Tag Archives: member

Trumpcare Still Hasn’t Been Sent to the Senate

Mother Jones

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As we all know, the Republican health care bill can’t survive a Democratic filibuster, so it’s being considered via reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate. That means the bill has to obey reconciliation rules.

Normally, this is not a big problem. If some aspect of the House bill violates the rules, it gets removed in the Senate and life goes on. But what if the bill violates the prime rule of reconciliation—namely that it reduce the deficit? Then it’s dead and everyone has to start all over. This means the House has to be pretty careful that their bill does indeed reduce the deficit.

But how do they know if it reduces the deficit? Easy: the CBO scores the bill and tells them. But Paul Ryan famously rushed passage of the bill in the House before CBO had time to deliver a score, so no one knows for sure if it still reduces the deficit. Bloomberg reports on what this means:

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects….”I had no idea,” Dennis Ross of Florida, another member of the vote-counting team, said Thursday, adding that the prospect of another vote “does concern me.” GOP leaders never said publicly they were planning to hold on to the bill for two weeks or longer.

In the end, I imagine the bill will get scored as a deficit reduction and then be sent to the Senate. But the fact that Ryan is still holding onto the bill shows that he knew perfectly well how irresponsible it was to force a vote before the CBO delivers a score. In addition to being callous and malignant, the whole thing is also a massive FUBAR.

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Trumpcare Still Hasn’t Been Sent to the Senate

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An Indiana Court Just Said Women Can’t Be Jailed for Ending Their Own Pregnancies

Mother Jones

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The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday overturned the feticide conviction of a woman found guilty in the death of her child after she bought abortion-inducing drugs off the internet. Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years behind bars in 2015 after an Indiana trial court convicted her of two felonies: feticide and “neglect of a dependent.”

Patel, in her mid-30s, was managing her family’s restaurant in rural Indiana when she got pregnant. After doing research online, Patel ordered mifepristone and misoprostol (the same drugs typically prescribed for a medical abortion by a clinic) from a Hong Kong pharmacy for $72. In July 2013, Patel texted a friend, “Just lost the baby.”

But when she started experiencing severe bleeding, Patel went to the emergency room. There, her doctors called the police, who found the baby, which they estimated weighed a little over a pound, in a dumpster near Patel’s work. One of the ER physicians, who was also a member of a pro-life medical organization, left the hospital to join police in the search. About a week later, Patel was arrested and charged with feticide and neglect.

During her trial, attorneys for Indiana argued that Patel was at least 25 weeks into her pregnancy and that her fetus was not only viable but also took at least one breath before dying. They also argued that the state’s feticide law, passed in 2009 to protect pregnant women from acts of violence, could be used to criminalize pregnant women, not just third-parties. In 2015, after two years behind bars, Patel was convicted of both charges.

Patel’s attorneys, along with abortion rights advocates, vowed to overturn what they called a wrongful and contradictory conviction.

“Even assuming Indiana’s feticide law could somehow become an abortion criminalization law, many people were initially baffled by how Patel could be charged with two seemingly contradictory charges: feticide for ending a pregnancy and also child neglect for giving birth to a baby and then failing to care for it,” wrote Lynn Paltrow, the founder and executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which provided legal support to Patel’s case.

In its ruling on Friday, the Appeals Court noted the contradiction, calling the outcome “absurd,” but found that the state’s feticide statute doesn’t require a dead fetus, despite the common definition of the word. Instead, the law just requires that a person terminates the pregnancy.

But the court did overturn the feticide conviction, ruling that the statute wasn’t meant to be applied to pregnant women themselves. The court also ruled that Patel’s class A felony charge should be bumped down to a class D felony. The case will go to a trial court for resentencing.

Jill E. Adams, a lawyer and the chief strategist for the University of California-Berkeley Law School’s new Self-Induced Abortion Legal Team, which also gave legal support to Patel, told Mother Jones that Patel does not plan to challenge the new felony charge.

“The SIA Legal Team is pleased the court recognized that feticide laws are intended to protect, not prosecute, pregnant women,” she wrote in an email. “Women don’t need to be stigmatized and sentenced; instead, they need safe, affordable access to provider-directed and self-directed health care.”

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An Indiana Court Just Said Women Can’t Be Jailed for Ending Their Own Pregnancies

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The Congressional Black Caucus Just Issued a Passionate Call for Gun Control

Mother Jones

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Two weeks ago, a group of House Democrats led a 26-hour sit-in, after Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) peacefully occupied the House floor to force a vote on two pieces of gun control legislation that the GOP had refused to consider. Congress returned to Washington this week just as three firearms-related tragedies rocked the nation: The police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night. Friday afternoon, members of the Congressional Black Caucus renewed calls for the GOP to pass gun control legislation.

“We don’t need to leave the Hill this week, or any week, without assuring the American people that we understand the problem of police misconduct in America. We understand the murders of innocent black Americans. We get it,” said Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), chair of the caucus. “We understand the problems faced by law enforcement officers, most of whom put on the uniform every day and serve and protect our communities. Republicans, what on earth? Why are you recoiling and not giving us a debate on gun violence?”

Other members of Congress reacted earlier in the day with additional calls for peace and a solution on gun control. Rep. John Lewis, another member of the Congressional Black Caucus who marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to demand voting rights, reacted to Thursday’s police deaths in Dallas on Twitter:

Rep. Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown, Connecticut, where the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place in December 2012, wrote:

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The Congressional Black Caucus Just Issued a Passionate Call for Gun Control

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Today’s Epic Solar Eclipse Captured In Beautiful Photos

Mother Jones

This morning, Europe and parts of Africa and Asia experienced a rare solar eclipse. The last time such an event of this significance took place was back in 1999. That this eclipse also happened to fall on the spring equinox was an even more of a unique phenomenon that last occurred in 1662. Despite early reports predicting that heavy clouds would block a proper glimpse, eager residents, tourists, and astronomers gathered across the continent to witness the eclipse. Here are some of the images that were captured:

Sarajevo, Bosnia Amel Emric/AP

Svalbard, Norway Haakon Mosvold Larsen/AP

Greenwich Observatory, London Rex Features/AP

Skopje, Macedonia Boris Grdanoski/AP

Those in the higher Arctic regions were lucky enough to experience a total solar eclipse. But residents in the Faroe Islands—previously touted as one of the more impressive locations to view the event—were reportedly disappointed by the thick clouds, according to the Guardian. Berlin, on the other hand, boasted clear skies.

And to complete the occasion, here’s British Member of the European Parliament Roger Helmer, who used the event to drop in some apparent climate denial. (Helmer has previously asserted that “the relationship between global temperature and atmospheric Co2 levels is hugely open to question.”)

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Today’s Epic Solar Eclipse Captured In Beautiful Photos

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Go Green, Win $400 for Holiday Shopping

Sign up for Planet Green’s recycling program, and you’ll automatically be entered to win a $350 Amazon gift card just in time for holiday shopping. Photo: Amazon

If you’re looking to score some extra cash for holiday shopping, why not try reminding friends to recycle their e-waste?

In an effort to raise awareness for keeping old electronics out of landfills, Planet Green Recycle is running a sweepstakes for anyone to enter and win a $350 Amazon gift card and a $50 Planet Green gift card just in time for the holiday season. When you sign up, you’ll automatically be entered in the sweepstakes.

The Planet Green recycling program, which accepts inkjet cartridges and small electronics like cellphones, iPods, tablets and eBook readers, is run from a unique URL — allowing participants to directly track their impact.

For every box of 20 accepted items each member sends in, Planet Green offers payouts to their charity of choice, including schools, nonprofits, sports teams and Scouts troops.

During the run of the sweepstakes, any current member — or anyone who signs up before Nov. 30 — can share the charitable e-waste recycling solution with friends and supporters. For every friend you refer to the sweepstakes page, you’ll be entered to win $500 for your chosen charity.

The member (which can be an individual, business or community group) with the most unique entries will score the donation.

Ready to get started? Head to the sweepstakes page to sign up for the holiday gift cards. After you sign up, share the opportunity on Facebook and Twitter to gather enough entries to win the $500 charitable donation.

The sweepstakes ends on Nov. 30, so act quickly for your chance to win!


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Go Green, Win $400 for Holiday Shopping

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Seattle adopts plan for going carbon neutral — but will pot growers get in the way?

Seattle adopts plan for going carbon neutral — but will pot growers get in the way?

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Seattle’s climate ambitions are thiiiis big.

Seattle has set itself an 86-page to-do list to help it reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The city council on Monday voted unanimously to adopt the 2013 Seattle Climate Action Plan [PDF], which outlines a detailed process designed to achieve the heady goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero in less than 40 years.

The council originally set its carbon-neutrality goal in 2011. Following work by consultants and staff, the city now has a plan laying out how that goal can be turned into reality. Next comes the hard part: actually doing all the climate-friendly stuff.

“While I’m pleased that Council adopted the Plan, we know the real work is just beginning,” said Jill Simmons, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability & Environment.

From an explainer piece published last month by The Seattle Times:

The plan will almost certainly be expensive. It calls for new funding to improve and expand bus service, to build the infrastructure to make it safer to walk or bike around, and to build out the region’s light-rail system, all to reduce the approximately 40 percent of greenhouse gases that comes from cars and trucks.

The plan also calls for making energy use more visible to consumers through smart meters and energy audits that could improve the largest and least efficient commercial and multifamily buildings. The city also could require energy-use disclosures when houses or apartments are rented or sold.

There is not yet a cost estimate, but ideas to pay for the plan include a 1.5 percent motor-vehicle excise tax, a renewed Bridging the Gap levy and other local funding that would be less regressive than the failed $60 car-tab fees.

Simmons’ office will finalize an implementation plan by October, identifying the specific roles that each of the city’s departments will play in reaching carbon neutrality.

But Washington state’s recent legalization of dope could hamper the city’s climate plan — not because its officials are too stoned to do the challenging jobs entrusted to them, but because indoor pot growers are massive energy hogs. From KUOW radio:

The City Council is also looking at zoning rules to allow indoor marijuana growing in Seattle. [Seattle City Council Member Mike] O’Brien said for him, that’s not compatible with addressing climate change.

“The idea that we’re going to take agriculture that traditionally grows outside using sunlight for energy and put that inside buildings and use electricity or other fuels to fuel growing — that creates a big problem for me,” he said.

A study last year in the Journal of Energy Policy found growing marijuana indoors currently sucks up the same amount of energy as two million average American homes. It also found that the industry generates greenhouse gases equivalent to that of three million cars.

O’Brien wants growers to strive for carbon neutrality, although he doesn’t know what that would look like at this point. One way to reduce energy consumption would be to grow marijuana outdoors.

Take heed, Seattle stoners: Help your city go green and carbon neutral by insisting on outdoor bud.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Seattle adopts plan for going carbon neutral — but will pot growers get in the way?

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