February 4th, 2009

Reese Witherspoon
  • shibato

Obama administration to issue executive pay limits

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration plans to limit pay to $500,000 a year for executives of government-assisted financial institutions in a new get-tough approach to bankers and Wall Street, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Obama plans to announce the new limits with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the White House on Wednesday.

"If the taxpayers are helping you, then you've got certain responsibilities to not be living high on the hog," President Barack Obama said in an interview with "NBC Nightly News".

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Video at the source
  • zenbeer

Remember those stupid Joe the Plumber sign generators?

I think we all remember filling out those JOE THE PLUMBER sign generators that they never delivered on, if you recall it was a web based form that said "I'M _____________ THE _____________", and would make you a lawn sign.

As expected, I never got my sign that said I'M "so horny for" THE "nude body of Sarah Palin".

But I did get this letter in my inbox (spambox) this morning, it's not the message that made me laugh, but who it was addressed to:

(I wonder who's in charge of culling the email list over at The Johnny Mac fuming and fussing activist group?)

Dear So Horny For,

Yesterday, the Senate began debate on an economic stimulus package that is intended to get our economy back on track and help Americans who are suffering through these difficult times. Unfortunately, the proposal on the table is big on the giveaways for the special interests and corporate high rollers, yet short on help for ordinary working Americans. I cannot and do not support the package on the table from the Democrats and the Obama Administration. Our country does not need just another spending bill, particularly not one that will load future generations with the burden of massive debt. We need a short term stimulus bill that will directly help people, create jobs, and provide a jolt to our economy.

I believe we need to evaluate every bit of spending in this stimulus proposal with one important criteria - does it really stimulate the economy and help create jobs - if the answer is no, it does not belong in a so-called stimulus package. Furthermore, the stimulus must include significant direct relief to American workers in the form of payroll tax cuts and programs to help homeowners keep their homes. Finally, we need an end game to this stimulus so that when our economy recovers, these spending programs do not remain permanent and saddle our children with a skyrocketing national debt.

I appreciate the discussions President Obama is having with my Republican colleagues, but the time for talking has come to an end and we must now begin some serious negotiation. But as of yet, Republicans have not been given the opportunity to be involved. The House of Representatives passed a stimulus bill without a single Republican supporting it. In the Senate, the Democrat leadership is trying to jam the existing proposal through regardless of reservations from a number of members. With so much at stake, the last thing we need is partisanship driving our attempts to turn the economy around.

I have long been a fighter against wasteful spending in Washington and long an advocate for a balanced budget -- that will never change. I realize we face extraordinary challenges with our economy today, but that is not an excuse for more irresponsibly from Washington. I hope you will join me in saying no to this stimulus package as it currently exists by signing this petition.


John McCain
Chair, Country First PAC
  • cindel

JP Morgan CEO: Obama being "unfair"

Dimon Says ‘Not Every Company’ Responsible for Wall Street Pay

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said it’s “unfair” for politicians to criticize Wall Street pay without differentiating compensation based on performance.

“It’s unfair to talk about us as one,” Dimon, who was paid $1 million last year and didn’t accept a bonus, said today at a conference sponsored by Crain’s New York Business. “Not every company was responsible.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and politicans worldwide have criticized financial industry executives for taking multi- million dollar pay packages after banks and brokerages racked up more than $800 billion of losses and writedowns on credit- related assets. Dimon, 52, is among CEOs including Bank of America Corp.’s Kenneth Lewis and Morgan Stanley’s John Mack who opted not to take bonuses for last year.

“Pay got a little exuberant, and there were some legitimate complaints,” Dimon said. “But I don’t think the president of the United States should paint everyone with the same brush.”

New York-based JPMorgan, the second-largest U.S. bank, doesn’t have so-called golden parachutes or retirement packages, and all top executives must retain 75 percent of their stock- based compensation, Dimon said.

Fed Oversight

JPMorgan has taken $29.5 billion in losses, writedowns and credit provisions since the start of the financial crisis. That’s a fraction of the $85.4 billion taken by Citigroup Inc. and $55.9 billion by Merrill Lynch & Co., now part of Bank of America.

Dimon also said the Federal Reserve should have the authority to regulate all companies within the banking system, including investment banks. Regulators lacked powers to oversee such firms before Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. failed last year, Dimon said.

“If you’re going to regulate, you’ve got to regulate all of it,” Dimon said. “If you don’t, you’re going to end up here again with all of these problems.”

Talk of nationalizing the banks should “stop” since many institutions remain healthy, he said. Some lenders will fail, while others will need government aid to make it through the financial crisis, he said. The U.S. should help those firms that need it and should price that aid to recoup losses, Dimon said.

panda bear

(no subject)

Joe The Plumber: 'I Don't Know If The American Public Deserves Me'

Joe The Plumber yesterday, transitioning from war reporter to political strategist, appeared before congressional aides to offer his two cents on the stimulus plan. Joe is taking a stand against the entire package, claiming that it is just another example of "American government" having its way with the people.

The New York Daily News has subsequently explored the possibility of Joe pursuing public office at any point in the near future. But according to Joe, "I don't know if the American public deserve me, but my son definitely deserves my time now." However, he isn't done giving advice to the GOP:

"It's not politically incorrect to say you're Republican or conservative," Joe said. "They need to dig their heels in and fight for what needs to be done."

And no reason to be subtle, he said, as long as folks inform themselves. "I don't believe there's two sides to every story. It's black and white," Wurzelbacher explained. "There's right and wrong."

panda bear

(no subject)

Michael Steele Itching For Fight With Obama

WASHINGTON — The election last week of Michael Steele to be chairman of the Republican National Committee drew considerable notice, not surprisingly: he is the first African-American to hold that position in the party’s 155-year history.

Yet there are other ways that the selection of Mr. Steele, a former lieutenant governor from Maryland who lost a bid for the Senate in 2006, represents a break from the Republican past. And those could prove to be more significant than race, as the Republicans debate in the weeks ahead how much “opposition” they should put in the phrase “loyal opposition.” They face a president who is extraordinarily popular and a nation that appears weary of partisan politics as it confronts an economic crisis.

With Mr. Steele, the Republican Party has turned to someone who is markedly different from his recent predecessors in style and temperament. He is brash and brawny, takes chances that occasionally get him in trouble, and clearly relishes the idea of being portrayed as the fighting counterpoint to President Obama and the Democratic Party. This is not someone who is going to be spending a lot of time talking about microtargeting and the other mechanical aspects of politics.

The new face of the Republican Party does not seem to share the hunger for bipartisanship that Mr. Obama has made one of the stylistic touchstones of his first weeks in office. That became clear from the moment Mr. Steele took the job on Friday, as he all but invited the president of the United States to join him in the boxing ring.

“It’s going to be an honor to spar with him,” he said, before throwing down the gauntlet to Mr. Obama with a quotation from, apparently, an in-your-face late-1980’s rap song by Kool Moe Dee: “How ya like me now?” (Confession: A certain reporter initially suggested that Mr. Steele was invoking the country star Toby Keith, a reference that was convincingly challenged in a barrage of e-mail messages from readers.)

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panda bear

(no subject)

John McCain Slams Obama's Ethics, Says Geithner Is 'Suspect'

John McCain was highly critical of the Obama administration, the stimulus bill and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.

Asked about the withdrawals of Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer due to tax problems, McCain said:

"There was an announcement that was made that we would do things differently here in Washington as far as lobbying was concerned and ethics reform and we have seen major appointments that contradict the very impressive rhetoric."

Later, McCain expressed his skepticism about Geithner:

"I just think that Mr. Geithner is suspect, not only because of his tax problems but also that he was a major adviser in the implementation of the $350 billion bailout package which I think was badly mismanaged... so we need to maybe restart the engines here."

When Hannity asked McCain whether he agreed that the stimulus bill is a "rotting corpse," McCain agreed, adding that it "really is a bad bill."

Which makes it all the more interesting that McCain will skip the stimulus vote this weekend due to a trip he's taking to Munich, Germany for a conference on foreign affairs, reports Huffington Post's Ryan Grim.


panda bear

(no subject)

UN Says Hamas Seized Aid Meant For Gaza Needy

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Hamas police seized thousands of blankets and food parcels meant for the needy in Gaza, the U.N. said Wednesday, a move that could threaten the provision of aid that is essential for more than half of Gaza's impoverished residents.

Hamas policemen broke into an aid warehouse in Gaza City on Tuesday evening and confiscated 3,500 blankets and more than 4,000 food parcels, said Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Gunness said the incident was "absolutely unacceptable."

He said police confiscated aid meant for 500 families after U.N. officials refused to voluntarily hand it over to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. Similar U.N. aid packages had already been distributed to 70,000 residents over the past two weeks.

Ahmad Kurd, the Hamas Minister of Social Affairs, did not deny the aid had been seized, but countered that the U.N. had been handing out relief to groups tied to Hamas' opponents.

"UNRWA did not do what it said it would do, and began distributing its aid to groups that tie their activities to political activism," Kurd said Wednesday.

Israeli officials have accused the militant group of routinely confiscating aid meant for needy Gazans. Gunness said this was the first time Hamas had seized its goods since it took control of the territory in 2007.

The U.N. agency provides food, education and health care services to more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million residents.

Hamas is under pressure to provide aid to Gazans, who are facing more hardship than ever since Israel's devastating three-week military offensive that ended Jan. 18. The operation, aimed at halting rocket fire from the territory, killed hundreds of civilians and left thousands destitute after their homes were damaged or destroyed.

Tensions between Hamas and the U.N. could make it difficult for the international agency to continue providing desperately needed services.

Some international donors have expressed concern that funds intended to help rebuild Gaza could be misused if they fall into Hamas' hands, and the U.N. had been trying to assuage those concerns.

The United Nations is expected to take a leading role in rebuilding Gaza, because Israel and the international community will not deal with Hamas.

The rival Palestinian administration in the West Bank said it will donate $600 million to help Gaza residents rebuild their homes. In an effort to bypass Hamas, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the money from Western donors would be channeled through commercial banks directly to recipients.

The moderate government of Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007 but is eager to regain a role there.

panda bear

(no subject)

Obama making U.S. less safe, Cheney says

(CNN) – The Obama administration's new policies on Guantanamo Bay prison and the treatment of detainees makes it more likely a terrorist attack against the United States will succeed, former Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday.

In an interview with Politico, the former vice president issued a stringent defense of the Bush administration's record on the war on terror, and said he worries the President Obama has already made the country more vulnerable.

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said in the interview published Wednesday.

Cheney also predicted the Obama administration is likely to backtrack on its pledge to end coercive interrogation techniques, since the protection of the United States from terrorists is a "tough, mean, dirty, nasty business.”

"These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek," he said.

The blunt comments come two weeks after President Obama issued executive orders that will close Guantanamo Bay within a year, and shut down secret CIA prisons abroad. Obama also signed an executive order calling on U.S. personnel to follow the Army Field Manual's guidelines when it comes to interrogation.

In the interview, Cheney suggested Obama was irresponsibly adhering to “campaign rhetoric,” and called Guantanamo Bay a “first-class program.”



Cheney warns of new attacks

Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.

And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the country at risk in ways more severe than most Americans — and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team — understand.

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

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Israel admits its troops killed Gaza girls

Israel admits its troops killed Gaza girls

Israel admitted Wednesday that one of its tanks killed three girls whose father's cries on live television shocked viewers in the final days of the Gaza offensive, but said the action was "reasonable."

An Israeli army (IDF) investigation found that two tank shells were fired at a building housing the apartment of Izz el-Deen Aboul Aish on January 16 -- two days before the end of its assault on the Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip.
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I thought they said he was hidding WMDs on his basement...
kurt blaine intimacy

What GOP Leaders deem wasteful in Senate stimulus bill

February 4th, 13:14 CNN) -- On Monday, House Republican leaders put out a list of what they call wasteful provisions in the Senate version of the nearly $900 billion stimulus bill that is being debated:

The Senate is currently the nearly $900 billion economic stimulus bill.

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

Don't Miss
GOP senators draft stimulus alternative
• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.

• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities."

• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.

• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.

• $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.

• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.

• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.

• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

• $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

• $5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

• $850 million for Amtrak.

• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

• $75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.

• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

I agree with some of these. I mean why do we have to pay for people to watch HDTV?

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/02/gop.stimulus.worries/index.html
H/T: Andrew Sullivan
  • cindel

Senate Lacks Votes to Pass Stimulus

Senate Democratic leaders conceded yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill as currently written and said that to gain bipartisan support, they will seek to cut provisions that would not provide an immediate boost to the economy.

The legislation represents the first major test for President Obama and an expanded Democratic Congress, both of which have made economic recovery the cornerstone of their new political mandate. The stimulus package has now tripled from its post-election estimate of about $300 billion, and in recent days lawmakers in both parties have grown wary of the swelling cost.

Moderate Republicans are trying to trim the bill by as much as $200 billion, although Democrats working with those GOP senators have not agreed to a specific figure. The Senate's first vote on a stimulus amendment, a failed effort yesterday to add more infrastructure spending to the package, signaled the change in course.

For weeks, the measure has grown to meet a worsening economic crisis with the largest possible infusion of government cash. Despite warnings of dire consequences if Congress does not act boldly, Republicans have become resolute in their opposition to what they view as runaway and unnecessary spending in the legislation. And as the total in the Senate version climbs to $900 billion, unease also is stirring among moderate Democrats.

Extensive Senate revisions would force lawmakers to work at a frantic pace to meet a self-imposed Feb. 13 deadline for completing a compromise bill with the House, which passed an $819 billion version last week.

Obama reiterated his call for urgent action in a meeting Monday night with Democratic leaders and by letter yesterday to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Read more
' jules
  • schmiss

Girl power!

Sarah Palin, October 2008, misquoting Madeline Albright:

"I'm reading on my Starbucks mocha cup, okay? The quote of the day... It was Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State and UN ambassador. ... Now she said it, I didn't. She said, 'There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't support other women.'"

Sarah Palin, February 2009:

Sarah Palin endorses Texas Gov. Rick Perry over Sen. Hutchison for re-election

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed Rick Perry for re-election, calling him the "true conservative" in a primary election showdown with fellow Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Palin, who electrified the GOP base as the party's vice presidential nominee last year, has strong support among the party's social conservatives. Her endorsement appeared aimed at undercutting Hutchison's appeal with GOP women. Both groups will be important in picking the party's nominee in next year's Republican primary.

In a letter to "Texas Republican women" distributed by the Perry campaign, Palin touts the Texas governor's conservative credentials.

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aaliyah » doin' it for the fame
  • abiding


Octuplets mom getting outrage rather than gifts
News that woman has 6 other kids, used in vitro, may be turning people off

Associated Press
updated 9:25 p.m. ET, Tues., Feb. 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES - Where is the unlimited supply of diapers, formula and baby wipes? The free van? The brand-new house?

Women who give birth to six, seven or eight babies are often showered with dazzling gifts from big corporations, local businesses and strangers. But that is not happening with the Southern California mother who delivered octuplets last week.

The news that she is a single mother with six other children — and that all 14 were conceived by having embryos implanted — seems to have turned off many people, and companies are not exactly rushing to get publicity by piling on the freebies.

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Sweet & Sour Karma

They're thinking before they jump into a pile of insanity! Good for you!! But SHAME ON YOU TLC, SHUT UP, STFU. 
panda bear

(no subject)

Democrats show their strength as House passes kids' health bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The newly empowered Democratic majority flexed its political muscle Wednesday as the House of Representatives voted to expand a key federal health care program to an estimated 4 million additional children.

The 290-135 vote to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program fell largely along party lines, with almost every Democrat voting in favor of the expansion and most Republicans voting against it.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill late Wednesday afternoon; the Senate passed it Friday.

"As the worsening economy causes families to lose their jobs and health insurance, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to ensure that every child in America has access to affordable health care," the president said in a statement after Senate passage last week.

The program, known as SCHIP, currently covers more than 6 million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid -- the federal health insurance program for the poor -- but who can't afford private insurance.

The bill approved by Congress expands SCHIP by roughly $35 billion over five years. It will be financed with a 62-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.

Opponents of the legislation have argued that, among other things, it will allow undocumented immigrants to illegally access taxpayer-financed health care, and is insufficiently funded.

President Bush vetoed two similar bills in 2007, arguing at the time that the legislation would have encouraged families to leave the private insurance market for the federally funded, state-run program.

panda bear

(no subject)

Gregg Supports Stimulus But Won't Vote On It

Senator Judd Gregg, nominated to head the Commerce Department in the Obama White House, delivered a double blow to the prospects of a stimulus bill passing the Senate when he let it be known on Wednesday that he generally supported the measure but would not vote on its passage.

"I have recused myself from voting during the pendency of my nomination," Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, told CNBC.

Earlier in the program he said he was "not really engaged in the stimulus bill," but that he did believe "we need one."

"We need a robust one," he added. "I think the one that's pending is in the range we need. I do believe it's a good idea to do it at two levels, which this bill basically does, which is immediate stimulus and long-term initiatives which actually improve our competitiveness and our productivity."

By recusing himself from voting on a package that he claimed to broadly support, Gregg effectively denied Senate Democrats a possibly significant vote in passing the legislation. Majority whip Dick Durbin and others have begun expressing concerns that the stimulus won't get the 60 votes it needs to pass a Republican filibuster. Gregg could have voted on its passage up until the point that he officially resigned from office.

A cynic might wonder whether the New Hampshire Republican's support for the stimulus was being offered as a means of maneuvering his way towards the White House. Pressed by host Larry Kudlow on whether he had suddenly found the burning bush of Keynsian economics -- Gregg is, after all, a self-described fiscal conservative -- the Senator said that his position was sincere.

"I'm going to support something that I think makes sense, and I think a major stimulus package, and I have said that all along, makes a lot of sense and the Senate is still working its will and I expect it will come up with an even stronger package than the package that left the House."


Is there a limit to how many posts someone can make each day? I hope I'm not annoying anyone.


Tory MP demands torture statement

A senior Conservative says ministers must urgently respond to allegations that Britain was complicit in torture. 

David Davis said a High Court ruling on Wednesday alleged a British resident held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba had been tortured.

The ruling suggested the US threatened to withdraw intelligence help from the UK if details were released, Mr Davis claimed in the House of Commons.  The allegations relate to Binyam Mohamed, a British resident held in Guantanamo, who alleges he was tortured in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.

Mr Davis said a High Court ruling, which pointed to complicity by the UK and US authorities in his torture, was prevented from being published after the US put pressure on the UK. He said the US had threatened to withdraw intelligence co-operation from the UK if this happened.

He said Foreign Secretary David Miliband should make a statement to MPs about the issue as soon as possible to "explain what the devil is going on".

Mr Davis said the US authorities should not interfere with the UK judicial process. He also said the UK government should make it "plain" that it did not support torture in any circumstances.

He said the Judge had stated that the US government had "threatened" its UK counterpart about the repercussions should details of the case be made public. He said Mr Miliband must explain why this had happened and whether the new Obama administration supported its predecessor's stance on the issue.



You stay classy, (hopefully just) Bush administration.

  • schmiss

Mr. Unpopularity

Rush Limbaugh Loses a Popularity Contest
Congressional Republicans have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the battle against Obama. One problem: A poll says he's less popular than Jeremiah Wright.

Republicans who have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the fight against President Obama may have backed the wrong horse. According to one recent poll, Limbaugh turns out to be one of the most unpopular political figures in the country.

An October 24, 2008, poll conducted by the Democratic research firm Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner has Rush Limbaugh enjoying a public approval rating of just 21 percent among likely voters, while 58 percent have “cold” feelings towards the right-wing radio talk show host. Limbaugh was the least popular of the all the political figures the firm polled. He polls seven points lower than Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright and eight points below former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers.

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to preemptively answer any BAWWWing, Democracy Corps is a reliable pollster and dismissing them is like dismissing their results on the basis of who comissioned them Fox News polls for coming from a right wing source. (And the Daily Beast, which published this, is hardly a liberal website.)


Obama goes on offensive against obstinate Republicans

Obama challenged directly today (Feb. 4, 2009) GOP economic philosophy being used to derail economic stimulus:

Now, in the past few days, I’ve heard criticisms of this plan that echo the very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis: the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems, that we can ignore fundamental challenges like energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject that theory, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. So I urge members of Congress to act without delay. No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger. But let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. Let’s show people all over our country who are looking for leadership in this difficult time that we are equal to the task.


(And Paul Krugman approves! Indeed in a statement a couple of days ago, Paul Krugman noted that "Democrats believe in something more or less like standard textbook macroeconomics; Republicans believe in a doctrine under which tax cuts are the universal elixir, and government spending is almost always bad.")

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something!"

-- FDR, Great Depression
blog about this

(no subject)

AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image

NEW YORK – On buttons, posters and Web sites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: A pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los-Angeles based street artist, the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.

"The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

"AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

Fair use is a legal concept that allows exceptions to copyright law, based on, among other factors, how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for and how the original is affected by the new work.

A longtime rebel with a history of breaking rules, Fairey has said he found the photograph using Google Images. (LOL) He released the image on his Web site shortly after he created it, in early 2008, and made thousands of posters for the street.

As it caught on, supporters began downloading the image and distributing it at campaign events, while blogs and other Internet sites picked it up. Fairey has said that he did not receive any of the money raised.

A former Obama campaign official said they were well aware of the image based on the picture taken by Garcia, a temporary hire no longer with the AP, but never licensed it or used it officially. The Obama official asked not to be identified because no one was authorized anymore to speak on behalf of the campaign.

The image's fame did not end with the election.

It will be included this month at a Fairey exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and a mixed-media stenciled collage version has been added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

"The continued use of the poster, regardless of whether it is for galleries or other distribution, is part of the discussion AP is having with Mr. Fairey's representative," Colford said.

A New York Times book on the election, just published by Penguin Group (USA), includes the image. A Vermont-based publisher, Chelsea Green, also used it — credited solely to Fairey_ as the cover for Robert Kuttner's "Obama's Challenge," an economic manifesto released in September. Chelsea Green president Margo Baldwin said that Fairey did not ask for money, only that the publisher make a donation to the National Endowment for the Arts.

"It's a wonderful piece of art, but I wish he had been more careful about the licensing of it," said Baldwin, who added that Chelsea Green gave $2,500 to the NEA.

Fairey also used the AP photograph for an image designed specially for the Obama inaugural committee, which charged anywhere from $100 for a poster to $500 for a poster signed by the artist.

Fairey has said that he first designed the image a year ago after he was encouraged by the Obama campaign to come up with some kind of artwork. Last spring, he showed a letter to The Washington Post that came from the candidate.

"Dear Shepard," the letter reads. "I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can help change the status quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign."

At first, Obama's team just encouraged him to make an image, Fairey has said. But soon after he created it, a worker involved in the campaign asked if Fairey could make an image from a photo to which the campaign had rights.

"I donated an image to them, which they used. It was the one that said "Change" underneath it. And then later on I did another one that said "Vote" underneath it, that had Obama smiling," he said in a December 2008 interview with an underground photography Web site.


RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

Ricky Gervais pens an open letter to Obama

An open letter to Barack Obama.

Dear Mr President,

Firstly, congratulations on your historic win. I have never been so behind a candidate for what must be considered the boss of the world.

You seem to be a man of grace and integrity, who would never shirk responsibility in any way.

I'll get to the point.

As I'm sure you are aware, one of your flock has strayed. A Miss Paris Hilton, who is, I believe, a resident of Beverley Hills, is in England doing a reality game show for ITV2 called Paris Hilton's British Best Friend. Fine. I have no problem with that. I don't have to watch. But now it has come to my attention that she has bought a house in North London a few miles from me, and is out and about ingratiating herself with the Great British public.

Mr President. We are not stupid. This is clearly a retaliatory strike for Posh Spice moving to LA. I know it, and you know it, so let's cut the "it's a free country" nonsense and come to some agreement.

I propose an exchange.

This is how it would work. We call them both and tell them that we've found a giant "paparazzi nest", in New York say. (half way home for both of them already)

At first they may be confused that they'd never heard of such a thing before, but the thought of that many photographers in one place will be irresistible.

Once we get them there, while they are having their photos taken (we will have hire a few guys with cameras to make it look good) we will swap their limos around. It's fool proof.

This is a covert operation of which Mr Gordon Brown knows nothing. (I've got him working on finding a synthetic fur for The Queen's guards' bearskin hats.)

Have your people call my people. They may have to call a few times as my people are useless to be honest.

Thank you,

Ricky Gervais


Oh, and here is Gervais' reaction to the attention his open letter has gotten:

I got a call from one of my US agents saying that my letter to President Obama was read out on all the news programmes in the States today. Hilarious. They actually discussed it on CNN. Maybe I'll get a reply. You never know. After all, Gordon Brown wrote back.

It was even in the Washington post. And here.

I'd love to think that somewhere there is an adviser sitting with the President saying. "OK... so let me see if I've got this straight... 1. Withdraw from Iraq, 2. Sort out education in the poorest communities and 3. Swap Posh for Hilton."

SEC Evasion On Madoff Infuriates Lawmakers

SEC Evasion On Madoff Infuriates Lawmakers

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) just concluded a withering attack on the SEC officials testifying before the House Financial Services committee on why the SEC failed to catch alleged $50 billion Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

“The economy is in crisis,” Ackerman said. “We thought the enemy was Mr. Madoff. I think it’s you,” Ackerman said to SEC general counsel Andrew Vollmer.

“Your value to us is useless,” Ackerman said. “Your value to the American people is worthless, your contribution to this proceeding is zero.”

Ackerman and other lawmakers are angry that the SEC officials testifying before them are citing a form of executive privilege to avoid answering all the questions they’re being asked. SEC enforcement director Linda Thomsen said she can’t answer some questions on Madoff because other agencies and enforcement officials have investigations underway.

“Don’t you dare tell anyone that you testified before Congress,” Ackerman screamed at Thomsen. “You’re talking to yourself.”

Ackerman then employed a colorful metaphor to describe how the SEC responded, or did not, to investment-fund manager Harry Markopolos’s investigation of Madoff years ago. Markopolos was the committee's star witness earlier today.

“One guy with a few friends and helpers discovered this thing nearly a decade ago,” Ackerman said. “He led you to this pile of dung that this Bernie Madoff was and stuck your nose in it and you couldn’t figure it out. You couldn’t find your backside with two hands with the lights on.”

Ackerman was just getting warmed up.
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(no subject)

Firm tied to salmonella ran unlicensed Texas plant
By BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE, Associated Press Writer Brett J. Blackledge, Associated Press Writer – Tue Feb 3

WASHINGTON – A peanut processing plant in Texas run by the same company blamed for a national salmonella outbreak operated for years uninspected and unlicensed by government health officials, The Associated Press has learned. The Peanut Corp. of America plant in Plainview was never inspected until after the company fell under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration, according to Texas health records obtained by AP.

Once inspectors learned about the Texas plant, they found no sign of salmonella there. But new details about that plant — including how it could have operated unlicensed for nearly four years — raised questions about the adequacy of government efforts to keep the nation's food supply safe. Texas is among states where the FDA relies on state inspectors to oversee food safety.

The problem is "not a completely uncommon occurrence," said Cornell University food science professor Joseph Hotchkiss.

The salmonella outbreak was traced to the company's sister plant in Blakely, Ga., where inspectors found roaches, mold, a leaking roof and internal records of more than a dozen positive tests for salmonella.

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Source is Yahoo News

In another source they mention DeLauro wants to move food inspection to Health and Human Services. Article really shows a failing of the FDA.

NYC: Oscar Wilde Bookshop to Close

Sad news. The nation's oldest gay bookstore, the West Village's Oscar Wilde Bookshop, will close on March 29th due to the "current economic crisis."
The store was opened in 1967 on Mercer Street by Craig L. Rodwell, who was influential in the gay rights movement. It later moved to 15 Christopher Street. Mr. Rodwell, who inspired similar owners of gay bookshops around the country, and who helped organize the city’s first gay pride parade in 1970, died of stomach cancer in 1993.

Then, a store manager, Bill Offenbaker, bought the store. A third owner, Larry Lingle, bought the store in 1996. In 2003, after Mr. Lingle said he could no longer afford to keep the store open, Deacon Maccubbin, the owner of Lambda Rising Bookstores in Washington, agreed to buy the store and keep it afloat. Then, in 2006, Kim Brinster, the store’s manager since 1996, became the store’s fifth owner. The bookstore, which currently occupies a storefront not much bigger than a typical Manhattan studio apartment, became a landmark institution for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
The owner of Oscar Wilde says her landlord has been wonderful and that she was actually renting the space at below market value. So, at least this time, it's not the typical "money-grubbing landlord" situation so famous in NYC.

I'll admit that my own patronage of Oscar Wilde declined greatly once publicists started sending new releases to this here website thingy. But I still poked my head in anytime I went by because it's such a cute little store with a very knowledgeable staff.

RELATED: Oscar Wilde Bookshop's founder, Craig Rodwell, was once the boyfriend of Harvey Milk and is credited with helping spur Milk's interest in gay activism.

UPDATE: The NY Examiner provides a look at the independent bookstores of the Village and SoHo.

Women say San Antonio cops arrested them for kissing

SAN ANTONIO — Jessica Garcia intends to prove in court that security officers at Rolling Oaks Mall unfairly targeted her and her girlfriend when they were arrested in December on trespassing and other charges.

Garcia said the officers — a Bexar County sheriff's deputy and an employee from a private security company — began harassing them Dec. 26 because her girlfriend gave her a kiss on the cheek while sitting inside the mall on a bench.


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Details Emerge in Gay Bashing Death of Liverpool's Michael Causer

As a court case against 19-year-old Brit Gavin Alker progresses, disturbing details are emerging about the gay bashing death of Liverpool teen Michael Causer, who survived for eight days in the hospital with a swollen brain following an attack by three other youths.

That swelling was apparently the result of blunt, brutal strikes with a hardback book as he slept.

Causer_2Alker, along with 19-year-old James O'Connor, are accused of the murder, which occurred at Causer's "friend" Michael Binsteed's grandmother's home, and not by a gang of youths in the street, as they had once reported. Causer was upset about the end of a recent relationship and had been out with his "friend" Binsteed and others drinking, and had fallen asleep in an upstairs bedroom. Binsteed has been charged with perverting the course of justice.

The Liverpool Echo relays the gruesome details:

"As he slept, Alker arrived at the house. It is alleged he was laughing with Binsteed about Mr Causer being gay. Mr Pratt told jurors Alker and O’Connor went up the bedroom where they launched a 'sustained and brutal attack' on naked Mr Causer, causing numerous facial fractures and swelling to the brain. He said: 'He was punched and kicked and Alker struck him in the face and head with a hardback book. As he attacked him, Alker was saying things like: 'You little queer faggot'.' After the attack, it is alleged Alker said: 'He’s a little queer, he deserves it.' At about 9am it is alleged the men dressed Mr Causer and carried him downstairs to the floor of conservatory, where he slept again. Jurors heard Alker showed no remorse, even using a cigarette lighter to burn his leg hairs and threatening to rip Mr Causer’s body piercings out with a knife. It is alleged a plot was hatched and the men decided to carry Mr Causer out to the street. He was bleeding heavily from his nose and mouth and the emergency services were called. Binsteed and O’Connor later told paramedics their friend had been attacked by unknown men in the street. In interview, Alker later admitted punching Mr Causer twice, but said it had been in self-defence. He denied shouting any homophobic abuse. Binsteed, 18, of Evelyn Avenue, Prescot, has admitted perverting the course of justice. O’Connor, 19, formerly of Huyton, now of The Clough, The Brown, Runcorn, has already pleaded guilty to murder."



Teens seeking to ban TLC Show 'Toddlers & Tiaras'

Student sees red over tiny girls dancing in bikinis

St. Catharines teen starts Facebook group to have the program Toddlers and Tiaras removed

February 4, 2009

As though the hair extensions, fake eyelashes and skimpy bikinis weren't enough, hip-grinding dance moves were the final straw for 17-year-old Karrin Huynh. But she wasn't the one being asked to preen, dance and smile for the cameras: It was a four-year-old girl on the cable television show Toddlers and Tiaras.

Ms. Huynh, a Grade 12 student at Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catharines, was so disgusted by the show that she started a Facebook group to get the show off the air. Barely a month later, the group has more than 600 members in Canada and the United States.

"It's The Learning Channel, and it's a family channel, so you have little kids watching this show and seeing these living dolls being paraded on stage," she said. "And society wonders why girls have low self-esteem and low self-confidence when they're sitting at home wondering, 'Is this what I'm supposed to look like? Is this what I'm supposed to be?' "

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Source: Globe and Mail

More articles * facebook group:
Another article in the St. Catharines Standard

Facebook Group

There are currently over 700 members in the facebook group.

Rainbow Flag Lowered At London Police Station

Last week, in a show of support for its gay and lesbian officers, the North Wales Police raised a rainbow flag to mark a series of internal staff activities aimed at celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual History Month.

Londonflag_2Said Wales Assistant Chief Constable Ian Shannon: "Sexuality is a highly emotive and personal matter and I have great respect for those involved with The Gay Police Association who, over the years, have worked selflessly to promote equality within our organisation. I am immensely proud to support our gay officers and staff and I hope that this event sends out a clear message as we continue to strive for inclusivity and equality."

The East London Metropolitan police station made a similar move, but it outraged Sir Paul Stephenson (right), the new Met commissioner, who demanded the flag be taken down.

"Critics believe the London flag row is a legacy of Sir Ian Blair's stint as Met chief, when he was often accused of being obsessed with political correctness. At one stage he asked officers to declare whether they were homosexual - a first step to quotas for numbers of gay and lesbian officers in the Met. And officers at an exam for prospective chief superintendents were once asked how they would react if they realised a male colleague was a transvestite after seeing him dressed as a woman in a pub. Sir Paul, keen to portray himself as a more traditional leader, has said he has no intention of being a 'celebrity' commissioner and his main focus is to fight crime and not bow to a PC agenda."


Obama unveils executive pay cap

US President Barack Obama has announced a $500,000 (£355,000) limit on executive pay at US firms that need substantial fresh government aid.

The move follows widespread public anger over the levels of pay on Wall Street, but is not expected to be applied retrospectively.

President Obama said it was "shameful" that top bankers had awarded themselves giant bonuses last year.

He added that taxpayers should not be "subsidizing excessive compensation".

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God, he is such a BAMF; ilh!