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  • Another Casualty of the War on Terror: the Fifth Amendment

    This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

    You can't get more serious about protecting the people from their government than the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, specifically in its most critical clause: "No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In 2011, the White House ordered the drone-killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without trial. It claimed this was a legal act it is prepared to repeat as necessary. Given the Fifth Amendment, how exactly was this justified? Thanks to a much contested, recently released but significantly redacted—about one-third of the text is missing—Justice Department white paper providing the basis for that extrajudicial killing, we finally know: the president in Post-Constitutional America is now officially judge, jury, and executioner.

    Read Peter van Buren's breakdown of the destruction of the Fourth Amendment.

    Due Process in Constitutional America

    Looking back on the violations of justice that characterized British rule in pre-Constitutional America, it is easy to see the Founders' intent in creating the Fifth Amendment. A government's ability to inflict harm on its people, whether by taking their lives, imprisoning them, or confiscating their property, was to be checked by due process.

    Due process is the only requirement of government that is stated twice in the Constitution, signaling its importance. The Fifth Amendment imposed the due process requirement on the federal government, while the Fourteenth Amendment did the same for the states. Both offer a crucial promise to the people that fair procedures will remain available to challenge government actions. The broader concept of due process goes all the way back to the thirteenth-century Magna Carta.

    Due process, as refined over the years by the Supreme Court, came to take two forms in Constitutional America. The first was procedural due process: people threatened by government actions that might potentially take away life, liberty, or possessions would have the right to defend themselves from a power that sought, whether for good reasons or bad, to deprive them of something important. American citizens were guaranteed their proverbial "day in court."

    The second type, substantive due process, was codified in 1938 to protect those rights so fundamental that they are implicit in liberty itself, even when not spelled out explicitly in the Constitution. Had the concept been in place at the time, a ready example would have been slavery. Though not specifically prohibited by the Constitution, it was on its face an affront to democracy. No court process could possibly have made slavery fair. The same held, for instance, for the "right" to an education, to have children, and so forth. Substantive due process is often invoked by supporters of same-sex unions, who assert that there is a fundamental right to marry. The meaning is crystal clear: there is an inherent, moral sense of "due process" applicable to government actions against any citizen and it cannot be done away with legally. Any law that attempts to interfere with such rights is inherently unconstitutional.


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  • How a Town in Maine Is Blocking an Exxon Tar-Sands Pipeline

    This story originally appeared on Grist and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

    Citizens trying to stop the piping of tar-sands oil through their community wore blue "Clear Skies" shirts at a city council meeting in South Portland, Maine, this week. But they might as well have been wearing boxing gloves. The small city struck a mighty blow against Canadian tar-sands extraction.

    "It's been a long fight," said resident Andy Jones after a 6-1 city council vote on Monday to approve the Clear Skies Ordinance, which will block the loading of heavy tar-sands bitumen onto tankers at the city's port.

    The measure is intended to stop ExxonMobil and partner companies from bringing Albertan tar-sands oil east through an aging pipeline network to the city's waterfront. Currently, the pipeline transports conventional oil west from Portland to Canada; the companies want to reverse its flow.

    After an intensely debated, year-and-a-half battle, the South Portland City Council on Monday sided with residents like Jones who don't want their city to end up as a new "international hub" for the export of tar-sands oil.

    city council meeting
    Proponents of the Clear Skies ordinance, wearing blue, packed a South Portland city council meeting on July 9. Dan Wood

    "The message to the tar sands industry is: 'Don't be counting your chickens yet,'" said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "There is a pattern of communities saying 'no' to the threat of tar-sands oil."

    A clear signal

    The ordinance could have global implications. The Canadian government expects the nation's oil industry to be producing 4 million to 6 million barrels of tar-sands bitumen a day within a few years, and it's pinning its hopes on somehow getting all that oil to coastal ports, said Richard Kuprewicz, president of Washington-based pipeline safety consulting firm Accufacts Inc. Indeed, a recent report from the International Energy Agency found that the industry needs export pipelines in order for its boom to continue.

    South Portland's move is just the latest setback for plans to pipe the bitumen out to international markets. Another big hurdle is the long delay over the Keystone XL pipeline. And in Canada, pipeline plans have met with opposition from indigenous peoples (known as First Nations), who are taking the lead to stop projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar-sands pipeline through British Columbia.

    Now, there is a clear signal that communities along the U.S. East Coast will fight tar-sands expansion too.

    "Do not underestimate the power of a local government," said Kuprewicz.

    "A lot of perseverance"

    In early 2013, residents formed Protect South Portland to try to stop the Portland-Montreal Pipeline reversal. They put an initiative on the November 2013 ballot to block the project, but it lost narrowly at the polls.

    So the city council took up the cause. In December of last year, the council voted to impose a six-month moratorium on shipping tar-sands oil out through its port. Then a council-appointed committee crafted the Clear Skies Ordinance to permanently block tar-sands shipments, which is what the council officially approved this week. The law also changes zoning rules to block the construction of twin smokestacks that would be needed to burn off bitumen-thinning chemicals before the oil could be shipped out.

    Over the past few months, concerned residents met in homes and Protect South Portland grew. Meanwhile, the group Energy Citizens, backed by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's largest trade group, ran ads that said "It's just oil. From Canada." The oil companies hired a number of lawyers and brought public relations firms on board.

    Protect South Portland spokeswoman MJ Ferrier estimates that the grassroots group was outspent by at least 6 to 1.

    So how did residents win over Big Oil? "A lot of perseverance and a lot of community engagement," Voorhees said.

    After the vote, supporters of the ordinance went to a local bar, and "we raised our glasses," Jones told Grist.

    Cautious celebration

    But while local activists are celebrating this week's win, they know "this is not the end," said Jones.

    South Portland Councilor Tom Blake, who's been a champion of the effort to protect the city from tar sands, said a legal challenge seems imminent, by either Portland Pipe Line Corp., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, or by the Canadian government. Blake had this message for the oil company and Canadian officials Monday evening: "This ordinance is the will of the people," he said. "Do not spend millions of dollars and force the city of South Portland to do the same."

    But the oil interests are unlikely to heed his warning.

    Tom Hardison, vice president of Portland Pipe Line, told reporters that the city had made a rush decision and bowed to environmental "off-oil extremists." He added that the zoning changes amounted to a "job-killing ordinance" that prevents the city's port from adapting to meet the energy needs of North America.

    Matthew Manahan, attorney for Portland Pipe Line, told the city council before the vote that its ordinance is "illegal" and "would clearly be preempted by federal and state law."

    "The council is ignoring the law" and "ignoring science," the lawyer added.

    Air and water worries

    Like the process of extracting tar-sands oil, the process of transporting it takes a huge toll on the environment. Before the heavy, almost-solid bitumen can be sent through pipelines, it has to be thinned with a concoction of liquid natural gas and other hydrocarbons. And then before it can be loaded onto ships, that concoction has to be burned off. ExxonMobil currently holds permits to build two smokestacks on South Portland's waterfront that would do the burning.

    Ferrier, a retired psychologist and a nun, joined Protect South Portland largely out of concern for what the oil companies' plans would do to air quality in an area that has already received a "C" for ozone pollution from the American Lung Association. The proposed smokestacks would emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). "We know there is benzene in it, a known carcinogen," said Ferrier.

    Resident Andrew Parker had similar concerns. "Tonight is about children," he said at Monday's city council meeting. "The oil company will put poison in the air, that is a fact."

    For Mayor Gerard Jalbert, who also sits on the city council and voted in support of the ordinance, it came down to concerns about water quality. The risk of water contamination in the case of a spill far outweighed the nebulous claims about job creation.

    "When I look at the economic benefit, which no seems to be able to detail, the risk seems to outweigh the benefit," Jalbert told Grist.

    The easternmost 236-mile stretch of pipeline crosses some of the most sensitive ecosystems in Maine, including the Androscoggin River, the pristine Crooked River, and Sebago Lake, which supplies drinking water for 15 percent of the state's population.

    Blake, the council member, is worried that using old pipes to transport heavy bitumen could lead to a spill like the one that happened in Mayflower, Ark., in March 2013, when an ExxonMobil pipeline built in the 1940s ruptured and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of tar-sands oil.

    Saying "no" to tar sands is part of a bigger shift to a greener future in South Portland, Blake added. "Being a community that has been heavily dependent on petroleum, this turns a tide," the councilor said.

    He pointed to a new electric-car charging station at the city's community center and potential plans to build a solar farm on an old landfill as steps toward a sustainable future. "I think we are starting to walk the talk," Blake said.

  • Darrell Issa Investigation Benefits Ex-Aide

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has accused House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of inappropriately intervening in an ongoing Federal Trade Commission case against a company being represented by a legal group run by a former Issa staffer. Last month, Issa sent a letter to the FTC questioning testimony the agency had gathered for the case, which targets a medical testing company called LabMD. The firm allegedly exposed the personal data of almost 10,000 people. On Thursday morning, Issa's committee held a hearing that featured LabMD CEO Michael Daugherty and focused on whether the FTC has overstepped its bounds by investigating companies that experience data breaches.

    "You [are] using heavy-handed, bullying tactics to undermine due process and to inappropriately assist the defendant LabMD," Rockefeller wrote in a recent letter to Issa, which was obtained by Mother Jones. "The inappropriate timing and nature of your investigation are buttressed by the revelation that LabMD is being represented by a former member of your committee staff." Rockefeller was referring to Daniel Epstein, who from January 2009 to August 2011 served as an oversight committee counsel. Epstein now heads a nonprofit legal advocacy group called Cause of Action, which is representing LabMD in the FTC matter.

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  • Halliburton Fracking Spill Mystery: What Chemicals Polluted an Ohio Waterway?

    On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died. Nevertheless, it took five days for the Environmental Protection Agency and its Ohio counterpart to get a full list of the chemicals polluting the waterway. "We knew there was something toxic in the water," says an environmental official who was on the scene. "But we had no way of assessing whether it was a threat to human health or how best to protect the public."

    This episode highlights a glaring gap in fracking safety standards. In Ohio, as in most other states, fracking companies are allowed to withhold some information about the chemical stew they pump into the ground to break up rocks and release trapped natural gas. The oil and gas industry and its allies at the American Legislative exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business outfit that has played a major role in shaping fracking regulation, argue that the formulas are trade secrets that merit protection. But environmental groups say the lack of transparency makes it difficult to track fracking-related drinking water contamination and can hobble the government response to emergencies, such as the Halliburton spill in Ohio.

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  • Roxane Gay Will Make You Proud to Be a Bad Feminist

    In the age of "leaning in" and "having it all," the superwoman model for female living persists with a vengeance. Feminism is supposed to be a refuge from all that perfection-seeking, but even there, it's easy to feel bested, lured by things that are bad for women but great for entertainment: Cue your guilty dancing every time "Blurred Lines" comes on the radio.

    In her new essay collection, Bad Feminist, out August 5, author Roxane Gay wrestles with this conundrum. "When I drive to work, I listen to thuggish rap at a very loud volume, even though the lyrics are degrading to women and offend me to my core," she writes. "I am mortified by my music choices."

    Gay—literature professor, novelist, prolific Twitterer, and blogger who imparts life wisdom couched in cooking advice—is best known for her deeply personal essays about everything from politics to pop culture. Most of the writings in this collection have been published at various outlets, including at The Rumpus, where Gay is essays editor.

    Bad Feminist reads like an autobiography, segueing from elements of Gay's life—her Nebraska upbringing, her Haitian-American family, her cooking—into smart critiques of everything from reproductive rights to the Sweet Valley High and Twilight books. It's a mix of the somber and the hilarious; Gay aptly quotes both Judith Butler and the Ying Yang Twins. "I am flawed and human," Gay writes. "I am messy." And capital-F feminism could do with a little more messiness.

    I caught up with Gay a few weeks after the release of her latest novel, An Untamed State, as she prepped for back-to-back summer book tours, to discuss her survival tactics for social awkwardness, her Scrabble obsession, and why she never shows her writing to her parents.

    Mother Jones: With two books coming out just three months apart, you must be going insane.

    Roxane Gay: Yes, I am! It's a good problem to have, but it's a lot more time-consuming than I ever imagined. Never again.

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  • The Child Migrant Surge Is Slowing Down, But Not Because America Freaked Out

    The federal government will tell you that it has heard the cries of the anti-immigrant protesters and created policies to slow down the surge of children picked up by the US Border Patrol. By coordinating with Central American governments, using US-produced TV ads to urge kids to avoid the perilous journey, and attempting to speed up court proceedings, the administration is trying to at least partially take credit for the recent dip in the number of unaccompanied children caught at the border.

    But those claims are "just conjecture," says Adam Isacson, a senior associate at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America. Isacson, who focuses on regional security policy, says that it's simply too early to tell exactly what's going on. The ad campaigns could be dissuading some people, he says, as could the fact that the story has become such a hot topic in Central America. Or perhaps people were already planning to stop coming now that the rumored "permisos"—which allegedly would have granted free passing for unaccompanied children and mothers traveling with children—were supposedly set to end in June. There's also the fact that the rainy season starts in midsummer and provides more agricultural work in Central America than during other times of the year.

    In other words, a lot of factors are at play. But the slowdown in the number of children picked up over the last few weeks also seems entirely predictable: Since 1999, the overall number of undocumented migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol has peaked in the spring before dropping precipitously during the summer months. In Texas' Rio Grande Valley area—the area seeing the most child migrants—July temperatures reach well up into the 90s, and often higher. Here's a month-by-month look at apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector:

    The heat and the unforgiving terrain has very real consequences for would-be immigrants across the desert Southwest. Humane Borders, a Tucson, Arizona-based humanitarian organization, tries to "take death out of the immigration equation," says executive director Juanita Molina, by leaving drinking water in routes frequented by migrants. More than a decade ago, the group, along with the Pima County medical examiner's office, started tracking dead undocumented migrants found in the area. Many of the 2,187 bodies found since January 2001 were skeletal remains, so a cause of death was hard to determine. But 969 of them were listed as having died from exposure. The vast majority were also found in July:

    Molina says there are many factors that could influence overall migration patterns: harvest season, weather, politics, among others. But the weather is among the biggest factors. "I think it's completely cyclical with the seasons," she says. "Unfortunately, politicians on both sides of the fence are using this opportunity to push forward whatever agenda they have."

    To be sure, fluctuations in overall apprehension numbers are symptomatic of a complex immigration system dependent on factors spread across several countries. Solid answers won't be available until January 2015, Isacson says, when it's possible to compare apprehension numbers from 2014 to previous years.

    But we can say for sure that it's a little early for the White House, immigration hardliners, or anyone else to be taking credit for bringing the numbers down. After all, Mother Nature might be playing the biggest role so far.

  • Glenn Beck Tells Common Core Activists They Shouldn't Mention His Name

    On Tuesday, 40 minutes into Glenn Beck's nationally broadcast "night of action" targeting the Common Core education standards being implemented in schools across the nation, a North Carolina activist named Andrea Dillon announced live that her state's governor had just signed a law directing the board of education to rewrite its standards—a step shy of jettisoning North Carolina from the initiative outright. A murmur went through the audience of two dozen or so parents and kids at the cinema in Ballston, Virginia where I was watching, one of hundreds of theaters around the country that was broadcasting the interactive event, dubbed "We Will Not Conform"* (a nod to Beck's new book on the standards, Conform). Beck offered a few words of congratulation, and Dillon patted her allies on the back: "North Carolina's got a lot of gumption."

    It wasn't the biggest political story of the night—that would be either David Perdue's victory in the Georgia Republican Senate primary, or President Barack Obama's consumption of multiple cheeseburgers, depending on your point of view. But Tuesday was a big day for opponents of the Common Core State Standards, a set of math and language-arts guidelines adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia in 2010, and, of late, an object of obsession for Beck and his army of parent activists. North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory became the latest once-supportive governor to hop the fence in opposition to the standards. Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called on his state to repeal Common Core, echoing an earlier move by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to extricate his state from the standards. (That effort has turned the state board of education and Louisiana's lieutenant governor against Jindal, and is now mired in litigation.) Meanwhile, in Georgia, where Republican officials in the state have previously been staunch supporters of the standards, an anti-Core teacher holds a narrow lead in the Republican primary for state superintendent—a position with broad powers for Core implementation.

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  • Contact: Gene Ween Grows Up
    Ween co-founder Aaron Freeman in Brooklyn. Jacob Blickenstaff

    As Gene Ween, Aaron Freeman was the co-leader of the long-lived alternative cult band Ween, which he started with friend Mickey Melchiondo (a.k.a. Dean Ween) when they were middle-school students in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In 2012, after more than 25 years of recording and touring, Freeman left the group as part of his effort to get sober.

    Freeman, out this week, is his first album of original songs since leaving the band. It is an openly biographical and personal album that nonetheless utilizes Ween's ability to inhabit numerous styles and eras of pop music. The musical reference points of post-Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney ("All The Way to China"), Donovan ("Black Bush"), and Cat Stevens ("Golden Monkey") indicate inspirations that helped carry Freeman through his escape from addiction. I photographed him in Brooklyn, and we spoke again by phone from his home in Woodstock, New York. The following is in his words.

    Going through the Ween breakup was really tough. Getting sober was a whole different thing. So there were two levels of it.

    For me it's a lot of patience, because I honestly didn't know whether I was going to write again. When I write, it always kind of happens all in about a three- or four-week period, where I'll just go into the zone. A lot of musicians talk about that. I think Bruce Springsteen said that no matter what's going on in your life, it's important to keep that one little radar up, because you don't know when the universe is going to hit you with stuff to write. I really stuck to that concept, and I just waited, and waited, and waited. I would write little things, and record them on the voice memo on my iPhone, little scattered ideas. Then it came.

    Last summer I was just sitting around, doing my thing, and then all of a sudden I picked up my guitar and boom! The obvious thing would be to put pressure on yourself, like, "Is this record going to be good? It's the follow-up to 27 years of Ween, and now I'm doing this—what if it sucks?" When I finally got to the point where my subconscious could free itself of that, and it took a while, the songs started coming. I'd go into my room—the typical fucking artist thing—and scream and play my guitar, then come out six hours later, frazzled hair, not showered. My wife and son would look at me like, "Oh hey, he's out. Do you want any food?" And I'd be like, "Aaaagh, gotta go back in!" That's how I worked.

    I'm thinking, "If I get one song, at this point in my life, that'll be fucking amazing for me and my journey." That one concept led to a whole record. I'm really proud of it, and really grateful I wrote it. It's stripped down, no bells and whistles to it. I just wanted to go in, pay attention to the songs, get 'em on tape, and then move on.

    No matter what goes on, I've written the songs that I love. They're not very complex. I like to keep the words simple so they're not too identifiable, and so they'll last longer. I'd like to think that a kid could listen to it, or a bunch of old bums gathered around a trash can fire keeping themselves warm, they would both fully get it.

    One of the things I've wanted for years, especially during the last five or so years of Ween, was more honesty. For me, it wasn't getting sincere. We'd just put on our token songs that were kind of goofy, like "My Own Bare Hands." Toward the end, it was just kind of…mundane. It would distract from the best parts of Mickey's and my music.

    This record is very autobiographical, it's like a journal for me of things that I was really into in the last year or so… spiritual things and severe, gut-wrenching love songs.

    That first song, "Covert Discretion," is absolutely typical of me. There's always been a whole bipolar thing going on with me: I’m pretty shy, or soft spoken, and then there's the other part. A friend who does astrology told me, "You're a Pisces, you're totally water, and then you've got this fire planet." A lot of stuff at the end of Ween was just brutal. I have to write about that stuff, or else I feel like I’m not being honest. If this is a song that calls for fucking brutal honesty, then the most important thing is to do that, and take it so far over the edge. That's what people love about Ween, they love the honesty and not being scared to go there.

    I was susceptible to hard-core addiction because my personality is that way. I think a lot of addicts, serious addicts, have that. They go full throttle and then they are coming down and they are trying to deal with it in a quiet way. It's typical: I was either fuckin' naked with a cowboy hat on looking for cocaine all night or I was just completely quiet in my room. And that's a scary way to be.

    The most wonderful thing about recovery is that you learn to maintain a steady way of being. There is always stimulus, whether it's positive or negative. Buddhist philosophy really dives deep in to that: You sit with it, you meditate on it, and you let it pass. It is really difficult because you've never done that before. In the early stages of recovery, I'd have to go up to my room and just sit there in so much fuckin' agony and just wait, recognize it, and let it pass. I had this mantra: Just be accountable. I wanted to be accountable for more than a week. It seems so simple, but it's easier said than done.

    In rock music, you don't have to be accountable for anything! [Laughs.] It didn't matter as long as I got on stage. For many years, I was fooling myself into thinking that I was going to lock myself away in my dressing room and help myself, and I never did because deep down I wanted to party just like everyone else was.

    I think if this album sounds more derivative in certain ways it was because I was more clear-minded. I leaned on music that I loved. There's a lot of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, XTC, and David Bowie—the things that I hold dear. The whole point of this record was to chill the fuck out. For some reason something made me want to record doubled vocals on almost the entire album, which is awesome. I've always had this weird desire to conquer and make perfect double vocals. To get spiritual on you, I really let the universe dictate how this whole thing was going to turn out.

    If the music sounds like something I'm influenced by, I accept that and try to make it as sincere and honorable as it can. If it's going to sound like John Lennon, I'm going to fucking make it sound like John Lennon. I'll never say, "Oh, this kind of sounds like a Lennon song, so I better make it sound different." That's not the way I look at music. I consider myself as kind of a vessel of all these beautiful things that I've always heard, and I let it go through me. Of course, it always has my stamp on it, my creativity, but it honors what I love.

    Fortunately, I've had the ability to never think too much about where I'm going. In Ween, my thing has always been: It doesn't matter what kind of song it is or where it goes as long as it's a good song. That's what Mickey and I always adhered to.

    The foremost thing is just writing music, and I've been very lucky to have 25 years of that under my belt. The Ween audience is very loyal and they're great. I want to keep making music for them. I don't want a big, bombastic career. I've been through that. If people want to come, they come. If they don't, they don't. I want to do great live shows, because I love performing, and I hope to write songs and maybe have other people pick them up, and make a living off of doing that.

    But we'll see. I have to pay the bills. When I lost Ween and decided to get sober, I had to embrace the fact that my income was going to be a tenth of what it was, but it was still worth it. I really believe if you do the right thing and you make yourself accountable and available, then good things will happen.

    Aaron Freeman Jacob Blickenstaff


  • How America Finances the Destruction in Gaza?and the Cleanup

    On Monday, Israeli warplanes fired 182 missiles into Gaza, Israeli ships launched 146 shells into the territory, and Israeli tanks shot 721 shells, with all these attacks striking 66 structures and killing 107 Palestinians (including 35 children), while Hamas launched 101 rockets toward Israel, and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed. That day, the State Department announced that the United States would be providing $47 million "to help address the humanitarian situation in Gaza." A third of these funds would go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is providing food, water, and shelter to tens of thousands of war-affected Palestinians in Gaza. So once again, US taxpayers are in an absurd place: They are partly paying for the Israeli military action in Gaza and funding the cleanup.

    Each year, the United States gives Israel about $3.1 billion in military assistance, a commitment that stems from the 1978 Camp David accord that led to peace between Israel and Egypt. Those billions are roughly divided into two funding streams. About $800 million underwrites Israeli manufacturing of weaponry and military products. The rest finances what is essentially a gift card that the Israeli military uses to procure arms and military equipment from US military contractors. It can be safely assumed, says a US expert on aid to Israel, that all units of the Israel Defense Forces benefit from US assistance—and this obviously includes those units fighting in Gaza. So to a certain degree, the destruction in Gaza does have a made-in-the-USA stamp.

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  • Watch Abortion Access Vanish in Texas (GIF)

    Last Friday marked one year since Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed into law one of the nation's harshest abortion restrictions. The law, which state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) famously denounced during an 11-hour filibuster, imposes onerous restrictions on abortion clinics that are designed to shut them down. A year later, it has profoundly limited abortion access for Texas women: When Perry held his signing ceremony last July, Texas had 40 licensed abortion clinics. Today, only 21 are still providing abortions. By September, when a section of the law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers takes effect, there may be only six.

    The first wave of clinics closed or stopped providing abortions due to a provision of the law that came into force in November 2013 and required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

    You can see women's abortion access trickle away in the interactive map above. Some things to note: Before the state required admitting privileges, 13 cities had abortion clinics. Now, just seven do. After September, only five Texas cities—Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston—will will have abortion clinics. Women in the Rio Grande Valley must now travel to Corpus Christi, a two-and-a-half hour drive, for abortion services. Soon, there won't be a single clinic providing abortions west of San Antonio. A clinic in Dallas that will operate as an ambulatory surgical center opened after the state's new law passed and does not initially appear on the map.

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Green Facts

  • States with bottle deposit laws have 35-40% less litter by volume.

  • Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day.

  • Nudge your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter to prevent 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

  • Youíll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to make the material from scratch.

  • Americans throw away more than 120 million cell phones each year, which contribute 60,000 tons of waste to landfills annually.

  • A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

  • An aluminum can that is thrown away instead of recycled will still be a can 500 years from now!

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months

  • Recycling for one year at Stanford University saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.

  • A laptop consumes five times less electricity than a desktop computer.

  • Turning off the tap when brushing your teeth can save as much as 10 gallons a day per person.

  • Washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and drying your clothes on a clothesline six months out of the year would save another 700 pounds.

  • Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than equivalent stands of trees.

  • One recycled aluminum can will save enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours.

  • Current sea ice levels are at least 47% lower than they were in 1979.

  • 77% of people who commute to work by car drive alone.

  • American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic. This adds up to 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.

  • You will save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 miles you drive if you always keep your carís tires fully inflated.

  • Every week about 20 species of plants and animals become extinct.

  • 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from burning fossil fuels.

  • In the United States, automobiles produce over 20 percent of total carbon emissions. Walk or bike and you'll save one pound of carbon for every mile you travel.

  • For every 38,000 bills consumers pay online instead of by mail, 5,058 pounds of greenhouse gases are avoided and two tons of trees are preserved.

  • Recycling 100 million cell phones can save enough energy to power 18,500 homes in the U.S. for a year.

  • Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute.

  • Refrigerators built in 1975 used 4 times more energy than current models.

  • A tree that provides a home with shade from the sun can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.

  • Due to tiger poaching, habitat destruction, and other human-tiger conflicts, tigers now number around 3,200óa decrease in population by about 70% from 100 years ago.

  • Shaving 10 miles off of your weekly driving pattern can eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

  • Less than 1% of electricity in the United States is generated from solar power.

  • In California homes, about 10% of energy usage is related to TVs, DVRs, cable and satellite boxes, and DVD players.

  • A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution, and mining wastes by about 70%.

  • Glass can be recycled over and over again without ever wearing down.

  • If every U.S. household turned the thermostat down by 10 degrees for seven hours each night during the cold months, and seven hours each weekday, it would prevent nearly gas emissions.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die prematurely worldwide every year due to air pollution.

  • Recycling 1 million laptop computers can save the amount of energy used by 3,657 homes in the U.S. over the course of a year.

  • It takes 6,000,000 trees to make 1 year's worth of tissues for the world.

  • You will save 100 pounds of carbon for each incandescent bulb that you replace with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), over the life of the bulb.

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.