January 18th, 2009

  • bispo

Many blacks intend to make of day of Obama's swearing in

ATLANTA — Asante Bradford gave his bosses nearly three months notice that he would not be at his desk Jan. 20.

A day after Barack Obama's historic presidential win, Bradford knew he wanted to whoop it up when Obama was sworn in as the nation's first black chief executive — and that he couldn't do that at work.

"I decided if I couldn't be (in Washington, D.C.), I'm just going to take the day off, just so I can scream and holler," said Bradford, 40, who works for the state of Georgia as a liaison to the entertainment industry. He plans to watch the festivities at home with friends.

People across the country may notice the absence of their black colleagues and classmates on Inauguration Day, as many who won't be traveling to Washington gather at homes, restaurants and churches, huddle around TVs and watch the historic swearing in from afar. And while the ceremony will only last a few hours, the day offers a chance to reflect and rejoice in the moment.

"Being at work is not an option," said Brenda Wilson, a 51-year-old manager at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta who abandoned her dreams of heading to Washington but will not be in the office. "I wouldn't be able to get any work done, wondering what was going on."

Showing solidarity

Coming a day after the federal observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday — many black Americans deem the day as something of a holiday requiring cultural solidarity, much like the Million

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  • bispo

Obama, Warren and the new evangelicals

In addition to knowing President-elect Barack Obama for a decade, the Rev. Jim Wallis would seem like the type of nationally known, centrist, evangelical pastor chosen to give the inaugural invocation. Instead, Obama is still hearing criticism for inviting the Rev. Rick Warren, a conservative Orange County pastor who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, to take that marquee inaugural position.

But choosing Warren makes long-term political sense, say Wallis and others. Even though Warren's support of California's Proposition 8 and comments made in a Beliefnet.com interview last month equating gay marriage to pedophilia drew widespread criticism from some of Obama's core supporters, analysts say Warren is symbolic of a new political reality.

"White evangelicals are no longer an extension of the Republican Party," said the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor at a Sacramento church.

Plus, the choice is philosophically consistent with how Obama has been reaching out to opposing constituencies during his transition period. On Tuesday night, he dined at the home of conservative columnist George Will at a party attended by conservative commentators like William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. The next day, the Democrat hosted a meeting at his transition office with centrist and left-wing commentators ranging from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to TheAtlantic.com's Andrew Sullivan to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

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  • schmiss

Stay classy, Chavez

Venezuela's Chavez says Obama has "stench" of Bush

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday Barack Obama had the "stench" of his predecessor as U.S. president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American "empire."

Most world leaders expect a new era of U.S. foreign relations when Obama, a Democrat, is sworn in as president on Tuesday after Republican George W. Bush's eight years in the White House.

But Chavez said frayed ties with Washington were unlikely to improve despite the departure of Bush, who the Venezuelan leader has often called the "devil."

"I hope I am wrong, but I believe Obama brings the same stench, to not say another word," Chavez said at a political rally on a historic Venezuelan battlefield.

"If Obama as president of the United States does not obey the orders of the empire, they will kill him, like they killed Kennedy, like they killed Martin Luther King, or Lincoln, who freed the blacks and paid with his life."

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' jules
  • schmiss

Geeee ya think

Pelosi: Bush Administration Investigations Needed

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants an investigation into whether the Bush administration broke the law when it fired a group of federal prosecutors.

She says that what she calls the politicizing of the Justice Department cannot go unreviewed.

House Democrats last week recommended a criminal investigation to see if administration officials broke the law in the name of national security. The report cited the interrogation of foreign detainees, warrantless wiretaps, retribution against critics, manipulation of intelligence and the fired prosecutors.

Barack Obama has been more cautious. He has said he believes there is a need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.

Pelosi appeared on "Fox News Sunday."


Obama Naysayers Speak Out

EDIT: By popular demand:


With Barack Obama's approval ratings in the 70s and his visage plastered on every shop window and Metro card in Washington, it's hard to remember that 58 million Americans voted for the other guy.

Even President Bush — who presumably counts himself among that group — said last week that Obama's inauguration is "a moment of hope and pride."

That's not exactly how Michelle Malkin describes it.

"Jan. 20 has turned into a schlock inauguration, (where) every last moocher has come to cash in on Obama," says the conservative blogger and pundit. "There are some of us who want to bang our heads against the wall."

While most Republicans now in office are saying all the right things about Tuesday's proceedings — roll tape on "peaceful transfer of power" and "historic moment for the country" sound bites — some conservatives can't quite get themselves in the "We Are One" mood.

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I'm sick of the partying and celebrations too. I'm cracking open a very large bottle of Haterade right


Israel declared one a few days ago...

Hamas announces ceasefire in Gaza

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has announced an immediate ceasefire with Israel in Gaza.

A statement read by a Hamas spokesman said the group would hold fire for a week to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.
The move came hours after a unilateral Israeli ceasefire came into effect.
Israeli security sources say a gradual withdrawal of troops from the Gaza Strip has started. Earlier, there was more rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.
High alert

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'Tungsten bombs' leave Israel's victims with mystery wounds: UN calls for a war crimes investigation

'Tungsten bombs' leave Israel's victims with mystery wounds

As it declares a unilateral ceasefire, Jerusalem faces a UN call for a war crimes investigation

Israel was facing demands for war crimes investigations as it declared a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza last night after a 22-day assault in which more than 1,200 Palestinians, a third of them children, were killed and 13 Israelis died.

Two children were killed yesterday when Israeli tanks shelled a UN school in which families were sheltering, leading a UN spokesman, Chris Gunness, to say: "There has to be an investigation to determine whether a war crime has been committed." The call was dismissed by an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, who said: "These claims of war crimes are not supported by the slightest piece of evidence." But among numerous allegations of disproportionate use of force, questions are also multiplying about the use of unconventional weapons by Israel, including a new type of bomb that causes injuries that doctors have not seen before, and which they find impossible to treat.


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Onstage With Bruce Springsteen And Bono During ‘We Are One’ Rehearsals

“Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” will air live on MTV on Tuesday, January 20, at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT. MTV News will have wall-to-wall coverage of the event and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya in the days leading up to the event and in the days that follow.



http://www.hbo.com/weareone/ Live stream if you can't get HBO

The Power of Simple Human Intervention

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Between now and January 19th, we’ll feature a series of guest bloggers on USAservice.org. Today we’re pleased to share a post by Lestor Strong, CEO of Experience Corps.

I arrived here in Washington to start my new job as CEO of Experience Corps just a few days before the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day and the Obamas move into the White House. At this moment in our nation’s history, I feel – and I suspect many Americans feel – equal parts trepidation and optimism. Fear of war and the worst economy of our lifetimes. Hope that we will realize Dr. King’s dream; that we shall, in fact, overcome.

Hope and the belief that anything is possible are powerful emotions. They helped fuel the civil rights movement. They helped propel Barack Obama to the nation’s highest office. And they motivate more than 2,000 Experience Corps members in 23 cities across the country to help young children overcome the longest of odds.

But hope alone is not enough. It takes work, hard work, to make change, to defy odds, to truly overcome. 

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Get involved in your area. Find a service event near you.



Future of abstinence-only funding is in limbo

Future of abstinence-only funding is in limbo

With the exit of the Bush administration, critics of abstinence-only sex education will be making an aggressive push to cut off federal funding for what they consider an ineffective, sometimes harmful program.

How quickly and completely they reach their goal is uncertain, however, as conservative supporters of abstinence education lobby Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to preserve at least some of the funding, which now totals $176 million a year.

And even if federal funding is halted, some states — such as Georgia — are determined to keep abstinence programs going on their own, ensuring that this front in the culture wars will remain active.

Obama is considered an advocate of comprehensive sex education, which — unlike abstinence-only curriculum — includes advice to young people about using contraceptives if they do engage in sexual activity. However, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to elaborate on what the new president would propose in his own budget plan.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of American, depicted the federal abstinence-only program as "an utter failure that has wasted more than $1.5 billion" over the past decade. Like other critics, she noted that several major studies — including a federally funded review — have found no evidence that the abstinence-only approach works in deterring teen sex.
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Israel, Hamas Both Claim Victory After Cease-Fire in Gaza Strip

Israel, Hamas Both Claim Victory After Cease-Fire in Gaza Strip

Israel and Hamas are both claiming victory in the 22-day conflict in the Gaza Strip that left more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

Israeli officials declared they had succeeded in their main objective of limiting Hamas’s ability to fire rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. Hamas announced that sheer survival constituted success after the onslaught by sea, land and air by Israeli forces.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed Israelis on television hours before yesterday’s 2 a.m. unilateral cease-fire, saying the army’s goals “were more than fully achieved.” In Gaza City, mosque loudspeakers along Omar Mukhtar Street broadcast the news of a “gorgeous and great victory” by Hamas that forced Israel to “stop its crimes.”

Both sides will now seek to demonstrate to their own constituencies that the battle was worth fighting. At stake for Israel is the ability to deter further attacks by Hamas and other enemies, such as Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia. Hamas needs to show it still has the muscle to rule Gaza and begin reconstruction.

The Israeli assault killed hundreds of Hamas militants, including some of the group’s top leaders, and reduced Hamas security facilities and government buildings to rubble. The number of rockets fired by Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, fell to 20 a day at the end of the campaign from 70 at the beginning, according to the Israeli army.
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soccer ► herr schweinsteiger.

Gay Bishop's Invocation Blacked Out at Obama's HBO Concert

Although President-elect Obama did include gays in his mention of the various groups who supported him, HBO not only blacked out Bishop Gene Robinson's invocation at today's inauguration concert, they didn't introduce the Washington DC Gay Men's Chorus when they performed, nor did they identify them onscreen. I wonder who was behind that.

Via Joe.My.God

After days of controversy and outrage from the religious right, openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson opened Barack Obama's inauguration concert on the National Mall today with a request that the nation pray for "understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah."

But only the people AT the concert heard that, because HBO did not televise Robinson's message. Who engineered this blackout of Robinson? I suspect we'll hear lots about this in days to come.

UPDATE: The 7PM rebroadcast of the show was identical, no Gene Robinson.

UPDATE II: The full text of Robinson's prayer is here. If you'd like to express your unhappiness to HBO, you can do that here.

Here's a video:

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Photographer says Mugabe's wife attacked him

By MIN LEE, Associated Press Writer Min Lee, Associated Press Writer Sun Jan 18, 7:23 am ET

HONG KONG – A British photographer said Sunday that the wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe punched him repeatedly in the face after he tried to take pictures of her near a luxury hotel in Hong Kong.

Richard Jones told The Associated Press that Grace Mugabe, 43, ordered a bodyguard to hold him down and then attacked him herself on Thursday near the Shangri-La hotel on Hong Kong's Kowloon peninsula.

"She directed several punches into my face," Jones said. "She was wearing diamond-encrusted rings, which caused a lot of lacerations."

Jones, 42, from Machen in South Wales, was on a freelance assignment for London's The Sunday Times.

He said he suffered at least 10 cuts to his face but did not require hospitalization.

"She was screaming, completely crazy," The Sunday Times quoted a witness, Austrian tourist Werner Zapletal, as saying in a report Sunday.

Police spokeswoman Odelia Tam said police are investigating the alleged attack but have not made any arrests. She said she did not know the identity of the alleged attacker.

Calls seeking comment Sunday from the Zimbabwean embassy in Beijing went unanswered.

The Sunday Times condemned the attack.

"We take very seriously the freedom of journalists to operate abiding by the law in Hong Kong and we look to the Hong Kong authorities to uphold those rights at all times," said Michael Sheridan, the paper's Far East correspondent.

Zimbabwe's first lady was vacationing in Hong Kong and visiting her daughter Bona, who is studying in the Chinese-ruled former British colony, The Sunday Times said.

Grace Mugabe has left Hong Kong since the alleged attack, the report said.

Sheridan said he and Jones had been staking out the Shangri-La on Thursday, where Mugabe was believed to be staying.

Sheridan told the AP he approached Mugabe in the lobby of the Shangri-La shortly before the alleged attack, but a female companion denied her identity.

About 10 minutes later, he found Jones nearby "with his face streaming blood."

Sheridan said The Sunday Times wanted to "draw a contrast between her lifestyle and the plight of the people in Zimbabwe."

Zimbabwe is suffering from a cholera crisis that has killed 2,200 people and an economic meltdown that has seen inflation officially put at 231 million percent.

Despite the country's political and economic difficulties, Grace Mugabe went ahead with a vacation in Asia, spending time in the Malaysian island resort Langkawi and Singapore before arriving in Hong Kong, The Sunday Times said. Robert Mugabe joined his wife in Singapore for a few days, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, the country's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, returned home Saturday for talks Monday with Robert Mugabe about a power-sharing agreement that was reached in September but never implemented.

ETA: Another article from The Times



Cosmetic procedures pick up prior to Obama inauguration

To heck with Champagne, break out the Botox. It's inauguration party time.

Washington, D.C.-area cosmetic dermatologists, and skin experts in other major cities, say despite the sagging economy, requests for quickie cosmetic fixes, such as Botox and microdermabrasion, have picked up during the last few weeks as people pretty-up for inaugural fetes.

"We have been absolutely swamped since the election with people desiring rejuvenation procedures for the upcoming inauguration," says Washington, D.C., cosmetic dermatologist Tina Alster.

"My normal load for cosmetic procedures has doubled, except for hyaluronic acid fillers — Perlane and Restylane — which have almost tripled," reports cosmetic and laser surgeon Hema Sundaram, who runs two offices in the Washington, D.C., area.

Despite a 2008 survey released last week by The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery that revealed almost 96% of cosmetic surgeons were concerned about the economic downturn and that 79% had already felt its effects, many patients, like interior designer Jan Lynch, 59, says tough times haven't put the breaks on her preparations.

"My motivation is to look the very best I can for such a historical event. I've flown in to D.C. from California for this," says Lynch, who will attend the swearing-in ceremony as well as a black-tie ball with her husband.

Lynch says she stopped by Sundaram's office this weekend for cosmetic treatment, which included Botox and hyaluronic acid fillers.

Sundaram's patients include men, but are mostly women over 35 who include Washington socialites, professionals in politics who will work and mingle socially with the Obamas, and others attending satellite inauguration events.

Journalists, politicians, lobbyists and lawyers are among Alster's clientele. "They have all come in at once," she says.

The trend isn't only occurring inside the Beltway, according to skin experts in other cities.

Cosmetic dermatologist Jeffrey Dover, of Chestnut Hill, Mass., a Boston suburb, says inauguration-bound patients have been "queuing up" at his office. "They're asking for no-downtime procedures to look their best for the festivities."

Leslie Baumann, director of the Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute at the University of Miami, in Miami, Fla., says, "We were swamped this week. Some were going to the inauguration in D.C. But I saw many going to inauguration parties in Miami." Many are men in their 50s and 60s, Baumann says.

New York City cosmetic dermatologist Cheryl Karcher says she's seen an upswing in inauguration-related business at her Park Avenue practice in recent weeks, too. Karcher says she treated one group of young women planning to travel together. "That was fun. They all got peels, Botox, fillers."


' jules
  • schmiss

They call themselves Obama aides, and they're like hackers on steroids, treating the web like a game

Obama staff will say cu l8r 2 IM

Barack Obama may get to keep his BlackBerry, but David Axelrod is losing his IM.

The lawyers broke the bad news to Obama aides at a briefing Friday morning convened by incoming Deputy White House Counsel Cassandra Butts: Not only are they leaving the modern world to enter a White House where some of the clunky desktop computers still run Windows 2000 but — worst of all — they'll be forced to surrender a form of communication staffers have relied on for the last two years to communicate with each other, outside allies, and the press.

From Axelrod, the chief campaign strategist, down to junior staffers in the press office, Obama's campaign relied heavily on software many of them began using in high school — AOL Instant Messager and Google Chat. Instant messaging, though little mentioned, is — perhaps as much as e-mail—deeply woven into contemporary politics and media, whose fabric is the constant, quick, gossipy transmission of spin and information. But a calculus that's perhaps one part security, one part law, and two parts politics, has long barred instant messaging from the White House.

"They just told us flat out we couldn't IM in the White House," groused one senior staffer Friday.

"It sucks. It's really going to slow us down," complained another, saying that lawyers had warned that, along with instant messaging, White House software will restrict users to a range of sites roughly "like your average grade school."

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I wonder if they can visit LJ...??

the bit about Axelrod's use of complete sentences made me LOL. GET WITH THE TIMES OLD MAN.