Here are the facts. Leader of state legislature has affair with staffer. Affair is found out. Staffer is canned. And now staffer is suing.Add two more facts. Staffer is threatening to reveal identities of all other legislators and staffers who are[...]
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Gov. Tom Corbett (R) says he supports forcing women to have an ultrasound before an abortion because they can just close their eyes.
Guttmacher Institute policy analyst Elizabeth Nash said last month that Pennsylvania's proposed measure is one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills that she had ever seen.
In addition to mandating transvaginal ultrasounds, the bill encourages women to listen to the procedure and view images of the fetus.
At a press conference earlier this week, Corbett said he supported the proposal as long as the ultrasound was not "obtrusive."
"Making them watch, does that go too far in your mind?" one reporter asked.
"I don't know how you make anybody watch," Corbett replied. "You just have to close your eyes. But as long as it's on the exterior and not the interior."
The Pennsylvania governor was also pressed on whether Republican lawmakers were "overreaching" on social issues like the anti-abortion bill, voter ID requirements and a same sex marriage ban.
"The legislature is going to do what the legislature wants to do," Corbett explained. "I'm certainly not going to prevent them from having their debates or try to prevent them from having their debates. And that's the purpose of a legislature."
"It has been clear to me for a long time that we have an independent-minded center of the electorate that will move back and forth between the two ends of the spectrum," he added. "We won't know that result of that until we get to November."
On Wednesday, Corbett's signature made Pennsylvania the first state in 2012 to enact a law requiring an ID to vote.
(H/T: Think Progress)
CNN's Anderson Cooper broke a story last night that is, well, odd. In short, it appears that the former First Lady went so far as to somehow assist in the financing of two cars for two of the trustees that were about to be pardoned. Additionally, it looks as though the former Governor arranged for some of the trustees to get drivers licenses while still in MDOC custody.
The whole thing is very odd, even down to the story CNN has on its website. Tom Freeland over at NMissCommentor.com has a good look at it. Not sure where the story heads from here, but there are obviously some loose ends to tie up.
Many cheered when the Obama Administration intervened and refused to pre-clear Texas' draconian voter ID legislation. And given the risk to disenfranchisement of particularly minority voters, it was the right thing to do. But a pernicious by-product of[...]
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ABC’s What Would You Do? has documented people’s reactions to a number of LGBT-related scenarios, such as same-sex marriage proposals and teens being offered ex-gay therapy. In a recent segment, the hidden camera show investigated how customers at a diner would react if they overheard a teen coming out to his mother as transgender and receiving a very negative response. Watch the heartwarming clip of many individuals coming to the teen’s defense, including a particularly surprising intervention:
by Harald Winkler, reposted from NRDC’s Switchboard
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his budget speech that a carbon tax will be implemented in the next financial year that runs from 2013-2014. The proposal is to implement the carbon tax at a fairly low level, and then define an increasing price path over time. It is a cautious approach but this is finally an announcement that a carbon tax will be implemented, which is a major step for a developing country like South Africa.
[Note: South Africa?s annual carbon emissions were among the top 20 in the world, while their per capita emissions rank them much lower and emissions over time rank lower. Their energy use predominantly comes from coal and four-fiths of carbon emissions are due to energy use and supply.]
While more details are expected sometime this month when the Treasury Department issues its next discussion document, some information on the potential details are available in the South African Budget Review (pg. 56). The next document is expected to contain details on the exact design of the carbon price. A carbon tax of $16 per ton is expected (South African Rand 120 per ton of CO2e) in 2013, with annual increases of 10 per cent through 2019.
However, the effective level of the tax is not entirely clear at this point but it is expected that a portion of each sector?s carbon pollution will excluded from the price. The Budget Review (pg. 196) outlines that all sectors will have 60% of their pollution excluded from the price. And some industries may get greater exclusions from a portion of the rate (i.e., having a lower effective rate). Some energy-intensive and trade-exposed (EITE) sectors?such as cement, iron & steel, and aluminum? will get these larger exemptions. These exemptions would decrease the effective tax rate. For example, the cement, iron and steel, aluminum and glass sectors are expected to pay only 20% of the rate — $3 per ton (R 24). The waste, forestry, and agriculture sectors will be completely excluded from the price (see the figure below for the effective rate over time).
As a result, in 2013 when the price is expected to go into effect, the effective rate will be around $6 per ton (R 48), rising by 10% per year from 2013 ? 2019. Current signals indicate that in 2020 the effective rate will be about $16 per ton (R 120 / t CO2-eq) with the exclusions. They might be revised in further discussion on the carbon tax.
The basis for these exemptions is not clear as our own work has suggested that they be linked to the share of energy as total costs (or carbon intensity). And a structured approach would require that firms seeking a lower tax rate would agree to an emissions reduction plan.
The Budget Review does recognize that it is crucial to recycle the revenue that is raised. Broadly speaking the proposal goes in a good direction. The revenues might be used for energy efficiency and to support low-cost households. The latter is crucial and the modalities of implementing it will hopefully be elaborated, e.g. through an extension of the poverty tariff to a greater diversity of fuels used by poor households.
To have a larger effect in reducing emissions, more will be needed. Based on analysis of carbon taxes we have done, it would seem that current price levels are not enough to change the structure of our economy. Whether it is further strengthened would depend in no small measure how ambitious climate action by other major countries turns out to be, including the U.S.
While this proposal is not perfect, having a rising carbon price of any kind is a major move for South Africa. The details matter so stay tuned.
Harold Winkler is with the Energy Research Center of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He is a leading researcher on climate change and energy policies in South Africa and in international global warming negotiations. This piece was originally published at NRDC’s Switchboard.
The first two days of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament will cost employers about $175 million in lost productivity as workers watch live-streamed games on their computers, TVs, or at home, according to a “conservative” new estimate from a Chicago-based firm. Overall, 32 total games will take place today and tomorrow, with the first starting just after noon and the last likely not ending until after midnight each day. More than 2.5 million Americans will watch the tournament online, while roughly 30 million will participate in bracket contests, the firm estimated. The first two weeks of the NCAA Tournament rank among the lowest for worker productivity each year, according to experts.
President Barack Obama called out the critics of a clean energy future in his fourth energy speech in as many weeks. He laid out plans for reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels, while knocking politicians (aka Newt Gingrich) who “start acting like they can wave a magic wand and you?ll have cheap gas forever.”
Obama challenged the clean energy dismissals and jokes coming from Republican challengers, saying the approach keeps “us stuck in the past”:
If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail — They must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society. They would not have believed that the world was round. We’ve heard these folks in the past. They probably would have agreed with one of the pioneers of the radio who apparently said, ?Television won?t last. It?s a flash in the pan.? … One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone: ?It?s a great invention but who would ever want to use one?? That’s why he’s not on Mount Rushmore, because he’s looking backwards, he’s not looking forwards.
Though Obama has avoided touching climate change lately, his critique of science-blind politicians could easily apply to climate deniers.
The [Daily] Caller's Matthew Boyle warned DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse against ignoring a question about Attorney General Eric Holder and the "Fast and Furious" scandal, an incident in which federal agents were killed by weapons the government allowed to be trafficked in an attempted sting operation.
"Does Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz still have confidence in AG Eric Holder after Fast and Furious?" Caller reporter Matthew Boyle asked in a March 12 email, which apparently went without response ? not an unusual practice from political organizations to news organizations, particularly ones tied to opposing political agendas.
Boyle emailed again two days later with the threat: "I'm giving you until 10 am tomorrow to answer this question, then I'm reporting Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not supporting Holder."
They have a reputation for being environmentally minded do-gooders. But an academic analysis of surveys spanning more than 40 years has found that today's young Americans are less interested in the environment and in conserving resources - and often less civic-minded overall - than their elders were when they were young.
A former Alabama chief justice who was removed for placing a monument to the Ten Commandments in his courthouse won the Republican primary in a bid to get back his job.
Roy Moore won slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary, obviating the need for a runoff. He thanked God for the victory.
While threats of boycotts over content are as old as old media, online social outlets have matured -- both in use and perception -- to the point that major corporations now weigh these campaigns more seriously and with an urgency not seen before. The collective power of social media to specifically target a group of companies has never been more dramatically on display than in the Limbaugh incident, shaking companies as diverse as San Diego-based ProFlowers and Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co.
They're accused of muddying county conventions in Colorado and Iowa last weekend.
In Iowa, a half dozen counties reported disruptions during conventions. The most egregious example occurred in Polk County, where Paul supporters illegally tried to become delegates.
"They were abrasive, offensive, and self-centered," said Kevin McLaughlin, GOP chairman in Polk County.
In Colorado, Ron Paul supporters shouted down Denver County GOP Chairman Danny Stroud, demanding rule changes in favor of their candidate.
"A small, loud group attempted to hijack the assembly and trample on the rights of those who took time out of their busy lives to participate in the political process," Stroud said in a statement to the Denver Post.
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has promised that if he wins the White House gasoline price will drop to $2.50 or even $2 per gallon. The former House Speaker also said that as president, he’d support (and join) an Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Indeed, Gingrich said recently that “the red line is now,” referring to the point at which Iran’s nuclear program has progressed far enough to warrant military strikes.
Price economists have said that a promise to bring down gas prices to that level would be nearly impossible. But aside from that reality, the Hill newspaper reports that oil experts say that an Israeli attack would probably cause gas prices to rise significantly:
An Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear enrichment sites would spike gas prices to between $5 and $6 per gallon, according to market analysts. [...]
?I think you will see $5 and $6 dollar a gallon gas,? said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.
Other analysts agreed that airstrikes would cause a spike in global crude oil prices, and a corresponding jump in U.S. gasoline prices that are currently averaging $3.82-per-gallon. But some declined to predict how large that spike would be.
Indeed, the Council on Foreign Relations released a brief last month (PDF) by oil market analyst Robert McNally of the Rapidan Group looking at how rising tensions with Iran — including a possible military strike — could affect global oil markets. McNally writes:
A military attack by Israel or the United States on Iran?s nuclear facilities would likely lead to a sudden price shock (about $23 per barrel in the first days should Israel strike according to a Rapidan Group survey of market participants) as traders priced in risk of a wider conflict.
If Iran?s energy export infrastructure remains in tact and disruption of the crucial oil transit point at the Strait of Hormuz (which Iran has already threatened to shut in the face of sanctions) is minimal, the price spike would be up about $11 per barrel after 30 days. Were there a prolonged disruption where the International Energy Agency countries opened up their reserves, prices would settle at a $39 per barrel bump after a month. If those reserves remained off the market, a $61 bump can be expected, with at least one of the market participants surveyed responding that the spike could nearly triple the price of a barrel.
President Obama has warned about the dangers of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, including undermining the nonproliferation regime, endangering regional security and risking a bomb falling into the hands of terrorists. But he also stressed just last weekend that ?an opportunity still remains for diplomacy ? backed by pressure ? to succeed.?