Saturday, April 14, 2012

American Nazi Party registers first Washington lobbyist

The American Nazi Party offers downloads
of Hitler's Mein Kampf
The American Nazi Party has registered its first lobbyist in Washington DC.

John Bowles, 55, told US media he wanted to address political rights and ballot access and he expected congressmen would accept meetings.
Lobbying was something the party would "try out for the first time and see if it flies," Mr Bowles told ABC News. He registered as a lobbyist this week.
Lobbying is a common practice in US politics and lobby groups are required to disclose their interests in detail.

Mr Bowles' Capitol Hill registration also listed his lobbying interests as agriculture, clean air and water, civil rights, the constitution, healthcare, immigration, manufacturing, and retirement.

Mr Bowles said he would not be paid for his work on Capitol Hill and would take a "careful and objective" approach.

"I'm not going to go in and shove a swastika in their face," he said.    READ MORE

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Closer Look At George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman Police wannabee
Written by: Annemarie Rush

Very little has been publicly known about the past  of George Zimmerman, the self-styled neighborhood watch captain responsible for the shooting of Trayvon Martin over a month ago.  In recent days, information has been steadily released through various media outlets referencing his family, history of violence, and hyper vigilance in relation to upholding the law. While beginning to provide more clarity in terms of his background, this information has also opened up the doors to questions regarding whether the death of Trayvon Martin could have been prevented.
Here is what is known:   READ MORE

For another attempt at it click here.

Gingrich Film Slams Romney, Angers Republicans

By Reader Supported News
16 January 12

The video above, titled "When Mitt Romney Came to Town," was produced by a so-called "Super PAC" named "Winning Our Future." While Winning Our Future states on its website: "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee," they also go on to say, "Winning Our Future means nominating Former Speaker Newt Gingrich for President in 2012. And advancing that goal is what Winning Our Future is all about."

The backing for Winning Our Future appears to come in large part from Gingrich's friend and longtime associate, billionaire gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson. According to the New York Times, Adelson staked Winning Our Future with a $5 million war chest.

"When Mitt Romney Came to Town" appears to have been a component of Mr. Gingrich's strategy for defeating Mr. Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. However, Gingrich, under pressure from Republican power brokers to tone down the criticism, has now backed away from the film citing "inaccuracies" and saying, "I am calling on them to either edit out every single mistake or pull the entire film." -- RSN Staff

Spain Proceeding With Bush Torture Case

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are watched by
military police. (photo: Reuters)
By Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald
16 January 12

The Obama administration may want to look forward but but other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.

Spanish judge on Friday re-launched an investigation into the alleged torture of detainees held at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, one day after a British authorities launched a probe into CIA renditions to Libya.

The twin developments demonstrated that while the Obama administration has stuck to its promise not to investigate whether Bush administration officials acted illegally by authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques, other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.

In Madrid, Judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez handed down a 19-page decision Friday in which he said he would seek additional information - medical data, a translation of a Human Rights Watch report, elaboration on material made public by WikiLeaks, and testimony from three senior U.S. military officers who served at Guantánamo - in the case of four released Guantánamo captives who allege they were humiliated and subjected to torture while in U.S. custody.  READ MORE

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

Romney's Bain Made Millions as South Carolina Steelmaker Went Bankrupt

Corporations are People My Friends
Monday, 16 January 2012 03:45 By David Wren, McClatchy Newspapers | Report 

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - Boston-based Bain Capital LLC more than doubled its money on GS Industries Inc. — the former parent company of Georgetown Steel — under Mitt Romney's leadership in the 1990s, even as the steel manufacturer went on to cut more than 1,750 jobs, shuttered a division that had been around for 100 years and eventually sank into bankruptcy.

Bain Capital spent $24.5 million to acquire GS Industries in 1993, according to an investment prospectus for the company that was obtained by the Los Angeles Times and reviewed by McClatchy Newspapers. By the end of that decade, Bain Capital estimated its partners had made $58.4 million off its investment in GS Industries, according to the prospectus.

Bain Capital's partners also earned multimillion-dollar dividends from GS Industries and annual management fees of about $900,000. But by the time GS Industries filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, it owed $553.9 million in debts against assets valued at $395.2 million.

Romney - who founded Bain Capital, one of the earliest leveraged-buyout firms, in 1984 - was in charge of the firm for most of the time it owned GS Industries. Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, two years before the bankruptcy, to run the organizing committee for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"We were doing well and then Bain Capital bought us and they took everything they could out of the company without making the investments we needed to stay competitive," said James Sanderson, who has been with the mill since 1974 and served as its union president since 1988. "They ran the company into bankruptcy."  READ MORE

Fox Spreads Romney's Dubious Talking Point On Women's Job Losses

April 12, 2012 6:07 pm ET 
Fox is reinforcing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's attacks on the Obama administration by parroting his misleading claim that since President Obama took office, "92.3 percent of the job losses ... has been women who've lost those jobs." In fact, this indicator is meaningless in understanding how Obama's policies have impacted working women as it ignores several important factors, including when the recession began and the fact that more women are in the workforce today than in January 2008.

Mitt Romney: "The Real War On Women Has Been Waged By The Obama Administration"

Mitt Romney Made Dubious Women Jobs-Loss Claim To Attack Obama Over Economy. reported:

April 12, 2012 12:21 pm ET

Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.   READ MORE

What would "drill baby drill" mean for gasoline prices?
Would the Keystone XL pipeline affect gasoline prices?
Is monetary policy to blame for the recent price spike?
How do U.S. fuel taxes compare to other nations?
Could we shift to a single national gasoline blend?
Why did oil and gasoline prices fall sharply in late 2008?
If we end tax breaks for oil companies, would gasoline prices change?
Do oil companies receive the same tax breaks as other companies?
How does current U.S. oil production compare to previous years?
How much oil is coming from federal lands relative to previous years?
How have U.S. petroleum imports changed in recent years?
Is the U.S. sitting on over a trillion barrels of oil?
What would "energy independence" mean for gasoline prices?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Murder charge is filed in killing of Trayvon Martin

Prosecutor Angela Corey announces a second-degree
murder charge against George Zimmerman. (Gary W.
Green, Orlando Sentinel / April 11, 2012)

George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

SANFORD, Fla. — For weeks, protesters around the nation have demanded the arrest of George Zimmerman.

A Florida special prosecutor made that happen Wednesday. She announced that Zimmerman — the neighborhood watch volunteer who admitted to fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager on a rainy night here in February — had turned himself in and would be charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

"We did not come to this decision lightly," said Florida State Atty. Angela Corey at a news conference in Jacksonville.

Alluding to the intense publicity surrounding the case, she added, "Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition."

Corey declined to discuss the details of the investigation that led her office to charge Zimmerman, who had claimed self-defense — and who had been free, though in hiding, for weeks. Nor would she say where he was being held, "for his safety as well as for everyone else's safety."  READ MORE

An uneasy calm settles over Sanford, Fla.

Residents wonder what's next after weeks of racial tension before the arrest of a neighborhood watch volunteer who killed teen Trayvon Martin.

  SANFORD, Fla. — When the Rev. Al Sharptonled a rally of thousands here last month, he told city leaders that they "risked going down as the Selma or Birmingham of the 21st century" unless George Zimmerman was arrested.

On Thursday, with Zimmerman behind bars, many here were wondering when they would get their reputation back.

"There's not all this racialism, like everyone's saying," said Beth Rollf, who is white and owns downtown's Taste of Thyme Cafe. "There are no riots. People need to know Sanford for what it is: a quaint, artsy town with a lot to offer."

Whether Sanford will be scrubbed from the list of American cities with an ignominious racial past was just one of the unresolved issues reverberating the day after Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, turned himself in to authorities, charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of unarmed black teenager Trayvon MartinREAD MORE




What happened when? Visualised

The phone hacking scandal has become so complicated we wanted to create the ultimate wallchart showing what happened when in the affair   READ MORE


Lawyer says British phone hacking scandal could spread to U.S.

April 12, 2012 |  8:07 am

LONDON -- The British phone hacking scandal that resulted in scores of arrests and the July closing of the popular tabloid News of the World could spread to the United States, a media lawyer who represents several victims said Thursday.

Attorney Mark Lewis said inquiries by British police into illegal phone interceptions by the tabloid were widening and he would be seeking documentation in the U.S. on behalf of three of his clients, who he said were victims of illegal phone interceptions.

The tabloid is owned by News International, the British branch of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
“The cases I am pursuing were by the News of the World against people who were in the U.S. at the time they were hacked or were U.S. citizens,” he said in a email to The Times sent while he was en route to the airport.

“The scandal is not just confined to the United Kingdom or U.K. companies,” he told the BBC, “but this goes to the heartland of News Corp. and we will be looking at the involvement of the parent company and in terms of claims there and that is something that I think will be taken more seriously by investors and shareholders in News Corp.”

He also said that of his three clients, whom he declined to identify, one had connections to Hollywood, another to the late Princess Diana and the third to English national soccer.  READ MORE

Republicans Tampered With Court Audio in Obama Attack Ad

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Greg Stohr, Bloomberg
31 March 12

Republican Party Internet advertisement altered the audio of U.S. Supreme Court (1000L) oral arguments in an attack on President Barack Obama's health-care law.
In a web ad circulated this week, the Republican National Committee excerpts the opening seconds of the March 27 presentation by Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. In the ad, he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water.
"Obamacare," the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. "It's a tough sell."
A review of a transcript and recordings of those moments shows that Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period and completed his thought - rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the edited version.  READ MORE


Why Keystone XL, War With Iran, and "Drill Baby Drill" Will Actually Raise Gas Prices

Photo Credit: SkyTruth
Republican energy policies are deliberately designed to raise gas prices in the short, near, mid, and long term -- and undermine America's economy and security to boot.
March 20, 2012

While Newt Gingrich travels the country extolling the power of a magical plan to lower gasoline prices (perhaps revolving around unicorns towing our cars), a simple fact:

The Republican policy agenda will lead to increased gasoline prices at the pump in the short, near, mid, and long term while undermining the American economy and American security.

While there are a plethora of other elements, let’s narrow down to just four key Republican agenda items:

Government As Venture Capitalist: The Amazing True History

Photo Credit: chailey
How government investment created the technologies that have made us so rich
March 21, 2012

In the early days of the Solyndra debacle, as the reality dawned on the White House that its half-billion-dollar investment was about to go belly-up, former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers famously observed that, "Government is a lousy venture capitalist."

The quip, discovered after House Republicans subpoenaed White House e-mails about Solyndra, fairly well characterizes good Washington opinion these days in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy. But before we conclude that government ought to get out of the business of betting on new technologies, we'd do well to try imagining our modern economy without computers, the Internet and jet travel, all of which were heavily subsidized by the federal government.

Critics of government investment in technology cherry-pick high-profile failures such as Solyndra, the 1970s "synfuels" program to make gasoline out of coal, and corn ethanol. But these relatively marginal failures pale in comparison to the long history of successful government investments that have transformed our economy and contributed mightily to our affluence over the last century.  READ MORE

"Billionaire Oil Guys" Lose Bid to Takeover Cato institute

Koch Brothers
 It looks like the Koch Brothers’ efforts to take over the libertarian think-tank the Cato Institute and oust long-time president Ed Crane has been thwarted. According to David Weigel, who is close to these folks, Crane called a meeting of the Cato board and used an obscure bylaw to expand it and then pack it with loyalists.
In a subsequent interview, Crane told Weigel this:
I want to save Cato. I’ll step down if it ends this thing. It can’t be a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. Who the hell is going to take a think tank seriously that’s controlled by billionaire oil guys? It’s just nuts!   READ MORE

New Technology May Make It Possible To Capture Carbon Right Out Of The Air

Photo Credit: freefotouk
The idea's still in the lab -- and it won't solve everything -- but theoretically, it should be possible to extract carbon straight out of the air.
March 21, 2012

What if, in addition to curbing greenhouse gas emissions, we could capture them from the air? That’s the question that prompted Marc Gunther, an author and contributing editor at Fortune magazine, to write the e-book Suck It Up, a Kindle Single. Below is an excerpt from the book on the history of the start-up Kilimanjaro Energy, a private company that is seeking to solve the carbon extraction equation.

Working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory during the 1990s, Klaus Lackner had numerous interests: the behavior of high explosives, nuclear fusion, and self-replicating machine systems. At some point, he turned his attention to the technology used to capture CO2 from the smokestacks of coal plants — technology in which the U.S. government has invested billions of dollars, with little to show for it. He began to wonder whether it might make more sense to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere. So when his daughter Claire asked for help with a science project, he asked her: “Why don’t you pull CO2 out of the air?”
Chemical engineers have known for decades that sodium hydroxide, a caustic base also known as lye, will bind with CO2, an acid, to make carbonates. That’s basically how CO2 is removed from the air so people can continue to breathe on submarines or in spaceships. Claire accomplished the feat by filling a test tube with a solution of sodium hydroxide, buying a fish-tank pump from a pet store, and running air through the test tube all night. By the next day, some of the sodium hydroxide had absorbed CO2, creating a solution of sodium carbonate.
“I was surprised that she pulled this off as well as she did,” Lackner recalls, “which made me feel that it could be easier than I thought.”  READ MORE

Palestinians Lose Water Access as Israelis Take Over Springs

Ein Al Ariq spring near Nablus, a Palestinian city in
the northern West Bank. Following its takeover by
Eli settlers, the spring was renamed Ein Hagvura.
(Photo courtesy OCHA)
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 21, 2012 (ENS) - Palestinians are losing access to water sources in the West Bank as Israeli settlers take over springs. The settlers use threats, intimidation and fences to ensure control of water sources near the settlements, finds a new United Nations survey released today.

Thirty of the springs were found to be under full settler control, with no Palestinian access to the area, according to the assessment carried by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs over the course of the past year.

The survey identified a total of 56 water springs close to the Israeli settlements, the majority of which are located in Area C - which represents over 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains control over security, planning and building - and on land parcels recorded by the Israeli Civil Administration as privately owned by Palestinians.   READ MORE

How ALEC is Destroying the Teaching of Climate Change Science, One State at a Time

Photo Credit: Helder Almeida via
Tennessee just became the fourth state in the nation to include climate change denial in their science education curriculum. Who's behind this crafty legislation? You guessed it.
March 22, 2012

The month of March has seen unprecedented heat and temperatures. A rational thinking, scientifically-grounded individual could only posit, "Well, hmm, I bet climate change has something to do with the fact that in Madison, WI, it is 80 degrees in mid-March. Sometimes it's 60 or 70 degrees colder than this!"
While that individual would be positing something that is the well-accepted scientific consensus, in some states, under law, that is only a "controversial theory among other theories."

Welcome to Tennessee, which on March 19th became the fourth state with a legal mandate to incorporate climate change denial as part of the science education curriculum when discussing climate change.  READ MORE

George Zimmerman Arrested for 2nd Degree Murder

Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:31pm EDT
George Zimmerman is under arrest, charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida special prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Zimmerman, 28, who's been in hiding since news of Martin's killing gained worldwide attention, turned himself in on an arrest warrant, called a capias, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey said at a news conference.

"I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly," Corey said in remarks broadcast live on TV and online. "We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts in any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida."

So what is second degree murder?

Florida's jury instructions (which are based on the Florida statute) spell out three elements that prosecutors must prove to establish second degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt:
  • The victim is deceased,
  • The victim's death was caused by the defendant's criminal act, and
  • There was an unlawful killing of the victim "by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life."
The last element -- an "imminently dangerous" act that shows a "depraved mind" -- is further defined by Florida's jury instructions. Three elements must be present:  READ MORE

The JOBS Act: Dumbest 'Bipartisan' Move Since Repealing Glass-Steagall

The so-called "JOBS Act," introduced by the far-right Republicans and passed by members of both parties, opens the door to yet more corporate abuse.
March 23, 2012

Here we go again. Once again the 'bipartisan' consensus in Washington, fueled by an intoxicating brew of conventional wisdom laced with campaign cash, has repealed some of those 'cumbersome regulations' that do nothing of value - nothing, that is, except prevent catastrophes. There will be celebrating on both sides of the aisle when the President signs this bill.

And when disaster strikes a few years from now, as it inevitably will, they'll all say "Nobody could have seen it coming." Plus ça change, plus c'est la même crap. Creationism can't disprove the theory of evolution - but a little time in Washington will make you think twice.

Here we are, surrounded by still-smoldering financial wreckage, and almost everyone in Washington is falling over themselves to repeat exactly the same kinds of actions that got us into this mess. Last time around it was the repeal of Glass-Steagall, introduced by Republican Sen. Phil Gramm and enthusiastically signed by President Clinton in the presence of Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

This time it's the deceptively named "JOBS Act," introduced by the far-right Republicans in Congress and passed overwhelmingly by members of both parties. The President indicated his eagerness to sign the bill early on. Once again basic protections for investors, including individuals and families, are being recklessly overturned in a deregulating frenzy.  READ MORE

Why Isn't the Gun Nut Lobby Saying Trayvon Martin Should Have Been Armed?

Now here's a good question:
Think about it. Every other situation in which an innocent person gets gunned down there is a cacophony of gun nuts screeching that if only this person had been armed he could have defended himself. It's been the basis of every concealed and open carry argument for the last couple of decades.

And yet, in this case, nothing. No impassioned appeals for loosening the gun laws so that ordinary Americans could go to the store in the evening to buy some candy and an iced tea without getting stalked and shot by some unhinged vigilante. No solemn op-eds about the dangers for average Americans when venturing unarmed into the streets of their own neighborhoods. No fiery speeches from Wayne LaPierre insisting that if only everyone in the neighborhood had been armed with submachine guns they could have run outside and started firing immediately upon hearing the screams for help. Nada. Why do you suppose that is?

Update: Last night I saw Zimmerman's friend on CNN defending him in a very revealing way:

Wisconsin Lawmaker to Spousal Abuse Victims: If You Are Being Beaten, Just Remember the Things You Love About Your Husband

Don Pridemore (R) Wisconsin
If you need any further proof that we are in the midst of a full-on patriarchal biblical-religious war on women, a Wisconsin lawmaker is happy to provide it.

According to Yahoo News, Wisconsin Rep. Don Pridemore helpfully suggests that, rather than divorcing an abusive spouse, you should try to remember the things you love about the guy while he is beating you up.
In Wisconsin -- yes, the same state where lawmakers have introduced a bill penalizing single mothers for being unmarried -- a Republican state representative has come out against divorce for any reason -- even domestic abuse

Instead of leaving an abusive situation, women should try to remember the things they love about their husbands, Representative Don Pridemore said. "If they can re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help," he told a local news station.   READ MORE

23 States with "Stand Your Ground" Gun Laws Like the One that Let Trayvon Martin's Killer Go Free

Here’s a rundown of the states with laws like the one in Florida, where there’s no duty to retreat in public and where, self-defense claims have some immunity in court.
March 25, 2012

“Stand Your Ground,” “Shoot First,” “Make My Day” — state laws asserting an expansive right to self-defense — have come into focus after last month’s killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

While local prosecutors have not arrested the shooter, George Zimmerman, the case is now being investigated by the Department of Justice and a Florida state attorney. It’s not clear whether Florida’s self-defense law will be applied in the case. (The police report on the shooting refers to it as an “unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act.”)

Still, in not arresting Zimmerman, local officials have pointed to Florida’s wide definition of self-defense. In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person’s right to use deadly force for self-defense. Deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened, in the home or “any other place where he or she has a right to be.”

In Florida, once self-defense is invoked, the burden is on the prosecution to disprove the claim.

Click on the state to see its law.
Illinois (The law does not includes a duty to retreat, which courts have interpreted as a right to expansive self-defense.)
Oregon (Also does not include a duty to retreat.)
Washington (Also does not include a duty to retreat.)

The 'Gunshine State': Six Awful GOP Laws That May Harm Florida Forever

Florida Republicans bring gun mayhem, Jim Crow, teacher firings, insurance industry payoffs and misogyny to the Sunshine State.
April 11, 2012

While millions of residents and visitors are working on their tans, shady politics are prospering in the Sunshine State. What residents are now learning is that the negative impact of the work of the Republican-dominated legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Scott will haunt them for years to come.
Most of the new measures were approved over the past 12 months, but as we are all learning, seven-year-old legislation is causing excessive pain, heartbreak and anger in 2012.
1. Stand Your Ground
2. The Gunshine State
3. Resurrecting Jim Crow
4. Who Needs Public Schools?
5. Limiting Car Insurance Claims and Payments
6. Florida's GOP War on Women
And the List Goes On 

The Wisconsin Story: Scott Walker's Unprecedented Assault on Unions and Democracy And the June 5th Recall Vote

Wisconsin's populist rebellion came after state GOP leaders attacked workers' rights and dignity.
March 23, 2012

“The folks that were angry about this started a recall....Not hundreds, not thousands, but tens of thousands of ordinary people did an extraordinary thing. They stood up and took their government back.” -- Gov. Scott Walker, discussing the 2002 recalls that led to his election as Milwaukee County Executive. 
Those words, uttered by Wisconsin Republican Gov. Walker in an ad during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, are strikingly relevant today. 

In a 60-day period during a cold Wisconsin winter, state residents collected nearly one million signatures for Walker’s recall, with an election date now scheduled for June 5. That election, which will likely be very close and will almost certainly break new records for spending in the state, will end this stage of a year-and-a-half-long battle over Walker’s divisive reforms, including his controversial attack on public employee unions.    READ MORE

From Combat to Busboy: Looming Job Challenges for War Vets

By Aaron Smith, CNN Money
24 March 12

eterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan face unique hurdles in an already tough job market.
Many have suffered physical and mental injuries. Others have a hard time getting employers to see the value of their wartime experience.

"Being the best mortar man in the best battalion in the world doesn't mean a whole lot when you come out," said Sean Parnell, author of "Outlaw Platoon," a book about his experiences as an Army platoon leader in Afghanistan in 2006. "Fifty percent of my men who are now out of the military are living paycheck to paycheck - working as a busboy, or at a bar, or maybe not working at all."

More than 2.2 million soldiers, Marines and sailors have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Another 90,000 troops are slated to return from Afghanistan by 2014.

For a long time, post 9/11 veterans have faced a much higher jobless rate than the general population. Just a year ago, it stood at 12.5%, well above the national average. A big push by employers and government knocked the rate to 7.6% in February, even below the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 8.3%.
Still, many veterans struggle to find work.

"These guys have these bang-up resumes for the military and then they get out and civilians don't know what to do with them," said Parnell. "So they end up working at a Subway."  READ MORE

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Texas, a GOP War on Education

What happens in a state controlled and dominated by Republicans? In particular how do they deal with budget deficits? Do they raise taxes? Of course not. What they do is literally starve public schools of funding. This year the Texas Legislature cut $5.4 Billion dollars (via the New York Times) from the state's budget previously dedicated to public schools. Those budget cuts went into effect this year and will continue next year.

Texas has 1,264 public school districts. Here are some of the consequences of preserving tax cuts for corporations and the uber-rich, and passing the cost of balancing budgets onto the backs' of Texas' public school children and their families according to the NY Times report:
  • Eliminating bus services: Many districts, to save money have simply stopped providing bus services to children who live within a two mile radius of their school. For many children this means that they spend up to an hour or more walking to and from school each day. Other school districts have started charging parents a fee (up to $355 per year for one district) for children who are bused. Others now sell advertising space on the side of school buses.  READ MORE

Another Blow for ALEC: Gates Foundation Withdraws Support

Another victory in the progressive campaign against ALEC, the right-wing corporate blueprint legislation source, which we've been documenting here at AlterNet. This time, it's a major philanthropic organization that has severed ties.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today became the latest backer to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council.  READ MORE

Zimmerman called Sanford police seven times since Aug. 2011


Karl Rove Poised to Drop Money Bomb on Obama Campaign

By Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times
10 April 12

merican Crossroads, the biggest of the Republican "super PACs," is planning to begin its first major anti-Obama advertising blitz of the year, a moment the Obama re-election campaign has been girding for and another sign that the general election is starting in earnest.

With an anticipated bank account of more than $200 million, officials at American Crossroads said they would probably begin their campaign this month. But they said they would focus the bulk of the first phase from May through July, which they believe is a critical period for making an impression on voters, before summer vacations and the party conventions take place.

Steven J. Law, the group's leader, said the ads would address the challenge of unseating a president who polls show is viewed favorably even though many people disapprove of his handling of the economy. Basically, Mr. Law said, "how to dislodge voters from him."

The ultimate goal of the Crossroads campaign, Mr. Law said, would be to better connect Americans' disappointment with the economy to their views of the president, especially among crucial swing voters.
The Crossroads advertising push - the timing of which has been the subject of avid speculation at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago - would give the campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, the time and cover to map out its national organization, replenish its bank account and put the finishing touches on its own long-discussed advertising plan, which is expected to highlight the economic pain of ordinary Americans.  READ MORE

Funeral director: No signs of fight on Trayvon Martin

Monday, April 9, 2012

How much fun is this?

Its wonderful 

What a crazy, delightful ever changing world! Who could have thought
that in 2012 young people in Moscow would put on a "flash mob" happening,  dancing to an *83 year old* *American song* written by a Russian born American-Jew (Irving Berlin) whose last name is the capital of Germany...

(Check out that red Chrysler 300 limo!!!) 

Uh-Oh: Tennessee Passes ‘Monkey Bill’

To Water Down Curriculum On Evolution And Climate Science

On Monday, the Tennessee state legislature passed legislation that requires public schools to teach the “controversy” over evolution, global warming, and human cloning:
The Senate voted 24-8 for HB368, which sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says will provide guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics call it a “monkey bill” that promotes creationism in classrooms.
In 1925, Tennessee was the home of the Scopes monkey trial, where local jurors upheld the conviction of a biology teacher for teaching evolution in his classroom, tarring the reputation of the state. Climate denial legislation has become widespread across the United States, in part due to the efforts of the corporate-funded right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council.   READ MORE

Mitt Romney's Etch-a-Sketch Campaign: The Most Dishonest in History?

Mitt Romney's campaign isn't even trying to hide it:

CNN HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election.
ERIC FEHRNSTROM (ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN): Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.
The only thing surprising about this is that Mitt Romney's campaign is admitting ahead of time what we already knew: that Romney doesn't have any real core principles and will say whatever he thinks it will take to win the election.    Read more

Outrageous Lies Monsanto and Friends Are Trying to Pass off to Kids as Science

The claims made in a book from the biotechnology industry are laughable. But these blatant lies are passed off as 'science' for schoolchildren.
March 20, 2012

It's not enough that the biotech industry -- led by multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, BAS, and Dupont -- is poisoning our food and our planet. It's also poisoning young minds.
In a blatant attempt at brainwashing, the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) has widely circulated what it calls a Biotechnology Basics Activity Book for kids, to be used by "Agriculture and Science Teachers." The book -- called Look Closer at Biotechnology -- looks like a science workbook, but reads more like a fairy tale. Available on the council's Web site, its colorful pages are full of friendly cartoon faces, puzzles, helpful hints for teachers -- and a heavy dose of outright lies about the likely effects of genetic engineering on health, the environment, world hunger and the future of farming.
CBI's lies are designed specifically for children, and intended for use in classrooms.

10 Most Obscene Lifestyles Choices of America's 1% Elite

Complaining about having to do their own dishes, or bragging about $800,000 car garages, the 1 percenters are all but screaming “let them eat cake” from the ramparts.
March 21, 2012

As the unemployment rate still sits above 8 percent, and one in three Americans struggles to afford medical bills, even the filthiest of filthy rich presidential candidates is at least pretending to empathize with the average American. Granted, they sometimes slip up and expose just how wealthy they are — but at least they are trying.

The same cannot be said of some of these candidates’ cronies in the 1 percent. Whether complaining about having to do their own dishes, or bragging about their car garages costing more than the average American makes in a lifetime, the 1 percenters are all but screaming “let them eat cake” from the ramparts. Here are 10 particularly egregious examples from the last few months.

1. Bankers Struggle at Washing Dishes

Free Ride! Meet the Companies That Don't Even Pretend to Pay Taxes

Need something to kickstart your American Spring protest? Consider that big corporations are happy to take our tax dollars -- while finding new ways to skip out on Uncle Sam.
March 22, 2012

Like me, you’re probably knee-deep in receipts and forms right now, getting ready to pay your share in taxes so that our country can function. Meanwhile, many giant corporations are getting a free ride. Fairness is one of our most treasured American values, but “scam and dodge” has become the mantra of our corporations and the pols who protect them.

Big business apologists like to tell us that the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent is too high, and makes companies less “competitive” with foreign firms. Yet we all know that corporations hire legions of wily accountants to find loopholes that often bring their tax rate down to next to nothing.

In 2008, Goldman Sachs paid a laughable 1.1 percent of its income in taxes. That same year, it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an $800 billion bailout, courtesy of you and me.


File image, internet censorship. (photo: The Inquistir)
By Brendan Sasso, The Hill
08 April 12

nline activists who helped sink the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) earlier this year have now turned their sights to a House cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
In recent days, posts comparing CISPA to SOPA have received thousands of "up votes" on Web forum Reddit and have reached the front page of the popular link and discussion site.

Reddit helped rally opposition to SOPA and was one of the first major websites to declare that it would black out in protest of the anti-piracy bill. The massive Web protest, which was joined by Google and Wikipedia, caused a public outcry and forced Congress to scrap the anti-piracy bill.

Recent posts on Reddit have called CISPA the "return of SOPA," "the latest attempt by Congress to try to regulate and control the Internet" and a "draconian privacy invasion bill."

A Google search for "CISPA" now returns numerous blogs that decry the legislation as an attempt to censor the Internet. One online petition opposing the bill has already gathered more than 300,000 signatures.
But a House aide who supports CISPA said the measure has nothing to do with anti-piracy enforcement or censorship.

"There's no authority to censor or block sites in the bill," he said. "The only authority is to share information with the private sector and for them to voluntarily share it with the government. There's nothing in here that would allow you to block or shutdown a website."

CISPA, which is authored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and has more than 100 co-sponsors, is expected to come to the House floor for a vote during the week of April 23.

Foreclosure Deal Credits Banks for Routine Efforts

An apartment building being razed in Cleveland.
(photo: Michael Williamson/The Washington
Post/Getty Images)
By Shaila Dewanand, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, The New York Times
08 April 12

n February, JPMorgan Chase donated a home to an Iraq war veteran in Bucoda, Wash., and Bank of America waived the $140,000 debt that a Florida man still owed after the sale of his foreclosed home. Over the last year, Wells Fargo has demolished about a dozen houses in Cleveland.

Banks do things like this - real estate transactions that do nothing to prevent foreclosure - all the time. But beginning this month, they can count such activities as part of their new commitment to help people stay in their homes.

That commitment comes under the landmark $25 billion foreclosure abuse settlement between the government and five major banks announced last month. The settlement promises that of the $25 billion, the banks will give $17 billion "in assistance to borrowers who have the intent and ability to stay in their homes," according to a summary of the settlement. But more than half of that money can be used in ways that will not stop foreclosures, including some activities that are already standard bank practices.

For example, the banks can wipe out more than $2 billion of their obligation by donating or demolishing abandoned houses. Almost $1 billion can be used to help families that have already defaulted move out.