Thursday, May 31, 2012

Church Cheers as 4-Year-Old Sings 'Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It to Heaven'

"Video of a young boy at a church in Indiana being cheered as he sings about how "no homos are gonna make it to heaven" has gone viral.

"The Bible is right, somebody's wrong," the boy, who appears to be around 4-years-old, sings. "Romans 1 and 27, ain't no homo gonna make it to heaven."

Before the boy can finish the song, members of the congregation jump their feet, applauding and cheering wildly.

"That's my boy!" one man can be heard shouting."

Kansas Pastor: Killing Gay People Is Just Scripture

" Kansas pastor Curtis Knapp is one of many religious leaders under fire this week for preaching violent anti-gay rhetoric, telling his congregation at New Hope Baptist Church that homophobia is good because it keeps gay people in the closet, adding, "Oh, so you're saying we should go out and start killing them? No, I'm saying the government should. They won't, but they should." He defended his remarks yesterday on CNN: "

Oklahoma Doctor Refuses To Provide Rape Victim With Emergency Contraception

"An Oklahoma emergency room doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a 24-year-old female rape victim because the doctor said it went against her personal beliefs.

The hospital was also unable to provide the victim with a rape kit, because they had no appropriate nurse on staff to administer the test.

According to the victim's mother, Rhonda, the doctor at the hospital not only refused to help her, but did not get another doctor to provide them the medication. Emergency contraception's effectiveness diminishes over time, and is most effective when taken immediately. The doctor, however, was shielded from providing the perfectly legal medication because of Oklahoma's "conscience clause":"

gross: Eating This [Monsanto's genetically modified Bt corn] Could Turn Your Gut into a Living Pesticide Factory

"A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests.  The failure of Monsanto's genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.

The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium calledBacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. 

But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence -- which would have entailed less of the corn being planted -- were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.

According to a recent NPR report:

"The scientists who called for caution now are saying 'I told you so,' because there are signs that a new strain of resistant rootworms is emerging...[A] committee of experts at the EPA is now recommending that biotech companies put into action, for the first time, a 'remedial action plan' aimed at stopping the spread of such resistant insects ...

The EPA's experts also are suggesting that the agency reconsider its approval of a new kind of rootworm-killing corn, which Monsanto calls SmartStax. This new version of Bt corn includes two different Bt genes that are supposed to kill the rootworm in different ways. This should help prevent resistance from emerging, and the EPA is allowing farmers to plant it on up to 95 percent of their corn acres. But if one of those genes is already compromised…  such a high percentage of Bt corn could rapidly produce insects that are resistant to the second one, too."

There can be little doubt that genetically engineered crops are the most dangerous aspect of modern agriculture. Not only are we seeingrapid emergence of super-weeds resistant to glyphosate, courtesy of Roundup Ready crops, we now also have evidence of emerging Bt-resistant insects. Add to that the emergence of a brand new organism capable of producing disease and infertility in both plants and animals, and a wide variety of evidence showing harm to human health, and the only reasonable expectation one can glean is that humanity as a whole is being seriously threatened by this foolhardy technology.

Bt Corn—a Most Dangerous Failure

Monsanto's genetically modified "Bt corn" has been equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which produces the Bt-toxin. It's a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990's, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up. And the problem with Bt crops go far beyond the creation of Bt-resistant insects.

Monsanto and the EPA swore that the genetically engineered corn would only harm insects. The Bt-toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. Alas, they've been proven wrong on that account as well, because not only is Bt corn producing resistant "super-pests," researchers have also found that the Bt-toxin can indeed wreak havoc on human health.

Bt-Toxin Now Found in Many People's Blood!

Last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:

  • 93 percent of pregnant women tested

  • 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and

  • 67 percent of non-pregnant women

The study authors speculate that the Bt toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class—which makes sense when you consider that genetically engineered corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup. They also suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO, or so-called "factory farms") are."

40 Percent Of Workers Report Having Their Benefits Reduced In The Last Five Years


"40 PERCENT OF WORKERS REPORT HAVING THEIR BENEFITS REDUCED IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS | According to a survey conducted by the non-profit National Endowment for Financial Education, 40 percent of workers have seen their benefits reduced in the last five years. 72 percent of those who experienced benefit cuts reported that their health care was the hardest hit. 25 percent of respondents said that their company "cut back on their 401(k) match and 13% said their employer stopped matching altogether.""

Wal-Mart becomes latest company to leave ALEC

"Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is withdrawing from the legislative group the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), according to Think Progress. ALEC has come under scrutiny of late for its controversial policies regarding voter ID laws and looser firearm restrictions, like Flordia's "Stand Your Ground," a law that expanded the definition of acceptable force. Wal-Mart is the 19th company to drop out of ALEC or decine to renew its membership dues.

The move is seen as an especially critical departure in that Wal-Mart is the largest purveyor of firearms in the country. It is also the largest company to leave ALEC since an awareness and boycott effort was launched by the advocacy group Color of Change.

ALEC's embrace of harsh voter ID laws, laws that disproportionately affect poor and minority voters, as well as its pursuit of legislation like "Stand Your Ground" have sent many businesses running as the group's profile has risen. Most big corporations don't want to be associated with controversy, and controversies don't come much larger and more racially charged than the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin earlier this year, in which "Stand Your Ground" was cited by lawyers defending shooter George Zimmerman, Jr.."

Catholic Cardinal Authorized $20K To Pay Off Pedophile Priests, Then Railed Against ‘Immorality’ Of Gay Marriage

"Cardinal Timothy Dolan has led the charge against same-sex marriage, describing gay and lesbian unions as "unjust," "immoral," and unnatural. "This is a very violation of what we consider natural law that's embedded in every man and woman and we're really worried as Americans that it's going to be detrimental to the common good," Dolan said in a radio interview in June, as New York prepared to legalize marriage equality. "[W]e still worry about the detrimental effect upon society, upon culture, and certainly upon our individual churches."

But church documents showing that Dolan paid off priestswho had been accused of sexually abusing minors suggest that the prominent Catholic leader was willing to overlook these very same religious convictions to help colleagues accused of egregious wrong doing. The documents, obtained by the New York Times, also show that Dolan lied to reporters when he initially dismissed news of the payments as "false, preposterous and unjust":"

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

despicable: 91-Year-Old Decorated WWII Veteran Targeted By Florida Governor Rick Scott’s Voter Purge #p2 #tcot


"Bill Internicola is a 91-year-old, Brooklyn-born, World War II veteran. He fought in the Battle of the Buldge and recieved the Bronze Star for bravery. He's voted in Florida for 14 years and never had a problem.

Three weeks ago, Bill received a letter from Broward County Florida stating "[Y]ou are not a U.S. Citizen" and therefore, ineligible to vote. He was given the option of requesting "a hearing with the Supervisor of Elections, for the purpose of providing proof that you are a United States citizens" or forfeit his right to vote.

This decorated World War II veteran is just one of hundreds of fully eligible U.S. citizens being targeted by Governor Scott's massive voter purge just prior to this year's election, according to data obtained from Florida election officials by ThinkProgress. The purge list, according to an analysis by the Miami Herald,targets mostly Democrats and Hispanics.

Voting rights groups in Florida have asked the Justice Department to investigate, alleging thatScott's voter purge violates federal law.

Bill appeared at a press conference this morning with Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), who has called on Scott to "immediately suspend" the voter purge."

Friday, May 25, 2012

The inside story: How Facebook panicked and botched its IPO

There's been a ton of coverage about the Facebook IPO disaster, but very little of it looks at the crucial point two weeks ago where things went terribly wrong. It's becoming increasingly clear that Facebook itself made a strategic blunder at that juncture.

Facebook CFO David Ebersman

Facebook CFO David Ebersman

The screw-up resulted in a major disappointment in Facebook's stock debut: The stock's 15 percent decline since the IPO last Friday may not in itself be tragic. But worse, lawsuits are flying saying that legal guidelines weren't followed. And there's the sad fact that regular mom-and-pop investors were apparently left with the more losses on average than large institutions who got privileged information. This all was aggravated by a separate annoyance: glitches in the Nasdaq stock market trading process, which caused delays in trade and cancel confirmations, among other things.

However, based on a number of interviews VentureBeat has had with observers and other sources close to the process, it's apparent that Facebook itself may be most to blame for the fallout. Facebook chose to be more furtive in public announcements about its business than it was in private talks with large investors.

The "update"

The decisive action by Facebook came on May 9, three days into the "roadshow," which is the time when Facebook and its bankers visit major investors in hopes of getting them to buy the IPO stock. On that day, Facebook's executives, led by chief financial officer David Ebersman, signed off on new language in the company's updated IPO prospectus.

In that May 9 update, Ebersman decided to use vague language when describing how the company's second quarter was looking. It was extremely understated, considering what we would later find out. According to the filing, specifically on page 57, Facebook said that it was experiencing the same trend in the second quarter that it had seen in the first quarter, that growth in "daily active users" (DAUs) was increasing more rapidly than the growth in ad impressions, driven by many users' shift to mobile devices.

Ed Schultz Brings National Attention to Florida Voter Roll Purge

Ed Schultz Brings National Attention to Florida Voter Roll Purge

Click here to view this media

Anyone who follows this blog regularly may have already read Ken Quinnell's report on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's plan to purge 180,000 Hispanics from the voting rolls in Florida ahead of the 2012 presidential election. This Thursday evening, MSNBC's Ed Schultz thankfully decided to shine a national spotlight on the subject, hopefully before it's too late for those who have received notices from the state to do something about it.

Schultz highlighted this article from The Palm Beach Post News: Fla. Gov. started push to remove voters from rolls:

Florida's quest to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls was started at the direct urging of Gov. Rick Scott, the state's former top elections official said.

Ex-Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who resigned this year, told The Associated Press that Scott asked him whether or not non-U.S. citizens were registered and if those people were voting. Browning explained to the governor during a face-to-face meeting last year that people who register and falsely claim they are citizens can be charged with a crime.

"He says to me — well, people lie," Browning recalled this week. "Yes, people do. But we have always had to err on the side of the voter."

Browning said the conversation prompted state election officials to begin working to identify non-U.S. citizens. The state's initial list — compiled by comparing driver's licenses with voter registration data — showed that as many as 182,000 registered voters were eligible to be in the country but ineligible to vote.

But Browning said he decided against telling local election supervisors right away because he wanted to make sure the information was accurate in order to avoid a "firestorm of press" and criticism. Florida then spent months trying to get access to a federal database that tracks non-U.S. citizens in the country, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would not allow it.

"We were not confident enough about the information for this secretary to hang his hat on it," said Browning, who resigned after the Jan. 31 presidential preference primary.

Browning said media reports earlier this year that raised questions whether non-U.S. citizens were on the rolls required the state to keep pushing ahead with the effort.

rest at

Shedd Aquarium's Sea Otter Pup Makes Public Debut

Courtesy Shedd Aquarium

Women Will Soon Be Able To Afford The Most Effective Method Of Birth Control As A Result Of Obamacare

" The vast majority of women in the U.S. are not using the most effective method of birth control available, according to a newstudy from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The study finds that the pill is significantly less effective at preventing pregnancy than long-lasting contraceptive methods such as the intrauterine device (IUD), building on earlier research that has drawn the same conclusion. In fact, women using IUDs or implants were a staggering 20 times less likely to get pregnant than women who used shorter contraceptive methods like the pill.

Yet few women in the U.S. currently use this type of contraception because IUDs are often very expensive — with co-pays costing hundreds of dollars — and rarely covered by insurance plans. As the study's lead author, Dr. Brooke Winner, told Reuters:

Nationally, only about 5 percent are using long-lasting methods like IUDs and implants. We know one of the barriers to why they're not using them more frequently is up-front costs. If [more] women were using these products nationally, there would be a very significant drop in unintended pregnancies, which would have far-reaching effects."

Chicago Panhandlers File First Amendment Lawsuit

"The First Amendment protects your right to speak your mind, but does that include the right to ask strangers for money? A group of panhandlers in Chicago say that it does.

Eight panhandlers filed a federal suit seeking class action status against the City of Chicago, alleging that police routinely make them move from a high-end section of Michigan Avenue, the Associated Press reported.

All of the plaintiffs live in Chicago and regularly beg for money in the affluent section of what is known as the "Magnificent Mile," and claim that police intimidate them, threaten to arrest them, and make the false claim their activity is illegal, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The suit contends that panhandling is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Kim Pindak is a plaintiff in the suit who said a police officer told him panhandling was made illegal in the area because it is "a tourist spot" and "there have been too many thefts," the Sun-Times noted. Another plaintiff, McArthur Hubbard, alleges that a policeman told him he couldn't ask for money on Michigan Ave. and said "I will take you to jail, and I will take your money, and you can tell that to the judge.""

loudmouth conservative blowhard @gehrig38 Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios Lays Off Entire Staff #p2 #tcot - begged state for tax credits @espn

" This is probably the death knell for 38 Studios, the video game company whose problems started with a missed loan payment at the beginning of the month. Since then the company has bounced a check to Rhode Island, failed to make payroll, and begged the state for more help in the form of tax credits. Today, one (former) worker told Kotaku that 38 Studios has laid off every last employee and shut down their offices. "

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Obama on JPMorgan #p2 #tcot

By Robert Reich

The dog that didn't bark this week, let alone bite, was the President's response to JP Morgan Chase's bombshell admission of losing more than $2 billion in risky derivative trades that should never have been made.

"JP Morgan is one of the best-managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got and they still lost $2 billion," the President said on the television show "The View," which aired Tuesday, suggesting that a weaker bank might not have survived.

That was it.

Not a word about Jamie Dimon's tireless campaign to eviscerate the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill; his loud and repeated charge that the Street's near meltdown in 2008 didn't warrant more financial regulation; his leadership of Wall Street's brazen lobbying campaign to delay the Volcker Rule under Dodd-Frank, which is still delayed; and his efforts to make that rule meaningless by widening a loophole allowing banks to use commercial deposits to "hedge" (that is, make offsetting bets) their derivative trades.

Nor any mention Dimon's outrageous flaunting of Dodd-Frank and of the Volcker Rule by setting up a special division in the bank to make huge (and hugely profitable, when the bets paid off) derivative trades disguised as hedges.  

Nor Dimon's dual role as both chairman and CEO of JPMorgan (frowned on my experts in corporate governance) for which he collected a whopping $23 million this year, and $23 million in 2010 and 2011 in addition to a $17 million bonus.

Even if Obama didn't want to criticize Dimon, at the very least he could have used the occasion to come out squarely in favor of tougher financial regulation. It's the perfect time for him to call for resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act, of which the Volcker Rule – with its giant loophole for hedges — is a pale and inadequate substitute.

And for breaking up the biggest banks and setting a cap on their size, as the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve recommended several weeks ago.

Wall Street's biggest banks were too big to fail before the bailout. Now, led by JP Morgan Chase, they're even bigger.  Twenty years ago, the 10 largest banks on the Street held 10 percent of America's total bank assets. Now they hold over 70 percent.

rest at

awesome: Josef Miles, 9-Year-Old Boy, Protests Westboro Baptist Church #p2 #tcot

article image

In Topeka, Kansas, 9-year-old Josef Miles and his mother Patty Akrouche were walking around the Washburn University campus on Saturday, Graduation Day.

As they returned to their car, they saw Westboro Baptist Church protesters picketing with signs proclaiming God's hatred for homosexuals and others.

Miles asked his mom if he could create his own sign proclaiming his view of God's outlook, which read: "God Hates No One."

Akrouche told The Augusta Chronicle: "He's growing up to be a fine young man. I got my Mother's Day gift a day early."

Video: Rep. Mike Coffman Says Pres. Obama is "Not An American" #p2 #tcot

"Speaking to donors at the Elbert County Fairgrounds in Colorado on May 12, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) told the crowd: "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American" (video below).

Elbert County Republican Chairman Scott Wills told Colorado's 9News that there was "deafening silence" before the crowd reacted with reluctant applause.

In a statement on Wednesday, Coffman said: "I misspoke and I apologize. I have confidence in President Obama's citizenship and legitimacy as President of the United States.""

rest at

REVEALED: The Racist GOP Campaign To Smear The President @barackobama #p2 #tcot

Problems viewing this email? View it in your web browser.

The Progress Report Banner

REVEALED: The Racist GOP Campaign To Smear The President

May 17, 2012 | By ThinkProgress War Room

A Shameful Effort by Republicans to Divide Our Country

A front-page New York Times story today exposed a shocking $10 MILLION racist campaign to smear the president that was prepared by GOP operatives and was merely awaiting final sign-off from a politically active right-wing billionaire. The campaign was to focus on the president's previous ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a racially inflammatory topic that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared firmly off-limits during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Here's the rundown on the latest right-wing effort to attack the president.

What was the smear campaign going to involve?

  • A 5-minute "film" meant to "inflame opinion" about Obama's character and former ties Wright.
  • More than $8 MILLION in television and online ads.
  • A national tour of spokespeople, specifically to include an "extremely literate" black male.
  • A launch press conference and other activities in Charlotte, NC to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

You can check out the entire 54-page attack plan, entitled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good," here.

Who was going to pay for it?

Joe Ricketts, a right-wing billionaire who founded TD Ameritrade and whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts, who just so happened to sell $10.46 MILLION in TD Ameritrade stock last month, was to bankroll the project through his Ending Spending Super PAC.

On page 3 of the planning document, Rickets is quoted as saying, "If the nation had seen that [unaired McCain ad featuring Rev. Wright], they'd never have elected Barack Obama.

Despite professing strong opposition to government spending, Ricketts and his family (some of whom are Democrats) are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers funds to update Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Who was going to execute the campaign?

A team of GOP operatives, led by notorious ad man Fred Davis, who has a history of making race-baiting ads. Davis was to make the film and manage a team of "pirates" who would be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to execute the six-month effort.

Fred Davis was McCain's ad man during 2008 and famously pushed McCain to use Rev. Wright against Obama, which McCain, to his credit, steadfastly refused to allow. The game plan for the smear campaign begins with "Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do."

Davis' other clients during the current election cycle include Jon Huntsman, GOP Reps. Ben Quayle (AZ), Steve King (IA), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).

How did Mitt Romney respond?

When asked by a reporter this morning if the Wright issue was off the table for 2012, Romney refused to say that it was and responded weakly that he hadn't "read the papers yet." Only later did his campaign manager and then Romney himself repudiate the effort, while also whining that the Obama campaign was engaging in "character assasination" for exposing Romney's record at Bain Capital. Interestingly, the conservative website to which Romney made his first comments on the smear campaign itself traffics in Rev. Wright attacks, including one recent column on Wright by the very same man who was to be the official spokesman for the effort.

Despite "repudiating" the line of attack, it also emerged today that Romney himself had used the Rev. Wright attack against Obama as recently as February. When quizzed about that apparent contradiction at a hastily called press conference this afternoon, Romney responded, "I stand by what I said, whatever it was."

Watch Romney stand by his Rev. Wright attack:

What now?

It appears that exposing the shameful, racist campaign has probably killed it. Joe Ricketts issued a statement distancing himself from the plan that bears his name:

Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called "Ricketts Plan" to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.

The statement did not explain how Ricketts can both reject dirty racial politics and yet also believe that Americans would not have elected President Obama in 2008 if only they'd heard more about Rev. Wright.

TD Ameritrade, the company Ricketts founded, also found itself in the cross-fire and quickly moved to distance itself from him and his comments.

IN ONE SENTENCE: Once again, when presented with the opportunity to stand up to intolerance in his own party, Mitt Romney once again hesitated and was exposed to have used the attack himself.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

Republican Congressman goes birther, says Obama is "just not an American."

A must-read piece about income equality and how the middle class is the real engine of the economy.

John McCain and his former campaign manager today stood by their decision to keep the Rev. Wright issue off limits in 2008.

Mitt Romney said the JP Morgan fiasco is "just the way America works."

A growing number of African-Americans are supporting marriage equality in the wake of the president's evolution.

Senators introduced a bill to ban wealthy people who renounce their U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes from ever entering the country again.

TED refuses to release a talk on income inequality, claiming it was "overly partisan."

A Bain Capital protegé who also bankrupted companies and shifted pension liabilities onto taxpayers is holding a high-dollar fundraiser for Mitt Romney today.

Poll: 3 in 4 Americans believe the feds should back off marijuana users who comply with state laws.

THINKPROGRESS | Center for American Progress Action Fund
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor | Washington, DC 20005

Curt Schilling's @gehrig38 company 38 Studios brings $1.1-million bad check to R.I. EDC @espn @ESPN_Colin

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- "38 Studios arrived at EDC at 5 p.m. with a check. Upon learning from the CFO of 38 Studios that there were insufficient funds in the account to cover the check, EDC returned the check to 38 Studios," Governor Chafee's spokeswoman, Christine Hunsinger, said. "EDC remains willing to accept payment with readily available funds."

.@Cubs another reason to hate the chicago cubs: plutocrat owners of team planned attack ad on @barackobama; now refute it #p2 #tcot

the team is looking to fund rehab to shit hole of a ball park with taxpayer money. This kind of bad PR would shot that plan down.

This is a microcosm of how good it is to be a team owner. You get the city to pay you to run your ball team; then you lobby congress with your fat wallet to keep your tax rate low, keep bullshit rules like carried interest in the tax law. Best of both worlds.

"The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, today moved to control the fallout from a now-disavowed plan to politically attack President Barack Obama reportedly funded by family patriarch.

The New York Times first reported that a plan was submitted to Joe Ricketts to use $10 million to fund Super PAC advertisements linking Obama to the controversial preaching of his onetime pastor,Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose teachings were perceived as a liability to the president when he ran in 2008.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, who has been pushing a plan to get government help in rebuilding Wrigley Field, issued a statement distancing himself and the organization from that plan.

"As chairman of the Chicago Cubs, I repudiate any return to racially divisive issues in this year's presidential campaign or in any setting — like my father has," Tom Ricketts said in the statement. "I shall have no further comment on this or any other election year political issue. My full-time focus is on making the Chicago Cubs a World Series champion preserving Wrigley Field and making the Chicago Cubs a great corporate citizen."

Ricketts' statement came as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, blasted the proposed political attack on the president as an insult to the nation.

"I don't think that's fitting in a campaign of any nature," Emanuel said, cautioning that he does not have first-hand knowledge of the Ricketts effort. "You can have disagreements without being disagreeable."

"America is too great a country with too great a future with the content they are talking about," added the mayor. "And it's insulting to the president, it's insulting to the country."

The Cubs are trying to work out a deal with the city that would involve using $150 million in city amusement taxes for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field.

The presidential campaign issue was widely viewed as threatening to upend the delicate talks between the family and city and state government. A mayoral aide said Emanuel was furious when he read about the anti-Obama ad proposal. The aide said the Ricketts family has tried to contact Emanuel to discuss the situation, but the mayor declined the overture.

Publicly, Emanuel did not have an immediate comment on how the effort by Joe Ricketts might affect those talks.

"I'll have some conversations on that later — comments rather," Emanuel said.

Laura Ricketts, a major fundraiser for Obama and Cubs co-owner, also issued a statement today:

"All of my family members and I love this country and are passionate about doing what is right for the country.  That love of country was instilled in us by my father.  We have different political views on how to achieve what is best for the future of America, but we agree that each of us is entitled to our own views and our right to voice those views.
"Though we may have diverse political views, above all we love and respect each other," Laura Ricketts said in a statement. "My own personal view is that President Obama has been a great leader in very difficult times. He has been leading us to an economic recovery; served with great honor as commander-in-chief during a time of war; been a strong proponent on issues important to women and just last week he exhibited great courage in endorsing the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian Americans."

The political consulting firm that drafted the proposed ad campaign against Obama, Strategic Perception Inc., said the Ricketts family never approved it, and nothing has happened on it since the presentation."

Brian Baker, president of the Super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund, which is heavily funded by Joe Ricketts, issued a statement today saying the attack ad against Obama won't go forward.

"Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called "Ricketts Plan" to defeat Mr. Obama," Baker said. "It reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take.""

Did you buy Skechers Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Toners, or Tone-ups shoes? You may be eligible for a refund.

link here

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Facts That Put America To Shame: #4 We Give Prison Sentences for Smoking Marijuana, but Not for Billion-Dollar Fraud



"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" These words, from poet Emma Lazarus, were inscribed on the Statue of Liberty over 100 years ago. Today the golden door has a lock on it, paid for with record profits from the health care, education and financial industries.

1. We're Near the Bottom of the Developed World in Children's Health and Safety

According to a 2007 The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report, the US ranked last among 21 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations in an assessment of child health and safety. The assessment measured infant mortality, immunization, and death from accidents and injuries.

A related 2009 OECD study generally agreed, placing the US 24th out of 30 OECD countries for children's health and safety. It also showed the devastating effects of inequality in our country. Despite having the second-highest average income for children among the 30 OECD countries, the US ranked 27th out of 30 for child poverty (percentage of children living in households that are below 50% of the median income).

2. We've Betrayed the Young People Who Were Advised to Stay in School

Over 40% of recent college graduates are living with their parents, dealing with government loans that average $27,200. The unemployment rate for young people is about 50%. More than 350,000 Americans with advanced degrees applied for food stamps in 2010.

As Washington lobbyists endeavor to kill a proposed bill to reduce the interest rates on student debt, federal loans remain readily available, and so colleges go right on increasing their tuition.

Meanwhile, corporations hold $2 trillion in cash while looking for investments and employees in foreign countries, and American students are forced to accept menial positions. Yet, delusions persist about our new generation of would-be workers. Conservatives are all bubbly about today's young entrepreneurs creating their own jobs - jobs that "don't yet exist."

3. The Main Source of Middle-Class Wealth Has Been Largely Wiped Out

American homeowners owe almost as much as the students, with $700 billion of debt over and above the value of their homes.

This removes the only source of wealth for middle America, especially for blacks and Hispanics. Remarkably, for every dollar of non-home wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.

So when minority families were specifically targeted for high-risk, subprime loans that could be re-packaged and sold for a quick short-term profit, most of their assets were erased. Median wealth fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. For whites the decline was 16%.

With a disturbing note of irony, Sanford Weill - the banker largely responsible for the reversal of the mortgage-protecting Glass-Steagall Act - was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences for "extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve."

4. We Give Prison Sentences for Smoking Marijuana, but Not for Billion-Dollar Fraud

About half of our world-leading prison population is in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Americans have also been arrested for handing out free food in a park. Mothers in Ohio and Connecticut were jailed for enrolling their kids in out-of-district schools. As of 2003, in California there were 344 individuals serving sentences of 25 years or more for shoplifting as a third offense, in many cases after two non-violent offenses.

How does the market deal with this steady tide of petty crime? It strives for more. The new trend of private prisons is dependent on maintaining a sizable prison population to guarantee profits, with no incentive for rehabilitation.

As the number of inmates has surged, the people who devastated countless American lives "get out of jail free." The savings and loan fraud cost the nation between $300 billion and $500 billion, about 100 times more than the total cost of burglaries in 2010. The financial system bailout has already cost the country $3 trillion. Goldman Sachs packaged bad debt, sold it under a different name, persuaded ratings services to label it AAA and then bet against their own financial creation by selling it short. Other firms accused of fraud and insider trading were Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, Countrywide Financial, and Wells Fargo. The New York Times reported in 2008 that the Justice Department had postponed the bribery or fraud prosecutions of over 50 corporations, choosing instead to enter into agreements involving fines and "monitoring" periods.

5. You Can Have Health Care, If You Pay for It

A recent Commonwealth Fund study compared US health care spending to 12 other OECD countries. The data shows that reducing our costs to the median level of spending among the OECD countries would save us $1.5 trillion a year, more than our entire deficit.

Unfortunately, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and hospital administrators won't hear of it. There's too much money to be made. Bypass surgery in the US costs two to three times more than in Great Britain, Canada, France, and Germany. Cataract surgery costs four times more.

That's if you can pay for it. There are currently about 50 million uninsured Americans. At the other extreme are $2,400 oxymoronic penthouse hospital suites complete with butler and grand piano. Or, for those who don't get out much, emergency rooms in the home, with private cell-phone access to "concierge doctors."

Inequality in our country is so severe that 120,000 health care workers could have been hired with the salary paid to one man. That's a $40,000 salary for 40 health care workers for every one of the 3,000 counties in the United States. Instead, $5 billion dollars went to one man who reportedly made his first big haul ($4 billion, in 2007) by conspiring with Goldman Sachs in the above-mentioned short sale subterfuge.

The result of ignoring the health needs of the greater population, according to a report in the Annual Review of Public Health, is that "the health rankings of the United States have declined substantially when compared with other nations."


Privatization simply hasn't worked for health care, mortgage banking, higher education, or prison management. There is little incentive for profit-motivated firms to invest in disadvantaged or underemployed Americans. That's why taxes are necessary - to provide for the common good, and to return some of the gains from 60 years of productivity to the great majority of Americans who contributed to our growth. Unfortunately, the golden door on the Statue of Liberty seems to have an invisible hand holding it shut.

Paul Buchheit teaches Economic Inequality at DePaul University. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

.@gehrig38 typical conservative douche bag: Curt Schilling’s Video Game Company Might Cost Taxpayers $112 Million @espn

"The worst case scenario? 38 Studios goes under, and is unable to repay the loan. If that happens,taxpayers are on the hook for $112.6 million after interest is factored in. Maybe Curt Schillingwas right all along: big government and the stimulus plan just don't work."

Friday, May 11, 2012

White Supremacist Shaun Winkler Burns Cross, Runs for Sheriff in Idaho


Shaun Winkler, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Kootenai County, Idaho, hosted a cross-burning last Friday at his home. Winkler is also a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former staffer of the Aryan Nations.

Coeur d'Alene Press reports on the cross-burning:

The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. Afterward, Winkler called everyone's attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire.

The Seattle Weekly reports that Winkler's platform is "anti-negro and anti-jew":

On Monday, he participated in a candidates forum at the Blanchard Community Center. He continued to insist his Ku Klux Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and alcohol.
"Most people don't know that we don't just oppose the Jews and the negroes," he said. "We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind."
Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

.@SPEAKERBOEHNER House @GOP okay with raising taxes as long as it's on poor working parents #P2 #TCOT @barackobama


"In exchange for raising the debt ceiling, congressional Republicans secured a commitment to cut federal spending by $1 for each $1 in new borrowing authorized. The cuts were split evenly between the defense and non-defense side of the budget, but today the House voted to back out of the deal and replace defense cuts with cuts targeted at poor people:
The 218-199 vote capped a day of often emotional debate and carries with it major implications for the November elections –and the fiscal crisis awaiting Congress at the end of this year.
Building on the House budget resolution in March, the 167-page bill continues an aggressive election-year rewrite of last summer's agreements to shore up Pentagon spending without having to rely on new tax revenues. Non-defense appropriations already face $27 billion in cuts beyond what the budget law anticipated, and the new measure adds a second round of savings, culled from President Barack Obama's signature initiatives as well as core benefit programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and the child tax credit.

It's interesting that the child tax credit is considered fair game in this context. Instead of a "no tax hikes" pledge it now seems to be "no tax hikes except on low-income working parents.""