– Syria’s Bashar al Assad is running out of cash reserves as sanctions hollow-out Syria’s economy but violence in Syria’s capital continued — three members of the Syrian security services were were killed in and around Damascus on Tuesday and government forces launched attacks on civilian areas where U.N. monitors had just visited.
– Even as U.N. Security Council members balked at sending more observers to an apparent warzone, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said there was still a “possibility for the parties to implement a cessation of violence” and carry out his plan for a political solution. Meanwhile, Syria said it would refuse any U.N. monitors from so-called “Friends of Syria” countries.
– A new report from the Kabul-based think tank Afghan Analysts Network accused ISAF in Afghanistan of misleading the public by calling military operations “Afghan-led,” even in cases where NATO or U.S. forces are the only troops on the ground.
– The General Accountability Organization reports that cyberattacks on federal agences have risen 680 percent in six years.
– Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, now at Princeton University, said that talks between Iran and western powers showed a “positive trend” and opened the door to a “historic” deal to end the nuclear standoff.
– As South Sudan accused its northern counterpart of a continued bombing campaign, the African Union and China encouraged an end to the fighting and the U.N. Security Council considered a resolution on the issue.
– China has ramped up its campaign to clamp down on the Internet, “which has emerged as a virtual town square for exchanging information about the Bo Xilai scandal and the nation’s biggest political upheaval in years.”
– Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on Tuesday ordered the entire U.S. military to scour its training materials for anti-Islamic content after the Pentagon suspended a course for senior officers which was reported to contain derogatory material about Islam.
A slew of Democratic state legislators from around the country are resigning from ALEC. New Mexico state Senator George Munoz left the group last week. In South Carolina, Rep. Ted Vick left ALEC, saying it had “become too partisan and too extreme.” The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has said it will be targeting “bad Democrats” who continue to remain affiliated.
Recalled former State Senate President Russell Pearce (R-AZ) was grilled on his anti-immigration legislation at a U.S. Senate hearing yesterday, by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on the bill’s constitutionality.
Two Blue Dog Democratic House members lost their respective primaries last night. Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA) lost his reelection bid after serving nearly 10 years in the House. He was beat by Matt Cartwright, a personal injury lawyer. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) also lost last night to Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA). Both Critz and Altmire were incumbents, but had been redistricted into a single congressional district.
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney has told younger voters that they ?have to? vote for him in November, but a new nationwide survey shows that young voters disagree. President Obama holds an early 17 point advantage among voters ages 18 to 29, a key constituency that propelled Obama?s landslide victory in 2008.
Despite significant secret Super PAC spending against him, former coal mining CEO Tom Smith won yesterday’s Pennsylvania GOP senate primary and will face Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) this November. Former State Rep. Sam Rohrer finished second.
Senate Democrats rebuffed an attempt by Republicans last night to overturn new regulations ?designed to give unions quicker representation elections in their effort to organize more workplaces.? Republicans had sought to upend a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board making it easier for unions to organize. ?This rule gives workers the same rights that CEOs already enjoy ? nothing more and nothing less,? said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s austerity efforts are not having their intended effect: Britain has entered its second recession since the financial crisis of 2008. The country’s GDP fell a total of .5 percent in the last two quarters, adding more evidence to the argument that budget cuts and an eye aimed at deficits don’t work in times of economic difficulty.
And finally: Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson was very offended to learn that President Obama slow-jammed the news during his appearance on Jimmy Fallon?s show last night. ?I think it?s nutso,? she said. ?Right now,? said Carlson, ?a bunch of former presidents are, like, ?Huh? That?s what we do now when we?re president of the United States???
The Violence Against Women Act is up for reauthorization this year, and despite overwhelming bipartisan support the last two times it was renewed in 2000 and 2005, Republicans have expressed concerns over new provisions in the bill. Click on the graphic below for an abbreviated “timeline” of VAWA.
by Daniel J. Weiss
On April 13, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first carbon dioxide pollution limits for new coal fired power plants. This action launched a sixty day public comment period for the public to let EPA know that it supported the proposal.
Just ten days later, on April 24th, a broad coalition of clean air, labor and other progressive organizations delivered over 700,000 comments in favor of the proposal to EPA.
The groups delivered the comments to EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe:
?Setting strong limits on carbon pollution is not only critical to public health and the environment, but will also diminish the impacts of climate change and has broad public support as evidenced by numerous polls and the massive total of more than 735,000 comments submitted thus far in support of strong limits on carbon pollution.?
The comments expressed support for limits on carbon dioxide pollution from new and existing power plants.
These organizations, including the Center for American Progress Action Fund, plan to deliver ?an even larger number of public comments before the close of the 60-day public comment period, June 12, 2012.?
Big electricity and coal companies are spending millions of dollars against these public health safeguards. It is critical that EPA continue to hear from Americans that they support reducing carbon pollution from power plants.
Please submit a public comment to the EPA in support of strong carbon pollution rules, urging further action to clean up our air and thanking them for their proposed safeguards. Take action here for clean air.
Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Known to construct seemingly prosperous Potemkin villages for show on its southern border, North Korea also apparently mocks up missiles for military parades. That’s what two German missile experts conclude in a paper posted online by the blog Ams Control Wonk. Mounted atop mobile carriers with alleged Chinese roots, six large missiles — large enough to be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) — on display in Pyongyang carried six different model warheads. “(T)he observed variety of warhead designs only makes sense if the missile program is more show than real threat,” wrote Markus Schiller and Robert H. Schmucker. “For now, the ICBM presentation was nothing else than a nice dog and pony show.”
The United Kingdom is officially back in a recession, after seeing growth drop 0.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. But neither Prime Minister David Cameron nor Chancellor George Osborne are backing down from their Conservative government’s adoption of austerity measures.
“The solution to a debt crisis cannot be more debt,” Cameron said, after calling the latest growth numbers “very, very disappointing.” Cameron even bragged about his nation’s low interest rate on its debt. Osborne, meanwhile, said in a statement that “the one thing that would make the situation even worse would be to abandon our credible plan and deliberately add more borrowing and even more debt.”
Osborne predicted back in November that Britain would not experience a double dip recession. But with the implementation of his austerity plan, the UK is not only experiencing a worse recovery than the one following the Great Depression, but is doing worse than the rest of the Eurozone (despite the fact that the UK doesn’t face the monetary policy restrictions that the Euro nations face):
Of course, it’s not like the Eurozone, with it’s own set of austerity measures in Greece, Spain, and other nations, has fared well:
As the New York Times noted yesterday, austerity has fueled a backlash in Europe, causing the Dutch government to fall and the French to vote against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of their presidential election. Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic are all back in a recession. Yet the sort of budget cutting that led to these results is the same as that which Republicans want to bring to the U.S.
Last week, Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky sparked national outrage when he compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. In response to this indefensible statement, a large group of Notre Dame professors called for Jenky to either apologize to Obama or resign from the Catholic university’s board. As of this writing, 84 professors are listed as signatories to the letter:
As you will be aware, the Bishop Daniel Jenky, a member of Notre Dame?s Board of Fellows, has been widely quoted for a homily in which he described President Obama as ?seem[ing] intent on following a similar path? to Hitler and Stalin. Jenky?s comments demonstrate ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide and absence of judgment.
We accept that Jenky?s comments are protected by the First Amendment, but we find it profoundly offensive that a member of our beloved University?s highest authority, the Board of Fellows, should compare the president?s actions with those whose genocidal policies murdered tens of millions of people, including the specific targeting of Catholics, Jews and other minorities for their faith.
We request that you issue a statement on behalf of the University that will definitively distance Notre Dame from Jenky?s incendiary statement. Further, we feel that it would be in the best interest of Notre Dame if Jenky resigned from the University?s Board of Fellows if he is unwilling to renounce loudly and publicly this destructive analogy.
A public petition calling for Jenky to apologize has also received nearly 14,000 signatures. You can sign that petition here.
There is one huge risk when it comes to owning shares of high-growth companies. No one really knows how far or how close the company is to market saturation, so investors . . . → Read More: Why Netflix Could Keep Plunging
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Mitt Romney just set the record for weakest performance ever
by a presumptive GOP nominee. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)So Mitt Romney won five states last night, finally breaking the 50 percent mark in a primary and officially becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.
A Smart Politics review of Republican primary election data since 1972 finds that Mitt Romney's performances in Delaware and Pennsylvania mark the first time a GOP frontrunner has failed to reach the 60 percent mark in a contest conducted after his last major challenger dropped out of the race.That's not exactly shocking given Mitt Romney's electoral track record: he lost his 1994 Senate race by 17 points despite running in the best year for Republicans in generations, he didn't run for reelection as governor of Massachusetts because he would have lost, finished third in his 2008 presidential campaign (Mike Huckabee was second), and he managed to become the weakest major party presidential nominee on modern history.
It's no wonder that President Obama isn't exactly shaking in his boots.
(Click to enlarge.)
I recently finished Robert Frank's Richistan, which provided the inspiration for this one. If you aren't familiar with the book, it's about the hermetically-sealed reality inhabited by today's ultrarich. Trust me, it's even worse than you think. Frank is far too blithe about political corruption, but otherwise the book is a fascinating read. Some of the people described are real pieces of work.
I don't wish to impugn the many good philanthropists out there. I'm talking about the jerks who spend their lives making things difficult for ordinary people, the suddenly feel a pang of noblesse oblige to "do good." Like, maybe if Mr. Aristopants didn't fight environmental laws to reduce cancer-causing pollutants, his money wouldn't be needed so much by that children's cancer camp. It is, like so many things, a cycle of absurdity.
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