Saturday, July 30, 2011

What should probably happen next with Murdock's News Corp.

Is that the prosecutors need to petition the courts, to conditionally open
all those settlement agreements containing "gag" clauses, so they can
be examined to ensure that they do not "misprison" felony or otherwise
pervert the course of justice. Many of these agreements never received
any sort of official/judicial review, but were made to keep matters
secret and away from the eyes of the police, the public and the courts.

Of course, now that illegal conduct has been ascertained, it becomes
increasingly likely that those very quick, very large settlements, that
had these secrecy/gag clauses in them, were also a way of avoiding
greater social responsibility for offenses real or imagined.

Without a Debt Deal, Obama Can Make the Rich Pay

Moshe Adler, Truthdig
Moshe Adler writes, "If Congress does not reach an agreement, and the deficit remains unfunded, this will give the president an unprecedented opportunity to expose who the government really serves, because it will be up to him alone, no agreement from Congress would be necessary to decide where to cut."
READ MORE

For many years, BuzzFlash offered a GOP hypocrite of the week award.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, a tax-bashing Tea Party champion who sharply lectures President Barack Obama and other Democrats on fiscal responsibility, owes more than $100,000 in child support to his ex-wife and three children, according to documents his ex-wife filed in their divorce case in December.

"I won't place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!" Walsh says directly into the camera in his viral video lecturing Obama on the need to get the nation's finances in order.

Walsh's wife is not a happy camper with his hypocrisy: "In 2004, Laura Walsh complained in a motion that despite her ex-husband's claims of poverty, he took a vacation to Mexico with his girlfriend and another to Italy."

The details get more sordid as you read the Sun-Times article:

In addition to the foreclosure on his condominium, Walsh was haunted during his campaign by disclosures of liens on his property from unpaid bills and staffers abandoning his campaign, saying he wasn't paying them.

Keith Liscio, who said Walsh hired him to be campaign manager - Walsh disputes that - has sued Walsh for $20,000 in salary he said Walsh owes him. Both sides are trying to settle that case.

Staffers learned during the campaign that Walsh was driving on a suspended license. His license was suspended twice in 2008 for his failure to appear in court, and he was cited in 2009 for driving on a suspended license, according to the Illinois Secretary of State.

Another noteworthy point is that it appears Walsh's current Congressional salary, $175,000 per year (along with tremendous benefits), is the highest he has been paid in years. He is prospering off taxpayer dollars.

As we wrote the GOP hypocrite of the week articles for many years, we would wonder: Are these con men (and the vast majority were men) or just people with profound psychological repression?

Either way, America loses as we get a daily dose of duplicity instead of public policy that can advance the nation.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Paul Krugman: The Problem With American Politics Right Now Is Republican Extremism
Read the Article at The New York Times

Why Is Pat Buchanan Still an Acceptable Television Pundit When He Is a Fringe White Supremacist?
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Mexican Professor Not Allowed to Fly Over US Territory: Plane Forced to Turn Back
Read the Article at The Progressive

Charting the American Debt Crisis
Read the Article at The New York times

Ann Davidow: The Jingoistic Cult of the Tea Party Is a Perversion of Our Once Proud Heritage and Principles
Read the Article at BuzzFlash

US Economy Almost Flatlined in Most Recent Economic Report
Read the Article at Reuters

Matt Taibbi: Evil Corporate Tax Holiday Gains Bipartisan Support
Read the Article at The Rolling Stone

Click here for more BuzzFlash headlines

Stop Calling This a "Debt Crisis" - It Isn't

Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future: "You have probably been hearing about 'the debt crisis.' I can't open a newspaper or turn on the radio or TV without hearing about 'the debt crisis.' Well stop calling it that, because that isn't what is going on. There is no debt crisis; the only crisis going on is the threat of several members of the House to vote against raising the debt ceiling if they don't get their way, thereby sending our country into default. They are trying to get around the rules of democracy and force deep cuts in the things We, the People do for each other while keeping taxes really low for the wealthy."
Read the Article

How Shadowy Right-Wing Front Groups Engineered Our National Embrace of Debt Reduction Over Job Creation




Lee Fang, ThinkProgress: "Since the end of the Bush presidency, shadowy right-wing groups, many of them formed for this very purpose, have primed the public with a sophisticated public relations campaign to shift the national discourse to a focus on debt reduction. Many of these groups do not appear partisan, and have figured out ways around registering their activity with the Federal Elections Commission (so the true extent to their ad-buying is rarely recorded)."

Read the Article

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Norwegian Terrorist Anders Breivik Got His Weapons From US, and More

In today's On the News segment: Boehner is two votes shy and no one is budging; economy has hit the wall; Democrats fighting GOP voter-ID laws; Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik got his weapons from US; GOP in House Judiciary Committee passed act forcing Internet service providers track your names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and web sites you've visited in the last year; and more.
Read the Article and Watch the Video

Help Wanted: Beggars, Prostitutes, Thieves-- Job Boards Leaving the Long-Term Unemployed Out of the Loop

Help wanted: Beggars, prostitutes and thieves.


A recent review of job vacancy postings on popular sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder and Craigslist revealed hundreds that said employers would consider (or at least “strongly prefer”) only people currently employed or just recently laid off.

Unemployed workers have long suspected that the gaping holes on their résumés left them less attractive to employers. But with the country in the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression, many had hoped employers would be more forgiving. Read more

Now it's the lawyers' turn to be sucked into the phone-hacking scandal

Leading lawyers feel client information may have been intercepted after their names were found in Glenn Mulcaire's file


Robbie Williams: Scotland Yard told his solicitor that a number of his clients were referred to in Glenn Mulcaire's documents. Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Now it's the turn of lawyers and the legal process to be sucked into the phone-hacking vortex. The Law Society has even suggested justice itself is under threat, implying messages could have been intercepted with the intention of influencing court cases.

Several prominent solicitors fear their mobile phones have been hacked. Some have been formally informed of the risk by police after detectives discovered their numbers among a private investigator's notes.

Graham Shear, of Berwin Leighton Paisner who has represented celebrities such as Robbie Williams and Jude Law, is one of those who has lodged a claim against the News of the World for damages over breach of privacy.
READ MORE

Murdoch Papers Hacked Lawyers, Too

At this point, finding out the News of the World hacked any group of people won't be surprising—you can't go any lower than tapping into the phone of a missing girl later learned to be the victim of a serial killer. But the latest revelation may have an impact in a whole other realm of the justice system: several lawyers have either been notified they were indeed hacked, or at least listed in the files of Glenn Mulcaire. Some represented celebrities, such as Jude Law rep Graham Shear, while others were directly involved with the hacking scandal, including Mark Lewis, who represented Gordon Taylor during the settlement. The Guardian reports: Read more

Despicable. Read the full story here.

Stephen Colbert Presents the Male Alternative to the Summer's Eve "Talking Vagina" Ads

Here's Stephen Colbert responding to the controversial "Hail to the V" ads for Summer's Eve, which were a very different (and oddly racist) kind of vagina monologues.

But I'll spoil things no further.

Just watch Colbert play the ads--and respond with his own similar product for men-- for all the context that is necessary.

What’s the Deal With News Corp’s Other, U.S.-Based, Hacking Scandal?


A guide to News Corp's far less known hacking scandal on this side of the pond.

July 25, 2011
After testifying before the British Parliament last week, Rupert Murdoch returned to the United States to be greeted with more bad news: The Justice Department is opening up an inquiry into allegations of computer hacking by News Corp's American advertising wing, News America Marketing. The New York Times' David Carr revisited News America's troubled history with "anti-competitive behavior" in a column on Monday. On Wednesday, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg wrote to Eric Holder calling for a federal investigation into the hacking claims, pointing back to a similar request he had made back in 2005.

What's this other hacking scandal all about?

News America was accused in a 2009 lawsuit


of hacking into the computers of one of its competitors, Floorgraphics Inc., to steal detailed information about their sales, clients and finances. Floorgraphics said they first realized they were being hacked in 2004, when they discovered intrusions from computers with IP addresses registered to News America. The company claimed that their information was accessed at least 11 times over four months and that they started losing important clients to News America shortly afterward, leading to a round of layoffs.
READ MORE

12 Ways Rupert Murdoch's Media Empire Has Made the World Worse


Rupert Murdoch has done a whole lot more damage over his career than what is being revealed in the hacking scandal.
July 25, 2011

This column originally appeared at WhoWhatWhy.com

Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. It’s a kind of tribute, in some sense, that the general coverage of his current troubles has reflected the detrimental effect of his influence over the years. Right now, the media, by and large, are focusing on tawdry “police blotter” acts of the very sort that have historically informed Murdoch’s own tabloid sensibility, while the bigger picture gets short shrift.

To be sure, the activities and actions of Murdoch’s that dominate the public conversation at the moment are deeply troubling, leaving aside their alleged criminality. Still, what is really pernicious about Murdoch is not his subordinates’ reported hacking of phones, payments of hush money, etc., or the possibility that Murdoch may have known about, tolerated, enabled, or even encouraged such acts.READ MORE

America’s Phone-Hacking Scandal


By Sharon Shahid, online managing editor

On June 28, 1998, under a bold headline, “An apology to Chiquita,” The Cincinnati Enquirer made a shocking admission.

The series of investigative articles it had published a month earlier on the business practices at Chiquita Brands International were “based on illegally obtained voice mail messages” by an Enquirer reporter. To get information for the explosive stories, Chiquita’s phones had been hacked.

The growing phone-hacking scandal that threatens media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s international empire is a reminder that getting a news scoop by unscrupulous means, though rare, is nothing new and is not limited to sensational tabloids.

The Enquirer’s troubles began May 3, 1998. After a year of intensive reporting, the newspaper published an 18-page series of 22 stories accusing Chiquita of bribery and other illegal activities in the Latin American countries where it produced bananas. The allegations were supported by access codes and phone tapes that the lead reporter initially claimed he received from a source at Chiquita.
READ MORE

Phone Hacking Scandal: Leveson Judicial Inquiry Begins In UK


By JILL LAWLESS

LONDON -- A senior judge on Thursday opened an inquiry into Britain's phone-hacking scandal that will start by looking at whether the country needs tougher media regulation.

Justice Brian Leveson said he has the legal power to demand evidence from witnesses – and plans to use it "as soon as possible."

Leveson's inquiry was announced earlier this month by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of a scandal over illegal eavesdropping that has closed down the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid and shaken Rupert Murdoch's global media empire.

Leveson's 7-member panel includes a veteran newspaper reporter, a former police chief, a civil liberties activist and a broadcast journalist. They held their first formal meeting Thursday and will begin public hearings in September.

The panel is due to issue a report within a year. Leveson said he would strive to meet that deadline, but "not at all costs."

Leveson said that "in the first instance the inquiry will focus primarily on the relationship between the press and public and the related issues of press regulation."

Later it will look at relations among the press, police and politicians.

The inquiry has the power to summon evidence and witnesses, including journalists, news executives, police and politicians. But Leveson said he hoped people would participate willingly to help root out wrongdoing.

"It may be tempting for a number of people to close ranks and suggest that the problem is or was local to a group of journalists then operating at the News of the World, but I would encourage all to take a wider view of the public good and help me grapple with the width and depth of the problem," he said.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/28/phone-hacking-inquiry-leveson_n_911768.html

Meet Erick Erickson, the Toxic Idiot Guiding House Republicans on the Debt Ceiling Fight

Erick Erickson: City Councilor, wing-nut blogger, patriot.

The notably nasty CNN commentator claims Republican House members are really taking his advice to heart.

We're still hurtling toward economic disaster as House Republicans refuse to sign onto a debt ceiling deal that falls well to the right of what even GOP voters say they want. Given the stakes, it's hard to understand why would they walk away from a package of deep cuts without new tax revenues – a deal they could have only dreamed of getting a few short months ago.

The simplest explanation is that they're terrified of their Tea Party base, and aren't eager to be primaried from the right by some deep-pocketed neanderthal. But it's also about beating Obama next year. Donald Trump articulated the prevailing wisdom in GOP circles this week, telling Fox News, "When it comes time to default, they're not going to remember any of the Republicans' names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that's Obama."
READ MORE

Glenn Beck and the Seven Norwegians

Posted by Amy Davidson


Gro_Harlem_Brundtland.jpg

On the Island of Utoya, seven girls came to talk to Gro Harlem Brundtland, who, in 1981, when she was forty-two, had become Norway’s first female Prime Minister. This was last Friday, just before the shooting started; Brundtland had gone to the island’s camp, run by the youth wing of the Labor Party, to give a speech. “My impressions from the day were so joyful,” she told reporters. The seven girls, she said, wanted her advice on the next election campaign:

I told them: be yourself. Share yourself. Be open with people. Explain what you stand for. Use yourself. This is what counts. This is what conveys values in the political arena.

And

One of those seven girls is no more. That I know now.

One can’t help but remember that that was the same sort of question Christina-Taylor Green, a nine-year-old girl, had come to ask her congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, the day Jared Loughner shot both of them at a mall in Tucson, Arizona. (Giffords survived, barely; Green and five others did not.) Green had won a school election, and a neighbor wanted to encourage her. That the moment of her death was also one shaped by the sorts of values that keep a community alive—her interest in a career in public service, her neighbor’s in someone else’s child’s future—threw the pain into sharper relief. But nothing could diminish the value of those impulses for all of us.

It is strange, then, that, even among some of those utterly sympathetic to the victims of the Norway shootings, there is a discomfort at the idea that they were at a camp with a political theme. The extremist, in this case as in so many, was Glenn Beck, who said this:

As the thing started to unfold … and then there was a shooting at a political camp. Which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler Youth or whatever. Who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.



Beck himself, it turned out, has helped out a Tea Party camp. But his showy hypocrisy, in this case, masks a more serious question. Even Andrew Sullivan, while calling Beck on his callousness, wrote that “such a camp is certainly creepy to me.” Why the disdain for politics, and for children who want to be involved in governance? The camp had been on the island since 1950, and was mainly a project of the youth wing—thus about leadership rather than simply being led. Perhaps, to be generous, part of the discomfort really is a leftover wariness of fascist youth groups and Soviet-bloc ones. But the problem there was fascism and Soviet ideology, not young people going to camp that asks them, after some time in the woods, to be a true part of their cities and neighborhoods. Or is Beck against the Boy Scouts? The antipathy, perhaps, is not to Utoya but to an abstract idea of “government.” (Hendrik Hertzberg has a post on the weight of that word, which has been much abused in the debt-ceiling debate.) Distrust of excessive state power, and a vigilance about what people in authority do, are not anti-political impulses, however; they are highly political ones, that demand our involvement in the government.

Isn’t the inclination toward political participation a positive one, and something that should be fostered in a child, whether by giving her a chance to meet her congresswoman or to talk to a former prime minister? Ask that question in Washington today, and the answer might be no. And that would be an abandonment. Seeing a child who wants to help run the world should, as Brundtland said, be joyful.

Read more

The 10 Craziest State Legislatures In America

The worst things that have passed in the states, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures.

While attention was naturally focused on the changes in Congress that came as a result of the 2010 elections, an overlooked, but vitally important, consequence of those elections was the strong rightward shift in legislatures across the state. As of the beginning of legislative sessions this year, 26 states were controlled by Republicans, with only 15 in the hands of Democrats.Not surprisingly, this has meant an epidemic of right-wing legislation being proposed and passed across the country. The worst things that have passed, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures. Based on what they've done so far this year, here are the 10 worst in the United States.

How Shadowy Right-Wing Front Groups Engineered Our National Embrace of Debt Reduction Over Job Creation

For the entire year, as a sluggish economy sputters by and states continue to struggle with falling revenue, the conversation in Congress has centered solely on spending reduction. Earlier this year, we witnessed looming government-showdown duels between competing spending reduction plans. Now with the debt ceiling debate, the only two options are a choice between a package of painful cuts and a package of deeply draconian cuts. There has been no lively discussion of new policy ideas for job creation, foreclosure mitigation, or how to spur demand, the key driver of economic recovery. Read more

The GOP Has Threatened Our Infrastructure Funds, So Get Ready to Crumble

The awesome Melissa Harris-Perry, who's filling in for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC this week, took a look last night at the state of our nation's infrastructure -- and the money it takes to keep that infrastructure functioning.

"It costs money to build the stuff we use every day: the water mains and highways, the electric grids, the sidewalks, the giant hydroelectric dams. And it also costs money when you don't keep the stuff you've got in good repair," she said. "The talk in Washington these days is all about spending cuts -- how we're all got to sacrifice, or we will never survive. But there's also this danger of [being] 'penny wise and pound foolish.' You think you're saving money by cutting a corner, but you're actually creating a bigger problem in the long run." And indeed, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, if we ignore our crumbling infrastructure, we will cost the U.S. economy some 877,000 jobs and suppress $3.1 trillion in GDP growth. Yikes. Read more

New Yorkers Slowly Warming Up to Eliot Spitzer Again

Photo: George Napolitano/FilmMagic

Speaking of the far off mayoral race, what about Eliot Spitzer? There were rumors that he was interested — and he refused to totally rule it out. Just one tiny problem: He disgusts a large swath of the electorate. But good news for Spitzer's mayoral ambitions today: Perhaps with the help of his defunct CNN show, he now disgusts a noticeably smaller swath of the electorate. According to Marist, in April of 2010, only 24 percent of New York voters wanted him to run for mayor; now 33 percent want him to run. In another year, could it be 43? [Marist]

Tell Us What You Really Think, Bruce Bartlett

"I think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so.” — Bruce Bartlett, former policy analyst for President Reagan. [Raw Story]

Bill Maher on the Controversial Ground Zero Cross: Remember Norway?

The cross is moved in 2006 from ground zero to nearby St. Peter's Church, where it had rested until this month.Photo: New York Daily News Archive, via Getty Images

A cross of steel beams that remained among the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks, and which became a beacon of hope for Christian rescue workers and mourners, has now become a symbol of controversy after organizers decided to include it in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at ground zero. An atheist group, the New Jersey-based American Atheists, has filed a lawsuit objecting to the Christian imagery, saying its inclusion "constitutes an unlawful attempt to promote a specific religion on governmental land." Much like the lawsuit against the city's decision to rename a Red Hook street "Seven in Heaven Way" (after the seven local firefighters who died on 9/11), the legal action over the rubble cross probably isn't going to win the atheism movement many new friends, or a broader acceptance.

That made us wonder how prominent atheists — atheist evangelists, you might call them — felt about the lawsuit. Did they agree with it? Is this the kind of thing that atheists should make a fuss over? So we asked a number them to weigh in. Well, only Bill Maher got back to us. Here's what he said:

The news from Norway reminds us that Christianity is also a religion with a bloody history, and perfectly capable of creating dangerous, violent extremists just as Islam does. Once you buy into the idea of things that are "holy", you're closer to buying into the idea of a "holy war." Anders Breivik was a terrorist calling for a Christian war against Muslims. In this atmosphere, symbols about whose god "rules" are not helpful.

Somewhere in New York, Bill O'Reilly just exploded.
READ MORE

$230,000 For a Guard Dog: Why the Wealthy Are Afraid Of Violence From Below

As inequality in the US grows, the ultra-rich are pouring their spare cash not just into private jets, but into private security. Think there's a connection?

“Violence in the streets, aimed at the wealthy. That’s what I worry about.”

That was what an unidentified billionaire told Robert Frank of the Wall Street Journal a while back. Rich people are scared of global unrest, Frank reported, citing a survey by Insite Security and IBOPE Zogby International of people with liquid assets of $1 million or more (translation: folks who have or can get their hands on $1 million in cash fairly easily) that says 94 percent of the wealthy are concerned about “global unrest” around the world.
READ MORE

"Strauss-Kahn Maid" Tells Her Side of the Story

Nafissatou Diallo, up until now only known as the "DSK accuser," has broken her silence in a very sad, very balanced cover story exclusive at Newsweek. In an interview given in the company of her lawyers, presumably to counter the "hooker" smears perpetuated by the New York Post, Diallo describes her version of what happened that fateful day, when then-IMF honcho Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly sexually assaulted her when she entered his hotel room to clean it. And while certain parts of the interview are vague—those facts surrounding her immigration status and past in Guinea in particular—her story about what happened in the Sofitel is vivid and unwavering:
READ MORE

5 Reasons Michele Bachmann Is the New Sarah Palin


Is Bachmann the new Palin? Or is sexism the reason similarities between 2008’s GOP VP candidate and 2012's contender keep popping up? READ MORE

Friday, July 29, 2011

Awful "Kill the Gays" Bill Is Shelved for Now -- But That Doesn't Mean It's Dead


Before delving into the less positive aspects of this story, let's take a moment to celebrate that the "Kill the Gays" bill is not law in Uganda, at least for now. As the AP reports, the Ugandan parliament adjourned today without passing the legislation:

Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuk said there is no time to take up the bill this session, which ends Wednesday, leaving the bill's future uncertain. Kiwanuk adjourned the parliament Friday and set no date for the body to return.... Read more

Unbelievable: Indiana Court Overturns Right to Resist Illegal Entry

Remember the Revolutionary War? One of the many reasons it happened was because British soldiers, under British rule, were allowed to search and seize colonists' homes using broad warrants, and American colonists had virtually no right to resistance. When the so-called 'writs of assistance' were challenged in a 1754 court, a Boston lawyer named James Otis represented the colonists pro bono, and gave a speech that a then-25-year-old John Adams later called 'the spark in which originated the American Revolution." In 1791, the Fourth Amendment, protecting citizens against unlawful search and seizure, was added to the Constitution, but the concept of privacy in one's home actually dated back to a 1604 common law. Read more

Not Too Far Below the Surface, Evidence of Racism Continues to Haunt the Tea Party

A string of events shows the Tea Party has not gotten beyond its race problems.
May 18, 2011

And some folks still wonder why the Tea Party movement has a racial image problem.

In recent weeks, white separatists wrapped themselves in a Tea Party cloak and staged a rally in Orange County, Calif. An Ohio Tea Party group sued a city school district after officials canceled the appearance of a virulently anti-Muslim evangelist the group sponsored. And then, last week, a black Tea Party Nation commentator unleashed an acerbic verbal attack on “black race pimps” that would have made David Duke blush with pride.

Lloyd Marcus, who clearly relishes his role as a black Tea Party figure who can disparage black centrists and liberals in terminology all but the crudest of white extremists would take care to avoid publicly, launched a fresh offensive last Wednesday. His latest target: the black organization ColorOfChange.org, for its campaign to pressure two regulars on Donald Trump’s television show, “Celebrity Apprentice” – Star Jones and Lil Jon – to repudiate the prospective presidential candidate for what the group describes as “race-baiting” comments Trump has made regarding Barack Obama. (Full disclosure: The co-founder of ColorOfChange.org, James Rucker, is a member of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s board.)
READ MORE

5 Mega-Banks May Have Defrauded Homeowners -- Will the Justice Department Actually Prosecute?

The nation's five largest mortgage companies are being accused of defrauding taxpayers in their handling of foreclosures on homes purchased with government-backed loans. http://act.alternet.org/go/7416?akid=6987.150508.FfU19t&t=25

How Fox News Uses 'Big, Scary Hip-Hop' to Race-Bait its Viewers

This week's outrage over Common and Jill Scott was ridiculous, but there was a more pervasive, nefarious issue at hand. READ MORE

Obama's Religion Problem: White House Funnels Money to Discriminatory Religious Groups

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo/Pete Souza

Taxpayer dollars are continuing to be dispensed to religious groups via a secretive and controversial government office.

May 13, 2011

This article originally appeared in Conscience magazine, published by Catholics for Choice.

After President Barack Obama gave a congratulatory shout-out to Joshua DuBois, director of his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFBNP), at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, Georgetown University religion scholar Jacques Berlinerblau wondered in the pages of the Washington Post "what exactly that office is doing -- a never-ending source of confusion, and even awe, among reporters, policy analysts and professors in Washington, DC."

Berlinerblau compared the OFBNP to the Kremlin -- apparently because of its ironclad hold on information about its activities, which are frequently reduced to cheery blog posts on the White House website extolling the virtues of faith-based provision of social services to people in need, but rarely addressing the thornier controversies that plague its mission.

Beneath its do-gooder exterior, the White House has taken few steps that have allayed the concerns of both advocates of church-state separation concerned about the OFBNP's constitutionality and advocates of transparency and accountability. Meanwhile, as taxpayer dollars continue to be dispensed to faith-based organizations, it is still unclear how an executive order Obama signed in November 2010, which set out new requirements intended to reduce some constitutional concerns, will actually be implemented.

Obama first launched the OFBNP in February 2009, shortly after taking office. At the time, he mostly kept policies from the Bush administration in place, including maintaining the arrangement of having a faith-based office in the White House, as well as offices in twelve federal agencies. Religious contractors and grantees would continue to receive federal funding under the "level playing field," a Bush-era term meaning that faith-based organizations would not be at a disadvantage relative to secular organizations in applying for federal funds. In one major change, Obama created an advisory council, to be made up of religious and community service leaders, to develop recommendations on how to improve the functioning of the office and increase partnerships between the government and faith-based groups in addressing societal problems.
READ MORE

The Santa Delusion: Why 'Religion Is Useful' Is a Terrible Argument For Religion



The argument from utility -- the defense of religion, not because it's true, but because it's psychologically or socially useful -- is freakishly common.
July 29, 2011 |

"But religion is useful. It makes people happy. It comforts people in hard times. It makes people better-behaved. And losing religious faith can be traumatic. So what difference does it make if it isn't true? Shouldn't we be perpetuating it anyway -- or at least leaving it alone? Why do you want to persuade people out of it?"

Atheists hear this a lot. The argument from utility -- the defense of religion, not because it's true, but because it's psychologically or socially useful -- is freakishly common. If you spend any time reading debates in atheist blogs or forums, you're bound to see it come up.
READ MORE

Outrage: Supreme Court Gives the Green Light for Cops to Raid Homes If They Smell Marijuana, Hear Suspicious Sounds

It all comes down to what the 4th amendment describes as "exigent circumstances." READ MORE

Why Does the Govt. Treat Peaceful Enviro Activists More Harshly Than Extremists Who Aim to Kill?


Author Will Potter explores how environmental and animal rights activists concerned with civil disobedience and property destruction are labeled domestic terrorists. READ MORE

Tortured to Death in the US


"The manner in which Texas carries out the execution of human beings is riskier, less transparent, and has less oversight than the euthanasia of cats, dogs, birds, lizards."READ MORE

Six Extreme Right-Wing Attacks by ALEC

Steam and smoke rise over a coal-burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 10/23/10. (photo: Martin Meissner/AP)

go to original article

By Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy

28 July 11

Model" bills voted on by corporations through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) touch almost every aspect of American life. The Center for Media and Democracy has analyzed and made available over 800 ALEC model bills to allow other reporters and the public to track corporate influence in state legislatures across the country (and in Congress) at http://www.ALECexposed.org. Here is a quick summary of six of the many "hot" topics on the ALEC corporate-politician agenda this year.

Disenfranchising American Citizens Through Voter ID

In the wake of the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years in the 2008 presidential election (particularly among university students and African-Americans), ALEC's "voter ID" legislation has been rapidly moving in state legislatures. Shortly after the election of the nation's first black president, "Preventing Election Fraud" was the cover story on the Inside ALEC magazine, and ALEC corporations and politicians voted for "model" voter legislation in 2009. Voter ID is a hot issue this year, in advance of the 2012 presidential election.

In many of states, voter ID legislation has ALEC's fingerprints. In forty-seven states, legislation was introduced requiring specific kinds of identification to vote or making existing requirements more onerous. These laws have the effect of disenfranchising many of the elderly, people with disabilities, people of color, and students, among others who do not have driver's licenses, but who typically have other proof where they live in a voting precinct (like a utility bill, which has traditionally been accepted for voter registration).
READ MORE

New Hacking Case Outrages Britain

Eight-year-old Sarah Payne was murdered in 2000. The mobile phone details of her mother, Sara, were hacked by a News Corp employee. (photo: PA)

go to original article

By Ravi Somaiya and Sarah Lyall, The New York Times

28 July 11

ritain was awash in a new surge of outrage over the phone hacking scandal on Thursday, as news emerged that Scotland Yard had added to the list of probable victims a woman whose 8-year-old daughter was murdered by a repeat sex offender in 2000.

The tabloid at the center of the scandal, The News of the World, had championed the campaign of the grieving mother, Sara Payne, for a law warning parents if child sex offenders lived nearby. Mrs. Payne, who was paralyzed by a stroke in recent years, had written warmly of the paper in its final edition, calling it "an old friend."

A statement released on behalf of Mrs. Payne by the Phoenix Foundation, a children's charity she founded, described her as devastated and disappointed. "Today is a very sad dark day for us," the charity added in a posting on Facebook. "Our faith in good people has taken a real battering." The page noted that she was struggling in the wake of the July 1 anniversary of her daughter's abduction.

British news channels, which had been growing weary of the scandal - into a fourth week of cascading revelations that have shaken the media, political elite and police - broke into their scheduled reports to report the allegations that Ms. Payne had been hacked.

"Forgive me if I sound cynical," said one member of parliament, Tom Watson, who has led investigations into hacking, "but I don't know where it is going to end."
READ MORE

10 TV Shows That Changed the World


July 28, 2011
Think the boob tube's not progressive? Think again.

Constantly derided as the "boob tube,” television is often seen as a brain cell killer—or, as this vintage Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy song quaintly put it, a “cathode ray nipple” and “the drug of the nation.”

Certainly, sometimes the wide selection of humanity-degrading reality shows can make TV seem like some kind of cynical government propaganda project, crafted to dumb us down until we attain a real-life Idiocracy. But as any media analyst will tell you, TV is still one of America’s most important mediums for mass communication.

Since it really took off in the 1950s, lots of directors, writers and producers have used the scripted format to push progressive ideas and help mold the country into a better, more accepting place—game-changing television. So while you might be concerned at the preponderance of programming that panders to our basest instincts for ratings and ad dollars, here are 10 really good reasons for progressives to flick on the set—or at least the DVD player.

1. Star Trek

In 1966, Gene Roddenberry’s popular sci-fi novels were developed into a television show that would translate its promise to “boldly go where no man had gone before” into a mission to make cultural inroads. “Star Trek” used its themes of alien life to reflect the civil rights movement, and at times, the burgeoning feminist movement, all through one of the first-ever multicultural casts on television (along with a Vulcan or two). Captain Kirk and his other-planetary sidekick Spock helmed the Starship Enterprise’s fealty coalition, including Sulu (played by Japanese-American activist George Takei) and Uhura (African American Nichelle Nichols), plus two strong white women (Janice Rand as Grace Whitney and Christine Chapel as Majel Barrett). There was also the Russian, Chekov (Walter Koenig), and the infamous Scottish Scotty (James Doohan), who were not of color but were allowed to kept their native accents (it was 1966, throw them a bone). Together, they were fearless, facing grave dangers and unknown worlds.

But they were not just space explorers.
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Threatening Calls While Employee Is In The ER? How Bad Is Your Boss?


Working America, a community affiliate of AFL-CIO, launched its "Bad Boss" competition last week. Among hundreds of submissions describing individual tales of exploitation in the American workforce, one grand prize winner was chosen yesterday. Some of the worst? One employee at an unnamed corporate coffee shop was threatened and harassed because of her heart condition and how that was affecting scheduling. The worst came when she was admitted to the emergency room and the boss continued harassing her. Read more

Media Blows Debt Crisis Coverage With Balance Bias


The idea that both sides in any given political fight are equal and deserve equal consideration is skewing the mainstream media's coverage of the debt ceiling fight.

Balance Bias (bal-ance bi-as)

1. The assumption that there is truth and legitimacy to both sides of every dispute.

2. The iron law in political journalism that one side in a debate can never be exclusively right, or have a monopoly on the facts.



This increasingly disorderly fight over raising the debt ceiling has not only exposed the petty dysfunctions of the US Congress, it has also revealed a core failure of American political journalism. The press has made the debt fight the top story for the last two weeks —even accounting for half of all stories on radio and cable news—but much of the coverage has failed to tell the very basics of what is happening.

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God and gays at Harding University

Posted by Max Brantley on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 9:00 PM

* FROM THE CLOSET: Gay students talk about life at Harding University.

Interesting reading has arrived:
At this attachment, you'll find a "zine"
described as containing perspectives from current and former gay and lesbian students at Harding University. Here's a website with more.

Harding, the Church of Christ institution in Searcy, hews to church teaching on homosexuality (disapproving) and participants say they have written anonymously for fear of fallout. As the website said: "It is part storytelling, part religious and political critique, and partly a manifesto of hope for Harding’s future." Take a look.

I've sought comment from Harding officials.

Censorship at 'Fox News U'

Students at ultra-right Harding University planned a conference on poverty, but school administrators had other ideas.
July 28, 2011 |

In the summer of 2008, a dozen undergraduates at Harding University, a small Christian college in Searcy, Arkansas, decided to organize a daylong conference on the loose theme of “Social Justice from a Christian Perspective.” The idea was to bring in Christian experts to address issues such as poverty, trade and agriculture. The students raised thousands of dollars and spent months planning everything from audiovisual tech support to the lunch buffet.

A few weeks before the event, Harding administrators finally get around to reading the conference website. They didn't like what they found. Officials summarily informed the students they would have to find another home for the rapidly approaching conference. Harding would have nothing to do with it.

“They said that the conference was not in alignment with the mission of Harding,” remembers Zachary Seagle, one of the event organizers and a 2010 Harding graduate. The conference was also not in alignment with the politics found on Fox News, Harding’s de facto campus network. But more about Fox in a minute.
READ MORE

The 6 Biggest Lies About the U.S. Debt


As Congress nears a vote on the various debt ceiling deals, let's look at the lies and misinformation that got us into this mess.
July 28, 2011 |

There is one simple truth about the discussion of the looming U.S. debt crisis: it is largely a compendium of half-truths, distortions, myths and outright lies.
READ MORE

Former DHS Analyst: Agency Bowed to Pressure From Right-Wing Bloggers, and Now the U.S. Is "More Vulnerable"



After a report on right-wing extremism was leaked, right-wingers accused the DHS of painting conservatives as potential Timothy McVeighs. Eventually, the agency buckled. READ MORE

Ask Apple to Remove Itself From Homophobic "Christian Values Network"

Photo Credit: deejayres on Flickr

CVN is used as a fundraising tool by several anti-gay, anti-women organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. READ MORE

If You Own An Xbox -- Or An Air Conditioner -- Can You Still Be Considered Poor?




A conservative think-tank seeks to redefine poverty, and of course, gets it all wrong.
July 21, 2011 |

Poverty is one of the least flashy issues in political discourse, but it seems to be getting a renewed focus--at least in some circles. Unfortunately, President Obama’s attempt to focus on the 30 million Americans living in poverty through anti-poverty initiatives got trampled on by Republicans. While the legislation approaches its second stage of voting, there’s little hope that, even if the measures get approved, they would have much of an impact.

Despite that disappointment, two different outlets have recently investigated the changing face of America's poor -- and only one gets it right.
READ MORE

Hundreds of Gay Couples Marry in New York

"We are not any more second-class citizens in the state of New York," said Yolanda Potasinski, 55, who stood in line before sunrise with partner Nancy Mertzel, a 48-year-old lawyer, to exchange vows in Manhattan on the first day of the law legalizing same-sex marriage.

"There's still work to do in the rest of the country," she admitted, as the two who have lived together for 18 years were among couples in New York City to say "I do."

City officials said a record-setting 659 couples were married in ceremonies Sunday and that others who received their licenses will be wed in the coming weeks.

"Today was a historic day in our city, and we couldn't be prouder that on the first day that everyone in New York City could have their love affirmed in the eyes of the law, we were able to serve everyone," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
READ MORE

I heard on the news that normal marriage benefit laws won't cover same sex spouses. This is probably bitter grapes, because under the law, benefits for married couples make no discrimination for sex. Sex has always been implied, because same sex marriages were never even expected. Not to mention that the courts are unlikely to even attempt to thwart the legislative intention to extend equal rights to all. Something jurisprudence already requires of the courts.

Environmental Activist Tim DeChristopher Sentenced to Prison, Tells the Court, "This Is What Hope Looks Like"

"In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like." Read his words to the court.

Editor's Note: Yesterday Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison and was handed a $10,000 fine for bidding on oil and gas drilling leases in an attempt to protect public lands.


Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the presentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to “get to know me.”
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Arkansas High School Decides to Appoint White Co-Valedictorian Because Actual Valedictorian Is Black

OK, see if you can wrap your head around the (racist) logic here. Kymberly Wimberly was the top student at McGehee Secondary School in Little Rock, Arkansas. So, the school named her valedictorian. And then shortly after that they decided to name a co-valedictorian. Why? Because the other student had equally as high a GPA? Nope. The reason it seems has to do with the fact that Wimberly is a black student. According to Think Progress:

READ MORE

Wisconsin DMV Tells Boy His Bank Account Doesn’t Show Enough “Activity” To Get a Voter ID

A video has surfaced of a boy trying to get one of the new Wisconsin Voter IDs that were ushered in by the signing of new a voting law in the state. Shot by the boy's mother with the clear intention of indicting the process, the video shows the pair going from station to station at the DMV, asking all of the right questions as to why there are so many hurdles to acquiring this constitutionally guaranteed ID card.

It is a shame the video is not edited more briskly -- at almost ten minutes in length its viral spread will certainly be thwarted -- but it nonetheless lends itself to breath-holding drama because of this fact.




READ MORE

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Air Force Cites New Testament, Ex-Nazi, to Train Officers on Ethics of Launching Nuclear Weapons

Jason Leopold, Truthout: "The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to newly released documents. The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine's 'Christian Just War Theory,' is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer's first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California."
Read the Article

Tell Congress: Investigate Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for Its Ties to the British Phone-Hacking Scandal

Photo Credit: AFP


Now that the scandal has made its way across the pond, American activists are urging Congress to investigate News Corp., the U.S.-based media empire that operates Fox News. READ MORE

Raising the Medicare Age Won't Save the Government Money: So Why Is It On the Table?

This is an excellent read about the idea of raising the eligibility age for Medicare, the plan that Sens. Joe Lieberman and Tom Coburn cooked up that seems to have been embraced by the White House. And not just because the authors, Professors Theodore R. Marmor and Jerry Mashaw, both of Yale, call the idea "dopey."

The only supposedly redeeming feature of the idea is that it would reduce Medicare spending by $7.6 billion a year, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. But that spending would only be shifted, not controlled. Read more

Boehner's Not-So-Good Day Yesterday Makes Catastrophe All the More Likely

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn't have an especially good day yesterday.

The embattled Speaker hoped to spend Tuesday shoring up support for his right-wing budget proposal, ignoring opposition from Senate Democrats and a veto threat from President Obama. Boehner scheduled a vote for today, and with sufficient support from his own caucus, the Ohio Republican could dare Dems to reject his ridiculous plan.

But Boehner's plans quickly unraveled. Fourteen House Republicans announced their opposition, and many more said they were leaning in that direction. Powerhouse far-right activist groups -- including the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, and the "Cut, Cap, and Balance Coalition" -- also pressured GOP lawmakers to reject the Speaker's measure.
READ MORE

Extreme Desperation: Why Oslo Killer Targeted Youth Leaders for Carnage

On Friday, Anders Behring Breivik allegedly detonated a car bomb in Oslo’s government quarter before disguising himself as a policeman and carrying out a deadly shooting spree on the island of Utøya. The mass shooting claimed 68 additional lives, an act of violence apparently motivated by the shooter’s hatred of immigration and multiculturalism. Witnesses describe him as methodical, relishing his short-lived power as he shot teenagers who averaged16 years of age.

Breivik’s decision to target a conference for progressive youth, not the immigrants he hated, was no mistake. And if there is a silver lining to the tragedy, it is that it was an act of desperation. Read more

Economic Armageddon: Gretchen Morgensen on How Wall Street Broke the Economy

NYT business reporter Gretchen Morgensen discusses her new book and the corruption of the mortgage lending industry. READ MORE

White Families Have 20 Times the Wealth of Black Families:

How Racism's Legacy Created a Crushing Depression In Black America

The economic crisis has hit most families hard--but since many black families had less wealth to start with, its impact on them has been nothing short of disastrous. READ MORE

15 Years in Prison For Taping the Cops?

How Eavesdropping Laws Are Taking Away Our Best Defense Against Police Brutality

More and more people use their smartphones to record police misconduct. But laws against wiretapping are being used to intimidate and stop them. READ MORE

THE DEAD COW LECTURE

OK, Pay Attention Now!

THE DEAD COW LECTURE

First-year students at the Purdue Vet School were attending their first anatomy class with a real dead cow. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet.

The professor started the class by telling them, "In Veterinary medicine it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the animal ' s body." For an example, the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the cow, withdrew it, and stuck his finger in his mouth. "Go ahead and do the same thing," he told his students. The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead cow and sucking on it.

When everyone finished, the Professor looked at them and said, "The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention.
Life's tough but it's even tougher if you're stupid.
---

BofA Donates Then Demolishes Houses to Cut Glut of Foreclosures

Bank of America Corp. (BAC), faced with a glut of foreclosed and abandoned houses it can’t sell, has a new tool to get rid of the most decrepit ones: a bulldozer.

The biggest U.S. mortgage servicer will donate 100 foreclosed houses in the Cleveland area and in some cases contribute to their demolition in partnership with a local agency that manages blighted property. The bank has similar plans in Detroit and Chicago, with more cities to come, and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Citigroup Inc. (C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Fannie Mae are conducting or considering their own programs.

Disposing of repossessed homes is one of the biggest headaches for lenders in the U.S., where 1,679,125 houses, or one in every 77, were in some stage of foreclosure as of June, according to research firm RealtyTrac Inc. of Irvine, California. The prospect of those properties flooding the market has depressed prices and driven off buyers concerned that housing values will keep dropping.
READ MORE

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FOCUS: Team Boehner's Hypocrisy




John Avlon, The Daily Beast
Intro: "The Speaker's response epitomized a disease floating mostly around GOP circles as the US careens toward default. John Avlon on the double standards holding the country hostage."
READ MORE

It's the scapegoating, stupid: Why extreme right-wing ideology so often inspires acts of violence

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 03:00 PM PDT



Much as folks on the Right seem eager to dismiss the murderous rampage of Norwegian domestic terrorist Anders Breivik as yet another "isolated incident" involving someone who was mentally unstable, a lone wolf whose views had nothing to do with his violent act -- after all, it worked so well in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting -- the story is not going to go away so readily.

READ MORE

Boehner Two-Step: Brief Boss Limbaugh First, Then Caucus



You seriously cannot make this stuff up. It's just too bizarre. First, we have the Boehner two-step, as he has dubbed his latest Unserious Deficit Reduction/Debt Ceiling increase bill. Then there's this, via The Hill:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlined the GOP's debt-ceiling plan to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh on Monday before showing it to his conference.

On Monday during his radio program, Limbaugh talked about the call he received from Boehner. Limbaugh's support of the plan would be advantageous to Republicans because it might help rally the conservative base.

Poor John Boehner. He can't please everyone, so he can't please anyone. Boss Rush might not even be able to help him with this.

Jesse Lee Peterson leads Tea Partiers' protest

+

Leonard Zeskind covered the meager Tea Party protest outside the NAACP Convention in Los Angeles this past weekend led by the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. And as he notes, there was little mention of any fiscal issues:

He also compared the NAACP to the Ku Klux Klan, as you can hear in the video above:

As the SPLC notes, Peterson has quite the colorful history, including the time he thanked God for slavery:


One thing you'll note about the video from the protest: Not only are the fiscal issues that are supposed to be the Tea Parties' focus almost completely unmentioned, the hottest topic for many of the speakers -- afer abortion -- was immigration. Peterson himself cites one of the event's speakers, Barbara Coe, who is a well-known piece of work:

READ MORE

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Broadcast Media Ignores Major Fox News Scandal

Posted by Mark on February 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm.

What does it take to get the attention of the media when a corrosive scandal erupts that they don’t seem to want to cover?

This past week a prominent and powerful public figure was implicated in a searing and salacious controversy.

It involves sex, felonious criminal conduct, corporate intrigue, political shenanigans, and personal betrayal. This is either the scoop of the year or the best damn plot of “Days of our Lives” in decades.

The central figure in the controversy happens to be one of the most powerful media executives in the world, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. It is alleged that Ailes tried to coerce a News Corp colleague, Judith Regan, to lie to federal investigators about her affair with Bernard Kerik, President Bush’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security. Ailes wanted to shield his friend Rudy Giuliani, who had sponsored Kerik, from an embarrassing episode as he was attempting to launch a campaign for president. Kerik presently resides in federal prison on tax fraud violations.

Can you just imagine what would have happened if the head of CNN or CBS had been the subject of such assertions? First of all, Fox News would have made it their lead story at the top of every hour. It would have been repeated ad nauseum with remotes from the network’s offices. Their primetime pundits would have spun it into a conspiracy that enveloped President Obama, George Soros, Muslim radicals, and protesters from Egypt to Wisconsin.
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Anders Breivik Plagiarized Ted Kaczynski



Murderer, plagiarizer.

You would think that a man so dedicated to his cause that he's willing to kill dozens of innocent people would at least take the time to write an original rambling, long-winded manifesto. But Anders Breivik, the Norweigan who has confessed to killing at least 93 people on Friday — and arrived in court today for a hearing that is closed to the press and public — appears to have stolen a noticeable chunk of his 1,500-page manifesto, "A European Declaration of Independence," almost verbatim from the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.
READ MORE

Media Rushed To Suggest Radical Muslims Might Have Been To Blame For Norway Terrorism

Before there was any evidence of who was responsible for the terrorist bombing and shooting in Norway, mainstream media outlets rushed to finger Muslims and Muslim groups as potential perpetrators and listed grievances that radical Muslims had against the country. Norwegian officials have since said that a non-Muslim was responsible for the terrorist acts. Read More

Right-Wing Media Defend, Deny Anti-Islamic Rhetoric In Response To Norwegian Attacks

Following the terrorist attacks in Norway by anti-Muslim fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing media have leapt to defending their own Islamophobic response to the attacks, often by making absurd claims like calling Breivik a "jihadist." Read More

Pressure on James Murdoch Is About to Intensify

Don Van Natta Jr., Graham Bowley and Jo Becker, The New York Times
Don Van Natta Jr., Graham Bowley and Jo Becker report: "After his testimony in Parliament was challenged by two former senior employees and referred by a lawmaker to Scotland Yard for investigation, James Murdoch has come under rising pressure in Britain's phone-hacking scandal that is likely to intensify this week."
READ MORE

10 Great Things About America That Drive Conservatives and the Religious Right Insane

10 Great Things About America That Drive Conservatives and the Religious Right Insane
READ MORE

Newt Gingrich Digs Himself In Deeper: ‘Any Ad Which Quotes What I Said On Sunday Is A Falsehood’

On Sunday, Newt Gingrich blasted Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal calling it “right-wing social engineering” and “radical.” On Monday, he defended his remarks, blaming the liberal media for stoking a controversy by taking them “out of context.”

By yesterday afternoon, he was calling Ryan to apologize. Then last night, in a remarkable interview on Fox News, Gingrich argued that it was dishonest to quote anything he said two days ago:

I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad. So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood. Because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate and I’m prepared to stand up… When I make a mistake — and I’m going to on occassion — I want to share with the American people “that was a mistake” because that way we can have an honest conversation. READ MORE

The 'Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement' Club gets a new member

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) surprised many political observers last week when, in response to a question about the right-wing House Republican budget plan, he declared publicly, “The leaders will bring forward (Paul Ryan’s) budget, and I will vote for it, and it will fail.”

Yesterday, the senator’s office explained that when Brown said, “I will vote for it,” he didn’t mean he will vote for it.

The Massachusetts Republican said in a statement that he favors the overall direction Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget takes toward reducing spending.

But Brown declined, through a spokesman, to say if he backs Ryan’s proposed Medicare overhaul, or if he would vote for the Ryan budget plan. […]

A Brown aide said the senator on Friday was using the Ryan budget as an illustration of how political games are being played in Washington, and he was not saying how he would vote on the bill. More

Wisconsin State Senate to Pass Law Making it More Difficult to Vote

In response to the looming recall elections, Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate are on the brink of passing a law making it more difficult to vote in those recall elections. Democrats in the state Senate delayed it last night, but it will pass Thursday:

Senate Republicans gave initial approval early Wednesday to a bill requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, but Democrats blocked a final vote on the measure until Thursday.

Senators signaled their approval of the bill on a voice vote, with Republicans who control the house voting for it and Democrats opposed. That vote came at 12:30 a.m., after more than 10 hours of debate, but Democrats used Senate rules to prevent the final vote. Read more

Awesome New Videos Hit Koch Brothers, Ryan Plan

Two new video advertisements are hitting the right wing where it hurts.

The first, from the Other 98, makers of Kochblocked.com, is an indictment of the Koch brothers.

The second, from the folks at the Agenda Project, is a literal demonstration of how the Ryan plan figuratively throws senior citizens off a cliff. Scroll down to watch.

Koch Brothers--It's the Evil Thing:



"America the Beautiful:"

"Getting Wise to Breitbart's Lies": Missouri Professors Survive Right-Wing Smear Campaign by Andrew Breitbart

Two Missouri labor professors have been vindicated after a right-wing smear campaign almost cost them their jobs. Last month, the website BigGovernment.com—run by right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart—posted footage of a labor relations class taught by University of Missouri professors Judy Ancel and Don Giljum. In the video, the professors appeared to make a number of statements backing the use of violence in the struggle for labor rights. But it turned out the video was edited in a way to distort their words—similar to recent video campaigns against ACORN, Planned Parenthood, NPR and former FDA official, Shirley Sherrod. "I was just appalled, because I knew it was me speaking, but it wasn’t saying what I had said in class," said Judy Ancel, director of the Institute for Labor Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Watch below:



Newt Gingrich ‘glittered’ by pro-gay protester

At a book signing in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich found himself covered in glitter. Gingrich was in town raising funds for the Minnesota Family Council along with fellow presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann. Prankster Nick Espinosa shouted, “Feel the rainbow, Newt,” as he poured glitter on More...

Tea Party Stupidity is already hurting us badly!

Well, their actions are already doing damage, unless anyone thinks that people aren't making plans to move their money out of harms way. See how gas prices are moving back up? Could it possibly be that oil is moving towards the euro?

Let's see what happens to the economy when these tea party debt maneuvers push everyone out of their cars, no matter that the debt ceiling is eventually raised.

It's like people can't see the stupid in stupidity! As if, people standing in the path of an oncoming, out of control car, won't run. Everyone is supposed to remain standing there, in harms way, waiting with baited breath, for "the last shoe to drop", taking no action until the disaster hits. When, in fact, that's not even possibly the case. At the first hint that there might be trouble with US gov't debt payments, governments and businesses began moving and scrambling, to get themselves out of harms way.
No one, but those too poor to matter much, is waiting to see which way the vote goes. Because, if they can possibly help it, they're not going to let Congress vote them out of their wealth.

Which means that the world economy is already moving out of the dollar! This heavily advertised threat of fiscal instability, forced on by the unthinking Republicans, has already damaged the credibility of the US. Gov't., and made our adversaries more powerful.

In today's world it takes an organization to protect the rights we enjoy, from encroachment by organizations that do not believe we should enjoy such rights, because that makes it more difficult for them to fleece and enslave us. So, the republicans solution? Damage our own gov't, shrink it and drown it! Then what? If we ruin our own gov't, do we think that China or Russia or anyone else, will also ruin or even reign in their own gov't's? Or, are they more likely to use their organizations to try to take over our newly unprotected society?
After they've "drowned our gov't in their bathtub", I guess we're supposed to turn to Russia or China to enforce our bill of rights? Yeah! Right!

Monday, July 25, 2011

'Super Congress': Debt Ceiling Negotiators Aim to Create New Legislative Body

By Ryan Grim 24 Jul 2011 Debt ceiling negotiators think they've hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public's unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress. This "Super Congress," composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn't mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers.
Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers -- six from each chamber and six from each party.
READ MORE

Norway Attacks Suspect 'Has Right-Wing Ties'

[Notice that the word 'terrorism' vanished from the media landscape and Faux News stopped covering it the minute they found out the guy was one of their own?] 23 Jul 2011 Police have said a Norwegian man arrested after the twin [terror] attacks in Norway is a right-winger with anti-Muslim views, but they do not know whether that was a factor in the [terror] attacks. Police are continuing to question the 32-year-old - named by Norwegian television as Anders Behring Breivik - after he was detained on Friday evening in connection with the [terror] attacks. National police chief Sveinung Sponheim said internet postings by the suspected gunman "suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views, but if that was a motivation for the actual act remains to be seen".
READ MORE

Norway: SV allows for military force against Israel

--In a proposal to congress by a unanimous editorial committee would allow the international community to intervene militarily against Israel if the country goes to the attacks on Gaza. 27 Mar 2011 [Translated version.]
The proposal deals with Norway's participation in the Libyan war, is also committed to act against Israel, writes aftenbladet.no. 'The world's credibility in the confrontation with Gadafi regime is weakened when the reaction to other states in the region who commit abuses against civilians fail. The world community must also act against Israeli aircraft attack in the Gaza Strip, said the proposal for comment.'
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Norway killer's plan to 'seize power' in Europe after London visit

--Witness accounts said a second gunman had taken part in a mass shooting. 24 Jul 2011 Anders Behring Breivik, the suspect in Norway's twin attacks that killed at least 92 and wounded 97, described in his manifesto a meeting in London where he plotted to 'seize power' in Europe. Breivik has admitted he perpetrated the atrocity but denied criminal responsibility as it emerged he left a 1,500 page manifesto of right-wing ranting. It is part diary, part bomb-making manual and part political rant in which Anders Behring Breivik details his Islamophobia, attacks on Marxism and his initiation as a Knight Templar.
READ MORE

Israel PM guards tell women reporters to remove bras

22 Jul 2011 Foreign journalists on Friday spoke of their distress after being asked to remove their bras for a security check before being allowed into the offices of Israel's prime minister. The three women were told by security personnel to undress and take off their bras for x-ray in two separate incidents at the Jerusalem offices of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week. All three complied with the request, despite the distress it caused, in an incident denounced by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) as "unnecessary, humiliating and counter-productive."READ MORE

Rumsfeld Buries Admission of Missing 2+ Trillion Dollars in 9-10-01 Press Conference

(9-11 Research) 01 Apr 2007 On September 10, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference
to disclose that over two trillion dollars in Pentagon funds could not be accounted for. Rumsfeld stated: "According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
According to a report by the Inspector General, the Pentagon cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends. Such a disclosure normally might have sparked a huge scandal. However, the commencement of the attack on New York City and Washington in the morning would assure that the story remained buried. To the trillions already missing from the coffers, an obedient Congress terrorized by anthrax attacks would add billions more in appropriations to fight the "War on Terror."

Terrorists 'R Us, II: Report: US transport funds end up with Taliban

24 Jul 2011 Money from a multibillion-dollar U.S. transportation contract in Afghanistan has made its way into the hands of the Taliban, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing an unreleased investigation by the U.S. military. The Post said the probe found evidence of "involvement in a criminal enterprise or support of the enemy" by four of the eight companies contracted by the U.S. to provide transportation services in Afghanistan. It also said contractors were involved in money laundering, profiteering, kickbacks and fraudulent paperwork. The newspaper said all eight of the companies are still working on the $2.16 billion contract.
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U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq contracting

--Source: More than 200,000 contractors have been on U.S. payroll at times in Iraq and Afghanistan, outstripping number of U.S. troops on ground in those countries 23 Jul 2011 The United States has wasted some $34 billion on service contracts with the private sector in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a study being finalized for Congress. The analysis by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, details of which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, offers the most complete look so far at the misuse of U.S. contracting funds in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than $200 billion has been doled out in the contracts and grants over nearly a decade.READ MORE