Day: April 10, 2012

Teen Pregnancies Highest In States With Abstinence-Only Policies

Duh!  Tell a teen NOT to do something and you can bet your last dollar he/she will do it!

Think Progress

The number of teen births in the U.S. dropped again in 2010, according to a government report, with nearly every state seeing a decrease. Nationally, the rate fell 9 percent to about 34 per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19, and the drop was seen among all racial and ethnic groups. Mississippicontinues to have the highest teen birth rate, with 55 births per 1,000 girls. New Hampshire has the lowest rate at just under 16 percent.

This is the lowest national rate for teen birthssince the Centers for Disease Control began tracking it in 1940, and CDC officials attributed the decline to pregnancy prevention efforts. Other reports show that teenagers are having less sex and using contraception more often. Studies have backed this up. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that teenagers who received some type of comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant. And in 2007, a federal report showed that abstinence-only programs had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.”

But 37 states require sex education that includes abstinence, 26 of which require that abstinence be stressed as the best method. Additionally, research shows that abstinence-only strategies could deter contraceptive use among teenagers, thus increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy.

For example, take the states with the highest and lowest teen pregnancy rates. Mississippidoes not require sex education in schools, but when it is taught, abstinence-only education is the state standard. New Mexico, which has the second highest teen birth rate, does not require sex ed and has no requirements on what should be included when it is taught. New Hampshire, on the other hand, requires comprehensive sex education in schools that includes abstinence and information about condoms and contraception.

George Zimmerman’s attorneys quit: We have lost contact with him

Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhri via screenshot

I’ve always thought that George Zimmerman is not in the contiguous United States.  I think he’s in Cuba or some other Caribbean Island.

The Raw Story

The attorneys for George Zimmerman, who claims to have shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense, said during a press conference Tuesday that they had terminated their relationship with him.

Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhri said they had not be able to contact him since Sunday, but would continue to represent him if he decided to contact them. The attorneys said it would be wrong for them to claim to represent Zimmerman if they were not in contact with him.

“He has gone on his own,” Sonner said.

The attorneys had only talked with Zimmerman on the phone, but had planned to have face-to-face meetings.

Zimmerman called Fox News host Sean Hannity and special prosecutor Angela Corey’s office in Florida, according to the attorneys. Hannity refused to tell the attorneys what Zimmerman told him.

Zimmerman has completely avoided the media and has gone into hiding. Sonner and Uhri refused to indicate where he may be, but said anyone looking for him should look “far away from Florida.”

The attorneys said Zimmerman was “not doing well” and probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They described him as being “emotionally crippled.”

The attorneys said they didn’t believe that Zimmerman planned to flee the country.

Despite withdrawing their counsel, Sonner and Uhri still believe Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

Zimmerman told police that he had followed Martin on foot, but eventually lost sight of him and turned around to walk back to his SUV. That is when, according to Zimmerman’s account, Martin approached him from behind and confronted him. He said that Martin punched him in the nose, knocking him down, and then began banging his head into the ground. That is when Zimmerman allegedly shot Martin.

When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman claimed that he shot and killed the unarmed African American teenager out of self-defense, which allowed him to benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman was not arrested that night, a fact that later sparked national outrage and a flood of criticism.

Christie’s problems worsen in New Jersey

Well, Governor Chris Christie tried to paint himself as a no-holds barred tough guy for the sake of his state.   It turns out that he didn’t make New Jersey a priority in some of his decisions…

Rachel Maddow

April is proving to be an unusually unkind month for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

First, Newark’s Star-Ledger ran a lengthy, detailed report documenting the extent to which the governor’s legislative proposals, executive orders, and agency rules were written, at times word for word, by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy far-right group that seeks to impose a conservative agenda in state legislatures.

Then, the New York Times helped shine a light on Christie’s corporate welfare practices, in which the governor is handing out lucrative tax credits to preferred in-state corporations.

Today’s revelations, meanwhile, may be the most damaging to date.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey exaggerated when he declared that unforeseen costs to the state were forcing him to cancel the new train tunnel planned to relieve congested routes across the Hudson River, according to a long-awaited report by independent Congressional investigators.

The report by the Government Accountability Office, to be released this week, found that while Mr. Christie said that state transportation officials had revised cost estimates for the tunnel to at least $11 billion and potentially more than $14 billion, the range of estimates had in fact remained unchanged in the two years before he announced in 2010 that he was shutting down the project. And state transportation officials, the report says, had said the cost would be no more than $10 billion.

Mr. Christie also misstated New Jersey’s share of the costs: he said the state would pay 70 percent of the project; the report found that New Jersey was paying 14.4 percent. And while the governor said that an agreement with the federal government would require the state to pay all cost overruns, the report found that there was no final agreement, and that the federal government had made several offers to share those costs.

Even at the time, Christie’s decision on this project in 2010 was hard to understand. Conservatives, who’ve become increasingly hostile towards American infrastructure improvements, cheered the move, but from a substantive perspective, the governor’s decision was fairly characterized as “destructive and incredibly foolish.”

But this new report casts that decision in an even more damaging light. The Government Accountability Office is a non-partisan research/audit arm of Congress, and it’s reporting this week that Christie’s rationale for his strange decision wasn’t even true. It was a mistake to scrap a major public works project during a weak economy; it was a bigger mistake to explain the move with dishonest claims.

Also note, this didn’t just hurt New Jersey — the project was intended to alleviate congestion between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who requested the GAO investigation, said in a statement this morning, “This was the most important transportation project of our time. [The ARC Tunnel project] was critical to the future of New Jersey’s economy and it took years to plan, but Gov. Christie wiped it out with a campaign of public deception.”

Two Brain Cells and Leaving the Republican Party

Mario Piperni

One man’s look back on why it took him as long as it did to finally abandon the Republican party.

I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the religious fanatics, the attempts to get people fired, the absolute unwillingness to ever admit error, the smearing of Schiavo’s husband, the gay-bashing, etc.

But again, I will never know why it took so long. It’s not easy looking at everything you thought you knew and saying “Wow, was I ever full of shit.” But eventually, if you have two remaining brain cells bouncing around your thick noggin, the amount of evidence becomes unavoidable and undeniable.

Even for someone who voted for Bush twice.

Reason to hope, right?

Supreme Court Agrees to Reconsider Citizens United

The US Supreme Court Building is seen in this March 31, 2012 photo on Capitol Hill.Newser

GINSBURG, BREYER THINK MONTANA RULING WILL BE A CHANCE TO REVERSE DECISION

The Supreme Court has agreed to take a case that justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer say will give it a chance to rethink its infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision. The court is being asked to look into a Montana Supreme Court decision stating that its law restricting corporate election spending in state elections is fine, because it “arises from Montana history,” UPI reports. Essentially, Montana is arguing that Citizens United only applies to federal laws and elections, not state ones.

Two Montana corporations are asking the court to make a summary judgment to the contrary; their lead counsel argues that otherwise, “free speech will be seriously harmed,” because states anywhere could “ban core political speech.” But Ginsburg and Breyer earlier wrote that the case “will give the Court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.”

George Zimmerman Launches Website, Features Vandalized Black Cultural Center

Think Progress

According to NBC News correspondent Mara Schiavocampo, George Zimmerman has launched a new website:

Zimmerman’s attorneys have confirmed the site is operated & authorized by him RT @thinkprogress:@maracamp How do you know this is authentic?

On the website — therealgeorgezimmerman.com — Zimmerman solicits donations to support his “living expenses and legal defense.” He writes: “I have created a Paypal account solely linked on this website as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment. I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received.”

He also features a photo of a vandalized black cultural center at Ohio State University.

Zimmerman alleges that other purported legal defense funds are not actually providing him with financial support.

UPDATE 

The authenticity of the website has also been confirmed by CNN.

UPDATE 

NBC published a story confirming the authenticity of the website: “Attorneys confirmed to NBC News that the site, which domain records show was created Sunday, is real and is operated by Zimmerman himself.”

UPDATE

The other photo featured on Zimmerman’s website is from a rally held by Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pull support from ALEC

ThBillionaire Bill Gates. Image via AFP.e American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is having a very bad week, thanks to Color of Change and other groups…

The Raw Story

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday vowed to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential conservative nonprofit that drafts model bills for legislators.

The foundation contributed more than $375,000 to ALEC in the past two years, according to Roll Call.

“We have made a single grant, narrowly and specifically focused on providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance,” said Chris Williams, the company’s spokesman.

Though the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed almost 40 years to organize conservative state legislators and allow them to share and replicate one another’s legislative ideas — and has been “soliciting more input from private sector members”about what is good for them for more than 20 years — it wasn’t until recently that it attracted almost any scrutiny for its promulgation of everything from Stand Your Ground laws to voter ID to business-friendly tort reforms to Arizona’s controversial immigration law to privatizing public education. That increased scrutiny may have just started to get costly for ALEC.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Color of Change, and several other groups have begun targeting influential sponsors of ALEC. Last week, Kraft Foods Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Intuit Inc. announced they would no longer support the organization. Pepsi dropped out of ALEC in January.

Color of Change has set its sights on another member of ALEC, the telecom giant AT&T.

“After hearing from us about ALEC’s involvement in voter suppression, major corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Kraft have done the right thing and decided to stop funding the group,” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change, said Monday. “But despite numerous letters, emails and telephone calls from ColorOfChange, AT&T seems unconcerned their dollars are helping to suppress the black vote, support shoot first laws and undermine our democracy. It’s time that At&T hears the voices of people all across the country who expect better.”

Color of Change strategy director and head of the anti-ALEC campaign Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte last week told Raw Story that transparency is the best weapon of progressives and consumer advocates.

Color of Change, he said, plans to continue its campaign to publicly expose companies who still support ALEC. The group intends to mobilize supporters through a combination of email and social media.