Social Issues

New York Gov. Cuomo’s jobs plan expands gambling to fund a new infrastructure repair fund, more tax credits for job growth and a job-training program

December 4, 2011

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s jobs plan proposes to expand gaming, which could mean a Catskills casino, a new infrastructure repair fund, more tax credits for job growth and a job-training program. The extensive proposal released Sunday to The Associated Press is Cuomo’s response to an unexpected $350 million deficit this year and a projected $3.5 billion deficit in the 2010-13 fiscal year.”

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Los Angeles City Councilman set to propose ban on medicinal marijuana dispensaries

November 25, 2011

“With new medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Los Angeles in the wake of judicial decisions that created more legal confusion, Councilman Jose Huizar plans to introduce a motion to ban them until the state Supreme Court steps in to resolve the issue.

The motion would be the second to propose an end to the city’s troubled attempts to regulate storefront marijuana sales. Council members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry introduced a motion last month to ask city officials to make recommendations on how to eliminate dispensaries.”

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Medicinal marijuana industry not bowing under pressure from the federal government

November 25, 2011

“[I]n the last several weeks, federal prosecutors have raided or threatened to seize the property of scores of growers and dispensaries in California that, in some cases, are regarded by local officials as law-abiding models. At the same time, the Internal Revenue Service has levied large, disputed tax charges against the state’s largest dispensary, threatening its ability to continue.”

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California Supreme Court rules that proponents of Proposition 8 have ‘legal standing to challenge the decision by a lower court judge overturning the ban after California’s governor and attorney general refused to defend Proposition 8’

November 17, 2011

“The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that proponents of Proposition 8 — which banned same-sex marriage in California — have legal standing to challenge the decision by a lower court judge overturning the ban, after the state’s governor and attorney general refused to defend the proposition.

The ruling came as an advisory decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had asked for guidance on how to proceed in the case after Gov. Brown and the state attorney general declined to defend [its] constitutionality.

The decision means that the case, Perry v. Brown, is now moving from a legal detour — the question of who has the right under California law to appear in court on behalf of a proposition — to the issue of merits: does a legal ban on same-sex marriage violate constitutional rights?”

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Catholic Bishops: Religious freedom has been ‘whittled away’ by same-sex marriage, abortion and health care legislation

November 15, 2011

“Catholic bishops said on Monday that religious freedom had been whittled away by same-sex marriage, abortion and healthcare legislation, and vowed to ramp up efforts to protect it.

At a meeting of 300 bishops gathered for the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the newly appointed committee on religious liberty announced plans to respond to legislation it says comes between citizens and their Catholic beliefs.

That includes Alabama’s recent crackdown on immigration, which prevents undocumented citizens from receiving religious services, said committee member Reverend William Lori, the bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Other examples included a New York town clerk who faces legal action for refusing to administer same-sex marriages after New York state last summer became the most populous state to legalize gay marriage.”

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Pentecostal “TheCall Detroit” mixes anti-Muslim and racial reconciliation rhetoric during a 24-hour prayer meeting on Friday and Saturday

November 13, 2011

“A Pentecostal minister with a history of preaching intolerance against gays and Muslims brought thousands of people from Michigan together for a 24-hour prayer meeting in this city on Friday and Saturday, despite condemnations from local faith leaders.

The minister, Lou Engle, has organized a series of prayer meetings in arenas and amphitheaters over the past decade. The events, known as TheCall, have often targeted abortion rights and gay rights. He is notorious for speaking in support of legislation in Uganda that would have sentenced gays to death simply for being gay.

The promotional website for TheCall Detroit had warned about “the rising tide of the Islamic movement,” but after complaints about that phrase, TheCall dropped it from its website.”

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Federal Court: California school officials had a legal right to send home students on Cinco de Mayo for wearing American flag shirts because there was ‘ reasonable fear the images could lead to violence’

November 13, 2011

“Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware of San Francisco ruled last week that it was not a violation of the freedom of speech for students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill to be ordered to turn their shirts with the American flag inside out or go home on May 5, 2010, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.Two students were sent home.

Ware cited past clashes between Mexican-American and Anglo students over clothing on the holiday, which is a celebration of Mexican heritage and in Mexico commemorates a Mexican army victory over the French in 1862. (It is not Mexican Independence Day.)

Students wearing the shirts had sued the Morgan Hill Unified School District on the grounds that their right to free expression had been violated as well as on discrimination because students wearing Mexican flag colors were not censored. Ware rejected both issues.”

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Senator Feinstein’s legislation to repeal the Defense of Marraige Act passes through the Senate Judiciary Committee

November 11, 2011

“Feinstein, a California Democrat, nonetheless hailed the 10-8 vote as a big first step in what she called “the march” to repeal the statute, known as DOMA. The law denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples, including Social Security, tax, immigration and more than 1,100 other federal preferences tied to marriage.

The law, which Republicans are defending in court, also permits states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. President Obama and the Justice Department concluded earlier this year that the law is unconstitutional and that they could not defend it.”

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Gallup Poll: Record-high 50% of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana

November 9, 2011

“A record-high 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal.

When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12% of Americans favored it, while 84% were opposed. Support remained in the mid-20s in Gallup measures from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30% in 2000 and 40% in 2009 before reaching the 50% level in this year’s Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States.” The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009 found that “16.7 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed, an increase over the rates reported in all years between 2002 and 2008.”

The advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws claims that marijuana is the third-most-popular recreational drug in America, behind only alcohol and tobacco. Some states have decriminalized marijuana’s use, some have made it legal for medicinal use, and some officials, including former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, have called for legalizing its use.”

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Both the controversial Ohio union measure and Mississippi abortion measure were rejected by voters

November 9, 2011

“Controversial ballot measures aimed at banning abortion in Mississippi and reducing public sector union power in Ohio were soundly defeated on Tuesday in local elections that cheered President Barack Obama’s Democratic party.

Democrats and Republicans split the two races for governor on the ballot, with Kentucky Democratic governor Steve Beshear handily winning re-election and Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant victorious in Mississippi.

Neither result changed the balance of power, with Bryant succeeding popular outgoing Governor Haley Barbour in Mississippi. But the outcome means Republicans will hold a 29 to 20 lead in governors going into the presidential election cycle in 2012, with Rhode Island held by an Independent.

The nationwide local elections were the last before the presidential primaries and caucuses begin in January.”

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Gallup Poll: 52% of Democrats ‘seldom or never go’ to church

November 8, 2011

“That result is based on Gallup’s daily tracking polls conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31 of this year.

In addition to the 52 percent of Democrats who told Gallup they seldom or never go to church, another 20 percent said they go to church nearly weekly or monthly, and 27 percent said they go weekly.

On Oct. 28, Gallup reported that its daily tracking polls between June 1 and Aug. 31 showed that 38 percent of Republicans said they seldom or never go to church, while 21 percent said they go to church nearly weekly or monthly, and 40 percent said they go weekly.”

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Mississippi Governor Barbour supports amendment to State Constitution that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception

November 6, 2011

“Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour offered his support Friday for an amendment to the state constitution that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception, saying he cast his absentee ballot for the measure despite struggling with its implications.

“I have some concerns about it,” he said in a statement issued Friday, a day after casting his ballot. “But I think all in all, I believe life begins at conception, so I think the right thing to do was to vote for it.”

On Wednesday, Barbour, a Republican, said that he was still undecided and that the measure was “too ambiguous.”

Initiative 26 would define personhood as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Though the text of the amendment is simple, the implications if it passes couldn’t be more complex. If approved by Mississippi voters on Tuesday, it would make it impossible to get an abortion and hamper the ability to get some forms of birth control.”

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