Evening Reads: Sport and Bullying the Sea

Good Evening Y’all!

Tonight will be a post full of links…or as Wonk the Vote calls it…a Link Dump.

I want to first update you on Syria.

Syria puts stress on US-Russia ties on eve of Obama-Putin talks

An escalating crisis in Syria, echoing with Cold War-style recriminations, has badly frayed U.S.-Russian relations at a delicate time, just as U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin try to renew their relationship.

U.S. charges that Russia is arming the Syrian government as it attacks its opponents with lethal force, and Moscow’s blocking of tougher action against Damascus, appear to indicate that tough times are ahead for Putin’s relationship with Obama and, perhaps, his successor.

The fiercely nationalist Putin, who re-assumed the Russian presidency last month, is due to meet Obama at a G20 summit in Mexico early next week, their first encounter in three years. There is growing skepticism the two men can find common ground on Syria or other festering disputes.

Festering indeed…

There is an earlier article about Syria that is a bit frightening, Russia-America tussle over Syria evokes Cold War. See what I mean, the whole Russian-Nukes US-Nukes thing was something I grew up with…

The world could slip back into a Cold War over Syria and the sprawling Arab country could break up into two or three warring parts, with unforeseeable consequences for the Middle East, a senior Israeli military commander said.

“Support for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad from Russia and China is taking us back to the Cold War,” he said this week, on condition of anonymity. “The world is not a one-man show.”

A regional proxy war is already under way in Syria, he said, with direct, daily, on-the-ground support for Assad from his allies in Iran and Lebanon’s heavily-armed Hezbollah movement.

“There can be real chaos. It can take years,” he said.

Okay, so it is an Israeli Military Commander making that statement, but I have to admit…I thought about the possibility of Russia becoming more like the Russia most of us grew up with, and it is not just the situation with Syria that makes me concerned. Putin is really bringing back that old Back in the USSR feeling.

This next article was interesting,  How Russian and Chinese media justify Syrian support.

As Russia and China remain steadfast in their refusal to back UN resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad, the BBC news website looks at media coverage of the Syria conflict in both countries and whether broadcasters tend to justify this stance.

Please go to the link and check that out.

John Edwards had a shit eating grin on his face this afternoon:  John Edwards Charges Dismissed – NYTimes.com

And it looks like Lance Armstrong is in deep shit: U.S. Anti-Doping Agency brings charges against Lance Armstrong – latimes.com

In the world of predator pedophiles: Jerry Sandusky Trial, Day Three: The Defense Gets Steamrolled – The Daily Beast

There is also news about a child pornography bust: Erika Susan Perdue, Texas Socialite, Faces Child Porn Charges

Yuk, I am glad those links are out-of-the-way.

Let’s move on to the bullies in today’s headlines.  We have a state that is trying to bully the ocean, by passing laws that make anyone with half a brain laugh like hell!

North Carolina Lawmakers Legislate Sea Level Rise – Truthdig

State senators in North Carolina passed a measure Tuesday in open defiance of the laws of nature, making it illegal to take into account events such as melting polar ice caps when forecasting the rate of ocean level rise along the state’s 300 miles of vulnerable, tourist-saturated coast.

Which of course means I have to post this link to a Colbert episode. The Word – Sink or Swim – The Colbert Report – 2012-04-06 – Video Clip | Comedy Central

In other “bully” news, I thought this was symbolic…considering that Romney was a bully to “gay” students at his high school.

Former governor Mitt Romney’s administration in 2006 blocked publication of a state antibullying guide for Massachusetts public schools because officials objected to use of the terms “bisexual’’ and “transgender’’ in passages about protecting certain students from harassment, according to state records and interviews with current and former state officials.

Romney aides said publicly at the time that publication of the guide had been delayed because it was a lengthy document that required further review. But an e-mail authored in May of that year by a high-ranking Department of Public Health official – and obtained last week by the Globe through a public records request – reflected a different reason.

“Because this is using the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgendered,’ DPH’s name may not be used in this publication,’’ wrote the official, Alda Rego-Weathers, then the deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Because the Department of Public Health was the primary sponsor and funding source of the guide, the move effectively blocked its publication. Rego-Weathers said in the e-mail that she had been consulting with Romney’s office on the issue.

Stifling the guide’s publication was among steps that Romney and his aides took during his last year in office to distance the Republican governor from state programs designed to specifically support gays, lesbians, and bisexual and transgender people. His critics said it was part of an effort to court social conservatives as he prepared for his first campaign for president in 2008.


In a highly publicized incident in May 2006, Romney threatened to shut down the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth because it issued a press release with his name on it promoting a parade to celebrate gay, bisexual, and transgender teens. He quickly backed off the threat. In July 2006, Romney vetoed a $158,000 budget line item that was earmarked for counseling violence victims in the “LGBT community.’’ The appropriation was intended to prevent sexual violence and rape, and also for suicide prevention.

The move to block the bullying report immediately followed Romney’s threat to shut down the Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission. On May 20, 2006, the commission chairwoman, Kathleen Henry, e-mailed Rego-Weathers to say that “she had heard from the lead’’ on the antibullying guide project that “the plan is to go to print next week on the authority of the lieutenant governor.’’

Rego-Weathers e-mailed a subordinate the same day raising the objections to “bisexual’’ and “transgender’’ references. “I have raised this issue with the governor’s office and am awaiting final clearance,’’ she wrote. “If the printing must go on, I may have to ask that our name be taken off.’’

And if that isn’t enough “shit Romney’s done” news for you, check this link out: Romney Touts Presidential Salary Plan That Was Literally A Saturday Night Live Skit | ThinkProgress

Mitt Romney floated an unusual profit-making opportunity for himself if he becomes president — paying himself a higher salary if he performs well in the White House. In Romney’s words, “I do believe in linking my incentives and my commitment to the accomplishment of specific goals . . . . I wish we had that happen throughout government — where people recognized they are not going to get rewarded in substantial ways unless they are able to achieve the objectives that they were elected to carry out.”

If it sounds familiar, you may have seen this SNL skit back when Ross Perot was running for President.

This is not a new proposal, however. It was actually proposed in 1992 by billionaire presidential candidate Ross Perot — or at least by someone pretending to be Perot. In a 1992 Saturday Night Live skit, Perot impersonator Dana Carvey outlined something very similar to the Romney plan for presidential compensation:

If I’m President, we get 0% growth, you don’t pay me nothing. 1% growth? Hell, a chimpanzee could run this country and make 1% growth! So you don’t pay me dime one. Got my own plane, don’t need Air Force One. State Dinners? I’ll pay it, it’s nothing to me, sand on the beach! Now, don’t worry about ol’ Ross Perot, I got $3 billion back at home.

Now, here’s the deal. Here’s what I’m trying to tell you. 3% growth in our economy, $120 billion growth in our GNP – I get a billion dollars. Now, think about it, that’s a bargain! You’re up $119 billion. I’m telling you, 2.99% growth, I don’t see a penny, not one red cent. But don’t feel sorry for me – I got $3 billion. I’m gonna be fine.

Now, this here’s a business proposition. Now, see, 4% growth, you pay me $20 billion. The way I see it, you’re ahead $140 billion, see? Now, this ain’t no golden parachute, this isn’t the President GM giving himself a big bonus when the company’s losing money sending jobs to Mexico. I get my money if and when you get yours.

Now, 5% growth, I get $50 billion. Everybody’s happy, see?

This next bully is from JP Morgan, I will just post the link to the article: JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon faces down Senate critics – as it happened | Business | guardian.co.uk

Here is another bit of news you need to read as well: Court filing: George Zimmerman said ‘hell no’ to using PayPal cash for bond | theGrio

And lastly, Tennessee Guerilla Women: Hillary Launches State Department’s Women in Public Service Institute

There is a great photo of Hillary at that link by the way.

That is it, have a great evening…

Breaking News: Jury Reaches Verdict in John Edwards Trial

Well, the time has come…

Verdict Reached In John Edwards Trial | TPM Livewire

Jurors have reached a verdict in the John Edwards trial, NBC News reports. The verdict is expected to be announced in about 10 minutes. For an overview of the major trial figures, head here.

We will post the verdict shortly…See below for updates!

Here are a few links for you:

Edwards jurors reach verdict on 9th day of deliberations – CNN.com

John Edwards trial verdict – US politics live | World news | guardian.co.uk

John Edwards arrives at the federal courthouse in Greensboro

John Edwards at the federal courthouse for jury deliberations in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photograph: John Adkisson/Reuters

2.50pm:John Edwards verdict: a unanimous verdict has been reached on only one count – count three apparently – of illegal campaign contributions related to John Edwards supporter Bunny Mellon.

It appears that the jury has been sent back to the court jury room for further deliberation on other counts, although Fox News is reporting “Jury deadlocked on most counts”.

What all this means will become clear soon. We hope.

Jury only unanimous on one charge in John Edwards case – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] The prosecution has asked for the jury to go back in the jury room to deliberate. The defense has asked for a mistrial on the remaining counts.

The judge is taking a five minute recess on the matter. The judge has the option to issue an “Allen charge,” which is essentially a request from the court for the jury to go back into deliberations and try again to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts.

Monday Evening Reads: Bill Clinton’s Advice, Romney and Rubio, George Zimmerman, and Stupid Republicans

Good Evening! It hasn’t been a particularly busy news day, but I have a few updates for you tonight.

According to Politico, the Obama campaign is changing it’s attacks on Mitt Romney based on some suggestions from Bill Clinton. The original approach was to paint Romney as a man without a moral or ideological “core.” Clinton, according to Politico argued that it would be better to focus on

Romney’s description of himself as a “severe conservative,” to deny him any chance to tack back to the center, according to three Democrats close to the situation.

“[Clinton] said he thought Romney’s positions on the issues would ultimately be the best way to attack him,” said a Democrat briefed on the details of an amiable Nov. 9 meeting in Clinton’s Harlem office that included Axelrod, Democratic National Committee Executive Director Patrick Gaspard and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.

“That’s what we are doing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t do the etch-a-sketch, flip-flop moments when they occur and we will,” added the operative — who says Obama’s campaign likely would have emphasized Romney’s conservative tilt once the primary was over, anyway.

But Clinton’s advice, buttressed by Benenson’s polling, has clearly gained traction internally since the end of Romney’s four-month primary ordeal.

Well, I can’t imagine a more expert political consultant than Bill Clinton, can you?

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the number of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico has been falling because of the lack of jobs in the U.S. NY Daily News:

Roughly 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center study released Monday. It was the biggest sustained drop in modern history, believed to be surpassed in scale only by losses in the Mexican-born U.S. population during the Great Depression.

Much of the drop in illegal immigrants is due to the persistently weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction and service-sector jobs attractive to Mexican workers following the housing bust. But increased deportations, heightened U.S. patrols and violence along the border also have played a role, as well as demographic changes, such as Mexico’s declining birth rate.

In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year — legal and illegal — fell to 12 million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s, when foreign-born residents from Mexico stood at 760,000. The 2007 peak was 12.6 million.

The New York and Pennsylvania primaries will be held tomorrow, but there isn’t much excitement about them anymore. Other states voting tomorrow are Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

In Pennsylvania, Romney was campaigning with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Without overshadowing Romney, Rubio on Monday hammered home the former Massachusetts governor’s position on Iran and helped Romney attack President Barack Obama’s energy policy.

In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters, Romney said he’d consider Rubio’s immigration proposal to find a way to allow young people who came to the country illegally as children to stay here if they’re in school or the military.

It sounds like the Obama campaign should get busy pinning Romney down on the cruel immigration policy he has been pushing throughout the primaries.

Romney also tried to appeal to younger voters by joining Obama in backing a bill to prevent doubling of student loan interest rates.

ASTON, Pa. — As the White House ramps up its push to woo young voters by urging Congress to head off a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney struck back Monday, throwing his support behind an extension of the current rates at a campaign event outside Philadelphia.

The former Massachusetts governor made the announcement at a press availability with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the first joint appearance of Romney and the Florida Republican whose name is often floated as a top choice for his running mate.

“There’s one thing that I wanted to mention, that I forgot to mention at the very beginning, and that was that particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said at the end of a seven-minute joint news conference with Rubio.

I have a few updates on the Trayvon Martin case. At one minute after midnight, George Zimmerman was let out of jail after posting bail. He will be going to a undisclosed location, reportedly outside of Florida.

Wherever George Zimmerman went after he was released on bond from a Florida jail, a sensitive GPS device will pinpoint his location for authorities and alert them if he drifts even a few feet away from where he is allowed.

Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went into hiding Monday as he awaits trial. He must pay an $8-a-day fee to use the device, which is generally used to track people charged in domestic violence cases.

George Zimmerman leaves Seminole County Jail with unidentified man

According to the WaPo,

Local LA Bail Bonds companies whose clients have worn the same device used to pinpoint Zimmerman said it is highly sensitive and can send messages to authorities in real-time….

Seminole County Sheriff’s officials are offering few details on how Zimmerman will be specifically monitored, other than to say the device he is wearing has the same 24/7 capabilities it uses to track accused domestic violence offenders. Zimmerman may be residing outside of Florida for safety reasons.

The monitoring program has been in use since 2003 in Seminole and provides “real-time monitoring of an offender’s movements and is capable of monitoring anywhere in the U.S.,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Later this morning, Sanford, FL police chief Bill Lee, who has been on leave with pay, submitted his final resignation; but the move was rejected by the Sanford city commissioners at a hastily-called meeting.

Earlier Monday, the city announced in a statement that a separation agreement had been reached with Lee to resign. If it was approved by the City Commission, it would have taken effect at midnight.

But by a 3-2 vote, the commission opted not to accept the proposed deal, which would have permanently dismissed Lee from the job and given him a severance package. Two commissioners had questioned the fairness of Lee losing his job, while Mayor Jeff Triplett said he preferred to wait possibly several months for the results of an investigation into Lee and his department….

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s family, criticized the commission for not letting Lee step down.

“Sanford residents deserve quality leadership in law enforcement who will handle investigations fairly for all people,” he said. “If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward.”

Sanford City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte had supported the resignation.

Benjamin Crump also criticized George Zimmerman and his defense attorneys over a photo of Zimmerman’s head with two small cuts with blood coming out of them.

An attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family believes their son’s shooter is lying about injuries he sustained the night he killed the unarmed 17-year-old.

“If this is any indication of what’s to come, then the lying has already begun,” attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Sunday, while promoting a documentary at the Florida Film Festival on another case….

“When you look at those pictures and you see those two little cuts on his head, that is not consistent with your head being pounded into the pavement,” said Crump. “Objective evidence, evidence we can see and touch, is more important than whatever George Zimmerman says because we have to remember Trayvon Martin isn’t here to tell us his version of what happened.”

Crump pointed to the 911 call where someone is heard screaming before the fatal gunshot.

Democrats in Congress have been pushing for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, but Texas Sen. John Cornyn says that Democrats are just trying to ‘score cheap political points.’ with their efforts to renew the bill.

Republicans oppose the current reauthorization bill because it would allow battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas, and expand protections to same sex couples and Native American tribes.

All eight Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against renewing the law and Democrats were quick to denounce them, linking their opposition to the bill to the so-called “war on women.”

“The law was enacted to protect and serve the interests of crime victims, not to help a political party fire up its base,” Cornyn continue. “Moreover, to argue that a minor policy disagreement indicates a lack of sensitivity toward battered women is simply beyond the pale.”

In Missouri, a Republican woman who is running for the senate against current Sen. Claire McCaskill says she is “not sure” what the Violence Against Women Act is.

Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican now hoping to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said recently that she was unfamiliar with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the landmark anti-domestic violence legislation whose re-authorization is now stalled in the Senate….

A video released today by the Missouri Democratic Party shows a man asking Steelman about VAWA at a campaign event. Steelman replies, “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now.” He asks again, “you haven’t really heard about it?” And she confirms, “no, not really.”

The John Edwards trial has been getting a lot of attention today too. Chris Cillizza calls it a “final public flogging.”

What stories have you been following today?

Friday Evening Reads Open Thread: Racism, Alive and Well in Union County Georgia

Good “Friday the 13th” Evening!

As many of you know…I joke about the little part of backwoods North Georgia Mountains that I call home. My little Banjoland and especially Banjoville is a play on words, the town and county I live in is called, Blairsville, Union County Georgia. Some will tell you it is called Union because it sided against the Confederacy during the civil war. Uh, they are full of shite!  Union County was named for the Union Party, which was a group of people who supported the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians so that white settlers could move in. Union has had its share of slave holders, and Joseph E. Brown…the Governor of Georgia during the Civil War grew up here. This little redneck of the woods doesn’t have the distinction of being listed in the Southern Poverty Law website, like its neighboring counties…where the weekly cross burning and white hoods can still be found.

I bring all this up because my lovely town of Blairsville is in the news…

North GA school district to hold class on MLK Day

Students in Union County have one snow day to make up for the school year, and they will use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to do it.

A member of King’s family, however, says the move insensitive.

Union County superintendent Gary Steppe said January 16th is the only day for students to make up the absence. Days must be made up before April’s CRCT testing, he said, and Martin Luther King day and spring break are the only opportunities.

The man is great with the excuses for our county school making up snow days on MLK Day. Every year the kids have a snow make up day on Dr. King’s holiday.

He said he has directed teachers to incorporate Dr. King into their lessons that day.

“We’ve talked about things like reading books at the primary school, stories about Dr. Martin Luther King,” he said. “Also, writing essays, things like comparing the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to the preamble of the Constitution.”

My kids have pointed out that this is a load of B.S. (Actually their word for it was bullshit.) They say they never talk about MLK on MLK Day. Sounds to me like the superintendent “directs” his teachers to incorporate Dr. King in their lessons…wink…wink. (You get what I am saying…yes?)

But, all this doesn’t fool the black community:

Dr. King’s nephew and SCLC president Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. said those are days they should be using anyway.

“To single out a holiday that’s celebrated on one day, versus all these other days, multiple days when you’re off — it just does not fit the smell test to me.”

Steppe said the move is not intended to disrespect Dr. King in any way.

“He was a great Georgian and a great American and we certainly support his ideals,” he said. “We certainly intend no disrespect to Dr. King. But we also believe it’s our mission to be sure we get the best possible education in.”

During last year’s heavy snowstorms, at least one Georgia district gained national attention when civil rights leaders blasted the decision to use the holiday as a make-up day.

So, once again the holiday will come and go, but the racism remains.  You will probably find the Union County Courthouse open on Monday as well…but you can bet your ass it is closed in April for Confederate Day.

Speaking of MLK, Report: Quote on MLK Memorial Will Be Changed – ABC News

A quote carved in stone on the new Martin Luther King memorial in Washington will be changed after the inscription was criticized for not accurately reflecting the civil rights leader’s words.

The Washington Post first reported on Friday the decision to change the inscription, which currently reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” The phrase is chiseled into one side of a massive block of granite that includes King’s likeness emerging from the stone. It became a point of controversy after the memorial opened in August.

The phrase is modified from a sermon known as the “Drum Major Instinct,” in which the 39-year-old King explained to his Atlanta congregation how he would like to be remembered at his funeral. He made the February 1968 speech just two months before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.

In the speech, King’s words seem more modest than the paraphrased inscription: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Poet Maya Angelou previously said the truncated version made King sound like “an arrogant twit” because it was out of context.

I am glad they are going to come up with a more “acceptable” form of the quote, per US Dept of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

And since this is an open thread, I wanted to add one more link…that seems like a spectacular coincidence.

John Edwards’ ‘serious’ medical condition leads to trial delay – latimes.com

A cardiologist for former presidential candidate John Edwards says he has a life-threatening medical condition that will require surgery next month, a federal judge disclosed Friday as she postponed Edwards’ campaign corruption trial for at least two months.

Saying the 58-year-old Edwards suffers from “a serious condition,” U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles delayed the trial until at least March 26. The judge said she had read two letters from Edwards’ cardiologist but she did not disclose details about the former senator’s condition.

Eagles quoted the cardiologist as saying that Edwards’ condition is treatable, with a good chance of recovery. She said the doctor recommended that Edwards avoid driving or traveling.

I guess I am skeptical…and jaded towards Edwards. It seems to me that Edwards is just like the Union County School superintendent, using a snow make up day…or a heart condition, to get out of celebrating Martin Luther King Day…or postpone his day in court.

This is an open thread…

Elizabeth Edwards’ “Devastating Act of Ultimate Revenge”

Elizabeth Edwards

According to the National Enquirer, which originally broke the story of John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter and that he was the father of her child now claims that Elizabeth Edwards secretly recorded a video that she believed would incriminate him.

“Elizabeth wanted to exact revenge against John for destroy­ing their 33-year marriage and family by cheating with Rielle,” source close to the scandal told ENQUIRER.

“It was Elizabeth’s idea to secret­ly record a video and tell what knew of the affair and John’s horrific betrayal.”

Before her death in December 2010 at age 61, Elizabeth got newly engaged daughter Cate, 29, to agree that if anything happened to John, she would take care of the youngsters with the help of relatives and friends.

“It was then – without Cate’s knowledge – that Elizabeth turned the video camera on herself. She passed the video to a close friend and asked that it be sent to prosecutors,” said the source.

If the Enquirer hadn’t already proved itself to be accurate about this story several times in the past, I wouldn’t believe it. If this is true, it says a lot about Elizabeth’s strength of will and determination. Talk about a “steel magnolia!”