io9 has the story of Weird Tales, the venerable science fiction magazine that committed to run an excerpt of a novel called Saving the Pearls, in which people of color tyrannically oppress white people, who are considered ugly and genetically disadvantaged because ozone layer damage makes them much more susceptible to UV rays, apparently in [...]
The Energy Report: Let’s start with a macro rundown. What’s the Stephen Taylor take on oil and gas markets today?
Stephen Taylor: It’s like A Tale of Two Cities. The gas that sells for . . . → Read More: Taylor Asset Management CEO Busts the Peak Oil Myth
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Romney ups the ante, explicitly tells Akin to drop out. [...]
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Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
In the Comments to my Guess Which Presidential Candidate Will Speak at Hempfest, and Which at Paul Festival? post last week, TPAZ asked if I knew of any ?second-tier presidential debate? plans. It was a very good question for which I didn?t have an answer, so I said I?d look around. I?m very glad to say I found something (video above), very unhappy to say I missed it when it actually happened.
To give credit, I first found the information at Corrente, American Third Parties Presidential Debate 2012: Justice, Green, and Socialist Parties.
The Alternative Party Debate was hosted by the Maggie Phair Institute on April 21, 2012, at Echo Park United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. The Phair Institute ?is an educational venture? promoting civic involvement, democracy, free speech, decent affordable housing, dependable public transit, a living wage, free education for all, universal health care, and world peace.
Participating candidates, and their party status at the time of the debate: Rocky Anderson (Justice Party nominee); Roseanne Barr (Green Party candidate); Stephen Durham (Peace and Freedom Socialist Party nominee); Peta Lindsay (Party for Socialism and Liberation nominee); Dr. Kent Mesplay (Green Party candidate); and Dr. Jill Stein (Green Party candidate).
Other alternative party candidates, and their status at the time, who were not at the debate include: Stewart Alexander (Peace & Freedom Party & Socialist candidate); Roger Gary (Libertarian Party candidate); Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party candidate); Carl Person (Libertarian Party candidate); Buddy Roemer (Reform Party & Americans Elect Candidate); Danny Woodring (independent candidate); R. Lee Wrights (Libertarian Party candidate).
From The Maggie Phair Institute, about the debate:
Six candidates from four political parties presented their ideas on public policies to nearly 200 people in the audience and numerous representative of mass media. The debate was audio taped by radio station KPFK for airing on affiliate stations of the Pacifica Foundation.
The Young Turks from Current TV featured the debate on their April 23rd program.
So, about 200 attendees. When last I checked, the video at YouTube had received 2444 views. More will have used Pacifica and Current to hear the debate, though I have no idea about those numbers. Compared to the Big Two, very small numbers.
But, consider the context. Acknowledging a fairly quick search on my part, and with no criticism of the Institute or of the media present, apparently there was little attention provided the event beforehand, and not much afterward. This, of course, isn?t surprising. Only ?serious? candidates deserve ?serious? attention, and those in control of maintaining their ?serious? roles in the Duopoly and the ?press? which covers them work to keep that ?serious? stuff all to themselves. You think, just maybe, it has something to do with the money involved?
Take another look at what the Phair Institute promotes: civic involvement, democracy, free speech, decent affordable housing, dependable public transit, a living wage, free education for all, universal health care, and world peace, and should have the time and inclination, check out the websites of some of the ?alternative? party candidates.
Would the two Very Serious candidates, or the joined-at-the-pocketbook Corporate Parties they represent, ever seriously address such issues, with policy plans in place and intentions to follow-through?
Of course not. And that?s one of many reasons we need ?alternative? parties, in the news, in debates, on the ballots, and in office.
A friend of mine who runs a progressive PAC called me to go over some of the senators he was thinking of doing fundraising for. "Is there anyone else as good as Bernie Sanders (I-VT)," he asked me. I said there isn't, aside from Jeff Merkley (D-OR) who doesn't have a race this year. (Bernie is the only incumbent senator endorsed by Blue America so far this cycle.) "Well, what about Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), and Tom Harkin (D-IA)," he asked. Good point, especially in the case of Brown, who's pretty amazing on many issues and immeasurably better than the Republican corporate whore running against him in November. But that wasn't the question. Brown, Franken and Harkin would all be on any progressive's list of the top half dozen senators. But the question wasn't who is good; it was who's as good as Bernie. We argued back and forth a little and then I pointed out that Brown, Franken and Harken were among the 28 Democrats to vote against Bernie's amendment to allow states to insist that food companies label GMO products. He blanched... and dropped the topic. He knows how important this battle is in real outside-the-Beltway life.
Only one Republican supported the labeling amendment, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) but the real tragedy was that more Democrats sided with Big Business than with the rights of consumers to know if they're being force-fed genetically modified frankenfood. Over the weekend, the NY Times reported that food labeling battles are moving into the courts and out of easily bought-off legislatures. This is why conservatives hate trial lawyers so passionately, especially conservative politicians whose careers are financed so lavishly by Agribusiness-- like John McCain (R-AZ)- $4,222,694; Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)- $3,931,879; Miss McConnell (R-KY)- $2,534,522; Pat Roberts (R-KS)- $1,985,328; and Jerry Moran (R-KS)- $1,731,920, just to name the worst of the worst.
More than a dozen lawyers who took on the tobacco companies have filed 25 cases against industry players like ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo, Heinz, General Mills and Chobani that stock pantry shelves and refrigerators across America.
The suits, filed over the last four months, assert that food makers are misleading consumers and violating federal regulations by wrongly labeling products and ingredients. While there has been a barrage of litigation against the industry in recent years, the tobacco lawyers are moving particularly aggressively. They are asking a federal court in California to halt ConAgra?s sales of Pam cooking spray, Swiss Miss cocoa products and some Hunt?s canned tomatoes.
?It?s a crime-- and that makes it a crime to sell it,? said Mr. Barrett, citing what he contends is the mislabeling of those products. ?That means these products should be taken off the shelves.?
The food companies counter that the suits are without merit, another example of litigation gone wild and driven largely by the lawyers? financial motivations. Mr. Barrett said his group could seek damages amounting to four years of sales of mislabeled products-- which could total many billions of dollars.
...While the lawyers are being questioned about their motives, they are not alone in pursuing the food industry.
In recent weeks, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued General Mills and McNeil Nutritionals over their claims on Nature Valley and Splenda Essentials products, and warned Welch?s it would sue unless the company changed the wording on its juice and fruit snacks. The Federal Trade Commission won settlements from companies like Dannon and Pom Wonderful for claims about their products? health benefits. And PepsiCo and Coca-Cola face lawsuits over claims that their orange juice products are ?100% natural.?
The latest playbook-- like the one that paid off in the wave of tobacco litigation-- could prove potent, as the food companies? own lawyers have warned.
Other plaintiffs? lawyers have largely taken aim at food products marketed as ?healthy? or ?natural,? subjective claims that can be easily disputed by expert witnesses. Unlike foods labeled ?organic,? there are no federal standards for foods that are called ?healthy? or ?natural.?
The new batch of litigation argues that food companies are violating specific rules about ingredients and labels. Mr. Barrett?s group, for example, has brought a case against Chobani, the Greek yogurt maker, for listing ?evaporated cane juice,? as an ingredient in its pomegranate-flavored yogurt. The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly warned companies not to use the term because it is ?false and misleading,? according to the suit.
?If you?re going to put sugar in your yogurt, why not just say it?s sugar?? said Pierce Gore, a lawyer affiliated with Mr. Barrett?s group.
...The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco decided the time was ripe to go after Big Food. Consumers are increasingly conscious of their eating habits as rates of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and other health problems rise. State and local governments are also becoming alarmed at the escalating costs of caring for people with those diseases and are putting pressure on food companies.
?People want to put good, healthy, nutritious food in their bodies,? said Keith M. Fleischman, a former federal and state prosecutor who is now working with the tobacco lawyers group. ?They are very aware of what?s on labels.?
Plaintiffs? lawyers realize that critics may counter that their lawsuits do not have real victims.
Mr. Barrett fought tobacco cases for years on behalf of smokers dying of cancer-- and lost because juries agreed with the tobacco companies that smoking was a personal choice. Not until he and Richard Scruggs sued on behalf of states, which had spent hundreds of millions of dollars caring for sick smokers, did they win their record settlement.
?Food companies will argue that these are harmless crimes-- the tobacco companies said the same thing,? Mr. Barrett said. ?But to diabetics and some other people, sugar is just as deadly as poison.?
"As a physician and legislator, I recognize the need for transparency in labeling of food products so that my patients and constituents can make the best decisions possible for their families as they purchase their groceries. We must inform consumers about the nutritional value and all contents of the products they have to choose from in the stores. If we fail to inform the public, we will never be able to halt and reverse the spiraling rate of diabetes, obesity and related health problems in Americans. Of special concern is the impact on our children, where these diseases are at all time highs according to recent studies. Our focus has to be on preventing and reducing these costly health conditions. Such health matters have a direct impact on the budget and ongoing deficit and debt crisis because the expense of treating these diseases often falls on taxpayer funded health programs. For the good of our nation, and especially our children, we must aggressively push for transparency in food labeling. The future of our country depends on it."
Common wisdom on the left is that Mitt Romney has decided to lie his way to the Presidency. But there is another explanation, one that is much worse: Romney may actually think he is telling the truth.Ideologues don't live in the same world as the rest of us. If the facts don't fit the ideology, then the problem must be with the facts, as the ideology can never ever be wrong. GOP...
Where the Missouri mule leaves off, the Republican platform committee takes up the fight against America?s most pressing problem.
In language that would not dismay Todd Akin, GOP sages call for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.
?Faithful to the ?self-evident? truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment?s protections apply to unborn children.?
The only threat to Republican unanimity may come from a Higher Power as the Weather Service reports a tropical storm that could become a hurricane by Thursday, reach Cuba Sunday and affect the Tampa conclave by opening day on Monday.
The storm, suitably enough, would be named Isaac, a biblical figure associated with human sacrifice.
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The United States? share of global college graduates fell substantially in the first decade of the 21st century and stands to drop even more by 2020 as developing economies in China and India have graduated more college students, presenting challenges for American workers? ability to remain competitive in a global economy in the future. The U.S. share of college graduates fell from nearly one-in-four to just more than one-in-five from 2000 to 2010, according to ?The Competition That Really Matters,? a report from the Center for American Progress and The Center for the Next Generation:
From 2000 to 2010, the U.S. share of college graduates fell to 21% of the world?s total from 24%, while China?s share climbed to 11% from 9%. India?s rose more than half a percentage point to 7%. Based on current demographic and college enrollment trends, we can project where each country will be by 2020: the U.S. share of the world?s college graduates will fall below 18% while China?s and India?s will rise to more than 13% and nearly 8% respectively.
India and China aren’t just closing the gap in overall graduates, they’re also making huge strides in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). According to the report, the annual number of U.S. STEM graduates from four-year colleges and universities increased by 24 percent from 2000 to 2008. In China, the annual increase was 218 percent, and in India, the number of STEM degrees awarded each year tripled from 1999 to 2006.
?The fact that other countries are graduating more and more of their people and giving them a good education, that, in and of itself, is certainly not a negative,? Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), who helped unveil the report today, told ThinkProgress. ?It?s good for their countries, it?s good for the global economy when there?s a stronger middle class.?
But, Markell said, the falling share of college graduates is indicative of the more competitive global economy, and, as the report notes, the U.S. faces problems in the education sector that could harm future American competitiveness. Only half of American students receive early childhood education, for instance, and the nation has no strategy for improving enrollment, even as evidence shows that those programs increase educational success. Meanwhile, rising levels of income inequality and poverty are broadening America’s education gap, further threatening the nation’s overall educational success and future competitiveness.
As states and localities crushed by the Great Recession are forcing through education cuts at all levels in the United States, other countries — including China and India — are taking major steps to increase educational attainment among their lower- and middle-classes. By creating stronger national standards, improving teacher quality, and making investments into early childhood education and other programs, the report says, the U.S. can follow suit and remain competitive in the future.
?What we have to recognize is that just because we?ve been number one in the past doesn?t mean we?ll be number one in the future,? Markell said. ?We have to truly recognize that investments in early childhood and K-12 and higher education and investments in human capital generally are one of the surefire ways to lead to long-term prosperity. … We?re in a new world now, we?re in a new generation, and if you don?t maintain that commitment and that covenant with each new generation of Americans, I?m very concerned about the consequences,” Markell said. “You can?t afford not to make these investments in the future.?
Several state governors say they’ll reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion because the program will be too expensive for the states, but federal budget cuts could do more harm to state finances than the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act, according to Moody’s Investors Service. States’ credit ratings will likely not be affected by whether or not they opt into the Medicaid expansion, Moddy’s explained. But if Congress excludes the military from the planned “sequestration” spending cuts, that could lead to more cuts in other programs, like Medicaid, and put more pressure on states. “Rising healthcare costs and an aging population will continue to increase Medicaid’s costs and challenge states’ finances, regardless of how federal healthcare reform is ultimately implemented,” one Moody’s official said.
When Mike Huckabee’s radio show debuted in April, one of the ways Cumulus Media positioned his entry into the market was as a classier alternative to Rush Limbaugh. At the time, Limbaugh was in the midst of a controversy over his nasty attacks on then-Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, who he’d attacked for her testimony on coverage of contraception, and he looked like a viable target. As I noted at the time, “Cumulus Media?s seized that opportunity, telling stations that don?t have Limbaugh now and that might choose not to reup their contracts to carry him in the future, that in Huckabee, they?ve got a better alternative. The company?s distributed a list of 31 advertisers who have asked that their spots not be affiliated with any Limbaugh-related programming. And they?re pitching Huckabee?s show by telling stations it?ll offer ‘more conversation, less confrontation.’”
So there’s something rather astonishing about watching Limbaugh be more reasonable on a women’s health issue than Huckabee, as has been the case as both men have covered Rep. Todd Akin’s deplorable remarks about whether women can get pregnant as the result of rape. In the midst of peddling conspiracy theories about poll sampling and nailing down his pro-life bona fides, Limbaugh made a fairly good point on his show today: that comments like Akin’s are the result of a closed community reaching for any arguments they can make, no matter how specious, to convince listeners to of their position. He said:
So they sit around amongst themselves — I’m not being critical of ‘em; don’t misunderstand my choice of words or tone, and they try to think of ways to persuade other people who agree with them. So Akin goes on TV with Charles Jaco, which is mistake number one, but he goes on with Charles Jaco on local St. Louis TV. And this whole business of a woman’s body shuts down in rape, there’s no evidence for that. But this is the kind of thing that people who do nothing but talk amongst themselves will conjure up, a belief system like that, and they’ll grab on to anything they can to support what their empirical belief is because their ultimate aim is to save life.
Their ultimate aim is to protect the baby no matter what circumstance the conception occurs in. And I think that’s just who the guy is, but he doesn’t know how to explain it. He has no clue how to make his case for it. And so he hangs around people who are like-minded and they’ve devised this belief. He’s not the first guy to say this. I’ve had people tell me that a woman’s body shuts down in rape. There’s no evidence for this. I mean it’s absolutely absurd. This leads to the second problem. This is absurd. That belief that a woman’s body shuts down and the whole notion of “legitimate” “illegitimate” rape, that’s the thing that bothers me about it. That’s just absurd. It’s not intelligent.
Huckabee, by contrast, has doubled down in support of Akin. He’s given him space on his show for Akin to explain that he didn’t mean to promote ideas with precisely no scientific basis?he just mean to communicate that sometimes women lie about being sexually assaulted. Huckabee’s continued to flog the junk scientific claims of Dr. John Willke, the physician who’s backed up Akin’s claims, and whose fitness to handle women’s health issues I dearly hope is under investigation by the relevant credentialing organizations. And most horrifyingly, on Monday, he got on the air to guilt women who have become pregnant as the result of rape about carrying those pregnancies to term:
?Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,? Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: ?I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
There’s no question that for some women, choosing to keep a child in the aftermath of a sexual assault can be a powerfully affirming decision, as it was for Shauna Prewitt, who writes about her daughter in a powerful rebuttal to Akin posted on XOJane today. But just like abortion, that’s a profoundly personal decision for a woman to make that should be influenced solely by her beliefs about what would be best for her physically and mentally, rather than by the suggestion that if she chooses to terminate a pregnancy that’s the result of rape, she’s doing a wrong to society at large. Not to mention the fact Prewitt points out, that rapists retain parental and visitation rights in many states, and giving birth to a child conceived in an assault could force a woman to have ongoing contact with her attacker. It would be interesting to see what both Akin and Huckabee, both vigorous advocates of two-parent, heterosexual-led households have to say about that element of raising children who are the product of rape.
Conversation, Huckabee-style, it turns out, can be a way to mask in niceness ideas that are even nastier than those revealed by Limbaugh-style confrontation.