God said fire, not a flood next time

Colorado (and particularly the Air Force Academy) is a place where fires are frequently seen as a sign from Jesus, and not of extreme climate change. I feel sorry for those fundies, because they must think Jesus is very angry at them right now.

Yet another climate change disaster and no prominent politicians can bring themselves to connect these dots:

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — A stubborn and towering wildfire jumped firefighters’ perimeter lines in the hills overlooking Colorado Springs, forcing frantic mandatory evacuation notices for more than 32,000 residents, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, and destroying an unknown number of homes.

Heavy smoke and ash billowed from the mountain foothills west of the city. Bright yellow and orange flames flared in the night, often signaling another home lost to the Waldo Canyon Fire, the No. 1 priority for the nation’s firefighters.

Interstate 25, which runs through Colorado Springs, was briefly closed to southbound traffic Tuesday.

“It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said after flying over the 9-square-mile fire late Tuesday. “It’s almost surreal. You look at that, and it’s like nothing I’ve seen before.”

With flames cresting a ridge high above its breathtaking, 28-square-mile campus, the Air Force Academy told more than 2,100 residents to evacuate 600 households.

Oh, and by the way? Federal firefighters are largely temp workers – with no health insurance. Nice, huh.

Senate freezes student loan rate increase

Senate leaders have removed an increase in student loan rates (an unpopular idea for students and their families} from the table, at least for another year — pending House approval. But since we already know which party was trying to double the interest rates, I don’t think students are going to forget:

More than 7 million college students could be spared higher loan rates under a deal reached Tuesday by Senate leaders.

The agreement would freeze the interest rate for a year, preventing it from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, making college more affordable for students even as tuition costs are rising.

Although leaders in both parties said they favored the rate freeze, they argued about how to cover its $6 billion cost.

While they bickered, President Obama traveled the country to rally college students to press for congressional action. If the deal emerges from Congress intact, Obama is likely to take credit for having forced the issue to the front of the agenda, but Republicans have countered that an agreement could have been reached weeks ago had Democrats not decided to make it a campaign issue. Republicans say that Democrats slow-walked the negotiations to allow the president to paint the GOP as the recalcitrant party and willing to risk higher college costs.

The deal was announced Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who told reporters that they had worked out the arrangement but were still discussing how to push it through Congress in the final busy days before lawmakers leave Washington for a week-long Fourth of July holiday.

The proposal’s passage will be contingent upon an embrace from the GOP-held House, although McConnell indicated that he thinks the chamber’s leaders will favor the deal.

Cantor vulnerable

Interesting news, especially in light of the fact that, as far as I know, the DCCC is indifferent to supporting Wayne Powell and taking Cantor down. This is a very conservative district! Not sure that the race between Obama and Romney won’t tighten up closer to the end (it all depends on whether we get our base out), but I’m beginning to think the Dems seem likely to take back the House:

In the poll from from Harrison Hickman obtained exclusively by ThinkProgress, voters say they would support a pro-choice candidate over a candidate who is pro-life by an unexpectedly large margin, 68 percent to 23 percent. The finding comes after intense media coverage of efforts by state Republicans to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds prior to obtaining an abortion, a procedure described by critics as “state-sponsored rape.” The resulting backlash from women in Virginia forced Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and his allies at the statehouse to moderate their efforts.

Eric Cantor has a 100% rating from the National Right To Life Committee.

The poll also calls into question Republicans’ scorched earth policy when it comes to working with the Obama administration. Fifty nine percent of voters say they would support a candidate who works with President Obama some of the time compared to just 32 percent of respondents who say they would vote for the candidate who opposes virtually everything proposed by the White House, as Cantor and the rest of the GOP have insisted upon for much of Obama’s first term.

And asked about Cantor specifically, voters disapprove of his handling of government spending, health care and reigning in the budget deficit, three key issues that Cantor and House Republicans have campaigned heavily on since 2008.

Sorkin too old-school for ultra-hip blogger

Here’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, an Atlantic editor and blogger, quoting from Aaron Sorkin’s “deeply unpleasant, condescending and sexist” interview with the Globe and Mail:

“I think I would have done very well, as a writer, in the forties,” [Sorkin] says. “I think the last time America was a great country was then, or not long after. It was before Vietnam, before Watergate.”

Coates thought Sorkin, in the interview, was insensitive to victims of segregation and “gender repression” back in the ’40s. He scolded Sorkin for extolling a great era that never existed, and for expressing “attendant notions that the internet [has] ruined everything.”

What a crock. In the interview, Sorkin betrayed a nostalgic streak and apparent insecurities about the quality of his work. But I’m still trying to figure out what it is about him and his new HBO show, The Newsroom, that so deeply offended Coates and the many Sorkin non-fans who posted comments on Coates’ site.

They all seemed to miss the main points Sorkin made in the first episode of his new show, especially in the initial rant about America’s decline, delivered by Jeff Daniels, playing (at least in this scene) a latter-day Howard Beale.

More here.

Mandatory Christianity

To this sort of Christian, anything that neutralizes their religious standards in the public arena is actually persecution. They believe religious “freedom” means the religious majority should dictate the rules, and anyone who tries to say differently is attacking their faith.

Here’s a perfect example, via Slacktivist:

The Voss Lighting Company of Lincoln, Neb., doesn’t hide its religious light under a barrel.

“Our biblical mission,” an online statement reads, “is to ‘sell’ our lighting products so that we may ‘tell’ everyone we can about God’s soul-saving, life transforming gospel message…”

Perfectly legal, says Patrick Holman, an attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “The Commission has no problem with a corporation having religious values,” he says.

But Holman does have a problem with a corporation using religious values to make hiring decisions.

Holman and the EEOC are representing an Oklahoma man, Edward Wolfe, who says he was denied a job at Voss because he wasn’t Christian enough.

“It’s unique,” Holman says. “I haven’t seen anything like it since I’ve been here.”

Wolfe says he applied for a job as Operations Supervisor at Voss’s Tulsa, Oklahoma store.

In the complaint filed against Voss by the EEOC, Wolfe says he saw the position on a church website. His first interview went well, but in a second interview with the branch manager, he told lawyers, he was questioned about his religious practices and beliefs.

According to the complaint, the manager asked Wolfe “to identify every church he has attended over the past several years; where and when [he] was ‘saved’ and the circumstances that led up to it.

In the interview, Wolfe claims he was told most employees at Voss were Southern Baptist, but employees could go to any church, as long as they were “born again.”

The complaint claims the manager asked Wolfe if he would “have a problem” coming to work early, without pay, to attend Bible study.

Wolfe, a single parent who says he cannot attend church on Sundays, told lawyers the branch manager was
“agitated” at his answers.

He didn’t get the job.

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