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2018-01-23T17:21:56.963Z
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Denver, Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop has received a lot of attention as the Supreme Court weighs whether the bakery should have legally been allowed to refuse to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, but an Oregon bakery’s case is still underway. Last week, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that Sweetcakes by Melissa did, in fact, violate state law when it refused to serve a same-sex couple and upheld a $135,000 fine against the owners, Melissa and Aaron Klein.

The Sweetcakes case unfolded in early 2013, just a year after the Masterpiece Cakeshop refusal, but the details of the cases are nearly identical. Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer sought a cake for their impending nuptials, and when owner Aaron Klein refused to sell them a wedding cake for their ceremony –before any discussion about the design of the cake could even take place — the couple filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). In 2015, an administrative law judge recommended a fine of $135,000 for the Kleins in damages. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Kleins must pay the fine.

“Sweetcakes provides a service — making wedding cakes — to heterosexual couples who intend to wed, but it denies the service to same-sex couples who likewise intend to wed,” they wrote in their decision. There was no way to interpret that as anything but discrimination “on account of” the couple’s sexual orientation.

Like Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop,...

On Monday, the New York Times published an absurd piece about President Donald Trump’s war on health and environmental regulations, ignoring the terrible human cost of Trump’s effort while claiming it is boosting business investment.

The front-page story is so egregious that one of the the paper’s leading columnists, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, eviscerated it in a series of tweets on Tuesday morning.

The original piece claims that U.S. businesses are supposedly investing more in factories and equipment because Trump is rolling back existing regulations and promising to minimize new regulations.

“There is no evidence — none — that regulation actually deters investment,” Krugman tweeted, linking to Monday’s piece.

Krugman, who won the 2008 Nobel prize for his work in international economics, also tweeted out, “Internationally, the US is low-tax and low regulation compared with other advanced economies. We’re also relatively low investment,” along with this chart:

So how is the article able to quote so many business people claiming that regulations have undermined investment then? “There are, however, lots of reasons for businesses to SAY that regs they don’t like deter investment,” explains Krugman, adding, “this is especially true when they want to curry favor with an administration known to abuse its power to reward flattery and punish criticism.”

And while the original 1,900-word article characterizes regulations as bad for business, it fails to cite a single negative impact from efforts to protect Americans from polluted air...

A witness who recently testified before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s federal grand jury claimed in an interview with the New York Post’s Page Six this week that the jurors looked like they were all from “a Black Lives Matter rally.”

“The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally. Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley,” the witness told Post columnist Richard Johnson, who previously served as a Miss Universe pageant judge during Trump’s time at the helm. “…There was only one white male in the room, and he was a prosecutor.”

The witness claimed that, out of the 20 jurors on the panel, 11 were Black. Two, they said, were wearing “peace T-shirts.”

“That room isn’t a room where POTUS gets a fair shake,” they added, insinuating that more white jurors were needed in order for the process to be considered credible.

Although the Post interview did not name the witness or reveal their political leanings, the witness was clearly sympathetic toward Trump and likely is connected to the White House or the Trump campaign.

It begins: Republican Congressmen introduce resolution calling for Mueller to resign Fox News is going to be...

Donald Trump’s handpicked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pick — the current acting director of the agency — said on Tuesday that he wants the Department of Justice to personally charge elected officials who do not comply with the administration’s immigration enforcement requests with federal crimes.

On Fox News, Tom Homan expressed outrage that a new law in state of California prevents the federal government from using state and local government resources to carry out immigration enforcement. The new law also limits how much state and local officials have to comply with federal immigration detention requests prior to conviction — making California the first “sanctuary state.”

After promising to send more ICE resources to California, Homan urged the Department of Justice to sue those who do not comply with his agency’s requests and to hold officials criminally responsible.

“I think we charge some of these sanctuary citizens with violating federal law. I think if they knowingly harbor and shield a known illegal alien, a public safety threat, in a jail and won’t give us access,” he said, the DOJ should charge the cities and politicians. “They need to hold these politicians personally accountable,” he explained,

“We’ve got to take the sanctuary cities on, we’ve got to take them to court, and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”

Watch:

Homan might want to do some legal research.  The Supreme Court has expressly said in multiple court cases that the federal government cannot commandeer...

President Donald Trump is taking credit for what a new study is calling the safest year on record for commercial aviation. The president, however, is refusing to take responsibility for what his mine safety agency is saying was a year where almost twice as many coal mine workers died on the job than the final year of the Obama administration.

On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted: “Since taking office, I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news — it was just reported that there were zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”

Over the past 20 years, the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, thanks to “safety-driven efforts” by international aviation organizations and the aviation industry, according to the Aviation Safety Network, an independent research group. Nowhere in the analysis did the researchers mention efforts by the Trump administration as a reason for the airline safety improvement.

In the coal mining sector, data from the Trump administration’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the federal government’s mine safety agency, show coal mining deaths nearly doubled in 2017. But unlike the aviation statistics, Trump isn’t taking any personal responsibility for the coal mining deaths. What’s more, he tapped a former coal executive with a record of safety violations to head MSHA.

The death of a coal miner in Fayette County, West Virginia, on December 29 brought the total number of U.S. coal mining fatalities in 2017 to 15, according to MSHA’s website....

On Christmas, President Trump tweeted that he’d be heading “back to work” the next day. He then played golf at one of his golf courses in Florida on seven consecutive days.

During the first White House news briefing of the year on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to defend Trump’s golf habit. Though Trump repeatedly criticized President Obama for golfing while he was in office and vowed that he was “not going to have time to go play golf” on the campaign trail, he’s golfed more than three times as much as Obama did to this point in his term.

“Can you tell me the single biggest thing the president has accomplished for the American people during his time on the golf course?” a reporter asked her.

Sanders replied: “I think it would certainly be developing deeper relationships with members of Congress.” (Trump played on Monday with professional golfers Taylor and Fred Funk.)

The reporter pushed back, noting that “if so much has been accomplished during this time — there seems to be a transparency issue with his time on the golf course.”

“We don’t always get confirmation of what he’s doing there despite a lot of requests,” the reporter continued, going on to allude to the fact that team Trump has used trucks and newly planted trees to block reporters from being able to see Trump golf. (A video Taylor Funk posted to YouTube showing some of his...

A week of protests in across Iran have resulted it at least a dozen deaths and mass arrests, and the administration of President Donald Trump has responded by threatening the country with more sanctions.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Tuesday that the United States is considering even more sanctions against Iran if the government tries to stifle the protests. She added that Trump “stands with the Iranian people.”

But sanctions are the wrong approach, said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, professor of political science at Syracuse University. He added that Trump’s response to the protest is seen as “opportunistic” by the Iranian people.

“The fact is, there’s not much the U.S. can do to change the facts on the ground in Iran, so resorting to sanctions and other moves to punish Iran is a convenient tool,” he said.

“Frankly, it’s quite ironic, and I don’t think it’s lost on people that Trump includes Iran among the countries for his travel ban, indeed, it’s the country that is most affected by the travel ban, and then goes and talks about ‘the great Iranian people,’ — come on. These two do not go hand in hand,” added Boroujerdi.

Still, President Trump took to Twitter to condemn the Iranian government, posting multiple messages that seemed to support the protesters and called for regime change in Iran:

On Friday, the Department of the Interior officially repealed rules created by the Obama administration to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, signaling an end to a contentious process that has drawn legal challenges from the oil and gas industry.

Hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — is a kind of oil and gas extraction that requires companies to inject large volumes of chemical and sand-laced water into rock formations at high pressure, breaking the rocks and exposing oil and gas within. It’s a controversial process that has been found to increase the likelihood of earthquakes around drill and injection sites, and can pose a threat to groundwater. Babies born near fracking sites are also more likely to have  significantly low birth weights, which could lead to health problems later in life.

The Obama-era rules, which were finalized in 2015 but never went into effect due to pending litigation, would have required companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, as well as forced them to cover storage ponds where companies keep fracking fluids. The rules also would have set more stringent standards on the construction of fracking wells and wastewater management.

The Department of the Interior said that repealing the rules would save “up to $9,690 per well or approximately $14 million to $34 million per year” in industry compliance costs while doing away with duplicative federal regulations. Opponents of the rules argued that state and tribal regulations already did enough to protect the...

A record number of openly queer and transgender Texans are seeking office across the state in 2018, part of a growing response to national and state-wide policies targeting the LGBTQ community.

According to OutSmart, a queer Houston publication, at least 35 openly LGBTQ Texas candidates are running for public office in 2018. That’s approximately twice as many as have ever run during any election cycle in Texas history. While six of the candidates are incumbents, the rest are newcomers. At least two are running for governor, with others eyeing seats at a national level in Congress. Some are vying for positions in the state Supreme Court or the Texas Legislature.

The upsurge follows a year of tension within the state over the rights of its large queer and transgender community. At the national level, President Trump’s administration has sought to roll back LGBTQ worker protections and bar transgender soldiers from the military. Those efforts have been welcomed by some state governments, including Texas.

The second-largest state in population size, Texas is consistently ranked as one of the most hostile states for LGBTQ people. Last spring, controversy over a proposed “bathroom bill” overshadowed other policy efforts in the state legislature, eventually prompting a special session over the summer. The bill would have required Texans to use the bathroom correlating to their “biological sex” and was met with heated opposition from all sides of the political spectrum. Business leaders and Texas oil executives actively lobbied against the measure, arguing that it would...

Many public universities don’t keep track of the more than 1,000 college student suicides that occur every year — a troubling reality as campus concealed carry policies spread throughout the country.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that only 43 of the 100 largest public universities included in its survey said they kept track of suicides. That data could help universities understand whether policies allowing students to carry concealed firearms on campus are associated with a rise in suicides, since experts say there isn’t enough research on the issue.

Although the Department of Education asks colleges to gather data on student deaths, it doesn’t require schools to track suicides specifically. According to the AP, it can be a challenge to confirm cause of death and schools worry about legal liability when families intend to keep the cause of death private. Some schools are also concerned that the data could harm a school’s reputation.

The lack of campus data is alarming, particularly because the national suicide rate by firearms is rising, a 2014 University of California, Davis study found. In 2012, nearly 64 percent of deaths from firearm violence were suicides, according to the report. A growing body of research also shows that when someone dies by suicide, an “outbreak” or “cluster” of suicides can result. This is especially true when a suicide receives prominent media coverage, glorifying the person’s death or painting it as inevitable.

College students are particularly vulnerable to the threat of suicide....

Less than a week after allegations of sexual harassment were made against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), a member of Congress came forward to detail her own harassment experience while working on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) appeared on MSNBC’s Meet The Press Daily Monday and said her then-colleague Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) tried to forcibly kiss her while they were in an elevator together.

I was in an elevator and then-Congressman Bob Filner tried to pin me to the door of the elevator and kiss me and I pushed him away and, of course, some years later he left congress he became the mayor of San Diego, and then he had to leave that position for harassing younger women,” DeGette said. “I was his colleague, he couldn’t take action against me. And believe you me, I never got into an elevator with him again.”

DeGette referred to Filner’s very public history of sexual harassment after his 20-year tenure in Congress while he was mayor of San Diego.

During his time as mayor, dozens of women, veterans in particular, came forward and recounted instances of Filner groping, kissing, and making a number of unwanted advances.

“He went to dinners, asked women out to dinners, grabbed breasts, buttocks. The full gamut. Everything that is complete violation of what we...

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ plan to ring in the holiday season by making reporters look uncomfortable largely went off without a hitch during Monday’s press briefing — with one notable exception.

After opening the briefing with a Q&A session, courtesy of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Sanders dove into her usual canned press statement by noting that it was the “last press briefing before the Thanksgiving holiday.” As such, she said, she would be sharing “a few things” that she was thankful for — and she expected each reporter with a question to do the same.

“Obviously, you probably know…that I’m clearly very thankful for all of you here in the room. I think that goes without saying,” she joked, before listing off a few things she was actually thankful for, including law enforcement, firemen and first responders, and the military.

For some reason, most reporters played along. Several reporters proceeded to share a laundry list of things for which they, too, were thankful — like their children, the military, policemen and women, faith and religion, and spouses who finally said yes to their proposal on the fourth try.

Then there was Cecilia Vega, ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent.

“I’m thankful for the First Amendment,” Vega said when called on, before launching immediately into a question about the official White House stance on the Roy Moore controversy. The statement drew audible “ooh”s from the rest of the press corps.

Sanders responded quickly, “I think we all are.”

“Yeah, we’re part of it though,” American Urban Radio Networks...

The House and Senate tax plans, rolled out in October and earlier in November, vary slightly in their details, but in general, they revolve around the same central goal: to permanently reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent.

That goal won’t come cheap.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, cutting the tax rate for corporations to 20 percent would cost the federal government up to $1.5 trillion dollars. White House officials claim this is nothing to worry about, because these tax cuts will eventually pay for themselves through economic growth.

“We think we can drive a lot of business back to America, we can drive jobs back to America, we can make ourselves very competitive,” White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told CNBC in late September. “We think we can pay for the entire tax cut through growth over the cycle.”

Trump’s tax plan sounds too good to be true. It is. Magic dust will not pay for the president's tax cut.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also recently argued that the tax plan would “not only…pay for itself, but it will pay down debt” as well.

The latest analysis from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, however, finds that the House bill will...

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump tapped out a series of angry Twitter posts attacking black athletes and celebrities. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The president has gone after LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Jemele Hill, and countless others — all in the past few months.

Notice something? There’s no mistaking the fact that the subject of Trump’s ire are all prominent African Americans. It’s no coincidence that Trump makes a sport of attacking black celebrities, especially those who have been outspoken against his policies or behavior in office.

But others have noticed this disturbing trend as well; in fact, there’s emerging evidence that the attacks are turning off the people they’re designed to rally to Trump’s side — his white, conservative base.

On Sunday, the president expressed his frustration with LaVar Ball, who told ESPN in a Friday interview that Trump didn’t do much to secure the release of his son LiAngelo from Chinese authorities following the younger Ball’s arrest on shoplifting charges earlier this month. The prickly president lashed out, saying in a tweet, “I should have left them in jail!”

Trump says he now regrets not leaving three college basketball players in a Chinese prison The president continues...

It has been 51 days since Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire. Since then, states have been grappling with the reality that nine million children may soon lose critical health care coverage.

While CHIP has historically received support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, this year, Congress has allowed disagreements over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to take precedence over reauthorizing funding for the program. Things are now especially dire for Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and North Carolina — all of which are expected to run out of CHIP funds by next month. Thirty-one states will likely exhaust their funding by March 2018.

“We’re in an unprecedented situation,” Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, told ThinkProgress. Referring to Congress’ delay in funding the program, Alker said, “We’ve never seen anything like this happen before.”

Created in 1997, CHIP provides low-cost health care coverage to millions of children whose parents’ income exceeds Medicaid qualification levels, but only amount up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The program, which also helps pregnant parents, is funded through a block grant that provides states with a set amount of dollars that they then match with their own funds. CHIP helped lower the rate of uninsured children from 14 percent in 1997 to 4.5 percent in 2015, providing much-needed...

On Friday, several men on Detroit’s west side attacked a black transgender woman, shooting her four times in the back and left arm. She has two bullets lodged near her spine, according to Fox 2 Detroit, but she is in stable condition. Recent reports indicate that this violence is a common threat for black trans women.

Monday is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to memorialize the transgender people who were killed due to transphobia and discriminatory circumstances that put transgender people’s lives at greater risk. So far this year, at least 25 transgender people have been killed. The victims were mostly women of color, who were killed by men they knew, police officers, or assailants who are still unknown.

According to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Trans People of Color Coalition report released last week, 84 percent of the victims were people of color and 80 percent were women. Out of the 102 transgender people killed since 2013, 87 were trans people of color, and there are likely more deaths than HRC could document, given the fact that many media outlets and police departments do not always provide an accurate account of the person’s gender.

In 2013, when HRC first began counting these deaths, they found 19 cases. In 2014, there was a dip in the number of deaths HRC was aware of, but the number of deaths each year has steadily increased since then. Most of the deaths were from gunshot wounds. Since 2013, 55 victims were killed in...

Multiple women say that one of the New York Times’ top White House reporters has used his powerful position to sexually harass women. It raises the prospect that some of the most important stories around sexual assault, the treatment of women, and the 2016 presidential campaign were shaped by someone with a history of predatory behavior.

Glenn Thrush, known for his tough questions and dogged reporting of the Trump campaign and administration, was suspended by the New York Times on Monday after a Vox investigation revealed his history of predatory behavior against young journalists while working at Politico. The author of the piece, Vox Editor Laura McGann, recalled a particular disturbing interaction she had with Thrush at a bar in Virginia while they worked together at Politico about five years ago.

He is the latest newsroom leader to be accused of inappropriate behavior following the New York Times expose of Harvey Weinstein, which prompted a wave of sexual abuse allegations against famous men in a variety of fields. Others include former Vox Media Editorial Director and Eater Founder Lockhart Steele, who was fired from the company and a pair of top NPR heads including its former Board Chairman Roger LaMay and Senior Vice President of News Michael Oreskes.

The Vox article pointed out the hypocrisy of Thrush’s behavior. He reportedly wrote a recent Facebook post linking to a story about sexual misconduct allegations made against another top political journalist Mark Halperin, who was also one of the most influential...

A freshman Florida congressman, whose first piece of legislation would have abolished the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, a group formed in early 2016 to bring Republicans and Democrats together to advance meaningful climate change legislation.

In February, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), introduced H.R. 861, which would “terminate” the EPA on December 31, 2018. Nine months later, the same Republican lawmaker is now a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus.

From complaining about EPA regulations to questioning the scientific consensus on climate change, Gaetz fits easily into the mold of the modern anti-environment Republican lawmaker.

In June, Gaetz also applauded Trump’s announcement that he planned to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, a stance that makes the Florida lawmaker’s decision to join the Climate Solutions Caucus even more bizarre. The United States is the largest historic emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, and thus bears much of the responsibility for the current warming that scientists are already measuring.

Climate science denier Darrell Issa joins House climate change caucus This is a stunning reversal.

The House Climate Solutions Caucus includes an equal number of Democrats and Republicans and currently stands at 62 members. If a Democrat wants to join the caucus,...

Alabama Media Group, which publishes the three largest newspapers in the state, responded this week to threats by Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, calling his accusations of defamation and libel a “grandstanding attempt to frighten us, silence us, make us back off.”

In a letter on Friday published by the Washington Post, an attorney for the Alabama Media Group told Moore’s attorney that they will neither retract their coverage of the sexual assault accusations against Moore nor cease further reporting into him, his wife, and their Foundation for Moral Law. Michelle Holmes, vice president of content for the organization, told ThinkProgress Monday that she sees Moore’s threats as an attempt to suppress the media.

“This is a grandstanding attempt to frighten us, silence us, make us back off, and that’s not what we do,” she said. “What we do is report the news, and we’ll continue to that.”

Holmes said that as of Monday, Moore and his attorney, Trenton Garmon, have not responded to the letter.

“We will stand behind our reporting,” Holmes said. “We will continue to report this uncowed by his threats.”

Last week, Garmon sent a letter rife with grammatical mistakes to an attorney for the Alabama Media Group, accusing the reporters with the organization of “defamation, libel & slander, fraud, malice, suppression, wantonness, conspiracy, and negligence.” Garmon threatens...

Yet another military official pushed back on President Donald Trump’s nuclear ambitions this weekend, saying he would resist any “illegal” decision to launch nuclear weapons.

Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command or STRATCOM, told an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada on Saturday that he would likely offer resistance to an order from Trump to launch a nuclear strike.

“I think some people think we’re stupid,” Hyten said, referring to public perceptions about STRATCOM, which is responsible for national nuclear weapons and missile defense. “We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?”

He continued, “I provide advice to the President. He’ll tell me what to do, and if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m gonna say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ Guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.”

Hyten’s comments were seemingly spurred by a Senate hearing last week during which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed concern regarding Trump’s authority over the country’s nuclear program as tensions with North Korea rise. Prior to the meeting, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) indicated he was worried Trump had placed the United States on “the path to World War III” with...