Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Astronauts Conquering the Final Frontier

Orthopedic surgeon Robert Satcher put his considerable skills to work in space, repairing a robotic arm on NASA’s International Space Station.

Colleague Randolph Bresnik told Satcher his work was “the highest recorded orthopedic surgery — ever."

And there was another first. Satcher is the first orthopedic surgeon in space.

A much honored scholar and researcher, Satcher was selected by NASA in 2004 for the space program and completed astronaut candidate training in 2006. The mission specialist is one of six crew members on a mission to the International Space Station that will feature three space walks and bring home fellow astronaut Nicole Scott.

Before joining NASA, Satcher was an assistant professor at The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He also held an appointment as an attending physician in orthopaedic surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, specializing in Musculoskeletal Oncology; and an adjunct appointment in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northeastern University School of Engineering.

Satcher also completed numerous medical missions for outreach care to underserved areas in Nicaraugua, Venezuala, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Gabon.

Closer to home, Satcher has been active in numerous community organizations including Big Brother for Youth at Risk Counseling Program, Department of Corrections, San Francisco, California; Tutor for Black Student's Union Tutorial Program, MIT; National Society of Black Engineers; American Institute of Chemical Engineering; Supervising Adult for Cub Scout Camp for Boys, Nashville, Tennessee; Proctor for Freshman Dormitory at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Lay Episcopal Minister (primary responsibility is visiting sick and shut in members of church) at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois and at St. James Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.

Joining Satcher on this trip is fellow mission specialist Leland Melvin, who is an expert in fiber optics and aerospace structures and materials, especially in the development of launch vehicles for space.

The Lynchburg, Virginia native has won eight NASA Outstanding Performance Awards, two NASA Superior Accomplishment Awards and the key to the City of Lynchburg. An avid sports enthusiastic and college athlete, Melvin was an NCAA Division I Academic All-American and is a University of Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee. He was chosen by the Detroit Lions in the 11th round of the 1986 NFL college draft, and he also participated in the Toronto Argonauts and Dallas Cowboys football training camps.

Melvin, who joined the astronaut training in August 1998, has served the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch, the Education Department at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C, and the Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office. As co-manager of NASA's Educator Astronaut Program, Melvin traveled across the country, educating thousands of students and teachers about space exploration and encouraging them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The mission can be followed on Facebook. And a Friday morning interview on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" with Melvin and Satcher can be viewed live at

A person has died after a Miley Cyrus tour bus crash

An accident which involved singer Miley Cyrus's tour bus has killed one passenger, US police have confirmed.

Sergeant Thomas Molnar said the bus - which the teenage singer was not on at the time - overturned as it travelled on a main road in central Virginia.

One of the other nine passengers suffered minor injuries.

The 16-year-old's website said the Hannah Montana star is expected to perform Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Disney star is scheduled to play two dates in London next month.

Cyrus, who is the daughter of country singer Billy Ray, began her solo singing career in 2007 with her debut album, Meet Miley Cyrus.

UN Nuclear Chief Urges Iran to Send Uranium Abroad

Mohamed ElBaradei says he hopes Iran will not miss what he calls "unique but fleeting opportunity" to send uranium abroad for further enrichment. He spoke as officials from Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council prepared to hold talks in Brussels on Iran's nuclear program.

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency is urging Iran to accept an offer to send its uranium abroad for further enrichment.

Mohamed ElBaradei says he hopes Iran will not miss what he called a "unique but fleeting opportunity." He says it is Iran's turn to decide how it wants to proceed on the issue.

ElBaradei spoke as officials from Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia) prepare to hold talks Friday in Brussels on Iran's nuclear program.

On Wednesday, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country will not process its enriched uranium abroad -- as called for by a U.N.-brokered proposal -- and will consider only a uranium-for-fuel swap inside Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama says his administration has begun talks with allies on the consequences of Iran's failure to respond to the proposed deal.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government may consider better relations with the West, but only if it changed what he called its "arrogant" attitude and returned some of its nation's assets.

Iran has not suspended its uranium enrichment activities, despite three rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

Enriched uranium produces fuel that can be used for civilian purposes, or in highly enriched form, for nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Fox News airs old footage from 2008 Palin rallies to pump up Palin's 2009 book tour. I filed an FCC complaint!

Think Progress caught Fox News using old campaign footage of a McCain/Palin rally from 2008 to make it appear like the crowds she's drawing on her book tour are larger than they are.

Think Progress:

This afternoon, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett proudly announced that Sarah Palin is “continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand new book. Take a look at — these are some of the pictures just coming into us.” But the pictures that the network chose to display on-air appeared to be old file footage of Palin rallies from the 2008 presidential campaign. Individuals in the crowd are seen holding McCain/Palin signs, and others are holding pom-poms and cheering wildly. “There’s a crowd of folks,” an enthused Jarrett observed, referring to the old footage.

Media Matters followed up that report with more facts to support the claim, which in my mind should be called a HOAX.

Earlier, Think Progress caught Fox News showing what was clearly footage of 2008 Sarah Palin campaign rallies but claiming that it was video of "huge crowds" attending Palin's book tour.

But in case the McCain-Palin campaign signs and tee-shirts clearly visible in the footage Fox aired aren't enough to make Fox apologize, here's further proof.

Here's a screenshot of the footage of one of the rallies that Fox's Gregg Jarrett showed today and claimed was "just coming into us" as part of the book tour:

And here's a photo posted last year by Florida TV station CFNews 13 of a November 1, 2008, Palin rally in Ocala, Florida:And here's a video of that same rally that TPM posted way back in 2008 -- when it actually happened.

Fox News is not operating like a news organization. It was busted by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show when Sean Hannity used the same technique to make it seem like a tea party rally was bigger than it actually was. And you know Hannity was told to apologize by "legal" over the "Hoax" he tried to get away with. Inadvertent footage doesn't end up on a network show. That's a bogus explanation.

The Realist Prism: Horse Trading with Beijing

During his trip to Asia, President Barack Obama laid out a grand rhetorical vision for the future: a U.S.-China partnership working together to solve the world's most pressing issues. Speaking in Japan, Obama declared, "America will approach China with a focus on our interests. It's precisely for this reason that it is important to pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern, because no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century alone, and the United States and China will both be better off when we are able to meet them together."

It sounds very dramatic, almost like a form of co-dominion, with two global powers sharing the burdens of maintaining the international order.

There's just one small problem, of course: That is not what the United States is offering.

Washington still hopes that China will be satisfied with a "reformed" global system, one that might give Beijing a greater say in world affairs but would leave the United States in the position of chairman of the board (and the principal agenda-setter to boot). This is why Li Hongmei, an editor at People's Daily Online, characterizes the president's rhetoric as part of the same general U.S. strategy of "setting a limit on China's rise and growth by offering definitions and assessments of China's role in the international system. This also reflects the paradox in American logic: On the one hand, it needs China's leverage to combat the thorny problems facing all -- like climate change, nuclear threat and terrorism; while on the other hand, it will be on guard against China's rise as a global power, which they fear would overshadow the U.S."

The Full Story

Most Republicans think ACORN stole the 2008 election

If you ever doubted Fox's political power, look no further than these new poll results from PPP:

The poll asked this question: "Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?" The overall top-line is legitimately won 62%, ACORN stole it 26%.

Among Republicans, however, only 27% say Obama actually won the race, with 52% -- an outright majority -- saying that ACORN stole it, and 21% are undecided.

These sorts of numbers would not be possible without Fox, and I'm not just talking about their endless promotion of the ACORN "sting" videos.

It's important to remember that Fox's obsession with ACORN is nothing new. Indeed, before the 2008 election they breathlessly warned that ACORN was trying to steal the vote.

To give you an idea of just how long Fox has been building this ACORN narrative, check out this example: during one four-day period in the middle of October, 2008, Fox mentioned ACORN four times as frequently as CNN and MSNBC combined.

Mentions of ACORN 706 67 112

No well-informed person could believe that ACORN stole the election from John McCain, but in large part thanks to Fox News, nobody has ever accused the Republican base of being well-informed.

The AIG Bailout Is Still A Mystery Shrouded In Lies

Will we ever know why AIG was bailed out and why its credit default swap counterparties were made whole?

When AIG first began to ask for a bridge loan from the Federal Reserve, the public was told that AIG wanted additional "liquidity" to avoid a ratings downgrade. This implied that AIG's problem was relatively modest, related only to a temporary gap between funding for liquidity and its obligations. As we now know, AIG needed far more than the $40 "bridge loan" it originally requested.

Initially, there was skepticism that the Fed would provide a loan to an insurance company. This was far outside the scope of the Fed's traditional role of lending to banks it regulated. Some thought it might not be legal for the Fed to lend to AIG--we only later learned that the Fed can do whatever it wants.

But why did the Fed bailout AIG? And why did they do it in a way that was so generous to the CDS counterparties? What overcame the initial resistance to bailout out AIG?

For the past year, the reigning theory has been that the New York Fed and the Treasury Department decided to bailout AIG to prevent collateral damage to the banks and other financial institutions that had purchased credit default swaps from AIG. The idea is that a bankruptcy of AIG would have forced, say, Goldman Sachs to mark-down the swap contracts to zero, which would then have triggered a need to mark down the insured securities. As those securities were marked down, they may have rendered some already thinly capitalized banks insolvent or at least pushed their reserve capital requirements below regulatory requirements.

This initially prompted many of those who saw the deal wonder why those creditors, many of whom might have received just pennies on the dollar in an AIG bankruptcy, were apparently made whole. Were they really so thinly capitalized that any haircut would have triggered system-wide failures? If so, AIG was just a covert bailout of the rest of the unhealthy financial firms.

We've known for a couple of weeks now that some of the counterparties believed they were healthy enough to accept at least some discount on the CDS payout. Others, especially a pair of giant French banks, apparently believed they were under legal obligations not to accept a haircut by a company that hadn't been declared insolvent by a bankruptcy court. Still others just seem to have played a game of chicken with the US government--refusing to accept any deal because they suspected eventually the government would be forced to pay them out whole.

But in his recent testimony to a Congressional panel, Tim Geithner said the CDS counterparty theory is wrong. AIG was really bailed out to save ordinary American individuals and businesses that had purchased insurance from the company. It wasn't the failure of derivative contracts or thinly capitalized financial firms but the failure of AIGs traditional insurance business that had the regulators worried.

"This is startling," the WSJ editorial page explains.

Yet, if there is one thing that all observers seemed to agree on last year, it was that AIG's money to pay policyholders was segregated and safe inside the regulated insurance subsidiaries. If the real systemic danger was the condition of these highly regulated subsidiaries—where there was no CDS trading—then the Beltway narrative implodes.

So what the hell was going on? Was it insurance contracts or derivatives? Both?

We suspect that answer is actually neither. All of these explanations assume that regulators knew what they were doing and provided a rational response to a perceived threat. But that doesn't match what we know about the regulators in the fall of 2008.

Hank Paulson only learned of the deep problems at AIG from a side conversation with private equity financier who was attempting to buy a piece of the company. Neither Paulson nor Geithner had understood that a private-sector rescue of Lehman Brothers would be impossible. The chaos in money market funds that followed Lehman's collapse caught them unaware. They were in a panic about the "unknown unknowns."

There is something annoying about having to speculate about the bailout. Under an allegedly republican form of government, major decisions by the US government should come with publicly articulated explanations that can be judged on their merits. What we're stuck with now is more like Kremlinology, trying to judge the secret rationales and beneficiaries of government policy. If that proverbial martian landed on earth and noticed the celebrations of 20th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, we'd have to excuse some confusion on his part about whether the east or west had triumphed.

Enforcement of immigration laws decline under Obama

Washington Times:

Arrests of illegal immigrant workers have dropped precipitously under President Obama, according to figures released Wednesday.

Criminal arrests, administrative arrests, indictments and convictions of illegal immigrants at work sites all fell by more than 50 percent from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2009.

The figures show that Mr. Obama has made good on his pledge to shift enforcement away from going after illegal immigrant workers themselves - but at the expense of Americans' jobs, said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the Republican who compiled the numbers from the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Mr. Smith, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said a period of economic turmoil is the wrong time to be cutting enforcement and letting illegal immigrants take jobs that Americans otherwise would hold.


Replacement workers at plants which had enforcement action were US citizens, so they have a point on the jobs front. More importantly, the lack of enforcement action means there are few consequences to coming here illegally, which means that it will encourage more illegal immigration.

I am pro immigration, but it must be legal immigration. We need to uphold the rule of law and control our borders.

Big Night for Ricky Williams Leads Dolphins to 24-17 Win Over Panthers

The Dolphins were hoping Thursday night for a prime time effort from running back Ricky Williams, taking the place of the injured Ronnie Brown. They got more than they probably thought they would from their back, as Williams scored three times and rushed for 119 yards as the Dolphins moved to 5-5 with a 24-17 win.

Williams caught a 14-yard TD from Chad Henne in the second quarter to put Miami up 7-3, then ran in a one-yard run to make it 14-3 with :57 seconds left in the first half. Then with Miami holding to a 17-14 lead with less than four minutes left, Williams broke through a hole and went 46 yards for a clinching score to make it 24-14.

He ran hard all night, and overall the Dolphins run game put up 154 yards on 31 carries, a 5.0 yards per carry average. Henne was 17-for-29 for 172 yards with a score and a QB rating of 87.1. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, who threw a TD to Steve Smith to make it 17-14 with 5:18 left, was 19-for-42 for 227 yards with a TD and a pick.

Delhomme was also under pressure a great deal from the Dolphins front four and their linebackers. He was sacked four times for minus 26 yards, and even on the last hail mary of the game was under pressure and just heaved the ball towards the end zone which was knocked down.

Carolina was led by a big night on the ground by DeAngelo Williams, who though being dinged was able to rush for 122 yards on just 13 carries, a 9.4 yards per carry average, which included a 50-yard run. Carolina ran for 182 yards, but were unable to get those sustained drives as they did vs Atlanta a week ago.

The Panthers fall to 4-6 on the season, and it was considered to be a must win for the club if they wanted to be a force for a wild card in the NFC. They still have games left against the 6-3 Pats, 8-1 Vikings and 9-0 Saints.

For the Dolphins, they are back to .500 after they started the season 0-3 and then 3-5. They get set to play at Buffalo a week from Sunday at 1pm.

About miami, carolina panthers, panthers thursday, ricky williams, dolphins | Find me About on November 20th, 2009 1:28 am [...] The Dolphins were hoping Thursday night for a prime time effort from running back Ricky Williams, taking the place of the injured Ronnie Brown. They got more than they probably thought they would from their back, as Williams scored three times and …Read Original Story: Big Night for Ricky Williams Leads Dolphins to 24-17 Win Over Panthers – … [...]

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Iverson to Knicks? A source close to the Knicks told the New York Times it’s “a given” the Knicks will pursue Allen Iverson after he clears waivers tomorrow evening. Assuming there’s no bidding war, they could get him for the veterans’ minimum, $1.3 million, as they still have their $5.8 million midlevel exception. Little risk. They’re 1-9. Why not?

Jesse Jackson Says Black Men 'Can't Vote Against Healthcare', Media Mostly Mum

If a prominent white man said all white men in Congress should vote for or against a pending piece of legislation, what do you think the media firestorm would be like?

As you ponder, consider that Jesse Jackson on Wednesday told a reception held by the Congressional Black Caucus, “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”

Although the comment was first reported by The Hill at 5:42 PM EST Wednesday, LexisNexis and Google news searches identified astonishingly little media coverage.

Here's The Hill's report:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday night criticized Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) for voting against the Democrats’ signature healthcare bill.

“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,” Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”

The remark stirred a murmur at the reception, held by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation as part of a series of events revolving around the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s run for president.

Despite this murmur, a LexisNexis search identified absolutely no major media references to this incident.

As for a Google news search, the Washington Post reported the CBC doing a tribute to Jackson on the House floor Wednesday morning, but didn't follow-up with anything that happened at the reception in the evening.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Political Wire blog reported this at the newspaper's website moments ago.'s First Read blog also reported this in the last couple of hours, but well at the end of a news wrap-up.

And, just minutes ago, USA Today's On Politics blog covered the incident as well.

That appears to be it...for now.

Once again, what kind of media firestorm would occur if a prominent white man said that all white men in Congress had to vote for or against a pending piece of legislation?

Katrina Disaster Was the Corps of Engineers Failure

From Time magazine:

There can be something thrilling about accountability, so it was nice to see a federal judge declare the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers directly responsible for the destruction of most of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The blistering ruling validates the rage felt by so many survivors — and may put them in line for some much needed cash. It also provides an always welcome opportunity for those of us who have banged our spoons on our high chairs about the culpability of the Corps again and again and again to say we told you so. And it could help spread a message to millions of Americans who still think the tragedy of Katrina was the government’s response to the disaster rather than the government’s creation of the disaster.

The idea that Katrina wasn’t Bush’s fault is probably a novel one to most Americans. That the Mayor and Governor were Democrats was inconsequential. The media pounded us with the idea that all that really mattered was how much Bush cared. Clearly, not enough. The Democrats got a lot of mileage out of that fact-free bit of demagoguery.

The lesson of Katrina doesn’t just apply to hurricanes. Health care reform is a government made disaster in the making. Sure, Medicare is a disaster now, but the government fix is going to be the thing that sends a storm surge of red ink over the levies. When it happens, you can bet the left and their media allies will be ready to shift the blame to the nearest Republican.

JW Calls on President Obama to Overrule Attorney General Holder's Decision on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Trial

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement today in response to the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to grant a civilian criminal trial to 9/11 terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and other 9/11 terrorists in New York City:

The decision to bring Mohammed and other Al Qaeda terrorists to New York for a civilian criminal trial is not Eric Holder's to make. President Obama is the commander in chief and he is ultimately responsible for the safety and security of this county.

President Obama already reversed Holder on the release of prisoner abuse photos on national security grounds and he should reverse Holder now in the interest of national security. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should remain in military custody, be kept outside the United States and be brought to justice in the military tribunal system.

An unprecedented civilian trial for the 9/11 terrorists will harm our national security, place government officials and civilians at risk, and provide a propaganda platform to rally and recruit terrorists. And it is no small risk that civilian criminal proceeding may result in the release of these terrorists onto American soil. No one elected Eric Holder to make these types of national security decisions. Eric Holder is making a dangerous mistake, and the President needs to act to protect the country and overrule the Attorney General.

Judicial Watch is representing a 9/11 victim in various litigation. And with respect to the military tribunal process, in 2008, Judicial Watch was selected by the Pentagon to monitor the arraignments at Guantanamo Bay of the five terrorist prisoners who are now set to be brought to New York.

In August, Judicial Watch obtained a CIA report entitled, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al Qa'ida, which documented the information gained by interrogations of Mohammed: "KSM's decade-long career as a terrorist, during which he met with a broad range of Islamic extremists from around the world, has made him a key source of information on numerous al Qa'ida operatives and other mujahidin. He has provided intelligence that has led directly to the capture of operatives or fleshed out our understanding of the activities of important detainees, which in turn assisted in the debriefings of these individuals." This document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

NYDN: Giuliani Will Run for Senate... then President

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has decided not to run for governor next - but will run for U.S. Senate instead, sources told the Daily News.


If elected, the source said, he would use that as a stepping stone to run for President in 2012 - and would not run for re-election to the Senate. A Giuliani spokeswoman downplayed the reports.

The polling on the race suggests that this could be a genuine possibility, with Rudy Giuliani leading Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gilibrand by a 51 percent to 40 percent margin in recent Marist polling and a 53 percent to 36 percent margin in recent Siena (.pdf) polling. What's more, considering that Giuliani isn't going to beat Andrew Cuomo, who many believe will end up being the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee, a decision to run for the Senate rather than for Governor makes sense on another level.

Then again, New Yorkers are going to vote for a Senator they know is going to immediately turn around and run for President, a Senator who would almost undoubtedly be an absentee legislator spending more time on the hustings in Iowa than in the halls of Congress? Hard to imagine.

To add... Do remember this: Giuliani hasn't found a big race he hasn't been willing to pull out of for some time. In 2008, Giuliani pulled out of Iowa. He then effectively pulled out of New Hampshire. Long before that he pulled out of the 2000 Senate campaign in New York against Hillary Clinton. Not exactly a track record of being able to withstand the rigor of a genuine campaign.