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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

Journal Archives

Christie Prepares to Name Senator as Candidates Line Up

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie prepared to name an interim replacement for the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, politicians began lining up to fill the remainder of his term.

U.S. Representative Rush Holt, a nuclear physicist and five-time winner of the TV game show “Jeopardy!,” became the first Democrat to declare a plan to run to finish Lautenberg’s term. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who had been preparing a bid before the senator’s death on June 3, is collecting signatures and will “make an official announcement at an appropriate date,” Kevin Griffis, a spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Christie, a 50-year-old Republican seeking a second term in November, set an Oct. 16 special election for the seat, with an Aug. 14 primary. He has said he would name an interim replacement by next week. He scheduled a 1:30 p.m. press conference in Trenton, without disclosing a topic. Several Republicans at the Statehouse said they expect him to announce his appointee.

Holt, in a statement on his website, asked for signatures by June 10 to qualify for the ballot. First elected to Congress in 1998, Holt was born in West Virginia and lives in Hopewell Township. His father was one of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate, at 29, while his mother served as secretary of state of West Virginia and was the first woman to hold that position, according to his website.



Erdogan Defies Turkey Protesters Saying Minority Can’t Rule

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused protesters across the country of violating laws and damaging state property, and said he won’t permit a minority to dominate.

“No right can be sought in violation of the law,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Tunis today, where he’s on the fourth day of a North Africa visit. He said people with “environmental sensitivities” who have protested against the redevelopment of a park in central Istanbul are being exploited by illegal groups, including terrorists.

Demonstrations spread nationwide after police attacked a rally in the park, near Istanbul’s Taksim Square, with tear gas and water cannons on May 31. Many protesters have called for the resignation of the Islamist-rooted Erdogan, saying he’s become too autocratic, and cite grievances including alleged police brutality and curbs on alcohol sales.

Before he left Turkey on June 3, Erdogan, who has won three successive elections with a growing share of the vote, dismissed the protests as the work of people unable to defeat him at the ballot box.

He echoed that language today. “We are against the dominance of the majority over a minority, and we would not accept the dominance of a minority over the majority either,” Erdogan said.



Syria Hails Qusair Capture as Foreshadowing Rebel Defeat

Source: Bloomberg

The Syrian governmment’s capture of al-Qusair is a “strategic turning point” marking the beginning of the end for the armed opposition, Syria’s premier said, as the army promised mercy for surrendering rebels.

Retaking the city opens the door “for successive victories across all Syrian territory,” Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi was quoted as saying by the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency today. Al-Qusair, which is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Homs and controls the road to the Lebanese border, was so severely shelled that not a single building is free of blast damage, according to a BBC reporter at the scene.

“The government won’t allow any group or gang or individual to point a gun at the head of the state or the people, and there will be no weapons on Syrian territory except for the weapons of the Syrian army,” al-Halaqi said.

While the rebels yesterday described their defeat at al-Qusair as only a single battle in the two-year war to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, they have suffered a series of reverses this year, losing ground near the cities of Aleppo and Damascus. Otaibah, to the east of the capital, fell after a 37-day battle, along with the southern town of Sanamein and Aziza in the north. Assad told Al Manar television on May 30 that the balance of power had shifted in favor of his army.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-06/syria-hails-qusair-capture-as-foreshadowing-rebel-defeat.html

Putin Endorses Permanent Russian Navy Presence in Mediterranean

President Vladimir Putin endorsed a plan by the Russian navy to keep a permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea, where the Syrian crisis is adding to the region’s instability.

Russia’s Mediterranean fleet of 16 ships will visit ports in Syria, which hosts the country’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union, during a mission that will include missile practise, commander Yuri Zemskoy told Putin via video link during a news conference in Moscow today.

“This is a strategically important region,” Putin said today at a meeting with military commanders. “We have our national interests here, linked to the need to maintain national security. Resuming a permanent Russian military naval presence in the Mediterranean sea isn’t saber rattling.”

Russia stepped up patrols in the Mediterranean in 2010 amid escalating unrest in Syria. In January, the country held its biggest naval maneuvers in the region in more than two decades. The defense ministry decided to make the fleet a standing force in March, the same month Putin ordered a large-scale unplanned exercise on the Black Sea involving 36 warships and almost 7,000 personnel.

The navy’s Mediterranean presence, becoming permanent in for first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, will be modeled on the Soviet fleet stationed in the region during the Cold War to balance U.S. deployment, according to the defense ministry. The force will draw on Russia’s Black Sea, Baltic and North Sea fleets.



$1 Trillion Debt Crushes Business Dreams of U.S. Students

Dr. Steve Sherick wants to build the emergency-care business he started two years ago that now employs seven doctors and two part-time administrators. The $300,000 in student loans he and his wife carry makes that prospect difficult, he said.

Sherick, 36, who contracts with a local hospital in Trinidad, Colorado, about 200 miles south of Denver, graduated in 2009 with about $140,000 of debt. That’s not counting the student loans of his wife, a pediatric oncologist, and their mortgage. He would like to hire a full-time administrator and offer more competitive salaries to entice doctors to work in the rural community.

“It deters an entrepreneurial spirit when you already start four steps behind the starting line,” said Sherick. “The student debt increases the risk for an entrepreneur like me and makes it harder to expand new business, get loans and thus hire new people.”

Former students hobbled by a collective $1 trillion in education loans can be hindered in expanding or forming small businesses and creating jobs for themselves and others. While self-employment among those 65 years old and over increased 24 percent in 2010 from 2005, it fell 19 percent among individuals 25 and under in the same period, according to the Small Business Administration.

“The burden of student debt probably places pretty big constraints on your viable options after graduation,” said Dane Stangler, director of research and policy at Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, which focuses on supporting entrepreneurship. “With more student debt and stricter bank lending, it really hinders the ability of students to take risks, start a company.”



Dept. of Homeland Security: Laptops, Phones Can Be Searched Based on Hunches

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — U.S. border agents should continue to be allowed to search a traveler’s laptop, cellphone or other electronic device and keep copies of any data on them based on no more than a hunch, according to an internal Homeland Security Department study. It contends limiting such searches would prevent the U.S. from detecting child pornographers or terrorists and expose the government to lawsuits.

The 23-page report, obtained by The Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, provides a rare glimpse of the Obama administration’s thinking on the long-standing but controversial practice of border agents and immigration officers searching and in some cases holding for weeks or months the digital devices of anyone trying to enter the U.S.

Since his election, President Barack Obama has taken an expansive view of legal authorities in the name of national security, asserting that he can order the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism without involvement by courts, investigate reporters as criminals and — in this case — read and copy the contents of computers carried by U.S. travelers without a good reason to suspect wrongdoing.

The DHS study, dated December 2011, said the border searches do not violate the First or Fourth amendments, which prohibit restrictions on speech and unreasonable searches and seizures. It specifically objected to a tougher standard in a 1986 government policy that allowed for only cursory review of a traveler’s documents.



NSA Is Collecting Phone Records Of Millions Of Verizon Customers Under Secret Court Order

By Joseph Menn and Sinead Carew

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency is collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon Communications customers, according to a secret court order obtained and published by the Guardian newspaper’s website.

The order marked “Top Secret” and issued by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court directs Verizon’s Business Network Services Inc and Verizon Business Services units to hand over electronic data including all calling records on an “ongoing, daily basis” until the order expires on July 19, 2013.

The order can be seen at: http://r.reuters.com/kap68t

Signed by Judge Roger Vinson at the request of the FBI, the order covers each phone number dialed by all customers and location and routing data, along with the duration and frequency of the calls, but not the contents of the communications.

The disclosure comes as the Obama administration is already under fire on other privacy and First Amendment issues. In particular, it is being criticized for a search of Associated Press journalists’ calling records and the emails of a Fox television reporter in leak inquiries.

Officials at the White House and the NSA declined immediate comment. Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden declined to comment.



COMMENT: No worries...it is 'our people' collecting the info. spit

OUCH! Michigan Gasoline Prices Close To Record High (mid-michigan $4.29)

Motorists are within a few pennies of paying more for gasoline than ever before in Michigan.

After another 10-to-15 cent spike today, Michigan’s average price for gas stands at $4.21 a gallon. The all-time record is $4.26 set back on May 3rd, 2011.

The higher pump prices are hurting everyone, including gas station owners.

“Quite frankly, gasoline has not been anything much more than a 'loss-leader' for most stations for a long period of time now,” explains Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Association of Convenience Stores, “They make their money off the in-store sales, not at the pump.”




Anti-Israel Statement From 2002 May Haunt Power’s UN Envoy Bid

Nominee called for aid money to be shifted to Palestinian state, large force deployed to protect against Israeli agression


A decade-old video of Samantha Power calling for the US to shift Israeli military aid to Ramallah and to deploy forces to protect Palestinians from IDF troops may prove a hurdle in the UN envoy nominee’s confirmation process.

Power, nominated Wednesday to replace Susan Rice as the US ambassador to the UN, has been an outspoken advocate of intervention to protect human rights, and in 2002 was asked to apply that stance to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then in the throes of the second intifada.

“It may more crucially mean sacrificing or investing I think more than sacrificing literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israeli’s military, but actually in investing in the new state of Palestine,” Power said during a talk at the University of California-Berkeley. “In investing billions of dollars it would probably take also to support I think what will have to be a mammoth a protection force.”

Power, then an academic at Harvard, also alluded to the fact that such a move would exact a political price from powerful Jewish voters in the US.

“Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” she said.



Rightwing hate radio spinners are squealing like 'stuck pigs' over this. Should be interesting to watch as it develops. IMO, she should be confirmed...post-haste!

After 46 Years Of Occupation, Land Confiscation Renders Israeli Law Obsolete

Since Israel occupied the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, it has continued to engage in legal acrobatics to confiscate Palestinian homes and land. In doing so, the state is actively erasing its internationally recognized border – the Green Line.

By Mairav Zonszein |Published June 5, 2013

One thing has become abundantly clear about Israeli policy when it comes to land: first it acts, only later giving its legal stamp of approval. This is essentially how the state was first established and built itself up, and is the story of how all settlements are born to this day in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Make your presence known on a piece of land for long enough, get a trailer, set up a makeshift synagogue, wait until the state provides electricity and water and it is only a matter of time before it is recognized, de facto or officially. The chances that a court will order that an outpost-turned-settlement be removed are very slim (and even slimmer that the state will enforce such a legal decision), as is evident from the half-a-million settlers who live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem today, and the 100 or so outposts that are considered illegal even under Israeli law.

Does it really matter, therefore, what the courts, the attorney general or the High Court of Justice have to say about it, one way or another. For on the one hand, they are committed to the ethics of law, but on the other hand, are bodies that serve a state which prioritizes Jewish rights in every aspect of life.


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