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When Roger West first launched the progressive political blog "News From The Other Side" in May 2010, he could hardly have predicted the impact that his venture would have on the media and political debate. As the New Media emerged as a counterbalance to established media sources, Roger wrote his copious blogs about national politics, the tea party movement, mid-term elections, and the failings of the radical right to the vanguard of the New Media movement. Roger West's efforts as a leading blogger have tremendous reach. NFTOS has led the effort to bring accountability to mainstream media sources such as FOX NEWS,CNN and Andy Breitbart's "Big Journalism. Roger's breadth of experience, engaging style, and cultivation of loyal readership - over 49.7 million visitors - give him unique insight into the past, present, and future of the New Media and political rhetoric that exists in our society today. What we are against: Radical Right Wing Agendas Incompetent Establishment Public Coruption Corporate Malfeasence We are for: Global and Econmoic Security Social and Economic Justice Media Accountability Healthy Communities

Thursday, March 5, 2015



Yesterday the Department of Justice announced they would not charge former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last August. The Justice Department said that they could not prove that Wilson’s decision to shoot Brown was “objectively unreasonable.” To find that he was guilty of a civil right violation, they would have also had to prove that his actions were motivated by racial bias.

But the Department of Justice, in a separate investigation, did find a plethora of evidence of systemic racial bias throughout the Ferguson Police Department and local court system. Here are the 9 most egregious examples.

An African-American man lost his federal contracting job due to trumped up charges:

For example, in the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. An officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also asked to search the man’s car. The man objected, citing his constitutional rights. In response, the officer arrested the man, reportedly at gunpoint, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code…because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years. (2)

An African-American man was arrested because his wife asked officers a question:

In June 2014, an African-American couple who had taken their children to play at the park allowed their small children to urinate in the bushes next to their parked car. An officer stopped them, threatened to cite them for allowing the children to “expose themselves,” and checked the father for warrants. When the mother asked if the officer had to detain the father in front of the children, the officer turned to the father and said, “you’re going to jail because your wife keeps running her mouth.” (27)

An African-American man was tased for 20 seconds even though he made no aggressive movements and was unarmed:

In January 2013, a patrol sergeant stopped an African-American man after he saw the man talk to an individual in a truck and then walk away. The sergeant detained the man, although he did not articulate any reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. When the man declined to answer questions or submit to a frisk…the sergeant grabbed the man by the belt, drew his ECW, and ordered the man to comply. The man crossed his arms and objected that he had not done anything wrong. Video captured by the ECW’s built-in camera shows that the man made no aggressive movement toward the officer. The sergeant fired the ECW, applying a five-second cycle of electricity and causing the man to fall to the ground. The sergeant almost immediately applied the ECW again, which he later justified in his report by claiming that the man tried to stand up. The video makes clear, however, that the man never tried to stand—he only writhed in pain on the ground. (34)

A 14-year-old African-American girl who got into a verbal altercation with a classmate was tased by a School Resource Officer:

In one case, an SRO decided to arrest a 14-year-old African-American student at the Ferguson Middle School for Failure to Comply when the student refused to leave the classroom after getting into a trivial argument with another student. The situation escalated, resulting in the student being drive-stunned with an ECW in the classroom and the school seeking a 180-day suspension for the student. (37)

A Ferguson officer told an African-American man: “N*****, I can find something to lock you up on,” then slammed his face into a wall:

This documentary evidence of explicit racial bias is consistent with reports from community members indicating that some FPD officers use racial epithets in dealing with members of the public. We spoke with one African-American man who, in August 2014, had an argument in his apartment to which FPD officers responded, and was immediately pulled out of the apartment by force. After telling the officer, “you don’t have a reason to lock me up,” he claims the officer responded: “N*****, I can find something to lock you up on.” When the man responded, “good luck with that,” the officer slammed his face into the wall, and after the man fell to the floor, the officer said, “don’t pass out motherf****r because I’m not carrying you to my car.” (73)

Ferguson officers dismissed concerns about bias, blamed disparity on lack of “personal responsibility” among African-Americans:

Several Ferguson officials told us during our investigation that it is a lack of “personal responsibility” among African-American members of the Ferguson community that causes African Americans to experience disproportionate harm under Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement. Our investigation suggests that this explanation is at odd with the facts. (74)

A Ferguson officer called an African-American man standing outside of Wal-Mart a “stupid motherf*****,” while police lieutenant watched and did nothing:

In December 2011, for example, an African- American man alleged that as he was standing outside of Wal-Mart, an officer called him a “stupid motherf****r” and a “bastard.” According to the man, a lieutenant was on the scene and did nothing to reproach the officer, instead threatening to arrest the man. (80)

At the courthouse, a Ferguson officer mocked an African-American man as “hooked on phonics”:

In June 2011, a 60-year-old man complained that an officer verbally harassed him while he stood in line to see the judge in municipal court. According to the man, the officer repeatedly ordered him to move forward as the line advanced and, because he did not advance far enough, turned to the other court-goers and joked, “he is hooked on phonics.” (80)

Officers, court officials, and supervisors regularly exchanged blatantly racist emails:

• A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

• A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!”

• An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.

• A May 2011 email stated: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”

• A June 2011 email described a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”

• An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”

• A December 2011 email included jokes that are based on offensive stereotypes about Muslims. (72)

Hey Chief Justice Roberts, thought you said racism was over in America? 

Ferguson Police Department, you are this weeks worst people in the world! 

Roger West

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


The Department of Justice will release a report on Wednesday that finds Ferguson City Police had a pattern of racial bias and excessive force, multiple outlets are reporting. The report will also detail that police made racist jokes on city email accounts, The New York Times reported.

Ferguson, which was the location of a white officer shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, spurred nationwide protests over police brutality. At the time it was reported that Ferguson police were disproportionately targeting the city’s African-American population, and that finding is confirmed by the Justice Department’s forthcoming report.

African Americans make up 67 percent of the city’s population, but they made up 85 percent of vehicle stops and 93 percent of arrests, even though blacks were less likely to possess contraband like drugs or illegal guns. The AP also reported that blacks were 68 percent less likely to have their cases dismissed by the municipal judge, and that 95 percent of the people kept in jail for two days or more were black. Huffington Post reported that 88 percent of use-of-force cases were against African-American suspects.

FBI Director James Comey recently candidly addressed unconscious racial bias in policing, which might be progress for the law enforcement agency but long-running research and many activists have pointed out that police officers are biased in their work.

Attorney General Eric Holder has threatened to sue Ferguson police if it finds a pattern of racial discrimination. This threat may serve as an incentive for Ferguson police to change its practices.

Roger West

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Secret Science Reform Act

Two very special bills are scheduled for consideration in the House of Representatives on Tuesday: one is called the Secret Science Reform Act, and the other is called the Science Advisory Board Reform Act. Taken together, these bills would significantly change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to craft regulations intended to protect the environment and public health.

If it became law, the “Secret Science” bill would prohibit the EPA from using science that includes private data or data that can’t be easily reproduced. Bill sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) says this would stop “hidden and flawed” science from being the basis of EPA regulations, though many scientific organizations have disagreed with the characterization of their data.
“Costly regulations should not be created behind closed doors and out of public view,” Smith said. “This bill works toward a more accountable government that the American people want and deserve.”

The second bill, The Science Advisory Board Reform Act, would change the rules surrounding which scientists are allowed to serve on the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA. The SAB reviews the quality of science used to justify EPA regulations, like rules that limit air pollution from power plants. Among other things, the bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to advise the agency, and would make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board.

If the bills sound familiar, that’s because they were both passed by the House last year. In addition to being passed, both bills were strongly criticized by environmentalists and scientists, who said they were based on a misunderstanding of how science works.

With the “Secret Science” bill, for example, approximately 50 scientific societies and universities said the requirements could prohibit many large-scale public health studies because their data “could not realistically be reproduced.” In addition, many studies use private medical data, trade secrets, and industry data that cannot legally be made public.

Republicans in support of the bill assure that the data within the studies can still be used without disclosing personal information or trade secrets. But it wouldn’t be cheap for those studies to meet the bill’s requirements. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that the EPA relies on approximately 50,000 scientific studies per year, and that meeting the goals of the House “Secret Science” bill would cost between $10,000 and $30,000 per study.

Taking it a step further, many House Democrats criticized the bills as a disingenuous play for “transparency” within the EPA, when all Republicans really want is less EPA regulation.
“It’s a dangerous attack on the power of knowledge,” Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) said on the House floor last November. “Rather than argue with the indisputable facts on air pollution — a losing bet — this bill attempts to discredit the science as secret, when in fact there’s nothing secret about it. The only secret here is the true intent of this bill.”

At least one thing has changed since the bills were considered in 2014. Last year, one of the most controversial portions of the Science Advisory Board bill was the part that says scientists are not allowed to advise the EPA on their own research, as that would count as a conflict of interest.

That section drew considerable outrage from groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, which noted how bizarre it was that scientists were essentially forbidden from sharing their own expertise. “This [bill] effectively turns the idea of conflict of interest on its head,” the group’s director, Andrew A. Rosenberg, said in a letter to Congress.

In the 2015 version of the bill, that section has been changed. Now under the new version, scientists would be allowed to advise the EPA on their own research, but only if “fully disclosed to the public and the work has been externally peer-reviewed.” The bill does not make clear what constitutes an “external” peer-review, or how scientists would be expected to make that public disclosure.

The passage of both bills last year generated some mild fanfare among the environmentalist and scientist communities, but each were unlikely to become law. The Democrat-controlled Senate did not plan to take up a similar bill, and even if it did, President Obama had already threatened to veto it.

Now, with a Republican-controlled Senate that has so far been willing to consider bills President Obama won’t agree to, advancing the “Secret Science” and Science Advisory Board bills do seem a bit more likely. An aide from the House Science committee, which Smith chairs, said that companion legislation for Smith’s “Secret Science” was introduced in the Senate last week, sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).

The man who would ultimately decide whether to consider the bills in the Senate is Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Though Inhofe hasn't spoken publicly about the bills, he is one of the EPA’s most outspoken opponents, telling the Washington Post last year that he would “do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA’s unchecked regulations.”

Whether Inhofe will prioritize the bills remains to be seen. His office did not return a request for comment.

[h/t thinkprogress]


Monday, March 2, 2015


CNN's Brian Stelter aired a new version of an audio that was first published by the website, which proves that when Bill O'Reilly said he was at the door of a Lee Harvey Oswald associate who killed himself, it was a lie.

With each passing day, new information comes out that depicts how many times Bill O'Reilly has lied about his own reporting just as Brian Williams did. Williams was suspended for his actions, yet Bill is still on the air regurgitating BS.

Roger West

Sunday, March 1, 2015



As if:

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington, DC, Wisconsin Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker was asked what his plan would be, were he in the White House, to combat the terrorism perpetuated by the Islamic State In Syria (ISIS).

As an enthusiastic crowd cheered, he responded not with a plan but with an argument for why his battles against organized labor in his state makes him the most qualified for the job.
“We need have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message that not only will we protect American soil, but…freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need that confidence,” he said. “If I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Walker focused a good deal of his prime-time speech on the anti-union measures he has championed in Wisconsin, including a so-called “right-to-work” bill that he previously called a “distraction” that he did not support. He also touted his restrictions on teachers’ unions, telling the CPAC audience: “We don’t have tenure anymore. We can hire and fire anyone we want.”

Walker has since walked back his remarks to Bloomberg Politics, saying, “My point was just, if I could handle that kind of a pressure and kind of intensity, I think I’m up for the challenge for whatever might come, if I choose to run for president,” and he told CNN that he didn't regret the remarks, but “there’s no analogy between the two other than difficult situation.”

If the dumbass that is Scott Walker - if this is the best the wing nut can put forward as their presidential hopeful for 2016, I can' t wait.

Roger West

Saturday, February 28, 2015



At this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference just outside DC, Grover Norquist with Americans for Tax Reform told a packed room that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are now embracing changes to the War on Drugs model that has led to an explosion in mass incarceration over the last several decades. But he warned that the two parties were backing the reforms for different reasons.

“Democrats only support [criminal justice reform] because all their relatives are in prison,” he said, to chuckles from the audience, adding that Republicans believed mandatory minimums are ineffective and un-American.

The panel’s moderator, Pat Nolan with the American Conservative Union Foundation, hit back at Norquist, noting that “because of this drug war, a whole lot of Republicans have family in prison too.”

One of those Republicans was sitting right next to Norquist. Julie Stewart with Families Against Mandatory Minimums spoke passionately about her own brother, who was arrested and sentenced in Washington State in the 1990s for growing marijuana plants — an act, she noted, that is now legal. She said she agrees that he deserved some punishment, but thought that punishment should be decided by a judge who understand his personal circumstances.
“Lawmakers like Nancy Pelosi shouldn’t be deciding the fate of people they’ve never laid eyes on,” she said.

Roger West

Today Norquist is today's worst person in the world.

Friday, February 27, 2015


The Daily Show posted a Vine Wednesday titled, "50 Fox News lies in 6 seconds."

Pundit Fact fact-checked almost all of the statements they cited. For the record, they originally counted 49 claims, not 50. The Daily Show said No. 50 was left off due to a technical error. They've updated their Vine, which I've included here.

1. "In July 2010 the government said small businesses -- 60 percent -- will lose their health care, 45 percent of big business and a large percentage of individual health."

Sean Hannity, Nov. 11, 2013


2. "And President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture out of his own pocket, yet it's the Republican National Committee who's paying for this."

Anna Kooiman, Oct. 5, 2013

3. Labor union president Andy Stern is "the most frequent visitor" at the White House.

Glenn Beck, Dec. 3, 2009


4. "Far more children died last year drowning in their bathtubs than were killed accidentally by guns."

Tucker Carlson, Aug. 9, 2014

Pants on Fire

5. White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard once served as the "right-hand man" for Bertha Lewis, who heads up ACORN.

Steve Doocy, Sept. 29, 2009


6. "Look at the debt that has been accumulated in the last two years. It's more debt under this president than all those other presidents combined."

Sarah Palin, May 31, 2011


7. "There is no good data showing secondhand smoke kills people."

John Stossel, Dec. 4, 2014


8. "Democrats are poised now to cause this largest tax increase in U.S. history."

Sarah Palin, Aug. 1, 2010

Pants on Fire

9. "The insurance industry is actually run by mostly Democrats."

Dana Perino, Oct. 31, 2013


10. The Obama administration "manipulated deportation data to make it appear that the Border Patrol was deporting more illegal immigrants than the Bush administration."

Lou Dobbs, July 1, 2014


11. Some doctors say Ebola can be transmitted through the air by "a sneeze or some cough."

George Will, Oct. 19, 2014


12. Says the Texas State Board of Education is considering eliminating references to Christmas and the Constitution in textbooks.

Gretchen Carlson, March 10, 2010

Pants on Fire

13. Because of President Barack Obama’s failure to "push job creation," the black unemployment rate in Ferguson, Mo., is three times higher than the white unemployment rate.

Lou Dobbs, Aug. 19, 2014


14. When White House communications director Anita Dunn said that Mao Tse-tung was "one of her favorite philosophers, only Fox News picked that up."

Bill O’Reilly, Oct. 23, 2009


15. "The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day."

Michele Bachmann, Nov. 3, 2010


(Note: Bachmann’s claim was made on CNN, not Fox News but Glenn Beck made a similar claim on Fox)

16. "We researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it."

Bill O’Reilly, Oct. 27, 2010

Pants on Fire

17. "If you make more than $250,000 a year … you only really take home about $125,000."

Steve Doocy, July 11, 2012


18. A Census Bureau worker says he was told to skew information to bring the unemployment rate down "as we headed into an election season."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Nov. 19, 2013


19. "Health care mandate will require imprisonment and fines for Americans who can’t afford to purchase insurance or pay hefty government penalties."

Patients First, Sept. 21, 2009

Mostly False

(Note: Fox hosts have said closely similar statements because of our research into Bill O’Reilly’s Pants on Fire claim -- No. 16 -- that no one on Fox News ever said it.)

20. "And finally tonight, although it pains me to say this, Jon Stewart? Comedy Central? He was right. Now on his program last night, he mentioned that we had played some incorrect video on this program last week while talking about the Republican health care rally on Capitol Hill. He was correct, we screwed up, we aired some video of a rally in September, along with a video from the actual event. It was an inadvertent mistake, but a mistake nonetheless, so Mr. Stewart. you were right, we apologize. But by the way, I wanna thank you, and all your writers, for watching."

Sean Hannity, Nov. 12, 2009

* * *

21. "I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time (2000-08)."

Eric Bolling, July 14, 2011

22. The United Way and Enroll America, in Coral Gables, Fla., had "navigators going door to door, knocking on the homes of the uninsured … helping them navigate through the different plans that are available.

Phil Keating, Oct. 1, 2013

23. Less than 10 percent of Obama's Cabinet appointees "have any experience in the private sector."

Glenn Beck, Nov. 30, 2009


24. During the lead-up to the American Revolutionary War, "some guy in Boston got his head blown off because he tried to secretly raise the tax on tea."

Andrea Tantaros, Jan. 15, 2014

Pants on Fire

25. "American troops have never been under the formal control of another nation."

Karl Rove, March 23, 2001


26. "The 'Denver Post' has actually hired an editor to promote pot."

Bill O’Reilly, Dec. 9, 2013


27. "The amount of attention paid this week to Chris Christie makes the coverage of Benghazi ... pale in significance."

Karl Rove, Jan. 12, 2014


28. Liberals have figured out a Facebook algorithm and "all the people getting banned from Facebook are somehow conservatives."

Todd Starnes, April 17, 2014


29. Obamacare is "one big fat VA system."

Kimberly Guilfoyle, May 21, 2014

Pants on Fire

30. Says Gov. Rick Scott's approval ratings are up.

Brian Kilmeade, April 15, 2001


31. "Under the Obama plan . . . all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government."

Sen. Tom Coburn, March 4, 2009


32. If you log into the government's Cash for Clunkers website ( from your home computer, the government can "seize all of your personal and private" information, and track your computer activity.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, July 31, 2009


33. The Massachusetts health care plan is "wildly unpopular" among state residents.

Laura Ingraham, May 12, 2011


34. "The Constitution simply does not authorize the federal government to own any of this land (in the Western states)."

Andrew Napolitano, April 23, 2014

Pants on Fire

35. Says President Barack Obama is "sending a much larger (force) " to deal with Ebola "than ISIS is getting."

Brit Hume, Sept. 21, 2014


36. On climate change, "the temperature readings have been fabricated, and it's all blowing up in their (scientists') faces."

Dana Perino, Feb. 9, 2015

Pants on Fire

37. Says President Barack Obama’s recent New York fundraising trip "cost between $25 million and $50 million."

Donald Trump, Oct. 13, 2014

Pants on Fire

38. Under President Barack Obama, "8.3 (million) fewer Americans are working today than there were four years ago."

Sean Hannity, Jan. 20, 2013


39. Seniors and the disabled "will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care."

Sarah Palin, Aug. 7, 2009

Pants on Fire

(Note: This claim was made originally on Facebook. It’s unclear to us if Palin said it on Fox News.)

40. New poll by YouGov shows that 7/10 people who voted for President Obama’s re-election in 2012 ‘regret’ doing so

Fox and Friend tweet, Feb. 19, 2014


41. "NASA scientists fudged the numbers to make 1998 the hottest year to overstate the extent of global warming."

Steve Doocy, June 24, 2014

Pants on Fire

42. A new Colorado law "literally allows residents to print ballots from their home computers, then encourages them to turn ballots over to ‘collectors.’ "

Megyn Kelly, Oct. 21, 2014


43. The Affordable Care Act alters the "sensible doctor-patient-relationship-centered health care program ... we see today."

Sarah Palin, Nov. 24, 2013


44. Since 1965, the United States has spent "untold trillions" yet the poverty rate hasn’t budged.

Bill O’Reilly, July 26, 2011


45. Says Colorado food stamp recipients can use ATMs to get cash to buy marijuana.

Brian Kilmeade, Jan. 21, 2014


46. "Attorney General Eric Holder is involved in the dismissal of the criminal charges" against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation

Bill O’Reilly, July 17, 2010


47. "Barack Obama had 150 days in the U.S. Senate where he was able to vote quite often 'present.' "

Sarah Palin, Feb. 6, 2010


48. "It will cost $50,000 per enrollee in Obamacare over the next 10 years."

Stuart Varney, Jan. 27, 2015


49. "We're going to be looking at $8 billion a day that we're going to be pouring into foreign countries in order to import that make-up fuel that we're going to need to take the place of what we could have gotten out of the Gulf (of Mexico)."

Sarah Palin, May 1, 2013

Pants on Fire

50. "Why do we have automatic citizenship upon birth? We're the only country in the world that has it."

Glenn Beck, June 10, 2009


Roger West

Thursday, February 26, 2015


A lawmaker in Kansas is seeking to criminalize the distribution of “harmful” materials to minors in schools, lifting an exemption for teachers using approved materials. Advocates working against the bill worry it will have a “chilling” effect on teachers in the state.
“It’s purely a reaction to this instance of this one particular sex ed poster,” said Micah Kubic, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, who testified against the bill. “This poster must be the most impactful poster in the history of the poster.”
The text-only poster, displayed in Hocker Grove Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas, in 2014 was titled, “How Do People Express Their Sexual Feelings?” and included the words “hugging,” “grinding” and “anal sex.” Kubic said the bill is unnecessary. “The teacher who put that up was disciplined by the school almost immediately after that parent complained,” he said.
“There was a list of sexual acts, some of which were highly offensive,” Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook told KMBC 9 News. Pilcher-Cook previously introduced a bill that would criminalize surrogate parenting, saying “you are creating a child purposely that you know is not going to have a biological mother.”
The bill would criminalize displaying material to minors that is “harmful,” including “any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse when the material or performance.” The bill looks likely to pass the state Senate this week, and carries a penalty of up to six months in jail. Kansas already has a law that protects minors from “harmful” material, mainly to prevent adults from distributing pornography to minors. As it is written now, the law includes an exemption for teachers, but this bill aims to remove that exemption.

ACLU Kansas and teachers worry that the language is overly broad, and that teachers could be targeted for things that are part of a normal curriculum, including books with sexual or controversial themes like Huckleberry Finn. A lesson an anatomy, say, might be dicey for a biology teacher, or an art history class could be scrubbed because some of the content included nudes.

Marcus Baltzell, communications director at the Kansas National Education Association, warned that teachers already worry about the effect. “One person’s objection about something is now putting a blanket of silence, a blanket of censorship over an entire state. Is that what we want?”
“It makes me feel like I need to self-censor,” Baltzell, who is a certified teacher, said. “Now I have to consider anything that would have any kind of text or imagery or anything that would be remotely questionable by say one individual I can be brought up on charges for that.”
Baltzell pointed out that there are already rigorous standards in place to deal with parents who object to materials presented by teachers. “This is a solution in search of a problem,” he said.

Another bill inspired by the poster that inspired the “harmful” materials bill would require schoolchildren to “opt in” to sex ed rather than “opt out.” Baltzell, though he didn’t comment on the details of the state’s sex ed program, did note that an opt in standard is harmful. “We think that’s difficult and dangerous for the child who needs this education but doesn’t have that same active and involved parent that another student does,” he said.

According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Kansas’ statewide curriculum already prescribes “a complete program of abstinence until marriage in human sexuality that is developmentally appropriate, including information about sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.” Research has shown that students educated in an abstinence-only environment tend to have sex earlier and more often than students educated with more comprehensive materials.

ACLU Kansas’ Kubic pointed out that there are only three other states that currently have “opt in” requirements. “We’ll be going in the wrong direction,” he said.

Crossposted from thinkprogress


Wednesday, February 25, 2015



Nevada tea bagger and Assemblywoman Michele Fiore wants to reform the rules of end-of-life medical care so that more cancer patients can simply flush out their disease using baking soda.

Fiore, who is also CEO of a healthcare company, told listeners to her weekly radio show on Saturday, that she will soon introduce a “terminally ill bill,” to allow more non-FDA-approved treatments for those diagnosed as having terminal illnesses.

As first reported by Jon Ralston, Fiore told listeners: “If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing, let’s say, salt water, sodium cardonate, through that line, and flushing out the fungus… These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.” The American Cancer Society warns that while cancer patients whose immune systems are weakened by high doses of chemotherapy can sometimes contract fungal infections, “there is no evidence that antifungal treatment causes the patients’ tumors to shrink.” Cancer Research UK dismisses the claim that sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can cure cancer as a debunked “persistent cancer myth.”

Fiore added that Nevada is already “the capital of entertainment” and this bill could help “make it the medical capital of the world as well.”

Weeks after being removed from her position as Republican Majority Leader over allegations of more than $1 million in tax liens, Fiore made news last Wednesday for her assertion that “young, hot little girls on campus” need to be armed with guns to prevent themselves from being raped, saying that every citizen should “have the right to defend him or herself from sexual assault.”

In 2012, she proposed arming school officials and college students as a way of combating school shootings.

Although Fiore’s views on cancer are particularly fringe, the bill she is backing is gaining traction in a number of states. At least five states have now passed similar legislation that allows patients to use drugs not cleared by the FDA, dubbed so-called “right to try” bills. The campaign to pass these bills has been led by the libertarian Goldwater Institute.

[h/t thinkprogress]

Roger West

Tuesday, February 24, 2015



Jon Stewart of the Daily Show railed on Ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for claiming the President has no love for his country.

For weeks Giuliani has been on the war path of how much Obama hates America. The “Call of Rudy” tour has been relentless right-wing gibberish – Giuliani not just doubling down on his ludicrousness, but tripling down without stopping for a breath.

Stewart explained that “Giuliani was so far out on the deep end on this that even running to the usually loving arms of Megyn Kelly didn't work out so well and he had to turn to Fox's Hannity instead to have his hatred validated.


Stewart, in his final synopsis of the issue mocked Rudy for pretending Obama doesn't love America because he wants to "transform it" - just like the former New York mayor once said he wanted to do with his city.

Roger West

Monday, February 23, 2015



CNN's Brian Stelter spoke to former CBS correspondent Eric Engberg about his recent post questioning of Bill O'Reilly's version of events on his reporting in Argentina. Stelter asked Engberg at the end of the segment if he had a vendetta against O'Reilly and whether this was about a personal dispute.

ENGBERG: No. He's the one that started the personal dispute by saying that we were all hiding in our hotel rooms... By the way, I do have this personal dispute with him. He's not a real reporter and he was not in a combat zone that night. This was not a combat zone. Not even close.

Most humans with an IQ above 3 were aware of this but it's nice to hear someone say it on cable news. Engberg's description of O'Reilly is most definitely devastating hit to the blowhard.

Engberg on Facebook :
Did Fox News bloviater Bill O'Reilly commit Brian Williams type fabrications when he claimed he had been in a "combat situation" while working as a reporter for CBS News during the Falklands War in 1982? Did he pad his resume' as he was laying claim to personal knowledge about what happens in war? The issue has arisen because the "Mother Jones" magazine Washington bureau chief David Corn has written a story, largely based on recollections of CBS News senior staffers, comparing O'Reilly's statements about his war experience to the fabrications which sent NBC anchor Williams into a six-month suspension.
I can provide some eyewitness information on this matter because I was one of the correspondents in Buenos Aires with O'Reilly and the rest of the rather large staff of CBS News people who were there "covering" the war. To begin with "covering" is an overstatement of what we were doing. Corn is correct in pointing out that the Falkland Islands, where the combat between Great Britain and Argentina took place, was a thousand miles away from Buenos Aires. We were in Buenos Aires because that's the only place the Argentine military junta would let journalists go. Our knowledge of the war was restricted to what we could glean from comically deceitful daily briefings given by the Argentine military and watching government-controlled television to try to pick up a useful clue from propaganda broadcasts. We -- meaning the American networks -- were all in the same, modern hotel and we never saw any troops, casualties or weapons. It was not a war zone or even close. It was an "expense account zone." 
O'Reilly, freshly hired by CBS, arrived in Buenos Aires a few days before the British expeditionary force defeated the Argentine occupiers. He was, as he is today, full of brio and confidence. I remember him asking me how I liked my assignment. When I said I was tired of living in a hotel and wanted to go home he said, "Call your agent." Back in those days calling your agent to complain about the company's decision-making would have been a career-ender, but he didn't seem to understand matters of the CBS internal secret wooglies, which included the rule that you did as you were told. I should have known he was headed for trouble, but I just thought he was a rookie who would learn. Yeah, right. 
Within a couple of days of his arrival the British Army and Marines had completed their land assault on the Falklands capital and forced the Argentines to surrender. The Argentine public, who had been living under a murderous, corrupt military government for years, were driven into the streets of their capital by rage over the loss of a war they had been repeatedly told their army was winning. As night fell after the surrender statement, several thousand people gathered in the streets around the presidential palace to protest. All the members of the CBS reporting staff and all the two-person camera crews we had in Buenos Aires were sent in to the street. I believe there were four or five crews. The reporters, as I remember, were O'Reilly, Chuck Gomez, Charles Krause, Bob Schieffer and myself. Somewhere it has been reported that O'Reilly has claimed he was the only CBS News reporter who had the courage to go into the street because the rest of us were hiding in our hotel. If he said such thing it is an absolute lie. Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O'Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading. 
The CBS bureau chief in Buenos Aires, Larry Doyle, an ex-Marine LRRP, was something of a legend among CBSers because of his personal courage and his knowledge about how to do your job without exposing yourself to undue danger. Early that night in Buenos Aires he assembled the camera crews in our hotel newsroom and instructed them to refrain from using the lights on their cameras while around crowds. Television lights attracted potentially violent people and also made the camera-person an easier target for demonstrators throwing rocks. We all knew that the Argentine public was angry at the U.S. for supporting Britain in the war, so American journalists might become a target for mob violence. So, O'Reilly has been correct in describing the situation in Buenos Aires as somewhat dicey for reporters. If he was nervous, I can see why. 
The riot around the presidential palace was actually short-lived. It consisted mostly of chanting, fist-shaking and throwing coins at the uniformed soldiers who were assembled outside the palace. I did not see any police attacks against demonstrators. According to Doyle, O'Reilly returned to the hotel in a rage over the fact that his cameraman wouldn't turn on the lights to photograph angry crowds. Doyle defended the cameraman and chewed out O'Reilly for violating his instructions on lights. When Doyle looked at the tape shot by O'Reilly's cameraman he saw that the video included stand-ups -- on camera description by the reporter -- which O'Reilly had ordered the cameraman to shoot -- with his light on. Doyle was further upset by this tape, which clearly showed that his orders on lights had been unilaterally violated by O'Reilly. The issue here was safety. 
CBS was doing a late night re-cap of the Falkland's story. As always the Buenos Aires bureau had no combat video footage to offer, so our part of the special would be the demonstrations, which had been well covered by three or four camera crews, including the one working with O'Reilly. All that footage was blended into the main story, narrated by Schieffer, who had been in Buenos Aires for weeks as the anchor on the scene. When Doyle informed O'Reilly that Schieffer would be doing the report, which would not include any segment from O'Reilly, the reporter exploded. "I didn't come down here to have my footage used by that old man," he shouted. Doyle was stunned. First O'Reilly had defiantly ordered a cameraman to disregard his orders on using lights, and now he was claiming the right to do a story the producers had decided should be done by the senior correspondent on the scene, Schieffer. This confrontation led the next day to O'Reilly being ordered out of Argentina by the CBS bosses. Doyle had told them O'Reilly was a "disruptive force" who threatened his bureau's morale and cohesion. 
I remember looking on a monitor at the long stand-up O'Reilly ordered his crew to shoot, which was never used on the air. He shot this description in the middle of a clearly angry, chanting crowd. As a reporter I wondered why he would think he needed video of himself standing in the middle of the crowd when his own crew and others had taken plenty of good crowd pictures that didn't have O'Reilly standing in the middle of the frame blocking the action. You don't shoot a long stand-up when you have plenty of good pictures of the event you are covering. What O'Reilly was doing was in the realm of local news. I didn't know at the time that he had also violated the bureau chief's order on use of lights, but I wondered why would any correspondent would imperil his colleagues by turning on lights during a riot. 
O'Reilly has said he was in a situation in Argentina where "my photographer got run down and hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete and the army was chasing us." The only place where such an injury could have occurred was the relatively tame riot I have described above. Neither Doyle, who would have been immediately informed of injury to any CBS personnel, nor anyone else who was working the story remembers a cameraman being injured that night. No one who reported back to our hotel newsroom after the disturbance was injured; if a cameraman had been "bleeding from the ear" he would have immediately reported that to his superiors at the hotel. This part of O'Reilly's Argentina story is not credible without further confirmation, and O'Reilly should identify the cameraman by name so he can be questioned about the alleged injury. 
The gunfire reported by O'Reilly is equally suspicious. One of our camera crews reported that they believed the Argentine police or army had fired a few rubber bullets at the crowd. That was the only report we received of weapons being fired that night. The crowd had been confined to a relatively small area around the president's palace. It wasn't like there were protests going on all over the city. I did see soldiers armed with rifles on guard around the presidential palace. But they did not take aim at the crowd and I heard no gunfire. No one I talked to as the crowd was breaking up told me they heard gunfire. O'Reilly's claim that the army fired weapons into the crowd is not supported by anyone's recollection. Had that happened, I believe, the riot would have escalated into an uncontrollable attack on government buildings all over the capital. Nothing like that happened. Actually, the military chiefs, yielding to the public outcry over the war's outcome, were willing to give up their offices, which they did the next day. 
I am fairly certain that most professional journalists would refer to the story I have just related as "routine reporting on a demonstration that got a little nasty." O'Reilly, in defending himself yesterday against Corn's "Mother Jones" piece, said "We were in a combat situation in Buenos Aires." He is misrepresenting the situation he covered, and he is obviously doing so to burnish his credentials as a "war correspondent," which is not the work he was performing during the Falklands war. I don't think it's as big a lie as Brian Williams told because O'Reilly hasn't falsely claimed to be the target of an enemy attack, but he has displayed a willingness to twist the truth in a way that seeks to invent a battlefield that did not exist. And he ought to be subject to the same scrutiny Williams faced. He also ought to be ashamed of himself. By the way, "Old Man" Schieffer seemed to do okay as a TV journalist in the years (and there were plenty) after O'Reilly claimed to have been "big footed" by him. Maybe "Old Schieffer" called HIS agent.

Bill O is going down. It's only a matter of time now. His chapstick will soon lose its affect and his only value – his lasting grip to Fox is losing its hold. Everything he regurgitates should be dissected and torn apart. His number is up. We should be biding Bill O a fond adieu very soon - good riddance asshat!

Roger West

Sunday, February 22, 2015



During a town hall meeting in Payson, Arizona last week, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) stunned constituents when he claimed that undocumented immigrants could stand to receive $24,000 in retroactive compensation after they are approved for the president’s executive action on immigration relief.

GOSAR: It was learned the household income deferred tax credit applied retroactively for three years. So each illegal alien will get $24,000 in compensation. 
GOSAR: Yep, absolutely. When you start looking at the process where the GDP [gross domestic product] in Mexico, the second largest input to that, is our system of Social Security and benefits. And they’re going to make this go away.

Watch the video recorded by American Bridge.

As the Washington Post pointed out in its Fact Checker column that ranked the statement with four Pinnochios, Gosar’s claim is inaccurate. Under the president’s executive action to grant temporary work authorization and deportation relief, undocumented immigrants would be allowed to apply for Social Security numbers, which Gosar indicated, could in turn allow them to “file amended tax returns for the last three years claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Gosar called it the ‘household deferred tax credit,’ but he meant the EITC.).” But as a Treasury Department spokesman told the author, the claims process could actually result in people, who don’t work on the books, owing taxes. It’s also an unlikely scenario for undocumented immigrants to earn $24,000, or the “maximum credit” available to taxpayers with three or more children and who are within a specific income range. About 12 percent of EITC recipients fulfill the criteria, but many of them don’t qualify for the maximum credit.

What’s more, Social Security is not the second largest part of Mexico’s gross domestic product. As Gosar’s spokesman Steven Smith told the Washington Post, “Smith said that Gosar was talking about remittances and its impact on the Mexican economy.” Remittances actually make up only two percent of Mexico’s GDP.

Undocumented immigrants already pay into the Social Security system, having a “net positive effect on Social Security financial status,” and contributing roughly $12 billion to the cash flow of the program in the year 2010, according to a 2013 Social Security Administration report.

Other lawmakers have made similar arguments, calling alleged compensation “amnesty bonuses,” including Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. Ben Sasse, and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). Sasse said during in his testimony last week, “By subsidizing illegal entry with four years’ worth of new tax credits, the IRS would promote lawlessness. This program severely undermines the White House’s lip-service to enforcing the law and would increase the burden on law-abiding taxpayers.”

Gosar has stretched the truth about undocumented immigrants in the past. Last September, Gosar tweeted pictures of himself squatting near barbed wire. He wrote, “25 miles of barbed wire fence is the only thing keeping #ISIS out of America. We must secure the border #AZBorderTour.” Obama administration officials dismissed claims that ISIS members could sneak into the country by land, not least of which because federal spending on immigration enforcement already costs $18 billion.

Gosar has also supported: a bill to end the president’s 2012 deferred action program to grant temporary deportation relief and work authorization; limiting citizenship to children born to U.S. citizens or nationals or other lawful residents; likening the Obama administration’s lawsuit against the anti-immigration law in Arizona known as SB 1070 to a “declaration of war [by the federal government] against Arizona;” and sending troops to the border.

The president’s latest executive action, which would have affected about one-third of the undocumented population, was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Texas this week.

Congarulations Paul Gosar, you are this weeks dumbest human in the world.

Roger West

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Bill Maher took Jeb Bush to task for his hypocrisy on enforcing marijuana laws and called for an end to the drug wars during his New Rules segment this Friday.


Roger West

Friday, February 20, 2015



Yesterday David Corn published a scathing piece in Mother Jones about the ridiculous combat lies of Bill O'Reilly. An excerpt:
In April 2013, while discussing the Boston Marathon bombing, O'Reilly shared a heroic tale of his exploits in the Falklands war: 
I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete. And the army was chasing us. I had to make a decision. And I dragged him off, you know, but at the same time, I'm looking around and trying to do my job, but I figure I had to get this guy out of there because that was more important. 
Yet his own account of his time in Argentina in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone, contains no references to O'Reilly experiencing or covering any combat during the Falklands war. In the book, which in part chronicles his troubled stint as a CBS News reporter, O'Reilly reports that he arrived in Buenos Aires soon before the Argentine junta surrendered to the British, ending the 10-week war over control of two territories far off the coast of Argentina. There is nothing in this memoir indicating that O'Reilly witnessed the fighting between British and Argentine military forces—or that he got anywhere close to the Falkland Islands, which are 300 miles off Argentina's shore and about 1,200 miles south of Buenos Aires.

It is recommended that you go to Mother Jones via this link to get the full story.

RAW Story is reporting that:
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly angrily denounced a Mother Jones report on Thursday questioning his statements regarding his reporting during the Falklands War in 1982. 
“It’s a hit piece,” O’Reilly told Politico. “Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.”

On Thursday, O’Reilly called Corn a “despicable guttersnipe” and said he never claimed to have been on the islands.

David Corn responded with a tweet:
“This Just In: O'Reilly resorts to spin and name-calling. Stay classy”
"To me, the issue here is whether a media figure and journalist like Bill O'Reilly, who claims to be a truth teller, can get away without answering questions about specific statements he's made, and hide behind name calling," Corn told the On Media blog on Thursday. "I would encourage anyone else who covers this story to get Bill O'Reilly to answer those questions - if not to me, than to anyone else."
Corn's full response via politico:

Roger West

Thursday, February 19, 2015


A Washington state judge has ruled that florist Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, broke state law when she refused to provide flowers for the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. Stutzman, represented by anti-LGBT legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), had been sued by the same-sex couples and the state’s attorney general for breaking both the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the state’s Consumer Protection Act. She counter-sued, seeking the right to engage in such discrimination based on her religious beliefs.

Though Stutzman has become a darling of the religious right for asserting her Southern Baptist beliefs about same-sex marriage, her arguments about religious freedom fell flat in court. Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom concluded in his decision that “to accept any [of] the Defendants’ arguments would be to disregard well-settled law.”

In fact, the case was rather open-and-shut. On March 1, 2013, “Stutzman refused to provide to Ingersoll a service she provided to others,” Ekstrom wrote. What she believes about same-sex marriage is immaterial, because the law’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation “address conduct, not beliefs.” Agreeing with the plaintiffs and the attorney general, Ekstrom asserted that “no Court has ever held that religiously motivated conduct, expressive or otherwise, trumps state discrimination law in public accommodations.” He also pointed out that Stutzman is not a minister nor is Arlene’s Flowers a religious organization. Likewise, the law does not specifically target her because of her beliefs, but is “neutral and generally applicable” to all people of all beliefs.

Ekstrom agreed that “the State’s compelling interest in combating discrimination in public accommodations is well settled” and is not superseded by an individual’s religious beliefs. As the Supreme Court wrote in the 1982 case United States v. Lee, “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption… operates to impose [the follower’s] religious faith on the [person sought to be protected by the law.]”

ADF argued in the case, as it continues to argue in the wake of the ruling that Stutzman’s religious beliefs should be catered to so long as Ingersoll and Freed could still find flowers elsewhere. ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner explained in a press release, “The two men had no problem getting the flowers they wanted. They received several offers for free flowers, and the marketplace gives them plenty of options.” Ekstrom pointed out that a rule where discriminating businesses simply refer customers to non-discriminating businesses “would, of course, defeat the purpose of combating discrimination, and would allow discrimination in public accommodations based on all protected classes, including race.” Religious justifications for racial discrimination have certainly been proffered before. “There is no slope, much less a slippery one,” Ekstrom wrote, “where ‘race’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are in the same sentence of the statute, separate by only three terms: ‘creed, color, national origin…'”

Ekstrom also rejected ADF’s arguments that a distinction could be made between the couple’s sexual orientation and the act of getting married. “The United States Supreme Court has long held that discrimination based on conduct associated with a protected characteristic constitutes discrimination on the basis of that characteristic,” he noted, referencing in particular the case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. In that case, a university student group claimed it wasn't discriminating against gay members, only against those who engaged in or supported same-sex intimacy. The Supreme Court did not find the distinction compelling.

The non-discrimination law in no way violates any constitutional principles, Ekstrom concluded, because, “For over 135 years, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that laws may prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief. In trade and commerce, and more particularly when seeking to prevent discrimination in public accommodations, the Courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative Branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even when the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”

Following the ruling, Stutzman claimed, “The government is coming after me and everything I have just because I won’t live my life the way the state says I should. I just want the freedom to live and work faithfully and according to what God says about marriage without fear of punishment.” Damages and fines in the case have not yet been determined.

The decision follows a near-identical ruling in Oregon last month against a bakery that refused a cake to a same-sex couples. The string of losses in similar cases follows back to an Iowa wedding venue, aVermont reception venue, a Colorado bakery, and a New Mexico photographer who all similarly tried to refuse services related to a same-sex commitment ceremony. All of those states have laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but there are still 29 states that have no such laws.

[h/t thinkprogress]


Wednesday, February 18, 2015



Epic fail for the state of Tennessee:

Less than one half of one percent of Tennesseans [.0023] who applied for public assistance flunked a drug test in the first six months of the state’s experiment with drug screenings for welfare recipients, according to recently released state figures.

Out of more than 16,000 applicants from the beginning of July through the end of 2014, just 37 tested positive for illegal drug use. While that amounts to roughly 13 percent of the 279 applicants who the state decided to test based on their answers to a written questionnaire about drug use, the overall rate among applicants is just 0.2 percent.

Such an infinitesimal rate of drug use among welfare applicants contrasts sharply with the state’s overall 8 percent rate of drug use. Across the country, states that implement drug tests for low-income families have found that economically vulnerable people are less likely than the general population to use drugs. Utah spent $30,000 on tests that caught just 12 drug users, for a positive rate of 0.2 percent of total benefits recipients, compared to 6 percent of all state residents who use drugs. Before a judge ruled Florida’s drug testing system was illegal, it had turned up a drug use rate of just 2 percent among public assistance users, compared to 8 percent of its total population.

Separate research has also found that the facts do not support the stigmatizing ideas about low-income Americans and drug use that motivate drug testing schemes like these. Less than 4 percent of welfare recipients have a drug abuse problem — the kind of habitual dependence on a drug that the tests are theoretically designed to root out — and the rate of non-abusive drug use among the welfare population is barely above that of comparable non-welfare families.

“Other physical and mental health problems are far more prevalent” among low-income people than substance abuse problems, social scientist and public benefits expert Harold Pollack wrote in the Washington Post, and “yet these less-moralized concerns receive much less attention from legislators or the general public.” Pollack’s research found that age is a better predictor of drug abuse than welfare participation, with men aged 18 to 24 being roughly twice as likely to have a substance abuse problem than a food stamps recipient. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have condemned dragnet drug testing for welfare recipients as ineffective, harmful, and unnecessary.

But the idea of drug testing poor folk before doling out food money and rental assistance continues to spread despite all the evidence and expert testimony against the practice. Texas lawmakers are hoping to start mandatory drug tests for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; their law would impose a three-strikes rule for drug testing, under which anyone who tested positive a third time would be permanently ineligible for the federal aid program. Maine is launching its own drug testing system for welfare early this year. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to drug test everyone who gets food stamps or jobless insurance money. Montana lawmakers have proposed a drug testing scheme this year, and El Paso County, CO has instituted a testing system.

The stubborn stickiness of the idea that drug testing low-income families is good policy reflects a broader misunderstanding about the lifestyles of the poor. In reality, people who rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet are thriftier than the average American, spending a smaller share of their budgets on eating out and entertainment.

[h/t thinkprogress] 

Roger West

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



The U.S. National Security Agency may have been hiding spy software deep in consumers’ hard drives as part of its surveillance programs, according to a Reuters report.

Russian researchers found firmware planted in hard drives from top computer manufacturers such as Toshiba, Seagate, and Western Digital. Spyware was found in some form on personal computers in 30 countries, primarily in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, according to a report published by Moscow-based security software company Kaspersky Lab, which has a track record of uncovering Western countries’ cyber espionage programs.

Targets of the spyware ran the gamut with computers belonging to government and military institutions, banks, Islamic activists, media, telecommunication companies, nuclear researchers, and energy specialists found to be infected.

The Kaspersky Lab doesn’t explicitly name who was responsible for planting the firmware but indicates the spy campaign is closely related to the NSA’s Stuxnet program used against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and discovered in 2010.

Former intelligence analysts confirmed to Reuters the NSA still values Stuxnet-like programs and has become proficient in hiding spyware deep in computers’ hard drives. The NSA has not publicly commented to the allegations.

Public concerns over government surveillance have grown worldwide, and ignited calls for reform and better privacy practices. Document leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in late 2014 revealed how the agency both knowingly and unwittingly violated privacy laws, confirming earlier reports that it collected mass amounts data from ordinary citizens rather than suspected terrorists.

International governments have also taken more precautions to prevent U.S. intelligence agencies from eavesdropping on official communications. Germany and Russia vowed to switch back to paper communications such as handwritten notes and typewriters to avoid surveillance. Other countries have responded by beefing up their own spy programs or doubling down on American tech companies operating overseas.

[h/t thinkprogress]

Roger West