After discussion from FiveThirtyEight readers, looking back and extending an analysis that noted President Obama's approval rating exceeded a theoretical approval rating predicted by history, the economy and other factors.
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Our regular featured content-On This Day In History May 8 by TheMomCatPunting the Pundits by TheMomCatAnd these featured articles-Fierce Advocate by ek hornbeckObesity: America's Costliest Disease by TheMomCatNo Hulu for You by seakitFollow us on[...]
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Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has released a new video showing him rehabbing from his January stroke. The reports about his condition from his staff and doctors over the last few months always struck me as factual and accurate but as somewhat cool and[...]
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Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
This is probably one of the busiest months in a long while, for advocacy / activist groups, Occupy and others. It?s extremely difficult to break through the Wall of Money, and the incessant electoral politics ?news? it funds.
Depending on MSM, you?d likely miss most the following.
May 6-9 Converge for Justice: Occupy Wall Street South – Bank of America
On May 6-9 people … will be converging in Charlotte, NC, home of Bank of America?s Headquarters and their annual Shareholder meeting, to demand an end to their practices that are bankrupting our economy and wrecking our climate.
May 8-19 Occupy TPP
International trade ministers and corporate lobbyists will be descending on (Dallas) Texas from May 8 to 18 for a critical trade summit aimed at rushing the secretive new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement toward completion. The Texas Fair Trade Coalition and our allies are planning to welcome them … .
The May 12th rally and march is the main event while negotiators are in town. It features a permitted rally with trade justice advocates …, followed by a march down to the negotiation site. It has been endorsed by the Citizens Trade Campaign, Code Pink, Communications Workers of America, Dallas AFL-CIO Council, Dallas Peace Center, Friends of the Earth, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, MoveOn.org Dallas, National Family Farm Coalition, North Texas Jobs with Justice, Occupy Austin , Occupy Dallas , Occupy Texas , Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas State Building Trades Council, United Steelworkers, United Students Against Sweatshops, Welcoming Immigrants Network and many others. …
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a
… new international trade and investment pact currently being negotiated behind closed doors between the United States and countries throughout the Pacific Rim. …
Approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been given special ?cleared advisor? status to review negotiating documents and advise negotiators. Meanwhile, the general public has been barred from even reviewing what U.S. negotiators have proposed in our names.
According to protest organizers, TPP is making decisions which will adversely impact working conditions around the world, and environmental and consumer safety policies; deregulate banks, insurance companies and more; concentrate global food supplies in fewer hands; and restrict access to generic medications.
Described as a ?global action,? via May 12:
We demand, firmly but without violence: social justice, wealth distribution and an ethic of commons.
May 18-19 Camp David / G8
When the G8 summit was moved from Chicago ? where NATO is meeting ? to Camp David, the Occupy and other actions seem to have remained primarily on Chicago, though there are some actions listed here, including by Occupy Frederick and Thurmont – Occupy Baltimore. Of course, any G8 protest actions won?t be anywhere near the Camp David participants.
The designated First Amendment areas within the Catoctin Mountain Park were open during the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David in July 2000 and the National Park Service issued permits for protests there. However, when asked about the First Amendment areas for people wishing to peacefully protest the G8 Summit, the superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park Mel Poole said in an interview, ?There are First Amendment areas set aside in the park, but the closure pre-empts the First Amendment activity?.
May 18 ? 21 Chicago / NATO
This is the one that I?m guessing will get the most attention, in part because of crowd sizes, and in part because the security measures being employed (more about that later) are so restrictive. For now, via OWS News:
Free Bus Trips & Call to Action for People?s Summit in Chicago 5/18 …
May 18 ? The People?s Summit
May 19 ? the 99% Solidarity People?s Convention
May 20 ? CANG8 rally and march. …
May 21-23 Whistleblower Summit-Civil and Human Rights Conference
If you only have time to follow one link, make it this one, at OpEdNews:
A Letter to President Barack Obama about workplace violence at the U.S. Department of Agriculture announces the themes of the historic Whistleblower Summit-Civil and Human Rights Conference …
The conference themes are 1) combating Obama?s War on Whistleblowers, 2) fighting Obama?s War on Women, and 3) Count It Up ? adding up the total costs of retaliation and discrimination to taxpayers.
The letter, dated September 29, 2011, written by Lesa Donnelly, Vice-President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees and one of the participants in the conference, begins:
I wrote to you on May 19, 2011, requesting your assistance for women and minorities in the USDA, Forest Service, particularly women in Region 5, California. …
The situation in Region 5 is so dire that we women were compelled to establish our own crisis intervention group. …
Last week, a Native American firefighter was going to quit her job because male firefighters wrote, ?whore? on the wall at her fire station. … This is the same woman I spoke of in my last letter who was sexually harassed, physically assaulted, and forced to urinate in front of the men. …
… Workplace bullying in the USDA and Forest Service is rampant, pervasive, and crosses all lines of gender, race, national origin, physical ability, and sexual orientation. Retaliation is institutionalized.
I?m sure I?ve missed a lot, but even so, I find it encouraging to know so many people are working toward equality and justice, in and out of the very well established corporate / political system. Fighting a way through the wall of money is a long, tough battle. The more people involved, the better.
( Wall of Money graphic via Occuprints )
Since summer is almost here, it's worth reading and then coming to your own conclusion. Despite having the kind of skin that burns easily, I've cut back dramatically on using sunscreen in recent years and instead opt for being a lot more cautious and covering up. Even when I go cycling in the summer, I mix between short sleeve jerseys and long sleeve jerseys that offer sun protection. The...
Throckmorton County is a tiny rural affair in north central Texas. There's no city and the population was 1,641 as of the 2010 census. There are two African-Americans, 152 Latinos, 7 Asians and a Native American living among all the white folks there. Throckmorton, with a long history of lynchings, was considered a "no-go zone" for black Americans. Doesn't look like that's changed much. The population has been steadily dropping. Yesterday the county switched from faux Democrat-- it was a Blue Doggie haven-- to Republican.
In 2008, the state of Texas voted 55% for McCain and 44% for Obama. Throckmorton County only gave Obama 20% of its vote, the identical percentage that voted against the deranged far right incumbent Republican congressman, Mac Thornberry. (Thornberry was reelected with 77% of the vote district-wide, so Throckmorton was even 3 points crazier than the rest of the 13th congressional district. Two years ago the Democrats didn't even manage to nominate an opponent for Thornberry-- and when Rick Perry was beating conservative Democrat Bill White 55-42% statewide in the governor's race, Throckmorton gave Perry a far more generous 74%.
Yesterday evening, at a staged event at the county courthouse-- not as exciting as a lynching, no doubt but people in Throckmorton are grateful for whatever entertainment they get these days-- all the county officials officially switched to the Republican Party. County Judge Trey Carrington, Sheriff John Riley, Treasurer Brenda Rankin, County Clerk Susie Walraven, Justice of the Peace Billy Ray Fowler, County commissioners Casey Wells, Wilton Cantrell and Johnny Jones all drank the koolaid. The featured speakers were Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri. The event was spoiled when God showed his disapproval with sudden thunderstorms.
Commissioner Cantrell said there isn't a Democratic Party in the county anymore. Munisteri said it was the first time in Texas history that a county has gone from having only a Democratic primary to having only a Republican primary. Brad Bellah, the Republican Party county chairman, said that "the significance is that Throckmorton County is still a one-party county, but now it's a Republican county. With the current administration (in Washington), the county didn't want to be identified as a Democratic county." He noted that none of the county officials had to switch their political philosophy when they jumped the fence. That pretty much holds true for almost every Blue Dog, especially the southern ones.
The end of the Democratic Party in Throckmorton County is exactly where Steve Israel, Steny Hoyer, Joe Crowley and the rest of the corrupt DC Dems are taking the national Democratic Party. Blue Dogs are Republicans in all but name. That's the significance of what happened in Throckmorton County last night. And that's why Blue America works so hard to defeat Blue Dogs and their fellow travelers, the way we did in PA-17 (Tim Holden) last month and the way we are now in Albuquerque and Grand Rapids, where we are trying to help Eric Griego and Trevor Thomas win the Democratic nomination against right-wing faux Dems who will one day stand in front of a county courthouse and take off their blue tee-shirts and put on red ones.
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Figure 1. The ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since record keeping began in 1895. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
by Jeff Masters, via WunderBlog
The past twelve months were the warmest twelve months in U.S. history, said NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Tuesday, in their monthly “State of the Climate” report. Temperatures in the contiguous U.S. during May 2011 – April 2012 broke the previous record for warmest 12-month period, set November 1999 – October 2000, by 0.1°F. The past twelve months have featured America’s 2nd warmest summer, 4th warmest winter, and warmest March on record. Twenty-two states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional nineteen states were top ten warm. NOAA said that the January – April 2012 period was also the warmest January – April period since record keeping began in 1895. The average temperature of 45.4°F during January – April 2012 was 5.4°F above the 20th century average for the period, and smashed the previous record set in 2006 by an unusually large margin–1.6°F.
Figure 2. The average temperature of 45.4°F during January – April 2012 was the warmest on record: 5.4°F above the 20th century average for the period, and was 1.6°F above the previous record set in 2006. January – April temperatures have been rising at about 1.9°F per century since 1895. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
April 2012: 3rd warmest on record
April 2012 was the third warmest April in the contiguous U.S. since record keeping began in 1895. Ten states had a top-ten warmest April, and no states were cooler than average. But what’s really remarkable about April was that eight states–Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia–had average April temperatures cooler than their March temperatures, even though their April temperatures were still above the long-term average for the month. These statistics show just how remarkably warm March 2012 was. Most extreme was Illinois, where April 2012 temperatures ranked in the top 20% for warmest Aprils, yet were cooler than March 2012 temperatures.
Figure 3. Temperature rankings for April 2012 in the Contiguous U.S. Ten states had a top-ten warmest April, and no states were cooler than average. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
Figure 4. NOAA’s U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for January – April shows that 2012 had the most extreme weather on record.
Most extreme January – April on record
NOAA’s U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), an index that tracks the highest 10 percent and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 42% during the January-April period, over twice the average value, and the greatest on record. Remarkably, 82% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically, and 68% had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10%, with records going back to 1910. The previous records were 56% (2000) and 57% (1992) for maximum and minimum temperatures, respectively. The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions during January – April was 19%, which was the 17th greatest since 1910. Extremes in precipitation as computed by the CEI were near average for the January – April period.
– Jeff Masters co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. This piece was originally published at the WunderBlog and was reprinted with permission.
JANESVILLE, Wisconsin — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended his budget’s major cuts to food stamps outside a town hall on Friday, telling ThinkProgress that “we think you have to get savings in some of these areas where you’ve had a huge increase in spending.”
Food stamps were a hot topic at his town hall meetings that ThinkProgress attended last week. At nearly every stop, Ryan noted that one in six Americans currently live in poverty.
With the number of people in need increasing, the sensible takeaway is that we as a society need to ensure enough funding so those in poverty are getting enough to eat. But Ryan has a far different take. The rise in poverty levels, due in large part to the financial collapse and Great Recession, has instead led him to believe that programs designed to help those in need like food stamps are no longer working.
It is with this mindset that Ryan justified cutting food stamps by $134 billion in his proposed budget. The House Budget Chairman downplayed the significance of his budget’s cuts in an interview with ThinkProgress, dismissing his proposed 10 percentage point drop in funding as a necessary “fix.”
RYAN: We want to have people go from welfare back to work. That?s why we conjoined in our budget the job training programs, consolidate the 47 different job training programs spread across 9 different agencies to scholarships to go to people so they can get new training.
KEYES: But with something like food stamps isn?t that kind of a necessary thing, to eat in order to work?
RYAN: Right, so under the bill we?re moving right now through Congress, food stamps will have increased something like 260 percent over the last decade instead of 270 percent. You will still have seen a massive increase in food stamps, but we think you have to get savings in some of these areas where you?ve had a huge increase in spending. We have prisoners getting food stamps in Wisconsin. We have people that are becoming eligible for food stamps because of other factors that aren?t eligible food stamps in and of themselves. So we think we need to fix the fact that some of these programs have grown at such unsustainable rates.
KEYES: I think fraud was actually at a record low though in 2010.
RYAN: [Silence] Anybody else? All right, thanks everybody.
Demand for food stamps has certainly increased in the past few years, but this is directly a result of the recession. Even at its height, funding for food stamps accounted for a whopping 0.52 percent of GDP in 2011, hardly an “unsustainable” amount as Ryan claims. As the economy continues to recover and fewer people need assistance, that level is projected to be cut nearly in half, all without Ryan’s draconian budget cuts.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) is still concerned that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has made the military too gay-friendly. He has proposed an amendment (PDF) to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that would essentially create a “license to bully” for military personnel with anti-gay beliefs, with a special layer of protection for military chaplains:
The Armed Forces shall accommodate the conscience and sincerely held moral principles and religious beliefs of the members of the Armed Forces concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality and may not use such conscience, principles, or beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment. [...]
No member of the Armed Forces may (A) direct, order, or require a chaplain to perform any duty, rite, ritual, ceremony, service, or function that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain, or contrary to the moral principles and religious beliefs of the endorsing faith group of the chaplain; or (B) discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain, including denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment, on the basis of the refusal by the chaplain to comply with a direction, order, or requirement prohibited by sub-paragraph (A).
In other words, under Akin’s amendment, any servicemember would have free reign to express anti-gay views, regardless of what consequences they have to unit morale. For example, homophobic officers could intimidate and condemn gay troops serving under them, compromising productivity and creating a hostile environment of disrespect and potential violence. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell may no longer be law, but it seems Akin still wants a military that forces out its gay troops.
Last year, all of the anti-gay amendments offered by Akin and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) were ultimately dropped from the defense budget. Hopefully the same happens this year.
The purpose of the Progressive Information Project is to more widely share resources and information created to advance progressive causes. A lot of good work is being done, but the average progressive often doesn't learn about it or know what is available. This series is designed to help alleviate that problem.
She Should Run has a very simple mission -- get more women to run for public office in the United States. In more detail:
WHY WE NEED MORE WOMEN
It is essential to the health and future of our country that 50% of our population have equal power and leadership. She Should Run is dedicated to helping this country achieve equality in public life for women.
WHERE WE STAND TODAY
Women hold only 17% of the seats in Congress State Legislatures only have 23% women Only 6 out of 50 states have a female governor
The United States trails behind the rest of the world - ranking 94th in the number of women in our national legislature.*
Also, women are 50% less likely than men to seriously consider running for office, less likely than men actually to run for office, and far less likely to run for higher office. (Lawless and Fox, 2005).
Our She Should Run program gets women to think about running and helps them make a decision.
The original project the organization launched is She Should Run In Action:
To increase the number of women in government, we need more women across the country seriously considering running for office. She Should Run In Action informs individuals about the state of women in public office and mobilizes them to take action. Our online movement provides a tool to formally ask women to consider entering public life. The result is a powerful pipeline of women eager to learn more about a career in politics, from school boards to state legislatures to Congress. It is party neutral and designed with massive impact in mind.
For potential and actual women candidates, the organization offers weekly and monthly newsletters, a companion guide with specifics about the decision to run (only for members), connections to state and local resources and a series of tipsheets that are useful for candidates, including: Build Relationships and Skills Now, Determine Where You Can Best Serve, Get Involved With Your Party, Get to Know Campaign Finance, Learn the Basics, Conduct a Personal Inventory, Consult Friends and Family, and Determine if You Can Win.
A new project from She Can Win, in association with Political Parity and the Women's Media Center, is the 'Name It, Change It' campaign designed to track sexism against women candidates in the mainstream media.
Widespread sexism in the media is one of the top problems facing women. A highly toxic media environment persists for women candidates, often negatively affecting their campaigns. The ever-changing media landscape creates an unmonitored echo chamber, often allowing damaging comments to exist without accountability.
We must erase the pervasiveness of sexism against all women candidates ? irrespective of political party or level of office ? across all media platforms in order to position women to achieve equality in public office. We will not stand by as pundits, radio hosts, bloggers, and journalists damage women's political futures with misogynistic remarks. When you attack one woman, you attack all women.
The 'Name It, Change It' program has its own website with numerous tools relating to sexism in the media and a full candidate guide to spotting sexism in the media, the costs of letting it go unchallenged, and case studies of the harmful effects of sexist coverage.
She Should Run's website also contains some key research reports about women candidates and office holders. Vote With Your Purse details political contributions by women and to women candidates. Unlocking the Cabinet examines women appointees at the highest levels of government. There is also a ton of information about women in office.
For more entries, go to the series index. If you have tips, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org