February 9th, 2010

Akuma River

Elizabeth Warren is calling out the Wall Street Thugs!

I'm still sick and it's a wittle bit hard to concentrate so I got no commentary at the moment. I had to spell check Wall Street!

Oh yeah, Wall Street locked the article so I had to use google news to find the uncut version.


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Wall Street's Race to the Bottom
Jamie Dimon is wrong. We shouldn't expect a crisis 'every five to seven years.'


By ELIZABETH WARREN

Banking is based on trust. The banks get our paychecks and hold our savings; they know where we spend our money and they keep it private. If we don't trust them, the whole system breaks down. Yet for years, Wall Street CEOs have thrown away customer trust like so much worthless trash.

Banks and brokers have sold deceptive mortgages for more than a decade. Financial wizards made billions by packaging and repackaging those loans into securities. And federal regulators played the role of lookout at a bank robbery, holding back anyone who tried to stop the massive looting from middle-class families. When they weren't selling deceptive mortgages, Wall Street invented new credit card tricks and clever overdraft fees.

In October 2008, when all the risks accumulated and the economy went into a tailspin, Wall Street CEOs squandered what little trust was left when they accepted taxpayer bailouts. As the economy stabilized and it seemed like we would change the rules that got us into this crisis—including the rules that let big banks trick their customers for so many years—it looked like things might come out all right.

Now, a year later, President Obama's proposals for reform are bottled up in the Senate. The same Wall Street CEOs who brought the economy to its knees have spent more than a year and hundreds of millions of dollars furiously lobbying Washington to kill the president's proposal for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).
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JS & DS - NYC

Sarah Palin is a fucking retard by Stephen Colbert!


Using Sarah Palin's defense of Rush Limbaugh against her, last night Stephen Colbert proudly pronounced that "Sarah Palin is a f--king retard."

After mocking Palin's speech at the Tea Party Convention (taking the obligatory jabs at the notes on her hand) Colbert moved on to Palin's reaction to Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retard." Palin not only called for his Emanuel's firing, but also defended Rush Limbaugh's use of the word, deeming it acceptable because it was satire.

After playing the clip of Limbaugh's "subtle" satire, Colbert jumped on the opportunity that his own satirical show presented. An opportunity to call Palin a "f--king retard." Colbert added that her reasoning also explained the note on her other hand: "Retard = sometimes funny."


Source

I <3 Stephen!
MSNBC- Rachel giggles and fans

Lt. Dan Choi, LGBT Hero, Called Back To Active Military Service

Lt. Dan Choi, LGBT Hero, Called Back To Active Military Service



This is huge, folks!

Lt. Dan Choi, after coming out to the nation on The Rachel Maddow Show last year, became the face of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal movement. Our friends over at The Bilerico Project report today that Lt. Choi is back in uniform — and back in service, despite a military hearing that recommended discharge eight months ago.

Bilerico’s Jeff Sheng had an exclusive interview with Choi. He writes,

Lt. Choi is no doubt an incredibly persuasive voice. He is also a person of color, and in a world where Asian American men are rarely given any voice in any debate, he shines at his rockstar ability to persuade, from the airwaves or Rachel Maddow to the offices of Senator Gillibrand.

“[T]he comment that struck me the most was when he said, “Actions speak louder than words.” It made sense all of a sudden, that the sheer act of him rejoining his unit and serving with everyone else, could be his most powerful voice in the debate so far. That seeing an openly gay service member train and fight with his unit, is something that truly does speak louder than words.


Head over to Bilerico to read the rest of Jeff’s piece and to see the photos of Lt. Choi.

While this is only one step, it is a big one. Perhaps we can take it as a good faith signal from the military.

But what is critical to keep in mind is that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is not up to the military. It’s up to Congress. And that is where we need to take the battle.

Source


YES!YESYESYES!
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Republican Admits Serious Spending Addiction, Earns 1 Million American Express Points.

Secret contract, lavish spending push Republican Party of Florida to crisis

As a volatile election season gets under way, the Republican Party of Florida is facing its biggest crisis of confidence in decades.


Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment. The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses — at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising.

Another sign of trouble came Monday with news that incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon transferred $665,000 of party money in the days surrounding Greer's resignation to a separate political committee called the Florida Liberty Fund, suggesting lack of confidence in the party election machine.

Greer has long been known as a flamboyant chairman who enjoyed entourages, charter jets and belting out Elvis at party galas. But even the biggest critics of Gov. Charlie Crist's hand-picked chairman were stunned by revelations that he entered into a lucrative secret contract with a stealth company set up by his most loyal aide de camp, 30-year-old Johnson, a former Crist campaign aide. The contract would pay Johnson a 10 percent commission on all major donations to the state Republican Party.

"Without any question, the hiding of a contract between the chairman and executive director is absolutely unethical. Is it criminal? It could well be,'' said Brevard County Republican chairman Jason Steele. "Probably what needs to be done is we just need to expose all of this stuff every bit of it, and let the trees fall wherever they do."
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creepy but cute

France to issue citizens' handbooks to every child

French children are to be given a "citizen's handbook" to teach them to be better republicans, as part of national identity measures announced by the government today.

Schools will be ordered to fly the French flag and to have a copy of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in every classroom.

The measures, announced by the French prime minister, François Fillon, are the first to emerge from the country's controversial debate on national identity.

Under new rules, immigrants who come to live in France, who since 2007 have had to sign a contract of welcome and integration, will have to take part in a more solemn ceremony to become French citizens. They will also be expected to demonstrate a better command of the French language and a greater knowledge of the "values of the republic". All candidates will be required to sign a "charter" outlining their rights and responsibilities.

Lessons for immigrant parents, currently being tested in 12 regions, will be introduced across the country from September.

"The emphasis will be put on the respect for the values of the republic … notably the principle of equality between men and women … and the level of knowledge of the French language," said Fillon.
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Opposition lawmakers said the whole debate merely acted as a distraction from France's fundamental problems, such as high unemployment, and was being used as a campaign ploy ahead of March's regional elections.

Polls showed many French people found the discussions were not constructive and President Nicolas Sarkozy, originally a keen supporter of the initiative, quickly began to distance himself from the debate, says the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Paris.

The promised grand presentation of the findings was downgraded to a low-key event, she says. Many of the proposals were put forward by French Immigration Minister Eric Besson. Monday's announcement came a week after Mr Besson refused to grant citizenship to a foreign national on the grounds that he forced his wife to wear the full Islamic veil. Late last month a French parliamentary committee recommended a ban on women wearing Islamic face veils in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport. It also recommended that anyone showing visible signs of "radical religious practice" should be refused residence cards and citizenship.

source

I think it's important to integrate immigrants into a society (as oppose to assimilate), and efforts to educate children about a country's history and the principles on which it is founded are always good, regardless of whether they are new comers to a country or not. But hearing stuff like "Mr. Besson proposed that each French boy and girl be required to sign a "rights and duties charter" at 18 and that the government revoke the visa of any foreigner who breaches what he called French values." I can see how rather being a constructive effort to engage immigrants in the social fabric of their country, it panders to xenophobes who expect every immigrant to lose his/her values at the doorstep.
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Alaskan Suffering from Cognitive Deficiency Cause of Deranged Train Wreck

Palin Puts Together A ... Campaign?

Sarah Palin is putting together a campaign team, and Washington is taking notice. Mark Leibovich of the New York Times described her bare-bones political operation. Here is what I know: she is not worried about fundraising right now. Pam Pryor, a former RNC senior adviser, leads Palin's political action committee and is orchestrating her outreach to social conservatives. Randy Scheunenmann remains her policy maestro, with informal assistance from his Orion Strategies colleague Michael Goldfarb, the former Weekly Standard writer and McCain campaign rapid responder. (Goldfarb did not return an e-mail seeking comment about his future in Palin's world.) Fred Malek is perhaps the single Washington establishment figure that Palin turns to, although Malek has insisted that he is neutral about the presidential race --- though he admits to having a soft spot in his heart for Palin.

Palin's opponents believe that her downfall will be an accelerated reiteration of 2008: when the broader public turned against her because she seemed vapid and nasty, rather than clever and clean -- and THAT was the censored version! And that was before the flaky and irresponsible (?) resignation as governor of Alaska. They note that Palin, having faced down the Elite Crucible and lost, now has to face the even tougher crucible of Iowa -- give her three or four months there and see if she survives. (If she DOES survive, how could she NOT be the nominee?)
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what?
  • dwer

What the hell is wrong with South Carolina lately?

No joke: South Carolina now requires ’subversives’ to register
Five-dollar registration fee for persons planning to overthrow US government

Terrorists who want to overthrow the United States government must now register with South Carolina's Secretary of State and declare their intentions -- or face a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

The state's "Subversive Activities Registration Act," passed last year and now officially on the books, states that "every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States ... shall register with the Secretary of State."

There's even a $5 filing fee.

By "subversive organization," the law means "every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States [or] of this State."


Source wants your paperen, pliss!

What is this I don't even...
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    indescribable
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Bureocrats Stops Welfare Queen from Stealing Diploma. System To Keep Undesirables Out Works!

N.Y. Group Mobilizes To Help Girl Prevented From Graduating By Homelessness

New York City bureaucrats won't let Rosa Bracero graduate from high school because her family is homeless.


The Daily News reported Thursday that Bracero missed her Regents exam two weeks ago because her family was being evicted that day and the city's intake center requires every family member to show up for to apply for shelter. Bracero took a makeup exam, but the state won't validate the results.

Now, after the Daily News reported on Bracero's plight, the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City has launched a campaign to force the city to allow Bracero to graduate, blasting an email to its list of more than 17,000 people.

"We understand that rules are in place to prevent kids from cheating, but these are extraordinary circumstances," said coalition director Mary Brosnahan in an interview with the Huffington Post. Bracero's situation "sheds light on the human drama that goes on behind the numbers."

Homelessness "takes a terrible toll on the kids' lives," Brosnahan said.

The Coalition wants people to send letters to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanding that the city's Department of Homeless Services change its policies so kids don't miss school when families apply for shelter.

"Rosa isn't alone," says the letter to the mayor. "Hers is just one story in a city of 16,000 homeless children. Every day, DHS's policies force kids to miss school -- including critical tests -- to be present for hours and hours of applying for shelter. Their parents often have to miss work, too."

Elected officials in New York were sympathetic. "That a child misses her Regents because her whole family is getting evicted...is admitting that we treat homeless students as a second tier population," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, according to the Daily News.
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[LB] OMG BEST THING EVER

"The Trial of the Century"



The Trial
Eric Holder and the battle over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

by Jane Mayer February 15, 2010

On December 5th, several hundred people gathered in Foley Square, in lower Manhattan, and withstood a drenching rainstorm for two hours in order to send a message to Attorney General Eric Holder. A JumboTron, set up by the protesters, played clips of Holder’s recent testimony before Congress, in which he explained his decision to hold the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—the self-proclaimed planner of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—and four co-conspirators in the colonnaded federal courthouse flanking the square, rather than in a military commission at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Members of the crowd shouted at the screen: “Holder’s gotta go!”; “Arrogant bastard!”; “Communist!”

Greg Manning, whose wife, Laura, was severely burned in the World Trade Center attacks, stood before the crowd and said, “Thousands are already dead because of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s choices. We do not want to see . . . hundreds of thousands dead because of the Attorney General’s choices.”

Andrew McCarthy, the former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney who led the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center attacks, also gave a speech, declaring that Holder didn’t “understand what rule of law has always been in wartime.” He said, “It’s military commissions. It’s not to wrap our enemies in our Bill of Rights.”

“Traitor!” someone shouted.

Edith Lutnick, who works for the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, told the crowd, “My brother, Gary, lost his life that day.” The 9/11 victims, she said, “were murdered by the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and we do not want him and his fellow-terrorists tried in that building. . . . We need to tell Eric Holder that we will be victims no more.”

“Lynch Holder!” an onlooker cried.

One protester, Carolyn Walton, who works for a water-filtration company in Manhattan, told me that Holder was “a Marxist mole.” She asked, “How can someone who is not an American have any right to our rights? Holder wants to help the terrorists.”

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The author was on NPR just now and the interview got me interested in reading her article. It is an interesting read if not a slightly long one.

Source - The New Yorker
Hewdig

Robert Gibbs Scrawls Notes on Hand, Mocking Sarah Palin

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Following President Obama's surprise appearance at the White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs garnered laughter from the press corps by holding up his hand to reveal that he had written notes on his palm in black marker.

Gibbs' move was a jab at Sarah Palin, who was shown to have written note on her hand at a speech at the Tea Party convention Saturday after making an implicit criticism of the president for using a TelePrompTer.

Gibbs quipped that he had made the notes in case he and the press corps are snowed in. He said the words written on his hands included "eggs," and that he had written "toast" but crossed it out.

Palin wrote the words "Energy," "Budget cuts" (which was crossed out), "Tax," and "Lift Americans Spirits" on the inside of her left hand.

Source

The whole list reads "Eggs Milk Bread Hope Change"
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Michael Steele Uses "The Race Card", Wins a +10 Bonus Point.



Michael Steele Suggests Criticism Of His Tenure Motivated By Racism

It’s been awhile since Michael Steele has landed himself in the news, but this might stir things up again: In a new interview, Steele bluntly suggests criticism of his tenure — and all the media coverage it’s garnered — may be motivated by racism.

The story, called “Up in the Air,” is in the February issue of Washingtonian magazine, and it isn’t online yet, but here’s the key passage, buried way at the end of the piece, on page 96 of the mag:
Steele acknowledges that at times he has a tendency to take things too far. “And I get checked on that, just as when I was a young boy and I pushed the envelope too far and my Mama was there to check me.”

But there’s an edge to his voice when he talks about a double standard that he believes has been applied by his critics, and he posits racism as the cause: “I don’t see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is chairman?”
The larger context of the story is the tension created by the fact that Steele continues to take constant criticism, despite the GOP’s undeniable gains and the likelihood of more advances in the future.

There are two ways of reading Steele’s stab at an explanation: Either Steele is suggesting the media gives more ink to the RNC’s inner workings becausea black man is chairman, or he’s suggesting that fellow Republicans are leaking damaging info about the RNC because a black man is chairman.

Either way, it seems at odds with his claim back in November that he doesn’t “play the race card” or “play the race game.”
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Update: Media Matters Action Network unearths many more examples of Steele condemning Dem race-card playing.
Akuma River

Ben Nelson (d) continues to show his turncoat colors

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Ben Nelson To Filibuster Key Obama Labor Nominee

In a move that will further irritate his Democratic critics, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced on Monday evening that he would not just oppose but also help filibuster President Barack Obama's nominee to a key labor relations agency

In a statement from his office, the Nebraska Democrat announced that he would oppose cloture for Craig Becker's appointment to the National Labor Relations Board, all but assuring that confirmation won't take place.
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Akuma River

I thought we were being called the Millenial Generation?

'The Empathic Civilization': The Young Pioneers Of The Empathic Generation

For my niece Robin, who graduated from Vanderbilt University in May, an important part of her college experience was the volunteer work she did working with Sudanese refugees. Every week she spent hours helping them resettle in the Nashville area. She also worked to make Americans more aware of the suffering in Sudan's civil war, especially in the Darfur region, and helped raise money for resettlement costs. In her junior year, Robin spent a semester in Cape Town, South Africa, where she wrote an honors thesis on expressions of public opinion in South Africa's democratic system. Now she is contemplating going to graduate school in some kind of international field.

Robin's experience is not unusual today. She is part of what pollster John Zogby calls the "First Globals," a generation of 18-29 year-olds whose "planet is their playing field." Today's emerging adults see themselves as international citizens to an extent rarely experienced before. Coming of age in the era of the Internet, cheap travel, and surging study abroad programs, they're drawn to global music, sports, fashion, and service. Almost a quarter of the emerging adults Zogby polled expect to work abroad.
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Prison Break, Iranian Edition: Mahmoud Ahmayouareunderarrest Imprisons Everyone.

Iran Unleashes Wave of Arrests of Dissidents, Analysts Say

In recent weeks, Iranian security officials have unleashed a wave of arrests across the country in an effort to neutralize the political opposition, silence critical voices and head off widespread protests when the nation marks the anniversary of the revolution on Thursday, Iran analysts inside and outside the country said.

Though the government has refrained from arresting the principal leaders of the opposition, the category of people it has pursued has grown broader over time. While a number of well-known reformists were detained shortly after the contested presidential election in June, the ranks of those imprisoned now include artists, photographers, children’s rights advocates, women’s rights activists, students and scores of journalists. Iran now has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world, with at least 65 in custody, according to Reporters Without Borders.
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dah

"Bush Billboard Poses $64,000 Question"

Source

(Feb. 9) -- It's only been a year since a helicopter flew him out of the capital right after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. But some Americans will be pleased to know that George W. Bush is out there, watching over them after all. From a billboard, high above Interstate Highway 35 near Wyoming, Minn., to be exact. And he wants to know if you miss him.

Someone has placed a giant photo of the former president on a billboard with the question, "Miss Me Yet?"

Until now, the billboard was thought to be a hoax, a clever doctoring of an image perhaps, meant to whip up anti-Obama sentiments in the blogosphere. But by Monday, it was clear: The "Miss Me Yet?" billboard is real.

Minnesota Public Radio correspondent Bob Collins saw it himself:

It was late at night and I wasn't sure I'd seen the billboard correctly as I whizzed past it on I-35 in Wyoming last week on the way back from Wrenshall. But an e-mailer confirms I saw what I thought I saw.
It's beginning to sweep along the Internet, accompanied by various claims that it's a Photoshop fake. But it's not. It's real.



The creators are out there, somewhere. But they would like to remain anonymous, according to the general manager of billboard owner Schubert & Hoey Outdoor Advertising. As Mary Teske told Asylum, "the sign was rented by a group of small businessmen from the twin cities area, who pooled their money to make the political statement."

Convinced that "Washington was against them," the men paid for a two-month run of the billboard to make a statement, Teske added.

While the men remain anonymous, this much is clear, however: Wyoming's mayor, Sheldon Anderson, wishes he had thought of the idea first. He sent an e-mail to Minnesota Public Radio. "Wish I could take credit for it," he wrote.

In the words of Collins, "It's time to crowdsource this puppy."

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Any Minnesotans out there who have seen this? What do you think?
Akuma River

In Port-au-Prince, the patience of the people is wearing thin on aid distribution

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Rewiring Haiti: Patience Wears Thin in Port-au-Prince

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — In a soccer field near the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, rows of green canvas tents are arranged neatly on the pitch, ready to receive new arrivals. This small encampment, built in recent days by Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., represents a transition of sorts: It will serve as a temporary rest and recovery center for Haitian patients released from the USNS Comfort, the giant Navy hospital ship that is anchored off the coast of Haiti.

The Comfort, which sailed last month to support the relief effort here, became a prominent symbol of the relief effort, treating large numbers of Haitians injured in the massive January 12 earthquake. This small encampment – the Marines do not call it a clinic – is supposed to relieve pressure on the military’s medical system, by freeing up available bed space on the hospital ships.

Marine Maj. Keith Owens, the battalion’s executive officer, told Danger Room: “Our role is to build a base camp. There’ll be some seriously injured – but non-emergency – patients, ready to recuperate, recover and rehabilitate.”
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Akuma River

The Christine virus continues to spread its evil

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Begins Worldwide Brake Recall On Flagship Hybrid

TOKYO — Toyota says it is recalling about 437,000 Prius and other hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix brake problems – the latest in a string of embarrassing safety lapses at the world's largest automaker.

"I don't see Toyota as an infallible company that never makes mistakes," President Akio Toyoda said at a press conference Tuesday in Tokyo. "We will face up to the facts and correct the problem, putting customers' safety and convenience first."

With the Prius announcement, the number of vehicles recalled globally by Toyota Motor Corp. has ballooned to 8.5 million, including for floor mats which can trap gas pedals and faulty gas pedals that are slow to return to the idle position. The 2010 Prius wasn't part of the earlier recalls.
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This also includes Lexus.
Akuma River

Obama gives the GOP an ultimatum

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Obama Warns GOP He Will Use Recess Appointments

In a surprise appearance before the White House press corps on Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced he would consider using recess appointments to get his nominees to their posts if Senate Republicans deny them an up-or-down vote.

Speaking to reporters shortly after he met with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, Obama said that he informed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that he would "consider" such a course of action if the GOP obstructionism continued.

"In our meeting I asked the congressional leadership to put a stop to these holds in which nominees for critical jobs are denied a vote for month," he said. "Surely we can set aside partisanship and do what's traditionally been done with these nominations."

"If the Senate does not act, and I made this very clear," Obama continued, "I will consider making several recess appointments during the upcoming recess because we can't afford to let politics stand in the way of a well functioning government."

On Tuesday, one of those nominees -- Craig Becker, who Obama appointed to sit on the National Labor Relations Board -- is slated to come up for a vote Senate. His confirmation was thrown into serious doubt recently when Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) indicated he would vote against cloture. Should Obama appoint Becker to the post through a recess appointment, he would be able to serve until the end of 2011 before requiring re-confirmation.

Noting the length that some nominations have been held up in Congress as well as the blanket hold that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) placed on all presidential nominees last week, Obama called on lawmakers to "get past the tired debates that have plagued our politics."
Akuma River

Congress gets a SNOW WEEK!

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WASHINGTON — Mother Nature's wrath has forced the U.S. House to scrap its work week.

No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer said Tuesday the body will not meet the rest of the week and no votes are scheduled. His comments came as Washington remained paralyzed from one blizzard and hunkered down in anticipation of a possible 10-20 inches more of snow.

Last weekend's storm closed area airports for a few days, preventing many lawmakers from returning to the nation's capital. With Congress on a previously scheduled break next week for the Presidents' Day holiday, lawmakers won't be back in Washington until Feb. 22.

Also, newscasters keep saying how this upcoming blizzard/nor'easter will bring the total seasonal snowfall into record levels. They expect tomorrow's snowfall to push the seasonal record to past five and a half feet of snow! The most seasonal snowfall in the history of D.C. EVER!

I wonder, does this mean the Delaware river will freeze up like in the olden days when Washington crossed it that Christmas night to slaughter the German mercs the Brits brought over to fight our insurrection?

P.S. have you guys been reading Jake Tapper's tweets on the Snosferatu?
#Snosferatu looks at me. "You have made it this far without slipping once on the ice," he says. Drool drips from his chin.
#Snosferatu approaches. "Your streets are nice and clear of snow," he says. "Trees are still standing."
#Snosferatu is too esoteric to put serious butts in the seats, but it will work with a certain demo
#Snosferatu comes this way. "There are things more horrible than death," says Snosferatu.

I am now crawling back into my bed to wait out the last of the cold/flu I have.
JL: Annoyed J. Law

Republicans -- Not Obama -- More Often on Wrong Side of Public Opinion

by Nate Silver

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/02/republicans-not-obama-more-often-on.html

One of the more commonplace assertions among pundits on the center-right -- made rather carelessly by Victor Davis Hanson and more thoughtfully by Jay Cost, is that agenda put forward by Obama and the Democrats is overwhelmingly unpopular and that Democrats are simply getting their comeuppance for having pushed such a liberal set of reforms forward. These claims, however, rely on selective evidence, invariably citing policies like health care and the GM bailouts which are indeed unpopular (strongly so, in some cases), while ignoring many other issues on which Obama has been on the right side of public opinion.

In fact, a more objective and equivocal evaluation of public opinion on more than two dozen specific issues finds that the Republican Congress has far more often been on the wrong side of it. Attempting to be as comprehensive as possible, I've identified 25 issues that Obama and the Democrats have made an affirmative effort to push forward since taking office a year ago, and summarized public opinion on each of them. Most of the numbers that I've cited come from PollingReport.com.
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Köln Kirchen bei Nacht

Construction worker confesses in Cologne archive collapse case

Last year, there was a post here about the collapse of the Cologne historical archive. Basically, it fell into a big hole caused by subway works, and when I say "fell into a hole", I mean that literally. This is a follow-up on some news from the investigations that just broke today. In the photo I posted, the flat buildings with the little courtyard are the back area of the archive, and there was a huge building of several floors in the front, which kind of slid into a hole, taking other buildings or parts of them with it.

This was the Colgne historical archive
Construction worker confesses in Cologne archive collapse case


Eleven months after the deadly collapse of Cologne’s city archive, a construction worker has given investigators their first confession in the case, media reports said on Tuesday.

The archive collapsed on March 3, 2009 killing two men in a neighbouring building and destroying scores of precious historic documents.


The city has since opened an investigation into what caused the accident and has raided the offices of construction companies involved in building a metro line underneath the building.

Now according to local daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, a construction worker on the metro line has admitted that his foreman intentionally used fewer steel reinforcements at the site of the accident. The unused metal allegedly went to scrap dealers, the paper said.

The worker’s statements have been substantiated by a further witness, though they were denied by the foreman, according to the paper. State prosecutors working on the case refused to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

There is also evidence that protocols for the work site may have been falsified, the paper said.

In June 2009 experts said they had recovered 85 percent of the archive’s documents and were amazed by how many had survived the devastating accident.

The documents, which date back as far as 1,000 years, were in varying states when rescue workers pulled them from the archive rubble, but less than one-quarter had been torn apart. Experts have since been working to piece them back together using software that was developed to restore shredded documents from the East German secret police, the Stasi.


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Article source
Photo gallery
Cordy

Major cities could see up to 100 inches of snow this season

If winter's bad luck persists, major cities across the mid-Atlantic could see snowfall totals amounting to 100 inches by the end of the season.

As the mid-Atlantic cleans up from over two feet of snowfall in some areas, and begins preparation for another major storm this week, many are left asking, "Why so many major storms?"

No single factor is responsible for this winter's wicked nature, but several elements working together have produced monster storms this season.

"The blocking pattern in the jet stream is creating access to extremely cold air," said AccuWeather.com's Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.

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omgz

Judge being gay a nonissue during Prop. 8 trial

The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay.

Many gay politicians in San Francisco and lawyers who have had dealings with Walker say the 65-year-old jurist, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, has never taken pains to disguise - or advertise - his orientation.

They also don't believe it will influence how he rules on the case he's now hearing - whether Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure approved by state voters to ban same-sex marriage, unconstitutionally discriminates against gays and lesbians.

"There is nothing about Walker as a judge to indicate that his sexual orientation, other than being an interesting factor, will in any way bias his view," said Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is supporting the lawsuit to overturn Prop. 8.

As evidence, she cites the judge's conservative - albeit libertarian - reputation, and says, "There wasn't anyone who thought (overturning Prop. 8) was a cakewalk given his sexual orientation."

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has sponsored two bills to authorize same-sex marriage that were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said that as far as he's concerned, Walker's background is a nonissue. "It seems curious to me," he said, that when the state Supreme Court heard a challenge to Prop. 8, the justices' sexual orientation "was never discussed."

Leno added, "I have great respect for Judge Walker, professionally and personally."

Walker has declined to talk about anything involving the Prop. 8 case outside court, and he wouldn't comment to us when we asked about his orientation and whether it was relevant to the lawsuit.

Many San Francisco gays still hold Walker in contempt for a case he took when he was a private attorney, when he represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in a successful bid to keep San Francisco's Gay Olympics from infringing on its name.

"Life is full of irony," the judge replied when we reminded him about that episode.

And did he have any concerns about being characterized as gay?

"No comment."

Shortly after our conversation, we heard from a federal judge who counts himself as a friend and confidant of Walker's. He said he had spoken with Walker and was concerned that "people will come to the conclusion that (Walker) wants to conceal his sexuality."

"He has a private life and he doesn't conceal it, but doesn't think it is relevant to his decisions in any case, and he doesn't bring it to bear in any decisions," said the judge, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the Prop. 8 trial.

"Is it newsworthy?" he said of Walker's orientation, and laughed. "Yes."

He said it was hard to ignore the irony that "in the beginning, when (Walker) sought to be a judge, a major obstacle he had to overcome was the perception that he was anti-gay."

In short, the friend said, Walker's background is relevant in the same way people would want to know that a judge hearing a discrimination case involving Latinos was Latino or a Jewish judge was ruling in a case involving the Anti-Defamation League.

Walker, by the way, didn't seek out the Prop. 8 case - it was assigned to him at random.

If the judge decides that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional, supporters of the measure are sure to take it to the federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. Kendell expects that if that happens, the measure's proponents will make an issue of the judge's sexual orientation - at least in the public arena.

Not so, said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the group that sponsored the Prop. 8 campaign.

"We are not going to say anything about that," Pugno said.

He was quick to assert, however, that Prop. 8 backers haven't gotten a fair shake from Walker in court. He cited both the judge's order for the campaign to turn over thousands of pages of internal memos to the other side and Walker's decision to allow the trial to be broadcast - both of which were overturned by higher courts.

"In many ways, the sponsors of Prop. 8 have been put at significant disadvantage throughout the case," Pugno said. "Regardless of the reason for it."

Did anyone here know this? Cause I sure as hell didn't.

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David Thewlis - Deer in headlights

Italy minister defends boost for McDonald's burger



Italy's agriculture minister defended his sponsorship of McDonald's new all-Italian burger Monday amid criticism that he is selling out to a multinational corporation and sacrificing Italy's culinary reputation in the process.

Minister Luca Zaia has argued that McDonald's new McItaly burger — using all Italian beef, Asiago cheese and artichoke spread — will pump (EURO)3.5 million ($4.8 million) more a month into the pockets of Italian farmers grappling with tough economic times.

But for a country that gave birth to the Slow Food movement a quarter-century ago and prides itself on its varied, delicious and healthy cuisine, Zaia's enthusiastic support of McDonald's has been hard to swallow.

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Las Vegas Taking Away Seniors' Diapers, Dentures and Hearing-aids. Seniors Ready To Riot.


Nevada Budget Crisis: State Considers Medicaid Diaper Rations, No Gloves For Caretakers


Nevada officials on Tuesday outlined drastic cuts to the state's Medicaid program that include plans to ration adult diapers, eliminate denture and hearing-aid programs, and force personal care assistants to buy their own disposable gloves.


State lawmakers learned of the cuts at a committee hearing in which health officials said adult day care programs, vision services and outpatient programs for people with brain trauma would also be cut to slash $109 million from Medicaid costs.

The grim proposals brought criticism and rebuke from lawmakers of both parties over Gov. Jim Gibbons' comments that Nevada can no longer pay for "bloated government services."

To close Nevada's $881 million budget deficit, Gibbons has proposed eliminating public school mandates for class size and full-day kindergarten, and suspending collective bargaining for teachers. Public schools would lose $166 million, and administrators say hundreds if not thousands of teachers could lose their jobs.

The governor also has proposed closing the 140-year-old Nevada State Prison in Carson City, a juvenile corrections facility in Las Vegas, and said 234 state workers would be laid off. More across-the-board salary reductions might be necessary, Gibbons said.

In his special State of the State speech Monday night, the first-term Republican governor who faces a June 8 primary blamed legislators for the state's budget crisis, saying "they gambled on new taxes and we all lost." He has told state agencies to plan for their budgets to be cut by 10 percent.

"The Legislature didn't cause this problem," Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said during Tuesday's hearing before the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee. "We were able last session to delay some of this impact on the lives of a lot of Nevadans who really need some services."

He said it's a severe problem when legislators are "talking about reducing the number of diapers that incontinents will be able to get."


Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said lawmakers raised revenue last session to avoid such cuts.
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UPDATE: Iowa bigots fail, NH bigots partially succeed in defeating marriage equality


GOP minority leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, invoked a call of the House, which required all representatives not excused for the day to return to the chamber. Paulsen implemented a House rule that would pull House Joint Resolution 6 from committee and place it on the debate calendar.

The attempt failed on a 45-54 vote. Paulsen told reporters he was attempting to get House members on the record on the issue.
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New Hampshire bigots hoping to repeal the state's five-week old marriage law and replace it with a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage were dealt a blow today with a legislative committee recommending that their proposal be rejected, the AP reports:

"A House committee is recommending against repealing New Hampshire’s five-week-old gay marriage law. The Judiciary Committee also voted today to recommend that the House kill a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The vote was 12-8 on both measures, largely along party lines led by Democratic opposition."

The House could act on the committee's recommendations as early as next week.

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Proofers Demand Birther Congressman To Show His Birth Certificate! How Dare You, He Clearly is White

Rep. Deal says he’s not questioning Obama’s ‘legitimacy’ while asking for his birth certificate.

While most right-wing public officials do not endorse the “birther” theory that President Obama was secretly born in Kenya, a handful of conservative leaders continue to demand that Obama release his long-form birth certificate, throwing fuel on the conspiracy fires. One such official is Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), who is also running for governor of the state of Georgia. At a recent event hosted by the Georgia Christian Alliance, Deal was asked about his letter to the President asking him for his birth certificate. The congressman responded that while he’s “not questioning” the president’s “legitimacy to serve,” he still wants Obama to show his birth certificate:

DEAL: Well, I think it is a communication that, uh, deserves at least his response, first of all, which we have not received. But in essence what I have told him is this. When I am asked by opponents or constituents hard questions, I don’t shy away from those questions. I try to answer those questions. If I don’t have the information to answer hard questions, I have to go to people who have the answers. What I have asked him to do is tell me where I can ask my constituents to go to see authentic documentation that he says satisfy their curiosity … I know some folks will try to label this as ‘politically incorrect.’ Let me tell you something, political correctness is paralyzing our society. These kinds of things deserve straightforward responses. I think this ought to be put to rest. I’m not questioning his legitimacy to serve as President. I would think he’d like to clear this up in as unequivocal fashion as possible. That’s all I’m asking him to do.
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Republican's Latest Plan To Save Medicare: Let The Free Market Save It! Bootstraps!!

Sen. Kit Bond Wants To Privatize Medicare With Vouchers

In his interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric before the Super Bowl earlier this week, President Obama said that he was going to ask Republicans to put their health care ideas “on the table.” “What I want to do is to look at the Republican ideas that are out there,” said Obama. “How do you guys want to lower costs?”

Just days before Obama made his call for GOP health care ideas, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) offered a radical proposal for reform in a conversation with the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to a blog post by the editorial board, Bond called on Friday for giving means-tested vouchers to Medicare enrollees:
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Big Bankers Indifferent With New Mexico's Pocket Change

New Mexico House Passes Sweeping Funds Bill

The clash between banks and credit unions over public fund deposits took an unorthodox twist with community banks and CUs teaming up to pass, 65-0, a milestone bill in the New Mexico House.

The bill enables a possible switch of $2-5 billion of state funds into CUs and small banks.

If enacted, the municipal funds bill, in the works since last year and still subject to a Senate vote, would represent a setback to large national banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which have had a lock on such funds.

The altered view of New Mexico lawmakers in favoring local control of state funds, officials said, follows national mention of the New Mexico effort in the “Move Your Money” campaign of New York pundit Arianna Huffington in her online Huffington Post columns.

“I think Huffington gave this bill a little traction,” said Juan Fernandez, vice president of government affairs for the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, which has been cooperating with the New Mexico Bankers Association in pushing the bill. Though large banks are members of NMBA, its leadership has been dominated by small community banks, which like CUs seek the funds.

Sources said that despite the support for the bill, it still may face quiet opposition from the large bank lobby which may seek to stall or defeat the measure.