July 7th, 2009

The Doctor 3D look up

Medvedev and Obama: Sunshine in the Moscow Drizzle

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By Michael Scherer / Moscow
Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev, Presidents of the former Cold War rival empires, greeted each other like old friends on Monday, with a cheery chat about the clouds. "Even the weather favors such an intercourse between us," the Russian leader said in a Kremlin sitting room, striking an optimistic tone on a drizzly day. Obama played along. "We might as well be inside today," he said.

Thus the pattern of U.S.-Russian relations all year: each new obstacle is presented as yet another opportunity to forge common ground. Historically intractable conflicts are little more than worthy challenges; a rainstorm is another reason to smile. Following decades of antagonism during the Cold War and its aftermath, Obama and Medvedev have staked substantial political capital on their ability to repair relations between Washington and Moscow and move beyond past battles. Obama talks about hitting a "reset" button in U.S.-Russian relations; his Russian counterpart seeks a level of cooperation "realistically worthy of the 21st century."
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Income Based Repayment plans for college started July 1

This post by jwaneeta reminded me of something I don't know if many of you are aware of: The Income-Based Repayment plan for FEDERAL student loans that started on July 1.

If you have an outstanding FEDERAL student loan, you can begin making repayments based on the chart below. The chart as well as an income based repayment calculator is HERE:


I have several federal student loans that are being serviced by private financial institutions (talk about confusing) but I called the private financial institutions up, asked to enroll in their "Income Based Repayment plan," and that was it. It's kinda sorta like sliding scale repayment. WashPo info below.

Nation Digest

Monday, June 29, 2009


Some Relief On Student Loans

Repaying a student loan could soon be a little less painful.

Starting this week, anyone with a federal student loan can apply for a new Education Department program, which caps monthly payments based on income and which forgives remaining balances after 25 years. Those agreeing to public service work could have loans forgiven after 10 years.

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(no subject)

Armed mobs spread ethnic strife in China's west

China unrest resumes In this photo taken on Sunday, July 5, 2009, and released by the Xinjiang

By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer William Foreman, Associated Press Writer

URUMQI, China – Mobs of Han Chinese wielding meat cleavers and clubs and groups of Muslim Uighur men beat people in the streets of the capital of China's Xinjiang region Tuesday. The government imposed a curfew as it tried to stem communal violence after a riot that killed at least 156 people.

Members of the Muslim Uighur ethnic group attacked people near the Urumqi's railway station, and women in headscarves protested the arrests of husbands and sons in another part of the city. Meanwhile, for much of the afternoon, a mob of 1,000 mostly young Han Chinese holding clubs and chanting "Defend the Country" tore through streets trying to get to a Uighur neighborhood until they were repulsed by police firing tear gas.

Panic and anger bubbled up amid the suspicion in Urumqi (pronounced uh-ROOM-chee). In some neighborhoods, Han Chinese — China's majority ethnic group — armed themselves with pieces of lumber and shovels to defend themselves. People bought up bottled water out of fear, as one resident said, that "the Uighurs might poison the water."

The outbursts happened despite swarms of paramilitary and riot police enforcing a dragnet that state media said led to the arrest more than 1,400 participants in Sunday's riot, the worst ethnic violence in the often tense region in decades.

Trying to control the message, the government has slowed mobile phone and Internet services, blocked Twitter — whose servers are overseas — and censored Chinese social networking and news sites and accused Uighurs living in exile of inciting Sunday's riot. State media coverage, however, carried graphic footage and pictures of the unrest _showing mainly Han Chinese victims and stoking the anger.

The violence is a further embarrassment for a Chinese leadership preparing for the 60th anniversary of communist rule in October and calling for the creation of a "harmonious society" to celebrate. Years of rapid development have failed to smooth over the ethnic fault lines in Xinjiang, where the Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) have watched growing numbers of Han Chinese move in.

Wang Lequan, Xinjiang's Communist Party secretary, declared a curfew in all but name, imposing traffic restrictions and ordering people off the streets from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Wednesday "to avoid further chaos."

"It is needed for the overall situation. I hope people pay great attention and act immediately," he said in an announcement broadcast on Xinjiang television.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang blamed the violence on Rebiya Kadeer, the U.S.-exiled Uighur leader.

"Using violence, making rumors, and distorting facts are what cowards do because they are afraid to see social stability and ethnic solidarity in Xinjiang," he told a regular news conference.

Qin said Kadeer was behind the violence, adding "she has committed crimes that jeopardize national security." Evidence had been found against her, Qin said, but refused to give details.

Sunday's riot started as a peaceful demonstration by Uighurs over a deadly fight at a factory in eastern China between Han Chinese and Uighur workers. It then spiraled out of control, as mainly Uighur groups beat people and set fire to vehicles and shops belonging to Han Chinese.


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Boehner backpedals on stimulus comments

Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Joan Mazzolini
Plain Dealer Reporter

When U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner told a newscaster Sunday that not a single stimulus-funded road contract in his home state of Ohio had been let, he was wrong.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has OK'd 52 stimulus-funded road and bridge projects at a cost of nearly $84 million.

Boehner told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that in "Ohio, the infrastructure dollars that were sent there months ago," as part of the economic recovery package, "there hasn't been a contract let, to my knowledge."

Karl Frisch, senior fellow for Media Matters, a media watchdog group that monitors news reports, said it seemed that Boehner, a Republican from West Chester in southwestern Ohio, might want to be more aware of what's going on in his home state.

Frisch said he also wanted Wallace to have some basic facts on the stimulus spending in Ohio if he's going to interview Boehner on the topic.

"This is something pretty basic," said Frisch. "If you're going to interview someone on stimulus funding, you should know something about it." Media Matters, a nonprofit "progressive research and information center," monitors daily newspapers, Sunday news talk shows, and other media outlets looking for and correcting conservative misinformation.

The aim is to put the spotlight on the media to stop politicians from "twisting the facts to serve their own talking points," Frisch said.

Boehner issued a clarification Monday.

"The entire process has been absurdly slow moving just as Republicans warned it would be when we called for an economic recovery bill based on fast-acting tax relief for small businesses and working families," Boehner said in a statement.

Boehner also claimed that Ohio is one of the last states to let stimulus construction projects, "which is ridiculous." Wallace did not respond to an e-mail.

ODOT spokesman Scott Varner called Boehner's statement "disappointing."

Varner noted that ODOT had just OK'd six more stimulus road projects, which will cost about $43 million.


What. A. Tool.  Yeah, maybe checking with your own State DOT first before making sweeping statements like that might actually be worthwhile......just sayin'.

Can we start having a basic IQ test for candidates who want to run for higher office?  It really might stave off a great deal of the stupid.

White House Open to Deal on Public Health Plan

WASHINGTON -- It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

"The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest," he said in an interview. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is" negotiable.

His comments came as the Senate Finance Committee pushed for a bipartisan deal. To help pay for the package, the committee planned to announce an agreement Wednesday with hospitals and the White House for $155 billion over a decade in reductions to Medicare and charity-care payments for hospitals, according to a person familiar with the agreement. That will help pay for the legislation, expected to cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years.

One of the most contentious issues is whether to create a public health-insurance plan to compete with private companies.

Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet President Barack Obama's goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.

Mr. Obama has pushed hard for a vigorous public option. But he has also said he won't draw a "line in the sand" over this point.

The deal with the hospitals follows a similar agreement with brand-name drug companies. And insurance companies were talking to Senate negotiators about cuts worth at least $100 billion over 10 years, according to two officials with knowledge of the negotiations.

Congressional negotiators and the White House hope to lock in support from the industry groups, which are backing a health bill in general terms but have opposed past efforts.

Hospitals and insurers hope to gain some degree of control over cuts to their federal payments. In principle, a health-care overhaul could benefit both groups by raising the number of Americans who buy and have health insurance.

"They've made an assessment reform is going to happen, so it's better to be part of that than not," Mr. Emanuel said.

However, insurers, and most Republicans, strongly oppose creation of a government-run insurance option, saying it would ultimately drive them out of business. Most Democrats support a public option.

The president and his aides already have signaled a willingness to consider an alternative to a public plan under which a network of nonprofit cooperatives would compete with for-profit insurance companies. That is the leading idea in the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, meanwhile, has put forward its own version of a government-run plan, closer to what most liberals and the White House favor.

On Monday, Mr. Emanuel said the trigger mechanism would also accomplish the White House's goals. Under this scenario, a public plan would kick in under certain circumstances when competition was judged to be lacking. Exactly what circumstances would trigger the option would have to be worked out.

Some Democrats pushing for a vigorous public plan say the trigger idea isn't good enough. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in an interview, "If it's not there on day one, those of us who support a public option have a real problem with it."




(AP) ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Sarah Palin says she's not a quitter, she's a fighter, but adds that, politically speaking, "if I die, I die. So be it."

The Alaska governor spoke in taped interviews on ABC, NBC and CNN broadcast Tuesday morning.

She told CNN that "all options are on the table" for her future.

But told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she recognizes she might not have political staying power after her surprise resignation Friday, which came just as she had been expected to elevate her national profile ahead of a possible 2012 GOP presidential run.

"I said before ... 'You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it,'" she said.

Collapse )"The critics want to put you on a course of personal bankruptcy, so you can't afford to serve," she said, calling the attacks "bull crap."


Just for LULZ, you really should go to the source page and watch the embedded video. It looks an awful lot like she figures she's already finished her term as Governor, seeing as she's OUT FISHING! Just thinking that maybe she should have turned the office over to Parnell right there at the press conference for all of the actual work she won't be doing over the next few weeks.

"I'm going to keep working hard for Alaska, I'm going to be there for Sean Parnell when he needs me and if the staff and lawmakers, certainly any member of the public needs me, I'm going to do all I can for this state," she said. "

Well, by all accounts, that will certainly be a change for the better, seeing as she hasn't exactly been available or visible to her staff or lawmakers for most of her now-truncated governorship.
NCIS - Gibbs &amp; Kate &amp; Tony

Dear Joe Biden: Please Stay On Script. Love and Kisses, Barack.

Obama Responds To Biden On Economy: "We Had Incomplete Information"

(video at source)

In a pair of separate interviews, President Obama defended his administration's response to the economic crisis in the wake of Vice President Joe Biden's remark Sunday that "we misread how bad the economy was."
"I would actually -- rather than say misread, we had incomplete information," President Obama told NBC News' Chuck Todd. "What we always knew was that a) this recession was gonna be deep, and b) it was gonna last for a while."

"There's nothing that we would have done differently," Obama added in an interview with ABC News. "We needed a stimulus and we needed a substantial stimulus."

In response to critics -- including retired Gen. Colin Powel and Warren Buffet -- who have publicly worried about the deficit, Obama said there were "legitimate concerns. In the midterm and long term we're going to have to get control of that."

"The question that some have argued is, 'Okay, what next?' Maybe you stop the freefall but you still have close to 10% unemployment,'" the president said. "And you know, this is something that we wrestle with constantly ... [W]e inherited a big deficit, and it is at a certain point potentially counterproductive if we're spending more money than we're having to borrow."



Mine safety advocates praise Obama's choice to lead agency

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's choice to head the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration signals a dramatic shift from his predecessor on mine safety issues.

The selection of Joseph Main, the retired longtime safety and health administrator for the United Mine Workers of America to head MSHA, drew praise from safety advocates and criticism from the coal industry.

"I don't think Obama could have chosen anyone better for the job," said Tony Oppegard, a Lexington, Ky., lawyer and mine-safety advocate. "Joe has done more for mine safety in the U.S. than anyone in the past 25 to 30 years."

Oppegard said Main's nomination "signals a change of direction in terms of mine safety in this country. It's a 180 degree shift from the policies of the Bush administration and its favoring of coal industry executives."

Indeed, coal industry executives were disappointed on Monday.

"It's going to be frustrating having somebody with an agenda that is pro-union," said Bill Caylor, the president of the Kentucky Coal Association. "We're not looking forward to it."

Main, a Pennsylvania native who now lives in Spotsylvania, Va., began working in coal mines in 1967 and quickly became an advocate for miners' safety as a union safety committeeman. He served in various local union positions in the United Mine Workers of America.

Main is now a mine safety consultant.

Obama also appointed Joseph Pizarchik on Monday to oversee the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Lexington lawyer Joe Childers also had been under consideration to lead the office.

Pizarchik is director of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Mining and Reclamation.

Groups that oppose mountaintop removal mining, which involves blasting the tops off mountains to reveal the underlying coal seams, worry that as a career government bureaucrat, Pizarchik might not push for an outright ban on the practice.


While this is apparently sexy as hell, No, it's not sexy, and with any luck we'll likely not hear much about them again.....mainly because being safer means we don't then have epicly disastrous mine collapses with dozens of miners trapped for days while we try to figure out how to feed them oxygen through a damn tube.

ETA: Okay, I stand corrected.  I had thought I was one of the few people who actually thought this worthy of note and commentary....I'm glad to be wrong!  :)

A diagram of Sarah Palin's 8 minute long basketball resignation metaphor

Diagramming Sarah Palin's "Full-Court Press" Metaphor
By Tommy Craggs, 2:00 PM on Mon Jul 6 2009

Last Friday, Sarah Palin shrugged into her respectable Republican cloth coat and announced she was resigning from office. Along the way, she dropped a somewhat baffling basketball analogy, which we've helpfully diagrammed for you below, just as Palin described it.

First, here's the metaphor, from the text of her resignation speech:

Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me - sports... basketball. I use it because you're naïve if you don't see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN. And I'm doing that - keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities - smaller government, energy independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it's time to pass the ball - for victory.

All of which would look something like this:



Akuma River

Iran Update July 7th

I'm just going to put the new important stuff and come back with the article section... So I guess this is a live post?

First off, Strike is in progress but because of the sandstorm the city is in lockdown. Supposedly to prevent a March on 18 of Tir (July 9th).

Also, Ahmedi is supposed to be giving a press conference tonight in Iran...so right now?

From Nico
1:15 PM ET -- A message from NIAC. The National Iranian American Council has been a crucial source for news and thoughtful analysis on the uprising. They've got a requestion for readers:

NIAC is surveying Iranian Americans as well as the broader American public to get a better understanding on where people stand on the Iran issue in the aftermath of the elections.

We are encouraging non-NIAC members to participate as well, with the understanding that membership views will naturally take precedent in influencing how the organization moves forward. We highly encourage non-members to join and become part of the dialogue by visiting this site.

Click here for the survey.

Strike is in progress and Thursday there will be a march(es).
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Sarah Palin will start New Imaginative Department of Law with Unicorns and Sparkles!

Palin: "Department Of Law" Protects The President

Sarah Palin and her defenders have cited numerous ethics complaints against the Alaska governor as a practical reason for her resignation. Fighting the claims, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News Monday, was immobilizing her: "I'm not going to let Alaskans go through a year of stymied, paralyzed administration and not getting anything done."

Naturally, skeptical observers have wondered how Palin would handle being president if some ethics complaints are enough to make her unable to run a state. Palin's answer: if she was president, the Department of Law would protect her.

Palin said there is a difference between the White House and what she has experienced in Alaska. If she were in the White House the "department of law" would protect her from baseless ethical allegations.

"I think on a national level your department of law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we've been charged with and automatically throw them out," she said.

There is no Department of Law.


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Franken takes oath, gets plum committee spots

As Washington ponders Al Franken's role as comedian or statesman, the Senate's newest member revealed another side of his persona today: He's a hugger.

Moments after Franken was sworn in as Minnesota's Democratic junior senator, he gave a big bear hug to Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry (himself not much of a public hugger), followed by hearty embraces of Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar, who has been carrying the load for Minnesota alone during the six months of fighting over the seat.

Franken was declared the winner by the Minnesota Supreme Court last week, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman conceded, and Franken formally took the oath of office this afternoon.

As fans in the visitors' gallery cheered, Franken pumped his fist in victory, still holding the Bible he used for his swearing-in.

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My favorite parts were:

- Amy Klobuchar talking about how everyone she met when she first came to the Capitol would say "Minnesota, that's where Paul Wellstone was from" because they liked him so much. Even the people who worked on the trains and the cops and stuff. *blub*

- Amy talking about Frannie Franken having a bag packed by her bedside so she and Al could rush to Washington as soon as he was sworn in.

- Franken being sworn in on Wellstone's Bible. *double blub*

- The standing ovation when Franken's sworn in, even from the Republicans!


ETA: A touch of fail to go with the awesomeness: GOP Distorts Franken’s Tribute to Paul Wellstone, Again. "uring the 2008 Senate campaign, Al Franken would often tell a story about Paul Wellstone — who was five-foot-five and perpetually wired — egging on his son to finish a race" ... "Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) repeatedly used the video in ads to make Franken look like a madman." ... "Today, the National Republican Senatorial Committee put out a web video informing voters that, with Franken’s arrival in the Senate, the Democrats have total control of Washington. The video they use of Franken? Multiple clips of him telling the Wellstone story, selectively edited to make him look like Lenin."

They then responded to critics by sending out a Photoshopped picture of Al Franken doing a David Vitter impression in diapers. Mature, guys. Real mature.


President Tries To Put Out Fire From Emanuel's Health Care Remarks

In an effort that seemed designed to appease concerned progressive advocates, President Barack Obama issued a clarifying statement about the administration's commitment to a "public option" for health insurance while traveling in Russia on Tuesday.

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest," read the statement. "I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

The vague reassurance came hours after Obama's own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel suggested that the White House would be comfortable with legislation that had a public plan "triggered" in only by worsening economic conditions.

"The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest," Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is" negotiable.

It was, White House aides insist, far from a commitment to a trigger option. But the remarks nevertheless presented a compromise too big for many Democrats to swallow. "It is actually the most ludicrous of the compromises on the table," explained one activist. "It says we should wait until the health care crisis gets worse before it gets better."

In the hours after Emanuel made those remarks, the White House clearly sensed concern bubbling. Moving with haste, aides put out a statement from the president before any major firestorm erupted.

"I think it's more of a 'progressive groups don't freak the f*** out' statement," said one health care strategist.

In private, white House officials are concerned that the debate over a public option has become so volatile that it could end up derailing the entire health care package. The president has remained loyal to such a plan, but has not demanded the same from Congress. The real sticking point in the health care reform debate will come once the Finance Committee releases its bill -- which likely won't include a public option -- and is forced to merge its final language with that of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

That should happen relatively soon. Lines are already being drawn in the sand. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), said the trigger option was unlikely to get the type of support it needs from Democrats to pass through the Senate.

"My bottom-line criteria is that it has to be strong, national, and available to everyone on day one, to keep the insurance companies honest and I'm not sure we can get there," he said. "I've been talking to [Sen.] Olympia [Snowe] about this," he added, referring to the trigger option's main champion in the Senate, "but I'm not sure we can bridge that gap."

Outside government, activists seconded Schumer's statement, adding that if any compromise were to make it through Congress, it would be for a co-op plan that had robust purchasing and negotiating power.

"I think there could be some push for a co-op plan if it was national," said the strategist. "I'm not sure state-by-state will fly by itself."



Whats Bobby Jindal doing now? His job, unlike someone from Alaska

Searching for Bobby Jindal

MEANWHILE, whatever happened to Bobby Jindal? At one point he was the great hope of the GOP and now we hardly hear a word about him. The change dates to February 24th, 2009, when, anointed by his party, he gave a goofy speech in response to Barack Obama's first address to Congress. He was slammed by press and public alike and seemed to disappear overnight.

There are two explanations. The first is that Mr Jindal's big speech was so bad that it ruined his national profile and scuttled his presidential aspirations. Now he's back in no-man's land, just governing Louisiana. The second is that Mr Jindal dropped off the national chatter screen simply because he had turned his attention to Louisiana's tough legislative session, which ran from April 27th to June 25th this year.
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Wall Street Fights Back Against Curbs On Oil Speculation

CFTC Floats Rules Aimed at Speculation

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will consider new measures to curb speculation in the markets for energy and other commodities, the agency is set to announce today.

The move aims to reduce the volatility of prices but faces resistance from top Wall Street firms, which fear the efforts could cut into profits. Regulators and lawmakers increasingly worry that these firms have used their size and power to inflate the prices of commodities, booking profits in the process.

Concern over such deal-making reached a fever pitch last summer, when oil prices were sky high and people were feeling pain at the gas pump. CFTC data showed last year that a significant amount of trading in oil was concentrated in the hands of just a few speculators. These worries have waned since then, as gas prices have moderated from last year's highs, though a recent run-up in fuel prices may prompt new questions.

But a report last month by a Senate investigative committee warned that firms manipulated the price of wheat, causing farmers and consumers to pay much higher prices.
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Your daily dose of Michael Jackson drama

Michael Jackson's Memorial Service Costing Los Angeles

I have an idea. Let's take a city that already has a deep deficit and have them spend $2.5 million on the memorial of a late pop singer! Sound like a plan? It sounds ridiculous you say? Well, it can't be that ridiculous because that is exactly what is happening to the city of Los Angeles tomorrow when the Michael Jackson memorial and its performers hit the Staples Center.

E! online reports that not only is it going to cost L.A. money, but the Jackson family and promoter AEG will be making money off of the memorial. There will be 11,000 fans at the Staples Center today, but there are another 9,000 private guests of the Jackson family. So if you think about, the Jackson's are making L.A. their bitch tomorrow. Wait, didn't the Jackson family already have a memorial with private guests?

L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine tells E! that AEG has declined to pay for some of the public costs of the event tomorrow.
This public city effort includes at 1,400 police officers, the Department of Transportation to work the streets, the Department of Public Works to keep everything clean, and fire and rescue specialists in case something goes wrong. That, my friends, is what $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars is going towards.

Listen, I'm just as ready to have a big huge memorial service for Michael Jackson as the next guy, but I don't have that kind of money to be giving to L.A. And whatever money I do have, I want it to at least maybe try to be used in a better way. I mean, look at the amount of cops needed in those pictures. And all those streets that are closed, seriously? Trust me, I visited the Jackson family home and the amount of police and L.A. county officials there was ridiculous.

Ahh, who am I kidding. This is L.A. This is probably the best way the money has ever been used.


Official: LA detective from King trial kills self

LOS ANGELES – A veteran Los Angeles police detective who testified at the Rodney King trial killed herself after walking into the lobby of a suburban sheriff's station, authorities said Tuesday.

Susan Clemmer, 41, was a gang narcotics officer who worked for the department for nearly 20 years, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. She was unmarried.

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Banks Planning "Harry and Louise" Ads. Because we love them so much.

Groups Mull 'Harry And Louise' Ads To Sink Consumer Agency

Financial industry and other business groups are considering running "Harry and Louise"-style ads to sway public opinion against the Obama administration's proposed Consumer Financial Products Agency.

The original Harry and Louise television spot, financed by the insurance industry, helped defeat the Clinton health plan in the early 1990s. In the commercial, a middle-class married couple laments they are worse off under the new health-care regime, describing it as a bureaucratic nightmare.
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Florida aided Allen Stanford, suspect in huge swindle. Dont worry the market will regulate itself...

Florida aided Allen Stanford, suspect in huge swindle
Florida regulators -- over objections by the state's top banking lawyer -- gave sweeping powers to banker Allen Stanford, accused of swindling investors of $7 billion.

Years before his banking empire was shut down in a massive fraud case, Allen Stanford swept into Florida with a bold plan: entice Latin Americans to pour millions into his ventures -- in secrecy.

From a bayfront office in Miami in 1998, he planned to sell investments to customers and send their money to Antigua.

But to pull it off, he needed unprecedented help from an unlikely ally: The state of Florida would have to grant him the right to move vast amounts of money offshore -- without reporting a penny to regulators.

He got it.

Over objections by the state's chief banking lawyer -- including concerns that Stanford was laundering money -- regulators granted sweeping powers never given to a private company.

The new company was also allowed to sell hundreds of millions in bank notes without allowing regulators to check for fraud.

Over the next decade, the Miami office was among Stanford's busiest in the sale of controversial investments now at the heart of the federal government's sweeping fraud case against Stanford and his lieutenants.

''There was no lawful way that office should have been opened,'' said Richard Donelan, the state's chief banking counsel who opposed the deal.

Donelan said he argued that the Stanford plan violated state law, and that there were concerns about money laundering in the Caribbean and ``whether Stanford's bank was in conformance with the law.''

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ESOTSM - Couch

Who needs books in a library when you've got guns?

Saddam Hussein's gun to go on display at Bush library

Deposed Iraqi leader was armed with the pistol when Delta Force troops captured him in 2003

George Bush is not a man who does irony. It's not in his personal vocabulary. Take the exquisite irony behind the story of Saddam Hussein's gun.

The weapon, a 9mm Glock 18C, was discovered by Delta Force special troops when they dug Hussein out of his fox hole outside Tikrit on 13 December 2003. The legendary beast of Baghdad emerged from the 8ft-deep hole bewildered and disorientated; with his shaggy beard and unkempt mop of hair he looked closer to a dishevelled elf than one of the world's great dictators.

The Iraq war at that point was still in its infancy, Bush was feeling buoyant. In his eyes the pistol represented a fundamental triumph of good over evil.

After four Delta Force soldiers presented Bush with the pistol, mounted in a glass case, it became one of his most prized possessions. He would show it off in the Oval Office to visiting military dignitaries, with the boast "The Delta guys pulled it off Saddam".

Now the New York Times has discovered that he intends to make it a centrepiece of his presidential library that is being built, at a cost of $200m (£123m), on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Though the gun belongs to the US national archives, associates told the Times that he intends prominently to display it there. The library is to be organised thematically around 25 key decisions taken by Bush during his eight years in the White House.

Mark Langdale, the president of the foundation that is being set up in Bush's name, told the paper that "the gun is an interesting artefact, and it tells you that the United States captured Saddam Huseein and disarmed him literally. How we fit that into the decision to go to war, we haven't gotten to that point yet."

One can empathise with Langdale's difficulty. How indeed does the pistol fit with the decision to go to war?

Which is where irony, or the former president's lack of it, kicks in. Hussein was found with the pistol as he crouched on all fours in his cave. But he offered no resistance to the Delta Forces and when they came to confiscate his gun they found that it was unloaded. It is safe to assume that the Bush library will not labour that point when it opens in 2013.


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Gay Marriage Bill Takes Effect In Nation's Capital

WASHINGTON — A law recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries went into effect Tuesday in the nation's capital, and a D.C. councilman said he plans to follow up with a measure that would allow gay marriage ceremonies in the district.

The bill was approved in a 12-1 vote by the D.C. Council in May. Congress, which has the final say over the city's laws, had 30 days to review the legislation. Since it took no action, the bill automatically became law.
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Georgia Nicolson - Jesus loves drag ;D

Obama just isn't hatin the gays enough :(

Star Parker: When color trumps Christianity

Star Parker
Monday, July 6, 2009

President Obama hosted a reception at the White House celebrating LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride month. Black Christians should take note and learn a few things about our black President.

As they say, we are what we do.

It tells us something that Mr. Obama had no time to host an event for the National Day of Prayer.

Nor did he have time to accept the invitation to convey greetings and a few remarks to the couple hundred thousand who came to Washington, as they do every January, for the March for Life.

However, the LGBT Pride event did make it onto the president’s busy schedule.

Here are parts of his remarks I think noteworthy for black Christians:

First, we now know that Mr. Obama buys into reasoning equating the homosexual political movement to the black civil rights movement: “....it’s not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.”

Perhaps Obama can extend some of his famous empathy to a black Christian woman, Crystal Dixon, who lost her University of Toledo job for writing a column in her local paper challenging this premise. Dixon was fired for being uppity enough to write “....I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims’ ...I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman.”

Considering our president’s priorities, I recall a song popular during the civil rights movement: “Which Side Are You On?”

Second, Obama sees the black community as being a little slow on the uptake to grasp that homosexuality and same sex marriage are okay. There still are those, according to him, “who don’t yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters...” He deals with this, he said, by talking about it in front of “unlikely audiences,” such as, “in front of African American church members.”

Maybe a lot of us black folks, still readin’ our Bibles, just haven’t had enough of that Harvard learnin’.

And, third, Obama talked about HIV/AIDS but didn’t bother to mention that it’s overwhelmingly blacks that this scourge is killing.

Why would our black president discuss HIV/AIDS and not mention that although blacks represent 12 percent of our population, they account for 50 percent of HIV/AIDS cases and half of HIV related deaths? Or that the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection per every 100,000 people is nine times higher among blacks than whites?

Of course, it would have been bad form for Obama to sour the punch bowl at the LBGT Pride month festivities by mentioning the disproportionate toll this lifestyle takes on blacks.

Blacks, of course, made the difference in getting Proposition 8 passed in California, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. They then switched over and voted for Obama. [WRONG WRONG WRONG!]

Obama has said he opposes same sex marriage. Can this really be so? He said at the White House event that he’s called for Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA is the main obstacle to nationalizing legalization of same sex marriage.

Black Christians have a lot of soul searching to do. We know the pain of black history. But we also must retain clarity that these many injustices were the result of race and color trumping Christian principles.

How can black Christians do this themselves? How can black Christians allow race and color to trump Christian principles in driving their support for a leader?

Particularly as sexually transmitted diseases kill our people, when a third of all abortions are black babies, and the only hope for future black prosperity is restoration of the black family?

Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education (www.urbancure.org). Contact her at parkerurbancure.org.


2) Some of this shit is exactly why I'm planning on starting a progressive club at my HBCU next year.

3) This is seriously a shame. I'm probably a shitty black Christian by this woman's standards (and my own) but I find it really disgusting for her to define black Christians as if we're all supposed to be a bunch of idiots not accepting gay people, many of whom are members of our own fucking community.

And seriously, please no LOLOLOLOLOL CHRISTIANITY macros and that kind of bullshit, I'm really not in the mood. I find this bigoted mess being used in the name of Christianity and baby Jesus ridiculous and laughable just like most of you, but srsly, lets lay off.

That said, I'm all for Jesus & dino pics.

Stupid sauce. Tipped off by anandrine, thanks for the rage bb ♥

Obama Administration takes over food safety. But I like my PBJ with Salmonella...

Government tightening food safety standards
New food safety standards for eggs, meat, vegetables being adopted by Obama administration

The White House is trying to make Americans' food safer after recent recalls of popular products like peanut butter and cookie dough.

A food safety working group established by President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the government will try and boost the safety of some of the nation's most popular foods, announcing stricter rules for the production of eggs, poultry, beef, leafy greens, melons and tomatoes. The new standards are an effort to reduce instances of salmonella and E. coli contamination.

The group, headed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is also directing the Food and Drug Administration to help the food industry establish better tracing systems if there is an outbreak, so the origins of a disease can be quickly found. A new network to help the many agencies that regulate food safety communicate better will also be created.

Tougher standards, including stiffer penalties and increased inspections, are included in legislation approved by a House panel earlier this year.
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The GOP strangely likes this idea of using Military Coups to protect Democracy...

The Coup Caucus

The Weekly Standard calls it a "Coup for Democracy." The National Review, "A Counter-Coup." But Ciff Kincaid wins the award for most unhinged reaction to events in Honduras:

"The so-called 'military coup' in Honduras was a successful effort by Honduran patriots to preserve their constitutional system of government from an international alliance of communists and socialists backed by Iran," Kincaid wrote in a column published at aim.org.

Yes, Zelaya tried to subvert national institutions to his parochial advantage. But the military deposing a duly elected national president is inimical to the principals of democracy that the Honduran military is purporting to defend. I think Kevin Casas-Zamora said it best in a balanced piece for Brookings, "If Zelaya must be prosecuted for his hare-brained attempt to subvert the Honduran constitution, then let the courts proceed as rigorously as possible. And the same applies to the coup perpetrators. If Honduras is to have a decent future its politicians and soldiers, in equal measure, must learn that the road to democracy and development runs through the rule of law."

UPDATE: Republican members of Congress join the fray.

A Congressional Coup Caucus emerges

Support for the coup in Honduras extends beyond the pages of right wing political magazines to the United States Congress. Tomorrow, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will host a private meeting for her Republican colleagues with former Honduran President Ricardo Maduro and former Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S. Jaime Daremblum. According to the invitation, obtained by UN Dispatch, "President Maduro will help to outline the sequence of events leading to the shift in power in Honduras and removal of Manuel Zelaya; provide insight into Honduran constitutional authorities; and discuss how the U.S. can now work to support the democratic institutions and rule of law in Honduras." Ambassador Daremblum will discuss his Weekly Standard piece titled "A Coup for Democracy."

In related news, Florida Republican Connie Mack is circulating a congressional resolution that effectively supports the coup. So far, the Congressional Coup Caucus includes Dan Burton (Republican from Indiana), Jeff Fortenberry (Republican from Nebraska) and Dana Rohrabacher (Republican from California) who are co-sponsoring the resolution.

Here is a sample of what they are signing onto, passed onto UN Dispatch from a congress watcher who says Rep. Mack will likely "drop it in the hopper" tomorrrow.
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What if the Uighurs were Christian rather than Muslim?

What if the Uighurs were Christian rather than Muslim?

According to The New York Times this morning, violent clashes between Chinese government forces and Muslim Uighurs -- that country's long-oppressed minority -- have left at least 140 people dead and close to 1,000 injured. This incident in Western China highlights an important fact about America's "War on Terror."

Just imagine if the Uighurs were a Christian -- rather than Muslim -- minority, battling against the tyrannical Communist regime in Beijing, resisting various types of persecution, and demanding religious freedom. They would be lionized by America's Right, as similar Christian minorities, oppressed by tyrannical regimes, automatically are. Episodes like these -- where a declared Tyranny like China violently acts against citizens with whom we empathize -- are ones about which, in general, the American political class loves to sermonize.
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Magneto &amp; Xavier.
  • doop

Pasco man angry over his dead cats says he shot neighbor twice in back

LAND O'LAKES — Frederick Heustis admits he shot his neighbor.

"Yes, I'm the bad guy," he said Wednesday afternoon from an interview room in the Land O'Lakes jail, where the 67-year-old is being held on a charge of attempted murder.

Heustis lives in Shady Hills, and on Tuesday evening, he shot his neighbor — Joseph Sosnowski, 68 — twice in the back on Sosnowski's porch. The bullets exited through his chest. A Pasco Sheriff's Office spokesman said Sosnowski, who spent 12 years working as a detention deputy in the very jail where his neighbor sits, is in stable condition and recovering.

Heustis said it was about his cats. He has about nine of them and they live outside. Heustis suspects Sosnowski's grandson and another neighbor have been killing them.

"Thirteen dead in three years," Heustis said.

There was a confrontation back in November involving Heustis, the grandson and two other men. Heustis said he caught them going through his property and overheard one say of some cats, "There's two of them. Which one should we get first?"

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Oh, Okay, fuck you then.

Inhofe: Nothing Could Make Me Vote For Climate Bill

Senate Democrats are hoping to complete the task that their colleagues in the House began two weeks ago -- passing the most ambitious climate bill ever. But they face huge obstacles from both Republicans and members of their own caucus.

The bill would, for the first time, impose limits on greenhouse gases, with the goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Senate leadership would like to have a vote on the legislation by August, before the talks on an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases begin.

Leading GOPers say they have no intention of supporting the bill and have begun mapping out a strategy to undermine it. Sources tell the Huffington Post that the talking points currently circulating in Republican chambers revolve around high energy prices, tax increases, jobs shipped overseas, and an overall devastating effect on the economy.

Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the environmental committee, is an ardent opponent of the notion that human activity is contributing to climate change and has gone on record labeling global warming a "hoax."
When asked if there is any way to structure this legislation in order for Inhofe to consider supporting it, Matt Dempsey, communications director for Republicans on the committee said, "Absolutely not."

"Senator Inhofe believes this bill is an attack on rural America," Dempsey said, adding that such a bill would create higher taxes in the South and Midwest than in California and New York. Inhofe has called it "all economic pain for no climate gain."

While GOP leaders have predicted that the bill will fail, they are not optimistic about killing it before it reaches the floor of the Senate. "The majority has a 12-7 split on the committee so whatever they put forward will pass -- there's no question about that," Dempsey said. Instead, the Republican leadership is focusing on warning members of the party not to defect in the final vote.

"The more people know what's in this bill, the more likely they are going to oppose it," Dempsey continued. "We're focused on explaining its consequences and we feel that Republicans who support it will have to justify their votes when they go back home."

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dal ja&#39;s spring

China's investment into Iraqi oil

As Iraq Stabilizes, China Bids on Its Oil Fields

HONG KONG — Oil companies from China, the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing consumer of oil, bid aggressively on Tuesday as Iraq began auctioning licenses in six large oil fields.

A partnership of BP and the China National Petroleum Corporation, or C.N.P.C., won the first contract awarded, in the latest indication of Chinese interest in Iraq, a country that has until recently seemed to be firmly in the American sphere of influence for natural resources.

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A Bit Extreme on the Sanctity of Marriage, Mister

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. – A woman held hostage for hours by her estranged husband at their former home got out safely Tuesday, said police, who surrounded the house as it was engulfed in flames with the defiant man still inside.

Gunshots were fired at the South Windsor house shortly after power was cut to the neighborhood and a SWAT team geared up. Police, who didn't provide details on how the woman got out, used a bullhorn to tell the man, Richard Shenkman, to leave the house because it was on fire, but he wouldn't leave.

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Howard Dean to Esquire: Private Health Care Is Breaking Our Economy...

...and the Republicans are all a bunch of liars. And Washington is as scared of change as a cult. And other things you'd expect Howard Dean to say in a hot-button debate. Except, when it comes to this particular hot-button debate, Howard Dean really knows what he's talking about. And so should you.

By: John H. Richardson

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Howard Dean says private health care is breaking the economy, the Republicans are liars, and Washington is as scared of change as a cult. Except when it comes to the health-care debate, Howard Dean really knows what he's talking about.

As Congress debates health-care reform, the arguments against a "public option" are coming fast and furious. The best I've read recently is from Greg Manikow, the distinguished Harvard economist and former Bush advisor who insists that the public option will inevitably crowd out private insurance companies, resulting in less competition and poorer health care. Manikow reminded me of how quickly the efficiencies of private military contractors like Blackwater crushed the socialists in the United States Army, how the option of great public beaches in New York drove all Connecticut elite from their Buffy-and-Muffy-only private beach clubs to the boardwalks of Coney Island, and how the wealthy rushed from their Park Avenue penthouses to take advantage of the great deals in Section 8 housing.

For an alternate point of view, however, I consulted the former governor of Vermont. As a doctor married to a doctor, Howard Dean made health care a priority of his administration, putting strict regulations on health insurance profiteering and figuring out a way to extend insurance to every child in the state. In a new book called Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Health Care Reform, he makes a persuasive case for reform.

ESQUIRE: Your book really lays everything out in a very simple, clear way. It's obvious this is something you've been thinking about for a long time.
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