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Some people are just too cruel and disgusting for words. A political agenda provides no excuse for reprehensible behavior, even if there are conspiracy theories floating around in those people's heads. Dismissing and mocking a family's grief over the loss of a loved one is about as low as it gets.

According to The Guardian:

The family of a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre has applied to trademark her name in an attempt to stop others from misusing it on social media.

Victoria Soto was a 27-year-old first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who authorities have said hid students and tried to shield others from the gunman who killed 20 children and six women. Eleven students in her classroom survived.

Jillian Soto [Victoria's sister] says people have set up fake social media accounts using her sister’s name, many of which promote conspiracy theories about the massacre, and some of which are used to harass her and other family members.

So called Sandy Hook "truthers" claim the government staged or faked the shootings in order to justify and bolster support for stricter gun control laws. They frequently set up phony social media accounts using the teacher’s name to promote their conspiracy theories.

The family is also concerned that the misuse of Victoria’s name makes it harder for people to find links to the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, which raises money for scholarships for aspiring educators.

They hope that trademark protection will help speed up the process for shutting down these unauthorized social media accounts and other abuses. Currently, every time an abusive or unauthorized social media account appears, they have to fill out a form and send it to the social media company. The company then conducts an investigation and determines whether the account violates the company’s policies and should be removed.

The family applied for the trademark protection on Monday in the hopes of expediting that process. If the trademark is granted, they hope to be able to say, "Look they can’t use this name, it has to come down right now.”

I personally hope they are successful and wish them luck.


Jeb Bush, the man who would be king president, has so many skeletons in his closet that I can't imagine that he'll actually run. This is just one more reason why it is unlikely. In an interview with Think Progress, Michael Schiavo and his attorney at the time, George Felos remind us of how far the former Florida governor is willing to go to impose his own personal agendas on us all, the law and courts be damned.

More from the interview below the squiggle.

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Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 08:03 AM PDT

'Nuff Said

by SphericalXS

Yelena Serovais is to be the first Russian woman on the International Space Station. She is also the fourth Russian woman in space.  Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space way back in 1963, twenty years before Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

So at a press conference, what was she asked about? Her make-up. When Serova ignored that question, attention moved to her hair. At which point Serova gave the response this deserved:

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About 150 activists blocked a busy Newark intersection this morning in the second straight day of protesting against Newark Public Schools' controversial school overhaul plan.

The protesters, including students, parents and community activists, camped out at the intersection of Raymond Boulevard and Broad Street, prompting city police to divert south bound traffic on Broad Street.

Today's protest, which drew activists from as far away as Philadelphia and New York City, followed a demonstration against of [sic] Newark Public Schools with about 200 students on Tuesday at Military Park.

The students are demanding the halt of One Newark, a plan that involves expanding charter schools, relocating students and staff, and changing leadership in existing schools. They have also asked for the the resignation of Superintendent Cami Anderson, a town hall with Gov. Chris Christie in Newark and for a locally elected governing body to run the school system. The school district has operated under state governance since 1993.
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Courtesy of
Once again, the First Amendment appears to be under attack by a court system whose duty it is to protect our constitutional rights.

In the name of promoting public health, the American Medical Association has been advising doctors to ask their patients about firearms and "educate patients to the dangers of firearms to children." But many doctors in Florida have been hesitant about giving this medical advice due to a Florida law that became known as the "physician gag rule" because it punishes doctors for talking about guns.

Many of the provisions of this law were earlier deemed unconstitutional and struck down by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. But now, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has overturned that lower court decision and has upheld the law in its entirety (Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida).

More below the fold.

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Tue Jun 24, 2014 at 07:30 AM PDT

Comply or Die

by SphericalXS

Law enforcement has once again killed an innocent victim. John Wrana Jr. was a ninety-five year old resident of a nursing home who refused to comply with the wishes of the police (and nursing home staff) that he allow himself to be transported to a hospital. He paid for his insolence with his life.

If this were an isolated incident, it would still be a tragedy. If there were dozens of similar incidents when law enforcement responding to disturbances where no laws were broken, or to minor infractions, either killed or seriously injured people involved or bystanders, it would go beyond tragedy and become a critical call for reform. So, what should our response be to the hundreds of such incidents that have occurred over the last several years? Dozens of people have been killed. These incidents have become such an epidemic in this country within law enforcement, that it seems obvious to me that the problem is institutional. It is a travesty that we have let it get to this point.

This diary could go on forever discussing multiple incidents. Instead, I'll review only one incident (the case of Roy Middleton) below the squiggle because I think this particular incident perfectly illustrates the point I want to make. It's not the incident itself that makes this point, but the response by law enforcement after the incident was over.

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According to The Advocate,'s lawyers have received a cease-and-desist letter from state of Louisiana officials over a billboard that criticizes Governor Bobby Jindal for not expanding Medicaid in his state under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The billboard is part of a campaign started just days ago targeting republicans over Obamacare Medicaid expansion. It's a takeoff on the state's tourism slogan, "Pick Your Passion."

And there's the rub, according to Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, who said, "It's a registered trade service in Louisiana for our department."

"We have invested too much time and money to create a positive message to promote Louisiana," Dardenne said. "I'm not going to let partisan Washington politics infringe on the brand we have created to market our state."

More below the squiggle.

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Governor Christie has been sticking to his guns about not knowing anything about the bridge toll booth closures and the ensuing traffic jams until after the fact. Against mounting evidence to the contrary, he has also attempted to stick to the story that it was the Port Authority and not his office that caused the closures. He now claims not to be sure who initiated the closures, but he's investigating to find out.

I was catching up on the Rachel Maddow Show on this morning when I heard something that caused me to sit up and take notice. I'd be surprised if others didn't catch it, but no one seems to be talking about it. It was during the interview with Christie when he was trying to resurrect that whole traffic study excuse. After reiterating Christie's strong denials of any prior knowledge of the closings, at about six minutes into the "Christie speaks amid breaking bridge jam news" segment, Rachel cuts to a clip of Christie saying this:

"Let's remember something for everybody out there. We did not close lanes to the bridge. All the lanes on the bridge were open. These were three toll booths that are dedicated just to Fort Lee, and that two of those lanes were closed apparently to do a traffic study to see if there was really a need for all those three lanes. That's what I was told at the time..."

The Rachel Maddow Show

His slip-up (Freudian?) in using the self-inclusive pronoun "We" (rather than "They") is the type of thing any good interrogator (as we parents frequently become) is listening for. You don't have to be Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson to realize how telling this is. It's not the kind of slip one would likely make if it was indeed a Port Authority decision to close the booths for some study as he goes on to claim, or even if it was done by one's staff without one's knowledge. It's one of the reasons why lawyers admonish their clients to keep their mouths shut. Of course, Christie can't do that if he wants to survive, which is looking increasingly unlikely.

A pro-pot group has aired an ad stating that marijuana is "less toxic" than alcohol, but a federal science agency has disputed this claim. The ad, which opens with smiling young adults hoisting their brew mugs, has drawn severe criticism from several anti-drug abuse organizations. The TV screen company, Grazie Media, pulled the ad after a few hours.

In response to an advertisement sponsored by the pro-pot group Marijuana Policy Project, which called marijuana “less toxic” than alcohol, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) wrote in an e-mail to watchdog group PolitiFact: "Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual." PolitiFact, which fact-checks claims made by politicians, pundits, and special interest groups, surmised the claim that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol was “mostly true,” citing numbers from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. According to the CDC, more than 41,000 deaths were tied to alcohol in 2010 (almost 16,000 attributed to alcoholic liver disease and more than 25,000 to alcohol-related accidents and homicides), while zero were reportedly linked to marijuana [emphasis added]. In addition, the CDC lists “1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits due to excessive drinking” on its website, as PolitiFact pointed out Thursday (August 15).
Source: TheScientist
"I don’t see how this could be a more open-and-shut case," Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which produced the ad, told PolitiFact Florida in an email. "If you consume too much alcohol in a sitting or over the course of your life, you can die. If you consume too much (marijuana) in a sitting or over the course of your life, you do not die.  What more could be needed to prove marijuana is ‘less toxic’ than alcohol?"
Source: PolitiFact

The truth is obviously very hard to swallow for many, including some in the scientific community, since Marijuana has been so heavily demonized (without any scientific basis) for nearly a century now. But, the worm turns...


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to stack the deck against gray wolf recovery by disqualifying many of the nation’s leading wolf researchers from participating in the scientific peer review process of a proposal to delist the gray wolf as a protected species throughout most of the United States.

Three of the nation’s top wolf experts have been excluded from the scientific peer review of the plan to remove federal protections from the gray wolf on orders from the U.S. Dept. of Interior-Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). The scientists were barred because they had signed a letter with 13 other scientists expressing concern about the scientific basis for the federal plan, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The federal wolf de-listing plan is the subject of an accelerated peer review conducted by a private consultant firm, AMEC, chosen by FWS. Although the peer review is supposed to be independent of FWS, the agency controls selection of the reviewers engaged by the contractor.

FWS exercised that control in blocking at least three of the seven names on AMEC's list of reviewers chosen for their qualifications: Dr. Roland Kays of North Carolina State University, Dr. Jon Vucetich of Michigan Technological University and Dr. Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. All have published extensively on the wolf and are considered preeminent experts.


Placing wolf protection in the hands of the states has already been shown to be an unmitigated disaster. Hundreds of wolves have been killed in states where they have been removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list.

In my humble opinion, this is the type of political cronyism that ignores science and is destroying the United States. It should sicken anyone who cares anything about this country.

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