U.S. News

02.23.14

Fringe Factor: More Carbon Dioxide, Please

A Utah legislator says double the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, an Idaho bill would allow doctors to refuse service to gays and single mothers, and an ex-border patrol vigilante is running for California governor.

Utah Rep: More Carbon Dioxide, Please

Utah state Rep. Jerry Anderson wants to redefine the term “air contaminants” in proposed state legislation limiting regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. In fact, the retired science teacher argued at a committee hearing this week that, contrary to credible climate research, we could and probably should double the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. “We are short of carbon dioxide for the needs of the plants,” Anderson said. “Concentrations reached 600 parts per million at the time of the dinosaurs and they did quite well.” Joe Andrade, a retired University of Utah engineering professor countered Anderson’s claims, telling the Salt Lake Tribune that such carbon levels may not be toxic to humans but would be toxic to the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans and warming the planet.

Idaho Bill Allows Doctors to Refuse Gays, Single Mothers

Idaho state Rep. Lynn Luker has introduced legislation allowing doctors to deny gay people and unwed mothers medical treatment, allowing teachers to deny educating gay students, and allowing psychologists to provide faith-based counseling all under the argument that they are exercising their religious beliefs. “We’ve seen the government attempt to come in and dictate who a church should hire for their personnel,” Luker told Idaho’s House State Affairs Committee, which unanimously approved the bill. “We’ve seen the government mandate health care which requires businesses and individuals to support paying for ... contraceptions against their religious feelings.” Other states, such as Arizona, have introduced similar bills following the New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling last year in favor of a gay couple who sued a photographer for refusing to photograph their nuptials.

Ex-Border Patrol Vigilante Runs for California Governor

One of the only candidates challenging incumbent California Governor Jerry Brown so far is a Tea Party favorite and former Minuteman border patrol leader who last year was detained at the LA/Ontario airport for having a loaded gun in his carry-on. Republican assemblyman Tim Donnelly officially kicked off his 2014 gubernatorial campaign at a furniture factory in November, declaring, “I want to let Jerry Brown know that ... not only are we coming for him, but the people of the state of California are coming for their freedom back.” But before he made his big announcement this week, Donnelly had already released one of the strangest campaign ads this year—if not ever. In it, the cowboy hat-clad assemblyman derides Gov. Brown’s ban on lead ammunition, uses the word “sexiest” twice (first, to describe his wife as the “sexiest woman in California,” and then in pledging to make California “the sexiest place on the planet to do business.”) The icing on the cake, though, is Cuban-American singer Maria Conchita, who stands beside Donnelly with her dog Tequila, translating his words into Spanish and declaring, “He has big ones ... and he is angry.”

NY Senator Wants His Corruption Trial Delayed

You’ve got to hand it to Malcolm A. Smith: at least he’s determined. The New York state senator decided to proceed with his re-election campaign even after he was charged with attempted bribery to gain a spot on the New York City mayoral ballot. Now the Queens Democrat has asked a judge to push back his corruption trial, so that it doesn’t ruin his chances of re-election. The office of the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York has already said it opposes Smith’s request, which “frustrates the public’s interest in a timely resolution of the pending criminal charges.” But, hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?