English language Wikiepdia goes dark in protest of SOPA and PIPASeveral major websites are going dark today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). We'll be highlighting some of those sites throughout the day.
Meanwhile, in the House, two sponsors of SOPA have withdrawn their support for the bill:
Amid online protests that include major websites like Wikipedia blacking out their sites, a few co-sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress are defecting.
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), originally a co-sponsor of the bill, pulled his name from the list of sponsors on Tuesday.
Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) also has plans to remove his name as a co-sponsor Wednesday. A spokesman for Terry told the Omaha World-Herald that Terry concluded SOPA as written isn't the solution after civil liberties groups and tech companies rose up against the bill.
Here at Daily Kos, you guys are really pouring on the action. This morning alone, more than 6,000 Kossacks have emailed their senators in opposition to PIPA. Please, keep the emails coming. The Senate is scheduled to hold its first vote on PIPA next week.
Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook John Mauldin January 16, 2012
The “Quarterly Review and Outlook” from Hoisington Investment Management is one of the most significant pieces that crosses my desk – I try and drop everything else as soon as possible. This quarter’s is no exception. The authors, Dr. Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington, get right down to brass tacks with their opening sentence: “As the U.S. economy enters 2012, the gross government debt-to-GDP ratio stands near 100%.” They cite an influential 2010 historical study of high-debt-level economies around the world, by Professors Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, that concluded that when a country’s gross government debt rises above 90% of GDP, “median growth rates fall by one . . . → Read More: Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook
Read The Full Article:
Maureen Dowd in the NYT asks the essential question about Romney: What if he flips back from his flops?
Bush 41 went from supporting Planned Parenthood to declaring at his first debate with Dukakis that abortion was a crime that might need penalties. Romney went from being a passionate supporter of abortion rights who appeared at a fund-raiser for Planned Parenthood and endorsed the legalization of RU-486 to being ?firmly pro-life.?
Many conservatives here don?t trust Romney to stay conservative if he becomes president. What if he began to think it?s his civic duty to cut the deficit by raising taxes, like Poppy? What if he flips back from his flops?Her point: You can't trust this guy. It's like marrying the guy you're having an affair with. (Et tu, Mrs. Gingriches.) What's to guarantee that he won't stray again the next time some pretty young thing (or interest group) catches his eye?
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During Monday night's South Carolina Republican debate, Rick Santorum told the audience what they wanted to hear about poverty -- that if you're poor in America, it's your own damn fault.
WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, the Obama administration has not specifically addressed high levels of joblessness and a 25 percent poverty rate in black America. They say they want to fix the economy for all, but given the crisis situation among a group of historically disadvantaged Americans, do you feel the time has come to take special steps to deal with the extraordinary level of poverty afflicting one race of America?
SANTORUM: It?s very interesting, if you look at a study that was done by the Brookings Institute back in 2009, they determined that if Americans do three things, they can avoid poverty. Three things. Work, graduate from high school, and get married before you have children. Those three things?
SANTORUM: Those three things, if you do, according to Brookings, results in only 2 percent of people who do all those things ending up in poverty, and 77 percent above the national average in income.
After which, he might as well have added: "USA! USA! USA!"
Yes. The Brookings paper did include that about poverty. But it also included discussions of the following:
Easy to see why Santorum left this stuff out. Since he's laughably claimed that there are no classes in America, he absolutely doesn't want to touch any of this with a ten-foot pole -- especially the last point, since to Republicans, the concentration of wealth at the top is a feature, not a bug.
But I wish Williams would've asked Santorum two simple follow-up questions: why did poverty increase when Republicans were running the country during the 2000s--and why are the most conservative states also the poorest?
Defying 50 years of precedent set by presidential candidates from both parties, Mitt Romney has so far refused to release his income tax returns, despite calls from the other GOP candidates to do so. Yesterday, he admitted that his effective tax rate is probably about 15 percent — much lower than that of many middle-class families — and said he will probably release his returns in April if he wins the nomination, but only for 2011, which could allow him to hide any embarrassing tax shelters or income sources from previous years.
Now it seems even Romney’s supporters are uncomfortable with his evasiveness on his tax returns. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), one of Romney’s most prominent endorsers who has campaigned with the GOP hopeful on the trail, urged Romney to release his tax returns for several years back:
CHRISTIE: First of all, listen, the way I’ve conducted myself in public life all a long is I’ve released all of my tax returns. And I did it during the campaign. I went back a number of years and released my tax returns. And I released them every year after I filed them, right after I filed them to the public of New Jersey so they can see everything, and I think that’s the right way to go and that’s what I would tell governor to do.
He says he’s going to release them in April, and I hope he does. The fact of the matter is that’s what I would advise him to do…That’s the way I’ve conducted myself in public over time, and I were asked by governor Romney, that’s what I would urge him to do as well.
It’s worth noting that Romney’s father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News notes that it’s understandable why Romney is reluctant to release his returns: “Romney, one of the richest men to seek the presidency, probably benefits from a controversial tax break that allows him to pay a lower overall rate than do millions of American wage-earners.”
Over the decade since the attacks on September 11, the U.S. armed forces have signed more than 70,000 non-citizen recruits, and those recruits have stayed in longer than their citizen counterparts during a time when the military had trouble signing enough recruits and relaxed its standards to include more people.
According to CNA, which studied attrition data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, only 4 percent of non-citizens have been discharged within three months of entering active service, compared to 8.2 percent of ctizen enlistees. After three years, 16 percent of non-citizens have left before completing initial service oblications, while 28 percent of citizens have. And the gap increases at four years, with 32 percent of citizens having been discharged yet only 18 percent of non-citizens. And CNA analysts found that the results do not change when adjusted for age, demographic, or are broken out by branch of service:
?These findings are consistent with the anecdotal evidence we gathered in our interviews of recruiters and non-citizen recruits,? wrote researchers Molly F. McIntosh and Seema Sayala.
?The interviews revealed that, relative to citizen recruits, non-citizen recruits generally have a stronger attachment to serving the United States, which they now consider to be ?their country,? and (they) have a better work ethic.?
Because the lower attrition rate would help the military save on recruiting and training costs, the CNA report recommends that the military branches create strategies to recruit more non-citizens, especially as the economy improves and recruiting becomes more difficult. And with falling fertility rates in the U.S., ?the only source of net growth in the U.S. recruiting-age population is projected to be immigration,” according to CNA’s report.
Immigrants can enlist if they have legal permanent resident status, the education equialent to a high school diploma, and can speak acceptable English. And in July 2002, President George W. Bush signed an executive order to make any non-citizen recruit eligible for U.S. citizenship after one day of honorable service during a time of war. Without citizenship, members cannot gain security clearance, limiting the enlisted slots they can fill.
CNA’s statistics underscore what a key role immigrants have in the U.S. military. And while the report did not cover potential effects of the DREAM Act, it highlights how helpful the DREAM Act — which provides a path to lawful residence for undocumented immigrants who serve in the military — would have been for military recruiting by opening up a larger pool of qualified potential applicants. Rather than trying to discourage immigration or barring paths to citizenship for people who want to serve their adopted country, lawmakers and military officials should take this as an opportunitiy to only increase recruitment of immigrants and let them become U.S. citizens.
– Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin told an audience yesterday that military action against Iran “would be a very bad option.” Meanwhile, today, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking on Israel’s Army Radio, downplayed the likelihood of an imminent Israeli unilateral attack, saying “We haven’t made any decision to do this,” adding, “This entire thing is very far off.”
– Iran warned Saudi Arabia against boosting oil production to compensate for a potential drop in Iranian exports if they are hit by sanctions.
– As new crippling sanctions and a de facto near-embargo on Iranian oil put pressure on the Islamic Republic, the foreign minister said the country “would like to have these negotiations” toward resolving its nuclear crisis with the West.
– Violence in Iraq sharply increased after U.S. troops left one month ago in response to both the power vacuum left by departing forces but also a domestic political crisis as Shiite and Sunni leaders engage in a political power struggle.
– USA Today reports that “military commanders in Afghanistan have stopped making public the number of allied troops killed by Afghan soldiers and police, a measure of the trustworthiness of a force that is to take over security from U.S.-led forces.”
– Despite yesterday’s surge in violence in which at least 30 Syrian activists were killed, Russia’s foreign minister warned that Russia will block any move by the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions or military action against Syria’s government.
– Alongside an announced a move to force internet users to register with their real names, China continued its crackdown on human rights activists, arresting 58-year-old democracy advocate Zhu Yufu and charging him with subverting the state.
– The international humanitarian relief groups OxFam and Save the Children released a joint report detailing how the slow response to East African famine cost thousands of lives by ignoring early warning and lack of funds until the crisis flowered.
Fewer than one-tenth of the nation’s metropolitan areas have regained the jobs that were lost in the economic downturn, according to a new report from the United States Conference of Mayors. Mayors expressed frustration at Congress’ inaction on measures to help with the lingering economic crisis.
To protest two Internet-regulation bills, websites like Wikipedia, Reddit, and others have gone dark today to show what could happen if the House?s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate?s Protect IP Act went into effect. Both bills attempt to halt foreign websites that sell pirated or counterfeit goods, but tech companies say the laws are too burdensome and overreaching.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is vowing to push ahead with his controversial anti-piracy bill in the face of the protests. Smith dismissed the website blackouts as a ?publicity stunt? and said his committee would continue the markup of SOPA even though other GOP lawmakers have called the bill dead.
Sixty-five percent of voters who are aware of the Citizens United decision believe that unlimited campaign spending through Super PACs is negatively affecting elections, according to a new poll. The concern spans party lines, with 63 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans who are aware of Citizens United remaining critical of the third-party influence.
The National Science Board reported yesterday that in the past decade, the U.S. has lost more than a quarter of its high-tech manufacturing jobs to overseas operations. As American lawmakers seek to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive, they are being outpaced by Asian counties that have expanded their science and engineering capabilities.
President Obama yesterday tapped Jeffrey Zients to serve as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position vacated by Jack Lew, who is taking over as White House Chief of Staff. While having not worked on budget issues, Zients has written plans to restructure government agencies and prepared the contingency plan when Congress came close to shutting down the government last year.
While Wisconsin labor activists and Democrats scored a major victory yesterday by turning in 1 million signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R), the GOP successfully delayed action by winning a court order that requires state election authority to check for duplicate and fake signatures, which could take until late spring.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) failed to stop Virginia from printing ballots for its GOP presidential primary without his name after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. Fellow candidate Newt Gingrich, who also didn’t make the Virginia ballot, has filed an appeal with the same court.
And finally: In honor of her 90th birthday, President Obama sent a video message to actress Betty White and asked to see her long-form birth certificate, considering she appears in very good health for someone her age.
When the top U.S. military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, visits Israel this week, his interlocutors will advise him that Israel believes Iran has not made the decision to build a nuclear weapon, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. This would put the Israeli position in line with the latest reported U.S. intelligence estimate, which concluded last year that Iran hadn’t resumed a full-bore weapons program. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz will meet with Dempsey, who’s visit was scheduled for planning a now-canceled joint military exercise, amid rising regional tensions and reports that the U.S. warned Israel off an attack.
The Times Magazine’s profile of George Lucas is very interesting, particularly in its description of how his long-term girlfriend, Mellody Hobson, or as Al Sharpton calls her, “black America?s business princess,” has transmitted Lucas’s dedication to racial equality and channeled it more directly into politics, whether calling Obama a Jedi or showing up for the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. And it captures his determination to make Red Tails a truly black movie (he’s joked about Spike Lee making a prequel to it):
?They say, Now, who are you making this for??
?I?m making it for black teenagers.?…
?And you?re going to be very patriotic ? you?re making a black movie that?s patriotic??
?They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does,? Lucas said. ?And they have a right to have it kind of Hollywood-ized and aggrandized and made corny and wonderful just like anybody else does. Even if that?s not the fashion right now.? [...]
To execute his popcorn vision of ?Red Tails,? Lucas turned to Anthony Hemingway, a 36-year-old director who made his name on TV shows like ?The Wire.? Hemingway, who had never directed a feature film, comes from the church of David Simon, which values moral murkiness over na´vetÚ, documentary detail about East Baltimore over an ethnography of the Ewok village. It was like hiring a ?Hill Street Blues? veteran to direct ?Return of the Jedi.?
But from the beginning, Lucas wanted ?Red Tails? to have a black director. ?I thought, This is the proper way to do this,? he said. Indeed, to scan the credits in ?Red Tails? is to see Lucas?s fidelity to African-American filmmakers. There are two black writers and a black executive producer. Terence Blanchard, a Spike Lee collaborator (?Jungle Fever,? ?Malcolm X?), wrote the score, and Art Sims, another Lee veteran, designed the one-sheet.
I really hope Red Tails does well not simply to disprove the idea that black leads can’t open blockbusters or that black history is a niche genre. Lucas has said that this will be his last blockbuster. So if the movie makes bank, maybe Lucas could do for black artists what Tyler Perry hasn’t entirely done yet, and what Queen Latifah still might do: spread the wealth and give a financial springboard to projects that could be commercially viable if only they could find financing and support, and an imprimatur that would reassure distributors. The battle might be to get individual non-white (or for that matter, female) writers and directors credentialed and established. But the war is about getting a lot of them in the game.