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

Journal Archives

Farmers Warn Of High Milk Prices Without Farm Bill

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Dairy farmers expressed frustration this week with Congress' failure to pass a farm bill, saying the uncertainty made it hard to do business and some could go under without changes to the federal milk program.

Farmers also worried that if a current nine-month extension of the 2008 farm bill expires with no action, a 64-year-old law will kick in, sending milk prices spiraling. While that might provide short-term profits, they say, it'd hurt them in the long run because no one wants to buy milk at $6 a gallon.

The U.S. House voted down a farm bill June 20, about a week after the Senate approved a different version. It was the second year in a row that the House failed to pass the every-five-years bill that sets funding for agriculture and food programs. Last year, it didn't even vote, prompting the passage in January of a slimmed-down extension of the 2008 law - largely to avoid milk prices sharply increasing.

The Agricultural Act of 1949 sets a much higher price for government purchases of cheese, butter and other dairy products than the U.S. has seen in decades. The government cut the price in recent decades because if it didn't, more companies would sell to the government than to retailers, unless consumer prices rose to match.



US Warns Americans On Travel To Egypt, Moves To Draw Down Embassy Presence Amid Unrest

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday warned Americans against all but essential travel to Egypt and moved to reduce the official U.S. presence in the country amid fears of widespread unrest.

Just hours after Egyptian officials said an American had been killed in clashes between government supporters and opponents in the city of Alexandria, the State Department said Americans should defer nonessential travel to Egypt, citing the uncertain security situation. It also said it would allow some nonessential staff and the families of personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to leave Egypt until conditions improve.

"Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012 and the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt's 25th January Revolution, is likely to continue in the near future due to unrest focused on the first anniversary of the president's assumption of office," it said. "Demonstrations have, on occasion, degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries and extensive property damage."

That move doesn't require anyone to depart but encourages them to go by allowing them to do so at government expense. Officials said dependents and nonessential staff could be ordered to leave if the situation deteriorates.

Read more: http://www.tribtown.com/view/story/2da2414603d4440387362bb1dc41380c/US--US-Egypt

DOJ: LA Sheriff's Dept. Unlawfully Targeted Blacks

Source: Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sheriff's deputies in two desert cities northeast of Los Angeles unlawfully targeted blacks living in public housing, subjecting them to unnecessary stops and seizures and using unnecessary force even when people were handcuffed, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday after a two-year investigation.

Federal authorities released the findings of a two-year investigation into the Sheriff's Department's Lancaster and Palmdale stations in Mojave Desert, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. The report was in response to complaints made by some minority residents who moved to the area and said they were met with discrimination by law enforcement and government officials.

The report found the nation's largest sheriff's department engaged in a "pattern of unreasonable force" and investigated only one misconduct complaint out of 180 made by residents over a one-year period. Despite the findings, federal officials were encouraged by the response from Sheriff Lee Baca.

"While our investigation showed significant problems in LASD's Antelope Valley stations, we are confident that we will be able to reach an agreement that will provide meaningful and sustainable reform," said Roy Austin Jr., deputy assistant attorney general.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_LA_SHERIFF_DISCRIMINATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-06-28-19-08-07

Sarah Murnaghan: Pennsylvania 10-Year-Old Had 2nd Lung Transplant After First Failed, Family Says

PHILADELPHIA - A 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who underwent a double-lung transplant amid a national debate over the organ allocation process received a second set of lungs after the first failed, and has now taken some breaths on her own, the girl's parents said Friday.

The first set of lungs failed within hours of the June 12 transplant at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Murnaghan was placed on machines, according to her mother. She was placed back on the lung transplant list the night after her surgery and received a second set of lungs on June 15.

"We were told ... that she was going to die," Janet Murnaghan said at a news conference Friday afternoon as she explained why Sarah's second transplant was not publicly disclosed. "We weren't prepared to live out her dying in public."

The suburban Philadelphia girl initially received lungs from an adult donor after her parents sued over national rules that place children behind adolescents and adults on the priority list for adult lungs -- even if the children are sicker and are capable of accepting adult organs.

Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/national/sarah-murnaghan-pennsylvania-10-year-old-had-2nd-lung-transplant-family-says#ixzz2XYaaB5k0

The Worst Rebuttal To The Apartheid Analogy (part II)

A blogger for Times of Israel has published a post titled “Israel is an Apartheid State.” As always, it got many people upset. Another blogger, Varda Epstein, posted a response which deserves “the worst argument on Israel/Palestine” of the month award (and strong candidate for the all-time record).

Before casually blaming ALL Arabs for “constantly and overwhelmingly [engaging] in acts of terror—not just in Israel, but all over the world” or discussing their habit of “decapitating 3 months-old infants” (seriously, it’s in the text), Epstein manages to get all her facts wrong in one paragraph:

Here is what Ms. Rachmany [the blogger who wrote the Apartheid piece] leaves out (in addition to mainstream definitions for the word that is the basis of her slander): Arabs who live in the West Bank are not Israeli citizens. This is because they have refused Israeli citizenship or have had an application for citizenship turned down because of say, ACTS OF TERROR. As such, these Arabs are not Israeli Arabs and therefore not entitled to use the Israeli court system.

Therefore, even if Ms. Rachmany’s definition of Apartheid, so hard to find in any standard dictionary, were true, it still does not describe the situation of Arabs who live over the Green Line. There is no discrimination against Arabs on the basis of race. There is nothing irrational about the set of legal recourses available to them. They made a choice: the Arabs. Not Israel.



Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James Cartwright Under Investigation For Alleged Stuxnet Leak

Source: Agence France-Presse

A former high-ranking US military officer is being probed for allegedly leaking details about a US cyberattack on Iran, a US media report said.

Citing unnamed legal sources, NBC News said retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright has been told he is under investigation for allegedly disclosing details about the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Cartwright, 63, is the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The four-star general retired from the military in August 2011.

Stuxnet, tailored specifically to target Iran’s uranium enrichment operation, struck Iran in 2010 and reportedly dealt a serious blow to its disputed nuclear program.



Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/28/retired-u-s-marine-gen-james-cartwright-under-investigation-for-alleged-stuxnet-leak/

Jordanians ‘Suspicious’ About U.S. Troop Movements

Jordanians are suspicious about US weapons and troops being deployed to the kingdom, even if Washington seeks to help its ally protect itself from a possible spillover of Syrian violence, experts say.

Worried about the security of Jordan, which is already struggling to cope with around 550,000 refugees from its war-torn northern neighbour, the United States has kept F-16 warplanes and Patriot missiles in the country since a joint military exercise ended on June 20.

A US defence official has told AFP that Washington has expanded its military presence in the country to 1,000 troops.

“Jordanians do not feel comfortable about the presence of US troops, weapons and equipment in the kingdom,” analyst Oraib Rintawi, who runs the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, told AFP.

“For Jordanians, the US military presence is linked to plots and conspiracies against their neighbours, which would impact the country itself.”



Why Are So Many College Graduates Driving Taxis?

By Peter Orszag - Jun 25, 2013

It’s a parent’s nightmare: shelling out big money for college, then seeing the graduate unable to land a job that requires high-level skills. This situation may be growing more common, unfortunately, because the demand for cognitive skills associated with higher education, after rising sharply until 2000, has since been in decline.

So concludes new research by economists Paul Beaudry and David Green of the University of British Columbia and Benjamin Sand of York University in Toronto. This reversal in demand has caused high-skilled workers to accept lower-level jobs, pushing lower-skilled people even further down the occupational ladder or out of work altogether. If the researchers are right (which is not yet clear), the consequences are huge and troubling -- and not just for college grads and their parents.

Let’s start with some basic facts. There have always been some graduates who wind up in jobs that don’t require a college degree. But the share seems to be growing. In 1970, only 1 in 100 taxi drivers and chauffeurs in the U.S. had a college degree, according to an analysis of labor statistics by Ohio University’s Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart and Jonathan Robe. Today, 15 of 100 do.

It’s hard to believe this is because the skill required to drive a taxi has risen substantially since 1970. If anything, GPS technology may have had the opposite effect. (Acquiring “the knowledge” of London streets, as taxi drivers there are required to do, is cognitively challenging, but it may no longer be necessary.)

Educated Firefighters

Similarly, in 1970, only about 2 percent of firefighters had a college degree, compared with more than 15 percent now, Vedder and his colleagues found. And, according to research by economists Paul Harrington and Andrew Sum of Northeastern University, about 1 in 4 bartenders has some sort of degree.



From Gay Marriage to Immigration: A Week That Will Shake the GOP

For the past few years, the salient thing about the GOP is that it has been almost entirely inwardly directed. Republicans have fixated on a handful of parochial issues—debt, deficits, the burdens of the entrepreneur, and the looming menace of Obamacare—to the exclusion of almost everything else. When something else did intrude, it was shoehorned to fit this narrow set of concerns. That’s how the theme of the GOP convention wound up being noisy grievance over Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment, and why the Romney campaign’s minority-voter strategy was insisting to reporters that blacks and Hispanics cared about debt and deficits, too, and were in fact faring worse in the recession than whites.

This wasn’t an effective strategy. But neither was it actively destructive. Often, the combination of passivity and pro forma opposition to the Obama agenda made Republicans seem like bystanders to national affairs.

One way of looking at this week’s momentous events in Washington—from the Supreme Court’s rulings to the Senate’s passage of immigration reform—is as a force that will push the GOP to engage on a set of issues central to American life. The decisions the party makes will go a long way toward determining its future electoral fate.

The court’s ruling on Tuesday striking down the central provision of the Voting Rights Act means minority-voter enfranchisement will become even more of a hot-button issue. On its face, the ruling is a victory for Republicans, especially those who have pushed state voter-ID laws and other methods to limit access to the polls, but were blocked by the Department of Justice. Sure enough, Texas officials have already announced they will immediately enact a voter-ID law that was blocked before the last election. But as I’ve argued, this victory will be a poisoned chalice for the GOP if the stampede to impose new restrictions offends the minority voters most affected by these laws—who, after all, are the people Republicans desperately need to attract.



Get Ready For More GOP Race-Baiting

Forget creating a big tent. Some Republicans want their party to simply try to win more white votes.

by Michael Tomasky Jun 28, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

The situation is this. The immigration reform bill passed the Senate yesterday. It will now go to the House. A few weeks ago, as I read things, there were occasional and tepid signals that the House would not take up the Senate bill. Now, by contrast, those signals are frequent and full-throated. For example, yesterday Peter Roskam, a deputy GOP whip in the House, said this: “It is a pipe dream to think that [the Senate] bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on. The House is going to move through in a more deliberative process.”

“Deliberative process” probably means, in this case, killing the legislation. House conservatives, National Journal reports, are increasingly bullish on the idea that they may be able to persuade John Boehner to drop the whole thing.

Last December, such an outcome was supposed to mean disaster for the Republicans. But now, some say the opposite. Phyllis Schlafly and talk-radio opponents of the bill like Laura Ingraham have been saying for a while now that the party doesn’t need Latino votes, it just needs to build up the white vote. And now, they have the social science to prove it, or the “social science” to “prove” it.

Sean Trende, the conservative movement’s heavily asterisked answer to Nate Silver (that is to say, Silver got everything right, and Trende got everything wrong), came out with an analysis this week, headlined “Does GOP Have to Pass Immigration Reform?,” showing that by golly no, it doesn’t. You can jump over there yourself and study all his charts and graphs, but the long and short of it is something like this. Black turnout and Democratic support have both been unusually high in the last two elections, which is true; Democrats have been steadily losing white voters, which is also true; if you move black turnout back down to 2004-ish levels and bump up GOP margins among whites (by what strikes me as a wildly optimistic amount), you reach White Valhalla. Somehow or another, under Trende’s “racial polarization scenario,” it’ll be 2044 before the Democrats again capture 270 electoral votes. Thus is the heat of Schlafly’s rhetoric cooled and given fresh substance via the dispassionate tools of statistics.


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