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September 16th, 2010
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Gov. Christie Looks to Take Huge Bite Out of Public Employee Benefits
Retirees are not exempt from sweeping changes governor's reform package would make to pensions and health benefits
By Mark J. Magyar, September 15 in Budget
Gov. Chris Christie yesterday proposed a sweeping pension and health benefit reform package that would ultimately shift billions of dollars in costs from state and local budgets to current and retired teachers, police, firefighters and government workers.
While the Christie administration did not provide detailed numbers, the higher pension and benefit contributions proposed by Christie would be tantamount to a 7 percent pay cut for most teachers and government workers, and about a 4 percent reduction for police and firefighters phased in over the next three years, based on preliminary NJ Spotlight calculations.
The Christie plan also would significantly lower pension checks for future retirees by rolling back the 9 percent pension increase approved by a Republican governor and Legislature in 2001 and by eliminating all future cost-of-living increases for retirees.
Christie’s wide-ranging proposals go far beyond the reductions in cost-of-living adjustments adopted by the states of Minnesota, Colorado and South Dakota, all of which have been challenged in court. But Christie said he isn’t worried about legal challenges. “If they want to sue me, tell them to get in line. I have plenty of lawyers,” Christie said.
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Provided the legislature remains Democratic, this won't go down without a fight. Still, the fact that he continues to propose these sorts of policies to fix budget problems, after state workers, cops, teachers, and firefighters have long paid their dues makes my blood BOIL.
My mother just retired from education this year so this affects me directly. DIAF.
(she needs some macro love)
The White House has tapped Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser to help set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, affirming its support for a tough new agency charged with protecting consumers from abusive lenders.
The move allows her to act as an interim head of the CFPB and will enable her to begin setting up the agency immediately and prevent the GOP from filibustering her nomination. Warren could serve until President Barack Obama nominates a permanent director to serve the five-year term -- a nomination he's not required to make for some time. Obama also could nominate her as the permanent director in the near future, a prospect that has been discussed among top aides, according to a person familiar with White House deliberations. Warren formally will be named as a special adviser reporting directly to Obama, and serving in a similar capacity to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, later this week.
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Do you think that this will help change the momentum of the economy? The political sphere? Will it be a token position? Or will she finally have the teeth and power to cut into the financial problems that she and we have been waiting for?
Repugs say she will do nothing but cause trouble and lead to further economic disasters and Democrats believe that this is a sign that things will turn around for the economy and for the elections.
I personally support this. I know how brilliant she is at understanding our financial situation and I know that if given the resources and the power to implement changes that she will do wonderful things for our economy and for us.
I wonder who her first target will be. Will it be for-profit universities? Private student loans? Student loan default is now higher than credit card default and is far more costly. And is now effecting our financial stability.
Blackwater's Black Ops
September 15, 2010
Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater's work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater's owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.
One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the "intel arm" of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.
Governmental recipients of intelligence services and counterterrorism training from Prince's companies include the Kingdom of Jordan, the Canadian military and the Netherlands police, as well as several US military bases, including Fort Bragg, home of the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and Fort Huachuca, where military interrogators are trained, according to the documents. In addition, Blackwater worked through the companies for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the US European Command.
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How far does the greasy paws of Blackwater delve into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? War on Terror?
CIA, NSA, DIA, JSOC, DEA...I guess the question now is, what branch of our government and federal forces has Blackwater not trained or do business with?
President Barack Obama declared the end of combat operations in Iraq on Sept. 1 when the number of American troops fell below 50,000. Although their primary focus is on training Iraqi security forces, the remaining U.S. soldiers still take part in operations against insurgents at the request of the government.
The 50,000 Americans are also permitted to defend themselves and their bases, and they still frequently come under attack by insurgent groups using mortars, rockets and roadside bombs.
Insurgents have also intensified their strikes on Iraqi security forces as they shoulder greater responsibilities with the withdrawal of U.S. forces and in far northern Iraq, a roadside bomb killed nine Iraqi soldiers.
The raid in Fallujah, a former bastion of the Sunni-led insurgency located 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, took place around 2 a.m. when Iraqi special forces and American troops cordoned off a neighborhood before raiding several houses, police and hospital officials said.
Maj. Rob Phillips of the U.S. military's public affairs said American soldiers were helping Iraqi security forces in hunting down a senior al-Qaida operative, suspected of ties to the group's highest leadership in Iraq and believed to have been behind at least two major car bomb attacks.
Phillips said militants opened fire at the Iraqi security forces when they and the U.S. soldiers were approaching a building in which the suspected al-Qaida operative was hiding.
"The Iraqi security forces returned fired and killed four suspected militants," he said. Three militants were injured and four were detained by Iraqi forces.
"Two local residents who emerged with weapons and were engaged by the Iraqi forces, were also killed," he added. He did not know if the U.S. forces opened fire at any time during the firefight or the exact role that the advisers played in the incident.
Mohammed Jassim, an eyewitness to the raid, said the Iraqi troops told residents they were looking for an officer from Saddam's elite Republican Guard unit. "Minutes later, we heard shooting and then raiding forces broke into several houses," he said.
Fallujah police chief Brig. Gen. Mahmoud al-Essawi told the AP that local police did not participate in the raid.
"The commanders of the joint unit told us that they were conducting the raid with government's approval and they do not need the support of the local police," al-Essawi said.
The city's Municipal Council criticized the raid and said local security forces were deliberately excluded from the operation.
Thursday 16 September 2010
Bringing blasphemy back from the dead
As the pope arrives in Britain, the Advertising Standards Authority bans an anti-Catholic advert. Where are the protests?
‘The big beef we have with the Advertising Standards Authority is: who the fuck are they? Who is this shady cabal of people making moral judgements about our advertising? What authority do they have?’
This defiant message comes not from any well-known defender of people’s freedom, but from a spokesman for a UK-based ice-cream company, who was talking exclusively to spiked.
Recently, Antonio Federici ice-cream company produced an advert that featured a picture of a pregnant nun with a tub of ice-cream, beneath which it said ‘Immaculate Conception’. This mischievous, cheeky little ad appeared in magazines such as Grazia and Lady. And that, you would have thought, would have been that: some people might have laughed, some might have ignored it, others might have felt hungry. But that wasn’t the end of it. Unfortunately for Antonio Federici, eight readers got into a right raspberry ripple about the ad and decided to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Clearly delighted at having something illiberal to do, the ASA took up arms against Antonio Federici on behalf of the Courageous Eight and, yesterday, banned the advert.
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I wonder which ad they use for the billboards? I wonder what the Pope will think?
I really want to know when they come across the pond. If they are so ballsy to put up these adverts I want to eat their damn ice cream!
Which one is your favorite?
http://www.antoniofederici.com/ <- their badass website
As (will be) Seen on Salon.com
I created a video that is attached to this article titled "Black people and White people are different." It’s based on the popular style of jokes that permeated through out the 90's in comedy clubs across the country. You’ve probably heard some form of joke like “White people talk like this, Black people talk like that.” The interesting thing about the video title is that some people will become enraged and yell "Ugh, you're highlighting and promoting differences between races and this will do nothing more than to continue heighten the tensions that already exist!" Others will read the title and respond with an emotionally flat "Duh." A weird byproduct of the post-racialization of America is the desire that some have to stomp out anything that sticks out as "other" between the races. When one points out differences in treatment or experiences (like I do...regularly) they're immediately attacked and called a bigot or racist (like, well here on this site for example.)
As people try to erase the differences of between races they end up saying really silly things. A great example of this is the "I don't see color" meme. The point of this inane statement is to say that when they look at a person they see the content of their character not the color of their skin.
“Listen, if i saw that you were Black I’d have all sorts of negative thoughts and ideas about you but because I’m so above this I can’t even see that you are obviously a deep shade of Negro.”
The “I don’t see color” line is one of the most insulting and ridiculous things I hear come out of both Liberals and Conservatives. You can't see my "content" unless Google came out with yet another product that I'm not aware of (Content of Character Instant™.) Personally I don't want you to not see my color. I'm Black. In modern day America my "color" has shaped my experiences for better or worst. Most people of color don't need you too look past said color and differences. We need you to not judge us based on those things.
The idea that Black people and White people might be misunderstood by some. They take it as "Blacks and Whites are different and everyone else is the same" and that's not whats meant by it. Someone could write the headline "Straight people and Gay people are different" or "Scientist and Entertainers are different" and it would be equally as true. Our experiences create our perspectives and we live our lives based on our perspectives. The key is simply acknowledging that as opposed to trying to saying we're the same. 2 people in what some would call the exact same situation can have very different experiences based on their race, gender, sexuality or cultural background.
Please take a look at the latest episode of "This Week in Blackness" as I examine this a tad (read:way) further.
The pontiff praised Britain's fight against the Nazis - who "wished to eradicate God" - before relating it to modern day "atheist extremism".
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I really told myself I was past feeling shame, since I don't attend mass any more, and one of the chief reasons (there are three) I left was this man being elected Pope. But I think about my friends and loved ones -- the majority of whom, at this stage of my life, identify as atheist or non theist... and here's this ... guy... comparing them to Nazis. I just... I'll just say it gives me no pleasure at all to post this.
Anyway, so: VP Biden on the crazy lady from Delaware
VP Biden is fired up/ready to go!
On upcoming DADT repeal- "Everybody's looking for the orderly elimination of this law- I would rather it not end orderly, that it just end. Boom."
Capitalist storm clouds loom over Havana after state cuts 1m jobs
Cuban workers told to become entrepreneurs in bid to boost island's private sector
It was supposed to be the start of a brave new world in which the customer was king. But the teenage boy in the barber's chair stared at his reflection, aghast and almost crying. "What have you done?" he asked, caressing uneven clumps on a shorn scalp.
The barber, a fortysomething man with a grubby white coat, put down the scissors, lit a cigarette, and shrugged. "Looks OK to me. Don't know what you're on about."
The young customer examined his head from different angles, each worse than the last. "It's like …" – he struggled for words – "a tennis ball. A bald bloody tennis ball." The barber took another drag and put out his hand. "Forty pesos. Have a nice day."
The scene on Neptuno street, a crumbling, sun-bleached quarter near downtown Havana, was a taste of Cuba's challenge in transforming its socialist economy with a sweeping privatisation drive.
Authorities announced yesterday they will lay off more than 1 million state employees in the island's biggest economic shake-up since the 1960s. Cuts begin immediately, with 500,000 jobs due to go by March. Loosened controls on private enterprise will, it is hoped, jumpstart the private sector and turn former public workers into entrepreneurs.
"Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls [and] losses that hurt the economy," said the official Cuban labour federation, which announced the news.
"Job options will be increased and broadened with new forms of non-state employment, among them leasing land, co-operatives and self-employment, absorbing hundreds of thousands of workers in the coming years," it said.
In fact, the changes started in April with a pilot scheme to privatise barbers and hairdressers. Formerly state employees – about 85% of the labour force works for the communist state – they were told to take over their own salons, charge whatever they wanted, pay tax – and court customers.
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Very interesting. Here's a supplementary blog post about this that's pretty illuminating. Maybe now since Cuba's moving towards more of a Chinese model (i.e. nominally communist but with capitalist economy + dictatorship), travel restrictions can be lifted.
Thanks, Sarah Palin, for the Extra Senate Seat!
It's difficult to pinpoint a more obvious example of Sarah Palin's narcissistic political flailing than Christine O'Donnell's victory over Congressman Mike Castle in the Delaware primary yesterday. Palin's endorsement of O'Donnell was arguably one of the dumbest and most revealing stumbles of her improbable career -- not including her self-satirical word salads, of course.
Not unlike her alleged abuse-of-power as the half-term governor of Alaska, in which she apparently used her gubernatorial office to settle personal scores, the O'Donnell primary victory is, to date, the strongest indicator of how Palin might react from a position of national leadership: critical decisions would be governed by personal whimsy, vendettas, twisted ideology and entitled self-indulgence. (We've seen this before, haven't we?)
Fortunately for the, you know, whole world, it's highly doubtful that Palin will ever be elected president. But make sure to brace for impact if the stars align and she pulls it off.
Charles Pierce at Esquire spelled out the Delaware GOP nominee perfectly today: "Christine O'Donnell is a sideshow freak." She's a madcap professional candidate, running ostensibly for the attention and renown and not so much the victory -- calling into serious doubt O'Donnell's famous opposition to masturbation, by the way.
Yet Sarah Palin anointed her, practically leapfrogging the candidate over Mike Castle, and, more importantly, nullifying the near-term impact of a brutal radio talk show interview in which O'Donnell was caught red-handed in a hilarious slow-moving-train-wreck of a lie.
Christine O'Donnell has no chance of beating the Democratic candidate Chris Coons in the general election, short of some kind of earth-shattering scandal. What was going to be an easy Republican victory, with Mike Castle taking Vice President Biden's old Senate seat, is now very likely a solid Democratic win. Obviously, Sarah Palin didn't elevate O'Donnell because she's a viable candidate.
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Top Ten Quotes From Christine O'Donnell
The Sexual Evolution of Christine O'Donnell
How O'Donnell Thinks AIDS Gets Too Much Government Money, and Condoms Don't Help Anyway
Christine O'Donnell May Have Violated FED Regulations by Operating Without a Treasurer For Months at a Time
O'Donnell in 1996: Wanted to Investigate Bill Clinton for Murder
O'Donnell in 1997: Scientists Have Created Mice with Human Brains!
O'Donnell in 1998 on Politically Incorrect: Wouldn't Lie to Save Jews from Nazis
Note to Mods: I think we're going to need a Christine O'Donnell tag because it certainly looks like she's going to be a hot topic up to the mid-term elections.
ETA: I've added some additional links that have come up in the list above.
Here's another wonderful gem from Christine O'Donnell's past as a frequent guest on TV shows. Back in 1996, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich's finances were being investigated, O'Donnell complained that people were on a witch hunt to find anything to get Gingrich, instead of paying attention to serious ethics scandals -- like putting Bill Clinton on trial for the supposed murder of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster.
Back in the 1990s, a favorite right-wing conspiracy theory was the accusation that the Clintons had arranged the murder of Foster, a former law partner of Hillary Clinton, in the midst of the Whitewater investigations. Multiple investigations, including the work of Clinton-hunting independent counsel Kenneth Starr, have all concluded that Foster committed suicide. However, O'Donnell was squarely in the conspiracy camp back then.
During an appearance on C-Span -- the same interview previously highlighted by the Huffington Post, in which O'Donnell discussed the need to crack down on lewd pop culture -- O'Donnell complained about the ethics investigations of Gingrich.
"I think it's very interesting that President Clinton has come on a lot more charges and a lot more serious charges than what Newt Gingrich is being charged on, yet we're not making as big of an issue, we're not forcing that he go to trial," said O'Donnell. "We're not giving people like Paula Jones a fair trial, we're not giving the case of Vincent Foster a fair trial -- when there is a lot more empirical evidence that Clinton is involved in wrongdoing."
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Video at source
Early feminists fought against the centuries-old image of a “woman on a pedestal.” Gloria Steinem (she of the “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” who in later years ended up getting married anyway) once said, “A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.” I suppose a bra is also a small, confined space, which might explain the bra burnings of the 1960s. But the early feminists had a point – to a point. If a woman wants to be put on a pedestal and admired and adored, fine. But if she doesn’t, she should have the right to do with her life as she chooses. She should be free to pursue any vocation for which she is qualified, either as a single or married woman, children or no children.
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SOURCE is a repeat offender in media criticism fail
I'm leaving it up to you guys to sort this rant out. Good luck! Also, free internet cookies for the person who comes up with the best macro for the top of the entry.
By David Frum, CNN Contributor
Editor's note: David Frum writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A special assistant to President George W. Bush in 2001-02, he is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and is the editor of FrumForum.
(CNN) -- Which American politician of the past 25 years has had the most lasting influence? Ronald Reagan, with his vision of low taxes and limited government? The triangulating Bill Clinton? More and more I'm beginning to fear: It's Al Sharpton.
The Reverend Al, as the New York tabloids used to call him, had a genius for inventing ethnic conflict.
In the 1990s, he and his allies would frame incidents in ways brilliantly calculated to set New York's ethnic populations at each other's throats. New York became a theater of grievance. Everyone -- blacks, Korean-Americans, Jews, Italian-Americans, cops -- could feel himself or herself victimized at the hands of somebody else.
It was Sharpton who championed Tawana Brawley's false claims of gang rape -- and who accused investigators who doubted her claims of racial bias. When a complex dispute over tenancy at a Harlem store ignited protests, Sharpton was there to incite the protesters with denunciations of "white interlopers." The protests eventually culminated in a shooting rampage and firebombing that killed seven store employees. After that incident, Sharpton began work on changing his image. He lost weight, bought tailored clothes, launched a radio show and ran for president.
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...I am not touching this, other than to say unsurprised I am this guy worked for Bush, and that reading this and the source comments made me wish my keyboard had a smite key already.
Saturday Night Live Alum, Victoria Jackson.
The perfect Feminist is Sarah Palin.
She is beautiful, thin, even athletic, successful, happily married, a good mother and a grandmother. She’s got it all – everything those Suffragettes were fighting for back in 1920. Not only can she vote, she got voted for! And, she was a great Governor. She’s got everything those sixties Gloria Steinem’s wanted. But, the Gloria’s won’t admit it because Sarah thinks “right.” Liberals want tolerance, but only for themselves.
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She was on SNL for 6 years and I couldn't find a single one of her cast photos in Google Image Search.
Since Wisconsin won't let Ieshuh Griffin her put her campaign slogan, "NOT the white man's bitch," on the ballot in her run for a seat in the state Assembly, she's looking for other megaphones.
Last night, John Oliver gave her one on "The Daily Show."
"My statement of principle is, 'Not the white man's bitch,'" she tells Oliver.
"Let me just check. I asked you for your statement of principle, didn't I?" Oliver deadpans. "I didn't say, 'Suggest a possible title for the next Li'l Kim' album."
Audience laughter aside, Griffin says she's serious about doing a better job representing Milwaukee's 10th District than her Democratic opponent, Stephanie Findley. And Findley's not amused.
"I specialize in results."
But that's only four words, Oliver says. Add one more: "I specialize in results, bitch."
Findley wasn't laughing.
Griffin, meanwhile, is looking for some results from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where she's appealed a lower court's decision to keep the slogan off the ballot.
That judge "has a judicial disability because he refused to apply the law."
Video of the piece at the Source
Of course, Fox wanted in on the action, too...
The Tea Party’s victorious upstart Christine O’Donnell has paraded some “biblical” viewpoints in her pursuit of public office, equating a lack of school prayer with weekly school shootings and masturbation with adultery. Her extreme stances, along with her bizarre and unfounded attacks against the GOP’s mainstream candidate Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), have alienated traditional GOP operatives and conservative activists and pundits alike.
Today, New York Magazine dug up another of O’Donnell’s right-wing positions. Back on March 30, 1996 in her role as spokeswoman for the conservative Christian policy organization Concerned Women of America, O’Donnell “squared off” on CNN against a University professor to advocate for teaching creationism in the classroom. In trying to debunk “every legitimate scientist in the world,” O’Donnell insisted “hard evidence” proves evolution is “merely a theory” and God’s creation of the world in “six 24-hour periods” is fact:
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Most people (or all people) who say evolution is “just a theory” don’t understand what “theory” means in the scientific sense of the word and are unaware, whether willingly or not, of the huge mountains of verifiable facts supporting evolution. It’s managed to stay relevant in the scientific community and the whole world for 150 or so years and has yet to be proven conclusively false; that should say something about its strength. The thing with creationism and intelligent design is that it can’t be verified or falsified, which is why it can’t be considered a scientific theory, which is why evolution is a theory: it deals with hard evidence from which conclusions can be drawn, not a conclusion that’s already been decided and needs “evidence” to support it. Creationist dribble wouldn’t bother me so much if the people who believe in it so fiercely weren’t trying to push it in public schools and indoctrinate the nation’s youth into choosing blind faith and unsubstantiated belief over using logic and reason. That’s what scares me.
September 16, 2010: 1:46 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The nation's poverty rate jumped to 14.3% in 2009, its highest level since 1994, and the 43.6 million Americans in need is the highest number in 51 years of record-keeping, the government said Thursday.
The Office of Management and Budget defined the poverty threshold level as less than $21,954 for a family of four in 2009 and $10,956 for an individual. The poverty rate increased for all racial groups except Asians.
"The Census Bureau released data that illustrates just how tough 2009 was, " President Obama said in a statement.
"Even before the recession hit, middle class incomes had been stagnant and the number of people living in poverty in America was unacceptably high, and today's numbers make it clear that our work is just beginning," the president added.
Many Americans lost their jobs during 2009. The unemployment rate jumped from 7.7% at the beginning of the year to 10.1% by October, before inching down to 10% the rest of the year.
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Source - With a bonus video
A nice turn-around there in 2000. We definitely need to work harder on getting that money to trickle down. Sarcasm aside, this is incredibly sad and I find the increase in rates for children particularly concerning.
VANCOUVER, Wash — A woman who claimed she was the victim of an acid attack has admitted her injuries were self-inflicted, Vancouver, Wash., police said Thursday afternoon.
Police Chief Clifford Cook said at an afternoon news conference that Bethany Storro, 28, told detectives the truth during an interview after discrepancies emerged in her story.
Her interview was conducted after a search of her home, which she shares with her parents, police said. Interviews with her family are continuing, they said.
Police will turn over their findings to prosecutors who will decide if charges will be filed against Storro, 28.
They said they were not ready to discuss Storro's motivations. Storro is remorseful and in a "fragile mental state," police said.
Splash patterns and other parts of the story, like wearing sunglasses at night, led to the unraveling of Storro's story, Cook said.
"All things that didn't add up to the circumstance," Cook said.
The revelation followed the cancellation of Storro's scheduled Thursday appearance on "Oprah."
Storro originally claimed a black woman with a ponytail threw acid in her face at night on Aug. 30 as she was celebrating a new job and had just bought a pair of sunglasses.
Police said it was important to get the word of Storro's confession out immediately to assure the public knew that the Esther Park area of downtown Vancouver, scene of the alleged attack, was safe.
Just a week ago, NBC affiliate KGW TV of Portland, Ore., reported that a remarkably upbeat and candid Storro sat in front of reporters at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and described how a woman threw acid on her face.
She claimed her attacker said "Hey pretty girl, do you want to drink this?" before splashing the acid that burned her face.
Storro said she held the news conference then to draw attention to efforts to find the attacker, but also to talk about her faith.
"I'm here today because of Jesus Christ," she said at the time, adding that the strength of her faith would allow her to move forward.
There was a post a few days ago questioning whether she was attacked. Original Post
Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY), who is fighting to preserve the top-bracket tax cuts for at least a year, says he has somewhere between 25 and 50 members on his side. "I think the difference is there," he told TPM after a House vote yesterday afternoon.
McMahon is a signatory to a letter authored by Rep. Melissa Bean (D-IL) and others designed to pressure leaders to give wealthy Americans another tax break. His view represents a political and policy consensus shared by a significant, and vocal faction of the Democratic party -- a consensus that party leaders are doing little to weaken.
"Sometimes we forget how we became the majority. We did it by winning some affluent districts," Rep. Gerry Connolly told reporters earlier this month.
"I don't think anybody considers the notion of higher taxes for anybody as a good thing or a winning political strategy," McMahon said Wednesday.
"It's a winning issue in most districts," says a top Democratic strategist. But those districts where it's not are often represented by members, like McMahon, trying to show their independence from their leadership.
In McMahon's district, he says, a couple making $300,000 might still be living paycheck to paycheck. But freezing tax rates is important, in his view, to speed up the recovery nationally.
"It's about the psychology of the market makers," he argued. "And if you raise taxes now you're going to see a lot of people hold on to their money, maybe move it offshore, not invest in their companies."
That view is contrary to the one held by many leading economists and administration advisers, who argue that making sure low- and middle-income people have money to spend is the key to growth. But it is shared broadly by Democrats who want, at least temporarily, to extend tax cuts for the rich.
"The reality is that economic recovery frankly depends on people in the top bracket being very aggressive in terms of their spending and investing," said Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) in a brief interview with TPM yesterday afternoon. "It's just the reality. That's beyond politics. It's just a fundamental matter of economics."
Davis is retiring after losing the Democratic primary for governor in his state earlier this year. Freed from political constraints, he still wants to extend tax cuts for wealthy people for at least a year.
"There is obviously some political value in Democrats framing this as a defense of the middle class, versus Republicans who are only concerned about the wealthy," Davis conceded. "[But] Democrats almost never win a fight about taxes. I can't think of an election where Democrats have won a fight about taxes. If the subject is taxes, Democrats are usually in trouble."
These members votes will be crucial if Democrats are going to pursue President Obama's plan. He's suggested a course that will make Republicans answer two separate questions: whether they support continuing tax cuts for everybody up to their first $250,000; and whether they support extra tax cuts benefiting only people making more than $250,000.
McMahon doesn't want to do it that way. "I think we should do it all together."
Leadership, for now, won't say how they're dealing with the dissent.
"One-hundred percent of Americans will benefit by not having taxes on the first $250,000 of income increase," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters yesterday in response to a question from TPMDC. "Members have to argue beyond that what their view is."
"They are taking, they need to take, the position they believe is in the best interest of the country," Hoyer added. "We're having a lot of discussions on where we're going to go."
IMO, the two vote plan is the best plan. And poll after poll shows a majority in favor of letting the tax cuts for the rich expire - like they were meant to do - and this is still up for debate. Interesting.
And I'm sorry, McMahon, but what have the rich been doing with their money the last ten years? That's right, holding onto it, not spending it, corporations aren't creating jobs ... so that entire theory is crap.
Long before Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell rocked the Delaware GOP by upending establishment favorite Mike Castle, she founded a group named the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth (SALT). SALT focuses on promoting Christian morality among Generation X and places particular emphasis on always telling the truth. In 1998, while O’Donnell was a guest on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, she elaborated on this point, arguing that “telling the truth is always the right thing to do, I believe, and that’s what always gets you out of a situation.”
Comedian Eddie Izzard pressed her on just how far she would take her anti-lying beliefs. Izzard asked O’Donnell whether or not she would lie to Nazis who showed up at her door during WWII and demanded to know if she were hiding any Jewish people in her house. O’Donnell refused to even entertain the notion of concealing the truth from Nazis in that scenario because “you never have to practice deception”:
O’DONNELL: A lie, whether it be a lie or an exaggeration, is disrespect to whoever you’re exaggerating or lying to, because it’s not respecting reality.
MAHER: Quite the opposite, it can be respect.
IZZARD: What if someone comes to you in the middle of the Second World War and says, ‘do you have any Jewish people in your house?’ and you do have them. That would be a lie. That would be disrespectful to Hitler.
O’DONNELL: I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that!
MAHER: God is not there. Hitler’s there and you’re there.
O’DONNELL: You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out.
In addition to the fact that O’Donnell’s unwillingness to lie about the Jews’ whereabouts would have almost certainly resulted in their capture and imprisonment, an important question must be asked: Does O’Donnell believe that those brave Gentile families who hid Jews from the Nazis weren’t righteous because they practiced deception?
At the end of the show, O’Donnell also proclaimed that “we took the Bible and prayer out of public schools, now we’re having weekly shootings practically.” Watch here:
I got NOTHIN'. Just ... wow.
By Michelle Dicinoski
In the state of Queensland, a young woman may face seven years in prison for allegedly taking the abortifacient RU486. Michelle Dicinoski, PhD, looks into the pro-choice advocates rallying around her case.
By rights, 20-year-old Tegan Leach should be living a regular, anonymous life. Instead, because she procured her own medical (non-surgical) abortion in Cairns, Australia, Leach has been charged with a crime that carries a seven-year jail term, and details of the charge and the events surrounding it have been widely published in print and online. Leach’s 22-year-old partner, Sergei Brennan, faces the possibility of three years in prison for assisting her.
Cairns is located in the state of Queensland, where it is a crime for a woman to procure a miscarriage by unlawfully “administer[ing] to herself any poison or other noxious thing,” or through “force of any kind,” or, in fact, through “any other means whatever.” Abortion is permitted in Queensland only if the woman’s physical or mental health would be at risk if she proceeded with the pregnancy. The breadth of interpretation that this provision allows has meant women can access abortion with relative ease in Queensland—relative ease, that is, for women who live near the metropolitan area or a regional center, and who can afford to pay. But the Leach case proves that the law provides inadequate protection for women who seek abortions and the doctors who treat them.
When Leach discovered she was pregnant, she and Brennan consulted a doctor to arrange a termination. Surgical abortion was the only option that the doctor suggested, even though medical abortion is as legal—or illegal—as surgical abortion in Queensland.
Leach and Brennan sought advice from their mothers, and also from Brennan’s sister, who lives in the Ukraine. Leach felt that she would prefer a medical abortion. Brennan’s sister, who herself had experienced a medical abortion, allegedly brought RU486 with her into the country a short while later, around Christmas 2008. Unaware that she was committing a crime, Leach took the drugs and ended the pregnancy.
Some time later, police searched Leach and Brennan’s premises on an unrelated matter, discovered the empty packaging that the pills had come in, and charged Leach and Brennan.
Caroline de Costa, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cairns’s James Cook University, has taken a particular interest in the Leach case. In her book Never, Ever, Again, Dr. de Costa points out that the laws under which Tegan Leach was charged were taken directly from the English “Offences Against the Person” act of 1861. These laws are 150 years old—and, de Costa notes, “Leach is almost certainly the first Queensland woman to be charged with procuring an abortion for herself.”
When Leach and Brennan were first charged, Queensland doctors ceased providing medical abortions entirely, for fear that they, too, would be charged. Women seeking medical abortions then had to travel interstate to access them. The law was subsequently amended to address these concerns but, Dr. de Costa says, still lacks clarity.
Leach’s trial is significant, says de Costa, because “this young woman allegedly made the kind of rational decision for herself that thousands of Australian women make every day. She acted upon it and yes, what she allegedly did was illegal, but she was not aware that she could access medical abortion legally, or at least relatively so, in Cairns; the law in Queensland then (in 2008) was extremely unclear and remains so despite the minor changes made by the government in September 2009.”
Emma Tovell from the Pro-Choice Action Collective states: “The committal hearing in September last year heard that the prosecution does not have to prove that the woman was pregnant, or even that the pills she took were real, but only that she had ‘abortive intent’ and that [Brennan] assisted her in that intent. If she is found guilty, then all kinds of women’s services, and women themselves, could be found to be breaking the law in all kinds of ways.”
If women are to have access to safe abortion, without risking a criminal charge, the law needs to be changed—not just in Queensland, but across Australia. Dr. de Costa says, “Abortion is a health issue and all Australian women should have equal access to information, counseling (if they want it), and abortion services, and this should be a Commonwealth responsibility.”
The law must be changed to ensure that other women who make the same choice as Tegan Leach need never suffer through what Leach is experiencing right now: a very public battle over a very private matter. You can sign the Radical Women petition, or visit the Pro-Choice Action Collective site or the Facebook group to pass on messages of support for Leach and Brennan. Rallies will occur on October 9, ahead of the trial on October 12.
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author alone and do not represent WMC. WMC is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse candidates.
This is terrible news.
THE CNN-TIME-ORC survey of likely voters in Ohio reveals much broader advantages for Republicans in both the Senate and governor races, while Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is faring better in Washington, where she has a nine-point edge over Republican Dino Rossi.
Most striking is how closely fought the Nevada Senate race remains. The poll in that race, which pits the most powerful Democrat in the Senate against former state assembly member Angle - shows that Angle is capturing 42% of likely voters polled to Reid's 41%, a statistical dead heat. Angle's standing against Reid comes despite the fact that there's an official Tea Party candidate on the ballot who might be expected to siphon away votes from her. But Scott Ashjian is backed by only 5% of those polled. (See portraits of the Tea Party movement.)
There is a striking gender difference among those polled in Nevada. Women go for Reid by a 51-33 margin, while men back Angle, 49-32. With both parties' bases mobilized and overwhelmingly backing their nominee, the critical ground will be fought over independent swing voters. Angle wins here, collecting 40% compared to Reid's 33%. Among self-described moderates, Reid holds sway, 57-23, while Angle has a big margin among conservatives, 72-13. Reid wins among those who attended college (44-40) as well as those making less than $50,000 a year (45-31). But Angle prevails among those with no college experience (44-37). They're evenly divided among voters making more than $50,000.
The Democrats face what appears to be deepening trouble on two fronts in Ohio. Republican Rob Portman, a former congressman from Cincinnati and a trade and budget official in George W. Bush's Administration, leads Democratic Lieut. Gov. Lee Fisher 52-41, among likely voters for Republican George Voinovich's Senate seat. There is, as in Nevada, a big gender gap among men polled - they favor Portman, 61-35. Women favor Fisher, 47-44. Portman wins among rural, suburban, college-educated, not-college-educated - the only educational/income group he loses to Fisher is among those making less than $50,000 a year, 49-46. Portman also does well among independents, who favor him 59-30, and Tea Party supporters, who give him a 91-6 edge. (See the results of a TIME poll for three key senate races.)
Incumbent Democratic governor Ted Strickland lags GOP challenger and former congressman John Kasich 51-44. As in the Senate race, men favor the Republican, 57-39, while women tilt Democratic, 49-46.
Murray is the lone bright spot among Democrats in the poll, carrying a 53-44 lead over Republican challenger Rossi among likely voters. Men barely favor the Republican, 50-48, but women overwhelmingly support Murray, 58-37. They split the independent vote, with Murray holding a 47-46 edge over Rossi, a former state senator and twice unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate. Unfortunately for Murray's party, the recent conventional wisdom in political circles doesn't pay attention to her state. Since 2004, the oft-heard refrain is "As goes Ohio, so goes the nation." In the race to become Nevada's next governor, Reid's son, Rory, fares worse than his father: he is 27 points behind Republican Brian Sandoval. The senior Reid wins backing from 8% of self-identified Tea Party supporters; his son gets 9%.
All three polls were conducted via telephone by Opinion Research Corp. Sept. 10-14. In Nevada, 789 likely voters were queried; in Ohio, 820 likely voters; and in Washington, 906 likely voters. They share a margin of error of 3.5%.
CLIFFORD COONAN in Beijing
TENSIONS have been ratcheted up between Asia’s two powerhouses, China and Japan, after a Chinese boat captain was arrested in disputed waters, reviving mutual distrust over sovereignty and undermining efforts to resolve a row about control of valuable undersea energy reserves.
China’s relationship with Japan is often problematic, as resentment about Japan’s behaviour during the period it occupied China, from 1931 to 1945, persists.
Chinese influence in the region is growing, with the country having recently overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.
The disputed territory centres on islands 190km east of Taiwan,called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. They are controlled by Japan, but also claimed by Taiwan and China.
The diplomatic dispute was sparked last week when Japanese coastguards chased a Chinese trawler which entered waters near the islands, and arrested the captain after the Chinese vessel collided with two Japanese patrol boats. The captain could face prosecution, although the trawler and its 14-member crew have returned to China.
Meanwhile, police are preparing for possible anti-Japan demonstrations on Saturday, the 79th anniversary of the 1931 “Mukden Incident” that led to the Japanese occupation of China’s northeast.
Protesters deny they are gearing up for trouble. Online messages calling for demonstrations appeared to have been deleted from various websites, which could be a sign that Beijing is worried the rallies could get out of hand.
In 2004, there were violent anti-Japan riots over the publication of a history textbook in Japan that the Chinese said minimised atrocities carried out during the 1931- 1945 occupation. Japanese businesses were attacked and Japanese-made products destroyed in the incidents, marking a low point since relations were normalised in 1972.
Tokyo said yesterday that the row should not be tied to talks over undersea gas beds near the islands claimed by both sides.
Beijing postponed talks with Japan on contested undersea deposits in the East China Sea last week because of the incident. The talks would have been the second meeting over gas exploration related to the territorial dispute.Source: The Irish Times
We previously noted that O'Donnell had attacked her primary opponent, Congressman Mike Castle, based on his support for stem-cell research. But it turns out that her interest in the subject goes back much further. As Little Green Footballs has spotted, O'Donnell appeared in 2007 on The O'Reilly Factor, to speak out against such research in response to the cloning of some monkeys. Then came her warning on human-mouse hybrids.
"They are -- they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they're already into this experiment."
It's possible that O'Donnell was misremembering this 2005 report on scientists who successfully grew human brain cells within mice -- which is not the same as an actual functioning human brain, but a demonstration that human brain cells can be made from stem cells.
However, there is also some other stunning video evidence proving O'Donnell's dire warnings, and the potential terrible consequences for not only America, but indeed the whole world. Check it out [at the source --OP]
Source: Talking Points Memo
I know there have been a lot of "Hey guys, Christine O'Donnell is crazy" posts in the past two days, but this is truly exceptional. Little Green Footballs has more context.
In other news, I just donated to Chris Coons. I cannot even believe this lunatic beat Mike Castle in anything ever.
For fans of "The Daily Show," the news gets better. Stephen Colbert is participating, too. He's also holding a rally on October 30. It's called "The March to Keep Fear Alive," in keeping with his right-wing talk show host persona on "The Colbert Report."
At one point, Stewart called his event a "million moderate march."
The "Rally to Restore Sanity" website features a button with the warning, "Don't Click Here." By clicking the button, the viewer is transported to "The March to Keep Fear Alive."
On the "Sanity" site is the message, "Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs? Seriously, who? Because we're looking for those people. We're looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat."
On "Keep Fear Alive," readers are treated to the message, "America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear -- that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty."
The “Families First Immigration Enforcement Act of 2010” calls for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to give state agencies advanced notice before an immigration raid so they can provide translators for the detainees.
The Kerry bill would also require ICE to check detainees to see if any should be released on the grounds that they are too sick, too old, pregnant or nursing, or fall under other vulnerable groups.
A third provision of the bill requires illegal immigrants to be detained near their local ICE office – space permitting – to prevent them from being sent hundreds of miles away from their families.
Kerry said ICE raids across the country, including a 2007 raid in his home state of Massachusetts where 360 workers were detained, triggered reports of detainee mistreatment, families being broken apart, and social and legal services being unavailable.
“This bill represents the humane approach needed to allow ICE to enforce the law without inflicting undue pain and suffering,” Kerry said in a statement Tuesday. “I've heard way too many stories about detainees being denied medical care, or access to a dependent child, elderly parent, or translator. There is no excuse for violations of basic human rights.
“Every person should be treated with common decency while we continue the fight for comprehensive immigration reform,” he added.
At Boston’s Fenway Park, Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas joined 5,200 new citizens from nearly 150 countries in celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
“I am proud to welcome these men and women who have come from all over the world to become the newest citizens of our nation,” Napolitano said in a statement. “Our social, economic, and civic vitality needs the contributions, the perspectives, and the experiences of all Americans—including our newest Americans.”