NBC News' Kevin Tibbles reports on why a replica of Noah?s Ark is causing both excitement and skepticism about such a large display of faith in the public square.
On Meet the Press, Senator Bob Corker chastises the Obama administration for what he describes as not doing what they say they will do on foreign policy.
On Meet the Press, Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Senator Bob Corker warns of the possibility of Russia taking over control of Eastern Ukraine if the U.S. doesn?t act.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
There are more than five, of course, and voting Democrat may not be much of an improvement, but attaching these adjectives to the comically contemptible GOP seems more than appropriate.
In 2010 Mitch McConnell said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." He didn't mention the economy, or education, or jobs, or the housing market. Instead, the goal is to beat Obama, whatever misery it might cause 200 million Americans.
For the past two years the Republicans have obstructed proposals that would have helped most Americans. They fought the middle-class tax cut because it would only apply to the first quarter-million of income. They killed a jobs bill that was supported by two-thirds of the public. They rejected a bill to disclose information about big campaign donors. They disrupted the routine process of increasing the debt ceiling, thus triggering the first-ever downgrading of the U.S. credit rating. Most recently they've obstructed efforts to provide mortgage debt relief to American homeowners.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Mitt Romney has to be more relieved than an Iowa corn farmer in the middle of a thunderstorm to be back on home soil. Arms wide. Head back. Wet face. Smile. Podium steps. National Anthem. The American electorate may harbor an ambivalent attitude towards the former governor of Massachusetts, but the reaction to his European Vacation from folks across the big pond could only be described as decisively derisive. If diplomacy were a hurdling sport, the guy stumbled over the lane chalk. The plan was for the GOP nominee to embark on a low- risk, three- country jaunt to raise his suspect foreign policy bona fides, but the seven- day charm offensive proved to be light on charm and heavy on offense. Good will hunting transformed into ill will gathering.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a day or two, BuzzFlash Commentary (formerly known as the BuzzFlash blog) will move to the actual Truthout site. It is an exciting step in the continued integration of BuzzFlash into Truthout.
Not only will there be the physical move of the site (and when the move is completed, you will be reading this message on the new design), but it will now allow for photographs, videos, audio and other enhancements to be integrated into BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
We wrecked Iraq, we pulled out, we redeployed in Anaheim.
This ain't working, guys- I mean, firing rubber bullets into anguished crowds, siccing attack dogs on moms and children. I mean, inventing enemies, going to war, unleashing state-of-the-art firepower in all directions and eventually losing, but not before we've inflicted maximum suffering on the innocent and magnified the original problem tenfold.
We lose every war we fight.
Another way to say that is: We exacerbate every problem we militarize. Indeed, militarization is as much a part of the problem - as much a threat to civilization - as, for instance, terrorism or drugs. And the recent, ongoing community uproar in Anaheim, Calif., over two police slayings of Latino males in one weekend - and the subsequent police reaction to that outrage - illustrates the terrifying ineffectiveness of a militarized, "us vs. them" approach to conflict.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Isn't it voter fraud to deny US citizens the right to vote?
That is what the Republican Party is engaged in its campaign to place onerous requirements on the poor, infirm and destitute seniors, the homeless, students and others to vote.
Politico recently ran background summaries on each state that has passed restrictive voter laws in an article entitled "Voter ID laws could swing states": "At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012." Think Progress reports that "As many as 43 percent of voters in the city of Philadelphia may lack valid Pennsylvania Department of Transportation-issued photo identification, the City Paper reports. While several other forms of photo identification - including U.S. passports and many student ID cards - are acceptable proof of identity under the controversial and possibly unconstitutional new law, this statistic suggests these restrictions may provide an even larger obstacle for urban (and racial minority) communities who do not drive."
Why is the disenfranchisement of potentially millions of Americans the perpetration of a fraud? Because it would mean perhaps millions will not be able to vote due to false claims by GOP sponsors of these bills that there are massive cases of illegal voters in the United States.
In a recent Brennan Center for Justice report it is noted that Republican backed obstacles to exercise the right to vote are not limited to government-issue photo ID cards:
"Significantly, these voting law cutbacks extend well beyond the most visible and controversial step to require government-issued photo ID that many citizens don't have," said report co-author Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program and former Chair of the Ohio Secretary of State's bipartisan Election Summit and Conference. "An array of technical moves can add to significant barriers to the ballot. And it comes at a time when experience has taught us there are many ways to improve the voting process and expand access to the franchise while reducing costs."
The Brennan Center report also warns that "The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012-63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency."
Debunking the myth of voter fraud, the Brennan Center produced a study that showed in a state such as Wisconsin, where Scott Walker led the charge against "alleged" voter fraud, there were only minute voting errors in the 2004 election (.00006% of ineligible voters casting ballots in the state that year) - and that "none of these problems could have been resolved by requiring by requiring photo ID at the polls."
Writing in the Michigan Law Review in 2007, Spencer Overton bluntly lays out the facts:
The Carter-Baker Commission's Report noted that since October 2002, federal officials had charged eighty-nine individuals with casting multiple votes, providing false information about their felon status, buying votes, submitting false voter registration information, or voting improperly as a noncitizen. Examined in the context of the 196,139,871 ballots cast between October 2002 and August 2005, this represents a fraud rate of 0.000045% (and note also that not all of the activities charged would have been prevented by a photo- identification requirement)
When you balance taking away the Constitutional right to vote of millions of Americans on the basis of 89 people being charged nationally with illegal voting over a three year period, those who seek to restrict access to the ballot box are engaged in a fraudulent scheme to impact elections through the denial of the most basic right of citizenship.
STEVEN JONAS, MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On July 30, 2012, former Vice-President Dick Cheney described President Obama as one of the "weakest" Presidents, ranking even (sic) Jimmy Carter above him (1). That statement makes one wonder: what is Cheney's definition of the opposite of weakness? That is "strength." Well, let's take a look at some of Cheney's personal and political history to try to determine the answer to that question.
Spain’s Audiencia Nacional is continuing its investigation into the alleged torture of men formerly detained at Guantánamo prison by U.S. officials, despite recent legislative restrictions stating that Spanish courts can only investigate human rights violations committed abroad if the suspects are present in Spain.
With the approach of the fourth anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, more than 50 conservation and public interest groups — the majority representing Gulf and Lake Michigan communities — today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reverse its premature decision to reinstate BP as a federal contractor for oil exploration, drilling and production.
The State Department announced today that it will provide agencies more time to comment on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, in the wake of uncertainty about the pipeline’s route. This extended comment period results from a February ruling in Nebraska that struck down a state law giving Gov. Dave Heineman authority to approve the route of the pipeline.
Ross Hammond, Senior campaigner for the climate and energy program at Friends of the Earth, had the following comment:
Following the news that the Obama Administration is delaying a decision on Keystone XL, CREDO, a national progressive group working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, released the following statement:
350.org co-founder Bill McKibben issued the following response to the news that the State Department and Obama Adminsitration will be delaying a decision on the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline:
Late last night, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory released his so-called “Comprehensive Coal Ash Action Plan” claiming the legislation will “close loopholes in state law to strengthen the state’s ability to regulate coal ash ponds.” But comprehensive review of the proposed plan conducted by environmental experts and public interest attorneys reveals that it categorically fails to live up to the hype and meaningfully protect North Carolinians from poisoned drinking water as well as another tragic and toxic coal ash spill.
President Obama stepped into the press room to discuss the crisis in Ukraine yesterday and to provide his sympathy for the Korean maritime tragedy on Thursday. And he had a confident hop in his step as he approached the podium?because he had something big to say about health care.
Actual Obamacare results are in. And in most cases they are exceeding expectations.
When asked if Democrats should campaign on Obamacare, President Obama said:
Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people like the woman I just described who I saw in Pennsylvania yesterday we?re helping because of something we did. I don?t think we should apologize for it. I don?t think we should be defensive about it. I think there is a strong good right story to tell. I think what the other side is doing and what the other side is offering would strip away protections from those families and from hundreds of millions of people who had health insurance before the law was passed but never knew if the insurance company would drop them when they actually needed it or women who were getting charged more because they are a woman.Please read more about this strong stand below the fold.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and young, black Jacob Philadelphia touching Barack Obama's close-cropped black hair said it for me. As Jonathan Capeheart wrote in Photo speaks volumes about Obama and race:
A black man allowing his head to be touched by a stranger. But not just any stranger. A child seeking a familiar link between himself and the black man, who also happens to be the leader of the free world.I'm already worn out from the relentless racial obduracy of Jonathan Chait, last seen defending himself again on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC after his back-and-forth with Ta-Nehisi Coates?who scored point, game match against Chait.
The rabid racist right-wing in this country already knows that "their" White House has been violated by blackness. The birthers and their ilk still spew venom (see Rand Paul's new pollster). Klan-fueled, white supremacist haters murdered people at a Jewish Center, slayed Sikhs and plot to kill the president. This is familiar news.
That's why the timing of Cillizza's piece is curious.
Could it have anything to do with the recent activities of President Obama and upcoming elections?
Follow me below the fold for more.
Ross Douthat is really determined to prove that he can write just damn anything and still get paid. As an lesson in Advanced Conservative Thinking, let's tackle it in three easy pieces.
In the season of resurrection, it?s fitting that he?s with us once again ? bearded, prophetic, moralistic, promising to exalt the humble and cast down the mighty from their thrones.Okay, so there's a new book out that points up what's immediately obvious to the most casual observer: except for the period where the government was injecting huge amounts of capital into infrastructure and research, corporate capitalism has acted as a highly effective system for sucking up wealth and funneling it to a tiny number of hands. Which Douthat doesn't really seem to dispute... except that pointing this out means that leftists are replacing Jesus with Marx! And in this Easter season! Oh, the Douthanity.
Yes, that?s right: Karl Marx is back from the dead. ...
Piketty ... is a social democrat who abjures the Marxist label. But as his title suggests, he is out to rehabilitate and recast one of Marx?s key ideas: that so-called ?free markets,? by their nature, tend to enrich the owners of capital at the expense of people who own less of it.
This idea seemed to be disproved in the 20th century, by the emergence of a prosperous, non-revolutionary working class. But Piketty argues that those developments were transitory, made possible mostly by the massive destruction of inherited capital during the long era of world war.
Absent another such disruption, he expects a world in which the returns to capital permanently outstrip ? as they have recently ? the returns to labor, and inequality rises far beyond even today?s levels. Combine this trend with slowing growth, and we face a future like the 19th-century past, in which vast inherited fortunes bestride the landscape while the middle class fractures, weakens, shrinks.
... even if Piketty?s broad projections are correct, the future he envisions might be much more stable and sustainable than many on the left tend to assume. Even if the income and wealth distributions look more Victorian, that is, the 99 percent may still be doing well enough to be wary of any political movement that seems too radical, too utopian, too inclined to rock the boat.I have to stop there. What Douthat has just said, with apparent seriousness, is that it doesn't matter that the 1% suck up all the wealth, just so long as 99% gets just enough to keep them from rushing the Bastille. So long as the wealthy can keep the poor "too wary" to take any action, things will be "stable." Well, thank goodness.
But wait, wait, wait. This is two thirds of the way through the article, and one not-so-subtle allusion aside, Douthat hasn't yet told us that the real problem is that atheists are wrecking the religious core of American life. What the...
The taproot of agitation in 21st-century politics... may indeed be a Marxian sense of everything solid melting into air. But what?s felt to be evaporating could turn out to be cultural identity ? family and faith, sovereignty and community ? much more than economic security.Ahhh. There we go.
Honestly. Douthat writes a whole column in which seeing all the wealth go to the 1% is perfectly fine so long as the 99% aren't starving so badly that they are rioting in the streets, and the real threat is that people might attack those institutions that keep people living under the rule of the 1%. Because, you know, that might lead to instability.
And that, friends, is 21st Century Conservatism in one painful lesson.
Let's see if there's any more sanity on other pages...
Imagine that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that America was about to be hit by a preventable epidemic of a deadly, though curable, virus. In response, the federal government budgeted funds for each of the 50 states to purchase antidotes to save the afflicted and vaccines to immunize residents against future outbreaks. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the White House raised the revenue to completely cover the costs of the emergency program for three years and promised to pay 90 percent of the bill after that. Even having to pick up 10 percent of the tab, most states would come out ahead by virtue of not having to pay for the care of the sick and the dying. All the 50 governors and state legislatures had to do to save thousands of their residents from needless deaths was to say one word to free money from Uncle Sam: Yes.
Now, imagine that 24 states simply said no, for no other reason than their leaders' dislike of the president and his political party.
If that sounds inconceivable, it shouldn't. It's actually happening right now. By rejecting the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, Republicans are making the unconscionable routine by guaranteeing that thousands of their own constituents will die every year. Die, that is, from the GOPer virus.
That's not hyperbole, but a grim reality. Due to what might be the greatest act of political spite in modern American history, Republicans will needlessly leave millions of people uninsured, many hospitals on the edge of financial ruin and thousands of Americans dead, mostly in the states the GOP itself controls.
Continue reading to see how the Republicans' killer math works.
Some of the best-known ?super PACs? and outside groups ? like Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the conservative billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch ? are making an effort to also cast their candidates in an appealing way instead of solely attacking opponents. Already this year, 16 percent of Americans for Prosperity?s spots have been positive; in 2012, the group did not run a single one.Sixteen percent? That's off the positivity charts, baby!
The shift is the product of several factors ? the renewed hope that positive commercials can break through the advertising clutter; lessons of the 2012 presidential race, when Mitt Romney and outside Republican groups largely failed to offer an alternate message to an onslaught of negative spots; and the increasing prevalence of stock footage made public by campaigns that makes producing positive ads easier.Ah ha ha ha ... so that's it. Campaigns are going to release footage of their candidate "to the public," which will mean that the SuperPACs can "appropriate" those candidate images for use in their own totally uncoordinated advertising campaigns for that candidate. And since no campaign is going to release footage of their candidate biting the head off a squirrel "to the public," positive ads it is!
?Any idiot can do a negative ad badly, and many do, but a good positive ad captures a sense of the candidate and the candidate?s connection to the place where he?s running,? said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist who advises roughly a dozen super PACs and candidates, and who made the 2002 ad tying a Democratic senator from Georgia, Max Cleland, who lost both legs and his right hand in the Vietnam War, to Osama bin Laden.And fuck you for that forever, fella. Run all the positive ads you want from now on, you're still a piece of trash. And I mean that in the most positive of ways.
Note that the Koch brothers alone are worth 100 billion dollars. They could spend one billion dollars on every last American Senate race in the next six years and still have enough left over to buy a cheeseburger. When they want a certain candidate in office, or don't want a certain candidate in office, Americans for Prosperity can spend as much money as they want to try to make that happen because the Supreme Court doesn't think one family personally buying all the Senate seats would be a problem. With the kind of money being thrown around these days, of course there's going to be some percentage of positive ads. There will have to be, simply because they will eventually have run through every possible smear on every possible opponent and have nothing else to run.
Indonesian police have opened fire on peaceful protesters in Jayapura, with at least four gunshot wounds and one death. West Papuan activists and families have been forced to flee to the jungle for safety. Indonesian security forces are conducting scores of raids, sweeps and offensives against West Papuan civilians. The attacks are happening during the visit of National Police Chief General Sutarman with over 200 people arrested across West Papua. Journalists have also been attacked by Indonesian police according to Amnesty International...Read more at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia. The Indonesian Police chief says any plans to free Papua from Indonesia won't be tolerated, including Flag raising ceremonies on the West Papuan national Day, December 1st.
Calls for Independence by West Papuans have been made since the sham "Act of Free Choice in 1969". They have suffered a neglected genocide at the hands of the Indonesian military (2004) with continued Repression (2007). Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in 2010 and in 2011 rejecting special autonomy, demanding a referendum on independence. Indonesia plans to build 1,500 km of new roads in the next two years to accelerate ?development', increase military presence, and open up more illegal logging. Three Papuans highlighted the human rights abuses at the APEC meeting in Bali this year by scaling the Australian Consulate?s fence in the dead of night and hand-delivering a personal plea to open the Indonesian province to world scrutiny.
A new academic law and human rights report A slow-motion genocide: Indonesian rule in West Papua (PDF), details the extent of the genocide and abuse of human rights. (Review by Greenleft) Activists have called for Australia to End pragmatic complicity in West Papua in response to comments by new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Imprisoned Papuan leader Selpius Bobii also responded saying, "We Live In Terror, Mr Abbott".
Related: Waging Nonviolence: Flotilla unsettles Indonesia?s occupation of West Papua | West Papuan National Day Goes Global | West Papuans to join commemoration of Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat
More Information: West Papua media Alerts | Freedom Flotilla
Civil society organisations abandoned the COP19 climate change negotiations in Warsaw on mass. Members from Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Actionaid, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union Confederation (statement) and 350.org all started leaving the conference at 2pm. This is an unprecedented action, the first time several major civil society groups have staged a mass walkout.
Friends of the Earth International highlighted that the Warsaw Climate Change negotiations were failing, with Tension high in Warsaw talks as G77+China walk out. The role of Australia and reduced ambition of Japan have been widely mentioned. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers, but there has been substantial intransigence from much of the developed world to progressing the negotiations forward on finance, ambition, and a loss and damage mechanism. Poland's Coal Summit has shown the fossil fuel corporatism entwined in this COP with widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations of COP19 and at UNFCCC official Christiania Figueres who gave the keynote speech at the coal summit
Related: Democracy Now: "Nature Does Not Negotiate": Environmentalists Walk Out of U.N. Climate Summit in Warsaw | "Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming | "We Have to Consume Less": Scientists Call For Radical Economic Overhaul to Avert Climate Crisis
Analysis: The Warsaw walkout and the Climate Movement
The weekend of 16th and 17th November saw tens of thousands of people in Canada and Australia out in the streets in over 260 protests against the climate policies of these countries. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers in Warsaw at COP19.
The Saturday protests in Canada occurred from coast to coast to Repulse Bay, Nunavut on the Arctic circle, more than 10,000 people gathered in over 180 events co-ordinated by Defend our Climate. Many protests focussed on stopping further expansion of the Alberta tar sands and pipelines to move the bitumenous oil south to Texas, east through Ontario and Quebec, and west through British Columbia. On Sunday, more than 60,000 people attended climate protests across Australia, protesting the attempt to repeal carbon pricing and clean energy programs by the conservative Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected on 7 September this year, who denied any link between climate change and bushfires as unusually early and intense bushfires raged around Sydney.
Civil Society NGO and local Polish activists also staged a Climate Justice march in Warsaw in association with the COP19 climate change negotiations taking place. Super Typhoon Haiyan set the initial mood at the negotiations with Philippines negotiator Naderev Saño (Yeb Saño) saying "time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway". There is widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations in Warsaw with Japan and Australia being particularly singled out.
Related: Australia Indymedia - Tens of Thousands rally for Climate Action across Australia
Authorities of Tacloban City with a population of 220,000 and capital of Leyte province, gave an early estimate that perhaps 10,000 people died from this one city. Many people were surprised by the huge storm surge tidal waves that inundated much of the city. Many smaller coastal villages were also devastated with most buildings destroyed or suffering severe damage. According to the UN Reliefweb report on 14 November the number of affected people has increased to 11.8 million. The official death count from Typhoon Haiyan is currently 4,460 but with numbers still increasing. There were 921,200 people displaced and 243,600 houses destroyed. A total of 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance.
Related: Climate IMC: Typhoon Haiyan: This is a climate crime | Time for turning tears into anger says Walden Bello | Philippine groups demand action on climate finance, loss and damage in Warsaw climate talks | Ejected from COP19 for expressing solidarity to the Philippines | Youth observers expelled from UN climate change talks for Philippines Solidarity | Indybay: Super typhoon Haiyan is climate wake-up call | They destroy We suffer Statement on Yolanda?s Aftermath
Non-corporate Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts: Waves for Water | Haiyan NYC Relief Project | Doctors without Borders | Oxfam International
Climate Negotiations are over for another year with little progress in Doha by any one's measure as the scientific statements on climate change and the impacts we are already feeling as evidenced in record Arctic melting, and extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, and Cyclone Evan in the South Pacific are growing much stronger.
Some of the latest scientific research shows:
Photos: Photos by World Resources Institute | Photos by Oxfam | The Verb: Climate March in Doha | The Verb: COP18 Actions
Related: Deep emissions cuts urged at climate summit | Towards a Grand Compromise in the Climate Negotiations | COP18, another 'Conference of Polluters' | An open letter to governments and their negotiators | Climate compensation row at Doha | Forest Groups Protest False Solutions | IPCC's Planned Obsolescence: Fifth Assessment Report Will Ignore Crucial Permafrost Carbon Feedback! | Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point