Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Today’s verdict is a victory for the people of Mississippi and for the supporters of reproductive choice. 

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress Health


Most Americans believe that children arriving from Central America should be treated as refugees—not illegal immigrants—and offered shelter while authorities determine if they are allowed to stay or are to be deported, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

While 69 percent of those surveyed believe the children should be allowed to stay in the United States if authorities determine that it is unsafe for them to return to their home countries, 27 percent said the children should be deported to their home countries. Forty-two percent of Americans believe that immigrants are a burden on the country because they take jobs, housing and health care belonging to them, up from 35 percent in the week ending July 6, according to the survey.

“They are in tension but not inconsistent with one another,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive officer of the institute, explaining that, while Americans believe the right thing to do is to treat children fleeing violence as refugees, an increasing number of them also harbor concerns that doing so will be a burden to the country.

Since October 1, 2013, more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained crossing the border, fleeing widespread violence and buoyed by rumors of an amnesty. Warehouses and military bases were quickly transformed into immigration shelters, which struggled to cope with the surge. President Barack Obama referred to these events as an urgent humanitarian situation and enlisted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate the government response.

Earlier this month, Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds. With a deeply divided Congress, it is unclear if the funds will be released. President Obama said he would take executive action on immigration legislation in June if Congress hadn’t acted. On Friday, Obama met with the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where the majority of children hail from, to discuss the crisis and hear the Central American leaders’ demands.

Nearly half of Americans have heard a lot about the Central American children arriving in the U.S., according to the poll. Of those surveyed, 43 percent said the situation is a serious problem but not a crisis, while 36 percent said the influx of Central American minors is a crisis.

Of those surveyed, 71 percent said children from Central America awaiting for their cases to be processed should be released to the care of relatives or churches.

More than half of Republicans polled said these children should be treated as refugees, though 42 percent said the children should be treated as illegal immigrants. Again, a majority of Republicans favored offering support to unaccompanied children while their cases were reviewed, but 39 percent said these children should be deported immediately.

Majorities in major religious groups, including white evangelical Protestants and Catholics, said the government should provide unaccompanied minors shelter and support while their cases were processed.

“It’s unusual to find in the country today an issue where…both Republicans and Democrats [are] on the same side of an issue, and all major religious groups [are] on the same side of the issue, and this is one of them,” said Jones.

The poll, which had a margin of error plus or minus three percentage points, included bilingual telephone interviews with 1,026 adults between July 23 and July 27. Jones said the institute, which focuses research on the role of religious values in public life, would continue conducting immigration-related surveys regularly through the end of the year.

Source:  for Newsweek

h/t: Drew Courtney at RWW


The Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare’s contraception mandate, has sparked a heated debate over the definition of religious liberty and its role in modern society. At this point, even a Satantic cult has decided to weigh in.

The Satanic Temple — a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” — has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy. The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level “informed consent” laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Satanists point out, it strengthens their own quest to opt out of laws related to women’s health care that go against their religious liberty. “Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated ‘informational’ material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them,” a spokesperson for the organization said in a statement.

The Satanic Temple, sometimes referred to as “the nicest Satanic cult in the world,” falls somewhere between satire, performance art, and activism. The group says its central mission is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” It has a set of seven tenets that closely track with humanism. Typically, wherever issues of church and state are overlapping, the Satanic Temple isn’t far behind.

Members of the Satanic Temple first made national headlines when they rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they’re glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan. Since then, they’ve also held “a formal ceremony celebrating same-sex unions” on the grave of the mother of the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, declaring that she has posthumously become a lesbian, and commissioned a seven-foot-tall Satanic statue near a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

And now, the Satanic Temple is turning its attention to “campaigns to assert our religious protection for women with health needs that are being complicated by unreasonable laws,” focusing on the abortion-related legislation that goes against science.

State-level abortion restrictions that aren’t actually based in medicine have swept the nation. “Informed consent” laws, which typically require women to receive biased counseling before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure, are now in place in 35 states. Many of those laws require doctors to tell their patients misleading information about abortion’s potential link to mental health issues and breast cancer. Some of them put words directly in doctors’ mouths, forcing them to refer to the fetus as an “whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Members of the Temple of Satan are encouraging all women who share their belief in medical accuracy to seek their own exemption from these laws, even if they don’t personally identify as Satanists. They’ve drawn up a sample letter to help women talk to their doctors about the issue, as well as created “Right to Accurate Medical Information” t-shirts for purchase.

Satanists aren’t the only activists fighting back against the junk science used to justify anti-abortion laws. The secular humanist group Center for Inquiry recently launched a “Keep Health Care Safe and Secular” campaign to encourage more Americans to fight back against laws limiting women’s access to health services. Similarly, NARAL Pro-Choice America sometimes uses the slogan “Politicians Make Crappy Doctors.”

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress


Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Over the past twelve years, we’ve seen tens of thousands of tornado warnings across the United States. Almost every major city east of the Rocky Mountains has seen a tornado warning at some point since 2002, and the resulting maps are pretty cool looking.

The National Weather Service began issuing “storm based warnings” in 2007, which limited the scope of tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings to the immediate areas that were impacted by the warning. Before 2007, warnings were issued on a county basis, even if only a small part of the county was affected by severe weather.

These maps show all 38,728 tornado warnings issued between January 1, 2002 and around midnight on July 23, 2014. Over that twelve-and-a-half year span of time, there were three states that saw every square inch of land go under a tornado warning at least once: Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Arkansas and Indiana came very close to complete coverage, but there was one extremely small area (about a few square miles each) that didn’t go under a warning in each state.

Be sure to expand the maps using the link on the top-left of each image, as compression distorts the details.

Northeastern United States:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Southeastern United States:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee with 100% Coverage:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND1

North-Central United States:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Central United States:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Southwestern United States:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Northwestern United States:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND


Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Puerto Rico:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

Although there have been two recorded tornadoes in Alaska since 1950, the National Weather Service has never issued a tornado warning in the state.

For the heck of it, here’s a count of all the tornado warnings issued by each National Weather Service office since January 1, 2005, proving once again that Dixie Alley is alive and well:

Here Are Maps of All 38,728 Tornado Warnings Issued Since 2002EXPAND

[All marked warning maps by the author, total tornado warning count map by IEM]

[Correction: The NWS started issuing storm based warning polygons in 2007, not 2002 as I originally stated. I’ve fixed the error.]

Source: Dennis Mersereau for The Vane on Gawker

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Colorado’s attorney general will investigate Planned Parenthood clinics after anti-abortion activists posted deceptively edited undercover videos of staffers offering sex advice.

In the videos, notorious anti-abortion activist Lila Rose poses as a 15-year-old girl and tells the counselor that her boyfriend wants to try out some of the sadomasochistic scenarios described in the popular novel, “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

The counselor, whose face is obscured in the video, advises the “teen” to read the book with her boyfriend, do some Internet research, and discuss which practices they feel comfortable trying – and which they do not.

She also explains the concept of “safe words,” which submissive partners may use to unambiguously communicate they wish to stop sexual activity, and urges the undercover activist to choose another word besides “stop.”

“Usually, a lot of people will say ‘stop’ even though it feels good, so that’s usually not something that is used,” the counselor says in the video.

Live Action posted the edited videos — which appear to leave out questions posed by the undercover activist about various sexual practices, including urinating and defecating on partners, to the unwitting counselor – and claimed Planned Parenthood workers were teaching teens about “torture sex.”

The anti-abortion activists apparently targeted the Denver clinic, which has been sued after performing an abortion for a 13-year-old brought to the facility by her stepfather – who was later convicted of raping the girl.

“Here’s an abortion corporation, which gets 45 percent of its budget from the taxpayers, telling 15- and 16-year-olds not only to have sex, but also to choke each other in the process,” said Rose, Live Action’s president. “Police should be busting down its door.”

Live Action also posted videos showing similar scenarios at clinics in Indianapolis and Willamette, Oregon.

Although Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has agreed to investigate the activists’ claims about the videos, he lacks jurisdiction to prosecute any potential wrongdoing.

The activists direct fellow abortion foes to contact the Arapahoe County prosecutor.

“Parents of every political persuasion can come together and condemn an institutional ethos where sexual abuse of teens is portrayed as consensual sexual activity – where tax-funded counselors can recommend internet pornography and sex shops, and advise children on how to hide these things from their parents,” Rose said.

Rose founded Live Action at 15 and developed an association with fellow conservative activist and videographer James O’Keefe III while she was a student at UCLA.

Rose and O’Keefe have argued that, essentially, the ends justify the means in their heavily edited video “exposés” that purportedly show illegal or unethical practices by Planned Parenthood employees.

“It’s a pretty complicated ethical issue,” O’Keefe said. “But we believe there is a genocide and nobody cares, and you can use these tactics and it’s justified.”

Watch the video posted online by Live Action:

[Image: Sexy woman in latex catsuit with whip in mouth, desire via Shutterstock]

This reeks of a partisan witchhunt against Planned Parenthood. 

h/t: Travis Gettys at The Raw Story

H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: Erica Werner at TPM

She’s just another deranged Tea Party nutbar.

h/t: Joe Holleman at

h/t: Bryce Covert at Think Progress Economy

Rush Limbaugh accused President Obama of refusing to rebuke the practice of female genital mutilation while speaking to a group of young African leaders, cherry-picking from his remarks to mischaracterize Obama’s very clear condemnation of the practice as a “barbaric” tradition that “needs to be eliminated.”

President Obama spoke on Monday at a town-hall-style meeting honoring the Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders, urging guests to abandon oppressive traditions, such as female genital mutilation and polygamy, in favor of progress.

Cherry-picking from Obama’s remarks, Rush Limbaugh accused the president of refusing to condemn the practice of female genital mutilation on the July 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show. Limbaugh claimed Obama only halfheartedly stated, “‘Female genital mutilation is not a tradition worth hanging onto,’” and implied Obama’s statement didn’t go far enough, claiming "he didn’t condemn female genital mutilation. That would have been telling Africans what to do, and he would never impose his views on them because we’re from the U.S. and who are we":

Limbaugh further suggested that rather than condemn the practice, Obama would advise Africans to simply contract out mutilation to the terror group Boko Haram. 

In reality, President Obama actually called female genital mutilation a “barbaric” tradition that “needs to be eliminated”:

OBAMA: Now, I have to say there are some traditions that just have to be gotten rid of. And there’s no excuse for them. You know, female genital mutilation, I’m sorry, I don’t consider that a tradition worth hanging onto. I think that’s a tradition that is barbaric and should be eliminated. Violence towards women, I don’t care for that tradition. I’m not interested in it. It needs to be eliminated.

h/t: Chance Seales at MMFA


WASHINGTON — The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held Monday that Virginia’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages is unconstitutional.

On a 2-1 vote, the appeals court joined the wave of court decisions declaring such bans unconstitutional. The decision, by Judge Henry Floyd acknowledged both the debate over such laws and, in the court’s view, the clear constitutional impediment to laws banning same-sex couples from marrying.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” he wrote. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”

In considering the matter, Floyd, joined by Judge Roger Gregory, ruled, “The Virginia Marriage Laws … impede the right to marry by preventing same-sex couples from marrying and nullifying the legal import of their out-of-state marriages. Strict scrutiny therefore applies in this case.”

Judge Paul Niemeyer dissented from the decision, writing, “Because there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and there are rational reasons for not recognizing it, just as there are rational reasons for recognizing it, I conclude that we, in the Third Branch, must allow the States to enact legislation on the subject in accordance with their political processes.”

The court heard arguments in the case in May.

Read the opinion.

Source: Chris Geidner for Buzzfeed

The vice president of a notorious right-wing legal organization has spent much of 2014 developing one of the most extreme anti-LGBT “news” sites on the internet. Now he’s using the site to hawk a treasure trove of right-wing merchandise and souvenirs.

In January of 2014, Liberty Counsel vice president Matt Barber launched, a website that claims to offer news and opinion “from a decidedly biblical worldview.”

Though BarbWire isn’t exclusively an anti-LGBT website – the site spares some vitriol for immigrantsMuslimsreproductive choice, and President Barack Obama – LGBT topics have dominated its content since its inception. BarbWire’s first post championed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for his comments comparing gay people to murderers and equating homosexuality with bestiality. 

In its short existence, the site has featured commentary some of America’s most notorious homophobes; Scott Lively, an American pastor closely linked to anti-LGBT persecution in Uganda and Russia; the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who blames gay men for the HolocaustLaurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, another anti-LGBT hate group; and Robert Oscar Lopez, an anti-gay activist who has made a second career of publishing bizarre gay erotica novels.

Unsurprisingly, BarbWire has become a hub for the kind of anti-LGBT propaganda that even many conservative news sites shy away from:


But BarbWire is more than just a platform for publishing the Right’s more unsavory anti-LGBT sentiments – it’s also a money-making scheme for Liberty Counsel’s Barber.

In July, subscribers to BarbWire’s mailing list began receiving emails peddling products from Patriot Depot, a website that offers “supplies for the conservative revolution.”

There’s the “’Say Hello To My Little Friend’ Garden Gnome,” available for $18.95:

A tin “Don’t Tread On Me” sign could be yours for $14.95:

You could purchase an “Obama’s Last Day Countdown Clock” for $12.95:

And nothing will stick it to liberals quite like Rise, Kill, & Eat, a paean to “edible wildlife” from “Genesis to Revelation” featuring a foreword by Ted Nugent:

Both and Patriot Depot are part of Liberty Alliance, a network of conservative web sites and web stores. 

BarbWire And Liberty Counsel

BarbWire’s anti-LGBT extremism closely mirrors the work Barber is known for at Liberty Counsel.

Led by Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel is the legal arm of the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University. Billed as a nonprofit “litigation, education, and policy organization,” Liberty Counsel is notorious for championing even the most extreme anti-gay causes in the name of religious freedom. The organization defended Scott Lively against a federal human rights lawsuit stemming from his role in a 2009 bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. While Liberty Counsel fancies itself as a serious conservative legal organization, it also churns out bombastic statements denouncing LGBT-inclusive education as “sexual assault” on the nation’s children.

Despite his fondness for fringe causes, Staver’s connections in conservative media and politics have helped elevate Liberty Counsel to a prominent position on the Religious Right. A close associate of Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Staver is a repeat guest on Fox and has testified before Congress in support of “ex-gay” therapy. In recent weeks, Liberty Counsel garnered headlines for defending Florida’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

And though Liberty Counsel is not formally affiliated with, Staver hasn’t hesitated to be a frequent contributor to his deputy’s website. (Sample headlines: “Obama Puts Homosexual Rights Over Children’s Innocence,” “Sharia Law Is A Growing Threat To American Culture,” and “36,000 New Reasons To Impeach Obama.”)

For years, conservative outlets like Fox have reliably offered Liberty Counsel favorable, accountability-free treatment, allowing figures like Staver to depict Liberty Counsel’s work as part of a noble effort to defend religious liberty and obscuring the group’s true extremism. Now, in order to disseminate that extremism unfiltered, the group’s vice president felt compelled to create his own “news” site – offering an ugly look at the animus that motivates his organization’s work.

See Also: Right Wing Watch’s archives about

h/t: Luke Brinker at Equality Matters