More than two years before white supremacist border vigilante JT Ready was involved in a deadly rampage in Arizona, the FBI was reportedly told he planned to lead deadly raids on Latino households in Phoenix.
According to the Phoenix New Times, a fellow border activist named David Heppler came forward in late 2009 when he became concerned about Ready's increasingly erratic behavior. He said the well known white supremacist planned to dress up like an agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and lead attacks on Latino house parties with the intent to kill those in attendance.
Authorities believe Ready was the gunman in a mass murder-suicide on May 2 at a house in a suburb east of Phoenix. Investigators have said the massacre was a family argument that turned deadly when Ready opened fire on his girlfriend, her daughter, her daughter's boyfriend and her daughter's toddler before killing himself.
In the story the New Times published last week, journalist Stephen Lemons said Heppler first came to him with the concerns. But because the information involved potential harm to people's lives, the journalist referred Heppler to a local cop, who in turn sent him to the FBI.
"Heppler agreed to become an informant (he says he was not paid) and agreed to wear a recording device and allow his phone to be tapped," Lemons wrote.
Heppler told the newspaper, however, that he ended up having a fallout with the FBI after he blew his cover as a secret informant to one of Ready's associates.
It's unclear how credible Heppler's claims were or how seriously the FBI took him. However, in an interview days after this month's massacre, James Turgal, the lead agent in the FBI's Phoenix office said investigators were looking at Ready as part of an ongoing domestic terrorism probe at the time of the killings.
Turgal said the agency was looking into possible shootings of immigrants in the desert as part of its investigation. Meanwhile, authorities in southern Arizona said last week they investigated Ready but ultimately cleared him in the killing of two immigrants north of Tucson. They said they believe the killings were the work of bandits or a rival smuggling cartel.
Ready was a longtime member of the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the nation. In recent years, he founded a group called the U.S. Border Guard, which organized armed patrols in the Arizona desert. The group would search for immigrants and frequently hold them at gunpoint until legitimate law enforcement would arrive.
Ready also advocated for landmines to be used along the U.S.-Mexican border as a form of immigration control. At the scene of the massacre, federal authorities discovered at least six military-grade projectile grenades that were designed to pierce armor.
Wisconsin's Tea-GOP Governor Scott Walker campaigned on bringing 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin over his four-year term. A little over a year into that, as Minzie Chinn's chart shows, he's barely put jobs into positive territory. Reaching his 250,000 target [...]
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Gov. Scott Walker recommitted Saturday to his pledge to create 250,000 private-sector jobs by 2015, a promise all the more difficult to achieve since he first made it because of anemic job growth during his tenure.
Speaking to the GOP faithful at the state Republican Party?s annual convention in Green Bay, Walker said he believed job growth has been better than government statistics have shown and that he could still meet the 250,000 job vow if he serves a full term [...]
Walker first made the jobs promise during that campaign, but since he took office in January 2011 just 5,900 jobs have been created. New jobs numbers are due Thursday.
'It?s a commitment I made in 2010 and it?s a commitment I make today,' Walker said.
Over the past year, Wisconsin was dead last in job creation.
Do you love carrying your concealed weapon around town, but tire of the discomfort and ridicule you receive from cramming it into your pocket? A Texas cop and entrepreneur has solved the former -- we're less sure about the latter. [...]
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There's a lot of rhetoric on supporting women on both sides of the aisle. There's endless talk about family values. And we're up to our collective necks in jingoistic American exceptionalism.
Just in time for Mother's Day, an annual ranking of the best and worst countries in which to be a mom puts the USA in 25th place, up from 31st last year.The 13th annual State of the World's Mothers report by the Save the Children foundation, out today, examines the well-being of mothers and their children in 165 countries, based on a range of measures, including mothers' education, infant mortality and breastfeeding rates.[..]
The improvement in the USA's rank is due largely to increases in its already high educational status, which benefits the economic potential of women and mothers, says Carolyn Miles, president of the charity.
The USA still performs below average overall and quite poorly on a number of measures, Miles says, including:
- Lifetime risk of dying from childbirth. Mothers in the USA face a one-in-2,100 risk of maternal death, the highest of any industrialized nation.?Mortality rate of children. The death rate for children younger than 5 is eight per 1,000 births, on par with Bosnia and Herzegovina. A child in the USA is four times as likely as a child in Iceland to die before age 5. Forty countries performed better than the U.S.
- Maternity leave policies. Policies in the USA are among the least generous of any wealthy nation. It is the only developed country, and one of only a handful of countries in the world, that does not guarantee working mothers paid leave.
"The U.S. has moved up, but it's still not great, falling near the bottom among most wealthy nations," Miles says.
But here's the deal, we're not among the most wealthy countries. We ARE the WEALTHIEST country. And in the wealthiest country in the world, a child is more likely to die before the age of 5 than in Iceland, a country with only 8 percent of our GDP. There's nothing positive about moving up to number 25 when you consider that. Or when you consider that the country with allegedly the best medical facilities and best trained doctots can boast the lowest rank of all the Western industrial nations in maternal deaths (41st in the world). Why? Because access to health care is becoming increasingly out of the economic reach of so many people. That is a disgrace.
Chris Hayes remarks of the great feeling of fear as you leave the hospital with this tiny little being that you are wholly responsible for. It is a mark of the kind of society we belong to as to how we value the next generation we bring forth: will we offer them nurturing and support, keep them safe and healthy? Or will we simply congratulate them for procreating and send them on their way?
Is there any better infrastructure investment we can make than to give each child the best possible advantage of living in the wealthiest country in the world?
?I don?t for one minute believe she is the organizing force behind this whole thing,? Fitzgerald told the Wisconsin State Journal, which reported that “Fitzgerald said he thinks her husband is one of the main forces behind her campaign.”
Compas, a former journalist and freelance photographer who has been trailing Fitzgerald in polls, hit back hard:
“That is pretty insulting, but it does seem in keeping with his general views on women,” she said. “He doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for them. That’s OK; he can keep underestimating me.”
Compas said that if Fitzgerald really doubts she is a serious candidate, he should accept her invitation to debate. “I have challenged him to five debates,” she said. “If he thinks I can’t handle myself, he should come out and face me.”
Fitzgerald, who voted to repeal Wisconsin?s pay equity law and eliminate all state funding for Planned Parenthood, has already earned the ire of women?s groups across the state, and Planned Parenthood is supporting the recall effort and has endorsed Compas.
Last week, Kaiser Health News tallied which hospitals’ patients cost Medicare the most, analyzing how much hospitals were spending per patient to the national median for May 2010 to February 2011. On average, patients cost Medicare $17,988. But when researchers compared the spending data to the nation’s top hospitals, they found that none of the top “honor roll” hospitals were among the top spenders that were well over the national median. The average spending per patient at a top hospital was $17,808. None of the hospitals were among the top quarter or bottom quarter of spenders of the 3,346 hospitals which Medicare had evaluated, suggesting that higher spending does not equal better hospital care.
In recent years, three of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s four conservatives were charged with ethics violations by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission — Justice Annette Ziegler for presiding over cases involving a bank where her husband was a director, Justice Michael Gableman for running a misleading campaign ad, and Justice David Prosser for allegedly grabbing a fellow justice by the neck. In the wake of these charges, all four of the court’s conservatives voted in a party-line vote not to reappoint the chair of this commission:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court?s conservative majority has decided not to reappoint the leader of a commission working to discipline Justice David Prosser.
Wisconsin Judicial Commission Chairman John Dawson?s term ends Aug. 1. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and Justice Patrick Crooks [Editor's Note: Abrahamson, Bradley and Crooks make up the dissenting bloc on the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court] sent Dawson a letter Friday saying the court had decided it didn?t want him back.
The decision was made in a closed vote. The three justices didn?t reveal the tally, but it takes four votes to make a decision and all three of them said they supported Dawson. That means the four-justice conservative majority, which includes Prosser, did not.
Currently, the only pending ethics charge against a member of the state’s highest court is the charge against Prosser. Ziegler received a public reprimand for her ethical lapse and the charges against Gableman were eventually dropped after the remaining justices split 3-3 along party lines on whether Gableman committed misconduct.
The case against Prosser may get shut down before it even begins, however, thanks to a quirk in Wisconsin state law. Normally, when the judicial commission brings an ethics charge of this kind, a three judge panel is appointed to determine whether that charge has merits. As a technical matter, however, that panel must be approved by the state supreme court itself. Prosser is now trying to prevent such approval from even being given by asking his colleagues to recuse themselves from the case — something one of his fellow conservatives has already agreed to do. If two or more of his remaining colleagues follow along, that will mean that the court lacks a quorum to approve a panel, and the case against Prosser will be blocked by this technicality.
Today, the California Senate will consider SB 1172, a bill that prevents children from being sent to ex-gay therapy and requires all adult clients of the therapy to sign an informed consent form outlining its harms and ineffectiveness. The legislation is the first of its kind, but could serve as important model to protect children in all states from the stigmatizing trauma of trying to repress their sexual orientation.
On Friday, CNN did some excellent reporting on the bill and the therapy in question. One segment featured the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Ted Lieu (D), as well as American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana, who himself is an ex-gay survivor. Then, Anderson Cooper 360 highlighted another ex-gay survivor, Ryan Kendall, and confronted his therapist, the infamous Joseph Nicolosi. Nicolosi claimed he couldn’t even remember having Kendall as a patient, even though Kendall has been a very vocal proponent of gay rights, including testifying against Proposition 8. Watch the segments:
These two reports are worth noting because they both avoided significant pitfalls that plague much of the media coverage around ex-gay therapy. One major problem, as epitomized by a poorly defended NPR report last year, is that reporters often create a false balance, calling ex-gay therapy “controversial” and treating the topic like it’s still open for debate. The other significant problem is that the voices of ex-gay survivors are often not included. In both of these reports, CNN included survivors and avoided false balance by focusing on the scientific reality that the therapy is harmful and ineffective.
Legislation like Sen. Lieu’s bill, supported by appropriately framed reporting like CNN’s, could be the key to closing the book on this ugly anti-science invention of anti-gay activists.
by Sarah Murdock
At a time when 80 percent of Americans believe Congress is doing a poor job, there is an opportunity for lawmakers to take action on an issue that would impact many millions of citizens: flood insurance reform.
And, here?s the amazing part — it?s got major bipartisan support. Like football.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes flood insurance available to coastal and inland property owners for homes and buildings that are mapped in areas of flood risk. It?s a critical service.
Unfortunately, the Program in its current form is fatally flawed. It actually encourages increased risks to people, property and nature.
This flaw is due in large part to subsidized flood insurance that pays people to rebuild again and again in areas where floods and hurricanes put communities, first responders and properties at risk.
To make matters worse, development in flood risk areas has the perverse effect of destroying natural systems that would otherwise provide flood and storm protection to people and properties.
Then there?s the fact that the current program does not emphasize ?preventative-care? solutions that would greatly reduce the cost of flood damage during extreme events. One recent study estimated that for every dollar spent on flood preparedness, five dollars are saved when disaster strikes.
But, here?s perhaps the biggest problem: in a world of increasing severe and erratic storms and floods, as well as sea level rise, these issues are beginning to have more devastating consequences. In 2011 alone, there were 58 Federal flood disaster declarations, covering 33 different states, costing over $8 billion and causing 113 deaths. Both the costs and the number of deaths exceeded the 30?year averages.
What?s more, in a report commissioned by FEMA, findings indicate that there will be a 40 to 45 percent increase over the next century in U.S. areas susceptible to flooding.
Enter The Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2011.
The bill passed the House last summer by a vote of 406-22 and the Senate banking committee unanimously last fall. It needs to pass the full Senate by May 31st, before the flood insurance program is scheduled to sunset altogether.
Last week, I testified before the Senate banking committee on why The Nature Conservancy ? and the diverse Smarter Safer coalition, of which we are a member ? supports the legislation, with a focus on fixing the fatal flaw of the current Program.
The bill will eliminate subsidized rates, allow rates to be adjusted to reflect true risk, and take into account future impacts from increased storms and floods. Currently there are 1.2 million properties (20% of the Program) that are charged premiums well below the value of the insured liability.
This pricing fix works in tandem with the bill?s increased focus on flood mitigation ? the ?preventative care? strategies I mentioned earlier.
The traditional approach to flood protection has been to rely on dams and levees to contain floodwaters, and to build sea walls and bulkheads in coastal areas. While this ?grey? infrastructure plays an important role in helping to secure our communities, it?s expensive to build and maintain. What?s more, an over-reliance on it in the U.S. in the past hundred years has encouraged extensive land development in areas particularly susceptible to floods and storms ? and catastrophic damage when infrastructure fails. And, fail it has. Look no further than Hurricane Katrina.
Instead of relying solely on grey infrastructure, the bill will make it easier for flood insurance grant programs to fund oftentimes cheaper and more flexible ?green infrastructure? solutions ? such as restoring coastal wetlands, oyster reefs, and barrier beaches, as well as restoring river connectivity and restoring forests to ensure sufficient floodplain areas.
The reality is, we?ll need both green and grey solutions. But, right now, most planners don?t think beyond the grey stuff.
And, natural systems give us benefits we can?t get from a wall or levee, such as cleaner water, protection against erosion, more recreation opportunities, and food (bringing back fish and shellfish populations, and maintaining agricultural production).
It?s good policy, and it?s a hit on both sides of the aisle. Time for the Senate to take it to the finish line.
For folks interested in showing support for the legislation, check out our Use Your Outside Voice site.
Sarah Murdock is a senior policy advisor at The Nature Conservancy.