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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stewart, Colbert preside over lighthearted, star-studded rally - CNN.com

Stewart, Colbert preside over lighthearted, star-studded rally - CNN.com

Washington (CNN) -- Assisted by a colorful cast of characters, Comedy Central funnymen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a raucous rally on the National Mall Saturday in typical fashion before a cheering throng of supporters.
Amidst all the hilarity, however, the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" carried a message about Americans turning their backs on hate and working together to make the world a better place.
Stewart and Colbert staged a mock battle, with Stewart supporting peace and sanity and Colbert promoting fear before a crowd that stretched nearly the length of the mall, most of the distance between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.
During the rally's opening, Colbert appeared on a video screen, saying he was trapped in his "fear bunker" and worried no one had shown up. Drawn by cheers, however, Colbert ascended to the stage in a device like that used to bring up the trapped Chilean miners earlier this month, wearing a superhero costume.
Former "Saturday Night Live" character Father Guido Sarducci -- played by comedian Don Novello -- provided a benediction, thanking God for "making it so easy to find parking spaces." And actor Sam Waterston of "Law and Order" fame read a poem entitled "Are You Sure?" about fears including "funnel clouds and hail/Anthrax in the mail ... someone's robbing your house/I can see through your blouse/Your mother was right, you chose the wrong spouse."
Cat Stevens, who now goes by Yusuf Islam, sang his song "Peace Train" as part of a duel with Ozzy Osbourne singing "Crazy Train." Stewart stopped Osbourne, rooting for Islam, as Colbert urged Osbourne on. The two compromised on the O'Jays, who showed up to sing their hit "Love Train."
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and "Star Wars" robot R2-D2 provided a lesson in tolerance and against stereotyping. "We're all on the same team," said Abdul-Jabbar, referencing Colbert and Stewart's discussion about Muslims.

Obama says his mission is to accelerate recovery

Obama says his mission is to accelerate recovery

Halliburton and BP Knew of Cement Flaws, Report Says - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — Halliburton officials knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.

In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the biggest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.

The result of at least one of those tests was given on March 8 to BP, which failed to act upon it, the panel’s lead investigator, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., said in a letter delivered to the commissioners on Thursday. “There is no indication that Halliburton highlighted to BP the significance of the foam stability data or that BP personnel raised any questions about it,” Mr. Bartlit said in his report.

Another Halliburton cement test, carried out about a week before the blowout of the well on April 20, also found the mixture to be unstable, meaning it was unlikely to set properly in the well, but those findings were never sent to BP, Mr. Bartlit found after reviewing previously undisclosed documents.

Although Mr. Bartlit did not specifically identify the cement failure as the sole or even primary cause of the blowout, he made clear in his letter that if the cement had done its job and kept the highly pressurized oil and gas out of the well bore, there would have been no accident.

“We have known for some time that the cement used to secure the production casing and isolate the hydrocarbon zone at the bottom of the Macondo well must have failed in some manner,” he said in his letter to the seven members of the presidential commission. “The cement should have prevented hydrocarbons from entering the well.”

The failure of the cement set off a complex and ultimately deadly cascade of events as oil and gas exploded upward from the 18,000-foot-deep well. The blowout preventer, which sits on the ocean floor atop a well and is supposed to contain a well bore breach, also failed.

In an internal investigation, BP identified the faulty cement job as one of the main factors contributing to the accident and blamed Halliburton, the cementing contractor on the Macondo well, as the responsible party. Halliburton has said repeatedly in public testimony that it tested and used a proper cement formula and that BP’s flawed well design and poor operations caused the disaster.

Jesse Gagliano, a Halliburton technical adviser, told federal investigators in Houston in August that the company was confident of the cement job and said that BP’s decision to use six well-stabilizing devices known as centralizers contributed to the failure of the cement work.



Obama Vows to 'Destroy' al Qaeda in Yemen After Bomb Discovery

Obama Vows to 'Destroy' al Qaeda in Yemen After Bomb Discovery
President Obama on Friday vowed to "destroy'' al Qaeda in Yemen after two explosive devices were found aboard U.S.-bound cargo jets.
The apparent destinations for the two explosive packages, which authorities disabled, were two Jewish synagogues in Chicago, although the president did not specify which ones. At a White House news conference, Obama called the plot a "credible terrorist attack against our country" and vowed that counterintelligence agencies would "take whatever steps are necessary" to prevent an attack.
U.S. intelligence learned late Thursday that explosives may have been planted among the tons of cargo on U.S.-bound cargo jets flying from Yemen. Agents working with British intelligence and others quickly found one device on an airliner at Britain's East Midlands airport, and another on a cargo jet parked at the Dubai airport. Officials declined to say how they learned of the plot.
Each package was roughly the size of a bread box and contained "explosive materials ... in a form that was designed to try to carry out some type of attack,'' said John Brennan, White House counter-terrorism chief, who spoke after the president. "They were intended "to do harm.''
Brennan and other officials stressed that the investigation has not yet determined whether the planted devices were part of a probe to test western counter-terrorism defenses or an actual attempted attack. Nor do officials know if there are other explosive packages hidden aboard jetliners. "We don't want to presume that we know the bounds of this plot,'' he said.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Terrorist Unsuccessfully Seek To Mail Bombs On Planes From Yemen In An Attempt To Attack Synagogues!

Obama Says Explosives Were U.S.-Bound - NYTimes.com

Obama Says Explosives Were U.S.-Bound - NYTimes.com
President Obama said on Friday that the United States had been the target of a “credible terrorist threat” by someone in Yemen who mailed packages containing explosive devices that were shipped via cargo planes and addressed to two synagogues in Chicago, setting off a global terror alert and a day of dramatic precautionary activity in the United States.
One explosive device was found at a FedEx facility in Dubai, and another was found early Friday morning at an airport in Britain, American officials said. Speaking at the White House on Friday afternoon, Mr. Obama said both of the devices “apparently did contain” explosives, contrary to earlier reports that the device found in Britain did not.
Mr. Obama said investigators were looking into the possibility of a connection to a Yemen-based group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
“The events of the past 24 hours underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism,” Mr. Obama said in a brief statement to reporters at the White House. “The American people should be confident that we will not waver in our resolve to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates and to root out violent extremism in all its forms.”
Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said late Friday that both packages contained PETN, the same explosive contained in the bomb sewn into the underwear worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on his thwarted attempt to down a commercial airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day.
In a telephone interview from Los Angeles, Ms. Harman, who was briefed by the director of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, said, “These were garden-variety, signature explosives of Al Qaeda.” Referring to improvised explosive devices, she added: “These were certainly I.E.D.’s. These were the real deal.”
American officials said an initial tip about the existence of the explosive devices came Friday from the intelligence service in Saudi Arabia. One American official said the Saudis provided “very specific information” that allowed American counterterrorism agents to quickly intercept the two packages before they reached their destination.
Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, praised the Saudi assistance in a statement Friday evening. To reporters, Mr. Brennan characterized the case as an act of attempted terrorism but did not elaborate on the extent of the potential damage from the explosives. He said that there were no suspects in custody.
“They were in a form that was designed to try to carry out some type of attack,” Mr. Brennan said, adding that both devices had been rendered inactive and were in the early stages of being analyzed. “The materials that were found and the device that was uncovered was intended to do harm.”
The wide-scale alert spread to the United States on Friday morning, when officials isolated two cargo planes at airports in Newark and Philadelphia and searched them for packages originating in Yemen, and New York police searched a delivery truck in Brooklyn. None of the shipments reaching the United States from Yemen were found to contain explosives, officials said.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Black Man Dragged Through Streets by N.Y.C. Cab After Asking to Go to Brooklyn - BV Black Spin

Black Man Dragged Through Streets by N.Y.C. Cab After Asking to Go to Brooklyn - BV Black Spin

Who says there is no such thing as racial profiling? A preppy-attired young black man hailed a New York City cab in the wee hours of Saturday morning. As the Wall Street worker attempted to step in to the vehicle, the driver asked where he was going and when the response was "Brooklyn," the cabbie hightailed it off dragging the young man along the streets of SoHo.

Jerrell Horton (pictured) is a young, black, urban professional. He is the first member of his family to obtain a college degree and is proud of it. He works a white collar job in the financial district on Wall Street. He was dressed conservatively and lives in a nice area in Brooklyn. Horton is an accomplished 23-year-old and is baffled as to why a cab driver would size him up as a threat or menace to society just because he asked to be taken to another borough in New York City other than Manhattan.

"All they see is a black man, a potential hoodlum. It's very disheartening," he told the Daily News.

REPORT: More than 30 Fox Newsers support GOP in 600-plus instances during midterms | Media Matters for America

REPORT: More than 30 Fox Newsers support GOP in 600-plus instances during midterms | Media Matters for America
REPORT: More than 30 Fox Newsers support GOP in 600-plus instances during midterms
During the 2009-2010 election cycle, more than 30 Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or organizations in more than 600 instances. The Republican support has been given to more than 300 different races or party organizations in at least 47 states. Fox News personalities and hosts have also helped start pro-Republican organizations, which have raised tens of millions of dollars.   Here is a good example of Glen Beck raising money for Republicans.  Fox News is a propaganda outlet, not a news outlet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Georgia Senatorial Debate October 15, 2010

House Candidates To Spend Over $1 Billion On Elections

House Candidates To Spend Over $1 Billion On Elections
The combined cost of the 2010 elections for the House of Representatives will total well more than $1 billion, according to a new analysis by a nonpartisan watchdog group.
Public Campaign Action Fund is pegging the final price tag for this year's House elections at a jaw-dropping $1.45 billion dollars, a 54 percent increasing in spending from 2008.
The total is not set in stone. The group came to the figure after analyzing data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics through the first three quarters of this year. But the trend lines all portend a historically pricey election and not just on the spending side. House candidates are also on pace to raise $1.275 billion, up from the $921.5 million in 2008 (the spending totals are higher then the fundraising totals because projections are based on 3rd quarter data, when candidates had yet to spend all the cash they've raised).

International face of Saddam regime to hang - World news - Mideast/N. Africa - Conflict in Iraq - msnbc.com

Tariq AzizImage via WikipediaInternational face of Saddam regime to hang - World news - Mideast/N. Africa - Conflict in Iraq - msnbc.com
Saddam Hussein's foreign minister Tariq Aziz was sentenced to death by hanging Tuesday for persecuting members of Shiite religious parties under the former regime.
Iraq's high criminal court spokesman Mohammed Abdul Sahib did not say when Aziz, 74, would be put to death. The death sentence was for a conviction on charges of taking part in a Saddam-led campaign that hunted and executed members of the Shiite Dawa Party, of which current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member.
More world news
International face of Saddam regime to hang
Saddam Hussein's foreign minister Tariq Aziz was sentenced to death by hanging Tuesday for persecuting members of Shiite religious parties under the former regime. Full story
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Aziz, a Christian who became known as the international face of Saddam's regime, has already been convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the 1992 execution of 42 merchants found guilty of profiteering. He also received a seven-year prison sentence for a case involving the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Aziz predicted he will die in prison, citing his old age and lengthy prison sentences.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pro-G.O.P. Groups Plan Final Campaign Push - NYTimes.com

Pro-G.O.P. Groups Plan Final Campaign Push - NYTimes.com
OVIEDO, Fla. — The anonymously financed conservative groups that have played such a crucial role this campaign year are starting a carefully coordinated final push to deliver control of Congress to Republicans, shifting money among some 80 House races they are monitoring day by day.
Officials involved in the effort over the midterm elections’ final week say it is being spearheaded by a core subset of the largest outside conservative groups, which have millions of dollars left to spend on television advertisements, mailings and phone calls for five potentially decisive Senate races, as well as the scores of House races.
Bolstered by a surge in last-minute donations and other financial support, outside liberal groups and unions say they are stepping up their response in advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts, but remain largely outgunned by the scale and sophistication of the operation supporting Republican candidates.
A vivid picture of how outside groups are helping Republicans across the country can be found here in central Florida. The incumbent Democrat, Representative Suzanne M. Kosmas, had a nearly four-to-one fund-raising advantage over her Republican challenger, State Representative Sandy Adams, at the end of September.
Ms. Adams, low on cash, has not run a single campaign commercial. But a host of outside groups have swept in to swamp Ms. Kosmas with attack ads, helping establish Ms. Adams as the favorite without her having to spend on television.
Many of the conservative groups say they have been trading information through weekly strategy sessions and regular conference calls. They have divided up races to avoid duplication, the groups say, and to ensure that their money is spread around to put Democrats on the defensive in as many districts and states as possible — and, more important, lock in whatever gains they have delivered for the Republicans so far.
“We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time,” said Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, which is one of the leading Republican groups this campaign season and whose chief executive is Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota. “You’re looking at the battle field and saying, ‘Where can we marginally push — where can we close a few places out?’ ”
Democrats said the conservative groups were upending some of their best-laid plans in several important races, like here in Florida, especially those in which they had been counting on the financial advantages their candidates had over lesser-financed Republicans at the beginning of the general election.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Iraq war logs: military privatisation run amok | Pratap Chatterjee | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Iraq war logs: military privatisation run amok | Pratap Chatterjee | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
The Wikileaks logs provide ample evidence of private security contractors entirely unaccountable for lethal rogue actions
The Wikileaks Iraq war logs bring to light previously unknown incidents involving military contractors like Blackwater, acting with legal immunity, which resulted in deaths of civilians during the occupation of Iraq. Photograph: Gervasio Sanchez/AP
Shortly after 10am on 14 May 2005, a convoy of private security guards from Blackwater riding down "Route Irish" – the Baghdad airport road – shot up a civilian Iraqi vehicle. While they were at it, the Blackwater men fired shots over the heads of a group of soldiers from the 69th Regiment of the US Army before they sped away heading west in their white armoured truck. When the dust cleared, the Iraqi driver was dead and his wife and daughter were injured.
A terse, 57-word dispatch in the Iraq war logs published by Wikileaks is the first public evidence of the shooting, as recorded by the US military.
The incident is one of several dozen "escalation of force" incidents involving private security companies in Iraq – which is military parlance for an unwarranted attack, almost all of which have never been previously reported. Blackwater, the company from Moyock, North Carolina, is responsible for about half of the attacks, closely followed by Erinys, a British private security company registered in the Virgin Islands, which seems to have an unusually high number of vehicle crashes.
On my four visits to Iraq in the last seven years, I learned quickly to steer clear of the fast-moving vehicles belonging to these private security companies. The men – sporting identical reflective wrap-around sunglasses, bullet-proof jackets – would aim their high-powered assault rifles and shout "Imshi" ("Move") at any vehicle that came within a 50m perimeter. Sometimes, they would throw plastic water bottles to shock pedestrians into staying away.
Easily the best-known private security company is Blackwater (recently renamed Xe), which rocketed to fame three years ago when four company security guards, escorting a convoy of US state department vehicles en route to a meeting in western Baghdad, opened fire in Nisour Square in Baghdad killing 17 Iraqi civilians. Yet, a query of the Iraq war logs for "Blackwater" or "Nisour Square" turns up nothing, at first.

Companies that received bailout money giving generously to candidates

Logo of General Motors Corporation. Source: 20...Image via WikipediaCompanies that received bailout money giving generously to candidates
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was a fierce critic of the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler last year, saying he could not "ask the American taxpayer to subsidize failure."
But GM doesn't seem to hold a grudge.
The political action committee formed by the company, which is now largely owned by taxpayers, cut McConnell a $5,000 campaign check in September, a small piece of the $190,000 it donated to campaigns in the past month.
Although GM suspended its contributions while it solicited the government for financial help, it is now back in the game of political giving, increasing donations from its federal PAC steadily over the past few months.
It is not alone: Companies that received federal bailout money, including some that still owe money to the government, are giving to political candidates with vigor. Among companies with PACs, the 23 that received $1 billion or more in federal money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program gave a total of $1.4 million to candidates in September, up from $466,000 the month before.
Most of those donations are going to Republican candidates, although the TARP program was approved primarily with Democratic support. President Obama expanded it to cover GM and other automakers.

Octavius Catto, 'The Forgotten Hero' Of The Civil Rights Movement : NPR

'The Forgotten Hero' Of The Civil Rights Movement : NPR

Wikileaks Strikes Again Website posts hundreds of thousands of Pentagon documents about the Iraq war

Haiti Cholera Outbreak Spreads Toward Capital: Hundreds Dead, Thousands Sick

Haiti Cholera Outbreak Spreads Toward Capital: Hundreds Dead, Thousands Sick
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A spreading cholera outbreak in rural Haiti threatened to outpace aid groups as they stepped up efforts Saturday hoping to keep the disease from reaching the squalid camps of earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince.
Health officials said at least 208 people had died and 2,674 others were infected in an outbreak mostly centered in the Artibonite region north of the capital.
But the number of cases in towns near Port-au-Prince were rising, and officials worried the next target will be hundreds of thousands of Haitians left homeless by January's devastating quake and now living in camps across the capital.
"If the epidemic makes its way to Port-au-Prince, where children and families are living in unsanitary, overcrowded camps, the results could be disastrous," said Dr. Estrella Serrano, World Vision's emergency response health and nutrition manager.
Reports trickled in of patients seeking treatment in clinics closer to Port-au-Prince because the St. Nicholas hospital in the seaside city of St. Marc is overflowing, said Margaret Aguirre, an International Medical Corps spokeswoman.