Last night Democrat Ron Barber easily won the special election in Arizona's 8th Congressional district to replace retiring Democrat Gabby Gifford. Barber was Gifford's aide and her chosen successor. His margin of victory bodes well for Democrats holding[...]
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GOP Cong. John MicaTo hell with national security. There's pork in them there hills!Sure, the Transportation Security Agency is meant to stop terrorists from causing another September 11 in which they kill thousands of US citizens, and this time maybe even destroy the White House or the Congress, like they wanted to do last time.But national security is nothing compared to pork...
Currently 16 states, and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. In the second half of 2012, seven more states will decide, either in the state legislature or via ballot initiatives, whether they will join them in legalizing the use of marijuana, in whole or in part.
Illinois - House Bill 0030, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, would legalize medical marijuana on a trial basis. Physicians who diagnose their patients with debilitating conditions could prescribe medical marijuana. Patients, who would have to register with the Department of Health, would be able to possess up to 6 marjiuana plants and up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana. After three years, the Act would expire, meaning that the legislature would have the chance to decide whether to keep it in place.
Massachussetts - Two house bills, one to legalize marijuana for adults over 21 and the other to legalize only medical marijuana, failed to pass the state legislature. Bay Staters have gotten to work getting the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative on the ballot. Their deadline for the 68,911 signatures is right after the July 4 holiday.
Missouri - House Bill 1421 would allow Missourians with debilitating conditions to grow up to three marijuana plants with a yield of up to one ounce per plant. It also legalizes medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. It has not yet been voted on.
New York – The State Assembly will soon vote on Senate Bill 7283, which would legalize ?the possession, manufacture, use, delivery, transfer, transport or administration of marihuana by a certified patient or designated caregiver for a certified medical use?.
New Hampshire – Senate Bill 409, authored by Republican Jim Forsythe, legalizes medical marijuana for patients who meet state-mandated criteria. In early June, the bill passed the state legislature, becoming the first medical marijuana bill to pass a Republican-led state senate. However, Gov. Jim Lynch has said he will veto the bill, necessitatnig further action from its supporters.
Ohio – In Ohio, citizens gathered enough signatures to get the Ohio Medical Cannabis Act of 2012 on the ballot in November, which would create a state commission to regulate medical marijuana, functioning much like liquor controlling commissions.
Pennsylvania The state senate will soon vote on SB 1003, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The bill may be renamed ?The Governor Raymond Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act? in honor of moderate Republican governor Raymond Shafer (1967-1971).
(HT: The Inquisitr)
The Obama administration last year introduced a rule that would extend minimum wage protections to home health workers who, up to that point, had received no guarantee of a liveable wage or fair overtime pay. But Senate Republicans are attempting to block the rule from going into effect:
A group of Republican senators on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at blocking the Obama administration’s controversial efforts to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to 2 million in-home care providers through Department of Labor regulations.
Sens. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., along with 11 other lawmakers, introduced a bill known as the Companionship Exemption Protection Act, to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to preserve the current state of the law’s so-called companionship services exemption.
The bizarre name for the bill — the Companionship Exemption Protection Act — alludes to the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts two groups of workers: casual baby-sitters and those “who provide ‘companionship services’ to people with disabilities and the elderly,” which has come to mean home health workers. But, of course, home health care workers today do far more than provide “companionship.” As ThinkProgress has noted, “Home care workers today provide everything from help with eating and dressing to monitoring blood pressure and vital signs.”
Employment in the home health industry is expected to expand 69 percent by 2020, adding 1.3 million positions. And if the Republicans have their way, it will remain legal to pay those workers below a minimum wage that already doesn’t get a family above the poverty line.
JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is testifying before the Senate Banking Committee today, explaining the trading debacle that caused his bank to lose billions of dollars. Before the hearing could even formally begin, protestors twice interrupted the proceedings. One man initially yelled, “Why don’t you face the people you foreclosed on?” A second group of protesters chanted “Stop foreclosures now!” before being escorted out of the hearing by Capitol Police. Dimon sat emotionless while the protests occurred. Watch it:
In April, the removal of Ohio mom Jen Tyrrell from her position as a Cub Scout den leader purely because she is a lesbian, created a national outrage. Last week, the Boy Scouts of America agreed to consider a proposal to end its nationwide ban on LGBT people and leave the decision up to local chartering groups.
Yesterday, Tyrrell launched a Change.org petition encouraging the CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young — both members of the national board of Boy Scouts of America — to endorse ending the group’s long-standing ban on LGBT Scouts and leaders.
Last night, Ernst & Young CEO and Global Chairman James Turley told CNBC that he supports ending the ban:
TURLEY: Ernst & Young is proud to have such a strong record in LGBT inclusiveness. As CEO, I know that having an inclusive culture produces the best results, is the right thing for our people and makes us a better organization. My experience has led me to believe that an inclusive environment is important throughout our society and I am proud to be a leader on this issue. I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service, however the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse. As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress.
The petition has now been edited to continue to push AT&T Chairman, CEO, and President Randall Stephenson to follow suit.
For more context on the proposed change, check out the ThinkProgress interview with Eagle Scout Zach Wahls.
AT&T’s Randall Stephenson issue a tepid statement to CNBC today saying only:
STEPHENSON: Diversity and inclusion are part of AT&T?s culture and operations, and we?re proud to be recognized as a leader in this area. We don?t agree with every policy of every organization we support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on everything. Our belief is that change at any organization must come from within to be successful and sustainable.
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee has been saying some variation of this since his upfront presentation, but he reinforced it again last week when he said his division had gone back through entertainment history to figure out what themes American audiences might be drawn to during a severe and prolonged economics downturn:
?We thought this was a joke and something we could sell at the upfront? presentation. The network found that in difficult periods such as the Great Depression audiences responded to tales of anger and revenge, romances, screwball comedies, and fairy tales. ?Lo and behold when you look at the big shows that worked for us, they were comedies, stories of revenge and fairy tales, which was fascinating to see.? For this fall he?s optimistic about Nashville, The Neighbors, and 666 Park Avenue, which he describes as ?a very ABC show, a deeply soapy show but it has a twist.?
The way the network’s actually gone about incorporating those themes into its programming is fascinating. There’s nary a straightforward class-war narrative among them, but a strong sense that the elites in any given show are self-cannibalizing.
On Revenge, there are minor upstarts, like assistant Ashley and con man Tyler, who hope to make their way into the upper echelons of Hamptons society, but they’re concerned with preserving that millieu so they can enjoy it. The real threats to upper-class solidarity come from within. Amanda Clarke’s family was destroyed by a conspiracy among her father’s friends to frame him for laundering money for a terrorist organization, when it was actually his neighbors who were guilty?their privilege is founded on the kind of transactions they publicly condemn as noxious. As Amanda, in the guise of Emily Thorne, begins exacting revenge on the people who ruined her life, she finds that some of her enemies, despite their past experience, are still eager to get involved in complex financial schemes, and she uses that propensity against them. When the men of the Clarkes’ circle aren’t making money in a way that carries an inherent risk of dreadful downfall, the women are tearing each other apart: Victoria Greyson, the matriarch of Emily’s stretch of beach is a harpy who doesn’t seem happy unless she has her talons buried deep in the flesh of someone else’s happiness. This is a paradise constructed from rusting siding and rotten struts, dresses sewn from moth-eaten silk. Why wage class war when the system will tear itself to pieces?
The story in Once Upon a Time is similarly a clash of elites, rather than a pure struggle between the powerful and the powerless. In this fairy tale universe, the evil queen’s become Regina, the mayor of a small New England town, and while she clashes with the sheriff Emma Swan (who happens to be the biological mother of the Mayor’s adopted child), the real struggle seems to between her and Mr. Gold, the city’s largest industrialist, and in another world, Rumplestiltskin. In this world and the one they left behind, they’ve pitted different kinds of power against each other: whether elected or anointed, Regina wields the power of the state, while Gold’s control of commerce gives him extraordinary power over the life of the town even after he’s stripped of his magical abilities. The fight between Regina and Emma is vicious and personal, given that the stakes are custody of the child the former raised and the latter bore, and it’s fun to see Emma come into herself as a hero. But the real battle seems to be between Regina and Mr. Gold?their preoccupation with each other alternately harms the people around them and creates space for them to live their lives.
From what I’ve seen, fall show 666 Park Avenue appears to be the same way, a show that takes as its premise that a group of hugely rich New Yorkers got that way because they made a deal with the devil. These shows have in common the idea that while elites can have feelings, they bear some sort of blood taint, and that their power is based in inherently unstable forces or structures. It’s the perfect concept for audiences that feels powerless but frustrated by their circumstances, that wants to see a comeuppance for the architects of their misfortunes but would like to see someone execute them.
Seniors have saved $3.5 billion on prescription drug costs thanks to an Affordable Care Act provision that closes the coverage gap — known as the “doughnut hole” — in their Medicare Part D plans. But if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare later this month, these drug savings could end, according to a drug industry spokesman.
Drug makers pledged $80 billion over 10 years to cut doughnut hole expenses for consumers during the health care reform debate. But without the law’s legal framework, “there are many questions that arise about whether the discount program could continue,” Matthew Bennett, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), told Kaiser Health News:
But if there is no law to ensure the coverage gap discount, drug makers are concerned that other laws might prohibit it, Bennett said.
For example, drug companies could try to offer the discounts on their own but that effort could run afoul of federal antitrust laws that generally prohibit businesses from agreeing together to set prices for their products. An individual drug company could offer Part D members coverage gap discounts, but it would have to steer clear of anti-fraud laws that ban a company from giving something of value to persuade beneficiaries to use its products.
Nearly one in four seniors “reported skipping doses, cutting pills in half or not filling a prescription, simply due to cost,” before health reform became law. And now, if the Supreme Court rules against the measure, it could put their drug discounts in danger.
At the same time, Medicare participants’ loss would be pharmaceutical companies’ gain because they would not have to shell out $80 billion to help fix the prescription coverage doughnut hole. One CEO estimated that closing the gap would cost his company between $20 million and $30 million in annual revenue. But without the Affordable Care Act, that would be $20 million to $30 million coming out of seniors’ pockets instead.
Obamacare is expected to completely close the prescription coverage gap by 2020.
Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney begins a 5-day bus tour on Friday. He’ll cross six different states, focusing on economic issues and the “ordinary concerns of the American people.”
As he has throughout the campaign, Romney will likely talk about why he doesn’t believe that clean energy is good for the country. In recent months, the Romney campaign has attacked American renewable energy companies, lied about the clean energy stimulus, and called American green jobs “illusory” — even with 64,000 clean energy jobs in his home state of Massachusetts.
In fact, those jobs are far from illusory. In the six states that Romney plans to visit on his bus tour, there are nearly half a million green jobs across a diverse range of sectors like wind, solar, land conservation, green buildings, and waste-to-energy.
According to 2010 data compiled by the Brookings Institution, there are 418,512 green jobs in the states on Romney’s bus tour. Below is a breakdown of the number of jobs and wage figures as documented by Brookings:
As the Brookings Institution figures show, these jobs pay more, offer more export opportunities, and are growing at a much faster rate than the rest of the economy. More importantly, nearly half of all these jobs are held by workers with a high school diploma or less.
Jobs that benefit the environment are increasingly becoming a part of “ordinary” life in America. As Romney begins his bus tour, will he continue to call these jobs “illusory?”
Max Frankel contributed to this story.
“In dozens of focus groups we have conducted this month across the country on a wide variety of subjects, when voters are asked where they would like new jobs in their state to come from, the first words out of their mouths are almost always the same ? clean energy and related technology. Voters believe that the clean energy economy is here and is growing, and they want their state to have a part of it.“
Last week, Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin gave up her crown, alleging that the Miss USA contest was rigged, even though emails show her real complaint was the pageant’s new transgender-inclusive policy. Donald Trump and the Miss Universe Organization are now suing Monnin, demanding she pay for her “ongoing defamatory statements.” Even Miss Florida Karina Brez, who Monnin claims saw the list of winners before they were announced, says she only made a joke about such a list that didn’t even include the winner, Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island. Unlike Monnin, Culpo said it would be “fair” for a trans contestant to compete because “it’s a free country.”