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House GOP Moves to Axe Presidential Public Financing Program, Bolster Election Spending by Corporations and the Wealthy

Public Citizen roundly condemns the latest sneak attack (PDF) by U.S. House GOP leaders to terminate the presidential public financing program and give corporations and the wealthy still more influence over American elections.

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New Report Highlights Impact of King v. Burwell on Women's Lives

Planned Parenthood Action Fund today released a new report showing that 4.1 million women are at risk of losing affordable health insurance as a result of a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear tomorrow. That case, King v. Burwell, hinges on whether or not federal financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be available in all 50 states or only in the 16 states and the District of Columbia that have established their own state-based Marketplaces. A ruling in favor of King would mean that financial assistance — in the form of premium subsidies or tax credits — would no longer be available to consumers in the 34 states using the federally facilitated Marketplace, which has helped an estimated 87 percent of consumers in the Marketplace afford coverage, including about 4.1 million women — one-third of whom are women of color.

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Physicians for a National Health Program: Health law's complexity invites attack, even as it fails to cure ailment

King v. Burwell shows how Affordable Care Act’s corporate-inspired, convoluted structure makes it an easy target for opponents

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Unintended pregnancies cost federal and state governments $21 billion in 2010

U.S. government expenditures on births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21 billion in 2010, according to “Public Costs from Unintended Pregnancies and the Role of Public Insurance Programs in Paying for Pregnancy-Related Care: National and State Estimates for 2010,” by Adam Sonfield and Kathryn Kost. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million in 2010. Texas spent the most ($2.9 billion), followed by California ($1.8 billion), New York ($1.5 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion); those four states are also the nation’s most populous.

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Income inequality is taking a toll on the health of American workers

"Income inequality" has already become a buzz phrase for the campaigns leading up to the 2016 elections. Likely candidates and pundits on both ends of the political spectrum have begun to talk about how fairness, social justice and -- even after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act -- the cost of health care insurance are contributing to the large and growing gap between the rich and poor.

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Netanyahu's Nuclear 'Chutzpah' - As U.S. Government Releases Documents on Israel's Nukes

This morning on the program “Democracy Now,” Noam Chomsky said in reply to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims regarding Iran’s nuclear program: “The striking aspect of this is the chutzpah involved. Israel has had nuclear weapons for probably 50 years, 40 years — estimates are 100, 200 weapons. They are an aggressive state — Israel’s invaded Lebanon five times, it’s carrying out an illegal occupation, carries out brutal attacks, like on Gaza last summer.” Chomsky added that a crucial fact is that “even if Iran” were developing a nuclear weapon, “it would be part of deterrent,” given Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal.


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DHS Funding Debate Makes Clear: Immigration is GOP's Kryptonite

An array of voices from across the political spectrum agree that the DHS funding debacle has been a colossal embarrassment and failure for the GOP. According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: "The Republican Party’s mishandling of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding makes it clear that immigration is the GOP’s Kryptonite. They think that demagoguing on this issue will increase their power when it only succeeds in diminishing their prestige.”

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Red Chris Mine in B.C. Gets Permit Despite Recommendation Against Tailings Technology Used

The British Columbia (B.C.) government’s decision to grant Imperial Metals an interim permit for the tailings facility at the Red Chris mine only three days after an independent review panel of the Mount Polley dam failure specifically recommended against this type of tailings technology is raising doubts about the provincial government’s commitment to implement all the mining reforms in the Mount Polley panel report. The Red Chris facility is similar to the one that failed at the Mount Polley mine in August, releasing almost 25 million cubic meters (6.6 billion gallons) of mine waste water and tailings into the Fraser River watershed.

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The 10 dumbest (and smartest) presidents in US history
Full story: Raw Story


Collins Anti-Immigrant Bill Fails on Procedural Vote in the Senate, Roundly Rejected by Leaders from Across the Spectrum

Today, the Senate voted to block debate on an extreme anti-immigration measure by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)—legislation designed to take away the President’s DAPA and expanded DACA programs and resume the deportations of millions of people settled in America. Despite the claims from Collins and some of her Republican cohorts that this bill represented a “compromise” on immigration, it was actually anything but.

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Will the U.S. surrender in the War on Drugs?

The news this week that Jamaica is decriminalizing marijuana for personal use is the latest step in a global trend towards rethinking drug policy. For decades the international consensus has focused on criminalization and interdiction, but the approach has not only failed to stem drug production and use, it has also had a devastating impact on communities and individual lives.

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Suicide rates rising for older US adults since the economic downturn of 2007-2009

Suicide rates for adults between 40 and 64 years of age in the U.S. have risen about 40% since 1999, with a sharp rise since 2007. One possible explanation could be the detrimental effects of the economic downturn of 2007-2009, leading to disproportionate effects on house values, household finances, and retirement savings for that age group. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that external economic factors were present in 37.5% of all completed suicides in 2010, rising from 32.9% in 2005.

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Access Hails U.S. FCC Adoption of Strong Net Neutrality Rules

Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to apply common carrier regulations to internet service providers, an historic move that creates strong Net Neutrality protections for users. The vote came after a year in which millions of internet users, companies, and organizations urged the Commission to use Title II of the Communications Act to regulate broadband providers and protect Net Neutrality on both fixed and mobile networks.

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One Year After Standoff Over Nevada Cattle Trespass, Questions Remain About Unpaid Fees, Prosecution

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Attorney General Eric Holder today formally requesting a public update by April 5 on the status of the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose livestock trespass on public lands led to a standoff last year after the Bureau of Land Management’s failed attempt to round up livestock.

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2014 National Environmental Scorecard Reveals House’s Relentless Environmental Attacks for Fourth Year in a Row

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today released the 2014 National Environmental Scorecard tallying the performance of every member of Congress on the year’s key environmental votes. The Scorecard is available in both English and Spanish at http://scorecard.lcv.org.

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USDA Records Reveal Staffing Shortages Undermining Food Safety

Today, the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch released an analysis of USDA records documenting the impact of long-standing vacancies in the ranks of USDA meat and poultry inspectors. This release comes just hours before officials from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are due to discuss their budget request for FY2016 before the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee. These records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, document the number of inspection tasks that were not performed and the most common reasons why over a two-year period, revealing that for meat and poultry, inadequate staffing and turn around times were often to blame.

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Scientific Fraud Infests Fish and Wildlife Service Top Ranks

An explosive whistleblower hearing transcript paints a vivid picture of rampant scientific misconduct, callous reprisal and systemic mendacity within the upper echelons of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which posted the full texts today. The transcript also illustrates how a highly-touted agency Scientific Integrity Policy has become a tool for just the opposite.

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New Report Puts Religious Right At Center of Drive to Unleash Big Money in Politics

A collection of socially conservative Christian organizations, dedicated to rolling back abortion rights, blocking same-sex marriage and advancing "family values," has quietly assumed a central role in the legal crusade on behalf of big money in politics, according to a new Common Cause report.

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Environmental, Landowner Groups Applaud President Obama’s Keystone XL Veto

This afternoon, shortly after it hit his desk, President Obama vetoed misguided legislation that would have forced approval of the controversial proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Keystone XL opponents applauded the president’s swift and decisive move to protect his authority to make a decision on the pipeline, and expressed confidence that he will reject the pipeline outright since it is clearly not in the national interest.

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New Report: Oil and gas industry using flawed research to promote fracking

The oil and gas industry is using flawed research to give the impression of a scientific consensus that fracking is safe and beneficial, according to a new report released today by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) and available at: http://public-accountability.org/2015/02/frackademia-in-depth.

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Federal job-protected family and medical leave rights extended to eligible workers in same-sex marriages

Workers in legal, same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, will now have the same rights as those in opposite-sex marriages to federal job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. The U.S. Labor Department announced a rule change to the FMLA today in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor. That ruling struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted "marriage" and "spouse" to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law.

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In wake of court ruling, Texas groups call for halt to expansion of private family detention camps, release of refugee families

Texans United for Families and Grassroots Leadership today called on President Obama to immediately halt the expansion of two for-profit south Texas family detention camps and prioritize release of asylum-seeking mothers and children being held in these camps. A federal court on Friday temporarily blocked the policy of detaining families as a deterrent to future migration and sharply rebuked the administration's national security justification for prolonged detention of refugee families.

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Physician organizations and American Bar Association call for policies to reduce firearm injuries, deaths in US

Leaders from the American College of Physicians (ACP), seven other national health professional organizations, and the American Bar Association call for policies to help mitigate the rate of firearm injuries and deaths in the United States. Key principles and consensus-based recommendations are outlined in the paper, Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action from 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association, published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Forest Service Hatchets Law Enforcement

While proposing a larger agency budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the U.S. Forest Service plans to decommission 133 law enforcement positions, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Forest Service law enforcement officers say that this overall one-sixth (16%) force reduction coming on top of an earlier 15% funding cut will mean major cutbacks in security coverage for visitors, staff and the forests themselves.

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'It's a domestic black site': inside one protester's secretive US police detention
Full story: The Guardian


New documents reveal Koch, Exxon, Southern Company influence behind climate change denier scientist

Documents obtained by Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center through public records requests shed new light on the influence of fossil fuel interests on the research of Dr. Willie Soon, which has been prominently promoted by climate denier politicians like Senator Inhofe. Dr. Soon, an aerospace engineer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has received over $1 million from fossil fuel interests including ExxonMobil, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the American Petroleum Institute, as well as Southern Company, a major coal burning utility, and anonymous donations through DonorsTrust.

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Waters Off California Among 15 Most Threatened by Ocean Acidification

The first nationwide vulnerability assessment for ocean acidification, published today in Nature Climate Change, shows that coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the nation’s approximately $1 billion shelled mollusk (e.g., oysters and clams) industry are at long-term economic risk from ocean acidification. The assessment illustrates that vulnerable communities are not confined to the Pacific Northwest, which has been the primary focal point of attention and resources. Newly-identified communities at risk reside everywhere from Maine to the Chesapeake Bay to the Louisiana bayou.

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Report Shows Deported Parents Will Return to Kids in U.S., Risking Harsh Penalties

President Obama last November announced executive action to temporarily defer deportations for potentially 3.7 million unauthorized immigrant parents of children with U.S. citizenship or green cards, so as to focus enforcement resources on public safety threats and others. A new study by the University of California-Davis Center for Poverty Research provides further support for the President’s action. The study shows that many deportees that leave behind children will return to the U.S.—which, as the study states, “raises questions about the logic and cost-effectiveness of deporting parents.”

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Federal Court Blocks Government from Detaining Asylum Seekers as Tactic to Deter Others from Coming to U.S.

A federal court today granted a preliminary injunction putting an immediate halt to the Obama administration's policy of locking up asylum-seeking mothers and children as a way to deter others from coming to the United States.

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CAIR Welcomes DHS Report on Violent Domestic Right-Wing Extremism

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will issue a new intelligence assessment on the threat posed by domestic right-wing violent extremists.

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