Friday, May 21, 2010

Corporate PACs betting on Republicans to regain control of Congress

All this points to is the fact that big business supports whoever does their bidding. And both parties have taken turns serving their corporate masters:

Corporate America is gambling on the minority in its political giving this year, assuming that Republicans will win big in the November midterm elections, an analysis of campaign finance reports shows.

The pattern represents a distinct change from a year ago, when President Obama was sworn into office. Back then, corporate political action committees made a shift to the Democrats, giving 58 percent of their donations to the party. So far this year, only 48 percent of the contributions from big business are going to the Democrats.

The shift in political giving represents a calculated gamble that Republicans may regain control of Congress, GOP fundraisers and political consultants say. It also breaks a recent pattern in which lobbyists and executives overseeing corporate largesse gave more tothe party in power.

Many other political winds have shifted behind Republicans in recent months, but the swing in money from corporate PACs is unusual. Corporations often give campaign contributions while seeking access and favor with incumbent lawmakers in position to shape legislation -- meaning they gravitate to the party in power.

Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper Barzee Gets 15 Years

She deserves to spend the rest of her life in prison:

A federal judge on Friday ordered a woman who pleaded guilty to kidnapping then-teen Elizabeth Smart of Utah to spend 15 years in prison, with credit for about seven years she's already served.

Smart, whose abduction captured the attention of Americans, was 14 in 2002 when she was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom. She was found nine months later, in March 2003, walking the streets of a Salt Lake City suburb with her captors.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said Wanda Barzee will serve the sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Barzee, 64, pleaded guilty in November to federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines in Smart's abduction. She also faces sentencing Friday in state court, where in February she pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, in the attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin, Olivia Wright, about six weeks after Smart's abduction.

Chicago Mayor Regrets "Up Your Butt" Comment

This guy is worthless as a Mayor. His city is a mess and all he can do mouth insults at reporters. But this is what incumbency does. He is mayor because his father was mayor. That's all. And he remain in office until he dies. It is no wonder that Chicago/Illinois is so corrupt. The only that can turn around that city/State is term limits:

Mayor Richard M. Daley said Friday that he regrets his choice of words when he suggested he'd stick a rifle with a bayonet up a reporter's "butt," but he said he was trying to "shock" the media into exposing gun manufacturers who flood the streets with firearms.

"I want to shock you, maybe scare you, to realize this is serious," he said.

Asked if he was sorry for how he went about illustrating his point, Daley said, "Sure I'll be sorry... I'm not going to sing the song 'I'm Sorry' now, but sure, you can write it. But I hope I shocked you that you can write about now the gun manufacturers."

The mayor said the focus should not be on his remarks, but about the impact of gun violence in urban America.

The mayor was talking about his controversial remarks on Thursday during a news conference on the city's handgun ban and what the city plans to do if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the ban this summer.

At that news conference, Chicago Reader reporter Mick Dumke asked Daley if the ban has been effective, given how many people are shot in the city every year. The mayor responded by picking up a rifle with a bayonet from among several seized guns that Chicago police had put on display.

"It's been very effective," Daley said as he held the rifle. "If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is. Let me put a round up your, you know."

US Rifles not Suited to Warfare in Afghan Hills

If it weren't bad enough, now we learn that the weapons used by troops in increasingly fruitless war are less than adequate. Apparently, the lessons of Vietnam and Iraq have not been learned. When it comes to guerrilla warfare we must adapt and not use traditional weapons and tactics:

The U.S. military's workhorse rifle -- used in battle for the last 40 years -- is proving less effective in Afghanistan against the Taliban's more primitive but longer range weapons.

As a result, the U.S. is reevaluating the performance of its standard M-4 rifle and considering a switch to weapons that fire a larger round largely discarded in the 1960s.

The M-4 is an updated version of the M-16, which was designed for close quarters combat in Vietnam. It worked well in Iraq, where much of the fighting was in cities such as Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah.

But a U.S. Army study found that the 5.56 mm bullets fired from M-4s don't retain enough velocity at distances greater than 1,000 feet (300 meters) to kill an adversary. In hilly regions of Afghanistan, NATO and insurgent forces are often 2,000 to 2,500 feet (600-800 meters) apart.

Afghans have a tradition of long-range ambushes against foreign forces. During the 1832-1842 British-Afghan war, the British found that their Brown Bess muskets could not reach insurgent sharpshooters firing higher-caliber Jezzail flintlocks.

Soviet soldiers in the 1980s found that their AK-47 rifles could not match the World War II-era bolt-action Lee-Enfield and Mauser rifles used by mujahedeen rebels.

"These are important considerations in Afghanistan, where NATO forces are frequently attacked by insurgents using ... sharpshooter's rifles, which are all chambered for a full-powered cartridge which dates back to the 1890s," said Paul Cornish, curator of firearms at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The heavier bullets enable Taliban militants to shoot at U.S. and NATO soldiers from positions well beyond the effective range of the coalition's rifles.

N.Y. Movie Theater to Charge $20 a Ticket for New 'Shrek" Movie

N.Y. Movie Theater to Charge $20 a Ticket for New 'Shrek" Movie

For the first time, a major Hollywood film will hit the $20 threshold at the box office, as movie-theater owners test the public's ability to absorb ever higher ticket prices.

Several theaters will charge $20 per adult ticket to IMAX showings of the animated 3-D family film "Shrek Forever After," the fourth "Shrek" installment from DreamWorks Animation. The theaters include the AMC theater in Manhattan's Kips Bay neighborhood, AMC Loews 34, AMC Loews Lincoln Square and AMC Empire 42nd Street.

And you're going to pay it.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain: As Non-Violence Takes Root, So May a Palestinian State

Finally. I've been arguing for sometime that the Palestinians should adopt non-violent, civil disobedience to achieve their goal of creating their own State. Hopefully they will finally get the message:

Palestinians, hard-headed realists that they are, have never much bought the idea of non-violence. The state of Israel was partly born out of violence and has been sustained mainly through violence. Turning the other cheek to people whose anatomical focus was your knees - and keeping you on them - never seemed especially wise, let alone effective.

This might now be changing. The "growing non-violent movement among Palestinians is simultaneously emerging spontaneously from the grassroots and being encouraged by the leadership," Ziad Asali, the president of the American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP), wrote recently in the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

The question is why after so much suffering and the spilling of so much blood, non-violence seems to be catching on. One answer is simply that it has taken Palestinians this long to recognise the futility of using violence against a population determined after the Holocaust to never be so victimised by violence again.

CBS' 'Shit My Dad Says' Angers Parents Group

Vulgarity in the media is the rule. And it will continue to get worse as long as the media thinks they can profit from it. It requires the public speaking out and boycotting such filth:

A parents group is threatening CBS affiliates with challenges to their broadcast licenses if they air the network's new comedy with a title that alludes to an obscenity.

The Parents Television Council, which monitors decency issues, criticized CBS for picking up a comedy series called "(Bleep) My Dad Says" that is based on a popular Twitter feed. Instead of the word, the CBS title uses a series of symbols.

The group says it will challenge the broadcast license of any CBS affiliate that airs the series or promotions for it before 10 p.m. CBS has scheduled the comedy for Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. It stars William Shatner as the father whose politically incorrect musings are put out on Twitter by his son.

Tim Winter, president of the Los Angeles-based organization, said he was aware that CBS was developing a series based on the Twitter sensation, but "we couldn't imagine that a network would actually name a program either with an expletive or with the expletive ostensibly bleeped out.

Taliban in Secret Talks at Mystery Location

If true, this will only succeed in encouraging the Taliban. It would be an admission of weakness from the Afghan government and the U.S. war presence:

The Taliban are holding secret unofficial talks at an undisclosed location in the Maldives, officials said today.
Troop numbers will swell to 100,000 by September.

The government of Maldives, a tiny island nation in the India Ocean, issued a statement confirming the meeting.

...U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "The Afghan government has told us that it is aware of the unofficial talks being reported today... and according to the Afghan government these talks do not include official representatives of the government of Afghanistan."