Rachel Maddow: Democrats baiting GOP into unwinnable minimum wage fights – By Arturo GarciaFriday, January 31, 2014 0:04 EST

Rachel Maddow 013014 [MSNBC]

The offshoot of President Barack Obama’s unilateral decision to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Thursday, was the chance for Democrats to use their support for wage increases as a cudgel against Republicans nationwide.

“The White House and the Democrats, they have figured out a way to make this fight not about Barack Obama versus [House Speaker] John Boehner (R-OH),” Maddow said before letting out a mocking snore. “They have figured out a way to make this everybody who wants a raise versus every Republican politician who says no everywhere in the country.”

Maddow pointed out that Obama’s decision to raise contractors’ wages to a minimum of $10.10 per hour has already been followed by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who will do the same for all part-time city employees.

The issue has also impacted embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and his state’s half of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. While Christie’s appointees face mounting legal issues, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye signaled their intent to require contractors at both JFK and LaGuardia Airports to adopt the $10.10 minimum wage. Meanwhile, the New York Daily News accused Christie’s administration of“stomping on his constituents” for not requiring the same of contractors at Newark Airport.

And historically, Maddow said, putting minimum wage increases on the ballot has paid dividends for Democrats, since they both tend to pass while increasing voter turnout, which has fueled Democratic victories.

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, Chris Christie won re-election by such a huge margin — he won by 22 points,’” Maddow said. “You know what? Same margin by which he was overruled by the voters of his state on that minimum wage issue.”

Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Thursday, below.

Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt

Public to FCC: Don’t Give Up On Open Internet – – Sarah Lazare, staff writer – Thursday, January 30, 2014

A concerned public is demanding that the Federal Communications Commission refuse to bow down to a judicial blow to internet freedom dealt earlier this month.


(Photo: Reuters/Sherwin Crasto)

One million petitions backed by a coalition of over 80 organizations — includingFree PressPrometheus Radio Project, and the American Civil Liberties Union — call for the FCC to “protect the open internet” and “reassert its clear authority over our nation’s communications infrastructure.”

Petitioners say this can be accomplished by reclassifying broadband services as “telecommunications services” — a move that would subject them to regulations that protect net neutrality.

A federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Order earlier this month, siding with a challenge from telecom giant Verizon. Loss of net neutrality protections, which require that Internet Service Providers treat all online content the same, would allow corporations like AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable to block and censor internet content and tamper with traffic — giving the advantage to the highest bidders.

Critics charge this would make the internet an even more uneven playing field.

“The court’s decision to kill open Internet rules will have a detrimental impact on communities of color and other marginalized groups,” reads a statement by Media Action Grassroots Network. “It will force small organizations and businesses to compete with the biggest websites, will set a price point that many can’t afford, and expand an almost uncrossable digital divide.”

For many, that divide already exists.

“In Philadelphia, at least a third of our residents don’t have access to broadband in their homes,” said Hannah Sassaman, policy director for Media Mobilizing Project, in an interview with Common Dreams. “This lack of access already limits their abilities to tell stories for change, and to hear the voices of other community members struggling with the same issues.”

“If we lose the principle of net neutrality, poor and working people may find that their access to information and to each others’ voices is even more curtailed,” Sassaman added. “Chairman Wheeler has the power to act now to protect and expand an open internet for millions of poor and working people in America.”

“The FCC has the power to defend our right to communicate online, and to protect the public from predatory business practices from giant ISPs determined to invent new ways to charge us even more for even less,” said Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “Chairman Wheeler must take action now to reverse a decade of failed policies built on industry giveaways, and reclassify broadband so corporate gatekeepers like Verizon and Comcast don’t get to determine whose voices are heard and whose are silenced.”


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Marijuana news: Pot and the teen brain – By Noelle Crombie – January 30, 2014 at 7:40 AMw11


This morning’s marijuana news roundup comes to you from the southern Oregon city of Ashland, where I’ll be covering the first of two marijuana industry conferences this week.

A few headlines caught my eye this morning:

CNN has a story on cannabis and the teen brain. Writer Randye Hoder talks with a couple of Northwestern University medical researchers who say teens are vulnerable to marijuana’s harms. The drug, they say, can impact teens’ ability to solve problems and think critically. It’s a message, Hoder writes, that’s getting lost in “the pro-legalization fervor.”

Hoder writes:

Use of pot among adolescents, which had declined from the late 1990s through the mid-to-late 2000s, is again on the rise, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One likely reason: “The percentage of high-schoolers who see great risk from being regular marijuana users has dropped,” over time, the agency points out. 

That perception, however, is all wrong. In a study published last month, Smith and his colleagues found that teens who smoked a lot of pot had abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory — a predictor of weak academic performance and impaired everyday functioning — and that they did poorly on memory-related tasks.

Could Nevada be among the next states to legalize marijuana? Legalization advocates in that state are laying the groundwork for legalizing recreational cannabis, reports The Las Vegas Sun.
Staff writer Andrew Doughman reports:

Touting the benefits of regulating and taxing what is now an underground industry in Nevada, advocates say they’re confident they’ll have the money and votes required to pass an initiative similar to the one that Colorado voters approved in 2012.

“Based on the dynamics we’re seeing in Colorado with full adult use being legal, it seems a natural fit for Nevada,” said Joe Brezny, executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association and officer with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, the Nevada political action committee organized to get the legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot.

Two months after federal raids on marijuana businesses, The Denver Post reports that many of the operators who were apparently targeted by investigators are back in business.

Several stores raided by armed federal agents have reopened. Some cultivation warehouses that were swept clean are again filled with marijuana plants. Nobody named in the search warrants has been arrested or even publicly accused of wrongdoing. At least three of those targets say they are baffled why the feds showed up at their doors.

A couple more headlines from The Oregonian before you go:

Marijuana opponents pay for anti-pot billboards near Super Bowl
Follow me on Twitter for updates from today’s marijuana business conference. (@NoelleCrombie)

— Noelle Crombie


Super Bowl proposition gambling: It’s about more than just the game – By Zac Boyer-The Washington Times Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whether you believe it will snow at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday night or Renee Fleming will wear black gloves while singing the national anthem or blue Gatorade will be poured on the winning coach at the conclusion of the game, there’s a bet for that.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at Jan 30, 2014 10.12

As Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncosnears, the proliferation of unusual bets, known as props, available to the betting public has increased. They have brought a different dimension to betting on the game, especially for those whose hunches carry far past the outcome or the point margin.

SEE ALSO: LOVERRO: In midst of Super Bowl spectacle, the wreckage of human lives

Proposition bets can be traced back to Super Bowl XX, when, in 1986, the MGM Grand asked bettors whether William “The Refrigerator” Perry would score a touchdown in the game. The Chicago Bears and coach Mike Ditka had been using the 6-foot-2, 335-pound defensive lineman as a lead blocker on occasion during the season, and though he was unsuccessful in his first goal-line appearance in the first quarter against the New England Patriots, he ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 11:38 to play in the third quarter.

The sports book got hammered on the bet, which opened at 40-1 odds but moved to 5-1 before kickoff. The frenzy that resulted from Perry’s touchdown, and the casino’s loss, popularized the offbeat style of betting, which returned the following year and has grown ever since.

The LVH SuperBook has pioneered prop bets over the better part of the past three decades and has crafted more than 350 unique bets for Sunday’s game, including whether a team will score four consecutive times, whether Seahawks wide receiverPercy Harvin will run the ball or whether the jersey number of the first player to score a touchdown in the game is higher or lower than 79.5.

Because of Nevada gambling regulations, Las Vegas sports books aren’t able to take bets on Super Bowl periphery, including wagers tied to halftime performances or remarks by television broadcasters.

That’s where offshore sports books step in. Bovada, an online book licensed through the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory in Quebec, has posted more than 500 prop bets for Sunday, allowing people to place bets on things as simple as the temperature at kickoff or which hit single halftime performer Bruno Mars will play first or how many times Archie Manning, the father of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, will be shown on the Fox broadcast.

“Aside from that, what’s getting a lot of attention this year is, being an outdoor venue, we posted, ‘Will it snow during the game?’” said Bovada head oddsmakerPat Morrow, who spoke by telephone this week from the Caribbean island ofAntigua. “That’s been an interesting one for us, because that’s something we’ve really had to pay attention to each day with the long-term weather forecast, and as we get closer to the game, those weather forecasts become more and more accurate, so we’ve been able to raise our limit as we get closer to kickoff on Sunday and the forecasts become a little bit more reliable.”

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The Schools That Starve Students to Punish Deadbeat Parents – U.S. NEWS 01.30.14

Salt Lake City snatched 40 lunches from hungry students and threw them away because their meal cards weren’t paid up. Sadly, other schools do the same.

Picture this. School-age children with rumbling tummies move their styrofoam trays in an orderly lunch line. It’s Tuesday, and at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City that means one thing for excited youngsters: pizza day. Students fill their trays with deep-dish pepperoni slices and napa salad and head to the lunch lady for checkout.That’s when tragedy struck for about 40 of Utah’s smallest residents, according toThe Salt Lake Tribune. If a student’s lunch money account wasn’t paid up, the cafeteria workers were instructed to confiscate the child’s lunch. Because of sanitary issues the lunch couldn’t be given to another student, so it was thrown away instead, while a hungry child watched.

The child was then sent on his or her way, with a piece of fruit and a carton of milk.

The problem that the district-imposed hunger strike was meant to fix was a “large number of students” with zero or negative balances in the accounts that kids use to purchase the $2.00 lunches.  Staff began a campaign to call parents to settle up, but not all the calls had been made by lunchtime and for those kids, it was tough luck.

The Utah lunch line story has gone viral, and for good reason—it’s almost inconceivable.  In what world does this begin to make sense? Just how much could a parent owe that would warrant embarrassing and basically, starving, small children? And why would you punish a child for the transgressions of his parent?

Parents described the incident as “traumatic and humiliating” for their kids. Lunch ladies were reportedly in tears being forced carry out a directive that goes against the entire purpose of their work.

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