Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

Colorado senators respond to evolving Komen-Planned Parenthood funding clash

Posted on: February 3rd, 2012 by The American Independent 1 Comment

Colorado U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are penning a joint letter on the evolving relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and Planned Parenthood to reflect the unique situation developing between the organizations in Colorado, Hill staffers told The Colorado Independent. (more…)

At LGBT conference leaders warn against too much focus on marriage over other issues

Posted on: January 30th, 2012 by Sofia Resnick 5 Comments

This weekend approximately 3,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists descended upon Baltimore, Md., for a national advocacy conference, while a few miles away the Republican branch of Congress — which consistently resists pro-LGBT policies – gathered for a retreat. (more…)

Michigan GOP candidates for U.S. Senate agree on most issues in debate

Posted on: January 30th, 2012 by Todd Heywood No Comments

The seven Republican candidates vying for a Michigan U.S. Senate seat, currently occupied by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, met in a mostly cordial forum Saturday at the University of Michigan – Dearborn campus.

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Senate shelves Internet piracy bill following Web protest

Posted on: January 20th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

The U.S. Senate has postponed voting on the controversial anti-online piracy Protect IP Act (PIPA), the upper chamber’s version of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was pushed hard by entertainment corporations over the last two years but shelved in the House this week after a massive opposition movement saw top Internet sites shutdown in protest and citizen emails swamp Capitol Hill servers. (more…)

Websites black out to protest online piracy laws

Posted on: January 18th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

Today popular websites have gone black to protest congressional efforts to limit content sharing on the Internet by granting entertainment corporations sweeping powers to shutter websites and digital social networks and to intimidate startups. The bills have drawn stiff criticism across the political spectrum, from high-profile tech companies to average citizens, who argue that the two laws– the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) – would create collateral damage to free expression and innovation that go far beyond the need to guard against copyright infringement.

SOPA, the House bill, has been temporarily shelved, but PIPA, the Senate bill, is chugging forward.

Google has digitally black-taped its logo. Reddit is now blacked out, but earlier plastered its homepage with a Yoda-style cautionary lecture on the dark-side laws. Wikipedia has posted a dark page that warns about a “world without free knowledge.”

In Colorado, popular politics website ColoradoPols redirects to the SOPA Internet Strike page.

Among the Colorado delegation, only Rep. Jared Polis and Sen. Mark Udall have taken strong stances against the SOPA and PIPA bills. Polis sent out a release in support of today’s online protest.

“Wikipedia and Google’s blackout is part of the largest online protest in history and a clear indication that Internet companies and a growing number of Americans are recognizing the danger SOPA poses to online innovation and job creation, free speech, and the very structure of the Internet.

“We all agree that we should more effectively combat piracy from foreign websites but SOPA wildly misses the mark. If it were to become law it would be ripe for abuse as companies could exploit the private right of action to block a competitor out of existence. SOPA and PIPA would snuff out the spark of innovation and job creation our economy needs right now.”

The clash over the two laws today is the latest battle in a long war.

The entertainment industry has been a main player for two decades in attempting to remake the internet into a less distributed and free space, seeking to wrest back control of proliferating horizontal content flows by resurrecting top-down flows that run through a limited number of gatekeeping centers, in effect working against the very nature of digital-era communication, lifestyles, ways of thinking.

The entertainment industry has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into lobbying lawmakers to pass the laws, dwarfing high-roller tech-industry lobbying against the bill.

Analysts have suggested that the argument against the bills started at a disadvantage in part because there are so few tech-savvy engineers in Congress and because the entertainment argument, on the surface, seems to make sense.

Yet the overreach of the laws become clear, they say, when you look at how the laws might be applied– and abused. How is YouTube, for example, to reasonably guard against users who sing pop songs in family videos and load their videos on to the site? Should YouTube or any other site really guard against such “infringements”? How would Reddit or Twitter or Google guard against users sharing or searching for links to downloaded songs or TV-show clips? Sharing content in such ways is how contemporary mediated human beings communicate. Does Hollywood deserve a cut of each of our online conversations?

Opponents of the bills point out that the copyright laws already on the books in the United States are among the strongest in the world and, in fact, have been under attack for decades for being anachronistic and anti-democratic. They argue that Congress, as representatives of the people, should be working on reforming those laws, not passing new versions that create greater hurdles to communication and free expression.

Franken pushes anti-bullying amendment to education bill

Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

In the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee on Thursday, Sen. Al Franken spoke about his Student Non-Discrimination Act and lamented that the bill, which would beef up national anti-bullying policies, was not included in the proposed revamp of No Child Left Behind that’s being considered in the Senate.

Franken spoke of several recent suicides of LGBT students around the country, including Justin Aaberg who attended the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“Our federal laws say you cannot discriminate based on religion, race, sex, disability or national origin, but they do not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex orientation or gender identity,” Franken told the committee. “We are faced with a a group of students that is facing pervasive systemic discrimination. They are being viciously harassed and bullied, they are dropping out of school, staying home from school and they are literally killing themselves. Our schools aren’t doing enough to stop it.”

Franken said he was disappointed that the amendment wouldn’t be added to the No Child Left Behind bill but that he would press to have it included when the full Senate takes up the bill.

“I would like to make it clear that if it came up for a vote, it would pass by bipartisan support,” he said.

Here are Franken’s remarks during the committee meeting on Thursday:

GOP to pick up seats in Albuquerque after redistricting process

Posted on: September 8th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

In the legislative redistricting process, the Republican-leaning west side of Albuquerque will likely gain seats while eastern and north-central New Mexico will lose them, according to Brian Sanderoff of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., a longtime consultant to the legislature. He tells Barry Massey of the Associated Press:

“It would be impossible mathematically for new representation to not occur on the west side. The trick is this: If new seats are going to emerge on the west side other seats must be consolidated,” Sanderoff told senators on Wednesday as he outlined the population trends that will drive redistricting decisions.

The goal of redistricting is to equalize the populations of districts as much as possible. That was required under the legal doctrine of one person, one vote, to ensure that each resident’s vote is worth the same.

To deal with slow-growing areas, lawmakers have limited options. Existing seats can be retained by expanding their boundaries to add precincts and population. Eastern New Mexico districts, for example, could be expanded to the west. That approach was taken a decade ago in Senate redistricting to ensure no loss of representation.

Lawmakers also can consolidate two districts into one, and shift one of those seats to a fast-growing part of the state, such as Albuquerque’s west side. Doing that, however, usually means forcing two incumbents to run against each other in the next election — a prospect that no legislator relishes.

“What happens in eastern New Mexico will impact what happens on the west side of Albuquerque,” said Sanderoff.

Some districts in Eastern New Mexico lean Republican too, but with Democrats only holding a 36-33 majority in the House and a 25-17 majority in the Senate, the process will be contentious.

Conservative Joe Arwood will run against Klobuchar in 2012

Posted on: August 22nd, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

St. Bonifacius city council member Joe Arwood announced on Monday that he will soon file paperwork to challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar for the U.S. Senate.

Arwood, a conservative, is seeking the Republican nomination and says he’ll hold a press conference in St. Bonifacius on Monday night. Arwood has little political experience, and he’s the second announced candidate in the race. Former state Rep. Dan Severson announced his campaign in May.

On Twitter, Arwood describes himself as a “Small government Constitutional conservative first time Senate Canidate [sic]. Running so that our freedom and prosperity can be resotred [sic].”

Arwood's Twitter bio

Arwood doesn’t yet have a campaign website, but he shares some of his views on Twitter. Here’s one example: “Why does the left never call for evil actors to pay their fair share? They only think CEO’s are evil. Liberal Hollywood pay up sucka!”

And another: “Pres Obama cleared his schedule for today. Hold on to your wallet”

In a press release from his campaign, Arwood described why he is running:

our Country is in trouble, and we need people with common sense solutions to be leaders. We the people need to take our Country back from the political class that has established obscene pay and perks for themselves, while at the same time kicking the economic and Social Security can down the road. We need to get the economy going again, people are hurting out there, and Government seems to be standing in the way, or at least on a collective break. Here we are in the middle of a huge unemployment crisis, while the President is on vacation, and Congress is on break. Why are we not in session discussing the possibilities of a simpler tax code that would close the loop holes, lower taxes for companies that want to invest here at home, rather than abroad? Why are we not looking at our regulations that are preventing us from being energy independent? Why are we not allowing struggling families to tap into their 401K, by removing the 10% penalty, to save their homes and the housing market as a whole?? This ‘uncommon Joe’ is ready to run towards the financial fire, put it out, roll up his sleeves to help get us going again.

Arwood has his work cut out for him if he hopes to beat the popular Klobuchar. In June, Public Policy Polling released survey results showing that Klobuchar would beat Severson by 28 points. In hypothetical matchups, Klobuchar also handily beat out Tim Pawlenty (by 12 points) and Michele Bachmann (by 20 points); neither are running. “Amy Klobuchar looks like a shoo-in at this point,” said PPP president Dean Debnam at the time.