May 20th, 2011


Texas Burns While Republicans Cut the Texas Forest Service's Budget.

GOP Plan to Keep Us Safe: Volcano Monitoring? Liberal Hoax. Tsunami Warning Center? Tax Payers' Money Pit. Nucular Safety? Let the Free Market Decide. Wild Forest Fires? Smokey the Bear's Plot to Defraud Tax Payers.

Texas Plans To Cut Budget Of Agency Battling Wildfires

Texas lawmakers are set to slash funding for the agency responsible for fighting wildfires in the midst of a historic wildfire season in which some 2.5 million acres have burned.

The Texas Forest Service faces almost $34 million in budget cuts over the next two years, roughly a third of the agency's total budget. The cuts are in both the House and Senate versions of the proposed state budget.

The Forest Service has about 200 firefighters and offers assistance grants to volunteer fire departments. Assistance grants are likely to take the biggest hit.

Volunteers -- two of whom were killed in fighting this year's fires -- make up nearly 80 percent of the state's fire-fighting force and are first responders to roughly 90 percent of wildfires in Texas.

"Volunteer programs are our No. 1 defense," Forest Service Director Tom Boggus told Reuters.

Since 2002, the Forest Service has given out $153 million in grants, which have paid for 44,000 sets of protective clothing, 1,200 fire engines and funded the training of about 34,000 firefighters.

A state commission that reviewed the Forest Service this year noted the grants were not distributed to the counties most at risk for wildfires. Boggus said that is because the service only recently conducted a study to determine which counties are the most at-risk, and that the agency now plans to distribute grants based on that information.
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chris colfer

Too pissed off to think up a witty title.

For immediate release May 18, 2011
Contact: Amanda Harrington (414) 803-9556

Finance Committee Votes to Dismantle Family Planning in the State of Wisconsin

This afternoon, all Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance voted to dismantle Wisconsin’s family planning program by restricting the ability of most of Wisconsin’s women’s health centers to qualify for state funds.
This restriction includes women’s health providers like Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin—the state’s oldest, largest, and most trusted reproductive health care provider.

Republicans on the Committee also endangered Wisconsin’s entire BadgerCare family planning program, which provides basic health care to 60,000 women and families and is reported to save the state of Wisconsin $140 million by preventing untended pregnancies in 2008 alone.

Today’s vote will decimate the family planning network throughout Wisconsin, leaving tens of thousands without access to preventive care. If patients do not have access to prevention, Wisconsin will see an increase in unintended pregnancies, the spread of STDs, undetected and untreated cervical and breast cancer cases and poorer health outcomes for women, infants and children.

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source also has testimonies from people who have benefited from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin

time, melting, moving, running, busy

Taliban kill dozens in attack on Afghan construction site

Latest update: 19/05/2011

Taliban militants killed 36 people and wounded another 20 in an attack on a construction site in Afghanistan's Paktia province, near the border with Pakistan. It is thought to be the deadliest Taliban attack since a February raid on a Jalalabad bank.

By News Wires (text)

AFP - The Taliban attacked an Afghan road construction company early Thursday, triggering an hours-long firefight that killed 36 people and wounded another 20 in the worst single attack for months.

The attack happened in the eastern province of Paktia, which borders Pakistan, at around 2:00am (2130 GMT Wednesday) and lasted for several hours, a provincial spokesman said.

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annoying, stepchild, music, harsh

New York Attorney General Is Investigating Trump’s For-Profit School

Published: May 19, 2011

The New York State attorney general’s office is investigating whether a for-profit school founded by Donald J. Trump, which charges students up to $35,000 a course, has engaged in illegal business practices, according to people briefed on the inquiry.

The investigation was prompted by about a dozen complaints concerning the Trump school that the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has found to be “credible” and “serious,” these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was not yet public.

The inquiry is part of a broader examination of the for-profit education industry by Mr. Schneiderman’s office, which is opening investigations into at least five education companies that operate or have students in the state, according to the people speaking on the condition of anonymity.

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Man puts up billboard accusing ex-girlfriend of getting an abortion

Sign causes stir
Right to Life N.M. pulls its endorsement of anti-abortion billboard

Right to Life New Mexico was attempting Monday to have an endorsement removed from a pro-life billboard on White Sands Boulevard between First Street and Second Street. The billboard went up sometime during the weekend.

The billboard depicts an Alamogordo businessman, GEFNET owner Greg A. Fultz, holding what appears to be an outlined baby in his arms as he is looking down at it. Next to the picture, in large print, is the statement, "This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child! [sic]."

Fultz, 35, said he created the organization, National Association of Needed Information (N.A.N.I.), to dispense his pro-life message.

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According to this, the real reason RTLNM pulled their endorsement is because they learned that Nani had a miscarriage, not an abortion. There's also a pretty good discussion about this sicko going here.
MISC - moustache

How to destroy a school system

There is something horribly fascinating about watching Wisconsin Republicans discuss their plans for our state's school system.

First, they swing the bloody ax:

* The biggest budget cuts to our public schools in state history, nearly $900 million. Kerchunk.
* A bill to create a statewide system of charter schools whose authorizing board is appointed by Scott Walker and the Fitzgeralds, and which will funnel resources out of local schools and into cheapo online academies. Kerchunk.
* Lifting income caps on private-school vouchers so taxpayers foot the bill to send middle- and upper-income families' kids to private school. Kerchunk.

Then comes the really sick part. They candy-coat all this with banal statements about "reforms" that will "empower" parents and students and improve education.

Last week, Walker went to Washington, D.C., to give a speech to school-choice advocates at the American Federation for Children. He started off by reading a Dr. Seuss book, and talking about how "every kid deserves to have a great education."

Then he shocked his own Republican allies back home in the state Capitol by announcing, without warning, that he plans to expand the voucher program from Milwaukee to Beloit, Racine and Green Bay.

Republican Sen. Van Wangaard of Racine and Senate President Mike Ellis objected to being blindsided by Walker's voucher expansion plan, and Ellis backed away from the whole taxpayer funding for wealthy private school families idea.

Luther Olsen, Senate Education Committee chair, also backed away from Walker's sudden voucher-expansion plan, under intense pressure to stop carrying water for a governor whose education agenda looks like a death sentence for his district's schools. But in general, Olsen is doing just as much damage as Walker.

Olsen, the target of an energetic recall campaign, was a cosponsor of Senate Bill 22, to create that statewide charter school board, take charter school authorizing authority out of the hands of local school boards and funnel per-pupil spending to virtual charter schools. The bill would also, according to quite a few teachers, parents and constituents who came out in droves to testify against it, cause mass closures of local schools in rural areas, including Olsen's own community.

"Wautoma schools are bracing for the worst," Patricia Schmidt, a white-haired elementary school music teacher from Olsen's district, told the committee.

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Richard Littlejohn on rape.

 I’ve been observing – with some disgust – the arguments about rape this week and I was wondering if the level of debate could get any worse. Then I realised that Richard Littlejohn had decided to make this topic the focus of his column this morning.

Yes, Richard Littlejohn, the man who insisted that the five women murdered in Ipswich be referred to only as ‘prostitutes’ and that we needn’t mourn the death of these ‘disgusting, drug-addled street whores’ who were ‘no great loss’ as they ‘weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur’. And anyway, said Richard, ‘death by strangulation [was] an occupational hazard’ for the five women murdered, so what were we all getting upset about?

Yes, Richard women-hating Littlejohn – the man who sees in the twice-weekly collection of wheelie-bins the very end of civilisation – has had to step in because he feels the ‘The confected, hysterical reaction to his remarks was frankly typical of the debasement of political debate in this country’.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, the man whose greatest satirical tool is to miss-spell words and to imagine what any given modern event would be like if it involved the characters of Dad’s Army is stepping in to rescue the level of debate.

You are probably thinking: ‘This isn’t going to go well, is it?’ And you’re right.

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Source: Angry Mob

I wish I was actually surprised at this.

Tia Norfleet Tries To Become First Female, African-American NASCAR Driver

Tia Norfleet Tries To Become First Female, African-American NASCAR Driver

Tia Norfleet is used to breaking barriers. She's used to being overlooked, and she well knows the low odds and risks involved. None of this matters though.

Norfleet, 24, loves what she does and she'll stop at nothing to make it.

Racing ... is her life.

Growing up the daughter of a minister and a professional racecar driver (Bobby Norfleet), Tia was introduced to the sport at a very young age. In a predominately white, male sport, she is the exception to the rule. Female drivers are rare enough, but an African-American as well? It's never been done.
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The Bishop

Cherry Hill teen says she received threats since challenging Michelle Bachmann to debate

CHERRY HILL — A Cherry Hill teenager says she's received threats since challenging U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann to a debate over the Constitution.

Ann Myers challenged the tea party favorite from Minnesota in a letter dated April 29. After it started getting media attention last weekend, commenters on tea party websites have threatened to publish her home address and some have threatened violence.

The 16-year-old from Cherry Hill says several commenters have called her a "whore."

Her father, Wayne, says he's concerned for his daughter's safety.

But Cherry Hill Police Lt. William Kushina says anonymous online threats like these are usually empty.

Myers says Bachmann misstates or distorts facts about the Constitution. Bachmann's office told The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill that it won't respond to the debate challenge.



Absolutely disgusting.

$2M Michigan lottery winner defends use of food stamps

Source: Yahoo!News

A Michigan man who won $2 million in a state lottery game continues to collect food stamps 11 months after striking it rich.

And there's nothing the state can do about it, at least for now.

Leroy Fick, 59, of Auburn won $2 million in the state lottery TV show "Make Me Rich!" last June. But the state's Department of Human Services determined he was still eligible for food stamps, Fick's attorney, John Wilson of Midland, said Tuesday.

Eligibility for food stamps is based on gross income and follows federal guidelines; lottery winnings are considered liquid assets and don't count as income. As long as Fick's gross income stays below the eligibility requirement for food stamps, he can receive them, even if he has a million dollars in the bank.

Food stamps are paid for through tax dollars and are meant to help support low-income families.

"If you're going to try to make me feel bad, you're not going to do it," Fick told WNEM-TV in Saginaw on Monday.

Wilson said Fick told the DHS officials he'd won $2 million but was told he could keep using the Bridge Card issued to him to buy groceries.

Fick could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Al Kimichik, director of the office of inspector general for DHS, said the department could not comment on individual cases but that it this week began the process of requesting a waiver from the federal government to close the lottery loophole. If it is granted, assets would be counted in determining food stamp eligibility.
Though the food stamp program is federal and states must follow U.S. guidelines, states sometimes request waivers of rules. Michigan was granted a waiver recently to stop college students from qualifying for food stamps.

"For Leroy Fick to continue to use a Bridge Card, paid for by the taxpayers, after winning the lottery, is obscene," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. "What a waste of taxpayer money."

Jones contacted DHS officials Monday about Fick's case, and was told the department's hands were tied by federal regulations.

"There is no liquid asset requirement for getting food stamps," Jones said. "The department is asking the federal government for an immediate change (in policy). They're hoping this case will help the federal government act."

Until then, Fick can collect food stamps and keep his lottery winnings in the bank.

"I am not going to sit and debate the ethics of this," Wilson said. "But from his standpoint, he did what he was supposed to do -- he informed the state, and the state said he could keep using the card. The problem is with the state."
Suzumiya Haruhi

CA Assembly bans using credit reports for most hiring

The Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California lawmakers have voted to block employers from using consumer credit reports when they are deciding whether to hire workers for most jobs.

The state Assembly passed AB22 with the bare majority needed, sending it to the Senate.

If signed into law, the bill would stop the use of credit checks in hiring, except for managers, law enforcement, financial jobs and certain other positions that handle valuable items or information.

The bill's author, Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza of Artesia, says credit checks often are inaccurate and hurt minority and female job seekers. Opponents say they are a useful tool for employers assessing the integrity of job candidates.

Similar bills were approved the past three years but were vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

San Jose Mercury News


California employers would be prohibited in many cases from using consumer credit reports when they hire someone under a bill that cleared the state Assembly Thursday on a party line vote of 42-28. No Republicans voted in favor.

Similar measures passed the Legislature in 2009 and 2010, but were vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“A credit report is not a good indicator of a person’s trustworthiness or work ethic,” says Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, the author of the current and previous bills.

“Consider the condition of the economy and the negative effect these circumstances can have on a person’s credit — a credit report is an unfair lens through which to view job applicants,” he says.

AB 22 would ban the use of pre-employment credit checks for many employers, but there are certain exemptions. Exemptions include the following positions: any position with the State Department of Justice; any position in city or county government; a sworn peace officer or other law enforcement position; any position for which the information contained in the report is required to be disclosed by law or to be obtained by the employer.

The remaining exemption includes any managerial position where a credit report would be substantially job-related, meaning that person would be a manager and have access to money, assets, or confidential information.

“Many people have blemishes on their credit reports, especially at this time in our economy. Preventing someone from becoming gainfully employed due to a poor credit history is shameful,” says Mr. Mendoza.

Source: Central Valley Business Times

The bill hasn't been fully passed yet, but I thought this might be good for discussions.
Most of the applications I've sent in (I live in California) have required me to check that I agree to have my background and credit info checked; they say they'll send me a copy of the consumer report if the hiring company requests one, so I'm actually kind of curious to see what mine says. Anyone seen one of those?
Granted, I don't have a credit score yet. Dunno what message that sends employers...