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Hardball: Christopher Hitchens vs Ken Blackwell on the US Being a Christian Nation

Friday, April 10, 2009

By Heather
Crooks and Liars



From Hardball April 8, 2009. Ken Blackwell tries to make up for being clueless by not shutting up when he has no idea what he's talking about. He's so outgunned by Hitchens that this is hardly a fair fight. I'm surprised Blackwell even agreed to this debate at all.

Blackwell said he'd gladly come back and debate Hitchens again with some facts to back up his talking points. Anyone want to take odds on whether that will ever happen?

Blackwell's tactics in this segment are typical for Republicans. When someone tries to stop you from lying, get snitty and accuse them of trying to "Bogart" your time if they interrupt you, as he did here. Then talk and talk to run out the clock in these ridiculous debate boxes the MSM thinks passes for some sort of "balance". Once you've run out as much of the time for the segment as you can get away with, the other person has thirty seconds to try to debunk the last few minutes of B.S. you just spewed. Which of course they can't do. And then...oh so sorry we're out of time from the host. Come back later and we'll do it again....(Click for original.)

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AP Ups Stupidity Quotient Another 16,000 Notches

By Kos
Daily Kos


Is there anything more stupid than the AP threatening an AP affiliate for embedding video from the AP's YouTube channel? It's doubtful.
Here is another great moment in A.P. history. In its quest to become the RIAA of the newspaper industry, the A.P.’s executives and lawyers are beginning to match their counterparts in the music industry for cluelessness. A country radio station in Tennessee, WTNQ-FM, received a cease-and-desist letter from an A.P. vice president of affiliate relations for posting videos from the A.P.’s official Youtube channel on its Website.
No, it's not a story from the Onion, and it's no longer April Fools Day.
Frank Strovel, an employee at the radio station who tried to talk some sense into the A.P. executive Twittered yesterday:

I was on the phone arguing w/ AP today. We were embedding their YouTube vids on our station’s site. We’re an AP affiliate.

And then added:

They asked us to taken them down. I asked, “Why do you have a YouTube page w/ embed codes for websites?” Still... they said NO.

The story was picked up by the Knoxville News, and then by a local video producer Chrisitian Grantham, who captured the following Skype interview with Strovel in the video below (which is not an A.P. video, so I am going to embed it). Strovel notes that the A.P. accused the station of “stealing their licensed content.” He sounds flumoxed, as he should be. This back and forth during the interview says it all:

Strovel: And we’re an A.P. affiliate for crying out loud! I stumped him on that one. . . . What is really shocking is that they were shocked that they’ve got a YouTube channel that people are embedding on their Websites. He seemed shocked by that. ‘Oh, I am going to have to look into that” is what he told me.

Grantham: What an idiot!

Strovel: I know, I know.
(Click for remainder.)

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Teabag Party!

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Vatican Justice

Pedophile priests can stay in the Church, but priests who ordain women may be excommunicated

By Bill Frogameni
Ms. Magazine


WHAT HAPPENS IF A Catholic priest molests children?

Usually, he’s protected by the Church hierarchy. Maybe he’ll eventually have his parish or diocese taken away, or be switched to another one—often after years of serial abuse. But there’s a good chance he’ll stay in the Church.

So what happens if a Catholic priest publicly supports ordaining women? Well, then he’s excommunicated on the double.

“Nearly 5,000 Catholic priests [in the U.S.] have sexually abused over 12,000 Catholic children…but they were not excommunicated,” says Father Roy Bourgeois, who faced the latter scenario after helping celebrate what the Vatican considers to be an illegitimate ordination mass in August 2008. Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart who became a prominent peace activist, stood with the trailblazers of the female ordination movement in Lexington, Ky., to make Janice Sevre-Duszynska a Catholic priest.

For thumbing his nose at one of the most sacred tenets of the conservative hierarchy—that only men are worthy of the priesthood—Bourgeois was swiftly rebuked by the Vatican in a letter two months later, telling him he had 30 days to renounce his actions or face excommunication.

After his deadline passed without a definitive word, Bourgeois told Ms. that his heart wouldn’t allow him to cave in to the Vatican. “Deeper than the hurt, the sadness, there’s a peace that comes from knowing I followed my conscience in addressing this great injustice,” he said.

Still, Bourgeois wanted to question the Pope: “Who are we as men to say that our call to the priesthood is valid, but yours as women is not?” Given that 64 percent of American Catholics in a 2005 AP/Ipsos poll agreed that women should be ordained, they might ask the pope the same thing. But the Vatican, despite parish closings across America and a 30 percent decline in priests between 1965 and 2000, doesn’t seem ready for that question.

“The church believes that the intent of Jesus’ founding of the priesthood is that it was reserved for men,” explained Sister Mary Anne Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But, speaking for the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Bridget Mary Meehan, herself ordained in 2006 and subsequently excommunicated, disputes that teaching. “Jesus never ordained anyone,” says Meehan. “And in the tradition, women were ordained deacons, priests and bishops for the first 1,200 years.”...(Click for remainder.)

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"Tea Bagging" Rallies Ruthlessly Mocked On Maddow Show

By Jason Linkins
The Huffington Post


Tonight, on the Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow and regular guest, Air America's Ana Marie Cox, discussed the fringetastic anti-tax Renaissance Faires known as "tea parties." There is only one thing in all the world worth noting about the people behind these things, and it is this: everyone involved is apparently unaware of what the term "teabagging" means. As you will see, this is not the case with Maddow and Cox.

"Now, no laughing off set or I will lose it!" begged Maddow, "I'm only barely making it through as it is." She said this BEFORE Cox joined the segment. From there, it just got better: "Who wouldn't want to tea bag John McCain?" Cox asked. "This is all part of the midterm strategy," added. You know it's going to be teabagging 24/7 when it comes to the midterms." And it shall be. Of this you can be certain.

I really do not have to say anything more. You all enjoy this, now. I'm just going to show myself out. Good night!



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G.O.P.: R.I.P.

By Steven Weber
The Huffington Post


So there it stands: a naked, pigeon-chested old man, random strands of white hair on its boney shoulders; its swollen-knuckled hands clasped over its dead genitals, looking at once forlorn and menacing, shivering with self-loathing and xenophobia, raging pathetically at its timely and appropriate defeat at the hands of Reason.

Ladies and gentlemen: The Republican Party.

With every passing day, the people who stubbornly, maddeningly cling to an obsolete ideal and who stand in the way of the cultural advancement of this country, this America, spew the base reality of their caustic ideology into the air.

The Republican Party is like a dying tyrant, mad with syphilis, ironically like that very Stalin they would accuse their enemies of associating with. How else to account for their desperation to resurrect the wraith of Joseph McCarthy; the hammy and baffling utterances from high level party officials like Boehner and McConnell; the blatant desire on their part to let the country fail out of sheer resentment; the wanton sedition of Conservative shit-stirrers ranging from the quasi Madame Defarge Michele Bachmann to the porcine, Goebbels-esque Limbaugh?

It is an all out assault on reason, on progress, on truth. What is the difference between the Republican Party and, say, the Taliban? A rogue by any other name would smell as rank. Their frantic accusations all churned out in a futile effort to explain their current pariah status is as pathetic and draconian as stoning a woman in the street....(Click for remainder.)

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Torn Apart By DOMA

By Emma Ruby-Sachs
The Huffington Post


Stacy Beardsley and Karla Thomas met three and a half years ago at a friend's birthday party. Two months later, they were dating and now, three and half years after that night, they live together in a house in north Chicago with their two black labs Kobi and Maddi (just nine weeks old).

They are like any other couple.

Stacy, a former public school principal, now works to design academic curricula for schools in the city. Karla is a Engineering project manager for an international cosmetics company. At the end of the work day they might meet up with their neighbors to walk the dogs or work on the small yard in front of their home.

Two weeks ago Karla's entire department was eliminated due to cut costs and now, as a Trinidadian citizen on an H1B visa, she will have to leave the country once her employment terminates. She has only a few months to find a job that is willing to take on the burden and currently heavily publicized stigma of sponsoring a foreign worker on an H1B visa or she will be forced to return to Trinidad alone.

Their story was supposed to go much differently....(Click for remainder.)

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Iowa House Democrats Refuse to Debate Gay Marriage Ban

By desmoinesdem
My DD


Following up on my last post, Iowa House Democrats rejected a second effort on Thursday to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the floor for debate.

On Thursday morning Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy ruled out of order an attempt to bring House Joint Resolution 6 to the floor. The bill was not approved by any House committee before the "funnel" deadline that passed last month. Republicans wanted to suspend the rules to allow the bill to be debated, but as the Des Moines Register explained,
Murphy's ruling today stemmed from the fact that the House cannot suspend rules it has enacted jointly with the Senate. House members can only suspend their own rules.

The only way to suspend the joint rules is for someone to introduce a resolution in the Rules and Administration Committee. If it starts in the House, then there's a vote in House committee and in the full House. If it passes, it goes to Senate committee then a vote of the full Senate.
Republicans vowed not to give up, and during this afternoon's debate, Representative Chris Rants offered an amendment that
would have gutted a $1.25 billion health and human services bill, House File 811, and replaced it with a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Murphy ruled the amendment out of order, but Rants called for a suspension of the rules so his amendment could be debated. The motion to suspend failed on a 54-44 vote, with two Democrats voting with Republicans: Dolores Mertz and Geri Huser. Mertz is a co-sponsor of HJR 6 and a generally lousy Democrat (see here and here). I also learned today from Daily Kos commenter Queen Boudica that Mertz is active with the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. Geri Huser is a business-friendly Democrat who won't back key legislative priorities for organized labor. Shame on them for trying to sacrifice a health care bill in order to pass an amendment that would put discrimination in our state constitution....(Click for remainder.)

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Ex-Bush Officials May Be Indicted in Spain This Week For Torture

By William Fisher
The Public Record


Human rights organizations and legal scholars are applauding the efforts of Spanish lawyers in seeking the indictment of six former officials of the administration of President George W. Bush in connection with the torture of detainees at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay prison.

Spanish prosecutors may decide this week whether to proceed with an investigation. The prosecutors were asked to review the case by Baltasar Garzon, the crusading investigative judge who ordered the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

The official said that it was “highly probable” that the case would go forward and that it could lead to arrest warrants.

Garzon asked for the review following a complaint filed by Spanish human rights lawyers, who could pursue the case in court even if prosecutors decide not to take it further. This occurred in the Pinochet case.

The U.S. officials involved in the investigation include former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote secret legal opinions saying President George W. Bush had the authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy; William Haynes II, former general counsel for the Department of Defense; Jay Bybee, Yoo's former boss at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and now a Federal judge; and David Addington, chief of staff and legal adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The investigation would likely focus on whether these officials violated international law by providing a legal justification for the torture. It was triggered by a complaint filed by the Association for the Dignity of Inmates, a Spanish legal rights organization....(Click for remainder.)

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N.H. Job Fair Crowds Get Out of Hand

By David Tirrell-Wysocki
Associated Press via ABC News


MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Three generations of job seekers — more than 10,000 — descended on a job fair at a New Hampshire college gymnasium Thursday, jamming traffic for miles and forcing organizers to cut off admission to the event after just two hours.

Officials shut down shuttle bus service from a nearby mall to the overwhelmed Southern New Hampshire University campus by noon, several hours before the heavily publicized event was to end.

Job applicants ranging from college students to unemployed executives in their 60s waited in seemingly endless lines for buses to the event, then to speak with recruiters, then for buses back to their cars. Police Lt. Maureen Tessier gave an unofficial crowd estimate of more than 10,000, and many hundreds more were turned away.

"People are very serious about employment and not just running around grabbing goodies for the sake of filling up goodie bags," said Don Legere, who was looking to hire people for his financial services firm Modern Woodmen of America.

He was seeing about 25 people an hour, looking to hire two to four people immediately and another six to eight by the end of the year.

"I've seen a lot of good, quality people," he said.

Maureen Maslanka, 52, of Nashua, was laid off in September from an electronics job. She said she left the event, her first job fair, "a little optimistic."

"I spoke with the people that I've been sending resumes over and over and over to," she said. "So I got to give it to them by hand."

Chris Duchaine, 32, of Johnson, Vt., got shut out because of the gridlock.

Duchaine and a friend drove to Manchester after dropping off resumes at a job fair in Massachusetts Thursday morning, but he got there after the shuttle buses stopped running. Duchaine joked that he met people in line in Massachusetts who already had been to the Manchester event....(Click for remainder.)

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CIA Chief Leon Panetta Orders Closure of Secret Rendition Sites

By Ed Pilkington
The Guardian UK


The head of the CIA moved yesterday to formalise the new Obama administration's break with the past in its approach to national security, when he ordered the final decommissioning of secret overseas sites where the US had held, and in some cases tortured, al-Qaida prisoners.

Leon Panetta told the agency's staff that he was overturning one of the causes of complaint of human rights groups about detentions of terrorist suspects under the Bush regime: the use of private contractors to secure prisoners. From now on private security firms will no longer have any role in the sites, a shift that has the added benefit of saving the CIA some $4m (£2.7m).

The rejection of the services of private security firms in itself marks a clean break with past practices. During the Bush era, contractors enjoyed a bonanza – particularly in Iraq, where they were used to perform many of the roles of the overstretched military.

Panetta said that the sites – which are now empty, having received no new detainees since he took over the agency in February – would be decommissioned under the auspices of the agency itself. His announcement puts into practice the signal given by President Obama on the second day of his administration that he would have the facilities closed....(Click for remainder.)

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Anti-Piracy Operations: Game On?

By Nathan Hodge
Danger Room @ Wired.com


A standoff in the Indian Ocean is continuing after an attack by Somali pirates on a U.S.-flagged container ship. Pirates fled the ship after they were overpowered by the vessel's crew, but the ship's captain, Richard Phillips, is being held hostage in a lifeboat. The destroyer USS Bainbridge is tracking the lifeboat; the Navy has now summoned the FBI's hostage rescue experts.

This is reportedly the first time a U.S.-flagged ship has been attacked by pirates in 200 years; it will be a major test of the U.S. Navy's determination to quell piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Back in January, Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, head of the pirate-fighting Combined Task Force 151, boasted that the ships under his command had been successful in curbing piracy off of Somalia's coast. Pointing to a drop in hijackings in December after a spike last fall, he said: "The pirates know we're out here, so they're going to try their best to avoid us."

Over the past few weeks, however, there has been a surge of pirate activity. Reuters says pirates attacked least 15 vessels off the coast of Somalia in March; five of those attacks occurred over the last eight days. And as Bloomberg notes, ships have almost always been released in exchange for a ransom; the only ship to be freed by force was a French vessel seized by French commandos in September....(Click for remainder.)

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Why Is Obama Alienating His Base

By William Fisher
The Public Record


Do you remember how thrilled we were when we heard our new President say:

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

In addition to being thankful to finally have a president who seemed thoughtful, and who spoke English in whole and understandable sentences, his words meant Bush’s Era of Secret Government was over

Gone was the bumbling Bush rhetoric that made us the butt of the world’s jokes. Gone was the swagger of ‘bring it on.’ Gone was the “you’re either with us or you’re against us” Crusader’s mantra.

It was, again, morning in America!

And the president gave us more than just words. He gave us proof that he was really serious. He ordered Guantanamo shuttered within a year. He closed the CIA’s secret black sites. He ordered a case-by-case review of every outstanding Guantanamo case to determine what to do with each of the prisoners there.

He said, “The United States doesn’t torture.” And, unlike his predecessor, he sounded credible....(Click for remainder.)

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Obama Looking At Cooling Air To Fight Global Warming

Global Warming So Dire, We May Need to Use Technology to Cool Climate

By Seth Borenstein
The Associated Press via ABC News


WASHINGTON -- Tinkering with Earth's climate to chill runaway global warming — a radical idea once dismissed out of hand — is being discussed by the White House as a potential emergency option, the president's new science adviser said Wednesday.

That's because global warming is happening so rapidly, John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month.

The concept of using technology to purposely cool the climate is called geoengineering. One option raised by Holdren and proposed by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays.

Using such an experimental measure is only being thought of as a last resort, Holdren said.

"It's got to be looked at," he said. "We don't have the luxury ... of ruling any approach off the table."

His concern is that the United States and other nations won't slow global warming fast enough and that several "tipping points" could be fast approaching. Once such milestones are reached, such as complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it increases chances of "really intolerable consequences," he said.

Twice in a half-hour interview, Holdren compared global warming to being "in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog."

He and many experts believe that warming of a few degrees more would lead to disastrous drought conditions and food shortages in some regions, rising seas and more powerful coastal storms in others.

At first, Holdren characterized the potential need to technologically tinker with the climate as just his personal view. However, he went on to say he has raised it in administration discussions.

"We're talking about all these issues in the White House," Holdren said. "There's a very vigorous process going on of discussing all the options for addressing the energy climate challenge."

Holdren said discussions include Cabinet officials and heads of sub-Cabinet level agencies, such as NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency....(Click for remainder.)

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Gates Proposes Military Weapons Cuts

By Anne Gearan
Associated Press via Time.com


Defense Secretary Robert Gates is recommending a broad overhaul of military spending that would start almost immediately and slash giant weapons programs and the private sector jobs that go with them.

The Pentagon should stop buying a futuristic jet fighter that hasn't fought a day in either Iraq or Afghanistan, scrap an expensive new presidential helicopter and spend more money on tools soldiers can use now, Gates said Monday.

The Defense chief said he is gearing Pentagon buying plans to the smaller, lower-tech battlefields the military is facing now and seems likely to confront in the coming years. (Read "Gates Takes Aim at Military Pork".)

With rising unemployment rates and a global economic funk, Congress is unlikely to go along with many of the cuts in Gates' proposed $534 billion budget for the 2010 budget year, which would be an increase over the $513 billion for 2009. "I am extremely disappointed in this decision by the Obama administration," said [ignorant dumbass] Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said of the proposal to quit buying the F-22 Raptor plane beyond 187 already planned. "America has maintained air dominance in every conflict since the Korean War, and now this administration is willing to sacrifice the lives of American military men and women for the sake of domestic programs favored by President Obama," Chambliss said. (Read "Gates Proposes Big Shift in Pentagon Spending".)...(Click for remainder.)

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Making Banking Boring

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


Thirty-plus years ago, when I was a graduate student in economics, only the least ambitious of my classmates sought careers in the financial world. Even then, investment banks paid more than teaching or public service — but not that much more, and anyway, everyone knew that banking was, well, boring.

In the years that followed, of course, banking became anything but boring. Wheeling and dealing flourished, and pay scales in finance shot up, drawing in many of the nation’s best and brightest young people (O.K., I’m not so sure about the “best” part). And we were assured that our supersized financial sector was the key to prosperity.

Instead, however, finance turned into the monster that ate the world economy.

Recently, the economists Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef circulated a paper that could have been titled “The Rise and Fall of Boring Banking” (it’s actually titled “Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry, 1909-2006”). They show that banking in America has gone through three eras over the past century....(Click for remainder.)

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Detainees Were Tortured Before Justice Department Gave CIA Legal Authorization

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


CIA Director Leon Panetta has emerged as one of the chief apologists for the agency’s involvement in the Bush administration’s sadistic interrogations practices, stating that agency officials who participated in the systematic torture of “war on terror” prisoners should not be subject to any investigation, let alone prosecution, because they were following legal advice provided by the Justice Department.

However, claims by Panetta and former Bush administration officials that the CIA acted in accordance with existing legal advice when they subjected detainees to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and other brutal techniques were seriously undercut Thursday in a letter sent to a federal court judge in which Lev Dassin, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who said for the first time that 92 interrogation videotapes the CIA destroyed were made between April and December 2002.

The Justice Department legal opinion authorizing specific methods, including waterboarding, was not issued until Aug. 1, 2002.

Dassin said in his letter Thursday that the CIA won’t provide the American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the agency over its destruction of the tapes, with any information related to the harsh interrogations depicted on the videotapes prior to August 2002, the month the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel authorized the CIA to use the methods.

“The Government will produce Vaughn-like entries for the contemporaneous records that described the interrogations at issue (hereinafter interrogation records) for the month of August 2002 (approximately 65 documents)," Dassin's letter says. In Freedom of Information Act cases, a Vaughn index is a list of documents withheld by the government....(Click for remainder.)

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New Bill Should Update AmeriCorps to Reflect Our Times

By Juleyka Lantigua
The Progressive


AmeriCorps needs to be updated for our times. A bill just approved by Congress doesn’t go far enough.

Since AmeriCorps was founded by President Clinton in 1993, 540,000 members have served with thousands of nonprofit organizations, public agencies and faith-based organizations nationwide. Among many other things, members tutor and mentor youth, build affordable housing, clean parks and streams, and recruit, train and manage community volunteers, and coordinate after-school programs.

In exchange, volunteers receive a very modest monetary award they can use toward college or qualified student loans. During their term of service, volunteers are also provided training, student loan deferment, health care, and in about half the cases, a modest annual living allowance.

The bill that is on its way to President Obama’s desk contains a few major changes: It increases volunteers to 250,000 from 75,000 annually, and bumps the education allowance to match the amount given by a Pell education grant ($5,350). The areas of service will also be expanded to include education, veterans’ affairs, health care, and renewable energy....(Click for remainder.)

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Udall Spokeswoman Says He'll Vote to Bring EFCA to Senate Floor

By Ernest Luing
The Colorado Independent


Chalk up another vote to bring the controversial Employee Free Choice Act, known as EFCA, to the full U.S. Senate for consideration. Ending plenty of speculation, a spokeswoman for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall on Wednesday morning told The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent the Boulder Democrat will cast a key vote to bring the sweeping labor-backed legislation to a vote.

That brings backers one step closer to the necessary 60 votes required for the Senate to hear the legislation, which would then only need a simple majority vote to pass.

Sargent posts:
Udall spokesperson Tara Trujillo confirms to me that Udall will cast the first vote in favor of EFCA. “He believes it’s important to have debate on big issues,” Trujillo says.

“Mark has always said this is not a perfect bill,” she adds, “but he believes workers should not be intimidated in the workplace.” Trujillo said it was uncertain what he would do on the final vote. “We don’t know what the final bill is going to look like,” she said.
As for other Democrats, the Udall move comes on the heels of Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s declaration she’d vote against allowing EFCA to the floor, while Virginia Sen. Mark Warner — considered a centrist in the vein of Udall and Colorado’s other senator, Michael Bennet — said he’ll support bringing EFCA to a vote....(Click for remainder.)

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Franken Isn't 'Leading'; He Won and Coleman Lost

By Ernest A. Canning
The Brad Blog


In his March 31st article at Media Matters, Eric Boehlert contrasted the difference in corporate media coverage between Florida's 2000 Presidential election contest and Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate election contest. "Norm Coleman's a sore loser," Boehlert argued, and asked "Why won't the press say so?"

He details the striking difference in the corporate media coverage of the two races, where Florida 2000 was both much closer and, as it would determine the Presidency of the United States, arguably more 'important' to get right, and yet the constant media framing continuously painted Al Gore as a "sore loser" for not bowing out 'gracefully' or 'admitting defeat' in the days following the razor-thin election (which, as we would learn later, Gore had actually won, having received more votes across the state of Florida [PDF] than George W. Bush, had the U.S. Supreme Court not kept the ballots from actually being counted).

But to go one further than Boehlert, we'd ask not why the media fail to describe Coleman as a "sore loser", but rather, why it is that --- particularly since Tuesday's final count of any remaining, lawfully cast, previously uncounted absentee ballots --- the media fail to describe Coleman as the loser at all, much less a sore one.

From the New York Times to AP to MSNBC, and even Democracy Now! et al, despite all countable ballots having now been counted, and clear rulings having been issued by both the MN Supreme Court and the bipartisan three-judge panel overseeing the contest, the media seem to have developed an aversion to using the "L" word --- loser --- in their coverage of the MN contest. Perhaps it's because they're listening to only one side of the argument (Coleman's), but the facts of the case, and the many clear court decisions, leave no question that Franken is the winner, and Coleman is the loser. So why won't they say so?...(Click for remainder.)

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Vermont's "Happily Ever After"

By David Goodman
Mother Jones


The Vermont State House was packed and overflowing. Inside the 152-year-old building, a drama was reaching its climactic act. Nine years after Vermont became the first state in the nation to legalize civil unions between gay and lesbian couples, the Vermont Legislature was about to vote again on whether to legalize same-sex marriage. The House and Senate had overwhelmingly approved same-sex marriage a week earlier, only to have Republican Gov. Jim Douglas veto the bill within 15 minutes of receiving it on April 6, 2009.

On the morning of April 7, 2009, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin rose to address his colleagues. "This is our moment. This is our chance," he declared in the packed Senate chamber. And with hardly any debate, the Senate swiftly overrode the governor’s veto, 23-5. All eyes turned to the tall Senate clerk wearing a dark green blazer as he walked the bill down the hall to the overflowing chamber of the House of Representatives, where 100 votes—a two-thirds majority—were needed to override the governor's veto.

The Vermont Legislature has only overridden a governor's veto six times in its history. (The last was 19 years ago.) The vote for same-sex marriage the previous week was five votes short of the necessary supermajority. Shap Smith, the boyish-looking state representative from a working-class town who had become Speaker of the House just three months earlier, had been working the phones to persuade reluctant colleagues to override. He was taking on a popular four-term Republican governor who had regularly outmaneuvered the Democratic legislature. By this morning, everyone knew the final vote would be razor thin; no one could confidently predict the outcome....(Click for remainder.)

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Iran Reaches Out To Mexico

By Todd Bensman
Global News


SAN ANTONIO, Tex. — While U.S. leaders remain fixated on Mexico’s drug war, Iran has quietly sought to establish closer ties to Mexico, with almost no notice.

Over the last year, Iran has been pushing for an expansion of trade and diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The efforts mirror those Iran's leaders have made in Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, whose leaders employ anti-U.S. rhetoric. Iran's close relationships with those three countries have prompted alarms to ripple through the U.S. national security establishment in recent years.

Some foreign policy experts see nothing nefarious in Iran's reaching out to another oil producing state, while some counterterrorism experts believe the U.S. should be more vigilant in monitoring any Iranian attempt to establish closer ties with Mexico.

It's just too close, they argue, not to pay careful attention.

In late February, Iran’s ruling Islamic clerics quietly sent emissaries to Mexico City with a proposal to expand relations in the “political, economic and cultural arenas” for the first time since the Shah was overthrown in 1979. According to a Feb. 27 press release posted online by Mexico’s department of foreign relations, Secretary Maria Lourdes Aranda Bezaury met with Tehran’s deputy foreign minister for the Americas, Ali Reza Salari.

More meetings are planned....(Click for remainder.)

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Credit Card Industry Lobbyists Swarm Congress to Defeat Reform Bills

By Harry Hanbury
American News Project via The Colorado Independent


Hidden penalties, sudden interest rate hikes, and deceptive language are just a few of the questionable tactics used by credit card companies to extract money from increasingly stressed consumers. Now, some on Capitol Hill are trying to regulate the more abusive practices.

With bills actually moving through both houses of Congress, the credit card lobby is finding itself on the defensive, and turning out in force to oppose the legislation....(Click for remainder.)


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