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Thumbnail image for Thanks, Senator Mikulski, But Women in Congress Have a Long Way to Go

Thanks, Senator Mikulski, But Women in Congress Have a Long Way to Go

by Source 03.04.2015 Government

By Molly Weasley/ Daily Kos

With the announced retirement of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Congress will lose its longest female serving member. But there’s still an enormous gender gap in our country’s legislative branch.

There are currently 20 women senators (20 percent) and 84 women in the House of Representatives (19.3 percent, and some of those women are non-voting representatives). The vast majority are Democrats (76 in all) compared with Republicans (28 in all). And those percentages — in either party — are as high as they have ever been. There have been more than 13,000 members of Congress in U.S. history, and only two percent — fewer than 300 elected or appointed representatives or senators — have been women.

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Thumbnail image for Obama Task Force Calls for Significant Changes to Policing in America

Obama Task Force Calls for Significant Changes to Policing in America

by Source 03.03.2015 Courts, Justice

Report recommends that law enforcement report shootings and other incidents of police brutality to federal government

By Lauren McCauley/ Common Dreams

Rights groups and others are welcoming the release of a report by the president’s policing task force on Monday, saying that the policy recommendations are the best chance the White House has for improving the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are meant to protect and serve.

The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing was established in the wake of recent police killings of people of color in an attempt to build trust between citizens and law enforcement. The Interim Report (pdf) calls for increased transparency around incidents of police brutality, an emphasis on de-escalation, and policies that prohibit police profiling and discrimination of any kind, among other things.

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Thumbnail image for The Lobbyists at Your Dinner Party

The Lobbyists at Your Dinner Party

by Source 03.02.2015 Food & Drink

Every purveyor of food and drink wants the government to advise Americans to consume more of what they produce

By Jill Richardson /Other Words

Remember the old food pyramid?

Until “MyPlate” replaced it a few years ago, the U.S. government’s official dietary advice for Americans fit neatly into that triangle.

The government recently moved toward updating those standards again. And the result isn’t nearly as digestible. In classic bureaucratic form, the Department of Health and Human Services cooked up a 571-page draft report for Americans to comment on.

The actual updated dietary guidelines will come later. Here’s what we know about the draftso far: The meat and soda industries hate it.

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Thumbnail image for Feds Threaten D.C. Officials With Prison If They Go Through with Pot Legalization

Feds Threaten D.C. Officials With Prison If They Go Through with Pot Legalization

by Source 02.28.2015 Government

By Jay Syrmopoulos / The Free Thought Project

In a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, two Republican congressmen Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the appropriations subcommittee that handles D.C.’s budget, ominously warned not to move forward with legalization in the District, claiming that to do so would be a violation of federal law.

D.C. officials and federal lawmakers have sparred over whether Initiative 71, a ballot measure approved by 70 percent of voters in November, can legally take effect.

The letter arrived the same day that the voter-approved legalization measure is scheduled to become law, at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. It sets the stage for a showdown between the will of the D.C. voters and their city and the federal government, attempting to enforce its will over that of the District’s constituents.

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Thumbnail image for Justice Comes to Mississippi

Justice Comes to Mississippi

by Source 02.26.2015 Courts, Justice

Sentencing begins for the ten white teenagers who beat and murdered African-American James Craig Anderson in 2011

By Federal District Court Judge Carlton Reeves

Editor Note: James Craig Anderson was attacked and murdered by a mob of teenagers who went out for the purpose of terrorizing African-Americans. They surrounded Anderson in a parking lot and ran over him with their pick-up truck. His death has been described as a Jim Crow style lynching. In the words of William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It is not even past.” The following is Judge Reeves’ complete remarks at the sentencing of the first three of the teenagers on February 10, 2015.

One of my former history professors, Dennis Mitchell, recently released a history book entitled, A New History of Mississippi. “Mississippi,” he says, “is a place and a state of mind. The name evokes strong reactions from those who live here and from those who do not, but who think they know something about its people and their past.”

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Thumbnail image for Firing a Mom Because She’s Breastfeeding Is Sex Discrimination

Firing a Mom Because She’s Breastfeeding Is Sex Discrimination

by Source 02.25.2015 Courts, Justice

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Blog of Rights

A few months ago, I posted about Angela Ames, the Nationwide Insurance worker who alleged that she was denied a place to pump breast milk when she returned to work from maternity leave. When she protested, Angela was coerced into resigning by her supervisor, who told her she should “just go home and be with your babies”.

In January, the Supreme Court sent her the same message – go home ­– rejecting her petition for a review of the dismissal of her case. The denial of her petition effectively means the end of the line for her case.

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Thumbnail image for Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors

Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors

by Source 02.25.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

GM is worth around $60 billion, and has over 200,000 employees. Its front-line workers earn from $19 to $28.50 an hour, with benefits.

Uber is estimated to be worth some $40 billion, and has 850 employees. Uber also has over 163,000 drivers (as of December – the number is expected to double by June), who average $17 an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and $23 an hour in San Francisco and New York.

But Uber doesn’t count these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent contractors.”

What difference does it make?

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Thumbnail image for Whites Fighting Racism: What It’s About

Whites Fighting Racism: What It’s About

by Source 02.20.2015 Activism

By Ricardo Levins Morales  / Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio Blog

Note: I was asked by SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice – a group which organizes white folks against racism) to write a few paragraphs offering a perspective on white solidarity. It was to open a national organizing conference call. What I wrote follows:

White people are taught that racism is a personal attribute, an attitude, maybe a set of habits. Anti-racist whites invest too much energy worrying about getting it right; about not slipping up and revealing their racial socialization; about saying the right things and knowing when to say nothing.

It’s not about that. It’s about putting your shoulder to the wheel of history; about undermining the structural supports of a system of control that grinds us under, that keeps us divided even against ourselves and that extracts wealth, power and life from our communities like an oil company sucks it from the earth.

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Thumbnail image for Can You Imagine a Supreme Court Composed Exclusively of Black Women or Latinas?

Can You Imagine a Supreme Court Composed Exclusively of Black Women or Latinas?

by Source 02.18.2015 Courts, Justice

How about one composed exclusively of black lesbians?

By Melissa Harris-Lacewell/ The Arena, Politico

The Supreme Court figures prominently in one of my favorite thought experiments for students in my politics courses.

I try to get the students to think about the Supreme Court as an institution across time rather than as a static entity. Therefore, when we think about race and gender representation on the court we should take the court as a whole, stretching back to our nation’s founding, rather than as a snapshot from the contemporary moment. When we do this we realize that although the court looked pretty diverse when it had two white women and an African American man represented, it is a nearly entirely white, male institution across its whole history.

Despite its racial and gender homogeneity we believe that the legal reasoning and precedents set by those earlier courts are valid. …

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Thumbnail image for Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

by Source 02.17.2015 Culture

By Bill Adams / UrbDezine

My family will attest, I’m a San Diego Chargers football fan. During football season, not only is the TV tuned to Chargers games, but so are multiple strategically located radios around the yard, lest I miss any action while attending to a honey-do task or breaking up an argument between my children.  Then there are the pre and post game shows, and wasted hours reading about the draft, trades, and other team side shows. Lest I forget to mention, I’m also a San Diego County resident – just outside the city’s boundaries.

However, the Chargers are one of several NFL teams, along with the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, considered likely to move to another city unless they receive a new football stadium.  The likely recipient city: Los Angeles.

Ironically, each of these teams have been previous occupants of Los Angeles.  Whether the Chargers  remain in the San Diego or move to greener pastures is almost certainly tied to whether they receive a new stadium.  The same is true of the others. Teams argue that older stadiums are not capable of being modified to provide the modern amenities and environment to allow the teams to be financially competitive, i.e., maximize profits — lest anyone forget that NFL teams are private profit-driven businesses, not public assets.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Black Girls Matter': Report Exposes System Oppression of Often-Ignored Groups

‘Black Girls Matter': Report Exposes System Oppression of Often-Ignored Groups

by Source 02.17.2015 Education

Girls of color routinely punished by institutions and ignored by school-to-prison pipeline reformers, report finds

By Nadia Prupis /Common Dreams

Girls of color regularly face harsher school punishments than their white counterparts, while simultaneously being ignored by legislative and community efforts to close the school-to-prison pipeline, despite the proven negative impacts of zero-tolerance discipline which exposes minority girls to expulsion, violence, and arrest, a new study released Wednesday has found.

Punitive disciplinary policies “negatively impact Black girls and other girls of color. Yet much of the existing research literature excludes girls from the analysis, leading many stakeholders to infer that girls of color are not also at risk,” according to the report, titled Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected.

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Thumbnail image for How the Racists of the South Have Ruled This Nation from the Very Beginning

How the Racists of the South Have Ruled This Nation from the Very Beginning

by Source 02.16.2015 Politics

By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos

It all started with a Constitution that allowed slavery to continue unmolested in the Southern states, only limiting the importation of additional slaves after 1808.

In addition to requiring the return of escaped slaves to the slave labor camps, it required them to be included in the census as three-fifths of a free person for taxation and representation.

Because seats in the House of Representatives are based on population, not on the number of registered voters or even on the number people eligible to vote, but of total population—including people held in slavery, even if each was only considered three-fifths of a man—the South received more than their fair share. And it was not just extra House seats that their slave population provided, but also additional muscle in the Electoral College that selects the president.

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Thumbnail image for New Report on Lynching Reveals Sinister Legacy of ‘Racial Terrorism’ in America

New Report on Lynching Reveals Sinister Legacy of ‘Racial Terrorism’ in America

by Source 02.12.2015 Courts, Justice

Capital punishment and current racial injustice in US are ‘direct descendants of lynching’

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

Capital punishment and ongoing racial injustice in the United States are “direct descendants” of lynching, charges a new study, which found that the pre-World War II practice of “racial terrorism” has had a much more profound impact on race relations in America than previously acknowledged.

The most comprehensive work done on lynching to date, the investigation unearthed a total of 3,959 racially-motivated lynchings during the period between Reconstruction and World War II, which is at least 700 more killings than previously reported.

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Thumbnail image for Kidnapped Student Teachers in México: An Inside Perspective

Kidnapped Student Teachers in México: An Inside Perspective

by Source 02.12.2015 Education

By Luis Villanueva Rodríguez / Draft NOtices

For many, the September killings of three and disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College in the Méxican state of Guerrero has been profoundly painful and tragic. My feelings of outrage and despair are also deep because I was educated in one of Ayotzinapa’s sister schools.

What many do not realize is that this crime was perpetrated by the Méxican government against students who had important social justice concerns and who were soon to become activist teachers. These rural teachers’ colleges are known for their progressive beliefs.

I have always understood my role as a social justice teacher and community advocate because of my education at these schools. There are important political and historical aspects to the recent events that most people outside of México are not aware of.

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Thumbnail image for The Share-the-Scraps Economy

The Share-the-Scraps Economy

by Source 02.11.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

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Thumbnail image for Syriza Succeeds in Greece by Mainstreaming the Anti-Austerity Movement

Syriza Succeeds in Greece by Mainstreaming the Anti-Austerity Movement

by Source 02.11.2015 Activism

What US progressives can learn

By Kate Aronoff / Waging Nonviolence

On January 25, Syriza — a previously marginal, left-leaning coalition party in Greece — made history by winning the country’s general election. Winning 149 of 300 parliamentary seats, the party fell just two votes shy of an outright majority. Syriza’s leader, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras,became prime minister at the head of a coalition anti-austerity government, beating out the conservative New Democracy party and its now former prime minister, Antonis Samaras.

Many have attributed the party’s meteoric rise to power as a product of the brutal austerity conditions imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in their 2010 bailout of the country. Such measures have destroyed a quarter of the country’s GDP, and driven youth unemployment to an astounding 50 percent. At this point, the country’s non-working population outnumbers the employed as national debt continues to skyrocket.

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Thumbnail image for Yes, ISIS Burned a Man Alive: White Americans Did the Same Thing to Black People by the Thousands

Yes, ISIS Burned a Man Alive: White Americans Did the Same Thing to Black People by the Thousands

by Source 02.10.2015 Courts, Justice

By Chauncey Devega / Daily Kos

ISIS burned Muadh al Kasasbeh, a captured Jordian fighter pilot, to death. They doused him with an accelerant. His captors set him on fire. Muadh al Kasasbeh desperately tried to put out the flames. ISIS recorded Muadh al Kasasbeh’s immolation, produced a video designed to intimidate their enemies, and then circulated it online.

ISIS’s burning alive of Muadh al Kasasbeh has been denounced as an act of savagery, barbarism, and wanton cruelty–one from the “dark ages” and not of the modern world.

American Exceptionalism blinds those who share its gaze to uncomfortable facts and truths about their own country.

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Thumbnail image for The Shame of US Journalism Is the Destruction of Iraq, Not Fake Helicopter Stories

The Shame of US Journalism Is the Destruction of Iraq, Not Fake Helicopter Stories

by Source 02.09.2015 Government

By Christian Christensen /Common Dreams

The news that NBC’s Brian Williams was not, in fact, on a helicopter in 2003 that came under fire from an Iraqi Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) should come as a surprise to no one.

Williams had repeated the lie on several occasions over the course of a decade until a veteran, who was on the actual helicopter that was attacked, had enough of Williams’ war porn and called the TV host out on Facebook. In a quite pathetic effort to cover his tracks, the anchor — who makes in excess of $10 million per year — claimed that his fairy tale was, in fact, “a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women” who had served in Iraq.

Twelve years, it seems, is enough time for Williams to confuse being on a helicopter that came under fire from an RPG with being on a helicopter that did not.

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Thumbnail image for Will the Real ‘Low-Life Scum’ Please Stand Up?

Will the Real ‘Low-Life Scum’ Please Stand Up?

by Source 02.06.2015 Activism

Here’s why I consider Henry Kissinger a war criminal

By Medea Benjamin / OtherWords

As you may have heard, security guards recently tossed me and my fellow activists out of a Senate hearing where former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was about to testify. It became a hot story when Senator John McCain denounced us as “low-life scum.”

Why was McCain so mad?

Probably because we were holding signs that said “Arrest Kissinger for War Crimes” while dangling handcuffs.

For this, the Arizona Republican called us “disgraceful, outrageous, and despicable.” He even accused us of “physically intimidating” the 91-year-old Kissinger.

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Thumbnail image for Texas Town Comes Up With the Best Use For an Old Walmart

Texas Town Comes Up With the Best Use For an Old Walmart

by Source 02.06.2015 Business

By Walter Einenkel / Daily Kos

Walmarts are everywhere. They take up tons of space. Superbowl space. They sell everything, they succeed where mom-and-pop businesses fail—and sometimes, they shut down. What happens when a huge edifice, parking lot, highway exit closes in a place? Well, in McAllen, Texas:

They transformed it into the largest single-floor public library in America.

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Thumbnail image for A Tax Cut for Tax Cheats

A Tax Cut for Tax Cheats

by Source 02.05.2015 Government

Spending a dollar on the IRS adds $255 to the federal budget

By Bob Lord / OtherWords

If the most frequently dialed federal agency in America can’t even answer two-thirds of the millions of phone calls it gets, should the government cut its budget?

Congress thinks so. That agency is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). And lawmakers have hacked at its budget yet again.

Worse still, those cuts will cost more money than they’ll save. They’re basically “a tax cut to tax cheats,” said IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

Regardless of your feelings about the IRS, Koskinen is right.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Man Faces Life in Prison for … Rapping

San Diego Man Faces Life in Prison for … Rapping

by Source 02.04.2015 Activism

Charges are a Blatant Violation of the First Amendment, Says ACLU

ACLU News

San Diego prosecutors admit that Brandon Duncan was not at the scene of any one of several shootings in the city, and they have no evidence linking him to those shootings that occurred between May 2013 and February 2014. Still, the District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis charged him for those crimes because…he rapped about them.

Only recently released on bail, Duncan, who performs under the name Tiny Doo, spent eight months in jail on so-called “gang conspiracy charges” arising from those shootings. The San Diego ACLU is filing an amicus brief in court asking the court to dismiss the charges immediately. In a blog post about the case, David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties said that the case was “not only absurd; it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”

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Thumbnail image for Community-Owned Energy: How Nebraska Became the Only State to Bring Everyone Power From a Public Grid

Community-Owned Energy: How Nebraska Became the Only State to Bring Everyone Power From a Public Grid

by Source 02.03.2015 Business

In this red state, publicly owned utilities provide electricity to all 1.8 million people. Here’s how Nebraska took its energy out of corporate hands and made it affordable for everyday residents.

By Thomas M. Hanna / Yes! Magazine

In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. It is not a famously liberal state like Vermont or Massachusetts. Rather, it is conservative Nebraska, with its two Republican Senators and two (out of three) Republican members of Congress, that has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution.

In Nebraska, 121 publicly owned utilities, ten cooperatives, and 30 public power districts provide electricity to a population of around 1.8 million people. Public and cooperative ownership keeps costs low for the state’s consumers. Nebraskans pay one of the lowest rates for electricity in the nation and revenues are reinvested in infrastructure to ensure reliable and cheap service for years to come.

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Thumbnail image for What Republicans Don’t Want Us To Know About America’s ‘Failing’ Schools (VIDEO)

What Republicans Don’t Want Us To Know About America’s ‘Failing’ Schools (VIDEO)

by Source 02.03.2015 Education

By Elisabeth Parker / Addicting Info

Every three years, 15-year-old students around the world take a test called the PISA, and every three years Republicans and neoliberals see our kids’ scores and scream about America’s “failing” schools. Since the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) last held the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in 2012, we’re due to hear that high-pitched shrieking sound in (countdown) 10, 9, 8…

The problem with our “failing” schools? Republicans love ranting about overpaid teachers who don’t work hard enough and need to be “held accountable;” lazy welfare parents who don’t care about their children’s education; and high levels of per-student spending that yield poor results.

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Thumbnail image for How Much Do You Know About Black History?

How Much Do You Know About Black History?

by Source 02.02.2015 Culture

By Denise Oliver Velez / Daily Kos

Carter G. Woodson, historian and the father of “Negro History Week,” died in 1950, and did not live to see Black History Month, which started at Kent State in 1970 and was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

Woodson chose February as the month in which to celebrate because it contained both the births of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and of President Abraham Lincoln. One wonders what Woodson would think of the commemoration today.

I would guess that he would be proud to see it has become a part of the nationwide curriculain schools, and the focus of events celebrated by government agencies and community groups across the nation, but that he would also criticize the lack of progress we have made in erasing the continued stereotyping and denigration of both Africans on the continent and their descendants in the diaspora.

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