Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peace an illusion, says Israel FM

Israel's foreign minister has said there is no chance of an early solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and told people to "learn to live with it".

Dropping comprehensive peace moves would suit Israel's plans for Jerusalem

Avigdor Lieberman does not lead Israeli peace negotiations, but his statement casts a pall over latest US diplomatic efforts to revive negotiations.

Envoy George Mitchell is in the region, spearheading Obama administration efforts to re-launch negotiations.

Talks are stalled over the issue of Jewish settlements on occupied land.

Mr Mitchell is due to meet Mr Lieberman and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.

Reports quote US officials saying the visit was unlikely to conclude with a resumption of talks.

But the envoy said before a meeting with Israel's president: "We're going to continue with our efforts to achieve an early relaunch of negotiations... because we believe that's an essential step toward achieving the comprehensive peace."

In a radio interview, Mr Lieberman said people who think Israel and the Palestinians can reach a deal "do not understand reality and are sowing illusions".

"We have to be realistic - we will not be able to reach agreement on core and emotional subjects like Jerusalem and the right of return (of Palestinian refugees," he said.

"I am going to say very clearly - there are conflicts that have not been completely solved and people have learned to live with it, like Cyprus."

His suggestion was a long-term interim deal to ensure prosperity, security and stability and leave tough questions until later."

The Full Story

Radio host seeks pardon for executed SC ancestors

Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner is asking South Carolina to posthumously pardon two of his great-uncles — black landowners executed in 1915 after being convicted of murdering an elderly Confederate Army veteran.

Joyner learned the fate of farmers Thomas and Meeks Griffin during filming of the PBS documentary "African American Lives 2," which first aired in February 2008 and was based on research by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The program traces the lineage of 12 people, including Joyner. The host of "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" said he was stunned to learn of his South Carolina roots and two great-uncles he didn't know existed.

"The records will show they did not do what they were executed for, and maybe now they can rest in peace," Joyner said from his Dallas studio.

He said a pardon would bring long-overdue justice, adding "I started trying to put myself in my great-uncles' position and tried to imagine what they must've been going through."

The Griffins were forced to sell their 130 acres to finance their defense. After they died in the electric chair on Sept. 29, 1915, Joyner's grandmother moved to Florida, where the family's known history begins.

"It's very unusual for stories like this to be passed down from generation to generation among African-Americans," Joyner said. "As a people, we don't like to pass along bad news about family."

The Full Story

Holder, Duncan Pledge to Fight Teen Violence

Attorney General Eric Holder (center) addresses the media in Chicago as Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left) looks on. (AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday pledged federal support to fight a surge in youth violence in Chicago and other cities, calling the brutal beating death of a teenager on the city's South Side a wake-up call for the country.

But neither offered specifics or outlined any new strategies on how the government would help quell the increase in the number of violent deaths among teens.

Duncan and Holder were sent to Chicago by President Barack Obama to meet with officials, parents and students from Christian Fenger Academy High School after the vicious beating of a 16-year-old sophomore whose Sept. 24 after-school death was captured on a cell phone video.

Holder said the disturbing images of Derrion Albert's beating death have been a wake-up call for the country and a call to action for the Obama administration.

"Youth violence is not a Chicago problem, any more than it is a black problem, a white problem or a Hispanic problem," Holder said. "It is an American problem."

A study on youth violence funded by the Department of Justice and released Wednesday found that 60 percent of respondents had been exposed to violence in the past year, and nearly half had been assaulted at least once, Holder said. Exposure to violence included a range from minor to serious incidents. The findings also appeared Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The Full Story

SEC to appeal Cuban insider trading ruling

Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban heads into the Earle Cabell Federal Court building to attend a hearing held to address the insider trading suit filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission in Dallas, Texas May 26, 2009.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. securities regulators said on Wednesday it will appeal a court decision dismissing its insider trading case against Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban, one of the 400 richest Americans, had faced civil charges earlier this year that he acted on nonpublic information when he sold his stake in Internet search engine company to avoid more than $750,000 in losses.

The case was thrown out by a U.S. district court judge in July who said Cuban was not legally an insider.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it will appeal the dismissal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

"As we alleged in our complaint, Mark Cuban violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws by engaging in illegal insider trading in the securities of," said John Nester, a spokesman for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "We believe the District Court erred in dismissing our complaint."

But Cuban's lawyers said the SEC's case had already been dismissed by the judge based on the SEC's version of the facts and in the process invalidated one of the SEC's insider trading rules.

"Not only did the SEC lose on the law, but, as the Mr. Cuban's recent sanctions motion demonstrates, the SEC could never have won on the actual facts," said Stephen Best, an attorney at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

"This appeal is nothing more than the SEC's desperate attempt to shock a heartbeat into a case that was dead on arrival."

Citi, Goldman, JPMorgan Get Special Treatment: Today's Outrage

-- Who's running our government? If you answered Citigroup (C Quote), JPMorgan(JPM Quote) and Goldman Sachs (GS Quote), you may well be right.
Despite the tough talk on reigning in the power of the nation's biggest banks, President Obama's point man on financial regulation, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, appears to be at the beck and call of the heads of those three major banks. When Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon and Citi's Richard Parsons and Vikram Pandit are on the line, Geithner picks up the phone, according to a review of phone records by the Associated Press.
Geithner's calendar shows at least 80 contacts with Blankfein, Dimon, Parsons and Pandit during his first seven months as treasury secretary, according to the AP.

The Full Story

Freddie Mac: 30-yr mortgage average still falling

By Wallace Witkowski FRE

1.901.851.801.758a9a10a11a12p1p2p3pSAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Freddie Mac /quotes/comstock/13*!fre/quotes/nls/fre (FRE 1.80, +0.01, +0.55%) said Thursday that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average declined further to 4.87% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Oct. 8 from 4.94% last week. The last time the average was this low was May 21, when the average was 4.82%. The average was 5.94% a year ago. "Such low rates are spurring mortgage demand," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, in a statement. "Mortgage applications surged to a 19-week high over the week ending on October 2nd, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Moreover, applications for home purchases were at the strongest pace since the beginning of this year."

White House weighs Pakistan's role in winning war

WASHINGTON — Recognizing the U.S. can neither win in Afghanistan nor succeed more broadly against al-Qaida without Pakistan's cooperation, President Barack Obama's war council is weighing a new role for Pakistan in the 8-year-old struggle in the region.

Obama planned sessions Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Oval Office to continue the intense discussion about the increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan. The White House scheduled another, larger war council session — a fifth of five announced — for Friday, when the focus may finally shift to just how many additional troops would be needed to execute Obama's vision for a war he inherited but now must execute.

The White House revealed that Obama has in hand — and has for nearly a week — the troop request prepared by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It is said to include a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 combat troops to — McChrystal's strong preference — as many as 40,000.

A senior Pentagon official said Thursday that the Obama administration's delay in deciding on a strategy has, in turn, stalled European allies who are weighing how much more to contribute to Afghanistan.

Allies "who may be asked to vote for additional resources at some point are all waiting to see exactly what the U.S. decides to do in the wake of the McChrystal assessment," Assistant Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow, who oversees international security affairs, told reporters. "In the meantime, they have their own domestic issues and each individual country, those countries that have suffered high casualties are obviously having to deal with some who are arguing that the cost of this war isn't worth it."

The Full Story

[Video] School Cop Beats Down Special Ed Student Because His Shirt Was Untucked

Reason number 612 why "officers of the peace" get a bad 'rap.' This officer hired to protect students and faculty at a school for the learning disabled, to his job, badge, gun and uniform far too seriously and went ape sh*t on a kid because his shirt was not tucked. Marshawn Pitts, a 15-year old kid who suffered a brain injury as a child, landed in the school because of his learning disability. Could he have been a problem kid? Sure thing, and most likely. Did he deserve a grown man with a badge and a bad morning with his wife beating on him over a shirt? Hell no!

Stay tuned to FauxNews so they can explain how Obama caused this.

The great Swine Flu vaccine propaganda campaign has begun:

by Doug MataconisWASHINGTON - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appealed anew Wednesday for widespread inoculation against a surging swine flu threat, calling the vaccine “safe and secure.”

Sebelius unconditionally vouched for the safety of the vaccine, saying it “has been made exactly the same way seasonal vaccine has been made, year in and year out.”

Appearing on morning news shows to step up the Obama administration’s campaign for vaccinations, Sebelius said that “the adverse effects are minimal. … We know it’s safe and secure. … This is definitely is a safe vaccine for people to get.”

Sebelius was asked on CNN about surveys showing many parents were wary of getting their children vaccinated for fear the vaccine has been too hastily prepared and wasn’t safe. She replied that it was targeted specifically at the H1N1 virus and was “right on target with an immune response.”

The HHS secretary appeared as new cases of the flu, particularly among younger people, have been appearing recently. Some 600 people have died so far from the flu in this country, and the government has targeted roughly 90,000 sites to receive the swine flu vaccine by the end of this month.

“This flu is a younger person’s flu,” Sebelius said on NBC’s “Today” show. “Kids have no immunity to the flu … children are great carriers of bugs and viruses.”

Because of the danger of easy transmission, especially in school and day-care settings, Sebelius said, “We strongly urge parents to take precautionary steps. Flu kills every year … and we’ve got a great vaccine to deal with it.”

Translation — we’re from the government, trust us

How Christie Has Been Hurt In New Jersey: Mammograms

So how exactly is it that Jon Corzine has been catching up with Chris Christie in the New Jersey gubernatorial race? A lot of it has had to with women voters -- and mammograms.

Over the last several weeks, Corzine has been relentlessly hammering Christie over his advocacy of legalizing mandate-free insurance policies -- that is, not subject to state requirements that they cover certain procedures, which under New Jersey law include mammograms, autism screenings and other preventive care.

James Wolcott notes that this ad in particular has been given heavy rotation, warning women voters, "But if Chris Christie was governor insurance companies could drop mammogram coverage."

A recent Monmouth poll found that this was making for an effective wedge issue among independent women voters: "While these voters had been giving their soft support to Christie based on discontent with the Corzine economic record, they appear to have beaten a hasty retreat when threats to their health care access were raised."

Christie has called the ad "deceitful" and "awful," citing his own mother's battle with breast cancer. At the recent debate, he said: "So let's make it really clear. I would not have a plan that would ever prevent any women who needed a mammogram to get one. The governor knows it, and this is just another example of his shameful campaign."

But he can't seem to be able to dodge the attack, and has even had to modify his tactics. As the Corzine campaign pointed out, Christie's campaign recently edited their web site's issue page on health insurance, eliminating the term "mandate-free" and presenting such policies as an alternative for consumers.

This issue seems to be working for Corzine, so don't expect him to give it up any time soon.

By Eric Kleefeld

Gold Futures Hit Record High At $1,035, Up 19% From Past Year

Gold futures headed for new highs on Tuesday.

Gold for December delivery rose 2.13 percent to end trading for the day at the record price of $1,035.50 an ounce at the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the day, it had been as high as $1,045.

The metal has risen 19 percent in the past year.

All metal futures were up. December silver rose $71.50 to $1,725 on the Comex. January platinum was up $23.20 to $1,325, while palladium rose $5.70 to $309.

High-grade copper settled at $277.55, an increase of $4.85.

Kate Hudson Set to Marry A-Rod

Kate Hudson is set to marry Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez.

The ‘Fool’s Gold’ actress is delighted with the way her romance with the baseball star, who she has been dating since May, is progressing and friends are expecting the couple to announce their engagement in the near future.

A source said, “Kate is head over heels for Alex and he feels the same way. As long as things continue to be so great, they will get married. They are practically there already with the shared homes, the children and balancing work.”

Kate and Alex have just moved in together in New York and are taking steps to help their children bond.

Kate has a five-year-old son Ryder with her ex-husband, Black Crowes rocker Chris Robinson, while Alex is father to Natasha, four, and 16-month-old Ella, his kids with former spouse Cynthia.

The source added to the FOX 411 blog, “Kate will spend every free minute with him and she happily brings her son along with her to games and on trips to be with Alex.

“They are sharing one of her Los Angeles homes and his New York bachelor pad, but recently they have moved into a second home in Purchase, New York. Alex has to be close to New York for work and his daughters.

“Kate wanted Ryder to meet Alex’s daughters, and now the three kids play together. They make an adorable family. He makes plenty of time for family meals, and especially dates with Kate.”

Rep. Maxine Waters: *many* Congressman as bad as Charlie Rangel.

“Many members” of Congress suffer from the same disclosure issues as Rep. Charles Rangel (D.N.Y.), one of his allies said Wednesday.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) downplayed the seriousness of allegations against Rangel that he failed to disclose sources of income and pay taxes on some properties, saying that many lawmakers suffer from innocent lapses in judgment when filing mandatory financial disclosure forms.

“I want to tell you, there are many members who, if you go back over all of their records, over all of the years, you’re going to find that there were disclosures that were not made,” Waters said during an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday morning.

No, really: do tell. Just give us a second to get a couple of witnesses, some recording equipment, and an officer of the court or two. We’ll be needing names, dates, time of day, and of course any and all accomplices to these… disclosures that were not made. It’ll be a thing, and I know just the person to run it, too.

Seriously, why is Rep. Waters left alone to wander through the halls of Congress without supervision? Have the Democrats lost all semblance of professional pride?

Moe Lane

Michael Vick To Get A Reality Show

By Gary A. Johnson

Michael Vick committed a crime and did his time. He deserves the right to work and earn a living which he is doing by way of his employment with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. Good for him.

Now comes the news that Vick and BET also known in some circles as (Blacks Embarrassing Themselves) have partnered on the production of an eight-part documentary style reality show to be aired on the BET network early next year.

Only on BET.

Ever the optimist, I am all for Michael Vick being able to work and earn a living, but I wonder about this move. Is it too much too soon?

If produced the right way, the show could chronicle how Vick made a series of terrible decisions that negatively impacted his life. The show could further illustrate how one man who seemingly had it all and was on top of the world as the highest paid player in his sport crashed to his lowest point. He lost his money, he lost his fame, he tarnished his name and brought shame to his family.

There could be a series of sobering “teachable moments” that can help other people. The documentary could help Vick rehabilitate his image and perhaps portray him as a caring father and son and not the cold blooded dog killer that led to him serving time in a federal prison. It really could be all of these things and more.

My concern is less with Vick and more with BET. Name the last project or television show on BET that you thought was a quality piece of work? You know, a show that you could be proud of in the vein of “must see TV.” You don’t typically hear “masterpiece” and BET in the same sentence.

The show is tentatively titled The Michael Vick Project will follow and document Vick in several areas of his life including his release from prison to the Philadelphia Eagles and will show him as he rebuilds his relationships with his fiancé and children.

The show will also reportedly show Vick returning to the federal prison where he served 18 months and the Virginia property on which he ran the dog fighting operation. Vick’s company is reportedly co-producing the show.

Again, I wonder if this is too much too soon. There is the potential to have something good come from chronicling Vick’s mistakes, if produced properly.

Everyone deserves a second chance and Michael Vick is trying to make the most of his.

Should Michael Vick concentrate on football? Should he cash in on every available and reasonable opportunity that be believes is in his best interest? How much faith do you have in BET to produce this project?

What do you think?

Herta Müller awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009 has been awarded to the Romanian-born German author Herta Müller who, in the words of the award citation, "with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed".

In The Guardian, Alison Flood writes:
Although Müller left Romania over 20 years ago, she returns constantly to the themes of oppression, exile and dictatorship in her novels and poems, which also include The Appointment, about a young woman during Ceausescu's regime who works in a clothes factory, and sews notes into the suits of men bound for Italy, saying "marry me". Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger, published in English as The Passport, follows the story of a village miller in a German-speaking Romanian village, who applies for permission to emigrate to West Germany. Müller's latest novel Atemschaukel (Everything I Possess I Carry With Me) was published in August, and follows a 17-year-old boy who is deported to a Ukrainian labour camp. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called it "phenomenal, moving and humbling novel, perhaps the most memorable read of the autumn".

Blackface Jackson Skit Stuns Connick Jr.; Others Call Him a Hypocrite

An Australian variety show featuring performers parodying the Jackson Five while in blackface so outraged its American judge, that the program's host immediately apologized.

New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. was serving as a guest judge on Wednesday night's 'Hey Hey It's Saturday' when he became visibly shocked by the skit, in which four men with afro wigs and dark make-up calling themselves the "Jackson Jive" sang and danced behind a Michael Jackson impersonator wearing white makeup. Watch it after the jump.

Connick gave the skit a zero and later confronted the show's host, Daryl Somers, about the taboo subject.