Good Evening, tonight we are anticipating (as Boston Boomer calls it) the latest “best speech evah.” So be sure to check back because we will have a live blog going. The speech is scheduled for 8pm.
President Obama plans to announce Wednesday evening that he will order the withdrawal of 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan this year, and another 20,000 troops, the remainder of the 2009 “surge,” by the end of next summer, according to administration officials and diplomats briefed on the decision.
Well… I will just cover a few other news items, it looks like the NY same-sex marriage vote will happen tonight.
State legislative leaders said Wednesday afternoon there are no major obstacles to a vote on whether to legalize gay marriage.
Democrats and Republicans emerged from meetings with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and said there is progress toward proposed additional religious protections that could bring a gay marriage bill to the Senate floor for a vote as early as Wednesday night. No deal had been struck as of Wednesday afternoon.
More protection for religious organizations such as adoption agencies and marriage counselors is sought by undecided Republican senators who are key to the vote.
Currently, the Senate appears to be one vote shy of making New York the sixth state where gay marriage is legal. It’s viewed as a critical moment in the national gay rights movement.
I really hope this bill passes. We will keep you posted on the results of the vote.
Quiterella is at it again! Yes, the Palin woman has quit her explosive, cough…cough, bus tour. (Notice I did not use her full name, since she trademarked it..don’t want any infringement issues. I’ll just stick with Dak’s nickname for her.)
When Palin launched her “One Nation” bus tour on Memorial Day amid a swirl of media attention and excitement from her fervent fan base, many political observers who had once dismissed her were reminded of the jolt that her candidacy could provide to what has thus far been a relatively sleepy GOP nominating fight.
As Palin toured historical sites along the East Coast, she was clearly reveling in the tangible excitement she’d ginned up: She even eagerly answered questions — from the denizens of the “lamestream” media — ranging from matters of political process to an array of issues facing the nation.
Though Palin and her staff never announced a timeline for the remaining legs of her trip, aides had drafted preliminary itineraries that would have taken her through the Midwest and Southeast at some point this month. But those travel blueprints are now in limbo, RCP has learned, as Palin and her family have reverted to the friendly confines of summertime Alaska, where the skies are currently alight for over 19 hours a day and the Bristol Bay salmon fishing season is nearing its peak.
Talking Points Memo has a small article about it here:
I prefer Vanity Fair’s, take on this:
Just as inexplicably as it began, Sarah Palin’s secret publicity tour, “One Nation,” has summarily concluded. “Though Palin and her staff never announced a timeline for the remaining legs of her trip, aides had drafted preliminary itineraries that would have taken her through the Midwest and Southeast at some point this month. But those travel blueprints are now in limbo,” Real Clear Politics reports. That it’s allegedly the “peak” of salmon-fishing season in Alaska is the leading theory as to why she’s quit.
And so ends another thrilling chapter in the tale of Sarah Palin’s competing avarice and laziness. But what of her grotesque tour vehicle, an oversize, gas-guzzling bus slathered in Americana?
Juli Weiner then goes on to give some suggestions as to what SP can do with her bus. They are a bit on the anemic side, she should leave the comedy to Jon Stewart…
Good news from China:
Ai’s release after nearly three months’ detention was not directly confirmed by him or his immediate family on Wednesday. However, Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Beijing, was able to reach Ai and verify the news first-hand.
“He has confirmed that he has been freed – he’s at home,” our correspondent said.
Ai “said that he couldn’t tell us anything at all except that he can’t tell us anything”.
No surprise there, but at least he is back home. Xinhua news is reporting that Ai’s poor health was a factor in his release from prison. I am sure more news on his release will come out in the next few days.
Hey, this last link I have for you is from MoJo, and it seems my kids need to drop the blame game on Big Foot, and move it on over to illegal “aliens.”
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) took some heat this weekend for blaming wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico on illegal immigrants. McCain has since recanted (sort of), claiming that he was merely repeating what an unnamed Forest Service official told him in a briefing.
McCain’s comments are just the latest example of our country’s habit of blaming all manner of problems on immigrants. Let’s take a look at a few recent instances of illegal immigrants becoming scapegoats for… well, you name it:
- Car Accidents: Thank Arizona’s senior senator for this one, too. McCain told Bill O’Reilly (who else?) that Arizona’s highways were plagued by illegal immigrants who intentionally crash into other drivers. No word on how doing so could possibly be to their benefit.
- Swine Flu: Remember this? While everyone was running around buying face masks and speculating on Swine Flu’s origin, CNN’s Jack Cafferty suggested that illegal immigrants—not just anyone traveling from Mexico—might be at fault.
- The Mortgage Crisis: Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin argued that banks specifically targeted illegal immigrants for shady home loans, and when they couldn’t pay up… well, you know what happened.
- America’s Drug Problem: The majority of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico are “drug mules,” according to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
- Litter: Some officials think border crossers need to brush up on their “Leave No Trace” etiquette.
- California’s Budget Deficit: Forget about mismanagement and overspending: some argue that California ran out of money because of illegal immigrants, who used services like hospitals and schools without paying for them. (Actually, many undocumented immigrants pay taxes.) Immigrants had a friend in the Governator, though, who said they were an “easy scapegoat” and not the real source of the problem.
- Bad Traffic: The American Immigration Control Foundation ran ads accusing immigrants (illegal and otherwise) of worsening gridlock and pushing urban sprawl.
- Various Episodes of Violence: Something scary happened in your neighborhood and you can’t find the criminal? No problem! It was probably illegal immigrants (this rule applies internationally, too).
Yup, perhaps all those “alien” immigrants need to team up with all those “squatches” and run amok through the conservative heartland of America. Might as well throw a few “gays” in with the bunch so that they can really affect as much terror as possible…speaking of terror, put a towel around the head of a few of the Big Foots…and exploit the Muslim fear factor as well. (You know I jest with this paragraph…yes?)
See y’all later tonight!
Morning, news junkies.
Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…
Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:
This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”
That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.
Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.
Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…
- William and Kate are married. You can now call them Duke and Duchess. That’s all I’m going to cover on that.
Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words
- via the Columbia Missourian, PHOTO GALLERY: Tornado damage in Alabama. The photo of the woman carrying her clothes away while looking down at what used to be her home says so much, so simply. Also, via the Mobile Press-Register, Alabama tornadoes: Epic scenes of disaster across state (photos, video)
- In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a facebook page called “Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes” trying to help victims find their belongings. Here’s a CNN report on it.
“Depressing women’s history news of the week”
- via Historiann, Roe v. Wade lawyer Sarah Weddington to be fired from adjunct position at U. Texas. Way to not Hook ’em, Horns.
- Pro-choice, defined. This one is a real barn-burner, though it’s sad that in the year 2011, the pro-choice position has to be spelled out to both Republicans AND Democrats:
Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.
The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?
The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.
- Solidarity forever. WI State Journal/Capital Times… Fight Songs: Musicians take a stand to support Wisconsin protests, quoting RATM guitarist Tom Morello:
“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”
- The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.
- Sean Penn spotted at Foggy Bottom on Thursday. Rozen says one reason for his visit to the State Department might be his recent humanitarian work in Haiti.
- Hill pic of the week — Women in power pow-wow: Hillary and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa met on Friday:
When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn
- Via yahoo’s The Ticket, Condoleezza Rice fires back at ‘grumpy’ Donald Rumsfeld:
First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.
As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…
- This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):
You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.
- For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:
“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”
- In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says “what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”
The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China
- Friday was Another bloody day of rage in Syria (via Rozen/Envoy):
In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.
“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”
- Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum in NY, in a special to CNN about detained Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei: A dangerous mix of art and politics. See also FP’s slideshow on the detention of Weiwei and others.
- China’s DDoS attack on Change.org after petition backing Weiwei went viral; Stacy at SecyClintonBlog: “The silence from the administration is deafening.”
- Nick Kristof, Great Leap Backward. Teaser:
Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.
Timeout: Art break
- Did you know this much intricacy could be created by the art of creasing? Check out this slideshow of Simon Schubert’s folded paper artwork. There are some gorgeous interior pieces in there!
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