Author Archive

Nigeria: Pesticides suspected in mystery deaths, says WHO

April 20, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) says pesticide poisoning is the probable cause of 18 mysterious deaths in south-western Nigeria. Those who died in Ondo state suffered from blurred vision and headaches, and then lost consciousness before dying within 24 hours. A spokesman for the WHO said tests done so far had been negative for viral and bacterial infections. He said the current theory was that the deaths were caused by weedkiller. The outbreak started in the town of Ode-Irele. All of those affected started showing symptoms between 13 and 15 April." (04/19/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32372502  

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A hashtag’s unintended consequences in Nigeria

April 19, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Emmanuel Akinwotu  

"A year after the Twitter campaign '#bringbackourgirls' put Nigeria on front pages around the world, the whereabouts of 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014 remains unknown. The global clamor for their release, ferocious in the months after the kidnappings, is now modest, by comparison. But the campaign -- and even more, the brutal conflict that sparked it -- has had major consequences. Over the past year, Nigeria has changed. On March 28, for the first time in the country’s history, Nigeria’s opposition claimed victory in a presidential election judged fair and free. President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling party conceded its 16-year grip on power, and is now a weakened force after significant defeats in state elections." (04/17/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nzrsdwy  

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“Scientific wonderland” expected as spacecraft approaches Pluto

April 19, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"A planet redder than Mars? Rivers of liquid neon flowing across the surface? A subsurface ocean? A binary planet in a solar system filled with soloists? 'It sounds like science fiction,' notes planetary scientist Alan Stern. But it's not. It's Pluto, or at least inferences or speculations about Pluto astronomers have drawn from their ever-shifting vantage point, currently some 3 billion miles away." (04/18/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p3qja5m  

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Teaching character: American education’s obsession with novelty

April 19, 2015
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Rachel M. Cohen  

"Twice a week for 30 minutes, fifth graders at KIPP Washington Heights, a charter school in New York City, attend 'character class.' Each lesson is divided into three parts, according to Ian Willey, the assistant principal who teaches it. First, students find out what specific skill they’ll be focusing on that day. 'This morning we’re going to learn how to set a long-term goal,' Willey might tell them. Next, students are asked to practice the skill. In this case, students may imagine they have a long-term project to complete, and then work to construct a timeline with incremental deadlines. In the final part of the lesson, students would take time to collectively reflect." (04/17/15)

https://prospect.org/article/can-grit-save-american-education  

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Clinton campaign: Less fresh air, more air-freshener ad

April 17, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters
by Bill Schneider  

"Hillary Clinton’s video launching her campaign for the Democratic nomination was a montage of the New America. That’s the coalition Barack Obama brought to power in 2008: African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, working women, gays and lesbians, single mothers, Jewish voters, young people, educated professionals and the 'unchurched'. It’s the coalition that elected Obama twice, with a majority of the vote each time. That’s something even Bill Clinton couldn’t achieve. Many in these groups didn’t bother to vote when Obama was not on the ballot in the 2010 and 2014 midterms. Will they show up for Hillary?" (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kyb44t9  

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NH: Candidates battle for the libertarian vote

April 17, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"The battle for the 2016 Republican nomination is on in New Hampshire, where presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have targeted the libertarian vote in hopes of winning the country’s first primary. Marco Rubio, the third GOP candidate to announce thus far, has yet to visit the state as an official presidential contender. In New Hampshire, libertarian voters represent 10 to 15 percent of the vote in a Republican primary, a percentage that could make or break a candidate’s shot at the nomination." (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/l3edz9w  

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“Death tax” punishes success

April 17, 2015
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Kevin Brady & Steve Scalise  

"Like most Americans, we are aware that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. But what many family-owned businesses and farms don't realize is that when you die, the federal government swoops in and confiscates another 40% of the money that you and your family spent a lifetime building — and already paid taxes on. The 'death tax' is an immoral tax and an attack on the American dream. Too often, it forces families to sell the farm, ranch or business they've spent a generation or more building -- just to satisfy the IRS. These aren't, as opponents claim, the Paris Hiltons of the world. Those most hurt are the ranchers, farmers or entrepreneurs whose family assets are tied up in buildings, machines and property." (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kho868r  

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NASA probe set to crash-land on Mercury & “just not emerge again”

April 17, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"A NASA spacecraft that made surprising discoveries of ice and other materials on Mercury will make a crash landing into the planet around April 30, scientists said on Thursday. The Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or Messenger, probe has been circling the innermost planet of the solar system for more than four years, the first close-up studies of Mercury since NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft made three flybys in the mid-1970s. Out of fuel and losing altitude, Messenger is expected to make a high-speed crash near the planet’s north pole at around 3:25 EDT on April 30, flight controllers told reporters during a webcast news conference." (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/msu4u8k  

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Truth in politics now

April 17, 2015
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by David Greenberg  

"'No one has ever doubted,' wrote Hannah Arendt, 'that truth and politics are on rather bad terms with each other, and no one, as far as I know, has ever counted truthfulness among the political virtues.' In her essay 'Truth and Politics,' Arendt probed a series of questions that are every bit as relevant today as they were when she raised them in 1967. How much honesty should we expect from politicians? Can we trust that clear-cut facts will be believed in an age of mass media and ubiquitous public relations? How should we understand the differences between closed and open societies?" (04/14/15)

https://prospect.org/article/truth-politics-now  

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CDC: E-cig use soared, cigarette use fell among US youth

April 17, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"Electronic cigarette use among U.S. middle and high school students tripled in 2014 while cigarette use fell to record lows, according to provocative new data that is likely to intensify debate over whether e-cigarettes are a boon or bane to public health. Among high school students, e-cigarette use jumped to 13.4 percent in 2014 from 4.5 percent in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette use over the same period fell to 9.2 percent from 12.7 percent, the largest year-over-year decline in more than a decade. Overall, tobacco use among high school students grew to 24.6 percent from 22.9 percent. The data sparked alarm among tobacco control advocates who fear e-cigarettes will create a new generation of nicotine addicts who may eventually switch to conventional cigarettes." (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/jvtcxjw  

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Five ways to reduce inequality by holding corporations responsible

April 17, 2015
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Amy Domini & Sofia Faruqi  

"Not so long ago, business leaders believed that corporations should serve not only shareholders, but also employees and the community. This mission narrowed in the 1990s to a single-minded focus on shareholder return. A white paper by James Montier explains how the simplified purpose has created vast income inequality. Average CEO compensation has soared to 300 times higher than worker pay, and companies have become quick to increase profit by downsizing." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n26g6z7  

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Sudan: Polls close after boycott produces low turnout

April 17, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Voting in the Sudanese elections has ended, with only a third of the electorate casting their ballots, according to African Union observers. The head of the AU team overseeing the poll, Olusegun Obasanjo, said turnout stood at between 30-35%. He said some voters may have felt the result was a forgone conclusion and so abstained from casting a ballot. President Omar al-Bashir is expected to extend his 25 years in power, after opposition parties boycotted the poll." [editor's note: More proof that the power of "boycott" must be wielded with some discretion - SAT] (04/16/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32346244  

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Proposed premium hike would weaken Medicare

April 17, 2015
posted by

Our Future
by Diane Archer  

"In late March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with bipartisan support that would again raise Medicare premiums for people with Medicare with higher incomes. The Senate has also passed the legislation, and President Obama has said he will sign it. Through this bill, H.R. 2, Congress does some good. It fixes the payment formula for doctors who treat Medicare patients, ensuring they are paid adequately. It also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But hiking Medicare premiums, even a small amount for wealthier individuals, as a way to cover these costs weakens Medicare for everyone and could pave the way for the privatization of Medicare." [editor's note: Read this one carefully; the hidden agenda has nothing to do with aiding elderly people with medical concerns - SAT] (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n333uxg  

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FL: Scott says he’ll sue Obama over hospital money

April 17, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he is suing the Obama administration for withholding federal money for hospitals that serve the poor, saying they are doing so because the state won't expand Medicaid. The announcement is another twist in what has been a gritty yearlong battle with the feds over roughly $1 billion in funds for Florida hospitals. The fight has come to a head as the state Legislature works to finalize a state budget before May 1." (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oyz4rqa  

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Vietnam in the battlefield of memory

April 17, 2015
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Jon Wiener  

"When the Pentagon announced its plans for the nation’s official commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, historians and old-time activists feared the worst. The Pentagon commemoration office, which Congress authorized at a cost of up to $65 million, put up a website in which the war was portrayed as one of 'valor' and 'honor" -- a picture unrecognizable to many Americans, including both veterans and antiwar activists. ... In response, Tom Hayden and a new group, the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee, launched a petition last September declaring that 'this official program should include viewpoints, speakers, and educational materials that represent a full and fair reflection of the issues which divided our country during the war.'" (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kgmp7vl  

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Gay rights and religious liberty: Can Americans have both?

April 17, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"The recent backlash against 'religious accommodation' laws in Indiana and Arkansas is evidence of an increasingly bitter confrontation that is dividing the country and threatens to diminish the scope of religious liberty in America. That is the conclusion of a number of scholars and experts who are urging the United States Supreme Court to consider this confrontation when it hears oral argument on April 28 in a potential landmark case involving same-sex marriage. On one side are gay couples seeking the full benefits of equal treatment and dignity in a society that has long forced them into second-class status, or substantially worse. On the other, religious conservatives, who say they are being coerced to support and/or participate in activities that offend their religious beliefs." (04/16/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nxwn5vs  

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GM shielded from some ignition switch suits

April 16, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"General Motors Co will not have to face dozens of lawsuits accusing it of concealing an ignition-switch defect that led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles, a U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled on Wednesday. GM had argued it was protected from claims on vehicles pre-dating its 2009 exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while plaintiffs in the lawsuits said the company violated their constitutional rights by failing to disclose the defect. The decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber means GM may avoid potentially billions of dollars in liability, as well as the cost of defending those lawsuits, although claims arising from GM's conduct after its bankruptcy will not be affected." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qxld3d2  

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How did the NYPD break an NBA player’s leg?

April 16, 2015
posted by

The Nation The Nation
by Dave Zirin  

"At the risk of stating the utterly obvious, most Black men and women who suffer physical violence at the hands of the police aren't millionaires. They don't have lawyers on speed dial and lack the resources of a well-funded union leaping to their defense. But most Black men and women aren't NBA players. In other words, they aren't Thabo Sefolosha. The Atlanta Hawks guard will now miss the playoffs after an encounter with the NYPD left him with a fractured leg and an arrest record. ... Already, the gap between the initial police accounts (reprinted as objective narration by some media outlets) and the version that's coming to light, should be giving NYPD Commissioner William Bratton night sweats." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/kb8ntqp  

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Debate: Could Warren really run against Hillary?

April 16, 2015
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Jessica Stites  

"The prospect of Hillary Clinton as the anointed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee troubles some progressives, who worry about both the hawkish senator herself and a pro forma primary. Now the Clinton email scandal has convinced even some centrist Democrats that it might be helpful to have a Plan B, just in case Republicans finally get their pitchforks into Clinton. Sen. Bernie Sanders [I-VT] has all but declared, but even his most ardent supporters acknowledge the socialist would face an uphill battle. A vocal crowd, meanwhile, is holding out hope that Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] will run. ... In These Times brought together Erica Sagrans of Ready for Warren; Prof. Elizabeth Sanders of Cornell University’s department of government; and Allen Clifton, cofounder of Forward Progressives." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nftp2gw  

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Iran: The sensible, risky option

April 16, 2015
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gershom Gorenberg  

"'There are only bad options. It's about finding the best one.' ... 'You don't have a better bad idea than this?' ... 'This is the best bad idea we have, sir.' That snippet of dialogue is from the film Argo, set just after the Iranian revolution in 1979 ... [a] scene in which CIA Director Stansfield Turner is listening to the out-of-any-box scheme of two CIA men for smuggling six American diplomats out of Teheran. ... Thirty-six years later, the same script would be appropriate for calmly discussing the framework agreement with Iran on limiting its nuclear program. Calm, though, has been in short supply." (04/15/15)

https://prospect.org/article/sensible-risky-option  

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Proof that GOP is absolutely certain voters are tuned out

April 16, 2015
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Republicans depend on people believing what they say but not paying attention to the things they do. Just how certain are they that no one pays attention to the things they do? Read on. Today is Tax Day, and Republicans are voting to repeal the estate tax. This is a huge, huge tax cut for only the top 0.2 percent -- people worth more than $5.4 million. These people will get $269 billion over 10 years. The same Republicans have passed a budget outline that cuts infrastructure spending and guts our government by $5 trillion, mostly from services and benefits that help working families." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n4y24qz  

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South Africa: Once bastion of white minority, party embraces diversity

April 16, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"When a fresh-faced political outsider burst into the race for premier of South Africa’s most populous province in late 2013, the comparisons came fast and furious. Slinging slogans like 'Believe' and 'We Can Win,' Mmusi Maimane was the 'Obama of Soweto,' trumpeted one local paper. The young opposition leader promised a new political era in Gauteng, a region dominated by a single party (the African National Congress) for nearly two decades. Although Mr. Maimane ultimately lost that race, his energetic candidacy has helped propel him to the precipice of another Obama-esque milestone -- becoming the first black leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, after its current head, Helen Zille, steps down next month." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pr82h4r  

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Norquist steps down from NRA board amid probe of Islamist ties

April 16, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist is reportedly stepping away from NRA board of directors activities amid allegations of ties to radical Muslims. Breitbart.com and TheBlaze both reported Tuesday that Norquist, a powerful GOP figure, is distancing himself from the 25-member board a month after radio host Glenn Beck told his audience that Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA, had initiated an investigation into Norquist for alleged ties to Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o7y2myl  

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CA: Judge rejects petition to take marijuana off dangerous drugs list

April 15, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"A federal judge in California declined on Wednesday to remove marijuana from the federal list of most dangerous narcotics, rejecting a closely watched request from people accused of illegally growing pot, prosecutors said. Marijuana activists had been encouraged when U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller considered arguments for reclassifying marijuana during a five-day evidentiary hearing last year. Pot is listed by the U.S. government as a so-called Schedule One drug along with such narcotics as heroin." (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ompweaf  

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GOP offers new faces, stale ideas

April 15, 2015
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Debbie Wasserman Schultz  

"As more Republicans enter a crowded and divisive primary contest, several have suggested that they are the candidate capable of expanding the GOP's tent. But the stale ideas and failed policies they're peddling mean that the Republican tent is in danger of collapsing on the circus underneath. Under President Obama, Republicans have been defined by obstruction. In recent years, their de facto ringleader has been Sen. Ted Cruz, an architect of the government shutdown. While Cruz and his colleagues tried to take access to quality healthcare away from millions of Americans, the shutdown cost the economy a staggering $24 billion." [editor's note: It bears noting that this is the Democratic National Committee chair writing this, but that doesn't mean she's completely wrong about it - SAT] (04/15/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pmqkt6e  

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