AreYouLiberal.Com
18Apr/14Off

For those longing for the days of Solyndra, DOE spending $4 billion to make it happen again

**Written by Doug Powers

It was inevitable — like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, except in this story the swallows use government loans to turn the Mission into a solar company that goes bankrupt, fly back to Goya in first-class and leave taxpayers on the hook for the loss.

From Reuters:

The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday unveiled a plan for up to $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies to help rejuvenate a program that faced harsh political attacks over past failures of federally subsidized projects.

The Obama administration’s draft plan would provide loan guarantees for innovative projects that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

It will specifically focus on advanced electric grid technology and storage, biofuels for conventional vehicles, energy from waste products and energy efficiency.

“We’re back in business,” Peter Davidson, executive director of the department’s loan programs office, told Reuters.

We’re back in business”? Great. Here’s how that’s going to sound from the taxpayers’ perspective:

We’re back in business

But don’t worry, because they’re totally going to pay attention this time:

And in the wake of the Solyndra scandal, the department also made changes to its due diligence practices and loan oversight.

Apparently some of the billions of dollars from the last round of “green” loans ended up in the hands of non-Dem cronies, and DOE will make sure that doesn’t happen again.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

18Apr/14Off

Court Documents Reveal Details of LAPD Incident with Photographer

Shawn Nee, a street and documentary photographer in Hollywood,
California, is alleging in a lawsuit
filed in late 2013
that officers from the Los Angeles Police
Department (LAPD) retaliated against him for asserting his
constitutional right to take photographs in a public space.

Nee was taking photos from a sidewalk approximately 90 feet
away
from an incident officers were investigating June 2, 2013.
Even so, he was detained, cuffed and had his information run by
LAPD Officers Mike Foster and Kevin Palmer.

When the officers' supervisor, Sergeant Rudy Vidal, arrived at
the location, Foster allegedly told Vidal that Nee was "talking all
this nonsense" about his First Amendment rights. After Nee further
asserted that he was being detained for taking photos in a public
space and invoked his right to remain silent, Vidal ordered Palmer
and Foster to take Nee into custody for "interfering." From the
lawsuit:

At the Wilcox station, Nee was handcuffed to a bench until
he was taken into an interrogation room and questioned by a
detective. Nee was in custody for approximately one and one-half
hours before he was released with no charges filed. Throughout most
of that time, he was handcuffed.

The LAPD said in two responses to the lawsuit filed in Feburary
2014 that the force used against Nee "was
caused and necessitated"
by his actions, and, "was
reasonable and necessary for self defense."
Further, the court
papers say there was reasonable suspicision to detain Nee and
probable cause for his arrest.

Although the LAPD is clear in its policy
about the rights of news reporters at crime scenes
, saying
officers should not prevent the taking of pictures in public spaces
(including pictures of police officers), the policy is not clear
about the rights of citizen or independent journalists like Nee.
The lawsuit says that the fact that the current LAPD policy fails
to recognize that the rights of credentialed journalists are no
greater than citizens, "encourages the police to mistreat
independent journalists and members of the public they
encounter."

The incident was caught by Nee on a Vievu body camera, the same
camera police officers internationally use in the field so there is
a recording after the fact. The practice can protect an officer in
a court preceding or if there is an internal affairs
investigation. Reason TV initally aired video of Nee's
arrest in
"Cameras vs. LAPD:
Was a Photographer Interfering or Just Taking Pictures."

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allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" type=
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18Apr/14Off

Indiana, Common Core, and a Great Opportunity to Reverse Course

Indiana has a great opportunity to implement education standards that are “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high,” as Governor Mike Pence (R) wants to do. One option for doing this would be to re-adopt Indiana’s prior state standards.

Before the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Indiana staked out higher ground by adopting well-regarded math standards (2000). It resisted the pull felt by so many states to dumb down their expectations in order to meet the performance metrics associated with NCLB, adopting ambitious academic goals for K-12 Hoosier students in 2006 and then updating its math standards once again in 2009.

Those standards were widely praised, even by Common Core proponents.

Achieve, Inc., for example, said Indiana’s 2009 K-8 mathematics standards were “intellectually demanding” and would prepare students for “success in college and in their careers.” The Fordham Institute, a proponent of Common Core, gave Indiana’s prior English standards a grade of “A” and said that they “are clearly better than Common Core.” It noted that quality of the math standards, which they gave an “A,” were equal to that of Common Core:

Indiana’s [English] standards are clear, specific, and rigorous, and include nearly all of the critical content expected in a demanding, college-prep curriculum.… Indiana’s [math] standards are well organized and easy to read. They cover nearly all of the essential content in both elementary and high school with depth and rigor. They include examples throughout and offer excellent guidance to learning mathematics.

Regrettably, in 2010 the Indiana State Board of Education followed the crowd of many other states and jumped on board the Common Core bandwagon.

When Governor Pence came into office in 2013, he moved swiftly to bring control of Indiana’s standards and testing back to the state, calling for Hoosiers to pull out of Common Core.

Indiana has the chance to reclaim its position as having some of the most rigorous standards in the country by simply replacing Common Core with its excellent 2000 mathematics standards (which were updated in 2009) and its 2006 English language arts state standards.

Under Pence’s leadership, Indiana became a trailblazer, exiting the national standards push and showing other states that it’s possible. Re-adopting their prior math and English standards would ensure that Indiana has some of the highest standards in the country—standards that are state-driven and, most importantly, supported by teachers and parents.

The state has until July 1 to do it.

The post Indiana, Common Core, and a Great Opportunity to Reverse Course appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation.

18Apr/14Off

Shikha Dalmia on Why India Might Elect a Sham Free Marketer Hindu Extremist

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist with a severe
case of authoritarianism, has taken a hefty lead in India’s
five-week-long elections by vowing not to let India's messy
democracy stand in the way of economic liberalization to generate
growth and jobs.

But Modi is a sham free marketer who has offered no clear policy
agenda for economic reforms, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst
Shikha Dalmia. But if he has still earned a cult following, it is
by forging a rhetoric that gives voice to the soaring economic
aspirations of Indians. This, she notes, is in stark contrast to
the ruling Congress Party, which has been controlled by the Nehru
dynasty since its inception. It has taken inspiration from the
National Advisory Council that Sonia Gandhi, the Congress Party
head and the Italian widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,
has stacked with like-minded NGO activists (essentially community
organizers) and leftist intellectuals. Most of them oppose India's
turn to "neoliberalism" and privatization and believe that the old
recipe of "social spending" and industry mandates is the answer to
poverty.

View this article.

18Apr/14Off

Snowden’s Op-Ed: Desperately Spinning to Try to Repair the Damage

Let's face it -- if Edward Snowden's appearance at Vladimir Putin's propaganda puppet show yesterday was supposed to improve his image in the US by showing him "questioning" Putin about mass surveillance, it was a miserable failure. Even many of Snowden's most vociferous defenders were appalled at that display.

So it ...

18Apr/14Off

Al Gore in Hawaii: Carbon Polluters ‘Immoral, Unethical, Despicable’

Al Gore was “fired up” at the University of Hawaii in sharing his message on climate change, according to a local TV news report of a speech in which the former vice president bashed unnamed “carbon polluters” as being ”immoral, unethical, and despicable.”

Gore, wearing a bright lei around his neck, proved a pumped-up keynote speaker at a “sustainability conference” held Tuesday at the Manoa campus.

A report by KITV News includes video of Gore saying:

 What some of the large carbon polluters are doing today, spending a billion dollars a year to try to fool people, to try to make fools of people, to say all this pollution is good for you? It is also immoral, unethical, and despicable, and we need to call them to account for it.”

A lengthy and positive account in Honolulu Civil Beat noted that Gore “graced Honolulu with his presence” and won “hearty applause” many times.

“Ultimately,” Gore said in one such utterance, “we are going to win this thing.”

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.

The post Al Gore in Hawaii: Carbon Polluters 'Immoral, Unethical, Despicable' appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation.

18Apr/14Off

South Dakota Clinic Offers Parents Free Drug Tests for Kids, No One Takes Offer Yet

everybody gets a drug testingA drug testing clininc in Belle Fourche, South
Dakota, is offering parents free drug testing sessions for their
children next week but is not finding any interest. Via
the Rapid City Journal
:

"We have not had one person call," [Lori] Lei said.
"It's really disheartening, because we encourage parents to
test."

The free testing offer was made through an article this week in the
local weekly paper, and through word of mouth. The offer may be
going unheeded because not enough people have heard about it, or it
could be that testing your child creates an uncomfortable
situation.

Lei, who owns Drug Screening Services in Belle Fourche, has offered
the free drug screenings starting on Monday, April 21. She chose
that date because it falls just after 4/20, which is a common
buzzword for marijuana use either on April 20 or at 4:20 on the
clock.

Lei says even the threat of being drug tested could give
children an "excuse" to just say no when drugs are offered, but, as
the Rapid City Journal puts it in their headline, parents
appear to be just saying no to the offer.

18Apr/14Off

Video: Cody Wilson: Happiness is a 3-D Printed Gun

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allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" type=
"application/x-shockwave-flash" />

Cody Wilson: Happiness is a 3-D Printed Gun is
the latest video from Reason TV. Watch above or click on the link
below for video, full text, supporting links, downloadable
versions, and more Reason TV clips.

View this article.

18Apr/14Off

Social Security Drops Efforts To Collect Old Debts From Children of Debtors. Maybe.

Carolyn W. ColvinAfter a good deal of
embarrassing coverage, the Social Security Administration announced
it's suspending its efforts to collect old debts—those stretching
into that past, beyond 10 years—on April 14. The official statement from Carolyn
W. Colvin (pictured at right), Acting Commissioner of Social
Security, carefully stays clear of any mention that they were often
trying to collect these debts from the next generation.

I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the
Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that
are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our
responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt
to the Treasury Department.

If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income
beneficiary believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an
overpayment under this program, I encourage them to request an
explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment.

Controversy over the program swirled around both the age of the
debts Social Security was trying to collect and the fact that it
was putting the touch on people who were children when the debts
were supposedly incurred by their parents and guardians.

People rarely keep documentation for decades on the off chance
they may have to dispute future debt claims. And Social Security
officials themselves admitted that they had no records of the
alleged debts. They just wanted the money and were willing to take
it.

Tapping the next generation for debts supposedly incurred by
parents has been even more troubling to commentators, because it
lies outside modern practice by demanding that people take
responsibility for debts in which they have no say. Social Security
claimed the modern generation benefited as children from overpaid
public assistance and therefore personally owed the money.

Social Security officials are apparently surprised that anybody
found this objectionable.

In an email, Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said, "We
want to assure the public that we do not seek restitution through
tax refund offset in cases when the debt in question was
established prior to the debtor turning 18 years of age." He added,
"Also, we do not use tax refund offset to collect the debt of a
person's relative. We only use it to collect the overpaid benefits
the person received for himself or herself."

But that seems to have been Social Security's claim along,
subject to novel interpretation. Which means some variant may well
return once the fuss dies down.

18Apr/14Off

Threat to School Choice in New Hampshire Continues

Getty Images

Getty Images

The constitutionality of New Hampshire’s education tax credit program is being considered this week by the state’s supreme court. This is not the first time parental choice in education has been challenged in the Granite State.

The New Hampshire legislature passed the tax credit bill in 2012, overriding a veto by former Governor John Lynch (D). The program allows businesses to receive a tax credit for donating to nonprofits that provide scholarships for students to attend a private school of choice. Students who are eligible to receive a scholarship can use the funds toward private school tuition or homeschooling materials.

In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed for injunctive relief with the Strafford County Superior Court, arguing that the New Hampshire program violates the New Hampshire state constitution. On June 17, 2013, the judge in that case granted the injunction, ruling: “[S]cholarship monies may not go to schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination within the meaning of the No-Aid Clause.” The State of New Hampshire has appealed the ruling to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  The Institute for Justice (IJ), which is representing the scholarship families, has commented:

Education tax credit programs do not violate state constitutional provisions…because tax credit programs rely entirely on private funds.

While not binding on the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s interpretation of its own constitution, the 2002 United States Supreme Court case Zelman v. Simmons-Harris is informative. That case held that for the purposes of the First Amendment, government control of funds ends when the money is distributed to the parents since the money reaches a religious institution by way of the parent, not the state. In the case of tax-credit scholarships, money is awarded directly to the parents from private donations, placing the private sector in full control of the scholarship, not violating any constitutional provision—state or otherwise.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R)—no stranger to fights over school choice— also commented on the New Hampshire Supreme Court case:

The point isn’t that every child should attend a private school; rather, the point is that parents are the first and best educators and should be allowed to make the best decisions for their children. Every child learns differently; that is why choice and competition are so important in education.

Research shows that one of the greatest factors in educational success is parental involvement. Educational opportunity through school choice empowers parents with the ability to choose the best educational option for their children. Whether parents have that opportunity in New Hampshire is what the state supreme court is set to decide.

The post Threat to School Choice in New Hampshire Continues appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation.

18Apr/14Off

Damon Root on the Supreme Court’s Next Big Gun Rights Case

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down
Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban in the 2008 case District of
Columbia v. Heller
, it did so because the Second Amendment
protects "the core lawful purpose of self-defense." That includes
"the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of
confrontation." Two years later, the Court applied the same
standard against state and local governments, overturning the Windy
City's handgun ban in McDonald v. Chicago. Yet the Supreme
Court has been silent on the Second Amendment ever since. Although
multiple parties have sought review in a variety of gun control
cases, the Court has yet to reenter the thicket surrounding the
constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

That silence may soon be coming to an end, reports
Reason Senior Editor Damon Root. Today the justices
are meeting in private conference to consider the latest batch of
petitions seeking review and among that batch is a Second Amendment
case that is eminently worthy of the Court’s attention. In fact, it
presents the next logical step in the development of a coherent
Second Amendment jurisprudence.

View this article.

18Apr/14Off

South Carolina Drops Out of Common Core Standardized Testing

South Carolina’s Superintendent of Education announced on Monday that the state is pulling out of Common Core standardized testing.

This Common Core deal is turning out to be a real dud, isn’t it?
Superintendent of Education Mick Zais sent a letter to state Board of Education members informing them of the move – after he learned he had the unilateral authority to do make it, PostAndCourier.com reports.
Zais was spurred to action by bills in the state legislature that, among other things, would prevent South Carolina from using the Smarter Balanced tests in ...

18Apr/14Off

Federal Court Upholds Wisconsin Limits on Collective Bargaining By Government Workers

In a ruling issued today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th
Circuit handed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker a victory in his
efforts to change state law governing labor relations with
government employees. According to the AFL-CIO, Wisconsin’s Act 10,
which had largely prohibited collective bargaining by public-sector
workers, violated the rights of the state's municipal employees.
But the 7th Circuit disagreed, ruling today:

The unions...assert that "[t]he ability of municipal employees
to engage in the activity of bargaining collectively with their
employers, in the hope of reaching a voluntary agreement regarding
their wages and other conditions of employment, is a fundamental
right." The unions further aver that both the Supreme Court and our
court have long recognized that the Constitution protects this
right....

None of those cases [cited by the unions] establish what the
unions assert here: that they have a constitutional entitlement to
collectively bargain with the state. And we find that the unions'
contention that this is a long-standing fundamental right difficult
to square with the fact that several states have prohibited
public-sector collective bargaining over at least some topics.

The 7th Circuit's ruling in Laborers Local 236, AFL-CIO v.
Walker
is available
here
.

Read Reason's coverage of the collective bargaining
debate in Wisconsin here.

18Apr/14Off

The Airwaves Belong to the (Properly Licensed) People! Boston Radio Station Raided, Shut Down

Reason
contributor Garrett Quinn
reports out of Boston on how the
federal government keeps the fraying edges of civilization
together: by raiding and
shutting down a nice thing
that made lots of people happy,
Boston radio station Touch 106 FM:

An underground Boston radio station considered by some as the
voice of Boston's African-American community while operating in
Dorchester for last eight years was raided by federal agents on
Thursday.

Touch 106.1 FM was shutdown after a raid by U.S. Marshals this
morning, according to the station's owner and operator, former
mayoral candidate Charles Clemons.

A defensive Clemons told reporters today that the station was
shut down for operating without a license, something the station
has been doing for years.

"We are unlicensed. It's point blank. We are unlicensed," said
Clemons.

The station is a low power station with a range that does not
extend very far beyond Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury. Agents,
according to Clemons, took anything related to transmitting from
the Touch 106.1 FM studios....

Universal Hub is reporting that Clemons was fined $17,000 by the
FCC for operating without a license
in 2008.

Reason's Jesse Walker wrote a history of scrappy
rebellious radio,

Rebels on the Air
.
Hat tip: Jeff Patterson.

18Apr/14Off

Five Cops on Desk Duty After Dashcam Video Contradicts Their Story About Drug Bust

dramatization of desk dutyFive cops in Glenview,
Illinois, were put on desk duty after dashcam video shown at a
hearing to determine charges against a man accused of having
marijuana in his car contradicted their testimony.
The ABA Journal reports
:

[Cops] had said Joseph Sperling was arrested after
officers who pulled him over in a traffic stop smelled marijuana,
searched the vehicle and found nearly a pound in a backpack lying
on the back seat of his car. But the Glenview police video showed
the search occurred only after Sperling was taken from his car,
frisked and handcuffed....The newspaper dubbed it "a 'Perry Mason'
moment rarely seen inside an actual courtroom."

Castigating the officers for their "outrageous conduct," Cook
County Circuit Judge Catherine Haberkorn granted a defense motion
to suppress the search, which eliminated a basis for his arrest and
resulted in a swift dismissal by prosecutors of the felony drug
case against the 23-year-old.

"All the officers lied on the stand today," said Haberkorn, who
herself is a former prosecutor, at the March 31 hearing. "So there
is strong evidence it was conspiracy to lie in this case, for
everyone to come up with the same lie."

Despite the evidence of their malfeasance, the cops remain on
the job, placed on desk duty while they're under investigation.

This isn't just an isolated incident: Something
similar happened in February
. Prosecutors in New Jersey dropped
charges against a man accused of eluding police, resisting arrest,
and assault. Instead, they charged cops with falsifying reports and
assault after dashcam video contradicted their testimony.

Some cops say dashcams offer them protection as well, but others
have proven quite hostile to being
recorded
.

18Apr/14Off

Austin Breweries Now Allowed to Open for On-Site Drinking

Good news: Austin breweries will finally be
allowed to open taprooms for the public, something craft brewers
(and appreciators) in the city have long been clamoring for. But
the
newly approved changes to Austin's
 land development
code—changes that local news station KXAN tells us took "months of
discussion"—still impose several arbitrary restrictions on where
and how brewing companies can sell beer. 

Under the new rules, only breweries located at least 540 feet
away from any single family residences will be allowed to open
public taprooms (unless they obtain special dispensation).
Breweries must also provide on-site parking (but don't drink and
drive folks!). And customers who'd like to taste a beer on tap and
then take some home are also out of luck—under Texas law, breweries
can only sell draught beer, not bottles for folks to take
home. 

The rules aren't nearly as stupid as
those proposed in Florida
, where brewers could have to sell
their beer to distributors and then buy it back at marked-up rates
in order to sell it on-premise. But as the craft beer industry
grows, I think it's interesing to see how different states are
responding to the different market opportunities this is opening.
Will more of them act to encourage small businesses and innovation?
Or will they cave to traditional players in the alcohol industry,
such as the big beer and distributor trade associations?