Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pregnant Worker At Pier 1 Put On Unpaid Leave Even Though She Wanted To Keep Working

Kimberly Erin Caselman, who says Pier 1 put her on unpaid leave


Kimberly Erin Caselman, a 31-year-old who has worked at Pier 1 for a little over two years, was given just eight weeks of light duty assignments as requested by her doctor before she says she was forced onto unpaid leave, despite the fact that she wanted to keep working.

After she got pregnant in September, she told ThinkProgress, the company asked her to get a doctor's note outlining any restrictions, which she did. "I had some very mild restrictions," she said, "no lifting more than 15 pounds and no climbing ladders." Shortly after she handed in her note, she got a letter from Pier 1′s human resources department saying that she would be given the eight weeks of light duty but that it wouldn't extend beyond that. She contacted the department and scoured the employee handbook, but Caselman realized that this was the company-wide policy. After that short stint, the company put her on unpaid leave.

The hiatus is putting a financial strain on her family while likely making her future more difficult. "Any additional income besides my husband's, who is the primary breadwinner of the family, is very beneficial, especially now with the new addition," she said. And because she's on unpaid leave now while still pregnant, she's eating into the leave owed her after the birth of her baby. "I am very worried, because next month I will have exhausted my four-month pregnancy leave," she said. "I'm not sure how much longer I have with the company after that is gone."

"My intent was to work until I was unable due to the pregnancy, but I was forced out months before I needed to be," she added.

So on Wednesday, she and the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center filed a class action suit against the company, alleging that it is violating California labor law. Sharon Terman, Caselman's lawyer, told ThinkProgress, "California law is actually quite clear and strong when it comes to protections for pregnant women." The state's Fair Employment and Housing Act, which was expanded to have a pregnancy provision in 1999, requires that employers give pregnant workers reasonable accommodations so they may keep working while pregnant and bans them from putting those workers on involuntary leave. While Pier 1 does seem to have a policy that gives disabled workers with more severe restrictions more long term accomodations, "She's not disabled," Terman pointed out. "She's perfectly fit to do her job."

A Pier 1 spokesperson declined to comment, noting, "As a company policy, Pier 1 Imports does not comment on specific legal matters."

Given that the company's written policy on pregnancy restrictions applies universally, they believe that "a significant number of pregnant workers may have been affected" and are looking for others to join the class action suit.

"My ideal outcome would be for Pier 1′s policy to change so that pregnant women can stay employed," Caselman said. "My goal is definitely to get back to work and start bringing in a source of income again."

Caselman's case illustrates a problem that faces many pregnant workers. Nearly two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant, with more than 80 percent working into their last month. They may be fit to work with some restrictions to keep their pregnancies healthy, but companies still routinely deny them the accommodations they need. The majority need slight tweaks like more frequent breaks or taking on less strenuous tasks, but an estimated quarter million women are denied these requests each year.

Caselman is lucky in that she resides in a state with strong protections. In the rest of the country, pregnant workers are protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but that doesn't have as clear a mandate for how companies must accommodate them. To change this situation, states have been passing bills they call Pregnant Workers Fairness Acts, which Terman pointed out are modeled after California's law. Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Texas, and West Virginia have passed these laws, as has New York City. But a federal version has been repeatedly introduced, only to go no where.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hep C drug Sovaldi costs $1000 a day: drug maker can charge monopoly pricing; US Congress bitches about that but also wont do anything to change patent system


"The Sovaldi controversy reached fever pitch in March, when U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California, and several of his colleagues in Congress wrote Gilead CEO John Martin a searing letter demanding to know why the drug costs so much. Shortly thereafter, Steven Miller, the chief medical officer of St. Louis, Mo.-based Express Scripts, said his company was putting together a coalition to refuse to cover Sovaldi after lower-priced competitors hit the market, which could happen later this year. And administrators for some Medicaid plans are so worried they won't have enough resources to pay for any of the new treatments that they are pleading for financial assistance from their state legislators.

It may be tempting to pronounce Gilead guilty of prioritizing profits over patient need, but many Wharton experts say the blame for high drug prices should be placed on the U.S. health care system instead. "Companies obviously have an obligation to their shareholders to maximize profits," says Patricia Danzon, Wharton professor of health care management. "That generally means doing the best that you can within the reimbursement environment that exists in any particular country. In the U.S., we have established a system of reimbursement for pharmaceuticals that unfortunately puts absolutely no limits on the prices that companies can charge."

Gilead declined to be interviewed by Knowledge@Wharton but said in a statement: "We believe the price of Sovaldi reflects the value of the medicine. Sovaldi represents a significant therapeutic advance over other available therapies, as it has shortened the duration of treatment to as little as 12 weeks and has reduced or completely eliminated the need for interferon injections, depending on the patient's genotype." The company added that the price of Sovaldi plus interferon and ribavirin (which are used in conjunction) is consistent with that of protease inhibitors that are often used to treat hepatitis C."

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right wing radio douche Bryan Fischer "Poor 'Ought To Be Kissing The Ground' Upon Which The Rich Walk"


"...Bryan Fischer read from a recent Wall Street Journal article reporting that the top 1% of Americans account for nearly 30% of all federal tax revenue.

To Fischer, that means that the poor and middle class families in this country "ought to be kissing the ground on which [the rich] walk" because it is the top 1% that is paying for EBT cards and food stamps and federal housing."

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The Tea Party Has Become a Terrorist Group - from


"They've done everything possible to hold our country back economically, threatened to force our country to default on our debt for the first time in history, shut down the government and have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars blatantly trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

But as time goes on, more of these tea party politicians are speaking out against civil rights (even suggesting the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional), pushing for laws that allow for religious discrimination and the anti-government rhetoric continues to expand within the Republican party.

Take for instance the escalating standoff in Nevada where anti-government activists came armed, talked about a strategy to use women as human shields, and Cliven Bundy apparently brought in his whole family (including his 54 grandchildren) to his location in anticipation of possible government action against him for violating federal law.

Because nothing says "good family values" quite like putting your children and grandchildren in harms way while your supporters considered using women as human shields if federal officers decided to enforce federal laws.

And while the situation in Nevada is an extreme instance of anti-government lunacy being represented by these far-right Republicans, I'm seeing more and more people rally in support of such radical, and potentially deadly, actions.

While there's always been those nut jobs tucked away in the most insane corners of our country who hoard guns and "prepare" for the overthrow of the government, these people are now pushing their way into the mainstream with politicians who are actually representing their delusional beliefs.

These people have a sole purpose of destroying all the progress we've made in this country.  Their main goal is to oppose anything and everything related to the federal government because they've been brainwashed into believing that the government is some evil boogeyman that's out to get them."

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The Uninsurance Rate Is Falling Faster In States That Have Embraced Obamacare

The states that have worked to implement Obamacare's key provisions have seen a greater drop in their uninsurance rates than the states that have resisted health reform, according to a new Gallup poll released on Wednesday.

Twenty one states and the District of Columbia have agreed to both set up an insurance marketplace and expand Medicaid, the major mechanisms through which Obamacare seeks to extend coverage to additional Americans. Those states have reduced their population of uninsured residents by an average of 2.5 percent so far this year. The 29 states that haven't taken both of those measures, on the other hand, have seen just a 0.8 drop:


Previous Gallup studies have found that Obamacare is effectively helping lower the number of uninsured across the country. But those gains aren't necessarily being shared equally across states, as some GOP leaders have continued to resist health reform at any cost.

Some states still haven't lifted a finger to implement the Affordable Care Act. It's not hard to see the concrete impact of that policy position. The states that oppose Obamacare have allocated less funding to educate residents about their options under the law, and some have even attempted to undermine the "navigators" who are tasked with helping Americans enroll. That's ensured that the people who live in red states are much less likely to receive information about health reform, even when they seek assistance at a local clinic.

Unfortunately, those people are also the ones who need health coverage the most. The states that have resisted implementing Obamacare already had higher uninsurance rates to begin with, and are home to people who tend to be poorer and sicker than the residents in other states. Before Obamacare, there were already significant health disparities between different states — but GOP-led resistance to reform threatens to make the issue worse. Thanks to the resistance to Obamacare's optional Medicaid expansion, about five million of the poorest Americans have been left with no affordable health care options whatsoever.

Lawyer for occupy wallstreet protestor that was sexually assaulted by cop cannot talk to the press #‎Justice4Cecily‬


A high-profile Occupy Wall St. activist, Cecily McMillan, is facing trial this week and potentially 7 years in state prison after she was sexually assaulted by a police officer in Zuccotti Park in 2012.

Today, the judge ruled that her attorney - Marty Stolar - cannot speak to the press about her case.

Visit to learn more about the case and break the mainstream media gag order.

And LIKE and SHARE the image below to spread the word! ‪#‎Justice4Cecily‬

Friday, April 11, 2014

Condoleezza Rice, defender of Bush-era (and onward) policies about surveillance by wiretapping and other means Joins Dropbox's Board of Directors


Dropbox is probably the most well-known of the cloud storage providers out there, and it's angling for an IPO. As such, it recently made some changes in its management, including a bit of news that is getting a fair bit of attention: adding Condoleezza Rice to its board. Rice's consulting firm has apparently been advising the company for the past year, and the announcement says that the former Secretary of State will help Dropbox navigate "international expansion and privacy" issues. While she's certainly qualified to help with international issues, it's the privacy issues that are raising significant concern among many.
"As a country, we are having a great national conversation and debate about exactly how to manage privacy concerns," Rice says about her new position. "I look forward to helping Dropbox navigate it."
Except, of course, a big part of that "great national conversation" are revelations that involve warrantless spying -- and Rice was a big part of enabling that warrantless spying. When she was Secretary of State, she defended the warrantless wiretapping program by saying:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended Bush's actions, telling "Fox News Sunday" the president had authorized the National Security Agency "to collect information on a limited number of people with connections to al Qaeda."
Except, as we've learned from various leaks since then, the definitions that were used of "limited" and "connections to al Qaeda" in the sentence above are not the same definitions most English speakers would use. The program was not very limited and the necessary connections were barely present. Besides, to this day, no one has given a reasonable explanation for why a warrant shouldn't be used in such situations anyway. If there really are a limited number of people they want info on who have connections to al Qaeda, getting a warrant should be easy enough.

Furthermore, Rice also authorized the NSA to spy on the UN Security Council to find out what they were thinking about the US going to war in Iraq back in 2003.
President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show.

Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency's campaign to spy on U.N. members say then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment.
As for Dropbox, there have certainly been quite a few concerns about how private your data is on the site. When the first slides about PRISM came out, it was noted that Dropbox was about to become a part of the program. And while the fears about PRISM are greatly overstated, Dropbox has been fighting against public perception over this for some time. Dropbox's CEO, Drew Houston, spoke out against the NSA's efforts at the State of the Net conference back in January, and the company recently changed its privacy policies to address concerns about NSA spying. The company has also taken a strong stand saying that it will protect users' data against blanket government requests and backdoors.

Those were all good moves, that should have calmed many people's fears -- but to then appoint Rice to the board, and have her handling "privacy" issues basically blasts a major hole in that. I'm less inclined than some to simply assume this means bad things for Dropbox's privacy efforts in general. But from a public perception standpoint, this move does come across as exceptionally tone deaf by Dropbox. People are already raising concerns, and a basic Twitter search shows a bunch of people both raising concerns and looking for alternatives to Dropbox. And, of course, someone has already set up an entire website about why people should drop Dropbox over this move.

At a time when people around the globe are increasingly worried about American tech firms having too close a connection to the intelligence community, a move like this seems like a huge public relations disaster. While Rice may be perfectly qualified to hold the role and to help Dropbox with the issues it needs help with, it's hard not to believe that there would be others with less baggage who could handle the job just as well.

Hewlett-Packard has admitted to bribery & money laundering in order to profiteer off of lucrative government contracts in Russia


Hewlett-Packard has admitted to creating and using slush funds for bribes, money laundering, and clandestine "bag of cash" handoffs in order to profiteer off of lucrative government contracts in Russia, Poland, and Mexico, according to court documents.

HP's guilty plea carries with it a $108 million penalty — a combination of SEC penalties, as well as criminal fines and forfeitures paid out to the Department of Justice. Thus far no criminal charges have been brought against American HP executives. The multi-agency investigation, which was conducted by multi-national law enforcement partners, the FBI, IRS, and SEC, has revealed kleptocracies in the three foreign governments and corruption and dishonesty among HP corporate fat cats.

"This agreement is the result of untangling a global labyrinth of complex financial transactions used by HP to facilitate bribes to foreign officials," said IRS-CI Chief Richard Weber.

HP has since fired the "small number" of corporate big shots who were involved in the plot, according to HP general counsel John Shultz, who noted that the company "cooperated fully" with the various investigating agencies — a fact corroborated by court documents. A Department of Justice spokeswoman called HP's cooperation "extensive."

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your @gop : Virginia congress candidate Bob Marshall asserts disabled children are God's punishment for abortion


Virginia GOP state delegate and congressional candidate Bob Marshall is standing by his claim that disabled children are God's punishment for women who have an abortion.

"Nature takes its vengeance on subsequent children," Marshall said in 2010. "It's a special punishment, Christians would suggest."

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

@FoxNews Is Defending Tobacco-Cancer Denial


In response to Media Matters' documentation that a group pushing climate change denial has also rejected the known health impacts of tobacco and secondhand smoke, Fox News is suggesting that secondhand smoke is not dangerous.

On the April 9 edition of Special Report, Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway pointed to a report by the "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change" (NIPCC), which was written in an attempt to debunk the United Nations' recent consensus report, to claim that "a torrent of new data is poking very large holes" in climate science. In an accompanying article at, McKelway responded to a Media Matters blog post documenting that the group behind the report, the Heartland Institute, has previously denied the health impacts of tobacco, by claiming that the "Heartland's denial of the dangers of second hand smoke was re-affirmed by a large scale 2013 study":

The NIPCC ["Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change"] report was immediately assailed by administration supporters. The website Media Matters reported that the NIPCC study was published by the conservative Heartland Institute, which previously denied the science demonstrating the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke. (In fact, Heartland's denial  of the  dangers of second hand smoke was re-affirmed by a large scale 2013 study  in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute which found "no statistically significant relationship between lung cancer and exposure to passive smoke.")

Media Matters had actually pointed out that the Heartland Institute once claimed that smoking "fewer than seven cigarettes a day" -- not just secondhand smoke -- was not bad for you, while simultaneously being funded by the tobacco giant Philip Morris. Regardless, secondhand smoke is unequivocally dangerous and causally linked to cancers including lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, the American Lung Association, and the Centers for Disease Control. McKelway cherry-picked one study that found no statistically significant link between secondhand smoke and cancer but did find a trend of "borderline statistical significance" among women who had lived with a smoker for 30 years or more. Meta-analyses have previously found that the "abundance of evidence ... overwhelmingly support the existence of a causal relationship between passive smoking and lung cancer." The Environmental Protection Agency states that it does not claim that "minimal exposure to secondhand smoke poses a huge individual cancer risk," but that nonetheless secondhand smoke is responsible for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths a year in U.S. nonsmokers:

The evidence is clear and consistent: secondhand smoke is a cause of lung cancer in adults who don't smoke. EPA has never claimed that minimal exposure to secondhand smoke poses a huge individual cancer risk. Even though the lung cancer risk from secondhand smoke is relatively small compared to the risk from direct smoking, unlike a smoker who chooses to smoke, the nonsmoker's risk is often involuntary. In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke varies tremendously among exposed individuals. For those who must live or work in close proximity to one or more smokers, the risk would certainly be greater than for those less exposed.

EPA estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year among nonsmokers in the U.S.; of these, the estimate is 800 from exposure to secondhand smoke at home and 2,200 from exposure in work or social situations.

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If you dont know who @DavidHKoch is, read his 1980 Libertarian Party platform as VP candidate: gut law protecting the most vulnerable


What Do the Koch Brothers Want?

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process.

Perhaps, the biggest winners of Citizens United are Charles and David Koch, owners of the second-largest privately run business in America Koch Industries.

Among other things, the Koch brothers own oil refineries in Texas, Alaska, and Minnesota and control some 4,000 miles of pipeline.

According to Forbes Magazine, the Koch brothers are now worth $80 billion, and have increased their wealth by $12 billion since last year alone.

For the Koch brothers, $80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough.  It doesn't appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

It is well known that the Koch brothers have provided the major source of funding to the Tea Party and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

David KochWhat else do the Koch brothers want?

In 1980, David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate in 1980. 

Let's take a look at the 1980 Libertarian Party platform

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

  • "We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission."
  • "We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs."
  • "We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services."
  • "We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry."
  • "We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary."
  • "We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence.  Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service."
  • "We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes."
  • "We support the eventual repeal of all taxation."
  • "As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately."
  • "We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws."
  • "We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended."
  • "We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws."
  • "We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit."
  • "We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency."
  • "We support abolition of the Department of Energy."
  • "We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation."
  • "We demand the return of America's railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system."
  • "We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called "self-protection" equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets."
  • "We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration."
  • "We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration."
  • "We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children."
  • "We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and 'aid to the poor' programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals."
  • "We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households."
  • "We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act."
  • "We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission."
  • "We support the repeal of all state usury laws."

In other words, the agenda of the Koch brothers is not only to defund Obamacare.  The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.

It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party. 

And because of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, they now have the power to spend an unlimited amount of money to buy the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the next President of the United States.

If they are allowed to hijack the American political process to defund Obamacare they will be back for more. 

Tomorrow it will be Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, repealing the minimum wage.  It seems to me that the Koch brothers will not be content until they get everything they believe they are entitled to.

Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, for the sake of our economy, we have got to let democracy prevail.

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Republicans block Paycheck Fairness Act, whine about having to vote on it at all


Senate floor with C-SPAN chyron
As expected, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from moving forward Wednesday morning. The vote was 54 in favor, 43 against, before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his vote to "no" for procedural reasons.  Equal pay is a popular issue, with a strong majority of voters wanting to see new laws to make it a reality, so you might think Republicans would give some thought to backing a bill doing that. But no. Republicans aren't even bothering to pretend that they'd love to support the Paycheck Fairness Act if Democrats would only let them weaken it; they're attacking Democrats for bothering to advance this very popular bill:
The GOP is hoping that voters know better than to fall for what Republicans call Democratic "show votes" in the pitched seven-month battle for control of the Senate. Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said he's even privately chided Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — who's designed much of the Democrats' election-year Fair Shot for Everyone agenda — over how transparently political Democrats have become in the past few weeks in laying out a Senate floor strategy heavy on legislation that has little chance of becoming law.

"This whole thing is really backfiring on the administration and on our Democratic friends because people are seeing it for what it is: It's a transparent political campaign. It isn't actually about solving problems, because the law of the land is already paycheck equity," Cornyn said in an interview.

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Senate @GOP Blocks Paycheck Fairness Act for the Third Time


On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act for the third time. By a vote of 53 to 44, the Senate was unable to move past the 60 votes necessary to override the Republican filibuster.  The vote would have opened debate on the legislation. Every single Republican Senator voted against the measure. Every last one of them.

The bill would prohibit retaliation against employees who share their salary information with each other, which supporters say would eliminate the culture of silence that keeps women in the dark about pay discrimination.  It would also require the Department of Labor to collect wage data from employers, broken down by race and gender, and require employers to show that wage differentials between men and women in the same jobs are for a reason other than sex.

Instead of presenting a valid reason for their obstruction, Senator McConnell deflected blame onto President Obama.

"At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss, all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the vote. "In other words, it's just another Democratic idea that threatens to hurt the very people that it claims to help."

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Study Contradicts GOP Claim That ‘Everyone Can Just Go To The Hospital, Uninsured 2x Likely To Die In ER


Conservatives dismiss the importance of extending health insurance coverage to the 46 million uninsured by arguing that every American already has access to health care in the nation's emergency rooms. "We hear a lot of people talk about the 46 million plus who don't have access, well that's hogwash," Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) told a caller on CSPAN's Washington Journal in April, "Everybody has access, the problem is everybody doesn't have insurance":

- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC): "Well, no one is going to go without health care, because everyone can just show up at the hospital, but that's just not the most efficient way to do it." [Huffington Post, 11/04/2009]

- Rep. Steve King (R-IA): "All Americans have health care. Every single one. And 85 percent of us are insured….you would throw out the liberty of America. Throw out the baby with the bath water of the best health insurance industry in the world, the best health care delivery system in the world. Destroyed by a desire to create a dependency society to steal our freedom." [CSPAN, 10/07/2008]

- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare." [Talk Radio News Service, 7/24/2009]

But a new study published in Archives of Surgery has found that not all Americans are treated equally. Uninsured Americans "with traumatic injuries, such as car crashes, falls and gunshot wounds, were almost twice as likely to die in the hospital as similarly injured patients with health insurance," the study concluded.

Researchers have long argued that uninsured adults face a higher risk of mortality than insured adults, are less likely to seek needed medical care, and are more likely to develop serious chronic conditions. This Harvard team of researchers hypothesized that "given the pervasive evidence of disparities in screening, hospital admission, treatment, and outcomes due to insurance status, a disparity in outcomes in trauma patients (in-hospital death) among the uninsured may exist, despite preventive regulations (such as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act)."

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what @teaparty is about: against Insurance for uninsured and now against ER's treating uninsured


Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a former Replican member of Congress, has a plan to reduce health care costs: Changing federal law to allow hospitals to turn people away from emergency rooms.
"If they really want to get serious about lowering the cost of health care in this country, they would revisit another federal statute that has been there for a long time," Deal told a crowd of dozens at a University of Georgia political science alumni gathering.  "It came as a result of bad facts, and we have a saying that bad facts make bad law."
There's no question that in many situations, emergency rooms are an extremely inefficient way of delivering care, but the problem hasn't been that ERs are open to anyone, it's been that there haven't been other options. And Deal, who not only has refused to expand Medicaid in Georgia but also wants to repeal Obamacare, is staunchly opposed to providing those other options.

In Deal's dream world, he'd kick lower-income people off Medicaid, force people in the individual insurance market to go back to junk coverage, and erect moats around hospital emergency rooms. But he's against Obamacare, because Sarah Palin once said something about death panels.

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@tedcruz @SenTedCruz once said ER's not Medicaid should provide care for uninsured;now backs group that wants ERs to turn away uninsured


"When he was running for office two years ago, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas insisted that rather than expanding Medicaid, Texas should just let the uninsured get all their health care from emergency rooms. The argument that emergency rooms are an acceptable backup for the uninsured has also been used by Mitt Romney, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint and many other prominent Republicans.

But now, some members of the GOP are trying to keep the uninsured from using emergency rooms at all. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is pushing Congress to allow hospitals to turn people away from emergency rooms, and Georgia congressman and US Senate candidate Paul Broun – who previously cited ERs to claim that "everyone has access" to health care – has introduced a bill that would allow ERs to treat only patients who they determine have an "emergency medical condition."

Now, the Madison Project, a Tea Party group that has earned the high-profile backing of Sen. Cruz in its effort to defeat three sitting GOP senators in primaries this year, is also advocating for allowing emergency rooms to turn away anybody not deemed to need immediate emergency care.

In a blog post on the group's website yesterday, Madison Project policy director Daniel Horowitz writes of taking his son to the emergency room only to encounter a waiting room "full of illegals" (although he doesn't specify how he knew the citizenship status of his fellow patients), including "adults who, let's just say, did not look like they were about to keel over."

My wife and I were entreated to the chaos of emergency room care last night after our two-year-old son slipped while climbing onto a high kitchen counter and banged his head on the floor. He had a massive lump on his forehead and we were concerned about internal bleeding. When we drove to the closest hospital, the waiting room was full of illegals. Most of them were adults who, let's just say, did not look like they were about to keel over. Opting not to wait all night simply for a decision whether to put our son through a CT scan, we drove for a half hour in the rain to a hospital that was less likely to be full of those who use ERs for regular care.

Thank God our son recovered and there was no internal bleeding, but in a different situation that extra time could have been critical. Also, if you ever wonder why you get hosed with outrageous bills simply for stepping foot in a hospital, look no farther than the "undocumented" costs of illegal aliens."

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Online Security Flaw "Heartbleed" Exposes Millions of Passwords


An alarming lapse in Internet security has exposed millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive bits of information to potential theft by computer hackers who may have been secretly exploiting the problem before its discovery.

The breakdown revealed this week affects the encryption technology that is supposed to protect online accounts for emails, instant messaging and a wide range of electronic commerce.

Security researchers who uncovered the threat, known as "Heartbleed," are particularly worried about the breach because it went undetected for more than two years.

By Tuesday afternoon, a number of large websites, including Yahoo, Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services, said they were fixing the problem or had already fixed it, according to The New York Times.

Although there is now a way to close the security hole, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned, said David Chartier, CEO of Codenomicon. A small team from the Finnish security firm diagnosed Heartbleed while working independently from another Google Inc. researcher who also discovered the threat.

"I don't think anyone that had been using this technology is in a position to definitively say they weren't compromised," Chartier said.

Chartier and other computer security experts are advising people to consider changing all their online passwords.

"I would change every password everywhere because it's possible something was sniffed out," said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer for Qualys, a maker of security-analysis software. "You don't know because an attack wouldn't have left a distinct footprint."

But changing the passwords won't do any good, these experts said, until the affected services install the software released Monday to fix the problem. That puts the onus on the Internet services affected by Heartbleed to alert their users to the potential risks and let them know when the Heartbleed fix has been installed so they can change their passwords.

"This is going to be difficult for the average guy in the streets to understand, because it's hard to know who has done what and what is safe," Chartier said.

Yahoo Inc., which boasts more than 800 million users worldwide, is among the Internet services that could be potentially hurt by Heartbleed. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said most of its most popular services — including sports, finance and Tumblr — had been fixed, but work was still being done on other products that it didn't identify in a statement Tuesday.

"We're focused on providing the most secure experience possible for our users worldwide and are continuously working to protect our users' data," Yahoo said.

Heartbleed creates an opening in SSL/TLS, an encryption technology marked by the small, closed padlock and "https:" on Web browsers to signify that traffic is secure. The flaw makes it possible to snoop on Internet traffic even if the padlock had been closed. Interlopers could also grab the keys for deciphering encrypted data without the website owners knowing the theft had occurred, according to security researchers.

The problem affects only the variant of SSL/TLS known as OpenSSL, but that happens to be one of the most common on the Internet.

About two-thirds of Web servers rely on OpenSSL, Chartier said. That means the information passing through hundreds of thousands of websites could be vulnerable, despite the protection offered by encryptions. Beside emails and chats, OpenSSL is also used to secure virtual private networks, which are used by employees to connect with corporate networks seeking to shield confidential information from prying eyes.

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.@SenWarren Elizabeth Warren Picks A Fight With @reppaulryan @pryan Paul Ryan & Sets him Straight About Poor and Unemployed Americans


Elizabeth Warren wants a fight with Paul Ryan. Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.) are both considered to be intellectual leaders in their own spheres -- Warren on the populist wing of the Democratic Party and Ryan on the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Both relish data, sweeping lessons from history and the kind of wonkery that has grown popular in Washington.

Warren, in comments at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor's Humphrey-Mondale Dinner on March 29th, worked to frame the debate as one about the character of working people in America. For Ryan, an oppressive nanny state has created coddled citizenry too lazy to find work. For Warren, special interests have successfully written the rules of the game in their own favor, depriving the middle-class of a fair shot.

Warren keyed in on what Ryan recently dubbed as an "inner-city" culture of "men not working."

She began by quoting comments that Ryan made on a conservative radio show last month, stating, "We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with."

Warren took aim at his view of the unemployed. "Paul Ryan looks around, sees three unemployed workers for every job opening in America, and blames the people who can't find a job," she said. "In 2008, this economy crashed, wiping out millions of jobs."

She went on, "Paul Ryan says don't blame Wall Street: the guys who made billions of dollars cheating American families; don't blame decades of deregulation that took the cops off the beat while the big banks looted the American economy. Don't blame the Republican Secretary of the Treasury, and the Republican president who set in motion a no-strings-attached bailout for the biggest banks. Nope. Paul Ryan says keep the monies flowing to the powerful corporations, keep their huge tax breaks, keep the special deals for the too-big-to-fail banks and put the blame on hardworking, play-by-the-rules Americans who lost their jobs."

"That may be Paul Ryan's vision of how America works, but that is not our vision of this great country," she said.

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Chicago Mayor backer billionaire bought up tons of shares in Marriott before Marriott was awarded lucartive contract by City


This piece was reported in collaboration with

On March 5 the City Council voted 46-3 to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to spend $55 million in property taxes on a new Marriott hotel in the South Loop—part of his ambitious development plan that also features a basketball arena for DePaul University.

The vote followed a September decision by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, a state-city entity, to award Marriott the coveted contract to run the new hotel.

Following the council vote, the mayor and his aides crowned themselves wizards of economic development. "The hotel will generate new taxes and jobs while supporting the area's planned revitalization," said Andrew Mooney, the city's planning commissioner.

However, what the mayor and his aides didn't mention—and what has gone unreported until now—is that in the year leading up to the lucrative deal for Marriott, the hedge fund of one of Emanuel's largest campaign contributors bought millions of shares of stock in the hotel chain.

That hedge fund, Citadel LLC, is run by billionaire Kenneth Griffin, whom Forbes last fall deemed the wealthiest man in Illinois. He is famous in the financial world for making a killing in high-frequency trading.

Griffin, though, is not just a financial speculator. He's also a generous political contributor. At the national level he was a major fund-raiser for Mitt Romney, and in February he hosted a fund-raiser at his home for New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

In Illinois, Griffin has donated to former mayor Richard M. Daley (at least $162,000) and former governor Rod Blagojevich ($70,000). He's also a big backer of Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor: Since November, he's donated more than $500,000 to Rauner's campaign. That includes about $49,000 in in-kind contributions for allowing the Rauner campaign to use his private aircraft.

That said, out of all the relationships Citadel has forged with politicians, few appear to be as close as the one the firm has developed with the Chicago mayor behind the Marriott deal.

Griffin describes Mayor Emanuel as his "good friend." Over the last three years Griffin and his wife, Anne Dias Griffin, have together donated more than $210,000 to Emanuel's campaign. And other Citadel employees have donated at least $172,000 to the mayor's war chest.

Additionally, in December, Emanuel appointed Dan Widawsky, then a top Citadel executive, as the city's comptroller, overseeing the Department of Finance.

When asked to comment, a Citadel spokesman said: "We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your story but are going to pass at this time."

Mayor Emanuel's press office did not respond to a request for comment.

On February 19, 2013, Mayor Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn announced that McPier would build a giant hotel not far from the McCormick Place convention center. That May they announced that DePaul would be constructing the basketball arena.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mississippi requies teachers to instruct students that homosexual activity under the 'unnatural intercourse' statute is illegal


"Under Mississippi’s mandated sex-education curriculum, teachers are required to instruct students that homosexual activity under the "unnatural intercourse" statute is illegal, and that a "monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse."

Since 2012, Mississippi has required all school districts to offer an abstinence-centered sex-ed curriculum, although 12 percent of districts have not yet implemented any sex-ed courses, according to a recent study by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy.

The law also requires male and female students to be instructed in separate classrooms and prohibits condom demonstrations in schools.

While several states maintain anti-sodomy laws -- including Alabama, Louisiana and Utah -- a November 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that “Mississippi probably continues to be the most conservative state in the country when it comes to same sex marriage." Only 22 percent of Mississippi voters said they support marriage equality, with 69 percent thinking it should be illegal.

On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a contentious bill potentially legalizing anti-LGBT discrimination throughout the state under the auspices of religious freedom.

"It's the first time in my life that I've actually considered moving out of Mississippi," Jeff White, a founder of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lesbian and Gay Community Center, said on Thursday. "It made me physically ill the past few days, realizing what they're trying to do.""

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'Please allow me to set the record straight. We strongly support equal pay for equal work, and I'm proud that I live in a country where it's illegal to discriminate in the workplace thanks to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964,' said Jenkins. 'Some folks don't understand that women have become an extremely valuable part of the workforce today on their own merit, not because the government mandated it.' Jenkins went on to belittle Democratic efforts on the issue. 'Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns, and find it condescending [that] Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policy,' Jenkins said."



"The SEC has become 'an agency that polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to the penthouse floors,' Kidney said, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Bloomberg News. 'On the rare occasions when enforcement does go to the penthouse, good manners are paramount. Tough enforcement, risky enforcement, is subject to extensive negotiation and weakening.' Kidney said his superiors were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases. The agency’s penalties, Kidney said, have become 'at most a tollbooth on the bankster turnpike.'" [Bloomberg]"

So it's OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare' even as Koch-related groups seek the law's repeal


"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Several big corporations have reaped millions of dollars from "Obamacare" even as they support GOP candidates who vow to repeal the law. This condemn-while-benefiting strategy angers Democrats, who see some of their top congressional candidates struggling against waves of anti-Obamacare ads partly funded by these companies.

Among the corporations is a familiar Democratic nemesis, Koch Industries, the giant conglomerate headed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. They and some conservative allies are spending millions of dollars to hammer Democratic senators in North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and elsewhere, chiefly for backing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his criticisms of the Kochs this week. In a Senate chamber speech, Reid noted that Koch Industries benefited from a temporary provision of the health care law.

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, Reid said, "helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare." Reid asked sarcastically: "So it's OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare" even as Koch-related groups seek the law's repeal.

When Congress enacted the health care law in 2010, it appropriated $5 billion for the temporary reinsurance program. The goal was to subsidize employers' costs for workers who retire before they become eligible for Medicare. Hundreds of employers applied - many were corporations, cities and public universities - and virtually all the money was soon distributed.

"If the Affordable Care Act is so awful," Reid asked, "why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?"

Federal records show that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in early retiree subsidies. That's considerably less than the sums many other employers received. A Koch Industries spokesman said he had no comment on Reid's latest criticisms.

The Koch consortium may be the loudest "Obamacare" critic among the subsidized employers. But many others accepted the subsidies while heavily backing GOP House and Senate candidates, most of who call for repealing the 2010 health care law.

For instance, United Parcel Service received $37 million from the program's subsidies for early retirees. From 1989 through this year, political action committees affiliated with UPS donated $32 million to federal candidates and political parties. Of that, 64 percent went to Republicans, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Union Pacific Railroad's employee health system received $9.7 million in subsidies. Republicans received more than two-thirds of the nearly $20 million in political donations from the railroad's PACs in the 25-year period tracked by the center."

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@reppaulryan @pryan Ryan Plan Gets 69 Percent of Its Budget Cuts From Programs for People With Low or Moderate Incomes


House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget cuts $3.3 trillion over ten years (2015-2024) from programs that serve people of limited means.  That’s 69 percent of its $4.8 trillion in total non-defense budget cuts.

Not much has changed on this front from Chairman Ryan’s budget plan of a year ago, or the year before that.  Then, too, Chairman Ryan proposed very deep cuts, the bulk of which were in programs that serve low- and moderate-income Americans.

The deficit reduction plan that Fiscal Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson issued in late 2010 established as a basic principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or widen inequality.  The Ryan plan charts a radically different course, imposing its most severe cuts on people on the lower rungs of the income ladder.

The Ryan budget proposes $4.8 trillion in non-defense budget cuts through 2024:  $900 billion from non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs and $3.9 trillion from entitlements and other mandatory programs.  These cuts are in addition to the discretionary and entitlement cuts imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act’s (BCA) budget caps and sequestration. 

Cuts in low-income discretionary and entitlement programs likely account for at least $3.3 trillion — or 69 percent — of the $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts — and probably more than that.  As the box below explains, our assumptions regarding the size of the low-income cuts are quite conservative.  The $3.3 trillion figure includes:

More than $2.7 trillion in health care reductions for low- and moderate-income people.  Chairman Ryan’s plan repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to help people with modest incomes buy health insurance, repeals the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and eliminates much smaller ACA-related expenditures.  It also block-grants Medicaid, cutting another $732 billion from that program.  Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million people — 1 in 8 Americans — would lose health insurance or fail to obtain insurance by 2024.  Most of them would be people with low or moderate incomes.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Caterpillar Saved Billions in US Tax By Shifting Profits to a Swiss Subsidiary


Starting in 1999, Caterpillar paid PricewaterhouseCoopers, acting as both its tax consultant and auditor, over $55 million to develop and implement a tax strategy built around redirecting to Switzerland taxable profits from sales of Caterpillar branded replacement parts manufactured by third parties under contract with the company.

Under the Swiss tax strategy, in exchange for a small royalty, Caterpillar transferred rights to the profits from its profitable international parts distribution business to a wholly controlled Swiss affiliate called CSARL. Caterpillar essentially redirected the profits by simply replacing its name with CSARL on its invoices. No personnel or business activities were moved from the United States to Switzerland, and most of the parts business remains in the US.

Prior to issuing the license, Caterpillar had booked 85 percent or more of its non-U.S. parts profits in the United States, where 70 percent of those parts are made and warehoused and where its global parts operation was created and is managed. The license allowed CSARL to sell the parts to Caterpillar’s non-U.S. dealers and pay Caterpillar a royalty equal to only about 15 percent of the parts profits, while keeping the remaining 85 percent on its books in Switzerland. From 2000 to 2012, Caterpillar directed so much of its parts profits to CSARL in Switzerland that it avoided paying U.S. taxes totaling $2.4 billion on parts profits of $8 billion.

“Caterpillar gave its Swiss sub $1 dollar of profits in exchange for 15 cents, a deal no reasonable business would offer,” Levin said. “It didn’t even ask to be compensated for turning over a profitable parts business that Caterpillar took decades to develop. It wasn’t a real business transaction; it was a tax deal pure and simple to shift profits between related parties.”

Caterpillar sent the vast majority of its profits to Switzerland even though only about 65 of the 8,300 Caterpillar employees who handle parts work in Switzerland. That contrasts with the nearly 5,000 U.S. employees who handle parts. None of the manufacturing, warehousing, or distribution activities – the heart of the parts business – exists in Switzerland. Because it lacks the personnel, infrastructure, and expertise to run the company’s parts business, CSARL pays Caterpillar to keep doing the work, reimbursing it for its costs plus a small service fee.

Caterpillar told the subcommittee that sending the lion’s share of the parts profits to Switzerland is justified because its Swiss affiliate performs valuable intangible services. But the report points out that a company executive, under oath, acknowledged that there was no business advantage to the Swiss arrangement other than tax avoidance. The report also shows how Caterpillar, when evaluating the same type of intangible services at another time, found their value to be negligible.

“When Caterpillar and its tax advisers launched this tax avoidance scheme, almost nothing changed in the real world,” Levin said. “The manufacturing workers who make world-class parts, the managers who operate its parts operations, the warehouses where they are stored – none of that changed. But in the fantasy land that is international tax law, tax lawyers waved a magic wand to make millions of dollars in U.S. taxes disappear.”

This type of profit shifting costs the government between $30 billion and $90 billion a year, according to academic estimates cited in a 2013 Congressional Research Service report. The tax practice has become a focus for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Group of 20 nations, who are trying to develop coordinated rules that could be adopted by multiple governments.

The largest U.S. companies have accumulated $1.95 trillion in profits outside the country that haven’t been taxed by the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

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Another Ryan Budget Gives Millionaires Average Tax Cut of At Least $200,000


Read this report in PDF.

As in previous years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has released a budget proposal that includes some specific, enormous tax cuts with a vague promise that the amount of revenue collected by the federal government would somehow be unchanged. There is no way the plan could be implemented without providing millionaires with tax cuts averaging at least $200,000.

The language in Ryan’s budget plan makes clear that he expects Congress to limit or eliminate tax expenditures (special breaks or loopholes in the tax code) in order to offset the cost of his proposed tax cuts, which include reducing personal income tax rates to 25 and 10 percent, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and reducing the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent, among other tax cuts.

For taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million, the benefit of Ryan’s tax rate reductions and other proposed tax cuts would far exceed the loss of any tax expenditures. In fact, under Ryan’s plan taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million in 2015 would receive an average net tax decrease of over $200,000 that year even if they had to give up all of their tax expenditures. These taxpayers would see an even larger net tax decrease if Congress failed to limit or eliminate enough tax expenditures to offset the costs of the proposed tax cuts.

Estimates produced using the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) microsimulation tax model illustrate two scenarios for how the Ryan budget plan could be implemented. In the first scenario, very high-income people must give up all of their tax expenditures, except for those subsidizing investment and savings which Ryan has consistently made clear he would preserve. Even in this scenario, these very wealthy people would receive enormous net tax cuts, as illustrated in the table above. In the second scenario, these very high-income people are not required to give up any tax expenditures, and as a result their net tax cuts would be even large

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The White House Is Not Cool With David Ortiz's Selfie Being Used By Samsung


> on April 1, 2014 in Washington, DC.

"Earlier this week, the World Series champion Boston Red Sox used their day off in Baltimore to take a quick trip to Washington DC to be celebrated by Jay Mariotti’s Frankenstein, President Barack Obama. The event was pretty standard – the Prez gets his own jersey from a championship sports team – but it was highlighted by Jonny Gomes’s amazing star-spangled blazer, and David Ortiz’s seemingly-impromtu selfie with Obama.

Then a crappy thing happened. Because Ortiz took the selfie on his Samsung Galaxy phone, Samsung took advantage of the moment and reminded the world that the Galaxy is the preferred camera phone for the most important selfies ever taken. Because of that cheap plug, I and so many others figured that this was just another shameless advertisement moment that had duped us into thinking that something was actually spontaneous and fun. But out of the ashes of enjoyment rises White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to lay down the hammer of swift American justice on Samsung.

“As a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily news briefing on Thursday. “And we certainly object in this case.” (Via the Boston Globe)

It’s important to note that Carney was asked about this selfie in between questions about negotiations between Israel and Palestine and the shootings at Fort Hood, so I’m really happy to know that we’re working with priorities right now.

“I’m not going to get into the counsel’s discussions,” he said."

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Most Elitist, Disgusting Supreme Court Has Rigged the Whole System in Favor of the Rich


You may have heard about the new book, "Flash Boys" by Michael Lewis, about how the stock market is rigged by super-fast computer trading; or perhaps you saw Lewis tell the story on  60 Minutes Sunday night. 

But it's not just the stock market that is rigged. The whole system is rigged.   

With Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court has doubled down on Citizen's United crushing the last aspect of campaign finance reform. It is now official, or perhaps more "official." Plutocracy = The United Stated of America. The rich will rule at levels beyond our imagination even just a few years ago.  

Justice Breyer writing for the four Justices who don't represent the billionaire class said the decision undermines the political integrity of our governmental institutions"

"It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign. …What has this to do with corruption? It has everything to do with corruption…. Today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve."

Breyer couldn't be clearer.  And we can't be clearer. This is depressing, infuriating, and it is time for us to revolt. Seriously. We can't take this any more. We need to double down on our belief in democracy and fairness, not on the most elitist, disgusting Supreme Court in history --thanks to George Bush.  

Please make a contribution to us and we will fight like hell. But not just to us -- give money to grass roots groups building local power and fighting corporate power; to candidates who are clear they are on the side of the people, not the super wealthy.

The battle just gets tougher. The need gets bigger. The future is truly at stake.  Please help us fight this battle for you and the millions who don't have a voice.  Please make a contribution to AlterNet right now .

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Obama White House Drops A Fact Bomb That Eviscerates @reppaulryan @pryan Paul Ryan's Bogus Budget


"Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is trying to pass off Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) exercise in fantasy math as a jobs plan, “”With this balanced budget, Republicans are continuing to build on our plan to get Americans working again. This fiscal blueprint helps people who work hard and do the right thing by promoting an all-of-the-above energy strategy, overhauling the tax code, repealing Obamacare, strengthening entitlement programs, and beginning to pay down our debt. All of this adds up to more jobs and more security for hardworking people, and less spending and less government in Washington.”

The new Ryan budget has the same ideological mission as all of his previous attempts at faux budgeting. Paul Ryan and the House Republicans are still trying to sell their job creator mythology. At the heart of the Ryan budget is the belief that if the “job creators” a.k.a. the wealthiest Americans are given more, they will benevolently create more jobs and boost the economy.

What really happens when the rich are given more at the expense of everyone else is that the already wealthy get richer while income inequality grows.

The big secret behind the Ryan budget is that it isn’t really a budget. Paul Ryan and the House Republicans aren’t interested in laying out a fiscal vision for the country’s future.

The mission behind Ryan’s budget is a massive upward redistribution of wealth away from those he views as lazy takers."

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