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Public Health Before Wall Street Wealth

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By Robert Scheer
Truthdig


Wonderful. The 13 Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee get one faintly rational Republican to join them in a meaningless stab at health care reform and it throws the media into a titillated frenzy about what it all means. It means very little.

The main thrust of the proposal is to forcibly submit even more customers to the tender mercies of the insurance industry while doing nothing significant to cut costs. Insurers will now pretend that the burdens on them are onerous and will demand concessions to make this an even bigger boondoggle for the medical profiteers than George W. Bush’s prescription drug coverage initiative.

The insurers’ leverage with the few moderate Republicans and with conservative Democrats will prevent the merging of the Baucus bill with the more serious attempts at reform in other Senate and House proposals. While President Barack Obama was celebrating Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, for being “extraordinarily diligent” in working with the Democrats, she was already proclaiming the exit strategy she will use if the bill becomes worthwhile. “My vote today is my vote today,” Snowe said Tuesday. “It doesn’t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.”...(Remainder.)

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Report by Health Insurance Industry "Ignores Some of the Key Politics that Are Part of Senate Finance Bill"

By Angie Drobnic Holan
PolitiFact


The day before an important vote in a Senate committee, the health insurance industry group released a report saying that health care reform will dramatically increase the cost of insurance.

The Obama administration attacked the report as a last-ditch effort to derail reform.

"I was disappointed to see that the health insurance industry had contrived a report like this at the last minute, right on the eve of a historic vote," said Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform.

The report "ignores some of the key policies that are part of the Senate Finance Committee bill, such as the health insurance exchange, which is really a central feature that allows people to be pooled together to save administrative costs and to lower people's cost in achieving getting coverage," DeParle said.

For this item, we're checking DeParle's statement that the report ignores parts of the bill that would reduce costs.

The 26-page report was put together by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It examined four parts of a bill under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.

The report examined four separate parts of the bill and found that all of them would increase costs for health insurance companies and health care providers. These increased costs would then most likely be passed on to consumers....(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck is "a Snake-Oil Salesman's Dim-Witted Assistant"

By Robert Quigley
Mediaite

“Watching Beck, who sometimes resembles a snake-oil salesman’s dim-witted assistant accidentally promoted to the top job, makes a foreigner wonder just what’s happening to American conservatism … I don’t want to seem forward or rude, but one can’t help but ask: Have you people lost your minds?”

– Alex Massie, a Scottish journalist, writing about Beck’s introduction to the UK for The Daily Beast.

As we noted last week, Glenn Beck is off to a slightly bumpy start in the UK: high-end supermarket chain Waitrose dropped all advertising from News Corporation’s Sky News in response to customer complaints about Beck’s syndicated program.

Over at The Daily Beast, Alex Massie throws his two cents in, analyzing Beck from an international perspective. He does not like what he sees, which is a xenophobic, ignorant charlatan who has somehow been granted political authority. His claim is that the emergence of Beck proves that America’s hyperpolarized political system is out of whack: “Increasingly, British Tories wonder what has happened to their American relatives. It’s as if your favorite cousin had a nervous breakdown, found religion, and became an evangelist for an apocalyptic cult prophesying the imminent end of the world as we know and love it.”...(Remainder.)

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Why the Swiss Are Afraid of Minarets

By Michael Soukup
Spiegel


A poster featuring a Muslim woman in a chador surrounded by minaret towers that resemble missiles is causing outrage in Switzerland ahead of a referendum next month on whether to ban mosques from having minarets. The campaign is proving so controversial that even some die-hard members of the country's far right are uncomfortable with it.

Wangen bei Olten has already been lost. The small Swiss municipality at the foot of the Jura Mountains has become home to a minaret.

The Christians in the village fought hard to prevent it -- they collected signatures, lodged official complaints, spoke publicly against it and even the local Catholic and evangelical communities registered their opposition.

But nothing worked. Switzerland's highest court approved the building plans of the local Turkish cultural association and now a six meter (20 foot) tall minaret provides graphic proof of the victory won by the Olten Türk Kültür Ocagi.

"The minaret is only the first step," Daniel Zingg warns in appearances across the country. The former television repairman is a member of the Federal Democratic Union (EDU), a Christian party on the far right of Switzerland's political spectrum. Zingg, 53, sees minarets as symbols of Muslim victories over newly conquered lands -- as precursors to the introduction of Islamic Shariah law.

How times have changed in Switzerland. In the 1960s and 70s, politicians in Zürich and Geneva welcomed the construction of two mosques as symbols of the country's sophistication and open-mindedness. Nowadays, Switzerland's anti-minaret activists like to quote Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Minarets are our bayonets," he said. "The domes are our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the believers our army."...(Remainder.)

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The Recovery Act Is Helping States "Keep Teachers On The Job"

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Golden Bill



By Spiegel
Photo: Reuters

US President Bill Clinton has long been a hero in Kosovo. In 1999, he authorized a bombing campaign against Serbia to put a stop to a campaign of ethnic cleansing and violence in the region, then a province of Serbia. Now, almost two years after declaring independence, Kosovo is honoring Clinton with an enormous gold statue, to preside over Bill Clinton Boulevard in downtown Pristina. The statue will be unveiled next month, with the former president expected to be in attendance.

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Stephen Colbert Destroys Beck for His Call that Nobel Peace Prize Be Given to Teabaggers

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Oozing Syphilitic Ass Chancre, Steve Doocy, Compares Obama to Chavez & Shutting Down Channels

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Fox's Morning Carousel of Crap Promotes iPhone App That'll Repeatedly Lie to You

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Rep. Anthony Weiner Says Insurance Industry Report Show Need for Public Option

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Behind Montana Jail Fiasco: How Private Prison Developers Prey On Desperate Towns

By Justin Elliott
Talking Points Memo


With the unraveling of the deal for the shadowy American Private Police Force to take over and populate an empty jail in Hardin, Montana, it's pretty clear that the small city got played by an ex-con and his (supposed) private security firm.

But an investigation by TPMmuckraker into how Hardin ended up with the 92,000 square foot facility in the first place suggests that, long before "low-level card shark" Michael Hilton ever came to town, Hardin officials had already been taken for a ride by a far more powerful set of players: a well-organized consortium of private companies headquartered around the country, which specializes in pitching speculative and risky prison projects to local governments desperate for jobs.

The projects have generated multi-million dollar profits for the companies involved, but often haven't created the anticipated payoff for the communities, and have left a string of failed or failing prisons in their wake.

"They look for an impoverished town that's desperate," says Frank Smith of the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based group that opposes prison privatization. "They come in looking very impressive, saying, 'We'll make money rain from the skies.' In fact, they don't care whether it works or not."...(Remainder.)

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Moronic Asshat Beck Admits to Being Full of Shit: Major Garrett Has Been Called On

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Bill Moyers: In Washington, Revolving Doors Are Bad for Your Health

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

From Bill Moyers Journal:
BILL MOYERS: You know from the news that early next week the Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on its version of health care reform. And therein lies another story of money and politics.

Polls show the overwhelming majority of Americans favor a non-profit alternative -- like Medicare -- that would give the private health insurance industry some competition. But if so many Americans and the President himself want that public option, how come we're not getting one?

Because, the medicine has been poisoned from day one, in part because of that same revolving door that Congresswoman Kaptur and Simon Johnson were just talking about. Movers and shakers rotate between government and the lucrative private sector at a speed so dizzying they forget who they're working for.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS: Our plan does not include a public option.

BILL MOYERS: Take a close look at that woman sitting behind Montana Senator Max Baucus. He's the Democrat who's the Chairman of the Finance Committee. Liz Fowler is her name. And now get this. She used to work for WellPoint, the largest health insurer in the country. She was Vice President of Public Policy. And now she's working for the very committee with the most power to give her old company and the entire industry exactly what they want: higher profits, and no competition from alternative non-profit coverage that could lower costs and premiums.

I'm not making this up. Here's another little eye-opener. The woman who was Baucus' top health advisor before he hired Liz Fowler? Her name is Michelle Easton. Why did she leave the Committee? To go to work -- where else? -- at a firm representing the same company Liz Fowler worked for WellPoint. As a lobbyist....
(Remainder.)

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Gay Sailor: My Comrades Locked Me in a ‘Feces-Filled Dog Kennel’

By David Edwards
The Raw Story


The US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexual soldiers has the perverse effect of protecting bigots who commit violence against homosexuals, while preventing homosexuals who comply with the policy from seeking protection, says a former Navy officer.

In an article published in Sunday's Washington Post, Joseph Rocha, a former petty officer stationed in Bahrain during the early years of the Iraq war, wrote: "The irony of 'don't ask, don't tell' is that it protects bigots and punishes gays who comply."

Because homosexuals can't admit their sexuality to senior officers, they can't complain about abuses, and that provides cover for those committing violence against them, Rocha explained.

Rocha's criticism of "dont' ask, don't tell" comes on the heels of a gay-rights march on Washington, DC, this past weekend, ahead of which President Barack Obama gave a speech in which pledged to end the policy. But many gay-rights activists have accused the president of dragging his heels on the policy change.

Shortly after joining the Navy's canine bomb-sniffing unit in Bahrain in 2004, Rocha says he was subjected to repeated hazing by his commanding officer. CNN reports that Rocha and others in his unit were subjected to numerous acts of humiliation, including being hog-tied, being force-fed dog treats, and being duct-taped to a chair and left inside a dog kennel....(Remainder.)



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Time Correspondent: Pay Taliban $20 a Day Not to Fight

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story


A Time magazine national security correspondent says it may be time for the US to send the Taliban a new message: Make money, not war.

Mark Thompson told CNN's John Roberts that some 70 percent of Taliban fighters are "economic Taliban" who are fighting US forces for the $10-a-day paycheck. They may be willing to lay down their arms in exchange for $20 a day -- a relative bargain compared to the cost of fighting the insurgent group.

"US intelligence says the following: They say five percent of the Taliban is hardcore, religiously driven. They will not be pushed off by any promise of money or anything of that nature. Seven out of 10 are 'economic Taliban,' and it's that middle 25 percent that could go one way or the other. What they're basically saying is two out of three can be bought off, or to put it another way, gainfully employed doing something else other than fighting Americans," Thompson said on CNN's American Morning.

Thompson pointed out that although Vice President Joe Biden had mentioned this idea earlier this year, he was not sure "how seriously the idea is being taken inside the councils of the US government."

On Sunday, the Times of London reported that "the Obama administration is considering outbidding the Taliban to persuade Afghan villagers to lay down arms as it struggles to find a new approach to a war that is fast losing public and congressional support."...(Remainder.)



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CNBC's Cramer Tells Tweety That Obama Should Get "A Lot of Credit" for Economic Recovery

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Juan Williams Is "Shocked" that Anti-American Right-Wing Whore, Kristol, Says Nobel Prize is Insult to America

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Chris Matthews Says Whether or Not the Oxy-Moron is Allow to Buy Rams He Wins, He Gets to be a Victim

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MMFA's President, Eric Burns, Tells Lawrence O'Donnell That Fox is a 24:7 Political Operation Hell Bent on Destroying Obama

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Hillary Clinton Bids Future Presidential Ambitions Farewell

By Daniel Edwards and Stephen Webster
The Raw Story


Speaking with NBC's Ann Curry on Monday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unexpected revelation: She will not run for president again.

"No," she said with a laugh, responding directly to a question regarding her political aspirations. "This is a great job, it is a 24/7 job and I'm looking forward to retirement at some point."

"Clinton, who will turn 62 at the end of the month, would be nearing 70 by the time of the 2016 election, the next in which President Obama is not expected to run," The Washington Post noted.

The secretary had explained to Curry that the notion she has somehow been marginalized in the Obama administration was "absurd." She also took time to defend the president's long-expected decision on whether or not to send more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan.

"I want to not only guarantee you but guarantee all of your listeners that this process will result in a very well-thought-out approach," she said. "And the number of troops will reflect how we are going to implement the strategy. Now, I know there are many Americans who say, 'Get out of Afghanistan, bring 'em all home.' And there are others who say, 'put in hundreds of thousands more.' But, I think neither extreme is focused on the situation as we are."...(Remainder.)



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Ana Marie Cox on Fox's Treatment of Kevin Jennings: They're Persecuting Someone Because He's Gay

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

CNN's "media critic" Howard Kurtz brought on Air America's Ana Maria Cox and the Washington Examiner's Chris Stirewalt to discuss the statement by the White House Communications director Anita Dunn that "Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party".

The topic turns to ACORN and Cox points out that the story Fox was pushing on ACORN was really not a story and notes that the problem was not voter fraud but in problems with some voter registrations and before Kurtz can change the subject says this about Fox’s attacks on Kevin Jennings.
Cox: And I’m sorry, I have to say something about this Jennings story because I think it’s really offensive. They’re persecuting someone because he’s gay.

Kurtz: We don’t have time to go through each controversy right now, but did Fox have the same appetite for stories that reflected poorly on the Bush administration?
Somehow Kurtz then found the time to talk about the reaction to President Obama being given the Nobel and later the David Letterman sex scandal.

Media Matters has much more on Fox’s attacks on Kevin Jennings....(Original.)

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Glennbeckians Protest Outside School Full of Kindergartners Because They Didn't Like Obama Song

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

When a group of conservatives -- angered by a video showing kindergartners singing a song praising President Obama -- announced last week that they'd be protesting outside a Burlington Township, N.J., school today, school officials asked them to reconsider, since the school -- which houses kindergartners to second-graders -- would be in session:
The planned rally has school district officials planning to beef up security at the B. Bernice Young School in Burlington Township, which houses kindergartners through second-graders.

The song drew national attention last month after a video of the performance was posted on YouTube. Conservatives say it shows how schoolchildren are being indoctrinated to idolize Obama, allegations school officials have denied.

The Obama song initially was performed during a Black History Month assembly in February and was repeated in March when author Charisse Carney-Nunes, who wrote the children's book "I Am Barack Obama," visited the school.

Someone apparently with Carney-Nunes videotaped that performance and posted it at the author's Web site without the approval of school officials. A copy of that video appeared in September on YouTube, titled "School Kids Taught to Praise Obama."

Citing concerns for the safety of students and staff, Superintendent Christopher Manno has asked organizers to reconsider the protest because classes will be held that day. Manno said protesters will not be allowed on school property and additional district staffers will be on hand.
(Remainder.)

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Obama Picks Minnesota Woman as 1st Openly Gay US Marshal

By Associated Press
Google News


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has nominated a Minnesota policewoman to become the first openly gay person to serve as a U.S. marshal.

Sharon Lubinski is an assistant chief in the Minneapolis Police Department, where she has worked for 20 years.

Obama has had a rocky relationship with gay activists, who want him to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays. He publicly pledged last weekend to do so.

He has picked openly gay people to serve in other positions in his administration, including the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa....(Original.)

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Supreme Court Considers Death Sentence for Ohio Neo-Nazi

By Sam Hananel
Associated Press via Google News


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed receptive Tuesday to reinstating the death sentence of a flamboyant neo-Nazi convicted of murdering three men in Ohio more than a quarter century ago.

Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray told justices during oral arguments that Frank Spisak had a fair trial and deserves death. Cordray urged the high court to reverse a federal appeals court ruling that found Spisak's trial lawyer was ineffective and that his jury received faulty sentencing instructions.

Spisak, 58, was convicted of three murders at Cleveland State University over a seven-month period in 1982 — crimes he said were motivated by his hatred of gays, blacks and Jews. At the same time, Spisak claimed his crimes were sparked by mental illness related to confusion about his sexual identity. He wants to have surgery to become a woman.

The 1983 trial became a public spectacle as Spisak celebrated his killings in court and openly discussed his hateful views. He even grew a Hitler-style mustache, carried a copy of Hitler's book, "Mein Kampf" during the proceedings and gave the Nazi salute to the jury.

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that Spisak's trial attorney essentially gave up on his client in closing arguments by conceding that Spisak was "demented" and "undeserving of sympathy."

Cordray acknowledged the defense lawyer's argument was far from perfect, but said the attorney — now deceased — did the best he could with an unsavory client. He said the defense lawyer instead appealed to the jury's sense of humanity to spare from death a defendant who was obviously very troubled....(Remainder.)

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Illinois High School Teacher Accused of Anti-Gay Remarks

Gay high school student wants him fired

By Paul Dailing
Chicago Sun-Times


A Geneva High School teacher is being accused of making anti-gay and racist comments in his classroom.

Dave Burk, who teaches consumer education, is accused of making the comments by his students during an Oct. 5 lecture on tax money involving the National Endowment for the Arts.

"How would you feel about your tax dollars going to pay some black fag in New York to take pictures of other black fags?" Burk allegedly asked, according to student Jordan Hunter.

Burk's attorney, D.J. Tegeler, said Monday he was not personally aware of the terms Burk used to his classes, but that Burk apologizes for any offense.

"Mr. Burk is cooperating fully with both the principal, the dean of students and the school board," Tegeler said. "Mr. Burk's biggest problem is he does not want to intentionally offend anybody and if he did, he apologizes."

Tegeler said Burk will abide by any punishment the district picks. "We have no intention of fighting anything," Tegeler said.

Hunter, who reported Burk to the administration, wants Burk fired.

"If he wants to talk about a poor place to put our tax dollars, I think his salary is a poor place to put our tax dollars," said Hunter, who is gay.

Hunter said several other students have contacted him, saying Burk repeated the same phrase in all his classes. "He's free to feel any way he wants, but [with him] being in a position of influence like that over children, I don't think he should be using that position to make statements like that," said Hunter, 17, of Geneva....(Remainder.)

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Racist Mormon Leader: Prop 8 Backlash Like Intimidation of Southern Blacks in 1960s

By Jim Burroway
Box Turtle Bulletin

A prominent leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is preparing to deliver a major address at Brigham Young University-Idaho in which he compares the anger directed toward the LDS church over its support of Prop 8 to “voter-intimidation of blacks in the South” during the civil rights struggle.

In an advance copy of the statement provided to the Associated Press, Elder Dallin H. Oaks renews the claim that Mormons experienced “violence and intimidation,” despite the fact that there has been no independent verification of a single act of violence against Mormon people or property. The Associated Press did not correct that claim. Oaks continued:
“As such, these incidents of ‘violence and intimidation’ are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic,” he said. “In their effect they are like well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation.”
Oaks then went on to suggest that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which is currently making its way through Congress, will be used to prosecute or threaten preachers. Again, the AP did not correct that statement. Oaks, a member of the LDS’ Quorum of the Twelve, is repeating on of the most common lies about the hate crimes bill. The Matthew Shepard Act addresses violent crime only, not speech or religious beliefs. In fact, the bill contains specific guarantees that nothing in it will infringe on constitutionally-protected expressions of free speech and assembly....(Remainder.)

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Reid Rips LDS Church's Prop. 8 Support

By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune


In a meeting with gay-rights activists last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized the LDS Church for backing a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California, saying the leaders of his faith should have stayed out of the contentious political fight.

Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, is the highest ranking elected official who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He previously has not commented on the flood of Mormon money and volunteers who helped propel Proposition 8 to victory in November.

But three organizers of the past weekend's National Equality March said Reid brought up the topic during a conversation in his office.

"He said that he thought it was a waste of church resources and good will," said Derek Washington, a Nevadan who worked as the outreach director for the march. "He said he didn't think it was appropriate."

Reid spokesman Jon Summers would not discuss the private meeting, but he didn't deny the conversation took place.

"While Senator Reid agrees with his church that marriage is between a man and a woman," Summers said, "he also believes that the resources that went into the Proposition 8 effort could have been put to better use."

LDS Church officials declined to comment Monday. But Frank Schubert, campaign manager for the pro-Prop 8 movement, said: "All churches have not only the opportunity to speak out on important public issues, but really a moral obligation to do so."...(Remainder.)

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Navy Moves to Put Women on Submarines

By Russ Bynum and Pauline Jelinek
Associated Press via Yahoo! News


ST. MARYS, Ga. – Submariners sleep nine to a bunk room. There are four showers and seven toilets for the roughly 140 enlisted men. The passageways on board the vessel are so narrow that crew members can barely squeeze by each other without touching.

And that's on the roomiest submarines.

The Navy is considering allowing women to serve aboard submarines for the first time, 16 years after bringing female sailors onto surface combat ships.

Some sailors and wives warn that putting men and women together in extremely close quarters underwater for weeks at a time is just asking for sexual harassment cases and wrecked marriages. But supporters of the idea say it is a matter of fairness and equal opportunity, and what worked on ships can work in subs.

"There's just a whole lot less privacy on board a submarine," said retired Navy Capt. Mike McKinnon, commanding officer of the Kings Bay sub base near St. Marys from 2004-07 and a former skipper of the submarine USS Kentucky. "But I think grown adults and professionally minded people can deal with those issues."

Over the past two weeks, top leaders at the Pentagon have said they are considering ending another in the dwindling number of military specialties reserved for men only. Officials said a decision could come soon, and women could be aboard subs by 2011.

The Navy will have to work through a host of issues first. Would men and women get separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters, as is already done aboard surface ships? Would the process of integrating subs begin with female officers, followed by enlisted women? What would happen if a woman discovered at sea that she was pregnant?...(Remainder.)

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New GOP Website Says Party Hasn't Had Any Accomplishments Since 2004

By Stephen C. Webster
The Raw Story


The Republican Party launched a redesigned website Tuesday with a heavy emphasis on the social media tools that Democrat Barack Obama used so effectively to win the last presidential election.

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said GOP.com, which stands for "Grand Old Party," the party's nickname, will "help Republicans compete in any race, in any state, at any time."

However, the new Web portal is not without its share of problems.

"Flying around Twitter this morning is a link to the new site's 'Future GOP leaders' page," Talking Points Memo noted. "Instead of fresh faces, it the page lists '404 Error: This page could not be found.'"

A placeholder page that went up after the site's launch called for users to send an e-mail nominating future leaders.

One of the site's key features includes a list of so-called Republican heroes. "But the GOP may have muddled is message by including individuals who would scoff at today's Republican Party," Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein opined....(Remainder.)

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The Economy: What is the Proper Amount of Stimulation?

By Justin Yuen
Air America Radio


Dr. Petra Beck, international economist and author of Rescue Plan for President Obama: Seven Steps to a Win-Win Economy, and Christian Weller, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, discuss what the Obama administration should do to create jobs. Do we need a second stimulus? How do we stimulate job growth?...(Original.)


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CNN: Lou Dobbs or Latinos in America?

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Rising Tide

By Ed Stein
Ed Stein Ink



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Letter from Sen. Michael Bennet RE: Consumer Financial Product Safety Commission



Thank you for contacting me regarding a financial product safety commission. I appreciate hearing from you.


Our nation is currently undergoing an economic upheaval, the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. The number of unemployed Americans increased by 563,000 to 13.7 million in April 2009, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent overall. In Colorado, more than 58,000 workers have lost their jobs, and every day, more and more Coloradans fall behind in their mortgage payments.

It is important to remember that the seeds of the current economic turmoil were planted during the past eight years, when unregulated markets allowed financial institutions to swell and the housing market to balloon to unrealistic proportions. We have seen a need for smarter regulation given the seriousness of the current financial meltdown. It will take bold action and a willingness to embrace new ideas to get our economy moving again.

In the coming months, Congress will carefully examine the financial regulatory system to determine what changes need to be made to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. As we work to reform the system, we need to ensure that consumers have substantially more information about the various financial products available today. An independent entity, such as a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, may be necessary to ensure that consumers have adequate protections. There may be several other alternative proposals for protecting small investors.

As a member of Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, I will carefully examine this proposal and any other as we work to create a more accountable, transparent and effective financial regulatory system.

Again, thank you for contacting me.


Sincerely,

Michael Bennet
United States Senator

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The Ironically-Names ‘Keep America Safe’ Gets to Work

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol have created a new right-wing political organization. What could possibly go wrong?
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's eldest daughter Liz will launch a new group aimed at rallying opposition to the "radical" foreign policy of the Obama administration which it says has succeeded only in undermining the nation's security.

The new group, Keep America Safe, will make the case against President Barack Obama's moves to wrench America away from Bush era foreign policy on issues from detaining alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay to building a missile shield in Eastern Europe.

"The policies being proposed by the Obama administration are so radical across the board," Cheney said. "Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, you want the nation to be strong and so many steps this president is taking are making the nation weaker."
Liz Cheney, whose role in American politics has become strikingly poisonous, will head the group with none other than Weekly Standard editor William Kristol. They'll be joined by Debra Burlingame, the sister of a pilot killed in the September 11 attacks. Michael Goldfarb will be an adviser to the group.

Kristol, unashamed of his humiliating record and comically-flawed judgment, said, "The Left has dozens of organizations and tens of millions of dollars dedicated to undercutting the war on terror. The good guys need some help too."

Liz Cheney added that the group would defend and promote Bush-era policies: "There's no turning away from that legacy at all."

That's not unexpected -- self-reflection is not one of the neocons' strengths -- but it does offer an opportunity to remind the Cheney/Kristol crowd that we tried it their way, and it was a spectacular failure. "Keep America Safe" looks back at the Bush era and sees a national security record to be proud of. Except for the catastrophic events of 9/11, and the anthrax attacks against Americans, and terrorist attacks against U.S. allies, and the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush's inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, and waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush's international unpopularity, they may have a point....(Remainder.)

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Antonin Scalia & Glenn Beck: Just Two Degrees of Radical Separation

By Mark Karlin
Buzz Flash


Not long ago, I wrote a blog entry about how Antonin Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion in a capital punishment case appeal in which he made the chilling and mind-boggling argument that the Consitution did not prohibit executing an innocent man.

Don't believe it, read his dissenting opinion.

Scalia portrays himself as a "strict constructionist," but he -- like Glenn Beck -- is a far fringe extremist who the right wing has successfully shifted into mainstream credibility.  Scalia and Beck just have different venues.

Most recently, Scalia -- who single handedly began the coup that put George W. Bush in the White House by declaring an end to the Florida recount since if Al Gore ended up with more votes it might hurt the reputation of Bush since he was "the presumptive winner" (i.e. the winner chosen by the Supreme Court, not the voters) -- Scalia astonished Constitutional scholars and non-Christians alike in a case regarding a cross on public land allegedly honoring veterans.

Here is the New York Times account of Scalia's exchange with the plaintiff's lawyer:
The question of the meaning of a cross in the context of a war memorial did give rise to one heated exchange, between Justice Scalia and Peter J. Eliasberg, a lawyer for Mr. Buono with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California.

Mr. Eliasberg said many Jewish war veterans would not wish to be honored by “the predominant symbol of Christianity,” one that “signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins.”

Justice Scalia disagreed, saying, “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead.”

“What would you have them erect?” Justice Scalia asked. “Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David and, you know, a Muslim half moon and star?”

Mr. Eliasberg said he had visited Jewish cemeteries. “There is never a cross on the tombstone of a Jew,” he said, to laughter in the courtroom.

Justice Scalia grew visibly angry. “I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead,” he said. “I think that’s an outrageous conclusion.”
(Remainder.)

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Fox Nation Channels Glenn Beck: Nobel Prize Chairman a “Socialist”



By Ellen
News Hounds

Fox Nation, the website that boasts about its dedication to "people who believe in the United States of America," nevertheless took several deliberate swipes at it with regard to President Obama's Nobel Prize. On a home page full of jabs at the prize (and one or two approvals), one of the top stories poses the "Cavuto mark" of a question, "What are the Nobel Prize Committee Chairman's Socialist Ties? " Not surprisingly, the chairman is shown holding a photo of Obama next to the headline.

If you click through to the post, the first sentence opens not with any kind of pride or congratulatory spirit, but with a swipe at the prize as "befuddling" and a baseless suggestion that the committee awarded it out of a socialist agenda. Of course, the unstated suggestion (also unfounded by any accompanying facts) is that Obama won it because he's a socialist.
With the choice of President Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize inspiring such widespread befuddlement, it seems worthwhile to ask, just who are these people who made this choice, and what might their agenda be?
The post goes on to note that Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland "admiringly" held a photo of Obama and "spoke gushingly" of him in the news stories about the award. Uh-oh! A foreigner speaking well of our President? Something evil must be afoot!...(Remainder.)

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Key Senate Committee Passes Sweeping US Health Care Reform Bill

By Cindy Saine
VOA News


The powerful Senate Finance Committee has passed its health care reform bill, clearing the first major hurdle for President Barack Obama's goal of overhauling the U.S. health care system and extending insurance coverage to many more Americans. All 13 Democrats on the panel and only one Republican voted for the bill, in what may be a sign of a fierce political battle to come.

A Senate clerk and a beaming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus announced the result of the vote after months of wrangling in the panel on the controversial issue of health care reform.

During a final, long day of debate in the panel Tuesday, Baucus pushed hard for his bill, saying it is moderate enough to win the 60 votes needed to pass in the full Senate. "Now is the time to get this done. Let us enact this balanced, common-sense plan to improve health care. Let us reform the health care system to control costs and premiums, let us extend health care coverage to all Americans," he said.

The ranking Republican member of the panel, Senator Chuck Grassley, disagreed, saying Republicans also want reform, but that the bill is too costly and too intrusive into Americans' lives. "It will be clear that this bill is already moving on a slippery slope to more and more government control of health care," he said....(Remainder.)

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