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Michigan Lawmaker Poised To Resurrect Plan That Could Rig The Electoral College For Republicans

Source: Think Progress

Michigan’s legislative session is almost over, but an outgoing state lawmaker may still revive a voting bill that could rig the electoral college for Republicans.

Rep. Pete Lund (R) told Bridge Magazine that he plans to introduce a bill during the lame-duck session that would change the way electoral votes are counted. The new plan would make it more likely that a Republican could win the presidency, even though, as Bridge reports, “overall state voting patterns trend Democratic.” Twice before, Lund introduced bills that would achieve the Republican skew by changing how the electoral college works. Rather than having all 16 of the state’s electoral votes for president go to the candidate who gets the most state votes, as the system does now, the these proposals would give each congressional district one presidential vote, plus two extras for the winner.

The problem, as Bridge explains, is that “(b)ecause of the way the state’s congressional districts are drawn, Republicans dominate the vast majority of districts” despite state voting patterns that favor Democrats. In other words, the plan would magnify the impact of congressional gerrymandering designed to maximize Republican wins in Congress so that it would also shift the outcome of the presidential election.

This isn’t just a Michigan initiative. Over the past few years, several Republican lawmakers have coordinated behind a plan that would rig the Electoral College by shifting to plans like Michigan’s in several key blue states, while maintaining the current rules in red states.

Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/11/13/3592146/michigan-lawmaker-poised-to-resurrect-plan-that-could-rig-the-electoral-college-for-republicans/

Julien Blanc: petition urges UK to deny visa to controversial US ‘pick-up artist’

Source: The Guardian

Thousands of people have called on the Home Office to deny a visa to a controversial US “pick-up artist” who holds seminars that critics say teach men sexually abusive and racist tricks to attract women.

Julien Blanc was forced to cut short his Australian tour last week after his visa was cancelled in the wake of protests against his seminars. Police in Victoria confirmed that Blanc and his assistant, who had planned to stay in the country until December, had left.

Blanc – who tours the world carrying out seminars and $2,000 (£1,250) bootcamps – is due to arrive in the UK for a series of events, but a petition on campaigning website Change.org calling for a ban has gathered more than 5,500 signatures since it was launched on Saturday.


The letter to the Home Office on Change.org states: “Please help British women stand with the women of Australia, the women of America, and women everywhere, and do not let the UK play host to events where men are being taught how to violate and harass women under the guise of ‘dating advice’.

“To allow this man into the UK legitimises sexual assault and predation, and sends a message that women are playthings or objects without agency. Australia has already taken a stand by revoking his visa, let us demonstrate that we feel the same way about his message.”

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/10/julien-blanc-petition-urges-uk-deny-visa-pick-up-artist

Via Buzzfeed:

This image was allegedly posted to Instagram by Blanc with the caption: “May as well be a checklist… #HowToMakeHerStay”.

Former Gitmo Detainee: ‘It Is Time to Prosecute Those Responsible for My Torture’

Source: The Nation

“We tortured some folks,” President Obama said recently.

I was one of those folks, and today I am at the United Nations to confront the government responsible for torturing me. It is the first time that the UN Committee Against Torture has heard directly from one of the 779 men and boys detained at Guantánamo since 2002. The committee members are in Geneva to review the US government’s compliance with the global ban on torture, and I am here to remind them that not a single person who designed, authorized, executed or oversaw the torture of Gitmo detainees has been prosecuted.

In 2001, I was sold to the US military for a $3,000 bounty. I was 19 years old and would not see my family again until I was twenty-five. I found out later that the US government knew of my innocence as early as 2002, yet I was detained for years after that and repeatedly tortured during that time. I was subjected to electric shocks, stress positions, simulated drowning and endless beatings.

My story is not unique; I was one of hundreds sold to the United States by local authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. My torture was not unusual; many were subjected to the same brutal tactics. Nor was my innocence unusual—of the nearly 800 people who have been imprisoned at Guantánamo, only eight have been convicted by military commissions. Of the 148 men currently at Guantánamo, seventy-nine have been cleared for release, most of them for years.


The last time the US government was reviewed by the UN Committee Against Torture was in 2006, a few months before I was released from Guantánamo. At that time, the committee told the United States that it must close Guantánamo in order to be in compliance with the Convention Against Torture. But the convention not only prohibits torture in all circumstances, it demands that signatories prosecute the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. In the eight years since that review, and despite Obama’s admission that torture took place at Guantánamo and other US offshore prisons, the US government has yet to prosecute a single official who approved or implemented these brutal practices. Not only is the United States in violation of the treaty, its failure to prosecute has set a worldwide standard of condoning torture. The UN Committee Against Torture should demand that President Obama prosecute those responsible for my torture and renew its call for the closure of Guantánamo. So should the American people.

Read more: http://www.thenation.com/article/190433/former-gitmo-detainee-it-time-prosecute-those-responsible-my-torture

I was wrong about the Second Amendment: Why my view of guns totally changed

Source: Salon

Noah Pozner did nothing to change my mind, except die. Before he died, I believed a few sensible gun laws could save children like Noah Pozner. After he died, after he and his Sandy Hook classmates were mowed down by a man with a gun, I changed my mind.

After he died, I realized an old custom had to die with him, so a nobler one could take its place. Before Noah Pozner died, I thought there was nothing wrong with the Second Amendment a little common sense couldn’t fix. After he died, I’ve come to believe “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” no longer promotes our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but daily threatens them. How free are we when more people are shot and killed each year in America than populate the towns in which many of us live? How free are we when a backpack that unfolds into a bulletproof covering is a must-have item for schoolchildren?

“A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

While I concede that a well-regulated militia might be necessary to the security of a free state, that role is now ably served by our military, professionally trained and highly disciplined, drawn from the ranks of our families and friends, from whom we have nothing to fear. We no longer need Minutemen. The British have not surrounded Concord. This is not “Independence Day” and we’re not under alien attack. I cannot imagine any circumstance in which our government would urge us to arm ourselves in defense of our country. Our nation has outgrown its need for an armed citizenry. The disadvantages of widespread gun ownership far outweigh any perceived advantage. Ask the parents of Noah Pozner. Ask African-American residents of Ferguson, Missouri. Ask what America’s love affair with guns has meant to them.

The merit of a position can be gauged by the temperament of its supporters, and these days the NRA reminds me of the folks who packed the courtroom of the Scopes monkey trial, fighting to preserve a worldview no thoughtful person espoused. This worship of guns grows more ridiculous, more difficult to sustain, and they know it, hence their theatrics, their parading through Home Depot and Target, rifles slung over shoulders. Defending themselves, they say. From what, from whom? I have whiled away many an hour at Home Depots and Targets and never once come under attack.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/11/13/i_was_wrong_about_the_second_amendment_why_my_view_of_guns_totally_changed/

Walmart’s ‘Made In USA’ Televisions Are Allegedly Made In China

Source: Think Progress

Element Electronics boasts of being the only American-owned and American-assembled television company. Flashy red-white-and-blue packaging helps it do business with Walmart as part of the retailer’s quarter-trillion-dollar “Made in USA” initiative. But according to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint filed Tuesday, the company isn’t making anything in America after all.

Instead, the complaint alleges, the Chinese-made TVs arrive to Element’s South Carolina assembly line in boxes adorned with a waving American flag and the slogan “America Matters” on the front and the phrase “assembled in the USA” on top. Element’s employees unscrew a plastic panel, install a Chinese-made motherboard, close the panel, and return the TVs to their patriotic packaging so that they can be shipped out to Walmart, Target, Meijer, Sam’s Club, and QVC. That depiction of Element’s assembly process comes from a July article in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal article is the key evidence in the FTC complaint, which was filed by a non-partisan non-profit group called the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). AAM’s blog had previously touted Element Electronics as an example of manufacturing jobs returning to the U.S., but in Tuesday’s complaint it asks the FTC for an injunction barring Element from saying that their televisions are assembled stateside.

A product cannot be advertised as assembled in America, according to FTC rules, unless it undergoes a “substantial transformation” on U.S. soil. Furthermore, the AAM complaint notes, the FTC rules offer a specific example of an assembly process that would not qualify — and that example “is strikingly similar to the facts as they relate to Element’s ‘assembly’ process.” The example describes a computer built from foreign-made parts that “then are put together in a simple ‘screwdriver’ operation in the U.S.,” reminiscent of what the Journal found upon visiting Element’s South Carolina facility.

Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/11/12/3591517/element-electronics-walmart-made-in-america/

National Geographic Photo of the Day: Kallur Lighthouse

Photograph by Grégoire Sieuw, National Geographic Your Shot

From a northern promontory on the Faroe island of Kalsoy, the Kallur lighthouse boasts a panoramic view of the sea and neighboring islands. About a hundred people inhabit four villages on remote Kalsoy, one of 18 islands making up the North Atlantic archipelago.


Kalsoy (Danish: Kalsø) is an island in the north-east of the Faroe Islands between Eysturoy and Kunoy.

The western coast has dramatically steep cliffs for the full length of the island, whereas idyllic valleys on the eastern slopes protect the four tiny settlements, Húsar, Mikladalur, Syðradalur and Trøllanes, whose combined populations total less than 150. They are connected by a partly surfaced road which passes through four dark tunnels. The island's thin shape and road-tunnels give it the nickname "the flute". There is a lighthouse at Kallur, the northern tip of Kalsoy.


If You Give a Mouse an iPhone

Nancy Grace sued for continuing to describe man cleared by police a ‘textbook serial killer’

Source: Raw Story


The photo came from Seibert’s personal Facebook page, and police aren’t sure why it was found on the woman’s phone.

Police notified Grace that same month that her broadcasts about the case were false, but she continued to show his photo on the air.

Seibert filed a defamation lawsuit against Grace seeking more than $100,000 in damages.


The lawsuit points out that Grace has made “outrageous and defamatory” about other cases and suspects during her broadcasts and notes that she had been reprimanded in court for unethical conduct during her nine years as a prosecutor.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/nancy-grace-sued-for-continuing-to-describe-man-cleared-by-police-a-textbook-serial-killer/

National Geographic Photo of the Day: Temple Dawn

Photograph by Andy Ferrington, National Geographic Your Shot

“Burma (Myanmar) is one of those special countries that will never fail to inspire and excite even the most well-traveled photographers,” writes Your Shot member Andy Ferrington. “There is nothing more awe inspiring than watching sunrise from the top of one of the 2,000-plus temples in the central plain in Bagan. This was my third consecutive 5 a.m. start to climb yet another temple in the cold, dark morning in bare feet. I opted for a super telephoto shot, as I wanted to really pull the punch of those warm sunrise colors. As I was tracking the flight path of this solo balloon, I estimated that it would pass between a perfect gap in the temples.”


‘Choking Girls All Around The World’ Seminar Ends In Australia Amid Protests

Source: Think Progress

Self-proclaimed “date coach” Julien Blanc has cancelled his seminar tour in Australia and left the country after officials revoked his visa in light of online protests that highlighted his longtime promotion of abusive behavior against women.

In recent months, Blanc, a representative of global dating help company Real Social Dynamics, attained a following of men desperate for companionship through his “Ph.D. in female attraction” program. The dating strategy Blanc touts in online videos and in-person sessions centered on the use of force and disregard of consent as a means of gaining a woman’s attention.

The Australia leg of Blanc’s world tour — which would have lasted until December — included a seminar on a boat in Melbourne. On Friday, Australian officials confirmed Blanc and his assistant’s overnight departure during a news conference.

“The matter was raised with us and we had it investigated and this fellow looked at,” Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said, according to The Guardian. “This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women and that’s just something, those are values abhorred in this country.”

Blanc took things further when he put his words into action through his social media campaign, #ChokingGirlsAllAroundTheWorld, a compilation of graphic photos that show him choking women. A viral YouTube video also follows Blanc as he wrings a Japanese woman’s neck and pushes it toward his pelvic area during a walk through the streets of Tokyo.

Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/11/07/3590366/julien-blanc/
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