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Rockstar Energy Drink CFO breaks ties with Savage Productions

Friday, July 17, 2009

By Bil Browning
The Bilerico Project

After guest blogger Michael Jones posted concerns about Rockstar Energy Drink's possible connections to far-right radio talk show host Michael Savage, Bilerico Project and Change.org worked closely with the company over the last few weeks to take concrete steps on addressing LGBT rights. Rockstar is owned by Savage's son Russ Weiner.

We were pleased to facilitate a bold agreement between Rockstar and several LGBT rights organizations. The agreement resulted in significant changes to Rockstar's corporate practices to reflect LGBT-friendly policies and saw more than $100,000 distributed to four LGBT organizations through a multi-year, systemic gift.

Several websites and community members questioned the authenticity of Rockstar's LGBT-friendly policies and gifts since Savage's wife, Janet Weiner, was the CFO for both Rockstar and Savage Productions. The beverage company quietly took another step forward recently that wasn't announced in a press release.

Janet Weiner quit her job at Savage Productions as an apparent statement of solidarity with equality advocates.

While we were talking to Rockstar about their corporate policies and the apparent ties to Michael Savage, it was made clear time and time again that the company did not want to be associated with Savage's repugnant radio show or production company. The focus has mostly been on Russ and Janet Weiner because they're Michael Savage's kin. Families tend to have differing opinions on social issues though - and Savage's family is apparently no exception....(Remainder.)

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Student Forced into "Ex-Gay" Therapy


By Bodhi
Tres Fab Sweetie!

A gay pre-med student from Arkansas has been "forced" into therapy to cure him of homosexuality. According to his friends, Bryce Faulkner (above), 23, was preparing to come out to deeply religious family when his mother discovered emails to his boyfriend, who lives in Wisconsin. He was then given an ultimatum of being kicked out on the street or going into ex-gay therapy, a controversial "cure" for homosexuality through prayer.

Gay rights activists say it does not work and can be emotionally devastating. Friends say the college student was left with no choice, as his parents took away his phone, his car and his money. Speaking to PinkNews.co.uk, his boyfriend Travis Swanson, 24, said he was "very worried". Swanson said: "Bryce was taken to this place on June 15th. The last time I spoke with him was on that day around 4:30am. "He called me and was crying uncontrollably saying, 'You should have heard the mean and hateful things they said about me. They made me read out loud passages from the Bible'.

"One of the last things he said to me before falling asleep was, 'Promise me you will be strong for me and for us'." Swanson believes Faulkner may be at an Exodus International ministry in Florida. He said a friend of the family had heard Faulkner would be in Mississippi for three weeks and then in Florida for 14 months. Exodus International has six ministries and 16 churches in Florida. Swanson believes Faulkner may be at one in Pensacola.

The church movement promises "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ". Peterson Toscano, who has campaigned against so-called homosexuality 'cures' after spending 17 years in ex-gay therapy, told PinkNews.co.uk: "Like in the UK, so much of the ex-gay treatment in the US these days, especially for young people, happens under the radar through Christian counsellors, church youth programs and summer camps....(Remainder.)

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AP Adds $500 Billion to Healthcare Costs

By Gabriel Voiles
FAIR

Washington Monthly's Political Animal blogger Steve Benen (7/16/09) has observed that on July 15, "the Associated Press reported that the House Democratic healthcare plan cost '$1.5 trillion,'" and "by the afternoon, the AP reporting didn't attribute the price tag to anyone; it just stated the figure as fact."

Even though "the day before the AP blasted the $1.5 trillion figure to the world, the Congressional Budget Office pointed to a roughly $1 trillion cost over 10 years," Benen notes how "the AP not only went with the much higher figure, it made no reference to the CBO score."

Considering this, he writes that he had:
hoped the AP would at least notice the criticism, and clarify the issue in the future. No such luck--this AP report ran about a half-hour ago: "Votes were planned Thursday in the Education and Labor and Ways and Means committees on a $1.5 trillion plan that majority House Democrats presented this week."

No source, no reference to the CBO figure released Tuesday, and no mention of the fact that House Democrats reject the "$1.5 trillion" figure.

Naturally, others are picking up on the AP's reporting, and relaying the disputed figure. Time's Mark Halperin noted this morning that House committees are expected to vote today "on the Democrats' $1.5 trillion plan."

I don't mean to sound picky, but reporting like this not only misinforms news consumers, it also has the potential to adversely affect the larger policy debate. If the AP is intent on using the $1.5 trillion figure, it could at least add some language to reflect the concerns, such as "a number Democratic leaders dispute," or, "though the CBO puts the figure closer to $1 trillion." Something....

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Gary Frago, California Councilman, Sent Racist Anti-Obama Jokes To Staff

By Rachel Weiner
The Huffington Post

Yet another local official has gotten in hot water for sending around racist emails about the president. This time it's Gary Frago of Atwater, California.
In the past several months Atwater City Councilman Gary Frago has sent at least a half-dozen e-mails to city staff and other prominent community members containing racist jokes aimed at President Barack Obama, his wife and black people in general.

In all, the Sun-Star obtained seven e-mails that Frago sent from October 2008 to February 2009 from an anonymous source.

Some compared Obama to O.J. Simpson while others suggested that "nigger rigs" should now be called "presidential solutions."
"I don't see where there's a story, I'm not the only one that does it," Fargo said in his defense, after the Merced Sun Star published the offensive emails. "I didn't originate them, they came to me and I just passed them on."

Previous disastrous interactions between racially-insensitive public officials and modern technology include the "historical keepsake photo" sent around by a Tennessee state government staffer, the picture of watermelons on the White House lawn distributed by a California mayor, and the Michelle Obama gorilla joke posted on Facebook by a GOP activist and ex-official....(Remainder.)

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Federal Judge Dismisses Birther Law Suit

(The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer) Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook speaks to the media with his totally insane attorney, Orly Taitz, after his case was dismissed Thursday.

Columbus judge says suit ‘moot’ because of previous Army decision.

By Lily Gordon
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


A federal judge tossed out a controversial lawsuit Thursday brought here by a U.S. Army reservist seeking to avoid deployment to Afghanistan because he questions Barack Obama’s eligibility as president.

Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook filed the suit July 8 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia seeking conscientious objector status and a temporary injunction.

U.S. District Judge Clay Land sided with the government, represented by Maj. Rebecca Ausprung, which claimed Cook’s suit was “moot” because the Army had already told him he doesn’t have to deploy, so the relief he is seeking has been granted.

"The same Constitution upon which Major Cook relies in support of his contention that President Barack Obama is not eligible to serve as President of the United States very clearly provides that federal courts shall only have the authority to hear actual ‘cases and controversies,’” Land stated in his written order. “By restricting the Judiciary’s power to actual ‘cases and controversies,’ our founders wisely established a separation of powers that would ensure the freedom of their fellow citizens. They concluded that the Judicial Branch, the unelected branch, should not inject itself into purely ‘political disputes,’ and that it should not entangle itself in hypothetical debates which had not ripened to an actual legal dispute.”...(Remainder.)

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‘Birther’ Movement Dogs Republicans


Kris Kobach campaigns in Wichita, Kans. (YouTube: WichitaLiberty)

Ten Members of Congress Sign on to Presidential Birth Certificate Bill

By David Weigel
The Washington Independent


Kris Kobach is a law professor with degrees from Harvard, Yale and Oxford, and a veteran of George W. Bush’s administration who, after Sept. 11, helped craft the policy on domestic registration of foreign visitors to the United States. In May, he announced a run for Kansas secretary of state, campaigning for photo ID requirements at the voting booth. He’s considered a clear front-runner for the job. But over the weekend, Kobach spoke at a Republican Party barbecue and committed a minor gaffe. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Kobach “asked what President Obama and God had in common, with the punchline being neither has a birth certificate.”

Kansas Democrats pounced. “While Kris Kobach has in the past associated himself with extremists who frequently show poor taste,” said state Democratic Party Executive Director Kenny Johnston, “his latest attempt at humor has gone too far.” Kobach told the Democrats to “lighten up” before walking back the comment, explaining that “until a court says otherwise, I believe Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen.”

Kobach could have offered another defense. The joke was not his. One month earlier, Rush Limbaugh made the same remark on his radio show. “Barack Obama has one thing in common with God,” Limbaugh said. “Know what it is? God does not have a birth certificate either.” And Limbaugh may not have been writing his own material, either. At Patriot Depot, a conservative web site that sells books by Glenn Beck and signs designed for anti-tax Tea Parties, buyers can pay $10 to get two bumper stickers that read: “Obama & God Have ONLY ONE THING in Common: NO BIRTH CERTIFICATE! The Difference Is God Doesn’t Think He’s Obama!”According to a salesman for Patriot Depot, the company has sold “hundreds” of this and another birth certificate sticker since advertising them with the conservative opinion sites GOPUSA.com and Townhall.com.

Six months into Obama’s presidency, after scores of embarrassing legal defeats, and even after tussles between the attoneys who’ve turned frivolous lawsuits about the president’s citizenship into full-time jobs, the cottage industry of conspiracy theories about the president’s birth shows no signs of disappearing. The theories have found a home in talk radio and on conservative web sites such as Free Republic and WorldNetDaily. Conspiracy theorists are increasingly sending letters to their local papers, embarrassing members of Congress at town hall meetings, and hounding Hill staffers about challenges to the president’s citizenship....(Remainder.)

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Time To Tax The Ultra Wealthy Appropriately

By Something the Dog Said
Square State


One of the most pernicious frames the Republican Party and Grover Norquist have ever placed on our nation is this idea that the rich should not be taxed at much higher levels than the rest of the nation. This frame is so well placed it has become nearly and article of faith for the nation if we some how put a significant amount of tax on those who can most afford it this punishes the whole nation. The Dog thinks this is flatly insane.

It is time to start talking about the fact we must tax the rich as a considerably higher level than we are now, if we are to get out of the mess we are in financially. It is not like we have not seen this kind of situation before and have not taken exactly that step. First a little history; during World War II our deficit was 30% of GDP, even given the differential between 1940's dollars and today's dollars that is a hell of a lot of money.

This is in a nation coming off the Great Depression as well, so there is a lot of money the Untied States had barrowed which had to be paid back. In order to do that, starting in 1951 all income over $300,000 was taxed at 90%. To be clear the income below that level was taxed at lower levels, based on our graduated income tax, so it was not like you were in a 25% tax rate up to that number and then bang, you are paying 90%. For each of the graduations you pay the rate up to a max, and then you pay a higher rate on income above that level and up to the next level.

In the 50's we had 24 graduated brackets. This allowed a higher and higher level of tax up to the 90% at $300,000 and above. Which makes plenty of sense, when you think about the fact the lowest bracket when from $0 to only $2000 and was at 22.2%. Everyone in the nation was paying to fund the cost of our war and our debt, as a nation should do, but everyone was paying according the amount of money they earned. Just to give you a little idea of how much $300,000 was in the '50's it would be equivalent to $6,390,000 (using a nominal GDP per capita calculation, you can find it here ).The Dog has to ask is there anyone out there who does not think people who make 6.3 million a year of more should not pay something above 50% on the money over that level?...(Remainder.)

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Wise Latina

By John Sherffius
Boulder Daily Camera


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Slaying the Elephant

By Bill Day
The Commercial Appeal


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Dumb Elephants

By Steve Benson
Arizona Republic


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Goldman and JPMorgan -- The Two Winners When The Rest of America is Losing

By Robert Reich
Robert Reich's Blog


Besides Goldman Sachs, the Street's other surviving behemoth is JPMorgan. Today it posted second-quarter earnings up a stunning 36 percent from the first quarter, to $2.7 billion.

The resurgence of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs gives both banks more financial clout than any other players on the Street -- allowing both firms to lure talent from everywhere else on the Street with multi-million pay packages, giving both firms enough economic power to charge clients whopping fees, and bestowing on both firms even more political heft in Washington.

Where are the antitrusters when we need them? Alternatively, why isn't the government charging Goldman and JPMorgan a large insurance fee for classifying both firms as "too big to fail" and therefore automatically bailed out if the risks they take turn sour? Instead, we've ended up with two giants that now have most of the casino to themselves, are playing with poker chips backed by taxpayers, and have a big say in what the rules of the game are to be.

When JP Morgan repaid its federal bailout of $25 billion last month it was, like Goldman, freed from stricter government oversight. The freedom has also allowed JP, like Goldman, to take tougher and more vocal stands in Washington against proposed financial regulations they dislike.

JP is mounting a furious lobbying campaign against regulations that would funnel derivatives trading through exchanges where regulators can monitor them, and thereby crimp JP's profits. Now the Street's biggest derivatives player, JP has generated billions helping clients navigate these contracts and assuming counter-party risk in such transactions. Its derivatives contracts were valued at roughly $81 trillion at the end of the first quarter, representing 40 percent of the derivatives held by all banks, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. JP has played down its potential risk exposure from these derivatives contracts, of course, but anyone who's been paying attention over the last ten months knows that unregulated derivatives have been at the center of the storm....(Remainder.)

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Why Is Fox Nation Continuing To Attack John Holdren?

By Priscilla
News Hounds


Today marks the third time that Fox Nation has done a lede story attacking John Holdren, Barack Obama's science advisor. Today's lede (still with Catharine the Great's crown) has "Crackpot 'Science Czar's' Scary 'Population Control' Theories!" which links to conservative David Freddoso's article in the conservative Washington Examiner. It's apparent that Fox Nation, once again, defined the topic ('Scary") for the readers (?) as the title of Fredosso's article is "Obama's Science Czar: Traditional family is obsolete, punish large families." What is up with this obsession over something written over 30 years ago? Three articles, in one week, sourced from authors who agree with whatever it is that Fox Nation is peddling. Nothing from the reality based scientific community. One thing is for sure - Fox Nation is not abiding by it's Mission Statement about non bias!

I do wonder if this is all about getting the peasants with pitchforks all riled up about pending health care legislation; as the blog discussion seems to focus on "scary" rationing of health care. Beyond the personal attacks on Obama and Holdren (compared to a Nazi doctor - I think!) there really doesn't seem to be a percentage in this other than conspiritorial fearmongering (big with the black helicopter crowd and Glenn Beck). And that begs another question - why are conservatives always scared? One thing is for sure - Fox Nation is pushing the "fear factor!"...(Original.)

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Plantation Owning GOP

By Pat Bagley
Salt Lake Tribune


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Marines Under Investigation After Autistic Man Allowed to Enlist

Pvt. Joshua Fry, Recruited From Group Home, Is In Camp Pendleton Custody on Child Porn, Military Charges

By Sarah Netter
ABC News


Joshua Fry's career as a Marine never should have been.

Now his recruiter and other military personnel who pushed the autistic 20-year-old through boot camp could face criminal charges.

Fry, who has a history of abuse, neglect and a criminal record, is sitting in a cell at Camp Pendleton on disciplinary charges as the military investigates why a Marine recruiter picked Fry up from a California group home for the mentally disabled and drove him to a recruitment center to sign him up.

"An investigation into the circumstances of Private Fry's accession in the Corps, could lead to subsequent administrative or criminal proceedings against those directly involved, if warranted, " a high-ranking Marine based at the Pentagon told ABCNews.com.

The Marine, who is familiar with the Fry case, requested not to be identified, but said the Marines are prepared to hold accountable anyone who may have acted improperly during Fry's time with the military.

"The American people rightfully expect a lot of their Marine Corps," he said. "If there is a perception that something is afoul, we will aggressively root out the truth."

Experts say the case of Joshua Fry, who will face court marial on July 20 on charges of possessing child pornography and unauthorized absences, highlights a disconcerting trend of the military accepting candidates that never would have been considered a few years earlier as the forces struggle to supply the manpower for the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's hard work being a recruiter anyway," said Beth Asch, a senior economist at Rand Corporation, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based non-profit think tank. "And when you're not a successful one, it's an issue."...(Remainder.)

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The Obama Effect Considered

By Renard Sexton
FiveThirtyEight


President Obama has been described as many things - a Rorschach inkblot; a movement; a new America; a fraud; a demagogue. For whatever it is that he ultimately represents to the world -- the United States living up to its ideals, perhaps -- he is incredibly popular.



Among major world leaders, he polls by far the best among the global community* :

Among countries where the United States has a very poor image, for example among six Arab states in the Middle East, Obama widely outperforms.





What still is not clear, however, is how much of Obama's popularity is due to his own efforts, or those of his predecessor. For many in the global (and U.S.) community, a considerable portion of his charm is simply not being George W. Bush. Whether softening the US rhetoric on Iran, Cuba and Russia, making highly public statements about reducing civilians casualities in Afghanistan, or committing to less interventionism in Latin America, popular opinion is that the foreign policy of the Obama administration is a huge turnaround on the Bush years....(Remainder.)

*These polls evaluated the aggregate popularity of world leaders and opinions in the following countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and South Korea. The score from each leader's home country was excluded from the average shown.

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DNC Ad Targest Waivering Dems on Health Care

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President Obama Addresses NAACP


Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

NAACP Centennial

New York, New York

July 16, 2009


It is an honor to be here, in the city where the NAACP was formed, to mark its centennial. What we celebrate tonight is not simply the journey the NAACP has traveled, but the journey that we, as Americans, have traveled over the past one hundred years.

It is a journey that takes us back to a time before most of us were born, long before the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and Brown v. Board of Education; back to an America just a generation past slavery. It was a time when Jim Crow was a way of life; when lynchings were all too common; and when race riots were shaking cities across a segregated land.

It was in this America where an Atlanta scholar named W.E.B. Du Bois, a man of towering intellect and a fierce passion for justice, sparked what became known as the Niagara movement; where reformers united, not by color but cause; and where an association was born that would, as its charter says, promote equality and eradicate prejudice among citizens of the United States.

From the beginning, Du Bois understood how change would come – just as King and all the civil rights giants did later. They understood that unjust laws needed to be overturned; that legislation needed to be passed; and that Presidents needed to be pressured into action. They knew that the stain of slavery and the sin of segregation had to be lifted in the courtroom and in the legislature.

But they also knew that here, in America, change would have to come from the people. It would come from people protesting lynching, rallying against violence, and walking instead of taking the bus. It would come from men and women – of every age and faith, race and region – taking Greyhounds on Freedom Rides; taking seats at Greensboro lunch counters; and registering voters in rural Mississippi, knowing they would be harassed, knowing they would be beaten, knowing that they might never return.

Because of what they did, we are a more perfect union. Because Jim Crow laws were overturned, black CEOs today run Fortune 500 companies. Because civil rights laws were passed, black mayors, governors, and Members of Congress serve in places where they might once have been unable to vote. And because ordinary people made the civil rights movement their own, I made a trip to Springfield a couple years ago – where Lincoln once lived, and race riots once raged – and began the journey that has led me here tonight as the 44th President of the United States of America.

And yet, even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past one hundred years; even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied; even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folks – we know that too many barriers still remain.

We know that even as our economic crisis batters Americans of all races, African Americans are out of work more than just about anyone else – a gap that’s widening here in New York City, as detailed in a report this week by Comptroller Bill Thompson.

We know that even as spiraling health care costs crush families of all races, African Americans are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anyone else.

We know that even as we imprison more people of all races than any nation in the world, an African-American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a jail.

And we know that even as the scourge of HIV/AIDS devastates nations abroad, particularly in Africa, it is devastating the African-American community here at home with disproportionate force.

These are some of the barriers of our time. They’re very different from the barriers faced by earlier generations. They’re very different from the ones faced when fire hoses and dogs were being turned on young marchers; when Charles Hamilton Houston and a group of young Howard lawyers were dismantling segregation.

But what is required to overcome today’s barriers is the same as was needed then. The same commitment. The same sense of urgency. The same sense of sacrifice. The same willingness to do our part for ourselves and one another that has always defined America at its best.

The question, then, is where do we direct our efforts? What steps do we take to overcome these barriers? How do we move forward in the next one hundred years?

The first thing we need to do is make real the words of your charter and eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States. I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there’s probably never been less discrimination in America than there is today.

But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.

On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.

But we also know that prejudice and discrimination are not even the steepest barriers to opportunity today. The most difficult barriers include structural inequalities that our nation’s legacy of discrimination has left behind; inequalities still plaguing too many communities and too often the object of national neglect.

These are barriers we are beginning to tear down by rewarding work with an expanded tax credit; making housing more affordable; and giving ex-offenders a second chance. These are barriers that we are targeting through our White House Office on Urban Affairs, and through Promise Neighborhoods that build on Geoffrey Canada’s success with the Harlem Children’s Zone; and that foster a comprehensive approach to ending poverty by putting all children on a pathway to college, and giving them the schooling and support to get there.

But our task of reducing these structural inequalities has been made more difficult by the state, and structure, of the broader economy; an economy fueled by a cycle of boom and bust; an economy built not on a rock, but sand. That is why my administration is working so hard not only to create and save jobs in the short-term, not only to extend unemployment insurance and help for people who have lost their health care, not only to stem this immediate economic crisis, but to lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity that will put opportunity within reach not just for African Americans, but for all Americans.

One pillar of this new foundation is health insurance reform that cuts costs, makes quality health coverage affordable for all, and closes health care disparities in the process. Another pillar is energy reform that makes clean energy profitable, freeing America from the grip of foreign oil, putting people to work upgrading low-income homes, and creating jobs that cannot be outsourced. And another pillar is financial reform with consumer protections to crack down on mortgage fraud and stop predatory lenders from targeting our poor communities.

All these things will make America stronger and more competitive. They will drive innovation, create jobs, and provide families more security. Still, even if we do it all, the African-American community will fall behind in the United States and the United States will fall behind in the world unless we do a far better job than we have been doing of educating our sons and daughters. In the 21st century – when so many jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or more, when countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow – a world-class education is a prerequisite for success.

You know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason the story of the civil rights movement was written in our schools. There’s a reason Thurgood Marshall took up the cause of Linda Brown. There’s a reason the Little Rock Nine defied a governor and a mob. It’s because there is no stronger weapon against inequality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child’s God-given potential.

Yet, more than a half century after Brown v. Board of Education, the dream of a world-class education is still being deferred all across this country. African-American students are lagging behind white classmates in reading and math – an achievement gap that is growing in states that once led the way on civil rights. Over half of all African-American students are dropping out of school in some places. There are overcrowded classrooms, crumbling schools, and corridors of shame in America filled with poor children – black, brown, and white alike.

The state of our schools is not an African-American problem; it’s an American problem. And if Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve it, then all of us can agree on that. All of us can agree that we need to offer every child in this country the best education the world has to offer from the cradle through a career.

That is our responsibility as the United States of America. And we, all of us in government, are working to do our part by not only offering more resources, but demanding more reform.

When it comes to higher education, we are making college and advanced training more affordable, and strengthening community colleges that are a gateway to so many with an initiative that will prepare students not only to earn a degree but find a job when they graduate; an initiative that will help us meet the goal I have set of leading the world in college degrees by 2020.

We are creating a Race to the Top Fund that will reward states and public school districts that adopt 21st century standards and assessments. And we are creating incentives for states to promote excellent teachers and replace bad ones – because the job of a teacher is too important for us to accept anything but the best.

We should also explore innovative approaches being pursued here in New York City; innovations like Bard High School Early College and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School that are challenging students to complete high school and earn a free associate’s degree or college credit in just four years.

And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs. Today, some early learning programs are excellent. Some are mediocre. And some are wasting what studies show are – by far – a child’s most formative years.

That’s why I have issued a challenge to America’s governors: if you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning; if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs; if you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success – you can compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant that will help prepare all our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

So, these are some of the laws we are passing. These are some of the policies we are enacting. These are some of the ways we are doing our part in government to overcome the inequities, injustices, and barriers that exist in our country.

But all these innovative programs and expanded opportunities will not, in and of themselves, make a difference if each of us, as parents and as community leaders, fail to do our part by encouraging excellence in our children. Government programs alone won’t get our children to the Promised Land. We need a new mindset, a new set of attitudes – because one of the most durable and destructive legacies of discrimination is the way that we have internalized a sense of limitation; how so many in our community have come to expect so little of ourselves.

We have to say to our children, Yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades, that’s not a reason to cut class, that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands – and don’t you forget that.

To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences, reading to our kids, and helping them with their homework.

And it means we need to be there for our neighbor’s son or daughter, and return to the day when we parents let each other know if we saw a child acting up. That’s the meaning of community. That’s how we can reclaim the strength, the determination, the hopefulness that helped us come as far as we already have.

It also means pushing our kids to set their sights higher. They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States.

So, yes, government must be a force for opportunity. Yes, government must be a force for equality. But ultimately, if we are to be true to our past, then we also have to seize our own destiny, each and every day.

That is what the NAACP is all about. The NAACP was not founded in search of a handout. The NAACP was not founded in search of favors. The NAACP was founded on a firm notion of justice; to cash the promissory note of America that says all our children, all God’s children, deserve a fair chance in the race of life.

It is a simple dream, and yet one that has been denied – one still being denied – to so many Americans. It’s a painful thing, seeing that dream denied. I remember visiting a Chicago school in a rough neighborhood as a community organizer, and thinking how remarkable it was that all of these children seemed so full of hope, despite being born into poverty, despite being delivered into addiction, despite all the obstacles they were already facing.

And I remember the principal of the school telling me that soon all of that would begin to change; that soon, the laughter in their eyes would begin to fade; that soon, something would shut off inside, as it sunk in that their hopes would not come to pass – not because they weren’t smart enough, not because they weren’t talented enough, but because, by accident of birth, they didn’t have a fair chance in life.

So, I know what can happen to a child who doesn’t have that chance. But I also know what can happen to a child who does. I was raised by a single mother. I don’t come from a lot of wealth. I got into my share of trouble as a kid. My life could easily have taken a turn for the worse. But that mother of mine gave me love; she pushed me, and cared about my education; she took no lip and taught me right from wrong. Because of her, I had a chance to make the most of my abilities. I had the chance to make the most of my opportunities. I had the chance to make the most of life.

The same story holds for Michelle. The same story holds for so many of you. And I want all the other Barack Obamas out there, and all the other Michelle Obamas out there, to have that same chance – the chance that my mother gave me; that my education gave me; that the United States of America gave me. That is how our union will be perfected and our economy rebuilt. That is how America will move forward in the next one hundred years.

And we will move forward. This I know – for I know how far we have come. Last week, in Ghana, Michelle and I took Malia and Sasha to Cape Coast Castle, where captives were once imprisoned before being auctioned; where, across an ocean, so much of the African-American experience began. There, reflecting on the dungeon beneath the castle church, I was reminded of all the pain and all the hardships, all the injustices and all the indignities on the voyage from slavery to freedom.

But I was also reminded of something else. I was reminded that no matter how bitter the rod or how stony the road, we have persevered. We have not faltered, nor have we grown weary. As Americans, we have demanded, strived for, and shaped a better destiny.

That is what we are called to do once more. It will not be easy. It will take time. Doubts may rise and hopes recede.

But if John Lewis could brave Billy clubs to cross a bridge, then I know young people today can do their part to lift up our communities.

If Emmet Till’s uncle Mose Wright could summon the courage to testify against the men who killed his nephew, I know we can be better fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters in our own families.

If three civil rights workers in Mississippi – black and white, Christian and Jew, city-born and country-bred – could lay down their lives in freedom’s cause, I know we can come together to face down the challenges of our own time. We can fix our schools, heal our sick, and rescue our youth from violence and despair.

One hundred years from now, on the 200th anniversary of the NAACP, let it be said that this generation did its part; that we too ran the race; that full of the faith that our dark past has taught us, full of the hope that the present has brought us, we faced, in our own lives and all across this nation, the rising sun of a new day begun. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

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"The Reality is if You Get Real Sick, No Matter if You're Insured or Not, You're Probably Financially F**ked"

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


That headline was posted by Sardine over at Eschaton. And they're right. It's a point I've been trying to make for a while. Health care reform isn't just about poor people, and we should stop trying to sell it to the rest of America by using that argument. I think most Americans feel a sense of empathy with those in need, but when the economy, their job, and their family's livelihood is hanging by a thread, I think that most Americans become less generous and more selfish. And I propose that we play to their selfishness when pitching health care reform.

No matter how good you think your health insurance, answer me these questions off the top of your head:

1. What's the annual limit on prescription benefits under your plan? Do you have a limit? I didn't think I did until last year when Blue Cross cut me off and I had to pay for my $250 a month asthma medicine, and more, out of my own pocket.

2. What's the lifetime limit on our major medical plan? What do I mean? Lots of health care plans only cover your major medical up until a certain point, then if you cost them too much, they cut you off. What's your cut off, and would getting cancer push you beyond that cut off?

3. How much does an appendectomy cost? We know from Joe that is costs $19,000 in Washington, DC. How much does your insurance cover? Joe has good insurance, and his still required him to pay $1,500 of that. What would yours require? You don't know? Then how do you know your insurance is so good?...(Remainder.)

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Lithuania President Slams Anti-Gay Censorship Bill


By Associated Press
Via Google News


STOCKHOLM — Lithuania's new president on Thursday criticized a censorship bill passed by lawmakers in the Baltic country that aims to keep information about homosexuality away from children.

Dalia Grybauskaite, who was inaugurated as president on Sunday, said the measure was poorly worded and vowed to propose amendments later this year.

"I'm very much upset that such kind of laws in Lithuania are possible," she told reporters during a joint news conference in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The measure bans publicly disseminating material deemed harmful to the mental health and "intellectual or moral development" of minors.

It lists 19 examples of "detrimental" information, including material that "agitates for homosexual, bisexual, and polygamous relations," instructions on how to make explosives and graphic depictions of violence or death.

Lithuanian lawmakers this week overturned a veto by Grybauskaite's predecessor, meaning the new president has to sign it into law.

"But I have a tool," she said. "This tool is the possibility to come with a proposal for (an) amendment of the law."

She did not give details of what changes she would propose but said the "human rights of all of society" would be important during her tenure as president....(Remainder.)

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House Democrats Muzzle GOP on Sensitive Issues

By Andrew Taylor
Associated Press via Google News


WASHINGTON — In their zeal to protect their members from politically hazardous votes on issues such as gay marriage and gun control, Democrats running the House of Representatives are taking extraordinary steps to muzzle Republicans in this summer's debates on spending bills.

On Thursday, for example, Republicans had hoped to force debates on abortion, school vouchers and medical marijuana, as well as gay marriage and gun control, as part of House consideration of the federal government's contribution to the District of Columbia's city budget.

No way, Democrats said.

At issue are 12 bills totaling more than $1.2 trillion in annual appropriations bills for funding most government programs — usually low-profile legislation that typically dominates the work of the House in June and July. For decades, those bills have come to the floor under an open process that allows any member to try to amend them. Often those amendments are an effort to change government policy by adding or subtracting money for carrying it out.

The tradition has often meant laborious debates. But it has allowed lawmakers with little seniority to have their say on doling out the one-third of the federal budget passed by Congress each year. It was a right the Democrats zealously defended when they were the minority party from 1995 through 2006.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., insists the clampdown is to prevent debates from dragging on and on. Republicans, however, have agreed to limit the amount of time debating the bills.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., acknowledged in a brief interview that one reason for restricting amendments is to save members of his party from having to cast politically painful votes.

So instead of debating an attempt backed by House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio to allow more children living in Washington to receive school vouchers, the House voted on a Quixotic attempt to eliminate the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

"What they want to do is they want to avoid tough votes on appropriations bills," said Rep. David Dreier of California, senior Republican on the Rules Committee....(Remainder.)

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John Yoo: Still Lying

By The Anonymous Liberal
The Anonymous Liberal


In this morning's Wall Street Journal, John Yoo has an op-ed defending himself from the malpractice charges set forth in the recent Inspecter General's report. As with the opinions themselves, the op-ed is deeply disingenuous and misstates the law repeatedly.

Not surprisingly, Yoo begins the op-ed with a collosal straw man. He points out how important it is to intercept al Qaeda communications and writes: "Evidently, none of the inspectors general of the five leading national security agencies would approve." Of course, the issue is not whether intercepting communications is a good idea, but whether the program violated the law. Yoo was not a policy maker. He was a lawyer. His job was to state what the law was, not what it should be.

Yoo eventually gets around to addressing FISA, but quickly dismisses any notion that FISA might constrain the president:
It is absurd to think that a law like FISA should restrict live military operations against potential attacks on the United States. Congress enacted FISA during the waning days of the Cold War. As the 9/11 Commission found, FISA's wall between domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence proved dysfunctional and contributed to our government's failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. . . .

In FISA, President Bush and his advisers faced an obsolete law not written with live war with an international terrorist organization in mind.
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Udall Hearing Examines 1872 Mining Law; Pites Reid Against Salazar/Obama Admin.

By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent


Unlike oil and gas extraction, pulling hard-rock minerals like uranium, gold and copper out of the ground is a royalty-free proposition in the United States, despite the often enormous costs of cleaning up public lands after the fact.

The Environmental Protection Agency in a filing on Monday noted that hard-rock mining has impacted 40 percent of all western watersheds and that nationwide 28 percent of the toxic pollution generated in the United States comes from the mining industry –- the most of any sector. The EPA also concluded mining represents a major taxpayer burden because of cleanup costs.

The EPA filing was presented during a hearing Tuesday of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall. Former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, now Secretary of the Interior, testified the Obama administration wants to see the 1872 Mining Law reformed in the current Congress.

Mining reform legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, and both versions would set up some sort of royalty structure for hard-rock mining on federal lands. The 137-year-old system of filing for relatively inexpensive and easy-to-acquire “patents” would be scrapped, and a fund would be set up to pay for massive cleanup efforts that for decades have been passed off to taxpayers when mining companies go bankrupt.

The Summitville gold mining disaster in Colorado, for instance, has cost taxpayers more than $200 million in cleanup costs. Reform advocates say the law passed in 1872 by the Grant administration was designed to encourage settlement of the West but is now antiquated and dangerous for the descendants of those settlers....(Remainder.)

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Half-Baked Alaska: Palin's Confused Vision of Energy & Environment

By Ben Carmichael
The Huffington Post


Now that Sarah Palin has announced her resignation as Governor of Alaska, you may wonder: What has she been doing? How will she fill her time? In an Op-Ed piece for The Washington Post, Palin kindly provided an answer. She's committed herself to a single task: confusing the American public on energy and the environment.

On Tuesday, Palin's Op-Ed criticized Obama's cap and trade bill -- known as the American Clean Energy & Security Act, or ACES -- and refused to acknowledge the existence of climate change. The article so fully muddles the issues that the best thing one can hope for is that someone else wrote the article, and the Governor simply signed her name.

Behind all the bluster -- and the exclamations! that neatly turn fact into fiction -- are familiar phrases. She appeals to national independence, rising unemployment, taxes, supply side economics and God's creation. In so doing, she positions Democrats as enervating technocrats opposed to prosperity, and herself as rooted in a history of economic growth, rugged independence and faith.

To use talking points is one thing, to rely on them another. This isn't a partisan issue; candidates from both parties have lines they work through. But Palin's argument is so dependent on established Republican strategy that is reads like a grab bag of worn-out phrases.

This is where Palin's argument veers from the path of denial. In making her argument, she ignores mounting, if not overwhelming evidence on energy and environment. She also strays from mainstream public opinion....(Remainder.)

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Bush May Have Continued to Secretly Operate John Poindexter’s TIA Program

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


Back in 2001, the Defense Department was briefed about a massive data mining system that officials said was aimed at identifying alleged terrorists who lived and communicated with people in the United States.

The new intelligence program granted traditional law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI and the CIA the authority to conduct what was then referred to as "suspicionless surveillance" of American citizens.

"Suspicionless Surveillance" was developed by the Pentagon's controversial Total Information Awareness department, led by Admiral John Poindexter, the former national security adviser who secretly sold weapons to Middle Eastern terrorists in 1980s during the Iran-Contra affair and was convicted of a felony for lying to Congress and destroying evidence. The convictions were later overturned on appeal.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, had referred to Poindexter "the architect of a program to extend surveillance of private databases."

Rotenberg said Poindexter was involved in a 1984 policy directive criticized by civil liberties groups and lawmakers who said it would hand the National Security Agency control over privately held information. The directive was voided with the passage of the 1987 Computer Security Act.

But in October 2001, Poindexter resurrected his government operated data-mining proposals. It was then that he introduced TIA to the Department of Defense, around the time Bush had signed an executive order authorizing domestic surveillance under a program known as the President's Surveillance Program, according to a report issued last week by government watchdogs....(Remainder.)

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Al-Jazeera Reporter Imprisoned in Guantanamo to Sue George Bush



Sami al-Haj – freed in May 2008 after more than six years – to launch legal action against former US president.


By Gwladys Fouché
The Guardian


An al-Jazeera reporter who was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay plans to launch a joint legal action with other detainees against former US president George Bush and other administration officials, for the illegal detention and torture he and others suffered at the hands of US authorities.

The case will be initiated by the Guantánamo Justice Centre, a new organisation open to former prisoners at the US base, which will set up its international headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month.

"The purpose of our organisation is to open a case against the Bush administration," said co-founder Sami al-Haj, an al-Jazeera reporter from Sudan who was illegally detained by US authorities for over six years. He was freed in May 2008.

"We need to start our organisation first and then we will prepare a whole case. We don't want to do this case by case," said the 40-year-old reporter during a recent visit to Oslo.

"We are in the process of collecting information from all the people, such as medical evidence. It takes time," he said.

He added: "I need them to go to court … we don't want [what happened to us] to be repeated again."

The legal action may be modelled on an action against General Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in the UK in 1998 at the request of a Spanish prosecutor for the alleged murders of Spanish citizens in Chile under his dictatorship.

Al-Haj said: "I spoke to my lawyer, who advises me to do this in Europe. The courts do not have the power to bring [US officials] by force, but at least they can't visit European countries. If they do, [the authorities] would catch them and send them to court."...(Remainder.)

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Homophobic Ass, John McCain Leads Fight Against Hate Crimes Legislation

By Carlos Santoscoy
On Top Magazine


A vote that would attach hate crimes legislation as an amendment to a must-pass defense bill is expected Thursday. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona is leading the charge against the move, Politico reported.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday announced he would attach the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act to a $690 billion defense authorization bill. The bill (S909) would add disability, gender and sexual orientation to the list of hate crime protections. The law would also aid state and local governments prosecute hate crimes.

“This week, we'll bring to the floor the Matthew Shepard hate crime legislation, so named in the honor of Judy Shepard's son,” Reid said at a press conference, where he appeared with Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard's mother.

“Judy Shepard has shown incredible strength, leadership and dedication to bringing justice to America and to her son. She and many others who have suffered taught us that we cannot be afraid to call these crimes what they – hate crimes,” he added.

On Wednesday, McCain led the charge against the move, calling it an “abuse of power.”

“Those of us who oppose this legislation – and it is important legislation – will be faced with a dilemma of choosing between a bill which can harm, in my view, the United States of America and its judicial system and a bill defending the nation,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “I don't think that's fair to any member of this body.”...(Remainder.)


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Hate Crimes Passes Senate, Faces Veto

By Kerry Eleveld
Advocate.com


The Senate voted 63-28 Thursday night to end discussion on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was subsequently adopted by unanimous consent as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.

“The Senate made a strong statement this evening that hate crimes have no place in America,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “This is a victory for all Americans – particularly those like Judy Shepard who has endured what no mother should ever have to.”

Though the amendment garnered three votes more than necessary to reach cloture, the fate of the hate crimes measure is now partially linked to $1.75 billion in funding for F-22 fighter jets that is also included in the DOD legislation.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates both oppose the F-22 program and a White House spokesperson said the president will not sign a DOD bill that continues to fund the program.

"The President has long supported the hate crimes bill and gave his personal commitment to Judy Shepard that we will enact an inclusive bill,” said Shin Inouye, referring to Shepard’s Oval Office visit with the president earlier this year. “Unfortunately, the President will have to veto the Defense Authorization bill if it includes wasteful spending for additional F-22s. The collective judgment of the Service Chiefs and Secretaries of the military departments is that the current program is sufficient to meet operational requirements. A Presidential veto would not indicate any change in President Obama’s commitment to seeing the hate crimes bill enacted."...(Remainder.)

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Utterly Idiotic Air America Kills “Breakroom Live”

I for one have decided to write off Air America. Marc Maron and Sam Seder where the last two voices of liberalism left on that pseudo-progressive "network." These corporate liberal wanna-bes have systematically silenced true liberal voices, e.g. Mike Malloy, Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, Morning Sedition, & Majority Report. What a bunch of losers.

By Rachel Sklar
Mediaite


This is sad, slightly bewildering news: Air America is taking the delightful “Breakroom Live” off the air. Announced: Yesterday. Last show: Yesterday.

The show, daily at 3pm, is a live webcast starring Air America stalwarts Sam Seder and Marc Maron, both of whom are accustomed to having shows canceled on Air America, but still. The hosts announced the move — where else? — on Twitter, and engaged in a final show that was only slightly bitter (Maron: “I don’t give a fuck - I’m so tired of giving a fuck, I can’t even tell you”).

What doesn’t make sense is why. The show is good - really good - with great production values, a smart, funny banter between the hosts and great guests (Thomas Ricks, Matt Taibbi, Nate Silver), tailor made for Air America’s progressive audience. When the show launched, Air America CEO Bennett Zier said it would be “a building block for Air America in becoming a multimedia company.” Guess not. (Zier did not return an email sent last night asking for comment, nor was an email to Air America sent this morning returned.).

The “why” here isn’t that hard to understand, obviously - a show like “Breakroom Live” costs money and presumably it wasn’t earning it. (Or, as Maron said,”the beancounters have decided that our beans are empty.”)...(Remainder.)

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The Joy of Sachs

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


The American economy remains in dire straits, with one worker in six unemployed or underemployed. Yet Goldman Sachs just reported record quarterly profits — and it’s preparing to hand out huge bonuses, comparable to what it was paying before the crisis. What does this contrast tell us?

First, it tells us that Goldman is very good at what it does. Unfortunately, what it does is bad for America.

Second, it shows that Wall Street’s bad habits — above all, the system of compensation that helped cause the financial crisis — have not gone away.

Third, it shows that by rescuing the financial system without reforming it, Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely.

Let’s start by talking about how Goldman makes money.

Over the past generation — ever since the banking deregulation of the Reagan years — the U.S. economy has been “financialized.” The business of moving money around, of slicing, dicing and repackaging financial claims, has soared in importance compared with the actual production of useful stuff. The sector officially labeled “securities, commodity contracts and investments” has grown especially fast, from only 0.3 percent of G.D.P. in the late 1970s to 1.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2007.(Remainder.)

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NSA Turned Over Names of Americans Wiretapped to Ex-State Dept. Official

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


Three years ago, John Bolton, the former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, told Congress that he had asked the NSA to reveal to him the identities of 19 American citizens who were caught up in 10 of the NSA’s raw intelligence reports since 9/11.

By law, the agency is prohibited from spying Americans and if the NSA intercepts the names of Americans in the course of a wiretap, the agency is supposed to black out the names prior to distributing its reports to other agencies. But the NSA did not second guess Bolton’s requests and willingly turned over the identities of U.S. citizens caught up in the wiretaps. Last week’s report

The NSA, based in Fort Meade, Maryland, operates under the Department of Defense. It distributes analysis summaries of its intelligence-gathering to a certain number of senior US officials, but it is prohibited from sharing its raw data – transcripts from wiretaps – with anyone. The raw data is prized by intelligence analysts because it provides additional context and more leads than the watered-down summaries.

But it turned out that Bolton, who was nominated by George W. Bush to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations when he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his requests to the NSA, was just one of many government officials who learned the identities of Americans caught in NSA intercepts in the aftermath of 9/11. In fact, by 2006 the State Department had asked the NSA to unmask the identities of American citizens 500 times since May 2001.

The NSA also disclosed to senior White House officials and other policymakers at federal agencies the names of as many as 10,000 American citizens the agency obtained while purportedly eavesdropping on foreigners. The Americans weren’t involved in any sort of terrorist activity, nor did they pose any sort of threat to national security, but had simply been named while the NSA was conducting wiretaps....(Remainder.)

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China is Here

By David Sirota
Truthdig


GUIYANG, China—Before planning for and making the transglobal trek to the most populous country on Earth, I knew mainland China mostly through television and movie screens. My sinologists were Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Egg Shen, the crotchety shaman from “Big Trouble in Little China”—a Cabinet of advisers who left me, ahem, unprepared for my voyage east.

Thus I was thrilled when, upon arriving here, a Peace Corps volunteer handed me a 1997 tome called “Red China Blues.” Written by Chinese-Canadian journalist Jan Wong, the book tours a nation on the verge of superpowerdom, and it ends by suggesting the country’s industrialization may mean “the future of China may be the West’s past.”

One excursion does not make me a China guru, but I can report with some confidence that when it comes to economic growth, Wong is right. China is walking in our shoes—and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

On my trip (which you can read more about at Openleft.com), I’ve seen America circa 1900: coastal metropolises of towering wealth hemming in a polluted and destitute heartland. Two Chinas, as John Edwards might say—one you constantly hear about and another hidden from view.

In Hong Kong, I gaped at the sleek office towers, fine restaurants and nouveau riche—the “miracle” endlessly celebrated by The New York Times’ Tom Friedman (China is a place of “wide avenues, skyscrapers, green spaces, software parks and universities”), Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria (“China’s growth has obvious and amazing benefits for the world”) and most of America’s Very Serious Commentators. Indeed, according to MIT’s Yasheng Huang, China’s best-known cities are known for tricking incurious observers into portraying the entire country as “sanitary … largely free of grotesque manifestations of poverty [and] one of the most successful countries in tackling income inequality.”

Of course, in Guiyang, a coal-mining town of 3 million in China’s poorest province, I found exactly the opposite—the darker side of the “miracle.”...(Remainder.)

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AMA Decides to Endorse Obama's Health Care Plan

Endorsement by the AMA speeds the way for the president to accomplish one of his signature campaign promises.

By Daniel Nasaw
The Guardian


America's largest and most powerful doctors group has endorsed Barack Obama's massive overhaul of the US healthcare system, removing a substantial hurdle to legislation that Democrats hope will extend health coverage to most of the estimated 46 million Americans who currently lack it.

The American Medical Association, which vigorously opposed Bill and Hillary Clinton's 1990s reform effort, today pledged to work with congressional leaders to ensure legislation is soon passed. The group endorsed the strongest legislation currently on the table, proposed this week by top Democrats in the House of Representatives. The group long opposed government intervention in the healthcare system for fear that its physician members would see their lucrative pay decline.

With no universal public programme akin to the National Health Service, Americans rely on a patchwork of employee-provided healthcare, government programmes for the poor, elderly and veterans, and costly private health insurance coverage. Americans spend one out of every six dollars on healthcare - roughly twice as much per capita as other industrialised nations - but lag behind in life expectancy, infant mortality and other health indicators.

The medical association's surprise turnaround may be an indication they see reform as inevitable and hope to influence the legislation at the margins. In its letter to Charles Rangel, a powerful New York Democrat, the group said it hoped for "constructive dialogue" during revision of the legislation....(Remainder.)

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By John Amato
Crooks and Liars


Lou Dobbs ran the story of US reservist Stefan Cook, who refused to go to Afghanistan because he says President Obama isn't a US citizen. Notice how Dobbs framed the beginning of the story: He says new questions are being raised about Obama's citizenship. Really, Lou? They aren't new questions, they are the same Birther garbage being peddled by the same Birther Queen Bees since well before the election.

We have a Birther in our midst.
U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, set to deploy to Afghanistan, says he shouldn’t have to go. Barack Obama was never eligible to be president because he wasn’t born in the United States.

Cook’s lawyer, Orly Taitz, who has also challenged the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency in other courts, filed a request last week in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and status as a conscientious objector for his client.

In the 20-page document filed July 8 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia the California-based Taitz asks the court to consider granting his client’s request based upon Cook’s belief that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cook further states he “would be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside the United States under this President’s command. ... simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.”

Cook, a reservist, received the orders mobilizing him to active duty on June 9.

He's using the idiot lawyer who filed a lawsuit against President Obama and is called the Queen Bee of the Birthers. Meet Orly Taitz, Queen Bee of People Obsessed With Barack Obama's Birth Certificate. She also works for another insane person named Alan Keyes....(Remainder.)

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Fox Says GOP Health Care Chart is as Disturbing as a Massive Explosion

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Racist & Misogynistic Jim Quinn Claims Progressives Wants Sotomayor Solely Because She's Latina

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Right-Wing Racist Ass, Lee Rodgers, Calls Sotomayor a "Racist, Sexist Pig"

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The Right's Irrational View of Race is on Full Display in Sotomayor Hearings


By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars


"Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another." -- Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama

I was struck by this key sentence in Sessions' opening remarks Monday in the Sonia Sotomayor hearings, especially because he presented it as the essential logic behind their opposition to Sotomayor -- their abiding fear that when she sits on the court, she'll be ruling against every white man who crosses her path.

We know this, according to their logic, because she is Latino -- and because she emphasizes her "empathy" for other Latinos, she will be prejudiced against any non-Latinos in her courtroom.

It is, as logic goes, about as obviously faulty as syllogisms get. Normal human empathy is not exclusive -- that is, our ability to feel empathy for one party does not necessarily exclude empathy for another party (or moreover, in Sessions' formulation, necessitate an animus to any other party). Being empathetic typically means the ability to place oneself in another person's shoes regardless of background. Identifying closely with one group at the exclusion of another typically is the antithesis of empathy.

What Sessions is describing is not empathy but rather the crude tribalism that underscores and animates most racist belief systems, and has done so since time immemorial. It is, essentially, an almost astonishing confession to being racist on Sessions' part....(Remainder.)

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