background preloader

US politics

Facebook Twitter

Richard Berman Energy Industry Talk Secretly Taped. Photo WASHINGTON — If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded. The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.

The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. Continue reading the main story OPEN Document “Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. What Mr. Mr. A spokeswoman for Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Gov. Christie Shifted Pension Cash to Wall Street, Costing New Jersey Taxpayers $3.8 Billion.

This computer programmer solved gerrymandering in his spare time. Yesterday, I asked readers how they felt about setting up independent commissions to handle redistricting in each state. Commenter Mitch Beales wrote: "It seems to me that an 'independent panel' is about as likely as politicians redistricting themselves out of office. This is the twenty-first century. How hard can it be to create an algorithm to draw legislative districts after each census?

" Reader "BobMunck" agreed: "Why do people need to be involved in mapping the districts? " They're right. These programs and algorithms already exist. Brian Olson is a software engineer in Massachusetts who wrote a program to draw "optimally compact" equal-population congressional districts in each state, based on 2010 census data.

You can see for yourself how his boundaries look. Here's Maryland, currently the least-compact state in the nation: And here's North Carolina, the second-least compact: Huge differences, yes? Now, some argue that compactness isn't a very good measure of district quality. 2010 Redistricting Results. 8 Things You Should Know About Corporations Like Pearson that Make Huge Profits from Standardized Tests. Photo Credit: Von Seggern August 6, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. A few months ago, fourth-grader Joey Furlong was lying in a hospital bed, undergoing a pre-brain surgery screening, when a teacher walked in the room with a standardized test. Joey’s mother, Tami Furlong, later said, “I would like to hope she would not have taken his arm that has an IV and oximeter on it and put a No. 2 pencil in it.”

Joey’s story serves as one example of just how absurdly enforced standardized testing has become. Barack Obama’s $500 million competitive grant program Race to the Top, enacted in 2009, chiefly inspired school districts to give more tests. In order to execute these policies that significantly expanded testing, school districts needed test providers.

He said, “In a capitalist society, if there’s a market, somebody will figure out how to serve it. But Pearson wasn’t always so big.

USA: Money in Politics

US immigration - Quartz. Nearly 20 years ago, a friend of mine left a farm in West Africa and came to America alone. He worked his way through college by doing manual labor and acquired a few ivy-league degrees. Today he works at a hedge fund and is a member of the illustrious 1%. He’s also afflicted with the concerns of the first-world elite: He worries about his ability to afford the “right” private schools for his future children, how competitive it will be for them to get into a good college and land a prestigious job. I often point out he did well with much less—his elementary school didn’t even have walls and the only qualification necessary to teach at his primary school was having gone to primary school.

With his DNA and work ethic, his children will do just fine, even if they don’t attend a top tier Manhattan pre-school. This group exhibits selection bias—anyone motivated enough to move to a new country and endure the arcane immigration process is exceptionally ambitious and smart. Untangling the webs of immigration lobbying. (Visualizations by Alexander Furnas and Amy Cesal) As Congress inches toward major immigration legislation, a new Sunlight Foundation analysis (based on almost 8,000 lobbying reports) offers a comprehensive and interactive guide to the web of interests with something at stake. As legislation continues to take shape, a wide range of sectors will continue flooding Congress with their lobbyists, trying to make sure that their particular concerns are fully addressed. These visualizations can help to better understand who these interests are, what they care about, and how intensely they are likely to lobby to get what they want.

Figure 1. Immigration Lobbying in Congress; click for interactive graphic Figure 1 gives us the big picture. The network can be viewed in three ways: (To understand how we built this visualization, visit our methodology section at the end of this post.) Let’s look at six identifiable clusters in a little more detail. Cluster A: Agricultural /H-2A Visas­­­ Most active issues. US House passes bill charging $5000 to protest drilling. House Resolution 1965, known as the Federal Land Jobs and Energy Security Act, passed the House on Wednesday. The bill contains a benefits package for oil companies seeking to lease land from the federal government.

Many of the provisions have come under fire for stifling free speech and being detrimental to the environment. The bill was sponsored by Representative Lamborn of Colorado and co-sponsored by Duncan of South Carolina and Cramer of North Dakota, all Republicans. The oil and gas industry was the number one campaign contributor to both of the co-sponsors.

Read more... Rep. Nightmare in Maryville: Teens’ sexual encounter ignites a firestorm against family. The siding and gutters had melted. The roof was gone. Inside, piles of ash filled the rooms that had once bustled with the pleasant sounds of a family. That morning last April when Melinda Coleman received word that emergency vehicles were gathering around her Maryville house, she had hoped for the best. But if the events of the past year and a half had taught her anything, it was that when the town of Maryville was involved, that seemed unlikely. Since the morning her daughter had been left nearly unconscious in the frost of the home’s front lawn, this northwest Missouri community had come to mean little besides heartache. Few dispute the basic facts of what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2012: A high school senior had sex with Coleman’s 14-year-old daughter, another boy did the same with her daughter’s 13-year-old friend, and a third student video-recorded one of the bedding scenes.

For a family still struggling with the effects of a tragedy, it represented a fresh start. Could Texas Become a Blue State? When historians look back on Mitt Romney’s bid for the Presidency, one trend will be clear: no Republican candidate ever ran a similar campaign again. For four decades, from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan through the two Bush Presidencies, the Republican Party won the White House by amassing large margins among white voters. Nixon summoned the silent majority. Reagan cemented this bloc of voters, many of whom were former Democrats. Both Bushes won the Presidency by relying on broad support from Reagan Democrats. In that time, Republicans transformed the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican, and they held the White House for twenty-eight out of forty years. Some interpretations of the election results by conservatives were particularly dark. In the car, sipping a Diet Dr Pepper while he talked about his background and discussed the future of the Party, Cruz was more down to earth than his Hermès tie and Patek Philippe watch suggested.

Cruz is a first-generation citizen. Why does the IRS regulate political groups? A look at the complex world of campaign finance. The controversy over the Internal Revenue Service's handling of applications for non-profit status from Tea Party groups has put a spotlight on a subject with which we at the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group are all too painfully familiar: The migraine-producing complexity of the nation's campaign finance system. To shed some light on the ongoing debate, we've decided to share what we know. As often is the case with systems worthy of Rube Goldberg , it's easier to draw than to describe. The graphic above shows why its so hard to track campaign money: Those who raise it report to one (or more) of three federal agencies, depending on how they raise the money, how they spend the money and how much of it they spend and raise. But it doesn't end there: In addition to the Internal Revenue Code's definitions, these these organizations are regulated by federal law and state laws.

Internal Revenue Service Federal Election Commission Administers and enforces federal election law. U.S. 'People Don't Realize How Fragile Democracy Really Is' - James Fallows - Politics. Two days ago I mentioned the "Goodbye to All That" essay by Mike Lofgren, a respected (including by me) veteran Congressional staffer who had worked for Republican legislators on defense and budget issues for nearly 30 years. If you have not read his essay yet, please read it now. And then, please return! Among the important aspects of his essay is that it goes beyond one now-conventional point of "the worse, the better" analysis: that the GOP's main legislative goal is to thwart Obama, and if that includes blocking proposals that might revive the economy, so much the better for the Republicans next year.

More fundamentally, Lofgren argues that today's Republicans believe they are better off if government as a whole is shown to fail, not just this Democratic Administration. Republican hard-liners might seem to have "lost" the debt-ceiling showdown, in that they wound up even less popular than the Democrats are. Further on the implications of this soon. Exposé: America's Investigative Reports. POV - The Camden 28. Gun lobby has opposed research on effects of gun ownership/gun laws. Photo: Shutterstock Last week, after giving myself an initial overview of the scientific research on how gun ownership and gun laws affect violent crime, I told you that it seems like there's not a solid consensus on this issue. At least not in the United States. Different studies, of different laws, in different places seem to produce a wide variety of results. On the one hand, this is kind of to be expected with social science.

But, it seems, the National Rifle Association has gone out of its way to make this work even more difficult than it would otherwise be. The Centers for Disease Control funds research into the causes of death in the United States, including firearms — or at least it used to. Read the rest Via Dave Ng Image: IMG_0362, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from neontommy's photostream. Unions Are in Peril. (Photo: mar is sea Y / Flickr)Lost in the Supreme Court media chatter last week: a disturbing ruling in Knox vs. SEIU Local 1000 that restricts labor unions from directing collected dues toward political causes.

There's no similar limit on corporations, naturally – yet another indication that the power and status of modern unions is waning, especially when compared to the unbridled influence of Corporate America. With a sharp decline in union membership, a legion of new enemies, and a series of legal and legislative setbacks, can unions rebound and once again act strongly in the interest of ordinary workers? Bill talks to two people who can best answer the question: Stephen Lerner and Bill Fletcher, Jr. The architect of the SEIU's Justice for Janitors movement, Lerner directed SEIU's private equity project, which worked to expose a Wall Street feeding frenzy that left the working class in a state of catastrophe. Welcome to both of you. Stephen Lerner: Thank you. Bill Moyers: Such as? New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked. A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v.

Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush. The filing also includes the revealing deposition of the late Michael Connell. Connell served as the IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Connell ran the private IT firm GovTech that created the controversial system that transferred Ohio's vote count late on election night 2004 to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by SmarTech.

That is when the vote shift happened, not predicted by the exit polls, that led to Bush's unexpected victory. Additionally, the filing contains the contract signed between then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney in the King Lincoln case, exchanged emails with IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore.


Politicians. Democrats. Republicans. Targeting the Post Office. On Labor Day The New York Times ran a front page article that, through the lens of the United States Postal Service, simultaneously addressed two of our most burning issues: the condition of workers and our underfinanced government. The Post Office has a deficit, and on its front page the paper of record listed the main reasons why: labor costs are 80% of total cost in the post office but only 53% and 32% at UPS and Fed Ex; health benefits are more generous at the post office than those offered to most other federal employees; and the USPS union contracts contain no layoff clauses. A chill must have gone down the spine of post office workers upon reading that they are overpaid; they know firsthand that they are actually underpaid and they also know why the labor cost components in the various mail delivery services are different. Pays that explain why its labor component is so much higher than it is at UPS.

Leaked EPA Documents Expose Effort to Hide Dangers of Fracking. Wait, Did the USDA Just Deregulate All New Genetically Modified Crops? A Kentucky bluegrass trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas It's a hoary bureaucratic trick, making a controversial announcement on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend, when most people are daydreaming about what beer to buy on the way home from work, or are checking movie times online. But that's precisely what the US Department of Agriculture pulled last Friday. In an innocuous-sounding press release titled "USDA Responds to Regulation Requests Regarding Kentucky Bluegrass," agency officials announced their decision not to regulate a "Roundup Ready" strain of Kentucky bluegrass—that is, a strain genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto's widely used herbicide, which we know as Roundup.

The maker of the novel grass seed, Scotts Miracle Gro, is now free to sell it far and wide. Which is worrisome enough. Understanding why requires a brief history of the US government's twisted attempts to regulate GMOs. Yet the fiction has endured. The Money & Media Election Complex. How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory | Rolling Stone Politics. The Mainstream Media's Trivial Pursuit of Campaign 2012. FCC decision strikes critical blow to right-wing radio dominance. Colorblind | Black vs. "black"