Saturday Open Thread

The Friends of Distinction are an American vocal group best known for their late 1960s hits, “Grazing in the Grass“, “Love or Let Me Be Lonely“, and “Going in Circles“. Founded by Harry Elston and Floyd Butler, The Friends of Distinction also included Jessica Cleavesand Barbara Jean Love (plus Charlene Gibson, who replaced Love during her pregnancy).

Elston and Butler’s involvement in music entailed several groups, including the Hi-Fis, Ray Charles‘ backing band. The Hi-Fis also included Lamont McLemore and Marilyn McCoo, who would go on to be members of The 5th Dimension. When the group disbanded in 1966, Elston and Butler recruited Cleaves and Love for a new band; initially, Elston came up with the name Distinctive Friends, but Love suggested reversing the words to Friends of Distinction.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Music, Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. opulent says:

    Obama is a wise leader…he is watching as all the truth finally come out slowly.

    What happened to America’s economy happened under the GOP controlled congress with Newt and his GOP revolution!!
    They passed the laws that got us in this mess under Clinton. Bush piled on to what Clinton created the foundation for.
    They had Clinton by the proverbial gonads, that blue dress made Clinton politically impotent.
    He got the BJ and America got rammed in the butt cause of it!

    “Can we all agree that the free trade deals sent our jobs to China?

    Let’s start there…
    The bad news is that we lost all of that income and all the redistribution of that earned income directly back into our economy, all that left us. And too the income taxes that would have been paid by those jobs to our government was lost as well.

    The bad News is that Corporate America tripled in value last time I looked.

    The stock market tripled in value in a few short years and it’s still up there today. That means that Corporate America has increased in value by 300% since the GATT and WTO were starting to percolate.
    Now what’s a poor nation to do?
    Take back some of that 200% too much that Corporate USA has swindled from us…and take it back through our tax system. Period.
    Who else should pay it?
    They sent our jobs away. Were we ever supposed to compete with dollar an hour wages in Asia?”

    • Ametia says:

      Great news, and great post Le Chele! Looking for MN to get this done too. And the icing would be watching Michelle Bachman and Tim Pawlenty’s heads EXPLODE when the bill is signed. waiting…… LOL

  2. rikyrah says:

    The GOP vs. Democracy
    Washington assumes both parties deserve blame for our problems. But as Michael Tomasky argues, the true fault lies with the GOP and its maximalist demands.
    June 24, 2011 10:58 AM EDT

    It’s about time the Democrats started saying openly what has been clear for months or even years now—that as long as economic recovery would work to the political benefit of Barack Obama, the Republicans have been, are, and will be in favor of sabotaging the economy. Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin made the point in a press conference in the Capitol Thursday. Noting that his GOP colleagues are coming out against business tax cuts (read that again: Republicans against tax cuts for businesses) that Democrats happen to support, Schumer said, “It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.” Well, not almost. Certainly. And I don’t “wonder.” I think it’s obvious. But this is a start.

    Washington is a city of conspiracies, but far and away the most pernicious one is the fiction, in which one must participate if one wants to be regarded as a “serious” person, that both parties are more or less equally to blame for the present malfunctioning of our democracy. One hears this all the time at the sort of panels, dinners, and seminars I attend. The topic is our energy future, our fiscal prospects, whatever. Discussion turns to obvious remedies, which inevitably involve the government taking some minimal amount of action, or the investment of a few modest public shekels. The symposiast will then note, sighing forlornly, that we appear to be light years away from consummating even these modest actions. He will then bemoan a vague “lack of political will” or “absence of leadership” as the reason for the inertia.

    Nonsense. There’s nothing vague about it. It’s crystal clear. We can’t do these things because of the extreme nature of the Republican Party and the right-wing noise machine that enforces such rigid ideological purity. Period and end of story. I think most people at these panels and dinners know this deep down. But it’s thought impolite to say it. Often it’s a technical violation of law to say it, since most of these events are sponsored by nonprofit organizations that must be scrupulous about their nonpartisanship to keep the taxman at bay. Whatever the reason, the conspiracy has produced a culture that refuses to acknowledge one of its fundamental truths.

    A couple of weeks ago I went to an event devoted to infrastructure. Discussion focused on the infrastructure bank proposal of John Kerry. It would seek a modest $10 billion up front for a series of public-private projects that the vast majority of experts agree have been neglected and are desperately needed in this country, as China and Brazil and so many other countries are spending many billions on their transportation and freight systems. But sadly, it’s very difficult to imagine it becoming reality. Why? Not, as Kerry said at the event, the special interests. Oh, they play their role, no question of that. But we can’t have an infrastructure bank because it’s a Democratic idea—and an Obama idea (which it isn’t, technically, but never mind). It is therefore socialism, fascism, and all the rest. The GOP will oppose it en bloc.

    There do exist a few well-meaning Republicans. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, for example, is co-sponsoring Kerry’s legislation. Good for her. However: If this bank ever gets close to passage, just watch the noise machine (Fox, talk radio, the blogs, etc.) rev into gear. Republicans will dash away from it as from leprosy. As it happens, Hutchison is retiring, so a) she no longer has to be taken that seriously by her caucus and b) it’s no skin off her nose now, since she’ll not be confronting the voters of Texas again. So she’ll probably stick with this idea. But we have seen many instances of previously fair-minded Republicans being perp-walked through the noise machine and Tea Party rage and emerging the way Iowa Senator Charles Grassley did in the summer of 2009, when he went from negotiating the health-care bill in reasonably good faith to suddenly tweeting about pulling the plug on grandma.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Chavez in ‘critical’ condition: report

    enezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba following emergency surgery, is in “critical” but stable condition, Miami’s El Nuevo Herald reported Saturday, citing US intelligence sources.

    Chavez’s government has said he was operated on for a pelvic abscess June 10 and is recovering well; the president’s brother has told Venezuelan state media that Chavez could return to Caracas in about two weeks.

    But the Venezuelan government has not addressed details of Chavez’s condition. And opposition lawmakers are up in arms in Caracas as many think it is unconstitutional for the president to be governing from abroad.

    The Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald cited unnamed US intelligence sources as refusing to comment on rumors in Venezuela that Chavez could be receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

    Yet one source was quoted as saying that Chavez “is in critical condition; not on the brink of death, but critical indeed, and complicated.”

    The same sources said Chavez’s daughter, Rosines, and his mother, Marisabel Rodriguez, were recently whisked off to Cuba in an air force plane, the report said.

    “They took Marisabel and her daughter out urgently,” another source told the paper. “That was 72 hours ago.”

    After almost two weeks of uncharacteristic quiet, Chavez took to Twitter again on Friday, without addressing the controversy over his time spent abroad recovering from surgery in Cuba.

    “Good morning to my (Twitter followers). It is my Army’s Day, and the sun is shining brightly. I am sending a big hug to my troops and my beloved people,” Chavez (@chavezcandanga) tweeted on the microblogging service.

    The firebrand leftist leader was hospitalized June 10 in Havana, his top regional ally, for what officials said was an operation for a pelvic abscess, but turned into an uncharacteristically quiet and prolonged absence.

    Officials in Caracas have insisted that Chavez, 56, is recovering well and continuing to give orders from Cuba, and keeping abreast of developments in Venezuela.

    And relatively few words from someone known for his verbal omnipresence left some foes speculating he might have had plastic surgery or might want to drum up sympathy for his illness ahead of a 2012 election in which he will seek a third term.

    Chavez arrived in Cuba on June 8 on the final leg of a trip authorized by the National Assembly that also included Brazil and Ecuador. He was rushed into emergency surgery after suffering sharp pain diagnosed as a pelvic abscess that required immediate surgery.

    Opposition legislators, who control 40 percent of Venezuela’s single-chamber legislature, argue that his prolonged absence means that Vice President Elias Jaua should replace him.

  4. Ametia says:

    Accomplishments by the Administration and Congress on LGBT Equality

    No one should rest until we have full LGBT equality. But after eight years of Republican disrespect, progress is being made. In its first 25 months, the Obama Administration has…

    Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history
    Signed repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell
    Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act


    Reversed an inexcusable US position by signing the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and, further, in 2010
    Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010
    Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees
    Committed to ensuring that federal housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity

  5. rikyrah says:

    une 23, 2011 5:07 PM

    Tricky Dick Gephardt

    By Sebastian Jones

    Earlier this week, former Democratic congressman Dick Gephardt penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post that attacked a key pillar of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. What the online publication didn’t disclose is that Gephardt is a lobbyist representing the very corporate interests gunning to kill the program.

    In the piece, Gephardt said he was concerned the program in question, an important Medicare cost-cutting panel called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), was “unelected” and “unaccountable” and would “have devastating consequences for the seniors and disabled Americans who are Medicare’s beneficiaries.” These arguments are cut directly from the talking points of industry groups that pay Gephardt—like PhRMA, which is now engaged in a full-throated campaign to kill IPAB.

    The arguments also happen to be inaccurate. In addition to his hand-wringing about the payment board’s unaccountability, Gephardt also makes the bizarre claim that IPAB will prevent delivery reforms in Obamacare from being implemented. In reality, the board’s recommendations can be overruled by Congress, and its members are subject to Senate confirmation. Moreover, many believe that IPAB represents the best hope of spreading the most effective pilot programs and delivery reforms included in the healthcare bill—much to the consternation of the industry status quo. (More on all these policy questions can be found in my latest piece for the Washington Monthly, which takes stock of IPAB and the various groups now scrambling to smother it, including a coalition of Democrats with heavy ties to the healthcare industry who are working to repeal the measure.)

    All of this brings up some uncomfortable questions for the Huffington Post, which initially ran Gephardt’s article with the minimal (and mostly meaningless) disclosure that he is “CEO of Gephardt Government Affairs”: why would the Huffington Post run Gephardt’s op-ed? Why would it not disclose his status as a lobbyist (explicitly, as in, “Dick Gephardt is a lobbyist”)? Why would it not mention his vested financial interest in the very topic he is writing about? Why would it allow a lobbyist to use the publication as a conduit for industry propaganda?

    Whatever the reasons, the Huffington Post has helped one of Washington’s smoothest operators score a public relations coup for his corporate clients—by helping them reach a quadrant of the left that normally wouldn’t give them the time of day.

    Even in a town as full of mercenaries and shills as Washington, Dick Gephardt is a special case. Just a handful of years ago, the then-Congressman touted himself as a friend of unions and a universal healthcare crusader. During his failed 2004 presidential bid, he was a man who stood against “the status-quo apologists” and “the special interest lobbyists running amok.” Today, he’s at the helm of his very own lobbying firm, working for the likes of PhRMA, Goldman Sachs and the coal company Peabody Energy. Even when compared to his many peers who have made trips through the revolving door, the list of issues on which Gephardt has been paid to reverse his position is very long indeed.

    As I pointed out in this 2009 profile Gephardt’s real value as a lobbyist is his ability to approach and solicit support from progressives in ways that big banks, the pharmaceutical industry or coal companies could not dream of doing on their own. Even if he fails to win over liberal constituencies, Gephardt’s agitating pays for itself by muddying the waters and sowing confusion in liberal ranks. This was what has made his sellout so complete: he is not simply putting a price tag on his ideals, he is selling the reputational capital he spent years accruing among progressives and using it to manipulate the people who have come to trust him. This is precisely what Gephardt is up to once again, this time by aiding the healthcare industry in its efforts to kill IPAB.

    When we talk about lobbying, it is easy to forget that when someone like Gephardt signs up to represent a client his job is not simply to show up in Congressional offices or make pit stops at political fundraisers. His task is to try and shape the broader political conversation on an issue, and this means trying to get quotes and op-eds into newspapers, making appearances on cable news, and coordinating and participating in roundtables and conferences. The less information is provided about Gephardt’s actual stake in the issue at hand, the better for his clients. That way the lobbyist seems more like a concerned elder statesman and Democratic loyalist than the hired gun he is.

    After I contacted the Huffington Post yesterday, Gephardt’s op-ed was amended with an editor’s note saying he “has clients in the healthcare industry.” A link was also provided to his firm’s website, where “highlighted” clients are listed. Sorry guys, but that’s just not nearly good enough. Your readers deserve to know that Gephardt is a lobbyist and that he is paid to lobby against the specific issue he is writing about. Giving people a link to a site that lists PhRMA as a client does not in any way explain that PhRMA is a leading opponent of IPAB, and that we are in the midst of a highly organized campaign by groups like PhRMA to repeal IPAB.

    It is a pity the Huffington Post is allowing itself to be a tool for K Street, making its job all that much easier. Scanning the comments below the piece, it’s clear that Gephardt’s muddying of the waters is working, primarily, I would guess, because those readers have not been informed of his vested financial interest in the program’s demise. It’s even more of a pity when you consider that the Huffington Post’s reporters have produced some of the finest pieces about lobbying and influence in Washington. I asked the Huffington Post for an explanation of why the editors posted the piece and whether they would take it down given the facts I’ve listed above. I’ve yet to hear back from on those questions, and will update you if and when I do.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Chicago’s food desert shrinking, report shows
    Residents of areas without access to fresh items drop sharply

    By Lolly Bowean, Tribune reporter

    June 24, 2011

    The number of Chicagoans living in so-called food deserts, where fruits and vegetables are difficult to find, has decreased by 39 percent in the last five years, a new report shows.

    Residents in parts of Chicago’s South Austin community, the South Loop and Morgan Park have seen their neighborhoods transform from food deserts, where fresh fruits and vegetables were difficult to find, to food oases, where healthy options are abundant, according to the study by the Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group.

    Mari Gallagher’s report for LaSalle Bank in 2006 revealed that 633,000 Chicago residents lived in communities without major supermarkets and had to travel farther to find healthy foods than people in other neighborhoods.

    There has been some significant progress, Gallagher said in her recently released update. That’s mainly because new stores have opened, bringing some residents more options, she said.

    Still, more than 383,954 Chicago residents live in communities where they have to travel farther to buy a fresh apple than they do to get a bag of potato chips or a greasy burger.

    “You can fill (U.S.) Cellular Field 10 times over with the food desert population,” she said. “To a great degree, these families that are in low-access areas endure the problem over generations and it has a compounded health effect.”

    Gallagher released her updated findings on Chicago’s food access problem exclusively to the Chicago Tribune this week.

    Her report comes just a week after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a food summit with grocery retailers to address the disparity. At his meeting, Emanuel said he will fast-track the permit, zoning and licensing procedures to encourage development of more groceries.

    In her first study, Gallagher concluded that residents without access to healthy food were more likely to die prematurely of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other ailments.

    Since 2006, new grocers have moved into some Chicago communities, offering residents more access to better food. For example, an Aldi opened in South Austin, improving access there.

    In some cases, big box retailers added grocery marts to their stores, offering more residents access to healthier food.

    There have been other efforts, too.

    Last year, Walgreen Co. officials added fruit and vegetable stands to some stores in depressed areas. The Chicago Food Depository has started giving out fresh produce in needy communities and, most recently, Fresh Moves, a mobile fruit and vegetable stand, has been serving underprivileged communities on the West Side. But those efforts aren’t included in Gallagher’s study because it measures only stores where residents can get all of their food in one spot.

    In her study, Gallagher measures the distance from every Chicago block to the nearest grocery store. She then developed a score to identify food deserts and food oases.

    Although there has been good news, Chicago neighborhoods such as Bronzeville and Roseland have seen little progress. Neighborhoods with high concentrations of single mothers, children, the elderly and grandparents raising children still have to travel farther to find healthy food. And food deserts still tend to exist in poor communities where residents likely lack access to a car.

    “You can’t make healthy choices if you don’t have access to it,” Gallagher said. “In some of these neighborhoods, you can’t even find two to three fruits or vegetables. And if you do, they cost a lot or are low-quality. If you find two bananas, they are beat up. They look like they both got into a fight with each other and lost.”

    Of Chicago’s food desert population, more than 100,000 are children, Gallagher’s study shows. About 70 percent of the food desert population is African-American, and the remainder is equally split between whites and Latinos, she said.

    Part of the reason fresh foods are not abundant in some communities is because of simple economics and cultural history, said Charles Williams, director of public health partnerships for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Neighborhoods Initiative.

    “If you are poor, the reality is there is a utility to the choices that you make,” Williams said. “When healthy options are out of reach because of cost, it creates an artificial demand. People get used to buying what they can afford, and they adjust their palate.”,0,5396881.story

    • Ametia says:

      Chalk one up for Mayor Rahm! Good going for folks who need fresh produce and are now have GREATER access to receiving it.

      • Ametia says:

        And I would be remiss if I didn’t give the PROPER CREDIT to First Lady Michelle Obama for her healthy eating & Let’s Move program!

  7. rikyrah says:

    Abandoned homes multiply in Englewood, and crime follows
    Foreclosure crisis ‘is our tsunami,’ expert says

    By Dahleen Glanton, Antonio Olivo and William Mullen, Tribune reporters

    9:50 p.m. CDT, June 23, 2011

    The young woman sat naked and sobbing on the rotting front porch at 5964 S. Lowe Ave. in Englewood when neighbors found her. She had been raped by three men inside the boarded-up house, yanked by her ponytail and pulled inside after walking her children to school.

    Six years later, a chest-high tunnel of weeds leads to the broken front door of the house on Lowe. Brittle, weathered plywood hangs loosely over a back entrance. In the yard, wild ivy coils around empty fast-food cartons, bottles and cans left by junkies and squatters who find shelter there.

    t is a scene that that has become all too common in Englewood, which over the last few years has filled with empty houses that are magnets for crime.

    The 2005 attack on Lowe, still unsolved, took place two months after the house’s owner died. The house was quickly sold to one investor, then, city records show, was flipped three times to other investors.

    When Karen Edwards and her family moved in to a house next door later in 2005, the house at 5964 was being renovated, she said.

    But predators in the neighborhood sealed the home’s fate. This time it was scavengers who stripped copper piping, furnace, water heater and any other metals they could sell for a few bucks.

    “Someone stole all the fixtures and we didn’t see the guy (who had been working on the house) anymore,” said Edwards, 43.

    The house’s last owner, according to records with the Cook County recorder of deeds, is the Smith Rothchild Financial Co., a Chicago lender that took over several properties in Englewood after scores of investors defaulted on construction loans.

    Last year, the company entered into Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection proceedings after it was sued in 2009 by a division of Citigroup Inc. for about $4 million it owed the bank, court records show.

    In a deposition, a Smith Rothchild attorney recounted how a company employee admitted that many of the company’s 49 vacant properties were not being maintained. The employee told the attorney: “We’re not getting paid, so we’re not doing anything,” according to the deposition.

    Kevin S. Werner, the company’s president and chief executive officer said in a brief telephone interview that he wasn’t familiar with the Lowe Avenue property or any properties in Englewood.

    Multiply the situation 5964 S. Lowe by a couple of thousand and the devastation to Englewood and West Englewood is clear. And although Greater Englewood is ground zero for the foreclosure crisis, the growing number of empty homes over the last several years throughout Chicago has in many ways ravaged property on a scale not seen since the Chicago Fire of 1871.

    The city’s ongoing foreclosure crisis “is our tsunami,” said Jim Capraro, senior fellow at the citywide Institute for Comprehensive Community Development. “It’s so widespread, and there is no relief in sight yet for foreclosures.”

    On Lowe Avenue, Edwards still sees shadows inside the empty house next door.

    “My dog goes crazy every time she hears someone breaking in there,” she said. “It’s scary living next to that.”,0,1714422.story?obref=obinsite

  8. rikyrah says:

    Indiana Planned Parenthood seeing Medicaid patients again

    Associated Press

    2:15 p.m. CDT, June 25, 2011

    INDIANAPOLIS — Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana started seeing Medicaid patients again today, the day after a federal judge ruled the state couldn’t cut off the organization’s public funding for general health services just because it also provides abortions.

    Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said she didn’t know how many Medicaid patients had visited the group’s 28 clinics since Friday night’s federal court ruling, but the clinics usually average about 80 a day.

    “Saturday is one of the busier days because people don’t have to take off work, and they can get family members to watch their children,” Shepherd said.

    Planned Parenthood of Indiana has been without Medicaid funding since May 10, when Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law that cut off about $1.4 million and made Indiana the first state to deny the organization Medicaid funds for services such as breast exams and Pap tests.

    Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people, was forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients this week after private donations that had paid those patients’ bills ran out.

    Shepherd said the group was trying to get the word out to Medicaid patients that they could start coming back Saturday. She said she believed some clinics with close relationships with their Medicaid patients were phoning to tell them they could return.

    “They’re so very happy to be able to say to their patients, ‘We’d love to see you again,'” she said.

    U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s Friday ruling blocked parts of a tough new abortion law and granted Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s request for an injunction on the state’s move to defund the organization. The decision sides with federal officials who said states cannot restrict Medicaid recipients’ freedom to choose their health care provider or disqualify Medicaid providers merely because they also offer abortions.

    Indiana attorney general’s office spokesman Bryan Corbin said the state likely will appeal.

    State Sen. Scott Schneider, an Indianapolis Republican who sponsored the measure to defund Planned Parenthood, said the state should appeal.

    “The whole ruling is disappointing in my opinion. In my opinion, it’s judicial activism,” he said.,0,1133850.story

  9. rikyrah says:

    Mama loved him and Fred Hickman. watched them every night.


    Chicago native, CNN broadcaster Nick Charles dead at 64

    Nick Charles, a Chicago native who became the first sports anchor at CNN, died today, the cable news station reported. He was 64.

    Charles, who had been suffering from bladder cancer since 2009, died at his New Mexico home, according to CNN.

    Nicholas Charles Nickeas grew up in Chicago, working late-night jobs in high school to help his family, according to CNN. He eventually went to college to study communications and drove a taxi to help pay his tuition.

    He was still driving taxis in 1970 when he landed his first gig with WICS in Springfield, Ill. That’s when he adopted the name Nick Charles at the urging of his news director, the network said.

    Charles later left Springfield to work at local stations in Baltimore and Washington and then began at Atlanta-based CNN on the network’s first day in 1980.

    He made his name before a national audience teaming with Fred Hickman for almost 20 years on “Sports Tonight,” a daily highlight show that battled with ESPN for viewers. Charles became such a popular TV personality that Topps put his face on a trading card, CNN reported.

    “We just clicked from the very beginning,” Hickman told CNN in an interview. “In television, you always have personality conflicts. Nick and I never had one. Nick and I have always had a tremendous relationship.”

    In an interview in March, he told the network his message was to “never give up on life.”

    “People won’t remember who you are or what you said. It’s really about: Are you going to be remembered as a good person?” he said.

    “That’s victory to me. That’s success.”
    Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, said in a press release:

    “As a journalist and sports personality, Nick Charles helped put CNN on the map in its early days. He brought intelligence, style and heart to his work–qualities that translated to our company and inspired those of us who were fortunate to work alongside him. His passing is a loss to CNN, to the sports world and to the fans and friends everywhere who were with him to the end of his extraordinary life. Like them, our thoughts today are of Nick and with his family.”,0,4167689.story

  10. rikyrah says:

    Private Prisons Spend Millions on Lobbying to Put More People in Jail
    Friday 24 June 2011

    by: Andrea Nill Sanchez, Think Progress | Report

    Yesterday, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a report chronicling the political strategies of private prison companies “working to make money through harsh policies and longer sentences.” The report’s authors note that while the total number of people in prison increased less than 16 percent, the number of people held in private federal and state facilities increased by 120 and 33 percent, correspondingly. Government spending on corrections has soared since 1997 by 72 percent, up to $74 billion in 2007. And the private prison industry has raked in tremendous profits. Last year the two largest private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — made over $2.9 billion in revenue.

    JPI claims the private industry hasn’t merely responded to the nation’s incarceration woes, it has actively sought to create the market conditions (ie more prisoners) necessary to expand its business.

    According to JPI, the private prison industry uses three strategies to influence public policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and networking. The three main companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts. CCA has spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent anywhere from $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span this year. Meanwhile, “the relationship between government officials and private prison companies has been part of the fabric of the industry from the start,” notes the report. The cofounder of CCA himself used to be the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Bill Clinton’s Legacy of Denial
    Robert Scheer
    June 22, 2011

    This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books).

    Does Bill Clinton still not grasp that the current economic crisis is in large measure his legacy? Obviously that’s the case, or he wouldn’t have had the temerity to write a fourteen-point memo for Newsweek on how to fix the economy that never once refers to the home mortgage collapse and other manifestations of Wall Street greed that he enabled as president.

    Endorsing the Republican agenda of financial industry deregulation, reversing New Deal safeguards, President Clinton pursued policies that in the long run created more damage to the American economy than any other president since Herbert Hoover, whose tenure is linked to the Great Depression. Now, in his Newsweek piece, Clinton has the effrontery to once again revive his 1992 campaign mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid,” as the article’s title without any sense of irony, let alone accountability. But that has always been the man’s special gift—to rise above, and indeed benefit from, the messes he created.

    His list of safe nostrums—painting tar-surface roofs white and seeking more efficient solar and battery production—to be featured at his lavishly funded Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago next week is vintage Clinton hype. All of those solutions are of the win/win sort that he loved to ballyhoo as president; who in his or her right mind would be against green job creation? But that hardly speaks to a crisis in which, as was reported Tuesday, the housing meltdown continues unabated as the toxic mortgages sold and packaged by the leading banks and investment houses clog the real estate market, destroying consumer confidence and hobbling job creation.

    Conceding that the bailed-out banks are sitting on $2 trillion that they won’t lend, Clinton offers not a word about mortgage relief for swindled homeowners. With an all-time high of 44 million Americans living below the poverty line, Clinton once again brags of his success in ending the federal welfare program.

    There is only a one-sentence reference in the Clinton article to the era of financial greed: “The real thing that has killed us in the last 10 years is that too much of our dealmaking creativity has been devoted to expanding the financial sector in ways that don’t create new businesses and more jobs and to persuading people to take on excessive debt loads to make up for the fact that their incomes are stagnant.” Now that’s a clear description of the consequence of President Clinton’s policy of radical deregulation of the financial industry, but he writes as if that outcome has nothing to do with him.

    Clinton signed off on the reversal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the legislative jewel of the Franklin Roosevelt administration designed to prevent financial institutions from getting too big to fail. In signing the Financial Services Modernization Act, which broke down the barrier between high-rolling Wall Street investment firms and consumer banks carrying the deposits of ordinary folk, Clinton gushed in 1999, “Over the [past] seven years we have tried to modernize the economy.… And today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority.”

    The first beneficiary of that legislation was Citigroup, a corporation that resulted from a merger that would have been banned by Glass-Steagall. Upon signing the law, Clinton handed one of the pens he used to a beaming Sandy Weill, Citigroup CEO and a close friend and financial supporter of the president. Clinton’s treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, then went off to be a $15-million-a-year exec at Citigroup and was in a key position there when the bank made those toxic derivative packages that would have forced it into bankruptcy had US taxpayers not bailed the bank out.

    So much for the “modernizing” that Clinton had bragged about.

    A year later a variation of that same word appeared in the title of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which Clinton signed and which exempted from government regulation all of the collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps that would later prove so toxic. That legislation led to the explosion of the market in unregulated mortgage-based securities, the key source of the financial-sector “dealmaking” that Clinton now bemoans.

    In his memoir Clinton pays tribute to Rubin as “the best and most important treasury secretary since Alexander Hamilton.” He wrote that line in 2004, when Rubin, who had come to Clinton from a top job at Goldman Sachs and later left for Citigroup, was already clearly defined as someone who profited mightily from the very bills that he had pushed through while working for Clinton.

    As with so much in the Clinton record, the former president remains in deep denial over having any culpability for his misdeeds. In his thousand-page memoir there is no reference to the above-mentioned radical deregulation of the economy that he presided over. As evidenced by his Newsweek article, the man has long been convinced that there is no problem or contradiction of his that cannot be simply plastered over with blather. Sadly, he may be right.

    • opulent says:

      Yes!! Say it!! Obama cleaning up from both Bush and Clinton!!

      “DEEEEE-Regulation of financial markets and endless free trade agreements with 3rd world countries. We re-invented slavery.

      I think that Bill Clinton has somewhat shown regrets along these lines.

      The insane rise in the stock markets that followed these GATT WTO agreements actually tripled the value of a 200 year old stock market in a few short years under Bill Clinton.

      The reason that happened was that these laws decreased the cost of labor by about 95%. Profits soared and stocks went up and that is how the stock market works, if you’re curious. In the long run.”

    • opulent says:

      Yes!! Say it!! Obama cleaning up from both Bush and Clinton!!

    • Ametia says:

      Excellent breakdownn of the THUGGERY by Ray-gun & Clinton admininstrations.
      And as always like clockwork Clinto writes his revisionist bullshit to cover up his multitude of fuckups.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Romney’s past is more a working class zero


    Last Updated: 5:23 AM, February 20, 2011

    Posted: 10:55 PM, February 19, 2011

    Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been out on the pre-campaign trail this month saying he is the man to get Americans back to work, despite a spotty jobs record while on Wall Street.

    However, the former private equity firm chief’s fortune — which has funded his political ambitions from the Massachusetts statehouse to his unsuccessful run for the White House in 2008 — was made on the backs of companies that ultimately collapsed, putting thousands of ordinary Americans out on the street. That truth if it becomes widely known could become costly to Romney, who, while making the media rounds recently, told CNN’s Piers Morgan that “People in America want to know who can get 15 million people back to work,” implying he was that person.

    Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, bought companies and often increased short-term earnings so those businesses could then borrow enormous amounts of money. That borrowed money was used to pay Bain dividends. Then those businesses needed to maintain that high level of earnings to pay their debts.

    Romney in 2007 told the New York Times he had nothing to do with taking dividends from two companies that later went bankrupt, and that one should not take a distribution from a business that put the company at risk.

    Yet Geoffrey Rehnert, who helped start Bain Capital and is now co-CEO of the private equity firm The Audax Group, told me for my Penguin book, “The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy,” that Romney owned a controlling stake in Bain Capital between approximately 1992 and 2001. The firm under his watch took such risks, time and time again.

    Bain and Goldman Sachs, for example, put $85 million down in a $415 million 1994 leveraged buyout of Baxter International’s medical testing division (renamed Dade Behring), which sold machines and reagents to labs.

    Former Dade CEO Scott Garrett, who managed the business for the first few years after the takeover, said Romney “was far more in tune with what was going on throughout his firm, and even the portfolio companies, than you might expect.”

    Bain reduced Dade’s research and development spending to 6 to 7 percent of sales, while its peers allocated between 10 and 15 percent. Dade in June 1999 used the savings as part of the basis to borrow $421 million. Dade then turned around and used $365 million from the loan to buy shares from its owners, giving them a 4.3 times return on their investment.

    A Dade executive, who requested anonymity, said he confronted new CEO Steven Barnes after a boardroom meeting within a week of the distribution.

    “You really think it’s a good idea to borrow, you know, one times sales?” he asked.

    “Oh. Yeah. Yeah. You know, that’s fine,” Barnes responded. “You know companies do that all the time.”

    The executive then told Barnes, “Well, that’d be like me going out and borrowing the amount of money I make in a year and then trying to pay it off and pay for my house and feed myself and everything else. That doesn’t make sense.” The executive said he let it drop after that.

    In August 2002, Dade filed for bankruptcy.

    This was not an isolated case.

    * Bain in 1988 put $5 million down to buy Stage Stores, and in the mid-’90s took it public, collecting $100 million from stock offerings. Stage filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

    * Bain in 1992 bought American Pad & Paper (AMPAD), investing $5 million, and collected $100 million from dividends. The business filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

    * Bain in 1993 invested $60 million when buying GS Industries, and received $65 million from dividends. GS filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

    * Bain in 1997 invested $46 million when buying Details, and made $93 million from stock offerings. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

    Romney’s Bain invested 22 percent of the money it raised from 1987-95 in these five businesses, making a $578 million profit.

    While I have not investigated all of Romney’s Bain investments and there may be cases where he made money and improved businesses, there’s little question he made a fortune from businesses he helped destroy.

    Mitt Romney, through his spokesman, did not return calls. Bain declined comment.

    Read more:

  13. rikyrah says:

    click on the link and view some of the couples:

    if the Chinese admit to a 22 million man/woman gap, then it’s more in the neighborhood of 40-50 million


    Chinese Workers in Africa Who Marry Locals Face Puzzled Reception at Home
    By Damien Ma

    Jun 20 2011, 11:36 AM ET 6
    In response to a growing gender imbalance in their home country, Chinese men look elsewhere to find partners

    This isn’t my normal focus, but I found this dispatch from the good people at ChinaSmack amusing. The post is replete with photos and ruminates on the growing phenomenon of Chinese men marrying African women, as Chinese presence in Africa continues to expand. Here is what it had to say:

    Chinese women marrying blacks is no longer something rare, whereas in comparison men very rarely dare to bring black girls back home to China. I won’t say anything and go ahead and post the photos.

    In my neighborhood is a Chinese engineer who returned from Angola, and his wife is a black girl. However, she’s one of those very pretty high-end black girls. She’s very slender and not one of those fat auntie types. Her skin also isn’t the kind of oily/greasy black but rather black-brownish and more brown. They have two children, about five or six years old, twin boys.

    As for their appearance, unfortunately, the father’s genes were really too strong. Aside from their skin being slightly darker, their faces look very much like their daddy.

    Large-scale marrying of African women can effectively solve China’s male-female sex-ratio imbalance problem!

    Not only is the policy prescription of relying on interracial marriages to solve China’s complex gender imbalances as preposterous as the “babe tax,” the racial comments (translated from Chinese) are fairly typical of the impolitic language used in China. It’s pretty blase by Chinese standards, but certainly would be considered offensive in the West.

    A taste of the photos and associated captions:

    I won’t say anymore, other than if you so choose, read the comments, which range from the awkward and strange to grating and outright offensive. This diverse range of opinions, on such a narrow topic, is as much a part of contemporary China as the head-cracking underway to quell the spate of protests.

    On a related and more serious note about Chinese gender imbalance, which was reaffirmed by the recent Chinese census, a new book on this front seems worth checking out. In Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, journalist Mara Hvistendahl covers more territory than just China, though the East Asian giant has the starring role. Having not yet read the book myself, I’m not equipped to comment on it further other than to point to China scholar Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s review of the book:

    One of the many accomplishments of Hvistendahl’s book is to show that there have been additional “contradictions” at work in the pan-Asian “missing women” phenomenon. For simplicity’s sake, we can boil these down to contradictions linked to visions of what it means to be “modern” and contradictions tied to technology.

  14. rikyrah says:

    He has issues with WOMEN IN AUTHORITY.

    I don’t hear him pulling this punk ass shyt with MEN.


    Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow justice by the neck

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week, according to at least three knowledgeable sources.

    Details of the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.

    They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

    Justice Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined comment: “I have nothing to say about it.” He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story — including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley — were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.

    Bradley also declined comment, telling WPR, “I have nothing to say.”

    The sources say Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs was notified of the incident. One source says Tubbs came in to meet with the entire Supreme Court about this matter. Tubbs, contacted by Wisconsin Public Radio, declined to comment.

    Sources also say the matter was called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges. James Alexander, executive director of the commission, said Friday that “we can neither confirm nor deny” that the incident was under investigation. “The commission hasn’t given me any authority to make any confirmation.”

    Amanda Todd, spokesperson for the court, sent an email to the full court on Friday afternoon informing them of the Center’s media inquiries on the matter. Reporters also contacted each justice individually. As of the end of day Friday, none of the justices had commented.

    It is unclear what day the incident took place. Sources say it happened last week, before the court’s release of its ruling on the collective bargaining case. The decision was released on the afternoon of June 14.

    Read more:

    • Rikyrah, I can’t believe this?! He is out of control. See, this ish has escalated from bitch to grabbing a woman around the neck. Hell no! This is only going to get worse if nothing is done about his ass! Keep your fking hands to yourself, Prosser!

    • Ametia says:

      Radio and journalism invesitgating? Where’s the LAW? I’e have this mofo’s ass slung in jail, if he touched me.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Movement to Investigate Clarence Thomas Grows

    Posted by Peggy Clifford on Friday, June 24, 201

    Linn Bayne
    Dispatch National Correspondent

    Nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and those people are making making waves in Washington. Thanks to their activism, momentum is building behind an effort to hold Thomas accountable for his blatant disregard of the Judicial Code of Conduct.

    Just yesterday, Congressman Chris Murphy penned a “dear colleague” letter, asking his fellow Members of Congress to sign on to an urgent request to Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith. This letter, spurred by the recent New York Times expose of Clarence Thomas’ unethical relationship with rightwing funder and activist Harlan Crow, urges the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on escalating reports of unethical behavior by Supreme Court Justices.

    I just added my name to a petition urging my representative to sign Rep. Murphy’s letter asking the House Judiciary Committee to investigate Thomas’s recent actions. Link to petition:

    h ttp://

  16. rikyrah says:

    Right-wingers bash Gore for wanting women to have access to birth control

    While the mainstream media is all aflutter over Al Gore criticizing Obama for inaction on climate, the right-wing media is all aflutter over Al Gore saying that we should educate girls, keep kids from dying, and make birth control available to women. Talk about a radical agenda.

    Here’s what Gore said on Monday at the Games for Change Festival in New York City:

    One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women. You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children to have, the spacing of the children. You have to lift child-survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families. And most important, you have to educate girls and empower women. And that’s the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.

    That’s about the most mild and noncontroversial statement anyone could make about population. He didn’t blame human numbers for our environmental problems. He didn’t fret about the world population heading toward 7 billion this year, or 9 billion by 2050. He didn’t say we need to get our fertility rates down. He didn’t say governments should make people have fewer children. He didn’t say people ought to decide on their own to have fewer children. He didn’t mention a single number.

    But the ‘wingers are up in arms:

    “Al Gore branches out into population control theory,” writes climate denier Anthony Watts on his Watts Up With That? blog. Where’s the “control” in Gore’s statement? Well, he does want women to be able to control their own fertility, but that’s hardly an oppressive Chinese-style population-control policy.

    “Al Gore promotes having fewer children to curb pollution,” writes Joe Newby at Not a bad idea, but not what Gore said.

    “Gore said that couples need to learn to ‘feel comfortable having small families’ so that pollution can be curbed,” writes Billy Hallowell at The Blaze. Actually he said that parents might “feel comfortable having small families” if they were confident their kids wouldn’t die young.

    So what is it that has conservatives’ panties in such a twist? Surely they don’t object to saving babies’ lives and sending girls to school. They do, however, need to maintain their favorite stereotype of greens as fascist quasi-eugenicists who want to control population via tyranny. They do need to keep the focus on their favorite bete noir, Al Gore. And they do — at least some of them — need to find plausible-sounding excuses to go after contraception.

    It’s almost hard to believe that there are still Americans who object to birth control, other than a few decrepit Catholic archbishops (whose time would be better spent purging child molesters from their ranks). More than 99 percent of American women who’ve had intercourse have used contraception, including 98 percent of Catholic women. Eighty-six percent of Americans say the availability of the Pill has been a good thing for society. Birth control is about as mainstream as it gets.

    And here’s where the hard-core right-wingers are really out of step with America: They actually want to stop women from using birth control. Most of the extremist conservatives won’t say it out loud — they’ll just fulminate about abortion while pushing policies that have nothing to do with the a-word and everything to do with limiting access to contraception. Watch as Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R), in a rare moment of candor, really does say it out loud: “Well of course it’s a war on birth control.” (h/t Phillip Martin)

  17. (1). “Going In Circles.” Classic R&B at it’s best (Southern Rap and Auto-tune were the worst things that ever happened to black [or any] music).
    (2). With the black family already at unprecedented levels of dysfunctionality, is it wise to support the redefining of “family” by supporting gay/lesbian politics?

    • I love love old school 60’s 70’s & 80’s music. They don’t make it like that anymore. The Friends of Distinction had another hit..”Love or Let Me Be Lonely”. Just love that one too. I can’t get enough of old school!

    • Ametia says:

      @Beyond, first the R&B of yesteryears are undeniably timeless. There’s something for everyone in the world of music. Secondly, for me, It’s up to the individual to define family for themselves. Structure, shelter, lfood, nuturing, education, ove are not exclusive to a male/female married couple with children.

  18. Ametia says:

    New York legalizes same-sex marriage in win for gay rights advocates

    By Sandhya Somashekhar, Published: June 24 | Updated: Saturday, June 25, 12:15 AM
    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage late Friday, shortly after the state Senate voted on the measure, delivering a significant victory to the gay rights movement and making New York the largest state to permit such unions.

    Given the state’s population, the vote essentially doubles the number of Americans who can gain access to same-sex marriage licenses, which previously have been available in five states and the District of Columbia.

    • Ametia says:

      i Heard Rachel Maddow said that President Obama is against what happened in New York with Gay marriage being passed there. I’m looking for the actual clip. If anyone finds it, please drop a link here. I’ve looked on Youtube, but they’ve already removed the clips!

      Rachel is smart and smarmy, she was probably making inferences, rather than actually calling out the president for being against gay marriage.Either way she’s not slick. this is dangerous, because shse’s plyaing right into the rightwing/GOP’s game of Obama aint doing shit for this country. I want to hear what she said for myself. I sooo sick of her and these lefties.

  19. Ametia says:

    Happy Birthday to SG2. Please drop over to our special Birthday thread and post your Birthday wishes to SG2.

    And drop over to TOAITR and wish BWD a Happy Birthday too! Happy Birthday, BWD! :-)


    June 21: Meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma’s wife Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma in Pretoria and visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

    June 22: Mrs Obama will deliver keynote address to a Young African Women Leaders Forum in Soweto

    June 23: Meeting with U.S. consulate employees in Cape Town, before visit to Robben Island, where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. She will end the day with a speech to young people attending a workshop at the University of Cape Town

    June 24: Meeting with Botswana President Ian Khama and visit to the Botswana Children’s Clinic Center of Excellence Teen Club.

    June 25: Meeting with U.S. Embassy employees in Botswanan capital Gaborone before the family go on safari

  21. Good Morning, 3 Chics, Friends & Visitors!

Leave a Reply