Monday, April 30, 2012

5 Ways To Occupy The May Day General Strike (Even If You Have To Work)


What Occupy Wall Street is advocating instead is a day in which members of the 99% take whatever actions they can to withdraw from participation in the normal workings of the economic system. Here are 5 easy ways that everyone can participate in tomorrow’s historical action, regardless of employment status.

1. Don’t Shop: The middle-class consumer creates the incentive to conceive, manufacture, and sell what our economy produces. That demand drives business opportunities and spurs investment. If the 99% stops spending its giving its hard-earned money to global corporations, crooked CEOs won’t be able to afford yet another lobbyist to help bend the laws to their own advantage. By not shopping, you will hit corporations where it really counts, the wallet.

2. Don’t Bank: Big banks are some of the worst criminals in the United States. Their fraudulent lending practices are what crashed the economy, and their complete disregard for the welfare of their customers has led to millions of foreclosures, many unnecessary, over the past few years. May 1st is a great day to move your money out of a corporate bank, and into a community controlled credit union.

3. Don’t Go To School: American student debt just pass the $1 trillion mark. The quality of education in the United States is falling further behind other countries every day, yet it costs more to go to school here than almost anywhere else in the world. The government, private lenders, and for-profit colleges tell students that getting an education is a good reason to go into mountains of debt, even as they push to increase student loan interest rates. For one day, refuse to participate in this racket. Gather your fellow classmates and take to the streets to educate each other about what’s really happening to students in America.

4. Don’t Drive: In 2011, oil companies raked in $261,000 in profit per minute, while middle class families struggled to put food on the table. Despite this obscene profit, most oil companies paid zero dollars in federal taxes, and some even got a refund. Why? Because they enjoy millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies for polluting our planet and exploiting the last bit of its natural resources. Ditch your car, and ride a bike or walk instead. Refuse to be a part of the problem, even just for a day.

5. Don’t Work: Times are hard, and not everyone can simply walk out of work without facing serious financial repercussions. Still, consider taking a personal day to join demonstrations, marches, disruptions, occupations, and other mass actions. You can take your lunch hour to write personal letters to your state and local representatives, asking them to take action on an issue that’s close to your heart. Or simply take five minutes during your day to talk to a fellow member of the 99% about why you support the Occupy movement, and why they should get involved.

Occupy May Day protests could block roads, shut down ferry service

Although many commuters could be inconvenienced it must be done. Unless we speak up and out the ruling class will continue ignore the will of the people. Revolutionary justice always requires sacrifice. If you late for work don't curse Occupy. Curse those that rule America without our consent:

 May Day protests may disrupt the morning commute in major U.S. cities Tuesday as labor, immigration and Occupy activists rally support on the international workers' holiday.

Demonstrations, strikes and acts of civil disobedience are being planned around the country, including the most visible organizing effort by anti-Wall Street groups since Occupy encampments came down in the fall.

While protesters are backing away from a call to block San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, bridge district ferry workers said they'll strike Tuesday morning to shut down ferry service, which brings commuters from Marin County to the city. Ferry workers have been in contract negotiations for a year and have been working without a contract since July 2011 in a dispute over health care coverage, the Inlandboatmen's Union said.

[...]In New York City, where the first Occupy camp was set up and where large protests brought some of the earliest attention — and mass arrests — to the movement, leaders plan a variety of events, including picketing, a march through Manhattan and other "creative disruptions against the corporations who rule our city."

Organizers have called for protesters to block one or more bridges or tunnels connecting Manhattan, the city's economic engine, to New Jersey and other parts of the city.
 Full article

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Obama Fails to Stem Middle-Class Slide He Blamed on Bush

Sadly there are still millions of Americans who still believe in the fraud who is Barack Obama. He lied to us. We should not be surprised. Democrats and Republicans have been lying to us for decades. So why should he be any different:

Barack Obama campaigned four years ago assailing President George W. Bush for wage losses suffered by the middle class. More than three years into Obama’s own presidency, those declines have only deepened.

The rebound from the worst recession since the 1930s has generated relatively few of the moderately skilled jobs that once supported the middle class, tightening the financial squeeze on many Americans, even those who are employed.

“It started long before Obama, but he hasn’t done anything,” said John Forsyth, 58, a railroad-car inspector and political independent from Lebanon, Ohio. “He kept pushing this change, change, change, and he hasn’t done anything.”

Underlying the erosion of the middle class, defined by some economists as the middle 60 percent of income earners, are trends that stretch back decades, including competition from lower-wage workers overseas and technological advances that allow factories and offices to produce more with less labor.

As a candidate in 2008, Obama blamed the reversals largely on the policies of Bush and other Republicans. He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households -- those headed by someone younger than 65 -- had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during the first seven years of Bush’s time in office.

Yet real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009 and down $2,900 since the June 2009 start of the economic recovery, according to an analysis of census data by Sentier Research, an economic- consulting firm in Annapolis, Maryland.
Full article

Press Release: Demonstrators Request Injunction Restricting NYPD’s Use of Metal Barricades

I am proud to be a part of this lawsuit. We are sending a message: the government cannot be allowed to get away with violating Constitutional rights. Hopefully others will be encouraged by this case to speak out against the continued move towards less freedom in America:

Today, Occupy-affiliated demonstrators who were illegally held for two hours against their will on November 30, 2011 inside a pen built of interlocking metal barricades filed a civil rights action in federal court. The group is represented by the law firms of Rankin & Taylor and Beldock Levine & Hoffman. In addition to damages, the group seeks an injunction on behalf of all demonstrators in New York City that would prohibit similar Police tactics.

“We came to express our views at a place where the President might see us, and were detained for hours as if we had committed a crime,” said John Rivera, one of the class action plaintiffs, who was a member of the Civil Service Employees Association, a prominent New York Union, for 20 years and is a Bushwick, Brooklyn resident. Mr. Rivera has been demonstrating in New York City since the 1980s. His first political action was protesting the Soviet Embassy after the shooting of an American soldier in Germany. He says he has never experienced a detention like this one.

“What happened to me, and my fellow protesters, was an eye opener. We were corralled like farm animals.” Mr. Rivera had been spending time in Liberty Park since September 19, 2011.

Though the New York Civil Liberties Union was successful in getting the NYPD to agree to restrictions on the use of barricades in 2008, the current suit alleges that the police department has violated those guidelines as well as the US Constitution.

“Under Commissioner Kelly the NYPD has considered itself above any restrictions when it comes to political protests, even restrictions it agrees to in front of a federal judge. We will look for judicial oversight of these tactics in order to defend New Yorker’s rights,” said attorney Mark Taylor.

“We were demonstrating peacefully and then with no warning we were detained for hours,” describes Jonathan Jetter, another of the plaintiffs, who is a professor at the State University of New York at Purchase and the owner of a midtown Manhattan-based music business. “We were denied access to legal representation and the press. I’ve taken part in many protests and this was the most chilling police response I’ve yet encountered,” he continued. Mr. Jetter lives in Queens.

“This felt like an attempt to scare us from participating in future protests,” explained Phoebe Berg of Brooklyn, another class representative. “I hate the fact that I can’t help but take into account the real possibility of being detained again, not allowed access to a water/food or a restroom for possibly hours, during the May Day General Strike and other future actions.”

Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo May 1

I'll be there:

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.

Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.

In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower.

“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

City Sued Over Police Response to Occupy Protests

I'm involved in a lawsuit as well (more on that in the future):

Four lawmakers are suing the city over its treatment of the Occupy Wall Street protests.     

The civil rights suit was filed Monday in a Manhattan federal court. It says police conduct is so problematic that the force needs an outside monitor.     

The city Law Department had no immediate comment Monday. Mayor  Bloomberg has defended police handling of the protests.   

Occupy demonstrators have gone to court before over particular episodes. The new lawsuit is a compendium of complaints.     

It says the city and police violated demonstrators' free speech and other rights, used excessive force and interfered with journalists' and council members' efforts to observe.     

City Council members Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams are among the plaintiffs.

Bowles: 'We Face The Most Predictable Economic Crisis In History'

The warnings keep coming but the political/media establishment ignores it. Meanwhile we're just talking about a meaningless election in where there is really no mention of what needs to be done to rescue the current economy:

 Erskine Bowles, a true Southern gentleman and co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s erstwhile budget-deficit commission, came to New York City from his home in North Carolina the other night to talk sense about the nation’s perilous fiscal condition.

“I think today we face the most predictable economic crisis in history,” he told an audience on April 24 at the Council on Foreign Relations -- an audience that might actually be able to help do something about the problem. “Fortunately, I think it’s also the most avoidable. I think it’s clear, if you do simple arithmetic, that the fiscal path that the nation is on is simply not sustainable.”

Bowles, a Democrat, then laid on the crowd some pretty simple, but devastating, arithmetic. He explained that 100 percent of the tax revenue that entered the Treasury in 2011 went out the door to pay for mandatory spending -- such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- and to pay the interest on our staggering $15.6 trillion national debt.

That means that every single dollar we spent on everything else, including two wars, national defense, homeland security, education, infrastructure, high-value-added research and the like, was borrowed. “And,” he warned, “half of it was borrowed from foreign countries. And that is a formula for failure in anybody’s book.”
Full article

'Slaughtered for their ivory': Up to 35,000 elephants slain in one year, charity says


Up to 35,000 elephants were killed last year for their tusks, the head of a charity told NBC News.

Charlie Mayhew, the chief executive of Tusk Trust, said: "What we have witnessed over the last 18 months or two years has been a significant escalation in the poaching of both rhino for rhino horn and elephant for ivory, fueled by sort of a dramatic increase in demand from consumers in the Far East.

"Last year we believe that as many as 35,000 elephants may have been slaughtered for their ivory," he added. "South Africa lost 434 rhino last year. This year we know that they've lost more than 170 rhino. That's more than an average of one every 15 hours and that is just South Africa alone."

A rhino horn is worth as much as $40,000 on the black market.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Fareed Zakaria GPS' Transcript (4-29-12)

Full transcript. Excerpt below:

ZAKARIA: So this sounds like something out of a murder mystery. I mean how do you think most Chinese people are reacting to this news that they're getting that this guy who was really one of the most admired people in China, from what we could tell, has suddenly been now revealed to be a corrupt hack or is being kind of painted as a corrupt hack by officials?

OSNOS: This story is unprecedented. I mean we're talking about the world's second largest economy, the most powerful men in charge. Bo Xilai was going to be perhaps one of the nine people running the country this fall.

And, now, he has been -- he has fallen from grace in the course of just a few weeks. And this has really left people's head spinning because, in the Chinese press, they're being told every day that this man was a criminal. This man who had been celebrated just a couple of months ago.

And this is very hard for the party to explain to people. How is it that a man who, evidently, is now a criminal, who's accused of wire-tapping his own peers, could have, in fact, gotten so high and been celebrated so recently. This is a problem that's hard to reconcile for the leadership.

ZAKARIA: And what is the larger point here because, in the Chinese press, he's being portrayed as a criminal and kind of a bad apple. But, obviously, this is also about a power struggle.

OSNOS: Yes, this is the part that's especially awkward for the leadership because what they've got is a case in which the details themselves are so spectacular. Let's think about it.

We've got a police chief fleeing to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu seeking protection from the Americans saying that his boss's wife has murdered an English businessman, poisoned him in a hotel.

We've then got rumors coming up on the Internet and then eventually being confirmed by Western reporters that show that, in fact, the Bo Xilai family had assembled an enormous fortune. We don't know how large, but perhaps into the millions or the hundreds of millions of dollars that they were trying to move out of the country.

And the party has tried to say very carefully that this is a criminal matter, regard this as one bad apple. But what we now know, in fact, is that this is just the outward expression of what is a deep and intense political contest going on at the highest ranks of the Communist Party.

Student Demos Turn Violent in Mexico, 200 Arrested


Students demanding access to university hostels set fire to two police cars in street protests in the Mexican city of Morelia on Saturday that led to 200 arrests, local media reported on Sunday.

Masked men sprayed a police pick-up with gasoline and then set it ablaze with molotov cocktails on one of the busiest streets of Morelia, television images showed.

The protesters, mainly young men, were demanding local government funding to maintain access to student hostels from which they had were evicted by police.

Obama appoints top campaign bundler to Netherlands ambassador post

"Change" you can believe in?

President Obama has nominated a top campaign bundler to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, following in a rich presidential tradition of granting diplomatic posts to big-dollar fundraisers.

The White House announced this past week that Maryland lawyer Timothy Broas would be nominated for the Dutch ambassadorship.

According to the Obama campaign, Broas has helped raise more than $500,000 for the 2012 reelection effort. By law, Broas cannot contribute all that money himself -- so he, like other so-called "bundlers," serves as a fundraising point person and collects money from others to donate to the campaign.

These bundlers are frequently rewarded with prestigious positions -- in the administrations of President Obama as well as his predecessors. The Center for Responsive Politics estimated that Obama nominated two-dozen fundraisers to ambassador positions within his first year in office.

"Face the Nation" Transcript (4-29-12)

Full Transcript. Excerpt below:

BOB SCHIEFFER: It seems like a lot of-- lot of campaign ahead of us.

HALEY BARBOUR: Of course, we do. But I think a lot of people in the news media and a lot of others were surprised that after a not very flattering nomination contest for Republicans, the first Gallup poll, Romney's ahead. In your poll, it's a dead heat. In other polls, it's a dead heat. I think a lot of people expected that Romney would be like Reagan was in 1980 when as, you know, Reagan was about fourteen points at this point. I didn't expect Romney to be behind that far but the fact that it's a dead heat right now after the Republican nomination contest, which wasn't as helpful as we might have liked it to be.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Mister Mayor, do you think it's that close?

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D-Los Angeles Mayor/Democratic National Convention Chairman): I think the country is evenly divided. I think it's going to be a very close election, but if you look at Governor Romney's record, the only people that will be packing, looking back, where the companies that he bought put in debt, and then had employees go packing, and he made a profit. If that's what he's going to do with the economy, then we're all going to be packing. I think it's going to be a very close election. It's going to be tough. The country is evenly divided, but I think ultimately that President Obama will win. And he'll win because he's got a record of defending and fighting for the middle class. Because he's set on addressing the deficit, but doing it in a way that's responsible, two dollars and fifty cents of cuts for every dollar of revenue.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So how about you, Governor, do you think it's going to be close?

HALEY BARBOUR: Not if President Obama tries to run on his record. I-- I would love to think that that's what they're going to do is run on his record, because the results of his policies have been terrible. The economy grew 2.2 percent the last quarter, according to his administration. I mean, after the last deep recession, the ec-- the economy was growing five, six, seven percent. We were adding jobs by the hundreds of thousands. This has been the most peeked recovery, and it's because of his policies, telling employers he wants to hit them with the largest tax increase in American history. How does that make employers more likely to hire more people, which should be our first goal? Obamacare drives up the cost of health care, drives up the deficit. So, yeah, I hope that this is a referendum on the President's record, because if it is, that's the best it can be for Republicans.

'Meet the Press' Transcript (4-29-12)

Full transcript. Excerpt below:


The question of who is Mitt Romney is on my mind throughout this program today and I asked Ed Gillespie about that.  The kind of campaign he would run.  Whether he would just focus on the president's record or would he be a guy to present big solutions to the big challenges that the country faces.  I guess the same question is also applicable to President Obama.  Will he spend his time simply tearing down Governor Romney as an alternative or is he going to run on a big idea for his second term?


Well, look, the biggest idea that we're running on is to continue moving in the right direction of fixing this economy.  Look, the last six months of the Bush administration we lost 3.5 million jobs.  And we know this about Mitt Romney.  He's not a job creator.  When he was governor of Massachusetts they were 47th out of 50 in job creation.

His experience is in downsizing and outsourcing jobs and bankrupting companies and walking away with a lot of money for himself.  His economic ideas are the failed economic ideas that we tried for eight years.  Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and letting Wall Street going back to writing the rules all over again.  That is the policies that got us into this mess.

This president wants to build on 25 consecutive months of private sector job growth, 4.1 million jobs.  And to really institute some strong values of fairness and responsibility.  Build an economy that lasts.  Invest in our children and in their college education.  Make this country strong.  Make this economy vibrant.  And continue on the path to adding jobs in it.

68,000 guns seized in Mexico since 2006 came from US

I guess those guns make Mexico a freer nation as NRA argues:

 68,000 guns recovered by Mexican authorities in the past five years have been traced back to the United States, authorities said Friday.

The flood of tens of thousands of weapons underscores complaints from Mexico that the U.S. is responsible for arming the drug cartels plaguing its southern neighbor. Six years of violence between warring cartels have killed more than 47,000 people in Mexico.

Video: President Obama at the 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner

- Transcript

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Radio Personality Tells Father To Get A Man To Rape His Daughter Until She Turns Straight


A radio personality in Cleveland is facing tremendous backlash after telling a father that he should get one of his male friends to rape his daughter to force her to turn straight.

In response to an email from a father who suspected his daughter was gay after discovering her kissing another girl, DJ Dominic Deiter declared on the air that “You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight.”

Tear gas, water cannon fired at reform protesters in Malaysia

The people are rising up everywhere:

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon on Saturday at a crowd of up to 25,000 protesters who had converged on the center of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to demand changes to an electoral system.

Demonstrators also battled with police at a train station nearby, throwing bottles at officers who responded by firing tear gas rounds.

Thousands who had been confronting police outside the city's historic Merdeka Square were scattered after riot police fired water cannon and then at least 10 rounds of tear gas into the crowd. The police said they had been forced to react after protesters tried to force their way through barriers and enter the square.

The violence could carry political risks for Prime Minister Najib Razak if it is seen as unjustified, possibly forcing him to delay elections that must be called by next March but which could be held as early as June. Najib's approval rating tumbled after July last year when police were accused of a heavy handed response to the last major electoral reform rally by the Bersih (Clean) group.
Full article

Talk of a Third Party 2012 Candidacy Grows

The American people are beginning to realize that the two-party system dragging us ruin. Either we turn to an alternative with answers or remain with same gang that does not serve the American people. Our democracy and nation is dying. It's time we took action to save our republic:

Talk of a late third party presidential candidate keeps popping up among D.C. political pros who look at reams of polling data and other evidence and see an electorate anxious to cast a pox on both political houses in the form of an independent presidential bid.

The public is “sending a message,” veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart said Thursday morning at a National Journal/United Technologies policy breakfast, “and they’re sending it as loudly and clearly as possible. And the message is: ‘We hate you.’”

[...]That opens the doors for an independent, Hart and others agreed. “The environment [is] very ripe for independent candidates,” said veteran Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “Somebody has to be the ‘eat your vegetables’ candidate, and I don’t see Republicans or Democrats doing that.”

Hart likened the political mood in the country to 1948, 1968, and 1992—all years with strong independent presidential bids. “It is ripe for an independent candidate,” he said. “If there’s an independent candidate in this race, it will make a huge difference.” He argued that an independent would draw from the kind of voters who looked to Ross Perot and to Ron Paul—“it’ll come from the West, it’ll come from the rural areas, etc.”
Full article

Gunmen Attack Syrian Army from Boats

Hopefully the West is army the rebels by way of Turkey and other means. If they are it's not enough. We know that the Russians are arming the Assad regime. The UN intervention is a complete joke and allows the Syrian government to get an advantage. The removal of Assad, and his minions, should be a major foreign policy of this country. The White House can't be trusted to do the right thing. That's why the World must speak out:

Gunmen in inflatable dinghies have attacked a military unit on Syria's Mediterranean coast, state media say, in the first seaborne assault of a 13-month-old uprising.

The official SANA news agency said several gunmen and soldiers were killed in a firefight that followed the coastal attack near the northern port of Latakia, 35 km south of the Turkish border.

"The fighting ... resulted in the death and wounding of a number of military personnel while the number of those killed from the terrorist group was not known because they attacked the military unit at night," SANA said.

It did not state the nationality of the attackers.

The Syrian government of president Bashar al-Assad has accused Turkey of allowing weapons and funds to flow to insurgents throughout the uprising.

Fugitive Chinese activist 'under US protection'

This could turn into a major international dispute. The Chinese are not going to tolerate any interference in "domestic matters." Will the administration cave? Most likely. This White House like the previous don't give a damn about human rights in China:

  A leading Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest last weekend is now under US "protection" and Washington and Beijing are in talks over his status, an overseas rights group said Saturday.

Chen Guangcheng, who has been blind since childhood, fled last Sunday with the help of his supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards, and subsequently recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family.

China Aid, a group run by the former Tiananmen Square democracy activist Bob Fu, said it had learned from a "source close to the Chen Guangcheng situation" that the activist was now "under US protection".

"High-level talks are currently under way between US and Chinese officials regarding Chen's status," said the statement, which also called on the United States to ensure the safety of the activist and his family.
Full article

Ex-Israeli spy boss attacks Netanyahu and Barak over Iran

It is clear that there is an effort to start a war with Iran. And it's apparent there is more debate in Israel than in the U.S. Unfortunately no one is asking whether Obama will carry out such an attack if he is re-elected. Think that is far-fetched? So far this President has shown a willingness to act like another George Bush in many respects. Just as when he was elected in 2008, the President will be under pressure to appease the pro-Israel lobby, who want war. After coming into office Barack Obama broke just about every promise he made to the American people and did the bidding of the big business donors who financed his campaign:

"My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war," he said.

"I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don't believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings. Believe me, I have observed them from up close ... They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off.

"They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won't have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race."
Full article

Friday, April 27, 2012

Biden to fundraiser crowd: 'You all look dull as hell'

This administration has nothing but contempt for it's supporters:

"I guess what I’m trying to say without boring you too long at breakfast –- and you all look dull as hell, I might add," he told a crowd of more than 200 fundraisers from the Turkish and Azerbaijani communities in Washington DC. "The dullest audience I have ever spoken to. Just sitting there, staring at me. Pretend you like me!”

The comment was met with laughs, per a White House pool reporter on the scene of the $2,500-per-ticket fundraising breakfast.
Full article

Report: Low Seattle hotel wages amount to 'hidden subsidy'

Another example of how America is becoming a third-word nation:

A new report from a Seattle non-profit group says that downtown Seattle's hotels are projected to enjoy tidy profits this year - at the expense of hotel workers and local taxpayers.

The report called "Our Pain, Their Gain: The hidden costs of profitability in Seattle's downtown hotels," notes that between 2006 and 2010, the State of Washington spent more than $44 million to cover an average of 4,224 uninsured hotel workers per year.

"There is a hidden subsidy to this industry," says Howard Greenwich, research director of Puget Sound Sage, a regional economic policy advocacy group.
Full article

Economic Growth Slows in First Quarter

At this point the economy should not be so weak. This suggests serious underlying factors, such as debt, structural unemployment, and low wages. We can expect the economy to dip into a recession or worse in 2013:

The U.S. economic recovery lost a bit more steam in the first quarter than most experts expected, as business investments and inventories slowed and government cutbacks continued to be a drag on growth.

The nation’s economic output expanded at a modest 2.2% annual rate in the first three months of the year, down from a 3% increase in the nation’s gross domestic product in last year’s fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Most analysts were expecting a GDP growth rate of 2.6% or a little higher for the first quarter.

Inflation-adjusted consumer spending grew at a solid 2.9% pace in the first quarter, boosted again by robust car sales as well as a pick-up in consumption of services. But business spending came in much weaker; investments for equipment and software rose 1.7% from the prior quarter, compared with an increase of 7.5% in the fourth quarter.

Much of the GDP slowdown was because of a significantly smaller buildup of inventories of products in the first quarter. That was expected as manufacturers and other businesses had increased their stockpiles of goods late last year to levels higher than what demand seemed to support.
Full article

Blind Chinese Dissident Flees House Arrest for Safety in Beijing


Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in eastern China and is now safe at an undisclosed location in Beijing, a U.S.-based rights group said in a statement.

Chen escaped earlier this week from his home in Shandong province where he has been under house arrest since being released from prison in Sept. 2010, Midland, Texas-based ChinaAid reported on its website. The group said there is speculation he is in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

“Dear Premier Wen, I’ve escaped after trying so hard,” a man who claimed to be Chen and resembled him said in a video that was posted on YouTube today, in a reference to Premier Wen Jiabao. “I am free now, but I am still very worried because my beloved wife and son are still under the devilish hands.”

ATF: Mexico seized 68,000 guns made in or imported to United States since 2006

Thousands of Mexicans have died because of the thousands of guns exported to Mexico. We can thank the NRA and U.S. government for this fact:

The government said Thursday that 68,000 guns recovered by Mexican authorities in the past five years have been traced back to the United States.

The flood of tens of thousands of weapons underscores complaints from Mexico that the U.S. is responsible for arming the drug cartels plaguing its southern neighbor. Six years of violence between warring cartels have killed more than 47,000 people in Mexico.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released its latest data covering 2007 through 2011. According to ATF, many of the guns seized in Mexico and submitted to ATF for tracing were recovered at the scenes of cartel shootings while others were seized in raids on illegal arms caches. All the recovered weapons were suspected of being used in crimes in Mexico.
Full article

Sarah Palin Claims Child Labor Laws Are Causing America To Fail

Palin is wrong. Obama doesn't care about laborers either:

In a Facebook post titled “If I Wanted America to Fail, I’d Ban Kids From Farm Work,” Palin wrote,

“The Obama Administration is working on regulations that would prevent children from working on our own family farms. This is more overreach of the federal government with many negative consequences. And if you think the government’s new regs will stop at family farms, think again.”

Her post is in response to US Department of Labor’s plan to update the Fair Labor Standards Act to include the farming industry. For the first time, children would be protected on non-family owned farms. Working with pesticides, lumber mills, animals, manure pits, storage bins, and many other jobs that children are often employed to perform would be regulated. But Sarah Palin doesn’t think America needs to protect kids. She thinks child labor laws make America fail. The problem with Palin’s position is that it’s dangerous and threatens the lives of our kids. Industry has taken advantage of child workers before.

According to Eastern Illinois University, before child labor laws, children, some as young as three years old, “endured some of the harshest conditions. Workdays would often be 10 to 14 hours with minimal breaks during the shift. Factories employing children were often very dangerous places leading to injuries and even deaths.  Machinery often ran so quickly that little fingers, arms and legs could easily get caught. Beyond the equipment, the environment was a threat to children as well as factories put out fumes and toxins.  When inhaled by children these most certainly could result in illness, chronic conditions or disease. Beyond the topic of safety, children working lengthy hours had limited access to education. Many families relied on income earned by each family member and did not allow children to attend school at all. Those fortunate enough to be enrolled often attended only portions of a school day or only a few weeks at a time.”
Full article

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Activists Pressure Walmart to Drop Support of ALEC


The boycott ALEC movement has turned its sights on Walmart, finding new allies among the retailer’s longtime opponents.

Civil rights activists including the Rev. Jesse Jackson are demanding that Walmart cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative nonprofit that’s come under fire for promoting Stand Your Ground laws such as the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin case.

They are working with Making Change at Walmart, a coalition of activists that launched a petition drive Wednesday demanding the nation’s largest retailer drop its financial support of ALEC.

Education Slowdown Threatens U.S.

Throughout American history, almost every generation has had substantially more education than that of its parents.

That is no longer true.

When baby boomers born in 1955 reached age 30, they had about two years more schooling than their parents, according to Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, who have calculated the average years of schooling for native-born Americans back to 1876.

In contrast, when Americans born in 1980 turned 30 in 2010, they averaged about eight months more schooling than their parents.

Five Pennsylvania Legislators Leave ALEC

A grassroots campaign by Keystone Progress to encourage Pennsylvania legislators to publicly reject membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is already yielding dividends. Zaid Jilani reports 28 lawmakers nationwide have quit ALEC this month.Five former members of the shadowy right-wing front group behind state laws restricting access to the ballot and “stand your ground” gun laws have already said they have left ALEC. One of those, State Sen. John Pippy (R), is the former ALEC Pennsylvania state chair. Nationally, thirteen companies have announced they have severed ties with the “stealth business lobbyist” organization.
Five Pennsylvania Legislators Leave ALEC

Home Foreclosures Up, Ownership/Prices Down

Too bad for home owners. They aren't wealthy enough. Only large corporations get bailed out. Remember they are people too:

Home prices have been bogged down by a series of problems, from restrictive lending policies by banks to the weak housing market. But foreclosures are the biggest drag in many parts of the country. The real estate marketing firm RealtyTrac says number of homes in foreclosure rose during the first three months of this year in more than half of the largest metropolitan areas.

“First-quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter – an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets.”

Home ownership is down. According to a new Gallup poll, 62% of Americans say they own a home, compared to 68 percent last year.  Some 53 percent of Americans believe their house is worth more today than when they bought it, down significantly from 80 percent in 2008 and 92 percent in 2006.
Full article

Rupert Murdoch: I'm Shocked by the Scandal

Of course the head of News Corp knew nothing about the criminal activities going on his company, involving his own son:

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch said Thursday that he panicked when he closed the News of the World tabloid last year, one of a series of revealing exchanges made at an inquiry into British media ethics.

The 81-year-old media magnate acknowledged that the scandal which erupted at the Sunday tabloid last July was a "serious blot" on his reputation, but claimed his company was drawing a line under the sordid episode.

"I've spent hundreds of millions of dollars" cleaning up News Corp. subsidiary News International, Murdoch told the inquiry. "We are now a new company altogether."
Full article

Venture Capitalist Forced To Defend Only Making 31,200% Return

The Wall St. culture has not changed one bit. And once again that greed will bring down the financial markets, thus the economy. But the next time there will be no "recovery" for a long time:

I saw something recently that blew my mind and I need to share with you. A venture capitalist having to defend making a 31,200% return — in two years.

Seriously, read this post from Ben Horowitz , Netscape founder Marc Andreeseen’s investing partner.  They were seed investors in Instagram, recently sold for $1 billion to Facebook FB 0.00% .

I’ll let @bhorowitz explain why he’s feels the need to defend hitting a grand-slam (emphasis mine)...
Full article

Family Misses Flight After TSA Comes to Gate to Rescreen Girl With Palsy

This is outrageous. The maddening part is that is constantly happening. Screening of people with disabilities and children is pure stupidity. It demonstrates how terribly broken and dysfunctional the government has become:

“They make our lives completely difficult,” her father, Dr. Joshua Frank, who is a pediatrician, told The Daily. “She’s not a threat to national security.”

The Daily explains the series of events:

    With her crutches and orthotics, Dina cannot walk through metal detectors and instead is patted down by security agents. The girl, who is also developmentally disabled, is often frightened by the procedure, her father said.

    Marcy Frank usually asks the agents to introduce themselves to her daughter, but those on duty on Monday were exceptionally aggressive, Joshua Frank said, and he began to videotape them with his iPhone.

    “And the woman started screaming at me and cursing me and threatening me,” he said.

Eventually, a supervisor decided it was sufficient to inspect Dina’s crutches and allowed the family to leave for the gate.

They were there for an hour before the agents reappeared with a manager to tell them that proper protocol had not been followed, and that Dina had to be screened after all, the Franks said. After initially offering to pat her down at the gate, they insisted she return to the security area, Joshua Frank said.

“So then I got aggravated,” he said.

With Dina now in her wheelchair, Frank raced her across the JetBlue terminal, but by then, the family had missed its plane. The Franks caught a subsequent flight.
Full article

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Notre Dame Professors Call For Bishop To Apologize or Resign From Notre Dame Board For Comparing Obama To Hitler

Wall Street Lobbied Hard To Water Down Law On Congressional Insider Trading

President Obama signed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act earlier this month, which was passed after a 60 Minutes investigation revealed that members of Congress were profiting from information they received in their official capacity. House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), for instance, made nearly $30,000 trading on information he received during private briefings during the 2008 financial crisis.

The original version of the STOCK Act that passed out of the Senate included a provision that would have required Washington insiders who sell intelligence to corporate America to register as lobbyists. However, that provision was ultimately stripped from the bill by House Republicans. And according to an analysis by The Hill, it was Wall Street lobbying that proved the catalyst

Wall Street Lobbied Hard To Water Down Law On Congressional Insider Trading

Gingrich calls on conservatives to back Romney

Debt Collector uses Tough Tactics in Hospitals

Hospital patients waiting in an emergency room or convalescing after surgery are being confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside.

This and other aggressive tactics by one of the nation’s largest collectors of medical debts, Accretive Health
Debt Collector is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals

Maine named most peaceful state in America


Maine is the most peaceful state in America and Louisiana the least, according to rankings by an Australian think tank called the Institute for Economics and Peace.

The rankings are based on the prevalence of violent crimes, homicides, police employees, size of the prison population and small arms availability.

Overall, 2011 was the most peaceful year the United States has experienced in 20 years. Homicides and violent crimes both dropped by more than 3 percent last year, while the murder rate has plummeted a staggering 50 percent since 1991, when the survey first started. However, prison violence—which is not counted in the report—has risen dramatically as the number of people behind bars has also grown. (The United States has a higher percentage of its population incarcerated than any other nation.) Almost half of all forcible rapes occur in prison.

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Utah were the top five most peaceful states. Louisiana was the least peaceful, followed by Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and Arizona.

Florida man mistakes girlfriend for hog, shoots her

That's guns are used for--killing the innocent:

A Florida couple was on a weekend camping trip that ended in an airlift to the emergency room.

Steven Egan, 52, was hunting with his girlfriend, Lisa Simmons, in the northern part of the state when he mistook her for a hog and shot her.

"He saw a hog and thought he shot it and went to look for it," Maj. Steve Clair of the Flagler County Sheriff's Office told ABC News.  "He heard her and thought it was a hog and just shot."

Report: Swiss woman starved doing 'sunlight' fast


Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.

The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.

Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.

Russian's purchase of U.S.-backed battery firm sparks anxiety


Batteries made in America for America and backed by America. That's how politicians hailed Ener1.

The company tapped the country's top scientists at Argonne National Lab in Illinois, and U.S. taxpayers pledged up to $118 million in federal stimulus funds and $80 million in state and local incentives to help Ener1 produce cutting-edge battery technology for electric cars and the U.S. military.

"This is about the future. And the question is which nation is going to seize the future. Some nation is going to grab it by the throat. One of the nations of the world is going to lead the world in green energy and technology," Vice President Joe Biden said in January 2011 in a speech praising federal support for Ener1 at its facility in Indiana.

That nation, in this case, is Russia.

A little more than a year after Biden's visit to Ener1's Indiana manufacturing plant, the company is owned outright by Boris Zingarevich, a Russian businessman with ties to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a fact that concerns some technology experts in the U.S.

Rupert Murdoch defends his 50-year media career

It's clear that the British authorities will not take on Rupert Murdoch. He should be prosecuted and thrown in jail for being behind the massive hacking scandal. And Murdoch should lose his TV license in the U.S.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch defended his globe-spanning, half-a-century long media career Wednesday, telling an official inquiry into U.K. media ethics that he never gave his editors orders on who to back or used his political sway for financial gain.

Speaking softly, deliberately and with dry humour, Murdoch parried one question after the other about the influence his dominant media operations had in lobbying lawmakers, setting the news agenda, favouring certain politicians and benefiting from allegedly sweetheart business deals.

"I've never asked a prime minister for anything," he said after being questioned whether he had asked then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to support his bid for the Times newspapers in 1981.

Murdoch was being quizzed under oath before an inquiry run by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who is examining the relationship between British politicians and the press, a key question emerging amid the phone hacking scandal that brought down Murdoch's News of the World tabloid.

Revelations of widespread illegal behaviour at the top-selling Sunday publication rocked Britain's establishment with evidence of media misdeeds, police corruption and too-cozy links between the press and politicians.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ex-spy: Destroying CIA tapes purged 'ugly visuals'

This jerk should be in jail:

The retired top CIA officer who ordered the destruction of videos showing waterboarding says in a new book that he was tired of waiting for Washington's bureaucracy to make a decision that protected American lives.

Jose Rodriguez, who oversaw the CIA's once-secret interrogation and detention program, also lashes out at President Barack Obama's administration for calling waterboarding torture and criticizing its use.

"I cannot tell you how disgusted my former colleagues and I felt to hear ourselves labeled 'torturers' by the president of the United States," Rodriguez writes in his book, "Hard Measures."

The book is due out April 30. The Associated Press purchased a copy Tuesday.

20 Arrested Protesting Wells Fargo Meeting in San Francisco


Hundreds of protestors tried to shut down a Wells Fargo's shareholders meeting in San Francisco's Financial District Tuesday. Even though they weren't successful, parts of California and Sacramento Streets were closed to traffic throughout the day. A coalition of union workers and Occupy organizers led the march up California to the Merchant Bank building. Their stated goal was to disrupt the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting. "Let us in! Let us in! Let us in," they chanted. At the same time, share holders stood outside waving their stock certificates and demanding to be let into the meeting.

Metta World Peace Suspended 7 Games For Elbowing James Harden

The NBA dropped the ball on this one. Instead of doing the right and suspending him permanently they caved to the players' union and the pocket book. This scum should not have the privilege of playing in an NBA uniform. That elbow was a criminal act. How many more incidents do we have Artest before he really hurts someone, not that a concussion is anything to sneeze at. At the very least the league should force "Peace" to take anger management courses:

The NBA responded to Metta World Peace's latest act of aggression with a seven-game suspension that will lighten the Los Angeles Lakers troublemaker's wallet and playoff schedule.

World Peace was suspended Tuesday for throwing a vicious elbow at Oklahoma City's James Harden, keeping the Lakers' starting small forward sidelined for most of the first postseason round.

World Peace was ejected from Sunday's game against the Thunder for striking Harden in the head with the back of his elbow, giving Oklahoma City's top reserve a concussion. The former Ron Artest claimed the blow was an accidental, overzealous celebration of a dunk, yet even Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates weren't defending his inexplicable actions.

"It's hard to get into a guy's head and know exactly what happened in that situation," Bryant said. "I haven't really spoken to him about it. You've really got to ask him."

Former TSA chief: Airport security in America is 'broken'

It's broken just like the two-party system:

As head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from 2005 to 2009, Kip Hawley was the public face of an agency despised by millions of Americans. Today, he says that hatred is understandable because the agency’s approach to airport security is “broken,” arguing that it should forgo standardized procedures and a focus on prohibited items in favor of increased flexibility and mitigating risk.

Hawley elaborates on the concept in a new book, out today, called “Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security” (Palgrave Macmillan, $27), co-written with Nathan Means. In it, he reveals the thinking behind the agency’s actions, the problems they’ve caused — in terms of cost, wasted effort and an angry public — and the possibility that someday we may be able to travel with our liquids, lacrosse sticks and large jars of peanut butter.

Shaky economic prospects threaten both parties

This is why both Presidential campaigns spend most of their time attacking each other. They have no answers to the economic quagmire we find ourselves in:
In the short term, the recovery looks shaky. In the long term, the economy looks shaky — so shaky that it may be many years before a president of either party or any ideology can count on winning a second term.

Polls show that President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney is narrowing, but should Obama lose in November the decisive factor won’t be Romney (who is as inept a presidential candidate as this country has produced in decades). The real culprit will be the economy.

Mad cow case confirmed in California

Mad cow case confirmed in California

Occupy Evicted From Its 'Headquarters'

A group of Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted Monday from a Lower Manhattan space that had served as an informal headquarters and a crash pad for the movement's stalwart supporters.

A late-day request to stay the eviction was denied by a judge, leaving the group without a central location to plan several coming events, including what they hoped would be a galvanizing May Day march that is being coordinated with labor unions.

Protesters moved into the space in late October, a few weeks before New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered police to clear out the group's Zuccotti Park encampment. The loft space at 40 Exchange Place is located a few blocks away from the park that served as the heart of the anti-corporate movement until the Nov. 15 raid.

Ghost of Occupy Wall Street to haunt GE meeting

An offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which rose to prominence last year with its anticorporate stance, plans to bring its populist message to General Electric Co's shareholder meeting in Detroit on Wednesday.

Members of the "99 Percent" movement plan to picket the largest U.S. conglomerate's meeting to protest its low tax rate. The loosely organized coalition, whose name is a contrast to the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans, expects to have more than 2,000 protesters in attendance, according to organizers.

"It's the 99 percent and we want to serve notice to the 1 percent that it's time to start paying your fair share in taxes and being a little more responsible," said Christian Gary, an organizer with Good Jobs Now in Detroit.

Home prices remain near post-crisis low; new-home sales fall 7%

Because home owners don't count. Unless they happen to work on Wall St.

Home prices remain near post-crisis low; new-home sales fall 7%

1 in 2 new Graduates are Jobless or Underemployed


The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

Metta World Peace deserves lengthy suspension


Within a five-second span, Metta World Peace threw everything away.

His vicious elbow didn't just damage Oklahoma City forward James Harden. It damaged World Peace's reputation. His ensuing ejection didn't just hang the Lakers out to dry as they somehow managed to escape with a 114-106 double-overtime victory Sunday over the Oklahoma City Thunder. It left them wondering if they can win without him, since World Peace probably will draw a lengthy suspension. And his apology afterward that it was an "unintentional elbow" isn't just laughable because the Lakers' public relations staff refused to allow him to take follow-up questions. It's head-scratching because the replays show World Peace's blow was hardly an accident.

There's no reason World Peace would cock his arm and then rear back with such force unless he was planning to hit somebody. And because of the severity of that incident, World Peace deserves a suspension that lasts as long as Harden remains sidelined as he tries to recover from a concussion.

"Pro-Romney super PAC declines to give details behind $400,000 donation"


The super PAC promoting Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy would not reveal precisely Monday who wrote a $400,000 check to the group in March. Restore Our Future said, however, who did not write the check: Scott DeSano, the man whose business address is listed on a report to the Federal Election Commission.

Restore Our Future on Friday reported to the FEC $8.7 million in March contributions, including a $400,000 gift from “Seaspray Partners LLC” at a Palm Beach, Fla. address. The company at that address belongs to DeSano, a former stock trader at Fidelity Investments.

DeSano told USA Today that he and his company have not contributed any money to Restore Our Future, and a spokeswoman for the super PAC told the Globe that a clerical error was responsible for the incorrect attribution.

US economy faces likely slowdown, big year-end decisions

US economy faces likely slowdown, big year-end decisions

NJ Father Records Teachers Bullying His Autistic Child


A New Jersey father says he was so desperate to save his autistic son from he calls the bullying of teachers that he sent him to school with a hidden tape recorder.

You'll never believe the shocking things the teachers were caught saying.

FOX 29's Sara Madonna has the recordings from a disappointed, outraged father.

Stuart Chaifetz says his 10-year-old who has autism has always been a very gentle, loving boy. So when he started getting reports from school that his son was hitting teachers, he knew something was wrong after putting a recorder in his pocket for a day.

Anti-union Right’s alternate reality on NLRB election rule


A vigorous opponent of unions, the Workplace Fairness Institute, according to the New York Times, was founded by “several long-term Republican operatives” and is funded by undisclosed corporate donors. However, Mr. Wszolek’s arguments should be considered on their merits, so let’s take a closer look at his so-called “facts."

Fact No 1: Is “regulatory uncertainty” destroying jobs? On this point, Wszolek might read the Economic Policy Institute’s study, “Regulatory Uncertainty: A Phony Explanation for our jobs problem.” EPI director Larry Mishel concludes, “An examination of current economic trends, and especially what employers are doing in terms of hiring and investment, debunks this story about regulatory uncertainty as the cause of our dismal
job growth.” With regard to the NLRB rules, GOP lawsuits and legislation are responsible for creating the current uncertainty.

Va. couple accidentally shot at gun safety class

Guns are dangerous even for trained people:

A Roanoke, Va., man and his wife were recovering after he accidentally shot himself and her during a firearms safety class.

Monday, April 23, 2012

RNC Spokeswoman: Republican Economic Platform Will Be The Bush Program, ‘Just Updated’

Old, Rich White Men Are Buying This Election

Source: Frank Rich, New York Magazine:

This isn’t quite what was supposed to happen. When the Supreme Court handed down its five-to-four Citizens United decision in 2010, pre-vetting Mitt Romney’s credo that “corporations are people,” apocalyptic Democrats, including Obama, predicted that the election would become a wholly owned subsidiary of the likes of Chevron and General Electric. But publicly traded, risk-averse corporations still care more about profits than partisanship. They tend to cover their bets by giving to both parties. And they are fearful of alienating customers and investors. Witness, most recently, the advertisers who fled Rush Limbaugh, or the far bigger brands (­McDonald’s and Wendy’s, Coke and Pepsi) that severed ties with the conservative lobbying mill responsible for pushing state “stand your ground” laws like the one used to justify the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. While corporations and unions remain serious players in the campaign of 2012, their dollars don’t match those of the sugar daddies, who can and do give as much as they want to the newfangled super-PACs.

Sugar daddies—whom I’ll define here as private donors or their privately held companies writing checks totaling $1 million or more (sometimes much more) in this election cycle—are largely a Republican phenomenon, most of them one degree of separation from Karl Rove and his unofficial partners in erecting a moneyed shadow GOP, David and Charles Koch. At last look, there were 25 known sugar daddies on the right (or more, if you want to count separately the spouses and children who pitch in). You’ve likely heard of Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas tycoon who is Benjamin Netanyahu’s unofficial ambassador to the GOP. But you may be less familiar with Irving Moskowitz, the bingo entrepreneur who funnels his profits into East Jerusalem settlements. Or Robert Mercer, the hedge-fund master of “flash trading” who poured a clandestine $1 million into ads attacking the “ground-zero mosque” and nearly another $3 million into a scale-model railroad in his Long Island mansion. Or Steven Lund, the co-founder of Nu Skin, which became “direct selling” sponsor of the Romney-run 2002 Winter Olympics after having spent much of the nineties settling complaints over false advertising and other unscrupulous practices with the Federal Trade Commission and six different states’ attorneys general.

Research Shows the US is a Low Wage Country

This should be a wake-up call to the supporters of this President. If Obama were a Republican this stat would be used against him. But it seems that the left has been drinking the cool aid and refuse to see reality for what it is. President Obama serves the interest of big business. He's proven that over and over again. Don't be fooled any longer.

Source: CBS

Study: ID thieves robbing the grave


Nearly 2.5 million dead people are victims of identity theft every year, according to a study being made public Monday.

U.S. Economy Demands New Policy to Rescue Jobs and Growth


Obviously China has been a place of radical institutional change to effectively transform its economy in a mere 30 years, from a poverty-stricken political backwater to a global economic powerhouse. Certainly China has been a country that used the blunt edges of government – heavy investment, government protections and cheap labor – to attract companies from overseas and to grow its own sectors, yet it has worked, quite effectively.

In the United States, it has been anathema to call for a deeper interplay between government and corporate America. While China sets an industrial goal and provides the appropriate policies and assistance to reach it, the U.S. government invests little energy in industrial policy and frequently must be cajoled into investing in new science and technology research.

Almost all major sectors in the United States that have become powerful industries have had some level of support from the government. This is not unfair treatment to be challenged in the World Trade Organization. It is smart capitalism to be emulated. The reality is that building industries – particularly fledgling industries with uncertain markets – requires early investment, an investment risk that the government alone is capable of bearing.

As a nation, the United States needs to think deeply about how best to develop new industries to rebuild its economy. Information technology, biotechnology and renewable energy are critical areas of opportunity. While China is struggling to catch up with the West on information technology and biotechnology, it has made great leaps in the area of renewable energy. China is rapidly moving ahead of the United States and Europe on the development of renewable energy products, despite the fact the technologies are often created here in the United States. Why? The Chinese government aggressively supports renewable energy compared to the U.S. government. China invested some tens of billions in renewable energy.

China’s investment in new industries explains many of the recent defections of U.S. companies to China. Unlike the United States, China perceives the benefit, and, more importantly, the necessity of public-private partnerships to grow and sustain industries today.

ALEC Hit With IRS Compliant Filed By Common Cause


Open government advocates accused a conservative legislative group Monday of falsely claiming tax-exempt status while doing widespread lobbying.

Advocacy group Common Cause said Monday it had filed an IRS complaint accusing ALEC of masquerading as a public charity. ALEC is formed as a nonprofit that brings together lawmakers and private sector organizations to develop legislation and policy.

ALEC says its work is not lobbying.

Common Cause disagrees. "It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in statehouses all over the country that benefits its corporate members," said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, in a statement. "ALEC is not entitled to abuse its charitable tax status to lobby for private corporate interests, and stick the bill to the American taxpayer."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Transcript: 'State of the Union' with Candy Crowley (4-22-12)

Interview with David Axelrod; Interview with Elijah Cummings; Interview with Marco Rubio

CROWLEY: So if you take this, is it fair to say, listen, the president is the guy in charge?

AXELROD: People will judge him based on his record. I think in your own poll he had a big edge in strong and decisive on all those leadership qualities. Part of it is we've been through some big things. We ended a war. We dealt with an oil leak of epic proportions. We've brought bin Laden to justice -- we've been involved in a lot of things that required very strong management, very strong leadership, very strong coordination and oversight. And I think people will judge him on the totality, not these transient stories.

CROWLEY: If this were happening in a Republican administration, would you be one of the first guys out there going hey, this guy is in charge.

AXELROD: Maybe, although I must say that the stories that stick are the ones that are really emblematic and reflective of an administration. These are not.

Look, in any organization I would venture to say that every once in a while someone does something wrong at CNN. And -- not you, of course, but -- and then the question is how do you deal with it. Do you deal with it firmly. Do you learn from it. Do you put in systems to prevent those things from happening in the future. And the answer in this case is yes. That's what we've done.

We've been more aggressive on demanding efficiencies, on attacking waste than I think any other administration has.

CROWLEY: It's also come to light that since last July, Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, who has a very tough job, and we all understand that, has -- it's cost the government $860,000 to fly him back and forth every other weekend, or however often he goes, to his home in California. Does that disturb you at all?

AXELROD: Well, look, Leon's family is out there. I understand that. He's serving the country. He's also the Defense Secretary and that puts some certain security risks around him that almost no one but the president endures. So, you know, I think...

CROWLEY: Tight government times you can see how people might look at this, certainly you're rivals, look at this and say, wow, this is a lot of money, most people when they get a job they move to where the job is -- and their families.

AXELROD: Understood but Leon is doing an important job for the country, really a service to the country at the age of 73 after a long career. He followed Bob Gates at the request of the president. I don't think people are going begrudge him going home and seeing his family.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me -- I want to give you a flash from the past with a couple of sound bites from the president in the campaign.


OBAMA: Well, what we need is a comprehensive immigration approach.

I want to solve the problem, not use it as a political football.

We've got to fix a broken immigration system.

That's a priority that I will pursue from my very first day.


CROWLEY: OK, the president at other times during that campaign, which I covered fairly closely, said I'm going to get immigration reform in the first year. Now we're almost four years in and he has said, OK, I'm going to get it in the first year of my second term. Why should the Hispanic community or the country at large believe it's going to happen next year?

AXELROD: Well, because the president has tried to get it. He has initiated those actions and here is what happened, Candy. I was --


'Fareed Zakaria GPS' Transcript (4-22-12)

Full transcript. Excerpt Below:

ZAKARIA: All right. The Billionaires Index, you look at the number of billionaires in a country, but you look at also the total net worth as a percentage of GDP, and what do you do -- what do you find and what are you trying to get at?

SHARMA: You want new wealth to be created, and you don't want too much wealth to be concentrated in a few hands, because that sort of leads to the perception that reforms or opening up the economy is only benefiting a few people, and it leads to a backlash, in fact, against economic reforms.

And if you look at the economic success stories of Korea, Taiwan, one thing that you find, which is very noticeable about them, is that the number of billionaires they have as a share of the total sort of economy is sort of fairly reasonable.

But if you -- but the problem I find in places such as Russia is exactly the opposite, which is the number of billionaires you have, the highest number of billionaires in the world, even though their economy is nowhere near the size of a U.S. or even China, and the more disturbing point about Russia I find is that if you look at the number of millionaires, Russia doesn't even feature in the top 15 in the world. So when it comes to billionaires, top two. When it comes to millionaires, not even the top 15 in the world.

ZAKARIA: So the title of your book is "Breakout Nations." So there is good news here, because you're saying that the old emerging markets, the leader is Brazil, Russia, China, India are perhaps going to slow down. So what are the new ones and why are they thriving?

SHARMA: Well, I think that the most important point here is about expectations. That you have got to have reasonable expectations about countries. And the second thing is to do with per capita income.

Now, if a country like Korea, which I identify as still a break- out nation -- Korea is a remarkable economic success story along with Taiwan. It's the only economy in the world to have grown at 5 percent or more for five decades in a row.

ZAKARIA: Five decades.

SHARMA: Five decades in a row. Only two did in the world grew at more than 5 percent on average each decade. The other country where I think that expectations can be surpassed versus what the consensus is are Indonesia, Turkey, Philippines. I think even Thailand has a chance of doing so. Then a bunch of frontier markets such as Nigeria, Sri Lanka. I think all these countries have a chance of surpassing expectations.

ZAKARIA: And you're bullish on Poland as I remember in the book.

SHARMA: Yes. Eastern Europe. I think that Europe today gets a lot of flack for the fact that you talk about Europe today, and you only think about debt crises and boom-bust cycles, and yet you've got countries such as Poland with very good macroeconomic finances, and a pretty stable growth rate, solid institutions, and some very good companies.

And I think Czech is also in a similar league, even though its economy tends to be a bit more cyclical, because of its exports exposure.

So I think there are a whole bunch of countries out there which can be break-out nations, which can be the countries that emerge as the new economic stars.

Obama's Job Approval Rating under 50% since December

This graphic shows, according to Real Clear Politics average of polls, that the President's job aproval has been under 50 percent since December of last year. To many pro-Democrat pundits they view this as a success since it's in par with the failure of previous administrations. Anyone with a job approval of under 50% should not be re-elected. And if Romney were in White House he would probably do about the same. The problem is the failed two-party system . That is why they should both be fired. Vote Third party!

'Meet The Press' Transcript (4-22-12)

Full transcript. Excerpt below:

MR. GREGORY:  Good morning.  There are new details this morning in the prostitution scandal involving the Secret Service and the U.S. military.  Here is the very latest.  Now 12 Secret Service agents and 11 members of the U.S. military have been implicated in the scandal.  Six agents have already been forced out of the Secret Service, including two supervisors.  We're told investigators from the Secret Service and the Pentagon have sought to interview some of the 21 Colombian women who were involved.  They've obtained security video from the Hotel El Caribe and have been able to identify the women.  And the man you see there, director of the Secret Service Mark Sullivan, briefed the president in the Oval Office on Friday.  Jay Carney, the president's spokesman, saying unequivocally that the president quote has "faith in the Secret Service and high regard for the agency." So that's where things stand.
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Where is it going?  Joining me now, Republican congressman from Califorma--California, rather, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa and Republican congressman from New York, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Peter King.

Welcome to both of you.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY):  Good morning.  Good morning, David.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA):  Thank you, David.

MR. GREGORY:  Congressman King, let me start with you.  Where is this headed? Ultimately, will everyone involved lose their job?

REP. KING:  I would say anyone who is found to be guilty will.  As you know, there was one of the 11 has been partially exonerated and he will probably not be terminated.  He will face administrative action.  But I would expect within a very near future to have several other Secret Service agents leaving the agency of those 11, and there's, you know, one other person's been added on. So Director Sullivan from the moment this broke has moved effectively and this investigation is going full speed ahead.  There are many, many agents in Colombia interviewing the women involved, interviewing the hotel employees. There's, I believe, hundreds of Colombian and--police are assisting the Secret Service in this.  So it's going all out and from every indication I've seen from the moment this scandal broke until now, there's no attempt to cover anything over.  Everything is being--every lead--possible lead is being examined.

My staff, I began an investigation last week.  I've sent a detailed letter to Director Sullivan with a list of questions that we need to be answered.  We're in contact with the Secret Service and other sources of law enforcement and from all I've seen so far, this investigation is going at a very proper rate and is going to be carried all the way and it has to be.

MR. GREGORY:  But Congressman King, what else needs to be known?  What else do you want to know?

REP. KING:  Well, first of all, we have to know exactly what happened, when it began, who was involved, who in the chain of command found out about it and what they did.  Secondly, we have to make sure that there is--there were no security violations, that nothing was made available to anyone other than Secret Service, that there was no--the president was never compromised and no, no information was ever made available to anyone else.  Then we have to find out what is going to be done to ensure or to minimize the possibility of this ever happening again because I have great regard for the Secret Service.  I believe Director Sullivan has done a fine job, but the fact is that you can't allow 11 men like this to tarnish what, what--the great reputation of that agency and we have to make sure that others are not doing it and that precautions are put in place and procedures in place to ensure it never happens again.

CNN 'Reliable Sources' Transcript (4-22-12)

Full transcript. Excerpt below:

KURTZ: Jennifer Rubin, Romney has been doing a lot of interviews with local television stations.


KURTZ: But, can you run in a general election as opposed to Republican primary mainly by dealing with the conservative media?

RUBIN: No. I don't think so. And actually, he hasn't been very friendly to the conservative media either. He's -- as you have written and I have written, he had a rather hostile relationship with them.

KURTZ: You interviewed him once.

RUBIN: I interviewed him once. Many on the conservative side, "National Review" has interviewed him. Many others have not.

I think this is a mistake. It has been a mistake. I have written him throughout that he should be more accessible.

He's a pretty good spokesman for his own cause.

KURTZ: So, why is he so wary of the press in general and even the conservative media in particular?

RUBIN: I think this goes to the overall caution of the campaign, the desire not to make any mistakes. But I think by restricting him, it highlights each and every incident so that if he makes a small mistake in one, it really stands out. If he did more of these, it would sort of blend into the background.

KURTZ: I think you're right. When you do so few, then everyone becomes more of a tension-filled event.

And, Bill Press, reporters shouldn't treat Romney any differently even though they're spending all their employer's money to fly with him around the country, and he barely does any press availability, but inevitably, this is kind of an undercurrent of resentment, is there not?

BILL PRESS, CURRENT TV: Well, there is. But I have to tell you -- you know what? I am just sick and tired of all these politicians, all of them, whining about the media. Give me a break.

You know? Look,, first of all, I also want to say that Romney has been treated poorly by the conservative media. I mean, Joe Scarborough says he doesn't know one Republican that he talks to that thinks Romney is going to win.

Now, that's not like helping his case. So -- I mean, Santorum and Gingrich complain about FOX. Not so long ago, they were on FOX's payroll, and now Mitt Romney -- I think the truth is they all have gotten pretty fair treatment. Better than they deserve in most cases.

RUBIN: Well, I would like to second that, and I have made that rant on this program as well that conservatives -- at least candidates, whine about this way too much. And they sound like victims. Voters aren't interested in this. It's fine for all of us to critique and the media should be held to a standard.

KURTZ: Right.

RUBIN: But for candidates themselves, I think it comes across as kind of whiney.

PRESS: And can I just point out? It wasn't a reporter who said the trees are just the right size in Michigan.

KURTZ: Here we go --

PRESS: I mean, all of those things, they say them.

KURTZ: He says some things that he'd probably wish he hadn't said.

Let me turn now to something that's been kind of below the radar. Maybe it's now coming above the radar, and that is a focus on Mitt Romney's religion.

I want to play for you a couple of clips, including an interview that he did do this week with a member of the mainstream media, ABC's Diane Sawyer.

GOP Elite Holds off the Tea Partiers


The Republican Party establishment has withstood the tea-party revolution.

The tricorne-hat wearing, Gadsden-flag waving insurgents were nowhere near the Republican National Committee’s annual meeting of state chairman, which wrapped up at a posh resort here Saturday afternoon.

Instead, veteran party leaders — who wore business suits even in the 100-degree heat — reigned supreme.

The 2012 meeting of the Republican national command shows just how little has actually changed in the Grand Old Party since the tea-party movement helped Republicans capture the U.S. House majority two years ago and announced that they were a powerful force in American politics.

While tea-party activists have won county chairmanships and seats on state central committees, few (if any) activists have clinched slots on the Republican Party’s 168-member governing committee. That’s not to say that tea-partiers have disappeared or that they won’t get their moment in the sun — but it may take years for them to climb the party ladder the same way as everyone else.

Conservative nonprofit ALEC acts as stealth business lobbyist


Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state.

It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

One of them, Bill Seitz, a prominent Republican state senator, wrote to a fellow senior lawmaker to relay ALEC’s concerns about “the recent upsurge” in false-claims legislation nationwide. “While this is understandable, as states are broke, the considered advice from our friends at ALEC was that such legislation is not well taken and should not be approved,” he said in a private memorandum.

The legislation was reworked to ease some of ALEC’s concerns, making it one of many bills the group has influenced by mobilizing its lawmaker members, a vast majority of them Republicans.

Despite its generally low profile, ALEC has drawn scrutiny recently for promoting gun rights policies like the Stand Your Ground law at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida, as well as bills to weaken labor unions and tighten voter identification rules. Amid the controversies, several companies, including Coca-Cola, Intuit and Kraft Foods, have left the group.