This strategy session sounds like a thinly veiled campaign event designed to make 150 potential donors feel important and listened to. If is actually a sincere effort to try to solve this problem let me take five minutes to completely solve it with my[...]
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Three campaign advisers?Kris Kobach, Richard Grennell, Peter Schaumber?gone. (Brian Synder/Reuters)
After close to a month of having no comment on an investigation finding that one of his top labor advisers was the recipient of leaked information about National Labor Relations Board proceedings, Mitt Romney's campaign told The Hill last week that labor adviser Peter Schaumber had left the campaign in December?coincidentally the month the investigation was happening. Of course, Schaumber was still cited on Romney's campaign website through March at least, months after he allegedly stepped down, and Josh Eidelson reports that:
A month after Schaumber?s supposed departure, he appeared on Fox News to discuss Republican outrage over Obama?s NLRB appointments (one of whom was Schaumber?s alleged mole, Flynn). The host introduced Schaumber as a ?top advisor? to Romney ? as did the Fox chyron ? and asked him about Romney?s stance on the NLRB.While Schaumber, a former NLRB member, wasn't himself the source of leaks (that we know of), he was an active participant in leaking by Terence Flynn, a current NLRB member who was at the time counsel to another Republican member. Schaumber and Flynn carried on an extensive correspondence, with Flynn sending Schaumber:
...draft opinions in cases days before the Board had voted on ? let alone released ? a decision. The IG says Flynn also sent Schaumber an e-mail from then-Chair Wilma Liebman setting out which cases were ?her top priorities? to rule on that term. (Liebman declined to comment.) The IG wrote that Flynn provided Schaumber info that the NLRB would have withheld even if Congress requested it.Meanwhile, Schaumber sent Flynn drafts of op-eds he was having published, with Flynn providing comments and revisions. Schaumber also apparently lobbied for Flynn's nomination to the National Labor Relations Board, creating at least the appearance of a quid pro quo situation?information in exchange for help with a promotion. And while much of the investigation focuses on events before Schaumber joined the Romney campaign, after he was with the campaign he wrote to Flynn asking for Flynn's personal email address, which Flynn provided. This certainly raises the question of what they might have been secretly corresponding about during Schaumber's time as a Romney adviser, particularly given the scope of the ethical violations they had already committed by that time.
In recent months we've watched the Romney campaign try to distance itself from an anti-immigrant adviser, muzzle another adviser because he was gay, and now tell us that Peter Schaumber hasn't really been his labor adviser for the duration of the investigation into the NLRB leaks, even as Schaumber remained listed on Romney's website and on Fox News as a campaign adviser. Can you even imagine what Romney's cabinet selection process would look like if he was elected president?
I’m always on the lookout for investment opportunities. The last few years, most of the profit potential seems to be outside the U.S.
Thankfully, with ETFs I can get involved in foreign markets that were once off-limits. A question still nags at me, though. Am I missing something right here at home? Isn’t America still … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: How to Invest in the World?s Fastest Growing Countries
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As Russell Pearce's power in Arizona politics grew over the years, so too did questions about his past friendship with a man who went on to become the most vocal neo Nazi in the state.
So when that neo Nazi reportedly massacred four people in a suburban Phoenix home before turning the gun on himself on Wednesday, reporters naturally turned to the former state Senate president and primary sponsor of Arizona's tough immigration law to comment on the killings.
After resisting for hours, Pearce relented late in the day and released a lengthy statement detailing how he came to know JT Ready and what eventually led to their falling out. Multiple media outlets in Arizona posted the statement in whole.
Pearce said he, like others in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, got to know Ready for his interest in Republican politics.
"When we first met JT he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person," Pearce wrote. "He worked as a telephone fundraiser for Christian and pro-life groups, he dated the daughter of one of our District 18 members, and his attitudes and spoken opinions were good and decent."
According to the Phoenix New Times, Pearce became a mentor to Ready. The powerful lawmaker helped the young man convert to the Mormon religion and he was there for Ready's first baptism.
But Pearce said Ready's demeanor changed somewhere along the way. Pearce described it as a "darkness." Ready began spending time with hate groups, including the National Socialist Movement, which is the largest neo Nazi organization in the U.S.. After pressure from fellow Republicans, Pearce eventually disavowed the friendship.
"He was angry with me and stayed angry with me, and it has been several years since I have had reason to speak with JT," Pearce said in the statement.
The former lawmaker, who was thrown out of office by voters in a recall election last year and who is currently trying to regain a seat in the state Senate, also took the opportunity to criticize reporters for hounding him with questions about his former friendship with Ready. He described the reporting as "the most reprehensible that I have ever witnessed."
Pearce said he never shared Ready's racist views and moved quickly to distance himself from the neo Nazi. He hurled anger at journalists who he said were trying to connect him to those views.
"When I learned the truth about him, I made it clear how wrong I thought it was and I worked to remove him from our Party," Pearce wrote. "Yet the lie is told and retold over and over again."
Pearce, however, didn't address the fact that, according to the New Times, it took more a year from the time that Ready went public as a white supremacist to the time the senator finally denounced him.
Finally, Pearce used the opportunity to express sadness over the massacre in which four others, including a toddler, were killed. The victims included Ready's girlfriend and members of her family.
"Today, the Devil won and claimed the soul of one young man and the lives of others, including the most innocent of all, a child," Pearce said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the four beautiful souls that are now in God's hands."—
Watch an 11-minute report about Pearce's connections to Ready that a Fox affiliated television station aired last year:
What's wrong with this picture?
Last year, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre claimed that President Obama has done nothing to restrict the rights of gun owners in his first term because of “a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country” in his second term in office. As the Washington Post reports, this campaign of deception has only gotten more subtle:
The Obama administration is crafting a proposal that could make it easier to export firearms and other weapons to certain countries in an effort to boost sales for U.S. companies, increase trade and improve national security, according to senior government officials. . . .
At least two federal agencies ? the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department ? have expressed concerns that the changes in the export rules could make it easier for drug cartels and terrorists to obtain weapons and make it harder to stop firearms trafficking.
In all seriousness, if the Obama Administration honestly believes that increasing U.S. gun sales abroad is a worthy way to stimulate the economy, than they have the authority to make that decision. No one in the administration should have any illusions, however, that they will somehow placate the gun lobby by providing this gift to the gun industry. Indeed, the NRA has already made perfectly clear that they will view any Obama Administration effort to extend an olive branch as a part of some kind of elaborate bait-and-switch campaign to lure firearm lovers into a complacency.
The Rev. Billy Graham announced his support for North Carolina’s discriminatory Amendment 1 on Wednesday, in what some characterized as an unusual endorsement. “Watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern,” he said. “I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected.” He added: “The Bible is clear ? God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment.” The measure, which goes before voters on May 8, would outlaw same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the state constitution.
by Bill McKibben, via TomDispatch
The Williams River was so languid and lovely last Saturday morning that it was almost impossible to imagine the violence with which it must have been running on August 28, 2011. And yet the evidence was all around: sand piled high on its banks, trees still scattered as if by a giant?s fist, and most obvious of all, a utilitarian temporary bridge where for 140 years a graceful covered bridge had spanned the water.
The YouTube video of that bridge crashing into the raging river was Vermont?s iconic image from its worst disaster in memory, the record flooding that followed Hurricane Irene?s rampage through the state in August 2011. It claimed dozens of lives, as it cut more than a billion-dollar swath of destruction across the eastern United States.
I watched it on TV in Washington just after emerging from jail, having been arrested at the White House during mass protests of the Keystone XL pipeline. Since Vermont?s my home, it took the theoretical — the ever more turbulent, erratic, and dangerous weather that the tar sands pipeline from Canada would help ensure — and made it all too concrete. It shook me bad.
And I?m not the only one.
New data released last month by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities show that a lot of Americans are growing far more concerned about climate change, precisely because they?re drawing the links between freaky weather, a climate kicked off-kilter by a fossil-fuel guzzling civilization, and their own lives. After a year with a record number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters, seven in ten Americans now believe that ?global warming is affecting the weather.? No less striking, 35% of the respondents reported that extreme weather had affected them personally in 2011. As Yale?s Anthony Laiserowitz told the New York Times, ?People are starting to connect the dots.?
Which is what we must do. As long as this remains one abstract problem in the long list of problems, we?ll never get to it. There will always be something going on each day that?s more important, including, if you?re facing flood or drought, the immediate danger.
But in reality, climate change is actually the biggest thing that?s going on every single day. If we could only see that pattern we?d have a fighting chance. It?s like one of those trompe l?oeil puzzles where you can only catch sight of the real picture by holding it a certain way. So this weekend we?ll be doing our best to hold our planet a certain way so that the most essential pattern is evident. At 350.org, we?re organizing a global day of action that?s all about dot-connecting; in fact, you can follow the action at climatedots.org.
The day will begin in the Marshall Islands of the far Pacific, where the sun first rises on our planet, and where locals will hold a daybreak underwater demonstration on their coral reef already threatened by rising seas. They?ll hold, in essence, a giant dot — and so will our friends in Bujumbura, Burundi, where March flooding destroyed 500 homes. In Dakar, Senegal, they?ll mark the tidal margins of recent storm surges. In Adelaide, Australia, activists will host a ?dry creek regatta? to highlight the spreading drought down under.
Pakistani farmers — some of the millions driven from their homes by unprecedented flooding over the last two years — will mark the day on the banks of the Indus; in Ayuthaya, Thailand, Buddhist monks will protest next to a temple destroyed by December?s epic deluges that also left the capital, Bangkok, awash.
Activists in Ulanbataar will focus on the ongoing effects of drought in Mongolia. In Daegu, South Korea, students will gather with bags of rice and umbrellas to connect the dots between climate change, heavy rains, and the damage caused to South Korea?s rice crop in recent years. In Amman, Jordan, Friends of the Earth Middle East will be forming a climate dot on the shores of the Dead Sea to draw attention to how climate-change-induced drought has been shrinking that sea.
In Herzliya, Israel, people will form a dot on the beach to stand in solidarity with island nations and coastal communities around the world that are feeling the impact of climate change. In newly freed Libya, students will hold a teach-in. In Oman, elders will explain how the weather along the Persian Gulf has shifted in their lifetimes. There will be actions in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, and in the highlands of Peru where drought has wrecked the lives of local farmers. In Monterrey, Mexico, they?ll recall last year?s floods that did nearly $2 billion in damage. In Chamonix, France, climbers will put a giant red dot on the melting glaciers of the Alps.
And across North America, as the sun moves westward, activists in Halifax, Canada, will ?swim for survival? across its bay to highlight rising sea levels, while high-school students in Nashville, Tennessee, will gather on a football field inundated by 2011?s historic killer floods.
In Portland, Oregon, city dwellers will hold an umbrella-decorating party to commemorate March?s record rains. In Bandelier, New Mexico, firefighters in full uniform will remember last year?s record forest fires and unveil the new solar panels on their fire station. In Miami, Manhattan, and Maui, citizens will line streets that scientists say will eventually be underwater. In the high Sierra, on one of the glaciers steadily melting away, protesters will unveil a giant banner with just two words, a quote from that classic of western children?s literature, The Wizard of Oz. ?I?m Melting? it will say, in letters three-stories high.
This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on. But — as with the tobacco industry before them — the evidence has simply gotten too strong.
Once you saw enough people die of lung cancer, you made the connection. The situation is the same today. Now, it?s not just the scientists and the insurance industry; it?s your neighbors. Even pleasant weather starts to seem weird. Fifteen thousand U.S. temperature records were broken, mainly in the East and Midwest, in the month of March alone, as a completely unprecedented heat wave moved across the continent. Most people I met enjoyed the rare experience of wearing shorts in winter, but they were still shaking their heads. Something was clearly wrong and they knew it.
The one institution in our society that isn?t likely to be much help in spreading the news is… the news. Studies show our papers and TV channels paying ever less attention to our shifting climate. In fact, in 2011 ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox spent twice as much time discussing Donald Trump as global warming. Don?t expect representatives from Saturday?s Connect the Dots day to show up on Sunday?s talk shows. Over the last three years, those inside-the-Beltway extravaganzas have devoted 98 minutes total to the planet?s biggest challenge. Last year, in fact, all the Sunday talk shows spent exactly nine minutes of Sunday talking time on climate change — and here?s a shock: all of it was given over to Republican politicians in the great denial sweepstakes.
So here?s a prediction: next Sunday, no matter how big and beautiful the demonstrations may be that we?re mounting across the world, ?Face the Nation? and ?Meet the Press? won?t be connecting the dots. They?ll be gassing along about Newt Gingrich?s retirement from the presidential race or Mitt Romney?s coming nomination, and many of the commercials will come from oil companies lying about their environmental efforts. If we?re going to tell this story — and it?s the most important story of our time — we?re going to have to tell it ourselves.
This post was originally published at TomDispatch and was reprinted with permission.
Bill McKibben, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, is the founder of 350.org, which is coordinating Saturday?s Connect the Dots day. You can find the event nearest you by checking climatedots.org.
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If there ever was an example of following your passion, it has to be Lizz Winstead. In an industry that regularly relegates women to novelty acts, she has carved out a long and considerable career as a comedian. And she's done so without censoring her wit or her political ideology, even though managers told her that would be the death knell to her career.
Born the youngest in a conservative Catholic family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lizz bristled at the conventions and restrictions of her upbringing. She didn't know what she wanted to do, but she knew that it didn't involve getting married, having kids and moving to the suburbs. A natural performer, Lizz discovered her calling in college, when a friend suggested that she perform at an Open Mic night at a local comedy club. But her stand up found a real voice after the first Gulf War and her outrage at the political propaganda swirling around was only topped by her exasperation at the media. That led to the creation of The Daily Show, where they tweaked both politicians and the journalists who covered them by imitating them. Lizz was the Head Writer for The Daily Show, without any television experience. But even without a resume behind it, she changed the media landscape. And then she did it again, by co-founding Air America and the show Unfiltered with the wonderful Chuck D and a little radio newbie named Rachel Maddow.
All this and more are chronicled in her first book, Lizz Free or Die. Lizz has written essays covering her childhood, relationship with her church, her siblings, her parents, her dogs, friends, lovers, and bosses and the process of finding her way and her voice. It is funny, raw and always indomitably Lizz.
Lizz Free or Die will be released on May 10, but you can pre-order her book at indiebound now.
And best of all, Lizz Winstead is here to talk to us about her experiences and her book. Please join me in welcoming Lizz to C&L, and let's talk Lizz Free or Die.
The simple truth is that no one should lose their jobs based on their sexual identity or orientation, and the President?s executive order is the fastest and easiest way to prevent this discrimination.[...]
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