Sifting Through The Swamp - Earlier this year, we rolled out our Weekly Primers — 500 word briefings for Prime subscribers on the topics TPM...
1 hour ago
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court gave its blessing to local governments that want to open their public meetings with religious prayer.
It was a victory for the town board of Greece, N.Y., which stressed that it was fighting not just for Christian prayer but for the right of all people [to] express their views regardless of their faith. In a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the Court ruled against the Jewish and atheist plaintiffs, who argued that the practice violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Less than four months later, the town of Greece has adopted an invocation policy that excludes non-religious citizens and potentially shuts out faiths that aren't well-established in the town, according to a top secular group.
In [his decision], Justice Anthony Kennedy described public prayer as a "larger exercise in civic recognition" designed to "represent rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers." ...
Justice Elena Kagan warned that the decision in Greece v. Galloway could lead to discrimination against minority faiths. In her dissent for the minority, she accused the conservative justices of "blindness" to the "essential meaning of the religious worship in Greece's town hall, along with its capacity to exclude and divide."
The Supreme Court's decision Monday to allow Christian prayers at city council and other public meetings divided justices not only ideologically, but along religious lines as well.
The five justices in majority are Catholics, and they agreed that an opening prayer at a public government meeting, delivered by a Christian pastor, brings the town together. ...
Three of the four dissenters are Jewish: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The fourth, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was raised as a Catholic, but she is said to be not a regular church goer.
Justice Elena Kagan faulted the majority for approving an official policy of "religious favoritism." In her dissent, she said the majority might view the matter differently had a "mostly Muslim town" opened its session with Muslim prayers or if a Jewish community invited a rabbi every month.
|Dwarf Fortress, Ironhand graphics pack.|
Here, the snow has melted, though the river remains frozen.
|A quick stop at The Luxurious Risk|
|The Ecrueagle market (Ironhand graphics set). Yeah, we finally made it there.|
|A food store in Ecrueagle. Note the clothing stores to the north and west. And that's a tavern - where all the noise is coming from - to the south.|
Since Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed on Monday that Democrats have launched a "war on whites," he has continued to explain how he thinks Democrats inject race into political issues.
Brooks initially made the remarks on Laura Ingraham's radio show.
"This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else," he told Ingraham, referring specifically to the crisis at the border.
Brooks stood by his characterization and told AL.com Monday that Democrats have been "attacking whites based on skin color." ...
On Tuesday, Brooks told USA Today that "if you look at current federal law, there is only one skin color that you can lawfully discriminate against. That’s Caucasians — whites."
Considering National Review’s sordid race history, one can’t gainsay that point. Nor can one deny that the political right’s embrace of ignorance—what conservative writer Patrick Ruffini once called the “Joe-the-Plumberization of the GOP”—is also a motivating factor in this attack; as Peter Sinclair notes, Cooke’s demonization of Tyson is reminiscent “of recent remarks by Jeb Bush that scientists and those that believe in what science says, are ‘sanctimonious.’”
Of course, there’s another pretty influential motivating factor.
For years, National Review has been heavily dependent on advertising from the fossil fuel industry; I can still recall reading the publication in the 1990s and 2000s and being stunned by the number of coal, oil and natural-gas industry ads throughout the magazine. “Doesn’t McDonald’s advertise in National Review? Or VO5 shampoo?” I’d think to myself. Flip through recent editions of National Review and you’ll be graced by Chevron’s obnoxious “We Agree” ads. ...
Tyson is saying things that the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want to hear, like climate scientist Michael E. Mann before him. So naturally, those dependent on the fossil fuel industry have to butcher him.
Nerds love science fiction, in part because we love the promise of the future, a promise of Star Trek abundance and material prosperity for everyone. We look at the past, at centuries that included slavery and child labor and infant mortality and Inquisitions and the lack of female suffrage, and we think, we can do better than that. We can progress.
That’s why we like Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Because we believe that civilization is going somewhere, and that if the future isn’t better than the past, then we’re just wasting our time on this planet.
In addition to protecting Americans in Erbil and Baghdad, the president said he had authorized airstrikes, if necessary, to break the siege on Mount Sinjar, where tens of thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority group closely allied with the Kurds, have sought refuge. ...
Administration officials said on Thursday that the crisis on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq had forced their hand. Some 40 children have already died from the heat and dehydration, according to Unicef, while as many as 40,000 people have been sheltering in the bare mountains without food, water or access to supplies. ...
For Mr. Obama, the suffering of the refugees on the mountainside appeared to be a tipping point. He spoke in harrowing terms about their dire circumstances, saying thousands of people were “hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs.”
“They’re without food, they’re without water,” he said. “People are starving. And children are dying of thirst. These innocent families are faced with a horrible choice: descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.”
In a statement, the Satanic Temple said that it will use the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision to exempt its believers from state-mandated informed consent laws that require women considering abortions to read pro-life material. ...
Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.
Spokesperson Lucien Greaves said that the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision bolsters their case. “While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling,” he said, “the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, which in fact they are not.”
The Satanic Temple set up a website where women seeking an abortion can print out a letter for her healthcare provider explaining why she is exempt from informed consent mandates.
|My empire (the green circles) in Distant Worlds: Universe|
|Our colony at Sukurru - completely surrounded by Haakonish Industries|
|Two of my construction ships repairing a fleet - but a pirate vessel is repairing the planet-buster|
Indeed, even when companies boast that they tie executive compensation to company performance, the country’s largest companies routinely game those systems to ensure they get their bonuses and payouts, such as setting targets so low as to be meaningless or fluffing up their reported profits. In one example, Walmart US CEO William Simon was only supposed to get a $1.5 million bonus last year if net sales grew by 2 percent, but he got it anyway when sales only grew by 1.8 percent because the company calculated “adjusted” sales at the necessary rate. Worse, out of the highest-paid CEOs over the past 20 years, nearly four in ten were fired, caught committing fraud, or oversaw a company bailout. Incompetence doesn’t stand in the way of a big payday.
There’s even evidence that paying chief executives lavishly can backfire. Shareholders at the companies that pay their CEOs the most get the worst results, with an average shareholder loss of $1.4 billion. That’s because exorbitant pay breeds overconfidence, leading to bad decisions about weak performance.
None of these findings have kept CEO pay in check. Median chief executive pay jumped above eight figures for the first time last year, hitting $10.5 million. The average pay package was $15.2 million, a 21.7 percent increase since 2010. Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, actually fell during that period, and the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay was 295.9-to-1 last year. Over the last 30 years, chief executive pay has risen 127 times faster than worker pay despite the fact that workers’ productivity has kept increasing.