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Sarah Bryner | OpenSecretsblog | Reader Supported News | November 21, 2014
enate Democrats successfully blocked a bill Tuesday that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial measure fell one vote shy of overcoming a filibuster, with 59 senators supporting it and 41 opposing. The vote followed the bill’s approval in the House by a much wider margin, with 252 lawmakers voting to advance the pipeline.
The vote largely fell along party lines. All Senate Republicans supported construction of the pipeline but they were joined by 14 Democrats, including three of the four Democrat incumbents who lost their re-election bids earlier this month. For Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the bill’s main sponsor, the vote was considered an important test of her effectiveness in advance of a Dec. 6 runoff that will determine whether she keeps her seat. In the House, 31 Democrats crossed the aisle to side with the Republican majority.
Construction of the pipeline has been decried by environmental groups and championed by heavyweights in the oil and gas industry. Both of these interests are no strangers to money in politics. The oil and gas industry has long been a generous donor to federal candidates and committees — and increased its donations in 2014 over 2010. In the environmental community, where the League of Conservation Voters has long been the lead player on this front, environmental activist Tom Steyer is 2014′s top overall donor.
Ohio statehouse. (photo: Gus Chan/The Plain Dealer)
Julie Carr Smyth | Associated Press | Reader Supported News | November 21, 2014
bill that would impose some of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions cleared an Ohio House committee Thursday after suddenly re-surfacing in the lame duck session.
The GOP-led House Health Committee passed the so-called heartbeat bill 11-6 after several emotional hours of testimony. The divisive measure had languished without a hearing since it was introduced more than a year ago. A nearly identical bill cleared the House in 2011 but was stopped in the state Senate.
The legislation would restrict most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
Before the vote, abortion rights advocates attacked the measure as unnecessary, dangerous and misogynist, and the American Civil Liberties Union warned it would draw an immediate, costly legal challenge if passed.
(photo: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
ALSO SEE: In Ferguson the Arrests Have Begun
Andrew Jerell Jones | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | November 21, 2014
arren Wilson will probably get let off.
It’s an outcome that will appall many Americans, sparking outrage not only in Ferguson but throughout the country. And despite all of that, it’s an outcome that will not surprise any black person, including yours truly.
Obviously, I hope that is not the case. I truly do hope that I am wrong and that Wilson is indicted by the Missouri grand jury now deciding his fate, which would mean he would at least face a trial and criminal charges over his killing of Mike Brown. But it’s hard not to expect the worst after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard before the decision officially came down.
This isn’t knee-jerk pessimism at work here. To the black community, a non-indictment for Brown would be predictable. It would be as predictable as the verdict in the trial over the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a verdict that acquitted defendant George Zimmerman, allowing him to continue doing stupid things. Or as predictable as the involuntary manslaughter verdict handed down in the shooting death of restrained, unarmed, 23-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland. Or as predictable as the acquittal of police officers charged with killing unarmed Sean Bell in Queens, New York by firing 50 shots into his vehicle. As predictable as the acquittal of the police officers who fatally shot unarmed Amadou Diallo 19 times, killing him. As predictable as the acquittals in the infamous police beating of Rodney King. And so on, back to Emmett Till and before.
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee (from left) Senators Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., listen to testimony in a Senate hearing room in this file photo. (photo: AP)
Jon Queally | Common Dreams | Reader Supported News | November 21, 2014
embers of Intelligence Committee say White House is stalling release of torture report as high-level disagreement over what American people can know about abuses by CIA reaches boiling point; Transparency advocates tell lawmakers with access to report, ‘Just read it into the record.’
“The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”
That’s what Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told the Huffington Post on Thursday night regarding continued White House stalling over release of a report that catalogs the internal investigation of CIA torture during the Bush years. The comments followed a close-door meeting between Senate Democrats and Obama administration officials that took place just hours before the president gave a much-anticipated speech on another subject, immigration reform.
Rockefeller said the torture report is “being slow-walked to death” by the administration and told the HuffPost, “They’re doing everything they can not to release it.”
“[The report] makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad,” Rockefeller continued, “which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future.”
Lauren E. Childers | Windy City News | November 12, 2014
On Nov. 2, the 25th Chicago Humanities Festival hosted well-renowned New York poet Eileen Myles at the Poetry Foundation. Myles opened with chronicles from poetry new and old, but dedicated much of the time for an extended reading of her forthcoming dog memoir, Afterglow, inspired by her now-late companion Rosie.
As the Chicago Humanities Festival honors many artists and intellectuals in its month long series of events, Myles was featured in conjunction with the Poetry Foundation, “an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture,” according to its website. The Poetry Foundation also releases a monthly magazine that, in the past, has included Myles as a featured author.
Myles’ works are known for being queer, funny, feminist and provocative, with Chicago Humanities stating, “Her performances mix stand-up, Zen talk, and the first poetry reading that blew you away.” Easily filling a room, Myles engaged the audience as she paused throughout the reading to explain a life event that inspired that particular line or stanza( s ).
Melanie Nathan | Oblogdeeoblogda | November 17, 2014
Following the story in South African press that Jon Qwelane is back in Court, I noted terminology referring to Mr. Qwelane as the “former high commissioner” of South Africa to Uganda. I had recently been tipped off by several Ugandans who made accusations of bribery, corruption and ineptitude at the South African Embassy in Kampala, notably when people try to obtain visas. I became curious. I was not able to find any any press statement or story that Qwelane’s position as High Commissioner had been terminated, no statement of a recall, anew post, nor any expiration of term. I went to the SA Government website and noted “vacant” next to the position of “High Commissioner, amongst the list of consular officials” – and where the Qwelane’s name used to appear.
I searched and could not find any press information about Qwelane’s demise from the Ugandan position. last week I sent an e-mail (see below), asking for clarification on several of these issues. I still await a response.
I participated in the drive in 2011 to recall Qwelane when he was found guilty of “hate speech” against gays – later overturned. But the South African Government said he would not be recalled at that time.
LINDSEY TANNER | Associated Press | Huffington Post | November 17, 2014
CHICAGO (AP) — A large study of gay brothers adds to evidence that genes influence men’s chances of being homosexual, but the results aren’t strong enough to prove it.
Some scientists believe several genes might affect sexual orientation. Researchers who led the new study of nearly 800 gay brothers say their results bolster previous evidence pointing to genes on the X chromosome.
They also found evidence of influence from a gene or genes on a different chromosome. But the study doesn’t identify which of hundreds of genes located in either place might be involved.
A man walks in the parking lot of a voting center in Raleigh, North Carolina. (photo: Zach D. Roberts/Al Jazeera America)
Greg Palast | Al Jazeera America | Reader supported News | November 17, 2014
nterstate Crosscheck is a computerized system meant to identify fraudulent voters. While Crosscheck’s list of nearly 7 million names of “potential” double voters has yet to unearth, as of this writing, a single illegal vote this year, it did help Republican elections officials scrub voters from registries, enough, it appears, to have swung several important Senate and governor’s races in favor of the GOP.
There is good reason to believe that Crosscheck-related voter purges helped propel Republican candidates to slim victories in Senate races in Colorado and North Carolina, as well a tight gubernatorial race in Kansas.
Interstate Crosscheck is a computer system designed to capture the names of voters who have Illegally voted twice in the same election in two different states. The program is run by Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach’s office compares the complete voting rolls of participating states to tag “potential” double voters, those who have illegally voted twice in the same election in two states.
President Barack Obama. (photo: Larry Downing/Reuters)
Bill Trott | Reuters | Reader Supported News | November 17, 2014
Democratic leader said on Sunday a single vote could determine the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. Senate this week but that President Barack Obama was likely to veto the bill even if it passes.
The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and the Senate is expected to consider it on Tuesday.
The 45 Republicans in the Senate need to find 15 Democrats to join them in voting for the pipeline in order to send the bill to Obama. The legislation circumvents the need for approval of TransCanada Corp’s $8 billion project by the Obama administration, which has been considering it for more than six years.
“It’s within a vote or two,” Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said of current Senate support, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.”