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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wall Street Investors Lavish Scott Brown’s Campaign With Money, Get Out The Vote Operations

Please remember That when a women who has Posed Naked for Play Boy or a prostitute runs the next time for Gov. Office! Because coakley wouldn't have a prayer if she'd done what Brown did.
Major U.S. banks which instigated the financial crisis are set to pay out “record” bonuses and compensation — $145 billion by some estimates. State Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), the Republican candidate running for the special U.S. Senate election next week, announced yesterday that he would oppose the recently announced financial crisis responsibility fee on large banks.
Brown’s defense of the financial industry has not been ignored by Wall Street. Wall Street’s two largest political enforcers are also out fighting to elect him:
– The Wall Street front group FreedomWorks is mobilizing get out the vote efforts for Brown this weekend. FreedomWorks organized the very first tea party protests, and has used its extensive staff and resources to mobilize rallies and advocacy campaigns on behalf of corporate interests. Dick Armey, who as a corporate lobbyist represented AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch during the bailouit, is the leader of FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks is also funded and chaired by Steve Forbes and Frank Sands of Sands Capital Management.
– The Wall Street front group Club for Growth is strongly “boosting” Brown and is expected to run ads in support for him. According to recent disclosures, the Club for Growth is funded by a $1.4 million dollar donation from investor Stephen Jacksons of Stephens Groups Inc, a $1.4 million dollar donation from broker Richard Gilder, and $210,000-$630,000 donations from at least 10 other investors and financial industry professionals. The Club is also supporting a slate of candidates to repeal health reform, while its other endorsed candidates have opposed a financial truth commission.
According to a ThinkProgress analysis of Brown’s latest Federal Elections Commission disclosures (part 1, part 2, part 3), filed on Jan. 8 and 11, business executives and Wall Street executives have lavished Brown’s campaign coffers with 11th hour contributions:
Brown Contributors

A report on financial industry compensation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found that large financial corporations — including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup — spend between 25% to 50% of total revenue on paying out executive compensation. While the finance industry often refuses to offer lines of credit to American businesses struggling in this economy, they operate largely as vehicles to make bankers richer.
Brown casts himself as an everyday man, telling reporters “it’s me against the machine.” In fact, Brown is teaming up with Wall Street bankers to kill financial reform and preserve a system of Bush-era unfettered capitalism. LinkHere

Scott Brown Voted Against Giving Help To 9/11 Recovery Workers

At a campaign rally today in Hyannis, ThinkProgress caught up with Brown for comment on why he voted against the measure:
TP: In 2001, you voted against 9/11 recovery workers, giving them aid, do you have any comment on this story?
BROWN: Yes, it was a time when our budget was down. We had a lot of cuts unfortunately, and we had to take care of our own priorities first.

During the same month Brown was voting down efforts to support 9/11 rescue workers, he was pushing a bill to appropriate a tax-subsidized bond to build a golf course in Norfolk, a city in his district. “Priorities,” indeed.
Also during the same period, he was busy fighting for tax subsidies for corporate interests. According to a 2002 article in the Lowell Sun, Brown scored a perfect pro-corporate tax subsidy rating in the months following his anti-9/11 rescue workers vote: LinkHere
One month after the September 11th attacks, Scott Brown was one of only three Massachusetts State Representatives to vote against a bill to provide financial assistance to Red Cross workers who had volunteered with 9/11 recovery efforts, we’ve learned.
The Brown campaign acknowledged the vote to us, claiming the measure would have taxed already-strained state finances.
The 9/11 attacks flared as an issue in the Massachusetts race today. The NRSC sharply criticized Democrat Martha Coaxley over a DSCC ad, first reported by Politico, that flashed an image of the Twin Towers. Rudy Giuliani, who stumped for Brown today, also slammed Coakley over the ad, saying it was “unthinkable” and “offensive.”
On October 17th, 2001, Brown voted against a bill that would authorize “leaves of absence for certain Red Cross employees participating in Red Cross emergencies.” The bill gave 15 days of paid leave each year to state workers called up by the Red Cross to respond to disasters. At the time, state workers called for such emergencies were required to use sick and vacation days.
The bill was initially filed before 9/11, and after the attacks, it was made retroactive to 9/11, covering the time spent by state workers who’d assisted with 9/11 recovery work for the Red Cross. Brown’s vote against the measure came a little more than a month after the attack.
You can read the bill and the roll call right here.
Brown spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom justified the vote by pointing to the state’s fiscal straits. “At the time, the state was in a fiscal crisis and facing a deficit, and there was no money to spend on additional pay and benefits for state employees,” Fehrnstrom emailed.
Special thanks to reporter Beth Marlowe for the research help.
Update: DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz responds:
“On a day with Scott Brown bringing in Rudy Giuliani, he ought to give the people of Massachusetts an explanation as to why he voted against relief for 9/11 workers. We knew Scott Brown was a shill for Wall Street and corporate interests, but I cannot imagine what excuse he comes up with for this vote. He ought to be ashamed of himself and he ought to apologize to the Mayor of New York.”
With the race for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat nearing a nail-biting conclusion, Democrats claim they gained a major boost Thursday night after Republican Scott Brown said he opposes a proposed tax on big banks that is designed to regain TARP funds and curb compensation practices.
The Massachusetts state senator, who vaulted ahead of his opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley in one of several late-stage polls, told the Wall Street Journal that he is "opposed to higher taxes, especially in the midst of a severe recession."
"Raising taxes will kill jobs," Brown's campaign added in a statement. "Martha Coakley's tax-raising policies will make it harder to get our economy back on the right track."
In coming out against the big-bank tax, Brown joins the ranks of other conservatives including Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. But it may be dangerous political terrain. In the minutes after Brown's position went public, the Democratic Party machinery trumpeted it as a revelation of his proximity to both the financial industry and the far right. A strategist working on the race emailed the Huffington Post with the following synopsis:
This is significant marker... this is Brown giving up the populist ground that was fueling his campaign. It also undermines his central argument that he's not a lockstep Republican who will put Wall Street ahead of middle class families. Look for us to highlight and make him pay the price for this choice [Friday].
Democrats appear intent to use the big-bank tax as a political cudgel in the weeks and months going forward. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs all but dared Republicans to oppose the measure, which would raise an estimated $180 million in revenue per firm per year.

Alan Grayson Introduces Bills To Fight Corporate Money In Politics

Anticipating a Supreme Court decision that could free corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) introduced five bills on Wednesday to choke off the expected flood of corporate cash.
"We are facing a potential threat to our democracy," Grayson said in an interview with HuffPost. "Unlimited corporate spending on campaigns means the government is up for sale and that the law itself will be bought and sold. It would be political bribery on the largest scale imaginable."
At issue in the Supreme Court case is whether the government can limit corporate spending during presidential and congressional campaigns. The case is pitting Citizens United, a conservative group, against the Federal Election Commission. The FEC banned ads for Citizens United's film bashing Hillary Clinton during the 2008 election season.
Grayson introduced a handful of bills on Wednesday -- the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act, the Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act, the End Political Kickbacks Act, and two other measures.
The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act would impose a 500 percent excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns. The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act would require public companies to report what they spend to influence public opinion on any matter other than the promotion of their goods and services. The End Political Kickbacks Act would restrict political contributions by government contractors.
The other measures would apply antitrust regulations to political committees and bar corporations from securities exchanges unless the corporation is certified in compliance with election law.
"This case is basically about an effort to get around that. Citizens United took corporate money and tried to influence an election," said Lisa Gilbert of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "These are all pieces of good policy. I hope they draw attention to the potential frightening implications of Citizens United."
ABCNews reported on Wednesday that Democratic leadership is hard at work on a legislative response to the Supreme Court's expected ruling. Grayson told HuffPost that he had consulted with leadership before launching his preemptive strike. LinkHere
The hotly anticipated Supreme Court case that could open the door to a flood of corporate money in political campaigns represents the latest thrust in a patient, carefully orchestrated bid to use legal challenges to undo the restrictions passed by Congress.
The opinion on the case brought by the conservative advocacy group Citizens United is overdue and today was pushed back by at least another week. Election lawyers say it could have broad implications for the way cash flows into mid-term congressional elections that are gearing up now.
The case is just the latest of dozens of legal challenges brought over the past eight years that have been financed by major Republican donors and interest groups. Most of the cases have been designed to chip away at the landmark bipartisan law carried through congress in 2002 by senators John McCain, R.-Ariz., and Russ Feingold, D.-Wisc.
Funding for the effort has come in part from the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Charlotte & Walter Kohler Foundation, and the Roe Foundation , all of which have handed out millions to conservative causes in recent years.
The lawyer who has handled the bulk of the cases is a Republican National Committeeman from Terre Haute, Indiana, James Bopp Jr. Citizens United, which hired Bopp in this latest case, is a conservative advocacy group that has produced searing documentaries aimed at Democrats. It was one of these, called "Hillary The Movie," that gave rise to this court challenge, which explores whether the government can restrict when the movie airs, or force the group to reveal who financed it.
"It's very clear that there is a coordinated effort going on to looking for each and every venue and each and every issue, to go shopping for cases and for friendly circuit courts, because they feel if they can get these questions to Supreme Court, they like their chances," said Meredith McGehee, who as policy director for reform-minded Campaign Legal Center has regularly fought these battles. "Jim Bopp is at the heart of it."

Haiti death toll may be as high as 200,000

Worst-ever disaster facing UN
Haitian minister updates toll
Worst disaster confronted by UN
Make your own donation to Haiti here
THE earthquake in Haiti is the worst disaster ever confronted by the United Nations, a spokeswoman says, pointing out that the catastrophe has left affected regions with little infrastructure.
Tensions rose among desperate Haitians awaiting international aid and hunting for missing relatives today as aid begins to trickle in four days after an earthquake that Haitian authorities say killed 200,000 people.
Haiti's shell-shocked government gave the United States control over its main airport to bring order to aid and food flights from around the world and speed relief to the impoverished Caribbean nation.
Trucks piled with corpses have been carrying bodies to hurriedly excavated mass graves outside the city, but thousands of bodies still are believed buried under rubble.
"We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies," Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said.
A UN spokesperson said the quake in Haiti is the "worst disaster ever" confronted by the United Nations
"This is a historic disaster. We have never been confronted with such a disaster in the UN memory. It is like no other,'' Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said.
She noted that at least local government structures remained after the 2004 tsunami hit Indonesia's Aceh province, but in Haiti, the town of Leogane, for example, had lost all its public services in the earthquake.
The earthquake "has decapitated the city'', said Ms Byrs.
Ms Byrs had earlier said that a UN assessment team surveying towns to the west of Port-au-Prince found that up to 90 per cent of the buildings in Leogane were damaged or destroyed by Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude quake.
"No local government infrastructure remains,'' she said. LinkHere

Roger Ailes is the real head of the GOP.

Ain't that the truth
I've been trying to answer this question: does the Republican Party have a "leader"? Surely it's not Michael Steele, the loose-lipped chairman of the RNC. Not Mitch McConnell, the funereal Kentuckian who heads the Senate's rejectionist GOP minority. Not Sen. John McCain; he's too busy watching his own right flank back home in Arizona. And certainly not the Bushes, elder and younger, hunkered down in Texas. As for the 2012 wannabes, none gets more than a fifth of the GOP vote in the early polls.
But I finally found my answer while I was watching Fox News Channel. Last Wednesday, the other news outlets were engaged in wall-to-wall, on-the-ground coverage of the horrific earthquake in Haiti. FNC, meanwhile, featured an hourlong Glenn Beck sit-down with Sarah Palin, Fox's newest "analyst," and wall-to-wall, on-the-ground coverage of the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, where a Republican, Scott Brown, seemed to be closing in fast on what was once Ted Kennedy's seat. "All eyes are on the Senate race in Massachusetts!" said Sean Hannity, who did his best to make it seem as though he believed it.
Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum—which is why God created Roger Ailes. The president of Fox News is, by default, the closest thing there is to a kingmaker in Anti-Obama America. And that, in turn, makes him the de facto leader of the GOP. In a relentless (and spectacularly successful) hunt for cable ratings, Ailes has given invaluable publicity to the tea partiers, furnished tryout platforms to GOP candidates, and trained a fire hose of populist anger at the president and his allies in Congress. While Beltway Republicans wring their hands or write their tracts, Ailes has worked the countryside, using his feel for Main Street resentment to attract and give voice to this year's angriest—and most powerful—voter-viewers: those who hate the Feds, the Fed, and the Ivy League. It was Ailes who put the "party" in the tea parties by giving them a round-the-clock national stage. Next month Fox will have priority access to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville.
The irony is that Ailes is not in the game to wield political power per se. He doesn't talk to the RNC and he can't stand most elected politicians, even the ones he puts on the air. "It's beneath him to get into politics," says a longtime friend. In his universe, the Washington equation is reversed: political power begets profits, not the other way around. But if politics is a nonstop talk show, being the head booker means you are the boss. If Fox feels Nixonian in its resentments and its sometimes shaky fealty to the facts, well, that is what Jon Stewart is for. LinkHere

Obama Weekly Address Slams Banks For Selfishness: 'It's A Sight To See' (VIDEO)

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Saturday pitched his proposed tax on banks to recover the cost of bailing them out during the financial crisis, saying if they can afford billions more in bonuses, they can pay back the taxpayers, too.
The banks and Republican lawmakers oppose the tax, which Obama announced this week.
"We're going to pass this fee into law," the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Congress must approve the tax and that was not assured, given the immediate opposition from Republicans. Democrats also appeared in jeopardy of losing their 60-vote majority in the Senate, with Democrat Martha Coakley in an unexpectedly close race against Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts to fill the seat held for decades by the late Democrat Edward M. Kennedy.

Link Here

Prof Robert P Waton's list of President Obama's accomplishments so far..

Nov 19, 2009

Professor Watson writes

Hi friends,

I am always being asked to grade Obama's presidency. In place of offering him a grade, I put together a list of his accomplishments thus far. I think you would agree that it is very impressive. His first six months have been even more active than FDRs or LBJs the two standards for such assessments. Yet, there is little media attention given to much of what he has done. Of late, the media is focusing almost exclusively on Obama's critics, without holding them responsible for the uncivil, unconstructive tone of their disagreements or without holding the previous administration responsible for getting us in such a deep hole. The misinformation and venom that now passes for political reporting and civic debate is beyond description.

As such, there is a need to set the record straight. What most impresses me is the fact that Obama has accomplished so much not from a heavy-handed or top-down approach but from a style that has institutionalized efforts to reach across the aisle, encourage vigorous debate, and utilize town halls and panels of experts in the policy-making process. Beyond the accomplishments, the process is good for democracy and our democratic processes have been battered and bruised in recent years.
Let me know if I missed anything in the list (surely I did).

Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending
Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices
Instituted enforcement for equal pay for women
Beginning the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq
Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB
Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information
Ended media blackout on covering the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB; the media is now permitted to do so pending adherence to respectful rules and approval of fallen soldier's family
The White House and federal government are respecting the Freedom of Information Act
Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible
Limits on lobbyist's access to the White House
Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration
Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date
Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren't even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan
Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research
Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research
New federal funding for science and research labs
States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards
Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants) after years of neglect
Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools
New funds for school construction
The prison at Guantanamo Bay is being phased out
US Auto industry rescue plan
Housing rescue plan
$789 billion economic stimulus plan
The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying
US financial and banking rescue plan
The secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed
Ended the previous policy; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards
Better body armor is now being provided to our troops
The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010
Restarted the nuclear nonproliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols
Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic
Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions
Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office
Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job
US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast
Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles
Cash for clunkers program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulated auto sales
Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government
Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children
Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program
Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return home to visit loved ones
Ended the previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions
Expanding vaccination programs
Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters
Closed offshore tax safe havens
Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals
Ended the previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back
Ended the previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry's predatory practices
Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources
Lower drug costs for seniors
Ended the previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings
Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel
Improved housing for military personnel
Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses
Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals
Increasing student loans
Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program
Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy
Established a new cyber security office
Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force; this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.
Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts
Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness
Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient
Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced
Improving benefits for veterans
Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration
Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud
The FDA is now regulating tobacco
Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules
Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports
Authorized discussions with North Korea and private mission by Pres. Bill Clinton to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons
Authorized discussions with Myanmar and mission by Sen. Jim Web to secure the release of an American held captive
Making more loans available to small businesses
Established independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare
Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court
Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans
Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000
Renewed loan guarantees for Israel
Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan
Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan
New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans
Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production
Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters
Paid for redecoration of White House living quarters out of his own pocket
Held first Seder in White House
Attempting to reform the nation's healthcare system which is the most expensive in the world yet leaves almost 50 million without health insurance and millions more under insured
Has put the ball in play for comprehensive immigration reform
Has announced his intention to push for energy reform
Has announced his intention to push for education reform
Oh, and he built a swing set for the girls outside the Oval Office!

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D.Coordinator of American Studies
Lynn University"


Friday, January 15, 2010

Jon Stewart: Palin Like A "Moose In Headlights" On Fox News

Two of Jon Stewart's favorite targets joined forces as Glenn Beck interviewed new Fox News correspondent Sarah Palin. Even the set, which overlooked the Statue of Liberty, was ripe for ridicule. "She's from Alaska. She's not an immigrant," Stewart pointed out, before acknowledging it was better than conducting the interview while sitting on the lap of the Lincoln Memorial -- there'd be no risk of "Freedom Boners."
Stewart went on to break down the interview, mocking Beck's decision to read a journal entry he wrote about Palin. As Beck pours his heart out, Stewart is quick to note that Palin freezes like "a moose in headlights." He then compared to Jodie Foster's character in "Silence Of The Lambs," with Beck, of course, being Hannibal Lecter. LinkHere
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Harry Reid: Lieberman 'Double-Crossed Me' On Health Care

No one could have predicted that Joe would attack inside of the U. S. A.


I sure as hell would have predicted that hypocritical reprobate would attack inside the U.S.A.

In an article set to appear in Sunday's New York Times magazine, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that Joe Lieberman blindsided him on health care reform.
Lieberman announced his decision to join a Republican filibuster on CBS's "Face The Nation" -- apparently without giving any warning to the leader of his caucus:
Lieberman's announcement, which torpedoed a compromise that Reid helped to midwife, caught the Senate majority leader by surprise. Reid had spoken with Lieberman two days earlier, and one of Lieberman's top aides participated in the Saturday-afternoon conference call that Reid orchestrates for Democratic senators who will be appearing on the Sunday talk shows. "He double-crossed me," Reid said stiffly, associates later recounted. "Let's not do what he wants. Let the bill just go down."
Reid and Lieberman had a face-to-face discussion shortly after the interview. But according to the Times, it was a conversation with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that convinced Reid to drop a Medicare buy-in, itself a compromise for the public option.
Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, arrived at Reid’s office not long afterward — casually dressed, a cup of coffee in one hand — and after a brisk meeting, a decision was reached: Reid would abandon his compromise, which was intended to appease proponents of a government-run insurance plan ... As it turned dark outside, Reid began pulling senators aside in the lobby just off the Senate floor, speaking in a strained whisper as he presented the case in characteristically pragmatic terms. “I’m with you; I’m for you,” he told Tom Harkin of Iowa, one of the Senate’s traditional New Deal Democrats, who was pained that the public option was dying.
Sources told the Huffington Post in December that Emanuel urged Reid to cut a deal; the White House denied the report. LinkHere
It's a good thing joe and rahm are dual citizens. they don't demonstrate allegiance to the people of this country.

Roll Call reports that frustration with the Senate is boiling over in the House over health care reform. A senior lawmaker told the paper there had been no progress this week, and had some choice words for the entire upper chamber:
With all of these issues at a standstill, tensions are growing between the two chambers. Several House lawmakers have voiced frustration with Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) over concessions and special deals they cut in the Senate version.
"The Senate is just a pain in the ass to everybody in the world as far as I can tell. I'm so angry that I just wish from now on that we'd just find out what it is that Lieberman and Nelson will let us have," the senior lawmaker said. "But we're not giving up on anything in the House."

Honeymoon killer Gabe Watson could face death penalty in US

MOVES to extradite honeymoon dive killer Gabe Watson have been denied because he could face the death penalty in the US.

Bill Maher Explains Why You Should Move Your Money (VIDEO)

On the eve of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's first day of hearings, where the CEOs of four of America's largest banks are scheduled to testify about the banks' roles in the financial meltdown, Bill Maher explains why you should move your money out of a "too big to fail" bank and put it into a local community bank or credit union.
According to Maher: "This is not a conservative idea or a liberal idea. It's not left or right. It's populism at its best." LinkHere

Visit MoveYourMoney.info to find a community bank near you. Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about how to move your money.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monsanto's GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals

In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto's GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.
According to the study, which was summarized by Adam Shake at Twilight Earth, "Three varieties of Monsanto's GM corn - Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 - were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities."
Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however.
In the conclusion of the IJBS study, researchers wrote:
"Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity....These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown." LinkHere

Health Insurers’ Duplicitous Campaign Confirmed: Industry Covertly Gave Millions To Fund Anti-Reform Ads

Last September, ThinkProgress reported that, despite its public support for health care reform, the insurance industry was engaged in a “duplicitous” campaign to undermine the effort. Now the National Journal has confirmed that from September to December 2009, “six of the nation’s biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.” The companies used America’s Health Insurance Plans — the lobbying arm of the insurance industry — “as a conduit to avoid a repeat of the political flack that hit the insurance industry after it famously ran its multi-million dollar ‘Harry and Louise’ ads to help kill health care reforms during the Clinton administration”:
That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans. The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multi-million dollar donations.

The industry’s covert ad campaign isn’t the industry’s only means of wasting millions of premium dollars on sabotaging reform. As former health insurance executive Wendell Potter told ThinkProgress, insurers are using a variety of front groups to advance a hidden attack campaign. The industry regularly feeds talking points to right-wing media like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, mobilizes anti-reform “grassroots” groups and coordinates with conservative think-tanks to produce academic-appearing reports to advance their cause.
The insurance industry has also funded state efforts to challenge the constitutionality of health reform. Insurers have “spent heavily on political contributions” in the 14 states seeking to ratify constitutional amendments that would repeal all or parts of the new measure and contributed thousands of dollars to the attorneys generals seeking to disqualify reform. Earlier this month, Lee Fang reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield Association “played a pivotal role in crafting this anti-health reform states’ rights initiative.” LinkHere

US Fed earned record $45 bln in 2009: report

reddit_title='US Fed earned record $45 bln in 2009: report'

The US Federal Reserve turned a record profit of 45 billion dollars last year even as it plowed money into teetering banks to prevent a financial collapse, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The country's central bank played a pivotal role in propping up the US economy in the midst of the sharpest recession since the Great Depression, spending billions of dollars on a highly controversial bailout of financial institutions.
The Fed's unconventional moves led to a windfall for the government, the Post reported on its website, citing its calculations of figures it compiled from public documents.
It said the Fed will return 45 billion dollars to the US Treasury for 2009, the highest earnings in the 96-year history of the central bank. The largest previous refund was 34.6 billion dollars, in 2007.
The daily said the profits -- earned in large part from the Fed's aggressive bond-buying as it aimed to push down interest rates and stimulate growth -- were far higher than the expected profits of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan combined.
The figures lend weight to claims by President Barack Obama's administration that the Fed has been largely successful in its drastic intervention in the US economy and the protection of the American public. LinkHere

Some Fear Kan. Ruling May Spur Abortion Violence

Before the first juror is selected or witness called, a decision allowing a confessed killer to argue he believes the slaying of one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers was a justified act aimed at saving unborn children has upended what most expected to be an open-and-shut case.
Some abortion opponents are pleasantly stunned and eager to watch Scott Roeder tell a jury his slaying of Wichita doctor George Tiller was voluntary manslaughter. Tiller's colleagues and abortion rights advocates are outraged and fear the court's actions give a more than tacit approval to further acts of violence.
"This judge has basically announced a death sentence for all of us who help women," said Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder, Colo., a longtime friend of Tiller who also performs late-term abortions. "That is the effect of the ruling." LinkHere


Several of the plaintiffs say they were told the firm, now called Xe, was in danger of bankruptcy and that they might not get any damages at all. They want the agreements nullified.

Reporting from Baghdad - Several victims of a 2007 shooting involving American private security guards employed by the firm formerly known as Blackwater alleged Sunday that they were coerced into reaching settlements, and they demanded that the Iraqi government intervene to have the agreements nullified.

The Iraqis said they were pressured by their own attorneys into accepting what they now believe are inadequate settlements because they were told the company was about to file for bankruptcy, that its chairman was going to be arrested and that the U.S. government was about to confiscate all of the firm's assets. This would be their last chance to get any compensation, the victims said they were told.

When criminal charges against the guards were dismissed by a U.S. federal judge on Dec. 31, the Iraqis concluded that they had been duped and that Blackwater, now called Xe, was not in the kind of legal and financial trouble they had been led to believe.

"We signed the papers to accept a settlement because we had psychological pressure and some of us were threatened," Mahdi Abdul Khodr, 45, told reporters Sunday at Iraq's parliament. He led a delegation comprising representatives of nine of the victims' families who petitioned Iraqi officials to exert pressure on the U.S. government to nullify the settlements.

Xe confirmed last week that it had reached out-of-court settlements in seven lawsuits filed in the September 2007 shooting in Nisoor Square that killed 17 Iraqis, as well as a string of other incidents in which company guards are alleged to have killed or injured Iraqis. Altogether, the suits covered 45 injured people and the families of 19 slain Iraqis who have all signed settlement agreements, according to court documents. LinkHere


NY court rejects Dan Rather's appeal against CBS

Source: Associated Press

New York's top court has rejected Dan Rather's bid to reinstate his $70 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS Corp.

Rather's motion was denied without comment Tuesday by the Court of Appeals.

CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs says the network is pleased with the outcome. A call to Rather's lawyer was not immediately returned. LinkHere

President Obama to speak at House GOP retreat

Source: CNN
Washington (CNN) – Rep. Mike Pence, chair of the House Republican Conference, said Tuesday that President Obama had accepted an invitation to address GOP members of Congress at the group's retreat later this month.

"House Republicans are grateful that the President of the United States has accepted our invitation to meet with the Republican Conference later this month," Pence said in a statement released by his office. "House Republicans look forward to presenting the president with our proposals to protect our nation, create jobs, control federal spending, lower the cost of health care, achieve energy independence and strengthen families."

The House Republican Conference is slated to meet in Baltimore Jan. 28-30.

Specter To Back Dawn Johnsen, Clearing Way For Confirmation

With additional reporting from Michael Falcone
Senator Arlen Specter (D-Penn) announced on Tuesday that he will support the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the post of Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, clearing the way for her confirmation.
"After voting 'pass' (which means no position) in the Judiciary Committee, I had a second extensive meeting with Ms. Johnsen and have been prepared to support her nomination when it reaches the Senate floor," Specter said in a statement provided to the Huffington Post
The change of heart by the Pennsylvania Democrat represents a huge boost for Johnsen's supporters. The nomination has been held up for more than a year after Republicans in the Senate and a few conservative Democrats declined to vote for cloture, citing Johnsen's criticism of the OLC staffers under the Bush administration. The Obama administration announced last week that it was sending Johnsen back to the Senate for confirmation. But there were still questions as to whether she would receive the necessary 60 votes.

California Assembly Panel Votes To Legalize Marijuana

Since marijuana was criminalized more than 70 years ago, no panel of federal or state lawmakers has ever voted to reverse the ban and legalize it. That streak ended on Tuesday, when a California Assembly committee voted to approve AB 390, sponsored by Assembly Democrat Tom Ammiano, which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in the state of California.
The bill passed the Public Safety Committee by a 4-3 vote and now moves to the Health Committee before coming to the Assembly floor for a full vote.
"This historic vote marks the formal beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States," said Stephen Gutwillig, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Making marijuana legal has now entered the public dialogue in a credible way. Decades of wasteful, punitive, racist marijuana policy have taken quite a toll in this country. The Public Safety Committee has demonstrated that serious people take ending marijuana prohibition seriously."
Meanwhile, a group of voters announced they have obtained enough signatures to put a marijuana legalization proposition on the California ballot in 2010. LinkHere

Sarah Palin Starts On Air TONIGHT On Fox

NEW YORK — Sarah Palin will debut as a Fox News Channel commentator on tonight's edition of "The O'Reilly Factor."
Fox News Channel says that the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate will "sit down with Bill to take on America's top issues."
Palin's multiyear deal with the network was announced Monday, and takes her back to her broadcast roots. She majored in journalism with an emphasis on broadcasting at the University of Idaho and worked part time as a weekend sportscaster in 1988 for an Anchorage TV station.
O’Reilly excited that Palin will be able to use Fox News to help her political career. »
Yesterday, Fox News officially announced that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was joining the network as a contributor. “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News,” Palin said in a statement. “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balance news.” Last night, O’Reilly happily said it was a “[s]mart move” for her “political future” because she could have a platform to become more knowledgeable on national issues. Brit Hume was more cautious, agreeing that being a contributor would “give her a chance to perhaps polish her articulation of issues,” but staying clear of O’Reilly’s full-throated endorsement:
O’REILLY: Right. Okay, now let’s get to Sarah Palin signing on with FNC. Smart move I think for the governor. Do you agree?
HUME: Well, she’ll certainly — is somebody that our audience will be interested in. The whole country is interested in her. The fascination with her, the preoccupation with her is something to behold. And it has endured, you know, long past the end of the campaign. Still endures to this day. So she will certainly be an asset to the FOX News Channel in the sense of attracting an audience. And that will give her a forum where she can say what she thinks. And it’ll give her a chance to perhaps polish her articulation of issues. [...]
HUME: And to come across more knowledgeable on those issues.
O’REILLY: And she can do that here.
HUME: Well, I certainly — this will certainly give her a place where she can discuss those issues (INAUDIBLE).

White House Plans To Push For 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Repeal

Congressional negotiators and White House officials are moving forward with plans to add the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell to the upcoming defense authorization bill, Democratic sources tell the Huffington Post.
In Congress, members are being whipped to ensure that the votes will be there for passage, should the legislation be placed in the bill. At this juncture, aides say, the prospects look good. Meanwhile, a source close to the White House says the president has instructed the Defense Department that he believes the repeal of DADT should be placed in the authorization bill.
However, disagreements could emerge when it comes to crafting the actual legislative language, over which Defense Secretary Robert Gates will wield his influence. And at this juncture, few of the offices working on the issue said they were willing to take passage as a fait accompli.
"People have said publicly and privately that this is a good place for repeal to be placed," said one Democratic aide on the Hill. "It would be reasonable to expect that repeal might be in this year's defense authorization... But we aren't assuming anything yet."
If repeal of DADT is added to the defense authorization bill, critics of the program will view it as a long-overdue move. The initial law, in which members of the military weren't asked about their sexuality nor allowed to serve openly, was passed as part of the defense authorization for FY1994. Since then, a delicate balance -- which no particular side of the debate appreciated -- has been the law of the land. As a result, thousands of military personnel have hidden their sexuality from their superiors and even more have been dismissed for making their sexuality public. LinkHere

CQ: Obama's Winning Streak On Hill Unprecedented

In his first year in office, President Obama did better even than legendary arm-twister Lyndon Johnson in winning congressional votes on issues where he took a position, a Congressional Quarterly study finds.
The new CQ study gives Obama a higher mark than any other president since it began scoring presidential success rates in Congress more than five decades ago. And that was in a year where Obama tackled how to deal with Afghanistan, Iraq, an expanding terrorist threat, the economic crisis and battles over health care.
Unprecedented Success Rate
Obama has been no different from his predecessors in that he's always ready to send a firm message to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue as he "urges members of Congress" to come together and act. All presidents demand specific action by Congress — or at least they ask for it. But when you look at the votes of 2009 in which Obama made his preference clear, his success rate was unprecedented, according to John Cranford of Congressional Quarterly.
"His success was 96.7 percent on all the votes where we said he had a clear position in both the House and the Senate. That's an extraordinary number," Cranford says.
The previous high scores were held by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, with 93 percent, and Dwight Eisenhower, who scored 89 percent in 1953. Cranford notes that George W. Bush's score hit the high 80s in 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But Obama surpassed them all, Cranford says.
Presidential Success
On roll-call votes where the president had a clear position, what percentage of the time did Congress support the president's position?
He Picked His Battles
A major reason for Obama's record high score this year: Democrats took away a significant number of seats from Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, resulting in big majorities in the House and Senate for the president's party.
But Sarah Binder, a congressional analyst at the Brookings Institution, says there's another key reason he scored so well. She says he only took an official position on issues that were really important to him — those that he knew he had a very good chance of winning. He picked his battles carefully.
"He can do that because he's been in the Senate, his staff has been in the House and he understands the process here. They are consummate congressional insiders in understanding how this works," Binder says.
Part Two: Party Unity
CQ: 2009 Was The Most Partisan Year Ever Jan. 11, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jon Stewart Blasts Conservatives For Ignoring Pre-Obama Terror Attacks

fixxer81 Republicans are officially INSANE.

Jon Stewart skewered Obama's national security critics last night for dismissing the terror attacks that happened under Bush while coming down on the current president for his defense record. Both Rudy Giuliani and Dana Perino have recently stated that there were no domestic terror attacks under Bush, omitting not only 9/11, but the anthrax attacks and the attempted shoe bomber attack.
Giuliani made these remarks on "Good Morning America," playing what Stewart has dubbed "terror ball." He claimed the score is now Bush -0 Obama -1 and noted that the rules of terror ball dictate the winner has the lowest score. He showed clips of both Monica Crowley and Bill O'Reilly getting in on "the game," rationalizing pre-Obama terror attacks and excoriating Obama for the ones during his presidency.
John Oliver came out to explain the complicated rules, finally admitting that terrorist attacks only count when they happen under a Democrat because we all know Republicans are better at national security. LinkHere

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Iraqi in Blackwater case rejects compensation deal

By KATHARINE HOURELD, Associated Press Writer
Sunday, January 10, 2010
(01-10) 08:17 PST BAGHDAD, (AP) --

An Iraqi injured by the U.S. private security firm once known as Blackwater said Sunday he would not accept a compensation deal for injuries he suffered after company employees opened fire in a crowded Baghdad square because the amount of money offered is too low.

Mahdi Abdul-Kadir was speaking about a civil lawsuit that is separate from the criminal case brought against the company, whose dismissal has become a lightening rod for Iraqi resentment over the behavior of private security companies and prompted Iraqi politicians to denounce the U.S. justice system.

Abdul-Kadir said Blackwater's offer of compensation to those who had been injured or had family members killed was too low. He said he has asked the deputy speaker of Iraq's parliament to cancel the agreement that the plaintiff's lawyer Susan Burke reached Jan. 6.
Another plaintiff had said the company had offered $30,000 for each person wounded in the 2007 incident in Nisoor Square and $100,000 to the families of the 17 killed.

Israelis reject George Mitchell loan guarantee 'threat'

Believe it when it happens, but won't hold my breath waiting
Source: BBC
Israeli officials have shrugged off a suggestion that the US could withhold loan guarantees to pressure Israel over the Middle East peace process. The finance minister said Israel did not need the guarantees, while the prime minister accused the Palestinians of holding up peace negotiations.

US envoy George Mitchell said this week the US could withhold loan guarantees to extract concessions from Israel. The guarantees allow Israel to raise money cheaply overseas.

Mr Mitchell, who is due to return to the Middle East this month in his latest attempt to restart negotiations, was asked on Wednesday in an interview with America's PBS how the US could bring pressure to bear on Israel. "Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel," he said.

The Israeli comments on the loan guarantees came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signalled a shift in the US approach by saying that agreeing the borders of a future Palestinian state would deal with Palestinian concerns about settlement building. Both sides should resume peace talks as soon as possible and without preconditions, she said.

Jean Biden Dead: Joe Biden's Mother Catherine Dies At 92

Rest In Peace Jean Biden
Catherine "Jean" Biden died today in Wilmington, Delaware, surrounded by family, according to a statement released by the White House.
Born Catherine Eugenia Finnegan, the mother of Vice President Joe Biden was 92. She had recently been "seriously ill" per reports.
The vice president went to the hospital to be at her bedside.
Joe Biden mentioned his mother during an address at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and recalled the advice she gave him as a child:
"As a child I stuttered and she lovingly would look at me and tell me 'Joey, it's because you're so bright you can't get the thoughts out quickly enough.' When I wasn't as well-dressed as the other kids she would look at me and say 'Joey, oh, you're so handsome, honey, you're so handsome.' And when I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, and this is the God's truth, she sent me back out and said 'Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day!'"
More from the Associated Press:
WILMINGTON, Del. -- Jean Biden, who raised her son Vice President Joe Biden to believe in what he called "America's creed ... everyone is your equal," died Friday after falling seriously ill in recent days. She was 92.
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