STREAMING ALL THE BEST NEWS SITES TO ONE PLACE UPDATING LIVE 24/7
|Lunar Eclipse 2013: Tonight\'s Sky Show To Be Webcast By SLOOH Space Camera|
By: Tariq Malik Published: 05/24/2013 12:46 PM EDT on SPACE.com The moon will take the smallest of dips through the Earth's shadow in a minor eclipse tonight (May 24) and you can watch the lunar event live online via a webcast. The lackluster lunar eclipse will star in a free webcast by the Slooh Space Camera, which offers live views of the night sky via remotely operated telescopes. The eclipse webcast will begin at 11:37 p.m. EDT (0337 May 25 GMT).Read More... More on Skywatching
10 Stunning Homes With Bridges That Recall A Childhood Dream (PHOTOS)
Does every little girl dream of living in a castle, or was that just us? Surrounded by an alligator-filled moat to protect us from danger, our only contact with the outside world would be via the drawbridge. If you still love the idea of a bridge leading to your front door, you're in luck. We've found ten homes where you can live out that whole Rapunzel fantasy -- no Prince Charming necessary.
Press Freedom Groups Protest DOJ\'s Actions In Letter To Eric Holder
More than sixty organizations signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday, demanding a "full, transparent" explanation for the Justice Department's secret probe into journalists. The Obama administration has come under fire in recent weeks over revelations that the DOJ secretly obtained months of phone records at the Associated Press, and targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen's email account. Rosen was furthermore labeled a "co-conspirator" in leaking classified information ? a move that risks criminalizing journalism. Free Press, a media reform advocacy group, and other organizations ? including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Committee to Protect Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists and Writers Guild of America, East ? blasted the DOJ for setting "a dangerous precedent" in a letter to Holder. Read More...
Alfonso Portillo, Former President Of Guatemala, Extradited To U.S. On Money Laundering Charges
GUATEMALA CITY — Ex-Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was extradited on Friday to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million in Guatemalan funds through U.S. bank accounts.The former president was taken from a military hospital where he was recovering from liver surgery and a heart condition and put on a plane, according to his lawyer Mauricio Berreondo. He said the plane was bound for New York after a stop in Miami.Read More... More on Guatemala
Springsboro, Ohio, District Considers Teaching Creationism In Schools
The Springboro, Ohio, school board is currently considering a proposal that would allow the district to teach creationism, despite objections from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and local parents.The issue, which was discussed at Thursday night?s board meeting, is part of a larger proposal that would open up a variety of controversial issues for classroom discussion. According to the proposal, ?[s]ex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change and sustainable development? would be considered suitable classroom topics, reports local news outlet WHIO-TV. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sent a letter asking the district to drop the proposal that would ?advance creationism in the classroom."Read More... More on Education
Stars In Bikinis: Celebrities Rock Red, White And Blue Swimsuits (PHOTOS)
Happy Memorial Day!Today we are honoring all the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces and all those brave individuals who have fought for our country. Memorial Day also symbolizes the kick-off of summer as many people head to the beach to ring in the upcoming season. Read More... More on Celebrity Skin
Jennifer Lawrence\'s Brother Stalked By Man Who Wanted To Get To The Actress; Stalker Arrested & Charged
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Canadian man is facing charges that he stalked the brother of Jennifer Lawrence after authorities say he repeatedly insisted that the man put him in touch with the Oscar-winning actress so he could protect her, according to court documents.Zhao Han Cong, 23, of Vancouver, British Columbia, was ordered Friday to remain held until he could undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if the case against him can proceed.Read More... More on Movies
How Prosecutors Fought To Keep Rosen\'s Warrant Secret
The Obama Administration fought to keep a search warrant for James Rosen's private e-mail account secret, arguing to a federal judge that the government might need to monitor the account for a lengthy period of time.Read More... More on Justice Department
Marriage In India: Grooms Required To Prove They Have A Toilet Before Marrying
To participate in a mass marriage ceremony in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Monday, there was just one requirement for grooms-to-be: prove they owned a toilet.In an effort to improve sanitation (India's 2011 census revealed that less than half of Indian homes had a toilet), the local government required any groom who wished to participate in Monday's mass marriage ceremony to send a photo of themselves with their toilet, or prove their intent to install one within 30 days of their wedding, the Times of India reported Tuesday. The initiative is part of the state's Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojna (MKY), a program launched in 2006 to help poor women marry. Under the MKY, the state pays for couples to participate in mass marriage ceremonies and awards them housewarming gifts worth 15,000 rupees ($270), according to Slate.Read More... More on Rape
Thornton High School On Lockdown After Report Of Nearby Gunman
Thornton High School has been placed on lockdown after a gunman was reportedly near the school, according to KDVR.The Denver Post's Sadie Gurman tweeted:
Officers in SWAT gear were going room to room in the high school on the last day of finals. Needless to say, finals are over. Evac planned.? Sadie Gurman (@sgurman) May 24, 2013Read More... More on Denver News
Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Gang Up On GOP
WASHINGTON -- They began as sworn enemies and later made peace as allies of convenience. Now Kentucky's two Republican senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have developed a working relationship that serves their mutual interests (at the moment), but which is threatening to tear the GOP apart in the U.S. Senate.The symbol and operational center of their relationship is an unassuming but effective political operative who now lives in Louisville, Ky. Jesse Benton, a veteran of grassroots organizing and Washington consulting, straddles the Republicans' Tea Party vs. Establishment fault line -- a line that seems increasingly to be shifting in the tea party direction.Benton's resume tells the story. He was spokesman for Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2008, was campaign manager in Kentucky for son Rand Paul's winning Senate campaign in 2010, returned to run the father's presidential campaign in 2012, and now serves as campaign manager for McConnell's 2014 bid for a sixth term.Read More... More on Tea Party
Dogs And Babies Sleeping Are What The World Needs Now
Because they are not just man's best friends...Read More... More on Sleep
Legislature To Spend $370,000 On New Carpet - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson
The last time they installed new carpeting in the Michigan House and Senate, John Engler was governor.Years later, under Governor Jennifer Granholm, there was talk of replacing the carpet, but it was never done until now.Everywhere you look on the house floor you see this black duct tape. A source says its only a matter of time before somebody gets tripped up, and a spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger says it's becoming a public safety issue.Read More... More on Detroit Politics
The Strange Advice A Teacher Gave To One Graduate (PHOTO)
It's not unusual for students to be given a little inspirational life advice upon graduation. But for one Reddit user -- who goes by atheistkitty -- the words of wisdom given to him by his teacher were not your average Dr. Seuss quote.
Cave Paintings Found In Mexico: 5,000 Ancient Works Depict Humans, Animals (PHOTOS)
Mexican researchers announced a remarkable find this week: nearly 5,000 well-preserved cave paintings scattered across 11 different sites.The 4,926 paintings were found in Burgos, in the mountainous northeastern state of Tamaulipas, in Mexico, reports the BBC. The beautiful pictures, cataloged with the help of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), were presented by researcher Martha García Sánchez at the second meeting of Historic Archaeology, in Mexico City's National History Museum. According to an INAH press release, Sánchez began work on the project in 2006. She was later joined by INAH archeologist Gustavo Ramírez.Read More... More on Arts
|LOOK: Michelle Obama Dances With D.C. School Kids!|
WASHINGTON -- Failure is OK, but continuing to work hard is more important, Michelle Obama said Friday. That was the message the first lady delivered... WASHINGTON -- Failure is OK, but continuing to work hard is more important, Michelle Obama said Friday.That was the message the first lady delivered to students at an elementary school where the arts are being used to help boost student performance. The school is located in Anacostia, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Mrs. Obama said failure was not an impediment for her and shouldn't be for them.She also encouraged the students to "try new things and not be afraid to fail, because we have all failed.""You're looking at the first ... I have failed at things. Things have been really hard for me at times," Mrs. Obama said at Savoy Elementary School. "But all I had to do was keep going and keep working hard."To further illustrate her point, she pointed to Kerry Washington, star of ABC's "Scandal," as another example.Mrs. Obama said the actress, who was sitting in the audience for the visit, is a big star these days because she chose to keep perfecting her craft instead of becoming discouraged by rejection during her career."She spent a lot of time practicing and working and trying out for things and having people tell her `no,' `no, thank you,' `you're not good enough, you're not pretty enough,'" the first lady said. "Could you imagine somebody telling Kerry that she wasn't pretty enough, she wasn't tall enough, she was too short? That's all performing is, is rejection."Washington, who is the school's arts ambassador, later said she wasn't sure how that came to be."It might have something to do with playing Olivia Pope and having a principal Pope," she joked. Olivia Pope is her character on "Scandal" and Patrick Pope is the school's principal.___Online:Turnaround Arts: http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov___Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
Dad Vows To Yank Sons Out Of Boy Scouts After Organization Drops Gay Ban
An outspoken supporter of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) ban on gay participants has vowed to withdraw his own sons out of the scouting... An outspoken supporter of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) ban on gay participants has vowed to withdraw his own sons out of the scouting organization. In an editorial for CNN, John Stemberger called the BSA's May 23 announcement that sexual orientation would be eliminated as youth membership criterion would eventually "lead to myriad bad consequences.""First, the new BSA policy is logically incoherent and morally and ethically inconsistent. The BSA had never discriminated against homosexuals," Stemberger, who is an Eagle Scout, writes. "The BSA membership application did not ask about sexual orientation, and there has never been a witch hunt in the BSA to find or remove its gay members." Before referring to the Boy Scouts as "one of the great jewels of American culture," Stemberger continues:
"Most important, the new policy robs parents of Boy Scouts, like me, of the sole authority to raise issues of sex and sexuality with their kids.Parents should have the exclusive right to raise issues about sex and sexuality with their children in their own time and in their own way, in the privacy of their homes, not brought up by other older boys around a campfire. Allowing open homosexuality injects a sensitive and highly charged political issue into the heart of the BSA, against the wishes of the vast majority of parents."You can read the rest of the editorial here. Stemberger is also president of On My Honor, which is described as "a coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting donors, Eagle Scouts and others" who are "united" in opposing "open homosexuality" in the Boy Scouts. Likely to defend Stemberger's statements is the National Organization of Marriage's (NOM) Brian Brown, who said the Boy Scouts' decision to admit openly gay Scouts would end up "sexualizing the organization." "All of this is happening not because of a true grassroots demand of gay youth to be part of the organization but by an orchestrated political effort by gay activists who want to punish any group or organization that does not embrace homosexuality," Brown wrote in a statement. "It's the beginning of the end for what once was one of America's noblest organizations."
Walker\'s \'Pants On Fire\' Claims Debunked
Amid growing speculation that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is testing GOP presidential waters in Iowa and elsewhere, progressive activists warned Thursday at a rally in... Amid growing speculation that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is testing GOP presidential waters in Iowa and elsewhere, progressive activists warned Thursday at a rally in West Des Moines that a Walker presidency would be ?terrifying" and disastrous to middle class families.
WATCH: Rare Footage Of Jackie Kennedy At Home
"I listen to one, and I get sick of it." While browsing YouTube in search of vintage clips of "The Dick Cavett Show," I somehow came across this gem: A clip from a 1957 talk show called "Home," featuring a young Jackie Kennedy. Watch above to see Jackie discuss married life with John F. Kennedy, then see her go about her "normal" every day routine. You'll also get a few glimpses of her Georgetown home. (Though our favorite moment has to be either when she drops John's shoes off at the shoemaker, or when she says that she occasionally presses his clothes, or when she lets her dog off the leash to knock over a few schoolchildren at the playground.)But here's the best part: John comes out and joins her in the interview.Check it out above -- and let's discuss. Have something to say? Check out HuffPost Home on Twitter, Facebook,
Toronto Mayor: I Don\'t Smoke Crack
TORONTO -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denies that he smokes crack cocaine and says he is not an addict after a video purported to show... TORONTO -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denies that he smokes crack cocaine and says he is not an addict after a video purported to show him using the drug. Ford did not say whether he has ever used the drug.Close allies released a letter Friday urging the mayor to address a purported video that apparently shows him smoking crack cocaine. Ford has been ducking the media and his only comments on the scandal came last Friday, a day after the story broke, when he called the crack smoking allegations "ridiculous" and said that the Toronto Star was out to get him.The alleged video has not been released publicly and its authenticity has not been verified. Reports on gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who said they had sold the drug to Ford.
Mohamed A. El-Erian: Revolution 2.0 -- How One Google Exec + Facebook Sparked An Uprising in Egypt
Allow me please to take you back for a moment to the beginning of 2011. Remember how surprised the world was that, in just 18 days, a leaderless grass-root uprising managed to topple the Mubarak regime that had ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years? Allow me please to take you back for a moment to the beginning of 2011. Remember how surprised the world was that, in just 18 days, a leaderless grass-root uprising managed to topple the Mubarak regime that had ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years?Much has been written since then about the causes of the January 25 Revolution. But nothing has come anywhere close to what is provided by this wonderful book, Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power. It appeared last year and I deeply regret having waited so long to read it. Having said that, this backward-looking book did provide important insights on Egypt's current situation and what may lie ahead.Written by the now-famous Google executive and accidental revolutionary Wael Ghonim, the book provides you with an amazing birds' eye view of the build-up to the uprising and its successful conversion into a force for democracy, social justice and respect for human rights -- or, to use the inspiring revolutionary chant, "bread, freedom and human dignity."By his own well-written account, Ghonim was neither brilliant at school nor a great rebel. He was, however, an intensely focused and determined individual who was eager to question and did not readily take no for an answer.At first, he grew up absorbing the culture of fear that had infiltrated virtually every aspect of Egyptian life. But, unlike millions of his countrywomen and countrymen, he had one advantage: he was very tech savvy, incredibly curious and able to combine an understanding and respect for his culture with access to insights from the outside world.Ghonim's interest in politics and the changes that it can bring to society started early. But his real moment of consequential political awakening came a little later.In 2010, Ghonim saw for the first time the photo of Khaled Said, a young Egyptian tortured and murdered by members of the then-State Security forces. The book describes vividly how tears came pouring out as he stared at Said's badly-disfigured face on the Internet. Awakened and shaken, he launched a Facebook page honoring the young man and seeking justice for him, as well as for many others who had suffered unduly at the hand of the Ministry of Interior.Calling it "Kullena Khaled Said" (or We are all Khaled Said), Ghonim was taken aback initially by the popularity of his Facebook page. Somewhat timidly at first, and hesitant to venture near the lime light, he intensely worked behind the scenes to mobilize the many young Egyptians who were angry at a regime that did not respect them, and felt alienated in a country that was being run for the benefit of the privileged few.Drawing a page from Ghandi's non-violence philosophy, the page organized a series of peaceful "Silent Stands" to protest police brutality. The movement captured the interest of the disgruntled young and activists, and it secured their loyalty by engaging them in surveys, encouraging a high level of interactions on the page, and essentially reinventing crowd sourcing and decision-making -- all of which is documented in a fascinating way in this fast-moving book.As important, if not more, the page administered by Ghonim and Abdelrahman Mansour (who joined the page on its third day as the second admin) achieved something that many thought improbable if not impossible: Encouraging an increasing number of young Egyptian to believe that they stood a chance at regaining a claim on their country and its destiny. In the process, they started gradually overcoming multiple barriers of fear that, both explicitly and implicitly, had relegated them to just impotent and frustrated observers. No longer were they willing to accept, as Ghomin self-reflected at the time, "the fact that I'm so insignificant that my fate can be decided by a government, or State Security, or a police force."Bolstered by the success of the popular uprising in Tunisia a few days earlier, Ghonim took the brave step of calling for a revolution on January 25 -- the spontaneous popular uprising that served as THE catalyst for the millions of Egyptians that subsequently took to the streets of cities and villages to topple the Mubarak regime in a largely-peaceful, determined and previously-unthinkable manner.The revolution that started on January 25 was about citizens keen to overcome "torture, corruption, injustice and unemployment." They sought to hold more accountable a government that treated Egypt like a "piece of property that can be divided among a few" while the rest "sit and watch." They came from all social classes, religions and backgrounds. And most of them were demonstrating for the first time in their lives. In the process, they gave credence to the view that "Egyptians are capable of the impossible if they stand united."As the saying goes, the rest is history -- that is before you internalize the book's unique ability to take you behind the scenes.After readers are taken along a suspenseful buildup to January 25, Ghonim shares with us in a disarmingly humble way what he went through in prison while millions around the world watched the crowds gather in Tahrir (Liberation) Square demanding representation, freedom, dignity and justice.Arrested on January 27, Ghonim is beaten, interrogated and psychologically tortured by State Security forces frantically trying to understand the rapidly-changing situation in the street, including the role that social media is playing. Blindfolded for most of his 12 day arrest, he emerged from prison unaware of what had transpired on the streets and in the media.Shortly after his release, Ghonim agrees to appear on a live television show. After speaking about his motivations and aspirations for Egypt, he broke down in tears when told of fellow citizens who had died at the hands of thugs seeking to regain the streets for the Mubarak regime. He gets particularly emotional and leaves the set after being shown the picture of yet another young person "who had dreamed of change and paid for it with his life, only two months after his wedding."Ghomin's genuine and unanticipated behavior ended up by breathing enormous life and excitement at a critical time -- when, having already secured concessions from Mubarak and achieved much more than anyone had dared imagined at first, a tiring revolutionary movement was starting to lose momentum and was facing a mounting risk of fragmentation. Energized by the frankness, humanity and vulnerability of Ghonim, the movement regained its composure, triumphantly completing the final mile.I have read many writings on the Egyptian revolution. However, until "Revolution 2.0," none of them -- whether individually or collectively -- gave me such a feel for the heart and soul of the millions of unknown young Egyptians who stood up and delivered the unthinkable. And with this wonderful book having provided me a unique context, I found myself going back to the Internet to rewatch with greater appreciation the videos from 2011.In the last two years, the exuberance of beneficial change has given way to the complicated reality of another difficult revolutionary transition: that of pivoting from dismantling a repressive past to building a better future. With Egypt still lacking institutions, leaders a la Nelson Mandela and political unity -- and with the economy and social contracts pressured under the weight of unemployment, poverty, inflation and deficits -- many are concerned that the energy of the revolution could now be channeled into sectarian violence.I too am worried -- very worried -- by the stumbles of the last two years. Each of them makes the immediate future more uncertain and the subsequent recovery more challenging. Yet, having observed and studied many country transitions over the last 30 years, I do not share the pessimism and cynicism about Egypt's longer-term future.Politically awakened and now feeling that they legitimately secured a claim on their country's future, the Egyptian youth will not stand by and see their revolution hijacked. And having learned from the slips of traditional political setups and unreformed institutions, it is just a matter of time until the experience and sophistication of Egypt's youth are translated into a new political force for economic revival, social justice and mutual respect.Meanwhile, after the fall of the Mubarak regime, Ghonim stuck to his statements that he wanted "no public position or reward." He took a leave of absence from Google and, using the proceeds of the book, founded an NGO seeking to improve access to education.Once again, his shrewd use of technology is breaking down walls that imprison millions of Egyptians who have fallen hostage to poor curriculums, stretched teachers and tiresome methods of teaching. And -- once more -- he is not dissuaded by arguments that the challenge is too big and too complex.Yet again Ghonim moves forward against considerable odds. Just look at the early success he is having with "Tahrir Academy," an initiative that provides access to educational content to all Egyptians, and helps particularly the most vulnerable segments of society. Once again he is doing so in a manner that engages a growing number of people to address a common problem that was once deemed to be impenetrable and overwhelming.
Robert Reich: Why Democrats Can\'t Be Trusted to Control Wall Street
All these men are honorable. None has broken any law. But they and their ilk in congress -- the Democrats who are now rolling back Dodd-Frank -- don't seem to appreciate the extent to which Wall Street has harmed, and continues to harm, America. Who needs Republicans when Wall Street has the Democrats? With the help of congressional Democrats, the Street is rolling back financial reforms enacted after its near meltdown.According to the New York Times, a bill that's already moved through the House Financial Services Committee, allowing more of the very kind of derivatives trading (bets on bets) that got the Street into trouble, was drafted by Citigroup -- whose recommended language was copied nearly word for word in 70 lines of the 85-line bill.Where were House Democrats? Right behind it. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, a major recipient of the Street's political largesse, co-sponsored it. Most of the Democrats on the Committee, also receiving generous donations from the big banks, voted for it. Rep. Jim Himes, another proponent of the bill and a former banker at Goldman Sachs, now leads the Democrat's fund-raising effort in the House.Bob Rubin -- co-chair of Goldman before he joined the Clinton White House, and chair of Citigroup's management committee after he left it -- is still influential in the Party, and his protégés are all over the Obama administration. I like Bob personally but I battled his Street-centric views the whole time I served, and soon after I left the administration he persuaded Clinton to support a repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.Jack Lew, Obama's current Treasury Secretary, was chief operating officer of Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit, a proprietary trading group, from 2006 to 2008, before he joined the Obama administration. Peter Orszag, Obama's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, left the Obama Administration to become Citigroup's vice chairman of corporate and investment banking, and chairman of the financial strategy and solutions group.All these men are honorable. None has broken any law. But they and their ilk in congress -- the Democrats who are now rolling back Dodd-Frank -- don't seem to appreciate the extent to which Wall Street has harmed, and continues to harm, America.It's not entirely coincidental that the Obama administration never put tough conditions on banks receiving bailout money, never prosecuted a single top Wall Street executive for the excesses that led to the near meltdown, and still refuses to support a tiny tax on financial transactions that would bring in tens of billions of dollars as well as discourage program trading.Democrats can't be trusted to control Wall Street. If there were ever an issue ripe for a third party, the Street would be it.ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage," now available in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.
Ben Veghte: Rep. David Cicilline Is Right About Social Security, PolitiFact Was Wrong (Again)
PolitiFact's judgment of Rep. Cicilline's statement as "Mostly False" demonstrates a lack of understanding of Social Security that would preclude most journalists from presuming to judge the truth of others' statements on the issue. U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is right: the share of wages in the economy covered by Social Security has declined in recent decades from 90 to 83 percent due to rising wage inequality. Moreover, raising the Social Security tax cap (currently $113,700) to its historic level would go far in shoring up the program's long-term finances.On May 13, 2013 on WPRI's "Newsmakers," Rep. Cicilline responded to a question about how to improve Social Security's finances by stating:
Social Security used to be a tax which was assessed on approximately 90 percent of the income generated in this country, which was sort of where it has been historically. It currently collects taxes on about 83 percent of wages earned, because the cap ... only captures 83 percent of earnings, because there's been such a growth of income at the very top.PolitiFact Rhode Island judged the Congressman's statement to be "Mostly False." Let's consider the facts. When Social Security was originally introduced by Congress, the cap to its contribution base was set at a level that covered more than 90 percent of earnings in the economy - 92 percent in 1937, the first year that Social Security contributions were collected. In the decades that followed, the share of covered earnings declined into the 70-80 percent range -- not by design, but by the simple operation of wage growth and inflation. In the 1977 Social Security Amendments, Congress consciously decided that the cap should again cover 90 percent of wages, and took explicit steps to restore and maintain it at that historic level. The House Ways and Means Committee report accompanying the 1977 Amendments explained: The "... bill provides for increasing the contribution and benefit base... to a level where about 90 percent of all payroll in covered employment would be taxable for social security purposes." The Social Security Bulletin article reporting on the 1977 Amendments expressed Congress's legislative intent similarly: "In 1981 and after, about 91 percent of all payroll in covered employment will be taxable for social security purposes. ... In comparison, the ... base provided for in the original social security law taxed nearly 93 percent of all payroll in 1938 ..." In the 1977 Amendments, Congress not only restored the cap to its historic level; to ensure that the cap would remain around the 90 percent level going forward, it also automatically indexed the new cap to growth in average wages. However, despite Congress' legislative intent, the share of earnings in the economy covered by the cap has declined from 90 percent in 1983 to about 83 percent today, due to the fact that since 1983, income above the cap has grown much faster than income below the cap. The nation's top experts on Social Security -- e.g. Nancy Altman, Eric Kingson, Henry Aaron, Virginia Reno, Peter Orszag and Peter Diamond, and many others -- agree on these facts. In short, Rep. Cicilline's statement was not inaccurate or unfounded; rather, it demonstrated an impressive command of the issue. Politifact could find nothing untrue in what the Congressman said. Both the percentages he cited and his larger argument were correct. With an apparent zeal to find something to criticize, they added their own assumption to the Congressman's statement of fact. They assume that in his statement that Social Security used to be a tax which was assessed on "approximately 90 percent of the income generated in this country... which was sort of where it has been historically," he was stating that the share of covered wages has averaged 90 percent from 1937 to the present. That is the worst of bootstrap arguments, the opposite of correcting the record: claim someone says something he did not, and then find the misinterpretation to be false. The Congressman is completely correct that in the two key moments in Social Security's history when Congress acted to consciously set the cap, it chose to set it just above 90 percent of earnings. His statement was one hundred percent correct. Rather than misinterpreting his words, he should be congratulated -- certainly given the benefit of the doubt -- for having such a keen understanding of the issue that he could respond to a question in a live interview so thoughtfully.PolitiFact has a reputation for misunderstanding Social Security, for example in their judgment of Rep. Mark Pocan's statement that Social Security doesn't add to the deficit as "Mostly False." Experts have had to correct PolitiFact on this issue multiple times, as for example Nancy Altman and Stephen Gorin did last December. Members of Congress have had to fact-check PolitiFact on this issue as well. Moreover, PolitiFact has been called out numerous times for judging factually true statements to be less than fully true on the basis of interpretations and assumptions that PolitiFact's staff themselves make. Media Matters, Paul Krugman, and others have called PolitiFact out for this, and Rachel Maddow has found their malfeasance so grave that she argues that by calling themselves a fact-checking organization, PolitiFact is undermining the definition of the word "fact" in the English language. PolitiFact's judgment of Rep. Cicilline's statement as "Mostly False" demonstrates a lack of understanding of Social Security that would preclude most journalists from presuming to judge the truth of others' statements on the issue. Rep. Cicilline's response was insightful and accurate. It reflected a profound understanding of Social Security's history, the legislative intent behind the program, and the causes of its long-term shortfall. Though just beginning his second term in Congress, the Congressman has established himself as a respected leader on Social Security policy. The important thing is that Rep. Cicilline is standing with the vast majority of the American people and leading the charge against the chained CPI benefit cut with a House Resolution already signed by 100 members that rejects the chained CPI benefit cut. Take a moment to thank Rep. David Cicilline by contacting your Representative and asking them to join his resolution and reject the chained CPI benefit cut.
Press Freedom Groups Demand Explanation For DOJ\'s Actions
More than sixty organizations signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday, demanding a "full, transparent" explanation for the Justice Department's secret probe... More than sixty organizations signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday, demanding a "full, transparent" explanation for the Justice Department's secret probe into journalists. The Obama administration has come under fire in recent weeks over revelations that the DOJ secretly obtained months of phone records at the Associated Press, and targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen's email account. Rosen was furthermore labeled a "co-conspirator" in leaking classified information ? a move that risks criminalizing journalism. Free Press, a media reform advocacy group, and other organizations ? including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Committee to Protect Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists and Writers Guild of America, East ? blasted the DOJ for setting "a dangerous precedent" in a letter to Holder. The letter read:
Your actions have threatened press freedom ? and endangered the health of our democracy. As groups working to strengthen democratic institutions and foster more open government, we are deeply concerned that your agency?s actions will hinder efforts to make government more transparent and accountable to the public.It also called for the DOJ to "explain its overreach in this matter," and to stop targeting journalists. Click over to Free Press for the full text. The letter comes just a little over a week after media outlets protested the DOJ in another letter to Holder. Fifty-two media organizations ? including the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek/Daily Beast, Politico, Time Inc., Gannett and Reuters America ? expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with the Justice Department's actions last week.
Ex-Guatemalan President Extradited To U.S. On Money Laundering Charges
GUATEMALA CITY — Ex-Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was extradited on Friday to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million in Guatemalan funds... GUATEMALA CITY — Ex-Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was extradited on Friday to the United States to face charges of laundering $70 million in Guatemalan funds through U.S. bank accounts.The former president was taken from a military hospital where he was recovering from liver surgery and a heart condition and put on a plane, according to his lawyer Mauricio Berreondo. He said the plane was bound for New York after a stop in Miami. "I blame the government for what could happen to him," Berreondo said. "Portillo is sick and there are several pending appeals."He said one appeal had to do with establishing the state of Portillo's health.Portillo, who was Guatemala's president from 2000-2004, was taken out of the hospital on orders of Interior Secretary Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, Borreondo said.An Associated Press reporter saw a small white jet carrying Portillo dressed in a black sweatshirt take off late morning local time."This decision is an important affirmation of the rule of law and due process in Guatemala," the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala said in a statement. "We commend the Guatemalan authorities in the strengthening of rule of law and the fight against organized crime and corruption."Portillo was turned over to U.S. authorities in the same week that the high court threw out a genocide conviction in another high-profile case against an ex-president, former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. That decision that has been widely questioned and criticized, including in the United States.Guatemala has been struggling to build a credible justice system, including with the help of a U.N.-sanctioned team of international prosecutors.For Oscar Vasquez, director of the non-governmental organization Citizen Action, Portillo's extradition shows the difficulties the country's justice system is facing."As in the case of genocide in Guatemala, the justice system shows signs of chaos, confusion and disorder, given that we no longer know who is right, the state for extraditing him or his defense lawyers," Vasquez said."It seems that we are left to rely on the justice of others," he added referring to the United States.In the U.S. case, Portillo allegedly deposited the money in Miami and transferred it to a Paris account in the name of his ex-wife and daughter.Guatemala's highest court upheld the extradition last August after it was granted by former President Alvaro Colom as he left office in 2011.Portillo has called the proceedings a political reprisal by powerful Guatemalan businessmen and the U.S. government for not bending to their interests. He has also said the court agreeing to his extradition constitutes a violation of his human rights.Upon leaving office in 2004, Portillo fled to Mexico, where he began working as a financial adviser for a construction materials company.He was extradited from Mexico to Guatemala in 2008 to face embezzlement charges at home.Portillo was found not guilty in 2011 in Guatemala of charges that he stole $15 million from the country's Defense Department during his presidency.In 2010, police captured Portillo at a beach preparing to flee Guatemala by boat, a day after U.S. authorities charged him with laundering money.While running for president in Guatemala in 1999, Portillo acknowledged he had killed two of his former students while a professor in the Mexican state of Guerrero in 1982.He said the killings were in self-defense and he fled the state because he could not get a fair trial. The case has since been closed, and he can no longer be charged in those killings.
Michael B. Keegan: We Have the Most Conservative Supreme Court in Decades. Why Do Americans Think It\'s Liberal?
While the Supreme Court and lower federal courts continue to drive to the right, many Americans, strangely, have come to believe that the courts tilt to the left. This misperception of the federal judiciary, and especially the Supreme Court, is no fluke. In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has turned corporate treasuries into campaign slush funds for CEOs, demolished campaign finance laws, aided and abetted pay discrimination, made it much harder for consumers and workers to file class action lawsuits against corporations that have cheated them, and kindly delivered the White House to one lucky Republican from Texas. Study after study has found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts and his predecessor William Rehnquist has swerved hard to the right, systematically favoring corporate interests over workers, consumers and voters -- to a shocking extent. So why does a plurality of Americans still think that the Supreme Court leans to the left? A new poll from Public Policy Polling finds that 36 percent of Americans believe the Supreme Court is "too liberal," compared with just 30 percent who find it "too conservative" and 29 percent who think it's ideologically "about right." The poll highlights a problem that has long plagued progressives who care about the courts: while the Supreme Court and lower federal courts continue to drive to the right, many Americans, strangely, have come to believe that the courts tilt to the left. This misperception of the federal judiciary, and especially the Supreme Court, is no fluke. It is the residue of more than a half-century of propaganda by the right labeling the Supreme Court a bastion of runaway liberal judicial activists who supersede the will of the people to impose their own views on innocent Americans. This campaign began with "massive resistance" to landmark civil rights and civil liberties decisions of the Warren Court, most notably Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which desegregated the schools and prompted an "impeach Earl Warren" movement; Engel v. Vitale (1962), which struck down compulsory prayer in the schools and was blamed for the moral downfall of America; and Miranda v. Arizona (1966), which gave people basic rights in encounters with the police and was decried as "pro-criminal." The campaign against the Court intensified with the response to Roe v. Wade (1973), which recognized the reproductive rights of women as a matter of constitutional privacy but has been depicted ever since by the right as the epitome of illegitimate judicial activism. The movement to turn the clock back on civil rights and civil liberties in the courts has continued for decades and been bolstered by the Chamber of Commerce and big business, which want to see the federal judiciary enshrine new constitutional rights for corporations while dismantling public regulation. In recent decades, right-wing leaders have worked in popular culture to attack the courts as a liberal peril while successfully organizing to dominate and control legal institutions to create courts that no longer look out for the rights of all Americans. They have set up law schools and legal societies to promote corporate and right-wing commitments, have promoted the appointment of reactionary judges and Justices, blocked the appointment of even moderate jurists, and defined a legal agenda that subordinates individual rights to government power and public regulation to corporate power. Right-wing success in remaking the judiciary in the image of the Republican Party has not led conservatives to curb their bitter attack on "liberal judicial activism," a fantasy that is several decades out of date but indispensable to this smoke-and-mirrors operation. Without mass education by progressives to reclaim the public narrative about the courts, popular illusions about the nature of our right-wing judiciary will persist. A perfect example of public confusion is the reaction to the Supreme Court's narrow decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice Roberts' decisive vote to uphold the law was hailed on the left and seen as a stunning betrayal on the right. But what got little attention was how conservative the logic of the decision to uphold the ACA really was. While the final outcome was good news for progressives, Roberts' opinion laid the groundwork for severely restricting the ability of the federal government to solve national problems under the Commerce Clause -- harkening back to the gilded-age Lochner Era, when the Supreme Court routinely struck down regulatory protections for ordinary Americans. The left needs to wake up. PPP found that less than half of Democrats recognized the conservative leaning of the Supreme Court. As the Supreme Court's blockbuster decisions on marriage equality, voting rights and affirmative action come down this spring we may have some reasons to celebrate and others to mourn. But we will doubtless be reminded again that Supreme Court decisions often have much less to do with evolving legal theory than with which president appointed the Justices. Conservatives know this and liberals need to wake up to it as well. Four decades into conservative control of the Supreme Court (through the Burger, Rehnquist and Roberts Courts), and well into President Obama's second term, conservatives still promote the absurd story that the Supreme Court and judiciary are "liberal." We must do everything we can to correct the record and dispel the lingering false impressions left by decades of strategic disinformation.
Ohio School District Considers Teaching Creationism
The Springboro, Ohio, school board is currently considering a proposal that would allow the district to teach creationism, despite objections from the American Civil Liberties... The Springboro, Ohio, school board is currently considering a proposal that would allow the district to teach creationism, despite objections from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and local parents.The issue, which was discussed at Thursday night?s board meeting, is part of a larger proposal that would open up a variety of controversial issues for classroom discussion. According to the proposal, ?[s]ex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change and sustainable development? would be considered suitable classroom topics, reports local news outlet WHIO-TV. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sent a letter asking the district to drop the proposal that would ?advance creationism in the classroom." ?When public schools teach their preferred religious ideology as fact, it sends a message that the school supports one religion over all others. This threatens the religious freedom of everyone,? ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Drew Dennis said in the letter.The letter also noted the district's unsuccessful proposal to teach creationism in 2011. That plan was scrapped due to public pressure. According to the Dayton Daily News, parents who attended the school board meeting urged officials to abandon the new proposal. ?We?re being defined by our issues and not our accomplishments,? said Lynn Greenberg, a local parent who feels the district's attempts to teach creationism distracts from students? education. However, school board member Jim Rigano told the outlet that he thought teaching creationism would help the district ?ensure we?re not indoctrinating one point of view or another.? The board will vote on the proposal in early June, reports local outlet WKRC-TV.
Report: DoJ Fought To Keep Fox News Warrant Secret
The Obama Administration fought to keep a search warrant for James Rosen's private e-mail account secret, arguing to a federal judge that the government might... The Obama Administration fought to keep a search warrant for James Rosen's private e-mail account secret, arguing to a federal judge that the government might need to monitor the account for a lengthy period of time.
Government Really, Really Thought James Rosen Was A Criminal
If people needed any more evidence that the Justice Department explicitly considered James Rosen's everyday reporting to be tantamount to criminal activity, they were given... If people needed any more evidence that the Justice Department explicitly considered James Rosen's everyday reporting to be tantamount to criminal activity, they were given that evidence on Friday.The news that the Obama administration fought to be able to access Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails over a long period of time underscores just how much the DOJ latched onto the theory that Rosen was a potential criminal.Rosen was targeted by the DOJ for his communication with State Department adviser Stephen Kim, who allegedly leaked him information about North Korea's nuclear program. The DOJ infamously labeled Rosen a "co-conspirator" for his attempts to get the information from Kim. Rosen's personal emails were searched, and the records of five different phone lines used by Fox News were also surveilled. On Thursday, it emerged that Attorney General Eric Holder had personally signed off on the Rosen warrant.President Obama said on Thursday that he worried the investigations would chill national security and investigative journalism, and that reporters should not be prosecuted for "doing their jobs." But his Justice Department apparently did not know this.The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reported Friday that DOJ officials sought to keep the search warrant for Rosen's emails secret so that it could continue to monitor them at length. Lizza quoted Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC, who wrote in a court filing that emails are often evidence of an ongoing criminal conspiracy:
E-mails, Machen wrote, ?are commonly used by subjects or targets of the criminal investigation at issue, and the e-mail evidence derived from those compelled disclosures frequently forms the core of the Government?s evidence supporting criminal charges.?He argued that disclosure of the search warrant would preclude the government from monitoring the account, should such a step become necessary in the investigation. Machen added that ?some investigations are continued for many years because, while the evidence is not yet sufficient to bring charges, it is sufficient to have identified criminal subjects and/or criminal activity serious enough to justify continuation of the investigation.?The "criminal subject" in this case is Rosen.
McConnell, Paul Gang Up On GOP
WASHINGTON -- They began as sworn enemies and later made peace as allies of convenience. Now Kentucky's two Republican senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul,... WASHINGTON -- They began as sworn enemies and later made peace as allies of convenience. Now Kentucky's two Republican senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have developed a working relationship that serves their mutual interests (at the moment), but which is threatening to tear the GOP apart in the U.S. Senate.The symbol and operational center of their relationship is an unassuming but effective political operative who now lives in Louisville, Ky. Jesse Benton, a veteran of grassroots organizing and Washington consulting, straddles the Republicans' Tea Party vs. Establishment fault line -- a line that seems increasingly to be shifting in the tea party direction.Benton's resume tells the story. He was spokesman for Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2008, was campaign manager in Kentucky for son Rand Paul's winning Senate campaign in 2010, returned to run the father's presidential campaign in 2012, and now serves as campaign manager for McConnell's 2014 bid for a sixth term.And there is more to come. While working for McConnell, Benton keeps an eye on the larval stages of Rand Paul's bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Paul has made scouting trips to Iowa and New Hampshire and fundraising forays around the country.The objective of the Benton nexus is as clear as the water in a bluegrass stream: to use the Paul family's tea party ties to ensure that McConnell faces no significant primary opposition in Kentucky (opposition of the kind that Rand Paul himself provided McConnell's handpicked Senate candidate in 2010). In exchange for which, Senate Minority Leader McConnell will guard Paul's flank in Washington and bless him -- if not outright endorse him -- for 2016."There is no quid pro quo," Benton told me in an interview in Louisville earlier this month. "But the hope is that Mitch, having worked with Rand and seen him at close range, will tell the establishment guys that Rand is a good guy and a guy they can work with."Ironically, the deepening Kentucky ties are causing friction elsewhere -- in the Senate.For example, McConnell, as a floor leader, five-term senator and certified member of the party establishment, might be expected to side with the traditionalists against a tea party effort to dictate how senators can negotiate with their House counterparts over a new budget. GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine) see it as a harsh and unprecedented move.But McConnell is siding with a tough-talking rejectionist front of tea party activists that includes not only Paul but Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Mike Lee (Utah).McConnell spokesman Don Stewart blamed Democrats for his boss's stance, arguing that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is using a procedural maneuver that would diminish Republicans' power to stop the budget in a final floor vote.The specifics of McConnell's position on this arcane matter are less important than the identity of the man he is teaming up with: Paul.As of now, McConnell has no serious GOP opposition at home. And if he and Rand Paul have anything to say, it'll stay that way.