Monday, January 24, 2011

Criticizing Abortion Stance, Santorum Cites Obama’s Ethnicity

Former Republican senator and rumored 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is drawing controversy for comments about President Obama’s stance on abortion. Speaking to the right-wing news site CNS News, Santorum appeared to suggest it is hypocritical for Obama to support abortion because he is African American.
Rick Santorum: "The question is—and this is what Barack Obama didn’t want to answer—is that: is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well, if that person, human life, is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'Now, we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'

Probe: Mine Disaster Preventable, Massey Violated Key Regulations

A federal investigation has found last year’s West Virginia coal mine disaster was preventable and followed negligence by the mine’s owner, Massey Energy. In a preliminary report [Download pdf], the Mine Safety and Health Administration says Massey repeatedly violated federal rules on ventilation and minimizing coal dust to reduce the risk of explosion. Investigators say a small flare-up of methane gas sparked a massive coal dust blast. Their report says there is no evidence to support Massey’s claim that a burst of gas from a hole in the mine floor overwhelmed safety mechanisms. Twenty-nine workers were killed in the explosion.

United States Confirms Opposition to Aristide Return, But is fine with Duvalier's

Admin Confirms Opposition to Aristide Return

The Obama administration has publicly confirmed it is continuing the Bush-era policy of opposing the return of Haiti’s ousted former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Overthrown in a 2004 U.S.-backed coup, Aristide has renewed his pleas to return to Haiti following the recent re-emergence of exiled dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. In a statement issued through Twitter, U.S. Department of State spokesperson P.J. Crowley said, "We do not doubt President Aristide’s desire to help the people of Haiti. But today, Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past." The Haitian government has refused to issue Aristide a new passport, reportedly under U.S.-led pressure.

Duvalier Faces Rumors of Financial Motive in Return

Just after his return this week, Jean-Claude Duvalier was indicted on corruption charges stemming from his embezzlement of millions in state funds before a popular uprising forced him to flee Haiti in 1986. Alleged victims of human rights abuses under his regime have also filed criminal complaints. Duvalier says he returned to assist Haiti’s rebuilding effort, but critics say he’s making a last-ditch attempt to recoup some $6 million frozen in a Swiss bank account. A Swiss law passed in response to Duvalier’s longtime effort to obtain the money goes into effect on February 1. Before the new rules kick in, Duvalier would be able to receive the money if he could prove he is not under criminal investigation in his home country. His return is seen as a gamble that he would have been able to enter Haiti and then depart without being charged, which he would then cite as proof to the Swiss he’s not under legal scrutiny.

When there is Nothing Left to Burn You Must Set Yourself on Fire (Tunisia and Egypt)

The protests that led to Ben Ali’s overthrow gained momentum last month after unemployed university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. He died earlier this month. Copycat self-immolations have followed in at least four other North African states. In Egypt, 52-year-old lawyer Mohamed Farouk Hassan became the latest Egyptian protester to set himself on fire following two others. A large crowd gathered in support of Hassan outside the hospital.
Protester: "Everyone that holds a high-ranking position does nothing. They do not feel for all the starving, homeless people. These people are homeless, living in the streets. People can’t find food. People can’t find the resources they need. These people are sitting on their chairs doing nothing. Those parliamentary members feel for nobody."

China lies and republicans digging

Chinese President Hu Meets Senators in D.C.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has wrapped up a state visit to the United States. On Thursday, Hu delivered an address in Washington in which he renounced "hegemony" and "expansionism."
Chinese President Hu Jintao: "We will remain committed to the path of peaceful development, continue to strive for a peaceful international environment to develop ourselves and uphold and promote world peace through our own development. China stands for peaceful settlements of disputes and hot spot issues and follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. We do not engage in an arms race or pose a military threat to any country. China will never seek hegemony or pursue an expansionist policy."
Hu also held a Capitol Hill meeting with Senate leaders from both parties, including Majority Leader Harry Reid. The visit came two days after Reid gave a television interview in which he called Hu a "dictator," a remark he quickly retracted.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "I’m going back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator; he can do a lot of things. He, through the form of government they have—maybe I shouldn’t have said 'dictator,' but they have a different type of government than we have, and that’s an understatement."

Economics for president (obama hires CEO of GE)

Obama Taps GE CEO for Economic Panel

President Obama has tapped another top corporate figure for a key White House role. On Thursday, Obama said he is naming General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head the newly formed President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The council will replace the former Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which had been chaired by Paul Volcker, the former chair of the Federal Reserve. Volcker will step down when his panel’s mandate expires next month. Immelt’s appointment has drawn scrutiny in part because he opposed Obama’s presidential candidacy. During the 2008 elections, Immelt donated to Hillary Clinton as well as Republicans John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. His appointment follows the recent hiring of former commerce secretary and JPMorgan Chase executive William Daley as White House chief of staff.

Republicans: listening to the people, cutting spending (except when polls show otherwise)

Republican Lawmakers Call for Deeper Spending Cuts

A prominent Republican congressional group is urging party leaders to impose far greater non-military spending cuts than already proposed. On Thursday, the far-right Republican Study Committee called for an immediate cut of $100 billion from non-military programs. According to theWashington Post, meeting the demand would entail reducing funding for most federal agencies by one-third over the next seven months. The Study Committee also says the government should make even deeper non-military cuts of $2.5 trillion over the next decade. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that would mean cutting funding for most government agencies by 40 percent. With 165 members, the Study Committee represents over two-thirds of House Republicans.

Poll: Majority Support Cutting Military Spending over Medicare, Social Security

The House spending cut proposal comes as a new poll shows a large majority of Americans favor cutting the military budget over cutting Medicare or Social Security. The New York Times-CBS News survey also found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would prefer higher payroll taxes instead of reduced benefits in either of the two programs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kucinich on Health care

The best part of my day: BYE BYE LIEBERMAN!

Senators Lieberman, Conrad Won’t Seek Re-Election

Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is expected to announce today he will retire rather than seek re-election when his term is up in 2012. Lieberman ran as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary. His announcement follows that of North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, who also says he will step down rather than seek re-election.

FCC Approves Comcast Takeover of NBC Universal

The FCC has given final approval to a $30 billion dollar takeover by the nation’s largest cable television company, Comcast, of the television and movie giant NBC Universal. The merger gives Comcast control of the NBC network, the Spanish-language Telemundo, cable channels including MSNBC, dozens of local television stations and the Universal film studio. The FCC vote was four to one, with commissioner Michael Copps casting the lone dissent vote. Media democracy advocates have widely criticized the merger. Josh Silver of the group Free Press spoke to Democracy Now! on Tuesday.
Josh Silver: "The Comcast-NBC merger is going to increase prices for consumers, it’s going to make independent voices even more scare on commercial television dials and it’s going to cut out independent programming even further from the commercial dial. Yesterday’s announcement of this merger flies in the face of Obama’s stated commitment to oppose media consolidation when he was on the campaign trail and it bodes terribly for the future of the Internet. We expect to see higher costs for access, for cable programming for Internet access. And, at the end of the day, less choices for consumers and higher prices."

Internal Review Contradicts U.S. Claims on WikiLeaks

Internal U.S. government reviews have found that WikiLeaks’ disclosures of State Department diplomatic cables has caused little damage to the U.S. government abroad. The review contradicts repeated public statements by the Obama administration that WikiLeaks has endangered U.S. policies and personnel. According to the Reuters news agency, two congressional officials say the administration felt compelled to misrepresent the expected consequences of the leak out of a desire to shut down the whistleblower website and bring charges against its top members.

Switzerland Probes U.S. Spying Following WikiLeaks Disclosures

In WikiLeaks news, Switzerland has announced a probe into whether the U.S. illegally spied within its borders. Swiss officials say the United States asked for permission to conduct a spying operation in 2007 but were denied for "lack of a legal basis." The probe will examine whether the operation proceeded anyway following WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables showing the United States carried out spying in Switzerland as well as Iceland, Norway and Denmark without those governments’ permissions.

Palestinian Authority Raises Palestinian Flag at D.C. Mission

Palestinian Authority officials in Washington, D.C., have hoisted the Palestinian flag outside their diplomatic mission for the first time. Chief Palestinian envoy Maen Areikat said the symbolic move is a new step in the Palestinians effort for statehood.
Maen Areikat: "It’s about time, that this flag which symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood to be raised in the United States. We hope that this will help in the efforts, in the international efforts to provide recognition of the Palestinian state and we hope that as President Obama said at the United nations General Assembly in September last year that by the next general assembly session this year in September, Palestine will be a full member of the United Nations."