Wiretap: Big box and totally gay; arctic drilling; clawing back FEMA cash

If you want to understand where America is now on LGBT issues, look to Walmart, which has now become a leading voice against discrimination and a major player in forcing the Arkansas governor to ask the Arkansas legislature to rewrite its so-called “religious freedom” law. Via the New York Times.

Rich on ‘religious freedom’

It’s a little harder to find Frank Rich these days. OK, it’s a lot harder. But the former New York Times columnist does still write for New York magazine, and if you check out the Web site, you can occasionally find him there. He’s there today, and what do you think he has to say about the new anti-gay laws? He says they’re a disaster for the GOP.

Selling out the arctic to Shell Oil

President Obama’s Department of the Interior has moved toward opening up to drilling the pristine, turbulent, unpredictable arctic seas, which are also home to endangered wildlife and indigenous human communities. This was the development lobbied for by Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner on behalf of Shell Oil from the moment he took his seat in Congress in 2011. But don’t count on Gardner to stop falsely painting the Obama administration as radically environmentalist and willing to sacrifice the economy for the climate. *Note: Didn’t the country vote in a landslide in 2008 against the “drill baby drill” campaign platform?

Recoupment v. clawback

FEMA mailed letters to around 250 Colorado households asking for their flood recovery money back. On average, the agency is seeking $3,800 from each, insisting it’s an honest effort to prevent tax dollars from being wasted on folks who don’t really need it. FEMA calls it recoupment; U.S. Senator Cory Gardner called it clawback. Via the Gazette.

Weed labeling

A bill that would put warning labels for pregnant women on marijuana products advanced at the Capitol on Tuesday. Detractors say there’s not enough research on the matter to justify scaring consumers, so the revised bill adds the qualifier “potential” to “risks caused by marijuana.” Ultimately, the state Health Department would come up with the actual labels. Via the Durango Herald. 

Proscribing panhandling

In its latest lawsuit aimed at panhandling laws in Colorado cities, the ACLU settled with Fort Collins on Monday, getting them to drop certain provisions, like the ones that bar panhandlers from approaching seniors or people using ATMs or waiting at bus stops. Mayor Stu Fraser says he was surprised by the suit because Fort Collins was trying to prevent harassment, not ban peaceful panhandling. Telluride is currently considering similar measures that the ACLU has already objected to. Via the Aurora Sentinel. 

Thanks Obamacare

Has Obamacare helped reduce “preventable” hospital deaths by as many as 50,000, as Obama claimed? The skeptics at the Washington Post’s Fact Checker say the number seems to be true.

The other McDonald’s

The McDonald’s decision to raise pay for its workers by roughly a dollar an hour is a big deal, and certainly made, in part, as a reaction to the Fight for $15 movement. But it would be a lot bigger deal if it affected more than 10 percent of its restaurants. Most McDonald’s restaurants are franchises which determine their own pay scale. Will most of them follow the company lead? Via Politico.

Fox News? Who cares.

How the Obama presidency made The Daily Show obsolete. As Ezra Klein writes in Vox, the news now belongs to the Internet, and particularly to social media — read: Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed — where identity politics go viral.


The worth of an elephant? Our consciences are stirred, and not just by the horrors of poachers in search of ivory. Via the New Yorker.

[Photo: One of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence by Torback Hopper.]