Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tavis Smiley Black Agenda Forum (Video) C-Span

PBS Talk Show Host Tavis Smiley hosted african american leaders for a forum titled, "We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda." Panelists included, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Cornel West and Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan. Earlier this year, Smiley announced he will no longer host his annual State of the Black Union symposium.
Chicago, IL : 3 hr. 40 min.

Watch: Tavis Smiley Black Agenda Forum

Consumer Spending Up For Fifth Consecutive Month

Consumer spending in the US rose for a fifth consecutive month in February, according to data released yesterday by the Commerce Department.

To many analysts, including Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, this data suggests that factors are falling into place for a sustained recovery.

Earlier this month, there was similarly encouraging news in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, which shows that the overall economy grew for the tenth consecutive month during February.

And, if you’re looking for even more “signposts of economic recovery,” see this Monthly Dashboard of Leading US Economic Indicators, compiled by the Corporate Executive Board.

While I’ll admit that it’s heartening to see the manufacturing sector undergoing a relatively stable recovery, industrial production and capacity utilization remain disappointing. Plus, a sustained global recovery will require not only continued growth in consumer spending, but also improved employment. We’ll learn more about that critical element when the Labor Department releases its new numbers at the end of the week. From what I hear, economists are expecting this new jobs report to show more good news: that employers added jobs this month for only the second time since the recession began in December 2007.

A table of the most recent economic indicators is available here.

by Kevin Cornish

Shawn Michaels Deserved Better

Author: Mario Alejandro

Last night’s WWE Raw was supposed to be a special moment for wrestling fans young and old. Shawn Michaels, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time was “forced” into retirement as a result of losing his match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26 on Sunday.

Monday’s show was supposed to be The Heartbreak Kid’s sendoff and while WWE made good with lots of classic Michaels clips from his entire tenure with the company and a nice plug for his WWE DVD, it still did not have the feel of a show saying goodbye to one of its most reliable performers.

Instead, we were treated to horrible skits with two of the lesser stars of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ and the one emotional moment, Triple H’s speech to his best friend, was interrupted by a run-in from Hunter’s new BFF, Sheamus. Oh, and more tired and played out John Cena.

As for Shawn’s career in The Hobby, you could build one hell of a collection as he’s been in trading card sets from as early back as the 80’s. More recently, Topps’ WWE releases have produced “worn” memorabilia relics and certified autographs, which in this blogger’s opinion, are less than desirable.

Here’s hoping Topps steps up their game and produces a card of Michaels in their next release WITH an on-card autograph. While Michaels is a legend in the business, it really should not be that difficult to give collectors something special by making the effort of having Shawn directly sign cards instead of stickers.

Amnesty says China Executed Thousands in 2009

Amnesty International has released its annual death penalty report, which shows the number of countries that use capital punishment is declining. But the report estimates that China executed several thousand people in 2009.

Arthur Judah Angel was sentenced to death in Nigeria in 1986 for a crime he says he didn't commit.

"Being on death row was like being in hell. You understand? In fact, it's very horrible. I don't have enough language – in English or my own – to explain it," said Angel.

He was 21 years old when he was arrested and spent the next 16 years in prison. Every night he was there, he says, he had nightmares.

He says inside the cell he wasn't even able to stretch his legs.


2010 NFL Free Agency Update: Nothing Big Except Philadelphia Eagles/Donovan McNabb Trade Rumors

by Steve Tomassetti

The 2010 edition of NFL free agency has slowed down to a crawl since the last time we reported on it. The biggest names still on the market are former teammates Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook. Based on their performances last season, it appears that both of these once-great players have reached the end of road in terms of their NFL careers. Still, there is a good possibility that one or both players could be good mid or late-season acquisitions for teams looking for some additional players after the injury bug starts to hit rosters.

The biggest stories at this stage of free agency seem to be circling around the Philadelphia Eagles and their 11-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb. A different trade scenario is appearing daily both locally and nationally. It may be just wishful thinking though, as the ingrate Eagles fans and local sports media seem all too eager to ship out the main reason their irrelevant franchise was worth watching for the past decade, after years of futility. I can understand though, they have a proven quantity in Kevin Kolb waiting to step in… don’t they?

The rumored trade partners have been the Rams, Cardinals, Jaguars and most recently the Oakland Raiders, who seem to be so high on McNabb that they aren’t even worried about extending his contract that expires after the 2010 season. Check Twitter tomorrow for the latest garbage… I mean “news”.

The biggest entertainment of the offseason would be the reaction of the Eagles “fans” as Kevin Kolb is traded on draft day, they pick a QB early and McNabb plays out his contract.

BC fires Skinner

Mar 30, 2010 - Head coach Al Skinner has been fired as head coach of Boston College, according to the Globe. The official announcement is expected at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Skinner has been the head coach since 1997, and led the team to seven NCAA Tournament appearances during his tenure. He has the most wins all-time at BC (247-165, overall). The team finished under .500 in two of its last three seasons, however, including a 15-16 overall record and just six in-conference wins this year.

The Globe reports that the school has already requested permission to speak with Richmond coach Chris Mooney and Cornell's Steve Donahue, both of whom are hot commodities after resurrected the programs at their respective schools.

Controversy over Arctic conference

Five Arctic nations have agreed to work more closely to safeguard the region's environment and resolve disputes over territory.

Erykah Badu Bold Statement Or Publicity Ploy? You Decide...

By Gene Mueller

The thing is, it's a pretty decent song.

Trouble is, who's going to hear it ?

R-and-B singer Erykah Badu let the cameras as she dropped her clothes for a video for her new song "Window Seat".

Did I mention that the impromptu striptease happened in Dallas, Texas. At Dealey Plaza. Where President Kennedy was assassinated. In front of horrified onlookers (the murder AND the video).

Look for yourself.

Badu defends the move as an artistic statement. No one called the cops, and she hasn't been charged with anything.

So, is it art, or is it a publicity grab?

If it's the second, it worked. I'm not the only mope blogging about it, and the video supposedly is going viral on YouTube, according to the Dallas Morning News where you can read much more.

Like I said, it's a pretty decent song. Would you have even known it existed without Badu's naked romp? Is it bad taste, or solid (if tastefully questionable) marketing? Free speech, or sensationalistic exploitation of a national tragedy?

Holder Admits Johnsen Fulfilling Duties at DOJ Prior to Appointment; ALG Calls for Nominee to be Defeated

March 29th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Attorney General Eric Holder has admitted that Barack Obama’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General to the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen, was fulfilling key duties related to that post even though she has not been confirmed by the Senate.

According to Holder’s written testimony, when asked of allegations that Johnsen had been making hiring decisions at the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), he wrote that while the acting Assistant Attorney General has made all personnel decisions, “Professor Johnsen's participation in this process has been appropriate and consistent with the past practice of presidential nominees of both parties. Like such other nominees, she was involved in the consideration of candidates for political appointments, such as those persons who would serve as her deputies should she be confirmed.”

The testimony continued, “By contrast, with respect to applicants for civil service positions, Professor Johnsen simply forwarded some resumes for attorney positions to the Acting Assistant Attorney General for OLC and occasionally offered her views as to some candidates for those positions who came to her attention and on general attorney staffing issues.”

Holder denied that Johnsen participated “in the interviews of any candidates for career positions, nor was she part of the final selection process.”

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today renewed his call for the nominee to be defeated by the Senate. “Based upon Attorney General Holder’s own testimony, Dawn Johnsen has already had input into the makeup of the Office of Legal Counsel despite the fact that she has not been confirmed to the position of Assistant Attorney General.”

Wilson called Holder’s testimony “a smoking gun,” and said “raises a rather serious constitutional concern that Johnsen has averted the Advice and Consent Clause of the Constitution.”

ALG had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on October 26th, 2009 to the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel attempting to confirm allegations that Johnsen has been performing duties pursuant to that office without being confirmed by the Senate, including making hiring decisions.

Get full story here.

Does Obama actually want America to get back to work?

By Bill Wilson

Does Barack Obama actually want America to get back to work? That is the question that I asked myself as I read about his latest brainstorm: forcing mortgage lenders to not collect payments from those who are unemployed.

As reported by the Washington Post, “Banks and other lenders would have to reduce the payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower's income, which would typically be their unemployment insurance, for up to six months. In some cases, administration officials said, a lender could allow a borrower to make no payments at all.”

While a typical Obama sound bite idea, in principle this is just another in a long series of economic disasters that has flowed daily from this Administration. It seems intent on plummeting the nation into Third World status.

Ronald Reagan’s old adage applies: “If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.” In this case, Obama’s basic plan is to use what remains of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to subsidize unemployment and sloth.

As a result, that is what they are going to get — a lot more of it. While everyone is sympathetic to the hardship faced in this tough economy, every American who pays their bills and plays by the rules is being screwed to the wall by Obama’s new mortgage bailout.

But, it’s even worse than that. The irony of Obama and his cohorts attempting to force the ever-shaky mortgage banking industry to cover the loans of the unemployed is that it creates the very real possibility of a double dip financial crisis. What bank is going to lend money in an environment where the government essentially demands that they not collect the debt? Of course, in the end, someone pays, and as usual it is the poor slob who pays his mortgage every month, or wants to buy a new house.

Get full story here.

Capitol South

Repeal and Start Over

By Robert Romano

Now that ObamaCare is the law of the land, and is as unpopular as ever, Congressional Republicans are left with the daunting task of peeling back the layers of the newly-expanded entitlement state left in the wake of the government takeover of health care.

A CBS News poll released last week found an overwhelming majority, 62 percent, of Americans want the GOP to continue their resistance to government-run health care. That includes 66 percent of political Independents, and even 41 percent of Democrats who said that Republicans should continue their opposition. This, as businesses (see: Boston Herald and New Hampshire Union Leader) warn that ObamaCare is a jobs-killer.

With any political mandate, however, the question becomes not whether or not to pursue the public’s agenda, but how. On that count, there appears to be a bit of debate. Should Republicans campaign on repealing the bill entirely, or should they maintain certain provisions?

As reported by Americans for Limited Government Director of Congressional Affairs, Derek Baker, “there has been much discussion and confusion about whether Republicans should pursue a strategy of ‘repeal’ (or ‘repeal and start all over’) versus ‘repeal and replace.’ While this may seem a matter of semantics to the casual observer, there is substance to the debate. At issue is what’s assumed in the repeal and replace mantra: leave the now current law mandate in place to cover preexisting conditions, rather than pursue the piecemeal strategy (once ObamaCare is repealed) that has been championed all year by Republicans of moving incremental bills that improve the healthcare system step-by-step (such as the ability to purchase insurance across state lines).”

The trouble with leaving the mandate in place for insurance companies to cover so-called preexisting conditions is that it accepts the premise of federal control over minimum levels of insurance coverage. As with any coverage expansion mandated by law, this will place upward pressure on the cost of premiums — the very problem health care reform purports to address.

In short, accepting it is tantamount to accepting higher premiums. One of the major reasons premiums have risen to the degree they have is because of the minimum insurance requirements that states already impose upon companies. Coupled with the ban on the interstate purchase of health insurance and thus the lack of a competitive national marketplace, some states have seen premiums rise faster than others.

To be certain, several states already have used what are called “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” rules that cover preexisting conditions. These rules require insurers to accept applicants without regards to factors like health status or age, and not to charge higher premiums as a result.

Get full story here.