The exclusionary policies of the Scouts has been an issue for decades. We wrote about it here. Those who have advocated for greater inclusivity are responding to the announcement, saying it's a step in the right direction, but it fails to go far enough.
The Courage Campaign, for instance, notes the following:
Statement by Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of CourageCampaign.org on the Boy Scout’s announcement today:
"Despite the efforts of a vocal minority, from politics to business to culture, we are seeing a rapid and historic shift towards equality for all. The Boy Scouts are now beginning to catching up with this reality. This is yet another step in the right direction towards ending discrimination against LGBT youth across this country. Yet, the Boy Scouts need to go further and end all discrimination within their organization. Discrimination and hatred have no place in a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice and equality."
President Barack Obama has signed a bill that will provide $65.5 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Funds to locally governments that apply. Locally, $9.6 million (match included) has already been requested for mitigation on the Waldo Canyon burn scar, which is expected to produce dangerous floods. (Read more about that topic here.)
Colorado's U.S. senators and representatives had been seeking the funding since last year, but had not been able to get approval until recently. Assuming Colorado Springs gets the funding, more mitigation projects will be done to prevent flooding in neighborhoods and commercial areas, which is expected to be a huge problem in the summer months.
Projects, which can lessen but not eliminate flood risk, will take time. Flood risk will still remain high for years to come.
The release from Sen. Michael Bennet's office:
President Signs Wildfire Recovery Assistance into Law
Emergency Watershed Protection Funds Will Help Protect Drinking Water, Restore Watersheds
Denver, CO — President Obama today signed into law a bill that includes $65.5 million in resources for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, which will help Colorado communities recovering from last summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon and High Park fires. The bill will fund the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year.
“This is a big win for Colorado and represents a strong team effort from local and federal officials. Now our communities in Colorado will finally be able to complete vital recovery projects that will protect drinking water and watershed infrastructure,” Bennet said. “While we continue to repair and rebuild from the devastation of last season’s fires, we must also turn our focus to preparing for what may be another difficult fire season. We need a strong federal commitment to be ready to respond emergencies quickly and to assist communities and victims as they recover. Homeowners can also use this time to take every possible precaution to help mitigate any potential wildfire damage to their property and to their lives.”
The federal EWP program is designed to support efforts to restore eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. The $65.5 million would cover the nationwide backlog of EWP recovery projects stemming from major disasters.
Bennet visited the Greeley-Bellvue Water Treatment Plant in northern Colorado in January to highlight the need for federal resources to protect drinking water in the wake of last summer’s wildfires. During the visit, Bennet and local leaders from Greeley, Fort Collins, and Larimer County discussed the region’s work to preserve and protect watersheds. Last month, he visited the Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs, which burned to the ground during last year’s Waldo Canyon wildfire and embodies the challenges that Colorado communities across the state face as they work to recover from a devastating wildfire season.
Federal resources for the recovery projects through the EWP program were secured in a bipartisan bill passed in the Senate last year, but the House chose not to take up that bill prior to adjourning its session on January 2, and the bill expired. In the 113th Congress, House leadership drafted a new bill that excluded resources for Colorado and other states hit by disasters around the country. The President has since signed that bill into law to get much-needed assistance to states affected by Hurricane Sandy.
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Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis are the proud parents of five kids: a 9-year-old girl, a 2-year-old girl, and 6-year-old triplets.
When the triplets were born, it appeared they had two boys, Max and Coy, and one girl, Lily. But by the time the kids were 18 months old, that equation was being called into question.
While Max was the typical boy — his current obsession is dinosaurs — Coy liked princess dresses and high heels. The Mathises tried to appease Coy, buying pink boys' clothes, but by the time the child entered school it was becoming clear that this wasn't just a phase.
Coy threw fits when asked to put on boys' clothes to go on outings. The child was teased by peers when she insisted that she was a girl. One day, Coy came home completely devastated that her teacher had moved her from the "girls' line" to the "boys' line" during a classroom activity.
"She came home and said, 'My teacher doesn’t even know that I’m a girl!'” Kathryn remembers.
That was the last straw. The family headed to the doctor and the psychologist, who told them that they needed to let Coy be herself. Given that Coy had always acted in a feminine matter, no one in the family was particularly surprised or upset.
“I don't think there was any kind of loss of a son," Kathryn says. "We just gained an awesome daughter."
While some would say that 6 is very young to go through such a situation, Kathryn notes that discussions about gender-reassignment surgery or pills that can delay puberty (and the changes to the body that come with it) are still a long, long way off. Right now, they're just letting Coy be Coy.
“I just think back to when I was a child and no one had to tell me I was a girl," Kathryn says. "I knew I was a girl.”
Besides, Kathryn notes, Coy is a triplet, and though her other children were raised under the exact same conditions, neither of the others was transgendered. This, she believes, is innate to Coy.
So in September 2011, the family met with school administrators at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain to discuss the situation. Kathryn remembers being blown away at how accepting they were of her child.
That year, Coy transitioned to being a girl. She wore girls' clothes, stood in girls' lines and went to the girls' bathroom. It was the happiest Kathryn had ever seen her child. Coy became bubbly and enthusiastic, and her grades shot up. She also made friends who were accepting of her differences. Parents were equally understanding.
So Kathryn says it was a big surprise when school officials contacted her in December to say that Coy would no longer be allowed to use the girls' restroom. Kathryn says she was told that there had been no problems with Coy, but school officials were concerned that problems would crop up later when Coy was in middle school and high school, and they didn't want to set a precedent.
Kathryn called a lawyer, hopeful the situation could be resolved without involving Coy. She asked the school district to allow Coy to keep using the girls' restroom while the lawyers worked out the issue. The district refused. In response, Kathryn has pulled all of her children out of school and is home schooling them.
She's also taking legal action.
Tomorrow, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund will hold a press conference at the Capitol Building to announce the filing of a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on Coy's behalf. It will be the first case looked at under the Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act involving bathroom use by a transgender person.
In the meantime, Coy is eager to get back to school. She has been mostly separated from her friends, and Kathryn says her daughter is lonely.
In the last few days, however, Coy has had plenty of company — from the media.
Kathryn says she was initially hesitant to bring her story forward, but she eventually felt it was the right thing to do. Coy has appeared on Katie Couric's show and on CNN, and is expected to be featured heavily in local media.
Here's a release that went out Tuesday that promises to up the profile of Coy's story.
Colorado Family to Announce Complaint Alleging School Discrimination Against Transgender Child
Legal Complaint Alleges Six-Year-Old Transgender Girl Denied Access to Girls' Bathrooms at School
DENVER, CO - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, February 27, on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building to announce the filing of a Complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who has been barred from using the girls’ bathrooms at her elementary school. For the past year, Coy Mathis, a first-grader at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO, has used the girls’ bathrooms. In mid-December 2012, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed her parents that Coy would be prevented from using the girls’ bathrooms after winter break. The District ordered Coy to use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse’s bathroom. This is the first case to challenge a restriction on a transgender person’s bathroom use under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Wednesday, February 27, 11:00 am
WHERE: West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building, 200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado
WHO: TLDEF Executive Director Michael D. Silverman; Kathryn Mathis, Jeremy Mathis, six-year-old Coy Mathis and siblings, community members.
WHY: “We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student ,” said Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother. “Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender.”
“By forcing Coy to use a different bathroom than all the other girls, Coy’s school is targeting her for stigma, bullying and harassment,” said Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director, and one of Coy’s lawyers. “Through the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Coloradans have made it clear that they want all Colorado children to have a fair and equal chance in school,” he added. “Coy’s school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness.”
In a report out this morning, USA Today breaks down the potential impact of sequestration, or a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts, state-by state. Colorado certainly sees a big threat, with more than 4,800 Army-related jobs affected (either furloughed or lost) and another 6,000-plus civilian Air Force jobs furloughed.
In a small bit of consolation, though, those numbers are markedly lower than some of those bandied about during the first sequester scare, of a couple months ago.
The cuts are scheduled to be enacted March 1, unless Congress can find a way to avert them.
To see how Colorado’s Army situation stacks up to that of other states, you can scroll through the budget-cut breakdown on the left of the map at the top of the page. More detailed Army information, as well as Air Force numbers, follow after the USA Today story itself.
Across the world today, a movement is sending women into the streets to dance, sing and call for an end to violence against women. The site for the movement, called One Billion Rising, shows crowds dancing in Pittsburgh, New Delhi, Sudan, Indonesia, Atlanta, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other locales.
They'll be dancing in Denver today too, if you're feeling the love. The party starts at 5 p.m.
While the flash mob is a lively occasion, the cause it's fighting for is grave. One Billion Rising notes that, "One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime."
Do you like coffee?
Do you like the National Rifle Association?
Have you ever wished that there was a way to combine these two likes? Now you can. The folks behind a company called Second Amendment Coffee are advertising that if you buy your coffee through them, they will donate 3 percent of your purchase to the NRA.
Second Amendment Coffee is a tiny, patriotic, entrepreneurial venture. It was started on a shoe-string budget by a displaced professional in an economic recession. Similar to group-funding platforms such as IndieGoGo.com or Kickstarter.com, the button below allows you to Safely & Securely contribute financially to the growth of Second Amendment Coffee.
The company, which is based in Georgia, also has a Facebook page.
And, since we're on the subject, here's Alex Jones, the "paleoconservative" radio show host and gun-rights advocate, yelling at journalist Piers Morgan. Jones is a supporter of a petition to deport the British Morgan, after Morgan made his gun-regulation beliefs known.
Since I'm a pessimist in my early 30s, I'm not that excited that the Social Security Administration is moving into the 21st century.
I highly doubt I'll ever see a Social Security check.
But for those who are older (or more optimistic), a chance to understand your benefits or apply to receive them sans the stacks of bureaucratic paperwork will likely be appealing. So here's the good news: The Social Security Administration has discovered the Internet.
A new portal will allow you to check out where you stand and apply for SS benefits and related government goodies like Medicare.
Social Security Announces New Online Services Available with a my Social Security Account
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced the agency is expanding the services available with a my Social Security account, a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits. More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can now access their benefit verification letter, payment history, and earnings record instantly using their online account. Social Security beneficiaries also can change their address and start or change direct deposit information online.
“We are making it even easier for people to do their business with us from the comfort of their home, office, or library,” Commissioner Astrue said. “I encourage people of all ages to take advantage of our award-winning online services and check out the new features available through an online my Social Security account.”
Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients with a my Social Security account can go online and get an official benefit verification letter instantly. The benefit verification letter serves as proof of income to secure loans, mortgages and other housing, and state or local benefits. Additionally, people use the letter to prove current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status, and age. People can print or save a customized letter.
Social Security processed nearly nine million requests for benefit verification letters in the past year. This new online service allows people to conduct business with Social Security without having to visit an office or make a phone call, and very often wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. It also will reduce the time spent by employees completing these requests and free them to focus on other workloads.
People age 18 and older can sign up for an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Once there, they must be able to provide information about themselves and answers to questions that only they are likely to know. After completing the secure verification process, people can create a my Social Security account with a unique user name and password to access their information.
People age 18 and older who are not receiving benefits can sign up for a my Social Security account to get a personalized online Social Security Statement. The online Statement provides eligible workers with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information, and estimates of future benefits they can use to plan for their retirement. In addition, the portal also includes links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability and Medicare.
“Given our significantly reduced funding, we have to find innovative ways to continue to meet the needs of the American people without compromising service,” said Commissioner Astrue. “These new enhancements will allow us to provide faster service to more people in more places.”
For more information, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Sen. Mark Udall wants more money to fight fires and mitigate afterward. The Democrat from Colorado has teamed up with Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, to introduce an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance that would add $653 million to the agency's budget.
Given the continuing drought, fires in the west, including Colorado, are only going to get worse as time goes by.
Udall already paired with Colorado's other Democratic senator, Michael Bennet, in October to push for a study of the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires in Colorado last summer. Both claimed hundreds of homes. We reported on that letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, which is dated three days after we raised questions to both senators about whether they would seek some kind of investigation, here.
Now, Udall is seeking additional funding to be used for pre-positioning ground crews, hot shots, and air support in places where wildfire risk is high, Udall and Tester say in a press release, which also states:
The funds also would be available for the acquisition of additional large air tankers and the removal of hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface, the fire-prone areas between cities and the backcountry.
The United States faced the third worst wildfire season in the nation's history, with more than 9.2 million acres burned, including record-setting blazes in Colorado and other parts of the West. The federal government, however, will enter the 2013 fire season with only eight large air tankers compared to 44 in 2000.
The federal fire-management budget also has failed to keep pace with the cost of actually fighting wildfires, forcing the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to dip into accounts set aside for other purposes, such as watershed restoration and rangeland management.
Udall and Tester's proposed amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance restores $653 million to the Forest Service's Wildland Fire Management Account, which funds wildland fire preparedness, suppression, hazardous fuels reduction, fire research and development, and state fire assistance. The amendment would increase the budget request for the Wildland Fire Management fund to the projected median cost of the fire season, $1.584 billion.
Read the entire press release here.
When the crowd alternates hollering out "Amen" with "Whoohoo," you know this ain't grandpa's Catholic mass.
But then Sister Simone Campbell, the 67-year-old nun who's touring the U.S. right now in a white vehicle labeled "Nuns on the Bus," probably isn't your Catholic grandpa's habit, either.
In fact, Sister Simone is a bit of a rock-star, left-leaning radical. The executive director of Network, a 40-year-old progressive organization of nuns, is featured this month in Rolling Stone's story "The Sisters Crusade," a piece that opens with her struggle to sit down with former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to talk about the national budget.
The bus tour stopped by Colorado Springs' Meadows Park Community Center at lunchtime today with Sister Simone at the helm, who pledged a continued fight for those less fortunate. Much of her discussion had to do with sharing the word about The Faithful Budget:
A collaboration of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities and organizations, The Faithful Budget promotes comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that will “protect the common good, values each individual and his or her livelihood, and helps lift the burden on the poor, rather than increasing it while shielding the wealthiest from any additional sacrifice.”
No matter that President Obama has won a second term — "we have a bit more work to do," she said to a group of about 75 people. "The election is over, and we might all think, 'Oh praise God we don't have to watch those ads anymore.' But the fact is, our work has just begun. Because tomorrow Congress reconvenes, God help us."
If the Good Father hasn't heard them yet, at least now they've got a little extra media behind them.
"Heaven only knows what happens after Rolling Stone," Sister Simone told the Indy after her presentation. "It's amazing."
This one should come as no surprise.
As you can see from the map below, the organization identified four instances of FOX News pundits and the like campaigning here in Colorado Springs.
In October, Monica Crowley was present for an Americans for Prosperity rally in the parking lot of KVOR.
Last June, Karl Rove was the keynote speaker at the local GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. There were protests for that one.
And finally, in June of this year, Michelle Malkin spoke at the Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum's infamous fund-raiser.
If you haven't died from shock, it is worth pointing out that the Democrats have tried to lure "news" personalties themselves. Remember the debacle surrounding Peak Dems' attempt to bring the shouting mouth of MSNBC's Ed Schultz to town?
Schultz was all ready to go — until someone at his network informed him, as he said at the time, that "this is a fund raiser and it violates NBC News Standards and Practices policy manual. I'm allowed to speak at conventions pre-approved by MSNBC but not political fund raisers. I [am] deeply sorry as this is my mistake."
News standards and practices — who would've guessed?
Update, Friday, Sept. 21, 10:35 A.M.: Never mind.
Chick-fil-A has apparently decided that "kiss-ins" and protests are more disruptive than backing from the former governor of Arkansas is, uh, good, so the Georgia company — or, rather, its nonprofit WinShape Foundation — will no longer be giving money to hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage and, yes, Focus on the Family.
Of course, all this is coming from a press release issued by the Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBT advocacy group that says they received a letter from WinShape's senior director of real estate, who wrote, “The WinShape Foundations [sic] is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”
When the actual Chick-fil-A company was asked for comment, they were so excited about the new direction that they wouldn't confirm anything, only referring reporters back to its generically supportive July statement.
The whole affair apparently stems from negotiations taking place with Chicago alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, who had earlier said he would not support a Chick-fil-A in his ward. The statement is, I guess, meant to be a new direction for the company, but as the Chicago Tribune points out: "The company made nearly identical pledges in a July 19 Facebook post that went up even before Moreno took issue with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage."
Four people died in the attack on the American embassy in Libya. And while we still aren't clear on exactly who was behind the attack, or what the motivation was, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has taken this as an opportunity to criticize the president.
Cause what else would the partisan congressman from our 5th Congressional District do?
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed in Libya. This was an evil and unjustified act of violence. Like many Americans, I am concerned about the Obama Administration’s policy of leading from behind on world affairs. The American people deserve stronger leadership from the White House. We need an administration that will project strength even into troubled areas of the world.”
Nowhere in the press release does Lamborn give even a hint of what leading from the front on foreign affairs would look like.
This is a big moment for Congressman Doug Lamborn.
Certainly the Republican has seen many of his bills pass through the Republican-controlled House, but this is the first time that one actually stands a chance to make it through the Democrat-controlled Senate — thanks to the Senate sponsorship of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
From the press release:
H.R. 4073 is supported by the Colorado Springs City Council, the Manitou Springs City Council and Mayor, the Colorado Springs Mayor, and the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company.
“This bill will remove a centuries-old legal cloud that has been hanging over a portion of the popular hiking trail. Hikers will be able to use it confidently knowing that the trail's safety and beauty will be protected. It will ensure that the Forest Service can professionally manage and maintain the trail. The Manitou Incline is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in the country and loved by locals and tourists alike. It is a treasure unique to Pikes Peak and we want to ensure it is kept up for generations to come." — Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
H.R. 4073, is technical and narrow in scope. It specifically addresses a right-of-way issue with the railway company. It allows for the U.S. Forest Service to accept the railway's relinquishment of their right-of-way. This is necessary based on an 1875 federal law.
Senator Michael Bennett has introduced companion legislation on the Senate side, S.2341. The bill must pass both the House and the Senate and be signed by the president to become law.
Lamborn explains the need for the bill:
Well, congratulations, as today is an auspicious day in the career of Dr. No.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the Texas Republican's bill to increase the transparency of the Federal Reserve. With bipartisan support, the measure passed 327-98.
For Paul, the path to getting his bill approved in the House has been a long, and often lonely one. He first introduced the bill to a skeptical House a decade ago. While his efforts were ignored at the time, the call to audit the Fed has gained support from mainstream Republicans and Democrats.
Our own Rep. Doug Lamborn voted in support of the measure, H.R. 459. He issued a press release trumpeting the vote:
Congress has the constitutional authority over the nation’s money supply, which it has delegated to the Federal Reserve. However, under current law, Congress is prohibited from looking into how the Fed manages that delegated authority.
“Since the beginning of our nation’s current financial crisis in 2008, the Federal Reserve has tripled its balance sheet through an unprecedented series of bailouts and economic interventions. Much of the Fed’s activities are off limits to Congress for review.
“This is unacceptable. H.R. 459 will open up the Fed’s books for a thorough audit. The American taxpayer deserves to know what is going on with their money.”— Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
But does the bill's passage through the House mean it's destined for the president's pen? It's got to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate first, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, appears unlikely.
A senior Democratic Senate leadership aide said there are no plans to bring the bill up in the Senate, but didn’t rule out an attempt by Republicans to seek a vote on the measure as part of another piece of legislation. The Senate would be almost certain to defeat it given the Democratic majority in the chamber.
As if we needed another lesson in just how damningly accurate a certain expression is — the one about things "spreading like wildfire."
Boise's KTVB reports that Colorado Springs resident and Waldo Canyon Fire evacuee Krista McCann had been heading to her father's home in Oregon when she lost control of her Subaru on Interstate 84 in eastern Idaho. After salvaging whatever belongings she could from her burning car, McCann told KTVB she noticed the adjacent field was burning.
"I was pretty devastated," McCann reportedly said, rather understandably. The subsequent wildfire burnt 2,000 acres before being declared fully controlled last Wednesday.
You can take in KTVB's full story here.