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Cardinal defending Hobby Lobby tells female reporter: Women can get birth control at 7-11

Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to CBS News

Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to CBS News

The Raw Story

Cardinal Timothy Dolan says that Christian businesses like Hobby Lobby should not be forced to obey government rules that require all health care insurance plans provide access to contraceptives because women can already buy birth control at 7-11.

In a interview that aired Sunday on CBS, host Norah O’Donnell asked Dolan where he stood on the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case.

“I would be inspired by the Hobby Lobby [owners],” Dolan said. “I think they’re just true Americans. They’re saying, look, the genius of America is that religious convictions affect the way we act… They sure have my admiration.”

“But doesn’t that set a dangerous precedent?” O’Donnell wondered. “If a private company can use religion to deny benefits to its employees?”

Dolan acknowledged that it could be dangerous in extreme circumstances, but he doubted that the Hobby Lobby argument was a detriment to the common good.

“Is the ability to buy contraceptives, that are now widely available — my Lord, all you have to do is walk into a 7-11 or any shop on any street in America and have access to them — is that right to access those and have them paid for, is that such a towering good that it would suffocate the rights of conscience?”

See video here…


Filed under Cardinal Timothy Dolan

11 Things That Are Weirdly Missing In Hawaii… And What They Can Teach You


rzdeb via Getty Images


H/t:  Ted for this awesome piece on the 50th State…

The Huffington Post

We often define a destination by the traits, characteristics and features that it has. But equally — if not more — telling is what you won’t find in a particular place.

You may not even realize it when you’re there, but oftentimes, a destination can be better understood by what it lacks than what it boasts. The below 11 things, for example, are virtually nonexistent in Hawaii, which may tell you a lot more about the Aloha state’s quirks and charms than its beautiful beaches and gorgeous sunsets ever will.

1. An ethnic majority 
If the U.S. is a melting pot, Hawaii is its boiling point. Demographically, Hawaii hasthe highest percentage of multiracial-Americans (23.6%), as well as the lowest percentage of white Americans (24.7%) of any state. The next most prevalent ethnicities are Filipinos (14.5%), Japanese (13.6%), and native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders (10%).

The lack of a clear ethnic majority contributes a great deal to the cosmopolitan diversity of the Aloha state. It is, after all, where East meets West, and everything from the food (SPAM musubi) to the clothing (slippahs and aloha shirts) to cultural norms (removing your shoes before entering a home) are influenced by the unique demographic makeup.

hawaii diverse

2. Jaywalking
Jaywalking is technically illegal in a lot of places, but Honolulu’s devotion to the law is especially stringent. With so many vacationers — their heads in the dreamy skies — the city saw an “alarming increase in pedestrian fatalities” a few years ago, prompting the Honolulu Police Department to crack down with a Pedestrian Safety Task Force.

Now, with a fine of $130, not even tourists are immune from jaywalking tickets, and you’ll often see people obediently and patiently waiting at empty intersections.

3. Billboards
Only four states — Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine — have outlawed billboards, and Hawaii’s ban has been on the books the longest. You may not realize this small perk while stuck in Honolulu, the nation’s second-worst traffic city, but you will notice that many of the state’s roadside views are uncluttered and gorgeous — a testament to how much the Aloha state values its ʻaina (land) and preserving its beauty.

hawaii highway

4. Snakes
Need proof that Hawaii is paradise? You won’t find any snakes on the islands. “As an isolated archipelago,” reminds us, “the only way for wildlife species to get to the Hawaiian Islands is to fly or swim across the Pacific Ocean.” While anillegal interloper is discovered every so often, Hawaii is largely snake-free, underscoring the islands’ unique geographic and evolutionary history as well as solidifying its stature as a hiker’s paradise.

5. License plates from other states
At a full 2,400 miles from the next closest landmass, Hawaii is the world’s most isolated population center, a fact hammered home by the almost total lack of out-of-state license plates. Newcomers have to register their vehicles within 30 days of arrival, which means it is pretty rare to see anything but the state’s iconic rainbow plates.

Weirdly enough, Hawaii does have interstate highways, but all those rainbows on the road remind you that no one is just driving through Hawaii.

hawaii license plate

6. Day light savings time
Hawaii eschews the practice for one simple reason: because of its latitude, there isn’t much of a difference in daylight between winter and summer. The latest the sun will set this year, for instance, is 7:18pm; the earliest was 5:48pm — a difference of an hour and a half. New York City’s latest sunset, by contrast, will be 8:31pm this year, while its earliest was 4:28pm — a difference of more than four hours!

The Aloha state’s daylight monotony only adds to its overall climate monotony. With the weather and the daylight fairly consistent throughout the year, days, weeks and seasons can begin to blur together. No wonder time seems to slow down in the islands.

7. Voter turnout
For a number of reasons that are very specific to Hawaii, the Aloha state has the worst voter turnout in the country. After fewer than half of the eligible population cast ballots in 2008, CNN laid out eight reasons for the state’s poor turnout, many of which can tell you a lot about the islands. Among them: the laid-back surfer lifestyle (one official said that if the swell is good, he knows turnout will be especially low); the sense of apathy due to the physical distance to and time difference with D.C.; the poor public education not encouraging civil engagement; the fact that it’s a one-party stateoften means elections appear meaningless; and the state’s contentious history with the U.S. leaves many in Hawaii resentful of America’s “unlawful” takeover of the island nation.

beach relaxation

8. Mosquitoes
OK, OK, mosquitoes do exist in Hawaii, but compared with many other tropical destinations, mosquitoes are amazingly absent here. While you may get bites while hiking near a river or when the trade winds die down, Hawaii’s strong breezes make beach-side, sunset enjoyment largely hassle-free. No wonder so many people have beachside weddings here.

9. Car horns
Despite the aforementioned traffic, it is almost unheard of to use your horn in Hawaii. The absence of car noise, even in the big city of Honolulu, is a constant reminder of the aloha lifestyle. Buses boast that they are “Driven with aloha” and the slow island lifestyle means drivers are more apt to let you in rather than honk when you’re forced to cut them off. Like the absence of billboards, the absence of car horns also says a great deal about how people in Hawaii view pollution, whether it be audible, visual or environmental. Why tar the beauty of the islands?

car horn

10. RVs and Mobile Homes
While there’s no actual ban on RVs or mobile homes, you’d be hard pressed to find either in Hawaii. This is largely due to the exorbitant cost of shipping such large vehicles over from the mainland. Think about it: anything that isn’t produced or manufactured in Hawaii, has to be shipped over, making many costs skyrocket.

Moreover, if you decide you just can’t part with your RV, you’ll soon realize there are limited highway miles on each of the islands, thus kind of defeating the point. Just another reminder that, in Hawaii, there’s no real need to rush from place to place — the point is to appreciate the view you already have.

11. Megabanks
Not a single one of the country’s ten biggest banks, including Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo, has a retail location in Hawaii. The cost of doing business (the high price of real estate, manning call centers for a separate time zone, and the cost of shipping equipment like ATM machines) apparently isn’t worth it for large banks, especially since Hawaii is a relatively small market. This doesn’t really affect people who live in Hawaii — they remain fiercely loyal to local banks like First Hawaiian and Bank of Hawaii — but it does affect tourists who may not being able to withdraw money from an ATM without paying exorbitant fees.



Filed under Hawaii

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Rips Tea Party ‘Magical Thinking’


The upcoming book from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rips the tea party’s “magical thinking.” | Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

Elizabeth Warren’s new book isn’t just a memoir — it’s a full-throated endorsement of modern, populist liberalism and a scathing indictment of anti-government “magical thinking” by the tea party.

While the Democratic Massachusetts senator structures her new volume, A Fighting Chance, as a chronological tale of her life, she also uses her experiences to make strategic points and arguments about her political philosophy, which embraces government and the labor movement as forces for good.

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that if ‘big government’ disappears, so will society’s toughest problems. That’s just magical thinking — and it’s also dangerous thinking,” Warren writes. “Our problems are getting bigger by the day and we need to develop some hardheaded, realistic responses. Instead of trying to starve the government or drown it in the bathtub, we need to tackle our problems head-on, and that will require better government.”

She recounts in the book, which is due out next week, that she believed she was doing that as she put together the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help protect regular people from the sorts of financial chicanery the banking industry was guilty of before the mortgage market meltdown.

And sometimes she ran headlong into those very people she feels are guilty of magical thinking, such as Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who won election in 2010 as a tea party candidate from Staten Island.

Warren met Grimm early in his first term. She figured that as an ex-Marine, former FBI man who investigated Wall Street crime and graduate of a public university, he’d be someone on the GOP side who would understand her focus on making government work better and holding giant financial institutions accountable for breaking the rules.

He didn’t.

“When I launched into an enthusiastic description of what we were trying to get done at the agency, the congressman looked surprised,” Warren writes. “After a bit, he cut me off so he could make one thing clear: He didn’t believe in government.”

A stunned Warren asked him if that included the FBI. He allowed that he believed in the Bureau, “but not other forms of ‘big government’ and certainly not a consumer protection agency.”

Warren found that more than a little ironic for a guy who had spent most of his adult life working for or benefiting from government institutions. And he still was.

“Heck, he had even been quoted as saying that he wanted the government-paid health insurance when he joined Congress, because ‘God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation. That could happen to anyone,’” Warren writes, citing a New York Daily News interview Grimm gave.

The “could happen to anyone” remark actually is one of the larger themes in Warren’s book, whether its about health problems or financial ruin.

And she thinks it’s government’s job — as her book title suggests — to help give a theoretically injured Michael Grimm or anyone else a fighting chance.


Filed under Elizabeth Warren

Baltimore Will Stop Automatically Detaining Immigrants, Maryland Governor Says



Think Progress

The Baltimore City Detention Center will start scrutinizing federal orders to hold immigrants for deportation instead of automatically granting these requests, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced Friday. The policy change adds Baltimore to the growing number of cities in the U.S. resisting federal immigration policy.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents often ask local jails to hold immigrants for deportation. Baltimore will now only grant these requests if the immigrant has been charged with or convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor. “We will focus our efforts on complying with ICE detainers when there is an actual threat to the public’s safety,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley’s move comes on the heels of a Baltimore Sun investigation that found more than 40 percent of Maryland’s deportees had no criminal record at all, one of the highest percentages of any state in the nation.

The federal program Secure Communities was intended to catch and deport dangerous criminals by coordinating with local jails. In reality, the vast majority of “convicted criminals” deported through Secure Communities were guilty only of traffic violations or civil immigration offenses, such as crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa. Just 12 percent of deportees in 2013 were convicted of serious crimes like murder, sexual assault, or drug trafficking.

While deporting mainly harmless immigrants, Secure Communities has also seriously damaged immigrant neighborhoods’ relationships with law enforcement. Immigrants areafraid to report crimes or come forward as witnesses for fear of being deported or getting a family member deported.

Because of this, California and Connecticut have passed laws to prohibit police officers from honoring ICE hold requests except in cases of serious crimes. Several cities, includingChicagoSanta Clara, and New York City, have adopted policies to defy ICE. Most recently, Philadelphia’s mayor signed an executive order to forbid police cooperation with ICE unless the federal government gets a warrant, making it one of the most progressive cities for immigrants.

As immigration reform continues to languish in the House, President Obama is coming under pressure from activists and members of his own party to end deportations nationwide for those who would be eligible for citizenship under the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform plan. In the meantime, states and municipalities all over the country arestarting to take action to protect their immigrants from restrictive federal policies.


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Filed under Immigration

Rush Limbaugh: Bad News Coming From Everywhere – Even The Right


There have been rumors of Rush Limbaugh’s radio career demise for a few years now.  The following article should shed some light on the progress thusfar…

Liberals Unite

It’s been a very bad week for talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, and a very rewarding week for the millions of Americans who have protested his extreme hate speech for decades. Two years ago, newer groups like BoycottRush, FlushRush and StopRush, began a massive national boycott movement that is exposing Limbaugh and crushing his career. Here are four new recent developments:

1. Politico published an article revealing that Tea Party organizations (some created by the Koch brothers) have contributed millions to Rush Limbaugh. What does this mean? For Rush it means they helped sustain him while thousands of sponsors pulled their ads. It means this may lead to an investigation to see if the funding was done legally. According to the FCC, if you receive money from an organization that pays you to promote their propaganda, without telling your audience, it may be considered ‘payola’  - and it may be illegal.


“The Heritage Foundation at the end of January ended its five-year sponsorship of El Rushbo’s show, for which it had paid more than $2 million in some years and more than $9.5 million overall. In 2012, FreedomWorks paid at least $1.4 million to make him an endorser, though it’s not clear that the sponsorship is ongoing.”

2. Forbes Senior Political Contributor and regular on Forbes On Fox, Rick Ungar, believes Rush Limbaugh has become a joke. He also shows, via data, that Limbaugh has outlived his audience. Ungar, also known as Forbes ‘token lefty’ implies Rush is now in the, toss out the old – bring in the new, demographic category. The median age of his dwindling audience (as well as the aforementioned sponsor boycott) no longer appeal to advertisers.

Rick Ungar:

“At long last, it appears that Rush Limbaugh has run out of steam. I have to acknowledge that I have sensed Rush getting by on fumes for some time now (yes, I tune into his show from time to time to enjoy his broadcasting skills if not his message). However, it was only recently that the world of Limbaugh crossed that thin red line from partially serious to total self-parody and audience deception—a line crossed from which there is often no return.”

“Network television doesn’t just fail to count older viewers; it tries to drive them away. A show with an older viewership is dead air. Advertisers have been pushed by ad agencies into an obsession with associating their product with a youthful brand. The demo rating, 18-49, is the only rating that matters. Viewers younger than that can still pay off. Just ask the CW. Older viewers however are unwanted.”

3. Speaking of advertisers, Rush Limbaugh can’t seem to hold on to them, without doling out heavy discounts and/or free ad space. After his notorious on-air verbal attack of then unknown, Sandra Fluke, the national protests was set into motion. Hardworking FlushRush volunteers now monitor The Rush Limbaugh Show nationwide. They document the sponsor ads they hear on his show, into the StopRush Database, along with contact and ad details. The sponsor data is then posted back into the FlushRush private Facebook group, and onto the BoycottRush Facebook page for public use. There have been hundreds of articles written about Rush Limbaugh and the boycotts against him, that have appeared in at least a dozen political online news groups, including Liberals Unite and Daily Kos, and have been viewed by millions. The result? Limbaugh and the radio stations that carry him have lost millions in ad revenue. Very few took the Limbaugh boycott seriously two years ago. It reminds me of the Gandhi quote:

Mahatma Gandhi:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

4. And lastly; Ed Shultz interviewed Holland Cook this week. Cook believes Limbaugh’s business is over, for good, due to the various organized boycotts mentioned above. Each does their own part. The protests have been supported by many big and small Liberal organizations, websites, Facebook pages/groups, and Twitter.

Holland Cooke: (via Daily Kos)

“Hundreds of blue-chip national advertisers basically have not only wandered away from Rush Limbaugh and some of the other righties, they’ve abandoned the format entirely. They are afraid to be heard on a news talk station because this man’s use of his free speech triggered the opposing viewpoint exercising THEIR right to free speech. The boycotters are speaking and using the marketplace to say, ‘ENOUGH!’”

Here is an audio clip of the Ed Shultz/Holland Cook interview:

So now, we’re not only hearing from consumers, we are hearing from industry experts on the left and right, many of whom know the business better than anyone and would not risk their reputations on merely gossip. Yes, yes, the public has had enough.  Limbaugh’s self-proclaimed ‘Dittohead’ fans have demanded that Rush’s right to free speech, also gives him the right to spew misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, and racism on public radio. He’s been getting away with it for over 25 years. After the Sandra Fluke attack, the general public soon realized that neither his radio affiliates, nor the FCC, planned to do anything about his hate speech, so American consumers decided to use their own version of free speech via petitions, boycotts, and their consumer dollars, to bring Limbaugh down by way of his sponsors. It’s reported 3,100 companies have pulled their ads from Limbaugh, and the protestors and boycotters have never been closer to pulling Limbaugh off the air. When he has moved on, this country will be all the better, and the public will prove once again, it can be done. We can eliminate hate speech from the media, if takes one host at a time.

You see, you can toss  Americans some Limbaugh, Fox News, Bush/Cheney, Koch brothers, even some Supreme Court corruption, but when push comes to shove, Americans will stand up, show up, take charge, and demand a return to democracy and common decency. Salute to all the many boycotters and volunteers.


Filed under Rush Limbaugh

BarackNRoll: Obama Hangs Out With Pittsburgh Band After They Serenade His Motorcade

comfort tech

Honestly, how cool is our POTUS?


What do you do if President Obama and Vice President Biden roll into your town outside of Pittsburgh, to the Community College just a stones throw away from your house? If you’re the band Comfort Tech, you turn the driveway into a stage and play an original song, Lumberjack, as the POTUS motorcade rolls by and hope he notices.

He did.

Watch here:

Comfort Tech is comprised of “Sean Conner and Eric DiFiore on guitars and vocals, Kevin Stripp/ Dan Morgan on drums, and Brett White on bass and vocals”, per their FB page. In their video of the event, they were deeply appreciative of the courtesy extended to them, “Serenading Mr. President Obama as he arrives with his motorcade. Most appreciative of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their kind staff for their outstanding courtesy…”

Watch the Motorcade Serenade here:

Lexi Belculfine at the The Post Gazette reported:

When singer and guitarist Sean Conner, 24, realized POTUS and VPOTUS would be in their back yard, he said he knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But how to get the attention of the leaders of the free world?

They made a red, white and blue banner reading “Welcome Mr. President!” and hung it on their porch, above the driveway-turned-stage. The plan was to be respectful and not disruptive, he said.

It worked! The Secret Service wouldn’t let the President stop to hear the band, so Obama had the Secret Service ask the band to come and meet him, which they did. They noted on theirFacebook Page that they heard the President asking, “Where’s Comfort Tech?”

The President told them to send their CD over when it was done, and then offered to pose for a picture.

Bass player and singer Brett White told the Post Gazette, “I did not touch him until he put his arm around me.”

The band was then invited to stay for the speech, during which the President gave them a shout out. All in all, a tremendously cool outcome from their plan to serenade the motorcade.

The White House followed up, reminding the band to send over their next album:

It’s really difficult to imagine any previous Presidents other than Bill Clinton doing this, and certainly not getting praised for their courtesy.


Filed under President Barack Obama, VP Joe Biden

Why Would Anyone Vote Republican? Let’s See…

4.Allen West Makes Up A Top 10 List To Vote Democrat - Let Us Return The Favor On Republicans

When Republican Allen West made his “Top 10 Reasons To Vote Democrat In 2014″ he relied upon misrepresentations and lies. We thought to return the favor, but with a heavy dose of truthiness – Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via

Addicting Info

Tea Party lunatic Allen West, who lost his bid for reelection  in 2012, is also somewhat of a comedian. On his personal page,, West posted a rather funny article called the ‘Top 10 Reasons to Vote Democrat in 2014.” The article lays out just what you would expect: liberals are taking your money, liberals want to take your guns, liberals elect activist judges to “rewrite the Constitution”, etc. etc. Very funny, coming from the guy who nearly has a 3:1 lie-to-truth ratio on Politifact. West, who does not shy away from controversy, told his readers that they would “get a kick” out of it. So to our readers, you’ll certainly get a kick, and a sucker punch with this.

10. I’ll vote Republican because even though I’m a woman, I love being told that I shouldn’t be paid equally because of the “free-market.” I also love being told that I’m not allowed contraception, or my legal right to an abortion (but a man can have Viagra and penis pumps no problem).

9. I’ll vote Republican because we must suffer the deaths of 31,000 men, women and children a year in order to preserve the option of assassinating our democratically elected politicians with our guns we bought at Walmart.

8. I’ll vote Republican because I work hard for my money, and nothing makes me happier than my tax dollars going to subsidize Big Oil and the major banks that crashed our economy in 2008. I also love that the Republicans are blaming the “lazy” minority for my economic woes.

7. I’ll vote Republican because I believe a President who gives Americans healthcare is a “terrorist dictator” but a tax-evading rancher in Nevada who uses women as human shields is a “patriot.”

6. I’ll vote Republican because we are the “pro-life” party, even though our deepest cuts go to feeding, housing, clothing, educating and medically treating low-income children, elderly and returning veterans.

5. I’ll vote Republican because rather than admitting our world’s climate is changing, I’ll sit around with my thumb up my butt and deny science so billionaires like the Koch Brothers can pollute the Earth and give more to my campaign.

4. I’ll vote Republican because even though our Founding Fathers have claimed we are not a “Christian Nation,” I still want my Christian faith to dictate who can and cannot get married, what children may learn in public schools, and what holidays may and may not be celebrated in public.

3. I’ll vote Republican because every judge who upholds the right to get married, to get an abortion, or be treated like a decent human being is an “activist judge,” but the judges who allow dirty money to pollute our elections are “freedom-loving.”

2. I’ll vote Republican because I support the gap between the richest and the middle class to widen because our policies only pander to the rich, and then complain that there is “class warfare” against us.

And finally, the number 1 reason I’ll be voting Republican:

1. I’ll vote Republican because I can’t get over the fact that President Obama was democratically elected twice, so I’ll make up a barrage of fake scandals like voter fraud, IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, FEMA camps, to dumb down and inject fear into the GOP base so they don’t see how destructive our policies are.

These are the top 10 reasons why we MUST let the GOP take back the Senate and keep control of the House!


Filed under Republicans

10 things you need to know today: April 19, 2014

Protesters in Ukraine have ignored a tentative agreement between Washington and Moscow.

Protesters in Ukraine have ignored a tentative agreement between Washington and Moscow. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The Week

Pro-Russia militants stand their ground in Ukraine, the Obama administration delays a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and more

1. Pro-Russia militants ignore agreement between Russia, Ukraine
Saying they do not take orders from Washington or Moscow, pro-Russia militants refused to end their occupation in eastern Ukraine on Friday. Russia, the European Union, Ukraine, and the United States signed an agreement in Geneva meant to help stabilize relations in the region, but the protesters said they would not abandon their mission while Ukraine’s current government remains in place. Tensions had already mounted again between Moscow and Washington on the deal’s language, with the U.S. ultimately deciding to deploy ground troops to Poland next week, as part of an expanded NATO presence in central and eastern Europe. [The Washington Post]


2. U.S. State Department delays Keystone XL decision
The State Department announced on Friday that it is extending the amount of review time federal agencies have in regard to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The extension likely means President Obama, who effectively has the final call on whether the pipeline moves forward in development through Nebraska, will not have to issue a decision until after the midterm elections. That timing drew ire from Republicans, who noted the process has already dragged on for five years. But officials said they need more time to determine whether Nebraska’s legal wrangling could change Keystone’s route, affecting the assigned agencies. [The Associated PressThe New York Times]


3. Captain of South Korean ferry charged, in custody
Cited for abandoning ship, negligence, causing bodily injury, not seeking rescue from other ships, and violating “seamen’s law,” Lee Joon Seok was taken into custody by South Korean police on Friday. If convicted, Seok could face as much as a life term in prison. Nearly 270 people are still missing from the sunken ferry, and divers who managed to enter the second deck on Friday were quickly forced back out by rough waters. “Absolutely, there could be areas in there where there is breathable air,” Mike Dean, the U.S. Navy deputy director for salvage and diving, said. “But the trouble right now is the temperature and getting people to them.” [CNN]


4. Arts-and-crafts chain Michaels confirms security breach
Michaels, the nation’s largest arts-and-crafts chain, announced on Thursday that more than 2.6 million debit and credit cards used at its stores between May 8, 2013 and January 27 of this year had been compromised in a security breach. While the attack apparently did not breach personal information such as names and PIN numbers, compromised data did include payment numbers and expiration dates. Subsidiary chain Aaron Brothers was also attacked, with about 400,000 customers’ cards potentially compromised. [The Associated Press]


5. Nigerian military admits abducted girls have not been freed
Nigerian authorities backtracked on a Wednesday statement that said most of the girls kidnapped from a northeast boarding school had been freed. Officials now believe nearly 100 girls are still missing, although some parents put the number closer to 150 or even 200 missing girls. It is thought the girls were abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is forbidden” — the group frequently attacks schools and other places of learning. The government’s security forces, vigilante groups, local hunters and parents are all searching for the girls, who were taken on Monday night. [BBC News]


6. Four French journalists held captive in Syria freed
After nearly a year in captivity, an unknown group released four French journalists on Friday. President Francois Hollande’s office said he felt “immense relief,” and that the four men — Edourard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin, and Pierre Torres — were in relatively good health, despite “very trying conditions.” A Turkish news agency said soldiers on a routine patrolthrough the southeast Sanliurfa province found the men blindfolded and cuffed there; they had been dropped near the Turkey-Syria border. [The Associated PressThe New York Times]


7. Death toll at attacked South Sudan U.N. base rises to 58
A United Nations official said the death toll from a South Sudan attack on Thursday has risen to 58. Armed youths attacked a U.N. compound in the war-ravaged town of Bor. The mob killed 58 people and injured at least 100 more. Many of the people on the base are ethnic Nuers seeking shelter from fighting which has broken out across the country. [TIMEReuters]


8. No injuries reported in strong Mexico earthquake
With tremors felt 165 miles away in Mexico City, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck near resort-town Acapulco on Friday morning. While officials patrolled the streets afterward checking for damage, no injuries were reported. “People started running out in the street. Street signs and street lights were waving back and forth,” reported NPR‘s Jasmine Garsd. “It lasted for quite a bit.” [NPR]


9. Scientists discover cave-dwelling female bugs with penises
Researchers discovered cave-dwelling insects in Brazil, belonging to the rare Neotrogla genus, that possess sex-reversed genitalia. The females use an organ similar both structurally and functionally to a penis in order to penetrate the males’ vagina-like opening, which houses their sperm. Researchers looking at the copulating insects found the couples mated for an average of 50 hours. They believe the findings could be used to test different hypotheses about sexual selection and the evolution of genitalia. [National Geographic]


10. Surgeons remove 12 gold bars from Indian man’s stomach
Surgeons called the three-hour operation to remove 12 gold bars from an Indian man’s stomach earlier this month “tedious.” Indeed: The 63-year-old businessman had told his doctor he swallowed a bottle cap out of anger, but when surgeons operated, they instead discovered the gold bars, weighing nearly a pound, total. India is the world’s largest gold consumer, and people try to smuggle the substance into the country because of the high duty costs. “Finding gold in a patient’s stomach was something unbelievable,” Dr. CS Ramachandran, a senior surgeon at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said. [BBC News]


Filed under 10 things you need to know today

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study

In America, money talks… and democracy dies under its crushing weight. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Reiterating recent comments on this blog about the topic of Oligarchy…

Common Dreams

study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:

Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.

Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.

What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the U.S. is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media). The U.S., in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious “electoral” “democratic” countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That’s it, in a nutshell.



Filed under American Oligarchy

Seen on the Internet – 4-18-2014

Found on Facebook


I thought this comment about the graphic was worth sharing:

Noam Chomsky is basically correct. When executives make 14,000 an hour (CEOs) compared with their employees who make 14,000 per year, then our society has basically become an oligarchy, and a revolutionary mind-set is needed to return this country to a democratic path. And that will involve making major changes in Congress as well, the members of who who are basically in the hands of the robber-barons.


Filed under Seen On the Internet