Texas police officer violently Tasers 78-year-old man

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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It is definitely evident that there is a real problem with policing in America. Although police find themselves under scrutiny by cameras from the citizens, businesses, and their own, some continue undeterred with their brutality.

Officer Nathanial Robinson stopped Pete Vasquez purportedly for an expired inspection sticker. The seemingly ignorant officer did not understand that a dealer car with dealer plates did not require an inspection sticker. Instead of listening to Pete Vasquez explaining the cop’s error, it was obvious from the video that the “Almighty Officer” was not interested in having Pete Vasquez speak. He should have.

ABC13 reported the following:

VICTORIA, TX — A Victoria police officer has been placed on administrative duty after his dashboard camera caught him Tasering an elderly man.

In the video obtained by the Victoria Advocate, Officer Nathanial Robinson is seen arresting 76-year-old Pete Vasquez, when he suddenly throws Vasquez onto the hood of the car, pulls him to the ground and Tasers him.

Vasquez said the cop acted more like a pit bull than a police officer.

“I turn around and he pulled that Taser and he shot me with it, and you know it looked like he’s enjoying that,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said the officer Tasered him a second time for failing to get up fast enough.

“He ordered me to get up and get up, so he could put the handcuffs on me and I couldn’t get up, so he put his Taser and he did it again,” Vasquez said.

The Victoria Texas police chief said that officer Nathanial Robinson is now under investigation both locally and by the Texas Rangers.

There are many components to police behavior. Most importantly is the lack of accountability. The reality is that while some police officers are the perpetrators of bad behavior in the punitive manner in which they deal with some citizens, it is the citizens who bear much of the responsibility for indicting them when they misbehave. The dereliction of citizen’s civic duty embolden some police officers to exhibit an unchecked bullying behavior.

Apparently zombie TV shows need ‘Do Not Try This At Home’ warning labels: GunFAIL LXXXII

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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Seven of the 56 guns discovered by TSA agents on the person of passengers boarding flights at airports around the country during the week ending Dec. 12.

It’s been a few months since I started publishing the GunFAIL stories in lots of 100, and I’ve noticed that many of our regular categories reveal a remarkably consistent pattern from one post to the next. This time around, for instance, 39 of our 100 GunFAIL incidents involve people accidentally shooting themselves. In our last post, there were 41. This time, there were 17 fatalities. Last time, 15. This time, 22 kids accidentally shot. (Including the youngest in some time, but not the youngest of the year, a 9 month old shot and killed by his father while cleaning a still-loaded gun.) Last time, 20. This time, nine “home invasion” shootings. Last time, nine. This time, seven accidental discharges while cleaning guns. Last time, five. And so it continued on down the line. In other words, these accidents are regular and predictable.

The exact circumstances, though, are often varied and unpredictable. For instance, entry number 10 is one of nine accidental shootings among family members in this compilation (there were eight last time), but the individual circumstances set it apart. A 16-year-old boy was killed by his 24-year-old brother, because his brother likes to watch The Walking Dead while he fondles his gun. Presumably because it’s a scary TV show, and he likes to fantasize about killing the zombie bad guys. Smart.

Have you ever wondered whether anybody accidentally shot themselves in their sleep, with a gun they kept under their pillow? We’ve seen it a few times, and we’ve got another one here, in item number 15. A plain vanilla “home invasion shooting” at home becomes a somewhat thornier political issue when, as in entry number 57, the shooter is a city councilman. On the other hand, while the whole world likely already has heard about former baseball player Jose Canseco having accidentally shot his finger off while cleaning his gun, here in GunFAIL world, it’s merely entry number 71 out of 100.

Below the fold, 96 more stories.

Transgender public employees to get discrimination protections

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on stage during the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco, California August 12, 2013. The U.S. Justice Department plans to change how it prosecutes some non-violent drug offenders, ending

Attorney General Eric Holder

The Obama administration once again moves America forward on protections for transgender workers. Months after President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the Justice Department has announced that the Civil Rights Act forbids public employers from discriminating on the basis of gender identity:

The department will no longer take the position that the “prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se (including transgender discrimination),” Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said this week in a memo to U.S. attorneys.

It’s a reversal of a position the department took as recently as 2006, the memo says.

This doesn’t end the need for a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit discrimination by private employers, but since the incoming Republican Congress will certainly not be passing any such thing, it’s an important step.

Spotlight on green news & views: No fracking around in NY, Lima talks, chemical spill execs indicted

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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mountain  1

Mount Baker. See OceanDiver’s post.

Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don’t attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) normally appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Saturday Spotlight can be seen here. More than 20,350 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

[As we are on our vacation schedule, the Green Spotlight is only being posted on Saturdays for today, Dec. 27 and Jan. 3.]

How Some Really Smart NYS Fracktivists Beat Cuomo and Won the Fracking war—by lipris: “Something amazing happened in Albany today, something very few people thought possible just a few months ago. New York State will indefinitely extend it’s moratorium and essentially ban fracking. We aren’t kicking the can down the road for more studies. We’re basically banning the process outright. That’s a huge victory for many thousands of anti-fracking ‘fracktivists’ who have been fighting hard and smart, against really long odds, for years now. Here’s how they did it. It wasn’t that long ago, say 2007 or so, when fracking was an issue that wasn’t really on anyone’s radar, though there was enough concern for the state to place a moratorium on the practice in 2008. That began to change with the release of Josh Fox’s ‘Gasland’ documentary in 2010. That film brought the issue into focus for many people across the country and especially here in New York. That footage of tap water catching fire opened many, many eyes to what was at stake and one could sense a movement beginning to build not long after the film’s release.”

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Predators—by Desert Scientist: “I am not by nature a person who marches or demonstrates, but even my introverted personality can be inspired occasionally to take action.  So I found myself twice taking part in demonstrations supporting the Mexican wolf and its expanded reintroduction to the arid Southwest. At the public comment session organized by the Fish and Wildlife Service in New Mexico I found myself among the first to speak. Most of the speakers supported the Mexican wolf and I, like them, testified to the importance of expanding the program so that the wolves would have more territory. Then I listened as several people got up and stated flatly that even the few wolves that now exist in the Upper Gila are a danger to both livestock and human children. One man implied that the very idea of wolves had terrified the younger set along the Gila so much that they were afraid to wait for a school bus and that one town had erected cages so that the children could wait inside and be safe until the bus came. They had heard of Red Riding Hood and did not want to be eaten. This despite there being no records that anyone could point to of a non-rabid Mexican wolf ever attacking a human! On the stock predation they were on more solid ground, but then one

Great Horned Owl

rancher spoke in favor of the expanded introduction, saying that she could manage her stock to minimize losses. […]  Wild canids, such as foxes, coyotes and wolves are also not liked much in certain quarters. In my neighborhood we have occasional sightings of gray foxes, the most recent of which allowed me to get some closeup photos of both the mother and her kits. I have always liked the old folksong ‘The Fox,’ which starts out ‘The Fox went out on the chilly night. Prayed for the moon to give him light….’ It seems to embody the spirit of the wild.”

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Does your iPhone have an impact beyond the energy used to recharge it?—by citisven: “One of my beloved British pals proudly sent me a link to this encouraging news about UK energy use. New analysis of government statistics for BBC News shows that the average person in the UK is using 10% less electricity than five years ago. That is despite the boom in large TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. I don’t want to be the energy Grinch, but this sentence…‘despite the boom in large TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets’ begs another question. Namely, how much energy is used to manufacture all those new and frequently replaced devices Brits (and the rest of us in wealthy consumer nations) are enjoying? This is one of the key issues in (global) energy and greenhouse gas accounting, and one that once again almost tripped up the recent UN climate change negotiation process. Developed countries like the US, UK, EU, or Australia point to exactly the kind of energy savings mentioned in the article as a reason why they are doing their part, while developing nations insist they should be graded on a larger scale that also includes manufacturing & shipping footprints, as well as rich nations’ historic burning of fossil fuels that made them wealthy enough in the first place to now invest in renewable energy grids.”

green dots

It’s Raining in California – Is the Drought Finally Over?—by liberaldad2: “Ordinarily, a blog about the weather would be boring and inappropriate for DKos. However water is a political issue in California for 2 reasons. First is the history of water rights and the tactics used by the Metropolitan Water District to bring water to LA, which rankles many around the state and the West, but is not the subject of this diary. Second the extreme drought/deluge pattern we have been observing here may or may not be related to global warming and climate change, depending on who you ask. It’s been raining in Los Angeles this month. A lot. Through December 15, there have been 3 days with measurable rainfall, and 2 of them broke records at LAX (Dec 2 and 12). (Update: it is raining today, even as I write this—more good news.) Other parts of California have also seen similar weather patterns, with rainfall records broken in many places. For instance, Palmdale airport saw 1.18 inches on December 2, which shattered the previous record of 0.46 inches for that date. So, does that mean our 100 year drought is over? Well, not actually, but at least the news is good for a change.”

You can find more rescued green diaries below the orange garden layout.

This week in the war on workers: $100 million in grants for the ‘other four-year degree’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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Too often “job training” is used by Republicans as an excuse to take government assistance away from people who need it rather than as an investment in good jobs. But there is a right way to do it, as you can see in the video above and in a Department of Labor announcement of $100 million in grants for registered apprenticeship programs. The grants of $2.5 million to $5 million each will expand opportunities for “historically underrepresented populations including women, young men and women of color, people with disabilities, and veterans and transitioning service members.”

“An apprenticeship is the ‘other 4-year degree’. It is a tried and true job training strategy that offers a reliable path to the middle class, with no debt,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez who announced the grant opportunity during a visit to the Urban Technology Project’s Information Technology registered apprenticeship program in Philadelphia. “I encourage everyone to apply for this federal grant so that we can significantly scale apprenticeships opportunities for many more Americans in new industries and occupations.”

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week’s labor and education news.

Time for some Made in America holiday shopping

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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Gifts under Christmas tree.

Buying American-made products is a great way to support the American economy and jobs. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing:

Americans will spend $720 on average for holiday gifts this year. But if each of us spent just $64 on American-made goods this season, we could create 200,000 new jobs, right here in the United States!

Of course, everyone doesn’t necessarily have $64 to devote specifically to American-made goods—the sad fact is that it can be hard to find just what you want—but below the fold you’ll find some places to do research, as well as gift ideas at different price points and from established manufacturers and tiny Etsy sellers alike.

CIA unlikely to punish staff over Senate computer search: NYT

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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People pose with laptops in front of projection of binary code and CIA emblem in this picture illustration taken in ZenicaWASHINGTON (Reuters) – A panel investigating the CIA's search of a computer network used by U.S. Senate staff will not recommend disciplining the agency officials involved in the incident, according to the New York Times. The review panel is looking into the search by agency officials of staffers from the Senate Intelligence Committee who were investigating the CIA's use of torture in interrogations of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. …

This week at progressive state blogs: Part-time PA cops amount to ‘militia,’ Rick Scott barometer

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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Progressive State Blog Banner #1

Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don’t get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes Corruption of Dominion Power, Virginia Tobacco Commission Summed up in Political Cartoon:

Blue Virginia

The following political cartoon, sent to us by a talented artist, refers to this story on “Dominion’s Strange Tobacco Money.”

Dominion Resources, the powerful, Richmond-based utility with $13 billion in revenues, has strangely been getting $30 million public funds to bring a natural gas pipeline to a new generating plant in Brunswick County.

Odder still (or maybe not so) the public funds are coming from the GOP-controlled Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission which has figured in a wave of corruption since it was formed in 1999.

Even more bizarre, the tobacco commission made up of politically-appointed people arranged for Dominion to receive millions more than its own staff recommended,according to an intriguing report by the Associated Press.

Keep in mind, as the AP story points out, that “Dominion is without peer in terms of political sway in Virginia and routinely gets friendly legislation passed with broad bipartisan support.” Not coincidentally, Dominion “is the single biggest donor to state-level politicians, as well as one of the biggest gift givers – often treating lawmakers to Washington Redskins games or paying for them to attend events like the Masters golf tournament in Georgia.”> Oh, and “CEO Thomas Farrell II and McDonnell are childhood friends.”

Also worth noting is that Farrell – pictured in the political cartoon – received $10.9 million in compensation in 2013, while his company earned $545 million in the third quarter of 2014 alone. Does this sound like a company that needs any taxpayer-funded corporate welfare at all, let alone $30 million?!?

Below the orange gerrymander you will find more excerpts from progressive state blogs.

Upbeat Obama in weekly address: ‘America’s resurgence is real’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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The six years since the financial crisis have demanded hard work and sacrifice on everyone’s part. But as a country, we have every right to be proud of what we’ve got to show for it. More jobs. More insured. A growing economy. Shrinking deficits. Bustling industry. Booming energy.

Pick any metric you want – America’s resurgence is real.

President Obama struck a near-jubilant note in this morning’s weekly address, pointing to numerous successes in the past year—and since his first term began—from the economy to diplomacy to ending the war in Afghanistan.

On his lengthy list: deficit cut by two-thirds, affordable health care for millions of Americans, a rescued auto industry, job growth, rising wages, lower gas prices.

World leadership roles were on his mind as well:

Meanwhile, around the world, America is leading. We’re leading the coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. We’re leading the global fight to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We’re leading global efforts to address climate change, including last month’s joint announcement with China. We’re turning a new page in our relationship with the Cuban people.

He looked ahead, too, vowing to work to “reverse the decades-long erosion of middle-class jobs and income,” and making sure “our economy, our justice system, and our government work not only for a few, but for all of us.” He closed with a declaration:

We have set the stage for a new American moment, and I’m going to spend every minute of my last two years making sure we seize it.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

This week in science: possible Martian gift still under wraps

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 20-12-2014-05-2008

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Martian methane sources

This image illustrates possible ways methane might be added to Mars’ atmosphere (sources) and removed from the atmosphere (sinks). NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has detected fluctuations in methane concentration in the atmosphere, implying both types of activity occur on modern Mars. A longer caption discusses which are sources and which are sinks. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAM-GSFC/Univ. of Michigan)

Curiosity phones home with some interesting news on Mars that has some scientists scratching their heads: it detected methane. The substance is common in the outer solar system, but the methane detected on Mars came in “whiffs,” apparently from the ground. And while that’s not a smoking gun for life, it is consistent with the kind of microbes that might theoretically eek out a living under the cold, dry surface of the red planet in spots thought to be warmer and wetter:

The NASA scientists at AGU led by MSL project scientist Dr. John Grotzinger emphasized that they do not yet know how the methane is being generated. The process could be biological or not. There are abiotic chemical processes that could produce methane. However, the MSL SAM detections were daily spikes and represent an active real ongoing process on the red planet. This alone is a very exciting aspect of the detection.

The team presented slides to describe how methane could be generated. With the known low background levels of methane at ~ 1 part per billion, an external cosmic source, for example micro-meteoroids entering the atmosphere and releasing organics which is then reduced by sunlight to methane, could be ruled out. The methane source must be of local origin.

Speculation runs that a dozen or more meters below the surface, the overburden creates enough pressure for water to exist as a liquid. Because of the planet’s eccentric orbit and/or residual heat, it’s possible warmth flows through deep cracks in the crust created by impacts or that formed when the surface cooled dramatically billions of years ago. That warm water could provide a reservoir giving rise to either abiotic or biological processes that produce methane. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Mars is harboring a unique science-y gift, carefully wrapped in ancient layers of red soil and oxidized rock, just waiting for the next generation of wonder junkies to discover!