UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza will retire today, after leading the campus’ police force during a brutal incident where a line of peaceful Occupy protestors were doused with military-grade pepper spray. Spicuzza has been on paid leave since this incident occurred, as has Lt. John Pike, the officer who sprayed the peaceful protestors. Her resignation comes just over one week after a task force led by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso issued a report criticizing Spicuzza, Pike and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. Katehi has thus far resisted calls for her resignation. A video of the pepper spray incident is embedded below:
Lawmakers in Nebraska voted 30-16 on Wednesday to override Gov. Dave Heineman’s (R) veto of legislation that would restore prenatal care with state and federal funds to “an estimated 1,162 unborn babies each year.” Heineman had rejected the bill because he claimed — falsely — that it would fund groups like Planned Parenthood, even though the organization does not provide prenatal services at its Nebraska clinics.
He condemned the lawmakers for providing “preferential treatment to illegals”:
“Today, the majority of the Nebraska Legislature decided their priorities are providing taxpayer funded benefits to illegal immigrants and increasing the sales tax rate on the citizens of Nebraska,” he said.
“Providing preferential treatment to illegals while increasing taxes on legal Nebraska citizens is misguided, misplaced and inappropriate.”
Interestingly, anti-abortion groups broke ranks with Heineman and pushed for the Senate to override the veto. “People from all different backgrounds came together and said this is about protecting the life and health of unborn children, and did not decide which babies deserve care and which babies don’t,” a spokesperson for Nebraska Right to Life said.
Public support for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan has fallen to a new low. A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds among the all important swing voters, over half, 59 percent, favor withdrawing from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Swing voters make up 23 percent of registered voters.
The numbers in favor of a withdrawal draw even higher among voters who say they will support President Obama’s re-election. Sixty-five percent of Obama supporters say they would favor a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan and Republican voters are also leaning towards removing U.S. troops with 48 percent of Mitt Romney supporters favoring a troop pullout as soon as possible. Only 46 percent of Romney supporters and 28 percentof Obama supporters reported they would favor keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until the security situation stabilizes.
Results from the April Pew poll reflected a record-low support for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan as the U.S. public tires of the decade long war and recent Taliban attacks and U.S. atrocities against Afghan civilians. A new incident made headlines this week when photographs of U.S. soldiers posing with bodies of dead insurgents were published by the Los Angeles Times.
Overall, public opinion on the war has turned more negative in the past month. Since March, the percentage of poll respondents describing the U.S. military’s efforts in Afghanistan as going “very/fairly well” has dropped from 51 percent to 38 percent.
The U.S. public’s war weariness appears to be having an impact on the presidential campaigns where Mitt Romney, who had previously criticized Obama’s war policy as ?misguided and naïve? for announcing plans to hand over primary combat responsibility to Afghan forces next year, has accepted, in large part, the White House’s troop drawdown strategy.
Romney now says that he wants to bring troops home as soon as possible but only when “our general think it’s O.K.” or “as soon as that mission in complete.” In an email to the New York Times, a Romney aide acknowledged that despite the campaign’s frequent criticisms of the White House’s 2014 target for a complete U.S. withdrawal, “Pending full review of conditions on the ground, Governor Romney would abide by the 2014 target for transitioning combat operations recommended by the military commanders.”
At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania Tuesday, Mitt Romney sat down with some regular Americans to discuss the economy and, apparently, his distaste for the cookies provided by a beloved local bakery. ?I?m not sure about these cookies,? Romney said. ?Did you make those cookies?” Romney said to one of the women. “You didn?t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or wherever.?
Unfortunately, for Romney, they came from Bethel Bakery — “a longtime South Hills staple,” according to a local ABC affiliate. Some loyal patrons were outraged by Romney’s put down of their local baked goods. “Maybe he’s just used to eating cookies with diamonds in them,” one customer said on Facebook, according to bakery owner John Walsh. Another suggested, “I think the Bethel Bakery should make a new cookie, called ‘The Romney’, and have the top be encrusted with something that resembles diamonds.”
Watch Romney’s remarks:
Walsh, a Republican whose parents opened the bakery in 1955, said, ?Initially, we were incensed that he would think that Bethel Bakery is comparable to the 7-Eleven.” But then he saw an opportunity. Now, the bakery is offering a “CookieGate” special — “buy a dozen of our cookies, get a half dozen free all day today!” Not surprisingly, many people have turned out for free (if diamondless) cookies.
by James Hansen
Many television meteorologists question manmade climate change, including ones certified by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The society’s statement on climate change is now more than five years old, overdue for a revision.
A few months ago, members of Forecast the Facts called on the AMS to pass a strong, science-based information statement on climate change. After months of delay, the AMS has finally completed a draft statement. The draft is only viewable by AMS members. Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has read the statement and offers his opinion — Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts.
As a climate scientist, I know that there?s a huge gap between what scientists understand about climate change and what the public knows. And when TV meteorologists get the science wrong, it just furthers public confusion.
The American Meteorological Society has an important role to play in clearing up the confusion by giving clear guidance to their members. I?m pleased to say that their new climate change statement is largely in line with current science, but there is an important caveat, as I will explain. Here?s what I saw when I read the statement:
– Overall, the statement is stronger than the AMS? 2007 statement. The previous statement emphasized uncertainties and natural causes for climate change. By contrast, the new statement makes the unequivocal case for human-induced climate change.
– The draft statement defends the merits of climate models as a tool for understanding climate change. This is important, because TV meteorologists often call these models unreliable in order to create doubt about climate science.
– The draft statement acknowledges that severe weather events are expected to increase with global warming. The predictions include: More extreme precipitation events and more intense dry spells in between, more severe droughts, a higher proportion of strong hurricanes, and longer/more intense periods of extreme heat.
– The current statement does not adequately describe major climate threats that concern scientists. Their statement does not make clear that we will guarantee enormous undesirable consequences for young people if we continue with rapid fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere. For example, they note that sea level will rise 20 cm by 2100 due to thermal expansion of ocean water, but that underplays the fact that continued rapid warming will cause much larger sea level rise via ice sheet disintegration. The difficulty in predicting exact timing of sea level rise and location of increasing extreme climate anomalies does not diminish the threats that they pose.
My principal concern with the statement is that it assumes emissions will continue to grow. We must never accept ?business-as-usual? as inevitable. If the U.S. and the international community joined together to put an honest price on carbon emissions, the exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels and coal could rapidly be phased out.
Overall, I?m pleased that the AMS is headed toward a strong, science-based statement, which will go a long way toward educating broadcast meteorologists who cover this important topic. I?ll be sending a note to the AMS thanking them for their progress so far, and encouraging them to continue improving upon this draft before the statement is finalized. Can you please join me by doing the same?
Dr. James Hansen
Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
P.S. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the AMS, you may do so here. Members are allowed to log in and read draft statements, including the the latest statement on climate change.
Rachel Maddow traced the mainstreaming of the ex-gay movement on her MSNBC show last night — from its rise in 1973 in defiance of the American Psychiatric Association’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, to the influential 2003 study by Robert Spitzer, who found that some gay people could change their sexual orientation. Spitzer’s findings bolstered the ex-gay movement, since he had led the charge to rewrite the definition of homosexuality in 1973, and helped advocates find acceptance in the heart of conservative anti-gay politics.
But last week, the 80-year-old scientist dealt a devastating blow to his loudest proponents. In an interview with The American Prospect, Spitzer retracted his own ex-gay study, noting that “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.? Watch Maddow explain the history of reparative therapy and her interview with Gabriel Arana, the reporter who broke the story:
Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security Secretary and Republican governor from Pennsylvania, called on the GOP to embrace diversity and accept “the gay community.” Speaking to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Ridge said that most Americans have adopted a “live and let live” attitude towards gay people and called on his party to do the same:
?I think, as a party, we sometimes come across as very judgmental and very self-righteous, and that doesn?t play well to a lot of people,? he said. ?Not just on political grounds, but in terms of the culture. We accept diversity in many different ways, and we need to be more clear about that and careful to express that.?
In particular, Ridge urged a more expansive approach to what he termed ?the gay community,? noting that increased familiarity with gay people tends to lead to less judgmental politics. ?I think that?s the right way to be,? he said. ?Younger Americans on both sides of the aisle are saying, ?Live and let live.? ? Asked about same-sex marriage, Ridge said he had no particular point of view. ?It?s one of those situations where I?d leave it up to the state.?
Ridge — who is also pro-choice — joins a long list of Republicans who have urged for greater acceptance of LGBT people including, Vice President Dick Cheney and former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. Ridge has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
Our guest blogger is Seth Hanlon, Director of Fiscal Reform at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The House GOP has scheduled a vote for later today on a $46 billion tax giveaway. H.R. 9, sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), would give a massive, deficit-financed windfall to hedge fund managers, sports team owners, celebrities and other wealthy people. It would increase tax compliance burdens on small businesses and actually incentivize businesses to put off making investments and new hires until 2013 or later. (For our full analysis, click here.) The White House has issued a veto threat.
In arguing that his bill would create jobs, Cantor is now touting an analysis by Gary Robbins of Fiscal Associates. Robbins, a leading purveyor of supply-side economics for decades, appears to be the only economist that Cantor could find to help sell his bill. Robbins was last heard from using recycled supply-side arguments to sing the praises of Herman Cain?s tremendously ill-conceived ?9-9-9? tax plan as a paid consultant to the Cain campaign.
So if anyone is likely to conclude that Cantor?s tax cut is a good way to create jobs, it?s Robbins. But even his analysis finds that Cantor?s bill is a dud.
Robbins predicts that Cantor?s tax cut — a one-year, 20 percent deduction for businesses that qualify — would add $42.6 billion to the federal budget deficit. (That?s a little less than Congress?s official estimate of $46 billion because Robbins? revenue estimates are based on his own assumptions about economic growth.) Robbins also estimates that such a one-year tax cut would create 39,000 jobs. So according to the analysis that Cantor is touting on his own website, H.R. 9 would increase the federal deficit by $1.1 million for every job created.
That number is staggering, especially considering that this is the best analysis that Cantor could find. In fact, House Republicans once took aim at President Obama?s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with the false claim that it cost $278,000 per job. And Robbins? analysis of H.R. 9 compares terribly with estimates of other approaches to creating jobs. Policies that the House GOP held up for months, including the payroll tax holiday and extension of unemployment benefits, provide much more ?bang for the buck.?
Robbins? dim view of the Cantor bill is shared by more mainstream economists. The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that temporary tax cuts on business income are among the least effective ways to create jobs, increasing employment in 2012 by at most one job per $1 million in budgetary cost. In its macroeconomic impact analysis, CBO concluded that H.R. 9?s effects ?are so small as to be incalculable.?
Former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett, who has advocated for plenty of supply-side policies over the years, adds that the Cantor bill ?will do nothing whatsoever to increase employment? because it ignores the real problem facing small businesses — weak demand for their products and services. A tax windfall for wealthy people is among the worst ways to boost the economy because they are the least likely to spend the extra cash.
To be sure, Robbins predicts that if Cantor?s special tax break were made permanent, it would have wondrous economic effects. This is not surprising, given that his models predicted the same of other proposals giving massive tax cuts to the rich, such as Cain?s 9-9-9 plan and George W. Bush?s tax policies.
But Cantor?s bill is simply a one-time, one-year windfall for rich people that if repeated, would blow an even bigger hole in the budget. It?s a costly and ineffective giveaway even according to the lone analysis Cantor is touting. Bottom line: H.R. 9 is a loser no matter whom you ask. Not even voodoo economics can save it.
In a taped interview with Florida conservative blog The Shark Tank, Rep. Michele Bachann (R-MN) used a racially-charged term while attacking President Obama’s economic record. Asked about Obama blocking the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Bachmann said Obama is “waving a tar baby in the air” — a term that carries a long history of controversy in the South:
BACHMANN: This is just about waiving a tar baby in the air and saying that something else is a problem. I have never seen a more irresponsible President who is infantile in the way that he continually blames everyone else for his failure to first diagnose the problem and second to address the problem.
The term “tar baby” was popularized by the 19th-century Uncle Remus Br’er Fox stories, as a synonym for a sticky situation, but it’s always had a racial undertone. The Oxford English Dictionary says that tar baby is a derogatory term used for “a black or a Maori.” Famed poet Toni Morrison once said of the term, “Tar Baby is also a name, like ‘nigger,’ that white people call black children, black girls, as I recall.”
Presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney had his own “tar baby” situation when he used the term in 2006 to describe Boston’s floundering “Big Dig” construction project. The then-head of the NAACP said Romney “made a bad choice” of words, and a Romney spokesperson promptly issued an apology.
If FX was mildly nervous that Charlie Sheen?s public persona may affect his chances for a comeback, this information should come as a huge relief: EW has learned that test audiences who saw the pilot of his new comedy Anger Management recently were both pleased with his new half-hour comedy and eager to see the 46-year-old actor succeed in a new series.
The majority of men and women who attended a screening of the half-hour comedy in California?s San Fernando Valley last week rated the multi-camera pilot favorably, while over 80 percent gave Sheen an enthusiastic thumbs-up for his performance as an unorthodox therapist, according to one well-placed source. The pilot that also features the comeback of Brett Butler as a bartender played even better among women in the 18-34 and 18-49 demographic.
Overall, testing groups indicated that while they were well aware of Sheen?s fall from grace at CBS, they were still excited about his comeback and actually rooting for him to succeed, the source said. Some respondents even went so far as to say they were happy to see the actor in good health.
I’m open to, though skeptical of, the idea that I’ll like Anger Management. But I’m genuinely curious: does anyone have a theory about why people feel so charitably towards Charlie Sheen in particular? I know people like redemption narratives in general, but we also sure seem to relish kicking certain people when they’re down. I’d love a Sheen-specific explanation, especially since there’s no performance that makes me desperately long for him to return to former glory.