Showing posts from June 30, 2014

The 8 Best Lines From Ginsburg's Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraception Decision

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[What happened to the separation of church and state? *RON*]

—By Dana Liebelson, Mother Jones, Jun. 30, 2014
On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the government can't require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, "in a decision of startling breadth," would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find "incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg's dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:
"The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage""Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subs…

For the first time, Boy Scouts march for equality at NYC Pride

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[There has been massive public pressure on Boy Scouts of America to change their policy. *RON*]
By Alexandra Bolles, Glaad, June 30, 2014

On Sunday, the iconic Pride March in New York City and its 14,000+ participants were led, in an historic first, by Boy Scouts members and leaders.

Three generations of Boy Scouts -- gay and straight -- were in uniform at the nation's oldest and largest LGBT Pride event, where they presented the American flag during the national anthem and served as Color Guard during the march.

Among those marching were Pascal Tessier, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout who is openly gay; Greg Bourke, former associate scoutmaster who was ousted for being gay; David Knapp, 88, who first became a Boy Scout in 1938 at the age of 12, and, as an adult, was ousted as district executive for being openly gay; and Crystal Sabinsky, an active leader in scouting, mother of young Boy Scouts, and ally to the LGBT community.

Crystal, who participated…

Natural Resources’ sweeping report warns feds of increasing climate change, urges action

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[“I don’t quite get the prime minister’s indifference and the minister of the environment’s indifference to this entire process. Mother nature sent the most catastrophic flood in Canadian history through the centre of Calgary. If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.” Liberal environment critic John McKay. “We’re seeing the increase in insurable losses across Canada, billion-dollar events more frequently, and it doesn’t seem to be having any impact at all, certainly not on Stephen Harper. That’s quite surprising.” Green Party leader Elizabeth May. NDP environment critic Megan Leslie contrasted the report’s release—“tabled under the cover of darkness and I’ve not heard a single government representative talk about it”—with that of the U.S. National Climate Assessment in May, which was a major media event at the White House. *RON*]
By Mark Burgess, Hill Times, 06/30/2014

A new report from the government’s own Natural Resources Departmen…

Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws

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[Long, interesting article on the crapification of biomedical research. US biomedical research is going down the tubes, with researchers spending far more time writing grant proposals than doing investigations, and with research increasingly focused on finding applications rather than more fundamental work with higher payoffs (and even a growth in falsified results due to hyper-competition). One underlying problem is an over-production of scientists while National Institutes of Health funding has fallen by at least 25% in real dollar terms since 2003 and the cost of studies has increased. *RON*]

Bruce Albertsa, Marc W. Kirschnerb, Shirley Tilghmanc,and Harold Varmusd, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, 22 April 2014.


The long-held but erroneous assumption of never-ending rapid growth in biomedical science has created an unsustainable hypercompetitive system that is discouraging even the most outstanding …

Free markets killed capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 percent’s sick triumph over us all

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[Monopoly is back: Barry Lynn on the concentration of American economic power -- and how we can restore fairness. *RON*]

Thomas Frank, Salon, 29 June 2014
Barry C. Lynn is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of two important books, “End of the Line” and ”Cornered,” the latter of which describes the dramatic return of monopoly to the American landscape. Both books had a big effect on me when they appeared, as did Lynn’s periodic articles in Harper’s Magazine describing the concentration of economic power in all sorts of different industries. One of the reasons his books startled me is the weird silence of virtually all our other popular economic writers on the subject. Monopoly is back, in a massive way, and yet it seems as though even liberals often have trouble talking about it. If we’re really going to do something about inequality, however, it’s time we looked this thing in the face.

Barry Lynn and I sat down and talked…

Moaning Moguls -- Why are the Super-Rich so Angry?

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[Surowiecki argues that billionaires' interests are no longer as tightly tied to the interests of their own nation or to those of the middle class as they once were. *RON*]

By James Surowiecki, New Yorker, 7 July 2014
The past few years have been very good to Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Blackstone Group, the giant private-equity firm. His industry, which relies on borrowed money, has benefitted from low interest rates, and the stock-market boom has given his firm great opportunities to cash out investments. Schwarzman is now worth more than ten billion dollars. You wouldn’t think he’d have much to complain about. But, to hear him tell it, he’s beset by a meddlesome, tax-happy government and a whiny, envious populace. He recently grumbled that the U.S. middle class has taken to “blaming wealthy people” for its problems. Previously, he has said that it might be good to raise income taxes on the poor so they had “skin in …

Boom Meets Bust in Texas: Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In

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[This is how the wealth from a petro-boom (does not) trickle down to the benefit of the general population. *RON*]

By Manny Fernandez and Clifford Krauss, New York Times, 29 June 2014
GARDENDALE, Tex. — From the window of her tin-roofed trailer, Judy Vargas can glimpse a miraculous world. It is as close as the dust kicked up by the trucks barreling by but seems as distant as Mars.

As you walk out of her front yard — where the chewed-off leg of an animal, probably a feral hog caught by a prowling bobcat, rots outside — a towering natural gas flare peeks over the southerly view. Across the railroad tracks and Interstate 35, a newly reopened railroad interchange stores acres of pipe and receives shipments of sand from Wisconsin to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Next to the terminal is an expanding natural gas processing plant that lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford, a giant shale oil field that here in La Salle County alone produces m…

Blackwater considered itself above the law, US state department was warned

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[Department told of lax oversight at firm with $1bn contract to protect US diplomats weeks before Blackwater (now known as Academi) security contractors killed 17 Iraqis. Following this incident, the Iraqi government refused to sign an agreement that made it impossible to apply local or international law to US troops in Iraq, which led ultimately to all American troops being withdrawn. *RON*]

Mark, 30 June 2014
A state department investigator warned that the private security firm Blackwater considered itself above the law, just weeks before Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians, it has been reported.

According to the New York Times, Jean Richter, who was sent to Iraq to review Blackwater's operations, warned in a memo dated 31 August 2007 that little oversight of the company, which had a $1bn contract to protect US diplomats, had created "an environment full of liability and negligence".