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7 Most Absurd Things America's Kids Are Learning Thanks to the Conservative Gutting of Public Education

absurd teachings of the Christian rightConservatives are masters at using distortion and subterfuge to sell people on things they would never buy if properly labeled. Nowhere is this more evident than in the arena of “school choice” -- a conservative euphemism for "gutting public education from the inside out."

According to its major proponents, like the late Milton “Pinochet es mi amigo” Friedman, “school choice gives parents the freedom to choose their children’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools to better serve families' needs.” Sounds lovely! But, it turns out, there are plenty of well-documented problems with school choice, especially when it comes to the school voucher system, which provides families with public funds to send their children to private -- often religious -- schools.

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Gay military veterans group to march in Boston St Patrick's Day parade

Boston Mayor walshA marriage equality group says Boston’s St Patrick’s Day parade is easing its two-decade ban on gay organisations.

A MassEquality official said on Saturday that a group of gay military veterans will be able to march under its banner this year, as part of a tentative deal brokered by the Boston mayor, Martin Walsh. But marchers from the gay-rights group will not be allowed to wear clothing or hold signs that refer to sexual orientation.

Negotiators will work out final details in the coming week.

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A Giant Union Is Planning to Protest the Oscars

Union to protest OscarsThe Oscars air Sunday, but this year, the stars of the silver screen will be faced with picket lines and protesters.

That's because the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 2.1 million service workers around the world, plans to protest the Academy's decision to hire Security Industry Specialists (SIS)—a company the union accuses of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and worker intimidation—to provide security for awards night. (The company denies the allegations.)

"We don't think [the Academy] should be using a company that has this kind of record," SEIU campaign director Sam Kehinde explains. "All we are trying to do is make sure the public knows about it and the client knows."

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It isn't just about marijuana in Colorado; hemp farming also is taking off

Hemp growingThere will be no lines around the block. There will be no TV news crews nosing in for interviews. There will be no pot-puffing customers celebrating their newfound freedom.

But the dawn of legal hemp in Colorado, which begins Saturday, is as significant — if not more so — as were the first sales of recreational marijuana two months ago.  Saturday marks the first day farmers interested in growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes or for research and development can register with the Colorado Department of Agriculture to do so legally.

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5 Things Kentucky Could Spend $73 Million On Instead Of A Fake Noah's Ark

Noah's Ark Theme Park, KyCreation Museum founder Ken Ham announced Thursday that enough money had been raised to begin construction of a 510-foot replica of Noah's Ark as part of a multimillion-dollar Ark Encounter project.

The Ark Encounter will sit on 800 acres of land in Williamstown, Ky., and will be developed “in phases over many years,” according to a press release from Ham's Answers in Genesis organization. The first phase alone will cost an estimated $73 million.

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Miami’s homeless stripped of some rights as judge accepts settlement

Miami's homelessU.S. Judge Federico Moreno on Friday approved changes that will strip the homeless of some of the life-sustaining rights they were granted through a historic settlement reached in Miami almost two decades ago.

Police will now be able to stop homeless people from building fires in parks to cook, or from building makeshift tents to sleep in. The homeless can still sleep on sidewalks, but not if they block the path of pedestrians.

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Florida bill would allow warning shots against attackers

warning shot lawA bill filed in the Florida Legislature would expand the state's "stand your ground" law, allowing people to fire warning shots when attacked, supporters say.

The bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Neil Combee, said the bill is an attempt to "get some protection for the people who find themselves in a bad spot and don't want to shoot somebody," the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Thursday.

"As it stands right now in 'stand your ground,' you have to shoot somebody," Combee added.

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