Think Progress

7 Great Things That Happened in 2015

Because Progress Never Stops!

The end of 2015 is almost here! As we near our holiday break, we’d like to take the time to highlight our favorite 7 progressive victories of 2015:

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WATCH: Chris Christie Clashes With Veteran Nurse Over Medical Marijuana

At the second Republican presidential debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claimed that he’s “not against medical marijuana.” But his exchange with a registered cannabis nurse this week seems to suggest otherwise.

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10 Things Conservatives Rarely Acknowledge About Reagan

Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to unite the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.

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Federal Prisons Throwing Inmates In ‘Little Guantanamo’ - And Don’t Have To Say Why

They’re known to many as “Gitmo North” or “Little Guantanamo”: restrictive units in federal prisons in Illinois and Indiana that cut off inmates from almost all contact with their families and loved ones. Prisoners get two 15-minute phone calls a week. When their family and friends travel for their two 4-hour visits a month, they are not allowed to touch each other. No hugs. No arms around shoulders. Just a phone call on two sides of a thick plastic window. The conversation is monitored by guards, who could stop it at any moment if inmates speak in a language other than English, use hand signals, or break another one of the many visiting rules.

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10 Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage (with Charts)

There have been rumors lately that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is trying to broker a smaller minimum wage increase. The offer is a non-starter for Democratic leaders, and would in fact lock low-income workers into poverty wages for the indefinite future. Here at CAP Action, we agree. The Senate’s plan to vote on a minimum wage increase has been pushed back several times, but what matters most is that it stays at $10.10. Here are ten reasons why raising the minimum wage to $10.10 is the right thing for America’s workers and for our economy:

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Why the Crisis in Ukraine Isn't the Start of a New Cold War

While it might have been nice to hear the Secretary of State say on Meet The Press Sunday that “you just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” that characterization of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine is not the kind of aggressive military response that’s going to reassure those who see this as an issue of strong Putin versus feckless Obama. To people inclined to condemn American “weakness” in the face of Russian aggression, John Kerry’s condemnation of Russia’s military incursion into Crimea might sound like more empty words.

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Homeowner Who Shot Elderly Man With Alzheimer’s Won’t Be Charged

The Walker County, Ga., District Attorney said Friday he will not press charges against the homeowner who shot and killed an elderly man wandering on his property. 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook, who has Alzheimer’s disease, had been walking around the Chickamauga area, a rural neighborhood in north Georgia, when he walked onto Joe Hendrix’s property at around 2:30 a.m. Hendrix’s fiancée called 911 and a deputy was dispatched. But before he arrived, Hendrix took matters into his own hands, walking out the front door and firing three or four shots at Westbrook, one of which hit him in the chest.

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Texas Cops Compete to Steal Homeless People's Signs for Fun

Months after their conduct was discovered, two police officers were disciplined for making a game of stealing signs from homeless people in Midland, Texas — and many believe the cops’ punishment was not harsh enough to fit the offense.

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Under Overwhelming Pressure Jan Brewer Does the Right Thing Vetoing Anti-Gay Bill in AZ

After a week of national backlash, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed religious beliefs to be used to justify discrimination against LGBT people and others. Explaining her veto, Brewer said, “I call them like I see them despite the cheers or boos from the crowd.” She added that the bill does not address a specific concern and that she knows of no examples of how religious liberty has been under attack.

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Oops! Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Story While Testifying Against Pot Legalization

Testifying against bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana, the police chief for Annapolis, Md., cited a fake news story that reported 37 people died on the first day Colorado’s recreational marijuana law went into effect.

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TED Talks Don't Cover Abortion Because They Say It Doesn't Count as a Human Rights Issue

Editorial Note:  After The Nation's Jessica Valenti first reported that TED Talks had featured no talks on abortion, saying that it did not fit into “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights,” TED staff claimed that the quote from Content Director Kelly Stoetzel was taken out of context and the organization was “welcome talks and conversations on abortion as a social justice issue.” In response Valenti released a screen shot of the email exchange between herself and Stoetzel to demonstrate that the quote was presented in the correct context.

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How One Billionaire’s Idea To Give Rich People More Votes Is Already In The Works

Asked for an idea that could “change the world,” billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins told an audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Thursday that Americans shouldn’t be able to vote unless they pay taxes and that the wealthy should have more votes.

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Why You Should Care that CVS Will Stop Selling Cigarettes - Even If You Don't Smoke

CVS/Pharmacy announced on Wednesday that its stores will discontinue cigarette sales by October 1 of this year. CVS Caremark, the parent company of the pharmacy chain, predicts that the move could lose the company $2 billion in revenue for 2014, but won’t affect its earnings forecast.

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Sick! Border Patrol Activity Teaches Children to Shoot Immigrant-Like Effigies

Controversial photographs from a recent Border Patrol event show agents teaching children to aim and shoot a paintball gun at a human-shaped target. Immigrant activists have accused Border Patrol of using this activity to encourage children how to shoot immigrants in an area where migrants have died.

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School Shootings Are Happening Every Other Day So Far in 2014

Last year was supposed to be a year of action to curb gun violence in our schools. But three weeks into the new year, statistics suggest that the problem could actually be worsening.

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Florida Man Hops Fence to Shoot and Kill 21-year-old in a Hoodie - Then Claims Self Defense

On Thursday, an Orlando man shot and killed a 21-year-old who was fleeing his yard. He didn’t appear to be stealing anything, according to witness accounts. He didn’t appear to be threatening anybody. But Claudius Smith said he feared he was a burglar, followed him over the fence to a neighboring apartment complex, where he shot him after he said he felt threatened, according to a confession documented in an Orlando Police Department report. Smith even said he feared victim Ricardo Sanes was armed “because his pants were falling down” and his hands were in his hoodie pockets, according to a report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

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Obesity Rates Are Falling Among The Affluent And Well-Educated, But Rising Among The Poor

Several encouraging reports from the last two years indicate that America is making some headway in the fight against youth obesity. But a new study by Harvard researchers suggests that the gains have been economically stratified — and the obesity rate is actually increasing for poor adolescents, even as it falls among teenagers with affluent and more-educated parents.

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The 6 Most Terrifying Facts About the Chemical Spill Contaminating West Virginia’s Drinking Water

On Thursday, an estimated 300,000 residents of nine counties in West Virginia were told they could not use or drink their tap water after a chemical used to wash coal of impurities spilled from a holding tank into the Elk River. The spill prompted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to declare a state of emergency, and 9-1-1 received more than 1,000 calls in the hours after a spill, with four or five people transported to the hospital by ambulance. According to the National Library of Medicine, repeated or prolonged exposure to the chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, can “cause headaches, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and can also cause a skin rash.”

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W. Virginia Declares State of Emergency After Huge Chemical Spill

Residents of nine counties in West Virginia have been told not to use or drink their water after a chemical used by the coal industry spilled into the Elk River on Thursday. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency as more than 100,000 customers, or 300,000 people, are without safe drinking water.

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The 'Polar Vortex' Has Already Left More than 20 Dead

The icy winds and plunging temperatures across the nation this week have already claimed at least 21 lives, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday night. The so-called “polar vortex” comes on the heels of a recent snowstorm that killed 16 people last week, making this winter a particularly deadly one already.

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Maryville Teen Rape Victim Attempts Suicide After Cyberbullying

Daisy Coleman, the teenage girl at the center of the controversial Maryville rape case that came to light in October, has been hospitalized after attempting to take her own life on Sunday night. Her mother, Melinda, told a local Fox News affiliate that Daisy experienced an onslaught of cyberbullying after attending a party this past weekend.

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99 Percent Of Police Brutality Reports In Central New Jersey Never See The Light Of Day

Just one percent of complaints about excessive use of force by police are actually acted upon in central New Jersey, according to an investigation by Courier News and the Home News Tribune.

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Ha! Voter Suppression Group's Own Slanted Poll Finds Widespread Lack of Concern About Voter Fraud

new poll by a pro-voter suppression group asked 1,000 American adults about the issue of voter fraud in the United States. And despite their arguably slanted question, just 36 percent of those polled agreed with the group’s premise that it is a “major problem.”

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6 Things You Should Know About Buying Pot In Colorado

January 1 marked a high point for Colorado’s Amendment 64 — the first day recreational marijuana businesses can legally operate in the state. A little more than a year after Colorado passed its ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, individuals can for the first time sell, produce, and purchase marijuana legally, even without a doctor’s prescription. But to both those eager to light up and those fearful of the consequences, it is worth remembering that there remain more restrictions on the marijuana industry than there are allowances, which proponents hope will better control the health and safety of the industry. With Colorado’s law, federal law, and local law all affecting regulation, here are some key facts about Wednesday’s roll-out:

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Billionaire Founder of Home Depot Worried Pope Francis Doesn't Get Rich People

Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of Home Depot, is worried Pope Francis’ recent criticism of the wealthy and capitalism will be a “hurdle” for rich donors.

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Federal Obamacare Enrollments Soar Past One Million Mark Through Christmas Eve

Over 1.1 million Americans enrolled in private health plans through Healthcare.gov between October 1 and Christmas Eve, the Obama administration announced on Sunday. That includes 975,000 enrollments in December alone as the beleaguered Obamacare website was relaunched at the beginning of the month and Americans faced a December 23 deadline to sign up for plans that take effect on New Year’s Day.

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'Occupy' Group Houses Homeless Couple for Christmas - Plans to House More in 'Tiny Houses'

For many couples, the thought of living together in a 96-square-foot house sounds awful. But for Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra, it’s a Christmas miracle.

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10 Most Appalling Failures of the American Justice System This Year

Every year, stories emerge that serve as a reminder that the American system of justice means injustice for too many, with some receiving little or no punishment for egregious offenses, while others receive harsh or faulty punishment for much less. Here are some of the worst injustices of 2013:

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