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Friday, October 23, 2009

Illegal Bullets Found In Home Of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Obama

Photo credit: AP John Brek appears on a closed circuit television for a video arraignment in Newark, N.J. on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009.

Fifty "cop killer" bullets and a stolen rifle were among the firearms arsenal confiscated from the home of the Newark Liberty International Airport security guard who allegedly threatened President Barack Obama, law enforcement authorities said.

John Brek, 55, a six-year employee of FJC Security Services in Floral Park, pleaded not guilty on three state felony charges and remained in jail Thursday on a $220,000 bail bond.

He was arrested Tuesday, the night before Obama was due to land in Newark to campaign for Gov. Jon Corzine. Brek told another airport worker "he cut a hole in the fence to be able to shoot the president, that he was just a short distance away," according to the complaint filed in court. Brek also "simulated holding a rifle in the direction of where the president would be, with the purpose to put in him imminent fear of death," the complaint said.

Port Authority and FJC officials Thursday afternoon did not respond to inquiries about the screening of guard applicants, training requirements or past incidents involving FJC security workers.

Port Authority spokesman John Kelly described Brek and other FJC guards as a second layer of security. "They do employee checkpoints," he said. "They do pre-credentialed, pre-vetted employees. They don't deal with the general public." LinkHere

Alan Grayson: It's Hard For Me To Listen To Cheney Speak, He's Like A Vampire

Thursday night on MSNBC, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told Chris Matthews that he has trouble listening to former Vice President Dick Cheney speak because of the blood dripping from his mouth. LinkHere

The price of Glenn Beck Day: $17,748.85.

tombaker says:
said Norris, prior to the event:

“He’ll be greeted as a liberator – the whole thing will pay for itself.”

Last month, Bud Norris, the mayor of Mt. Vernon, WA, controversially decided to award hometown boy Glenn Beck the ceremonial key to the city and declare Sept. 26 “Glenn Beck Day.” In response, approximately 800 people turned out to demonstrate — “the largest protest anybody could remember” in the town — and the city council unanimously passed a resolution that distanced itself from the mayor’s decision. Now, the Seattle Times reports that the event cost the small town $17,748.85, an amount that has stunned the Mt. Vernon finance director. Additionally, the event didn’t make the $10,000 the mayor had expected to donate to a local theater:

There were 577 tickets sold that generated $14,425, before expenses.

Income from ticket sales would have been higher if 92 comp tickets hadn’t been given out.

Norris says he gave comps to Beck’s family, “community leaders, people in leadership roles. … I’m told that’s pretty common.”

So the tickets sales netted $5,746.83 — after $5,754.17 was deducted for the hall rental, and $2,924 deducted for radio ads.

Why radio ads for an event that received such free publicity and was sold out in one day?

“The radio advertising was to make sure we sold tickets. I didn’t know what kind of response we would get. I didn’t want to go through all this and have 50 people show up,” says Norris.

Nevertheless, Norris has no regrets: “I don’t go to bed at night worrying about what people are saying about me on the Internet or blogs.” (HT: Gawker)
LinkHere

Source Faux?????? You Decide

bluestateguy
Fine. Next time they do that just throw in a reporter from the Huffington Post & a Daily Kos blogger
White House Loses Bid to Exclude Fox News From Pay Czar Interview

Source Fox
The Obama administration on Thursday tried to make "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg available for interviews to every member of the White House pool except Fox News. But the Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks decided that none of their reporters would interview Feinberg unless Fox News was included.

Rachel Maddow adresses White House fight with Fox news

Faux News, Lies and Distortions as Usual!!!!!!

Biden Says ‘Who Cares’ What Cheney Says

Source: New York Times
PRAGUE — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had a blunt response Friday to the latest broadsides from former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Who cares?”

In the latest exchange between old and new administrations, Mr. Biden rebuffed his predecessor’s criticism about President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan as “absolutely wrong.” And Mr. Biden rejected the last review of the war conducted by the White House under former President George W. Bush and Mr. Cheney as “irrelevant.” LinkHere
Cheney undeterred by failure, shame

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Why Is Dick Cheney Helping Obama?

Why is Dick Cheney helping Barack Obama? I know they're cousins -- eighth cousins, to be precise -- but for a guy who seems to detest the president and everything he stands for concerning national security, Cheney is inexplicably providing political aid and comfort to Obama.

On Wednesday night, Cheney received the not-so-coveted Keeper of the Flame award from the Center for Security Policy, a rather hawkish group run by Frank Gaffney, who was one of the loudest cheerleaders for the Iraq war. Accepting the honor, Cheney delivered a 25-minute speech and once again accused Obama of committing strategic blunders and undermining the credibility of the United States. Most notably, Cheney slammed the president for "dithering" on Afghanistan, saying that Obama "seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission."

Coming from Cheney, this was ridiculous. It is no news flash that the Bush-Cheney White House neglected the Afghanistan effort for years. In fact, as I wrote in 2006, the Bush administration didn't even have a senior-level official solely responsible for policies and actions in Afghanistan. The mid-level White House aide handling Afghanistan at the time had another portfolio: the Iraq war.

In his speech, Cheney insisted that his White House had not dropped the ball: "In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations." Talk about dithering. That review occurred seven years after the war began. (U.S. involvement in World War II lasted only four years.)
LinkHere

Seymour Hersh: Military Is Waging War Against The White House

In addition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military is also fighting a war against the Obama administration at the White House, Seymour Hersh said in a little-noted speech at Duke University on October 13. The military is "in a war against the White House -- and they feel they have Obama boxed in," he said.

Hersh, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, sees an undercurrent of racism in the Pentagon's dealings with the White House. "They think he's weak and the wrong color. Yes, there's racism in the Pentagon. We may not like to think that, but it's true and we all know it."

As Neil Offen writes in the Durham Herald Sun:

"A lot of people in the Pentagon would like to see him get into trouble," he said. By leaking information that the commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the war would be lost without an additional 40,000 American troops, top brass have put Obama in a no-win situation, Hersh contended.

"If he gives them the extra troops they're asking for, he loses politically," Hersh said. "And if he doesn't give them the troops, he also loses politically."


Hersh considers the worsening situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the principal test of the Obama presidency, which will require the cooperation of the top military brass. Obama must face up to the military, Hersh said. "He's either going to let the Pentagon run him or he has to run the Pentagon." If he doesn't, according to Hersh, "this stuff is going to be the ruin of his presidency." LinkHere

Australian oil spill 'contaminating one of world's richest marine wildernesses'

Source: The Guardian World News
WWF expedition into Timor Sea finds dolphins, sea birds, turtles and other marine wildlife at risk in oil spill that began in August
Toni O'Loughlin in Sydney guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 October 2009 17.20 BST

Conservationists warned yesterday that one of Australia's worst off-shore oil spills was killing wildlife and "massively contaminating" one of the world's last great wildnernesses. Amid a fourth attempt to plug the 64-day-old leak at the Montara drilling rig, the slick – which has already spread over an area 10 times the size of London – continued to expand at the rate of 300 barrels of oil a day in an area of the Timor Sea famed for its marine reserves and coral.

A survey by the Worldwide Fund for Nature found dolphins, migratory sea birds, sea snakes and marine turtles were exposed to toxins. The slick has killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of animals.

Since August 21 when there was an accident at the Montara offshore drilling rig's well head, around 403,000 litres of oil have been pumped into the Timor Sea. The rig is owned by the Thai oil company PTTEP.

Satellite images show a 25,000 square kilometre slick spreading across the surface of the ocean and spilling into Indonesian waters, threatening the marine reserves of Ashmore and Cartier reefs along the way. LinkHere

Wall Street faces double pay blow

Source: The Guardian US
• 'Pay tsar' to cap salaries at $500,000 at bailed-out firms
• Fed to tackle rewards for 'imprudent risks'
Andrew Clark in New York guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 October 2009 22.39 BST

Leading US banks will be subject to a dual crackdown on multimillion dollar pay packets, as the Federal Reserve set out broad plans to scrutinise remuneration and the Obama administration's so-called "pay tsar" confirmed that salaries will be slashed at institutions receiving government aid.

In a coordinated response to public fury over Wall Street's swift return to large bonuses, the Fed announced that 28 of America's largest, most complex financial institutions will be required to submit their pay policies to a regulatory review – whether or not they have received bail-out money from taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the Treasury's special master for compensation, Kenneth Feinberg, confirmed that struggling firms still dependent on the public pocket will have to limit salaries to a maximum of $500,000 (£300,000) and that average total pay packages among top employees will drop by 50%.

...The measures fall short of a "cap" on bonuses demanded by certain European governments, including the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, at a G20 summit in Pittsburgh last month. But they are likely to please Democrats clamouring for action on Capitol Hill. LinkHere

NIE Reveals (Iranian Uranium Enrichment Facility) Qom Facility Followed 2007 Bush Threats

Source: IPS

POLITICS: NIE Reveals Qom Facility Followed 2007 Bush Threats
By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (IPS) - The Barack Obama administration claims that construction of a second Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Qom began before Tehran's decision to withdraw from a previous agreement to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in advance of such construction. But the November 2007 U.S. intelligence estimate on Iran's nuclear programme tells a different story.

The Iranian decision to withdraw from the earlier agreement with the IAEA was prompted, moreover, by the campaign of threats to Iran's nuclear facilities mounted by the George W. Bush administration in early 2007, as a reconstruction of the sequence of events shows.

A senior administration official who briefed reporters Sep. 25 said, "We know construction of the facility began even before the Iranians unilaterally said they did not feel bound by that IAEA obligation."

The U.S. intelligence assessment of the period, however, makes it clear that Iran did not begin construction on the Qom enrichment facility until long after its public change of policy on informing the IAEA. Linkhere

Think the Wanker would get 20% of the American Vote? What's their average 3 million viewers a day, out of 300 million citizens?

Roger Ailes says he will not run in 2012 race
Source: Politico

Fox News President and CEO Roger Ailes is laughing off the entreaties of some friends and associates and will not run for president in 2012, an aide said Friday.

Ailes replied when asked about the possibility, according to the aide: “This country needs fair and balanced news more now than ever before, so I’m going to decline a run for the presidency. Besides, I can’t take the pay cut.”
LinkHere

Seems appropriate for Faux News Also, I think.

LooktotheLeft
GOP Cake recipe:

2 cups of hypocrisy
1 cup of lies, h*ate, and innuendo
1/2 cup of repressed s*exuality
1 stick of nauseatingly fake religiosity
1 cup of jingoism (blind patriotism may be substituted)
2 teaspoons of fear mongering
1/2 teaspoon of shameless pandering
2 cups of harmful, v*ile, and inappropriate humor
a pinch of charlatanism (to taste)
½ stick of t*orture

Bake at 350 degrees until u*gly on the outside and dark on the inside.

Let fester for 15 minutes

Toss into the garbage

Bush: "I Did Not Sell My Soul"

Manhattanite
How could he sell something he did not posess in the first place?

As part of a Canadian cross-country speaking tour, George W. Bush reminisced about the years of his presidency on Thursday, at a $400-a-seat steak luncheon. The tour is organized in part, The Vancouver Sun reports, to promote his upcoming memoir, and if this speech is any indicator of what's to come, the book will be thin on regrets.

"I am confident that I made decisions based on principle, that I made calls as best I could, and I did not sell my soul," Bush told an audience of about 1,000 men and women...
(If "I did not sell my soul" is not fodder for Bush's upcoming motivational speaking gig, I'm not sure what is.)

He did mention regretting standing in front of the "Mission Accomplished" banner in 2003. The Sun reports: LinkHere

They are paying him 150,000 per speech?
Shoes fly as George W. Bush speaks in Montreal
Source: The Vancouver Sun

MONTREAL — About 300 protesters outside a downtown hotel blew plastic horns, tossed shoes and burned George W. Bush in effigy Thursday as the former U.S. president spoke to a luncheon of the Montreal Board of Trade.

Facing the crowd were dozens of Montreal police tactical squad members and while there was plenty of noise, there were only five arrests and no injuries.

Inside the regal Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, a relaxed-appearing Bush spoke with very few regrets about some of the most controversial moves of his presidency.

"I am confident that I made decisions based on principle, that I made calls as best I could, and I did not sell my soul," Bush told an audience of about 1,000 men and women at the $400-a-seat steak luncheon. LinkHere

Nearly All GOP Senators Oppose Defense Bill With Hate-Crimes Amendment

35 GOP Senators Vote Against Defense Bill With Hate-Crimes Amendment
It's not easy to get 35 Republican senators to vote against defense spending -- unless hate crimes legislation is involved.

The Senate narrowly invoked cloture on Thursday, 64 to 35, on the defense authorization package with the bill named for Matthew Shepard attached. The bill, named for a gay Wyoming teenager who was kidnapped and beaten to death in 1998, makes it a federal crime to assault someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Republicans conceded that the Shepard bill swung their votes against the defense package. "The bill includes hate crimes legislation, which I firmly believe is unnecessary, irresponsible, and certainly not germane to this bill," Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said. "There is little evidence that indicates that violent crimes motivated by hate go unpunished in the United States. Every single state has criminal laws that prohibit the antisocial behavior addressed by hate crimes legislation, including laws against rape, assault and battery."

Those are states' rights issues, said Chambliss. "I do not believe the federal government should interfere with the criminal laws already on the books in our states," he said. LinkHere

DSCC Accuses GOP Of Wasting 1,000 Hours In The Senate

The capacity of Democrats to cast Republicans as a party without solutions has, to a certain extent, allowed for progress on a whole host of fronts - not least of which has been the maintenance of an advantage in generic public opinion polls.

And as party leadership inches closer to getting health care reform through Congress, and as the 2010 congressional elections approach, the charge that the only agenda Republicans have is to undermine the president's, seems likely to only intensify.

On Friday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will put out a web video that accuses Republicans of "wasting 1,000 hours in the Senate" through procedural rules and other parliamentary ploys. The spot - reminiscent of the notorious Mac v. P.C. television commercials - casts the GOP as a stuffy white-collared tycoon who "just kind of wants to see [Dems] fail."
LinkHere

Keith Olbermann Helps Raise $1.2 Million For Free Health Care Clinics

Because of an appeal during his special comment on health care, Keith Olbermann has helped raise $1.2 million for free health care clinics, resulting in new health fairs in Little Rock, Kansas City and New Orleans.

"I propose tonight one act with two purposes," Olbermann said then. "I propose we, all of us, embrace the selfless individuals at the National Association of Free Clinics. You know them, they conducted the mass health care free clinic in Houston that served 1,500 people. I want a mass health care free clinic every week in the principle cities of the states of the six senators key to defeating a filibuster against health care reform in the Senate."

Olbermann said he wanted "Sens. Lincoln and Pryor to see what health care poverty is really like in Little Rock....Sen. Baucus to see it in Butte....Sen. Ben Nelson to see it in Lincoln....Sen. Landrieu to see it in Baton Rouge...Sen. Reid to see it in Las Vegas."

Wednesday night on "Countdown," Olbermann announced that, thanks to the generosity of "Countdown" viewers, a health fair would take place in New Orleans on November 14. This is on top of health fairs already planned for November 21 in Little Rock and December 9-10 in Kansas City.

How did this idea come about? LinkHere

Thursday, October 22, 2009

GOPers Complain That Conservative Pundits Are Boxing Them In, Hurting Rebound

Conservatives roar; Republicans tremble

Many top Republicans are growing worried that the party’s chances for reversing its electoral routs of 2006 and 2008 are being wounded by the flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone of conservative activists and media personalities, according to interviews with GOP officials and operatives.

Congressional leaders talk in private of being boxed in by commentators such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh — figures who are wildly popular with the conservative base but wildly controversial among other parts of the electorate, and who have proven records of making life miserable for senators and House members critical of their views or influence.

Some of the leading 2012 candidates are described by operatives as grappling with the same tension. The challenge is to tap into the richest source of energy in the party — the disgust of grass-roots conservative activists with President Barack Obama and their hunger for a full-throated attack on his agenda — without coming off to the broader public as cranky and extreme LinkHere

Bob Cesca: Keep Going, Republicans! You're Doing Great!

I have an important message for Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the most visible Republicans on the national stage: Keep going! You're doing great! If this was video, you would see me standing an applauding. Maybe holding up a lighter for an encore.

The Republican Party is shriveling faster than Rush Limbaugh on a flight home from the Dominican Republic.

While I believe America only benefits from a robust two-party system, the Republicans aren't really filling their seats at the table. The insufferable centrist Democrats, for better or worse, are covering the power void in an unofficial interim capacity and it wouldn't shock me if there was eventually a replacement party built up around the conservative Democrats and some of the center-right moderate Republicans.

Another theory for another time.

But it's clear that there will either be a clean break in the current party dynamic, or the more moderate, reasonable faction of the Republican Party will begin to seriously assert itself against the wingnuts who are, simply put, cartoonish stereotypes of themselves.

It's this latter group that appears to be scaring away GOP moderates and whatever remains of "intellectual" Republicans like, say, David Frum, David Brooks and Christopher Buckley. Center-right voters are becoming increasingly embarrassed to call themselves Republicans, and party identification has dwindled to 20 percent. And it's not necessarily borne out of an ideological split as much as it has a massive character gap. LinkHere

BAXTER: The World's OLDEST End Of Life Therapy Dog Dies

Baxter, the beloved therapy dog with his own Facebook page and book, Moments With Baxter, died at age 19 on Friday, October 16 after years of volunteering at San Diego Hospice, where he comforted many patients at the end of their lives.

In the last few years the arthritic Baxter needed to be pushed into the hospital rooms on a cart and gently placed into the arms of the dying. It was his vulnerability in his old age that helped him bond even more to the patients he helped let go of life. Watch this beautiful tribute to an amazing animal below.
LinkHere

* * W O M E N....L O S E....A G A I N **?

COST OF THE WARS IN iRAQ AND AFGANISTAN
Sen. Dan Inouye
329896.html
Washington D.C.
722 Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1102
Phone: 202-224-3934
Fax: 202-224-6747
Email: http://inouye.senate.gov/Contact/Email-Form.cfm
Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment May Be Stripped By Senior Dem, Sources Say

An amendment that would prevent the government from working with contractors who denied victims of assault the right to bring their case to court is in danger of being watered down or stripped entirely from a larger defense appropriations bill.

Multiple sources have told the Huffington Post that Sen. Dan Inouye, a longtime Democrat from Hawaii, is considering removing or altering the provision, which was offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and passed by the Senate several weeks ago.

Inouye's office, sources say, has been lobbied by defense contractors adamant that the language of the Franken amendment would leave them overly exposed to lawsuits and at constant risk of having contracts dry up. The Senate is considering taking out a provision known as the Title VII claim, which (if removed) would allow victims of assault or rape to bring suit against the individual perpetrator but not the contractor who employed him or her.

"The defense contractors have been storming his office," said a source with knowledge of the situation. "Inouye either will get the amendment taken out altogether, or water it down significantly. If they water it down, they will take out the Title VII claims. This means that in discrimination cases, they will still force you into a secret forced arbitration on KBR's (or other contractors') own terms -- with your chances of prevailing practically zero. The House seems to be very supportive of the original Franken amendment and all in line, but their hands are tied since it originated in the Senate. And since Inouye runs the show on this bill, he can easily take it out to get Republicans and the defense contractors off his back, which looks increasingly likely."

A Democratic aide on the Hill, also with knowledge of the situation, confirmed the account, as did a source who works on defense contracting matters outside of Congress. "The contractors are putting on a full-court press on this amendment... they are all doing it," said the latter source.

A spokesman for the Senate Committee on Appropriations said that "the committee does not comment on ongoing conference negotiations." But another source with knowledge of the situation stressed that it was premature to say that any decision has been made. Indeed, even the Hill source said that the situation is fluid and could change before the bill is sent out of committee -- likely in the next few days. LinkHere




Corporate Lobbyists Are At War With America

House Oversight Dems Change Lock On Hearing Room Door After GOP Video

After GOP members of the House oversight committee shot footage for a "campaign style video" in the committee room, Democrats responded by changing the lock on a private door leading in from the Republican suite of offices.

Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) ordered the lock changed after complaining that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) used an unauthorized camera inside the hearing room during a recess. Issa set the footage to "Hit the Road, Jack" and accused Democrats of avoiding a vote to authorize subpoenas in the Countrywide sweetheart mortgage program.

Republicans refused to take the video down from the GOP oversight web site despite repeated requests from Democrats. So the Democrats decided to change the door lock.

"There was a back door to the main hearing room from the Republican offices that had the lock on the inside, not the outside like all the other doors," a committee source e-mailed the Huffington Post. "Therefore the Republicans could walk into the hearing room anytime they wanted to without anyone knowing it.

"Since Rep. Issa has been shooting campaign-style videos in the hearing room (which, according to the House rules the Chairman has control over) we reversed the lock so that all the doors to the hearing room lock the same way. They continue to have full access to the room whenever there is committee business or they reserve the room for a meeting -- just like Democratic members -- but now they can no longer go in whenever they like and make campaign and partisan videos." LinkHere

POP stars, TV personalities and politicians pay tribute to Australian TV legend, Don Lane.

Rest In Peace
Video: He was the ultimate showman. Take a look back at Don Lane's life and career with our video tribute to the Lanky Yank.
Don in pictures Legacy page: Leave a tribute More

Music Stars Demand Records On Bush Administration's Use Of Music For Torture

A group of prominent musicians are joining a campaign to close Guantanamo Bay and demanding the release of records about what music was used during the potential torture of detainees there and at other facilities.

Some of the more famous names in the music industry are formally lending their prestige to an effort being led by retired generals, progressive groups and a former member of Congress to shut GITMO down. The list includes Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, Rise Against, Rosanne Cash, Billy Bragg and the Roots, all of whom are joining the broader National Campaign to Close Guantanamo which was launched earlier in the week.

Hoping to cast further light on the potential illegalities that took place at the detention facility, the group is also working to obtain records about why and how music was used (under laws authorized by the Bush administration) to effectively torture suspected terrorists. The musicians have officially endorsed a Freedom of Information Act request for the declassification of all secret government records pertaining to music utilized during interrogations. At least two members of the coalition, Reznor and Morello, have had their music linked to interrogations.

"Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured -- from water boarding, to stripping, hooding and forcing detainees into humiliating sexual acts -- playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the eardrums," said Morello, in a statement provided by the NCCG. "Guantanamo may be Dick Cheney's idea of America, but it's not mine. The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me -- we need to end torture and close Guantanamo now."

The National Security Archives will be officially filing the FOIA request on behalf of the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo (NCCG). LinkHere

Grayson: Fox News Is "The Enemy Of America"

Outspoken Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson slammed both Fox News and the GOP while appearing on MSNBC Wednesday, saying that "Fox News and their Republican collaborators are the enemy of America."

When it comes to health care, education, even peace, Grayson insisted that the GOP and Fox News are on the wrong side of the issues. They are the enemies of "anything good for this country," he said.

Grayson also seemed to agree with the White House's recent effort to publicly confront the news network. "What you do with a bully is you confront the bully and the bully backs down," Grayson said. 99 percent of all Americans, he added, "have the good sense to ignore them." LinkHere



Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


Obama On White House War With Fox News: I'm Not Losing Sleep Over It
The White House's war with Fox News, which Jason Linkins has helpfully mapped out here and here, took a new, (and perhaps final?), turn Wednesday night. During an exclusive NBC interview, Obama declared he was not "losing a lot of sleep" over it.

The president is asked whether it's appropriate for him to be "working the umps", to say "what is or is not a news organization." Obama's response:

"I think what our advisers have simply said is that we are going to take the media as it comes, and if media is operating, basically as a talk radio format, then, that's one thing, and if it is operating as a news outlet, then that's another, but it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over." LinkHere

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama To Slash Compensation At Top Bailout Recipients... Execs To Receive Half Of What They Got Last Year

WASHINGTON - (Associated Press) The Obama administration plans to order companies that received huge government bailouts last year to sharply cut the compensation of their highest paid executives, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the annual salaries of their 25 highest-paid executive by an average of about 90 percent from last year, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.

This person said Wednesday that the Treasury Department will announce the deep pay cuts within the next few days.

Kenneth Feinberg, the special master at Treasury appointed by Obama to handle compensation issues at the seven firms getting exceptional assistance from the government's $700 billion financial bailout package, is making the pay decisions.

The seven companies are: Bank of America Corp., American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial.

Total compensation for the top executives at the seven firms will decline, on average, by about 50 percent, according to the person familiar with the administration's decision.

At the financial products division of AIG, the giant insurance company which has received taxpayer assistance valued at more than $180 billion, no top executive will receive more than $200,000 in total compensation, the person familiar with Feinberg's plan said. The administration also will warn AIG that it must fulfill a commitment to significantly reduce the $198 million in bonuses promised to employees in its financial services division, the arm of the company whose risky trades caused its downfall.

The pay restrictions for all seven companies will require any executive seeking more than $25,000 in special benefits -- things such as country club memberships, private planes and company cars -- to get permission for those perks from the government.
LinkHere

Goldman Adviser Defends Bonus Billions, Says Income 'Inequality' Will Lead To 'Prosperity For All'... Dylan Ratigan: Adviser's Comments Are "The Final Insult To Injury"
A Goldman Sachs International adviser defended compensation in the finance industry as his company plans a near-record year for pay, saying the spending will help boost the economy. "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all," Brian Griffiths, who was a special adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said yesterday at a panel discussion hosted by St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Ex-FBI Translator (Sibel Edmonds) Claims Spying at DoD

Source: military.com

After seven years of forced silence, a government whistleblower is opening up on what she learned while working as a Turkish translator for the FBI in the wake of 9/11.

In sworn testimony to attorneys on Aug. 8, Sibel Edmonds described a Pentagon where key personnel helped pass defense secrets to foreign agents or provided them names of knowledgeable officials who were vulnerable to blackmail or co-option.

And firmly rooted in this espionage program in the 1990s, according to Edmonds’ deposition, were two men who, with the election of George W. Bush as president in 2000, found themselves in the Pentagon: Douglas Feith, who would head the Office of Special Plans, and Richard Perle, who would become chairman of the Defense Advisory Board.

"They were 100 percent directly involved," Edmonds told Military.com. "They were not in the Pentagon (in the late 1990s) but they had their people inside the Pentagon." One of those people, she said, was Larry Franklin, an Air Force officer assigned to the Office of Special Plans who, in 2003, passed classified information to representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Office, or AIPAC. By then Feith was leading the OSP.
...
Perle, today a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and board member for or adviser to other think tanks, including the National Institute for Neareast Affairs and the Center for Security Policy, emphatically denied Edmonds’ claims in an interview with Military.com.

“This woman is a nutcase. Certifiable,” Perle said. “She makes wild accusations. She was fired from her job, and has been on a vendetta against … imagined demons ever since.”

Feith, in an email to Military.com, said: “What I’ve read on the Internet about Ms. Edmonds’s claims about me is wildly false and bizarre.”
LinkHere

Pickens says U.S. firms 'entitled' to Iraqi oil

RC
Sure, it's ours. We stole it fair and square.
All those iriqui's we kilt don't count anyway. It's their fault we invaded them for having our oil under their ground.
Source: Reuters
By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq. LinkHere

Iraq veteran kicked off bus over service dog


Arthur Schwartz was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after coming back from Iraq. His job there involved identifying the bodies of dead American soldiers.

Doctors assigned Schwartz a service dog to help fight anxiety. However Miami-Dade bus drivers have been kicking Schwartz and his dog off because his disability is not a visible condition.

That's illegal under Americans with Disabilities Act.

"And on Saturday morning, I got on the bus to go to the VA and first thing when I got on, I got into a confrontation about I can't have a dog on the bus and if I'm not blind and if I don't explain what my disability is; And I said, well, I'm not going to do that, so they stopped, shut off the bus, they get on their phone, they get off the bus, they call the headquarters and we go around and around until somebody gets on and decides they're going to drive the bus away. And that's usually what I have most of the time," says Schwartz.

Miami-Dade transit officials apologized, and say they're taking steps to educate all their drivers about service dogs on their buses LinkHere

The party of NO, are at it again!!!!!!!

Republicans are blocking the measure that would extend benefits by as much as 20 weeks because they want votes on several amendments



Unemployment Benefit Extension Stalls in U.S. Senate

Source: Bloomberg News
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Legislation to extend unemployment benefits is stalled in the U.S. Senate amid a partisan dispute over how to finance the plan, among other issues.

Republicans are blocking the measure that would extend benefits by as much as 20 weeks because they want votes on several amendments, including on how to pay for the $2.4 billion measure so it doesn’t add to the federal budget deficit. Democrats plan to finance the aid by extending an employer payroll surtax due to expire at the end of this year.

“We have wanted to do this for weeks and they won’t let us,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters yesterday. “We talk about doing something for economic recovery to stimulate the economy -- who is going to spend the money more quickly than somebody who is out of a job, doesn’t have income? That’s what the unemployment check’s about.” LinkHere

NFL Owners Belie Limbaugh `Not Wanted’ by Giving to Republicans

NYC Liberal
Cry me a river. Conservatives are soooo victimized and oppressed.
Edited on Wed Oct-21-09 04:24 PM by NYC Liberal
Conservatives have been screwed the country over for the last 30 years, brought it to the brink in the last 8, wrecked the economy, promote racism and sexism, do everything they can to crush the poor and middle class in favor of the wealthiest 1 percent, destroyed our credibility around the world, were the biggest backers of an illegal invasion of a country that did us no wrong...

and yet they are still given airtime by the media, their positions are still considered as "issues" to be "debated" instead of tried-and-failed bullshit to be rejected out of hand, and they even have their own 24/7 TV channel to catapult their propaganda, as well as a ton of radio programs/stations.

Tell me again why I should feel sorry for conservatives.
Source: Bloomberg

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Rush Limbaugh said his ouster from a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams showed “if you are conservative, then you are not wanted.” Many National Football League owners, who give more than three times as much money to Republicans than Democrats, may disagree.

NFL owners and their family members have given $1,458,946 to Republicans since Jan. 1, 2007, compared with the $419,042 they contributed to Democrats during that period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

“Football team owners are, by and large, very wealthy and conservative,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “Not only do they own clubs; they are themselves a very small, very elite club.”

Limbaugh was dropped last week from an ownership group seeking to purchase the St. Louis Rams following criticism of provocative comments he has made by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the league’s players association. The head of the ownership group, Dave Checketts, said Limbaugh’s involvement had “become a complication and a distraction.” LinkHere

John Brek Arrested: Newark Security Guard Accused Of Making Terrorist Threats Against Obama

NEWARK, N.J. — A private security guard at Newark Liberty International Airport was arrested on charges of threatening Barack Obama the night before the president was to fly there.

A Continental Airlines employee reported overhearing John Brek make threatening comments at an airport coffee cart Tuesday afternoon.

The 55-year-old security guard was arrested several hours later, Port Authority spokesman John Kelly said. He denied making the threats, said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service.

Obama will be in New Jersey on Wednesday to campaign for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.

Brek allowed police to search his Linden home and officers found 43 firearms, Kelly said. The firearms were still being processed, but no illegal guns had been found.

A message left by The Associated Press at Brek's home Wednesday was not immediately returned. His father, John, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that his son has the guns because he's an avid hunter.

Air Force One is scheduled to land at the Newark airport Wednesday afternoon. LinkHere

Public Option Within Eight Votes Of House Passage, Says Rep. Grijalva

The robust public option is eight votes short of the 218 it needs to pass the House, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) tells HuffPost.

Grijalva, as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has been counting support for a public option tied to Medicare rates -- the so-called Medicare plus five -- over the last few weeks.

"We anticipate that we're at 210," he said. "We feel that the momentum is all on the robust Medicare plus five public option."

Grijalva said that "25-plus" Democrats have said they will vote no. "Some of those no's are no regardless. It has nothing to do with the public option," he said, putting the number of those firm no-votes at 18 or 19.

There are 256 Democrats in the House. With 25 or 30 no votes, that leaves only about 15 to 20 members still to decide. Progressives need roughly half of them.

He says that backers of the public option are focusing on those persuadable Democrats rather than negotiating with members who will vote no.

"Why are we spending valuable time compromising on an issue when, at the end of the day, they're going to vote no?" he said.

On Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the caucus she was forging ahead with the robust public option, but needed to be sure there were 218 votes. Democrats plan to huddle again on Wednesday evening. LinkHere

UPDATE: Howard Dean has been running a parallel whip operation. See where your representative stands by Dean's count here.

Chamber Yes No Don't know
House 220 9 210
Senate 51 39 10
Combined 271 48 220

Rep. Alan Grayson Launches Site To Honor, Name Those Dead From Lack Of Health Care

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who launched himself into the heat of the health care debate by arguing that Republican-styled health care reform encouraged the sick to die quickly, once again is using the specter of death to push for legislative action.

The Florida Democrat announced, while on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, that he was launching a new website to list the names of the nearly 45,000 Americans who die every year because they lack health insurance.

The site, called namesofthedead.com, would honor the memories of the deceased, compel Congress to act on health care reform and, ultimately, serve as a "historical artifact" of the days when there was no universal coverage, Grayson said.

"I think it dishonors all those Americans who have lost their lives because they had no health coverage, by ignoring them, by not paying attention to them, and by doing nothing to change the situation that led them to lose their lives," the congressman explained. "So I make this simple proposal. I propose that we identify them. I propose that we honor their memory by naming them. They themselves can no longer speak. But their families, the ones who love them, they can speak. And so I have established a website called namesofthedead.com." LinkHere

Unbelievable: Woman's Rape Called "Pre-Existing Condition" By Insurance Companies

Christina Turner feared that she might have been sexually assaulted after two men slipped her a knockout drug. She thought she was taking proper precautions when her doctor prescribed a month's worth of anti-AIDS medicine.

Only later did she learn that she had made herself all but uninsurable.

Turner had let the men buy her drinks at a bar in Fort Lauderdale. The next thing she knew, she said, she was lying on a roadside with cuts and bruises that indicated she had been raped. She never developed an HIV infection. But months later, when she lost her health insurance and sought new coverage, she ran into a problem.

Turner, 45, who used to be a health insurance underwriter herself, said the insurance companies examined her health records. Even after she explained the assault, the insurers would not sell her a policy because the HIV medication raised too many health questions. They told her they might reconsider in three or more years if she could prove that she was still AIDS-free.

Stories of how victims of sexual assault can get tangled in the health insurance system have been one result of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund's citizen journalism project, which is calling on readers to provide information and anecdotes about the inner workings of the insurance industry. The project aims to uncover details and data that can inform the larger debate over how to fix the nation's health care system. As the Investigative Fund reported in September, health insurance companies are not required to make public their records on how often claims are denied and for what reasons.

Some women have contacted the Investigative Fund to say they were deemed ineligible for health insurance because they had a pre-existing condition as a result of a rape, such as post traumatic stress disorder or a sexually transmitted disease. Other patients and therapists wrote in with allegations that insurers are routinely denying long-term mental health care to women who have been sexually assaulted.
LinkHere

Franken Schools Right-Wing Analyst On Medical Bankruptcies In Countries With Universal Care: ‘It’s Zero’

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) humbles Hudson Institute dilettante over health care bankruptcies

Pentagon used psychological operation on US public, documents show

By Brad Jacobson
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 -- 10:12 am

Figure in Bush propaganda operation remains Pentagon spokesman

In Part I of this series, Raw Story revealed that Bryan Whitman, the current deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, was an active senior participant in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program that used retired military analysts to generate positive wartime news coverage.

A months-long review of documents and interviews with Pentagon personnel has revealed that the Bush Administration's military analyst program -- aimed at selling the Iraq war to the American people -- operated through a secretive collaboration between the Defense Department's press and community relations offices.

Raw Story has also uncovered evidence that directly ties the activities undertaken in the military analyst program to an official US military document’s definition of psychological operations -- propaganda that is only supposed to be directed toward foreign audiences.

The investigation of Pentagon documents and interviews with Defense Department officials and experts in public relations found that the decision to fold the military analyst program into community relations and portray it as “outreach” served to obscure the intent of the project as well as that office’s partnership with the press office. It also helped shield its senior supervisor, Bryan Whitman, assistant secretary of defense for media operations, whose role was unknown when the original story of the analyst program broke. LinkHere

Breaking news from The Associated Press: the Iranians may in fact accept a crucial nuclear deal

Iranian negotiators on Wednesday expressed support for a deal that — if accepted by their leaders — would delay Tehran’s ability to make nuclear weapons by sending most of its existing enriched uranium to Russia for processing, diplomats said. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that representatives of Iran and its three interlocutors — the U.S., Russia and France — had accepted the draft for forwarding to their capitals. ElBaradei said he hoped for approval from all four countries by Friday. LinkHere

Public Option Still Broadly Popular In Latest Polls... CBO: House Bill With Strong Public Option Would Significantly Reduce Budget Deficits

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are aiming to scale back the cost of their health care bill to well below President Barack Obama's preferred price tag by giving the government a strong hand in selling insurance in competition with the private market.

Obama has sought to spend no more than $900 billion over a 10-year period. The initial cost of the House bill was more than $1 trillion. On Tuesday, House Democratic leaders received a new cost estimate of $871 billion from congressional budget umpires who measured a robust version of a so-called public option for health insurance, according to a Democratic aide.

The figures were preliminary because no final decision on the design of the public plan had been made, said the aide, who requested anonymity in discussing the bill because the deliberations were private.

House Democrats worked on their legislation as senior Senate Democrats signaled they intend to try to strip the insurance industry of its exemption from antitrust laws as part of an upcoming debate over health care.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced plans to hold a news conference on the issue Wednesday along with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

If approved, the change would bring the insurance industry under stricter federal regulation. While a 60-vote majority is likely to be required for passage, the decision by top Democrats to seek a vote underscores the antagonism that lately has sprouted between advocates of Obama's ambitious health care plan and insurance companies who are dissatisfied with key features of the legislation.

The House bill with the strong public plan would extend coverage to 96 percent of uninsured Americans and significantly reduce budget deficits.

A $871 billion bill in the House would be in line with the leading Senate bill, the $829 billion measure approved last week by the Senate Finance Committee.
LinkHere

Senate Dems Aim To Strip Insurance Industry Of Anti-Trust Exemption

WASHINGTON — Top Senate Democrats intend to try to strip the health insurance industry of its exemption from federal antitrust laws, according to congressional officials. It's the latest evidence of a deepening struggle over President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul the health care industry.

If enacted, the switch would mean greater federal regulation for an industry that recently has stepped up its criticism of portions of a health care bill moving toward the Senate floor.

Congressional officials said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, arranged to make the announcement Wednesday, joined by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. LinkHere

Ruckus on the right


George Bush Gets Motivated

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Medicare Part D Creators Now Lobbyists Working To Keep Lucrative Plan In Place

Wikapedia
Four years ago, a group of lawmakers and aides crafted Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program for seniors that has produced billions of dollars of profits for pharmaceutical companies.
Today, at least 25 of those key players are back, but this time they’re lobbyists, trying to persuade their former colleagues to protect the lucrative system during the health care reform negotiations.

The role of big players like Billy Tauzin — the former Republican representative from Louisiana who is now president of PhRMA, the drug industry’s lobbying group — has been long understood. But a ProPublica analysis shows that the drug industry’s position is also being promoted by other foot soldiers from the Part D legislative process, from committee aides to top Bush administration officials.

The most prominent members of this group include:
■Tauzin, former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who was instrumental in ensuring Part D’s passage. As PhRMA’s president he reportedly earns [8] more than 10 times what he was paid as a member of Congress
■Former Sen. John Breaux, D-La., who fought against allowing drug prices to be negotiated in Medicare Part D. A year after the bill passed, he left the Senate to begin his lobbying career. He now has his own lobbying firm, Breaux Lott Leadership Group, which this year has received $300,000 to lobby for the pharmaceutical industry.
■Former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., who helped negotiate the final version of Part D, then left to form his own lobbying firm. Bristol Myers-Squibb paid the Nickles Group $120,000 this year to lobby for, among other things, “health care reform issues related to Medicaid and Medicare.”
■Thomas Scully, the former Medicare chief who helped design Part D. Scully obtained a waiver [9] allowing him to discuss job offers before he left his government post. Less than two weeks after the bill passed, he went to work for the lobbying firm Alston & Bird, where he works on behalf of drug companies.
Less familiar names also made the leap to lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry.
LinkHere

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Report: Unprecedented Number Of Death Threats Against Obama -- And Secret Service Overwhelmed

The Boston Globe reports that a new internal Congressional Research Service report and government sources say there are an unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama -- and that the Secret Service is insufficiently funded and staffed to deal with them.

According to The Globe, a report issued by the Congressional Research Service shows that the Secret Service is investigating more threats against government officials than ever before, and questions whether the 144-year old agency should continue probing financial crimes, as was its original mandate.

In total, the Secret Service regularly protects 32 people and arranges security for high-profile events. But the election of Barack Obama has increased threats against the president's life by 400 percent from his predecessor, according to "In the President's Secret Service," Ronald Kessler's account of presidential security. The Secret Service has looked into a number of race-based threats since Obama took office, and a Facebook poll that asked "Should Obama be killed?" President Obama also had a Secret Service detail 18 months before the election, the earliest of any Presidential candidate.

As Bryan Bender at The Boston Globe reports, some government officials are calling for a review of the way the agency is run, and suggesting that some of its financial investigations be transferred to the Treasury Department so the Secret Service can focus on terrorist and assassination threats.

The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report back in August that found that the number of white supremacist militia groups has spiked by 35% since 2000. The Secret Service has, in turn, increased its employees from 6,700 two years ago to a projected 7,055 in the coming fiscal year, almost entirely devoted to protecting national leaders. But that's a staff increase of just 5.3 percent -- nowhere near the 400 percent increase in threats to the president's life. LinkHere

GOP Hypocracy

Sen. Burr Touts Funds From Stimulus Bill He Opposed
Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — commonly referred to as the stimulus — with the votes of only three Republicans in the Senate. Since then, a whole host of legislators who opposed the stimulus have jumped at the opportunity to personally deliver stimulus funds to their cash-strapped districts.

Now, the Hickory Daily Record reports that the latest senator to engage in stimulus hypocrisy is Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). Last week, Burr appeared in Bethlehem, North Carolina, to deliver ARRA funds for a fire station there: LinkHere

Americans Increasingly Worried About Losing Health Care Coverage: Poll

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans worried about losing their current health care coverage keeps rising, even as President Barack Obama and a Democrat-led Congress strive to extend society's safety net to cover the uninsured, a new poll has found.

The growing levels of insurance insecurity are reflected in the latest monthly snapshot from the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Americans have conflicting views on whether a health care overhaul will help matters, make them worse or leave things about the same.

The foundation's September poll found that about one-third of Americans said they were worried about losing current coverage, a slight increase from 29 percent who reported such concerns the previous month.

Indeed, the share of Americans who say they're worried about losing coverage in the next 12 months has gone up by 11 percentage points since the health care debate began in the spring. LinkHere

Supreme Court To Hear Case Of Cleared Detainees Still Held At Gitmo

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether Guantanamo detainees who are considered no threat can be ordered released in the United States – over the objections of the Obama administration and Congress – if the prisoners have nowhere else to go.

The case could further complicate the administration's plans to close the Guantanamo prison where 220 or so men are still held.

The court's fourth look at the terror-suspects detention system, created by the Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will focus on 13 Chinese Muslims, most of whom were cleared by the Pentagon for release in 2003. Six years later – and eight years after their capture in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001 – they remain in custody at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The first three high court decisions were rebukes to the government for denying detainees their day in court.

The justices said they will hear a challenge from the Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs (WEE'-gurs), who are asking the court to put some teeth into its June 2008 ruling that said federal judges could ultimately order some detainees to be released, depending on security concerns and other circumstances.

Acting after the Supreme Court ruling, a federal judge in Washington said the Uighurs must be released immediately into the United States because their continued confinement was unjustified and the U.S. government could find no country willing to take them.

A federal appeals court, however, said the judge lacked the authority to order detainees released into the United States, setting up the new high court challenge.

The Uighurs say the ability to go before a federal judge is worthless if the judge ultimately has no power to free people who are being wrongly held. The administration is defending the appeals court ruling, but also noting ongoing diplomatic efforts to find the Uighurs a home. LinkHere

Republican Switches Districts To Run Against Grayson

Winter Park Doc junks Kosmas race to take on Grayson
Winter Park doctor Ken Miller has changed his mind, and instead of challenging U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, will jump over to the neighboring district and take on U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Miller said that once former state Sen. Dan Webster opted not to run against the firebrand freshman from Orlando this month, he needed to mount a "credible challenge" to Grayson.

Here's the full announcement from Miller.

Two things could be going on here. One, Republicans appear to be happy with either Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel or state Rep. Sandy Adams taking on Kosmas. National GOPers even appear to be rallying behind Diebel already.

Second, the departure of Webster, R-Winter Garden, along with Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and state Rep. Stephen Precourt from the GOP mix of challengers to Grayson, makes that race appear a bit more wide open. That could make better sense for Miller, a relative political unknown.

Two Tea Party activists -- Dan Fanelli and Patricia Sullivan -- are mounting a Grayson challenge, and recent South Florida transplant Armando Gutierrez Jr. has done quite a bit to shore up Republican Party support with a string of endorsements. LinkHere

"Unconscionable Fraud"


Citing "unconscionable fraud," California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced a major lawsuit today against State Street Bank and Trust. Brown seeks to recover more than $200 million from the Boston-based bank.

(SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE PRESS RELEASE AND COMPLAINT.)

According to the complaint, State Street overcharged California's largest pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, for the execution of foreign currency trades. From the press release:

"Over a period of eight years, State Street bankers committed unconscionable fraud by misappropriating millions of dollars that rightfully belonged to California's public pension funds," Brown said. "This is just the latest example of how clever financial traders violate laws and rip off the public trust."
The charges appear to involve alleged shenanigans with the time-stamping of foreign currency trades.

Read more in the press release:

Congress "Getting Completely Crushed" With Over 100,000 Calls For Obama's Healthcare Reform

100,000 out of a population of 300 million
Keep the God Dam phones ringing.

It's not even noon on the West Coast and already Capitol Hill staffers say they're getting nonstop calls from constituents in support of President Barack Obama's health insurance reform. At about 2:15 EST, Organizing for America (OFA) surpassed it's goal of 100,000 phone calls to Congress, each one imploring representatives to vote for reform.

The nationwide "Time to Deliver on Health Reform" event is the most massive outpouring of support from Obama supporters since Election Day 2008.

Senate Democratic aides told HuffPost that their phones have been ringing off the hook. "We're getting completely crushed with calls, jamming our phone lines from the moment we opened," said one aide. LinkHere

THE HOLY GRAIL OF ELDERLY SCARE TACTICS

A new mailer being sent to senior citizens warns that Democratic-considered health care reform would result in the rationing of care and the creation of a massive database that would endanger the privacy of personal medical information.

Authorized by the Senior Citizens League, the piece seems tantamount to the Holy Grail of health care reform scare-tactic mailers.

Sent out under a cover letter from former Congressman David Funderbruk (R-N.C.), the literature starts by raising the frightful specter of private medical data become widely accessible to the public.

"How would you like it if your doctor, your clinic, or other healthcare providers -- without either your knowledge or consent -- gathered up your, along with your family's medical history, and sent your most intimate conversations to a central data bank in Washington D.C. to become a part of the largest computer network ever created?" Funderburk writes. Here is the mailer:

Colorado Toddler Denied Health Insurance Because She's Too Small...

Last Week: Infant Denied Health Insurance Because He's Too Big

Military Report On Iraq Stress Clinic Killing Spree: Soldier Showed Obvious Signs Of Unraveling

BAGHDAD — An American soldier accused of killing five fellow troops at a counseling center in Iraq had been unraveling for nearly two weeks but the U.S. military lacked clear procedures to monitor him or deal with the deadly shooting spree once it began to unfold, a military report found.

The shooting at a U.S. base in Baghdad in May was the deadliest case of U.S. soldier-on-soldier violence of the six-year Iraq war. Sgt. John M. Russell, 44, was arrested and is the only person charged in the incident.

The shooting deaths drew attention to the issues of combat stress and morale as troops have to increasingly serve multiple combat tours because the nation's volunteer army is stretched thin by two long-running wars.

The 325-page report, released Friday and obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday, included detailed witness statements and describes a soldier less than two months from ending his third deployment who began to show obvious signs of unraveling before the shootings.

While all the names, including Russell's have been removed from the report, it refers to the person taken into custody as well as his unit, the 54th Engineer Battalion.

The internal investigation was ordered by Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, who appointed an investigating officer to determine if policies regarding "service members who are believed to be at risk of harming themselves or others were followed and adequate," said military spokesman Lt. Col. David Patterson.

A criminal investigation by the military is ongoing. LinkHere
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