The Real Way Republicans Plan to Rig Elections and Disenfranchise Voters

Allen Clifton | Forward Progressives | June 28, 2014

The last several years these new voter ID laws have often made headlines.  Most notably because they tend to target voters that tend to vote for Democrats.  And since the Supreme Court overturned parts of the Voting Rights Act, Republican controlled states have wasted no time passing new laws that seek to rig elections to favor Republican candidates.

And spare me this nonsense about “voter fraud.”  It hardly exists.  In the extremely rare cases that it does, it seems that Republican voters are often the ones busted for it.

But these moves to require a government issued ID before someone is allowed to vote are just smokescreens Republicans are using to try to prevent certain voters that don’t often vote for them from being able to vote at all.

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Vet Groups Bash GOP Senator for Blocking VA Benefits: ‘You Clearly Represent the Worst of Politics’

Allen Clifton | Forward Progressives | June 28, 2014

The scandals that have come to light concerning the VA should have been a moment where everyone in Washington came together in one cohesive voice declaring, “This stops right now!” – then actually doing something about it.

But, no.  Instead both sides have (as expected) turned it into a partisan issue.  Democrats have bashed Republicans for having the same kinds of problems during the Bush administration and Republicans have bashed Democrats for these recent allegations coming on President Obama’s watch.  Heck, Republicans have even gone as far as to use these issues with the VA as a way to attack the Affordable Care Act.  Though they seem to forget that while the VA definitely has had its problems, Medicare (our other socialized health program) is quite successful and popular.

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Singapore gays rally to counter opposition

AAP | The Australian | June 28, 2014

THOUSANDS of gay rights activists gathered in downtown Singapore on Saturday for a rally that this year drew unprecedented criticism from religious conservatives, with one influential Christian pastor calling on the government to ban the event.

PREVIOUS Pink Dot marches have been held without much opposition. But as they grew in numbers from less than 3,000 people when the first march was held in 2009 to more than 20,000 last year, so did their disapproval.

On paper, gay sex remains a criminal offence in the wealthy, multi-cultural city-state of 5.4 million, although authorities rarely enforce the British colonial-era legislation, known as Section 377A.

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Utah couple’s same-sex marriage leaves them in limbo

Bill Mears | CNN Supreme Court Producer | CNN | June 27, 2014

Kody Partridge and Laurie Wood did not wait to tie the knot.

Within minutes of hearing a federal judge strike down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Salt Lake City couple rushed to the county government building to get a license. It was just five days before Christmas 2013. They were joined by other lesbian and gay couples seeking to wed, along with some unexpected witnesses.

“It was very sudden, we didn’t have time to plan,” said Wood, 59. “There were a lot of (media) cameras and a lot of chaos, but when the minister began saying the words, all I could see was Kody and it couldn’t have been better.”

The two were among the original plaintiffs challenging the state’s voter-approved ban, and for the record, had months earlier tried to get a marriage license.

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Vatican eases tone on gay and lesbian Catholics

Balitang America Staff, ABS-CBN North America Bureau | Jume 27, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – After getting feedback from the faithful about its teachings, the Vatican is taking a softer tone when it comes to the gay and lesbian community.

In a 75-page document released Thursday that compiled the results of a worldwide survey of Catholics, the Vatican said gays and lesbians must be treated with respect and, if requested, their children may be baptized.

The Vatican also admitted that priests are, at times, unsure of how to deal with same-sex couples.

While the church won’t change its teachings and stance against same-sex marriage, the document demonstrates an alignment with Pope Francis’ non-judgemental stance toward gay and lesbian Catholics.

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Internet Privacy Concerns May Be Dividing the U.S. Government

David Sirota | In These Times | June 28, 2014

United States government has been in the news a lot for its efforts to undermine the Internet’s basic privacy and security protocols.

There were the Edward Snowden revelations about the National Security Agency sweeping up metadata, paying contractors to embed backdoors into their security technologies, hacking various private accounts of network administrators and developing malware to infect computers.

There was the Washington Post story about the NSA’s “collect it all” ideology.

There was the CNET story detailing the government’s efforts “to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users’ private Web communications from eavesdropping.”

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In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny

and  | New York Times | June 28, 2014 


A VETERAN’S AGONY Jon Guill of Elgin, Okla., who served in Iraq, preparing formula for his son, Justen, who was born with severe brain damage. Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times 

FORT SILL, Okla. — Jessica Zeppa, five months pregnant, the wife of a soldier, showed up four times at Reynolds Army Community Hospital here in pain, weak, barely able to swallow and fighting a fever. The last time, she declared that she was not leaving until she could get warm.

Without reviewing her file, nurses sent her home anyway, with an appointment to see an oral surgeon to extract her wisdom teeth.

Mrs. Zeppa returned the next day, in an ambulance. She was airlifted to a civilian hospital, where despite relentless efforts to save her and her baby, she suffered a miscarriage and died on Oct. 22, 2010, of complications from severe sepsis, a bodywide infection. Medical experts hired by her family said later that because she was young and otherwise healthy, she most likely would have survived had the medical staff at Reynolds properly diagnosed and treated her.

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Facebook may have experimented with controlling your emotions without telling you

David Ferguson | Raw Story | June 28, 2014

Researchers at Facebook ran an experiment on nearly 700,000 randomly chosen users to see if their overall emotional state could be manipulated by the types of posts they see in their feeds.

Think Progress reported on a scientific paper published on Friday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) entitled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” in which the researchers concluded that it is not just possible but very easy to drive emotional responses in users by controlling the content that they see.

Users of the social media platform consented to be experimented on by developers and researchers when they signed the Terms and Conditions necessary to open a Facebook account.

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Why ENDA is Not the Answer

PAUL SCHINDLER |  Gay City News | June 27, 2014

The argument for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act is clear and catches the public’s attention because it is so stunning: in 29 states you can legally be fired for being gay and in 32 — including New York — you are at risk due to your gender identity and expression.

That is an outrage that needs to be remedied. The civil rights protections enjoyed, for example, in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Minnesota, Illinois, California, and Oregon should be available to LGBT Americans everywhere.

The problem is that this is not what ENDA would deliver. Civil rights laws generally extend protections to all of life’s significant public activities — including housing, public accommodations, and access to credit, in addition to employment.

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Veterans who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual could benefit from informed mental health services, researcher says

Science Daily | University of Missouri-Columbia | June 26, 2014

In 2011, the United States Military repealed its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented gay and lesbian service members from disclosing their sexual orientation. Current estimates indicate that more than 1 million veterans identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). Now, a University of Missouri researcher says these service members and veterans often are marginalized and may benefit from mental health professionals, including social workers, who are informed about the needs of individuals who identify as LGB.

“Identifying as LGB and serving in the military can provide a distinct set of experiences and challenges for individuals,” said Michael Pelts, a doctoral student at the School of Social Work in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. “Within the U.S., identifying as a service member or veteran can marginalize individuals. This is also true for people who identify as LGB. The impact may be compounding. For example, suicide has a high occurrence rate among veterans and even more so among veterans who identify as LGB.”

Pelts said studies show that the majority of LGB service members and veterans who seek mental health care services do so outside of Veterans Affairs.

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