbank-style infoguides. Baler buys kits from My Patriot Supply, a preserved food and seed company, and then sells them for about three times the original price. For instance, the Reboot 3 Month package is listed on My Patriot Supply for $183.54; the Food4Patriots 3-month supply will run you a cool $497. All Baler does is drench someone else’s stuff in paranoid anti-Obama finery and advertise it around the conservative mediasphere using a likely fictional life story.

Baler’s looking to expand. Reboot posted an ad several weeks ago for a new copy writer, presumably to pen Frank Bates fan-fiction. They’re looking for someone who can “understand the world of our prospect” — that is, “55+ years old conservatives in ‘red’ states with a strong sense of self-reliance.”

“God bless,” Baler chuckled in one of his interviews, “they are buying.”

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millions of Americans too poor for Obamacare - Supr Court allowed @gop controlled states to opt out and not expand medicare


Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling and staunch Republican resistance, Marc Alphonse, an unemployed 40-year-old Marine veteran who is essentially homeless, cannot get health insurance under Obamacare.

Three years ago, Alphonse learned he has a kidney disorder that will deteriorate into kidney failure, and possibly prove fatal, if left untreated. As it stands now, he suffers from bouts of nausea caused by his dysfunctional kidneys, and he's dogged by an old knee injury that limits his job prospects. He gets by on $400 a month in unemployment benefits, and his family can no longer afford housing in their home city of Miami. Alphonse's 28-year-old wife, Danielle, and three young children are staying with relatives while Alphonse couch surfs.

"I live from family to family until I'm able to get myself situated," he told The Huffington Post.

Alphonse is one of nearly 5 million uninsured Americans caught in a cruel gap that renders some Americans "too poor for Obamacare."

Broken Promise

Obamacare was supposed to make health coverage affordable, or even free, for low-income Americans. The law's official name is the Affordable Care Act. However, the Supreme Court tossed a huge obstacle in the path of that goal in 2012, ruling that the states could opt out of one of Obamacare's crucial provisions: The expansion of Medicaid coverage to anyone making less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,300 a year for a single person. Since the court's ruling, 24 states, including Florida, chose not to expand the program.

Under the pre-Obamacare rules, eligibility for the program typically was limited to low-income children, pregnant women, parents caring for children at home, and adults with disabilities. Without the law's expansion, an adult without a disability who isn't living with their children -- like Alphonse -- doesn't qualify for Medicaid, no matter how poor he or she is.

For those who don't qualify for Medicaid coverage, Obamacare offers tax credits for private health plans sold through the law's health insurance exchange marketplaces. But those subsidies are available only to those making between the poverty level, or about $11,500 for an individual, and four times that amount. In states not expanding Medicaid, people who earn less than poverty wages get nothing.

In Alphonse's case, his family is trying to survive on his unemployment insurance. It amounts to $4,800 a year -- far below the poverty level, which is $27,570 for a family of five. Even the unemployment benefits will run out in March.

'People Break Down In Tears'

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) launched his political career in 2009 as a health care reform antagonist. Originally, he opposed the Medicaid expansion, but he then changed his mind. Last year, Scott and the majority-Republican state Senate backed a plan to accept federal dollars to expand the program. The GOP-led state House of Representatives refused to go along.

Now, 764,000 low-income adults in Florida will remain without insurance because of the coverage gap, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. And they're beginning to understand the tragic consequences of that public battle. At Miami's Borinquen Medical Centers for low-income and uninsured patients, Jason Connor sees hopes crushed as people who thought Obamacare could help them at long last learn otherwise.

"We've had people break down in tears at our desk," said Connor, who is under contract with the community health centers to do Affordable Care Act outreach and enrollment activities through his company, Choice Returns.

Seventy-eight percent of the 50,000 patients that Borinquen Medical Centers treat every year are uninsured, Connor said. About 20 percent of those who visit their facilities looking to apply for benefits fall into the coverage gap, he added.

"Folks are frustrated and they're angry, and they'll curse at you even though you have nothing to do with it," he said.

GOP Revolts

When the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of the Medicaid expansion, Florida, Texas and nearly the entire South turned away billions in federal dollars offered for broadening the program, citing budgetary concerns and resistance to Obamacare itself. The federal government will pay the full cost of the Medicaid expansion through 2016, after which its share will be no less than 90 percent.

These decisions by governors and legislators essentially consigned a huge swath of the very poor to a life of extreme insecurity.

"It's very frustrating," said Alphonse, who last worked as a security guard until being laid off 10 months ago. "It's kind of odd where an individual that has an opportunity to help millions of people in their own state, and they just totally refuse to do it."

Florida's legislature is poised to take up the Medicaid expansion again during this year's session, but the political dynamics don't appear to have changed much since last year. Meanwhile, one-quarter of Florida's population (under the age of 65) is without health insurance -- the second-highest of all the states behind Texas. In Miami-Dade County, where Alphonse lives, the uninsured rate was an astonishing 34 percent in 2011, the most recent year county-level data were available.

Where Are The Uninsured? florida medicaid uninsured This map shows the percent of uninsured in each U.S. county in 2011. The data includes all incomes, races, and both sexes for people under age 65. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

'I Just Try To Live Every Day'

Unable to afford medical care or insurance, Alphonse hasn't followed up on the warning he received about his kidneys from a doctor treating a knee injury he suffered in 2011 while working as a security guard. Alphonse was told he needed to see a kidney specialist and start getting treatments, or he'd risk the condition worsening to the point he'd need dialysis or a transplant.

"It's extremely scary, but I try not to think about it. I just try to live every day because it's what you have to do to survive," Alphonse said.

A few years ago, Alphonse broke his hand and faced a $1,000 emergency room bill that destroyed his credit. He's afraid to rack up medical bills now. Even copayments as low as $20 at community health centers, which charge low-income patients on a sliding scale, are unaffordable, he said. He's applying for health benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, but he may not meet the program's eligibility rules.

While hospitals can't turn away patients in need of emergency treatments, they aren't required to provide the kind of comprehensive care needed for someone with a serious medical condition.

"If you're really sick, you can fall through the cracks of the safety net system," said Lise Federman, a health policy specialist at Florida Legal Services in Miami. "People who have chronic conditions who need specialist services do suffer." (Florida Legal Services referred HuffPost to Alphonse.)

Taxpayers Still Foot The Bill

Keeping people like Alphonse off the Medicaid rolls doesn't shield American or Floridian taxpayers from the cost of whatever treatments he eventually may receive, like at a hospital emergency room or a government-funded community health center. Unpaid medical bills totaled $57.4 billion in 2008 -- and taxpayers picked up about three-quarters of the tab, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs. Expanding health coverage via Obamacare was supposed to reduce that burden, but the patchwork Medicaid expansion limits the law's reach.

And if Alphonse's condition deteriorates into what's known as end-stage renal disease, or permanent kidney failure, he automatically would qualify for Medicare coverage paid for by the federal government. Although Medicare mainly is for people over 65 or those with disabilities, people who need dialysis or a kidney transplant are eligible under a special rule enacted in 1972.

For those too poor for Obamacare in Miami, watching neighbors who make more money receive subsidized health insurance makes the experience even more painful, said Mayte Canino, a field and volunteer coordinator for Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. Uninsured people are skeptical of Obamacare and unaware of many provisions, and only 49 percent know that states have the option to expand Medicaid, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation this month.

"That even affects them more, when they see that other people are getting help and they're not," said Canino, who helps people sign up for insurance. "Many of them are very unhappy. They blame the law, some of them, for it. They just walk away from it, and they think that's it. They're defeated."

HuffPost Readers: Did you try to sign up for health insurance coverage, but were told that you're not eligible for Medicaid because your state didn't adopt the program expansion, and you make too little to qualify for help paying for private insurance? We want to hear from you. If you're willing to discuss your health care with a reporter, email us here, and tell us if you're facing any medical issues, what your current coverage situation is, and what Medicaid coverage would have meant for you. Please let us know the following information: your name, your age, your city, and whether we have permission to quote you by name. Please enclose a photo if you're willing to have one published.

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Kansas Legislature Introduces Bill to Limit Internet Investment


With Senate Bill No. 304 [pdf], the Kansas Legislature will consider a bill to revoke local authority to build networks. If passed, this bill would create some of the most draconian limits on building networks we have seen in any state.

The language in this bill prohibits not only networks that directly offer services but even public-private partnerships and open access approaches. This is the kind of language one would expect to see if the goal is to protect politically powerful cable and telephone company monopolies rather than just limiting local authority to deliver services.

The bill states that the goal is to

encourage the development and widespread use of technological advances in providing video, telecommunications and broadband services at competitive rates; and ensure that video, telecommunications and broadband services are each provided within a consistent, comprehensive and nondiscriminatory federal, state and local government framework.

Yet the bill does nothing but discourage investment, with no explanation of how prohibiting some approaches will lead to more investment or better services. It does not enable any new business models, rather it outlaws one possible source of competition for existing providers.

The bill contains what will appear to the untrained eye to be an exemption for unserved areas. However, the language is hollow and will have no effect in protecting those who have no access from the impact of this bill.

The first problem is the definition of unserved. A proper definition of unserved would involve whether the identified area has access to a connection meeting the FCC's minimum broadband definition delivered by DSL, cable, fiber-optic, fixed wireless or the like. These technologies are all capable of delivering such access.

However the bill also includes mobile wireless and, incredibly, satellite access. As we have noted on many occasions, the technical limits of satellite technology render it unfit to be called broadband, even if it can deliver a specific amount of Mbps. Satellite just does not allow the rapid two-way transmitting of information common to modern Internet applications. Mobile wireless comes with high costs, prohibitively low monthly caps, and often only works in some areas of a rural property. This is not a proper measure of having access to the Internet.

The second problem with the fake unserved exemption is the challenge of demonstrating an area meets it. If one suspected that a territory with over 90% of the residents did not meet the overly broad definition, one would have to engage in an expensive survey to prove it at the census block level. Data is not ordinarilly collected at that granular level - and even when it is, it is often based on unverified claims by existing carriers.

Even if anywhere in Kansas qualified as unserved under this definition, the cost of proving it would only add to the extremely high cost of building to such a low density population, breaking any business plan that could attempt it.

This is not the absolute most restrictive bill we have seen revoking local authority to build networks, but it is second. It does allow communities to build networks for public purposes, including schools, which is the differentiator in this case.


These types of bills make a mockery of our political system. Whether to invest in essential infrastructure (or how to) is a decision that should be made at the local level, where people know how their unique mix of assets and challenges relate to ensuring everyone has fast, affordable, and reliable access to the Internet. There is no need for the state or federal authority to overrule local decision-making. The only reason we see it popping up in state after state (most recently Georgia) is because powerful cable and telephone companies want to ensure they face no competition - even in the most rural areas of the country.

This is not a matter of taxes. As we note in a recent fact sheet, most community networks have not used taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, the cable and telephone companies have a history of benefits from the public sector, from ongoing subsidies to having built their networks originally as monopolies protected from competition.

For those new to this issue, I highly recommend our fact sheets on community networks, videos, and our interactive map of community networks.

We have covered many stories in Kansas over the years, including the network in Chanute that has helped many local businesses (see our case study) and a more recent investment by the city of Ottawa.

We will provide ongoing coverage as this bill moves forward.

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ALEC backed proposal: Kansas Legislatures to Stop Google Fiber & make sure cities cannot invest in any broadband network technologies


The State of Kansas could often be said to be one of those places where torturing your residents just makes sense.   While the work against women, children, the disabled, schools and others continues, the state of Kansas Legislatures took on a new target: Stop Google Fiber.   And not just google fiber, make sure that cities cannot invest in any broadband network technologies.

   Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly:

    (1) Offer to provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications or broadband service; or

    (2) purchase, lease, construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service to one or more subscribers.

Let me explain what this means.   When a new provider comes into a market, they generally want some assurances; the right of way from a city, use of public right of ways, and yes, they in many cases will go for city buy ins, like tax incentives or the use of public space for property.

This is VERY true in rural communities, where without city governments investing, there is no broadband internet at all, and in Kansas City, where Google received tax and city help in laying lines and services.

Now, the state of Kansas wants to make sure that the best kind of competition is.. no competition.

The first problem is the definition of unserved. A proper definition of unserved would involve whether the identified area has access to a connection meeting the FCC's minimum broadband definition delivered by DSL, cable, fiber-optic, fixed wireless or the like. These technologies are all capable of delivering such access.

However the bill also includes mobile wireless and, incredibly, satellite access. As we have noted on many occasions, the technical limits of satellite technology render it unfit to be called broadband, even if it can deliver a specific amount of Mbps. Satellite just does not allow the rapid two-way transmitting of information common to modern Internet applications. Mobile wireless comes with high costs, prohibitively low monthly caps, and often only works in some areas of a rural property. This is not a proper measure of having access to the Internet.

By arguing that access to a cell phone = internet access, many areas of Kansas will be stuck with NO internet services, and cities may find themselves in hot water, being forced to get out of the internet business for their citizens.

Chanute has established its own fiber optic network for government use and as a service to local businesses. The city is exploring the possibility of expanding fiber optics to most homes in the community for possible automated metering infrastructure and to provide cable, internet and phone service to individual homes.

The expansion of the fiber optic network would cost the city $20 million and would need a subscription rate of 34 percent of Chanute households to break even in three years, based on information shared at Monday’s luncheon.

City officials have approached communications provider AT&T about installing a fiber optic network in Chanute, an idea AT&T had no interest in when approached in 2009, Gates said.

USD 413 Superintendent James Hardy said he is impressed with the current fiber optic network provided to schools by the city.

Cities which have built out networks, using public funding and businesses to help finance their access, which provides for schools may find themselves on the wrong side of the law, and may suffer reduced funds if they don't get out of the service.

Kansas families and students, who already suffer with internet connectivity issues may find themselves with near little to none.  

I guess, in the mind of state legislators and our governor, who really needs the internet, right?

7:40 PM PT: This piece of legislation may be coming to a state near you.   It's an ALEC proposal.

@gop Conservative Christian Leader Says Single Moms Should Put Their Kids Up For Adoption


In what seems like a single step away from advocating that we take kids away from their single moms by force, a conservative Christian leader is urging them to give up their children voluntarily.

A conservative Christian leader says single moms should surrender their kids to Christian homes with two parents.

Right Wing Watch reports that Southern Baptist leader Richard Land is calling on single mothers to put up their kids for adoption so that Christian households with two parents can raise them.

In a November 23rd article published on The Christian Post, Land urges single mothers across the nation to stop being selfish and hand their kids over to good Christian parents so they can be raised properly, the way he thinks God intended.

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@foxnews @TeamCavuto Neil Cavuto says minimum wage increase will be bad for the economy but offers no proof


Fox News' Neil Cavuto pushed the myth that minimum wage increases harm the economy, claiming that the president's call to raise the minimum wage was at odds with his push to extend unemployment insurance. However, both of these measures work in the direction of creating jobs and increasing economic growth, particularly in a sluggish economy.

On January 28, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, during which he advocated extending emergency unemployment compensation benefits -- which lapsed in late 2013 -- and increasing the minimum wage to $10.10.

On the January 29 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto was joined by Jamie Richardson, vice president of White Castle government relations, and Jerry Storch, former CEO of Toys"R"Us, to discuss the president's call to increase the minimum wage. After Richardson and Storch both expressed their opposition to minimum wage increases, Cavuto implied that the president was giving conflicting messages on the state of the economy, saying "if the economy is so bad that it warrants extending unemployment benefits for the umpteenth time, then surely it warrants going slow on increasing the minimum wage."

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Most Americans now believe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to achieve their goals


Most Americans now believe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to achieve their goals for the United States, according to a new poll by USA Today and the Pew Research Center.

This pessimistic outlook has important ramifications for U.S. foreign policy. If President Barack Obama seeks to use military force in other trouble spots, such as Syria or Iran, he will run into huge opposition from war-weary Americans, pollsters and political strategists of both major parties say.

On Iraq, 52 percent of Americans say the United States mostly failed to reach its objectives and 37 percent say the war mostly succeeded. In November 2011, when the last contingent of American combat troops withdrew, there was more optimism. About 56 percent said the war had mostly succeeded and only 33 percent said it had failed.

[READ: Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria Likely Snubbed in Obama's State of the Union] 

On Afghanistan, 52 percent say that war mostly failed to achieve American goals and 38 percent say it mostly succeeded. The numbers represent a shift from 2011, when most predicted the war would succeed.

"This shows that the public is more attentive to costly wars than we might expect, even when politicians try to ignore the conflicts," political scientist Christopher Gelpi, told USA Today. Gelpi, of Ohio State University, has studied public attitudes toward the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Violence has been rising in both countries as the American presence has diminished.

[ALSO: U.S. Commander: 'High-Profile, Spectacular' Attacks in Afghanistan Likely to Increase]

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama portrayed himself as a peacemaker. He noted that when he took office, the United States had nearly 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Today, all our troops are out of Iraq," he said. "More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan....Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America's longest war will finally be over."

What may not be over, however, are the recriminations and the negative fallout. If the situation deteriorates in one or both of those countries, and especially if either one becomes another haven for terrorists despite U.S. military efforts to prevent it, Americans are likely to turn against other military interventions in the future.

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Bishop Paprocki: says gay people "must be disciplined like children"


"Illinois Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, who held a massive exorcism after marriage equality became legal in his state, believes that gay couples who get married need to be “disciplined” for participating in the “redefinition of marriage.”

“Certainly the redefinition of marriage is an opposition to God’s plan for married life,” Paprocki said of the exorcism in an interview with Life Site News. “So I thought that would be a fitting time to have that prayer, really for praying for God and his power to drive out the Devil from his influence that seems to be pervading our culture."


In 120 Years @gop Republicans Only Cry Tyranny When the Black President Uses Executive Orders


executive orders

For five years  Republicans and their teabagger cohort have thrown around the word tyranny and dictator to ramp up opposition to President Obama for leading the Executive Branch of government while being Black. Leading up to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, there were indications by the White House that the President would announce his intent to use his authority to, among other measures, raise the minimum wage for government contractors to $10.10 per hour through the use of an executive order. Republicans are opposed to any American earning enough to stay out of poverty, and the paltry amount does little more than lift contractors from dire poverty to just poverty. Although President’s have been issuing executive orders for over 120 years, Republicans consider it the height of tyranny and dictatorial power because this President happens to be African American; a cardinal and impeachable sin in conservative circles.

The hypocritical outrage over an  African American President issuing executive orders was swift and absurd from Republicans within minutes of the President’s State of the Union, and there were accusations that the President is shredding the Constitution and circumventing Congress, but what Congress? Do Republicans mean the Congress that cannot do its Constitutional job and work for the general welfare of the people, or do they mean congressional Republicans shredding the Constitution by passing a preponderance of biblical laws targeting women for being women and gays for expecting protections guaranteed in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment?

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rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (r-wa) Lied in her response to SOTU about supporting equal pay & support for women

Thursday, January 30, 2014

US House of Representatives votes to slash $8.7 billion from food stamps


The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to slash the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) by $8.7 billion over ten years, cutting food benefits by an average of $90 per month for 850,000 of the country’s most vulnerable people.

The vote, 251-166, came only two days after bipartisan negotiators released the bill Monday, and the vote passed after only one hour of debate on the House floor.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill Thursday, and to approve it by Friday. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that when the bill reaches Obama’s desk, “he would sign it.” The assault on nutritional assistance comes one day after Obama’s State of the Union speech, which was billed as a major address on social inequality but in fact sets the framework for a deeper attack on the working class.

The cuts are part of the so-called farm bill, a five-year omnibus measure that deals with programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The measure had the full support of the House Democratic leadership, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. Democrat Collin Peterson told The Hill that Pelosi was key in the bill’s passage, saying, “She really worked the bill."

"I think we got it about right," said, Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. “Of course it’s not perfect, if you want perfect, you’ll get that in heaven,” fellow Democrat Tim Walz, who voted for the bill, told Politico .

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives had originally proposed a $39 billion cut to the food stamp program, while the Democrat-controlled Senate version called for a $4 billion reduction. Following the well-worn pattern in American politics, the more draconian Republican proposal served as the baseline for a “compromise” by the Democrats that imposes sweeping cuts to a vital social program and will spell destitution for hundreds of thousands.

“It’s a disaster,” Dan Reyes, coordinator for the Delaware-based Coalition to End Hunger, told the World Socialist Web Site. “This will have a direct impact on people’s ability to feed themselves. We are cutting the budgets of people who need money to pay for food. You can’t look at it from any other angle. What it comes down to is that people are going to have less food to put on the table.”

The bill comes on top of a previous cut in November, which slashed food assistance by $319 per year for a typical family of three, totaling $11 billion through 2016.

Reyes added that the cut to food stamp benefits implemented in November was greater than the operating budget of all the Feeding America member agencies, of which the Delaware Food Bank—which coordinates all local food banks in the state—is one. “Our yearly budget is $15 million, but last year’s cuts slashed food assistance by $16 million,” he said.

Most of the $8.7 billion in food stamp cuts will be implemented by eliminating what the deal’s supporters call, in Orwellian language, a “loophole,” by means of which families eligible for home heating aid received extra food assistance.

“The ‘heat and eat’ program provides extra funding for people who receive home heating assistance to keep people from choosing whether to heat their homes or feed their families,” Reyes said.

“SNAP is already insufficient for its recipients to afford a healthy diet. With each new cut, it is becoming increasingly insufficient,” he said.

Currently, people convicted for drug-related felonies are permanently barred from receiving food stamp benefits. The bill expands the ban to a broader range of felonies, including murder and sexual assault. Additionally, the deal would launch pilot programs in ten states that would require food stamp recipients to be actively looking for work. According to newspaper reports, the proposal would also prevent college students from receiving food stamp aid.

Even before November’s cut to food stamp benefits, demand for food assistance had been surging. According to the US Conference of Mayors, requests for emergency food aid in 25 major cities surged by 7 percent between mid-2012 and mid-2013.

“Food banks can’t put up with the demand as it is,” Reyes said. “Not only are charities strapped for cash, but they can’t meet the demand that is being put on them.” He added, “We have reports from agencies that they’re running out of food, that they’re seeing new people who haven’t had to come to food pantries before.”

Over 80 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the federal poverty line, which stands at an abysmally low $19,530 annually for a family of three. Forty percent of recipients live in deep poverty, defined as below $9,765 annually for a family of three.

The vast majority of food stamp recipients who do not work are disabled, elderly or under-age. The number of people who receive food stamps will continue to rise through 2014, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office.

Over 21 million children, more than 1 in 4, live in a household that receives food stamp benefits, according to the CBPP report, and 9 million people with disabilities receive food stamps.

One in seven Americans receives food stamp assistance, up from 9 percent of the population in 2008 to nearly 15 percent in 2012. The program helps feed 48 million people, up from 26 million in 2007.

On top of the food stamp cuts, the bill slashes $6 billion in spending by cutting almost in half the number of environmental conservation programs run by the Department of Agriculture. The deal also cuts about $19 billion in farm programs, including ending direct payments to farmers, in favor of expanded crop insurance programs.

In addition to cutting food aid for recipients of home heating assistance, the deal further tightens food stamp eligibility restrictions and prohibits the US Department of Agriculture from publicizing the food stamp program to poor families who may not know of its existence.

This draconian assault on food stamp benefits is only the latest in a series of sweeping assaults on social programs due to the action of the Obama administration and both big business parties. This includes the expiration of federal jobless benefits and the sequester budget cuts, aimed at doing away with bedrock social protections, and rolling back the conditions of life for working people to those that existed in the 19th century.

As more people start to notice the inequality gap, the wealthiest among us are getting nervous

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NEW YORK — The co-founder of one the nation’s oldest venture capital firms fears a possible genocide against the wealthy. Residents of Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side say the progressive mayor didn’t plow their streets as a form of frosty revenge. And the co-founder of Home Depot recently warned the Pope to pipe down about economic inequality.

The nation’s wealthiest, denizens of the loftiest slice of the 1 percent, appear to be having a collective meltdown.

Economists, advisers to the wealthy and the wealthy themselves describe a deep-seated anxiety that the national — and even global — mood is turning against the super-rich in ways that ultimately could prove dangerous and hard to control.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats have pivoted to income inequality ahead of the midterm elections. Pope Francis has strongly warned against the dangers of wealth concentration. And all of this follows the rise of the Occupy movement in 2011 and a bout of bank-bashing populism in the tea party.

The collective result, according to one member of the 1 percent, is a fear that the rich are in deep, deep trouble. Maybe not today but soon.

“You have a bunch of people who see conspiracies everywhere and believe that this inequality issue will quickly turn into serious class warfare,” said this person, who asked not to be identified by name so as not to anger any wealthy friends. “They don’t believe inequality is bad and believe the only way to deal with it is to allow entrepreneurs to have even fewer shackles.”

And so the rich are lashing out.

In the latest example, Thomas Perkins, co-founder of legendary Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal over the weekend comparing Nazi Germany’s persecution and mass murder of Jews to “the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’”


These 89 Democrats Voted to Cut $8.7 Billion from Food Stamps


Today, the House passed the 2014 Farm Bill 251 to 166.

162 Republicans voted for it. 63 voted against it.

103 Democrats voted against it. 89 voted for it.

The Farm Bill contains $8.7 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. This translates to a $90 per month cut to beneficiaries. This cut follows November's $5 billion cut from the program, the "hunger cliff" that the Democrats themselves created.

The deal also restricts the USDA from "advertising the SNAP program through [TV], radio and billboard advertisements."

Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz all voted for the bill.

14 members of the Progressive Caucus voted for it: Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Corinne Brown (FL-05), Andre Carson (IN-07), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Sam Farr (CA-20), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Ben Lujan (NM-03), Rick  Nolan (MN-08), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), and Peter Welch (VT).

Two gubernatorial candidates--Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) and Mike Michaud (ME-02) voted for it.

Three senatorial candidates--Bruce Braley (IA-01), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), and Gary Peters (MI-09)--voted for it.

Here is the list of the 89 Democrats who voted for the bill:

Ron Barber (AZ-02)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Timothy Bishop (NY-01)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Bruce Braley (IA-01)
Corinne Brown (FL-05)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Lois Capps (CA-24)
John Carney (DE)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
John Dingell (MI-12)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)
Bill Enyart (IL-12)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Joe Garcia (FL-26)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01)
Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Steven Horsford (NV-04)
Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
Jared Huffman (CA-02)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Robin Kelly (IL-02)
Dan Kildee (MI-05)
Derek Kilmer (WA-06)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Anne Kuster (NH-02)
Rick Larsen (WA-02)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01)
Ben Lujan (NM-03)
Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Sean Maloney (NY-18)
Doris Matsui (CA-06)
Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Jerry McNerney (CA-09)
Mike Michaud (ME-02)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35)
Rick Nolan (MN-08)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)
Gary Peters (MI-09)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
David Price (NC-04)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Bradley Schneider (IL-10)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Allyson Schwartz (PA-13)
Bobby Scott (VA-03)
David Scott (GA-13)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Mike Thompson (CA-05)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
Pete Welch (VT)

Weren't Democrats supposed to be focusing on inequality now? Somehow the party leadership didn't get the message.

Pic Of The Moment: GOP Freaks Out Over Obama Executive Orders For No Reason Whatsoever

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

@barackobama : Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a project that must reject if he is to live up to his climate action rhetoric


“Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

-Barack Obama, January 28, 2014, State of the Union address

These words by President Obama could have been historic. They could have been words that signaled to the nation that he was going to lead it in a new direction, a direction that boldly brought us from the brink and into a safer climate future.

But unfortunately they won’t be seen as such. And here’s why:

“The “all the above” energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades.”

-Barack Obama, January 28, 2014, State of the Union address

That’s right. Just moments before uttering a rousing call to action on climate change, the President trumpeted his “All of the Above” energy policy. He went on in detail to promote the continued expansion of drilling for oil and gas using dangerous extraction procedures such as hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking)…all while ignoring the science that says we must leave more than two-thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Headlines from reports directly after the speech painted the picture: Obama, in Speech, Defends ‘All Of The Above’ Energy PlanEnvironmentalists cringe as Obama touts oil and gasObama Praises ‘All-Of-The-Above’ Energy Strategy In 2014 State Of The Union…and the list goes on.

SOTU actionInstead of the rousing call to action on the greatest challenge of our generation that it could have been, what this speech will be remembered for is the President’s defense of disastrous energy policy that is doomed to fail.

The simple truth is that promoting All of the Above energy policy (nee “Drill, Baby, Drill”) is the latest form of climate denial. You simply cannot  believe the science of climate change and promote expanded fossil fuel extraction at the same time.

President Obama has a decision coming up that can help him change course. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a project that the President must reject if he is to live up to his climate action rhetoric.

As the activists who rallied outside the Capitol ahead of the  speech on Tuesday said, President Obama can be a pipeline President, or a climate champion. But he can’t be both.

tragic: Children are starving in Syrian camp

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Baby Israa al-Masri died of a hunger-related illness on January 11, 2014 in the Yarmouk camp [AP]

Dheisheh, Occupied Palestinian Territories - Ahmed Odeh was watching a YouTube video about the abysmal conditions in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Syria's war-torn capital Damascus. A small girl in the video was crying and shouting, "I'm hungry, I'm hungry."

After watching the video, "I had the idea to make a campaign to help these people," said Odeh.

So he gathered a group of his Palestinian friends from the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, where he lives, and they made a plan. The group decided to start an effort called "Life Line" to collect aid for Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk, which - like many areas in Syria - is surrounded by fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebel factions trying to overthrow him.

The Syrian civil war has now raged for nearly three years with 130,000 killed and no end in sight.  

In the Yarmouk camp, more than 55 people have died from hunger and the majority of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to Abdullah al-Khatib, a Palestinian activist living there. Most people are consuming soup made from water and spices, Khatib said, and some are reportedly eating grass for survival.

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#war on poverty Congress axes $8.6bn from food stamps in farm bill #p2 #tcot


Richer farmers get bigger subsidies in immediate snub to Barack Obama's State of the Union call for action on inequality

Congress has agreed to cut $8.6bn from the federal food stamp program while increasing government subsidies for richer farmers, dealing a swift rebuke to Barack Obama's call for a year of action on economic inequality.

Within hours of the president's State of the Union speech, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to adopt the measures as part of a wide-ranging farm bill that passed by 251 to 166 votes and has already been endorsed by the Senate’s Democratic leadership.

The cuts to federal food stamps come on top of a $5bn cut in November and will reduce payments to 1.7 million of the poorest Americans by an estimated $90 a month.

Republicans had sought even higher cuts but a two-year tussle with Democrats was brought to an end after a compromise was agreed that also included increasing a cap for the maximum subsidy payments that can be awarded to individual farmers from $50,000 to $125,000.

The measures will also add $5.7bn to the cost of a 50% subsidy on premiums for crop insurance and extend a loophole allowing multiple people to claim government subsidies for one farm.

Though helping many poorer farmers too, critics of the bill claimed it disproportionately benefited those with large farms, including several dozen unnamed landowners who are thought to receive more than $1m a year in total support.

“This bill will do great damage to the nation's most vulnerable while it goes out of its way to reopen loopholes for millionaires and billionaires,” said Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut.

“Seniors will have to choose between food and warmth,” she added before the vote on Wednesday morning. “These are our own people and if you vote for this bill you will have to look them in the eye.”

Other Democrats said the $956bn farm bill was an improvement on original Republican demands for a $40bn cut in food stamps. At least 89 Democrats voted in favour of the final bill proposed by a bipartisan conference committee representng both Senate and House.

“This bill is miles ahead of where we started, but it still leaves too many families behind. We should be doing more not less,” said Joe Crowley of New York.

“The fact that an $8bn cut in food stamps is considered a compromise just shows how unreasonable the original demands were. What have we come to when we arguing about how much of a cut to hungry children is reasonable?”

Tim Walz of Minnesota added: “Of course it's not perfect. If you want perfect, you will get that in heaven and this Congress is closer to hell, but I am proud of this compromise.”

Republicans said it was vital for America's farmers that the bill was passed and pointed to an increase in assistance to food banks and reforms to how food stamps were granted as important benefits of the legislation.

“The agriculture committee has got some of the most conservative members and some of the most liberal members and it is important that we found a way to get this passed,” said Austin Scott of Georgia.

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@gop Won the Food Stamp War - Congress is set to approve $9 billion in cuts to food stamps while a record number live in poverty

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"On Wednesday morning, Republicans won a years-long battle over whether to slash or spare food stamps when the House passed the farm bill, a $500 billion piece of legislation that funds nutrition and agriculture programs for the next five years.

The farm bill has been delayed for more than two years because of a fight over cuts to the food stamp program, which is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Last June, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) forced a vote on a bill that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP. But conservatives said the cuts were not deep enough, Democrats said they were far too deep, and the bill failed, 234-195. That September, House Republicans drafted new legislation slashing $40 billion from the food stamp program. That bill passed the House with Republican votes only. After months of negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate, which wanted much lower cuts of around $4 billion, the House finally passed a farm bill 251-166 Wednesday that contains a "compromise" $9 billion in reductions to the food stamp program.

Both the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve the legislation.

Here's why the compromise level of cuts is a Republican win: In addition to the $9 billion in food stamp cuts in this five-year farm bill, another $11 billion will be slashed over three years as stimulus funding for the program expires. The first $5 billion of that stimulus money expired in October; the rest will disappear by 2016. In the months since the first $5 billion in stimulus funding was cut, food pantries have been struggling to provide enough food for the hungry. Poverty remains at record high levels, and three job applicants compete for every job opening.

And yet, despite the $5 billion in cuts that already happened and the guarantee of $6 billion more, Republicans succeeded in getting their Democratic peers to cut food stamps further. This is the first time in history that a Democratic Senate has even proposed cutting the program. Now the upper chamber is expected to pass cuts twice the level it approved last year.

"It's a net loss for Democrats," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tells Mother Jones. "It's absolutely a GOP win," agrees a House Democratic aide.

How did the GOP do it? In November, Dems said that Boehner was interfering with House-Senate negotiations on the farm bill, rejecting proposed legislation that contained shallower food stamps cuts. (Boehner's office denies this.)"

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@Foxnews host Martha MacCallum worth 8mil calls equal pay for women a 'handout' and says, "Women get paid exactly what they're worth"

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"MacCallum said, “I think most women do not want to be treated as sort of a special class of citizen. They want to go every day –  they want to get paid for being a professional for doing their job really well, and they don’t want to be treated like some special group of people who have to be given a little special handout just to make sure they’re OK.”

Colmes responded, “Special handout? It’s equal pay for equal work, it’s having sick leave, it’s having pregnancy leave.”

But MacCallum, who is worth about $8 million and gets paid $700,000 per year, said, “Women get paid exactly what they’re worth.”

Colmes said,  “Exactly what they’re worth? Are they not worth the same amount of money for the same job as men?”"