Oil Company to Face Felony Charges Over Massive California Spill

In this May 21, 2015, file photo, workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., two days after a ruptured pipeline created the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years. (photo: Jae C. Hong/AP)
In this May 21, 2015, file photo, workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., two days after a ruptured pipeline created the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25


Samantha Page | Think Progress | Reader Supported News | May 18, 2016

he company responsible for spilling 140,000 gallons of oil on the Pacific coastline near Santa Barbara, California, has been indicted on 46 charges, including four felony charges. One employee of Plains All American Pipeline was also indicted.

The company faces up to $2.8 million in fines plus additional costs and penalties, which would be split between the state and Santa Barbara County. The employee, 41-year-old environmental and regulatory compliance specialist James Buchanan, faces up to three years in jail.

“Crimes against our environment must be met with swift action and accountability,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement. “This conduct is criminal and today’s charges serve as a powerful reminder of the consequences that flow from jeopardizing the well-being of our ecosystems and public health.”

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Poor Wages Send a Third of US Manufacturing Workers to Welfare Lines in Order to Pay for Food, Healthcare, Data Show

A welder works in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, May 3, 2010. (photo: Sean Gardner/Reuters)
A welder works in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, May 3, 2010. (photo: Sean Gardner/Reuters)


Angelo Young | International Business Times | Reader Supported News | May 12, 2016

.S. manufacturing jobs used to be a path to the middle class for Americans who couldn’t or didn’t dive into the comfort provided by higher education degrees. But now many skilled, working Americans need some form of public assistance because their wages don’t pay for basic living expenses.

Just over 2 million supervised manufacturing workers, or about a third of the total, need food stamps, Medicaid, tax credits for the poor or other forms of publicly subsided assistance while they work on goods that can carry the tag “Made in the U.S.A.,” according to research of official government wage and welfare data relased Tuesday by the University of California, Berkeley.

The cost of these benefits to the U.S. taxpayer? From 2009 to 2013, federal and state governments subsidized the low manufacturing wages paid by the private sector to the tune of $10.2 million per year.

Oregon led the nation on the number of manufacturing workers – 1 in 4 – that needed food stamps during that period of time, while 1 in 5 factory workers in Mississippi and Illinois needed healthcare assistance for both adults (Medicaid) and children (CHIP). Taking into account all major social welfare, including the earned income tax credit and temporary assistance to needy families (TANF), Mississippi topped the list, followed by Georgia, California and Texas.

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The Police Laboratory

Simone Weichselbaum | TIME Magazine | April 24, 2016

As the country’s most violent big city struggled to contain an epidemic of deadly shootings, the police force opened itself up to top criminologists, law professors and sociologists. Theories drawn up at Harvard and other bastions of elite thought were being taught to, and in some instances practiced by, the nation’s second biggest police agency. Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s top cop at the time, preached a gospel of reducing crime by fostering healthy relationships between police and the communities they serve—especially black communities. The police would be transformed, as the reformers put it, from “warriors” to “guardians.”

At a time of heated debate over the conduct of America’s cops, this line of thinking proved especially appealing. Policymakers nationwide were intrigued by Chicago’s alliance of academics and law enforcement, and the “Chicago model” of policing strategies influenced departments from Oakland, Calif., to New York City. The Justice Department is spending millions of dollars promoting ideas hatched in the Chicago workshop. A policing task force formed by President Obama after the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., recommended that cities adopt some of Chicago’s strategies. Think tanks at Yale, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and UCLA are touting its innovations.

But days after Thanksgiving, Chicago’s reform engine stalled. Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired McCarthy, calling him a “distraction,” after protests erupted over the delayed release of a police video that showed a white officer firing 16 bullets into a black teenager, Laquan McDonald. An array of academic theories and programs nurtured by McCarthy are now in limbo.

On March 15, angry Chicago voters threw out the state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, in a primary election viewed as a referendum on police excesses and the perceived indifference of city hall.

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Immigration Officials Could Soon Knock on the Doors of 18,000 Central American Women and Kids

Children of immigrants in the U.S. join a demonstration calling on President Obama not to break up their families. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Children of immigrants in the U.S. join a demonstration calling on President Obama not to break up their families. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Esther Yu-Hsi Lee | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | January 15, 2016

eyond the wave of immigration raids targeting 121 individuals for potential deportation proceedings earlier this month by the Obama administration, there may be thousands more Central American women and children who remain at risk for being rounded up and deported.

There are still 18,607 people in the “women and children” category who have been ordered removed by immigration judges, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Of the total number of removal orders, 16,030, or 86 percent, “were issued for cases in which the women lacked any legal representation,” the TRAC report found based on an analysis using court records current as of the end of December 2015.

It remains unclear which states DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will target next beyond its initial sweep through Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. But the TRAC report found that 47 percent of the 18,607 removal orders were concentrated in Texas and California. In Texas, 88 percent of removal orders were issued to women and children who did not have legal representation. In California, that number was at 82 percent. The report indicated that Central American families in the Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles areas received the largest number of removal orders, followed next by Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Planned Parenthood sues over undercover abortion videos

Getty Images

Planned Parenthood on Thursday filed a long-awaited federal lawsuit against the anti-abortion activists who have targeted the group with undercover videos for the last year.

The formal complaint marks the first time that Planned Parenthood has taken legal action against the group, the Center for Medical Progress.

The national organization, along with its California affiliate, is accusing the Center for Medical Progress and its organizer David Daleiden for unlawful behavior ranging from secret taping to trespassing. The group said the Center for Medical Progress has violated the laws of three states as well as federal law.

“Today, Planned Parenthood is going on the offense,” Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California said in a call with reporters.

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Exploring science, understanding sexuality

 | The Temple News | January 12, 2016


During 2007 in San Diego, California, the thought of talking to people pursuing reparative therapy—or the attempt to eliminate homosexuality through therapy and ministry—seemed “bizarre” and a little insane to associate professor of sociology Tom Waidzunas.

“It didn’t seem like a reasonable project,” Waidzunas said of his proposed dissertation to address how scientists measure and conceptualize sexuality through the lens of reparative, or ex-gay, therapies.

At the time, Waidzunas was a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, inspired by discussions about the pursuit in the early 2000s to measure race which caused scientists to create “racial divisions rather than, in some sense, discovering them,” he said. Waidzunas had seen similar work done within the confines of gender, but never with sexuality.

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Toxic “Reform” Law Will Gut State Rules on Dangerous Chemicals

Chemical plant. (photo: NikZane)
Chemical plant. (photo: NikZane)


Sharon Lerner | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | January 11, 2015

new set of bills that aims to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act may nullify the efforts of states such as Maine and California to regulate dangerous chemicals. The Senate’s bill, passed last month, just before the holidays, is particularly restrictive. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act — named, ironically, for the New Jersey senator who supported strong environmental protections — would make it much harder for states to regulate chemicals after the EPA has evaluated them, and would even prohibit states from acting while the federal agency is in the process of investigating certain chemicals.

The Senate’s version has some significant differences from the House bill — the TSCA Modernization Act, which passed in June — and the reconciliation process is now underway. If the worst provisions from both bills wind up in the final law, which could reach the president’s desk as soon as February, the new legislation will gut laws that have put Oregon, California, Maine, Vermont, Minnesota, and Washington state at the forefront of chemical regulation.

Toxic Sippy Cups and Baby Bottles

For Mike Belliveau the passage of Maine’s chemical law in 2008 felt like the crowning moment in his career. The environmental advocate had spent years working on the Kid Safe Product Act, which is one of the strongest protections against dangerous chemicals in the country. Since it was passed, Maine has used the law to come up with a list of more than 1,700 “chemicals of concern.” The state has also required manufactures to report the use of a handful of those chemicals, and has banned them altogether when there are no safer alternatives.

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Christie ties terrorism to trans kids’ “confusion” over their gender identities

| America Blog | December 22, 2015

Chris Christie’s been getting a lot of mileage out of anti-trans bigotry lately. It wasn’t enough for the presidential hopeful to vetoand laugh about — a bill that would have made it easier for trans people to change their gender identity on their birth certificate. Yesterday, he implied that questions about their own gender identity are too confusing for kids who are already confused about terrorism, so it’s best not to accommodate them.


From CNN, on Christie’s answer to a question about California’s recently-passed law allowing high schoolers to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities:

Chris Christie, via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Christie, via Wikimedia Commons

Christie responded by joking that life is simpler in New Jersey, “Men go to men’s rooms, women go to women’s rooms and there really shouldn’t be a whole lot of confusion about that — public accommodations. And I don’t think we should be making life more confusing for our children.”

He quickly pivoted to his bigger concern that terrorism is making growing up too confusing for children.

“Life is confusing enough right now for our children,” Christie said. “Think about those kids in Los Angeles who last week had their entire district closed because of a threat. Think about what they felt like the next day when they went back to school. Did they feel completely comfortable, did they feel like they were safe? How did their mothers and fathers feel when they sent them to school that day? And now today the Nashua schools are closed, based on a threat as well. How are those kids going to feel when they go back to school?”

There’s a lot going on here. First, yes, men go to men’s rooms and women go to women’s rooms, but since when does Chris Christie get to decide who’s a man and who’s a woman? Second, I’d imagine that when high schoolers in Los Angeles went back to school after classes were canceled over an obvious hoax, terrorism wasn’t the first thing on their minds. If anything, the wild-eyed paranoia that led to the district to err too far on the side of caution is the most confusing thing about the whole episode, and Christie, by leaving out the fact that the terror “threat” in Los Angeles wasn’t at all credible, is adding to that confusion.

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Two police at their vehicle. (photo: Guardian Liberty Voice) Two police at their vehicle. (photo: Guardian Liberty Voice)

Beenish Ahmed | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | December 18, 2015

group of nine San Francisco police officers who exchanged racist and homophobic text messages with one another likely won’t face disciplinary action because the charges against them were filed too late after their alleged misconduct was discovered, a San Francisco judge suggested in a tentative ruling on Friday.

“Get ur pocket gun,” one officer texted a sergeant who complained that a friend of his wife’s had brought along her husband, a black man and an attorney, to dinner. “Keep it available in case the monkey returns to his roots. Its not against the law to put an animal down… U may have to kill the half breed kids too. Don’t worry. Their [sic] an abomination of nature anyway.”

The text messages called on black people to be spayed, praised white power, and made frequent use of racial and homophobic epithets.

According to KQED, which broke the story, the San Francisco Superior Court judge “ap pears likely” to approve the officers’ petition to “rescind all disciplinary charges against the officers, purge all documents supporting the case against them and pay each officer a civil penalty of up to $25,000, plus the cost of their lawsuits.”

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A new window for gay rights just opened Read more: http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2015/12/sexual-orientation-discrimination-pepperdine-basketball-players-000014#ixzz3uq775V57

Richard Primus | Politico | December 18, 2015

What’s the next frontier in discrimination law? For more than 40 years it’s been illegal across the country to discriminate on the basis of race and sex—and for almost as long, advocates have been trying to add one more category: sexual orientation.

Congress has consistently balked at adding protections for gays and lesbians, and the Supreme Court has never officially moved from its longstanding position that it’s acceptable to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation so long as the government shows a “rational basis” for its actions. (This year’s same-sex marriage decision was narrowly a ruling on people’s right to marry, not about discrimination per se.)

But two basketball players at Pepperdine, and a court in California, have just changed the rules.

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