News: Food Stamps, Labor Unions, Gay Rights


NY State EBT CardCongress passes $8.7 billion food stamp cut: “It’s official: 850,000 households across the country are set to lose an average of $90 per month in food stamp benefits.

“The Senate on Tuesday voted 68-32 to send the 2014 Farm Bill – which includes an $8.7 billion cut to food stamps – to President Obama’s desk. Nine Democrats opposed the bill, and 46 members of the Democratic caucus voted for it, joining 22 Republicans.

“The House passed the law by a similarly commanding margin last Wednesday. After the House vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney made clear that the president would sign off on the legislation.”MSNBC 2/4/14



Unions claim lawmakers deprived workers of their rights UAW logoby interfering with Volkswagen vote: “On Friday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of a recent vote to unionize in a Volkswagen (VW) plant in Tennessee, claiming a “firestorm of interference from politicians and special interest groups” interfered and made it impossible to have a free election.

“The week before, workers narrowly defeated an attempt to unionize the plant in Chattanooga, which would have also led to the creation of the first-ever works council in an American plant, a formalized structure for employers to share information with workers and for workers to give feedback on workplace safety and productivity. The failed vote came as somewhat of a surprise, given that VW had vowed to remain neutral and organizers believed a majority of workers supported the idea of a union.

“But it also came after strong statements from some Tennessee lawmakers against the campaign to organize.”Think Progress 2/24/14



Rainbow Flag

Exposing the Christian Right’s new strategy for reversing progress on Gay Rights: “With LGBT rights activists winning court victories in state after state, the Christian Right has opened a new battlefield in the nation’s cultural war, and they’re leaving nothing behind in their effort to enact Jim Crow-era laws against gay Americans.”

“… Republican lawmakers have pushed a slew of bills under the guise of “religious freedom.” This means businesses or individuals would be granted not only the right to deny services or employment to LGBT American[s], but also immunity against prosecution for discrimination.”AlterNet 2/21/14

The “Religious Liberty” bill fight continues in Georgia and other states: “With a defeat in Kansas and now a defeat in Arizona, the “religious liberty” movement gets set for Battleground: Georgia, with other states soon to follow, including Missouri, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.”

“Jim Crow hits the nail on the head. As Ian Millhiser wrote the other day on ThinkProgress, “religious liberty” was once “used to justify racism instead of homophobia.”” — PoliticusUSA 2/28/14

Antigay laws gain global attention: “After Uganda criminalized homosexuality, the White House immediately warned that the law would “complicate” the country’s relationship with Washington, and the Netherlands and Norway cut off bits of development aid.”

“The issue of gay rights has catapulted up the diplomatic agenda in recent years, as international organizations have extended rights protections to gays and lesbians and donor nations have faced new challenges in dealing with governments that discriminate.”New York Times 3/1/14

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Legal Marijuana In the U.S.

Here is a brief look at what has happened so far this year since two states in the U.S. — Washington and Colorado — legalized the sale and regulation of marijuana.


Legalize It pot leaf

World’s first state-licensed marijuana retailers open doors in Colorado: “The world’s first state-licensed marijuana retailers legally permitted to sell pot for recreational use opened for business in Colorado on Wednesday with long lines of customers, marking a new chapter in America’s drug culture.

“Roughly three dozen former medical marijuana dispensaries newly cleared by state regulators to sell pot to consumers interested in nothing more than its mind- and mood-altering properties began welcoming customers as early as 8 a.m.”

“Hundreds of patrons, some from distant states and many huddling outside in the bitter cold and snow for hours, cued up to be among the first buyers.”Yahoo News 1/1/14

Rethinking Pot The First Sales

Legal Weed Sales Bring Long Lines To Colorado: “Long lines and blustery winter weather greeted Colorado marijuana shoppers testing the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops Wednesday.”

“The world was watching as Colorado unveiled the modern world’s first fully legal marijuana industry — no doctor’s note required (as in 18 states and Washington, D.C.) and no unregulated production of the drug (as in the Netherlands). Uruguay has fully legalized pot but hasn’t yet set up its system.

“Colorado had 24 shops open Wednesday, most of them in Denver, and aside from long lines and sporadic reports of shoppers cited for smoking pot in public, there were few problems.”Talking Points Memo 1/2/14

Marijuana Leaf6 Things You Should Know About Buying Pot In Colorado: “January 1 marked a high point for Colorado’s Amendment 64 — the first day recreational marijuana businesses can legally operate in the state. A little more than a year after Colorado passed its ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, individuals can for the first time sell, produce, and purchase marijuana legally, even without a doctor’s prescription. But to both those eager to light up and those fearful of the consequences, it is worth remembering that there remain more restrictions on the marijuana industry than there are allowances, which proponents hope will better control the health and safety of the industry. With Colorado’s law, federal law, and local law all affecting regulation, here are some key facts about Wednesday’s roll-out:”AlterNet 1/1/14

See History Being Made: 6 Scenes of Americans Buying Marijuana Leaf KaleidoscopeMarijuana on 1st Day of Legalization: “It’s been one mighty historic week of legal marijuana business transactions in Colorado to begin the New Year.

Smell the Truth‘s fearless leader David Downs reported live from all the snow and festivities, bringing words and pictures throughout New Years day, while also managing to enjoy bushel upon bushel of legal ganja. Here are a few of the images he grabbed of the opening madness that started the morning of January 1 at 8 a.m.” – AlterNet 1/2/14

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News Mix


Shadow MenSocial Conservatives make big money plans: On a recent snowy day in the Washington suburb of Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia, some of the religious right’s wealthiest backers and top operatives gathered at the Ritz-Carlton to plot their entry into the conservative civil war.

“Their plan: take a page out of the playbooks of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers by raising millions of dollars, coordinating their political spending and assiduously courting megadonors.”

“It’s all geared toward elevating the place of social issues like abortion and gay marriage in conservative politics. They’ve been largely relegated to the sidelines as the business wing of the GOP establishment wages a bitter and expensive struggle against the tea party for the soul of the Republican Party.”POLITICO 1/2/14



10 Reasons why long-term unemployment is a national Unemployed worker with signcatastrophe: “Unemployment is bad. Obviously long-term unemployment is worse. But it’s not just a little worse, it’s horrifically worse. As a companion to our eight charts that describe the problem, here are the top ten reasons why long-term unemployment is such a national catastrophe:

1. It’s way higher than it’s ever been before. When the headline unemployment rate peaked in 2010, it was actually a bit lower than the peak during the 1980 recession and only a point higher than the 1973 recession. As bad as it was, it was something we’d faced before. But the long-term unemployment rate is a whole different story. It peaked at a rate nearly double the worst we’d ever seen in the past, and it’s been coming down only slowly ever since.” — Read more at => Mother Jones 12/23/13



Minimum WageSeattle will raise minimum wage to $15.00: “Just three days on the job, Seattle’s new mayor Ed Murray, announced plans to raise the minimum wage for city workers.

“Today I will issue an executive order directing my department heads to develop a comprehensive strategy to implementing a $15 minimum wage in the City of Seattle for city employees,” Murray said in a news conference Friday morning.”

“Getting a $15/hr minimum wage for all of Seattle is going to take longer, but it is going to happen or be put to the voters.”Daily Kos 1/3/14



Record high number of Americans identify as Republicans vs. Democratsindependents: “Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.”

“Americans’ increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush’s troubled second term.”Gallup 1/8/14

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News: Marijuana Policy, Jobs and Unemployment


Marijuana Leaf Kaleidoscope

2013: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy:

#1 Public Support For Legalizing Marijuana Hits Historic Highs: An unprecedented 58 percent of Americans believe that marijuana ought to be “made legal” for adult consumption, according to survey data reported in October by Gallup. The percentage is the highest level of support ever recorded by Gallup, which has been inquiring on the issue since 1969, and marks a ten percent increase in voter approval since 2012. Regional polls conducted this year in several states, including California, Louisiana, and Texas, also reported majority support for legalization.

#2 Nation Of Uruguay Passes Legislation Regulating Cannabis Use: Lawmakers in the South American nation of Uruguay enacted legislation authorizing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to all citizens age 18 and older. Residents will be able to legally purchase up to 40 grams of cannabis per month from state-licensed stores at a price of $1 per gram. Uruguay is the first country in modern history to officially legalize and regulate the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis.

#3 Feds Pledge Not To Interfere In State-Licensed Retail Sales Of Cannabis: Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a three-page memorandum in August affirming that the US Justice Department will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with statewide efforts to license and regulate the adult marijuana market. Cole later reaffirmed the agency’s position in testimony before the US Senate, stating, “We will not … seek to preempt state ballot initiatives.”

Read the rest of the list here => NORML 12/26/13



Jobless March

Older Americans Are Getting Booted from Their Jobs and Denied New Opportunities: In every corner of America, millions of people are terrified of losing their jobs and falling into financial ruin. Men and women with impressive professional achievements and credentials are being let go, nudged out and pushed aside. They are pounding the pavement and scouring the job sites, but find themselves turned away even for the most basic retail jobs. Not because they aren’t competent. Not because they lack skills. But simply because they have a gray hair or two.

“This is not just a story of people in their 60s or 70s. Workers as young as 50 are shocked to find themselves suddenly tossed onto the employment rubbish heap, just when they felt on top of their game. They’re feeling stressed, angry and betrayed by a society which has benefited greatly from their contributions.”AlterNet — 12/22/13

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News Bag


No GunsGun advocates upset over NFL’s rejection of assault rifle ad: “A year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, America’s gun nuts are in a major tizzy over what may be the biggest and most unlikely victory for sane firearms policy in 2013: the National Football League’s rejection of an assault rifle TV ad in the upcoming Super Bowl. “AlterNet 12/6/13



Vermont approves Single-Payer health care: “The Patient Protection & Affordable Care ActAffordable Care Act continues to plow ahead, despite Republican attempts to fight it at every turn.”

“The biggest downside of the ACA is the reliance on the private insurance industry.  It does not have to be this way, however.  There is yet another provision in the Affordable Care Act that can open the door for states to institute their own single-payer healthcare system.”

“The ACA provided states with federal funds to institute a Medicaid expansion. The states [that] chose to expand the program also were able to set up their own state exchanges, which were relatively free from the problems the federal site had. Vermont decided to take it a step further by setting up their very own single payer system.”Truthout 12/7/13



Marijuana LeafUruguay: Lawmakers authorize marijuana production and sales: “Members of the Uruguay Senate approved legislation this week authorizing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to all citizens age 18 and older. Members of Uruguay’s House had previously approved the measure months earlier. The bill now goes to President José Mujica, who intends to sign the measure into law in the coming days.

“Once adopted, Uruguay will be the first nation in modern history to regulate the licensed production and sale of cannabis.

“This is an attempt to bring an end to the illegal drugs trade by identifying the market and bringing it into the light of day,” said President Mujica in a statement.”NORML 12/12/13


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News Mix


Leticia Van de Putte announcement

Van de Putte joins race for Lt. Governor: “Long rumored to be a contender, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte has now made it official: She is running for lieutenant governor.

“I want to be your lieutenant governor because Mama ain’t happy — because Texas, we can do better,” Van de Putte said in a roughly 25-minute speech Saturday that touched heavily on the importance of family in her life.”Texas Tribune 11/23/13

Leticia Van de Putte Declares For Texas Lt. Governor

More on Leticia Van de Putte: Texas blogger Charles Kuffner has a roundup of articles about State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and her announcement to run for Texas Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket joining State Sen. Wendy Davis, the candidate for Governor => Off the Kuff 11/26/13

Wendy & Leticia It's A New Day For Texas



Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Obamacare Supreme Court Buildingmandate: “The last, great hope of Republicans to see Obamacare killed outright is officially dead. They haven’t been able to repeal it. They ran a presidential campaign on ending it, and were overwhelmingly rejected. The Supreme Court decided not to overturn the entire law once already, and has now dismissed the last big case challenging the underpinnings of the law.”

“They’re not going to kill it outright. They’re officially out of opportunities. They’re out of time legislatively, since they’re going on the long recess on December 13. They’ll have to change strategies now, because after January 1 repeal means taking people’s insurance away, something even most Republicans will recognize isn’t politically smart.  So now it’s going to be more efforts to chip away, to refuse to allow any fixes, to create as many obstacles as possible at the state level for implementation.”Daily Kos 12/2/13


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News Roundup


Senate passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act: “The Rainbow FlagSenate passed a historic piece of gay rights legislation Thursday that would ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees, another milestone victory for a gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.

“The 64 to 32 vote to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act marked the first time federal lawmakers had approved legislation to advance gay rights since repealing the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians in uniform in late 2010.”Washington Post 11/7/13

“The Senate on Thursday approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a tempered win for gay rights advocates who still need a reluctant, GOP-controlled House to take up and pass the bill.

“In a bipartisan vote, 64 senators supported the ENDA legislation, championed in the Senate by Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The bill, if it were to become law, would set a federal non-discrimination standard to ensure that private employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or identity.”Roll Call 11/7/13




New World Trade Center Tower is finally beaming: “Lower Manhattan residents were awestruck Friday night as the bright lights atop 1 World Trade Center were switched on in a test for the first time.”

“The Port Authority said the glow can be seen for up to 50 miles.” – New York Post 11/9/13

Official One World Trade Center Time-Lapse 2004-2013

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Wendy Davis Files For Texas Governor


Wendy Davis For Governor website

Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis makes it official – Files paperwork for Texas Governor: “The leading candidates for Texas governor made it official Saturday, submitting the required paperwork and fees to compete in their respective primaries, giving pep talks to volunteers and laying out a couple of key attack lines a year ahead of their expected general election showdown.

Sen. Wendy Davis signing paperwork for Texas Governor

Sen. Wendy Davis signing paperwork for Texas Governor

“Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth went first, signing her application …”

“Davis, elected to the state Senate in 2008 after serving on the Fort Worth city council, rose to fame after temporarily derailing a restrictive abortion law with an 11-hour filibuster this summer. Republicans passed the measure, known as House Bill 2, in a subsequent special session.”Texas Tribune 11/9/13

Wendy Davis re-defines “Pro-life”, enrages anti-choicers: “The right-wing blog world is erupting again at Wendy Davis.

“The state senator first became the focus of conservatives’ burning scorn for her 11-hour filibuster of the bill that is responsible for abortion providers now going out of business across Texas.

“Now that she’s declared she is running for governor of the Lone Star State, the Harvard Law-educated Davis has done it again.

“I am pro-life,” she told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday.” – National Memo 11/6/13

Wendy Davis I Am Pro-Life

“Wendy Davis hinted at how she’ll handle the issue of abortion on the campaign trail in the conservative Lone Star State.

“The Democratic candidate for Texas governor declared, “I am pro-life,” suggesting her stance on women’s reproductive rights doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about people or life itself.

“I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future,” Davis said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.” MSNBC 11/7/13

Leticia Van de Putte websiteDemocratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will announce plans to run for Texas Lt. Governor with Wendy Davis: State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, on Friday took another step toward entering the race for lieutenant governor, a campaign that would make her fellow Sen. Wendy Davis’ running mate.

“That means two women would top the Democratic Party’s ticket next year in the 2014 general election, a first for Texas.

“In an email to supporters, the veteran Texas lawmaker said she will make a formal announcement about her political future on Nov. 23 at San Antonio College.”

“A Davis-Van de Putte ticket for the Democrats would bring together two senators who made headlines in June during a 13-hour filibuster by Davis to stop a controversial, GOP-supported bill to restrict abortion services. As Republicans moved to cut off Davis’ long-running speech, Van de Putte challenged their authority to do so with remarks that went viral online with women’s rights groups:

“Dewhurst declined to recognize her to speak, and Van de Putte then said: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

“A public gallery packed mostly with opponents of the bill then jumped to their feet, shouting and yelling and creating pandemonium that left senators unable to complete their last-minute vote on the bill. Though the midnight deadline passed and the bill died, it was approved in a subsequent special legislative session.” Statesman 11/15/13

Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte brings the gallery to their feet with her now-famous remarks during Wendy Davis’s marathon filibuster:

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News: Unemployment, NYC Mayor


Unemployed worker with signFor some, joblessness is not a temporary problem: “MOST Americans who lose their jobs these days are able to find new ones quickly. But those who do not are likely to remain unemployed for a long time.”

“More than a quarter of the unemployed workers in the United States say they have been out of work for at least a year, and that does not count those who have given up looking, since they are no longer counted as unemployed. That is down from nearly a third at the peak of the recession, but far higher than it had ever been before the recession that began in 2007.”New York Times 10/25/13

Everything you think you know about panhandlers is Homeless Veteranwrong: “A new survey of panhandlers in downtown San Francisco dispels a number of myths that society propagates about homeless people.”

“Conventional wisdom is that those on the sidewalk asking for a dollar are lazy freeloaders who will use the money for alcohol or drugs. Some even think that beggars are living large off of handouts … “

“In San Francisco’s Union Square, the typical panhandler is a disabled middle-aged single male who is a racial minority and makes less than $25 per day despite panhandling seven days a week for more than five years.”

“Among the survey’s findings: … 26 percent served in the military.”Think Progress 10/30/13



Bill de Blasio Brooklyn Bridge

Bill de Blasio elected Mayor: Bill de Blasio is New York’s next mayor.

“In an overwhelming victory over Republican Joe Lhota, de Blasio became the first Democrat elected mayor in 20 years, after running a campaign devoted to progressive values and promising to tackle what he called the “growing inequality” in the city.

“De Blasio secured 73 percent of the vote compared to Lhota’s 24 percent, based on 99 percent of the vote.”DNAinfo 11/5/13

“The overwhelming support of  New York City voters for Bill de Blasio is the latest sign of the shift towards a new populist left in America. De Blasio owes his unexpected tailwind to campaigning on issues considered by insiders to be too polarizing for winning politics.”

“Despite its Democratic voter majority, New York in recent decades has been the political stronghold of the plutocratic Mayor Michael Bloomberg and, before him, the abrasive law-and-order Mayor Rudolph Giuliani – both Republicans with national, even global, reach. Democrats have lacked a progressive voice on the national stage of American politics often provided by the New York mayor’s office – until now.”AlterNet 11/6/13

Bill de Blasio announces TransitionNYC“Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is wasting little time getting ready to take over City Hall.

Less than 24 hours after easily winning the mayoralty, de Blasio announced the leaders of his transition team on Wednesday.”

“De Blasio said the transition team would help him create an administration that “mirrors the glorious diversity of this city,” while looking for the right personnel to enact the promises he made as a candidate.”

“To prepare for the transition, de Blasio’s campaign launched a website — — as a new Twitter handle, @nyctransition. De Blasio said he hoped New Yorkers would use site and social media to provide their thoughts and ideas, as well as to keep track of the process.”DNAinfo 11/6/13

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News: Marijuana, Tea Party, Ted Cruz


Marijuana LeafMost Americans now support legalizing marijuana: “For the first time, a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, according to a new poll from Gallup.

“The poll shows 58 percent now support legalizing recreational marijuana — an unprecedented jump of 10 points from just last year.” — Washington Post 10/22/13

“Gallup released new polling data today that shows an overwhelming majority of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. According to their survey, 58% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 39% are opposed. This is up significantly from the last time Gallup polled the question in 2012, when only 48% of Americans were in favor and 50% were opposed. For historical perspective, the first time they surveyed this question in 1969 a paltry 12% of Americans were in favor of legalization.”NORML 10/22/13

Marijuana Leaf Kaleidoscope

“Pollsters attributed the rapid rise in support for legalization to changing attitudes among self-identified Independent voters. In 2012, 50 percent of Independents endorsed legalization, compared to 62 percent in 2013. Support among Democratic (65 percent) and Republican (35 percent) voters was little changed from 2012 to 2013.

“Respondents in every age category except for those age 65 and over expressed majority support for legalization.”NORML 10/24/13

Uruguay is set to become the first country to legalize marijuana: “Uruguay will soon be the first nation in the world to completely legalize the use, sale, and cultivation of (strikingly affordable) cannabis.”

“In Uruguay, it has long been legal to smoke cannabis, but growing, buying, selling or carrying it can result in prison time. However, the Uruguayan House passed a cannabis legalization bill in late July and contingent on a senate vote set for November, Uruguay is readying to become the first country in the world to completely legalize the government-controlled sale, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis.”AlterNet 10/27/13

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