In his comments endorsing marriage equality, Vice President Joe Biden remarked that he believes the comedy Will & Grace helped educate the American public about the lives of gays and lesbians. In response, Stephen Colbert wrote a new “straight comedy” with characters Will and Graysen called Pussy Hound. Eric McCormack helped Colbert with a reading of the script by portraying Graysen. Watch it:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent letters to various Congressional committees last month criticizing the “unjustified and wrong” cuts to food stamps, health care, and other safety net programs contained in the House GOP’s budget, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), a practicing Catholic. Today, the Bishops sent another letter to members of Congress slamming the GOP’s attempts to cut similar programs in a reconciliation package that will set spending levels for the next fiscal year.
The GOP’s reconciliation program, a result of the Budget Control Act that raised the nation’s debt ceiling last August, includes cuts to programs that help the poor, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Child Tax Credit, and the Social Services Block Grant, which provides money for various aid programs. The proposed cuts fail a “basic moral test” that all budgets should adhere to, Rev. Steven E. Blaine, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wrote in the letter:
The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it is the proper role of government to ?make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on? (no. 1908). Poor and vulnerable people do not have powerful lobbyists to advocate their interests, but they have the most compelling needs.
As you pursue responsible deficit reduction, the Catholic bishops join other faith leaders and people of good will urging you to protect the lives and dignity of poor and vulnerable families by putting a circle of protection around these essential programs and to refrain from cutting programs that serve them.
As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, the GOP’s cuts would affect at least 28 million people, including 2 million who would lose SNAP assistance, 750,000 who would lose health insurance, and 23 million who would lose benefits from the Social Services Block Grant. All 47 million who receive SNAP assistance would face benefit cuts.
The GOP made deeper cuts than required to programs for the poor to preserve the nation’s bloated defense budget, but their deficit reduction efforts are miniscule compared to their attempts to preserve massive tax cuts for the rich. Republicans announced last week that they wouldn’t pay for an extension of the Bush tax cuts, meaning they have chosen to sacrifice beneficial programs for the poor to cut the deficit, while upholding tax breaks for the richest Americans.
A close U.S. ally that hosts the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Bahrain promised reforms after an independent commission last fall cited problems with the response to demonstrations. No tangible steps toward reforms, though, have been initiated. Talks between the government and the opposition failed to get underway, and this February, tens of thousands of demonstrators revived on-going robust protests. Now, the government appears to have had enough. A Bahraini government spokesman, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, told the news agency Reuters:
Because of the escalation in violence, we are looking into the perpetrators and people who use print, broadcast and social media to encourage illegal protest and violence around the country.
If applying the law means tougher action, then so be it.
Al Khalifa’s accusations against protesters must resonate with human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. While few credible reports about the protests cite widespread violence against the government, Rajab’s case offers a window into other charges Al Khalifa levels against the movement. Rajab was already facing charges of participating in an “illegal” demonstration — meaning any demonstration at all in Bahrain — and was on Saturday arrested by authorities at the door of his airplane as he returned from foreign travel.
The new charges against Rajab? An active user of the social media platform with almost 150,000 followers, Rajab was arrested for sending “insulting tweets” about the government.
Today, Amnesty International declared Rajab a “prisoner of conscience.” Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA’s Middle East & North Africa advocacy director, said:
It is utterly ridiculous that the Bahraini government would arrest human rights advocate Nabeel Rajab for sending tweets. Instead of attempting to silence critics, the Bahraini government needs to start listening to what they have to say about free speech and freedom of expression. Rajab is a prisoner of conscience being held solely for expressing his views. He must be released immediately.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights itself warns that another activist — Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja — is in dire straits due to a two-month old hunger strike against his detention. Amnesty chimed in on that case, which involves another 20 activists, as well today, noting: “Amnesty International considers all those currently detained in the case as prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.”
Dave Dayen reported this morning on Greg Sargent's scoop about big LGBT donors withholding donations from the Obama campaign over the President's refusal to sign an executive order on ENDA. Unless I miss my guess, "we have heard from at least half a[...]
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Sometimes, getting drunk is just too much work. Thank goodness someone has finally invented a product that allows you to sit back, spray some liquid into your mouth and bam! ? instant drunken stupor.
Conservationists are celebrating the establishment of a new nature reserve in Colombia that provides the first sanctuary for the endangered golden poison frog, an animal that also has the distinction of being possibly the world?s deadliest animal. Its poison is so toxic that even coming in contact with a paper towel that has touched the frog has been fatal to animals. Although they are only two inches long, it is estimated that each golden poison frog has enough toxin to kill ten adult people within minutes.
Last summer a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology set out to better understand the effects of yogurt on obesity. They were following up on the results of a long-term study from the Harvard School of Public Health that had suggested yogurt, more than any other food, helped to prevent age-related weight gain. The M.I.T. team, led by cancer biologist Susan Erdman and evolutionary geneticist Eric Alm, wanted to replicate the work in mice. [...]
First, the scientists noticed that the yogurt-eating mice were incredibly shiny. Using both traditional histology techniques and cosmetic rating scales, the researchers showed that these animals had 10 times the active follicle density of other mice, resulting in luxuriantly silky fur.
Then the researchers spotted something particular about the males: they projected their testes outward, which endowed them with a certain ?mouse swagger,? Erdman says.
Nevadans will soon see driverless cars being tested on streets and highways.
Google received the first license Monday from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to test the autonomous vehicles. It is believed to be the first such license issued in the country.
The 2011 Legislature passed the first law in the nation to permit testing of driverless cars. But state regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger?s seat during tests.
Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children?s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn. [...]
Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak?s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously ?Where the Wild Things Are,? which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.
Among the other titles he wrote and illustrated, all from Harper & Row, are ?In the Night Kitchen? (1970) and ?Outside Over There? (1981), which together with ?Where the Wild Things Are? form a trilogy; ?The Sign on Rosie?s Door? (1960); ?Higglety Pigglety Pop!? (1967); and ?The Nutshell Library? (1962), a boxed set of four tiny volumes comprising ?Alligators All Around,? ?Chicken Soup With Rice,? ?One Was Johnny? and ?Pierre.?
A panel of three federal judges deciding whether a voter ID law passed in Texas can go into effect over the objections of the Justice Department is criticizing the Lone Star state for delaying the review process. The delays, the court said, will mean the state wouldn't be able to implement its law for the 2012 election unless it meets very specific deadlines.
"Texas has repeatedly ignored or violated directives and orders of this Court that were designed to expedite discovery, and Texas has failed to produce in a timely manner key documents that Defendants need to prepare their defense," the three judge panel wrote in an order yesterday.
"Most troubling is Texas' conduct with respect to producing its key state databases, which are central to Defendants' claim that S.B. 14 has a disparate and retrogressive impact on racial and/or language minority groups," the panel wrote.
The court found that given the previous delays, the only way the trial could go forward is if Texas meets "every single future deadline," so the trial can begin on July 9. So the court ordered that Texas turn over all relevant databases to the U.S. by Wednesday.
Texas, for its part, is framing DOJ's discovery request as a "fishing expedition" put on by "DOJ and partisans who oppose the Voter ID law." Texas alleges that DOJ is "simply using massive information requests in a thinly veiled effort to delay the trial."
The state had argued that discussions that Republican legislators had about passing the voter ID bill should be secret. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division objected to Texas' voter ID law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. An analysis of the state's data found that Hispanic registered voters were either 46.5 percent or 120 percent more likely than average voter to lack a form of photo ID.
Perhaps showing concern about the softening economic forecasts of recent months, President Obama has provided a to-do list for Congress that would, in his words, "create jobs and help restore middle class security." The to-do list includes several ideas[...]
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enlargeCredit: Blue GalA little turnabout for the Heartland Institute.
Right-wingers never seem to understand why people get perturbed when they helpfully compare whatever liberal cause they oppose to Nazis, Hitler, Communists, and that ol' standby, Satan. This evidently is what passes for an intellectual exchange for these folks. And they especially never understand that precisely the same argument can be applied to them as well -- in spades.
Most recently, the Heartland Institute, the noted corporate-backed deniers of climate science, decided that was the kind of discourse they wanted to engage in:
The Heartland Institute has launched one of the most offensive billboard campaigns in U.S. history. The Chicago-based anti-science think tank is comparing all those who accept climate science ? and the journalists who report on it accurately ? to Charles Manson, the Unabomber, and Osama Bin Laden.
The Institute, after being panned by everyone in sight, eventually took down the billboards. But not before they made it perfectly clear that this was a campaign approved by -- and indeed, seemingly the brainchild of -- their leadership. See, for instance, the statement that they posted on their website defending the campaign:
Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world?s most notorious criminals say they ?still believe in global warming? ? and ask viewers if they do, too?
The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).
These rogues and villains were chosen because they made public statements about how man-made global warming is a crisis and how mankind must take immediate and drastic actions to stop it.
Why did Heartland choose to feature these people on its billboards?
Because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ?mainstream? media, and liberal politicians say about global warming?.
The point is that believing in global warming is not ?mainstream,? smart, or sophisticated. In fact, it is just the opposite of those things. Still believing in man-made global warming ? after all the scientific discoveries and revelations that point against this theory ? is more than a little nutty. In fact, some really crazy people use it to justify immoral and frightening behavior.
The best part was the lame disclaimer near the end:
Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants.
The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren?t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
This is pretty funny, considering that the vast majority of professional climate scientists are just that -- scientists. The notion that they are somehow the moral equivalent of mass murderers and tyrants is absurd, far-fetched, and obscene.
But if the Heartland Institute wants to play that game, it's an easy one for the other side to join in on. And they'll lose. Because the worst mass killer of the recent past also happens to be a climate-change denier: Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant far-right nutcase who murdered 77 people less than a year ago. Here's what Breivik wrote about climate change in his nutty "manifesto":
You might know them as environmentalists, enviro-communists, ecoMarxists, neo-Communists or eco-fanatics. They all claim they want to save the world from global warming but their true agenda is to contribute to create a world government lead by the UN or in other ways increase the transfer of resources (redistribute resources) from the developed Western world to the third world. They hope to accomplish this through the distribution of misinformation (propaganda) which they hope will lead to increased taxation of already excessively taxed Europeans and US citizens. The neo-communist agenda uses politicised science to propagate the global warming scam in order to implement their true agenda; global Marxism. Marxism?s ultimate goal is to redistribute wealth from successful nations to failed nations, instead of actually trying to fix these broken nations. Politicised science is being used by the cultural Marxist hegemony to manipulate the unsuspecting masses. They are using our trust and faith in science to spread lies and hysteria that will allow Marxists to implement socialist ?solutions? to a problem that never actually existed.
That's exactly what is happening with the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam; too many people are too demoralised to assess true information about Socialism, Communism, and climate change to allow its use for other agendas on the hands of the useful idiots ?the leftists? as former KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov calls them. Enviro-communism is a new twisted idea of redistribution of wealth through ?environmental? policies and the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 2009 is the perfect manifestation of it. Environmental Justice is the new Social Justice; Climate Debt is the new Redistribution of Wealth, Anthropogenic Global Warming scam is the Communism.
Crap like this is common among climate-change deniers. Breivik also ardently believed in the fake "Climategate" scandal, which he described as "exposing the eco-Marxist scam":
On Thursday 19th November 2009 news began to circulate that hacked documents and communications from the University of East Anglia?s Hadley Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) had been published to the internet. The information revealed how top scientists conspired to falsify data in the face of declining global temperatures in order to prop up the premise that man-made factors are driving climate change. The documents and emails illustrated how prominent climatologists, affiliated with the UN?s International Panel on Climate Change, embarked on a venomous and coordinated campaign to ostracise climate skeptics and use their influence to keep dissenting reports from appearing in peer-reviewed journals, as well as using cronyism to avoid compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests.
Now, ahem, not all climate-change deniers are crazed mass killers. At least not yet. But it's worth pointing out that, while climate change or a belief therein played no discernible role whatsoever in motivating any of the icons of evil that the Heartland folks trotted out (except perhaps the planned appearance of killer James Lee, the Discovery Channel shooter who in fact was motivated by a paranoid nativist fear of anchor babies, but whose image never made it up onto the billboards in any event), the same could not be said of Anders Breivik: He vehemently denied the reality of climate change and insisted it was all part of a Marxist plot. Immigration was Breivik's focus, but denying climate change was a potent part of the toxic brew of right-wing extremism that made Breivik the madman he was.
Let's just say that one can make a much more reasonable argument that rhetoric and beliefs such as people like the Heartland Institute promote -- especially since these beliefs and arguments are profoundly irrational, anti-scientific, and ultimately have an unhinging effect on mentally unstable people whose contact with reality is already distorted -- can have a powerful effect in fueling psychopaths in their violent acts.
One can argue this point, of course. But when the argument is as profoundly stupid as "This madman agrees with you, therefore your belief is that of a madman," there is no point in discussing it any further. Especially when putting the same shoe on their other foot is so easy and obvious.
How's Mitt Romney claiming credit for the auto bailout playing with anti-bailout Republicans on Capitol Hill? It's tricky. Very tricky. [...]
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A plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack a US-bound plane using an updated “underwear bomb” was foiled by an insider infiltrating a terror cell, US officials say. – BBC
?Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations,? the FBI said in a written statement. ?The FBI currently has possession of the IED and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it.? – CIA thwarts Al Qaeda underwear bomb plot near anniversary of bin Laden’s death
ONE OF THE TOP THREE most dangerous leaders inside al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, attempted to strike the United States, but the bomb plot was foiled by the CIA, which was reported on Monday.
“The device and the plot are consistent with what we know about AQAP’s plans, intentions, and capabilities. They remain committed to striking targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the homeland, and Europe. And AQAP is probably feeling pressure to conduct a successful attack to, from their perspective, avenge the deaths of Bin Laden and Aulaqi,” a senior U.S. official said. – CBS News
The new bomb, a sophisticated version of a former “underwear bomb,” was allegedly x-ray proof, so anyone wearing it could have easily gone through airline security without raising any suspicion.
It once again points to the obvious need for the U.S. to consider sophisticated behavioral profiling, like what the Israeli’s utilize, that goes well beyond race or religious affiliation.
In a conservation this morning with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Roger Cressey added more, including the fact that the U.S. had likely penetrated AQAP, which is what led to the bomber being discovered.
The AP found out about the bomb plot last week, but was asked by the White House to hold on the information. They granted the request, but broke the story Monday, a day before the Administration was going to officially announce it.
In a separate event, Fahd al-Quso, a senior Al Qaeda leader, was killed on Sunday by a drone strike.