Webmaster Search Engine

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Island DIY: Kauai residents don't wait for state to repair road

By Mallory Simon

(CNN) -- Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii's Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park -- for free.

Volunteers bring in a heavy crane for work on a bridge to Polihale State Park on Kauai last month.

Volunteers bring in a heavy crane for work on a bridge to Polihale State Park on Kauai last month.

Polihale State Park has been closed since severe flooding destroyed an access road to the park and damaged facilities in December.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had estimated that the damage would cost $4 million to fix, money the agency doesn't have, according to a news release from department Chairwoman Laura Thielen.

"It would not have been open this summer, and it probably wouldn't be open next summer," said Bruce Pleas, a local surfer who helped organize the volunteers. "They said it would probably take two years. And with the way they are cutting funds, we felt like they'd never get the money to fix it."

And if the repairs weren't made, some business owners faced the possibility of having to shut down.

Ivan Slack, co-owner of Napali Kayak, said his company relies solely on revenue from kayak tours and needs the state park to be open to operate. The company jumped in and donated resources because it knew that without the repairs, Napali Kayak would be in financial trouble.

"If the park is not open, it would be extreme for us, to say the least," he said. "Bankruptcy would be imminent. How many years can you be expected to continue operating, owning 15-passenger vans, $2 million in insurance and a staff? For us, it was crucial, and our survival was dependent on it. That park is the key to the sheer survival of the business."

So Slack, other business owners and residents made the decision not to sit on their hands and wait for state money that many expected would never come. Instead, they pulled together machinery and manpower and hit the ground running March 23.

And after only eight days, all of the repairs were done, Pleas said. It was a shockingly quick fix to a problem that may have taken much longer if they waited for state money to funnel in.

"We can wait around for the state or federal government to make this move, or we can go out and do our part," Slack said. "Just like everyone's sitting around waiting for a stimulus check, we were waiting for this but decided we couldn't wait anymore."

Thielen has been waiting, too. She wants the legislature to approve her Recreation Renaissance project, a $240 million booster shot to help fix parks across the state. Without it, at least five state parks may be forced to close, and there would be no emergency repair money to fix Polihale State Park.

"We shouldn't have to do this, but when it gets to a state level, it just gets so bureaucratic, something that took us eight days would have taken them years," said Troy Martin of Martin Steel, who donated machinery and steel for the repairs. "So we got together -- the community -- and we got it done."

The park is a fixture on the west side of the island and a favorite spot for many in the area, but it's also a hub for tourists.

"Tourism is our lifeblood. It's what pays all of our bills," Slack said. "The money that pours in comes from tourism is really an important factor for everyone here in Hawaii, and it's such an important time to encourage tourism."

And it's an important time to keep jobs, which were threatened if the park had to remain closed. In February, Kauai's unemployment rate was at 9.1 percent, up from 2.8 percent during the same time in 2008, according to Hawaii's Department of Labor.

"I think it's crucial to say the doors are open, everyone is ready," Slack said. "So when one of the most important parks in Hawaii is closed, it really changes things."

Now, because of their hard work, volunteers hope they'll be ready to send that positive message -- right in time for the tourist season.

Slack said he likes to have business up and running by April 15, and the season gets busy around May 1.

The business owners and residents are hopeful that their generous contributions in time and resources mean the park should officially open soon. Pleas says they have only to get the new bridge certified and do minor cleanup.

"A lot of people are quietly sitting by, waiting for it to open," Slack said. "This really this is one of the nicest parks in the state and in all of Hawaii, in the entire state parks department. Now, hopefully, those people get their wish."

Original here

Obama to Push Immigration Bill as One Priority

By JULIA PRESTON

Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, center, has been visiting churches to build support for a bill.

While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama will frame the new effort — likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue — as “policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system,” said the official, Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.

Some White House officials said that immigration would not take precedence over the health care and energy proposals that Mr. Obama has identified as priorities. But the timetable is consistent with pledges Mr. Obama made to Hispanic groups in last year’s campaign.

He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election.

“He intends to start the debate this year,” Ms. Muñoz said.

But with the economy seriously ailing, advocates on different sides of the debate said that immigration could become a polarizing issue for Mr. Obama in a year when he has many other major battles to fight.

Opponents, mainly Republicans, say they will seek to mobilize popular outrage against any effort to legalize unauthorized immigrant workers while so many Americans are out of jobs.

Democratic legislative aides said that opening a full-fledged debate this year on immigration, particularly with health care as a looming priority, could weigh down the president’s domestic agenda.

Debate is still under way among administration officials about the precise timing and strategy. For example, it is unclear who will take up the Obama initiative in Congress.

No serious legislative talks on the issue are expected until after some of Mr. Obama’s other priorities have been debated, Congressional aides said.

Just last month, Mr. Obama openly recognized that immigration is a potential minefield.

"I know this is an emotional issue; I know it’s a controversial issue,” he told an audience at a town meeting on March 18 in Costa Mesa, Calif. “I know that the people get real riled up politically about this."

But, he said, immigrants who are long-time residents but lack legal status “have to have some mechanism over time to get out of the shadows.”

The White House is calculating that public support for fixing the immigration system, which is widely acknowledged to be broken, will outweigh opposition from voters who argue that immigrants take jobs from Americans. A groundswell among voters opposed to legal status for illegal immigrants led to the defeat in 2007 of a bipartisan immigration bill that was strongly supported by President George W. Bush.

Administration officials said that Mr. Obama’s plan would not add new workers to the American work force, but that it would recognize millions of illegal immigrants who have already been working here. Despite the deep recession, there is no evidence of any wholesale exodus of illegal immigrant workers, independent studies of census data show.

Opponents of legalization legislation were incredulous at the idea that Mr. Obama would take on immigration when economic pain for Americans is so widespread.

“It just doesn’t seem rational that any political leader would say, let’s give millions of foreign workers permanent access to U.S. jobs when we have millions of Americans looking for jobs,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that favors reduced immigration. Mr. Beck predicted that Mr. Obama would face “an explosion” if he proceeded this year.

“It’s going to be, ‘You’re letting them keep that job, when I could have that job,’ ” he said.

In broad outlines, officials said, the Obama administration favors legislation that would bring illegal immigrants into the legal system by recognizing that they violated the law, and imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense. The legislation would seek to prevent future illegal immigration by strengthening border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, while creating a national system for verifying the legal immigration status of new workers.

But administration officials emphasized that many details remained to be debated.

Opponents of a legalization effort said that if the Obama administration maintained the enforcement pressure initiated by Mr. Bush, the recession would force many illegal immigrants to return home. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said it would be “politically disastrous” for Mr. Obama to begin an immigration initiative at this time.

Anticipating opposition, Mr. Obama has sought to shift some of the political burden to advocates for immigrants, by encouraging them to build support among voters for when his proposal goes to Congress.

That is why Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, a Democrat from Mr. Obama’s hometown, Chicago, has been on the road most weekends since last December, traveling far outside his district to meetings in Hispanic churches, hoping to generate something like a civil rights movement in favor of broad immigration legislation.

Mr. Gutierrez was in Philadelphia on Saturday at the Iglesia Internacional, a big Hispanic evangelical church in a former warehouse, the 17th meeting in a tour that has included cities as far flung as Providence, R.I.; Atlanta; Miami; and San Francisco. Greeted with cheers and amens by a full house of about 350 people, Mr. Gutierrez, shifting fluidly between Spanish and English, called for immigration policies to preserve family unity, the strategic theme of his campaign.

At each meeting, speakers from the community, mainly citizens, tell stories of loved ones who were deported or of delays and setbacks in the immigration system. Illegal immigrants have not been invited to speak.

Mr. Gutierrez’s meetings have all been held in churches, both evangelical and Roman Catholic, with clergy members from various denominations, including in several places Muslim imams. At one meeting in Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, officiated.

One speaker on Saturday, Jill Flores, said that her husband, Felix, an immigrant from Mexico who crossed the border illegally, had applied for legal status five years ago but had not been able to gain it even though she is an American citizen, as are their two children. Now, Ms. Flores said, she fears that her husband will have to leave for Mexico and will not be permitted to return for many years.

In an interview, Mr. Gutierrez rejected the idea that the timing is bad for an immigration debate. “There is never a wrong time for us,” he said. “Families are being divided and destroyed, and they need help now.”

Original here


Did Obama bow to Saudi king? See video

A photo of President Obama apparently bowing in front of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is stirring a royal-size controversy.

The photo and a video were largely ignored by mainstream media outlets but created outrage in some quarters.

“Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer. There is no precedent for U.S. presidents bowing to Saudi or any other royals,” said the conservative Washington Times.

An Obama aide speaking anonymously denied that the president was bowing.

“It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah,” the aide was quoted as saying by Politco.com Wednesday.

That explanation was “absurd,” the conservative Weekly Standard said. And the caption attached to the Getty Images photo said the president was bowing.

The setting was world leaders mingling before their official photo at the G-20 economic summit in London on April 1.

The heads of state were being photographed with Queen Elizabeth II — to whom Obama did not bow, online commenters said.

Some on the Hot Air Web site had fun with the whole affair, offering:

— “That is how they do it in Chicago . . .”

— “He wasn’t bowing . . . he was ducking in case someone threw a shoe.”

Original here

Olbermann-“This Is Wiretap” WTF!!!

This is some very disturbing news. I first caught wind of this via The Joshua Blog. I’m too distraught so I’ll let Mr. Olbermann tell you about it.

This is really bad news folks.

Original here

Jon Stewart took on people "speaking crazy to power last night." Rep. Michele Bachmann recently said that President Obama is going to put our children in reeducation camps, and Sean Hannity congratulated her for her crusade against tyranny. Stewart followed this clip up with a litany of moves the Bush administration made to reduce American freedom, transparency, and state's rights, and said the pair were confusing "tyranny" and "losing."

But that's not all: Andrew Breitbart went on Sean Hannity's show and blamed Obama for his kids' school using the term "Potato Day" instead of "St. Patrick's Day." Stewart pointed out that this request probably didn't come from Obama himself, and that Potato Day is much more offensive than St. Patrick's Day.


WATCH:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Baracknophobia - Obey
comedycentral.com

Actor Kal Penn joins White House team

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has hired actor Kal Penn as a liaison between President Barack Obama's administration and Hollywood.

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Tuesday that the actor who has a recurring role on Fox's TV show "House" and has starred in several movies would join the staff as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison. His role will be to connect Obama with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as arts and entertainment groups.

Penn starred as Kumar in the movie, "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay."

Penn was an Obama supporter during the campaign. The White House says a start date for Penn hasn't been set.

The hire was first reported by Entertainment Weekly.

Original here

Poll: Obama Approval Hits New High - 66%

President Barack Obama gestures during his speaech to Turkish paliament on Monday, April 6, 2009, at Cankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey. (CBS)

As President Obama concludes his well-publicized trip to Europe, Americans are more positive about the respect accorded to a U.S. president than they have been in years, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Sixty-seven percent say world leaders respect Mr. Obama, while 18 percent say they do not respect the president. That's a sharp contrast to the response when this question was asked about Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, in July 2006: Just 30 percent then said the president is respected by the leaders of other countries.

Mr. Obama's overall approval rating, meanwhile, has hit a new high of 66 percent, up from 64 percent last month. His disapproval rating stands at 24 percent. Nearly all Democrats and most independents approve of the way the president is handling his job, while only 31 percent of Republicans approve.

While Americans approve of the president and believe he is respected worldwide, they do not believe the U.S. is respected by other countries in general. More than half of those surveyed - 52 percent - think the United States is not respected around the world today. Thirty-six percent say the country is respected around the world.

Still, Americans are more positive about perceptions of their country than they were in July 2007, when just 24 percent said the U.S. is respected around the world and 71 percent said it is not.



The U.S. And World Economy

Most Americans - 60 percent - agree with the argument articulated by the president at the G20 summit last week that the United States needs to work with other countries to fix the problems facing the global economy in order to fix the economic problems back home.

Thirty-seven percent disagree with the argument that the United States should be working with other countries to fix its economy. (Click here for poll data on Americans' views on trade with other countries.)

Americans remain concerned that the United States may lose its position as the world's economic leader. Nearly eight in 10 are at least somewhat concerned, including 40 percent who are very concerned.

Still, the percentage of Americans who are very concerned is down 10 points from last July.

Approval Of The President And The Country's Direction

(CBS)
President Obama's approval ratings on foreign policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy are nearly as high as his 66 percent approval rating overall.

Fifty-nine percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, and an identical percentage approve of his handling of Iraq; 58 percent approve of his handling of Afghanistan, while 56 percent approve of his handling of the economy.

Approval of the president coincides with a growing optimism about the direction in which the country is headed. Although a slight majority still thinks the country is on the wrong track, the percentage that thinks the country is now headed in the right direction has been growing steadily since Mr. Obama took office.

Thirty-nine percent now think the country is headed in the right direction, up four points from last month and 32 points from the all-time low of seven percent reached last October. Fifty-three percent say the country is on the wrong track, down from 89 percent in October.

First Lady Michelle Obama continues to be popular with many Americans. Fifty-percent view her favorably, while just 5 percent view her unfavorably.

Afghanistan And Iraq:

(AP Photo/Allahuddin Khan)
President Obama’s second stop on his trip to Europe was the NATO summit meeting in France, much of which focused on the alliance's first military mission outside of Europe - the war in Afghanistan.

In December 2001, following the U.S. invasion there, 93 percent of Americans thought the war there was going well. In March 2003, the numbers had declined somewhat, but 76 percent still thought the war was going well.

Now, however, only 36 percent of Americans think the war in Afghanistan is going well, and most (52 percent) think it is going badly.

Americans are divided as to whether or not the U.S. should send more troops to Afghanistan, something Mr. Obama has announced he plans to do. Thirty-nine percent of Americans think U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan should be increased, but 33 percent think they should be decreased - up from 24 percent in February.

Eighteen percent say U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan should remain the same.

Those who think things are going badly in Afghanistan are divided about what should be done: 40 percent say troop levels should be increased, while 38 percent say they should be decreased.

Americans are far more optimistic about the situation in Iraq than they are the war in Afghanistan. Sixty-two percent say things are going well there, up from 22 percent in June 2007. Thirty percent say things in Iraq are going badly.

More findings from the poll:

  • Almost three-quarters of Americans think it is a good idea to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year. In fact, two-thirds of Americans think the tax code should be changed so that middle-class Americans pay less than they do now and "upper income" people pay more. (Read more here.)


  • Fewer than half support the Obama administration's recent plans for either the auto or banking industries - though there is more support for the administration’s proposals for automakers.
    (Read more here.)


  • Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they are willing to pay higher taxes in order to provide all Americans with health care coverage. While seventy three percent of Democrats favor a tax increase to fund coverage, only 29 percent of Republicans back such a move. (Read more here.)


  • Some critics have suggested President Obama is trying to accomplish too much too soon, but 55 percent of Americans think he is trying to accomplish the right amount. More do say the president is trying to accomplish too much (38 percent) than say too little (4 percent).



This poll was conducted among a random sample of 998 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 1-5, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


Original here

Report Calls CIA Detainee Treatment 'Inhuman'

Washington Post Staff Writers

Medical officers who oversaw interrogations of terrorism suspects in CIA secret prisons committed gross violations of medical ethics and in some cases essentially participated in torture, the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a confidential report that labeled the CIA program "inhuman."

Health personnel offered supervision and even assistance as suspected al-Qaeda operatives were beaten, deprived of food, exposed to temperature extremes and subjected to waterboarding, the relief agency said in the 2007 report, a copy of which was posted on a magazine Web site yesterday. The report quoted one medical official as telling a detainee: "I look after your body only because we need you for information."

New details about alleged CIA interrogation practices were contained in the 43-page volume written by ICRC officials who were given unprecedented access to the CIA's "high-value detainees" in late 2006. While excerpts of the report were leaked previously, the entire document was made public for the first time by author Mark Danner, a journalism professor, on the Web site of the New York Review of Books.

The confidential report sheds additional light on the CIA's handling of the detainees, who were held in secret overseas prisons for up to four years and subjected to what the agency describes as "enhanced interrogation techniques." In addition to widely reported methods such as waterboarding, the report alleges that several of the detainees were forced to stand for days in painful positions with their arms shackled overhead. One prisoner reported being shackled in this manner for "two to three months, seven days of prolonged stress standing followed by two days of being able to sit or lie down."

In addition to the coercive methods -- which the ICRC said "amounted to torture" and a violation of U.S. and international treaty obligations -- the report said detainees were routinely threatened with further violence against themselves and their families. Nine of the 14 prisoners said they were threatened with "electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and . . . being brought close to death," it said.

The ICRC report was based on accounts made separately to agency investigators by individual detainees, all of whom had been kept in isolation before the interviews, the document states. CIA officials have confirmed that three of the prisoners were subjected to waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

An ICRC spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the document and said the organization "deplores that what was to be a confidential report has been made public."

The CIA declined yesterday to comment on the report, citing the Red Cross's own policy of maintaining the confidentiality of its reports. But spokesman Mark Mansfield noted that the agency had long since ended the controversial interrogation program.

"Director [Leon] Panetta has taken decisive steps to ensure that the CIA abides by the president's executive orders. That means CIA will not use interrogation techniques outside the Army Field Manual," he said. He noted that Panetta also has stated repeatedly that "no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished."

Previously, top Bush administration officials defended the interrogation methods, saying they were legal and necessary to prevent terrorist attacks.

The report's release puts added pressure on the Obama administration, which has banned the use of waterboarding and similar techniques but has resisted calls to conduct legal inquiries to determine whether Bush administration officials broke laws.

The presence of medical personnel at CIA interrogation sites has been reported previously, but ICRC investigators found that their participation in some of the more harsh episodes to be a severe breach of medical ethics. The report said the officials were enlisted to ensure that the detainees did not die or suffer irreparable damage.

Original here

US confirms man plotted to kill Obama

US authorities confirmed that Turkish police have arrested a man who claims to have plotted to kill US President Barack Obama when he visited Turkey.

The Secret Service in Washington said Monday night that Turkish National Police arrested the man last Friday in Istanbul. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the president was never in any immediate danger, as Obama arrived in Turkey on Sunday, two days after the man's arrest.

As standard procedure involving a threat against the president overseas, the Secret Service is following up with Turkish authorities regarding the case and is not releasing any information about the suspect, Donovan said.

On Monday, the Saudi daily Al Watan reportedm that Turkish security services has arrested a man of Syrian descent who was planning to assassinate Obama during his trip to Turkey.

According to the report, the man, who was arrested on Friday, was carrying a press card identifying him as an employee of Al Jazeera. He reportedly confessed to his intention to stab Obama with a knife and said that he was aided by three accomplices.

The report stated that Turkish authorities were still unsure as to whether the press card was a fake or whether it had actually been issued the man by the Qatari news network.

Al-Jazeera's Ankara bureau chief, Yussef al-Sharif, told the paper that news of the suspected assassination plot had come as an utter surprise to the network's staff in Turkey, adding that all of Al-Jazeera's employees in the country claimed that they were not acquainted with the suspect.

Sharif said that the ID card had "most certainly" been forged.

He said that Turkish authorities knew all of the employees of Al-Jazeera's Ankara offices.

Original here

America’s New Marijuana Zeitgeist

Writing last week in Time.com, Joe Klein became the latest in a steady stream of media pundits to call for the legalization of marijuana (”Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense”). That’s right, ‘legalization’ — with an “L.”

While the notion of regulating the sale and consumption of cannabis for adults might still induce reflexive giggles from the Oval Office, the issue is no longer a laughing matter among the public.

Lawmakers in two states — California and Massachusetts– are debating the merits of taxing pot like alcohol, and a pair of recent polls indicate that Western voters endorse this proposal by a solid majority. According to statistician Nate Silver, national support for legalization could reach “supermajority” status in just over a decade!

Why this momentum now? Klein sums up three primary reasons.

1) Americans are spending billions in judicial resources arresting and prosecuting minor marijuana offenders; these monies could be better redirected elsewhere.

2) America is in the midst of an economic recession; taxing marijuana could decrease criminal justice costs, raise tax revenue, and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the involvement of drug cartels in the illicit marijuana trade.

3) The use of marijuana by adults is objectively less dangerous — both to the user and to society as a whole — than the consumption of alcohol. (Case in point: Drinking alcohol, even low to moderate amounts, was recently associated with elevated incidences of cancer, particularly among women. By contrast, a study published last week shows that cannabis kills malignant cancer cells.) It is illogical to endorse a public policy that arbitrarily prohibits the former while embracing the latter.

Of course, Klein is hardly the only mainstream pundit as of late to jump on the marijuana ‘legalization’ bandwagon.

In the past days, leading commentators like David Sirota, Kathleen Parker, Paul Jacob, Hendrik Hertzberg, Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald , Debra Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle), Leonard Pitts (Miami Herald), John Richardson (Esquire), and Margery Eagan (Boston Herald), have all opined in favor of regulating cannabis. In fact, Americans’ sudden support for legalization is even beginning to draw attention from those outside the United States.

As well it should be.

American’s support for marijuana law reform is fast approaching a tipping point — a scenario made all that more remarkable when one considers that the federal government has spent nearly seven decades propagandizing against it. Mainstream America is coming to terms with marijuana, and growing more and more dissatisfied with our nation’s failing pot policies. Writes Klein: “Obviously, marijuana can be abused. But the costs of criminalization have proved to be enormous, perhaps unsustainable. Would legalization be any worse?”

He’s no longer the only one asking.

Original here

Republican Caller Tells Limbaugh: "You're A Brainwashed Nazi" (AUDIO)

Jason Linkins

Media Monitor Cathy Talbot tipped us off to an on-air smackdown that transpired today between Rush Limbaugh and one of his callers, who criticized the talk radio host for hurting the Republican party's fortunes and supporting the practice of torture. The caller, Charles, identified himself as a Republican and a veteran, who "really didn't want to see Obama get in office." From there, he let loose, especially on the torture issue, telling Limbaugh, "We're not supposed to be torturing these people. This is not Nazi Germany, Red China, or North Korea." He then added, "I hate to say it...but I think you're a brainwashed Nazi."

This did not go over well, at all! Limbaugh shot back with a brainwashing accusation of his own, and blamed Charles and people like him for Obama winning the election. "I didn't vote for him," Charles protested, "I voted for McCain. I voted Republican." No matter. Rush signed off by saying, "Charles, Barack Obama is president of the United States today because of stupid, ignorant people who think like you do. You pose -- you and your ignorance are the most expensive commodity this country has."

Media Matters has the audio, so, judge for yourself:

[LISTEN.]

[TRANSCRIPT.]

LIMBAUGH: We're going to go to Chicago. This is Charles. Charles thank you for waiting and for calling. Great to have you here. Hello.


CALLER: Thanks Rush. Rush listen, I voted Republican and I really didn't want to see Obama get in office. But you know Rush, you're one reason to blame for this election, for the Republicans losing. First of all, you kept harping about voting for Hillary. The second big issue was the torture issue. I'm a veteran. We're not supposed to be torturing these people. This is not Nazi Germany, Red China, North Korea. There's other ways of interrogating people, and you just kept harping about, it's okay, or it's not really torture. And it was just more than waterboarding. Some of these prisoners will killed under torture.

And it was crazy for you to go on and on like Levin and Hannity and Hewitt. It's like you're all brainwashed. And my last comment is, no matter what Obama does, you will still criticize him because I believe you are brainwashed. You're just -- and I hate to say it -- but I think you're a brainwashed Nazi. Anyone who can believe in torture has got to be -- there has got to be something wrong with them.

LIMBAUGH: You know --

CALLER: And I know Bush wanted to keep us safe and all of that but we're not supposed to be torturing these people.

LIMBAUGH: Charles, if anybody is admitting that they are brainwashed it would be you.

CALLER: No, no, Rush. I don't think so. You, Hannity, and Levin are all brainwashed --

LIMBAUGH: Charles, you said at the beginning of your phone call that you didn't want Obama in there. But you voted for him because of me.

CALLER: I didn't vote for him. I voted for McCain. I voted Republican.

LIMBAUGH: Oh, so you're saying I turned people off --

CALLER: You turned people off with all this vote for Hillary and all this BS.

LIMBAUGH: That was Operation Chaos. That was to keep the chaos in the Democrat primaries --

CALLER: It didn't work and what we have with you Hannity Levin and Hewitt is sour grapes. That's all we have. And believe me, I'm not -- I'm more to the right than I am to the left.

LIMBAUGH: Oh, of course you are.

CALLER: I am.

LIMBAUGH: Of course you are. You wouldn't be calling here with all of these sour grapes if you weren't.

CALLER: Well I'm tired of listening to go on and on with this --

LIMBAUGH: I don't know of anybody who died from torture.

CALLER: We're not supposed to torture people. Do you remember World War II, the Nazis? The Nuremburg trials?

LIMBAUGH: Charles, Barack Obama --

CALLER: What's the matter with you? You never even served in the military. I served in the Marine Corps and the Army.

LIMBAUGH: Charles, Barack Obama is president of the United States today because of stupid, ignorant people who think like you do. You pose - you and your ignorance are the most expensive commodity this country has. You think you know everything. You don't know diddly squat. You call me a Nazi? You call me someone who supports torture and you want credibility on this program? You're just plan embarrassing and ludicrous. But it doesn't surprise me that you're the kind of Republican that our last candidate attracted. Because you're no Republican at all based on what the hell you just said right here.

So, military service and opposition to things like torture and juvenile primary season stunts are values that lie outside Limbaugh's definition of "Republican." Good to know, I guess!

Send us tips! Write us at tv@huffingtonpost.com if you see any newsworthy or notable TV moments. Read more about our media monitoring project here and click here to join the Media Monitors team.

Original here


Why Marijuana Legalization is Gaining Momentum

Back in February, we detailed how record numbers of Americans -- although certainly not yet a majority -- support the idea of legalizing marijuana. It turns out that there may be a simple explanation for this: an ever-increasing fraction of Americans have used pot at some point in their lifetimes. The following chart details marijuana usage rates by age as determined from a 2007 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:



The peak time for pot usage occurs at or about age 20 -- a period known to most of us as "college" -- before declining fairly rapidly throughout one's 20s and then plateauing from roughly age 30 through age 50.

More important to the policy debate, however, may be the fraction of adults who have used marijuana at any point in their lifetimes. This is a dual-peaked distribution, with one peak occurring among adults who are roughly age 50 now, and would have come of age in the 1970s, and another among adults in their early 20s. Generation X, meanwhile, in spite of its reputation for slackertude, were somewhat less eager consumers of pot than the generations either immediately preceding or proceeding them.

The key feature of this distribution is how rapidly lifetime usage rates decline after about age 55 or so. About half of 55-year-olds have used marijuana at some point in their lives, but only about 20 percent of 65-year-olds have.

There is not, of course, a one-to-one correspondence between having used marijuana and supporting its legalization; one can plausibly support its legalization without having ever inhaled, or vice versa. Nevertheless, I would venture that the correlation is fairly strong, and polls have generally found a fairly strong generation gap when it comes to pot legalization. As members of the Silent Generation are replaced in the electorate by younger voters, who are more likely to have either smoked marijuana themselves or been around those that have, support for legalization is likely to continue to gain momentum.


Original here

Economist: US collapse driven by 'fraud'; Geithner covering up bank insolvency

Stephen C. Webster

In an explosive interview on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, William K. Black, a professor of economics and law with the University of Missouri, alleged that American banks and credit agencies conspired to create a system in which so-called "liars loans" could receive AAA ratings and zero oversight, amounting to a massive "fraud" at the epicenter of US finance.

But worse still, said Black, Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's Secretary of the Treasury, is currently engaged in a cover-up to keep the truth of America's financial insolvency from its citizens.

The interview, which aired Friday night, is carried on the Bill Moyers Journal Web site.

Black's most recent published work, "The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One," released in 2005, was hailed by Nobel-winning economist George A. Akerlof as "extraordinary."

"There is no one else in the whole world who understands so well exactly how these lootings occurred in all their details and how the changes in government regulations and in statutes in the early 1980s caused this spate of looting," he wrote. "This book will be a classic."

But that book only covers the fallout from the 1980s Savings & Loan crisis; Black's later first-hand involvement in that scandal being the ensuing liquidation of bad banks.

"A single bank, IndyMac, lost more money than the entire Savings and Loan Crisis," reported PBS. "The difference between now and then, explains Black, is a drastic reduction in regulation and oversight, 'We now know what happens when you destroy regulation. You get the biggest financial calamity of anybody under the age of 80.'"

That financial calamity, he explained, was brought about not by mishap or accident, but only after a concerted effort to undermine and remove all regulations, allowing a creditor free-for-all that hinged on fraudulent risk ratings for bad loans.

"[T]he way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better," he told Moyers. "Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you're a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there's going to be a disaster down the road.

"...This stuff, the exotic stuff that you're talking about was created out of things like liars' loans, that were known to be extraordinarily bad," he continued. "And now it was getting triple-A ratings. Now a triple-A rating is supposed to mean there is zero credit risk. So you take something that not only has significant, it has crushing risk. That's why it's toxic. And you create this fiction that it has zero risk. That itself, of course, is a fraudulent exercise. And again, there was nobody looking, during the Bush years. So finally, only a year ago, we started to have a Congressional investigation of some of these rating agencies, and it's scandalous what came out. What we know now is that the rating agencies never looked at a single loan file. When they finally did look, after the markets had completely collapsed, they found, and I'm quoting Fitch, the smallest of the rating agencies, "the results were disconcerting, in that there was the appearance of fraud in nearly every file we examined."

He equated the entire US financial system to a giant "ponzi scheme" and charged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, like Secretary Henry Paulson before him, of "covering up" the truth.

"Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?" asked Moyers.

"Absolutely, because they are scared to death," he said. "All right? They're scared to death of a collapse. They're afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we'll run screaming to the exits. And we won't rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you can rely on deposit insurance. And it's foolishness. All right? Now, it may be worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are sincerely just panicked about, 'We just can't let the big banks fail.' That's wrong."

Ultimately, said Black, the financial downfall of the United States in the wake of the Bush years is due to "the most elite institutions in America engaging in or facilitating fraud."

"When will Americans wake up and hold the real criminals - Banksters - accountable for their actions, and pressure the government to enact systemic changes to prevent future abuses?" asked Huffington Post blogger Mike Garibaldi-Frick.

The full interview can be viewed on-line.

Original here