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Jeb Riding the Moral Minority Train: No Duty to Serve Gays

This post originally appeared on RingofFireRadio.com

The Jeb Bush garbage fire keeps getting hotter. First it was the Iraq War fiasco, now he thinks that Christians should be able to discriminate against homosexuals. When asked by Christian Network’s David Brody if he would discriminate against gay people, Bush said:

“Yes, absolutely if it’s based on a religious belief.”

He’s obviously pandering to a crowd. Will this disaster ever end?

Click here to watch the interview of Jeb Bush with the Christian Network’s David Brody.

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Three Oil Company Projects Cost Taxpayers Almost $2 Billion in Subsidies

This post originally appeared on RingofFireRadio.com

It’s no secret that the fossil fuel industry and the government are horribly intertwined, but a recent investigation by The Guardian reveals just how codependent their relationship really is and just now much it’s costing American taxpayers.

The Guardian examined three specific projects — one each run by Shell, ExxonMobil, and Marathon Petroleum — and found that all three corporations benefited from huge tax subsidies granted, of course, “by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.”

Specifically, the investigation found that:

  • A proposed Shell petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania is in line for $1.6 billion in-state subsidy, according to a deal struck in 2012 when the company made an annual profit of $26.8 billion.
  • ExxonMobil’s upgrades to its Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana are benefiting from $119 million of state subsidy, with the support starting in 2011, when the company made a $41 billion profit.
  • A jobs subsidy scheme worth $78 million to Marathon Petroleum in Ohio began in 2011, when the company made $2.4 billion in profit.

Overall, these three projects cost taxpayers nearly $2 billion. There is no reason the government should be giving these hugely successful corporations such huge tax breaks, especially when considering the amount of environmental damage oil production and consumption causes.

“Subsidies to fossil fuel companies are completely inappropriate in this day and age,” Oil Change International’s executive director Stephen Kretzmann. “Climate science is clear that the vast majority of existing reserves will have to stay in the ground, yet our government spends many tens of billions of our tax dollars – every year – making it more profitable for the fossil fuel industry to produce even more.”

Unfortunately for Kretzmann — and the Earth, the politicians doling out these gigantic tax subsidies deny climate change is real and man-made, or at least they publicly say they are. Admitting that it’s real and problem would definitely have an effect on campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

“Big oil, gas, and coal have huge influence on politicians and governments and they get that influence the old fashioned way — they buy it,” said Kretzmann. “Through campaign finance, lobbying, advertising, and super [political action committee] spending, the industry has many ways to influence candidates and government officials seeking re-election.”

“Every single well, pipeline, refinery, coal and gas plant in the country is heavily subsidized. Big Fossil’s lobbyists have done their jobs well for the last century.”

Click here to read The Guardian’s full investigation.

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Pope Francis: Powerful People Don’t Want Peace Because They Profit from War

While speaking at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis condemned both the arms industry and those who profit off war, the Catholic Herald reported.

Speaking as part of The Peace Factory, an Italian initiative to “promote peace, tolerance and inclusion among the multi-ethnic, socially-diverse and differently-abled children attending Italian elementary schools,” one of the 7,000-plus children in attendance asked the Pope why powerful people don’t help schools.

Francis responded by saying the question should really be, “Why do many powerful people not want peace?”

“Because they live off war — the arms industry,” he said. “Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms and sell them to one country for them to use against another country … It’s the industry of death, the greed that harms us all, the desire to have more money.”

“When we see that everything revolves around money,” the Pope continued, “the economic system revolves around money and not around the person, men and women, but money — so much is sacrificed and war is waged in order to defend the money.

The Pope was also asked by the children about the world’s’ prison systems and if he believed kids should be held for prolonged periods of time in juvenile detention facilities.

“No, I do not…” said Francis, adding that people who make mistakes need to be helped by others “with education, with love, with being close.” He also said that prison is often the easy way out for society because it allows us “to forget about those who suffer.”

Watch video of Pope Francis from The Peace Factory event.

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Walmart is still getting Its Bottled Water from Drought-Ravaged California Towns

This post originally appeared on RingofFireRadio.com

An investigation by CBS13 revealed that Walmart is using the Sacramento, Californiamunicipal water supply as a source for its bottled water, joining companies like Starbucks, Crystal Geyser, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi who were found to be using the already-low water supply in California for their bottled-water products.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed an executive order ordering a 25 percent reduction in urban water use across California, The Guardian reported. However, Brown has yet to impose regulations on industry.

“It’s only logical that as the governor has asked all Californians to reduce their water consumption that he holds extractive industries like bottled water to the same standard, yet he hasn’t asked anything of them,” said Food & Water Watch’s California director Adam Scow.

“At the end of the day, bottling the public’s water for private profit is not in the public interest,” said Scow.

Walmart draws water for its products from municipal supplies, like Sacramento’s, as a means to keep costs down, so, of course, this drought concerns the retail conglomerate.

“We share those concerns and are tracking it closely,” a Walmart spokesperson told The Guardian. “Our commitment to sustainability includes efforts to minimize water use in our facilities. We have and continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers who count on us across California.”

Starbucks recently announced that it would be stopping production of its bottled water, Ethos, in California, shifting its operations to Pennsylvania over the next six months. But asThinkProgress pointed out, while it isn’t nearly as dire as the situation in California, 27 of Pennsylvania’s counties are currently under drought watches.

As climate change continues to cause extreme weather patterns across the country, more and more droughts can be expected. Bottled water is an irresponsible use of what little resources some areas have left.

The motivation driving these companies is purely financial. Corporations like Walmart are simply charging customers way more for the same water they could be getting straight out of their own taps. Gov. Brown needs to place restrictions on this industry the way he has the state’s individual residents — and soon.

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Bernie Sanders Destroys Rand Paul’s Ridiculous Philosophy on Healthcare

This post originally appeared on RingofFireRadio.com

Doctors are slaves. That’s what Senator Rand Paul thinks the result of providing universal healthcare would be. Sanders gives it right back to the the Kentucky politician by asking the panel of healthcare professionals before them whether they felt that any of Mr. Paul’s concerns were issues they were concerned with.

The answer came back as a resounding “No.”

Watch the exchange here.

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Criminal Charges Filed, Freddie Gray’s Death Ruled a Homicide

This post originally appeared on RingofFireRadio.com

Maryland State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced in a press conference this morning that the death of Freddie Gray has been ruled a homicide. Gray died as a result of injuries he received during his transportation by Baltimore City police after he was illegally arrested. The weapon that was also found on Gray after he was detained by police was not illegal, nor was it a switchblade as previous reports had claimed.

The specific charges for the officers involved are:

Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr.
-Second degree depraved heart murder
-Manslaughter  (involuntary)
-Assault/second degree
-Manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence)
-Manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence)
-Misconduct in office

Officer William G. Porter
-Manslaughter (involuntary)
-Assault/second degree
-Misconduct in office

Lt. Brian W. Rice
-Manslaughter (involuntary)
-Assault/second degree (2 counts)
-Misconduct in office (2 counts)
-False imprisonment

Officers Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller
-Assault/second degree (2 counts for each officer)
-Misconduct in office (2 counts for each officer)
-False imprisonment

Sgt. Alicia D. White
-Manslaughter (involuntary)
-Assault/second  degree
-Misconduct in office

Following Gray’s death, protests covered the city calling for justice for Freddie. Amid the protests, rioting erupted in parts of Baltimore and officers imposed a curfew to try and restore order.

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Bernie Sanders: Billionaires Own Democracy

This post originally appeared on RingofFireRadio.com

Progressive liberal champion Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is angry about the control that money has on American politics, reported Talking Points Memo.

Sanders has been quite vocal about the tragedy of Citizens United and how that decision has titled the odds the favor of corporations and wealthy individuals. He recently criticized the Clinton Foundation for being a money machine in its own right, but Sanders remains focused on the big picture.

“It’s not just about Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. It is about a political system today that is dominated by big money,” Sanders said on ABC News. “It’s about the Koch brothers being prepared to spend $900 million in the coming election.”

Although the Clinton Foundation has created some concern among many far-left liberals as being another money network similar to conservative groups, there are the super-wealthy people that do the most harm, said Sanders.

“So do I have concerns about the Clinton Foundation and that money? I do,” he said. “But I am concerned about Sheldon Adelson and his billions. I’m concerned about the Koch brothers and their billions. We’re looking at a system where our democracy is being owned by a handful of billionaires.”

Some reports note that the Clinton Foundation hasn’t been completely transparent about how its money moves. According to The Boston Globe, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, part of the Clinton Foundation, neglected to disclose foreign donor information to the State Department for review. It took a leak to reveal how much money Clinton has received from foreign donors.

The high-profile HSBC leak that revealed many instance of bank malfeasance showed that Clinton received $81 million “from wealthy international donors who were clients of HSBC’s controversial Swiss bank.”

What’s most concerning is that Sanders doesn’t consider the Clinton Foundation to be one of the most elite heavy-hitters of the PAC money network. That title belongs to Adelson and the Kochs. We have a frightening road ahead in 2016.

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Innocent Man Spent 28 Years in Jail after FBI used Botched Dog Hair Analysis as Evidence

In 1978, a Washington DC cab driver was robbed and murdered outside his home. Santae Tribble, 17-years old at the time, was arrested. FBI forensic experts said that a strand of hair found near the crime scene was a DNA match to Tribble, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

From Fusion:

He would go on to serve 28 years until the truth came out: an independent analysis found that the FBI testimony was flawed. Not a single hair that was found on the scene matched his DNA. After attorneys brought the evidence to the courts, Tribble was exonerated of the crime, though he’d already been released from prison. “The Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that he did not commit the crimes he was convicted of at trial,” a judge wrote in the certificate of innocence released at the time, in 2012.

It gets worse. Not only did none of the hairs presented as evidence in trial belonged to Tribble, the private lab found that one of the hairs actually came from a dog.

Given that the DNA analysis was done in the 70s, it’s not surprising that it wasn’t 100 percent accurate. You would think, however, that the FBI would at least be able to tell the difference between human and animal hair. And, if it couldn’t, it would not send a man to jail for life based faulty evidence.

Cases like Tribble’s are likely to keep surfacing now that the FBI has admitted flawed testimony was used in more than 95 percent of trials during a two-decade period. According to the Washington Post, “the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those 14 have been executed or died in prison.”

These errors by the FBI possibly sent hundreds or thousands of innocent people to jail. The fact that they happened, combined with the fact that they went on for over 20 years, proves just how messed up our current legal system is.

 
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FBI Admits it gave ‘Flawed Testimony’ in Nearly All Trials for Over 20 Years

The Justice Department and the FBI admitted that almost all examiners in an FBI forensic unit gave inaccurate testimony in nearly every trial it was involved in for more than 20 years, theWashington Post reported.

From The Post:

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

The admission of error means that parties involved in cases in 46 states and Washington DC “are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals.”

The FBI and Justice Department said in a statement that they “are committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance. The Department and the FBI are also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis testimony, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”

The federal investigation started in 2012 after The Post “reported that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people since at least the 1970s, typically for murder, rape and other violent crimes nationwide.”

The investigation confirmed that FBI experts had testified to the the “near-certainty” of “‘matches’ of crime-scene hairs to defendants,” despite the fact that there is “no accepted research on how often hair from different people may appear the same.”

“These finding are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a former prosecutor, “not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law.”

Click here to read the full findings at the Washington Post.

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Generic Drugs Just Got More Dangerous

The FDA was supposed to issue new rules last year to make generic prescription drugs safer for American consumers. But so far, they’ve failed to take any action, which is leaving patients at risk and drug makers with a Get Out of Jail Free card.

Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with attorney Howard Nations.

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