Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Randall Cunningham’s Son Drowns in Hot Tub


The two-year-old son of former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham drowning in a hot tub Tuesday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A woman at Cunningham’s Las Vegas home found the little boy floating in the backyard hot tub. She got him out and started CPR. When paramedics got there, they rushed him to the hospital, but were not able to revive him.

“It appears that it’s just a complete tragedy,” Lt. Dennis Flynn told Fox5 news. “It only takes a brief minute for someone to take their eye off the child.”

Story was reported by Ashley Arnold and Karen Araiza for NBCPhiladelphia.com

LeBron James to the Miami Heat: Pros and Cons


In the biggest free-agency bonanza to ever hit the NBA, LeBron James is the first domino that has to fall before everyone else figures out their next move. From D-Wade all the way down to Brian Scalabrine, you could say every other free agent’s future will in some way be affected by LeBron’s decision.

With the official start of free agency set for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning, we decided to look at each team believed to be in the running for LeBron and delve into the reasons why LBJ would and wouldn’t (or should and shouldn’t) sign with them. First up: The Miami Heat.


PROS — For just a second, put aside the latest gospel of Stephen A. Smith, whose “sources” have told him that the arrival of LeBron and Chris Bosh to Miami is all but imminent, and ask yourself: Is there a more appropriate spot for LeBron than South Florida? In the midst of the glitz and glamour that surrounds South Beach nightlife lies a basketball team in need of a player capable of shining in the limelight. Who better to fill that void than the “King” himself?

Apparently the Heat and Pat Riley are trying to answer that very question. Having dumped more payroll than anyone anticipated, the Heat have only two players under contract for next season (Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers), one of whom they’re actively shopping (Beasley). That leaves the team with enough money to sign a minimum of two of the biggest free agents to max contracts, with the potential for a third.

Right on cue, after the Heat used the Draft as a dumping ground for Daequan Cook’s salary, Stephen A. made the announcement regarding LeBron and Bosh’s plans to join Dwyane Wade in Miami. Even without a third superstar, the team will have other free agents lining up for the chance to play with a superstar tandem, especially if Riley can convince Wade to stay. The Heat are facing an historic opportunity to sell out American Airlines Arena for the next five years if they can get the necessary deals done, and they’ve set themselves up perfectly.

CONS — The Heat have undoubtedly sliced their roster in hopes of signing more than just one of the current free agent crop, but therein lies the problem: As the biggest star in the NBA, will LeBron want to share the limelight in Miami? A team boasting LeBron, Wade and Bosh has nightmarish potential for any coach, including one as intelligent as Riley (who you know will seriously considering taking his spot back from Erik Spoelstra if Miami brings in a haul of superstars).

When and if things go sour in Miami, though, who will take the blame? Who’s going to ask for more shots? Who will be the first of the superstars to make a stupid post-game remark? As much as the thought of adding LeBron has Heat fans salivating, any team that boasts more than one superstar has obvious potential for a fair share of problems. If he decided on Los Angeles, LeBron would be the Clippers’ go-to star, surrounded by quality young talent. The situation is similar in Chicago, where Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have earned reputations as two of the rising stars in the League. Of course, there also lies the challenge of joining the Knicks and shaping the fate of a franchise in the biggest sports market in the world. In Miami, however, the question marks that abound regarding the supporting cast might prove somewhat of a detriment to the Heat’s pursuit of King James.

ODDS — 10 to 1. Though a decent bet, nothing can be sure in an unpredictable summer of big-name free agency. Depending on LeBron’s talks with other available free agents, he may very well be making the debut of jersey #6 in black and red next season.


By Camron Ghorbi

Boston Herald: Doc Rivers Coming Back To Celtics Written by: Robert Littal


Both Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers had to make decisions on if they wanted to come back for the 2011 season.

Jackson has health issues and Rivers had family concerns, but according to the Boston Herald the Celtics family has won out in regards to Rivers. Here are the details:

Doc Rivers is not opting out.

The Celtic coach will be returning to the club for at least the remaining season on his contract, a source close to Rivers indicated moments ago.

I think if Doc does stay it becomes extremely unlikely that Paul Pierce leaves and it increases the chances of Ray Allen coming back.

Good news for Celtics fan.

Citing high black arrests, NAACP endorses pot legalization

By Malcolm Maclachlan

On Monday, the California State Conference of the NAACP announced its “unconditional endorsement” of a November initiative that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.



On Tuesday, the NAACP said why. According to a just-released study by the Drug Policy Alliance, blacks are far more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites — even though statistically, blacks use marijuana at lower rates than whites. The Alliance, a national advocacy group, favors treatment rather than arrest or imprisonment for people suffering from drug dependency.



Meanwhile, a prominent African-American opponent of the initiative accused the group’s leader, Alice Huffman, of selling out “to the highest bidder” with the endorsement.



At a press conference at the California NAACP’s Sacramento headquarters, the group’s president, Alice Huffman, portrayed marijuana laws as a means of criminalizing young black men. She was joined by several other African-America leaders, including Aubry Stone, president of the California Black Chamber of Commerce, and Neil Franklin of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).



“It is time for them to stop using my community to fill the prisons,” Huffman said. “Once you get into the system, the next time you get arrested, they bump you up [to more serious charges].”



Defendants are usually given a summons that “looks like a traffic ticket,” the report noted. They’re not given a public defender, and usually end up paying a fine that can add up to hundreds of dollars. But afterwards, these people have officially pleaded guilty to a drug offense. This, in turn, shows up on criminal databases and can come up years later when, for instance, the person applies for a job.



“For young, low-income African Americans and Latinos – who use marijuana less than young whites, and who already face numerous barriers and hurdles – a criminal record for the ‘drug crime’ of marijuana possession can seriously harm their life chances,” the report said.



The study also found that total marijuana arrests have gone up, even while overall crime and arrest rates have been going down. There were more than 60,000 arrests for marijuana possession in California in 2008, according to the report, compared to 20,000 in 1990. These arrest records come from the U.S. Government's FBI Uniform Crime Report.



Arrests for “youth of color” rose four times faster than that, from 3,100 in 1990 to 16,300 in 2008. The study found that blacks and Latinos make up 44 percent of California’s population, but 56 percent of marijuana possession arrests. This was despite the fact that whites were slightly more likely than blacks to have had used marijuana in the past month; whites were about 50 percent more likely than Latinos to have used the drug in the preceding month.



These statistics held true across California — in rural and urban areas, and in areas with both high and low African-American populations, compared to the state average. In every one of California’s 25 largest counties, blacks were arrested at higher rates than whites. Across these 25 counties, representing 90 percent of the state’s population, blacks represent 7 percent of the population but 20 percent of arrests for marijuana possession. In Los Angeles County, blacks are 10 percent of the population, but represent 30 percent of marijuana arrests. Overall, they’re arrested for pot at 332 percent of the rate of whites.



The marijuana legalization initiative was put on the November ballot by Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, an Oakland school that teaches people how to get into the medical marijuana business. On Monday, the Secretary of State’s Office gave it the designation of Proposition 19.



One major voice opposing Proposition 19 is Bishop Ron Allen, the president of a group called the International Faith Based Coalition. He said marijuana is a gateway drug, and legalizing it would lead to more crime and violence in poor communities. As evidence, he pointed to the murders last week of two workers in separate armed robberies at medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. Other opponents include the state’s narcotic enforcement officers and other law enforcement groups.



He also claimed that 60 percent of marijuana arrests are of whites.



“These statistics are not correct,” Allen said of the Drug Policy Alliance study.



Allen is a recovering addict himself, having moved from pot to crack in his early years. One of Allen’s colleagues in the cause, Elder Jesse Williams, said his own 14 year-old son is a marijuana addict who has robbed people at gun and knife-point, and even stolen his own mother’s car, to satisfy his fix.



“Legalizing marijuana will never be the solution to stopping black arrests,” Allen said. “She knows that. It’s a smokescreen.”



He also questioned Huffman’s motives to the endorsement, saying, “We are afraid the good name of the NAACP is being sold to the highest bidder.”



A new SurveyUSA poll conducted back in April shows that Allen’s message isn’t resonating with African-American voters.




The telephone poll of 500 adults conducted found the idea of legalizing pot leading 56 percent to 42 percent. Among African-Americans surveyed, 67 percent supported the idea, while only 29 percent were opposed. Fifty-nine percent of white voters supported the idea, along with 58 percent of Asians and only 45 percent of Hispanics.



The results were also heavily tilted by gender and age. Men support legalizing marijuana by a 65 percent to 32 percent margin. Women oppose the idea, 46 percent to 51 percent. Three quarters of voters under 35 support the idea—the only age group that gave it majority support.

What drove Park Yong Ha to commit suicide?


Although several hour have passed since Park Yong Ha’s death, but questions still remained unsolved: what drove Park Yong Ha to commit suicide?

Many acquaintances of the actor have all claimed that they do not know the reason of Park Yong Ha’s death, as he’s been acting like normal for the past few days. But it isn’t what it seems beneath the surface.

After further investigations, it’s been revealed that Park Yong Ha has had difficult times because of his ill father. His father has been suffering stomach cancer for a long period of time, and was told recently that it was in a terminal stage. A friend of Park Yong Ha claims, “After learning that his father had cancer, Yong Ha brought his father home and cared for him. He always worried about his father. He also said that he will be focusing on caring for his father for a while.”

Park Yong Ha’s failure in business also seems to be another reason for his suicide. Right before appearing on On Air (drama), he became independent from his ex-agency, and established his own company, with his father as the company’s president. According to a family acquaintance, running the business was not an easy task for them. A manager in the company made a financial mistake after getting various loans, causing the agency a huge loss. To make matters worse, Park Yong Ha’s father was left with a huge debt after mistakenly co-signing someone else’s loan. To contribute to the financial difficulty of the family, Park Yong Ha had even recently consulted a used car dealer to sell his car.

Park Yong Ha was also revealed to have been suffering from insomnia for 14 years, because of depression. He confessed on his Twitter a while back that he had been relying on sleeping pills for a long time, making his fans worry about his health. The actor also shared on a program that his rising fame as a Hallyu star caused him to undergo depression from a sense of shame.

Spokepersons from the hospital and police station have confirmed that no suicide note was left behind. The police have registered it as being an unnatural death and that a variety of reasons (listed above) probably led Park Yong Ha to choose suicide. Upon his family request, no autopsy will be performed and a traditional Buddhist funeral will be held for Park Yong Ha on July 2nd at 8am.

by rameninmybowl

BREAKING: The Feds dropped their case against Mosab Hassan Yousef!


This is absolutely the best news this week!

The son of a Hamas founder who became a Christian and an Israeli spy will be granted U.S. asylum after he passes a routine background check, an immigration judge ruled Wednesday.

Mosab Hassan Yousef got the good news during a 15-minute deportation hearing after a U.S. Department of Homeland Security attorney said the government was dropping its objections.

The agency denied Yousef’s asylum request in February 2009, arguing that he had been involved in terrorism and was a threat to the United States.

Attorney Kerri Calcador gave no explanation for the government’s change of heart.

I heard this on the radio on my way to lunch, and I find it simply amazing that the government just decided to drop it’s case without explanation. You know I’m thanking Jesus for this and I am glad He intervened.

To all those who prayed with me, I thank you.


Posted by therightscoop

Chicago's Long Road to Justice for Torture


On the South Side of Chicago, Jon Burge's name is synonymous with torture. In 1993, Burge was dismissed from the Chicago Police Department under allegations of coercing false confessions from suspects. This week, as Matt Kelley wrote this morning, Burge is finally being held accountable for crimes related to torture,

Matt's done a great job covering the case, with a forward-looking focus on what's needed to make sure people like Burge don't abuse their power again. But for those of you who aren't already familiar with the case, I wanted to give you a full sense of just how abominable Burge's conduct really was — and how the system failed to check him.

Since Burge's reign of terror in the 1970s and 80s, more than 100 alleged victims have come forward and corroborated allegations against Burge and the officers under his command. Most of the victims are black. Many of them served years, or even decades, in prison for crimes that they confessed to but never committed.

What's more, from the time when Burge was promoted in 1972 until his conviction this week for charges related to torture, officials repeatedly turned a blind eye to Burge and his "midnight crew" of accomplices. The responsibility for letting Burge off the hook reaches all the way to the top of Chicago's notorious political food chain. For example, Mayor Richard Daley, first elected in 1989, previously headed the state attorney's office that relied upon coerced confessions and other evidence obtained through torture. During Daley's seven years as the Cook County State's Attorney, no action was taken to hold Burge accountable. Yet there were 55 allegations of torture made during the same period.

While the statute of limitations for charging Burge with torture has lapsed, Burge exposed himself to criminal liability in a 2003 civil lawsuit, when he testified under oath that he never perpetrated or knew of torture by Chicago police. In Burge's criminal trial for perjury and two counts of obstruction of justice, a jury has now concluded that Burge lied in his 2003 testimony — i.e., Burge did in fact commit and oversee torture. The Justice Department announced Burge's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice this week — almost 30 years after his inaugural torture session. Burge now awaits his sentencing in November, and faces up to 45 years in federal prison,

Burge's conviction is the first step towards full accountability for police torture in Chicago. Federal prosecutors, while refusing to comment on any specific cases, suggests that Burge's conviction is just the tip of the iceberg. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — who is heading an ongoing investigation into police torture — indicated that "a message needs to go out that that conduct is unacceptable." That's an understatement.

Chris Cassidy writes on law, judicial nominations and the Constitution as they pertain to criminal justice reform and women's rights.

REPORT: Adult Obesity Rates Increased In 28 States In Past Year

By Igor Volsky


A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that “adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia.” And “more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent,” a figure practically unheard of 20 years ago when “no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.” Other key findings:

- Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in nine states, 35 percent in 34 states, and 30 percent in 43 states and D.C. Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states. No state had rates of adult obesity above 35 percent for Whites. Only one state-West Virginia-had an adult obesity rate for Whites greater than 30 percent.

- The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight –Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

- Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension. Northeastern and Western states had the lowest adult obesity rates; Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1 percent.

Look at their colorful map of childhood obesity rates (which is interactive on their website):



The report also finds that the public is fairly receptive to using taxpayer dollars to help bring down obesity rates. For instance, 56% says that “a comprehensive program to combat childhood obesity is worth the financial investment, even if it would increase government spending by billions of dollars a year (and this during a difficult economic period in which many voters have been hesitant to support more government spending).” (The very same ‘difficult economic period’ that may have pushed some consumers towards cheaper and less healthy foods). Fifty-eight percent believe preventing childhood obesity is “a very important” priority.

This all sounds good, but it’s easy to support general obesity reduction efforts that don’t have any specific proposals or cost estimates attached to them — particularly when you see the whole thing as someone else’s fault. The survey also found that 84% of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, “but research shows nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight.”

EVEN A BILL ON HOMELESS VETERANS....

Posted by Rick Moore


EVEN A BILL ON HOMELESS VETERANS.... Sen. Patty Murray's (D-Wash.) bill on homeless veterans seems like the kind of legislation that should be approved rather easily. But in this Senate, nothing's easy.


As the senator's office explained, her Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans With Children Act would "expand assistance for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children and would increase funding and extend federal grant programs to address the unique challenges faced by these veterans."


It was approved in committee with bipartisan support, and Murray brought it to the floor this morning, seeking unanimous consent. She didn't get it -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who apparently was concerned about funding.


With an estimated 107,000 homeless veterans, this is pretty low, even for Republicans.


In a statement, Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "Republicans have their priorities backwards -- according to them, it's OK to give tax breaks to CEOs who send American jobs overseas, but not to help out-of-work Americans and homeless veterans. As we've seen time and again, Republicans just want to protect special interests instead of working with Democrats to stand up for the middle class and get our economy back on track."


For her part, Murray vowed to "continue fighting," and urged Senate Republicans "to end their obstruction and allow homeless women veterans across the country to get the support they have earned."


Dems Trying to Give Teacher's Unions a $10 Billion Gift

Of course they are:




House Democrats, who are trying to pass a long-stalled war funding bill this week, have attached $10 billion to help local school districts avoid teacher layoffs when schools reopen.



The approximately $70 billion measure is anchored by President Barack Obama's $30 billion request for the troop surge in Afghanistan and contains money for disaster aid accounts, foreign aid and disability benefits for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.



The bill's release late Tuesday night was the surest signal yet that House leaders are committed to passing it this week, despite great resistance among many Democratic lawmakers and deepening anxiety over the Afghanistan war effort among Obama allies such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.



The Senate passed an almost $60 billion version of the bill last month. Successful action by the House would send the measure into negotiations aimed at producing a final measure next month for Obama's signature.



The difficulty in passing the bill in the House is magnified by disagreement between Republicans supportive of the war — who insist the measure be "clean" of unrelated spending — and Democrats who want funding for the unpopular war to carry unrelated party priorities. Republicans are threatening to withhold support for the overall package if Democratic add-ons are included.

Dems don't have the guts to introduce that budget-busting union payoff as a stand alone measure, so they attach it to something they think the GOP will dare not oppose. The GOP has to stand strong on this stuff and stop the Democrats from handing our tax dollars to their union buddies.
 
Posted by Rick Moore

Hill Increasingly Skeptical That Obama Can Pass Either Cap N Tax Or Immigration

By Pat Dollard.

The Hill:

President Barack Obama hosted two groups of lawmakers at the White House Tuesday on a pair of legislative issues that have divided the Democratic Party and competed for his attention.

He met first with a bipartisan group of senators for talks on the way ahead on climate legislation, then sat down with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on immigration reform.

But even as he gives the appearance that he is pushing hard on both hot-button issues this year, strategists and aides on Capitol Hill are skeptical that the president can deliver on either one.

“The White House has not given up hope about getting something done on energy, so in that case it’s not purely for show,” Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said. “But they also know the odds are slim, and that the president gets a fair amount of points for trying to be bipartisan even when he fails.

“You might call it a form of political health insurance.”

The Senate is not expected to act on immigration this year, and Obama has recognized that for months. He said in April that Congress might not have an “appetite” to move ahead.

Still, Gerstein said, Obama has “no choice” on immigration but “to show to the Hispanic community he is making good-faith fight for their cause to keep them on board for November.”

To that end, he met with grassroots immigration activists at the White House on Monday and is delivering a speech on the issue on Thursday, as his administration prepares to contest in court Arizona’s contentious new immigration law.

Hispanic lawmakers did not address the press at the White House after their Tuesday meeting.

According to a White House readout, Obama addressed “the need to fix our nation’s broken immigration system” and pressed for a bipartisan approach that builds on a Senate bill co-sponsored by Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). He emphasized border security and “accountability from both workers who are here illegally and unscrupulous employers who game the system,” but offered no timeline.

Immigration nearly destroyed the GOP during the 2006 midterms, and most strategists agree with Obama:

There is little desire in either party to pursue reform this year despite the heated debate over the Arizona law.
Progress on energy legislation seems a lot more likely than immigration reform at this point.

The chief architects of the Senate’s climate bill, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), emerged from the White House session saying the president was firm in his commitment to include carbon limits in an energy package — even while highlighting their willingness, given political realities, to scale those very limits back. No bill can pass without GOP support.

The White House’s strategy continues to be to put the onus on Republicans to come to the table on both issues, claiming that neither can be done until the GOP puts politics aside. But Obama will also have to corral members of his own party.

The two issues have been competing for months. It was the possibility of immigration skipping ahead of climate change on the legislative calendar that derailed the initial push on the Kerry-Lieberman bill. Graham, who had been working on the bill, withdrew his support, saying it was a “cynical political” decision by Democrats to go with immigration first — in an election year.

3-Month Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension


by Jim Wang


There have been a lot of news reports of a potential 3-month extension of the $8,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit and those reports are all correct, albeit a little misleading. The bill they voted on would extend the deadline for closing a home sale as long as there was a signed contract by the original signing deadline of April 30th. So this doesn’t extend the tax credit itself, just the deadline for paperwork process. If you didn’t have a signed contract by April 30th, nothing has changed for you. If you did and the process has dragged on much longer than you planned, then you’ll get until April 30th (as long as the measure passes the Senate).


The House of Representative voted 409 to 5 to pass HR 5623 Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act of 2010. The measure will now go to the Senate for a vote and, assuming they approve it, will go to President Obama for signature. The Senate had included a similar provision in a much larger tax package that didn’t secure enough votes.


Five Republicans voted against the measure – Campbell (R-CA), Flake (R-AZ), Hensarling (R-TX), Linder (R-GA), and McClintock (R-CA). There were 18 Not Votings, 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans.

Incidentally, a standalone unemployment insurance bill was defeated in the House of Representatives today on a vote of 261-155 (failed to get a 2/3rds majority). You can see a detailed listing of who voted how via OpenCongress.

WISCONSIN: State Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Marriage Ban

Moments ago the Wisconsin state Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold the state's ban on same-sex marriage.


In a 7-0 ruling, the court on Wednesday ruled that the 2006 constitutional amendment was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum. The court rejected a lawsuit that claimed the amendment violated a rule that limits referendum questions to a single subject. The lawsuit, filed by a voter opposed to the amendment, argued that gay marriage and civil unions were two different subjects. Justice Michael Gableman says both sentences "carry out the same general purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman."

OBAMA: TURNING AMERICA INTO A HAVEN FOR PERVERTS

This MFCS POS SOB is hell-bent on homosexualizing, transexualizing, and otherwise perverting our country.




He appoints people to the education department that are perverts. He sucks up to homosexuals by inviting them to the White House, trying to get rid of DADT, etc. and now he’s appointed a nominee to the Supreme Court that demanded sex change operations and transvestite bathrooms at Harvard.

Chaplain Klingenschmitt has contracted with a team of investigative journalists including Brian Camenker, Amy Contrada and Peter LaBarbera to investigate and report breaking news about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.




While serving as Dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan’s administration demanded and forced Blue-Cross, Blue-Shield to cover sex-change operations as an “equal right” paid benefit, harming gender-confused students, as confirmed in 2006 and 2008 by Harvard Crimson newspaper articles.



Kagan also offered sympathetic ear to lesbian group Lambda’s Transgender Task Force demand to force all women to share public bathrooms and locker-rooms with cross-dressing men, which is now part of Harvard’s dormitory policy, according to the report.



“This is further proof Elena Kagan cannot be trusted to impartially rule on Obamacare or bathroom bills like ENDA, since she believes sin is a Constitutional right,” said Chaplain Klingenschmitt, “but rights come from God, who never grants the right to sin.”



The SOB is a pervert and every effort ought to be made to impeach his foul ass.



And if that weren’t enough to get your blood boiling, have you heard where Kagan thinks foreign laws can provide ideas?



Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan says foreign law could be useful “for getting good ideas” when interpreting the Constitution but that justices should not feel bound by it.



Kagan was speaking Tuesday in response to questioning by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley on the role of international law in U.S. courts, which some conservatives oppose. The Supreme Court has previously cited foreign law in deciding cases, such as when it struck down the U.S. execution of juvenile murder defendants as unconstitutional.



Kagan says that international law can be used as a guide, but it should not be considered binding when deciding Supreme Court cases because the Constitution is a unique document.



And if you believe that, you might want to recall that the other snot-hag, Sotomayor, said during her confirmation hearing how she’d defend the 2nd Amendment only to turn around and vote against it earlier this week:




When questioned about the Commerce Clause and how the Senate uses it to justify restricting our lifestyles, she hemmed and hawed:



by Vilmar

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gasp! White House’s Patrick Gaspard forgot I.O.U. from S.E.I.U.


This is quite embarrassing. From Politico:

President Barack Obama’s political director failed to disclose that he was slated to receive a nearly $40,000 payout from a large labor union while he was working in the White House.

Patrick Gaspard, who served as the political director for the Service Employees International Union local 1199, received $37,071.46 in “carried over leave and vacation” from the union in 2009, but he did not disclose the agreement to receive the payment on his financial disclosure forms filed with the White House.

In a section on his financial disclosure where agreements or arrangements for payment by a former employer must be disclosed, Gaspard checked a box indicating that he had nothing to report.

As a reminder, Gaspard is one among an honored handful of former union employees who, after the election, found a safe place to land in the White House.

Obama pushes senators for energy bill

WASHINGTON (AP) – The authors of sweeping energy legislation stalled in the Senate said Tuesday they were prepared to scale back their bill to get Republican support.




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Find Trades Today Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman made the comments after meeting at the White House with fellow senators and President Barack Obama, who is pushing for action in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.



"We are prepared to scale back the reach of our legislation in order to try to find that place of compromise," Kerry, D-Mass., said after the meeting.



But the road to compromise looked anything but clear. Kerry, D-Mass., and Lieberman, I-Conn., said that during the meeting with Obama the president insisted the bill must include a price on the carbon emissions blamed for global warming – something that’s anathema to many Republicans.



And when Republicans left the meeting they lambasted the approach, calling it a "national energy tax" they could never accept.



"If we want a clean energy bill, take a national energy tax off the table in the middle of a recession while we focus on the oil spill and focus on what we agree on," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.



The climate bill by Kerry and Lieberman would tax carbon dioxide emissions produced by coal-fired power plants and other large polluters, as a way to reduce pollution blamed for global warming. The measure aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and by more than 80 percent by 2050.



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is aiming to bring the bill to the Senate floor in July.



The bill’s sole Republican backer, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, withdrew his support last month, saying it is impossible to pass the legislation in the current political climate.



Nonetheless Lieberman and Kerry said that some Republicans in Tuesday’s meeting indicated openness to compromise. They declined to say who.



"As you know Sen. Graham helped us shape this bill. He still believes we have to price carbon. There are a group of Republicans who believe we have to price carbon. The question is how, and that’s what we need to continue to work on," said Kerry.



The House passed its own measure last year.


Associated Press Writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

Petraeus Holds Obama Hostage

by Patrick J. Buchanan


President Obama is being hailed for toughness in his firing of Gen. McChrystal and brilliance in his replacing him as Afghan field commander with Gen. David Petraeus, who managed the George W. Bush “surge” in Iraq that saved this nation from an ignominious defeat.




Herewith, a dissent.



By firing a fighting general, beloved of his troops, Obama just took upon himself full responsibility for the McChrystal Plan. The general is off the hook.



As of now, the plan is not succeeding. And given the inability of Kabul to deliver the “government in a box” to Marja, after Marines supposedly de-Talibanized the town, the McChrystal Plan is failing. The Battle of Kandahar has not yet begun, though the June D-Day has come and gone.



Should we be in this same bloody stalemate in December, Obama will be blamed for having fired his field commander who devised his battle plan, and was carrying it out, over some stupid insults from staff officers to some counterculture magazine.



More critically, Obama just made himself hostage to a savvy general who is said to dream of one day holding Obama’s office.

Consider the box Obama just put himself in.



In 2009, he sacked Gen. David McKiernan and replaced him with his own man, Gen. McChrystal. Now, he has sacked McChrystal and replaced him with Petraeus.



The former community organizer and acolyte of Saul Alinsky cannot now possibly fire the most popular and successful general in the U.S. Army, who accepted a demotion to take command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, without a firestorm that would consume his presidency.



If Obama has not noticed, the neocons, who want a “long war” in the Islamic world and a new war with Iran, are celebrating the Petraeus appointment with far greater unanimity than Obama’s own staff.



Why is the War Party celebrating? Petraeus is one of them.



And the untouchable general’s demands have begun to come in.



Clearly, Obama has been told he must back away from his declared deadline of July 31, 2011, for beginning withdrawals of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. And Obama is already moving to do so.



Vice President Joe Biden’s statement in Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise” that, “in July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it,” has already been challenged by Defense’s Robert Gates.



No such decision has yet been made, said Gates.



Look to Obama, soon, to walk back that July 2011 date and declare that any withdrawal of U.S. troops will be “conditions-based” — another way of saying that if we are not winning the war in July 2011, we are not coming home.



Here is the likely scenario.



At the December review of the Afghan war, Petraeus will argue that, while progress is being made, we cannot meet our goals by July 2011. Years more of combat will be required to win the war.



Petraeus will ask the president for more time, perhaps years more, and perhaps ask for more troops, 20,000 or 30,000, to complete the mission and ensure Afghanistan is not again a sanctuary for al-Qaida.



Thus, in December 2010, Obama becomes LBJ in December 1967, when Gen. William Westmoreland, with 500,000 troops in



Vietnam, came to the White House to ask for 200,000 more. LBJ said no.



And as the Republican right hammered him for not bombing Hanoi and blockading Haiphong, Sens. Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy entered the primaries against him from the left.



Richard Nixon, saying five years of unsuccessful prosecution of a war called out for new leadership, was marching to the nomination of a party he had helped reunite after the Barry Goldwater disaster.



The outlook bleak, his party splintering, LBJ declared on March 31, 1968, that he would not run again.



If Obama repudiates his July 2011 date for first withdrawals of U.S. troops, if he agrees to any new Petraeus troop request, his party will split and he will face a primary challenge from the antiwar left.



But if he stands with Biden and says the July 2011 date holds, and the troops start home in July, Petraeus would likely put out word that his hands are being tied and he will not fight a no-win war.



Should Petraeus resign his command under such circumstances, he would become a Douglas MacArthur-like hero to the GOP, and could wind up as No. 2 on the ticket. And that could send Barack Obama home to Chicago.



Obama should have left McChrystal to succeed or fail with the McChrystal Plan. Had he succeeded, Obama also would have succeeded. Had he failed, Obama would have been free to relieve him and tell the nation: “We gave it our best shot, with our best general, with all the resources he requested. Regrettably, we did not succeed. Now we are coming home.”



That option was closed when he fired McChrystal and made himself the political prisoner of Gen. David Petraeus.

Brilliant.

Patrick J. Buchanan is founding editor of The American Conservative and author, most recently, of Churchill, Hitler, and the “Unnecessary War”

Child trafficking discovered at S.African border: report

MAPUTO — Police discovered 20 children hidden in cardboard boxes and covered in blankets inside a truck at the border between Mozambique and South Africa, a media report said Monday.




The children, Mozambicans and Thais aged nine to 16 years, were discovered by South African border police during an inspection at the Komatipoort crossing, said Mozambican online news site Canalmoz.



"The children were discovered a week or two ago but the information has been kept secret by the authorities. No one talks because people are afraid," the website's director, Fernando Veloso, told AFP.



"Our source is an official from a South African institution whose identity we can't disclose."



The children, six of whom are from Mozambique and some of whom are from Thailand, are being cared for by social service workers at a secure location in South Africa, Canalmoz said.



Veloso said he had been contacted by the Mozambican interior ministry and asked to reveal his journalist's source.



"The ministry didn't even ask what had become of the children," he said.



A Mozambican official said he had no information about the incident.

NABJ blasts cable news nets for lack of black anchors

Citing the hiring of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a missed opportunity by CNN to put a non-white anchor on in primetime, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has fired off a public letter aimed not just at CNN, but all of the cable news networks for “moving backward” on diversity. Read the letter:




Open Letter: National Association of Black Journalists Questions Diversity on Cable News Networks



Dear Cable News Executives:



It is 2010, but the National Association of Black Journalists sees our cable news networks moving backward when it comes to who they believe is worthy of anchoring prime time news shows.



NABJ was founded in 1975 to encourage news media companies to hire and to promote more Black journalists. At that time, black journalists originally hired to cover riots during the turbulent 1960s found they were not being assigned to meaningful beats or were only allowed to cover "Black" stories.



NABJ's advocacy for fair hiring practices paid off. Many of our founders, including columnists Les Payne in New York and DeWayne Wickham in Washington, D.C., and anchor Maureen Bunyan in Washington, D.C. remain prominent figures in the media.



NABJ continues this advocacy today. To be candid, we have been focusing our talks with media executives on ways they can increase the diversity of their news management teams. It is our belief that a diverse management team improves coverage decisions and hiring practices. It seems, though, that the companies have taken that to mean that we don't care about who is on the air. We're watching, and we do.



Over the past several years, NABJ Executive Board members have met with leaders of the top media companies. Our message: "Let us help if you are looking for diverse talent."



Some of the companies have reached out, but the names we have submitted never seem to be called in for interviews.



Three years ago, Ebony magazine's Kevin Chappell noted, "While CNN has the most Black news anchors with eight, the other cable networks don't fair as well... and none of the national cable stations has any Blacks in prime-time slots." Find this article here.



Nothing has changed. NABJ questions CNN's decision to hire former New York governor/attorney general Eliot Spitzer to co-host a new show in Campbell Brown's old time slot. The company missed another opportunity to place a person of color in prime time. It just seems that cable news can never find diverse candidates who are good enough to meet their standards. We want to know your standards.



Are you telling us that CNN could find no one better than an ex-politician who quit being New York governor after consorting with prostitutes to grace America's living rooms each night?



CNN does have Tony Harris anchoring in the morning, and Fredericka Whitfield, T.J. Holmes, and Don Lemon on the weekends. But that's not prime time. The same can be said about MSNBC which last week named veteran Lawrence O'Donnell as the anchor of its new 10 p.m. show.



"In his story, Chappell talked with NABJ Member and CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell who summed up what many of us have witnessed over the years. Mitchell told Ebony "I've been to journalism conferences over and over again, and heard some executive say 'I'd like to hire more African-Americans, but I just can't find any qualified ones out there.' That was b.s. then, and that's b.s. now."



NABJ couldn't agree more.



Sincerely,



The National Association of Black Journalists

'Nuclear scientist' tells Iran TV he fled US agents

TEHRAN — A man claiming to be an Iranian nuclear scientist whom Tehran alleges the United States kidnapped said he has escaped from US agents, in a video screened on Tuesday on Iranian television.




"I am Shahram Amiri, a citizen of the Islamic republic. A few minutes ago I managed to escape from the hands of US intelligence agents in Virginia," said the man in the footage shown on state television.



"I could be re-arrested at any time by US agents... I am not free and I'm not allowed to contact my family. If something happens and I do not return home alive, the US government will be responsible," he said.



"I ask Iranian officials and organisations that defend human rights to raise pressure on the US government for my release and return to my country," the man said, adding he has not "betrayed" Iran.



Amiri, the nuclear scientist, disappeared in June 2009 after arriving in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage. Iran says the United States abducted him with the help of Saudi intelligence services.



ABC news in the United States reported in March that Amiri had defected and was working with the US Central Intelligence Agency.



In June, Iranian state television aired a video in which a man identifying himself as Amiri said he was abducted by US agents and was being held near Tucson, Arizona.



Iran said it would use legal channels to secure his release.



In response, Washington denied the Iranian accusations, with State Department spokesman Philip Crowley refusing to say whether or not Amiri was in the United States.

Method Man Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion

Wu-Tang emcee Method Man pleaded guilty to a tax-evasion charge on Monday and wrote a check for the final $40-thousand restitution payment after owing about $106,000.



As previously reported, Meth was arrested on October 9th on charges he failed to pay state and personal income taxes. He pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted failure to pay tax.



He was sentenced to a conditional discharge, which means the arrest will be purged from his record if he stays out of trouble.



"When he found out about the tax issue he hired someone and immediately corrected it," defense attorney Peter Frankel told The Associated Press. "He took care of it quickly like the good member of our community he is."



The Wu-Tang MC, whose real name is Clifford Smith, failed to file tax returns for 2004 through 2007, prosecutors said. The most he owed for one year was $32,799.

MMA Fighter Dies in South Carolina

by Zak Woods

Horrible news:


Michael Kirkham died early Monday following his professional MMA debut this past Saturday on a pro and amateur card in Aiken, S.C.

Kirkham, a lightweight nicknamed "Tree" for towering at 6-feet-9, was 30.


Kirkham competed on a Dash Entertainment and King MMA co-promoted "Confrontation at the Convocation Center" event at the USC Aiken Convocation Center, a card regulated by the South Carolina Athletic Commission.


"Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with his family, other than that I have no comment," Sam King, a promoter of Saturday's card, told MMAFighting.com.


WRDW in Augusta first reported that Kirkham was transported to Aiken Regional Medical Center from the venue following the fight and was pronounced dead of a brain hemorrhage Monday morning.


An autopsy is scheduled for today.


This is the second time a fighter has died in the U.S. following a state sanctioned MMA bout.


For those looking at cold hearted politics, the death came at an inopportune moment as it will provide rhetorical ammunition for opponents of MMA regulation in New York and give pause to less dedicated proponents.


Mike Russell points out that this shouldn't be used as an excuse to deregulate:


So then, how can this terrible tragedy help bolster the case for sanctioning?


There are two ways:



1. Both UFC president Dana White and vice president of regulatory affairs, Marc Ratner have stated on several occasions, that besides having a universal set of rules used worldwide to govern the sport of MMA, their goal has always been to help implement across-the-board pre-fight medical testing requirements like the ones enforced by governing bodies like the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Better requisite testing procedures would greatly lessen the chances of a fighter with a pre-existing condition slipping through the cracks.



2. By not sanctioning the sport, the respective jurisdictions that are against regulation would effectively wash its hands of responsibility, pushing the sport in those states and provinces to the underground or native reservations where an incident like Kirkham's will undoubtedly rear its ugly head again.



South Carolina doesn't require pre-fight CAT scans or MRI's for professional fighters like most commissions.



Obviously, we here at WKR agree with Russel but it's necessary to point out that societies often don't regulate activities when they see no benefit and only harm. Prohibition's on drugs is a classic example.

Michael Vick Interviewed over Shooting Incident

When a shooting took place outside the very nightclub where American footballer Michael Vick was celebrating his birthday, reports started surfacing suggesting he may have been involved. And the Virginia Beach police have confirmed that Vick has been interviewed.

However, according to a recent report at nytimes.com, the police spokesman, Adam Bernstein, has stated that although Michael Vick – a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles – answered their questions on Monday, he is not a suspect and no arrest has been made.


Authorities have not identified the man who was wounded in the shooting, which occurred just after 2am on Friday. But several news outlets have identified him as Quanis Phillips, one of the co-defendants in the dogfighting case that resulted in 18 months in prison for Vick.

By: Tina Chubb

Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh Meet in Miami to Discuss Signing with the Heat (UPDATE)

The initial plans for a free agency “summit” proposed by Dwyane Wade were quickly squelched by the agent for Wade and Chris Bosh within days of Wade’s quotes on the possible meeting. The summit was both discussed and mocked ad nauseum. But, according to a joint report from both ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Marc Stein, a meeting, if not a summit, between Wade, Bosh, and LeBron James did take place this past weekend in Miami. The focus of the meeting was discussing the potential plan of all 3 free agents signing with Wade’s Heat. The report characterized James as “clearly intrigued” and Stein characterized LeBron as “clearly excited” by the proposition. The report quoted sources which labeled Miami as “the new frontrunner” in addition to sources close to Wade stating that he believed the Heat were close to pulling off a “free agency coup.”



Many NBA reporters have had sources this month with conflicting information on the free agency movement – an indication of the complexity and difficulty of the story. Stephen A. Smith reported yesterday morning that he had sources telling him that both Bosh and James had already decided to sign with Wade in Miami and that Pat Riley was going to coach them. This came on the heels of a report by Smith, one week prior, stating that his sources were telling him that James was likely headed to the New York Knicks. The Stein/Broussard report adds momentum to the Miami coup and cites evidence of an actual meeting between the 3 superstars supporting the very real possibility that all 3 wind up in Miami. As it stands now under the projected salary cap, the Heat would likely have to shed the salary of Michael Beasley or one of the three would have to take less than max money. The report states that all 3 were comfortable the contracts could be worked out in Miami:


But sources told ESPN.com that James, Wade and Bosh all expressed confidence at the meeting that contractual complexities to make this ambitious triple signing work can be worked out, although it was not immediately clear if all three players would receive an equal amount or if one or two would receive the max.


The sources for the ESPN report, however, made it clear that while a meeting took place, LeBron, in the end, remained non-committal to the Miami proposition:


Sources insisted, meanwhile, that other scenarios were discussed at the weekend meeting apart from the Miami plan. One source said James’ admiration for Bulls legend Michael Jordan is such that he is determined to hear Chicago’s pitch later this week, keeping alive the possibility that both James and Bosh could still wind up together with the Bulls…


Sources said James, furthermore, has not ruled out staying with the Cavaliers. Although Cleveland does not have the financial flexibility or the trade assets to import Bosh or Wade and enhance its chances of retaining this summer’s face of free agency, James is a proud Ohioan who is said to be still wrestling with the notion of leaving his home state, no matter how enticing the possibilities are in Miami and Chicago.


Everyone was aware that things would pick up this week and this report will certainly add fuel to the fire. The fact that all 3 superstars met is a huge story but it’s unclear if it really adds anything new to the equation and status of each individual. Broussard and Stein’s sources add that the Toronto front office is becoming more and more resigned to the fact that Bosh is leaving and their GM, Bryan Colangelo, is likely going to field sign and trade offers, which Bosh is open to. Colangelo articulated yesterday on Toronto radio that the possibility of Bosh re-signing is “not going to happen.”


As for James, despite the meeting and his excitement over the Miami plan, he remains open to the possibility of staying in Cleveland. The meeting and potential status of the Heat as a “frontrunner” has to be unnerving for Cavalier fans and owner Dan Gilbert. We now have a report with hard evidence of a meeting with the big 3 to discuss the Miami plan. Cavs fans have to hope that this is not the start of a move to Miami but only the beginning to a wild week of ups and downs in the LeBron free agency drama – a drama where he ends up staying home. LeBron has said all along that he was going to explore all his options and while the “summit” is a juicy story, it’s part of the exploratory process – one that includes a pitch from his hometown Cavs.



Written By: Brendan

Breaking: US Charges 11 Russian Spies [UPDATE: Names]

Probably a spy


The Justice Department has filed charges against 11 people who are part of a Russian spy ring. The details are still a little fuzzy. It's not clear if these are Americans who were recruited by the Russians, or if these were Russians living in America, or a mixture of both.




The story seems to indicate that at least some of them were Russian. This may explain why all those hot Russian chicks willing to marry dumpy, balding, middle-aged American men. They're all Russian spies!



As some of you know, I spent a year studying in Russia under the theory that the Cold War would be back, and when it does -- job security, baby! Is it time for Rusty to break out the old resume?

WSJ:


The Federal Bureau of Investigation alleged the Russian intelligence service known as the SVR provided extensive training, including in foreign languages and the use of codes and ciphers, to the alleged agents before dispatching them to the U.S. over the past decade.



Once inside the U.S., the alleged agents took on aliases and "deep cover" assignments to become Americanized in order to gather information about the U.S., and possibly recruit sources inside American "policy-making circles," an FBI affidavit filed in New York federal court alleged.



Interesting enough, the stories say that only 10 have been arrested in recent days. Does this mean that one of them is still on the loose?

Thanks to Terresa.


UPDATE: The Blotter has the names:


Charged are Richard and Cynthia Murphy of New Jersey, Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley of Boston, Massachusetts, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills of Arlington, Virginia, and Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez of Yonkers, New York.



Also charged is Christopher Metsos, who remains at large and is alleged to be one of the main facilitators for the group and a trained agent living outside the U.S. According to the complaint, Metsos purports to be a Canadian citizen and regularly traveled to U.S. locations to meet with the other defendants, including numerous meetings in New York City in places such as coffee shops and book stores.



Two additional defendants, Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko, were also arrested Sunday for allegedly aiding in the same suspected Russian spy ring.



No news yet on how hot the women spies were, but:The court documents read like a 1960's cold war spy novel: The accused spies allegedly used steganography, hiding secretive data in an image, and radiograms, bursts of data sent by a radio transmitter that resemble the sound of Morse code, as part of their secret communications with the Russian government....



And there are allegations of fabricated birth certificates, Irish and Latino surnames, and fake college diplomas.



Most of the names seem pretty white bread. If originally from Russia, then the falsifying of birth certificates could explain that.





By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D.

A villain emerges in early Kagan hearings: Justice Marshall

Republicans sought to use Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s words against her in their first round of statements in her confirmation hearings, voicing concerns that Kagan would be an activist judge based on her statement that the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall - for whom Kagan clerked - was her hero.

That, several GOP Senate Judiciary Committee members said, is cause for alarm.

“It’s clear he considered himself a judicial activist,” said John Cornyn, R-Texas, referring to Marshall’s statement that the best way to judge is to “do what you think is right and let the law catch up.”


While Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., praised Marshall as a trailblazer in some areas of civil rights law, “Justice Marshall’s judicial philosophy is not, however, hat I would consider to be mainstream,” Kyl said.


Speaking later to MSNBC, Sen. Orrin Hatch echoed the other GOP members’ sentiments.
“There are many other case that he decided where he was deciding on the basis of results instead of the law,” Hatch, R-Utah, said.

Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin disagreed, telling Kagan that he felt “disappointment in my Republican colleagues warning us that you just might follow in the traditions of Thurgood Marshall.”

By Kimberly Atkins

Monday, June 28, 2010

China's a winner, Toronto is trashed during G20 summit


The G20 summit in Toronto ended on Sunday after tulmultuous negotiations inside, and even more tumultuous stand offs outside. U.S. President Barack Obama challenged China's commitment to "rebalancing the world economy," but ultimately the U.S. was declared a loser in the talks and China a winner.




Meanwhile, Toronto was turned into a huge mess as, outside the talks, rioters set police cars on fire and police batoned reporters. Yikes! Guess even in Canada, there's clashes between police and the people - maybe something Chinese people ought to think about before emigrating there, eh?



Our sister site Torontoist has amazing pictures of the event (that's where these pictures came from!). If you're interested in what happened outside the meeting, that's definitely something to check out.



Other News on China and the G20



■Beijing agreed to set the strongest yuan exchange rate in years, saying it would put the central parity rate to 6.7890 to the dollar, the strongest level policymakers have set since the country unpegged the currency in July 2005. However, analysts said the move did not signify a major shift.

■Besides the exchange rate, the U.S. and China also clashed over North Korea. Obama accused China of "willful blindness" over the DPRK's suspected sinking of a South Korean warship in March. China seems to not have said anything in return.

■Developed economies agreed to give more voting power to emerging economies in the International Monetary Fund. According to the Pittsburgh G20 summit, this would shift the power dynamic towards emerging economies like China, India, Brazil and Russia by around 5%. The complete agreement should be ready by the next G20 summit in Seoul, and must be ratified by all of the IMF's 187 member countries by January 2011.


By Elaine Chow

24-Week Old Fetuses Cannot Feel Pain

Fetuses aged 24 weeks or less do not have the brain connections to feel pain, according to a working party report published this week by the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).



Its conclusion is the latest to challenge the rationale for a law introduced in the US state of Nebraska in April. This law, which bans almost all abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, was introduced primarily on the grounds that the fetus feels pain.


The report, which reviews recent scientific literature on the subject, also concludes that the fetus


is sedated throughout pregnancy by chemicals such as adenosine contained in the amniotic fluid that surrounds it.



Pain-free existence

Because the fetus is unable to feel pain before 24 weeks, no pain relief is needed for medical procedures up to that time, including abortion, the report concludes. This reverses the position the RCOG took in its previous report on fetal pain in 1997, which supported the use of analgesia.



“We have now advised that analgesia is not indicated up to 24 weeks,” says Allan Templeton, chairman of the working group that produced the report. He adds that administering painkillers carries risks of harming the fetus.



The report concludes that fetuses under 24 weeks must be pain-free, because at that age the wiring doesn’t exist to send pain signals from nerves around the body to the cortex, the area of the brain where pain is experienced. At which later point such connections form is unknown, so analgesia should still be considered after 24 weeks, the RCOG says.



When Nebraska legislators debated the state’s new abortion law, it was claimed that fetuses must feel pain because they have the same reflex reactions to pain as children and adults. Templeton dismisses this reasoning. “There are indeed reflex responses, but in our view, because the nerves are not wired up to the cortex, they are reflex actions without experience of pain,” he says.



The report notes that the same reflexes are seen in seriously malformed fetuses that have no brain at all, and therefore can’t possibly experience pain.



Pain signals

Templeton says the working party rejected the claims of Kanwaljeet Anand of Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, who contends that young fetuses can feel pain in a more primitive part of the brain called the subcortex, which receives pain signals before the cortex has been wired up.



“Our scientists say there’s no evidence that the subcortex can provide for the pain experience,” Templeton told New Scientist. Anand’s evidence is widely cited by anti-abortion groups.



Templeton says that Anand’s evidence comes mainly from observations of responses in babies born prematurely, and that it cannot be assumed that these are expressions of pain, rather than painless reflex responses.



“Anand’s conclusions apply only to neonates,” Templeton says. “He has written opinions about how that might apply also to fetuses, but it’s not evidence, it’s opinion.”



The report argues that pain responses may begin to develop only after a baby is born, and no longer sedated in the womb, and that this may explain why neonates experience pain differently to fetuses. “It is only after birth, with the separation of the baby from the uterus and the umbilical cord, that wakefulness truly begins,” it concludes.

LeBron James, The Chicago Bull?

I always love an anonymous source as love as the next curious onlooker.




The LeBron James sweepstakes will kick off in Ohio on his home turf Thursday as five teams — the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat, the Knicks, the Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers — travel there in an attempt to woo James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, an executive of one of the teams in the hunt said Saturday.

But the meetings might not be much more than a formality. The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow N.B.A. executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.



“I think it’s a done deal,” the executive said. [NYT]



Read the full article at New York Times

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in Gaza: medics

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — A Palestinian fighter was killed and two other people were wounded on Monday in clashes with Israeli forces east of Gaza City, according to Palestinian medics.

Hospital medics said they had received one body. There were reports that another two people were wounded but ambulances were not immediately able to enter the area of the clashes.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said forces had targeted "a militant who fired an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) at IDF (Israeli military) soldiers" near the border, adding no soldiers were wounded in the incident.

The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a small leftist group, claimed the attack and said one of its fighters had been "martyred."

The Hamas-run Gaza Strip has been mostly quiet since the end of a massive 22-day Israeli military assault in January 2009, though there are still occasional clashes along the border.

46 States Facing Greek-Like Budget Crisis

It's not just California, Illinois, and New York.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 46 states are facing a severe "Greek-like" debt problem.


Even as the U.S. appears to be on the mend -- gross domestic product has climbed three straight quarters -- finances in Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and other states show few signs of improvement. Forty-six states face budget shortfalls that add up to $112 billion for the fiscal year ending next June, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington research institution. State spending is 12 percent of U.S. GDP.

A failure to bail out the states will result in a slashing of GDP, and naturally more job losses.

While the whole "Greek-like" concern sounds a bit overdramatic, this issue of the states is clearly among the more pressing short-to-medium-term questions facing the economy. Regardless of the shape of the recovery ("V", "W", "square-root shaped" etc.), it's obviously not been robust enough to return state tax revenues back to pre-bust levels. In many cases, it's not even close.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put out this chart, just looking at the jobs picture:

Paul Krugman: The Third Depression

A failure of policy, in particular a "stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy," increases the likelihood that we are headed for a third depression:

The Third Depression, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Recessions are common; depressions are rare. As far as I can tell, there were only two eras in economic history that were widely described as “depressions” at the time: the years of deflation and instability that followed the Panic of 1873 and the years of mass unemployment that followed the financial crisis of 1929-31.

Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world ... governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending. ... After all, unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly. And both the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.

In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity — but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

Why the wrong turn in policy? The hard-liners often invoke the troubles facing Greece and other nations around ... Europe to justify their actions. And it’s true that bond investors have turned on governments with intractable deficits. But there is no evidence that short-run fiscal austerity in the face of a depressed economy reassures investors. ...

It’s almost as if the financial markets understand what policy makers seemingly don’t: that while long-term fiscal responsibility is important, slashing spending in the midst of a depression, which deepens that depression and paves the way for deflation, is actually self-defeating.

So I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between deficits and jobs. It is, instead, the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Second Amendment Case; Affirms Right to Self-Defense as Applicable to the States

In McDonald v. Chicago, Case No. 08-1521, the United States Supreme Court today issued a landmark decision interpreting the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as being applicable to the States, which means on a practical level that the fundamental right to self-defense and the right to bear arms allows one who may lawfully own a gun to use it to protect one's home, self and family. This important decision has relevance for business lawyers and their clients as well as every person who seeks to exercise their God-given right to defend themselves.

The High Court's opinion is available here.

The syllabus of the decision as provided by the Court provides as follows:

Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in thehome. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federalsuit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several related City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amend-ments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are un-constitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of theFourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded. JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.

For background information on the case, here is a useful overview from the Cornell Law Institute.

By Francis G.X. Pileggi

Chris Brown finally gets his Michael Jackson tribute at BET Awards 2010. Amazing? Yes! Appropriate? Hmmm...

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only been one Michael Jackson tribute. Tonight (June 27) Chris Brown finally got his shot at paying homage to his fallen idol, Michael Jackson, at the BET Awards 2010. Jackson’s brother Jermaine introduced Brown, who popped up on stage in a blue shirt, black slacks, white socks, and Jackson’s trademark black loafers. It was a spot-on pull from Jackson’s look at 1988′s Grammy Awards.




He started of performing Jackson’s Bad smash “The Way You Make Me Feel” and then changed into a sequined black jacket and donned a glittered white glove for Thriller‘s “Billie Jean.” Brown’s obviously the only singer capable of doing Jackson’s moves justice. He popped, spun, and moonwalked as the “King of Pop” did for decades.



The performance’s most touching moment came when Brown started to sing Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Within a few lines he got too choked up to finish the track, bursting into tears. Because last year’s BET Awards happened just days after Jackson died, they were not able to put together a proper tribute to the legend. At this time last year Brown was also dealing with the repercussions of his assault charge for violence against his ex girlfriend Rihanna. Even though a Chris Brown tribute to Jackson seemed obligatory, I’m not too sure it would’ve been appropriate for the embattled talent to make the awards ceremony. A year later, people may still question BET’s rationale.



Did you see Brown’s tribute? You glad he got to perform for Michael? How did he do? Weigh in below.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More American women go childless

WASHINGTON, June 25  -- Nearly one in five American women end their childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one in 10 in the 1970s, according to a Pew Research Center report released on Friday.




Based on the Census Bureau's statistics, the report uses the standard measure of childlessness at the end of childbearing years, which is the share of women ages 40 to 44 who have not borne any children.



Overall, the proportion of women ages 40 to 44 who have not borne a child grew from 10 percent in 1976 to 18 percent in 2008, with the total number rose from nearly 580,000 to 1.9 million.



"Social pressure to bear children appears to have diminished for women and that today the decision to have a child is seen as an individual choice," the report said when explaining the rise in childless rate. "Improved job opportunities and contraceptive methods help create alternatives for women who choose not to have children."



"At the same time, there has been a general trend toward delayed marriage and childbearing, especially among highly educated women. Given that the chance of a successful pregnancy declines with age, some women who hope to have children never will, despite the rise in fertility treatments that facilitate pregnancy, " the report added.



The research found that among women ages 40 to 44, there are equal numbers of women who are childless by choice and those who would like children but cannot have them.



Pew also emphasized that the most educated women still are among the most likely never to have had a child, but the rates have come down sharply.



In 2008, 24 percent of women ages 40 to 44 with a master's, doctoral or professional degree had not had children, a decline from 31 percent in 1994. In the meantime, childlessness has risen sharply for women with less than a high school diploma -- from 9 percent in 1994 to 15 percent in 2008.

Video: Israelis mark fourth year of soldier Shalit's captivity

Obama claims victory in financial overhaul deal

The Associated Press - Jim Kuhnhenn - ‎25 minutes ago‎


WASHINGTON - House and Senate negotiators reached a dawn agreement Friday on legislation that redefines federal oversight of the financial industry and, following the signing of the health care act in March, adds another milestone to mark the Obama ...
 

The Obama administration stops at nothing to accomplish their goals

By Adam Bitely




Nearly 150,000 jobs connected to the offshore oil drilling industry are in jeopardy over hypocrisy from the Obama administration. In the Gulf Coast alone, where the economies of the Gulf States are still recovering from devastating hurricanes, the Obama administration has made it clear that they will play politics with the livelihoods of the citizens rather than do what is right. When so many people are depending on government to do the right thing, the Obama administration says one thing and does another.



Consider the unfolding episode with Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar has come under scrutiny for falsifying a 30-day review of the offshore drilling program conducted by seven engineers from the National Academy of Engineering. Specifically, the administration changed the findings of the report to back-up the Obama administration’s policy of placing a ban on offshore drilling permits. The report from the engineers makes no such finding, and they have spoken out.



While Salazar has come forth and admitted that the changes were made, unbeknownst to the people that actually wrote the report, Salazar has continued to push his doctored report as fact. The engineers that participated in the review came forth and brought the issue to light. However, their exposure of the Obama administration’s blatant doctoring of the report to reinforce the Administration’s endorsed position has received little coverage.



Couple Salazar’s actions with those of Steven Chu. Not 3 years ago, Chu participated in an interview where he lavished high praise on BP. According to Chu, BP will help “save the world.” Fast forward to today, and Chu now supports a complete ban on offshore drilling, backing up the Administration’s position.



It seems that the Obama administration has forgotten that many jobs are on the line and that the Gulf Coast economy will be heavily impacted — for the worst.



Get full story here.