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Gee, who would have guessed?
A Texas high school is in the middle of a chlamydia outbreak, officials say. But according to the school district's student handbook, it does not offer sexual education.
Several students in one Crane, Texas, school district contracted chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, according to a letter obtained by ABC News that went home to parents Monday. According to the letter, the surrounding counties were also in the middle of an outbreak.
Here’s what the letter that went home to parents of Crane Independent School District students said:
Dear Parent/Guardian,

Crane Independent School District would like to make our paretns aware or more aware of a problem that has been identified in our teenagers and young adults of our community.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that is on the rise. Several cases have been reported. It is a reportable disease that is mandatory to report to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The number of cases reported from Crane and Upton County have been significant. With this being said, we feel we need the parents to be aware of this growing problem and pass along some information regarding the sexually transmitted disease.

The letter then lists facts about chlamydia that the students would probably know already if the school taught sex education.

Chlamydia, the most common STD in the United States, is usually symptomless and can be treated with antibiotics. However, it can cause liver inflammation, pelvic inflammatory disease, and fertility problems. Not that students in Crane Independent School District would know that.

The school does not have a sexual education program, according to Crane's student handbook for the 2014-15 school year, which is posted online.

"Currently, Crane ISD does not offer a curriculum in human sexuality," the handbook says, explaining that if it ever does institute such a program, the parent can opt out. According to the handbook, state law requires more attention must be spent on abstinence than other behavior.

FWIW, Texas also has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.
Starbucks acquired the Ethos water brand 10 years ago. According to Starbucks, "Ethos® Water was created to help raise awareness" about water access and works to "provide children with access to clean water." For every bottle you buy, Starbucks chips a nickel into the Ethos Water Fund and so far, the company claims over $12 million has gone toward fighting the water crisis in Tanzania, Colombia, Nicaragua, Indonesia and Guatemala.

While their charitable contributions to the global water crisis should be applauded, there's just one problem—like Nestlé, Starbucks water is being bottled out of California during a drought that is one of the worst on the state's record.

The bottling plant that Starbucks uses for its Ethos customers in the western United States is located in Merced, California, which is currently ranked in the "exceptional drought" category by the US Drought Monitor. Its residents face steep water cuts in their homes, and surface water for the region's many farms is drying up. [...]

The Starbucks water bottled at the plant comes from private springs in Baxter, a small unincorporated community in Placer County, a few hours north of Merced in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The spring water comes free of charge—in California, water companies typically don't have to pay for the groundwater they use.

Meanwhile, residents of Merced county are urged to curtail their water use.
As our most precious resource, Californians cannot afford to take water for granted. There are solutions being worked on at the State and local levels to improve conservation while being cognizant of the need for adequate water access for agriculture and other essential purposes. As those plans are being implemented, Merced County is employing strategies and procedures that will help to save water immediately.

Residents can conserve a significant amount of water every day by:
*Running washing machines and dishwashers only when full
*Installing aerators on faucets and using low-flow shower heads to cut down on excess water flow
*Checking toilets, faucets and valves for any leaks
*Turning sprinklers off in the winter. Moderately water in the warm months at night
*Shutting off water while brushing teeth or shaving
*Taking shorter showers and avoid baths, which can use up to 70 gallons of water

Ethos water, while supposedly pumped from a private source, still has implications on the surrounding communities' water supply:
When I asked a Starbucks spokesman about the company's reaction to concerns about bottlers' use of increasingly scarce water, he told me that Starbucks uses "a private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities." But Mary Scruggs, a supervising engineering geologist with California's Department of Water Resources, notes that communities can be affected by the use of surrounding springs "if you capture and pull it out before it ever makes it" to downstream users.
And it isn't just the water that goes into the bottle that's an issue.
In addition to the spring water it bottles, Starbucks also uses Merced city water to manufacture its bottled water product. A report commissioned by the International Bottled Water Association found that it takes on average 1.32 liters of water to make a liter of bottled water, though critics argue that it can take several times more than that once all the packaging is accounted for.

In March, Merced County passed an ordinance that will place new permitting restrictions on some groundwater use, though whether this will affect the Starbucks bottling plant remains to be seen.

At a time when the governor has declared a state of emergency over the California drought, a time when citizens are urged to do everything possible to reduce water use, maybe we should also be looking to these companies pumping water out of our springs and national forests at no charge.

We could begin with actually tracking that data—because for the time being, the state of California has no idea how much water these bottling plants all over the state are actually using.

However, the water board says it doesn’t regulate water bottling operations. Legislation to regulate groundwater usage won’t take effect for a couple of years.

Nestle has five water bottling plants in California, but the company is one of about 100 bottling plants across the state. The water board does not track how much water any of them use.

This handy graphic from Huffington Post kind of says it all:
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L) and Rand Paul (R-KY) (R) talk to reporters as they arrive to speak at the Tea Party Patriots 'Exempt America from Obamacare' rally on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan E
Ray-Ban, the company that makes the iconic Wayfarer sunglasses, throws some shade Rand Paul's way. Turns out the company wasn't keen on Rand's logo being slapped on their product:
The Rand-Ban sunglasses were for sale for $150 on Paul’s website as recently as Tuesday. The website described the product as “the intersection of politics and cool.”

But the campaign didn’t have Ray-Ban’s consent, and the company didn’t think that was cool.

“We learned that the Rand Paul campaign had been selling Ray-Ban sunglasses imprinted with the “Rand” logo without our consent,” Jane Lehman, head of corporate communications for Luxottica, that parent company of Ray-Ban, wrote in an email to The Hill.

Also this:
One picture on Paul's website showed President John F. Kennedy wearing the iconic glasses atop his head next to a picture of Paul with a similar pair of glasses.
Here's a screengrab:
Don't worry, there's still plenty of Rand Paul swag to go around. Like these "Freedom Socks." And haven't you always wanted Rand's head on a stick? And nothing says class like Rand Paul wine glasses.

But looks like you'll have to look elsewhere for shades for your "cool Rand Summer."

On the latest Daily Show, Jon Stewart blasted Dick Cheney's criticism of President Obama's negotiations with Iran. Calling the former vice president "a man rotten to his very core, which is in itself a tiny black hole from which no joy or light can escape" and "the jagged-toothed forest demon who steals our children," Stewart went on to say that "now and then he [Cheney] slithers out from his lair inside a mountain of kitten corpses and goes on TV or radio saying awful things. Usually we ignore it … but sometimes, we just can't."
Jon Stewart then obliterates Cheney's radio remarks with a little detective work—and a history lesson. Here are some highlights:
But basically the vice president’s point appears to be this: anyone who strengthens the strategic position of Iran is by definition working to weaken the Unites States of America. So I guess the formulation would be whoever strengthened Iran more would be the greater threat to America. Using Dick Cheney’s own metric as our baseline, can we uncover a greater threat to America than even Barack Obama?

And if invading Iraq not only removed Iran’s closest foe but complicated America’s ability to actively countervail Iran’s nuclear program … according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, by the end of your administration, Mr. Vice President Cheney, Iran had over 20 times the uranium-enriching centrifuges as when you came into office. Could that not be considered handing Iran a nuclear weapon.

Yes, Dick Cheney. You took out Iran’s enemies while giving Iran time to build up their nuclear program. But surely you could course correct this by just installing, in Iraq, another strong anti-Iranian government to take Saddam Hussein’s place, as any America-loving vice president would do. What was your move, sir?

For an American administration to replace Saddam Hussein with a man emboldened and indebted to our greatest regional enemy, according to Dick Cheney’s own logic, anyone who trusted Maliki would have to be naïve or deliberately trying to weaken America.
You, sir, were arguing for the United States to lift sanctions on Iran so your company Halliburton could get contracts with this radical regime! Contracts worth millions of dollars.
What would you make of a man whose final act in the business world before joining the American government as vice president would be to enter into contracts with the number one state sponsor of terror before leaving to become Bush’s running mate? Contracts that were only legal because you did them through a foreign subsidiary, Mr. Cheney, and then once you were in office, in gratitude for Iran’s money, you hand Iran the greatest prize of all—Iraq. Isn’t it you, sir, who is the double agent determined to bring America down?
Hilarious, informative, cutting, and spot on. This is why we're going to miss you, Jon.

For more community discussion, hop over to Vet63's diary.

Watch the full clip below the orange squiggly.

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Mind-blowing that this is even controversial:
Tim McGraw is defending his decision to headline a Connecticut concert to benefit a Sandy Hook group, responding to critics who call it a "gun control fundraiser."

Gun rights advocates took to Facebook and Twitter, calling the country singer a hypocrite for appearing in the event that will benefit Sandy Hook Promise, which seeks to protect children from gun violence.

Tim McGraw's opening act for the show pulled out as well, posting this on Facebook:
McGraw released this statement to the Washington Post:
“Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far.  As a gun owner, I support gun ownership,” he said. “I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety — most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children.  I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.”

“Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering,” he added.

A bunch of unhinged commenters can be seen trolling McGraw's Facebook page on various posts:
Big loss of respect for you Tim. At least Billy Currington has some values and stepped away from this.
Timmy thinks that all of us ‘regular’ people should be dis-armed while his family can do whatever the hell they want because he is a celebrity?
I support your right to do as you choose with your money. I hope you support my right to not support you with my money. If you want to support the victims find an organization that supports the victims not a political lobby group.
Regardless of the motive, we all know what the funds will be used for. Had responsible teachers and administrators been armed that day the carnage would have been much less. Oh, it was a gun free zone, right? How did that work out?
Nothing like a bunch of Libtards!
To all the women supporting Tim if a day comes when your mugged & raped you will wish you had a gun.
But there are also a lot of messages of overwhelming support:
Way to go Tim McGraw!!! I'm an even bigger fan. I have always been a big fan but now I'm an even bigger fan. You are in a position to make a huge difference. No good can come from everyone having a gun. So good on ya.
Thank you for your support to the Sandy Hook Children. You are the best...
Thank you Tim McGraw for taking a stand for what you believe in. I'm saddened as I read many of the comments that have been shared. I know God has you covered, I feel sorry for those whose comments are meant to harm. Someday those remarks will back fire as God knows every thing that is written or said. I pray Psalm 91:4 over you, your family and your band. God will truly bless you Tim McGraw!
Thank you for standing your ground about the benefit concert. The people throwing a fit need to actually listen to the reason for the concert and be supportive of the victims families instead of trying to create more chaos. Good for you for helping where needed instead of caving under the pressure like some. You're a good man.
Good on McGraw for not kowtowing to the haters.
Brian Klawiter, proud bigot, Dieseltec business owner
Brian Klawiter owns a diesel engine repair shop in Michigan called Dieseltec. Tuesday, on Dieseltec's Facebook page, he posted a rant about how he would have no problem refusing service to a gay person.
Not sure if Dieseltec is angling for some sweet fundraising off his bigotry a la Memories Pizza in Indiana (who reopened last week with over $800K raised on GoFundMe after the owner went on TV saying she would discriminate against gays). But the comments on Dieseltec's Facebook post made it pretty clear that most people find Brian's views as disgusting and scary as I do.

Also, seriously, you're going to put my vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts? Isn't that illegal?

Some responses to the hate rant include:

Is business so bad that you are hoping some idiot at FOX NEWS or The Blaze will start a GoFundMe page to turn you into a tool and have an early retirement?
Not only are you a bad businessman but are sorely lacking in common sense of the human nature.
Good Luck...You're going to need it.
Great job! Today you refuse service to gays and tomorrow it will be blacks.....because Jesus!
Freedom of speech DOES NOT mean freedom to deny services to some that you offer others. Nice fail there hiding your bigotry. I'll be sure to pass along to some friends to stop giving you their business. Have a nice day and here's to your company failing.
It's so easy for people to forget that Jesus himself said "I give you a new commandment; love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have loved one another." John 13:34-35. I am not going to judge you on your statement, as there is only one judge of us all, but would ask you think about how Jesus loves you. Are there conditions attached to that love, or is it unconditional and forgiving time and time again? I hope you can open your heart and mind to thinking about how Jesus would want you to treat another human being.
This guy is a moron and a lousy businessman. EVERY business has customers it doesn't like, and customers with different morals and values. Only a complete fool would turn down a paying customer based on something that has no shred of relevance to the transaction at hand. fool, bigot and attention whore.
This is disgusting, singling out people just because you don't agree with their ways
Sorry you can't be "Christian" and hate another group of people for their lifestyle. That makes you a bigoted hypocrite, not a Christian.
Not the way to run a business. Personal views should not interfere with how you run your business. Running your mouth publicly about your personal opinions has done very real damage to your company image. You might wanna start looking at bankruptcy attorneys.
correct punctuation would be a nice start here. sorry the education system failed you so badly. but at least be honest about what you're talking about - it's not religious freedom, because you don't mean Jewish or Islamic freedom. Only yours.
You are actually mistaken. You are not getting your rights stripped away; you just don't want to share the rights you have with people you fear or disagree with. The right to discriminate was never your right to begin with. That was just you being an insufferable douchebag.
This was just a sampling of a long, long string of comments from people who clearly disagree with the Facebook post.

There were also some great picture comments:

Here's to people exercising their rights to not give Dieseltec their business. Feel free to let Dieseltec know your thoughts on their Facebook page.

H/T The New Civil Rights Movement

The lack of regulation here is stunning. The U.S. Forest Service in Southern California just caught wind of the fact Nestlé's permit to pump water out of a national forest expired over 25 years ago.  
An investigation by the Desert Sun found that Nestle Waters North America's permit to transport water across the San Bernardino National Forest expired in 1988. The water is piped across the national forest and loaded on trucks to a plant where it is bottled as Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring Water.
Nestlé is the #1 bottle water producer in the country and own the brands Arrowhead and Pure Life. The company's response? Don't worry, folks. Nestlé "monitors its water use and the environment around the springs where water is drawn."

The California drought has gotten so bad we've been warned there is only a one-year supply left in the reservoirs. In Sacramento, Nestlé has recently been under fire from environmental activists, calling the company's unregulated tapping of California aquifers a "corporate giveaway":

“The coalition is protesting Nestlé’s virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drawn from local aquifers – while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them,” according to the coalition.

“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profits,” the coalition said.

In Southern California near Coachella Valley, Nestlé also has a bottling plant inside the Morongo Reservation.
In 2013, the most recent year for which Morongo submitted reports, nearly 600 acre-feet of groundwater was tapped in the area, which translates to about 200 million gallons a year, the Desert Sun reports. That's enough water to supply the needs of around 400 homes in the Coachella Valley.
What is the U.S. Forest Service back in San Bernadino poised to do now that they know Nestlé has been bottling water with an expired permit for 27 years?
The Forest Service faces a backlog of expired permits. In recent years, it focused on high-priority projects including permits for power lines, pipelines and a new water supply tunnel for the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California's water wholesaler that serves more than two dozen cities and agencies.

[San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor] Noiron said Nestle's expired permit is now a higher priority.

"Now that it has been brought to my attention that the Nestle permit has been expired for so long, on top of the drought . it has gone to the top of the pile in terms of a program of work for our folks to work on," Noiron said.

An NBC news chopper caught footage yesterday of another stunningly disturbing incidence of police brutality. During a police chase through the desert, a suspect who fled on horseback, then fell off his horse, was consequently tasered and then needlessly surrounded and beaten by a group of San Bernadino County Sheriff deputies.

Video shows the suspect, 30-year-old Francis Jared Pusok of Apple Valley, stretching his arms out as police taser him. Right away two deputies begin punching his head and kneeing his groin. Soon after, nine other deputies surround the man.

In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 17 times, punched him 37 times and struck him with batons four times. Thirteen blows appeared to be to the head. The horse stood idly nearby.

The man did not appear to move from his position lying on the ground for more than 45 minutes. He did not appear to receive medical attention while deputies stood around him during that time.

Pusok's mother apparently still does not know where her son is:
"To me, it was like a joyride for the cops to do this to him. (It was) brutality. He didn't deserve something like that," Clemenson said, "To Tase him, the beatings that I see them doing to him — it's uncalled for. You see him laying down, and they continue to kick him, hitting him and punching him. Why?"

His girlfriend, Jolene Bindner, said she hasn't been able to get answers from the Sheriff's Department about Pusok's condition, let alone what hospital he's at.

"They have not told me a thing," she said. "How can you be tased and still feel it's necessary to beat him like that? I don't understand."

Three deputies were taken to the hospital—one was kicked by the horse, two had dehydration. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department ordered an internal investigation Thursday.

Pusok's attorney called the incident "far worse than Rodney King."

You can watch the footage of the whole incident below the fold.

Continue Reading
Young boy about to receive an injection.
Great news out of California yesterday:
Unswayed by a relentless parade of opposition, a key Senate panel on Wednesday passed a bill that would strengthen California's vaccination requirements, capping an emotional hearing that marked the beginning of a battle over what has become Sacramento's most contentious issue this year.
Bill SB277, which passed 6-2, would end vaccination opt-outs for children entering public schools unless there was a medical reason. Religious or "personal exemption" opt-outs would no longer be valid.

This is a win for those of us who believe in crazy stuff like medicine and science, but it's not yet time to celebrate:

The bill now will be heard by the Senate Education Committee, followed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. It will also need to make its way through the Assembly before Gov. Jerry Brown decides whether to sign or veto the bill.
Those in opposition to the bill were joined by notable quack Dr. Bob Sears and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, who co-wrote a book questioning the safety of vaccine ingredients. He had this to say:
Calling people who oppose vaccines "anti-vaxxers," he said, is "misogynistic."

"It is anti-woman and anti-mother," Kennedy told the crowd, adding that the mothers he has met during his crusade "have read the science and ... they could destroy any politician."

On a rainy Wednesday, 150 students and alumni staged a walkout at Dowling Catholic High School located in West Des Moines. The school's administration opted out of hiring substitute teacher (and Dowling alumnus) Tyler McCubbin after learning he was gay on social media.
The walkout by about 150 students happened about 1:20 p.m. despite the rain outside.

Students signed a petition "against Dowling leadership's hiring policies as discriminatory against individuals based on sexual orientation."

Students led multiple prayers during the event. A handful of Dowling parents also were in attendance. They told KCCI they are proud their children took a stand against what they call an unjust hiring practice.

Some students supported the school's decision. But many came out against it.
"Our community should know that we care and that the choices of our school leaders and our diocese leaders don't directly reflect what we believe as students and it just makes me so happy that we can show our community that," said Grace Mumm, a sophomore who helped organize the walkout.
There is also a new Facebook group called Dowling Catholic Alumni, Faculty, and Students Against Discrimination with over 1,800 members.

Tyler McCubbin responded on the Facebook page:

Although it's incredibly heartening to see the students protesting on behalf of the teacher, Dowling's decision to not hire based on sexual orientation is just another instance of legal discrimination.
Law experts say the school was within its rights to not offer the job to the candidate.

The state's civil rights act prohibits hiring discrimination based on reasons that include sexual orientation but makes an exception for religious institutions.

Well, this is just pathetic.
The Tea Party of Miami put up a convincing demo last week to oppose a 'land grab' that would see 46,000 acres of sugar farm land restored for Everglades conservation. Just one problem - the 'protestors' were actors each being paid $75 for the two-hour shift.
Last week, South Florida Water Management District held a meeting about the possible purchase of 46,000 acres of land that sits to the south of Lake Okeechobee, currently owned by U.S. Sugar and residents.
The intention is to use the land to recreate a large area of the Everglades ecosystem on the former farmland, and create a 26,000 acre system of lakes to store and remediate seriously contaminated run-off water from sugar farms, and so keep the nitrogen and phosphorus-rich water out of lakes, water courses, wetlands, springs and public water supply.

Thanks to the surfeit of nutrients, huge areas of open water and wetlands are regularly afflicted by outbreaks of stinking green slime - and the water district has come under growing pressure to act to stop the pollution and its severe consequences on local people and the Everglades.

The protest took place last Thursday outside the South Florida Water Management District and was staged by the Tea Party of Miami and Florida Citizens Against Waste—a group that, according to the Palm Beach Post, "has no contact information on its website and is not registered to do business in Florida."

The call for actors to appear at the protest originally appeared on Facebook—although they have since deleted it. Luckily, some folks took screenshots before the post was taken down.

Cue a mysterious post on the Facebook page of the Broward Acting Group headed "Political Really Protestors Needed!!" and offering $75 each (no breakfast) for up to 40 actors to show up at the water district on 2nd April from 8.30 to 10.30 am:

"Details: Basically to stand behind fence, holding banners or signs that will be provided. Clothing is almost anything!! Use common sense and don't wear 'club' outfits or gym clothes. Just wardrobe for a Political Rally...We will pay CASH of $75 at end of shoot."

This stunt is almost laughable—but the environmental problems the area is facing are no joke. According to Earth Justice:
At present, polluters are legally discharging 300 tons of phosphorous over the legal limit, and the legislature is proposing a plan that will only reduce pollution by 100 tons over 10 years.
Here's a video of the "protest," complete with a bizarre stunt lighting fake money on fire in a barbeque.
Way to go, France!
France will ban excessively thin models and expose modeling agents and the fashion houses that hire them to possible fines and even jail, under a new law passed on Friday.

France joins Italy, Spain and Israel which all adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013.

How exactly will they determine what is "too thin"?
"The activity of model is banned for any person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is lower than levels proposed by health authorities and decreed by the ministers of health and labor," the bill said.

The lawmaker behind the bill previously said models would have to present a medical certificate showing a BMI of at least 18, about 121 pounds for a height of 5.7 feet, before being hired for a job and for a few weeks afterwards.

The law, passed through lower house of parliament, could result in six months of prison and a fine of around $82,000 (€75,000) for agencies in violation. It will also crack down on websites promoting audiences to "seek excessive thinness by encouraging eating restrictions for a prolonged period of time, resulting in risk of mortality or damage to health"—violation of which could also result in prison or large fines.

According to research at the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, approximately 1 percent of adolescent females suffer from anorexia, and eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality of all mental disorders.

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