Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Video: BP had no role in Lockerbie bomber's release, Cameron says

Racial tensions roil NC school board; 19 arrests

RALEIGH, N.C. — Protesters and police scuffled Tuesday at a school board meeting in North Carolina over claims that a new busing system would resegregate schools, roiling racial tensions reminiscent of the 1960s.

Nineteen people were arrested, including the head of state NAACP chapter who was banned from the meeting after a trespassing arrest at a June school board gathering.

"We know that our cause is right," the Rev. William Barber said shortly before police put plastic handcuffs on his wrists before the meeting started.

Inside, more than a dozen demonstrators disrupted the meeting by gathering around a podium, chanting and singing against the board's policies.

After several minutes, Raleigh police intervened and asked them to leave. When they refused, the officers grabbed arms and tried to arrest the protesters. One child was caught in the pushing and shoving, as was school board member Keith Sutton, who was nearly arrested before authorities realized who he was.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, resegregation has got to go," some protesters chanted.

Sutton, the only black member of the board, said he went into the crowd to try and calm things down and encourage officers not to use such strong force. He said he felt insulted that he almost got arrested and believes the officer who tried to detain him owes him an apology.

"I'm just real dismayed and disappointed," Sutton said.

The Wake County School Board has voted multiple times over the last several months to scrap the district's diversity policy, which distributed students based on socioeconomics and for years had been a model for other districts looking to balance diversity in schools. Several school board members elected last year have built a majority in favor of focusing on neighborhood schools.

The board's chairman, Ron Margiotta, said the panel would not be distracted in its effort to "provide choice and increased stability for families."

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Barack Obama Cedes Presidency To Glenn Beck

By Oliver Willis
Consider me disgusted. It is increasingly becoming clear that the USDA official forced out by the Obama administration was not only pushed out thanks to conveniently edited video, but especially because the right wing media has President Obama’s extremities in a vice.

If Shirley Sherrod’s story told on CNN is accurate, the Obama administration had Deputy Undersecretary of Rural Development call Sherrod and had her resign because she would be featured on Glenn Beck’s show. What the hell is that?

Look, Barack Obama, you’re not in the White House to do Glenn Beck’s bidding. We put you there to fight for the American people, not placate the right wing nutjobs who nearly ruined this country. I know you want to bring people together, but that doesn’t mean conceding the government to neo-McCarthyite like Glenn Beck.

This is appalling, and easily the worst thing that’s been done since you were elected. Under Secretary Cook should be packing her bags, and Ms. Sherrod should be reinstated with some sort of compensation to make up for this egregious error.

Giant Laser Cannon Shoots Down Planes, Sets Fear Into Hearts

The day has finally come — the laser wars have officially begun. Yup, in just a few years things are get totally Terminator around the world. See, the company Raytheon has officially unveiled their Laser Close-In Weapon System at an air show in England, which can take down unmanned aircraft easily with it’s 50 kilowatt beam. The U.S. Navy is now incorporating it into their anti-missile defense, which would situate it as a last defense on their massive battleships. It won’t be long now — which side will you be on in the laser wars?

Bailout Reaches $3.7 Trillion

Posted By Pat Dollard
WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - Increased housing commitments swelled U.S. taxpayers’ total support for the financial system by $700 billion in the past year to around $3.7 trillion, a government watchdog said on Wednesday.

The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said the increase was due largely to the government’s pledges to supply capital to Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) and to guarantee more mortgages to the support the housing market.

Increased guarantees for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the Government National Mortgage Association and the Veterans administration increased the government’s commitments by $512.4 billion alone in the year to June 30, according to the report.

“Indeed, the current outstanding balance of overall Federal support for the nation’s financial system…has actually increased more than 23% over the past year, from approximately $3.0 trillion to $3.7 trillion — the equivalent of a fully deployed TARP program — largely without congressional action, even as the banking crisis has, by most measures, abated from its most acute phases,” the TARP inspector general, Neil Barofsky, wrote in the report.

The total includes Federal Reserve programs and a myriad of asset guarantees, including Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protection for bank deposits.

The increased government commitments more than offset about a $300 billion decline in the U.S. Treasury’s TARP commitments in the past year as programs have closed and banks have repaid taxpayer funds.


Barofsky also in the report ramped up his criticism of the Treasury’s housing relief efforts, saying that its program to reduce monthly mortgage payments for struggling homeowners was showing “anemic” participation numbers and had failed to “put an appreciable dent in foreclosure filings.”

He said Treasury had refused his repeated recommendations to announce more effective goals and benchmarks for its mortgage modification program, which could reach up to $50 billion in TARP funds.

“Treasury’s refusal to provide meaningful goals for this important program is a fundamental failure of transparency and accountability that makes it far more difficult for the American people and their representatives in Congress to assess whether the program’s benefits are worth its very substantial cost,” Barofsky wrote.

Among other recommendations repeated in the report, Barofsky called for the Treasury to consider making its voluntary mortgage principal reduction program mandatory, saying this would make it less likely for “underwater” homeowners to abandon their properties.

The Treasury has declined to adopt the recommendation, citing the prospect that mandatory principal reduction would cause mortgage servicing firms to opt out of the program and fairness issues in reducing principal for both responsible homeowners hit by value declines and homeowners who overleveraged their properties in refinancings.

U.S. Treasury officials defended the Home Affordable Modification Program, saying that it was still on track to reach its goal to keep 3 million to 4 million homeowners in their homes by the end of 2012 and was adapting to changing conditions by offering forbearance to unemployed people and extra funding for the hardest-hit markets.

Herbert Allison, Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability, said the Treasury often agrees with Barofsky’s recommendations, “but once in a while, we differ on what type of policy will best carry out our mandate.”

The report provoked swift criticism of Obama administration housing policies from U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who has taken every opportunity to blast the Treasury’s handling of financial bailout programs.

“The fact that the Obama administration is treating TARP like its own personal slush-fund is beyond egregious and a complete betrayal of what the American people were told would be then when their tax-dollars were used to bailout Wall Street,” Issa said in a statement, adding that the housing efforts were “dumping good money after bad”. (Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kazunori Takada)

Michael Steele Accused of Hiding RNC Debts

Wow, it’s pretty bad when your own treasurer accuses you of hiding stuff. Via Taegan-

The RNC failed to report more than $7 million in debt to the FEC in recent months — “a move that made its bottom line appear healthier than it is heading into the midterm elections and that also raises the prospect of a hefty fine,” the Washington Times reports.

RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen accused Chairman Michael Steele “of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer — a charge RNC officials deny.” Pullen said that he “had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC.”

The Hotline notes Pullen’s allegations “are sure to incite fireworks” at the party’s August meeting. “Both Steele and Pullen have allies on the party’s budget committee, where influential members of the RNC often find themselves. The proxy battle between the 2 is likely to dominate the gathering in Kansas City.”

Obama Signs Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act

At a press conference moments ago, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law. See Conference Report version prior to signing of Act; see also FEI summary of highlights of the Act by Cady North, manager of Government Affairs, FEI.

The White House Blog has a post by Jesse Lee linking to White House summaries of the Act and a related 3 minute video, What Wall Street Reform Means To You.

The President's signing of the Act was shown via live-stream video on earlier today, and an archived video will be availalble later today. (I assume the written text of his remarks will be posted in the White House Briefing Room later today as well.)

Obama opened his remarks noting that we faced the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and that "Although the economy is growing again, too many people are still feeling the pain of the downturn."

In listening to Obama's remarks earlier today, here are some things I noted as highlights:

While a number of factors led to such a recession, the primary cause was a breakdown in the financial system, a breakdown in responsibility, from the halls ...corners of wall street, to ...Washington, DC ... ...antiquated rules... unscrupulous lenders... firms like AIG placed massive, risky bets with borrowed money. While the rules left abuse unchecked, they also left taxpayers on the hook.

Obama reminded people numerous times during his remarks that, "Ulltimately there's no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street." (I believe he was trying to demonstrate there is mutual reliance or a symbiotic relationship, so to speak, between the two, and the two should not view each other as 'opponents.') For example, Obama said: "The fact is, the financial industry is central to our nation's ability to grow, prosper, compete."

Bill Will Foster, Not Hamper, Innovation; Nothing To Fear From Reform
He added, "There are a lot of banks who understand this, a whole lot of bankers who want to do right.. this bill will help foster, not hamper, innovation, so firms compete based on price and quality, not on tricks, not on traps... provides certainty ... unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking customers, you've got nothing to fear from reform."

Among the things the President listed under the topic of "what Wall Street Reform Means to you," were:

•making credit contracts "fine print" more understandable
•looking out for people: companies will have to seek out customers by better products, not abusive practices
•reform will finally bring transparency
•shareholders will have greater say on pay of exec's, so they can reward success, instead of failure

No More Tax Funded Bailouts
Obama emphasized: "There will be no more tax funded bailouts, period.... If a large financial institution should ever fail, this bill gives us [a way] to wind it down... [no more] too big to fail, so we won't have another AIG."

Regulators' Role
"Regulators will have to be vigilant," noted Obama, adding, "we may need to make adjustments along the way." As noted further above, he also referenced 'antiquated rules' that will have to be addressed.

Posted by Edith Orenstein

Black Couple Give Birth To White Blue-Eyed Blonde Baby Girl

The baby is as white as they come!
The stunned black dad of a newborn, white, baby girl declared yesterday — “I’m sure she’s my kid … I just don’t know why she’s blonde.” British Nmachi Ihegboro has amazed genetics experts who say the little girl is not an albino. Dad Ben, 44, a customer services adviser, admitted: “We both just sat there after the birth staring at her.” Mum Angela, 35, of Woolwich, South London, beamed as she said: “She’s beautiful – a miracle baby.” Ben told yesterday how he was so shocked when Nmachi was born, he even joked: “Is she mine?”

He added: “Actually, the first thing I did was look at her and say, ‘What the flip?’” But as the baby’s older brother and sister – both black – crowded round the “little miracle” at their home in South London, Ben declared: “Of course she’s mine.” Blue-eyed blonde Nmachi, whose name means “Beauty of God” in the Nigerian couple’s homeland, has baffled genetics experts because neither Ben nor wife Angela have any mixed-race family history. Pale genes skipping generations before cropping up again could have explained the baby’s appearance. Ben also stressed: “My wife is true to me. Even if she hadn’t been, the baby still wouldn’t look like that.”

Doctors at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup – where Angela, from nearby Woolwich, gave birth – have told the parents Nmachi is definitely no albino. Ben, who came to Britain with his wife five years ago and works for South Eastern Trains, said: “She doesn’t look like an albino child anyway – not like the ones I’ve seen back in Nigeria or in books. She just looks like a healthy white baby.” He went on: “My mum is a black Nigerian although she has a bit fairer skin than mine. “But we don’t know of any white ancestry. We wondered if it was a genetic twist. But even then, what is with the long curly blonde hair?”

Professor Bryan Sykes, head of Human Genetics at Oxford University and Britain’s leading expert, yesterday called the birth “extraordinary”. He said: “In mixed race humans, the lighter variant of skin tone may come out in a child – and this can sometimes be startlingly different to the skin of the parents. This might be the case where there is a lot of genetic mixing, as in Afro-Caribbean populations. But in Nigeria there is little mixing.” Prof Sykes said both parents would have needed “some form of white ancestry” for a pale version of their genes to be passed on. But he added: “The hair is extremely unusual. Even many blonde children don’t have blonde hair like this at birth.” The expert said some unknown mutation was the most likely explanation.

Surprise: Ex-Gov. Blago May Not Testify After All in Fed Trial

By Allan Lengel

The lawyers for Rod Blagojevich may ask the ex-governor to do what he’s least good at: Keeping his big yap shut.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that defense attorneys told U.S. District Judge James Zagel Tuesday afternoon that they planned to rest their case without presenting a witness, including Blagojevich, who had been expected to take the stand.

The paper reported that the judge, in a private conference, told lawyers to think about it overnight.

The Sun-Times reported that the father and son defense lawyer team — Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. — said they disagree over whether the ex-gov should testify.

The father thought he shouldn’t because the government failed to prove its case, the paper reported. The son said he should since he promised jurors in his opening statement that Blagojevich would testify.

To read more click here.

With Pacquiao, Mayweather Loses his Swagger

By Rasheed Catapang: Team Mayweather is speaking now, going as far as denying that a negotiation to fight Pacquiao ever took place. However, they’re still not answering the only question that really matters: When will Mayweather fight Pacquiao? Will he ever?

The words of Floyd Mayweather Jr. himself after a lengthy silence require deciphering. “I’m not interested in rushing to do anything right now. I’m not really thinking about boxing right now… Just relaxing.”


The words are coy and utterly unfit for a king. Mayweather, if he still fancies himself one, has to demand respect. Pacquiao, wanting to fill his coffer and all, declared war to Floyd. A king is not supposed to just move aside to avoid the onslaught.

Floyd just did.

What had happened to Floyd and where’s his swagger?

Say a kid took a bully’s lunch, demanded his pocket money and everything he had. Will the bully ask first what the kid is on before administering a beating?

Or the world’s giving you truckloads of money and a chance for you to prove what you’ve been saying all along. Won’t it be right to just take the money and do your thing?

Actions contrary to the norm would only mean something else. Floyd’s words in response to a direct challenge have no meaning.

Mayweather appears content to just grab the p4p crown through the poll, to battle it out in the court of public opinion – knowing full well that a fantasy fight concocted in man’s mind is winnable, considering he’s perceived to have the more superior skill set. However, once enclosed in the four corners of the ring, reality is sure to take an awful turn. Not having a loss because of a carefully managed boxing career, he sure will not welcome a world of hurt.

And a world of hurt is really what Pacquiao is all about.

The Golden Boy was still golden and shining before he came across the Pacmonster. But Oscar Dela Hoya had learned through 8 painful rounds what the little devil is able to give and what he, in the receiving end, is not able to take. In the face of perpetual onslaught, Dela Hoya hoped for the KO that never came. The experience, which for him is best left unremembered, was enough to make him retire.

The Hitman still had a perfect record at 10 stones (140lbs), never losing his mark at that weight, before being offered the hit on Pacquiao. It was over in 2 rounds and Ricky Hatton got what Dela Hoya had wished for himself. Hatton never really knew what hit him. Ricky was flattened and his career as a boxer is yet to recover, one step to retirement in each passing day – if he’s not there already.

Nevertheless, Mayweather had beaten those men too. But the end results of his fights with them were not as brutal, as decisive, as immediate nor as final. It was never more so in Hatton’s case, where the world was reminded of a primal force that is Pacquiao and the devastating effect of such power when unleashed.

Still, Mayweather had beaten those men too. And he has the same – if not more – of the preternatural skill that Pacquiao has.

The world demanded a clash inside the ring to prove who the better man is. But Mayweather’s not wavering in his conviction, whatever that is.

Perhaps Floyd’s real concern is that the world would stop and watch, and celebrate the fall of the mighty. If Paquiao is able to do to him what was done to Hatton, with the whole world watching, will he be able to live with the memory forever?

Hatton barely could when his pride is but a fraction of that of Mayweather. Pacquiao is all about pain and Mayweather is not ready for that.

Mayweather has retired, un-retired, and has been dangling with retirement. Pacquiao could make that permanent for him.

“I’m not interested in rushing to do anything right now. I’m not really thinking about boxing right now… Just relaxing.”

Floyd has lost the edge, the swagger and has given up the claim to Boxing’s Greatest Ever.

And while the King was looking down, the Jester stole his thorny crown. The courtroom was adjourned…

Kyle Parker Back For Clemson

The Rockies were not going to be governed by Kyle Parker's artificial deadline (well before the MLB deadline). They didn't think Parker would go back to play football and apparently the Parkers didn't think the Rockies would let him walk. Appears the Parkers back themselves into a corner and now that decision is going to cost Kyle Parker some serious cash. This is a shock to everyone who covers Clemson, The Rockies, and The ACC. Iit appears Parker will play football for another year,still sign a baseball deal, but take less money (and spread the bonus over a longer period). As for the impact on FSU, Clemson is still the 3rd favorite to win the division (they don't draw UVA or Duke from the Coastal). But this significantly helps their chances of winning it. The decision also increases their chances of winning @ BC early in the season. And BC is FSU's top competition for the Atlantic division this season (mostly due to a weak cross-division schedule). Clemson goes from being an underdog in that game to probably being the favorite. Florida State, if it wants to win the division, needs to beat BC and then have BC lose another game. Clemson now has a better shot of helping out the 'Noles in that regard. Of course, the Tigers now have a better shot of beating FSU. This is truly a case of a double-edged sword. In an odd way, this puts everyone back where we thought they would be before Parker tore the cover off the ball this Spring in baseball (remember he did not play good baseball in '09).

Nicki Minaj premieres “Your Love” music video.

Blog favorite Nicki Minaj has premiered the official music video for her chart topping single “Your Love”, which is currently sitting at #1 on the Billboard Rap charts.

The video doesn’t have the big budget of Nicki’s underrated flop “Massive Attack”, but it makes up for that with a cohesive storyline and a lot of creativity. In the clip, Nicki is a samurai in training who falls in love with her sensei. She then runs into trouble when one of her fellow students also takes a liking to Nicki’s man (I don’t know why – he’s not that cute), and then the two battle it out in a winner-takes-all fight to the death.

It’s nice video, but the ending is a little to dramatic to the point of corniness. I would’ve liked to see some more of Nicki’s humor and fun side, but other than that, it’s a great effort.

If you’re one of the many people who worship Nicki’s every move, then you can look forward to her debut album when it hits stores on November 23.

Lindsay Lohan Will Serve 14 Days in Jail

Lindsay Lohan will likely serve only two weeks of her 90-day jail sentence, L.A. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore announced Tuesday afternoon.

The actress surrendered herself to authorities Tuesday after violating terms of her DUI probation. Lohan, 24, is being held at a women’s prison in Lynwood, Calif.

Book Of The Month Misguided Justice: The War on Drugs and the Incarceration of Black Women -

Stephanie Bush-Baskette was astonished when she read that between 1986 and 1991, black women experienced the greatest percentage increase of any group, including black males, in imprisonment for drug offenses. Not only was she stunned by the statistic, but also that the impact of the war on drugs on black women is almost never discussed. As a legislator, attorney, and gubernatorial cabinet member, Bush-Baskette is familiar with the development and implementation of public policies as well as the enactment and application of laws. This obscure fact concerning the status of black women in the criminal justice system became her touchstone as she earned a doctorate in criminal justice. In Misguided Justice, Bush-Baskette uses her expertise in the law and the legislature to investigate and then discuss the affect of the war on drugs on the incarceration of black women in the federal system. She provides an overview of what the war on drugs is; how it has impacted women and black people in general, and then focuses on black women specifically. She provides background and context regarding how the laws were implemented and how they have affected the likelihood and length of incarceration of thousands of black women for more than two decades.

About the Author

While an attorney practicing law Stephanie R. Bush-Baskette, JD, PhD was elected to the New Jersey State Legislature and resigned in her third term to join the Governor's Cabinet as the head of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. She lives in New Jersey, with her husband, Ernest.