Archive for lawsuit

"What Obama needs is a Rob Ford, Francois Hollande moment."

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La Cucaracha blame ObamaVia Lalo Alcaraz

Another snark-filled guest post by the one, the only Will Durst, who's having a little fun with the GOP's Obama Derangement Syndrome. Take it away, Will:

STUCK ON STUCK

“Just following the will of the people.” That’s been the GOP rationalization for accomplishing absolutely nothing for five and a half years. Doesn’t matter what the issue is. Immigration. Jobs. Infrastructure. Climate change. Banking reform. The proliferation of substandard dental schools in Nebraska.

According to them, the people want… zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And to mask their inaction, Republicans have coordinated a feeding frenzy that would make rabid hyenas jealous.

Something about Obama drives them crazier than chocolate banana fritters with raspberry sprinkles in a bento box. Maybe because he’s the smartest guy in the room and not the least bit shy about sharing that opinion. Maybe he’s the ultimate anti- Bush. Or there’s something about him that looks different. Extremely different. Could be the ears.

What it boils down to is… “Open Season on Obama.” The memos have circulated. The strategy is conspicuous. To derail any possible presidential accomplishment by stalling progress and tossing a continuous slew of dastardly insults onto and at his person. And the mud is flying faster than fingers in a steno pool. Different circus. Same clowns.

John Boehner plans to sue the President. For what? Not even he knows, but you can be sure, the term “smarty pants” will be bandied about. He did drop some tidbit about objecting to the President changing the employer mandate to Obama Care, but that can’t be the source of his irritation, since the GOP insisted on it. It would be like slapping some other family’s child for obeying you.

Dick Cheney called him the Worst President of his lifetime. Which is quite a coincidence, since many argue Dick Cheney was the worst president of Obama’s lifetime. Obama should actually take solace from this charge, since Dick Cheney has been pretty much wrong about pretty much everything since at least 1999.

Sarah Palin called for the POTUS to be impeached. And Sarah Palin demanding punishment of someone for not properly fulfilling an office is another of those “pot with the kettle and the color black” situations the Republicans are so renown. The needle on the irony meter just crazy spun then melted.

Rick Perry accused the President of orchestrating the conspiracy responsible for a deluge of Central American kids crossing the border. And he said it while wearing his new studious looking glasses, so you know he’s serious. Also, the fact he correctly pronounced the word “conspiracy,” is a huge upgrade.

These attacks are perfectly timed to kick the President while he’s down. Right now his approval rating has sunk lower than scorpion- infested, throw- pillows filled with mold spores. Like a tray of hickory smoked baby back ribs at a PETA convention. Tacks in a bath. What Obama needs is a Rob Ford, Francois Hollande moment. A video of him naked, smoking crack with Lindsay Lohan, to go viral.

Republicans even complain Obama is a do- nothing President. With Mitch McConnell stalling every advance in the Senate and the House and Supreme Court lined up against him, it’s a miracle they’re able to get Flag Day commemorations through Congress.

Makes a person worry this political paralysis may be the new normal and we’ll never be able to affect positive change ever again. Instead of the status quo, we got the status no. America has gotten stuck… on stuck.

Copyright ©2014, Will Durst. Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about the new documentary film “3 Still Standing,” and a calendar guide to personal appearances including his new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG.”

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Another CA city sues over voting rights law

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voter suppression voting rights

Voting rights, schmoting rights. Who needs 'em in this post-racial day and age? We've clearly evolved, says the Supreme Court. Says Republicans. Says anyone who doesn't want Democrats to have voting rights. After all, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat.

It's the 'Murican way!

the american way

Unless, of course, you get called out. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the city of Bellflower, right here in my home state of California, is getting sued. Why? Voting rights are being violated... allegedly:

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and two law firms filed a Superior Court complaint Monday afternoon, on behalf of three minority Bellflower residents alleging the city is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act.

The act seeks to ensure that minorities have an opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.  The suit alleges that Bellflower's practice of electing council members citywide instead of by geographic districts has hindered Latino and African American candidates.

The plaintiffs said they have found patterns of racially polarized voting in the southeast Los Angeles County city of about 77,000. They want the city to switch to by-district elections to give voters in strongly minority neighborhoods an opportunity to elect at least one representative to the City Council.

What? Restricting the rights of not-white voters? In this day and age of GOP outreach? Don't be ridiculous...

It's not like Bellflower's population is 66% Latino and African American, but the council members are monochromatically pale. Come on.

Bellflower's population is 52% Latino and 14% African American, according to the city's website.  All five council members are white.

Oh.

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Overnight: Lauren Mayer: Sue Him

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Sue Him


Lauren Mayer is a singer/songwriter/pianist who writes comedy songs about everything from Supreme Court decisions to the Kardashians. She proudly supports leftist causes including equal pay, reproductive choice, fair minimum wage, addressing climate change, and marriage equality.
Note: Lauren's CD is now available!! Hear clips or purchase CD/downloads at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/laurenmayer8. It is also on iTunes and will soon be on Amazon!

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Decades of research show that teachers are not the problem. #Vergara got it wrong.

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Vergara
I’ve covered the Vergara trial pretty extensively, thanks to and with the help of my contacts who attended. But unfortunately, there's a sad ending: The judge sided with the billionaires over the public school teachers.

For those of us who paid attention to the trial, it was pretty clear that this was never about how to improve education. If it were, they would have focused on trivial little things that actually matter to, you know, student outcomes and achievement.

Nowhere in the decision does the judge mention important matters like poverty, segregation, unequal funding or the consequences of high-stakes testing. The decision actually reads like like it was written by, you should excuse the expression, a Michelle Rhee-ish "reformer."

What’s amazing is that there was evidence presented by the best education experts that said the “reformers” are wrong. Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond and Harvard’s Susan Moore Johnson are considered the best in the field of education. The judge completely ignored what they had to say. Berkeley’s Jesse Rothstein completely refuted Chetty and Kane, noting that using student test scores to judge teachers just doesn’t work.

AFT president Randi Weingarten really got it right. Here's her this statement:

"It's surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children.  We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.”

BUT... there are some rays of hope. First, this was only a superior court judge. Which means it will be appealed. And this is a pretty darned thin decision without much reasoning. Why, it's almost as if the judge said “I don’t like teachers unions, so I’m going to side with the other guys.”

Even one ed reformer pointed out that there are problems with this decision. So let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that this will be overturned on appeal.

Second, CA Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson came out against the decision. He’s doing a fantastic job, which is why hedge funds and ed deformers are funding his challenger, Marshall Tuck, a guy who has never taught.

"All children deserve great teachers. Attracting, training, and nurturing talented and dedicated educators are among the most important tasks facing every school district, tasks that require the right mix of tools, resources, and expertise. Today's ruling may inadvertently make this critical work even more challenging than it already is.

"While I have no direct jurisdiction over the statutes challenged in this case, I am always ready to assist the Legislature and Governor in their work to provide high-quality teachers for all of our students. Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution."

For those of us who really care about crazy things like equity and preserving a public education system that serves all kids, regardless of their zip code, the take away should be this: the privatizers will do anything to create headlines that pits teachers against students.

That is sad.  We have to continue to show that teachers and students are on the same side. When you attack a teacher, you hurt a student. I know that, having taught in public schools for years. Attacks like Vergara must stop.

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Big Pharma accused of fraudulently pushing painkillers to "a population of addicts"

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it's all about the money Big Pharma

Big Pharma is pushing deadly drugs and addicting my home state of California. Allegedly. Painkillers like OxyContin are involved in more than 16,000 deaths every year. Traffic accidents are now taking a back seat to meds when it comes to causes of deaths.  Per an article in the Los Angeles Times, two counties are now suing drugmakers for violating California laws against false advertising, unfair business practices and creating a public nuisance.

Big Pharma encourages patients, including veterans and the elderly, to request painkillers when they have everyday headaches, arthritis and back pain. Allegedly. The reason the headline includes the phrase "population of addicts" is that heroin use has also increased as a result of all the prescriptions, because it not only creates a similar high, but it's also cheaper, per the lawsuit.

The drug manufacturers say the narcotics they push are safer than they are.

not funny hahaha no

The L.A. Times:

Two California counties sued five of the world's largest narcotics manufacturers on Wednesday, accusing the companies of causing the nation's prescription drug epidemic by waging a "campaign of deception" aimed at boosting sales of potent painkillers such as OxyContin. [...] The companies employed tactics similar to those used by the tobacco industry to "conceal their deceptive marketing and conspiratorial behavior," the suit states.

One such tactic involved the use of leading physicians — known within the companies as "key opinion leaders" — to spread the message to their peers, it says. The drug makers allegedly recruited and paid those physicians to give speeches and write policy papers.

Another marketing ploy was to create and co-opt patient advocacy organizations and medical specialty societies, the suit says. The companies used these front groups to promote narcotic painkillers and to write treatment guidelines that expanded the market, it says.

It was the drug makers' "marketing — and not any medical breakthrough — that rationalized prescribing opioids for chronic pain and opened the floodgates of opioid use and abuse," the suit says.

it's all about the money 2

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One for the good guys! Family wins nearly $3 million in fracking case.

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good guys bad guys animated gif

Finally, a victory for the good guys. That's the good news. The bad news is that the good guys got sick as hell from fracking and drilling done near their home. Climate change is one of the horrible outcomes of allowing more fossil fuel "exploration" and consumption (and corporate profit), but when a family suffers severe health problems as a result, it hits home. It humanizes the issue.

Let's hope more good guys win enough lawsuits to deprive frackers and Big Oil and Gas of some of that essential growth hormone called money. Let's hope more good guys win enough lawsuits to open the eyes of more Americans who are either apathetic, uninformed, misinformed, or too ideologically driven to care. Let's hope that more corporate toxins like Aruba Petroleum suffer legal defeats.

This time, at least, the good guys with lawyers beat the bad guys with lawyers.

Via the Los Angeles Times:

In a landmark legal victory that centered on fracking, a middle-class north Texas ranching family won nearly $3 million from a big natural gas company whose drilling, they contend, caused years of sickness, killed pets and livestock, and forced them out of their home for months. [...]

Robert and Lisa Parr filed suit against Aruba Petroleum Inc. in 2011, contending that its operations near their land had contaminated the air and harmed their health... "I am just overwhelmed," Lisa Parr said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I feel like I am just this little bitty girl, this little family who just beat the biggest, most powerful industry in the world."

Of course, Aruba claims they did nothing wrong. Oh really?

Lisa, a stay-at-home mom, said that in November 2008 she started feeling sick to her stomach and suffered from blinding headaches. She brushed it off as the flu, but she didn't get better. She got worse.

Soon, she said, she developed a mysterious rash all over her body and open sores that never healed. Sometimes she had trouble standing and became disoriented. Once the rashes and sores became so severe that emergency room doctors had to pack her body in ice.

Her daughter, then in first grade, had horrible nosebleeds as she slept and would awaken soaked in blood.

Her husband began to have memory problems... Their calves were born with birth defects, and their pets began to die.

Nah, Aruba's off the hook, everything was hunky dory.

Eight doctors were stymied by the symptoms. Finally a specialist tested the air for the presence of toxic chemicals found in petroleum products. That was when the Parr's doctor told them to move the heck out of the area "or they "would spend more time and money on hospitalizations, chemotherapy and a mortician."

But Aruba Petroleum Inc. did everything by the book, see. It was all so very safe and legal. So they say.

Yet somehow Lisa ended up with 20 toxic chemicals in her bloodstream.

Yes, the good guys won this time. Or did they?

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First evidence that ALEC effort to rebrand as being legislator-driven is “sham”

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ALEC general

ALEC is a topic I write about often. Allow me to refresh your memory:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

Now that you have some background, here is some good reporting by Madison.com that should hopefully inspire you to vote (Koch-owned) Republicans out in November and get others to do the same. It involves Wisconsin Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa who "voted on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills":

At the same meeting, she sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group, according to documents released Thursday following an open records lawsuit that cost state taxpayers $15,000 to settle.

Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, which filed the lawsuit, said the more than 100 pages of documents provide the first evidence that an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is “just a sham.”

“This demonstrates that ALEC is really a lobbyist-driven organization,” Fischer said. “The lobbyists are the ones calling the shots. The legislators are just following along.”

That's what we in the bloggy biz call a big oopsie. And it's about time someone went very public about how legislators are nothing more than puppets with people like the Koch brothers pulling the strings. I mean other than Harry Reid:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In one email, Christie Herrera, vice president of policy for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank with a registered lobbyist, wrote to Vukmir and three other legislators from other states thanking them for sponsoring a resolution opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and coaching them on what to say.

More details here.

Kochtopus

Speaking of legal issues, here are a couple of good Progressive lawyers, should you ever need one: Barry Scheck and Seth Price. We have a complete list of those we like to occasionally recommend at the bottom of our right sidebar.

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