Friday, October 24, 2014

Fwd: ANS -- Atheist Jailed 100 Days for Refusing Religious Drug Rehab Wins $2 Million Settlement

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:46:39 -0700
To: Joyce S.
From: Kim Cooper <>
Subject: ANS  --  Atheist Jailed 100 Days for Refusing Religious Drug Rehab Wins $2 Million Settlement

Here's what happened in that case of the prisoner who didn't want to go to a religious drug treatment program.  Looks like we still have a few real Americans on the bench. 
Find it here: 

AlterNet / By Terrell Jermaine Starr
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Atheist Jailed 100 Days for Refusing Religious Drug Rehab Wins $2 Million Settlement

This is why the separation of church and state is so critical.
October 16, 2014

A drug addict devoted to overcoming his addiction is accountable to many people, but God shouldn't be one of them.

It was the same sentiment shared by Barry Hazle when he sued his parole officer, California officials and Westcare California after his probation was revoked for a 2006 conviction for possession of methamphetamine. After being incarcerated for a year, Hazle was required to participate in a 90-day 12-step drug rehabilitation program with religious overtones.

Hazle says he told officials his atheism prevented him from participating in the program and insisted on a non-religious option, which he didn't get. During the 12-step program, staff found Hazle "disruptive," though in a "congenial way," and reported him to his parole officer. Hazle was sent to jail for 100 days for violating his parole. He ended up suing in a federal lawsuit for wrongful incarceration in violation of his religious liberty. It would take seven years and two court rulings for his lawyers to announce Tuesday that Hazle won a $1.95 million settlement against the state of California and its contractor, WestCare California.

"I just want to make sure that somebody else doesn't have to go through this kind of thing," Hazle said after the settlement was announced.

Though justice was finally served for Hazle, the case reveals that much of America has yet to respect the separation of church and state. In 2011, a Tulsa police officer disobeyed his commanding officer's order to attend an event organized by the Islamic Society of Tulsa. Though Captain Paul Fields was assured he wouldn't have to participate in any religious programming, he refused to attend, citing a "moral dilemma." A federal appellate court disagreed, saying his claim held no merit.

Then there is the case of the Indiana state trooper who asked a woman if she accepted Jesus Christ as her savior during a traffic stop earlier this month.

There are many more cases of those who violate people's right to religious liberty while representing state interests, but this is as much a societal issue as it is civil rights. We still live in a nation where a politician's road to the White House requires him or her to profess a love for God that is hardly required to do the job.

There is also a lot of hypocrisy among those who believe Americans should embrace God, or more specifically, the "right" God. Back in 2012 when Mitt Romney was running for president, many Christians were suspicious of his Mormon faith, even though a study released that yearreported that Mormonism was the fastest growing religion in more than half of the United States. That election cycle revealed that even a man like Romney who wore his faith on both sleeves wasn't serving the "right" kind of God.

This is why the separation of church and state is so critical. America has enough class, racial and economic hierarchies to include religion in the the mix. As Think Progress noted in its story on Hazle, the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1947 case of Everson v. Board of Ed. of Ewing made it clear that Americans aren't required to serve any God:

"Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance....In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."

Hopefully, Hazle's case adds one more brick to the wall that can protect us from those who want to use their religious views to suppress our religious liberties. If atheists become the majority population someday, believers will surely hope the same wall of separation will still be standing strong to protect their rights too.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr .

Monday, October 13, 2014

[Fwd:] ANS -- Questions for the European Left

Dear Readers -- Here is an opinion piece sent to me by one of our readers.  Please read it with an open mind.  We do not get truth from the Middle East, all we get is propaganda.  Who knows what's really happening there?

Dear Kim,

        Here is an article I'd like to share.  It came to me from the mother of
a friend.  My friend and her mother, being Jewish, are terrified that
the anti-Israeli feelings will eventually produce pogroms in America.
How can I argue with them, when they lost family in 20th Cent. Germany?
(Aside: they have beloved Arab in-laws, strongly pro-Palestinian.  It
makes for delicate family life when you can't mention politics.)


-------- Forwarded Message --------

        Hi Guys,  I have not written lately because I've just been too busy
with a broken ankle (E.'s), and I'm just tired.  But I thought you two
might find this interesting, and you'd understand it.  It was sent to me
by a neighbor with whom I share books.........Hope you don't

        This is quite a lady.  What she writes is more impressive because she
is NOT Jewish.  Her articles are published in Spain and throughout some
of the most important newspapers in Latin
Questions for the European Left   by Pilar Rahola
Why don't we see demonstrations in London, Paris , Barcelona against
Islamic dictatorships ?
Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?
Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of
women who live without any legal protection?
Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human
bombs where there is conflict with Islam?
Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic
dictatorship in Sudan ?
Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed
against Israel ?
Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?
Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of
Palestinian terrorism?
And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and
around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the
United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the
planet? The two most solid democracies have suffered the bloodiest
attacks of terrorism, and the press doesn't care.
And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro-Palestinian European
forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: "We want freedom for the
Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria
or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never
preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are
only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon
against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological
pathologies is the manipulation of the press.
The international press does major damage when reporting on the question
of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don't inform, they
When reporting about Israel, the majority of journalists forget the
reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes
a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have
been written about Israel that there aren't any accusations left to
level against her.
At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian
interference in propagating violence against Israel, the indoctrination
of children, and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting
about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and
every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with
One of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members
for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from
the expulsion document: "Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and
Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like
Israel ."
In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah
Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka
which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing
contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the
crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before,
kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle
Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti-Israeli in the world.
I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am Left and by profession a journalist.
Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I
have the
historical responsibility to fight against  the hatred for the historic
Jewish homeland, Israel .

As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice,
lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told.

As a person from the Left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend
liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the law.
As a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty
with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and
culture will be destroyed too.
The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn't want to accept it, is
the struggle of the world.

Friday, October 10, 2014

ANS -- Wells Fargo employee emails CEO asking for a raise ­ copies 200,000 other employees

I got this off of Facebook, so many of you have already seen it, but I love the spirit of it.  So, pass it on.  If Wells Fargo doesn't do this, maybe some other company will, and it will start something.  If not, well, people can just start their own businesses and share the profit with the workers. 
Find it here:    

FRIDAY, OCT 10, 2014 12:45 PM PDT

Wells Fargo employee emails CEO asking for a raise ­ copies 200,000 other employees

Tyrel Oates is a quiet hero of income inequality and Microsoft Outlook


Wells Fargo employee emails CEO asking for a raise -- copies 20 (Credit: Jose Antonio Perez via Shutterstock)

Tyrel Oates, a 30-year-old Portland, Oregon-based employee of Wells Fargo, shot to Internet fame after emailing the company's CEO John Stumpf (and cc'ing 200,000 other employees) to ask for a $10,000 raise… for everyone at the company.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Oates proposed that Wells Fargo give each of its roughly 263,500 employees a $10,000 raise. That, he wrote, would "show the rest of the United States, if not the world, that, yes, big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors."

In an interview Tuesday, Oates…said he has no regrets and that he has received many thank-yous from co-workers who told him they shared his views.

And, at least as of Tuesday afternoon, he said he's still employed by the company, where he processes requests from Wells Fargo customers seeking to stop debt-collection calls.

"I'm not worried about losing my job over this," Oates said.

Oates has been working at the company for almost seven years and makes slightly more than $15 per hour, working 40 hours per week excluding mandatory overtime. "Just knowing the unease of my fellow team members as far as pay goes and how horrible our pay increases have been over the seven years… I just decided to send a letter to John Stumpf," he said.

The full letter was posted on Reddit. Here it is:

Mr. Stumpf,

With the increasing focus on income inequality in the United States. Wells Fargo has an opportunity to be at the forefront of helping to reduce this by setting the bar, leading by example, and showing the other large corporations that it is very possible to maintain a profitable company that not only looks out for its consumers and shareholders, but its employees as well.

This year Wells Fargo in its second quarter alone had a net income of $5.7 billion, and total revenue of $21.1 billion. These are very impressive numbers, and is obvious evidence that Wells Fargo is one of, if not the most profitable company in the nation right now. So, why not take some of this and distribute it to the rest of the employees.

Sure, the company provides while not great, some pretty good benefits, as well as discretionary profit sharing for those who partake in our 401k program. While the benefits are nice, the profit sharing through the 401k only goes to make the company itself and its shareholders more profitable, and not really boost the income of the thousands of us here every day making this company the prestigious power house that it is.

Last year, you had pulled in over $19 million, more than most of the employees will see in our lifetimes. It is understood that your position carries a lot of weight and responsibility; however, with a base salary of $2.8 million and bonuses equating to $4 million, is alone one of the main arguments of income inequality. Where the vast majority, the undeniable profit drivers, with the exception of upper management positions barely make enough to live comfortably on their own, the distribution of income in this company is no better than that of the other big players in the corporate world.

My estimate is that Wells Fargo has roughly around 300,000 employees. My proposal is take $3 billion dollars, just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually, and raise every employees annual salary by $10,000 dollars. This equates to an hourly raise about $4.71 per hour. Think, as well, of the positive publicity in a time of extreme consumer skepticism towards banks. By doing this, Wells Fargo will not only help to make its people, its family, more happy, productive, and financially stable, it will also show the rest of the United States, if not the world that, yes big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors.

P.S. – To all of my fellow team members who receive a copy of this email. Though Wells Fargo does not allow the formation of unions, this does not mean we cannot stand united. Each and every one of us plays an integral part in the success of this company. It is time that we ask, no, it is time that we demand to be rightfully compensated for the hard work that we accomplish, and for the great part we all have played in the success of this company. There are many of us out there who come to work every day and give it our all, yet, we struggle to make ends meet while our peers in upper management and company executives reap the majority of the rewards. One of our lowest scored TMCS questions is that our opinions matter. Well they do! This email has been sent to hundreds of thousands Wells Fargo employees, (as many as I could cc from the outlook global address book). And while the voice of one person in a world as large as ours may seem only like a whisper, the combined voices of each and all of us can move mountains!

With the warmest of regards,


Joanna Rothkopf

Joanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sustainability. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email

Monday, October 06, 2014

ANS -- Earth's Oceans Heating Up Much Faster Than Scientists Expected

Here's a short but scary article.  As I have been saying, it's happening faster than predicted.  It also says acidification is happening faster than expected.  Not with a bang, but with a sizzle.....
Find it here:    

AlterNet / By Cliff Weathers
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Earth's Oceans Heating Up Much Faster Than Scientists Expected

A new study provides the first real-world estimate of how quickly our seas are warming.

October 6, 2014

Climate researchers released a study on Sunday indicating that the  Earth's oceans are heating up at a pace far exceeding what they had expected. The study, published in the journal  Nature Climate Change found that the surface layers of the planet's oceans are warming between 24% and 55% faster than previous estimates.

The study is said to provide the first rough estimate of how much scientists have miscalculated in their previous attempts to measure the changing heat content in our oceans. It should help researchers better understand and model how the Earth's climate system will respond to changes in greenhouse-gas levels. As the seas absorb 90% of the heat caused by human activity, oceanic heat content is crucially important to climate science. 

The researchers, who have been studying ocean temperatures in the Earth's southern hemisphere since 1970, are recommending that the scientific community adjust its estimates accordingly. Paul Durack, the study's lead author, said this is the first time scientists have been able to quantify how big the gap is between previous estimates and the reality of rising ocean temperatures.

This better estimate of ocean heat content also makes it easier for scientists to estimate how the seas will rise over time as glaciers melt and sea water warms and expands.

A critical consequence of ocean warming is acidification of sea water. The ocean chemistry is becoming more hostile to many animals fundamental to the marine food web. Last year, another study in  Nature Climate Change showed that acidification is happening at a rate 10 times faster than ever before.

Ocean acidification occurs when pH levels­a measure of acidity­fall in the ocean. The lower the pH, the higher the acid. So falling pH levels in the ocean mean that acid is increasing, which has major effects on species that live in the sea, particularly those that build calcium-based shells.

The observed increase of carbon-dioxide concentrations in our oceans is considered unparalleled in the Earth's history over the past 20 million years. Scientists are uncertain of the extent to which marine fauna can adapt to it over an extended period of time.

"Studies have shown that a more acidic environment has a dramatic effect on some calcifying species, including oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton," the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states. "When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk. Today, more than a billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein. Many jobs and economies in the U.S. and around the world depend on the fish and shellfish in our oceans."

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers and on Facebook.