Wednesday 15 January 2014
1) Ken Cuccinelli uses final day in office to issue anti-gay
2) Supreme Court to Decide the Future of the Entire Obama Presidency
3) Supreme Court Denies Family Farmers the Right to Self-Defense from
Ham Calls Progressive Christians 'More Dangerous' Than Atheists After Criticism
He's Driving Believers Away
5) Bank of America and Citigroup Are Ready to Laugh at New
6) from Truthout
7) Net Neutrality Is Dead. Here's How to Get it Back
8) It Is Expensive to Be Poor
[ picture at URL ]
Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 04:30 PM PST
Virginia attorney general and failed candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli
a petty, petty man
Just hours before leaving office, former Virginia Attorney General
Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an opinion that appears intended to entrench his own
anti-gay policy preferences while he could still speak as his states top
legal officer. [...]The non-binding part means this was
nothing more than a last-day bit of wankery from a man still determined to have
a career spouting off about the gays after that touchy business of
losing the election.
Cuccinellis non-binding opinion, which is dated January 10, 2014,
concludes that a Governor may not direct or require any agency of state
government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for
Virginia income tax returns. Cuccinellis successor, Democrat Mark Herring,
was sworn in January 11.
My comment ---
Seems like he is a good ole boy Southern Baptist.
Supreme Court to Decide the Future of the Entire
14 January 2014
It is not much of an exaggeration to say that, while the
rest of the country's political class remains fascinated by the Passion Of Big
Chicken, the future of the entire Obama presidency today is hanging fire before
the United States Supreme Court. Only real SCOTUS wonks saw this one coming but,
should the court decide in favor of the plaintiff in National Labor Relations Board v. Canning, there simply will
not be much left for Barack Obama to do in office except greet NCAA championship
teams and drone people to death in Waziristan.
At issue in the case is the president's power to make recess
appointments to various executive branch positions. Frustrated by the fact that
he has an opposition party that is a) dedicated to nullifying wholly the results
of the 2008 and 2012 presidential election, and b) insane, the president
resorted to recess appointments in order to staff his government, as other
presidents have before him. Republicans in the legislature then argued that the
recess appointments were constitutionally illegitimate because they were holding
kabuki "sessions" of the legislature and that, therefore, there was no recess at
all. Three of the appointments in question were to the National Labor Relations
Board, which could not function with three positions empty, which was rather the
obvious point of blocking them. The full NLRB then ruled against the canning
division of the Noel Company in a contract dispute. The company challenged the
ruling on the grounds that three of the commissioners held their office
illegitimately. Spectacularly, but unsurprisingly, the company got the D.C.
Court of Appeals to agree, and up to the nine wise souls the case went.
Bear in mind. The D.C. Court overruled over a century of settled
practice within the government. The opinion was written by Judge David Sentelle,
whose long career as a political hack stretches back to the 1980s, when he helped confound the investigation into the Iran-Contra
scandal. (Sentelle believes all financial regulation to be unconstitutional, which must
keep him in dinners, anyway.) In fact, to call Sentelle a hack is to insult most
of the people who worked for Huey Long. This is an attempt to create a legal
exception through which this president will not be allowed to govern
effectively. If Sentelle's hackery is upheld, the ramifications are enormous.
Among the president's other recess appointments is Richard Cordray at the
Consumer Finance Protection Board. If the ruling goes against the
administration, and Cordray's appointment is declared illegitimate, then the
CFPB may go down as well. Which is, of course, rather the point of the whole
exercise. And you would not be remiss if you were to recall that this president
is the only one in 50 years who has not been allowed to fill seats on the very court that
launched this whole mess -- the D.C. Court of Appeals. Which is, of course,
rather the point.
Lots of comments at the URL.
Supreme Court Denies Family Farmers the Right to Self-Defense from Monsanto
Published: Tuesday 14 January 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a decision in the landmark federal
lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and
Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto. Farmers were denied
the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse
by the agrochemical and genetic
engineering giant, Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes
the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court
Monsantos genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.
While the Supreme Courts decision to not give organic and other non-GMO
farmers the right to seek preemptive protection from Monsantos patents at this
time is disappointing, it should not be misinterpreted as meaning that Monsanto
has the right to bring such suits, said Daniel Ravicher, executive director of
the Public Patent Foundation and
lead counsel to the plaintiffs in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto.
Indeed, in light of the Court of Appeals decision, Monsanto may not sue any
contaminated farmer for patent infringement if the level of contamination is
less than one percent, Ravicher explained. For farmers contaminated by more
than one percent, perhaps a day will come to address whether Monsantos patents
may be asserted against them. We are confident that if the courts ever hear such
a case, they will rule for the non-GMO farmers.
Farmers had sought Court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act that
should they become the innocent victims of contamination by Monsantos patented
gene-splice technology they could not perversely be sued for patent
The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers
find themselves in, said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of
lead plaintiff OSGATA. The Court of
Appeals agreed our case had merit. However, the safeguards they ordered are
insufficient to protect our farms and our families.
This high court which gave corporations the ability to patent life forms in
1980, and under Citizens United in 2010 gave corporations the
power to buy their way to election victories, has now in 2014 denied farmers the
basic right of protecting themselves from the notorious patent bully Monsanto,
The historic lawsuit was filed in 2011 in Federal District Court in
Manhattan. The large plaintiff group numbers 83 individual American and Canadian
family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations whose
combined memberships total more than one million citizens, including many
non-GMO farmers and over 25 percent of North Americas certified organic
The Appellate Court decision could leave Canadian farmers out in the cold
because their protection may not extend to Canada at all, said Saskatchewan
organic grain farmer Arnold Taylor, a member of plaintiff member Canadian Organic Growers. Like many Canadian
farmers, we sell crop into the U.S. and can therefore be liable to claims of
patent infringement by Monsanto.
In a complicated ruling
issued in June 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit in Washington, D.C., American farmers were handed a partial victory when
the three justices agreed with the farmers assertion that contamination by
Monsanto was inevitable. The justices ordered Monsanto not to sue American
farmers whose fields were contaminated with trace amounts of patented material,
which the Court defined as 1 percent.
In a related situation, Canadian soybean farmer Stephen Webster of Ontario
experienced just how abusively Monsanto treats innocent contamination victims.
Through no fault of his own Webster, who farms with his elderly father, had his
2012 identify-preserved non-GMO soybean crop contaminated by Monsantos patented
genetically engineered seed. Their soybeans were ruined for export to specialty
markets in Japan.
First Monsanto claimed we had too many bees and that we were at fault for
the contaminated crop, said Webster. Then they threatened to run up $100,000
in legal bills that we would have to pay. Tragically, Websters story is the
norm in farm country, with Monsanto using its extreme economic power to silence
family farmers even before they can legally defend themselves.
Notably, none of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto. None have signed
licensing agreements with Monsanto. The plaintiffs do not want Monsantos seed
and they do not want Monsantos gene-spliced technology and have sought legal
protection from significant economic harm to their businesses and way of
We have a fourth generation farm, said organic dairy farmer and plaintiff
Rose Marie Burroughs of California Cloverleaf Farms. Monsanto cannot be
trusted. Their refusal to provide a binding legal covenant not to sue our fellow
farmers would make anyone wonder, what are their real motives? GMO contamination
levels can easily rise above one percent and then we would have zero protection
from a costly and burdensome lawsuit.
Significant contamination events, including Starlink corn and LibertyLink
rice, have already cost farmers and the food companies nearly $2 billion
dollars. In the past year alone, the discovery of Monsantos
illegal GMO wheat in an Oregon farmers field and GMO
alfalfa in Washington statesent foreign markets, where GMOs are not wanted,
reeling. In both instances farmers economic livelihoods were put at risk as
buyers in foreign markets refused to buy the GMO contaminated crops.
If Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to
pay for contaminating a farmers field, not be allowed to sue them, said Dave
Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! Once again,
Americas farmers have been denied justice, while Monsantos reign of
intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America.
Monsanto has effectively gotten away with stealing the worlds seed heritage
and abusing farmers for the flawed nature of their patented seed technology,
said Murphy. This is an outrage of historic proportions and will not
Ham Calls Progressive Christians 'More Dangerous' Than Atheists After Criticism
He's Driving Believers Away
By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post
January 10, 2014 1:59 pm
Progressive Christians, or those who believe in evolution,
are "more dangerous to Christianity than the atheists" are, says
Museum CEO and President Ken Ham. He made the argument in
response to criticism that his insistence on Young Earth Creationism is driving
"Apparently they call
this sort of thing 'Progressive Christianity.' I guess that means 'evolving
Christianity' whatever the secular world believes about where they came from,
you accept that as infallible and then change their assumed fallible Word of God
to fit! So sad," Ham wrote on Facebook Friday, as he was
responding to a critical post written about him in the "Unfundamentalist Christians"
blog about his upcoming debate with "The Science Guy" Bill Nye in
The blog, which
expresses its beliefs in Jesus Christ
and the Bible but rejects some traditional teachings on subjects like hell and
homosexuality, argued on Thursday that young people are not dismissing the Bible
because they are being taught evolution, but because people like Ham are
"telling them what it (the Bible) says and means, rather than letting them seek
that out for themselves."
"Mr. Ham, they're
leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create
walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order
to be a Christian," the blog continued, arguing that Ham's version of
Christianity is not about right practice but about "right
"They're leaving the
church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn't agree with you,
you've made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus'
explicit commandment to love God and neighbor."
In his post on Friday,
the Creation Museum CEO called the article a personal attack against him, and
said that it holds "man's word as infallible and God's Word as
"Any attack on the WORD is an attack on Christ the WORD,"
debate between Ham and Nye in February, tickets for which sold out within
minutes on Monday, will focus on the question: "Is creation a viable model of
origins in today's modern scientific world?"
According to a December
2013 Pew Research Center poll, 60
percent of Americans believe that evolution is how the human species came to be,
with 33 percent suggesting that humans have existed in their present form since
About 24 percent of
American adults, however, believe that a "supreme being" guided the process of
evolution, while 32 percent say that evolution is entirely due to natural
all tickets for the debate with Bill Nye sold out within minutes!" Ham posted on Facebook on Monday,
when the $25 tickets for the Feb. 4 debate at The
Creation Museum's 900-seat Legacy Hall in Petersburg,
went on sale.
January 13, 2014 |
When the financial crisis struck, Bank of
America and Citigroup were both caught unprepared.
Their low capital levels forced the banks to take bailouts and significantly
dilute shareholders. Fast forward to today and both banks are boosting capital
levels to strengthen their balance sheets and meet new regulations.
In this segment of The Motley Fool's financials-focused show, Where the
Money Is, banking analysts Matt Koppenheffer and David Hanson discuss some
banking news coming out of Europe and how Bank of America and Citigroup are
prepared for any changes to U.S. laws.
The best investors know that you have to make
every stock in your portfolio count. Motley Fool Chief Investment Officer
Andy Cross knows that very well, and that's why he's chosen just one stock to be
his single pick for the coming year. Learn about The Motley Fool's Top Stock for
2014 right now; it's all yours just by clicking
Pitt | The Easy Problem With Government
Rivers Pitt, Truthout: "Clearly, the decades-long push to
privatize everything will lead us all to paradise on Earth. Please excuse me
while I enjoy a glass of tap-provided poison while watching my bank account get
looted. Or maybe, just maybe, government isn't the problem. Maybe the people we
allow into government are the problem with government."
Offshore Frackers Must Disclose Chemicals Dumped Into Ocean
Ludwig, Truthout: The EPA issued a rule last week requiring oil
and gas firms using fracking technology in federal waters off the coast of
southern California to regularly report the volume and chemical makeup of any
fracking fluids or wastewater dumped into the ocean.
From AIDS to Lyme:
Will We Let History Repeat Itself?
Bernstein, Truthout: Some argue that the inadequate early
government response to the AIDS epidemic - including diagnostic, treatment,
funding and research failures - is being repeated with Lyme disease, affecting
hundreds of thousands.
Chris Hedges | The
Trouble With Chris Christie
Hedges, Truthdig: The Bridgegate scandal is a window into how
federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely
employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged his tiny
cabal's grip on power.
Controlling the International Flow of Apparel
Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes, Truthout: More than half a
million jobs in the apparel industry have been lost since NAFTA. Ladydrawers
connects the dots between homeland security, bras and the loss of US jobs in
Moore and Mendes' latest strip.
Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program: When Republicans talk about
"welfare queens," they're really talking about their buddies in big banks, Big
Oil and giant transnational corporations. It's time to cut off the corporate
welfare pipeline and use those billions of dollars to help our economy
Spring in Winter 2014
Sri Raman, Truthout: When Delhi state's November elections brought
the new anticorruption Aam Admi Party to power, calculations about India's
upcoming national elections were upset, and a previously narrow field suddenly
Win Today, Lose
Tomorrow: Why Republicans Protect the "Honor" of Offensive Team
Goulka, TomDispatch: There may be no bigger headache for NFL team
owner Dan Snyder than the matter of his franchise's name: the Redskins. It's
offensive, and activists want it changed. But there is at least one bloc of
public figures that fully supports the name.
On the News With
Thom Hartmann: Senate Delays Vote on Unemployment Benefits, and
today's On the News segment: On Monday, Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid had to delay a crucial vote on unemployment benefits so Republican
lawmakers could finalize their list of demands; out-of-work Floridians have been
denied $20 million of jobless benefits - and it has nothing to do with Congress;
a Republican millionaire in California is making the case for a higher minimum
wage; and more.
Watch the Video
and Read the Transcript
Water Crisis: Behind Chemical Spill, Gaping Holes in State and Federal
Goodman and Aaron Mate, Democracy Now!: The Freedom Industries
site behind the West Virginia chemical spill is just a mile upriver from the
state's largest water treatment plant. But despite the obvious dangers to the
source of 16 percent of West Virginia residents' water, the spill has exposed
major holes in how the state regulates these dangerous chemicals.
Watch the Video
and Read the Transcript
Net Neutrality Is Dead. Here's How to Get it Back
15 January 2014
Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality.
This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it
doesn't have to be.
The big news: A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission's Open
Internet Order. This decision means that companies like AT&T, Comcast and
Verizon - which brought the lawsuit - are now free to block or slow down any
website, application or service they like.
These companies will rush to change the Web and line their own
pockets at our expense - creating new tolls for app makers, expensive price
tiers for popular sites, and fast lanes open only to the few content providers
that can afford them.
It didn't have to be this way.
The FCC's rules were designed to prevent Internet service
providers from blocking or interfering with Web traffic. Instead of reversing a
Bush-era decision that weakened the FCC's authority over broadband, and
establishing solid legal footing, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued
the rules in 2010 under the complicated and shaky legal framework the court
The rules the court struck down left much to be desired, but
they were a step toward preserving Internet users' freedom to go wherever they
wanted, whenever they wanted.
Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband
providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks
like cable TV - where they pick and choose the channels for you. They'll
establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay
exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.
We could pay dearly for the previous FCC's weak political will
and wishy-washy approach. But today's ruling leaves the door wide open to a
better approach. It's not too late for the FCC to reverse its terrible decisions
and repair its doomed strategy.
That's right. The FCC could make all this go away by simply
reading the law correctly and reclaiming the authority it already has to protect
Internet users for good. The agency had clear authority before the Bush
administration abdicated it and the Obama administration failed to fix the
New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently stated that the FCC must be able to protect broadband
users and preserve the Internet's fundamental open architecture. Now he has no
other choice but to restore and reassert the FCC's clear authority over our
nation's communications infrastructure.
There will be serious pushback from the most powerful phone and
cable companies (and an array of hired guns and front groups). They will make
threats, recycle all of their debunked myths about the Internet - and promise we
can trust them not to do any of the bad things they've fought so hard to do.
For too long, the FCC has worked to fulfill the wish lists of
the big phone and cable monopolies - instead of looking out for Internet users
Now the free and open Internet is flat-lining. But Wheeler has
the paddles in his hands and the power to resuscitate Net Neutrality. We'll know
soon if he has the political guts to use them.
We need strong protections and sensible policies to ensure the
Internet continues to thrive and prosper. But to make that happen the millions of
people who have fought for Net Neutrality - and the millions more who have
rallied against Web-censorship bills like SOPA/PIPA and outrages like the NSA's
unchecked spying and surveillance - must rise up like never before.
Together we can fight back against these greedy Internet service
providers. We can save the Internet we love. But we have to act now. http://act.freepress.net/sign/internet_FCC_court_decision2/
See Also: Federal Court Guts Net Neutrality Rules
It Is Expensive to Be Poor
Minimum-wage jobs are physically demanding, have unpredictable
schedules, and pay so meagerly that workers can't save up enough to move on.
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a move that was
unprecedented at the time and remains unmatched by succeeding administrations.
He announced a War on Poverty, saying that its chief weapons would be better
schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better
So starting in 1964 and for almost a decade, the federal government poured at
least some of its resources in the direction they should have been going all
along: toward those who were most in need. Longstanding programs like Head
Start, Legal Services, and the Job Corps were created. Medicaid was established.
Poverty among seniors was significantly reduced by improvements in Social
Johnson seemed to have established the principle that it is the
responsibility of government to intervene on behalf of the disadvantaged and
deprived. But there was never enough money for the fight against poverty, and
Johnson found himself increasingly distracted by another and deadlier warthe
one in Vietnam. Although underfunded, the War on Poverty still managed to
provoke an intense backlash from conservative intellectuals and politicians.
The original welfare reform
billa bill, it should be recalled, which was signed by President Bill
Clintonincluded an allocation of $100 million for "chastity training" for
In their view, government programs could do nothing to help the poor
because poverty arises from the twisted psychology of the poor themselves. By
the Reagan era, it had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology that
poverty is caused not by
low wages or a lack of jobs and education, but by the bad attitudes and faulty
lifestyles of the poor.
Picking up on this theory, pundits and politicians have bemoaned the
character failings and bad habits of the poor for at least the past 50 years. In
their view, the poor are shiftless, irresponsible, and prone to addiction. They
have too many children and fail to get married. So if they suffer from grievous
material deprivation, if they run out of money between paychecks, if they do not
always have food on their tablesthen they have no one to blame but
In the 1990s, with a bipartisan attack on welfare, this kind of prejudice
against the poor took a drastically misogynistic turn. Poor single mothers were
identified as a key link in what was called the cycle of poverty. By staying
at home and collecting welfare, they set a toxic example for their children,
whoimportant policymakers came to believewould be better off being cared for
by paid child care workers or even, as Newt Gingrich proposed, in
Welfare reform was the answer, and it was intended not only to end
financial support for imperiled families, but also to cure the self-induced
culture of poverty that was supposedly at the root of their misery. The
original welfare reform billa bill, it should be recalled, which was signed by
President Bill Clintonincluded an allocation of $100 million for chastity
training for low-income women.
The Great Recession should have put the victim-blaming theory of poverty to
rest. In the space of only a few months, millions of people entered the ranks of
the officially poornot only laid-off blue-collar workers, but also downsized
tech workers, managers, lawyers, and other once-comfortable professionals. No
one could accuse these nouveau poor Americans of having made bad choices or
bad lifestyle decisions. They were educated, hardworking, and ambitious, and now
they were also poorapplying for food stamps, showing up in shelters, lining up
for entry-level jobs in retail. This would have been the moment for the pundits
to finally admit the truth: Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of
motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.
For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money
arises largely from inadequate wages. When I worked on my book, Nickel and
Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress,
nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a
house-cleaning service. I did not choose these jobs because they were
low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily
available to women.
What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so
little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you
make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over
your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a
second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience
the physical deteriorationespecially knee and back problemsthat can bring a
painful end to their work life.
I was also dismayed to find that in some ways, it is actually more expensive
to be poor than not poor. If you cant afford the first months rent and
security deposit you need in order to rent an apartment, you may get stuck in an
overpriced residential motel. If you dont have a kitchen or even a refrigerator
and microwave, you will find yourself falling back on convenience store food,
whichin addition to its nutritional deficitsis also alarmingly overpriced. If
you need a loan, as most poor people eventually do, you will end up paying an
interest rate many times more than what a more affluent borrower would be
charged. To be poorespecially with children to support and care foris a
perpetual high-wire act.
criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the recession.
Most private-sector employers offer no sick days, and many will fire a person
who misses a day of work, even to stay home with a sick child. A nonfunctioning
car can also mean lost pay and sudden expenses. A broken headlight invites a
ticket, plus a fine greater than the cost of a new headlight, and possible court
costs. If a creditor decides to get nasty, a court summons may be issued, often
leading to an arrest warrant. No amount of training in financial literacy can
prepare someone for such exigenciesor make up for an income that is impossibly
low to start with. Instead of treating low-wage mothers as the struggling
heroines they are, our political culture still tends to view them as miscreants
and contributors to the cycle of poverty.
If anything, the criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the
recession, with growing numbers of states drug testing applicants for temporary
assistance, imposing steep fines for school truancy, and imprisoning people for
debt. Such measures constitute a cruel inversion of the Johnson-era principle
that it is the responsibility of government to extend a helping hand to the
poor. Sadly, this has become the means by which the wealthiest country in the
world manages to remain complacent in the face of alarmingly high levels of
poverty: by continuing to blame poverty not on the economy or inadequate social
supports, but on the poor themselves.
Its time to revive the notion of a collective national responsibility to the
poorest among us, who are disproportionately women and especially women of
color. Until that happens, we need to wake up to the fact that the underpaid
women who clean our homes and offices, prepare and serve our meals, and care for
our elderlyearning wages that do not provide enough to live onare the true
philanthropists of our society.
Lots of comments at the URL.