Most of us are familiar with Brown v. Board of Education, a class action suit, with Oliver Brown as the named plaintiff, which ended with a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in which the Warren Court, in 1954, declared unanimously that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional.
Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, held an on-the-record conference call yesterday and the White House posted a transcript.
This is what the Administration thinks it knows:
... Today, at the President's direction, we have pulled together a revision of our intelligence community assessment that we have provided to Congress and we are now updating the public now. I'll just draw your attention to a few elements of that assessment in our response.
First of all, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence given the multiple independent streams of information associated with their reporting.
The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date. I would note that that casualty data is likely incomplete, but that is what we've reviewed through our investigation.
This is clearly a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria that now totals more than 90,000 deaths. But as we've consistently said, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses red lines that have existed in the international community for decades.
I'd also note that we believe that the Assad regime maintains control of chemical weapons within Syria, and we have not seen any reliable reporting or corroborated reporting indicating that the opposition has acquired or used chemical weapons. ...
One suspects that in this exchange Senator Wyden already has a pretty good idea of the correct answer so the question to the administration's most senior intelligence director is purposeful and significant.
My dear sister has become a powerful voice and advocate within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) on behalf of marriage equality and LGBT issues in general. In a piece she recently wrote for a Mormon-oriented website she shares her evolution and offers some personal reflections. I offer a long excerpt from that piece below, both as a celebration of Pride Month and as a tribute to a remarkable woman who I've known since she was born.
My sister, holding a sign at last year's Pride Parade in San Francisco
I have always loved the beatitudes, especially the "mourn with" and "comfort those" verses. As a pediatric oncology nurse I have mourned with and comforted parents of dying children more times than I can count over the years. And yet, I have come to realize that until my son Ross came out six years ago at age eighteen, and my feet were set on a path I never chose, my understanding of this most Christ-like of attributes was not complete. I am not speaking of the empathy I felt for Ross, though as his mother, his pain was indeed my own.
For as long as I can remember, the path our boots on the ground in protest have taken have led us up the steps into some courthouse.
"Eyes on the prize" becomes eyes on judges and juries.
Whether federal, state or local, we wait to see if justice means "just-us people in power" or if the voices of the black, brown, yellow, red and rainbow segment of citizens will triumph under the rule of law.
"Could Costco make more money if the average wage was $2 or $3 lower?" Richard Galanti, Costco's chief financial officer, mused in an interview with Businessweek. "The answer is yes. But we're not going to do that." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...
Imagine that ... a company that recognizes that paying decent wages takes priority over corporate profits. The shock to me, having known that CostCo paid more, was just how much CostCo on average does pay.
Civil disobedience is a time honored tactic in our struggles over the years for civil and human rights. Sunday, I wrote about the Moral Monday Movement in NC, and the upcoming June 3rd "Mega Moral Monday" protest, and had to follow up today to report on how things went.
A lot of ink is being spent on the story out of New Jersey: President Obama meets with a not-as-batguano-crazy Republican governor as they tour the areas devastated by Super Storm Sandy and talk about rebuilding the Jersey Shore.
But make no mistake: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is not a Reasonable Republican. Being less obviously crazy, and occasionally making statements that irritate his teapartying colleagues, does not mean he is any more fit to govern than any other Republican.
More than 200 people gathered support the people arrested for peaceably protesting at the N.C General Assembly building in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This is the powerful message of a growing movement in North Carolina.
Gathered together on "Moral Mondays" a coalition of activist North Carolinian's of all races, and ethnicities-the young and the old, are putting their bodies on the line, and getting arrested to defend and advance civil and human rights in the state.
Crowds Grow and Arrests Continue at NC General Assembly | Moral Monday 4th
Bad news Friday May 24 about this bridge collapse. This from the New York Times.
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - The partial collapse here on Thursday night of a heavily used river bridge on Interstate 5 caused no deaths, but as the long holiday weekend began it underscored the vulnerability of a transportation system that hinges not just on high-profile water crossings and tunnels, but on thousands of ordinary and unremarked components that travelers mostly take for granted.
A 160-foot section of the 58-year-old four-lane steel truss bridge, which crosses the Skagit River about an hour north of Seattle, crumpled around 7 p.m., apparently after being struck by a truck carrying an oversize load, state officials said. Three people were injured, none of them seriously, when vehicles went into the river.
I live in Iowa. It is mostly a rural state. We have nearly 25,000 bridges spanning at least 20 feet that carry highway traffic. Their average age is 42 years. Nearly 22% are rated structurally deficient by the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 2010 National Bridge Inventory (NBI).
NBI data is released annually and provides a significant level of detail on the condition of over 700,000 bridges nationwide. Bridges are inspected every two years, unless they're in "very good" condition (four years) or "structurally deficient" (every year.) This data was released in February 2011.
Despite billions of dollars in annual federal, state and local funds directed toward the maintenance of existing bridges, 68,842 bridges - 11.5 percent of total highway bridges in the U.S. - are classified as "structurally deficient," requiring significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement as of the publication of this report.
My heart is in my throat. For the last few years (as I'll demonstrate below) I've seen real hatred take root and both Europe and the US. As I wrote a Daily Beast piece about the horrific killing of an off duty soldier in London last week, I was expecting it. But the hundreds of nasty, ignorant hateful comments underneath only confirmed something I've seen for years now - phrased less execrably on respectable blogs, by respectable oommentators:
The crass generalities and cultural stereotypes of Islamophobia have become a normal and acceptable form of current discourse in most public debate.
Words lead to actions. In the aftermath of the killing of Drummer Rigby by two Brits with Nigerian backgrounds - there have been over 200 attacks on Muslims, Mosques and threats of violence
There was nothing like this in 1982, when the IRA killed 16 soldiers in the Mall. There was nothing like this in France, when a lone gunman killed shot French soldiers a few years ago.
A politically acceptable form of bigotry, whipped up the the papers, and given validation by countless intellectuals is now spilling over in backlash much worse than the inciting incident.
Below the follow I'll link back and quote to some of the previous pieces I wrote on this terrifying phenomenon over the two years ago. I urge all responsible progressives to fight this new tide of hatred - combat its lies and exaggerations - before it's too late.
In this week's address, President Obama commemorates Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country.
On Memorial Day, we honor and remember the men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. And while our commitment to those who serve and their families remains important every day, Memorial Day is the perfect time to offer a simple act of kindness to our veterans and military families. You can send a message of thanks to our troops or a military family. Or pledge hours of service.
Morehouse graduates in the rain cheer President Obama at commencement address(Pete Souza)
If you have not yet listened to, and watched President Obama delivering the commencement address at Morehouse College, on Sunday, May 19, 2013 it is posted here for you to absorb and view.
This was the 129th commencement ceremony at Morehouse, an historically black college (HBCU). What made it different from all of the ones that preceded it, was that the "Mighty Men" of Morehouse were being addressed by the President of the United States. Black man to young black men.
A massive tornado ripped through the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City, Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 people 24 people, according to the state medical examiner's office.
The death toll was expected to rise.
Helicopter images showed large tracts of Moore, Okla., completely leveled by what the National Weather Service says was at least an EF-4 tornado with winds in excess of 166 mph. The tornado stayed on the ground for 40 minutes and traveled 20 miles.
Cole called it "hypocritical" for lawmakers whose districts have benefited from federal aid after previous disasters to require sweeping spending cuts in order to authorize the storm aid. "We have never done that in the past in a disaster, and we certainly shouldn't do so now," Cole said.
President Obama talks about his belief that a rising, thriving middle class is the true engine of economic growth, and that to reignite that engine and continue to build on the progress we've made over the last four years, we need to invest in three areas: jobs, skills and opportunity.
An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history; conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body considers to be sufficiently serious to require removal of the accused from office.
Though this story is about specific organizing in NYC, I think it's important to share the steps that are being taken there by a broad based coalition of progressive activists, which can be applied across the U.S.
New York City's Stop and Frisk laws are racist, and negatively affect black, brown, and gay New Yorkers. A majority of those who have been targeted are young people. Communities United for Police Reform is organizing to stop this.
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD. This groundbreaking campaign is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers. We are a movement that is here to stay - a Campaign that will be a visible, lasting presence on the streets of neighborhoods citywide. We will be in communities and on the streets, educating people about their rights; and in the courts and on the steps of City Hall and the state capitol, demanding change to the NYPD -- until these policies end.
Earth's climate is changing. It affects our weather, the oceans, ice, ecosystems, and society. Some of it is natural. But, humans are contributing to climate change in profound ways. Billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases that trap heat are released into the atmosphere each year. These greenhouse gases are measured and monitored by several agencies. The level of CO2 is currently at 400 ppm (parts per million) and continues to rise.
This is not new information. It has been known for the past 50 years that Earth's CO2 is trending upward. What is new is this particular number. It is going to be higher in the future. The issue should have been addressed by the global community in a comprehensive way back then and through the decades that followed to the present. My fear is that the story will get some news coverage for a few days, and then fade away like it has in the past.
For a controversy which has played in so many committee rooms the factual narrative of events in Benghazi seems pretty hard to follow and has been largely subsumed in partisan assumptions. The State Department Accountability Review Board report gives an impressively coherent blow-by-blow of the tragic events at the Special Mission compound; though it fails to mention, by name, the CIA operation it is publicly alleged that the 'mission' was largely established to conceal and protect:
The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation, according to officials briefed on the intelligence. Of the more than 30 American officials evacuated from Benghazi following the deadly assault, only seven worked for the State Department. [...]
The CIA worked from a compound publicly referred to as the "annex," which was given a State Department office name to disguise its purpose. The agency focused on countering proliferation and terrorist threats, said an American security contractor who has worked closely with CIA, the Pentagon and State. A main concern was the spread of weapons and militant influences throughout the region, including in Mali, Somalia and Syria, this person said.